Monday, August 29, 2011

A Summer of Thanks


The fresh, sunny days of summer will soon be turning into the cool, inviting days of fall. I love the fall season, and the holidays that come with it. I am not quite ready to let go of summer, though, and our upcoming trip to Italy for our 40th Anniversary Trip next month, will stretch out the feel of summer for another month for us.

Pausing today, just one week from when we fly off to Rome, I am full of thanks ~

~ for two great conferences this summer - opportunities to help at the SV Getaway conference for students in June at the beautiful YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park - and also the privilege of hearing from God through worship, speakers, and connecting with other staff at the Staff Conference we were at for ten days in July, again in beautiful Colorado!

~ for the fun we had hosting a family reunion here at our home the first week in July - much celebrating, of my father's 90th birthday, eight June and July birthdays, and two 40th Anniversaries (ours and also for a brother and sister-in-law) - 30 family enjoying being together for a week!

~ for a daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons moving close by, just 6 miles from us - a beautiful home, just what they dreamed of.

~ for news (through phone calls and email) from our youngest son, traveling in Europe for a few months - all is well, and great experiences for him.

~ a new part-time staff person joining our team, and two new couples joining as volunteers - now a staff team of six, and nearly 30 volunteers.

~ for excitement as we plan for another school year of reaching middle school and high school students for Jesus.

~ for some miracles, answers to prayer - and for the reminder to continually pray for family, for others.

~ for all our lodging lined up for Italy, and for anticipation of this amazing trip God has opened up for us.

~ for excitement mounting, as we leave one week from today for our 17-day trip to Italy!

~ for friends, and the love and encouragement that they give.

~ for a free weekend of lodging at Lake Okoboji over our actual wedding anniversary day earlier this month.

~ for a granddaughter and grandson here, and two more grandsons (and their parents) stopping by this past week - the gift of family.

~ for summer cooking - love the aroma of foods on the grill, and the taste of corn-on-the-cob, and watermelon and all the fresh veggies and fruits of the season.

~ for an uncle and aunt stopping by last Wednesday for a visit on their way back home to Colorado, and my 90 year-old father joining us for lunch.

~ for special times of prayer together with my husband on the hill overlooking our town.

~ for a fresh calling to prayer, one of the ways we are nourished in this love relationship with God; spending time together, listening, sharing of hearts.

"You have given me greater joy than those 
who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, 
for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe."
(Psalm 4:7-8)

(One Thousand Gifts #652-667)

Linking up with others at A Holy Experience, sharing gratitude.


Friday, August 26, 2011

My Third Page

This is the year for me to learn digital scrapbooking, and my progress has been a bit slower than I anticipated. Only because our lives have been busy with other things. The course I am going through (click here) is so thorough and so good, and I am now half way through!  

The page for lesson 26 (out of 52 lessons) used quite a few techniques that I had to review, as it had been a few weeks since I had done the previous lesson. But so fun - I love creating these pages, and hope to take more time for this in the future.


One year ago this month we were in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains - such good memories. And now, we are busy making preparations to leave for another wonderful, amazing vacation trip - this time to Italy! Click here to read about our big 40th Anniversary Trip! We are excited, and are thanking God for this incredible opportunity.

Linking up with others, sharing creative projects, at Delightful Order.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mother Prayers



There are many things that call for our attention as mothers, and one that needs to be top on our list is one simple word - to pray. Ranking right up near the top, along with the word love.

Of course, we do pray for our children ... spontaneous prayers all through the day, prayers of thanks, of joy, prayers asking for help with the challenging moments of mothering.

But do we comprehend how important it is for us to fervently, consistently seek God for the lives of our children? For what we long for in our children most of all, above everything else, is that they will seek after Him, and that they will live their lives deeply aware of His love for them, walking closely with Him through all of life. And this is beyond our grasp. This is in the realm of miracles. 

Ruth Bell Graham explains it so clearly:

"We mothers must take care of the possible and trust God for the impossible. We are to love, affirm, encourage, teach, listen, and care for the physical needs of the family. We cannot convict of sin, create hunger and thirst after God, or convert. These are miracles, and miracles are not in our department."

Are we willing as moms to give ourselves to praying for our children? Humbly, depending on God for miracles. Or do we think that we can accomplish the impossible? Thinking that miracles are in our own department.

There have been frustrating times in my life as a mom when I attempted, though unknowingly at the time, to accomplish the impossible in my own strength. We are to give our lives for our children, doing all we can possibly do to cultivate their hearts, but we need to depend on our Creator to cause the seeds to sprout and grow. We are to take care of the possible, and depend on, and ask God to do the impossible.

