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, December 31, 2017

Out With the Old, In With the New

I can't believe it is New Year's Eve already...and here we sit, like most "old folks", sitting quietly at home watching football, reading, and/or writing, thinking about the past year and all of its blessings, looking forward to the New Year, and praying for what is yet to be.

In our devotions this morning we read from Colossians 3.  There were so many good pearls of wisdom there for the New Year that I thought I would share a few with you.

2.  "Set your mind on things above,
not on things on the earth."

12.  "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved,
put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
13.  bearing with one another,
and forgiving one another, 
if anyone has a complaint against another; 
even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
14.  But above all these things put on love,
which is the bond of perfection.
15.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, 
to which also you were called in one body;
and be thankful.
16.  Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17.  And whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

These words really struck me hard as I read them this morning.  I've been struggling with some of these...verse 12, 13, 14...you know those words about being kind, humble, meek and "longsuffering"? And then bearing with one another...forgiving (I think I do okay on that, but then I realize that I probably don't do as well as I think sometimes...) and then verse 14..."put on love,... the bond of perfection"...this is another area where much improvement is needed.

I need verse 15: "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts...and be thankful."  Yes, I struggle with that one too. Peace...and being thankful...in all things? Yes, in all things!  (I Thessalonians 5:18)

So, as we stand on the threshold of 2018, I'm searching my heart to see if I can live up to these admonitions for Christian living as found in Colossians chapter 3.  I will need a lot of help from the Lord to meet His standards.   

Verse 17 tells me that "whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

The past several days I have been searching for my new "One Word" for 2018.  Last year's word was REST, and it was a beneficial word for me in many ways...both spiritually and physically.  Here is a list of all the previous "One Word" selections (and links to them) since the beginning of this in 2012:

With such an auspicious list as that, you'd think I would have my act together by now...but alas! I don't.   There is still so much to learn and do.  Actually, as an "old Christian", I think what is really needed here is  to "RENEW" my faith and hope and spiritual vitality.  Yes, that's the word!! Renew, Renewal, Renewing...yes...and here is a key verse to start me off right:

"And do not be conformed to this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, 
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2

Okay, Lord! Renew is the word for 2018.  I have a feeling there are going to be some changes being made in the way I do things in the New Year.  I pray it will bring about positive and lasting improvement in my walk with the Lord...and with my fellow "man".  Amen.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday Foto Friends - Quick Post

I know it has been a busy week for everyone...it certainly has for us...but a good busy in many ways...
So, I don't really have any new photos to share except for these couple of bear shots (and friends) taken in the past couple of nights by our outdoor wildlife camera:

To our friend Terri Kelly D'Orsaneo....if you had just stayed a little longer the other evening, you might have seen this fella passing through!!!

Mr. Wiley Old Coyote passed through early the next morning...

And this must have been one of Santa's reindeer hurrying to catch up with the herd before a Foggy Christmas Eve eve...

Hurry Rudolph!

Oh...Here comes Santa Bear:

And there he goes back home again after a long journey!

So now we are just catching our breath between events...we have a large gathering coming here on Saturday for our annual "White Elephant Gift Exchange" post Christmas/New Year's Party...so I am off to the store to pick up a few things to get ready.  I hope to catch up with you all next week...which will actually be next year!!  Wow!! 2017 was a great year for us...and I pray that 2018 will be even greater.  God is with us...He has blessed us beyond measure...and we are truly grateful. 

I'll be thinking about my new "One Word" for 2018...haven't come up with anything yet...waiting on the Lord to reveal it to me.  Do you have your new One Word picked out yet?  It will be fun to see how the Lord is speaking to each of us through this little annual tradition.  Not exactly a "New Year's Resolution", but a word that may inspire, encourage and teach us throughout the year.  My 2017 word was "Rest"...and in some ways I can say that I truly learned to "Rest in the Lord", but it was a busy year. Perhaps God prepared me for the busy times by learning to rest in Him in my heart and soul so that my body could endure the activities of the really busy times.  Yes, I think so.  Resting in the Lord calmed my spirit when otherwise I would have been frantic.  So thankful for those times of "rest".

Okay, right now I have to stop "resting" here and get movin'....Hope to catch up with everyone later.

