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 28, 2018

We Are Overcomers!

Today we were blessed to attend church with our son and his bride at the wonderful little church where they were married.

We have been visiting there frequently over the past few months. It's too bad that we live thirty miles away, or we would be there more often.  After years of serving in the ministry, it is wonderful to be at a place where we feel the presence of the Lord, ministering to us..as well as to everyone around us.  "Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place". 

And what is interesting to us is that this is just a little country church, hardly big enough to hold more than 80 people maximum, with none of the popular attractions that seem to be considered so essential in the church world today...and yet today they had so many children stand up and go to "children's church" the congregation broke out into applause as we sang "Jesus Loves Me"... and when we had communion at the close of the service they ran out of "wine" (grape juice), and someone had to run out to the kitchen to get some more...or perhaps they turned some water into wine...but again...what a blessing! So many there to partake of communion they had to go get some more to serve them all...

It just goes to show that you can't always judge a book by its cover, or a church by its name.
You have to go inside, meet the people, the pastor, and partake of communion together to know whether or not the Spirit of the Lord is truly in a place...

The last couple of Sundays the pastor has been preaching about not giving up on our dreams, our hopes, our calling.  Today's scriptures were from Hebrews 12:1-2, I Corinthians 15:57-58, and I John 5:4-5.  I will quote them here for you, and then perhaps you can write your own sermon to yourself based on these verses...

Hebrews 12:1-2
1.  "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by 
so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us lay aside every weight, 
and the sin which so easily ensnares us, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2.  Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, 
Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

I Corinthians 15:57-58
57.  "But thanks be to God;
who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58.  Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

I John 5:4-5
4.  "For whatever is born of God
overcomes the world.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world...
our faith!"
5.  Who is he who overcomes the world, 
but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Perhaps you are feeling defeated, beaten down by the world, frustrated with what seems to be dead ends and no hope in sight...but those thoughts aren't coming from God, my friend.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are an overcomer through Christ!  Christ has already given us the victory that overcomes the world...Our faith!! If we believe in Jesus Christ, we will overcome this world and all the sorrows of it.
No, that doesn't mean we will never experience disappointments or grief, but it does mean that we don't have to stay locked in with our sorrows. 
"Thanks be to God...Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
"Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable, 
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

So now...
what are you going to do?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Art Museum ~ Toni's Creative Adventures

My friend Toni at https://toniscreativeadventures.blogspot.com/ comes up with these great memes for writing a "creative adventure".  Here is this week's adventure...Toni's ideas are in bold, and my adventure fills in the blanks.  I hope you'll enjoy this little visit to 
The Art Museum with me tonight.

The Art Museum

1.   With not much to do and living in the city, tonight I decided to visit the local art museum before it closed. As I entered I encountered: a tall, thin older gentleman, with wavy hair and glasses, smoking a pipe. He was dressed rather casually in off- white khaki pants and a soft blue flannel shirt.  His wrinkled white cotton handkerchief was practically falling out of his back pants pocket, and I couldn't help but notice a few splashes of various colors of paint on the toes of his shoes. In his shirt pocket were various sizes of paint brushes, rather worn with much use. In his right hand he held a small paint brush, and in his left hand he carried a palette of many colors.

2.   Looking straight at me and greeting me with a smile he said: "Oh, I'm so glad you could make it tonight. You are perfect for the model of the girl that I am trying to paint."

3.   Guiding me through the Great Room where all the great masters of art and their paintings and sculptures stood I was amazed to see: these grand old master artists hard at work. I thought I recognized some them from their portraits...but I knew it couldn't be possible that they were really there in person...I mean, that can't be Leonardo da Vinci over there dabbing the final touches on Mona Lisa's smile...can it?  It seemed as though the woman sitting for the portrait looked right at me for just an instant and winked! I was so dumbstruck I nearly tripped over the jar of paint sitting on the floor at the artist's feet.  

And then, as if that wasn't strange enough, the gentleman with the pipe took me by the hand and said, "Please keep following me...we really need to hurry!  Could you help me carry a few things?  I've got to get this painting done before it posts on Saturday Evening." 

As we hurried through the building we passed through a lovely garden, and there was a footbridge over a water lily pond, and on the other side a beautiful woman sat serenely under a canopy of lilacs, reading a book, and she looked like the epitome of springtime. Her bonnet was a delightful creation of pink flowers with ruffles around the edges, and her soft, pink gown spread out upon the grass so gracefully.  I believe I heard her say to the man painting her portrait, "Oh Claude, I could just stay here forever. It is so peaceful and delightful!"

