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, August 30, 2012

A Letter to a "Friend"

          This past Sunday morning I read a blog post by one of my facebook friends who is dying from cancer. He is a young man with a lovely family, and the doctors have pretty well given him up to die.  He is struggling with this prognosis, as any young person (or old) would be,  and has been writing out his feelings and fears and anger through his blog posts. It is therapeutic for him to write so honestly and freely about his feelings I am certain, but it is somewhat painful for others to read...at least it was for me.  I do believe he is a Christian, and even though he knows the Lord and wants to go to heaven, he is seriously questioning "why" at this time in his life. 

When I got home from church that morning I sat down and wrote him this "comment" on his blog post. 

      Dear ___,
      I read your post this morning before going to church, and I was deeply burdened for you. Not knowing how to respond, I had you strongly on my heart as we began the service. Our pastor introduced a song to us that I had never seen before, even though it is in our hymnbook. ("Jesus Is the Song", The Baptist Hymnal, pg. 552) The pastor told us the story of the composer of this hymn. His name was David Danner. He wrote this song at age 28. Why am I telling you all of these details? Well, according to our pastor, David Danner died very suddenly, at the age of 42, of a heart attack. Totally unexpected, no warning. Prime of life. I don't know if he was married, had a family, or what else he had done in his life. I'm sure he had hopes and dreams for his future just like you. But he left the world with this song. Obviously, when he wrote it 14 years prior to his sudden death, he expected to live a long life like everyone else. I don't know if he had been given a warning that he would not live past 42 years if he would have written this song. Perhaps it is better not to know the future. But one thing is certain. Every man, woman and child on this earth has a date with death. It could be today, tonight, or 6 months from now, or 50 years from now. No one has any guarantees or promises of a long life.

Jesus lived to be 33. He lived His life every day preparing others for their eventual passage from this life into the next, because that is precisely WHY HE came...to give us a "next life". That is the promise He made. Eternity in heaven with Him. Not eternity on earth with anyone else. If this life is all we could expect, maybe for some it would be enough. But for most of the world, it would be a great disappointment. I thank God everyday that this world is not my final home. I know, I am not a young 33 year old person anymore with a young family. I've lived a pretty good life, almost 62 years, with a great family. But I can tell you now, if God were to take me home today, I would be so thankful to enter heaven's gates. I would go with the assurance that it would not be long before my family would join me, because time is irrelevant in heaven. I know my family here on earth would miss me, but they would also have the same assurance that they would join me in heaven some day. That is our great hope...our promise...our real future worth living (dying) for.

These are the words to the song that David Danner wrote. I thought of you as we sang every verse, and prayed for you. I prayed that somehow, Jesus would fill you with His love and peace and comfort today, and that Jesus would indeed become your song as well:


"JESUS IS THE SONG"

     "My Savior is the Lord and King, He has control of everything.
He loves me and He bids me sing. He gives His song to me.

(Chorus)
Jesus is the song of life, Jesus is the song of joy, Jesus is the song of love; Jesus gives His song to me.
He calms my hurts and dries my tears, He gives me strength to face my fears. He sends His grace thro' all my years, He gives His song to me. (chorus)
My Savior, Jesus, I'll adore, My weary soul He will restore,
I'll praise His name forevermore, He'll give His song to me.
(Chorus)


      I may be coming across as not being sympathetic and compassionate to your plea today. Please do not take it that way. My heart is breaking for you and your family. I have a son a few years older than you, who also has the same disease as you and a young family. So I understand where you are coming from. Most importantly, Jesus understands your feelings as well. He does not blame you or reject you because you have doubts and anger. He loves you, and He wants to wrap His arms of love around you and calm your fears. He wants to be your song as well. And that is my prayer for you: That Jesus will bring His peace to your heart so that you can sing again. Amen.

Dear Friends, Please keep this young man and his family in your thoughts and prayers.  It is a frightful thing to be walking through the valley of the shadow of death...I pray that he will feel the comfort of the Lord as his "Shepherd", and that he will be able to say along with the Psalmist David in the 23rd Psalm (vs. 4):

"I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me..."
Thank you. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rainy Sunday Afternoon = Cookie Baking Time!


