Friday, February 28, 2014

Scrapbooking Feb. 17-23

Still keeping up with scrapbooking memories from 2014!





An update on our son-in-law, Mark (see prayer request on second page, above) ... we thank God that his surgery went well this past Monday! The doctors are very hopeful that they were able to remove all of the lump on his kidney ... and though it is most likely cancerous, they are optimistic that removing it will be the end of it ... no chemo or radiation needed. We thank God for His care.

(Digital Scrapbook credits - Page Template for first page: Jessica Sprague LW-Life-Templates-Set 12; Paper & Elements for both pages: Studio Manu mzimm_snow flurries.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What I'm Learning About Myself


There once was a little girl, a sensitive little one, filled with dreams of loving and being loved. Though she was too young to know how to put these feelings into words. As a very little girl, still a toddler, she sailed off to a faraway land with her missionary parents. A land filled with gentle and thoughtful people.

There, as a small child of four, or maybe five, she responded to the Greatest Love, and by herself, on her own, asked for this Love to come live in her heart. And He did - and He carried her through all the drama of childhood, even with the additional challenges of living in a foreign land.

When this little girl became a young woman, she returned to the land of her birth, and learned to live, again, in a land that was foreign to her. It was new and strange to her, and He carried her through all the joys and drama of her college and young adult years, and of meeting the most patient, loving man she could have dreamed of. And through their years they were blessed beyond measure with one, then two, three, four, and even five and six precious children. Life was full, overflowing with love and joy.

Then unannounced and unexpected, some storm clouds began to form. The winds picked up strength, and nearly blew her apart. A broken relationship with a child - first one, and then another one. Then a life-threatening illness, then a devastating accident. Winds that were allowed by her Creator and Greatest Love, winds that caused her to depend on Him more than she had ever needed before. And it was painfully hard, and it was good.

It was so hard that it almost destroyed her tender, loving heart. And it was so good because those trials revealed her prideful, self-sufficient heart. For somewhere along the way, she had acquired a spirit of control, of thinking that she could manage quite well, thank you. And that maybe she even knew better than others how children should be raised, how a person should follow God.

Pride is the worst kind of thing. It creeps in so quietly and in such a subtle way; she was not even aware of it's arrival. But it was there. And by the grace and mercy of her loving Father and God, He gently, yet clearly, led her (together with her sweet husband) to a place of brokenness, a place where she was in need. And a place where she could be filled. With His Love. With His Grace. Emptied, to be filled with the best that one could even dream of.

And now her days are filled with freedom. There have been relationships restored a hundred-fold. And though there continue to be winds of trials and problems, and there are prayers and concerns that bring her to her knees every single day, she has learned and is learning - that all is well. She is continually in need, and she is continually filled to overflowing.

For I have learned, and I am learning that it is all about God, and not about me. That I am as much in need, and maybe more in need of a Savior than those who have lived wayward lives, far from God. For I need to be rescued from pride, self-righteousness, and self-centeredness; I need to be rescued from myself. And it is by His Grace, Mercy, and Love, that I am able to live and breathe, to love and be loved.


As each year goes by, these words I have shared here are etched deeper and deeper into my heart. I am more flawed in myself than I ever dared believe, and I am more loved than I ever hoped for. Thank You, Jesus ... my Savior.

Sharing with my readers, and with Bonnie, a blogger friend, who has asked us to write on the topic: "What I'm Learning About Myself". 

As the years go by,
what are you learning about yourself?


Linking up with:

Monday, February 24, 2014

I am Thankful

February - a month of many memories ...



These two photos were taken earlier this month ... and I am remembering even earlier happenings during previous months of February. And I am thankful.

On February 22, 2002, my dear husband was in a devastating accident that nearly took his life. It was a freak-type of accident, where he was backed over by a trash truck on the street right next to our home. It was horrendous, and it was so very, very scary. He was life-flighted to a hospital that handles patients in trauma, received 14 units of blood that day, and lived through a 5-hour surgery, where the doctor had to determine during surgery if he should even try to put his foot back together again. My hubby has a rod in his upper left leg, and is missing several toes on his right foot. But he is whole, and he is well, and you would never know today by his full and active life of loving his family and serving full-time with Cru High (ministry to high school students), that the doctors were not even sure if he would be able to walk again. It was the most scary ordeal, and it was a miracle. And I am thankful.

On February 27, 1996, our precious daughter, Sara, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Just three short months before she would graduate from high school. It was one of the most devastating times of our lives. She went through chemo, and after a year of being in remission, had a relapse and needed to have a bone marrow transplant. Twenty-three days in the hospital, and then one hundred days of recovery back home. It was long, and it was painfully difficult for her, as her bone marrow had to be wiped out by radiation, and then she slowly gained back her strength with the new bone marrow (donated by another precious daughter, Carrie). And today, she is healthy and strong, full of joy and love as she lives life with her husband, mothers their two little boys, and serves others as a social worker. It was a very difficult time, and it was a miracle. And I am thankful. 

