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, February 22, 2015

An Offering of Praise

Remember This post from last November? (Click HERE)   Remember the clues with this picture?


Well, I am back here to tell you how God is blessing this "Open Window" of new opportunity and ministry...

Go back to the Acts chapter two story of the first Christians in the first "church"...

"And they continued steadfastly 
in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship,
in the
BREAKING OF BREAD,
and in PRAYERS.
Then fear came upon every soul, 
and many wonders and signs were done
through the apostles.

Now all who believed were together,
and had all things in common,
and sold their possessions and goods,
and divided them among all,
as anyone had need.

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple,
and
BREAKING BREAD FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE,
they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
PRAISING GOD AND HAVING FAVOR WITH ALL THE PEOPLE.
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."
Acts 2:42-47

Back in November of 2014 we started a home Bible fellowship in our home.  In the beginning there was just one other couple and us...along with my mother in law as she is usually staying with us on the weekends...and our son if he is available...but that was it...two neighbors and our own family.  We believed that God was leading us to do this by faith...and to trust Him for the growth of our fellowship.

Today was a special day...we had our first after worship "pot luck" dinner...something all good church people do very well...and my heart has been so full of the joy of how God is blessing.  Here's a few pictures of the friends gathered here...sorry they are a little blurry...but you'll get the idea:







I think the thing that is so exciting to me is that when we moved to this house exactly three years ago, we didn't know what or how God was going to use this home, but we knew in our hearts that He had a plan,  Click HERE for the first post written from this home in 2012, we just didn't know what or when.

Today we exclaimed joyfully that we are seeing God's hand at work in our midst...bringing people into our lives that we could never have known before coming here, and blessing the faith venture of opening our home for worship and Bible study in ways that we could not have foreseen.  Little by little God is putting it all together.  We don't know where it will lead, but we are content and thankful for how it has developed thus far.  Time will tell what the next phase will be.

One of our new friends has a very lovely singing voice, and she so desires to use it for God's glory.  We were all awestruck as she sang "The Lord's Prayer" for the blessing for our meal today. It was almost too holy of a moment to even think about eating after that wonderful gift from her heart rendered to the Lord.  It dovetailed so beautifully with our lesson today from John 12:1-8, where Mary of Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus with a very costly gift of fragrant oil, and wiped His feet with her hair.  Jesus said that her gift was anointing Him for the day of His burial...as He was going to be crucified just a week later...although the disciples did not know that at the time.  It was a pure gift of love from her heart...and that is how we felt after our friend sang "The Lord's Prayer" so fervently and perfectly today.  An offering of humility and love for our Savior...preparing our hearts for the gift that He gave for us...His very life.

What a marvelous way to enter into the holy season of the Passion of the Christ...Easter...His death, burial, and resurrection...all done for us because He loves us so much...and He wants to spend eternity with us.

Lord, how can I say thanks for the things you've done for me?  "To God Be the Glory"..."My Tribute", written by Andrae' Crouch....this song expresses it beautifully.  

What is your offering of praise to the Lord for the things He has done for you? What a wonderful time to think about this...and to offer our thanksgiving to Him. 




Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cookie Baking is Male Bonding Time -updated

Go to this link written on 7-10-2011 and read the original story of family cookie baking time... http://pamelasopenwindow.blogspot.com/2011/07/rainy-days-are-meant-for-family-time.html

then come back here for the update:

"I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me."  Psalm 13:6



2/20/2015:  UPDATE:  Four years later, the family tradition continues, only this time it is my son Scott showing my grandson (his nephew) Noah how to bake Grandma Mursch's Orange Cookies. (Go here for the recipe and history)  Pictures to follow.  This is especially poignant because Noah's father, our son Matthew, passed away last year after a four year battle with cancer.  Noah is now 15 years old, and this was his first airplane trip to visit us all by himself...and to spend some much needed Steiner family bonding time with his uncles and grandparents.  My thanks to his wonderful mother Nicole for sharing him with us this past week.  What a blessing and time of healing this was for all of us.

One of the things on Noah's bucket list for this week was to learn how to bake Orange Cookies with Uncle Scott teaching him,  Yes, he did some fun "manly" things with his uncles too, like riding every roller coaster ride at Busch Gardens...some even twice....


