Thursday, March 29, 2012

Forgiveness | Could you have done it?

{Written by Johanna}

{German words are italicized and definition's are provided directly after the word/phrase within parenthesis.} 

Wenn Gott nicht bereit waren, Sünde zu vergeben, wäre der Himmel leer (If God were not willing to forgive sin, heaven would be empty). This old German Proverb, which had been told me numerous times as a child, never held such intense meaning as it does for me today. As I sit here, safe within the walls of this church, I believe my heart has finally begun to heal. When I look into her eyes – as she speaks up at that platform – I see something there that not even she can express with mere words. It was the exact same the first time I saw her. 
     Within the span of six years, over 130,000 female prisoners passed through the foreboding walls of Ravensbrück camp system; around 26,000 were Jewish. I was there when she arrived at Ravensbrück concentration camp in the year 1944— nearly three years ago. That day I was stationed at the assessment, for we would be admitting several-thousand more women to the camp that day. 

     “Ruhig (quiet)!” It was Elfriede Muller, an SS aufseherin (matron) in the camp who took charge in the most effective— yet, on looking back, in a cruel— way. The frightened and worn-looking women immediately hushed, and awaited the dreaded words of the aufseherin. She continued, “At the first desk, you shall dispose of all belongings. Here at Ravensbrück you are entitled to nothing, and will keep nothing,” she went on, severely, “at the second desk you shall remove all clothing, and will be directed to the assessment station where you will be examined before entering the shower room. A prison dress and a pair of shoes will be handed to you in the shower room. That will be all you need in this camp.” 

     I shudder as I remember the gasps of despair. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chocolate Delights ~ Recipes

Okay, I'm going to be honest here, I've got a big weakness for chocolate! I just love to drizzle {or more like completely immerse} pretzels, fruit, etc in them and each time I eat it, I just can't get enough! So today, I've gathered some great looking chocolate recipes for all you chocolate lovers out there! Enjoy! ~Bethany

{Source For Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles}
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
  •  1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • chocolate bark, to melt for dipping
  • additional chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc., optional for topping the truffles
Directions ::
In a large bowl, use electric mixer to cream together butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until it is incorporated and you no longer see chunks of brown sugar (if you spot any, just squish them). Beat in sweetened condensed milk and mix until well-combined. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Cover bowl and refrigerate until dough is firm (at least 1 hour- maybe more... you want the dough to be quite firm). Use a small cookie scoop to scoop out heaping Tablespoonfuls, roll into balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Place all of the rolled balls back into the refrigerator until you are ready to dip them in chocolate. Melt chocolate bark in a glass bowl- easiest to do in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring after each heating time, until smooth. Use a spoon to help you dip the chilled dough ball into the chocolate and roll it around to cover all sides. Place it on a waxed paper-lined platter. Sprinkle with any desired toppings. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls. They'll begin to set pretty quickly. Keep them refrigerated until ready to serve.

{Source For Brownie Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies}
Brownie Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 cups cubed prepared brownies

Directions ::
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment or silpat liner. Place butter and sugars into the bowl of a stand or electric mixer, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well combined. Place flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips and brownie chunks until just combined. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

{Source For Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies}
 Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 11 broken pieces Oreo Cookies
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions ::
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, and sugars until well combined. Add egg and vanilla until mixed well. Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl, stir to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients then stir in oreos and chocolate chips until just combined. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop onto baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until cooked, but still soft. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
{Source For College Fudge Squares}
 College Fudge Squares
  • 1/2 Cups Sifted Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Shortening
  • 2 Squares Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate, melted {I used 6TBSP Chocolate Powder + 2TBSP Butter}
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, well beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Add shortening to melted chocolate and mix well. Add sugar gradually to eggs, beating thoroughly; then add chocolate mixture and blend. Fold in flour mixture. Add milk and vanilla, mix well. Bake in greased pan, 9x9x2 inches , in slow oven (325 F.) 35 minutes, or until done. {Stick a toothpick in the center & see if it comes out clean.} Remove from pan and cool. Cut in squares. Makes about 16 squares.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Having The Devotion Of Mary

