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!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Don't Lose Heart - Updated 7/31/2015

I just reread this post from a year ago and thought it might encourage someone today.  I am not feeling this discouraged today as I must have felt a year ago. Funny, I don't even remember now who or what was said that got me so upset...so God surely took care of it.  If you are feeling alone, frustrated, angry, depressed or devalued, take a moment to STOP, LOOK around you at what God may be really doing, and LISTEN to HIS Words...not the words of the world.  Be encouraged in your faith and be strengthened through Christ.
Have a blessed day my friends!

Original Post 7/25/2014:

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart."  
II Corinthians 4:1

Have you ever felt like giving up, throwing in the towel, walking away, disappearing for awhile?  I have.  I almost did it this week.  I got discouraged by some negative comments and attitudes toward me personally and toward my faith. Not just from one place or person, but from more than one in one day and it caused me to stop dead in my tracks and reevaluate myself, my motives, my methods, and my purpose here. Not necessarily here, in this spot on this blog site, but in other places of my life...social media, professional and personal relationships, and life in general.  I was so disheartened that I threatened to remove myself from social media first of all, and then I considered withdrawing from some other aspects of my current life as well.  Frankly, I just didn't feel like fighting anymore. I felt misunderstood and undervalued.  I wanted to quit.

Please don't misunderstand me now, I was not suicidal or depressed or desperate. I was plain frustrated, tired and somewhat angry.  Okay, probably a lot angry. But mostly tired and emotionally worn out.  That's when anger and frustration usually attack...when we are overtired, spent emotionally, and feeling like no one really cares anyway.  Dangerous place to be.

So I made a statement on Facebook:

"I strongly debated shutting down my Facebook page last night and just walking away from all negative people and comments. I am still not totally convinced that I should stay here. But God has reminded me that I am to be "the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house." Matthew 5:14-15. 
Verse 16 goes on to say: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  
Therefore, even though I do not boast that I have any good works, but the things that I do and the words that I say I pray will be a light in the dark places of this earth. I pray that my life will be a shining light and not a millstone of darkness. I pray that God will continue to shine through the places of my heart that I feel led to share with you. If I tend to go astray or wander into places where I shouldn't be, I pray that God will gently lead me back to where He wants me to be. I pray that this place will be an instrument of peace and love and glory to God. If it becomes anything else, I do have the right to remove comments that I think are more harmful or hurtful than positive. I can and will censor comments that are addressed to me or tagged with my name that I believe are in direct conflict with my beliefs and what I stand for. If that offends anyone, you certainly have my permission to "unfriend" me. Thank you dear friends, for standing up for the truth with me. May God bless your day with His grace and love."

Within minutes comments of encouragement, affirmation, love and comfort came pouring in. I was so overwhelmed by this response that I realized that God must have planned this so that I would see that my life here and there were valuable to others as well as to God.

When I woke up this morning I saw that even more people had responded during the night, and again I was so touched and amazed, this is what I said,

"I woke up this morning expecting this post/messages to be over...and yet here are more that came during the night! I am so overwhelmed with this outpouring of love and support I just can't begin to fathom or believe it! This has been quite a humbling experience for me. I thought I could just slink away and no one would notice or even care...but this has been a good lesson for me. And it should be for others too...Our lives matter to others. We are here for a purpose. Whether it be on facebook, or in our "real life" with our families, friends and co-workers, what we do really matters to others. How we live makes an impact that we do not even realize. I am amazed at how far-reaching that impact is. I hope we will all think about this in our own lives today. The little pebbles we toss carelessly into the water have a much larger rippling effect throughout our world. This has been quite an eye-opener to me. Thank you everyone for your love and support. You are the greatest!!!!"

So today I read the following in II Corinthians 4:1  "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart."...and then on in verses 5-7:

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.  
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."


So what have we learned from this lesson?

  1. Don't listen to voices of negativity and discouragement.
  2. Don't believe everything you hear from others is a direct insult to you.
  3. Especially don't allow yourself to become so over-tired, spent emotionally, or so weary that you can't think straight and begin to take other's pent up frustrations as being an attack on you personally.
  4. We all have bad days. Be kind to yourself and to others who may also be in similar levels of frustration.
  5. DO recognize that you are precious in the sight of God, and that your life has extreme value and purpose. God paid a huge price for your ransom...His only begotten Son. He loves you that much.
  6. Do recognize that others are depending on you to shine brightly in the dark places of their lives. Somebody out there needs the light you have. Don't give up.
  7. Don't give in to discouragement, despair, and despondency. Those are tools of the enemy, not of Christ.
I like what the rest of II Corinthians 4:8-10 has to say to us:

"We are hard pressed on every side,
yet not crushed;
We are perplexed,
but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
Struck down, 
but NOT destroyed...
Always carrying about in the body 
the dying of the Lord Jesus, 
that the LIFE of Jesus also
may be manifested in our body..."

and further down in verses 17-18:

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, 
is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are NOT seen. 
For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are NOT seen are eternal."

