Wednesday, June 15, 2022

A Collection: Good Books for Summer Reading, and Summer Gardens

A fun little post mid-way through the month of June, highlighting two of the many things that I am loving this month.

My husband and I both love to read - one of our favorite things to do in the evenings. During the summer, and anytime of year. The photo above shows my current collection of books that I am reading now.

I love to have an inspirational book on hand all the time, and right now I'm reading Ann Voskamp's most recent book Waymaker. She paints a beautiful picture of God's love and purposes in every area of our lives, drawing on her own personal life stories. I love her practical, very insightful thoughts, encouraging us to draw close, and trust Him in the good times, and also the hard, and painful. 

I also like to have a fiction book on hand, and currently am reading The Prayer Box, by Lisa Wingate, a new author to me. A relaxing, easy reading about the hope and healing that is brought to a struggling young mother living along the North Carolina coast.

My reading list also includes two more books that I'll be reading slowly through the year  ... 

A Lovely Life: Savoring Simple Joys in Every Season by Melissa Michaels, a beautiful coffee table style book, divided into four sections for the four seasons of the year. It's filled with ideas to "embrace the rhythms and rituals of each season with simple HOME*MAKING and SOUL*TENDING practices to help you cultivate more peace, contentment, and joy throughout the year". (quote from the back cover of the book) This book, a gift from my husband for Mother's Day, will bring joy throughout the year!

And lastly, The Lazy Genius Kitchen, by Kendra Adachi, a book I learned of through one of the podcasts I listen to. I am enjoying her fresh ideas of organizing, and tailoring our kitchens and our cooking routines to work the best for us. Yes, I've been cooking for quite a few years, but I continue to be inspired by new ideas, even in our retirement.

My husband and I also both love our summer gardens! Here are two photos to capture our veggie garden, and also our herb garden at this time, mid-way through June. 

Our 10x30 foot veggie garden has room for 4 tomato plants (including one cherry tomato plant, and one roma tomato plant), and a row each of peppers, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Also, we have cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, and also some white pumpkins. 

My herb garden is so handy, right outside the patio doors by our kitchen. This year I have sage, spearmint, basil, oregano, chives, thyme, and parsley growing. Such a joy to go out and clip leaves from these herbs to use while cooking!

In the mix of sports games for grandkids, time with family and friends, and in the midst of the daily responsibilities of life, we are often enjoying these two loves of ours ... some good books, and the joys of our gardens. All gifts from God during this season of life! 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

May Memories

The month of May will soon be over, and here I am, with my first (and only) post of the month! It has been a full month for us, as it has been for so many. We have loved the spring weather, and this lovely season of planting of our veggie garden, herb garden, and multiple spots for flowers on our patio and in our yard. What a beautiful time of year!

We've also had some special days ... Mother's Day (beautiful roses above were a gift from my honey!), and the celebration of six family birthdays! Either celebrated in person or celebrated from afar with phone calls, and  gifts/cards through the mail. Also sprinkle in some sports events for grandkids, a baby shower for a friend, gatherings with our CityGroup friends, and a fun viewing of the Downton Abbey movie with friends ... and, well, yes, the month has been full, and wonderful.

And as is the case with most everyone, there have also been some difficult, heartbreaking things where we have needed to lean in extra close to our faithful, loving God - for His strength and wisdom. The resulting peace and perspective from Him are also highlights of our month of May.

A special treat for me these past few months has been to slowly make my way through reading When Strivings Cease, by Ruth Chou Simons, and to also go though the accompanying Study Guide. I highly recommend this book, and also the study guide. And if you go through it with a friend (as I have been doing) the insight gained is doubled!

How would I describe the main message of the book in a few sentences? A bit difficult to do, but I will try ...

A brief quote from the book sums up my main take-away very well: 
"Right living overflows from right believing."

It is essential for us to get our "believing" right. If we are not anchored in the truths of God's Word, in what the Gospel really is for not only our future hope, but for our everyday, our every moment living, then we will find ourselves continually striving for what we already have. 