{Written By Bethany}
It was evening and there was a feast going on in Jesus' honor since He raised Lazarus from the dead, it was six days before the Passover, when Jesus was to be crucified. Martha served the dinner while Lazarus and Jesus reclined and ate. It was dim, and the candles were the only source of light. All the sudden Mary, Martha's sister came and sat by Jesus feet humbly. She knew what she was about to do was unthinkable in her world, but her devotion was so great she did not care. As she gently sat and unbound her hair from the top of her head she realized that even though leaving her hair down in public was a disgrace...but she continued to push the thoughts aside and let her long, silky hair flow to the ground. She bowed her face low towards Jesus feet and without a word took a jar of pure nard, that of which would have costs almost a years wages in our day...much more for her's...and broke it, letting the sweet aroma drip down towards Jesus feet. They may have been dirty and sore from days walking with only sandals to protect from the dirt and heat, but she cared not and continued. She put her nose to the ground and wiped the perfume and His feet with her hair...unconcerned of what others thought...unconcerned of what disgrace might come, or the talk and gossip that would start...unconcerned of what might become of her hair all dirty and soiled...all that mattered was that she would be able to show her love, care and devotion to the Lord in the most biggest possible way. To let Him know that He was her Lord and that she loved Him beyond all else. As she wiped up the dirt and massaged His feet with her hands, she started to cry and with her tears she wiped His feet clean. She cried so much that her tears were sufficient, her love overflowing. "I'm so unworthy, so filthy, so unclean, not worth of such a job, she thought as she cried more and her tears flowed. I'm so unworthy..." this is all she would think of as she humbled herself and washed His feet. By now the smell of the perfume had softly drifted throughout the whole room, house and street. It was a way of showing how strongly she loved her Lord. And the smell would stay with Him for several days to remind Him of her love. As she humbly got up and looked into His loving eyes she knew that not one thing would ever mater anymore besides living for Her Lord.

Image Detail


One day when my Grandma came over to watch us kids, we dd our devotions with her. That mornings reading was John 12 and when we read it, the words just filled me with an awe and inspiration.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” 

   As I meditated on the fact that Mary was using her perfume that was normally saved for the bride's wedding day, that of which cost so terribly much, 11 months wages in our currency...and so much more in their's...I was filled with an awe for Mary's love for Jesus. Her humility to do the unthinkable, for only servants washed other's feet...and women NEVER unbound their hair in was a disgrace and the unthinkable..seemed so breathtaking. But seeing how much Mary was focused on only one thing...serving Jesus...she didn't care about anything else, challenged me to think, "Am I like that? Is this my vision?". 

     I have been struggling in my personal devotions as of late. I've had limited accountability and my desire for the Lord has slowly dried up. It's now to the point that since I started to slowly let it slip, thinking "Later..I'll do it later, I've got such and such to do now." that I've slowly lost the desire, and when I consider it I think of how bad this is. I want to have the passion, it just isn't there. But when I read this story, I was filled with longing for the love and desire that Mary had. I want what Mary had. That unmistakable, unfailing, unquenchable, passionate, driving fire desire for the Lord and for His Holy Word. Maybe you too, dear sister, are struggling in this area. Maybe you are feeling like spiritually you are in a desert, with no hope of water to be found for miles and miles. Maybe you are slowly loosing interest in devotions, and the after-faith fire is slowly dying...if there ever was one to start. Well if not, why not start today? Why not fall on your knees and beg God for a passion such as Mary's? I often ask myself, "why put it off? is whatever I'm doing really that important? As if anything can be more important than the Lord?" Maybe you are in my place too. Well I want you to know that you are not alone! We can concur the Devil's lies and find fulfillment in Jesus ever open arms...ready for us all the more now that we are drifting away. He is ready to let you fall in His arms and is ready to embrace you and fill you with an unending peace! Let us not grow weary! 

   Dear sister, I hope that you will not loose the vision. I hope that you will cry out to the Lord with me "Lord, light me, set me ablaze. I don't want to just be a tiny fire, or even worse, a spark, I want to be fully ablaze FOR YOU! Give me a passion for You and Your Word! I can't do it alone...please help me!!!!" Will you join me in strengthening the vision, the passion, the power, only found in Jesus loving arms? Will we live up to the example of utmost devotion, just like Mary? Will be dare to be a Mary in this World? And if so, what if? How would our world be changed? What if?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Reviews

Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, R.M.S. Titanic, 1912 (Dear America)
Voyage on the Great Titanic
By Ellen Emerson White
{Review by Bethany Ann}

This book is a fiction novel written in journal form. It is the fiction diary of Margaret Ann Brady, a girl living in 1912 who traveled on the Great Titanic when it sank. I have enjoyed reading various "Dear america" books which are fiction diaries to help make historical events come alive. This book was very well written and had much information on the Titanic, including pictures from the actual vessel.

