Classic Bread Pudding with Southern Creme Anglaise…

DA804797-249C-4054-B549-7500D007EAEDWith all of the beautiful cakes, the decadent chocolates and luscious pies, it seems to me that Bread Pudding deserves a place on the dessert table, especially at Easter. Many holy days serve symbolic food and Bread Pudding seems to be a teachable opportunity. It’s ‘the Bread of Life broken for you…’ It’s a rustic dessert- reminding me of that oft sung hymn ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ … Bread Pudding is a dessert made by hand with love, served humbly and simply among friends and family, even stretched to feed a crowd.

CA8ED1F5-2DD0-4A48-B944-2D64C56B64B7The Pudding and Sauce are enriched and softly scented- a very comforting combination. Wrapped in orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg, the classic Bread Pudding is then dusted with unrefined cane sugar. Who would disagree that plain old broken bread is elevated to an entirely new life, beautifully sweet and dear. Just in time for Easter with its gloriously easy Southern Creme Anglaise… Here’s how you make – Classic Bread Pudding with extra easy Southern Creme Anglaise!00D687BD-B5D9-46BE-97A1-092186D06FB5

 

Classic Bread Pudding with Southern Creme Anglaise

A classic Bread Pudding made with a custard base that uses the old fashioned evaporated milk with whipped eggs and classic spices including orange zest. Served with a refreshing cool creme anglaise flavored with Bourbon giving the distinctive southern flavor associated with Bread Pudding. 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 4 Large Eggs Whisked
  • 1 Large can Evaporated Milk
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2- 1 Teaspoon Fresh Grated whole Nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 Cup Pure Cane Sugar Plus more for top of bread pudding
  • 5-6 Cups Torn Day Old Yeast Bread * I used 1 dozen small yeast rolls

Easy Creme Anglaise with Bourbon

  • 4 Scoops Vanilla Ice Cream Full fat and flavor
  • 3-4 Tablespoons High Quality Bourbon
  • 1/2+ Teaspoon Fresh Orange Zest

Instructions

  • For Bread Pudding- Whisk eggs until very well combined and slightly foamy. Add one large can of evaporated milk (not low fat) - whisk into eggs. Add spices, vanilla, 1 cup pure cane sugar and orange zest, then whisk to combine well. In a buttered oven safe bowl, pour this custard mix over torn Day old yeast bread. * Cover tightly and allow bread to soak up custard 4 hours or overnight. Sprinkle remainder of cane sugar on top of Pudding. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until puffed, golden and glistening with sugar crystals. Add more sugar and orange zest and a bit of melted butter if desired. 

For Easy Bourbon Creme Anglaise

  • Melt four large scoops of high quality Vanilla Ice Cream. Do not use low fat! When ice cream has melted - Add 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest (if desired) and 3-4 tablespoons of high quality Bourbon. With a small whisk blend and keep covered and chilled until ready to serve over warm bread pudding. 

Notes

Please use full fat evaporated milk and for sauce. Creme Anglaise is typically a custard sauce made with milk, eggs and sugar...which coincidentally is the same base used to make the custard base for ice cream! Hard sauce is the classic sauce generally served with Bread Pudding- most southern hard sauce calls for Bourbon. This sauce is chilled and a refreshing option to top Bread Pudding. 

Now, about that sauce- a heavier warm hard sauce (denoting the alcohol) is generally served with Bread Pudding yet seems to be more suitable in the fall and winter. This sauce is cooler and more refreshing in Spring and Summer. And… The custard base of ice cream is strikingly similar to the famous Creme Anglaise- just be sure to use full fat ice cream!

Also, you may choose to omit the Bourbon and use pure Vanilla Extract ( one of the notes in bourbon), if you do, add Rum or Almond flavoring, adjusting the quantity to taste. The ‘sauce’ is wonderful on its own as well, if high quality ice cream is used. The Orange Zest adds a crisp citrus note for Spring;  and it’s worth noting that spices played a role in the Easter Story as well. This classic bread pudding has an abundance of eggs which are also plentiful now. Eggs are symbolic in  holy celebrations. And, I omitted the butter except for buttering the baking dish, if you prefer- melt a few tablespoons and pour over the pudding right before baking. If you don’t have access to raw cane sugar, use sanding sugar, you’ll definitely want the glisten when you pull the puffed and golden Classic Bread Pudding from the oven! Here’s wishing you a beautiful meaning filled Easter!

