Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the midst of this week - a week where the holiday season begins, where Thanksgiving turns into Christmas. Where we give thanks, and where we enter into the wonderful season of Advent ...



As we are caught up in the preparations and the excitement of the season - pausing, and remembering ...


Because of God's Greatest Gift to us, His gift of Jesus ...

Every day ... a new day of opportunity dawns 

Every day ... we can live and breathe in His Love

Every day ... our worries can be turned into prayers

Every day ... His strength covers for our weaknesses

Every day ... we can have what we long for - Love, Hope, Joy, & Peace

Every day ... can hold more than we can contain - a sense of holiday, of celebration as we thank Him continually, as we are loved more deeply than we can even imagine, and as this love flows through us (His image bearers) to others.


May this most wonderful time of year
be filled with thanks,
and overflowing with 
Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace -
a sense of holiday every day.

"I pray that God,
the source of hope,
will fill you completely with joy and peace
because you trust in Him. 
Then you will overflow with confident hope
through the power of the Holy Spirit."
(Romans 15:13)





Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pumpkin Pecan Loaves



The taste of pumpkin and pecans, with a vanilla glaze make this quick bread so delicious. I have made it often for the holiday season. This year I made a double recipe (4 loaves in all) to use for a gathering in our home early in the fall, and also to have in the freezer to pull out and use during the holidays.

Print Recipe

Pumpkin Pecan Loaves

Source: Taste of Home
Course: Breads
Serves: 16

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpoe flour (or 2 cups white flour + 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour)
  • 3 cups sugar (or 1 1/2 cups sugar + 1 1/2 cups fructose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 can pumpkin 15 ounces
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped
  • CARAMEL GLAZE
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Combine the pumpkin, oil, eggs and water; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined; fold in the pecans.
  2. Spoon into two greased 9x5x3 inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
  3. For glaze, combine the butter, sugars and cream in a saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Cool for 20 minutes. Stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cooled loaves.
  4. Yield: 2 loaves

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Capturing Memories

It's always a special treat when I have time for digital scrapbooking - and earlier this month when we were at our Mahoney Getaway, I had time to do a bunch of pages. Here are a few of the many pages I did during our vacation week ...

This one capturing some memories from August - photos shared with us from TX, as we were not able to be there to celebrate our granddaughter's birthday ...


And this next page, memories from September - as we celebrated two family birthdays together, a dear daughter's and mine, sharing a birthday month ...


And a page from October - time for grandkids, and also a fun Cru meeting, both on Halloween Day ...


Recently I've had a few friends ask me for some info on digital scrapbooking, so I thought I'd share a bit of my experience. I made the big switch several years ago from paper scrapbooking to digital scrapbooking. It was a difficult decision for me, but I have been so thankful that I made the change! There are quite a few advantages for me to create my pages digitally: it is quicker and easier than paper scrapbooking, it requires less supplies to pull out and use, there are so many digital papers, templates, and embellishments to use (downloadable right when you wish, and they are re-usable), and I can easily create pages while sitting on a couch, while on a trip, or wherever I have my laptop. 

There are so many great ways to create pages online (using any of the numerous photo book sites such as Shutterfly, Mixbook, etc.) but I chose to make my own pages on my laptop with software that I purchased. 

It turned out to be quite a process for me to make the switch, as I needed to allow time to learn this new method. I create my pages in PhotoShop Elements (I started out with PSE 9 and now have PSE 11), and I took probably about half a year to learn how to scrapbook with PhotoShop Elements. (In the midst of a busy life!) I used some excellent online training - click here for some great lessons that are available through Digital Scrapper. 

I also needed to purchase an external hard drive (for space to store all the digital supplies), and needed to add some extra RAM for my laptop, so it could process things a bit faster. 

Another plus for scrapbooking digitally is that it is easy to share the pages online, in addition to printing them out for albums at home. I create the pages in 12x12 size, but choose to print them out in 8x8 size for my albums.

