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, October 30, 2016

Running Into His Arms

In our Bible study today we were asked the following question:

"If you saw Jesus standing nearby, how would you approach him?"  

What is your first reaction to this question?  One of the members of our group said that she would be in such awe that she would fall down at His feet, probably weeping and praising Him.  Another said that she would approach Him timidly, feeling unworthy.  My first reaction was that I would run into His arms,
like a little child so happy to see her daddy or beloved grandparent after a long separation.  I could envision myself hugging His legs and wanting to be held in His lap.
Photo by Michael Belk, "Journeys With The Messiah"

I guess I feel a lot like Simon Peter, who, after the Lord's death, felt lost and alone...and probably quite perplexed with how things had happened.  The disciples never expected that the Lord would die...even though He had given them plenty of hints and notice...they just didn't quite get it.  So, they went back to the thing they knew best...fishing.

In John chapter 21 we find the disciples out in a boat, where they had been fishing all night long and had caught nothing.  In the morning, (see verse 4) "Jesus stood on the shore, yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus."   And then in verse 5, Jesus calls to them, "Children, have you any food?", and they answered, "No."  So He tells them (vs. 6) to "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some."  And so they did, and the Bible tells us that "now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish."

First, the disciple John recognized that it was Jesus, and said, "It is the Lord!"  (vs. 7) When Simon Peter heard  that it was Jesus, he put on his outer garment and plunged into the sea....and in his excitement and joy, hurried onto the shore to meet the Lord.  

Was it because Peter felt worthy of Christ that he ran onto the shore?  Did he feel entitled to being first in line to greet the Lord?  Probably not...remember, Peter was the one who had denied Christ three times the night before He was crucified.  And Jesus doesn't exactly let Peter get away with that when He does sit down with him on the shore to have breakfast.  Jesus asks Peter three times  in verses 15-17 just how much he really loves Him...and tells Peter to not only tend to, but to feed His sheep.  

This gives me pause.  My gut reaction to the question about how I would approach Jesus was to run and leap into His arms.  Now I wonder...How would He respond to my exuberance?  Would He welcome me with open arms, like the pictures above...or would He have some questions and instructions for me as well?  

Honestly, I know that I am not worthy to approach Christ with anything but awe and extreme reverence and deep humility.  I am not worthy of His love, mercy and grace.  But guess what? None of us are worthy in our own strength.  We are only able to approach Christ because He has made us worthy.  He paid the price for our sins, and washed us white as snow with His own shed blood on the cross.  

Romans 8:14-17 tells me that as I am "led by the Spirit of God", I am a son (daughter) of God.  I am an heir of God and joint heir with Christ...and therefore I am worthy to be called His child...and to call Him, "Abba, Father".  "Abba", in the Greek means Father, a term expressing warm affection and filial confidence.   Therefore, I have confidence that I can approach Jesus, the Son of God, with unreserved joy and excitement, knowing that He will indeed welcome me as His beloved child.  And, as any good parent might do, He may ask me a few questions about whether or not I've been a good girl...and perhaps He may even give me some instructions for how I could improve or possibly give me some new assignments.  And that's okay with me.  

Romans 8:18 says "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." 

So, whatever instructions Christ may have for me will only help me to continue to grow in grace and be prepared for the glory that is yet to come in heaven.   

Now this question is to you, dear friend...how would you approach Jesus?  Do you feel unworthy to even speak His name, afraid that He might not know you?  Or do you have confidence that you can run into His arms as a child running to her father, and know that you will be welcomed and loved...and cherished?  If you aren't sure about that...I invite you to make sure now...just ask Him to show you the way, and He will definitely welcome you with open arms.

These flowers have nothing to do with the story...but the rose was blooming in my garden this morning, and I wanted to share it with you.  The violets continue to bloom on my kitchen windowsill, and again, I wanted to share them with you.  Sometimes we just have to stop and smell the roses/flowers.  Life is too short to be so busy and hung up on whether or not we meet all the proper standards.  However...one standard needs to be met...ask Christ to come into your life and heart....and then just breathe....and smell the roses.  You are beloved.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Foto Friends - Skeletons, Fossils and Butterflies

Welcome to Friday Foto Friends...where we share our favorite photos of the week and a peek into what we've been up to lately!

We had an interesting day visiting the:
with some special friends:
Once we made it past the giant ants, we were totally enthralled with this:
 Talk about JAWS.....

