The Christmas Book Flood

The #1 Christmas present in the world’s third most literary country, Iceland, is . . . a book! “In fact, it’s considered a total flop Christmas if you do not get a book!” ( Yrsa Sigurdardottir, prolific Iceland author.)

In Iceland, Christmas is about honoring your relationship with those you love. The most popular way to do this is to exchange great books and begin reading them on Christmas Eve. Discussion about the books and the pleasure of reading them follows in the days after.

“The book in Iceland is such an enormous gift; you give a physical book. You don’t give e-books here,” (Bryndis Loftsdottir, Penninn-Eymundsson, project manager for Icelandic books)

This tradition started after WW II when paper was cheap. Today, most Icelanders read a minimum of 8 books each year. They also publish more books per capita than any other country (5 books for every 1,000 Icelanders). Kristjan Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association, asserts that “Fifty percent of those who dream of [publishing a book] actually do it. Before they die they try one way or another to write a book.”

Happy Jolabokaflod, “The Christmas Book Flood”. Won’t you make this your year to share in the Iceland tradition of family, friends, food and relaxation with a good book, a cup of hot chocolate, a cookie, and reading until you fall asleep? (The mandarin orange is for Christmas day, also essential to an authentic Iceland Christmas.)

How Do I Know I Have a Relationship with Jesus?

Yesterday my husband posed this question at his Bible study. I could not stop thining about it. Here’s my reply:

Let me re-phrase the question to “How do I know I have a relationship with God?” Now, on to definitions:

Relationship: The state of being related (allied/connected) by kindred, affinity (agreement, connection or aggregation—uniting 2 bodies into one), blood or other alliance (union or connection of interests).

God: Creator, Lord, provider, healer, living God, Holy God, peace, God of all knowledge, Redeemer, deliverer, My Rock, My Shepherd, “the Lord is there”, Lord and Master, I AM , . . .

There are various types of relationships—each with a different purpose and yet filling the basic human need to be loved. As a mother and mentor, my relationship with my children is that of leading, guiding and delighting in their successes; as a daughter, I learn honor and respect, my first loves and teachers; friends share interests and do things together; as a member of my local church, I enjoy sharing the ups and downs of daily life week after week; as a neighbor, community interests are shared; and as a teacher, mentoring and encouraging—delighting in the ‘ah ha’ moment.

While considering the broad range of relationship, it occurs to me that they are divided into two categories: 1) given (as in parent/child); and 2) choice (friends, church, career and neighborhood). Relationship with God is by choice. Currently, my primary relationship with God—my choice—is that of Father/daughter-Teacher/student. I often see God as my great, big, all-knowing and all-powerful Father—strong, a tower of refuge—who holds my hand, watching over me wherever I go; whatever I do. He takes joy in me as I do with my own children, smiling with eyes of love and compassion. I see myself as a little 2-year old in a frilly yellow dress, looking up to Him, knowing that my Father can do anything, after all, He is the Great I AM. We are walking the path of life, loving each other and I’m learning to delight in the things that He delights in, fully confident that He will lead me safely home no matter what obstacles we must overcome along the path He has prepared for me.

How kind He is to protect me from knowing everything that I will encounter in this journey called life. He holds my hand today, as we take one step at a time. For instance, last week, true to form, He is adjusting my work load to fit the need at the moment. Because I run the shipping department, work varies tremendously from day to day. When I took my mom to visit my sister for 10 days He practically stopped the orders for almost two weeks. Currently, Nathan needs an income as he is in the midst of changing careers. What is God doing about this? He is providing far more work than I am able to do on my own. He takes care of Nathan too and I, as mom, delight in God my Provider as well as experiencing first-hand Nathan’s incredible work ethic. I love how He is so intimately acquainted with me that He knows how many hairs I have on my head and at the same time He has numbered the stars and calls them by name (which, by current estimate, outnumber all the grains of sand 10 to one). Right now He is taking pleasure in blessing both Nathan and me with a fringe benefit of an improved relationship with my son.

The other aspect of relationship with God that I’ve been so enjoying is that of friendship around common interests. This may be called understanding the ways and acts of God. I take great pleasure in discovering His signature in His creation. It’s as though we’re playing a game of hide-and-go-seek throughout the day as I search for His Fingerprint in the parables of creation. He has placed clues everywhere I go just waiting for me to find them. No matter where I look, He is there; He has left His Fingerprint, and I delight in discovering it.

The story goes that one day the well-known 18th Century theologian John Wesley asked his mother, Susanna, what sin was. Her reply,

Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.” 
   — Susanna Wesley (Letter, June 8, 1725)

My relationship with God is one of taking pleasure in activities and discoveries that increase the tenderness of conscience, my sense of God, and relish of spiritual things. I find great satisfaction in searching for the mathematics of God in creation as He has revealed throughout nature with the Fibonacci sequence in a rose, the petals on a flower, the ocean waves and even my sense of beauty. I also delight in acquiring an elementary understanding of basic science such as electricity. It thrills me to realize the 3 (trinity) requirements for an electric circuit—a power source, something to use that power source, and a solid connection. Wow! Lord, You’ve placed Your Fingerprint there. Last week I learned about the ‘Rock Cycle” and quickly concluded that the most valuable rock is the one that has endured the most heat and pressure for a sustained period of time (because that’s just the way God works).

