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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Am Not Alone

"And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me."
John 16:32b

The above drawing used to hang in my husband's study when he was serving as a pastor.  I drew this for him years ago after seeing this same picture on a card that someone had sent to us...so I can't take full credit for the idea...but it struck me so strongly that I had to duplicate it for a constant reminder that God would be with him through all the difficult days and times of searching for answers from God's Word to share with God's people.

Perhaps there is someone reading this today who needs to be reminded that you are not alone...because the Father IS with you...always!  How do we know this?  Because His Word promises...and God never goes back on His Word:

"Be strong and of good courage,
Do not fear nor be afraid of them;
For the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

"And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you.
He will be with you,
He will not leave you nor forsake you;
Do not fear nor be dismayed."
Deuteronomy 31:8

"Fear not, for I AM with you;
Be not dismayed, for I Am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

"Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your Presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell,
behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall fall on me,'
Even the night shall be light about me;"
Psalm 139:7-11

Jesus tells His disciples the following promise just before His departure from this earth into heaven...which is for all of us who bear His Name:

"Lo, I Am with you ALWAYS, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:20

Also Jesus promises to send us a helper...a comforter:

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, 
that he may abide with you forever..
the Spirit of truth,
whom the world cannot receive, 
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him;
but you know Him,
for He dwells with you and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; 
I will come to you..."
John 14:16-18

So, my friends, if you are feeling all alone in your battle with grief, disease, disappointments, tragedies and anxieties...if you cannot feel Christ's Presence in your life, I encourage you to claim these promises above for yourself today.  Rest in His loving arms, knowing that He is with you and will never leave you or forsake you.

There is a song that came to my mind while writing this that I would like to share with you...perhaps you've heard it...or maybe it will be new to you.  Click on this link to the song "Just Be Held" by Casting Crowns.    

Here are the lyrics:

"Just Be Held"  by Casting Crowns
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You'll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you'll find Me
And where you are, I'll hold your heart
I'll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won't let go

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held (stop holding on and just be held)
Just be held, just be held, just be held, just be held

So, no matter what you are going through right now, my prayer for you is that you will remember that you are never alone...God is with you always...and now, lay back into His loving arms and "Just Be Held".

"Peace I leave with you,
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid..."
Words of Jesus, 
The Gospel of John 14:27

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Desires of the Heart - Updated

This is a repost of what I wrote last year for Memorial Day, (5/25/15) on the 1st anniversary of the passing of our son Matthew.  Even though Memorial Day falls on a different day each year, we will always be reminded of our wonderful son and the life that he lived on this particular holiday. I guess that is rather fitting.  I submit this for you today in loving memory of our son, and continuing to pray for our precious Grandson as he grows and matures into the young man God intends him to be.

 I've had this little picture on my kitchen windowsill for many years. It isn't a spectacular picture, but it is a significant picture.  Look a little closer.....

This is a picture of me with my little grandson Noah when he was about three years old.  He had come to visit us (with his parents) all the way from Maine to Florida.

Noah was a delightfully inquisitive and expressive child...so full of questions and exuberance about everything that surrounded him in his little world.  Pretty typical for a three year old...and yet uniquely wonderful...because he was our very first (and only) grandchild! So of course he was the brightest and best little boy
ever to call anyone "Grandma".

In this particular picture we were planting something together...a pineapple plant to be exact...after cutting off the top of a pineapple and planting the top with its leaves in the dirt.  For Noah this was a big adventure...and for me...well, it was a big adventure because we were doing this together...planting for our future.

I don't know whatever happened to that pineapple.  We didn't live in that particular house very long, and I didn't have a green thumb, so I think it went the way of most plants...it probably died.  But we had such fun together digging in the dirt and placing the pineapple in the ground and patting the dirt back around it...and then giving it a good watering.  We did this together... and that is what was significant and wonderful.  I was delighted and thrilled to be planting something with my grandson...such a joy and blessing from the Lord!

After they went back home to Maine I framed this little picture and placed a scripture verse on the glass...

