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The United States of America has started this New Year of 2009, or 5769 on the Hebrew Calendar, with a new “Commander-in-Chief” and many new leaders, including a new “leading lady” in the White House.  I guess it would be fair to say that there are two new leading ladies in the White House, the first I was thinking of is Michelle Obama, and the other of course, Hillary Clinton (again).  Only history will tell the tale of how this period of time will play out. 

Have you ever thought about what it takes to be a leader?  As a woman, I think about women in leadership positions very often.  Only a handful of people will know  what it is like to have a leadership position so grand as Barack H. Obama now knows, after all,  he is only the 44th President the USA has ever known! But, our world is made up of everyday heros and our lives are filled with people around us who exhibit great leadership skills and abilities every day.

More importantly, every day we are faced with opportunities to be leaders–in our homes, our jobs, our communities, or among friends and family and neighbors.  It seems that sometimes it’s one small act that turns out to be a great act in history.  For instance, in the Bible there was woman named Deborah.  She is first introduced as the wife of– You can read all about her in the Book of Judges, Chapter 4.  Verse 4 says,

“And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.”

 So very often, we are known by the roles we lead in life.  It’s easy to lose ourselves in these identities, to become “the wife of” or “the mother of”  or “the daughter of”.  Deborah though was a woman in her own right, a leader among her people.  Because of her willingness to be a woman of faith and leadership and action, we are still blessed to have the people of Israel with us today!

Here is what happened, in a nutshell. Deborah was a judge (and a prophetess). As a judge, she would sit in a “public” place and the people would bring their disputes before Deborah.  One day, as Deborah was sitting court, so to speak, she had a “word” from G-d. So, in obedience, she calls Barak. Yes, you read that correctly, she called up Barak.  She told him that G-d had commanded him to go and take ten thousand soldiers and to engage Sisera, leader of the army of the Caananite King Jabin in battle… and, G-d would deliver the victory into Barak’s hands. King Jabin and Sisera and his army had oppressed the Israelite people for twenty years and the people had prayed and cried out to G-d. Now G-d was going to answer their prayers.

The interesting thing is that Barak refused to go– unless Deborah would lead them!  Barak knew that Deborah was a woman of G-d. Can you imagine, here is this great leader, Barak, telling this little woman Deborah, a judge and prophetess, introduced though as the “wife of –” that he would go, and he would take the ten thousand soldiers, but only if she led them?  How amazing is that!  Can you imagine the line up? Here’s Deborah, then Barak, and then ten thousand soldiers marching into war against an enemy equipped with over 900 chariots and his entire army!  This is an enemy that had oppressed the people  of Israel for over twenty years–that’s some intimidation there! 

Of course, being the woman of faith that Deborah was, she agreed, but she gave Barak this stern warning, (my paraphrase): I will lead you, but before you go you will have to know that because of this, you will get no glory for the win, because G-d is going to give the victory over Sisera to a woman!  Well, if you stop here in the story, it seems that it will be Deborah getting the glory, the honor, for the victory. So, here though go into battle–Deborah leading Barak leading ten thousand soliders! 

 But then, there is another woman of valor, another woman of leadership, a woman named “Jael”.

The story continues in verses 17-24 telling us how Sisera flees after his armies have been defeated and have literally fallen on their swords!  And where would Sisera flee to?  A mountain?  A dry wadi (river bed)? A cave?  No! Sisera makes the mistake to flee to another man’s wife’s tent!  Here is yet another woman introduced as “the wife of–”  Jael is the wife of  a man named “Heber”.  To get on with the story, Sisera fled to the tent of Jael and begged for her to hide him. 

Now, it appears that Jael was “just” a woman at home, doing her wifely duties of housework, when this opportunity of leadership would fall upon her.  Jael told  Sisera to come on in, take his shoes off and crawl in the bed.  She gave him some water to drink, threw the blankets over him and quickly he went off to sleep, tired from the lost battles and ohhh so very  nice and comfy.  Now, there is no indication that Jael commited adultry or did anything such as this with Sisera. She was “hiding” Sisera from the army of Barak and from Deborah.  When Sisera went to sleep, Jael did an amazing thing, she took a nail or spike and drove it through his head!  The Bible actually says she drove it through his temples into the ground!  One word of caution to any husband who might stop by Deliciously Capricious and read this: be careful not to hide out in another man’s wife’s tent!  Ok, back to the story, when Jael heard Barak pursuing  Sisera she went out to meet him and told him to come in and she would show him the man he was seeking–of course, there was Sisera, dead as a nail!  I guess you could say that Jael really had him pegged!

