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, July 5, 2020

Facing Our Battles With Eyes of Faith

I hope you all had a blessed and Happy 4th of July celebration at your home yesterday. We had a quiet day, but very meaningful.  Started out the morning putting the flag out on the front porch, with a beautiful sunny sky as a backdrop.  I always sing "The Star Spangled Banner" when I put the flag up. I just can't help it. I am thankful for our flag and all that it represents to our country.

I added a couple of other flags to the porch. They helped the porch to look a bit brighter and more festive. Sadly, my geraniums and other plants are suffering in the heat and not producing very well right now, so the flags made things better.

After breakfast I took a ride in the kayak around "Still Waters Pond".  
Not a lot different to see, so just enjoy the pictures of the water lilies with me...

Twins!! Double the beauty!

I discovered this different type of water lily in the shady area of the pond: It is a "Nuphar Lutea", or Yellow Pond Lily

There are very few of these on our pond, and I wish this picture was better, but the sun was so bright it was hard to get a truer picture of the bright yellow color.  But if you look at the link I posted above, it will give you a better picture of what it is supposed to look like. And guess what? They are edible!
However, I don't see myself trying to eat one anytime soon.

Okay, back to the ride around the pond...

This is on the other side of the island, in that little cove...

And here I am on the home stretch...

I think the underside of those lily pads is interesting too...(before they curl up and die).

I'm heading into shore...there is my "Secret Memorial Garden" up ahead...

So that's the tour.  Now on to today, Sunday. Yes! We finally went back to church!!!! What a beautiful day in the Lord's house!! I wish I had thought to take some pictures, but I did get one picture of our new pastor as he was speaking:
Here is a link to our church website and his sermon for today.  It was an excellent message and even better in person than the video, which was taped before this morning. We had a "full house", meaning with social distancing, every family group sitting six feet apart, wearing masks, no hugging...our fellowship hall was filled to capacity.  It is easier to meet there than in the sanctuary, as we cannot be quite as flexible in seating with pews, etc.  Hopefully this will only be temporary until this virus goes away or at least abates enough to  feel safe again.  Our pastor's message really gave us some very good ways to approach this situation we are facing.  His scripture was from II Chronicles 20:1-25.  The key verses were some that I already had underlined in my Bible from different situations throughout my life.

II Chronicles 20:12

"O our God, will You not judge them? 
For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; 
nor do we know what to do, 
but our eyes are upon You."

And hear God's response through His servant Jahaziel:

15.  "...Thus says the Lord to you:
'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, 
for the battle is not yours, but God's."

17.  "You will not need to fight in this battle. 
Position yourselves,
Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you...
Do not fear or be dismayed; 
tomorrow go out against them, 
for the Lord is with you!"

Perhaps you will find these verses comforting and helpful to you in whatever battles you may be facing in your life.  Whether it be, as in verse 9, "If disaster comes upon us--sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine--we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save."...whether it be our enemies in battle, or this current "pestilence", which is a plague, or even in famine...we can be assured that the Lord will hear us when we call out to Him in prayer.  We do not need to worry or fear...for "the battle is not yours, but God's"...and the Lord is with you!!  

I hope this is a comfort to you today, as it certainly was to me.  We are facing many kinds of enemies these days, and we need to know that we can rely on God to fight for us, and that He is with us no matter what the enemy may try to do.  Praise God!! What a blessing to know this...amen? 

Keep your eyes on 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 12:2

God bless you, and God bless America!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Freedom Isn't Free

"God Bless the U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood and the USAF

Some thoughts for the 4th of July. We have so much to be thankful for. We live in a free country, and we've been blessed beyond measure.

We have clothes on our backs, food in our stomachs, and a roof over our head...we have the freedom to stand and salute the flag, because so many fought and died for us so that we could live here in freedom. Or we have the freedom to kneel and not salute if that is what we think we should do, because we don't believe in what our flag represents. We have that right to make that choice because we live in freedom...because so many died so we could have that freedom...kind of ironic, isn't it?

We have the freedom to work, play, pray. Freedom to pursue our dreams, attend the colleges of our choice, freedom to worship, freedom to live in safety and peace. Or we have the freedom to protest when we don't like the way things are done so that we can make a point.

