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!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Link To What I've Been Doing Lately

Hi Friends!  While many of you are stuck in snow, ice, and winter gridlock, here's what I've been doing in my spare time down here in Florida.  Don't worry...there are no pictures of sunny beaches, palm trees or me in my bikini (never had one...and you should be thankful!)... Just some "quality" time spent working on a project with my carpenter son Benton from "Ben's Country Woodshop".  This time the project was something for me to enjoy, even if I did have to work for it!  Click on this link to Ben's Country Woodshop and check it out!  Then fix yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and wrap up in an extra blanket or sweater and make the best of your day!  Blessings to all...Love, Pam


From My Kitchen to Yours, With Love

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"The Battle Is The LORD'S"

Do you remember when you used to read Bible stories to your children...or when you first heard them read to you?  I wonder what stories stick out in your mind as the most significant or memorable?  For me, the one that stirs up the most powerful imagery has to be  "David and Goliath".  Therefore, I was thrilled when that happened to be the story referred to in my morning devotions today, from the book of I Samuel, chapter 17, verses 31-51.

Our normal practice each morning is that I read the daily devotional selected for the day from a devotional booklet, and then I read the accompanying scripture verses that go along with the story.  Did I mention that I read this out loud to my husband and anyone else who happens to be within earshot? Yep, that is what we do, weekdays and weekends.  Normally, I just read without much expression, trying not to be too loud in case someone is still sleeping in the house.  But today, I could not resist reading this whole passage rather loudly, using my best Deep, Gravelly, Ferocious giant voice for Goliath, and my equally STRONG, CONFIDENT and BRAVE voice for David.

Please read along with me:

The first scene is the young shepherd boy David convincing King Saul that he is able to go and fight this Philistine...see verses 31-39  I particularly like verses 36-37, where David says to King Saul:

"Your servant (David) has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God."
Moreover, David said, 
"The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear,

The scene changes, and David approaches the giant with nothing but a sling and five smooth stones from the brook. (Verses 40-42)  Then the real excitement begins in verses 43-51:

So the Philistine (Goliath) said to David,
"Am I a DOG, that you come to me with sticks?"
And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

And the Philistine said to David, 
"Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"

Then David said to the Philistine,
"You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin.  But I come to you in the NAME of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
THIS DAY the LORD will deliver you into my hand,
and I will strike you and take your head from you. 
And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know 
David meets Goliath (picture from internet)
David hurried and ran toward the army to meet
the Philistine
(photo from internet)

"So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.  
Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone,
and struck the Philistine and killed him.  But there was no sword in the hand of David.
Therefore, David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.  And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled."

Wow! You may be thinking this is a rather grisly story to begin my day.  I can only tell you that when you find yourself up against the giants of this life, whether they be the giants of illness, death, loss of home, mate, child, job...or the perceived enemies of insecurity, hopelessness, emptiness...whatever your huge giants may be, and no matter how small and insignificant you may feel...you can stand strong in the face of these giants because the little shepherd boy David showed us that:

"And all the world will know that there IS A GOD IN YOUR ISRAEL"...
The place you call home, wherever that may be.

And as King Saul said to David in verse 37:

"Go, and the Lord be with you!"

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Be Of Good Courage!" / The Shaving Lesson

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."  
Psalm 31:24

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning!"  
Psalm 30:5b

This was one of those kind of weeks.  It started out difficult, then got harder, and then, well...God showed up.  Don't get me wrong.  He was there all the time. He promised us...

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

And again He tells us:

"And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed."
Deuteronomy 31:8

I knew when I selected my "One Word for 2014", "STRENGTHEN", that I could expect to endure some tests of strength.  After all, how can one become stronger without exercise? Whether it be physical strength, mental strength, or spiritual strength; the only way to become stronger is to work at it.  We don't gain strength lying in a hammock and sipping lemonade all day.  

But I didn't expect the tests to start out so difficult. I thought I could build up to them gradually. Apparently that's not the way God chose to teach me at this point. 

Sadly the week started out with a dear friend suddenly passing on to be with the Lord. She was a young woman, the age of my own sons, and I've known her since she was a teenager. It was quite a shock, and I've spent a good part of the week working through the emotions of this sad event.  However, I comfort myself with the knowledge that she is with the Lord, and that Heaven's choir just got more powerful with the addition of her beautiful singing voice.

