Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September in Review

Taking time to remember what took place on my blog this past month; also, a reflection of what has been on my heart this month. I love September! It's the month that opens the door to fall, one of my favorite seasons ... and also, the month of my birthday. 

Click on the caption below each photo to read the posts that I wrote this month. I am grateful for the time that I had to write; several posts each week, except for the third week of the month when we were out-of-town for a vacation trip to Chicago.


Welcome September

It seemed that my thoughts kept going to prayer this past month, a desire to learn and grow deeper in prayer. It is easy for me to pray for the immediate, everyday concerns, but it is harder for me to persevere in fervent prayer for others, to be faithful in intercessory prayer. And I was reminded over and over again during this past month how important and critical it is to pray, to faithfully and fervently pray for others. There is always so much to learn about prayer. There were two posts that I wrote on prayer ...

The Door to Prayer

A Listening Heart

Towards the end of the month, my thoughts were drawn to focus on God's love in deeper ways than before. His love is beyond understanding fully, yet there is always more to learn. It was sweet to be able to write a post on my actual birthday, focusing on this Love ...

Count the Ways

It's always fun where there's time to put up a food-related post ... there were three this past month: two recipe posts, and one "In the Kitchen" post.

Amish Breakfast Casserole

Club Sandwiches

In the Kitchen

I've been keeping up fairly well with digital scrapbooking this calendar year - a fun hobby for me. In September I shared two posts with some of my pages ...

Thankful for Grandkids

Trip to Chicago

Thanks for visiting, and reading some (or all) of my posts this month! There are so many, many blogs to visit - and I am honored that you would come and visit here. It is a special calling for me from God to write and share here in these "empty nest" (but full life!) years, and it gives me a lot of joy ...

Trip to Chicago

The door opened up for us to take a five-day trip to Chicago last week! Our very first time to vacation in the big city, and we were not disappointed. It was quite amazing; we loved it! A very special gift from God ...

Sharing two of the many scrapbook pages that I am in the process of creating, capturing the memories of five days in Chicago ...





We are amazed and thankful for the way this trip opened up for us - just what we needed. And I am having fun capturing the memories in digital scrapbooking form ... so much beauty, and such sweet memories.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In the Kitchen


Another month will soon be past, and here's a fun little post with a peak into my kitchen to see a few things that have been going on during the month.


You can't miss something new and shiny in my kitchen this month! I haven't had a good-size stock pot for awhile, as my previous one wore out from so much use. It was time for a new one, and isn't this a beauty? 


I think I'll keep it set out on the stove for awhile just to look at! But it will also be put to good use this fall and winter when I cook up some pots of soup, and also prepare some dishes for the holidays with family home. (It was a gift from my sweet hubby - he bought it for me after I spotted it in the big window of a fun store - Crate & Barrel - as we were walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago last week.)


We enjoyed a special, comforting meal yesterday, one that I have not made for quite awhile. It seemed the right choice yesterday for a quiet evening meal at home on my birthday! (We had a special bday meal out the day before, and had a relaxing day at home on my actual birthday. Both days were pretty special!)


It was fun to serve the meatloaf and baked potato meal on two plates that I had picked up at the same store in Chicago ... two plates for the two of us, and also to use as special serving platters for the upcoming holidays.


We enjoyed having some of our family home earlier in the month. It was a gorgeous day outdoors, and I chose to serve Cheesy Chicken Subs for the main dish. I hadn't prepared that dish for awhile, and it was perfect to serve (with corn-on-the-cob, chips, and watermelon) out on the patio.

What has been happening in your kitchen this past month?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Count the Ways


Today is a day of counting for me ... a day where I add another number to my years. Birthdays are for counting. The numbers are increasing; there is no way to stop them, or even to slow them down.

And on this day of counting, 
I'm thinking of another type of counting ... 

What if we were to count the ways that we are loved? Would there ever be an end? My few short years on this earth, years that fly by faster and faster with each passing year, are only the beginnings of being loved.

How can we even begin to understand how much God loves us? Just when I think that maybe I am beginning to haves a grasp of His Love, I find myself in a place where I am learning all over again. Learning in deeper ways than ever before, how very much I am loved.  

We are loved. Period. We are His creation; His image-bearers. And all through our lives, we are pursued by this God who is Love.

