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!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Comforter in the Garden - Updated

This is a repost, but well worth repeating.  

3/29/2018:  This has been a week for "comforting" in the garden. Just last evening I sat in this very garden with my dear daughter in law, whose mother had passed away early that morning after a prolonged illness.  Even after "prolonged illnesses" our hearts are broken when a loved one is finally called home to heaven.  I was able to share some of the ways God had comforted me with the passing of my own mother and also our son. I pray the Lord will comfort our sweet daughter in law and her family during this time of sorrow, just prior to Easter.  My own father passed away just prior to Easter, and I remember thinking how marvelous that he would be celebrating Easter in heaven with Jesus! What a glorious time to enter heaven's gates! And, if it weren't for Easter and all that Jesus did for us at that time, we wouldn't even have an opportunity to enter heaven at all. Hallelujah, What a Saviour! (click here for a previous post about this song)

Original Post 3/24/16:

"Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; 
nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.
Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.  
Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
Luke 22:42-44

I was sitting in my garden, enjoying the sounds of the birds and admiring the beauty of the flowers blooming on this lovely spring day, when suddenly it hit me:  Today is Maundy Thursday...the day Christians remember that this was the day that our Lord went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed...the night before His crucifixion and death.  It was in the garden that the Bible tells us He prayed to His Father, pleading if it were possible to "take this cup away from Me"...meaning the cup of His sacrifice of His life for the sins of the world...knowing that He would actually become sin for us, so that we would no longer be lost in our sins.  The Bible tells us that Jesus was actually in agony, so much so that "His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

In Luke's Gospel quoted above, we are told that "an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him."

I had never noticed this particular passage until this past Sunday when we read it in our Bible Study time.  It truly touched my heart to think that our Lord was suffering so greatly that God the Father actually sent an angel to comfort Him and give Him strength for the horrendous journey ahead.

As I was writing this just now a friend called me and asked me to pray for her daughter. We've been praying for this dear one for quite a while. She's been going through some very difficult surgeries and has a serious bacterial infection right now.  As I spoke with this distraught mother, I visualized this angel comforting Jesus in the garden...and I reminded my friend of this story as she had also been here with us on Sunday when we discovered this verse in our time of worship and Bible study. We both were comforted as we thought about the angel comforting Jesus...and realized that God sends His angels to comfort us during times of distress as well.  The angel may come in the form of a friend who is there to pray or lend a helping hand. Or perhaps a word of scripture that gives hope and encouragement at just the right moment...much like this one.

I don't know about you, but I find this so comforting. Jesus was not alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, even though His disciples had fallen asleep just a stone's throw away when He had asked them to watch and pray with Him.  God the Father saw His Son's agony and sent an angel to minister to Him.  God sees our agony and sends His angels to comfort us...just when we need it most.

My garden above is a special place set aside in our yard to honor the memory of our son, who died in May of 2014.  I love to sit there and pray and think about God's mercy and grace.  Even though our son died after a long battle with cancer, God did not leave us comfortless.  He sent His angels to minister to us throughout that long ordeal...and His Holy Spirit is always with us to comfort us during our times of grief.  

Maybe there are some of you who need these words of comfort today. Perhaps you are in your own kind of "Garden of Gethsemane"... and this picture of Jesus being strengthened by the angel might give you hope.  I hope so.  

Remember...even though things may look dark today...Sunday is coming...Easter day! The day we celebrate Christ's resurrection from the dead...the day He burst forth from the tomb victorious over death to give us life everlasting!  So...no matter how bleak things may appear today...we have this hope in Christ Jesus! Victory is on the horizon!  

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Secret Garden Chronicles - How Can It Be?

(Written on) Palm Sunday-The beginning of "Holy Week"...

So much to ponder...sitting in the Secret Garden...it is breezy and warm...lovely Sunday afternoon...

"Be still and know that I Am God" (Psalm 46:10)...
the words of the verse stare at me from across the garden...