As you know, on rainy afternoons I often find myself in the kitchen baking up something good to eat! (Click on this link for "Things to Do on a Rainy Day") This afternoon we had one rain storm roll through after another...fortunately the power didn't go off...and it was a perfect afternoon for baking some cookies! (Click on this link for another rainy afternoon of cookie baking with my son) Although I couldn't convince my baker son to assist me this time, he did come take a few pictures on his cell phone camera when the batteries died on my camera after just one picture!   So we were able to capture this delightful rainy afternoon adventure to share with you!

I'm sorry you can't smell the wonderful cookie aroma that is currently wafting through our house....making me drool for another warm cookie fresh out of the oven! I also regret that you are not here with me to taste these delectable Oatmeal Cookies along with a cup of tea.  Someday you will just have to come on over and see what's cooking! (Better wait for another rainy day, however!)

Ok, here we go!  All the ingredients are ready and waiting!
I love homemade Oatmeal Cookies probably more than any other cookie!
Somehow I have convinced myself that they are actually good for me! You know, the oatmeal,
raisins, chopped walnuts...those are all good things, right?
Never mind that there is also 2 cups of brown sugar and a cup of shortening in there...
along with the eggs, flour, salt and baking soda. Oh, and the Watkins Vanilla (double strength!)
Did I forget anything?
Oops, I just noticed that I had faintly written in 1 Teas. of Cinnamon...and I left it out this time! I knew I'd forget something!
But they were still good.


(Remember you can click on pictures to enlarge for better viewing)

This is my favorite Oatmeal Cookie Recipe.  Today I made one alteration.
I did not mix in the raisins with the whole bowl of dough. 
Instead I put a few raisins on most of the cookies,
and then put some "Craisins" on a few others for variety.
They turned out really good!!
Oh, I also used the Crisco "Butter flavored" shortening
instead of the regular shortening, since we had bought
some by mistake and
needed to use it up!  It added a good flavor to the cookies as well!


The finished product! They sure were good!
Thanks for stopping by!
Come again soon!!



Me taking hot cookies out of the oven. Can't you smell them now? Why don't you cook up something
yummy with your family on the next rainy afternoon!  You know you are craving
something warm out of the oven right now yourself!! Go ahead! Enjoy! It's Ok!!!

Thank you for joining me on this rainy afternoon!
See you again next time!

Y'all Come!

"Be of Good Cheer..."

"But the following night the Lord stood by him (Paul) and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome."  Acts 23:11 (NKJV)

Last week I reposted a post I had originally written a couple of years ago when I was unemployed and wondering  "When is the Cavalry Every Going to Get Here?".  In the update on that message I stated that just twelve days after writing that post I had indeed been called to a new job, one that I had not even known existed on the date of that original writing.  Looking back and realizing that fact was a source of great encouragement to me and to others who find themselves in similar circumstances today.  I also mentioned that my husband is currently in a position of waiting on God to show Him the next step for his life...whether or not he is to remain "retired" (not by choice), or get back to work in some manner of ministry.  He is still waiting today...but it seems like God keeps giving him little glimpses and messages of hope along the way.  Today it was from the above scripture reading in our pastor's sermon at church.

The scripture reading itself was filled with words of encouragement, but as our pastor continued to expound upon the words written there, he used another Bible translation, The Holman Christian Standard version, which said,
"The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, "Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."
He then further amplified and applied this verse to the congregation this way,

"Have courage! God will give you a job to do!  I have more work for you to do!"...
That in itself was a word of hope and encouragement to a man sitting in a dry and thirsty land, feeling forgotten and alone...but the other part was the first portion of that verse that was almost overlooked...and it was possibly the best part of the verse:

"The Lord stood by him..."
Oftentimes we forget in all of our anguish and despair and searching that we are never alone...we don't realize that at our lowest point in life, like the Apostle Paul who was about to be "pulled to pieces" by the Pharisees and Sadducees...(see Acts 23:10), "The Lord stood by him".   Likewise He is standing by us in the midst of our trials and tribulations and difficulties of life.  He is there beckoning to us, "Be of good cheer..."  "Have Courage", ....paraphrasing, Just as you have served me in the past, you will serve me again...

