"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

--- Isaiah 40:31

Thanksgiving Lessons from The Farm at Muncy

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Encouragement, Thanksgiving, The Farm at Muncy | 5 comments

115824008Through the lace curtains at my kitchen window, I watch the first snowflakes—as big as goose feathers—fall from the gray November sky.  Scents of cinnamon and pumpkin waft through the room when I open the oven, and when my eyes catch sight of the oil lamp on the cherry farmhouse table, my thoughts follow the curving lane to the old farmhouse where Alice and Ed, my maternal grandparents, raised their children during the Great Depression.

Although my parents moved hundreds of miles away after their marriage, my mother’s thoughts frequently traveled to her childhood home.  She loved nothing better than to gather my siblings and me next to her as she told us about her childhood on the farm near Muncy, Pennsylvania—stories I treasured and passed on to my own little ones.

Mother spoke of a life filled with an abundance of indoor and outdoor chores and of nearby relatives who frequently stopped by on Sunday afternoons to visit.

When harsh winds rattled the shuttered windows and blew swirling snow across the barren fields, it was the kitchen that was the center of Mother’s family’s life, mostly because it was the only room in the house that was heated.  Family and guests gathered there, the old single-pane windows covered with condensation as much from conversation as from the heat of the wood burning cook stove where a chicken roasted in the oven.

The old farmhouse, which originally belonged to Ed’s parents, had no electricity, indoor plumbing, or central heat.  Bathtubs, toilets, and even a kitchen sink were non-existent.  Things weren’t any better outside.  Three Belgian work horses—Fred, Maude, and Prince—pulled the plow and heavy wagons.  Faith and a person’s own strength and determination kept the farm going when the economy and adverse weather interfered.  Although parents and children worked hard from early morning to evening, my mother’s stories were never ones of complaining.

The day before Thanksgiving, Grandma Alice, bundled up against the raw wind, killed and dressed well-fed turkeys for customers from town who gave their orders weeks in advance.  Once all of the poultry orders were filled, Alice killed the turkey she would cook for her own family.  After Grandpa Ed finished the outdoor chores, he opened the old dovetailed chest in the guest bedroom and pulled out his hunting clothes.  After dinner, he sharpened his knife on a stone and cleaned his gun.  The days immediately after Thanksgiving were hunting days and Ed needed to hunt game to help supplement his family’s food supply.

The Great Depression was in full force and money was scarce for my mother’s family.  Mother often said that while she and her siblings were growing up, they never realized how primitively they lived on the farm.  A person can’t miss what they don’t know, she explained.

Something inside my heart was soothed when Mother spoke of the contentment that was felt at the end of each day when the family gathered at the dinner table and her father thanked the Lord for His generous provisions.  Grandpa Ed and Grandma Alice made it clear to their children that, but for the Lord’s benevolence, their harvests would be small and their needs large.

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My grandparents have long since gone to be with the Lord, and their farm has changed hands several times since they sold it.  But my mother’s stories taught me that when a family realizes that they’re dependent upon the Lord to provide for all of their needs—as well as their blessings—every day is thanksgiving day.

May your Thanksgiving Day be joyous, may you be surrounded by your loved ones, and may you give thanks and praise to the One who provides for your every need.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.  Deuteronomy 8:10 (NIV)

To God be the Glory

Cynthia Howerter © 2011, 2012, 2013

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Book Giveaway and Interview with Elaine Cooper, Part 2

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in Books & CDs | 4 comments

9781938499920Welcome back for Part 2 of my interview with Author Elaine Cooper!

What makes writing your novels the most fun for you? 

I LOVE research that reveals little known pieces of history.  For instance, the Patriots in the colony of Massachusetts would paint the chimneys white at the homes of local Loyalists (they called them “Tories”).  It was quite a stigma in a town of patriotic enthusiasts!

 

How do you get your ideas for your stories, Elaine?  And when you write, are you a “pantser” (seat-of-the-pants writer) or do you first plot out your story?

My favorite story ideas are little known incidents from history that seem to beg to be told.  While I have an over-arching plot from beginning to end, I do not usually outline.  I love to watch my characters grow and situations emerge that, sometimes, even I didn’t know were going to happen.  LOL!  My characters sometimes write their own scenes.

 

We love to learn something fun about authors!  Do you have a pet?  If so, tell us a little about it.

The Cooper household is known for always having pets.  Our furry family was quite complete a few years ago with two dogs and a cat, when I stopped in at a “Pet Adoption Day” at a local pet store.  This sad-looking, overweight dachshund won my heart, especially when people laughed and called her a “sausage.”  That irked me!  Long story short, my husband who said, “We’re NOT getting another pet!” was quickly won over, and Tooni is still a happy member of our family!

