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, December 30, 2012

One Word for 2013

There is yet another challenge for the new year...to select one word to be a signpost or goal for my life in 2013.  Last year the word I chose (or did God choose?) was "Hope". (Click this link for "Hope" from 2012)  No sooner had I chosen (again, Who chose?) that word "Hope", beautiful things began to happen in our lives.  (See "Promises Fulfilled" for more on this story).   I am not trying to say that just because I happened to select a certain word for the year that God magically started doing things to answer my pleas and prayers...but then again, I am saying that He did do marvelous things in our lives and did answer many prayers and fulfilled many of our hopes and dreams in ways we never anticipated. Was it because I publically announced to the world that I was going to "hope in the Lord"...and He responded?  No, not exactly.  Perhaps it was more the fact that as I focused on my hope in the Lord in so many areas of life that I began to see that He was there all the time...working on my behalf behind the scenes...guiding and directing my life in ways that I had perhaps overlooked previously...and now my eyes were being opened to His presence more clearly.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about this new challenge of  "One Word" for 2013, (See "Easing Into Christmas"), and I thought perhaps the word I should choose would be "Emmanuel", meaning "God With Us".  I still love the word, or name, "Emmanuel", specifically because of its meaning, and the fact that it is the name for Jesus.  However, I don't think I am supposed to select a "name" for my "one word".  So, as I am sitting here contemplating this weighty subject, I believe the word has just been given to me...and it is...(oh, wait! Am I supposed to wait and tell you this on January 1st?....perhaps I should stop now and finish this later...)

Ok, maybe I'd better tell you now before I forget it myself!  The word that the Lord has just this minute impressed upon my heart for 2013 is .... 

   Why this word?  Well, perhaps it started with  the chorus of the song we sang in our Christmas cantata:

"Lord, I want Your presence for Christmas,
I want Your presence for Christmas,
I long to feel Your Spirit speaking peace to my heart.
Of all the gifts I may receive,
there's only one I really need,
and it's Your presence,
Your presence for Christmas."
and I couldn't get this message out of my mind...it's not just for Christmas that I want to feel the "Lord's presence speaking peace to my heart"...it's for ALWAYS, starting now in 2013.  I want to not only feel  His presence, but to know  He is present in every aspect of my life. Not only in the good times and happy times, but in the difficult places and sad times as well. Every year has both kinds of times...good and difficult, happy and sad...so I'm not speaking something into my life that sets me up for difficulty...that's just life. But when I walk through my life this year...I want to acknowledge the fact that God is with me...with us...with you, no matter what.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;..."
Isaiah 43:2-3
 So, in 2013 I am going to explore God's presence in every aspect of my life.  I will be watching for Him in places that I might ordinarily overlook.  Perhaps you will want to do this as well...in your life. Watch for God to appear...wait for Him to "show up" before you act...Let Him be in control...let Him be your guiding Light...

"You will show me the path of life;
In Your PRESENCE is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:11
Here's a good way to start the year right:
"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He Who has made us,
and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
and into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
and His truth endures to all generations.
Psalm 100: 1-5
Perhaps we can compare notes throughout the year and list the places and ways we experience God's PRESENCE in our lives. Are you up to the challenge? Let's go!
I may be a couple days early, but I want to wish you a very
Happy New Year, filled with the PRESENCE of the Lord.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How Do YOU Measure Christmas?

So, how was your Christmas?  How do you measure Christmas? By the number of or cost of the presents you received? Or is it by the amount of money you spent on gifts for others...and the amount of debt you now have to work off in the New Year?

I hope your measurement of Christmas will be a different kind of tabulation...a measurement of the amount of JOY you received in the presence of others,...and in the Holy Presence of the Child in the Manger Himself...Jesus...our Messiah...Emmanuel, "God WITH Us"...His Presence with us...that is where the true JOY comes from. 

This year we did a couple of things differently than we have in the recent past.

