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
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)

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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:" link (below) to print the recipe.

Marshmallow-Filled Banana Cupcakes

Course: Desserts
Prep Time: 40 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 1 hr
Yield: 18 servings
  • 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
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups marshmallow creme
  • 1-12 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Additional confectioners' sugar
  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. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Springtime: Starting Flowers Indoors

Quite unexpectedly, I got the urge the last part of March to start some flower seeds indoors. I did a bit of research to see which kinds of flowers would be best to plant indoors, which ones would still have time to sprout and grow in time to be planted outdoors in our patio planters or in our flower beds in the yard.

This actually was quite unusual for me, for though I love flowers and love spring, my hubby is the one with the "green thumb" in our family. I greatly enjoy the beauty of our flowers, and our veggie garden, and I do help quite a bit. But for me to take the initiative and do the planting of the seeds myself, this was a bit unusual. Of course, I am blessed to have a great coach and encourager, who gave me good advice.

I found some cute little white wooden trays at Target (just $3 each in Target's fun dollar section), and picked up some little peat pots, seeding soil, and some flower seed packets at Mulhall's. And on Saturday, April 1st, I planted 30 peat pots with flower seeds; 5 different kinds of seeds, and 6 pots of each kind. 

Sunshine and water ... and these little flower plants are growing! I move them from one spot to another throughout the day, trying to catch the most amount of sunshine indoors. And recently we've set them outdoors on some beautiful spring days that we've been enjoying.

The three photos above were taken just two weeks after the planting of the seeds. So amazing to watch the growth! It often reminds me of how we grow, steady and sure, as we take in the water of His Word, and soak up the sunshine of His Love. Our Creator and Lord brings the growth, as we faithfully, day by day, feed our hearts and minds with His Truth and His Love. 

So very beautiful as I watch the growth! This closeup photo (above) was taken just one week after planting. I love all the beauty of new life in the spring - each one, a gift from God!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Reflections on March / Embracing April

I always love transitioning into a brand new month; a reflecting back to the month behind, and embracing the fresh new start of a new month.

Taste and see 
that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man
who takes refuge in Him.
(Psalm 34:8)

These words are on my mind and heart at this transition time, 

as I warmly reflect back, and as I expectantly look ahead to the new.

Each month, each day, and each moment ... 

we are invited to taste and see that the Lord is good

and we are gently called, and welcomed to take refuge in Him.

I am welcoming this beautiful springtime month of April, and I am welcoming and responding to His warm invitation to draw close, to pull up my chair, to lean in and listen, and to taste and see that He is good.

Times to draw close ...

March held multiple opportunities for me to draw close, for we went through some difficult times as we cared for my father (turning 96 this month!). He lives nearby in an Assisted Living home. We're thankful we can be near, and can be a help and encouragement to him, and though I sometimes resorted to worry and frustration instead of peace and trust, I am filled with thanks for how God carried us through those times last month. 

The best way to handle problems and challenges is to ... draw close to God. How humbled I am that even when we find ourselves filled with concern and worry in this life, that He is so good to us! And I am drawn, again, to closeness, to take refuge in Him - every month, every day.

I will be expectantly looking for times to pause as we enter into April, to listen amidst the busy days, to pull in extra close on the hard days, and to watch for all the ways that He is good. Each day.

Taste and see that I am good.
The more intimately you experience Me,
the more convinced you become
of My goodness.
(Jesus Calling)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Digital Scrapbooking: March 2017

How do you hold onto a memory? We live in the present, but then the present becomes a memory. And then we move on to be present again. Time always continues on; never stopping. 

Maybe photos, and for me - digital scrapbooking, becomes a collection of my own living in the present. I am not an expert in focusing on the present, but I am learning. 

This page that I completed this month captures a day when I gave my full attention to a sweet four year-old granddaughter - and then near the end of the day, to my nine year-old granddaughter. I loved giving them my undivided attention ... and I love each of these sweet granddaughters. Children grow up so fast; I'm thankful for photos to capture the memories of that special day together.

And I'm thankful also for these photos (below), from this past December ...