"Delight thyself also in the Lord, 
and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalm 37:4 KJV

and every time I looked at this picture I would pray for my grandson...and for myself to delight in the Lord as well. This child was such a delight, and even though we didn't get to spend much time together due to the distance between us, my prayer was that God would bless him and help him to grow strong in the Lord and strong in body, mind and heart. And that would be the desire of my heart for him.  

Noah, age 12, with a funny acorn.
As time went by this young boy grew stronger and taller and smarter every time we'd see him. He was always filled with joy and wonder about life. We were very proud of him, and continued to pray for God to bless him, and to give him (and us) the desires of our heart.

A few years ago something happened to change the direction of our prayers. His sweet daddy, our son Matthew, was diagnosed with an incurable and extremely aggressive cancer.  This was not the desire of our hearts for our son or for our grandson or for the rest of the family. This was a strange way to answer our prayers. I didn't understand. None of us understood God's plan.  But I kept praying and trying to delight myself in the Lord, with the hope that God would indeed give me the desire of my heart...and for the sake of our son and our grandson and his mama too, that God would hear my prayers and heal our son.  Sadly, that was not God's plan.  After a four year struggle, our son passed away one year ago, on May 25, 2014.  (click on link for that story).

Just recently my daughter in law Nicole sent me another picture.  As soon as I saw it my mind immediately went back to the little picture sitting on my windowsill, and I cried.

 This is a picture of my grandson Noah, quite grown up...fifteen years old. And here he is, planting in the ground again.  These plants are adorning the grave of his daddy.  Such a precious picture of love and devotion. I can imagine that Noah was talking to his daddy in his mind while he planted the flowers for him. 

And I looked at the little picture of us planting together when he was three, and I cried..."Lord, this is not how I thought life would turn out.  I thought if I delighted myself in YOU, that You would give me the desires of my heart.  The desire of my heart was never to see my grandson planting flowers on his father's grave...the grave of my precious son.  But, Lord, in Your sovereign will, this is where we are today. Now I must continue to pray for my grandson...and I must continue to delight myself in You...and I know that you WILL give me the desires of my heart concerning him.  My prayer was that he would grow up to be strong in the Lord, and strong in his body, mind, and heart. Even though I don't understand the way of Your plan, Lord, I will continue to trust in You...that perhaps even in this great loss and horrific sorrow, Your plan will be fulfilled. The desire of my heart will still be completed. 

The verses before and after Psalm 37:4 says this:

3."Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

4. Delight yourself also in the Lord,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5. Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass.

6. He shall bring forth your
righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

7. Rest in the Lord, 
and wait patiently for Him..."

I know that God is at work in this whole big picture.  He has promised to give me the desires of my heart concerning my grandson.  My part is to TRUST, DELIGHT, COMMIT, AND REST IN THE LORD...and He shall bring it to pass. 

I know that my son Matthew's  greatest desire was that his son would grow up to be strong in the Lord as well. 

Our son Matthew baptizing his son Noah

 He laid a firm foundation for him to stand upon. Things have been a bit rough, but God has promised to give us the desires of our hearts. So I will trust in Him.  He knows exactly what He's doing!

Noah and his Daddy Matthew doing Tae Kwon Do together

Noah and his Daddy walking in the woods
Noah and his Daddy on the big Moose Hunt
(click on the caption for this story)

Noah and Matthew in "The Shaving Lesson"
(click on the caption for this story)

Nicole, Matthew, and Noah on their last vacation together in St. Augustine, Feb. 2014

This story is dedicated to my grandson Noah, in loving memory of his daddy, our son Matthew, written for this Memorial Day, May 25th, 2015, the first year anniversary of Matthew's entrance into heaven.  May God hear my prayers and give me the desire of my heart.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"The Mighty One" - Updated

I originally posted this on 5/31/2014, just one week after the passing of our son Matthew...after his 4 year battle with a deadly foe that just wouldn't give up.  (Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor- DSRCT).  Today, 5/25/2016, marks the 2nd anniversary of his passing from this life into heaven. I repost this today to hopefully encourage someone out there who may be going through a similar trial and time of grief.  I can honestly say that it does get a little easier with time...but only in the sense that we move from raw, unabashed sorrow and tears to a quieter, sweeter kind of grief. Acceptance? Perhaps.  I know that in my head I do accept the fact that our son is gone from this earth forever...and that he is now in heaven...forever.  But I still miss hearing his voice and seeing his face and feeling the warmth of his hugs.  I will say that there are many times that I feel his presence near me...I really don't think heaven is all that far away.  If only we could just reach through that veil and grasp onto each other again...but that is not to be...yet.  