Listening to this while I am typing..."Jehovah-Jireh cares for me"...  Powerful message...maybe God is speaking now about next year...

Let's all join Deb over at Breathing in Grace and check on our other Friday Foto Friends.  Be blessed my friends!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Just A Quick Post-"New Friends!"

I can't believe that Christmas has already come and gone...at least the actual day...but the Spirit of Christmas lingers in our hearts...and the "stuff" of Christmas lingers in our homes...but with joy and a sense of thankfulness...Thankful for Jesus first of all coming to redeem us and to love us...Thankful for friends and family and new friends!

Today I had the pleasure of meeting face to face one of our favorite blogging (and Facebook) friends and her sweet hubby...none other than the wonderful Terri Kelly D'Orsaneo (Your Friend From Florida) and her also wonderful hubby Joe!

What a joy to actually meet in person and realize that we like/love each other just as much face to face as we already knew we would in blogland!  When Terri messaged me to say they would be passing through our area today and asked if they could stop by to meet us...I was so excited! I told her I felt like we would be meeting as long lost cousins or something!  I mean, we've connected so on Facebook and through our blogs that I feel like we have known each other forever...And even our hubbies seemed to enjoy each other's company!  We talked about visiting them in their home in the near future.  I do hope we will do that...what a joy and blessing that would be!!

So, this was just a quick post to check in with you and see what you've been doing as well!  We've been kind of busy this week...and more celebrating to do this coming Saturday with family and friends at our annual "White Elephant Gift" exchange party...so stay tuned for more fun and frolics from our house to yours!  I hope to get around and visit each of your blogs soon.  I have a lot of catching up to do...but you all are probably in the same boat. We need to enjoy our loved ones while they are close at hand and make every day count!

Here's a Christmas day picture from our family to you...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (soon!!)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Foto Friends- Christmas Visitors?

Well, I didn't know if I would have any new pictures to share with you today or not, but after scrolling back through my camera there were a few that you may not have seen yet.  I thought I would entitle this "Christmas Visitors?" because some were definitely welcome, some were questionable, and some were definitely not...

I'll start with the welcome visitors:

One of the fun ladies who comes to our weekly Bible Study decided to gift us girls with some new slippers...These are like Croc shoes, with a fuzzy lining. You can wear them outside if you wish, which is something I often do...I forget what shoes are on my feet when I run outside to take a picture of something interesting flying or walking by...so these were are big hit!  I won't tell you which one is me:
 Oh, well, I guess I did tell you afterall...here we are, the "Three Musketeers". Can you tell which one was playing Santa? These were definitely "welcome visitors" to our home. Love these girls...they are wonderful friends as well as prayer partners. Such a blessing to us.

Here are some other welcome visitors...(as long as they don't eat my flowers)...This deer family has been frolicking around our neighborhood all year...it is fun to watch them come and go in and out of our yard and down the road where we like to walk.  Looks like they like to take a walk together as well. 

Now, this little Pine Warbler truly wanted to come inside for a visit the other morning. Here she is, sitting in the holly tree right outside our bedroom window.

 However, she wasn't content to stay in the tree. She kept flying up to the window and peeking inside while I was trying to get ready to go out for the day.  She was a very pleasant distraction.

Now, this visitor was NOT so welcome!  Sorry it's a bit blurry, but my hands were probably shaking! LOL.  This little lizard somehow snuck into our house this week, and terrorized us by running and hiding under things where we couldn't find it, and left us wondering where and when it would pop out at us again.  Finally, early one morning I discovered it sitting on the windowsill in our bathroom, and it seemed rather lethargic (not enough mosquitoes and bugs inside the house for it to eat, which is a good thing).  So I managed to scoop it into the dustpan and held a plastic bowl over top of it until I could safely deliver it back outside where it belongs!! He seemed very appreciative when I let him go and run into the yard. 

And last, but not least was this young visitor!
These pictures were taken by my outdoor wildlife camera, so don't be alarmed. However, this could have been a very close encounter. If you are on my Facebook page you have already seen this little story, so just "bear" with me while I tell it again...(pun intended)

One evening this week I happened to looked out at the sky from inside our house and noticed that the sky was filled with beautiful, sparkling, glittering, twinkling stars!  I told my hubby that we should go outside and gaze at the stars together. He, being totally not romantic at that moment told me to "Go ahead!" And so, I began to prepare to go outside in the front yard, where the night sky is more visible.

