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, March 27, 2016

"The SON has Risen!" a reposted repost...

This is a repost of an old blogpost originally posted in 2012, reposted in 2014, and now again in 2016.  I guess every 2 years is okay...probably most everyone has forgotten it by now...or there may be some folks seeing this for the first time. Either way, it is still appropriate for Easter day, so here goes.  Not sure if the link in this is still active, but the rest of it should be a timely message for what is happening in our lives today.  I pray your Easter has been filled with the joy of the Resurrected Lord...He Is Risen Indeed!!

(Originally posted April 8, 2012)

As I mentioned last weekend, some of my blogging friends have started a "Random Journal Day" (see the Random Journal Day Link Up) on the weekends, where we are encouraged to pick an entry from a previous journal at random and share it with you...so I looked back through one of my old journals and happened upon a writing that is appropriate for today, Easter. This was originally written on May 3, 2001, but it is still and always will be a message for today.  So here goes:

Thursday, May 3, 2001, 6:55 a.m.

"I am sitting on my back porch, watching the sun rise.  It is magnificent in it's glory and beauty.  At first I thought the clouds were going to overshadow it, but not so! 
Light has conquered darkness...the sun has risen!
Today's reading in Psalms was Psalm 19:1-6~

'The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
and its circuit to the other end;
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.'
Yes, the true Light, Jesus, has conquered the darkness...the SON has risen!!!
Hallelujah to the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world!

Now, I must go out into the world...and be Christ's "Greatest Sacrament"
to a lost and dying world.
'Lord, give me the time and the faith to BE and DO all YOU would have
me BE and DO.  Amen.'

I continued on in my journal that day with several quotes from the book, Keep Climbing, written by Gail MacDonald. (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, ILL, 1989) I will quote them here for you...and I highly recommend the book. 

"From an inscription taken from a Cologne, Germany, cellar where Jews had been hidden during the Holocaust..."I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.  I believe in love even when I am not feeling it.  I believe in God even when He is silent."  (Keep Climbing, Gail MacDonald, page 159)
Another quote from this same book, where Gail is quoting Teresa Burleson as follows:
"We ponder God's withholding or bestowing and while we pine for what was never given and what was taken, today slips through our fingers..."  (page 167, Keep Climbing)
I guess I was really absorbing all of these very pertinent and thought provoking quotes, as I continued to write down one after another.  I will not list them all for you here...but here is one more that seems to still strike home in my heart...

"(quote from page 173, re: Lot's Wife)  "Lot's wife had tried to hold on to things that had never really belonged to her..."   (page 174)..."God caused me to realize that He had come to make His 'home' in me and that I could go anywhere and have the assurance that He would precede me...."  "By slowly learning to renounce ownership and think stewardship, I came to discover that one never really loses anything."  (Gail MacDonald, Keep Climbing).
I completed my thoughts on that day with yet another quote found in the introduction of Gail's book, on page 16, which is a quote from Amy Carmichael's Gold by Moonlight (Fort Washington, Pa.: Christian Literature Crusade, 1951):
"Anything but that, Lord" had been your earnest prayer.  And then, perhaps quite suddenly, you found your feet set on that way.  Do you still hold fast to your faith that he makes your way perfect? It does not look perfect.  It looks like a road that has lost its sense of direction; a broken road, a wandering road, a strange mistake.  And yet, either it is perfect or all you have believed crumbles like a rope of sand in your hands.  There is no middle choice between faith and despair.  Life is a journey; it is a climb; it is also always a war!"
I know that during that time period in my life we were experiencing some severe trials in our family.  There were days that I honestly could not begin to comprehend what God was doing...or why He was allowing those things to happen.  I know that more often than I like to remember I wondered if the darkness would overcome the Light in us.  But I am here today to proclaim again, as I did in the beginning of this old journal entry,
"Yes, the true Light, Jesus, has conquered the darkness...the SON has risen!!!
Hallelujah to the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world!"

God is faithful to take care of His children...during dark times and times of light...
It is God Who is carrying us through.  We can count on Him...regardless of what this old world throws at us.  Christ as conquered death...He has risen...therefore, I too shall rise and live!

