He is Holy!

DSC03655 - Version 2

Psalm 99:1, 3(NLT) “The Lord is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! … Let them praise your great and awesome name. Your name is holy!”

Holy, Holy, Holy – Reginald Heber (1826)
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Isaiah 6:3  (NLT) “Attending him were mighty seraphim … They were calling out to each other, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!’”

Songwriters of all times have written about the glory of God’s holiness—which often, and appropriately, results in lofty praise and worship.

Agnus Dei – Michael W. Smith (2000)
Alleluia, Alleluia
For the Lord God Almighty Reigns

Alleluia
Holy, Holy
Are you Lord God Amighty
Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb

You are holy, holy
Are you Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb, Worthy is the Lamb

On earth, we will never have a complete understanding of holiness, maybe not even in Heaven. Words that attempt to describe God’s holiness include pure and clean.  Images that communicate the idea of holiness are things like fresh snow, a mirror without spots, streaks, or warps, an innocent lamb; attaching divine or perfection to the definition is fitting.

But biblically, holiness means so much more. When the Bible speaks of holiness, it means “set apart for sacred use.” In reference to God, it has been referred to as othernesstotally distinct from what we know. In I Exalt You, O God, Jerry Bridges says, “holiness represents the entirety of divine perfection…[it] sets [God] totally apart from us.”

Holy – Jason Morant (2006)
When the lost will be found, when every knee will hit the ground
And we’ll sing Holy, holy is the Lord; Holy, holy is the Lord…
Holy, holy is the Lord; together with one voice
Holy, holy is the Lord; let all the earth rejoice

Holy, there’s no one like You Lord; magnificent You are; Holy, holy is the Lord

The Bible gives us the truest picture of how God describes His holiness.

After God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed over safely away from the Egyptians, they sang: “Who among the gods is like you,  LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” Exodus 15:11.

The Psalmists declared:

Psalm 77:13 “Your ways, God, are holy.  What god is as great as our God?”

Psalm 93:5 “Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days.”

Psalm 96:9 (NLT) “Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor.  Let all the earth tremble before him.”

Psalm 111:1-3, 9   “Praise the LORD! … How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!  All who delight in him should ponder them.  Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.  His righteousness never fails … He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!” [emphasis mine]

When we begin to understand what God’s holiness represents, we have a better understanding of what our sinfulness meansour utter unworthiness to be allowed in His presence, much less receive His mercy and grace. God cannot look upon sin. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sins separate us from God. Isaiah recognized this when he said, “My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty! Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, ‘See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.’”  Isaiah 6:1-5 (NLT).

Yet mercy and grace are exactly what God gives. As God did for Isaiah, He does for us. He loves us so much, that He provided a way for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and our guilt is removed.

After All (Holy) – David Crowder Band (2012)
I will sing a song for you my God with everything I have in me
But it’s never loud enough … after all

Heaven and earth are full, full of your glory, glory
My soul it overflows full of your glory, your glory
O blessed is he who reigns, full of your glory, your glory
My cup, it can’t contain all of your glory, your glory
Hosanna we are found after all you are

Holy, O Holy, Holy; Holy, Holy
I can’t comprehend; You’re infinitely beautiful

His holiness and His great love can captivate our hearts, fill us with humble gratitude, and stir us to declare God’s holiness in our worship, whether in word or deed, or verse, as many inspired songwriters have done. But the highest expression of our love is to fully devote our lives to God.

1 Peter 1:16 “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

Romans 12:1 (NLT) “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

It may seem as if God asks the impossible from us. At times it will be difficult and uncomfortable. Some days we’ll feel like we’ve made a mess of everything. But we must remember that He gives us the desire and the ability to live a life that is different, or set apart, from those around us. Life-change is a process. As we offer our lives to God, we can be confident that He is faithful to complete the work that He began.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT) “God has united you with Christ Jesus.  For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself.  Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.”

Ephesians 5:27 (NLT) “He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.”

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Have you ever stopped to ponder what God’s holiness is like?

Take some time to picture yourself in either of the surroundings described in Isaiah 6:1-7 or Revelation 4.  How you would feel if you were in the throne room of God—in the very presence of His glory—with angels soaring all around declaring to one another the holiness of God.  What would you do?

