Friday, October 28, 2011

Gluten Free Friday ~ Chicken Tenders & Creamy Cider Sauce

























It snowed here last night!  After a summer of cold and rain, it was not exactly a pleasant sight either.  As I drove home from a Bible study at Amherst College in the evening, it felt and looked like a blizzard.  The lights were shining brightly down on the school's playing fields which only highlighted the amount of snow that was falling and blowing around in the air, as well as the blanket that had already accumulated on the field.  Knowing the temperatures were going to drop into the low 20's, I wondered how my recently planted mums would endure and whether or not the pumpkins decorating my front porch would survive until Thanksgiving, which is the date after which I might expect a little of the white stuff ~ not October 27!  On my solitary run this morning, I had to carefully tiptoe over the bridges on our bike trail because they were covered with frozen snow.

I ran alone, because Robert got up at 3 a.m. this morning in order to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Texas where he will be speaking at the funeral of a dear friend of his and his family's tomorrow ~ a beloved coach and teacher of Robert's who had struggled off and on with health problems most of his life probably all stemming from a battle with Hodgkin's disease as a 19 year old boy.  He was 61 when he passed away on Tuesday.  We were enjoying a bit of a "fall break" on Cape Cod when we got the news.  Praying today that the Lord will speak words of comfort through Robert as well as extend an invitation to receive Christ to all of  Coach's friends, family, and fishing buddies ~ which is what Coach requested and what his wife has asked of Robert.

Came across a recipe a few weeks ago that inspired this one.  It seemed such a perfect autumn dinner with its apples and apple cider, and my family raved about it.  So, even though we've had a bit of a winter wonderland here, I'm trying to hang on to the last few golden days of fall!  The leaves have turned from bright colors to a rusty version of each, which is almost as beautiful, but signifies the coming of the end of the season.  I suppose the snow is an indicator of that, too!  (boo hoo!)


Chicken Tenders & Creamy Cider Sauce

10-12 chicken tenderloins
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup GF flour (I used my rice, tapioca, potato mixture.)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 onion, finely chopped (I used a red one, as you can see ~ not necessary, just all I had!)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, sliced thin
1 tsp thyme (I used dried, not fresh)
1 1/2 cup apple cider (the real stuff, not juice)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste


For Chicken: Combine GF flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet.  Dredge each tenderloin in flour mixture and then place in skillet.  Cook tenderloins in the butter/olive oil on each side until golden ~ about 7-10 minutes.  Place cooked chicken in a baking dish and keep warm in a low temp oven until sauce is ready. Keep skillet drippings.


For Sauce: Heat skillet drippings and add onion, apple slices, and thyme.  Saute for 3-5 minutes until apple and onion are softened.  Add cider and bring to a boil.  Keep boiling until there is a reduction of liquid of about one half.  Now stir in cream, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  Continue cooking and stirring until sauce is thickened a bit.  Spoon sauce over chicken on each plate to serve.  (You could also puree this sauce in your blender if you don't want chunks of apple and onion!)


We had roasted potatoes, broccoli, and acorn squash with ours!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gluten Free Friday ~ Pumpkin Love Smoothie

 

It is just so beautiful here now!  The leaves are at peak colors, it's breezy today, the sky is blue, and it's a perfect 65 degrees. (Perfect for SOME people, that is.  My perfect is more like 85 degrees, but Robert simply loves to pull on his fleece jackets.)  We went for a 6 mile run this morning and marveled that we live in such a gorgeous place.  It really is a blessing to be surrounded by so much beauty.  

This is a big weekend for us.  Newcomer's Night at church tonight, and Robert's birthday on Sunday.  We're having an open house on Sunday to celebrate several things ~ his birthday, his 20-year ministry anniversary, and also our upcoming sabbatical.  We'll be taking the months of December, January, February and part of March off, and spending that time in Texas, so the party will also be a way to let our church know and say some temporary goodbyes.  I'm starting to get a little nervous with the realization that there could be over 100 people at my house on Sunday afternoon ~ and praying for good weather, because they  will definitely not all fit inside!

