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, January 31, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles-Day 8-A Great Cloud of Witnesses


"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded 
by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, 
and the sin that so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race
that is set before us...


Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,
Who for the joy that was set before Him 
endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

"Here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that You're my God.

You're altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me."

(Michael W. Smith - "Here I Am To Worship")

I read in my devotions this morning the passage from Hebrews 12:1-2 shared above with the pictures of the two doves in the tree.  Just as I was looking up into the sky to see if there were any clouds to photograph to go along with this passage, (there wasn't a cloud in the sky!) , these two doves flew in and landed on the tree above me...which was absolutely perfect in so many ways...they signify not only the "cloud of witnesses", but also doves are the symbol of peace as well as the sign of the Holy Spirit!  Could there be any greater sign to me that the Lord is in this place?


"Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place;
I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can hear the brush of angels' wings,
I see glory on each face;
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place."

(Surely the Presence of the Lord by Lanny Wolfe)


Who is this "great cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12:1?  These verses follow the Great Hall of Faith found in chapter eleven...an anthology of so many of the saints of old who had gone on well before this was ever written, and it tells about their great faith, many who died as martyrs for their faith, and who remained faithful to God even though they never saw the fulfillment of the promises they had hoped for...and yet they are now in heaven...watching and cheering us on in our earthly race of faith.

And as I sit here in this beautiful place, surrounded by God's marvelous creation, I stop and realize that I am not alone.  Not only is God Almighty present here with me, but so are these saints of old...and those whom I've known and loved here on earth who have already passed on to glory...and they are rejoicing to see this day, cheering me on in my pursuit of holiness and peace.  

Then I also realize that because God has led me to share what He is teaching me here with you out there in "blogland"...also known as "The Cloud" in cyberspace terms, you are also a part of that "great CLOUD of WITNESSES".  Many of you have been cheering me on in the creation of the Secret Garden and in the writing of these Chronicles each day.  

It is amazing, as I sit here, I can sense your presence as well, and it's as though we are sharing in this communion with the Lord together...and the "Secret Garden" isn't really very "secret" at all, is it?
It's actually a lovely big open sanctuary, where we can all gather in Spirit and rejoice together, encourage one another, share our burdens...

How?  Because God's Holy Spirit transcends time and space.  He unites the hearts of those who are of the same mind and spirit.  And when these words are shared with you, whether you are in Florida, Ohio, Idaho, Iowa, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, New York, or California...to name a few...wherever you are, and no matter what time of day or night it is, when you enter "The Secret Garden" with me, something almost "magical" happens.  No, I don't really mean magical in the worldly, mystical sense, but in the realm of God's Holy Spirit, there is an invisible bond that binds us together in love...that bond is shared only by believers in Jesus Christ, and it is just as real as any material object you may old in your hands, and yet it is not visible to the human eye.

We are a beautiful fellowship of saints, brought together by Christ, and He inhabits our praises. 

"But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
Psalm 22:3, KJV

So, today I want to give thanks to the Lord for His kindness and grace, and for allowing us to share in this ministry of encouraging one another in our own "race" of faith.  That is what this is all about.
It's not about me and this lovely Secret Garden.  It is about all of us, as we are all on this journey of faith together...seeking the Lord's Face in our own secret places...and recognizing that we are not alone in our personal struggles...We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit to guide us...AND we have the fellowship of this "Great Cloud of Witnesses", cheering us onward and upward in our great race toward the prize of heaven.  Thank you, dear friends in the "cloud", for being a part of this journey with me!!!

Now here a few other witnesses from in and around the Secret Garden today...Just thought you'd enjoy seeing who else might be watching!







I pray that you have a marvelous day...and remember,
there is a whole great big cloud of witnesses out there
cheering you on to victory!!!
So, how can we lose?




Monday, January 30, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles-Day 7- Some Good News


I really need this today...



Just as I was preparing to sit down at my computer tonight to "transcribe" my notes from this afternoon's journal writing in the Secret Garden, the power went off!  We weren't having any kind of storm, so it must have been some kind of accident or a transformer blowing somewhere.  Anyway, we enjoyed about an hour of candlelight and peace and quiet with no television or other noise.  We actually sat in the softly lit living room and started telling stories and having real conversation instead of talking back to the TV. (Does anyone else do that?)  I was almost sorry to see the lights come back on, except for the fact that it is rather chilly here, going down in the 30's tonight, so I am thankful that we will have heat and lights and our pump can pump our water again!  And, I can now sit here and write to you!