Margaret, a 13 year old girl is a orphan with her older brother William. After living on the streets for as long as they could with little money, William is forced to leave Maragaret at a home for girls runned by nuns, while he goes to America to find work. After a while, Margaret gets to be a companion for Mrs. Carstairs, who is traveling to America on the Titanic, and desires a companion. So Margaret takes the voyage with Mrs. Carstairs in hopes of finding William once she gets to the States. In the journal, Margaret tells of her adventures on the Titanic, including the sinking of the ship and all that went with it. For Margaret, it was a new experience going aboard a fancy ship with fancy people, when she was formerly living on the streets, eating whatever she could find. On April 15, 1912 late a night Margaret gets a knock on her door from her butler Richard, whom she is slowly coming to like. When Richard tells her to come down with her life jacket, and tells her to loose no time, Margaret starts to worry but once assuring herself that she was on board the "unsinkable ship" that it was just a drill. But as time goes on she realizes the ship is sinking and with it, many of its occupants that were not able to get on the few lifeboats which saved them. Of even greater greif, Margaret realized that Robert drowned in the sinking and once she does get to America by a boat that happened to be out and able to help, what is she to do? Will she find her brother and if so, will they be able to get off the streets?

I really enjoyed this book...reading it in a whole day. I loved how there was much history but it wasn't boring...the writer did an excellent job making the book interesting by personalizing it with a girls view. The only thing I didn't appreciate was there was one kissing scene were Margaret and Robert kiss before the Titanic sinks, and one lady who was there used the Lord's name in vain once while expressing her awe of the sinking ship. but other than this I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot! I also thought it was neat to read the book this year, being that this is the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Roses for Mama, repack
Roses For Mama
By Janette Oke
{Review By Bethany Ann}

This book is about Angela, a teen-aged daughter living with her older brother of a year and her three younger siblings. After their father died, their mother became ill and followed her husband to Heaven. But she leaves her five children behind and little Angela is forced to care for them and raise them in their mother's stead while her brother Thomas works to make what money he can. When things get hard Angela wonders how she can keep it up and fears that she could never raise them in the way her mother would AND do the housework at the same was just too much! And on top of that she tries to minister and witness to their neighbors and their parents did, hoping to bring them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And then when everything seems as if it will overflow a young man comes into her life and wishes to court her. Without her fathers guidance there to help her make some tough decisions and the weight of everything on her shoulders, will she ever make it? And  should she really marry this rich man who seems to know nothing of prairie life? Find out in this book!

This was such an inspirational book for me, especially being that I'm the oldest child in our family and can relate to Angela's problems and difficulties with helping raise her siblings after her parents die. I felt so rejuvenated and fresh after finishing it and it definitely helped me review how I treat my siblings and made me think about ways I might need to inprove. I remember the story being so sweet and crisp, and it was a wonderful way for me being that this is my first Janette Oke book I've read so far {despite the fact we own most of them...I'll have to read more! :D} I loved how deeply the affection between her and her siblings was and how genuinely she cared for them and their well being. It was such a loving, family filled book and I would highly recommend it to any girl! Janette's love for the tight-knit family was evident and poured through like refreshing sunshine with each page. I loved seeing this up-close view of how real families thrived in the prairie days without the modern conveniences of our day and time. But still they found ways to connect and stay strong together. Overall I loved it! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Through My Eyes: A Quarterback's Journey, Young Readers Edition
Through My Eyes: A Quarterback's Journey
By Tim Tebow
{Review By Bethany Ann}

In this young readers edition of Tim Tebow's book we learn about Tim's story of faith, and football. Tim Tebow is the quarterback for the Denver Broncos NFL football team and due to his strong unwavering faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and his perseverance to proclaim it to the nations, many have been blessed and encouraged, including our family. In this book you will learn about Tim's early life which included being the youngest of a family with 5 children who were missionaries to Philippines, playing plenty of sports, being homeschooled and learning about the Lord at an early age. It also goes through a personal account of his draft in to the NFL to play profesional football and tells about the hardships and positive sides of doing so.

My family has been very inspired by Tim Tebow's life, mainly for his diligence to display God's love even while playing football and his impact for changing the world for Christ. Maybe it started when he aired the commercial on T.V. while the Super Bowl was going that was encouraging young girls who were pregnant not to get abortions due to the fact he is a pro-life and was almost aborted as a unborn child, or maybe it was when he would kneel on the field and pray to the Lord for guidance during the game. Whenever it was, we were so inspired to see someone with such a faith and to see it showed without fear in such a way. But anyways, yes we are big Tebow fans {not just my father and brother but also us girls! We normally aren't very interested in football, but when it involved faith such as his..I was all there! :D}But anyways when my friend {who is a HUGE Tebow fan...and a female at that!} purchased the book, I asked if I might borrow it to read it. She gladly loaned it to me and lets just say I read it in a day...unable to put it down. {Yes, football can be that interesting! ;D} I was very inspired by the book and even read it with my brother to find that my other siblings gathered around to hear it too! Most of you may not be into sports or football, but for those who are familiar with Tim Tebow and would like to read his book, I'd highly recommend it! I give it 5 out of 5 stars! {Notice: I only read the young readers version since that is what my friend purchased since the adult version was sold out. He he... I've not read the adult version and am only reviewing the young reader edition, although I'm sure the adult version is good as well!}

