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, April 29, 2015

Interesting Insight Today

In this morning's devotions I read John 12:44-50. I'm sure I've read this passage many times before because portions of it were underlined and circled.  But for some reason Christ's words leaped out at me and hit me between the eyes...

Verses 46-48 were the particular verses that caught my attention:

"I have come as a light into the world,

that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, 
I do not judge him; 
for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words,
has that which judges him--
the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."

Verse 49-50:

"For I have not spoken on My own authority; 
but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command,
what I should say and what I should speak.

And I know that His command is
Therefore, whatever I speak,
just as the Father has told Me,
so I speak."

~ Jesus Christ, the Son of God~

Then on my way to work I was listening to The Morning Cruise on the JoyFm, and they were interviewing Matthew West, the songwriter and contemporary singer, who has just released a new album this week: "Live Forever".  They played one of the songs entitled "Heaven is the Hope".  (UPDATE: ONE OF MY SWEET FRIENDS JUST SENT THIS LINK TO ME...SO I AM INCLUDING IT HERE FOR YOU TO LISTEN TO AND ENJOY AND BE BLESSED)  
Anyway, as I was listening to this song, something clicked inside of me...the verses above, and the realization that "heaven is our hope"....i.e.; "EVERLASTING LIFE"... and the fact that Jesus said in verse 50 that God's COMMAND, not suggestion, not thought, not wish, but God's COMMAND is EVERLASTING LIFE...that was God the Father's "command" to His Son Jesus when He sent Him on His earth mission...something like this:  (my interpretation)  

"Son, I am not sending you down there to judge the people...but to save them!  My command to you is to tell them how to have everlasting life...shed light in the darkness...tell them how much I love them...tell them I want to spend eternity with them because I love them.  I am commanding you to tell them this because they need to know how much I love them...and if they don't listen to your words, you will show them when you literally sacrifice your life and die for them."  

The "something" that "clicked" inside of me was the fact that this life is actually all about the next life. Life here on earth is definitely NOT all there is.  "Heaven is our Hope" because God sent His Son to show us how to get there.  God sent His Son to SAVE us, not to JUDGE us.  His desire was that we would be redeemed and delivered into heaven's gates when our life here is ended.  If we reject this invitation, we seal our own fate and then the judgment comes.

Remember this one? I'm sure you've heard it many times before:

"For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that WHOEVER believes in Him should not  perish
John 3:16
But did you ever read on to the next verse?

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be SAVED!"
John 3:17

It seems like we are the ones who have made this so difficult...not God.  We are the ones who keep making up all the rules and legalities and saying who can be saved and who can't.  That's not our job. That wasn't even Jesus' responsibility.  His job was to extend the invitation and make the way clear by taking all of our sins on Himself on the cross. All we have to do is accept the invitation and believe.  His blood covers us and prepares us for heaven. Then the Holy Spirit fills us, cleanses us and creates a new heart within. That's His job.  Not mine.  My job is to share these words with you as Christ has revealed them to me.  His word will do the work that God commanded...show you the way to everlasting life...heaven is our hope...and our final home.  How more simple could it be?

What interesting insights have YOU had today from God's Word?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trying to Stay on Track...

I keep coming back to this blank page...and then I get distracted.  There really isn't anything in particular on my mind tonight, but it seems as though I am supposed to be writing something!  So, I sit here and wait on an inspiration to come.  I go back and forth, look at Facebook, look at other things, finish my last library book (why didn't I bring home another???) take a walk, take some pictures...eat a brownie with whipped cream and wish that I didn't...listen to the chatter in the background of my family, the TV, the wind chimes chiming in the back yard as the breeze blows.

Now my almost 92 year old mother in law is asking anyone who is listening if Gene Autrey used to sing a certain song, but what was it? (We need some clues here before we can figure out which song she is thinking about).   And he had a horse named, oh it was a beautiful horse...and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sang "Back in the Saddle Again" and what was his horse's name? I said "Trigger".  And did we know that Gene Autrey owned the Angels and, so on and so on.  This is the way it goes...conversations go off on different tangents here frequently.  She may start talking about one thing and that leads to another and another and off we go again around the mulberry bush. Such are the ramblings of someone who has mild dementia...(sometimes not as mild as other times) and one can feel like he is watching a ping pong match trying to keep up with the train of thought.

