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!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Family Tradition (2011) ~UPDATED IN 2012 and 2016 and 2017

11/23/2017:  Just a  quick update...Today IS Thanksgiving...but we will have our big family gathering here on Saturday instead...and we will welcome some new faces, and miss others. This will be our first Thanksgiving with our new daughter in law Rose, and our first Thanksgiving without my mother in law Vivian, "Nanny", but she is still alive and well...just not able to be with us due to being in a nursing home and not able to travel very well.  It will be a wonderful day, filled with laughter, good food, and thankfulness of just being together.  God is so good.  Hug your family today and give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!!

11/22/2016:    Here we are, just a couple more days until Thanksgiving...and I was thinking about the wonderful times we had back at my old family home before my parents left this world for their heavenly home.  This post was originally written in 2011, updated in 2012...and now in 2016 we are still carrying on those wonderful family traditions.  It seems that OUR house has become the family gathering place for holiday dinners since our move out here to the woods in 2012.  The faces are sometimes the same as before, and then other years it may be a whole different crowd as the extended family establishes their own traditions with their in-laws and outlaws, etc....you know how it goes.  But some things never change...and that is the love that is shared between loved ones and friends, parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and special friends who are just like family.  The important thing is to be thankful for all that God has done...and to cherish every opportunity to be together.  Don't let anything mar your time together...politics (especially THIS election year), differences of opinion, broken relationships, unforgiving spirits, "religion", fads...or any other crazy idea that could hurt your special time together.  We never know when this could be the last time we will all be together...so put aside self...and embrace one another in love and peace...and give thanks with a grateful heart. 


Original Post, Thanksgiving 2011

Psalm 103:17-18  “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.”

Back during our ministry days we spent many holidays far away from our extended family due to the distance involved to get back home, and also the fact that our place of ministry often required that we stay close by to participate in the holiday activities of the church.  Once our own children began to leave the nest  they weren't always able to get back home to us for all of the holidays.  Therefore, we often either invited local people to our home for the holiday meal, or we were invited to spend the day with others in the area. 

After spending one such Thanksgiving Day at the home of distant relatives who happened to live in the same area, and without all of our own children at home with us,  I made note in my journal that everything was wonderful, “but somehow something was missing…I guess the familiar traditions of my own family dinners.”  I went on to say,

“What is it about us humans…we have to have things just the same year after year to ‘feel right’?  We are creatures of habit and tradition, and in many ways that is good.  It gives us security and warm cozy feelings…happy memories to share with our children and grandchildren, a link to our heritage, even all the way back to Adam and Eve. 

Actually God established traditions, customs and holy days for His people so that His truth would be passed down from generation to generation.  Because of this heritage we have learned God’s Word, and have heard of His great love for us all.  So, all tradition is not a bad thing when it is used properly.”

My Mom and Dad...Our Last Thanksgiving  all together in 2005

The family guys all playing a new game..."Cornhole"...
that's the name, honest!

I guess I am waxing a bit nostalgic as we approach Thanksgiving next week (! Already?) Since the passing of my father this past spring, this will be the first Thanksgiving that we celebrate without both of my parents.  Tradition runs deep in my family, and so much of our annual rituals and  activities were learned in my parents' home.  That particular house is no longer available to us, as we closed that door on that home this past summer and turned the keys over to another family, and after over 54 years of my family living there, it just seems very strange that I cannot go back and walk right in the door and hug and kiss my parents and smell the pies baking and the turkey roasting and hear the mixture of laughter ringing in the hallways and the mixer whirring and a fire crackling while Lionel Trains were chugging around the track entertaining the young and old alike.  There will be no men,(my brothers, husband, brother in law, sons or my father) calling to each other out back while playing horseshoes, or little children running in and out the back door and someone yelling at them to close that door because they are letting all the cool air out (or in, as the case may be).  There will be no women, (my sister, sisters in law, nieces, aunts, grandparents, cousins, or my dear mother) busily setting the table, peeling or mashing the potatoes, washing the dishes, arranging the table centerpiece, finding the best dishes and serving spoons, counting the places at the table and figuring where on earth everyone is going to sit. 