P.S.:  Re: the book Keep Climbing by Gail MacDonald.  (she is the wife of Rev. Gordon MacDonald) I have written in the flyleaf of my copy of this book  that I first read it in 1993 in New Hampshire.  I read it the 2nd time in 2001, in Florida.  The book was a gift to me from our former District Superintendent's wife when we were serving the Lord in Michigan. This dear lady ("Joyce") was a mentor to me in ministry...one whom I will always appreciate for her words of encouragement and Christian love during difficult times. I am so thankful for how God brings people into our lives when we need them most.  Aren't you? 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Stand Still And See What God Has Planned

Exodus 14:13 "And Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.'".... and in verse 14, "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."

This morning I was reading in my devotions the above verses, and was struck by the powerful message it contained for our present circumstances. Actually, it never ceases to amaze me how God directs my reading to exactly whatever message He has prepared to encourage me for that particular moment.  But that is just how God works...I could read the same passage everyday and it would be fresh and new and pertinent, because that is how God ministers to our hearts. 

Right now all of Christendom is waiting...waiting for Easter sunrise
...waiting for the angel to proclaim the astounding message, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!" (Luke 24:5-6)  On this, the day after the crucifixion, Jesus' disciples were hiding and afraid. They did not understand what was happening, even though Christ had tried over and over again to tell them what was going to take place, but their hearts were broken, their eyes were still blinded by doubt and confusion, and they just couldn't see how anything good could come out of His death.  They did not realize that God had a plan!  And oh, what a plan it was! 

In the book of Exodus, God had a marvelous plan to help the children of Israel escape the cruel Egyptians.  The passage above is talking about when God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed over on dry land.  Then, as the Egyptians were pursuing them, the sea closed in on top of them and they were all destroyed, and the children of Israel were safe on the other side...and free from their hundreds of years of slavery.
Exodus 14:30 says, "So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians.." 
Fast forward about 1450 years, and to the book of Matthew 1:21, which is talking about the birth of Christ,
"and she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.".... God's plan for the salvation not only of the children of Israel, but all of humanity...for all who would believe.

What about our situation today?  God has a plan...yes, for our eternal salvation, and also for our lives here on earth...there is nothing that happens in our lives without a purpose and a plan.  We may not always understand at the moment...

we may not even like what we have to go through and may feel that it isn't fair...but if we can just wait until Easter morning...if we can just trust God enough to walk dry shod across the Red Sea...if we can stand still and watch...we will see the salvation of the Lord...we will sing with Moses and the children of Israel:

"I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!  The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him..."
Exodus 15:1-2

Okay, Lord,...I will trust You and wait for You...I know You have a plan...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Comforter in the Garden

"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; 
nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.
Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.  
Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
Luke 22:42-44

I was sitting in my garden, enjoying the sounds of the birds and admiring the beauty of the flowers blooming on this lovely spring day, when suddenly it hit me:  Today is Maundy Thursday...the day Christians remember that this was the day that our Lord went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed...the night before His crucifixion and death.  It was in the garden that the Bible tells us He prayed to His Father, pleading if it were possible to "take this cup away from Me"...meaning the cup of His sacrifice of His life for the sins of the world...knowing that He would actually become sin for us, so that we would no longer be lost in our sins.  The Bible tells us that Jesus was actually in agony, so much so that "His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

In Luke's Gospel quoted above, we are told that "an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him."

I had never noticed this particular passage until this past Sunday when we read it in our Bible Study time.  It truly touched my heart to think that our Lord was suffering so greatly that God the Father actually sent an angel to comfort Him and give Him strength for the horrendous journey ahead.

As I was writing this just now a friend called me and asked me to pray for her daughter. We've been praying for this dear one for quite a while. She's been going through some very difficult surgeries and has a serious bacterial infection right now.  As I spoke with this distraught mother, I visualized this angel comforting Jesus in the garden...and I reminded my friend of this story as she had also been here with us on Sunday when we discovered this verse in our time of worship and Bible study. We both were comforted as we thought about the angel comforting Jesus...and realized that God sends His angels to comfort us during times of distress as well.  The angel may come in the form of a friend who is there to pray or lend a helping hand. Or perhaps a word of scripture that gives hope and encouragement at just the right moment...much like this one.

I don't know about you, but I find this so comforting. Jesus was not alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, even though His disciples had fallen asleep just a stone's throw away when He had asked them to watch and pray with Him.  God the Father saw His Son's agony and sent an angel to minister to Him.  God sees our agony and sends His angels to comfort us...just when we need it most.

