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!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Don’t Call the Preacher’s Wife for Comfort!

This is an excerpt from my "book" that will probably never be published, so I might as well share it with you here.  I wrote this chapter back in our days of ministry, following our move to a new church that had started off rather badly for us. We had moved from the country to the city...and had a lot of adjustments to make in our methods of ministering to our new flock. This little story is true...and was not a great way for me to make my entrance into this rather tightly knit church community. I wish I could say it was my only embarrassing moment.  However, this was only one of many difficult moments for me in this particular congregation.

Once we got over the initial shock of realizing that we were actually suffering from a type of “culture shock” in this new atmosphere, we began to settle down and enjoy our church and new home.  I tried hard to behave and not put my foot in my mouth anymore or do things that would upset the kind people. (I'll share those stories later)  However it seemed as though things just kept happening…

There was a very dear, sweet older couple in our church that had never had any children and had been married for over fifty years.  Mr. "Conrad" (name changed) had been quite ill with cancer and was failing rapidly.  One afternoon I received a call from his neighbor saying that Mr. "Conrad" was unconscious and on his way to the hospital by ambulance, and could my husband please go to the hospital to meet him.  I told the lady that I would contact him and have him go right away as he was currently visiting someone else in another hospital.  She then asked me if I could speak with Mrs. "Conrad", as she was very distraught.  I said certainly, and she put her on the phone.  I don’t remember just what I said to Mrs. "Conrad"  but I tried to reassure her and prayed with her.  She said thank you and good-bye and hung up. 

I finally reached my husband at the other hospital (this was before cell phones) and told him to please hurry to the other hospital as Mr. "Conrad" was on his way in the ambulance.  A little while later John called me and said, “I thought you said Mr. "Conrad" was on his way to the hospital!”   I said, “Yes, that’s what I was told.”  He said, “Well, they just brought in Mrs. "Conrad" by ambulance, and she’s deader than a door nail!”  I said, “Oh my!  I just spoke with her a few minutes ago on the phone, and she was fine!”  John said, “Well, she’s not fine now!”  I told him that he’d better go check in the emergency room, because Mr. "Conrad" was supposed to be there somewhere, and he would certainly need him now!

The same neighbor lady called me back to find out if the Pastor had reached the hospital yet, and I asked her what happened to Mrs. "Conrad".  She said, “Well, as soon as she hung up the phone from talking to you, she just turned around and dropped dead of a heart attack!”  Oh, dear Lord!  You can  imagine how I felt then!  Not only did I feel badly that Mrs. "Conrad" had just passed away, but especially that she had  passed away right after I spoke with her!  I was racking my brain to try and remember exactly what I had said to her that could have upset her so badly!  But I had to stop and realize that it wasn’t what I’d said that killed her…she was already grieving beyond her ability to live without her husband!  The interesting thing is, Mr. "Conrad" did not die until around 11:00 that night! My first thought was, “Can you imagine how surprised Mr. "Conrad" was when he entered Heaven’s Gates and saw Mrs. "Conrad" already there?”  He probably said, “Ella, how did you get here before me?”  And she might have said, “Oh Henry, I thought something awful must have happened when I got here and you weren’t here yet!”  And with that they embraced each other and were welcomed into the arms of Jesus together to live eternally ever after! 

A few days later my husband performed his very first (and last) double funeral for a dear sweet couple who literally could not live without each other!

The story that went around the church after that was, “Don’t call the preacher’s wife when you need comforting! Whatever she said to poor Mrs. "Conrad" sent her straight to her grave!”  (I think this was mostly said in jest and with love...it may have even endeared me to them just a little...at least I'd like to think that way).

I share this with you for several reasons...

So you will know that your Pastor's wife and Pastor are both very human, and may not always have all the right words to say, but they do try very hard to do what is right.

Two very human humans

  1. Oftentimes things happen in life beyond our ability to control and or understand, even when we have the best of intentions.
  2. If you are a Pastor's wife, or a person in ministry...take heart. Do all things with love for your Lord and your people, and you can't go wrong. There will be times of humbling and times of embarrassment, but when you earnestly seek to do God's will...He will make it turn out okay.
  3. Life is full of surprises...and so is death.  Don't let it catch YOU by surprise. Regardless of your age or health...be ready to go when God calls!
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I've Been Away...

