Thursday, September 30, 2010

Never Stop Praying

These three words, "never stop praying", from I Thess. 5:17, can be confusing. Another version says, "Pray without ceasing". How can we be continually focused on "praying"?

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, in Live a Praying Life, offers some depth of understanding to prayer, that gives me some deeper insight into these three words.

She says, "Prayer is not a group of words sandwiched between 'Dear God' and 'Amen'." We often tend to think of prayer as limited to that segment of time when we specifically verbalize our needs to God, punctuated by our "Dear God", and our "Amen".

But there is so much more to prayer. Live a Praying Life is living in a continual awareness of God, with a continual opening of our hearts to Him, expressing and living out our continual dependence on Him throughout our day.

Prayer is ... keeping company with Him all through each day.

"Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(from Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Egg Quiche

In following through with my renewed commitment this fall to pursuing the art of serving good food with love (see my previous entry), I'll be sharing some posts periodically featuring some favorite recipes of mine.

One of my favorite things to make for breakfast is a trusted recipe that I have used for years ... Egg Quiche. It's one that I use often when we have family or friends here for night, as it is such an easy recipe to assemble for breakfast in the morning. It doesn't require a crust, which makes it extra quick to make. It also works great for just the two of us at home now, as I can make up a recipe of it, and store it in the refrigerator to use for a number of breakfasts.

Earlier this morning this quiche recipe was calling for my attention ... such a treat to enjoy it again for breakfast. And so easy to make, with just 5 main ingredients:

Egg Quiche

6 eggs
3-4 slices bacon (I use the pre-cooked bacon)
dry, minced onion
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 can evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the bacon in the microwave, according to directions.
Crumble, and place on bottom of a buttered 9" pie plate.
Sprinkle the onion on top of the bacon.
Put the cheese over the bacon and onion.


Next, mix the eggs and milk, and pour over the top.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Test by inserting knife (should come out clean);
remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.


Serve a slice of quiche, together with some toast or a muffin, and your choice of fruit ... and enjoy!

Focus on Food

Fall always brings a new focus on the blessing of food! The cooler weather, and the warmth of home draws me to good food.

Gary and I decided to take some time off together on my birthday yesterday. We used a gift card that we had received from some dear friends, and treated ourselves to eating out for lunch at Mimi's Cafe at Village Pointe. A fun place to eat, and ... delicious food!


I think food is so beautiful, in addition to being delicious! And I cannot resist taking photos of beautiful, delicious food ...


A wonderful way to spend my birthday! We had celebrated as a family earlier in the month (click here to see photos), so later, in the evening, I had a few quiet hours for a fun project regarding food while Gary was gone at a Student Venture event.

It seems that it has been easy for me to get a bit too relaxed (negligent?) about menu planning, especially with just the two of us at home now ... and I have been thinking that I need to focus on menu planning and food prepartion more. For even though I love good food and do enjoy putting a good meal together, there are often other things that pull my attention elsewhere. Fall seems to be the perfect time to renew my focus on menu planning ...

As a motivation for myself, and possibly as an encouragement for my family and friends who read this blog, I will be sharing more posts about food in the future. It is all part of pursuing to be all that God desires for me as a woman, serving my family and friends with love.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Synchronize My Heart to Yours

How do I put into words the depth of what is covered in Lesson 1 Day 5 of the Live a Praying Life worktext? I want to try to summarize the author's thoughts, so that I can hold them in my heart.

The purpose of prayer (to bring God's will to earth) requires that we have a heart transformation. This comes as we continually focus our minds and hearts on Him, and quiet ourselves to listen to His Spirit within us.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean writes, "As you behold His glory, you are changed so that your heart is a reflection of His. His will is reflected in your prayers. This is not because you now have more influence on Him, but because He now has more influence on you. The secret of prayer is not how to change God, but how to be changed by Him."

Much like synchronizing a computer to a mobile device ... a clear comparison that the author shares with us. This transfers what is on God's heart ... to our hearts. As a result, we will "live a praying life".

For "prayer is more than the words that come sandwiched between 'Dear God' and 'Amen'. Prayer is an ongoing interaction between the material world and the spiritual world."