Our church "ensemble" singing "Christmas is Jesus"
  • My husband and I both sang in our church Christmas Cantata, "Christmas is Jesus".  It was a precious time of singing songs of great joy and hope as we ushered in the Christmas Spirit in song and Word.  It had been quite a few years since either of us had sung in church...even though that was something quite common for us to do for many years in the past.  This took courage and steps of faith for us to venture back into this "arena"...and God was with us all the way. My husband even sang a solo...to the glory of God. This was an answer to prayer for me.

Me and my hubby John...happy to have family
at our table for Christmas.
  • We were able to have extended family here in our home for Christmas (a couple days early)...another first after many years.   In years past our families (on my side) always spent Christmas at my parents' home.  Since both my parents have now gone on to be with the Lord and that home is no longer in the family...we needed a gathering place.  This past year God blessed us with a new (to us) home that was large enough to become that gathering place. Although not every member of the family was able to be present...there were about 15 of us around our table, and that, for me especially, was such a joy. 

Mother (Nanny) Steiner, Bill and Peggy Steiner

  • We also spent Christmas Day with my husband's brother's family in their new home for the first time in many years, due to the fact that they had moved back to our home state after many years being away. Now we are able to enjoy their two young children...and also we are all able to continue to enjoy Mother Steiner, who is now 89+.       

Our nephew and niece, Nicholaus and Shannon

The week before Christmas there was a horrible tragedy in Connecticut, where many children and their teachers had their lives violently taken away.  In the wake of that tragedy, I could not rest in peace and prepare meaningless gifts for my loved ones.  This unbelievably grievous act triggered such a feeling of sorrow and pain in my heart that caused me to want to give something to our family that hopefully would give them a sense of hope and comfort.  My son, who is a woodworker, and I put our heads together and came up with a simple little sign that we could create in time to give to each family with whom we would be sharing our Christmas gift exchange.  The words "Faith, Hope, Love"  came to mind...from the 13th chapter of I Corinthians. 
"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (I Cor. 13:13)
Here is a sample of the sign we created for each family, although each one was unique due to the wood grains and finishing touches, but the message was the same for all:

 This is the message we wanted to give each family...when the world around us goes crazy, and we don't understand the reasons why things happen...we need to go back to God's Word...and claim HOPE by FAITH...and trust in God's LOVE to always be there for us, no matter what.

That is how I measure Christmas...by the FAITH in our Lord for His saving grace and comfort in difficult times...by the HOPE that He gave us when Christ came to earth as that little baby... to save us from our sins...and by the LOVE that HE has for each and every one of us, so much that He was willing to die for us on the cross so that we could spend eternity with Him in Heaven forever!! 

My prayer for you this Christmas and in the New Year is that you will experience this same FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE in your heart and life right now and forever! Amen!!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Comfort Ye, My People..."

"Comfort, yes, comfort My people!", says your God..."  Isaiah 40:1

I woke up this morning with a very heavy heart, and I found myself crying out for comfort...and I am not acquainted with any of the parents who lost a precious child this past week...but I feel their pain and my heart is breaking for them. I can't even begin to imagine how those families are feeling right now...all I can do is pray that God will indeed bring comfort to their hearts, as only He can.

In this Christmas season we are celebrating the first advent of our Lord and Savior, when He left the splendor or heaven to come to earth as a little baby...(See Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:6-7)  I found myself singing this little song this morning when I woke up feeling so sad.  It is a song that we are singing in our Christmas Cantata next Sunday morning: 

"There's a baby in a manger, you just won't believe. 
The angels have been singing, the shepherds came to see.
The star is brightly shining, it has everyone amazed.
It's shining down on a little Boy, He's lying in the hay..."
Thinking about this little Baby in the Manger brought me a sense of comfort this morning.

  Listen to what the prophet Isaiah writes  in chapter 61:1-3, concerning the purpose of Christ's Advent:

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all 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."

