Disappear From Sight

MyBoy
First time seeing Josh after 7 weeks of BEAST training at West Pont.

Have you ever had to eat your words?

I’m sure I have, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind.  Perhaps, even if I could, I wouldn’t share as “eating your words” is considered quite distasteful.

Often, the words we have to eat are bitter.

I believe the words we say never disappear.  They linger and take their abode within the minds of those who hear.

I remember the day, Corinne and I left Josh, our son, at West Point.  As a new cadet, he was about to enter basic training, or “BEAST BARRACKS” as it is referred to at West Point.  Beast Barracks is a 7-week program designed to transform young men and women into cadets worthy enough to be sanctioned Plebes, the lowest rank on campus.

My heart hurt at the thought of what he was about to face, and as most moms in this world, my imagination soared beyond the realms of reality.  Sitting in the auditorium I heard an officer beckon the new cadets to come forward, and I knew this would be the last time I’d see Josh for what would seem an eternity.  I looked at him and he looked at me, and I’ll never forget the words he said, “Write and write soon.”  Tears ran down my face as I watched him walk away and disappear from sight.

I was able to write him immediately; however, it would be weeks before he would be allowed to write home.  When those letters came, I couldn’t wait to open the envelope and devour the words on the page.  The words were few because he rarely had a moment to spare during BEAST, so I hung on every word.  His words were important to me.  Finally, after seven weeks, we were allowed to go and visit him at West Point, and that is a moment, and a hug, I will never forget.

When we love someone, their words matter.

This was true of King David’s relationship with God.  In the book of Psalms, he has this say about the words of God,

“They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.  They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.”

The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more we want to listen for his still small voice.  They become a balm for our soul.

On the flip side…guess what?

Our words are just as important to God.  He loves us so much, that our words matter, and he waits patiently to hear them.

Talk to God today…He loves your voice.

***

Daily Prompt:  Disappear

 

Okay, I remember a time when I had to eat my nasty words…I even wrote a blog about it.  Almost two years ago on election night, I colored the world of Facebook with a wide array of colorful expletives.  As a result, there were consequences to bear.  I was unfriended by friends and family.  Those family members, to this day,  ignore my Christmas cards, and of course, I get none from them. Words matter.

***

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer.   (Psalm 19:14)

 

 

 

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Obvious Mercy

A Conversation with God 8/25/16

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Gracie, hoping more spaghetti squash seeds fall to the floor.

Me:  Well God, I woke up this morning to three big piles and a puddle.  Had to steam mop the floors-of which- I finished the living room, kitchen, dining room, and hallway-ALL- before 7:30 this morning!

God:  Some days are definitely better than others, but…

Me:  Yeah, and some nights are better than others too!  Gracie barked most of the night.  I had to get up and take her outside at least 3 times…  pfhh…probably more than that…I don’t know, Lord…I kinda lost count.  Corinne and have nick-named her Monster.

God:  During those times, whisper my name and…

Me:  Well, I kind’a recollect s…s..saying your name, but… it may n..not have come out as reverently as I would have liked…I’m sorry, Lord.

God:  Lisa, because of my Son, you are forgiven and I will think of it no more.  Remember when I said, “As far as the east is from the west, that far have I removed your transgressions…?”

Me:  Yes Lord, I remember King David writing that.  He sure had a load of sins…huh, Lord…?

God:  None less than yours…

Me:  Yes Lord…I’m sorry.

God:  You see, Lisa, it’s not about the sins you commit-sin is sin-and all have sinned.  The most important “take away” here is that Jesus died and rose again, and because of that your sins are forgiven.  I would much rather you dwell upon Christ and what he’s done, than upon all the mistakes and “bad things” you’ve done.  My mercy is gracious and plentiful, and I want this to be obvious and personal for everyone.

Me:  Lord, thank you for your mercy.

God:  It makes me happy to forgive my children and my arms are always open….regardless of what they’ve done.

Me:  (bows head)  Dear Lord, what a wonderful thing Jesus did for me.  Thank you, my Jesus and please help my mind to rest upon You all day today.

