Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Great Adventure

Alabama in May. It's nearly always sweltering by then; usually I've been mowing grass for a couple months already and daytime highs are in the upper 80s and lower 90s by then.

Monday, May 10th, 2010, however, didn't live up to expectation.

I went out that day for a 4-day loop in Bankhead NF, in the Sipsey Wilderness. I had been watching the weather forecast (from 3 or 4 sources) for a week, and had checked it a final time on Sunday evening. All 4 were calling for a light drizzle in the evening, followed by several days of sunshine and warmer temps. I packed accordingly. Instead of a light drizzle in the evening, however, it set in to an all-day soaking rain. I ended up hiking out that night because I was concerned I couldn't get warm with the equipment and supplies I had with me. By the time I made it to my pickup I was suffering from the first stages of hypothermia.

On the one hand, this is Alabama in May -- meaning, it should be hot and humid, not cold and wet. On the flip side, weather forecasts are not always accurate, and I won't always be hiking in Alabama, or only in May.

I had left the house very early Monday morning, failing to check the weather before I left, especially the radar. I'm no meteorologist, but I can read a weather map. Had I done so, I would have seen that rain was coming and made appropriate changes to my plan and/or gear.

I hiked about ten miles in the rain, and got soaked through. I think the wet vegetation soaked me more than the rain. I did have a rain coat, but I didn't put it on because I figured I'd be just as wet from sweat as I would be without it. Also, I kept thinking the rain would stop before long. The sun started to come out about 3PM, so I decided to make camp and try to dry out some. However, the wind picked up and the sun went back in. I simply couldn't get warm.

I had eaten a hot dinner and drank a cup of hot tea, and was huddling in my hammock, trying to get warm under the light fleece blanket I'd brought (remember, I'd packed for forecasted temps, not actuals). I had no cell service, so I couldn't get a weather forecast. So after lying there for 45 minutes or an hour, I finally decided to walk out.

It got really dark, really fast. By now the temps were dropping, and a wind sprung up and blew down the canyon I was in. I was warm and wet, compared to the air and ground around me, so I was putting off a fog. As long as I was moving, my fog bank blew out behind me. But whenever I stood still, it surrounded me and I couldn't see well.

I had a headlamp I'd just bought at Walmart. It and my raincoat (now being used as a windbreaker) were probably what saved me.

I walked back down the trail I'd come up. It was rough going; the trail was covered with blowdowns that the NFS would not allow to be moved (wilderness area rules). So I was having to break stride often to climb over some pretty huge trees that were down. There were also a bunch of stream crossings; I lost count before I was halfway done.

I just kept moving. I ate trail mix and drank water and just kept moving, knowing that to stop was to get too cold and then I'd be in serious trouble.

I'd been dreading those streams all day long. At one point, I'd had to cross a fairly large creek (maybe 50 yards wide and growing because of the rain), and it had been all I could do to get up the bank because of the mud. In fact, I'd had to climb up on my hands and knees and even then felt like I wouldn't make it. But I figured it was all behind me and that I'd just finish my loop and be ok. Well, coming back, I remembered that crossing and dreaded it the whole time.

I came around a bend and found my half-way point, Fall Creek Falls, just as the moon rose. The sky had cleared some, and the moon shone down on the falls, now roaring with all the runoff from the rain. It was absolutely, stunningly beautiful. That sight right there is what made the whole trip "worth it."

Along the way an owl (great horned, judging by his call) took interest in me and followed along behind me, hooting at me. It was a bit hair-raising, even though I knew exactly what it was.

I found a trail that parallelled the official trail, but on my side of the creek. So I didn't have to ford it in the dark. I lost the trail once in a big, rocky bare spot. But I found it within a few minutes on the other side. I got stuck up to my knees in quick sand a bit further along, but was able to get out without losing my shoes.