My garden above is a special place set aside in our yard to honor the memory of our son, who died in May of 2014.  I love to sit there and pray and think about God's mercy and grace.  Even though our son died after a long battle with cancer, God did not leave us comfortless.  He sent His angels to minister to us throughout that long ordeal...and His Holy Spirit is always with us to comfort us during our times of grief.  

Maybe there are some of you who need these words of comfort today. Perhaps you are in your own kind of "Garden of Gethsemane"... and this picture of Jesus being strengthened by the angel might give you hope.  I hope so.  

Remember...even though things may look dark today...Sunday is coming...Easter day! The day we celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead...the day He burst forth from the tomb victorious over death to give us life everlasting!  So...no matter how bleak things may appear today...we have this hope in Christ Jesus! Victory is on the horizon!  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What Easter Means To Me - Updated from Easter 2014

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Stained Glass Window-First Presbyterian Church, Ocala, FL.

UPDATE:  I wrote this post for Easter 2014.  A lot has changed in our lives since then* (For the update on this please click on this link, written 5/25/2014), but even though our son has since passed on to heaven, nothing has really changed in how I view Easter.  It is even more significant and precious to me now, knowing that I have a son waiting for me in heaven someday.  

What Easter Means To Me
(Originally written 4/18/2014)

Because I have a precious son standing on the threshold of heaven’s gate, Easter has a lot more significance to me this year. 
Four years ago we received some shocking news regarding our son...a diagnosis so grim that it struck fear into our hearts and caused us to ask, "Why Lord? What good could possibly come from this assault on our son's body?  We didn't know what kind of plan God had...and as a mother, to be honest, I truly did not want to see our son go through all the suffering and pain of fighting the formidable foe of cancer.  It just didn't seem fair.  But don't stop reading here...

On the day after the crucifixion, Jesus' mother and his disciples were hiding and afraid. They did not understand what was happening, even though Christ had tried over and over again to tell them what was going to take place, but their hearts were broken, their eyes were still blinded by doubt and confusion, and they just couldn't see how anything good could come out of His death.  They did not realize that God had a plan… 

On Easter morning all of God’s creation was waiting...waiting for the Easter sunrise...waiting for God to show them the next part of His plan…not realizing that they would soon hear an angel proclaim the astounding message,

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!"
(Luke 24:5-6)

The angel reminded the disciples of what Christ had taught them about His death and resurrection, and then “they remembered His words…” 

Perhaps they then remembered what Jesus told them in John14:19~

“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.
Because I live, you will live also.”

And then His words all began to make sense…both to His disciples…and also to me. When Christ said “It is finished” as He died on the cross, death became a conquered foe. That was not the end of the story, but the beginning.   When (and if) my son loses his earthly battle against this vicious cancer, that will not be the end of his story, but the beginning. As he passes over that threshold, heaven’s gate will open wide to receive him joyfully.  Isaiah 25:8 says, “Death is swallowed up in victory!”  “O Death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55)

Since “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), I can stare death in the face and not be afraid of saying goodbye to my son when the time comes. Because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, my son will also live. And so will I. And so will you.

And that’s what Easter means to me.

I just found this video of  a very special  Easter song, "He's Alive!" by Don Francisco, which is sung from the perspective of the Apostle Peter.  I think you may appreciate it.  I remember singing this song back in the late 70's...  "He's Alive! He's Alive! He's Alive and I'm forgiven, heaven's gates are open wide! He's Alive! He's Alive! He's Alive!"    Hallelujah!  That is what Easter is all about!!!

Death is Swallowed Up in Victory! Reposted from Easter, 2010

Today, I am preparing my heart for Easter during this Holy Week of Jesus' Passion.  I know we don't want to skip over the events of that week so long ago, but we need to keep the whole purpose of Christ's sacrifice on the cross in view...Our Salvation and the gift of eternal life with Christ forever in Heaven!  That is something to celebrate!

Reposted from Easter Day, 2010...

I wonder how many of you sang the familiar hymn, "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today...Alleluia!" at your Easter service this morning.  I know I did, and I cherished every word and phrase of this beloved song.  It tells the whole story of Christ's resurrection... I don't think Charles Wesley will mind if I reprint the words here for you to ponder:

"Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won; Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened Paradise. Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where,O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once, He all doth save, Allleluia!
Where's thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise; Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.  Alleluia!"