I wanted to share this with you, my friends today, because I know there are many of you searching for hope.  Some of you have given up, lost your courage, and have no "good cheer" in your hearts.  But open your eyes...look around you...perhaps you will catch a glimpse of the Lord close beside you...

Jesus in Disguise, by Brandon Heath  Check this link to listen to a new song I've had in my head lately  that kind of speaks to that...oftentimes we don't recognize "Jesus in Disguise" right beside us...speaking to us through a pastor's sermon, a friend's words of encouragement, a message sent through a blog, an email, or a card or letter from someone you may not even know personally.  "Jesus in disguise, Jehovah passing by..." in the face of a stranger on the street...or in the seat next to you...or in one of your own loved ones...

God uses many different ways to reach us.  If we aren't listening to the most obvious messages...then sometimes He sends His messenger to us in disguise.  Be ready...be watching and listening...He may be speaking to you right now...in disguise...but don't miss the opportunity to glimpse "Jehovah passing by..."

"Messiah IX" by Michael Belk, in "Journeys with The Messiah"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The View from My Open Window at 4:30 a.m.

"Then God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years." Genesis 1:14

"He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite." Psalm 147:4-5

If you happened to be awake around 4:30-5:30 a.m. this morning, and if you happened to look up at the sky, you would have seen a marvelous sight.  I happened to be awake, because our neighbor's dogs were doing their usual routine of barking and running through our back yard, chasing the bears who also happened to be crossing through our yard on their nightly route from the woods behind us to the woods beside and in front of us.  This routine changes from time to time...sometimes it is just after  we drift off to sleep that the dogs start barking when the bears roam through our yard, and we jump up and look out into the dark to see if we can see them, which we can't because it is too dark, but we are now awake and looking anyway. But lately it has mostly been in the wee hours of the morning, just before dawn, and before we really need to wake up, you know, when we are getting in those last few precious minutes of soundest sleep just before the alarm goes off?  Well, anyway, that is life in the woods.  At least, that is my life in the woods lately...but I'm not complaining. 

So back to my original story.  This morning at 4:30 a.m., when the neighbor's dogs started barking and running through our back yard chasing the bears, I noticed that the sky seemed brighter than usual.  We have a large window in our bathroom that looks into the back yard, where I usually run and try to see if I can see the bear passing by on his route that runs directly outside that window...(and I actually did see him last Sunday morning in exactly that spot at that exact time...but that's still another story).  However, this morning I didn't see the bear or the dogs, but I saw something else that caught my eye.  I looked up in the sky to see why it was so bright. I wasn't expecting it to be a full moon...that comes later this month (and actually we already had one earlier this month...this year we are having two full moons in August, and the second one later this month will be called a "blue moon".  But that's another story too.) 

What I saw was a brilliant "Crescent Moon" and many magnificent stars.  The sky was a perfect shade of midnight blue and completely unclouded.  I noticed two particular "stars" that seemed to be shining even more brightly than all the others...and one seemed especially close to us.  I thought perhaps it was the International Space Station, as I have heard that it can actually be seen from earth as it passes by. But this light was stationary...it wasn't moving as the ISS does...and it was sparkling like a colossal diamond solitare.  I finally convinced my husband to wake up and come look at it with me.  He was so appreciative. (not).  I told him it had to be the ISS because it seemed so close to us.  He thought I was so intelligent and thanked me for the information, and went back to bed and started snoring immediately.  I continued to gaze at the stars, and I wanted so badly to run outside and look up at the heavens...but the bears and dogs were still running around out there somewhere, so I thought I'd better just enjoy the heavens from inside rather than end up in heaven prematurely!

I was so enthralled with my amazing discovery that I was determined to take some pictures with my camera.  I am certain you will appreciate them, so here they are:
My Amazing Discovery



The Crescent Moon



Not sure what this is...it's supposed to be what I thought was the ISS, but I guess
I blurred it...
Now I am certain that you will want to get me a camera with a real telescoping lens so I can take some real pictures of the stars and moon.  These aren't too bad considering that it was taken through a glass window in my bathroom with a very basic camera at 4:30 a.m.

So after telling my kids and my husband that I was certain that I saw the International Space Station this morning at 4:30 a.m., and impressing all of them with my knowledge of astronomy, I decided to look it up online to see if that could have been what I really saw.  And instead, I found out that what I REALLY saw was VENUS and JUPITER!  Which is in some ways even more impressive! 