This is some heavy and wonderful stuff to recognize in the daily workings of our lives. There is so much more going on here than meets the eye. God is at work in our midst, even when we are feeling down and discouraged. He uses every circumstance of our lives to bring us and those around us into a closer walk and fellowship with Him. He proved that to me in the last 48 hours.  He's still at work in our midst. I am expecting some marvelous and eternal blessings/results from this momentary jog in my journey.  Not just in my heart and life...but in some others as well. One thing I know, we are never alone...and God is much closer than we think.

My usual routine on the mornings that I don't have to rush out the door to work is to go to the garden to pray and meditate and enjoy God's handiwork.  This morning, after working through the humbling realities of my position here on earth...I sat down in the Memorial Garden arbor and this is the first thing I saw:

This rosebush was a gift to us for our memorial garden in memory of our son Matthew, and someone made the comment to me after seeing this picture posted on Facebook that it "looked like someone was handing (me) this rose...perhaps it was Matthew."  That thought had not occurred to me until she mentioned it, but somehow that made sense to me. I'll accept that offering as a gift from my sweet son today. Today is the two month anniversary of his passing. So I will be thankful for this reminder of him, regardless of how it happened to appear. It gave me comfort and joy in my heart.

The rest of these pictures are from my walk about the yard and our neighborhood this morning, which was a gift from God, "who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ..." (II Cor. 4:6 again)









What a beautiful, calming, peaceful way to start my day. Thank you Lord!!!  I will NOT lose heart!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Yes! We Have No Bananas!

I just put a banana nut bread in the oven to bake! And man, does that ever smell good!

How often do YOU have over-ripe bananas sitting there attracting fruit flies and smelling a little too strong for your senses to appreciate?  I am afraid this happens way too often at our house, and I get tired of putting the overripe fruit in my freezer for another day...although that is one way to save them for future baking.  But I have this easy recipe for one loaf of Banana Nut Bread that is quick to mix up and and makes a wonderful alternative to peanut butter toast and jelly in the morning for breakfast with a cup of tea!


Actually, my original recipe is for two loaves and uses 6 ripe bananas, but since I rarely have 6 overripe bananas at one time, I have divided the recipe in half and make just one loaf at a time with only three bananas!  Three overripe bananas can accumulate quickly in our house...so this is a good way to use them up.  And it smells delicious while baking! 

Set oven to 350 degrees.  Use one regular size loaf pan...I use the metal non-stick kind, but after many uses I discovered that the non-stick baking pans don't always live up to their name...so I cut a piece of waxed paper to the size of the bottom of the pan and put that inside before pouring the batter.  The loaf comes out perfect every time!

Instructions:

Cream together 1 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup Crisco shortening.  ( I buy the Crisco in the bars now instead of the can...and they are pre-measured into one cup bars.  Just cut one bar in half for this recipe, and put the other half back in the little plastic container for the next time. So convenient and un-messy! Just my style!)

Add two eggs to the creamed sugar and shortening, and mix well.  Then add three very ripe bananas and mix again.

Combine 1& 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Add to above mixture and mix well.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts and stir until blended in.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until center is firm and toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for a few minutes in pan, and then remove from pan and put on cooling rack to cool completely.  After cooled, it may be put into a ziploc bag or other container and refrigerated.  Will keep for at least a week refrigerated, or may be frozen for later.

Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

O Worship The King!

Some days I just love to sing the old hymns and focus on the words and the real meaning of them. This is an old one, and this version is written in the old English as originally given by the composer. It is said that Sir Robert Grant wrote this hymn as his own version of Psalm 104. 

Sing along with me on this beautiful Sunday:


1 O WORSHIP the King, All glorious above;
O gratefully sing His power and his love:
Our shield and defender, The Ancient of days,
Pavilioned in splendour, And girded with praise.



2 O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, Whose canopy space;
Whose chariots of wrath Deep thunder-clouds form;


And dark is his path On the wings of the storm.



3 The earth with its store Of wonders untold,
Almighty! thy power Hath founded of old;

Hath stablished it fast By a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, Like a mantle, the sea.



4 Thy bountiful care What tongue can recite?

It breathes in the air, It shines in the light,



It streams from the hills, It descends to the plain,

And sweetly distils In the dew and the rain.

