Trader Joe’s cowgirl bark

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 18 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup Rice Krispies Cereal
  • 1/2 cup pretzels
  • 5 gingersnap cookies, broken into chunks

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Chop the peanuts and almonds, or grind in a food processor for 20 seconds.
  3. Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the chocolate chips until smooth and fully melted.
  4. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate on top of the parchment paper until it is about 1/8″ thick.
  5. Sprinkle the warm chocolate with the dried cranberries, Rice Krispies, chopped nuts, pretzels, and pieces of gingersnap cookie. Press down on the pretzels and cookie pieces to make sure they hold.
  6. Let the bark harden for at least 1 hour or until solid.
  7. Once the bark is hard, remove the parchment paper and cut into chunks.

The Night She Dined with Angels —Mari-Ann Mellville

I had just walked in the door after a long commute from downtown Toronto. The bus had been late, and I was tired. It wasn’t easy working three jobs and raising four active teenagers.Mine were good kids—three girls and a boy—but they were still a lot to handle. Especially for a single parent. I had hoped to come home and find them all quietly doing their homework. That was the deal. But they were running around with the five next-door neighbor children instead. I sighed.My oldest daughter rushed up to me. “Mom, can they stay for dinner?”I didn’t have much planned, just some leftover spaghetti with half a loaf of bread. And only six meatballs. I was already buying on credit from the neighborhood grocer. So a quick shop to fill out the meal wasn’t an option. I put down my things. Tonight of all nights, I thought. I had barely enough to feed my four, but all nine of them?I looked over at the neighbor children. I knew their family situation. They’d lost their mother only a few weeks earlier and needed all the warmth and support I could give. They needed a mother—if only for a night.Other people and prayers had seen me through bad times. A medical scare. Separation from myhusband. Finding a home to raise my children in. Angels hadn’t failed me yet, so I trusted them to get me through this too. I went to the kitchen and opened the cupboard. Please, let there be enough. I had a bit of extra pasta.“Well,” I said to the kids. “This will have to do.” They settled into homework mode while I triedTo work a miracle at the stove.I was still worried when we took our seats to say grace. I didn’t want to send anyone home hungry. At “amen,” the table erupted in a symphony of happy chatter and clinking forks. What a group! They had me laughing so hard, I forgot to keep track of who was eating what.By the end of the meal I felt so much better than when I had first walked through the door, burdened by my troubles. The children had licked their plates clean. We were all full and happy, and grateful for one another’s company. I moved to clear the table with my oldest daughter. My mouth dropped open. Two meatballs sat uneaten on the platter. How was that possible?My daughter put her hand on my shoulder. “What’s wrong, Mom?”“Did everybody eat?”“It was delicious!” the youngest neighbor boy said. “The best meatballs we ever had. If you have any leftovers, can we take them home?”I was astonished. How had I managed to feed everyone? Had the kids cut the meatballs in half? Maybe some of them had only eaten pasta. Or had had a big lunch. There was no logic to it. There hadn’t been enough food at the beginning of the meal, and by the end of it everyone was full. We must have had unseen company, I thought as I said goodbye to the kids. Angels had shared our dinner.That night left me with an overflowing heart and great hope for the future. I sent the leftovers home with the neighbor children for lunch the next day. Things were hard now, but they would get better. For us. For the neighbor children. Because when you dine with angels, there is always enough to go around.

A Perfectly Timed Hymn

A Perfectly Timed Hymn Helped This Postman
by Jeffery Taylor

Overworked and stressed, he worried about his future until he heard a beloved song coming from a house on his route.

Finish this shift, get to the next job, study for midterms, practice the sheet music for church, tuck Matt into bed….

I walked from house to house, delivering mail and tallying the long list of things I needed to get done that day. There was no way I could do it all.

I was an undergrad at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, working two jobs to support myself; my wife, Angie; and our young son. One in the evening, doing retail inventory. The other, working part-time as a substitute postman. With midterms looming, things were piling up. I felt stretched thin. Even my church commitment was complicated these days. Our worship team was pushing the congregation to embrace some contemporary hymns I’d learned on the piano, but folks were reluctant.

I slipped a stack of letters into a mailbox and continued on my route. I had hoped my shift would give me time to sort things out as I walked, but all I could do was worry.

As I walked up the path to the next house, I heard something familiar. Music spilled from the house’s open windows and screen door. As I got closer, I realized it was the same new hymn we had been teaching at my church. I lifted the lid on the mailbox and peeked in through the screen door. A group of young people sat together, singing in harmony. An older man and woman led them, the man playing along with a guitar. It must have been a mission house for the local college.

I lingered on the porch for a second. The music washed over me. Their voices lifted my spirit higher and higher until I was singing along with them. I figured they were too engrossed in their praise to notice. As I sang, the stress I had been carrying subsided. for the first time in months. I felt calm and reassured. It was so perfectly timed, as if this moment had been set up just for me. The song ended in a final, resounding chord.

I quietly left the porch and continued on my route, still humming. My worries would return soon enough, I knew, but in that moment I was free.

The years passed, and with hard work and study, I completed college. After graduation, I continued working for the post office and eventually moved into management. A transfer relocated my family and me to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But with that came a whole new set of worries.

The cost of living in Pennsylvania was higher than what we’d been used to. We were in temporary housing until we found something permanent, but our searches had proved fruitless so far. And we still needed to find a suitable high school for Matt. He’d taken after me with his love of music and become an accomplished saxophonist. Unfortunately, the school system where our temporary housing was located had a terrible music program. Matt was getting discouraged and thinking about quitting.

Once again, I felt weighed down by worries. Had we made the right decision moving to Pennsylvania? Would this place ever feel like home? I hoped that finding a new church would offer some stability. But that was proving difficult too. After visiting nearly a dozen, we still hadn’t found one that felt right.

“Let’s just try one more,” Angie said, looking at our list.

“Okay,” I said, feeling discouraged.

The pastor and his wife showed us around after we attended a few services. The church was nice enough, but I still wasn’t certain.

“How about lunch?” the pastor offered. “We can get to know each other better”..

As we ate, the pastor got on the subject of moments when God shows up in our lives. It felt like ages since I’d experienced something like that. Then I remembered that day on the porch in Birmingham, all those years before.

“I had one of those moments once,” I told the pastor. “A long time ago.” I told him about working as a mailman in Birmingham and how I’d stood on the front porch of a mission house. How the worshippers had sung a favorite hymn of mine, and how singing with them helped me during that difficult time.

“It was just a small thing, but it was a perfectly timed blessing,” I said. Actually, I could use another one of those now, I thought.

I stopped, confused by the look on the pastor’s face.

“Well, I used to work at a mission house in Southside Birmingham,” he said, “and I still remember the day, 11 years ago, when I heard the postman sing with us from the porch.”