Saturday, July 30, 2016

Our Pacific Coast Trip



How do we even begin to thank God for the gift of our 
18-day Pacific Coast Trip?

Though we planned for it for a few years, a few months ago we wondered if it could really happen. My dear husband had some health issues that seemed to be concerning, and we weren't sure if we would be able to go ahead with our trip. But the health concerns were amazingly taken care of, and we sensed a green light to go ahead with our trip.

We just returned home last night, 
and our hearts and souls are overflowing with thanks to God 
for this amazing trip!

Celebrating our 45th Anniversary
and 25 years as Cru staff

It was even beyond our expectations and dreams!! 

I didn't post many photos while we were on our trip (just one each day on Instagram, and also shared to my Pursuing Heart facebook page) - we were having too much fun relaxing, and focusing on each moment to be on social media too often. 

But now that we are back home, I am treasuring the memories, and hoping to preserve some of these memories in digital scrapbook form. The photo above is of the first digital scrapbook page, with an overview of the four parts to our trip. 

Each part, a gift from God ... 
and each part, beyond what we even hoped for!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Call to Prayer



Devote yourselves to prayer,
being watchful and thankful.
(Colossians 4:2)

As the month of July started up, I somehow was drawn to the idea that I should focus more deeply on prayer during the month. It didn't seem like a timely focus at first, for it was the beginning of a month of family visiting us, followed by an 18-day trip to the Pacific Coast. 

Why would I want to take vacation time, and family time, to focus on prayer? Prayer is hard work, really. It's easy to pray about the every day concerns, and the things I need help with. But to pray for others? Intercessory prayer has always taken a determined effort on my part. And I imagine it is because it is of most importance. 

So when I was drawn to focus on prayer this month, I was being drawn to focus on something of most importance. Prayer is connecting our hearts to God; pouring our hearts out to Him, and listening to His heart, bringing all of our concerns to Him. The smaller things that concern us in our every day, and the bigger concerns involving those we know and love. There is no end to the need for prayer in this time that we live in.

"Prayer is the difference between seeing with our physical eyes and seeing with our spiritual eyes. Prayer gives us a God's eye view." (Mark Batterson)

"The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God. We don't get our marching orders until we get on our knees!" (Mark Batterson)

"Prayer turns us into first-class noticers. It helps us see what God wants us to notice. The more you pray, the more you notice; the less you pray, the less you notice." (Mark Batterson)


So, I pulled out one of my favorite books on prayer: Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson. Forty short devotionals on the topic of prayer, full of encouragement. I think that maybe we should be reading through a book that deals with prayer continually, or at least periodically. We need to be reminded and encouraged, for prayer is what we can most easily be distracted from. 

And I pulled out my collection of verse cards on prayer. I discovered that in my collection (so far), I have 39 verses on the topic of prayer. And there will be more to add as I go through this month of focus on prayer. Sometimes it's good to read a longer passage from God's Word each day; sometimes it's good to read one verse, or a few verses. To read it slowly, to write it out into a journal, to really listen, to pray it back to God as a prayer.

But if you remain in Me
and My Words remain in you,
you may ask for anything you want,
and it will be granted.
(John 15:7)

"Prayer is planting. Each prayer is like a seed that gets planted in the ground. It disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations. In fact, our prayers bear fruit forever." (Mark Batterson)

"Prayer is more like an investment account. Every deposit accumulates compound interest. and one day, if we keep making deposits every day, it will pay dividends beyond our wildest imagination." (Mark Batterson)


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fajitas in Pitas


I've been collecting new recipes to try this summer, and this is one that I tried out the end of June. The mixture that you spread over the chicken breast and the peppers, and also inside the pita bread, made this fajita meal so very tasty!

We have some pepper plants growing in our veggie garden ... I'll have to make this again when the peppers are ready. I'm thinking that this recipe will be one of our go-to grilling recipes during the summer months!

Sharing this delicious recipe from Taste of Home ... click on the "Source" link below to print.


Fajitas in Pitas


Course: Main Grill
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Total Time: 25 min
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 12 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 14 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers halved and seeded
  • 2 medium green peppers halved and seeded
  • 8 pita pocket halves warmed
  • 8 lettuce leaves

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, green onion, mustard and pepper; reserve 1/3 cup for assembling. Spread remaining mixture over chicken and peppers.
  2. Grill chicken and peppers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 165° and peppers are tender. Cut chicken into 1/2-in. slices; cut peppers into 1-in. slices.
  3. Spread reserved mayonnaise mixture inside pita halves; fill with lettuce, chicken and peppers. Yield: 4 servings.

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Spreading the mayo mixture on the chicken and peppers before grilling ...


A first time for us, grilling pepper halves right on the grill racks.


Off the grill, and ready to slice.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Above All Else


Such very familiar words, words that we have read and heard often ...

Seek the Kingdom of God 
   above all else

Sometimes I think that I have a grasp on what this means, and other times I feel like I am back in first grade again. Just beginning to learn ...

Just what does it mean to
seek the Kingdom of God above all else?

What would my life look like
if I sought the Kingdom of God
above all else?

What would this world look like
if all of us who claim to be followers of God
would seek His Kingdom
above all else?

Of course, we are human, and will never achieve perfection on this side of eternity, and we will not seek Him fully and completely until we are with Him and see Him clearly for who He is. 

But we have been given a taste of Him, and we have been given His Spirit within us. To help us, and to lead us in this life.

And He tells us to 
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else. 

He would not tell us something unless it were possible,
with the help of His Spirit within.

And I wonder if this seeking 
is not something 
to be fully attained,
or checked off our list.
But instead,
it is a process;
an attitude of the heart
a thirsting for Him.
A continual thirsting 
a continual seeking,
day after day,
moment by moment.

Our primary goal and focus;
to seek after Him.
Above all else.

And this is attainable, by the help of His Spirit within.

This is attainable ...
in the same way that I seek to know those I love,
and seek to love them even more with each year, each day ...
I listen to them, spend time with them - much time, and much listening.
Listening to their words, watching their actions, honoring them.
Giving them priority above the many things that call for my attention.
Seeking to know what brings them joy, giving them the best of gifts.
Desiring to know their deepest of hearts.

This seeking Him above all else is attainable by the help of His Spirit within. It may look different for you, and for me. For we work things of the heart out differently according to our personalities, according to how we are made, according to how our heart flourishes and grows. It's all a matter of what our heart focuses on ...

Make God the
utmost delight and pleasure
of your life,
and He will provide for you
what you desire the most.
(Psalm 37:4 The Passion)


Thanking Him for new insight into familiar words, and asking for His help to guide me into a deeper seeking of His Kingdom. And praying the same for you.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Summertime Recipes for the 4th of July

Summer food is so delicious, and also so beautiful! And when prepared and served on the 4th, the food becomes even more fun and festive! Especially when shared with family and friends ...

Sharing a few of the recipes from my blog that would be great to serve on the 4th of July!

HAPPY 4th of JULY WEEKEND!!


Frozen Fruit Cups


Potato Salad


All-American Bacon Cheeseburger