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, May 28, 2014

Is There Facebook in Heaven?

A Message to Matthew on his Facebook page from his Mom (me), 3 days after he crossed over from earth to heaven:

How is it that there are no messages on your page? Where did they all go? How I wish I could send you a message that you could read with your heavenly eyes. But maybe you can. For all I know, you may be standing next to me, watching me write, and feeling my sorrow. I don't know what you are able to see and hear and do now that you are on the other side of this life. I have a feeling you are so busy in heaven, shaking hands with all the "greats" from all time, and meeting all the old folks from "Ancestry.com" that you looked up so diligently...but most of all, you are sitting at the feet of Jesus...bowing in His presence...praising the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are there in His presence...and yet, so am I. I am also in His presence...just a breath away from where you are. 

Someday we will be reunited and what a day of joy that will be. Until then, we will keep your flame burning bright. We will hold your dear ones close, and we will look toward the heavens each night and whisper our prayers to the One Who now holds you close. 

Matthew on his 41st birthday, just 3 months before he passed
from earth to heaven.

Sure gonna miss that boy!

We love you Matthew Steiner, our #2! 

Until then,
Love Always, 
Mom and Dad and your brothers and wifey and son and Nanny.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How Could I NOT Want This Day to Come?

Sunday, May 25th, 2014.  The Day I hoped would never come...but wait! I take that back!  Just shortly after midnight our wonderful son Matthew Everette Steiner passed from this life into eternity after a lengthy battle with a rare and aggressive cancer.  He was exactly 41 years and 3 months old today. For the past four years he has fought valiantly against this horrific foe...and today...well, today he is no longer fighting.  The battle is over. It is finished.  How could I NOT want this day to come?

Today begins an exciting new chapter in the life of Matthew Everette Steiner.  I repeat his full name...as it is a name that is ringing throughout the halls of heaven today!  As soon as Matthew took his last breath here on earth, he gulped a breath of celestial air for the first time...and began his adventure in paradise.  When he crossed over the threshold of those pearly gates, I believe there was a shout and there were victory dancers surrounding him as he was escorted through the streets of gold by the holy angels themselves.  The saints of old were lining the streets, cheering and waving, calling out his name and welcoming him HOME.  Yes, HOME...home at last.  He was greeted and hugged by his grandparents and friends and ancestors who have gone on before...and then, best of all, he was presented to the One Who Died for him...his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ Himself.

Oh, how I would have loved to have been a little birdie on the wall watching this amazing event!  I would so love to have had just a glimpse of the joy on my precious son's face as he met Jesus face to face. To see him running and leaping through those jewel lined streets...strong and healthy and completely well!  No more sickness, no more fear, no more dying... Set free and totally healed...never to suffer ever again.

Yes, I am sad. I will miss this laughing, happy, fun loving child of mine.  I already miss hearing his voice. I am overcome with tears as waves of memories assail me frequently without warning. I am grieving for this great loss to our family and to his own sweet wife and son. There are no words that can describe what I am feeling adequately...but these word pictures do help me visualize the joy that he is experiencing...and I need to remember that.  My son is whole again...no more dying there...he is worshiping the King of Kings...and singing praises with the angels in glory. Again I ask, "How could I NOT want this day to come?"
Matthew Everette Steiner...before the cancer struck him
Healthy and whole...the way I expect he is today in heaven

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Journey of Opposites

Light and Darkness
Life and Death
Fear and Courage

Seeming opposites...and yet they all go together.
Without the darkness would we ever understand the light?
Without life, there would be no death.
Without fear, would we ever need to have courage?

Last week my son, who has terminal cancer, was admitted to a Hospice House in a community near his home. (1500 miles away from my home). Obviously, this is a step that brings every parent to their knees.  No one wants to see their loved one, whether it be a child, adult, spouse, sibling, anyone come to that point in life where it has become necessary to admit they are nearing the threshold of heaven.

John 1:5 tells us that "And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."  I John 1: 5-7

This week I am being immersed in the Light of God.  His testimony of life and light is all around me. It is an unusual tale...but not when you know the God of Light.

