Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Free recipe and an article by Kay Marshall Strom - and three authors favorite holiday memories


This warm, mellow soup from Senegal, West Africa, can easily incorporate any extra turkey you have on hand. Just substitute it for the chicken.

You will need:

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup diced chicken (or turkey)
1 cup yogurt
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
fresh chives, washed and snipped

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry powder and flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually blend in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Add diced chicken (or turkey).
Remove the kettle from the heat and cool the soup slightly. Gradually stir in the yogurt, a small amount at a time. Squeeze the juice from the lemon half and add the juice to the soup.
Garnish each bowl of soup with a dash of fresh chives.

The Women at the Well
Kay Marshall Strom

In Senegal, West Africa, I sat beside the community well, because that’s where the village women gathered. Out of the dusty wasteland they came, from every direction, their babies tied to their backs and their water containers balanced on their heads. They were glad to rest beside the well, for they had to walk many miles to get there. The average woman in the world, we are told, walks seven miles a day in her quest for water. When you factor in those of us who only walk to the kitchen to turn on the faucet, you can see that some must trek much farther than seven miles!

At the well, the women have a chance to catch up with the goings-on in neighboring villages, to air their complaints with one another, and to share their own news. And so I sat by the well with Obei and Helene, two Christian women in a country 98 percent Muslim, and waited to meet the women as they came for water.

And come they did.

A young woman came, sobbing over her baby son who was burning with fever. We prayed together in Jesus’ name that her baby would be healed.

A girl came and whispered her wish to learn to read, but said she could not because the walk to the well and back took her all day. Obei offered to teach her a little every day when she came for water. She started with: “For God so loved the world….”

A woman came with terror in her eyes and confided that her daughter must surely be a witch. Helene prayed for the girl, but also for the mother. “Do not believe what others tell you,” she warned the distraught mother. “Believe in the power of God.”

And Songa came. Obei and Helene had prayed with her before in Jesus’ name, and Songa had seen a miracle as her seriously ill son was healed. Now she too, was a follower of Christ. “My husband ordered me to renounce Jesus,” Songa told us. “When I would not, he threw me out of the house, but he kept my children. Please, please… pray for my little ones. Pray that they too will know the God of mercy and love.”

This holiday season, I am thankful for the women at the well in Senegal—all three of them, for Songa has joined the other two. I’m thankful for the lives they are touching in the name of Jesus. Most of all, I am thankful for the Living Water that flows freely for every one of us.

Author Kay Marshall Strom has two great loves: writing and helping others achieve their own writing potential. Kay has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. While mostly a nonfiction writer, the first book of her historical novel trilogy Grace in Africa has met with acclaim.

Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, writers’ conferences, and special events throughout the country and around the world. She is in wide demand as an instructor and keynote speaker at major writing conferences. She also enjoys speaking aboard cruise ships in exchange for exotic cruise destinations. Learn more about Kay at her website.


My Favorite Family Christmas Tradition
by Virginia Smith

Viriginia Smith's upcoming release, Third Time's a Charm, releases January 2010.

On Christmas Eve my family will gather together to celebrate the first coming of the King of Kings. The evening will be full of traditions – food, games, caroling. But the best part comes when we hold hands in a big circle around the kitchen table. Someone will douse the lights. In the center is a birthday cake with a candle for every century since the birth of the Child in whose Name we gather. We’ll lift our voices together singing Silent Night, then without pause, we’ll launch into a joyful rendition of “Happy Birthday to Jesus!” I guarantee you, there will not be a dry eye in the house.

Shelly Beach's 2009 release of The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk helps readers understand the importance of godly thoughts and scripture in the Christian life. Guessing Giftsby Shelly Beach

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is “guessing gifts.” To stave off “Can-we-open-one-present-early?” pressure, Dan and I began buying one gift for our now-adult children and each other. Beginning two weeks before Christmas, we’re allowed two yes-no questions per night. If we guess the gift, we can open it. Q & A on Christmas Eve lasts until we guess correctly. When guessing gets frustrating, family members help out. (When our son was eight, Dan bought him a soldering gun.) Recent gifts have included “The Clapper,” kitchen gadgets, and dashboard sticky pads. The goal is to create laughter and anticipation.

