Friday, May 31, 2013

Trip to Texas (Part 2)

Continuing with photos from our memorable Trip to Texas over Memorial Day weekend ... such a special gift from God to spend time with our daughter and family. Especially in light of our sweet granddaughter's recent diagnosis of kidney disease. 



Click here to see Trip to Texas (Part 1)

(Credits for digital scrapbooking pages: Page Template: JSM_dD-pageGrids; Paper & Embellishments: SSD New Beginnings.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Trip to Texas (Part 1)


It's been a little quiet here on my blog for the past week or so - while we took a fun, quick trip to Dallas and back! So incredibly blessed by this trip to see our daughter, her husband, and four children in TX!

Eleven people in two vehicles - my hubby and me, three daughters, and six grandkids. A 13-hour journey to visit another daughter, her husband, and four more grandkids!


The trip went amazingly well and the six kids (one year-old little girl, three four-year old boys, five year-old girl, and a ten year-old boy) did great. They deserve medals for traveling the long journey so well - and we adults maybe deserve medals, as well! And we thank God for safety in travel, especially during busy Memorial Day weekend travel.



"I am with You, watching over you constantly.
I am Emmanuel (God with you);
My Presence enfolds you in radiant Love."
(Jesus Calling)


Photos of our Trip to Texas - to be continued ...

(Credits for Digital Scrapbook page: Page Template: JSM_dD-pageGrids_SSA_12x12_9; Paper: SSD New Beginnings Kit; Fonts: Title - DJB Jenna 36; Text - Myriad Pro 14.59.)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Open Arms/Open Heart {Held Secure}


Why do we try our best to avoid trials? Why did I, as a young wife and mother, just assume (wrongly so) that life would be easy, and rosy, and that all would go well? And why, even now - after we have walked through a share of trials and also have tasted deeply of God's sweet Presence in hard times - why does my heart still strongly resist welcoming new trials?

"We all suffer. Pain is unavoidable,
it's not a question of if but when."
(Glorious Ruin, author Tullian Tchividjian)

Why has it taken several weeks/months for me to even begin to accept that there is now a CaringBridge site set up with the name of our sweet 15 year-old granddaughter on it?

It is so painfully difficult to embrace trials. 

Yet we read in James 1:2 ...

"Dear brothers and sisters,
when troubles come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy."

And I am learning - again - by God's grace and mercy - to open my arms, and open my heart to this new trial. And I know that I will not be left alone, and my granddaughter, and her family, will not be left alone in our tears. We will receive more than we can contain. Our tears will be real, and our joy will be real.

"Christ on the cross 
meets us in our suffering and conflicts, 
not in the promise to take them away
He is simply with us in all our times."
(Robert Capon, quoted in Glorious Run)

"But we don't need answers as much as we need God's presence in and through the suffering itself. For the life of the believer, one thing is beautifully and abundantly true: God's chief concern in your suffering is to be with you and be Himself for you." (Glorious Ruin)

And our living in His Presence - "with" us and "for" us - is what we are made for. It just so happens that trials open the door wide - to receive more of what we are made for, and what we long for. Thank You, Lord, for walking with us so closely through the trials on this earth, and for filling us with comfort, peace, and joy - even in the midst of hard times.

Click to read more posts in this series - Held Secure: His Love in Times of Trial

Linking up with:
Thought Provoking Thursday
Hearts and Home
Faith Filled Friday

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pray Instead of Worry


A new week, and such good reminders; fresh, new for each morning. 

"Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank Him for all He has done."
(Philippians 4:6)

Thanking God for His strength and His gifts this past week ...

Direction for our daughter & family with decisions about growth hormone shots (for our sweet granddaughter with a newly diagnosed kidney disease)

Warmer weather - even to upper 90's one day (a blessing after a colder than usual spring)

Phone updates from my brother and his wife (my sister-in-law suffering from serious leukemia)

A beautiful day for play (with four year-old grandson and one year-old granddaughter here)

A Cru Omaha event (starting up Cru at Central High)

Direction for a son with a job application (and the news of his acceptance)

And opening up a position for another son (as he waits on other possibilities)

Wonderful vacation days for a daughter and her family (fun to see photos on facebook)

A day trip full of memories (taking my father to the town where he and mom had lived for 17 years)

Purchase of two knock-out rose bushes (so happy to plant our first rose bushes in our yard)

And a trip to Mulhalls (more plant starts, and seed packets, and a sun catcher with butterflies on it - to brighten the day for my sister-in-law who loves butterflies)

More graduation parties (four more this past weekend)

Worship and such great teaching at Citylight (so thankful for our church home)

A bit of time to digital scrapbook again over the weekend (it has been awhile)

Reminders to pray instead of worry (and the reminder to pray the moment I start worrying)

His peace (the greatest gift as we pray instead of worry - what we long for)

"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."
(Philippians 4:7)


Linking up with:

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Mother's Prayers {Forever Close}


A mother's love is unending, following our children throughout our whole lives. And beyond. For we continue to carry a mother's love with us, even beyond their years with us on this earth.