The reflection shown above appeared on my wall last week, a couple of days after Matthew was admitted to Hospice House.  I walked into my kitchen and noticed the light reflecting behind the blue vase, and then my eyes were directed to the wall just to the right of the vase, and the reflection I discovered there was shimmering and vibrating with dazzling brilliant light. I was so amazed by this phenomenon that I immediately ran to find my camera, hoping that it would remain until I could capture it. I later posted these pictures on my Facebook page, and I said "I wish I had taken time to dust this vase before I photographed it, but then the reflection would have been gone."  I meant that by the time I dusted it the moment would have passed and we would have missed it.  One of my friends commented, "Without the dust the reflection would have been gone...interesting..."   And that got me to thinking a little more deeply about this whole reflection of light event.

Strangely enough, this reflection continued to dance before our eyes for several minutes, during which time I received a phone call from a lady at the Hospice house, who happened to be sitting with Matthew for the evening to give my daughter in law a break.  She said she was calling to let me know that Matthew was sleeping peacefully and comfortably and that he was being well cared for.  I was surprised by her call, and particularly at that moment in time, but it gave me great comfort.  And then the light began to fade away and the vase once again sat in somewhat obscurity on my little shelf in the kitchen.

Several of my Facebook friends had interesting, deep comments about this Light Reflection.  A couple thought for sure they could see an angel in the light...

and another said:
"Maybe his spirit was visiting you at the time. . I have had this happen to me several times with close friends and family members who were in the state that Matt it is. Beautiful experience and a look into the mysterious ways of the spirit.  A gift that is for sure."       
Certainly some food for thought...

A few days later my husband and I boarded a plane to head north to be with our son, most likely for the very last time here on earth.  As we walked down the crowded aisle of the airplane to claim our seats, I noticed right away that the seat next to mine was already filled with a young woman holding a very young baby in her arms.  My first thought was, "Oh great!  We get to listen to a crying baby all the way to Maine." Not a very pleasant thought in my current state of mind. After all, we were heading into very turbulent seas, and we needed all the calming we could get.  So I settled down in my seat and made pleasant small talk with the young woman, asking about her baby's age, name, you know, all the usual questions one would ask about a new baby.  And she was very sweet and I could see that she truly loved her little baby boy and she was excited to be taking this trip to visit her parents and extended family who would be meeting her child for the first time.  Little by little I warmed up to this precious infant as he looked in my direction and began to smile and coo and respond to my funny faces and goo goo-ing at him. Every time he would start to fuss, all I had to do was look at him and smile, and he would stop fussing and smile back at me.

As the plane began its descent, the flight attendant came by and asked the young woman next to me if she had fastened her seatbelt.  Obviously, with her hands full of a very young baby she could not easily hold him and fasten her seatbelt at the same time.  So I asked her if she would like for me to hold her baby so she could take care of the belt, and by this time she felt she could trust me to hold her precious cargo, and so she placed that sweet bundle in my arms and I just melted.

Here I was, headed for my precious son's death, and God arranged it so that I could hold a new life in my arms, even if only for a few minutes.  

Kindly, the young mother allowed me the privilege of holding her warm cuddly baby all the way until we were firmly landed and stopped on the ground. I cannot begin to express to you how therapeutic and marvelous those moments were to my sad, sore heart.  It was a joy deep within my soul that I could not contain.

A little while later we arrived at the hospice house to visit our son.  As I walked into his room, he immediately looked at us and said, "Daddy, Mommy!"  Our son is 41 years old, married and has a son of his own, but these childhood terms of endearment reached into our hearts and overwhelmed us with love and relief.  Relief that he was still alive...and that he still knew who we were.  He has been in a very agitated stated of confusion, due to strong pain medications and the progression of the disease that is ravaging his body, so we really didn't know what to expect.

Then my husband directed my attention to look out of the window. and this is what we saw:
And as it twisted and turned in the wind, we both gasped...as the shimmering undulating motion of this magnificent wind "whirligig" so strongly resembled the image of the dazzling light reflection seen on the wall of our kitchen on that day not long before...THIS is the image our son can view directly outside of his window as he lays in his bed....certainly some more food for thought of the ways of the spirit...

Finally I come to the last part of this trilogy of words...Fear and Courage...

Yesterday afternoon the Chaplain stopped by to visit, and as she was preparing to go she asked Matthew if there were any words that he would like her to pray for him. The words that came clearly and strongly from Matthew's lips were, "Fear and Courage."  I thought this was pretty amazing, as the only words he had spoken over the past several days were nonsensical...phrases that made no sense to any of us...distorted thoughts and collections of words that we could not identify as having any particular meaning.  

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

This morning my husband was quoting a most familiar scripture that sums up all of the above for us:

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters 

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness 
for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 23

I think that is all I need to say.
Make your own conclusions about the messages that God is giving me...and you...through
these thoughts today.

