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!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Time for Enjoying God's Gifts Around Us

While many in our country are bracing for a severe winter storm,  here in Florida we have been enjoying beautiful cool, sunny days with no humidity, no bugs, no snow, not even any rain...which we need by the way...(However, I hear there is rain and cold front on the way tomorrow night...so glad we had these moments before it comes!)

So yesterday hubby and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and took a bit of a walk in the woods.  We really didn't go far, but enough for us to see that we need to plan a little better and do this more often.

The pine trees think it is springtime and are putting out their pollen and new pine cones. Seems a bit early to me, but apparently the pine trees don't think so.  If you live near pine trees, you know when it is pollen time, as your cars, outdoor furniture, anything sitting outside, will soon be covered with a fine yellow dusting of pollen. For those with allergies, it is not a very pleasant experience!

This morning we took our usual walk before breakfast down our road, which is also rather dusty right now due to lack of rain.  But if we go early enough we don't get too choked by the dust as cars drive by. Most of our neighbors who live on this road are pretty considerate when they see us out walking and will slow down so that the dust doesn't get too overwhelming.

Here I am, sporting my new Christmas gifts...3 lb. weights to carry as I walk. Hubby says it should help me build upper body/arm strength, which I need, so today was the first day I remembered to take them along.  We shall see how I feel later...

Later today I was blessed to see one of God's most beautiful creatures, a male Cardinal, taking his bath!! Yes, I stayed right there and watched the whole thing!  He didn't seem to mind, although perhaps he didn't know I was peeking since I was just inside the house looking through my bedroom windows.

 These pictures of the cardinal taking his bath so peacefully in the birdbath outside our window remind me of some words of Christ, which I think serve as a very great reminder to me and possibly for you right now:

Matthew 6:25-34

25.  "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, 
what you will eat or what you will drink;
nor about your body,
what you will put on.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

26.  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?"
 27.  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28.  So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;
 29.  And yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
 30.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
 31.  Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
32.  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
 33.  "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.

34.  Therefore do not worry 
about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

You know, friends, I needed this lesson today. I love how God shows us His abundant love and care in such simple, yet profound ways. Don't you?

I am praying now for those of you who may be in the path of the wintry blast and possibly even other serious storms and/or tornadoes.  May you feel the Presence of the Lord watching over you and protecting you from danger and discomfort. God bless you, dear friend, and stay safe and warm.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday Foto Friends...Fridays are better with friends

 Greetings to all my wonderful Friday Foto Friends...and all friends everywhere! Hope you have had a marvelous week...and hope you took pictures to prove it!  That is what Friday Foto Friends is all about...sharing our favorite pictures from the week of whatever we did, wherever we went, and whoever we were with.  You are always welcome to join us. You can link up with the group every Friday over at Deb's place, "Breathing in Grace". Click on that link to take you there.

Meanwhile this week I got inspired by a photo on Facebook that was on the "Tea for Thought" page:
Internet Photo from "Tea for Thought" Facebook Page
"Share it with someone you love"

 Some of the rest of you also enjoyed this and we kind of started talking about having a "Teddy Bear Picnic/Tea Party".   One of my friends asked me if I knew this little song, "Teddy Bears Picnic", and so I looked it up, and here it is, sung by Anne Murray.  Since listening to this, my hubby and I have both had this cute little song going around in our heads and we find ourselves singing it as we ride along on a country ride or even when we were taking a walk. It is a catchy tune and once you listen, you'll be singing it too:

 And one thing led to another.  I noticed that one of our blogging friends, Mary at "Visits with Mary" had a cute picture of a teddy bear on her header that was all dressed up with pearls and lace. (I hope she still has that header up when you go look. If not, Mary, could you post a picture again so they can see?) 

Anyway, that inspired me to dress up one of my teddybears:

 Then I noticed that another of my friends (Annie from "Cottage by the Sea") had also posted a picture of her teddy bears ready for a picnic on her Facebook page (sorry, no link for that picture, so Annie, if you want to share it on your blog they can all see it!),  and again, that inspired me to get a few of my TeddyBear friends together for a tea party:

These cute little teddies are always ready for a tea party:

 And this cute little Kitty says that "Life is One Big Tea Party"

Oh, my dollies didn't want to be left out.  Here they came with their teddy bears and picnic baskets, ready for the party!  One even brought a cake! Now they can all enjoy the party!

So that was fun.  Maybe you will want to have a little tea party with your teddies or dollies or maybe even with some real people friends. Whatever you do, have fun, and "Share it with someone you love".

Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV)

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Now on to other pictures from the week.

Today we took a little ride (as we hummed "Teddy Bear Picnic") and discovered this little creek in the woods alongside the road.  This is known as "Gum Creek", and it runs through the woods in one of the areas where we are looking for a new house whenever we ever sell our present home.

 You will notice that the water seems to look rusty red. This is caused by "tannins" in the water, which are caused by the breaking down of organic material like bark, leaves, and roots, and are a part of the natural process.  The water in the soil becomes rich with tannins and seeps into the ground water. It is a natural phenomenon that is found in many parts of the world.

 Here is another interesting phenomenon...this vine, (which is a weed vine), is growing on our fence.  The vine is sending out shoots of roots, looking for something to grasp onto.  I think these scroll-looking curl-e-ques are kind of pretty...
 I don't really want this vine on my fence, because it will tangle and choke out the vines I do want, like my wisteria and confederate jasmine vines, but right now it is interesting and pretty, so I will leave it for a little while...

Speaking of interesting and pretty, this beautiful red amaryllis flower just opened right up, without even sending up a tall stem like it normally does. I received this plant/bulb for Christmas from my son and his wife, and planted it right away.  I was surprised to see it blooming before it really got very tall. But I love it!

It looks right at home among my African Violet plants on the window sill in the sun porch.  So wonderful to see such lovely color in the drabness of winter.

Well, friends, I hope you have enjoyed this little picnic/tea party/ride through the woods and back home again.  As many of you are aware, we are trying to sell our home and move to a community about 30 miles away, near our son and daughter in law and the church that we attend. We've had some disappointing prospective buyers who didn't show up or others that came and went and never came back. We've seen a few houses we'd like to buy, but can't do anything without selling our house first. And so we wait, and we pray, and we take rides and dream and sing little songs and visit with friends and stay busy while we wait.  We know that when God is ready to move us, it will all fall into place.  We are trying to be patient...

Reading in the book "The Way of Abundance" by Ann Voskamp, here's a few thoughts about "Abundance", (my One Word for 2019)

"Sure, life and people will try to tell you loudly that you need to be like a rock, that you'll need to harden up to live in a harsh world, be impenetrable, unmoved.  But no one can really live the abundant life that way.  Rocks don't breathe. Because they're dead."  (Ann Voskamp, pg. 33)

"Questions for Reflection" (page 34)
  • "Where might God be working to soften your heart today in the midst of your work?
  • Where might there be hardness in your heart that is hindering your growth into the abundant life?"
Hmm, I stop and think about this.  This week had some "hard places", and I had a difficult time staying pleasant in the face of frustration and downright rudeness.  I had to stop and check myself for wrong attitudes.  Instead of getting angry and frustrated, I had to realize that God was working on my behalf...He has this situation all timed out perfectly, and when the time is right, everything will fall into place. I need to be thankful even when there are bumps in the road and disappointments along the way because it is all apart of His protection and provision for me. There is a bigger picture here that I can't see right now, and I need to trust God enough that even this is a part of His plan for my "growth into the abundant life."  

Okay, friends...let's go enjoy this Friday with friends. God bless you all abundantly above all you could ask or think!

Hold the presses! Just as I was about to hit "publish" for this post, I looked outside and saw this beautiful sunrise, so I grabbed my camera and ran down the road to the neighborhood pond to capture some pictures before it became covered with the clouds:

I knew you wouldn't want to miss it!  Praise God in the mornings...Praise Him in the evenings! Praise Him ALL day long!!!  Okay...go have a marvelous day my friends! Yes, Fridays are better with friends!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Sermon Notes: Cancelling January

Post Christmas/New Year's Blues...anyone experiencing that?  Sometimes we get a little down when we look at the scales, or the bills, or just feeling like either we didn't do enough or we did too much...failure to live up to expectations of my own, or from others...outside struggles with work, the world issues..Sometimes we feel like we are living in exile...aliens...burdened with a load of cares...Perhaps we'd just like to cancel January and get past it as quickly as we can.

The Israelites felt that way too.  Look at Isaiah 42...The Israelites are the chosen  people, and yet they continued to sin and turn away from the Lord their God.  In verses 23-25, in particular verse 24
"Who gave Jacob for plunder, and Israel to the robbers?  Was it not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned?  For they would not walk in His ways, nor were they obedient to His law...."

But then we turn over to chapter 43, and God offers them redemption and restoration:

1. "But now, thus says the Lord, Who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel:
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 
2.  When you pass through the waters, 

I will be with you; 
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, 

you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.

