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, October 22, 2014

Blessed to Be a Blessing - Updated 10/22/2014

(Originally posted on 11/11/12. ) I just read this again and thought...I still feel the same way about our house and home...and in some ways, little by little, our ideas and dreams are being fulfilled. But it is taking longer than I'd like it to...I'm impatient for God to open up the heavens and floodgates and pour out His blessing on us in ways that we cannot imagine...and yet, I know He is already doing just that. I need to open my spiritual eyes to see what the Lord is doing...and keep my eyes off of the world and its circumstances that tend to drag me down. I am glad I re-read this today. I needed to be reminded of the original dream and plan...and not give up hope.  How about you? Do you need a fresh start on your dreams and plans?  Perhaps we just need to recommit ourselves and our plans to God, and remember that His timing is always perfect...and His plans are the very best!

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,
Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

Back to the Original Post:
November 11, 2012

When we came home from church today and entered the house, the very first words that came to my mind were "I am blessed to be a blessing."  We had just had a very stirring and uplifting tribute to our Veterans in our church service, and it made me feel so thankful and proud to be an American, and to live in one of the most blessed nations in the world. 

Holly Tree outside my bedroom "Open Window"
(click on pictures to enlarge)

But this is not intended to be a patriotic message.  My thoughts are on a more personal level.  I walked into my bedroom to change my clothes, and as I looked outside the windows of our room into the trees and bushes in our back yard I just suddenly felt this sense of being blessed.  There's nothing particularly special or spectacular about our trees and bushes, (although I did notice that one of the trees is a holly tree and is loaded with beautiful red holly berries...that's pretty special since I never realized it was a holly tree until recently!)

closer view of the holly berries in the tree outside my bedroom window
I just felt so overwhelmed with thankfulness for this home, in this place, at this time.  We have lived in a LOT of homes over the 43 years of our marriage.  I will not even tell you how many homes because you wouldn't believe it, and probably would not understand it, and it would take a whole book to explain it (which is the book I intend to write someday).  This home came to us miraculously almost one year ago.  No, it wasn't free...we will be paying for it for the rest of our lives, but it is affordable.  It is a house that is meant to be a blessing, and it is.  It is a blessing first of all to us. And because it is such a blessing to us, it is also meant to be a blessing to others. There is no doubt in my mind that God enabled us to have this home because He intended it to be a blessing to us, but He also intended it to be a blessing to others as well.

View outside my bedroom window
View from my bedroom window
View from my bedroom window-Large Magnolia tree on right
So, how? That is the question I've been asking ever since we came here.  The house itself is not anything particularly magnificent.  It is old, it has some issues, but nothing major that some TLC can't fix.  It's not really the physical aspects of the house that make it "special".  It is the "spiritual" aspect that creates the atmosphere for becoming a "blessing".  It's the love inside and outside these walls...it's the hope for becoming something that will bless others...it's the dream that keeps bubbling up to the surface of our minds and won't let go.  It's the drive that  keeps prompting us to "get ready for action".

Maybe it's NOT the house...maybe it's US God is preparing for action.  He has blessed US to be a blessing.  Perhaps the house was the means to get us where He needed us to be to discover the blessing He has in store for us. Possibly.  Time will tell.

What about you?  Have YOU been blessed to be a blessing? I'll bet you have. Think about it. It may not be your house, or your location. But it may be your talents, your gifts, your smile, your voice, your heart. It may be little things, like your gift for baking and sharing with others; the crafts you create and give away as gifts; your listening ears, your open heart, your compassionate soul.  You may be blessed with a gift for writing, photography, painting, music, speaking, teaching, preaching, counseling, caring. Whatever it is that God has blessed you with, the important thing is to use it for His honor and glory.  Don't let it sit idle. 

I believe our home was given to us to be used for God's honor and glory. Not just the house, but our property and our lives.  We've been preparing and getting "our house in order" in more ways than are visible to the human eye. Now we lay it before the Lord and wait for Him to show us the next step. Stay tuned. Be ready to be blessed!

Who said we don't have fall color in Florida?  These are the leaves on the Sycamore
trees in our front yard. I will miss these leaves when they all fall off the trees.

Oh, did I mention that I still want to build a little cabin in the woods?
This is the spot...If I build it, will you come? That's all a part of "the blessing"....
that is, if it is a part of God's plan. Time will tell. Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Spontaneous Joy

"I am the Lord, and there is NO OTHER;
There is NO GOD besides ME.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,

That they may know from the 


That there is NONE besides Me.
I AM the Lord, and there is NO OTHER;

I form the LIGHT


I make peace and create calamity;

I, the Lord, do all these things.

