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!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Early Morning Splendor

Today is a special day...it is our 48th wedding anniversary!! And to start the day off right, we spontaneously decided to watch the sunrise together. So we grabbed our mugs of hot coffee (hubby) and hot tea (me), jumped in the car and drove to the public boat ramp on Lake Kerr, which is about five miles from our home, and arrived just in time to witness this:

 Our selfies...early morning bed head sans makeup...this is as good as it gets...

 last picture from the car as we drove away...

When we arrived back home we sat down to read our morning devotions.  I picked up Sarah Young's Jesus Calling and read what she wrote for today's date...and I thought it quite profound in "light" of what we had just experienced...

"Meet Me in early morning splendor.  I eagerly await you here.
In the stillness of this holy time with Me,
I renew your strength and saturate you with Peace.
While others turn over for extra sleep or anxiously tune in to the latest news,
you commune with the Creator of the universe.
I have awakened in your heart strong desire to know Me.
This longing originated in Me, though it now
burns brightly in you.

When you seek My Face in response to My Love-call,
both of us are blessed.
This is deep mystery,
designed more for your enjoyment than for your understanding.
I am not a dour God who discourages pleasure. 
I delight in your enjoyment of everything that is
true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable.
Think on these things,
and My LIGHT in your will shine brighter day by day."
Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, August 16.

Could anything have been written more perfectly for this morning?

As well as Sarah Young's inspired devotional writing for this day, she also included a reference to Isaiah 40:31, which is one of my favorite verses ever, but especially perfect for today:

"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."

This verse was a special confirmation to us today because just yesterday we were grappling with a major decision, and finally made our choice to back away from our desired plans and "dreams" and wait on the Lord to show us HIS plans for us. Once we surrendered our will to God's will completely, we had renewed peace and strength...and were finally able to sleep at night again.  So today's experience and these words from God's Word and from His servant were exactly what we needed to hear today, to reaffirm to us that we had made the right decision.  

I ask you, dear friends, Isn't God good?  Isn't our Lord just awesome in His works to the children of men?

"Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
Psalm 107:8-9

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A New Author!! - A New Book Review!!

One of the greatest joys I've had in being a blogger has been meeting so many wonderful new friends!  What I am impressed with is the quality of people I have met...beautiful, inspiring, sincere, and gifted Christian women, who share their love for the Lord and His people through their writing and comments.  I started writing my blog as a result of frustration over wanting to write a book and not having the courage to move forward in that effort.  I still haven't gotten to that point of book authorship...but many of my new friends have taken the plunge and achieved their goals for the glory of God.

One such friend I am pleased and proud to introduce today is our friend Cecelia Lester, also known as "quietspirit" on her blog Following My King.  I have followed Cecelia for several years and have always appreciated her honest and forthright blog posts.  To quote her own statement on her blogpage,  "I have a mission statement that I try to follow in my life as well as my writing. "Quiet Spirit writes with the focus to minister to those who hurt, to them who search for God, and those who wish to have a closer walk with Jesus."   I must say that Cecelia has stayed true to her mission statement in every way.

Cecelia has recently published her first book, Times of Trouble Bring Rays of Joy...Thoughts of God and His Word, which can be purchased HERE on Amazon.com

This wonderful book is the result of Cecelia's journal writing during a difficult period in her life.  As she sought God's guidance for direction in her life, she began writing her thoughts and feelings as she worked through personal struggles, and this book is a reflection of what the Lord taught her during this time.  Cecelia writes that she "felt God was beside" her, guiding her hand as she wrote her thoughts on paper.  

The format of Times of Trouble Bring Rays of Joy is divided into six sections, each with several devotional journals that end with a place to reflect on your own personal thoughts as to how the Lord is speaking to you on this topic.  Cecelia shares thoughts on such subjects as Time Management, Strength, Humility, Compassion and Mercy, Faith, and Peace.  