"God pursues human beings ...
We see God walking in the garden with Adam and Eve.
We hear God speaking to Moses on a mountaintop.
We find His mysterious presence in the tabernacle and the temple.
When we come to the New Testament, we read about
the birth of Jesus - Immanuel,
a title that means 'God with us' ...
Later, He sends His Holy Spirit
to actually live inside of His people."
(Francis & Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever)

At this birthday time, instead of counting the years, 
I will spend my days counting the ways that He loves.

"I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources
He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.
Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him.
Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should,
how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.
May you experience the love of Christ,
though it is too great to understand fully.
Then you will be made complete
with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
(Ephesians 3:16-19)

"Open your mind and heart -
your entire being -
to receive My love in full measure."

Loving Lord, this is my prayer as I begin another year ... that I will daily count the ways that You love me. Your Love is without end! And by Your grace and mercy, I will learn more deeply the art of receiving this Love. 

For more posts on this topic:
FIRST LOVE: What We are Made For

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Listening Heart


I've been thinking a lot about prayer recently. Partly because of what I wrote in this post, and also in this recent post. And partly because there are seasons in life where I think God calls us to deeper prayer, and this is where I am finding myself now. I know there is so much to learn about this amazing thing we call prayer.

Sometimes we make prayer so complex, when really, it is so simple. Just like when we spend time with a close family member, or close friend. We are free to share our deepest joys and also our deepest trials. And we are free to ask for help in our times of need.

So it is with our communication with our eternal, all-loving, all-powerful God, who asks us to not worry about anything, but to pray about everything. 

This sharing of our hearts with our loved ones, 
and also with God, is all good.

But in any healthy relationship, there must also be another component of communication. Another side to prayer that we often neglect. And this other side of communication is called listening. Listening from both sides. We know that God hears our prayers and listens to the cries of our hearts. 

But do we pause, and listen to God's heart?

Communication, to be effective and to truly be communication, must be a two-way exchange. The sharing of one's heart, and the listening to the other's heart.

And this is what is drawing my heart these days/weeks ... to purposely slow myself, to pause from my continual asking, and talking to God. To pause, and to listen to Him. To read His Words more often, more intently, with a listening heart. To pause in my busyness, and to listen to His direction. To even be silent as I pray, and let His thoughts fill my mind.

I have found that true listening is a matter of the heart. It starts in the heart with a deep desire to hear from God - through His Word, as we pause in prayer, as we seek Him with our whole hearts. It comes with a longing, even a desperate longing, to hear from Him. Just as a newborn babe longs for nourishing, life-giving milk. 

Let me hear
of Your unfailing love
each morning,
for I am trusting You.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to You.
(Psalm 143:8)

In this fast-moving, busy world, filled with so many things to do, we need to continually remind ourselves that just as Jesus pulled aside during His days on earth to spend time communicating with His Father, so we also need to pull aside from our busyness to spend uninterrupted time communicating deeply with Him. And even in the midst of our days and in the middle of our busyness, in the middle of the noise, to quiet our hearts and pause, and to communicate. To pray ... 

To share our hearts and to listen to His.


For more posts on this topic:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thankful for Grandkids


It was an absolutely beautiful weekend! Perfect weather for enjoying a family meal out on our patio, and then a trip to a nearby orchard for their annual "Apple Fest". (Five of our ten sweet grandkids pictured here.)

So thankful for TEN grandkids 
on this Grandparents Day 2015!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Club Sandwiches



There are so many variations of sandwiches, and I'm always watching for new ideas to try. This is one that caught my attention about a month ago, and I have served it twice so far! One time it was just for the two of us, and the next time it was when we had a group of 12 over to our home.

It is as tasty as it looks! The sliced avocados add a special touch, though I did not include them the second time I made them, and they were equally delicious! It was just a bit quicker to assemble them for our group of 12, otherwise I would have included them the second time I used this recipe, as well.


