Thursday, September 22, 2016

To Savor the Seasons, To Savor Each Day



It can come so silently that we don't recognize it,
crowding it's way into our minds and our lives.

And gradually it takes over,
dictating our days, occupying our every moment.

It happens over and over again.
And we need to be rescued over and over again.

A pre-occupation with tasks, a busy hurried mindset, a focus on the urgent. 

A missing out on seeing, really seeing, all the beauty around us, in the eyes and hearts of those we love, in what we hold in our hands, in the every day of our lives.


Sometimes all it takes is a silent prayer, a cry for help, 

and the quieting of our hearts -

to draw us back into really seeing ...



Our summer, and especially our 18-day Pacific Coast Trip were just what we needed after a very, very busy six months. When we arrived back home, we were completely refreshed, filled up in heart and soul. And we purposed to hang on to that sense of rest, even in the midst of work and responsibilities.

But the busy, the rush, and the urgent have a way of slowly and surely creeping back into our lives again, don't they? 



And there is a need to push the pause button, 

to purposely slow down. Again.



I am not alone in this. I see it everywhere I go. 

I love how Shauna Niequist describes this longing in each of us for the ability to savor our moments, our time with those we love, our every day.


"What I want to do is savor this life - my life, my children, my community, this gorgeous world God created. That's what we all want, right? To soak up the goodness all around us, to be aware of holy fingerprints everywhere, to walk through each day expecting and noticing those glints and shimmers of the divine right in the daily - in a hug. a tomato sandwich, a quiet moment, a text from someone we love.
That's what I want, and so often I miss it. I lay in bed at night frustrated with myself that I allowed the minor annoyances of life to obscure the rich melody underneath it. I rush and push and don't even see the beauty all around me. I let my fear about the unknowns in our future or my desire to control everything and everyone around cover over the deep beauty and grace and peace that are playing like a drumbeat under everything." (Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are)

What if we paused to notice,

quieted our hearts to listen,

opened our eyes to really see

what is happening all around us -

the glimpses into another's heart,

the traces of God's love, 

everywhere, everyday.


I am thanking God for showing me, again, how easy it is for me to become wrapped up in tasks, in responsibilities and accomplishments. All good things, and worthy callings. But drawing me ever so slowly away from what is most important ... to take time to sit quietly, to notice the beauty in the every day, to listen and to care deeply, to soak in the gifts of His Presence, and His Love.


Good reminders ... each day.

And on this first day of Beautiful Fall.






(Giving credit - and my thanks -  
for the free printout in photo frame above: amberhousley.com)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Dessert


This delicious Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Dessert may seem like a summer dessert, but the caramel and the pecan make it good for any time of year!

This new-to-me recipe caught my attention a few weeks ago. Anything with caramel and vanilla ice cream sounds good to me! It also seemed like a good dessert to make to celebrate a daughter's birthday the beginning of September. 

It turned out to be a good choice - so delicious! And as several of my daughters asked for the recipe, I'll just post it here for them, and for anyone else who loves the flavors that are in this very special dessert.

An added bonus is that you can make it ahead of time, and have it in the freezer all ready for your special day. (Just remember to follow the directions and take it out of the freezer at least 10 minutes ahead of serving. It was still a bit difficult to cut into serving pieces after 10 minutes, so even a bit longer may be a good idea.)

Click on the "Source" link, below, to print ...

Caramel Pecan Ice Cream Dessert


Course: Desserts
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 35 min
Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 1-34 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter melted
  • 1-12 cups caramel ice cream topping
  • 2 quarts vanilla ice cream softened

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans and brown sugar. Add butter; mix well. Spread in a thin layer in a 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Crumble while warm; cool.
  2. Press half of crumb mixture into a 13x9-in. dish. Drizzle with half of caramel sauce; spread with ice cream. Top with remaining caramel sauce and crumb mixture. Cover and freeze until firm. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 12-15 servings.

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Thankful for the blessings of family, celebrations, and delicious food!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Praying for Deep Longings of Our Hearts



Do you have deep desires on your heart that bring you to tears? 
Longings so deep that you feel your heart weighed down? 
Your day can be carefree, 
and then a word, or a thought will enter into your heart, 
and you are all of a sudden overwhelmed 
to the point of tears. 


There are desires and longings that are in the deepest places of our heart, bursting up to the surface at unexpected times. And we wonder how we can go on with a heart so full of longing, and of the pain of waiting.

This is the case for me as a mom, as I pray for some family members. As my heart longs so much for them to follow Jesus, to be enveloped with His love that is beyond anything that we can even fully comprehend. A love that fills us to overflowing, and that gives us purpose and focus in every area of life.

And it may be the same for you, or it may be something different that fills your heart with longing, and your eyes with tears. You may long for a child to hold, or a husband to love, or your heart may be broken because you have lost someone very dear to you.


But - we can be encouraged as our tears come, 
as we pray, and as we wait ...

For as we wait and as we pray ... 
we are given the greatest gift of all - 
the gift of 'God with us'!


We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name.
Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in You alone.
(Psalm 33:20-22)


We are filled to overflowing with His presence,
and the road we travel leads us 
close to Him, and all that He has for us.


The cross you've been given -
is always God's kindest decision.
The cross you carry -
is carrying you 
toward who you are meant to be.
(Ann Voskamp)


Sometimes it is easy to despair, 
to grow weary in prayer ...


No discipline is enjoyable
while it is happening -
it's painful!
But afterward there will be a
perfect harvest of right living
for those who are trained in this way.
(Hebrews 12:11)


The longing, the waiting, the loving, and the praying ... 
are drawing us closer to Jesus than we ever imagined. 

