Over the Cliff: A final thought from Ingrid

Nov 30th 2014
Posted by Susan

snowmobile

 

We sit poised on the top of a cliff, a near drop off before us, gullying down to a rushing river.  In the middle of the river, a bridge of snow and ice hints at our destination.  My husband guns the snowmobile engine.  “Ready?”  

Ready?  What? — for a face plant into a tree, maybe reconstructive surgery?  To feel my stomach ripped from my body as we plummet down the mountain?  To let every mitochondria scream and unleash the snow from the low-hanging evergreens?  

Let’s do it!  

We live on five acres of woods in northern Minnesota that butts up to a national forest area.  Hence, our backyard is about a hundred thousand acres.  Aside from harboring deer, lynx, fox, cougar and bear, it also makes excellent snowmobile terrain.  And this year, Mrs. Claus gave her Santa a snowmobile for two.  

I love snowmobiling.  Flying over the snow, catching air over drifts.  I love to drive, to be at the helm of the beast as I weave around trees and over hill and dale, my husband sitting behind me.  I also love riding behind my husband as he drives, feeling those powerful arms as he’s muscling the snowmobile into the wilds.  We follow unknown trails, driven by a Magellan spirit, hoping that we have enough gas to get us back to civilization.  I love hanging on, simply trusting him as we drive deeper into the forest, knowing that wherever he’s taking me, he’s going first.  

But there are times, when I see where he’s taking me, and I just have to bury my head in his back.  Like straight down a cliff.  

However, my heart cheers, despite its terror as we gun it down the hill, over the river, up the opposite side.  And, if we hadn’t let ourselves go, we would have never discovered the beauty of a winter river, a hidden jewel buried deep in the forest.  Nor the exhilaration of facing the challenge together.   

Further on, we find an enchanted forest of towering white pine.  Catch a view of Lake Superior, discover an old cabin in the woods.   

It occurs to me that snowmobiling is much like my spiritual life.  Occasionally, I drive, and it’s me setting our course, weaving through the trees, getting us hopelessly lost.  But when God takes the 


Evergreen coverThanks for spending the month with me!  If you’d like to read more about my family and our life running a resort on the North Shore of MN, read any of Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family series – and check our Winter Novella: Evergreen!  “wheel”, and I hang on, I see the scenery, and I trust Him for the speed and destination.  I trust him to keep me safe.  I trust him to bring me home, where there is an eternal supply of hot chocolate.

Have a blessed Holiday season!

Ingrid Christiansen

 

Jer: 29:11:  For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, say the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.    

Our children are destined to leave us from the moment they’re born…

Nov 29th 2014
Posted by Susan

Thank you to Jo Jo Byrd Sutiss for this beautiful pin!

 And here’s one of my favorite reviews of Evergreen – thank you Britt!

Parenting pin 2

Thank you for stopping by! 

XO!

Ingrid Christiansen

Thursday Tune-up: Surviving Christmas Dinner

Nov 27th 2014
Posted by Susan

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Ingrid’s Insights to Christmas Dinner

I’m all about Simplifying and Cherishing this holiday season and over the past month, I’ve taken over Susan May Warren’s blog. I’m nearly to the end of my month, and I thought I’d take on the Sacred Cow this week. . .or rather the Sacred Turkey.

Let’s talk: Christmas dinner

Turkey. Stuffing. Homemade rolls.  Potatoes. Gravy. Cheesy broccoli.  Wild Rice casserole. PIE, (and lots of it!)

And this on top of the Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Morning Brunch.

And who prepares it all?

Mom.

Not that help isn’t offered.  Often Dad will peel potatoes.  Daughters will make PIE, sons will stir gravy.

But chaos ensues with so many hands in the kitchen, even with Christmas music and laughter.  Behold – burned dinner rolls!

This year, we sat down as a family and one of my sons said…Mom, let’s break free of the expectations.  For Christmas dinner let’s have….soup.

Soup? 

Silence descended around the room. 

Then, smiles.  “What kind of soup?”

“We’ll get Susie May’s Borscht Recipe from Russia.  Make it the weekend before and freeze it (it’s really good after it’s sit for a day).  Heat it up on Christmas day.  No stress, no fuss, no burned rolls.” 

