Friday, August 24, 2012

Life and Death

 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
  a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Hello, dear friends. My heart is full of "stuff" to share with you. Some of you know what my week has been like, and some of you will have no clue at all.

First, I have to tell you - and proclaim it from the rooftops! - GOD IS GOOD. He has plans for all of us. And He works ALL things for His glory, for the good of those who love Him and are called, according to His purposes.

A week ago today, my youngest nephew, Elijah David (right), died. It was a stunning blow for our family; his family had been here a week before! It was my time to meet him. So it was incredibly difficult to think he was gone

But God had gone before us, and given us that time with him. We have wonderful, precious memories of him. And every one of us in my family has thanked God for the time we had with Elijah. No one has asked, "WHY?" I am so blessed to be a part of this family, who all have faith in the One Who holds it *all* in His hands.

Let me tell you about God's timing. On Tuesday, the day that Elijah's temporary, earthly vessel was put into the ground, my other sister had her first baby, Naomi Faith (left, obviously!). My middle sister was so excited for our baby sister; she said she'd be able to remember the 22nd as a day of joy.

It's been a difficult week, full of emotion - but also full of healing, of faith, of blessing, and of love.

And I'm sharing this with you for several reasons. First, because I must. My heart is still hurting, and it helps to talk about it. :) Second, because I know some of you have experienced a loss of some kind, also. And I want you to know that God knows your hurt. He sees the pain you still feel. And He loves you. He wants to help you grieve. Not "get over it", but turn it over to Him and let the grief be what He wants it to be, not become bitterness in your heart.

And third, because pain and loss are part of walking on this Earth. If you've not experienced a close loss yet, you will. And I want to encourage you: love Him now. Let Him grow you now. Experience how BIG God is now - and when something happens, you'll be able to trust His goodness, mercy, grace, and love without trying. You'll know He has plans for you, and that He will work it ALL for good.

Thank you for reading this. :) Thank you for your love, and for your encouragement and support. I am SO blessed to have each one of you in my life. Please continue to pray for our family, as we continue to walk through this loss together. And REJOICE with us, in the birth of Naomi!!!!

And if you need prayer, or to talk, or *anything*, please let me know! Be BLESSED, dear one. You are SO loved by the Father!!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sometimes in our lives....

Hello, dear ones! I know I'm very sporadic over here; I'm sorry, but I'm glad you love me enough to come check once in a while. :)

Tonight, I read Beth Moore's blog, and had to come talk to you. :) Actually, to ask you a couple of questions.

If you're over 39, do you have someone younger than you that you kind of mentor, or encourage, or love on? Do you feel like that's an important thing for you?

If you're under 39, do you have someone in your life who does any of the above for you? Do you wish you had someone to do so, if you don't presently? How do you feel about approaching someone if you'd like that kind of relationship?

The older I get, the more I know how important this kind of relationship is - one that allows us to see someone older's walk, to share ours with them. to gain insight into their understanding of God that can only come with walking with Him.

I'm really blessed; I can look back on my life and see that I've almost always had that kind of person. Sometimes, they didn't have much choice - I was best friends with their son or daughter, I was appointed to them at church, I decided I liked them and they needed me to be around. :D

I'd love to hear what you're doing, what you think, how you FEEL. I'd also love to know where God's got you right now. Are you in a place where you really wish you could just let it all out to someone? Or are you in a place where you want to be His arms for someone, to help a younger person get through some of the - well, I'm going to call them "focus" issues. :D It's all where we place our focus, isn't it?

TALK TO ME. :D I love you! I really, really think this is an important issue, just as Beth does. I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Layers of my Heart

Hello, sweet friends! I hope you're still out there. :) If you keep up with me on Facebook, you know that life continues to be interesting. First, we're planning on living in Oregon six months of the year next year; a lot has to do with our health. God continues to open doors, so we'll see what happens! :) Second, I really feel led to go into counseling - and God's been really, really specific about it. GRIEF counseling. I'm excited, because I want Him to use me in His Body, but at the same time, there's a lot of different options to consider, and it's a bit scary. However, I KNOW if He brings me to it, He'll bring me through it! :D

I just felt led today to say that there are layers of me that no one but God knows. There are things I simply cannot share with another human being; not because I've done horrendous things to someone, but because the sharing of those things would be a breach of trust with someone else. And I will never do that. Still, those hidden layers get heavy sometimes.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am that HE hears me. That HE hears my heart cry out when it feels too heavy. When what I'm going through would be so much easier if I could just TELL someone, I CAN. And then, He whispers, blows through with His Holy Spirit, and dusts me off and puts me back on the path in His ability. Not mine; I know better. And when those times are blowing away, I can't help but tell Him, again and again, how grateful I am that He is capable of more than I'll ever need.

