Saturday, June 29, 2013

Everything We Need {Held Secure}

Eighteen days away from home - first, driving from our state to their state, and then for each of fifteen days we drove back and forth from their condo to the hospital. And now, we are driving back home from their state to our state - and we are filled with thanks for God's strength, presence, and love.

We are exhausted, and we are filled up. We are thankful, and we are tearful. We have been on "holy ground" as we walked together with my dear sweet sis-in-law, and with my loving, caring brother. We have experienced things that we have never experienced before as we walked with them into hospice care, and then as we released our sweet Margy. I need to ponder, and hold the memories of these last days close, and allow God to gently mold and shape my heart to hold more of Him. For more tears can result in more need. Of Him.

The last words that I read to my sis-in-law, and then read again (rephrased in the form of a prayer for her) reveal not only her need, but my need.  

"The Lord is my Shepherd;
I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to His name.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for You are close beside me."

(Psalm 23:1-4)

We are the richer for having walked this path together with those we love. Gaining deeper glimpses into life. And into death. And into His provision of all that we need.

Photo above: beautiful blue (a favorite color of Margy's) hydrangeas near the entrance of the Ohio hospital - framing our place of "holy ground". With a fragrance of sweet Margy.

Linking up with:
Still Saturday
The Sunday Community

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Unending, Forever Love {Held Secure}

In life, in death - these words carry us. Promises of a Forever Love that never ends.

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?
If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Since He did not spare even His own Son
but gave Him up for us all,
won't He also give us everything else?
Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own?
No one - for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself.
Who then will condemn us?
No one - for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us,
and He is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love?
Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity,
or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute,
or in danger, or threatened with death?
(As the Scriptures, say, 'For your sake we are killed every day;
we are being slaughtered like sheep.')
No, despite all these things,
overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow -
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.
No powers in the sky above or in the earth below - 
indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us
from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

(Romans 8:31-39)

Thinking on these words this morning, and again this evening as I read them to my dear, sweet sister-in-law as she is in hospice care, complications in the treatment of leukemia. Promises of a Love that never ends, holding us, carrying us - giving Peace.

(Photo above: a beautiful, peaceful pond 
in the backyard of my brother and sister-in-law's condo.)

Linking up with:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Peace Displacing Worry {Held Secure}

"Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything."
(Philippians 4:6a)

Is it really possible? To not worry about anything - and to pray about everything? Even in the midst of trials? Situations that are filled with unknowns, where we feel completely helpless. Heart-breaking, difficult trials such as the one we are finding ourselves in now as we drive to Ohio to be with a brother (who has Parkinsons), as he helps his wife (suffering from severe complications in the treatment of her leukemia).

"Rest in Me, My child. 
Give your mind a break from planning 
and trying to anticipate what will happen. 
Pray continually, 
asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day." 
(Jesus Calling)

And maybe difficult, heart-breaking trials reveal our deepest needs. Our need of Him. Our complete helplessness on our own - and our desperate need of God. This is where I am as we travel to be a support, and help those we love. 

Our minds and our hearts can so often be filled with worry. Empathy is a strength - drawing us to feel someone's pain, drawing us to walk together with them in their pain. But empathy can also draw us to ... worry. And we find ourselves in need. Needing God to be strong where we are weak. Needing His help to pray, instead of worry. Needing His help to look up and release our concerns into prayers before they bind us up in fear and worry.

"I want to be central in your entire being.
When your focus is firmly on Me,
My Peace displaces fear and worries.
They will encircle you, seeking entrance,
so you must stay alert.
Let trust and thankfulness stand guard,
turning back fear before it can gain a foothold."
(Jesus Calling)

"Now may the Lord of Peace Himself
give you His peace
at all times and in every situation."
(II Thess. 3:16)

Loving Lord, I need You ... I need Your Peace, Your Strength, and Your Love. And this is the place where You want me to be ... in need. Of You. And may those I love find You to be all that they need. Today. Tomorrow. And always.

Click here to read more posts - Held Secure: His Love in Times of Trial.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Trip to Texas (Part 4)

Sharing the 4th post - and 7th digital scrapbook page - of our recent trip to see family in Dallas. Capturing memories, and holding them close ...

I love this last photo which one of our daughter's captured after we had eaten at a Braum's for lunch. The others were moving things around between the vehicles before we loaded up again - and for a brief minute the five little ones were sitting with me along the curb. Such good memories ... so blessed to be grama.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Trip to Texas (Part 3)

We had such a wonderful trip to Dallas over Memorial Day weekend, and I've been capturing the memories with digital scrapbooking. Here's my third post, with three more of my digital scrapbook pages about our trip. 