I have found that reading these devotionals is a wonderful addition to my normal daily time of meditation and scripture reading. I appreciate being able to verbalize my own personal thoughts as I respond to the questions pertaining to each topic. 

Cecelia stated in her introduction that she hoped that the reader would "gain a greater knowledge of God and His Presence" as this book is read.  Yes, Cecelia, I can testify that I do feel Christ's Spirit in your writing...and I appreciate so much your insights as written through the direction of His Holy Spirit.  

Yes, Times of Trouble Brings Rays of Joy is a book well worth adding to my library and my daily devotional time.  Thank you, Cecelia!  Your gift of writing is a blessing to me! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Seeking The Lord

"Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near."
Isaiah 55:6

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;"
Isaiah 55:1

"Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
"This is the way, walk in it,"
Whenever you turn to the right hand

Or whenever you turn to the left."
Isaiah 30:21

"...He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul."
Psalm 23:2
"Surely goodness and mercy 
shall follow me
all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 23:6

Dear Friend,
Are you seeking the Lord today?
He is very near...do not turn Him away.
Turn your heart to the Lord
and seek His face,
and He will hear you and answer you.
He has promised this in His Word.
Just put your trust in Him,
and He will guide you each step of the way.
Have a blessed and glorious day!
God is with you.

(Pictures taken at a lovely spot on the shores of Lake Galilee, near Hawthorne, Florida)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

New Summer Reading Book Review: "Redemption"

If you have followed along with my previous book reviews HERE on the Adventures in the Glade Series and the and the Glade Series HERE, then you have probably been anxiously awaiting my book review on the next book in the series, REDEMPTION.

My apologies to Martha Jane Orlando, the author of these wonderful books, for my taking so long to write this review (and the next one!).  I finished the books a little while ago, and then got sidetracked when things got busy and interesting here at our house (my son got engaged, stuff like that) and I put it off so long that now I probably need to re-read the book to be sure I don't confuse it with the others! But let me proceed...I believe it will all come back to me...

Just to refresh our memories, this series of adventure stories began back when ten year old Davy Murray absolutely hated the thoughts of having to spend the summer at his step-father's Grandpa's farm in the mountains.  The farm and surrounding mountain lands and forest were inherited by Davy's step-father when Grandpa Will passed away. Davy was seriously angry at  having to spend the summer where there was no computer, TV, or any of his friends.  Not only that, he really didn't like his step-father all that much either, and would not allow himself to show him any kind of love or respect. So the chances of Davy having a good time this summer were pretty low unless something changed drastically in his attitude.

Interestingly, Davy soon discovers that Great-Grandpa Will's farm is much more than just a place to spend the summer without modern conveniences or friends...he meets up with some very interesting "critters", better known as "The Old Ones"...ancient talking creatures who live in The Glade...and only Davy can see or hear them! 

The seeming "star" of the group is now known as "Racer"...previously known as Grey..."The True Squirrel of the Old Ones." (photos from my OWN "Old Ones" living here in my own part of the forest...and since reading these books I find that I look at these living creatures much differently than I used to...) 
And then there is "Reverend", the "True Owl of the Old Ones"...
(this giant Barred Owl showed up on our fence one morning recently...I wonder if he could be related?)
and there is also "Prancer", who came to carry Davy back to the Glade to rescue "Reverend" when he was in dire danger of dying at the end of the last book, (REVENGE!)
And we also meet "Sharp Eyes", the hawk...who has a very important role to play in keeping a "sharp eye" on the villainous Cousin Ronnie and his cohorts...

As REDEMPTION begins, Davy has collapsed and is having a beautiful dream or vision...very real to him...and he finds that he is safe in the arms of "The Good Shepherd".  As he is being bathed in the light of the truth of Who this Good Shepherd really is, Davy realizes that this One is the ONLY One who could save his friends and their beautiful glade from total destruction.  And as The Good Shepherd anoints Davy with a special oil to bless and protect him, He sends Davy, "The Chosen One", on a mission to bring healing to REVEREND and to restore peace and order back to the Glade once again. 

