Monday, December 3, 2018

Buñuelos with Jesus




This week, I am participating in a fun holiday recipes blog hop with friends. Every day, one of us shares holiday recipes with our readers. Today is my turn with this post. I'll include some links at the end for my friends' posts, and will update the list later this week to add all the others.

Almost 20 years ago, our mission started Christmas trips to remote villages high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia where we are missionaries. My husband and Juan, a Quechua young man who was born in the Andes Mountains, began going to villages high above the tree line. These trips had to be made on quads because the roads ended before arriving to these villages. Then by foot, they reached the final destination––small
communities where life is hard, and the people are precious. Twenty years later, we still continue doing this ministry each Christmas, but now with the help of our Bolivian church.

Bread is a delicacy in the mountains. The highest regions don’t have firewood, but a little further down the mountain where there is firewood, flour is scarce. When the kids see bread their eyes light up––just like they do when they see toys. But, just as they readily accept the bread, they also accept the Bread of Life. They are hungry for both––bread to satisfy their tummies, and Bread to satisfy their souls. Every year we share the Christmas story in places where many hear it for the first time. Many now know the Lord.

In the valley and cities below the mountains live the more fortunate––although many still wait to hear of the Savior. But, bread is available and other delicacies as well. Here in the valley where I live, many wake up on Christmas morning to the aroma of Buñuelos frying I hot oil.

What’s a buñuelo, you ask? The sweet aroma in your kitchen of the finished product of this recipe will transport your thoughts to Christmas in the Andes Mountains. Can you imagine presenting a Bolivian donut (buñuelo) to a mountain child deprived of even bread? But, better yet, presenting the gospel to that child for the first time. Buñeulos with Jesus on Christmas morning!


BOLIVIAN BUÑUELOS RECIPE:

Buñelos are a popular snack throughout Latin America. While they can be eaten at
anytime, Bolivian tradition sees them eaten on Christmas morning with syrup and hot chocolate.

Buñuelos are a soft doughy sweetbread that is deep-fried in the same way doughnuts are made, with a similar flavor but a slightly more chewy texture, traditionally served drizzled with a syrup or honey. The buñuelos are often puffy with a crispy crust and air pockets on the inside.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon anise
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 cups butter
Molasses to taste
1/2 cup sunflower oil to moisten hands

Preparation:
In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in water, add the fresh yeast, let it stand for about 7 minutes, then add the salt, anise, eggs and flour, mixing it slowly with your hand until you obtain a watery dough. Let the dough stand and rise twice before you start frying in hot oil.

To fry, first spread oil over your hands, take a handful of dough with the fingertips and stretch it into a 4-inch round; rotating the dough occasionally to form a circle. When about to fry, poke a hole in the middle, and put it in the frying pan with a stick (when in the mountains) or the back of a wooden spoon through the hole. Let it acquire a golden brown color on both sides before retiring and leave in a colander to drain away excess oil.

Serve with a jug of hot sugar cane syrup, molasses or honey (or maple syrup) for each person to add the desired amount on the buñuelo. Note: Some Bolivians prefer to eat their buñuelos covered in sifted powdered sugar. Enjoy!


Come join the fun in our Holiday Recipes blog hop! (Provided links will activate on the scheduled day.)


FRI, Nov 30: Holiday Appetizers – Tracy Ruckman
SAT, Dec 2: Holiday Beverages – Rachel Hartsfield
MON, Dec 3: International Holiday Foods – Peggy Cunningham
TUES, Dec 4: Holiday Breakfasts & Brunches – Betty Thomason Owens
WED, Dec 5: Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes
THURS, Dec 6: Holiday Sides / Potluck / Buffets – Tracy Ruckman
FRI, Dec 7: Holiday Sweets – Rachel Hartsfield

SAT, Dec 8: Holiday Recipes Master List – Tracy Ruckman





Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Memorable Scenes

Thanksgiving was a traditional family gathering at my in-laws. The siblings came from near and far with their families. Entering the snowy driveway, we'd see the house with seven gables high on the hill. The roar of snowmobiles could be heard coming from the fields nearby––nieces and nephews enjoying Grandpa's toys. Beautiful horses galloped in the fields near the red barn. Approaching the house, we'd be engulfed by a whiff of the turkey; then Grandma opened the door and lavished us with hugs. As we'd sit down at the beautifully set table with its china and crystal, the golden turkey was the centerpiece, and the pumpkin pie was a sweet ending to the feast. It was truly a Norman Rockwell scene.