Today I pray that Christ will indeed "heal the brokenhearted", "comfort all who mourn" (in Newtown,CT...and any place where there is grief over the loss of a loved one,)...and I pray that God will, in His time, and in His own tender way, "give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."   This will take time...healing doesn't happen overnight...for some it may take a lifetime, for some it may never come.  But I pray God will begin the process now...that He will cradle these dear families in His arms, that He will cover them with His love and mercy, and carry them in these painful days ahead as we approach Christmas and the times that should have been days of joy for these families. 

I wish these sorrowing parents could see and know that their children are now safe in the arms of Jesus.  The once "Baby in the Manger" is now their loving companion...and He will tenderly care for them forever. For those of us who know Christ, this is a comfort...even when we are hurting so deeply.  For those who do not know Christ, I pray they will seek His face...and allow Him to comfort their broken hearts.
That's why He came as that little Baby in the Manger...to bring comfort...to heal the broken hearted...

The Baby in the Manger...The Saviour of our Souls...and The Comforter for those who mourn.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Flashback to "Those Seventy's" Days...Random Journal Day

(Linking up with my friends at Random Journal DayClick here to join the link up)

Note from the Present:   This past week I have been reminded about our early ministry days and our experience of being in a Christmas Parade with our youth group.  What got me thinking about this was the unusual phenomenon currently taking place in the city of Ocala, where I am presently employed.  The Ocala Annual Christmas Parade will happen tomorrow afternoon.  For the past week (or more) I have been noticing places all along the sides of the streets roped off and lawn chairs tied with ropes, staking out people's vantage points for watching the parade. This is an annual event...people, businesses, groups, anybody interested enough to participate, stake their claims for land all along the parade route way in advance.  Strangely enough, no one dares to move the chairs and ropes from those places.  It's the honor system.  I find it rather intimidating...how does a newcomer find a place to watch the parade pass by?  You have to wait for someone to die and leave their favorite spot to you in their will, I guess.  I've never seen this happen anywhere else...have you? Just wondering...Needless to say, I won't be watching the parade. I'm not high enough up in the city eschelon to rate a vantage point. Not yet...(ha)

So, here is a story from our past from when I wasn't just a spectator in a Christmas parade, but an actual participant, riding through the streets of Orlando, Florida, with thousands of people watching our float floating by!  Read on from my "journal writings" from the mid-1970's. To further set the scene, we had just arrived fresh from Bible College Grad School, where we had actually seriously considered going into foreign missions full time.  But God had other plans for our lives back at home.

December, 1975:

Isaiah 6:8  “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’  Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”
So John (my hubby) accepted the call to be the Youth Pastor at a church in Florida, and we happily moved back to our home territory!  It was an exciting time in our lives! After the days of testing and preparation, we were actually going to be entering the ministry!  Our charge was to take a small group of teens, approximately six to ten on the average attendance, and make them grow!  Grow, not only in number, but also most preferably to grow in spirit and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Not an easy task in the mid-seventies, at the close of the Viet Nam War. There was a lot of unrest, dissatisfaction, and turbulence in our country at that time.  But something interesting was stirring in our nation as well.  As we approached the Bi-Centennial in 1976, there was a new wave of patriotism and a spirit of revival in the hearts of many. 

One of our first assignments was to enter a float in the Orlando Christmas Parade, and the theme for the parade that year interestingly enough was “God Bless America!” A Bible verse that came to our minds was II Chronicles 7:14, which states: 

“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.”
What better message than this to convey the idea of “God Bless America!”  Since this was a Christmas parade, we sought a way to combine the Christmas message with this message of hope and healing for our land.  So our youth came up with the idea of our float being a live nativity scene, with the banners on the side of the float reading “God Has Blessed America! He Sent His Son!”  Then on the front of the truck was a large wooden open Bible, with the II Chronicles 7:14 verse inscribed upon it. 