Print Recipe

Club Sandwiches


Course: Lunch
Prep Time: 25 min
Total Time: 25 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 12 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 French rolls split
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 1 medium ripe avocado peeled and sliced
  • 14 cup prepared Italian salad dressing
  • 12 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 12 cooked bacon strips
  • 12 pound sliced deli turkey
  • 12 pound sliced deli ham
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese

Directions

  1. Spread mayonnaise over cut sides of rolls. 
  2. On roll bottoms, layer the lettuce, tomato and avocado. 
  3. Drizzle with dressing; sprinkle with pepper. 
  4. Layer with bacon, turkey, ham and cheese. Replace roll tops. 
  5. Yield: 4 servings. 

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Note: I tripled this recipe to serve our group of 12, using a package of 12 hoagie buns purchased at Sam's.



As our friends arrived at various times for the recent gathering in our home for our Cru volunteers, I set up an assembly line station on one of my kitchen counters. It made for easy assembling of the club sandwiches as people arrived, serving the sandwiches freshly made. Our guests made multiple comments about the tasty sandwich; you can be assured that this recipe is a great one to try!

Do you have a favorite sandwich recipe?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Door to Prayer



Could it be that there is a door to prayer?
And the door that opens prayer might just be:

Thanks Giving


Have you noticed, as I have, how often the two are connected together: the giving of thanks, and prayer? There are many verses ...

"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)

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim Your unfailing love in the morning,
Your faithfulness in the evening."
(Psalm 92:1-2)

''Always be joyful. Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you
who belong to Christ Jesus."
(I Thess. 5:16-18)

"Give thanks to Him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever."
(Psalm 136:4)

Just why is the giving of thanks so important when we come before God? Do you suppose it is partly because having a spirit of thankfulness reveals that we also have a heart of humility? 

If we are proud and self-sufficient, we take credit for things ourselves. We depend on ourselves and our own accomplishments. But if we realize our own weaknesses, and realize how desperately we need help, then the door of our heart opens up to receive. And we are grateful, and we are thankful for even the smallest thing. 

Maybe this is why we so often find ourselves in great need. When we are in need, we more easily recognize His gifts. And when we recognize His gifts, we grow a heart of thankfulness. 

And thankfulness is what opens the door to prayer.

"He (Daniel) prayed three times a day,
just as he had always done,
giving thanks to his God."
(Daniel 6:10)

"I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord."
(Psalm 116:17)

"The only real prayers are the ones mouthed with thankful lips. Because gratitude ushers us into the other side of prayer, into the heart of the God-love, and all power to change the world resides here in His love. Prayer, to be prayer, to have any power to change anything, must first speak thanks." (Ann Voskamp)


For more posts on this topic:


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Amish Breakfast Casserole



I love breakfast food recipes, but don't often choose to take the time to prepare a recipe in the morning. But breakfast food works for any meal of the day, really. And recently I tried out this new breakfast casserole recipe for lunch. And then, as there are just the two of us now in our home, there was plenty left to enjoy for breakfast for a few mornings!

This recipe has been on my list to try for quite awhile, like maybe a few years? A sweet daughter served this to us several years ago when we visited, and I had to ask her for the recipe, of course. It was so good, and I was not disappointed when I made it for the first time myself recently. I don't know why I waited several years to try this delicious breakfast casserole recipe.

Print Recipe

Amish Breakfast Casserole


Course: Breakfast
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 35 min
Total Time: 50 min
Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sliced bacon diced
  • 1 medium sweet onion chopped
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • 4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes thawed
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 12 cups (12 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
  • 1 14 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion over medium heat until bacon is crisp; drain. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients; stir in bacon mixture. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.

  2. Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

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It takes a little time to prepare this recipe, as it involves frying an entire package of bacon (diced). If I were to prepare it for a special breakfast, I would choose to fry the bacon the day before, and have it ready in the refrigerator together with the shredded cheeses. Then it would take just a quick few minutes to mix everything together. 

But, of course, frying the bacon in the morning would fill your home with the aroma of a delicious breakfast on its way to the table.

Thanks, Cristy, for introducing me to this recipe - we loved it at your home, and it was such a treat to have it again here at our home.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Welcome September


A new month ... 
new opportunities, 
filled with brand new moments; 
each moment, to treasure.

May we live and love well, listen well,
each moment, each day. 
May we soak in the beauty of September,
of all that this new month will bring;
all gifts from God
to grow us, and to glorify Him.
And may we abide, and remain in Him,
allowing His Spirit full reign
in our hearts, our words, our lives.