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!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Such a dichotomy...

Dichotomy: "a division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups. "

Tonight as I was sitting on my back patio enjoying the cool "spring" breeze, I was listening to the cheerful sounds of birds chirping back and forth to one another as they "chip, chip, chip" away towards the bird feeders for their evening meal.  There was a rustle of falling leaves wending their way down through the trees to land softly on the ground (and my patio), and the swooshing sound of the doves as they came in for a landing. I also heard the sudden "Who who cooks for you?" hooting of our resident Barred Owl, alerting his mate to be aware that a human being was in the neighborhood, prying on their evening activities. (That would be me).  All in all, it was a very serene, pleasant, happy experience...a perfect way to unwind from a busy day.

In the background of all this bliss and peace, I had left the patio door open, with the intention of allowing the fresh air to circulate through my stuffy, much too warm house.  My husband was inside the house watching the evening news.  He purposely turned up the volume, thinking that I should hear what was being reported.  That is when this word, "dichotomy", came into my mind.  The news that was blaring forth from the television was all about war, anarchy, turmoil, and chaos all around the world...primarily in Libya tonight, but that is only the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in all corners of the globe. I wanted to jump up and slam that glass door shut, with the intention of stopping the unwanted noise of world strife from bombarding my peaceful surroundings.  I could feel the anxiety welling up within my body and the stress began to steal away my calm and created such tension in my neck and shoulders that I had to get up and start walking around to work it out of my system.

"Dichotomy"..."a division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups. " That is what I experienced tonight.  In my own strength, I am unable to deal with these contradictions of spirit and peace.  I cannot rectify the wrongs of this world.  All I can do is pray for peace...and pray for the Lord's soon return...

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.  Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.'  And He said to me, 'It is done! I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.'"  Revelation 21:4-7

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I Am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."  Revelation 22:20-21

Ah, my sense of peace and calm has been restored...God is in control in all things.  Even in the midst of the dichotomy between heaven and earth...God's Word brings peace and healing...and HOPE.  Amen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"My Three Sons"

My Three Sons
Matthew, Benton, and Scott - Cathedral Ledge, N. Conway, NH
October 1992

 This is a picture of "My Three Sons"...no, not the old TV sitcom with Fred MacMurray and William Frawley and three boys I can't remember...but MY Three Sons: Matthew, Benton, and Scott.  This is my favorite picture of my three sons...why?  Well, I believe it is the very last picture I have of all three of them together before they left the home-nest for good and went their separate ways in search of whatever life God had in store for each of them.  At this particular time Benton and Matt had already left home to go off to college, and Scott was still in high school. 

Matt, Noah, and Nicole May, 2010
 We had just moved to New Hampshire to pastor a church, and this was Benton and Matt's first trip "home" to visit us at the new home they had not yet seen.  A certain young lady from our church volunteered (rather cheerfully, I might add) to take the boys on a tour of the countryside and help them get acquainted with their new surroundings.  That same certain young lady became our daughter in law about ten months later, when Matthew and Nicole tied the knot...and "My Three Sons" became My Three Sons and a Daughter in Law! And thus began the enlarging of our family tree and the metamorphosis of our family as we knew it.  This was a happy event and pleasant change, which later resulted in the introduction of our first (and so far, only) grandson, Noah. You can read more about Matthew's saga over the past year through previous episodes of this blog.  We are very thankful that he is still doing well in his battle against the aggressive cancer (Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor) that invaded his body just about one year ago exactly. We are trusting God for a positive outcome and a long and prosperous life for Matt and his precious family.

Benton with Grandpa
And what happened to the other two sons?  Well, they are still writing their own life stories.  They are each unique and wonderful in their own right...you can see more about Benton on my blog-page "Ben's Country Woodshop".  He is currently living here at home again after many years away from home. That is a story in itself that I am saving for another day when God releases it from within my heart.  He is a joy and a blessing to us in so many ways.  Scott is still living in NH, right back there in the shadow of "Cathedral Ledge", cooking in one of the local restaurants and enjoying the snow.  He is healthy and seems happy, and for that we are grateful.

We are not sure what the future holds for any of our boys, but again, we are trusting God to complete the plans that He has promised for each of them.  For each of "My Three Sons" I prayed, both before they were ever born, and of course, every day thereafter.  At an early age we, as their parents, committed and dedicated them to the Lord, and one by one, in their own time, each one accepted that faith in Christ for himself.  So I have faith that God will continue to care for them, long after I leave this earth.  He has given me that assurance, and I have no reason to doubt it. 