Lord, please download Your thoughts to my heart ... synchronize my selfish, finite thoughts to Yours, so that Your desires are deeply impressed on my heart each day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Standing in the Gap

I can barely even begin to grasp the significance of what is covered in Lesson One of Live a Praying Life. The truths taught here grabbed my attention a year or two ago when I went through this study on my own, and now, as I am going through it again with a group of friends, I am still blown away by the truths taught here.

Today our homework led us to look at two different instances ... one recorded in Exodus 32, and the other in Ezekiel 22. In both of these instances, God's people had greatly sinned, and in both, they had earned God's judgment because of their sin. In both of the cases, God desired to show mercy. And in one of the incidents, God withheld His punishment, but in the other, He did not.

What caused the different outcomes? In the Exodus account, Moses was used of God to intercede for the people. In Ezekiel, God looked for someone to intercede, but He "found no one".

Author Jennifer Kennedy Dean says, "What God wants to do on the earth, He will do through intercessors. Prayer releases the will of God, bringing His will out of the spiritual realm and causing it to take effect in the material realm. Prayer opens the way for God to do what He longs to do. When God wants to change the course events will take on their own, He calls out an intercessor."

I am pondering on this today. It is difficult to even wrap my finite human mind around this, but I am wanting to learn. I want to understand and respond to God's truth.

Lord, help me to walk so closely with You that Your desires become imprinted on my heart ... please use me to intercede for those whom You desire to show mercy and love, rescuing them from the natural consequences of sin.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Praying Life

"Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by Your truth, and teach me,
for You are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in You."
Psalm 25:4-5

These are the verses that Live a Praying Life gives for us to ponder on and pray over each day this week as we begin a 13-week study on the topic of prayer.

Prayer ... that word brings a lot of questions to our minds. Do our prayers change the heart of God? If we believe that they do, then who is in control ... God, or us? And if our prayers do not change anything ... then, why bother to pray? These are just a few of the questions that are brought up in the worktext for the study on prayer that is starting up this week with a group of about 20 women in our little community.

Prayer is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, as I have played a part in organizing various prayer focuses over the years ... and yet, as we begin this study, I am wanting to go deeper. I am wanting to learn more about living a praying life daily. It is not an activity, but it is a relationship. I want to join the author (and the other women in our study group), on the "never-ending journey to live a praying life".

Loving Lord, please "show me the right path ... point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by Your truth, and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reflections

In the last week and a half we have experienced an array of family events: a reunion with our extended Siebert family, a wedding, a family birthday gathering, and the funeral service for my Aunt Winnie. Maybe it is the cool breeze in the air, along with the cloudy, rainy weather today that is adding to my reflective spirit, causing some little tears to cloud my vision this morning. So much to ponder over ... especially from the funeral service yesterday.

Aunt Winnie's life was so simple, even challenged in a sense with some of her limitations (and we all have limitations in varying degrees) ... but I am wanting to pause in the active pursuit of living today, and just think about her life, about all of our lives. Think about what is most important. And dwell on the beauty that we saw yesterday ... the life of a woman who lived simply and who loved God. And the example of a loving church family who embraced my Aunt Winnie, especially as most of her relatives lived a distance away. How they included her in with their own families, sharing the warmth of their homes and their hearts, even at special holiday times. These families were a reflection of Jesus to her. How thankful I am for them ... and for their example of love.

I am also grieving for my aunt today ... there will be no one to stop and see as we drive through Nebraska on I-80 heading to and from Colorado once or twice each summer. There are no more of my close relatives left in that little town along the interstate. However, the small church cemetery along a quiet country road will continue to pull our little Honda off the interstate. We will want to stop and spend some time at my dear mother's gravesite, as well as at the site for my grandparents, and now ... my Aunt Winnie.

Time keeps going by ... we lose our loved ones, and we pause in our busy lives, and remember what their lives stood for, what they taught us, how they were a reflection of God to us. And this morning I am pondering what is most important in life ...

"You must love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
all your soul, and all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
A second is equally important:
Love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22:37-38

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Heart Preparations

I am so looking forward to a community Women's Bible Study starting up tomorrow, using an amazing worktext (as well as video presentation), Live a Praying Life, by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. I have already gone through the first half of this study on my own about a year ago, and had wished for a group to go through it, as it is so powerful and insightful. This wish is coming true! So thankful for the three women who co-lead an area women's study, who have taken on this topic for their fall session.

