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, June 28, 2013

Casting Stones

So, who hasn't heard the sad saga of Paula Deen this past week in the news?  If you haven't, you've probably had your head stuck in the sand somewhere on an island. Lucky you.  I purposely have not made any comments or statements regarding my feelings about this issue this past week for a couple of reasons:

  1. I have never watched the Paula Deen program on TV, nor have I purchased any of her cookbooks, cookware, or anything else connected to Paula Deen.  Why? I'm not at home to watch much TV, and I'm not really into "cooking" that much anymore.  So I don't have any opinion regarding her program, cooking, or other endorsements.
  2. Out of respect to my friends and acquaintances who are black, I did not want to appear to be defending Paula Deen's use of the "n" word and possibly be misunderstood.
However, that being said, I do have something to say.  I've been letting this story seep into my thoughts and feelings this week, and I have decided that I do have some thoughts worth sharing with you concerning this.

What triggered my musing a little more was when I noticed the title for the sermon on the bulletin for this Sunday at the church where I work: "What Would Jesus Say to Paula Deen?"  I do not attend this church on Sunday, therefore I will not get to hear the sermon being delivered by our Pastor, and I have not read his transcript, so I do not know what he is planning to say.  I was frankly a bit surprised that this would be the topic of his sermon for this week, but the more I thought about it, I began to feel a bit of a sermon rising up in my heart and soul as well.  As I said, I don't know what he has chosen as his scripture text or what the main points of the sermon will be, but here's what I believe God would want ME to say on this subject:

"So when they continued asking Him, He (Jesus) lifted up Himself, and said unto them
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7, KJV)

Yes, I know this story is about the woman who was caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11), but I believe the message still fits the current situation.  

I also grew up in the south, although I was transplanted here at the age of 6  (back in the late 1950's) from the farm country of Pennsylvania.  Prior to my arriving in the south with my family, I don't know if I had ever even seen a black person, let alone I would never have known any negative things about their race or have any trace of prejudice against them. Once our family settled into our new community in this southern part of the nation, we realized we were living in a very different culture and society from whence we had come.  My first hint of being in a different world was when my little friends in my first grade class started calling me a "Yankee"!  I had no clue what that meant, and did not understand why that was considered a bad thing, but the way they said it made me think it must be something awful...even more awful than being called "carrot top" for my red hair, and being told that they'd "rather be dead than red on the head!" I quickly learned to come up with my own taunts to defend myself, but that's another story.

The next clue in learning that life was very different in the south than in the north was that in the County Courthouse, where my mother worked, there were two water fountains...one which had a sign over it that said, "White", and another that had a sign that said, "Colored".  There were also different sets of restrooms, again, "White", and "Colored".  In our drug store and doctor's office there were separate entrances and waiting areas...one for "White", and one for "Colored".    The "Colored" people were never allowed to enter the white area of any store or be served at the soda fountain in our drug store.  The "Colored" people did not even come into that particular part of town unless they absolutely had to.  They had their own little stores, but not nearly as nice as the white people's stores, and they also had their own schools and churches, and they lived in the section of town known as "Colored Town".  

The other thing I learned was that many of the kids in my school, as well as many adults, did not have much respect for the "Colored People".  The "N" word was used frequently, both in jokes, as well as in ordinary language and conversations.  It actually was the common word that was used to talk about the people of color, and no one seemed to notice that it was improper to use that particular word.  I confess that I even learned to say that word myself, although my parents would not have tolerated it if they had known, and I am certainly not proud of it today.  

It was not until I was a junior in high school that our schools became integrated, and my class was the very first class to receive black students. It was called "The Great Experiment", bringing five of the very best students from our local black high school, and enrolling them in our class.  I can only imagine how fearful those five brave teens must have felt on that first day of class in an all white school. To our credit, my fellow classmates and I actually went out of our way to welcome them into our midst...we tried our best to include them in our extra curricular activities, sports, and conversations. We were very proud of them and their accomplishments when we all received our diplomas together the following year.  Amazingly, some of us have actually been reunited in recent years through a class reunion and then as friends on Facebook. Sadly, I just received word last night that one of our courageous black classmates passed away this week from a heart attack.  I am so glad that I had gotten reacquainted with her through Facebook, and I was so happy to see that she was a committed, dedicated Christian woman, a real prayer warrior, a precious child of God, a woman deserving my greatest respect and admiration. She will truly be missed.

