Saturday, October 2, 2021

The Most Amazing Gift in Perplexing Times

Welcome to this beautiful month of October! I am one of many who really love the fall season ... so much beauty everywhere! It's important to look for and soak up the little things, and also the big things ... the daily gifts that God gives us. Even in the midst of the perplexing days that we live in. 

Do we even realize what great gifts we have been given? And in the troubling days that we live in, do we live and breathe in the realities of all that God has gifted us with? Sometimes the depth and meaning of words is maybe more than we can even comprehend. And such is the case with the words above, from John 14.

We are not alone. We don't need to strive on our own to figure things out. There are so many confusing things going on. In our world, in our own country, and even in our own lives as we walk through the daily things.

It has probably always been the case,
but maybe even more in our present time?
We just want to know the truth.
Whether it's about a current devastation
in our world, in our own country,
or a more personal perplexing situation 
when we just need to know what we
are to think, or what we are to do.

Really, there are so many voices,
multiple ways to view things,
so many opinions - each 
speaking so loudly, and it can be 
frustrating, and so very confusing at times.

Just maybe ... our primary attention and focus needs to shift. From figuring things out on our own. To drawing in close to Truth. To the Words of Truth. Listening, reading, learning from His Words. With the help of the Spirit of Truth which He has given us. Who dwells with us. And is in us.

Truth that we need to live by. Today. With all the choices and decisions of daily life. And also when we are seeking to understand current happenings, and current events. It's best to pull in close to Truth. To immerse our minds and hearts first of all, and primarily, on the Truth in His Word, and to ask for wisdom and discernment in every area of life. As we listen to and read of current events, let us ask God for understanding of His perspective and purposes. 

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by Your truth, and teach me,
for You are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in You.
Psalm 25:4

I am so very thankful for God's Spirit, within, who gives us perspective, and points out truth to us. And also, I'm thankful for wise leaders, authors, and speakers who are seeking to do the same.

Monday, September 20, 2021

In the Kitchen: Favorites from the Past Few Weeks

Our minds and hearts can be pulled in so many directions these days , and often stress can creep in, as well, with all that is going on ... but isn't it amazing what a good meal can do? Taking time to cook and prepare beautiful and delicious meals for those we love is so important. Here are some of the things that have been happening in my kitchen these past few weeks ...

We really love this Pesto Chicken Caprese Flatbread recipe! I make it about once a week, using a variety of different meat toppings, whatever I have on hand. Most of the time I use shredded or cubed chicken ... sometimes use diced or shredded ham, and also have used leftover grilled pork chops, shredded with a fork. It's delicious and easy, no matter the topping. I've learned to always keep a supply of Naan bread on hand, stored in the freezer until ready to use.

The Twice-Baked Potatoes (pictured above) is a new recipe I've tried recently, shared by one of my daughters (thanks, Carrie!). It is absolutely amazing ... we really love it! It requires a bit of prep work, but I like that it can be prepared in advance. I have stored it in the refrigerator (before baking the second step) for up to five days, and also have found that it freezes well. Just prepare the baked potatoes, fill the potato shells, and freeze before baking the second step. (Thaw in frig overnight, add some extra cheese, and bake as usual.)

It was fun to prepare Grilled Chicken Salad again recently, after not making it for awhile. I've tried to fit in a few more grilled recipes in these past few weeks, before the warmer days leave us. The recipe makes quite a lot, and I cut it in half for the two of us, and that was still enough for several meals.

My favorite recipe for grilling salmon ... Grilled Spiced Salmon. Maybe not a traditional menu for Labor Day, but it was our choice on Sept. 6 this year! And along with this delicious main dish, we all did the following ...

We enjoyed delicious Grilled Potatoes along with the grilled salmon. Though not pictured here, I also added some sliced sweet potatoes to this recipe. The  combination of grilled potato slices along with grilled sweet potato slices was extra good, and we'll have to try that again in the future.

Photo from Tastes Better from Scratch

I never tire of trying new recipes. It adds more fun to the daily cooking routine. This Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe from the Tastes Better from Scratch site was a new one I tried during the past few weeks. A little bit of prep work, but so very good. Besides enjoying it the day I made it, there is also another meal in the freezer for another day. One of the things that I like about the Tastes Better from Scratch food blog is that Lauren always includes make ahead tips, including recommendations and details if the dish can be prepared and frozen for future use.

