Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Source

Looking back ... and looking ahead. And reminded - to look at the Source.

This week marks the two year anniversary of Pursuing Heart, my online "home." We've come a long ways from it's birth - gaining more courage to share my heart in this public place - and learning much about the process of blogging. I started out with just text - no photos - and now, photos are a big part of this blog. I love to take the photos, and love to use them. And the format and decor of this online "home" have had some major changes, too - all for the better, I think.

But the thing of most significance has remained the same. As my husband and I spent some quiet hours (photo above) at beautiful, peaceful Walnut Grove Park yesterday (continuing to be so thankful for our Sabbatical/Time Off), I was reminded. That the Source of this blog remains the same. I was actually looking for maybe some new insight and direction as I enter the third year of blogging - and instead of new focus, I was reminded to keep the same focus.

Pursuing after God, and listening. And then from that listening - sharing in this place. This is what I was impressed with two years ago in this "empty nest" stage of life - to focus first of all on listening to, and following closely after God. In my own imperfect, broken way - seeking after Him, and then sharing from the overflow of what He so graciously fills us with.

Thanking Him for this two-year journey of blogging (so far) ~ and looking ahead to more! And thanking Him for the many gifts along the way ...

Friends who encouraged me to open up an online place in May of 2010 ...
Affirmation and clear direction for it's focus in August of 2010 while my husband and I were vacationing in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains ...
Reminders, again - to keep this focus ...

Help along the way - learning from others in blogging ...
An increased love of photo-taking ...
Learning how to use Photoshop Elements - help with photos ...

Added direction to share things of the heart and of the home ...
The fun of posting recipes, digital scrapbooking, thoughts from a mother's heart ...
And from the joy of being "grama" ...

Unexpected blessings ...
Finding of kindred hearts, and so encouraged by them ...
Learning and growing from reading their blogs ...

And blessed beyond measure by "in real life" friends and family ...
Surprising me with their words of thanks ...
The blessings of following His direction to share my heart in this place ...

God's grace and mercy ...
Allowing us intimacy with Him, through Jesus ...
And giving us gifts that fill us to overflowing.

"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God ... "
(Psalm 50:14a)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #458-475)

And linking up with Life in Bloom

Monday, May 28, 2012

Glimpses of God

What we all long to see ~ in our hearts, in our towns, in our land. 
Glimpses of God.

In Exodus, I read these words as the Israelites were putting all the parts of the Tabernacle together - "all was done just as the Lord had commanded". (Exodus 39:7, 21, 26, 29, 31, 32, 43, and more)

And when all was completed, and each part was in place 
(just as the Lord had commanded), 
we read ...
"the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle"
(Exodus 40:35b)

As we long for more glimpses of God today, I know it is still true. We are to follow closely, love, obey, "just as the Lord commands". And we will see Him fill our hearts, our homes, our towns, our land, and our world.

In some places of the world, and also in some places in our hearts - there is chaos instead of peace, despair instead of hope, discord instead of love. Could it be that we are not following closely, listening and obeying "just as the Lord has commanded"?

Thoughts to ponder on as I am reading through His Words ...

(These words written last week as I am continuing in my Bible reading plan - and joining in today with my slightly-adapted-version of Reading the Bible in 90 Days, joining others here and here).

Linking up with Teri Lynne Underwood and at Word Filled Wednesday

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Only Hope

"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered -
how fleeting my life is."
(Psalm 39:4)

"You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath."
(Psalm 39:5)

"And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in You."
(Psalm 39:7)

Remembering, this Memorial Day weekend - my dear mother, my father-in-law, and mother-in-law, and two grandbabies who are with Jesus - and other relatives and friends, as well.

(Photos taken at the beautiful cemetery on a hill overlooking our small town - a favorite spot of ours for peace and quiet moments - and where we went to view the solar eclipse on May 20, during which these photos were taken.)

Linking with Gail at Bless and Be Blessed

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sweet and Beautiful

Not as much time this week for digital scrapbooking - but these two pages were such fun! Sweet, adorable youngest granddaughter - already 2 months old! (Thanks, Carrie, for the photos!) And beautiful, delicious homemade bread! Love how scrapbooking captures beauty, and preserves the memory.

(Credit: First page - Page Template from ABR_SSLOAlb-Ser8, Paper from ea_AoDD2SpringBlogHop; Second page - Page Template from ABR_SSLOAlb-Ser8, Paper from BHA_SwtStrGng)

Linking up with In the Studio

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quiet Moments

Quiet Moments with God can take place anywhere ~ as we're driving, waiting in the doctor's office, in an instant when we connect during the day, and also during intentional, focused, set-apart times.

