Camouflaged

Gardening season in southwestern Pennsylvania has reached harvest time. The row of green bean plants in our garden has grown very big and bushy. Gathering beans from those plants is a challenge. It requires squatting or being down on knees, trying to separate and lift the tangled bushes and stems from each other enough to spot the elusive green beans underneath. It’s not as easy as one might think! I don’t know if the picture below gives a good perspective, but the beans are hidden very well amidst those bushy plants. One would never know that quarts of green beans were hanging in there if just walking by that row of green plants without intentionally looking or investigating more closely.

As I picked those beans a few evenings ago, I wondered if that’s what the church looks like to the world. Are we camouflaged so well that we blend in with the world? Are we hidden so well that others need to go to a lot of effort to find us? Or, do we stand out to others, letting our lights shine before them that they see our good works and give glory to our Father in Heaven? [Matthew 5: 16]  If our lights aren’t shining…why not? Perhaps it’s that ugly three-letter word: Sin. Maybe we blend in so well because we look just like everyone else. Maybe it’s because we act like those who aren’t followers of Christ. Our actions cause us to be indistinguishable from the rest of the world. We are lustful, gluttonous and greedy. We are lazy, envious and prideful. 

We neglect to attend or serve in the church, but in its place are sure to find time for pleasure and recreation. Are Sundays set aside to gather with the church to worship God or are Christians instead involved with other seemingly more important activities on that day? Does the way we go about life look like it does for everyone else? Are Christians avoiding sin and offering ourselves as living sacrifices to the Savior of our souls? Are our lights shining brightly enough that we can be easily seen by those who are in need of salvation? Do our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family have the impression that God is the priority of our lives? Do they see by our words and actions that we live to please Him?

Maybe if those green beans were neon or yellow or any other color besides green, they would be much easier to locate. Maybe they would then be easier to identify as the bean and not mistaken for the stem or leaf of the plant. Maybe if Christians would walk and talk more like Jesus, they would be more easily identified by others as belonging to the kingdom of God. Maybe then they would be making a greater impact on this world rather than spending so much time wringing their hands over the direction that the world is going. Just maybe.

HOPE NUGGET:  Spoken by Jesus:   I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  [John 17: 14-16]

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A Day of Refreshment

At the end of each busy and tiring week, most of us look forward to the weekend for some time of recouping and relaxing. Sundays became important to our family from early on in marriage. We decided to set aside Sunday mornings for attending worship service with fellow Christians, and as much as possible to avoid work and keep Sunday as a day of rest. Even though Sunday is considered to be the final day of the weekend in American culture, it is also shown on the calendar to be the first day of the week. Over the years, we’ve experienced the benefits of following through with our commitment to worship service and rest on Sundays and have enjoyed those days as special times of refreshment for starting a new week.

This afternoon I made chocolate ice cream for the first time and we enjoyed it together with special friends who were visiting. What a wonderful visit and a refreshing and yummy treat! A few months ago, I purchased a Pampered Chef Ice Cream Maker and over the summer have put it to use numerous times by making different flavors of ice cream. I’m not a Pampered Chef sales consultant…but I do like their products and highly recommend the Ice Cream Maker! Below, I’ll share the ice cream recipes that I’ve used which are now tried-and-true. Maybe some of you will enjoy them too!

Chocolate Ice Cream in the making!

VANILLA ICE CREAM

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the bowl of the ice cream maker into the freezer on the coldest setting for at least 24 hours.
  2. Combine ingredients and whisk for 1 minute, or until the sugar is dissolved. Place bowl in refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until mixture reaches 45F (7C). 
  3. Remove the bowl from the freezer and attach the assembled clear lid to the bowl.
  4. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Once the paddle starts rotating, pour the cream mixture into the bowl.
  5. When the Ice Cream Maker stops turning, check for doneness. The mixture should be a soft-serve consistency. If needed, add more time until desired consistency is reached.

CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

Follow directions for vanilla ice cream and add 1/2 cup of chocolate syrup to the mixture. Set the Ice Cream Maker timer for 25 to 30 minutes.

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the bowl of the Ice Cream Maker into the freezer on the coldest setting for at least 24 hours. 
  2. Coarsely chop the strawberries and combine with ½ cup of the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. Pour the strawberries into a small colander and use a large spoon or spatula to press out as much liquid as possible. Add the strawberries to the cream mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Remove the Ice Cream Maker bowl from the freezer and attach the assembled clear lid to the bowl.
  6. Set the timer for 30 minutes. Once the paddle starts rotating, pour the mixture into the bowl.
  7. When the Ice Cream Maker stops turning, check the doneness. The mixture should be a soft-serve consistency. If needed, add more time until desired consistency is reached.

BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup whole milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the bowl of the Ice Cream Maker into the freezer on the coldest setting for at least 24 hours.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, ½ cup of the sugar, and the water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and chill the mixture for 2 hours.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar, cream, buttermilk, and milk. Whisk for 1 minute, or until the sugar is dissolved. Place the mixture into the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until the mixture reaches 45°F (7°C).
  4. Add the blueberry mixture to the cream mixture and whisk to combine. Remove the bowl of the Ice Cream Maker from the freezer and attach the assembled clear lid to the bowl. Set the timer for 25 minutes. Once the paddle starts rotating, pour the mixture into the bowl.
  5. When the Ice Cream Maker stops turning, check the doneness. The mixture should be a soft-serve consistency. If needed, add more time until the desired consistency is reached.

FROZEN CUSTARD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3  egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the bowl of the Ice Cream Maker into the freezer on the coldest setting for at least 24 hours. 
  2. Combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly add 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks to temper the eggs. Slowly add the egg mixture back into the hot cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 165°F (75°C).
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the vanilla, and pour the mixture into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until it reaches 45°F (7°C).
  5. Remove the Ice Cream Maker bowl from the freezer and attach the assembled clear lid to the bowl.
  6. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Once the paddle starts rotating, pour the mixture into the bowl.
  7. When the Ice Cream Maker stops turning, check the doneness. The mixture should be a soft-serve consistency. If needed, add more time until desired consistency is reached.

HOPE NUGGET:  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)