And today, I am praying for our dear son-in-law, Mark - who is undergoing surgery this very day to remove a lump on his left kidney, which is highly suspected to be cancerous. And I am praying for his 15 year-old daughter (our sweet granddaughter) who was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney disease last March. The only treatment for this disease is to have a kidney transplant (which she will likely have this coming summer). Her father was being tested to be a kidney donor for her when his lump was discovered. These are difficult times, and we are thankful for God's love, care, and presence through all of life. Especially during difficult times. (Click here for our latest update on our son-in-law and our granddaughter - on our family/ministry blog - and please pray for them.)


"The Lord is my light and my salvation,
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?"
(Psalm 27:1)

Praying, and holding onto God's promises during surgery time - what would we do without God's comfort and loving presence with us through hard times - and sharing tears across the miles as our daughter waits during her husband's surgery ... 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finding My Voice


It all starts with a seed.
A very small, helpless seed.

Which came from a thought, 
or maybe from a far away dream.

From the heart of a Creator.

And over time, it grows.
And all is well.

Then unexpectedly and unannounced
the wind and rains come,
threatening to destroy,
yet allowed by the Maker;
life hangs on 
though like a thinly frayed thread.

And all the while,
the Creator breathes love ...
filling up the empty, broken places.
Gently holding.

And over time, 
as the fledgling plant 
looks up to the sun,
life flows stronger
and stronger
into it's veins.

The colors
and blossoms
 it was created for
slowly and quietly appear.

Yielding itself
to love
and to the Master's plan,
it flourishes.

It's branches begin to fill
with beautiful and rare fruit;
the only of it's kind.

Blossoms and fruit,
uniquely designed,
weathered by storms.
Reflecting the Glory of it's Creator.

Held together by grace
and unmerited mercy;
fixing it's heart and eyes above,
twisting and reaching, always,
for the Son -
a masterpiece is being formed.

Finding it's true voice.
In total surrender to it's Master.
Created in the image of God.

A fragrance, uniquely crafted
through sun and storm,
with a voice
to reflect
His Love and His Beauty
to all those around.

Our lives 
are a Christ-like fragrance
rising up to God.
(II Corinthians 2:15)


Bonnie, a blogger friend, asked us to write on the topic, "Finding Your Voice". Any way we felt led to write - how do we find our voice in writing, in living, in loving those around us? What motivates us to live, to write, to speak - what determines the focus and the flavor of our lives? 

This little writing is my attempt to explain where my voice and my words, come from. What has shaped my words, what has shaped my life. What has made me who I am. And I'm thinking it may be the same for you ...

What has shaped you? 
What has given you the voice you live with, 
speak with, write with?


Linking up with:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Giving of Thanks with Photos

So far, I am on track with keeping up with digital scrapbooking the year 2014! Using a quick and easy way of scrapbooking - many pages following the Project Life style, interspersed with other pages using other template styles.





Scrapbooking each week (or even each day) as it happens is my way of recording memories, and also maybe my way of recording my gratitude. For each day is a gift from God. And I am thankful ... for God's amazing Love and the Gift of His Son, for His reminders this past week to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind", for the love my sweet hubby and I share, for our celebration on Valentine's Day (also our half-year anniversary, this year 42 1/2!), for family gathering for a soup night, for our daughter and time to celebrate her at birthday time, for grandkids to give valentines to, for a grandson who is loving to play basketball, for a new bread machine cookbook and the special gift of a new bread machine when my old one gave out this past week ... all this and more - everything, a gift from God. 

Click here to view other digital scrapbooking pages from 2014.

(Credit for digital supplies: Top page - Page Template: Pocket Life bh-template D; Paper: DigitalScrapper Jan 2014 Premier-Sweet Comforts by Shabby Miss Jenn; For God So Loved by Sweet Blessings blog. Bottom page - Page Template: Pocket Life bh-template A; Paper: DigitalScrapper Jan 2014 Premier-Sweet Comforts by Shabby Miss Jenn. Title Font: Lemon Chicken, Text Font: Lao Sangam.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! 

May you be filled to overflowing with the Best of Love. 
And may your heart and your home 
overflow with this Love to those around you.

Credit: Sweet Blessings

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stilling Ourselves to Be Loved



What is it that calls my heart each day, from the moment I awake, to the moment I lay my head down to sleep? Are my first thoughts throughout the day, those uppermost in my mind, focused on things to do, or on being loved, and on loving? In this life of hurry, filled with tasks and to-do lists, do I leave time to live, to just be? 