God:  I will help you, Lisa…remember my Spirit goes everywhere you go.  That means I am an ever-present help…ask you shall receive.

Me:  Thank you, God.   Um…God….

God:  Yes Lisa?

Me:  It sure is a lot of work taking care of a puppy.  Do you think I could, maybe…um…lose some weight?

God:  Hmmm…not if you keep eating the muffins that are meant for the  JMU students.

Me:  Oops…guess you saw that the other night…

God:  Remember, I –am- with you always.  (God smiles)

***

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

Psalms 103:8-17

***

Written for participation of today’s daily prompt:  Obvious

 

Outside Looking In

A Conversation with God 8/16/16

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Me:  God, I’ve been thinking about those who’ve shunned me.  Sometimes I feel all alone.  I feel their world is going on without me, and I’m on the outside looking in.  I have this visual of a dirtied hungry child, hands and nose pressed to a store’s window, watching shoppers buying goods to carry home to their families.  The dirty child always has my face.

God:  Unfortunately, my child, sometimes family and those we think love us will treat us that way. Some do it for spite, anger,jealously and numerous other reasons and then there are those who do it in my name.

Me:  In  your name, Lord?  How?

God:  My word is misunderstood and often it is used to hurt people.  I have many do’s and don’ts in my word and those do’s and don’ts were written for a specific people at a specific time in history.  The problem is, some take a scripture passage from the middle of my story and use it to justify their judgments of others.

(God slowly shakes his head)

God:  How often I’ve asked my children not to judge…  They can’t see the heart of the person they judge, but I can.  Also, judging others can be very dangerous because the way you judge will be the same way you will be judged.

(God pauses)

God:  Lisa,this makes me sad.  I would much rather my children err on the side of compassion.

Me:  Lord, I have been guilty of judging others.  Please forgive me.

God:  Your sins are forgiven, Lisa.  Jesus has already taken care of every one when He died on the cross.

Me:  Thank you, Lord.

God:  And Lisa…

Me:  Yes, Lord?

God:  Remember this…Jesus first came to his own and his own received him not.  You have a savior who understands the hurt you feel.  And Lisa…it doesn’t matter who forsakes you-even mother or father-I will never forsake you and will always take you in.

Me:  I love you, God.

God:  I love you too, Lisa.

***

When my father and mother forsake me then the Lord will gather me up.  Psalms 27:10

He (Jesus) came to his own, and his own received him not.  John 1:11

“Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you.  If you judge others, you will be judged the same way you judge them. God will treat you the same way you treat others…Why do you notice the small piece of dust that is in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood that is in your own?”  Matthew 7:1-4

Celebrate Life with Kindness

A Conversation with God 8/9/2016

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Me:  Lord, the cicadas sure have been loud this year.

God:  Yes they have…and do you know why?

Me:  No, Lord.  Why?

God:  Well, you see, in 1999, a brood of cicadas hatched and burrowed beneath the ground to feast upon root tissue.  It took 17 years but finally they matured and this year the millions emerged from the ground to begin their mating cycle.  It’s possible, and even likely, there to be a million of my little creatures per square acre; and with so many, it’s no wonder the Shenandoah Valley resounded loudly their serenade.

(God smiles and chuckles)

Me:  Wow, God…that’s just amazing!  I love how diverse your creatures are!

God:  Yes, I do enjoy diversity.

Me:  Lord…

God:  Yes

Me:  Gracie…she’s my little Golden Retriever puppy…

God:  Yes, I know Gracie.

(God smiles)

Me:  Well, just yesterday she scampered inside with something hanging out of her mouth. After close inspection I realized it was a cicada bug.  I tried coaxing it from her but was only successful with the top half of its little body.  Gracie ate the other half.  Then she sat on her haunches, looked at me as if to say, “Okay mama, fork it over!”

God:  Such is the cycle of life, my child.

Me:  Yes Lord, but it made me kind of  sad…I’ve always liked cicadas, even as kid.