As we drove down through the streets of Orlando, we had the “Hallelujah Chorus” and other excerpts of “Handel’s Messiah” and “The King Is Coming”(By Bill Gaither, 1970) playing on a loud speaker. The young people were in their costumes of the Nativity of our Lord, with that powerful message for all to see.  I was riding in the cab of the truck with my husband, and I was watching the faces of the people along the road as they saw our float glide by.  Many people were cheering and clapping and praising God for the positive message it inspired.  I had this vision of being in a parade on the streets of heaven someday, with all the saints of the ages welcoming us into glory. It was such a beautiful dream, and perhaps a glimpse of what that day will truly be like.  I couldn’t help but allow the tears to roll down my cheeks as I thought about our country and the millions of people who still needed to know Jesus, and I knew then that we had made the right choice by serving the Lord in our homeland.  But we sure had our work cut out for us!

Back to the Present:  Sounds like a message that we still need today!  Nothing much has really changed in the past almost 40 years!  

So, do you have any special parade memories that you can share? Or perhaps a time when you participated in a live nativity scene or other special Christmas program? Now would be a good time to take advantage of the many Christmas musicals, plays, and yes, even parades that are available to help ring in the true Spirit of Christmas! 

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

God's Timely Reminder - Updated for 2012


"Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited."  Isaiah 54:2-3

I don't know about you, but I find Christmas shopping to be extremely frustrating and downright depressing!  I wish I could learn to do as others and do my shopping all year long so I don't end up in this panic the last week before Christmas!  Lately, I have found myself to the point of tears as I have driven from store to store in search of the "perfect" gifts for everyone on my list, and wishing it was all over already so I could forget about this experience for another year.    This is not what Christmas is all about...I am sure that Jesus is sad and probably angry as He watches us go through this ritual every year...it's not about the gifts, it's about THE GIFT...JESUS CHRIST, THE MESSIAH, THE BABE IN THE MANGER, THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD, THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, THE LION OF JUDAH, THE DAYSTAR FROM ON HIGH, EMMANUEL, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE...to name just a few of His Holy Names.  That is what Christmas is all about...Shout it from the housetops!

I feel better now that I've said that.  But what I really wanted to tell you about is the gift that God gave to me today as I was rushing through the aisles, scrambling for ideas, and beating myself for allowing this to happen again.  There, almost hidden amongst a stack of knicknacks, bric-a-brac, odds and ends, and stuff, my eyes lighted upon a little picture frame, no larger than 3" x 3",  with a very familiar verse written upon it....
"Remember, When God closes a door, He opens a window."
Wow!!! I clutched it to my chest, and held it close...and said, "Thank you, Lord, for this little gift just for me today!"  Not only was it the exact saying behind the title of my Blog, "Closed Doors, Open Windows", but it was precisely the message that I needed to remember today.  You may wonder why, and I don't really have to tell you why, but just suffice it to say that I needed that reminder.  And yes, I added it to my purchases for the day...a Christmas gift to me from God....

God had already been preparing me for a message from Him earlier as I was aimlessly driving around, trying to figure out where to go next in my shopping dilemma, and I found myself literally crying not just about the shopping, but about life in general...and He gave me words of comfort and hope...that my days of sorrow and sadness would soon be ended, and that days of great joy and gladness were just around the corner...the verse quoted above from Isaiah 54 was written for the Israelites, when they were pictured as the "restored wife of the Lord".   They were going to be brought back to their own land from their places of captivity and years of barrenness as a nation.  Don't try to read too much into this as it relates to my own situation, but just know that it comforts me personally...and it all ties in with the little saying that I rediscovered in my journey..."Remember, When God closes a door, He opens a window..."...."Enlarge the place of your tent..."  Get ready for action and growth....God is getting ready to do something.  (Close a door? Open a window?)  (NOTE FROM 2012: In just a very short time from the original writing of this post, God did do something very marvelous in our lives...as many of you are aware, we were able to make a major move to our present home in the forest...and we have definitely "enlarged the place our tent"...God has truly blessed in ways far beyond my imagination when I wrote this last year! Our God is an awesome God!...but, you already knew that, didn't you?)

