Friday, May 26, 2017

Pursuing Heart: Celebrating Seven Years


May is the month for birthdays in our family
and we've been doing some celebrating ...

for three of our six children, 
one of our four sons-in-law, 
and one of our ten grandchildren!

And it's only fitting to also celebrate ...
the birth of this blog!

Seven years ... already?! The years go by so fast with our children and grandchildren, and also the years have gone by so fast since this blog was born back in May of 2010. 

Some things remain the same, 
and others things change as years pass by. 

My purpose and focus for blogging remains the same ...

- a calling on my heart to take from what God teaches me, from my thoughts that spill out onto the pages of my many journals, and to share here

- a love of writing, as writing is essential for my own learning and growing, and then sharing, in hopes that the words I write may be an encouragement to others 

What this sharing looks like has taken on new faces ...

- seven years ago there were no photos in my posts, just text - now, photos are essential to a post, and in fact, they add life and focus to my words

- seven years ago I posted much more often, as blogging was at it's prime - now, there are other avenues to share (Instagram, twitter, facebook, and more), and I write here less often

Pursuing Heart: 
My Focus at Seven Years

- glimpses into my heart, as I share devotional thoughts from what I am learning

- a warm welcome into my home and kitchen, often sharing favorite recipes

- sharing digital scrapbook pages, pictures of stories God is writing in our lives

- inspiration gained from books, from other bloggers/authors, and from living life

- a goal/desire of writing a post once each week 

- and a deep joy when I meet up with someone in real life, or in the online world, who tells me that they have been encouraged by what I have written; a deep joy in my heart, for it was and is a step of faith and obedience to God to share here

Thank you for your sweet visits here!  

Click here to read my updated WELCOME (About Me) page!

And click here to read my (often) daily devotional/inspirational thoughts on Instagram.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Strawberry Banana Split Cake


This recipe has been in my collection of new recipes to try for a couple of months, and this past week was the time to try it out! It was perfect to make for a daughter's birthday this month!

A refreshing, creamy, sweet dessert for any springtime or summer occasion ... with layers of strawberries, bananas, and crushed pineapple! I have a lot of recipes that I have collected over the years, and this one will be added to my collection of favorites!

Click on the "Source: tasteofhome.com" link below to print.


Strawberry Banana Split Cake



Source: tasteofhome.com
Course: Desserts
Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 20 min
Yield: 12-15 servings
Serves:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 12 cup butter melted
  • 14 cup sugar
  • FILLING:
  • 12 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large firm bananas cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) crushed pineapple drained
  • 2 quarts fresh strawberries sliced
  • TOPPING:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 14 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1-12 cups chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Combine the crumbs, butter and sugar; press into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Chill for 1 hour.
  2. In a bowl, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Spread over crust; chill for 30 minutes. Layer with bananas, pineapple and strawberries.
  3. In a small bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over fruit. Sprinkle with nuts. Chill until serving. Yield: 12-15 servings.
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Path to Springtime


Don't you just love spring? 

It's my favorite time of year!

I love ...
the freshness of new life,
the blossoms of the fruit trees,
birds singing, grass turning green ...
the planting of our veggie garden,
choosing the flowers for our patio planters.

I love the spring events - 
the picnics, graduation parties,
family birthday parties,
gathering with friends outdoors.

I love spring!

But even more wonderful to me than the season of spring ...
is holding a sense of springtime in my heart -
a kind of springtime that lasts all through the year.

Living each day with freshness 
and closeness in our relationship with God -
where we are aware of His love
and we are walking closely with Him.

Where every day can feel fresh, 
like spring ...




Maybe this springtime that we long for
begins by quieting ourselves,
not just once, but continually,
and by becoming very small,
like a seed ...

Why do we resort to thinking
that we are the ones who can do it all?
That we are the ones who can grow tall,
the ones to produce the flowers,
the fruit that will nourish others?

How often do I need to be reminded,
continually, always,
that it is about surrender.
Waving my white flag of surrender,
and giving up my own efforts,
my own need for control -
and just resting 
in the soil of His love and His power.





Maybe we need to give up our own agenda
for the masterpiece that He is creating.
Give up writing our own story for our lives
and embrace the one that He is writing.

