A Dayspring Exclusive for You, Our Readers at Itakejoy!

EXCITING UPDATE: Dayspring marked down the entire Love Came Down line today (12/6) by 60%!  That means you can use my code, TakeJoy30, to get an additional 30% off those incredible prices!!  Please note: this code is only good on the Love Came Down line.

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As the year winds down towards its end and we all make our preparations for celebrations, gifts, and traveling, I am happy to let you in on a little secret.  (Shhhhhhh!)

Dayspring is offering an exclusive code just for you, my dear readers and friends!  For one week only, December 4 through 10, you can use the code TakeJoy30  to get 30% off anything from the Love Came Down Collection.

This beautiful line of gifts is fun–serving a Christmas cup of tea with a lovely design in dishes in  festive cups!

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The teapot and tea cups would make a lovely gift for a friend, or to set your table for an intimate Christmas teatime with your loved ones.

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This adorable plate makes me want to have tea time every day, just so I can see these cute little red birds!

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Of course, for my hot chocolate drinking friends, there is this red mug as well.  Don’t forget to use your exclusive code, TakeJoy30, to receive 30% off anything from the Love Came Down collection between December 4 and December 10.

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Another collection from Dayspring that I think would make splendid gifts are these new wall plaques called Lyrics for Life.  Each plaque has lyrics from a worship song, artistically arranged on a wall hanging.  (In Christ Alone is one of my favorite songs.) Having the truths of scripture in front of our eyes and in our minds each day, can deeply impact us.  Music and worship are an integral part of the Clarkson family heritage and traditions.

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This song, Mighty to Save, is one that we sing each year during our conferences.  It is strikingly powerful to hear hundreds of women lifting their voices in song together.  What a reminder!

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The Peanuts Christmas Special is a tradition in many families.  Little ones would enjoy setting up and rearranging and rearranging and rearranging this cute felt nativity.

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These hairpins are a bargain for less than five dollars.  A lovely reminder to a young woman that she is a daughter of the king! And a great stocking stuffer.

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And for the young men in your life, this mug is a proclamation of God’s truth for them!  Fill it with candy or another treat, and you have a simple and pleasant gift. One of my favorite passages that I made my boys memorize.

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For those of you with toddlers that enjoy coloring, Crayola now offers a coloring book to go along with the sweet books, The Princess Parables. (Written by one of my dear friends.)77644

And lastly, this book is a family favorite.  It tells the story of the three trees that will becomes Jesus’ manger, boat and cross.  This recordable book has your own voice reading the story as the child turns the pages.  A meaningful gift for any child, but especially a grandchild that lives far away from extended family or a child with a parent on a military deployment.

May you enjoy this season of giving! And don’t forget to use your coupon code, TakeJoy30, on anything from the Love Came Down Collection between December 4 and December 10, 2013.

Thanks, Dayspring, for giving Itakejoy this opportunity!

 

Playing the part of provider to bring life and beauty!

Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars,
She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine,
She has set her table, …,
“Come eat of my food.  And drink of my wine I have mixed.
For sake your folly and live,
And proceed in the way of understanding.” Proverbs 9:1-6

I am getting mommy excited about next Tuesday. My youngest, precious one, Joy, will come home from her first semester at college. She has sustained the 3 months alone  without one visit and we have been constantly chatting and planning and sharing hearts so much that it feels like the last few days before you give birth–just biding your time until the momentous occasion comes. As a result, I have been looking at some old pictures and drawing up old memories and here is one of them–our fall apple picking and putting away for the winter. We missed it this year with Joy gone and us traveling too much.

But I had so much fun remembering, I thought I would share our memory with you! Getting into the mood for cooking a feast for all of my children and special others who will be with us!

Below a story of life from 4 years ago–hard to believe the time flew!

