What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles - "Sing and Rejoice, O Daughter..."

10.  "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion!
For behold, I Am coming and I will dwell in your midst,"
says the Lord.

11.  Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day
and they shall become My people.
And I will dwell in your midst.
Then you will know that the Lord of Hosts has sent Me to you.

12.  And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance
in the Holy Land,
and will again choose Jerusalem.

13.  Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, 
for He is aroused from His Holy habitation!"

Zechariah 2:10-13

Just let these words sink down deep into your heart today, my friends.  There is something very powerful and beautiful in these words of the Prophet Zechariah.  I won't attempt to interpret or explain the timing of this prophecy...I'll leave that up to the theologians.  However, if you pay attention to current world events, primarily in the land of Zion, i.e., Israel, one can't help but feel a tingle of excitement and anticipation, especially in reading verses 12-13.  The Lord directed my reading to these passages as I sat silently in His Presence in the Secret Garden...and it blessed my heart...and I pray it will be a blessing to you as well as you ponder the significance of these words. You might even find yourself wanting to "Sing and Rejoice, O daughter!!"


Note: These photos were taken today on a hike to "Davenport Landing" on the Ocklawaha River near Salt Springs, FL.  We are currently enjoying a visit with our grandson here from Maine, and this is a part of what we did as a family today.  I hope you will enjoy the peace of serenity of this place as you ponder what the Lord is doing in our midst during these days.    Also, these photos are the same place as a previous post, "Like A River Glorious", but if you compare the two you can tell the difference in foliage between today and the previous post that was originally posted in April of last year.  Waiting for the leaves to come back on the trees...but it is still such a "glorious" place to spend time with the Lord.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Like A River Glorious" Updated for Friday Foto Friends

I originally posted this on 4/13/2016, and since I don't have time to do a new post today due to our traveling to the airport to pick up our grandson, who is coming all the way from Maine to soak up some warm Florida sunshine, I thought I would share these beautiful pictures with you today. I hope you will enjoy and be blessed.   Then be sure to hop on over to visit our other Friday Foto Friends  at Breathing in Grace, where my friend Deb so kindly hosts this event each week.

This hymn came to my mind today as my hubby and I took an awesome walk at the Davenport Landing Site on the Ocklawaha River, just north of Salt Springs, FL, where we live.

Click here to listen to the Thomas Cumberland Choir sing "Like A River Glorious" while you enjoy the pictures we took today along the trail and the Ocklawaha River.  Editor Note: Click HERE -- I had to add this additional video to get the complete hymn. The other link did not include all of the verses, so to hear the complete song, please use this link. Thank you.

"Like a river glorious is God's perfect peace,

Over all victorious in its bright increase;

Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day;
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.

Chorus:
Stayed upon Jehovah 
Hearts are fully blest,

Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His bless-ed hand,

Never foe can follow,
Never traitor stand.

Not a surge of worry,

Not a shade of care,

Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

(Chorus)
Stayed upon Jehovah 

Hearts are fully blest,
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest.


Every joy or trial falleth from above,

Traced upon our dial by the Sun of love.
(This is a Manatee under the water)

We may trust Him fully-all for us to do;

They who trust Him wholly
find Him wholly true.

Chorus
Stayed upon Jehovah 
Hearts are fully blest,
Finding, as He promised,
Perfect peace and rest."

(Like A River Glorious written by Frances R. Havergal)

"For thus says the Lord:
'Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.
Then you shall fee;
On her sides shall you be carried,
and be dandled on her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
So will I comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem."
Isaiah 66:12-13 NKJV

I pray that you have felt the peace of God flowing through you...and that His Word has given you comfort and joy.  Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday!

I have never deliberately written a post specifically for "Thankful Thursday", but I have been thankful for something almost every time I write a post!  However, since today IS Thursday, and it's been a rather busy day, I wasn't able to do my usual "Secret Garden Chronicles"... so I will gladly write some things I'm thankful for today!

#1.  Today is my wonderful hubby's birthday!  I am so thankful for this man that I've been married to for almost 48 years!  We've been through a lot of good times and some bad times...but all have been covered under the blood of Jesus Christ...and He has seen us through it all.   Thank You, Jesus!!

#2.  Because it was my hubby's birthday today,
we went to visit his mother, who is now living in a nursing home. She is almost 94 years old, and for the most part is doing very well, all things considered.  We are very thankful that she is adapting very well to the home, and she seems to be very happy there.  I love my mother in law, and want to thank the Lord for all the years we have shared.  God was very gracious to me to give me such a wonderful lady for my mother in law.