Now, back to The Secret Garden Chronicles, written this afternoon...

As I sit down in the garden today, I feel a deep sense of relief.  
Here's my hubby with his mother, taken last week when we visited
while she was playing BINGO!
It's been a busy morning, going to visit my mother in law in the nursing home,
and then also meeting some of my husband's relatives for lunch prior to their going to  visit at the nursing home as well.  

It was very refreshing to spend time with them...strong Christians with very similar interests and feelings as we have on many topics concerning the current political climate in our country...and the constant barrage of negative news on the air waves.  It is so comforting to be with people who are like-minded and Spirit led.

Thank You, Lord, for putting Your people together at the right time and place!




Here's my mother in law on the bottom right, with her cousin on the left, and her nephew and lovely wife on the back row. She was very pleasantly surprised to see them!

By the way, my mother in law told us today that she loves this place and doesn't want to leave!  That was a great bit of news...and a real comfort to us to know that she is adjusting so well to her "new home".  She is making new friends and loves all the activities, as much as she is able to do.  God has truly answered our prayers.

Now, back to the Secret Garden...again...



As I come before Your throne, O Lord, quiet my heart, mind, and spirit so that I can focus my thoughts toward You.



"Father, I adore You;
Lay my life before You;
How I love You.

Jesus, I adore You;
Lay my life before You,
How I love You.

Spirit, I adore You;
Lay my life before You,
How I love You."

I can almost hear the echo of this "round" in my head as I sing...other voices join in unison, and then in a three part round.  So melodic, touching the very chords of my heart.  I may be here in this garden alone, but with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all present...we are ONE!

Dear Friends, Won't you sing along with me? I hope you know this worship song...

"Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy, Holy,
Lord God Almighty.
And we lift our hearts before You 
as a token of our love,
Holy, Holy. Holy, Holy.

Gracious Father, Gracious Father,
We're so blest to be Your children
Gracious Father.
And we lift our heads before You 
as a token of our love,
Gracious Father, Gracious Father.

Precious Jesus, Precious Jesus,
We're so glad that You've redeemed us,
Precious Jesus.
And we lift our hands before You
as a token of our love,
Precious Jesus, Precious Jesus.

Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,
Come and fill our hearts anew,
Holy Spirit.
And we lift our voice before You 
as a token of our love.
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
And we lift our hearts before You 
as a token of our love.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah."

While I was sitting here singing, my sweet son came and put this sign up in the Secret Garden...in a location where I will see it as I sit down to worship and pray and write.  I wanted it there before me to remind me each day that as I enter this sacred place, I am to stop what I am doing, BE STILL, and  KNOW that God is present...He is here, and He asks me to acknowledge His Presence.


Maybe it will help the chickadees to be still as well...



It's so easy to become distracted by the things of the world, even here inside this beautiful place, which is set apart expressly for communion with God.  If I don't leave my worries and frustrations at the gate when I enter, it will be difficult to open my heart and mind to what God is wanting to say to me.









Today I was directed to read Psalm 45:1-7
(My Bible notes state that "This great Psalm of the King, with Psalms 46-47, obviously looks forward to His advent in glory."  (The New Scofield Study Bible, NKJV)
I really love this first verse...I felt like it was written just for me:

1> "My heart is overflowing with a good theme.
I recite my composition concerning The King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

2> "You are fairer than the sons of men.
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore, God has blessed You forever.

3> Gird Your sword upon Your thigh,
O Mighty One,
with Your glory and Your majesty.

4> And in Your majesty ride prosperously
because of TRUTH, humility, 
and righteousness.
And Your right hand shall teach You 
awesome things.

5> Your arrows are sharp in the heart
of the King's enemies.
The peoples fall under You.

6> Your throne, O God, is FOREVER and EVER!
A scepter of righteousness is
the scepter of Your Kingdom.

7> You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God,
has anointed You with the oil of gladness
more than Your companions."

