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, September 26, 2014

Humbled and Awed..."Just Because"

I am so humbled and awed by the unexpected gifts that have been given to me this week. Yes, it was my birthday, but these were gifts given that I was totally unprepared for...

It all started with this lovely teacup...Wait a minute...it actually started a couple of weeks ago with this little Canon Camera...a gift from someone who barely knows me but who went to high school with my sister and was a few years ahead of me...and he heard of my problems with my camera and just happened to have this one laying around that he didn't need...so he sent it to me in the mail "just because..."

 And THEN came this lovely teacup...a gift from a dear friend ...not necessarily for my birthday...but "just because"...., which brought tears to my eyes and lots of hugs...

Then came this delightful little apron in the mail, made with love by one of my childhood girlfriends...totally caught me off guard again...

And then today some dear friends from one of our past church ministries came by for a visit and brought us home-canned vegetables and fruits from their garden, along with fresh eggs from their range free chickens and other food items from their farm...and a little basket of rose petals simply because they smelled so sweet and she knew how I loved them... (btw...they didn't know it was my birthday yesterday...they just wanted to come and spend some time with us! "Just Because!")

Of course, the sign above the kitchen sink, a labor of love from my carpenter son continues to make me smile and sing every time I walk into my kitchen...

Oh....and I must not forget the gift of fall mums that mysteriously appeared on my doorstep yesterday...one from my sweet son, and the other from my friend and neighbor that I call my personal flower lady (and her hubby)...they sell flowers at the Salt Springs Flea Market every Saturday morning...but these were a gift...

  All in all, it's been an amazing week. And it's not over yet. I meet with my family and friends tomorrow for lunch and apple pie..."Just because"....well, it is because of my birthday...BUT, all of this has been so overwhelming and humbling to me.  Oh, and not to mention the many words of birthday love sent to me all day yesterday on Facebook from friends and family and people I've never even met in person..."just because"....and then some cards in the mail and on email and then the banana nut bread from a dear sweet 87 year old lady who volunteers each week at the church where I work...

And not to forget the best gift of all from my sweet grandson and daughter in law...a phone call from Maine, singing "Happy Birthday dear Grandma", and yes, I must admit it hurt me deep inside my heart that my own dear son was not there singing with them...but I know where he is...and I'm sure he's singing to me along with all the angel choir, joined by my mom and dad and grandparents and all the other ancestors I've yet to meet. And I feel comforted by that thought.

Yes, I am humbled and awed by it all..."just because."

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
always making request for you all with joy..."
Philippians 1:3-4

"Just because..."

P.S. added after I thought about this all night, and I wrote this in my reply to one of my friend's comments below.. "It reminds me of the verse in Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Amen. That is just how I feel today."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"I Am Not Worthy"

Have you ever had a song in your head and you couldn't quite remember it all, but it became an obsession to find it?  That's where I was tonight.  So I went online http://www.namethathymn.com/and typed in the title, and finally found the lyrics and the composer:

"I Am Not Worthy" by Beatrice Bush Bixler.  

I also found out that Mrs. Bixler passed away in November of 2013 at the age of 97, having written many such songs, but they never truly received the attention that they should have.  

This particular song I remember hearing first in a Christian & Missionary Alliance church, but I don't know which one or when.  My husband served as a pastor in this denomination from the late 1970's through the early 1990's, and after hearing this song I soon learned it and sang it many times.  Come to find out, Mrs. Bixler was also a member of the C&MA, and she sang at many conferences and churches throughout the years...I may have actually heard her sing it at one time, but I am not certain.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I have already received a couple of "surprise" birthday gifts from totally unexpected sources...and this is how this song came into my mind tonight.  I felt unworthy to receive such thoughtful and sweet gifts from these dear ones, and it reminded me of what Jesus has done for me...also totally unmerited and unexpected...

The words to this song express it best, so I will share them with you here.

"I am not worthy the least of His favor, 

But Jesus left heaven for me; 
The Word became flesh and He died as my Savior, 
Forsaken on dark Calvary. 