God says to us in Jeremiah 29:11,
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."  
I have applied this verse to myself many times, and believe I can also claim it for my three sons as well.  During these days of tremendous unrest in our world, we are all feeling a bit anxious over the future of our nation and our world...but I still can rest...and trust...

"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."  Psalms 103:2-5  
Yes, my heart cries out with the Psalmist, 
Our family today...this picture was added later, when we finally all got together again for my father's funeral, April, 2011.  Bittersweet Time.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name." (Psalm 103:1)    Amen.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Live Joyfully..."

I hope we never get too old for this.
 Ecclesiastes 9:9 "Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun."

This past week my husband celebrated his 63rd birthday.  To some of you, that may sound old. And to many of you, that may sound young!  Whichever way you view it, it's a very good thing to be having a birthday at all.  Over the past several years we have lost way too many of our good friends prematurely to cancer and other unexpected illnesses.  Not only has that created a real sense of sorrow and sadness within us, but it has also helped us to realize the preciousness of the gift of good health and life together.  Notice I said "gift"...it is not a guarantee.

Old King Solomon wrote a lot of very wise messages throughout the Bible.  Many of the examples of his great wisdom can be found in the book of Proverbs, The Song of Solomon, and the book of Ecclesiastes.  He often talks about the relationship between a husband and a wife...something about which I am certain he had a lot of experience.  It is written in I Kings 11:3 that "he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines..."   I'm not sure just how Solomon managed so many women...(or how they managed him!), but obviously life was quite different for his family than it is for ours today.  Thankfully so.  I don't think that Solomon lived all that joyfully with his "wife"...there was a lot of strife in his family, and God had to judge and discipline him rather sternly.

I did not intend to get into a theological discussion here regarding Solomon's behavior and family life.  I mainly wanted to take a moment to reflect on life in general...and to take a moment to thank the Lord for my husband, for the blessing of good health, and for the fact that, despite times of disappointment, sorrow, uncertainty and other difficult trials through which we have come in the past 41+ years together, the fact remains that we have come through them together.  I won't pretend that we have always faced our troubles joyfully, or even that we have always agreed on the path to follow, but the important thing is, when all is said and done, we did it together, and hopefully we will continue to do so for many more years...Lord willing...and with God's divine help.  God has not promised us a smooth path or a bed of roses, but He has promised to be with us...and never leave us or forsake us. 

Deuteronomy 31:8, "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."

Yes, I am thankful for my husband...and I am most thankful that together we have learned to trust in that wonderful Lord, Who has never forsaken or left us.  When all is said and done, that is what matters more than anything. Amen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

By Jove, I Think I've Done it!!

I was really fretting over whether or not I would be able to keep my blog if I changed my email address. Thankfully, one of my facebook friends suggested I go ahead and set up a new email account (a freebie, like gmail) before I shut down my old email account so I can transfer things over. So here is the result of that! Thank you, dear friend (Laura...you know who you are) for making the right suggestions! You win the grand prize of the day! Why don't you come over and have a cup of tea with me? That would be fun!!
I hope to get back on schedule with my writing now that I've figured this out. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
In case any of the rest of you need to know how to do this, go to Blogger Help and ask it "How do I move a blog between accounts?" It will lay it out step by step. Of course, all of the rest of you probably already knew all this and are just say how stupid that Pam must be. But, hey, you don't know until you try...or ask...and there is no such thing as a dumb question! Right? Of course I'm right!
Ok, so much for this...y'all come and have a cup of tea with me, OK?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Cast Your Bread Upon The Waters"

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days."  Ecclesiastes 11:1

It was just about one year ago that I was feverishly attempting to write a book.  I honestly thought I had something important to share with the whole world, and I was certain that everyone would be clamoring to receive a copy of my life's story.  I also had been given a wonderful opportunity via a scholarship to attend my very first writer's conference.  All the more reason to believe that I was well on my way to becoming an author of reknown. 

