Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Time to Refresh

Blessed with a Sabbatical/Time Off this summer - now almost two-thirds of the way through! I have enjoyed keeping up here on my blog during this time so far, but will now be pushing the pause button for a few weeks. Taking time to refresh, and travel with my husband - enjoying beautiful sights, listening, reading, and taking a break from the normal routines of life.

I may pop back in here again from time to time in the next few weeks, but mostly I will be missing here. Thanking God for the joys of blogging, thanking Him for times to be refreshed, and thanking Him for the love of family and friends who come by this blog.  See you sometime in July!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Father's Day Memories

We had a quiet Father's Day last weekend with my 91 year-old father over for part of the day - and are looking forward to celebrating again this coming weekend when our house will be filled with family.

Thankful for photos, capturing memories - and thankful for digital scrapbooking which captures the memories and the photos together.

Linking up at:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Blueberries were a great price at Sam's last week - and it was the perfect time to make a large batch of Blueberry Streusel Muffins this past Saturday. A good feeling to put 4 1/2 dozen muffins in the freezer to use this coming weekend when family is home from Texas, and in the coming months. Blueberries and summer - they fit together well.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg, beaten
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1 /2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine

In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add egg; mix well. Combine flour,  baking powder, and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla. Fold in blueberries. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

Yield: 1 dozen

Note: I multiplied this recipe by four to yield the muffins in the photos, and also substituted part of the sugar with fructose, and part of the flour with whole wheat flour.

(Credit: Click here to view and print this Taste of Home recipe.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Live Surprised

"Perhaps there is no way to discover joy but as surprise ... 
The humble live surprised. 
The humble live by joy. 
The humble are the laid-low and bowed ones,
 the surprised ones with hands open to receive whatever He gives ..."
(Selections from One Thousand Gifts)

It seems that God has been drawing me to think on this word recently - humility. The opposite of pride. And so often the pride is what is evident in my life, much more than the humility. It is so easy to live our moments thinking that we deserve good to happen. And we grumble when the difficult happens.

How much better it is to live surprised. To humble ourselves, realizing that in ourselves we do not deserve anything, and therefore, everything is a gift. To live totally trusting our Maker, with open hands to receive whatever He gives. Because He gives only what is good. Only what will draw our hearts closer to Him, and will ultimately bring us, joy.

"Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I am full of His love. I can trust. I can let go. Surrender that gives thanks for what is given - this joy!" (Selections from One Thousand Gifts)

"Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and He will lift you up in honor."
(James 4:10 NLT)

"Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love, and whisper surprised thanks." (Selections from One Thousand Gifts)

(Most of what I write about here on this blog comes from what God is teaching me - what I am needing to learn myself. Desiring and needing to learn more - of humility.)

Linking up at:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fruit Kabobs

Take some grapes, strawberries, and cubed cheese - string them on a kabob stick - and you have a fun, refreshing taste of summer. I've made these fruit kabobs twice in the past month or so, and they are a treat each time.

The first time I prepared these kabobs, I used the longer wooden skewers, and this last time (as seen in photo), I found some shorter length ones at Factory Card Outlet. A fun addition to a summer meal, or also a great addition to a snack/appetizer spread.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Celebrating 15 Years

We can never forget 15 years ago, when our daughter, Sara, went through a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. She had been diagnosed with ALL leukemia the year before, just three months before graduating from high school. And then a year later needed to have a bone marrow transplant after a relapse. And this summer marks her 15 year anniversary for recovery! 

How amazing that the Washington County Relay for Life was held this year (for the first time) on the track field of the high school that she graduated from. And also so thankful that this year we were able to take part in the relay - usually we are gone at a SV student conference in Colorado this time of year, but this summer we are in the midst of our Sabbatical/Time Off.

Our hearts are filled with overflowing thanks to God ...

For the miracle of healing for Sara
Carrying her through her initial chemo treatment time in the months before her graduation
Graciously providing us with the perfect match for Sara's bone marrow transplant a year later
Each of our other five children so willingly going through the testing to find a match
And Carrie giving of her bone marrow without complaint, for her older sister

Family and friends who carried us through those weeks and months with their love and prayers
Material help in many ways - funds raised, meals brought over, housecleaning done
Love and care showered on us, tangible touches of God's love

The precious gift of Sara
Loving daughter, wife, and mom of two
Passing on care to others as a social worker at a nearby hospital

God's gracious mercy and love holding us through the difficult times of life
Healer of bodies, restorer of relationships, giver of all that is good
And worthy of all our love and devotion

And memories brought back, participating in the Relay for Life
Walking the caregiver lap
Sara walking the survivor lap
The white rose of thanks she gave to me - her survivor rose

