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, July 30, 2014

A Modern Day Parable

I've had this particular parable on my mind lately...I won't go into details as to why this story has struck my fancy, but all I can say is it has been a lesson faith, trust, and justice prevailing.  Here is the parable:

Luke 18:1-8

"Then He (Jesus) spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying:
'There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.
Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying,
'Get justice for me from my adversary.'

And he would not for a while;
but afterward he said within himself,
'Though I do not fear God nor regard man,
yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her,
lest by her continual coming she weary me.'

Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said.
And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him,
though He bears long with them?
I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. 
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes,
will He really find faith on the earth?"

Recently I had a very similar experience as this widow in the story above. It did not involve a judge, but a person in authority. I won't go into any details except to say that this person soon became exasperated with my continual remonstrance, (protest, complaint, reproof), and literally said that I was making him weary
Even though I felt rather stunned by that remark, and even a bit hurt, I knew that God was at work in the midst of the "battle".  As soon as I heard that word spoken, I was reminded of this parable...and became encouraged in my faith that my petitions would soon be granted.  

Now, I was not asking for vengeance on an adversary, but rather for favor for one who was being slighted and taken advantage of. It was a risky move on my part as it could have backfired and placed me in jeopardy. But nonetheless I was willing to take that risk...and it finally paid off. My request reached the halls of heaven, and God dispatched His ambassadors to respond favorably on behalf of the one who was not even aware of the danger lurking ahead.

I do not tell you this story to pat myself on the back or to elicit any praise for myself. I share this today because I want you to know that God is still on the Throne of Justice...and He does hear our petitions on behalf of His children..."the very elect who cry out day and night to Him..."  Yes, "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily."  Do I need to say, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"  I sincerely hope so. May we never forget how much the Lord has already done for us...and that He has not changed.

"May He grant you according to your heart's desire,
and fulfill all your purpose.
We will rejoice in your salvation,
and in the name of our God
we will set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
with the saving strength of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots,
and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God."
Psalm 20:4-7

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lift Up Your Head!

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head..." Psalm 3:3


Young Fawn at dawn in my neighborhood today

I was reading in the book "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young the devotional reading for today, July 27. Here is what it says:
"Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven.  This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you.  I never leave your side, and I never let go of your hand.  But without the cord of hope, your head may slump and your feet may shuffle as you journey uphill with Me.  Hope lifts your perspective from your weary feet to the glorious view you can see from the high road.  You are reminded that the road we're traveling together is ultimately a highway to heaven.  When you consider this radiant destination, the roughness or smoothness of the road ahead becomes much less significant.  I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven."  



This reminded me of a time in my life when I was going through a very difficult time, and it was tempting to hang my head in despair and hide away from prying eyes and wagging tongues.  That year for Christmas my father surprised me with a special gift that I will never forget.  We had previously lived in the north country, where moose were a very BIG part of our lives. (pun intended).  If you were lucky, you might see a live moose walk through your yard occasionally (as we did).

(Picture from Internet)
 If you were not so lucky, you might NOT see a moose crossing the road in front of your car in the middle of the night...and then you'd be in BIG trouble.
Internet Photo
 That is why you would often see along side every road a sign that said: 

I had often mentioned to my my father, who was a retired hobby carpenter, that since I had moved back to Florida it would be such fun to have a "moose" in my yard again...meaning a wooden cut out of a moose.  He always said "maybe, sometime when he had time, he'd think about it..."   And then in that particular year some things had happened that brought sorrow and disappointment to our home, and having a moose in my yard was probably the last thing on my mind.  But apparently not on my sweet father's mind.  Imagine my surprise on Christmas when he led me out into his back yard with my eyes closed and standing there was the most delightful bull moose ever seen in the state of Florida!  It looked something like this:
Internet Photo





Actually there were two of them, which I don't have a picture of, but the other had its head lowered, and it was a gift for a friend of ours who was also from New England. But about the one standing tall and erect as above, my father said, "This one is for you, because I want you to always hold your head up high like this and be strong."  It brings tears to my eyes even now to remember that moment, and how loving and compassionate my Daddy was as he presented his gift to me that day. It was a gift of love and hope to me from my earthly father, but I believe it was also from my Heavenly Father. HE wanted me to know that I was not alone in my struggle...and that He was to me, as quoted above in Psalm 3:3 ~ 

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, 
My glory and the One who lifts up my head."

and then  
"I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around."
Psalm 3:5-6

I wish I could say that all my troubles were magically over at that moment, but that was not the case. However, my attitude was changed...my hope was restored...and I was better able to hold my head high and move forward with renewed strength and courage, ready to face the future knowing that God was with me, sustaining me, and making my path straight.

And now, "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 18:32-33 

Bye Bye little deer! You have cheered my heart today!

