@sprightlyamyanne Instagram photos

@sprightlyamyanne Instagram photos

Monday, December 31, 2012

Get in my belly: Chai-Spiced Sugar Cookies


A friend gave me a box of these gems last Christmas. They have fast become a family favorite. This year I included them in Christmas treat bags I put together for friends. (Along with homemade loaves of Boule bread, Bourbon bacon brownies, hot & spicy mixed nuts, and Momofuku compost cookies.)

Chai-Spiced Sugar Cookies
adapted from My Baking Addiction
(I added an egg and additional spices. I also swapped out some of the butter for shortening (organic, expeller pressed shortening) so they cookies will be a bit chewier.)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (organic, expeller pressed if you can get it)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl mix sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice and black pepper. Remove 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside for rolling the dough balls.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar mixture. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated. Slowly blend in the flower mixture, mixing just until incorporated. At this point the dough will look a bit dry. Don't worry, when you roll the dough balls everything will be fine.

Using a small cookie scoop (2 teaspoons) roll dough into balls. Roll dough balls in reserved sugar mixture and place on prepared cookie sheet, leaving 1 1/2 inches between each ball.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies begin to crack. Let cool slightly on baking sheet then remove and place on cooling rack.

yield: approximately 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas | Just Like Mary by Carla Anne Coroy

Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Just Like Mary
By Carla Anne Coroy

Mary. Amazing Mary. Mother of Jesus. We marvel at her simple, faith-filled acceptance of God’s will for her life. There’s so little written about Mary in the Bible. We know almost nothing, really, about this woman that God chose to parent His Son.

Many have speculated about the exact age of Jesus’ mother. How old was she, really? What would it have been like to be greeted by an angel—and told you would become pregnant by the Spirit of God?

I wonder about other things sometimes, though. Like if she had morning sickness, or gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy. Was she overdue, or was baby Jesus born right on time? Did she mistake Braxton Hicks contractions for the real thing before labor really started? Was it a fast labor or did Joseph have eighteen hours to get that place into birthing readiness?

Most women who have ever given birth to a child have shared pregnancy stories. Everyone’s story is unique and interesting. Surely Mary’s was, too!

Then there are the stories of potty-training and conversations on how to get the baby to sleep through the night. Did Mary bounce Jesus on her knee while sharing recipes with other young moms?

We cannot find answers for these questions in Scripture. And as interesting as it might be to share pregnancy stories with Mary over a cup of coffee (maybe in heaven?) and get her tips on potty-training, we really don’t need to know any of that to love the Son she bore.

But Mary’s example raises questions about me and my own life that get under my skin.

Am I the kind of woman God will choose to be part of His plan? Do I trust and love my God enough to give faith-filled answers like she did? If there were just a few paragraphs written of my life for future generations to read, would those words reveal a heart of willing submission to God?

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38, NIV)

God has not asked me to carry the burden of His Son in my womb. There are other burdens He is asking me, and you, to carry instead. Are we being the women He needs for the part of the plan we’re living in now? Am I saying to Jesus today, “May it be to me as you have said”?

During this Advent season, let’s prepare ourselves to be used by God, filled with faith and anticipating His grace—just like Mary.

***
Carla Anne Coroy is a Christian speaker and blogger, and the award-winning author of Married Mom, Solo Parent. She ministers to a wide audience through her website and blog at www.carlaanne.com. Carla Anne has served full-time with organizations such as Youth for Christ and Crown Financial Ministries, and is currently developing mentoring resources for women and an international mentoring organization for youth. She also serves as a staff writer for the online magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women and is a spokesperson for Faithbuddy.com. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas | The ADVENTure Awaits You! by Charissa Steyn

Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
The ADVENTure Awaits You!
By Charissa Steyn

God loves keeping us in a place of joyful expectation for what is next. He has mastered the art of surprise. Much to my dismay, God rarely ever lays out steps 1-2-3 for me to see. Maybe you’re like me and you’re a planner. You need time to prepare yourself for what is coming, the unknown grips you with fear, and it’s hard for you to simply enjoy a surprise.

It’s difficult to understand why God doesn’t like to reveal more of His mysterious ways, but I have a feeling it has something to do with faith. I am quite sure that if I knew everything that God had planned ahead of time my response would be, “No way God!”

But maybe we need to be a little more like Mary when it comes to faith. The angel reassured her, "Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you…” (Luke 1:30)

Did you get that? You have nothing to fear _________ (fill in the blank with your name) God has a surprise for you!

God invited Mary into the ultimate season of joyful expectation. He took her on the most miraculous adventure of birthing His son!

Instead of hesitation, Mary stepped forward, “Yes . . . let it be with me just as you say.” (Luke 1:38)

Instead of cowering in fear, Mary celebrated in faith, “I'm bursting with God-news; I'm dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened—I'm the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten. . . .” {Luke 1:46-48)

As the Christmas season is upon us, I can’t help but wonder what surprises God has wrapped up for us under His tree of life? What gifts does He want to reveal to us this year?