Love y’all, Camellia * All photographs were obviously taken by me.

Limeade with Roses and Mint…

89A1EE9D-7E5B-42D7-811B-7740D727B42EWhat a day this is! The Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs and Cinco de Maya…a perfect blend of Roses, Mint and Lime if you ask me. I know, I know there have been recipes for Margarita Juleps and Mint Margaritas…but really this seems to be a time to blend something special. I’m not just celebrating an important Southern celebration- none other than the Kentucky Derby, where you can certainly find some amazing and classic Mint Juleps! I’ve even picked my favorite to win the race! Yet, Cinco de Maya is a fun holiday too- I made it a treat with chili dogs and limeade for lunch today! Though some guacamole would have hit the spot, too. Actually- I’m in the mood to celebrate because the roses here at the cottage are just showing out! Can you believe it?

 

 

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So, after I had admired the garden which smells heavenly- I picked some rose petals and fresh mint. Mint, to be honest, is a bit invasive… though run a mower over some of it and the fragrance is…. well like a bit of fresh mint! Mimi often made Mint Iced Tea, so I’m reminded of her when the mint returns each spring- C20EBCCB-9846-4884-ABD5-0235DE0DF9E5

I like to make up a batch of mint flavored sugar syrup for the spring and summer iced tea! Later, while I was stirring up the limeade, I decided to make up something special… to celebrate all of it! Here’s what I did:

99D32BD2-25D3-4D1A-9660-D363A9F8486BCamellia’s Limeade with Mint and Rose

  • Mix your favorite Limeade concentrate according to directions, reducing the water by 1/4- *I prefer reduced water limeade concentrate to making fresh limeade for this particular drink.
  • Chill the pitcher of limeade thoroughly.
  • In another pitcher, muddle together a handful of fresh mint leaves, 4-5 limes quartered, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and one teaspoon of rose water until thoroughly mashed and mint leaf and lime peel oils have thoroughly combined with juices, sugar and rose water. *Alcoholic version: add a jigger or two of your favorite Bourbon or White Rum to the muddled mix.
  • Invite your guests to ‘season’ their own glasses if this isn’t strong enough. Also it is wonderful to mix up sugar and salt and lime zest to rim the glasses! *I prefer the non- alcoholic version- but hey! some folks prefer a more celebratory drink!
  • Add Limeade to Muddled Mixture, chill very well. Top off each glass with a bit of club soda for fizz!
  • Pour into glasses with finely crushed ice. Load with more crushed ice if preferred.
  • Garnish with mint leaves, a lime wedge and of course a rose petal makes it extra special!

While Camellia’s Limeade with Mint and Roses was created for the combo of the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Maya, it’s also a perfect drink for a Garden Party or a Bride’s Sip and See!  While you’re at it- why not mince a few clean and chemical free rose petals and a 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater to your favorite shortbread! Limeade with Mint and Roses is a wonderful refreshing drink for any occasion!

We visited Churchill Downs several years ago- the racetrack and grounds are amazing;  the whole Louisville area is beautiful, with bluegrass fields, horse farms and distilleries. We were there the week after Derby and the Roses there were beautiful! While at the racetrack, tour guides showed us a special area where very special racehorses are buried. Horses have been buried since ancient times for various reasons- however, at Churchill Downs, the horses, in the traditional manner of burial- just the Head, the Heart and the Hooves are buried symbolically…

‘The head for determination- the will to win, the heart for the spirit and courage of the horse and the hooves for the speed to run the race; oh, that humans would run the race with the qualities of champion horses… Religion often dictates the proper way to bury the dead. Devotion dictates how we honor that which has died….Wherefore, seeing we also are encompassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ‘ from chapter 25, Cave Dwellers and Racetracks- from  Four Days- the Lazarus Principle by Brenda Wyatt.

I think whenever we celebrate life in all of it’s many forms, we have decided to live, really live. Do what lights you up, what makes your heart sing, what makes you run the race set before you with patience and joy!-  like Racehorses or these exuberant Roses. Find ways to celebrate life- and if you need refreshment?  Limeade with Roses and Mint  just might hit the spot!