Not settling for second best
with our own chapters and plot-lines,
but yielding to Him,
embracing the beautiful story
that He created for our lives.

Yielding completely,
growing to be the most beautiful flower
that He has designed us to be;
each seed, unique,
crafted for specific purposes.


“For we are God’s masterpiece. 
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, 
so we can do the good things 
He planned for us long ago.”
(Ephesians 2:10)




For Happy Mother's Day,
and for every day of the year!

To all mothers, and to all who long for the growth,
 and the flowers and the fruit ...

A sure promise from our Creator -
as we yield control,
and as we rest in His care,
trusting Him alone, 
the One who created the seed ...
that it is He who brings the growth,
who causes the flower and the fruit
to blossom and to grow.

Fruit fashioned specifically for me, 
and specifically for you.
Unique, beautiful, life-giving,
reflecting the fragrance of His love.
All for His glory alone.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, 
through His mighty power at work within us, 
to accomplish infinitely more 
than we might ask or think.” 
(Ephesians 3:20)


Friday, May 5, 2017

Reflections on April / Welcoming May



Fresh, new blossoms 
first, our peach trees,
then our apple trees.

Beauty and fragrance  
signs of new life,
gently and softly
welcome and beckon
to experience more,
to be awakened
in heart and soul.


If we open our eyes, and if we look - really look - around us, signs of God's gentle call, drawing us to life - real life - are everywhere. 

What if we embrace the simple, quiet beauty of spring, as a whisper of His love, calling us to enter more deeply into all that He has for us.




What if we would pause our busy lives, take our eyes off of our "to-do" lists, and turn our eyes and our hearts to the beauty all around us, and to His Words ...

Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn
to live freely and lightly.
(Matthew 11:30 MSG)

April was filled with blossoms on our peach trees and apple trees, fresh green leaves, grass blades taking on vibrant shades of green, and also nourishing showers amidst cloudy days. The cooler gray days preparing the way for the burst of new life and sunshine that was sure to come.

April was also filled with a fresh call to draw in closer, to respond to His gentle words of love. Sometimes when life is full - with the good and the hard - it is easier to try to make our way in our own strength, with our own understanding. But how much better when we share our hearts - everything - with the One who loves us so deeply that He gave His life for us. April was a month of drawing closer, of sharing my heart - of talking with Him/praying continually, as He says we can do - of sensing the freshness of His love. I always, continually, need these reminders to draw close in the midst of busy days.




And now, I am pausing, and listening again to His gentle words, calling us to rest, to trust, to walk closely with Him through all of life, through this month, through each day of this beautiful new month of May.


My desire is to give you
everything in abundance,
more than you expect - 
life in it's fullness
until you overflow.
(John 10:10b The Passion Translation)


Lean on, trust in,
and be confident in the Lord
with all your heart and mind
and do not rely on your own 
insight or understanding.
(Proverbs 3:5 AMP)





- - - - - - - - - -


Two helpful books, calling us to rest in His Love in the midst of our busy days ...





I finished this book last month ... and loved the insights and encouragement Shelly Miller gives about finding ways to incorporate true rest into our busy lives. I will be referring to this book in the future, as well - so good.

Click here to view it on Amazon, and here to read more encouraging words from the author, Shelly Miller ...




And I am looking forward to this new book coming out this month, May 23rd ... a 40-Day devotional book calling us to rest. If you are like me, you need continual encouragement to pause in the midst of this very full life, and rest - listening to God's words of love and truth.


Click here to view it on Amazon, and here to read more encouraging thoughts from Bonnie Gray ...






And you are invited to follow me on Instagram as I often share quotes and verses on rest ... sharing as I am learning from His Words, and from encouragement I receive from others.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Digital Scrapbooking: April 2017

April was a beautiful month, and I took a lot of photos! However, it was so beautiful that I spent more time outdoors in my spare time. Instead of spending the time to gather photos onto digital scrapbook pages. I think that these are the only two pages that I created during the month! 



A very special treat for me ... planting flower seeds indoors. Maybe one of the reasons was for the beauty of it all, but also so we would have the flowers in May to plant in our patio planters and in some of the garden spots in our yard.