God:  You sure did!  I remember you, pigtails flying, scavenging the neighborhood for their exoskeletons.  (God chuckles)  I also seem to recall the time you found some sort of cocoon during the cold of winter.  Not knowing what it was you stuffed in your coat pocket and kept playing.

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Me:  Yes!  I remember that!  I played outside for as long as I could stand the cold and then went inside to warm myself by our wood-burning heater.  I laid my cocoon treasure on the bookshelf beside the heater and went into the kitchen to make a sandwich.  Later I went back to get my cocoon and found the bookcase crawling with hundreds of baby praying mantises!

 

(I pause…lost in the nostalgia)

You know, Lord…I really do like the way you created the praying mantis.  They look wise and somehow…kind of… ancient.

God:   Yes, they are amazing creatures as is all life.  Life is precious…very precious…for it is a gift only I can give.  So go out today and enjoy my world …celebrate life…all life!

Me:  I will Lord.  I will be mindful of your people and all of your creatures.

God: Lisa…

Me:  Yes, Lord?

God:  Remember, the way to celebrate life is to be kind to life.

Me:  Yes, Lord

***

Psalms 104

He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.

They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.

By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
They sing among the branches.

He waters the hills from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man’s heart.

The trees of the Lord are full of sap,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
Where the birds make their nests;
The stork has her home in the fir trees.
The high hills are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.

He appointed the moon for seasons;
The sun knows its going down.

You make darkness, and it is night,
In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.

The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.

When the sun rises, they gather together
And lie down in their dens.

Man goes out to his work
And to his labor until the evening.

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.

The earth is full of Your possessions—
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.

There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan
Which You have made to play there.

These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.

What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.

You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
May the Lord rejoice in His works.

He looks on the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the hills, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the Lord.

May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

 

Upon Dragonfly Wings

A Conversation with God 8/6/2016

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Me:  Good morning, Lord.

God:  Good morning, Lisa.  Did you sleep well?

Me:  Yes, Lord…thank you for watching me through the night.

God:  I’ll never leave you.  For just as I told Moses and my children many years ago, “I am the eternal God and I will be your refuge and underneath you are my everlasting arms.”  My love for you is stubborn that way.

Me:  Lord, I feel so safe in your arms.

God:  Think often of my arms around you as you go throughout your day.  Rest in knowing I am, an ever present help and prayer is your lifeline to Me.

Me:  Thank you, God.  I will try my best to talk to you many times today, but there’s so much on the agenda, I’m sure I’ll be very busy.

God:  Gentle reminders of my Presence will be all around you.  Look to the mountains for I am there… I whisper through the leaves of the trees.  My voice calls through the coo of the dove, my love rides upon dragonfly wings,   and my gentleness warms through nuzzles of  kittens.  Look and you will see…listen and you will hear.

God:  And…Lisa…

Me:  Yes, Lord?

God:  Remember…life is best taken…one step at a time.

***

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms…(Deuteronomy 33:27)

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.  (Psalms 46:1)

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)

Walking Through Psalms: Focus

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Johnny Depp getting a better focus in Sleep Hollow

When my glasses become smudged, I’m forced to read words through a haze.  Many times I’ve taken them off my nose and used my shirt to wipe away the haze; however, it only creates a greater murkiness in which to navigate the letters upon the page.  This is frustrating.  Why doesn’t the shirt work?  Shirts are readily accessible…we wear them, for goodness sake!

Ah…but alas, it never fails, I sit down to “put words to page”-(ancient Greek for keyboard typing)- only to realize my glasses are dirty.   I usually have lens wipes close at hand for such occasions; however sometimes, I reach for one and it’s not there.  Then I remember, I used the last one at the previous sitting.  I had intended to replenish the stack but of course I forgot.

This conundrum creates a dilemma.  Do I get up and get a lens wipe or do I attempt to create my story peering through dirty glasses?  I usually try to do the latter, because the creative juices are flowing, and as a writer, I want to “get it while the getting’s good.” (okay…confession…laziness may play a small part)  Inevitably, I always get up and get the damn lens wipe, as I hate looking through dirty glasses.

