PAGES: MAIN TOPICS I WRITE ON

Thursday, July 8, 2021

My Place of Quiet Retreat


Always, wherever we are … 

our place of quiet retreat,

with us.


Not limited to time or place;

Your Word, Your Presence.



Where do we go for rest, for refreshment, and renewal? The photo above was taken at one such place we've been at many times, with beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park in view. And ocean view, or lake view are also favorite places of ours. 


But what is an everyday place, within reach at all times? Where we can go on a daily basis to be renewed in our spirit, to find the rest that we long for and that we were made for?


"Cause my heart to bow before Your words of wisdom and not to the wealth of this world. Help me turn my eyes away from illusions so that I pursue only that which is true; drench my soul with life as I walk in Your paths." (Psalm 119:36-37)


"Reassure me of Your promises, for I am Your beloved, Your servant who bows before You." (Psalm 119:38)


"May Your tender love overwhelm me, O Lord, for You are my Savior and You keep Your promises." (Psalm 119:41)


"My passion and delight is in Your Word, for I love what You say to me! I long for more revelation of Your truth, for I love the light of Your Word as I meditate on Your decrees." (Psalm 119:47-48)


I am finding in even deeper ways than before, that it is most important, above all else, to fill our minds and hearts with truth, to “be truth-filled”, as author Ruth Chou Simons describes this. For with each passing year, there is even more noise, and more voices in our culture and world that attempt to draw us away from what is most important.


Let us fill our minds and hearts - our souls - with His Truth. Continually, day-by-day, through each day. Listening deeply to His heart as we read His words, depending on His Spirit to give understanding. Letting Truth soak deeply into the soil of our hearts, so that we will bear beautiful, lasting fruit.


This is how we are renewed in our deepest places, and this is the center, or “the bullseye” (in author Christy Nockel’s description) from which all else flows.


Above all else,

guard your heart,

for everything you do

flows from it.

(Proverbs 4:23)



Verses from Psalms in this post are from The Passion Translation.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Easy Freezer Meal Prep

I've always been a lover of freezer meals ... homemade freezer meals, made with favorite recipes. Though my methods have changed over the years, I still love to keep a supply of freezer meals on hand for the days that I don't have time to prepare a meal, or days where I just prefer not to cook.

When three of our four daughters still lived close by, we would occasionally get together for what we called "Freezer Meal Days". Occasionally a son would join us, as well! So much fun! You can view some of those days here on my blog ... click here, and scroll clear down to the bottom of the page to see some links to some of our "Freezer Meal Days"! So many sweet memories on the posts listed there!

Things have changed over the years, as more family has moved farther away. And I still love to prepare meals for the freezer, for just the two of us, or to have on hand to share with others. My easy method to prepare freezer meals now is to still make the same amount of food from my recipes ... never preparing half the amount, but preparing the full amount, and often, even doubling the recipe. That way I can put meals in the freezer!

Here are a few examples I've done recently ...

Italian Spaghetti Bake (click here for my recipe)

My recipe makes two 9x13 pans. My method is to prepare the recipe in four 8x8 pans. One for our supper meal that day, and three more for the freezer.





And another ...

Garlic Beef Enchiladas (click here for my recipe)

My recipe makes one 9x13 pan, and just this past week I doubled the recipe, and again used four 8x8 pans. One for our meal that day, one to give away (dear friends dealing with a severe illness), and two more for the freezer.




Photo above, of a meal we took for friends the evening I made the Garlic Beef Enchiladas ... and then (below) our meal that same evening.


Besides main dishes, I also love to have a variety of desserts in the freezer, readily available for when family or friends come by ... 

Recently, I prepared a jelly roll pan full of Blueberry Bars ...
(Click here for my recipe)




Two platefuls to share right away, and two more for the freezer.

Preparing food for the freezer is a continuing week by week practice here at our home. I love to cook, and I also love days when I can just pull out something from the freezer to use!






Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Collection: Pansies, Daffodils, Veggie Seedlings, and Springtime Embroidery

 



The month of March will soon be past, and signs of spring are showing up after what seems like a long cold winter, and we are loving it! Earlier this month we purchased some pansy plants for the first time ... why haven't we done so in years past? We've brought them indoors on occasion (photo above) when temps have dipped to below freezing, but for most of this month they've been out on our patio. Such beautiful glimpses of spring, even on the cool days! 




Outdoors we have some tulips popping up out of the ground, as well as some daffodils ... more glimpses of spring!




We haven't always taken the time to start seedlings indoors, but this year it has worked for us, being retired now. We have several kinds of flowers started, as well as some tomatoes and green peppers. It's such a joy to see the tiny seeds start growing!




