Monday, September 30, 2013

Times of Rest


Last week was a week of rest, spent with the one I love the most here on this earth. My hubby and I traveled to the Denver area for some Cru planning meetings, and as we had more vacation time available for us, we stayed on in Colorado for an extra week, just the two of us. It was all that we wished for ... 

a night spent in Winter Park (reduced rates because of being off-season - so fun to stay in a ski town, and we even woke up to snow on the ground, so beautiful!)

a four-night stay in a cottage by Grand Lake
the feel of a treetop cottage, with windows on three sides and a deck
overlooking the other cottages, with a view of trees and the lake
gorgeous, sunny weather the three full days that we were there
relaxing and reading in the cottage
beautiful views as we walked along Grand Lake
driving to the nearby lakes of Shadow Mountain, and Granby
a beautiful 4-mile hike around Lake Monarch
the vibrant, changing colors of the aspen trees
hiking the trail to see Adams Falls
driving into Rocky Mountain National Park
hiking the Coyote trail



restful days
days to listen to God, and to each other
reading, journaling
being refreshed for the days ahead
a gift from God; just what we longed for


"The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; 
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength."
(Psalm 23:1-3a)

After an exceptionally busy past few months, we are thanking God for the restful days that He gave us in such a beautiful setting. The day we traveled to our cottage, and the day we left our cottage were cooler, rainy (with some snow!) days - but our three full days there were gorgeous, perfectly warm and sunny days. A beautiful time of year with the aspens taking on the brilliant colors of fall. We could not stop taking pictures at every turn. You'll be seeing many of these photos in the weeks to come here on my blog ...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Loving Our Husbands


(Continuing on with posts about Planning with Priorities in my mothering series Forever Close: The Heart of a Mother ... specifically applying these planning thoughts to mothers, but they easily can be adapted to any and all places of career or life.)

Our First Priority as mothers is to pursue First Love. And as we continue on with the other priorities, I hesitate to put them in a specified order, as it implies that they are separate from each other. For actually, they all blend together. And the First Priority is the overall priority as it is the glue that holds all of life together. It cannot be separated from any other area of life.

And in our lives as mothers, there are multiple, unending areas of focus that call for our time and our energy. Our job description is multi-faceted. We are on the job 24/7. Our days are b-u-s-y, and full as we care for the needs of our children. 

Maybe that is one reason that we need to purposefully remember to keep our priorities in mind when we think through and plan our weeks, and our days - and mostly, where we choose to focus on.

The priority that I have chosen to list next - after pursuing God - is to love and support our husbands, and seek to be the companion that they need and desire. We need to purposefully and intentionally love, honor, respect, and focus on our husbands.  

"A worthy wife is a crown for her husband ..." 
 (Proverbs 12:3a)

Caring for children, and also following God's direction in other responsibilities that we may have (whether they be at home or outside of the home) can take up all the hours of our day. And we need to be careful and save our hearts and our time and energy to pour into our husbands. After all, he is the reason that we choose to marry, and he is the one that we spend all of life with. 

My sweet hubby has been easy to love. In fact, it seems that he is the one who has set aside his wishes over and over, to care for mine. And to help with the children in the busy years of parenting six children. Yet, in those busy years (34 years of parenting with children in our home, as our six were spread out in age, 17 years between the oldest and the youngest), we had to purposefully take time for each other. 

Here are some of the things that we put in place (at various times in our marriage) to keep us close through those all-consuming years of parenting:

weekly or every-other-week dates (just the two of us, hiring a baby-sitter so we could spend time together, away from the children)

anniversary get-a-ways, just the two of us (occasionally accompanied by a nursing newborn)

much communication (so essential, and needed continuously)

attending some marriage conferences together (gaining valuable insight and new ideas)

writing letters and notes to each other (for a period of a number of years, we wrote weekly letters to each other, covering some suggested topics, and also creating our own topics)

seasons where we spent time in prayer and fasting together (covering some big needs in our family)

We cannot give too much effort to nurturing love and respect in our marriages. As I look back on my years of mothering, I wish that I had given even more energy and time to focusing on my hubby. But by the grace of God, and by the patience and love of my husband who did not demand more than I could give - our marriage is strong and is amazing even now in our "empty nest" years. We would rather spend time with each other than with any other ... we are blessed to live and love together through all of life.

