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, May 29, 2016

Desires of the Heart - Updated

This is a repost of what I wrote last year for Memorial Day, (5/25/15) on the 1st anniversary of the passing of our son Matthew.  Even though Memorial Day falls on a different day each year, we will always be reminded of our wonderful son and the life that he lived on this particular holiday. I guess that is rather fitting.  I submit this for you today in loving memory of our son, and continuing to pray for our precious Grandson as he grows and matures into the young man God intends him to be.

 I've had this little picture on my kitchen windowsill for many years. It isn't a spectacular picture, but it is a significant picture.  Look a little closer.....

This is a picture of me with my little grandson Noah when he was about three years old.  He had come to visit us (with his parents) all the way from Maine to Florida.

Noah was a delightfully inquisitive and expressive child...so full of questions and exuberance about everything that surrounded him in his little world.  Pretty typical for a three year old...and yet uniquely wonderful...because he was our very first (and only) grandchild! So of course he was the brightest and best little boy
ever to call anyone "Grandma".

In this particular picture we were planting something together...a pineapple plant to be exact...after cutting off the top of a pineapple and planting the top with its leaves in the dirt.  For Noah this was a big adventure...and for me...well, it was a big adventure because we were doing this together...planting for our future.

I don't know whatever happened to that pineapple.  We didn't live in that particular house very long, and I didn't have a green thumb, so I think it went the way of most plants...it probably died.  But we had such fun together digging in the dirt and placing the pineapple in the ground and patting the dirt back around it...and then giving it a good watering.  We did this together... and that is what was significant and wonderful.  I was delighted and thrilled to be planting something with my grandson...such a joy and blessing from the Lord!

After they went back home to Maine I framed this little picture and placed a scripture verse on the glass...

"Delight thyself also in the Lord, 
and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalm 37:4 KJV

and every time I looked at this picture I would pray for my grandson...and for myself to delight in the Lord as well. This child was such a delight, and even though we didn't get to spend much time together due to the distance between us, my prayer was that God would bless him and help him to grow strong in the Lord and strong in body, mind and heart. And that would be the desire of my heart for him.  

Noah, age 12, with a funny acorn.
As time went by this young boy grew stronger and taller and smarter every time we'd see him. He was always filled with joy and wonder about life. We were very proud of him, and continued to pray for God to bless him, and to give him (and us) the desires of our heart.

A few years ago something happened to change the direction of our prayers. His sweet daddy, our son Matthew, was diagnosed with an incurable and extremely aggressive cancer.  This was not the desire of our hearts for our son or for our grandson or for the rest of the family. This was a strange way to answer our prayers. I didn't understand. None of us understood God's plan.  But I kept praying and trying to delight myself in the Lord, with the hope that God would indeed give me the desire of my heart...and for the sake of our son and our grandson and his mama too, that God would hear my prayers and heal our son.  Sadly, that was not God's plan.  After a four year struggle, our son passed away one year ago, on May 25, 2014.  (click on link for that story).

Just recently my daughter in law Nicole sent me another picture.  As soon as I saw it my mind immediately went back to the little picture sitting on my windowsill, and I cried.

 This is a picture of my grandson Noah, quite grown up...fifteen years old. And here he is, planting in the ground again.  These plants are adorning the grave of his daddy.  Such a precious picture of love and devotion. I can imagine that Noah was talking to his daddy in his mind while he planted the flowers for him. 

And I looked at the little picture of us planting together when he was three, and I cried..."Lord, this is not how I thought life would turn out.  I thought if I delighted myself in YOU, that You would give me the desires of my heart.  The desire of my heart was never to see my grandson planting flowers on his father's grave...the grave of my precious son.  But, Lord, in Your sovereign will, this is where we are today. Now I must continue to pray for my grandson...and I must continue to delight myself in You...and I know that you WILL give me the desires of my heart concerning him.  My prayer was that he would grow up to be strong in the Lord, and strong in his body, mind, and heart. Even though I don't understand the way of Your plan, Lord, I will continue to trust in You...that perhaps even in this great loss and horrific sorrow, Your plan will be fulfilled. The desire of my heart will still be completed. 

The verses before and after Psalm 37:4 says this:

3."Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

4. Delight yourself also in the Lord,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5. Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass.

6. He shall bring forth your
righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

7. Rest in the Lord, 
and wait patiently for Him..."

I know that God is at work in this whole big picture.  He has promised to give me the desires of my heart concerning my grandson.  My part is to TRUST, DELIGHT, COMMIT, AND REST IN THE LORD...and He shall bring it to pass. 

I know that my son Matthew's  greatest desire was that his son would grow up to be strong in the Lord as well. 

Our son Matthew baptizing his son Noah

 He laid a firm foundation for him to stand upon. Things have been a bit rough, but God has promised to give us the desires of our hearts. So I will trust in Him.  He knows exactly what He's doing!

Noah and his Daddy Matthew doing Tae Kwon Do together

Noah and his Daddy walking in the woods
Noah and his Daddy on the big Moose Hunt
(click on the caption for this story)

Noah and Matthew in "The Shaving Lesson"
(click on the caption for this story)

Nicole, Matthew, and Noah on their last vacation together in St. Augustine, Feb. 2014

This story is dedicated to my grandson Noah, in loving memory of his daddy, our son Matthew, written for this Memorial Day, May 25th, 2015, the first year anniversary of Matthew's entrance into heaven.  May God hear my prayers and give me the desire of my heart.  Amen.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

In One Accord

"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."  
Acts 2:1

I am feeling way behind in my reading of other friends' blogs...as well as writing my own.  It's been a busy month already, and we are only 1/2 way through.  Nothing especially special...just not much free time for me.  So I am feeling rather disconnected...from communication with the wonderful ladies I so enjoy who write such inspirational and deeply touching blogs...and from pouring out from my own soul the things God has laid upon my heart to share with you.

