Chocolate Cake!

I tried this recipe today (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/karen-as-chocolate-dump-cake/). I had one small packet of instant chocolate pudding mix and another small box of pistachio instant pudding– I used both. Instead of milk, I used almond milk then added about 6 tablespoons of almond extract (I didn’t have vanilla). I used a regular cake mix. Once the batter was mixed and thick, I then sprinkled semi-sweet chocolate chips and folded it into the batter. I baked it at 325 degrees for about an hour. The cake was fluffy and delicious!

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Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

GOD IS GREATER

I’ve read James 1:2-3 several times before, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow,” but I never really understood what it meant until now.

Our family is under major attack—it feels like the gates of hell have opened and Satan’s minions are in full force, but even though we are going through these trying times we know that God is greater. In fact, we are now even closer to God than we were several days ago.

I believe that there is a spiritual battle taking place in our churches, and some of our loved ones have been taken captive by the enemy, “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

With the strongest conviction I have ever had, I keep shouting within my being, “GOD IS GREATER!” Those who are spiritually dead in Him can be raised from the dead— dry bones can live again. Those who have shut their eyes, ears, and heart to God can again see, hear, and know Him. No one is too far lost that he/she cannot be found by Him.

We need to pray, “It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons… to knock down the devil’s strongholds… Pray in the Spirit at all times… Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers…” (2 Cor 10:3-4, Eph 6:18).

I don’t know what you are encountering today, but know that you are not alone: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life… Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you… Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Matt 6:25, Isa 41:10, Joshua 1:9).

GOD IS GREATER!!!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Change

I love to make things look better than what it did originally. When we moved into our house almost seven years go, we changed or updated so many rooms. Several months ago we bought a camper. It was a slightly older model, but I liked the layout of it (lots of counter space, with a twin/full bunk bed); most importantly, I loved the price.

On one of the nights we camped, we had two of our granddaughters with us. My two-year-old granddaughter wanted me to rock her to sleep on the bottom bunk closest to the window. When she had fallen asleep, I realized I was stuck—I couldn’t sit up enough to get out of the bed. I would have rolled over to get out but my other granddaughter was asleep on the other side of me. It was then that I realized that we needed to get rid of the upper bunk bed. At first I thought it would be good to have an upper bunk— we could fit one more person in the camper, but who’d want to sleep in such a tight space?

Yesterday we decided to tear out the upper bunk. I thought it would be a quick job, but there were so many screws of varying lengths to take out. We tried to save the frame because it was the perfect size for a sliding door for the front bedroom, but the bunk space was too tight so we had to dismantle the bunk. Piece by piece we slowly tore apart the bed, when finally we were left with this huge space (it felt a little too big). I started to wonder if we had made a mistake in getting rid of the upper bunk.

Today, I added a wall border to cover the screw holes, and bought a verticle blind that would cover both upper and lower windows, giving it the illusion that there is only one window. After putting the sheets and pillows on the bed, I realized we did the right thing. The area was now inviting and airy— even I wouldn’t mind sleeping on that bed!

The whole experience made me think about how God wants to improve on us— He doesn’t want us to stay the same. Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you…”

Our house and camper are still in the process of change, but many changes have already taken place. I think it’s the same for people—change is a continual process; even after God changes our heart, it is only the beginning of change. I remind myself that if I am not changing then I am stagnant. I don’t want to be stagnant.

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Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Apple “dump” cake

I saw this recipe online (hip2save.com/2014/09/03/3-ingredient-apple-dump-cake/) and decided to make it today, especially since I had all the ingredients.

I realized, though, that I only had five apples— I needed 7, so I substituted fresh peaches. I kept the peel on some of the apples then thinly sliced the apples and peaches.

001I layered the fruit on the bottom of the glass 9×13 pan, but forgot to spray it first. After the fruit was distributed evenly at the bottom of the pan, I sprinkled cinnamon over it.

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Then I poured the yellow cake mix over the fruit. The recipe called for one stick of melted butter, but instead I used unsweetened apple sauce— about ¾ of the 23 oz jar.

