Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Memories

February is on it's way out - this new year is flying by already. So far, I've been keeping up with my digital scrapbooking of 2013. And here's another spread from Valentine's month, posting it here on the last day of February. Some more photos and words to preserve wonderful memories from the month. We were blessed with an extra special Valentine's month ... times to enjoy family, and relax together as a couple, amidst the busy days of Cru High ministry. 

And March will soon be in the door! The month that leads into the wonderful season of spring! I'm looking forward to all that God has for us this next month - a trip to Florida soon for our annual Cru High Leadership Conference, then a visit from our daughter & grandkids in Dallas, followed by the days of anticipation leading up to Easter

I will be following His leading one step at a time, as to my blogging during this next month. It may need to be a bit sporadic at times, as we travel and then have family here ... and my regular scheduled prayer posts (Heart Connect), and mothering posts (Forever Close), may not be as regular as in January and February. But I will be continuing with them whenever possible. Always thanking Him for the joy of listening, and following, and then the privilege of sharing, and blogging as He leads.

(Credits for digital scrapbook supplies: First page - Page Template: Scrap Girls - JSM-dD-pageGrids02; Background paper: kcroninbarrow - grateful hearts; Second page - Page Template: Scrap Girls - JSM_dD_pageGrids02; Background paper: kcroninbarrow - grateful hearts, and SP Seasonal Sampler - Amore.)

Linking up with:
In the Studio
Grandparents Say It Saturday

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Emptied to be Filled

Sometimes it may seem that the giving up is too difficult. It is easier to hold onto our lives, to seek to be in control, to think that we know best.

These were Simon Peter's first thoughts when Jesus asked him to take his boat out where it was deeper, and he told Jesus that he had already done so, and had caught no fish. But he went on to say, "But if You say so, I'll let the nets down again." (Luke 5:5)

And following Jesus requires just that - to do what He says. Even if it means giving up our own agenda, our own plans, our own expectations.

"Consecration is a complete surrender 
to the lordship of Jesus Christ. 
We relinquish everything to God
 - our time, talent, and treasure ... 
Consecration means we no longer call the shots ... 
His Word is the final Word." 
(Draw the Circle - link on sidebar)

It is maybe our fear that we will lose out on something that keeps us from this total surrender, this total relinquishment. But we have it all backwards when we give in to these fears.

"I know there is a fear 
that if we give more of ourselves to God, 
there will be less of us left, 
but it's the exact opposite. 
It's not until we die to self that we truly come alive. 
The more we give to God,
 the more we have and the more we become."
 (Draw the Circle)

Peter gave up all, and he was filled, to overflowing. And I am continually learning - taking more steps during these 40 days before Easter.

"If we give more of ourselves to God, 
God will give more of Himself to us."
 (Draw the Circle)

(Photo above: A delicious meal along the coast of Maine last summer, in view of fishing boats - blessed beyond measure on our Sabbatical trip to the New England states.)

Linking up with:
Thought Provoking Thursday
Faith Filled Friday
Fellowship Fridays

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Tempura is a special menu that our family has enjoyed together over the years. We don't have it very often; maybe once a year, or less. It is delicious enough to have much more often, but somehow, it has become a tradition to have it sometime over the holidays. This past Christmas was the first time that we served it for our larger Family Christmas Day with most all of our family home.

I've been wanting to try to write the recipe up and share it here - I usually combine a few different recipes from various sources, and want to attempt to write up my version of this delicious meal while it is still fairly fresh in my mind from the past holiday season!


Main Ingredients
2 large boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 pound steak, thinly sliced
4 carrots, cut in thin strips
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced
1 potato, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh green beans
cooking oil

Batter Ingredients
3 cups flour
3 egg yolks
3 cups cold water

Dipping Sauce Ingredients
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons sugar


Mix dipping sauce ingredients together in a small sauce pan. Bring sauce to boil; let cool.
Heat oil (1 1/2 to 2 inches deep) in electric frying pan.
Lightly mix batter ingredients with chopsticks or fork - will be fairly thin, and may be lumpy. 
Dip main ingredients into batter (putting several pieces of similar ingredients together before dipping), and fry a few at a time just a few minutes until golden, turning once while frying. Drain on paper towels.

