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 28, 2013

Walk Away



"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

As seen recently on Facebook.com





If you regularly follow this blog, you may remember that I recently wrote a post about a new possibility  for our lives...a possibility of an "open window" of ministry opportunity primarily for my husband, but one that would affect our family as well.  I was expressing my own concerns and a bit of anxiety over the added "commitment of time, energy and love" that this would involve as I learned to "stretch my loving" beyond my present sphere of life. I also stated, "I just have to learn to listen to HIS VOICE...and know when it is God calling me as opposed to when it is the expectation of others calling me."

Well, God spoke, and we listened. I say "we", meaning my husband and I. And when God spoke, He did not encourage us to move forward with this "opportunity", but to "walk away".  I want you to know that it took courage to do that. However, we both realized that not to walk away would have caused more than just some "concern and trepidation".  It could have meant disaster for us in more ways than one.  The day we made this decision to "walk away" I saw this little sign on Facebook.com that I have inserted here to my right. This message was a word of confirmation to me that we had made the right decision, even though it was difficult to do so.

Having served for many years in one kind of ministry or other, we are people who take these commitments seriously.  We don't just move from one thing to another without much prayer and a type of "fasting"...fasting of the soul, fasting of the heart, fasting of the mind.  We search our hearts to be sure we are listening to the right voice...not the voices of others' expectations, guilt laden thoughts, desires to further our own little kingdom here on earth...but THE VOICE of God,  that "word behind you, saying, 'THIS IS THE WAY, WALK IN IT...' "     and if we can't hear that voice clearly, then we need to stop, look, and listen a little more closely. To not heed that voice could mean imminent disaster.  I speak from experience. 

I think this is good advice even if the possible "opportunity" is not especially a ministry...but perhaps any kind of new employment, relationship, activity or other event that may have the potential to lead you in a different direction other than your present situation. Take the time to count the cost of any new venture, whether the cost be regarding finances, time, energy, or physical/emotional involvement.  If you are not certain you will have the resources available that are necessary to complete the task before you...and it is not really a matter of "faith" that God will provide, but a matter of recognizing possible danger signs that to move ahead could be perilous to your health and home, then wisdom says it is better to "walk away".  

I really like what that little sign above says, "walking away, with  your head held high is dignity."  There is no shame in walking away from a situation that you know would only cause serious hurt or sorrow to you in one way or another. Yes, I know there are many situations that we ought to hang tough and stick it out...but in this case, I am speaking about reading the danger signs ahead, and listening to the VOICE of reason...i.e., GOD'S VOICE, and trusting Him to guide you in the right path. It does take courage, and a lot of faith that you are making the right choice, but when you have any doubts at all about moving forward, it is better to wait and take time to listen for that still small voice telling you which way to go. It could save you and possibly others a whole lot of heartache later.

So, sometimes those "Closed Doors" are not all bad.  And not every window should be opened. But when it is right, you will know it, if you are listening to the right "voice".

What do YOU need to walk away from today? Be sure to pray and give God a chance to speak to you before you make any decisions...and then, if that is what you believe God is saying to your heart, "Walk Away"....with your head held high.

May you have God's peace and blessing in your heart and life today. Amen.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stretching My Love

"Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left..." Isaiah 54:2-3a  
Illustration showing the successive stages in the erection of a tent.  The tent would be made of goatshair cloth.
(Ralph Gower, The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times)


In this morning's devotional reading at home before breakfast I read the following verse from Luke 13:29:

"They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, 
and sit down in the kingdom of God."

And after that my husband had the opportunity to preach at a little country church not too far from our home with the possibility that he may be extended a call to become their pastor.  It's been a few years since he has served in that capacity; as a matter of fact, it has been so long that his favorite suit did not fit when he tried to get into it this morning...and I didn't even have a pair of pantyhose without runs in them, so we went "casual"...which was actually fine, since everyone else was "casual" as well. Do you know that some stores don't even carry pantyhose anymore? Whatever happened to the racks of  "L'eggs" in every store? And when did they stop putting them in those neat little egg shell containers?
Remember them? I don't wear dresses very often these days, and I don't have the kind of legs that should be seen bare in church. When you work indoors all the time and don't get out in the sun much, people have to put on sunglasses to look at my white legs. But, I digress...this is not sounding very spiritual for a potential pastor's wife.

