Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hidden Treasures

"In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." 
(Colossians 2:3)

"Approach each day with a desire to find Me. Before you get out of  bed, I have already been working to prepare the path that will get you through this day. There are hidden treasures strategically placed along the way. Some of the treasures are trials, designed to shake you free form earth-shackles. Others are blessings that reveal My Presence: sunshine, flowers, birds, friendships, answered prayer. Search for deep treasure as you go through this day. You will find Me all along the way." (Jesus Calling)

Thankful for the treasures found in each day, during the past week ...

~ living, active Words, every day - food for my soul

~ beautiful potted flowers on our patio table

~ a 25-minute walk through our small town

~ eating lunch out by our patio table with my husband

~ calendar in hand, discussing summer plans with husband 

~ a wonderful four-day trip over Memorial Day weekend, traveling to Dallas with two daughters and four grandkids, to spend time with another daughter, a son-in-law, and four more grandkids

~ so thankful for safety, and for a great time traveling with two two-year olds, a three year-old, an eight year-old, and two daughters - for the 13 hour drive to Texas ~ the kids were so good!

~ eight cousins together for the weekend (8 of our 9 grandkids!) - here are the youngest 6 at a wildlife refuge that we went to on Saturday morning

~ time to cool off on a hot day at a pool in their subdivision

~ good talks late at night, and throughout the day ... and time to celebrate our son-in-law's birthday while there

~ two of the sweetest little girls, all dressed up for church

~ a Sunday afternoon visit to LegoLand in Dallas with two very excited boys

~ thanking God for these past four days spent with family, for good communication times, for fun with the grandkids, and for safety traveling the 12 hours home yesterday

~ and thankful for my wonderful husband waiting at home for me ... 

~ grateful to God for the hidden treasures He has for us each day, evidences of His love and presence

(One Thousand Gifts #434-448)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our Breath, Every Day

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Every morning, every day, every moment ...

"Always be joyful. 
Never stop praying. 
Be thankful in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 
(I Thessalonians 5:17)

These words have grabbed my heart again. This reminder to be in constant dialogue with Our Maker ... always connecting, always thanking. All because of Jesus, and made possible by His Spirit within.

"Our thinking about prayer, whether right or wrong, is based on our own mental conception of it. The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues 'without ceasing'; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops ... Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. ... 'Pray without ceasing' ... maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time." (My Utmost for His Highest)

Thank You, Lord, for being so close, just a breath away, all through our days, every moment. Even this day ... traveling 12 hours to Dallas with family, to see more family.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Caramel Toffee Ice Cream Pie

Last week I did a search online (Taste of Home website) for a recipe to use for our youngest son's 21st birthday ... and the result was this delicious recipe! It is definitely a keeper to add to my recipe collection. It can be made days in advance of a special event, as it is stored in the freezer - a great help in preparing for a special meal.

Caramel Toffee Ice Cream Pie

1 1/2 cups chocolate graham crackers crumbs (about 8 whole crackers)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 egg white, beaten
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups vanilla frozen yoghurt, softened, divided
2 English toffee candy bars* (1.4 ounces each), coarsely chopped, divided
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping, divided

(Note: I could not find English toffee candy bars, and used a Symphony Bar - Creamy Milk Chocolate with Almonds and Toffee Bits, instead.)

In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in egg whites and butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Spread 2 2/3 cups of frozen yogurt into the crust. Sprinkle with half of the chopped candy bars; drizzle with half of caramel. Repeat layers.

Cover and freeze for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

And a close-up photo of a slice to see all the creamy, delicious goodness!

Linking up with Tasty Tuesday

Monday, May 23, 2011

Springtime Blessings

" ... do not worry about your life ..."
 (Matthew 6:25)

"Don't take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives ... " (My Utmost for His Highest)

So thankful for the blessings of this past week ...