Serve with rice, with dipping sauce in a small bowl for each place setting.

Yield: approximately 4-6 servings

A fun and delicious meal to enjoy together ... Christmas 2012.

Tempura for a smaller group of four - Christmas 2011.

Note: Tempura is best when served freshly cooked. However, if prepared earlier, it can be reheated right before serving. Put cooked tempura on a cookie sheet or other oven safe pan, and heat in 425 degree oven for about 3 minutes. This high temp and short heating time will help preserve some of the crispness of the tempura.

Linking up with:
The Creative Spark
Your Creative Timeout
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thankful Heart

Looking back over the third week of February - taking time to express my thanks for the little and the big, the joyful and the difficult ...

These words, read one morning, shortly before some difficult news from a family member over the phone ... reminders from God, just in time for when we need them:

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!"
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

And the same day - news of answered prayer from another loved one, so amazing! Full of thanks! And thankful for God holding this mother heart together through tears of joy and tears of sorrow.

Time with these two sweet grandsons one morning, helping their mom out - thankful to be able to spend time with them.

Refreshed by books - reading through Draw the Circle during these days leading up to Easter, and also reading through Multiply with our staff team.

Our Staff Team meeting mid-week - thankful for them and for God at work through Cru High - Omaha.

An afternoon with these two grandkids on a "snow day", helping their mom out - and listening to their happy chatter.

A short, but very wonderful phone call - from a son in Dutch Harbor, Alaska - so thankful to be able to hear from him amidst his fish processing job in the Bering Sea.

Great progress on a baby quilt making project - love how it is turning out.

Time for planning/organizing - something I love to do.

Strength received amidst a very full week, and this reminder ...

"And let us run with endurance
the race God has set before us.
We do this by
keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates 
and perfects our faith."
(Hebrews 12:1b-2)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Each New Day {Heart Connect}

A prayer for each new day ...

"I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources
He will empower you with inner strength
through His Spirit.
Then Christ will make His home in your hearts
as you trust in Him.
Your roots will grow down into God's love
and keep you strong."
(Ephesians 3:16-17)

The first thing each morning - to ask Him. For what He longs to give us, through His Spirit. Inner strength, a sense of God with us, a deep awareness of His love. What we need, and what we are made for. And the supply is unlimited. For every day of our lives.

"God made everything in His world
and in His universe
and in His children's hearts
to center around Him - 
in a wonderful Dance of Joy!
It's the Dance you were born for."
(Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing)

Click here to read previous posts in this series.
Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
The connecting of hearts - our heart to God's, and His to ours. 

Linking up with:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sparkling Cranberry Kiss

A special beverage we enjoyed for a Family Brunch earlier this month ...

Sparking Cranberry Kiss


6 cups cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups orange juice
3 cups ginger ale
ice cubes
orange slices, optional


In a pitcher, combine cranberry and orange juices.
Just before serving, stir in ginger ale; serve over ice.
If desired, serve with orange slices.

Yield:  12 servings

Click here to print from Taste of Home website.

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday

Monday, February 18, 2013

Presence Focused

Sharing a few Instagram photos, keeping up with my thankful posts each Monday. It was great to take time to celebrate Valentine's Day last week with my hubby. A special day, as Valentine's Day also is always our half year anniversary! This year we celebrated 41 1/2 years! We enjoyed a special meal out together, and treated ourselves to several evenings of watching some movies over Netflix (trying it out for free for 30 days). So thankful and blessed to live life together with my sweet hubby.

And I loved reading these words on Valentine's Day morning ... the Greatest Love of all!

The rest of the week held other blessings, as well - a daughter & two grandkids joining us for supper one night while her husband was out of town, love and valentines given and received from them and our other grandkids, a good staff meeting at Scooter's with part of our team, setting up of MailChimp for our future prayer updates, going to a Cub Scout Banquet to watch a grandson receive his awards. And on Saturday, taking time to bake bread - it had been awhile, too long. 

Thankful for His gifts from the past week - and looking forward to a new week. Seeking to live in the present, and focus on His Presence ...

