What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

After the Rain...New Signs of Growth

The other day I wrote a post on my blog entitled "Signs of Growth", speaking about growth both in the physical as well as the spiritual sense.  In that story I had mentioned that I was a bit frustrated that I was not seeing many signs of growth in my yard or in the trees I had planted since moving to our new home in the woods.  It's been a very dry spring, and it was taking constant watering to keep things growing. However, we have just had about 48 hours of consistent rain, thanks to tropical storm "Beryl", and tonight I took a walk around my yard and discovered many new "signs of growth" in the natural sense.  So I thought I would take this opportunity to take you with me and share them with you.  Enjoy!  Wish you were here to see this in person! Maybe someday!  Be sure to click on each picture to get a closer view!

The first Crape Myrtles of the season blooming in my back yard!!
 I had no idea what color they would be!

Perfect! Don't you agree?

More jasmine blooming...it smells so sweet!

This is a Magnolia Seed after the blossom goes away! I've never
seen one in this early stage before! Isn't it interesting?
A Magnolia Blossom about to open up.
I finally got a picture of a mother Cardinal sitting on her nest.  We've been
blessed with so many beautiful Cardinals, and already have several
juvenile Cardinals at our feeder every meal.  It will be interesting to see
the next brood arrive!  This nest is in one of the Crape Myrtle trees, and
right at my eye level! Thank you, Mrs. Cardinal, for allowing me to take
your picture while you are "in waiting'!

Now THIS is something I'm proud of! My first tomato growing
on a plant that I planted in my own yard! It was nice of our friends
The Masterson's to give us the plants while they were still in
the pots, and after faithful watering they are finally starting to
produce fruit...or is it a vegetable? Whichever...I can't wait to try it!
Do you know what these are?  This is a Dogwood Tree, and these are the
berries before they turn red.  Of course, these were once the dogwood
flowers in the early spring!  I love how God designs all of these beautiful
trees and flowers and seeds...so amazing!
I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it has a little blossom
growing in the middle of its curled up leaves. We have a lot
of these growing around the edges of the forest here, and I
don't know what they are. Do you?
Not sure what kind of tree this is either, but I think it is some kind
of Sweet Gum or Bay tree. There is a tiny little flower in the center
where the new leaves form.

Look at this profusion of English Ivy! It is growing all over the ground
and around some of the older oak trees in the front woodsy corner
of our lot.  It is so beautiful!

I believe this is "Beauty Berry", a bush that will have beautiful
purple berries that the butterflies and birds will love. I'll bet
the bears and the deer love them too!  There is a lot of this
growing all around, so it will be interesting to see what
More "beauty berry" in its flowering stage. 
This is a teensy tiny little flower, growing all over the ground beneath the
old oak tree that is covered in lichen.  I don't know what it is, but it is so
delicate and sweet, and perfectly natural.  Just yesterday this area was covered
with water which ran off of the road and was filled with limerock mud. I feared
that nothing would live there after that...
Our front yard during Tropical Storm Beryl 5/28/12, Memorial Day
Holly Berries in my East Palatka Holly Tree that we planted!
They will turn red later this summer...if the deer don't come and
eat them first!

King Solomon tells us in his writings in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter three,

"To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under heaven: 
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant,
and a time to pluck what is planted.."  
And Last, but not Least...this is a volunteer plant growing up in the dirt where we
earlier had been draining (underground) the gray water from our kitchen sink and
garbage disposal!  It may be a cantalope or perhaps a squash vine! Time will tell!

I also stuck some watermelon seeds out there yesterday evening during the rain
so we shall see what pops up from that...if the birds and the bunnies don't get them first!

 "He has made everything beautiful in its time."
Ecclesiastes 3:11a. 

Don't you agree?

I hope you enjoyed this little walk around the yard with me.
I know I did.
Y'all come!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dust and Bugs? Who cares?

One of my kitchen windowsills...after I cleaned it!  You don't think I'd take a picture of it dirty, do you?
Notice the birds on the bird feeder outside my window? That's what I look at...not the dust and bugs.

