Happy New Year, Friends! May the God of all hope fill you with peace as you trust in Him.
My grandmother has to be one of the greatest cooks I know. Born and raised in Louisiana, she has an appreciation for all things Cajun. This dish is no exception, with its crunchy praline-crusted exterior and a warm, melt-in-your-mouth interior. Being that it is my all-time favorite Thanksgiving side, I had to share the recipe with my friends. ~ Hannah
My daughter, Hannah, posted my mamma’s famous Praline Sweet Potato Casserole on her blog last year. Nothing says Thanksgiving around our house like this delicious dish. Wander on over. Click here to check it out http://www.thelavenderjar.com/
Just in case you’re having trouble finding the recipe, here you go! Combine these ingredients and mix well and pour into a 3 qt. dish: 3 -cups mashed sweet potatoes, 3 -eggs, beaten, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1-cup sugar, 1/3 cup milk, 1-tsp. vanilla -Now, for the topping, mix these ingredients together and sprinkle over top: 2 1/2 Tbs. melted butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar,1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup chopped pecans – bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Enjoy!
This beautiful woman, Lori Roberson, sent this picture to me. Her husband snapped this shot and, I must confess, I am more than a little envious. A brilliant October day surrounded by a tranquil sea, a secluded beach, and sugar white sands. What more could you ask for?
For some reason, fiction hit on the meaning of life so much more concisely than real life itself did.”
― Elin Hilderbrand
SO very honored and grateful to have been selected to appear in this years SHOALS WOMAN MAGAZINE.
Specials thanks to author advocate, Sandi Hendricks, feature writer, Anna Brown, and photographer, Allison Carter. Courtesy of Times Daily.
There was a front-page article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a metro-transit operator named Linda Wilson-Allen. She loves the people who ride her bus. She knows the regulars. She learns their names. She will wait for them if they’re late and then make up the time later on her route.
A woman in her eighties named Ivy had some heavy grocery bags and was struggling with them. So Linda got out of her bus driver’s seat to carry Ivy’s grocery bags onto the bus. Now Ivy lets other buses pass her stop so she can ride on Linda’s bus.
Linda saw a woman named Tanya in a bus shelter. She could tell Tanya was new to the area. She could tell she was lost. It was almost Thanksgiving, so Linda said to Tanya, “You’re out here all by yourself. You don’t know anybody. Come on over for Thanksgiving and kick it with me and the kids.” Now they’re friends.
The reporter who wrote the article rides Linda’s bus every day. He said Linda has built such a little community of blessing on that bus that passengers offer Linda the use of their vacation homes. They bring her potted plants and floral bouquets. When people found out she likes to wear scarves to accessorize her uniforms, they started giving them as presents to Linda. …
Think about what a thankless task driving a bus can look like in our world: cranky passengers, engine breakdowns, traffic jams, gum on the seats. You ask yourself, How does she have this attitude? “Her mood is set at 2:30 a.m. when she gets down on her knees to pray for 30 minutes,” the Chronicle states. “‘There is a lot to talk about with the Lord,’ says Wilson-Allen, a member of Glad Tidings Church in Hayward.”
When she gets to the end of her line, she always says, “That’s all. I love you. Take care.” Have you ever had a bus driver tell you, “I love you”? People wonder, Where can I find the Kingdom of God? I will tell you where. You can find it on the #45 bus riding through San Francisco. People wonder, Where can I find the church? I will tell you. Behind the wheel of a metro transit vehicle.
We invited Linda to speak at our church. People with all kinds of Silicon Valley dreams were inspired to standing ovations by a woman who drives a bus. They stood in line by the dozens afterward to talk with her. For the door on the #45 bus opens into the Kingdom of God.
John Ortberg, All the Places to Go (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015), pp. 70-72.
By way of www.philipyancey.com
“To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face;
to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains;
to approach my work with a clean mind;
to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things,
the ultimate purpose toward which I am working;
to meet people with laughter on my lips and love in my heart;
to be gentle, kind and courteous through all the hours;
to approach the night with a weariness that ever woos sleep and
the joy that comes from work well done…
this is how I desire to use wisely my days.”
– Author Unknown
“Jesus never commanded believers to produce fruit. The fruit is the *purpose* of the branch, but it is not the *responsibility* of the branch. The branch cannot produce anything on its own. However, if it remains attached to the vine, it will receive life-sustaining sap, nourishment, strength, everything it needs.”
― Charles R. Swindoll
Abide in the vine–stay fruitful!