Always Watching

Yesterday in my quiet time, I was reminded of Psalm 121:3-4, “He will not let you stumble; he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

me and daddy - Version 2When I was four years old, I had my appendix removed. My surgery required an overnight stay in the hospital. I don’t remember a whole lot about it; I do remember being frightened. What I remember most, however, was waking up in the middle of the night—and my daddy sitting in the chair next to my bed. I didn’t need to worry because my daddy was with me, keeping watch.  I was safe with him.

When I recall significant events in my life, this one always comes to mind.  I’m comforted in knowing that just as my daddy sat by my hospital bed when I was a little girl, making sure I was ok, that I knew I wasn’t alone, and that I slept peacefully, my Heavenly Father does the same for me. He is always with me, always watching over me, and replacing my fear and anxiety with His peace when I trust Him with the details of my life.

Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Hebrews 13:5 “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

Psalm 16:8 “I know the Lord is always with me.  I will not be shaken, of the is right beside me.”

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT) “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

Mirroring Glory

IMG_4977I love sunrises, especially over water.  It means getting up early—really early; but it’s worth it. The eastern sky is barely blue, but the fact that light is coming is clearly evident. Eventually, and very slowly, the colors of the clouds begin to change.  Hints of pink and purple slip out from behind them.  Purple turns to red, then to orange. Soon the edges take on that golden, fire-like quality.  All of the clouds in the sky, even those to the west, reflect the glory of the sun to some degree.  But the clouds that are closest to the sun reflect its glory even more.  They are absolutely brilliant!

Just like the clouds in the sky reflect the glory of the sun, God wants us to reflect His glory.  The closer we are to Him, the brighter we shine.  God’s ultimate purpose for our lives is for us to become like Christ (Romans 8:29).  Not because he wants a bunch of “cookie-cutter Christians” walking around.   Neither does He have an insatiable need to control and manipulate.  Instead, He wants us to draw people to Him because of the way we live.

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In the following verses, underline the words and phrases that demonstrate God’s character and His desires.  Why is this meaningful to you?

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 John 4:7-8  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1 Timothy 2:4 “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

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What do the following verses tell us about why God wants us to become like Christ?

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT) For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.”  

God’s desire is for everyone to be saved.  How will they know if we don’t tell them?  How does being a Christian look attractive if we don’t show it by the way we live?

This “becoming” is not an overnight process.  God uses life circumstances—some extremely painful—and His Word to mold us into the people He wants us to be.  When our hearts are pliable, what does the process of suffering produce in us?

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

1 Peter 1:6-7 “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

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Read the following verses and underline the words and phrases that show the purpose of God’s Word in our lives.

 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Ephesians 5:25-26 “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,”

For further reflection:

Ps. 119:105; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 4:12

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The time that you are spending right now in God’s Word washes you clean from the grime of the world.  Sometimes we don’t feel that we are doing a very good job of reflecting Christ to the world.  Maybe we don’t feel that we ever will; but we can be encouraged.

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act to fulfill his good purpose.”

God will not leave His work undone.  He is the One who gives us the desire and ability to be become fully devoted followers of Christ.

Sunrise Saturday morning. - Version 2

All of mankind reflects God’s glory.  Because we are made in His image, we exhibit the glory of God’s creation simply by our existence.  All that man engineers and designs is a display of the creative energy God gave to him.  When we choose to be clay in the Potter’s hands, He will build His character into our lives.  Then we have the great privilege of radiantly reflecting that in a unique way to a hungry, watching world.

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Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to [the Lord] are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

Have you ever watched a sunrise?  If you have, what thoughts went through your mind as you watched the transformation of the sky?  If you haven’t seen one, plan on seeing one soon!

A friend reminded me of something late risers will appreciate.  Howard Hendricks once said, “If God had intended for us to see the sunrise, He would have scheduled it later in the day.”  

A Tale of Two Mirrors

Every day we look in the mirror.  As women, some mornings we wake up feeling kind of blah; we look in the mirror and it is confirmed.  We are not satisfied with the image we see looking back at us.  For those of us who enjoy cosmetics, there are some mornings we may try and “fix” the image with a dab of concealer and a bit of makeup.  Other days we may abandon any hope of improving what we see; basic hygiene will have to do.

What / whom do you see when you look in the mirror first thing in the morning?

