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!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Are You Being Renewed Day by Day? Updated 7/23/13

Originally written 7/25/11, just about two years ago exactly...Not much has changed since then...I'm still on the "downward slope" physically, but I'm working on the renewal part inwardly day by day...how about you? Some good things to think about here...

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day."  2 Corinthians 4:16

I had to ask myself the question that I wrote as the title of this particular blog: "Am I being renewed day by day?  What exactly does this mean?  The verse quoted above states that "Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day..."  

Can this really be me?????
It is pretty obvious to me that my "outward man (woman) is perishing"... The signs are all there...a wrinkle or two (or three or four) here and there, a stray gray hair (again, more than just a few) sticking right straight out, much more visible because of its tenacious curl (friz) and coarse texture refusing to obey the smooth curves of the rest of the style I'd worked to hard to achieve.  A few extra inches to pinch in places I'd prefer not to have noticed by anyone..numerous creaky joints that crack and pop and slow me down when I'd prefer to run a little faster...yeah...my outward woman is definitely on the "downward" slope.  Even with all the tender loving care I've tried to lavish upon myself over the years...age has a way of catching up with us sooner or later, whether we like it or not.

So what about the "inward man"...is there something I can do about that to keep it from going downhill as rapidly as my "outward man"?

If we go back to verses 8-9 of this same chapter, we can read about the trials and tribulations of the Apostle Paul  and the other early church leaders:
"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed..."
And yet, even though these early missionaries for Christ suffered many things at the hands of those who wanted to see the cause of Christ stamped out before it could firmly take root...these saints of God persevered...held fast...moved forward...yes, even though their outward man was perishing...their inward man was being renewed day by day...
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."  2 Corinthians 4: 17-18
Have you ever experienced these kinds of trials in your life: hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down?  I think we all have had our share of heartaches, disappointments, anxieties and sorrow.  Most likely we didn't feel like it was a "light affliction" at the time...and we probably also didn't feel like it was working a "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" while in the midst of the struggle. 
But one thing I have learned in the midst of such difficulties is that when I allow myself to let God take control of the situation...I begin to understand that the work that is taking place inside of me is actually the renewing process that God wants to accomplish in me...it's not something that can be seen outwardly...at least not at that particular moment in time, but it is working that metamorphosis within that is eternal and complete.  My insides are being restored, renewed, revived and preserve for eternity. 

Now that's change we can live with!!!  Amen?  Amen!

Father God, Help me to let you finish the work that You have begun inside of me.  Help me to not just grab for the immediate temporary repair jobs...but to seek and desire that eternal restoration that will give the most rewarding and lasting results!  I pray this in Jesus' Name...Amen.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Tribute to My Mother-in Law

For my Mother-in-law's 90th birthday celebration we were asked to write or tell our favorite memories about her life.  Since I have been her daughter-in-law for almost 44 years, I have so many memories from which to choose...and for a rather verbose person like me, it is very difficult to sum up 44 years of memories on a 3"x 8" index card provided for that purpose...so here is what I ended up writing...in Honor of My Mother-in-Law:

"Nanny Steiner" with 4 of her 5 grandchildren at her 90th birthday celebration

Vivian Ruth Martin Steiner
Happy 90th Birthday
July 23, 2013
"Mother Steiner" with her two sons at the beach circa 1960
My husband to be John on left, and little brother Billy on the right

What can I say about my Mother –in-law, Vivian Ruth Martin Steiner? She likes to tell the story about when I first became her daughter in law and I said to her that I wasn't sure what I should call her.  I called my own mother, “Mom”.  So she suggested that I just call her “Mother”.  That worked for me.  Then a few years later we started to call her “Nanny Steiner” (not to be confused with her mother, “Nanny Martin”)…when she became a Grandmother to her first Grandson, our first son, Benton.  Then along came Matthew, and then a few years later, Scotty…and then many years later her first Great-Grandson, Noah…and then she was blessed with two more grandchildren from her son Billy and his wife Peggy; Nicholaus and Shannon.  So now we all just call her “Nanny” to keep it simple. 

