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!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Speaking for the Silent Ones...Revisited Again !!! (July 2017)

UPDATE 7/31/2017: Today is the 7th anniversary of our receiving this precious gift in our lives.  Just couldn't let the day go by without acknowledging the gift, the giver, and the story behind our sweet "Baby Elva".

Originally written July 31, 2010:  Today I received a special gift from a dear friend...even though she is a person *whom I have never had the privilege of meeting in person*...we are dear friends, nonetheless.  My friend Cyndi* is a very gifted person...and one of her many talents is that she creates beautiful baby dolls.  Her dolls are each uniquely created either in memory of or as a special tribute to someone who lives, once lived, or should have lived.
(*See the added note from 2013 at the bottom for an update on this...)
Baby Elva - On the day of her arrival, July 31, 2010

Baby Elva, One Year Later - July 31, 2011-- still such a good baby!!!

Baby Elva Celebrates Her 1st Birthday...
The gift I received is Baby Elva, named in honor of and as a tribute to my Grandma Mursch, known to those who loved her as Elva Hill Mursch.

I am so pleased to share with you Baby Elva's story:

Way back in the year 1895 there was a little baby girl born somewhere in Pennsylvania.  Her birth parentage is uncertain...her ancestry is hidden from our search...we know absolutely nothing about how or where her life began...but we now know that she was born on a snowy frigid December day in the year 1895, and that her birth name was Elva Sowers.  I have recently discovered that a young man named Abraham Lewis Smith, (a relative? the father? an uncle?) actually adopted her and gave her the name of Elva Smith when she was about six months old. The certificate of adoption that has surfaced states that "the welfare of the said minor child will be promoted by such adoption, and that the mother of the child consents thereto." 

We don't know why her mother gave her up for adoption...nor do we have any clue as to why her father or grandparents did not claim her.  What we do know is that Mr. Smith and little Elva somehow ended up as boarders in the home of George and Mary Hill around the year 1900.  Some time after that Mr. Smith decided he could not keep young Elva, and she was consequently adopted by George and Mary, and she was then given the name of Elva Hill.
My Grandmother Elva and
My Grandpa William Mursch
George and Mary Hill could not bear children of their own, and so they gave Elva  a home and loved her as their own. To their credit, they also fostered and adopted several other precious children and gave them the opportunity to live happy and productive lives as well.  Young Elva grew and prospered in rosy health and strength under the tender care of these people...so much so that she lived to be 89 years old, and was the mother to four of her own precious children, including my father, and nine grandchildren...of which I am one.

Of course this story goes on and on in the lives of all of the current and future generations that have emanated from her life.  We have become a vibrant, healthy, strong family tree...a tree that would not exist if my great-grandmother had not chosen life...if my great-grandfather had not allowed my grandmother to be born and had instead insisted on ending the life of the child he had fathered...whether legitimately or not...we will never know.  What we do know is that she lived, and because she was allowed to live, here I am.

Have you ever thought about where you would be today if your grandparent had been aborted instead of being allowed to live? I have thought about that so many times...and have thanked the mysterious great-grandmother for allowing my Grandma to live.  I know, you are probably thinking that it wasn't like that at all...probably the poor mother was too sick to survive the labor and delivery of her child...that happened a lot back then...but even so, today the "poor mother" would be encouraged to end the life of her unborn "fetus"... the "fetus" would never know the difference..."after all, it's not a human until birth"...so they say... I wonder...what does God say...?  The Psalmist seems to think that God has a different viewpoint...

"For YOU formed my inward parts; YOU covered me in my mother's womb.  I will praise YOU, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are YOUR works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was NOT HIDDEN FROM YOU, WHEN I WAS MADE IN SECRET, AND SKILLFULLY WROUGHT IN THE LOWEST PARTS OF THE EARTH. YOUR eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  AND IN YOUR BOOK THEY ALL WERE WRITTEN, THE DAYS FASHIONED FOR ME, WHEN AS YET THERE WERE NONE OF THEM." 
Psalm 139:13-16

Yeah, this is something that I think about a lot.  I know there are many who do not share my thoughts on this subject... But here's one more thing to think about...What would have happened if Mary had decided to abort her illegitimate child, Jesus?  What if Joseph had demanded that she be stoned...or the baby be aborted, because of the possibility of her committing fornication prior to their marriage? Hmmm, now that's something to think about! Yes, abortion certainly has an impact on the whole human race. 
I am so thankful that my Great Grandmother chose life...and that little Elva Sowers Smith Hill lived, was adopted and  grew up to become my Grandmother.