And goofing around with the Uncles, laughing, eating, playing cards, video games, eating...laughing...


Celebrating Grandpa's Birthday...(no, he isn't really 661 years old...that's just a creative
way to say 67 when you don't have a # 7 Candle!)


Taking "selfies" with Grandma


More Eating with the extended family tree...

Standing Tall with his Uncles and Grandpa...
I can't believe our "little grandson" is now as tall as his uncles (6'1") and almost as tall as his Grandpa...
His daddy Matthew was a little bit taller at about 6'3"...but Noah is almost there...and definitely still growing...
But, back to the Orange Cookies:


First, Uncle Scott explains to Noah the importance of careful measurement and mixing things in order...


Then he shows him the secret information:  FOLDING in the buttermilk correctly...



Then comes the icing on the cookies...and the taste test...



That's where Uncle Benton comes in....and he declares the cookies perfectly delicious!

To sum it all up...

"I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me."  Psalm 13:6  

That was my choice verse back in 2011 when I first wrote about our son Scott coming home and baking cookies....and now 4 years later, after much family sorrow, trials and tribulations...I am still able to "sing  to the Lord..."  because "He has dealt bountifully with me."  Yes, we have lost one of our precious sons, but we have gained a measure of his spirit and presence in the gift of his wonderful son Noah, who is growing up into a very fine young man who would make his daddy very proud....and who is also making us very proud. 

Thank you, Lord...for dealing so bountifully with me.  Amen.


2-21-15: Postscript:  I was thinking about the time that Scott baked these orange cookies especially for his brother Matthew, back in 2012, when Matthew had come to visit us for a week by himself in between his chemo treatments for cancer.  Scott woke up extra early to bake the cookies so that Matthew could take them home with him on the plane.  Here is a picture of this special time:



Now maybe you can understand why this is such a special bonding thing for our family.  Precious memories.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Just a Country Porch Will Do...UPDATED 5-2-2015

How many of you would love a porch like this?????    Original Post 5/17/2013:


No, this isn't a picture of my front porch..yet...but it is a picture of what I'd love to have for a front porch someday!   (copied from Pinterest)


THIS is my porch:  (5/17/13)
This was our porch in the fall  2012





This was the  porch at Christmas  2012





Looking out from the porch in winter (we live in Florida...)  2013



And this is our porch now, in the spring  (5/17/2013)  SEE UPDATE BELOW


And THIS is ONE of the inhabitants of our porch in spring!  Isn't he charming?





He started to show us his "colors", note the red throaty look peeping out from under his chin...He thinks we want to get cozy with him...or he may think we want to fight...

Someday I hope to add on to our porch to stretch it out to cover the front door and level up the floor, so it will be very similar to the porch shown at the top of the page:  (5/17/2013)   SEE UPDATE BELOW

(Our porch in 2013)

When we first moved to this house last year, there was no porch at all:  (2012)

No Porch, no flowers or shrubs...and lots of bright, hot sun in the afternoon (western exposure)  Thank the Lord for those sycamore trees in the summertime...but they are bare all winter...
and it still gets pretty hot out there!


So, as you can see, we HAVE made some progress in the 1 &1/2 years since we moved to our "Camp in the Woods" house.  I figure if we can add a section of porch per year, by the time we live here 5 years, we should have a porch all the way across the front!  That would be my dream porch...but I'll settle for a porch across the front door and maybe the two living room windows. It doesn't have to be fancy...just a country porch will do...

Why am I telling you all of this?  Well, I guess I wanted to share my little "dream porch" with you.  You already heard about my little "dream cabin" that I want to build someday...

Why?  My real dream is to have the kind of place where people love to sit a spell and visit...you know what I mean...a rocking chair and a swing on the porch...just sit back, relax, watch the birds, bears, and lizards...and ENJOY being together...like the good old days. 

I suppose this isn't the first time I've told you about this front porch idea.  Click on this link for more thoughts on this topic and some pictures of some of the wildlife viewed from the front porch:  "Life Is So Much Better from a Front Porch"   

It's that time of year when life IS so much better viewed from a front porch...I find it difficult to come back inside each evening...but the porch is where I often get the inspiration I need to come back inside and write to you...so here I am!