I am seeking God’s signature in His creation—His individuality, His creativity, His infinity. To uncover His secret messages—from the first word of the Bible, Beginning, literally translated, ”Jesus willingly allowed Himself to be destroyed on a cross” (cf. Is. 46:10, God declares the end from the beginning) to gaining insight into the nature of God through everyday objects like the parable of the pencil where the first of 5 things to learn is that I will be able to do many great things, but only if I allow myself to be held in Someone’s hand. What a joy it is to walk hand-in-hand on this journey of life with Almighty God Who is only too willing to reveal Himself every day everywhere to anyone who is willing to see His signature.

In conclusion, currently, I know that I have a relationship—connected by affinity and alliance—with God—All-knowing, Creator, living Lord and Master, I AM. I think this relationship would best be described as my mission to discover the Fingerprint of God, then taking time to Selah (pause and stand in awe and wonder of my Friend and Father) revealed in His Book of Nature.

Your turn–how do you know that you have a relationship with God?

 

51+ Sugar Free / Gluten Free / Dairy Free Recipes for a Healthy Christmas Dinner

Christmas is on my mind. Thinking about all the desserts and sweets family and friends are able to indulge in this time of year. I usually miss out because I’m gluten free, and since May 22 of 2017 I’ve been sugar free as well, not to mention dairy free since the mid 1970s. This year two of our boys are doing “No Sugar November” and currently experiencing sugar detox headaches, weakness and other unpleasant symptoms as well as some terrible cravings.

Thought it would be a good to post some old favorite as well as new recipes that meet the criteria of no sugar, no gluten and dairy free. Fermented dairy, such as cheese, doesn’t bother me, so some of the recipes do include cheese.. Warning: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth as you might imagine with all these limitations. However, through the years, I’ve learned to enjoy the smells and taste sensations when watching other people enjoy a decadent dessert. Hope you might find a worthy recipe in this list. If you have any favorite recipes, please be sure to share.

Appetizers

  1. 5-Minute Grapes in Honey-Lemon Sauce
  2. Santa Veggie Tray
  3. Kiwi-Strawberry Christmas Tree
  4. Cheese, Tomato and Olive Christmas Tree
  5. Cheese and Olive Weath
  6. Snowman Veggie Tray (2nd healthy appetizer on this site)
  7. Christmas Relish Tray

Main Dish

  1. Apple-Walnut Stuffed Pork Roast (use gluten-free bread crumbs and you’ve got this one)
  2. Garlic Prime Rib
  3. The Best Roast Turkey
  4. Citrus and Herb Roasted Turkey
  5. Cranberry Orange Brined Roasted Turkey
  6. Pineapple Glazed Ham
  7. . . . and for the vegetarian, why not try the  Tofu  Turkey Roast

Side Dishes

  1. Cranberry Apple Relish (I’ve been making this one for years. Just add 1 pear, 3/4 c raisins, 1/2 c apple juice and 1/2 lemon)
  2. Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
  3. Roasted Yam and Kale Salad
  4. Roasted Vegetables
  5. Christmas Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing (a family favorite. I use regular walnuts and 1/2 tsp. Stevia. It does take Greek yogurt and Feta cheese, but I am able to tolerate cheese–or any other fermented dairy products)
  6. Nuts about Berries Salad (use regular pecans/walnuts or glaze with Stevia if preferred)
  7. Garlic Green Beans–skip the Parmesan Cheese and you’re good to go on this one.
  8. Gluten Free Stuffing

Desserts

  1. 3-Ingredient Sugar Free Cookies
  2. Low carb, gluten free, sugar free shortbread cookies
  3. 10-Minute Apple sundae
  4. Coconut Almond Kefir Ice Cream
  5. Gluten Free Gingerbread Cake (our Christmas breakfast go-to. This year I’ll be substituting Stevia for the sugar ad increasing molasses to 3 Tablespoons to make this sugar-free)
  6. Raw Cashew Dream Cake (Appropriately named, I’ve been dreaming of this raspberry cake ever since I first tasted it many years ago.)
  7.  Impossible Pumpkin Pie
  8. Sugar-Free Pecan Pie
  9. Low Sugar Mock Apple Zucchini Crisp

Snacks

  1. Paleo Skittles
  2. Chocolate Avocado Mousse
  3. Cookie Dough Fudge
  4. Raw veggies and Hummus
  5. Beef jerky
  6. Fruit or berry salad
  7. Corn chips and salsa
  8. Raw Fig and Nut Bars (Can’t seem to get enough of these–delicious!)

Candy

  1. Gummy candy
  2. Mayan Chocolate Truffles
  3. No Bake Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Cookie Bites
  4. Peanut Butter Vanilla Protein Truffles
  5. No Bake Coconut Balls
  6. Peppermint Chocolate Bark
  7. Dark chocolate Detox Bites
  8. Sugar-Free Blondie Bars

Left-overs

  1. Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie (substitute oat flour, non-dairy milk, and skip the unbaked pie crust)
  2. Gobbler Cakes
  3. Turkey curry
  4. Country House Bed & Breakfast Casserole (of course, you will use dairy-free milk and gluten-free croutons–or leftover stuffing)
  5. Omelette with leftover meat and cranberry sauce
  6. Ham sandwich on gluten free bread with cranberry sauce and sauerkraut and cheese, fried in frying pan–a personal favorite.
  7. Ham and Egg Frittata (use water or almond milk)