Sunday, September 30, 2012

Praying Colossians 1:22 - {Heart Connect}

Thank You Lord
for reconciling me to Yourself
through the death of Christ.
For bringing me into Your very presence
and that You see me as holy and blameless,
without a single fault.

These words from Colossians 1:22, paraphrased into a prayer, almost leave me speechless. How can it be that our holy God sees us as holy and blameless? Without even a single fault? All our guilt is gone, and there is no room to condemn ourselves or be hard on ourselves. And so amazing that we can live in intimacy with Him, in His very presence. All because of Jesus ...

How can we even begin to thank You, Lord? 
Please help me to live and walk in this truth today. 

It is such a blessing when I remember to translate His Words into prayers, taking His Words and responding to them with my heart, verbalizing them back to His heart. Trusting what He says, believing His Words, applying them to my own heart, and offering Him my sacrifice of thanks. Paraphrasing them into a prayer - something I want to remember to do more often.

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
Click here to read previous posts on this series.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Taking Our Position - {Heart Connect}

"This is what the Lord says:
Do not be afraid!
Don't be discouraged by this mighty army,
for the battle is not yours, but God's."
(II Chron. 20:15)

When faced with situations and circumstances beyond our control, and even in the everyday trials of life which sometimes can feel like mountains - the position we take is key. It can determine the outcome. Peace or despair. Hope or discouragement.

"But you will not even need to fight.
Take your positions; then stand still
and watch the Lord's victory ...
Do not be afraid or discouraged."
(II Chron. 20:17)

Taking our position of prayer, and dependence on God alone. And even as King Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel were faced with a threatening situation (as recorded in these verses from II Chron. 20), they also began to praise and thank God, while still in their place of need. And the victory came. 

"Give thanks to the Lord;
His faithful love endures forever!"
(II Chron. 20:21)

For it is on our knees, humbly depending on God, that real victory comes.

(Photo above: a favorite place where my husband and I love to go - talking and listening to God, laying our burdens down, expressing our dependence on God, and thanking Him. Needing to be reminded often to take our position.)

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
Click here to read previous posts on this series.

Linking up with:
Work in Progress Wednesday

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Breakfast Wraps {Freezer Fare}

It's always a bit of a challenge to get a nutritious breakfast together. Partly because breakfast happens in the morning when there is usually not a lot of time to prepare food, and partly because often family members eat their breakfast at varying times from each other.

This recipe which I just discovered in the last month, is one that solves both of those challenges. It's one that can be made ahead of time, and kept in the freezer. And it's one that is individually wrapped, and can be heated up one at time, easy to fit into varying morning schedules.

Breakfast Wraps

6 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup diced fully cooked ham
4 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add egg mixture; cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are completely set. Stir in cheese and ham.

Spoon egg mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up. Serve immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze in a resealable plastic bag.

Yield:  4 servings

To use frozen wraps: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove plastic wrap; wrap tortilla in a moist paper towel. Microwave on high for 30-60 seconds or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Note: This is such an easy recipe, and it makes sense to make a bunch at a time, doubling or tripling the recipe. The preferred method of using the frozen wraps is to thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before using, but I've even taken them out in the morning, microwaving them a bit while still in the plastic wrap (with it opened up slightly), and then some more in a paper towel.

Click here to print from the Taste of Home website.

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Heart and Home
Melt in Your Mouth Mondays

Monday, September 24, 2012

Third Week of September

Fall is in the air - I love this time of year! We've had a few days recently that have been a bit cooler, and it's wonderful to get a feel of this new season. The pumpkin spice candle next to my laptop as I type this adds a warmth and aroma of fall - such an inviting, welcoming time of year.

And there is much to thank God for from this past week ...

A fun, productive Freezer Meal Day with two of our daughters was a highlight of the week! Another daughter had planned to come, as well, but something came up so she couldn't make it after all. (Loved spending that time with you, Amy and Sara, and we missed you, Carrie - and also Cristy, in TX!)