Thank you for your continued prayers for my precious son as he continues in this fight between
Darkness and Light
Life and Death
Fear and Courage.

It is obvious to me that we are not alone on this journey.

Outdoor pictures are from the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House of Southern Maine.

Postscript: Our beloved son passed in the light and love of heaven just five days after I wrote this, on May 25th, 2014.  I believe God gave him the courage he needed to face that journey, and we know that he did not make it alone..

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Help! I'm Stressed Out!

Okay friends, I have to admit something to you.  The smiling face you always see on my Blog Profile or my Facebook Page isn't always accurate. It might even be a bit retouched.

I didn't take this picture...a friend did...and I think her camera had some special app to whiten teeth and remove wrinkles. I wish I had that app in real life. But that's another issue.

What you are seeing is a person who has gotten very good at smiling on the outside, but who may not be showing you the true inside picture.  It may even be something like an iceberg...you know...the "tip" of the iceberg? What you are seeing on the surface is only the very tip top of the iceberg...and it looks like you could easily go around it.  But remember the "Titanic"?  What was just under the surface was dangerously concealed from view...and it cost many people their lives.

Oh don't worry, I'm not going to "go postal" or anything like that.  At least I don't think I will. It would not be in my nature to do anything like that. But I have realized something about myself lately...I may not do anything overtly to hurt anyone else, but I may inadvertently be doing my own self a lot of harm. Why?  Because I am not letting go of the stresses that are overwhelming me.  Oh, I say a lot of good things and I believe that God is here with me and that He is carrying me through the storms of this life. I KNOW He is, or else I would be an even bigger basket case just about now. But I am harboring some rather insidious fears and anxieties.  I am smiling on the outside and saying I'm okay, but inside I am becoming a boiling inferno of stresses that I don't know how to control.  And it is taking its toll on my body. I am starting to come apart at the seams, or so it seems. Physical maladies are starting to mount up...and I am beginning to crumble under the weight.

I asked our Pastoral and Administrative staff at the church where I work today how I should handle this stress.  One suggestion was that I should just go outside somewhere and let it out...scream, cry, yell, let it go.  Another suggestion was that since I am a writer, I should write it out.  But I said I always try to write positive things for others to read. I was told to write out the negative feelings or heartaches and then destroy them.  Put it down on paper, and then burn it.  I thought those were good suggestions...and I am actually attempting to write more honestly what I am feeling...so bear with me.

Now don't get nervous or excited about what I am going through.  But I would ask you to pray. Pray that I will practice what I preach when it comes to my own self. Pray that I would allow myself some time to unwind and rest and let go.  Pray that I would not feel guilty or less than "perfect" if I can't handle everything the way I think I should. Pray that I would be honest and real and true to myself...and to my Lord. After all, He never said that I should carry these burdens on my own.  He never expected me to be perfect. As a matter of fact, He knew that I couldn't manage alone...and that is why He came to save me in the first place.  That's why He came to love me so much...because He knew that I could never love myself the way I should.

Actually, Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
For I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and 
My burden is light."

There is an old hymn that I absolutely love, and have sung it many many times in my life. But only recently did I acknowledge that I wasn't truly living this message...or maybe I was...the negative phrases of the song definitely apply to me:

"What A Friend We Have in Jesus"....(sound familiar?  Sing along with me)

"What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!"

"Have we trials and temptations? 
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged--
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness--
Take it to the Lord in prayer."

"Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge--
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He'll take and shield thee;
Thou wilt find a solace there."

By: Joseph m. Scriven, 1819-1886

I know I think I take all my burdens to the Lord in prayer...but the evidence is mounting up that tells me differently. I may be carrying my burdens to the Lord in prayer, but I am not leaving them there. I am picking them back up and taking them back home with me. And that has to stop. Or I am not going to survive. It's as simple as that...and as serious as that.

Now I do feel some better. Writing is therapy for me.  Talking it out on paper helps me put things in perspective.  Also doing something physically active and somewhat mindless helps too...here's an example of me really getting into my therapeutic work:  

Note the amount of paint on me is almost equal to the amount of paint on the cabinet I am trying to paint. But that is good.  I feel so much better now.  Thank you for listening...and praying.