Yesterday we had a great sermon–one of four–which addressed the reality of heaven. I loved hearing that in heaven we will eat and drink and feast and have gardens and rivers and beauty and celebration and singing–only it will be in a perfect and wonderful place–called paradise–even more wonderful than anything we can see or imagine here.

I like knowing these things. It makes me think that when I prepare these thousands of meals that I am providing a little heaven on earth–an imperfect picture here of what real celebration and living will be there! I think that one of my delights over the years, which has grown as I have become better at it, is providing life-giving meals and memories for my family. Wisdom (I love it that wisdom is personified as a woman!) sets her table and provides wonderful food and in the midst of serving, calls those she serves to wisdom, understanding, love and righteousness. I am convinced that we have done more discipleship over meals than any other way!

As the old saying goes, “the  way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, but I think there is some truth to it, only applying to all people! Even Wisdom knew as much. Though there are so many things that reach and touch our hearts, I do think that the dining table can become the place of so much spirituality. At least it has for our family. Clay and I talk to our sons Joel and Nathan several times a week. Though both are thriving where they are, both have mentioned often missing our family. And when I asked them what they missed the most, it is as Joel and Nate said, “It’s the great food and the meal time discussions that I miss the most–just being together like that as a family.”

I would have to agree that these moments (and there are thousands of them) have held celebrations, devotions, discussions, funny stories, jokes, laughter, songs, correction (How many times have I told you–use a fork–not your fingers!) and sharing our hearts together.

God designed us to eat, but the time spent eating in warm fellowship, giving words of love and affirmation, challenging ideas with a meaningful quote to discuss or bringing and insightful article to the table to read together makes the moments that we spend in delightful fellowship feasting, a discipleship moment!

Just thought I would include a recipe from a most recent Sunday breakfast meal. Though we try to have devotions as a family, as our children became older and had their own cars, jobs and activities, we could barely get everyone together at once, but we could almost always get everyone together on Sunday morning. So many years ago, even when they were young, I got up early to make a great Sunday morning breakfast. Some of our favorites include home made whole wheat cinnamon rolls–(and yes, someday I will provide the recipe–but it is not perfected yet and I am afraid of misleading all of you! I am so used to throwing it all together–my own recipe–that I don’t exactly know how to put it down as it is different every time!)

Now onto more–scrambled cheese eggs–I do it a certain Clarkson way with bacon bits, cheese and sour cream; Polish eggs–the same only with hash browns mixed into the eggs-omelette’s with green peppers, onions, ham, bacon, avocado as the favorite items and of course cheese; muffins–our favorite being oatmeal and also blueberry or pumpkin; also, apple coffee cake; cottage cheese pancakes with strawberry or blueberry topping.

But one of the family favorites, which I do when I run out of time or get up late, is Whole Wheat Pancakes. I use this recipe below. The great thing about this recipe is that you can change it by adding just a few items. The ones pictured below are my regular ones–pancakes with grated apple, pecans and cinnamon.

Sometimes I add chocolate chips and have made a smiley face with them; or blueberries, one to two squished bananas with chopped nuts; hot peach sauce on top, hot apples on top and whip cream on all of it if desired. The girls in our family prefer real maple syrup and the boys prefer Aunt Jemima or log cabin light.

Of course we always light candles and put on some kind of music.

Somehow our table looks sparse now that we only have 4!

Whole Wheat Pancakes
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat (or white) flour
1 1/2 cups milk or yoghurt
2 -4 tablespoons honey, sugar or maple syrup-depending on your taste
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs with beater until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients until smooth. You can add up to 1/4 cup of milk if you prefer thinner cakes, but we like them fluffy and thick. They do spread out on your griddle–though sometimes I give them a little help when I put them on the griddle by spreading them out a little with my spatula. Let them cook until there are lots of bubbles showing on the surface of the cakes, and they are beginning to dry out on the edges. This makes enough to feed all 6 of us. You can halve the recipe and feed 4 if they are not big eaters!