How about you?  Do you need that message of hope and encouragement today?  Is all the scurrying about and worrying and fretting about what to do about this, and what to do about that, and getting ready for Christmas ( in the material sense) getting you down?  Maybe you need to be reminded that God is working behind the scenes in your life as well, working on a plan to give you new hope for the New Year... Why not take a few minutes out of your hectic schedule and sit down and let Him talk to you today? You may be surprised at the message He has for you.

May your Christmas be truly blessed with joy and gifts from "out of this world", and may your New Year be the beginning of many new open windows of opportunity.

Merry Christmas!!!
I thought it appropriate to place this little "gift" from God today right beside
the "real gift" from God...Jesus, the Babe in the Manger...My Savior...and Your Savior Too...that is, if you have
already accepted your free gift from God...I hope you have...That's what Christmas is really all about.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Easing Into Christmas

"Easing into Christmas" with a cup of Christmas Tea (thank you to my sister Doris) in my Christmas mug, and a piece
of Thanksgiving Apple Pie on a Thanksgiving paper plate...

Every year at this time I seem to have a difficult time making the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  Last year I wrote the post "From One Season to Another" (Click this link for last year's thoughts on this subject).  Today I find myself having the same kind of thoughts. It is hard for me to let go of the season of "thankfulness" and embrace the season of "go get more".  Obviously I know that isn't what Christmas is all about, but when you see the hordes of people lined up waiting for hours on Thanksgiving evening to start the Christmas rush of shopping, it would appear that that is what the world thinks Christmas is supposed to be.  That just doesn't sit well within my spirit.  I abhor all the commercialism of Christmas...and the politically correct well wishers wishing me a "Happy Holiday"...they most often receive a  kind, but hearty  "Merry Christmas" response back.  Yeah, I know there are many people out there celebrating other religious holidays, and so not to offend them we are supposed to wish them a Happy Holiday.  Well, if I knew which holiday they were celebrating, I would wish them whatever particular wish that goes with it...but I am celebrating Christmas, and that is what THIS particular season is supposed to be about. "CHRISTmas", the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.  (and certainly I do not mean that I would be rude to someone wishing me a Happy Holiday, but I am not afraid to say Merry Christmas, and I hope you are not afraid of that either!)  (Also, not to offend my Jewish friends...yes, I do sincerely wish them a Happy Hanukkah...but I long for them to meet their Messiah and celebrate Christmas one day as well. After all, they ARE His chosen people and His kin-folk in the flesh...they ARE the very reason He came to earth in the first place...)

I am so thrilled that for the first time in quite a few years I am able to participate in the singing of our church's Christmas Cantata, which is entitled, "Christmas is Jesus".   Although the music is somewhat difficult (or maybe I'm just out of practice...), the words of each and every song keep reverberating in my head throughout the day as I go about my work.  But the one that is speaking particularly to me today is this one:

"In the busy Christmas noise, 
all the lights, the bells, the toys;
I have found You are the only source
of comfort and joy.

Lord, I want Your presence for Christmas,
I want Your presence for Christmas,
I long to feel Your Spirit speaking peace to my heart.
Of all the gifts I may receive,
there's only one I really need,
and it's Your presence,
Your presence for Christmas.

When the holiday is through,
and the year is fresh and new,
what will linger are the moments spent
my Lord, just worshiping You.


Lord, I want Your presence for Christmas,
I want Your presence for Christmas,
I long to feel Your Spirit speaking peace to my heart.
Of all the gifts I may receive,
there's only one I really need,
and it's Your presence,
Your presence for Christmas."

(words and music by Rebecca J. Peck, Word Music)

That is my prayer for this Christmas season..."Lord, I want YOUR presence"..."speaking peace to my heart."  And that is also my prayer for our home, family, our country, our world. "Lord, we need YOUR presence speaking peace to our hearts..."

