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, December 31, 2013

Some "Strengthening" Exercises for the New Year

"The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, 
and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; 

It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, 
Even with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

The excellence of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
The excellency of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who are fearful-hearted,
'Be strong, do not fear!

Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you.'"
Isaiah 35:1-4

"Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down,
and the feeble knees,
and make straight paths for your feet,

so that what is lame may not be dislocated,
but rather be healed.

Pursue peace with all people,
and holiness, 

without which no one will see the Lord:
looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble,
and by this many become defiled."
Hebrews 12:12-15

A few random thoughts for the New Year...gathered from the greatest "strengthener" ever...
God's Word.
Stay tuned for more "strengthening" exercises.

My One Word for 2014:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My New One Word for 2014: "Strengthen"

Twice today God has spoken to me about being strengthened.  Yes, God does speak to me...audibly? Well, maybe not in the way you would think of audibly...but I did hear His voice speaking to me in my heart...and I knew it was from God.

Here are the words spoken to me today:

First, this verse, spoken to me from a little card with this verse written on it sitting upon my kitchen windowsill:

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee."  Isaiah 41:10

Second:  these verses, spoken to me from the pulpit in church this morning through the voice of the minister, who, on this particular day, happened to be my husband:

"And he said, 'O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong'"  Daniel 10:19a

As I read the first verse while washing up the breakfast dishes I was struck by the message so clearly spoken to me that I had to come and share it on my Facebook page.  I was certain that it was a message not only for me, but for someone else today...someone facing some difficult decisions, situations, or perhaps serious health issues in the coming days...maybe even today.  I know that I took this message personally and for my family as we head into the New Year, knowing that my son is facing an uncertain future regarding his cancer treatment plan. (Read this previous post for more information on this).

Then again, I just learned from another dear friend whom I had not seen or heard from in several years...that he has recently been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and is now undergoing chemo hoping to stem the tide of this horrid disease.  And yet another friend who is possibly in the very last stages of liver cancer...actually I know of another one battling the same thing as well...  (I HATE cancer!)

There are others facing a big move to another state in the New Year...a major move in that they have not moved in many many years, so it will be a major adjustment...but hopefully a positive one for them as they will be moving closer to their family.  And today I just heard of a dear woman who is going to be moved to a nursing home within the next week as she is no longer able to care for herself and her family feels it will be in her best interest to be cared for in a nursing facility.

Others of you may be facing a job change, retirement...yes, I have a dear friend who has just retired so she can care for her husband (see above) who is in the final stages of liver cancer.  I know of another who would dearly love to retire this year if finances would permit him to...(I know of someone even closer to home (me?) who would love to do the same thing...but probably won't be able to for at least another year).

In the past couple of years I have chosen a "One Word" for the year to be the emphasis of my prayer life, writing, and reading for the year.  The first year the word was "Hope", and I was blessed by the hope fulfilled in my life throughout the year. (One Word for 2012 - Hope). Then in 2013 my "One Word" was "Presence"
One Word for 2013: Presence, and I was amazed by the "Presence" of God manifested to me throughout the year in so many places and ways.  

The last few days I have been pondering what my "One Word" for 2014 should be, and I really didn't have a clue...until this morning. Suddenly, there it was, on my windowsill (my "Open Window"?)... "I will strengthen thee..."...and then later this morning in the sermon: "Be Strong!".  If you complete that particular verse (Daniel 10:19) the next part says:

"So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me."

To "strengthen" is to "be strong"... I think Someone is telling me something important here, and I am listening. I re-read the first part of the Isaiah verse: 
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; and immediately I have a tendency to fear, because when God tells me not to be afraid, it probably means that something is about to happen that I most likely won't like...but immediately He calms my fears and says:

"for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee."  

Because my past experience with God has taught me that His Word is true, and He means what He says, I can rely on Him to do exactly what He says He will do, regardless of the circumstances or difficult issues that lie ahead. I do not need to fear or be dismayed, because He has promised to help me and to strengthen me...no matter what.

I hope that you have this same confidence in God.  If not, please place your trust in Him today. His promises are for you as well.  Wouldn't you love to start the New Year knowing that no matter what befalls you, you will be helped and strengthened by God Almighty?  