I sit in the stillness and wait on the Lord.

It wasn't so still for You, Lord,
as You rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that day...
The little children sang "Hosanna"
the people waved palm branches and rejoiced to see You. 
They hailed You as their King and Savior...
and five days later they crucified You.

How can it be, Lord?
And yet, how can it not be?

"Amazing love! How can it be...
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!"

And then three days later...
Mary and the other women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body with spices...
and when they arrived...
they discovered the stone had been rolled away!
When they entered the tomb, they saw a "young man" in a white robe sitting there...
and he said to them,
"Do not be alarmed.  
You seek Jesus of Nazareth, 
who was crucified.
He is risen!
He is not here!
See the place where they laid Him.
But go, tell His disciples...and Peter...
that He is going before you into Galilee,
there you will see Him, as He said to you."
(Mark 16: 1-7)

Mary was the first one to tell the others that Jesus was alive!

Mary went back to the tomb later...and she wept as she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
(see John 20)

In the stillness of the garden where the tomb was, Jesus appeared to Mary...
She thought He was the gardener...
But when Jesus called her by name, she recognized His voice!
She knew then it was the Lord!
She knew His voice...
because she knew Jesus...
He called her by name...
because He knew her, and He loved her...

"My sheep hear my voice..."  
(See John 10:1-18)
"I Am the good Shepherd, and I know my sheep...
and am known by My own.
As the Father knows me,
even so I know the Father,
and I lay down My life for the sheep."
"No one takes it from Me,
but I lay it down of Myself. 
I have power to lay it down, 
and I have power to take it again..."

"And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died He for me, 
who caused His pain,
for me, who Him to death pursued!
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
(hymn by Charles Wesley)

He knows my name...
I hear His voice, and I know that He loves me...
because He died for me,
so that I might live...

This dove sat above me in the Secret Garden,
quietly watching and listening as I sang the song above...
he never moved...just watched  and waited in the "Sanctuary"

The dove is a symbol of peace...
and also a symbol of God's Holy Spirit...
And I felt His Presence there in the garden as I listened for His voice...and heard Him speaking to me.

As I sat there I was praying for one of our neighbors, who had to leave suddenly in the morning because they received the news that their adult son was in serious condition, his life hanging between life and death...I prayed for them, and for their son and his family. Prayed for God to be with them and to carry them home safely. 
Prayed for their son, that God's will be done, knowing that he belonged to Jesus...
and I received word this morning when I woke up that their son had passed into heaven during the night. 
He passed from this life into life eternal...carried by the angels to heaven...
Oh! What joy for him...but what sorrow for his family today. 
Lord, I lift up this dear family to you today, and pray that they will be comforted in knowing that when You called their son's name, he knew Your voice, and he answered with joy...
"Here I am, Lord..."
And I know that You said to him,
"Welcome home, son."
But Lord, please wrap Your loving arms around this precious family and give them peace in knowing that their son is with You, and that he is safe in the arms of Jesus today.
I know what this feels like...to see a son leave this earth for heaven...
and there are no easy words to say...
but our comfort is in knowing that our child is with Jesus...
Finally Home...because of what Jesus did for us on that cross so many years ago...

"Because He lives...I can face tomorrow."

(Postscript: This post replaces the weekly Sermon Notes for this week, as it is based in part on Sunday's message, and how God applied it as the day progressed...)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Celebration of Journaling- The Beginning of "The Secret Garden Chronicles" Revisited

I used to belong to a wonderful blogging group known as "Random Journal Day", hosted by a very enthusiastic friend, A.K.A. "Enthusiastically Dawn".  Click on this link to Dawn's present day journaling exercise...https://enthusiasticallydawn.com/2018/03/24/an-invitation-to-celebrate-journaling/  and you will realize that she has orchestrated a reunion of sorts for all of us former "Random Journal Day" members, as  well as any newcomers who would like to join in the celebration. 