But all of our freedoms could so easily be lost if we don't realize the value of what we have.
On this 4th of July, Independence Day, May we take the time to be thankful for these freedoms and recognize what is at stake here. There is no greater country in the world than America. Even with all our problems, we still have the freedom to choose how and where we will live.

For those who don't appreciate what you have here, perhaps a trip to places around the world where others are wishing they could live in America would help. Go to Africa, Somalia, China, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, just to name a few.
Spend time in the jungles, deserts, war torn lands where thousands of people are starving and dying everyday from government imposed sanctions against their own people. Spend a day in an African village where children are dying for lack of water and food, living in a mud hut in the middle of the heat of the desert, naked and swollen from famine. Then come back here and tell us we shouldn't celebrate our freedoms or that America is not a good place to live.

But let me just make this one suggestion, until you have experienced what it would be like to live in a country where there are no such freedoms, and where people are dying for just a drink of water and would
gladly come and eat the crumbs from under your table just so they could survive, please don't put down our nation. Please don't bite the very hands that have been feeding you and taking care of you since the day you breathed your first breath.

Please don't be so ready to destroy what so many have fought long and hard to protect for the sake of millions who do appreciate it...Take a moment to be thankful you were born in America, where at least you are free.

It could so easily have been you who was born in that mud hut in Africa, or that jungle in Asia or South America. It could so easily have been you who was shot down in a war ravaged village in the middle of the desert.

I, for one, am extremely thankful to be an American. I pray we never lose these freedoms that we have taken for granted and taken advantage of. We are so blessed beyond measure...even the poorest people of America are better off than many people in this world.
So count your blessings and thank God that you live in the U.S.A.

Postscript: I wrote the above this afternoon on my Facebook page, after reading someone's tirade about how we should not celebrate the 4th of July, and how ashamed we should be of our country.  The worst part of this is that the person who wrote it is someone who has had a life of great "privilege" and has been blessed more than many...but that person does not attribute that blessing to God...no, that person doesn't believe in God. That person lives in a home that was literally a gift, paid for by the hard work of generations of people who did not take their freedom so much for granted. People who would always stand for the National Anthem, and were proud to be Americans.  But this person believes there are far better countries than America in which to live. However, that person has never, to my knowledge, traveled outside of the eastern seaboard of the United States. If they had, they never would say these things about America being so terrible a place to live in. They would be kissing the very ground they were given to live on, debt free and paid for. My heart breaks to read the kind of hatred and vitriol coming out of the mouth of one so blessed. But this person thinks we are the problem. We are the ones filled with hatred.  

What is really sad is this person is just an example of what so many of that generation seem to think and feel. They are blinded to the truth of what is truly an injustice in our society today. But I don't want to go there and cause further division.

I pray for healing of our nation, our people, our hearts.  However, as most of us here already know, there can be no healing in our nation until there is first repentance in our hearts.  I know we all have our own personal issues and feelings about what is right and what is wrong with our nation today. But God gave us a way to heal our land.  It is found in 

2 Chronicles 7:13-15

13 "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, 
or send pestilence among My people, 
14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, 
and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, 
and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 
15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place."

I know we've all read that verse many times, or have heard it preached upon often...but it is the only remedy for our current situation in our land. My prayer is that we will all think about these things during our Independence Day celebrations this weekend, and as we celebrate our freedom, let us humbly pray and seek God's face, repent of our own wrong-doings, and be a part of the healing and not a part of the division.  At least that's my prayer for me.  

Have a blessed and wonderful 4th of July weekend! Even if we can't be together with everyone we'd like to be with, try to do something special to celebrate our freedom!  

Thursday, July 2, 2020

July Already? Wow!

This changing to the new month of July crept up on me! I didn't even turn the pages on my calendars until today...and here is what I am seeing now for July:
John Sloane 2020 Country Seasons calendar

I love this Red, White, and Blue garden and country front porch with it's American Flag waving in the breeze.  Love the dog too.  Just noticed the red, white and blue ball in the walkway...perhaps the doggy is waiting for his friend to come back and play with him.  What a good doggy.  

Here is my front porch and flag, waving in the morning breeze. Just don't have the doggy.  