So thankful we (together with three more daughters, and their six kids!) could make the trip to be with our daughter, her husband, and their four kids! We would have loved to have our two sons along, too, but they couldn't go because of their jobs ...

(Credits for digital scrapbooking pages: Templates - Scrap Girls JSM_dD_pageGrids; Papers - Scrap Girls KME_Butterfly; Frame - Scrap Girls KME_Butterfly.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

In the Kitchen

It has been a little while since I have shared a food-related blog post - and I'll start out again with one about three recent In the Kitchen sessions. Taking time during the past few weeks for these sessions that last a few hours each.

Sweets & Treats

A few days before our trip to TX to visit family, I spent an afternoon In the Kitchen, preparing some sweets and treats, some of which I took along on our trip.

Coconut Cookies
Island Vacation Party Mix
Trail Mix (adding some cashews and peanuts to a purchased Trail Mix)

And also I did some preparatory steps for Southern Crunch Salad (which we served together with other sides when we had a meal of deli chicken while in TX).

Freezer Meals

In another afternoon session, I prepared two different recipes for the freezer. Making multiple recipes of each one; some to take to share with our daughter & family in TX.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Menu Planning

And then, just yesterday, I spent a few hours importing more of my recipes into Plan to Eat, the online menu planning system that I have been using for awhile now. One thing I like about Plan to Eat, is that it is also accessible on my iPhone, enabling me to check recipes even while in the grocery store. I can also check my grocery list from wherever I am. It also gives the option to print out menu plans, either weekly, or monthly.

Our summer is quite full, with various trips and conferences in June and July. So it was fun for me to have a few hours to work on menu planning for the days that we will be home - and I ended up planning menus for the next three months - June, July, and August. As you can see from the printed menu plan for June (in photo above) I am quite flexible with my planning, leaving lots of spots empty. Giving me room for switching things around later, and/or trying out new recipes. Also in photo above, you can see my chart of which Freezer Meals I have on hand - these are great to plug into empty spots on my menu planning chart, as well.

I enjoy planning, so this was fun for me ... and it helps me be more consistent with putting meals on the table. 

What have you been preparing in your kitchen?

Linking up with:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Three Years Old

What started out as a small dream three years ago, is now blooming. 

Three years ago, on May 31, 2010, I published my first post here on Pursuing Heart. I really had no idea of what I was stepping into, but only knew that somehow God was opening up this door for me.

A journaler, and at a stage of life with a bit more time than before to pursue some dreams of mine, I followed the gentle nudges that it seemed that God was impressing on me, and  Pursuing Heart was born.

And it took a bit of courage. I had been used to journaling in quiet for years - recording the daily happenings of life and family, the everyday things that God was teaching me, and also the bigger, deeper lessons of life. And in opening up this blog, with the support of my dear hubby (my biggest encourager of all, who patiently read many of my first posts before I could muster up the courage to hit the "publish" button), and the encouragement of several friends, I began to share these thoughts in the wide open public place of a blog.

It was the right time for the birth, and now ... 
I am celebrating three years!

Looking back, things were a bit different here in May of 2010. There were no photos in my blog header, no photos in my posts. And today I am compelled to use a photo in each and every post. I started out by using photos from some online sources, and now, use photos that I have taken myself. For me, a photo is an integral part of a post, as it draws one into the focus of the post, helping us to feel and process what is being written about. There have been other changes in the format of this blog, as I have learned (and continually am learning) more.

But the main thing has remained the same. The main focus that God impressed on me in the beginning months of writing here, and the main thing that He continues to remind me of - over and over again - is that my focus is to ... listen. To Him. Everyday. Above all else. And as I spend time in His Word, with a surrendered heart, there is no end to what He has for us.

My heart is filled to overflowing with thanks to God for allowing me to share in this place. It is a joy. I had no idea three years ago how much joy would come from blogging. There is no end to the blessings He has for us as we quiet ourselves, and sit at His feet ... listening, and taking from that listening, and sharing, encouraging others. Whether it be through writing, through speaking, through acts of love and service, through the arts or sports or any other avenue - each in our own unique ways ... using our gifts and dreams - all for His glory. And we are filled up, finding what we are made for.

Thanks for following along, for visiting here,
for your words of encouragement. 
An unexpected blessing of blogging - 
the blossoming of friendships online and in real life.
You are a gift to me ...

Looking ahead: continuing on with sharing from my heart as I pursue God and all things related to the heart, family, and home. And maybe something new in the not-too-distant future - I am beginning to feel the gentle nudges to start collecting some of my writings in an eBook. Maybe. Following one step-at-a-time. Listening and following ...

Linking up with:
Soli Deo Gloria
Titus 2sday
Heart and Home
Faith Filled Friday
The Weekend Brew