Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ask


When in need of wisdom, ask. It's as simple as that. But how often we miss the obvious.

"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God,
 and He will give it to you. 
He will not rebuke you for asking."
 (James 1:5)

Keep asking, over and over again. Why? He already knows what we need. But He tells us to ask; He wants us to ask.

"The King of the universe wants a real, live relationship with us. ... 
He wants us - frail mortal creatures - to connect with Him 
and communicate with Him as the dearest relationship in human existence. 
He rejoices to hear our voices. 
He delights to be our sole and holy source for all things in life."
 (Beth Moore, James: Mercy Triumphs)

The one condition to our asking -

"But when you ask Him, 
be sure that your faith is in God alone."
 (James 1:6a)


(Sharing some more nuggets that have grabbed my attention and my heart while going through Beth Moore's James: Mercy Triumphs study with a group of friends from church.)


Linking up with Sunday


Monday, February 27, 2012

Occupied with Thanks


"When you are occupied with praising and thanking Me, 
it is impossible to feel sorry for yourself."
(Jesus Calling)

"Be thankful in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
(I Thess. 5:18)

A week of remembering, celebrating, and praising God ~

Thanking God for so many things ~

My husband's miraculous recovery ten years ago from a terrible accident - click here to read more.
The joy of remembering, and praising God, together with family and friends this week.
A family meal together yesterday, honoring my husband and celebrating 10 years!
Reading of records and memories from hospital days.
Viewing of banner that family made for him while in the hospital.
Sharing memories together around the table from those traumatic days of accident and recovery.

Another week of preparation for our youngest daughter, preparing for her second child.
A bread-making day together, stocking her freezer.
The aroma of freshly baked bread filling our home.
Time spent together with daughter and three year-old grandson.
Anticipation of new grandbaby coming, soon.

Learning more in PSE - making photo collages, blog headers.
Items donated for our Student Venture Silent Auction.
Completion of Photo History, and mailing of invitations for Silent Auction.
Time spent with friends studying James.
Emails, phone calls, and texts from family - brightening up each day.
"Empty nest" days with my husband.

"Your awareness of your constant need for Me is your greatest strength."
  (Jesus Calling)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 - #142-158)


Weakness Equals Strength

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How often I bemoan my weaknesses and inadequacies, wishing they would just go away. And how often I resist problems and trials, and just want them to disappear. But these are the very things that make me run to Jesus. Over and over again.

"You need Me every moment.
Your awareness of your constant need for Me is your greatest strength ...
Your inadequacy presents you with a continual choice -
deep dependence on Me, or despair."
(Jesus Calling)

Instead of despairing of our weaknesses, and of our trials, we need to embrace them. Without problems and trials, without our frailties and inadequacies, we would be self-sufficient, and have no need of a Savior. But by being faced with problems beyond our control, with trials, with weaknesses, we are made aware of our need. And so, my need is what becomes my greatest strength. Drawing me to Jesus.

What was meant to harm me,
turns into a blessing.

"The source of anguish can morph into joy."
(Beth Moore, James-Mercy Triumphs)

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy."
(James 1:2)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Four Loaves, Hamburger Buns, and Dinner Rolls


A special treat last Tuesday - sweet daughter Carrie came over with 3 year-old Cruz for a Bread-Making Day! Thanks to my Bosch machine (which I inherited from my mother), and a great recipe from Shelley's Breads, our home was filled with the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. I love Shelley's Honey Whole Wheat Bread recipe, which makes dough for six loaves at a time (or some portions can be used for rolls).

In just three hours we had made four loaves of bread, eight hamburger buns, and a pan of dinner rolls. All for our daughter to take home, as she is stocking up her freezer, preparing for the birth of her baby (and our tenth grandchild!).


Later in the afternoon, while Carrie went in for a doctor's appointment, and while Cruz was napping, I made up another big batch of dough with the help of the Bosch machine - this time for my own freezer. I have neglected to make bread for awhile, so it is wonderful to have four fresh loaves (some for the freezer), hamburger buns (my husband's favorite for sandwiches as well as for hamburgers), and some dinner rolls that we'll use tomorrow when the family comes home for a meal.


Thankful for the blessings of freshly made bread, and thankful for the time spent with Carrie and Cruz!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Perfect

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Perfection - something that we often unknowingly find ourselves striving for. And other times, we purposefully strive for perfection. When we have labored over a project, and finally put the careful, finishing touches on it, we sit back and soak in the beauty of our creation. It no doubt was a struggle to accomplish our goal, but the joy of the finished work of art makes it all worth it.

James tells us of the way to the place of perfect in our own lives. The way to reach our goals, objectives, and purpose - that place where we feel complete, needing nothing.