The miracles will come (and I have seen them in my own family), and in the process, another amazing miracle is done. A miracle which affects our own hearts in the process of mothering, of loving, and of praying. And that miracle is what God does in our own hearts.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean says in her study book on prayer, Live a Praying Life, "During the process, God is at work in us shaping us into the image of Christ. The process of prayer results in change in us. During the process of prayer, He is fashioning a heart like His."

As we give our lives to pray for our children (for our grandchildren, and for many others), our hearts become in tune with God's heart. And we are given the incredible opportunity, through prayer, to be part of what He longs to do.

"Rise during the night and cry out.
Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.
Lift up your hands to Him in prayer,
pleading for your children ..."
(Lamentations 2:19 NLT)

"When you call on Me, I will answer ..."
(Psalm 91:15)

"Thank You, Lord, for mothering, for giving us this great responsibility and privilege of being molded to Your heart as we pray for our children, depending on You alone. By Your grace and mercy, and for Your glory alone.

A few excellent resources to use as we pray for our children:
The Power of a Praying Parent - by Stormie Omartian
While They Were Sleeping - 12 character traits for moms to pray - by Anne Arkins and Gary Harrell
A Mother's Heart - by Jean Fleming
The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children - by Stormie Omartian

(I am very honored to have this post featured by Laura Krokos on her Beholding Glory blog. She is an amazing example of a woman totally giving her life to her children, and also to ministering to others. I learn a lot by reading her blog, and know that you will be blessed by her, as well. And I love how she always gives all the praise to God, lifting up the Name of Jesus.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our Dream Trip



This blog place has been fairly quiet this past week, as I have been off in dreamland. Every spare minute I could find amidst a very busy week, I was sitting with my head in travel guide books, or glued to websites on my laptop. Dreaming, and planning ...

We've been dreaming of and planning for our big 40th Anniversary Trip. We had a short trip last weekend, with free lodging, over our actual anniversary. But we've been saving money for over a year now for a big trip, planning to go to Quebec City, a city with a European flavor. This was our dream until one of the last days of July.

And now - our dream of going to Quebec City has been replaced with a bigger dream of going to ...  Italy !! We are bursting with excitement and are full of thanks to God for opening up this opportunity.

Counting gifts today, and giving all the praise to God:

~ for how we started questioning (the end of July) if Quebec City was really where we wanted to go, after all.

~ and the next day, without even knowing about our questioning, our youngest son suggested that we fly to Italy for our anniversary trip (instead of going to Quebec City), and meet up with him while he is traveling through Europe! (He left on August 2nd for an extended visit to Europe.)

~ for encouragement from each of our grown kids, and also my brothers and sisters-in-law, as well as my elderly father - each one telling us to go, without a doubt.

~ for travel guides and maps sent to us from a sister-in-law, so helpful - in addition to Pauline Frommer's Italy guide book that we had already purchased.

~ for peace and direction from God with this big decision - not something we do just any year, but something that we should do for our 40th anniversary, a real celebration and a gift from God!

~ for money already saved up, and for extra needed taken from our retirement fund.

~ airline tickets purchased, and Eurail pass in hand already.

~ lodging being lined up - in place already for Rome, and Venice - working on Florence now.

~ passport arriving in record time, just two weeks. (mine, as my husband's was already current)

~ phone calls from our son, in France now, and anticipation of meeting up with him in Italy for our 17 day trip in September.

~ unexpected joy, and dreams come true. Even beyond what we dreamed of.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us the desires of our hearts. For this first trip to Europe for me, and for the opportunity to go to Italy, the country my husband has been wanting to go to for years. For this fun trip for the two of us together, and also for time we will spend with our son. 


(One Thousand Gifts #641-651)

Linking up with others, sharing gratitude, at A Holy Experience

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forty Years


Counting gifts today, and counting my greatest gift on this earth - living life for 40 years now with my love and my best friend. Happy 40th Anniversary, Honey! Every year a gift; a gift that gets more precious to me with each passing year.

"Love brings a deep sense
of simply belonging."

Celebrating this weekend at Lake Okoboji ...

So thankful for 40 years of belonging to someone who loves me deeply, who is a picture of Jesus to me, and with whom I can walk closely together with through all of life.

And thanking God that we belong to Him forever ...

"I am yours for all eternity.
You have nothing to fear,
because I am with you for all time
and throughout eternity."
(Jesus Calling)

(One Thousand Gifts #601-640 - for 40 wonderful years with my love.)