Someday I, too, will pass through that veil from this life into the next...and I truly believe that my son will be standing there, next to Jesus, with arms open wide...ready to welcome me "home".  Until that day we will continue to carry on his memory in our hearts and in little things that we can do to keep his flame burning brightly.  I pray that these words will bring comfort to someone today whose grief is still fresh and glaringly painful.  May God's peace be your peace today.  May you place your hope in Jesus...and trust Him to carry you through. He will.
Our Memorial Garden in our back yard, in loving memory of our son. A wonderful place to pray, meditate on God's Word, and remember a marvelous son.

Original Post 5/31/14:

"The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

It is hard for me to realize that it was just one week ago today that I said my last farewells to my son Matthew.  It would be several more hours, in the wee hours of the next morning that we would receive the word that he had taken his last breath here on earth.  Can it be that a week has already passed? I believe I have been floating in a cloud mixed with sorrow and relief all week long.  Sorrow that my wonderful son is no longer with us here on earth, and relief that my wonderful son is no longer suffering from disease and that he is now totally healed and safe in heaven.

I know, I have already said these things to you.  I don't need to remind anyone about these events that have transpired this past week, especially not myself.  Everyday brings fresh reminders to me as we prepare for his memorial service and think of ways to honor him and keep his flame burning bright.  Sweet memories flash before my mind's eye, pictures of a precious little baby born earlier than expected and who lived a marvelous life and  left this earth earlier than expected, 41 years later.

The one thing I am mindful of is how the Lord has been carrying me in His arms this past week. This morning as I read my daily devotions, the verse written above stood out in bright highlights to me. Especially the part about "He will quiet you with His love..."  Yes, He has done just that. I have felt His love tenderly quieting my heart every time I have given over my mind to grief. When the tears began to overflow out of my eyes, I felt His hand gently wiping them away as He caressed my face.  I believe I could hear Him singing a sweet lullaby as He held me close and rocked me like a little child who needed to be comforted.

This same One who saves us, rejoices over us with gladness, quiets us with His love, and rejoices over us with singing. I've heard Him singing...He has filled my heart with songs of joy, peace, promise and love.  I have been flooded with songs in the night, the daytime, and at times when I didn't even think I could or should be singing.

Some of you may not understand how I could feel this great comfort...you may think I'm a bit daft in the head. But for those of us who have been there, we know how wonderful it is to have such a "Mighty One" as this Lord our God in our midst. "The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save..."  

I take comfort in knowing that this "Mighty One" takes the time to notice my sorrow...He is touched with my grief.  And He assures me that 'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)

I cannot say enough about this "Mighty One"

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."  (Psalm 34:1)
This is the way I love to remember our "Deer" son.  Always smiling and full of joy and mischief.

For another post from Zephaniah 3:17, Click Here

Sunday, May 15, 2016

In One Accord

"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."  
Acts 2:1

I am feeling way behind in my reading of other friends' blogs...as well as writing my own.  It's been a busy month already, and we are only 1/2 way through.  Nothing especially special...just not much free time for me.  So I am feeling rather disconnected...from communication with the wonderful ladies I so enjoy who write such inspirational and deeply touching blogs...and from pouring out from my own soul the things God has laid upon my heart to share with you.

This past week I met with a small group of ladies from our neighboring communities who meet monthly for the express purpose of praying and sharing together from God's Word in one accord.  We don't have a set agenda or planned program, but usually one of the ladies leads with some scripture verses that the Lord has laid on her heart to share...and then it is beautiful to watch how God brings it all together as we each share what God has been teaching us in our own personal walk.  We share prayer concerns and encourage one another as the Holy Spirit ministers through us to one another. Some share a song or a Psalm.  Others may bring a poem or other devotional that spoke to them. It is the truest picture of being in one accord if ever I've seen such a thing before.  

