Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas, A Very Special Birthday Boy, & Some Recipes To Share

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
Hebrews 13:8

I hope everyone had a very blessed Christmas,
and I hope those of you who are hurting and struggling 
felt the sweet arms of Jesus sustaining you and carrying you through the rough spots.
I hope you will soon find your way through the storm, 
and when you look behind you to where you've been, 
may you see only one set of footprints.
That way, you will know for sure He was holding you close during the worst.

God blessed us with a wonderful Christmas Day.
We so enjoyed our time with Debbie, LD, and Mark.
We started a family tradition a few years ago to have snacks and finger foods
on Christmas Day, since we do such a big meal on Thanksgiving.
All of us love munchie, hors d'oeuvre type foods, so it is really lots of fun.

How abundantly blessed we are....
and how very, very grateful.
I always feel guilty partaking of such bounty,
when I pause to remember how many are starving.

This is what our Christmas Day menu looked like...
(I wish I could include a picture, but our camera was acting up at the time,
and I was unable to get the one I wanted.)

We ate....
Pigs in a Blanket,
LD's Homemade Fried Chicken Wings w/BBQ & Ranch Sauce,
Deviled Eggs,
Mexican Layer Dip and Chips,
Cracker Sandwiches,
Cheese Log with Savory Crackers,
Pepperoni Pinwheels,
and, of course, Zachary's birthday cake later in the evening for dessert.

He chose to have his birthday celebration after our Christmas festivities
at Debbie, LD, and Mark's house this year.
They went all out to make sure it was very special for him.
He was very, very grateful to them for all they did.

From the moment you walk into their beautiful home,
you feel warm, welcome, and loved.

I love going there.
There aren't too many places a person can feel completely at home,
other than their own home, of course.  :)
That doesn't apply to Debbie, LD, and Mark's house.
They do everything they can to make you feel welcome.

After we ate, we had our family gift exchange.

Then Zach's party.

Zach wanted his favorite cake for his birthday again this year....
Lemon Curd Layer Cake.
And we decorated it in one of his favorite things...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
He helped me make it, which made it extra-special. :)

We started out by baking a butter recipe yellow cake in two layers.
When they were finished baking and had cooled completely, 
we put a layer of lemon curd in the middle.

Zach prefers lemon frosting, Kevin prefers cream cheese.
So to please everyone, I took a store-bought container of lemon frosting,
added green food coloring, until it reached Zach's-satisfaction-level of TMNT green!
This I put on the top to create a foundation for the scene Zach wanted to create.
We used cream cheese frosting all around the sides.
We made a "road" by using black frosting in the tube,
and Zach made little road dividers with yellow-colored sugar sprinkles.
Then we placed the store-bought kit we purchased at Walmart on top.
It looks like the turtles are coming out of the sewer, with the city backdrop behind them.

I am not a professional cake-decorator by any stretch of the imagination,
but Zach was thrilled, and that is all that mattered to me.

Debbie, LD, and Mark bought all of the turtle party decor, 
which brought huge smiles to Zach's face!

He loved it!

Wow, can I tell you how hard it is for me to comprehend that he is 13 years old?

I honestly don't know how Kevin and I could be the parents of a teenager.
But now we are....
and today it hit me how many prayers we have prayed that God would allow the two of us
to live and be in health to raise this sweet child.
I don't think a day has gone by over the past several years
that God has not heard me present this petition before His throne.

As I was praying last night, it occurred to me how faithful God is.
He has answered that prayer to this point in time,
and I could never begin to thank Him enough for every second of the past 13 years.

How I plead for more see the full completion of this precious journey!

Zach often hears me praying my "repetitious" prayer,
and each time I just ask for enough time to fully raise him,
he is quick to scold me.
"Mama, ask for God to spare you and Daddy for many more years after that, too!"
He grows more precious to us with each passing day.
So does life.

I just can't wrap my mind around how quickly the years have flown
since Kevin cut that cord, and the mid-wife placed that little round-faced bundle in our waiting arms.
I have done my utmost to cherish each and every second...
but while I have cherished, the moments have slipped so quickly through my hands.

Who can halt the flow of time?
Only its Creator.

How grateful I am for every minute of motherhood!
I guess I cherish it even more since it took so long for us
and since we weren't given much hope of it ever happening.
It just makes it all the more sweet and precious.
It pays to wait on God....
His way and His timing are always the very best.