 How about you?  Have you ever felt like letting your head hang low and hiding away from your perceived "enemies"?  Take heart from these words today, and "LIFT UP YOUR HEAD!"

Friday, July 18, 2014

This Will Probably Be a Mish-Mash of Thoughts

The title expresses what I am thinking...a "mish-mash" of thoughts.  What exactly does that mean? It means that I have so many things going around in my head that I can't seem to focus on any one thing to make much sense, so I will just say whatever random things pop into my head (that are printable...Ha!)

"This is the the day that the Lord has made! I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24)
Someone painted this smiley face on a cut tree by the side of our road. I thought it might make you smile today.

That's a good way to start.  It kind of settled my brain a bit.  I was having a few moments of wishful thinking about things that I cannot do or have or change, and I needed to remember just how much I have already...and to be thankful.

This past week was a little bit stressful in some ways.  Still dealing with the loss of my son almost two months ago. Can't believe it has been that long already.  My thoughts this week have been that it seems as though when a person dies, people just stop talking about him all of a sudden. As if he never existed. It's almost like people are afraid to mention his name for fear it might cause sorrow or sadness. I find myself looking at his pictures
Matthew, me, and  his son Noah, October 2013 in Maine
and thinking that he really can't be gone...surely he's still up there in his home in Maine, and we'll all see each other again soon.  But then I remember that he's not there, and I cannot just pick up the phone and talk to him like I used to almost every day, and it makes me sad. So, sometimes I talk to him anyway as I drive home after work in my car...tell him I love him and miss him and that I hope he's having a wonderful time in heaven...(of course he is! How could he NOT have a wonderful time in heaven?)

No, I'm not going crazy. Just dealing with grief.  One sweet lady who happened to stop by my office this week asked me how I was doing, and she actually acted like she was interested in knowing the answer, and so I told her how I was feeling and about some of the things I was dealing with and wondering what to do about. She responded with some excellent words of counsel and advice, and took a few extra moments to listen and express her very positive and caring thoughts.  I can tell you that those five minutes of conversation did me a world of good. It was wonderful to be able to talk to someone about my son and not feel like they were shying away and afraid to listen.

My father used to say that when he died we would all look through his things and wonder why he kept this or that, or what he was going to do with such and such, and find out more about the things he loved and dreamed about.  I am sorry to say that we were in such a hurry to clean out his house and get it sold and the property divided appropriately among the heirs that there was little time to sort through his personal papers and things that he saved...and except for the more obvious items like furniture, antiques, tools, and other things of "value", a lot of other stuff just simply went away. The people who were in charge of the estate sale sold off the remaining piles of leftover items, books, papers, to the "pickers" who bought everything that was left in one lot and cleaned out the house and hauled a lot of stuff to the dump. I've often wondered what "treasures" my father was talking about that may have disappeared in that deal...and I guess we'll never know. It grieves me that we didn't have the time or take the time to sit down and read the things he had saved or written.  We might have learned a lot from them.

However, then I pause to remember that the most important "treasures" he left us cannot be held in our hands. They are the memories of the wonderful things we did together as a family...the lessons he taught us and lived before us every day.  It is the same with our son Matthew. We have such treasures in our hearts of the memories of the life he lived and the things he believed and lived; the way he raised his own son, who is quickly becoming a fine young man with the qualities and values he learned from his father.
My grandson Noah helping his uncle build a memorial arbor in the garden created in his father's memory.

Job well done...as you can tell by the smiles and the sweat!

I look at all the "stuff" I have in my home, and think about the things I have written and tucked away in secret drawers and boxes that hopefully my family will find when I am gone and not let it get away, but then again, it is the life that I have lived before them and the things of the heart and spirit that I have hopefully taught them that will be lasting memories. If my life hasn't been a true picture of the things that are important to me, then it really won't matter what they read later. My life needs to measure up to the values espoused in my writing, or the writing isn't true anyway.

Okay, this "mish-mash" of thoughts needs to get summed up and finished. To be honest, there was a lot more "stuff" going on in my mind than I wrote here on this page. But these were apparently the more prevalent thoughts. It is good to get this off my chest.

Summary:

  1. When someone has lost a loved one, let them talk about that person. They may need to talk.
  2. Don't think the grieving person doesn't want to hear their loved one's name or see his picture, or know that other people remember him too. It helps them to know that the departed one is not forgotten.
  3. Do go out of your way to let the grieving person know that you do care and that you are available to listen.  
  4. Find creative ways to help the grieving person to remember their loved one...in happy, pleasant ways. 
  5. It is okay to laugh and smile and think of funny things about the deceased. We all want to be remembered with happy thoughts.
  6. Make every minute count when you are with your loved ones...don't put off telling them that you love them, cherish them, and that you care about the things that are important to them.

As you can tell, I am working through these different stages of grief mentioned in a previous post HERE.  I am writing these things in the hope that perhaps others may find help, whether they be grieving, or know someone who is. 