 

Fields of the Fatherless  is your fourth published novel!  Please tell us the titles of your other three books (which are all available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble).

The Road to Deer Run (Book 1 of the Deer Run Saga)

The Promise of Deer Run (Book 2)

The Legacy of Deer Run (Book 3)

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed Parts 1 and 2 of my interview with Author Elaine Cooper.  Isn’t she a delightful person!

 

Book Giveaway Contest information for Fields of the Fatherless :

 

Elaine Cooper is generously putting up one autographed copy of her newest novel, Fields of the Fatherless, for Soar With Eagles’  Book Giveaway Contest To enter a chance to win this book, you must:  1) be a Soar With Eagles  subscriber, and 2) you must also leave a brief comment.

 

To subscribe to Soar With Eagles, please follow the instructions at the top of the right column.  Please note that after providing your information, you will immediately receive an email from “Feedburner Subscriptions.”  You will need to open this email and click on the link in order to finalize your FREE subscription.

 

The Book Giveaway Contest has begun and will end at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 25, 2013, with the winner announced on SWE  that day.

 

Please note:  due to the cost of international mailing, the author regretfully must limit the book giveaway to people living within the United States.

 

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Novelist Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run.  Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction.  She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels.  Fields of the Fatherless  released in October 2013.

 

Don’t forget to visit Elaine’s website at:  http://www.elainemariecooper.com

Be sure to find Elaine on Twitter:  @elainemcooper

and on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/ElaineMarieCooperAuthor

 

To purchase a copy of  Fields of the Fatherless, click on these links:  Amazon.com (for both paperback and Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (for paperback).

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

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Book Giveaway for “Fields of the Fatherless” and Interview with Author Elaine Cooper

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Books & CDs | 15 comments

I love to acquaint my readers with novels written by Christian authors.  Why?  For no other reason than before I became a Christian writer, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Christian novels.

I fell in love with the very first novel I read that was written by a Christian author.  In fact, as soon as I finished it, I read it a second time.

Just pages into its first chapter, I put the book on my lap and sat with my mouth hanging open—who knew there were beautifully written novels of the same high quality as well-known secular writers but without the sleaziness that made me cringe?!

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If you’ve never read a novel written by a Christian writer, let me challenge you to try one.  In fact, let me introduce you to the very gifted author Elaine Cooper whose book, Fields of the Fatherless,  I’m featuring in the Book Giveaway Contest.

 

 

Welcome to Soar With Eagles, Elaine!  Please tell us what genre you write, and why did you choose it?

I write historical fiction and historical romance.  I grew up in Massachusetts and have long been a “History Geek!”  I have many fond memories of visiting historic sites both as a child and adult.  Writing historical fiction seemed a natural transition since I love to write and love the history of the beginnings of our country.

 

Please give us a brief description of your new novel. 

Fields of the Fatherless  is historical fiction set in 1775 and is based on actual events and persons from history.  Betsy Russell is an 18-year-old woman facing the unthinkable:  War coming to their peaceful village of Menotomy, Massachusetts.  Struggling to deal with fear, hatred and bitterness, Betsy’s emotional and spiritual journey takes unexpected paths.

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Fields of the Fatherless by Elaine Marie Cooper

 

 

How do you select a setting for your novels?  Do you ever travel to the place where your novel is set to do research?

I usually select a person or incident from history and that determines the setting.  And yes, I travel back to Massachusetts for my research since there is nothing like walking on the paths that were trodden years before by my book’s characters.  It definitely captures the feel for the times and is so inspiring!

 

Thank you, Elaine, for letting us learn some of the behind-the-scene information!  Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of my interview with Elaine.

 

Elaine Cooper is generously putting up one autographed copy of her newest novel, Fields of the Fatherless, for a Book Giveaway Contest here at Soar With Eagles.  To enter a chance to win this book, you must 1) be a Soar With Eagles  subscriber, and 2) you must also leave a brief comment.

The Book Giveaway Contest starts now!  And will end at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 25, 2013, with the winner announced on SWE  that day.

Please note:  due to the cost of international mailing, the author regretfully must limit the book giveaway to people living within the United States.