Isn't she lovely?  Yes, Thank You, Jesus, for this blessing in my life.









3.  After we visited my mother in law we had lunch with some very dear "old" friends...old in that they have been our friends for over 35 years...having been members of one of the early churches my husband pastored...and they have followed us to visit us in almost every place we have lived since that time...and there have been many.  I thank the Lord for good friends like Connie and Bill.  Their kindness and goodness to us throughout the years is one of the great blessings of our life.

Here's a picture of Connie and Bill taken last year on their 55th anniversary!!  They are truly great friends, and today I give thanks for them.

Of course, if I start listing friends and family for whom I am thankful, I will be writing all day and night!  So for now I am just talking about the special ones who blessed us today....

In addition to a delightful time at lunch with our friends, Connie blessed me with this delightful little teapot because she knows I love teapots and when she saw this she thought of me...Isn't it marvelous?  I just love it...and thank the Lord for such thoughtful friends again...



4.  I am also thankful for my immediate family...our sons here at home who bless us in so many ways...here they are working on the beautiful bench that they gave me for Christmas this year...which was the start of The Secret Garden... and we ALL know what a blessing THAT has been!!!

5.  And I am very thankful that our grandson Noah is flying down for a visit tomorrow, all the way from Maine!!!  We can't wait to see him and put our arms around him, if we can reach his neck...he's about 6'3" tall and 17 years old... Here's a picture of him taken this time last year when he and his mama came for a visit.  Love them both...



6.  Yes, I am very thankful for our daughter in law too...she has been a real blessing to us...and took such wonderful care of our son Matthew before he passed away from cancer almost 3 years ago.  

Our family in 2014.  Matthew is the second to the end on the back row.
Yes,  as I said, we've been through some difficult times along with all the good times...but God has been very gracious to us, and we are very thankful.

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever."
Psalm 136:1



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles Day 23-Tea and Gratitude

Today it is a very windy and now rainy day here in my neck of the woods...and so sitting in the Secret Garden doesn't seem like a very good idea! Therefore I decided to have a little impromptu Valentine Tea Party with "Baby Elva", even though this is the day after Valentine's Day, but she is all dressed up in her sweet little Valentine's dress, and it just didn't seem right not to celebrate with her:


And so it seemed appropriate, since we are celebrating a time of love, to use the most romantic looking teacup in my collection:


What really got me inspired was that I had decided to make an ordinary cup of tea, using a Red Rose tea bag, and I couldn't help but notice that the tag says that there is "love in every cup".    Therefore,  no ordinary teacup would do!



The little tea time daily devotional calendar in the background says:

"Love makes all hard hearts gentle."  ~ George Herbert 
 (anyone know who that is?)  I had to look him up in Wikipedia to find out:

"George Herbert was a Welsh-born poet, orator and Anglican priest. Herbert's poetry is associated with the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is recognised as "one of the foremost British devotional lyricists."Wikipedia
BornApril 3, 1593, Montgomery, United Kingdom
DiedMarch 1, 1633, Bemerton, United Kingdom
NationalityEnglish
Quotes:         Living well is the best revenge.
One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.
He that is not handsome at 20, nor strong at 30, nor rich at 40, nor wise at 50, will never be handsome, strong, rich or wise."



Some interesting thoughts to ponder while sipping tea this afternoon!

Another worthy thought to ponder also on the Tea Time Devotional is from I Peter 4:8, NIV
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins."

While sipping tea and relaxing in this sweet little tea time with Baby Elva, I picked up one of my many little books about tea time and enjoyed reading a few selected ideas about "Mini Teatimes" by Susan Rios.  

This particular chapter was entitled "Now Serving: Tea and Gratitude".  I will quote a little from this page:

"The act of taking tea invited us to a more profound awareness of what is beautiful and meaningful...
One sip from a hot cup of tea and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving for the gifts in our daily lives..from friendships to blessings to trials."
That is exactly how I feel today...filled with thanksgiving...yes, for the gifts in my daily life...especially for the many special friendships I enjoy...both here at home, and also with my many friends out there in "blogland"...such treasures I do not take lightly!  You are each a wonderful blessing to me...and I always look forward to our daily conversations!  


Here's an interesting old fashioned "couple" that I invited to tea...I thought they fit right in with the lovely couple on the teacup and saucer:



They were a gift from my mother in law several years ago...a lovely colonial couple...made in Occupied Japan!