I will borrow the words to another familiar hymn to further my point today:

"Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus, my Saviour! 
He tore the bars away, Jesus, my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign!
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!"
(Christ Arose, by Robert Lowry, 1826-1899)

In reciting these words for you above, I am stating my battle cry..."Christ the Lord is Risen Today"..."Where, O death, is now thy sting? Where's thy victory, O grave?"...and  "Death cannot keep his prey...Jesus, my Saviour...He tore the bars away...Jesus, my Lord!"......"He arose a VICTOR from the dark domain, and HE LIVES FOREVER WITH HIS SAINTS TO REIGN!"

We have a victorious Savior...and because Christ is a living Savior...we too shall overcome this life and be resurrected to life eternal.  But we don't have to wait until we die to have eternal life...That is something that starts right now...but, as our pastor taught us this morning...
"We have to die first to have a resurrection."...We have to die to self, die to the desires of this world, die to the things that hold us back from living the life God intended us to live...bad habits, fear, doubt, anger, jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness... we need to let these unhappy feelings, memories, and unwholesome thoughts perish from our minds and hearts, and instead embrace a resurrection of love, forgiveness, hope, trust, and faith in God...and

"let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom..."
(Colossians 3:15-16)

 We have a choice...we can continue to live as though we have no hope of the resurrection...or we can embrace the resurrected life right now...by faith in our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ...Who LIVES...and is preparing a place for you and me right now so that we can be with Him forever in Paradise...(see John 14: 1-6)

I've already made my choice...what about you???

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Wave the White Flag! I Surrender!

I wasn't going to write about this, but this was the last straw.  I have to get this off my chest somehow, and you've been elected!

Imagine this...on this lovely first day of spring evening, while standing outside in my front yard watering our little apple trees,

listening to the the birds chirping in the trees...

enjoying the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere of the forest surrounding me...

What to my wondering eyes does appear but a little white haired 92 + year old lady rushing out onto my front porch,waving something white in her hands and calling me, 
"Oh Pam, where are you? Can you come here?"  
Me, trying to determine what she is waving at me and also trying to ascertain if this is an emergency or just another moment of anxiety because I wasn't within her immediate sight at all times (even though her very capable son was right inside in the same room with her)...anyway...let me warn you this is going to get "graphic", so if you are squeamish about what little old ladies might be capable of, you'd better turn away now or be forever engulfed in ....laughter...I am sure of that...

Anyway...as I am trying to disentangle myself from the water hose and move closer to where my mother in law is hurrying across the porch (amazingly swift for a little old lady) and down the steps waving this white something in her hands, she starts hollering and waving the item of concern, yelling loudly for all the birds and rabbits and squirrels to hear: 
"I soiled my underpants! Do you want me to just throw them away, or what can we do with them?"

By this time I am not sure whether to laugh or cry or scream...because this is only the second full day of our 9 day "nanny-sitting" while her other caregivers (son & family) have taken their children off for a spring break vacation to the mountains...and the "interesting moments" of living with a dear mother in law with dementia are just getting better and better.  (FYI: We normally share the care-giving duties by caring for her Friday-Monday morning, and they have her Monday afternoon-Friday morning).

One case in point prior to the undie issue, she had been told to be sure and pack enough clothes for 9 days.  Her idea of clothes for 9 days included 4 pairs of slacks, a few pairs of undies, (and NO, she will NOT wear DEPENDS, even though the Doctor told her she needs to, and we have pleaded with her, but she says it feels like a mattress between her legs, so you know what I had to do with the white thing she was waving at me?  Yes, wash it.) and one blouse...the one she was wearing.  When I asked her if she had packed any other tops to wear, she said,
"Oh, this white one matches all my different colors of pants, and I didn't have any other ones." Me, looking at the food stains already on the white top said, "Well, maybe I can loan you another top so I can wash that one for you." She: "But, do you have one that matches all my pants? That last one you loaned me was a little large."  Me: "Well, it will have to do because I've already given you all of my smaller shirts that fit you and they are in your closet at B...'s house somewhere."
So, the one white top was washed yesterday, along with her favorite white sweater that she never takes off unless you can talk her into the fact that it really is dirty and needs to be washed so she will look clean and neat for company.  She wore my too-large white top while hers was being washed, and I convinced her to keep mine on until this morning so she would have a nice clean top to wear to our neighborhood church service here in our home.

