Sunday, June 23, 2013

Super moon in Minnesota

Super moon in Minnesota
June 23, 2013

On Sunday, June 23 was full moon. This full moon is considered to be the closest (perigee) a distance of 221,824 miles from Earth, and largest full moon for all of 2013. The moon will not be this close again until August, 2014. This is why it is called a "supermoon".

According to Fox News Science, during Sunday's supermoon, the moon appeared about 12.2 percent larger than it will look on January 16, 2014, when it will be farthest from Earth during its apogee.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A night with Hillsong United at Target Center

Tonight was a powerful evening spent with good friends. The evening consisted of Hillsong United of Australia leading 15,000 people in worship of God Almighty. I suppose the word 'powerful' would be an understatement.

Putting aside all the bells and whistles of the laser beam lights and the booming bass, God truly showed up tonight. It wasn't the crescendo and decrescendo between the verses and chorus or the culmination of all the instruments during a chorus line. But what spoke to me were the lyrics that were posted for us on the large screens so we could sing along, praising God in unison.

The songs were primarily from Hillsong's new album titled 'Zion'. The mission for this album, according to Hillsong Zion's website, is to create music that reveals the truth of who Jesus is. Their mission was accomplished in me tonight. The lyrics pointed me to a Jesus that I knew was there but haven't thought about in a while. The following lyrics in the song 'Oceans' spoke to me tonight.

Oceans (Where my feet may fail)
Spirit lead me where my trust is without border
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you may lead me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith would be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I felt God calling me to put aside things that keep me from 'walking on the waters that are deeper than my feet could ever wander.' A sort of fasting of the thing(s) that take the place of God in my life. I want to be in the place where affection can grow deeper than I would allow if those sort of idols are there. I am excited to see what God can do when I put those things aside in a sort of sacrificial manner. I know, however, that it will not be a sacrifice because God has so much more for us than those things can offer because I have been in that place before. I may not be really doing anything in life that can be compared to 'walking on water' but if I can have the fruits of the Spirit of Love, Joy, Peace, etc . . I will have far more than most.

God wants what is best for us. Not to use Joel Osteen's expression, but He truly does want our 'Best Life'. He wants us to have unsurpassed joy that is not explainable by anything other than coming directly from a heart relationship with Him. He wants us to 'walk on water' and to accomplish what He has set out for us. He wants us to have the kind of peace through troubles that only He can offer.

Now I know that just by stating those things, opposition will come. So I will need to be on guard and in prayer against such attacks to derail from God intends for me. 

On the way home, I asked the girls what they felt or took home from the concert. I was excited to hear Gracie's response. Besides just saying, "It was really good," she added, "It was good to know that we are not alone."

You can't go wrong in bringing your daughter to a place where 15,000 voices are praising God in one place at one time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ruffle Cakes

Ruffle Cakes

Directions to make a ruffle cake

Making the Cake

Prepare your cakes. I used 2 - 6" round Wilton cake pans. I cut them in half and used a filling in the middle of each cake. It took me several months to find a good 'store quality' white cake recipe, but this is the one and everyone loves it! The white cake recipe I used is as follows:
  • 1 box white cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
  • 1 cup Swan cake flour (or use regular flour for a hearvier texture)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp oil
Mix the dry ingredients first and then add in other ingredients. Do not over mix. Spray pans with flour-cooking oil spray and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Put cakes directly into freezer as this will help hold in moisture and maintain form when decorating. Make the fondant next and wrap with plastic wrap or freeze and put aside.

Fondant Recipe

  Making the Fondant

  Fondant recipe:
  • 1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 lbs. of powdered sugar
  Sprinkle gelatin over water in a microwavable bowl. Let sit for 2 minutes. Put in microwave for 30
  second. Mix in almond and corn syrup until it is a clear mixture. Put in microwave for a few more
  seconds if it is not a clear or nearly clear mixture. Pour 3/4 of the 2 lb bag of powdered sugar into a
  bowl with a hole in middle. Pour mixture into hole in the middle of the sugar and mix together with
  a wooden spoon. After mixture becomes more solid, you can knead on a powdered surface and
  knead the rest of the 2 lb. bag into mixture, until it is a pliable, non-sticky mass. Use shortening on
  hands if necessary. To color, knead food coloring into fondant mixture . . you may need to add
  more powdered sugar to keep from being too sticky. Set aside in a covered bowl.