And another very special treat ... all of a sudden we realized that we had no big plans for Easter weekend this year (very unusual). And as we had just had an extra busy 6-8 weeks the past few months, we took the opportunity to escape for a little getaway over Easter weekend, just the two of us. It was wonderful!

- - - - - - - - - -

Note: Most of the page templates and digital products that I use are purchased from Digital Project Life. About five years I switched from paper scrapbooking, and took some online lessons from Digital Scrapper to learn how to digital scrapbook using Photoshop Elements. (You can also click here for some great tutorials on the Digital Project Life website - maybe a quicker way to learn than the site that I used five years ago.) Also, besides being able to share my completed pages online, I also print them out at home in 8x8 inch size to fit in the albums that I purchase from Michael's.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Beauty of Prayer


Just as the seasons bring so much beauty, God's Word brings peace, beauty, and life that lasts through all the seasons.

All through the month of April I kept being reminded to go deeper into the great gift God has given us in prayer ... this amazing gift that He has given us, in allowing us, and even welcoming us, to talk directly with Him. It is such an incredible gift. And there is so much to learn ...

I often share little devotional thoughts from my journal, on Instagram. Here are a few from the month of April ... life-giving thoughts from His Word, on prayer. And these photos of our beautiful peach tree blossoms were perfect to use along with the thoughts that He was placing on my heart during the month of April about the incredible gift of prayer, talking with Him about everything.




"You can trust the One
who died for you."
(Jesus Always)

"Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank Him
for all He has done.
Then you will experience
God's peace,
which exceeds anything
we can understand.
His peace will guard
your hearts and minds
as you live in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6-7)

We can trust Him
for everything,
with everything ...
all because of Easter.



"I also pray that you will understand
the incredible greatness of God's power 
for us who believe Him.
This is the same mighty power
that raised Christ from the dead
and seated Him in the place of honor
at God's right hand in the heavenly realms."
(Ephesians 1:19-20)

For us who believe Him ...
the same mighty power.

For us,
this week,
and for today.



There's no need to decide
what to pray for ...
is it too small?
is it too big?
and does He care?

He says to pray about
e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
And everything means
every. single. thing.

"Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything."
(Philippians 4:6a)

I often need this reminder ...
don't wait; don't worry first;
just talk with God about it.

"As soon as something
grabs your attention,
talk with Me about it."
(Jesus Calling)


- - - - - - - - - -

Are you on Instagram? If so, I would love to have you join me over there, 
as well as visiting here on my blog. Click here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Marshmallow-Filled Banana Cupcakes


A brand new cupcake recipe for me - and definitely, a keeper! These marshmallow-filled cupcakes are so very delicious! 

I saved this recipe from a Taste of Home magazine awhile ago, and it was time to try it out earlier this spring. These cupcakes almost melt in your mouth; these are one of my favorite recipes for cupcakes, for sure. The marshmallow-creme filling is such a sweet surprise when you take a bite.





The recipe itself was quite easy. A little extra work to cut out the circle to fill, but it turned out much easier than I anticipated. That filling ... oh, so good!

Click on the "Source: tasteofhome.com" link (below) to print the recipe.

Marshmallow-Filled Banana Cupcakes


Source: tasteofhome.com
Course: Desserts
Prep Time: 40 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 1 hr
Yield: 18 servings
Serves:
Ingredients
  • 34 cup shortening
  • 1-12 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 teaspoon salt
  • 14 cup buttermilk
  • FILLING:
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups marshmallow creme
  • 1-12 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Additional confectioners' sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  3. Fill prepared cups two-thirds full. Bake 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. For filling, in a large bowl, beat butter, marshmallow creme and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1-in. circle, 1 in. deep, in top of each cupcake. Carefully remove cut portion and set aside. Fill cavity with about 1 teaspoon filling. Replace tops, pressing down lightly. Dollop or pipe remaining filling over tops. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.
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I had a little helper with me when I made these cupcakes ... a sweet little granddaughter. She loves to help in the kitchen! Such fun to make these cupcakes with Eva! And then, to share them together, and also to send some home with her for her parents and brother.