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, December 30, 2021

Friday Foto Friends and One Word for 2022

 Hello my Friday Foto Friends and everyone in Blogland! This will be the last post for the year 2021! Wow! I thought the end of this year would never get here!  Actually these past two years have been rather "long" and "challenging" for everyone.  I am certain that we are all anticipating much better days ahead in the new year of 2022.  May God hear our prayers and show us the wonderful plans He has for us, one day at a time.  I just want to share some random positive thoughts as we anticipate the New Year...

Jeremiah 29:11 
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

This is a new magnet my sister gave me for my refrigerator:
Remember this chorus to the beloved hymn, "Blessed Assurance"?
"This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, All the day long!
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, All the day long!"

On this last day of 2021, let's sit down and have a cup of tea together...mine is Twining's "Gingerbread Joy", 

It says: "Lift your spirits this season with the ginger and cinnamon flavours of this irresistible black tea".

I love it when even my teabag encourages me to have joy, and to lift my spirits!

I was wearing this particular t-shirt earlier today...it was a Christmas gift from last year, and it just speaks to me...yes, "Life is good"...living peacefully under God's beautiful stars and heavens, enjoying all that He has done for us...

Ha Ha, I took this picture of our shed earlier today, because it reminded me of this little cabin in the woods, and it even looks like it has snow on the roof and on the ground in places...(which is actually our Florida white sand), about as close to a winter scene as you can find here in our neck of the woods.

At least a girl can dream...

So, in preparation for the New Year, I am getting ready to put up the new calendars...this one is an annual traditional gift from my sister:

She knows I love teapots and all things pertaining to tea, and so years ago she started giving me these calendars every year for Christmas. I actually save them from year to year, because the photographs are so beautiful and they often have recipes and stories to go along with the pictures that are very interesting.

Anyway, here is the picture for January...I believe this is an Arabian teapot...very lovely.

I love the quote below by Richard Francis Burton, from "Explorers of the Nile", (A British explorer, not to be confused with the actor Richard Burton).

I think as we begin this New Year we are about to embark on a "departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands." This quote says it is one "of the gladdest moments in human life".  Perhaps so...but sometimes the beginning of a journey into the "unknown lands" of life can be a bit frightening as well. We don't know what lies around each bend in the road.  But I know Who does know...and that is the Lord.  We do not need to fear the future when we put our trust in the Lord. 

And so, in anticipation of selecting my "One Word" for 2022 I began to pray and seek God's direction.  I thought I had decided on a word earlier today, and so tonight when I began to write about it my computer started acting up. No matter what I tried to do it slowed down, pages froze up, I couldn't get things to cooperate. I finally had to walk away from my computer for awhile and go sit down and read.
I picked up this new "Devotions from the Front Porch" book, again another gift from my sister (gee, Doris, you really gave me a LOT of wonderful gifts this year!! I am overwhelmed as I think about it),

but anyway, I began to read a few pages ahead and came to this one:

"Cornbread and Buttermilk" ! ?
I'm thinking, "who eats that?"  My husband does. But again, let's keep moving on here. I read the verse at the top:

"But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night."
Psalm 1:2

and the word "DELIGHT" jumped out from the page. And immediately I thought of another verse that has long meant so much to me:

"Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4
And I suddenly realized that God had directed me to my new "One Word" for 2022.  Delight is the word the Lord chose. The one I thought it was going to be was "Steadfast", which is also a good word, but that's the one that when I tried to write it on this post my computer kept stalling and it wouldn't let me do it...well, maybe that was God not letting me do it, because He had something else in mind for me this year..."Delight"...Delight in God's Word, meditate on it day and night...Delight myself in the Lord...and He will give me the desires of my heart...! Well, that doesn't mean He'll automatically give me everything I'm wishing I had, no, it doesn't mean that at all...but it does mean that when I delight in the Lord, my desires will be for Him...and for His will...and I will be delighted in the ways that He chooses to bless me in this new year.   And just maybe you realized as you were reading this post above that I was delighted in so many wonderful things around me...little blessings that God has already given me...delighting in the ways that He shows His love for me. Delighting in His Word, the Bible, and all that He teaches us through His Word. Oh yes, I believe this is going to be a "delightful year".  I pray that God will open my eyes to all that He wants me to be delighted in and about.  It may not always be perfect things or a perfect outcome...but it's all about the heart...all about trusting God no matter what the circumstances...that's delighting in Him.  So there you have it. My One Word for 2022 is DELIGHT.

If you'd like to look back at the previous years that I've been doing this, you can click on the following links and read about the words for each year, all the way back to 2012, I believe.  (Oh, Believe! That's my word for 2021!)  Do you select a 'One Word' each year? How do you go about it? Is it always what you thought it would be at first?  I'd love to hear about your experiences with this as well.

One Word for 2021 - Believe

One Word for 2020-Joyful

One Word for 2019 Abundance-and all years before

Okay, I need to go for now...This will post tonight, on New Year's Eve EVE.  Most likely I won't be writing again until next year, so see you then!!  

