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)


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fajitas in Pitas


I've been collecting new recipes to try this summer, and this is one that I tried out the end of June. The mixture that you spread over the chicken breast and the peppers, and also inside the pita bread, made this fajita meal so very tasty!

We have some pepper plants growing in our veggie garden ... I'll have to make this again when the peppers are ready. I'm thinking that this recipe will be one of our go-to grilling recipes during the summer months!

Sharing this delicious recipe from Taste of Home ... click on the "Source" link below to print.


Fajitas in Pitas


Course: Main Grill
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Total Time: 25 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 12 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 14 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers halved and seeded
  • 2 medium green peppers halved and seeded
  • 8 pita pocket halves warmed
  • 8 lettuce leaves

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, green onion, mustard and pepper; reserve 1/3 cup for assembling. Spread remaining mixture over chicken and peppers.
  2. Grill chicken and peppers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 165° and peppers are tender. Cut chicken into 1/2-in. slices; cut peppers into 1-in. slices.
  3. Spread reserved mayonnaise mixture inside pita halves; fill with lettuce, chicken and peppers. Yield: 4 servings.

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Spreading the mayo mixture on the chicken and peppers before grilling ...


A first time for us, grilling pepper halves right on the grill racks.


Off the grill, and ready to slice.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Above All Else


Such very familiar words, words that we have read and heard often ...

Seek the Kingdom of God 
   above all else

Sometimes I think that I have a grasp on what this means, and other times I feel like I am back in first grade again. Just beginning to learn ...

Just what does it mean to
seek the Kingdom of God above all else?

What would my life look like
if I sought the Kingdom of God
above all else?

What would this world look like
if all of us who claim to be followers of God
would seek His Kingdom
above all else?

Of course, we are human, and will never achieve perfection on this side of eternity, and we will not seek Him fully and completely until we are with Him and see Him clearly for who He is. 

But we have been given a taste of Him, and we have been given His Spirit within us. To help us, and to lead us in this life.

And He tells us to 
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else. 

He would not tell us something unless it were possible,
with the help of His Spirit within.

And I wonder if this seeking 
is not something 
to be fully attained,
or checked off our list.
But instead,
it is a process;
an attitude of the heart
a thirsting for Him.
A continual thirsting 
a continual seeking,
day after day,
moment by moment.

Our primary goal and focus;
to seek after Him.
Above all else.

And this is attainable, by the help of His Spirit within.

This is attainable ...
in the same way that I seek to know those I love,
and seek to love them even more with each year, each day ...
I listen to them, spend time with them - much time, and much listening.
Listening to their words, watching their actions, honoring them.
Giving them priority above the many things that call for my attention.
Seeking to know what brings them joy, giving them the best of gifts.
Desiring to know their deepest of hearts.

This seeking Him above all else is attainable by the help of His Spirit within. It may look different for you, and for me. For we work things of the heart out differently according to our personalities, according to how we are made, according to how our heart flourishes and grows. It's all a matter of what our heart focuses on ...

Make God the
utmost delight and pleasure
of your life,
and He will provide for you
what you desire the most.
(Psalm 37:4 The Passion)


Thanking Him for new insight into familiar words, and asking for His help to guide me into a deeper seeking of His Kingdom. And praying the same for you.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Summertime Recipes for the 4th of July

Summer food is so delicious, and also so beautiful! And when prepared and served on the 4th, the food becomes even more fun and festive! Especially when shared with family and friends ...

Sharing a few of the recipes from my blog that would be great to serve on the 4th of July!

HAPPY 4th of JULY WEEKEND!!


Frozen Fruit Cups


Potato Salad


All-American Bacon Cheeseburger

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What is My Pleasure and My Passion?


Day by day, at the beginning of the day, and throughout the day ...

What is my pleasure,
and what is my passion?

What do I wake up thinking about, 
and what do I focus on throughout the day?

Is it worry, is it the cares of this world? 
Is it focused on all that I hope to accomplish?
Where do my thoughts go, if left to default?  