5 Frail children of dust, And feeble as frail,

In thee do we trust, Nor find thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, How firm to the end,

Our Maker, defender, Redeemer, and friend!

6 O measureless Might! Ineffable Love!
While angels delight To hymn thee above,

The humbler creation, Though feeble their lays,

With true adoration Shall lisp to thy praise.


Amen.

By Robert Grant 1833

Monday, July 13, 2015

What If This Was My Last Post?

Yesterday I had a virus that incapacitated me for the whole day. I spent most of the time lying in my bed with the curtains closed, avoiding bright lights and loud noises.  As I laid there I was inundated with strange random dreams throughout the day, most of which made no sense, typical of most dreams. But in the midst of my semi-consciousness this overwhelming thought occurred to me:

"What if my most recent blog post was my last?"

What a sobering thought!  Not just that it would have been my last blog post, but that it may have been my last opportunity to say what I wanted to say to:

My loved ones
My friends near and far
My future generations
My Lord and Savior

Well....maybe not that last one...If I were to die today I am certain I would be seeing my Lord and Savior face to face, and I would be speechless!  Hopefully, the blog post is not the only method of communication with my Lord or my loved ones and friends...but again...this was a semi-conscious illness induced thought, so bear with me.

If yesterday had been my last day of communication with the world, I would have missed out on this:

 This curious young bear sitting outside my kitchen window this morning!





And I may have missed out on this:












This sweet dragonfly landing on the top of the wind chime as I sat inside the arbor in the memorial garden...



Or this:

Thankfully I noticed him before he noticed me!   

And then there was this:

Sunlight reflecting off of these spider webs...and this tiny little spider waiting for his breakfast at the center of the web...




And if yesterday had been my last day, I would have missed this lovely Rose of Sharon bud (picture taken two days ago) opening up into this beautiful full flower this morning...and I've been waiting for this event all summer!  This particular bush was planted last June in memory of our son Matthew in the memorial garden, and it bloomed profusely all last summer.  I was about to give up hope that it was ever going to bloom again, and now all of a sudden there are many more buds developing! New life out of what had appeared to have died...

But most of all, I would have missed out on
saying, "I love you" to my husband and sons and 
mother-in-law this morning.  I would have missed the phone calls from concerned friends when they heard I was sick.

I would have missed reading about others on Facebook who have prayer requests and/or praises for the answers to prayers...or who just wanted to share their own good news and happy thoughts for the day.

I would have missed reading from God's Word this morning in our devotional time before my hubby left to take his mother back to stay with her other son and family for the week. And she (my mother in law) would have missed that especially. She looks forward to that first cup of coffee and hearing me read the Bible every morning when she is here with us. We had to cancel our Home Bible Fellowship meeting here at our house yesterday because I was sick, and that made me sad because I know how much she looks forward to seeing our friends come for worship and praise and fellowship, and then to hear her son share from God's Word with our group. Yesterday morning as I heard my hubby calling our friends to tell them we would have to cancel I wanted to cry out and say, "No! Please don't do that! I don't want to be the cause for their disappointment!"  But he was correct in that it would not have been wise to invite them into a home where there is an ongoing virus present. That would not be a good thing to share.  

If yesterday had been my last day here on earth, I would miss out on the future generations that are yet to come.  As of now, we have one precious grandson, who lives pretty far away.  We don't get to see him very often, and now that his daddy, our son Matthew has passed on to heaven, it seems like our communication with our grandson is becoming less and less. Not by choice...but it just seems that way. He's almost 16, so soon his life will be expanding and his interests will take him possibly farther away...but as of now, he is our one hope for a 'future generation' someday.  I still have two unmarried sons, so hopefully there is still hope...so I'd like to hang around and see what develops.  

If yesterday had been my last day my thought was, "What have I left for future generations?  What kind of legacy would I be leaving for them...and what impact would I have made on the world around me?"

In my devotional reading this morning we read from Matthew 10:34-11:1, which is Christ talking to His disciples about the cost of discipleship.  This speaks to me of taking a stand for Christ, and making a difference in the world:

"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
He who finds his life will lose it,
and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
He who receives you receives Me,
and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me."
Matthew 10:38-40

Many years ago I chose to take up the cross of Christ and follow Him.  Even though I love this life here on earth that I've been given, all of the things of this world are nothing when compared to the glory of heaven.  If yesterday had been my last day here on earth, today I would be in paradise with Christ, enjoying the splendor of heaven.  So even though it may appear that I am clinging to this life, I am thankful that I had this opportunity today to tell you that if this were my last day on earth, there is something much greater awaiting.  

