Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Sweet Fragrance of Comfort


Now He uses us to spread
the knowledge of Christ everywhere,
like a sweet perfume.
Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance
rising up to God.
(II Cor. 14b-15a NLT)

These beautiful words grab my attention - our lives ... a Christ-like fragrance.

Not just our words, or our actions - but our lives. The stories of our lives. Our unique lives surrendered to Him.

Not our picture-perfect lives, but our lives that are filled with His fingerprints in the midst of weaknesses and trials. Filled with all the ways He has rescued us, comforted us, and been strong for us when we are weak.

It's not that we ourselves are a sweet fragrance. For on our own, left to ourselves, we are empty, void of hope, of love. But when we are filled up with His love, we become a fragrance - a sweet life-giving fragrance.

But is it not true that to be filled up we first need to be emptied? To be comforted and captivated by His love and mercy, we must be in need.

God is our merciful Father
and the source of all comfort.
He comforts us in all our troubles
so that we can comfort others.
When they are troubled,
we will be able to give them 
the same comfort God has given us.
(II Cor. 1:3-4)

Let's be free to share the stories of our need, and of how God has comforted us. Of how He rescues us from ourselves, how He comforts us when we go through trials, and how He is strong in our weaknesses. So that we, in turn, can be a fragrance of Christ, comforting and encouraging others in their times of need.

Lord, help me to learn to more freely open up my heart, open up the stories You have written in my life. Help me to share from my places of need and heartache, of all the ways You have comforted me. Of how You continue to pour out Your love, mercy, and comfort - filling me up to be a sweet fragrance of You. Using me to comfort others with the same comfort that I have received from You.

And I pray the same for you,
with the stories He is writing with your life ...
that you will be a beautiful fragrance for Him.





I will be opening up my heart and sharing from my place of need as our family enters into the trial of kidney transplant for our dear granddaughter. We have actually been in the midst of several trials in recent weeks/months, and I have found myself often in need of comfort. And as we enter the time of kidney transplant, I will, as grama and mother, also be extending comfort to our family. In need of comfort, and then extending comfort from what we have ourselves received. (Click here to read more of our granddaughter's kidney transplant, and also of a recent very difficult time in caring for my father.)

Is it really possible to "count it pure joy" when we face trials? How we want peace and joy, but we don't want trials. But what if trials are the avenue to experience true peace, joy ... and comfort? Receiving comfort in our times of deepest need, so that, in turn, we may pass on comfort to others. So that we may be a fragrance of His comfort.

My Peace is the treasure of treasures ...
it is an exquisitely costly gift,
both for the Giver and the receiver.
I purchased this Peace for you with My blood.
You receive this gift by trusting Me
in the midst of life's storms.
Thank Me when things do not go your way,
because spiritual blessings
come wrapped in trials.
(Jesus Calling)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, Lord, I will look for spiritual blessings  
wrapped up in the trials we are in. 
And I will be comforted, and I will receive Peace. 
And You will shape us into a fragrance of You.

------------------------


Linking up with others at Bonnie's "Beloved Brews", sharing stories of God's love and presence in the daily moments of our lives ...


Beloved Brews Linkup

Monday, January 19, 2015

A New Year of Digital Scrapbooking

Life is full and flies by so fast, which is one reason that I love to preserve the memories. Digital scrapbooking is a relaxing hobby of mine - a fun way to capture the memories. But it's a challenge sometimes to find time for this hobby, especially during some seasons of life that are extra busy. It seems that this year will be one of those extra-busy times of life, especially as we anticipate a kidney transplant for one of our granddaughters. 

I'm always looking for even speedier ways to preserve the memories, and decided to start out this year using a new line of Project Life digital supplies. It was a treat this past weekend to create my first two pages for 2015 using the Project Life 52 Weeks format! 





Thanks for visiting - 
and for sharing in my joy of scrapbooking the stories 
that God writes into our lives.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pray, Love, and Listen


Sometimes it seems that there are so many things to keep track of, so many priorities to hold before us as we enter a new year. This is true for me. 

How many different hats can a person wear without becoming completely overwhelmed? There are so many areas of responsibility in our lives. It's as if we have multiple (many) part-time jobs, each one sometimes feeling like a full-time job. 

Some of these areas of responsibility or calling in my life ...
Pursuing my First Love as a child of God
Being a companion and helpmeet for my hubby
Loving our four daughters, two sons, and four sons-in-law
Being grama for our five granddaughters and five grandsons
Creating a warm environment in our home 
Caring for the physical needs of family and home
Being creative as a homemaker
Building into the friendships we've been blessed with
Praying for and being God's hands and heart to those around us
Praying for those all around the world, for people to come to know God
Serving as Cru staff in multiple ways each week
Helping lead our CityGroup, small group within our church
Caring for my elderly father who is going through a season of need
Following God's leading to share through blogging

And there are more. Your areas of calling/passion may be similar, and with even additional roles and responsibilities.

For me, each of these areas is not merely a job or responsibility; each one is a passion. Something that I believe that God has called me to. It's what I love to do. They are my avenues of serving and following God's direction and calling for my life. They are my life. 

And I wonder - is there a common factor in all the roles and responsibilities, callings and passions that we have as women? Could it be helpful to focus on different common themes at various times in our lives? Maybe areas that we would like to grow in as we serve in multiple ways.

As I have been spending some time preparing my heart for the new year, there are a few words that keep coming back to my mind over and over again. Words that are wrapping my heart around all these various areas of passion and serving. Words that capture the ways that I long to grow in as I serve. 