This a kind of prehistoric sloth bear..(above)..glad I don't have them THIS big here in my neck of the woods!

There was SO much more, but I won't try to include everything here...and besides, I know you are wondering why I mentioned butterflies along with these giant fossil skeletons....

Well, because perhaps the best part of this museum is the "Butterfly Rainforest"....

As we entered the "rainforest", I was overwhelmed with the sight of so many butterflies flitting all around us...so many that it was difficult to keep up with them all.  It was a photographer's dream...if you have a fast camera!  I won't attempt to identify these for you, because I have no clue what they are...if you are a "lepidopterist", perhaps you can share your knowledge with us.  But for those of us who aren't quite that technical...just enjoy!

 This big butterfly was quite attached to our friend's bright red shirt....

 The flora and fauna and waterfalls of this rainforest were absolutely stunning...
 Now this is what I'd call a GIANT moth!!! He is probably larger than a man's hand...

Now, believe it or not, this beautiful blue butterfly that is attached to my hubby's shirt is the same type that was attached to our friend's red shirt above. This is what that butterfly looks like with his wings spread open!  Amazing!!!

My hubby was standing very still while other visitors also took his picture modeling the butterfly on his shirt!  Not sure why the one wing is bent over, but that's just how it was.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the rainforest with me.  It truly was magnificent...

So now, what special thoughts can I share with you after this marvelous display of God's beautiful creation? How about Psalm 8:

"O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, 
which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
and the son of man that You visit him?

For You have made him a little
lower than the angels,
and You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion
over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

All sheep and oxen--
even the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!"
Psalm 8: 1-9

Yes, that is how I feel...after looking at the skeletons of the giant creatures that once roamed the earth before the flood...and the huge jaws of the prehistoric sharks that could swallow a man whole...and then to see the magnificent beauty of the delicate butterflies, so colorful and uniquely designed...and to know that our awesome God created all of these...and He also created you and me...a "little lower than the angels," and He has crowned us with glory and honor...to have dominion over the works of His hands!  And to know that He loves us so much that He was willing to come to earth and die for us so that one day we could be with Him in heaven forever...Wow!  How amazing is that?  

"O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!"

Thank you for stopping by and visiting today. Now click on the logo below and go back and visit Deb and our friends at Friday Foto Friends and see where's they've been this week!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

My "Open Window" Wasn't Really Open - Updated & Reposted

Today is "Throwback Thursday" on Facebook, and "Thankful Thursday" here in blogland.  This will be a combination of the two...a throwback to what I wrote on 11/3/2012...and a message of thankfulness that
"The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge." 
(Isaiah 46:11)

So here is the original post.  I pray it will be a blessing to you today, almost four years later!

Today started out with a "bang"!  I missed it, but my son and husband heard it loud and clear and tried to hold me back from investigating.  They wanted to spare me the sadness...

Some people are superstitious when a bird flies into a window.  They proclaim it to be a "bad omen", or a sign that something terrible is going to happen to the inhabitants of that house.  I am not the least bit concerned about bad luck or such dire predictions.  When a bird flies into a window, the only one with "bad luck" was the poor birdie.  Such was the "luck" of one handsome red male cardinal today.  I am sorry to say that "Pamela's Open Window" was not really open, as this unfortunate racing bird discovered.  The impact was sudden and severe. His gravely still supine body laid inertly on my patio. Not a feather ruffled. No overt sign of the impact, but it was obvious he was no longer among the living. 

The Racing Rival...Waiting for the Race to Resume
I did feel sad.  He was so bold and strong and full of life one moment, and totally lifeless the next. He was merrily flying through life, actually in a race with another brightly plumed fellow...who was now perching in the tree just beyond the corner of the house, watching and wondering when his friend would rise up and join him again in their merry flight.

Soon a female cardinal joined him in the tree, but I was unable to capture her picture.  They were both solemnly watching me as I stood over the still figure of their flock mate expressing my own sorrow at his untimely demise.   My son soon arrived with a shovel to take care of the lifeless body of our feathered friend.  I sort of wished I could have one of his beautiful feathers to mark this day, but since they were all still intact I did not feel it would be appropriate to pluck one for my own selfish reasons.  He was carried to his woodsy grave with all his feathers still covering his now rigid body.