As I was washing up the dishes following our leisurely (thank you, Lord) Memorial Day breakfast this morning, I noticed that the windowsill above the kitchen sink was rather dusty and had a few love bug carcasses in the corners.  It's unfortunate that I didn't take care of that before we had a house full of company for a holiday indoor picnic a couple of days ago.  Actually, I have to admit that I had noticed the dust, etc. prior to our gathering, but it wasn't high enough on the priority list to get it cleaned up in time for company. I mean, having enough food to eat, tables and chairs set for everyone to have a place to sit, clean bathrooms with extra toilet paper and hand towels, etc....those are the priorities for a crowd! When you work outside of the home all week and don't have a housekeeper (except for my husband, who is still learning to be a wonderful house-husband and I don't want to push TOO hard), well, some things just don't make it to the absolute must-do list!

The tomatoes are ripe and juicy too!
So this morning, being a holiday and a lovely rainy, cloudy day with no particular place to go or any pressing urgencies, I decided to clean the windowsills.  After the fact as far as having them perfect for our party, but guess what? Not one of our guests mentioned the fact to me that those windowsills needed cleaning while they were helping me get the food ready for the dinner, nor did the wonderful ladies who assisted in washing the dishes after the dinner complain that my windowsills were dusty and buggy.  No one refused to eat at my table because I had dusty, buggy windowsills...no one pulled away from giving me a hug and laughing and smiling and sharing happy stories and sweet memories together because my windowsills were not tidy.  If anyone noticed them at all, I don't think they really cared.

My point is this...so often we put so much pressure on ourselves to have the picture-perfect house, like something out of House Beautiful or Country Living, before we will even dare to invite people into our home.  We tell ourselves that unless we can cook like Martha Stewart or Paula Deene or decorate like some decorating diva (I don't know any names for this one since I'm really not into that...) we can't possibly consider having a dinner party or picnic at our house. And so we don't ever open our homes to family, friends and especially not strangers.  We hide within our safe haven, where our immediate family doesn't really care if there are dust bunnies under the furniture or if the food isn't gourmet...and we never even try to practice hospitality because "it just isn't my gift." 

I could do that too, and I have done that...my last house was too small in which to do any entertaining, or at least that's what I told myself, and so we never made any friends in that community.  We had very few gatherings in that house, and it just never felt like home to me. Yes, it held all my "treasures", and our family had space to live and eat and breathe, but we never allowed ourselves to experience much laughter and fun with friends and extended family because I didn't think I could do it in that house. That was a lie.  I could've done it, but I convinced myself that no one would want to come there, so I didn't even try.

When we moved to this house in the forest, I determined that we were really going to live in this house, but we were not going to keep it just for ourselves.  This home was meant to be shared with others. Yes, it is bigger than the last house, but it isn't newer, or cleaner, and it certainly isn't close to any real city.  But my spirit is better here...my heart wants to reach out and make friends and entertain strangers...
"Let brotherly love continue.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."  Hebrews 13:1-2
Who knows?  The next person we meet here could be an angel in disguise!  I wonder if an angel would care if there was dust and dead love bugs on my windowsill?  Probably not.

So now, who wants to come be the next party at our house? I will warn you, the windowsills may be dusty and buggy again by then. I keep opening them every morning to let in the fresh cool morning air and to listen to the birdies singing while they eat their breakfast at my birdfeeders while I fix our breakfast before heading off to work. So the dust blows in and sometimes some bugs work their way in around the screens too. Also, when I throw a party, I usually ask our guests to bring a dish to share, because I don't want to do all the cooking! I like to sample your cooking too and it is so much more fun to have a pot luck than to try to eat my cooking alone.  Trust me on that one.  And you may get stuck helping to wash the dishes or put the leftovers away...and maybe even get to take some home with you.  This past weekend we had a lot of coleslaw left over thanks to a wonderful friend who brought enough for an army...I'd love to share some with you now!  We also forgot to cut the huge watermelon before everyone left because we had already had too much to eat!  So now we are eating watermelon and coleslaw for days...but the memories are so sweet. The laughter is still ringing in our ears...and we feel SO blessed. 

