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!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Family Time is the Best Time

The past few days we have been enjoying something that does not happen often enough...a visit from our #2 son who lives far away in Maine...and the joy and privilege of having our nuclear family all together again.  I define "nuclear family" as our original family unit...my husband and me and our three sons.  Our family has grown beyond that in that son #2 is happily married and has a wonderful wife and son too...our only grandchild...but they were not able to travel with him for this trip.  So it is just us...Dad and Mom and our three adult sons. 

I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful this visit has been for us.  The last time we were all together was just exactly one year ago, for my father's memorial service.  Obviously that was not the most ideal time for a happy visit...even though we enjoyed our time together and treasured every moment...there was still an undertone of sadness that cast a pall over our time together. Sadly, it seems as though the older we get, the only occasions many families do get together is for either a funeral or perhaps a wedding or a holiday...but rarely just for the fun of it.

That is why we determined that we were going to change this trend for our family.  Until that sorrowful event last year, we had not all been under the same roof at the same time in quite a long time.  It wasn't for lack of love for each other...but due to circumstances beyond their (and our) control.

So we have been doing exactly what we enjoy doing most...just being together.  We've spent some time outdoors fishing in a quiet peaceful setting...we've enjoyed laughing and eating and talking, eating, talking and laughing...and being family. 'Cause that's what families do...

I wonder what it is about food and family that seems to bring us together...I mean, think about it...most of my fondest memories of family life revolve around times spent around the table together...Thanksgiving, Birthdays, Christmas, 4th of July, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day...you name it...our celebrations of these special events all center on the kinds of food we eat...the special desserts, traditional holiday dishes, and the love that goes into preparing those feasts.  Is it really the food that we eat that makes the event so special?  Or, is it the fact that we are together...around a table, or in chairs on a patio, or even at a restaurant...and the food is merely the innocent bystander to a feast of love shared between people who have common roots, ancestry and traditions...giving us a communal backdrop to something much sweeter and deeper...family ties. 
This is not a new thing for this generation...trace your roots and you will find that food played a major role in the histories of  our ancestries...all the way back to Adam and Eve and the original apple.  It's a tradition that is biblical for families and God-fearing people since time began.

Look at the early church in the 2nd Chapter of Acts...the new believers joined in communion together "breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart..."  Acts 2:46. 

Then skip ahead to the future kingdom days in heaven...and the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb"...(Revelation 19:7-10)...when we who trust and believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord will be invited to sit down at that banquet table with all the saints of old and enjoy the ultimate feast with our eternal family and the Lamb of God, Who has taken away the sins of the world...Oh, that will be a glorious day...a family reunion that will never end.

Think about the happy times you've shared with your loved ones...did food play a part? Did it really matter if you had the best of gourmet dinners and shimmering desserts served on exquisite china and crystal?  Or was the food and laughter just as wonderful served on paper plates and picnic tables? The important thing is being together...and not waiting for the funerals or holidays to make it happen.  None of us can guarantee tomorrow...don't wait too long...do whatever it takes to make it happen.  You will be glad you did.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Great is Your Faithfulness"

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

I woke up this morning singing the hymn that is written from that verse:

"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.


Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided--
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow--
Blessings all min, with then thousand beside!

Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided--
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Written by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960

Yes, I woke up this morning singing that hymn because God IS faithful...He never changes...His compassions never fail...every morning I do see new mercies...and yes, ALL I have ever needed His hand has provided.

Trust me, there have been dark days, lean days, scary days, days when I feared that God had somehow forgotten me...but even in my darkest hours, I have to say that I KNOW He has never let me down.  His mercy has never failed...and He has ALWAYS provided just what I needed...even when I didn't know that was what I needed.  He knew best.  Like the old TV show, "Father Knows Best"...our Heavenly Father really does know best. First time, every time. 

I don't know what you may be going through right now.  But I can honestly say to you from experience: Trust God...He IS faithful...always and forever!

"'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, , Therefore I hope in Him!"  Lamentations 3:24

Monday, April 16, 2012

Random Journal Day #4 "Reflections Off the Beaten Path"

Here we go again!  Random Journal Day #4 is coming up soon, and I want to be on time this week!  I pulled out another old ratty looking notebook journal...I really didn't get into "journaling" in the formal sense until several years later, but by then I had already written all these pages in ordinary notebooks without fancy covers, and stuffed them into my "secret" hiding places in my room so no one would go snooping in them.  I figured no one would be very interested in something written in a school notebook, so why worry!  Now I wish they were in a better bound book so they would be preserved for a long time.  I may have to do that yet...but not today.