I've been away for a few days...and I forget that my blogging friends may not all know that.  I tend to be an "open book" on my facebook page, but if you aren't there with me, you may be thinking I've dropped off the face of the earth!

Well, not entirely...just flew up the country a little ways from Florida to Maine.  With the difference in temperatures and weather and scenery, it may well have been on another planet!
 I left this:

for this:  

and this:
But the real reason we made such a wild trip was for something so much more important than beautiful scenery.

Family.  Son. Daughter in law. Grandson. Son having a birthday...#4-0!  Son also has cancer. But GOD is able!!! We will not despair. 

Life is precious. Life is also short. No one on this earth is guaranteed any number of days. So we need to celebrate the life we have, while we have the time. We need to thank the Lord for each and every day. And praise Him for every victory...no matter how big or small.

"Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, and
there be none to deliver:

Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;

and to him who orders his conduct aright

I will show the salvation of God."  Psalm 50:22-23

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation!"
Psalm 95:1

"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises....
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King!"
Psalm 98:4 and 6b

Like I said above, "life is precious. life is also short." So, why not celebrate?  Take time to notice the beauty and majesty of God's handiwork in His creation wherever you are...regardless of life's circumstances.
Try it. You might like it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Response to a Weary Mother

One of my precious blogging friends wrote a poignant message the other day regarding her struggles with her teen-aged daughter, whom she has just recently begun to home-school.  You can read more about this on "Beneath the Surface: Breath of Faith: blog:"Look to The East-Message for Weary Mothers".  

After reading this heart rending message, my spirit was moved with compassion and I found myself remembering the years of raising our three sons...a.k.a. "The Preacher's Kids"...which should explain everything (almost).  This is what I wrote to my friend in the comment section of her post:

"Someday I will find the courage to write the true stories of our lives...the real behind the scenes nitty gritty details of what really happened...not what was portrayed in the perfect family portraits. I have three sons. They are all uniquely and wonderfully made...but NONE of them were or are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We fought, we cried, we pleaded with them and with God, we could not believe or understand the whys and wherefores of their imperfections and struggles. But GOD, in His neverending love and mercy, reached down and gave compassion, strength, and comfort in the dark days....and lifted our feet up out of the miry clay and helped us to stand firm on the ROCK, in spite of the angry waves surrounding our souls. HOLD ON TIGHT dear weary mother! God is still on His throne, and He has not forgotten you or your child. He's still working on her and your behalf. There WILL be better and brighter days ahead. Just keep looking UP! NO ONE, NOR ANY FAMILY is perfect, regardless of how they may appear. Love ya girlfriend. You are not alone in your struggles."
 Our sons are all adults now.  Somehow we did survive their teen years and lived to tell about it. I wish I could say that all their struggles (and ours) ceased when they reached the magical age of adulthood. But again, that would not be truthful. Oftentimes the aftermath of childhood and youthful traumas, wrong decisions, health issues, carry over into the years when they should be able to move forward into the "promised land" of maturity, successful careers, marriages, and a life of peace and joy.

We, as their parents, are still limited in what we can do for them. Sure, we can provide advice based on years of experience, but it often is not welcomed nor heeded.  We can try to make life a little easier for them by helping to carry some of their burdens, whether it be due to the bad economy, unemployment, unexpected illness, or even yet, the result of their own bad decisions.  But we can't fix everything. We cannot create perfection in our families now any more than we could when they were our little children safe at home in our nest.

What we CAN do is lift our sons/daughters up to the Throne of Grace...the Father, Creator, Sustainer, the ONE and ONLY ONE WHO is able to keep them from falling.
We, as concerned parents, can continue to ~

"Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass."
(Psalm 37:3-5)

And we  can also claim this promise from this favorite Proverb 22:6 ~ 

"Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is OLD 
He will not depart from it."