This post is sounding a lot like that. That's what happens after a weekend of trying to keep up with the train and keep it on the track and not allow it to go into dangerous territory...i.e.; some subjects are better left alone. When the "train" starts venturing into that region it is my responsibility to pull it back on the track and keep it going in the right direction...the "safe zones" of pleasant conversation and not areas of anxieties, fears, frustrations, anger and "I want to go back to my own home,"  and "If I still had my car I could still live at home."

Anyone who has been a caregiver for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's can relate. Things can go from pleasant to anger in a flash. I have to remember to not try to correct anything that she might say that I know is wrong, because then I am the one who is wrong and judgmental. And don't dare let things get out of order...everything needs to be in the right place at the right time...and meals and pills must stay on schedule.  I tend to do this almost to a fault, because I understand the consequences if I don't keep a tight schedule.  There isn't a lot of room for flexibility in this arena.

We share this responsibility of care with my husband's brother and family.  Thank goodness we are still able to do that, even though it means that we are giving up our weekends...but they have her during the week.

The weekends have turned out to be really nice for my mother in law because she truly enjoys our little Home Bible Fellowship every Sunday morning,
and also looks forward to monthly gatherings with a Ladies' Prayer Group.  These ladies have become special friends to her...and every week she asks me if we are going to see "the ladies" again...especially the one who can play the accordion or the organ and sing.

 Music is the highlight of her life right now.  I understand that is rather typical for elderly people, especially with dementia.  The memory of music seems to be one of the last "senses", if you want to call it that, to go.

There are many golden moments, such as when she started telling the ladies this weekend about the song, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, There's just something about that name..." (by Bill and Gloria Gaither) and this gracious group of women just picked right up on that and started singing the song with her.  What a perfect way to start our prayer gathering!  That was totally unplanned...but God knew exactly how to use her "story" to put us in the right frame of mind. It's those kinds of moments that make me pause and smile and say, "That was YOU, Lord, wasn't it? Thank you for living in this precious woman."

My Beautiful 92 yr. old Mother in Law is the lovely lady
 in the center with the white hair!
I am thankful to be a part of her life...(she's been my mother in law for almost 46 years!)...and to help her ease into this last stage of life here on earth as we know it.

"Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!"  Isaiah 46:4

I sometimes wonder if my own sons will be able to care for me when I reach that stage of life...or if anyone will have the patience to deal with my anxieties and feebleness.  What a comfort it is to know that even to our own old age, God promises to carry us. He knows our needs and will provide whatever we need when the time comes.  I want to be faithful to do my part now for as long as I am able...and trust that when the time comes, God will send the necessary help.

If you are going through similar trials in your family right now, my word of encouragement would be to trust God to see you through. Let Him guide you as you make decisions for your loved one's care, whether it be at home or in a place of professional long term care.  Be sensitive to your family member's needs, but be realistic and reasonable about what you can and cannot do.  We are blessed that our dear one is still physically in pretty good shape, and that we have the support and cooperation of other family members.  It may not always be so.

There are many challenges ahead, but in the meantime we will make the most of the good times and give God praise for her good health, wisdom, and Christian faith. The future rests in God's capable hands. I know He knows what is best for ALL concerned.   And you can rely on that as well in your situation.

Well, I must get to bed. It's been a long weekend, and tomorrow morning I head back to work at my "real job".


"There Is Something About That Name"  by Bill and Gloria Gaither

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

There is something about that name.

Master. Savior. Jesus.

Like the Fragrance after the rain.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Let all heaven and earth proclaim.

That kings and kingdoms will pass away.

But there is something about that name.

For some other posts on this subject you might like THIS. (Click Here),  and HERE, and HERE.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Food that Satisfies

How often have we cried, "I'm starving!"  "When's dinner going to be ready?" "I'm so hungry I could eat a cow!"
One of our family gatherings...waiting to be fed...

As I look back on my life I know I've said that zillions of times...especially as a growing child.  And how often have we heard our own children say the same things? Probably more times than we could possibly count.

Now, let's tell the truth...how many of those zillions of times were we truly starving? How often were we (or our children) really so hungry that we could "eat a cow"?   (A nice juicy steak might be nice...)

Yes, I am well aware that there is tremendous hunger in the world, and possibly closer than we think, and it is an immensely horrific problem for millions of people.  As much as I would love to solve world hunger, that is not what I am really talking about tonight. That is an issue that is larger than my capacity to solve.