And for those moms who may struggle with a less-than-understanding husband, my encouragement is to focus on First Love. To continually bring your concerns to God, asking Him to give you wisdom, love, and strength to be the wife that He desires you to be.

Loving Lord, please work in our hearts and lives as busy moms to honor, respect, and love our husbands. Help us to build into their lives all that is good, and worthy, and all that will bring You praise in this needy world. 

"Her husband can trust her, 
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life."
(Proverbs 31:11-12)

(Photo above was taken on one of our "empty nest" vacation trips together - last summer, on the coast of New England ... just the two of us.)

Links to all the posts in this Planning with Priorities series:
Planning with Priorities
First Priority
Loving Our Husbands 
The Gift of Family
Making a Home
Time for Me
Beyond Our Homes

Linking up with:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

First Priority



(Continuing on with posts about Planning with Priorities in my mothering series Forever Close: The Heart of a Mother ... specifically applying these planning thoughts to mothers, but they easily can be adapted to any and all places of career or life.)

Above all else. Of more importance than anything. Nurturing our First Love with our Maker, the One who loves us more deeply than anyone else. For from this First Love comes everything else.

This is of primary importance for everyone, but maybe especially for mothers? We are constantly in need of God's love, grace, and mercy as we continually give to our families, and we cannot give from an empty heart.
  

"Guard your heart above all else, 

for it determines the course of your life."

(Proverbs 4:23)

At the very top of our priorities each week, each day, is the call to nurture our First Love. We cannot do anything less. Everything stems from this. 

How does a person nurture a close, intimate relationship, a First Love relationship with God? It will look different for each of us, as we are all created uniquely by our Maker, crafted specifically for His purposes for us.  But surely for all of us, it calls for our time. For a relationship grows when we spend time together with the One we love - listening, learning what is on the other's heart, sharing of our thoughts. 

Just as we nurture our love relationship with our husband, or our good friends - communicating as we go through each day is essential; but also, there needs to be times of deeper, intimate communication. This involves the setting aside of our busy schedules, and pausing to listen. Stilling our minds and hearts, listening to hear His heart.

And time is of short supply with mothers, especially mothers of little ones. For we are always on the go, caring for the needs of others.

                            "There is no doing and going ...                               until there is stilling and knowing."

(Ann Voskamp)


Wherever we are in life, however busy our days, God will help us find a way to nurture First Love. For He is Life, Love, and all that we long for. All that we need.

Some ideas that have helped me through my years of mothering, used at various times over the past 40 years ... ways to prioritize my time for listening to His Words and for sharing my heart; nurturing my relationship with Him. Reading His Words, listening to His heart, and sharing mine.

rising early while the house is still quiet

staying up late, filling our thoughts with His before drifting off to sleep


using precious nap time for what is of most importance


journaling our thoughts and our prayers, and what we hear as we listen to Him

a weekly "night off" - (something my sweet, thoughtful hubby did for me for many years when the children were young) a time of retreat, to pull away to a quiet place -  to read, to listen and learn from God's Words, and to take time to pray and plan for our family and home 


reading of books that open our eyes and hearts to nurture this relationship


taking time for some women's Bible studies, cultivating First Love in the midst of community


a weekly "devo outing", going to a beautiful, restful spot, away from the busyness - several hours each week to refocus and be refreshed by God (what my hubby and I are blessed to do each week during these "empty nest" years)

It may seem impossible at different seasons in our lives to be able to take the time that we desire to have for intimate, uninterrupted communication and connection with God. And it is in those times, and in all of life, that our heart's desire is what God sees. He sees these desires for First Love that we have - and He will meet us where we are - even in the midst of our busy days as moms. He will be there. And He will make a way for First Love.

Loving Lord, please help us in our weakness and in our need, and give us hearts to desire You above all else. Create in us hearts that long for You each day. Each moment.


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


(For more encouragement and more thoughts on this First Priority, click on "First Love" under Post Topics on the sidebar of this blog - or on the page "First Love" under my blog header. And feel free to share your thoughts and ideas - or questions - for pursuing First Love in the comments, or on my facebook page.)