So thankful for a "corner room" in our home, where I have a place for intentional, focused quiet moments. It hasn't always been this way for me. My quiet moments were found amidst a busy, full home with six children overflowing all the bedrooms in our home. (Those were wonderful days!) And now that they are grown and on their own, I actually have a room now that is set aside for quiet, and for scrapbooking, etc.

But wherever we find ourselves, in whatever season of life we are in ~ we can make time, whether it is for a minute or two, or for an hour or more. This essential connecting with our Maker, the One who has all we need.

This daily time of connecting and of listening will draw us from a distant relationship with God, to a trusting, close relationship. And not only will we ourselves be filled with joy and peace, but those around us will be blessed by this choice that we make.

And so many choices of what these Quiet Moments will look like. They may be filled with worship songs as we drive to work - or the reading of great devotional books like Jesus Calling, or My Utmost for His Highest (I love both of those devotionals, and read them often) - and, also, they will be filled with His Words, recorded for us in the Bible (how absolutely amazing that we are blessed with His Words in written form).

And sometimes God calls us to give concentrated time to focus intentionally on His Words, to read the Bible through from cover to cover in a specific time frame.

Click here to read about a concentrated "90-Day Reading Plan" which a group of women are starting out on this Memorial Day and continuing on with through Labor Day. Reading all of His Words, receiving an overview of all, and filling our minds with His Words this summer. (Click here for a bookmark with the scheduled readings, and here for some helpful tips.)

Even though I am already up to the book of Numbers in my own reading-through-the-Bible, I may adapt this plan, and use it to continue on through the summer, possibly completing my reading-through-the-Bible by Labor Day.

(Sharing these thoughts in case you may be interested in this summer plan, as well.)

Linking up with Denise at Life in Bloom, and Faith Filled Friday

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One Thing

"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." 
(Jesus Calling)

Un-ending lists of things to do - for everyone, and especially for mothers. And the work is never done. So why do I often put too much focus on the lists and the unending tasks? 

"That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life ...
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?"
(Matthew 6:25a, 27)

"And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers 
that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,
He will certainly care for you."
(Matthew 6:30)

Thankful for reminders, calling me to focus on the one thing before me, and the One beside me.

Linking up at Thought Provoking Thursday, and One Beautiful Thing

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bread and Potatoes

Bread - a basic necessity of life. And I don't know why I have let a few months go by since I last made some bread. It is quite easy with the use of the Bosch machine that I inherited from my dear mother.

Using the "Honey Whole Wheat Bread" recipe from Shelley's Breads, I used my WhisperMill to grind up two different kinds of wheat grain (hard red spring wheat, and hard white spring wheat). Each batch of the dough was divided into six sections, and this time I used three of the sections of dough to make three loaves of bread, and used the other three to make three sets of hamburger buns (8 in each set). These hamburger buns are my husband's favorite - both for hamburgers, and also as sandwich buns.

Top left: grinding the wheat grain in the WhisperMill; Top right: hamburger buns ready to bake after rising
Bottom left: dividing the dough after the Bosch machine kneaded it, and after a 20-minute rising
Bottom right: setting the bread loaves in a slightly warm oven to rise for half an hour before baking

It was such a treat to have the aroma of bread baking in our home this past Saturday. And yesterday, the aroma of potatoes (and chicken) on the grill was a treat, as well. I tried a very easy idea for the potatoes - one which we will be repeating, I am sure. I microwaved the potatoes for about four minutes, put them on a generous-sized piece of foil, split them open, cut them up a bit with a fork, and added butter slices, shredded cheddar, and some chopped chives from our garden before I wrapped the foil up tightly. Set on the upper rack of our grill, they took the same amount of time to finish cooking as the barbecued chicken on the main grill rack.

Good food - so delicious, and so beautiful. I could not resist taking some photos, and sharing them here!

Linking up at Tasty Tuesday, and Hearts for Home

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Blessings of Rest

Three weeks of our three months is now history ~ and we are blessed. Truly a gift from God to take three months off after 40 full years of ministry. 

My list of thanks today are a summary of the blessings of this rest so far. Captured in photo. Click here for photos covering week 1. And view below for weeks 2 and 3. And my words - below these digital scrapbook pages.

Thank You, loving Lord, for:

This gift of three months off.
Time for quiet, listening to You.
A change from the busyness of work and tasks.