The idea is to randomly share something from one of your own personal journals...from the past or present time.  We did this for a few years until we kind of all either ran out of material or started pursuing other interests...but it was such a fun time and we were such a lovely group that we knew we had to get back together somehow. 

In the meantime, some of our original group members have even published their own books...Susie Klein formerly known as "Recovering Church Lady", and now of "Walking Butterfly" fame. (click HERE for more details)   Cecelia Lester, A.K.A. "Following My King", and the author of "Times of Trouble Brings Rays of Joy".  And our fearless leader, Dawn Paoletta, of "Enthusiastically Dawn", and the author of "Journaling for Discovery and Delight".  I know there are others, but these are the three that I am most familiar with, and I have purchased each one of these books...and enthusiastically recommend them all!!

So now, for our reunion, I would like to share my most recent "journaling" adventure, which started last year with the creation of my own personal secret garden.  Click Here for more about that story  One thing led to the other as I sat there in my little sanctuary, and finally, God directed me to go get a new "journal" and start writing as I sat there.  The following post is that story. 

I would like to say that I kept up this practice faithfully ever since...well, I did pretty well the first six months or so, and then things got busy....it got hot in the garden...my son got married in the fall, and then it was Christmas, and then it was too cold in the garden...and so on and so on.  I am now trying to get back in the routine, and perhaps Dawn's enthusiastic reminder to celebrate journaling will help me get back on track.  I would like this to become the foundation for my future book someday, so that one day I can be added to that "Hall of Fame" of published authors...but all in God's good timing.

Meanwhile, why don't you join me in a visit to "The Secret Garden":

Original Journal Post: January 24, 2017  
"The Secret Garden Chronicles"

This morning I entered The Secret Garden, to sit and ponder what messages the Lord would send to me through His Word and His lovely creation.

The first thoughts that came to me were:

"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."
Psalm 84:1-2
As I looked above me I could see new growth of leaves on the Wild Black Cherry Tree that will help shade the Secret Garden throughout the summer months and also provide natural food for the birds.  This brought a smile to my face and joy in my heart for the many ways the Lord provides for His children and creation.

And then I began to sing the chorus (written by Matt Redman) that actually comes directly from Psalm 84:

How lovely is Your dwelling place
O Lord Almighty for my soul longs
And even faints for you

For here my heart is satisfied
Within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

One thing I ask and I would seek
To see Your beauty
To find you in the place Your glory dwells

My heart and flesh cry out
For you, the living God
Your spirit's water to my soul
I've tasted and I've seen

Come once again to me
I will draw near to you
I will draw near to you
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

As I was reading these verses and singing this song, my eyes were lifted to the treetops surrounding me, and it truly felt like I was sitting in a lovely tabernacle, with the perfectly blue sky as the ceiling, and the treetops were pointing up like a church spire, lifting their hands in praise toward God Almighty.

And then I know I heard God say to me to start writing these thoughts down as I sit here in the garden...this is what He spoke to my heart:

"Don't wait and try to remember the words I speak to you 
when you get back inside the house to your computer...
but GO, get a new journal and begin to write
the messages as I tell them to you.
I want you to write a journal from
The Secret Garden...
My Own Messages to you from My Heart."

A little later my hubby and I took a ride to the nearest store where I could find a new journal book and begin writing...so here it is...

This may be the beginning of some very special communications between God and me...and I look forward to  sharing what He wants to teach me here in this place that has been set apart for prayer, worship and meditation on God's Word.  

Thus begins 
"The Secret Garden Chronicles"

Then I was directed to Psalm 86:10-12

"For You are great,
and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your Name.

I will praise You,
O Lord my God,
with all my heart.
And I will glorify Your Name forevermore."

Yes, Lord, This is my prayer as I begin this new adventure in The Secret Garden with You!
Make Your Presence known to me Lord...here in the "Secret Place of (Your) Tabernacle."
(Psalm 27:5)

"One thing I have desired of the Lord,
that will I seek;
That I may dwell in the 
house of the Lord
all the days of my life
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in His temple.