 

Be sure to visit Elaine’s website at:  http://www.elainemariecooper.com

You can find Elaine on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/ElaineMarieCooperAuthor

Elaine can be found on Twitter:  @elainemcooper

 

To subscribe to Soar With Eagles, please follow the instructions at the top of the right column.  Please note that after providing your information, you will immediately receive an email from “Feedburner Subscriptions.”  You will need to open this email and click on the link in order to finalize your FREE subscription.

To God be the Glory

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Henry’s Visits To The Farm At Muncy

Posted by on Nov 18, 2013 in Encouragement, The Farm at Muncy | 24 comments

Through the years, my husband and I have acquired possessions that have both a function and a history.  For example, the tall case clock in our dining room not only informs us of the time in fifteen minute intervals, but it also reminds us of my father-in-law’s love of wood and how he painstakingly built the clock in his workshop.  Even small household items have a large capacity to resurrect special memories.  That’s true of one of my favorite kitchen tools—a microplane grater.  Each time I hold it in my hand to grate whole nutmegs or hard cheeses, treasured memories return to me.

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As a highly curious ten-year-old, I wondered what country my mother’s family originally came from.  Neither my mother nor her mother knew the answer.  However, it was a question I couldn’t forget, and I knew that someday, somehow I would find the answer.

Nearly twenty-five years later, my husband, children, and I moved to a new city, and I had a lot of free time on my hands—time to begin searching for the answer to my long-held question.  Although it wasn’t easy acquiring information about people who were no longer living, genealogy became my passion, and my inquisitiveness expanded from learning not only where my family originated, but when and why they immigrated to America.

On the internet, I came across a post on a historical society website from a man named Henry who had genealogical information on Philip and Sarah Snyder, my great-great-grandparents—whose information I couldn’t find.  The only way to contact Henry was by writing to his home address, so I quickly mailed a letter to him explaining how I was related to Philip and Sarah, and offered to share my research with him if he was willing to share his with me.

Henry answered my letter and asked me to phone him.  I called and learned that not only were we distant cousins, but that Henry had known my maternal grandparents, Alice and Ed, whose farm was located close to his parents’ farm near Muncy, Pennsylvania.  We’d only talked for several minutes when he paused and told me that my voice sounded like Alice’s.

“Really?”

“Yes.  Your voice sounds just like hers.”

No one had ever told me that, and I realized that Henry had just given me a lovely gift.  I had adored my grandmother, and now I learned that I’d inherited her endearing voice.

As we continued talking, Henry and I discovered that we each had genealogical information about numerous relatives that the other needed, and we agreed to share.

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Henry confided a great concern of his.  For over 40 years, he’d spent every vacation traveling to court houses, historical societies, churches, cemeteries, and libraries to locate important but hard-to-find genealogical information, and he had recorded all of it in meticulous, highly detailed, handwritten notes.  But now Henry was in his eighties and in poor health, and his children had no interest in their father’s painstaking research—research that proved their family history back to the 1600s in Europe.  Once he passed on, Henry believed his children would throw away all of his research papers because they saw no value in them.

Henry asked if I had any suggestions as to how his research could be preserved and enjoyed by others.  Having recently compiled and printed several genealogical books, I offered to send a copy to Henry to see if a book format was what he envisioned for his research.  Henry gladly accepted my offer, and after he’d read my book, he called and asked what I would charge him to compile his research into a book.

I told Henry that I usually charged $10.00 per hour.  There was a pause as he thought over my price. “I’m not sure I can afford that.”

“I can work with you on the price.”

There was a long silence before he spoke again.  “Well, all right.  This is my life’s work, and I know if it’s not printed in a book, my kids will just throw out all of my research papers once I’m dead.  The thought of that happening is more than I can bear.”

I told Henry that I’d keep track of the hours I spent typing his work into my computer program, and that we’d settle the bill when I finished the project.  Henry was agreeable.

A week later, Henry mailed a box to me that contained a three-inch stack of his research papers.  I assumed this was his entire collection.  I shuffled through the papers like they were a long-awaited Christmas gift, squealing with delight as I perused the incredible information that Henry had uncovered.  Even though he had never been educated above high school, Henry researched like an accomplished academician.

I began typing each word of Henry’s brilliant research into my computer’s genealogy program.  After two days, the tips of my fingers were inflamed from long hours spent tapping the keyboard—and I’d only recorded twenty of the three hundred papers that he’d sent, each page with information printed on the front and back.

The following week, a second and larger box arrived from Henry.  Believing the first box contained all of Henry’s research, I was shocked to discover a four-inch stack of additional information in this second box.