3.  For I AM the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;..."
4.  Since you were precious in My sight, 
you have been honored, 
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
and people for your life.

God comes to remind Israel who they are and Whose they are...
  • they belong to God...
  • He created them, 
  • He formed them..
  • He gave them their true identity...
  • They are loved by God
  • He has delivered and redeemed them

But guess what?  God also created us...and as our Creator, He knows us best because He made us, and He's the only One Who can fix us.

When we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He gives us our true identity.
God has called us by name...and He has also called us to be ministers to His people. Not just the preachers, missionaries, teachers...but everyone who is called by His name is called to minister to others.  Pastors are only here to help each of us "ministers" do our own ministry, not to do our ministry for us.  

Your ministry may be totally different from mine...some are gifted in teaching, others are gifted in helping the needy, or the sick, or the lonely, imprisoned...still others may have a gift in hospitality. Whatever your gift or "ministry" is, take hold of it, claim it, and do it.  And remember what God told the Israelites:

"Fear not, for I Am with you..."
Isaiah 43:5

So, the best way to get over the post-Christmas/New Years/January blues is to remember Whose you are... You belong to God. He formed you, He created you, and He has called you by your name. You are His......and you are precious in His sight...and He loves you...He will give men for you...Yes, He actually gave His Son for you, Jesus Christ...to redeem you and give you hope and eternal life!
Now that is something worth getting up and shouting about!!! No need to cancel January!!

Sermon Notes from FUMC Interlachen, FL., Pastor A.C. Myers, 1/13/2019

Please Note : I want to repeat this disclaimer here...the notes, outline, and content included here are based upon my own personal understanding of the message that was being given. I am not attempting to completely quote or reproduce this message or any other message I've shared previously. Just as each person reading these notes may glean insights and thoughts that seem to directly apply to one's own situation and interpretation, my own delivery of these messages is skewed by my hearing and translation of what is being said. Some may read my notes here and wonder if they were hearing the same message as I...and I say, God speaks to each of us as He wills...there are things He is trying to get across to each individual that may be entirely different than what the person sitting next to you in the pew is needing to hear... That is how the Holy Spirit works! He knows what we need to hear and how to apply it to our hearts. So it is with that understanding that I present these sermon notes to you.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday Foto Friends-Preserving Family Heirlooms

 Hello Friday Foto Friends!  I hope you are enjoying this beautiful new year! It's hard to believe we are almost into the middle of January already! They say that time really flies the older we get, and I guess that must be so, because this "old gal" can't keep up with it.

I thought I'd share a few more special "Christmas gifts" with you. You may have already seen this picture on my Facebook page.  These are our kids (aka "The Newlyweds") along with my hubby, and he is showing a special gift that our son made for him.

Here's the story.  When my father in law died in 1995 my mother in law was given this beautiful big American flag because he was a veteran and was given a veteran's burial.
When my mother in law passed away this past year, she had specified that my hubby, her oldest son, should receive the flag. Therefore, we have had it for a while, but we had no way to display it or keep it covered to keep the dust off of it.

And so our son the carpenter created this beautiful case for it as a Christmas gift, however what we all didn't realize was that this flag was a bit too large for the standard size case.  

Oops! Back to the drawing board, and he was able to create a larger case. This was a close call, because this wood is actually very special, and there wasn't much left.  

My Mother in law had written this note to keep with the flag.

You see, there is a history to the wood that was used to build this wonderful gift, along with some other special Christmas gifts ...

This is my hubby's maternal grandfather, Granddaddy Martin:
And yes, those are his glasses in that case...

He also was a carpenter, and in addition to building houses he also built some special pieces of furniture.

This is Granddaddy Martin's old tool caddy, that has been passed down to his great-grandson.

Sad to say, I don't have any pictures of the piece that I want to tell you about.   Granddaddy Martin had built a tall chest of drawers out of red cedar many years ago.  It was given to us after my husband's grandmother passed away.  Unfortunately, due to its age and years of being in and out of different temperatures the wood had developed some cracks and the drawers were stuck and extremely difficult to open.  We tried to repair the dresser, but it became apparent that it really wasn't going to be repairable. It was decided that that old chest of drawers might serve a better purpose if the wood could be repurposed into some special items for family members.

And so, this past Christmas, since it was the first Christmas since "Nanny" (my mother in law) had passed away, we thought this would be a good time to make some special family gifts from Granddaddy Martin's cedar chest of drawers.  Hence, our son made the flag case for my hubby.