Springtime, by Claude Monet', 1872

The gentleman with the pipe was getting impatient with me as I dawdled along, but honestly, how could I just rush through this magnificent place?  There was so much more to see...and so many of the great artists were there, painting, sculpting, creating the masterpieces that we could only read about in encyclopedias!  This was the opportunity of a lifetime! It was as if I were in a time machine, catapulting through time and seeing such marvelous beauty unfolding around me.  

Finally we entered a room, rather a studio, with many canvasses standing about on easels...each in various stages of completion, perhaps waiting for the next layer of paint to be applied. I recognized so many from the far regions of my memory. There were portraits of people, men, women, children, from all walks of life and ages, doing ordinary and extraordinary things...a family eating a Thanksgiving dinner, Baseball players and fishermen, children playing games and laughing and dreaming together, young lovers at the soda fountain after the prom, a little girl with a black eye and unkempt braids, her blouse untucked from her skirt and shoe laces untied,  sitting outside the principal's office, but looking very proud of herself...soldiers coming home from war, the young war hero telling his stories to the men in the neighborhood garage...and often, more times than not, the image of my "gentleman" seemed to look out from the canvas in various poses and styles...
"Tripleself" by Norman Rockwell

Suddenly I heard a voice over the loud speaker saying it was time for the museum to close.  I knew I had to hurry to find my way back out to the door before it was locked for the night.  The "gentleman" was so "lost" in his work back in his studio, he didn't even seem to notice that I had to leave. He never said another word, but stayed engrossed in his work, as if I didn't even exist.

I managed to find my way out to the door...

4.   Upon leaving I wondered If what I had seen was truly: real?  I hurried through the streets to get back home...all the while wondering at the mystery of where I'd been and what I had seen.  I was running so fast that I never stopped to realize that I was carrying a lot of art supplies in my hands, including a wet canvas...things I know I didn't have with me when I entered the museum. When I got home, my husband asked me where I had been and what on earth was all of this that I carried? There was no explanation for it. I was totally mystified.

However, on Saturday we received a copy of the Saturday Evening Post in our mailbox. And what do you think was on the cover of the magazine?  Yes...it was me..."The Girl Running with a Wet Canvas"...

Girl Running With a Wet Canvas, by Norman Rockwell

The End

For more information about Toni's Creative Adventures, you can visit her at this link:

Perhaps you'd like to try your hand at a creative writing experience? It is a great brain exercise! Obviously, that couldn't really be me in the picture...but then again...you'll never know for sure, will you?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday Foto Friends - "From the Setting of the Sun"

Not going to let another Friday go by without some new "fotos" to share for Friday Foto Friends.  It seems like every week I get to Thursday night and gasp! "I don't have any new pictures for Friday Foto Friends!"  Last week I think I had already shown you everything that was new earlier in the week...and we just didn't get out much to take anything new.

So, tonight (Thursday) I told hubby that I really needed to go find something to take a picture of!  We looked out the window and noticed that the sun was just in the process of going down. We can't get any really good pictures from our house because of the trees in the way, so I kind of twisted hubby's arm and begged him to please, please, please take me for a little ride so I could get a few pictures of the sun before it sets!  Bless his sweet heart, he got up off the couch from watching the TV, found his shoes and wallet and keys, and met me in the car in a few seconds!  What a guy!!

So we went to the closest place I knew of where we might be able to get a few good views before it was too late.  Here is the result in the order of their appearance:

This is another view of this marshy area where I was standing.  A year ago this was very dry, but since the hurricane this past fall, it has stayed quite wet. This is a part of Big Lake Kerr.

This Psalm just seems fitting:

Psalm 113

1.  "Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
Praise the name of the Lord
2.  Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
3.  From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord's Name is to be praised.
4.  The Lord is high above all nations,
His glory above the heavens.
5.  Who is like the Lord our God,
Who dwells on high,
6.  Who humbles Himself to behold
the things that are in the 
heavens and in the earth?
7.  He raises the poor out of the dust,
and lifts the needy out of the ash heap,
8.  That He may seat him with princes..
with the princes of His people.
9.  He grants the barren woman a home,
like the joyful mother of children.
Praise the Lord!"

So thankful to God for His glorious sunsets and sunrises...they are new every day...no two are ever the same...because our Master Designer/Creator never runs out of new beauty to create for us to enjoy!! Yes, "Praise the Lord!"  

Have a blessed and glorious day!