Rain down, you heavens, from above,

and let the skies pour down

Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation,

and let righteousness spring up together.

I, the Lord, have created it."

Isaiah 45:5-8

What is so amazing about these verses is that this was the scripture passage pre-selected for our morning devotions today, which we did not read until after my hubby and I came home from a spontaneous trip to our nearby lake/public boat ramp to watch the sunrise.  These sunrise pictures were taken on two separate mornings this weekend, hopefully the first of many with my sweet husband of 45+ years. I cannot begin to express to you first of all, the joy of viewing God's glorious splendor so early in the morning with my hubby...but also the fact that we did it not once, but twice in the same weekend! 

If you find your relationship with your spouse is lacking 
spontaneity, or you are finding it difficult to make time to communicate with one another, 
why not make an effort to wake up a little earlier next weekend (or weekday if you don't have to go to work), grab your travel mugs of coffee or tea, a camera, and a sweatshirt
and take a ride or walk to wherever you can best view
the sunrise together
and just enjoy!
Take a moment to recognize the
majesty and splendor of God's handiwork...
worship and praise Him together...
and then spend a little extra time
sharing the spontaneous joy of the moment with your mate.
This is the best date we've had in a LONG time.
I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Bridge to the Son

"Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord's Name is to be praised!"
Psalm 113:2-3

As I looked out our living room window the other evening I could see that a glorious sunset was developing just beyond the trees.  I grabbed my camera and hollered for someone to come take me for a ride 
to see the sunset before it went completely down.
My adventuresome son pulled on his shoes, stuffed his wallet in his shorts, grabbed the keys to his truck and said, "Let's go!"
As we raced down the road together in search of the best place to view the sunset I felt like a kid again chasing fireflies at twilight, trying to capture them in my jar before they could get away.
It was exhilarating and thrilling to see the magnificence of God's handiwork at every bend in the road.

Swinging around each curve I'd express my inadequate words of praise at the view flung out across the skies before our eyes.

Suddenly the cares of this world didn't seem so overwhelming and foreboding.

"The Lord is high above all nations,
His glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
Who dwells on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?"
Psalm 113:5-6

 Up ahead of us it appeared as though the road was stretching right up into the
sky...heading straight up into the sunset...

I dubbed this "The Bridge to the Sun", vaguely recalling that there was a movie by the same name,
but certainly not with the same intent or majesty as this view.

Actually, I prefer to call it "The Bridge to the SON"....
reaching up into the heavens to the very Throne of God.
Someday we will travel that road...

"He raises the poor out of the dust,
and lifts the needy out the ash heap, 
That He may seat him with princes...
With the princes of His people.
He grants the barren woman a home,
Like a joyful mother of children.
Praise the Lord!"
Psalm 113:7-9

As the beauty of the moment began to wane, we knew we'd have to turn around and head back home.
But I didn't want to leave this glorious moment behind.

I took one last look, and praised the God Who created the heavens and the earth.

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!"
Psalm 84:11-12

"Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord!"
Psalm 113:1

Thank you, Lord, for the ways You choose to give us hope and encouragement at just the right times.
Your Word says:
"Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart."
(Psalm 37:4)

Only You know the desires of our heart. We do delight in You, O Lord. We trust in You, commit our ways to You, and wait patiently on You. We give You praise for the ways You will answer our prayers.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Change of Plans

This weekend brought a change in plans for me.  And that's okay.  My original plan was to attend the memorial service of someone very dear to me...the Pastor who married my husband and me 45+ years ago. He (and his sweet wife, who had already preceded him to heaven about a year ago) had a profoundly positive impact on my life, which helped to change my direction to follow God and go wherever He would lead me. I truly wanted to go to that service and celebrate the life of one who had served God faithfully all his life...97 years! I also wanted to show my support to his family, especially his daughter, who was one of my high school friends as well as the person who sang at our wedding. But God had another plan for me this weekend.

My sweet 91 year old mother-in-law recently left her own home and moved in with my husband's brother and his family. She had fought hard to stay independent all these years, but finally surrendered to the fact that it was time for her to quit fighting so hard and allow others help her be safe, secure, and no longer alone.  My brother-in-law and wife have two young school-age children, and the challenges of having a 91 year old grandma living under the same roof with two very active kids can sometimes be difficult to navigate.

