Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.


Why Joseph?

As Joel and I approach four months of marriage, I am more grateful than ever to be married to this man. God's design of marriage is a beautiful thing. So I'm not sure why it surprised me--but it did--to think about Joseph and Mary's marriage and to wonder, "Why did they get married in the first place?"

God didn't use the normal setting of marriage to produce a baby--instead, He miraculously caused a virgin to conceive a child. So Mary was pregnant with the Son of God and Joseph was betrothed to Mary, but he was neither her husband nor her baby's father. In fact, if Joseph was never born in some It's-a-Wonderful-Life alternate universe, Jesus would still have been born as the long-awaited Messiah. If Joseph was never born, God's salvation plan for the world would have continued. If Joseph was never born, Mary would have still been required to travel to Bethlehem, since this was also her ancestral town. If Joseph was never born, Mary very well could have raised Jesus as a single mother in her father's house.

But Joseph was born--and God did include him in the Christmas story for crucial reasons.

From the very beginning of time, God created family. He designed marriage and defined it as the union of one man and one woman; He designed children to be born from that union and raised by a mother and a father. This beautiful unit of the family--the "building block of society"--provides a haven of love, stability, and growth, but it also brings glory to God as it pictures the marriage of Christ and the Church and the Father-child relationship between God and us. 

So yes, Jesus very well could have been born into a single-parent home. After all, God is His Father. But Jesus was miraculously born into a two-parent home, through a series of events so perfectly orchestrated and timed, that only God could have brought them to pass. Far be it from me to sum up the magnitude of God's purposes for Joseph, but I marvel at the importance of his role as simply husband and father. Far from being an add-on to the Christmas story, Joseph is a wondrous emphasis on the importance of the family--the man God chose to complete Jesus' earthly family and to illustrate a picture of marriage and fatherhood to the world for the glory of God.

Merry Christmas!

Photo Credit. Used by permission.


Over the River and Through the Woods

Any day spent with people you love is a day for thanks, so our Thanksgiving was doubly wonderful spent with my grandparents at their lake house.  Thanksgiving dawned blissfully peaceful.  We went for a snowy walk along the lake shore in the morning, and then mashed potatoes in the afternoon!

 Grandma prepares the turkey while its delicious aroma draws everyone to the kitchen!

Grandpa carves that bird! 

When the feast was spread out on the table, we held hands and Grandpa led us in prayer, thanking God in his heartfelt, cracking voice for God's gifts in our lives.  We each followed suit, and as three generations thanked God together we shared in our united love for Him.

 After dinner, there were Risk tournaments to be played...

 and pies to be eaten!

 We were able to talk to Mikaela and Joel for a little while on Thanksgiving.  They were spending a wonderful holiday with friends in Maryland, and it was so good to get to share in it with them on that day!

 All day Friday I kept glancing out the window at the storm, and Grandma would ask, "Do we really want to do this?" But we gathered our fortitude and ventured out into a blustery, rainy night to attend the Christmas parade.  We started by warming our hands with coffee and took advantage of a photo op with Frosty!

We were soaked to the skin by the end of the parade, but the Christmas carols and fireworks and memories were worth it! 

 On Sunday afternoon, we were able to spend the afternoon with some wonderful family friends who live near my grandparents.  As you can see, they made us feel instantly at home as they always do when we see them!

 The next day it was time to drive home the way we had come: over the rivers and through the snowy woods, with stomachs and hearts and memories full of Thanksgiving! 


English Tea Scones

Thanksgiving was a new “first:” the first Thanksgiving Joel and I have spent together! It was a special, quiet, calm morning with just the two of us, followed by a drive through landscape dusted with snow before we arrived at the house of friends, who welcomed us with hugs and smiles and delicious food that reminded me exactly of home (except for the sauerkraut, another Thanksgiving first for me, which I ate with relish).

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I experimented with Gluten Free English Tea Scones (also known as English Cream Scones). During my trip to England, I tasted the English version of a scone (and aren’t they the authority on such things?) and was delighted with the toothsome treat I sank my teeth into. It was circular instead of triangular (mere aesthetics, I know, but worth noting nonetheless), and much thicker, fluffier, and richer than the American versions I had sampled and baked.

Once home, I set out to duplicate the English Scone, and found exactly what I was looking for in a little booklet of Yorkshire recipes. According to this booklet, “The essential of a Yorkshire scone is that it is cut into a round not less than 1 inch thick before baking.” This recipe has been the only scone recipe I’ve made since! But for the last six months, I’ve been gluten free, and I wanted to make the same fluffy, tall scone without wheat flour. When Melanie, my sister and expert on all gluten-free recipes, told me that even she had yet to find a stand-out gluten free recipe for scones, I rolled up my sleeves and set to work. The results were delicious, if I do say so myself, and I’m overjoyed to have a good gluten free recipe now.

Whether you’re gluten free or not, keep reading, because I include both recipes here!

Weigh out your flours. This is a far more accurate means of measuring flour in baking, and yields consistent results. This will be a simple endeavor if you're making the regular version, or a slightly more complicated process if you're making the gluten free version!

Add 4 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt

And 1 teaspoon xantham gum if you're making these scones gluten free and stir well.

 These scones are delicious plain, but for added interest, I wanted to add an Earl Gray Tea flavor. Add 3 teaspoons (or more, or less, depending upon your taste!) of tea leaves to 2/3 cup of hot milk and let sit.

Meanwhile, cut 1 stick of cold butter into the dry ingredients.

When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, add 1/2 cup sugar and stir well.
Make a well in the center and drop in 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla
Gradually work in the milk, bringing the flour in from the sides until the dough is smooth and elastic. Do not overwork. (I chose to keep the tea leaves in the milk, but you can strain them out if you wish!)

Chill for at least one hour.
Roll the dough out to one inch thick
Cut into circles using a 2 inch biscuit cutter or into wedges using a pizza cutter
Brush with a beaten egg...
...and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes (gluten version) or 375 for 20+ minutes (gluten free version) until golden. 


English Tea Scones: Regular Version
1 lb Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk 
opt. 3 teaspoons loose leaf tea
1 teaspoon Vanilla 

English Tea Scones: Gluten Free Version
4 oz Tapioca Flour
3.5 oz Potato Starch
2 oz Coconut Flour
3 oz White Rice Flour
1 teaspoon Xantham Gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk 
opt. 3 teaspoons loose leaf tea
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients (excepting sugar) together well. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Make a well in the center, drop in the eggs and vanilla, and gradually work in the milk, bringing in the flour from the sides until the dough is smooth and elastic. Chill for one hour. Transfer to a floured surface and roll or press out lightly to one inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2 inch plain cutter, brush with beaten egg, and place on baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes (gluten version) or 375 for 20+ minutes (gluten free version) until golden. 
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