*as an aside, I always grate apples to put in the pancakes. I also add pecans to some of them. You can also fold in blueberries. Yumm–a great way to add whatever you happen to like! (Once a woman told me that she followed this recipe and her pancakes turned out really heavy. I grind my own flour and don’t add more flour if the batter looks wrong–I add a little more milk. They are pretty light for us–hope it works for you!)

Next, I like to decorate for each season. I keep lidded plastic boxes with the season’s decor and it just takes me a small amount of time to decorate my whole house. (autumn, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter, Spring and summer) I like, also, these  tall glass cannisters that hold whatever you want in the bottom and  candles on the top part as pictured below. You can get them in all sorts of sizes–expensive designer ones or Walmart or Target. The reason I like them is that you can just put different things in the bottom of them, place a candle on top and it is an instant centerpiece on a table or coffee table. In autumn, leaves are on the bottom. At Christmas, I put tiny red and green Christmas tree balls in one and pine cones in another I have; small hearts at valentines with a red strand of beads during January and early February, etc.

Providing can also be  designing traditions just for your family that take on a life of its own. Every year for a few years, we took a trip to the local apple farm and picked our own apples, ate a picnic out in the fields. Then, some weekend, we would all peel apples, slice and cut them and freeze them for applesauce and or warm apples to have with our soups in the winter. This year, our apple farm had a freeze and so we bought 3 boxes of organic apple  to use for our recipes. We always watch the Anne of Green Gables series while doing it and I think we have every line memorized. This year, since our family is ridding itself of lots of our plastic, we decided to put our recipes in jars. I must say we missed the boys as they always did a lot of work with us on these!

The final outcome so far: 17 jars of homemade applesauce and 12 jars of apple butter (minus the jars eaten!)

 

Now, tonight we will do the last box–apple pie filling!

We so enjoyed praying for all of you today. It was such a good time of fellowship with my girls–I should do this more. Have a great day tomorrow and know we are in His loving and wonderful hands.

Grace, peace and an abundance of His love to all of you today!

Sally

 

A Breakfast Celebration…..just because


 Scrambled, cheese eggs, homemade toast and Yorkshire Gold tea.

Thick purple and black clouds, sparkling crystal drops dangling from tree limbs, and mist dancing in the shadows of the trees met me this morning as I had my quiet time in the wee morning hours–it was a visual feast as is reputed here in the Colorado mountains. 

I was thinking about how this kind of beauty sometimes calls to a deep longing in my soul for more–more of God, more of love, more of purpose and adventure and life. I think that these longings are here because we were created by God to experience deep intimacy, profound beauty, heartfelt satisfaction. Yet, Paul tells us that in this world we see as through a mirror dimly. These shadows of reality here are but a taste of what is to come. Our longings are there because God made us to have them fulfilled–and so they will be in His new heavens and new earth. 

And so I told the Lord how very grateful I was for such beauty and goodness and love. My heart was full. Clay and Sarah are  are in Nashville, so it is just sweet Joy and me to hold the fort down this week. Even though I knew Joy had to go to work by 8:40, I wanted to share a moment of beauty, love and delight as God had shared it with me. So, before I awakened her, I lit the candles, prepared the food and tea and put on an old Celtic album that we love so that my little princess could come down the stairs to a few moments of civility and delight, devotion and prayer. 

I have seen that when the atmosphere and table are set, as God had done for me in the beauty around me this morning, God shows up in special ways for my children, too,  and allows us to have great moments of conversation and devotion together. 

As an aside, Joy has been a child care worker for 3 years at our local mops program. Our children have always had to work for extra cash. On a ministry salary, life has demanded that all of our children have had to work a bit. Last summer, Joy and a friend hosted Explorer Camp for younger children, where they read books, made crafts, dressed up as explorers and this is how they made money for the summer. This year, we will have some Princess camps with tea times and stories and crafts–(Thanks to Beth Martinez for the idea!) And they will also host, Mom’s Day out camps with great adventures, stories and crafts to earn money for a trip in the fall.

