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!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oh, Clap Your Hands!

"Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
He will subdue the peoples under us,
and the nations under our feet.
He will choose our inheritance for us,
the excellence of Jacob whom He loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with understanding.

God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth 
belong to God;
He is greatly exalted."
Psalm 47

When I first read this Psalm yesterday morning my first reaction was to 
And then I wanted to 
Why?  Because

And that was a good enough reason for me!  Let me ask you, do you ever get so excited over the way God works, and the marvelous things that He does, and the beauty of His Holiness...the glory of His power...the awesomeness of His majesty...the power of His love...and the mystery of His grace...
There are not enough words to describe Him, not enough ways to express this...I just have to 


If you have never felt this way about our marvelous and awesome God, just start counting your blessings.  Look around you at the magnificence of all creation...look into the heavens and try to count the stars and try to understand that God not only "counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name..." (Psalm 147:4)... and this God of the universe, Who created and named every single star
(Image Credit: Photos.com)
in every single galaxy...also knows my name.  He knows me inside and out...He knew me before I ever took my first breath...

"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb....
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was made in secret,
and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance,
being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them!"
Psalm 139: 13, 15-16

"Oh, that  men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works 
to the children of men!
Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
and praise Him in the company of elders."
Psalm 107:31-32

Wow!  All I can say is, "Glory!"  Sing along with me this Doxology of Praise:

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Oh, and by the way, if you are ever told that you should not clap your hands in praise to God,  you may need to find another place to worship...Just saying...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What Are You Looking For?

"But when Jesus turned around and saw them following, He asked them, "What are you looking for?"   John 1:38a NIV

Have you ever asked yourself the same question? I know I have...many times...like, when I go from one room to another in search of something...I often have to stop and ask myself..."Now why did I come into this room? What was I looking for?"  Please tell me I am not alone.  Just a few minutes ago I went in search of my glass of water. At least I remembered what I was looking for...I just couldn't remember where I had left it.  After retracing my steps throughout the house, rethinking all of the places I'd been and what I'd been doing over the past hour or so since I last took a sip...(of water)...I finally discovered it on a shelf in the sunporch
next to the rocking chair that I was GOING to sit on while I talked with a friend on the phone, but as I recall now I decided to go outside and sit on the new front porch while I chatted, and apparently left my water behind. 

I've been talking quite a bit about the word "FOCUS" lately...my new One Word for 2015...and obviously it is an action word that I need to learn to do.  

Today's devotional reading and later Bible study in our home this morning "focused" on the theme of following Christ...as seen in John's Gospel, chapter one and verses 24-49.  Jesus noticed two of John the Baptist's disciples following Him, and in verse 38 it says that Jesus turned, "and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?"...or, "What are you looking for?".  The disciples said that they wanted to know where He was staying...and Jesus said to them, "Come and see."  (verse 39).  Then these disciples went out and invited others to come and see Christ, as they discovered that He was in fact "The Messiah".  (verse 41).  Throughout the rest of these verses several others joined the group as Jesus simply said to them "Follow Me," and they did.  So simple...and yet so profound.

Today I have asked myself the question, "What are you looking for?" as if Jesus Himself was asking me.  Perhaps He is asking me, "Where are you focusing your attention?...Is it on Me? Do you want to follow Me? Or are you seeking something else?"... 

Hubby enjoying the new porch
We've been focusing a lot of attention on getting our house in order...new porch, new roof, new kitchen cabinets...

Cabinets, BEFORE

Cabinets AFTER (work done by my son)
And these things in themselves are not bad...they were all much needed home improvements...and God provided the way...But I've had to stop and ask myself the question, "What are you looking for?"  Where is your focus?  Is it on these nice new things...or is it on Jesus, the One Who is calling me to follow Him?  

In the past several months God has been leading us to begin a Bible fellowship in our home on Sunday mornings.  Already we are seeing God blessing this venture with new people coming to our home who needed a place to worship and study God's Word in a non-threatening, personal small group.  I could say that we are getting our house in order to be better equipped to provide this place of worship, and that would be true.  But I don't want to get my eyes off of the purpose for the gathering place so that I focus on the place instead of the purpose. I don't want to misplace my focus.  

