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December 31, 2007

FAREWELL 2007!

Dear Readers:
WELCOME! May I be the first to wish you Happy New Year! Susie Larson is spending time with her family today, but will return tomorrow! I know you will miss her inspiring words, but I'm honored and delighted to be with you today! if this is your first visit make sure you come back tomorrow for Susie Larson, 'BLOGGER EXTRAORDINNAIRE!!! Be sure to scroll down for end of the year inspiration, suggestions for keeping New Year's Resolutions and yummy recipes for a traditioal New Year's Day Dinner!


What I love most about the New Year is that we have a fresh new start . . . . a clean slate. A chance to change our ways, overcome bad habits, and start anew at page one!
"Behold! Old things are passed away." Revelation 21:5
"Therefore, if any man in Christ, he is a new creature." II Corinthians 5: 17

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Susan Wales
Guest Blogger
Author of THE CHASE, THE REPLACEMENT and THE CANDIDATE (BAKER/FLEMING REVELL PUBLISHERS, A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN I & II with Ann Platz (Multnomah)
A CHRISTMAS KEEPSAKE AND KEEPSAKE FOR A MOTHER'S HEART with Alice Gray, Thomas Nelson, Publisher
COMING SOON IN 2008 - GRANDMOTHER  . . . ANOTHER NAME FOR LOVE! Howard/Simon Schuster Publishers
And other books available at amazon.com




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My Favorite Diet to start the New YearNew Year Resolutions - Diet

This is a specially formulated diet designed to help WOMEN cope with the stress that builds during the day. I have found that this really works!!

BREAKFAST
* 1 Grapefruit
* 1 slice whole-wheat toast
* 1 cup skim milk

LUNCH
* 1 small portion lean, steamed chicken with a cup of spinach
* 1 cup herbal tea
* 1/2 box Twinkies

AFTERNOON TEA
* The rest of the Twinkies in the box
* 1/2 gallon of ice cream with chocolate topping

DINNER
* 4 bottles of wine (red or white)
* 2 loaves garlic bread
* 1 extra large Dominos pizza
* 3 Snickers bars

LATE NIGHT SNACK
* 1 whole cheesecake and a pint of Ben and Jerry's New York Superfudge crunch (eaten directly from the freezer)

FINALLY REMEMBER:

  • "Stressed" spelled backwards is desserts"
My kind of diet, ladies! Isn't the new year a time of introspection for us all? I'll start this diet today, how about you? I spoke with my friend Betty today,  who said she could hardly wait for 2007 to come to an end. "This has been a terrible year! I need a fresh new start in 2008!" She groaned. Are you glad too glad 2007 is coming to a close? Or was it such a great year that you are wishing it never end?

The words of Charles Dickens best describe my year . . . 'it was the best of times and the worst of times!' I'm guessing these words probably describe your year too! Jesus says, "the rain will come into our lives."

The Best of Times - My granddaughter Hailey lost her first tooth and learned to read. In good health, my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and their 80th and 90th birthdays, as well! After seven years in development, my husband Ken's film, AMAZING GRACE, came to the big screen. If you haven't seen it, you must! It will inspire you to change the world. We often say, "but I'm just one person. I can't make a difference in the world, but Amazing Grace, the true story of William Wilberforce, will show you that God will bring all the people you need to do the task he has called you to do . . . his wonders to perform! While at the London premier of Ken's movie, I enjoyed a reunion with my maternal grandfather's family. It was the first time in 200 years the American branch was reunited with the family members who stayed behind in England. My great-great grandfather left England to pursue religious freedom. Not until I visited the cousins did I realize the magnitude of the sacrifices my great-great grandfather made to worship in the way he had chosen. Was I ever surprised to learn he left a castle behind? I was profoundly touched by his sacrifice.

The Worst of Times - I lost two friends to unexpected deaths this year. I lost another friend over a misunderstanding. After several attempts at reconciliation and lots of prayer, I had to walk away from the friendship. It hurt. It was painful. It's still difficult to talk about. Another close friend is fighting a heroic battle with cancer. I can't bear to lose her. I long to nail down the pages on the 2007 calendar for I know her days are numbered in 2008 - - - without a miracle. But the pages of the calendar keep on turning and the clock keeps ticking.Life goes on with all its twists and turns carrying us on the journey even when we are unwilling to go. As Christians there is a place of quiet rest for us . . . just as the hymn says . . . near to the heart of God.