I am extremely sorry that I ever thoughtlessly used a word that caused such hurt in the hearts of good honest people, even if they never heard me say it. I ask for their forgiveness today. I wonder also if other people throughout our nation have thought about that very much this past week, and have examined their own hearts and realized that they, too, may have said some words in the past that were degrading to other people, races, or religions.  Southerners are not the only guilty parties.  I know many people from the cities up north who have used racial and ethnic slurs against people from different nationalities ever since immigrating to the United States on the Mayflower.  There is probably an ethnic slur for every nationality alive today.  It's wrong. It's unkind. It's always inappropriate.  But my question is, why should Paula Deen be the only one being crucified over this use of improper language years ago? If she's guilty, then so is probably 99% of the human race. We all know we are guilty of possibly even worse than what she has said.

The rest of the Bible story that I quoted above goes this way:

John 8,verses 8-11:
 "And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, 
"Woman, where are those thine accusers? 
Hath no man condemned thee?"
She said, "No man, Lord." 

And Jesus said unto her, 
"Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

Thankfully, our Lord and Savior has forgiven us of our many sins, if we have repented and confessed and asked for that forgiveness.  Perhaps this situation with Paula Deen this week has been a bit of a wake-up call for many of us, in more ways than just in our choice of words and language.  Perhaps we all need to do some self-examination and confession.  I trust it won't result in the loss of a contract or job or position in life...but if it does...well, we know we at least did what we believed was right in being truthful and forthright in our confession.  I believe God is going to take care of Paula Deen.  She's not a bad person.  I don't know her well enough to know if she is a believer, but maybe this experience will help her to lean on Jesus even more and not rely on the world for her livelihood.   Maybe He will help her to start a new contract in her life...an eternal contract that will be a blessing to many.  God is in the second chance business...I know that for a fact and from personal experience.  Perhaps He wants to give you a second chance too! What do YOU need to confess?

And Jesus said unto her, 
"Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

An Invitation to Follow My Blog with Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hey there blog fans...I'm not sure what's going on, but I need to add "Bloglovin" to my blog as a way to follow my blog.  So this is a part of the deal...I have to post this new post with the Bloglovin code in it...so this is just an experiment...not a real post. We're just pretending it's a real post!  Hope you like it!
Don't worry, it's really me, and no, I'm not crazy. Well, maybe a little.  I'll be back with a real post soon, I promise.  Thanks for stopping by and visiting with me, even if it was just for a minute or two! Maybe I can find a cute picture to add to this and make it worth your while...

This is a BEFORE picture of our "guest shower"...in case you were planning to come
and visit for a little longer, and needed a shower...

Here's the AFTER picture of our shower...much better,  as I am certain you will agree!

So Now, stay awhile, kick your shoes off...have a cup of tea, and take a shower!

Yeah, I know, pretty crazy ...but hopefully now I've got this new bloglovin thing posted.  If not, I'll be back with something else new and unusual!

Have a blessed day blog fans!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wake Up Call

Yesterday I called my sister on my way home from work like I normally do every afternoon.  Our chats on the cell phone help keep me awake on my long drive through the forest where there is no traffic to keep me focused and only bright sunshine warming my face and making my eyelids exceedingly droopy.  So I guess you could say she is my lifeline---keeping me afloat when I'd rather drown in the pool of late afternoon slumber land.  I know all about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving, but in this case, it is a necessity to keep me awake, so don't waste your time telling me how dangerous it is.

My phone conversation with my "little big sister", my nickname for my petite older sister, was truly a wake-up call yesterday. Perhaps for her as well as for me. When I asked her what she was up to, as I customarily do, she replied that she had just gotten out of the shower and she was hurting.  "Hurting where?" I asked. "In my chest, shoulders, and kind of burning-tingling down my left arm," was her startling response.  I then asked her how soon her husband would be home, and she said he was walking through the door as we spoke.  I said, "Then you need to tell him what's going on and you need to get to the hospital and get checked."

I could tell by the breaks in her voice that her pain was not exaggerated and that she was frightened.  Her fear became my fear. I called her back when I reached my house, and she was still deliberating over whether or not to go to the hospital. I told her to stop thinking about it and get going. I said, "You've got Medicare, so you don't have to worry about the cost. Just go! Better to be safe than sorry."  I also told her that if our mother or father were alive, they would tell her the same thing.