Then my own dear son, who is battling cancer, has had an extremely painful week.  The pain medications just were not helping, and he was really suffering. Plus he is waiting to hear whether or not the insurance company will approve further chemotherapy for him.  Even though my son is 40 years old and lives 1500 miles away, is married to a wonderful wife and has a 14 year old son, as any mother knows, when your child is hurting, you hurt as well. You want to go to battle for him...and kiss away his pain if only you could.  At least that's how I felt. 

Knowing that another mother lost her dear child this week, which for that particular friend, it was the second one to die and the only child she had left...making it a double sorrow for her...and then feeling so helpless about my own son's situation...well, it was a difficult thing to deal with, to put it mildly.

But then, last night something really precious happened.  My sweet daughter in law posted some pictures on Facebook of a milestone event in the life of my grandson.  As I said above, my grandson is fourteen years old.  The last time we saw him a few months ago he was already proud that he was taller than his mother and his grandma (me).  Since then, I've heard that he has grown another couple of inches, and his shoe size is a men's 14!  

Well, last night he had his first shaving lesson! His dad, (my son) showed him step by step how to shave...and it was all captured in pictures!

What a keepsake for my grandson to treasure in years to come...to be able to look back at a very special time when his daddy and he shared in this rite of passage into manhood together.  And what a tremendous experience for my son to treasure in his heart...being there for his son as he enters puberty.

You see, my son realizes that, unless there is a miracle out there for him, he may not be able to share in very many milestone experiences in his son's life. This is not an easy thing for me to write, or to accept. I am still praying for a miracle.

He did it!!

I know that the Lord is with us. He is with our son. He will never leave us nor forsake us. "He is the One who goes before you."  I know that God is preparing the way.  However, like my friend, I may have to give up my child someday. Until then, I won't give up hope.

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."
Psalm 31:24
Job well done!!!
Oh, and by the way, my son's oncologist was able to prescribe a better pain medication for our son that has helped to alleviate the constant pain he has been dealing with all week. As you can see by the smile on his face above, by last evening he was able to enjoy the special time with his family and end the week on a more positive note.  This was a great comfort to me as well...just to see that smiling face gave me great hope.
Thank you Lord...for small miracles while we wait.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sometimes We Overlook What's Right In Front of Us!

When we first moved to our current home, I needed a floor mat to go in front of my kitchen sink.  I picked out the above at the local Walmart. (I say local, but it's about 25 miles away). I decided I liked it so much, I actually bought two of them exactly the same to use in my kitchen.   I walk on them every day...stand on one or the other to wash the dishes, make the coffee or tea in the morning, or just stand in place to look out the window and watch the birds.  I've had these cushiony floor mats for about two years, and I just realized something tonight.

What do you see in this picture?  Yes, there is a bicycle decked out with geraniums. There's an old wooden barrel topped with pots of summer flowers, a cobblestone walkway...and the most obvious, but until tonight I was oblivious...there is a "Closed Door", and an "Open Window"...Okay, maybe the window isn't really open, but you can see through it...and it has a lovely view looking out onto the world. That qualifies it as "open" to me.

This floor mat that I comfort my feet upon every day is a representation of this very blog..."Closed Doors, Open Windows"...and I never realized it until today!

Perhaps that is the subliminal reason I purchased this particular mat in the first place...and then even went back for the second one not long after!  I was so thrilled that they still had another just like it!

This got me to  thinking...how often do we overlook, walk over, stand upon, and possibly even ignore things of beauty and value that are right before our eyes? I wonder if we even miss obvious messages...or answers to our prayers...because we are too busy to notice...or too preoccupied to pay attention to the things/ones that really matter?

Think it over...look around you...look under your feet...look out your "open window" on the world.  You may be surprised at what (or who!?) as been there all along, just waiting for you to notice.

That's all for tonight...just this little lesson from my floor mat.

"Remember, when God closes a door, He always opens a window! You never know what might be out there waiting for you!"

(It seems like I've seen that somewhere before! I wonder where it was????)  Have a blessed day, my friends...and don't forget to take a look around you...and give thanks for what you see!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"What do you want Me to do for you?"

Last week I posted a story about a young man that I passed on my way to work each day  (click on link for story) and told you about how I was burdened for him and began praying for him every day.  I have to tell you this news today!

The last couple of mornings have been rather cold here in Florida...and I hadn't seen any of the kids mentioned above at their bus stops since the Christmas break.  I was getting a little concerned that perhaps this particular young man may have moved or something may have changed in his schedule or possibly he was sick.   Well, today was an amazing morning!