Such is the case with my own dear mother. She left this earth for her forever home in 2007, at the age of 87. Her love continues. And also, her many prayers for her children, continue. Even after her second stroke, unable to do the things she loved to do, such as cooking and baking, and serving others in many ways - she could still pray. I remember her words spoken in hushed tones while lying on her hospital bed as she slowly and softly spoke about the things that she could no longer do - but, then as she had more to say, I leaned in close and heard these words ... "But I can still pray". And she did. She continued to pray as long as she was able. 

Of all the gifts that we give our children, is prayer one of the most priceless? And the most timeless? Are our prayers limited to the here and now of our existence? Or do they transcend time as we know it?

"When we pray,
our prayers exit our four dimensions of space-time."
(Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle)

God is not limited by time and space, as we are. So our prayers, heard by our God who lives outside of time and space as we know it, are heard forever. The many references in His Word to pray about everything, to pray without ceasing, to pray continually - certainly, are not a coincidence, but are important reminders for us. And maybe especially important reminders for us as mothers. For our prayers are making deposits in heaven, building up treasures that will last forever. Expressions of love and care for our children that will continue to live and bear fruit even beyond our own time.  

Of all the gifts that we give our children, maybe this gift that goes beyond time, is one of highest worth. Calling our hearts, our time, and our focus - to pray for our children.

Click here to read more posts in this mothering series: Forever Close: The Heart of a Mother

(Thanks to Renee for freely sharing the photo and quote above.)

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Freshness of First Love


The soft winds draw us and the fragrance of new blossoms gently beckon us to come. To leave the hurried pace of life - to just come, and to just be. Who we were made to be. To live without stress in these complicated days. To be drawn to rest. To be loved.

"For God so loved the world ... "
(from John 3:16)

Were we created for this? For this Love? This Love that Mary had discovered?

"There is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it,
and it will not be taken away from her."
(Luke 10:42)

How do we find ourselves off course so easily and so often? Pulled away from First Love. Focusing instead on the "doing". For when we focus on the "being" and on the "loving", the "doing" will be the fruit. Fruit that naturally ripens to bless those around us. Spreading the fragrance of First Love; drawing others to this Love.

"The chief end of man
is to glorify God
by enjoying Him forever."
(John Piper, Desiring God)


(I'm in the midst of several series of posts already, but am being drawn to begin another. Longing to live and grow in First Love. Each week I'll be listening and following - posting in whichever series God prompts me to write on. From whatever He is teaching me ... )

Linking up with:
Thought Provoking Thursday
Faith Filled Friday
The Weekend Brew

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Beauty from Imperfection {Forever Close}


Somehow or somewhere most of us as mothers start out on this wonderful but daunting role with the mindset that we must try to be perfect mothers. I know I did. And sadly, it has crept into my thinking more often than I care to admit.

But to think that we could even come near to being perfect is not only unrealistic, but it reveals that we are not only imperfect, but that our attitude is symptomatic of a deeper issue of pride. For only God is perfect. And we are not.

How can we possibly expect perfection from ourselves in this 24-7 job of mothering, when we are pulled and pushed to our limits, constantly serving, constantly loving. Stretched beyond our limits, day after day, and night after night. I am a mom of six (all grown now), and I look back and try to imagine how I made it through those busy, full, demanding (but wonderful!) days of mothering little ones and bigger ones. Especially as I watch my four daughters now - busy, giving to their children and their husbands each day, every day. Their lives are full, and their hearts hardly have a chance to catch up. Such amazing mothers they are - but how do they do it? And how do any of us mothers do it? Certainly, not without a lot of mistakes ...

And maybe our lack of perfection, and our many mistakes, are for a deeper purpose.

"Perhaps there was something more powerful to experience than a perfect Mother; the wonder of a committed Mother who simply humbles herself." (Ann Voskamp)

"It's not that you aren't going to blow it.
It's what you do with it afterwards."
(Ann Voskamp)

When we have been short with a child, when we have missed hearing their heart because we were so focused on correcting their outward behavior, when we disciplined incorrectly, or neglected to discipline, when we spoke harshly and wounded instead of encouraging a child - instead of despairing, we can open our hands to our loving Father, and trust Him. Humbling ourselves, and trusting in our perfect loving Father to use all for His purposes. Which are all good. 