I miss those gatherings. They are but treasured memories now that many family members have entered eternity. The memories cause me to be thankful for the times past, and they make me conscious this Thanksgiving of how short my time is on earth. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever" (Psalm 107:1 NIV).

This Thanksgiving Day, I'll give thanks to the Lord for providing a way for me to have eternal life and for good health, family, and friends, and so many other blessings. And yes, good memories too. God is so good––enjoy His goodness––Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Memories of Military Moments


"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; 
his love endures forever." 
Psalm 107:1 (NIV)



I live with a veteran––50 years and counting. But, I married an Air Force airman. Veterans Day brings back memories, both good and sad. Good memories and funny ones of our first year of marriage at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas––yes, theLas Vegas. And, the sad memory of standing with a three-month-old baby cradled in my arms while watching my young husband ascend the skies in an Air Force plane headed for Thailand during the Vietnam Conflict.

Reflecting, there are many things to thank God for: his safe return a year later, traveling the country as a military wife, and the good and sometimes funny memories during those years.

This week we thank God for our veterans. Personally, I am thankful my soldier returned home and lived to become a veteran. But, that first year living on an Air Force base brings back one standout memory etched in my mind and heart forever.

The turkey tale I have to tell holds a special spot in my heart. It was a special turkey because it was the first turkey I tried to cook––two months after my wedding day. I have many precious memories to be thankful for this Veterans Day and Thanksgiving season. As the years pass, I realize that it is a blessing to be able to remember. This turkey tale wasn't funny at the time, but I can't help but chuckle each time I remember it now––decades after the event.

After many years of married life, I gained experience cooking turkeys, but as a new bride, I didn't have a clue. Nevertheless, I looked forward to cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner that year. Far away from our hometown in Pennsylvania, we celebrated alone but not as we planned. We lived on an airman's salary, so buying a turkey was a big expense for the special day. We got up early, and together we made the stuffing, packed it in the bird and shoved it in the oven. After a few hours, we checked the bird. We thought it strange that there was no wonderful aroma coming from the oven, and looking at it––well, it was still raw. Two hours more should do it––we reasoned. We closed the oven door and waited.

The table looked lovely with my wedding gifts of silver, crystal, and candlesticks placed on the perfectly pressed tablecloth. The potatoes were cooking, and the red cranberry sauce contrasted the green linen tablecloth––my decorating skills were developing. If only that turkey would cooperate. It didn't. After nine hours in the oven, it was tough and still raw. We were so disappointed that we took that bird for a long drive in the Nevada desert and threw it out of the convertible we were driving. Good riddance!

Did we ever know what happened? Never! But, I can tell you that story has been told over and over, and usually it sounds as though the cook messed up. I will never agree––it must have been the oven! My first turkey--tough and uncooked! That bird still haunts me today––every time its story is told. FYI, every turkey I’ve baked since exited my oven thoroughly cooked and delicious!

Remembering must be important to God. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible where God tells us to remember, or He remembers us and His promises. “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done” (Psalm 145:5). Memories!

I hope your turkey isn't a repeat of my turkey tale this Thanksgiving. It wasn't funny at the time, but what a good, funny memory now. We have so much to be thankful for this Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. I hope you make some good turkey tales on this Thanksgiving Day––funny ones too.

And, be sure to remember to thank the veterans you know this Veterans Day. Without them, we would not have the blessing of the freedom we enjoy––or the turkeys on Thanksgiving Day.




The Hooray for Holidays Series is now available on Amazon.




A Veterans Day Story




Book 4 of my new children's series released just in time for the holidays. Start the book this week with a Veterans Day story to teach children why we celebrate this special holiday.

Three Stories in one book.