"In His arms He'll take and shield thee; 
Thou wilt find a solace there"

Click here for a link to some helpful "de-stressing" ideas  written during another time when I was feeling overwhelmed.  You'd think I'd learn.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Random Journal Day-Teach Me Lord, To Wait! UPDATED FROM 5/2/2013

SEE THE UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS POST.   Originally posted on 5/2/2013, updated 5/9/2014 and AGAIN ON 5/9/2015:

Random Journal Day is a day when we pull out our old journals and share something from our past...hopefully something that reminds us of how far we've come in life...where we once were...and if we are able...we can see the way God was preparing us for our future today...at least that's what I've noticed from my former writings.  Sometimes I discover that the dreams I had twenty years ago are actually coming true today...like this one, written on July 1, 1990! 23 years ago? Can that be possible? Wow...

I wrote this during a time when we were serving in a metropolitan church way up north.  I was having a difficult time adjusting to my role as Pastor's Wife in this particular congregation...and also trying to adjust to life in the suburbs of a large city...a place I really did not like much at all. It was a struggle for our complete family the whole time we were there. It seems as though we were all a bit like fish out of water.  Here's what I wrote on that Sunday evening:

"I seem to be having some troubles adjusting here-more than usual.  I find myself wanting to 'withdraw' from people more and more.  I'm lonely for a real friend-but I'm afraid to even try to find one.  I just don't feel accepted or a part of things.  Even though people are very nice to me, it seems so superficial...no one seems to care about me.  I know I shouldn't be so sensitive--I should be the one caring about others.  But I'm having a real struggle in even being around people."  

(NOTE: We had just moved there a few months previous to this writing...and I had left behind a very active women's ministry in which I was a Bible study leader and had many good friends...so this was a big change).

I went on to say:  "I find myself really wanting to retreat-to hide-to withdraw-to insulate myself from the outside world.  This isn't me~I've always been a 'people person'.  But now I'm afraid to reach out-afraid of rejection-afraid of being inadequate-not having anything to say or contribute.  Not having anything in common with anyone-not even my own family. (? Not sure where that came from, but it's how I felt at the time).  I feel so isolated-cut off--out of sinc."

Sounds like I was depressed now that I look back!  I didn't realize that at the time...depression is something for other people...not me! At least that's what I've always thought!  But now, in hindsight, I can see where I probably was depressed and just didn't recognize the symptoms.  It's strange, but this was written just a few months before our middle son, Matthew, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 18. That started a major time of testing, total dependence on the Lord, and a huge amount of questioning as well. It also started a period of new growth...spiritually. I didn't realize THAT at the time either. Oftentimes we don't comprehend what God is truly doing inside our hearts and minds while we are in the middle of the battle.  We just put on our combat gear and start headlong into the fray. Especially when one of our children is at risk.

That's what I did. I jumped in and started fighting the unseen enemies of fear, anguish, and yes, anger. Anger that my son was suffering and fighting for his own life at the age of 18...right when he was supposed to be enjoying his senior year of high school, preparing for graduation and going off to college in a few months. Doubts assailed me...why was this happening to us? And yet, God, in His mercy, reached down and showed us His mercy and love. He became the Comforter in our time of sorrow and uncertainty. He became my best friend.  And best of all...He became the Healer...miraculously, mysteriously, and wonderfully! Not only did He heal our son, He healed my soul from it's depression.

I wish I could say that everything was wonderful from that day forth...but it wasn't exactly. Not too many months after all of this turmoil we were on the move again...and my journey in search of a place of peace and retreat continued to grow in my heart.  As I look back I realize now that the seeds for where I am today were planted back then.  Little by little we are developing our home into the kind of "retreat" I once dreamed of...but not just for me.  My dream is to share this place with others who need a place of comfort, rest and retreat from the world for a while...so they will be better prepared to face the world again when the time is right.  God does work in mysterious ways.

Isaiah 40:31 is a favorite verse of mine...and probably yours too:

"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."

"Teach me Lord, Teach me Lord~ to wait..."

What's YOUR dream today? What are your fears, anxieties?  Turn them over to the Lord...He is ready to carry you through to the next place...He will not let you down. You just may be surprised at the way He chooses to lead you through...but He WILL lead you through. Trust me. I know.

Oh, By the Way:  This is a picture of the Mother's Day Card my son Matthew made for me around the time of this journal entry...I thought this would be a good time to share it with you....it's pretty special to me....

Happy Mother's Day to all!