And now that the tea party is over,  the Teacup and saucer is back up on top of the china cabinet, where it is watched over by three lovely Victorian ladies...


I hope you enjoyed this impromptu "mini teatime" with Baby Elva and me.


To quote the book again:
"Take a seat, slowly pour another cup of tea, 
and take in the aroma and the warmth of the amber liquid.  Enjoy the pleasure of a life steeped in gratitude."
(Mini Teatimes, Text copyright 2010 by Harvest House Publishers, 
Artwork Copyright 2010 by Susan Rios)

Thank You, Lord, for Your many blessings today!
Amen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles Day 22 Who Do You Love?

Happy Valentine's Day!  Seems like a lot of hype over today...but it is a great day to express and show love to each other in a tangible way; cards,
candy, flowers, or a special dinner...but it shouldn't be a day that causes one to feel sad or forgotten or left out if they don't receive any special treatment on this day.  For those who may not have anyone "special" in their lives to share this day with...perhaps one should find someone who could appreciate an extra word of encouragement, love, or kindness.

Don't let it be a day that is just "all about me", but make it a day that brightens someone else's life...young or old, rich or poor, lonely or overwhelmed with too many mouths to feed...a day to show love to those who may feel unloveable.  What a great way to share the love of Christ with others!

Here are some thoughts about love....

I John 4

7.  Beloved, let us love one another...
for LOVE is of God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

8.  He who does not love does not know God, 
for God is LOVE.

9.  In this the LOVE of God was manifested
toward us,
that God has sent His only begotten Son
into the world,
that we might live through Him.

10.  In this is LOVE, 
not that we loved God, 
but that He LOVED us and sent
His Son to be the 
propitiation for our sins.

11.  Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also ought to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

15.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,
God abides in him,
and he in God.

18.  There is NO FEAR in LOVE;
BUT PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR!

20.  If someone says, "I love God", 
and hates his brother,
he is a LIAR,
for he who does not love his brother
whom he HAS seen,
how can he love GOD, Whom he has NOT seen?

Wow!  These are some strong thoughts about love, Lord!

Verse 21 further says:  

"And this commandment we have from Him:
That he who loves God MUST love his brother also!!"

So, on this day set aside to show love to one another, perhaps we need to think a little more deeply about who we really love...not just in the romantic sense...but in a holy, pure, Godly way.

Do I,  Do YOUTruly love our fellow "man"...brothers, sisters;  Or do I just "tolerate" them for the sake of keeping peace?  It would seem that "tolerance" is rapidly becoming a thing of the past in today's society.  Many people have moved away from being "tolerant" to just being downright hateful.

It seems as though people, even members of the same family, community, and even some churches, are becoming less and less loving because of strong differences in opinion politically and socially.  Certainly there are some behaviors that we as Christians cannot approve of or even begin to tolerate; but can we love others who may disagree with us?  Can we overlook some opposing views and still love the person?

It's a challenge...and as the day draws closer to the Lord's return, we may find it becoming even more and more difficult...

But God's Word tells us that if we do not "LOVE OUR BROTHER" whom we HAVE seen, then how can we LOVE GOD whom we have NOT seen?

Something to ponder...Something to cause us to look deep within, and pray for that kind of love that looks beyond one's faults and differences...and sees the person that God wants us to love instead...and perhaps even win that brother or sister to Christ because of our unwavering love.

Lord, Help me to be able to stay true to my convictions 
without driving away the people 
to whom You want me to show Your love.
I can't be a true witness for Christ if I harbor 
resentment or intolerance
for those who need to know YOU, Lord.
It's a fine balance between 
standing strong in what I believe,
and being strong in acting upon those beliefs 
by loving others the way YOU want me to.
Lord, I need YOUR help and guidance
and courage to love like YOU.

I John 5:14-15 says:

14.  "Now this is the confidence 
that we have in Him,
that if we ask anything according 
to His will, He hears us.

15.  And if we know that He hears us,
whatever we ask,
we know that we have 
the petitions we have asked of Him."

Hear my prayer, O Lord!

"Let the beauty of Jesus 
be seen in me;
All His wonderful passion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine,
All my nature refine;
Till the beauty of Jesus 
be seen in me."
Amen.
(Let the Beauty of Jesus by Albert Osborn)

Well, this is certainly a different way of looking at Valentine's Day, huh?
I pray it has been a day of joy and blessing for each of you!
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you today!!

