Monday, November 17, 2014

In the Kitchen

Menu planning has always been important to me. Of course, it was a very necessary thing when our six children were still at home. And I am finding that it is also very important for me to make the effort to plan menus during our empty nest years. It is just too easy to put off the planning, and then to struggle with what to make when dinner time draws near. 

Just for fun ... here's a little peak into my kitchen. Not a peak ahead to the coming week, but a glance back to see what took place In the Kitchen last week. Sharing what was on the menu for last week ...

Soup Night
Cheesy Chicken Chowder (doubled - a large pot)
(served to guests one night, 
another night for just the two of us,
and a meal taken to my father another night)

Sat. Night Breakfast
Pancakes & Eggs (made by my hubby!)

Sunday Dinner
Meatloaf (doubled - some for the freezer)

Grilled Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
Ham & Cheese on Flat Bread
Hashbrown & Egg Dish

Herb Bread (from this amazing cookbook,
just for bread machines)

Pumpkin Squares (from the freezer)

It was a quieter week in my kitchen - there were several meals of fast food as we made multiple trips to help out with my father in the Health Center, and we also enjoyed a special meal out together for our Friday Date Night. I also took some time over the weekend to start on menu planning for the next six weeks, taking us through the busy and wonderful holiday season.

What have you been creating in your kitchen?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Quietness and in Trust

Quietness and Trust ...

Do these words go hand-in-hand? Do we need quietness in order to live a life of trust

I don't mean the kind of quietness that is associated with being quiet, as is a trait to some degree of those who have an introvert personality. In contrast to being an extrovert. For even an introvert, as myself, can live in a state of unrest, quite the opposite of what is implied by quietness

Quietness - a reference to the state of our hearts and our minds. 

In this age of busy, and hurry, of instant information and communication at our fingertips all through the day, where can we find the peace and the rest that we long for, and that we are made for?

In quietness and in trust
shall be your strength.
(Isaiah 30:15)

Maybe for each of us the journey to this place of rest and trust will be different. But for all of us, it surely calls for finding a way to periodically and regularly pull ourselves away from the noise and busyness of our lives. Pulling ourselves away long enough so that we can hear and connect to the heart of God.

It may be in the quiet of our home, or an hour or two at a coffee shop, or time spent outdoors in the beauty of creation, or even while driving in the car. Whatever it is that feeds our souls, wherever we are - it's a pulling away, and a quieting of our hearts and our minds. To listen, and to communicate. 

Just as Jesus did, when he often went off by Himself to pray. In need of perspective, in need of time with His Father. He needed to spend time away from the crowds and the never-ending demands on His time.

Be still before the Lord,
and wait patiently for Him.
(Psalm 37:7)

This may look different in the changing seasons of our lives. When our six children were young, time for quiet was scarce, and I learned to retreat during nap time. Always a thousand things that needed to be done, and it was a conscious effort to leave my to-do list. But it was so worth it to retreat. For that time, though short, helped fill my heart and soul with the peace, trust, and strength that I needed.

And now in our empty nest season of life, when life certainly is not empty but somehow feels very full ... finding times to pause do not take quite as much of an effort. But it still calls for a continual effort, a choosing to set aside our work and our responsibilities to pay attention to the most important. 

Two summers ago my hubby and I made the choice to pull away from our work each week for an extra, undivided time of quiet. A few hours one afternoon of each week. It all began that first day of May in 2012, the first day of our wonderful three-month Sabbatical/vacation - and we wanted to make that first day of our three months count. We wanted God's perspective and direction for how we would spend the days and weeks ahead. 

That first afternoon of pulling away to a quiet place has turned into over two years now, of leaving our work and responsibilities one afternoon each week and finding a place of rest and quiet. Pushing the pause button on life - to be still, and to listen to His Words, to journal, to gain His perspective.

The photos in this post are from one of those afternoons last month. It was a gorgeous fall day - the sounds of the fountain and the geese wandering through the park, and the warmth of the sun - all filled up our senses. And the words that we each read while sitting in our lounge chairs by water's edge gave us peace and rest. We were filled up and strengthened. The stresses and unrest that sometimes creep into our lives were replaced by a spirit of quietness and trust.

Life is full of unknowns, of the things that can bring worry and pain, of responsibilities and opportunities that can overwhelm us - and we are always in need. Of peace, of strength, of Him. Even as we left the park that afternoon last month and headed back to our vehicle, we received an emergency phone call, and we were needed to help in a desperate situation. How thankful we were that we were at peace, and we were strengthened. 

In quietness and in trust
shall be your strength.

For more posts on things of most importance in the season of life I am in, and also, in all the seasons of life:
Heart Focus

Linking up with:
Tell His Story
Coffee for Your Heart
Spiritual Whitespace

Friday, November 7, 2014

Always, Never Stop, and Be Thankful

Such familiar words ... and sometimes it is the familiar words that all of a sudden reach out to us from the pages of God's Word and grab our hearts in a new and fresh way. 

It has been a rough three weeks as we are caring for my 93 year-old father. He went from an independent living apartment at a retirement community to the hospital and now to the health center/nursing home level (for at least a month) at the same retirement community where he has lived for the past eight years. It has been a difficult ride for him, and for us as family. Lots of things to be thankful for along the way, but it has been extremely emotional and exhausting for all involved.