 "Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Christmas Tree: From a Manger to a Cross

This is not an original writing from me.  Someone shared this little poem with us yesterday, and I wanted to pass it on in the spirit of Christmas:

The Christmas Tree

"From a tree a manger was made,
The First Christmas, in it He laid.

From a tree a Cross was made,
On it, for our sins, the price He paid.
Each year as my tree I adorn,
I give thanks for the day He was born.
Gently I place ornaments of gold,

Knowing my life is His to hold.
Trusting Him to take care of me,
I praise Him as I decorate my tree.

"I Am the Way, the Truth and the Light," said He.
That's why I put lights on my Christmas tree."

(Author unknown)

May the Light of Christ be your reason for the season!

Friday, December 20, 2013

O Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I'm not sure what to name this post. Not even sure what it is going to be about at this point. I am trying to sort through a deluge of emotions that are crowding in and attempting to overwhelm my spirit.  It's Christmas, and we all want it to be merry and bright...full of good cheer and tidings of great joy.

Certainly, that is the message of Christmas..."O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of
comfort and joy."  As I wrote those last words I started singing the Christmas Carol, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"...and I tried to find it in one of the many different hymnals I have in my personal library, and could not believe that it was not included in any of them! I wonder why, and if so, how did we come to know it so well?  Thanks to Google, I have included it at the end of this post.

The reason I am writing tonight is because I don't feel so full of good cheer and great joy. We received some disturbing, unsettling, difficult news today.  Our wonderful son who has been battling cancer for almost four years learned today that the grueling chemotherapy treatments he has been enduring (seems like forever) are no longer effective. The cancer is spreading and crowding his vital organs. Surgery is not an option for him. Unless they can come up with some kind of miracle cure/treatment very soon, or unless God intervenes on his behalf with a miracle...his prognosis is not looking very good.

This is not the kind of news any parent wants to hear any time, let alone just before Christmas. What complicates matters is that we live about 1500 miles away from our son and his family, and we can't very easily drop everything and go as much as we want to do just that. Nor can he very easily come to us.

So we have spent our afternoon since receiving this news basically in shock and trying to sort through the muck and mire of the thoughts crowding into our minds and hearts and trying to figure out the best course of action at this time.

Right now we have to get through Christmas. We have family and work obligations here. There are multitudes of issues to deal with...financial, time, place, what-if's, what should we do, when should we go.

Then this little Christmas song goes through my head...

"God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy."

And I say to myself, "I don't feel much like a "merry" gentleman (woman) today...but I hear the words..."Let nothing you dismay..."  Okay, Lord, I'm trying here...."Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day..."   Yes, Lord, I do remember...."To save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray."   Ah, yes...that is what Christmas is really all about...Christ came to save us from Satan's power...even his seeming power over our lives in sickness and death... Satan has NO DOMINION over us! Satan does NOT hold the keys to life and death or sickness and health.  Only GOD has that power!  God alone ordains the number of days of our lives here on earth.  Jesus Christ came to save us from eternal separation from God! 

"O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy!"

Look at these next verses of the old English version of this little carol:

In Bethlehem, in Israel, this blessèd Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this blessèd morn;
The which His mother Mary did nothing take in scorn.

From God our heavenly Father a blessèd angel came;
And unto certain shepherds brought tidings of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name.

“Fear not, then,” said the angel, “Let nothing you afright,

This day is born a Savior of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him from Satan’s power and might.”

"O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy!"

The shepherds at those tidings rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding in tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethl’em straightaway this blessèd Babe to find.

But when to Bethlehem they came where our dear Savior lay,
They found Him in a manger where oxen feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling unto the Lord did pray.

Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface.

God bless the ruler of this house, and send him long to reign,
And many a merry Christmas may live to see again;
Among your friends and kindred that live both far and near—

That God send you a happy new year, happy new year,
And God send you a happy new year."

"O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy!"
(Words & Music:  Traditional English)

After singing through this little Christmas song, my heart is lighter.  I have comfort and joy in my soul again. I don't know what the future holds, but I know WHO holds our future...and I know our God and Father in Heaven will do what is right in all things.  He has sent comfort to us tonight...He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us all from Satan's power...and to remind us that we belong to HIM, not to Satan.  Therefore we need not fear.