Even a couple of buzzards know how to love!!!  

And So do these two camellias!!!  Back to Back, stuck tight together!!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles Day 21 - I Am Preserved!

No, that doesn't say I am "preserves"...but "preserved"!  Not "well-preserved"...although I try...but "God-preserved".   Okay, let's read on...

It feels so good to actually be sitting outside in the Secret Garden today! The air is warm, the sun is shining, there is a gentle breeze...and I am blessed.  Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings on me!!

I mentioned the "bumblebee" the other day, and I loved so many responses from my friends here in blogland...about the many different kinds of "bumblebees" buzzing around in your lives...things that distract us, cause us to worry or be anxious or fearful...and we have been encouraged to know that God takes care of the bumblebees that disturb us.  We just need to "Be Still" and let Him do His work!

Today there really are a lot of bees buzzing around this big wild black cherry tree in the Secret Garden because it is blooming and the bees are loving it.  I truly may have to get up and go back in the house if they come too close!

God speaks to me while I sit under the shade of this tree, keeping a wary eye on those bees buzzing all around the blossoms (sorry, they don't show up in the picture...they move too fast)...and He says to me in Psalm 121:5-8 ~

5.  "The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

6.  The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7.  The Lord shall preserve you from all evil.
He shall preserve your soul.

8.  The Lord shall preserve your going out
and your coming in,
from this time forth, and even forevermore."

Those words have a calming effect on my soul right now.  Again, He knows my heart;
He knows it's not really the bees buzzing around the tree above me that concern me most.

I love knowing that the Lord cares about all the details of my life--He actually provides the shade at my right hand 



He keeps me safe from all evil...

He preserves my soul...doesn't ever let go of my soul...

He preserves = blesses, guards, watches, protects my going out and my coming in...forever!!!

He knows my every movement and keeps me safe from harm!

Proverbs 2:8 says:

"He guards the paths of justice,
and preserves the way of His saints."

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to:

5.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding.

6.  In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths."

My heart is filled with joy overflowing right now...just knowing that the Lord is guarding my very footsteps and directing my paths.

It is so good to sit in the Presence of the Lord Most High...and to learn to listen to His instruction.
Just hearing the Word taught on Sundays and or/maybe Wednesday nights is not enough.  We need daily communication with Him if we are truly to grow and be led in the right paths.  We are never too old to learn new instruction from the Lord.

The Secret Garden is the place I've chosen (or God chose for me!) for this daily communication.
You don't have to have a "secret garden", but you do need someplace to call your sanctuary, and use it daily.

I can't thank the Lord enough for allowing me this special time of personal communion with Him each day.  And yes, maybe I am "well-preserved"!  By God, of course!!!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles Day 20- Is Your All on the Altar?

"Is Your All on the Altar?"


This morning in our devotions we read from Matthew 5:23-24, and I noticed something about these verses that I had not realized before.  Let's read it together, and then we can talk about this:

23.  "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, 
and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24.  Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.
First be reconciled to your brother, 
and then come and offer your gift."

Now, I always thought this was talking about bringing your "tithes", or money gifts to the altar...and that if you had anything wrong between you and your "brother", or any other person, you needed to take care of that before the Lord could accept your gift.  But today my eyes were enlightened to look at this a little deeper.

Do you ever even think about bringing your "gift" to the altar when you come to church?  Do you just put your offering in the plate when it is passed and not even think about the significance of that act...or the possibility that the Lord may not even accept that gift because of your "relationships" with others?

First of all, what exactly are the "gifts" that we bring to God's altar?  If this is not just talking about our tithes, then what?

How about the gift of ourselves...our very being...our soul and heart?
Or how about our joys and sorrows? Could that be a "gift" to the Lord?
Our praises and words of thanksgiving to the Lord?
Perhaps our desire to be transformed...reconciled to the Lord Himself is a gift.
The gift of service to the Lord and to one another...the gift of our voices lifted up in song, praise, testimony, teaching, preaching...
Maybe we desire to be a better prayer warrior or counselor, a writer of encouragement to others, a better friend to others...

But these things we desire to give to the Lord...even for His honor and glory, cannot happen until we are reconciled to our "brother", or sister, mother, father, spouse, friend, child, neighbor....anyone we may have hurt or wronged in some way...or perhaps someone we need to forgive...whether or not they "deserve" to be forgiven.