I always come away from this informal, loving, Christ centered time of fellowship with a feeling of being on hallowed ground. Why? Because the Presence of the Living God was there...not so much in a "rushing mighty wind" (Acts 2:2), but more in a "still small voice" (I Kings 19:12)...a cooling, calming Spirit that permeated our souls as we lifted the Name of God on High in our prayers and praises...and penetrated our hearts and minds and bodies with His loving breath of life.  How is this possible?  Jesus said in Matthew 18:20:

"For where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am there in the midst of them."

Oftentimes I feel this same connection of being "in one accord" with my friends here in blogland.  There is a sweet spirit that permeates our communication that transcends time and space. Many/most of us have never met in person, and yet our spirits a drawn to one another in Christian love as we encourage one another through our comments and written posts.  It is a beautiful picture of Christ being in our midst even across many miles and possibly continents.  The Body of Christ is a marvelous thing, isn't it?  Someday we will be all together "in one accord" forever in heaven...but until then we will keep lifting each other up in words of hope and love and encouragement in our faith walk.

I promise to try to do better in the future in keeping up with you...and I thank you for keeping up with me as well. You are each a blessing to me as you share your spiritual gifts through your blog posts.

The above is a video from our prayer group...one of our ladies shared a song with us from her heart...and with a very beautiful gifted voice.  Please enjoy in the spirit of which it has been shared here.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Flowers for Mama - Updated 5-7-16

Updated 5/7/2016:  Today is the 10th anniversary of my Mother's passing from this earth.  This is a repeat of a post I wrote originally in 2010, and then updated in 2011, right after my father had also joined her in heaven.  In honor and loving memory of my Mother and all mothers past and present, Have a Blessed and Happy Mother's Day.  I repost this every year now on this day...missing my Mama still...guess I always will.  She was pretty wonderful.

"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12 KJV

(Updated 5/7/11)  Song of Solomon 2:11-13 “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell…”

Many years ago we answered the call of God to go and prepare for the ministry.  My husband chose a seminary in north central Ohio, which was an exciting new adventure for our whole family!  First snow for our kids...first driving in snow and ice for us...lots of fun adjusting to our new surroundings after living most of our lives in Florida. But that's another whole story I'll save for another day.

We had survived our first winter in Ohio living in a very large, old house out in a small community in the heart of farmland. Finally spring arrived in all its grandeur and beauty. I was so thrilled to discover that our yard was blossoming out in every direction! Since we had moved into this house in the early fall we were not prepared for all of the lovely flowers that would appear in the spring. There were tulips and daffodils springing up in flowerbeds all around the house. Then there appeared the blossoms of flowers I had never seen before, gorgeous large white and pink and rosy red peonies! Oh, what a delightful surprise they were! Their fragrance was exquisite.  Then the fruit trees started to blossom…we had apples, pears, plums, and cherries! It was a veritable "Garden of Eden". 
Me with my sweet little boys circa 1980:
Matthew in the space helmet, Benton, and Scotty
in front of the lilac bush
Mother's Day, Nova, OH

Next the lilacs started blooming…talk about fragrance! I was especially excited to see these delicate flowers appear because lilacs were my mother’s favorite flower, and since moving to Florida after being born and raised in the north, she was sad to discover that she was unable to grow them in the south. Every spring she would talk about the lilacs and long to see and smell them again. In honor of her, I joyously placed vases full of the beautiful flowers everywhere in the house and filled our home with their sweet perfume. 