Meals in the freezer to use on busy days - Meat Loaf Miniatures, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet & Sour Popcorn Chicken with Rice, Ham & Cheese Quiche, Beans & Franks Bake. Enough of each for five households, plus a few extra dishes = 30 dishes for the freezer.  (And with the Pizza Loaves recipe that Carrie will be preparing at her home to add to this, we'll have made 35 dishes!) And we could not have accomplished any of this without the help of my sweet husband, who helped watch over the grandkids, making it possible for us to spend all that time in the kitchen together. (Thanks, honey!)

Taking a meal to a friend in need, going with my 91 year-old father to his hearing aid appointment, taking time to attend a Vital Signs Pie Social (for the first time after all these years), and celebrating with friends at their little daughter's 1st birthday party.

Finishing up getting our newsletter in the mail, hosting our staff meeting, God's grace and strength through a very full week with events and places to go every week day.

Another weekly Devo Outing with my husband, a high point of our week - this time to Boyer Chute, just a 5-10 minute drive from our home. Last year's major flooding around the Missouri River left quite a few changes, and one of our discoveries has been a peaceful, sandy beach area right along the river. (Click here to see photo in a recent post.)  A perfect spot for some quiet moments in the midst of a busy week.

And I love using Scripture to pray - for myself and also for others - a great prayer for this new week ahead of us.

"We also pray that you will be strengthened
with all His glorious power,
so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.
May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father."
(Colossians 1:11-12a)

(Credits for digital scrapbook page above: Page Template: WZ_SIPP_TemplateD; Paper: SP_HarvestSpice)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #781-794)

Linking up with:
A Holy Experience
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Praying Colossians 1: 11-14 - {Heart Connect}

"We also pray that you will be strengthened
with all His glorious power
so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.

May you be filled with joy,
always thanking the Father.
He has enabled you to share 
in the inheritance that belongs to His people,
who live in the light.

For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness
and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son,
who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins."

Early in the morning, throughout the day - using words directly from Scripture. There is nothing quite as powerful and life-giving as praying Scripture over ourselves, and also over those we love.

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
Click here to read previous posts on this series.

Linking up with:
The Sunday Community
Women in the Word Wednesdays
Word-filled Wednesday

Friday, September 21, 2012

Time for Digital Scrapbooking

I took a few hours one day this past week to do some digital scrapbooking, and one of the pages I finished was this one, from this past July. It was a treat to scrapbook quite a bit during our Sabbatical/Time Off, and I'm continuing to fill in some spots that didn't get done from the summer.

It's been great to use the various page templates that I have collected over the past months. It makes it much faster to create the pages. On this one I did a little moving around of one of the photo frames, added the photos, picked out the digital paper, and then the embellishments. Then added the journaling text. I love doing it all digitally. It also makes it possible to easily share it here, in addition to printing it out for my 8x8 photo album.

Notice the little red sandals that our granddaughter Eva is wearing in the two photos - the same sandals worn by my daughter when she was my little baby girl! (Thanks, Carrie, for sharing these photos with me!)

(Credits - Page template: GIS_Sketch50; Background paper: SG_ANarrative_Paper_STI_BlueGrid; Embellishments: SG_Narrative)

Linking up with:
In the Studio
Saturday Show & Tell
Simple Things Sunday
What's It Wednesday

Thursday, September 20, 2012

First Thoughts

At the start of a new day, from my first waking moments - what are my first thoughts? What are the things that occupy my mind first of all? The thoughts that determine the course of my day.

"Seek to please Me above all else.
Let that goal be your focal point as you go through this day ... 
Without a focal point to guide you,
you can easily lose your way.
That's why it is so important to stay in communication with Me,
living in thankful awareness of My Presence."
(Jesus Calling)

Sometimes I wake up with tasks on my mind, occupied in my own plans; sometimes I wake up filled with worry about a concern - but I desire most of all to wake up with one question on my mind. What do You have for me today - what do You want me to focus on most of all today?