In my menu planning for the party, I've been flipping through some old magazines for inspiration, and last night I came across a recipe for a pumpkin smoothie. (It was Better Homes, not Real Simple as shown here.) I'm not sure how I developed such a love for all things pumpkin, but growing them, eating them, and decorating with them while living in New England just seems so right ~ so full of integrity in this post-card perfect place with its quintessential harvest season.  So, as soon as we returned from our run, I knew what my breakfast would be!  I made a few changes to the original recipe, and it was absolutely delicious!  Kayla tried a spoonful, and gave it an 
"Mmmmmmmm...that's good!"

 As soon as I finish giving you the recipe here, I'm off to chop up some other squash varieties as well as lots of cheeses, veggies, chicken, potatoes, and more in an attempt to feed my party guests on Sunday!  Pray that it is an encouragement to Robert and sweet time of fellowship with our wonderful and even extended church family.

Pumpkin Love Smoothie

1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup plain yogurt (or vanilla, but I don't like all the added sugar.)
1 frozen banana
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp honey or agave
1/4 tsp vanilla

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.  Top with a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream and sprinkle with more cinnamon.  Drink while gazing out your kitchen window and watching the reds, yellows, oranges, and greens blow gently off the trees.  Send hubby out to purchase mums in similar colors to plant in front yard and eventually greet party guests.  Help with an occasional algebra problem, grammar conundrum, or essay on Julius Caesar.  Add milk to thin if needed. Yum!



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cold, Rainy, Fall Day = Pumpkin Tartlets


Here's another recipe re-post!  It's cold and rainy here today ~ can't seem to get warm in my own house, even with lots of layers!  Thankful that our field trip to the Apple Barn for apple-picking, a hay ride, and pumpkin-picking was canceled this morning, but getting a little weary of the rain up in these parts.  How I wish I could send it to my friends and family in Texas and Oklahoma ~ they need it much more than we do!  The weather does make me want to bake, though, and so this is what I'm thinking on this dreary fall day... (though I think I will hold off until the weekend and Robert's birthday party!)
(photo from Fine Cooking website ~ not exactly what this recipe will look like, but close!)

Pumpkin Tartlets

Crust:
1 cup rice squares cereal, finely crushed (Rice Chex is gluten free!)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or GF flour blend)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, or dairy free alternative
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Filling:
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup milk (rice or soy will work also)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or whatever flour blend you like)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

For crust: Mix rice flour, crushed cereal, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Grease muffin tin, or use muffin liners, and spoon crust mixture into each. Set aside some of the crust mixture to sprinkle on top of each tartlet before baking. Press crust down with spoon or fingers.

For filling: Mix together the pumpkin, oil, GF flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Fill each muffin liner with the pumpkin mixture and sprinkle remaining crust on top of each.

Bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Let cool in muffin tin for about 15 minutes before removing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gluten Free Friday ~ Pumpkin Souffle

   The beautiful colors that have arrived this week have made me want to start cooking all-things-pumpkin-and-squash.  This is a recipe re-run from 2007 ~ but with pictures this time.  This re-run is partly because Robert and I are running the Hartford Half-Marathon in the morning, and I've got a million things to do before I pick him up from the Hartford airport tonight.  He's been at a leadership conference in Dallas, TX all week.  The half-marathon sounded like a great idea a few months back when we registered, but this has turned out to be one crazy weekend!  I had to recruit my friend Lois to be my stunt double in the morning and take my kiddos to all kinds of early morning activities ~  6 a.m. departure for a cross country meet for Cooper (it's in Rhode Island!), 7:45 a.m. PSAT for Kory ,and a 9am swim lesson for Kayla!  Whew.  I'm so thankful for her willingness to help us out!

This is an easy souffle, that works great as a side dish alongside roasted chicken or even beef.  My kids absolutely love it when I make this.  (Pretty sure it's the brown sugar and cinnamon that draws them!) Don't be disturbed when your souffle "deflates" though.  This photo was taken right after it came out of the oven.  I can almost guarantee it's flattening out and caving in ~ even if you are very quiet and don't make any sudden movements!  ;-)

Folding the egg whites with the pumpkin mixture...

Just out of the oven...



Pumpkin Souffle

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 deg. Place a baking dish with an inch or so of water in it in the oven to heat. The souffle will bake in this pan of water later.

