A delicious family favorite…
Caramel Layer Chocolate Squares
1 (14 oz.) pkg. caramels
1 pkg. German Chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided in equal portions
1 cup chocolate chips
Combine caramels and half of evaporated milk. Cook over low heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Grease 9"x13” pan. Combine dry cake mix, butter and rest of the evaporated milk, and chocolate chips. Stir just until mixed. Press half of dough firmly in pan. Bake 6 minutes at 350*. Spread caramel mixture overall. Top with remaining half of dough. Spread gently to cover. Bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Let stand until cool before cutting.
From Roxie Kelley and Friends, With Heart & Soul (Maryland Heights, Missouri: Cracom Pub., 1995), 90.
Preacher Charles Spurgeon once said in a sermon, “We are about to let
autumn preach.” And we would do well to listen. In yet another sermon,
Spurgeon elaborated on what the fall season reveals about God:
“To the Christian it should be great joy, by means of the
harvest, to receive an assurance of God’s faithfulness. The Lord has
promised that seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, shall never
cease; and when you see the loaded wain carrying in the crop you may
say to yourself, “God is true to his promise. Despite the dreary winter
and the damp spring, autumn has come with its golden grain.” Depend
upon it, that as the Lord keeps this promise he will keep all the rest.
All his promises are yea and amen in Christ Jesus: if he keeps his
covenant to the earth, much more will he keep his covenant with his own
people, whom he hath loved with an everlasting love. Go, Christian, to
the mercy-seat with the promise on your lip and plead it. Be assured it
is not a dead letter. Let not unbelief cause you to stammer when you
mention the promise before the throne, but say it boldly—“Fulfil this
word unto thy servant on which thou hast caused me to hope.” Shame upon
us that we so little believe our God. The world is full of proofs of
his goodness. Every rising sun, every falling shower, every revolving
season certifies his faithfulness. Wherefore do we doubt him? If we
never doubt him till we have cause for it we shall never know distrust
again. Encouraged by the return of harvest, let us resolve in the
strength of the Spirit of God that we will not waver, but will believe
in the divine word and rejoice in it.”
“Every revolving season certifies his faithfulness.” This is a biblical
perspective of autumn. So let this fall be more than simply a time to
enjoy the beauty of the season. But let it be a fresh certification of
the faithfulness of God to keep all of the promises of God. What
promise can you confidently ask the Lord to fulfill in your life today?
Remember, no stammering allowed.
(Taken from Charles Spurgeon, “Harvest Time, August 11, 1904 and “The Joy of Harvest, Farm Sermons)
Like many Christian children growing up, we didn’t participate in Halloween or get visits from the Easter bunny. But that didn’t mean we missed out on all the fun. Mom believed there was something else to celebrate: God’s kindness in the change of seasons.
So, on the first Saturday of autumn, we celebrated Fall Special Treat Night. Mom would invite a small group of our friends to participate. Everyone came dressed as a different character—usually a princess or Mary (Jesus’ mother) if you were a girl, or a soldier if you were a guy.
We would have a dinner of hot dogs, chips, jello, etc.—but each portion of the meal was eaten at a different person’s house. We would walk to designated homes nearby and a parent would drive us to homes further away. And not only did we get a meal, but candy at each person’s house as well.
The most memorable stop was Grandpa and Grandma Mahaney’s where Grandpa would have a bowl of pennies with dimes mixed in. We had to close our eyes and fish around in the bowl trying to come up with as many dimes as possible in our little fist. With candy, coins, and a full tummy, I think we felt as rich as any millionaire!
But more than that, from an early age we learned to mark and appreciate the change of seasons as a lavish expression of God’s common grace to man. And that, indeed, made us truly rich!
This recipe provides a fun alternative to pumpkin bread…
Colonial Pumpkin Bars
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup pecans, chopped
Cream butter and sugar together. Blend in pumpkin and eggs. Mix remaining ingredients together and add to creamed mixture. Spread in a greased 10"x15” pan, or (for a cake) in a 9"x13” pan. Bake at 350* for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the pan. When cooled spread with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend cream cheese and butter well. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and blend well.
Roxie Kelley and Friends, Just a Matter of Thyme, (Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel Pub., 1998), 115.
...the Mahaney, Chesemore, Whitacre, and Bradshaw couples, plus Chad, will be vacationing in Chatham, Massachusetts for the week. During our teenage years, this was the Mahaney family getaway spot each summer, thanks to a couple who owned a house in Chatham. However, it has been almost seven years since we’ve been back. Because of Dad and Mom’s incomparable generosity, and the kindness of Nancy Whitacre, Kathy and Amanda Spiro, and Janice Dillon who are watching the four little guys, we’re returning to one of our favorite spots in North America—and maybe even the world.