I used to feel “bad” that we could not provide our children with all the things they needed in their lives, on our salary and with our limited resources. But now I see, that God’s way has been great for my children. By them having to learn to work and make money, it has made them more responsible, thankful, humble and more prepared to enter into adulthood with a realistic understanding of money and work. So, I am thankful for His ways in my life, even though I may not have known to ask for them earlier! Some pressure and hardship is the very building block of our children’s souls, so I learned as I was pondering all of this while writing Dancing with my Father, that His ways are to build His character in our lives. Ultimately, these paths give our souls satisfaction and freedom and peace. 

On to my day! Grace and peace to yours!

PS. I HAVE HAD SEVERAL EMAILS FROM MOMS ASKING IF I KNOW OF ANY OTHER AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND MOMS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN HOSTING A MOM HEART CONFERENCE THERE OR IN ATTENDING A TRAINING TO START THIS MINISTRY THERE–I WILL COLLECT NAMES AND EMAILS AND SEND THEM TO YOU AS A GROUP, SO YOU CAN KNOW EACH OTHER! (SALLY@WHOLEHEART.ORG)

Snowy day vacation party and celebration

View from my bedroom window (tree house in background)

Many years ago, we determined that all the days when we were snowed in would become some kind of a vacation day for us. I am still getting back to normal anyway, and was in the mood to celebrate home, and to spoil my girls for working so hard, and traveling so much the last couple of months. I believe in helping children to learn to work hard and then we always play hard–a sort of reward for work well done. I have seen so many children over the years who grow up resenting ministry or missions or their mother’s careers–so I have a filter in my heart that seeks to notice when I see any burn out coming from having too much of an outreaching or public life as a family or too many activities and then I draw my family in and refresh them and also myself, before we give of ourselves to the point of total burn out or exhaustion. 


 

Sarah, Joy and I, pajama’d and fresh from long sleep, squatted in front of the fireplace, with shawls to keep warm. Since it was closer to lunch than breakfast, I looked in the fridge to see what was available. A sweet friend had brought a meal to spoil us the night before, and I had a small bag of pasta, left, so I cut it into small pieces with scissors. It became a pasta salad–tuna, English peas, chopped onions with a small amount of ranch dressing and mayonnaise mixed. Yumm–think I will do that again. fruit salad, cherry scones, (in my heart shaped pans–acquired at a sale after Valentine’s day years ago), also,  (I keep a stash of Sticky Fingers in my cupboard for easy scones when I do not feel like following a recipe) apricot raspberry jam and real clotted cream from the cupboard recently acquired; egg salad sandwiches on a whole grain baguette from the afore mentioned  dinner; and maple ham sandwiches on my own loaf of homemade bread. 

Passionately discussing amidst munchings and “this is great, let’s do it again–can I have this for my girls at our picnic next week” covered such subjects as:

*why homes, beauty, love, relationships, friendship traditions speak to unanchored, wounded who long to see the touch of God but have never felt it in their own homes–and preaching will not help until they have felt the real love and compassion of God from a real person so they can understand, by experiencing what God is really like.”

*how excellence cannot be passed on to children and youth unless they have seen it and had it intentionally been trained by it over and over again from parents. How different the very souls are of those who have not tasted the reality of discipleship as a way of life.

*I hope I marry a man who wants to have a life-giving home so we can reach out to those who have never experienced this kind of life–I want to marry someone who wants to have a little land for gardens and roaming for our millions of children and places to play for hours. Me, too. Wonder where we will find such men?!” 

*education, and intelligence are not really acquired unless ideas are discussed, mulled around, digested in the mind, and owned by the one hearing such ideas–that education is a way of life and being–not just a curriculum to be followed”

*we should start a cooking club

*we should have a party for all of the dancers in my section of The Thorne (Easter production) so we can reach out to some of them.