When I approached the area where this young man usually stands waiting for his school bus I began to pray, "Lord, let him be there today."  As I got closer, I could see him standing there in his usual spot...but something was very different.  Instead of the slouching, pathetic looking teen with the "stringy, greasy, unkempt longish hair" covering his pimply face, there stood a young man tall and straight, with the nicest, cleanest haircut, and a look on his face of self-confidence and interest that had never been there before! I didn't even notice if he still had the pimples on his face...he looked like a totally different person!  I actually did a double-take to be sure it really was him!  I'm sure it was...a transformed individual...ready to meet the world with confidence.

I can only say to you that I burst into tears and laughter (joy) at the same time! I could not believe my eyes! (It was all I could do to not stop my car and run up to him and tell him about this)  And yet, as I began to cry out words of praise and thanksgiving to God, I had to ask myself, "Well, what did you think?"  I mean, why shouldn't I have expected God to answer my prayers for this young man? Did I doubt that God would hear my prayers, or that He really didn't care about this boy?

This past Sunday my husband preached a sermon from Luke chapter 18, verses 35-43, about the blind man who sat beside the road begging.  And when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he cried out, 
"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (vs. 39).  Then in verse 41 Jesus responded to him asking, "What do you want Me to do for you?" and the blind man answered, "Lord, that I may receive my sight."  

What do you think Jesus said to this man after that bold request?  Do you think He told him, "No, I'm sorry, that's too hard for me"?   Or did He tell him that He needed to clean up his act and quit begging and go get a real job...or that he needed to go see a doctor? Did Jesus tell the man that He was too busy to deal with the likes of someone like him?  No, none of the above.  Instead, in verse 42 Jesus said to the blind man:
"Receive your sight; your faith has made you well."

This blind beggar's FAITH is what made him well.  That's all...nothing else required...just pure, simple faith.
And in verse 43 is says, "And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God.  And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God."

I can tell you that when I saw this young man alongside the road this morning, looking like a new person, with hope in his eyes, I had to give glory to God.  There is no doubt in my mind that God did this. I don't know what is happening inside the heart and mind of this young man, but I do believe that God is at work on the inside as well as on the outside. There has to be a reason for this transformation that only God can explain.

This gave me such encouragement and hope today, on a day that I truly needed it.  If God can hear my prayers for a stranger alongside the road and show me that He has indeed heard my prayers and that He is already at work in this person's life as a result of those prayers (yes, I do believe that), then what else might He be doing in the lives of others for whom I have been so burdened even more so than this young man? People much closer to me than this unidentified teenager?  My own son in fact, in need of serious intervention from the Lord to save his life from the spread of the horrid disease that is rapidly overtaking his body and causing so much pain and destruction.  Is Jesus asking me today, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
If so, then my answer is, "Lord, that my son would be healed and restored to us healthy and whole again."  Is this too much to ask? Can my faith make him well?

"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"  Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on my son!  Jesus, My Savior and Lord, have mercy on us.

In the Name of Jesus, Jehovah-Rophe, My Healer, (Exodus 15:26), I pray today. Amen.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Strengthening Exercises Continue

Me, pondering my next "Strengthening Exercise"...maybe a "rockathon"?  

Since I started this new "One Word" campaign for 2014 with the word, "Strengthen",  I am amazed at all the places this word pops up in my daily reading, thoughts, and conversation.  Sort of like when you get a new car, dress or shoes that you think no one else has, you suddenly see it everywhere you go! And you wonder, "Why didn't I notice that before?"  Well, probably because it didn't matter to you before...and now it does.  

Just this morning in my daily devotional reading from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, I read the following:

"I want you to learn a new habit.  Try saying, 'I trust You, Jesus,' in response to whatever happens to you...."  "Adverse circumstances become growth opportunities when you affirm your trust in Me no matter what. You receive blessings gratefully, realizing they flow directly from My hand of grace.  Your continual assertion of trusting Me will strengthen our relationship and keep you close to Me."   
Yes, learning to say, "I trust You, Jesus," no matter what, can be a difficult strengthening exercise.  I have found throughout my years of walking with the Lord that the more I commit myself to trust Him, the more difficult the "exercises" become.  Building trust in God is like climbing up a very steep mountain when you are already tired and weak from a long journey.  Every step seems to be painful and looks impossible, but you know you want to reach the top and see what is there.  You don't want to give up before you reach your goal, but you are so weary you are ready to sit down and quit each time you stumble on the loose rocks and roots along the way. And then Jesus says, 

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2Corinthians 12:9)

 And so we keep climbing. We say, "I trust You, Jesus," and He comes alongside and gives us an extra boost of energy so that we can keep going until we reach the top of the mountain. The more we exercise this trust, the stronger we become.  We gain confidence, knowing that Jesus will be there for us when the next "strengthening exercise" presents itself unexpectedly.  We find ourselves claiming with the Apostle Paul,

"I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

So, here we go...becoming stronger as we learn to trust!  What kind of "strengthening exercises" are you in the midst of today? Ask Jesus to come alongside and give you a boost.  That's better than any energy drink out there!

