The Birth in Bethlehem

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

God’s amazing design is before us in the birth of Jesus. Jesus did not enter our world as an adult. He came as an infant, fully human and also God. 

He wasn’t born in a palace or a hospital equipped with modern technology. His birth was dependent on the natural physical ability of a young woman to give birth.

God didn’t need human intervention to carry out his plan for our good. This fills me with joy and trust. We can rest, knowing God is sovereign over our world. 

Luke, the physician wrote in his gospel: And while they [Joseph and Mary] were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 6-7

Birth in Bethlehem
Painting in a Cathedral in Finland

Have a blessed and joyous Christmas!

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: BIRTH

Also linking with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday .

The Light of Christmas

Christmas, the day that we commemorate Jesus’ birth, is coming. Last night we attended a concert titled Night of Glory. It was good to pause from my errands, cookie baking, and card writing. I listened to the story of God’s amazing gift, told in song. The concert began with the orchestra playing Farandole (March of the Kings).

The wise men had a star in the night sky to lead them to the promised Savior. We have the Bible—old and new testament. In both prophecy and in the gospels, Jesus comes into the world bringing light. 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

The gospel of John tells about the Savior coming to earth.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. . .  John 1: 9-12

I remember the times that the electricity in our home was disrupted by a storm. When the power was off we looked for flashlights and candles. We needed light to dispel the darkness, to see where we were going. 

In the same way we need a relationship with God through Jesus.  We live in a world darkened by sin. Jesus gives direction for our life.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt is: DARKNESS

Making and Canning Healthy Broth

Whenever I cook a naturally raised chicken or turkey I want to make the best use of it. After the turkey (or chicken) has been carved and served I save the bones to make broth.

The procedure is simple. I put the bones, a few vegetables (a carrot, an onion, a couple stalks of celery), slices of lemon, garlic cloves and fresh herbs (parsley and thyme) into a large crockpot. The lemon provides acid that will leach calcium from the bones.

Then I add water to cover. It is important the crockpot lid does NOT have a vent, because the broth is going to cooks for 20 to 24 hours. All the ingredients contribute to a mineral rich broth.

Throughout the day the crockpot is set at high, and then overnight at low. 

Around 24 hours I turn the crockpot off and ladle the broth through a strainer. The bones, vegetables, lemon and herbs are discarded. The broth goes into a large pot  and is allowed to cool down. If there is fat in the broth, I place the broth in the refrigerator for several hours and skim the fat off the top before beginning the canning process.

NOTE: If you don’t want to can the broth, you can freeze it. Pour the broth into a canning jar, leaving head space. (The broth expands a little when it freezes.) Place it in the refrigerator to chill, and then place it in the freezer.  

Berries and applesauce can be preserved with water bath canning, but broth requires pressure cooker canning.  A couple years ago I wrote about my first experience with the pressure cooker.

I read the farm journal cookbook’s information on canning broth. I read the pressure cooker user’s manual from beginning to end twice. I read the directions for using the pressure cooker to can. I washed the canning jars in the dishwasher and the canning lids by hand in soapy water.

Then I placed the lids with their rings in hot water (that had recently boiled). While preparing the lids and jars, I reheated the broth on the stove top. Then I filled the pint size canning jars with hot broth leaving one inch of headspace. I put the lids on and tightened the bands and then did a quarter turn to loosen the band a little.

I placed a wire rack at the bottom of the pressure cooker to keep the canning jars from touching the bottom of the pot and put 2 + ½ inches of boiling water in the pressure cooker. Then I put my 3 jars on the rack—the water was just under 3 inches deep with the jars on the rack. 

Following the directions that came with the pressure cooker I put the lid on and set it to pressure-cooking, making sure that pressure lock button was set. I turned the burner on high under the pressure cooker. When the button on the lid of the cooker indicated that the pot had achieved pressure I began to time the process. The broth needed to be processed for 75 minutes with 10 pounds of pressure. (The Fagor pressure cooker reaches 15 pounds of pressure.) 

I stayed in the kitchen the whole time. Occasionally the pot began to hiss with lots of extra steam escaping and I adjusted the burner a little, feeling a little anxious. I like to see what is happening, but the only thing I could see was steam escaping from the safety valve. Were my jars breaking? Were the lids allowing extra air to escape and no liquid? I had to just wait and see.

When the 75 minutes was complete the pressure cooker needed to cool down on its own. The directions warned me not to open the cool down vent, not to try opening the lid. It took a full half hour for the pot to cool down and the pressure button indicate that the pot was no longer under steam pressure. With a little trepidation I opened the pot and saw that I had successfully processed my jars of broth.

Since then I have become comfortable with the process. I am able to insert the steps of this process into the day as I accomplish other things. The benefit is having a broth that is healthy—I know what is in it. I can to add it to soups, to chili, and use as the liquid for preparing rice.

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist

Prayer: the Antidote to Fear

There are times and circumstances that overwhelm with fear. Remember the Bible account of the sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee?

A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath, the sea became as smooth as glass. Mark 4:37-39 MSG

When a woman is in labor and gets close to giving birth she may experience a rush of hormones that cause the strong contractions of transition. Some women feel completely out of control. The waves of contraction rush over her. This is the point at which women, whom I have attended in labor, ask for prayer. Sometimes it is a husband or a friend that prays. Sometimes I have prayed.

Throughout life we encounter situations where the stress of a situation may overwhelm us. God provides a place to bring our fears and concerns. We can pray. It is calming to pray with another believer. Jesus said: 

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them  by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them. Matthew 18: 19-20

When I meet with women for Bible study on Wednesday mornings we end our meetings with group prayer. Together we bring our concerns to the Lord. We are refreshed and ready to meet the challenges ahead.

Do you have a friend that you can pray with?

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt today is: RUSH

Also linking with Inspire Me Monday, Heart Encouragement and Welcome Heart