Linking up with others, sharing gratitude at A Holy Experience.



And linking up at The Wellspring



Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Exchange


"Relax in My healing, holy Presence.
 Allow Me to transform you through this time alone with Me. 
As your thoughts center more and more on Me, 
trust displaces fear and worry. ... 
Time spent with Me, not only increases your trust; 
it also helps you discern what is important and what is not."
 (Jesus Calling)

Time, and how we spend our time -  these are decisions that we make every day of our lives. Sometimes the pressing necessities of life leave us with no choice, and the use of our time is dictated to us.

But in most of our days, there also remains a choice. No matter what the season of life we are in. 

Will I choose to spend my hours in worry, and fretting, in rushing through life? These thieves come stealing precious moments throughout the day. Even stealing whole days. Using up our time. There are more things to worry about with each passing year, and as mothers, we are experts at worry and fretting. 

But what if we could replace worry with peace? I am continuing to learn. As we center our thoughts more and more on the Giver of Peace, our worries and fears are replaced with trust.

There is a cost for this exchange. For One who gave His Life for us, it cost Him everything. But for us, the cost is minimal. The only requirement is that we give of our time. Choosing to spend time with Him, resting, and listening ... exchanging our worry for trust.



When my husband and I have extra loads of concern on our hearts, we often drive up to a peaceful hill overlooking our small town. A place that calms our hearts. And we spend time together, talking with and listening to our loving, faithful God - the Source of Love and Peace. And we drive back down the hill with our burdens of concern lifted. And with Peace in our hearts.

Beautiful flowers on a marker at the cemetery, photo taken yesterday as we walked and exchanged concern for peace.

"So be careful how you live. 
Don't live like fools, 
but like those who are wise." 
(Ephesians 5:15)


Linked to Brag on God Friday's











And linking up with others at Imperfect Prose



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Backyard Red Potato Salad

A new recipe that I tried back in June around the time of my husband's birthday, and also again earlier this week - Backyard Red Potato Salad. We loved it! It goes well as a side dish when grilling steak, or as we had this week, grilled pork chops. 


Backyard Red Potato Salad

2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10 minutes. Drain; cool slightly. Cut each in half.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onion, 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Arrange cut sides down on some type of grilling grid or pan; place on a grill rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, turning occasionally. Place onion and potatoes in bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, garlic, and remaining oil, salt and pepper. Add to potato mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with tarragon. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

Yield: 9 servings




A treat for my husband's birthday in June - grilled t-bones, lettuce salad, and this tasty potato side dish.

Linking to Tasty Tuesday













And also linking up to What's On Your Plate?




Monday, August 8, 2011

Remembering

Photo taken one year ago while in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mts.

Remembering ... memories of one year ago this month - a few memorable days of vacation together in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A time of rest and relaxation, and a time of listening and hearing from God through our times in the Word, and our times of slowing down so that we could hear Him clearly. 

And also remembering forty years ago this month - when we were brought together as husband and wife. The years go by so quickly, and here we are forty years later: blessed by six (grown) children, four sons-in-law, and nine sweet grandkids. Also privileged to have experienced thirty-nine years together in full-time ministry. And our biggest privilege of all, learning more of God's love and faithfulness (and His many other indescribable characteristics) through all that life has brought our way - through the good times, as well as through trials and difficulties.

Looking forward to continuing the journey of walking together with our loving Savior ...

"Hold My hand, and walk joyously with Me through this day. Together we will savor the pleasures and endure the difficulties it brings. ... I am your guide, as well as your constant Companion. You don't have to choose between staying close to Me and staying on course. Since I am the Way, staying close to Me is staying on course. ... Just concentrate on enjoying My Presence and staying in step with Me."  (Jesus Calling)

Thanking You, Lord, and remembering:

~ Your clear direction in bringing us together - our meeting in 1969, our engagement in 1970, and our marriage in 1971.

~ the love that You have kept strong in our hearts through 40 years now.

~ Your grace helping us in our weaknesses, always forgiving us and loving us.

~ all the joys and blessings through the six "gifts" You have given us in our children.

~ giving us the great privilege of serving and working together as a couple in ministry.

~ carrying us through difficult, heartbreaking times - in parenting, through illnesses, in ministry, and using these times to draw us closer to Your heart.

~ many friends You have brought into our lives through all these years.

~ for great joy through all the seasons of life - and now, in these "empty nest" years.

~ for the awesome privilege of belonging to You.