Well, hubby just came in and said, "Let's go for a walk!"  I guess that's my strengthening exercise for today!

Whew! I'm glad that's over!  But I do feel stronger already..pant pant...

Thank you, Lord, for this "strengthening exercise" from Your Word, and from Your Divine Inspiration.

I have a feeling I'm gonna get a lot stronger this year, one way or the other!

Friday, January 3, 2014

RJD: Discerning God's Will

I was about to give up on writing anything for this month's Random Journal Day...I really don't have a large number of old journals like most of my writing friends.  My journal writing has been pretty much hit and miss for the past few years...and so much of what I wrote in the earlier years seems dated...or has too much personal information to share. So to share something at random is a bit risky for me.  Therefore, I must confess, I do read over the posts carefully before sharing.  But I think I finally found something. So here I sit at my computer desk, with a blank screen before me, and my journal open and ready for perusal.

This particular entry was written on Friday, May 3, 1985.  I was full of stuff to say on this particular day, as this journal entry was eight pages long! Don't worry, I'm not going to share all of it...just the parts that are "shareable".

To give you a little history...we were in a place of ministry, but my husband was searching for a different place to minister where he would feel more fulfilled. We had been looking for a while, and things just weren't developing as we had hoped they would.  Here is what I wrote in my prayer conversation (monologue?) with God:

"No, not a perfect church--there is no such place on earth.  But I do believe there can be a perfect situation for us..a place where we can be fulfilled in our life's calling to the ministry.  Lord, You know where that place is.  Please, Lord, unlock the door.  Open the gates of Your love and mercy shown to us in the past.  Perhaps we are not yet worthy of the place we'd like to be...Yes, I'm sure we aren't...but Lord, if You waited on Your servants to be worthy of their calling, would anything ever be done?

Lord, we know we're not worthy to be called Your children even, let alone your chosen servants, but Lord, with You helping us and strengthening us--we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.  Lord God, it is Christ Who makes us worthy of our calling...it is His blood that makes us worthy to be called a child of the King.  Lord, I can't sit here and fool You...You know my thoughts and my desires.  I pray You do not judge me too harshly.  Lord, I am willing to go where You want me to go...just give me wisdom to discern what is Your will, and not my own will.  But Lord, Your Word teaches us that if we have the faith the size of a mustard seed...and say to that mountain, "be ye removed,"  it shall be done of my heavenly Father.

Lord, I'm asking You to remove the barriers that stand between us and joyful service in Your kingdom.  I'm not even sure what they are, but You know.  Help us Lord, to be all that You want us to be...and to do what You want us to do.  I don't want to be selfish and demand like a spoiled child that You give me my desires...but I do believe that if "we delight ourselves in the Lord, You will give us the desires of our hearts."
Maybe that's the key...maybe we're not delighting in You enough.  Forgive me, Lord, and help me to delight in You.  I want to be joyful in Thee.  It's not You, Lord, that I'm disappointed in, or maybe I'm fooling myself...if I'm not contented with what You've done for me, then maybe I'm not contented with You.  Forgive me, Lord, I didn't mean to be discontented.  I know You've provided abundantly, and with much love You have always showered Your blessings on us.  I'm sorry, Lord.  I've not been very grateful lately.  But Lord, something is missing in my soul.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  Perhaps I've neglected too much in communication with You.  I know that's true.  Help me, Lord to correct that.  I'm not fit to be in this position, and here I'm desiring a better one.  Forgive me, Lord.

But Lord, I need some positive reinforcement...no, maybe not...maybe I need chastening.  I guess I'm just confused.  Jesus, I need Your help and guidance...not MY will, but Thine be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Lord, I have confidence that You WILL see us through...You WILL have YOUR way in our lives...You won't cast us away.  You've bought us with a price, and we are valuable in Your sight.  Use us today, Lord.  Keep us on the right track. "Guide me, oh, Thou Great Jehovah."

Thank you, Lord, for your healing balm...that soothes my soul and makes me whole.  Oh God, in THEE Do We Trust!  Amen!"