We listen too much to the telephone and we listen too little to nature. The wind is one of my sounds. A lonely sound, perhaps, but soothing. Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for—sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive, or quiet and calm… As a matter of fact, one of the greatest sounds of them all—and to me it is a sound—is utter, complete silence. ~André Kostelanetz
Encouraging Words…Improve The World
He was a poor wretch of a little boy who didn’t seem to have a change. His dad was in debtor’s prison, he’d only gotten to go to school for four years, and he was often hungry. As a young man, he went to work in a rat-infested warehouse putting labels on bottles. He found lodging in a drafty attic room with two other boys from the slums of London.
But he wanted to write. He mailed his first manuscript in the middle of the night so no one would laugh at him, and story after story came back to him, rejected. Finally, when his first story got accepted, he was paid nothing. But the editor praised his work. The young man was so overjoyed he wept. That one bit of encouragement changed his whole life. He wrote with even greater desire and enthusiasm.
Without that editor’s few words of praise the young man might have stayed in the dark factories, and the world would have been much poorer for lack of his writings. The boy’s name was Charles Dickens.
~ Cheri Fuller
Sing in the Shower
Research suggests that singing registers pleasure in your brain – so bust out the tunes on karaoke night, or in the shower if you don’t have Mariah Carey vocals!
Love Your Pet
Studies show that people with pets have a better life quality than those who don’t! Petting your dog for as little as 15 minutes a day can release the feel-good hormone serotonin and lower your stress.
Giving back makes you feel better – emotionally and physically. Volunteer at a shelter or sign up for a cause you are passionate about.
Get Some Fresh Air
Scientists have found that a mere 30 minutes in the sun can boost your mood. Even if it’s cloudy – fresh air is still quite refreshing.
We know – you have a million things you have got to get done, even on the weekends. But a few extra hours of sleep boosts your mood, sharpens your mind and improves your memory!
Participants in a study became more cheerful when they distracted themselves by creating art that expressed their negative feelings. Draw something or start writing in a journal!
The secret to a longer life is a happier life, and it’s easy to do little things to brighten up your mood! After all, you deserve it.
*Taken from Lifecell. This article came to me by way of an email. I thought I’d share it with you!
Whenever I find an interesting article I usually save it. This is one of those clippings. I think I’ll share these four basic ways of being more graceful.
Let’s start with, Treat Yourself.
“Living in today’s high-tech, the high-speed world is more than challenging-sometimes, it can be overwhelming.
Yet some people seem to glide through life. They have a style and grace that we admire and desire.
If you resolve to find a way to add a bit more peace, beauty, and kindness to your life, you might want to start with how you approach each day.
Being graceful can be broken down into four basics: the way you move, communicate, treat others and yourself. By paying attention to simple behaviors you, too, can be an admired, graceful being. And you just might see more of the best side of other people.
Treat Yourself with grace.
This is an internal and external exercise. Idea: Surround yourself with beauty. It may seem trivial, but having beautiful things around you can lift your spirit.
Try this: Every week, bring in a vase of fresh flowers for your desk, or a less expensive option-play soothing music in your home or office.
By adding beauty and grace to your life, you are sending the message, “I am a different kind of person, the kind you’ll want to know, the kind I’m proud to be.”
Treat Everyone as Extraordinary
By paying attention to little details, you send a big message. “You are important.” And everybody wants to feel important.
Idea: Take five minutes and send someone a handwritten note. Buy a roll of stamps and three boxes of note cards; put a box in your desk, briefcase and car. If you send one card per day for a year, you’ll make 365 people feel special. Your goal is to catch people doing things right and to acknowledge them. Be honest and sincere. It might be as simple as Dear Sarah, I’m so proud that you’re my daughter. Love, Dad. So how long did this take? Ten seconds? Imagine the impact that little note could have on a father-daughter relationship. Worth the effort? You bet.
Move More Slowly
You may think that moving slower is impossible, that it goes against all the pushes and pulls being made on you.
Consider: Moving slower will set you apart from the crowd and will actually attract people to you.
Idea: Have a lunch date? Arrive 10 minutes early. You’ll be at the restaurant with a table ready for your guest. Your demeanor will be calm and relaxed, exuding an air of “I’ve got my life together.” On the flip side, picture yourself 10 minutes late, making excuses and apologizing. Who would you rather be? A graceful approach to being is a powerful magnetic…”
~ Writer, Melinda Vilas
(Unknown source for the image, taken from, A Slice of Bliss)
Experience outrageous joy
Chuck Swindoll asks,
How is your sense of humor? Are the times in which we live beginning to be reflected in your attitude, your face, your outlook? Solomon . . . says three things will occur when we have lost our sense of humor: a broken spirit, a lack of inner healing, and dried-up bones [Proverbs 15:13, 15; 17:22]. What a barren portrait!. Humor is not a sin. It is a God-given escape hatch . . . a safety valve. Being able to see the lighter side of life is a rare, vital virtue.1
A refreshing sense of humor is never distasteful, ill-timed, or tactless. Instead, it lightens our spirits and energizes our thoughts. It helps us step back and not take this fleeting life quite so seriously.
