Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. hot water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups oats

Beat together brown sugar, shortening, eggs, salt, and baking powder. Mix water with baking soda, stir in. Add remaining ingredients. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 F for 8 - 10 minutes until puffy and slightly browned.


3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat all frosting ingredients together until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar or milk if necessary for consistency. Frost the bottoms of half the cookies and top with another cookie.

This recipe originally came from an Amish/Mennonite cookbook. Supposedly the name comes from the fact that children shout "Whoopie!" when they are baked. :)

My family doesn't shout when I make cookies, but they do disappear quickly! :) It takes a lot of cookies to feed this crowd! :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

What I've been up too... :) the Job Search

I started to type in the title for this post and it popped up as one I had used before. Well I think it's sufficient, if not original. :) I did add on to the title. Slightly more original.

So, (obviously) I'm searching for a job now, and I had three interviews last week, which multiplied into five interviews including follow-ups. Amazing that I had follow-ups, since my interview skills seem to be declining.

Maybe not exactly declining. I never really needed interview skills before, since my other jobs were for people whom I knew well. In both cases I was asked to work, decided to take the job, and ended up filling out all the application and reference paperwork solely for records after being hired. There was that one time that I *accidently* applied at a trucking company and went in for an interview anyway - but that's a different story. :) (Yes, apparently for me it's possible to *accidentally* apply for a job somewhere... :) )

I thought that my first interview last week went very well, (considering) - until I reflected on my specific answers to questions. Namely; sick time. I was asked how often I called in sick at my previous job. Without thinking, I responded: "Well, the first year I almost never called in sick. The second year I called in fairly often."

Yes, I actually said that in a job interview! Oh, and by the way, "fairly often" is translated as a) twice I had a doctor's note to take me out of work and school, once for a week, once for a day; and b) I called in maybe three other times and went to work many other days that I perhaps could have called in. (It was an odd year.) However, calling in at all was frowned on at my old job, so the number of times I did it probably got translated in my mind as a "fairly often" which came out at the most appropriate time. :)

Anyway, the lady who was interviewing me said "Well, we don't like people to call in here. It causes others to have to cover for them." Well, I didn't expect them to like it, really. It seems as if it would be odd if an employer liked people to call in. Needless to say; I didn't get called back for a follow-up for that job.

The second job was for a nice small town family business, who were specifically looking for a long-term employee. A long-term employee who wanted to work part-time at that specific job for the rest of his or her natural life. A nice job for an older retiree, really. Because of my age, they were very cautious to make sure of the fact that I wanted part-time work - forever. Enough said.

Oddly enough I was not nervous about any of the interviews. I felt qualified and fairly confident, in spite of my blunders. But it was the last interview that I was the most at ease with. Perhaps too much at ease. Again, I felt good about the interview until I reflected later on, and realized some things that I perhaps should NOT have said.

They asked me if I have a good sense of humor and I told them how we would relieve tension at the flower shop by inhaling helium and talking or singing. (It makes your voice all high-pitched and funny sounding. They (my interviewees) did laugh. Perhaps painfully. Then they asked how I handle callers and compaints of the more nasty type. I told them that I just grit my teeth and get sweeter and sweeter as I become more annoyed but since I am convinced of my superior intelligence and handling capabilities it keeps me from ever loosing it. Again they laughed. Maybe more painfully, maybe sincerely - it's hard to tell. Throughout the whole interview I talked constantly, odd for me, and laughed at maybe too many opportunities. Than they asked what my weaknesses are...

I said that I'm told I don't talk enough. Yeah.

I'm still waiting to hear from any and all of the job opportunities. Meanwhile, if a lesson comes out of this for me I think it's the fact that God works in spite of us. Or me. Thankfully.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose."
-Romans 8:28

They work together for good in spite of me. Even when I happen to be in the way, or in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong response. My blunders CAN be turned around.

I think it's definitely work a long sigh of relief.

And anticipation. :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hymns and Choruses

Yesterday after church was dismissed I was confronted by a familiar older lady.
"I have a complaint!" was her firm greeting in the form of an announcement.
I smiled and mentally prepared for a hymns versus choruses rant. This lady was notorious for intensely disliking choruses and not afraid to say it. Although; funny, it couldn't be... it was hymn Sunday. What could her "complaint" be today?

"WHY is the piano so LOUD? CAN you explain it to me?"

Very surprised, I exclaimed; "Too loud? Is it really?"

"YES. It is MUCH too loud."

Grasping for words, I replied, "Well, I'm surprised it is loud because it has rather a heavy touch compared to other pianos... it might be the acoustics of the sanctuary...?"

"Well. Isn't there a soft pedal? USE IT." She spoke firmly and did not smile.

