Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Heart renovations...

I'm hosting a dinner at our house this weekend for the team of people I went to Nicaragua with.  Wanting things to look nice for this event, today I decided to tackle the jungle of weeds that have infested our flower beds, seemingly fertilized with some kind of natural miracle grow from the winter rains.  I had misguided visions of grandeur, picturing myself getting the flowerbeds in front of the house weeded, mulched, and planted with something lovely from the garden center.  

Before I go any further, maybe I should explain that I've had romantic visions of enjoying gardening for years.  I imagine myself growing English roses laden with blooms, a French potager kitchen garden filled with herbs and salad veggies, a cutting garden of my favorite flowers and plenty of French lavender to enjoy and dry for sachets. There is, unfortunately, a vast chasm between my gardening dreams and my gardening reality.  The reality is, I want to skip to the fun, pretty part of the process.  I want to go to the garden center, bring home some lovely plants, and immediately return home to plant them in perfectly prepared soil. I want the plants to flourish and thrive without having to fuss or baby them.  I want to skip the hard preparation work,  the kind of work I faced today, and the hard work of maintenance it takes for a garden to flourish.

When we moved into our new to us house in September we realized that a lot of the bushes and shrubs were out of control, many of them way too large for where they were planted.  So, we had some of them removed.  As I was weeding the flowerbeds, I discovered that not only were there weeds as thick as ground cover, but there were deep roots left behind from the old shrubs.  After several hours and little progress, I began to wonder how much it would cost to have a professional come in and re-landscape the whole yard.  

Transition is an opportunity for self-discovery.  When we moved into our new to us home six months ago, we began renovation and updating right away.  I love the nesting part of homemaking.  Let me dig right in to the cleaning, organizing, rearranging, and decorating and I'm happy as a clam. However, living in the sawdust and mess and hard work of renovating made me crotchety.  I want a lovely home, I would just prefer to skip the hard, messy, ugly behind the scenes work it takes to get there.

In my own heart and life I'd rather not deal with the ugly, messy, hard work as well.  I'd rather avoid dealing with deep roots of bitterness and unforgiveness, I'd rather not have to diligently pull out the weeds of selfishness that seem to spring up anew every morning.  I'd rather not have to deal with inconvenient and frustrating heart renovations, especially the messy ones that I'd rather just avoid. But, as with our home and yard, there's only so much mess you can disguise by simply adding a bouquet of pretty flowers.  The hard work of pulling roots and weeds out of flowerbeds outside, of replacing flooring and and other renovations and updates inside, is necessary to the long term life and value of the home.  Likewise, being willing to cooperate with God in the hard work of heart renovation is necessary for me to experience the freedom and abundant life God desires for me to have.

One of the mistakes I make in difficult home and garden work that I'd rather not have to do, is I just want to get it over with so I forget the old "slow and steady wins the race" adage.   But, you can't rush heart renovation.  I've often found that it's a layer upon layer process.  For example, God and I work on one layer of roots of unforgiveness or bitterness and I'm doing good and experiencing new levels of freedom.  A few months or a year later, when I'm in Bible study, in prayer, or maybe in the middle of a church service, God shows me another area we need to work on.  To be honest, it's a slow and steady, never ending process.  My heart won't stop being in need of more renovation until the day I see Jesus face to face. By fighting it, trying to avoid it, resisting it, I just delay the inevitable. I have to be continually willing and yielded to what God wants and needs to do within my life and cooperate and work with Him.

I'm resigned to the fact that my flowerbeds won't be lovely before the get together at my house this weekend. Those deep roots and stubborn weeds are going to take time to dig up.  But, if I don't give up, if I persistently keep working at it, if I ask for help with things I'm unable to do on my own. it will get done.  Not giving up, persistence, and humbling myself enough to ask for help if I need it, is good advice for dealing with issues in my inner life, my heart,  as well.

still following,

Darling Downs Diaries

USE this for BLOG

Woman to Woman Ministries

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A-tisket a-tasket a pretty new basket...

(Photo edited with Kim Klassen's touch of-1 texture, hard light, 20% opacity)
Ok, so the lyrics to that song by Ella Fitzgerald are really
"a-tisket a-tasket a brown and yellow basket",
but you can clearly see that my basket may be brown, but it's not yellow.
(Photo edited with Kim Klassen's waterfront-1 texture, multiply mode, 100% opacity)
Over the past few months I've found these new baskets at Ross, 
with a heft and weave that reminds me of the look of a european basket, 
although these were made in Indonesia.
I love baskets for corralling items like throw blankets,
or miscellaneous items, both pretty and useful,
that sit on the counter between my kitchen sink and corner kitchen windows.
Contained in a basket, the items look less like clutter,
and more like a planned grouping.
(Photo edited with Kim Klassen's waterfront-1 texture, lighten, 15% opacity)
Items in this basket include flowers from my husband in an antique French jar,
vegetable and dish brushes made in Germany that were a Christmas gift 
along with some French olive oil soap in antique ironstone,
and a living plant plopped in a 99 cent Ikea container that I spray painted copper
beside a candle in a hobnail glass container from Bath and Body Works.
(Photo edited with Kim Klassen's waterfront-1 texture, hard light, 20% opacity)
The best thing about these baskets, besides how well made they are...
(no texture added)
was the clearance sale price!
(Photo edited with Kim Klassen's waterfront-1 texture, lighten, 10% opacity.)

still following,

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter gratitude...