We can also see now that G-d kept His word (as G-d always does) and He delivered Sisera’s defeat into the hands of a woman, Jael.  Even now, thousands of years later, Barak doesn’t get the glory or the honor for the defeat of Sisera!  The honor goes instead to a housewife who was home doing what housewives do when opportunity came knocking at her door.

Every day we are faced with opportunities to be leaders. We are dealt choices to make and choose.  Deborah was a woman of G-d who was a leader in every way, she was a woman of great faith and wisdom and courage. Jael was a housewife, at home  minding her own buisness.  Both women were used by G-d and because of their faith and their willingness to act out their faith, the children of Israel prospered, and Israel is  even today a great nation of people of G-d.  Now that is delicious!

A Taste of Something Delicious:  Another recipe to entice the family to eat their “little trees” and it is simply delicious!

Yummy Broccoli Salad

2-3 cups of fresh Broccoli florets, washed and chopped  lightly

1-2 tablespoons raisins ( I like to mix the red and golden varieties together in this recipe)

1-2 tablespoons of dried cranberries or “Craisins”

1/4 cup chopped carrot

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (oh heck, use both!)

1-2 tablespoons mayo. or salad dressing (for even more healthy flavor try a Olive Oil based mayo!)

Toss the ingredients together, mix in mayo to your taste, and enjoy a Taste of Summer during these cold winter months!  With all of the crunch and the beta carotene from the broccoli and carrots, vitamins A and C, loads of folic acid and fiber you will fill great about eating this salad.  I have to mention those little red and gold raisins you throw in are full of little “blood cleaners” with lots of phytonutrients and antioxidants. They help to fight osteoporosis, macular degeneration and tooth decay (according to the folks at Oohoi.com).

Of course, if you need more encouragement to have this Yummy Broccoli Salad, the tannins in the cranberries have all sorts of healthy benefits, and most of us know that cranberries are great for the urinary tract!  If you choose a fat free mayo (better yet, one made of olive oil!) there is simply no reason not to have a healthy helping of this Yummy Broccoli Salad.  I love to serve this with a nice Hot Brown or a crisp hot panini!  Add a cup of delicious soup and it’s enough to make the cows come home on a snowy day.  I have to say it, it truly is “Deliciously Capricious!”

 

Have you ever thought about what it means to say that something is “good”?  We say  “this pie tastes good” or “that soup was good”.  We say, “My dog is a good dog” or “My son is a good son”. We might say, “My husband and I have a good marriage.” If we are blessed, we might say “We have a good life” and when someone dies we often say, “He was a good man” or “She was a good woman”.  But what is it that we really mean when we say that something or someone is good?

Do we really mean, “I like the way this pie tastes, the crust was not burned!” Or, do we mean to imply “the soup had a consistency that was pleasing to me.”  Would it be more accurate to say, “the soup did not offend my taste buds.”  What do we really mean when we say, “This was a good man/woman.”  Do we mean that he or she was kind? Then why not just say that he was kind?  Do we mean that she gave to the poor or that she did not use four-letter words?  He didn’t kick the dog, or he always bought cookies from the Girl Scouts and popcorn from the Boy Scouts.  Then why not say that she was generous, that he was civic-minded or that she was not crude?  Is it simply just easier to use the word good? Do we do the word an injustice by using it in such a manner?

When a mother says her children have been good today does she mean that they did not hit each other, or that they did as they were told? Did they do their chores without complaint?  If so then why not say that they were kind to each other or that they were obedient?  Does a child understand when we say, “Be good in the grocery store and you’ll get a treat when we get home!”  Does that translate into “Don’t run around the store! Don’t beg for things I don’t intend to buy!  Don’t be loud and whatever you do, don’t embarrass me!”  It seems like that “being good” is a very ambiguous term as it used in modern English. Perhaps a better term more often would be “inocuous”. 

Speaking of modern English, according to http://www.thefreedictionary.com/good  the word, when used as an adjective has twenty different meanings!  It just goes to prove that “good” is difficult to describe or understand. Most often, it can only be understood in comparison to something that is “not good”.

good (gd)

