Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer: The Growing, and the Harvesting of the Fruit



It's that time of summer
when the fruit of our planting
is beginning to appear ...
we've been enjoying fresh cucumbers,
sprigs of parsley, snips of basil,
chives, and tomatoes will be coming soon.

Roots have grown down into the
fresh spring soil, soaking up the rains,
and burrowing down into the healthy ground.

And as we've had quiet moments to
rest (here and there, during busy days),
soaking up the Son, burrowing our hearts
down deeper into His Word, into Truth,
there has been growth, and fruit has come.


I love the fruit ...
the flavor of fresh herbs,
chopped up and added to salads
and butters, and main dishes.

And fresh veggies from the garden,
even from the produce stands
cannot be equaled -
they are a true taste of summer.

I love it, too, when I see the fruit
of His Word - in my heart, in my actions;
even as it blesses others, and points
them to His love for them.


But sometimes I catch myself
longing for more fruit, focusing
on the fruit, wishing
for more recognition, even for praise -
for fruit is beautiful.

But when I put all my effort and
all my focus on the fruit,
on the produce, on the goodness of it, 
I am disappointed, and life
turns out empty, devoid of beauty.

And I am reminded ...

"We long for showy fruit
when the Lord calls us
to focus on clinging to Him.
We want to produce, but He
reminds us that He provides
as we abide."
(Ruth Chou Simons)

"I am the Vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in Me
and I in him,
he it is that bears
much fruit,
for apart from Me
you can do nothing."
(John 15:5)




Lord, may my focus be on You,
and You alone will bring the fruit.


For part one of this summer series, click here:

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Mother's Heart: In So Many Places



How can a mother's heart
be in so many different places?

Last week ...
my heart was in Omaha
helping a daughter pack
up her kitchen, her life,
as she made a move 300 miles away
with her dear hubby and two sweet kids.

And after going along
and being part of the excitement
of the move, of the settling in,
this same mother's heart 
overflowed with tears
as we said good-bye, and left
to drive 300 miles back to our home.

The very next day,
my heart was in San Francisco
(where it is every other day, as well),
as a dear son celebrated his birthday.
And I wished to give him a warm hug,
and an "I love you".

And now, two days after that day,
my heart is making preparations
to welcome another dear daughter,
her hubby and two of her kids,
for a sweet visit from Texas.

And as my heart is overflowing,
and is tearful, and is grateful 
for these two daughters, and son -
it also is stretched across the miles
to another dear son in New York,
and to two precious daughters
who live nearby.

How can a mother's heart
be in so many places?

Only by God's grace ...
held so close by the One who is Love,
and the One who holds all things 
together.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

On My Heart: Watching Every Day for the New



"I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it? I will
make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."
(Isaiah 43:19)

Sometimes I long for something big,
some big momentous change,
a pathway that is marked and visible.
Do you do the same, as well?

But maybe the pathway can come
in a very quiet way,
on a very ordinary day ...
the beauty enveloping our souls
in the grandest sort of way.

"... sometimes God will 
set the stage to move our hearts
and minds closer to Him
as we embrace His purposes afresh."
(Tim Keller)

On an ordinary day,
as we quiet our hearts,
and spend time listening to 
His Words. Even these days
can bring life-giving rivers - 
as we embrace His Words, His heart,
and allow His Spirit to flow through
the innermost places of our souls.

Lord, may I watch with expectancy
each day, for You at work
in my heart, in my world.


Photo: our cucumber plants, growing and surprising us with new little yellow flowers even in early June. And today, almost a week after the photo above was taken, and after some heavy summer rains, our cucumber plants are bursting with even more growth.


Monday, June 18, 2018

On My Heart: The Growth, the Beauty, and the Fruit



"If we long
to face each day
prepared and equipped,
we need to start each day
inspired and steeped
in the Word."
(Elisa Pulliam)

"God uses it (His Word)
to prepare and equip His people
to do every good work."
(II Timothy 3:17)

Lord,
may our roots grow down deep
into Your Word this week,
today. The growth, the beauty,
and the fruit that we long for
comes only from You.
Soften the soil of my heart,
fertilize my thoughts, my very soul,
with the richness of Your Words.


Photo: continued lessons from our flower plants ... a little corner of our veggie garden holding the varied brilliant colors of Vinca, beautiful purple Laurentia, and bright red Superbells (Calibrachoa).  



Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summer: Let Your Roots Grow Down



Spring has come, and summer is following so close ...
And here where I write this, the warm days 
of summer have already arrived.
All around me, the joy and the activity of summer has come.

And though I am grown, I am still like a child -
bursting with excitement and anticipation for summer ...
The outdoors, the beauty, the activity of summer call me.
And home projects, and also the possibilities of more carefree days
beckon me, as well, for there is much that I love about summer.

But I am also taking my cues from what I see all around me.
Summer is a season for growth; it is bursting all through our yard.
We're planting flowers, and more flowers - in our patio planters,
and in our flower gardens, filling every spot that we can.




And we are planting in our veggie garden ... tomatoes, peppers, 
green beans, even some potatoes. And this year,
some pots of herbs as well ... basil, rosemary, parsley.
There is no end to what we can plant, and what we can watch grow.




And maybe, in all the fun and activity of summer,
we should learn, and we should follow the pattern 
of what we see all around us.
In all the excitement of vacations, of family, 
of work and of play ...
we can choose to rest our hearts, and to listen to His voice, 
to read His Words,and to let our roots grow down 
deeper than ever before. 


Let your roots grow down into Him,
and let your lives be built on Him.
Then your faith will grow strong
in the truth you were taught,
and you will overflow with thankfulness.

(Colossians 2:7)




May I be as the flowers on our patio, in our flower gardens,
the herbs - freshly potted this week, the plants in our veggie garden ...
may I rest, may I soak up the Son, may I listen closely to Him;
may this be my highest priority, my highest calling.

As the flowers grow and bloom, and the herbs and veggies produce,
may my heart be growing deeper in You, and may Your love
overflow from my heart - through my words, through my actions.
May this be a summer of growth as our roots grow deeper in You.


"Lord, let Your Word be not merely something I believe
but something that dwells richly inside me,
so it reshapes all my thinking and feelings,
and even the very foundations of my heart."
(Tim Keller)



Monday, June 4, 2018

A Collection: In Our Yard, In the Kitchen, and a New Devotional Book


I think I like this type of post ... a little collection of various things from the past week. You can read my first one here.

In Our Yard ...

Oh, how I love this time of year - my favorite! And each year we come to love our patio flower planters, our various little flower gardens, and our veggie garden even more. How amazing to plant the little seeds, or plant starts, and then watch them grow. Such beauty ... and all, a gift from God.

I shared these photos and these words on Instagram this past week:




"A new planter for our patio table, 
filled with pretty little stones, potting soil,
some Osmocote Plus (timed release plant food), and ...
little white & purple Catalina flower plants!


These delicate flowers will share their beauty with us
over meals and gatherings this summer!
A little bit of prep and care on our part ...
and God will bring the growth!

And maybe it's the same with us ...
taking time for some tender loving care for our souls
at the start of summer days, and each day,
and the growth and the beauty will surely come."


 In the Kitchen ...


We've had so much going on during the past month, that I have become a bit lazy with my food prep and cooking.

But the start of June brings with it a new fresh desire to prepare fun summer meals for my hubby and I, and for any who come to our table.

I started out with purchasing a 6# pkg of chicken breast, dividing it up for 4 meals, preparing a favorite Teriyaki Marinade Sauce to put over the chicken, and freezing it.


It will make for a few easy meals in the next weeks ... just pull out, thaw, and grill for a summer meal together. Click on the link for the recipe here on Pursuing Heart:  Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Marinade.

I'm also hoping to have a good amount of main dish salad meals ... especially for lunches ...



And using some new colorful salad bowls makes the main dish salads even more fun! These two are a recent purchase, from the Pioneer Woman dish collection. I love the size of these bowls, too - just right for a lunch salad. The salad in the photo holds cut up spinach mixed with part of an Asian Chopped Salad mix, with added shredded roast chicken from the deli, and dried cranberries. 


A New Devotional ...

Last week I shared what I am currently reading (click here), and this week I have added another book to my little pile of books that I am reading now ...


I first came across this book on my Instagram feed. A brand new book, Unblinded Faith by Elisa Pulliam, featuring 90 days of devotional readings, all centered on God's Word, and all focusing on believing His Word through all of life. Through the good and the hard. It sounded perfect for what I am desiring for these summer months, and having read the first 4 of the 90 days so far, I am refreshed and encouraged, and so very thankful for this little devotional. If you like to go through a book together with others, you can check out the facebook page that goes with this book ... click here.