Yes, these are tidings of comfort and joy! 
Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Have You Not Known? Have You Not Heard? Updated/Reposted

Reposted from December 12, 2011.   Note: This little ride out in the country eventually led to our moving to that very location that we discovered that day on that little ride out in the country, (actually the FOREST).  So, one never knows exactly what seeds God may be planting when He directs you to take a little ride and rest for a spell!  Always keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to His prompting! You may be pleasantly surprised at what He will reveal!
"Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The EVERLASTING GOD, the LORD, The CREATOR of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the weak, and those who have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,  But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31

Eagle in Flight...photos taken by my sister Doris E. Hutchinson,  near our Dad's property last year (2010)
I saw an eagle soaring above the treetops today...out of the clear blue (actually the skies were a bit grey and cloudy). He just lifted up his mighty wings and flew above the noise and clatter below.  He reminded me of this verse...a reminder that I needed today.  I was not feeling particularly strong...actually I am tired and weary and feeling a mite weak.  Maybe a bug...or perhaps just exhaustion...either way...I needed a day of rest...so I took it.  Yep, I called in sick today...and legitimately so.  We took a little ride out into the country just to get away and talk and think and allow ourselves to dream a little.  Sometimes that is better than staying in bed or sitting in my recliner in front of the TV all day sipping hot tea and eating soup.  Especially when I saw the choices on daytime TV...I thought to myself, "I'd rather be at work than sitting here watching this junk."  So I was glad when my hubby suggested we take a little ride.

Anyway, it was therapeutic to get away from the must do list and the mind that won't let me rest because of the constant reminders of all the things I should be doing, both at work and at home in this, the busiest time of the year.  I don't believe that Christmas was intended to be a time of exhaustion and stress. It should be the happiest and most joyful time of all.  Christmas...the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ...should give us reason to sing and shout hallelujah and break out into a dance of pure joy.  It should cause us to "soar with the eagles"   in our hearts and minds and spirits. 

Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth...thank you for giving me the strength I need to carry on during this busy time. Thank you for helping me to run and not be weary...and to walk and not faint.  I am placing my trust in YOU, Oh Lord, and claiming this promise by faith today. Oh, and I promise to try harder to wait on YOU for the answers to my questions and the power I need to move ahead.  In the precious name of Jesus, the baby in the manger Who grew up to be a man and sacrifice His life for all mankind...Amen.

How about you?  Do you need to soar with the eagles today?  Why not let go of whatever is holding you down in spirit, and let God lift you up, up and away!  You will be able to return to earth feeling rested and renewed in strength and ready for whatever lies ahead.  Try it...He will not fail you.  He promised.
(Credit due to my sister Doris for her photographic skill in capturing
these pictures!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

"I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" - Revisited

This is an excerpt from my writings about our early years in the ministry...when we had moved all the way to Ohio from Florida so my husband could attend seminary...and we were a very long way from home for Christmas....and a bit homesick (at least I was...don't think the rest of the family even noticed!)

“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas…”

Psalm 145: 15-16  “The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season.  You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Our first Christmas so far away from home was on its way.  Although we were happy in our home and our work, and John was doing well in Seminary, we missed being near our family for the holidays.  We had managed to get through Thanksgiving by being with other families in our church.  But Christmas was different…everyone had their own extended families to be with and we really didn't want to intrude on that.  We had met another Pastor and family at a conference who also were far away from their own relatives. So we invited them to come have Christmas dinner with us.  They accepted the invitation very graciously. 

Christmas morning arrived cold and gray.  The forecast did not call for snow, but possibly just rain and dreariness!  I was a bit disappointed because I had really been looking forward to having a white Christmas.  But we put on the Christmas music, opened our gifts, and I started getting ready for our company to arrive before noon for dinner.  Around 11:00 a.m. the phone rang, and it was our guests calling to tell us that their children had awakened with the flu, and they would not be able to travel to our home after all! Talk about disappointed!  Of course I understood their situation and certainly did not want them to travel to our house when they were sick, but now what were we going to do?  I just couldn’t imagine having Christmas Dinner alone!  I was having myself quite a pity party as I started slamming pots and pans around in the kitchen and putting back the good china and pretty dishes I had planned to use to serve our guests.  

John and the boys were perfectly happy, perhaps even relieved! 