"Taking thoughts captive - I mean really winning your thoughts back to God - requires replacing them with the true knowledge of God. Without a replacement, they'll forever taunt you. When His Words about Himself become a part of my everyday vernacular, something inside me shifts." (Sara Hagerty)


delighting in the Word,
meditating on it day and night


There are so many things to focus on in life - no end of tasks, projects, priorities, to pull our hearts and our minds. And our time. But this one thing - delighting in His Word, and meditating on it ... this comes with a promise.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

So I will listen closely to these words ... and I will ponder:

  • delighting in His Word means more than checking it off our lists when we read His Word
  • meditating day and night means that we carry His Words with us throughout the day, all through the day, and when we lie awake at night
  • delighting means that His Word, that He, is our pleasure and our passion

Whatever season of life we are in - as young mothers desiring to raise our children well, as a moms of teens faced with all the emotions and challenges of that season of life, as empty-nesters (as I am) faced with the many responsibilities of loving and caring for our own parents as well as grandchildren and grown children ... whatever season of life we are in, each with it's own unique blessings and challenges ...

Our highest calling, our deepest pleasure and passion ... delighting in Him, His Words, and meditating on them throughout our days and our moments, letting them sink deeply into our hearts, souls, and minds.

A calling that comes with a promise ...

They will stand firm like a flourishing tree,
planted by God's design,
deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss;
bearing fruit in every season of their lives.
They are never dry, never fainting,
ever blessed, ever prosperous.
(Psalm 1:3 The Passion Translation)

Thank You, Lord, for using these words to encourage and motivate me, again, and to remind me of what is of most importance. Whatever season of life I am in, and even in this season of empty nest (and still a very full life), my key to living a fruitful, blessed life for You, is to immerse my heart and my thoughts in You. Success does not come from completing tasks or projects, marking things off my list of accomplishments, pursuing my interests and hobbies ... true, lasting fruit comes from You, from spending time with You, from letting Your Words soak deep into the soil of my heart and mind.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Loaded Grilled Chicken Sandwich


Maybe a new favorite grilled sandwich meal? I tried out this new recipe earlier this month, and we loved it!

I used all the ingredients listed, and even had some ciabattata buns already on hand in the freezer. Instead of purchasing deli coleslaw, I mixed up an easy and tasty coleslaw - click here for the recipe. (I made it even easier and used packaged coleslaw in the coleslaw recipe, instead of shredding the cabbage.)

This sandwich is loaded with deliciousness! It was a bit messy to eat with the cole slaw and also avocados in the sandwich, but it was absolutely so good. A taste of summer!

Loaded Grilled Chicken Sandwich


Course: Main Grill
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Total Time: 30 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian salad dressing mix
  • 4 slices pepper jack cheese
  • 4 ciabatta or kaiser rolls, split
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 34 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 cooked bacon strips halved
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 12 medium ripe avocado peeled and thinly sliced
  • 12 pound deli coleslaw (about 1 cup)

Directions

  1. Pound chicken with a meat mallet to flatten slightly; sprinkle both sides with dressing mix.
  2. On a greased grill, cook chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from heat 4-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°. Place cheese on chicken; grill, covered, 1-2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, grill rolls, cut side down, 1-2 minutes or until toasted.
  3. Mix mayonnaise and mustard; spread on roll tops. Layer roll bottoms with chicken, bacon, tomato, avocado and coleslaw. Replace tops. Yield: 4 servings.

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It has been quite awhile since I have posted a recipe! Such fun to post recipes, especially of such delicious and beautiful summer food!

(Note: Click the Taste of Home link after "Source" to print the recipe.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Abide in Me


When a plant becomes dry and brittle, it usually becomes apparent that it either has not been given the necessary nourishment of water or of good soil, or it has not received enough sun. 

Could it be the same for us?

When we begin to operate on empty, and find that instead of overflowing with joy and peace, that grumbling and worry are flowing out of us, maybe we need to check if our hearts have been properly nourished.

And where does our nourishment come from?

When we pause our hurried lives and our hearts to listen, we will find that just maybe we need to press the "refresh" button. Maybe we need to pull aside, to rest, to be refreshed physically ... and maybe we also need to slow our pace and rest our souls. To press the pause button, to quiet our hearts, to listen to Him. To be watered by His Word, and to lift our hearts to receive His love. 


 Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
(John 15:4)

Webster's dictionary defines "abide" in this way: "to remain, continue, stay, to have one's abode, dwell, reside, to wait for, to submit to, to remain faithful or steadfast to."

I am the Vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in Me, and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5)


- - - - - - - - - -


Writing these words for my own heart, as I have come off of a very busy season of serving and helping others, and I am reminded of my source of nourishment. And maybe you are in a similar place. May we choose to abide, to remain, to dwell in His Words and His Love.