As we reflect on the new year we are reminded of the second chances God gives us day after day, year after year. As you read these words, is your life a tangled mess? Maybe you have a prodigal child or perhaps you've received a frightening medical diagnosis. Or did your husband walk out on you or your boyfriend broke up with you? Is a loved one dying? Maybe your bank account is empty and you're not sure how you'll pay your bills? Well, I am here to tell you there is hope in Jesus Christ! Not only does he have the answers but he has the solution to whatever problem you are facing. Maybe not the one you want, but whatever has befallen you he has promised to never leave us! 'Seek and you will find.' Matthew 7:7

And if you don't know him, what better way to begin the New Year  . . . 2008 than asking Jesus into your heart. Confess your sins and ask forgiveness. Start 2008 with a clean slate!

A relationship with Jesus won't magically make all your problems disappear. But for now,  "his grace is sufficient for our problems." No matter what valley you walk through, he promises to be there with you. And then there is a day that is coming where they will be no more valley's or pain or suffering.I can think of no Scripture more appropriate for the New Year than to meditate on Revelation 21:21-5


He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold I make all things new." ---Revelation 21:5

Amen!

Now it wouldn't  be the New Year without resolutions. Below are the 10 most popular resolutions in no particular order. I have also offered a few suggestions on how to keep those resolutions.

TOP 10 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS!

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends

HOW?
SCHEDULE A DATE
Spouses - Date night once per week.
Friends - Meet for dinner once per month.
Children - Game night, outing or family night once per week.
Parents - Plan a dinner once or twice or month.
Long Distance Family and Friends - Schedule a phone call or get a camera for your computer and visit in Cyperspace. I have a friend who schedules a call with her mother and they both have a cup of tea while chatting with one another across the miles.

2. Get physically fit.

HOW?
Walk - Form a walking group with other busy moms. Meet and walk for and hour. You can talk while you walk.
Prayer Walk - Combine your prayer time with walking.
If your budget allows, buy a treadmill and exercise any time of day or night when you find the time!
Join a gym
Find an exercise buddy.
Romance & Fitness - You and your lover can exercise together. Take a walk. Do stretches together or go to the gym together.
If your budget allows, hire a personal trainer.

3. Lose Weight!

HOW?
Choose from an array of diets and just do it.
Get a dieting buddy.
Make a bet with a buddy or spouse. Makes the stakes high.Tickets to sporting events, concerts, a day at the spa, a trip or smaller size clothes are good choices. The winner who loses the most pounds gets the prize!
See a doctor before going on your diet.
If your budget allows, join a weight loss center.
Cut your portions in half.
Cut sugar out of your diet.

4. Quit Smoking

HOW?
You gotta do it!
Nicotine gum
Psychologist
Cut down!
Pray!
Save cigarette money and buy yourself a reward.
Find a support group.

5. GET CLOSER TO GOD

HOW?
Read the Bible
Join a Bible study
Go to church
Read books
Pray
Join a support group or Sunday School class
Spend time with Christian friends

6. Quit Drinking

HOW
Go to AA if you have a problem!
If you don't have a problem and just want to quit, cut down gradually. Allow yourself one beer or drink per day and then cut down to 2-3 times a week.
Some friends only drink on the weekends.
Get professional help.
if you've really got a problem, go into a treatment center.

7. Get Out of Debt

Formulate a plan to pay off credit cards.
Apply for lower interest credit cards.
Get a loan to consolidate your debts - home equity loans are an option for this.
Negotiate with creditors.
Tithe 10% of your income.
Save 10% of your income.
If all else fails, make an appointment to see a credit counselor!

8. Learn Something New

HOW?
Take a new job.
Finish up your college degree
Learn a new language
Take art, singing, or cooking lessons
Learn to play tennis, golf or another sport - this will help with fitness and weight too!

9. Help Others

HOW?
Find Volunteer opportunities in your area.
Find a family in your neighborhood who needs help.
Do something special for a needy or hurting child.
Donate clothes and household items to charities.
Donate a portion of your income to charity.

10. Get Organized

HOW?
Organize! Everyone would like to be better organized.
Find organizational tips online.
Read books on organization. Check them out of library or purchase books.
Hire a professional organizer.
Stop procastinating!

RECIPES FOR A TRADITIONAL NEW YEAR'S DAY DINNER

In the South if you want to be healthy, wealthy, and wise you must eat the following on New Year's Day:

Scroll down for recipes:

GREENS - Symbolizes green bills and health. If you don't eat your greens you won't make much money in 2008 so you'd better believe I'm going to eat greens! You will also have good health. My family's favorite greens are collards. The hardest part of cooking them is cleaning them. Was I ever happy to find a bag of collards, washed, cleaned and packaged like the bags of lettuce in the supermarket a few years ago! It saves at least an hour of preparation!