Elva Sowers Smith Hill Mursch.

December 27, 1895- December 16, 1984
My Dad, "Billy" Mursch

The Mursch Children and a neighbor boy
Paul, Bill (my Dad), Ruth, Marion and neighbor
"Elva" (My Grandmother) on a camping trip/hike with her
children: Lto R: Paul Mursch, Billy Mursch(my dad), Ruth Mursch,
Elva Mursch, and Marion Mursch...somewhere in the Adirondack Mtns.
My Grandma Elva Hill Mursch, circa 1950's

Mursch Family 1982 - Grandma Mursch above front right.
Mursch Family 2005
Grandma (Elva), far right, and Grandpa Mursch with their four children
and my mother, when my mother met the family for the first time! Circa 1940
These pictures are only part of the Mursch Family tree...the part coming from my Dad, William F. Mursch's branch of the tree.  Add to that the families from his siblings, and all of their children, and their children's children, and so on and so on...What a big empty space there would have been if my Grandmother Elva had not been allowed to live!
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the real "Baby Elva", my grandmother, and for all the other precious babies who have been given a second chance to live because their Mamas chose "life" instead of the "easy way out" of a difficult situation. And Lord, for all those sweet and precious little souls who didn't get a chance to live because of the choices made for them...we know they are safe in Your arms today.  We pray for those parents who made those decisions, whether in ignorance or deliberately, that somehow they would find the peace of forgiveness and rest for their own hurting souls. We ask this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Postscript:  7/11/2013  *I wanted to add this picture to this story...

Earlier this year (2013) I was thrilled and privileged to actually meet in person my
dear friend "Cyndi", the creator "birth mother" of my sweet baby doll "Elva".  Cyndi and 
her wonderful hubby traveled all the way to Florida from Minnesota to meet me and to have 
a reunion with her beautiful baby Elva!  This is a friendship that began on Facebook, and God
has blessed that long distance connection with a true friendship...a precious friend I will always
be thankful for. Doesn't God work in mysterious ways? Yes, He truly does...and He loves to 
bless His children with good things and heavenly joy even here on earth! 
I am blessed beyond measure and I give God the glory.
Great things He has done!!!
"Baby Elva" on her "6th" birthday, 7/31/2016.  Still such a sweet, adorable baby...a precious gift!
8/1/2017: I wanted to add this post-script regarding the "back story" of "Baby Elva".  I've never shared this part before, and as I was relating it to a friend on Facebook this morning, I thought I should add this part of the story so that perhaps others will understand "Baby Elva's" significance even more:

My friend who created "Baby Elva" started making these dolls as a way to work through her grief over the death of her daughter, who was 8 months pregnant when she was killed by her husband. So my friend lost not only her daughter but her grandchild at the same time. She started making these babies and giving them to people as a way of bringing comfort to those who were grieving. She gave this gift to me when she first heard that our son Matthew was diagnosed with cancer. She knew that I would need something to hold and rock and love during that time, and she was right. I've never actually told that part of the story before, and I guess I should, because "Baby Elva" became a real comfort to me when we didn't know what was going to happen with Matthew. Plus, she became a sweet little "baby" to enjoy and she brightens our day. A lot of people, especially the men, don't quite understand it...but that's okay. "Baby Elva" has accomplished her mission with us...she makes us smile...and sometimes cry. But tears are cleansing... Interestingly, our "Baby Elva" arrived at our home on July 31. I didn't know it at the time, but that is also my friend's daughter's birthday. So now, when Elva's "birthday" comes around, I remember to pray for my friend who is still grieving over the loss of her beautiful daughter and grandchild. So now you know the "back story" behind Baby Elva.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Life IS Better in the Woods - Updated for Friday Foto Friends

NOTE: THIS WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 7/10/2015, SO "BEAR" WITH ME...SOME OF THIS INFORMATION HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN, but this has been a week that has been too hot to get out and take many new pictures, and here it is Friday Foto Friends day, and I don't have anything new to share. So, I will update this "old" post and re-share! I hope you don't mind!  Some things have not changed at all, and then again, quite a lot has changed!!