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,
and live righteously,
and He will give you everything you need."
(Matthew 6:33)

Lord, help my first thoughts to be of You, and my first activity of the day be responding to You.

(Photo above: an early morning view this week through a window in our basement exercise/playroom.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First Things First - {Heart Connect}

"When you approach Me in stillness and in trust, 
you are strengthened. 
You need a buffer zone of silence around you
 in order to focus on things that are unseen."  
(Jesus Calling)

To keep our focus and our perspective in this fast-paced world that we live in - we need to pause long enough so that we can really listen. This will look different in the varying seasons of life that we find ourselves in. As busy moms of little ones, it may be a few moments here and there throughout the day, or during the quiet while our babies are sleeping. During other seasons, there may be opportunity for lengthier times of quiet. Always, it involves a deliberate choice.

But we are compelled to pursue whatever our unique God-given temperaments need in order to pause, and really listen to what is on His heart. To listen to His heart, and to respond. To share deeply. To thank and praise. And to pray for what is on our hearts, as we listen to His.

"The world has always seen service for Me to be activity. 
Only those near to Me have seen that a life apart, of prayer, 
may, and does so often, 
accomplish more than all the service man can offer Me." 
(God Calling)

"I rise early, before the sun is up;
I cry out for help,
and put my hope in Your Words."
(Psalm 119:147)

Where is my focus? And in whom do I put my trust? Do I rely on my own efforts, or do I trust in Him alone? Am I so busy with my own activity that I miss out on the most awesome activity of all?

"In the grand scheme of God's story, 
there is a footnote behind every headline. 
The footnote is prayer. 
And if you focus on the footnotes,
 God will write the headlines.
 It's your prayers that change the eternal plotline." 
(The Circle Maker

(Photo above - a special spot just a 5-10 minute drive from our house where my husband and I went yesterday afternoon for some focused time of listening to God, and praying for what is on ours.  A weekly Devo Outing that we started during our Sabbatical this past summer - and one which we are desiring to continue one afternoon each week. Maybe the most important afternoon of our week - continually learning more of what is most important.)

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
Click here to read previous posts on this series.

Linking up with:
Work in Progress Wednesday
Life in Bloom
Thought Provoking Thursday
Faith Filled Friday

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Italian Spaghetti Bake {Freezer Fare}

This recipe fills two 13x9 inch baking dishes - perfect to use one for a meal now, and then another to put in the freezer for another day. Or use both for a meal with guests. This yummy dish has made its appearance on our table for quite a few meals over the years.

Italian Spaghetti Bake

2 packages (one 16 ounces, one 8 ounces) spaghetti
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 package (8 ounces) sliced pepperoni
1 can (8 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained (I use a 4 ounce can)
1 can (3.8 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained (I usually leave these out)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the beef, green pepper and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, and seasonings. Drain spaghetti.

Spoon 1 cup meat sauce into each of two greased 13x9 inch baking dishes. Top each with about 2 1/2 cups spaghetti, 1 1/2 cups meat sauce, and remaining spaghetti and meat sauce. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until heated through.

Bake both dishes, or use one now, and then freeze the other one, unbaked. When using, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and bake as directed.

Yield:  2 casseroles (8-10 servings each)

Click here to print from the Taste of Home website.

NOTE: Click here for a new post with a menu using this recipe as the main dish.

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Heart and Home

Monday, September 17, 2012

Second Week of September

The weeks just fly by - how can it be the middle of September already? The second week of September was almost a blur, as it was filled with many things. There was much going on with ministry and work, and also, there were a number of days of connections with family who live nearby.

Thanking God for His gifts this past week ...

Several days to work on the printing of envelopes for our newsletter mailing.
Various appointments my husband had with new volunteers, and plans for opening of new campuses continuing to develop.
His connecting with a part-time staff member; also I finally had time to prepare a meal for this family as they recently moved into a new home.
Hearing of news of new financial support for both of our part-time staff.