This book reinforced so well what I am focusing on this year for my Word of the Year for 2022 ... "Truth-Filled". It is essential for me, and for each of us, to continually fill our minds and hearts with truth, God's truth. And instead of striving for approval, acceptance, and purpose, our focus can be on abiding in what He already has accomplished and provided for us. 

The author encourages us "to take our eyes off of everything you think you need to be amazing, and be amazed, instead, at God's grace."

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Incredible Joy of Easter


The familiar words
become alive as we pause and listen ...
and year by year, new layers of understanding
come to our hearts and minds.

Though we will not even be able to contain
all that Easter brings us, for it will take an eternity
to comprehend the joys, the blessings,
the never-ending love of God towards us.

Our faith in Jesus
transfers God's righteousness to us,
and He now declares us flawless in His eyes.
This means we can now enjoy true and lasting peace
with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus,
the Anointed One, has done for us.

Our faith guarantees us permanent access
into this marvelous kindness that has given us
a perfect relationship with God.
What incredible joy bursts forth within us
as we keep on celebrating our hope
of experiencing God's glory!

Romans 5:1-2 TPT

Thanking Him for a new layer of understanding and joy with reading these familiar words from Romans 5 in a new translation. How can we even comprehend that He sees us as flawless in His eyes, and that we are recipients of His unending marvelous kindness and love. Beautiful beyond description. All because of Jesus.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Year 2022: One Quarter of the Way

January 1st was not that long ago, but here we are  ... one fourth of the way through this new year already. It's a good time to pause, and reconnect with ideas and thoughts that we started the year out with. Do you like to do that, as well, as the year progresses?

One important thought that I am re-visiting, is the word "Truth-filled", my 'Word of the Year' that I started out with in January. (Click here to read more.) This word/thought, this focus, has been with me, on my mind and heart, so often. I keep going back to it most every day, and throughout the day. And I'm also finding that there is another word that I need to focus on in order to live "Truth-filled" ... that is, the word listen. This additional word has been my 'Word of the Year' for quite a few years in the past. And I think it is so essential. So important as I desire to live "Truth-filled". It's really a heart issue, a heart focus, to really listen to God, and to live our days focused on Him, and His thoughts.

But what exactly does it mean to seek to be and to live "Truth-filled"? For me it means that it is essential for me to intentionally focus my mind and my heart on Truth. Listening with my heart, soul, and mind, seeking after and loving Him above all else. (from Matthew 22:37)

As Sara Hagerty says in her book Adore, "At every juncture of my life and my day I am given an opportunity to ask and respond, 'What will I feed my soul? My thoughts or His?'. Dallas Willard says it this way: 'The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon.'"

Come everyone who is thirsty, come to the water,
and you without silver, come, buy, and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without silver and without cost!
Why do you spend silver on what is not food,
and your wages on what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
and you will enjoy the choicest of foods.
Pay attention and come to Me; 
listen, so that you will live.
(Isaiah 55:1-3a CSB)

Lord, help us to consciously choose to 'Come to You', to read, to dwell on, and to store up Your Words, Your Truth, in our minds and our hearts. Then, it is the work of Your Spirit within to integrate this truth deep into our hearts/minds, giving us understanding, letting Your Words soak in deeply, affecting our thoughts and our actions. Not just reading words of Truth, but that they actually become a part of us, of who we are.

Monday, March 28, 2022

In the Kitchen: Winter Soups and Bread

Nothing in my kitchen can quite compete with the warmth and taste of soups during the cold, winter days and months. The beginning of January I made up a very flexible menu plan for January to March ... click here to see. I love to try new recipes, but this time I focused on using recipes from my favorites, some that I had not even made for awhile. And a favorite thing on my menu plan was to prepare one of my favorite soup recipes each week. 

Now, about three months later, I just have two more soup recipes to make! We've enjoyed twelve delicious soup recipes, with two more to go. Even though it is officially spring now, the days have continued to be in the lower temps, so soups for a week or two yet will be just great. 