So, This particular journal entry was written on Saturday, October 5, 1991 at 10:39 p.m., from our home in  Michigan. Hence the "fall theme" for the day.  Although today as I write this, it is a warm summery spring day in Florida, it is always refreshing to think of a fall day up north! 

I started out my journal by writing:

"Fall has arrived in all its splendor and majesty! The hues of autumn splash across the horizon in every direction. Something mystical and magical happens at this time of year. All of God's creation begins its preparation for the coming onslaught of winter. The stirrings in our innermost being manifest themselves in getting things ready...the house, the shrubs, the clothes, the wood, the shopping, the putting away of summer playthings and digging out the fall tools...rakes, wheelbarrows, pruning shears, the wood maul...cleaning out closets to make room for the heavy coats, woolens, boots, sweaters...locating the hats, gloves and scarves and long johns. Finding the snow shovel under a heap of gardening tools in the garage and putting it in a prominent place...bringing in the lawn chairs and taking out the birdseed to fill the feeders...

Taking a brisk walk on a golden afternoon....donning a favorite flannel shirt and jacket, the smell of woodsmoke in the air...hearing the rustling of the leaves as they float to the ground in the crisp autumn breeze. The scent of apples permeates the air as we walk through the old orchard. How refreshing is a cold cup of cider...and how welcome the aroma of a freshly baked apple pie on a Saturday afternoon...or the spicy fragrance of a pumpkin pie cooling on the kitchen table.

We come in from an invigorating walk on a snappy fall day and warm our hands by the crackling cheery fire. A cup of hot tea and a warm piece of that delicious pie, a good book and a cozy recliner by the fire makes a perfect spot to be perfectly relaxed and removed from the cares and worries of the busy world outside the window.

Yes, fall is both a time of busy preparation and anticipation of the rigors of the winter ahead...It is also a time to step aside and get off the beaten path...reflect on the natural beauty of God's handiwork, rejoice in the fact that you are alive and a part of the cycle God has put into place. Take time to smell the apples and spicy fragrances of autumn...enjoy the golden days to the fullest...make every moment a treasure to remember in the coming long days of confinement.

For alas! The days are passing by oh so quickly~The days of reaping will soon be over, and all of God's harvest field will be gathered toether in His heavenly barn. The work will be finished...and there will be no way to go back and redeem the time that was lost. Live each day to the fullest while you can...but not LOST in vain "busy"ness and "preparation".

Enjoy the people around you...enjoy the scenery before you. Enjoy what God has blessed you with...your home, family, friends, loved ones...live a life that is pleasing to God and is a testimony of faith and faithfulness to those around you. Yes, "work, for the night is coming!" But also, take time to enjoy the day that is here presently. Don't let fear, dogma, and feelings of guilt that you can't do everything rob you of the joy of living. Your smiling face and words of encouragment and joy will do more to inspire your friends and neighbors than all the "busy" work that never seems to get done and only steals away your rest, peace, and joy. Refresh yourself with a true rest time in God's Word and enjoying His handiwork that He created for us to enjoy richly!"

Wow! I said a mouthful...a sermon preached to me from me...but via the Holy Spirit I am certain.  I know what kind of "busy"ness I was experiencing at that particular time in my life...we had a very involved and stressful ministry in a large suburban church,  with one son in middle school, and two sons away in college in a far away state.  Our middle son, Matthew, had come through a huge hurdle in his life that previous spring and summer...he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and experienced major surgery and treatment for, thankfully, (miraculously) a benign tumor...and still was able to attend his freshman year at college that fall.  We had to deal with our own emotional distress of that frightful experience. In addition, our church was a difficult assignment...not leaving us much time to enjoy the beauty of fall...so I know this message was one of yearning and longing in my heart if not lived out in reality. We had come through some major battles, both physical and spiritual...and we were much in need of a fall "retreat". 

Yes, I remember this time well...it was not a pleasant memory to reflect upon at all...so I am certain that is why I wrote so poignantly and emphatically.  As a matter of fact, within six months we were on our way to a new adventure, partly out of necessity for survival both spiritually and emotionally, and partly because we had no other choice. But God was with us in the difficult times and the good times.  He carried us through that winter by preparing our hearts in the fall for the change that was to come.  And in the spring and summer of that next year He showed us the path He had chosen for us to follow and gave us the way of "escape".  I wish I could say that life was perfect from then on...but that would not be honest.  I can say that God was with us all the way...through every new season of life...and He still is today, ever present, ever loving, and always with us. That's one season that will never change.  Praise the Lord!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Random Journal Day #3: A Rather Nondescript Journal