Mix together pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and salt. Beat egg whites until stiff. Add egg whites to pumpkin mixture, and gently but thoroughly combine. Pour into a 1 quart baking dish and set in the pan of hot water. Bake 30-40 minutes.

This recipe can be doubled, but I've tried tripling, and it doesn't work very well. Better to use several 1 or 2 quart dishes if you're feeding a crowd. One recipe only serves 4-6 people.

Happy Fall!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Old and Ugly or Wonderful and Good?

Ugh. This hair.  It looks terrible! And the gray...goodness, it's even more visible since I got that trim last week.  Natural highlights? Ha!  And why can't I be like all those other women who can leave the house with their hair wet, and only look more gorgeous as it dries naturally? 

This is what I think as I wrangle with my hair dryer, flat iron, and wide-barreled curling iron....

It's no use. Just brush it, spray it a bit, and surrender to the bad hair day.  It's 8:55a.m. and there's no time for what would be required to fix it.  Who would believe that the lady about to teach the Doctrine for Women Sunday School class is having fits over her hair 20 minutes before class?

Reluctantly, I lay the brush down on the dresser, and begin to walk out of my bedroom, where I catch a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror...

Ugh.  This outfit.  It's just awful!  I like this sweater, but it doesn't really go with anything ~ definitely not this skirt.  It just feels frumpy and unfashionable.  Why can't I be like all those other women who have such a natural sense of style ~ simple and casual, yet elegant?

OK.  Get over it.  Today you are just going to have to be old and ugly.  It's 9a.m. now and your class starts in 15 minutes. There is no time for a wardrobe change. Get in the car and drive to church.  Fashion sense is not a godly virtue anyway.  Today you will only be spiritual which goes much better with ugly than stylish does.  Right?
(I was the OLD lady with the BIG nose and chin.  Which lady do you see?)

Class is over and we're all walking out together...

"I love your sweater!" says Erica.  "Where did you get that?  It is so pretty."

"Oh....thanks....ummm....I found it at a little boutique in an artsy Texas town," I try to be gracious.

"Well, it's really pretty.  You always look so nice and perfectly put together." continues Erica.

"Thank you," I reply, but at the same time I tell myself that Erica is a theater major and just uniquely able to verbalize encouragement to EVERYONE she sees.

The worship service is over now, and I have managed to get my mind on the music, and the sermon, and Jesus ~ thank goodness.  I may have had a few anxious thoughts about my hair and outfit, though.  I get up from my seat on the second row and head toward the back of the sanctuary thinking to myself...Just get home, feed your family, and your lunch guests, and then you're home free ~ a ponytail will fix everything.  Then, I spot Vicky who is headed in my direction...

"Did you get your hair cut?" she asks with a smile and gentle pat on my arm.

"Yes," I reply, " about a week ago."

"Well, it looks great....so pretty," she says.

"Really?" I ask in sincere disbelief.

"Yes, really.  I love it." Vicky reaffirms.

Oh.  Okay, Lord.  I get it. I hear you.  You don't view me through my critical lens and neither do the people around me.

"Thanks. Vicky, I know the Lord sent you over here to encourage me, because I left my house feeling very old and ugly today ~ like I had aged 20 years, and should finally just admit the obvious and surrender to the inevitable."

"No, no, no.  That is not true.  You look beautiful," my sweet friend replied.

And guess what the topic of my Doctrine class was that morning?  
Creation and Our Creator God.

Shouldn't the teacher know better?

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. 
Gen 1:31

For we are His workmanship...
Ephesians 2:10

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth...

...Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
try me and know my anxious thoughts 
And see if there be any hurtful way in me 
and lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139

Thank you, Lord, for truth ~ and for grace in the way of encouragement rather than further condemnation.  Taking a little break from the glass mirror today, and looking into the mirror of truth.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

You're Still Homeschooling Your High-School-er?

Seems like we are getting this question a lot lately. Yes, we are the crazy people still homeschooling our high school aged kids.  Even us ~ the two parents who absolutely loved our high schools, excelled there, enjoyed probably too many extra-curricular activities and clubs, stayed out of trouble for the most part, went to dances and football games, and made dear, life-long friends.  So why would we keep our own children from this supposedly wonderful experience?  And how in the world does a mom and elementary education major teach trigonometry and chemistry?