Hooray for Holidays Book 4: Veteran’s Day Special-needs Cat, Thanksgiving Blue Mouse, and Christmas Llama Ride

Celebrate Veteran’s Day with Gypsy, a special-needs cat. She can’t hear, but she knows sign language. Gypsy’s best buddy, Quasi, is also a special needs cat. Because of an injury from a fall, Quasi can’t jump, climb to high places or run. But, he can help Gypsy when she’s in danger. When a threat arises, Quasi risks his life to keep Gypsy safe––just like our veterans did for us.

Next, enjoy the first Thanksgiving Day with the McBlew family. They are a family of blue mice, but they also have another strange family uniqueness. On a long voyage in a big boat, the Mayflower, they meet their new friend, Sarah, who keeps them hidden and safe in the belly of the ship. Arriving in the New World, they face many dangers, but their new friend, Squanto, helps them.

Finally, experience Christmas Day with Paco, a little Quechua boy. When Paco treks up the mountain with his sheep, thunder suddenly roars and raindrops splash. He runs for cover and almost falls down a slippery cliff. Bolting to a nearby cave, Paco stops abruptly before entering. It’s dark inside, but that’s not what scares Paco. It’s the two bright eyes peering through the darkness that makes him shiver. Who’s there?

The Hooray for Holidays Series is now available on Amazon.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

God's Perfume


God’s Perfume

How’s the year going for you? For me, it brought a novelty to our city down under the equator––Cochabamba, Bolivia. This modernity is huge. And, it’s the first of its kind where I live. What is it? 

It’s a mall! Could it be a real mall?We have a few shopping centers that pretend to be a mall. I had to see it for myselfDriving up to the entrance, I gasped, much impressed. It’s real. It towers above buildings nearby, and clean and shiny is an understatement. Quite the contrast from our marketplace where bathrooms are few, dust and dirt cover the streets, and aromas aren’t pleasant.

I ventured up the clean, shiny escalators––all five of them. After I’d visited four floors, I arrived at the top floor––wow, a food court. Finally, fifteen minutes into the tour, I returned to the front entrance. Done. No shopping. Many baby stores, but I have no babies, and sports stores galore, but I’m not athletic. And, I don’t need furniture. So I found a comfortable chair (unique also) and waited for my husband’s arrival.

Glancing through a store window to a street outside returned me to reality. Seated in that humungous modern building, I mentally bolted back in time. The picturesque view out the window captured Bolivia’s charm––a typical, tiny store, horns honking, and the simple life. I welcome change, but nostalgia comforts me. Just then, a familiar aroma engulfed me. I identified it immediately and followed the aroma––donuts, another novelty. Now those were worth buying. And, I did!

In my book, Dancing Like Bees, I write about change. We should constantly be changing to become more Christ–like. How? The Honeybee gives us a clue. Each Honeybee has a distinct odor for each member’s identification. How do we identify as Christians and change our world? 

“For we are the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

A mall provides a pleasant change to my routine, and a whiff of donuts entices my appetite, but reaching the odorant receptors of those around me with a distinct godly aroma is the change I hope for. How about you? Will you be God’s perfume?


Available on Amazon.com at: https://amzn.to/2CTfIIj 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Returning Refreshment


Fantasy or reality? You wake up to find yourself in this fantasy scene––enjoying the sounds and sights of nature. Relaxed and refreshed. Is it a dream? 

You see the waterfall. The flow of the water trickles across the rocks and bubbles into the lake––a soothing sound. The condor flaps its wings in the gentle wind as the setting sun warms your face before it is gone for the night. You pick a yellow daffodil, and your nostrils inhale the delightful fragrance. Then you reach out and touch the sweet lamb. His soft white wool caresses your hands, and he gently tickles your fingers with his kisses. You bend down and catch a glimpse of your reflection in the crystal blue water.  A sip of the sweet water quenches your thirst. You are refreshed!

A friend can do just that for you––refresh you. A note from a friend says I love you, and I'm thinking of you. Someone says, "I'm praying for you." A child hands you a flower and your heart melts. A sincere thank you for an unselfish act you performed gives you the warm fuzzies. 

 Proverbs 11:25b "he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." It's reality!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Forgetting God


What day is it? Maybe, a day to remember. At times, I forget God. I forget to pray. I rush remembering my schedule forgetting His schedule. Classes this afternoon, a writing deadline, a newsletter to write, emails to answer, the things that are always on my schedule. Am I forgetting anything today? Yes. God's schedule--a time with Him. Has He forgotten me?