Even though it's just the two of us here now (in contrast to years ago when all six of our children were still at home), I continue to make the regular size of recipe, and often even double it. Did you know that most soups freeze well? I love to have multiple meals of soup in the freezer, ready to pull out on a day when I don't have time to cook, or just prefer not to cook. 

Here is a list of some (about half!) of my favorite soup recipes:

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup (photo above)

30-Minute Chicken Noodle Soup

Best-Ever Potato Soup

Cheesy Chicken Chowder

Lemon Chicken Soup with Rice and Peas

Taco Soup

White Chicken Chili

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

And another favorite during winter, and also all year through is homemade bread! I usually make a double batch of bread every 3 months or so, and have a ready supply in the freezer. My lovely Bosch machine mixes and kneads six loaves of bread dough at a time. I took time to make some more just recently. The aroma that fills our home is almost as lovely as eating the bread itself!

Click here for a post from the past about this tasty bread.

And now, spring weather is just around the corner! A few days ago I took some time to make up another of my very flexible menu plans for the months of April and May. No soups this time around, but I'm looking forward to other favorite recipes for spring meals. Click here to see my winter season menu planning process, which I repeated again for this spring, just using different recipes.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Be Still: In the Secret Place

I always love these tiny little flowers that so very quietly open up on our indoor kalanchoe plants ... a sure promise of spring to come outdoors.

And at the same time, I am reminded of how we grow and how we bloom ... just quietly listening, embracing His Truth, His Words, soaking up the life-giving waters of His faithful, unending love. Pausing in secret - waiting, listening, abiding ...

The secret place is a place where God answers and speaks to us. Nothing is more sustaining and life-giving than hearing His voice. God is always longing for an intimate relationship with His people in which we hear His voice and respond accordingly.  (Secrets of the Secret Place)


A little devo post shared on my Instagram this past week ...

Monday, February 28, 2022

A Collection: Inspirational Reading, Word of the Year, Desk Organization, and Remembering 20 Years Ago

Taking time to share a few highlights of this month, right before we step into the brand new month of March. I'm ready for this new month that brings the start of beautiful spring, and I'm also thankful for these February memories ...

It was the right time for me to start reading When Strivings Cease by Ruth Chou Simons. I purchased this book last fall when it was first released, but I waited until after the holidays to start this very insightful book. The subtitle says the main focus of the book very well: "Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace".  I am always so encouraged and refreshed by the writings of this author. I'm going through it very slowly, along with the accompanying Study Guide, and meeting with a good friend every few weeks as we share together what has impacted us.

Do you choose a 'word-of-the-year' each year? I have been doing so for quite a few years now. On January 1st of this year, the word that came to me to focus on throughout 2022 was one that had been on my heart often in the previous weeks, maybe even for a few months. And that word is:


I am finding that it is of most importance for me to focus my mind and my heart on Truth; maybe more so with each passing year. Is it the same with you? I can be so easily prone to resort to worry, or to trying to figure things out on my own. And I can use up precious time by over-thinking, and depending on my own understanding. Maybe more than ever before, we need to fill our minds and hearts with Truth - His Truth, God's Word. I am continually adding more verses to my card collection of "Truth-filled" verses that I desire to keep handy, and pull out to think on through the days and weeks.

A bit of a tedious task this first part of 2022, but a much-needed one, and definitely worth all the work ... a re-organization of our "Home Desk" files. So much to always keep track of, and it was time to clean things up quite a bit. I especially like having my most frequently used files in easy reach, and was pleased to find these pretty file folders, and the decorative basket at Target - and also the pretty greenery plant at Home Goods. I love having this right on top of my "Home Desk", in easy reach for the weekly home office tasks.

February also held a memory of a very significant time in our family twenty years ago, when my dear husband was in a horrific accident. We share our thanks and praise to God for the big and small miracles during that very difficult season ... click here to read on our blog.