“Three tests of good humor: Can you laugh at your own mistakes? Can you restrain when it isn’t fitting? Can you enjoy it all alone?”2 If you can’t yet answer yes to these questions, we invite you to enjoy these resources. You may feel your strained muscles relax as your troubled thoughts are chased away by good old-fashioned laughter.
In this life we all face trials of every kind. At this very moment some of us are facing difficult situations and doing our best to endure the hardship. So, what word can I possibly give you to make a difference in your struggle? Well, for starters, this one – hope. When hope is allowed to penetrate the deepest part of your soul, a fresh spring of life bubbles to the surface and renews your spirit.
As a Christ follower, my hope is found in Jesus and the knowledge that He will never leave me…no matter what I face in this life. Remembering this, and I have to be reminded of it often, prompts me to be at peace in the darkness, keeping my head clear and free of needless fear and anxiety. I can then respond to others with compassion, even joy as I live out that hope. I’m eternally grateful for the truth of His words and how they give me peace in the midst of every storm.
“This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s loving-kindness will never cease,
For His compassion’s never fail,
Thy are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:21-23
“Now & then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~ Unknown Author
“Peace is the first thing the angels sang. Peace is the mark of the sons of God. Peace is the nurse of love. Peace is the mother of unity. Peace is the rest of blessed souls. Peace is the dwelling place of eternity.” ~ Leo The Great (Unknown source for image)
The Keeper of the Spring
By, Charles R. Swindoll
The late Peter Marshall, an eloquent speaker and for several years the chaplain of the United States Senate, used to love to tell the story of “The Keeper of the Spring,” a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. The old gentleman had been hired many years ago by a young town council to clear away the debris from pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely springs flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the millwheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, “Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn’t necessary and longer!” By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man’s services.
For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish brown tint in the spring. A couple of days later the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The millwheels moved slower, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourist. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.
Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring…and within a few weeks the veritable river of life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.
Fanciful though it may be, the story is more than idle tale. It carries with it a vivid, relevant analogy directly related to the times in which we live. What the keeper of the springs meant to the village, Christian servants mean to our world. The preserving, taste-giving bite of salt mixed with the illuminating, hope-giving ray of light may seem feeble and needless..but, God help any society that attempts to exist without them! You see, the village without the Keeper of the Spring is a perfect representation of the world system without salt and light.
What’s It Like in Your Town?
Retold by Kris Gray
Once there was an old and very wise man. Every day he would sit outside a gas station in his rocking chair and wait to greet motorists as they passed through his small town. On this day, his granddaughter knelt down at the foot of his chair and slowly passed the time with him.
As they sat and watched the people come and go, a tall man who surely had to be a tourist -since they knew everyone in the town-began looking around as if he were checking out the area for a place to live. The stranger walked up and asked, “So what kind of a town is this that we’re in?” The older gentleman slowly turned to the man and replied, “Well, what kind of a town are you from?” The tourist said, “In the town I’m from everyone is very critical of each other. The neighbors all gossip about everyone, and it’s a real negative place to live. I’m sure glad to be leaving. It is not a very cheerful place.” The man in the chair looked at the stranger and said, “You know, that’s just how this town is.”
An hour or so later a family that was also passing through stopped for gas. The car slowly turned in and rolled to a stop in front of where the older gentleman and his granddaughter were sitting. The mother jumped out with two small children and asked where the restrooms were. The man in the chair pointed to a small, bent-up sign that was barely hanging by one nail on the side of the door. The father stepped out of the car and also asked the man, “Is this a pretty good place to live?” The man in the chair replied, “What about the town you are from?” How is it?” The father looked at him and said, “Well, in the town I’m from everyone is very close and always willing to lend their neighbor a helping hand. There’s always a hello and thank-you everywhere you go. I really hate to leave. I feel almost like we are leaving family.” The older gentleman turned to the father and gave him a warm smile. “You know, that’s a lot like this small town.” Then the family returned to the car, said their thank-yous, waved goodbye and drove away.
After the family was in the distance, the granddaughter looked up at her grandfather and asked, “Grandpa, how come when the first man came into our town you told him it was a terrible place to live, and when the family came in to town you told them it was a wonderful place to live?” The grandfather lovingly looked down at his granddaughter’s wondering blue eyes and said, “No matter where you move, you take your own attitude with you and that’s what makes it terrible or wonderful.”
This quote is from author, Neil Gaiman. And, I couldn’t agree more!
“Don’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing, or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…”
(Image taken from, Simply Shabby. Me)