Again I say, "Dust and Bugs? Who cares?"  My final word is: "Mi Casa Es Su Casa"....My house is your house...so come on over!

This is the watermelon we forgot to eat! It's juicy and ripe!

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you Lord, for those who have given their lives so that we may live in freedom and peace.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Random Journal Day Link up #8, "In His Time"

I hope I'm not too late to join the "Random Journal Day" Linkup #8.  (Go to RJD #8 for more information) It's been a busy week, and I haven't had much time to think, let alone write...so sharing something I already wrote a long time ago from one of my old journals would simplify things a bit...so here goes:

Friday, May 4, 2001, 6:55 A.M.

"Lord, help us to see every moment of our lives as steps toward You."...This is the prayer from our devotional today. 
The story was about Saul of Tarsus (Paul), when he was met by Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20).  I like what the author of today's devotional (Amy Welborn) had to say about everything in our lives being preparations for our own growth.  She said,
"As much as we might rest content in our plans, we ought to know better, for life has a way of going in unexpected directions, joyful or tragic as they may be."
(Note: I don't have the reference for this quote, but it was written by Amy Welborn, not me)

This reminds me of Jeremiah 29:11, "For I (God) 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."

Amy Welborn continues in her devotional about how Saul was being prepared by God in all of his education and life's experiences, "combined with his God-given brilliance and strengths...tobring the Gospel to the entire world..."  Then she concludes that "In a unique way, so it is for each of us.  The road ahead is filled with surprises, but we walk in confidence, knowing that viewing life with the eyes of faith--God's eyes--we'll find a way to use everything that's happened for our growth and God's glory."

Lord, I pray today that You will take my life, with all it's unexpected curves and detours, and use me for Thy honor and glory.  I realize that everything that happens to us in life is for a divine purpose.  Nothing in our lives is wasted...

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says:
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."
Verse 3:11 says:
"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."

Romans 8:28~ 
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

I will close those thoughts for today with the words to a little song that I love:

"In His time, In His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time...
Lord please show me every day
As You're teaching me Your way
That You do just what You say
In Your time.

In Your time, In Your time,
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing
in Your time.

Lord, please show me every day,
as You're teaching me your way,
That You do just what You say,
In Your time."


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A New Perspective

I like to mix things up sometimes just to see things differently.  For instance, at our weekly staff meetings at the church where I work it seems as though we each have our favorite spot where we like to sit.  There are no assigned seats around the large oblong conference table, but each staff member tends to gravitate toward the same chair every week...the seat where each feels the most comfortable and "safe". 

So once in a while I like to get to the conference room a bit early and sit in a different chair so I can have a new view of the room and perhaps sit next to a different person.  By the reaction of the other staff members one would think that I had tipped the canoe over on an icy river!  Oh my goodness!  These intelligent, highly educated, deeply spiritual leaders and workers were suddenly thrown out of their comfortable positions and were having to navigate new waters!  It was an interesting experiment...I found it hilariously funny to watch their expressions as they attempted to figure out where to sit down and by whom they would now be sitting!  Several were very vocal in their protests at having to rearrange their personal comfort zone for something so simple as a staff meeting. 

I couldn't help thinking to myself, "And these are the people who are trying to teach others about stepping outside the box...reaching out to strangers on the street...sharing the gospel with lost souls both inside and outside the walls of the church?"  Now, don't get me wrong...I am not attempting to be critical of my fellow servants for Christ.  It was a lesson as much for myself as for them...and perhaps for you.  If we are to be the light in the darkness...the salt of the earth...the voice of Christ to those who have not yet heard...how can we expect to do that when we are not even able to change positions at a friendly staff meeting without feeling out of place and uncomfortable?

Perhaps we each need to put ourselves to this little test...mix things up a bit in your own situation...try sitting next to a new person or a stranger the next time you are at church, or an office meeting, or a community gathering of some type.  Maybe it would be a good idea to practice this at home first...try sitting in a different place at your dinner table or in your living room and look at things from a new vantage point.  Put yourself in your child's place for a while...try to see things the way he/she sees it...or from your spouse's viewpoint...or any other family member or friend with whom you perhaps do not always see eye to eye.   Carry that thought with you to work next time...if there is a difficult co-worker or even a supervisor...allow yourself the opportunity to look at the job or life from their perspective.  You may come away with a new understanding of why that individual acts or reacts the way they do.  You may actually begin to care more about that person as a real person and not just another co-worker or supervisor.