Thank you for taking the time to "listen" to this "mish-mash" of thoughts. May you also be able to say:

 "This is the the day that the Lord has made! I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24)





  



Friday, July 11, 2014

Driven Into the Wilderness

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, 
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the 
land of Egypt."
Hosea 2:14-15

I have been reading portions from the Old Testament book of Hosea in my devotions this past week. For biblical scholars, the theme of the book of Hosea is "Redeeming Love", primarily God's redemption of the nation of Israel...who has been likened to an adulterous wife.  I will not attempt to interpret the book here...that is not my purpose and I am no scholar.  But the point was made in my readings that in this particular passage in Hosea, God is leading Israel into the desert (wilderness) with the tenderness of a husband who tenderly loves his wife even though she has been unfaithful. His purpose in driving her there is to bring her to a place of restoration and redemption.

It caused me to pause and think about how often in my life God has led me into a type of "wilderness" or desert of soul and spirit so that He could "speak comfort" to me.  It seems as though the wilderness would be the last place we would expect to find comfort and healing...and yet that is where He leads us so that we can focus our eyes completely on Him.

This reminds me of a couple of other Bible verses that have often ministered to my bruised and battered heart:

"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


And again:

"The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul..."
Psalm 23:1-3


I like the part in the Hosea passage that said "I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor (which literally means "trouble") as a door of hope;"   That sort of reminds me of the title of my blog, "Closed Doors, Open Windows"...when doors are closed to us because of "trouble" or sorrow, when we 

"walk through the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23:4), "I will fear no evil; for YOU (God) are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."

When we walk through the desert times of our lives, God gives us a "door of hope"...He comforts us.  And  Hosea says "She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth..."  Not only will she be restored and comforted, but she will actually be able to sing again...which to me is a message of triumph and victory! Singing comes from a heart that is joyful because it has been healed and revived from the valley of trouble and sorrow.

I can feel a song of hope and joy bubbling up from within my soul.  

How about you?  Have you been driven into the wilderness and walked through the Valley of Achor in your life? Have you found that door of hope and comfort that God is opening for you?  If not, "be still and Know" that God is with you. Soon you may find that you are able to sing again too. I sincerely hope so.


You might even be able to walk on the water!
Have a joyful day my friend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's Been A While Since I Just Wrote About Nothing

It's been a while since I just wrote about nothing.  Does that statement even make sense?  Well, I know what I mean.  I've been going through so many serious issues lately that I haven't truly taken time to just breathe. I am trying to do more of that lately.  On the way home from work today I thought, "I don't have any particular projects to worry about or get all tense about"...and it felt kind of good.  I can just live.
Yeah, I still have to go to work everyday (well, almost every day...Mon-Thur), and I still have to come home and take care of the house and the family and all that stuff...but I don't really have to do anything I don't want to do. I can just breathe.  So here goes:


















Bye for now

The joke is on me. I just realized that i posted most of these pictures in another post not long ago...duh!"The Sounds of Silence".   I think the mind must be going ... Oh well, maybe you needed a laugh...and time to just breathe too! Enjoy this again.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Humble Beginnings (Reposted for RJD 7/4/14)

Note to Random Journal Day Followers:  I have been a bit out of sync the last couple of months with the Random Journal Day entries, and today is no different. However, I believe this message from the past will fill the bill for today. This is a reminder that our "humble beginnings" often turn out to be glorious endings, and as we think about the humble beginnings of our country's fight for freedom today...many of us will be watching some "glorious endings" tonight of fireworks displays that demonstrate our celebration of freedom and our hopes for a better tomorrow for all. Never forget to stand tall and wave the flag of freedom for all the world to see....whether it be a personal celebration of freedom from sin, or a national celebration of freedom from tyranny...be thankful and proud of what God has done for you.


(Original Post published on 8/11/11)

I was watching "Wheel of Fortune" a few minutes ago and the phrase that was deciphered was "Humble Beginnings"...and the lady who solved the puzzle won $30,000.00!  I'd call that a "humble beginning" that became a marvelous ending to a great day for that fortunate woman...

The phrase "humble beginning" reminded me that I needed to sit down and write something tonight...so with this "humble beginning"...I would like to share the following thoughts from The Psalms:
"Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God' For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

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.

The Lord lifts up the humble;

He casts the wicked down to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises on the harp to our God."
Psalm 147:1-7

Yes, I thank the Lord tonight for my "humble beginnings", because He has promised to "lift up the humble", and to "heal the brokenhearted and bind up our wounds..."...

Psalm 146:5-7 says, "Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry.  The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners."



"Forgiven"
by Thomas Blackshear


"Praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being."
Psalm 146:1-2


"Humble Beginnings" lead to glorious endings.
Amen.