I am not worthy this dull tongue repeats it!  
I am not worthy this heart gladly beats it? 
Jesus left heaven to die in my place 
What mercy, what love and what grace! 

I am not worthy the least of His favor, 
But "In the beloved" I stand; 
Now I'm an heir with my wonderful Savior, 
And all things are mine at His hand.


I am not worthy the least of His favor, 
But He is preparing a place 
Where I shall dwell with my glorified Savior, 
Forever to look on His face."


Words and Music by Beatrice Bush Bixler

Copyright 1949 by Singspiration, Inc.

If you would like to hear Mrs. Bixler singing this song herself, you may listen here.

I am happy to report that I found my own copy of this music in an ancient file cabinet full of old sheet music and songbooks that I've saved for all these years.  I don't do much singing anymore, at least not as a soloist.  Age has a way of changing the vocal chords, along with lack of practice and exercise.  But one of my "birthday gifts", lovingly created for my kitchen window by my carpenter son, inspires me to smile and sing every time I walk into the kitchen.  These windows look out into the woods next to our house, and we never know what we might see out there...but most often we see many different birds winging their way from tree to tree, singing their songs of joy as they go about their daily routine of gathering seeds, fruits, insects and worms to feed their families and keep themselves able to fly and sing.  This particular cornice board above the windows needed a message...
(windows before)
and the more I thought about it, the only message that made sense to me was this:

and after...
So now, my heart and soul sing out with the birds as I stand at the window and wash the dishes and prepare our meals...and daydream about the things I'd love to do someday...or pray for friends and loved ones as the Lord lays them on my mind...and think about how...

 "I am not worthy...this dull tongue repeats it! I am not worthy, this heart gladly beats it!" But,
"Jesus left heaven to die in my place! What mercy, what love, and what grace!"

I don't feel worthy of the gifts I've received...more than just the physical birthday gifts...also the gift of salvation. I'm not good.  I've sinned and have fallen short of God's Glory,  (Romans 3:23),and "the wages of sin is death...but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)   Because of Jesus, I AM WORTHY!!!  Not because of any good I have done, but only because of Jesus.

The greatest "birthday gift" of all is this gift of new life...eternal life...through Jesus Christ.  Because of Him, I can enjoy my birthday tomorrow, knowing that because of my "Second" birthday, the day I accepted His free gift of salvation...I will one day accept my inheritance of heaven..."forever to look on His face."

I hope you've received this wonderful gift too.  Even if you feel "unworthy" to accept it...Jesus wants you to have it.  So go ahead and take it, it's FREE!

Friday, September 19, 2014

"A Friend Loves at All Times..."

"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

Yes, a friend DOES love at all times...even after a lifetime of friendship! Today I was blessed to spend a little time with a few of my childhood girlfriends...girls that, for the most part, I have known since we attended school together in the first grade all the way through graduation twelve years later.  Some new friends came along during that time, and some others moved away, but even so, we are still friends, having known each other almost sixty years! (I can't believe that can be possible...that sounds so OLD...and we are still so young!)

This kind of friendship is truly a gift from God. We are women who love the Lord, and we love one another. What could be better than that? I can honestly say, I am blessed to have been a part of such a bond of friendship for so many years.  We have seen each other at our worst, and also at our best. We learned our ABC's together, struggled through difficult arithmetic problems, and shared our deepest secrets with one another as we progressed from childhood into puberty and into the early stages of young womanhood.  We rejoiced as we received awards, and we pulled each other up as we sometimes missed the mark and suffered defeat. We cried on each other's shoulders when there was a bad "break-up" with a favorite beau, and cheered when someone better came along to make our hearts sing. 

Even though most of us moved on after graduation from high school to bigger places and different worlds, somehow over the years we have gravitated back "home" and have found such joy in reuniting with one another again.  We've raised our babies, and most are now grandmothers. We've had our ups and downs, heartbreaks, disappointments, but we still have joy in our hearts and hope for our futures.