"Don't be so hard on yourself. I can make good even out of your mistakes ... 
Because you are human, you will continue to make mistakes. 
Thinking that you should live an error-free life is symptomatic of pride. 
Your failures can be a source of blessing, 
humbling you and giving you empathy for other people in their weaknesses. 
Best of all, failure highlights your dependence on Me. 
I am able to bring beauty out of the morass of your mistakes. 
Trust Me and watch to see what I will do." 
(Jesus Calling)

"This is the one I esteem:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit,
and trembles at My word." 
(Isaiah 66:2b)

Loving Lord, please help us as young mothers and older mothers to daily, moment by moment, depend on You in this most privileged of all roles, yet most demanding of all roles - help us to hold our children tight, but with open hands, depending on You alone to do Your perfect work in them. Using even our mistakes, daily and moment by moment. May our mistakes draw us to You, and draw our children to see You ...

Continuing on with posting in my series on mothering, after a break of a few months ... Forever Close: The Heart of a Mother. And wishing all mothers reading this a very memorable Happy Mother's Day, filled with love, grace, and the beauty that comes from imperfection.

Linking up with:
Thought Provoking Thursday
Fellowship Friday
Faith Filled Friday
Teach Me Tuesdays
Heart and Home
Titus 2sday

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Caramel Banana Ice Cream Pie


I love anything caramel, and I love vanilla ice cream. So this recipe is definitely a keeper for me! And perfect for spring, and Mother's Day, too. Another point for this recipe is that it is so easy to prepare - a plus for these beautiful spring days.

Plan to Eat is the online menu planner and place where I import and store my recipes. It also provides a feature where I can share my recipes here on my blog, together with the PRINT option. Hope you enjoy this new feature.


Print Recipe

Caramel Banana Ice Cream Pie


Course: Desserts
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 1 graham cracker crust 9 inches
  • 1 cup cold 2% milk
  • 2 packages instant banana cream pudding mix (3.4 ounces each)
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream softened
  • 1-3/4 cups whipped topping
  • 1 English toffee candy bar (or I used Symphony Bar - Creamy Milk Chocolate with Almonds and Toffee Bits) chopped

Directions

  1. Spread 1/4 cup caramel topping into crust. In a large bowl, beat milk and pudding mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Add ice cream; mix well.
  2. Spoon into prepared crust. Top with whipped topping. Drizzle with remaining caramel topping; sprinkle with chopped candy bar.
  3. Cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.
  4. Yield: 8 servings.
  5. (Posted on pursuingheart.blogspot.com, with a few slight changes from the original Taste of Home recipe)

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Snow in May


A very unusual first week of May - sleet and snow on May 1st, and cold weather for a number of days. May 2-4 was filled with grandkids - driving through the snow to a preschool "Spring Sing" program ... and then taking care of two grandkids while their parents went on a little getaway trip, and taking them to school on May 2nd when the start of school was delayed two hours because of snow. In May. Unbelievable. The only consolation is that warmer weather is sure to come soon.

Thanking God for: a grandson singing his heart out at his preschool program, time with him and his baby sister a few hours that afternoon while their mom took some Lightroom training, two overnights caring for another grandson and granddaughter, the sweet joy of children, sunshine for our days, a granddaughter recovering in a few hours from sickness, the promise of warmer weather to come, such good words to think on from church on Sunday (two amazing truths to hold onto every day - Jesus died for me; Jesus lives in me), His grace and His love, freedom, lunch with two good friends after church, a relaxing afternoon, a little visit from two more grandsons and their mom, and another episode of "Call the Midwife".

(Credits for digital scrapbook page - Page Template: Scrap Girls - ABR_SSLOAlb_Ser5; Paper & Embellishment: Sweet Shoppe - you are my happy by kristin cronin-barrow.)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Weekly Findings #3


This past week was a week full of helping and loving others - my 92 year-old father when he needed help with some shoe purchases, and also four of our sweet grandkids (our one year-old and our four year-old one day when their mom needed to take some Lightroom training; and our five year-old and our ten year-old for several days while their parents went on a little getaway). Lots of joy in serving, and less time for posting - which is all part of keeping my priorities in line. And today, sharing a few of the posts that caught my attention in between the comings and goings of this past week.


How to Beat Envy (It's Not as Hard as You think)

Oh, I am thankful to have stumbled upon this blog post this week. Envy is something that sticks up it's ugly head more times than I care to admit. I appreciated reading these thoughts by Kris. Maybe they'll be encouraging to you, too, as I know that most of us have to fight off the envy that creeps in from time to time.


How to Manage Your eBook Library

There are more and more eBooks available all the time - for very reasonable prices, and also, many of them for free. I appreciated reading this post by Nikki giving some helpful advice on how to manage and organize the eBooks on a laptop and also on other devices.


Vintage Inspired Painted Mason Jars

This looks like a fun idea to try some day. I have lots of canning jars in storage, left from the days when we had a huge veggie garden, and I put up food for most of the year. I should use a few and create some of these painted vases.