Now, let's all go over and visit our other friends who are sharing their fotos  today.  Thanks to Deb, our wonderful hostess, who brings us all together each week.  You are certainly welcome to join our little foto-happy group anytime!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It's the Little Things that Bring a Smile

Oftentimes in the midst of winter we begin to look for the signs of spring...hoping that it won't be a long winter and that soon we will see the flowers blooming again and the trees budding and returning back to their lush green hue...but, alas! It is only the end of January...for those of you living up north, spring is still a ways off.  For us here in Florida...spring could still be a long way off as well...but probably not as long as for you.  Actually, today it was quite warm and sunny...but cooler temperatures will be back for the weekend...so I shouldn't put away my flannels just yet...

   For those of you who read my update on the Secret Garden the other day HERE, you saw that the freezing temperatures had pretty well killed off the lovely ferns of the Secret Garden.  So today I took advantage of the warmer weather to get outside and rake the dead leaves and debris and generally spruce up the area so that the new ferns will have room to grow...(I didn't take any picture of that)...it was hard work, but it felt good to be doing something productive.  After I finished raking I just took some time to walk around and enjoy the day...looking for those "little things that bring a smile."

Here's a few:

This bird bath is in a corner of the Secret Garden, right outside my bedroom window so I can often watch the birds bathing without them being disturbed by my presence.  It's a lovely little spot that brings a smile to my face every time I look out the window. 

Today something new was added to this spot...this delightful little lawn ornament made from vintage glass dishes.  There is a woman at the local flea market who makes these, and they make such nice gifts for friends....I gave a couple of them to dear friends for Christmas this year, and at the same time I purchased this little one, but never gave it away. I kept holding on to it thinking I would need it for a special gift for someone, and today I felt a little nudge from the Lord, Who seemed to be saying..."It's for you...for the Secret Garden...go get it and put it there and enjoy it, My daughter."  I don't know why I should feel guilty when God blesses me that way. Perhaps because it was originally intended to be a gift for someone else...but God wanted to bless me today...and I want to thank Him.
Thank You, Lord, for making me feel special. I am humbled and blessed.

Same thing with this camellia bush...when I bought it before Christmas I thought for sure it was meant to be given away as a gift...but when all the gifts were given, this one plant remained...and it just seemed to belong here...and so it is budding and blooming and making me smile...

Many more buds waiting to open!! 

Back inside the sun porch I couldn't help but notice these violets are blooming profusely!  They need to be repotted into larger pots...which is on my list to to as soon as I can get some potting soil...but in the meantime they just bloom away and bring joy to all...

Now, this might not make everyone smile, but we find it interesting...This pole in our front yard has long been the "scratching pole" for the neighborhood bears...apparently a place to mark their territory...and we noticed these new scratches this morning at the bottom of the pole. There was also a very large pile of bear scat nearby, but no picture for you. I know you are thankful....!

 So I checked our outdoor wildlife camera to see if we've had any recent visitors...and here is one of the 'big boys'...

I'm not sure if the scratching on the pole signifies the beginning of mating season or just what...but it seems to happen every year...so it must have some significance.

Now on a tamer note:

I spent some time just relaxing and reading this afternoon in the memorial garden.  The birds were flying to and fro from the bird feeders to the trees and back...and keeping a wary eye on me.  There were a lot of other birds besides these cardinals, like Tufted Titmouse, Chickadees and wrens and little sparrows or finches of some kind...but they were all too quick to get a picture.  Their singing was glorious, however.  Very enjoyable...made it difficult for me to concentrate on reading...but that's okay.

Psalm 57:7-11

7.  "My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise.

8.  Awake, my glory!
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.

9.  I will praise You, O Lord,
among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.

10.  For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
and Your truth unto the clouds.

11.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth."


Why not sing along with me on this psalm of praise?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Afternoon Tea Time and a New Perspective - One year later...

This was originally written almost one year ago (1/29/2017)...I like reading back over previous posts to see what I was doing this time last year...and if there is anything new or if I need to follow up on anything...and after reading this particular post I realized that I never followed up on what was so lovingly suggested to me last year by my hubby and several others...It all sounded so plausible and wonderful at the time...but like many great ideas it kind of went in one ear and out the other as soon as I closed the computer screen...That's sad.  It was a great idea. Praying that if God still wants me to do this He will help me get back up and try again...and not give up so easily.  That's all a part of this "renewal" project for 2018.  Being renewed to new life, new ideas, new dreams...and following God's leading to be/do all that He wants me to be/do. 