UPDATE: 5/9/14:  I posted this last year just before Mother's Day.  Some things have changed since then...as most of you know.  My son Matthew, who created this lovely Mother's Day Card, may soon be leaving this earth for his heavenly home, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Makes this card even more a treasure to me than even before, realizing that I may never receive another from him.  But I have so many priceless memories stored in my heart that nothing can take away from me.  Important message here: Mothers and Fathers, be sure to take the time to create special memories with your children while you are able.  Don't waste time pursuing things that cannot ever be more important than the time you spend with your family.  We never know how many days we will have together. Make every day count.

UPDATE 5/9/2015:  I can't believe I wrote this last update exactly one year ago.  In just a couple of weeks from that day, our precious Matthew left this earth for heaven.  Tomorrow, May 10, 2015, will be the very first Mother's Day that I will not hear his voice wishing me a Happy Mother's day.  I will miss that sweetness more than I can imagine right now.  So thankful for the time we had together just prior to his passing away. I will treasure those memories forever.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Touching Base

I have this "tea-towel" with its inscription framed and hanging on the wall in my dining room. The inscription speaks for itself.  This was a unique gift from my mother to me for Christmas in 1996, ten years before she passed from this earth to her heavenly home.  She knew that I loved and appreciated "old things", especially when they had some significance in relation to someone I knew and loved.  She also knew that I collected and treasured old teacups and teapots along with most anything to do with "teatime".  With her admonition to "display it to good advantage with your tea things or antiques"...I immediately had it framed and hung it proudly in my "tearoom" dining room.  If I recall correctly, on this particular Christmas we were living in a lovely antique home in Fryeburg, Maine.  Antique in that it was built in 1848, so it definitely qualified. This home was rich in history and local fame.  I wish I could say that it belonged to our family tree, but alas! We were merely fortunate enough to lease it for a year while in between ministries and journeys.  But I digress...that is not what this is about.

I guess I was feeling a bit nostalgic tonight and wanted to touch base with my mother again. You know how children do that? Oftentimes when they are out playing in the yard, sometimes they will just run back in  the house to "touch base" with Mom.  Perhaps needing a little word of comfort for a "boo-boo", or to gift her with a handful of dandelions or other lovely weeds, or to ask for a drink of water or a snack.  Maybe they just feel the need for a hug or some reassurance that everything is okay...and then they are off and running again until the next moment they feel like Mama is a little too far away and they need to touch base once again.

That's how I was feeling. I wanted to run into my Mama's arms and give her a hug and feel her arms around me again.  I wanted to hear her voice calling my name...telling me it's time to come in and get cleaned up for supper.  If I ignored her the first or second time she called, I could always expect her to call me by all three names, "Pamela Anne Mursch, get in this house right now!" Then I knew I'd better get going or I'd find myself in trouble for certain!

I find myself also longing to hear my Father's voice...yes, of course my earthly father, whom I miss greatly since he left this world for heaven too...but in this case, it is my heavenly Father's voice that I am longing to hear.  I find that I often need to "touch base" with Him as well...to run back inside His arms and feel His loving embrace and hear His words of comfort and reassurance that everything is going to be okay.  I sometimes literally run into His presence and want to show Him my "boo-boos", and ask Him to make them go away. Sometimes He does just that...He binds up my wounds and takes away my scars so that I don't have to be ashamed of them anymore.

Then again, there are times that He says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  and He gives me the strength I need to carry on and keep going in spite of my "boo-boos".

I am looking forward to the day when I will hear Jesus call my name...when He will say to me,

"Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world..." (Matthew 25:34)

I hope I won't make Him have to call me more than once.  I have a feeling I'll be ready to obey His voice immediately.  Why? Because I know where He's calling me to go.  Listen to what He told His disciples before He left them for heaven:

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
In My Father's house are many mansions; 
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; 
that where I am, there you may be also.
And where I go you know, and the way you know."
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, 
and how can we know the way?"
Jesus said to him,
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father
except through Me."
John 14:1-6

So, how about you? Have you "touched base" with your "Father" lately? Your Heavenly Father, that is? Are you ready to go when He calls your name?  I hope you won't make Him call you more than once...
Better get ready...it's almost "supper time"...

Here's an old song that I'm sure many of you will remember... talk about being nostalgic...sorry...but it's a good one...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Just What Is Faith? UPDATED

UPDATE: This was originally posted back in April of 2010, not long after we had learned that our adult son was diagnosed with cancer.  It has been exactly four years, and he is nearing the end of that journey (if the Doctor is right), but his faith and ours has not wavered. Oh, it has been tested and tried plenty...and we've had to relinquish "control" of his care and future completely to God. But our hope and faith is still based squarely on His divine love for His children. He has not and will not fail. Regardless of the earthly outcome.
That being said, here is where I was four years ago...