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I wasn’t sure how it would turn out since I hadn’t sprayed the bottom of the pan, and because I used apple sauce and peaches.

I baked it for one hour at 325 degrees. When the timer went off, I noticed that there was still dry cake mix on it so I spread the apple sauce over the dry mix and placed the pan back into the over for another 15 minutes.

I was surprised to see how the cake looked—it had a golden color and the apples were bubbling.

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I didn’t wait for the cake to cool—I scooped some out and then topped it with low fat chocolate ice cream.

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Great recipe!

“…people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deu 8:3, NLT).

 

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Ten things I wish I would have known before running my first half marathon

Ten things I wish I would have known before running my first half marathon:

  1. Eat something light a couple of hours before the run (toast with jelly and green tea would have been good)
  2. Take a couple of energy blocks/chews an hour before the run
  3. Take an energy block, chew, or gel after the first mile
  4. Taken an energy block, chew, or gel at mile 3, 6, 9, and 12
  5. Choose music at a BPM that will keep me on pace
  6. Don’t carry a water bottle during the run— use a hydration belt or a “handy hydrator” instead
  7. If I want to take my phone, then use a runner’s waist pack instead of a fanny pack
  8. Wear the clothes I plan to use several days before the run to make sure it doesn’t chaff–  I’ll have time to find something else to wear if it doesn’t work
  9. Tuck the “aglets” under the laces on top of my feet so that they don’t jab my ankles as I run
  10. Be sure to take the drink at every water stop, and eat the food they give during the run.
Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Death and Heaven

Yesterday we were all shocked to hear of Robin Williams’ death. I guess it was because it seemed so sudden and unexpected.

I think death makes us feel helpless and inadequate. Our lives are basically on “auto-pilot” until all of a sudden someone dies and we remember that life doesn’t stay the same forever—people die and one day we will die too.

Sometimes a person’s death makes us wonder if there’s something after death— do we just live for a few years then get buried in the ground and that’s it? Or is there really a place like Heaven?

I’d like to think that we go somewhere else after we die. I try to imagine what Heaven will be like— a place with no crime, no illnesses, no fear, no frustrations, no sadness, no gossip, no bullying, no negativity, no phoniness, no hatred, no hardships, no “keeping up with the Jones,” no pressure, no anxiety, no evil.

The Bible tells us that the only way we can go to Heaven is to cling to Jesus Christ and to acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

I hope to see many of my friends and family members in Heaven.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Bathroom Remodel

Almost 4 months ago, I decided to remodel our main bathroom—it looked terrible and outdated. My goal was to complete it in five days, but it took about 5 days just to gut everything out—the two layers of floor tile, the shower tiles, and the sink compartment (I don’t usually do this type of remodeling so I had no idea how long something like this was supposed to take).

The first few weeks, I worked very diligently to put tile up—my husband even cut tile for me, but weeks turned into months with very little progress being made.

There were days when I could have worked on it but I was just so frustrated. I was working, keeping up with the house, and trying to remodel the bathroom too. One time I had just finished tiling one of the walls when suddenly all the tiles came crashing down. I cried— I was so tired of dealing with it.

After a couple of months people started to ask about the bathroom. It was what I needed in order to do more work on it rather than to walk away and forget about it (which is really what I wanted to do). In a way, the constant questions about the bathroom was a form of accountability—I had said I would do it and now I had to follow through.

After about three months of having a big mess with no working shower or sink, I wondered how much it would cost to get someone to finish the work for me. Maybe I could get HGTV to get a crew here and fix my disaster? No, I had to do it. To me, it felt like a really long run—I wanted to quit but I had to finish it—quitting was not an option!

For the last few days I prayed for strength. I stayed up late to work on it.

Today, my husband hung the mirror and the bathroom is done! It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but I am glad I did it. I look at the slate floors, all the tiles I laid, the sink I chose, and I can’t believe how beautiful it looks. It was only a bathroom, but I can somewhat understand how God must have felt when He created the earth and said, “It is good.”

I did it, and I believe God helped me. I crossed the finish line!

Check out my before and after pictures.