Receiving God's strength in times of busyness throughout the week; and always needing His strength for our weaknesses. Every day.
So thankful for our weekly Devo Outing - this week at DeSoto Bend. Such a valuable time - maybe one of the most important things we do all week? Pulling us away from the busyness of life to really listen and hear from God.

Four days of connections with family who live nearby (see photos above!). And phone calls, emails, or texts from other family members.

A short little visit from 5 year-old Ali one afternoon, as she stayed with us till her mom got home from work. Fun to hear of her kindergarten days - and so sweet to see some artwork that she had made for us in school. Then another day, spending more time with her as I went along to help out while Amy, Levi, and Ali went to a consignment sale. And valuable time connecting with Amy, and listening to Levi's stories and adventures.

Having Carrie, Cruz, and Eva over for supper one evening while Tyler was gone in CA all week - and again another morning, taking care of Cruz and Eva for four hours, giving their mommy a break and some quiet. Memories of helping Cruz dig for worms in the backyard, collecting freshly laid eggs, and always, having Eva's smiles melt my heart.

Publishing five posts this past week - and reading posts from friends. Learning from them as they share authentically. And this quote from Bonnie's post: "The parts of me I usually like to HIDE are the very parts where GOD IS WORKING through my life and my story."

Being reminded every day of God's patient love and faithfulness. Even in the midst of some difficult situations we've been involved in this past week, and also in the midst of threatening world situations going on in recent days.

"For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty Savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
(Zephaniah 3:17)

(Credits for digital scrapbook page: Page template: WZ_SIPP_TemplateC; Background paper and embellishments: mturnidge_mother'slove)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #753-780)

Linking up with:
A Holy Experience
Sharing His Beauty

Friday, September 14, 2012

Full of Sweetness

Always fun to have sweet grandkids over - and then, fun to scrapbook the photos, making the memories last even longer. We are so blessed to have ten grandkids, and it was a treat to have our youngest little one over the beginning of this month for her first overnight stay. Little Eva is just overflowing with sweetness ...

Credits (top scrapbook page): Frame: MRE_SSEmb_WindowPane_2x2; Paper: SG_Narrative_Paper; Embellishments: mturnidge_motherslove.  Credits (bottom scrapbook page): Frame Template: SNU_SSE_SpringClusters; Papers: SG_Narrative, KME_ButterflyFXPaper.

Linking up with:
In the Studio
I'm Lovin' It

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keeping Company - {Heart Connect}

Communication is usually the key. The necessary ingredient in relationship.

This is true with my husband and me. Misunderstandings come up, and life gets a bit too full, and before we know it, we can lose touch, finding ourselves wondering why we feel unrest, a lack of peace, and joy in our relationship.

And when I'm feeling dry, and distant from God, it's usually the missing ingredient. I've either neglected to spend time reading His thoughts, or been too busy to slow my mind and heart to the point where I can really listen and hear when He is saying. And then I find myself not wanting to share my thoughts with Him, thinking instead that I can handle things on my own.

As the level of communication fades, we lose touch. And we lose perspective. The sense of companionship is gone, and we lose our way. It may feel right for awhile, but sooner or later, we find ourselves on a path that is leading us in the opposite direction of where we really long to go.

"Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(from Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

Keeping company with someone we love, a continual dialogue, listening to our Creator, reading His Words, listening to His Spirit within us, bringing our concerns to Him instead of worrying, thanking Him for His gifts - a two-way dialogue. Every day, all day, "without ceasing". (I Thess. 5:17)

There is so much to learn about this precious privilege of prayer, but at the very core is this one thing - relationship, keeping company with. Real heart-to-heart communication; the connecting of hearts that is so essential to oneness.

"In closeness to Me, you are safe.
In the intimacy of My Presence, you are energized.
No matter where you are in the world,
you know you belong when you sense My nearness.
Ever since the Fall, man has experienced
a gaping emptiness that only My Presence can fill.
I designed you for close communication with your Creator."
(Jesus Calling)

Loving Lord, thank You for continually bringing me back to the heart of prayer. For pulling me away from the "to do" list of prayer, and drawing me back to relationship, to First Love.