Did you consider physical or personal characteristics?  Why do you think that is?  Do you like that?  Why or Why not?

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Several years ago I asked a good friend of mine, how do you get your teeth so white?  (She shared her secret with me!) The next time I was in the personal care section of the grocery store, a certain box of whitening strips found its way into my grocery basket.  I have another friend whose eyes dance with light.  Incredible lashes frame her happy eyes.  She swears by her mascara.  The other day I asked her what kind she uses.  (She texted me a picture.)  Yep, that mascara also came home with me.

There is nothing wrong with using cosmetics.  Personally, I think they are lots of fun.  On certain days, a few swipes of lipstick and mascara can make us look a little less tired than we actually may be.   However, there are days when no amount of touch up makes us feel better about ourselves.  That’s when it’s time to know the truth.

Every day we have the opportunity to look into the mirror of Gods Word.  Only there do we see our true selves—the way God sees us.  In her book, Christ|Life: Embracing Your True and Deepest Identity, Ruth Myers says, “The mirror of God’s Word is a mirror of His Love.”

Read the verses below and underline the words and phrases that demonstrate God’s love for you.  Don’t rush through them; soak in them for a little while.  Then make a note about why each verse is meaningful to you.

Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.’”

Psalm 139:14  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

John 15:15 (NLT) [Jesus is speaking to His disciples.]  “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” 

Hebrews 13:5 (NLT) “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.’”

Ephesians 1:7-8a 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.” 

1 John 3:1a “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!”  

Now–what is the truth that you know?  Would anything have to change in order for you live in this love?  If so, what?

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I read an article from Discipleship Journal many years ago, and I am reminded of it every time I think about how much God loves us.  The visual that Paul Thigpen portrays makes me smile.  The song is new for me.  It is a reminder of the personal nature of God’s love – so sweet that it makes my heart sing!

Excerpt from Paul Thigpen’s article “Our Joyful God”:

God has labored ever since the fall to redeem and heal this broken world; and the work of salvation, like the work of creation, gives Him profound pleasure. The Scripture speaks often of Gods joy in redemption. In the Old Testament, for example, when ancient Israel went astray, He promised to save them, declaring, “I will rejoice in doing them good” (Jer. 32:41). In the New Testament, the parable of the lost sheep describes Gods joy as the Shepherd who delights in recovering even a single stray (Lk. 15:3-7).

Perhaps the most startling of scriptural images in this regard is Zephaniahs picture of God as a mighty warrior who [rejoices] in His victory over sin and in the sinners He reclaims. “The Lord your God is with you,” says the prophet, “he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, . . . he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). The word translated here as “delight” means “mirth, glee, merriment”; and the phrase “rejoice . . . with singing” means literally to “spin around” with [unrestrained] joy, shouting out the triumphant song of a victory celebration!1

Chorus from “Forever Reign,” by Hillsong

Oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
no other Name
Jesus Jesus

Do you have a favorite song that encourages you when you need to be reminded of God’s love?  What are some of the phrases that you love the most.

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My friend with the happy eyes?  Her eyes dance even when she’s not wearing mascara.  Like most of us, she has experienced significant struggles in her life; but the joy of Jesus sparkles in her countenance. 

We may not be overjoyed when we look at the mirror in our bathroom.  But when we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we can know that God is ecstatically excited over us and loves us deeply.

 

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1Discipleship Journal, Issue 124 (July/August 2001) (NavPress, 2001).

Anticipating His Sustaining

The next several days ahead are full – almost overwhelmingly so.  The schedule of a household full of teenagers and their activities is overwhelming on its own.  Adding doctors’ appointments and preparing to go out of town later in the week make things even crazier.  Introduce an unexpected family hospitalization.

I was emotionally tired before I ever sat down in my “special chair” for my quiet time this morning.  As the Lord took me through His Word, however, He reminded me that He would strengthen me as I go through the day. 

Philippians 3:10 was especially meaningful.  “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings…”

The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains “to know Christ” means “to know by experience.”  Paul wanted to “share in the suffering of Christ”–but he also wanted to know the sustaining power of God through the suffering.