adj. bet·ter (btr), best (bst)
1. Being positive or desirable in nature; not bad or poor: a good experience; good news from the hospital.(hmm, does that mean he didn’t die in the hospital, they didn’t take out the wrong body part?–red letter comments are from Capricously yours)
2. a. Having the qualities that are desirable or distinguishing in a particular thing: a good exterior paint; a good joke. (the paint doesn’t drip, peel, smear and requires only one coat; the joke is funny too most people, it’s not crude, it is crude…)
b. Serving the desired purpose or end; suitable: Is this a good dress for the party?(Will it get me noticed? Will I get “picked-up”? Does it show enough cleavage, not too much leg?)
3. a. Not spoiled or ruined: The milk is still good.(It’s not yet making curd- or it is making curd which is desireable for some recipes)
b. In excellent condition; sound: a good tooth.(This could mean any tooth to a toothless person!)
4. a. Superior to the average; satisfactory: a good student.(Does this mean the student doesn’t carry weapons to school, doesn’t threaten the teachers with bodily harm?)
b. Used formerly to refer to the U.S. Government grade of meat higher than standard and lower than choice.
5. a. Of high quality: good books.  (Many books that are considered “good” at one time are banned at others–take “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” for instance)
b. Discriminating: good taste. (To Muslims, good taste may mean that one doesn’t eat with the “common hand” or to a Jew it might mean that it is “Kosher”, in the south it is in good taste to arrive fashionably late, but never so to a funeral!)
6. Worthy of respect; honorable: ruined the family’s good name. (How does one ruin a “good name?” If it is good, then it can not be ruined–)
7. Attractive; handsome: good looks.(What one man finds attractive, another finds appalling– my husband likes a little “meat” on my bones, other men would find me to be unappealing. While I tend to be attracted to mean with “facial hair” (swashbuckling husband has a full beard) my mother finds a beard to be almost disgusting!)
8. Beneficial to health; salutary: a good night’s rest.(I don’t think enough Americans get one of these to make it definable!)
9. Competent; skilled: a good machinist.(He comes to work on time, does his job correctly, doesn’t steal from the company?)
10. Complete; thorough: a good workout. —-(Ok you get the point, and if you are with me this far, you must be a good friend!)
11. a. Reliable; sure: a good investment.
b. Valid or true: a good reason.
c. Genuine; real: a good dollar bill.
12. a. In effect; operative: a warranty good for two years; a driver’s license that is still good.
b. Able to continue in a specified activity: I’m good for another round of golf.
13. a. Able to pay or contribute: Is she good for the money that you lent her?
b. Able to elicit a specified reaction: He is always good for a laugh.
14. a. Ample; substantial: a good income.
b. Bountiful: a good table.
15. Full: It is a good mile from here.
16. a. Pleasant; enjoyable: had a good time at the party.
b. Propitious; favorable: good weather; a good omen.
17. a. Of moral excellence; upright: a good person.
b. Benevolent; kind: a good soul; a good heart.
c. Loyal; staunch: a good Republican.
18. a. Well-behaved; obedient: a good child.
b. Socially correct; proper: good manners.
19. Sports
a. Landing within bounds or within a particular area of a court and therefore in play: The first serve was wide, but the second was good.
b. Passing between the uprights of the goal and therefore scoring, as a field goal in football.
20. Used to form exclamatory phrases expressing surprise or dismay: Good heavens! Good grief!
See I told you– 20 definitions here to describe what could be considered “good”!

For Goodness sake, can someone please just tell me what it takes to be “Good”?  Perhaps the English just can’t do the word justice, so let’s see if the Biblical Hebrew of the word can help me with this quest to understand this word or concept of “good”.  If I did my research correctly, the word “good” is used 559 times in 517 verses in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible. However, that is only for one word in Hebrew “tov” (Strong’s #H2896) and there are other words which are translated as “good”.  It’s all very confusing!  
G-d is the first to use the word “good” in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. In Gen 1:4 we read:  “And G-d saw the light, that it was good: and G-d divided the light from the darkness.” 

So, the first time in the Bible that G-d uses the word “good” (“tov” H2896) is to describe His own creation, “Light”. But, then I’m also reminded of the saying from 1 John, “G-d is Light and in him is no darkness.” 

 

 

And then, there is Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Yet, we know that it was not good for the woman and the man to eat of this fruit, for it is this act of disobedience which brought the judgement of death against all of life.  This was the fruit of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil.”  Before man had taken from the fruit of this tree he did not have responsiblity of his actions– he was not capable of knowing good and evil.  He only had to be obedient and live out eternity in blissful ignorance! He could have chosen to eat from the Tree of Life instead! Man and woman could run around naked in the garden, everthying bared before each other and G-d. There was no shame or guilt.  Everything was good! G-d had said it was! The only thing not good was to try to be like G-d–to try and discern that which was good and evil.

It is G-d alone who can pronounce that something is “good”.  Yet, even today, everyday, we try to discern good and evil–we try to play G-d. Tov is the Hebrew word for “good”. It is a judgement pronounced about something or someone’s worthy-ness or functionality.

In the New Testament, we read in Matt 19:17 “And he (Jesus) said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Jesus said this in response to a young man who came to him and said, “..Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

I think Jesus was not saying that he himself was not good, but rather that truly He is G-d, Emmanuel–G-d with us– in the flesh.   I think he was also telling the young man, don’t try to be good–but keep the commandments.