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way,
 consider it an opportunity for great joy. 
For you know that when your faith is tested, 
your endurance has a chance to grow. 
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, 
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
 (James 1:2-4)

And the way to this place of perfect is through troubles, trials, and problems. For through persevering through difficult times, our faith has a chance to grow, and the fruit which results is beautiful and perfect. A beautiful work of art, reflecting God - which is our ultimate purpose and joy.

Linking up at Jumping Tandem, Word-Filled Wednesday












Thursday, February 23, 2012

Freezer Meal Day


So blessed to have three of our four daughters living close by, and last Saturday we had another Freezer Meal Day together! What a fun and productive time we had! And also made possible by my dear husband, "Grampa", who helped with the grandkids while we worked in the kitchen for about 6-7 hours.


We had picked out seven recipes, most of them from the Taste of Home Freezer Pleaser Cookbook, and one from The Occasional Cook. And we multiplied each recipe to make enough for each of our homes, plus we also made enough for our two sons, both in their twenties, single, and living on their own. These are the recipes we used:

Spaghetti Ham Bake
Meaty Pasta Casserole
Sweet Barbecued Pork Chops
Meat Loaf Miniatures
Oriental Chicken
Freezer Mashed Potatoes
Time-to-Spare Spuds


I printed off some charts ahead of time from Jessica's Life as Mom blog. The charts were a great help in organizing the steps of preparation. Click here to access them on her blog.






This photo was taken at the end of our hours of food prep in the kitchen! Of course, there were plenty of breaks to help care for little ones, and to get them down for their naps, etc. Never a dull moment with two two-year-olds, a three year-old, and a four-year-old in the house while we prepared about 45 packaged meals for the freezer!


Such a beautiful sight - homemade meals for the freezer! Especially helpful for Carrie, as she is expecting her second child next month!

I consider it such a privilege and joy to be able to do this together with three of my daughters. (I loved spending this time together with you, Amy, Sara, and Carrie. And we missed you, Cristy, and wish you could have been here, too.)

Linking up with Delightfully Inspiring Thursday, Comfy in the Kitchen, I'm Lovin' It






















Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Remembering - 10 Years Ago

My husband, heavily sedated after a terrible accident ...

Two days later, five of our six children and I were with him as he began to wake up ...

Our family will never forget the morning of 2-22-02. And ten years later, we are remembering ...

The horrible accident my husband was in - backed over by a trash truck on the street by our home, being life-lighted to the hospital, receiving 14 units of blood the day of the accident, being stabilized enough so that he could endure a 5 1/2 hour surgery, hearing from the doctor that Gary would be doing well if he could stand on his own in a year.

The injuries were serious - the impact of the truck hitting his left leg severely broke his left femur bone and also caused nerve and artery damage in the knee, in addition to an open wound the length of his leg. His right foot was the only part of his body that was actually driven over by the truck, and the doctor had to make the difficult decision during surgery if he should even attempt to put the foot back together again. Later, he suggested possible amputation, but then things turned around as healing began to come.

With our newborn grandson, two months old at the time of the accident ...

Memorable time together with our youngest son, eleven years old at the time ...

Ten years later - we are reminded, and we thank God for His mercy and grace in sparing my husband's life, and for bringing amazing healing. He went from hospital bed, to wheelchair and rehab, and then was able to come home (after about 4 weeks) for more outpatient physical therapy. Then he progressed from wheelchair, to crutches, and then to using a cane in about 6-7 months. In September of 2002 (6 1/2 months after the accident) he was well enough that we took a two-week vacation trip to California with our two sons!

The lasting physical affects are minimal - a rod in his left leg, several toes missing on his right foot, and the need of special shoe cushions for the injured right foot. And maybe a slight limp at times. And the overall affects in our hearts are a deep awareness of God's love and mercy, and of His presence during one of the most difficult times of our lives. We were surrounded by His love through our family and many, many friends who covered us with prayer and support.

Two weeks after the accident, I wrote these words on the website a family member had set up for us to keep in contact with those who were praying ~

"How can I say thanks to God for preserving the life of my precious husband, and for how He has wrapped us in His arms of love during these difficult last two weeks? We have such a great God, who gives us grace and strength for whatever comes our way. Even before anyone even knew to pray, God was working ... giving Gary presence of mind to ask the rescue squad to please go to the door of our house and let me know what happened before they life-flighted him away ... for giving me strength to go down to the street and hold my husband's face in my hands and speak words of comfort to him. The words that God comforted me with from the very beginning were ... Psalm 139:16 'All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.' God knew about this day ... before Gary or I were even born ... and therefore, we could trust Him with it. And He can use all things to work for good for His purposes.