My son creates these wooden signs...you can learn more about that  on his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BensWoodSigns - BUT UPDATE 7/28/17: Lately he hasn't been doing signs as he has a full time job AND is now engaged and is spending most of his "free" time with his lovely fiance', planning their upcoming wedding in November!!  Once they get settled he does hope to get back into the sign business "on the side" as time permits!

What this particular sign has inspired in me is a sense of thankfulness for the fact that yes, MY life IS better in the woods!  We moved out to the forest about 3 1/2 years ago, (NOW 5 1/2 YEARS) and since then life has truly been one adventure after another.  We've discovered myriads of interesting wildlife, as well as receiving the blessing of many new friends.  (Click on the links for more about those stories).  But the greatest gift has been the peace that comes over me each afternoon as I leave my busy job in the city and enter the quiet sanctuary of the forest woods    UPDATE:  This post was originally written about four months before I retired...so now I get to live in this "quiet sanctuary" all the time!!!  And sometimes it isn't so quiet, but I still love it!
and country roads that lead me home. I really don't even mind the fact that I must drive over 30 miles each way to and from work.  The ride is a time of thankfulness as I enjoy the scenes and sights of nature surrounding my journey and listen to delightful songs of praise and worship all the way. This always helps set the tone for my day on the way to work...and again on my way home my heart is prepared for the tasks that await me.  UPDATE:  I don't miss that ride to and from work every day now that I am retired, but I do miss the times of listening to the music as I drove along...now I take rides with hubby and we talk, which is nice....and sometimes we make music together as we ride, which is especially nice.

Some people don't really understand how we could enjoy living so far from "civilization"....it is at least 20 miles to the nearest Walmart, and we currently don't have a viable grocery store in our community  (UPDATE: We now DO have a small grocery store that reopened earlier this year, and it is great for meats and necessities, but we still travel to Walmart at least once a week for the BIG stuff!)  and only a couple small restaurants in the area that serve a limited menu at limited times. We DO have a small hardware store, post office, Dollar General and a gas station/handy store. We also have a wonderful Saturday flea market where my son sells his signs each week to the weekend visitors and locals.   (UPDATE: See earlier note about this...he's not selling his signs at the Flea Market right now, but may do so in the fall again as time & fiance' permits!  Ha ha!)

 We also have several excellent small churches, including our own home Bible Fellowship that meets in our home every Sunday morning for worship and study of God's Word.  UPDATE: Our Home Bible Fellowship is now meeting on Wednesday mornings due to changes in everyone's schedules. 

And so wonderfully, we have God's great outdoors and many opportunities for enjoying nature via hiking, boating,

fishing, hunting or simply watching the birds,



and butterflies.


trees, berries and interesting insects
of every kind abound.

There are so many places to explore...(if only it wasn't so hot right now...but fall is on its way)

I find myself longing to strike out on my own in search of adventure...but I am reminded that there ARE bears

in the woods, (and right in front of my house!)   and I need to be safe.

Anyway, I want to pause and give thanks to the Lord for His goodness to us in providing such a place of refuge for our family.  There was a time when we didn't know how we were ever going to find an affordable home to help us ease into retirement...but God truly surprised us when He opened THIS window of opportunity.  He proved to us that not only was HE able to provide for us, but that He had prepared special people to be kind and generous and willing to take a chance on us until we could stand on our own again. And now He has enabled us to do just that, and we want to say thank you. (No names needed, God knows).

"O Lord, YOU are the portion of 
my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me 
in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand
I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad,
and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your
Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your Presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand 
are pleasures forevermore."

Psalm 16:5-11

I suppose there may be some who will say that this is all well and good for you, but what about me? When is God going to show ME some pleasant places and a refuge from the world?  I cannot answer for God, but I can only say that when we put our trust in Him, He promises in His Word to show us the "path of life", and that "in (His) presence is fullness of joy".  For you it may not be in the woods, but it might be in a different neighborhood, or job, or place of worship.  It could be a new friendship or relationship that brings joy and fulfillment after a long wait.  It could even be finding that place of contentment right where you are when you realize that God is with you and that He will never leave your side.