Here we go again...Random Journal Day #3!  I am enjoying this opportunity to team up with other blogging friends in baring our innermost souls and sharing excerpts from our past journals with the world.  It is a bold and daring thing to do...open up an old journal and allow others to have a peek at our secret thoughts.  It could prove to be embarrassing, but hopefully it will be uplifting and encouraging to others who see themselves in what we have written.  If you would like to join us in this activity, please link up with us on
the following link: Random Journal Day Link Up - 3

Meanwhile, Today I selected an entry from my most nondescript journal in my collection.  I wanted to post a picture of it, but it is just a plain brown notebook, in which I added pages as needed.  The cover was so ugly, I decided to try and show it off to its best advantage...here's a few shots of it:
Now you have to admit that these pictures
do make this journal look a lot more interesting!
Now if the story is anywhere near as interesting as the picture,
this might be worth reading!

The journal entry I have chosen to share comes from September 3, 1989- Sunday, 9:55 p.m.     "Bedtime always seems to be the only time I can sit down and write. Probably because everyone else is still up-either getting showers, playing in their rooms to the very last minute, or watching the tail-end of a game or something on T.V.  (At the time of this writing, we had 3 sons living at home, ages 17, 16, and 12. One was a senior in high school, one a junior, and one in 7th grade.  We were serving in the ministry of a suburban church in the outskirts of Dayton, OH.)  I like to steal away into my bedroom, get my shower, and write awhile before everyone else comes barging in for bedtime prayers and goodnights.  Writing is, to me, a very private thing. (and here you are reading over my shoulder!)  Although someday I'd love to publish a book for all the world to read~right now I want to keep it hidden from view~my own private world where I can say what I want without fearing what someone else will say about it.  I guess it's sort of a lack of self-esteem~I don't want anyone else to read what I've written who may not understand it or appreciate it.  (See...this really does take courage to print!)  I'm sure someday someone will discover this and read it~maybe a grandchild~or even a great-grandchild~and if they do, perhaps they'll catch a glimpse of their past in these pages~perhaps even a glimpse of themselves~"a missing link", so to speak~of why they think or act the way they do~or why certain traditions have been handed down in their families.  Who knows what some future heir will think when he or she reads this...perhaps that their ancestor was a bit odd?  Or silly and sentimental--or a dreamer?!  Well, regardless of what my future heirs shall think~I'll continue to write~and maybe this will eventually fall into the hands of a "kindred spirit"...a child with a heart like mine!  One who will cherish these words from the past as a treasure of memories.  I suppose that's why I take the time to write them~with the hope that someday someone will read and understand and appreciate the underlying messages coming through." 

At this point in my journal I mentioned that I had recently resigned from a job and I listed a very long wish list of things that I hoped to accomplish now that I was "free"....as free as any busy pastor's wife with 3 active teenaged boys could be, that is. I was rather ambitious...of course, I was only about 39 years old at the time, so I guess I still had the energy to be that ambitious.  Some of the things I listed were:
  • refinishing some antique furniture
  • plant tulip bulbs given to me by a friend from church
  • bake bread! ?
  • make and freeze applesauce?!
  • make and freeze zucchini bread?!
  • catch up on correspondence
  • teach 2 Bible Studies, work with Jr. High youth at church
  • thoroughly clean the house!
  • be a better neighbor and friend and spend more time cultivating friendships
  • and last but not least: WRITE A BOOK!  I think it was funny that I wrote in parentheses: ("What do you think this is??")
I then added the following thoughts:
"So, the plans look ambitious~and I commit them all to God.  I want HIM to order my life~not me!  If these plans aren't exactly that He had in mind for me, then I submit to His will and seek His guidance.  Perhaps He has some surprises in store yet!  I trust they will be pleasant surprises."

I went on to quote from an old hymn the following:
"But I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day."

I concluded this entry by saying, "Tomorrow is Labor Day. No school or work! Hurray!!"  Good night.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this excerpt from my past.  Hard to believe this was almost 23 years ago! I still have a long list of things I'd like to accomplish...still some of the same kinds of things..and especially the part about writing a book...and I still ask myself, "What do you think this is?"  Maybe someday...