If you're there, I encourage you: tell Him. He is steady. he is capable. Everything else is shifting sand. Especially what you can do in your own ability, my friend. Give it to Him.

I love you! You are SO special. Be BLESSED today, dear one! Know He is holding you in His gentle arms!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Days like today make it SO difficult to think about leaving this place. Some people consider the desert to be Heaven-on-Earth; some the mountains, some the cities. For me, THIS is it. It rained and was foggy early this morning; we really thought it was going to be like that all day, which is wonderful here, too. However, Kenn left to get some more wave photos, and it really turned beautiful. I'm sitting about five feet from the door onto the deck, which has a plexiglass insert so all I see is the floor, the top and side railings, and the ocean.

The tide must be on its way in; the waves are hurrying to get to the rocks and cover them. It's got to be in the mid-50s; the door is wide open, so I can hear each crashing wave, the rollin surf, and feel the little bursts of breeze. There's a possible cloud line out on the horizon, but the sky is blue with whisps of clouds. The water is a dark gray-blue underneath the whitecaps and foam.

What IS it that I love so much about the ocean? I didn't exactly grow up on the ocean - the last I looked, Indiana was landlocked. True, Indiana holds a close second in my heart, but here, where the Pacific Ocean meets the coast of the U.S., is where I feel closest to God, to who I *am*, and to where I feel His presence and peace the most.

It's not that I DO much when I'm in that place of His presence and peace. For the most part, I watch as each wave breaks; they're all so different, so unique. It's not that I see anyone special while I'm here; even Kenn is gone. And it's not like the ocean is peaceful; in my lifetime, I've seen it destroy countries, claim land back to itself, and claim countess lives.

So what is it? I keep trying to figure it out. I do think some of it is that the roar of the waves blocks out all other sounds. I have stupid cat hearing, for those of you who aren't around me much. Sounds bother me. I can hear something two blocks away if I don't have the TV on at home. :) So blocking out the everyday noises certainly allows me to hear God's voice better. So I'm sure some of it's that.

But not all.

We only have one week left in this place. It makes me incredibly sad to know that, but I am SO grateful for the time I've had here. For the absolute beauty God has surrounded me with here. For the photos I've been able to use to capture and share a tiny bit of His wonderful heart.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think there's a wave to video.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Recipe Review: Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Hi, everyone! I'm on the central Oregon coast for another two weeks or so, and I'm having lots of time and company to try out recipes in and on! :D

This cheesecake recipe is one I Pinned, and it came from this blog originally: Mangio da Sola
(That link will take you directly to the recipe!)

First of all, let me just tell you that this house, although it has lots of amenities, doesn't have all my cooking equipment. :D So I'm improvising where I can, and saying, "Oh, well" where I can't. :D

Second, this cheesecake deserves lots of TIME to put it together in. I did it in one day; I HIGHLY recommend giving yourself time throughout two days - none of the steps is a real time-eater, but the time between steps should be increased compared to what I was able to do! :D

With that being said, it is COMPLETELY decadent, and INCREDIBLY rich. The smaller the slices, the better - something I HARDLY ever say about cheesecake! :D It actually worked in my favor to not have everything I needed; I cooked off two mini-cheesecake bowls that were JUST the cheesecake mixture, and discovered a new cheesecake base that will be my go-to for a long time! I also had extra mousse, and put it into two wine glasses - and that was a snack a couple of nights later.

If you like chocolate, you will have lots of it with this cake! Chocolate cookie crust, chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate ganache. Creamy, and really lovely. I asked Kenn's opinion: "I thought it was really good. Good texture, good taste. Lots of chocolate. And...RICH!"

If you're looking for an impressive dessert for a dinner party, and want something that you can do well ahead of time, this is it! If you're looking for a light, healthy dessert to whip together, look somewhere else. :D

If you try it, let me know!!! I'd love to hear your opinion, too! :D BE BLESSED! Look for more recipe reviews - I've done two others in the last two days! :D

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book review: THE SCROLL

Hi, everyone! I was glad to be able to read this book, THE SCROLL, to review!

You can read chapter one by downloading it here; the book is a Biblical archeology novel, and is based on Dr. David Chambers and an elite team who are brought in by a secret group to do specific, secretive, very special digs in and around Jerusalem.