Click this link for more information about what I saw this morning in the sky. 

This is a pretty good picture of exactly what I was looking at this morning.  I don't know if you will be able to see it again tomorrow morning, but why don't you set your alarm and get up and try?  Just think what you are missing when you sleep all night long! 

I hope you have enjoyed this little lesson on stargazing.  I look forward to hearing all about what YOU can see from your open window tomorrow morning!  I know you will thank me for sharing this information with you!

Have a blessed day my friends!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

When is the Cavalry Ever Going to Get Here??? Reposted for those who are still waiting...

This is a repost from March of 2010, when I was still waiting to get back to work after being unemployed for almost a year.  Interestingly enough, I started a new job just 12 days after I wrote this...a job that on the day that I wrote this post I did not know existed...and I am still working there today! 

I am reposting this now for those who are still in God's waiting room...including my own hubby.  He has also been unemployed for over a year now, and has about decided that God must have run out of ideas of where or how he could ever serve Him again...and yet, even this past week God gave him some glimmers of hope that showed him that he was not forgotten. Nothing has actually materialized, and there isn't even a place or a name that could identify what God might be planning...but He sent little messages of encouragement our way through His special ambassadors...and that was enough to alert us that the "cavalry" may yet come over the hill...

So here's what I wrote way back then when I was feeling totally forgotten and abandoned...I share it  with you now in case you find yourself in a similar place...

March 1, 2010:
Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Have you ever come to a standstill in your in your life? You've prayed and asked God for direction, and it just seems as though He's taking forever to answer your prayers? It has often seemed to me that God was deliberately waiting until the very last minute to take action when, in my opinion, He could have solved the problem weeks ago! I must confess that I often get very frustrated with God and His apparent slowness of action. I want to see results NOW! THIS VERY MINUTE! I don't WANT to wait until the eleventh hour and then hear the "cavalry coming over the hill!"

In my heart I know that God has not ever forgotten me...and because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He will not ever forget me. But often my faith is weak, and I begin to think that the situation is hopeless...it's just too late...God can't possibly fix it now!

I was feeling this way the other day, and the verse came to mind where Jesus was talking to the father of the demon-possessed child, and He said in Mark 9:23-24,
"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"
I identified with that father and cried out, "Lord, I DO believe you can do all things, but help my unbelief--those little doubts that come into my mind when things aren't moving swiftly enough to satisfy me! When I can't see how on earth you're going to work out this problem!" The thing I need to remember is that God is NOT going to work out my problems according to the WORLD’S standards--He is way beyond and above that...His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts....

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us:  
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

Knowing this, I can wait and trust in You, Oh Lord.

I find further comfort in Isaiah 41:9-10
"You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away. Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Thank you, Lord, for Your words of comfort and encouragement, just when I needed it most. Help me to remember to acknowledge You in all my ways...and to know and believe that You will direct my paths. Lord, I do believe, and thank you for helping my unbelief! Amen.

So, friends...what are YOU waiting for today?  Or has your "cavalry" already come over the hill to assist you?  If so, praise God!  And if you are still waiting for answers...hold on tight!  Help is on its way!

Friday, August 3, 2012

"Obedience or Sacrifice~Which Will it Be?" Random Journal Day/Blog Hop

I was about to give up on posting anything for this week's "Random Journal Day", until I stumbled upon the following entry that was written over 10 years ago...January 22, 2002, and I thought perhaps God wanted me to remember what I'd written back then... and others might benefit from this message today as well. So here goes:

Tuesday, January22, 2002
"It would appear that I am home "sick" a lot, because that seems to be the only time I can find the time to write!  I am home from work today with a bad cold or sinus infection.  It is a gray, cloudy day, but doesn't seem to be too cold.  (We live in Florida, so I'm sure it wasn't too cold, even in January)

I have been thinking about yesterday's devotional reading from I Samuel 15:22-23 ~
"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?   Behold, to obey  is better than sacrifce, and to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king."

Although this was directed to King Saul, it has application for us today.  I know that I must obey the voice of the Lord in all things~in every area of my life~regardless of what sacrifices may have to be made. 

