Monday, April 16, 2018

On My Heart: Living as Beloved

Just how does it really happen?
That we can be going through an ordinary day,
or even a rather complicated kind of day -
and completely unexpectedly, we open our eyes
to beauty, and love, that takes our breath away.

And all of a sudden we are enveloped completely
with love, and overwhelmed with the best of joy 
in an unexpected and wonderful kind of way.
The sun shines through, and our spirits are lifted
in the best of ways - beautifully, perfectly.

I wonder, how does this happen -
unless we really are so very. deeply. loved.
It's easy to forget in the midst of the hurry,
and the gray that clouds our world and our days.
But we are loved; we are His beloved.

Dare we believe this? Dare we open our eyes
and our hearts to watch each day for this love?
For the beauty, for the surprises, for the joy
that He has for us. For me. 

Loving Father, help me to live as who I am ...
Your B-e-l-o-v-e-d, Your dearly loved child.
May I live my days with open eyes and heart,
watching for glimpses of Your love, 
listening to Your Words, coming close to You.

"Come close to God, 
and God will come close to you."
(James 4:8a)

"For He satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul He fills with good things."
(Psalm 107:9)

And as I come close, and as I receive, 
the fullness of His love, and joy
spills over and out for others to see.

- - - - - - -

(Taking some time on this Monday morning as the sun is shining through the often cloudy days we've been having, thanking Him for His unexpected gifts of love over the weekend. Taking me by surprise, filling me with joy, reminding me of who we are, who I am; His beloved. It's easy to forget at times, to become too focused on the tasks or the problems at hand, that we don't even see. And this photo? A reminder of our beautiful trip to Italy in 2011; an unexpected gift, beauty at every turn. And today can be the same as we keep our eyes and our hearts open to His love and beauty ... at every turn.)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Special Spring Dinner for Two

It doesn't happen very often that it is just the two of us for Easter, but it happened this year. My hubby offered that we could go out to eat, but I chose to prepare a special little Easter Dinner for Two. But this menu would work great for any special day in spring, or even throughout the year.

My menu plan started falling into place when I remembered that I had two rock cornish hens in the freezer that needed to be used. From there I pulled out three new recipes that I had set aside to try, and then finished off the menu with a favorite from my collection.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

On My Heart: Because of Today

Because of today,
it all can change for us;
Because of today,
we can be made new.

We can try to fix ourselves,
try to perfect ourselves;
not once, but over and over.
Always falling short ...

But there came a day in time,
in real time here, on our earth,
when there was One who came
to remedy our sin, our imperfection.

For when we put our trust
in His work on the cross;
His sacrifice, freely given -
then we are perfected forever.

We become His own, dearly loved -
we are declared righteous,
without fault, complete;
we become beautiful in His eyes.

"I am overwhelmed with joy
in the Lord, my God!
For He has dressed me with
the clothing of salvation
and draped me in a robe
of righteousness."
(Isaiah 61:10a)

Thank You, Lord ...
Because of today,
I am forgiven, I can live
deeply loved, fully accepted;
I am declared righteous -
all because of Jesus.

(Sharing the thoughts on my heart Easter Sunday 2018)

Monday, March 26, 2018

On My Heart: Our Powerful Prayers

Do you grow weary in your prayers at times?
Tired of waiting for answers,
sometimes even doubting if there will be answers?
At least, the answers that we're longing for.

I do, so often ... it is hard to wait,
heart-breaking hard.

But just maybe, there is a bigger picture.
Bigger even than our prayers,
bigger than what we have in mind.

"We need to crawl out of our smaller story
so we can see all that 
God is up to in us and around us."  
(Susie Larson)

Just maybe, God is in the midst of
writing a story more beautiful
than we can even imagine ...
and it requires waiting, and it requires
our passionate, faithful prayers.

"... my heartbreak, and your heartbreak,
they're meant to inspire passionate prayers
in us and through us
because God is working ALL things
together for His purposes."
(Susie Larson)

Lord, may I be faithful to pray;
may I never give up ...
may I listen and learn from You as I wait;
may I surrender to Your much greater plans,
and may I give You praise all my days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

On My Heart: Growing Our Roots in Him

What is
needed to grow roots?

Does it take a lot
of work and effort
on the part of the plant?

Do we view plants
in great turmoil and strain
as their roots push down
through the soil?
Does spring bring stress
and pain as we watch
our gardens grow?

But the opposite is true,
for peace is what we see.

And it is the same
for us -
what is needed is
just keeping the soil 
of our hearts healthy,
ready to soak in
His life-giving words -
being still, resting,
looking up to the Son -
letting Him do
His work
in our hearts.