I liked it.  No more Christmas Day stress.

It doesn’t have to resemble a turkey to be a Christmas dinner. Think about it.  It could be, well….a casserole.  Pancakes!  Even, leftovers.

Too often we hold on to traditions because, well, they’re traditions. But what if we looked deeper, figured out why we loved the tradition and simplified.  We’ll still eat dinner together.  We’ll just choose an easier menu item.

And maybe there’ll be less stress, more dancing in the kitchen.

Soup. Family. Festivities simplified. Traditions Savored.

How could you simplify the stress of your Christmas Dinner this year? 

 

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid

Tuesday’s Tasty Treat: Owen and Amelia’s Epic Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Nov 25th 2014
Posted by Susan

Simplify and Savor Cookies  

From Ingrid’s Cookbook   

It’s our youngest two children who seem to be our most headstrong and independent.  Owen started walking (away) at the age of 9 months. Amelia was our dreamer, building forts in the yard, as of on exotic adventures.  And, being our most independent, they were also the two who squabbled the most.

Especially when armed with cut-out Sugar Cookies.  They loved to create snowmen, decorate them, then wage battle.  

As our children grew, we decided instead of allowing them to destroy the cookies with their own private battle, we’d allow each child to cut out their own unique shape, decorate it, then wage a Christmas Cookie Contest. (This was an idea I grabbed from my favorite author, Susan May Warren, who also does this with her family every Christmas.) 

It became, of course, an epic battle, and we’ve upgraded to a travelling trophy for the most creative.  We make up the dough, cut out the cookies, bake, then decorate them on Christmas Eve Day. Then we upload the pictures and email them to family scattered across the world. Each family votes on their favorite design (the designs are anonymous), and emails the results back.  The winner is announced Christmas Morning. 

Then, the cookies are eaten.  

Owen and Amelia's Epic Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Yields 2
A delicious and sturdy sugar cookie recipe
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 c. sugar
  2. 1 c. margarine, softened
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla
  4. 1/4 tsp. salt
  5. 1 egg, unbeaten
  6. 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  8. 2 c. flour
  9. 1/2 tsp soda
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream margarine and sugar.
  3. Add next 5 ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add flour and soda.
  5. Roll dough out on floured cutting board and cut out with form (or a sharp knife).
  6. Transfer to greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake 10 mins (not too long if you don't want fragile cookies).
Notes
  1. Be careful when transferring to a plate for decorating. We've often cooked these on parchment to aid with the transfer. Frost with buttercream or store-bought icing (I know, cheating, but we're all about simplifying!)
Adapted from Lunds Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Lunds Sugar Cookies
Susan May Warren http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
Simply and Savor Tip:  Start your own Christmas Cookie Decorating Contest!

Thanks for reading, 

Ingrid

Simplify and Savor: Faith!

Nov 24th 2014
Posted by Susan

simplify and savor icon

From Ingrid’s Journal

Proverbs 20:27  “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man, it searches out his inmost being.”

Living in the north plays games with a gal’s psyche.  Darkness falls around 4pm, the wind howls, the world frigid outside, and I dream of summer as the snow piles against my door.

And it brings me back to that summer the resort burned to the ground (I know my author Susan May Warren used her own experience watching her garage burn, and a summer of homelessness to write my feelings of despair in darkness.)  I wondered how we might survive.

I sit on the front porch steps of our resort, listening to a choir of crickets sing to the sunset.  I cradle a cup of tea in my hands, but it has long ago grown cold.  All I can think about is our starving checking account, smell the creosote of the burned cabins that once provided our livelihood.

The memories, now in ash.  Our home survived, but with our family scattered, perhaps this is the end of Evergreen resort. The end of a legacy.

The sun is gone, and I admit that with it falls my hope.  Grayness settles over the lake.   Suddenly I spy tiny lights flickering here and there.  First dozens, then thousands.   Fireflies!  They dance in the velvet darkness, momentary explosions on a twilight canvass.  I watch with delight, amazed at God’s brilliance and creativity.

