Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My word for 2015...

It was the middle of June, only half way through the year of JOY, when God gave me my word for 2015.  I had a bit of a struggle embracing it.  It isn't a happy word like joy.  2014, while having its share of challenges, (we live in a sin tainted world after all, and perfection will never be our portion until Jesus returns), was heavy on the JOY scale.  The year began with our second born daughter having completed her first trimester of a miraculous surprise pregnancy.  Mother's Day came and with it the birth of our grandson, five weeks premature, but healthy and perfect.  Summer was an especially surprisingly sweet season for us in our ministry.  Then the year drew to a close with the engagement of our youngest daughter and us happily making wedding plans.  In between these happy highlights were lots of ordinary days, good days, hard days, mundane days, but through them all,  I continued my five year long habit of looking for and recording my blessings.  Through it all, God's abiding joy has been present.

6-12-14 is marked in the margin of my Amplified Bible next to Hebrews 10:35-36. "Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away, and enjoy to the full, what is promised." 
I can still remember the way God spoke these familiar to me words to my heart sitting there in our Thursday night prayer meeting.  They reverberated in my heart and spirit in a whole new way.  They gripped me and wouldn't let me go. 

Then over the course of the next six months, as I read various passages in my devotions,  eleven more verses with the theme of endurance jumped out at me.  Romans 5:3-4 told me that I can be full of joy even in times of hardship, because pressure and affliction produce endurance and endurance develops mature character, approved faith, and tried integrity.  It goes on to say that mature character produces joyful and confident hope.  Do you see the full circle there?  Joy->Endurance->Mature Character->Joyful and confident Hope.  Endurance wasn't just some random new word for the New Year.  Endurance was the next step to complete the joy/hope cycle in my life.  (Hope was my word for the year in 2011, the first time I ever chose a word for the year.)

Romans 8:25 instructed me to hope for what is still unseen by me with patience and perseverance, (endurance).    

Again, through Romans 12:12, I read that joy, hope and steadfast endurance were all connected.  Romans 15:4-5 encouraged me when I read that " our steadfast and patient endurance and the encouragement drawn from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.   Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance, steadfastness, and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus."  At this point I was still struggling to embrace the word endurance.  I was just plain afraid to.  I thought of it as meaning, "just grit your teeth, hold on, and don't let go" until you get through this coming year.  I was even afraid to say that my word for 2015 was endurance or, in this case, write it for all the world to see.  I know the devil can't read our thoughts but he can hear our words, and he must be able to read, since he loves to take God's Word and twist it and pervert it.  I didn't want satan to be able to take the word God had given me and beat me up with it all year long.  Yes, I almost rejected the word God was clearly speaking to me about due to evil foreboding and fear.
But, I knew from Proverbs 15:15 that a decision based on those feelings was not from God.  I also knew that God wouldn't ask me to embrace something that didn't have a blessing from Him in it.  The scriptures in Romans 15 encouraged me because I saw that endurance wasn't something God was expecting me to work up, but something He promised to give me the power and ability to do.  I also loved that He promised to accompany that with encouragement.  Lastly, He connected endurance to living in mutual harmony with each other and in accord with Jesus.  If there's anything I desire, it's for our home and our church to be a place where we live in harmony with each other, and above all, with Jesus.  If endurance was a key to this end result, then how could I say no?

God used 1 Corinthians 13:7 to remind me that endurance is a characteristic of love. Colossians 1:11 promised me that God would invigorate and strengthen me to exercise endurance. Hebrews 6:10-12 encouraged me that God does not overlook my labor in ministry, that He wants me to realize and enjoy the full assurance and development of my hope until the end, and that through patient endurance I will inherit the promises He has for me.  Hebrews 12:1 admonished me to run my race with patient endurance.  James 1:3-4 promised me that the proving of my faith would bring out endurance and that if I let endurance have full play and do a thorough work in me I would be perfectly and fully developed, lacking nothing.  Then again, James 5:11 says that those who endure are blessed/happy and that, in the end, God's purpose is to bless me because He is full of pity and compassion and tenderness and mercy.