Even though we felt it would have been best to have Zach long before we did,
we look back now and realize that God was absolutely right.
He always is.

I wanted to share at least some of the recipes we used for Christmas Day.

Debbie made the cheese log by using our sister, Sandi's yummy recipe.

Sandi's Party Cheese Log

1 Block of Cream Cheese, softened
Finely chopped green olives, to taste
Finely chopped green onions, to taste
One pack of Carl Buddig beef, chopped into fine pieces

After the cream cheese is soft and pliable,
mix the green olives and green onions through it.
Pour finely-chopped beef onto wax paper.
Roll the cheese log in the beef, until it is well-coated.
Serve with variety of party crackers.
Mexican Layer Dip

2 cans of refried beans (either traditional or spicy, your choice)
32 ounces of sour cream
2 packs of taco seasoning mix
2 small cans of chili peppers
Green onions, finely chopped, to taste
Tomatoes, finely chopped, to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese

Spread both cans of refried beans over the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish.
Mix the two packets of taco seasoning mix with the sour cream,
then spread on top of beans.
Layer the remaining four ingredients in the order shown in recipe.
You can add finely chopped jalapeno peppers to the chili pepper layer, if you want a spicier dish.

Serve with tortilla chips.
Pepperoni Pinwheels

2 blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 packet of ranch dressing mix
Pepperoni slices, to taste
About 4-5 green onions, finely chopped
2-3 jalapeno slices, finely chopped
1-2 tsp. of juice from jalapenos
5 tortillas

After cream cheese is soft and pliable, mix with ranch dressing mix.
Finely chop pepperoni.  
(I use our electric works great!)
It is hard for me to say an exact number of pepperonis, but to give you an idea,
I bought the 3.5 box of Hormel pepperoni.  
There are 2 pouches inside, and I used almost one whole pouch.
Next, finely chop the green onions, 
(again an electric chopper does great and saves a ton of time.) 
Finely chop the jalapenos
(did I mention how much I love our electric chopper??) LOL!
Dump the pepperonis, green onions, and jalapenos into the cream cheese/ranch dressing mixture.
Add the jalapeno juice.
Stir and stir until everything is well-blended.
Lay the tortillas on counter, and spread the cream cheese mixture to fully cover the tortilla.
Fold, jelly-roll style, and use the cream cheese mixture to seal shut.
Take out the next day, and slice about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Serve on pretty Christmas or festive plate.
Also, did I happen to mention how much I love Christmas?
Okay, so it is hard for me to let go.
It is sad to see it go away....again.
You work so hard in the anticipation-stages leading up to it,
everyone's hopes are so high,
and then, poof!
It's a flash.
It seems time flies by faster the older I get.
Is it just me?

God was so gracious to keep us all well enough through the holidays and Zach's birthday,
except my poor Sweetie.  
He was so sick on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Bless his heart, he plowed right on through, like he always does.
He is the bravest trooper I know.
All three of us have been under an illness attack ever since....
guess it is making its full rounds here in the Smith household.
Say a prayer for us, if we come to mind.  :)

On good, happy, smiling days of celebration,
on not-so-good days of hardly being able to leave the recliner,
God is good.
He is faithful.
He doesn't leave us in the sunshine or the rain.
He enjoys hearing our laughter, and He holds us when we cry.

Seasons come, seasons go.
Holidays are ushered in, then they are gone.

And now....
we stand near the beginning of a brand new year.
Just a couple of days left in 2013.
Time to reflect....and to give thanks to our Eternal, loving God...
for life and breath, yea, and all things.
Time to look ahead....
and hold more tightly to His nail-scarred hand.

Aren't you glad He never changes?


  1. Hi Cheryl. It's about time I made it over to your blog. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! And, happy 13th birthday to Zach. I love his cake: you and he did a great job. I like the decorating too, and lemon curd is yummy. I bet he would love an Italian Cream Cake. I used to buy a slice at the Books a Million coffee shop many years ago -- about 13 yrs. I haven't been on the computer quite as much, so I have missed a lot. Twas a merry and busy Christmas for the Boltons. Love, Debby

    1. Oh, my dear friend! I have missed you. I need to come to your blog, too...I think of you very often and trust the Lord that all is well with you and your days aren't so filled with pain. Thank you so much for the birthday greeting to Zach! That cake you mentioned sounds beyond yummy! He would love it. We had a very blessed, busy Christmas, too. God is so good! Love to you and peace and better health for the new year, Cheryl