Sandra Glahn's 2009 releases included Jonah with Kona and Frappe' with Philippians- 2 Coffee Cup Series Bible Studies.
Sandi's Favorite Christmas Traditions
by Sandra Glahn

Wherever we travel, we buy an ornament to remind us a place we’ve visited together.
We wait till Epiphany to place the wise men in the crèche. Throughout the season they inch their way across the living room toward the manger.
On Christmas we gather around the table and work on a jigsaw puzzle after the big meal.
Dessert between Christmas and New Years always includes my great grandmother’s recipe for steamed pudding cooked in a #1 coffee can, just like she made it during the Depression.

Kathy Carlton Willis, owner of the same named communications firm, can’t get enough Christmas. She takes the star off the top of the tree and makes it shine in the lives of her clients all year long. They aspire to reflect the true star of Christmas, Jesus Christ, every day.
Kathy’s Christmas Memory Albumby Kathy Carlton Willis

I imagine my fondest Christmas memories preserved in a family photo album. My mind recollects events and people who made each Christmas holiday an event to be cherished. As I leaf through this memory album, pages of special events appear before my eyes.

On the first page of my memory book, Grandma Mary makes chilled boiled custard served in punch cups with mounds of real whipped cream. She rolls the iced cakes in a choice of crushed peanuts or coconut to make the traditional blarney stones. Her gaudy Christmas tree light bulbs sag from mere size on the dried out pine tree. I can see her tree in my mind's eye, and it triggers another memory: Grandma Mary hoisting the decorated tree over the hillside, because she’s mad at Papa Pete. They argued over gift giving, and she showed him! After emotions cooled down, the tree is retrieved and propped up in the living room with more than a few pine needles missing.

On the second page I see my cousin, Keith, painting a Christmas scene on the picture window of their Missouri home, atop the sky lift hill. The window features the nativity scene, inspiring spectators to celebrate the blessed birth amidst the hectic pace of their busy schedule. On Christmas Day, the Kent home buzzes with excitement as cousins gather to catch up on important things like discussing their favorite schoolgirl crushes.

Turning the next page of the memory album, I see Mom working alongside our neighbor Elaine, cooking candies and nut breads. They dust off the gently used recipe cards with instructions for their annual specialties. Peanut brittle spreads across buttered wax paper, and the aroma of molasses oatmeal bread fills the kitchen. Mom and Elaine box up most of the treats for Christmas gifts, but samples remain to fill our tummies.

Next in the album, I see a group of carolers bundled up in sweatered layers, singing to shut-ins. As a youngster, I sing with my Girl Scout Troup, and later on, with friends. Our music fills the halls of nursing homes and hospitals. And just for kicks, we sing in our neighborhoods as well. Christmas means caroling!

On an adjacent page in the memory album I see another musical memory. Dressed in festive attire, my classmates and I sing Christmas choral arrangements for our school Christmas concert. Back when it could still be called a Christmas concert. Our school band performs several holiday tunes, and hearts are prepared for the holiday.

“Christmas Plays,” reads the headline of the next page. One photo shows me dressed as a princess, hand clasped in the hand of my prince. For our Christmas program at church, I memorize a Bible verse from the gospel of Luke. Trembling, I proudly quote God's Word to the packed sanctuary. Mom mouthed the words with me from her seat. I don't notice, but she trembles too.

Some of the favorite pages in my memory album feature our family sitting around the cut pine tree in our living room. With pride, we select just the right tree each year. The fragrant scent of pine fills the air. Mom reads 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. My brother's chest puffs with importance, as he distributes each gift. To top off the day, I perch on Daddy's lap, embracing my favorite dolly.

The memory album grows each year. There is always room in my heart for new Christmas adventures. But the fondest memories in the book will always be those from my childhood. The best gift of all was not a doll or toy, but being part of a family who loved me. They gave me the sense of belonging as a child, and as an adult, this sense of belonging is broader, encompassing the entire Family of God.

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