As if all of the previous verses weren't enough to convince me that God truly was, undeniably, asking me to embrace the word endurance as my word for 2015, He sealed the deal when He led me to Luke 21:19 on December 27th.  In the Amplified Bible, (All verses quoted in this post are from the Amplified Bible. Photos are of my ESV journaling Bible.), it says, "By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall win the true life of your souls".  This spoke to me in a very real and personal way because the renewing of the mind, (the soul is your mind, will and emotions), is my life message.  It's the subject I most like to preach and teach because embracing the truth of it was so life changing to me personally.  Truelife is the name of our church.  God knows, that for a person with a sensitive spirit and tender heart like me, ministry has not only been a source of deep joy and satisfaction, but of devastating pain and loss.  I have embraced the former and endured the latter for over three decades now.  What has helped me to endure is God's strength and holding tight to the promises He has made to me that I haven't yet seen fulfilled.  This verse was God's way of saying to me, "Don't quit now.  With My help, keep on patiently enduring.  Do my will and you will enjoy to the full what I have promised you."  And so, full of hope and anticipation and overflowing with joy, I fully embrace this word that God so undeniably gave me for 2015.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Homemade Martha Washington Chocolates...

I've had this recipe for Martha Washington chocolates pinned for a long time.
I hope you click on over and pay her a visit. 
She's the sweetest, kindest gal and every recipe of her's that I've tried has been delicious!

I have my Christmas tried and true must make recipes
and then I like to try something new.
This year, these were my something new.
I'm thinking they will become a holiday regular.
Maybe you'd like to make them for your New Years celebration, 
or they'd be a fabulous Valentine treat to make for your someone special!
With the hubs eating a diabetic diet we aren't indulging in a lot of sweets.
But, I like to bake a few cookies and sweets so that I can set out a tray of goodies
 on Christmas Eve and Christmas for the family. 
Then, I package up the rest of the goodies to give away to friends and neighbors.

I must say, though, that I enjoyed a few of these sweet, delicious morsels myself.
They are so good, and fairly easy to make as well!

Here's the recipe:
1 14 oz. package of sweetened flake coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 heaping cups powdered sugar
2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans
1 20 oz. brick of chocolate bark 
( it took more than this for me so I ended up dipping the last few in melted chocolate chips)
Combine the first five ingredients and refrigerate overnight or for several hours.
Spoon out walnut sized pieces of chilled filling and roll into a ball.
Place on parchment paper or waxed paper covered cookie sheet and refrigerate.
Melt chocolate and working in small batches, dip the chocolates, 
leaving the rest in the refrigerator until you're ready for them.
(A couple of shish kebab sticks or toothpicks work well to pick up and dip the chocolates.  
Coat them in the chocolate and then hold them over the container of melted chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off.  Set them on a parchment paper or wax paper covered cookie sheet. )
After the chocolate hardens, store the candies in a covered plastic container in the refrigerator.

I hope you enjoy making and eating these tasty treats!

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Monday, December 29, 2014

A little sprig of green...

(Kim's hughes texture, hardlight, 30% opacity)

If you've never seen the photography of S. Etole you are missing out.
Her photography is stunning.
Her life story is pretty amazing as well.

(Kim's flow texture, lighten, 30% opacity)

Today she posted some lovely photos of fresh juniper.
I could almost smell the lovely scent as I looked at her pictures.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
I hope so.
I decided to photograph this little bottle that normally sits in my kitchen windowsill.
It holds a piece of juniper, gathered on last summer's vacation in central Oregon,
 and a piece of eucalyptus from my Christmas greens.
(PicMonkey flo 30%, Kim's 0703 texture, hardlight, 50% opacity)

I wish I had some fresh juniper to photograph.
The beauty of the silver pitcher and the texture of the basket S. Etole used in her photos
 of the fresh juniper captures all that I love about simple still life.

(Kim's avery texture, overlay, 30% opacity)

I hope you enjoyed this little photo journey
and that you'll take a moment to visit S. Etole and tell her hi from me!

(Kim's savor texture, hardlight, 50% opacity)

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Week gratitude...

It's been a rich and full week.
I'm happily worn out from it all, but full of gratitude and thanks!

Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little green journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-feeling much better today
-getting the house clean after the last few days of neglect due to the flu
-Whitney Houston's Joy to the World playing while I cleaned
-a friend from church stopping by with a Christmas present

-God meeting me right where I am during my devotions
 (by His grace, even after not prioritizing time with Him like I should have the last couple of days)
-baking another batch of cinnamon cranberry bread to give away
-the two oldest grands coming over to help Papa with some yard work 
-oldest granddaughters "perma-grin" when I took her to get a pedicure
-all of the grandkids, (except the seven month old), coming over
for the annual tradition of dipping pretzels in chocolate and white chocolate