I couldn't help but think about how abruptly life as we know it can end.  One minute we are merrily flying through our own little world, racing along with our "flock-mates", and Wham! We get stopped by a Closed Window...whether it be a diagnosis of a serious illness, a horrible accident, the loss of a mate, child, or other precious loved one. It could be an unbelievable storm, fire, flood or other "act of God", wiping away our home and everything familiar and precious in one horrendous disaster. The loss of a job, relationship, marriage, taking captive our ability to trust others and perhaps even our faith in God.  Yes, life can be full of "closed windows" taking us completely by surprise.  How do we cope? Where do we turn?

I can only speak from God's Word and tell you what I know to be true from my own life:

"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried
into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

There is a river whose streams
shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her,
she shall not be moved;
God shall help her,
just at the break of dawn.

The nations raged,
the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge."
Psalm 46: 1-7

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!"

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge."
Psalm 46:10-11

When I run into closed doors (or windows), I run directly to my God, Who is my refuge and strength...and Who IS a very present help in trouble.  I do not need to fear when I am knocked down to the ground by the impact of the calamities of this life.  I know that I will be carried safely in the arms of Christ, whether it be to the "open window" of the next round of this race, or whether it be to the portals of heaven...I do not need to fear.  "The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge."

I have been through some deep waters in my life. You don't know about all of it, nor do I need to tell you. Suffice it to say, I know something about God being my refuge and strength.  Perhaps I haven't been through what you have experienced. Your pain may be far greater than anything I could ever imagine.  But I do know that God is far greater than anything or any ONE you could ever imagine. His arms are not shortened by the magnitude of the traumas of your life..."Be Still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"...The One Who is this Exalted God is the same One Who knows your name...He is there for you...He stands ready to be your refuge and strength, and your very present help in trouble.  If you don't know this already, ask Him to show you. He will do it. Just ask.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fall On My Front Porch...with a Surprise Visitor

No, please DON'T FALL on my front porch!  Just come enjoy FALL, as in AUTUMN, on my front porch!  

Okay, now that I've got your attention...what I am trying to say is, Fall has arrived on my front porch...please come enjoy it with me!  There, does that make more sense?

As most of you are aware, I live in Florida...and fall isn't quite the same here in Florida as it is for you folks to our north.  However, that doesn't mean that we don't enjoy fall just as much as you do! Maybe in different ways...but we still enjoy fall...and actually, for us, our fall-like weather stays around a lot longer than it does for most of you!  When you are shoveling snow and scraping ice off your windshields, we are still enjoying the crisp, cool, invigorating days of fall weather!  Our "fall" type weather may still be here in January and February, but we will call it winter like everyone else...and pretend we are suffering when the temps dip down below 40 just so you won't feel too bad.  Ha ha!  Okay, enough gloating...and back to Fall on my front porch.

Here are a few pictures I took a few minutes ago.  The air is a delightful 50 something, the sun is shining brightly, and not a cloud in the sky.  Perfect day for sitting on the front porch.  However, we'd better do it early, because it is predicted to hit 82 degrees today...which is still pretty doggone wonderful!  So come on up on the porch with me...

 I am so pleased that the mums are blooming so brightly.  But with this dry weather I have to water them every day or they wilt...

 Looking back out to the front yard...yes, we live in the forest...and the soil here is mostly sand...so that is what that white stuff is...no, it isn't snow.
 Come on inside with me and we'll get a cup of tea...
And now that you are inside, "Welcome to Our Neck of the Woods...Where life is good...fresh air, star gazing, and quiet spaces"....

Why don't you come in and sit a spell...actually let's go back out on the porch, where it is so perfect to sit and watch nature...

Oh wait!  I interrupt this blissful moment to bring you a news flash!  Woody Woodpecker (Pileated Woodpecker) just came knocking on my front porch right as we were getting comfortable...I kid you not...just this very minute, look who showed up...pecking away at my porch posts...not a good thing...even though he is beautiful to look at...we will have to do something or my porch may become one big pile of sawdust and woodpecker holes...

Even though that is treated lumber...this woodpecker seems to think it is fair game...so, what to do?  If anyone has any great ideas, please let us know.  In the meantime, enjoy the view...but someone please help me figure this out quick!!

Okay, that's all for now, folks...gotta run check in my library books before I get a fine for overdue books...

See y'all later!  I hope you enjoyed "Fall On My Front Porch".  It actually became a lot more exciting than I even planned for!!!! This was NOT a staged event, trust me!