Love y’all, Camellia

P.S. Now, ladies- I’ve lived in places where Blue Laws were in effect, and in dry counties if you get my drift… so, obey the law! If you decide to imbibe-You’ll have to drive well over two counties away to make sure no one sees you buying that liquor- so be sure to persuade a gentleman to procure it for you, just not on Sunday! And for heaven’s sake when you drink- no swigging from a bottle or can- drink from a julep cup or a fine glass; hold it above your waist, otherwise it’s trashy.

*Rosewater is available at most grocers or online- use it sparingly; a little dab on each wrist and behind each ear is nice too!

*All photographs are obviously mine. *Four Days- the Lazarus Principle was written by me- I gave myself permission to quote from it! Available on Amazon.com and other fine booksellers. *

My Derby Horse is number 13, I not a very good gambler but I liked the looks of him and had sort of a Cinco de Maya sounding name- Bravazo! I plan to lift a glass to the winner whoever it is! 99D32BD2-25D3-4D1A-9660-D363A9F8486B

The Problem of the Eggshell…

0A6F795E-CDE0-459B-9C00-026306A1C4AFIf Winter is the season of sleep, dreams and faith- then Spring is surely the season of miracles… miracles unfolding before our very eyes as the sap defies gravity and rises up to bare tree limbs- proof every year of the Resurrection! Even, as intricate nests hold delicate eggs, Spring brings the miracle of new life heralding the proof of Easter’s Promise.

‘As many as received Jesus,  to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.’ John 1:11-12

Let that sink in…our position with God is a gift– we are re-born with the position as a child of God- with the power ‘to become’ – to reach our full potential. Becoming is a process and often living in this old world is a struggle…right? Recently, our friend Sally Smith sent some adorable photographs of baby ducks and birds…

1A725CC6-F9B2-4CBA-8086-716A70D69813I started thinking of Spring as the time of new birth but also of these tiny creatures’ struggle to emerge…the Problem of the Eggshell- and I was reminded of this story…

‘As a child, I loved to go to the county fair- I particularly liked the incubators in which eggs were becoming baby chickens- it was messy. The shell would be slightly cracked or maybe you could see part of a baby chick. The shell was restricting the little bird’s progress, the egg would roll around… a little kick and the crack would become larger. I could see damp feathers and perhaps little feet. I admit it was a struggle to hold back- I knew I could help the baby chick. Why, I could break the shell open myself …! The baby chick wouldn’t have to work so hard. The chick wouldn’t have to struggle breaking the shell it had outgrown… the instructors at the show explained- ‘If you break open the shell, instead of letting the baby chick do it alone, the little legs will not be strong- the baby chick’s whole body is being strengthened by the struggle to get out of that shell’. The Problem of the Eggshell’ is a lesson in the ‘Power to become’ – the struggle strengthens us! Without it, we will not be strong. (Jesus) invites us to struggle. He gives us ‘Power to become’…

B75CBFBA-CF0E-41EB-973E-80C0B99E4209One of the most profound lessons of Springtime comes through tiny creatures who have struggled and solved the Problem of the Eggshell…and dared to become!  Jesus said- ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible…’ Mark 9:23

Have a Blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

*A big thank you to Sally Smith from Camp Creek Creations for giving us permission to use her wonderful photographs! Visit their website at www.CampCreekCreations.com

99754824-A0E6-4A0C-8346-4FCAC3F6CAEE** Peep! (photograph obviously mine, not Sally’s!) The story of the county fair is from- ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ – pages 25-27 and is available on Amazon.com

A Christmas Prayer…

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O Lord our God,

For many the holiday season brings an extra measure of darkness. Some wander quietly through catacombs recalling precious memories of loved ones now gone from this earth. For some hushed voices in dim hospital rooms bear dire diagnoses. Others are dogged with broken dreams, nagging problems and bear daily struggles…trudging through with hopelessness and despair.

For these we pray to the Light of the World, Who came to earth under cover of a dark womb; Who was born on a dark night, Whose Birth Announcement shone forth on darkened fields to shepherds guarding their flocks by night. How thankful we are that You chose to enter into the human experience of dark days.

Will You once again fling out the stars, bring hope and heavenly hosts bursting forth with songs only angels dare to sing? Will You give us clear direction on how to find the Babe wrapped not in Royal Robes, but in the warmth and security of earthbound swaddled clothes. Bring to us Wise Men bearing the richest gifts of all- that of worshipping the Truth, the Life, the Savior of Mankind.

May we become as the gentle stable creatures who offered quiet constant solace to others. Grant to us a new awareness of Your Abiding Love- which never ends, never forsakes in our darkest hours. Shine forth in all of Your Glory and bring Peace to troubled hearts.

May our own kindness and goodwill toward men continue well into the coming year ahead for troubles do not always end as the holiday season passed. In the midst of our human darkness, may angel songs shine forth. In the Name of Jesus, Who dared to come to earth as a Tiny Babe on a dark night, we make our Christmas Prayer.  Amen and Hallelujah!


With Warm Wishes for Abundant Blessings in the New Year and a very Merry Christmas!

Love y’all, Camellia

*This prayer has been edited from one written December 23, 2104; Wreath signifying His Evergreen Fragrant Love, was photographed at Camellia’s Cottage.

Maple Stars…


 

B9B787AF-EE4D-4266-A8C1-42B991B53C35For God so loved the heavenly Stars- He gave them to the Maple Tree.

Her leaves are Grace Notes in the Spring and Starry shade in Summer.

Then on a crisp and chilly morn against an Autumn sky-

The Maple tree transforms – a flaming Scarlet Sight.

Soon crowned with Crimson Stars she’ll breathe…

 A grateful sigh for Celestial Beams,

A Shepherds Field. One Starry Night-

 When Angels sing- A Herald’s song-

Of Winter’s Babe- The Newborn King!


Love y’all, Camellia

*This beautiful and inspiring Maple Tree was photographed  by my dear friend, Sandra. Used with permission.

Finding Peaceful Sanctuary…

‘Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace by all means. The Lord be with you all.’ Second Thessalonians 3:16

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In this time of national tragedy in Las Vegas, the ongoing damage from flood waters in the U.S.Virgin Islands, and our beautiful island of Puerto Rico, our wonderful states of Texas and Florida as they continue to recover; there are also natural disasters and unrest around the world. When we observe these tragedies, it is human nature to feel a heightened sense of confusion and helplessness. It is important to find peaceful sanctuary in your faith, the verse from II Thessalonians has been a comforting companion for me, so often. I hope you will share your affirmations with me during these difficult days.

I also find peaceful sanctuary in nature, the roses have been uplifting and glorious. I find peaceful sanctuary in beautiful communal spaces, like St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans where we visited last week.

Acts of kindness no matter how small go a long way. When we extend understanding to one another, light a candle or two, share a meal, find language to calm and soothe others- we can stave off feelings of personal helplessness.

Here in this small public space we call Camellia’s Cottage -we believe in offering peaceful sanctuary whenever we can- a place of peace from the world’s upheaval.

  • We believe in promoting goodwill
  • We believe in community
  • We believe in the power of comfort food
  • We believe in lifting spirits whether by the old wise ways or gentle wit and
  • We believe in the strength of human kindness and the power of genuine prayer.

I hope you agree, it is important to find and offer peaceful sanctuary by all means humanly possible wherever you are.

Love y’all, Camellia

  • verse from KJV of the Bible
  • *photograph obviously taken by me in St. Louis Cathedral, on Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana

In the Garden…

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‘I come to the Garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the Voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.’IMG_3525

 

‘He speaks and the sound of His Voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing; and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing.’IMG_3527

‘And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other… has ever…known.’ IMG_3528

This wonderful hymn was written by C. Austin Miles, at the request of Dr. Adam Geibil in 1912. It was commissioned to be a tender sympathetic song which would ‘ bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary and downy pillows to dying beds’.

Even though it was written over one hundred years ago- this Great Hymn of the Faith- called, ‘In the Garden’ – remains a restful comfort and source of sweet communion in the stillness of a quiet garden. I know I felt His Presence in the garden here at Camellia’s Cottage, as I headed out to do a bit of early fall cleanup one morning. IMG_3512

The simple beauty of a Garden Bench, the sweet birdsong and the morning stillness was of a great comfort…‘when the dew was still on the roses…’

Have a Blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

Stormy Weather…

IMG_3212‘…when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us go to the other side of the sea.’ And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, just as He was, in the boat- and other boats were with Him. And a furious storm of wind ( of hurricane proportions) arose, the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled. But He was in the stern of the boat asleep on a leather cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Master, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Hush now! Be still!’ and the wind ceased, (that is, sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was immediately a great calm- a perfect peacefulness…’ Mark 4:35-41 KJV Amplified VersionIMG_3209

Please notice first- ‘other boats were with them’. When a storm comes- you will not be alone. Others are affected by the same storm; others will suffer and others injured by strong winds- and there are others who will be blessed by what He does during that storm – even though they are not ‘in the same boat’ with Jesus; the storms we endure affect others, right? …

The part of the Amplified passage which I love best- is how the ‘rebuked’ storm reacted to Jesus. ‘And the wind ceased- sank to rest, as if exhausted by its beating and there was a great calm- a perfect peacefulness’.

If you have ever been through a hurricane or a tornado or any ‘Act of God’ afterwards there is a great calm; an almost perfect peacefulness. As the damage is assessed… The weather may be peaceful, yet the path of destruction is astounding…IMG_3223

The cleanup work is ahead; the wreckage yields it’s own suffering. Keep in mind that though the Galilean storm stopped raging- the disciples had to bale the water out of the boat. Storms have aftermaths.  Excerpt from ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’

As Hurricane Irma continues her destructive path, a devastating earthquake has damaged an area outside of Mexico City and cleanup efforts continue from Hurricane Harvey- we would remember those affected by these Acts of God- situations beyond human control, as the insurance folks call them- we know these are Natural Disasters of Epic Proportions. It is always appropriate to remember that God does care about us all.  May we each do what we can to ease the suffering aftermath these folks now face, here and around the globe.

Love y’all, Camellia

* These beautiful photographs were taken by Jeremy Miniard. Find more of his wonderful work at jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com  Four Days- the Lazarus Principle written by Brenda Wyatt can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and other fine booksellers. More information about this book may be found on our ‘About Us’ page.

Gratitude…

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Have you ever gotten a line or two of a song in your head and just couldn’t stop thinking about it? That happens to me occasionally…for instance recently, I kept thinking about this line…‘I hope Life treats you kind..’ from Dolly Parton’s famous song, ‘I Will Always Love You’. Dolly wrote the song when she left the Porter Waggoner Show. Later, Whitney Houston elevated this same song to unbelievable heights and popularity. Country and Pop music fans loved that song! It’s a song about leaving, heartbreak, loss, bittersweet memories and to some extent betrayal.  A sad song really.IMG_0155

Often, when a line from a song or a portion of Scripture stops me in my tracks… I want to sit with it a while…contemplate it. With Dolly’s Song… I let the words run around in my head, moving on to that line about ‘Bittersweet memories…’ Ultimately, in the privacy of my own home- I broke out singin’ it- loud….no, I did not sound like Dolly or Whitney- more like a bad version of Willie Nelson, in case you’re wondering. Then, there was a Scripture, I was reading a devotional recently and a portion of a verse just hopped off the page and stopped me in my tracks-I wanted to sit with it awhile- here it is:

 ‘…the same night in which He was betrayed, He took bread; and when He gave thanks….’  First Corinthians 13:23-24.

 Jesus was betrayed…He shared a meal, He gave thanks. Think about it. Betrayal and Gratitude are puzzle pieces that rarely seem to fit. I wondered, what if it said-

  • ‘And after she lost her job…she gave thanks’  or
  • ‘And after he was put on hospice, he gave thanks…’ or
  • ‘After she was abandoned, she gave thanks…’
  • ‘After his father had beaten him, he gave thanks…’

Think of any emotional damage that causes human suffering. Sit with loss, betrayal, abandonment, physical illness, abuse and heartache for a while. Think of them as Gunshots to the Soul. Now, insert those grave wounds into that same Scripture… Does hosting a meal and giving thanks follow heartache? It hardly seems possible. And yet…there is a deep truth in there. Suffering isn’t convenient- a gap opens up, right in the midst of Living. The Betrayal occurred right in the middle of the Last Supper that Jesus would have with his closest friends;  He continued living, He turned to what remained of His life; gave thanks and resumed the meal. I must be honest here, I am not a big fan of telling folks to count their blessings when they are in the midst of suffering– it seems to add an unnecessary burden onto an already wounded spirit. However, for myself…I have found when I am able to allow light to come into my suffering- turn to what remains- the good that life still offers- it takes the form of gratitude and the healing begins…IMG_0152

Life is hard; it never permanently gets easier. Bad things still happen to good people. Promises are broken and some dreams die.  You cannot go back and make Life different. If you look at the photograph, you will see Crepe Myrtles blooming at the back of our yard. There is a gap between the trees- where a clump of beloved dogwoods used to be- they died this year and were cut down.  I mourned the loss- this area is a Memory Garden. The loss of the dogwoods seemed to be a metaphor for what has already been a year of difficulties-among them, the loss of two sweet friends and my mother. As if to drive the heartache/ gratitude connection home, the crepe myrtles are blooming their heads off! Meanwhile I’ve been staring at the Gap- the Loss. These trees have never bloomed so profusely before this year, maybe the dogwoods were blocking our view! IMG_0156

I took photographs of the heavy blooms hanging down close enough to be at eye level- midst the most incredible blue sky with puffy white clouds- the fragrance was faint and lovely. I had stared so long and so hard at what I had lost, feeling the dogwoods had betrayed the Memory Garden… having bittersweet memories… I realized I was missing the near and present loveliness!  ‘Life was treating me kind…’ Thank you, Dolly. The day after the photographs were taken, to further emphasize the point of the Scripture from First Corinthians which I had been contemplating for days…one of the big crepe myrtle branches heavy with blooms broke.  ‘And the same night He was betrayed, He took bread, and after He had given thanks, He broke the bread…’ Wouldn’t you know? In the sun-filled blue skied day, the truth of Jesus’ actions broke through my mind…instead of dwelling on one more bad thing-I decided to cut the blooms from the broken branch and make something of it! I’m so thankful I did! IMG_3105

Just look at the planter shaped like a woman’s head! She’s surely grateful  for the glorious flower-dy hat she’s wearing! Turns out the broken branch isn’t a mortal wound… Life does go on, bright blue skies mingle among the cloudy days- enjoy what you can and when you think of it? Give thanks to God… He will always love you! Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

p.s. Be honest now, you’re humming Dolly Parton’s tune aren’t you?

Thorns- a prayer…

IMG_2583Thorns, in Scripture symbolize troubles. Troublesome people, troublesome habits and troubled people.

  • And, being cast out of the lush Garden of Eden- God told them..’ Thorns and thistles shall the earth bring forth…’ Gen. 3: 18-19
  • ‘Other seed fell in the midst of thorns and the thorns grew up alongside and choked the good plant…The seed that fell among the thorns, these are the ones who- as they go their way are choked and suffocated with the anxieties, worries, cares and responsibilities of this life…’ Luke 8:7,14
  • ‘And you, son of man, be not afraid of their words; though briers and thorns are all around you…be not afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks…’ Ezekiel 2:6-7
  • Three times the Apostle Paul asked for his Thorn in the Flesh to be removed, ‘a thorn… a messenger of evil, sent to rack, buffet and harass me’ ..ultimately the thorn remained. Paul changed his mind: ‘I am quite happy about the thorn, and about the insults and hardships, persecutions and difficulties; for when I am weak, then He is strong…the less I have, the more I depend on Him’ 2 Cor. 12:10.
  • A blind and heartbroken George Mattheson wrote: ‘My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorns, I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my Roses, but not once for my thorns…Teach me the value of my Thorn.’
  • ‘…and weaving together a Crown of Thorns, they began to mock him, struck His Head and spat on Him, making sport of Him…’ Mark 15:18-19