~ opportunity to celebrate our forty years with all our children and grandchildren home, as well as all my brothers and families here the beginning of July.

~ Your provision of a free two-night getaway at a hotel by Lake Okoboji over our anniversary weekend this month -  this next weekend!

~ and for excitement we have as we plan our big 40th Anniversary Trip next month - a gift from You.

~ for always reminding us, through Your Word, and through our leaders in ministry, to focus on You above all else. You are the Giver of all that we need.

"As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for You, O God."
(Psalm 42:1)

(One Thousand Gifts #588-600)

Linking up with others, sharing gratitude at A Holy Experience.




Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quiet Streams

Photo Source

"Bring Me the sacrifice of your time; a most precious commodity. In this action-addicted world, few of My children take time to sit quietly in My Presence. But for those who do, blessings flow like streams of living water. I, the One from whom all blessings flow, am also blessed by our time together." (Jesus Calling)

Our summer has been so very full - two trips to Colorado for conferences, with a week-long reunion here at our home sandwiched in between the two trips. All wonderful things. 

But life has a way of crowding out what is most important, and I have needed to make a special effort to carve out quiet moments, to spend time in the Word, and to listen. Every day, His Spirit within, walking with us through all our moments - and I also need concentrated time with Him to keep my perspective. Especially these past few weeks, as I have needed to prepare my heart for saying good-bye to our youngest son

Born for adventure, he will be traveling through Europe and Asia for the next nine months. One would think that this mother of six (and grama of nine) would get used to this "letting go". But I am finding that I am needing to hold on to God more tightly with each season of life. And as our son starts out on his adventure, I am sensing that I am also starting out on an adventure of learning to trust God in deeper ways than before.

And I almost missed sitting by these streams of living water this past Tuesday evening after we had our sweet, but tearful good-byes at the airport. I almost reached for my laptop when we returned home. But, instead, I reached for my journal and for the Word. I read the words in Ephesians 6 (where I am up to in my reading-through-the-Bible-plan), and I wrote in my journal the words that were refreshing me, the words that were giving me perspective and peace. Reminding me to take the position of prayer. And trust. And confidence in His "mighty power". Streams of living water for this mother who has a tendency to worry.

I am finding that the act of writing the words in my journal is an exercise of slowing me down to really listen. As I am writing, truths will reach out and grab my heart and my mind - deep meanings and perspective that I would have missed if I just quickly read over the verses. 




Loving Lord, how we need You. And how we long for intimacy with You, our Creator, through all the days of our lives. Thank You for making a way for deepest connection, through Jesus. And thank You for Your unfailing love for me, a mom who just said good-bye to a son.

"For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him 
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth." 
(Psalm 103:11 NLT)


Linking up with others at Faith Barista, sharing about quiet moments with God





And linking up at Imperfect Prose




Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frozen Fruit Cups


A perfect summer recipe - I made these frozen fruit cups in early July for a family reunion that we had at our home. I wanted to post the recipe at that time, but July was too full to have time for that. I made about 30 of these, and used them for two different meals the first week of July. One (photo above) was a picnic on July 4th with my brothers and their families visiting from the east coast and the west coast. Fun to add the little flags to add to the festive feeling of the meal!

A great, easy recipe to make ahead, and have in the freezer, ready to pull out when needed.

Frozen Fruit Cups

Ingredients:

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, undrained
1 can (8 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, undrained
2 medium firm bananas, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh or frozen sliced strawberries
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3/4 cup lemon-lime soda
1/2 cup water
6 Tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup sugar


Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Fill 8-oz. plastic cups three-fourths full; cover and freeze for about 4 hours or until frozen. May be frozen for up to 2 months.



To use frozen cups:

Remove from the freezer 30 minutes (or more) before serving.

Yield:  10 servings


(This recipe came from my Taste of Home Freezer Pleasers Cookbook, under the name "Tutti-Frutti Cups")

Linking up at Tasty Tuesday

And linking up to Ultimate Recipe Swap, sharing recipes with berries.



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A New Path

Photo Source

Our two weeks in Colorado at our staff conference have ended, and I have mixed feelings, finding it hard to leave our place of retreat, a mountain-top experience, with glimpses of heaven as we joined in praise with thousands of other staff. Touches of "God with us" as we were on our knees together before a holy God - His very Presence so near, so powerful, so real.

And now, we have returned to the places where we will live out the Truths that we have been freshly impacted with. My heart has already felt waves of weakness as I have stepped back into this world of the here and now, of valleys, and rolling hills. Wondering how I can prepare my heart for all that lies ahead.