                                           Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Making the Frosting

Buttercream frosting recipe:
  • 4 Sticks salted sweetcream butter (softened)
  • 2 lbs of C&H powdered sugar ( I only use C&H brand as I have found other brands such as Crystal and generic brands are grainy)
  • 1-2 tsp. pure vanilla or almond (measure to your liking)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup heavy whipping cream
   Beat butter and flavorings together, then add powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream. Frosting
   will thicken upon adding more powdered sugar. Make sure to add more flavoring if you add more 
   sugar. Set aside in a covered bowl.

Directions to put cake together

1. Take cakes out of freezer and cut in half.
2. Stack cakes and place filling between cakes . . can use buttercream frosting filling, pudding or ganache
3. Put buttercream frosting on cakes
4. Color the fondant: Decide what colors you are going to work with and color your white fondant accordingly. I use the Wilton color gels that you can find at Wal-Mart or Michaels. Wrap your fondant in plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out.
4. Use wax paper and spray surface of paper with cooking spray so fondant doesn't stick. Roll out fondant and use pizza cutter to cut strips of fondant.
5. Start with darkest color first and start in middle of top cake. Place fondant in middle in a circular pattern and work out from there, with 3 - 4 rows of each color. .  darkest to lightest.
6. Tie ribbon around base or just use white fondant at base.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Love is the greatest!

Here I go again using a picture of our little dog, Butters, as an illustration to a message. We bought this tiny dog life-jacket to put on him. I know you're thinking, 'He's a dog for crying out loud.' But he's kind of a stupid little dog in that he will he will jump ship the first chance he gets. Hence the life jacket. 

Today my reading included the chapter on love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Paul tells us prior to chapter 13, that there is still a more excellent way to live, than just assembling as one body with many members . . . living by love.

He begins the chapter by stating you can have all the gifts God has to offer: being an apostle, healing, prophesy, teaching, miracles, speaking in tongues. But he clarifies at the end of each of his statements on these gifts that if you have these gifts without love, they are meaningless.

He concludes the chapter by saying we need to abide in these three things "faith, hope and love." His final statement is commanding in style. In writing and journalism, this concluding statement is often the most powerful message and can come in a form of a call to action. He tells the reader that the greatest of these three things (faith, hope and love) is LOVE. I believe it is the most powerful message in the chapter and also a call to action because Paul begins the next chapter with  .  . "Pursue love, yet desire . ."

I try to talk to my kids as often as possible about the things of God. As my children are getting older, we have been having to address a broader worldview of Christianity and how God fits into the world. Unless you have lived off the grid in a strict Christian community, you are being bombarded with the world's standards, which are not of God.

I told them today that I am thankful that I believe in a God or religion that teaches things such as faith, hope and love. I challenged them to find another religion that teaches all the goodness that is found in the Bible. I would expect that if you looked to all the religions, theories and philosophies in the world, you wouldn't find the teaching on love that we see offered from the God of the Bible. Good luck finding hope and peace and love in the theory of evolution .. it hasn't worked out for the science teachers I have know who embrace the things that are non-God and who reject the true 'Origin of Species'. It's been the opposite as a matter of fact . . offering no peace and much turmoil in their relationships and in life.

God gave the Bible to us as a road map for our lives, a pattern to guide us away from things that are harmful. He created us and knows us inside and out, knowing what is best for us and also knowing what is not good for us. If He says the greatest of these things is love, that we ought to have for Him and one another, don't you think that He created the Bible for us out of love? His love for us?

We want what is best for our children and that comes from our love for them. Sometimes it is not always what they want, but we are the parent and know what's best for them (usually anyway, as we are humans and fallible). But so it is for God and us as His creation.

He is our parent and knows what is best for us out of love.

"We love because God first loved us." 1 John 4:19
The world is doing everything it can to strip society of God. In the last 25 years or so, it has been very successful. It wants to strip society of God because they will then have a license to live how they want to live. No God, no standards, type of thinking.

The world wants the blessing that has come along with having a God-fearing nation but not the standards God has for us. The world wants love and peace and hope but not the Author of love and peace and hope.

So once again, it brings me back the fact that the Bible is a road map for our lives, a pattern carefully designed for our lives, designed by the Creator of our very lives. This Creator intricately wove us together and in doing so, knows what is best for us.

Here's the reality of it:
No God = No standards to live by
No God = No love, hope or peace

The world wants to throw out the 'baby with the bathwater' and we can't let this happen.  First, we need to pray. Second, we need to ask God what our role in this is. Third, we need to act on that calling.

So that brings me back to Butters and the life jacket we purchased for him. We bought it for him because we love him, and similarly, God gives us his teachings in the Bible because He loves us . . not because He wants to restrict us from everything . . but wants what is best for us!