April 29, 2010

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Faith...a five letter word...seemingly insignificant, and yet, in reality, it is one of the biggest and most difficult words ever uttered.  Why? I guess because in order to have faith, we have to trust in something or SomeONE greater than ourselves. We have to let go of our preconceived ideas of what WE think is best for our lives and be willing to allow God to direct our paths...even when we can't see where the road is leading us. 

A few years back there was a slogan going around in the religious realm that said, "Let go, and Let GOD!"  and that little saying has come back to "haunt" or "taunt" me many times throughout my life.  For those of you who know me personally, you know that I tend to be a person who likes to be "in control".  Some would say, "controlling", others have accused me of being "bossy"...(some of you may be reading this right now...no need to write any comments at the bottom! LOL)   I tend to be the one who gets everyone up and moving when there is a lull in the conversation or party, or committee meeting, or whatever...goes back to my high school cheerleading days at good old THS!  Perhaps because  of my "natural tendencies" to be a leader and boss, God has had to go to extreme measures at times to teach me humility.  There have been times when my boldness has led to embarrassing moments when I wished I could have crawled under the carpet and slithered out the back door and never returned to face those who had witnessed my shame. 

So what has this got to do with "faith"?  Throughout the years God has been teaching me about faith...oftentimes through decisions and choices that placed us into difficult circumstances, either because we made a bold move without first counting the cost , or because we truly believed it was what God was telling us to do and we were answering the call. Either way, whether it was by our own foolishness (or the appearance of such to the rest of the world), or because we were obeying the "call", I can honestly say that God has NEVER let us down.  Oh, yes, we've squirmed a bit and worried and fretted and doubted God's purpose, and second guessed if we had heard God right or not...but at the end of the day, I can honestly say, God NEVER LET US DOWN.  When we made the decision to let go of our own will, our own "security", our own dreams and schemes and fully trust God, He did NOT let go of us.  He grasped onto us all the tighter and held us closely to His breast, and carried us through the storms of life that raged about us. 

Right now our family is going through another storm, the serious illness of our middle son, Matt.  Matthew is a child of God, and a precious son, husband, brother, and father.  If I could pass on any gift to him right now, it would be the gift of faith.  Actually, I believe God has already filled him with this gift, and he has had to use it many times in his own life.  But probably never as much as now.  He is going through some deep water, but with the eyes of faith he can see the light at the end of this tunnel...and that helps steer him forward to the reward of renewed strength and health. He may need some extra encouragement throughout these next months to keep reaching toward that light...and that's where we come in...you and me and everyone else out there...Your prayers, your words of encouragement and hope bring renewed faith and courage.  Don't ever doubt the value of your offerings.  Whether by prayer, email, facebook, cards, phone calls, whatever way the Lord leads, it brings hope and healing...not just for Matt, but for the many others out there in need of such help...and there are many.  Perhaps even you need that hope and faith from time to time....

Matthew 7: 7-8 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Hats of My Life ~ A Random Journal Day Experience

Today is "Random Journal Day" for those of us who like to peruse our old journals and files and bring something out from the past to share with you.  Today I have found something that I not only wrote, but presented to a women's group at one of our churches about twenty one years ago.  So if things seems a little out of date, that's because it was written for ladies who still had not crossed over into the 21st Century! Wow! Can I even be this old today???  Anyway, I hope that you will enjoy this little "presentation" from the annals of time.  And then go over to "Enthusiastically Dawn" Random Journal Day to see what others are writing these days!

June 7, 1993

      Today I am wearing my favorite hat! 
Me, in my "favorite hat",
dressed as an "Old Fashioned
Girl", right after finding this
hat on the shopping trip with my
mother, 1989.
You may think it a bit unusual or even funny looking.  And you're probably right!  But I like this hat.  It makes me feel like a grand lady from a "kinder, gentler" time...this hat was purchased in a quaint, dusty, cluttered, unique antique's store in Ohio. I happened to be browsing through this "museum" to the days gone by with my parents, who were visiting me from Florida.  One of our favorite things to do when we get together is go jaunting around the countryside in search of out of the way country curiosity shops, or antique stores, or anything that looks interesting and unusual.  We rarely spend much money...just browse and dream of those good old days when people actually knew what all those things were and what to do with them!  I dug up this particular hat out of an old dusty treasure chest full of miscellaneous accessories like silk scarves, faded gloves, and other interesting hats.  I tried it on just for the fun of it...and my mother said it was just perfect for me...so I bought it.  I believe it cost me a whole $2.00!  Not a bad bargain, wouldn't you agree?