 

 

 

The potter and the clay

I saw this news article today and it broke my heart: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/01/health/diy-plastic-surgery/. This lady wanted to improve her appearance but it wound up costing her limbs.

Our society makes it difficult to “grow old gracefully.” The emphasis is on looking young— people see celebrities getting plastic surgery and then they want to do the same thing.

I have to admit that there were times when I looked in the mirror and wished I could change something about myself. I see the laugh lines getting deeper and the number of fine lines increasing on my face, then there’s the loose skin I have on my belly from giving birth to my four children…

I used to wish that I was taller, but over time I grew to love being only 5 feet tall—it’s funny but some strangers still treat me like a little girl.

I came across this Bible verse several times over the last few years: “…Will what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me this way?”…” (Romans 9:20). These Words made me realize that I should be satisfied with the way I look—wrinkles, loose skin, and all. God made me this way. If He didn’t want me to have loose skin then He wouldn’t have allowed me to get pregnant; and if He didn’t want me to have wrinkles then He could have ended my life while I was still young.

I realize now that my focus shouldn’t be on my external appearance; I needed to concentrate on changing my heart: “…beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God” (2 Peter 3:4, AMP).

I need to love how God has made me. I know God loves me, and He has blessed me with a loving husband who thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world. What more do I need?

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Confrontation

Someone mentioned to me that confrontation is difficult for them. It’s true that no one wants to be a “bad guy” and most of us want to make people happy. But there are times when we have to confront people. There’s a way to do this that is loving and uplifting. Here’s what I shared with that person:

“You can use the “sandwich technique” when confronting someone— say something positive, say something negative, then say something positive.

For example, you need to confront someone about their viewing of pornography. You would start with, “___, you do so much to help people and I know that your heart is to serve God.

It has come to my attention that you have been viewing pornography. This is a sin—a sin against other people, but most especially a sin against God. Viewing pornography distorts how you see women/men and it corrupts your heart. You are valuable to God and He loves you. He wants you to stop sinning. We have a group of men/women who meet and they are accountable to one another. I want you to join that group and I want you to find a person that you can be completely honest and accountable to. I want to follow up with you every week just to see how you are doing. I want you to also confess this sin to your wife/husband so she/he can help you through this process.

I love you as a sister/brother and I want you to flourish as a Christian. Most importantly, God loves you.”

I used pornography as an example only because, unfortunately, it’s so prevalent in our society— what a horrible tool of Satan, tarnishing and defiling the image of God (the human body) that God, Himself, created! Sadly, Satan has enticed both men and women in this sin.

Anyway, the point is, we need to confront people when we see that they are heading in the wrong direction. We do this because we love them. When we confront people, we do it with love (Ephesians 4:15) and humility (Galatians 6:1). We need to help one another get through this desert called “life” until we get to the Promise Land which is Heaven.

 

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The guy

As a young teenager I made a list of the characteristics I wanted in a future husband—he had to love me for who I was, he had to be a family man, a good provider, a hard worker, and he had to be 5’7” (since I’m only 5 feet tall, I didn’t want to marry someone who would tower over me). I also wanted to marry an Italian.

I was attracted to different guys, but none of them really fit my criteria. I got engaged to this one guy because I didn’t think the guy I wanted really existed. Then one day he stood in front of me and I knew that it was him. How did I know? Because a thousand voices said, “It’s him!” I had goose bumps and I was at a loss for words.

I ended my engagement and I did everything I could to be where this new guy would be— I wanted him to notice me, and he did! Seven months later we were married.

Today marks his birthday. It’s hard to believe that I have celebrated 31 birthdays with him. We met a few months before his 19th birthday; in fact, this is a picture of him when we celebrated his 19th birthday.

ImageI realize now that our meeting was not “by chance,” it was God’s plan for me to be at the exact time and at the very place where my future husband would be.

Through our nearly 30 years of marriage, we have grown stronger together. He truly is my best friend— he’s the person I talk to when I am sad, happy, or mad.

I am so thankful that God has blessed me with this wonderful guy that I call my husband. Happy birthday, cutie! I love you!

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti