Monday, December 26, 2016


We all know that Christmas is about the birth of Christ and when you think about it's only fitting  that in just a few days  we will celebrate the coming of a new year.

My friend always uses the example of a dog walking up out of a pond.

You know what she means, you've seen it, they come up out of the pond and they start shaking all that old water off.

Do you know how many times putting off the old or being made new, or starting over is mentioned in the Bible?

Neither do I.

But I know it's a lot.

I'll list just a few so that you get the idea.

Ezekiel 36:26  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here.

Ephesians 4:24 To be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self.

Don't we all want a new start?

Don't we want the chance feel clean and fresh?

Have you ever wanted to do like that old dog and just step out  and shake off all that's sticking to you?

Wouldn't it be nice to go outside and give a sling, to all of that stuff that's clung to you over the past year and keeps you weighed down?

When Jesus came, he came into a broken, hurting world and he came to bring healing and that's what he still does.

He has countless offers in his Word about taking the old and making it new.

Makeover's originated with God and not HGTV

Every year I open the windows when I take the tree down.

I don't care how cold out it is, I open the windows.

It's a symbolic thing for me.

You know how clean and cold fresh winter air is?

It's different than any other kind of air.

I want to breath in that cold, crisp air while I take down the tree, it's like I'm taking down the old and putting on the new.

As good as Christmas was, it's gone now.

Now I want to move on to the new.

I open the living room window by the tree and walk across the floor to the kitchen and open the windows over the sink and it creates the perfect cross breeze, it comes in, and it goes out and I love it.

I need it.

It's a wonderful thing to celebrate the birth of Christ, and then to turn right around and celebrate a new beginning because that's what he is all about.

Remember how the book of Isaiah says, "by his wounds we are healed'?

Well one thing it's saying is, yes we can have physical healing but more often than not we need emotional healing.

We can come abused, mistreated  and broken or we can come as one who has, abused, mistreated and broken others and we can "shake it all off."

We can be made new.

Don't take the new year coming so closely after Christmas for granted.

Take it as a message.

Take it as a sign to climb up out of the pond and walk up on the bank and shake, shake, shake and then shake again.

Just get rid of it all.

Try the open the window thing......  let in new life and opportunity.

As you take the ornaments off the tree and as you feel the crisp air on your face and breath in the new remind yourself of this....

"I have come so that they may have life; and have it to the full." John 10:10

Now make it personal, say, "He has come that I may have life; and have it to the full"

It only makes sense that before you can have something to the full you have to have something to put it in.

You have to get rid of all the old stuff that keeps crowding out the new and this applies to our lives and emotions as surely as it applies to our homes or closets or anything else.

So go ahead, see that old dog in your mind and follow his example, step out and shake and if that still isn't enough then open those windows and breath deep

Make it not only a Happy New Year but make it a Happy New You!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Cookie Baking Tips

You all are just the sweetest!

Even when I post a picture of a sheet of burned to a crisp cookies you still message me with cookie baking questions.

Thank you for having mercy on me and believing in me.

This will be a simple list of cookie baking tips.

Accurate measurements are a must!

Don't guess or hurry.

To much flour will make the cookies dry.

Use the correct ingredients.

Most cookie recipes call for all purpose flour, even if it doesn't say that unless it says otherwise that's what it usually means.

If it calls for softened butter, then soften it.

The best way to do that is to set the butter out several hours before you are going to make the cookies. You can soften it in the microwave but remember, it calls for softened butter, not melty butter, so be careful.

When the recipe says, cream until light and fluffy, that's what it means, it will make a difference in the end product.

It's going to take longer than you think.

Several minutes, keep  mixing and you will see the butter and sugar getting fluffier. don't hurry past this step.

If the cookie dough needs to be chilled than you need to chill it.

It will make all the difference if you follow the directions.

Different shortening or fats will make your cookies spread differently.

If they go way flat, you might have went to heavy on your fat or you might have been to stingy with your flour, remember, measure, measure, measure.

If they go to flat, you might try adding a little more flour in to the dough before you bake the next bunch.  Take it slow, a little at a time, don't be heavy handed, you can't take out but you can add.

Preheat your oven unless the recipe says something different.

Keep the cookies all the same size when you are putting them on the baking sheet. This is important, they all need to get done at the same time.

Set the timer but remember, every oven is different, you might need to add a few minutes or take a few away depending on how your oven bakes.

Always start with the lowest baking time given, you can add more but if you go to far, there is no redeeming a burned cookie, ask me how I know.

The cookies will continue baking even after you remove them from the oven.

They won't get browner of course but they will continue to cook on the inside.

The general rule is, for chewy cookies leave them to cool on the sheets for at least three minutes, if you want a crispy cookie remove them after about a minute.

If you find yourself in about half way and you are over the cookie baking thing, you can put the cookie dough in a freezer container and freeze it until next time.

Truth be told, most of us get over it about half way through, feel no shame about that.

You can store cookies in air tight container, or a zip lock bag or a cookie jar or freeze them of just eat them.

They store really well.

This is a side note, it has nothing to do with cookies but when we were talking about softening the butter I had a thought.

When you are making something that calls for cream cheese and it says soften the cream cheese, it's so important that you do that.

Have you ever tried to make a dessert with cream cheese and it had little lumps in it.

Lumps you just couldn't get out.

That was because you didn't soften the cream cheese.

For smooth creamy cream cheese you have got to soften it.

It won't hurt it all if you set it out early in the morning and leave it out all day.

It will be perfect to use after six or eight hours.

Now  when you go to a dinner..... and someone has lumps of cream cheese  in their dessert..... the challenge will be..... not to have cream cheese softening knowledge pride.

Remember, we've all had lumps in our cream cheese at one time of the other.

Enjoy your holiday baking !!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How to Help Yourself and Your Children Find Christ in Christmas

If you are looking for something fun to do with your kids or grandkids this Christmas or if you are wanting to find a way  to keep the real meaning of Christmas, then go get your Bible.

God has given us a whole bunch of examples of things we can do and learn.

Open your Bible to the Christmas Story, you will find it in Matthew and Luke.

The Christmas story is full of angels.

Make angle cookies, make paper angels.

Find scriptures about angels.

Did you know that contrary to what people say, we don't become angels when we die?

God created the angels and he created men, we are two different creations.

There was a bright light that shone around the angels when Jesus was born.

Jesus is called the light of the world.

Shut all the lights off in the house and talk about how dark it is.

Have the kids try and do something that would be easy to do in the light but difficult in the dark.

Then turn on the light, they will see how much easier life is when we walk in the light.

When we can see we make less mistakes and things are so much better.

Even a difficult thing is easier when we see clearly.

That's how it is when Jesus is in our lives. It doesn't mean we won't ever have to go through a difficult time but it does mean we will be able to see our way through because of him.

Make it a night of candles or lamps, remember the Bible says God's word is a, "lamp" unto our path.

That means God's word will show us the way, when it's dark and we might otherwise stumble we can be sure footed when we walk with God.

From now on when they see candles in the window at Christmas or lights on the tree they will think of God.

What else is in that story?

Shepherds, shepherds and sheep.

You can make sheep and shepherds.

You can get a nativity scene and let them play with it.

Find the places in the Bible that talk about how Jesus is the Good Shepherd, John 10.

When you are making sheep with cotton balls or cookie dough talk about the way sheep are.

Talk about how sheep don't always know what to do and they need the shepherd to care for them

Relate that to us and how we need Jesus and his word to guide us.

You can make stars or buy star ornaments like the one that came and stopped over baby Jesus.

In the book of Revelation, in chapter 22, Jesus refers to himself as the bright and morning star.

Look at the gifts under the tree.

Talk about the greatest gift, the gift of salvation, the gift of God's Son.

Read about the wisemen bringing gifts.

The Bible never says there were only three wisemen, it just mentions three gifts so people started saying there were three wisemen.

Show the kids that, let them see how important it is that they read and study the Bible for themselves and not to just believe what others say. Read what it really says.

God told us to "study and show ourselves approved."  2 Timothy.

Shut off all the lights save the lights on the tree, sit around the tree and sing songs, hymns of Christmas and if one of the kids ask to sing Rudlolf, don't stress over it, sing it and have fun, after all God made the reindeer didn't he?

We should always keep our Bibles nearby but this is the time of year every mother needs it really close.

We have a lot of teaching to do and the Bible is the perfect curriculum.

Open it up, you will find lots of life lessons, lots of fun and memory making.

You will see how true God is to his word.

Nothing is just happenstance with God, nothing is just random, every word has a purpose and leads to another purpose until it all comes together in perfect unity.

It's amazing how many of the things that are in the story of Christ's birth continue on throughout the Bible.

He is the Lamb of God,

He is the Great Shepherd and we are his flock.