It can be springtime
in our hearts
all year round -
as we grow our roots
into Him.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Digital Scrapbooking: Wrapping up January

My digital scrapbooking needed to be set aside for a few months, as life has been extra busy since my father passed away on Jan. 11, 2018. But in recent weeks, I've taken the time to pause, and to collect the photos from January. Here are three of the eleven pages I've scrapbooking for January 2018 ... a record of God's care for us during that time of loss and also that time of celebrating the life of my father. So much to thank God for in the midst of our grief, and also a joy to have my Siebert family here from the east and west coasts, as well as most of our children and grandchildren.

Note: Most of the page templates and digital products that I use are purchased from Digital Project Life. About six 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.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Cranberry Chicken Wraps

If you've been by my blog very much this year 2018, you've probably noticed that I've been writing a bit less often. I've needed to give a lot of my attention and time to caring for my father's estate, as he passed away on Jan. 11. Amidst the grieving of having both of my parents gone now, I've had many things to care for on their behalf. But ... good progress is being made, spring is coming (my favorite!), and maybe I'll even have the joy of writing here more often in the coming weeks? We will just wait and see; it is all in God's hands on what He has for us to focus on during the different seasons of our lives.

But here I am today, with a recipe post! This is so good, I don't know why I wait so long with having this on the menu. If I remember correctly, one of my daughters (thanks, Cristy!) served this while we were visiting her in TX, and that is when I added this Taste of Home recipe to my collection. Good for any time of the year!

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

Cranberry Chicken Wraps

Course: Lunch Sandwiches/Wraps
Main Ingredient: Chicken
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 20 min
  • 14 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons feta cheese crumbled
  • 18 teaspoon rosemary, dried crushed
  • 18 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches) room temperature
  • 12 cup baby spinach fresh
  • 1 cup chicken breast, cooked shredded
  • 1 cup apple chopped
  • 14 cup Miracle Whip + 2 teaspoons, divided
  1. In a small bowl, combine the chicken, apple, 1/4 cup Miracle Whip, cranberries, feta cheese, rosemary and pepper. Spread remaining Miracle Whip over tortillas. Top with chicken mixture and spinach. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Yield: 2 servings.
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Monday, March 5, 2018

On My Heart: Within

A new week
and new opportunities
to pull up close -
and it cannot get any closer
than this ...

"And this is the secret:
Christ lives in you."
(from Col. 1:27)

A reminder of our
greatest privilege - so close,
within, wherever we go,
whatever we go through
this week. Today.

God with us; 
His Spirit in us.
Closer than any other;
His Presence.

(A photo from this morning - gathering together with our Cru Omaha team ... enjoying His presence with us, together.)

Monday, February 26, 2018

On My Heart: Our Hope

The words
are slow to come,
for how do you know what to 
say, or even what to think,
when heartbreak
rises up, uninvited.
Uninvited, and unwelcome.

There's so much
heartbreak in the news,
all around the world.
We see it on our screens;
and we hear of it. Every day.

And then when
it hits close to home,
like it has for me -
with a heartbreaking diagnosis
for a dear sweet friend.
What are we to do;
what can we even say
when our worlds fall apart?

When we have no words
maybe it's okay
to just be still,
to listen closely, and listen often,
to give a hug, to share our tears,
and to help in any way that we can.
And ... to hold onto His Words.

Lord, we put our hope in You.
For You are our help and our shield.
In You our hearts can still rejoice,
for we trust in Your holy name.
Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in You alone.
(From Psalm 33:20-22 NLT)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Digital Scrapbooking in Feb. 2018

Our year 2018 so far has been a blur of activity, of grieving the loss of my father on Jan. 11th, and of caring for his business affairs and his will. It has been my privilege to be the one of his four children who lived nearby to his Assisted Living apartment, and now, to be his Personal Representative to care for his affairs after his passing. 

I've had less time for some of my own personal interests, such as writing, and also creating digital scrapbook pages. But there have been pockets of time. And, actually, it has been essential to still take some breaks, and do things that provide rest and refreshment, amidst all the busyness. 

And in February, I completed the digital scrapbooking of our Family Christmas 2017! What a joyous time it was! And it turned out to be so very memorable, for little did we know at the time that my 96 year-old father would be leaving us just two and a half weeks after we were all together as family for Christmas.

The pages above are five of the ten that I scrapbooked from our Family Christmas 2017! So many memories, and so much to thank God for! It was an unexpected treat to finish scrapbooking these memories during the month of February.

- - - - - - -

Note: Most of the page templates and digital products that I use are purchased from Digital Project Life. About six 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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Creamy Meatballs over Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Meatballs over Mashed Potatoes ... one of my favorite menus! When I was thinking through my Christmas Dinner menu a few months ago, I had a desire to add another main dish to our traditional ham and mashed potatoes that we usually have for Christmas. Somehow, this recipe for Creamy Meatballs came to my mind. I had not made it for quite some time, and thought it would go great with the spiral-sliced ham and mashed potatoes that were already on my Christmas menu.

