Thursday, August 25, 2016

In the Kitchen: End-of-Summer Recipes


I love summertime recipes, and had the urge to try out some new ones this summer! Here are a few of the new recipes that have made it into my growing collection of favorite recipes in the past few months!

Click on the links in the captions to print the recipes, if you are interested in trying them out, as well. We loved each of these recipes ...


Loaded Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad 

Fajitas in Pitas

Grilled Herbed Chicken & Potato Foil Packs

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Very Essence of Prayer



Prayer - that word that draws us, but also eludes us. Like we have it figured out, and yet it can feel out of reach. And sometimes we even slip into the default of thinking of it in terms of lists and obligations, when it really is so much more.


Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle -
yet the way to reality.
There is nothing more important,
or harder, or richer, or more life-altering.
There is absolutely nothing as great as prayer.


For prayer is our connection with God. Over six years ago when I started up my blog, prayer was one of my main topics that I wrote about. I chose to label one of my sections on the "pages" tabs of my blog for this topic:




If you click on the Heart Connect tab above, you'll find links to multiple posts that I have written over the years on this topic. And I continue to write about prayer; not because I have it all figured out, but because I continue to long to learn more ...

Prayer is a connecting of hearts -
ours to God's, and His to ours.

It's not reading or reciting through a list, 
though keeping a list of important things on our heart can be helpful as we talk with God.

It's not limited to a set, designated time on our schedule,
though having set times of concentrated communication with God can be very beneficial.

It's not one-way talking,
but is two-way communication.

It is not always easy,
but is often difficult as communication can be very hard at times.

It is not a waste of time, 
but is the most life-giving avenue to build a deep relationship.

It is one of the easiest things to be distracted from,
for it is one of the most important things we can focus on.

It is the sharing of hearts,
of growing in intimacy and knowledge with our Creator and God.

Prayer is continuing a conversation
that God has started
 through His Word and His grace ..."


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our Anniversary Dinner for Two


Sometimes when a very special day comes around, you celebrate with a very fun and memorable trip, which we did ... our amazing Pacific Coast Trip last month!

And sometimes when that special day comes, you take the whole weekend to relax and celebrate, which we did this past weekend. Our weekend included a day-trip to nearby Lincoln this past Friday, where we found the cutest little restaurant in the Haymarket, complete with outdoor seating, which we love.

And then sometimes when the very actual special day is here, you choose to celebrate quietly at your own home. Which is how we celebrated our 45th Wedding Anniversary on August 14, with a meal-for-two on our own patio ...


And if you're blessed with a loving, caring husband as I am, he'll wait patiently while you take photos of the special meal that you have prepared together as a couple ...

Grilled Spiced Salmon
We love salmon! I buy my salmon fillets in a 3-pound package at Sam's. It is perfect for the two of us, as the pieces are wrapped individually, and we can pull out just two pieces at a time to prepare. This recipe is our favorite way to prepare salmon ...

Grilled Potatoes
This is also a favorite way to grill potatoes. For this meal, I tried something new, and added some slices of summer squash and zucchini to the sliced potatoes. It was a success, and I'll be doing that again in the future ...



The Corn & Black Bean Salad was a new recipe to add to our plate. I picked it because my husband likes dishes with black beans. It turned out to be maybe my favorite salad so far with black beans. Here's the recipe if you are looking for a good black bean salad dish ...


Click on the Taste of Home link (below) to print recipe.

Corn and Black Bean Salad



Course: Salads
Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 20 min
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper chopped
  • 1 medium tomato seeded and chopped
  • 6 green onions chopped
  • 12 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped, optional
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 34 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • 34 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 12 teaspoon chili powder

Directions

  1. Directions In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the salad dressing, cilantro, lime juice, hot pepper sauce and chili powder. Pour over corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 6-8 servings. Editor's Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. 
Powered by
Plan To Eat



And as we enjoyed our anniversary meal together on our patio, we shared and talked about sweet memories from 45 years ago! How can time go by like this, and it can already be 45 years?! 

As I am very s-l-o-w-l-y trying to put our memories into scrapbook form, it was so fun to be able to pull out the scrapbook from our honeymoon days, 45 years ago. To remember together, and to thank God for the great, priceless, wonderful gift He gave us in each other. 

Celebrating and thanking God for 45 years together!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Marinade


I was surprised recently when I noticed that I have not yet posted this recipe on my blog! This is probably my favorite marinade recipe to use when grilling chicken. I found it quite a few years ago in a cookbook of mine, The Occasional Cook, by Cyndy Salzmann. 

It's a great recipe to prepare ahead of the day you will be grilling. I like to purchase a 6 lb. pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast at Sam's, and then divide up the chicken breast into meal-size portions and place in freezer bags. Next, I prepare enough marinade for 6 lbs. of chicken breast, and divide it up, adding the right portion to each bag of chicken breast. That way, the chicken marinates as it freezes, and also as it thaws. (Of course, you can put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to use the next day, but you can also freeze it for later.) So delicious!

Print Recipe

Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Marinade


Source: The Occasional Cook
Course: Main Grill
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breast
  • 13 cup soy sauce
  • 13 cup water
  • 14 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tablespoon green onion chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk all ingredients together. Place in a 1-gallon freezer bag; add chicken.
  2. Put in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  3. Drain; reserving marinade.
  4. Grill, brushing occasionally with marinade during first half of cooking.