I know there are many parents out there who are still waiting for the fulfillment of this promise in their adult children's lives. We know we planted the seeds early on in their childhood...we nurtured them and tried to do what we deemed best for them in every way possible.  We gave them appropriate discipline, taught them the truth from God's Word, went with them to church, dedicated them to the Lord as infants and rejoiced with them when they took the steps of faith in their own salvation and baptism and commitment to Christ.  And yet, somewhere along the way they took a left turn or a detour that led them down the wrong path and caused them to wander in the wilderness of life. We stood by helplessly watching, aghast at the choices they were making, the decisions that drove them further away from the security of home and family, and wondered where we failed them. 

Where did we go wrong? Nine times out of ten we didn't do anything "wrong".  Yes, I know there are parents who made wrong choices and decisions themselves that may have led to their children's confusion and struggles. We may be (and probably are) one of them.  But even so, God's promises are still true. And it is never too late to pray for our children...to recommit them to Christ...even if they refuse to listen or hear of it.  It is never too late for us to do as the Psalmist in Psalm 40:1-3 ~

"I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
and heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
and set my feet upon a rock,
and established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth~
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
and will trust in the Lord."

So, dear weary mother, father, loved one or friend, take heart today. God is still at work in your children's lives, no matter how far they may have strayed...no matter how far YOU may have strayed...God is still God. He is still on the throne. He never gives up on us.  So HOLD ON...Keep looking up! God is not finished with ANY of us yet!!!!

Here is a new song that is applicable to us parents AND to our kids...great message for today...listen and believe it.
"You Can Change Who You Are" by Unspoken

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Angels' Hands Bearing Me Up?

Foreword:  I am not normally a fearful person. But if I have one "fear", it is fear of falling...especially ever since I had major back surgery about six years ago and have 4 screws holding my spine in place...perhaps that is why this little incident this past week has made such an impact on me. Read on...

"For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone."  Psalm 91:11-12

I experienced this first hand this past week...well, almost!  The angels weren't quite quick enough to keep me from "dashing my foot against a stone", that is, the crack in the concrete sidewalk at my place of employment...which happens to be a church...No, they were a little late on keeping me from stubbing my big toe against the pavement. Perhaps they had more lofty assignments at that particular moment...I know there have to be more important issues going on around me than my particular act of clumsiness.  And it is quite a flight down from the top of the church "Spire" (where the angels probably stand all day long watching for the wayward and the clumsy)  to the place where I was taking my false step...BUT, I have to say that, although my guardian angel may have been a bit slow on the "bearing me up" part to keep me from dashing my foot against the stone (pavement), he or she got there just in time to keep me from smashing my body all to pieces as I "gracefully" (according to one eye-witness) plummeted my body face first, splat!, right onto the very hard surface of that ancient walkway. 

After I collected my senses, (once I was pronounced able to go ahead and sit up by our Associate Pastor, who also happens to be a registered nurse, but only after he made sure all the toes and fingers and other appendages were able to wiggle and had complete feeling) I shakily regained my composure and began to assess my situation.  There did not not appear to be anything broken.  My right cheekbone and my right hand were somewhat bruised and scratched.  My knees had minor scrapes, and my right shoulder had a small abrasion and bruise...and that was basically the extent of my injuries.  As the shock of my embarrassment and humiliation wore off, I realized something very wonderful.

"For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash  your foot against a stone..."  Psalm 91:11-12   

 God's angels were dispatched immediately to bear me up...They may not have kept me from tripping...but I know there had to be an angel sandwiched between me and that pavement!.  

My apologies to that heavenly being...I know...I need to go on a diet! I also need to learn to pick up my feet! I'm so sorry that you were most likely squished flatter than a pancake! But you were there! You cushioned my fall! You covered my face with your wings...you lifted me up so that I was not broken.  You protected my fragile spine that already has 4 screws in it from a previous major surgery...so that no new injury came to my body.  

My glasses, although they flew off and across the concrete...do not have a scratch on them!  The rings on my right hand, even though they did cause me to have a couple of small lacerations (miniscule) on my fingers, the rings were not even damaged...something I find quite remarkable and precious...one set of rings was my dear mother's wedding rings that I have worn since both my parents left this earth for heaven, and the other was a sweet gift from my husband...a gift that I treasure.