Lord, Help me to seek YOU in all that I do each day.  May our home be a place that is centered on YOU...and not just centered on being a place.   Thank you for helping me to refocus my sights on YOU today. Amen.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fix Your Eyes...

My new "One Word" for 2015 is "Focus"...as you probably already know if you've read anything I've written in the past couple of weeks.  And so the theme continues...as God seems to be focusing His attention on me to get my attention, I seem to find evidence of this every day.  Today was no exception.

As I was reading my devotions this morning, I turned to the now somewhat familiar "Jesus Calling" book by Sarah Young.  I won't quote the whole devotional for today, January 15th, but if you have the book, you may want to refer to it.  The portion that got my attention was in the 2nd paragraph...

"The closer you live to Me, the safer you are.
Circumstances around you are undulating, 
and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance.
Fix your eyes on Me,
the One who never changes.
By the time those waves reach you,
they will have shrunk to proportions of My design."

I like the part that says "Fix your eyes on Me (Jesus), the ONE who NEVER changes"...The same Jesus..."Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever..." (Hebrews 13:8)  is the One Who stilled the storm when the waves were so rough and so high that they were filling the boat with water...and all He had to do was rebuke the wind, and speak to the sea, and say, 

and the wind ceased and there was a great calm..."  (see Mark 4:35-41)

That is just one small example of all the magnificent miracles that Jesus performed during the three years of His active ministry before His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead.  That same Jesus is still alive and active today...still calming the waves and causing the storm to subside in our own lives.  That same Jesus is still working magnificent miracles in and around us in ways that we may not even be aware of.  We are often too busy being like the disciples in the boat, panicking because of the size of the waves and wondering where is God when we need Him?  And Jesus steps into the stern of our boat and says, "Peace, Be Still!"...and then He turns to us and asks,

"Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?" (Mark 4:40)

I need to remember to "fix" my eyes on Him...focus my attention on the One Who has His eyes fixed on me every moment of my life...and that will never change!

What are the storms that need calming in YOUR life today?  Have you asked the Lord to calm your troubled seas? Just ask...He's got His eyes fixed on you...and He's waiting for you to call.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

God Got My Attention!

Time to "focusin on this past week's activities...since I claimed my "One Word" for 2015..."Focus".
It seems like whenever we claim a new word, that particular word takes on a life of its own...and it gets our attention in so many ways.  "Focus" is definitely getting my attention. But, isn't that what the word "focus" means in the first place? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/focus says

 noun \ˈfō-kəs\: a subject that is being discussed or studied : the subject on which people's attention is focused
: a main purpose or interest
: a point at which rays of light, heat, or sound meet or from which they move apart or appear to move apart; especially : the point at which an image is formed by a mirror, a lens, etc. "

Well, this week the focus has been on things needing repair...or, I should say, "expensive things" needing repair.

  • My car developed a rock and roll and rattle which necessitated some focused attention, i.e. REPAIRS.
  • Our home insurance cancelled our policy because they didn't have enough business in this area, necessitating our finding a new policy.
  • The NEW policy required a house inspection.
  • The house inspector refused to sign the certificate unless we replace our ROOF. Yikes!
There were a few other more minor things, but they all added up to getting our attention right where it hurts the most...our pocketbook!  Not a great way to start the New Year!

But, after focusing our attention on these issues we have evaluated the bigger picture, and have come to some new realizations (with the wise counsel and help of some good friends):

  • The car repairs are not as serious as first feared, and we found a trustworthy and reliable Christian mechanic who also happens to be extremely fair.
  • If the home insurance company had not cancelled our policy, necessitating our having an inspection of our roof, we would not have known that our roof was in such bad condition until possibly a leak developed and/or serious damage was done to our home.
  • And, actually it isn't the whole roof, but one section of our roof due to the configuration of the way our house is built, so it will not be as expensive as if it were the whole roof. And God has shown us a way to pay for it reasonably...in time...but reasonably.
  • And, the other more minor things are just that, minor things that can be fixed and are not the end of the world if they are not fixed right away.
I also have learned that spending time each day in God's Word helps me to focus my mind and heart on the things that are most important, and to prioritize the issues that come into my life so that I can tackle that which is most necessary first, and take care of the others as needed.