No, the kind of hunger that is really on my mind is soul hunger.  If your soul could speak, how often do you think it would cry, "I'm starving!" ?  Probably more often than we care to admit.  Could it be possible that a person could attend church every week, listen to Christian music, attend all kinds of "Bible Studies" or other spiritual help groups, conferences, and concerts and still have a starving soul?

Yes...highly possible.  How could that be? I mean, wouldn't that be the right kind of "diet" to have a well nourished soul?  It should be. But I've seen people come and go from church to church, Bible study to Bible study, all manner of conferences and groups, etc., etc, etc., and still not grow and mature in matters of the soul. They never can get enough food to satisfy the hunger of the heart and soul. Why?

Perhaps because we get so caught up in the frenetic search for answers and just the right "food" that we overlook the most basic important nutrient of all...a total ingestion of the best food ever offered; The Bread of Life...Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to His disciples in John 6:35

"I Am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, 
and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."  

And in verse 48-51

"I Am the bread of life.  
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which comes down from heaven,
that one may eat of it and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven.
If anyone eats of this bread,
he will live forever;
and the bread that I shall give is My flesh,
which I shall give for the life of the world."

The rulers and disciples did not truly understand what Jesus was saying to them at the time...and for a complete discourse on this I commend the whole 6th chapter of John's Gospel to your reading.

But what we need today, what I need today, is a buffet table full of the Bread of Life...open for you and me to partake of freely...to breathe Him into our hearts and minds so fully that we no longer crave the running to and fro seeking every special program, every marvelous speaker, the over abundant diet of  constant activity of worship, studies, preaching, teaching...having "itching ears", heaping "up for themselves teachers" and possibly even having turned "our ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."  (See 2 Timothy 4:1-5)

You may wonder how can someone get too much of Bible study and preaching and teaching, etc., and not be fed properly?  It's simple...

We get so busy chasing after more knowledge and the better "worship experience" that we lose sight of the One Who stands there waiting for us to 

"Come unto 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  

Now, please don't think that I am against going to church, Bible Studies, conferences, etc., etc.  But on the other hand, the warning is this...Don't become so addicted to eating more and more "food"...even when it is so-called food for the soul, that you overlook the most valuable nourishing meal of all: Jesus Christ, the living Lord, the Bread of Life who gave His life for your soul...Who stands at your heart's door knocking, waiting on you to let Him enter into the innermost part of your very being...
Warner Sallman's picture of Jesus Standing at the door knocking

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
Revelation 3:20

Yes, this is the food that comes down from heaven...Jesus Christ...knocking at your door (and mine)...waiting for us to invite Him in...to dine with us...for eternity! How wonderful is that? 

Lord Jesus, I'm starving...I'm hungry, hungry for more of YOU.  Help me stop the frantic frenzy of chasing after the rich foods that will never satisfy...and fill me with YOU...and YOU alone. YOU ARE the Bread of Life who came down from heaven....seeking for me. Please come in and dine with me...forever. Amen. 

For a continuation of this "series" of thought, go to my next post, "Be Still And Know"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Plucky Little Woodpecker UPDATED

If you are one of my Facebook friends you most likely have been following the saga of the red-bellied woodpecker family in my neighborhood.  I became intrigued with this little family a few weeks ago when I heard the constant rat-a-tat-tat of Mr. Red Belly Woodpecker, faithfully hammering away at his new home in the old dead pine tree not far from my home.  What was especially interesting was that I could actually hear him working from inside the tree as I took my evening walk. I couldn't see him, but the incessant pecking revealed his location...and the ever increasing hole in the side of the tree became more and more obvious each day.

Soon I noticed more than one woodpecker flying around this tree every time I'd get close, and calling to one another.

Then one evening as I strolled by, I looked up, and there was someone watching me from the opening in the tree...

 Hello Mrs. Red Belly! How are you today?  She kept a wary eye on me, as she nervously watched the sky above as though looking for someone to come to the rescue...

Sure enough, it wasn't long before her protector came in for a landing...

and most likely brought some juicy bugs for supper.

Life went on like this for several more days...Everything seemed to be going just fine for Mr. and Mrs. Red Belly.  I looked forward to our evening visits.  They seemed to be getting used to me and didn't seem quite so nervous about my presence.  I was hoping that someday soon I might even get to meet the children...