How about you?  Do you have any dreams or ideas that need to be revisited in this new year?  Can we pray for each other and encourage one another as we seek God's direction and trust Him to lead us in these pursuits? 

Thank you, all of you, who wrote such encouraging words last year. I am ashamed that I didn't follow up on this. Praying now that God will show me His plan. Amen.

Original Post 1/29/2017:
Yesterday I was thrilled to find this lovely little teapot at our local flea market.  I was drawn like a magnet across the yard to it as soon as my eyes rested upon it's loveliness.

As it turned out, I actually knew the couple who was selling it, and it belonged to the man's grandmother!  So that made it even more special to me.  I brought it home and cleaned it up and did a little research on the manufacturer of this sweet little teapot:

And I found out that the McCormick Tea Company in Baltimore, MD, actually contracted with the Hall China Co. from East Liverpool, Ohio to manufacture these pots back in the 1940's-90's.  This vintage teapot was most likely from the 1950's or thereabouts, which makes it at least as old as I am!

The teapot actually came with an infuser for loose tea, which was included with my pot...so I am thrilled that it came with all of it's original parts intact, with the exception of a little chip/crack in the infuser.

So naturally, a new teapot warrants a tea party, don't you agree? Since none of the men in the house were interested in attending an afternoon tea party with me, and since it was too blustery of a day to invite anyone over at such short notice, I decided to enjoy a little tea party with my favorite baby doll, "Baby Elva"...

Here she is, all dressed up in her pink party dress, which was actually my very own baby dress! So the teapot isn't the only antique at this party!

Anyway, as I sat here in my rocking chair, sipping Red Rose Tea from a sweet, delicate little bone china "June Bouquet" tea cup that was a gift from my Grandma "Elva" Mursch (yes, Baby Elva is named after my grandmother...and in honor of the March for Life/Sanctity of Life this week, click HERE for more on that story),

I picked up one of my delightful little books about tea time to read..."So Rare a Treasure" by Sandy Lyman Clough.  Sandy is a renowned artist as well as writer...and her claim to fame is her beautiful paintings of teacups and teapots and many other lovely antique treasures.

As I sat there reading and sipping tea and munching on a delicious store-bought "Chip's Ahoy made with bits of Reese's Peanut Butter cup" cookie, I was struck with a new perspective on something that I had been thinking about earlier today.

This morning my hubby was talking to me about my blog, in particular about the new series that I'm writing, "The Secret Garden Chronicles", and he was encouraging me to think about writing a series of small devotional style books---perhaps E-books...and his idea was that they didn't have to be 365 pages long with a devotional for every day of the year, which is what my goal had always been but I'd given up on because it was too exhausting...but that perhaps I should just put together maybe 20 chapters or stories, with the photographs that I take to go along with the stories, and that a shorter style of devotional book might be more realistic.

I kind of "pooh-pooed" the idea in my mind...(but I didn't tell him that), thinking that no one would want such a short book and it would be more trouble than it was worth, etc., you know...just being negative in my thinking...and then this afternoon I picked up this little book, and as I sat there reading through it while sipping my tea and eating my cookie, I noticed that it only had seventeen chapters/stories...and it was devotional in nature, writing about the things she loves...antiques, tea cups and other "treasures", with stories from the heart...
and I was enjoying reading this little book because it wasn't exhaustive...and it was delightful and encouraging...and suddenly I realized this was exactly the kind of book my husband was trying to tell me about this morning!

Now, trust me, I know he has never picked up this book or read anything quite like it, but he was describing it to me so accurately, that I have to believe he was inspired by the Lord to tell me this.

So now, what do I do with this idea?  I do what any God-fearing woman with a crazy idea would do...I pray about it..and seek God's wisdom first.

Psalm 37:5(NKJV)

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him,

And He shall bring it to pass.
If this idea truly is from the Lord, He will bring it to pass, in His time...and in His way.  So, dear friends, will you pray with me that God would give me a clear vision as to what He wants me to do?

Lord, I place this idea in Your hands today,
and I ask that You will guide me and give me wisdom.
Thank you for my hubby and his encouraging words to me today.
If this is truly from You, Lord, 
I commit this to You,
and I will trust You
to bring it to pass in accordance with Your will.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

You Are Now Entering The Secret Garden - Updated 1-21-2018 One Year Later

I can't believe it has been a whole year since the creation of "The Secret Garden".  I was looking at these pictures earlier today, and marveling at how green and lush everything was at this time last year...and that we were wearing shorts and t-shirts!!  Not so this past week! We had several days of freezing temperatures (yes! here in Florida!)  And the picture that I will show you at the end of these original pictures will show you how the garden looks today.  