Although a neighborhood dog did come through our yard this morning and even came up on our back deck. Not sure where it came from, but it soon moved on, after scaring the Great Blue Heron out of the pond and onto a post.

Speaking of "Still Waters Pond",
Look at this "bi-plane"...dragonfly. I spied him from a distance, and had to come and see him up close.

Isn't he neat?

I thought you'd like that. I love that he loves to eat mosquitoes, so he is welcome to stay as long as he wishes.

Back to changing the calendars, here is my TeaTime Calendar page for July.
"Crazy for Sea Shells" tea set.  
With our current restrictions in place due to Covid 19, sadly there won't be much seashell gathering this 4th of July weekend. All the beaches are closed again to keep people from spreading the virus.
Very sad indeed.

Do you have any particular plans to celebrate the 4th of July this weekend? I guess we won't be doing anything extra special this year. No one wants to travel or gather due to the current uptick in the "virus". Normally we would have a big family gathering and make home made ice cream and have a BBQ. Maybe we will just buy our ice cream this year and grill our own hamburgers just for us. Ann over at Cottage by the Sea suggested that we should read the Declaration of Independence.  (I am sorry I missed the weekly Tuesday 4 Meme this week. You can check it out Here. ) In light of our current nation's situation, that sounds like a very good idea. It is important to remember what this day is really all about.  Sadly our younger generations have no clue what this country has been through in the past 244 years. If we don't value our freedom, we are in great danger of losing it. 

As you prepare for the Independence Day celebration this weekend, I truly hope you will take time to pray for our country, for our President, and for all of our leaders.  Also let us remember to pray for those who are affected by the Covid 19 virus that seems to have made a comeback in activity.

We just came from a meeting at our church, where we are preparing to reopen this coming Sunday. However we will be taking all necessary precautions of social distancing and mask wearing, no congregational singing or choir. We will partake of The Lord's Supper, but again with safe procedures in place. May the Lord be honored and exalted by all that we do.
This will be a day celebration as we welcome our new pastor, and as we also welcome our members back who have missed being together for the past four months. Although we will not be doing any hugging, our spirits will be soaring and reaching up to the heavens together as we pray and worship the Lord with one voice.
"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
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"

On another thought:

The following picture doesn't do justice to what I was seeing in person, but the sun was shining on this little lake like sparkling stars.  This lovely view is actually beside our local grocery store.  

Here's a better view of that old oak tree. I don't mind going to the grocery store when we can park near this lovely tree and little lake.  I just had to stop and enjoy the moment and take its picture. 

We need to do more of that these days...look for the beauty around us and take a moment to appreciate what God has provided. 

I know this post has been kind of scrambled and jumbled. I've had lots of interruptions as I've tried to write, and keep losing my train of thought, so I hope it all makes sense somehow.

I will close with this verse, which I have claimed as a life verse because my mother shared it with me many many years ago and it has helped me many times to think before I speak. Sometimes I need an extra reminder:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, 
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."  
Psalm 19:14

Have a blessed and happy 4th of July weekend!
God Bless America!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Brand New Day

I woke up thinking about the fact that it has been one year since we sold our "old" home and bought this "new home", and oh! what a journey this has been!! I have attached a couple of posts here from last year when we were going through all of that, in case you missed them or just want to go back and remember along with me:

This was the "view" of "Still Waters Pond" when we first saw it a year ago.

Click HERE for "Exciting News"  This particular post was written when we finally had buyers for our previous house and we also had found the home of our dreams and were able to go ahead and sign that contract to purchase it. 
This is how "Still Waters Pond" looks today. 

In that post I also talked about the last Sunday for our former pastor, who was retiring.  What is interesting, here we are again a year later, and the "new pastor" we received last year was truly only serving as an interim and was part time (actually serving two churches at the same time, and we greatly appreciate his ministry to us for this past year), and now this week we will be beginning another new chapter in the life of our church with another new pastor, who will be full time. We are very excited because he is a person that we already know and love and we believe this will be a very blessed season in the life of our church. But that is another story for another day.  Please pray for our church this week as we plan to reopen finally after being closed all these months due to Covid 19. 
A welcome message from our new Pastor.