There is so much to learn about prayer; I am looking forward to going deeper into the inner workings of prayer. As the author explains in the Introduction, "Prayer ... can be an activity or it can be a life. A praying life is a life of ongoing and continual interaction with God ... an uninterrupted flow of love between the Father and me."

I think that God has been preparing me for a deeper focus on prayer in these last few weeks leading up to the start of this study. It seems that the verses that are standing out to me as I read His Word, often have to do with the topic of prayer.

One such verse was from one of my favorite passages, Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message Translation). I love that whole section of verses and look at it often, but the part that jumped out at me last week was "Keep company with Me and you will learn to live freely and lightly."

The first thing that comes to my mind when I read "Keep company with Me" is a reminder to be in His Word, keeping His thoughts always before me. And an added dimension stood out to me last week ... when we keep company with someone, there must be a two-way dialogue, a continual sharing of thoughts. Not only do I want to keep God's thoughts before me throughout the day, but I also want to be communicating my thoughts with Him all through the day. A constant dialogue. And the result of continually dialoguing with our great Creator God ... we will learn to live freely and lightly.

Loving Father, please lead me, and each of the women who will be taking part in this powerful study, to all that You long to teach us about living a praying life. Not looking at prayer as an activity, but as our life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blessed with Bread

Yesterday our home was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread! I continue to be so grateful for the Bosch machine that I inherited from my dear mother a few years ago. But sadly, my machine took a six month rest from making bread, as our spring and summer were filled with other things that kept me occupied.

What a treat to be able to make a recipe of six loaves of bread yesterday. This time of year just calls me to the kitchen ... and I just had to take photos, as it was such a treat to be able to make bread again.

My Whisper Mill grinds up the wheat grain ...

Freshly ground flour makes the best tasting bread!

The Bosch kneads dough for six loaves of bread at one time ...

The dough is set out to rise ...

Twenty minutes later!

Dividing the dough into six portions ...

Ready for the final rising ...

After rising for 30 minutes on the oven shelves, I turn the oven on ...

So thankful for my convection oven that will bake all six loaves at once!

Two and a half hours from when I started ... six loaves of delicious bread!

Bread is so basic; a staple for our diets. And there is nothing quite like the warm, comforting scent of bread filling a house. It makes sense that Jesus is compared to bread, a common food, so basic, and so essential.

"I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again.
Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty."
John 6:35

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Heart of Joy

I have a growing collection of cards with verses that have been especially meaningful to me. Some verses are on just plain 3x5 cards, some on colored index cards, and some are decorated a bit with scrapbooking paper. Sometimes I like to set one up on a little shelf in our bathroom while I am getting ready for the day.


The card that found it's place on the little shelf this morning was Philippians 4:4-7. A favorite of mine, and one which I need to think on often. It is my natural tendency to worry about things. With six children, nine grandchildren, a busy life, and a confusing world ... there are always things to worry about.

The first sentence is what grabbed my attention this morning ...

"Always be full of joy in the Lord."

How can a person always be full of joy? I know that is not true for me. Often, instead of being filled with joy, I am filled with worry.

I am so thankful for some time to think on these verses this morning ... always good to hear God's perspective again. And I am reminded that the answer to being filled with joy comes later in these verses.

"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."

Worry doesn't bring peace or joy ... but talking to God about the things that concern us is what brings us the joy that we long for. As we talk to Him all through the day about the things that cause us worry, God brings a peace that is beyond anything we can understand. And this peace and joy guards our hearts, as well as our minds.

I woke up this morning with some worries filling my thoughts ... and after applying these words from God, my heart is experiencing peace and joy again. Thank You, Lord. You are the source of all that we long for ...

Monday, September 6, 2010

A New Look

I love the seasons, and fall is one of my favorites. The cooler weather, and the warmth of the holidays coming up always fills me with a sense of excitement and anticipation. After the freshness of spring and the adventure of summer, I look forward to all that this new season brings ...

~ the soft glow of candles
~ aroma of bread baking
~ family home for holidays
~ cozy evenings with our wood stove burning
~ menus of soups and comfort foods
~ renewed focus and vision

Thank You, Lord ... You are the creator of the seasons, and You are the creator of all that is good. Please draw my heart to pursue You above all else at this change of seasons.