At exactly the same time as I was inside preparing to go outside, there was already someone outside taking an evening stroll through our yard and getting a drink for the road:

AT exactly 7:05 p.m., I opened our front door to the front porch, and began to walk out on the porch and into the front yard.  At exactly 7:05 p.m., this little bear (not really that little) heard, smelled, saw me coming out on the porch:

It looks like he was very friendly, doesn't it? See him smiling?  Now, mind you, I could not see him because it was very dark out there where he was.  The light you see around him is from the infrared lens of the night-camera...there is no flash.  So I had no clue that he was standing there smiling at me so sweetly...

However... I heard a sudden crashing sound into the woods, and realized there was more outside than just the beautiful starry skies...and therefore I rushed back into the house quite quickly...probably just as quickly as this bear rushed back into the woods to escape!
Whew! That was a close one for both of  us!!

After that close call, I decided to do my star gazing from the enclosed fenced backyard...and only for a moment or too. So much for romance! LOL.

Okay, last two pictures...this visitor was neither welcome nor unwelcome...it just came and went...
the FOG on the pond in the neighborhood.

Okay, "That's all folks!"  I hope you have only very welcome visitors to your home this Christmas! But remember to be sure to make room for Jesus in your "inn"...open the door to welcome Him in...He may be coming in the form of strangers, lonely people, or perhaps an "angel unaware"...so be ready to welcome Him in.

Now, let's go over and gaze at Deb's place at Breathing in Grace, and see what our other Friday Foto Friends have been up to this week!!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

"In the First Light"

After my "meltdown" yesterday, so many of you gave such encouraging and loving comments, I just had to let you know how much that helped me.  I would like to apologize for ever making the comment that I hated myself...Please know that I truly don't feel that way.  Perhaps I should have said that I hate the way that I let the stresses of this season get to me every year...and I am truly working on making some changes so that next year this won't happen again. Your thoughtful words of understanding truly blessed me.

So, this morning, in the first light... as soon as I could see my way clear to "hit the road", I took off for my annual "shop til I drop" day, and am so thankful to say that God heard my prayers (and perhaps yours as well) and I was able to get everything accomplished that needed to be done...and it was done with a sense of perfect peace...God was with me...He truly cares about these details of our lives that cause us such frustration...and He gives us the strength we need to keep going even when our weariness is of our own making.

On the way home I was listening to the Christian radio station (JoyFM), and the following song was playing.  I had to look it up when I got home so I could hear it again...and I thought you would enjoy it as well.  "In the First Light" by Todd Agnew and friends.  Be sure to listen all the way to the end...this is so powerful...

After listening to that one this other song by Todd Agnew came up on the YouTube, "God With Us", and it is another powerful song that blessed me as I sat here trying to write to you and share these thoughts...

So, in the midst of all the turmoil and stress, God has reached down to us once again...to show us His love and compassion and power...to remind us that He came to save us and give us PEACE...Peace of mind, heart, and soul.  He is truly Emmanuel, God with us!

Here is the next song, Son of God, by Michael W. Smith... again proclaiming "Immanuel, Our God is with us!"

If you are feeling frazzled and weary tonight, it is my prayer that you will reach out to this baby, this Savior, This KING, Emmanuel, God WITH US, and be blessed and comforted.  What a difference a day makes...especially when God is with us!!  

Thank you again, dear friends, for your thoughts and prayers.  Also, thank you for your prayers for my friend Sharon. She began her chemotherapy actually today...and God has been blessing her with so many beautiful events happening to encourage her.  God is with her...and your prayers mean so much. Thank you. Here is the link to her Caring Bridge site, if you'd like to follow her journey. https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sharonwatson   Thank you again.

Time for bed...so I'll say good night sweet friends.  Not sure if I'll be able to do the "Friday Foto Friends" post tomorrow...we shall see what tomorrow brings. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Healing In His Wings

Malachi 4:2 "But to you who fear My name (says the Lord of Hosts), the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves."

 I know you are probably wondering what this little teapot and cup with a butterfly has to do with the above verse and story below.  I will tell you in a minute.