This past week I met with a small group of ladies from our neighboring communities who meet monthly for the express purpose of praying and sharing together from God's Word in one accord.  We don't have a set agenda or planned program, but usually one of the ladies leads with some scripture verses that the Lord has laid on her heart to share...and then it is beautiful to watch how God brings it all together as we each share what God has been teaching us in our own personal walk.  We share prayer concerns and encourage one another as the Holy Spirit ministers through us to one another. Some share a song or a Psalm.  Others may bring a poem or other devotional that spoke to them. It is the truest picture of being in one accord if ever I've seen such a thing before.  

I always come away from this informal, loving, Christ centered time of fellowship with a feeling of being on hallowed ground. Why? Because the Presence of the Living God was there...not so much in a "rushing mighty wind" (Acts 2:2), but more in a "still small voice" (I Kings 19:12)...a cooling, calming Spirit that permeated our souls as we lifted the Name of God on High in our prayers and praises...and penetrated our hearts and minds and bodies with His loving breath of life.  How is this possible?  Jesus said in Matthew 18:20:

"For where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am there in the midst of them."

Oftentimes I feel this same connection of being "in one accord" with my friends here in blogland.  There is a sweet spirit that permeates our communication that transcends time and space. Many/most of us have never met in person, and yet our spirits a drawn to one another in Christian love as we encourage one another through our comments and written posts.  It is a beautiful picture of Christ being in our midst even across many miles and possibly continents.  The Body of Christ is a marvelous thing, isn't it?  Someday we will be all together "in one accord" forever in heaven...but until then we will keep lifting each other up in words of hope and love and encouragement in our faith walk.

I promise to try to do better in the future in keeping up with you...and I thank you for keeping up with me as well. You are each a blessing to me as you share your spiritual gifts through your blog posts.

The above is a video from our prayer group...one of our ladies shared a song with us from her heart...and with a very beautiful gifted voice.  Please enjoy in the spirit of which it has been shared here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Where Does Resilience Come From?

"All About Resilience"  (According to Psychology Today)

"Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on."   
Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/resilience

On the way home from purchasing our new flooring for our kitchen and dining room (see picture above)- (see pictures below for the back story to that), my hubby and I were talking about how blessed we were...not only in how the Lord has provided the way for us to take care of our floor problem...and how our wonderful sons and friends have pitched in to help us fix the situation, but just in general...how truly blessed we are.
I made the comment that even though we have been through some very difficult times in our lives...some you may know about, and many more you probably don't need to know about...God has helped us to be resilient throughout times of adversity...to bounce back from sorrows and tragedies, and in most cases to truly come back stronger than before...because of His amazing grace and mercy.
As the word "resilient" came to my mind and lips, I started to chuckle...and I said to my hubby..."just like our new floor...'Resilient...Waterproof...Sturdy...Quiet...'   and the chuckle was about the "waterproof and quiet" portion of the description.  Although it could be said that we have "weathered" many storms in life...but we've never been described as "quiet" by any stretch of the imagination as far as I could tell!
So, where does this resilience come from?  Is it something that we have acquired naturally, in our own strength?  Not hardly.  
Psychology Today has given an apt description of the word resilience...but God's Word explains just how we, who are called by His Name, are able to obtain this resilience and rise above the circumstances of this life and live victoriously.

In thinking about this, I looked into the scriptures to find some kind of reference to the word resilient.  Although I could not locate any specific verses using this particular word, there are many references that describe and explain how the believer in Christ is able to rebound from adversities. I won't be able to list them all for you here, but will give a few examples for you to explore on your own.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us,
We are hard pressed on every side, 
yet not crushed;
we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
Struck down, but not destroyed--"
2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Isaiah 61:3 is an excellent example of how this resilience comes to us as a gift from the Lord...
"To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Psalm 30:5 is another example of how God is teaching us resilience:

"For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But JOY comes in the morning."

Many of us can quote Romans 8:28 as a verse that helps us to understand that everything that comes into our lives can be used for our good:

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

And the security we have as believers in Christ is this: 
(Romans 8:35-39)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, 
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written: 
For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Yet in all these things we are 
more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, 
nor angels nor principalities nor powers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth, 
nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Another favorite scripture passage helps us to understand where this resilience comes from:  Proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths."

Also Proverbs 3:11-12 comforts us when we do endure chastening:

"My son, do not despise the
chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights."

The back story on this is our dishwasher overflowed and damaged our kitchen floor. Thanks to
our homeowner's  insurance, we will be able to replace our kitchen floor and our adjoining dining room floor if we do the labor ourselves.  The malfunctioning dishwasher has been removed and will be replaced eventually.  
Actually, I've been enjoying washing the dishes and watching God's beautiful world outside my kitchen window.
I may not replace the dishwasher...well...let's think about that...

Anyway, our sons and  wonderful friends have pitched right in to
prepare the floor for that new "resilient, waterproof, sturdy and quiet" flooring

We'll stop here for now. The flooring will be installed soon. This is a very small problem compared to what so many have endured throughout our country.  I am so thankful for the resilience of my family through hard times and sad times that have been far greater than this.  But most of all, I am thankful for how the Lord gives us the strength we need to get through these difficult times.  

Where does your resilience come from? Something to think about.