Like Mary, let’s face the unknown, the mystery, the surprises of God with a quiet, yet confident YES!

God wants to show you the impossible can become possible, the supernatural can become natural. We don’t need special qualifications, just joyful expectation.

May you accept the invitation of Jesus in this truly ADVENTurous season and embrace all the marvelous, mysterious surprises He has for you along the way!

***
Charissa Steyn is a God-adventurer. She believes everyday holds exciting undertakings that usually involve risk, but always draw us closer to the Father’s heart. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Cape Town with her South African hubby, Michal and their son David. Together they are doing their best to lead a simple, yet dangerous life of love. Learn more about Charissa at her blog.

Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas | Quieted in His Presence by @CaraPutman

Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Quieted in His Presence
By Cara Putman

It's the week after Thanksgiving. We're racing toward Christmas. Even with Thanksgiving occurring a week early, it feels like a race. When did we decide this organized (or not so organized) chaos was restful, relaxing, conducive to a joyful season?

When did the joy of gifting something to one we love become replaced by the pressure to find the perfect gift? When did the amount of the gift matter more than spirit it is gifted in? At times like these I need a reason to remember that God can calm my heart when I feel like I'm spilling in a bazillion different directions.

Grab a mug of tea or cup of coffee. I'll share my peppermint mocha creamer. It's low-sugar. And let's sit together and soak in this truth.

The Lord is with us. With us. Emmanual. The God with us. Savor that. He's with us. Not watching us. With us.

He is mighty to save. He doesn't barely save. He is mightily prepared to save.

He will take great delight in you. Think about a child. Yours or someone else's. Think about the joy that child brings to his parents. That is a pale shadow of the depth of delight God takes in you. Humbled? Thrilled? I am!

He quiets us with His love. He will, if we'll let Him. It is His will to quiet us with love. Like a child who is content and secure in the knowledge of her parents' love. That's how He wants us to rest. To be quiet. In His presence. At His feet.

He will rejoice over us with singing. Think of your favorite artist, group, chorus. Think of how their voices resonate and harmonize. Remember how you are swept away by the beauty of a voice raised in song. Then imagine God singing a special song over you. Then consider that it's a song of rejoicing. Just because you are. A song to you.

Now that you've quieted in His presence, are you ready to go back to preparations. Ready to focus on Him? To find Him in the midst of the Christmas chaos? Because He is the baby in the manager. He is the reason we celebrate. And He's celebrating you!

***
Cara Putman is an author of fourteen novels and one nonfiction work—plus all the characters and stories still begging to be told. Look for more in the future. She is also a licensed attorney, contract lecturer at a Big Ten University, adjunct faculty at a community college, and active in her church and community. She lives with her family in Indiana.

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas | God with Us . . . And Us with Him by @SusanMayWarren

Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
God with Us . . . And Us with Him
By: Susan May Warren

Every year over labor day weekend, the Warren family has a MWE. Mandatory Warren Event. It’s a call to come home and enjoy the long weekend with our favorite people. Since my children have left for college, I relish every second of this weekend—the laughter in the kitchen, the long conversations in the family room, the frenzy of backyard football, the quietness of the morning as we drink coffee on the deck and watch the sunrise. I cherish these people, and when they are with me, I drink in their presence.

I’ve been reading the prophecies about Christ this season and came across Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

I am struck by the word Immanuel. God with us. The closest I get to comprehending this is reading about how Jesus’ loved his disciples. Surely they relished the time with him more profoundly after his resurrection, knowing he would soon leave.

Thankfully, he didn’t leave them for long and sent His Holy Spirit. God . . . still with them. 

As I consider the magnitude of this God who would come to earth, who would abide with the disciples, and then with me, I have to wonder not only do I relish God’s presence in my life, but does God relish time with me? Am I committed to embracing His entrance into my life? Am I even making the effort to see Him?

Imagine that during our MWE weekend, I ignored my children, and they, me? I would lose the joy of their presence.

It is not surprising to me that the Jewish people did not recognize their Savior. After all, who would guess that the Almighty might package himself as a baby and appear among them, fragile and dependent? But today, we know the story, we know the miracles, we know the truth, and God invites us into an abundant relationship, one that He wishes to relish, one that will change us. A relationship that will slake our thirsts and satisfy our hungers. One that reminds us that we are never alone.

Because every day we are a mandatory event to our Immanuel.

This season, look for the ways that God is your Immanuel, with you, every day.
***
Susan May Warren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 40 novels. With over 750,000 books in print, her stories of family, romance and adventure have earned her acclaim and reader fans from around the world. Visit her website for upcoming books and sneak peeks!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

"A Christmas Homecoming" eBook - Just .99! Enter to win a Paperwhite Kindle from MaryAnn Diorio!

Grab a copy of MaryAnn Diorio's "A Christmas Homecoming" for JUST .99 and enter to win a Paperwhite Kindle! Details below!



One "merry" winner will receive:
  • A Paperwhite Kindle
  • A Christmas Homecoming by MaryAnn Diorio
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 22nd. Winner will be announced on 12/23/12 at MaryAnn's Blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.