For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavillion;
In the SECRET PLACE of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be 
lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer 
sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes I will sing 
praises to the Lord."
Psalm 27:4-6

Thank You, Lord, for speaking to Me today.  I am ready to do Your will!  Amen.

Back to the present:
I hope you enjoyed this visit to The Secret Garden today.  I hope to see you again soon!!
Be blessed, my friends...and be sure to write it all down when it happens...or even when it doesn't happen...write it down! It's all good!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Foto Friends...Come into my kitchen...

Well friends, it is time for Friday Foto Friends again...and I was thinking about something all week after one of our friends made a comment in last week's Friday foto Friend's post that I should show more of my kitchen...and my response to her was that I feel like I've shown a lot of my kitchen through the years in various posts,  all you have to do is type in the search bar on my blog page the word "kitchen", and it will pull up anytime the word "kitchen" was used in my posts. But that could take a long time to read through all of them, because it seems like my kitchen is a prominent place in my home and life and writing...much of our real living takes place in our kitchen!

(No cleaning was done in the preparation for this post...this is the real deal...) You may recognize that window and sign above from my header. The sign was created especially for me by my son the builder/sign maker.  Why that particular verse? Because  that is what it seems to be outside that window...all of heaven and nature are singing every day!

Anyway, that got me to thinking that this week I would show a few kitchen pictures, but then I would like to challenge the rest of you to do the same in your future posts.  It would be fun to see your favorite spots in your kitchen...and maybe even some of your not so favorite spots...things you'd like to change...or things you have recently changed.  I know another of our friends, Creations by Cindy, is currently doing a kitchen makeover at her house...and she's been sharing the progress...so why not do this?  Sound like fun?  It will be fun to see how many of you read this and accept this challenge sometime in the future!!! Please let us know when you do!

I shared this little poem in one of my previous "kitchen" posts, but thought this would be a good way to start off these pictures today:

My Little Kitchen Prayer
"Bless my little kitchen, Lord
I love its every nook
And bless me as I do my work,
Wash pots and pans and cook.
May the meals that I prepare
Be seasoned from above
With Thy Blessings and Thy Grace,
But most of all, Thy Love.
As we partake of earthly food,
The table Thou hast spread,
We'll not forget to thank Thee, Lord
For all our daily bread.
So bless my little kitchen, Lord
And those who enter in,
May they find naught but Joy and Peace
And Happiness therein. "

Author Unknown

So...why don't you "Come into my kitchen and chat with me while I prepare a pot of tea?"  (needlepoint created by my Grandma Mursch many years ago, and given to me from her home after she passed away since I was the one who also liked to drink tea!)

How about a Blueberry Bran Muffin to go with your cup of tea?

  I used the recipe on the Publix BranFlakes box, but I didn't make the topping that is on this recipe...and I also substituted 3 tablespoons of applesauce for the 3 tablespoons of oil in the recipe...other than that everything was the same, and they were delicious! I also used the large muffin tins instead of the usual normal cupcake size.

So now that you have a muffin and a cup of tea...let's start the tour...

I will start in one of my favorite spots...the rocking chair and reading corner.  Actually, my kitchen and dining room are connected, separated only by an island, so I can't very well show you just my kitchen without including some pictures from the dining room as well.  
This little corner is my favorite spot to sit and read, sip a cup of tea, look through cookbooks, or even visit with a friend while waiting for supper to cook...or after supper is over and I just want to hide away from the rest of the "world" for awhile. I love that this window looks out onto our front porch and front yard, where I can watch the birds, deer, and possibly see a bear now and then walk by!
 The bookshelf is filled with lovely little books about teatime, as well as cookbooks and other kinds of gift books of poetry or devotionals for women.  My son the builder built the bookshelf for me several years ago, and I dearly love it!  The Tea Time Calendar on the wall is an annual Christmas gift from my sister!  Some of my favorite teapots and cups are also on this little shelf.  