And then, from the gloom and my self-generated fog, I saw the bridge abutments that signaled I had made it. I climbed the steep bank, crossed the old FS road bridge, and made it back to my truck. I had walked 10 miles in just about 5 and a half hours or so. I'd walked 20 miles in total that day, twice what I'd planned on walking, and all of it through mud and rain and steep creek banks.

As I see it, I made four poor choices. The first was my clothing selection (although I am glad I was wearing pants instead of shorts, and I am glad I chose the shoes I did). Second was not checking the weather Monday morning before I left. Third was my quilt selection; it was perfect for most Alabama summer nights, but not for this trip. I should have taken my sleeping bag or an additional quilt. The fourth was that I didn't hole up early in the day and read and just wait out the rain.

Of those mistakes, the last three are all mental or planning issues, and I have learned from them so that I will not repeat them. The first one, clothing selection, is one I've learned from as well, and which will not get repeated. Now I have full rain gear (my Marmot Precip jacket is the best thing ever!), and I know about the dangers of cotton and the benefits of layering and taking a baselayer that stays clean and dry.

Oh, and it was the time of my life. I've been hooked ever since.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Prayer for Illumination.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Galatians 1:6-12 and Psalm 40:1-11

St. Paul writes some strong words about people who change the Gospel to fit their own viewpoints. He writes twice that they will be accursed. Clearly this is an important matter to him. He goes on to say that he doesn’t seek to please other people, but God. And sometimes pleasing God makes other people upset.

There are times when we must change the way we present the message, so that it will be heard. However, we never change the message itself. Paul did this when in Athens. St. Luke records the story in Acts 17. Here Paul preached Christ to the people of Athens without actually saying Jesus’ name. He managed to generate interest, and a few people even came to know Christ because of Paul’s talk.

Take a few minutes to pray about how you might need to change the way you present the Gospel without changing the message itself. Write your own prayer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Matthew 12:15-21 and Psalm 89:5-37

Sunday’s Gospel text was about the transfiguration. At the end of the encounter, Jesus warned his disciples not to say anything about what they had seen until after the resurrection. Here we see Christ healing people and warning them not to spread the news around. In fact, this is something we see throughout the Gospels. Jesus will heal someone, and then tell them not to say anything.

Jesus was still waiting to be crucified and resurrected, and his time had not yet come. Jesus may also have wanted to avoid the huge crowds that would love him one second and hate him the next. Many of those people were there for a magic trick, or to see and be seen. A few were there because they recognized that Jesus was a man of God. Fewer still recognized him as the Messiah, but among those the majority were convinced that Jesus’ kingdom was an earthly, political entity. Even the Twelve had trouble with this. They were just sure that Jesus was going to raise an army, overthrow the Romans and Herod, and set up shop in Jerusalem as the new king.

They say hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes we royally miss the point, and it takes us a while to catch on. We get confused, or scared, or hard-headed, or just plain rebellious. God tries to help us see the right way but we refuse to go for whatever reason.

Ask God to help you see the way of the Kingdom. Ask him to give you clarity of mind and purpose. Write your own prayer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Acts 8:4-25 and Psalm 89:5-37

The story of the apostles’ run-in with Simon the sorcerer is quite funny. St. Peter, always the one to speak his mind, has what some folks call a “come to Jesus meetin’” with Simon. One can imagine the look on Simon’s face as he realizes just what is about to happen.

People had believed that Simon was a man of God, because he knew a few magic tricks. When confronted with the real power of God, they realized that he was a farce. Whenever we come face-to-face with God’s power, we realize our own incompetence. The good news is that God can still use us, even when we feel utterly useless.

What are some of the ways you have seen God’s power manifested? Take a few moments to thank God for those times. Ask him to use you as a conduit of his power. Write your own prayer.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Acts 9:1-9, Psalm 29, and Ephesians 3:14-21

Sometimes God has to do something pretty big to catch our attention. Today we read about Saul’s conversion. What is important about this is that God took the very one who was persecuting the Church and set him to building the Church.
Sometimes God has to intervene in our lives in a big way. We experience an epiphany of our own. God makes himself known to us and asks us to change something about ourselves. Sometimes it is quite a big change. But God always gives grace to help us do that. He never expects us to do it alone.