I'd like to talk to you today about the "HATS OF MY LIFE"!  No, I really don't have a closet full of these funny looking hats...but there have been many hats in my life that are important to me.


When I was a child, my sister and I used to weave hats of circlets of flowers for our hair.  You know, things like dandelions, apple blossoms, forsythia, and other spring blossoms. Of course, they didn't last long with all of the handling of their tender blooms, and they were soon discarded on the scrap heap of our childish playthings. But you know, "when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a woman, I put away childish things." (I Cor. 13:11). (or did I?)

The day finally came when I was pronounced to be competent to finish my schooling...I was presented with a diploma, and my tassle was turned to the other side to signify to the world that I was ready to join the ranks of the educated people of the world...full of wisdom and ready to set out and conquer. God's Word says in James 3:13-18 that she who is "wise and understanding among us should show it by good conduct......and where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." 

By God's standards, I still had a long way to go! 

BRIDAL VEIL:  Soon the day came along that I was able to put on this bridal veil! What a glorious day that was in my life...and with the wearing of this hat came many other hats! I began first of all to learn what it means in God's Word when it says in I Corinthians 11:3:

            "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."... also in verses 7-12: "woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man, nor was man created for the woman, but the woman for the man...for this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.  Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as the woman was from the man, even so the man also is through the woman; but all things are from God."  

And in Ephesians 5:22-33 it teaches us that we are to:
"submit to our own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the Body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything......etc.

That passage ends up by saying in verse 33: "let the wife see that she respects her husband."

      Now, that was (and is!) a hard lesson to learn!  Amen??  Especially in this day and age when the "world" tells us that we ought to get out there and fight like a man for our rights and all the "privileges" that go along with that!!  That's why today so many women are wearing so many different hats...HARD HATS, POLICE HATS, SOLDIER HATS,  ETC.  Not that I think it is wrong for women to work outside of the home...but I believe we need to examine our motives when we do go to work.  We all have to work at some time or another...and there are many noble professions for women today.  We do have some rights and privileges that our grandmother's couldn't have that are beneficial.  But at the same time, we need to remember where our true calling is in life and keep that as a priority.  The order of progression ideally should be in this way:

   1.   I am a child of God first, and my relationship with God should be my top priority in life.

         2.  I am a wife and a helpmate to my husband next, and that relationship needs to remain in that position always.

         3.  I am a mother of my children next...and all the needs of the world should not keep me from meeting my priorities in childrearing and nurturing.

        4. Then I am a woman of the church next...in my case, the pastor's wife...and according to whom you are talking to, the job description can be as long as anyone's imagination will allow.  This is where careful prioritizing of time and energies must be carried out.  Too many pastor's wives are suffering from "burn-out" and stress today.  They must keep their own channel to God uncluttered so that they can be available to meet the needs of their husbands when they get overloaded.

      Now all of the above mentioned positions involve wearing many other hats. As a wife, we many times wear the hat of secretary, maid, cook, co-pilot, bookkeeper, office manager, encourager, exhorter, of course lover, and confidant.  I'm sure some of you could add to this list.

      Then as a mother, the list of new hats grows even longer:  nurse, teacher, protector, advocate, den-mother, room-mother, seamstress, room designer, taxi cab driver, secretary, maid, cook, disciplinarian, encourager, counselor....

      As a woman of the church, we add many more hats to the list...musician, singer, teacher, flower arranger, pray-er, leader, discipler, exhorter, evangelist, puppeteer, writer, deaconess, hostess, cook, dishwasher, social worker.

TITUS WOMAN (Old black hat)  

      When I went to one of our former churches as the Pastor's wife, I was asked if I would like to become the "Titus Woman" for our MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) program. Then when I came to our current church, I was asked to lead our "Woman to Woman" program, based on this same "Titus  Woman." Before I could commit myself to being this "Titus Woman", I had to find out just what a "Titus Woman" was supposed to be.  So I looked, where else? In the book of Titus and there I found her in Chapter 2, verses 3-5.  This is what it says:  "The OLDER WOMEN likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."