Springtime has also been calling me indoors, with embroidery. It's interesting that I went through the whole winter without doing any embroidery, as there were other projects that called my attention. But mid-March, I started on this pattern, a free downloaded pattern from this online site (click here). You can also purchase patterns from this embroidery artist on Etsy by clicking here.

I added the words "Be Still" to this pattern, words that I continually need to remind myself of ... through the winter, into the spring, and all through the year. It's so easy to get wrapped up in tasks and responsibilities, even during retirement. And soon we find ourselves overloaded, and even stressed.

But we are called over and over to rest in Him, to pause, to trust, to soak up His unfailing love for us. Just as the pansies, the daffodils, and the indoor seeds we have planted. They are resting, quietly receiving the nutrients from the soil, soaking up the sun and the water, growing into something beautiful. May we do the same this spring, and all year through.

Be still 
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)

Monday, March 22, 2021

You're My Place of Quiet Retreat

 



At the start of a day, 
at the end of any day, 
over a weekend ...

When we need to be refreshed, 
when we need comfort or help, 
when we are overflowing with joy ...

We have His Word to renew us - 
not just words to read, 
but the deepest connection,
with a Person.

“Why not build into your life unhurried quiet, 
where, among other disciplines, 
you consider the radiance of who He actually is, 
what animates Him, what His deepest delight is?” 
(From Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund)

Taking time to pause - 
waiting, reading, listening, 
receiving the greatest of Love.

Monday, March 1, 2021

In the Kitchen: Apple Cake

 

I can hardly believe that there were no posts here all through the month of February! In the midst of multiple appointments, and many responsibilities, I guess we were just enjoying the cozy winter days by our electric fireplace stove ... engrossed in other projects, including reading some really good books!

But here I am, finally, on this first day of March with another post! This lovely month brings one of my favorite seasons ... spring! And just maybe it will bring more times of sharing from my heart and home here on my blog, as well!

We were with our CityGroup friends (small group within Citylight) yesterday, gathering together as we do twice each month. I offered to bring the dessert, and decided to make a recipe that one of our daughters had made over the holidays when we were in her home ... Apple Cake, drizzled with a delicious caramel sauce. (Thank you for sharing the recipe with me, Carrie!) We left our sweet time together with friends, with several requests for the recipe! As this is an easy way to share my recipes, this also is bringing me back to another thing I love doing ... sharing here on my blog. 

This recipe is sooo very delicious, and I'm so very grateful for Carrie sharing it with me. I am a lover of all things caramel, and this combination of caramel together with a moist apple cake, is one of my favorites!




Apple Cake

Course: Desserts

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1 12 cups oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 cups apples, chopped no need to peel

  • Caramel Topping:
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 12 cup brown sugar
  • 12 cup white sugar
  • 12 cup butter
  • 12 cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream oil and sugar together, add eggs and vanilla and mix together.

Add dry ingredients and mix.

Stir in apples (and also add some chopped nuts, if desired).

Spoon into greased and floured bundt pan (or 9x13 pan).

Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees.

For caramel topping:

Mix the five ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.

Drizzle over cake when serving.


Monday, January 18, 2021

In the Word, and In Community

 

My first post of 2021 (click here to read) focused on the joy I've had at the start of this year as I've been spending time "In the Kitchen".  There has been a lot on my mind and heart, and on yours as well, as we navigate our way through grief and concern all around us. Though we all may (and do) have some differing political persuasions, and we may be concerned and grieved about different things, it is true that we all carry concerns on our hearts at the start of this year. And spending time in my kitchen has been one of the things that has given me joy in the midst of all that is going on around us.

But in this post I'm going to move on and share about two more places where I am finding so much joy in the midst of stressful times ...

My favorite spot these days and weeks is right here (photo above). My view is our peaceful snow-covered yard, our new electric fireplace stove, some candles and soft throws on the couch, and yes, our Christmas tree still up! The decor of our tree covered with mini white lights and a variety of silver balls just blended right into the January landscape, and it just seemed right for it to be part of our winter decor for awhile yet!


In the Word

This peaceful setting is where I most often spend time "In the Word", pausing from my tasks, taking time to rest, feeding my soul. For nothing is more important than this. I'm sure you need and experience the same. 


Above all else, 

guard your heart, 

for everything you do flows from it.