As a child, my mother taught me to say this blessing before meals:

G-d is great. G-d is good.  Let us thank Him for this food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen.

 

(–Please enjoy this selection from my favorite music today! It’s Cold Play’s “Scientist”. My 16 year old grandson is so amazed that his 40 somethings “Nana” loves Cold Play as much as he does!)  Click here–> coldplay-the-scientist

Forrest Gump says something to the jist of “My Mama says life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”  I would like to challenge Forrest’s mom because I say that life is like a bunch of broccoli!  You get what you get and you make out of it what you will.  My kids were never crazy about eating what they called “little trees”. Yes, broccoli looks somewhat like “little trees”.  It was up to me to take what we had, “little trees”, and make something yummy and delicious from it. This is what life is like… we get what we get and it’s up to us to make something out of it… which brings me to the New Year ahead.

I wish that I could tell you today that I have made my list of New Year’s resolutions already. Truthfully speaking, I have not. I’ve not really even thought about 2009 except for the many appointments and items that already fill my calendar and my to-do lists.  Sometime in 2008 I had to start my 2009 appointment book/calendar. I always feel like I’m going to the bank with a check written on someone else’s account when I do that… when I write an appointment on the calendar for a year that hasn’t yet even “become”.  It’s difficult to describe, but it seems like I’m tapping into something that is not yet mine.  But, we have to do that, we have to bank on tomorrow while living out today.  We have to plan for the future, even when it is not yet ours.  Yet, I like looking at all of those blank pages of the future, thinking that somehow they hold mysteries and adventures that will look much different than the ones of the past.

What I would really like to fill those pages with are days like:

January 10th:  Sail to Morocco, ride horseback across the desert–sleep in a Bedouin tent (of course, air conditioned–velvets and furs (imitation of course–save the Tigers!) skip the goat’s hair and scorpions!)

January 30th: Sail the seven seas with my swashbuckling husband–speak only to natives that don’t speak my language and who don’t have cell phones! 

February 1st:  Feed wild Giraffes in Africa from my open hand, ride an elephant in India –through Hyderabad or Mumbai, —

March: Sail the intercoastal waterways from Virginia to Florida and watch the dolphins all day. Enjoy the brisk but sunny winds–eat fresh, succulent prawns–roasted and buttered-while sunning on the deck of the yacht listening to my Cold Play collection.

Ok.. You get the point! I always hope for the adventurous and romantic of the day–while folding laundry and paying bills. I have to confess that I have been so blessed to travel many times to various countries on the continent of Africa and across the south of India, Canada, Germany, Holland and Israel–and from the east coast to the west coast, from the north to the southern most tip of the USA!  This world we live in, the places, people and cultures are so wonderful– the skies over head which encompass the heavenlies filled with things of wonder and awe- inspiring grandeur–all are waiting to be contemplated, admired, and explored.  It’s all Capriciously delicious and it’s good for you, too!

Here is something else that is delicious and good for you. This yummy broccoli bread has been a long-time favorite in our family. I made this for my children when they were very young–so that they could eat their little green trees without tears!  They loved it and now I make it for their children–my grandkids!  Top it with grated cheddar cheese or a nice dollop of sour cream, sprinkle it with some paprika for color…mmmm!  It’s yummy deliciousness is comfort and healthy all wrapped up in warmth! It’s simple, can be made with one bowl and one 8×8 baking pan! 

Broccoli Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 cake pan with cooking spray. My hubby gave me an early Christmas present of silicone baking pans. I wasn’t too sure about them to start with, but I have quickly come to love this flex pans!

In a medium bowl (1 quart size):

1 box of Jiffy brand corn muffin mix

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon sugar or Splenda

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup cottage cheese ( I use the fat free or 2%)

1/2 cup milk ( I used half n’ half today, but you can use skim, whole, 2 % or 4%)

1/4 tsp salt, optional

1 cup chopped broccoli (I use fresh broccoli when available, or frozen florets. I steam it until tender, drain any liquid away, press with paper towels to dry, then chop well. You can also use one small box of frozen chopped broccoli, microwave til tender and drained as above. I’ve just started using the Glad brand of microwave steaming bags and just LOVE them! I rinse them out and use them more than once–I don’t know if they recommend this, but I do it and have had great results with them–and you don’t add any water to steam your veggies so you get almost all of the vitamins.)

1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (here again you can use the lower fat varieties) (you can also use the mixed shredded cheeses (fiesta mix, cheddar mixes, pizza mix))

Pour Jiffy corn muffin mix into bowl, add the slightly beaten egg and mix.  Add 1 tsp sugar (or Splenda), 1 tblspof veg. oil and 1/2 cup of milk and the optional 1/4 tsp salt. Mix.  Add 1/2 cup cottage cheese and mix. Now gently stir in the 1/2 cup steamed chopped broccoli. Mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with shredded cheddar cheese or cheese mix. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and a pick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean and top springs back when touched lightly.  This can be served hot from the pan, or cool on a rack. Cut into squares and serve.  Can also be topped with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with paprika. Makes a nice appetizer when cut into very small squares and served with sour cream as above.

Now here’s a little added Deliciousness!

I had 1 cup of steamed broccoli left over from my above bread. I chopped this 1 cup of steamed broccoli florets lightly. I placed the broccoli in a small saucepan, added 2 cups of half-half, 1 tbls of fresh butter, abot1/4 teaspoon fresh ground sea salt  and about four twists from my pepper grinder, and brought to the point just before a boil. Do not let boil.  I ladled half of my broccoli soup into a rugged looking cobalt blue pottery bowl.  I topped it off withsome of the left over grated cheese from the broccoli bread recipe, cranked a few more twists from my pepper corn grinder and stuck it underneath the broil in the still hot oven. I quickly browned the grated cheese and now I’m going to have a square of this delightful bread with a bowl of soup for lunch. I have to say, I love hand-thrown pottery. I like to think that someone made this bowl with their own hands, literally!  What capricious thoughts did they think while the feel of the clay spun beneath their hands that day?

Hmmm!!! Now where was I,  oh, there is a tent made of fine white silken gauze, layers upon layers–platters of exotic fruits and cheeses, and the sounds of bedouin music drifting upon desert breezes…and there, upon the bed of handwoven carpets and soft fabric, is my love–my husband–waiting for me…

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  eye_of_god

 ‘Tis truly the season of Light.  What does that mean to the cosmos? Capriciously speaking, it means there is reason to celebrate, it means that their is reason to be full of joy, even in the most difficult of times. What is this reason?  Is it simply about one day’s worth of lamp oil lasting for eight days? Is it simply about a baby being born in a manger? Or, is there more to it all?

I think we are looking into a dimly lit mirror and there is so much more to the mystery of G-d and the cosmos HaShem (The Name–G-d) created than we can imagine. We see a tiny point of Light, like looking at a star from earth and thinking that stars are tiny points of light, when they are great balls of light. G-d is so much greater than we can begin to fathom, and this season of Light is a time when I am reminded that G-d so very much wills that Light will shine in the darkness–His Light.

In the New Testament letter, 1 John,  John the Beloved disciple of Jesus tell us that he writes his message to us so that our joy may be full.  What is that message he refers to? It is the message that G-d is light, and in him there is no darkness.  Darkness–obscurity is the better translation of the Greek word used in the original text. In G-d there is no obscurity!  Why? Because G-d has revealed himself to us in the person of His son, Jesus (Yeshua). G-d wants us to know Him, to have a relationship with Him and with each other.

However, there is one thing that keeps us from this. Some people may say that it is sin. Of course, unrepented sin will keep us from having relationship with G-d, because, as John says, if “we say we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  However, once we confess that sin and accept the Gift from G-d, the Gift of redemption, then sin is not the problem. Why? Because, as John the beloved tells us, “…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

So, if sin is the not the problem that keeps the redeemed people of G-d from having relationship with Him and with His people, what is it?  It is darkness–it is obscurity.  It is that we want to hide who we are and what we are in the “darkness”, in obscurity. Because of pride and arrogance, we want to say that we have no sin, that we are perfect, and then we hide behind this facade of perfection.

Here is an illustration that I used recently at Bible study.  Jack and Jill appear to be a happy and well-adjusted married couple. Jack is a very likeable fellow, he is hard working and commited to his family. He is active in his faith community and is a leader there. There are those things in his life that he is working on, such as his tolerance of those who are different  and he is often impatient with people who works for him.

Jill is a likeable petite woman. She’s always fastidiously groomed and she pays careful attention that their home is beautifully decorated. Jill is also involved in their faith community and is a leader among the women there.

Jack is always very truthful and open with his wife.  This is the way he wants there marriage to be, very truthful and open.  He wants his wife to know the real him, warts and bumps and all. Jill, on the other hand, has some things that she keeps from Jack.  She has a lot of time on her hands, and during the days that Jack is away on buisness, Jill has started going to the Casinos on the Cherokee Reservation and gambling.  To hide her habit, she has started telling little “white lies” to Jack. When she pays the bills, she puts a little money aside and when she buys groceries, she tells Jack that she spent more at the grocery store than she did. Jack and Jill have never been ones to drink alcoholic beverages, other than an occasional glass of wine on special occasions. However, Jill has discovered that she likes to have cocktails at the casino, another secret that she is keeping from Jack.