      OLDER WOMAN???, ME????   Well, I guess just because I no longer have any "preschoolers", I am now considered an "older woman".  I mean, just because I've been married almost 24 years, (at the time of this writing) have three sons aged 21&1/2, 20, and 16,  and one of which is getting married two months from today - (praise the Lord to a wonderful Christian girl whom I am very pleased and proud to call my daughter-in-love (law) - does that qualify me as an "older woman?"  Just because I happened to turn 4-0 not too many years
Me, at the time of this writing in 1993
(trying NOT to look like an "Older Woman")
ago...Gee whiz, do they have to rub it in?  But I had to come to terms with the fact that, yes, I am getting older (and hopefully better), and that our younger women do need "role models" for their lives.  I'm not too sure I'd want any young woman to model her life after mine, but there is always that risk when you become a leader in any circle.  Our young women today are hungry for guidance, for encouragement, and for someone to be a "mother figure" to them.  Many of us have moved away from our own natural mothers in the search for happiness and fulfillment in careers, or have followed our husbands in their search far away from home. Our communities have become so diverse in multi-cultural backgrounds  that it is sometimes difficult to get too close to anyone.  In many churches today, our "older women" are working, helping to put the kids through college, etc. and there just aren't too many motherly types available to lead the way. 

      Stepping into those "mature years" can be the opportunity for many to serve the Lord in several different ways that weren't possible while they were raising their own children.  To be a "grandmother" to some family who is displaced from their own family can be very rewarding for both the giver and the recipient. Or to be a "mother" to a young bride or career girl away from home and family who just needs someone to talk to can bring such blessings to both.

     But for many of us caught in the daily grind of living in this almost 21st century, the list of hats we wear could be exhausting.  As women today who all wear too many hats, we need a shield and defender, and a covering that shelters us from many storms of life.  Jesus wishes to provide that covering for us. 

In Isaiah 61:10, the prophet Isaiah says" "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." 

       Psalm 91 tells us:  "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."  Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.  He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge."  His truth shall be your shield and buckler.  You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday...A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.  Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. 

      Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your habitation, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.    You shall tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. 

      Because he has set his love upon ME, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My Name.  He shall call upon ME, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.  With LONG LIFE I WILL SATISFY HIM, AND SHOW HIM MY SALVATION."


      I Corinthians 9:24-25 says, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." 

      II Timothy 4:8 says: "Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing." 

      James 1:12 says:  "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

      Yes, we will wear many different kinds of hats, or coverings in our lifetime. And perhaps in the life to come as well, but the most important covering is the covering of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ.  When He gave His life freely on the cross, the Blood He shed was meant as a 'covering' for our sins.

On the day that Jesus died, He, too, had to wear a kind of hat:

that was placed upon His head by Pilate's soldiers. The soldiers mocked Him, beat Him, and spat upon Him...they said, "Hail! King of the Jews!"Then they led Him to a cross and nailed Him there, and left Him there to die.  And Jesus Did die on that cross,  and He was buried in the tomb, but we can praise God today that  He didn't stay in that tomb.  In three days He came forth from the grave ALIVE!  He then ascended to His Father in Heaven after 40 days of further ministry to His disciples...and He said to them and to us:

      "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know."  John 14:1-4 

      In verse 5 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"   in verse 6 Jesus replied:

      "I am the Way, the Truth, and The Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him."

      Revelation 4:1,8-11:  After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.  And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.:"

8. And the four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within.  And they do not rest day or night saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"....10: the 24 elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

11. 'You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."

      Because of that Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore, we will find ourselves unworthy to wear the crowns that He gives to us. We will one day stand before our glorious King, the Spotless Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world, and we too, will cast our crowns at His feet and bow down and worship.

      I hope that everyone here will be among that thankful multitude in heaven someday. 

Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that "God has highly exalted Him and has given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

      Romans 14:10 says that "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ...and verse 12 says "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God".  

       Hebrews 5:12-13 says "For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is NO Creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."

      But I don't want to leave you there trembling in your boots!  Hebrews goes on to say that Jesus is our "great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, so let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come BOLDLY to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

      Jesus is our advocate before the Father. He pleads our case.  He has paid the price for our sins already.  All we have to do is repent of those sins, accept His forgiveness, and believe that He will cover us with His blood.  He remembers our sins no more.  They are washed whiter than snow. 

      Do you know this Jesus?  Wouldn't you love to know that your sins are covered? This covering or hat that He offers is free....all you have to do is receive it.  Won't you do that today?