Thursday, June 23, 2016

Loaded Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Maybe a new favorite grilled sandwich meal? I tried out this new recipe earlier this month, and we loved it!

I used all the ingredients listed, and even had some ciabattata buns already on hand in the freezer. Instead of purchasing deli coleslaw, I mixed up an easy and tasty coleslaw - click here for the recipe. (I made it even easier and used packaged coleslaw in the coleslaw recipe, instead of shredding the cabbage.)

This sandwich is loaded with deliciousness! It was a bit messy to eat with the cole slaw and also avocados in the sandwich, but it was absolutely so good. A taste of summer!

Loaded Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Course: Main Grill
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Total Time: 30 min
Serves: 4


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
  • 2 teaspoons Italian salad dressing mix
  • 4 slices pepper jack cheese
  • 4 ciabatta or kaiser rolls, split
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 34 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 cooked bacon strips halved
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 12 medium ripe avocado peeled and thinly sliced
  • 12 pound deli coleslaw (about 1 cup)


  1. Pound chicken with a meat mallet to flatten slightly; sprinkle both sides with dressing mix.
  2. On a greased grill, cook chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from heat 4-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°. Place cheese on chicken; grill, covered, 1-2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, grill rolls, cut side down, 1-2 minutes or until toasted.
  3. Mix mayonnaise and mustard; spread on roll tops. Layer roll bottoms with chicken, bacon, tomato, avocado and coleslaw. Replace tops. Yield: 4 servings.

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It has been quite awhile since I have posted a recipe! Such fun to post recipes, especially of such delicious and beautiful summer food!

(Note: Click the Taste of Home link after "Source" to print the recipe.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Abide in Me

When a plant becomes dry and brittle, it usually becomes apparent that it either has not been given the necessary nourishment of water or of good soil, or it has not received enough sun. 

Could it be the same for us?

When we begin to operate on empty, and find that instead of overflowing with joy and peace, that grumbling and worry are flowing out of us, maybe we need to check if our hearts have been properly nourished.

And where does our nourishment come from?

When we pause our hurried lives and our hearts to listen, we will find that just maybe we need to press the "refresh" button. Maybe we need to pull aside, to rest, to be refreshed physically ... and maybe we also need to slow our pace and rest our souls. To press the pause button, to quiet our hearts, to listen to Him. To be watered by His Word, and to lift our hearts to receive His love. 

 Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
(John 15:4)

Webster's dictionary defines "abide" in this way: "to remain, continue, stay, to have one's abode, dwell, reside, to wait for, to submit to, to remain faithful or steadfast to."

I am the Vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in Me, and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5)

- - - - - - - - - -

Writing these words for my own heart, as I have come off of a very busy season of serving and helping others, and I am reminded of my source of nourishment. And maybe you are in a similar place. May we choose to abide, to remain, to dwell in His Words and His Love.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Mother's Garden: The Seeds, The Growth

Spring - the time of fresh colors and fragrant blossoms ... the time to dream of beautiful gardens - the time to purchase the vegetable garden seeds and flower seeds, and the flower plants that we will pot - the time to carefully prepare the soil.

We put a lot of effort into our yards and our gardens - all for the purpose of growing beautiful, fragrant flowers, or bountiful crops of veggies ... tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans.

We do all we can possibly do to get the most vibrant growing crop. We purchase just the right seeds and plants. We prepare the soil, we plant, we water, we weed. And we water and weed over and over again. 

And I wonder ... 

do we maybe begin to think that

we are the ones who cause the garden to grow ... 

that it is our efforts that cause a seed to sprout, 

that because of our working the soil for our flower pots and our gardens, 

that we are the ones who are producing the flowers, the bountiful crop of tomatoes, cucumbers??

And I also wonder ...
Do we have this same thinking
when it comes to mothering?

That over time - maybe, sometimes - 

we even begin to start imagining that we as mothers/wives are the ones 

who have brought the growth in our children, 

in our families? 

For after all, we are the ones who are doing the work. 

On our hands and knees working the soil, watering, pulling the weeds.

Do we maybe sometimes think that it is all up to us,
that it is our own efforts and work that brings the growth?

Do we begin to think that if we are good mothers, that our kids will make the right choices in life, that they will be good, that they will always follow after God? We put all of our effort into being the best mother possible, the best wife possible, and often find ourselves believing that maybe it is up to our own efforts to accomplish what we desire.

But ... the words of I Cor. 3:7 say it so clearly ...

"So neither he who plants
nor he who waters is anything,
but only GOD
who gives the growth."

And I wonder if our thinking about 
planting and growth in relation to our families 
makes a huge difference in 
how much we really do depend on God ...
how earnestly we seek after Him,
what our first priorities are,
and even how we view prayer as wives and mothers.

For if we think that things are really up to our own efforts ... if we think that what we do brings about growth in our child (growth in character, and in relationship with God), and that how we are as wives is what brings the things that we desire for our husbands ... then that is what we focus on most of all - our own efforts. And of course, we pray, too, but we do not view prayer as really very critical or of real importance.