That's what true friendship is all about...even after so many years we can still come together and laugh and cry tears of joy as we reminisce about the "good old days"...and we can encourage each other with words of love and prayers of comfort.  

I like the Proverb that says, "A merry heart does good, like a medicine..." (Proverbs 17:20)...and that goes along with this kind of friendship...being joyful, laughing together, sharing sweet memories...which also does good like a medicine.  

The second part of that Proverb says, "but a broken spirit dries the bones."  Sometimes when we are feeling lost and alone, with a hurting and broken spirit, we do feel like our bones are just plain dried up and our cup of joy is nothing but dregs. That's when we need our friends the most.  Perhaps you don't have any childhood girlfriends to reach out to, but hopefully you have found some special people in your life who can be there for you in the here and now.  Another Proverb (18:24) says,

"A man (woman) who has friends must himself (herself) be friendly..."

I know there have been many times in my life when I wasn't near my childhood girlfriends, and I found myself struggling to find a friend that I could trust.  The rest of verse 24 above says, 

"But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

Who is that friend? I hope you already know the answer...it's Jesus, the Friend of all friends, the One Who loves you better than any earthly friend could ever begin to love you. Earthly friends, as wonderful as they are, can't always be there for us. They may want to be there...and may try really hard to meet our needs, but we human beings are only able to do so much. We fall short. Jesus is the only Friend Who can fill our hearts with peace, bring lasting comfort to a broken heart, lift us up when we are sinking in the pit of sin and despair, and turn our lives around and give everlasting hope and so much more...yes, even eternal life!  I hope you already know this Magnificent Friend.  

Jesus says, "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."  Matthew 11:28-30

The Book of Isaiah, chapter 1, verse 18 says:

"Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD,
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they be red like crimson,
They shall be as wool."

The David Crowder Band has recently come out with a new song that I have heard on the radio this past week, and it really spoke to my heart. Here are the lyrics:

"Come out of sadness
From wherever you've been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There's hope for the hopeless
And all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace

There's rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't cure

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart

Come as you are
Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are

There's joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You're not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are"

Click here  for the "Come as You Are" YouTube Video of David Crowder band...Please watch and listen, and "lay down your burdens...lay down your shame...all who are broken, lift up your face. Oh wanderer come home...you're not too far..." 

This post ended up differently than I originally thought...but someone out there needs this message tonight. I hope it has brought hope and comfort to you as it has me.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"In Quietness and Confidence..."

"In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."
Isaiah 30:15

"Sibyl" by F. Graham Cootes
as seen in the book
The Eyes of the World
by Harold Bell Wright, copyright 1914

I've been reading this vintage book the past few days, The Eyes of the World, by Harold Bell Wright, written in 1914. The frontispiece is this charming picture above.  Isn't she lovely? In my view, this young maiden represents the image of a woman of true beauty and grace. The Bible verse above..."In quietness and confidence shall be your strength,"  is exemplified in her calm, serene expression. (I love the Irish Setter's expression of trust and admiration as well. Isn't he gorgeous?)

I find myself wishing I could emulate the confidence of this young lady in my own attitude and actions.  All too often my first reaction to stressful or difficult situations is to become defensive or protective of my own position, which is probably a normal reaction, but it is not necessarily the best reaction.

My "One Word" choice for 2014 is the word "Strengthen".  As I look back over the past eight + months of this year, I can see how God has been putting me through some pretty strong strengthening exercises.  If you have followed this blog very long, you have a pretty good idea what I am speaking of without me having to go back over it all again. Am I getting stronger? Well, maybe not so much in the physical sense, but inwardly, spiritually, emotionally? Hmmm, I have to think about that as well. Oftentimes we cannot measure our own increasing strength.  It has to be put to the test. Frankly, I'm not so sure I want to be put through anymore tests.  I'd like to cry "Uncle!" and say "Enough!"   And yet, I know that my tests, as heartbreaking and sorrowful as they have been, have not been nearly as hard as what many others have endured. I am thankful for God's great mercy and graciousness toward me and my family. If I have been strengthened at all, it is in this one regard...I am thankful for His kindness and mercy.