A time for yard and garden.
Planning and planting of veggie garden.
Of flower pots for patio.

Time spent with family.
A son's help with yard and garden.
Connecting with daughters and grandkids.

Phone calls and email from family not here.
Sweet communication with friends in our church.
And with friends at graduation open houses each weekend.

Plans made for vacation trip in July.
Ideas for digital scrapbooking.
Time for home projects.

Enjoying life with my husband.
Our 40 1/2 years together.
All the blessings that come from You.

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #440-457)

And linking up with Laura at The Wellspring

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Making Progress

Just for fun ~ sharing some more digital scrapbook pages I've put together in the past week or so! One of my projects for our Sabbatical/Time Off is to make some progress with digital scrapbooking. And thanks to some insight I received (in answer to my prayers), I am making great progress now. My thanks to God who cares about all the details of our lives. And thanks to the idea that came to me - to use digital album templates. 

The pages below (from the first week of May), as well as the pages (click here) from our honeymoon (recording photos and memories from nearly 41 years ago!), as well as more pages I have done recently from our 40th Anniversary Trip to Italy ~ all of these pages use digital album templates from Scrap Girls. Such fun for me, and an easier, quick way to put pages together!

Credit:  All digital paper and embellishments from Scrap Girls BHA_SweetStreetGng. And all digital album templates from Scrap Girls ABR_SSLOAlb Ser 5.

Linking up with Inspire Me Monday, and Delightfully Inspiring Thursday

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Dream Come True

It was a dream come true to finally be married to my best friend and my love back in August of 1971 ~ and in recent years, I have dreamt of the day when I would have time to put photos and words together, documenting those early years of our marriage. Last summer I put our wedding photos and memories together in scrapbook form - in time for our 40th Wedding Anniversary - and this month I am blessed with time to continue on with our honeymoon pictures!

What fun it is to have these 40 year old photos, most of them faded and worn, come to life again! I am pleased that they are turning out so well - what a lot of memories they hold!

I have switched to digital scrapbooking since last summer, and I am finding that it is easier for me to take time to scrapbook this way. And with the use of some digital album templates, it is quite easy to put these pages together. The most time-consuming part is the scanning in of the 40 year-old photos, and doing a bit of editing in Photoshop Elements. Printing the pages out at home (in 8x8 inch size) for my album, also gives me the option of adding some traditional paper scrapbook pages (such as the third page in this post), where I could include the actual wedding invitation for Lee & Cheryl's wedding. So blessed and thankful for time to work on this project now.

Credit:  Digital Papers and Embellishments - from Scrap Girls COL_Inspiring, and JRE_Reflections of the Heart.  And album templates - from Scrap Girls ABR_SSLOAlb - Ser 5, and Ser 8.

And ultimate credit to our loving God ~ who clearly brought us together as husband and wife almost 41 years ago ~ and who also has helped me learn enough from Photoshop Elements that I can actually put these pages together!

Linking up at In the Studio

Thursday, May 17, 2012

From Fear to Trust

"And give thanks for everything to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 5:20)

Giving thanks for the good is easy; giving thanks for the hard is difficult. But it is in the hard that we are reminded of our need. Our need of a Savior, a Comforter, and a Helper. And embracing this need is what we are made for. What brings us to freedom. Turning us from fear, to trust.

"Why is the remembering 
and giving thanks the core of the Christ-faith? 
Because remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust -
 to really believe ... 
It's only when you live the prayer of thanksgiving
 that you live the power of trusting God.
 I had never known what the door of eucharisteo might lead me into - 
and all the fears it might lead me out of." 
(Selections from One Thousand Gifts)

Continuing on the journey, remembering - thanking Him for the good, as well as the hard, turning from fear to trust.

Linking up with Laura at Faith Filled Friday

And with Deidra at The Sunday Community

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

English Pea Salad

Salads are so wonderful all year-round, and especially during spring and summer. This English Pea Salad recipe has been in my collection for many years. Over 30 years ago we were invited for dinner by some friends of ours, and Jeanette made this delicious salad as part of the meal. She graciously shared the recipe with me, and I've made it many times since then.

English Pea Salad

1 can English peas, drained
4 hard cooked eggs
3/4 cup chopped cheese
1/2 cup chopped pickles (or you can use some sweet pickle relish instead)
1/2 cup chopped celery (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients except mayonnaise in a medium bowl.
Lightly stir in the mayonnaise.

Serves 6

Linking up at Tasty Tuesday