Since my Mother and Dad’s anniversary was in the middle of May, I thought I would surprise them with a “fresh bouquet” from our garden. I gathered up bunches of lilacs, tulips, and apple blossoms, and carefully packed them and mailed them to Florida by priority mail. I wish I could have been there to see my mother’s face when she opened that box and saw those lilacs! She said although they were a bit wilted, she could still smell their heavenly fragrance emanating from the package. Even though they were falling off of the stems, she saved the blossoms and enjoyed them for days to come. I believe that was the best present I ever sent her.
Lilacs, tulips and apple blossoms from our yard, May 1980

Tears are rolling down my cheeks as I think of this today, as my dear mother has been gone to heaven for five years, exactly today. (written on 5/7/2011My sweet Daddy has just joined her in heaven, about two weeks ago. (April 19, 2011)  Since Mother passed away in the month of May, we requested that the florist find fresh lilacs to make a special bouquet for her funeral. They were able to do so, and I know it brought a smile to my mother’s face in heaven to know that we had done that for her. I can even imagine that the fragrance of those beloved flowers reached all the way to heaven’s gates.

I love you Mom...and we still miss you every day!  So happy for you that Daddy is there with you to help you celebrate this Mother's Day.  Love and kisses to you both...Your baby daughter, Pam

“Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Where Does Resilience Come From?

"All About Resilience"  (According to Psychology Today)

"Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on."   
Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/resilience

On the way home from purchasing our new flooring for our kitchen and dining room (see picture above)- (see pictures below for the back story to that), my hubby and I were talking about how blessed we were...not only in how the Lord has provided the way for us to take care of our floor problem...and how our wonderful sons and friends have pitched in to help us fix the situation, but just in general...how truly blessed we are.
I made the comment that even though we have been through some very difficult times in our lives...some you may know about, and many more you probably don't need to know about...God has helped us to be resilient throughout times of adversity...to bounce back from sorrows and tragedies, and in most cases to truly come back stronger than before...because of His amazing grace and mercy.
As the word "resilient" came to my mind and lips, I started to chuckle...and I said to my hubby..."just like our new floor...'Resilient...Waterproof...Sturdy...Quiet...'   and the chuckle was about the "waterproof and quiet" portion of the description.  Although it could be said that we have "weathered" many storms in life...but we've never been described as "quiet" by any stretch of the imagination as far as I could tell!
So, where does this resilience come from?  Is it something that we have acquired naturally, in our own strength?  Not hardly.  
Psychology Today has given an apt description of the word resilience...but God's Word explains just how we, who are called by His Name, are able to obtain this resilience and rise above the circumstances of this life and live victoriously.

In thinking about this, I looked into the scriptures to find some kind of reference to the word resilient.  Although I could not locate any specific verses using this particular word, there are many references that describe and explain how the believer in Christ is able to rebound from adversities. I won't be able to list them all for you here, but will give a few examples for you to explore on your own.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of 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--"
2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Isaiah 61:3 is an excellent example of how this resilience comes to us as a gift from the Lord...
"To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Psalm 30:5 is another example of how God is teaching us resilience:

"For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But JOY comes in the morning."

Many of us can quote Romans 8:28 as a verse that helps us to understand that everything that comes into our lives can be used for our good:

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

And the security we have as believers in Christ is this: 
(Romans 8:35-39)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, 
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written: 
For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Yet in all these things we are 
more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor principalities nor powers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth, 
nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Another favorite scripture passage helps us to understand where this resilience comes from:  Proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths."

Also Proverbs 3:11-12 comforts us when we do endure chastening:

"My son, do not despise the
chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights."

The back story on this is our dishwasher overflowed and damaged our kitchen floor. Thanks to
our homeowner's  insurance, we will be able to replace our kitchen floor and our adjoining dining room floor if we do the labor ourselves.  The malfunctioning dishwasher has been removed and will be replaced eventually.  
Actually, I've been enjoying washing the dishes and watching God's beautiful world outside my kitchen window.
I may not replace the dishwasher...well...let's think about that...

Anyway, our sons and  wonderful friends have pitched right in to
prepare the floor for that new "resilient, waterproof, sturdy and quiet" flooring

We'll stop here for now. The flooring will be installed soon. This is a very small problem compared to what so many have endured throughout our country.  I am so thankful for the resilience of my family through hard times and sad times that have been far greater than this.  But most of all, I am thankful for how the Lord gives us the strength we need to get through these difficult times.  

Where does your resilience come from? Something to think about.