"I am renewing your mind ...
A renewed mind is Presence-focused ...
Seek Me in every moment, every situation ... "
(Jesus Calling)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Greatest Love

So thankful for the Greatest Love of all - 
on Valentine's Day, and every day of the year. 

Reading these words slowly, 
and letting them sink deeply into my soul today - 
the best Valentine's message ever.

(Credits: Frame & Embellishments from Digital Scrapper: KittyDesigns-YouAlone kit)

Linking up with:

Happy Valentine's Day!

So blessed to be loved by this man every day of the year - and wishing him a Happy Valentine's Day on our 41 1/2 year wedding anniversary today! I love you, honey!

(Credits: Page Template, Background Paper & Embellishments: Digital Scrapper's February 2013 Premier kit - Two Hearts by Anita Designs; Fonts: Zaphino, Noteworthy)

Valentine Krispie Hearts

A bouquet of hearts for all the moms who read this post - you are greatly loved today, and always. Always giving away parts of your heart to your children - may your hearts be filled to overflowing today by those who love you.

And sharing with you a fun little Valentine's treat you can make for or with your kids. I made these for my grandkids this year - shared them at a Family Brunch we had together this past Saturday, mailed some off to our grandkids in Texas, had some more last night when a daughter came over with her two little ones, and then sent some home with her to share with friends.

Mix up a Rice Krispie bar recipe, press the mix on wax paper 3/4 inch thick, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut into hearts, carefully insert a lollipop stick (then press firmly and carefully around the stick). Then dip into melted chocolate or vanilla (I used chocolate and vanilla almond bark). Finish off with some Valentine sprinkles. Wrap in little lollipop bags (purchased at a craft store), tie with a twist tie ... and share your love!

Little Valentine treat cups for our grandkids ...

Note: I got this idea from a kit I purchased at Target, complete with everything I needed to make these heart treats. I also purchased extra lollipop sticks, silver twist ties, and lollipop bags to make more with the food ingredients I had on hand at home.

(Credit for banner at top of post: Digital Scrapper February Premier kit - twohearts-Anita.)

Forever Close: The Heart of a Mother

Linking up with:
Hearts 4 Home
I'm Lovin' It
Friday Flair

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Time to Listen {Heart Connect}

Could this be said of you? Could it be said of me?

"He (she) prayed regularly to God."

These words were written of Cornelius in Acts 10:2 (parentheses above, my word). A Roman officer, captain of the Italian Regiment, and a devout, God-fearing man. And one day while he was praying, God spoke and told him to summon a man named Simon Peter. This meeting with Peter changed the course of history, and opened up the way for Gentiles, as well as Jews, to hear the message of Jesus' death and resurrection. 

"You never know when or where 
or how God will invade the routine of your life ... 
God is always preparing us and positioning us for divine appointments. 
And prayer is the way we discern the next move. 
The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God. 
We don't get our marching orders until we get on our knees!"
(Draw the Circle)

And of all the things we can busy ourselves with during a day, prayer is often crowded out. Could it be that this is the most important - to take time to read, listen, and share hearts. Connecting our heart with His - waiting, listening. 

These 40 days leading up to Easter - the perfect time to ask God to deepen our habits of seeking Him, of listening, of opening up our hearts to Him. Click here to read about some great tools to use for these 40 days, recommended by Ann Voskamp. And see the link on my sidebar to read of another tool that I am using - Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge (and from where the quotes in this post have been taken from). 

"Our job is to hear His voice. His job is to establish our steps."
(Draw the Circle)

Click here to read previous posts in this series.

Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer
The connecting of hearts - our heart to God's, and His to ours. 

Linking up with:
Faith Filled Friday

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

If you are looking for a beautiful and delicious coffee cake, here is one to try. I made it for the second time this past week - the perfect "birthday treat" for a daughter at our Family Brunch this last weekend! 

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup raspberry jam

1/2 cup slivered almonds

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup and set aside. To remaining crumbs, add baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the sour cream, egg and almond extract; mix well.

Spread in the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.