I read a verse in my morning devotions a couple of days ago that stood out to me and also caught my husband's attention, so much so that he asked me to find it again the next morning and read it again.
The verse is found in Psalm 17:15 ~

"As for me, I will see Your Face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I 
awake in Your likeness."

This is complete contentment and peace...to be satisfied when we awake one day in heaven, and to find that we shall be like HIM.  Knowing that helps us to endure our trials here. That, and the knowledge that "in Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Thank you, Lord, for Your Presence here and now...
and forevermore!

UPDATE:  I hope you managed to read through all of the "strike-through's" as I attempted to update this post and bring it up to date. I guess I didn't realize just how much has changed since I originally wrote this two years ago! So much can change in such a short amount of time...so we need to live each day as if it could be our last...and give God the glory and praise He is so worthy of every single day!

Now, let's hop on over to Bev's place at Breathing In Grace  and see what our other friends are posting today for Friday Foto Friends.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer Reading Adventure: "Revenge!"

If you have been following along with my summer reading book reviews of the The Glade Series written by Martha Jane Orlando, you may recall that in the last book in the The Glade Trilogy, The Moment of Truth, we left off with the thought that "The Moment of Truth" had come, and when the truth finally came out, peace reigned once again in The Glade."   However, the story didn't stop there!

Not too long after finishing that book I received all three books in the next series, "Adventures In The Glade",  and I couldn't wait to sit right down and dig into them.

The first book in this series, Revenge!, picks up where The Moment of Truth left off.  I may have thought that "peace reigned once again in the Glade", but I have to tell you, that peace was very short-lived! 

While Davy "The Chosen One" and his family, along with all the "Old Ones" in the Glade were rejoicing that evil cousin Ronnie's plans to take over the land surrounding their Sanctuary had been thwarted by quick action, Ronnie is plotting to get his revenge. His greedy and vengeful actions end up causing much sorrow and distress to not only the inhabitants of the Glade, but also for himself. Swift action by the wise old owl,  better known as "Reverend", may have miraculous results for Ronnie, but has placed the sanctuary of the "Old Ones" as well as Reverend's very own life,  back in serious jeopardy.

Now it is left up to Davy, "The Chosen One" to try and save "Reverend"....but will he be able to do so in time to keep the Glade and "The Old Ones" from disappearing from the face of the earth?

Revenge! is definitely an action-packed adventure, which shows us up close the battle between good and evil...light and darkness.  And the development of trust, faith and forgiveness aren't just for young Davy...but also for his mother and step-father and the rest of the family.  Reminders from the past found in step-dad Jim's Bible give courage and comfort to them when they need it most:

Psalm 138:7
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life;
You stretch out Your arm against the anger of my foes, 
with Your right hand You save me."

Without knowing this truth from God's Word, Davy and his family and friends would be without much hope in the midst of all the tragedies around them.

I can only say that I was extremely grateful to already have in hand the next book in the series, Redemption, when I came to the end of this story. 

I hope you will tune in next time to hear more about the continuing saga of Davy and his friends.  I can tell you one thing, Martha Jane Orlando is a master of suspense and keeping the reader on the edge of her recliner! Or porch swing, or rocker, or wherever you happen to be reading this summer. For me, right now it's in the cool house in the recliner! Thank you, Martha, for providing such wonderful reading adventures for me this summer! It has been a delight to enter the world of Davy and "The Old Ones" in the Glade. 
Until next time, keep believing!!!

Wednesday's Wisdom

We've all heard the saying, "The early bird catches the worm", right?
Well, this Cardinal is proving that true, in a sense...
We observed him sitting on top of our car early yesterday morning, 
which is parked right under the sycamore tree.
Hanging down from the tree was a spider web with some kind of insect attached.  
This innovative and intelligent Cardinal discovered that by sitting on top of the car he could actually dine on this captured feast without having to strain his wings at all! 
Not too sure that the spider was very happy about this confiscation of his "goods", 
but, like the old proverb says,
"The early bird catches the worm!"