I hope you will come sit on my front porch with me again sometime.  The best time of day is early in the morning when the birds are just waking up, and then in the early evening, as the sun goes down behind the trees and the birds sing their last songs of the day as they gather in their food for the night and settle back into their little nests hidden among the trees surrounding us.

Yep, just a country porch will do..."Y'all Come!"  (Now if I could only retire so I could really enjoy my porch!  Someday, Lord?)

Afterthoughts:  Where do YOU like to go to relax in the early mornings, evenings, or during the day if you are home?  Or, if you work, do you have a special place where you can take a mini-vacation break to rest for a few minutes away from the computer, phone and busy-ness of the day?  If you don't have such a place in your life now, look for one...create a space just for you and your mate, friends, neighbors, or you alone...a place to reflect, rest, and re-create...and listen to the sounds of God's world around you. Ahhhhh....just breathe!  (that was a "Calgon take me away" moment, created just for you and me.)
Blessings to you today....

NOW FOR THE UPDATE, 2/7/2015:

This picture of the front of our house added on 5/2/2015...quite a difference!


Over the past couple of months we have been working on our front porch...and today I can say that my dreams of a large country porch are finally coming true!




And just a couple of hours ago, all these chairs were filled with happy people, sitting and talking and laughing and enjoying a warm, sunny February afternoon in Florida!  I neglected to take any pictures while our friends were here...but that's okay...the echos of laughter still remain in my heart and memory...and I wanted to write about it before it slipped away.  I don't think it will soon dissipate in my mind...it was such a glorious time of sweet fellowship with dear friends who have been with us throughout the years during good times and hard times....the kind of friends who love unconditionally...and bring hugs and smiles and food and willing hands to help in time of need...the very best kind of friends to have.  It was very fitting that they should be the first to celebrate our new porch with us.

Now I hope someday YOU will come and sit a spell with us too!
 Click on picture to go to Ben's Country Woodshop
Click on picture to go to "Ben's Country Woodshop", Creator of these signs

The new sign on my front porch, created by my son Ben from Ben's Country Woodshop




Y'all Come!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Random Journal Day- Or- God Is In Control - UPDATED 2015


UPDATE: THIS RANDOM JOURNAL DAY ENTRY WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED IN 2012...SO I THINK THAT'S BEEN LONG ENOUGH TO RECYCLE IT. This was actually the FIRST Random Journal entry I had ever done, as you will read below.  Now we are gathering over at my friend Dawn's new blogsite: http://enthusiasticallydawn.com/   and some of the same friends are still joining in just like we did three years ago...plus some new friends...so take a look there after you read this offering for today...  (just saying...it would be rude to leave me here without reading first...LOL)




ORIGINAL POST< MARCH 31, 2012:

My blogging friends Dawn from " Beneath the Surface" and Susie from "Recovering Church Lady"  have suggested a "Random Journal Day", where those of us who have kept journals randomly select an entry from one of our old journals and share it with each other.

So, with a little fear and trepidation, I have been randomly searching through my old journals for something appropriate to share with you.  Maybe I shouldn't have been so selective...perhaps I should have just opened a book and started posting the first thing I put my finger on...but that would not have been a good idea...trust me!  Anyway, I finally decided on one that I hope will pass the test  (my test for myself), so here goes:

September 30, 2____... The first page in a new journal...written 5 days after my 50th birthday...
"I wish I had remembered to begin this actually on my birthday~but I was too overwhelmed to write! It is hard for me to realize that I am actually 50 years old! Inside I still feel like the same little girl I used to be.  Certainly, I've matured & hopefully have grown in wisdom. But deep inside there is still this little girl yearning to see the world and experience all the good things life has to offer.  Actually, I have already tasted of many of those things~I've had a beautiful and well blessed life.  God has been so gracious unto me.  I have excellent health, and a clear mind (most of the time!), and a wonderful home and family.
But there are still some mysteries in life I've yet to discover and understand.  There are people waiting to be known and loved, places to be seen and enjoyed, sunrises and sunsets too beautiful to describe waiting to fulfill their destiny.  May God be praised for all the glorious things He has done-and is continuing to do."