Perhaps you will remember when I wrote  this Last Message From Here.  Kind of a bittersweet post as we began packing up all of our belongings in preparation for the very big move to our new community and home.

The front door and porch of our last house on the 4th of July last year.

And then I wrote this "First Post from HERE" after we got moved into our church parsonage for a temporary stay until we could close on our new house and get moved again...
Here's our selfie in front of the church parsonage after we had moved in all of our stuff to stay temporarily for about 6 weeks.

Not our front door...but you should read the post linked above to get the "coincidence".

And this is how our front door looks now:

Anyway, I've just been walking back through the past year and all of the ups and downs and good times and not so good times, and I wanted to pause and say, "Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings!"  As we all know this year, 2020, in particular, has been filled with many difficulties for our country. When we were in the process of moving last summer to our new home we never could have imagined all that would be taking place here less than a year later.  But we are very thankful that we are here. We are surrounded by God's beauty and have our family and friends nearby. Our little church has been closed for a few months, but we are getting ready to begin a new chapter there as well...a new beginning in many ways besides the fact that we are getting a new Pastor.  We will be meeting in our Fellowship Hall so we can be more "socially distanced". We will wear masks, and there won't be any congregational or choir singing for a while. There are still many challenges ahead for all of us.  But one thing is for certain, God has not changed.  He is still in control. He will continue to be with us and go with us through whatever challenges lie ahead.

Here are some words from the Psalms that give me comfort today:

Psalm 4:6-8
6.  "There are many who say,
"Who will show us any good?"
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
7.  You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
8.  I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Psalm 5:11-12
11.  " But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy,
because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.
12.  For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield."

The sun is rising on a brand new day in our lives. Let us rejoice and put our trust in the Lord!


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Contemplations and Exaltations

Psalm 89:1
"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
With my mouth will I make known your faithfulness to all generations."

It is Sunday...the Lord's Day. A day set aside from the beginning of time for rest, worship, and praise to God, our Savior, Lord, and Coming King!

Since the onset of the Covid 19 (I strongly dislike that name/word/and all that it implies), we have not been able to gather together for Sunday worship.  I know many churches have had "drive-in services", and online/streamlined services. Our church has had online services...and as much as we appreciate all the effort put forth by our Pastor and other church leaders to make that happen each week, it still does not take the place of gathering together for worship and fellowship with our fellow believers and friends in Christ. 

The following verses are an encouragement and exhortation to believers to not neglect the gathering together , so that we can encourage and teach one another from God's Word how we should be living during these difficult times:

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 

Since we have not been able to assemble together at our church all these weeks and now months, several of us have gathered together for a Sunday morning "brunch" at our local restaurant (once it opened again for service), just so we could be together and spend some time enjoying the presence of our beloved friends and encourage one another that way.  But then this week the restaurant had to close again because an employee was showing some symptoms that could be "the virus", and so they were being tested and the restaurant shut down until further notice. Of course that leaves us all wondering if we were also exposed, but until that person receives the test results no one knows. And so today we did not gather together as usual.  Our church is scheduled to reopen next Sunday, but with the current uptick in virus cases here in our state recently, we are not sure if that is going to happen or not. And so we retreat back into our homes and await the verdict.

However, I am not going to just sit here idly waiting. No, I am going to bake blueberry bran muffins for breakfast.  They looked and smelled so good as they came out of the oven I just had to take their picture! Then I ate a couple while they were still warm.

Then I told hubby I was not going to sit around all day and do nothing. Since it was a perfectly beautiful morning for a kayak ride around Still Waters Pond, that is what I did. Here I am, ready to go!

As I paddled around the pond of course I paused to enjoy the scenery along the way. There weren't any birds to startle away this morning...I think they got scared off by this "Loch Ness Monster" that showed up in their pond this past week! LOL.

The cattails remind me of roasting a hot dog over a campfire. Hmmm, something I love to do, but when it is a bit cooler so we can have a fire.

The pond is so covered with lily pads it looks like you could walk right across the tops of them. They are pretty hard to paddle through too, as the stems go down to the bottom of the pond and they are quite thick under the surface. I am getting a good workout paddling through these things!