Perhaps God has been showing you some things which you need to change. Maybe they are large, or maybe they are small. Ask God to help you make those changes. Ask him to help you live a righteous life. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Merciful God, we confess we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by the things we have done and the things we have left undone. We have failed to be an obedient Church. We have not kept your laws. We have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Liturgical Musings

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood seasons of the year is Epiphany. It sneaks in at the end of Christmas, when most of the world is bemoaning the weight they gained during November and December and the amount of money they’ve spent in the past few months. It gets little notice, even in church, because we’re so worried about everything else that’s going on.

Epiphany falls on January 6th. It is the celebration of the Magi coming to visit Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 2. Epiphany is the celebration of Jesus revealing himself to the Gentiles. The shepherds were the first to know and pay their respects. But God then allowed the Magi to find out, and they also came to worship. Tradition holds that there were three wise men, known as Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar.

The first Sunday after the Epiphany is known as “The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Gospel readings are from Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3, and deal with Jesus coming down to the Jordan to be baptized by John. It is here that Christ is revealed as the Son of God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17).

The next few weeks are known as “Ordinary Time”, and the color is green. The time is ordinary, not in the sense of being common or everyday, but in the sense of being counted. There are at least four Sundays and at most nine Sundays after the Epiphany. The number of Sundays varies by year and is dependent on the first day of Lent, called Ash Wednesday, which is in turn dependent on the date of Easter.

The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) is set up so that each year, if Easter falls early and therefore the Season After Epiphany is short, those readings can be taken in the weeks following Pentecost (since that season will be longer in years when Easter is early). If Easter is later, however, more Sundays will fall between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, and fewer between Pentecost and Christ the King, so the first few readings of the season after Pentecost are used in Epiphany. Confused yet?

Further, the Sunday readings all deal with Christ revealing himself to us. So we read about the wedding at Cana (Jesus revealing himself as the Son of God to his disciples through the miracle of turning water to wine), and so forth. Each Sunday deals with Jesus revealing himself to us as the Savior.

In Anglican, Lutheran, and those Protestant churches which follow the RCL, the final Sunday after Epiphany is known as Transfiguration Sunday. The readings are from Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, where Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. Christ is again revealed as the Son of God: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Mt. 17:5) This is the ultimate revelation, the climax in our discovery of who Christ is. One of my favorite hymns for the day is Charles Wesley’s “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies”:



Epiphany is about growth, about Christ revealing himself to us. Christ reveals himself to us as we journey through life. The question is whether we will recognize him and follow him.

The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ


Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6, 9; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:1-12; and Matthew 2:1-12



Yesterday was the last day of Christmas. Today is Epiphany, which is the celebration of the wise men coming to Jesus. An epiphany is the manifestation of a deity to humans, and here it refers to God showing himself to everyone, gentiles included. It was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that many nations would call him blessed.

There are many traditions surrounding the celebration of Epiphany. In some places, the priest (and often a group of laity, as well) will go around to all the homes of the parish and bless each one. The priest will take some chalk and write above the doorpost “20 + C + M + B + 11” – 2011 being the year, and C, M, and B being the initials of the names that tradition has given to the magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar). Another is baking a king cake, which is iced with purple, gold, and green icing, and which contains some trinket (often a baby, said to represent the baby Jesus). The person who receives the slice with the trinket must buy the cake the next year. In many places the king cake is associated with Mardi Gras, the festival season leading up to Lent.

Take a few minutes to pray about the Epiphany and God revealing himself to us. Ask God to manifest himself to you in a whole new way. You may find the following prayer helpful:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Joshua 1:1-9, Psalm 72, and Hebrews 11:32-12:2

Today we read about God revealing Himself to Joshua. God’s message to Joshua was “Don’t be afraid!” After following Moses around for the past 40 years, Joshua had learned to be a great assistant. He had also learned to be a great leader, but he needed some self-confidence. God told him to get ready to take the promised land, and to do so without fear. God would be there every step of the way.