In thinking about this possibility of entering back into the arena of full time ministry, I do so with some concern and "trepidation".  Not fear so much as careful consideration. There are many things to consider. It is a commitment of time, energy, and love.  Yes, love.  If you don't have love for the people you are serving, it will be a very difficult place to be. I know that not everyone is always easy to love. Sometimes, believe it or not dear friends, even I am not easy to love! Just ask my family. If they are honest, they will say that's true.  (Okay, hubby and kids, you don't have to be so quick to agree!)  But I want to be honest myself...I know that I do not always love others the way I should. There are times that I can be too quick to judge by appearance or circumstances and think unlovely thoughts about others. I can be selfish with my time and my energies and gifts. I can withhold my acts of involvement because I just don't want to get involved...or I am too tired, too busy, or too "I just don't want to do that today".  I am human. I need God's help to be all that HE wants me to be.

Guess what?  I believe God just wants me to be me.  I really don't have to perform a certain way or do things that I really am not qualified or trained to do. But I do have to let God love through me. If He has called me to this place...He will give me the grace and strength and energy I need to do whatever it is He asks me to do. I just have to learn to listen to HIS VOICE...and know when it is God calling me as opposed to when it is the expectation of others calling me.  I will need a lot of discernment...and love.

The closing "prayer" of the little devotional I was reading this morning was actually written by a "Sister" Melannie Svoboda...yes, a "Sister" as in a "Nun", one who has committed her life to service for Christ. (No, I am not a Catholic, but that doesn't matter. We are sisters in Christ.) This is what she prayed:

"Inclusive God, stretch my loving beyond where it is today."

I like that. I need that. Even if we don't receive the call to serve in this ministry, I still need to learn to "stretch my loving beyond where it is today."  Trust me, I really do need that.  I need to be prepared to "Enlarge the place of my tent..." because things just might be getting busier and fuller in the days to come. And I need to get a new pair of "L'eggs" really soon.

How about you? What might God be calling YOU to do today?
For more about our history in the ministry click here

The Choice Is Yours UPDATED August 2013

(Originally written 8/2011)

"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...
But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  Joshua 24:15



Trooper John

There once was a young man who came to a point in his life when he knew he had to make a decision.  He had a great future ahead of him as a career patrolman, albeit, a dangerous and difficult future, full of life or death decisions and actions, but a rewarding career and the fulfilment of a life-long dream (at least up until that point in his life).  He was an extremely conscientious officer, taking his position as a peace-keeper and people protector very seriously.  No crisis call was too hard for him. He was right there, "Johnny on the spot", literally, when the calls came.  He risked life and limb to get to the accident victims as quickly as possible without jeopardizing other innocent people's lives in the process.  He was a natural born patrolman, and he actually enjoyed the thrill and excitement of the chase and the sirens blaring.    But there came a day when the Trooper had to make a choice....Like a siren's call it came to him, through a series of frightening events and different signposts along the highway of his life, he realized that he was being groomed and prepared to be a different kind of peace-keeper...a peace"maker", if you will, a new type of "life-saver".  Yes, as the newpaper article below describes quite well, "He Traded His Badge for the Bible."   
(double-click on picture to enlarge to read, then
back arrow to return to blog)
  So, you may ask, "Did the road get easier or safer for travel in this new life?"  Well, not exactly.  The road to the ministry was full of dangerous potholes and detours, some which threatened the lives of our precious children and the sanctity of our home itself...the very home in which we had vowed together like Joshua, the leader of the Israelites who led them into the promised land,
"But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
There were many days in which this "trooper" for the Lord and his young family longed to turn back and "go back to Egypt", just like the Israelites did when things got tough and there was not enough meat to eat and money to pay the bills and people were reviling and ridiculing us for our choice of the "narrow way".  When our children were injured both physically by accident and even in some ways emotionally by cruel and thoughtless people we longed to scoop them up and carry them away to a place of safety and security and yes, even prosperity so they wouldn't have to suffer.  I admit it, we are human.  We felt the pain of frustration, anger, hurt, and even pride.  But for some reason, God would not let us go back.  He said,
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." II Corinthians 12:9
I wish I could say that I was as strong in my faith as the Apostle Paul and that I could cheerfully say, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 12:10)
But there were many days that I didn't like being made stronger...I didn't want to see my children go through such difficult times because of the choices we had made...and see my husband oftentimes humiliated by people who thought they were God's ambassadors to keep him humble and poor, and yet, how could  I/we turn back? We took our calling very seriously...and the words of Jesus in Luke 9:62, which said,
"No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Please don't misunderstand me...I am not saying that all of our thirty-some years of ministry were awful and terrible...no, quite the contrary.  There were many, many years of joy and blessing and honor and peace. They were the best years and the worst years...but they were exactly where we belonged.  Yes, God did give us the grace that was sufficient for us.  He did help us to grow stronger in the process.  He took us through some deep valleys, but also placed us on some high mountaintops.  Sometimes the road was rough and perilous, sometimes it was smooth and pleasant.  Whichever the case, I can honestly say, God was always with us. He has never left us nor forsaken us.