But not to worry, you won’t have to go the whole week without a “Girl Talk” fix with your morning coffee. We’ve already got a whole week’s worth of posts coming soon to you.
We want you to have a little fun along with us this week, and since the first day of fall falls while we are gone, we are inaugurating our own little “Autumn Festival” on the blog. Complete with recipes, activities, and musings—we hope you will enjoy the splendor of autumn along with us.
So don’t touch that mouse. Stick close by to see what’s coming up next…
Our good friend, Dr. Al Mohler, writes with characteristic insight about cosmetic surgery on his blog this week. We thought it would be the perfect follow-up to Monday’s post on beauty. Make sure to read Dr. Mohler here.
Today marks five years that Steve and I have been married. Throughout this week we have been reliving these past five years and marveling at the grace of God through many significant changes, challenges, and most of all—joys. By His grace, we love each other more today than we did five years ago.
Each year on our anniversary, I write Steve a letter, and he writes me a poem. On this special day I want to share one of them with you. Steve wrote this poem, “Eclipse,” for our anniversary two years ago, in September of 2003. But first, a little background.
In February of 2003, our son Jack was born via c-section. However, five days after his birth I was readmitted to the hospital in severe pain. After emergency surgery, it was determined that my colon had ruptured, a life-threatening development if not corrected in time.
I spent the following days in and out of the hospital, fighting off a serious infection and dealing with various unexplained complications. By June of that year I was healthy enough to have a second surgery to repair my colon. And by the time our third anniversary rolled around, I was finally beginning to feel “myself” again. The doctors still do not agree or fully understand what happened, but I am grateful to God to be alive today.
So will you indulge me for a moment? Steve—how can I thank you for your tender care: not only through this trial, but every day of our married life? Your humility, leadership, passionate love, and constant joy have made being married to you something better than I ever could have imagined. And so, I say again, “As you are mine, I am yours. I give away myself for you and dote upon the exchange.”
This poem was not originally written for public consumption. But I share it with you today to remind us all to be grateful for the loved ones God has given to us—whether spouse, parents, siblings, or friends. But most of all, to help us remember that no matter what trial we face, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24)
Some emotions are so powerful they can only be expressed in metaphor.
For Nicole, on our 3rd Anniversary: September 16, 2003
A wedding, some rings, a marriage begun,
Bright were the rays of this rising Sun.
Days swept by, stars circled above
Found Earth and Sun growing in love.
A year gone by, one year became two
Sun warmer still and this love yet grew.
Two and a half years, barely the morning begun
Earth basking in the light of his love, his Sun.
The proof of their love soon came to be
A little Moon brought forth; the womb did flee.
Suddenly light flickers, and quickly it fades
Earth’s bright world thrust into gray shades.
The color is gone, only shapes remain
As Sun grows cold, her heat restrained.
This little Moon has begun his new orbit
But cannot replace, much as Earth loves it.
Moon, he shines, a wonder since birth
But grants not the same warmth to Earth.
The Sun, Earth’s love, the only source
To provide Earth’s heat in matter of course.
The eclipse - not total, yet still severe
Where has Sun gone? For her Earth peers.
What is happening? Earth questions, he wonders.
Will this bond be so quickly ripped asunder?
Will my Sun set premature?
Is Earth a lonely life meant to endure?
When will the day resume?
My light, my Sun, this flower, yet bloom?
This day together, is barely begun,
How can so quickly Earth lose his Sun?
Despair it beckons, and invites Earth to taste,
The bitter thought “this day is a waste.”
Anxiety calls, worry stands close
But finally Earth remembers what matters most
A closer companion than any other one,
The One who holds and keeps safe his Sun.
Stronger than Sun, and bigger than galaxy
He forms the bonds that hold safe Earth’s family.
He intervenes to end the eclipse,
The darkness recedes and loses its grip.
Until finally Earth’s Sun again burns bright,
And color and texture come back into sight.
Warm again, the chill darkness fled,
As Sun’s bright rays fall soft on Earth’s head.
Without Sun, Earth grows cold
And Moon shines not, it must be told.
But Sun is here, brighter than ever,
Yet to eclipse, Earth prays never.
And so Earth dances and Moon he laughs
At sight of Sun back on her path.
For now all is as should be,
My Sun has come back
To bring warmth to Me.