I really became excited while reading this passage about our Lord, Jesus Christ, The Mighty One, The King. I can envision our Lord, the King of kings, riding in glory and majesty, and His throne is FOREVER!  A scepter of righteousness...and He is riding on the clouds, coming to gather His Bride, The Church and all the saints of old, and take us into heaven...where we will reign with Him -FOREVER!  What a glorious day that will be...

In Revelation 22:12-13  Jesus says:

"And behold, I am coming quickly,
and My reward is with Me,
to give to everyone one 
according to his work...

I AM the ALPHA AND THE OMEGA,
THE BEGINNING AND THE END,
THE FIRST AND THE LAST!

Verse 17:

"And the Spirit and the Bride say, "COME!"
And let him who hears say, "COME!"
And let him who thirsts come...
Whoever desires, let him take
the water of life freely..."

Verse 20:

"He who testifies to these things says,
"Surely I Am coming quickly."
Amen, even so,
COME, LORD JESUS!"

After a difficult week, with a lot of contention in the news and our world, these thoughts of Christ returning for His Bride are very comforting to me.  It is my prayer that this will be a comfort to you as well, my friends.  When we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior and Coming King, we have nothing to fear about the future.  And that is GOOD NEWS!!!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Afternoon Tea Time and a New Perspective

Yesterday I was thrilled to find this lovely little teapot at our local flea market.  I was drawn like a magnet across the yard to it as soon as my eyes rested upon it's loveliness.


As it turned out, I actually knew the couple who was selling it, and it belonged to the man's grandmother!  So that made it even more special to me.  I brought it home and cleaned it up and did a little research on the manufacturer of this sweet little teapot:


And I found out that the McCormick Tea Company in Baltimore, MD, actually contracted with the Hall China Co. from East Liverpool, Ohio to manufacture these pots back in the 1940's-90's.  This vintage teapot was most likely from the 1950's or thereabouts, which makes it at least as old as I am!


The teapot actually came with an infuser for loose tea, which was included with my pot...so I am thrilled that it came with all of it's original parts intact, with the exception of a little chip/crack in the infuser.

So naturally, a new teapot warrants a tea party, don't you agree? Since none of the men in the house were interested in attending an afternoon tea party with me, and since it was too blustery of a day to invite anyone over at such short notice, I decided to enjoy a little tea party with my favorite baby doll, "Baby Elva"...


Here she is, all dressed up in her pink party dress, which was actually my very own baby dress! So the teapot isn't the only antique at this party!


Anyway, as I sat here in my rocking chair, sipping Red Rose Tea from a sweet, delicate little bone china "June Bouquet" tea cup that was a gift from my Grandma "Elva" Mursch (yes, Baby Elva is named after my grandmother...and in honor of the March for Life/Sanctity of Life this week, click HERE for more on that story),


I picked up one of my delightful little books about tea time to read..."So Rare a Treasure" by Sandy Lyman Clough.  Sandy is a renowned artist as well as writer...and her claim to fame is her beautiful paintings of teacups and teapots and many other lovely antique treasures.


As I sat there reading and sipping tea and munching on a delicious store-bought "Chip's Ahoy made with bits of Reese's Peanut Butter cup" cookie, I was struck with a new perspective on something that I had been thinking about earlier today.

This morning my hubby was talking to me about my blog, in particular about the new series that I'm writing, "The Secret Garden Chronicles", and he was encouraging me to think about writing a series of small devotional style books---perhaps E-books...and his idea was that they didn't have to be 365 pages long with a devotional for every day of the year, which is what my goal had always been but I'd given up on because it was too exhausting...but that perhaps I should just put together maybe 20 chapters or stories, with the photographs that I take to go along with the stories, and that a shorter style of devotional book might be more realistic.

I kind of "pooh-pooed" the idea in my mind...(but I didn't tell him that), thinking that no one would want such a short book and it would be more trouble than it was worth, etc., you know...just being negative in my thinking...and then this afternoon I picked up this little book, and as I sat there reading through it while sipping my tea and eating my cookie, I noticed that it only had seventeen chapters/stories...and it was devotional in nature, writing about the things she loves...antiques, tea cups and other "treasures", with stories from the heart...
and I was enjoying reading this little book because it wasn't exhaustive...and it was delightful and encouraging...and suddenly I realized this was exactly the kind of book my husband was trying to tell me about this morning!