Last year some of my blogging friends and I each chose one word for the New Year to be our personal theme word.  The word I chose was "Hope", as I was hoping for answers to prayers, dreams to come true, hoping for a better life in so many ways.  I can honestly say that God fulfilled so much of what I was hoping for...He did answer many prayers, He did help many dreams come true, and we do have a better life.  This year the word I am thinking of is "Emmanuel"...not just a word, but a Name, the Name given to Jesus (Isaiah 7:14), which means, "God With Us".   That's what I'm praying for this year, during this Christmas season and throughout the New Year, that "Emmanuel", "God With Us", will become a reality...spiritually speaking, yes, of course...but personally as well.  We need to know that God IS with us...we need to know Him, and feel His presence in all of our life events and circumstances. Beyond that, I look forward to His divine presence returning for us very soon. Who knows, this could be the year!

My favorite Nativity Ornament from my parent's Christmas tree collection.

So, may you realize anew this year that "Christmas is Jesus", and that He was born to save us from our sins and to give us new life in Him...and most of all, eternal life forever with Him in heaven. Now that's something to celebrate!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Still Reeling and Putting Things in Perspective

I haven't really felt like writing anything this week...the election was an emotional rollercoaster that left me feeling a bit queasy and unsettled. 
But now my focus has changed. 
I've seen a lot of good things posted on facebook and in our blogs this week by those of us who were disappointed in the outcome of the election...
What I liked most was that we are a resilient, faith-filled group who will not be discouraged and frightened by the things that are at war around us. 
We have shifted our thoughts and minds toward heavenly events...the "Big Picture"...the giant jigsaw puzzle that we call life in this world and the world beyond...
the Universe...the Heavenlies...everything that is in between the Alpha and the Omega...
"The Beginning and the End".  
I've heard many people say that they feel even more convinced that "The End" is even nearer than we thought before. 
Of course, that is true...every day the end of our lives as we know it comes a little bit closer.
And certainly, if you are a Child of God,
you are looking forward
to being welcomed into the Arms of Jesus someday.
What is on my mind and heart is not so much my own passing from this life into the next,
but the strong impression that I am feeling
Christ's return is very soon.
No, I am not making predictions or trying to frighten anyone.
That shouldn't be a frightening thought anyway, 
if  you KNOW HIM.
It's just a sense that the "signs of the times"
are pointing only one direction: UP.
That is our great hope...
the fulfillment of every believer's greatest desire:
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of an archangel,
and with the trumpet of God,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up
together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore comfort one another with these words."
I Thessalonians 4:16-18
So, therefore, I am hoping to "comfort" you with these words.
Christ's return is imminent.
People Get Ready  (click for video/song)
Jesus Is Coming  (this particular video/song may be a little "strange" to some. It's not exactly
my style of "music" either, but the message through the verses posted are very
appropriate for this message today.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Thoughts and Reflections" from 1995 (RJD Link Up)

Random Journal Day is back! Wow!  Random Journal Day Blog Hop Link Up for November is the place to go if you want to join us in this link up of other bloggers, sharing from their own personal journals.  We used to try and do that every week, but I guess we were running our of journal entries (I was). Now we just do it once a month, which helps me a lot. 

So here goes...This entry is dated Sunday, October 15, 1995, and is entitled:

 "Thoughts and Reflections".

It's hard to believe that we've been in Kansas for two whole months.  We arrived on our 26th wedding anniversary.  After traveling for three and one half days, and a total of 1800+ miles, even Kansas was a welcome sight...since it was the end of our journey.  We came to the little town of _________, Kansas, with high hopes and big dreams.  A dream was finally being realized--my husband was coming to teach at a Christian College.  After years of training and education, we were finally reaching our goal!  Although this particular college was not the place of our dreams,  when the opportunity arose to teach at this little college in the middle of Kansas, we jumped.  At least part of the dream would come true.

So here we are~out in the middle of The Great Plains~a most unique place in the world.  For someone who loves trees and mountains, rivers, lakes and rushing streams, it's a mighty different world! But every place has its own beauty~if you look for it.  The grasses of the prairie are changing from summer's green to autumn's golden hues.  The sky is a most beautiful clear bright blue~rarely a cloud to be seen.  At night you can see every star in the universe~the expanse of sky seems infinite out here where there are no mountains (or buildings) to break up the horizon.  One can actually see for miles and miles and miles.