Of course, our own efforts are important ... all the time and love that we put into our families is crucial and is hugely important. It is our calling, our responsibility to love, develop, and nurture our families. We need to give our complete focus to mothering, learning all we can, nurturing and not neglecting, giving of ourselves, our energies, our time. But as mothers ...

 We cannot make a seed sprout and grow.
It is only GOD. He is the Creator.
He is the only one who can mold a heart.
Only GOD brings the growth.

To be continued in the next weeks/months, 
with more thoughts on mothering, 
and more thoughts on our highest calling as mothers ... 
following after God with our whole hearts,
loving, nurturing, and praying for our children,
depending on Him alone.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Beauty of Mothering

Giving credit and thanks to Bonnie, for freely sharing her beautiful graphics!

Mother's Day ...

a day that carries so much beauty
and so many emotions. 
For how can one word - one person -
hold a place of such huge significance?

My life changed forever when I held my sweet baby daughter in my arms for the first time. It was May 11, 1973 - just two days before I had the greatest privilege of celebrating my very first Mother's Day. And since then, I have been blessed to mother five more precious ones ... four daughters, and two sons in all. It is one of life's greatest blessings to carry the name of mother.

Mothering is one of the most wonderful, glorious, beautiful, emotional, heart-breaking, all-consuming roles that you could wish for, or even imagine. And it is one of the most longed for roles for many. It is simply one of the most fulfilling roles there is, and it is clearly one of the most demanding roles that we can ever experience. It can be dreamt about and highly anticipated, can come unexpected and unplanned for, or it can be out of reach for many who long for it so deeply.

Mothering can fill our days with beauty, warmth, and more love than we can even imagine, and it can also deplete us of strength, joy, and bring us to our knees over and over again.

Mothering is complex. 
It calls for more than we have.
How can we possibly fulfill 
all that this role calls for? 

And in the complexity of this role, and in all the emotions of the good and the hard days of mothering, I have found that there is one constant. One thing that never changes. Though each day of mothering may bring new and diverse situations and responsibilities, a need for much wisdom to know how to mother in these specific circumstances, and with each day we often find ourselves with an array of emotions for as mothers our love is so deeply connected with our children - in all of this ... there is a source of solid, firm, constant, faithful support for us as we mother.

I have found over and over again, that mothering is what draws me to Jesus more than anything else in this life. Mothering is what lifts up my heart to Him in thanks - as I am filled with the deep joy of mothering, of the joy in giving of unconditional love, of joy in the receiving of the sweetest of love, of the joy of seeing life develop and thrive. 

And mothering is what draws me to need Him in ways that I never knew before, for I have found myself in places of need that I have never known before. Mothering has a way of making us feel so completely helpless. For we are completely helpless to accomplish what we desire most in the lives of our loved children. We can give of our very best efforts, but we, ourselves, do not hold the power to change hearts. It is only God who can accomplish the things of the heart.

We do not have what it takes to mother. We are in need of Him. Everyday. Whether our children are little, or are grown. I need His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) These are the character qualities that we need every day as we mother, and these come only from Him. Mothering is beyond ourselves. We are in need every day as we mother.  

As we find ourselves in need of Him, 
as we are held by Him - 
we find all that we need as mothers.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wishing you a Mother's Day
filled to overflowing
with love from children, and family,
and most of all,
with the faithful, unending
love of God for you, as you mother.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Lord, Give Me an Undivided Heart

Lord, I long for You to give me an undivided heart this new month, and each new day. 

May I live each day ...

* Focusing on You, looking to You alone for approval
* Listening to Your Words, new and alive each day
* Quieting my heart to hear Your whispers above the noise
* Believing truth above lies
* Praying instead of stressing and worrying
* Trusting Your promises, obeying Your instructions
* Thanking and praising You each day and in all circumstances
* Living my days, my moments, for Your purposes

Saturday, April 30, 2016

My April Memories

My blog has been quiet - very quiet - during the month of April. But though there has not been any activity here on the blog, there has been a lot going in real life for me. Which, of course, is part of the reason that I have not been able to do as much writing as I normally do. But before the close of this month, and before a brand new month is here, I am pausing, and sharing some of my memories and my thanks from the wonderful month of April! This post is a bit different than my normal devotional-type posts, and is a warm invitation to come by for a visit as I share from my life during the month of April.

It's always good to give thanks ...

At the top of my thankful list for this month of April is ... my dear hubby! I am always so, so thankful for him, and after the scare of a stroke the end of February (you can read about it here on our family/ministry blog), I am cherishing our days together even more. 

Gary is the main reason that I have chosen to cut back on the amount of writing that I do here on my blog. He has always been my biggest encourager to write and share here, but ... I am wanting to be available and supportive of him in even more ways than before. I help a lot in our Cru office in our home, and am also trying to make life simpler and easier for him (and for both of us) in the midst of our very full life of ministry and family!