IMG_2591Lord Jesus, as daffodil trumpets herald the beginning of Spring and the Dogwood dares to bear blood tinged white blossoms centered with a Crown of Thorns- we know that it not right for so many of us to be wracked with mental agony, fearful of the future and plagued with anxious fretful minds. Too often we are tired, worried with the strains of life, burdened with responsibilities, splintered by hurtful words, choked out and suffocated by prickly concerns in lives too full and complicated. Thorns…stunt our growth, halt our progress and reduce our growth and productivity. So we pray with heavy hearts, bringing burdens we have tried to shoulder on our own- yet even as we lay them before You, plead for relief, recount the burdens once again…something strange inside of us begins to gather our troubles back up again-

  • re-packaged belongings,
  • re-purposed fears,
  • thick envelopes of worry,
  • bags of the same old anxieties

Believing our concerns are not worthy of Your Glorious attention or- worse without a mustard seed of Faith or the Patience to wait, we wonder if we ever really believed Your Divine Power would be exerted on our behalf.  Why is it Lord, we are caught in thickets of calendars crammed too full, bristling while we wait in a line, harassed in heavy traffic, suffocating from social obligations, drowning in debt or choked out expecting too much out of life? We are worn out trying to organize what we already have. Will we ever be free of the need for more when there’s no time to take care of the gifts You have already given?

We live in a briar patch of stress and strain, fretting foolishly, harboring broken promises, words spoken in haste, small slights or outright rejection- jeers of foolish beings who feel superior only when they’ve put others down; these are Thorns in our flesh, Splinters in our hearts-Dry parched lips from sweat filled nightmares- we’ve all felt them. How can we ever think our Cross-Slain Savior doesn’t know how it feels? Yet, our Divine Friend, You do, if Anyone ever has known, You know. IMG_2589

As the earth begins to thaw… as Easter draws near, we see the everlasting sign- the Crown of Thorns within Dogwood blooms. Let every sense available bring forth Golgotha- the odor of sweat mingled with fresh Blood, bitter gall, vinegar and dried spit, the agony of humiliation; loud boisterous gaming for a White Robe, heinous laughter and coarse jeers. The sky darkens, You know- if anyone knows, You know deserted loneliness when Heaven’s Angels turn their backs on You; You know rejection-even Your own Father has forsaken You; Yes You know. Let us remember anew, throughout all Eternity…You know exactly what humanity feels. Of all of the suffering wounds, perhaps the most worrisome encircles Your Head- A Crown of Thorns…

  • ‘John, take care of My Mother’
  • One thief accuses, ‘You saved others, You can’t save us!’
  • Another pleads- ‘I’m dying, Lord…don’t forget me..’

Even in the Sacrificial Dying- the constant strain, the needs of others were piercing Your Mind…In every way, You understand the human dilemma. We ask You then, to teach us how to live in the thicket of thorns, how to grow in expectant joy- right in the midst of stress and strain; and as we exist in this troubling human condition, help us to find ways to be gentle, affectionate toward one another and always thankful for our thorns. Give us strength to explore the depths of pain and find blessings there. Teach us the value of our thorns. Allow us not to be strangled by circumstances and suffocated by life. Provide ways, in quiet stillness, to find our peace in Thee. Fill us with the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of our chaotic thorny paths fraught with worrisome distractions. Help us to do our part to simplify our lives. Teach us the secret of serene living: Each day has potential to bring so much joy among life’s aggravations. May we know without question that You are an understanding Savior, in Whom we have:

  • unfailing Mercy,
  •  Divine Strength,
  • abundant Grace,
  • eternal Forgiveness-
  • Divine Love
  • perfect Peace

All of these gifts help us to live as kind, grateful Children of God. May our lives resemble the fleeting beauty of the Dogwood Blossom and the fresh renewal of Springtime. Take us in Your Loving Arms-

  • apply Your Healing Balm to every piercing, every scrape and every scar-
  • smooth out the life lined worry-wrinkles,
  • relieve our feverish anxieties,
  • lift our burdened hearts,
  •  heal our fear-filled, doubt-ridden minds,
  •  place Your cool Hand of Mercy on our wounded souls and
  •  be refreshed as we find our Rest in Thee.

To the One Crowned with Thorns on Calvary’s Cruel Cross, the One Who has overcome Tribulation and is now and forever The Living Water and Earth’s Divine Oasis. Amen. IMG_2591


Blessings from our briar patch to yours…Love y’all, Camellia

*photographs of waning Dogwood Blossoms are obviously mine.