Looking to my right from the rocking chair, you can see the antique china closet that belonged to my husband's grandmother, "Nanny Martin", also the picture of her sweet little "pink house", along with part of my doll collection, and other odds and ends. (This picture was taken around Christmas, hence the Christmas tablecloth!)

 When I took this following picture earlier this week, we had just celebrated my youngest son's birthday, so here is the remainder of his birthday cake...  The white china closet is the one I refinished/painted a year or so ago (I've lost track of time). I thought I did a post about this, but I can't find it, so maybe I didn't...anyway that's it...it was a job redoing it! It was an ugly brown formica body, with some real wood on the doors, and I painted it white and distressed it to look old, since it is old. My son added the crown molding to the top to give it more height and style...  The curio cabinet to the right is full of "curios"...I may do a different post on that sometime...
 Next to the china cabinet is my husband's grandmother's Hoosier cupboard, that I also refinished many years ago...now that was a real job!  And speaking of real jobs, please notice the floor...that was another major project...
And speaking of islands:  The island is probably the hub of the whole kitchen/dining room. This is where we bake cookies and cakes, prepare  many meals, and serve buffet style for our many group/family gatherings.  There has been a lot of love and activity around this island...and yet, it is probably the one part of the kitchen that needs to have a major makeover...
 The island countertop is made of painted plywood, and I have added some large ceramic tiles that were samples to use as a more durable surface for cooking and serving hot dishes.  The cabinet base is very old and not in great shape...needs to be redone from the inside out. I am waiting for my builder/cabinet maker son to create a new top for the island and possibly new cabinets as well underneath some day.  I have some ideas for using reclaimed wood for the top, but that may change.  Anyway, until then it still functions and serves the purpose very well. I cannot imagine this kitchen without it!
 As we move over into the kitchen side of the room, here is another of my favorite spots...the tea cupboard and beverage station... This cabinet was the subject of another post years ago...
 This is where I make my pot of tea every morning...(and the coffee pot is next to the tea pot, but that is for my hubby, not me! LOL)
 On either side of the kitchen windows over the sink are these cute little old fashioned corner shelves, which I have loaded with doodads and knicknacks and bird houses and stuff to dust...
 And this cubby hole above the microwave is another place to display bean crocks and an American Flag serving tray...
 Of course no kitchen would be complete without a refrigerator covered with magnets and pictures of grandkids/family and other important stuff... Right next to that is another cabinet my son built for the kitchen...this holds some vintage dishes and of course, "Pinky the Flamingo" cookie jar...

 Looking back to the other side of the kitchen is the entrance to the laundry room, and straight through there goes into our master bathroom, which is also a kind of "utility" area, where I have an extra refrigerator and my sewing machine, in addition to our bathroom!  Definitely a "multi-purpose" room!

My most favorite spots in the kitchen have to be the windows above the sink, and the deep window sills.  This is a great place to display my little "friends", as well as a "fairy bouquet" from the Secret Garden... 
 This little plaque on the windowsill reminds me daily of this blog..."Remember...When God closes a door, He opens a window!"
 This is also a place where I pray for our family and friends, and remember our precious son Matthew... (the fisherman was a decoration on Matthew's birthday cake, his last birthday with us before he passed into heaven at the age of 41.  Matthew loved fishing, and it cheers me to think of him like this. I wonder if there is fishing in heaven?)

I spend a lot of time at these windows, looking out at the birds and bunnies and whatever other beauties God puts on display...  (roses from the garden...)

And look who showed up today (Thursday) for the first time this spring?!!  Yep, "Mrs. Ruby Throated Hummingbird" is back!!!  So happy I had already put the feeder out just in case...

And there she goes!!!

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my kitchen. 
It is definitely the "heart" of our home... 
a place where love abides.

Now let's buzz over to see what our other Friday Foto friends are cooking up at  Deb's place, Breathing in Grace