The answers to the "why" question are really no different from the ones that compelled us to begin homeschooling in the first place:

1. We want to be the primary influence in the lives of our children, and have the freedom to impart our faith to them on a daily and even moment-by-moment basis.

2. Both the one-on-one tutorial teaching method as well as the independent study method are ideal educational atmospheres.

3. We want freedom to choose a classical approach, as well as quality literature and textbooks from which to educate and influence the hearts and minds of our children.

4. We prayed about it individually and together, and as best we could tell, it was what the Lord was leading us to do. (He sent all kinds of key people and specific encouragement our way, especially as we prayed about whether or not to keep homeschooling through the high school years.  It just seemed like a VERY clear answer.)

The answer to the "how" question is, first of all, by the strength and grace of the Lord.  Really.  I could not do it otherwise. This is not an easy road, and there are many days on which the yellow school bus and eight hours to myself are VERY appealing.  But second of all, having a schedule and good resources are key. Here is a peek into what Kory (age 16) does during his high school homeschool week:
We started making  charts like this for Kory when he was in the Challenge I program of Classical Conversations.  Actually, I started making ALL of my Challenge I students a chart like this, filled in with all of their assignments for the week, because they had a LOT of work to do, and as it was their first year of high school, they were having trouble keeping up.  We kept up the tradition last year for Challenge II, and are using the same method this year ~ his junior year ~ even though Kory is not in a Classical Conversations program with other students this year.  He and I sit down on Sunday nights and fill in all that needs to be accomplished in each subject for the week.  Monday through Friday he works almost completely independent of me.
 
I stopped teaching Kory math after he completed Algebra I in 8th grade.   Surprisingly, I made A's in Algebra I in high school, but then cried my way through Algebra II.  It was not pretty.  So, for the last two years, Kory has used CD-Roms that accompany the level of math on which he is currently working.  He is able to hear an instructor teach through each lesson, and see the sample problems being worked out on the computer screen.  If he gets stumped by a problem in his daily problem set, he is able to click on that particular problem, and see how it is solved.  His Spanish course is taught in a similar way.
 
Chemistry (or any science, really) is also not a strength for this English minor mama, so Kory is taking a Chemistry course via M.I.T.'s Open Courseware program.  You may be able to tell from these photos that this course is quite a challenge, but Kory does enjoy watching the lectures by a real M.I.T. professor.  It's fast paced, though, and assumes some background in high school chemistry, so we may need to re-think his chemistry credit for the second semester.  Angstroms, nanometers, and moles ~ oh my!  Robert is trying to give him a bit of chemistry coaching during breakfast here.

Oh ~ and creating a high school transcript and student resume is made easy over at AcademicRecords.net. Plug in the course, the grade, and the extra curriculas and ~ voilá!

 But what about socialization?  This is the inevitable second, if not first question asked in regards to homeschooling ~ especially when you are homeschooling teens.  Won't they be weird and socially awkward?  And our family supposedly has two strikes against us in the socialization department, because not only do we homeschool our children, they are also "pastor's kids."  Talk about a recipe for being a social misfit!  It's almost a given, huh?

Actually, the "pastor's kid" thing has afforded my kids the opportunity for real service and full, meaningful participation in the church and community.  Kory runs the PowerPoint slides for our worship band and his dad's sermon almost every Sunday.  He participates in a weekly small group men's Bible study, has helped on occasion at a local homeless shelter, and even as I type, he is away at a retreat with other high school juniors who will be traveling to various overseas locations this coming February.  His destination?  Turkey.  I am so thrilled that he has this opportunity.
 Our local high school also allows homeschoolers to participate in their athletics program, so Kory has played both football and baseball over the last two years.  Daily after-school practices, and away games that require hours on a school bus with other teenage boys is PLENTY of socialization in my mind.  Once, upon discovering that Kory was a homeschooler, a baseball teammate commented, "Wait.  You're homeschooled?  Aren't you supposed to be socially awkward???"  
Here's to breaking the stereotype!
Kory also attends a youth camp on a college campus every summer, where he usually manages to escape the "pastor's kid" label by failing to mention to his peers that it is his dad that is up there on stage every night.  ;-)
He is required to earn a portion of the cost of his overseas trip, so he has been doing yard work all summer for a couple of local families, and he recently got a job working with the "non-Essential" (hee hee) kids of our local Classical Conversations program.  They are the younger siblings of the kids in the Essentials program that happens from 1-3pm every Tuesday afternoon, and since moms are required to be in class with their students, Kory gets paid to assist another mom who teaches nature observation and physical fitness to these little guys for those two hours.  Can you tell they are a handful?  The great thing is that they absolutely LOVE having this "big boy" around.  