John and the boys in their jammies, enjoying Christmas
morning...showing off their new headgear and toy guns.

They really did not want to have to clean up the living room and put away their new toys to make room for strangers!  I realized that I was the only one who wanted to have company anyway!

As the hot tears stole down my cheeks, I stood staring out the bay window in our dining room, feeling very sorry for myself.  Suddenly I noticed something different outside our window…something white and light and fluffy descending out of the sky!  It was snowing!  The snow came down haltingly at first, and then in a great flurry of excitement it started accumulating on the windowsill and the ground!  It was beautiful and clean and bright, and my whole countenance lit up as I began to sing and dance and clap my hands in pure joy at this delightful turn of events! We were having a white Christmas after all! I danced back into the kitchen and started getting the good china and silverware back out of the cupboard, and setting the table with the prettiest things I could find!  I realized that my own precious family was the most special and deserved to have the best Christmas ever!  I started singing Christmas Carols and soon the whole family joined in.  As we gathered around the table that Christmas Day we celebrated with the true Spirit of Christmas in our hearts!

Christmas Dinner...boys still in jammies, but
we have the candles lit, and the good china set out!

John  and boys waiting to start eating!
"Could we dispense with the pictures already?"
John seems to be saying...

And after dinner was over...there I am, out enjoying the beautiful snow!

“Joy to the World! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King;
            Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing,
            And heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing!”

So...all's well that ends well...we had a perfect
Christmas after all...and it was a WHITE CHRISTMAS to boot! 

And I learned a valuable lesson...spending time with my own dear family and making happy memories together...regardless of where we are or whatever disappointments may come our way...those are the moments that define and bind us with cords of love that are not easily broken when the real difficult times come along. I'm glad I learned that early on.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Love and Forgiveness in Sports"...by Guest Blogger Jeanne Hess

This is a new venture for me...having a guest blogger joining us here at "Closed Doors, Open Windows".    I do hope you will make her feel welcome!

Our guest today is Jeanne Hess,  
a native of Detroit, Michigan, and who was a varsity athlete at the University of Michigan in the 1970s. She has been a volleyball coach, professor of physical education, and college chaplain at Kalamazoo College for nearly 30 years, and is the wife of a coach and the mother of two professional athletes. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her husband, Jim, whom she met in a gym. You can read more about Jeanne on her blog: Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games .  Please give a round of applause for our guest Jeanne Hess!

Love and Forgiveness in Sports … in Florida
By Jeanne Hess

Like a lot of people born and raised in Michigan, I have a positive relationship with Florida. Even as a child in the 60’s I remember my grandparents returning from their annual Florida sojurn with gifts of shells and orange perfume. I think I smelled like oranges for most of my formative years. Maybe it’s what kept me coming back to the Sunshine State. From spring break trips to family vacations, to spring trips with the Kalamazoo College softball team, Florida kept calling. When my sons were drafted by the Detroit Tigers and made Lakeland a second home, we began to know Florida as more than just a vacation spot. And now a dear friend has relocated to St. Petersburg, and we’re making plans to visit and bring in the New Year. Next to Michigan, Florida is probably the state where we’ve spent the most time … it has become our second home.

Lakeland was the setting for a story in my book Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games, where I describe the word “community” with thoughts about spring training. Literally, the word means “to have charge of together” so during the years when our sons played, we experienced the commitment of the Lakeland community to our Detroit Tigers, and therefore unity through sport.

However, while I have enjoyed a peek at the sun this weekend, my most recent time in Florida has been spent indoors at a seminar co-hosted by The University of Central Florida’s DeVos Sport Business Management Program, the Institute for International Sport, and The Fetzer Institute from my hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan.  This was an intentional community of sport lovers, students, teachers, motivators, and leaders, gathered at a Symposium on Love and Forgiveness in Sport. Now, before you go all “there IS no love and forgiveness in sport” on me, please know that everyone left this hotel with a greater understanding of the power of sport to grow, shape and change cultural norms and outcomes.