At dinner one evening, Jack says to Jill, “One thing that I appreciate about our marriage and our relationship, Jill, is that we are both totally open with each other.  I like that we can have this trust and not have to always be wondering what the other person is up to.”  Jill looks across the table at Jack, she looks into his loving blue eyes, and she says, “I know Jack, that’s what I love about our marriage, teye-of-god-twooo.”

You see, too often this is how we are with G-d and each other. We are like Jill. We don’t want to admit that there are those things which we keep from G-d and from each other.  We make excuses for our poor choices and our uncontrolled habits, and we hide who we are and what we are doing, because we do not want to face the truth.  We hide in the darkness, the obscurity of our deceptions. We say we are transparent, but we may not be.  I guess the question would be, if one day, your life was to be played on international television, and everyone was going to be watching not only every action that you have ever acted out, but also every thought, feeling and motive–what would you want to “delete”?  At what part in the presentation of your life would you want to shout, “Cut”?  At what part would you not want your mom or dad or your husband, wife or kids to see?  Finally, at what point in this life presentation would you want to say, “G-d please don’t watch this.”  These are the things that keep us from G-d and from having real relationships with others, even ourselves.

In this season of Light, may G-d shine in our hearts, illuminating all that is there, so that we can get real with Him and with each other.  We can take courage in G-d’s grace, because as John said, “…if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 

Below are the New Testament verses for this meditation.

1Jn 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 1Jn 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that G-d is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Rocky-road fudge—hmmm-   (be sure to go down to the post on the Banana Crunch and listen to my favorite Christmas song)

Well, the christmas tree is up. It’s beautiful and stately, about 8 foot tall!  Last year, we decked the tree with all silver and blue decorations, with a silver star on top.  My husband is Jewish and we have a very blended inter-faith family.  I wanted to honor both of our faiths.  Having the love for Israel that we do, I thought a blue and silver tree would be a constant reminder of Israel, and of my husband’s faith and culture.  It was all very stunning. 

It was pretty wonderful as we lit the candles all through Chanukah, to be surrounded with the colors of such a great country as Israel.  The lights on the tree reminded me of my faith, that Christ came into the world to be the Light of the World, and to reveal God to the world.  The Lighting of the Menorah every night reminded me of  that God has revealed himself more and more through out history, just as we nightly lit more of the candles.  Every  night the light grew, from the first night when only the Shamash candle and the first candle lit our great room, until finally only the last night when the room was filled with the light of  all nine candles.  It also reminded me that our Abba is a great and awesome God who desires to draw all people unto him. 

My husband grew up in an orthodox family, and while we do not share the same faith,we share faith in the same Abba (Father) God.  Both of us, in living out our own faiths together help each other to see and experience God in a more relevant way.  Appreciating each other’s faith, and learning together about own faiths does not require us to compromise our faiths.  On the contrary, it calls us to be more responsible toward how we express this faith, as we share it with each other.

Ok, back to the tree!  We have collected several “novelty” type Christmas ornaments, and I have ornaments from the children and grandkids–among this a “Rock’m sock’m robot” ornament that I bought in memory of my husband’s fav toy when he was a kid.  So, this year we have all the ornaments and it’s pretty much an “old fashioned” Christmas tree with all of our ornaments and many beautiful colored balls.

Our tree, that we trudged to the SugarPlum farms to get (with grandkids in hand and a muddy rain underfoot) is just so lush and full, that I realized today that I needed to selectivly prune some of the small branches out. I was happy to do that because I needed more greenery for the wreath that I wanted to make.  I took most of the ornaments off so that I could rearrange them, but not nearly all of them. Neither did I remove any of the many strands of lights.  I would just gently and carefully clip around everything, opening up some depth for the larger ornaments. 

 When I finished clipping I put all of the ornaments back on the tree, and took the greenery, along with about ten pine cones I picked up in the forest behind our home.  I keep a large basket of pinecones on the hearth at all times to use as fire starters, so I had a nice supply.  When I finished I added a beautiful white bow with red candy canes and peppermints printed on it.  It was a actually a ribbon that I had used to decorate a candy cane cake I had made for earlier in the month. So, I recycled the ribbon to use on my wreath. 

Now the tree was all decorated, the wreath it was hung– but then and only then when I went to plug the Christmas tree lights in that I learned the error of my ways–I had snipped through one of the many wires. No, I don’t know which one. There are only 200 or more feet of lights on the tree!  So, tomorrow, I get to do it all over again.  I’ll be taking all the decos off and then all the lights…and yep.. that’s it.  I’ll start all over again– maybe I’ll just do the blue and silver– Israel seems so far away this year.