We all enjoyed it so much ... we may have a new tradition for Christmas Dinner! It is definitely one of my favorites.

I knew, though, that I needed to prepare this ahead of time. I tried it out ahead of time, and found out that it freezes very well. Perfect! I multiplied this recipe for our big family of 24 who would be here over the holidays, froze it after cooking, and then thawed and reheated it in my slow cooker for our dinner together. I chose to add some extra cream of mushroom soup and evaporated milk when reheating it ... making it even better than the original recipe (see my notes within the recipe directions below). This recipe works so well with my mashed potato recipe that can be made a few days ahead of serving, as well ... Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes.

Creamy Meatballs over Mashed Potatoes

Course: Main/Beef
  • 1 12 lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 12 cups soft bread crumbs
  • 12 onion chopped
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 12 tsp salt
  • 1 12 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  1. Mix first 7 ingredients. Fry in small balls till brown; drain off fat.
  2. Mix together 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 can of evaporated milk,
  3. and add to meatballs.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve over mashed potatoes.
  6. Note: This recipe can be prepared ahead of time, and then frozen.
  7. At the time of serving, thaw ... and then heat up in slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours.
  8. For creamier meatballs, I add an extra can of cream of mushroom soup and also of evaporated milk when doubling the recipe. (You can also add half a can of each for a single recipe.) Add before heating up in slow cooker.
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Monday, February 5, 2018

Quieting My Heart: To Dwell, to Pull in Close

The cold winter continues on,
and the harsh realities
press into our daily moments.
For our actual lives are full of
the beautiful, and also the
challenging, and the unknown.

But there is a safe place;
a strong and secure place.
A place to dwell, to live,
to lodge in, to stay ...
to settle into, to reside in,
to pull in and cozy up close in.

"He who dwells in the shelter
of the Most High
will abide in the shadow
of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord
'My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.'"
(Psalm 91:1-2)

What does this look like
to me? To you?
This morning, and today -
I will pull in close,
through the moments
of this week ...
I will focus my sight,
my thoughts, my heart
on Him.

(Photo from our Trip to Branson 2017)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Welcome February!

January was certainly full of the unexpected. In the midst of some slower days at the beginning of the month, while starting into the new year in slow-mode after a full and wonderful and amazing Family Christmas with our whole family home, we received a phone call that moved us very quickly onto a fast-track of emotions. Of grief, of phone calls, and then of the arrival of my brothers and sisters (in-law) from the east coast and the west coast. 

The phone call on Jan. 10th informed us that my father had fallen in his apartment in an Assisted Living facility nearby. He was taken by rescue squad later that day; it was determined that he had had a heart attack. After some precious time with him that evening, through the night, and into the next day, he passed away the evening of Jan. 11th. He was 96 years old, and had been longing for heaven, and to be reunited with his dear wife (my loving mother) ever since she passed away in 2007. So, his home-going was an answer to his prayers, and we are celebrating with him! At the same time, we are grieving our loss. It is definitely an adjustment to have lost both of my parents now. 

It has been a journey through many emotions since that day he left us. And it has been an intense journey as we have packed up his apartment, and also as we are taking care of all of his business affairs. A new experience for me, for sure ... a new journey, a new path.

And I am in need of new strength, new peace, and new wisdom. How very grateful I am that our God never changes; He always remains the same, His promises are always secure. Even though our circumstances change. I love this quote from the beginning of the new Gracelaced book, by Ruth Chou Simons ...

"Jesus' character -
as our refuge, as trustworthy,
as sufficient, as ever-present,
as wise, as merciful, as in control,
and as sovereign Lord -
breaks through the harsh cold of the season
as He steps in to carry our burdens,
reminding us that true rest comes
when we rest in Him."
(Ruth Chou Simons)

And as we step into this beautiful month of February, 
we can trust in, rest in, and expect the same ... 
His Presence with us along each path He leads us on,  
throughout each day that dawns, 
and in the midst of each moment of each day.

(free photo from pixabay)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Quieting My Heart: In Memorial

How can a life end so quickly?
How can a loved one just vanish
from our view, from our touch?

How can love leave us quiet,
grieving, tearful - 
yet joy-filled, thankful?

How do we continue on
when our heart is breaking,
when our heart is overflowing
with thanks, with deepest love?

How do we even know
how to take the next step?

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

By Your grace, with Your strength,
I will pause, I will quiet my heart:
I will offer up my thanks to You -
through my tears, with my joy;
I will pull in close, so close,
to You.

- - - - - - -

(Grieving, and filled with thanks
for my father, who passed away
on Jan. 11 after a heart attack,
at 96 years of age -
receiving his greatest wish ...
of being in the presence of God,
and being reunited with my mother.)