From the Red Bandanna Project with Allison Crowther, the mother of Welles Crowther, a 9/11 hero in the last hour of his life, to Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s Foundation providing young women the tools to succeed, to a video presentation by the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace & Society on Coach Pat Summit’s legacy program for Iraqi girls, this 3 day-long symposium featured 12 presentations and breakout sessions where everyone engaged on the level of love and forgiveness. It is one thing to sit among adult colleagues or in religious circles to engage these ideas. But to bring them into the academic arena and to see graduate students in sport management critically discussing what are traditionally spiritual values gives me hope for the fate of our games, toward certain joy in the outcomes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A "Jesus Calling" Experience...

Today started out with an unusual experience.  My usual routine when I first get to work in the morning after my forty five minute ride through the forest and the city is to head straight to the ladies' room before I do anything else. (enough said!)  To reach the restroom in the church office where I work I must walk through the very well equipped library. This often leads to detours either going or coming, as I peruse whatever new or different books are facing me on the shelves, vying for my attention. Lately I've noticed a little book tucked neatly on the shelf just beside the restroom door and each time I pass it I think to myself, "I need to check out that little book...it seems to be calling me..."   The name of the book is, you guessed it, Jesus Calling,  by Sarah Young.
 I've heard a lot about this little devotional book, and have noticed that several of my Facebook friends often quote it in their posts for the day.  So I've been meaning to check it out for some time now, and always on my way in to the restroom I think of it as I see it there...but on the way out from the restroom I have always forgotten about it by the time I walk back through the library to my office to start my day.  Chalk it up to short term memory...or perhaps overloaded mind getting ready to face the work on my desk.

Today started out just that way. Except this time I made a point of telling myself (on the way into the restroom) to be sure and pick it up on the way out...and guess what I did?  I walked right past is again! I really did! I know, I can't believe that I did that myself!  Well, Jesus apparently wasn't going to take my ignoring Him that easily today.  As I started up my computer and opened up my work emails the very first email I looked at was from a dear lady who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has just had surgery and is getting ready to undergo radiation treatments.  She is having to give up teaching her line dance classes that she holds at our church each week, and has been in a lot of personal turmoil throughout this whole process.  I have been communicating back and forth with her and assuring her of my thoughts and prayers as she endures this ordeal and basically trying to encourage her as best I can.  In her response to me this morning she asked me if I had a copy of the devotional book...you guessed it again...Jesus Calling by Sarah Young?  I was flabberghasted at her question and suddenly remembered that I had forgotten again to pick up that little book this morning as it "called out to me" from the bookshelf in the library!  I told her that I was just this morning planning to check that out from our church library and I thanked her for reminding me!  I said that I was going to march right back in there immediately and check it out before something else came along to distract me!  And so I did.

When I came back to my desk and looked at her next email response, she said, "You really need to have your own copy, and I am going to bring you one the next time I come back to the church."  I thanked her and was so blessed by her thoughtfulness for me when she is the one going through the trial right now...it truly amazed me.

Well, I had to wait until I came home tonight to start reading this little book that I checked out...and as I started to look it over more closely, I noticed the subtitle on the front cover under the title of "Jesus Calling"..."Enjoying Peace in His Presence."  Remember I was just talking about my  One Word for 2013: Presence (click on title for post)...and  again here: "Fill My Cup Lord", plus several in other places throughout the past year as I practiced “presence”
Seeking god’s
In the ordinary
Places of my life
In 2013

As I started reading the introduction I further discovered that Sarah Young's "life changing verse has been "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).  (see page XIII, Introduction Jesus Calling).  Wasn't I just telling you all about that verse last week? (Click Here for THAT Post) .  The more I read into this little book, the more I knew that Jesus truly was calling me to come and seek His Presence within these pages.

And so here I am...sitting in my recliner, reading several different pages throughout the year, particularly some special dates, not wanting to read the whole book since I will soon have my own personal copy to treasure...and yet, I find that Jesus is calling to me from within these pages...I believe He is summoning me into His Presence yet again...and I am in awe.

Is Jesus calling YOU into His Presence today?  You don't have to read a special devotional book to enter into His Presence, but it helps.  I find that I am in His Presence in so many places every day...I only have to be aware of His calling me...and listening for His voice. Today was a pretty clear indication that He wanted my attention...what do YOU think?