Now, trust me, I know he has never picked up this book or read anything quite like it, but he was describing it to me so accurately, that I have to believe he was inspired by the Lord to tell me this.

So now, what do I do with this idea?  I do what any God-fearing woman with a crazy idea would do...I pray about it..and seek God's wisdom first.

Psalm 37:5(NKJV)

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
If this idea truly is from the Lord, He will bring it to pass, in His time...and in His way.  So, dear friends, will you pray with me that God would give me a clear vision as to what He wants me to do?

Lord, I place this idea in Your hands today,
and I ask that You will guide me and give me wisdom.
Thank you for my hubby and his encouraging words to me today.
If this is truly from You, Lord, 
I commit this to You,
and I will trust You
to bring it to pass in accordance with Your will.
Amen.

The Secret Garden Chronicles-Day 6-He Hideth My Soul

Today it was a little rainy, cold and dreary, so it wasn't a good day to sit in the Secret Garden...
Looking out the window toward the Secret Garden

But  God had already prepared another place for me to sit under the cover of our back porch, and still be in a quiet, peaceful place, sheltered by His loving hands.


This is also a very special place , set apart as a memorial garden in loving memory of our precious son Matthew, who was called away to heaven much too soon for us, but right on time in God's perfect plan for his life.


And so I ventured out, and entered the garden and prepared my heart for worship.  The first thing I noticed before sitting down was how the birds were being sheltered within the trees and the birdfeeder, as they waited out the drizzly rain.




And immediately my heart started to sing and praise the Lord , yes, I actually sang silently so as not to disturb the birds, but my heart was singing out loud, and I know God heard me...

"A wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me..
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
where rivers of pleasure I see.

Chorus:

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
that shadows a dry thirsty land,
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
and covers me there with His hand...
And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Lord;
He taketh my burden away..
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved;
He giveth me strength as my day...

(chorus)

With numberless blessings 
each moment He crowns,
and, filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture,
Oh! Glory to God!
For such a Redeemer as mine!

(chorus)

When clothed in His brightness,
transported I rise
to meet Him in clouds of the sky;
His perfect salvation,
His wonderful love,
I'll SHOUT with the millions on high!!

(Chorus)
(He Hideth My Soul, by Fanny Crosby)

Then God directed me to Isaiah 51:15-16:

"But I Am the Lord your God,
Who divided the sea whose waves roared--
The Lord of hosts is His name.

And I have put MY words in your mouth,
I have covered you with the shadow of MY hand..."

And I responded with Psalm 32:7-8:

"You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.

I (God) will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will guide you with my eye."

Then God brought me to Psalm 31 as follows:

14> "But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, 'You are my God,
15>  My times are in Your hand...'"

19> "Oh how great is Your goodness,
which You have laid up for those who fear You...
which You have prepared for those who trust in You
in the presence of the sons of men!

20>  You (GOD) shall hide them in the 
"secret place" of Your Presence 
from the plots of man;
You shall keep them "secretly"
in a pavilion from the strife of tongues."

I couldn't help but notice how God was showing me how He is covering me (us) with His loving hands...and hiding us in the "secret place"...away from the plots of men and those who would seek to harm us.  In this current day and age, many of us have concerns about the "plots of men and those who would seek to harm us"...terrorists and other enemies of our nation, as well as the enemies of our faith.  But God is sheltering, protecting, and keeping us safe in the secret place of His love. We need not fear what man may do to us.

My heart broke out in song again:  singing the praise chorus that says...


"How Great Is Our God"
The splendor of a king
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps Himself in light,
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father, Spirit and Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see
How great, how great is our God

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

Name above all names
You are worthy of all praise
And my heart will sing
How great is our God

[3x]
How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see
How great, how great is our God


And then I sang the more familiar chorus to "How Great Thou Art"

"Then sings my soul,
my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art,
How great Thou art...

Then I looked across the page in my Bible Psalm 30, and I see some of the verses that I've underlined as they've become precious to me since the passing of our son almost three years ago...