"The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings, 
and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves."

Interesting terminology.  I love it...and I claim it by faith on behalf of my dear friend Sharon, who has been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer, (and she has never smoked a day in her life) and she begins chemotherapy tomorrow. 
My hubby and I with our friend Sharon last week. 
The vision that imagery conjures up in my mind is one of complete health, mighty in strength and vitality; restored in every way to a full, long, and happy life. Wow! Thank you, Jesus, for this picture You have engraved in my heart right now! I pray that it will be true in every way for my friend Sharon. (Although I think she’d probably prefer not to “grow fat like stall-fed calves”…Ha Ha. Just injecting a little humor here, which I believe Sharon will appreciate). 

My friend Sharon is a remarkable woman in every way. I will not even begin to try and list the ways here because it would take too long.  But last week, we went to visit Sharon in her home to pray and spend a little time just trying to encourage her as she faces this battle for her life...and what does she do?  She gives me a gift.  Yes...she gives me a gift.  The little "teapot and cup for one" shown above she had found in a thrift store somewhere and thought of me, and wanted me to have it. I was speechless!  But as I looked more deeply into this lovely little teapot, I discovered another gift...the butterfly in the bottom of the cup and also on the outside with the flowers... a butterfly! To many the butterfly is a symbol of healing, of new life, of resurrection...a thing of beauty created by our Lord to brighten our days and give us hope when we feel hopeless!

And as I looked at this wonderful gift, I knew that God wanted me to have it so that I would be reminded to pray for Sharon every day...and to have hope for her healing, and to have confidence on her behalf that indeed, "The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings"....and my friend Sharon shall "go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves"!!

I know that many of you have had your own battles to win, challenges to face, and triumphs to celebrate.  There are some of you who also have family members and friends battling serious illnesses, overcoming tragedies, and who may be learning to walk by faith through treacherous terrain. Perhaps this verse and this little story will be encouraging to you today.   And possibly you may be the one who can share this hope and encouragement with others around you. Christ has come into the world with "healing in His wings"...that's what Christmas is all about...Christ came not only to save us from our sins, but also to heal us from our wounds and illnesses and broken hearts.

Luke 4:18 (and also Isaiah 61:1-2)
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me 
to preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed;
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

Be blessed today, my friends!
Christ has come with "healing in His wings".

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Angels Were Talking...Third Sunday of Advent

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent...and as we prepare for this day and the lighting of the third candle on our Advent Wreath, the question is asked:

"Why do we light this candle?"

The response:

"Today we are lighting the Angel's Candle.  Angels spoke to Mary, to Joseph,
and to the Shepherds.  Angels are still working in the presence of God and in our midst, protecting, guiding God's people along the way."  

"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.  The virgin's name was Mary."

"And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

"But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.  Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."  Luke 1: 26-33

And to Joseph an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream and said to him,

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  Matthew 1:20-21

And then the Angel spoke to the Shepherds, who were out in the fields, "keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, and angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men!"  Luke 2:8-14
(click the YouTube video below to listen to Handel's Messiah message from the angels)

I believe that Angels are still at work in our midst....oftentimes being sent on special missions on our behalf directly from the Throne of God...

We will someday be surprised to meet the angelic ambassadors who may have rescued us from many a fall and who stood in the path of danger for us so that we would be safely  protected from the onslaughts of the enemies of God's precious children.

We may be surprised to meet them as they come to carry us heavenward someday....

and realize that perhaps we had been entertaining angels unwittingly...."Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."  Hebrews 13:2

Today let us give thanks to God for His angelic messengers, 
but most of all for the "good tidings of great joy" that they
brought to the world so many years ago...
and let us rejoice and sing along with that heavenly host:

"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth, Peace, Good will toward men!"
Previous Photos from my Christmas Tree and Nativity Scene, 2014

And below are the newest little angels added to our tree:

New little angel playing the violin, added in 2015 in loving memory of my mother
Dorothea Tedlie Mursch

Another new little angel playing the violin, a gift from my sister in law last Christmas

"Angels are often disguised as sisters"
A gift from my sister last Christmas!

Our "Angel of the Woods" atop our Christmas Tree, 2017

Have you heard the Angels talking?

Have a blessed and Holy Advent SONday!