Let me know if you have any more questions - obviously, I love this form of scrapbooking, and am continually learning more. Such a great way to preserve memories - a story of God's love and presence in our lives. 

(Digital scrapbooking credits: 1st page: Page Template: Sweet Shoppe Designs mcato-simplebeauty1; Embellishments: Flower-DS Premier April 2013-SweetShoppe hop along kit; Fonts: Title-Noteworthy; Text-Lao Sangam MN. 2nd page:  Page Template: ABR_SSOLAlb; Paper & Embellishments: Digital Scrapper PSE 11 manual kit Digilicious-Flutter. 3rd page: Page Template: ABR SSDLOT; 'Background Paper: nrj-fallcolorwash: Paper & embellishment: DS Premier 88-autumndays; Font: Champagne & Limousines.)

Linking up with:
I'm Lovin' It

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Beyond Our Homes


Here we are on the last of the six priorities that we as wives and moms can keep in front of us as we plan and pray through our weeks ... and this last one that we are covering opens up a wide door to endless opportunity.

As we give our days and hours, our best efforts to our families - we also have the opportunity to open up ourselves to the world beyond our home. For all of Scripture is for us; even, and especially this ...

"Go there and make disciples of all the nations."
(From Matthew 28:19)

This is not just for a select group of people. For even as moms, we can be a part of what God is doing in our world, as He longs to mend and heal broken hearts. We can pray the prayer (that my husband prays everyday) - "Lord, break my heart over the things that breaks Yours." And He will - He will open our eyes and show us what is on His heart.

We can go beyond our home even while we are busy at home - our prayers can be part of what God is doing on the other side of the ocean. Our giving, our creativity, our hearts can be part of things much bigger than ourselves. How this looks will be different at the various stages of our lives as mothers, but we are wise to always have our heart in tune with God's bigger picture.

Whether it's in serving a neighbor, taking a meal to someone struggling with an illness, leading a Bible Study group, going on a missions trip, supporting missionaries financially, helping with the elderly, the young, the sick - the opportunities are endless. We can be a part of what God is doing, and we can have the incredible joy of being involved with Him beyond our homes.

Also, for some moms, working at a job outside the home may fit into this final priority. Linda Dillow, author of the first Priority Planner and whose thoughts have influenced my own priorities, writes this about the working-outside-the-home mom: "You will not be able to spend the same quantity of time with your husband, children, or on your home, but the quality of time can be just the same ... Your attitude is the key." As we serve others outside the home, even with a working job, in the ways God has led us to do, then He will make a way for us to also keep our other priorities in place.

Wherever we are in life, whatever season we find ourselves in as a mom - it's all about depending on God as we love and serve our families. Needing His strength and love. Every day. And keeping these six main priorities in front of us - reminding ourselves of them, praying over them, and following God's direction regarding them - can be a source of help and encouragement for us.

Thanks for traveling with me through these posts on Planning with Priorities. May our hours and our days always be placed at His feet, listening for His direction as we love and serve as mothers in this life with so many things calling for our attention.


Links to all the posts in this Planning with Priorities series:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Turned into Blessing {Heart Connect}


There is one thing that comes very naturally for me, something that I do not need to extend any effort at all on my part to accomplish. That one thing is called w-o-r-r-y. No matter what the season, no matter what the day, this pesky little habit surfaces - again, and again.

And it is something that God and I continually dialogue about, as I am quite in need of His help to conquer this habit. It also appears that I am not the only one on this earth who deals with this - maybe it is safe to say that most of us are prone to worry?

I love how God continually reminds me - drawing my attention to His answer.


"Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything."
(Philippians 4:6a)

"Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, manage it, or smother it with pleasure, we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we'll discover that we've slipped into continuous praying." (Paul Miller, A Praying Life)
When we find ourselves worrying about a concern, it can become a signal for us to turn our thoughts to God, voicing our concerns to Him, asking for His help. Over and over again; as many times a day as we are faced with a worry or concern. Our worries can become tools that draw us to depend on God. They can be turned into a blessing ...

"Anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; 
continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos." 
(Paul Miller, A Praying Life)

Thank You, Lord, for Your continual reminders to turn my worries into prayers. And maybe without my human weakness of worry, I would not have a need to turn to You throughout my days - for You turn my weakness into a blessing.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Freezer Meal Day

It was time for another Freezer Meal Day - and I was blessed to spend about 8 hours in my kitchen this past Saturday with three daughters who live nearby (we missed one who lives in TX)! It is always a special treat for me to have my daughters with me in the kitchen ... and it was an extra treat for each of us to be able to take multiple meals home at the end of the day for our freezers.


We get together about twice a year for a big Freezer Meal Day (we really should do this more often). Each of the daughters provides the ingredients for one main dish recipe, I provide for two ... and we chop veggies, cook meat, and prepare main dishes together all day long. And most of all, we enjoy being together, and catching up with each other's lives.


Our assembly line of preparing about 70 Breakfast Burritos!

The recipes we chose for this cooking marathon were:

Breakfast Burritos
Meat Loaf Miniatures
Freezer Mashed Potatoes
Beef & Bean Burritos
Hot Roast Beef (and Ham) Sandwiches
Chicken-Bacon Subs

We did a lot of wrapping of burritos, and assembling of sandwiches, each one wrapped individually for easy serving. Approximately 70 Breakfast Burritos, 30 Beef & Bean Burritos, 60 Hot Roast Beef (and Ham) Sandwiches, and 6 loaves of Chicken-Bacon Subs. We also chose to repeat a favorite freezer meal, Meat Loaf Miniatures, with Freezer Mashed Potatoes as a side dish. 

What each of us were able to put into our freezers from our day together!

I snapped this photo right before I put the meals for my hubby and me in our freezer at the end of the day! This spread of freezer food is what we made for each of five households - for each of our three daughters' homes, for a son in his 20's who also lives nearby (and who also joins us sometimes for our cooking day!), and for my hubby and me.

And a special thanks to my kind hubby who helped out with the five grandkids while we cooked all day long ... a six-year-old girl, three four-year-old boys, and a one-year-old little girl. There was non-stop activity all day long - in the kitchen, in the yard (on a beautiful fall day), and all through the house. 

Thanking God for memories to hold close, and for multiple meals for the busy holiday season.  

Linking up with:
The Inspiration Exchange
I'm Lovin' It

Monday, November 18, 2013

Life and Peace {First Love}


"But letting the Spirit control your mind
leads to life and peace."
(From Romans 8:6)

Life and Peace. Two of the most sought-out treasures - how we long to experience life to the fullest, and how we long for peace. In our own hearts, and in our world. 

And because of God's great gift to us, we learn that there is a path that leads to life and peace. For us, for me - on a day-by-day basis ... 

On a day-by-day basis ... turning our hearts towards Him, exchanging our worries for prayers, lifting our eyes from our own concerns and leaving them with Him, surrendering to Him. Asking for His help all through the day ... for big and little decisions; inviting Him into every aspect of our day and life.


"Worship Me by living close to Me ...
This is My design for you;
that you stay near Me
as you walk along your life path ...
By staying close to Me,
you present yourself as a living sacrifice."
(Jesus Calling)

May our walking with Him 
be as vital to our day as our breathing.

Sharing thoughts and words from my journal as I read and write my way through Romans, and as I am continually taught to lean into Him day-by-day, moment-by-moment. For everything.

Linking up with:
Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday

Friday, November 15, 2013

Our Quiet Retreat

We had another week of vacation time to use this year, and instead of traveling a distance, we decided to stay fairly close to home. And instead of sight-seeing, we chose to have a quiet little retreat - four days set aside for extended time with God, and with each other in a quiet, relaxing setting. And we loved it - it was just what we needed and hoped for






Capturing the memories with digital scrapbooking, and sharing them here, as well as printing them out for one of our 8x8 albums. And thanking God for this time, even above what we prayed for ... 