For the filling, beat cream cheese, sugar and egg in a small bowl until blended. Pour over batter; spoon raspberry jam on top. Sprinkle with almonds and reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; remove sides from pan. Serve warm or cool. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Yield:  16 servings

This recipe can be made anytime of year, as it uses raspberry jam, and not fresh raspberries. It also freezes very well; the first time I used this recipe, I made two of them in preparation for guests coming, and put both in the freezer. It was a treat to be able to pull them out of the freezer when our guests came (thaw, and serve, warmed up a bit in the microwave). Beautiful, and delicious! And again, this past weekend, I could not resist making two of them - one for our Family Brunch, and one for the freezer for a future special meal.

Click here to print recipe from Taste of Home website.

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
Heart and Home
Trick or Treat Tuesday
The Creative Spark

Monday, February 11, 2013

Presence and Peace

Looking back over the past week ... sharing little nuggets, as recorded in my journal:

"Seek My Face,
 and you will find not only My Presence 
but also My Peace ... 
The most persistent choice you face
 is whether to trust Me or to worry."
 (Jesus Calling)

" ... letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace."  

(from Romans 8:6)

So thankful for another Devo Outing (a few afternoon hours on a weekday when my husband and I set aside our tasks and go to a quiet place to read and listen), on an amazingly beautiful day in February - it got up to 50 degrees! Sitting in our car at DeSoto, reading, thinking, listening - and a walk outdoors ... refreshment for the body and the soul.

And so blessed by this little book - Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson. (Too many notes in my journal to share here - watch for nuggets from this book in future "Heart Connect: Living a Life of Prayer" posts in the future, on Wednesdays.)

Thankful for the special blessing of a birthday lunch with three daughters, celebrating the birthday of daughter Sara - our "winter beauty", with a winter birthday - good food at Noodles & Co., and good conversation together. (And a gift and a handmade card - the first made in PSE 11 - thankful to be learning new things.)

And so blessed and so thankful for a fun Family Brunch on Saturday - good connections with family, honoring Sara with a Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (recipe to be posted tomorrow), and sharing Valentines with our sweet grandkids (with a fun treat I hope to post on Valentine's Day) ...

And more nuggets from my journal, as I listened during the week ...

"If you abide in Me, My Words abide in you, 
you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 
By this My Father is glorified, 
that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
 (John 15:7-8)

"The lifeline, the line of rescue,
 is the line from the soul to God, faith, and power. 
It is a strong line, 
and no soul can be overwhelmed 
who is linked to Me by it. 
Trust, trust, trust. Never be afraid." 
(God Calling)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Close to His Heart {Forever Close}

Oh, the beauty and sweetness of mothering. Of mothering little ones, and grown-up ones. Of so much love given, and much love received. Of seeing life grow, and blossom.

The beautiful role of mothering also calls for the giving away - of our time, of our energy, of parts of our heart. These sweet little ones that God entrusts to us, needing all that we have, and then more. Our days are filled from morning till night meeting needs ... and often, we are brought to the end of ourselves.

"Motherhood turns you inside out. 
Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by how tired you feel;
the days go on and on,
and you want to be a 'good' mom,
but you feel like a failure so much of the time."
(Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe)

And is this unraveling, this feeling of being overwhelmed - possibly part of God's purpose for us, as mothers? To be brought to the end of ourselves? Not once. But over and over again. Each day. Sometimes, each hour? 

Mothering - where we are constantly teaching, guiding, and loving our little ones, and our middle and big ones. And the place where we, ourselves, are in desperate need of more strength, more encouragement, more wisdom, insight, and love than we ever dreamed possible.

A place where God wants us to be - in need. Of Him. Not just one time, but daily, and all through the day. This has certainly been true for me. A mom of six, I longed for a houseful of children. And I wonder - in His blessing us with our six, was I, their mother, the one who needed to be schooled most of all? The number of our children, the personality and character traits of our children, the situations of life that we find ourselves in - all a part of the classroom that we as mothers need to be in. 

And we find that in the giving away, and the needing of Him, that we are right where He longs for us to be. A place where we are drawn to His unending source of Love, of Peace, and of knowing Him. Which is why we were created.

"Yes, everything else is worthless when compared 
with the infinite value 
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." 
(Philippians 3:8a)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Morning, Noon, and Night (Heart Connect)

In this month of love, and roses, and intimacy - taking time to remember First Love. How often we forget, and focus first of all on other things. These other things are often good and beautiful - the love of family and home, and of friends - but First Love comes first. And the love for those around us becomes a natural overflow of the Love within.