Today, Easter Sunday, was really encouraging to me personally.  During the worship at church this morning, God spoke something to my heart about the truth that He is the resurrection and the life not just because of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, not just because of the fact that those who know Him will one day receive immortal resurrection bodies, but because He is able to resurrect and bring life into circumstances and situations that I've deemed hopeless.  In the Biblical account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, the situation seemed beyond hopeless, if that's possible.  Lazarus was not only dead, but he'd been dead four days, to the point that his body was beginning to decay and stink.  Yet, Jesus simply said, "Lazarus, come forth!" and Lazarus walked out of that grave whole and well.  Similarly,  Jesus can speak resurrection life into circumstances and situations that stink!  Nothing is impossible for Him!  Now that's something to give thanks for!

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 journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-morning coffee and a sweet quiet time
-His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not end
-fun with our two oldest grandkids, shopping for Easter outfits and going out to our favorite Mexican restaurant

-making Hot Cross Buns with my two youngest granddaughters and their friend
(recipe here)
-taking the girls to Dizzy Castle indoor playground
-way too much bubble bath!
-bedtime stories about when I was a little girl and when their mama was a little girl

-a little shopping trip to find an Easter outfit
-a bargain priced Easter outfit
-going on an evening walk with my husband
-youngest grandson's attachment to his little backpack

-the Bible account of Mary of Bethany's lavish worship of Jesus.  He called it beautiful.
-dinner with my husband before prayer meeting
-a sweet prayer time praying for one another

-having a pre-birthday lunch with my daughter and her family 
-silly youngest grandson saying "nope" every time I asked him for a kiss,
then him running to me and giving me a big hug and huge kiss when we were leaving
-our two oldest grandkids having a sleepover at our house
-painting our nails with my granddaughter

-our firstborn daughter's birthday
-baking rhubarb crisp and dinner rolls to take to Easter dinner
-our painter friend singing along to worship music while he's working on painting the doors and trim at our house
-a sweet wedding ceremony followed by a delicious Hawaiian feast reception
-ending the day with some quiet time

-an encouraging Easter service at our church
-driving to dinner with our son-in-law and oldest grands 
-a wonderful meal and fun afternoon with our family at our youngest daughter's in-law's home

still following,

Saturday, March 26, 2016

As the Scriptures foretold...

When I was in college, one of my favorite subjects was apologetics.  I still love apologetics.  I love that our faith in Christ is a reasonable faith that can be defended reasonably.  Some have said that the Apostle Paul was the first to use apologetics in defense of his faith in Christ.

In apologetics, there are many reasonable defenses for the resurrection of Christ.  For example, if the body of Christ had simply been stolen by his disciples in an attempt to "fake the resurrection"  what happened to all of the precautions such as the sealed tomb and the soldiers guarding the tomb.  Also, what about the grave clothes that were found neatly left behind in the tomb?  What about the over 500 eye witnesses of Jesus who both saw and heard, (and some even ate with!), Jesus after His resurrection. However, it's the evidence in the Bible itself that I want to focus on today. (For this entire post, join me at Woman to Woman Ministries on Easter Sunday where I will be sharing some Sunday Soul Food!)

still following,
Barbie Swihart

Scripture and Snapshot

Also happily linking up with the lovely Lisha Epperson 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Friday Faves...Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

The other day we had our two youngest granddaughters over.
Then, our friend, whom we've hired to paint the trim, molding and doors inside our house,
asked if he could bring his daughter with him to work since it's spring break.
Our grandgirlies are friends with her, so they were very excited.

On a whim, I decided to make Hot Cross Buns with the girls.
I've never made them before, but yeast breads are one of my favorite things to bake,
 so I was pretty confident we could handle it.
Cooking with the kiddos, the buns aren't perfect to look at.
(Actually, I doubt they'd be perfect without the kids' involvement!)
But, they were fun to make, and quite tasty to eat.
They have just the right amount of sweetness to be the perfect Easter breakfast
accompanied by the protein of some of those colored boiled eggs you wonder how to use up.
I enjoyed my Hot Cross Bun with my morning coffee,
but they'd be great with afternoon tea as well.

The design of the cross on the top of the buns, gave me a good opportunity to talk with the girls about
 Good Friday and the fact that Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins.
Then we were able to talk about Easter and the hope that we have because Jesus rose from the dead.
We also sang Hot Cross Buns a dozen or more times throughout the baking process!
You still have time before Easter to gather your children or grandchildren,
don your aprons, and give baking Hot Cross Buns a try.
Even if they don't look perfect, I don't think you'll be disappointed in the taste.