(Digital supply credits: 1st page: Paper: Digital Scrapper Premier 97-harmony. 2nd page: Page Template: MyTemplate3x3-4rs1; Paper: DigitalScrapper June 2013 Premier-We Are Family. 3rd page: Page Template: ABR_SSLOAlb-Ser8; Paper: Digital Scrapper 94-motherverb; Embellishment: Digital Scrapper 91-twohearts. 4th page: Page Template: ABR_SSLOAlb5; Paper: DigitalScrapper Premier 94-motherverb; Embellishment: JRE_ReflectionsOftheHeart.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Time for Me


So far, in this Planning with Priorities series, we've talked about First Love, Loving our Husbands, The Gift of Family, and Making a Home. There's no question that these are priorities for us as wives and moms. In fact, the First Love priority is a focus that wraps arms around all the other focuses of life. And the loving our husbands, caring for our children, and creating a home for our family all blend together each day. But we must guard our time for each, as the busyness of life and the call and pull of so many things can take over our days, forcing us to neglect these most important priorities.

But, this next priority ... Time for Me? Is there really a place for this priority? Taking time for ourselves may sound selfish, or self-centered. Sometimes we find ourselves slipping into believing that we must be busy every single moment, and that there is no time for our personal interests. I know that I have often fallen into this trap. And then we find ourselves feeling depleted as moms, unable to give to even those we love the most.

"Love your neighbor as yourself."
(Matt. 19:19b NLT)

These words have always intrigued me - for the loving our neighbor is connected with loving ourselves. How can we love and care for others if we do not love and care for ourselves?

We must care for ourselves, develop our interests, and feed our souls - not for selfish motives, but so we can have rest, and so that we are equipped to love others. Loving ourselves is okay. And good. After all, we are His workmanship, His masterpiece. We are loved by God, and we are neglecting His unique work if we do not love what He has created.

Taking time to pursue some of our interests and hobbies gives us an outlet, and encourages us to be creative amidst all the busyness of life. We are made in the image of our Creator. And as we use our gifts and creativity, we are living out who we were created to be.

So as we express ourselves for who we are, as we take time to pursue the interests we were born with and we have acquired (cooking creatively, exercising, creating with a sewing machine or a laptop, scrapbooking, writing, taking part in classes, reading, training as a runner, learning new skills, developing ourselves artistically or musically, spending time with friends, taking time for alone time, and on and on) - as we do these things, we become more fully alive. And we are better equipped to love and serve others.

"Happy isn't selfish. 
Happy people are actually more likely to help people." 
(Holly Gerth)

It will be difficult to find time for personal pursuits at various seasons of our lives. We will need to lay our desires at His feet, and ask Him for help. Maybe help will come through a friend who we can trade off caring for each other's children so that we can have time for ourselves and our personal pursuits. Or maybe help will come through our husband, as he covers for us an evening a week (as mine did for many years), so that we can have time for "just me". And maybe we will find as He holds us together during the busiest of years while mothering young children, when our days are filled so full 24/7 ... that He will meet us right where we are, giving us little breaks through a good book, or a phone call from a friend - refreshing us and filling us up.

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:
Faith Barista Jam
Hearts for Home
Thrive at Home

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beef and Bean Burritos {Freezer Fare}




Looking for a quick, simple lunch, or a light supper meal? Make these Beef and Bean Burritos for the freezer, and pull one out to heat up in the microwave (or oven, or skillet), and you'll have a tasty, nutritious meal in a short amount of time.

I've made these burritos for many years (it is a recipe that my hubby loves - he is so pleased whenever I make these burritos), but never thought of freezing them until just recently. I discovered some other burrito recipes online, and also in a cookbook of mine that recommend preparing and freezing burritos. I should have known - you can easily purchase frozen burritos, so why not make your own, using your favorite recipe?