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Processing Christmas-Day Two

 If you read my last POST HERE, you will know that our Christmas celebration came in two parts. I thought I'd take a little break between posts to give you (& me!) a chance to get caught up with everyone else. We are all sharing our Christmas stories and it's so wonderful to see and hear how you all celebrated The Birth of Christ in your homes.  We each have our own special traditions and foods and decorations and things that we like to do at Christmas time...it's fun to hear all about it.  And even for those who don't have a lot of family nearby, it is good to do something to commemorate the day and honor Christ's birthday in whatever way is meaningful to you.  I've really enjoyed reading your posts. We are like one big family here!

So speaking of family...on our "Day Two" of Christmas, my sister and her hubby and daughter and her hubby traveled a couple of hours to spend the afternoon with us. This was the only picture I got of our family together, as the rest of the time we were too busy either eating or opening gifts, or just enjoying visiting and I totally forgot about taking pictures! (Something must be wrong with me! LOL)

I love this picture because our son Scott, who you see at the very top of steps in a teal colored shirt on the left side, actually set up my phone camera with a timer on the bumper of a truck in the driveway, and ran and leaped up to the top of the steps between all of us and managed to pose for the picture before it snapped! Amazing! And it still turned out this good! These young people with such quick minds and agility just blow me away! LOL.

Anyway, our original plan had been to go out to eat for lunch at a local BBQ place since my hubby and I would be going to church (he teaches the Adult Sunday School class and I sing in the choir, so we didn't feel like we could skip it just because company was coming), and I knew I wouldn't have time to prepare any kind of meal for everyone who would be arriving right at noon.  However, the day before, after our own family's Christmas dinner was over we determined that we had a LOT of leftovers, and I called my sister and asked her what they had for leftovers, and we decided we both had enough that we could put them together and have a great pot-luck dinner instead of having to go out to eat!! Great idea! And it worked out perfectly. We still had leftovers! LOL.
One fun thing we did was make a bowl of Christmas punch, with lime sherbet, cranberry juice, ginger ale and orange juice. (or you could use pineapple juice, but I didn't have any). We used this beautiful green punch bowl set that my mother in law gave me years ago. It has been used for many Christmas parties at church and our home over the years.  I put my niece to work making the punch right away and she laughed and said now she felt like "an old church lady" making the "church lady punch".  I guess that's what we'll call it from now on! LOL. (Sorry, forgot to take a picture of the finished product).

Lunch being done, our next event was our annual "White Elephant Gift" exchange...where each person brings a wrapped gift  that is something you'd like to get rid of...or it could be something nice, but the idea is to not have to go out and buy gifts for everyone.  We play this game, which is like what some of you call a "Chinese Auction" or "Dirty Santa", where people can take your gift if they want it and you have to get another one, etc., etc., but everyone still ends up with a gift, whether you like it or not! LOL.
There were some very "interesting" gifts passed around.
Like this "Mark the Moose". LOL

Or this "Ginger and Chili Chutney" and other interesting delicacies...
Which really aren't bad, but their expiration date is next month, so we'd  better eat them up fast! LOL. 
Anybody want some marmalade or chutney or relish? You have to come here and get it!

But we did also exchange some very special gifts between us...
One thing that is a tradition from my family is that my father used to buy each of the ladies one of these Amaryllis plant kits each Christmas, so we could plant it and watch it grow:
So, I have kind of taken over that tradition and make sure to find these every year for each of the women who will be present at our Christmas gatherings.  Sometimes they aren't as easy to find, or they may be already starting to grow in the box, like that one above was doing...I just planted it in the pot yesterday, and look at it already!!  But it will grow and have beautiful flowers, and then in the spring you can plant it outdoors and it might bloom again later. They do come back each year as well. (here in Florida)

I also received some very special and meaningful gifts from my sister and my niece as well. They just really touched my heart.
The "Devotions from the Front Porch" (by Stacy Edwards) book was from my sister, and the "O Holy Night" book was from my niece. Just a couple of examples of what is inside these books will show you how special they are:
"A Rocking Chair" on the front porch invites you to
  "Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

And, can you imagine why I was drawn to read this one?  "The Lily Tree", a special tree planted in loving memory of an infant named Lily who never got to be held in her mother's arms...
"His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

The other book, "O Holy Night",  (illustrated by Sarah Cray) has beautiful water color paintings accompanying the lyrics to several different beloved Christmas carols, including "O Holy Night",

And "Joy to the World"

Amazing to me how my sister and my niece both knew what I would love and enjoy. I was very humbled by these sweet gifts.

But I've been talking too much here and not getting to the very best gift of all, that literally brought me to tears!

Can you read what is engraved on the handle of this little baby spoon?