Happy June! Enjoy the beauty of this month!


Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Collection: Thoughts, Books, Recipes, and More



We're back home now from an amazing 6-day trip to Texas for a granddaughter's beautiful wedding! And this view welcomed me as we stepped into our home ... a picture of Home Sweet Home!

And as I step back into my blog again, after a quieter-than-usual month with writing (as life is always so very full during the month of May), my heart is called back to this online home! This month marks eight years of writing here!

And though blogging has changed a lot in the past eight years, this continues to be a sweet place for me! Writing continues to be part of who I am, a way that I process life and all that God teaches me ... and I am continually encouraged by Him to share here at Pursuing Heart from what I am learning and loving through the joys and trials of this life. You can read more about my blog vision and purpose by clicking here. (Updated a year ago; and I need to update it again soon!)

I thought it would be fun to jump back in with writing this month, with a collection of thoughts and things to share from this past week ...





Did I already mention what a full month this has been? I absolutely love spring, and especially the month of May, but it can get a little crazy with everything that is going on. That is why I have referred back to this post - Each Day, Listening and Watching - over and over again through this month. The thoughts I shared in that post came straight from what I recorded in my Quiet Time journal one day earlier this month. I have needed to be reminded over and over to keep my focus on the most important, even in all the busyness. (Most of what I write about here on my blog are things that I need to read myself, and are a picture of what God is teaching me on my own journey!)





Do you love to read as much as I do? This is my current stack of books ...

Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart - by Ruth Chou Simons

This beautiful devotional book, filled with Ruth's original creations, is organized around the seasons of the year. And that is how I am reading it: taking one season at a time. I'm almost finished with the spring season - a collection of eight devotional writings. Each one is so beautiful!

Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life - by Lara Casey

I purchased this book some months ago, as I have learned from Lara Casey's blog and also have used her very practical and helpful PowerSheets. Now seems a fun time to read it, as it weaves it's theme of "cultivating what matters, little by little, with God's transforming grace" together with the season of planting and cultivating a garden. 

Sensible Shoes: A Story About the Spiritual Journey - by Sharon Garlough Brown

I just started this book this past week, and am drawn in already! A friend recommended it to me ... thanks, Linda! It's the first of a series of four books, following the stories of four women as they are each drawn into a deeper life with God. A spiritual journey of four women, with many things that we can relate to in our own lives. Am looking forward to this journey ...

The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms - by Timothy Keller

I am loving this daily devotional book, reading it on my Kindle. It divides the reading of Psalms into daily portions, going through the entire book of Psalms in one year. I was drawn to read through Psalms in a more worshipful and prayerful way, and was reminded of this book that I had heard of. And I love anything by Tim Keller - always so full of insight and truth. How I'm using it: I first read the Psalm portion each day, record my prayerful response in my journal, and then read the daily thoughts and the daily prayer for that portion that are in this devotional. So very good! (Instead of starting it on Jan. 1, as it is set up, I am just taking it day-by-day from when I started reading Psalms a few weeks ago.)




We were so very busy before our trip to TX that we didn't really have time to do much grilling, but the day after we returned home, we made sure to grill! I love this Bacon-Wrapped Tilapia recipe! You can find the recipe here on my blog by clicking here.






And finally, sharing one of my favorite photos from our granddaughter's wedding in TX on May 20th! What an absolute joy to be there for Abigail & Addison's special day! This photo captures their love for each other and for others, as they are surrounded by the three flower girls and two ring bearers. It also captures Abigail, our oldest grandchild, and Eva (flower girl closest to her), our youngest granddaughter ... a fairy-tale photo at the beautiful wedding venue.




This last photo is another of my favorites from the wedding ... my dear hubby and I, with our six all-grown-up children! Having all of our six there in TX for the wedding was like the icing on the cake ... such a joy! This photo was taken at the very end of all the celebrations and also at the end of all the clean-up ... the ending to a beautiful day, all a gift from God!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Each Day, Listening and Watching


It has been five months now since the start of the new year. (How can it be five months already?) And it is time to refresh my thoughts. 