As in the previous stories, wicked cousin Ronnie continues to wreak havoc in the lives of the "Old Ones" and is trying to steal the property that belongs to Davy's step-father, which includes the magical, mystical land of The Glade.   If he is able to accomplish this, The Glade will disappear forever, along with the lives of all the marvelous ancient creatures known as "The Old Ones".  Davy realizes that he cannot save them in his own strength, but he learns to rely on the power and strength of The Good Shepherd to see him through.  And in this story, "The Old Ones" themselves come up with plans that hopefully will stop Cousin Ronnie from carrying out his underhanded schemes...but it could be at great risk of putting them all in serious peril.

Again,  Martha Jane Orlando magically weaves this story to make it seem so very real to life that I find myself listening more carefully to what God may be saying to me through His own creation all around us.  There is an underlying story here that draws us closer to "The Good Shepherd"...and helps us to realize that He is at work in so many areas of life that we may not have understood before. 

As we come to the end of REDEMPTION, we see Davy lying restlessly on his little cot at night, wondering about what was going to happen next.  To quote:

"Davy purposely turned his eyes toward the stars twinkling through the towering oaks. What is it, Lord? What will I find? What will I know? The stars winked their comforting acknowledgments, but offered no answers.  It's okay. I'll find out tomorrow. Racer will be with me then.  I'll find out tomorrow."

And with that, we must close this chapter and wait until next time, when I will pick up where we left off and tell you about the next book in the series, REVELATION.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace..."  
Ephesians 1:7

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Foto Friends - Morning Walk in the Sunlight

Perhaps I should change the title to "Morning Walk in the SONLight!"  Because that is what it felt like to me.  Walking in the morning light of God's SON:

"Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all day long,
and in Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength..."
Psalm 89:15-17

"All things were made through Him,
and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the LIGHT of men.
And the LIGHT shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it."
John 1:3-5

As I took my quick little "walkabout" the neighborhood early this morning, I couldn't help but notice how lovely the sunlight was filtering through the trees and filling the morning with God's glory. These pictures are from around the neighborhood, and ending up in the Secret Garden:

Everything was calm and peaceful in the Secret Garden. I wanted to linger there a while and just drink in the beauty of God's Presence.

You may not appreciate the "beauty" of spider webs, but how can you not appreciate the intricate design of these amazing webs...kind of like "dinner platters" stretched out, waiting to be served!

"The eyes of all look expectantly to You, 
and You give them their food in due season.
You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing."
Psalm 145:15-16
Even the ones that look a little bit like an alien!

I discovered these little "Brown-eyed Susans" smiling up at the SONlight this morning...right in my own backyard.  I was astonished to find them there because I had planted wildflower seeds in that very spot last year, and none ever came up or bloomed...and now here they are, smiling at me and rejoicing in the SONLight!
I guess it helps that we haven't mowed this section of the yard in a while because we've been getting so much rain.  
The only down side of this particular moment was that I got a tiny little tick on my leg and had to go inside and remove it as quickly as possible! Note to self: Always remember to put insect repellent on your bare legs before walking in the weeds!!!  As a fun note: This verse in Psalm 145 might be appropriate here:

20.  "The Lord preserves all who love Him,
but all the wicked He will destroy."
(especially ticks!)

But more seriously and joyously:

Psalm 145:21
"My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
and all flesh shall bless His holy Name
forever and ever."

I hope your Friday is a beautiful day, walking in the "SONlight" of the Lord.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why I Love My Open Window -Updated

Good Morning Friends!  I can't believe it is already August 9th...this summer has just flown by. Down here where we live many children have already gone back to school...or they will be any day now.  Personally, I am looking forward to fall...can't get here soon enough for me! I'm getting weary of the muggy, buggy, too hot to trot days...I can't even seem to think of anything new to write...so this post is a repeat from about four years ago!  But nothing much has changed! I still love my "open window" here into the woods...and now that I am retired, I get to enjoy it every day!