Sometimes it is easier to say, "But Lord, look at all I've done for you~And look at the sacrifices I've already made to serve You."   And God says, "Yes, child, I know you have been faithful in many things~but you must continue to obey Me and trust Me in ALL ways.  Don't give in to the "martyr" syndrome.  Keep your eyes fixed on ME, Jesus, the Author and finisher of your faith...
"Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:2

A song I am listening to while I write is "Where There is Faith": 
"Where There is Faith" by 4Him (click on this link for a video of this song)

"I believe in faithfulness
I believe in giving up myself
for someone else;
I believe in peace and love,
I believe in honesty and trust;
But it's not enough~

For all that I believe
may never change the
way it is,
Unless I believe that
Jesus lives~

Where there is faith
there is a voice calling
'Keep walking,
You're not alone in this world~
Where there is faith~
There is a peace like a
child sleeping~
Hope everlasting
in Him Who is able to
bear every burden,
to heal every hurt
in my heart~
It's a wonderful, powerful place,
Where there is faith."

Christ's bequest of peace:
"Peace I leave with you~My peace I give to you~ Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:27

Isaiah 26:3-4 says:

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength."


Back to the present:  I guess that message must have helped, because I didn't write for quite a while after that...life became very busy.  God opened a new window of opportunity, and we were soon called to obey  and move to another place to serve the Lord after a time of rest and recuperation from some difficult things we were going through during that time.  God restored my sense of peace and gave me the faith to keep going in the face of some very hard obstacles.  That doesn't mean that life became perfect and I never had any more struggles with obedience or trust...no, that seems to continue in cycles...but thankfully God continues to meet me in those hard places and carries me through.  He keeps calling to me to
"Keep walking...you're not alone in this world...where there is faith..."  (4Him)

 
So what about you?  Have you found that it is better to obey than to sacrifice?  

Postscript:  In writing a response to one of my blogger friend's comments (see Modern Day Disciple below) I added these thoughts that I felt needed to be added to the body of this post:

Yes, it is during those times of trial and testing that I discovered the riches of God's grace, mercy, and love. I also found out that it IS truly better to obey than to sacrifice...oftentimes our "sacrifices" make us feel self-righteous and holier than thou. But when we humble ourselves and OBEY God's word and His leading in our lives, our sacrifices seem very small compared to the joy and glory of following our Master and Lord in His steps.  


Be sure to check out what my other blogging friends are sharing from their journals today over at Beneath the Surface-Random Journal day link/blog hop day 19  You are welcome to jump in and join us anytime!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is Love?

LET GOD'S WORD SPEAK:

Excerpts taken from the Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verses 3-21~

"Jesus answered and said unto him,
"Most assuredly, I say to you,
unless one is born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God."

"Do not marvel that I said to you,
'You must be born again.'
The wind blows where it wishes, and you
hear the sound of it, but cannot tell
where it comes from and where it goes.
So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

"For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have
everlasting life."

"For God did not send His Son into
the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved."

"He who believes in Him is not condemned;
but he who does NOT believe is condemned already,
because he has not believed in the name of the
only begotten Son of God."

"And this is the condemnation,
that the light has come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light,
because their deeds were evil.
For everyone practicing evil hates the light
and does not come to the light,
lest his deeds should be exposed.
But he who does the truth comes to the light,
that his deeds may be clearly seen,
that they have been done in God."


Excerpts taken from The First Epistle of John, Chapter 4~

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits,
whether they are of God;
because many false prophets have gone
out into the world.

By this you know the Spirit of God:
Every spirit that confesses that
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh
is of God.

And every spirit that does NOT
confess that Jesus Christ has come
in the flesh is NOT of God.
And this is the spirit of the
Antichrist, which you have heard
was coming,
 and is now already in the world.
You are of God, little children,
and have overcome them,
because
He who is in you is
greater than he who is in the world.

They are of the world. 
Therefore they speak as of the world,
and the world hears them.
We are of God. 
He who knows God hears us;
he who is NOT of God does NOT hear us.
By this we know the spirit of truth
and the spirit of error.

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

He who does NOT love does
NOT know God, for God is love.

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.

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.

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another."

"Forgiven"

Amen.