Thankfulness & Gratitude


“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude.  Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness.  Thankfulness may consist of merely words.  Gratitude is shown in acts.”
Henri Frederic Amiel –(1821-1861) Swiss philosopher & poet

Hoping and praying I can translate my thankfulness to gratitude– moving on from just feeling thankful, to caring well for people around me to show real overflowing gratitude.

“‘So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to lives your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  –Colossians 2:6-7


P.S. The Matilija Poppy at the top was blooming everywhere in Ojai on a recent trip there– so striking, large as my hand!

Stacked Green Chili Enchiladas

Hola!  Here’s dinner with a crowd of friends who came in last week.  Happily, it was pretty easy to make two big pan-fulls–using pre-roasted chicken from the market.  Instead of rolling all those enchiladas, you just stack the ingredients in a baking dish and pop it into the oven.

And I think they all loved it because there was only 1 serving leftover to take a picture to show you!

1 grocery store roast chicken,
deboned & cut to bits
1/4 cup butter
2 tab. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup flour
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup milk
4 oz. can diced green chilis
1/2 cup salsa verde
2 cups grated cheddar jack cheese
12 to 14 corn tortillas
garnish: avocado and a little more sour cream

Remove the skin, debone and cut the chicken to small chunks.  Cut the tortillas into 6 triangles each.

Melt the butter in a large skillet of pot.  Add the olive oil and garlic.  Bring it to a simmer and stir in the flour until it’s a thick paste.  Keep simmering and stir in the chicken broth a bit at a time.  Then add the milk the same way.  Continue to stir until it thickens.

Mix in the green chilis and salsa verde. Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream.

In a 9″x13″ baking dish, pour 1/4 cup of the sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.  Layer 1/3 of the tortilla triangles to cover the bottom the baking dish.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped chicken over the tortillas.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese on top.  Then drizzle 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese.

Repeat the same layer process two more times, topping with a full cup of cheese.

Tent foil over the baking dish, so that it doesn’t touch the cheese on top.  Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Take off the foil and cook 10 minutes more to melt the cheese completely.

Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a little avocado.

Open Heart, Open Home

Table ready for friends to sit and eat and talk 

Hi friends– The year we lived in Costa Rica, we attended a small church in a village, a bus ride and then a kilometer walk from our home.  We loved those people, who opened their church doors and their arms to us.

One Sunday Eunice asked us to her house for tea after the church service.  She stopped by a little roadside market for a couple tea bags and a small packet of soda crackers.  We sat in her small home cobbled together from scraps of boards and a tin roof,  talked over the tea from chipped cups– and never felt more cared for, more welcome.

I learned a lot about hospitality from dear Eunice.  And learned how to meet friends at the door with welcoming hugs from our buddy Jenni.  And from Tim and Jill, how to make conversation around the table sparkle. I’ve learned impromptu meals can be the best from Carmen–as we carried the table and chairs up stairs onto the roof on a sweltering summer night in southern Spain, to sit and talk and sing over plates of simple tapas.

I’ve learned from Jen Hatmaker, who wrote in her book, For the Love–

“A shared table is the supreme expression of hospitality every culture on earth.  When your worn-out kitchen table hosts good people and good conversation, when it provides a safe place to break bread and share wine, your house becomes a sanctuary, holy as a cathedral.”   (page 116)

There’s a joy to setting plates around a table, anticipating friends in the door, praying for them and the time you will spend together.  And also there’s chocolate cake–that’s always good too.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.   Romans 12: 12-13

Farro Enchilada Bowl


Hello Blog Friends– We could eat Mexican-ish food 7 days a week around here.  On one of those questionnaires you see that ask, “What 5 things do you always have in your fridge?”, tortillas would be at the top of the list.  Last night it was left over try-tip in a quesadilla with avocado and chicken fajitas is a staple on our table.

But here’s a tortillas-less bowl of Mexican flavors, topped with sour cream and guacamole. It was just right for a warm early summer supper with a cold glass of “tinto de verano” (Fresca, red wine & lemon).