His doctor appointments have continued since the stroke, as the followup tests have shown several things that need to be taken care of in order to try to prevent another stroke. He has had 7 doctors appointments in April (with 3 different cardiology specialists, and also with our family doctor). He also had an outpatient surgery done (photo above right) where he had a heart monitor (Implantable Loop Recorder) implanted in his chest area, as a means to monitor any unusual activity in his heart. We're thankful for the good care of his doctors.

Both of us love the spring season, and it was a treat for us to have one of our sons-in-law come over and till our 10x30 foot veggie garden spot. It's all ready now for planting soon.

How thankful I am for ... the gift of family! Each connection with our family has been like a gift to me and my hubby. Each time we see them, each phone call, each text. How thankful we are for our three daughters and their families who live nearby, and for another daughter and her family, and for our two sons who live a distance away. They are such encouragers to us, and such a help in many ways. We are blessed.

And our ten grandkids are such a gift, as well. Two grandsons turned 7 years old early in the month of April, and our oldest granddaughter turned 20 years old in the middle of the month! How can that be? We have now had the great privilege of being grama and grampa for 20 years!!

It was fun to go to a junior high track meet last weekend to watch one of our grandsons compete. It was a beautiful spring day, and such a treat to be there with family.

And I am thankful for God's grace and strength that enables my husband and me to care for two family members. We have many responsibilities each month with Gary's older, single brother who has recently moved into Parkview Manor, and also with my 95 year-old father who lives in an Assisted Living apartment at Skyline Retirement Community.

It becomes challenging at times to keep up with things, but we are grateful to be able to be of help. Some of my responsibilities are with taking care of the finances for three different accounts (besides our own, of course): my father's finances, my brother-in-law's finances, and also for a season now, the finances related to the family home that we are preparing for sale. 

April also held a very special celebration: one of my brothers came from Portland to help celebrate our father's 95th birthday! We gathered together with family at Dad's Assisted Living apartment for this special occasion. And we also were able to help Dad pick out an electric wheelchair, something he has been wanting to purchase for a few months now. 

In the midst of our full month of April, I did make time for a few fun personal projects: I did a bit more cooking again (after our very busy month of March when I needed to mainly use my supply of freezer meals) ... started up again with some exercising ... and spent some time reading. I love to read historical fiction, and have been reading Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill. Such a gripping book set during the time of the Revolutionary War, following the life and struggles of a kidnapped child from Africa, taken into slavery. Heart-breaking and very informative. I also am reading  The Beauty of Broken, subtitled "There's no such thing as a perfect family" on my iPhone Kindle app. I am really appreciating this book, and am highlighting so much of what I am reading - so very insightful.

It is hard to describe all that has been going on in my heart this past month. God is gently leading me to new places of surrender since my husband's stroke. It is definitely a process as we give over more and more of our own wills to accept whatever He has planned for us. Much of what He is teaching me is still in process, and I am thankful for His love and presence, and for all that He continually teaches us through all that life brings our way. 

It's hard to say what blogging will look like for me during the month of May. We will wait and see. I do have a few devotional posts already written, and will likely be sharing them soon. In the meantime, I would really love to connect with you on Instagram (click here), as well as on my Pursuing Heart facebook page (click here). I'll look for you over there, and would love to hear what is going on in your life, as well.

Monday, March 28, 2016

I Will Praise You, Lord

It was exactly one month ago today, that a new dimension was added to our lives. Our story as a couple now holds the dimension of having had a stroke. You can read more details of the stroke on our family/ministry site by clicking here.

And now, one month later ... after a three-night hospital stay for my husband, followed by multiple doctor visits and emergency room visits since then, we continue to be filled with thanks. It is always good to give thanks. There has been concern, even fear at times, and most certainly, there have been tears ... but underneath all, there has always been thanks.

Thank You, Lord ...

  • for Your presence with us when the unexpected enters our lives, that You can be trusted with all that You allow into our lives
  • that there were no damaging results left from the stroke
  • for all the testing that was done in the hospital to find possible causes
  • for our precious children who were by our side through the hospital stay, and each time we have needed them since then
  • for friends who have supported us through this time, and who faithfully pray for us
  • for the medical staff and doctors who continue to call for tests to determine the cause of the stroke, and who are continuing to make decisions regarding the best treatment to prevent a repeat stroke
  • for the stroke specialist, whose further testing has revealed some issues that still need to be dealt with
  • for my husband's steadfast faith and trust in the midst of this ordeal, never wavering
  • for Gary's recovery, and his perseverance and passion to continue on with Cru ministry even in the midst of this month of doctor visits
  • for the great, priceless gift of my dear husband -  the one I love above any other, for each new day together, for sweet, faithful love through our forty-four years together; all a gift from God
  • for God's promises and faithful presence with us each new day; for peace amidst the storms of life, and for a deep hope and anticipation of our eternal, forever home

It has been quite an adjustment for us as a couple and a family to have had this new dimension added to our lives. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors with the continued tests and doctor appointments. Please pray for us - for peace, trust, and for surrender to the story God is writing in our lives. All for His glory, and for our good. And please join us in our thanks and praise to Him!