My first memory of “Nanny” was when I had just started to date her oldest son John, (back in 1968) and he took me to a football game to watch his “little brother Billy” play.  I was a bit nervous as we climbed up into the bleachers and sat down behind his parents.  When he introduced me to them, I
"Mother Steiner" with her two sons today, circa 2013
was awestruck by how pretty she was…and my first impression was that she looked like a very wealthy and sophisticated lady! Her beautiful blond hair was styled in a modern French twist, and she was wearing a stylish light tan rain coat.   When she smiled at me I knew immediately where John got his wonderful smile from. I thought to myself that she reminded me a lot of Jackie Kennedy when she smiled, only she had blond hair instead of brown!  Needless to say, she made quite an impression on me. Oh, and her friendly, down to earth way made me feel very much at ease right away.  I was only too happy to become her first daughter in law several months later.
Me with my sweet mother in law and her baby doll "Pearl"
having a fun time together.
(I don't have any "old" pictures of us handy, so these recent pictures
will have to do)

As I got to know “Mother” better, I began to realize that she was a humble but exceedingly generous woman, who loved her family more than anything.  I soon learned that she and my father in law were the kind of people who would literally give you the last shirt off their backs if they thought you needed it.  There was not a selfish bone in their bodies.  I was to see that truth in action over and over again throughout our years together, especially once the grandchildren came along.  As a young mother, I was pretty dogmatic about doing things “my way”, and I wasn’t always receptive to a lot of “advice” and what I thought interference from anyone else, including my own parents.  So when my in-laws often showed up on our doorstep on Sunday afternoons with bags full of groceries and special things for the grandchildren, I tended to be a little frustrated.  But God was teaching me about love and family relationships…and about the ways He chose to provide for us.  He knew what we needed, and He often provided through the loving generosity of my
My In Laws coming to visit the Grandkids on a Sunday Afternoon
mother in law and father in law. They were not wealthy people, but what they had they gave joyfully.  It gave them so much pleasure to spend that time with us and to feel like they were contributing to our welfare…and I began to understand that I needed to learn humility and to accept the gifts with grace and thankfulness. 

Easter Sunday with the family
We have shared so many experiences throughout the years…she has been there throughout our many moves…always ready to lend a hand in packing, unpacking, helping with the kids, the cooking, the dishes, the laundry, whatever I needed.  She has been with us through the good times and the difficult times…don’t know what I would’ve done back when our son Matthew was having brain surgery if she had not come up to spend that time with us.  She has been our sons’ greatest cheerleader and advocate when they played sports, graduated from school/college, and a constant support and voice of wisdom when they’ve gone through some difficult times as well.  

My mother in law is full of funny stories and laughter…and still has that beautiful smile. As I look back over the almost 44 years of being a part of the Steiner family, I can say with all honesty that I have been marvelously blessed to have been the daughter in law of Vivian Steiner.  She has become more than just “a mother in law”, she is my “mother –in –love”, and I am honored to be her “daughter –in-love”.   


Happy 90th Birthday Mother!


Love Always,
Your “#1” Daughter in Law

Pam

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Little Walkabout






Update 7/21/13
Had to add a few more pictures of a cute little gecko lizard I discovered hiding right in front of me tonight.  I think he is vying to become the next "Geico Gecko"!  He was so well hidden I almost walked right past him, but he kind of did a "psst! Over here! Don't you want to take MY picture?"...so how could I resist?



Enjoy these other pictures from my evening walkabout...








Have you ever noticed the texture of decayed wood? Pretty interesting, I think!


Won't you come walk with me and enjoy this lovely evening?  (Remember
you can click on each picture to enlarge)
I usually post these kinds of pictures on Facebook, but tonight I thought I would share them with you instead.

 In the interest of my physical and mental health, I am attempting to take a "walkabout" our property here in the forest each evening, weather permitting.  My trusty camera now travels with me whenever I go out the door, because I have learned that if it gets left behind, there is always something begging me to take its picture.

So here are the pictures I couldn't resist this evening...and I may add a couple others from previous walks that are noteworthy.  Keep in mind that as I walk about this property I am filled with thankfulness for all that God has provided.  This home belongs to Him...He is only loaning it to us for our pleasure and ministry to others.  Ministry in that we are committed to use our home for God's honor and glory...as a place to minister to others as they are brought to our door.  Little by little we see that happening, primarily as a place for friends and family to come for rest and recreation and fellowship.  As time goes by, we hope to expand that to others as God directs.  In His time....but that's another story.       
The pathway into the area where I hope to someday put our little guest cabin...
Perhaps you will come visit when it gets built!




   Here's the first thing I saw as I stepped out of the house tonight:



This little brown bunny is almost a "pet"...he's gotten pretty fearless of us
as long as we let him eat the weeds and birdseed from the ground...