Time for just be-ing, and for loving, and for being loved.


Do we think that all of our do-ing and our accomplishments will bring us what we long for? Maybe we need to purposefully quiet ourselves, cease our frenzied efforts, pull ourselves away from the magnets that draw us to focus on productivity. As the saying goes, maybe we just need to be "human beings instead of human doings".

"What words does God want you to treasure in the deepest part of you? 'Be good'? 'Do it better'? 'Try harder'? Are those the words God wrote in the Bible for us, to rescue and free us? No. Those words only show us what we can't do. The words God wants us to remember are just three small ones: 'I love you'."  (Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing) 

Everyday choices, in the midst of our full lives ... allow us to live and breathe these three small words. Pausing, listening, receiving, living our days filled with His Love. Feeding our souls with His Words of Love. And opening up our deepest thoughts and desires to Him, trusting, and following.

I've been thinking on these thoughts these days ... reminding myself in the midst of this hurried world, of what really matters. And purposefully slowing and fixing my heart on what is most important. 


"Love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul
and with all your mind."
(Matthew 22:37)


"How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God." from Psalm 139:17


Click here for more posts on this topic ...
First Love: What We are Made For

Linking up with:
Faith Barista Jam
Thrive at Home Thursday
Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake Pie



This is a festive-looking dessert that I made for our Family Christmas in December. Easy-to-make, and delicious! I thought I'd share it now, as it would also make a fun dessert for Valentine's Day. Cheesecake with raspberries - a perfect combination!

Print Recipe

Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake Pie

Source: Taste of Home
Course: Desserts
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg cream cheese (8 oz), softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 graham cracker crust (9 in.)
  • 1 can raspberry pie filling (21 oz.), divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until blended. Pour into crust.
  3. Drop 1/2 cup pie filling by tablespoons over batter. Cut through batter with a knife to swirl. Transfer remaining raspberry filling to a covered container, refrigerate until serving.
  4. Bake 35-45 minutes or until filling is set.
  5. Cool pie 1 hour on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, covering after completed cooled.
  6. Serve with reserved filling.

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Note: I usually prefer to make my own graham cracker crusts, and as the pie pans that I use hold more than the purchased graham cracker crusts, I tripled the cream cheese, sugar, and egg ingredients in this recipe to make enough filling for two Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake Pies.

Linking up with:
The Inspiration Exchange
Thrive at Home Thursday

Monday, February 10, 2014

Trip to Florida

It was quiet here on my blog last week, and here is why ...









Incredibly thankful for the week in warm, sunny Florida! Not only thankful for the warmer temps, but also for the time for our hearts to be refreshed, and our minds to be re-energized. An annual conference for the Cru High MTL's (city directors) to gather together for training and inspiration.

Photo credit: a few photos on my pages were taken by Jim Trewin, Cru staff.

(Credits for digital scrapbooking supplies: First page - Page Template: mcato-simplebeauty1; Calendar from Clean and Scentsible blog; Paper: Digital Scrapper Kitty Designs-YouAlone, Digital Scrapper Premier 103-everlastinglove. Second page - Page Template: mcato-simplebeauty1; Paper: Digital Scrapper Kitty Designs-YouAlone, Digital Scrapper Premier 103-everlastinglove. Third page - Page Template: mcato-simplebeauty1; Paper: Digital Scrapper - 90-winter-EliseHansen; "You Are My Sunshine" - Sweet Shoppe "You Are My Happy" Robin Carlton; Sunshine - MTF Heart Sketches Font; Title Font: Lemon Chicken. Fourth page - Page Template: mcato-simplebeauty2; Paper: Digital Scrapper Kitty Designs-YouAlone, Digital Scrapper Premier 102-sweet comforts.) 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Third Full Week of January

Digital scrapbooking - capturing the memories of the third full week of January! From pedicures, to taking grandsons to preschool, to dinner out at Cheddar's, to hosting a Soup Night at our home for our CityGroup. Thanking God for all the blessings of another week, sharing and preserving the memories.




(Credits for Digital Supplies - Top Page: Page Template, Papers, and Embellishments: Digital Scrapper Jan 2014 Premier Sweet Comforts by Shabby Miss Jenn;  Two Brad Embellishments: Scrap Girls KME_Terra. Title font: DJB Jenna 24; Text font: Lao Sangam MN 12. Bottom Page - Page Template and Paper: Digital Scrapper Jan 2014 Premier Sweet Comforts by Shabby Miss Jenn;  Brad Embellishments: Scrap Girls KME_Terra. Title font: DJB Jenna 26; Text font: Lao Sangam MN 12.)