Academics?  Check.  And he's mostly on his own ~ perfect college prep! 
Socialization?  Check.  And that with peers, adults, young children, and a even a community in need.

The praise for all of this belongs to the Lord.  The One who called us to this homeschool journey is also the One who leads and sustains us in it.  He provides the wisdom.  He provides the opportunities.  He provides the strength.  Even on the difficult days, of which there are many, I am grateful for the opportunity to be home with my kids in this capacity ~ now especially with my high-schoolers.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Homeschool Prep: Antiques and Nostalgia

 The temperatures are hovering in the 60's (almost freezing overnight), the apples in the orchards are a ripened red, and the traffic has dramatically increased in this multi-college town.  All the signs of back-to-school-time are present,  and we even got an early start this year.  This blog post is about two months late, but our school year did start fairly early ~ mid-August, I believe.
I think I already mentioned that there were chocolate waffles for the back-to-school breakfast.  Everyone also got a few new school supplies on their plate.  Kayla and I spent a few days prior cleaning up the school shelves and drawers from the last couple of years, and I learned that two years is too long to let that go!  I spent about three days choosing what books needed to go to the attic and which ones needed to stay.  There was artwork to sort into each kid's container, markers to test for dryness, pencils to toss or sharpen, and lots of paper to recycle.  These were the before and during shots...
 
We also found a few homeschool "antiques" , which means that some items had been on the shelf or in the drawers for MUCH longer than two years! Does anyone still have bags or containers holding 100 pennies as Saxon Math directed for their 1st or 2nd grade curriculum?  Or the dollar and quarters and other change that was used in the daily "coin cup" in the early years?  Yep, we had them all, so now I'm about $7.32 richer. 
(Starbucks, anyone?)
What about stacks of those pastel math flash cards from the same years?  And not just math flash cards, but we found millions of Latin flash cards as well!
These are Kory's old Latina Christiana I & II and Henle Latin flash cards.  As heartbreaking as it was (look at ALL of that work!) I recycled every one of them, since they are in his not-super-legible handwriting (he's better at cursive), and because the younger two are using different Latin curricula.
We also discovered that the glue bottles and big scissors had all found spouses and had gotten busy having babies.  Good thing!  Now I don't have to go out and buy any more.  We found these families lovely homes in our freshly cleaned out school drawers.

Oh, it felt so good to get this project done.  Now our school year is in full swing ~we're about 7 weeks in.  Stay tuned for what the kids are doing this year, especially my high school boys. I get lots of questions about homeschooling in upper grade those years.  
So far, so good!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gluten Free Friday ~ Lazy Puffy Pancakes

Sunday nights are greatly anticipated around here because of our traditional dinner of pancakes, eggs, and sausage, but last Sunday I just didn't want to go to the trouble of individual grilling and taking orders for chocolate chip, blueberry, strawberry, banana, or some combination of the three.  I had a vague recollection of hearing about a puffed pancake that is baked in the oven, so I pulled out a few cookbooks and quickly researched this giant oven pancake.
It was SO easy, and it uses more eggs than flour, which is great, because making gluten free pancakes for a crowd can be costly.  You can still add toppings after you cut it into squares, but we just used syrup and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Lazy Puffy Pancakes

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup GF flour (I used rice, tapioca, potato ~ I think less rice flour would be better, as it is a bit heavy for this batter)
1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the 3 tbsp of butter in a 9x13 baking pan and let melt in oven.  Whisk together remaining ingredients.  Remove the hot, buttered baking pan from oven and pour pancake batter into it.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve warm.