This lovely male cardinal was chip chip chipping away at me, warning
me or his beloved mate that I was getting a bit too close for comfort!






Hey! I thought I told you to get out of here!!! Chip Chip Chip!!!



Fascinating tree...
Believe it or not, this is a genuine Bear Trail, going from my
back yard into the woods.  I haven't had the nerve to walk back into this trail yet...
I don't want to meet up with Mama or Papa Bear face to face...



Well, I hope you have enjoyed this little walkabout with me tonight.
Have you ever taken notice
of the things that God has placed outside YOUR open window...or in your immediate neighborhood...Open your eyes and look around you! You will be amazed at what you see.
You may not have birds and rabbits and bear trails, but you might have people smiling and waving at you as they pass by.  You may have a pet doggy or kitty or a neighbor or friend who looks forward to taking a walk or just sitting and visiting together.  Take time to notice the things and people God has brought into your world. Take time to say thank you to the Lord for His blessings.  You may be surprised at what or who you will discover!  
Good Night!




Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Surprise "Secret Garden", or The Backwards Faucet

For those of you who have followed the developing saga of our "Camp in the Woods" house for the past year and a half, (Click here for a previous story about this), you will know that I love everything outdoors (and indoors) about this place.  Even though it is far from being perfect, it is a place that I absolutely love to call "home".  It seems as though every day God reveals something new and oftentimes exciting or unusual, if we just take the time to notice.  I have also discovered that sometimes there are surprises hiding right under our noses, waiting to be discovered...if we would only take the time or make the effort to look at things a little differently. Today was one of those days...

It all started when I was discussing with our adult son who lives with us that I wished there were some better places in our yard to sit in the shade and relax in the afternoon.  He mentioned that the area in our back yard under the huge magnolia tree is probably the shadiest spot and the most unnoticed and unused.  I thought that was probably because we couldn't get any water back there to irrigate the grass (sand) and it is in the unfenced portion of the back yard that is devoted to the bear trails back into the woods (and our clothesline, which unfortunately doesn't get much use either).  It is a lovely spot, however, just beyond our "Bird Sanctuary"
outside our bedroom windows.

So, this afternoon I decided to test his theory and ventured out into this little used section of the back yard. I've always wanted to develop this area, but again, the lack of water access makes it difficult to water any grass if we were to try and plant some, and right now the ground cover is primarily sand and weeds. There is an old water faucet there under the magnolia tree, but repeated efforts by all members of the family to turn it on have failed. As a matter of fact, even the previous owner said he didn't know why it didn't work, but it just didn't.  There is also an old homemade stone bird bath sitting there under the tree amongst the wild ferns, but it was filled with dirt and debris and I never took the time to clean it out and see if it would still hold water, since I would have to carry the water to it from quite a distance.

Until today...for some reason I decided to give that spigot one more try.  I attempted to turn it in the direction it should be turned in order to open the valve and get water. It did not work.  So then I turned it in the opposite direction, which heretofore had not worked either, at least I don't believe anyone had even tried to turn it that way.  For some reason, today it seemed to have more turning radius that way than before.  I kept turning and turning, and suddenly I saw a little trickle of water trying to emerge from the faucet!  Then a chunk of dirt popped out (or maybe a dirt dauber's nest?), and "voila"! Beautiful water started to flow, hesitantly at first, but soon more than just a trickle...pure, clear, cool water flowed from that funny little faucet like it had just been waiting forever to be set free!
Wow! With this new inspiration, I looked again at the little bird bath sitting there in the midst of the decaying magnolia leaves, and it seemed to be calling to me to set it free as well!

I started scooping out the dirt (and uprooted a few juicy earthworms in the process), and then poured the fresh water into its basin over and over again, flushing out the sand and debris until it was finally holding fresh, clear water, ready for the birds to come and quench their thirst and freshen up their dusty feathers!
After these new revelations, I looked at this previously ignored, overgrown, richly composted area under the magnolia tree with new respect.  Its previously unappreciated potential was now being revealed to my senses as a surprising place of beauty...a kind of "Secret Garden" that had been hiding right under my nose all this time.  Of course, being the seeker of all things quiet and peaceful and relaxing here in this "Camp in the Woods" home, I knew I had found a new spot to sit and drink in God's creation and become inspired anew.
I wonder why it took so long to discover this gem in the rough? I know I had looked at this area longingly often enough, but had ignored the possibilities because it wasn't meeting my expectations for simplicity and perfection. It was causing frustration because the mechanical aspects of its development were not cooperating with me.