So, the kids had a long weekend off from school, and the family wanted  (needed) to get away for a little while. And "Nanny" (Grandma) came to stay with us for the weekend. Now, at first I will tell you that I had planned to go ahead and go to the memorial service on Friday as planned. My husband could stay at home with his mother and everything would be fine.  But when she arrived the evening before, I took one look at her and realized that I could not leave her for several hours while I traveled to another county for that service. She was like a frightened, anxious, clinging child. Yes, she is showing signs of dementia...not severe, but enough to create anxiety and forgetfulness and childish behavior at times. There was no way I could look into her eyes and tell her that I was going to leave her even for a short while when she was already feeling like she was being "sent away" for the weekend from her new home. Now, please do not misunderstand. Her son and family did not ever intentionally make her feel that way. They have been so very loving and caring and gracious with her. But they truly needed a break with their kids. And we wanted them to be able to do that and we definitely wanted her to come spend some time with us.

And so I had a choice to make. It didn't take me very long to recognize what I needed to do. She never even knew that I had other plans, and that's the way I wanted it to remain. I am not telling you this to ask for any praise or otherwise. But my hope is that it will help others in similar situations realize what is more important.  My will vs. helping someone feel comforted and secure.
My sweet mother-in-law, enjoying a special moment holding
my "Baby Elva"...a gift from a good friend

As the weekend progressed, we had many opportunities to share precious memories and show love for one another.  She demonstrated and responded to me in so many ways her love for me as her daughter in law for these many years. I think there was a lot more going on here than just taking care of my mother in law for the weekend. As it turned out, we invited some other mutual friends and family over for a special lunch on Saturday, and she helped me in so many little ways to prepare for our guests. We put on a gospel music CD and harmonized together as I cooked and she chopped onions and dried dishes for me.  We laughed about little things and generally enjoyed spending time together.

I had an opportunity to share with her some things that I have thought about for a long time in regards to my relationship to her. And here you will see that the first part of this particular post intertwines with the second part:

We were talking about the names of my mother in law's parents, grandparents, and her own given name.  Her middle name is "Ruth".  She said she thought she was named for a friend of her mother's whose name was Ruth.  I told her that I always thought she was named for Ruth in the Bible...you know, the "Book of Ruth".  She was very pleased with that thought and had never considered it before.  I explained to her the reason I connected her middle name Ruth with the Ruth in the Bible was because the story of Ruth was not just a love story of Ruth and Boaz, but also a love story of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi.  Then I shared with her that the song that was sung at our wedding...sung by my friend, the daughter of my pastor who had just died...the song that she sang came directly from the Book of Ruth...and even though it was sung as a bride singing to her groom, in reality, the words were written and spoken by Ruth to her mother-in-law Naomi, when Ruth's husband had died and Naomi's husband had also died and she was going to go back to her native land and so she told Ruth to stay with her own family in her own land.  These are the words I shared with my mother-in-law, the words spoken by Ruth to her mother-in-law in the 10th century B.C.:

"Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God..."
(Ruth 1:16) 

In sharing this with her, I explained to her that this was the way I felt when I married her son...His "people shall be my people", and his "God, my God." Therefore, she, my husband's mother, was the same to me as if she was my own mother. She expressed to me that she never knew that before and I could see that it truly touched her heart.

I am glad God gave me the opportunity to share that with my mother-in-law this weekend. I am particularly thankful that I listened to His voice and followed the dictates of my heart instead of pursuing my own will. Oh, certainly, going to the memorial service for my former pastor would have been a noble and good thing to do. But God helped me to see that this was where I needed to be this time.  We never know how many chances we will have to spend tender moments with people who have given so much and loved us for so many years. And I am certain that if my Pastor could have told me what to do...this is what he would have advised.

Go HERE for another post about my wonderful Mother in Law

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Random Thoughts from a Grieving Heart

I feel like I need to write something. Normally the first weekend of the month is our "Random Journal Day", but for various reasons that has been postponed for this week.  So I feel like being rather "random" myself.  Nothing in particular on my mind, and then again, there are a few things.

Our grandson Noah on his 14th birthday last October, 2013

This time last year we were in Maine, celebrating our Grandson Noah's 14th birthday.  We have traditionally celebrated his birthday together almost every year of his life, with only a couple of exceptions.  We had a wonderful time with our family last year.  At the time we truly did not know that things would be so different this year.
Our visit with Noah, Matthew and Nicole last fall, 2013

But as I am sure most of my frequent readers know, our son Matthew, Noah's father, finally lost his four year battle with cancer in May of this year. So this is one of those exceptions to the norm. We, for various reasons, were not able to make our annual trip (from Florida) back up to Maine this fall to celebrate with Noah.  Tomorrow is his 15th birthday, and we aren't there.  