I thought about this scenario, as I read Psalms 18:1, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

In the midst of living life, it’s so easy to forget the source of our strength.  I don’t think that a sin, I just think it’s human nature.  Whenever this happens, we focus on the problem and then laboriously we try to solve the riddle.  The problem then grows, our strength falters and we are forced to acknowledge our weakness.

This can be a good thing, if it causes us to redirect our focus to Jesus.  Doing this will not make the problem go away, but it assures us we are not alone.  It assures us we are connected to a God who loves us, a God who is ever-present, a God who is working on our behalf and a God who is in control.  Dirty lenses can make us aware of our need for God.

To see clearly, our glasses need to be cleaned and cleaned often.

So get up and get the lens wipe.

***

Fear not, little flock;  for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  

(Luke 12:32)

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  

(Psalms 18:2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Not on my Deathbed…

Let my sentence come forth from thy presence…  (KJV)

Only you can say
    that I am innocent,
    because only your eyes
    can see the truth. (CEV)

Psalms 17:2

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Death is right around the corner…maybe not the next corner but it’s surely waiting behind one of them.

Last week, I had a “scare.”  You know the ones…those that make you stare death in the face.  Well, I looked at it and chewed on it a bit, and this was one, of the many conclusions, I came to:  If it be true, I would not tell my estranged christian family.

“Why?” you may ask.  “Is it because you don’t want them to worry?”  No.  In a sense they already worry about me.  I wouldn’t tell them because I don’t want them flocking to my bedside to save me from the pits of hell.

You see…my family misunderstands me, my “lifestyle” and most important my relationship with God.

Here’s just a few things they believe to be true…

  • 1.  Satan has blinded my spiritual eyes.
  • 2.  This blindness has caused me choose the wrong path.
  • 3.  All are born sinners, but none can be born gay.
  • 4.  Therefore, I have “chosen” to be gay.
  • 5.  God has given me over to a reprobate mind.
  • 6.  I was never “truly” saved.
  • 7.  I am on my way to hell.
  • 8.  It is their mission to keep me from hell.
  • 9.  They must not associate with me so that I “will feel ashamed and turn back to the truth.”
  • 10.  By believing the preceding nine, they are loving me, the sinner, but hating the sin.

 

In the past, I’ve always felt  the need to “explain” my position.  Countless times I’ve rehearsed my spill; but I’m far…far beyond that, now.  I’ve realized that no amount of reasoning, no amount of “biblical interpretation” and no amount of scientific evidence would ever be enough to change their minds.  For them it’s either black or white, period…  “The bible says it, I believe it and that settles it.”

When facing someone with this mind-set there is no common ground where with to meet, let alone, to plead one’s case.  I’ve already been “righteously judged and righteously sentenced.”  However, after all these years, my knee-jerk reaction is to explain away the preceding ten.  Perhaps I should do just that in another blog, but that’s not the purpose of this one.

From reading Psalms 17, it seems most likely, David found himself in a similar situation. No, he wasn’t gay…(but his relationship with Jonathan did seem quite intimate)…but he too was misunderstood.  Those closest to David, had passed judgement and stood firm in their belief and would not compromise.

So what did David do…did he try to explain or justify his case?  No, not at all; instead he said this to God,  “Let my sentence come forth from Thy presence.”  or as it is interpreted in the Common English Version, “Only you can say that I am innocent, because only your eyes can see the truth.”  He also writes, “You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me…”

David sought rest in his personal relationship with God, and that is what I must do.  No one can really see my truth.  No one truly knows my heart.  I was alone when God visited me in the darkest of all my nights. So, it is He, who will be my vindicator, and my sentence will come from Him.

Knowing this, does temper the pain of rejection, but it doesn’t take it away.  It’s a burden I struggle with daily, it is the cross I’m called to bear.  Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me…” he didn’t say it would be easy.