Sometimes it seems that we are allowed to go through difficulties in life to bring us to a place of trust in God's mercy and grace. Perhaps He is waiting and watching, ready to lend us aid at any moment, but like a parent teaching a child how to walk, ride a bike or how to swim, He holds back and lets us try it on our own first.  If He always made the way easy, or did things for us, we would never learn how to stand on our own.  We would never be able to run with confidence...and rather than grow stronger, we would become weaker and lack the stamina to hang in there when the going gets tough.

The end result of these tests should bring us back to that place of "rest"...."In returning and rest you shall be saved..." and in the process we learn what it means..."In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."  No one who knows me has ever commented on my "quietness"...it is not one of my normal characteristics to be "quiet" for very long.  But as we grow in confidence and strength in the Lord, there is a "quietness" of the spirit...a calming of the heart and mind that comes with maturity and the knowledge that God is in control in all things.

I like these verses further on in the passage:

"Therefore the Lord will wait,
that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him." 
Isaiah 30:18

He will wait for me to "firm up" in the process of these strengthening exercises. He knows that when I reach that place of "quietness and confidence" He will show me His grace and mercy, and He will be exalted...and I will be blessed.

Thank you, Lord, for your graciousness and mercy shown to me.  Thank you for waiting for me...and I'm so glad I've waited for You.  Amen.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Random Journal Day ~ "Today Was A Good Day"

Today is the first Friday of the month, and therefore, to those of us out here in "blogland", it is also known as "Random Journal Day"...the day where we are supposed to randomly select an old journal entry and share it here with the whole world.  My journal entry selections are somewhat "random", but I do read through it first to be sure it is suitable for the whole world to see.  Wouldn't want to embarrass anyone, especially myself!

So, today I was looking through my favorite old journal,
really the first one that I ever attempted to write on a regular basis.  The whole book is 210 pages long, and it spans almost five years of my life! These years were during our early years of serving in the ministry, and I found this a good way to work through some of the frustrations and blessings of being the wife of a minister and the mother of three "preacher's kids".  Obviously, I can't just share everything...I try to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.

Today's choice is not too "revealing", but it is a time of praise and thankfulness out of the abundance of my overflowing heart.  So here goes:

Saturday, November 2, 1985

"Today was a good day.  Our church has been growing so wonderfully~God has really blessed.  A member of our church wanted to do something to help, so he donated new pews to the church.  Today was "moving the pews" day, so a good number of people were there for a work day~not only moving pews, but raking leaves and cleaning around the church.  There was such a good spirit there~it was a real blessing.  I can't wait to see everyone there tomorrow "packing the pews."

"We praise Thee oh, God, for the Son of Thy love...
For Jesus who died and is now gone above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah, Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Revive us again!"
(Hymn: "Revive Us Again", written by William P. Mackay, 1839-1885)

Tomorrow is also Communion Sunday, a time of uniting our hearts in remembrance of what Christ did for us on Calvary~it should really be a great day in the house of the Lord.

"God is so good, God is so good,
God is so good, He's so good to me."
(chorus, unknown origin)

Thank you, Lord, for Your answers to prayer. We know that You are on the throne, and that nothing is impossible with Thee.  We are anxiously looking forward to what You are going to do next!
Thank you, Jesus.  Amen."

Here it is 29 years later...(can it really be that long, Lord?), and I can honestly say that I am still praising our heavenly Father for His infinite goodness to us.  I am happy that I stumbled across this "random" journal entry today. It reminded me of the ways that God has never forsaken or forgotten us throughout these many years since. He continues to answer prayers and blesses us above and beyond all we could ever ask or think. If He did that for us in the past, I know He will continue to do so in the future. No matter what this old world may throw at us.  God is still so good...He's so good to me! 