Here are a few verses that come to "light" right now:

  • "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  Psalm 119:105
  • "You (God) are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word." Psalm 119:114
  • "Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe (focus my attention on) Your statutes continually." Psalm 119:117
  • "The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple." Psalm 119:130
  • "In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He heard me." Psalm 120:1
  • "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." Psalm 121:1-2.
What have I learned this week?  

  • "Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways." Psalm 128:1
  • "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." Psalm 136:1
That sums it up pretty well...but to put it in common language...I have learned to focus my attention on God instead of my circumstances...and to always look for the hidden blessing in the midst of the trials of life.  And I have learned to give thanks to the Lord, for He IS good! His mercy DOES endure forever! And I've also learned to give thanks for the people God brings into our lives to help us when we need it most. I pray that God will bless them for their kindness in ways that we cannot.

So, what kinds of things have you focused upon this week?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

After Christmas Tea

This post is for all my tea party friends out there...and I am NOT speaking politically! As I was putting away all of my Christmas decorations I realized that I had not taken time to have one single tea party

during the Christmas season! What a shame!  It's not like I never had any company here...we had PLENTY...and we ladies of the family gatherings even shared different types of tea bags with each other as gifts...

I even received some teapot tree ornaments as well as  a cute teapot salt and pepper shaker set as gifts.

But not once did we actually specifically sit down and have a "Christmas Tea Party".

So, this afternoon, before totally putting away all of the Christmas table decorations I decided to have a tea party. The only problem was...there were no ladies around to invite!  I asked my hubby if he'd like to have a cup of tea with me, but he politely declined in favor of watching football from the couch...

So, not to be deterred in my quest for a little feminine frivolity, I invited my dollies to tea!

The honored guests were Miss Ireland and Miss Denmark of Madame Alexander fame....
and the china tea set belonged to my husband's Grandmother, "Nanny Martin".  It is a "Craftsman China", Romance pattern, #379, Made in Japan. It was brought home from Japan directly by my husband's Uncle, who was serving as a Commander in the Navy, back in the 50's.

The tea of choice for today was not the proverbial "Cup of Christmas Tea" (Twinings), which is a delightful mixture of cinnamon and spices just right for any occasion...but no, my choice today was the favorite tea of my paternal Grandma Elva Hill Mursch: Bigelow's "Constant Comment".  I had actually given myself a gift of a new box of this spiced orange black tea as Christmas gift for the tea cabinet.  The description on the carton is quite interesting...
"In 1945, inspired by an Early Colonial recipe, Ruth Campbell Bigelow disappeared into her New York brownstone kitchen to create a better cup of tea.  After weeks of trial and error, blending black tea with orange rind and sweet spices, she emerged with the first cup of specialty tea.  Ruth gave  out her blend to friends who later told her the tea 'was a source of constant comment.'  Her tea earned a name and the Bigelow Tea Company was born."
And since the tea of the day was my Grandmother's favorite, it was appropriate that my other sweet dolly, "Baby Elva", the namesake of my Grandmother, should also be a guest:

There she is, sitting in her little carriage beside her own personal Christmas tree...which I am loathe to remove as I enjoy it so much...

While sipping my cup of "Constant Comment" tea, I chatted on the phone with a good friend, so it was almost as good as having a real tea party with real friends right here.

One of my "resolutions" for the new year is to plan several real tea parties for friends and loved ones...Oh, and the dollies too.  They seemed to enjoy stepping out of the cabinet for an afternoon and would probably appreciate doing so more often!

Well, friends, that about sums up my "After Christmas Tea" party! I do hope you enjoyed this little visit...and it would be my greatest pleasure if you would honor me with your presence again in the near future...maybe even in person next time!