Well, that is it for now! We're moving into the wonderful autumn season, where the colors are vibrant, and there are so many joys waiting for us "In the Kitchen"!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Remembering, and Filled with Thanks

A month ago today
we were traveling home
from the sweetest 50th Anniversary Celebration
together with our family at a big rental home.
We were 21 of us (out of a total of 26)
gathered together for a few glorious days.
It was a blessing beyond measure!

And now, we're remembering, and thanking God
for so many blessings during that time together,
and throughout our FIFTY years!
And we're also missing the sweet ones
we were with four weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Beautiful Hibiscus Plant, and a Few Thoughts

Unexpected joys ...
a gift from family this summer;
a little bubbling fountain on our patio,
and with it came a little potted hibiscus plant.
Every few weeks throughout the summer,
it has burst open with one or two
absolutely gorgeous yellow flowers!

It reminds me of how quite unexpectedly 
we can come across a familiar verse,
and find ourselves surprised and blessed
with rich new insight, and bubbling joy.
Here's one from a few days ago, 
from Romans 3:24 (The Passion Translation)

Yet through His powerful declaration of acquittal,
God freely gives away His righteousness.
His gift of love and favor now cascades over us,
all because Jesus, the Anointed One,
has liberated us from the
guilt, punishment, and power of sin.
(Romans 3:24 TPT)

These truths are so familiar to us, but are so completely amazing. When we pause and listen carefully as the Spirit gives us understanding, these words can take our breath away. God gives us His righteousness, all because of Jesus' sacrifice for us. So beautiful, beyond measure; a gift  ... His love and favor cascading over us. 


And a few thoughts the end of this month ...

Somehow, my writing here on my blog has slowed down. But my love of writing has continued on - in my devo journal, in my planner, and in my desire to share from my heart in cards and notes ... even in this stage of life that my husband and I are now in. Retired, both in our 70's, and having celebrated 50 years of marriage this month!

And I guess I am still finding my way, or rather, God's way, for us during retirement. He so clearly led us to retire from Cru last summer, though we originally thought we would continue on indefinitely (yes, even though we are in our 70's!). We followed His leading step-by-step to make the big change, and have transitioned to more intentionally live a quiet life. Primarily focusing on time with Him, in His Word, and next in focusing on time with our dear family (6 grown kids and their families), and with our friends. It's also been a time for us to slow down, and deeply enjoy our life together, along with time to pursue a variety of interests that we both have. All while being available for whatever He has for us. We are really loving this time together ...

And as a result of this focus on such a variety of things, writing here on my blog has slowed down. There are seasons when we just need to pull aside, pause, and be still. Though the daily things of life do keep us quite busy, our retirement has definitely been a season of being still, also accentuated by the recent year and a half of varying degrees of actual quarantines.

But now, as the fall season approaches, I am sensing a bit of a nudge to slowly start sharing here more, but in a bit of a quieter approach. Not looking for a big following in any way, but welcoming family and friends (and anyone who comes by) into this season of life through my writing. Maybe sharing a short devo that I have posted on Instagram (such as the thoughts above about our lovely hibiscus plant, along with thoughts from Romans 3:24), a fun recipe post, or something creative that has blessed me. 

Just a quiet sharing from what is on my heart ... thank you for coming by!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

My Place of Quiet Retreat

Always, wherever we are … 

our place of quiet retreat,

with us.

Not limited to time or place;

Your Word, Your Presence.

Where do we go for rest, for refreshment, and renewal? The photo above was taken at one such place we've been at many times, with beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park in view. And ocean view, or lake view are also favorite places of ours. 

But what is an everyday place, within reach at all times? Where we can go on a daily basis to be renewed in our spirit, to find the rest that we long for and that we were made for?

"Cause my heart to bow before Your words of wisdom and not to the wealth of this world. Help me turn my eyes away from illusions so that I pursue only that which is true; drench my soul with life as I walk in Your paths." (Psalm 119:36-37)

"Reassure me of Your promises, for I am Your beloved, Your servant who bows before You." (Psalm 119:38)

"May Your tender love overwhelm me, O Lord, for You are my Savior and You keep Your promises." (Psalm 119:41)

"My passion and delight is in Your Word, for I love what You say to me! I long for more revelation of Your truth, for I love the light of Your Word as I meditate on Your decrees." (Psalm 119:47-48)

I am finding in even deeper ways than before, that it is most important, above all else, to fill our minds and hearts with truth, to “be truth-filled”, as author Ruth Chou Simons describes this. For with each passing year, there is even more noise, and more voices in our culture and world that attempt to draw us away from what is most important.

