My parents took me to church soon after I was born and I have attended worship services almost every Sunday since.  During those sixty-plus years, I have developed a deep appreciation for the hymns that have played such a vital role in church life.    Many congregations have abandoned these songs for more modern tunes, but I am thankful to be a part of a church that still incorporates them in our early service.

One morning not so long ago I was humming “How Great Thou Art,” thinking through the lyrics as I progressed through the song.  For some reason, the idea dawned on me that I could pray the words.  I sat down with my prayer journal and as I wrote down each phrase I commented to the Lord about how it affected me and my relationship with Him.  I went through each of the verses, but I only touched on the refrain after the first one.

I cannot even begin to say how touched I was by this spiritual exercise.  Since then, my devotional time each morning often includes praying through the words of a hymn, although I don’t always write my prayer down like I did that first day.  Some mornings I ask the Lord which song He would choose for me and I open a hymnal to a random spot.  One day I didn’t know the particular hymns I found on the exposed pages; however, I could still read the lyrics, and they blessed my soul as the Lord knew they would.

Today’s choice was “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”  I looked it up on purpose; it was brought to mind by a Scripture I had read earlier.  Even though this hymn was written by Martin Luther during the 1500s, it still has a message for me today.  Tears filled my eyes as my heart celebrated the God who never fails.

It has been a blessing to use the old hymns in a different way.  Lately, I have learned to utilize nut butters in a new (at least to me) way.  Eastern cuisine is becoming more popular, and some recipes incorporate peanuts and peanut butter in unexpected places.  The current trend to eat healthier has also produced its own following, and it often includes almonds in various forms.  The two recipes this week were out of the range of things I would normally choose, yet each of them turned out to be quite tasty.


Spicy Peanut Coleslaw Dressing

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used low-sodium)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Hot pepper sauce, to taste (optional)

1 (14-16-ounce) package coleslaw blend

Combine peanut butter and brown sugar in small saucepan; heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients.  Heat just to warm.  Toss with coleslaw to coat, as desired.  Refrigerate any remaining dressing.


Broccoli Salad with Creamy Almond Dressing


8 cups small broccoli florets

1/2 cup dried cherries

2-3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives (may use 1 sliced green onion)

1/2 cup slivered (or sliced) almonds, toasted


2 tablespoons light-tasting olive oil (may use canola oil)

1/3 cup frozen orange/pineapple juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons tahini (sesame) paste

3 tablespoons almond butter

1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

Place broccoli, cherries, and chives in large bowl; toss to combine.  Set aside.

Prepare dressing:  Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Pour dressing over broccoli mixture; toss to combine.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours.  Stir in almonds immediately before serving.