Now, go here  to see what other fellow bloggers are writing about this time!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I've had a little lesson in perception this week. Some good, some not so good. About myself. And about human nature in general I suppose.  Have you ever wondered how other people see you?  I guess I never really thought that much about it, at least not that I ever really dwelt on consciously.  But I think subconsciously I've thought about it a lot more than I like to admit.  And I discovered something.  I really didn't know how other people saw me.  I probably still don't.  Let me tell you what happened so you'll get the picture. Speaking of which:

"The Picture"
I was informed by several of my childhood friends this week that the little girl on the left in this picture is me.
I argued and argued that it couldn't be me "because I was never that little!"  My girlfriends, including the one on the right in this picture informed me that it was definitely me, and that she and the other girl who actually took this picture said that they were tall for their age at this time (we were in 6th grade), and that they were bigger than me, and that this was definitely me. I had never seen this picture before, and as I scanned the features of the young girl in such a silly pose with her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth and wearing a crazy jaunty little hat sporting a very tall plume on top, I honestly could not believe that it was truly me. I don't remember the bathing suit. I don't remember the hat, although as I thought more and more about it, it seems as though we did go to the county fair and probably bought those hats there.

This was supposedly at our 6th grade class picnic at the end of the school year.  And as I thought about it, the other girls who were so much taller and more "matured" than I in most areas of young girlhood, were actually several months older than I was.  My birthday is in late September, and back in those days we could start first grade as long as we turned six years old before the end of December.  Since then that policy has changed, and a child must now turn six prior to September 1st in order to start first grade. So, by today's standards, my girlfriends and I would never have been allowed to be in the same grade together! I would have been held back another year...and Oh! What a tragedy that would have been! When I think about that possibility, I thank the good Lord for the policy that we had when I started school, because I don't think I would be the same person today if I had been forced to grow up with different children in a different age category.  (We were blessed in that most of us stayed in the same school all 12 years and graduated together.  A rare occurrence in this day and age.)

Anyway, I digress...  While this "conversation" about this particular picture was going on in a "Facebook" dialogue, one of our other former young girlfriends was also having an issue with her own self-perception as we, (mostly me) most vociferously challenged this now mature woman (my same age) that the pictures posted of her were most definitely her. She could not believe it, and even denied that she ever wore the particular clothes and shoes that she was wearing in the picture (again, back in our early school days), and that she was never that "fat" (she wasn't fat...just normal 6th grade girl shape), and she wasn't even too sure that she was still attending the same school with us in that particular year.  I found myself almost regressing into a kind of school girl bully in challenging this now  60+ year old woman that the picture was most definitely her, and that we must know her better than she knew herself because we had several different "witnesses" testify that the picture was indeed her! (One "witness" was her own brother!)

As this "conversation" continued on, it became apparent that she was growing frustrated with us (me) and I discovered that I had a real problem.  I just had to prove my point! I could not let go of this discussion and became rather obnoxious in my determination to be right!  And yet, I was doing the very same thing myself in that I could not admit or believe that the picture of me could really be me either! My own perception of myself was a totally different image.

That's when it hit me.  I really haven't grown up very much since the 6th grade. I still have this need to "prove my point", and always be right!  (Just ask my family). When things are pointed out to me about myself, I want to argue or deny the obvious truth.  I don't want to admit that I could ever possibly be wrong. As this realization dawned on me I found myself actually walking around in my front yard telling myself that I needed to give it up and grow up.  I also needed to apologize to a certain "old friend".

So, how about you? What is your self-perception? Have you ever seen yourself as others see you? Maybe not just in an old schoolgirl picture, but now, as an adult? It's kind of scary. I don't like what I see in me, and I need to make some changes.

"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 man (woman), I put away childish things.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love."
I Corinthians 13:11-13

It's time for me to put away childish things, attitudes, behaviors, and act like the woman God has created me to be.  I need to also practice sharing the love that He has shown me.  Never too old to learn something new.
Here I am (far right) with some of those same girls a few months later. (Halloween)
I was beginning to 'catch up' with them, finally!