~ the reminders that God gives us from His Word; this one today - "do not worry about your life"

~ the sounds of birds chirping

~ open windows in the springtime

~ freshly mowed grass

~ potted flowers on our patio

~ three birthdays for our Texas family this month ... a daughter, son-in-law, and a sweet granddaughter who turned 13 yesterday

~ and celebrating two family birthdays yesterday, here in Nebraska

~ so thankful for oldest daughter, beautiful inside and out

~ and thankful for youngest son, turning 21 - an amazing young man

~ the sharing of love through gifts and cards

~ so blessed to have five grandkids here yesterday - beautiful day for playing outdoors

~ three two-year old boys having so much fun

~ thankful for my husband and our youngest son ... so blessed by both of them

~ continually thankful for the gift of family

~ the excitement of planning for a trip with two daughters and four grandkids over Memorial Day weekend, to see daughter & son-in-law, and four grandkids in Texas

(One Thousand Gifts #418-433)

Sharing gratitude with others at A Holy Experience

Sunday, May 22, 2011

God's Dwelling Place

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I have been reading some of the most amazing thoughts, and keep coming back to them, wanting to treasure them in my heart and mind.

Reading through the Bible, now in II Chronicles as I alternate between Old Testament books and New Testament books ... I read, again, of all the intricate detail and care put into the building of the Temple by Solomon. His father, David, had received the plans from God, and had collected most of the materials for the building, but Solomon was the one entrusted with the actual building. Such care to detail, to the use of materials of excellence, to building it with precise skill and perfection.

This Temple was to be the dwelling place of GOD ... Solomon himself could hardly fathom it:

"But will God really live on earth among people? 
Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain You. 
How much less this Temple I have built!" 
(II Chronicles 18:18)

This was the most amazing thing, that God would choose to dwell in this Temple, and earlier, in the Tabernacle. 

And even more astounding ~ in these days that we live in, God has chosen to make His dwelling in a place of even greater significance, a place so close ... in our human hearts, in us.

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

How can this be? Do I really realize the significance of this? Do I let this truth encompass all of my days, my whole life and focus? 

Solomon gave such great care to the Temple, the dwelling place of God. And we should treat our hearts as holy places, intricately cared for and furnished with only the most treasured materials. Allowing His Spirit to continually cleanse, beautify, and nourish this most holy of dwelling places.

Lord, I am in awe that You would choose to make Your dwelling in us, in our hearts. May You feel at home in our hearts, and may Your Spirit continually make us into places of beauty for Your Presence, reflecting You to all those around us.

Linking to Walk with Him Wednesdays

And to Reflection SONday, sharing some fresh insight from God this past week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Five Minute Friday

Linking up here, with others, as we write for five minutes on the topic for this week:

When Seasons Change


Writing this post is a sign of a new season coming, for I am a person who plans ahead, edits ... writing impromptu for five minutes is a clear sign of a new season blowing through ...

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To embrace motherhood means to embrace seasons, for in mothering we are constantly changing seasons. Seasons of expectancy, carrying dreams for our child within. The sweet seasons of caring for our newborns. Then the carefree days of toddlers, pre-schoolers, full of wonder and fun. The coming seasons of elementary years, and then teen years all carry their own storms and times of adventure.

And then there are all the weather changes within the seasons ... for me, they have included an overseas trip for six weeks, with five children in tow ... many days in hospitals, for leukemia, appendicitis, bone marrow transplant, terrible accident husband was in.

When seasons change, and they always do ... there is One who never changes. The One who made the seasons, and the One who promises always to be with us.


So much more to write ... I didn't even touch on the "empty nest" season I am in now. But my 5 minutes is up! And I will not go back and edit anything ...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seasoned Tilapia Fillets

I found this recipe recently while searching online on the Taste of Home website. Have been wanting to add more fish recipes to our collection, and this is one that we will keep using. Very easy, and so good!

Seasoned Tilapia Fillets

2 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon steak seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Dash garlic powder

Place fillets in a greased 11x7 inch baking dish. Drizzle with butter. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; sprinkle over fillets.

Cover and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-8 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Yield: 2 servings

Linking to Ultimate Recipe Swap, sharing fish recipes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Source of Beauty

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There is so much beauty to be seen in the spring. And all year round. So much beauty that seems to just appear without much effort. The apple blossoms, the peach blossoms, the new green leaves, and in coming days, the vegetables in gardens, the apples on the trees.