This morning also happened to be the Sunday we celebrated the Lord's Supper, and wouldn't you know, as soon as she sipped her little cup of grape juice, she called to me from across the living room to show me that she'd dripped purple grape juice on her nice clean white shirt that I'd just washed?  So, as soon as the service was over, off came the white top, back into the bleach water, washed and dried and hung back up for tomorrow. Yes, she is wearing my, thankfully, old white top again in the meantime.  I'm not going to bother washing it every time it gets a spot on it...I mean, enough is enough...

Now, please don't judge me or tell me how fortunate I am to have her here with me.  KNOW that beyond a shadow of a doubt....I sincerely LOVE my mother in law. I truly do not mind caring for her.  She has been a wonderful mother in law, grandmother, and mother, and I feel honored to have been her daughter in law for going on 47 years!  We've been through a lot together over the years, and I feel I owe it to her to honor her in her old age and care for her the best I can. So I am sharing these things not to complain, but to let off a little steam and hopefully give you a chuckle at the same time.
(Click on the purple links above to read previous stories about this topic).

The other "fun" thing we deal with on a regular basis is her fixation with time.  I suppose when you are almost 93 years old, time becomes very precious to you. It must be, because every five minutes she gives us a report of the current time. It usually starts in the morning with the taking of her first pill of the day just prior to getting out of bed.  If I don't deliver it to her by 7:00 a.m., she comes running out of her room and asking us "Is something wrong?" "Where is everyone?"  From there it would seem that the whole day revolves around her pill schedule. After her morning pills following breakfast we start hearing about her afternoon pills.   They are scheduled to be taken around 3:30 p.m.  Usually around noon she asks us every five minutes if it is time for her pills yet.  This afternoon I was dozing in my recliner.  At precisely 2:45 p.m. she loudly calls my name and says, "Are you sleeping?"  I said no, I was just "resting my eyes".  She says, "It's a quarter to three. It's almost time for my pills!"  I said, "I know what time it is. I won't forget your pills." She keeps agitating every five minutes and says that she hardly ever waits until 3:30 to take her pills.  I know this. We usually give in and give her the pills around 3:15 because that last half hour is not worth the constant five minute reminders.

Since I've been typing this for the past however long, she has been sitting here next to me in her recliner. She has a little analog clock in front of her that she looks at every couple of minutes and then gives us the time report.  She can no longer decipher a digital clock.  She says the digital alarm clock in her room is all crazy numbers. She cannot figure out that 6:55 is five minutes before 7:00.  I am now shopping for an analog style alarm clock that lights up to put next to her bed so she won't get out of bed early and come looking for us because she can't read the clock. (Yes, she has done that.)

Yes, caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely challenging. I remind myself that I will probably be like this someday and I hope someone will either take such good loving care of me or else just shoot me. (well, maybe not quite that extreme, please?)  No one wants to be put in a nursing home. Take a look at one anywhere and you will see why.  But sometimes there are simply no other alternatives.  We pray that we won't ever have to make that decision for our dear one. That is why we take our turns and do our best to keep her safe and happy. However, it has been taking a toll on our families, both in health, energy, stress, and emotional frustrations.  I am happy that my brother in law and his family are able to take a vacation for spring break with their children.  My hubby and I plan to get away for a few days after they get back as well.

Thank you for allowing me this little opportunity to vent and let go of some pent up steam.  You've been good therapy for me tonight. Now it is TIME for a certain little white haired lady to head for her bed. And then it will be time for a certain not so little used to be red-headed lady to head for HER bed.

Oh, she just said to me, as she does EVERY night when she goes to bed,  "Are you gonna wake me up and give me that little pill at 7:00 o'clock in the morning?" And I said, "Now what do you think? Don't I do that EVERY morning?" And she grinned and said "Okay. I love you. I'll see you in the morning." And I said, "Okay. I love you too. See you in the morning."

And we both said:
"Good Night."

Here she is, enjoying a wonderful lunch with her family! You gotta love this dear woman.
Yes, I surrender.  I do!

"Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you."  Deuteronomy 5:16

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Deliverance.... (reposted from March 30, 2010) Updated

Update for Palm Sunday, 2015, 2016, written from the living room our
"Camp Of the Woods Home Bible Fellowship" (Our home).