(Photo above taken on beautiful, restful Cape Cod during our recent trip through the New England states - spending time in close connection with my husband, and with God.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Freezing Rice {Freezer Fare}

Planning ahead and freezing various foods is such a time saver. And freezing cooked rice is definitely something that saves time. I have been doing this for a number of years, and wish I had caught onto this much sooner. I love having portions of cooked rice in the freezer, ready for a variety of dishes that call for rice either as a side dish, or as part of the recipe.

It just makes a lot of sense to make a big batch of rice all at once. My trusted rice cooker that I have been using for many years makes it possible to cook up rice quite easily, but it's a bit difficult (and time consuming) to just cook a small amount at a time. The solution is to cook a big batch at a time, and freeze the extra.

Follow your method of cooking rice (white rice or brown rice) and then divide the extra rice in smaller portions and put in ziploc freezer bags. It's good to pack the rice into the bags while the rice is still warm, as this retains the necessary moisture in the rice. When using the frozen rice, let it thaw, and then reheat in the microwave while still in the bag (opening the bag to let air escape as needed while heating).

Yesterday I cooked up 6 cups of (raw) rice in my rice cooker, and it made enough for our evening meal (plus leftover for another meal for the two of us), plus enough for a meal that I made for friends who recently moved into a new home, and also, enough for four 2-cup bags to put into the freezer for future use. We enjoyed Sweet & Sour Popcorn Chicken over rice for supper last night, gave that same dish to our friends for their evening meal, and have rice on hand for four more meals in the future.

Note: My experience with freezing rice has been with a medium grain rice (pictured in photo at top of post), as this is the type of rice that I use most often now. It is a "sticker" type of rice than the long grain rice, and the type which we prefer, especially when using rice as a side dish. I have read online that the shorter the grain, the better it freezes. Some sources suggest adding a little water to the rice when reheating. This probably would be a good idea when freezing long grain rice. Click here to read Taste of Home's instructions for freezing rice. A few sources suggest adding 1 teaspoon liquid for each cup of rice, while Taste of Home suggests adding 2 tablespoons per cup. (Feel free to let me know in the comments what your experience with freezing long grain rice has been.)

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Heart and Home
Works for Me Wednesday
Saturday Show & Tell
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Life-Giving Flow

On days when I feel dry and empty, I am reminded. To look to the Vine. I cannot muster up strength, love, joy, peace, or any of the things I desire, on my own efforts. My first and primary focus, each day and throughout each day, is to look to the source.

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.
Those who remain in Me, and I in them,
will produce much fruit.
For apart from Me, you can do nothing."
(John 15:5)

The two belong together - the Vine, and the branches. They are to be as one - the Life-giver, and the fruit-bearing branches. 

"The life flow of the Vine is in the branches ... "
(God Calling)

"I am Love and Joy and Peace and Strength and Power and Healing and Humility and Patience and all else you see in Me your Lord ... You do not make yourselves loving and strong and patient and humble. You live with Me, and then My life accomplishes the miracle-change." (God Calling)

Thank You, loving Lord, for capturing my mind and my heart this morning; let Your love and Joy and Peace and all that You are, flow into and through this branch today.

Linking up with:
Soli Deo Gloria
Heart and Home
On Your Heart Tuesdays

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Week of September

Each Monday I post a list of things to be grateful for from the past week - and though it is all sincere, sometimes the doing of it becomes routine. But how can the gift of another day, and another week, be called routine? For each day, each week, and each moment with those we love is all a gift. And I am filled with thanks.

Special gifts from God this past week:

~ Time spent together last weekend with our sweetheart little granddaughter, Eva, (5 1/2 months old) ... how can a little one be filled with so much sweetness? We had such fun with her - what a joy to be "Grama" and "Grampa" to her, (and also to our other nine grandkids). She was such a happy little girl, even smiling up at me when I went to get her up from her naps, and first thing in the morning. Her parents had a great little surprise getaway last weekend, a surprise trip that Tyler planned to celebrate our daughter, Carrie, turning 30! (Three year-old Cruz would have been here, too, but he was having fun at his other grandparents' home last week.)