How does a mother ready herself to say good-bye to a son (her youngest, yet grown, twenty-one years) as he leaves for 9-10 months, traveling alone to countries in Europe and Asia? Born for adventure, following his dreams. He has planned and prepared, even enduring an intensely demanding job at sea for three months to earn money needed for his dream. And soon he will be on the other side of the globe.

I, myself, lived most of my first 18 years on the other side of the globe, a "third culture kid", daughter of missionary parents in Japan. Living on the other side of the world from the U.S. is not something new to me.

But, how does a mother let go of part of her heart, letting it go so far away? The tears come, pulling at this heart, preparing for the scattering of parts, far from home. Mothers, always in need for our hearts to be gently held together as our children move on and take risks.

And as the time approaches, I am reminded to hold on to the only One who has the power to keep this heart together. As our son begins his adventures this week, God has reminded me that I will be starting out on my own adventure of trusting Him in new ways that I have never done before. Trusting Him as our son travels from place to place for the next 9 months. Not always knowing where he will be, but knowing who will be with him. And thankful for our kind, loving, faithful, sovereign, good God who promises to be with us as mothers - in the valleys, just as He is with us on the mountaintops.

Thank You, Lord, for these last few days of spending time with our son before he leaves, and for giving me a sense of anticipation in my heart of the adventure ahead of trusting You, and seeing You at work. Of learning to know You in deeper ways than ever before as I walk this road ahead. Creator of our hearts and designer of family and mothering, please hold me together.


"Open yourself fully to My transforming Presence.
Let My brilliant Love-Light search out and destroy hidden fears.
This process requires time alone with Me, 
as My Love soaks into your innermost being. 
Enjoy My perfect Love, which expels every trace of fear."
(Jesus Calling)


(Thank You, Lord, for sweet good-byes at 4 pm today, Tuesday, - and for a text from our son an hour ago, in Chicago now, soon on his way to London.)

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays





And with others at Finding Heaven, and at The Wellspring




Monday, August 1, 2011

Constant Love

Photo of Poudre River, taken while in Colorado these past two weeks

"Trust Me in the depths of your being. It is there that I live in constant communion with you. When you feel flustered and frazzled on the outside, do not get upset with yourself. You are only human, and the swirl of events going on all around you will sometimes feel overwhelming. ... Quiet your mind in My Presence." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Yes, this past week has felt like a swirl of events. And today, I am thankful for some time to pause and quiet my mind and my heart, and to remember ...

Thanking God for His many gifts this past week:


~ finishing the last two days of staff conference - so incredibly thankful to serve together with so many like-minded staff

~ for peace and direction for our leaders, guiding our ministry to a name change for our U.S. based ministries

~ a new logo, full of meaning - "a global community of caring Christians passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ"

~ each session and seminar of our two-week conference, lifting up the Name of Jesus

~ final speaker, David Platt, bringing us again face-to-face with our incomprehensibly great God

~ sweet good-byes

~ conversation with Shelley, riding part-way home with us - staff headed for Hungary after a visit with parents in our state

~ special overnight visit with blog friend and staff friend  - Abby and her husband and two children stopping at our home on their way from conference to family in PA; also leaving for Hungary later this fall

~ a surprise visit from a daughter and son-in-law, and grandson

~ eating out at Indian Oven, where our youngest son works, his last day of work before his travels begin - the best waiter ever

~ spending more time with him the next day - filling up my heart with memories before he leaves soon for 9-10 months far away

~ hearing Francis Chan again on Sunday, this time on video at our church (as our own pastor is on vacation), and remembering the two sessions we heard from God through him at our staff conference - always drawing us to God's heart, and to living authentically before Him for His purposes

~ our family gathering together last night, celebrating a son-in-law's birthday (in their brand new home!), and also a farewell for our youngest son

~ time to talk and plan for our 40th anniversary trip - and an incredible new idea to pray about

~ a quiet day at home today, catching up, and preparing my heart for the good-bye tomorrow, a son leaving for far away

~ and remembering my dear mother whose birthday is today, August 1st - celebrating her 92nd birthday in heaven, where age no longer matters, and time has no end

~ thankful that through all the events and happenings of this life, that His Love is constant, never changing, always with us

"Nothing can separate you from My Love.
Let this divine assurance trickle through your mind
and into your heart and soul."
(Jesus Calling)

(One Thousand Gifts #571-587)

Linking up with others sharing gratitude at A Holy Experience