More family

and more family

The family was gathered together to start saying goodbye as
some were leaving for home...
No, all these memories will just have to remain here in my mind...I can picture them all vividly as I write this. I can hear their voices, see their faces, and remember how precious they all were to me.  I wonder if I ever stopped to realize that when they were still present?  Probably not...I was just too busy enjoying the food, fun and laughter to allow myself to think that it would ever end.

So now I have to face the fact that it is the time to move forward...begin anew with our own families, friends, and traditions.  It will never be the same again...but that doesn't mean it all has to end.  Now is when we pick up where our parents left off...and establish the memories that will someday carry our children and their children on to their own homes and futures. I guess one could say that this is definitely a case for "Closed doors, Open Windows"....

Yes, next week will certainly be different for me, and I am already shedding a few tears just thinking about it. I know that life will go on, and we will continue to celebrate year after year, welcoming new faces and traditions...but we will carry the memories of our precious loved ones in our hearts always...and pass on the treasures of our wonderful heritage to any who will listen.

My Dad, Playing Horseshoes back in the good old days...
Now THAT'S a picture I'll NEVER forget!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
..cherish the moments together...
make every minute count! 
Laugh, Love, and Live!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving...

'Twas the eve before Thanksgiving and all through the house...a lot of creatures were stirring...pies, jellos, casseroles...yes, stirring up lots of good food for the family celebration.

Last week I posted about how thankful I was for my tongue .  And as we prepare to eat all the wonderful food for Thanksgiving, I am doubly thankful for my tongue and my sense of taste.  Today I am also thankful for my sense of smell!  It seems to me that one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is all the wonderful smells of pies baking, turkey roasting, the aroma of the sage, celery and onions of stuffing/dressing baking, permeating the house with delectable fragrances that make our mouths water and our tummies start growling...

We are not going to have our traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day this year due to family scheduling...our big gathering will actually be on Saturday.  But, in keeping with the season, we will have pumpkin pies and apple pie to go along with our small family dinner tomorrow.  I just couldn't resist baking these pies so that I could smell and taste the flavors of the season.

(apple pie and pinwheels from left over crust baking in the oven)

Little by little the Thanksgiving decorations are coming out of hiding and standing in their places in preparation for the celebration...

The Pilgrims have come prepared for the feast...

And these prayerful children and parents are giving thanks for all that God has provided...

The Little Pilgrim Shakers and friends are all lined up and are ready to be filled with salt and pepper and  placed on the tables...

I love this little needlepoint picture my sister Doris made for me way back in 1978!  That reminds me of our table grace we used to say as children...

Yes, as we prepare for the big feast we pause to reflect on our many blessings...so many I can't count them.  This year we will welcome a new member to our family table...our new daughter in law Rose! And we will miss our sweet "Nanny Steiner" at the table, who is living in a nursing home, but is thankfully in good spirits and good health...just not able to travel anymore.  

We've had a wonderful year with good health and answered prayers. The Psalmist sums up pretty well what we should be saying and feeling on this Thanksgiving Day.

Psalm 107:1-2, 8-9
1.  "Oh, give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy."
8.  "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord
for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
9.  For He satisfies the longing soul,
and fills the hungry soul with goodness."

Indeed, God has redeemed and protected us from the hand of the enemy...and He truly satisfies the longing soul...and fills the hungry soul with goodness...

It is my prayer that you and your family and friends will have a day of great blessing and joy as you gather together and remember God's "wonderful works to the children of men." Even when we are having difficult times, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.  

The last verse (43) of Psalm 107 says:

"Whoever is wise will observe these things,
and they will understand the lovingkindness
of the Lord."