There was a great star and he tells us he is the bright and morning star.

It goes on and on.

This is just a small sampling.

You will find much more when you start looking.

Get your Bible, read it for yourself and be amazed at Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ten Words Every Child or Spouse or Friend Needs to Hear

Parenting is the easiest job in the world, it's a no brainer, you know exactly what to do.....and then you become a parent.

Suddenly all that stuff you knew, you forget.

Or, you find out it's hard to carry through with it even if it is the right thing to do.

 When you were thinking about it before you had a child, it was easy to be tough or soft or say it just right. But now, now there is a real child and they're part of you and it's not so easy anymore.

Fred A. Hartley has a wonderful thought on raising kids.

The great thing is, it works even after they have been raised, you know that time of life when you see what all you did wrong.

This idea will even work in your marriage relationship, it works with co-workers and church friends and neighbors, well it just plain works with every relationship you have.

It works because it reaches out to us in the perfect way, it reaches a deep need that each of us has.

The idea didn't originate with Fred, he got it from God, the thing is Fred was smart enough to see what God did and to take a hold of it and put it into practice.

God is so complex,,, he is so other than, he is so far beyond us and yet he gives us direction in the most simplest of ways.

If you have a Bible get it.

Now find the book of Mark.

Its in the New Testament, it goes,  Matthew, Mark.......

For now go to Mark chapter 9 and then find verse 7.

Look at the last ten words in that verse.

This is what they say, this is what God says about his son. "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him."

Seems simple doesn't it?

God not only was encouraging his Son, he was giving us a lesson about children and it doesn't matter the age of our children.  They will respond to this no matter how old they are.

You see  when we think about it, we all have three basic needs.

We need acceptance.

We need affection.

We need affirmation.

God hit all three of those and he did it with ten words.

"This is my son."........acceptance

"Whom I love.".........affection

:"Listen to him"........affirmation, (he is worth listening to)

Who but God could take something as huge as parenting and something as big as the needs of a child, grown or not, and sum it up like that.

So for today, don't worry about getting it all right, you won't, and even if you do, tomorrow you will mess up.

Take it from a mother of four, I got more wrong than I got right...I can only imagine the stories my kids can tell their spouses about me.

But I'm not going to camp there, I'm going to acknowledge what I do and what I did and then I'm going to take these verses and live in them.

I'm going to try and see each person I'm around through the lense of this verse.

I want each person I am with to know that I accept them, that I love them and that I have think they are of value.

Somehow when God puts it out there for us like this, when he puts it in ten little words it makes a parent or a spouse feel empowered.

We don't have to feel overwhelmed or defeated, that was never God's intent.

All he has for us to do is apply these ten words to everyone we meet today.

I'm so excited.

I can do it and you can too!!!

God has shown us how, he left the plan, he lived the example so let's get busy, times a wastin and there is a world of people who need love.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Grandma Money's Orange Slice Cake

Here's the recipe for Grandma Money's Orange Slice Cake.
This is a heavy cake, it has a fruit cake type texture only it's better.

I really do think if you like orange slice candy you will like this cake.

Make sure you grease and flour your tube pan really really well or you will have a terrible time getting it out of the pan, ask me how I know?

You might even take to making it in an angel food cake pan, sometimes it's easier to handle than a tube pan, especially a fluted tube pan.

The original recipe calls for letting it set in the fridge overnight before you serve it, Grandma said a week or more.

To my way of thinking she is right, it only improves with time.

So are you ready?  Here we go.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 lb. orange slice candy, chopped, buy more for the eating you will need to do while chopping.
1 (8 oz.) chopped dates, pitted
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 can flaked coconut, you can used bagged, I did.
1 cup butter, real butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups powered sugar
1 cup orange juice


Sift flour and salt together.

Combine the fruit with 1/2 cup of the flour. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, Beat well after each addition.

Combine the soda and the buttermilk.

Add to the creamed mixture alternating with the flour mixture
Blend well after each addition.

Stir in the candy, fruit and nut mixture, mix well.

Bake in a well, well, well, greased and floured tube pan at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Now look close....that says, remove from oven, don't see, remove from pan. Leave it in the pan.


Slowly pour the one cup of orange juice into the two cups of powdered sugar, mix until smooth.
Pour over the cake while it's still hot.

Store in fridge overnight or like Grandma says, one week is best.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie

I found this recipe in an old USDA cookbook.

It was old when I got it, or it looked old anyway and that's been 25 years or more ago so now it's really old.

