Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Speaking of Feasting...

Author Tracy Groot shares a holiday recipe with us today! Have a great Thanksgiving! 

I've always been enchanted by holiday traditions. When I married, I decided to create a tradition of my own. Since Jack's side of the family celebrated Christmas the Saturday before and my side met on Christmas day, I invited anyone who wanted to come for a special Christmas Eve feast.

Jack's parents and Jack's sister, Rita, along with Rita's family, came to the very first Feast. I planned the menu weeks ahead. I scrubbed the house to a spit-shine and happily fretted over endless details incumbent upon a holiday hostess. It was important for that first Feast to go well, and it did. The guests were suitably impressed by the food, and the atmosphere was pleasant and festive.

One year I decided to serve prime rib. I investigated many methods of cooking it, and finally decided on the One True Way. With guests about to arrive, I prepared a final herb rub--and noticed a funny smell.

"Is that my roast?" I shrieked.

"Yes," Jack admitted, as if he'd noticed it for a while.

Turned out my prime rib was way past its prime--the meat was foul. Christmas Eve Feast was about to be a complete failure. Maybe my husband expected wails and groans--maybe I did. But many years of celebrating this Christmas Eve Feast taught me one thing: it isn't about food, though the food is nice. It isn't about the atmosphere, though atmosphere is important. It's about people. It will always be about people.

"Stoke up the grill!" I hollered. "Meijers is open for another twenty minutes!"

I flew to the store, grabbed an armload of steaks, and made it home just as the first guests arrived.

It wasn't prime rib, but the most important feature to adorn that table was there--family.

This is special to me for two reasons: It's my son Evan's favorite dessert, and always requested for his birthday "cake," and it came from a dear friend, Amy Strating, whose recipes compile about half of what is in my recipe box.

Whopper Dessert

35 Oreo cookies, crushed

6 T butter or margarine, melted

1 half-gallon vanilla ice cream, softened

1 12 oz. box of Whoppers candy, crushed

reserving 3/4 cup

1 jar of hot fudge topping (I use Mrs. Richardson's), very slightly warmed

1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip, thawed

Combine crushed Oreos and melted butter, and place in the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Mix ice cream with crushed Whoppers until well combined; then spread on Oreo layer. Freeze until firm. Spread with the jar of hot fudge topping, then the Cool Whip, and sprinkle with the reserved crushed Whoppers. Keep frozen until serving.

Taken from Come to Our Table, Moody Publishers, ©Moody Bible Institute, 2007

TRACY GROOT is a part-time writer, the mother of three young boys, and co-owner with her husband Jack of a popular coffee shop and juice bar in Holland, Michigan. The Brother's Keeper is based on her original play Consider It All Joy. Tracy enjoys reading, backpacking, and writing, which she does primarily in her own coffee shop. Visit Tracy at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Required Reading for Pastors: Should They Be Reading More Than Scripture?

Today I found an interesting post over at The Burnside Writers Collective that called into question the illiteracy of our clergy.  Titled, "Does Your Pastor Read?", the author affirms the importance of literature in connection with faith, and laments the practice of quoting bumper stickers from the pulpit instead of poetry. 

Here's a section from the article with a great quote from a well-read pastor.  To read the rest of the article, visit here

"John Wesley was an old preacher guy who lived a long time ago, back when “online” meant a person’s clothes were drying in the sun.  Wesley thought reading was an important spiritual discipline: “It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people. ”

Can a pastor who doesn’t read really lead a people? Or is he more like a blind friend with a map? Pretty ineffective at giving clear direction."

What do you think? Does your pastor read or incorporate literature in his sermons? Do you think it's important to integrate stories with spirituality, why or why not?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vintage Rejection

Check out this vintage rejection slip from the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company (1907-1925), famous for their production of Charlie Chaplin movies.  (Photo originally posted on NPR).  Rejection always hurts, but Essanay seems particularly hard to please! Which "reason for rejection" do you find most amusing, appalling, or surprising?

But to keep you from getting too discouraged, here are a few excerpts from rejection letters of now beloved and classic works,  from publishers who probably still have their foot stuck in their mouths!

Lord of the Flies by William Golding..."an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull."

The Deer Park by Norman Mailer..."This will set publishing back 25 years."

The Diary of Anne Frank..."The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level."

On Writings by Anais Nin..."There is no commercial advantage in acquiring her, and, in my opinion, no artistic."

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame..."an irresponsible holiday story."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sneak Peek for Spring Fiction!

Many of you may know of Wendy Lawton, who makes her living wearing many hats as an award-winning  writer, literary agent, doll designer, and conference speaker. Wendy is the author of the historical fiction series called Daughters of Faith and I'm excited to tell you she is coming out with a new title for this collection this spring!

But first, I'll introduce you to the Daughters of Faith series, primarily for young readers ages ages 8-12.  Each Daughters of Faith book, inspired by historial events and Christian characters, "features a heroine who solves a nearly insurmountable situation. In the process, she discovers or deepens her personal faith in God." And the newest title soon to be released in March, 2011 is Indian Paintbrush: A Story Based on the Life of Young Eliza Spalding Warren.  Congrats Wendy!

Imagine growing up in a new country, far from family or familiar places. When Eliza Spalding Warren's parents crossed the continent as pioneer missionaries in the early 1800's, they broke so much new ground that young Eliza became the first white baby to be born in the Pacific Northwest.

Growing up in the Northwest was no hardship for Eliza who loved the Nez Perce Indians like family. Whether she was playing with the tribal children or fording swollen rivers with her father, Eliza lived a rich and wonderful life in her native surroundings. She even earned the deep respect of the Indians by learning their language. So great was their respect for her that, at ten years old, she served as translator during the massacre at the Whitman Mission where she attended school.

Like the Indian Paintbrush wildflower, Eliza Spalding Warren flourished in the untamed and rugged territory she knew only as "home."
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