There is no end to the things that we are thankful for ... that Gary was not hurt in a worse way, which is really a miracle ... that the rescue squad is only about 3 blocks from our house and could be there so quickly, as Gary was losing so much blood ... that he had the best orthopedic surgeon in the area to care for him.

And, we want to thank all of you, our precious friends, for being there for us in so many ways. You have been the arms of God around us. Gary and I are at peace and are encouraged. We are accepting this trial; we have not been fighting it. That perspective comes only from God ... thank you for praying for us."

And ten years later, our praise and our thanks continue - for God's love and healing, and for all the love and care we felt from so many.


Linking up at Reflections of His Grace, Brag on God Friday, On Your Heart Tuesdays






















Monday, February 20, 2012

Fully Present


"Be fully present in the present season of life."
(Priscilla Shirer)

Thanking God for many gifts in this season of life, and in this past week:

Times as a couple ~
Sweet cards for each other, on our 40 1/2 wedding anniversary, on Valentine's Day!
A special Valentine Date on Tuesday evening - a gift card from Christmas, eating out at Stoke's.
Another Date on Friday evening - another gift card, this time at Petrow's.
Watching the final episode of Downton Abbey Season 2 together on Sunday evening.

Times with family ~
Seeing grandkids five days in a row.
Taking care of Cruz Tuesday afternoon while his mom had a doctor's appt -  baby due very soon!
Levi & Ali here Wednesday evening while their mom went to Parent-Teacher Conference.
Jake & Cole here for two mornings in a row, Thursday and Friday.
Texts from another daughter, in TX, with a son sick with a bad flu.
Texts and phone calls from our sons.
And an all-day Freezer Meal Day together with three sweet daughters on Saturday!

Times with friends ~
Monday morning prayer time with other staff at Smith's.
Women's Lunch at Mimi's together after our prayer time.
Staff Meeting here at our house on Wednesday.
Connection Group on Sunday afternoon.

Times with God ~
Remembering things heard at our SV Leadership Conf in Florida recently.
Thinking more about what "surrender" means.
Welcoming trials and weaknesses, for through these things God shows Himself to us, and to others around us.
"He will take delight in you with gladness ... with His Love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." (Zephaniah 3:17b)

"Give yourself fully to the adventure of today."
(Jesus Calling)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 - #123-141)




Saturday, February 18, 2012

Delight

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"Delight yourself in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart."
(Psalm 37:4)

One of my favorite verses - and one that grows more real to me with each passing year. It is in the delighting, and in the loving, in growing in intimacy with God, that we find all that we were created for. And from this has come even the title of this blog - pursuing God above all (and also all that He has for us as wives, moms, and gramas).

And along the way of this pursuing comes the reality of the irresistible magnet that pulls us to pursue.  That we have a God who delights in us. Who delights in me. This is beyond what we can even imagine. And I am captured by this love.

"For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty Savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
(Zephaniah 3:17)

(Writing for five minutes, along with others,  on the word "delight".)


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To My Valentine


To My Valentine ~

Forty-two years ago in Valentine month, we had our first date ... and a year and a half later we were married on August 14. And since then, every Valentines Day has marked our half-year anniversary - this year marking 40 1/2 years.

My most precious gift from God ~ your love. A picture of His love. Never-changing, always true. Encouraging me to be me, giving me room to follow my passions and dreams. Giving me the priceless privilege of being mother to six, and grama to nine (very soon, ten.)

Sharing the deepest things of the heart, bound together by God's love, with common vision and purpose. Walking together, growing together, forgiving each other repeatedly, still going on weekly dates together, preferring time with each other over any other.

Still in love with you, more in love with you, and so happy living in this "empty nest" with you.

Happy Valentine's Day!
I love you,
your bride

(Card in photo above - made from a Valentine I found in an envelope of valentines with my mother's childhood things, from the late 1920's or early 1930's. Memories of my mother, and also of her 62 years with Dad. How he misses her ... )


Monday, February 13, 2012

Five Days & Five Hours


Sometimes God multiplies our joys and blessings, giving us more than we even expect.

So thankful for the multiplied blessings of this past week ~

For five days in Florida, at the Student Venture Leadership Conference held in Daytona Beach. These five days were filled with valuable treasures -
~ time spent with other staff leaders from across the nation.
~ how the best flight plan took us there a day early, which was the day with the best weather of our whole time there.
~ two mile walk with my husband along the beautiful sandy beach in perfect weather.
~ an ocean front room, with an awesome view of the ocean, waves coming in constantly.
~ great speakers, meaningful worship, powerful Word.
~ listening, and receiving insight and direction from God - exactly what we prayed for, and beyond what we even hoped for.
~ warm connections with friends over lunches, dinners, and around meeting room tables.
~ time to share, and to pray together, and be prayed for.
~ a break from the busyness of life at home - being refreshed and energized.