~ The readings in Jesus Calling - I love these daily readings, and they feed my soul each day that I read them. This past week I read so many things that were just perfect for the day, like this one: "In closeness to Me, you are safe. In the intimacy of My Presence, you are energized. No matter where you are in the world, you know you belong when you sense My nearness."

~ John 8:12b " ... I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." So incredibly thankful for this Light, and that we don't have to live in darkness.

~ Our weekly Devo Outing that my husband and I started during our Sabbatical/Time Off - an afternoon each week where we take our journals, Bible, reading material, and our lawn chairs, and spend extended time with God - this past week at Standing Bear Lake. We found a cool spot right by the water (on a very hot day), and were refreshed and renewed as we read His Words and listened.

~ A very special birthday lunch for Carrie (turning 30 the next day!) on Thursday - Amy, Sara, Lance, and I took her out to eat at Noodles & Company. So very thankful for Carrie (to the left in top photo below) and for the huge blessing she is to our family, and to many. Loved spending this time with four of our six kids!

~ So thankful for how God gives us energy and insight at the perfect time - we've been needing to get another newsletter out for a few weeks now (our first one since before our Sabbatical), and I woke up Friday morning with ideas swirling through my mind, and had an urgency to compose the newsletter before I even had my Quiet time or even ate breakfast. It was completed by the time my husband came from an early morning meeting. After a few changes and additions by my husband, it was ready to be taken to the printer!

~ Time with friends at a staff Prayer & Share time on Wednesday, and then again at a Baby Shower on Saturday. Good times of connection at both of these gatherings - thankful for friendships.

~ And the blessing of friendship with another sweet couple over lunch on Sunday after church - sharing of joys and challenges being in ministry - and of seeing God at work.

~ Watching God bring together volunteers needed for one of our new campus launches for Cru - so incredibly amazing, we can hardly believe it.

~ The powerful teaching from David Platt this morning (via video at our church) - and the Truth of the Gospel shared so clearly. So in awe of what God did for us by sending Jesus as our sacrifice for sin, in our place.

~ The fun of starting up a new post series called "Freezer Fare", and another one, each Wednesday posting on prayer - "Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer".

~ For the gift of God's Presence with us each day, giving strength in our weaknesses, which are many. And thanking Him for weaknesses, which cause us to run to Him. Every day.

~ My list could go on and on from this past week - of some needed shopping/errands accomplished, of a great sale we came across, of a nice long phone call from Cristy in TX, of a fun text from Lance Sunday morning reminding us that one year ago we were in Venice together! And there are more things to list, but time and space are running out ... and a new week is upon us.

"For Your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. 
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds." 
(Psalm 108:4)

(Counting 1000 Gifts in 2012 #717-752)

Linking up with:
Multitudes on Mondays

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Fresh Call - {Heart Connect}

In the midst of our Sabbatical/Time Off, I wondered. There was a stirring in my heart. I asked God if possibly He was drawing me to a deeper understanding and a higher calling to prayer. This is not a new subject for me. But it seems that I go in cycles with the intensity and consistency of my prayers. Sometimes losing sight and sometimes growing lazy.

But there has been a stirring to grow deeper.

And as a part of His answer to these desires of my heart, I "happened" to check my twitter feed at just the right time. And I read a recommendation from a blogger whom I follow - that everyone should read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. I downloaded it onto my new Nook. And my husband did the same on his.

God is using His Words as I am reading through the Bible in a year, and He is also using the encouragement and ideas from this amazing little book. To grow me deeper in the school of prayer. And I will not turn back. In fact, I am inviting you along for the journey, to travel along with me as I am schooled.