Our Family Christmas came early this past December - we celebrated the weekend before the 25th. The week between our Family Christmas and the actual Christmas Day also held some special events. One was a sweet little ballet recital that our youngest granddaughter was in. I'm so thankful I could be present, and watch her perform. And also, I'm so thankful I could take part in the Christmas Party for one of our Cru groups. What a blessing and privilege to spend time with some of our Cru students at Central High School.

I'm still catching up with scrapbook pages from December, and I love to relive the memories as I gather photos together onto a scrapbook page. Each page - holding memories of time spent with those we love ...


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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Welcome Spring!

Lord, You know how I love spring!
And You are the One who made springtime ...
each year spring faithfully comes.
After a cold, barren winter, there is always spring.
Always faithful. Always new.
Always fresh and life-giving.
We can always count on spring.

Beautiful spring ...

A picture of how we can always count on Your love ...
Always faithful. Always new.
Always fresh and life-giving.
New every morning.
We can always count on Your love.

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)

I do love all the seasons, and maybe of the four, I love SPRING the most! So much new life, new inspiration, new beauty ...

Are you looking for some inspiration for gardening?
Here are a few links that I came across recently -
inspiration for planting this spring ...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Way to Grow Close

It seems that most of what we long for is connected to relationship. And it seems that we are created with this longing for relationship. For a connecting deeply. For sharing our hearts with another. For being heard, loved, and understood. And also, for having someone to love.

We are made for relationship.

Sometimes this privilege of relationship comes easily; sometimes we must learn how to grow into it. Sometimes we need to give special effort to cause it to happen. 

And maybe ... this longing for relationship begins first of all with - relationship with our Creator, the One who created us for relationship.

Shelly Miller says in her book Rhythms of Rest, that "the way of faith isn't a formula to follow but an intimate relationship of meaningful conversation."

Conversation, meaningful conversation, intimate connection. 

It's how we get to know someone. 

The key is getting to know someone. And getting to know God, first of all ...

O God, You are my God;
I earnestly search for You.
My soul thirsts for You;
my whole body longs for You
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
(Psalm 63:1)

A longing, a desire to know God. 

It starts with a desire to know God, and a longing for time spent with Him; time spent reading His Words (His gift to us - His own words, written and recorded for us to hold in our hands and read). Giving our time to listen to His Words, and to respond to His Words ... journaling our thoughts, communicating with Him about what He has written to us, listening to His heart. Getting to know who He is, and what He is like. 

Isn't this how we come to know another? We make a conscious effort to get to know someone. We spend time together, asking questions and listening to their answers. Paying close attention, spending focused time together.

Time together, listening to His Words.

Real communication involves real listening. For me, this listening part of conversation often takes on the form of journaling. I read His Words, and often I respond by writing out His Words in my journal. Listening, thinking on each word, for sometimes we can miss the meaning if we read too quickly. Just as when I am with my husband or a dear loved family member -  and I desire to pay careful attention to each and every word when this loved one is sharing their heart. I don't want to miss anything. I long to hear it all, to hear the heartbeat behind the words. I want to memorize the words, and hold them close - for they reveal the heart of the one I love.

And then with deep, intimate conversation, there is a sharing of our heart in response; after the listening, there is a sharing.

Again, for me - this often happens in my journal. I write out my response. I can speak it, of course, and I often do ... but as written words are a key form of expression for my thoughts, I will write out my response. Sharing my heart in response to His. 

God speaks to us in His Word,
and we respond in prayer,
entering into the divine conversation,
into communion with God.

Every day - a listening, and a responding.

A continuous communication, a sharing of hearts. And sometimes, an extended time set apart for deeper, uninterrupted listening and responding. A date, a day off, a weekly Sabbath day - set apart for the One we love the most. The One who is the Bread of Life; the One who fills up our deepest needs with His Love.

And along the way, as we spend valued, intimate time together, we will find that we are growing and becoming closer to Him than we even imagined. And those around us are drawn to Him as we reflect a sweet fragrance of His love to a dark and needy world. 

(Source for this beautiful free photo)