dock on lake in fog near Algonquin Park

Finding True Rest

dock on lake in fog near Algonquin Park

As I sit in front of my computer contemplating the meaning of rest, I realize and have to admit that I really need it. I was so excited to find a new place to link-up and share this morning with a wonderful group of bloggers (hosted by Kate at Heading Home).

I proceeded to spend a little quiet time reflecting while I went out into the beautiful new-summer weather to water my plants and feed my little hummingbirds. Then I came in and attempted to do something technical, and after what seems like way too long, I am feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. I am frustrated that I have so much trouble with technical things, and overwhelmed because my day is quickly going by and I feel behind.

Am I the only one who has days or moments like this?

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 – Matthew 11:29 (NLT)

How appropriate to write about the word “rest” today! And I find it even more timely to be given the opportunity and the challenge of writing for five minutes without editing. For this recovering perfectionist, that’s big. And it begins to speak to me of what rest is really all about.

What is true rest, and why is it such a struggle to find it in our modern lives?

I know that for myself, rest is primarily about two things, which are intricately related. It’s about my relationship with God my father, first and foremost, and secondly, it’s about caring for myself.

In order to experience true rest, I need to stop and do just that…..rest.

My first priority is to spend time with the One who knows and loves me, because he created me. I need to take time to listen for his still, small voice and read the Letter he left for me. The Bible is truly the personal road map for my life.

When we spend with Christ, both talking and listening to him, we will find true rest for our souls in his quiet presence.

I also believe that in a practical sense, we also need to give ourselves permission to rest. No; we need to make sure we prioritize rest. Especially as women, we have a natural tendency to take care of everyone and everything, and while this is a God-given gift, it can easily become an overwhelming responsibility.

The need for sleep, quietness and time alone, time with people who love and encourage us, doing something creative, taking care of our health, and sometimes getting away from it all, is something we cannot take too lightly. Even our Creator set the example to take time to rest.

In truly resting, we will find our true selves, our purpose, and the motivation and energy to live a life of purpose that glorifies God.

Lord, help me to trust you and find rest.

*****

I’m linking up today (for the first time), with a wonderful group of bloggers on Five Minute Fridays. Please join me here and see what some others have to say about today’s word of the week.

 


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fruit tart with candle

50 Things I’m Thankful For On My 50th Birthday

fruit tart with candle

My 50th birthday “cake”.

Well, this week marks an important date in history…..

Half a century ago, a wonderful little girl was born…..me!!! 😉

It’s never really bothered me too much to get older.

Thirty was absolutely no problem!

At forty, I still wasn’t bothered, but I did note that it felt weird to remember clearly when my mother turned the same age.

But FIFTY???

 

50 Years Well Lived

*****THE BIG 5 – 0 !!!*****

 

 

I’ve been thinking of how to celebrate this momentous occasion for awhile now.  My husband turned fifty this past January, so it’s already been on my mind for some time. These are some of the options I decided against:

  1. Crying and flipping out over being a half century old.
  2. Drowning my sorrows in fifty pounds of cake and ice-cream (although that one was tempting; and I will indulge in at least a little!)
  3. Attempting to blow out fifty birthday candles on my cake (before someone calls the fire department).
  4. Running away from home (to “find” myself).
  5. Doing fifty push-ups (although my Pilates workouts have helped me get closer to this one; OK, not close, but at least I can do a few now), or running fifty miles.

After all that contemplating, I decided that the best way to celebrate fifty years of life is ….. to CELEBRATE!

And what better way to celebrate than to think about the things for which I am thankful?

So for my 50th birthday, here are “a few” things I’m thankful for (some serious; some silly), in no particular order.

 