This passage and other bible verses, serve to bring comfort but they do “fix” the problem. Scripture, taken from here or taken from there, is not meant to be used as a switch to turn off our suffering.  God never gave us his Word to “make it all better.”  He gave us his Word so we wouldn’t have to walk alone.  He gave us his word to walk with us through  the pain and suffering.  He gave us his word for comfort, but not as a “quick fix.” He gave us his word to be Jesus, until the day we are physically in his presence.

In closing, I’d like to add that my “scare” seems to be just that, a scare. I’m not totally out of the woods, but let’s just say, there are very bright glimmers of hope, that all will be well.

When I do face my death, I want no “christian” at the bedside telling me what I need. I’m going to be holding God’s hand and the hand of the woman I love.  I will have no hand for them…not at my death bed.  (If they can’t hold my hand in life…why would I want them to hold it in death?)

Ultimately all will be known…until then we should all keep our judgments to our-self.

My Prayer:

My God, even… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever…because of Jesus, amen.

(Part of the “Walk Through Psalms” series)

Look to the Birds

(A poem for all generations)

“Most of the situations that entangle your mind are not today’s concerns; you have borrowed them from tomorrow.”  __ Sarah Young

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Photo taken at Myrtle Beach SC

Preserve me, oh God:  for in thee do I put my trust.  (Psalms 16:1)

Look To The Birds

Look to the birds, the fowls of the air.

No needs have they, no wants nor care.

Unlike the farmers, that sow and reap,

No gardens to till, and yet they eat.

Our Father in Heaven, hears their call.

He knows their need and feeds them all.

Look to the lilies, their glory behold.

Their beauty surpasses, Solomon’s gold.

The grass of the field, God blankets with green.

It’s here for today, tomorrow unseen.

Surely, Our Lord, who cares for these,

Loves us much more than birds in the trees.

“So take no thought,” Jesus did say,

“What will I eat, or wear this day?”

Your Heavenly Father, your needs doth know

So look to the birds, and the lilies that grow.

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Photo taken at Brookgreen Gardens in SC

 

Behold the fowls of the air:  for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you…?  Therefore take no thought, saying What shall we eat?  Or, what shall we drink?  Or where-withal shall we be clothed?  For your heavenly Father knoweth ye have need of all these things.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow:  for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  (Matthew 6:26-34)

(This has been a publication in the series “Walk Through Psalms”)

Do you like ghost stories?  Visit my other blog, Creepy Reflections

We are the Apple of His Eye

O You who save those who trust in You…
Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings…

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Picking Apples from Applecrest Farms

 

Apples are pretty darn important in our house.  I like to eat them with shaker of salt in hand and Corinne loves them cooked in a pie.  (I’ve found the best apple pie recipe that I will post at the end.)  Zechariah 2:8 says this of you and I “…he who touches you touches the apple of His [God’s] eye.”  David in Psalms 17:7-8 puts it this way, “O You who save those who trust in You…Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings”

How comforting it is to know we are the apple of His eye.  What does that mean?  Well, according to word-detective.com it means we are   “…the cherished object of [His] affections, and to be regarded as especially precious and dear to [Him].”

As diverse as this world may be, God wants you to know, you are His cherished treasure and precious in His sight. We are so precious, that God, as a mother hen, shelters us under His wings.  What a beautiful picture the psalmist paints!

Today, as you come to Him with all your hurts, remember you are the very apple of His eye, and He so longs to gather you under his wings.

“When you start to feel stressed, let those feelings alert you to your need for Me.  Thus, your needs become doorways to deep dependence on Me and increasing intimacy between us.”___Sarah Young/Jesus Calling 

My prayer…Lord, gather me under your wings that I may know Your love.  Take my hurts, worries, and despair for I will trust you with them.  And as my day continues and I but lose sight of You, gently remind me, You are there and that I’m safe under Your wings.  In Jesus name…amen.

 

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

IngredientsApple Pie by Grandma Ople

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

(Find this recipe at Allrecipes.com)