"Look at the lilies of the field 
and how they grow. 
They don't work or make their clothing ... " 
(from Matthew 6:28)

Without any visible effort on the part of the blossoms, or the leaves, they just seem to appear. But we know that the roots of the trees and the plants must be healthy, stretching down to soak up the moisture, and reaching up to catch the sun. And then the blossoms and the fruit just magically appear.

How often do we put our focus in the wrong place? When we work so hard trying to craft a beautiful blossom, to no avail. When we keep watching for the fruit that we long for in our lives? Forgetting that all that is needed is to let our roots go down deep, and our hearts to reach up to Him. Focusing on growing in intimacy with Him, listening to His Words, resting in Him, soaking up His love.

"So often we impair God's designed influence,
 which He desires to exhibit through us, 
because of our own conscious efforts to be consistent and useful. 
Jesus said there is only one way to develop and grow spiritually, 
and that is through focusing and concentrating on God." 
(My Utmost for His Highest)

I am called back to this simplicity over and over again. Called back from focusing on tasks, on ministry, on working for approval from others ... called back to the simplicity of focusing on Him. Letting my roots grow down deep into Him, and sitting in the warmth of His love. 

"If you want to be of use to God, 
maintain the proper relationship with Jesus Christ
 by staying focused on Him, 
and He will make use of you every minute you live - 
yet you will be unaware, on the conscious level of your life, 
that you are being used of Him." 
(My Utmost for His Highest)

What we are made for ... to live in intimacy with Him. And as we focus on Him, others will enjoy the beauty of the fruit that He causes to grow. And from within that fruit, more seeds will sprout, spreading His love for future generations to come.

Loving Lord, please draw us back to You, to the simplicity of focusing on You as our First Love. Let our roots grow down into You, and let our lives be built on You. (from Colossians 2:7)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My First Page

A few months ago I made a big change ... from regular scrapbooking to digital scrapbooking! I love to scrapbook (recording a history in photos and words of God's faithful love through all the good times and hard times in our family), but don't have as much time for it as I would like. I am hoping that doing it digitally will make it possible to get more done.

The first step was to purchase Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and an external hard drive. And now ... I am in the midst of learning how to use Photoshop Elements. I came across a great online class that teaches the basics of Photoshop Elements, and also how to scrapbook with it ... so thankful! It even has a manual to print out, and follow along with while progressing through the 60 lessons online.

A great online tutorial course!

Viewing the lessons on my laptop ...

And reproducing them with my own photos in my Photoshop Elements ...

After a number of lessons covering the basic essentials of Photoshop Elements, I am now on the lessons teaching digital scrapbooking. Last week I made my first digital scrapbook page ... quite a simple one, actually, as it used a template. But an accomplishment, and I thought I'd share!

Welcoming our youngest son home after a three-month job on a fish processing vessel in the Bering Sea!

Trying to take a bit of time here and there each week and make more progress ... and so thankful for this online class!

Linking up to One Project at a Time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thankful for Now

Looking west from our patio ... everything has turned to brilliant green!

This last week was a full week ... full of May happenings! This morning I woke feeling tired, having had a full week as well as weekend, and was brought back to perspective with these words:

"The most important thing to determine is what to do right now. Instead of scanning the horizon of your life looking for things that need to be done, concentrate on the task before you and the One who never leaves your side. Let everything else fade into the background. This will unclutter your mind, allowing Me to occupy more and more of your consciousness." (Jesus Calling)

Just what I needed ... a reminder to turn my focus from the many tasks awaiting me this week, to focus, instead, on the present. Taking one step at a time. Living in the now. Looking for the things to be thankful for, and focusing on keeping company with God. 

Thanking Him for many memorable memories from this past week ...

#410 - a special lunch together at Paradise Cafe & Bakery with three daughters, celebrating the birthday of one, our sweet oldest daughter ... (and looking forward to a bigger family party this coming Sunday celebrating two family birthdays together).

#411 - an all-day staff meeting ... thankful for one full-time staff member, and two part-time staff who we work with in Student Venture, as well as about 25 volunteers.