Until then,

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love,
in honor giving preference to one another;
not lagging in diligence,
fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord;
rejoicing in hope,
patient in tribulation,
continuing steadfastly in prayer;
distributing to the needs of the saints,
given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another.
Do not set your mind on high things,
but associate with the humble.
Do not be wise in your own opinion."
Romans 12:10-16

Some great words of wisdom to ponder as we complete our visit. Hope to see you again soon!

Post Holiday Thoughts

It is Sunday afternoon, the Sunday after New Year's...and the last day of the holiday season.  There is now a bare spot where the Christmas tree once stood, and all the other odds and ends of Christmas decorations are pretty much put away for another year.

As I packed up the Nativity Set,  I said good bye to the Baby Jesus, the Shepherd, the Wise Men, Mary and Joseph and the Angel until next year.  As I did so I thought to myself, "Well, not really good bye to the Baby Jesus. I'll be keeping Him in my heart all year long...and not as a baby, either.  It's the full-grown resurrected coming back again someday soon Jesus that sticks closer than a brother to me all year long that I'll be keeping in my heart."

That's the most important and significant reflection that I want to focus upon in the New Year...(FOCUS...that's my new One Word for 2015!)  Jesus--Who sticks closer than a brother or a mother or a father or a husband or a sister or child or friend...Jesus, the One Who will be with us through thick and thin, in good times and bad times.  Jesus, My God and My Savior, the One Who rescued me from sin and keeps me in His arms, safe from the snares of this old world.

I believe this prayer of the Apostle Paul to the Church at Ephesus is an appropriate prayer for us as we begin this New Year:

"Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
from Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
that He would grant you,
according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man (woman!),
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is 
the width and length and depth and height~
to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly 
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us,
to HIM be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever.
Ephesians 3:13-21

What a beautiful prayer! Read through it again, and apply it to your own life and heart...this prayer was prayed for you and me..to be strengthened (my One Word for 2014!), to be rooted and grounded in love, to KNOW the LOVE of Christ, to be Filled with all the fullness of God...all action words! But the action isn't all mine to do on my own...The strengthening will come through God's Spirit...Christ Himself will DWELL in my heart through faith...and it is God Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above ALL that we ask or think!  He is the One Who will do this in us and through us according to His power that is working in us!

Yes, I do believe the "Baby Jesus" will be quite active in my life in this new year. As I said above, 
it is the  "full-grown resurrected coming back again someday soon Jesus that sticks closer than a brother to me all year long that I'll be keeping in my heart."  He is the One! 

"To HIM be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, 
forever and ever. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time to Focus

I've been debating on my "One Word" for 2015 for several days.  Every time I drive into our little village I pass this sign (seen above) at the community park.  And every time it hits me between the eyes.  At first it seemed to be a little "out of focus"...I had to fine tune it a bit, zoom in my lens and adjust the settings of my mind to bring it in a little clearer.  Could this be the message God was sending me?

Then I read from the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young on January 1:

"Come to Me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed.  A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness.  Do not cling to the old ways as you step into a new year.  Instead, seek My Face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to you..."

Okay, that got my attention, and then again on January 2nd:

"Relax in My healing Presence.  As you spend time with Me, your thoughts tend to jump ahead to today's plans and problems. (How did you know, Lord?)  Bring your mind back to Me for refreshment and renewal.  Let the Light of My Presence soak into you as you focus  your thoughts on Me. Thus I equip you to face whatever the day brings.  This sacrifice of time pleases Me and strengthens you...."
(Strengthens...there's my One Word for last year...)

I don't recall seeing the word focus in the Bible, but I have a feeling if I study into it a little deeper, I will be able to find many references to focusing my attention on God and what He is wanting to show and teach me in this new year. 

Here's one...

"Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done, 
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth..."
Psalm 105:4-5

And here's one of my favorite verses to quote:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
LOOKING UNTO JESUS, the Author and Finisher of our 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 12:1-2

Yes, I believe God has been directing my thoughts to focus my attention on His face...or, yes, I guess you could say "refocus"...get things put back into perspective, zoom in on what is most important, see things more clearly through the eyes of Christ...the "Author and Finisher" of my faith. I cannot think of any better site upon Whom to set my sight.  

So, how about you? Are you ready get your life back in focus?  There is no better time than the present to clean off our lenses and get our eyes and hearts tuned in to "Seek the Lord and His strength, to Seek His Face evermore!"

Yes, it is time to "Re-Focus!"  FOCUS  IS MY NEW ONE WORD FOR 2015! By the end of the year I hope to be seeing quite clearly.  Come join me as we zoom in on this new adventure into the glorious Face of our Lord and Savior and His marvelous plans for our lives in this new year. 
Cameras Ready? Let's Get Focused!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Closed Doors-Open Windows-New Beginnings? UPDATED 1/2/2015

Okay Friends, Today, January 2, 2015, is the first Random Journal Day of the New Year.  That is when those of us who write journals (and/or blog-journals) pull out an old journal and randomly choose something to share with the rest of the world.  I have kind of run out of old journals on the shelf, and for the last four FIVE years I have been writing most of my thoughts in this blog.  So, instead of a dusty old journal entry from way back when, I am going to share something with you that I wrote here about four  (FIVE) years ago. (I can't count very well...still not used to 2015 instead of 2014!)  It is interesting to note that I am still the same person, having the same thoughts and feelings and frustrations that I had 5 years ago. Oh yes, some things have changed...some for the better, and some not so much.  But the message God shared with me back in 2010 is still pretty much the same for me...and it may be for you as well. Read on...and may God bless  you and yours with a marvelous, happy, peaceful, joyful New Year!

Original Post :  February 26, 2010:

Psalm 130 says, "Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!  Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.  If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning--Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption!  He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities."

So I've decided to begin this blog idea...and I honestly am not too sure what I am doing.  It seems as though every where  I look I am seeing others with the same idea...a new beginning...an open window. Perhaps because we are still in the early part of a new year and a new decade...or perhaps because there are so many of us out here struggling and searching for a way to begin anew...whether it be a new job (or ANY job), a new home, a new family, a new situation in life that blows our mind, recovering from devastating loss or illness...whatever our reasons...we are out here...and we need each other! 

Like the Psalmist above, I have cried out of the depths, "Lord, hear my voice! Let Your voice be attentive to the voice of my supplications!"  In other words, "Lord, are you listening to me? Please listen to me when I am pouring out my heart to you!"  Then I think, "Well, maybe because of my sin or my stupidity I have gotten myself into this mess, so why should God want to help me?"  I love what verses 3 and 4 say in response to my doubts and fears: 
    "If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with you, that You may be feared."
God reassures me here that even though I may have made a mistake, or even if my circumstances are not of my own doing, God has forgiven me and is already "on the case".  The psalm is completed with an admonition to Israel...and to me, to "hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him there is abundant redemption!"

Last night I picked up a magazine and tried to read, but I really wasn't concentrating too much on the article because I was fretting over my future (or lack of) and what to do next. However, the very last words of the story jumped out at me and gave me a sense of the message that God was trying to get through to me:
"Looking for inspiration? Follow the path that's calling you. It's sure to be an adventure." (Samantha Brown, "Travels From the Heart", Guideposts, March 2010, page 58)

And so, here I am again...looking at this "Open Window" that God has placed before me, and like the Psalmist, I am waiting for the Lord..."and in His word I do hope....more than those who watch for the morning."

If you have been in similar circumstances, or maybe you still are...can we stand together and work through this time in a spirit of hope, encouragement, and inspiration?  Would you share your thoughts, ideas, and dreams with us so we can  learn from each other? This is your opportunity as well as mine, to begin anew, start a new adventure, and leap through that "open window".  Are you ready?  Then let's get going!!

Thank  you for joining me today for Random Journal Day.  Now go check out what others are writing here,