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!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Moments of Grace: Come As You Are

35.  "On the same day, when evening had come, He (Jesus) said to them,
'Let us cross over to the other side.'
36.  Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was.
And other little boats were also with Him."

Mark 4:35-36

When I first read the above verses as a part of my devotional reading this morning, I didn't fully comprehend the meaning of the phrase in verse 36 where it says "they took Him (Jesus) along in the boat as He was".  Right after embarking (?) into the boat with Jesus a big storm blew up while He was asleep in the stern of the boat on a pillow.  His disciples thought He must not care that they were about to perish in the sea, so they woke Him up.  Verse 39 says that

"He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" 
And the wind ceased and there was a great calm."

Then He turned to His disciples and said to them:

"Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"

Now comes the question...Just how WAS Jesus when they took Him along in the boat? I expect He was pretty exhausted, as He had just spent many days healing the sick and teaching the multitudes so many parables and answering numerous questions from His followers. It says in Mark 3:20 that "the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread." In Mark 4:1 the Bible says that "a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea."

In other words, for days and days Jesus and His disciples had been dealing with huge crowds of people pressing in around them and asking so many questions and clamoring for Jesus' attention so much so that they could not even take the time to eat.  The crowd was so great that Jesus had to sit in a boat in the water just so He could face the multitude on the shore and teach them.  

So, how was Jesus?  I'd say He was extremely hungry and completely exhausted. His disciples may have had to literally carry Him into the boat to get Him away from the crowds so that He could eat and get some much needed rest. No wonder He was sleeping through the storm!

I love what Jesus asks the disciples after He had quelled the storm. He wants to know why they were so fearful...and where was their faith?  Hadn't they just seen Jesus casting out demons, healing the sick, the lepers, the paralytic...and even forgiving men their sins? (see Mark chapters 1-3) Hadn't they been listening and watching as He taught the multitudes and displayed His power for all to see? I mean, how could they NOT have faith after all they had witnessed?

Well...what about you? What about me? How many times have we doubted that Jesus could quell the storms in our own lives? How often have we crouched in fear as we have faced the demons of sickness, disaster, or personal crisis and forgot all the miraculous and marvelous things He had already done for us so many times before?

Or perhaps we've just been so exhausted and weary from the anxieties and perplexities of life that we've fallen down into our own little boats of despair and could not begin to muster the strength or courage to get back up and face a new day.

It gives me great comfort to know that Jesus has already been there. He knows what that feels like. He was human even if He was God. He was God in the flesh, and His human body suffered just like you and me.

Hebrews 4:15-16 says

"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."

I love that I can come to Jesus just as I am, and know that He will be there ready to receive me with open arms.  Sing this beloved hymn along with me and remember that Jesus knows exactly how you feel...
1. Just as I am, without one plea, 
but that thy blood was shed for me, 
and that thou bidst me come to thee, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

2. Just as I am, and waiting not 
to rid my soul of one dark blot, 
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

3. Just as I am, though tossed about 
with many a conflict, many a doubt, 
fightings and fears within, without, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

4. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; 
sight, riches, healing of the mind, 
yea, all I need in thee to find, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

5. Just as I am, thou wilt receive, 
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; 
because thy promise I believe, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

6. Just as I am, thy love unknown 
hath broken every barrier down; 
now, to be thine, yea thine alone, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Moments of Grace: Creating Joy out of Chaos

My morning did not start out looking like this picture above...or below...
"Breakfast with Teddy", a picture on a greeting card that I love...
by Jessie Wilcox Smith - 1909

What seemed to be a good idea quickly began to deteriorate as I attempted to pull the container of Quaker Oats out of the cupboard, only to have the lid fly off and dry oats scatter literally all over my kitchen.  So much for my good intentions...

No, I wasn't planning to have a bowl of oatmeal...actually I wanted to mix up a batch of blueberry muffins since I had some fresh ripe juicy berries just waiting to be enjoyed.  The recipe I had decided to use called for oatmeal in the batter.  (Recipe to follow). But now I had to clean up a big mess before I could even begin to bake the muffins. Not a good way to start the day...

However, I was determined to have those muffins, so I persevered and soon the delightful aroma of blueberry muffins permeated the kitchen.
Then I decided to make a little tea party out of the occasion.

 My hubby joined me, but only for the muffins. He wasn't too interested in the tea party part.

Since it was a dreary, rainy chilly morning we had decided we weren't going anywhere. And because the kitchen was already in a state of chaos from my earlier fiasco, I decided I may as well continue on making a mess by baking a batch of oatmeal cookies! After all, if the carton of oatmeal was in a state of destruction, we might as well finish it off and get rid of the offending container for good!