Everyone here said there wouldn't be much color in the fall~but I think they just really have never paid attention.  True, it's not the riot of gorgeous color of our beloved New Hampshire hills we just left behind~but there are leaves of gold and yellow and a few red scattered here and there.  The autumn sun shines more brightly~illuminating the leaves with its brilliance.  Autumn in Kansas can be beautiful~if you look for it.

What a stark change for us is this small, sleepy country town.  The traffic here is mostly farm-related~the trains roll through town many times day and night taking grain to market.  The constant hum of the grain driers let you know there's more activity going on here than meets the eye.  However, mostly it is a quiet, dusty, and friendly village.  People always wave as they pass by, whether you know them or not.  If walking by they most always speak.  There's an easy pace of living here. No one is in too big of a hurry.  An evening walk around the town seems to be on most everyone's agenda.

Yes, this little town is a throwback to the 40's and 50's in many ways.  "The Town that Time Forgot".  They still do things the old-fashioned way, and maybe that's not bad.

We came here hoping to be an encouragement and "inspiration" to this community.  We prayed for the Lord to bless this college and town, and maybe we were foolish to think that we were a part of that blessing. We believed we were obeying the will of the Lord to come here and sacrifice a ministry in a place we loved, a close bond with our children, and a career in another denomination.  We left all that behind because we thought God wanted us to come here and be a type of lighthouse in a darkened place. These people were groping in a darkness of despair and discouragement.  We wanted to help rescue them. We wanted to give them hope and encouragement.  They appeared to be very responsive and appreciative of our willingness to make that sacrifice-although they really had no idea what it was costing us. 
They made us feel like we were being promised the world to come here~but when the time came to redeem the promises~they turned to dust and ashes. 
Suddenly people turned their heads away and averted their eyes from meeting ours~they knew all along we were being deceived.  They seemed surprised that we ever believed anything else!  Now the warmth of their handshakes has turned cold and lost its grip.  We suddenly feel alone on this wide prairie.  Our dreams have vanished in a whirlwind of disappointment. 

So~we thought~let's go back "home" while there's yet time.  But, alas! Time had already run out.  Those who just a short time ago had cried at our departure and prayed we'd change our minds~had changed their minds! They had determined "to go another direction."  So here we are~feeling very stranded and trapped on the lone prairie.  Suddenly the silence from our "friends" back home seems deafening.  For the first time since arriving here, our mail-box was empty.

Thankfully our Lord hasn't forgotten us.  He understands our plight and knows our hearts.  Perhaps He wanted us to come here to learn some valuable lessons.  I know I'm learning to be more careful about leaping into new adventures.  Yet I always want to be willing and available to obey His call.  I don't think we misunderstood His call to come here~perhaps we just misunderstood the reason why we were to come.  God's ways are not our ways~His purposes are higher than ours.  He is working on a higher plane that we cannot always see or comprehend.  But He IS always in control~even when we don't understand or like our circumstances.

At this point we are searching to discover if we can get back closer to home.  We miss our kids we left behind, but we don't want to be in their back yard~just close enough to see once in a while. 

On a different note, we learned that the wife of one of our pastoral friends has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. This really grieves me to hear of her having such pain to go through.  I wish I could be near her to help in some way, but my prayers will have to suffice.  I pray God will send someone to be a special friend to her, who will be an encourager and comforter..."Lord, You know their needs~please be there with them and send your ambassadors of love and mercy to carry them through this time. Amen". 

My problems seem small when I think of what my friend must endure.