Fireflies–bursts of light in the darkness.  They flicker on and off as if tiny flashlights searching the fields.  All at once, I hear the Lord whispering to me.  He says He is searching for my faith.  I realize that faith is like a firefly: a spurt of hope in a nighttime of discouragement.

Of course! Fireflies are always present, but they can be seen best at night, when the darkness surrounds them.  Faith is a part of my every day existence, but it is most vivid, to myself and others, when life looks bleak.  Do I have faith that radiates in the dark hour of worry, sorrow and disappointment?   Will the Lord find in me a firefly faith?

I watch the show until pitch settles upon the fields.  It seems the fireflies have gone to bed, and so must I.  Before I leave the porch for the padding of a pillow, I pray and ask the Lord to make my faith swell and completely expunge the darkness of despair.

I ask the Keeper of the Light to keep me shining, to fill up my spirit with His power, by His grace.

“People are like stained glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”  Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Simplify and Savor:  Keep a journal this season – write it in your “Firefly moments” – current and past, as a testimony and reminder of God’s faith.  Read it aloud to your family, or just yourself when life feels overwhelming! 

Have you ever been encouraged by the faith you see in others?  Encourage us with your story!

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid Christiansen

'Evergreen' by Susan May Warren

 

Ingrid Christiansen and her amazing family are featured in Susan May Warren’s award-winning, best-selling series, The Christiansen Family.  Her newest book, Evergreen: A Winter Novella is available now as an ebook or in Hardcover (which would make an excellent Christmas gift!)   

A parenting quote from Evergreen!

Nov 22nd 2014
Posted by Susan

Thank you to my friend Emily Ann Peterson for this beautiful pin! 

parenting quote

Thank you for stopping by! 

XO!

Ingrid Christiansen

Thursday Tune Up: Take another look at Gift-Giving

Nov 20th 2014
Posted by Susan

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Ingrid’s Insights to Christmas Gifts

No, this is not a list of 100 things you can give for less than $50. 

It’s not a list of cool pinterest craft gifts.

It’s not an encouragement to pick gifts from the Samaritan’s Purse catalogue and give a goat to the needy (although you can if you want).

I want to talk about WHY you give a gift. 

My favorite moment is when one of my children opens their gifts, and sees something unexpected, something amazing.

Something that delights their heart.  Something that gives them peace, or joy.  Comfort and delight.

My children love it too – in fact, their goal at Christmas is to make me cry.  The one who gives me the best gift, apparently, wins.

The best gift?  Something of themselves. Something that shows me how much they love me. Like a photograph of our family, edited and framed.  Or a card with their favorite memories written on it.

We spend so much money every year on stuff…what if gave something more expensive. What if we gave ourselves?

What if I gave an hour of game time every week to my son.  Or a “Girls-Only” weekend to my daughter? What if I game my mother a daily telephone call, and my husband a weekly date night (that I planned?) 

This season, I challenge you to think outside the box with your gift-giving. 

Start with understanding the love language of your giftee – words of affirmation, affection, quality time, acts of service, and gifts.

What “gift” speaks to that love language?

Add in, what sacrifice can you make that enhances that gift? 

How does your gift bring delight, joy, peace…comfort?

This is the substance of the gift of Christmas, the example set by our Savior.

Stop stressing. Start simplifying.

What unique gifts can you give this year?  We welcome ideas!

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid

Tuesday Tasty Treat: Casper’s Chewy Ginger Snaps

Nov 18th 2014
Posted by Susan

Simplify and Savor Cookies

 

From Ingrid’s Cookbook

Casper is our middle child – which means he’s the peace maker.  When I first decided to allow our children to pick their cookie, Casper first picked Darek’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Seeing they were taken, he then chose Eden and Grace’s  Lucky Kiss Peanut Butter  Cookies.  Alas, too late. He then spent a few days trying to decide between Owen and Amelia’s Sugar Cookies or his mother’s favorite, Chewy Ginger Snaps. This recipe also came from Grandma Christiansen’s worn Minnesota cookbook, Recipes from Minnesota with Love. 