The only thing about all of this activity that I haven't told you was that while I was busily "creating" these delectable concoctions...which, if you do any baking you will understand how important it is to be able to concentrate on what you are doing and not have a lot of interruptions...well....here's the rest of the story...

Since my recent retirement hubby and I have been adjusting to our new routine together. He had already been retired for several years, and although he was anxious for me to come home, he had his own little schedule of daily activities, which did not include having me around to interfere.  However, he seems to have adjusted quite rapidly, and now requests my attention frequently...especially when I am busy trying to accomplish something in the kitchen or the opposite end of the house from where he is.

Baking cookies with my little boys many moons ago...
Today was no exception. As I was mixing up the batter for the cookies or trying to place the raw dough on the cookie sheets and time the baking of the ones in the oven, etc. (you know the routine)...he kept calling me from the living room (a long hike from the kitchen in this house) and asking for my assistance with a project he was doing on the computer.

It reminded me of the way it used to be when my kids were little and I was trying to bake...and they would be begging for my attention from all parts of the house...and soon they would come running into the kitchen to sample the cookies and lick the beaters...

But I digress...anyway, this morning I found myself getting agitated with his constant interruptions and a little bit frustrated and almost ugly...and then I had to stop and catch my breath for a minute...and give thanks to the Lord because my husband is here in this house with me, safe and healthy and wonderful.  Too many of my friends, loved ones and acquaintances not much older than I (and some younger) have already lost their husbands to cancer or heart attacks or other horrible events.  How ungracious of me to lose my patience with the one I love and cherish when I should be thanking the Lord he is here, alive and well.

So, after working through the numerous interruptions the cookies did finally get baked...and miracle of miracles, they actually were good enough to eat!

And now we are both back to doing what we like to do during the day...

Hubby is enjoying listening to some music on the computer

while I am sitting here on my computer telling you all about it.

(notice I am wearing my new flannel shirt) (click on link for that story)

Oops..I just looked at the clock and realized that we are going to be late getting the meatloaf into the oven if I don't stop writing and get back to the kitchen...so, guess who came in and actually helped me in the kitchen?   Yep, my sweet hubby.  And that is Joy, Joy, pure joy!

Oh, here's the recipe I promised you:

This is a combination of a couple of recipes in my Betty Crocker cookbook.  I tend to adjust recipes to suit my mood:

Blueberry Muffins:

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil- (I used 1/2 cup applesauce instead of the oil)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats (dry)
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottoms only of about 12 medium muffin cups. Beat egg; stir in milk and oil.(or applesauce in place of oil).
Stir in remaining ingredients all at once just until flour is moistened.
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes
Immediately remove from pan.


Click HERE for the recipe for the Oatmeal Cookies

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Moments of Grace: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Sunday Morning Meditation

"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem 
the Spirit of GRACE and supplication;
they they will look on Me, Whom they pierced.
Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, 
and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn."

"In that day a FOUNTAIN shall be opened for the house of David
and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
for sin and for uncleanness."
Zechariah 12:10, 13:1

(click on link to hear this beautiful hymn) Composed by Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

"Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, 
Tune my heart to sing Thy GRACE;
Streams of mercy never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Hitherto Thy love has blest me;
Thou has brought me to this place;
And I know Thy hand will bring me
Safely home by Thy good GRACE.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger
Bought me with His precious blood.

Oh, to GRACE how great a debtor,
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, as a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee;

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, 
Prone to leave the God I love;

Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it...
Seal it for Thy courts above."

Yes, Lord,, 
"Here's my heart,
O take and seal it~
Seal it for Thy Courts above."

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Moments of Grace: The Privilege of Serving with Gladness...

"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with Gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us,
and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
and His truth endures to all generations."
Psalm 100

Yesterday was a special treat for me.  I had the privilege of hosting our monthly area Ladies' Prayer Fellowship in my home.  One dear lady called me this morning to thank me for hosting, and we both decided that our group should be called "Lovely Ladies of the Lord".  I like that...for that is what we are.  Not necessarily in the physical sense of the word "lovely", although everyone truly is lovely in that way, but more so in the spiritual sense.  Lovely in spirit, lovely in heart, lovely in GRACE.  These women come together from different parts of the county to pray for one another, to encourage our sisters in the faith, and share the loveliness of our beautiful Savior. And when we come together in one accord, it is something truly lovely to behold.  

Yes, it was a joyful privilege to clean my home, prepare the food, (and others brought in tasty dishes to share as well) set the table with my best dishes instead of paper plates and cups...even though they needed to be carefully hand washed before and after...(and my wonderful "lovely ladies of the Lord" helped with that also)...and to truly "SERVE  the Lord with gladness".  