As I looked through this set of papers, I was overcome with emotion as I learned the answers to my questions.  Henry had uncovered information about the lives of relatives who had lived before me—ancestors who, as young adults in their teens and early twenties, left their parents, siblings, homes, and all that was familiar to them in the Palatinate to escape the ravages of war.

They survived treacherous ocean crossings on small disease-ridden ships only to arrive in Philadelphia to discover that they were despised because they, being Germans, could not Englisch sprechen (speak English).

Being farmers, they discovered the only land available was on Pennsylvania’s dangerous frontier.  There, they claimed and cleared forested land and built log homes.  They married and had families—only to have their wives and children massacred by Indians or killed by wild animals.  Some lost all of their children in less than a week to illnesses they could not treat.

But they persevered, thanks to their deep faith in God and the fact that they had no financial means to move elsewhere.  These were my ancestors—people who, generation by generation, paved the way for my children and me to have a better life.

Thinking the two boxes contained the extent of Henry’s research, I almost cried when additional boxes, each containing hundreds of papers, arrived weekly for the next six weeks.  Now I understood why Henry was so worried about what could happen to his life’s investigative research.

Because I wanted to be certain that I was accurately reading Henry’s handwriting, we spoke almost daily on the phone for many months.  Each call gave me more glimpses into family members and ancestors.

Henry told me all about how he and his father used to visit my maternal grandparents’ farm.  Henry had dearly loved both of my grandparents and shared many lovely stories about them.

I learned that my Grandpa Ed was a godly man who treated everyone respectfully and fairly.  Ed was a man of his word, and always quick to help someone with a need.

And Grandma Alice made everyone who visited the farm feel welcome and special.  “Come visit and stay long,” Henry said she would say.

Because I had grown up in another state and usually wasn’t able to spend more than one or two weeks a year with my grandparents, Henry opened windows and doors for me about Grandma Alice and Grandpa Ed from a perspective that was different from that of my mother’s relationship to her parents.

Each time we spoke, Henry asked if I was done putting the information into the computer.  I couldn’t help but hear disappointment in his voice each time I told him the project required many more hours.  However, as the weeks turned into months, I realized I was hearing something more than disappointment in Henry’s voice, but I wasn’t sure what it was.

One day, Henry shared with me how he and his father William owned the only threshing machine in the area during the 1930s.  The local farmers paid Henry and his father to bring the machine to their farms to thresh their grain crops so they wouldn’t have to thresh by hand, a slow and labor-intensive process.

Henry told me about a summer during the Great Depression when Grandpa Ed didn’t have enough money to pay Henry and William for threshing, but Henry and his dad threshed for Grandpa Ed anyway, knowing that Ed and Alice risked losing the farm if they couldn’t thresh their crops.

As we got to know each other, Henry talked about himself and how, after serving in the Army in Europe during World War II, he’d worked as a laborer all his life, never earning much, but providing for his family the best he could.  And always, always seeking answers to his burning questions of who had come before him and what kind of people were they.

Finally, after ten months, I completed recording Henry’s research and made arrangements to have several books printed.

Now it was time for Henry to pay me for my work and he asked what he owed me.  Listening to his voice, I finally understood what I’d been hearing every time I’d told Henry I needed many more hours to complete his project:  fear.  Fear of not being able to pay me.

“Henry, you owe me nothing because you’ve already paid me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, it’s really simple.  Your research answered my questions and gave me the heritage that I never knew.

“I never had a chance to know Grandma Alice and Grandpa Ed well because I lived in another state.  There’s a lot I never knew about them.  That is, until you told me the stories of the times you spent with them.  Without you, I would never have known my voice sounds just like Grandma Alice’s did.”

“It truly does, Cynthia.”

“And had it not been for you and your dad threshing for free that one summer, my grandparents may have lost their farm, their livelihood.

“I have a saying that I tell my children:  ‘Be kind to others and that kindness will be returned to you.’  Henry, your kindness to my grandparents sixty-seven years ago just came back to you.  I’m so happy I could help you finish your 40-year-old project—your life’s work.  And I’m really glad I’ve gotten to know you.”

Henry said nothing, and I knew why—I could hear him crying.

A week later, a check for $14.00 arrived in the mail from Henry.  The handwritten note said it was all he could afford, but he just wanted to pay me something for my work.  I knew I would insult Henry by returning the money, so, because I love to cook, I went to the cooking store and bought a tool that I really needed—a microplane grater.  And every time I use it, I like to think it helps make the food I’m preparing extra special.  But, more than its function, it has a history—and it always makes me think of Henry and what he did for me.

Henry Snyder, 1918-2004

Henry, you are loved and greatly missed, and your life’s work has a special place in my heart and my bookcase.