Boy! Was I ever mistaken!!!  Oh, I went to that wonderful conference, and I was full of confidence and hope as I submitted my query to the panel of publishers, certain that mine would be chosen for some kind of grand prize for being the most interesting, unique and dynamic spell-binding story they had ever had the privilege of reading.  What I discovered was, much to my chagrin, on the first day of the conference...well, let's just say that I suddenly realized that I was not God's gift to the waiting publishing world...and worse yet, I was just one of many, many hopeful wannabe authors who most likely had a lot more talent than I...and I definitely had a LOT to learn about writing a book! It was one of the most deflating experiences of my life.

However, I persevered through that whole conference, attended every class I could manage, spoke with every publisher and other budding author I could entrap into a conversation, took myriads of notes and collected every handout and freebie I could fit into my bag for future reference.  I was determined not to become discouraged, but I had to totally reevaluate my whole scheme of writing.  The book idea was put back on the shelf.  It just wasn't the right time for that yet. 

What was I to do with all of that new knowledge and eye-opening experience?  I couldn't just give up on writing, could I?  No, I truly believed that God had instilled that desire to write within my heart, and I knew that HE had a message that He wanted to speak through me in one way or another.  I also reevaluated my motives and goals for writing...was it for personal gain or fame?  Or was it to glorify God and perhaps actually inspire and help others in the process?

As a result of what appeared to me to be a "closed door", i.e.; no book writing for me; I discovered something new on the horizon...an "open window" of opportunity... and I began to write this blog!  Now that was a definite leap of faith!  It was a way of "casting my bread upon the waters"...and praying that God would bring it back to me "after many days"...His way...in His time. 
"In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good." Ecclesiastes 1:6
Little did I know when I started this blog all the things that were about to take place in my life that would influence my writing...and you can go back over this past year and read all about each new event...some good, and some not so good.  Through it all, God has been working behind the scenes, directing me as I wrote, guiding me to passages in the Bible that were encouraging to me...and hopefully to others as well.  He has taught me much about His plan for me and for my writing "career".  No, I still haven't written that book...and I probably never will write that particular book...but I pray that whatever I write will be for His honor and glory...and for your edification. I doubt I will ever be found on the Best Seller list, but that is not my goal or purpose.  This story is my bread...and this blog is the water that carries it...and for now, that's okay with me.  And I believe it is exactly what God had planned all along. 
"As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything." Ecclesiastes 11:5

"For I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."  IITimothy 1:12

Therefore, I will keep writing and trusting God to do whatever He so desires with my offering.  May Jesus Christ be praised in all things.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"A Good Bread Recipe"

Be sure to double click on the pictures to enlarge, then back-space to come back to the blog page.

This special recipe for bread can be found in the"Washburn-Crosby's Gold Medal Cookbook", Copyright 1917, Washburn-Crosby Co., Minneapolis, Minn., U.S.A. 

I am not certain where I found this very old paper back cookbook, but I kept it because I liked it first of all, and because it is copyrighted the same year as my mother's birth!  So I love to read the recipes in it and think that perhaps those were the recipes my grandmother was using when my mother was born!  I hope you will click on the pictures above and enlarge this so you can read the poem that goes with the recipe.  I hope to post more recipes from this cook book as time goes by.  For tonight, enjoy this very "Good Bread Recipe".

What Do YOU Do with Christmas Cards after Christmas is Over?

This blog will be short and sweet...I just have one question: (Ok, I may have a few more than just ONE question...)

What do YOU do with your Christmas cards that you received for Christmas after Christmas is over and packed away?  Do you:
  • Throw them away?
  • Put them away for safe-keeping?
  • Use them in a craft project?
  • Save them until next year so you are sure to send cards to those people?
  • Be sure to write down their address in your address book for next year?
And, IF you save them....for how long do you save them? 
  • Do you ever look at them again?
  • Do you have a special box, file, drawer where you keep them for year after year?
  • Do you catalog them by name, date, year?
And, IF you save them,
  • Do you ever ask yourself WHY you saved them?
  • Do you actually ever DO what you thought you'd do with them?
  • Do you finally decide to throw them away some day?
I know you are probably saying, "What's the big deal about Christmas cards, or birthday cards, or get well cards, or anniversary cards, or congratulation cards...JUST THROW THEM AWAY!"