What a joy and privilege to "come before His presence with singing".  We sang the old hymn I told you about previously this week...http://pamelasopenwindow.blogspot.com/2016/01/moments-of-grace-who-do-you-see-in.html  "O To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer".  As our voices blended together we made this song our prayer.  Then one of our ladies spontaneously blessed us with her lovely voice as she sang "Amazing Grace"...and what a thrill that was, especially as I watched my 92+ year old mother in law harmonize along with her. 

The beautiful miracle of the morning was that about an hour prior to our time of gathering together there was a powerful storm galloping through our area with gale force winds and pounding rain. As I watched the trees bending to and fro in turbulence outside my window, I feared that the phone calls would start coming in from ladies cancelling out due to being afraid to drive in the storm. I wouldn't have blamed them, but it would have been such a disappointment after so much anticipation and preparation for the day. So I started praying...for the storm to pass through quickly, and for the ladies to not be afraid or harmed in any way.  Almost as quickly as the storm started it stopped.  The winds died down and the pounding rain gave way to sprinkles.  No one called. At the appointed time the cars started arriving in the yard.  I ran outside with my umbrella and welcomed them in and the "Lovely Ladies of the Lord" (even more than I had originally expected!)~~~

"entered into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise."

And then we all were 
"thankful to Him..."
and blessed His name...
"For the Lord is good;
His mercy IS everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations."

God even provided these lovely flowers for our centerpiece...picked fresh from my yard before the storm could
knock off the blossoms from the plants!
What a surprise to find these in the middle of January!

Remember this bookmark?  (click on the link for the story)

My ONE WORD - GRACE, for 2016, is getting quite a work out already...and it's only the middle of January! But that's okay. I love these little Moments of Grace, don't you?

What are some of the "Moments of Grace" in your life today?  Think about it. There may be more than you realize.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Moments of Grace: Who Do You See in the Mirror?

Yesterday as I was going through my morning routine of washing my face, brushing my hair and putting on makeup, I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror that reminded me of my maternal grandmother.  It was a fleeting look, a certain pose that I remembered seeing in a photograph of her that used to hang on the wall in the home I grew up in.  It rather startled me at first, but then it was such a pleasant thought..."I look like my Grandma Tedlie".  No one had ever said that before.

 Since I've recently retired, I have more time on my hands it seems...and I suddenly felt like playing with this little scenario.  After searching out a copy of the familiar portrait of my grandmother, I decided to dress up similar to the way she was dressed, and then see if I truly did look anything like her.  My husband was willing to humor me and said he would do the honor of taking my picture.

Here's my beautiful Grandma:

And here I am, trying to look like her.
Then, crazy woman that I am, I put this on Facebook.  The reviews were mixed.  Some said yes, definitely! Especially the cheekbones. And others said they couldn't see any resemblance at all.  Those who know me well declared that I must be "losing it" and that I need something more to do with my time.  Could be.

As I pondered this I wondered to myself just why did I do this kooky thing? Am I "losing it", or am I just having a little fun and playing "dress up" like a little girl again.  Is that so bad?  One of my friends said that she thought the side by side pictures would please my grandmother very much.  I like that thought. I never got to spend much time with my grandma.  We moved to Florida when I was only five, and my grandparents lived in Ohio.  Consequently, we got to see them only once a year when we took a summer trip to visit.  Unfortunately, my grandmother was not well for quite a few years, and then she passed away when I was fifteen.  So I always felt like I really didn't get to know her and she truly didn't know me either.

Okay, enough of this nostalgia.  What is really going on here? Perhaps it is a type of search for my identity.  I've often wondered about my ancestors, and have thought how wonderful it will be to meet them all face to face someday in heaven and discover who they are and who I really do resemble.

More than all the ancestors, however, I look forward to seeing my Lord and Savior face to face...and hopefully discover that He is the One Whom I resemble most of all.

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."  
2 Corinthians 3:18

Here is an old hymn that expresses my thoughts and desires:

O To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer  By Thomas O. Chisholm, written in 1897.  (Click on the link to hear this beautiful hymn)

O to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! Lord, I am coming
Now to receive anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

"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."
I Corinthians 13:12

Lord, I pray that day by day I am being changed into Your glorious image. 
Forgive me when I take my eyes off of You and focus more on me or the things of this world.
And thank You, Lord, for the marvelous gift of God...Salvation...
"For by GRACE you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves,
it is the Gift of God,
Not of works, lest anyone should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Moments of Grace-Humility

"God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble."
James 4:6

The lovely flower pictured above is a "Pink Perfection" Camellia...the first blossom of the year on the bush in my yard.  This flower truly lives up to its name...perfectly pink, and perfect in its form and shape and beauty. As I posted this picture on my Facebook page yesterday, there were several comments written about its beauty and what a wonderful picture this was. One dear friend even complimented me on my photography skills.  I was extremely humbled by this comment because that particular friend is truly a gifted and professional photographer, and her photos bless me every day. This was my first lesson of the new year to experience grace and humility.  The photograph is beautiful, but I do not take any credit for that. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...and God knows how to use even this amateur photographer to bring glory to His name in sharing pictures of His marvelous creation.  That is my purpose and goal with every picture that is posted here or anywhere else.