I go back to the book of Joshua again, this time to the first chapter and the ninth verse...and this verse became my life verse throughout those years of journeying through what seemed like the wilderness in many ways...
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Yes, we have traveled down a long road, actually now for forty-two (updated 2013: Forty-Four) years together as man and wife.  We are not currently serving in a church ministry as before, but we still have servants' hearts.  We actually long to end out our days working together again in some ministry capacity...but that is for God to decide.  He knows what is best for us.  I can tell you one thing, God's Word is true and He is faithful.  He IS with us, and has ALWAYS been with us, and He will NEVER, EVER leave us, wherever we may go.



Rev. and Mrs. John Steiner, 1977
At our first church pastoral position


2013: John and Pam (front row)
2 of our sons: Benton and Scott (back row)

Our extended family in Maine:
Our son Matthew and his wife Nicole and our grandson Noah
P.S.:  As I write this updated post in August of 2013, we are in the process of contemplating the very real possibility that God may indeed be opening another door of opportunity for us to enter back into 'full time' ministry. Thankfully, it would not require a move to a new location...just a little
further drive to church than where we currently
worship.  Please be in prayer for us as we seek
God's face in this venture. Only God knows what
is best for us and all concerned...and we don't want
to step out of HIS will for us.  Thank you!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Miry Clay

Does anyone else remember singing this old Spiritual, "He Took My Feet From the Miry Clay"?
"He took my feet from the miry clay,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!
And placed them on the rock to stay,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!

Refrain
I can tell the world about this,
I can tell the nations I’m blest,
Tell them that Jesus made me whole,
And He brought joy, joy to my soul!

O my Lord did just what He said,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!
He healed the sick and He raised the dead,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!

Refrain
O Jesus washed my sins away,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!
And made me happy all the day,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!

Refrain
He died on the cross to save my soul,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!
He ransomed me and made me whole,
Yes, He did! Yes, He did!"

Refrain

I was reminded of this today as I read my early morning devotions from Psalm 40:1-5 
"I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth--
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust,
and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us 
cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered."

"I can tell the world about this, I can tell the nations I'm blest. Tell them that Jesus made me whole, and He brought JOY, JOY to my soul!"
That's all for tonight folks. Just wanted to tell you that Jesus has brought JOY, JOY to my soul! Amen, and good night!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The "Leaning" Pine Trees in our woods before...
and after
"If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth;
And if a tree falls to the south or the north,
In the place where the tree falls, there shall it lie."
Ecclesiastes 11:3

For those of you who have followed my story for the past year and a half, you know that we moved out to the forest and have been living quite the adventure ever since.  From wild bears and snakes, birds and lizards to clapping and dancing trees...and now, falling trees, we never know from one day to the next what new excitement might develop.  The past few weeks we have had pretty much daily thunderstorms, which is normal for August in this part of Florida.  However, it appears to me that the tall pine trees that grow in the national forest surrounding our home seem to be saturated, and suddenly they are starting to crack and fall...three in the past 24 hours, rather astonishingly close to our home.