As far as I know, today is not going to be filled with terrific suffering for me personally.  (I don’t know; maybe it will be.)  I know today will be difficult, but I have a new perspective.  My mindset is to “watch” for God’s sustaining strength, but I probably won’t recognize it until the day is finished. Starting the day, knowing that He will walk me through it, lifts the weight of the emotional burden.

Other comforting Scriptures from this morning include Psalm 23 and Psalm 91.

Come With Me

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place”  (Mark 6:31-32).

Many times throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus pulled away from the crowds to be alone with His Father.  He taught His disciples to do the same. The above Scripture refers to a time when the disciples were weary both physically and emotionally.  They had recently returned from exhilarating and exhausting missionary journeys, followed by the death and burial of their friend, John the Baptist. Jesus knew that their most significant need was  rest—away from the demands of ministry and the people’s clamoring for attention.  So He told them to come away with Him.

What about you?  Do you ever, or maybe I should say, how often do you find yourself so busy that you do not even have time to eat?  My answer, pretty often!

It is easy to become drained by the daily duties of life, overwhelmed by the monster troubles that sometimes assail us, even weary from the work of ministry.  All of it can take a toll on our hearts, minds, bodies—and our relationships. When they do, we—need—rest. Both physically and spiritually.  We cannot hope to cope without it.

I am driven to finish, driven to finish well (and first!), driven to get more done than thought possible. Lists are my friends, technology my best friend.  What I can accomplish with a list on my iPhone is simply amazing. Do you know what else driven means?  Perfectionistic, cranky, anxious, impatient, angry, frustrated, and controlling.  The opposite of the fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22.  With all that is to be done, finding rest can be tricky.  If I have any hope of reflecting the character of Christ, however, I must find a way.

I know for sure that the only place I can find rest for my soul is in Jesus. When my soul is at rest, I manage my schedule more effectively, and that ensures physical rest.   Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus is not telling us to stop working. He is telling us that there is a way to work efficiently without becoming weary and burdened.  He’s saying, “Don’t work harder, work better!” It begins by following Jesus to a quiet, solitary place on a daily basis.

My schedule is packed full; so for me, there is nothing quite like the stillness of the early morning.  Much like Newton’s First Law of Motion [unless acted upon with force, an object at rest stays at rest; and an object in motion stays in motion], once my day’s activities start, it takes significant effort (force, even) for me to slow down and stop.

Morning works for me.  You have to figure out what works for you.  When you give undistracted time to Jesus, He can still your mind and give you the direction you need.  You have to find your time and your place whenever you can.  Early morning might not be the best time for you.  It might be when your kids are napping or after your family has gone to bed.

Daily time with the Lord will go a long way toward giving you the mental and emotional rest you need to face each day.  Sometimes, however, we need extended time away from our regular routine.  At the end of every year, my sister takes a personal retreat to have undistracted time with the Lord and to evaluate different aspects of her life.  It helps her focus on how she’s grown spiritually and what she feels God wants to accomplish in her life in the New Year.

Often a church’s women’s ministry will sponsor a weekend retreat. Time to escape the mundane activities associated with home life, to enjoy the fellowship of believing friends, and to be refreshed spiritually.  Opportunities for solitude may include an early morning quiet time with a view from a panoramic window, a walk through a sunny field, or a quiet moment on a bench near a stream.  You might even be able to catch a much-needed nap without children interrupting your sleep.

Maybe you can’t get out of town at this time in your life.  Is there a quiet park nearby?  On occasion, I enjoy grabbing a mug of coffee and taking it with me for a walk on a nearby nature trail.  Usually no one is there but me, and there are lots of pretty flowers along the way.  It’s a great environment for a “prayer walk.”  If you like to run, load your tunes player with praise music, and spend 30 minutes worshiping the Lord while you work out some frustration on the pavement.  Maybe digging in the dirt is your thing.  Here in Texas, Spring is around the corner. Do your flower beds need some attention before spring planting?  Pulling weeds can be a great opportunity to talk to the Lord about the things that are heavy on your heart and mind.

It is not easy carving out a chunk of time to get away; but if you can, the results are definitely worth it.

We are well into 2014—maybe even in the shadow of New Year’s Resolutions.  (Do you remember yours?  I admit; one of mine is still fresh, the other—not so much.  It already needed some dusting off.)  While it’s still early, if you haven’t committed to daily, personal time with the Lord – do so NOW!  Don’t put it off.  Maybe this blog entry can be a force, bringing your motion of activities to a halt.  If you are so busy that you do not even have time to eat, do whatever it takes to get away!  The Lord will give you the rest you need.  Yoke yourself to Him in order to accomplish what He wants you to accomplish, in His strength.