BLACK-EYED PEAS - Symbolizes wisdom. Eat plenty of peas if you want plenty of brain power!

PORK - A symbol of prosperity. Those who could afford hogs to slaughter for food, were considered prosperous. Eat pork if you want to be prosperous in 2008!

CORNBREAD -  Prosperity! 

SUSAN'S PORK TENDERLOIN


INGREDIENTS:
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
dash ground cloves
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 - 16 ounce cans whole cranberries
12 ounce can mandarin oranges with syrup
1/2 cup sugar
juice and zest from 1 orange

Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly oil a roasting pan.

Mince garlic and blend with spices, herbs, salt and pepper; mix with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

Rub spice mixture over the pork tenderloins. Roast until pork registers about 155° on a meat thermometer.

While pork is roasting, combine the cranberries, mandarin orange slices and syrup, sugar, orange juice and zest in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until cranberry mixture has thickened.

Cover pork tenderloins with 1/2 of the cranberry mixture and roast meat 10 additional minutes.  Remove pork from oven and let cool for five minutes before slicing. While pork cools, heat remaining cranberry mixture to accompany sliced pork. Place sliced pork on a platter and garnish with sprigs of rosemary.

Serves 4-6

FAMILY RECIPE FORCOLLARD GREENS

4 Bags Collard greens
2 ham hocks
Water
Salt and pepper to taste

CONDIMENTS TO SERVE WITH COLLARDS
Pepper Sauce
Tomato Chow Chow
Vinegar
Onion Relish

Wash greens thoroughly.

Place ham hocks in an extra-large pot with enough water to completely cover them. Add salt and cook ham hocks at least 30 minutes before adding collards greens. Add collards greens. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and test for tenderness by piercing with a fork. Continue to cook until greens are tender.

Remove from heat and drain in a colander, reserving the juice (potlikker). Chop collards a knife. Add some of the potlikker if the greens are too dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature with choice of condiment.
 

The secret to Southern Cornbread is in the cast iron skillet. If you don't have one, a baking pan or dish will suffice, but the crust won't be as crispy!

Southern Cornbread

  • 2 cups yellow self-rising cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil or bacon grease
  • 1 ½ cup milk or buttermilk
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place 3 Tablespoons butter or margarine in the pan and place in the oven to melt.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the cooking oil and milk, mixing well.

Measure cornmeal and add to the mixing bowl and stir until cornmeal lumps are mixed into batter. Don't stir too much, or the bread will be tough.

Once the butter is melted, take the pan out of the oven and swirl the pan until it covers surface evenly.

Spoon the Southern Cornbread batter into the pan or baking dish. Some of the butter will come up over the edges and make a ring.

Slide the pan back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

I use the 10-inch cast iron skillet for this recipe, but if you're using a bigger skillet, you'll want to cook for a shorter time as the bread is not as thick.

This recipe is also good for muffins or for bread-sticks.

OPTIONAL: Add diced onions to the batter for tastier cornbread.

FOR MEXICAN cornbread, add an 6-8 oz. can of corn and  a cup of grated cheese.

Bon Appetit!

May God bless you abundantly in 2008!

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Comments

Enjoyed your post! 2007 was the craziest year at our house. It was tough, really tough but I can't think of a time when I've grown closer to my dh or God. That said, I am ready to start a new year!

I also wanted to say how much I LOVED Amazing Grace! The story of William Wilberforce is so powerful and the movie about him was absolutely inspiring. Please thank your husband. My husband and I were so blessed by this movie.

Hi Andi!

Great to hear from you! I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog. Isn't it wonderful that we worship a Heavenly Father that makes all things new! A God of second changes, third, fourth, fifth . . . unlimited chances.

I really love to cook adn I'm so excited you're going to try to the recipes so please let me know how you liked them.

Blessings!

Susan Wales

Hi Susan,

Thanks for the great blogging! I appreciate your insights and reminder that we have a chance for "All things new" daily with our merciful Father! I love to cook and will try a few of your recipes this weekend!

Blessings,
Andie

Dear Susie,

Thank you for sharing your blog with me. I enjoyed it so much and connecting with other great women. Susie, you are a bright and glowing light for the kingdom. Thank you for this wonderful blog and especially the opportunity to share it for a day! Blessings to your and your family in the New Year! Susan Wales

Susan,

Thanks for being my guest this week!

You blessed our socks off!

You are such a ray of sunshine to a world in need.

Thanks again, my friend!

Hello Friends! I'm so sorry I was unable to respond yesterday. I couldn't get online at my parents. We discovered the router was unplugged. My six year old granddaughter loves to hide and she had pulled out the plug to hide unde a table . . a no no. She's not supposed to touch plugs! Uh oh. We didn't discover it until today! She's baking cookies with my mother and staying out of trouble this morning. She and my daughter are heading back to New Orleans today and taking a huge chunk of my heart with them. It's been wonderful to have four generations in the same house!