This tea party was much later in life obviously...but we STILL love
to have a tea party any chance we get.  This one was for my birthday
a few years ago, using our Mother's (Grandmother's) Haviland China that
we inherited and divided between ourselves so we each could have the same
amount of plates and cups and saucers.
So apparently they left for the hospital soon after, as I couldn't reach her at home when I called back later.  I spent an anxious evening waiting for a phone call telling me what her condition was.  During that time I prayed, I paced back and forth in my front yard while I watered my flowers and trees, I talked to God out loud (where no one else but the birds and lizards could hear me), and I analyzed my feelings.

I am not usually an anxious, worrisome person.  I know how to take my concerns to the Lord in prayer.  But, this is my sister!  My "little BIG sister!"  The one who helped look after me when I was just a little girl following her around, pestering her and probably bothering her a whole bunch.  She is the one who had tea parties with me and our dollies when we were tiny little girls on the farm.
My sister Doris, her beautiful bride doll, and me with my baby doll. Note the
matching dresses, made especially for us by our mother for Christmas.

She is the one who went with me out in the cold to the scary, stinky outhouse we had on our farm.  (She's also the one who left me in there alone one day and I couldn't get the door open and had to start pounding and screaming to get someone's attention that I was stuck in the outhouse alone....but that's another story! ) 

My sister is the one who taught me about what to do when puberty came along and scared me half to death.
 She is the one who taught me how to sew and even fixed my sewing catastrophes when I couldn't figure out how to get that zipper in straight, or make that button-hole attachment work right...or even how to thread the bobbin and needle over and over again when I had the tension too tight.  (Seamstresses will understand this...this is why I never have really liked sewing all that much...and my sister is such a natural!)

Yeah, she's my BIG sister, even if she IS much smaller than me.   (I'm the "BIG LITTLE sister").  We've had our moments...spats you might call them.  I think we even pulled each other's hair a few times and did a lot of screaming at each other when it seemed like the only thing to do.  But when all was said and done, we still loved each other.  We still love each other.  Since our Mama and Daddy both went to heaven we've clung to each other like sisters do. We share the same kind of DNA...we think alike,
Yeah, we think alike...both stuck out our tongues at the same time at a
sneaky photographer!  (Taking a walk with our Daddy)
we talk alike, sometimes we even dress alike. (and we don't ever plan it that way...it just happens).
 Sisters dressed alike for my son's wedding rehearsal party...totally unplanned
shown here together with our parents on either side of us.
 We've even started to look alike, even though I was always much taller, red-headed and freckled, and my sister has always been petite, brunette, and can actually tan without freckles!  We've blended somewhere in the middle...our genetic pool has merged somehow.

Even though we have two older brothers, and I love them dearly too, I was suddenly struck with the thought last night that my sister is my closest flesh and blood link to our shared heritage...the bloodline to our parents...we have so many shared memories of our childhood...so many treasures, not just tangible treasures, but inherent gifts that were handed down to us from our ancestors...things that we just know because that's how we were brought up....things that we do because that's how our mother or daddy taught us.  No one else on earth understands those things like we do.  (No one else on earth understands why we do things like we do).  We do have some differences, but we have a lot more similarities than differences. Even our brothers don't quite get it sometimes...

The good news is, so far today they haven't found anything wrong with my sister.  Her heart seems to be beating strong and healthy.  But this was a wake-up call.  A call for me to recognize how much I love my "little big sister", and how much she means to me.  Sometimes we may get exasperated with each other and not totally agree with the way we do things...but when all is said and done...we are family. We need each other. I hope to keep my "little big sister" around for a long time. She reminds me of our Mama AND our Daddy. She is a link to our past and our future.

If there is a lesson in this for us, it would be to cherish your family, whether they be near or far, parent, sibling, spouse, or child.  We were lucky (blessed) this time that it was just a "wake up call".  The next time we may not be so fortunate.  Tell your loved ones that you love them while there is time. Don't wait until something bad happens and then wish you'd told them.