Do I believe in guardian angels? Believe me, this is not the first time God has dispatched His heavenly messengers to intercede on my behalf! I could name numerous times that I have been rescued from danger, protected from harm...and those are just the times I know about!  I can only imagine how many times I could have been in serious danger and I was not even aware of it.  I believe God has sent angels to bring messages of hope and encouragement during times of distress and uncertainty.  He has probably sent us "angels unaware"...strangers that we have "unwittingly entertained" in our own home (see Hebrews 13:2)...
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels..."
Yes, I do believe in angels...you only have to read the many references in the Bible about angels to know that they exist.  

That is why I have not ceased to praise the Lord ever since I recovered from this little mishap this past week. This was such a minor accident...and yet it could have been so much worse. Only God, in His mercy, could have kept me from being seriously injured. I mean, I am not a young person anymore. My body is fragile and my bones are getting brittle.  And yet, I have had more energy and strength in the past couple of days since this incident than I remember having in a very long time. I have felt infused with a new sense of "God is with me"...aka, "THE PRESENCE OF GOD"..."EMMANUEL".   

Don't get me wrong... I have been stiff and sore...I have a few bumps and bruises...but I have so much joy because I know I was spared from something so much worse.  

How about you?  Do you/have you ever recognized the supernatural work of God in your life?  Can you think of a time that He may have dispatched angels on your behalf..."to bear you up...lest you dash your foot against a stone?"  What about those "angels unaware"...strangers God may have sent to you either for you to minister to, or so that they could minister to you? Have you thought about that? It may cause you to look at the stranger sent to your home or place of work a little differently from now on.

Makes us stop and think, doesn't it? Just remember...the angels are God's ambassadors. They are not to be worshipped themselves...but they should cause us to pause and take a moment to give praise to the One from Whom they were sent. That's why I am writing this today.  I just want to say, Thank you, dear Lord! Amen!
This little dove sat outside my window today. He reminds me of the song
"He sent down His love...on the wings of a dove."
May not be an angel...but it reminds of me of God's never ending love.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

While the Super Bowl is on....Something to Give Peace

I know no one will read this blog. I am writing it while the Super Bowl is playing. Everyone is watching the Super Bowl -- or at least the commercials. I just saw a couple of crazy ones.  The GoDaddy commercial was pretty gross. The Doritos ad was funny, if you like goats. Don't worry, I'm not going to comment on all of them. I'm really not into watching all this stuff.  The Coke ad wasn't too bad...better than the Pepsi ad. Ok, I'll stop. Oh, I loved the Doritos "fashionista dad" commercial...

Meanwhile, I just saw something on facebook that I really really liked.  Thought I would share it with you here:

It says, in case you can't read all of it:

"Pause, friend, and read before you enter here.

This vine-clad wall encloses holy ground.
Herein a mellowed garden dreams away the years,
Steeped in serene sweet light and muted sound.
Herein tranquility and peace abide,
For God walks here at cool of evening-tide.
Pause, friend, and strip from out your heart
All vanity, all bitterness, all hate;
Quench, for this hour, the fever of your fears,
Then, treading softly, pass within this gate,
There, where the ancient trees wait, hushed and dim,
May you find God, and walk awhile with Him."

Pearl Hiatt, Brookgreen Gardens, SC

What is it about this that has caught my eye? What touched my heart so?
This is just the kind of garden I would love to have right here in my yard. 
I love the line that says, 
"Herein tranquility and peace abide, For God walks here at cool of      even-tide."
Ahhh, to have God walk here at even-tide...yes, dear friend, come, "quench, for this hour, the fever of your fears..."

This is exactly what I've been trying to say in so many ways...I want our home and surrounding grounds, woods, forest...all to be just this kind of place...a place where 

"tranquility and peace abide..." "There, where the ancient trees wait, hushed and dim, May you find God, and walk awhile with Him."

"Pause, friend, and strip from out your heart

All vanity, all bitterness, all hate;"

Yes, I know I've been on this subject for awhile now.  Perhaps because I need it so much...and I have a feeling that YOU do too. This world tends to grate on our nerves, creating so much tension and stress.  We need this peaceful garden to rest awhile from the cares of this life.  We need to steal away from the noise and rush of the life outside the garden gate, and enter into the cool shade of His rest.