Until we are able to lay our "all" on the altar, we will not be able to move forward in our walk with the Lord, or be able to do the things we so desire to do for Him, no matter how honorable our intentions.

Wow!  I never looked at these verses quite this way before.  Have you?  Have you ever realized that perhaps all the things we long to do for the Lord and for others are not happening because we have not let go of our hurts and sorrows...our sin of an unforgiving heart?  That grudge we may be nursing in our mind toward someone somewhere...possibly even someone we really don't even know...but we heard about them somewhere and decided to harbor resentment and hatred toward them?  There's a lot of that going on these days...I don't need to elaborate....

As the Lord opened my eyes to these thoughts today, I found myself searching my own heart and examining the nooks and crannies of my internal being...and asking the Lord to turn on His searchlight and reveal to me those things I am holding onto that need to be "reconciled"...to anyone who fits that description above.  

Here's a song that came to mind as the Lord was reminding me of these things:

"You have longed for sweet peace,
and for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
But you cannot have rest,
or be perfectly blest,
Until ALL on the altar is laid.

Chorus:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart, does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest
and have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.

Would you walk with the Lord 
in the light of His Word,
and have peace and contentment alway?
You must do His sweet will
to be free from all ill;
On the altar your all you must lay.

(Chorus)

Oh, we never can know
what the Lord will bestow
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul
He doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.

(Chorus)

Who can tell all the love
He will send from above!
Oh, how happy our hearts will be made!
Oh, what fellowship sweet
we shall share at His feet,
When our all on the altar is laid!"
(Chorus)

(Is Your All on the Altar? by Elisha A. Hoffman)

So...what about you?  Did this open your eyes to some things that perhaps need to be taken care of before you can leave your gift on God's Altar?  Sometimes we may think we don't have any "issues" against any of our "brothers or sisters"...and then the Lord helps us to see that we just might be in need of some "reconciliation"...even between ourselves and the Lord Himself...before we can move any further in that relationship.  

I know I'm praying about this now...how about you?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles Day 19-Be Still Pam

It's been a busy day, Lord.  We have company (actually family...my brother and wife from out of state!) coming for lunch tomorrow after church, so I've been trying to prepare things ahead today since we have church here in the house in the morning. We are looking forward to their visit as we don't get to see each other very often any more!

So, it is already 4:00 p.m., and I must admit I am a little tired.  It feels good to sit out here in the Secret Garden for a few minutes before I have to go back inside and start supper!  It is very pleasant today...the sun is shining, and it has warmed up into a lovely day.

"Be Still, Pam, and KNOW that I AM God." 

Yes, Lord.  Although I am a little nervous right now, as there is a bumblebee buzzing around out here, and he keeps looking at me, trying to decide if I'm a flower or something to sting!  So, Lord, I hope You will understand if I have to suddenly jump up and get out of here!
The only picture I could get of this bee, as he was in perpetual motion the whole time...that is why it is kind of fuzzy.

"Pam, BE STILL, and know that I Am GOD!"

Yes, Lord...I'm trying...but that bee.....

"Pam, Do you trust Me?"

Yes, Lord, I trust You.

"Then please, BE STILL!  I am with you.
You do not need to fear the bee or any other creature...
or any other circumstance!"

Read what I've told you through the prophet Isaiah 40:21-23 

21.  "Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundation of the earth?

22.  It is He (GOD) Who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.

23.  He brings the princes to nothing;
He makes the judges of the earth useless."

I think I am getting the "bigger picture" here Lord...
Why should I be concerned about this little bumblebee- when I am sitting in the Presence of the Creator of the whole universe?  And why should I be concerned about the future or any other event on the earth...when God has promised to take care of me?

Isaiah 40:27 says:

Why do you say, O Jacob, (PAM!) and speak, O Israel:
"My way is hidden from the Lord ,
and my just claim is passed over by my God"?

28.  Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.

29.  He gives power to the weak,
and to those who have no might 
He increases strength.

30.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
and the young men shall utterly fall,

31.  But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."

Thank You, Lord, for this lesson today.  You know everything that is really on my mind...
You understand my concerns...and You have taken the time to show me that You are here with me...and You are in control...even over this bumblebee!!!
Thank you!  The bumblebee seems to have lost interest in me now anyway...and I know that I can trust You to take care of everything else in my life as well!


This picture was from last summer. So glad these bees have something to occupy their time!
What kind of "bumblebees" do you need to give over to God today?