Last night it was these words that grabbed my heart in a new, fresh way ...

Always be joyful.
Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you
who belong to Christ Jesus.
(I Thess. 5:16-18)

Even in trials and hard times? Even when our emotional and physical energies are depleted and drained? Even when we do not know what is ahead?

Especially in times of trial ...
in all circumstances.

Appreciate prayers for my hubby and me ... to Always, Never Stop, and to Be Thankful. And especially for my father that he will be given grace for the same.

For more posts on this topic:

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Welcome November

A new week and a new day. 
And the first week day of a new month. 
And I am starting off these fresh gifts of 'new', in need. 
In great need. Of You, Lord.

October is past. It was a glorious month. And it was a month where emotional and physical energy was stretched almost beyond it's limits. It was a month of our restful, refreshing trip to Colorado Springs, of life-giving weekly Devo Days with my hubby, of the gorgeous brilliant colors of fall that fill up our souls. And it was a month of transition as now a third (grown) child lives states away from us, of emotional grieving as my 93 year-old father faced new trauma and as he went from independent living apartment to hospital to health center nursing home (maybe for a short time, maybe longer) and we became acting Power of Attorney. It was a good month, and it was a hard month.

November is here. It will also be filled with the good and the hard. For God's good gifts are all around us, even in the midst of trial and pain. He promises to be all that we need. And I am thankful. And in the midst of a full life and a full month and as the holidays draw closer, when things can get stressful and our energies can become depleted, this is my prayer ...

May I live each day in the moment,
not governed by to-do-lists,
tasks to be completed

But may my days and my moments
be lived in the present,
fully focused on You, following You

And my God will meet
all your needs
according to His glorious riches
in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

What does this new month of November bring with it for you? May it be filled with His Love and His Presence. Each day and each moment ... 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Our Helper and Guide

Life is filled with surprises, and unexpected turns. And at times, we find ourselves overwhelmed, not knowing which way to go. 

Such was the case for us a week ago. We had just returned from an amazing week in Colorado Springs - a great conference where we were refreshed by our connections with other Cru staff, and also by a few extra days of vacation together after the conference, just my hubby and me.

We were completely taken off guard by what awaited us back home ... my 93 year-old father was in great need, and mixed in with our Cru work and responsibilities at home after a week away, we spent our week caring for my father. 

And as we look back on the intense week of caring for my father's needs, we are very aware that we were not alone. That somehow, things were happening in the order that they should, to bring about the care that was needed.   

So very thankful ...
  • that the crisis did not come until we returned from our trip
  • that because of my father's regular doctor being gone last week, we were introduced to another one - one who was able to communicate very clearly to him about what needs to be done
  • for the specialist that this new doctor referred us to, and that we were able to get in for an appointment the very next day
  • for admittance to the hospital a few hours after the appointment with the specialist
  • for wisdom of doctors and nurses as a plan was made
  • for my father's complete cooperation with this plan, a miracle
  • moving my father to the skilled nursing center (for a period of treatment) in the retirement facility where he has an independent living apartment - and for his complete cooperation and welcoming of all help

Thank You, Lord, for carrying us through each step of this past week - it was so very emotionally and physically intense - for my father, and for my hubby and me (along with other family). Thank You for the miracle that our father is welcoming all the care, and is cooperating fully with his caregivers. Thank You for peace that You are giving him in the midst of the trauma of the week.

Life is full of unknowns, and heart-breaking situations. And we honestly do not know what is around the next corner. What even today will bring. But I am so thankful and I am reminded that with each step, we have a Helper, and a Guide who shows us where to go.

I will instruct you 
and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will counsel you
and watch over you.
(Psalm 32:8 NIV)

Colorado Springs Trip (Part 2)

After a recent Cru regional conference that we went to in Colorado Springs, we stayed on for a few extra days of vacation together. Something we often do at this season of life that we are in - retirement age, but not retired. It was absolutely gorgeous weather the week of Oct. 12-18 ... perfect for our three days at the conference at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, and perfect for two extra days of relaxing and enjoying the sights of the area. So very thankful for our time together there ...

(Digital Scrapbooking supplies - Page Template: Jessica Sprague - Creativity by Design Template 01; Papers: Digital Scrapper Premier 2012 11 Autumn Days.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Colorado Springs Trip (Part 1)

It's been quiet here on my blog for about ten days. The reason is that my hubby and I have been gone on a little trip. Road trips are one of our favorite things to do together, and so when we were asked to represent Cru High at a regional conference in Colorado Springs, we were happy! So very thankful for our time with other Cru staff at the conference, and also for a free afternoon when we had the treat of visiting cousins in the area. 

(Credit for digital scrapbook supplies - Page Template: Scrap Girls JSM_dD-pageGrids; Paper: kcroninbarrow-grace.)

Then, as we often do during the season of life that we are in now (retirement age, but not retired), we stayed on for two vacation days after the conference ... relaxing, enjoying the beauty of God's creation, and being refreshed. Such a gift to spend time together in Colorado Springs. 

Click here for Part 2 of our time in Colorado Springs.