A Warm Drink for a Chilly Day!

I am so excited to be back home in Colorado, but I must admit the warm temperatures in California were a welcome break from the subzero cold! Maybe I should have a home in both places–in my dreams!

How can I get my body acclimated to the cold again? Staying in bed with the covers over my head perhaps? Oh yeah, I have responsibilities–that won’t work!

Warm drinks do help me! But I can only take so much caffeine! One of my favorite warm drinks to serve at teas and for my evening Bible study is spicy apple cider. Now I have made the traditional wassail and it is delicious. But there is an easy, “cheating” version, that I am more likely to do this time of year, when I have less time and energy to prepare.

The recipe is embarrassingly simple: in a crockpot, pour in a gallon of apple cider and a bag of Red Hots! Let it warm for an hour or so or until the red hots melt. I have also heated this on the stove and it comes together much more quickly in a pinch. The fragrance is like standing in an apple orchard with a bit of “zing” in the air. (My friends always ask me for the recipe and I just smile and say, “It is an old family recipe.”

Often, I will pour the red hot juice back into the Apple juice bottle and serve it up one mug at a time–just heat on the stove or in the microwave.

Let each of your children choose a favorite mug and enjoy warmth from the inside out! And maybe pull out Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter if you need some encouragement that this isn’t the longest winter ever!


Christmas ~ A Time to Enjoy Reading Aloud!

Sarah’s Book on Books ~ a great Christmas gift idea!

On a storm-blown Sunday afternoon in a creaky old manor house in England, I rediscovered the timeless delight of classic children’s books. It took me by surprise. I was one of about thirty international students studying and living in England for the summer, and this was our first British teatime all together. A shy, awkward silence had fallen about us as we tried our best to balance philosophy, sophistication, and hot mugs of tea, when one of our tutors said something that sent us all staring.
“Let’s read Winnie-the-Pooh.”
A swift current of suppressed mirth ran the length of the room, but we were up for some fun, and the tutor assigned each person a part in the story. Pooh’s expedition to the North Pole was the story of choice, and before we knew what was happening we were immersed in the comical, compact world of the Hundred Acre Woods. The story had all of us — tutors, college students, post-graduates, old, and young — laughing until our sides literally ached.”
Read for the Heart pp. 113-114

Reading together as a family is a Clarkson tradition. Hours of memories have been made around good books. During the holiday season, busyness can rob you of precious time spent together as a family. Since all children should sleep at night, should being the key word, start the bedtime routine a little bit earlier and pull out a favorite book to read. If Pooh is a bit daunting by its size, try some holiday picture books or some shorter chapter books. Two that are recommended by Whole Hearted children are The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Cosmic Christmas. Enjoy their reviews!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a book I like each Christmas because it is a funny, family-friendly story.  It has inspired me to look at Christmas differently and a little more realistically.  For example, what if Jesus had colic?  The only thing about this book is that it has some questionable language so is better if Mom or Dad reads it aloud and edits as they read.
~ Reviewed by 10 year old young lady

Cosmic Christmas by Max Lucado ( also recently published as The Angel Story) opens a unique porthole into the uncommonly written realm of angels.    It is written from Gabriel’s perspective on his mission to give Mary the seed of Christ as Satan is desperately trying to stop him.   While it is written from a biblical Christian perspective, this soul stirring book provides a new look on the ” all is calm , all is bright”  normal theme of Christmas.

This book is a must read in our home each year.
~ Reviewed  by 13 year old boy

What books are you reading to your children this holiday season? May the Lord bless the time you spend together!

Great quotes! Louisa May Alcott’s home.

Too busy talking to friends, so I asked Joy and Christie, (my daughter and her bf) to write the past couple of days as they share some of their impressions. What fun I am having and how blessed I am to have a few days of pure fun! Here are just a few of the great quotes we saw as we walked through Louisa May’s home–the author of so many wonderful books, including Little Women.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
- Louisa May Alcott

So true.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
— Louisa May Alcott

“A faithful friend is a strong defense;
And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.”
— Louisa May Alcott

Great memories and tears coming to my eyes several times. What fun we have had running through halls of history, homes of great writers and talking, talking, talking as we go.

The girls brought tears to my eyes yesterday morning. “Who gets to have an education like this! To read their stories and then to see the lives these great people lived and to know the rooms where they lived and wrote, the places they fought battles–makes us so very grateful to have known and seen these things! It makes me want to think, “How am I going to live my life in such a way as to leave a legacy of faith or courage that will help and influence others.”

And so we have been busy every minute, and in the evenings we have had precious conversations with friends where we are staying and being treated to great meals, rousing conversations and heart-felt prayers. Such a blessing to me and a filling of my soul. All grateful to God for strewing my life with such blessings.

Deb, Jane, me and Shelley (below) staying up too late but having fun talking around the kitchen table. What great food and hospitality. 