When life gets so busy, it's easy to not spend time with the One who gives us all blessings. This last week, I daily asked the Lord for so many things--understanding in all I'm learning, health to do it all, and provision for our ministry and us––along with all those prayers for family, friends, and safety. And, I kept telling the Lord I wanted to spend more time with Him––but, I had Him on hold. Yes, I had devotions, and yes, I meditated on Scripture but had I blocked out everything so I could hear His voice? Not really!

But this morning, God gave me that time. I hadn't made time for Him, so He arranged a deserted place to be with Him. He said to them [me],"Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while" Mark 6:31(NRSV).

Our Internet server's tech guy finally arrived to find and fix the problem we were having with our speed. They had to cut our service to work on the issue. No internet and so many things to do. After pleading with God that He hurry those men along so I could get to the tasks I had to do, I heard Him say, "Come with Me."

I closed my computer and opened my Bible. I began reading in Psalms where I had stopped yesterday, and this is what it said...

"Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle" Psalm 144:1(NIV). I have been in a battle. Any time we are giving God's Word out, we engage in that battle, and it is a war. The enemy will do anything to keep God's Word from spreading. Now I am writing to get God's Word out, and I feel that opposition. Never before have we had so many unresolved internet problems. And, some days I feel like my head is going to explode from all the new things I am putting into it. But, God is training my hands and fingers so that I can write His message.

After spending time in God's Word, I wasn't uptight because it was taking so long to get my internet up and running again. I took a walk with God up the mountain behind our house. There were no camels there in my desert, only two ponies and what seemed like thousands of birds singing to Him––a little bit of heaven, a refreshing time with my Creator. I didn't have to travel to an exotic faraway place to get away from it all  (I already live in one), I just needed His refreshing presence.

I know God will teach me what I need to know, so that I accomplish the work He has for me. He is training my hands and fingers to write for him. He told me so today when I walked with Him.

What day is it today? Today (and every day) is a day to remember God. He never forgets you and me. Will you walk with Him in a deserted place today?

"The Lord remembers us and will bless us" (Psalm 115:12a NLT). Let's not forget Him.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Exercise Guru Not Required


Train in God's Gym:
Exercise Guru Not Required

Shape Your Soul:
31 Exercises of Faith that Move Mountains

Climb new heights of faith—move mountains of unbelief.

Embark on a journey to a healthy body and soul. Let your mind soar with condors at heights of 14,000 feet over the majestic Andes Mountains and challenge your soul to trust God while you trek through jungles at sea level––two paradigms of the author’s 31 stories. Train in God’s Gym and work out the difficult circumstances of your proverbial mountains and jungles. Each chapter also includes suggested physical exercises with biblical applications. 

Shape Your Soul seeks to equip you for God’s purpose and plan of your life.

Experience miracles, supernatural encounters, and everyday blessings of living for God through real-life stories of an ordinary, cowgirl boots and jeans kind of missionary gal who encounters the same physical and spiritual challenges as you––although different circumstances. 

Aspire to live in freedom—free to live according to God’s Word and experience His power and love. Allow God to stretch you and warm you up to a life of soul exercising daily! Learn to exercise your faith muscles on your spiritual mat. And, you don’t have to be an exercise guru to train in God’s Gym. 

Enter God’s Gym and exercise your body and soul so you can seize difficult life-mountains, in God’s strength, and move them!

Each chapter of SHAPE YOUR SOUL will:

*Inspire spiritual growth with stories of faith, adventures, and undeniable God moments.
*Suggest a physical exercise at the end of each chapter that also correlates with biblical applications.
*Encourage you to exercise your faith muscles so you'll soon notice the movable mountains in your path.

Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble



Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Children's Book New Release


A children's picture book of celebration and faith. Celebrate Easter with Max and Jake, the Golden Retriever brothers. Find out how a mysterious giant rabbit rescued Max on Rocky Mountain when he fell into a dark cave. And, learn how Jesus rescued us from our sin with the story of the Easter cross.

Then, enjoy Children's Day and discover how George the Saint Bernard learns to be obedient to his parents after leaving his yard without permission and tumbling into the beautiful cactus house of his friend Artie the Armadillo––ouch!