However, one sultry spring evening the sky grew dark and stormy. The air was thick with humidity as the winds picked up and thunder could be heard rolling in from the west.  As we humans settled into our home and made sure everything was tight and secure, I wondered how our fine feathered friends might be faring.  Hopefully their nest was snug and dry inside the old snag of a dead pine tree.

When I awoke the next morning and pulled out of our driveway to head for work, I looked down the road to my left to the area where the "woodpecker tree" was located. Something looked different...there was a lot of debris on the road, and it seemed like something was missing in the sky. Instead of turning right to drive to the highway and work, I turned left and drove the short distance to where the woodpecker tree was supposed to be...and this is what I saw:

The top of the tree was missing...

And as I zoomed in, to my horror I could see the forlorn little woodpecker standing atop what used to be his nest...surveying the damage of his home.

If you look closely, you can see the round bottom of the entrance to the nest, but the rest of the nest and tree was completely blown away.

The shattered and splintered remains were strewn along the road...actually they had been all over the road but someone had already cleared the way so cars could get through.

A closer view of the actual inside of the nest...

My heart was broken for this sweet little family.  I don't know what happened to the eggs or baby birds that were most likely inside this nest.  I assume they were blown away when the tree crashed to the ground. This literally made me sick and sad.  But I had to move on and get to work. I couldn't spend my day crying over destroyed woodpecker nests.  I thought to myself that there are certainly more important issues going on in the world right now than this...so why should I be so affected?

The first thing I did when I got home that evening was run down the road to search for the woodpecker family...Would they even still be around?  Would there be any sign of activity in or around their former home? What would they do? Where would they go?

As I walked down the road there was a familiar sound..."rat-a tat tat....rat a tat tat....rat a tat tat...."
loudly reverberating in the air...sort of like the sound of a machine gun firing...rapidly repeating....

But this time it was coming from the opposite side of the road...directly across from where the old tree stood.  Rat a tat tat.....rat a tat tat....rat a tat tat....

There was that plucky little woodpecker pecking away as hard as he could. He wasn't wasting any time at all building a new home for his family!

The very first night this is how far he had gotten in opening up the door to this new nest.  

He has labored night and day for the past few days...and today this is what I discovered:

Sorry this is kind of blurry...it was getting late...but look at the progress he has made!

This is an even better view

Rat a tat tat

Rat a tat tat

Checking it out...working on the inside...rat a tat tat!

Gotta keep pecking away!

He can get his whole head inside the nest now!!!

I am so proud of this plucky little woodpecker!  He has continued working on this new nest for several days...gotta get it ready in time!  Mama Red Belly must be getting desperate for a place to lay her eggs.  

So, I've been trying to pull some kind of lesson from this story...

My first thought was...this is an excellent example of the title theme for this blog...

"Closed Doors...Open Windows...When God closes a door, He opens a window"....

When the storms of life come along and destroy our carefully laid out plans, dreams, and security...don't give up!  Take a lesson from this plucky little woodpecker...When one door closes,  (or one nest blows away), get up and move on.  Open your eyes and look around, and trust God to lead you to something even better...and then get to work!

In this case, the original tree wasn't really an ideal location.  The tree was already leaning over quite severely.
The original woodpecker tree the evening before the storm came
 When the woodpecker pecked away at the interior of the tree to create his nest, it was right in the leaning portion of the top of the tree.  When the winds and rains came along, it didn't take much to break off that weakened, hollowed out section of the tree...and thus the nest was destroyed.  This time the woodpecker has chosen a better tree that, although an old dead tree, it is straight and strong.  I don't think it will be as easy to break.  

So another lesson would be to choose wisely in the first place...

"How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow (woodpecker?) has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young..
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in YOU,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a spring;
the rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

O Lord of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!

O God, behold our shield,
and look upon the face of Your anointed.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
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


Obviously, this is a story that will have to be continued...so stay tuned for further developments.

4/19/15:  Here are the latest pictures from the new Woodpecker Nest!  I am SO proud of this Plucky Little Woodpecker.  He never stopped until he could peck out a nest within the new tree.  This is what I saw tonight:

Hey! Look at me!  I made it!  I now have a safe new home inside this tree!!!

Gotta get up to the rooftop to view my new kingdom!

I'm almost there!

Ahhh Yes!!! The view is great from up here!

All is well!  Now we can wait for the babies to be hatched!

Probably not the end...so keep watching!