Makes me ponder further, how many other "gems in the rough" are we missing, not just here in our home, but perhaps in our families, relationships, jobs, and even in our spiritual life because things don't work the way we think they are supposed to work?  Maybe the successes we are longing for are still out of reach because they don't meet our "expectations for simplicity and perfection".  Could it be that we are looking at such "opportunities" the wrong way, and missing the beauty of the blessing because it doesn't cooperate in the normal way we think it should be?  

Hmmm, maybe we should take a lesson from this backwards faucet and give it another try in a different perspective...and unlock the "previously unappreciated potential" that is just under the surface.  

My  "Secret Garden" Surprise
Ponder this:

"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty."  I Corinthians 1:27

What things might God be revealing to YOU today?

My thanks today to my blogging/facebook friend Susie at Recovering Church Lady, for her words of inspiration that helped me see the potential in my little backwards faucet today. Thank you, Susie! God works in mysterious ways!

Postscript:  I have discovered that "My Secret Garden" is a lovely place for a family portrait:

Don't you agree?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Random Journal Day...A Prayer for Defeating Discouragement June 6, 1985!

Today is the day for the July Random Journal Day Link Up, where those of us brave enough to do so open up an old journal from way back when and dare to share it with you and the rest of the world.  You never know just what you're gonna get when you open up an old dusty journal from off the shelf (or out of the dresser drawer, like mine), and within reason, we print whatever happens to pop up. 

 For my post tonight I thought I would look for something written around the 4th of July back in the past, but the closest thing I found was from June 6, 1985!  This was written when we were searching for a new place of ministry, and we found ourselves in the throws of despair.  I'll lay it out for you here, and you might see why I decided to go ahead and share this one...

"Believe it or not, I'm almost willing to stay in ___, if God so directs, that I will do!  I'm willing to TRUST HIM in that decision. HE knows what is best for us.
Right now we really need help in defeating the spirit of discouragement.  After our annual church council, we were really excited and hopeful for our future.  But upon coming home, doubt and despair have crept in.  
Lord, I ask You today to cast out, in the Name of JESUS, all thoughts and feelings of doubt, despair, and discouragement in both my husband and me.  Lord, You know how Satan has tried to thwart what You have wrought in our hearts this past week at "council".  Lord, help us to keep our eyes on THEE, so that we may continue to have faith and believe in You, without doubting.  Forgive us, Lord, of our fears and doubts.  FILL us with Your Holy Spirit, Renew us, and Help us, I pray, Oh Lord Jesus.
I write this prayer so that I can refer to it again--as we see You at work in our lives, Lord.  I PLACE MY TRUST IN YOU.  AMEN.  Thank  you, Lord."

As I looked further in my journal for this particular year, I realized that in just two months' time God had answered our prayer, and we were on our way to an exciting new adventure in ministry! Although I was feeling a bit of sadness at leaving behind the friends we had made in the current place of service, I wrote the following:

"The people here at our (current) church were very understanding~although sorry to see us go. It isn't easy to say good-bye to people~but when the Lord says "GO", we must obey!"
I concluded with the following:

"Thank You, Jesus, for all Your blessings on me!" 


One of the "many" places we served...this was back
in the mid 1980's... Just one of the ways that God blessed us.
Yes, thank you Lord, for Your blessings on us!

 Dear friend, if you are battling despair and discouragement today, think about the little prayer I prayed above, and pray it with me.  No matter what the situation, God wants to carry you through to victory.  Commit your life to Him...He will not lead you astray.

"Lord, I ask You today to cast out, in the Name of JESUS, all thoughts and feelings of doubt, despair, and discouragement in me.  Lord, You know how Satan has tried to thwart what You have wrought in my heart through __________ (you fill in the blank).  Lord, help me to keep my eyes on THEE, so that I may continue to have faith and believe in You, without doubting.  Forgive me, Lord, for my fears and doubts.  FILL me with Your Holy Spirit, Renew me, and Help me, I pray, Oh Lord Jesus." Amen.

Then remember to praise Him for His promises and blessings.  Even when you don't feel like praising...the very act of giving thanks to Him opens your heart to receive the blessings He has in store for you.  If you don't believe me, just try it for yourself. Give God a chance! He will not fail you.