I guess I am feeling rather guilty about that now, wishing that we had gone ahead and tried a little harder to make it happen. However, what is done is done. Can't change it now. I am praying that my grandson understands.  I believe he does, as much as any 15 year old boy who has recently lost his daddy can understand things. Certainly we have not forgotten him. We sent him gifts, and we will call tomorrow and sing Happy Birthday to him. But I know it isn't the same.

How can anything ever be the same again? We have all been trying to work through this great loss in various ways. We keep busy. We do little things in memory of our son. We try to keep his name and face before us in as many ways as possible without becoming morbid. We remember the happy times together, the carefree silly days of his childhood and youth.  We laugh a lot. I cry a lot in private. Little things will trigger the tears and the great lump in my throat that can't quite swallow the sorrow of my thoughts.

They say it gets better with time. I'm sure it does. It has. One of my greatest fears is that time will dull our memories too much so that we can't see his face or hear his voice in our minds anymore. I don't want that to happen. I want to remember the sound of his voice and the way he'd say "I love you Ma, I love you Pa"...and the way he'd tell us on the phone in our daily phone calls that he was "Number Two"...(our second of three sons...who always called himself "Number Two").  I want to look at his silly faces in the multitude of pictures we have of him from babyhood through his last days with us on earth. Matthew had a way with making funny faces about most everything. He was just plain funny sometimes. I love remembering him that way.
Our son Matthew, as we sang happy birthday to him on his last birthday
with us, February 25, 2014

So these are some of my random thoughts tonight on this, the eve of our grandson's birthday. I'm feeling sad that we aren't there to help him celebrate, but more than that, I'm feeling sad that his daddy isn't there to help him celebrate. No one or nothing can fill that empty place.

I pray for Noah tonight. I pray that he will feel the presence of the Lord in his life, comforting him and filling that void like nothing else could do.  I pray that he will have sweet memories of his dad and all the wonderful things they did together. They were best buds for all of their days together. I pray that he will be strong in the Lord, and that he will continue to grow and mature into the fine young man that God intends him to be, and who would make his daddy very proud. 
Noah and Matt on the great Moose Hunt, 2011 Click on this
caption for the full story
Nicole, Matt, and Noah on their last vacation together, Feb. 2014

Matthew baptizing Noah
Noah and Matt at Tae Kwon Do together
Noah and Matt in their woods behind their house

Cancer Sucks...Yes it does.

Matthew showing Noah how to shave Click on
this for a story about the Shaving Lesson
After the shaving lesson is over.
I hate to end this on such a negative note. But the truth is, Cancer DOES suck, pardon the expression. It robs a teen-age boy of his Daddy way too soon.
It robs a wife of her hubby of 21 years way too soon.
It robs a Mother and Dad of their "number Two" son way too soon.
It robs brothers number 1 and 3 of their brother way too soon.

(Grandpa) Dad, # 1 son, #1 Grandson Noah, # 2 son, #3 son

Our family together for the last time, Feb., 2014

It robs all the extended family of someone really precious

Yes, I guess I had a few things on my mind. Sorry to pour all this on you tonight. I just don't want to let our son's memory fade. And I don't want our grandson to forget where he came from and the strong heritage he has from his father.  

The wonderful truth is this is not the end.  

Jesus told His disciples before He left this world for heaven the following, which is a promise for us as well:

"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."
John 14:1-3

This is the heritage our grandson has...faith in Christ, taught to him at an early age by his father and mother, and claimed as his own faith as a young child.  I pray that he will not forget this priceless gift.  Proverbs 22:6 tells us that if we:

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

That is my prayer tonight for my grandson Noah...that as he matures and grows up, that he will remember the teaching of his father, and that he will never depart from that great faith.  His father had a very strong faith even in the face of such a horrid disease. He never lost his love for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know he is safe in the arms of Christ tonight. I know that we will see him again some day, so I comfort myself with that great hope.

So now we must continue on with the living. We must persevere in the face of grief, and be strong in the Lord for those who are still finding their way in this life.  I pray that God will give me the strength to do just that.  I hope that next year will find us celebrating our grandson's birthday together and not so many miles apart. Goodness! He will be turning sixteen next year...and possibly driving! Now that's  something to look forward to! (yikes!)

Thank you for listening to my random thoughts. I guess they weren't really so random after all. 

Hug your children and grandchildren. Make every day count. 

That's all folks. Good Night.