Print Recipe

Beef & Bean Burritos

Source: Family Favorites
Course: Main Course
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen tortillas
  • 1 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 can tomato paste small
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 onion, small or 1 teaspoon dry onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese grated

Directions

  1. Brown beef, drain. Add other ingredients.
  2. Heat tortillas in microwave.
  3. Fill tortillas and add grated cheese.
  4. Fold over ends. Serve hot.

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I doubled my burrito recipe last month on one of my "In the Kitchen" afternoons, and put a bunch of them in the freezer (individually wrapped), along with a doubled recipe of some favorite bar cookies. 

I usually heat the frozen burritos up in the microwave, but am curious if there are other methods that are even better. Also, sometimes I add a slice of cheese during the last portion of time in the microwave; sometimes I don't. What is your favorite way to heat up frozen burritos?  

Linking up with:
The Inspiration Exchange

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Call of Home {First Love}




When we become too busy, too focused on tasks and to-do lists. When we find ourselves running here and there, intent on the doing and the going. We discover that we are lost, and we find ourselves looking for Home.

Our souls call out for a place of rest, of love, of peace. And as we follow the cries of our deepest longings, they always lead us back. To our true Home. With Him. For we are created in His image, and we are at rest when we are in close communion with Him.


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

To delight in (to take great pleasure in, to worship) God brings us home. Brings us back to First Love. Where we belong, and where He longs for us to be.

These thoughts and words - taken from my journal a week ago today, as my sweet hubby and I entered into our week-long getaway at Mahoney State Park. Where our quiet, peaceful tree-topper cabin waited for us, and where we experienced the joy and refreshment of Home. 

 Linking up with:
Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday
Thought Provoking Thursday

Friday, November 8, 2013

Digital Scrapbooking - Colorado Vacation (Part 3)

Photos and words - preserving the memories of our week of vacation at Grand Lake, Colorado, this past September. 




Thanking God for the gift of our Colorado vacation - a break from busy days, time to relax with my sweet hubby, beautiful fall weather, breath-taking views. 

(Digital Scrapbook credits. Top page: Page Template: Jessica Sprague - LW-Life Templates Set 12; Paper and Embellishments: Digital Scrapper Nov. 2012 Premier 88-autumndays.  Middle page: Page Template: Jessica Sprague - LW Life Templates Set 12; Embellishment: Digital Scrapper Nov. 2012 Premier 88-autumndays. Bottom page: Page Template: My Templates 3x3-4; Paper: Digital Scrapper Nov. 2012 88-autumndays.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Freedom


Freedom to really live, instead of being enslaved. 

"So now there is no condemnation for those
who belong to Christ Jesus.
And because you belong to Him,
the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you
from the power that leads to death."
(Romans 8:1 NLT)

As I am reading and writing my way through the book of Romans (writing out each and every verse in my journal as I am slowly reading), I am captivated by these words. 

These are such beautiful words. And necessary words to hold close. For there are times when our hearts and minds are tempted to focus on our inadequacies, on our mistakes, on our sin. This happens in my life at times. And then I begin to question, and wonder if God is disappointed in me, or not pleased with me. But the opposite is true - because of Him, we are made free. Free from the penalty and guilt of our sin, free to live in His Love and Presence.

"Enjoy the warmth of My Presence shining upon you ... I delight in you more than you can imagine. I approve of you continuously, for I see you cloaked in My Light, arrayed in My Righteousness. There is no condemnation for those who are clothed in Me." (Jesus Calling)

"... God declared an end to sin's control over us
by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
He did this so the just requirement of the law
would be fully satisfied for us ..."
(Romans 8:2b-3a NLT)


Thanking Him for this great gift, for His sacrifice, for setting us free. And praying for you, my readers - for a month full of Freedom, Love, and Thankfulness.