Links to all the posts in this Planning with Priorities series:
Planning with Priorities
First Priority
Loving Our Husbands 
The Gift of Family
Making a Home
Time for Me
Beyond Our Homes


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Crescent Wiener Bites


These fun little wiener bites have made their way to our table several times in the past month or two. In the past, I had used this recipe a few times for parties, or for an appetizer spread. 

This summer I discovered that they make a great main dish for a lunch or supper with grandkids! Little ones love finger food, and love the taste of these wiener bites. And another plus is that this dish is so easy to prepare. 


Print Recipe

Crescent Wiener Bites

Course: Lunch
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (8 oz.)
  • 1 pkg Cocktail-size smoked link sausages (14 oz. or 24 sausages)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll the can of the dough; separate into 8 triangles.
  2. Cut each triangle lengthwise into 3 narrow triangles.
  3. Place sausage on shortest side of each triangle.
  4. Roll up each, starting at shortest side of triangle and rolling to opposite point.
  5. Place point side down on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown, switching position of cookie sheets halfway through baking.
  7. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.
  8. Serve warm.

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I'm Lovin' It

Monday, September 9, 2013

September Beginnings


September started out in full motion with two little four-year-old grandsons staying with us for a few days and nights. It was a sweet, relaxing, and busy time in the yard and in the sand of a nearby state recreational area. 

And since then, life continues to be sweet, relaxing, and (overwhelmingly) busy. All in the same day. For I am a grama, and a mom, and a wife, and a friend. And I am in the midst of a season of balancing. 

Balancing all the different plates that make up our life right now. It's the plate of being grama to six sweet ones who live nearby (and four who live a distance away), the plate of being helpmeet and companion with my honey in our "empty nest" years; the plate of serving together in Cru and all the office work and organization that I assist with at the beginning of a new school year and all through the year; the plate of being mom to the six I love and who all have parts of my heart, forever; the plate of leading a City Group together with my husband (a new small group at our church); the plate of working on mission together with our City Group to start up Cru at Central High (exciting days); the plate of listening to God and writing on this blog (clearly a passion of mine, and a blessing from Him to be able to write here); the plate of helping care for my 92-year-old father who lives nearby in a retirement community (and who has had some health concerns lately); and more ...

Sometimes it may seem to my readers here that I am a professional at balancing all these different calls on my life. But, I am not. Every day, I am in need. And this past week I have been in deep need at times. 

And God so patiently and lovingly reminds me over and over again that it is not my responsibility to balance my plates. My responsibility is to turn over the controls, the balancing, to Him - to let Him do what I cannot do on my own. And just to come to Him with my weaknesses and my brokenness.

"Come to Me. Get away with Me
and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest .
Walk with Me and work with Me -
watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(Matthew 11:28-30 MSG) 
"More than needing schedules and productivity, this week will need a Savior and a prayer. God's not asking me to produce - He's asking me to pray. God's not asking me to climb ladders - He's asking me to kneel and let go." (Wise words from Ann Voskamp on her blog this morning.)
Linking up with:
Heart and Home

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Planning with Priorities

The life of a mother is a full life - never a dull moment, and the hours and days run together, and blend into a never-ending blur. Mothering takes all our energy, and our moments - each day. And sometimes we wonder how we can even survive, and what in the world we ever accomplish.

How can we cling to our sanity, and our direction, when we are busy from morning till night? We find ourselves in a place of constant need. Of strength, love, and peace. And this may be exactly where God wants us to be, for it is there in our place of need, that we learn that we are in need of Him

And in His grace and mercy, He also brings ideas to our minds to help in the busy years of mothering. The idea of planning with my priorities continually in front of me was one of those gifts from Him in my early years of mothering. And one that I have been using for 35 years now! (How can the time go by so quickly?!)


My very first Priority Planner - in September 1978!

I first was introduced to the idea of actually having my main priorities written out and in front of me as I made out my plans for the coming week, from reading Linda Dillow's Creative Counterpart. I used her Priority Planner for quite a few years.

In subsequent years, as our family grew to include six children, I continued to organize my daily/weekly focus with my priorities before me. And even today, in my "empty nest" years, as a mom of six (all grown, but still their mom), and grama of ten, I still do my weekly planning with my priorities before me.


