1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 lb. (two sticks) butter, softened but not melted
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract (be generous)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. pecans, chopped fine in a blender
1 boatload of powdered sugar
I use an electric hand mixer to blend the butter and sugar well. Add flour, vanilla, salt, and pecans and mix well. Roll dough into small balls and place on air-bake cookie sheets (prevents burning), and bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. While cooking, prepare a rimmed cookie sheet with cooling racks over it and get your sifter ready. (you could use a fine mesh colander).
Immediately remove cookies from baking sheet and put them on the cooling racks. Sprinkle GENEROUSLY with powdered sugar. When cool, move cooling racks off rimmed baking sheet. Before transferring cookies to a storage container, dip them in the remaining powdered sugar in the rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle more powdered sugar over the cookies every chance you get. The dough is not sweet...the cookies get all their sweetness from the powdered sugar.
Store in airtight container. Cookies are very delicate. Also, don't inhale when you take a bite, or you'll choke on powdered sugar.
And now for the ornament.
Our Stephen Ministry group handed out our annual "Blue Christmas" ornaments. Many churches honor those who are not jolly during the holidays, either because they are grieving, have lost jobs, are burdened by stress or caregiving or illness. Here's this year's ornament and the presentation that was read at each of our church's three services.
The verse on the back of the ornament is 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"
Here's the speech:
Did you know that in Scandinavia, holly is called Christ thorn? In fact, many Christians believe that the prickly leaves of holly represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore at his crucifixion, and the red berries symbolize the drops of blood shed from those thorns. We deck our halls with boughs of holly for a jolly Christmas to celebrate Christ’s birth. What an appropriate reminder that we owe our hope, peace, joy, and love to a Savior who gave His very life for us.
For the past four years during Advent, Stephen Ministers have given away ornaments as a reminder that Christmas isn’t holly jolly for everyone, and that’s why this year’s ornaments have holly on them. For some, this holiday season is a time of worry or frustration, or a painful reminder of the loss of a loved one, a job, a marriage, health, independence, or even faith.
If you know someone who is grieving or in crisis this Christmas, we encourage you to reach out to them, listen to them, and encourage them. You might also tell them about Stephen Ministry and how a Stephen Minister can meet with them once a week to listen to and encourage them for as long as they need. Ask their permission to give their name and telephone number to a Stephen Leader, and pass it along to Pastor Amy, Zandra Woody, or Susan Raihala.
God’s amazing grace is sufficient for each one of us, and His power is made perfect in our weakness. When someone is feeling weak and hurting, that’s just when Christians are called to step in and be agents of God’s amazing grace. God can work through each of us to heal the hurting, and Stephen Ministers are especially well equipped through training, through faith, and through love of Christ to serve those who are suffering.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful Christmas present to connect someone who is hurting with Christ’s saving grace? Perhaps that person is you. Stephen Ministers are here to help.
Stephen Ministers will be standing at each exit after service to give one ornament to each family. If you would like an extra ornament to give to a hurting friend or family member, just ask.
We wish you a very Holly Christmas!
To each one of you reading this, if you are hurting this Christmas, know that there are people of faith ready to help you. Reach out. Talk to a pastor. Talk to a friend. If you don't know of a Stephen Ministry group in your area and might be interested, email me and I will try to find one for you.
If you know someone who's hurting this Christmas, reach out to them. Listen. Don't try to fix their problems or tell them what to do. Cry with them, listen, be there.
I'll get off my soapbox now and wish you all hope, peace, comfort, and love this season and always.
ink: Archival leaf, red geranium
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: corner rounder, red 1/8" satin ribbon, circle punch, Avery label sticker (for verse on back)