I saw this recipe and tried it, and it's always been my favorite ever since.

Mark's mom, makes this now too and she sometimes makes it ahead and freezes it and takes it out as she needs it.

I never do that because we always want it right now but it's a good idea and one you might want to try.

So here's the recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie

3 TBSP. butter, always use real butter, salted real butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk, (sometimes if I've got it I'll use half and half)
1 1/2 salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 3/4 cooked carrots, peas and potatoes
1 unbaked pie crust, top and bottom crust

Melt butter, stir in flour, salt and pepper, add broth and milk, stirring constantly until it bubbles and thickens.
Add well drained chicken and veg. Pour into a lined pie plate, deep dish,  cover with  a top crust, seal edges and slit top.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is hot.

I always double the recipe and put it in a 9x13 baking dish, I double everything but the salt, I hold back a little on it, you can just add a little at a time until you think you got it right. Or come to think of it...if you decide to go ahead and use the unsalted butter you might be able to go all the way with

Of course you can use store bought crust and canned or frozen mixed veggies, I've used canned chicken when I've been in a hurry, it isn't as good but it's still good. You could also get one of those rotisserie chickens at the store and tear it up.

What I'm saying is you can take a lot of short cuts with this but don't take one with the filling, the rich filling is where the flavor is.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Married Names...They Matter

Olivia was talking about getting her name changed now that she is married.

You know what,  there is a lot to that, and I don't just mean a lot of red tape I mean there is a lot of meaning and honor to it.

This isn't a post about the right or the wrong of changing your name when you are  married it's just my take on it.

A name is a  huge thing.

I mean look at all the time and thought people put into picking a name for their child.

Last names mean a lot too.

We all know the thoughts we have when we hear someone's last name.

An image, good or bad comes to our mind.

We wonder if they are related to the Gray's that we know,  and so we say, who are your parents or we say are you related, to Mark or Kelly or whoever?

Whenever Mark does a wedding ceremony he always  mentions the fact that the groom is giving his bride his name.

He says it's one of the greatest things he can offer her.

Isn't that so true?

Your name is one of the most valuable things you own and to trust someone else with it s a great risk so when he offers it he is showing you how much he trusts you and he really is paying you a great honor.

I know it's becoming popular for girls to keep their last name and I'm not here to say they shouldn't do that, but I'll tell you why I'm glad I took Mark's name.

First of all
 in the Bible, names were a huge deal.

They meant a lot.

Now what I'm about to say you are going to have to have some grace on me with, I'm no Bible scholar and I'm not saying this is what the text is saying, I'm just saying it's one of the things that popped into my mind when I read it.

In Luke chapter 16 we read the well known story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

I always think about how Lazarus had a name but the rich man didn't.

I mean he had one but it isn't given.

I thought about how the Bible says that those that belong to Christ have their name written in the Lambs Book of Life.

I always wonder if the reason the rich man's name wasn't given, is because it wasn't written.

Can you imagine what it's going to be like to hear your name called on that great day and it's not going to matter if there are ten thousand other Kelly Gray's, I have a feeling I'm going to know when it's me.

Names mean everything, they did then and they do now, so that's one reason I think names are of great value but there are more reasons than that.

Another reason I'm glad I took his name when he offered it, is because it made us the same.

I know we live in a time when we are so encouraged to go after our dreams, to be all we want to be and we're told not to let marriage get in the way.  We're told that a strong marriage made up of two independent, capable, confident people can both seek their own dream and should be able to wind up at the same destination.

That might sound good in theory and it might work occasionally but it isn't the norm.

For two people to wind up in the same place they have to have the same destination in mind.

They are going to have to have the same dream to start with or someone is going to have to catch the vision of the other one, then they are going to have to buckle down and start the journey.

Sharing a name is a precious thing.

It connects you.

Before you got married did you sit and write what your new last name would be?

 I did, I wrote Kelly Gray....... I wrote Mrs. Mark  Gray..... I wrote Mr and Mrs Mark Gray.

I wanted to be Kelly Gray.

I wanted to build a name with him.

So back to what Mark says at weddings, when  a man offers you his name,  he is offering you the most valuable thing he has.

It's worth more than  diamonds, or houses or farms.

So when he offers it to you, take it, and value it,  protect it and make it all it can be, because he can pay you no greater honor.

It's not about him being more than you or better than you it's about you being one with him and it's a beautiful thing and you don't want to miss it.