P.S.  Looking back at the time this journal entry was written, I can say that God did have some surprises in store for us.  Within three months we were called to another church in the suburbs of Detroit, MI., which was quite an adventure in itself - for another story.  I did, however, manage to accomplish a few of my goals before moving... I refinished the antique vanity that I had wanted to restore...and here is a picture of the finished product along with my Grandmother's antique dresser. (I didn't refinish the dresser...that was already done by my brother). (Notice the gold carpet...this was the 80's, remember?) I did plant the tulips in my yard, but I never got to see them grow and bloom. I wonder if they are still there?  I don't remember about the applesauce, bread and zucchini bread...but I still like that idea for a fall project.  I will never catch up on correspondence...but now we have email and facebook, so that is my "correspondence" these days. (and this blog).  I know I taught a Ladies' Bible Study, but I don't remember another one at that particular time, and I did help with the youth until we left that church 3 months later.  Neighbors? Well, we moved...what can I say? But, I do still keep in touch with many of the ladies from that Bible Study on facebook..which was a surprise blessing a couple of years ago! And I am STILL wanting to write that book...someday...Lord willing! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thorns among the Vines/THE FRUIT OF MY LABOR Updated again...

April 9, 2012...I had to update this again...please scroll down to the bottom to see the latest "fruit of my labor"...Thank you Jesus!!


"Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."  II Corinthians 2:14-15


"I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction..."  Proverbs 24: 30-32

Well, today I tackled a "thorny problem".  It was such a glorious day...picture perfect weather...sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 60's, which, after yesterday's high 80's (yes, it is February in Florida), the refreshingly cool day was a God-send. So, I said to myself (and to anyone else who would listen) So I said to MYSELF, (because no one else WOULD listen)..."Today is much too beautiful to sit inside and watch a race on TV...a person would have to be crazy to stay inside on a day like this..."   And because it was such a marvelous day, I decided to do several things I have been wanting to do ever since moving into our new house in the forest. 

  1. I washed our sheets and hung them on the clothesline! (Should that be "hanged" or "hung"?)
  2. I washed some towels and underwear and hung them on the line also (after I took in the freshly dried, sweet smelling clean sheets and put them right back on my bed to enjoy tonight).
  3. I opened windows everywhere in the house and let the fresh air in and the stuffy air out. (Who said mid 60's are too cool to open the windows? Bah humbug! Put on a sweater if you are cold!)
  4. And then I decided to tackle the overgrown honeysuckle and/or wisteria vines on our privacy fence.

I have been wanting to prune these vines ever since we bought this house...and to get them cleaned out before they start to bloom and attract all manner of honeybees and bumblebees!  They appeared to not have been pruned in a long time, and I knew if I didn't get started on them soon, they would be even more overgrown and difficult to manage.  So I headed out there with my brand new pruning shears and thick work gloves, and started cutting and pulling out the dead vines.  I soon discovered why several sections of the vines were looking dead even though there appeared to be green leaves growing on them.  The green leaves did not belong to the honeysuckle and wisteria vines at all...they belonged to a thorny vine that was working its way through the healthy plants and choking them out, leaving dry, brittle dead stalks in its wake. 

As I struggled to cut through these thorny vines and pull them out I couldn't help but think about the parable Jesus taught His disciples about the "Sower and the Soils" in Matthew 13:3-23...and particularly verse 7, which says:
"And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them."
Jesus later explained this parable to the disciples as the seed that is the Word of God that is sown among good soil (hearts and minds willing to hear and learn) and the Word of God that falls upon the wayside on stony or thorny ground, are hearts that are not receptive to God because of the "cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches" that comes and chokes the word so that the person becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)

Those thorny vines choking out the good vines became a very clear picture of what Jesus was talking about, in the literal, agricultural sense.  It also made me realize that I sometimes allow thorny vines to creep in and choke out my healthy growth...thorny vines of anxiety, insecurity, selfishness, preoccupation with things that really aren't that important... and I needed to add to my checklist for today to take some time out to prepare my heart for reading and hearing God's Word...(and writing the things that the Lord lays on my heart to write...)  So here I am, Lord.

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. 
For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."  Isaiah 55:10-13

Lord, I pray that instead of the thorns around my heart and mind, You will cause new healthy growth to appear, and that it will indeed be an everlasting sign that will not be cut off.   I pray that Your Word, which You have shown me here today from Your mouth, will indeed not return to You void, but that it shall accomplish all that You please, and that it shall prosper in the thing for which YOU sent it.  Amen.
"And all the trees of the woods shall clap their hands"  Isaiah 55:12...Even this beautiful magnolia tree which
happens to be in my backyard will clap its hands!   (See below for a later update...)

"For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace."  Isaiah 55:12
AMEN! Thank you Lord!!

April 9, 2012...The Magnolia Tree is starting to bloom...

April 9, 2012:  Our fence is now loaded with Confederate Jasmine and
Honeysuckle in full bloom!  The hummingbirds and butterflies are in
nectar heaven!!! Thank you Lord!!

Can you smell this honeysuckle?  It is divine...

God is so good.