UPDATE FOR PALM SUNDAY, 2013. 2014!  2015! 2016! I originally wrote this for Palm Sunday in 2010.  Not a lot has changed in  3 4  5  6 years...actually not a lot has changed in 2013 2014  2015 2016 years! But, Jesus is STILL the answer...Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever!  Amen! (2014) And Amen again! (2015) and again! (2016) !
Psalm 34:4  "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

Deliverance...what does that word mean to you?  It has a very welcome sound to the captive...those who are held captive in any kind of prison, whether it be a prison with bars and high walls, or a prison of fear and isolation...the thought of deliverance brings hope and joy and peace.  For many in today's economy, there is a tremendous amount of anxiety over the future...people fear losing their jobs, others fear not being able to find a job. Retired folks are concerned about their savings running out too soon, or having health issues that will rob them of what little security they have left.  Our nation is in turmoil over health care reform and the brittle financial and housing market. (2015 AND 2016:  Race Relations, World Terror via ISIS, Religious persecution, upcoming election )... People look to our national leaders and hope that they will make some wise decisions that will bring relief, and yet that so-called relief often comes with a high price tag that will endanger the future security of our children and grandchildren for many years to come. 

Where can we find this deliverance that we are seeking?  Is there anyone who can come and set us free from our bondage to fear and doubt?

Psalm 34:15 says, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry." Verse 17 says "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles."

The Jews back in the time of Jesus were desperate for a leader who could deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman government. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, the people cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! The King of Israel!" (John 12:13) They hailed Him as their King and Messiah, but they were seeking an earthly king for an earthly kingdom.

A few days later, when Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples, He  stood before Pilate, the Roman governor.  Pilate asked Him if He was the King of Jews.  Jesus responded to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world."...."My kingdom is not from here..."  (John 18:36)  He went on to say in verse 37, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."

Jesus came to prepare our hearts for the kingdom that is yet to come, that is a Heavenly Kingdom.  In the meantime, His Holy Spirit gives us strength and grace to endure the trials and tribulations that are common to all of mankind. He came to deliver us from all our fears and troubles.  Do we still have financial difficulties? Do we still have health problems or other major concerns? Yes. As long as we are on this earth there will be trouble and sorrow......but hear what Jesus said in John 16:33~
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." 

Through Christ, we are overcomers. "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."  
Deliverance....yes, that is what Palm Sunday and Easter is all about....Think about it.  
This is just the beginning of the story...not the end.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Where Do I Go? Who Do I Run To?

Someone asked me the other day who I had to lean on when going through difficult trials. There was and is only one answer:

"I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my ROCK and my FORTRESS and my DELIVERER;
My GOD, my STRENGTH, in Whom I will trust;
I will call upon the Lord,
Who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

The pangs of death surrounded me,
and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
and cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
and my cry came before Him,
even to His ears."
Psalms 18:1-6

"He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
from those who hated me,
for they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the LORD was my SUPPORT.
He also brought be out into a broad place;
Psalm 18:16-19

"For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
Is 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 18:31-33

"The Lord lives!!
Blessed be my ROCK!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted."
Psalm 18:46

It is God and no other Who has saved me!
It is God and no other Who has rescued me!
There is NO GOD like JEHOVAH!!!

My dear friend...Let me tell you from personal experience...Jesus is the Rock that you can cling to when all the world has turned against you.  He is the ONLY Savior Who will rescue you from sinking sand and the overwhelming floods of life.  There is no other who can save you. There is no other who can restore you. There is no other who can carry you when you cannot take one. more. step.  

Do you know this Jesus?  Have you learned to call upon His Name? That's all you need to know.
He is all you need to know.  Call upon HIS MIGHTY NAME, and your cry will come before 
God Almighty..."even to His ears!" (see verse 6 above)

I don't think there is anything else I need to add to this.  God's Word is true. He does not lie.
If you are lost and feeling all alone, cry out to the Rock of YOUR Salvation! 
He will not turn you away. 

"Therefore I will give thanks to YOU, O Lord, among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to YOUR NAME!"
Psalm 18:49

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: A Refreshing Pause

I am linking up with Wordless Wednesday friends today for the first time. Click on the link to check out other "Wordless Wednesday" blog posts today!

Ahhhh..."Calgon, Take Me Away!"