 

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

Dear Readers,

I am in need of your help.  As I write my first historical fiction novel, I have been informed that publishers want to see a large subscriber following on the author’s website in order for the publisher to even consider publishing a new novel for that author.  If you enjoy my writing, please consider telling others about my articles on Soar With Eagles.  Thank you so very much for your loyalty to my writing.  Please know how much you and your encouraging comments mean to me.  As always, I continue to work hard at improving my writing in order to touch your heart with uplifting articles.

Gratefully, Cynthia Howerter

To God be the Glory

 

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Sharing Favorite Thanksgiving Memories & Recipes With You

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in Thanksgiving | 6 comments

152027355Almost ninety years ago, my maternal grandparents, Alice and Ed, began celebrating Thanksgiving Dinner with their little ones in their old farmhouse near Muncy, Pennsylvania.

Through the years, my grandparents and their children encountered many difficult and sometimes overwhelming situations, but God never failed to provide for their family’s basic needs.  It’s an eternal promise that God makes to all believers.

Perhaps you’re in the midst of a tough time and unable to see anything good in your life.  Maybe you’re wondering what you have to be thankful for.  If you’re reading this, I can immediately think of one thing God is blessing you with this very moment:  you are breathing.  Sometimes our thankfulness has to begin with something as basic as recognizing that we are alive.  And as long as we’re alive, there is always hope for better times.

Television, newspapers, and social media try hard to convince us that Thanksgiving is a time set aside for parades, football games, and shopping.  May you and your family gather together on Thanksgiving Day, remembering the real reason for celebrating this special holiday:  Give thanks to the Lord for all of the innumerable blessings He has bestowed upon each of us during this past year.

Come, join my family and me as we remember and celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

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With Thanksgiving just days away, I’d love to share several of my family’s favorite recipes with you:

After dining at one of Colonial Williamsburg’s taverns many years ago, my mother arrived home with a new turkey dressing recipe.  It’s been a family favorite ever since.

Williamsburg Oyster Dressing

1 cup butter

1½ cups onion, chopped

1½ cups celery, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

16 cups stale white bread cubes, lightly toasted

1 quart oysters

Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet.  Add onion, celery, and parsley; sauté over medium heat until vegetables are tender.  Do not brown.  Add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Place the bread cubes in a large bowl.  Add the sautéed vegetables, and mix well.  Drain the oysters, reserving the liquid.  Chop the oysters coarsely, and add to the bread cube mixture, tossing gently to mix well.  Add a little of the reserved oyster liquid if the dressing seems dry.  Taste for seasoning.  Stuff and truss the turkey.  Place any leftover dressing in a buttered casserole.  Bake in the oven during the last 30 minutes of the turkey’s roasting time.

Yield:  makes about 12 cups – enough for a 20-25 pound turkey.

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Ever since our children were little, our family has enjoyed drinking a special beverage along with our holiday meals.  At Christmas, it’s Wassail.  For Thanksgiving, this colonial recipe is a proven winner!

King’s Arms Tavern Berry Shrub Beverage

3 cups cranberry juice

¾ cup apple juice

1 pint raspberry sherbet

8 sprigs fresh mint, for garnish

In a large pitcher, combine the cranberry and apple juices; chill thoroughly.  Serve in tall glasses and top each drink with a scoop of sherbet.  Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint.  Serves 8.

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Nearly ninety years ago, my Grandma Alice began a family tradition when she prepared several Thanksgiving desserts for her large family on their Pennsylvania farm.  Grandma Alice’s tradition continues three generations later!  Along with pecan and pumpkin pies, we sometimes serve this swirled pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

Filling:

¼ cup sugar

1 cup sour cream

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 large egg

 

Bread:

2 2/3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup water

1 16-ounce can pumpkin

4 large eggs

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9×5-inch loaf pans and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes); set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, and eggs.  Beat at low speed, scrapping bowl often, until mixture is smooth (1 to 2 minutes).  Continue beating at medium speed, gradually adding all remaining bread ingredients and scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes).  Place about 1 cup of the pumpkin batter into the bottom of each of the two greased and floured loaf pans.  Carefully spread half of the filling mixture over the batter in each pan; top each pan with half of the remaining pumpkin batter.  Pull knife or spatula through the batter and filling to create a swirl effect.  Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool bread for 10 minutes before removing from the pans.  Cool completely.

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Then we Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will thank You forever and ever, praising Your greatness from generation to generation.  Psalm 79:13 (NLT)

To God be the Glory

 

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