Be Well!

Wassail is a delicious beverage made from hot apple cider and mulling spices, and has been associated with Christmas and the New Year as far back as the 1400s. An annual tradition of passing on good wishes among family and friends, wassail was (and still is) part of the English Yuletide celebration of “wassailing”, the practice of going door-to-door and singing songs of joy and blessings to the neighbors.

Wassail gets its name from the Old English term “waes hael”, meaning “be well”, and it was a Saxon custom that during the Yuletide celebration, the lord of the manor would shout the blessing to his gathered friends and family. So, whether you’re planning to carry a thermos and a few styrofoam cups as you go door-to-door in song or just open up your home to family and friends for a holiday celebration, this recipe will provide them with a wonderfully delicious cup of wassail!

Wassail (Hot Spiced Cider)


1 gallon apple cider or apple juice
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
4 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice


In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, combine the first 5 ingredients. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice equally in 2 or 3 coffee filters. Bring up the edges of the filters and secure each with a small, clean rubber-band. Add to the pan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until flavors are blended (do not boil). Discard the spice bags.


No matter the time of the year, there is nothing more beautiful than to be able to bless someone in the Name of the Lord. In fact, the lyrics from one of the most popular wassailing carols goes like this:

“Love and joy come to you,
and to you your wassail too,
and may God bless and send you
a happy new year,
and God send you
a happy new year.”

The writer of this song may or may not have known that the real source of love and joy is only found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray this is true for you, however, and that God, our Heavenly Father, will bless you abundantly as you live a life dedicated to His Son, the One who died to save you.

And with that, I will shout “Waes hael!” “Be well!” Or even better, 3 John 1:2: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul!”

– Cheri Henderson

When life hands you lemons, just hand ’em over!

The Lemonade Maker
There’s nothing like an ice-cold glass of homemade lemonade to help you cool off on a hot summer day.

Refreshing and delicious, lemonade is easy to make and, unlike the powdered instant varieties, contains no preservatives or artificial flavorings!

Homemade Lemonade
Serves 6

10-12 lemons at room temperature (plus 4 or 5 more for garnishing if desired)
1½ cups sugar (2 cups if you like it really sweet)
6 cups water, divided

Wash lemons and then roll them on a hard surface until they become soft.
Zest 2-3 lemons and set aside.

In a pot over medium heat, add sugar, lemon zest and 2 cups of water. Simmer lightly for about 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and the mixture has a light yellow color. Do not boil. Remove from heat.

Juice the lemons to come up with 2 cups of lemon juice. If you don’t have a citrus juicer or a reamer, cut the lemon in half crosswise, hold half in one hand, push a fork into the center and twist.

Strain the lemon juice into a large pitcher and then strain the sugar mixture into the large pitcher. Add in 4 cups of cold water.

Taste-test and if the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

Serve in chilled glasses with some lemon slices and ice (or lemonade ice cubes if you’re ambitious and want to make a batch just for that purpose!)  Or freeze some fresh strawberries in advance and add them along with the ice cubes!

Store remaining lemonade in the frig; will keep for up to 3 days.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Have you ever heard the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade?” As over-used as this phrase has become, the saying holds a lot of truth . . . in part. Unfortunately, in our humanness, when faced with a difficult situation or a painful experience, we’re usually too incapacitated by the burden or encumbered by the pain to find the sugar . . . let alone measure it out and pour it into the bitter recipe that’s facing us.  We’re really not able to do it on our own, and so, I believe this saying is lacking a sentence. It should read:  “When life hands you lemons, hand them over to God.  He is the consummate lemonade maker.”

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Has life recently handed you some lemons? If so, I encourage you to hand them over to God, wait, and “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.” (James 1:2-4) It may be a quick fix . . . or it could take a lifetime. Only the Lemonade Maker knows the time that will be required.  But like a little child, as your Father works on your behalf, just cling to His apron, hide in His shadow, and listen to Him sing. I am your hiding place; I will protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7)

— Cheri Henderson