Friends from high school days
Special t-shirts they made
Their gift of friendship for Sara through the years

The luminary bags lining the track field
Each with a name - honoring, remembering
Pausing in the busyness of life
Remembering, celebrating, and giving thanks

"God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in time of trouble."
(Psalm 46:1)

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High."
(Psalm 92:1)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #520-544)

Linking up at:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Walking and Resting

"Walk in My Way, and trust Me. No evil can touch you. I am yours as truly as you are Mine. Rest in that truth. Rest, that is, cease all struggle. Gain a calm, strong confidence in that certainty. Do not only rest in Me when the world's struggles prove too much and too many for you to bear or face alone. Rest in Me when you need perfect understanding, when you need the consciousness of tender, loving friendship ... "  (God Calling)

Something my husband and I are loving to do during our Sabbatical/Time Off - driving to some beautiful spots nearby to read, rest, listen, and connect in a deep way with God. A beautiful gift. A time to soak in His love, and be refreshed in body and spirit. A time to think on all that is good and beautiful.

And also, everyday - as life goes by and there are so many things to concern our days and so many family and friends to occupy our hearts and our prayers ... it is even more essential for me to stop and pause my work/activity - pausing throughout the day to read, rest, listen and connect on a deep level. And I always gain perspective, and find rest.

"O God, You are my God;
I earnestly search for You.
My soul thirsts for You;
my whole body longs for You
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen You in Your sanctuary
and gazed upon Your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself'
how I praise You."
(Psalm 63:1-3)

(Photo above: our most recent time of rest and refreshment at nearby Lake Cunningham.)

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

From a Seed

It started with a seed of a thought - thinking that maybe we should have a veggie garden again this year (after a break of a number of years). But it would be small, a very small raised garden bed. But the idea grew, with input and encouragement from a son - why not make it a bit bigger than we planned? And then our thoughts grew it even larger, into a 10x30 foot area on a level area in our yard up by a row of pine trees. 

We bordered the 10x30 garden area with cedar 4x4s, to set it off from the rest of the yard. Our son came out to help as we tilled, prepared, and planted. And it is growing into something beautiful.

All a gift for us to enjoy. Taking the small seed of an idea, watering it, and watching the beauty blossom before our eyes. Reminding me to give thanks for the small and the seemingly insignificant, for you never know what will come from it.

"... gratitude for the seemingly small and insignificant -
 this is the seed that plants the giant miracle in the midst of it all." 
(From Selections from One Thousand Gifts)

Overflowing with thanks for His unending gifts to us. Little daily gifts, and gifts that surprise us and last through the season. Overwhelming us with beauty ... gifts that grow right before our eyes.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Our Sixth Week

Thanking God for His many gifts to us - finishing up the sixth week of our Sabbatical/Time Off - all a gift. How can we so blessed to have these three months off, celebrating the privilege of being in ministry for 40 years, and pausing to rest and reflect before we continue on ...

Thankful for so many things ...

Strength and endurance to tackle a much-needed home project last Monday - cleaning out our garage (we tackled it with determination to get rid of a lot of junk that has just been sitting around unused - such a good feeling to clean it up so thoroughly).

Our wonderful, refreshing Devo/Prayer Outing the next day to beautiful Chalco Hills Recreation Area - we loved this spot, and want to go back again - was such a refreshing time for both of us.

These familiar verses - in a different translation, bringing depth of meaning:

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
So don't try to get out of anything prematurely.
Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
(James 1:2-3 MSG)

And so thankful for family and friends ...

A day filled with family last Thursday

More progress with yard work and garden - thankful for a son's help

Time with a daughter and a three year-old grandson and his baby sister

Bread made together - bread, plus 80 hamburger buns (for our freezers, to use on summer days)

Nine year-old grandson and four year-old granddaughter here for a few hours

These wonderful days of Sabbatical/Time Off with my husband

Gateway to the West parade in nearby town - watching with friends

High school reunion for my husband's class of 1962 (graduating 50 years ago - unbelievable - and we continue to be in full-time ministry - to high school students!)

Visiting with good friends at our church picnic

Words of thanks from a friend

And so blessed each day, with the closest of Friends

"The way of the soul's transformation is the 
Way of Divine companionship.
Not so much the asking Me to make you this or that
but the living with Me, thinking of Me, talking to Me -
thus you grow like Me."
(God Calling)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #506-519)

(Digital Scrapbooking Credits: Page Template - Scrap Girls ABR_SSLOAlb-Ser 8, Frame Template - Scrap Girls MRE_WindowPane, Paper & Embellishments - Scrap Girls JRE_Reflections of the Heart)

Linking up at:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

In Process

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, 
when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
You know that under pressure, 
your faith-life is forced into the open and shines its true colors.
So don't try to get out of anything prematurely.
Let it do its work, 
so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
(James 1:2-3 The Message)

It's so easy to try to squirm out of our troubles, for no one likes to go through hard times. But patience is needed for real growth that lasts. And I need to be reminded of this, continually ... for there is much more going on than we can see with our eyes.