Spring is a time for new life, for welcoming thoughts that bring new life to our souls. Spring just naturally does that for me ...

Have you noticed how busyness and responsibilities can take our minds off of the things that really matter the most? We can become so immersed in what we are doing, in what we are accomplishing, that the task or the responsibility slowly becomes our main focus.

And we can miss the beauty of each day; we miss the beauty of His Presence.

But spring brings in a breath of sweet, fresh air ... reminding us to look up from our work, calling us to see His gifts all around us.

Reminding us that our main focus each day is simply to open our eyes and our hearts, and to listen and to watch. And it requires a being still to hear what He has for us, and to truly see His Presence in our lives.

What if ... our main focus each day is to see Him? 

"Show me Your unfailing love
in wonderful ways."
(Psalm 17:7a)


In the midst of whatever I am doing today ...
as I persevere through a responsibility or task that I need to care for,
as I go about the routine activities of my day,
as I face a problem, a set-back, or a recurring health concern,
as I listen to a friend, or a family member,
as I receive that unexpected phone call or text message,
as I pause and step outdoors on a beautiful spring day,
whether this day brings the good or also the hard ...


Whatever comes my way today, 
may it not become my main focus.
May my main focus be to watch and listen. 
To watch and listen for You,
to open my eyes to the 
gifts of Your Love, Your Presence.

Immanuel, God with us


May the most beautiful part of each day be You. 
  

Monday, April 30, 2018

Digital Scrapbooking: Gatherings, Birthdays, and a Special Baptism

There's so much to be thankful for, and I love preserving the memories! These three digital scrapbook pages capture some of our thanks from the month of March.



Another Cru breakfast, with staff and a few of our amazing volunteers (on St. Patrick's Day so lots of green!), and a Cru North student meeting! And so thankful for our youngest granddaughter, Eva ... turning 6 years old!


March 25th was an extra special day, with son-in-law Sean's baptism! PassageWay held their Sunday morning service at the YMCA, where the baptism was held. So very much to thank God for! And the next weekend a celebration of Jake & Cole's 9th birthday ... so very thankful for these two grandsons!


Easter was a quieter day for us ... an amazing service at Citylight Midtown, followed by a special dinner-for-two back at home. 

__________

Note: Most of the page templates and digital products that I use are purchased from Digital Project Life. About seven years ago I switched from paper scrapbooking, and took some online lessons from Digital Scrapper to learn how to digital scrapbook using Photoshop Elements(You can also click here for some great tutorials on the Digital Project Life website - maybe a quicker way to learn than the site that I used six years ago.) Also, besides being able to share my completed pages online, I also print them out at home in 8x8 inch size to fit in the albums that I purchase from Michael's.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My Favorite Dinner Roll Recipe: Dilly Rolls


My mother was known for her excellent dinner rolls, pies, and other baked goods. I've tried her recipes for dinner rolls over the years and also other recipes I have found, but somehow, never quite acquired her touch with dinner rolls. That is, until I tried this recipe. This Dilly Rolls recipe, shared by a friend (thanks, Vicki!), turns out amazing every time I make it.

The cottage cheese, the onion, and the dill weed make for a very tasty dinner roll, and it is my current favorite dinner roll recipe. It also freezes well, which is a huge factor to make it a winner for me. I made several batches of this recipe for our big Family Christmas, and then made it again for an event this spring. I always make more than one recipe at a time, and store the extras in the freezer, ready to pull out when needed.


Click on the "Source: tasteofhome.com" link (below) to print.


Dilly Rolls



Source: tasteofhome.com
Course: Breads/Rolls
Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 45 min
Serves:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp per pkg of yeast)
  • 12 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2 eggs
  • 14 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4-12 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Directions
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook cottage cheese and butter until butter is melted. Cool to 110° to 115°. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add eggs, sugar, onion, dill, salt, baking soda and cottage cheese mixture. Add 3 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Form into 24 balls; place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Yield: 2 dozen.
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After the first rising of the dough ...

And after the second rising of the dough ...

For faster risings, I often place bread dough, or dinner roll dough in a very slightly warmed-up oven (turning the oven off and closing the door). That's what I did for both of the risings (above). 


Each pan (one recipe) provides 24 dinner rolls! I doubled it recently, making 48 dinner rolls, enough for our special event, and extra for the freezer.