In the midst of all the hoopla with the tree, the delivery people delivered package after package.  Each delivery person left with two small packages of fudge in hand, and a smile on their faces.  Tomorrow, I will be redoing the tree and making more fudge.  I’ve determined that my special “Rocky Road Fudge” is the one that disappears most quickly from the serving tray, so I’ll double on it tomorrow.  Thank goodness it’s so easy to make.  Everyone thinks I slave over the stove with it.  No, not this girl.  It’s so easy that ..well, it’s so easy that I can do it!  Below the recipe for the fudge, I’ve included the three blessings that are said as the Hanukkah candles are lit. They are beautiful. I always say in my heart, as my husband says the blessings, “Thank you, Abba that you sent your Son into the world to reveal your Light unto the world.”

Rocky Road Fudge

1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips (it’s better to use the better brand of chips here)

1 can of Chocolate Fudge Supreme icing–dont’ use the whipped…  Betty Crocker is one of my favs.

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup Marshmallow Cream or 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts

pinch (1/8 tsp) salt.

Line a 10 X 10 glass baking dish or cake pan with aluminum foil.  Spray with cooking spray or if you want a more visceral experience, use your fingers and “smear” with butter.  Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Stir and melt until very smooth and creamy.  Add Chocolate frosting and stir until frosting and chocolate are very smooth. Yes, the frosting melts. Remove from heat and quickly add salt and vanilla. Stir until very smooth. Quickly pour into pan.  Add small “dollops” of marshmallow cream and marble through with knife. Or, if  sprinkle mini mallows  and gently stir through. Shake dish bake and forth to smooth fudge out, or use a spatula. Cool on counter for about 10-20 minutes. Capriciously use fingers to “lick the bowl” clean!  Cover with plastic wrap and cool in refrigerator for an hour or until nice and solid.  Cut into desired sizes of bars and wrap with plastic wrap.  Yummy and delicious–

Hanukkah Blessings (Chanukah begins December 22 in 08)

  • There are three blessings that are recited during the lighting of the menorah. The first blessing is recited only on the first night, the second blessing is recited before the shamash is lit, and the third blessing is recited while the candles are being lit by the shamash.

Shehechiyanu blessing

  • The Shehechiyanu blessing is recited only on the first night of Hanukkah. It signifies that it is the first time you are lighting the Hanukkah lights this year. It reminds us that G-d is King of the Universe (and it reminds me that G-d is King of the Light and of all that is revealed). Also, that it is G-d who keeps us from season until the next, from one Hanukkah until the next.
  • Shehechiyanu blessing in Hebrew:
    • Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, she-he-chi-yanu ve-kiy’manu ve-higi-anu la’zman ha’zeh
  • Translation: Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who gave us life and kept us and delivered us to this time.

First blessing

  • This blessing thanks G-d for the commandment of lighting the Hanukkah lights. It is recited before lighting any of the candles. It also reminds us that it is G-d who sanctifies us.
  • Blessing in Hebrew:
    • Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, a-sher kid-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner shel cha-nu-kah.
  • Translation: Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.

Second Blessing

  • This blessing praises G-d for the miracle of the eight days of light that the cruse of oil provided in ancient times. This blessing is recited as the candles are being lit by the shamash. This blessing serves to remind us that G-d is a G-d of miracles. It reminds me that if G-d would perform miracles then, He will perform them now, for the King of the universe is unchanging.
  • Blessing in Hebrew:
    • Ba-ruch a-ta A-do-nai, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, she-a-sa ni-sim la- avo-tei-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem ba-zman ha-zeh.
  • Translation: Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors, at this season, in days past.

Life is brief, and fleeting. In a breath it can all change. Everything that we thought was important becomes frivolous, unmemorable.  It only takes a single act, a moment– and life has passed.  It happens so suddenly some times that we are left to wonder, what happened — and where did it go.  It was on the first day of summer that year my life changed in a way that I could never have dreamed.  It was an act in a brief moment in history, but one that changed the course of time for me and my family, and for generations to follow–it was a loss that would be felt around the world. 

As I stood on the side of that unforgiveable interstate the next day, combing through grass and the bark of a tree to try and pick up the tale-tale signs, it seemed unimaginable that cars could continue passing by, people speeding along with their lives as though a great tragedy had not shook earth.  It was at that moment that I realized that no matter how much I hated the truth, life will have it’s say–it will go on.  We do not have the power to halt it. We can only embrace life– hold onto every thing that is precious and true and right, and release all that is not. In that fleeting moment, I could see him standing there, lumionous, hands pressed together, and a smile that melted tears. It was fleeting, but it was real.

 In memory of love–

“How Did This Way We Go?”