To wrap this up, we did go back "home" to be near our kids just before Christmas.  It was a difficult homecoming. Although some of our faithful friends were there to welcome us with open arms and strong backs to carry our furniture in through over three feet of snow (truly!), things had changed.  We could not pick up where we had left off.  Our position was gone to another...we were very much on our own to find a way to survive.  But that's another story for another day.  Suffice it to say, we did survive...in more ways than one. God was very gracious and merciful and provided for us in ways beyond our comprehension at the time.  I will be forever grateful for that. But it was a hard lesson learned. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Prayer for Our Son

Prayers and Thoughts for Our Son Matthew

The parent cries out before the Lord on behalf of the child:

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.  O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!"
Psalm 84:11-12

"In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me."
Psalm 86:7

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord,
'He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.'
Surely He shall deliver you
from the snare of the fowler
and from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler."
Psalm 91:1-4

God says this regarding His child: (and we claim this on behalf of our son by faith)

"Because he has set his love upon Me,
therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because
he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
and show him My salvation."
Psalm 91:14-16

The Child of God Gives Praise:

"Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me,
bless His holy Name!
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."
Psalm 103:1-5

"But the mercy of the Lord is
from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear Him,
and His righteousness to
children's children,
To such as keep His covenant,
and to those who remember
His commandments to do them."
Psalm 103:17-18

"Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments."
Psalm 112:1

"He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast,
trusting in the Lord."
Psalm 112:7

"You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You."

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever."
Psalm 118: 28-29

The Parent of the Child Said:

"I will extol You, my God,
O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
and I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
and His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise
Your works to another,
and shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the
glorious splendor of Your majesty,
and on Your wondrous works."
Psalm 145: 1-5

"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
to all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
The Lord preserves all who love Him."
Psalm 145:18-20a.

We pray this and claim this by faith, Dear Lord, on behalf
of our precious son. He is Your child; You only lent him to us for a season. We will trust in You to do what is right in Your sight on his behalf...and on behalf of his dear wife and son.  Bring healing to him, Lord, if it please You.  Have mercy upon him, and give him strength and power from on High.
We commit him to You, in Jesus' Name.

Nicole, Noah, and Matthew

A recent post that will give some background to this prayer :  Home Again-Home Again-Jiggety-Jig

Although the news was not real encouraging from the Dr. today,
we are trusting in God to
continue the work that He has begun in Matthew's life. We will continue to praise our Lord and Saviour, even in the face of discouragement.  God is in control. 

"My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord,
and all flesh shall bless His Holy Name
Forever and ever." Psalm 145:21

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Things I See Outside My Open Window Are Enough to Frighten Some

It's not even Halloween yet, but tonight's events had a few of us shaking in our shoes! Thankfully, we still had ON our shoes...

This is a Pygmy Rattlesnake...in my flowerbed by my front door.

The yellow tip on his tail is actually his rattler.  His mouth is open and he
is not happy with us at all.

We weren't too happy with HIM either...so HOE, HOE, HOE, off with your head we go!

You can see, even without his head, he was still very feisty.  He wasn't any
larger than the end of our hoe blade...but just as deadly as his larger cousins,
the Diamondback Rattlesnake.

As you can see by this video, he was pretty angry about losing his head! Nasty little fella!  So glad I hadn't put my hand in that garden without noticing him first. My husband almost DID last week...but the snake got away...but not today! I just hope he doesn't have a nest of babies nearby...we will be careful, you can be assured.! Welcome to my "Camp in the Woods House"!  MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! 

Oh, I did see some more pleasant things this evening...so we will finish up with those so you won't have nightmares:

This lovely "Hummingbird Moth" flew in for a drink just before dusk.  He is a
large moth with a tongue like a hummingbird...very interesting!

See that long tongue drinking nectar from the flowers?

Next, I kind of broke up the love affair between these two giant grasshoppers.  They
definitely did NOT like having their picture taken...

I'm sure they'll get back together soon...

The sun was starting to set beyond the trees to our west...time to head back inside before the REAL excitement starts
when the bears start to cross through the "zone"... 

(previously posted picture from July...did not see them tonight...but that doesn't
mean they won't be out there later....)

Beautiful Autumn Sky...Half a moon shining down...
Yes, that is a picture worth sharing...
"GoodNite...Sleep Tight, Don't let the bedbugs bite!"

"The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein." 
Psalm 24:1

"Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty.
The LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He IS the King of glory!"
Psalm 24:7-10