5 Easy Ways to Celebrate the Advent

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Wikipedia says “Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth on earth at Christmas.”

Many churches formally celebrate the Advent season with centuries-old liturgical rituals. We here in our Southern Baptist church family do things a bit more low-key. You’ll hear Christmas sermons and programs. You’ll see decorations: the nativity scenes, the Chrismon trees with Christ-centered ornaments, the poinsettias and other arrangements.

However, outside of the church building, the Real Reason for the Season is drowned out by things that steal our attention. Things, that in the light of eternity, won’t be counted for Christ.

I decided to make a personal Advent list this year because I didn’t want to lose sight of Jesus in the midst of busyness. I want HIM to be centermost in my thoughts and attitude.

1) FOCUS ON THE WORD – Below is a list of Bible readings I am working through, each day, to remind me of Jesus and His purpose.

List of Daily Bible Readings for Advent

2) FOCUS ON THE MUSIC -  Try to listen to just carols this year, leave off Santa and Frosty. I have a Pandora station set up for “Christmas Carols” that I plan to use all through December.

3) FOCUS ON MONETARY GIVING – There are thousands of causes and organizations that ask for funds this time of year. Try looking within your local church, first of all, to pray through the ones to which God would want you to contribute. Al and I are giving to several of these mission needs. The amount of money given doesn’t have to be a monumental–it just needs to be an amount you and Lord agree on.

4) FOCUS ON SERVICE GIVING – Ah, here’s the counterpart to the one above! Not only should money be given, but physical service should be donated too! Our Ridgecrest Toy Drive is next week and through it we get to share Jesus, the Greatest Gift of All. It makes my year! So this year,  STEP OUT IN FAITH–believe and live out II Timothy 1:7! God will bless you for it!

5) FOCUS ON SYMBOLISM – Pick out one Christmas symbol and reflect on how it portrays Jesus, whenever you encounter it. Thank God for this reminder of Jesus. This year I’ve chosen the wreath. Here’s what I’ve pondered: A wreath is a circle, showing God AND Jesus are infinite. . . without beginning or end. . . He is the Great I AM. . . the Alpha and Omega. . . He is Evergreen and cannot die but lives FOREVER!  HALLELUJAH! Jesus Lives!

Will YOU join me and make your own Advent list? It might look very different from mine,  but try committing to see Christ in every aspect of Christmas this year!

Praying abundant blessings for all you and yours! May HE be glorified!

Lookin’ up,

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cake

Sorry that my blog posts are sparse as of late. . . I am in the midst of a job hunt. Force this onto a heavy workload and Christmas, and there’s not been much time to write.

With little time to write or cook, I’ve turned to my tried and true recipes like this Chocolate Chip Cake. I made one recently for my ladies Sunday School class, and my mother-in-law Lorene made it for our Thanksgiving feast.  (The secret to this cake is to make sure you use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chips as specified in other recipes. You can use either a yellow cake mix or devil’s food as a base, depending on how chocolate-deprived you feel.)

Enjoy a warm slice of it with a glass of milk soon, okay?

Lookin’ up,

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 package yellow or devil's food cake mix (regular size)
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix (yes, I know the cake mix already has pudding in it. The second pudding make it extra moist!)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (NOT semi-sweet)
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes, milk, oil and eggs. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan.
  2. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  3. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Sieve confectioner's sugar over cake. Yield: 12 servings.
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After-Thanksgiving Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is a cold-weather favorite when we’ve got leftover rotisserie chicken or Thanksgiving turkey. . . Its comforting smell greets you when you enter the front door.

You can get even more adventurous by substituting jalapenos or habaneros for the banana peppers, if desired.  Enjoy!

 

Tortilla Soup

Serving Size: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips OR about 1/1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken/turkey
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
  • 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 banana peppers, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (14.25 ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 7 corn tortillas
  • vegetable cooking spray
  • optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions

Instructions

  1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, pepper, and garlic into slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt, ground pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours, or on High for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  3. Lightly coat both sides of tortillas with cooking spray. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet
  4. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle tortilla strips and optional toppings over soup.
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