You know, Jesus has already set this example for us.  When He left His throne in glory, and Christ, the Son of God, stepped down to earth and became One with us...to walk with us, talk with us, and even die FOR us, so that we might have everlasting fellowship and life WITH Him and His Father. 

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14 

"Immanuel", "which is translated, 'God with us.'"  Matthew 1:23.
He didn't leave us on our own to figure these things out...He left the Great Comforter, the Holy Spirit, about Whom He said,

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

Maybe this is one of those things...

To lighten things up a bit...
How would you like to see life from the perspective of those two
"love-bugs" sitting on the edge of a daylily? 
I'll bet you didn't even notice them until I mentioned it...

I hope you will look at your life from a new perspective today! Try it, you might like it!! 

"Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Family Isn't Perfect

Did my title get your attention?  Well, don't get your hopes up...I'm not going to "hang out my dirty laundry" for all the world to see...

If you read my previous post about our happy days with our "nuclear family" all together, (see link below)

http://pamelasopenwindow.blogspot.com/2012/04/family-time-is-best-time.html   you might get the impression that our family is "just perfect"...enjoying fun times of eating and laughing, playing games and going fishing and not having a care in the world.  After looking at the pictures I had posted on my Facebook Page, one of my friends commented that she envied me this time with our boys all home again.  I understood where her comment stemmed from...but it kind of bothered me.  Why? Well, because it made me stop and realize that there are others out there who are longing for some "quality"  (and "quantity") family time with their loved ones...perhaps there are those who are missing family members due to the war in Afghanistan, or due to estrangement of relationships because of divorce or other kinds of separation.  Others are suffering the recent loss of a mate, a child, or a parent or sibling because of a horrid disease, trauma, or accident.  I know there are some who are sadly watching a child or other family member slowly succumbing to cancer or other illness and they feel frantically helpless and heartbroken as they grieve their impending loss. 

I have been impressed with these thoughts for the past several days...so much so that it almost made me feel guilty for the joyful time we were enjoying together as a family, knowing that others would dearly love to be in my shoes. And yet, I had to remind myself that our precious time together was not something to be taken lightly...we have definitely had our family "issues"...serious illness, separation due to circumstances beyond our control, loss of job(s), personal emotional trauma and disappointments, recent loss of a loved one, financial stresses and strains...and yes, even difficulties in interpersonal relationships within our own family circle.  Our family is not perfect...but I would consider us "normal"...if there is such a thing as a normal family.  In today's society, I am not too sure what could be considered a "normal" family...but I like to think it would be a family who is defined by the fact that they persevere in spite of difficult circumstances...a family who does not give in to the status quo and allow the world's "mores" dictate what they do and who they become. 

There is one reason and only one reason that I can point to that has enabled our family to survive the various trials and tribulations we have endured throughout the past 40+ years of our existence as a family, and that would be the one constant:  our faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ, our Savior.  If it were not for that abiding belief and trust in Our Creator and Sustainer, we could not have survived.  Pure and simple.

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer. 
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed; 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings."
Psalm 61:1-4

"So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows." Psalm 61:8

So if you find yourself feeling envious of other families' good times, first of all...don't do it...because most likely that family has "issues" you do not know about...and you might find out that your family isn't so bad after all.  But if you need a strong tower and a shelter from the storms of life, and a way to help your family stand strong...draw close to God.  He will sustain you and give you the strength and hope you need for yourself and your family in good times and bad.  I have nothing else to say.

Lord, I pray tonight for families everywhere who are hurting and reeling from pain, sorrow, and loss. I lift them up to You, O Lord, and pray that You will hear their cries...and attend to their needs...just like You have done for my family for all these years.  In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

Our Family in a more "sane" moment...maybe...you don't know what
it took to get this picture.  The following is an "out-take" of trying to
put this picture together!

ha ha!!