And thankful for five hours in Atlanta, where we transferred flights on our way home on Friday. These five hours also held unexpected treasure for us -
~ our original two-hour wait changed to five.
~ responding to Delta Airlines request for two people to volunteer to wait three extra hours for a later flight, as our original flight was overbooked.
~ my husband and I each receiving a $400 voucher for future flights.
~ and each of us receiving $12 vouchers for our meal as we waited.
~ time to enjoy Atlanta Bread soup and sandwich combo as we waited.
~ and Ben & Jerry's delicious caramel waffle bowl sundae.
~ being placed in first-class seats on the flight home after five hours in Atlanta.

Thanking God for the treasures that were found in the five days, and in the five hours.

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives."
(Psalm 37:23)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 - #105-122)




















Thursday, February 9, 2012

Surrender


Five days on the beautiful coast in Florida - and five days of listening, and connecting with God, and with other Student Venture staff leaders. 

A few of the take-home points, from my journal ~

The theme "Unless" - dependence on God alone.

"Unless the Lord builds a house, 
the work of the builders is wasted." 
(Psalm 127:1a)

Unless the Lord builds up this movement, opens up new campuses, etc., the work of our staff is wasted.
The key - dependence on God alone, for everything.

"There was always enough flour and oil left in the container, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah." (I Kings 17:16)

God always gives us what we need for each day, one day at a time.

God calls us to surrender to His Love, to let go,
 to do the back float, to rest in Him.

Live a life that makes known to others the faithfulness of God, a life that shows Him to be who He really is.
Surrender - in contrast to being in control.

Always - the thing I love most about being part of Cru/Student Venture is the focus first of all, on Jesus. Loving Him above all. Growing in intimacy with Him. Feeding on His Word. Letting Him live His life through us.


(Words on Daytona Beach photo above - meaningful words from our worship time during the conference.)

Linking up at Brag on God Friday


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kindness and Grace



So much to think about from this verse - and the depth and breadth of God's kindness and grace goes on forever. It goes on as far as we can see, and beyond - there is no end.

One definition of grace is: "God's forgiving mercy"(Easton's Bible Dictionary)  In another place, grace is described as "His undeserved kindness". (Romans 11:5)

Kindness - mercy - grace. Things that God so freely gives. And our part is to receive. I find that sometimes the person I am the most unkind to, the most unforgiving of, the most difficult to receive this grace for, is - myself.  Especially when I have caused harm to someone by a careless word, or by a lack of understanding. Hardest when it has been to my own family, the ones I love the most. For even though as moms we love our children so deeply, we miss opportunities to show affirmation and care, and our words and actions amidst the busy days of mothering sometimes cause hurt and pain to those we love the most. And it is also hard when we miss opportunities to show love to others around us - to our friends, and even to strangers . I sometimes find it difficult to forgive myself, to offer grace to myself. To accept His grace and forgiveness for missed opportunities, for mistakes.

But that is exactly what God sent His Son to die for - to offer us grace. Forgiving mercy - undeserved kindness. Kindness and grace with no end, going on forever. And we need to accept this, and give ourselves grace. All our mistakes are covered ...

"All our mistakes make room for grace." 
(Beth Moore - James - Mercy Triumphs)

Thanking God for some deeper insight into His "kindness and grace" these past weeks. 
Sensing His forgiving mercy and undeserved kindness in some deep ways in my heart. 
And filled to overflowing with thanks.

(Photo above - a breath-taking view of the Mediterranean on our recent trip to Italy for our 40th Anniversary.)


Linking up with Word-filled Wednesday, Brag on God Friday










Monday, February 6, 2012

From Snow to Beach

From this ...



To this ...




So full of thanks this morning ~

The beautiful 10-inch snowfall on Saturday.
A safe, uneventful trip from Omaha to Orlando the next day.
Phone call to my brother (in Akron) while transferring flights in Cincinnati.
Going from 25 degrees to 80 degrees in 6 hours.

The glistening white snow covering the brown, dead of winter.
Branches covered in white.
Listening to the sound of waves breaking on the beach.
Seagulls gliding over the expanse of the ocean.

Busy, full days before our trip.
Newsletter ready, taxes prepared, photos collected for SV history video.
Five days with my husband on the coast, for SV Directors Conf this week.
Refreshing worship, walks on the sandy white beach, meaningful connections.

"Come to Me and rest.
I am all about you, to bless and restore.
Breathe Me in with each breath."
(Jesus Calling)

"Come to Me. 
Get away with Me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest."
(Matthew 11:28)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 - #93-104)

Linking up at A Holy Experience