This reminds me of a precious old hymn...I'm sure you will recognize it. Sing along with me:

"I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear,
Falling on my ear, 
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
and He tells me I am His own,
And the Joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

"He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing;
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.


I'd stay in the garden with Him
Tho' the night around me be falling;
But He bids me go,
thro' the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.

And He walks with me,
and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known."

"In the Garden" by C. Austin Miles, 1868-1946

I hope this has been a refreshing pause in the midst of the chaos and turmoil of your day...I know it has calmed my spirit and quieted my heart. I am at peace.

(Regardless of who wins the Superbowl)

Thank you for joining me in the garden tonight ~ at "even-tide". Won't you come again?
I felt God's PRESENCE here, how about you?

Other recent posts you might enjoy during your walk through the garden tonight:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Random Journal Day: Yearning for a Home...

The first Friday of each month is also known as "Random Journal Day" for those of us who dare to share our  private journal messages from the past with our friends...The day we select a journal off the shelf (or out of the drawer...this time from the drawer of my vanity...)...and open the book and let you have a glimpse at a day from the past...
One of my "fancier" journals...

So here goes...this comes from October 12, 1991!  Written from our days in the ministry, far away from our family home...and longing for that home... Here's what I was thinking on that day so long ago...

"It's difficult to be so far away from loved ones and feel so helpless.  I would love to be able to have more frequent visits together while there is yet time.  And yet I'm reminded in God's Word that:
"No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive manytimes as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." Luke 18:29-30
I suppose that means that because we have left our homeland behind to follow God's will we will receive greater blessings than our earthly home -  in heaven - and it also says in THIS AGE as well!

I do know that God has supplied all our need in Christ, and that our physical needs have been adequately taken care of.  Even though, there is this constant yearning in my soul to have a "real home" - a place in which to feel truly at peace and joy~a home that is a haven from the stresses and strains of this world.  A place where I can rest at the end of a fruitful day knowing that there is a great sense of comfort and protection in that house.

Perhaps God wants me to feel that peace no matter where I am~just by resting in Him.  And in my soul, I do have that peace.  I know my eternal home is safe and secure~my faith in Christ has purchased that home for me. But I believe God wants us to feel that peace here on earth too.  There again~I know many of God's servants never have a "real home" here on earth.  They are many times forced to live in "tents" or small huts or cottages in foreign lands. Yet they do so willingly~they choose to serve the God Who has chosen them to be His servants.

So what am I trying to say?

I guess the older I get, the more I long to have a place to put down some roots and grow awhile....

I'm ready to stay put and work in the harvest field of wherever that home may be located for many years to come.  I'm tired of moving so often and not having any "real friends".  It seems as though as soon as we'd begin to make friends and find a place of genuine service, it would be time to move on to new pastures.
It would be nice if the next move we make could be the LAST for many years~but I don't ever want to stand in the way of God's will for us and block the path by selfishness and stubbornness.  Nor do I wish to attempt to dictate to God what He should do with regard to our future.

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guiedes me in paths of righteousness
for His Name's sake"
Psalm 23:1-3

Perhaps this is what I'm longing for right now, Lord~to lie down in green pastures~beside still waters~and have my soul restored! "


That was written 22 years ago!  We've come a looonnnng way since that day...in miles as well as life events.
We did eventually work our way back "home"....and we were able to once again live near our loved ones, helping them in their latter days on earth, and serving the Lord at the same time.

Now it seems that we have finally reached that place where we hope to stay for many years...and it is our prayer that God will continue to work in our present home to make it a haven from the stresses and strains of this world...a 'real home'-a place in which to feel truly at peace and joy.'   Not just for us, Lord, but for anyone who crosses our threshold...a place of comfort and protection from fear and alarm...a sanctuary for the weary and worn. A place where others will feel Your PRESENCE. This is my prayer, Lord.  I believe You are already providing the answer to my prayer from so many years ago. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen!

I hope you have enjoyed this journey back in time and place. Come again next month for another "Random Journal Day".  No telling WHERE our journey will take us!   Feel free to click on this link to read other journal entries from some of my other blogging friends at the Random Journal Day linkup.  You are welcome to join us anytime! We'd love to hear YOUR stories!