Happy Thanksgiving to all, 
and to all a "good night".

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lost and Found

https://goo.gl/maps/Yjk7KSs1caF2 (Click on the link for a map to nowhere)
NEVER MIND THE ADDRESS on this link, THAT IS NOT THE POINT HERE... The point is, if you look at this map, everything is named Fisher something or other...and this is out in the middle of nowhere, and these roads just go round and round and round and I got lost on this merry-go-round yesterday when I made a wrong turn on my way home from a pleasant afternoon with friends.

I thought I would never get out of there alive. I finally stopped right in the middle of the road (because there is NO traffic there, NO people, houses are few and far between...it is a failed subdivision that never made it, and I can see why...) and I cried (literally),
"Lord! Help me get out of here alive!"

I could see the buzzards circling overhead, just waiting and watching for their next meal...Finally I believe I heard the Lord say to me,
"Pamela, You have a smart phone...use it!!"

I said,
"Yes, Lord, and Thank you for reminding me...now help me figure out HOW to use it!",
and I pushed a little "GO" button on the map thingy on the phone, and it started telling me how to find my way back to the main road that I had somehow missed (after going in literal circles for what seemed like hours...but was really only a few minutes..but when you are lost, and the sun was starting to fade in the west...it seemed like forever...) and I finally traced my way back to where I was supposed to be and then the map lady in the phone started telling me how far it was to home...and I breathed a huge sigh of relief and just cried and thanked the Lord at every bend in the road that led me back home.

For those of you who have had your smart phones a long time, I'm sure you are thinking how dumb can a person be...but don't say it out loud, okay? Thank you.

Have you ever been lost? Then you know what I mean to feel totally alone, afraid, confused, and almost hopeless...but the point I want to make here is not about how to use a smart phone to find your way back home.

My point is how to find your way home (not just to your house...but to your eternal home) by calling on GOD. You don't need a smart phone to do that...

Without Christ, we all are lost...regardless of how smart we may think we are.  And Jesus is calling to us...actually He is seeking us and beckoning us to come home.  The Bible tells us that when we do finally come home, there is much rejoicing in heaven...(read the parables in Luke 15 about the Lost Sheep (verses 3-7,) or the Lost Coin (verses 8-10), or the Lost Son (verses 11-32)...In every case there is much joy when that which was lost is found...

I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father kept calling for me to come home when I was a lost soul.  I am also so thankful that He gave me instruction and wisdom on how to find my way home literally yesterday...but also from His book of instructions for eternal life...The Bible.  I'm thankful that I knew He would help me when I called upon Him...and He did not fail me.

"Amazing Grace!!! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was LOST, but now am found, was blind, but now I see!!"

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!...Revisited from 11/17/2012

Note: This post was originally written five years ago (11/17/2012), so my "tongue" is well-healed today...and I praise God that His mercy and love and strength continues to endure forever. I just wanted to share a few pre-Thanksgiving thoughts today!  Have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving week!! 
The Secret Garden 11-18-2017

Original Post written 11/17/2012 and all pictures are from today 11/18/2017:

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

If you read this particular Psalm, you will see that it repeats the second part of this verse, "For His mercy endures forever", after each and every verse, all 26 of them, in fact!...I think the Psalmist is trying to make a point...read it through and see what you think!  If you don't learn any other thing from this Psalm, you will definitely learn that the mercy of the Lord endures forever!  And that is a good thing to know when you are going through deep water, difficult times, health issues, financial crisis, loss of loved one or impending loss of a loved one, governmental concerns, etc., etc., etc., no matter WHAT you are going through, it is good to know and believe and experience the fact that the mercy of the Lord endures forever, and for THAT, we should always "give thanks".

 11/18/2017: This male cardinal was quietly resting and safely hidden in the bushes outside my kitchen window.
I give thanks for his beauty and for the reminder that we are safely hidden in Christ from the onslaughts of the enemy of our soul...

