Thursday, 16 August 2007

Taking a longed-for break....Back soon!

These last four weeks of the summer break from school have been some of the hardest I have ever worked. It has been gruelling, both physically and emotionally, as I have tried to keep up with the demands of my little growing clan... I have cried, laughed, screamed, given the occasional smack, baked, cleaned, smiled many a time, played, prayed and delighted in my three children. They have interracted and played with each other, day after exhausting day; they have fought a lot, cried, got sick, laughed, made an incredible amount of mess, and I have gratefully witnessed the beautiful foundations of some life-long friendships being laid.

But Samuel's difficulties have become ever more apparent as I have spent so much more time with him, and I have struggled to not let anxiety about him and his haywire behaviour beat me down. Praise and gratitude (plus a generous dose of facebook and blogging...) have been like a God-given medicine, and my only means of surviving through some very tough challenges. Through these I can really testify to God's strength being made perfect in weakness!! Thanks be to God.

And now, there are less than 3 days to go before we are there at last (here and here you can see more pictures of holiday life in that awesome garden and part of the world...: photos taken by my beautiful sister-in-law, MC). What can I say??

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

The Lord knows.

He knows how I am so desperately looking forward to this time away from everything: time to be renewed, recharged, regenerated, and abundantly blessed. He knows I love my kids and my home but that I need a holiday and that the thought of not spending the next two weeks alone with them in the confines of this house fills me with excitement!!! God, in His love and generosity, has provided this little piece of heaven on earth for us all. He knows our needs before we even have the words to express them. And then He provides even more than we could ever ask or imagine!

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.

And now, goodbye. I will have much to say on my return, and I will miss you all and my computer, but heck, it'll be worth it!


Monday, 13 August 2007

Lemon Meringue Pie

Ok, it looks like I'm starting a series on lemony desserts...

Lemon is my favourite ingredient ever for sweet recipes (even savoury in some cases), and I can think of many many more to put up watch this space!! They are all tried and tested - and truly delicious, if you're a bit partial to lemon, obviously.

I made this yesterday afternoon on a whim, and it's too yummy for words. Here goes.

* Pastry:
4oz plain flour
2 oz butter (or 1oz pure lard to replace 1 oz of butter)
pinch of salt

* Filling:
10 floz cold water
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 oz golden caster suger
3 tbsp cornflour
3 large egg-yoks
1 1/2 oz butter

* Meringue:
3 large egg-whites
6 oz golden caster sugar

First make the pastry. Rub the sifted flour (+ salt) and butter together with fingertips until you have a crumbly mixture then add 1tbsp water and start combining with a knife until you get a ball of pasrty which will leave the bowl clean. (Add more water if necessary, but only tiny amounts at a time). Pop in a polythene bag and refrigerate for 30 mins.

The lemon filling is really simple. Place the cornflour and sugar in a bowl and mix enough water into it to make a paste. Boil up the rest of the water in a pan together with the lemon zest, and when it has boiled for about a minute, take off the heat and slowly add to the cornflour paste in the bowl - then return to the pan and simmer for a while (about 1 min), stirring all the time until it becomes a thick, glossy sauce.

Off the heat, add the egg yokes one at a time, and finally the butter. Leave to one side.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg yokes till you get stiff peaks. Then gradually add 1/4 of the sugar at a time. Leave to one side.

Take your pastry out of the fridge and roll out. Place in your chosen pie dish (quantities will fit neatly into a 9 inch wide [24 cm] + 1 1/2 inch deep [4 cm] tin) and prick base all over with a fork. Bake blind in a 190 degrees C oven for about 20 mins, or until it's cooked through but not too brown. Immediately turn oven down to 150 degrees C once you've taken the pastry out.

Put your lemon filling in, then gently cover with the meringue mixture, taking care to not leave any gaps where the filling might ooze out during baking.

Finally bake for 45 mins approx, on the middle shelf of your oven. The pie should come out looking golden and crunchy on the top.

Leave for about 20 mins before tucking in, to give it time to set a little. Can also be eaten cold, but I doubt you'll be able to wait that long!!