-going to Pizza Baron together afterwards

-a slow and lazy Christmas eve morning with the hubs
-God's continuing work in my heart
-visiting with my neighbor after finding out that her husband died on Monday-(prayers for her appreciated)
-going to our oldest daughter's house for Christmas eve

-reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift with our daughter's family and
 singing Silent Night while my son-in-law played the guitar
(lest it sounds too idyllic, the girls were wild, crazy and excited for Christmas!)
-having everything all ready for Christmas and actually getting to bed at a reasonable hour

-Christ the Savior is born!
-the hubs reading our annual blessing for our kids
-everyone liked their gifts
-having my daughter's finance and his parents join us for Christmas dinner
-dinner for 15 went smoothly
-learning a new, fun card game
-after everyone left, taking a nice, relaxing hot bubble bath and watching The Preacher's Wife

-staying at home in my pjs all day puttering around and putting away Christmas decor and decluttering

-my wool blanket from Prince Edward Island from my husband

-the canvas print of the grandkids from my daughters

-my oldest daughter and her family coming over to eat Christmas leftovers and staying for a nice visit

-God's faithful provision
-texting back and forth with my hubs about a scripture God was speaking to me through
-going out together for Vietnamese pho soup when the hubs got home from the office
-falling asleep early for a change

-friends from Hope City coming to our church since they didn't have a service today
-God's presence as we worship Him
-my sister and her hubs stopping by to see me on their way through town

gratefully yours,

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014...

Christmas Eve-Eve the grandkids, minus the seven month old, 
came to our house for the annual night of dipping pretzels in chocolate and white chocolate.

A wonderful, sticky, sweet time was had by all.
Afterwards, we cleaned up and went out for pizza at our favorite old school
 Portland pizza place that has been around since 1965.

Christmas Eve evening we went to our oldest daughter's house 
and enjoyed her homemade chili and jalapeño poppers.  
We loved being there for their Advent reading of Unwrapping the Greatest Gift
 and singing some carols together accompanied by my son-in-law on the guitar.
All was not calm or silent, however.
The girls were full of sugar cookies and excitement for Christmas morning to come!

Christmas morning I asked God to keep me in His peace, as I was still not fully back to normal from last week's bout with the flu, 
and I had pushed myself a bit too hard preparing for the big day.
He heard and answered!
I had the best day.
It was hectic and happy, frantic and fun, busy and beautiful, 
crowded, crazy and Christmas-y perfection!

We were blessed to have all of our children and grandchildren home for Christmas this year.
The day began with everyone arriving and opening their Christmas stockings.
After stockings, my husband read the annual blessing that he writes for our children.
Then we had Christmas breakfast which is always-
sausage balls, (made by my southern son-in-law)
hard boiled eggs
cheese grits
homemade cinnamon cranberry bread toast.
Christmas breakfast is always casual with paper plates, etc.
Fancy table setting is saved for Christmas dinner.

Then comes opening the gifts!

"It's my first Christmas everybody!
Nana and Papa got me lots of fun toys and one boring outfit!"

"I'm only seven months old, but pull myself up to standing already!"

I had my good friend make our three daughters custom made chef's aprons.
I was so happy that they liked them!

Our two oldest daughters gave us professional photos of the grandkids!

Five year old granddaughter got a Melissa and Doug toy horse stable and trailer
 and real leather cowboy boots from us.

Oldest grandson got just what he wanted, a Lego Mini Cooper and a Seahawks shirt!

 Oldest granddaughter's love language is quality time, so she got two small gifts
 and a "golden ticket" for an overnight getaway with Papa and Nana.

Youngest granddaughter got an American Girl "Bitty Baby" that has dark hair and blue eyes
 just like she had when she was a born.

For Christmas dinner we moved furniture and made one long table to hold all 15 of us.
Our youngest daughter got engaged last week, 
so we were especially happy to have her fiancé and his parents join us.

Dinner was-
Potatoes roasted with bacon and leeks, (made by my oldest daughter)
Spinach Salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, feta cheese and balsamic vinegrette
Roasted beets with goat cheese, (made by my oldest daughter)
Homemade dinner rolls, (youngest daughter helped me make those)
and dessert was
Homemade Chocolate Lava Cakes, (youngest daughter helped me make these too)
Homemade Peppermint Ice Cream, (made by my oldest daughter)

Afterwards, my daughter's future in-laws taught us a fun new card game called "Scum".

After the gang all left, I took a nice relaxing bubble bath 
and went to bed and watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, The Preacher's Wife.
And just like that, Christmas 2014 was over...
now onto wedding planning for a May wedding!

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