Obviously this makes me a bit nervous.  Although the majority of the trees are far enough away from our house and leaning in the opposite direction so we do not have too much fear that they will land on the house, but there is no guarantee of that.  Since the trees are not actually on our property, but on government land, we do not have the right to cut them down.  So we are pretty much at their mercy.


I don't like the way this one is leaning toward our house...

I've been trying to pull some kind of spiritual lesson out of all this today...there are plenty of Bible verses about trees, but I couldn't find anything in particular that "spoke to me" today.

Except this thought:  In looking at the pictures above of the trees in the before and after shots, taken about one week apart...I can't help but notice the big bare spot where those two leaning trees once stood.  When I go outside and look in that direction, I am struck by the sheer emptiness of that space, and even though those particular trees were not exactly beautiful or even useful for providing shade in my yard, I notice their loss, and in a way, I even grieve for them.  (Yes, I am a tree hugger...That's why I came to live in the woods).    But I realize this is a natural event...

"All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."  Isaiah 40:6-8

Please don't misunderstand...yes, we will all fade and wither away someday.  But our place here on earth will be missed.  There will be a huge void in the hearts of those who love us...an empty space that cannot be filled by anyone else. Those of us who have already lost loved ones understand this all too well.  The empty chair at the table, the loss of that precious voice and laughter and smiling face.


Sure, we can always plant new trees.  And it seems as though in the course of life, new lives come along to fill the void left by those who have gone on before...life goes on somehow.


Here's an old poem I heard once.. (Actually, my husband's grandmother had an old fashioned plaque on her wall that had the refrain of "Only one life, 'twill soon be past...Only what's done for Christ will last" written on it).  It speaks to the purpose of our life here on this earth.  Just like in the verse above that says, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever",   I believe this poem expresses the truth of what our life is really all about:

“Two little lines I heard one day, 
Traveling along life’s busy way; 
Bringing conviction to my heart, 
And from my mind would not depart; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, 
Soon will its fleeting hours be done; 
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, 
And stand before His Judgement seat; 
Only one life,’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice, 
Gently pleads for a better choice 
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, 
And to God’s holy will to cleave; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years, 
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears; 
Each with its clays I must fulfill, 
living for self or in His will; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
When this bright world would tempt me sore, 
When Satan would a victory score; 
When self would seek to have its way, 
Then help me Lord with joy to say; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Give me Father, a purpose deep, 
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; 
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, 
Pleasing Thee in my daily life; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn, 
And from the world now let me turn; 
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, 
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne; 
Only one life, “twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, 
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”; 
And when at last I’ll hear the call, 
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”; 
Only one life,’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”
— extra stanza —
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, 
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
C.T Studd




How will you be remembered?
How will I be remembered?
Something to think about.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why I Love My Open Window

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!

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 sunporch.  The fence is there to keep the bears out of our
patio/courtyard area. Although that doesn't always work, we found out recently!

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?


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 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Gray Rebellion

For all my friends/family who are hiding their natural gray beauty: This is for you! My natural auburn hair is slowly fading into gray something or other...and I refuse to cover it up. People who knew me as a child knew me as a "redhead", but those who meet me now doubt the veracity of that description. 
Here is the link to the website/blog that got me started on this topic on facebook today.

http://goinggrayblog.com/2013/08/women-going-gray-blog-posts/  Read this before you move on to the rest of this discussion.

One of my "old" friends on facebook remembered me as a carrot top...which is true. I was. Here are a couple of pictures from my childhood. Sadly, too many of my pictures were black and white and did not show the true color of my hair.  This baby picture is pretty accurate:
Yes, that's me around 9 or 10 months old! See? My hair was really red!


Here I am, according to the inscription on the side:
"Me-6th grade, Age-11"

This was one of the few times I had a permanent. I can remember how curly it was. I didn't like it much.