And, finally, party on the Fourth of July and say, "Happy Birthday America" with Kelsey, the Shih Tzu. Experience the history of the Fourth of July, the Declaration of Independence, and the first birthday party of our country on July 4th, 1777––a long time ago.
Heart-Warming Holiday Stories for Children

   Animal antics draw children in with vivid illustrations
   Historical tidbits are sprinkled throughout
   Stories end with Bible principles

   While learning history and Bible lessons, children will be entertained and giggle with delight at the humorous and whimsical animals and critters that will find a place in their hearts.

     Available on Amazon at: amzn.to/2GtElhN  


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Lovely Noise


Valentine's Day is here and images of hearts emerge everywhere. But, how is my heart and yours? Missionaries tell of how we came to our respective fields of service to love the people. Sounds easy, doesn't it? And, of course, it is what every supporter (and God) expects of their missionary. It's truly the desire of most of us. If I had to guess, I'd say most missionaries won't admit how hard it is at times to love the people they serve.

So let's examine the myth (the traditional story). You know the one. "We love the people we serve." Let me say; it's only God's love that allows us to love the people we serve. We love them because of God's love. However, you don't have to be on the mission field to find it hard to love others. Let's face it; some people are hard to love––maybe I'm one of them for some people.

 On the field, we serve the unwanted, the poor, the not so clean, and sometimes even the wealthy who have no material needs. But, God loves us all and desires for all to hear His Word and know and love Him.

How many times have I said, "These are the people we came to love." When I see a two-year-old child playing on a busy road with little clothing my first remark is, "Where is that mother?" And, not with loving words do I spit those words from my mouth. It's heartbreaking. Or, how about when the people I came to love don't want to hear about God and despise me? Do I love that person? It's not easy but possible. But how?

If we're honest, most of us know people who unnerve us. It may be a family member or even a good friend, but they are there to stay--stuck in our lives. So what can we do about these unlovable ones in our lives?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (TLB)

"If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn't love others, I would only be making noise...If I gave everything I have to the poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever."

There you have it--just making noise. I must love that mother who doesn't care for her children, and cuddle the dirty and unloving. That is God's love--not mine. So instead of making noise with my words, I must speak with God's love and show His love. Only then will I make lovely noise. Funny how the unlovable become lovable when God changes us not them.

The world begins the big love celebration in a few days, Valentine's Day. Let's celebrate God's love every day with a year-long Valentine's Day. The noise we make can wake a soul to find God but only with lovely noise that is from God's heart! Let's make lovely noise this Valentine's Day and not only love the lovable but the unlovable also.

Let me add one thing to clarify how much missionaries love the people we serve--no matter how hard. We know that we love them when we cry as much leaving them behind to go on furlough as we do when we leave our family and friends after furlough. We do love the people we serve. It's not always easy, but with God's love, it is possible.

Celebrate God's heart this Valentine's Day–-with chocolate too. I'm sure God loves chocolate! He gave us the cocoa bean. He loves us that much--and much, much more.

Let's be of value and make lovely noise with our words.

Happy Valentine's Day––all year long!



Monday, January 8, 2018

Holiday Stories


I'm excited to share the cover of the first book of my new children's series, Hooray  for Holidays, Book 1 is now available on Amazon.

Start the new year off reading about Quasimodo's new hairy, scary friend—a cat and a tarantula. And, finish the year celebrating with a lost Quechua boy and a llama on Christmas Day during a rainstorm in a mountain cave. The complete series includes three stories per book with a total of four books. They will be released quarterly in 2018––starting in January.


The heart-warming holiday stories with adorable animal antics, history tidbits, and Bible principles plus beautiful artwork will delight children and stretch their imagination. And, adults will recall historical facts forgotten from their grade school days.

Each page incorporates real-life animals and critters in and around our ministry base, Rumi Rancho, as the main characters. While learning history and Bible principles, children will giggle at the humorous and whimsical animals and critters that will find a place in their hearts forever. 


This little guy is in every illustrations, but he's hiding. Kids will love searching for him throughout the series. Why is he blue? You'll have to wait to read his story. 




Available now on Amazon