In this journal entry I went on to detail some of the joys and blessings of my 50th year of life, as well as some of the trials and tribulations.  It had been a wonderful year, and also a horrible year, but I won't go into the details here.  However, I summed it all up by reciting the words to a little song that I had just learned in my church's Vacation Bible School that previous summer.  It had blessed my heart and encouraged my soul so much, that it became my theme song for the whole year.  Here it is, the words as sung by Twila Paris:

"God is in control, We believe that His children will not be forsaken.
God is in control, We will choose to remember and never be shaken.
There is no power above or beside Him we know,
Whoa oh oh, God is in control.
He has never let you down-
Don't start to worry now-
Don't start to worry now.
He is still the Lord of all we see,
And He is ever watching o'er us-
Watching over you and me!
God is in control!"

I finished this entry into my journal by saying,
"Suffice it to say that as I begin this 2nd half of the 1st century of my life, I anticipate God doing some extraordinary and marvelous things.  I want to live my life each day as if it were my last day-for none of us knows when that day may be.  I want to savor the moments of joy and beauty that come my way...rejoice in the fellowship of friends in the Lord-who are sent to brighten my life--for they are ambassadors of Christ to bring comfort and healing and joy...To worship the Lord more fully in the Spirit of Holiness...to keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith...to learn to trust Him so much that I am able to walk on the water instead of just wading through the river..."

Wow!  It has been almost 12 years since I wrote that...and I wish I could say that I had lived up to my own expectations and desires...but alas!  I am only human...and I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn.  But one thing is certain... God IS still in control! "He has never let (me) down"...and "He is still the Lord of all we see...and He is ever watching o'er us...watching over you and me!"
And I am still trying to learn to trust Him so much that I am able to walk on the water instead of just wading through the river ... How about you?

This is me now...still learning to trust Him one day at a time.
Praise God....He still has NEVER let me down...and He never will!
Okay, NOW go back and check out http://enthusiasticallydawn.com/2015/02/06/random-journal-day-48-with-featured-journal-keeper-jeannie-pallett-giveaway/  for some great blog posts by some wonderful friends!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Super Bowl is On and Here I Am

Yes, the "Super Bowl" is on TV, and here I am...getting caught up on my friends' blogs, Facebook, and writing to you.  I'm not a huge football fan, but I am in the same room with the guys, so I can hear what is going on in the background...and can turn around and watch the commercials (if my hubby doesn't mute them first), and can enjoy the comradery of father and sons laughing and yelling out loud at the actions of the teams/coaches/officials, etc.  It's a great sound. Gives me a sense of comfort and peace having my men folks here enjoying this game together.  So thankful.


It's been a busy week and weekend. I really haven't had much "down time" lately, so I feel rather out of touch with my friends and family, both here in blogland and cyberspace, as well as in my inner-space. I think sometimes we get too bogged down with work and other stuff so that we begin to lose touch with reality. And reality is where life really is. The here and now...the people that we love...the life that we enjoy living...our home and family and friends...and God. Ah..yes...and GOD, most of all. When I get too bogged down with the world out there I tend to forget about the GOD in here...in my heart...in my inner-space...in my heart...in my soul...right here close and personal.

My One Word for 2015 is "Focus"  (I believe I've already told you that several times)Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here...,   and well, it looks like God just keeps reminding me to come back and refocus...draw nearer, get closer...stay focused...why?  Well, here's one good reason:

"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for in YAH, the LORD, is
everlasting strength."
Isaiah 26:3-4

When I stay focused on the Lord, I will be kept in "perfect peace"...When I trust in the Lord forever, I will find "everlasting strength".  This tells me that my focused attention on God won't be in vain. This is the way to "perfect peace" and "everlasting strength".  Now, who doesn't need a large dose of that?  I know I do, and I'll bet you do too.

So, no matter which team wins the Super Bowl tonight...no matter what challenges this old world throws at me this week, I can be "kept in perfect peace", if I will just keep my mind focused on the Lord God. I will have the strength I need to conquer any foe...not just today or tomorrow, but for EVER!  I love that!

Ok, back to the ball game...May the best team win...