#412 - memorable blessing of going to the church where a daughter and son-in-law attend, and where their two year-old son was part of the baby dedication service on Sunday ... and being able to take part in the awesome worship time, led by our son-in-law. (photo of our grandson on the screen, in photo below)

#413 - little grandson's warm hugs when he saw us come in the door of the church, and seeing him wave  when he spotted me in the audience while his daddy held him up front (and hearing later that he also said, "hi, mama!").

#414 - many graduation parties to go to over the weekend, both Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening ... then a graduation ceremony on Sunday, where a dear friend (daughter of close friends) graduated. 

#415 - thankful, again, for the son of this same family who graduated a year ago ... and for the miracle of his recovery from a serious head injury.

#416 - and thankful for an amazing miracle that God did for us this past week, an answer to many prayers. 

#417 - and filled with joy that as we enter another week, that we can live in the "now", keeping our eyes on Him for each step of the way.

Linking up with others at A Holy Experience, sharing gratitude ...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beauty in Adversity

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Why do we try to squirm out of difficulties, out of trials? Especially when God tells us that trials are to be preferred, for they are the surest way for us to be molded into His character, ready to reflect His beauty? (James 1:2-4)

I continually try to avoid trials and times of difficulty, and sometimes think that I have maybe had my share. Why must I need to learn over and over again that being broken is the best way to be?

For it is in being broken that God's fragrance is spread to those around us ...

"Through suffering, 
our bodies continue to share 
in the death of Jesus 
so that the life of Jesus 
may also be seen in our bodies." 
(II Cor. 4:10)

"Our circumstances are the means God uses to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure His Son is. Discovering a new way of manifesting the Son of God should make our heart beat with renewed excitement. It is one thing to choose adversity, and quite another to enter into adversity through the orchestrating of our circumstances by God's sovereignty. And if God puts you into adversity, He is adequately sufficient to 'supply all your need.'" (My Utmost for His Highest)

Finding myself in the midst of some difficult circumstances, I am learning again, and maybe in an even deeper way than ever before, to be thankful for these times which draw me to my knees. 

"Dear brothers and sisters, 
when troubles come your way, 
consider it an opportunity for great joy." 
(James 1:2)

Loving Lord, please use difficult times to break us, and free us of self, depending only on You ~ so that Your sweet fragrance fills us to overflowing, and spreads to all around ... for You are all we have and all we need.

Linking up with Reflection SONday, sharing some things that God has been teaching me recently.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Transformed into Beauty

Transformation takes place all around us, right before our eyes. In just a short time, the barren branches on our apple trees turn into fragrant beauty. The dead brown of yard turns into fresh green. The cold of winter can turn into the refreshing, light days of spring.

Life and transformation come because of the Resurrection. 

"I have come that they may have life, 
and have it to the full." 
(John 10:10)

Something of disrepair can be turned into a thing of beauty. What was intended to destroy us can be turned into the thing that redeems us. Trials can be turned into joy. Worry can be turned into peace.

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. 
I say it again - rejoice! ...
Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank Him for all He has done.
Then you will experience God's peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds
as you live in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4, 6-7 NLT)

Every day, and every moment brings opportunity for transformation. "Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me." (Jesus Calling)

Loving Lord, today and every day, may I look to You to transform trials and problems into things of beauty ... showcases of Your love and faithfulness, spreading Your sweet fragrance all around.

Linking to Walk with Him Wednesdays, sharing thoughts on the Practice of Living Resurrection.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Delicious Lemon Squares

A very sweet dessert ... but so good! I've tried substituting some of the sugar with fructose, and it just does not turn out the same. So, I continue to make this recipe just as written. It has such a fresh, spring-like taste ... perfect to add to special meals this spring and summer.

Delicious Lemon Squares

2 cups flour
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Blend 2 cups flour, 1 cup butter, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl.
Press into a 9x13 inch pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

Beat eggs in bowl. Add 2 cups sugar and the remaining ingredients.
Beat until well blended.
Spread over crust, and bake for 25 minutes.
Cool in pan.

Linking up to Tasty Tuesday, sharing favorite recipes.