Life does not always (actually, hardly ever!) fit neatly into priorities and categories, but using a planner with our main goals/priorities in front of us at all times, helps greatly in keeping us on the right track. And also gives us confidence that we are focusing on the things of most importance.


"A wise woman builds her home ... "

(Proverbs 14:1)

In the coming weeks/months (as time allows), I hope to share how holding these priorities before me has been a help and encouragement to me in mothering. I hope to write a post on each of the priorities that God has given me: (1) First Love - nurturing my relationship with God first of all. (2) My Husband - being the helpmeet and companion that he needs, and building into our marriage. (3) Family - giving of myself to build into each member, and into the whole as a unit. (4) Home - caring for the physical needs of our family, while creating an environment for love and growth. (5) Personal - taking time to nurture my personal needs so I am free to give to others. (6) Outside the Home - giving of my time for whatever He calls me to outside of the home; caring for what is on God's heart for the world.

Sharing not from a life that has accomplished these things perfectly; in fact, the opposite is true. I was in need as a young mom, and still am in need. I need His grace, mercy, and love each new day. And keeping my priorities before me continues to help keep me on track. Your specific priorities may look a bit different than mine, but all should come from seeking His direction and listening to Him, the One who gives us this great privilege of mothering.

"Teach us to number our days aright,

that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

(Psalm 90:12)


Continuing on in writing on mothering after a break of a few months ... Click here for earlier posts on mothering - Forever Close: The Heart of a Mother


Links to all the posts in this Planning with Priorities series:
Planning with Priorities
First Priority
Loving Our Husbands 
The Gift of Family
Making a Home
Time for Me
Beyond Our Homes

Linking up with:
Hearts for Home
Thrive at Home
Faith-Filled Friday
I'm Lovin' It
Fellowship Fridays
Saturday Show & Tell
Inspiration Exchange
Works for Me Wednesday

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Best News {First Love}


The best news - not just for one time, but for all our days. The news that we need to base our whole lives on, for it is the best of news. The news that we are in great need of - each day and each moment.


"The Good News is about His Son."
(Romans 1:3a)

The Good News is that because of Jesus, we can be forgiven, loved, made righteous, restored to intimacy with God. Not just what we need at the time we place our trust in Him, but what we need every day of our lives. Every moment. What we are made for. And what Jesus has provided a way for. A way to give us back the song that we were made for. The song that says we are loved and we can be forgiven and restored to relationship with our Maker.

"We forgot our song long ago,
when we turned and ran away from God.
But Jesus has come to bring us home to God -
and give us back our song."

Can there be any better news? "The Gospel is Good News, not good advice." (Citylight pastor, Gavin) The Good News of what Someone has done for us. 

I am continually in need of this Good News. There are times when we take our eyes off of this news, and become overburdened with the busyness and the cares of life. And it is in those moments that we need to reach out and hold close this best of news. And sing the song that we were created for.

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel,
for it is the power of God for salvation
to everyone who believes ... "


Monday, September 2, 2013

August Memories

August 2013 - where did it go?



It was filled with family, surgery for my hubby, therapy sessions after his rotator cuff surgery, celebrating our 42nd wedding anniversary, staff and volunteer meetings preparing for another school year of Cru ministry, the startup of a CityGroup within our church focused on the mission of helping with Cru Central, devo outings, and seeing God at work. There were more lessons that I learned in trusting God, and relying on His strength and grace. For the small things every day. And for the bigger things. 

And in the midst of all of life that happened in August, I was blessed to have time for posting here ...

Four devotional posts filled with thankfulness ...

Each Moment
At All Times
Our Hope
From the Heart

One post celebrating our 42 year anniversary ...

Celebrating Our Love

One post on the fun of organizing for the fall ...

Fall Planning

Three recipe posts ...

Garden Veggies
Favorite Grilled Pork Chops
Grilled Spiced Salmon

And now, I am welcoming the new month of September. The month that brings in the heartwarming, beautiful season of autumn.

(Credit for digital scrapbook page ... Page Template: Scrap Girls - JSM_dD_pageGrids; Paper & Elements: Digital Scrapper July 2013 Premier - Summer Passport by Syndee Nuckles.)