The Daughter's Walk
The Daughter's Walk
By Jane Kirkpatrick
{Review By Bethany Ann}

I had seen this book various times at the library and it looked good so I looked into what it was about on the internet to find that it was based on a historical family. So I thought I'd try it out. I never finished the book, so I don't know the specifics of what it was about besides the point that there was a family living on a farm and were about to loose their home since they couldn't pay their bills. The mother of the family along with her daughter took a challenge to walk all the way across the US in the dresses they were trying to advertised. If they completed this challenge within 7 months they would be given a cash prize, enough to save their home. So the mother left her older children and disabled husband at home to watch the younger children and she and her daughter set off on this adventure. And that's were I stopped. Why  you may ask? Well with each page I read I noticed more and more feminism grinding its way into the story. The whole idea of a mother leaving her kids at home for 7 months to go walk across the US without a male guardian...well that's a bit too much feminism if you ask me. Maybe it would have been okay if they didn't make it so obvious that they were all for feminism...but I just didn't think it was worth my time, to be honest. At first it wasn't very much and I thought I might be able to keep going and that it wouldn't go any further as far a the feminism level went. But it did. finally the feminism was just so much that I decided it no worth the time it would have took to read it. I'm sure it would have been a good story but I really felt like I shouldn't drench my mind in harsh feminism ideas for nearly 400 pages. For the portion of the book I read I give it 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work
A Love That Multiplies
By Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar
{Review By Bethany Ann}

You may have heard of the Duggar family or seen them on TV on the TLC channel. but if you haven't let me share with you one of the reasons why our family loves them-they have 19 children! {Yes, typos and they are all Jim Bob and Michelle's!} In their newest book, A Love That Multiplies they share about many things including their fiery trial with their last child Josie who was born three and a half months early, weighing only 22 ounces! They also share about their difficulties such as loosing loved ones and they also share an up-close view of how they live on a day to day basis. They shared lots of helpful advice as far as child discipline, organization and they also answer frequent questions such as "Are you going to have more children?" "How do you manage such a large family?" "How does your Christian faith play out your lifestyle?" "Do the Duggar's date or court?" "Why do the Duggar women wear only skirts and the men only long jeans?" and more!

I really enjoyed this book! It was so neat to get to hear about the ins and outs of being on T.V. each week...even though they don't have cable themselves and the things they have gone through as a family...but even more importantly how they used that to honor the Lord and strengthen their faith. The Duggar family has been such a blessing to us as a family and I must truly say that without their older girls positive role model, I wouldn't be who I am today! Our family has never missed a single episode of their show, 19 Kids & Counting and when I saw the library finally had their book I quickly got it and devoured it in two days! I'm sure that anyone interested in finding help with managing their family or for those interested to know more about the Duggar's would love this book and be encouraged and blessed by it! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

The Jewel of Gresham Green, Gresham Chronicles Series #4
The Jewel of Gresham Green 
By Lawana Blackwell
{Review By Bethany Ann}

Jewel Libby has no choice but to leave the only home she's ever known for the sake of her daughter. She's told that she can find refuge in the small dairy town of Gresham where she can seek shelter at the vicar's residence. Little does she realize that her woes are not over. Instead of being taken care of, Jewel quickly changes roles to that of the caregiver for the ailing Andrew and gets deeply involved in all the members of his family.

I saw this book, while browsing one Friday at the library and since the back description seemed decent, I decided to check it out. Unfortunately, this is the 4th book in the Gresham Chronicles Series, that of which I never knew until after reading the book, however I still enjoyed it and will probably read the first books in the series. :D I must note that there were 3-5 "iff-y" things that were a tid bit "questionable" but they never got series, just kind of hinted around at issues I wasn't interested in. But it was a good story without too much romance..which I liked. So often it's hard to find good fiction with very little-to no romance involved, but I loved this book. The writer has a great way of making you feel like you are there in Gresham yourself and alongside the characters as they go through life. I especially loved the happy ending. It was very strongly portraying the good side of mother-daughter relationships and sticking together, no matter what, even when it's hard or extremely difficult. For those that would like a clean fiction without a boatload of romance then this is a book you may want to look into. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. {One star less due to the slightly questionable materials, even though they were not frequent throughout the book}.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lovely Notebook Covers | Tutorials.

I have always enjoyed making school a more welcome occupation by adding color and design to my textbooks. One of my favorite ways to do this is make cute covers for my books, with a favorite fabric. What could be an easier way to make school a bit more enjoyable? *smile* I hope you enjoy these tutorials I have amassed.      --Johanna

{please use discretion when visiting the above links}