2 cups farro
1/2 tsp. salt
2 chicken breasts, but to smallish bits
2 tab. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 large avocado
1 cup cherry tomatoes
a couple shakes of garlic salt
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1 can chili beans, rinsed
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen, microwave 2-3 minutes until tender.
garnish: sour cream, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), cilantro

Cook the faro according to the directions on the package.  (Mine cooked with 5 cups water, 1/2 tsp. salt for 10 minutes) Drain extra water, if there’s some in the pot.

While that’s cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet and add in the chicken chunks, cooking until they are well browned and cooked through.  Stir in the cumin, chili powder and 1/2 tsp. garlic salt along with a couple tablespoons of water.

To make the simplest guacamole, smash the avocados along with a couple tablespoons of tomato cut to tiny pieces and a couple shakes of garlic salt.

Then layer it all up in a bowl– the farro, chili beans, corn, chicken, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes & pepitas– and tuck in!


Daily Mercies

by Thomas Cross, line engraving, 1646

by Thomas Cross, line engraving, 1646


“A nobel heart is a thankful heart that loves to acknowledge whenever it has received any mercy.”
—Jeremiah Burroughs  (Puritan preacher, England, 1600-1646).

Acknowledging any mercy—love that idea.  And it makes me want to be watchful for the God’s tender mercies, to see his loving merciful care each day.

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”       —Psalm 23:6

Cranberry & Candied Pecan Poke Cake

IMG_2580Hey all–It’s been a week.  So much Christmas.  We’ve been out to eat with friends every night but one this past week–Pub dinner with close friends, a quiet dinner out with J & L, who always make you feel a little wiser just listening to them, a winery dinner and performance of the Messiah with old friends… It’s been grand to sit and talk and laugh and hear Christmas plans…  Last night it was a potluck at Caroline’s.  I brought along this cake (in fact I’m eating a leftover slice right now).

It’s fruity and nutty, but nothing at all like fruitcake.  Tender white cake underneath and a swath of whipped cream on top.  The berries are tart and the pecans sweet and crunchy.  I’ll be making it again this Christmas.


1 white cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 tab. cornstarch
2 1/2 cups cranberries (about 1 bag)
1 1/3 cups water
1 1/2 cups peans
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 rounded tsp. powdered sugar
1 rounded tsp. vanilla instant pudding mix*
a few more cranberries
2 tsp. sugar

Make the cake mix according to the instructions on the box–mine used 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil and a cup of water.  Spoon the batter into a 9″x13″ baking dish or a 11″spring form pan** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it 30 to 35 minutes, until it is lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Let the cake cool.  Then with the handle end of a wooden spoon, poke small holes all over the top of the cake.

To make the cranberry layer, Mix the cup of sugar and cornstarch in a pan and mix them thoroughly to break up any cornstarch lumps.  Then add in the 1 1/3 cup water and the cranberries and stir over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes until the berries all pop! The sauce will thicken and the berries turn soft and sweet.

Spread the berry mixture over the cake the pat it down into the holes.  Let it cool.

To make the pecan layer, put the pecans and 3/4 cup sugar into a nonstick skillet and stir over medium heat until the sugar melts into a golden color and coats the pecans.  Keep stirring or it can burn!  Turn the pecans out onto a piece of foil and let it cool.

Then break the sugared pecans into smaller pieces and layer over the cranberry layer.

Whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix until it’s stiff. And then spread it over the pecan layer.  Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more to set.

Garnish: Mix a handful of cranberries with a couple teaspoons of sugar in a plastic bag and pile them in the center of the cake– finish off with non-poisonous*** (!) leaves from your yard.

*The pudding mix sets the whipped cream, so even out of the fridge it will hold up firm.
**I like to use a springform pan because you can lift the cake out of the pan on to a plate to serve it up pretty.
***We have lemon geranium in the back yard with these leaves and lots of mint.  Check to see if your leaves are good to use.



Elliot-Elisabeth-3“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”

Elisabeth Elliot, Christian author, speaker, missionary to South America (1926-2015)

Hello friends– I loved reading this.  It helped me know what to do with all those uncertainties, my unanswered questions, when life get complicated.  It’s a comfort to know I can lift up my heart to God–all the while I’m waiting.

“Wait in hope for the Lord; for he is our help and shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”   Psalm 33:20-21