I wonder if I could have a seat in this Adirondack chair and take snooze?

I've had people ask me ever since we moved out to the forest why would we ever want to live so far out from "civilization"?  I want to ask them, "Why do YOU want to live in the middle of too much civilization?"
Too much crime, too much traffic, too many crowds, too much noise, too much strife. Too many rules and laws about such petty things, like how many shrubs you can plant in your own yard, and what kind, and how close to the road.  What kind of grass you are allowed to grow...and what days are you allowed to water your yard and if you are caught watering on the wrong day or too often, you could be fined.  What color you are allowed to paint your house, how many cars you are allowed to have in your driveway at any time, what kind of flags you may fly (if any), how long you may leave up your Christmas decorations or any other kind of decorations. How long your company is allowed to visit...and the lists go on and on and on. You may not believe all of those rules, but I assure you they do exist in communities right near where you live, if not exactly where you live.

I know people who never open their drapes or blinds because they don't want the neighbors to look inside their house, or for the burglars to see what they have that they might want to steal.  There are people who are afraid to walk outside of their homes for fear of the neighborhood hoodlums or even the nosy neighbors.
They live in fear and darkness all the day long. I cannot imagine living like that.

Okay, I know many do not have any other choice. And I apologize if I appear critical of your situation when you may wish you could be somewhere else.  But I started writing this because I wanted to answer the question about why I would ever want to live so far out from civilization.    True, I don't have many shopping opportunities out here in the woods, nor do I have many choices of places to go out to eat.  I don't really have too many close friends or neighbors, although we are working on the "friends" part little by little. And it is true that I have to drive over thirty miles one way to go to my place of employment everyday. With today's skyrocketing gas prices that is a bit of an inconvenience and expense that I'd prefer not to have. But I can't do much about that yet. I still need to work to pay for all this wonderful lack of civilization!     2017 Update:  I retired almost two years ago, and then the gas prices went down...for which we are thankful, even though they seem to be creeping back up again...but we don't have to go anywhere very far...so I can't complain!

The title of this blog is "Closed Doors, Open Windows."  Our choice of a place to live is the result of a closed door on a home that was far too expensive for us when my husband lost his job due to job cuts, and no longer worth the amount owed. Miraculously, God "opened a window" of opportunity for us to get out from under that burden and placed us in a home that not only was affordable, but exactly in the type of place my heart had always longed for.  The woods. The country. The "boonies", if you wish.  Back to nature. A place where I could leave my window open for a view upon the exciting beauties that only forest living could provide.  Nearly everywhere I look I see green trees and leaves...

Looking out from the sun porch.  The fence is there to keep the bears out of our
patio/courtyard area. Although that doesn't always work, we found out recently!
(This picture was taken in 2013.  That is now where The Secret Garden grows!)

looking out into my back yard from my bedroom window

You never know what you might see when you look outside my open window:
Looking out my kitchen window we saw this big fella came to get a drink of water one morning

This little guy has been visiting us rather frequently the past few days.

Now this might be a little more than I want to see outside my
open window, but he IS a harmless black snake...and he
takes care of the mice, rats, and even other poisonous snakes!
This little cottontail has become the closest thing to a pet we have. He
seems to feel safe here in our back yard...and we enjoy talking to him. He always
listens and twitches his ears at us as if he really knows exactly what we are saying.
You never know where you might find a new friend peeking out at you!
Then there's these funny lizards who love to show off their "colors".
They think they own the place and show us every chance they get just
who's the boss around here!

Oops! Excuse Me! I didn't mean to interrupt a private moment!

What are YOU looking at?
2017: This beautiful female Summer Tanager was perched in the Secret Garden one afternoon this week...just sat there waiting for me to come take her picture! Isn't she lovely?

