Thursday, December 30, 2010

In the Quiet of the Night...

Last night I lay on my bed, head in my hands as I found myself mulling over the same things I seem to habitually think about. Finally, when I realized my train of thought was only taking the same well-trodden paths (paths one can only mull over so many times before they become monotonous...) I finally stopped everything simply to listen. Some of my favorite sounds are those of nature: early morning 5 a.m. as the world awakens from its slumber and late, late night... As it happened it was one-something at night and I was still not sleeping. Confession: I usually sleep with a fan on, in need of some steady background noise, but as I had just decided to lay in silence I made no move towards the fan. Steady was the patter and splash of the raindrops outside my window, the wind seemed personified as the breath of the night's deep slumber. The trees with their branches like a tender hand, brushing the hair from its face of fear.

Yet, despite the occasional moan from the restless breeze, there reigned a calm that seemed to stem from somewhere deep... a sigh as the wind passed my window, as if knowing the morning would bring the answer to whatever questions held the dark blanket of worry over the night's eyes. And so I took the advice from the sounds of the night and slept. Can I say I found answers to my questions when I awoke this morning? I can not, but I'm learning to continue in God's strength and guidance as I wait. I'm learning that I can be open with God about even my most frequent doubts. I know He has done miracles in my life - I have many answered prayers accounted for and to testify of - Regardless, it remains difficult to wait for the one thing I've been praying for, for what seems like years. But, I trust that God is working steadily there too - as He is working and has worked in the smallest details of my life... and just as steadily as he listens to my heart when it is lonely, impatient or confused about my future. He, above all, understands me and I know Him as my dearest, most precious friend and I only hope to understand Him more as I continue on paths of discovery in this life.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chewy Brownie Cookies

This is a favorite cookie recipe that we pull out for all sorts of occasions, but it is perfect for Christmas with a cup of hot chocolate or glass of eggnog. I hope you love these as much as we do and I wish you a merry merry Christmas!

Chewy Brownie Cookies

2/3 cup shortening (or butter)
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1 tbs water or milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
12 oz package of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1 cup chopped nuts

*Baking tip: add a squeeze of lemon juice to the batter: This activates the baking powder and keeps cookies softer longer. Another way is to place a slice of banana bread in with your cookies in the storage container because this also keeps them moist.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, beat shortening/butter, brown sugar, water and vanilla on medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda/powder. Gradually add to sugar mixture beating on low speed until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons on cookie sheet.
Bake 7 to 9 min or until cookies are set.

Cool 2 min, and remove from cookie sheet to foil paper or cooling racks.

I like to serve these fresh from the oven.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FAIL... or not to fail...

I really don't have much to say, other than the fact that I had not yet realized how much I'd allowed school to take from me... in light of being rested and maintaining my creativity this semester. Yet... as I sit here at 12:55 this Friday night, in the quiet of my living room, I've already devoured one book through and through: finally time to read! Most of my household have found their beds, my dozing siberian husky is at my feet, and the hum and crackling of a warm fire is in the hearth... I won't be found wanting... regardless of how I am tempted to feel: exhausted. However, I shan't succumb to the wearies placed in temptations way for me to exclaim ownership over. It's so simple: look for the curses and the misfortunes and ye shall find them; look for the blessings and the gifts of grace and ye shall find them.

What have I to complain of? So I am in debt from my pursuit of education. So I am exhausted mentally and physically from this same pursuit... I am alive. I can feel my blood pulsing through my veins and through my yearning heart. It's a heart that wishes to continue to know my Savior more and to not be quieted as it was this semester in the din of all chaos and attempts to control destiny... It's a lonely heart at times, yet, beats for the cause of health and vigor to continue forward... to see what lies ahead.
I must express a peace at finally being home after such a semester and am contented to see how my holiday pans out.

And ps: one particular delight of my evening was the moment when my own dear mother decided to comment on her disdain for a certain mac product not meeting her expectations. She promptly stated aloud, "FAIL." :) Oh the things we pass on even to our parents.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's so easy...

Sometimes when I sit down at the end of the week, as I'm doing now, I don't even know what to do with myself. Honestly, I wonder if it is going to be like this forever. It's not that it's bad, it's just not extraordinary. I wrote last of feeling melancholy; it's a feeling which has apparently decided to take root in my soul this weekend. Although ultimately reflective of a large portion of my character (half sanguine, half melancholy... go figure that one out...) I don't hold disdain towards these feelings when they come upon me, the portion I find disconcerting is when I don't have the time to revel in them. I enjoy quality alone time, or even quality one on one time with my friends just as much as I love being in a group environment. Only, I am thankful for the ability to sit here in the quite of my apartment and simply write. I underestimate the enjoyment I find in touching my fingers to the worn, black squares of this keyboard. I underestimate the importance of taking time to myself, for renewal in my Savior...

Opening my eyes at 5 this morning, it was yet dark outside, and the first words on my lips were in prayer. I felt this overwhelming need to pray. I woke up praying about everything I could even imagine that may be in need of prayer. My mind keeps flitting to the song by Leeland called "Tears of the Saints." I'm going to post it here. I have talked to so many lately, my own family, my friends, strangers and children of our Father in Heaven, all who are hurting and crying out to God. This is not a joyous time of year for everyone. There are the most basic needs that are seeming to be neglected and unheard by God. Yet we stretch out our hands, we reach them out: All of us. Whether for more, whether for lack of, whether for need or want. We, all of us need. Yet, in my human nature I have yet to learn to let go, to accept lack of understanding as an answer: don't know if I'm supposed to? It is this paradoxical paradigm of push and pull wrapped around the deepest parts of human nature, until we become desperately turned around from contemplation, drowning ourselves in circles.

One could sit and wonder about the endless tragedies that gouge the face of this earth, that leave our minds, pock-marked and sallow in bewilderment that certain things even occur. In fact, perhaps this is why you can even find me sitting here in my living room writing this. My week has left me numb. I will not pretend to hold answers or to offer some deep philosophical enlightenment to the questions I've referred to. All I can do is encourage you, my friend, and to encourage myself to look from where we have come. We are here, in this very predicament, whether favorable or not, for a reason. I would not go back to where I was any more than I would forsake the growth I have obtained from coming from it. I only wish to move forward. It does me no good to wallow in the strikes pooled against me.

This world is not my home. Though the tears of the saints flow as a dark ebony ribbon, we have an intercessor of whom we may thank for the ability to find hope in even crying out at all. All I know is that were it not for Christ's death on the cross I would not have hope: for the crushing of his connection with the Father, all for the sake of that moment when his breath was renewed again in his broken body... so that we might draw OUR breath from him... All I know is that I cling to this. I offer no answers save the ones that find light in the fact that our Savior is risen, and this is not our home.

I beseech thee, my friends, let us not give up.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's new?

It is finally the end of the semester, and as I'm wrapping up classes that I've mostly enjoyed and at the same time have dreaded, I'm finding myself rather melancholy. Perhaps I am only tired. But what ever it is that's pulling me down, I'd like to kick it to the curb. I don't have time right now to thoroughly enjoy a nice melancholy mood. Usually I like to wait it out with lots of blogging and write a song or two, or paint something, but as I don't have time to do any of these things at the moment, mr. melancholy you shall simply have to wait. I enjoy you, and I appreciate you, but my life needs to hang on to some more sanguine smiles for now... at least until tests are over and I can finally sit down with an ink pen and some clean pages, or even a lovely book to curl up with. Then yes, it will be farewell society and hello my melancholy bliss!

I'm just not at liberty to rendezvous yet.