50 Things I’m Thankful For On my 50th Birthday:

  1. my good life
  2. health & wellness
  3. hot coffee in the morning (here’s my favourite; see point # 48)
  4. the warmth and light of summer
  5. a wonderful, faithful, loving, fun, handy husband
  6. my thoughtful and clever oldest son
  7. my sensitive and creative youngest son
  8. our cute and slightly mischievous cat, Chester
  9. our skittish but affectionate cat, Buster
  10. a very nice home
  11. my godly and creative mother
  12. my silly but wise father
  13. a sister who is a best friend (& her dear family)
  14. a grand-mother who is healthy for her age of 98, who is the remaining one of two great-grandmothers that my sons have had the privilege to know
  15. precious memories of years with my other grandmother (who passed away this past summer at the age of 93)
  16. two very different, yet equally special grandfathers (who have both left this life many years ago)
  17. ice-cream (a single food that solves so many of life’s problems!)
  18. growing up on two acres in the country
  19. a physically demanding, yet therapeutic summer job (on the farm)
  20. picking up our fresh farm shares from June to October (CSA)
  21. pleasant surprises in the mail
  22. cold-brewed iced coffee (the other temperature for my favorite drink)
  23. watching sci-fi movies, old television series, and Lord of the Rings with our sons
  24. having experienced the best homemade dill pickles and fruit pies (in the whole world; and I’m not biased!), made by my grandmother
  25. the grace of God (and mercies that are new every morning!)
  26. living beside grandparents for the first part of my life
  27. planting my new plants and herbs
  28. enjoying the hummingbirds who come to eat and visit our home in the warm weather
  29. a thriving, exciting, friendly, balanced, fun church
  30. the opportunity to minister on our worship team (at church)
  31. my online Pilates instructor (Robin Long of The Balanced Life), workouts, and community (the Sisterhood)
  32. Jesus’ incomparable gift of forgiveness and eternal life
  33. extended family who love and serve God and love each other
  34. Downton Abbey (first tv show I watched just for me)
  35. the opportunity to attend Bible college at Elim Bible Institute
  36. having a good relationship my aunts, uncles and cousins
  37. the Bible (my road-map for life) – here‘s a nice one 🙂
  38. my girlfriends (you know who you are!)
  39. doing something creative
  40. USA – a great country in which to live and have my family <3
  41. photography, photos, and scrapbooking
  42. sitting in the warm sun on my front porch watching nature (with a coffee)
  43. my long, quiet dead-end street
  44. nice neighbors
  45. connecting with friends and loved ones on Facebook
  46. relaxing with a good novel
  47. the changing of the seasons
  48. the opportunity to be born in Canada, but living in New England
  49. baking and eating it
  50. fruit tarts (better than cake!)

50th birthday (from Jon)

I hope you enjoyed my list and found it at least a little inspiring or entertaining.

Now I’m off for some leftover Chinese food and a nice piece of fruit tart. 🙂

*****

 

 

 

 

 

poached egg sandwich and coffee

How to Eat an Egg Part 2 – Poached Egg Sandwich

poached egg sandwich and coffee

 

It’s been awhile since I talked about eggs. Earlier I shared with you  an egg recipe for Potato and Onion Pie that I like to make for my family. I think it’s about time for another.

Since it is finally really, really feeling like spring (or even summer in some cases!), and I think we’re safe even in New England (and New York State?), from any more late snowstorm surprises, I’ve decided it’s a good time to give you another egg recipe.

I know, we get eggs year round, but in spring it just feels right. The chickens are finally able to come out of their coop and poke around in the real outdoor world. Easter may be long past, but I keep seeing bunnies all over our yard, and that makes me think of eggs. (Really? You know; Easter chicks and bunnies; whatever.)

Anyway, unless you have a high cholesterol problem and have to avoid too many eggs, or have an aversion to them as I did for the first part of my childhood (when I would beg for a hamburger every time my family went out for breakfast), I think we can all agree that having eggs on hand is one of the simplest, quickest, cheapest and most filling meals we can get on the table. We can enjoy them at breakfast, as a simple lunch ingredient, or even for “breakfast” at dinner.

I often make this meal idea when I’ve either neglected to eat enough for breakfast and it’s quickly approaching lunch-time, or when all else fails and I need something substantial for my noon-time meal. Sometimes I just plain feel like eating eggs.

So today I’d like to introduce the poached egg sandwich.

poached egg sandwich

Poached egg sandwich with tomato, greens and cheese on whole wheat toast.

 

Poached egg sandwich with avocado 2015-09-18

Poached egg sandwich with spinach, avocado and cheese on whole wheat toast.

Just to note, if you prefer a fried or scrambled egg, that could work nicely as well, but then you will be consuming a little more fat in your sandwich, but more importantly, you’ll have to change the name.

Several years ago I “invested” (a whole three dollars or so, I think), in this plastic, microwave egg poacher at Walmart:

Microwave egg poacher from WalMart

You can get one almost exactly like it here on Amazon….or if you prefer silicone with the option of cooking in boiling water, check out this model.

I know that some are avoiding plastic these days, so there are other options, too. My parents used to have little metal cups to be used for this purpose in boiling water. I’m not sure they’re around any more, or perhaps they still come in some pots and pans sets. I’ve even seen a stoneware version made by one of my favorite direct marketing companies, which I assume is also for use in the microwave.

You can, of course, use the “authentic” egg poaching method of dropping the raw egg directly into swirling, boiling water as described on this page. There’s a nice video presentation, and the gentleman doing the demonstration just happens to have a lovely accent, which I find quite pleasant. In fact, I may have to try this, as it certainly is the ideal way to make a nice, runny-yolked, poached egg.