Okay, I know you probably aren't all that impressed with all my "wild friends" and neighbors.  I suppose I just get overwhelmed with the beauty I find all around me, and I love to share it with you. We don't have a fancy home or great amenities to offer. What we have here is Peace. Joy. Love.  We have hope. The presence of God is in this very place.

Perhaps your place in the middle of "civilization" isn't as bad as I've described above. You may have lovely neighbors, parks, friends, churches, places to shop and enjoy lunch with a friend.  God may have placed you in that exact location to be a lighthouse to others...a person who can be a true friend and neighbor to those in distress. Your home may be exactly what you've always wanted, right in the heart of the city. And that's wonderful...for you! It's where you are supposed to be. And the presence of God is also in that very place.  If you look around you, you can find many things to make you rejoice and be glad for where you are.

I guess it is all in the attitude of the heart.  When I lived in the city I loved where I was at the time, because I knew that was where I was supposed to be. Now that I am in the country, I love where I am, because this is where I am supposed to be. If I had to move back to the city, I would probably be like "Granny" from the Beverly Hillbillies, and you'd have to tie my rocking chair to the top of the truck to get me to move...(just kidding) ...no, seriously, if that is where I believed God wanted me to be, I'd be there, with a smile on my face.  (well, at least I'd try to smile!)

One thing I have learned (and am still learning) in this life is this:

"...I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  (Verse 13:) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:11-13

And to add to that, I have also learned this:

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19

So, no matter where we may be living, whether it be the country or the city, be content. And if you think that is not possible...claim verse 13 above...and believe what verse 19 says. God will give you the strength you need to be content and to endure the things that you may not fully love about where you are...and if necessary, He will supply the means to get to a better place, in His time and His way.

I pray that wherever you may be tonight, whether it be where you want to be or not, that God will give you His peace and comfort and strength. That He will give you the courage you need to step out on faith to change your situation if that is what is necessary. Or that He will give you that sense of knowledge and gratitude that He has blessed you exactly where you are.

"Finally, brethren, (sistern?), whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy~meditate on these things."
Philippians 4:8 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Day Spent With Special Friends

Do you have any special friends...you know the kind...the friends that have been friends what seems like forever?  They've been in your life in one way or another through good times and bad, happy and sad?  Fun times and deep times of spiritual growth and service...
Uniquely gifted, uplifting and giving...
Special Friends.
They don't happen to come along very often in life.
If you are fortunate enough to find such friends, hang on to them with all you've got! 
They are a rare treasure, not to be taken for granted.
We have been blessed with such friends...true gems in the rough stones of life...
And here is one such couple.

We went to visit them at their unique "RV" retirement home, and also at the log home of their son and his family...

Below is our friend's woodworking shop, where he has created many unique and wonderful things throughout the years, in addition to helping his son and daughter in law build their log home.

And this is his wife's "workshop", where she creates many lovely things, in addition to playing beautiful music in between her sewing, quilting, crafts, and recycled jewelry creations

The quilt my dear friend is holding below is another of her wonderful gifts to me.  I already showed you one quilt that she repaired for me a couple of months ago HERE.  At that time I showed her this old quilt that had been lovingly created by my husband's grandmother many years ago. (I forgot to take a BEFORE picture!)  It was a wedding gift to us from his grandmother. (48 years ago!) "Nanny Martin" had made a quilt for each of her grandchildren to be given as wedding gifts.  The only problem was the fabric that she used was very old...possibly scraps of material dating back to when her own four daughters were very young.  As a young bride I did not know how to properly care for a quilt...and after I used it quite frequently and perhaps a little carelessly, I tossed it into the washing machine...only to discover to my horror that the fabric was literally falling apart in many places. Even the batting was lumped up and coming out of the quilt...and I was so ashamed and heartbroken.  I had to hide the quilt away so that my mother in law would never see what an awful mess I had made of that lovely old quilt...especially after I tried to piece it back together by sewing new cloth onto old...and you know what that does...