Oh, I've got some wonderful news too. My sister, who has been single for the past 22 years, met someone in November! For all you folks who know me from my "Match Made in Heaven" books, I'm hoping for another prayer answered soon! Praying for mates for singles is a big part of my ministry. And I also got another call over the holidays that a fellow writer, LeAnn Weiss from the "HUGS" books, got a ring for Christmas! Both these ladies were on my 10 most wanted lists so if any of you singles and single moms want me to pray for you to meet your 'match made in heaven' please email me at susan.wales@verizon.net. My sister didn't want to be on my prayer list, but I put her there anyway. She was so hurt from her divorce she said she'd stay single forever. Ha! She's like a teenager with this new beau My list has dwindled to almost 0 . . . I have one gal left on my prayer list. If it is your new year goal to meet someone . . . email me!

Not everyone wants to get married though. When I recently spoke to some women it was a mix of singles and married ladies and when I opened I said "I'm sure there are many you here who came today to hear me speak because you would like to find a husband so just turn to the married lady sitting next to you, and I'm sure she will be happy to give you her husband! Just teasing, of course, but I was speaking on finding your match made in heaven and living in a marriage in heaven not hell. There were sure were a lot of nods and laughs when I said that. It reminded me of what Ambassador Andrew Young said about his marriage to his beloved wife Bunny, who died of cancer after a long marriage . . . 'every day a challenge, every day a blessing!' Well maybe not every day but marriage can be as challenging as being single. There are some days my husband is for sale for a few million dollars, but I'd change my mind real quick if a buyer showed up!

Blessings and Happy New Year to all! Susan Wales

Dear Linda! We did meet at a writer's conference and when I read your name I immediatley saw your face. A name like Apple (My husband loves apple everything . . . pies, cakes, and I even do another pork tenderloin with apples and prunes. Doesn't sound good but it's wonderful. Your name is hard to forget and so are you! How is your writing going? Yes, I'm a misplaced Southerner and this is the time of year we go to my home. It's wonderful to be at home. My mother is 80 and my father is 90, and I feel so blessed to still have them and insuch good health. We even sleep in my childhood bed! How is your writing going? I hope you have a beatuiful 2008 . . the best yet! Blessings! Susan Wales

Happy New Year Sheri! I think our reflections always surprise us when we see so many positives in our lives. I alway have a time of reflection helps me make changes in my life for the next year or at least make an attempt to make some changes. I never dwell on the past though. I'm reminded of the Scripture, 'brush the dust off your feet and go on,' even though it was used in a different context. It's also great to review the positives too. I pray 2008 will be the best year yet for us all. Thanks for posting and you will love the pork tenderloin! My family loves it. If you don't have oranges you can substitute a jar of orange marmelade. Blessings! Susan Wales

Happy New Year Chris! Thank you so much for your comments. You have made my husband's weekend. He worked so hard to bring that movie to the screen, and he especially loves to hear that a teenager likes the movie! He had hoped more young people would see it to inspire them to change the world!You really ought to try my diet . . .ha! I can remember when someone sent it to me and I thought it was for real at first and I was writing it all down until I got to the twinkies! Ha! Then I realized it was a big joke. Oh, I wish I knew the perfect diet. I did read that Weight Watchers is offering one free week of their diet on line so I may try that, but my sister warned me that it's difficult to keep up with every day and us busy gals might get frustrated. I hope this will be the best year yet for you! Thanks again for your reponse! Blessings! Susan Wales

Thanks, Susan, for your honest and encouraging post! I think I'll leave the twinkie diet for someone else to try. Dominos pizza and snickers...can't imagine the combination on my palette, but I like popcorn and M&M's at the theater, so maybe it isn't such a stretch. By the way, "Amazing Grace" was one of my teenage son's favorite movies of the year. Cool!

A Happy, healthy, fruitful New Year to you all,
Chris

Thanks for your blog. After reading it I realized I hadn't done too much reflecting yet.But your words helped me to see that 2007 is ending in a much better place than it started out at. I wait with expectation to all the Lord will do in 2008!
Thanks for the recipes...I will be trying that pork tenderloin soon!
Sheri Gryte

You sound like a Southern Gal! :) As a matter of fact I seem to remember that you are. We met at a writer's conference and I think you mentioned you were a misplaced southerner in California?

Anyway, I've slept since then and could have it all wrong. Either way, you are right on!

Enjoyed your post!

Linda Apple

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