Saturday 28 December 2013

Now that Christmas is Over...

I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of timing thinking/planning/anticipating Christmas in the month(s) leading up to it.  I put in lots of effort picking out or making presents I hope people will love.  I put up decorations and bake up a storm throughout the month of December.  I come up with a game plan for having all my ducks in a row for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day - which presents come to which family gathering, what food prep needs to be done on what day - etc.

And then we get to December 27th and it's all over.  The presents have been opened, the food has been eaten, and you feel like you need a day to recover from the holiday!  What comes of all the planning?
(photo credit)

This year I memorized Zechariah's prophecy from Luke 1:68-79, which reads:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
 for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
 in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
 and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
 and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
 for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
 in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
 whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
 to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The truths that come as a result of Christ's birth don't just apply in the month of December , they last all year long.  
All year long, Christ redeems His people.
All year long, we are to serve Him with holiness and righteousness.
All year long, when we fall terribly short of what he desires, he forgives us because of His tender mercy.
All year long he gives light to our paths and guides our feet in the ways of peace.

If Christmas for you seems to simply end in December, remember these truths.  Pick up a Bible and read the Gospel of Luke with new eyes.  Pray to the God who created you to show you what He has done for you in sending His son to live on this earth as a man.  Put your trust in Jesus Christ, who through his death and resurrection broke the bonds of sin and death and can give even you new life.

Merry Christmas!

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Thursday 19 December 2013

Is there Too Much on your To-Do list?!

A good friend of mine recently told me she was often overwhelmed with too much to do, and wondered how I say no - and keep my agenda sane!  I can't say I ever thought of myself as especially good at this, but as I thought about it throughout the day - I realized there are a few measures I take so that my priorities stay straight.

Since I suspect we aren't the only two ladies who struggle with this - I thought I'd share my thoughts here as well.  Feel free to chime in with your advice in the comments.

  1. I generally check with Andrew before I take on something new and ask him if he thinks it would be a good idea.  He is much better than I am at knowing if I'm taking on too much.  In addition, I want to make sure I'm doing things that he feels are good for our family (and he's happy for me to do many things simply because I enjoy them too!).

  2. I try and make myself weekly and/or daily to-do lists.  Usually I make a week at a glance schedule (I just map it out on a notecard), so I know what events I have, and then also a list of things I want to get done that week.  Then I slot those things into the gaps in the days where I am not out - trying to leave time on Thurs or Friday to just do the things I haven't finished from earlier in the week.  Andrew and I will often go through our "to do" lists for the week or day in the morning or on Monday to see what the other wants to accomplish and to hear it ourselves too. We also share a Google Calendar, so we can put events on there and the other easily sees them - this is important for us because we are really good at forgetting!

  3. We have a "family vision" document which Andrew tries to have us go through once every few weeks which has the larger goals we want to accomplish, as well as bigger scale practical items.  This helps me have a picture of what is important for me to be spending my time on and to prioritize.  This is really great because if what you're doing looks different than what other mom's are focusing on, you have an understanding of why that is - it is about the vision of YOUR family - not anyone else's!

  4. Andrew never minds if I "blame" him for having to turn something down.  We got this wonderful idea from a wise married couple we are friends with.  It seems men are less likely to care what others think than we are - so if it is easier to say "Oh, I just can't take that on - my husband thinks I've got too much already" or "My husband would rather I spend my time on ____.", than check with your husband and see if you can "blame" him too!  (Just don't do it in a complain-y sort of way - its a blessing to have your husband watching out for you!)

As you can see, most of my success in managing my time and priorities well comes from consulting my husband.  You are a team (Matt. 19:5)!  And also, you are his helper (Genesis 2:18) - so don't be afraid to ask him how he'd like you to be spending your time!  I think you'll be surprised how much this one little step can make a world of a difference.

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Monday 9 December 2013

As-Good-As-Lasagna Eggplant Parmesan!

During the summer, my mother-in-law's garden was overflowing with eggplant and one evening she decided to make Eggplant Parmesan. We couldn't BELIEVE how good it was.  Thanks to her generosity, and it being my new favourite meal, we had it quite a bit throughout the late summer and into the fall.

It's a great recipe to make if you have a vegetarian friend coming over, OR if you just want a delicious meal!  We always ate ours right away, but apparently they do freeze well.

All you need is two eggplants, any kind of tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan:
  1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise (so you have long strips, not circular pieces).  Try to slice them pretty thin.
  2. Dip a slice in flour, then whisked eggs, then bread crumbs. 
  3. Fry about 4 minutes each side.  You want them to be fairly soft after this.  (You can bake them for a healthier option).
  4. I continued to do the above with all the eggplants while I assembled the casserole as described below.
  5. Tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. (In the above photo I did two 9x9 pans.)
  6. Then repeat: a layer of eggplant pieces, tomato sauce on top, sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella (I think I did three layers).  I ended with the cheese but did more mozzarella on the very top than I had inbetween layers.
  7. I didn't layer the eggplant pieces in the same place, which you could do if you wanted to be able to take out a single eggplant portion.  I figured I would try and make more of a solid eggplant casserole and cut it into servings, which seemed to work.
  8. Bake it for around 30 minutes at 350F.  I then broiled it a couple minutes at the end to get the cheese a little crispy.
Watch in wonder as people exclaim over the deliciousness! :)

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