"No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment;
for the patch pulls away from the garment, 
and the tear is made worse."
Matthew 9:16

Too bad I had apparently never read that verse as a young bride...

So anyway, back to the present...my dear friend told me after examining the poor old quilt that she thought she could rescue the remaining good parts of it and create something that would still be useful and beautiful...and here is the AFTER picture of her restored creation:
 She was able to use many of the unspoiled squares, making a few repairs to them, and placing them on a totally new backing and border. It is now more of a twin or double bed size coverlet, as opposed to its previous queen size.  But it is amazing that she was able to restore and use that much of that poor old quilt!!!

And here is a tearful me with my hubby trying to hold this quilt up in between my cries of joy so she could take our picture...

And then she gave me another unique creation, which is actually still a work in progress...This is an old picture frame with an antique photograph of someone neither of us know, so my job is to replace that with an old picture of my husband's grandmother...and the picture is surrounded by some of the quilt scraps from this quilt, and interesting old pieces of jewelry, buttons and lace, making a marvelous collage of ancient treasures.  I am going to finish it with a picture of "Nanny Martin", and perhaps a few of her old buttons and pieces of jewelry.  I'll post a picture of that when it is complete.

 So you can understand why I feel so blessed and thankful to the Lord for such friends as these!

After recovering from my shock over the miraculous restoration of our quilt, we turned to other interesting things in my friend's "workshop".  Below are some extravagantly decorated Emu egg shells!  The family used to raise emus there on the property, but no longer.  These are a few of her amazing creations!   Then notice the white feathery headdress beneath that...it was one of her granddaughter's wedding headdresses that my friend created!!

Of course I had to try it on for size!  Isn't it lovely?  Don't you think I should wear this to my son's wedding in November?  Well, maybe not. They are trying to "keep it simple"...and this is anything but "simple"

Next my friend modeled her "Minnie Pearl" hat...yes, back in the day our friends actually used to have a weekly "hoedown", and my friend portrayed "Minnie Pearl" to a "T".  Somehow the price tag has disappeared from this hat...but when she used to do her "act" it definitely had a price tag attached! Such fun people!!!!!
My friend also repurposes, recreates, designs jewelry, using vintage jewelry collected from family and friends and thrift shops.  Her creations are highly sought after by ladies wherever they see her work!

Our friends haven't always been playing and creating in their workshops.  When they were a little bit younger, in between their real jobs of being a building contractor (him)  and being a mayor of a small town somewhere in NC (her), they also took many groups of young people (teens) on summer mission trips to locations all over the world!  Here's some of their souvenirs from such trips...

 As you can tell...God has blessed our friends with the gift of giving of themselves to many, many people throughout the years...and sharing Jesus wherever they go!!!

After spending time inside we ventured outside to tour around the family property.  No, this isn't what you think it is...it is just an "ordinary" (not) tool shed!  So clever...

Their son, (with Dad's expert carpentry help) is restoring/creating this old "woody" vehicle...

And then we enjoyed visiting inside our friend's "retirement home"...their RV...and I thought this sign over her kitchen window was so appropriate and cute:

After which we enjoyed spending some time sitting in the gazebo, relaxing to the sound of water falling over the lovely fountain, watching the hummingbirds come and go, and listening to the woodpeckers in the trees behind us

Following this we toured the inside of their son's log home, but I won't show you too much more...except these interesting critters:

I just can't begin to tell you how blessed we feel to count these dear people as friends.  These verses sum it up pretty well...a perfect description of our friends and the kind of friendship we have had over the past almost 40 years...

"But above all these things put on love, 
which is the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, 
to which also you were called in one body; 
and be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,
teaching and admonishing one another in 
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
Colossians 3:14-17

Enough Said!

Praise the Lord for such Special Friends!