Which ever method you choose, simply poach your egg (or eggs), to your liking.

adding salt to egg uncooked poached egg

Before I close my egg poacher, I usually add a pinch of sea or Himalayan salt, a little fresh ground pepper (here’s a nice set with both), and sometimes garlic, dill or another seasoning of choice.

seasoning on raw egg

My favorite addition to my poached egg to add flavor, nice color and most importantly, nutrition, is greens. A little spinach is nice, micro-greens are incredible (if you can get your hands on some), or a little of any green you have on hand will work. You may chop it up if the leaves are especially large or of a tougher texture (like kale).

Add your greens to the top of each egg.

spinach on raw egg

 

Top with a little shredded cheese if you’d like. (Yum!)

Meanwhile, prepare your bread. Almost any type of bread will do, but most often I use an English muffin or bagel. A roll would be nice, a croissant exquisite,or a nice, thick slice of homemade bread would be comforting. Apparently in the photos I took for this post, both times I used just regular whole grain wheat bread from the store, and it still turns out a delicious egg sandwich.

Toast your bread while the egg(s) cook.

Once everything is done, carefully put your egg on top of your bread of choice.

making poached egg sandwich

At this point, you may top with additional fresh greens or lettuce and tomato, and add a slice of cheese (if you did not add shredded to your egg cooker). You could also add your seasoning at this point, rather than to the uncooked egg, if you prefer.

Fresh herbs are a nice option, too, and my husband and sons would probably go for a little hot sauce or even ketchup (although I prefer mine ketchup-less).

You could even go one step further and add a slice of cooked bacon or ham for a more hearty sandwich. (Why do I think the guys would like this idea?)

Another really nice topping is avocado, which also significantly boosts the health factor.

Poached egg sandwich with avocado 2015-09-18

Poached egg sandwich with spinach, avocado and cheese on whole wheat toast.

You may top the egg with a second piece of bread and eat by hand like a sandwich (think “healthy egg mcmuffin”), or do as I usually do and eat with only one piece of bread and serve open-faced.

Now your healthy, colorful egg sandwich is complete.

Go ahead and eat.

poached egg sandwich (partially eaten).

And think about chickens…..or spring…..or bunnies…..or spring chickens (which I am not, since a rather significant birthday is quickly approaching for me).

And please don’t forget to tell me how you liked it!

*****

Have you ever made a poached egg sandwich? How do you prefer to poach your eggs? When it comes to toppings, are you more of a greens, tomato and avocado person, or would you prefer bacon, cheese, or a nice slab of meat?

 

 

 

my desk area and computer

Top 12 Reasons that Connecting Online is Super Beneficial

my desk area and computer

My space. 🙂

Well, I just finished another webinar, and I must say, I’M SO INSPIRED!

I had to add the word, “super” to my post title, because I was so motivated and excited by what I had just learned and the connections that were made.

You see, I haven’t been blogging very long (almost six months, which may sound like a long time, but I still mostly feel like a newbie). I’ve participated in around five webinars, and the one I just attended was hosted by two well-known bloggers, Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom and Abby Lawson of Just A Girl and Her Blog. This particular session was about writing good content for your blog.

I know that most of you are not necessarily bloggers, so why am I sharing all this?

I just wanted to share that I’m realizing more and more how inspiring it is to encourage others and be encouraged online!

Now let me just clear something up. I’m not suggesting that online contact and relationships can take the place of “real” (live, in the flesh), relationships…

BUT….I am suggesting that you actually can develop, help to maintain and re-connect relationships online…for real!

I’ll use my husband as an example. My dear husband is a definite “techy”. He has done (and does now), sales and other types of jobs, but has always loved and been good at computer-related stuff. He actually launched and still runs his own SEO business, and has built and worked on websites. It’s his second job right now, but is probably his first love (in job world, that is; I’M his first love in real life 🙂 ). He also likes to spend some of his free time playing online video games.

Well, guess what? My husband has met many people online, some of which he’s actually gotten together with over time….and one of his very best friends (I will refrain from calling him a “bff”, for fear of it sounding really “girly”), he originally met online. Either that or they met in business, and then got to know each other online.

Anyway, all that is to say that you really can get to know someone through the web!

Now I’ll tell you my experience.

I’m am definitely “tech-challenged”, but am learning more each day. I was originally scared to join Facebook; in fact, my first photo was really unclear because I was so timid about putting my photo out there where “all the world” could see. But since the day my account was opened, I’ve loved it! (I guess this is the extroverted part of my “ambivert” personality.)

Through Facebook, I have stayed far better connected with my own family (from my parents and sister, to many of my extended family members), and with friends both far and near. I communicate with those from my original home in Ontario, with people with whom I currently go to church, with those with whom I’ve worked in the past many years of jobs, and with those who attended college with me, etc. I’ve also had a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with several high school friends with whom I probably never would have talked in the past twenty years….if it weren’t for Facebook.