So, back to the subject at hand...why do we cover up the natural aging process of turning gray? Is it because we don't want people to know we are getting older? Is it because we want to stay as young as we can for as long as we are able to fool ourselves or others?  Do we think that if we color our hair to cover up the gray that people won't think we are getting old?  I've got news for you!  Growing older is a natural event...and sooner or later it catches up with us.  We may hide the gray, but then the wrinkles give us away! Or the arthritis, or the age spots, or the forgetfulness. I'd rather have my naturally occurring hair color so people don't wonder why my mind or body is really old while my hair still looks young.  But then again, if I can keep them fooled for a while, I may even convince myself that I'm still young enough to do all the things I want to do before I really get old. (If my body would only let me...)

My maternal grandfather's hair turned white when he was still a very young man, and so did my Aunt Belle's hair (his daughter).  I always thought they had the most beautiful white hair. I never thought of them as being particularly old because of it. They would've looked funny to me with any other color!   My Grandma Mursch had beautiful white hair...I never saw it any other color. I guess it must have been something else when she was younger, but that is the way I will always remember her...and she was lovely. 

My mother tried to keep her graying hair covered with a dark brunette color for a while, but I remember her best with her lovely silvery gray hair. Her eyes still twinkled and her rosy cheeks still enhanced her beautiful smile. 

My Dad had red hair just like me, but his eventually turned a lovely white as well. Although I know he was a redhead and suffered all the usual torments as a redheaded little boy...("I'd rather be dead than red on the head!"  "Billy the redheaded billy goat!")...When I think of him now, I see him with his soft white hair and his big blue eyes.   Here is a picture of my Mom and Dad, the way I remember them now that they are both in heaven:

 
Here they are when they got married...Mom was a beautiful brunette, and Dad was a redhead! 

They say that our hair color helps to define our "character" or "personality".  Because I was a redhead, people expected me to have a fiery temper.  I guess you'd have to ask those who knew me best if that was true.  I never thought of myself that way.  (but I could be wrong...)

But, if hair color does define our temperament or personality, then what does that say about those who have gray hair?  Do we automatically tone down our thought processes when our hair color tones down? What about those who go bald? (naturally, not because of illness) What happens to their personalities? Do they change? Or do they simply learn to accept it and laugh it off?  Baldness is another whole subject, and one which I am not qualified to discuss. (Whew!)  

"The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head."  Proverbs 20:29

I guess that verse could be said of women as well as of men...Our glory has nothing to do with our hair color... Our glory is found in the strength of our character and spirit.  When we are finally gray headed, we may not think of that attainment as our "splendor"...but it should be a sign of wisdom and maturity...grace and charm. The choice is up to us...we can fight it, or we can embrace it and use our new found "splendor" to confound those who may think gray is bad.  I like that idea...gray = splendor! Yes!

What a splendid idea!

To all my artificially colored hair friends:

Start a Gray Rebellion!

Set yourself free!!!

Go find your "splendor" today!!!

(Now please don't throw something at me)


Monday, August 5, 2013

A Magical Golden Evening


"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. 
 Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.  
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. 
Their line has gone out through all the earth, 
and their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, 
which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, 
and rejoices like a strong man to run its race.  
Its rising is from one end of heaven, 
and its circuit to the other end; 
and there is nothing hidden from its heat."  
Psalm 19:1-6

There is something magical in this golden sky.
Mystical, mysterious, glorious, marvelous.
My sensors are tuned in to a sweet melody
heard among the swaying trees, whispering secrets in my ears.

"For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength,
and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
and sets me on my high places."
Psalm 18:28-33



"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling."
Psalm 46:1-3




"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge."
Psalm 46:10-11

These are just some of the thoughts that the Lord has shared with me tonight as I drank in the beauty of this magical golden evening. I thought perhaps you would enjoy them as well.  One more Psalm comes to my mind to share with you:

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills~
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep.





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





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























The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore."
Psalm 121:1-8


I hope that this will give you some comforting thoughts tonight as you go to sleep. 
I know it has soothed my mind and soul.
Good Night, my friend.
Peace and blessings

"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."