Now on to the rest of the message for today...I would like to give thanks today for several things.  This being Thanksgiving week here in America, many of us are counting our blessings and expressing our thanks for all of the marvelous ways God has cared for and blessed us with His abundance and mercy.

This past week (2012) I have been a little quieter than usual.  Maybe you hadn't even noticed...but it's true.  A week ago I had some dental work done, and in the process my tongue was injured.  Not seriously, but enough to make it extremely sore and painful, whenever I eat and even when I talk too much. (Which for me, is always).  I never realized how much I took my tongue for granted until it became so difficult to do the normal things I enjoy doing...like eating and talking.  With the big Thanksgiving Dinner coming up in the very near future, I am anxious for my tongue to be healed.  I've thought about how awful it would be to never have a normal tongue...not only would it be extremely difficult for me to eat like a normal person, but I also would not be able to communicate in a way that others would understand or appreciate. Not that others always enjoy my communication that much, but what if I could never talk normally again...or sing praises to the Lord with my heart AND voice? I know that I would be very sad.  Perhaps some others who know me and love me might be a bit saddened by that as well.

So today I am taking this opportunity to thank the Lord for my tongue. I thank Him for the many ways He has used my tongue to sing praises to Him throughout my lifetime, and to share His love and words with many.  I know that I have not always used my tongue for these holy and beautiful purposes. There have been many words that I wish I had never spoken, and things that I have said that have brought pain to others. I have been known to speak without thinking many times, and then living to regret my foolishness.  I am truly sorry for those words spoken in haste or in anger or in denial of my own guilt.  Thankfully, the mercy of the Lord endures forever, and He has already forgiven and forgotten these broken promises and regrettable lapses of good judgment, and His mercy has already covered all my sin and folly.

During this week of remembrance of God's mercy and blessings, I list my tongue at the top of the list. This is only the beginning.  There is much more to follow.  But for today, this will do.

Thank you, Lord, for my tongue, my voice, my ability to communicate.  May my words only bring hope and encouragement and comfort to others within my sphere of influence, and may You, Oh Lord, be glorified in all I say or do.

To quote one of my old favorite hymns: ("Take My Life, and Let It Be", by Frances R. Havergal) verse 3:

"Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only for my King,
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee."

and then from another "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues" by Charles Wesley, :

"Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad,
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the Name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease:
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life and health and peace.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

Glory to God, and praise, and love
Be ever, ever given
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven."

A few fall pictures from our "neck of the woods" today 11/18/2017:
Picture from the shelves in our foyer

Two roses blooming in the midst of the decaying leaves..."Beauty for Ashes" perhaps?
New Life springing out of the old?
Praise God for His gift of new life!!

Yes, the autumn leaves are falling, even here in sunny Florida,
where it was 47 degrees this morning!

Have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Foto Friends - A Day At The Seashore

Psalm 104:24-25

24.  "O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions---
25.  This great and wide sea,
in which are innumerable teeming things,
living things both small and great."

 After our son's wedding last weekend we spent a day at the seashore with our family from Maine.  It was a chilly, windy, gray day, but it was special and sweet in that we were together for a brief time before they had to head back home. For Friday Foto Friends,  I thought you would enjoy these pictures from the seashore...there is such an artistic beauty about this that I will just leave it up to you to enjoy and furnish your own explanations and words of praise for God's artistry...

A last look at the seashore before returning home...

I hope you enjoyed this little walk along the shore with me.  As you begin your preparations for a busy Thanksgiving holiday next week, be sure to take some time to reflect on God's goodness, glory and grace.  Have a blessed and joyful weekend my friends.

Now let us surf on over to Deb's place at Breathing in Grace and see what our other Friday Foto Friends are sharing!

(Pictures taken at Crescent Beach, Florida, just south of St. Augustine)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Kingdom Blessings for God's Children

Some words of hope and encouragement for God's children.

Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
1.  "The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
2.  It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice,
Even with joy and singing.

The  glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
The excellence of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
The excellency of our God.

3.  Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.

4.  Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
"Be strong, do not fear!

Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God;
He will come and save you."

5.  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

6.  Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the dumb sing..."

10.  And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing,
with everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

May your day be filled with joy and gladness...and may all sorrow and sighing flee away.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Such A Perfect Beginning...

I know many of you are waiting to see some pictures from our son's wedding yesterday.  I couldn't wait to see them myself!  Here is just a sampling of some of my favorite moments from the last couple of days:

I'll start with the picture you've been waiting for the most:  May we present to you Mr. and Mrs. Steiner:

Now I'll go back a couple of days and show some other favorite moments:

Here is our handsome, TALL 6'4" grandson and his sweet mama arriving the day before in their fancy rental car. They look like a couple of celebrities...which they are to us.  They flew in from Maine for this special occasion:

After their arrival, we had to get our grandson fitted into his outfit for the wedding. Here Grandpa is helping with his necktie. We had an anxious moment when we discovered that he had already grown out of the pants we had purchased for him to wear (per earlier measurements), and so some last minute changes had to be made in a big hurry.  We were glad that we had made a decision early on not to try and fit him with a suit for the occasion, because it would not have fit...

 Proud Grandson and Grandpa...I never thought one of our grandchildren would get taller than my hubby, who was 6'3" in his prime, but this young man has reached heights we never dreamed of!  And at age 18 we are not sure that he has finished his growing streak...

So later that evening our two lovebirds came together for the rehearsal of their nuptuals:

The bride's father and other family members arrived safely from Minnesota earlier in the week for the big occasion. Here below the bride "Rose" is with her dad, practicing that long walk down the aisle.  I like this picture not only for the two people in it, but also the sign behind them which reads:

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you..." Matthew 6:33

A fitting verse for the way God has brought our son and his bride together...and a wonderful verse upon which to build their marriage.

 And here is the bride and groom, on their wedding day, listening to the pastor exhorting them to live holy lives before the Lord...I love the way the bride is "glowing" in this picture...

"You may kiss the bride:"

Here is our family together after the service, our daughter in law and grandson from Maine, the Groom and Bride, yours truly, my hubby, and our youngest son

 Now this was a very sweet and perfect moment...our grandson, the Best Man, was offering a toast to the Bride and Groom...off the cuff, not rehearsed, and extremely well done. We were all amazed and pleased at the gracious words that he offered in his toast to his Uncle and new Aunt.  I am still hoping that someone was recording it and will share it with us, because I neglected to do so...

By the way, the cupcake wedding cake you see behind them was a joint effort of the bride and groom.  The groom built the tiered tower for the cupcakes in his workshop, and the bride baked and decorated all the cupcakes herself.  It was really beautifully done.

So here they are cutting the cake...

And here they are so sweetly feeding each other...

And sharing a sweet cake filled kiss

There were so many happy moments throughout the day, but I won't bore you with everything. This next picture is one of my favorites;;;I think my son is singing "I'm forever blowing bubbles"  as they make their escape for their honeymoon...

My sister captured these next two pictures of me hugging first the Groom, and then his Bride. We were pretending to cry as we said good-bye, but it was truly a happy, happy moment...(and a little funny too, as I "cried", "Oh, my baby, my baby!!! Good bye to my baby!" and his bride was getting a good laugh at us...

So happy to embrace our new "daughter in love"...

And away they go!!!

See? I really was smiling...

My sister Doris had picked these two beautiful roses in her garden before they left to come to the wedding. She intended to give them to "Rose", the bride, but forgot...and so she gave them to me after the newlyweds left for their honeymoon.  I brought them home and put them on the kitchen windowsill to remind me to pray for them each new day of their lives...

 And so, this is the end of a perfect beginning...This story it to be continued....