I also mentioned these few webinars I’ve attended (online, of course). I have learned so much from the sessions , but I’ve also connected with others on the side. When I say, “on the side, I literally mean that. The “chat” feature which appears on the right side of the webinar video allows listeners to ask questions and make comments during the webinar, but also to share back and forth amongst themselves. In this way, I received some good advice and encouragement from many other wonderful blogging “friends” participating in the webinar, and hope to connect with some of them on their blogs soon!

What I’m trying to say is this:

Would it be better and more personal to get together and talk face to face, to be able to actually reach out and touch someone in the flesh, send a handwritten card or note, get on the phone and really hear someone’s voice, or spend time in a group with “real” live people at church, work, or at some other social event?

Yes, of course!

Is that always practical in my real, average, busy life (to reach out to all of these people I’ve mentioned)?

Absolutely not!

Communication through our various devices will never take the place of being together in person, but it will allow us to connect far more often and with many more people than we would have otherwise.

 

I don’t know about you, but I live here in the real world.

To summarize, I’d like to share with you my top reasons that I believe make connecting online beneficial.

Prayer & Bible reading, Exercise (Pilates & other), Drink water, "Me" time (read, photos, blog).

Day #3 – My personal goals for this month.

Top 12 Reasons that Connecting Online is Super Beneficial:

  1. It’s quick, easy and very accessible!
  2. You can connect almost any time of the day or night.
  3. It’s possible to keep in contact with those you don’t regularly see, or who live too far away to visit.
  4. You can meet new people, both as personal and business acquaintances.
  5. You can be an encouragement and help to others in a myriad of ways.
  6. It’s a good place to gain access to information, tools, and encouragement for yourself.
  7. Connecting online is a great way to both challenge and support others, and to be challenged to learn and grow in areas of your own life.
  8. Social media is a great tool for sharing prayer requests and answers to problems and needs.
  9. Technology can provide an outlet for our creativity and a place to be refreshed and/or inspired.
  10. Photos can be shared with friends and loved ones and viewed almost immediately.
  11. It’s possible to make an income from so many different online sources.
  12. It’s fun!!!

 

Bible, journal and tea

Quiet Time

Just one more note of some importance:

Of course, just like almost any other tool, social media and other online methods of connecting can be a distraction or a hindrance to our responsibilities in real life. In other words, in can easily become a waste of our precious time. Worst case scenario, in rare cases online games and relationships can become a form of “living in a fantasy world”, or be used to harm yourself or others.

But I do not for one minute think that this negates all of the positive points I’ve discussed in this post. In almost every area of our lives, we are called to think (and pray), research, and evaluate whether or not a given action is beneficial to our lives (and the lives of those we love). We need to decide how much or how little time should be given to each activity or task, and to exercise discipline in using any tool available to us.

I may not do it perfectly, but I choose to use all of the “modern” forms of technology in a balanced way, in order to grow in areas of my own life, to help my family and those I love, and to share help and encouragement with others as well.

This blog is one of those outlets for me, and I sincerely pray that it will help, encourage or inspire you, or at least provide a little respite for all of my friends who chose to read it.

*****

What are your feelings towards online tools such as social media? Have you found “modern technology” to be more helpful or more of a hindrance in your life? Do you have anything to share that has helped you to use technology in a more disciplined way?

 

 

 

 

White Adirondack chairs

An Invitation to Let Your Soul Find Some Breathing Space

White Adirondack chairs

Do you ever feel like life just doesn’t stop?

Are you longing for a moment of peace and quiet, or a little time to yourself?

Would you like a little help allowing your soul to take a breath?

I would like to invite you to join me as I join well-known blogger, author and speaker, Emily Freeman for 7 Days of Still Moments.

I have been reading Emily’s blog now for some time, enjoyed her newest book, Simply Tuesday (and studied it with my women’s small group at church), and watched some of her Periscope videos. Her thoughtful writing is calming and encouraging, and will gently challenge you with her motto of “creating space for your soul to breathe”.

For seven days, Emily is inviting us to listen for a few moments each day as she reads some scripture and her thoughts, designed to encourage us to make a little space to listen to what’s going on inside. You may use this as a morning devotional, as I am, or find time in your busy day to just stop. Or you may find this a good way to quiet your heart before you go to sleep at night.

This morning I listened to the first audio session. It was only about five minutes long, but set the stage to put my whole day in perspective. Emily’s voice is gentle and soothing. She will encourage you to pay attention to your heart. I’m so looking forward to each of the next six days!

I hope you will sign up (it’s free, of course!), and take a few minutes to care for your own soul with me. Just click on this link, scroll down and sign up; you’ll get an email each day with the audio offering to listen to on your own schedule.

I hope and pray that this will be a small encouragement to you and help you pause at some point in your day to care for your soul. Please let me know what you think!

*****