Let us fill our minds and hearts - our souls - with His Truth. Continually, day-by-day, through each day. Listening deeply to His heart as we read His words, depending on His Spirit to give understanding. Letting Truth soak deeply into the soil of our hearts, so that we will bear beautiful, lasting fruit.

This is how we are renewed in our deepest places, and this is the center, or “the bullseye” (in author Christy Nockel’s description) from which all else flows.

Above all else,

guard your heart,

for everything you do

flows from it.

(Proverbs 4:23)

Verses from Psalms in this post are from The Passion Translation.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Easy Freezer Meal Prep

I've always been a lover of freezer meals ... homemade freezer meals, made with favorite recipes. Though my methods have changed over the years, I still love to keep a supply of freezer meals on hand for the days that I don't have time to prepare a meal, or days where I just prefer not to cook.

When three of our four daughters still lived close by, we would occasionally get together for what we called "Freezer Meal Days". Occasionally a son would join us, as well! So much fun! You can view some of those days here on my blog ... click here, and scroll clear down to the bottom of the page to see some links to some of our "Freezer Meal Days"! So many sweet memories on the posts listed there!

Things have changed over the years, as more family has moved farther away. And I still love to prepare meals for the freezer, for just the two of us, or to have on hand to share with others. My easy method to prepare freezer meals now is to still make the same amount of food from my recipes ... never preparing half the amount, but preparing the full amount, and often, even doubling the recipe. That way I can put meals in the freezer!

Here are a few examples I've done recently ...

Italian Spaghetti Bake (click here for my recipe)

My recipe makes two 9x13 pans. My method is to prepare the recipe in four 8x8 pans. One for our supper meal that day, and three more for the freezer.

And another ...

Garlic Beef Enchiladas (click here for my recipe)

My recipe makes one 9x13 pan, and just this past week I doubled the recipe, and again used four 8x8 pans. One for our meal that day, one to give away (dear friends dealing with a severe illness), and two more for the freezer.

Photo above, of a meal we took for friends the evening I made the Garlic Beef Enchiladas ... and then (below) our meal that same evening.

Besides main dishes, I also love to have a variety of desserts in the freezer, readily available for when family or friends come by ... 

Recently, I prepared a jelly roll pan full of Blueberry Bars ...
(Click here for my recipe)

Two platefuls to share right away, and two more for the freezer.

Preparing food for the freezer is a continuing week by week practice here at our home. I love to cook, and I also love days when I can just pull out something from the freezer to use!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Collection: Pansies, Daffodils, Veggie Seedlings, and Springtime Embroidery


The month of March will soon be past, and signs of spring are showing up after what seems like a long cold winter, and we are loving it! Earlier this month we purchased some pansy plants for the first time ... why haven't we done so in years past? We've brought them indoors on occasion (photo above) when temps have dipped to below freezing, but for most of this month they've been out on our patio. Such beautiful glimpses of spring, even on the cool days! 

Outdoors we have some tulips popping up out of the ground, as well as some daffodils ... more glimpses of spring!

We haven't always taken the time to start seedlings indoors, but this year it has worked for us, being retired now. We have several kinds of flowers started, as well as some tomatoes and green peppers. It's such a joy to see the tiny seeds start growing!

Springtime has also been calling me indoors, with embroidery. It's interesting that I went through the whole winter without doing any embroidery, as there were other projects that called my attention. But mid-March, I started on this pattern, a free downloaded pattern from this online site (click here). You can also purchase patterns from this embroidery artist on Etsy by clicking here.

I added the words "Be Still" to this pattern, words that I continually need to remind myself of ... through the winter, into the spring, and all through the year. It's so easy to get wrapped up in tasks and responsibilities, even during retirement. And soon we find ourselves overloaded, and even stressed.

But we are called over and over to rest in Him, to pause, to trust, to soak up His unfailing love for us. Just as the pansies, the daffodils, and the indoor seeds we have planted. They are resting, quietly receiving the nutrients from the soil, soaking up the sun and the water, growing into something beautiful. May we do the same this spring, and all year through.

Be still 
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)