(Words of Jesus, found in John 14:27)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Random Journal Day: Safe in the Shepherd's Hand



Here we are back to another "Random Journal Day"... taking a walk back in time and peering into the thoughts from the past...and hopefully gleaning something positive from such a venture.  Some of my favorite blogging friends are doing the same thing....so perhaps you will take a peek at what they were thinking about years ago as well...

My trip back in time today goes to May 8, 2001. It was a Tuesday, according to my journal entry, and it was 11:17 a.m.  I always like to add the time and day to help me understand where my thinking was at the time.  Sometimes my thoughts were much clearer in the daytime than at night...but then again, not always necessarily so. I think the fact that this particular post was written in the middle of the day on a weekday means that I was still recuperating from an earlier surgery that year and had not yet gone back to work. That could explain some of my thoughts.  So here we go. Ready to get on the magic carpet ride back in time?

"My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.  NO ONE can take them out of My hand." John 10: 27-28 (Jesus speaking).

I really love today's devotional readings. (Note: I do not have the name of the devotional book written down) The title is, "Safe in Jesus' Hand".  The author, James McGinnis, says,

"Jesus is not a shepherd who leads from afar.  We're not following Him at a distance.  His hand is securely and lovingly holding on to our hand. What a sense of security this should give us! No matter how stormy or threatening the situation, Jesus is there holding us tightly in His hand."

"Thank you, Jesus, for walking with us, hand in hand, each day of our lives.  Keep us mindful of the bond we have and give us courage to follow wherever You lead, for You lead us to fullness of life."  Amen.


I went on to say:  These thoughts are very comforting to me today.

Psalm 28:7 ~ "The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him."


Psalm 27:14 ~ "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord."
We need to remember that whatever the circumstances in our lives~ "God is in control".  We can safely put our hand in His  hand.

In a later entry in the same journal, (six months later) I wrote the following:

"I just re-read the entries in this little book that I've written throughout this past year.  God was truly ministering to me during those days of convalescence from my surgery.  I see that I haven't written anything since going back to work in May! So much for goals and keeping up with writing! But I guess it has been all I could do over the past six months to keep up with house and home and work, let alone trying to write a book!  I really haven't had the physical energy--as well as the spiritual power--necessary to write all that was on my heart.  Looking back, I realize that I have been in a real emotional fog for most of this year.  I wish I could say that the fog has totally dissipated and I am walking fully in the sunlight at this time.  But I cannot honestly say that.  Each day seems to bring new challenges to my faith and mind.  There are days that I find myself wishing there was some means of "escape".  And yet, I know that is not what God would want for me.  I know I must persevere and remain faithful to His calling on my life.  To quit now would show a lack of trust and faith.

Lord, You know I believe, but help my unbelief.  I am only human, after all.  There are days that I fear that I will either lose my mind or my life~but then I remember that God is able to sustain me throughout all of my life~in all circumstances.  I need not fear what man may do to me~I am safe in the arms of Jesus.  He continues to carry me and protect me.  Praise God!! Jesus never fails!"
 Thankfully I did not lose my mind or my life...and God HAS sustained me through even harder days than those in the subsequent years.  He still continues to carry and protect me, much like that Good Shepherd...tightly holding on to my hand.  And I can still testify to His holding power...I AM safe in His arms. Praise God!! Truly, Jesus NEVER fails!  I hope that you have found this to be true in your life as well. If you are not sure of where you stand in Christ, take a moment to ask Him.  He will hear you...and He will give you the peace you are seeking. And that is a peace that lasts a lifetime, no matter what the circumstances. Try it and see for yourself! What do you have to lose?

Even Jesus had difficult days...in this picture, which is one of the several beautiful stained glass
windows in the church where I presently work, Jesus is praying to His Father, God Almighty, while in the
Garden of Gethsemane.  This was the night before His crucifixion. He had gone into
the garden to pray because He knew what was about to take place. And this is the prayer He prayed,
"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42)
When He finished His prayer and came out of the garden, Judas Iscariot betrayed Him with a kiss, 
and the rest is history. 
 He died for our transgressions. 
But the best part of the story is, three days later
He arose from the dead...and conquered death forever!
That is why I have hope and peace.
"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!" (song, Bill Gaither)
I hope you have this same hope.