I'll be sharing my thoughts here as I continue on this journey of being refreshed in prayer - looking back and drawing, again, from the deep insight gained a few years ago when I went through the study Live a Praying Life - gathering up verses on prayer as I read through His Words - holding close the new insight from The Circle Maker as I read - and mostly, walking closely and listening to His Spirit within. Such a privilege. And also a special privilege to be walking this journey together with my husband, who also is sensing a fresh call to prayer.

"There are higher heights and deeper depths in prayer, 
and God wants to take you there. 
He wants to take you places you have never been before. ...
But if you want God to do something new in your life, 
you can't do the same old thing. 
It will involve more sacrifice, 
but if you are willing to go there, 
you'll realize that you didn't sacrifice anything at all." 
(The Circle Maker)

I hope to post my thoughts here each Wednesday, written in short devotional posts. A fresh call to prayer.

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
Click here to read previous posts on this series.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cheese Enchiladas {Freezer Fare}

This is a new recipe to me in the past few months. Sometimes it's refreshing to fix a meal that is meatless, especially if it is one that is as delicious as this one. We've had this a few times in the past month or so, and will be repeating it in the future. This Cheese Enchiladas dish also freezes well, so is great to prepare ahead of time, thaw in the refrigerator, and bake as directed.

Cheese Enchiladas

2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
16 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Shredded lettuce, sliced ripe olives and additional sour cream, optional.

In a large saucepan, combine the first six ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 4-5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Spoon 2 tablespoons sauce over each tortilla.

In a large bowl, combine the Monterey Jack, 2 cups cheddar cheese, onions, sour cream, parsley, salt and pepper. Place about 1/3 cup down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in two greased 13x9 inch baking dishes**. Pour remaining sauce over top.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake 4-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Garnish with lettuce, olives, and sour cream, if desired.

Yield:  16 servings

** In these photos, I used 4 square pans instead of 2 9x13 pans, using one pan right away, and then putting the other three in the freezer. This dish freezes well; thaw in refrigerator overnight, and bake as suggested.

Click here to print this recipe from the Taste of Home website.

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Tasty Tuesdays
Trick or Treat Tuesday
Hearts 4 Home
I'm Lovin It
Feasting in Fellowship
Friday Flair
Saturday Show & Tell
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Monday, September 3, 2012

New Direction

"Demonstrate your trust in Me by sitting quietly in My Presence ...
When you spend time with Me, I restore your sense of direction.
As you look to Me for guidance, 
I enable you to do less but accomplish more."
(Jesus Calling)

A holiday weekend, opening up a new month - one of my favorite months of the year, where the heat of summer begins to blend into the cooler, refreshing days of autumn. 

Thanking God for the memories of the season behind ...

The incredible gift of three months off
Celebrating 40 years of ministry
Relaxing days together, our "empty nest"
A change of pace
Times to be refreshed in body and soul

The precious gift of family
Backyard barbecues
Visits from our grown kids
Grandkids on the trampoline
Help with our veggie garden and yard

An amazing two-week trip to the New England states and into Canada
The Sea Urchin cottage on Campobello Island in New Brunswick
Beautiful hydrangeas in bloom by the peaceful Westport MA cottage
Fresh lobster meal at my brother and sister-in-law's home in NY
Photos to capture memories and hold close

Our return to work/ministry August 1st - and a new name "Cru"
Staff meetings filling the month 
Continuing with our Devo Outings as a couple
Watching God opening up new schools to Cru this fall
Being refreshed and motived in prayer

And thanking Him as we look ahead ...

Falling into the routine of another school year of ministry
Invigorated and refreshed by our Sabbatical/Time Off
A fresh call to prayer
And a renewed sense of God at work
Purposing to trust and follow, and rest

Another season of the blessing of family
Holidays to come
Delicious foods cooking
Warm memories made around the table
Desiring and trusting to deepen connections

All of God's promises - never changing
The greatest privilege of spending time, listening
Our place of safety, our source of strength
The Giver of peace, of direction
Always with us

"But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit."
(Jeremiah 17:7-8)

(Continuing the counting of 1000 Gifts in 2012 #682-716)

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