I hope you enjoyed the refreshing pause to your Wednesday!  Be Blessed, My Friends!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Blueberry Cake~ Tea Time in the Garden

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful;
for beauty is God's handwriting--a wayside sacrament.  
Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower,
and thank God for it as a cup of blessing."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Note to reader:  I started writing this last night when the cake was hot and bubbly and fresh out of the oven. However, this special treat deserved better attention...so this morning it became an occasion for "Tea Time in the Garden".  Enjoy along with me...and the recipe will follow.

(for china descriptions see postscript below)

"Let the thankful heart sweep through the day and,
as the magnet finds the iron,
so it will find, in every hour,
some heavenly blessings!
Henry Ward Beecher

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"
Psalm 46:10

"As flowers carry dewdrops, 
trembling on the edges of the petals,
and ready to fall at the first waft of wind or 
brush of bird,
so the heart should carry its beaded words of thanksgiving;
and at the first breath of heavenly flavor,
let down the shower, 
perfumed with the heart's gratitude."
Henry Ward Beecher

Blueberry Cake
My good friend Diane sent this "Minnesota State Fair Prize Winning Recipe" to me a few years ago, and I hate to admit that I am just now getting around to trying it!  Chalk that up to retirement this past fall...which now gives me the time to try new stuff and experiment a little more.  (And to have tea time in the garden!)

I don't think Diane will mind my sharing this recipe with you...so here goes:

Cream together 3/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup butter

Mix together one egg, 1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk...which is what I used because I had some left over in my fridge that needed to be used), and 1/2 tsp. almond extract.

Sift together 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and stir together.  Fold in 2 cups blueberries and sprinkle on the following topping.  Bake in a greased 10" springform pan at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  (I didn't have a springform pan, so used an 8x11 pyrex pan.)


1/4 Cup Sugar, 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, 1/3 Cup Flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 Cup Butter.  Mix together until crumbly.  Sprinkle over the cake batter before baking.

Now, why don't YOU bake this wonderful blueberry cake and have your own tea party in the garden? Or in your dining room...or on the porch...or wherever you can sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with a friend or even by yourself...and just enjoy!

"You will show me the path of life;
In Your Presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalms 16:11

Postscript:  I know some people love to know what the different china pieces are.
The small Pansy teapot was made in Czech Republic by Flaas & Cajzek.  
The sugar and creamer and tea cup are actually more of a child's size, and are made by Lefton's China, #2912 violet pattern.  
The saucer under the cake is a part of a teacup set, also a violet pattern, made by Salisbury Bone China, England.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Moments of Grace: Renewal and Restoration

"Create in me a clean heart,
O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
and sinners shall be converted to you."

Psalm 51:10-13 NKJV

We are in the middle of the Lenten Season...and although I didn't make any particular commitments to "give up" anything for Lent, it has been on my mind anyway~ not so much the "giving up", but the commitment to make this time count for some positive growth in my spiritual life.  

Looking at the picture above of the geranium plant growing in the teapot is an example of the renewal and restoration process that God wants to work in our hearts.  You see, that teapot was once my everyday teapot for making my morning cup of hot tea as well as steeping the tea for our family's pitcher of iced tea each day.  One day I noticed a hairline crack had developed where the handle attaches to the pot, and it became necessary to retire this teapot from its regular use, lest the handle should  break off and spill the boiling hot contents on an unsuspecting person.  Removing this teapot from service made me feel a little sad because it still looked so pretty and it seemed such a shame to just throw it away.

(This was when I originally put the broken cutting in water. It did okay
for a little while, but soon became weak and pale and no longer produced flowers.)

Then I remembered that I had been rooting a broken off piece of my geranium plant in a jar of water on the kitchen windowsill for several months...but it was starting to look a little pale and weak trying to survive in just water.  Perhaps it would grow better in some potting soil in...yes! The cracked teapot!

After replanting the rooted cutting in the nourishing potting soil and setting it in a sunnier window, the plant began to put out more foliage and eventually a new flower shot up as seen in the first picture above.

What a lovely example of the grace of God as seen in Psalm 51:10-13.  That cracked teapot and broken geranium is a lot like our souls when we have sin in our lives.  We became broken and fractured by the wind and storms and cares of this life, and rather than casting us away, Jesus came along and picked us up, put us in the soil of His Holy Spirit and watered us with His love so that we could be renewed and restored to new life.
Kind of like having a brand new "clean heart"and restored joy!

What are some examples of God's renewal and restoration that you have seen in your life?