Powered by
Plan To Eat



We were blessed the first week of July to have about 15 family members home! For one of our meals, I served Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Marinade. Perfect for a summer meal, along with homemade potato salad, and corn-on-the-cob! And having this recipe already prepared and in the freezer ahead of time, made the prep so much easier. Giving more time to focus on enjoying our family when they were home!



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Continuing on with Prayer



Do you have an unending desire, a yearning to learn more, to grow deeper in prayer, as I do? I keep circling around and into other topics, and usually find myself being drawn again and again to learn more about this thing, this practice we call prayer.

We somehow can feel so very inadequate, and so inexperienced in prayer. And even guilty, for we are led to believe that it must look a certain way, for everyone.

I have just finished reading through Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson, for probably the 3rd or 4th time. And each time I am so challenged and encouraged by reading it. This time was no exception - it is hard to explain, but God has used this season to draw me to be more intentional and motivated in prayer. It really starts in our hearts, with a perspective of faith and trust, and a longing to connect deeply with God.

Also, the little booklet in the photo above has been a great help in remembering and recording specific prayer needs as I pray for others ... A Lifestyle of Prayer Guide. And I will now be continuing on with reading words of encouragement on prayer, and have started to read Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller, a book I recently ordered and just arrived a few days ago! 

Maybe we have an undeniable and unending thirst for prayer, because this thirst and desire is really a thirst and desire for knowing God more intimately. And one of the main ways He has given us to know Him ... is through prayer. 

With His Word in hand,
and His Spirit in our hearts,
we are given the greatest, most awesome privilege
we could ever dream of:
to communicate with, to be heard by,
and to hear the heart of our Savior, our Lord.

So our longing to grow deeper in prayer, is really a longing to know Him and to be part of what He is doing - not only in our own lives but also in the world - in deeper ways than ever before.



"Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things He has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to."  (Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Our Pacific Coast Trip



How do we even begin to thank God for the gift of our 
18-day Pacific Coast Trip?

Though we planned for it for a few years, a few months ago we wondered if it could really happen. My dear husband had some health issues that seemed to be concerning, and we weren't sure if we would be able to go ahead with our trip. But the health concerns were amazingly taken care of, and we sensed a green light to go ahead with our trip.

We just returned home last night, 
and our hearts and souls are overflowing with thanks to God 
for this amazing trip!

Celebrating our 45th Anniversary
and 25 years as Cru staff

It was even beyond our expectations and dreams!! 

I didn't post many photos while we were on our trip (just one each day on Instagram, and also shared to my Pursuing Heart facebook page) - we were having too much fun relaxing, and focusing on each moment to be on social media too often. 

But now that we are back home, I am treasuring the memories, and hoping to preserve some of these memories in digital scrapbook form. The photo above is of the first digital scrapbook page, with an overview of the four parts to our trip. 

Each part, a gift from God ... 
and each part, beyond what we even hoped for!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Call to Prayer



Devote yourselves to prayer,
being watchful and thankful.
(Colossians 4:2)

As the month of July started up, I somehow was drawn to the idea that I should focus more deeply on prayer during the month. It didn't seem like a timely focus at first, for it was the beginning of a month of family visiting us, followed by an 18-day trip to the Pacific Coast. 

Why would I want to take vacation time, and family time, to focus on prayer? Prayer is hard work, really. It's easy to pray about the every day concerns, and the things I need help with. But to pray for others? Intercessory prayer has always taken a determined effort on my part. And I imagine it is because it is of most importance. 

So when I was drawn to focus on prayer this month, I was being drawn to focus on something of most importance. Prayer is connecting our hearts to God; pouring our hearts out to Him, and listening to His heart, bringing all of our concerns to Him. The smaller things that concern us in our every day, and the bigger concerns involving those we know and love. There is no end to the need for prayer in this time that we live in.

"Prayer is the difference between seeing with our physical eyes and seeing with our spiritual eyes. Prayer gives us a God's eye view." (Mark Batterson)

"The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God. We don't get our marching orders until we get on our knees!" (Mark Batterson)

"Prayer turns us into first-class noticers. It helps us see what God wants us to notice. The more you pray, the more you notice; the less you pray, the less you notice." (Mark Batterson)


So, I pulled out one of my favorite books on prayer: Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson. Forty short devotionals on the topic of prayer, full of encouragement. I think that maybe we should be reading through a book that deals with prayer continually, or at least periodically. We need to be reminded and encouraged, for prayer is what we can most easily be distracted from. 

And I pulled out my collection of verse cards on prayer. I discovered that in my collection (so far), I have 39 verses on the topic of prayer. And there will be more to add as I go through this month of focus on prayer. Sometimes it's good to read a longer passage from God's Word each day; sometimes it's good to read one verse, or a few verses. To read it slowly, to write it out into a journal, to really listen, to pray it back to God as a prayer.

But if you remain in Me
and My Words remain in you,
you may ask for anything you want,
and it will be granted.
(John 15:7)

"Prayer is planting. Each prayer is like a seed that gets planted in the ground. It disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations. In fact, our prayers bear fruit forever." (Mark Batterson)

"Prayer is more like an investment account. Every deposit accumulates compound interest. and one day, if we keep making deposits every day, it will pay dividends beyond our wildest imagination." (Mark Batterson)