Meanwhile I tried not to smile. Usually I am rather thin-skinned, but for some reason this lady never seems to "get to" me. I know she means well, she just has a rather odd way of showing it. Not to mention that I hadn't even played piano that Sunday to start with; so it really wasn't anything I had done.

The worship director appeared at that moment. Distracted, the lady stared at him.

"And are YOU the one who always picks THOSE CHORUSES?" Accusingly.

"Well" he said smoothly "when it's my week to lead."


Thus it began... again. :)

Here we go again. The ageless hymns versus choruses debate. And to be honest; I really don't get the controversy. I have a confession to make: I like both hymns and choruses. Yes; read BOTH. Even TOGETHER, perhaps. :) Am I very strange, and quite alone in this?

I hear it from both sides. "Hymns are soooo sloooowwww. And soooo boring. Why must we sing hymns?" "And CHORUSES! Why, choruses are redundant, and have no solid foundation. They are meaningless words that say nothing and are only an excuse to incorporate a drum beat."

In my church, we attempt to please both crowds. We alternate between a praise team/choruses Sunday and a traditional hymn/piano only Sunday. My question; am I the only one who wonders if segregation is unnecessary? I wonder, why can't we have hymns included in the praise team, or choruses on the piano Sunday. Is each worship/music style limited to the songs traditionally associated with it?

What is really here important anyway?

I think it is imporant to evaluate the words we are singing. Is the new fun chorus (or old, traditional hymn) making sweeping statements that we are not really prepared to follow up on in our lives? Do we really mean what we are singing? Also, is there meaning in what we are singing. Is it more than a string of words that sound good, but can't be defined as "worship?"

Honestly, I think the hymns/choruses debate can be funny. Here is a funny satire that I often think of when the hymns and choruses debate is brought up. :) Disclaimer: it involves cows. :)

Yeah, I think it's funny, and sometime sad, but also mind-boggling, because I just don't identify with it most of the time. I like both styles. :)

Back to my story; the lady continued with her popular "choruses are awful" dialogue, and then we went our separate ways. Later that day, she called me.

"Jennifer, I just wanted to apologize for what I said today. I did not mean to be overly critical, and I'm sorry if I sounded that way."

How sweet! I told her it wasn't a problem, (and I thought I had found a new friend). :) Then she asked me:
"By the way; who was THAT MAN who was talking to us?"

"Oh, the song leader?"

"Was THAT him? He's the one who pickes the choruses? Well. I won't be apologizing to him. I MEANT what I said to him!"


Ah, life. And people. And opinions. Thank God for variety - even in music! :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

More of Passion - and the New Year Without Mistakes

Wow, it has been a long time. :)

The past month has sped by in a blur of cramming, finals, long coveted graduation, and then right into Christmas with cookie baking, shopping, gift-wrapping and family time. Not to mention the continual and thus far unsuccessful job search. :) It seemed as if as soon as I was finished with school Christmas was upon us. There was not an end to the fast-paced, busy and exhausted scheme of things.

My blog was not the only thing that got lost in the shuffle. I recently realized that there were several friends I had neglected for weeks. I called three people in a row to see how they were doing, and apologized for being so out of it. I have this feeling that I have had my head buried in the sand, and I am just now pulling it out and blinking at what I have missed. :) Crazy? Maybe, but that's the feeling I have! :)

My last post recognized that I was missing passion, but even with this recognization I passed the following month in a blur - and not a passionate one. More of a "necessary-must-to-have-to" blur.

I like how New Year's follows Christmas - our "resolutions" are often neglected quickly, yet it's a fresh new year with endless possibilities and another chance to "do things right." :) I also like how Anne Shirley says "Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it." I always seem to make mistakes at Christmas! But the Christmas coming has no mistakes in it yet. :) I have another chance next Christmas to a) think ahead b) take some time to relax c) NOT choose the wrong shipping d) not neglect the essentials, carefully weighing what is necessary and what can be done without; and, most importantly, e) reflect on His precious gift.

Christmas is only one example, and it comes at the end of the new year. The whole year is a chance to love Him more deeply, to follow Him more closely, to glorify Him more fully, and to obey Him more perfectly. I don't usually make specific "resolutions" in fact I was never overly fond of the word; but I know one thing: that I don't want this year of my life to be wasted. I want to be infused with passion! I don't want to live a mediocre Christian life. I want to serve Him - passionately.

"But whatever you do, find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it."
-John Piper

I think this quote sums up what I could say much better than I could ever say it. :) A passion worth having is worth both living for and dying for. My blurred lifestyle as a past trend isn't necessary to hamper the "living" of what is ahead.

What is your passion?