And those deep desires that bring us to tears? 

They show us our need of Him, and we learn to run to Him ... 
finding more than we even longed for. 

For as we wait and as we pray, 
we have Him. 


Sharing my thoughts, and my tears, as I long for, and pray for some precious members of our family ... and as I remember the JOY that made the tears and the prayers in the past all worth it when some dearly loved family members returned to Him. By His grace, and His grace alone. 




Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Prayer for September


At the start of this beautiful month of September, when summer turns into fall, where we transition from the more carefree summer months to the more scheduled months of fall activities. Leaving the longer days of sunlight in the fresh outdoors, and entering into the warmth and soft glows of candles in our homes, spending time with those we love.

May this be our prayer as we navigate all that this month may bring to us ...

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock
where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for He is our refuge.

(Psalm 62:5-8 NLT)

Thank You, Lord, for these words and these reminders as I turn the page of my calendar to September. A month filled with joy (and my birthday month!), and the start of the beautiful, wonderful season of fall (a favorite!) ... and also, a month full of activity (many days filled with events and happenings). 

May I remember to wait quietly before You, each day, to place all my trust and hope in You alone, and to pour out my heart to You each day. For You are my refuge, and the giver of all that is good. May I watch each day for Your gifts, Your love, and all the ways You will be at work in this beautiful month of September ...


Thursday, August 25, 2016

In the Kitchen: End-of-Summer Recipes


I love summertime recipes, and had the urge to try out some new ones this summer! Here are a few of the new recipes that have made it into my growing collection of favorite recipes in the past few months!

Click on the links in the captions to print the recipes, if you are interested in trying them out, as well. We loved each of these recipes ...


Loaded Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad 

Fajitas in Pitas

Grilled Herbed Chicken & Potato Foil Packs

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Very Essence of Prayer



Prayer - that word that draws us, but also eludes us. Like we have it figured out, and yet it can feel out of reach. And sometimes we even slip into the default of thinking of it in terms of lists and obligations, when it really is so much more.


Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle -
yet the way to reality.
There is nothing more important,
or harder, or richer, or more life-altering.
There is absolutely nothing as great as prayer.


For prayer is our connection with God. Over six years ago when I started up my blog, prayer was one of my main topics that I wrote about. I chose to label one of my sections on the "pages" tabs of my blog for this topic:




If you click on the Heart Connect tab above, you'll find links to multiple posts that I have written over the years on this topic. And I continue to write about prayer; not because I have it all figured out, but because I continue to long to learn more ...

Prayer is a connecting of hearts -
ours to God's, and His to ours.

It's not reading or reciting through a list, 
though keeping a list of important things on our heart can be helpful as we talk with God.

It's not limited to a set, designated time on our schedule,
though having set times of concentrated communication with God can be very beneficial.

It's not one-way talking,
but is two-way communication.

It is not always easy,
but is often difficult as communication can be very hard at times.

It is not a waste of time, 
but is the most life-giving avenue to build a deep relationship.

It is one of the easiest things to be distracted from,
for it is one of the most important things we can focus on.

It is the sharing of hearts,
of growing in intimacy and knowledge with our Creator and God.

Prayer is continuing a conversation
that God has started
 through His Word and His grace ..."


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our Anniversary Dinner for Two


Sometimes when a very special day comes around, you celebrate with a very fun and memorable trip, which we did ... our amazing Pacific Coast Trip last month!

And sometimes when that special day comes, you take the whole weekend to relax and celebrate, which we did this past weekend. Our weekend included a day-trip to nearby Lincoln this past Friday, where we found the cutest little restaurant in the Haymarket, complete with outdoor seating, which we love.

And then sometimes when the very actual special day is here, you choose to celebrate quietly at your own home. Which is how we celebrated our 45th Wedding Anniversary on August 14, with a meal-for-two on our own patio ...


And if you're blessed with a loving, caring husband as I am, he'll wait patiently while you take photos of the special meal that you have prepared together as a couple ...

Grilled Spiced Salmon
We love salmon! I buy my salmon fillets in a 3-pound package at Sam's. It is perfect for the two of us, as the pieces are wrapped individually, and we can pull out just two pieces at a time to prepare. This recipe is our favorite way to prepare salmon ...

Grilled Potatoes
This is also a favorite way to grill potatoes. For this meal, I tried something new, and added some slices of summer squash and zucchini to the sliced potatoes. It was a success, and I'll be doing that again in the future ...



The Corn & Black Bean Salad was a new recipe to add to our plate. I picked it because my husband likes dishes with black beans. It turned out to be maybe my favorite salad so far with black beans. Here's the recipe if you are looking for a good black bean salad dish ...


Click on the Taste of Home link (below) to print recipe.

Corn and Black Bean Salad



Course: Salads
Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 20 min
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper chopped
  • 1 medium tomato seeded and chopped
  • 6 green onions chopped
  • 12 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely chopped, optional
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 34 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • 34 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 12 teaspoon chili powder

Directions

  1. Directions In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the salad dressing, cilantro, lime juice, hot pepper sauce and chili powder. Pour over corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 6-8 servings. Editor's Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. 
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And as we enjoyed our anniversary meal together on our patio, we shared and talked about sweet memories from 45 years ago! How can time go by like this, and it can already be 45 years?! 

As I am very s-l-o-w-l-y trying to put our memories into scrapbook form, it was so fun to be able to pull out the scrapbook from our honeymoon days, 45 years ago. To remember together, and to thank God for the great, priceless, wonderful gift He gave us in each other. 

Celebrating and thanking God for 45 years together!