This Saturday, I’ve invited Mom to meet with a group of ladies who support their husbands in small-group leadership in our church, and who often lead ladies’ meetings on a consistent basis.
Mom, Nicole, Janelle and I have led various small groups of women through the years. As a result, we are always on the lookout for great questions to promote fellowship. The following are some questions we compiled recently. I’ll be handing these out on Saturday, but we thought that those of you who lead small groups might benefit as well. Hopefully these “starter questions” will serve to promote fellowship among the women that you lead.
- Share your conversion testimony.
- Describe your current practice of the spiritual disciplines.
- What is a passage of Scripture you have been meditating on recently?
- What fruit of the spirit are you cultivating?
- What sin are you seeking to weaken?
- How are you seeking to grow in expressing biblical femininity?
- Here is an evidence of grace that I observe in your life.
Yesterday I wrote of the incredible blessing of a praying friend. But even more wonderful than a friend’s prayers on our behalf is the truth that our Savior is praying for us—today. Listen to what our favorite Mr. Spurgeon writes regarding the following verse:
“I have prayed for thee.” – Luke 22:32
“How encouraging is the thought of the Redeemer’s never-ceasing intercession for us. When we pray, He pleads for us; and when we are not praying, He is advocating our cause, and by His supplications shielding us from unseen dangers…. We little know what we owe to our Saviour’s prayers. When we reach the hill-tops of heaven, and look back upon all the way whereby the Lord our God hath led us, how we shall praise Him who, before the eternal throne, undid the mischief which Satan was doing upon earth. How shall we thank Him because He never held His peace, but day and night pointed to the wounds upon His hands, and carried our names upon His breasplate!”
—Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, page 23
A mother wrote to us with the following question:
“I have a 15 year old daughter who is a young woman trying to live by biblical principles. Do you have some advice for us regarding this stage of her life where she is very aware of young men and noticing their biblical qualities and character but also being in the season of still growing up, maturing, finishing school… that season of ‘marriage is in the future’? How can we help her guard her heart? Keep her emotions in check?”
As my mom always reminded my sisters and me: liking boys is normal! God made us to be attracted to the opposite sex. And as a young girl grows into womanhood, these desires will certainly become more pronounced.
And how wonderful that your daughter is attracted to godly character in young men and not simply enamored with outward appearance or personality. That is a sign that she has been trained by her parents to discern what is truly admirable in a man.
However, we also have the poetic and yet solemn warning from the Song of Solomon: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (S of S 3:5, NIV), followed by the holy assumption in 1 Corinthians 7 that “the unmarried…woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit” (1 Cor. 7:34).
In the teenage years, the fact that God has created us as women to be attracted to men, and the biblical admonition to guard our hearts until the appropriate time, must remain in constant, healthy, tension. And your daughter will need your help to do this!
For starters, my mom initiated an ongoing conversation with my sisters and me about guys; consistently asking who we were attracted to and why. “Being attracted isn’t a sin,” she told us. “But indulging in thoughts about them, going out of your way to be around them, allowing them to distract from your pursuit of God and service of others is wrong.”
Purity was to be our constant pursuit; for Scripture exhorts us to “flee youthful passions” (2 Tim. 2:22). Through constant conversations about our hearts, helping us to avoid situations that would tempt us to impure thought or deed, and a steady diet of God’s Word on this topic, Mom and Dad were our greatest help in our quest for purity.
However, it wasn’t only about “fleeing passions.” Mom helped us to see that in addition to fighting for purity we must also be busy pursuing the things of God. Sitting around trying not to think about a guy will only have limited effectiveness; but a young girl who is busy serving Christ won’t have much time left to indulge her emotions. So let me encourage you to help your daughter find ways she can use her spiritual gifts, serving in the home and in the church.
Finally, until a young man had expressed an interest in us, Mom helped keep our feet firmly planted on the ground: “Think of him as someone else’s husband,” she would say. “You wouldn’t consider it appropriate to daydream or fantasize about a married man. And most likely, this guy you like will be married to another woman someday. Assume he is not going to be your husband unless he makes his intentions known.” And for your fifteen year old daughter, that time will probably be some years away.
There is so much more that could be said on this topic. I’ve barely even started, and this is already a long post. We cover purity and courtship in some detail in our book, Girl Talk. But in case you haven’t heard of them, I want to highly recommend Joshua Harris’ three books: I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl, and Not Even a Hint.
I pray these few thoughts, but more importantly, these helpful resources, will serve you in helping your daughter walk the path of purity throughout her teenage years!