If this were YOUR last day on earth...do you know that heaven is awaiting you?  Are you ready to enter heaven's gates at a moment's notice?  My little virus came on me very suddenly.  One day I felt perfectly fine, and the next day I did not.  Our lives hang by a very fragile thread.  One misstep, one crazy driver, one horrendous storm or accident, one earth-shattering diagnosis...and we could be standing face to face with our Creator God. 

I know that I am ready to meet Jesus.  I've placed my life in the Savior's loving hands by faith in His redeeming love. I am not perfect...and I may have left a few things undone or unsaid, but I am trusting in the One who created me to "perfect that which concerns me..." (Psalm 138:8)...I've asked Him to:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;  Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."  Psalm 139:23-24.

And I believe He will do just that.  How about you?  


Friday, July 10, 2015

Life IS Better in the Woods



My son creates these wooden signs...you can learn more about that at https://www.etsy.com/shop/benswoodsigns and on his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BensWoodSigns and on his blog page at http://benscountrywoodshop.blogspot.com/.  

That's not what I'm writing about today, but I just thought I would give him a little free advertising.  He works so hard at this, and really doesn't realize much in the way of compensation when all is said and done...but the signs bring smiles to people's faces and serve a purpose for their homes and businesses, so he is happy to help make that happen. And God is blessing him for his efforts and sacrifices.

What this particular sign has inspired in me is a sense of thankfulness for the fact that yes, MY life IS better in the woods!  We moved out to the forest about 3 1/2 years ago, and since then life has truly been one adventure after another.  We've discovered myriads of interesting wildlife, as well as receiving the blessing of many new friends.  (Click on the links for more about those stories).  But the greatest gift has been the peace that comes over me each afternoon as I leave my busy job in the city and enter the quiet sanctuary of the forest woods
and country roads that lead me home. I really don't even mind the fact that I must drive over 30 miles each way to and from work.  The ride is a time of thankfulness as I enjoy the scenes and sights of nature surrounding my journey and listen to delightful songs of praise and worship all the way. This always helps set the tone for my day on the way to work...and again on my way home my heart is prepared for the tasks that await me.

Some people don't really understand how we could enjoy living so far from "civilization"....it is at least 20 miles to the nearest Walmart, and we currently don't have a viable grocery store in our community and only a couple small restaurants in the area that serve a limited menu at limited times. We DO have a small hardware store, post office, Dollar General and a gas station/handy store. We also have a wonderful Saturday flea market where my son sells his signs each week to the weekend visitors and locals.

 We also have several excellent small churches, including our own home Bible Fellowship that meets in our home every Sunday morning for worship and study of God's Word.

And so wonderfully, we have God's great outdoors and many opportunities for enjoying nature via hiking, boating,



fishing, hunting or simply watching the birds,


deer,
Bears,












hummingbirds
and butterflies.

























Wildflowers,


trees, berries and interesting insects
of every kind abound.

There are so many places to explore...(if only it wasn't so hot right now...but fall is on its way)

I find myself longing to strike out on my own in search of adventure...but I am reminded that there ARE bears

in the woods, (and right in front of my house!)   and I need to be safe.


Anyway, I want to pause and give thanks to the Lord for His goodness to us in providing such a place of refuge for our family.  There was a time when we didn't know how we were ever going to find an affordable home to help us ease into retirement...but God truly surprised us when He opened THIS window of opportunity.  He proved to us that not only was HE able to provide for us, but that He had prepared special people to be kind and generous and willing to take a chance on us until we could stand on our own again. And now He has enabled us to do just that, and we want to say thank you. (No names needed, God knows).

"O Lord, YOU are the portion of 
my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me 
in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand
I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad,
and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your
Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your Presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand 
are pleasures forevermore."

Psalm 16:5-11

I suppose there may be some who will say that this is all well and good for you, but what about me? When is God going to show ME some pleasant places and a refuge from the world?  I cannot answer for God, but I can only say that when we put our trust in Him, He promises in His Word to show us the "path of life", and that "in (His) presence is fullness of joy".  For you it may not be in the woods, but it might be in a different neighborhood, or job, or place of worship.  It could be a new friendship or relationship that brings joy and fulfillment after a long wait.  It could even be finding that place of contentment right where you are when you realize that God is with you and that He will never leave your side.

I read a verse in my morning devotions a couple of days ago that stood out to me and also caught my husband's attention, so much so that he asked me to find it again the next morning and read it again.
The verse is found in Psalm 17:15 ~

"As for me, I will see Your Face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I 
awake in Your likeness."

This is complete contentment and peace...to be satisfied when we awake one day in heaven, and to find that we shall be like HIM.  Knowing that helps us to endure our trials here. That, and the knowledge that "in Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Thank you, Lord, for Your Presence here and now...
and forevermore!
Amen.