Nice with double cream or ice crem - or both :o)


Thursday, 9 August 2007

How do you feel about me, God?

The Lord - my Friend, my Lover - knows me. He knows I love flowers. He knows receiving a bunch of flowers from my husband makes me feel precious and loved. And cherished. And treasured. Rightly or wrongly...

I have been asking Him recently to reveal to me how He feels about me - for many reasons, but mainly because I really want the truth of His abundant love for me to sink deep into my heart so that nothing in the world can shake the security I have in Him.

Today He spoke to me. I was visiting 'A Study in Brown', home to Tonia's beautiful, poetic musings... And this was what spoke to me. Please take a moment to have a read then come back over!

Beautiful isn't it??!

Roses really are my favourite flowers. To me they represent pure love, passion, tenderness,intimacy. Cliche or not. I know, I'm too much of a romantic!! But I'm also so grateful that God speaks to me through nature very very often. His awesome creation has power over my emotions, there's no denying it...and He knows that too :)

In our garden, we have a beautiful rose bush which yields the most exquisitely fragrant yellow blooms. Each year it gets a bit more beautiful, and I become a bit better at looking after it - although the only two things I do are to trim it once the blooming has stopped, and to faithfully dead-head the flowers when they are past their best! Despite many a hardy winter, as well as having all kinds of toys thrown at it, and just not really being cared for, this rose bush has not only survived but also thrived.

There are also lots of other types of blooms in the garden, so that from early spring through to about the end of September, there is a symphony of colours to awaken all of my senses...

Today God spoke to me of His passionate, tender, intimate and abundant love, through His gift of this beautiful yellow rose bush! God is so good. Do you see? He loves me so much that He provides me with roses and many other beautiful flowers for many months of the year (- and memories of them for the winter months, a promise of the new season to come)...

His love for me NEVER runs out.

Friday, 3 August 2007

A God of miracles and love...

God is so good. I am so aware of His awesome and abundant love today, and thought I would share one encouraging little story of answered prayer with you, although there are quite a few more I could and would like to write about...

Yesterday got off to a very bad start. Straight after breakfast, Ben decided to climb all over me - and knocked the entire contents of my cup of tea all over himself, me - and the laptop....!! Needless to say panic rose in me very rapidly, as it dawned on me that this delicate piece of engineering was likely to be beyond repair. I was really not a happy mummy. And I am ashamed to say that I was also terrified of how my husband would react, as he absolutely HATES when things get broken.

My immediate reaction was to swear very loudly. (This doesn't happen all that often...)
My second was to text all my friends and ask them to pray: that we would be able to get the thing sorted out, and that Mark would be able to respond without being (too) angry!
A quick phone call to the computer repair man reassured me that worst things have happened and that it was a good job it wasn't beer!! He then told me I'd have to wait for it to dry out before we could try switching it on again, later on in the day.

We waited. And then tried. Several times. And every time it was looking less likely that it would ever work again...Just before going to bed last night, it even started making horrible 'dying' noises and wouldn't switch on anymore at all.

So when I had a dream in the middle of the night, where the computer's little green lights were flickering, and the thing had suddenly come back to life, an incredible sense came over me that it was going to be ok.

Mark tried switching it on again as soon as he got up this morning. And without any fuss whatsoever, it came on, and worked absolutely perfectly!!! - There is only a minor problem with the mouse-pad, which isn't responding so we are using a hand-held one for the time being (this is taking some getting-used to, but it's a little price to pay for a very silly mistake - that tea should never have been there in the first place...).

And I am so convinced that God in His grace heard all our prayers and worked a miracle in our computer!! And in our marriage, as there was not a hint of stress or accusation between us, and we were calm and rational in dealing with the whole situation...He knows our needs, (for example that we do not have the means to buy a new one just now, or even to have this one repaired.) He also knows how much I rely on this blog, and the internet, in my every day life... And while I relished having some time away from the computer, the long-term prospect of missing it was unbearable.

It blows me away that the Lord knows and loves me THAT intimately...

(Update: now even the mouse-pad works! Wow... Still can't get my head around this)