Another good proverb, from the 
  Book of Proverbs 20:13 says:

"Do not love sleep, 
lest you come to poverty;
Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread."

(or worms..or bugs caught in spider webs?)

I hope you enjoyed this bit of wisdom taught to us today by Mr. Cardinal...
with a little help from King Solomon!

Have a blessed day!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"Go Out With Joy!"

"Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters..."
Isaiah 55:1a

"Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live..."
Isaiah 55:2b-3a

"Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near."
Isaiah 55:6

"Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord;
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with His truth."
Psalm 96:12-13

"For you shall go out with joy,
and be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."
Isaiah 55:12

Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
For the Lord is great
and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods."
I Chronicles 16:23-25

"Let the heavens rejoice,
and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations,
"The Lord reigns."
II Chronicles 16:31

I hope these verses have brought peace and joy to your heart today. No matter how difficult our lives may be, or how terrible things may seem in the world...it is encouraging to take time to remember and proclaim, "The Lord Reigns!"  We need to "proclaim the Good News of His salvation" every day...and tell everyone we meet of God's excellent greatness and His love for us. Jesus is coming soon...let us not grow weary, but rejoice in this Good News! 

If you've been reading along lately, you know that our family has some exciting days ahead as we prepare for the upcoming wedding of our oldest son.  So we have lots of additional reasons to rejoice. No firm date has been set yet, but it will probably be sometime this fall, so things could get very interesting around here!

I know I've shared this song before, but it seems appropriate to add it today. Sing along with the Gaither Homecoming group and enjoy!!  "The Trees of the Field"

For a similar previous post CLICK HERE!  
Have a blessed and glorious day my friends!!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Rejoice With Us!

Romans 12:15 a. "Rejoice with those who rejoice..."

Psalm 28:7
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; 
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, 
and with my song I will praise Him."

Psalm 30:11
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness."

Psalm 30:5
"Weeping may endure for a night, 
but JOY comes in the morning."

What is all of this about? You may not fully comprehend the joy that I feel today!  Our oldest son has announced his engagement to a lovely young Christian woman...and we are rejoicing!

 Rejoicing because  this is definitely something to be happy about!  Rejoicing because this is an answer to many years of prayer! Rejoicing because God is so gracious and loving and kind...

You may not understand why this is such a big deal...but it is...and we give God the glory and honor and praise...for Great Things He Hath Done!!!

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh..." 
Mark 10:7-8
The engagement ring they have chosen is a combination of both of their birthstones, each cut into a heart shape. Very beautiful and uniquely their own.

P.S.  The two roses came from our Memorial Garden. Kind of an "engagement gift" from Benton's brother Matthew in heaven ....Roses for Rose and Benton...the first blooms of this year on this bush.

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad!" 
 Psalm 126:3

Rejoice with us!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rainy Saturday Family Fun

"Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
and my mouth shall praise 
You with joyful lips."
Psalm 63:3-5

Things to do on a rainy Saturday...it's the little things that mean the most...

As the storm clouds, thunder and rain roll in...

Our family is safe and dry inside...and my heart was blessed to see my "boys" playing together as in the days of yore...

 Daddy and #1 Son playing a game of "Foosball"

#1 and #3 Sons challenging each other
And Daddy and #3 son engrossed in play as #1 son watches.  This is serious business!
And I'm loving it!

And then, the power blinked off for a minute, and the wifi/internet/cable went down,
so the whole family decided to play cards for a while! Sometimes it's a real blessing when storms roll in and make families do things together again!!! (Even if we do look a little crazy!)

Yes, it is good to enjoy these special moments while you can....we know all too well that life can change in a matter of seconds and families can be torn apart, lives shattered by disease, accident, or other heartbreak...or even positive things can move families in different directions...job changes, marriage, moving away to a new location and independence...whatever the reason, we need to grab these moments while we can and spend time together...laughing, living, and loving!!

So...don't wait for the storms to come and shut down the cable, internet or wifi/cell phones to make time to "play" together and enjoy time as a family. Grab these precious moments anytime you can and focus on being a family!

"Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants all around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord."
Psalm 128:1-4