For a little over a week now, I have been following God's gentle beckonings, and seeking to slow, and listen more closely amidst the busy moments and days. Taking a 70-day focus (from late January to early April) to purposely listen intently, pausing at various times throughout the day, reading His Words, seeking Him on a deep level. For we live in a noisy world, often drowning out what is most important. There is so much information before us constantly, and all the more so with our laptops, our smart phones - so many voices coming at us. And I want, and need, to listen to the One voice that matters.

Sometimes it takes a purposeful pausing - a morning, noon, and night pausing.

"Morning, noon, and night
I cry out in my distress,
and the Lord hears my voice."
(Psalm 55:17)

Just as Daniel did, even after the king gave the decree that no person was to pray to anyone except to the king - Daniel "prayed three times a day, just as he had always done." (from Daniel 6:10) A focused, deliberate choice each day, to purposely focus on the most important.

"One of the reasons that many people don't feel an intimacy with God is because they don't have a daily rhythm with God; they have a weekly rhythm. Would that work with your spouse or your kids? It doesn't work in God's family either. We need to establish a daily rhythm in order to have a daily relationship with God."  (Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker)

"Search for the Lord and for His strength;
continually seek Him."
(Psalm 105:4)

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

Linking up with:
Wednesday's Word
Walk with Him Wednesdays
Thought Provoking Thursday

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

A friend recently asked me for this recipe, which reminded me that I wanted to post it here on my blog. I made it during the past Christmas season, and it would also be a fun delicious cookie to make this Valentine season, as well.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies


2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package craisins, original
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well.

Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

(Credit: this recipe came from an OceanSpray ad in a Taste of Home magazine - Oct/Nov 2009)

Linking up with:
Tasty Tuesday
I'm Lovin' It

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Little Things

Looking back over another week, the week that January turned into February ...

Thank You, Lord, for all the little blessings, all from You ...

For these meaningful words, shared by a granddaughter on Instagram ...

And these words - "I am with you always ... When My Presence is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place." (Jesus Calling)

Reminders from You throughout the week - to slow down, and to focus on listening to You ... for calling me to this even more during a 70-day period from the end of January through Easter and into the first few days of April. 

For a little break from blogging last week - desiring to keep priorities in place ... 

For our first Devo Outing since right before Christmas - our time away as a couple, each of us listening and learning from You, away from our work and tasks - on a day that was a bit warmer than some, enjoying the beauty of DeSoto Bend ...

"You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in You,
all whose thoughts are fixed on You!"
(Isaiah 26:3)

Beautiful early morning sky one morning last week ...

For helping me with my desire to read more books this calendar year, and for two completed this past week - The Circle Maker (my second time through), and Hidden Art (re-reading an old favorite from the past) ... 

Beautiful words from Romans ...

"We have peace with God 
because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
Christ has brought us into this place
of underserved privilege
where we now stand ... 
So now we can rejoice 
in our wonderful new relationship with God
because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us
friends with God."
(Romans 5:1-2, 11)

More reminders of what is most important in life ...

"Love the Lord your God
with all your heart, 
all your soul,
all your mind,
and all your strength.
The second is equally important:
Love your neighbor as yourself."
(Mark 12:29-31)

Time with these two sweet ones overnight Friday and on Saturday ...

Your perspective to focus on the daily, and the little things of life ...

"Follow Me one step at a time ... 
Keep your mind on the present journey, 
enjoying My Presence. 
Walk by faith, not by sight, 
trusting Me to open up the way before you." 
(Jesus Calling)

For strength, energy, and joy as we cared for two sweet grandkids from Friday noon to Saturday late afternoon - cuddles with our 10-month old Eva, watching her at play, legos, & marshmallow snowman project with 4-year-old Cruz, a "picnic" down in our playroom, and the fun Cruz had as Grampa took him to a nearby dairy farm ...

And then, time to "rest up" on Saturday evening, and Sunday afternoon/evening - 

A special gift of a long phone call with a son in SF - so blessed ...

Thank You, Lord, for the many blessings of the daily - and may I watch for You in the daily moments of this new week ...