Pray - daily, moment-by-moment, faithfully pray for others, for their needs, and for sensitivity to how to serve them well . May my first response be to pray. Seeking God above all, communicating my heart to Him and hearing His heart, bringing all my concerns to Him. Depending on Him alone to do what He alone can do.

Love - daily, moment-by-moment, faithfully love others, depending on God to love them through me. May my first response be to love. "Love is patient, love is kind ... it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking ... love never fails." (I Cor. 13)  Love others as I am loved, for God is Love.

Listen - daily, moment-by-moment, faithfully listen to each person in my life. May my first response be to listen. For listening is the primary language of love, communicating value and worth. As our loving Father listens to our hearts, and we listen to His heart - we in turn are filled up to listen to others.

Loving Lord, will you teach me more this year as I pray, love, and listen -  to You?  And in turn, by Your grace and mercy, may I pray for, love, and listen to those You have brought into my life. For Your purposes, and by Your power.

And I pray for you,
as you enter into a new year -
that you will learn and grow as you live and serve 
through your callings and passions.
_______

Linking up with Bonnie's Beloved Brews linkup, sharing with others about our One Word for the year, only my one word is actually three words that are linked closely together. Three words that God has impressed on my heart, three ways that I long to grow in during this coming year. And also, linking up with Holley's Coffee for Your Heart linkup, sharing our One Word for the year, as well.

Beloved Brews Linkup

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Family Christmas

It was all a gift. We prepared for weeks, and we prayed ... and it happened. And now, we are holding the memories. We were blessed beyond measure to have our whole family home for Christmas! It does not happen often anymore that our whole family is together, as we have a son in San Francisco, another son in New York City, a daughter and her family in Dallas, and also three daughters and their families who live nearby. We thank God for the extra special gift of having every one of the 22 in our family home for Christmas! 






Click here to go to Legacy of Love, our family/ministry blog, to see more digital scrapbook pages capturing the memories of our memorable Christmas together. 

And click here for more digital scrapbooking posts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tomato Tortellini Soup


It's always fun to try out a new recipe, and it is most fun to try one out that is a "keeper" - one that will stay with my growing collection of recipes! This is one that I tried out last week for lunch on New Year's Day, and one that I will be keeping with my favorites!

Soup is such a comfort food, and it was a good choice for the restful, relaxing first day of 2015. Easy to make, and very delicious! I had to hunt a bit for the sun-dried tomatoes, as I had never purchased those before. Always fun to try new things in the kitchen ...


Print Recipe

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Course: Soup
Prep Time: 10 Min
Cook Time: 15 Min
Total Time: 25 Min
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 9 oz pkg. cheese tortellini refrigerated or frozen
  • 2 cans tomato soup undiluted
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Additional shredded Parmesan cheese optional

Directions

  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the soup, broth, milk, cream, tomatoes and seasonings. Heat through, stirring frequently. Drain tortellini; carefully add to soup. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle each serving with additional cheese if desired.
  3. Yield: 8 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

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 If you try this recipe out, let me know 
if it makes it to your recipe collection!

Monday, January 5, 2015

How to Use Your One Life



At the start of a new year, a new week, and a new day - there are so many things to focus on. It can be quite overwhelming, really. The list of things to do, and people to care for seems unending at times. And it is easy to want to just selfishly live our own lives, focusing on ourselves day after day. 

But what is the point of clinging to our own lives, if then we find that we lose our lives. When all along what we are looking for is to find our lives.

If you cling to your life,
you will lose it;
but if you give up your life for Me,
you will find it.
(Matthew 10:39 NLT)

All the things we love to do, all the ways that we are gifted, all the things about us, the way we are made - could they be gifts? Gifts from our Creator so that we, made in His image, are a reflection of Him to the world. And the gifts that He has given to us become a lifeline of blessing to others. Bringing life. To others, and also to our own lives.



At the start of this New Year 2015 ... taking time to pause, and to think on all that I have been given. And to ponder how I could pass on His love, to be a lifeline of blessing to others.

What are some of the gifts you've been given?
What are the things that give you great joy?
Gifts that could be passed on.
Maybe this could be a year ...
when you and I would lose our lives
and find what we are made for.

For more posts on this topic:
FIRST LOVE: What We Are Made For

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year


I love new beginnings, clean starts, the freshness of a brand new year! New Year's Day - January 1st, 2015. A new year, a fresh start. I love it that we can start out with a brand new year, and I also am so grateful that we can experience a taste of new each day, each morning.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning.
(Lamentations 3:22-23)

Life has been so incredibly busy for us these past few months. My blog has been quieter than ever this past month - just two posts ... indication of how busy our lives have been. And I wonder what is ahead as we continue to care for my 93 year-old father and as we help make decisions about his care. I wonder what all is ahead as the time of our 16 year-old granddaughter's kidney transplant draws near (probably within the next three months)

No one knows what a new year will bring. There will be gifts from our loving God that we will be blessed with - things we don't even dream of, beyond what we even imagine. There will be trials that we will walk through - difficult things, but all opportunities to experience His mercies, new each morning.

And I am reminded that the posture to take at the beginning of a new year is a posture of surrender. A posture of being in need of a Savior. A posture of asking for Him to do a work in our hearts. This year. Each day. 


I wonder what is on your heart as this new year begins? 
And I pray that this will be a year of experiencing His love and His mercy - 
new for you, new for me ... each morning.