So easy when you're feeling lazy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sisterhood and Sanctification in Slick

What a gift this past weekend was!  It's so consistent with the character of Christ that when you are called upon by Him to teach or serve or lead, the joy is not so much found in what you were able to give by His grace, but in what you received because of that grace. A few months ago, my friend, Shemaiah (far right), called and asked if I would be willing to speak at her church's women's conference on October 1.  Shemaiah was a student in our student ministry when Robert was a University Minister in Stillwater, OK, and we became close friends during that time.

I flew out last Thursday, and first thing Friday morning we met up with two other sweet friends from that same Oklahoma college ministry ~ Jenny and Neena.  We spent two hours eating a delicious breakfast at a cool Tulsa,OK cafe (gluten free waffles for me!), catching each other up on our lives and marveling at the glory and majesty of our Lord.  I walked away with a full heart from this sweet sisterhood and fellowship, and could not help but exclaim to Shemaiah on the way to her car, "THAT was such a blessing!  It is so special to be in the company of those who are following Jesus with all their hearts!"

Oh how I wish I could write for pages about HOW that is playing out in each of their lives, but here's a little summary:  Neena's (far left) father, a recent convert to Christianity from Islam, passed away two weeks ago.  The funeral was a testimony to his brief, one and a half year, life in Christ, as well as to his Muslim brother who he had been reluctant to tell about his new faith.  Neena's brothers had numerous occasion to share the gospel with him.  Also, she recently had some long term prayer requests answered in the way of deep fellowship and mentorship with other women.  Jenny (second from left) and her husband have been in foster care ministry for a while now, and are helping to bring adoption to the forefront of their church and other area churches.  They have rocked and held and loved on many little ones in the past few years and will never know the full impact of their care, but their own little boys will ~ and are already understanding the gospel in new ways because of watching them.  And Shemaiah and her husband have been entrusted with many deep griefs and burdens since they got married in the way of illnesses and deaths.  They have been caregivers to many, even while Aaron has struggled for years with an ever escalating case of Crohn's disease.  Even now they continue to serve the families of the school where Shemaiah teaches as well as those of their church as part time children and youth ministers.

Oh ~ there's so much more to tell about the ways these ladies inspire me, but I'll leave you with just those small nuggets.
I also got to catch up with another dear friend ~ Karla.  Karla and I were both married to ministers and in the "having babies" stage of life when I lived in Oklahoma. We became fast friends, but have been out of touch for the last couple of years.  I was so happy when she responded to an email I sent letting her know I would be in Oklahoma for the weekend.  Not only did she attend the women's conference at which I spoke, but she met Shemaiah and me at Starbucks for coffee beforehand. We had over an hour to do some catching up before the event.  Not enough time, but I don't think the time ever really would have been sufficient.  Another sister who inspires me by the way she perseveres in Christ in the midst of her own heartbreak and pain.
Saturday evening took us to Slick, OK!  That's right ~ Slick.  It is just north of Gypsy, OK (thanks, Aaron), and if you are picturing the middle of nowhere, you would be absolutely correct.  After a lovely dinner, there was some old-hymn-congregational singing with Teresa, a  mini contemporary Christian concert by Stephanie, and a lastly, my talk on surrender to the sanctification process as demonstrated in the life of the Shunammite woman of 2 Kings 4 & 8.  I love reading her story and being exhorted by the godly way she responds in each season of her life. I have been able to share this talk to groups of women two other times, and it is a privilege each time.
The pulpit was about ten times as big as me!  Fortunately, there was a small platform on which to stand behind it, so that you could at least see my face.  There were several sweet, smiling, nodding faces in the crowd of 50 or more ladies, which encouraged me as I spoke.
Sunday morning was time to say goodbye to Shemaiah.  I forgot to mention that Friday after the lovely breakfast with friends, Shemaiah treated me to a shopping trip to Mardel (homeschool and classroom supplies galore, Christian books and music in abundance, gifts and cards ~ oh my!) AND a trip to the spa where she got a facial and I got a massage!

Was I spoiled by God's abundant provision and blessing or what?  Truly blessed, and reminded that I am not alone in the sanctification process, but rather in the company of many godly sisters ~ even in places like Slick, OK!  :)