Pumpkin Pie Muffins

P1070816These muffins will fill your kitchen and house with all the perfumed spices of autumn!  And they are very healthy.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, 375 for non-stick pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes but be sure to watch!

Here are the ingredients:

2 cups unbleached flour (or 1 cup unbleached, 1 cup whole wheat if you don’t mind the heavier texture)
1/3 cup brown sugar (or 1/3 cup honey added to wet ingredients)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup applesauce (if you want to eliminate all the butter, use all applesauce)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 TBLSP dark molasses
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 C. raisins or dates
3/4 C. walnuts

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Combine until moistened. Try not to overmix. May need a smidge extra buttermilk. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy with some hot tea!

Epic Failure

It’s been so dry that every time I hose down the potted mums, a half dozen bees appear for a drink.  They don’t bother me.  All they want is some water.  Yes, that’s how dry it’s been in Ohio.  The finches hang out at the thistle seed, lazy and fat.

I love the sound of rain even when it’s been raining for days. This morning, I got up early just so I could stand outside in the dark and feel drops falling on me.  But the drops did not fall.

I pulled my container plants out in a nice messy row so that they could soak up the freshness.  But they remain dusty and pathetic.

I am not fresh.

This has been a week of epic failure.  Can you spell A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E?

I think it all started earlier this month when not one but every clerk, waiter, checker, and retailer asked me if I was getting ready for the big weekend.  Did we have plans?  What big weekend, I wanted to know?  Oh, yeah.  Labor Day Weekend.  I felt like asking the Lady Violet question in proper Maggie Smith British (For you Downton Abbey fans),  ”Excuse me, what is a week-END?”

My husband is a pastor.  We work on weekends.  Did I really spout this to every poor unsuspecting person?  Even the girl at Target.  Yes, I did.  I tried to sound joyful about the prospect, but inside, I confess, I was wishing that we were getting ready for the big weekend.  Our daughter called, and I promptly told her that everyone else in Ohio was at the lake.  What were they doing for the Big Weekend?

Never mind that we have been given the privilege of sharing God’s hope, love and peace.  Never mind that we can freely worship and enjoy the encouragement of other Christians.

I yelled at the cat that he was in my way, when clearly, I was in his way.  Picked an argument with my husband, who picked back.  Quit on changing the seasonal decorations in our house, because why put up any autumn decorations when it’s 80 degrees outside?

The epicness (is that a word?) of my failings culminated with an hour back and forth “discussion” in an online comment section under an article about Donald Trump.  Please don’t judge me. Thank you, God, for the Bible study on Hosea.  This week, I learned about God’s unfailing love and how He rescues us over and over and over….

Even from online comment sections.


And then I saw this.


I knew everything was going to be all right.  To everything there is a season.  Maybe we need seasons of A-T-T-I-I-T-U-U-D-E to understand why we need G-R-A-T-I-T-U-D-E.

“Bless the LORD O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”  Psalm 103:2

These benefits would include the amazing creation of the pumpkin.  Oh, yes, and people.  We all need hope.

What are you grateful for today?


Lessons From Baltimore

Because Christian mother, writer, speaker and activist Jen Hatmaker writes it so much more eloquently than I could…thank you for making us think, Jen.  We pray for the larger issues at hand.

Click on the link below to read her article in the Washington Post.

I, as a white mom of two black children do not share Baltimore’s pain. Instead, I grieve with you.  by Jen Hatmaker

New Wineskins

A few years ago, my husband and I visited one of the oldest wine cellars in Germany.  The tour included an underground maze of Roman cellars.  At one point we stopped to look down at ancient cellars that had been dug out seven floors below us, deep into the earth, frightening, winding staircases lost in the dark, now roped off across a not-so-sturdy looking metal railing.  The damp, moldy stench stuck to our clothing as we meandered back to daylight. The guide gave us free time to browse the cellar’s museum that included vats and glasses from several centuries.  As I gazed through the protective glass at Roman goblets and wine sacks, I could not help but feel the rush of time’s wind.  Who had put their lips to these goblets?  Who had carried the vats?  And then I thought of new wineskins, the home of fresh wine.

As I was talking and praying with a dear friend Monday morning, she spoke passionately about a book she is reading at her church and how she is being called to new wine.  Now, I can’t imagine this merciful and godly woman being any more merciful than she already is but God is doing a new work in her life.

He is doing a new work in my life.  And I couldn’t get the imagery she shared with me out of my mind. New wine.  And new wine cannot be put into old wineskins.  So.  Then.  New. Fresh wineskins.

In ancient Israel,  grapes were pressed in the winepress and then left in the collection vats for a few days. Fermentation started immediately on pressing, which allowed the first “tumultuous” (gassy) phase to pass. Then the must (fermenting juice) was put in clay jars to be stored or into wineskins if it was to be transported some distance.  It was these clay jars and old hardened wine skins that the museum so carefully displayed.

The wineskins were made of partially tanned goat skins, sewn at the holes where the leg and tail had been. The skins were filled with must (partially fermented wine) in the opening at the neck and then tied it off.

If the workers poured freshly pressed must directly into the skin and closed it off, the tumultuous stage of fermentation would burst the wineskins. After this stage, however, the skins stretched enough to handle the rest of the fermentation process. Skins that had already been used and stretched out (“old wineskins”) could not be used again since they could not stretch again. If they were used again for holding wine that was still in the process of fermenting (“new wine”), they would burst.

New wine needs time to become the perfect end result.  A true vintner (winemaker) schools himself in the art of winemaking.

But a vigneron cultivates the vineyard for winemaking.  A vigneron’s care and placement and tender care of the vines and fruit ensure grapes that produce the best wine.

And so God is The Vigneron, the Vinedresser.  Jesus, the Vine that produces good fruit.  (John 15:1)

Is God calling you to new wine?  It could be a new ministry, a reshaping of who you are.

For me, it is a deepening of this realization that Jesus died on that cross for the ugly in life.  He resurrected to defeat the ugly and replace it with grace.  All around us are people with messy lives, even those who seem to have it all together – and yes, maybe, especially those who seem to have it all together.

I don’t yet know what the new wineskin will be made of or what the new wine will taste like.  But God knows.  And so I trust the One who loves and wait expectantly for His tender shaping.

 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Matthew 9:17