I love you, Sis.  Yeah, I love you too, brothers.  Believe me, I want to keep all of you around just as long as I can.  I'm the baby of the family, and I don't like being left "alone."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why I'm Thankful for My Hubby

You may think this is stupid or crazy, but I was looking at this stack of folded laundry sitting there on my sofa, and I felt an overwhelming sense of thankfulness.  My hubby folded those towels, and did the laundry as well.  He also cooked our dinner, helped the AC repairman put our burned up air conditioning unit back together again,
Yes, that is the wiring in our central air unit.
Praise the Lord...the fire went no further than this...

and kept things running in our house this week while we had one event after another.  While the AC was non- functional during our 90+ degree early summer, sultry, 4 very humid days, he took care of the house, in the heat, and cleaned up the mess after the local handyman tiled our guest bathroom, in the midst of one whole afternoon/evening of no electricity as well!  It's been one of those weeks.  And we have friends arriving this weekend for an overnight visit...so things have to get ship-shape in a hurry.  Of course, I've been sitting in my nice air-conditioned office while my retired hubby has been taking care of all this stuff...and even though I've complained about the heat and inconvenience of all the mess plenty, at least I could escape it every day for a while...and he couldn't.

So, I want to say thank you to my sweet hubby tonight...for his continual work to keep things running smoothly in the midst of chaos...for his patience in becoming a "house hubby" even though he'd rather have been able to keep working these past few years instead of being retired early by an unexpected job cut.
Me and My Hubby  (picture taken in February...not in June, obviously!)

Oh, have I told you that he started his own website/blog recently?  He's learning all about how to do this, teaching himself as he goes along.  You might enjoy reading it...he doesn't always write the posts, but gathers some interesting and encouraging stories to share with you.  Check it out...and perhaps you'll understand why I'm so thankful for this hubby.  He's pretty wonderful!  Click here for the link to Simposious.com
There's lots more good stuff I could say about him, but this will do for now. 

I've got to get some sleep...it's been a long, hot, tiring week...and I'm exhausted after writing about all this work my hubby's done for me this week...  Yes, I thank the Lord for the blessing of godly, good, (and handsome) hubby. I am blessed, and I know it.

Oh, one more thing...here's the favorite verses my hubby wanted me to share with you tonight:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us lay aside every weight, 
and the sin which so easily ensnares us, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, 
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

Good thoughts to ponder as we settle down for the night, don't you agree?  Good Night Friends.

P.S.  Oh, and by the way:  Happy Father's Day to my hubby!  He is the marvelous father of three magnificent sons and a grandpa to one amazing grandson, and a father in law to one outstanding daughter in law!  We all love you!!!!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Psalm of Joy... Reposted and Updated 6-11-13

Just a quick update on this story...I still have that beautiful painting in my office, and I still look at it from time to time and remind myself of this Psalm and give thanks for the job that I still have. There have been "moments" throughout these past few years when I needed something pleasant to remind me to be thankful for my job...and for God's daily provision. Sometimes I just have to break forth and sing to the Lord a new song...I still can't play the piano.  

The picture in my office

(This was originally posted back in March of 2010, right after I started work here) Psalm 33:1-3  "Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. Praise the Lord with the harp; make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.  Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy."

My friend Laura will appreciate this Psalm as it relates to my being able (or NOT able) to play a piano.  You see, Laura and I shared a very similar experience.  We were both new pastor's wives many years ago...and we were each asked the very same question (in different places and different times) as our husbands were being interviewed for their first ministry position.  The question that was directed to me from the ladies of the church was, "Do you play the piano?"  I fearfully responded, "No, I do not play." (Fearfully because I feared that if I couldn't play the piano, my husband might not be called to be the pastor of their church).  The woman who was in charge of the interrogation was rather alarmed and said, "But our pastor's wives have always played the piano!"  I laughed then and said, "Well, if you like singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or singing hymns to the tune of "Chopsticks", I'll be happy to play for you, but that is all I know how to play!"  In my mind I was thinking how interesting it would be to sing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" to one of those tunes!  Somehow my husband was still called to be the Pastor of that church, so I guess my piano skills weren't really all that important after all!