Original Post 1/22/2017:

You are now entering The Secret Garden...


"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 100:4-5

This sign and the Welcome sign above were lovingly created for the Secret Garden by my sign-maker son!

For those of you who have been following this story, you will be happy to see that "The Secret Garden" is truly becoming a reality.  God has been blessing this sacred place...yes, I call it "sacred", because it has been "set apart for the worship or service of a deity" (definition of sacred according to the Merriam Webster dictionary), and in this case, the "deity" is none other than God Almighty, Our Lord and Creator.  And most definitely this beautiful secret garden is a place of worship and praise to our God, as well as a place of service, or ministry to His children.  I am His child, and the Lord ministers to me in this place as He speaks to me through His Word, His creation, and His Holy Spirit. Not only me, but to anyone who wishes to come to this place and sit in His Presence for prayer, meditation of His Word, and/or encouragement between friends.  That is my prayer and desire for this "Secret Garden".... may it honor and glorify God in every way.

So that being said, let me take you on a tour of the newest additions to the garden....
Oh, Hello Mr. (Mrs.?) Chickadee!  Welcome to The Secret Garden...

I believe she has already taken up residence here!  How amazing is that???  And I was concerned that because I could not put any bird feeders into the Secret Garden, due to the bears that roam nearby, that I wouldn't have much bird activity to observe....guess I was mistaken!!!

"Look at the birds of the air,
for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns;
yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?"
Matthew 6:26

Perhaps we will one day welcome a family of chickadees to the garden!

 Oh wait! This same chickadee flew over to the other birdhouse and deposited more seeds into this one as well!  Could she have two nests?  Two families?  Hmmm...we will have to watch these interesting developments...

"But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;"

"Who among all these does not know 
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
in Whose hand is the life of every living thing,
and the breath of all mankind?"
Job 12: 7, 9-10

"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises."
Psalm  98:4

"How lovely is Your tabernacle, 
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints 
for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young...
even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You."
Psalm 84:1-4

(Jan. 2017) Meanwhile, back at the workshop, my two wonderful sons are finishing up the bench that was the inspiration for this marvelous Secret Garden project...

 Here they are putting on the crowning glory to the bench..."Mom's Secret Garden".... and I am in awe...

and then they placed it in the garden....

 and I am overwhelmed with the beauty of it all....

 Here's my "sign-maker son", who created all of the signs for the garden, including the "crown" for the bench...
And here I am with my other wonderful son, who found this bench in the dumpster and restored it for my Christmas surprise gift...setting the wheels in motion for the creation of this beautiful space....

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
and to sing praises to Your name,
O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
and Your faithfulness every night,
On an instrument of ten strings,
on the lute,
and on the harp,
with harmonious sound.
For You, Lord,
have made me glad
through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of
Your hands.
O Lord, How great are Your works!
Your thoughts are very deep."
Psalm 92:1-5

Thank you for joining me in this visit to The Secret Garden. I do hope you will come often and enjoy the peace and beauty of this sacred place...and give praise and glory to God.

Back to the future:
1/21/2018, one year later:

Yikes! What a difference a freeze makes!

All those lovely ferns were bitten by the frost...but actually the frost has done me a favor.  The ferns were getting too overgrown and I didn't know how I was going to thin them out...and God took care of it for me! And they will grow back in no time at all with a little rain and warm temperatures...which we had today!

This reminds me of the story in John 15:1-8, about the "Vine and the Branches"...

Jesus said in verses 1 -2:
"I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, 
and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, 
that it may bear more fruit."

Verses 4-5
"Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, 
unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, 
unless you abide in Me.
I Am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;
for without Me you can do nothing..."

This year  (2018) my "One Word" in Renew.  I think I am in a kind of "pruning" season of life...old things are being snipped away little by little, and God is renewing me and helping me to "bear much fruit" in the process...at least I hope that is going to happen. Just like these ferns, they have been frozen down to the ground so that all the old leaves have been stripped off and fallen into the dirt.  Out of that dirt will spring up new life, fresh, vibrant and green.  Old things have passed away, and they will become brand new.

Just like what it says in II Corinthians 5:17~
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!"

I am excited to see what NEW things the Lord is going to do in my life in this year. 
How about you?