"This life is not for the body, it is for the soul, and man too often chooses the way of life that best suits the body, not the way that best suits the soul. ... Try, each of you, to picture your soul as a third being trained by us - by you and Me - and then you will share, and rejoice in sharing, in the discipline and training." (God Calling)

Linking up at:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekend Happenings

A little peak into some special happenings from the past weekend - thankful for times as a couple, and also for times to connect with our family! And also, thankful that I am making great progress with my digital scrapbooking - and am loving it!

(Credit: Album page template from Scrap Girls ABR_SSLOAlb-Ser5, and Paper and Embellishments from Scrap Girls JRE_Reflections of the Heart)

Linking up with In the Studio, Friday Favorite Things

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pizza English Muffins

Just tried out this recipe for supper tonight - and it is definitely a "keeper"! It went perfectly with our salad of freshly picked spinach, lettuce, and radishes from our garden (and tomatoes and cucumbers from the store). An easy recipe, and one which will freeze well - looking forward to making more in the future.

Pizza English Muffins

1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 pound bulk pork sausage (I used 1 pound)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato paste (I used the whole 6 oz can)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 packages (12 oz each) English muffins, split
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook the beef, sausage and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic salt, oregano and cayenne. Spread over the cut side of each English muffin. Place on baking sheets. Combine the cheeses; sprinkle over meat mixture.

Freeze for up to 3 months or bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Yield:  3 dozen

To use frozen Pizza English Muffins: Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Credit: This recipe came from a Taste of Home magazine. Click here for the recipe.

Linking up with Delightfully Inspiring Thursday, and I'm Lovin' It!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Prize of Following

"If any of you wants to be My follower,
you must turn from your selfish ways, 
take up your cross daily, and follow Me.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for My sake,
you will save it."
(Luke 9:23-24)

There is a cost to discipleship, to following Jesus. But it's not the giving up that matters; it's the gaining.

As our pastor explained so clearly yesterday, it's not about the things that we get from our following. It's about Who we gain - Jesus. Intimacy with the Lover and Maker of our souls. In this life filled with trouble and trials, walking with One who gives peace, and rest.

The prize is worth it all.

So thankful for Jesus, our prize - and desiring to follow. And thanking Him for the journey ...

Quiet moments at beautiful Walnut Grove Park (photo above)
One month into our three-month Sabbatical/Time Off
An incredible gift from Him

His Words that speak truth
And give life
Reminders to listen deeply, and to trust

Being immersed in these Words
Reading (my adapted plan) of the Bible in 90 Days this summer
How can we be so blessed to read His story, in detail, recorded for us

And thanking Him for special gifts this past week
Times with family
Lunch with a son on his birthday
Eating out together with family - a gift from my 91 year-old father
A relaxing Memorial Day with my husband exploring some local family history places
Taking care of sweet 2 month-old granddaughter
Our time at Taste of Omaha together on a beautiful day
Phone call with son in San Francisco
Special lunch together with friends after church
Celebrating two years of blogging here
Courage and strength to go through with a routine medical test that I had put off
And finding that all is well from the test
My husband, patient with me through my concerns
Stopping on our way home to purchase a new devotional I've been wanting (God Calling)
Sorrows and heartaches that pull us to run to Him, drawing us to His heart

Anticipation of all that He has for us as we continue with our Sabbatical/Time Off
Lodging lined up for our trip to New Brunswick and the New England states
Extra nights given to us for no charge - unexpected blessings

Thanking Him for the greatest Prize
As we give up, and follow - we receive Him

"You are willing to drink the cup that I drink of -
the wine of sorrow and disappointment ...
The self, the original man, shrivels up and dies
and upon the soul becomes stamped My image."
(God Calling)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #476-505)

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Finest Food

"Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink - even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk - it's all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to Me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
Come to Me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life."
(Isaiah 55:1-3a)

Reminded again these past few days of my "word of the year" - listen. Something I am continually asking God to develop in me. A heart to really listen - to Him, first of all. And also to those I love the most, and to others around me. So much can be learned if we just slow down, pause, and really listen

I want to learn more, just as Mary did - by taking time, and listening.

"There is only one thing worthy of being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it,
and it will not be taken away from her."
(Luke 10:42)

(Photo above taken on our 40th Anniversary Trip to beautiful Italy - a wonderful gift.)

Linking up at Faith Filled FridayFriday Favorite Things, and The Sunday Community, Playdates with God