Heat 3/4 cup milk in microwave until very warm to the touch, but not boiling.
Add 2 pkgs. dry yeast, (4 1/2 teaspoons yeast)
Add 1/3 cup sugar
Whisk all of the above and let sit until yeast is "proofed", which means it looks foamy and bubbly.
To this mixture add:
 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 lightly beaten eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix together then add:
3 1/2-4 cups all purpose flour
Combine and knead with the dough hook on your mixer, or by hand, approximately three minutes.
Add 2/3 cup dried currants or raisins and knead to combine.
If dough is too soft add a little more flour when you add the dried currants.
Shape dough into ball.
Place into a large greased or non stick sprayed bowl and turn dough over once.
Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non stick spray and let rise until double in size, 
about 1 1/2 hours.
(This is a good time to let the kiddos watch a movie, play outside, or play a game.)
Punch down the dough and let rest 10 minutes.
Shape into 18-20 round, smooth balls.
( Or, not so smooth if the kiddos are making them.  I may have tried to reshape a few.  Shhh! Don't tell!)
Place on greased baking sheet about an inch or so apart.
With a serrated knife, cut a shallow cross in the top of each bun.
Cover again and let rise until double in size, about 30-45 minutes.
Lightly brush the tops with a lightly beaten egg white.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.
Remove from baking sheet and let cool on a cooling rack.
When cool, using a pastry tube, or a plastic freezer bag with one corner cut off, 
pipe a cross on top of each bun with a glaze made of 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and a wee splash of milk.
(Other options would be to make a glaze with the juice and zest of one orange and powdered sugar,
which would be delicious.  In my case, I had leftover cream cheese frosting in my refrigerator, so I just used that.
It was thicker than a glaze, so it doesn't look as nice, but it was sure yummy!
(Cream Cheese Frosting- 
8 oz. softened cream cheese, 
1 cube of softened butter, 
1 teaspoon vanilla,
 1 lb. powdered sugar
Beat with mixer until smooth and creamy)

still following,


Shabby Art Boutique

Also sharing at the Share It One More Time Link Party

Holy Week reflections...

I'm sure I've read the Biblical accounts of what transpired during Holy Week chronologically in times past.  For some reason, this week it's as if I'm doing so for the first time or as if they are penetrating my mind and heart in a whole new way.  

On Monday I read of how Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers and how He declared that His house is to be a house of prayer.  I'm reminded that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit and that all too often my heart is full of the stuff and nonsense of this world.  I'm reminded of the priority that prayer needs to have in my life.

On Tuesday I read of Jesus' own words about the end times.  These are the words that should most steer our end time theology, in my opinion, the words of the One Who is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the One Who is coming again and Whose reign will be forever and ever.

On Wednesday I read of how Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus, spent her life savings, her alabaster flask of precious perfume, and anointed Jesus with it.  I read of how He called her worship beautiful. I'm reminded that my poured out life, my poured out heart of love and adoration and worship, is  the desire and delight of God's heart.

This morning I read of the events of Maundy Thursday.  I read how the Lord shared the Passover meal with His disciples, the event we know of as the Last Supper.  I read how He washed His disciples' feet, the Lord of glory willing humbling Himself and taking the role of a servant. I read His words that one of His followers would betray Him and His disciples declaring that they would never do that, (yet knowing from the Biblical account that they all forsook Him as He was betrayed, beaten and crucified).  I read how, to conclude their Passover meal they would have sung together Psalm 118, the Hallel, as is the Jewish tradition.  Reading that chapter in light of all Jesus was about to suffer on my behalf was a powerful thing.  Then I read of Jesus' prayer of intercession for us in John 17, and of His struggle, His sweating drops of blood  and His full surrender to the Father's will.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, I will read about and ponder the fullness of all that Christ suffered for me, as He took the punishment for all of my sins, as He was wounded for my transgressions, bruised for my iniquities and whipped for my healing.

Saturday, I will ponder the in-between, and the hopelessness of the disciples as they didn't yet understand yet what God was up to.  I will ponder my own in-between time, the things I'm not seeing the fullness of God's resurrection life in yet.  I will remember that the dark, gloomy in-between times are not the end of the story.

Sunday, I will wake up with the words, "Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!" ringing in my spirit.  I will gladly join with my brothers and sisters at church and celebrate the truth that we serve a LIVING SAVIOR!  I will spend the afternoon with family and friends sharing good food and the joy of knowing that we share a hope that this life is not all there is.  Hallelujah!  Christ is risen, indeed!

still following,

Darling Downs Diaries

USE this for BLOG

Woman to Woman Ministries

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Yellow roses...

I woke up today to the news of the terror attack in Brussels.
My first thoughts were of a friend who is visiting family there.
Texts back and forth confirm she is okay, but there are many whose family and friends are not.
My thoughts and prayers are with them and the people of Brussels.

( All photos edited using Kim Klassen's waterfront1. Lyrics from Yellow Roses by Dolly Parton)

still following,