Well, I have an issue with this...I inherited this tendency to keep things for "posterity", or for a "future plan to do something with them", or, to just plain look at them again someday and say,
  • "Oh, I wonder how that person is now", or,
  • "I wonder WHERE that person is now," or,
  • "I wonder if that person is still living...",   or,
  • "Oh, that person is no longer living, so I need to keep this card...", or,
  • I really LOVED this card and I just hate to throw it away," or,
  • "I really LOVED this person, and I can't bear to throw this card away..."
Ok, friends, help me out here... I have this little stack of cards that I have re-read to make sure I didn't miss something important in their notes, etc.
(Thank you, those of you who took the time to actually write us a note and tell us about your lives...I actually DO enjoy reading those and look forward to hearing from you year after year)
 I've pulled out the pictures of family and friends and put them in a safe place...thank you for sending those pictures of your kids and grandkids and yourselves...it's fun to see how we ALL are changing through the years...

And, I've noticed that we didn't really get nearly as many cards this past Christmas as in years before...but that's probably because so many of us are now communicating on Facebook regularly and didn't feel the need to send cards too...and because we are conserving money on postage and on the price of cards that seem to go higher and higher each year...

And, I've noticed that I know I sent out many more cards than I received this year, so I may also be trimming my Christmas Card list for next year...and pretty soon none of us will have this dilemma of what to do with our cards when the season is well over and we are trying to clean up and make room for, yes, you guessed it: VALENTINE CARDS!!!   Not to mention, my husband's birthday is coming up right after that, and so on and so on...

Thank you for your helpful suggestions...feel free to respond either here or on facebook....I'd really LOVE to hear from you...you may even send me a card! I do still LOVE to get mail...don't you? And I KNOW the Hallmark people really appreciate it as well.

Have a nice day...and why not send someone a card today and let them know you are thinking about them?  Maybe they will save it in a scrapbook or drawer for posterity and to look at over and over again when they are feeling blue and missing you.

Bye for now...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sweet Fragrance, or Putrid Stench?

"To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me."  Psalm 25:1-2

I was just reading some heart-rending revelations from one of my dearest facebook friends, and it has left me feeling a bit perplexed.  This precious friend has endured some of the most severe trials a human being can ever experience on this earth, and yet she lives to give praise and glory to God and to encourage others in their walk of faith.  How does she do it? What has made the difference in her life so that she can be such a sweet fragrance to God and to her fellow man?

Who among us has not had sorrows and tribulations and pain in this life?  The truth is, whether or not we have yet gone through disturbing trials, sickness, disappointments or pain, sooner or later we will.  No one escapes this life without some measure of difficulty. 

I don't mean to be a pessimist or prophet of doom, but just a realist.  No one escapes this life without first dying.  Whether or not that death is peaceful or painful, we really can't predict or plan.  It is all in God's hands.

So, how do we deal with this fact?  How do we handle the trials and heartaches that come our way?  We have two choices as far as I can see...
  1. We can choose to go through our tribulations kicking and screaming, cussing and fighting.
  2. Or, we can choose to go through our tribulations blessing and forgiving, trusting and praying.
Perhaps we have to experience the kicking and screaming method of coping before we are able to reach the ability to bless and forgive, trust God and pray for our enemies.  For some, the very thought of forgiving and praying for our enemies is anathema...God forbid! How could we?

I can hear some of you saying,  "Are you crazy?  You obviously haven't been through what I've been through or you could never suggest such a thing..."

No, I probably haven't suffered as much as many...I have led a very blessed life...and yet...there have been things that could have very easily destroyed my life, my faith, and my hope.  There have been things that most of you don't know about (and I hope you never do) that I have had to walk through...and I had (and still have in some cases) lots of questions, doubts, and fears...I've asked God, WHY? many times.

"For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." 2Corinthians 2:15

As I see it...we have a choice...we can be a sweet savour, or the fragrance of Christ to God and to His kingdom here on earth...or we can become a putrid stench in God's nostrils (and the world's). Which attitude leads to abundant life...both for myself and for those around me?

This is what I come back to after all the disappointments and heartaches and sorrows are sorted and categorized and pored over...
"To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.  Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause." (Psalm 25:1-3) (This is what God's Word says...so it is ok to feel this way I guess)

This is what I pray...Psalm 25:4-5  ~

  • Show me Your ways, O Lord
  • Teach me Your paths.
  • Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For YOU are the God of my salvation;
  • On You I wait all the day.
Lord, Help me be that sweet fragrance of Christ, both to YOU and to my fellow sojourner on this earth. Help me to not become a putrid stench in your nostrils...keep me sweet, even in the face of my enemies.  I will trust in You...and I believe You will not fail me.  Thank you. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.