Off to see Paul Revere’s home! and then training to New York City for more fun and friends. Have a blessed day.

Just a little something from Europe!

Seek first the kingdom of God,…..

My kingdom is not of this world.

Loud, noisy cars rushed through the changing lights, threatening our very lives. Honking, chattering, yelling, boats whistling, pubs, billboards, cafes, bikes, hundreds of pedestrians listening to ipods, the underground/above ground train swooshing through the bridge over to our side, and Joy and I thought we must be in the wrong place.

Looking for a small grave yard-where Susanna Wesley, John Bunyon and Isaac Watts were buried. Suddenly, we saw a gate. There in front of us, with a pathway through the grave yard–for walkways to and from the busyness of life, and between modern apartments–were the grave stones–some hundreds of years old-and we sought and found the very inconspicuous tombstone of the three we sought. Just a grave, small grave stone, with the years they were alive and when they died. John Bunyon had a little larger commemoration–but no mention of Pilgrim’s Progress–just his name. There were no lines or tickets to see these and to remember the greatness of what they had accomplished. 

These three spiritual giants, had faithfully lived their lives, influenced thousands–millions–Wesleys–to love God, start spiritual movements, (Isaac Watts–”When I survey the wondrous cross and hundreds more) to worship Him in music, (John Bunyon–15 years in prison–writing Pilgrim’s progress)to stay faithful on the obstacle course of life–to build children into godly leaders–yet the evidence of their influential lives and ways they were used by God’s spirit to literally change the course of their world was in no way marked or recognized–at least not in this world.  So important to the world of faith, hope, love and kingdom work. 

In contrast to this, Joy and I had spent two prior days in long lines spending too much money to pass by the crown jewels and marvel at the amount of gold used, diamonds, rubies, emeralds displayed in all their glory. We had seen castles from afar, clothes that royalty wore and marveled at the distance between the rich and the poor. The cathedrals we saw in England and especially in Paris, were built on the backs of the poor, who had not much food or ways to live well, but were built all glorious for the wealthy leaders who desired such places of glory. 

The palaces, art museums, cafes, gardens were attended by thousands, (lots and lots of googling Americans) to observe the splendor of people whose glory was a thing of the past–yet these had had a kingdom in this world, and now they were all dead. 

Whose kingdom am I building? Where am I looking for rewards? Whose glory will people look into my life to see–the things I collected or the people I influenced and the kingdom messages I left–food for thought as we have been traveling. 

I so love having these days, alone with Joy, to talk to her about these great ideas, the Lord, life, messages, love and enjoying it all alone without disruption of telephone, computer, email or cooking and washing dishes. A real gift to us, planned for for years, and reaping the deep rewards of making time for our relationship–I am so blessed. Grace and peace from Austria–my seconds on the internet are now up!

Adventurous Summer Reading

My name is Marissa and I have been given the opportunity to write some book reviews for Mrs. Sally Clarkson’s blog.  This spring and summer I have challenged myself to read 50 books. While looking for interesting books, I used Sarah Clarkson’s Read for the Heart as a reference.  I found about 40 of the books I am going to read for my challenge in her reference book, it was a great help!

One of the books I read that Sarah recommends in her book was “My Side of the Mountain”  by Jean Craighead George. This book is adventurous from front cover to back cover and is a great read for children and parents alike. This book tells of the adventures of a boy named Sam Gribley, who runs away from home and lives off the land in the Catskill Mountains. This book was such a great read!  I found out it was part of a trilogy, so I read all three books and they were equally entertaining!  

Another book that Sarah recommends in her reference book was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book was so engaging, that it only took me a week to read.  Between myself, my mom, and my dad, we were all in a competition to see who would finish first! In this novel, from  “An Unexpected Party” to “The Last Stage,” this book was packed with adventure as well as lessons learned by Bilbo Baggins. I recommend this book for Jr. High or High School age kids, just because of the goblins, dragons, and other things that may be frightening to younger children. The adventure all starts when a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is asked to be the burglar of a group of dwarfs who are trying to recapture the kingdom that was stolen from them by the dragon Smaug. The party of dwarfs and Bilbo set out on a quest to regain the dwarfs kingdom, but encounter many troubles along the way. 

I have also just finished an audio of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle. I must say, it was a good book, but I didn’t enjoy listening to the narrator sing the songs throughout the book. It just wasn’t my cup of tea!  Everyone has their favorites, this just wasn’t one of mine.

Maybe this could be a challenge you would want to join me in? Let me know some of your favorite books or not so favorite!  I have just started my challenge a little over one week ago.  So I have 2 books down and 48 to go!  My next selection from Sarah’s reference book is Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  

These books are all great reads and there are many more listed in Sarah’s Read for the Heart that can be enjoyed. Sarah’s book was a tremendous help in finding books that would appeal to me for my 50 book challenge.  To purchase Read for the Heart click HERE.