*And then, reading out loud 2 picture books that celebrate Ireland–one by each girl and all done with an Irish lilt

And all of this as I sat and quietly drank my tea, allowing the princesses to pontificate to each other and the world–saying all those “Clarkson things” that have become a part of their own souls, watching them have fun, think, build bridges to each other’s hearts, and rest. I do think more education has taken place at our tea parties and dinners than through almost anything else we have done. We set the stage and the Holy Spirit and life and fun seem to show up. 

Then, all princesses had to help me clean the kitchen–to loud music, of course as we danced around the kitchen singing at the top of our lungs. a good time was had by all…….

Delight, Anticipation and Wonder

Oh, Christmas tree, Oh, Christmas tree, …. Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls my mom made for me 50 years ago.

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Flickering candlelight, shimmering slivers, golds, reds, greens and blues sparkling on a real tree inside the house; familiar songs that beg swaying and dancing; the smells of pine boughs, vanilla, sugar, spices, cookies, coffee, breads filling the air with invitation each different time of the day, lots of friends and family and hugs and kisses and celebration and presents,stories to stir up imagination of babies, wise men, young mothers, animals–all of these wrapped in one short period of a few weeks–all to fill the heart and stir the imagination to new dreams and the heart with lots of love—what’s not to love about Christmas?!

I have had many women write to me and ask if I thought it was pagan to celebrate Christmas and have trees and presents. Of course Clay and I pondered this many years ago and studied the Word and we came to our own conclusions as each family must do. But, we now see even more, how it was the delights of our home and the filling of emotional cups and the fun and making of memories and cherishing Christ and carols every day, that gave our children even more love for Him. Since our family is not pagan, the celebrations in our home are not pagan–nor the ways we choose to celebrate.
And I so love the family togetherness. When my children have lived far away, and now the boys do, coming home to celebrate together–to celebrate all that it is–is something they can hardly wait for–it is another of the invisible strings that ties our heart so strongly together..
When I think about the wonders of the first Christmas–astonishing, bewildering, unimaginable beings appearing on the earth; terrestrial choirs filling the heavenly sky; a heretofore unheard of star filling the night sky; wealthy, learned kings traveling from afar; a virgin birth in the midst of a love story; an old woman and an old man marveling and speaking of the messiah as the baby is dedicated- with celebration and feasting;–our Heavenly Father was the first to celebrate. He was the first one to document the birthday of Jesus–supernaturally with music and feasting and amongst the humble and the kings.
I love seeing the feasting–usually for days–in the old testament. God is a God of celebration. Christmas is a time when we bring friends and family into our home to be refreshed. It is a time of personal worship as I mentioned yesterday and a time of joy-work and preparation to say I love you to our family, whom God designed for the passing down of His story and of His love.
I think that sometimes people are afraid to have too much fun or to celebrate life. Yet, it is only when we do this fully, from our heart that we understand the joy of the Lord–the God who gave us the ability to be satisfied, to laugh and play games and eat merrily.
So, our family makes time to delight together. It is the organic life of Christ, the tastes, smells, fun, love and theology that gives the whole picture of this baby become king and savior. And so in a spirit of love, we celebrate Christmas–His coming to earth–fully and happily.
Some happy photos  friends sent me from the  coming and going in our Christmas festivities. Pictures of Christmas spaces in my home.

Living room coffee table–the stocking my mom made for me when I was a little girl. I love glass jars to put all sorts of things inside. (A good source is pickle jars–the big kind– from Sams. Good Will is another spot, and Hobby Lobby with great half-price sales.) 
 
Kitchen nook table–old Austrian table cloth on table with little snow houses collected through the years.

Den coffee table with Romanian hand-stiched cloth.

Living room hearth

Friends and food and feasting in the kitchen!
 
and of course sweet babies
 
and children delighted with food and a full house!
 
the dining room table and talking

The gathering room–living room from the stairs above.
 
Ending on the Word,….,
and a good time was had by all!