Remember the Psalmist’s reminder:  “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalms 46:10).   Let the Lord be exalted in your life!  As you live restfully, you will reflect the beautiful, peaceful character of Christ.

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Chorus from “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)”

In you I rest, in You I found my hope
In you I trust, You never let me go
I place my life within your hands alone
Be still, my soul 

It’s Time to Start Thinking about Fruitcake!

IMG_5115

Although it is STILL in the 90s in the Houston area, it IS time to start planning for fruitcake.   Why, do you ask?  Because they are a tad expensive, especially when you make a lot of them and give them as gifts.  If you stock up on the basics early, when the fruit is finally available, you can purchase it without needing to take out a small loan!

True, the majority of people don’t like fruitcake.  I maintain that they simply haven’t had good fruitcake.  And mine is wonderful!  More than twenty years ago, I was inspired by my dh and a dear family friend to begin making my own fruitcake.  Growing up, when the calendar flipped from November to December, our family began the expectant wait for Barbara’s holiday gift.  My parents still do!  After having had some of hers, Tim encouraged me to try my hand at it.  I’m a pretty decent cook, so how hard could it be, right?   Thus began my hunt for the “just right recipe”.  I still have a vivid picture of my first fruitcake.  It was dark, lumpy, and tasted terrible.  I’m sure we were still newlyweds, because Tim thought it was fabulous – at least that’s what he told me.  ;-)  I kept trying and eventually found this recipe.   I’ve tweaked it a bit.  It is a favorite among my family and friends who are fruitcake fanatics.

A couple of years ago, my daughters joined in the fun of what’s become known in our home, as Fruitcake Day.  It’s a day-long project and labor intensive, so it provided a great opportunity for us to enjoy quality time together and for them to learn some new baking techniques.  I was going to post this on Facebook, but then I thought, What the heck, I have a blog!  This  makes for something a little different.  Who knows!  I might even add another dish or two down the road.  :D

Light Fruitcake

This recipe is modified slightly from Southern Living’s 1994, Our Best Christmas Recipes.

INGREDIENTS
1½ lb. yellow, green, and red candied pineapple, coarsely chopped (3 3/4 cups)
1 lb. red and green candied cherries, halved (2 1/2 cups)
¼ lb. diced citron (1/2 cup)
3 cups pecan halves
1½ cups golden raisins
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon extract
7 large eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
Good Cream Sherry

(Note:  The original recipe calls for brandy.  But I’ve found that sherry deepens the flavor and adds a unique sweetness to this cake.)

DIRECTIONS

  1. If using a tube pan, draw a 10-inch circle on a piece of brown paper, using your pan as a guide. (Do not use recycled paper.) Cut out circle. Set tube pan insert in enter of circle, and draw around inside tube; cut out smaller circle.  If using loaf pans, draw rectangles on your brown paper, using your pans as a guide.  Grease 1 side of paper and set aside. Heavily grease and flour pan(s); set aside.
  2. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; sprinkle with 1/2 cup flour, tossing to coat fruit and nuts. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in flavorings. Beat egg yolks; add yolks to butter mixture alternately with 3 cups flour, beginning and ending with flour. (Batter will be very thick.) Stir fruit mixture into batter. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan(s). Cover pan(s) with paper, greased side down. (This will prevent cake from overbrowning during extended baking time.) Bake at 250 F. for 4 hours or until a wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean.  (Note: for loaf pans, I bake them between 300-325 F. And they take about 3 hours.)
  5. Remove cake from oven; remove and discard paper.  Slowly pour some cream sherry evenly over warm cake; let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  (Note:  “Some” = however much makes you happy!  I usually use about 1/8 cup or a little more per loaf pan.)
  6. Remove cake from pan; place cooled cake on a large sheet of good quality plastic wrap. Pour a little more sherry on it, wrap up tightly, and store in an airtight container. Repeat once a week for three weeks. Then GIFT or bring to your Holiday parties!

Yield: one 10-inch cake OR 2 large loaves.