(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)


Here's what I'm focusing on to help me guard my heart and soul during this winter month of January:

  • Starting out on a two-year Bible-reading plan with our Citylight community of friends (click here to follow along if you're interested). The readings are starting out in Genesis and Matthew this month, one chapter from each the Old Testament and New Testament each day.
  • Journaling daily as I read and listen to His Words. Feeding on Truth, as I also pour out my heart to Him in response. Somehow, I learn best and integrate what I am reading best, when I also am writing out words of Truth, letting them soak down into my heart.
  • My large collection of 3x5 verse cards of favorites from over the years. I like to take a few each week from my growing collection of verses, and keep them close to my heart, letting God's Truth and Love soak in deeply.  (left photo below)


  • Using the seasonal topics in the Gracelaced book each week. Reading the devo reading and verses that are set in beautiful artwork, and thinking on the main topic for that reading through the week. Last week's word was "Dwell" ... how can I dwell in His love and presence this week? And this week's word is "Lean".  (right photo above: my second time through this book)
  • And this month I'm reading the newly published book, Becoming Elisabeth Elliot. A very fascinating biography written by Ellen Vaughn. There is much to learn from Elizabeth Elliot.
  • In all the above, asking for His help, continually being reminded that nothing I read can have lasting impact on my heart without the grace of God, through His Spirit, giving insight and wisdom.


What are you filling your mind and heart with as the New Year has begun?


In Community

I'll continue on, and share another favorite spot that also gives joy ... spending time "In Community".  Yes, you read that correctly ... community is needed, even during a pandemic. We went through the first four to five months of the pandemic completely quarantined, with our family even bringing our groceries to our doorstep. We are so very grateful for their loving care. 

During the summer months as things were letting up a bit, we sensed God's strong promptings on our hearts that it was crucial for us to be back in community again. Safety measures were already set in place for people to be able to go back to Citylight Midtown on-site, though we had live-streamed since the middle of March. Making that move the very next Sunday (and since then) has fed our souls. 

And a few months after gathering in community on Sunday mornings, we also knew it was time to gather with our CityGroup again, our small group within Citylight. We have continued to do since the end of the summer.  Such a source of joy and connection ... we absolutely love our times together. It has been critical for the health of our hearts and souls. We are made for community.


How are you spending time in community during this time? 


Caring for our hearts during a pandemic, and during the challenging times we are in as a country, is critical to our emotional and spiritual health. Time In the Word and In Community ... I am so thankful.

(Note: especially being in the age category that we are, in our 70's, we continue to seek to be wise and take precautions needed during a pandemic. Our in-home gatherings are limited so far to family, and to our smaller group of CityGroup friends. There have also been weeks/months when these connections only took place through zoom or other online forms. Continuing to be part of these communities in whatever form, even during a pandemic, has been life-giving for us.)

Friday, January 8, 2021

Starting Out the New Year 2021 - In the Kitchen

The New Year 2021 is here! What are some of the main things that are on your mind at the start of a new year? What is pulling on your heart for this year?

I have so very many things on my mind and heart as this New Year 2021 begins! However, I am purposely choosing to enter into the year slowly, and to take just one step at a time. There is so much going on in our world, in our country, as well as in each of our individual homes, families, as well as in our hearts. Calling for me to pause, and to ask for God's help and perspective in every area of life. How I need Him. How we all need Him, for He is the Light that is needed in the darkness all around us.

So I will be entering in here on my blog slowly, as well. My heart focus these first days of January has been to spend even more time being quiet before Him, listening and learning, depending on Him. And sharing from my heart from what I learn from Him is the primary focus of this blog. 

But for my first post of 2021, I'll quietly invite you into my kitchen, for one of the things on my mind and heart continually (and another focus of this blog) is to look for opportunities to love and serve others - family and friends - from spending time "In the Kitchen".

We'll start out at the beginning, at the start of this year ... with a great breakfast recipe that my dear hubby and I both love. And I am a blessed gal, as he loves to make breakfast food! 


He made Oatmeal Breakfast Cake earlier this week. And not only did he make enough for the two of us, but he multiplied the recipe by FOUR times! The original recipe fits an 8x8 pan, but doubled we always put it in a 9x13 pan. And multiplying it by 4X, gave two 9x13 pans. 


Of course, two pans is entirely too much for the two of us. Which is exactly what I love ... having food to put in the freezer for another day, and/or to share with others. This recipe works really well to divide into individual size portions, slip into small sandwich bags, and then put into gallon-size ziploc bags for the freezer.

For a quick and easy breakfast, take one of the individual sized portions out of the freezer, put it into a cereal bowl, and heat in the microwave. Add some milk, and enjoy!

This Oatmeal Breakfast Cake is filled with good, nutritious, and of course, yummy ingredients ... crushed pineapple, raisins, oats, and more. 


Print Recipe

Oatmeal Breakfast Cake

Course: Breakfast

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 cup pineapple, crushed
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 12 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 cup brown sugar
  • 12 cup raisins

Directions

  1. Mix wet ingredients.
  2. Then add dry ingredients. Mix.
  3. Add raisins, mix again.
  4. Pour into greased 8 inch square pan.
  5. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.


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Notes: We substitute honey and a bit of molasses for the brown sugar.  And a single recipe = 4-6 servings.

I first posted this recipe back in 2013, and this is an update of that post. (Click here for the original 2013 post.)