I love this little sanctuary from the rest of the world. But if you look through those trees, you can see the sign for a handy store across the highway that is just on the other side of those trees.  But, except for the constant noise of traffic, you'd never know it was there...However, I have learned to tune out that noise and enjoy the peace and solitude of my special refuge from the turmoil outside my little sanctuary.

See what I mean about lily pads so thick you could walk across them?
Don't think I'd try it, however.

The morning sun was a bit bright so the pictures are not quite as pretty as before, but you still get the idea.

There's one of those bees I've told you about!  That lily pad looks like "pac-man" coming to eat him  up!

I finally made it all the way around the pond and back home. I always try to bring back at least one lily as a souvenir of my trip. If you notice the long stem in my hand, that tells you how deep the water was where I picked this flower. I measured the stem and it was 4'3" long! So that is how deep the pond is in the place where I picked the lily. There may be deeper spots, but I haven't discovered them yet.

I know I look kind of goofy here. I had taken my hat off so I could pull my camera over my head and hand it to my hubby so he could take this picture. I didn't realize the hat strap was covering my face! LOL.  You should have seen me getting out of the kayak, if you really want to see something goofy! LOL.

As I was writing this just now I looked out my window and saw this Great Blue Heron land out there in the pond. I am glad to see him come back as I thought I had scared him away for good!

He must be eating pretty good because it sure looks like he's getting bigger!

To finish with a few more verses from our morning Psalm 89

Psalm 89:13-16

13.  "You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, 
and high is Your right hand.
14.  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face.
15.  Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
16.  In Your name they rejoice all day long,
and in Your righteousness they are exalted."

I hope you have found a place to have peace and rest and a refuge from the noise and strife of the world around us. God truly knew what we would need when He created a day of rest for His children. 
Until next time, have a blessed day, my friends!!

Friday, June 26, 2020

A Peaceful Interlude

I decided to take another kayak ride around Still Waters Pond today. (Friday). It was a beautiful, peaceful morning, and the pond was filled with fresh new water from last night's rain storm, so I was anxious to get out and enjoy the beauty.

As I rounded the bend in the pond, I heard a lot of screeching from the trees and also saw the flapping of giant grey-blue wings pass by...if you look very closely you can see the wings of the Great Blue Heron as he flew away from my presence. I guess I was interrupting his morning fishing for breakfast.

He flew up and all around the pond and eventually flew off into the distance. I shouted my apologies to him, but I don't think he heard me. He was a frustrated fisherman today...

He probably couldn't hear me over the cries of this Red Shouldered Hawk who was sitting up in this tree overlooking the pond.  He was not very pleased with my presence in his territory either.

He kept calling out as I passed underneath his perch. I prayed that I wouldn't become his "prey". Again, another frustrated bird because his breakfast was probably interrupted. They sure were grumpy birds this morning!

Of course, I was just out there for the joy of enjoying the beauty of the water lilies on the pond and feeling the fresh air in my face as I paddled around on the peaceful water.

"First keep the peace within yourself,
then you can also bring peace to others."
Thomas A Kempis

Don't you just love the way these lilies reflect on the surface of the pond?
"Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is a nobler art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials."
Lin Yutang

I think I could look at these beauties all day.
"Nature is the art of God." 
Thomas Browne
I did have to keep watching out for the bees that were buzzing in each of these flowers. 
You can't see them in these pictures, but trust me, I was well aware of them and making sure I didn't make them mad too!! Actually, they did just like the heron and the hawk and flew away as I came near.
I almost hated to paddle back into shore, but knew I couldn't stay out there all day.

Later this evening I looked back outside at the pond, and noticed this haze in the air. That, my friends is the Saharan Desert Dust that is blowing across our land right now.  It has been very hazy all afternoon and the air quality is not very good. It is also quite warm and humid, so better to stay indoors and write to you from my nice cool room....

I am reminded of the words of this Psalm:

Psalm 121:5-8
5.  "The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6.  The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7.  The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
8.  The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
from this time forth, and even forevermore."

I am very thankful for the Lord being my "keeper", and for the knowledge that He is by my side, shading and preserving me from all evil forevermore.  
What a joy and blessing to be so lovingly cared for by our Lord.

I hope you will be at peace in your heart and soul during these difficult days.
May God be with you, always!