I thought about this story after a little trip this morning to my new place of employment, which happens to be at a church.  The women of the church were having a yard sale, and one of the items for sale was a beautiful painting of an elegant room in which stood a baby grand piano and a lovely golden harp.  I fell in love with that painting, and just had to have it for my new office.  Much to my great surprise and pleasure, the kind ladies of the church who were in charge of the sale gave me the picture with their blessings.  We immediately hung it on the wall where I can view it at any time during my hectic day of work and pause to "praise the Lord with the harp" (in my heart) and "make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings".  I don't believe I will be able to "play skillfully", but I can surely give a "shout of joy", for "praise from the upright is beautiful"!  I wonder if praise from the baby grand is just as beautiful as from the "upright"! (Upright piano, get it? :)) 

Yes, I am singing this "Psalm of Joy" tonight...joyful that God has heard my prayers...joyful that He is indeed filling my heart with joy as I embrace this new calling in my life.  Now if He will just help me do the work that He has given me to do, I will definitely give a "shout of joy"!

"Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!"

Here are some other things that I enjoy looking at in my office when I need to 
give my eyes and my mind a break~

My Victorian Garden Tea Set...which I purchased from our church Yard Sale the first week I was here! Quite a discovery!

Chinese crock...and the Bibles of course!   The Chinese Crock was another church yard sale find!

Angels watching over me!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of some of my favorite things in my office!

Be blessed today, my friends!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

He Knows My (Your) Name

It's June 1st, 2013.  I always consider June to be the middle of the year...the 6th month...and 6 more to go.  It seems the older I get, the faster these days, weeks, months, years seem to fly by.  I find myself evaluating my life...my year's goals, my life's goals...and wondering how or IF I will ever accomplish the things I had hoped to accomplish before I get too old to do anything else.  Does anyone else do that? Do YOU?

I find myself dreaming about the day that I can retire, and I hope that I will be able to fulfill the aspirations and plans that I've pondered and looked forward to with so much anticipation.

Ahhh, retirement at last....someday...
(photo from
internet...no credits given)

 However, the reality is, when I finally do retire, there will most likely not be the kind of income that is required to accomplish much beyond day to day existence. (If even THAT).  I don't like to think about that possibility, but I have to face reality someday.

During these past couple of weeks quite a few people in Oklahoma and Missouri and other parts of the mid-west have had to face the reality of having their homes, businesses, schools, and possibly even family members swept away in a moment's time in a horrendous tornado and/or flood. Retirement is the farthest thing from their minds now.  They just want to survive the next day, recover some pieces of their belongings, gather their family back together, and try to rebuild their lives.
 It makes my goals and aspirations look rather shallow.  I find myself feeling guilty that I have so much when others have lost everything. There really isn't a lot I can do to help them, except to give a little money towards the disaster relief effort.  

I have continued to pray for these people whom I do not know, but God knows them by name and knows their every need.  As a matter of fact, last evening I could not keep my eyes off of the news as we watched storm after
storm race across Oklahoma City and on up to St. Louis and surrounding areas. I found myself crying out and praying over and over again, "Lord, please keep these families safe. Turn these storms away, and cause them to dissipate without causing so much harm."

 I didn't think I knew anyone there, but I discovered on Facebook today that one of the families that I've become acquainted with was actually hunkered down in their basement while the storms passed too close for comfort. I don't know if my prayers helped or not, but I praise God that He steered the storms away from them.  They have recently endured too much tragedy in the loss of one of their precious little boys to a vicious childhood cancer, DSRCT...the same disease my 40 year old son Matthew is currently battling. Now I understand why I couldn't keep away from the TV last night, and why I felt compelled to keep praying. Our families share a common bond, even though we have never met...God knows their name...and He heard my prayers.

Click on this link "He Knows My Name"...a song that speaks words of such comfort to me...

"I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call"

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tommy_walker/

My friend, if you are going through difficult days, trauma, disasters, loss, anxiety about your future...I want you to know this One Who knows YOUR name...He is God, Our Father.  He is Jesus Christ, Our Savior.  He is The Holy Spirit, Our Comforter.  He knows your name.  He knows your every thought.  He sees each tear that falls, and He hears you when you call.  Before time began your life was in His hands...

"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
and that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
and skillfully wrought in the lowest
parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, 
being yet unformed,
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them."  
Psalm 139: 13-16

(Read all of Psalm 139 to get the whole story of how well God knows you and loves you)

After so much bad news here recently, I'd say that's pretty wonderful news, don't you?