GRACE...my new ONE WORD for 2016....

Meaning of the word according to the Merriam Webster dictionary:

"Full Definition of grace

  1. 1a :  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctificationb :  a virtue coming from Godc :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
  2. 2a :  approvalfavor <stayed in his good graces>b archaic :  mercypardonc :  a special favor :  privilege <each in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage — Rudyard Kipling>d :  disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemencye :  a temporary exemption :  reprieve
  3. 3a :  a charming or attractive trait or characteristicb :  a pleasing appearance or effect :  charm <all the grace of youth — John Buchan>c :  ease and suppleness of movement or bearing
  4. 4—used as a title of address or reference for a duke, a duchess, or an archbishop
  5. 5:  a short prayer at a meal asking a blessing or giving thanks
  6. 6plural capitalized :  three sister goddesses in Greek mythology who are the givers of charm and beauty
  7. 7:  a musical trill, turn, or appoggiatura
  8. 8a :  sense of propriety or right <had the grace not to run for elective office — Calvin Trillin>b :  the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful" 

  9. "Grace." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 Jan. 2016. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace>.

Yes, another bookmark about GRACE!  Serving with Grace...hmmm, another thing to think about.  This new word is going to provide a lot of food for thought this year. I hope it will be a blessing to you as well as to me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Moments of GRACE - One Word for 2016

Okay, drum roll......I have been deliberating what my "One Word" for 2016 should be.  A couple of months ago, while listening to the radio on my way to work, I heard a song that seemed to "speak" to me...along with other thoughts and insights hitting me at the same time...and the word GRACE just seemed to leap out at me, so much so that I grabbed something from my purse to write on, found a pen, and as I was driving down the road (I know, dangerous), I wrote this note to myself:

Not the part about the "coupons due to expire soon", but the note scribbled on the end..."One word 2016 GRACE and  "Your Grace Finds Me"  was the song.  Click HERE for "Your Grace Finds Me" by Matt Redman.  The song was a part of the interview that the radio (JoyFm) station was having with Louie Giglio about his new book entitled "The Comeback".  I haven't read the book yet, but it is on my list of books to read for 2016.

Anyway, back to the "One Word" event...that day I determined that my One Word for 2016 would be "GRACE".  I even wrote another note and put it in my Bible so I wouldn't forget...along with some other notes from the book of Esther 4:14, which really didn't have anything to do with grace, but it definitely had something to do with what I was going through at that moment in time, and it was definitely a test of "grace".  

But here we are in the first week of January, 2016, and I still was not exactly sure that this was supposed to be my "One Word" for 2016.  I kept trying to come up with something better. Why? I don't know. Not sure why I am trying to avoid the word "Grace".  But I have been. So tonight I thought to myself, "Okay Pam, you need to nail this down. It is time to quit playing around with this and get down to business.  The year will be half over before you discover your One Word if you don't pay attention to what God has been trying to tell you all along."

So I thought I would do the old open up the Bible and find some kind of answer trick. You know the one, where you open the Bible and point to any verse that happens to appear and proclaim that to be God's message to you today? Who hasn't ever done that?  I admit, I have.  Well, anyway, I actually opened up one of my little devotional books that I like to read, and this bookmark fell out on my lap:

Well, would you look at that???? What does that verse say at the bottom?
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."  Romans 16:20

and THEN it says "Moments of GRACE"

Still not totally convinced, (yeah, I know, dense, stubborn, not full of GRACE), I turned the little bookmark over to the back and what does it say?

Need I say more? God got His message through to me.  My ONE WORD for 2016 is

and I expect that He will be demonstrating many moments of GRACE to me throughout the year.  As I become aware of this "great Grace, such grace", I hope to share these special moments with you. I have a feeling I have some things to learn.  We'll start with this verse:

"But He gives more grace.  Therefore He says:
God resists the proud,
but gives GRACE to the humble."
James 4:6

Yes, I expect I have a LOT to learn.  Humility is not one of my better traits.  

So, are you ready to join me?  Let's start watching for those special "Moments of Grace"...and 

"May these fill your cup of blessing as you reflect on the love of Christ Jesus for you today and always!"  (bookmark from CTA, Inc.)