Biblical archeology was a field I contemplated going into when I started college; the main thing that deterred me was the dig conditions - I hate sweating! :D I'm still very interested in the field, so when I got the chance to own and read this book, I jumped at it.

I'm not going to give away any of the plot to you (although you can find an excerpt here!); it's a VERY fast read, and the authors have really developed their characters and setting incredibly well. The intrigue keeps drawing the story forward; the archeological finds are the stuff of Biblical dreams, and the interpersonal dramas swirl around and draw you in deeper.

Here is a link to author Alton L. Gansky's website! And if you click here, you can learn more about Grant R. Jeffrey.

I really enjoyed this book. Although set slightly in the future, everything in the book is easy to believe could happen today. There was only one spot where the information the authors needed to get out to the reader came across as an unlikely dump to characters who would already know the information. (As a side note, I don't recall finding any typos in the book, which is highly refreshing!) If you enjoy a bit of a mystery, history, technology, relationships, and insight into Israel, you won't want to miss this book!

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I got it as an ebook, and it worked beautifully on my Kindle Fire!

Be blessed, dear friends! I'm going to be doing lots of reading this trip! :D

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Getting ready to GO!

It's almost time! We're taking a LONG vacation, going to Oregon for six weeks. But it's been a long six or seven weeks past already....

I got sick for the first time right after Thanksgiving, and I just can't seem to kick this lung/throat combo all the way out. Kenn, as you can see, has also been having a hard time with it. With his asthma, we try not to keep passing it back and forth because of how difficult it is for him. He's still coughing, but I think he's feeling better. He kept his good spirit throughout, for the most part - look at the sparkle in his eyes! He's enjoying my reaction to his new hat. LOL!

Preparation this week has meant getting lesson plans done - and trying to figure out who, exactly, is going to substitute for me! It's been kind of stressful, but I think it's going to be OK. And you know what? I'm still going to get on that plane Saturday! LOL

Please pray for us, for healing, for rest, for traveling mercies, for divine appointments - that whatever He's got for us on this trip, that we'll keep our eyes open for His hand!

I'm planning on blogging from the beach a bit. I can't wait to see MY ocean again, to rest to the rhythm of His heart. :D

Be blessed, dear ones! Know you're in my thoughts and prayers! I appreciate you, so much!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Recipe for You!

Hello, my friends! I'm procrastinating what I should be doing - getting lesson plans together for my sub for while we're on vacation - and posting this recipe. :D It's one of Kenn's absolute favorites, and I want to make sure I can locate it while we're on the beach, so I can make it for him. :) Isn't that a great way to show him some love? (I've already decreed that we'll be eating clam strips at our favorite restaurant for Valentine's Day! :D)

It's a Taste of Home recipe, but I can't find it again online so I can link you. I did change a little of the direction, so now it's OK to call it my own, according to recipe law. Did you know that?

Anyway. :D I hope you try it - let me know what you think!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened 1 cup sugar
2 eggs 1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon* 1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and beat until combined.

Pour half the batter into a greased 13x9 pan. **

In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients; sprinkle half of the topping over batter. Add the remaining batter and topping. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool completely.

* I always at LEAST double the cinnamon. It's really good for you, and we love cinnamon around here!

** When I make this at home, I make it in 2 8" square pans, and double the topping mixture. I usually end up with SOME topping mixture left, but it freezes well! That way, I have a cake for now, and a cake to wrap and freeze for future sweet tooth consumption or company!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hello, dear friends. I hope 2012 finds you trusting even more in His goodness and grace!

I know that many of us are going through trials - whether it be our own or a loved one's health, financial problems, or a prodigal's being away from you and the Lord. But that doesn't give us an excuse to not have a grateful heart!

Here's how I Thessalonians 5:16-18 puts it:

Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always);

Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

This, then, is my challenge for the new year: no matter what happens, no matter what trials may come my way, I will continue to have a heart of gratitude, knowing that I'm His and that He has nothing but good planned for me.

Will you join me in this challenge? :) I'd love to hear from you! I am hoping to do a better job of writing this year; I want to continue to share what God's challenging me with, teaching me, and how He's continue to revealing Himself to me.

Let me know how to pray for you! Kenn and I are leaving on the 21st for five weeks in Oregon; I'm planning on writing some while I'm there!

Be blessed, dear one. Know He loves you more than you could ever imagine. Rest in that!