It is the same with us today. God calls us to do something, and many times we refuse because we are too scared. We are afraid to lose our family and friends. We’re afraid to leave our home. We’re afraid someone will make fun of us. We’re afraid that we’ll lose all we hold near and dear.

Sometimes we lose out big because we were too afraid to let go of something. Ask God to help you overcome your fear. Ask him to help you set aside your worries and doubts and focus on following his call. Write your own prayer.

Twelfth Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas!




O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, you Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Exodus 3:1-5, Psalm 72, and Hebrews 11:23-31

We continue with our theme of God revealing himself to us. Today we read about Moses and the bush that burned but was not consumed. As usual, God knows what it will take to catch our attention. Here he uses a natural phenomenon that is sure to attract a shepherd. There is no telling how many times Moses had passed that bush in the past. God chose to use that bush, and as a result, the ground around it was holy.

The thing about God revealing himself to us is that he usually does it for a reason. Here he is sending Moses to be his representative before Pharaoh. Moses’ cry will be “Let my people go!” With us it is no different. God shows us something about himself, and he expects us to do something about it. Sometimes he wants us to change the way we live. Sometimes he wants us to follow a particular calling or vocation. Sometimes he wants to draw us closer to him.

Why has God revealed himself to you in the past? How did you respond? Did you move closer to God, or did you turn tail and run? Ask God to help you with this. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Most holy God, you revealed yourself to Moses in the burning bush and called him to free your people Israel from slavery: So reveal yourself to us that we might draw near to you and answer your call upon our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eleventh Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas!




Almighty God,
who has poured upon us the new light of your Incarnate Word;
grant that the same light enkindled in our hearts
may shine forth in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Genesis 28:10-22, Psalm 72, and Hebrews 11:13-22

Christmas is about the incarnation – the Word being made flesh and dwelling among us. It is the beginning of a whole season devoted to seeing Christ as the son of God. The climax is the Sunday before Lent, which some faith traditions celebrate as the Transfiguration of our Lord.

Today’s reading from Genesis talks about God revealing himself to Jacob. Jacob has a dream which shows him that God is in that place, so he sets up a rock, pours oil on it, and names it “Bethel”, which means “House of God”. To Jacob, this is a tangible way to remember something important. More importantly, this is a way for Jacob to tell others about his experiences. Seeing an up-turned rock with oil stains may raise a few questions, which will allow Jacob to tell about his dream and how God revealed himself to him.

How has God revealed himself to you? Has it been in a dream, like Jacob, or Joseph, or the wise men? Has it been by other means? Thank God for showing himself to you, and ask him to continue to do that. You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty God, you have revealed yourself to us through many ways: Grant us grace that we might see you wherever you may appear, and that we might behold your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tenth Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas!




Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen
yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.
Marian Antiphon Traditionally Said from Advent to Candlemas

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pizza! Pizza!

Well here it is: The Barefoot Friar's Famous Pizza™ recipe.

3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast


2 cups (or more) all purpose flour (unbleached is better)
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

If you're planning to rise your dough in the oven, preheat to warm (lowest) setting. Don't let it get over about 150°, or you'll kill your dough. If you're rising it elsewhere, skip this step.

Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil; stir until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface.

Knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 1 minute. Brush lightly with olive oil, turning dough to coat all sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or clean towel and let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

When dough has doubled, punch it down and kneed on a lightly floured surface for just a moment -- about 30 seconds should be plenty.

(By the way, this can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.)

Preheat oven to 450°. If you have a stone, make sure it's in the middle of the oven. If you're using a pan, lightly grease it with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil (better).

Roll out dough, starting in center of dough, working outward toward edges but not rolling over them. If you can do the pizza toss thing, then go right ahead. Note that you can divide the dough ball into three sections to make three personal sized pizza (feeds one hungry man by itself, or maybe two kids if you have a side item). This is usually how I do it. I tend to roll mine out a bit thin, because I haven't had good luck with deep dish pizzas with this dough. If you're doing a deep dish, then pre-bake the dough for about 10 minutes before topping.