The reading for today says:

"Leave outcomes up to Me. Follow Me wherever I lead, without worrying about how it will all turn out. Think of your life as an adventure, with Me (God) as your Guide and Companion. Live in the now, concentrating on staying in step with Me. When our path leads to a cliff, be willing to climb it with My help. When we come to a resting place, take time to be refreshed in My Presence. Enjoy the rhythm of life lived close to Me. You already know the ultimate destination of your journey: your entrance into heaven. So keep your focus on the path just before you, leaving outcomes up to Me." 
 Scripture readings: Psalm 27:13-14; Exodus 15:13 ~  Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, page 338

Pretty good stuff, huh?  Yeah...I'm glad I finally listened to "Jesus Calling"...

UPDATE: For the sequel to this little story, go to : "Opening Another Advent Window".  Be blessed, my friends!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Something a Little "Light-er"

This is the view from my dining room table looking out the kitchen windows when the light is on in the dining room, reflected in the window...

Ok, so the past couple of posts have been rather heavy...talking about death and dreams and identities. If you missed them, you can go back and read them later.  Tonight I wanted to say something a little on the "Light" side...so I've posted a picture of my dining room light as reflected in my kitchen windows.  I always notice this reflection from my place at the dinner table, and I love how the light looks like it is actually hanging outside in the trees! I've often thought of taking a picture of this view, but usually I get so bogged down in eating and cleaning up that I forget to stop and capture the light before it disappears.

I think that is true about human nature.  We tend to get so bogged down in our daily chores, responsibilities, worries, and activities that we forget to take time to enjoy the beauty around us...the way the sunlight filters through the spider webs so intricately woven and ready to surprise the unwary bug as he passes through..

the way the birds are busily flitting around from tree to tree,
gathering in the seeds and insects to feed their families for their evening meal...

or perhaps the hawk that is perched and watching for his meal to slow down just long enough to be grasped in the his talons.

We get too distracted with so many important issues that we forget the simple joy of stopping to smell the roses that are poised and waiting for us to be blessed by their sweet fragrance...

We walk so fast with our head in the air that we don't even notice the tracks and prints of others who have already passed our way....
We may not even realize that danger could be lurking just around the corner because we just aren't paying attention...  I mean...bears could be walking right across your front lawn and you are totally oblivious because you're too caught up in the stuff that could probably be set aside for a little while!

There might even be a rare or rarely seen bird sitting right above you, but you are too caught up in your plans, your computer, your book, your own little world to even look up.
An almost extinct Scrub Jay, rarely seen in our woods anymore

I know I often even forget to just stop and "GIVE THANKS" for all God's bountiful benefits
that He has so richly bestowed upon me. All this beauty surrounding us,
my family, my friends, my job, my home, my church, my health, 
my country, my freedom, 
So many things that I tend to take for granted.

As I am sitting here safe and dry and comfortable in my home, I am at this very moment listening to the 
news that is reporting the horrific outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes that have 
just swept across our country's midwest and central region. 
Suddenly my "Light-er" emphasis is feeling a bit too lacking in depth and sincerity.
Others are suffering while I am feeling blessed.
I can't explain that, and I don't know how to compensate for this.
It makes me realize just how quickly all of these blessings could be taken away...
and it causes me to stop and pray...and be all the more thankful for what I do have, and
pray that those who are hurting and suffering tonight will be comforted and cared for.

In Matthew chapter 5, verses 3-4, Jesus went up on a mountain and taught this to His disciples:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted."

A little later He said,

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden...." 
"Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."   (Matthew 5:14 -16)

I can't do anything significant about the tragedies in the world, but I can try to let my light shine where I am to bring light into the darkness.
I pray that God will help me to be a light - bearer in all that I do.
Then I will be doing my part...
and I can trust God to take care of the rest.

"This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel, NO!
I'm gonna let it shine!
Hide it under a bushel, NO!
I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Let it shine 'til Jesus comes,
I'm gonna let it shine!
Let it shine 'til Jesus comes,
I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Won't let Satan put it out,
I'm gonna let it shine!
Won't let Satan put it out,
I'm gonna let it shine,
let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine!
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine!
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!"

Lord, help me to be a light for YOU.
In Jesus' Name I pray,

How about you?  Is your light shining brightly? Let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine!!

Some other "Light" posts you might enjoy : The Light Has Come  , Let There Be LightThe View From My Open Window at 4:30 AM