Not wanting to leave out my husband's brother, our son also created something special for him from the cedar wood:  I'm sorry this picture isn't real clear, and actually I turned it around upside down

because the shelf is still sitting on the floor, waiting to be hung on the wall.
But hopefully you get the picture.  It is a wonderful shelf to set a few things on and to hang a jacket or robe or towels, or belts, whatever... and it is a keepsake made from Granddaddy Martin's cedar chest of drawers!

Not to be left out, my son also made something special for me:

Yes, this beautiful new cedar bird feeder!  It is so pretty that I hate to let it get messed up with bird seed. I am thinking I will save it for when we move to our new house (sometime in the future...who knows when? God knows!!)...

and even then I may just have to decorate it and keep it inside...not sure that I want birds pooping on this...

But, then again, maybe the birdies do need a new place to dine...this old bird feeder is getting worn out...

All I can say to close this out is that I feel abundantly blessed to have a part in preserving some of our family history...we have such a rich heritage of love and family.  These are a just a very few things I am thankful for as we begin a new year.

What about you?  I hope you are also feeling "abundantly blessed". God has been so good to us.

I am looking forward to seeing what you've been doing this past week. Let us hop on over to Deb's place at Breathing in Grace and check up on the rest of our Friday Foto Friends.

Until next time...here's some verses about "Abundance" (my One Word for 2019)

Isaiah 55:1-3
1.  "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, 
Come to the waters;

And you who have no money,
come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

2.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
and let your soul delight itself 

3.  Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an
everlasting covenant with you...
The sure mercies of David."

Oh my! We need to keep reading...skip on down to verses 6-7:

"6.  Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
7.  Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will ABUNDANTLY pardon."

Some wonderful thoughts for the New Year.  Praise God!!!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Paths that Drip with Abundance

Thinking about my One Word for 2019: Abundance.  Already God is showing me so many beautiful ways that He is filling my life with His abundance.  Again, we are not speaking of material wealth or abundance...no, it is much deeper, much better, much more substantial than that. Why? Because material abundance is short-lived.  It is temporary...like everything else on the earth, it will eventually decay, turn to dust, and disintegrate.  I don't need material abundance. I need the depth of God's overflowing abundance of life, love, and everlasting joy.

Last night God blessed us with His abundant majesty in the heavens.  Here are a few pictures to show you what I mean:

I captured these glorious photos of the sunset just as we were leaving our kids' house after supper to head for choir practice at the church. I know many of you were also viewing this magnificent sunset from your homes as it seemed as though everyone was posting pictures last night on Facebook of this sunset.  No matter where you were standing, it was amazing and marvelous.  

And this is what I sang along with all of creation:

"You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp you infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you"

To further reflect on the ways God is showering His "abundance" on my heart, this morning we read the following scripture in our time of devotions:

Psalm 65:11-13
"You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with ABUNDANCE.
They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing."

Today I also started reading a new book, (thanks to one of our friends Cindy Conner of Creations By Cindy, for mentioning that she is beginning a Bible Study based on this book) Wonderstruck, by Margaret Feinberg.  I had some credit coming to me from Amazon.com, and was able to purchase this book for free.  I must say that I am already "Wonderstruck" by the preface and purpose of this book..."Awaken to the nearness of God"...  

Let me quote something from Margaret's introduction that caught my attention...as this is so much in keeping with what I have felt and believed and just didn't know quite how to put it in words:

"God delights for us to cup our hands in prayer and scrunch our faces against the vault of heaven in holy expectation that He will meet us in beautiful, mysterious ways.  The Creator desires to captivate us not just with his handiwork but with himself--displaying facets of his character, igniting us with his fiery love, awakening us to the intensity of his holiness." (Chapter 000. Captured by the Night Sky,  Wonderstruck, Margaret Feinberg, pg. 4)

So today I am even more committed to exploring where God is going to take me this year in His plan for giving me more "abundant living".  We have high expectations for the new year...and so far our plans seem to be dragging along and not getting any real traction.  I'm beginning to think that God wants to show me a more excellent way as we journey along to the way of abundance.  It's not so much about a place as it is about Him.  Perhaps you'd like to come along with me on this journey? I know you each have your own paths to explore and hills to climb.  But just maybe we can all travel together and encourage each other along the way. I think that is a big part of why we are here in "blogland" together.  What do you think?

Blessings to all of you, wherever you are, whatever your goals and passions and dreams...keep your eyes on God and He will lead you into paths that "drip with abundance".