Top to taste. This is my favorite part. I've had a couple "top your own pizza" parties at my girlfriend's house with her roommates. Always lots of fun.

I usually buy a jar of sauce instead of making my own. I have a wonderful Giada DeLaurentiis sauce recipe, but it's a bit chunky and thin for pizza. I like the Bertolli brand Margherita or similar best. You want thick but smooth, and the canned stuff is too acidic. They actually sell a sauce specifically for pizza, and it works pretty good too. Look across the aisle at the pizza shelf for this.

I will never, ever buy the block of part-skim "mozzarella" sold next to the American cheese again. Compared to the real thing, it is awful. Great Value (Walmart) does have a mozzarella that is made from whole milk that is sold usually on the top shelf of the cheese section. It will be a semi-soft cheese, much softer than cheddar. It should feel about as squishy in the package as Velveeta or maybe slightly firmer. The flavor... heavenly. This is really good stuff. My favorite, however, is one that is smoked. Oh, the Angels in heaven must have given the recipe for this. Don't skimp on the cheese. If you skimp anywhere else, don't skimp on the cheese. When this cheese melts, you get the famous ropes (remember the Little Caesar's commercials from the early 90s?). The cheese is the most important part.

Pepperoni is a given. For sausage lovers, you can either brown and crumble some Jimmy Dean (or whatever else strikes your fancy) or get some Italian sausages, cook to package directions, and crumble them. Yummo. I also note that Walmart sells ham cubes in a small package. Good buy, because you can use the rest later (more in a moment).

I love to get a jar of sundried tomatoes. They're sold in Walmart on the aisle with the other canned tomato products, usually on the top shelf. They're packed in olive oil. To use, simply drain most of the oil off and top the pizza.

Olives, of course, and mushrooms. I learned the hard way, however, make sure they're not too salty! I put some wonderful Klamata olives on a pizza once, only to discover their saltiness really messed with the other flavors. Fresh is better, of course. But regular old canned black olives are just fine here. Green bell pepper (chopped very fine) or onion (even finer) is good. I have yet to try pineapple, but it's coming.

I like to get a package of Feta or goat cheese to sprinkle on top, and since I always have a bit of fresh Parmesan on hand, I grate some of that on, also.

Go easy on your toppings. Too many means your crust won't get done and your veggies will be hard. Since you're making small pizzas anyway, try doing two or three different things on each one.

Top with cheese (helps hold the other toppings on if you put cheese on top), and pop it onto the stone. Let it bake until the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbly and starting to toast on the edges. It should take about 12-15 minutes. If you like a crispy crust, let it go a minute or two longer.

Pull it out, let it cool a moment and prepare to have your perception of pizza forever changed.

I don't think this is going to be large-family friendly. I see it more as a special occasion, or maybe a stay at home date night. The toppings can be more or less expensive depending on what you get. Better toppings make a huge difference, though.

Now for the really fun part: Use the leftover toppings next morning to make omelettes. Mmm.

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read: Genesis 12:1-7, Psalm 20, and Hebrews 11:1-12

Today's readings talk about Abraham and his faith. As we begin a new year, we have the opportunity to start fresh and new. We have the opportunity to follow God into new areas and new phases of life. We have to be open to the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Take some time to pray about this. Ask God to help you be ready to answer his calling. Write your own prayer.

Ninth Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas!




Almighty God and Father of light,
a child is born to us an a Son is given to us.
Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven
in the silent watches of the night,
and now your Church is filled with wonder
at the nearness of her God.
Open our hearts to receive His life
and increase our vision with the rising of dawn,
that our lives may be filled with His glory and His peace,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ


Read: Exodus 34:1-8, Psalm 8, Romans 1:1-7, and Luke 2:15-21

Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our
Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Eighth Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas!




Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.