Because I didn’t pick a favorite to bake, Casper sidled up to me one morning before December’s baking began and announced that he wanted me to have my favorite too – so he’d pick the spicy snap that I thought might be doomed to extinction.  Casper, saving the day, again.  

To delight him, I always let Casper press the tiny red-hot in the center of the cookie, like the crown jewel.

 

Casper's Chewy Ginger Snaps
Yields 4
A delicious, chewy Ginger snap!
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c. butter
  2. 1/4 margarine
  3. 1 c. light brown sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. 4 Tbsp molasses
  6. 1 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1 tsp nutmeg
  8. 2 cup flour
  9. dash salt
  10. 1/2 tsp cloves
  11. 1 tsp ginger
  12. 2 tsp baking soda
  13. bowl of sugar for dipping
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and margarine.
  2. Beat in sugar.
  3. Add egg and molasses, beat well.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  5. Chill 30 mins.
  6. Roll in 1 inch balls, dip/coat with sugar.
  7. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.
  8. Press a red-hot in the center of the ginger snap!
  9. Bake 350 for 8 mins.
Adapted from Recipes from Minnesota with Love
Susan May Warren http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
 

 

Simply and Savor Tip:  Eat this with a yummy mug of hot cocoa. Luckily, these are rather rich, so you’ll be happy with just one or two.  (Maybe!) 

Thanks for reading, 

Ingrid

Simplify and Savor: Surrendar

Nov 17th 2014
Posted by Susan

simplify and savor icon

From Ingrid’s Journal

God’s way may be harder for you, but it will be easier on you.   H. Hanson

As the “co-owner” of Evergreen Resort, I’ve shouldered much of the bookkeeping, entertaining and marketing to get the place running. Much like Susan May’s experiences of being a missionary wife, I wanted to run side-by-side with John to help shoulder the burdens.

I couldn’t believe it the day he turned on me.

Oh, how it hurt.  My husband’s words, although he tried to be gentle, ripped open my heart. “I’m sorry, I just can not allow you to do this job any longer.”

Can not allow?  My pride, my rebellious spirit ruffled.

“You are tired and crabby, and our family is suffering.”  I knew he was right; my job as accountant was taking its toll on our family life.  From cold noodle dinners to cancelled bible studies, I had become a walking nerve. And now, expecting our fourth child, something had to give.

“Please quit,” he said as I slammed the bathroom door in his face and collapsed, crying.

Surrender. It never came easy to me. I was the child who pushed curfew, the Christian who danced on the fence of disobedience.  I had been known to shake my fist at God while He waited, patiently.

But this submission would mean sacrificing a part of my identity, slicing off some self-esteem.

My history with God reminded me that when I surrender, He gives me the key to a closet of unimagined treasures…peace, untried spiritual gifts, blessings…joy.

So why was I hanging onto this job like some sort of tenacious bulldog?

I slowly peeked through the door, and then abandoned myself into my husband’s, and God’s waiting arms.

Six months later, I rocked my cooing baby, lingering in the precious treasure of quantity time. Again, surrender had unlocked the door to true joy.  Just another step upon my spiritual journey.

My husband hadn’t betrayed me – he loved me enough to pry my own expectations from my grip and freed me into a place where I could be a better version of myself.

Simplify and Savor:  Is there something in your life you are tenaciously holding on to that is no long a “fit” in your season of life?  Surrender your pride, let go, and savor the new season!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever “surrendered” something only to realize the freedom – and joy – that resulted? 

 

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid Christiansen

'Evergreen' by Susan May Warren

 

Ingrid Christiansen and her amazing family are featured in Susan May Warren’s award-winning, best-selling series, The Christiansen Family.  Her newest book, Evergreen: A Winter Novella is available now as an ebook or in Hardcover (which would make an excellent Christmas gift!)   

Pin and Review of Evergreen by Renee Smith

Nov 15th 2014
Posted by Susan

I just love Susan May Warren’s reader friend Renee Smith who is a fantastic Pin-maker!! Check out this fun pin she made from a quote from Evergreen…and follow it to her review. Thank you Renee!

Pin from Renee

Thanks for stopping by!

XO!

Ingrid Christiansen