Psalm 30:4-5

"Sing praise to the Lord,
you saints of His,
and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name...

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!"

Verse 11:

"You have turned for my my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
 12:

To the end that my glory may sing praise to You
and not be silent...
O Lord my God,
I will give thanks to YOU forever..."

"Then sings my soul,
My Savior God, to Thee...
How great Thou art,
How Great Thou art!"

No, I'm not so calloused that I no longer mourn or grieve the loss of our son, 
But...I KNOW where he is!!  He's with God Our Father, Jesus the Son, Our Savior, and the Holy Spirit...All there together...in heaven for eternity!  And we will see him again one day,
so how can I be sad?  He's safe at home, eternally!  Praise God for that peace and assurance!  

"Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation,
purchase of God,
born of His Spirit,
washed in His blood.

This is my story,
this is my song,
Praising my Savior
all the day long.
This is my story,
this is my song;
Praising my Savior all the day long!!"
Amen

(Blessed Assurance, by Fanny Crosby)
Note: I sure look forward to meeting 
Fanny Crosby someday in heaven!
What a blessing she has been to me and 
countless millions of people who have sung 
the hymns she wrote out of her heart and love for
Jesus Christ our Savior!


I pray that your Sunday worship is a time of great joy, knowing that the Lord hides our soul in the cleft of the rock...and that He is keeping us safe within the shelter of His loving hands.  
"How Great is OUR God!!!"  
Amen!!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Secret Garden Chronicles, Day 5: Rest = Silence=Worship



As we enter the Secret Garden today, this song comes back to me once again:

"The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord is in His holy temple;
Let all the earth keep silence,
Let all the earth keep silence before Him,
Keep silence, keep silence before Him."
Amen

In yesterday's post I wrote about Psalm 37, and in the process of reading that passage, verse 7 in particular...please note where it says "REST in the Lord...", there is a reference in my Bible that says the words "Rest in the Lord" literally means "Be silent to the Lord, and it gives a reference to Psalm 62:1, which says "Truly my soul silently waits for God..."

Well, since writing yesterday's post these words keep coming back to me, especially in the form of the call to worship chorus "The Lord Is In His Holy Temple", which is actually a quote from Habakkuk 2:20.  In trying to understand how the words "REST in the Lord" equates with the translation "Be SILENT to the Lord", the Lord drew my attention back to this song...and it's as if God is making a point here to me to notice something in this song that further explains what He means by REST=SILENCE.

Let us look at this music score together so we can further understand what God is telling me through this passage:


Do you see where it says, "Let all the earth keep silence" and then there is a little note or musical symbol after the word SILENCE...and that symbol is actually called a REST, which means that the singer and the instruments literally stop and REST, or be SILENT for just that moment before continuing on to the next phrase/note.  If you will further "note" (pun intended) the REST comes again after "Let all the earth keep silence before Him, and then every time  after the word "Silence", there is another REST!  Do you see what I see???

Lord, I love that YOU are making this point, especially in light of the fact that my "One Word" for 2017 is REST...and here I am, attempting to do just that as I come before Your presence here in this place that has been set apart particularly for worship, meditation, and REST in You.  I am in awe of what You are showing me as we come together each day.  Even though we are learning here that REST=SILENCE, I am seeing that in this time of RESTing in You, and being SILENT to You, I am learning more about what it means to  truly WORSHIP YOU.  The only thing is, it really is difficult for me to be SILENT when everything we do here leads me to give You praise!  However, I know there is something beautiful in silently coming before the Lord...and waiting on You to lead the way.


These songs come to my mind and voice as I think about this...

"Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me.
Place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit Divine."

("Open My Eyes That I May See" by Clara H. Scott)


and

"Spirit of the Living God,
Fall fresh on me,
Spirit of the Living God,
Fall fresh on me.
Melt me, Mold me, Fill me, Use me.
Spirit of the Living God, 
Fall fresh on me."

("Spirit of the Living God" by Daniel Iverson)

Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to come into Your Presence each day.  As I leave this place today, I am refreshed and rested. I am learning more about what it means to be silent before the Lord...and to allow His soothing Presence to calm my spirit and fill me with His Spirit...and then I am better equipped to tackle whatever comes along.  

Praise God!
Amen.