Postscript:  Within about three months from this writing we were called to a better situation.  God did hear our prayers and answered abundantly.  I still had a lot to learn about faith and God's will, but He chose to continue the lessons with love and mercy. He's still teaching me...and "strengthening" me in the process...my One Word for 2014...funny how it keeps popping up....part of God's design? Yep. 

Now go visit with my other journaling friends and see what they've been up to.  http://beneaththesurface-dawn.blogspot.com/2014/01/happy-new-year-and-1st-random-journal.html

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Passing Strangers/Opportunities to Pray

I was just reading the post of one of my fellow bloggers, "Quietspirit", today (January 1, 2014) at this link:"Following My King...In God's Presence".  She said the following:
"As an experiment, we should mentally ask God if any person we pass in our daily activities- grocery shopping, going into the pharmacy to pick up something, getting gasoline, people we deal with in our jobs- needs to be in His presence."
Her excellent suggestion reminded me of someone I have been praying for every morning on my way to work.  I drive about 32 miles one way, most of which is through the forest, so I pass by very few human beings that early in the morning.  I may happen to see a family of Sandhill Cranes,  


A Deer,

    or a bear...

or some buzzards having breakfast of the roadkill that didn't quite make it across the road in the middle of the night.. (no pictures of this, thankfully), but very few humans until I get to the city for the last ten miles of my journey.

However, on school mornings I often pass by a few kids waiting for the school bus. Actually, only three are out at that hour, and they are spread apart by a couple of miles between them, so they each wait alone in the semi-darkness for the bus that will take them on a ride for at least twenty miles to their high school. One in particular has caught my attention.  I have no idea who he is, or anything about him except that he looks sad. What made me take notice is that he always stands rather carelessly close to the road, not looking at anything in particular, and most of the time he is hanging his head and slumping his shoulders, allowing his very stringy, greasy, unkempt longish hair to hang over and cover his face, looking very much like a lonely, unhappy, miserable young man. My first thought was that I wished I could wash and comb his hair and pull it up and out of his face. Then one day I noticed that his face was covered with pimples, which could explain why he wants to keep it covered...but it could also be why he has the pimples in the first place. Yeah, I was being somewhat critical...and then God challenged me to pray for him. My heart began to break for him as I started to pray and request God's protection, strength, encouragement, and love to embrace and cover him. I prayed for the light of God's love and salvation to reach through the darkness of his life and draw him close. I've prayed for his family, whoever they may be or whatever situation they may be in, that they will be drawn to the Lord, and if there are any serious issues, that they may be healed and strengthened.

As I said before, I don't know who this young man is, and I have no way of learning unless I stop the car and talk to him, which would probably scare the wits out of him to have some crazy lady pull off the road at 7:30 in the morning and ask him who he is and tell him that she's been praying for him for several months now. I've actually thought about it...but haven't gotten the go-ahead from God to do that yet, so I think I will just keep praying for him as I drive by.  He won't even look up at me as I pass so I can't even smile at him. But I pray that he will somehow sense that God cares about him, and that by some miracle he will gain the encouragement and confidence he needs to succeed in his life...and that he will turn his heart to Lord before it is too late.

Interestingly, the other two students that are waiting for the bus further down the road are just the opposite of this particular young man.  One is a young girl, (teen), and she looks rather bored and vulnerable sitting there alone waiting for the bus.  I do smile at her as I pass by, and she has now started to smile back at me.  I pray for her too, that her day will go well, and that God will watch over her in all that she does.

One mile later I pass by another young man, with a clean hair cut, stylish clothes, sunglasses on a cool looking strap around his neck, and he's usually standing there texting his friends on his smart phone while he waits for the bus. He doesn't look at me either, but that's because he's too caught up in his social life in the palm of his hand. I can imagine that he's one of the "cool" kids...and I pray for him that he will be kind to the boy from down the road who looks like he needs a friend.

I wonder if my prayers are making any difference in the lives of these three young people. They are nameless to me, but not to God. Somehow I believe there is a reason I have been directed to pray for them. Now I even pray for them on the days that they aren't there waiting for the bus as I pass by their individual stops.  I may never know the reasons why until we all reach heaven...but that is the desired end result...that we ALL reach heaven.

Has God placed anyone in your path lately that may need your prayers? It only takes a moment...you don't even have to close your eyes. (Definitely not if you are driving!  :) )  Imagine what a difference it could make in the lives of others (and ourselves) if we paused to pray for someone we pass each day. Imagine what a difference it could make in your life if someone paused to pray for you each day!

Hmm, this could be another one of those "strengthening" exercises I have been talking about for this year!

Have a blessed day...and take a moment to pray for someone you see along your way.