How did this way we go? Was it by foot or horse or ass, or ships that sailed upon splendid seas of glass? Did you see the crumbs we left, or footprints in the sand, or letters painted red? Did you note the time of day, the seasons passed we on our way?

I took not note of this, nor that.  I cared not if we walked or raced, or stood too long in stranded place.

I stood by you my lover’s side, when we walked through shaded glen and wondered not where trail would end   Always I let you be my trusted guide, my truest friend. I noticed not how shadows fell, how moon would look upon the sky, nor how the mountain side did swell.

How did this way we go?  Was it through the desert land, of roasting sun and golden sand, of creepers crawling about the land?  Did we struggle in the heat, and hope for waters fresh and sweet? Or did we thirst for something more — for life and love from God’s own store?

I stood by you my lover’s side, when bent there in the heat and cried, knowing you would feel my pain, and lead me from this desert land. I trusted you my lover-friend to keep me safe until the end –of journeys… far and near and wide, to always be there by my side.

Then night–it come, and day did pass.  I stood upon the sea of glass, and looked within the darkest hour, for you had left me all alone to find the way that you had gone. The pain of all the darkest days, the passing of our endless ways, had come to meet me on that sea and asked me if I searched for thee,

“What, my Maiden Crown of Thorns, your robe was cast upon the ground? Your robe of hope and endless days? And where now do you meet your lover’s gaze!”

How did this way we go? Through the light?  Through the light?  This is how we passed this endless night? I noticed not how shadows fell, nor how moon did look upon the sky, nor how the mountains side did hide it’s awesome swell. Because we walked by God’s own light and passed our way through darkest night.

And now I know how you did go, that day you left me on the path to pass through life’s own looking glass. You saw a light!  A brighter light than darker hour within the night!  Then nothing else could steal your gaze– not my love, nor our hope for endless days.

I’ll follow you upon the path. I’ll watch for the Light that makes one laugh — at darkest night and endless days, and love that makes one’s heart feel crazed. Then Light will shine upon the land.  I too shall reach for God’s own hand!  Others will stand upon the sand, and wander on the sea of glass, pondering — “Which way did she, the Maiden Crown of Joys, pass?”

 

 

 

I’ve been making fudge today. Yummy, delicious, Peppermint Fudge    and  Chocolate Rocky-Road Fudge makes a great treat to have wrapped and ready to hand to a delivery man, mail/newspaper carrier, or baby-sitter.  When I got the fudge made and cut, I wrapped it in pretty Christmas plastic wrap,  tied it with a pretty bow and placed it in a large pretty bowl near the door.  We expect quite a few deliveries this year from the package carriers (those who help Santa get those gifts from here to there!) and hopefully this 1/4 pound pkg of fudge will help to make these guys (and, I say guys because the ones who come here are all “guys”) delivery here a little more festive!

I use a very popular recipe for fudge, and I’m sure it can probably be found all over the Internet!  I hope you enjoy it. You can experiment and come up with all types of fudge. Tomorrow, I think I will make pumpkin fudge!

Peppermint Patty’s Peppermint Fudge

Ingredients:

1 12 oz bag of vanilla baking chips (same as chocolate chips, except they are vanilla!)

1 Can Vanilla Supreme frosting

1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                 

1-1/2 tsp of Peppermint extract

butter or vegetable spray

red food coloring

Tip: You can melt your chips in a microwave bowl, being careful not to burn them. However, I prefer to use a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler then you can sit a smaller sauce pan inside of a larger saucepan. Fill the bottom saucepan about 1/3 the way full of water. Be sure the water will not boil over into your fudge!

Line a 10 x 10 cake pan with aluminum foil. Either coat with butter or spray with cooking spray. Set aside until fudge is ready. Have red food coloring nearby and ready for fudge.

If using a double-boiler, bring water in boiler to a boil, place chips in small top pot (not in water!) and let melt. Stir well until the chips have melted completely and is smoothe.  Add the can of frosting to the chips, then the peppermint extract and salt. Stir well and continue to cook for about 90 seconds. Stir continually.

Pour into pan and smooth quickly. Put a very tiny line of red food coloring down the center and pull a knife through it to marble the fudge.

Cool for about 5 minutes on the counter. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator. Let cool until solid, about 1/2-1 hour. When fudge is solid remove from fridge.  Turn fudge out onto parchment paper or freezer wrap.  Let sit about 3-5 minutes.  Then, using a long knife, slice fudge from edge to edge in about 2 inch wide slabs, then cut slabs in half.  Wrap each slab in Christmas plastic food wrap, tie a ribbon around each wrapped slab.  Oh, and be sure to save a little smidgen for yourself!