Yes, it says "Pamela Anne".  My sister gave this to me...and when I saw it I just couldn't believe it. This was my baby spoon!  Somehow she ended up with it among other silverware from our mother's things, and she said it was so tarnished she didn't realize what it was until she polished it. I'm not sure why it affected me so much, but I couldn't help but shed some tears as I held this tiny little silver spoon in my hand and thought about how my mother had actually fed me with this spoon when I was a baby...and the fact that it had my name engraved on it...well, that just blew me away. Then someone broke the spell and said, "Gee Mom, now you can say you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth!" LOL. Yeah, right!  I don't know who gave this spoon to my mother when I was born, maybe my grandparents.  I wish I knew. But no matter who...it just made me think about the baby Jesus, and how there were no silver baby spoons for Him when He was born in a manger, and yet He was the King of kings! He left the Ivory Palaces of Heaven to come to earth, to be born among the cattle and sheep and in a lowly feed trough...the Bread of Heaven, given for all mankind. And He did it for me, and for you! He knows my name!  It is written down in His Lamb's book of life...and He knows your name too...
How special is that???

Well, there were other special gifts in addition to this, but I think I will stop here. Maybe some others will show up in future posts. But I just want us to stop and think here about how much Jesus loves us!
He knows your name. It is written down in His book of those who love Him and those for whom He gave up His life.  

"Greater love has no one than this, 
than to lay down one’s life for his friends."
John 15:13

Now maybe you see why I am still "processing Christmas" in my mind. 
It's been rather "mind-blowing".

It's almost New Year's...and I still haven't come up with my "One Word for 2022".
Have you? I am praying about it. I am sure God will reveal it to me on time.
He always does.

Until next time,
be blessed my friends...Jesus loves you.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Still Processing Christmas...Day One

Technically, Christmas is over...at least the day we celebrate Christmas is over. But Christmas itself is not over!  It's still lingering in our minds and hearts and spirits...and probably still lingering in our homes in the decorations, leftovers in the fridge, gift wrap and packaging in the trash, cookies and pies and candies still lurking around tempting us to keep nibbling away at things we shouldn't...and hopefully in our memories...sweet memories especially...

Welcome to Christmas memories from our house and my heart...

Christmas morning started out with a lovely sunrise...

Which was only preceded by a magnificent sunset on Christmas Eve as we traveled to church for the Christmas Eve service:

And as we lit each of the Advent candles, it was so wonderful to sing the familiar Christmas carols and hear the Christmas story once again as we lit the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, and then we lit the center Christ Candle to remind us that the Light of the world was born this night. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined." Isaiah 9:2 "You, O Lord, have multiplied the nation, You have increased its joy. For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder. His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:3, 6) And we were once again reminded that Jesus is also called Emmanuel, for in Him God is with us.  This is what Christmas is really all about...and I am so thankful that we started out our Christmas Eve and Day with these special reminders of why we are celebrating.

As I sat in the choir loft singing a
(this video was actually from our church last year, but same song)

Celtic Silent night with our choir, the congregation was passing along the "light of Christ" to their neighbors

Such a beautiful and peaceful way to usher in Christmas...
On our way home we drove around our neighborhood to see if there were any Christmas lights shining, and we were surprised to find quite a few. Our neighborhood is a rather modest community of mostly manufactured homes.  There were no elaborate displays like one would expect in larger communities, but this one above touched my heart.  There in the middle of their Christmas candy cane lights and hanging icicle lights, was a beautifully lit cross, reminding us of why Jesus came to earth in the first place...to save us all from our sins. We must never forget the price He paid for our redemption.

And then we went home to prepare for what would come in the morning:
Son Scott, who had gotten home too late from work to go with us to church, was busily preparing one of his Christmas gifts for our family, a batch of my grandmother's Sand Tart cookies! (recipe can be found on that link to a much older post from past.)

I was amazed that he had these all baked and the kitchen cleaned up by the time we got home. What a great guy!!

And next, Santa Claus had to slip in and distribute the gifts for the "kids" who would be arriving in the morning for Christmas day...

Lily Grace and Baby Elva had fun watching Santa at work...

Oh, look who got a stocking hung by the chimney with care:

Next morning, the "kids" and Grandpuppies arrived, ready for fun:

Sugar and Spice saying hello to "Uncle Scott"...

And then discovering that they had a special stocking filled with new toys just for them, which kept them occupied and happy for the rest of the morning:

Sweet Daughter in Love Rose and Son Benton, opening their gifts...

And son Scott and Daddy  sharing a good laugh over a very "interesting" fun gift sent from a relative..."Pooh Ping Pong"...there's always gotta be a silly gift somewhere in the bunch...and this was the silliest ever...

Thankfully Lily Grace's gifts were much better...

She got a couple of new outfits sent from her Auntie Peggy and Uncle Billy, among other things...

Yes, I know, our family is a bit "touched in the head" sometimes, but we do have fun...

And we do love to eat.  While opening our gifts, the hamloaf was baking in the oven with the scalloped potatoes, and butternut squash, green beans, rolls...

And oh, I almost forgot, Rose also made some deviled eggs! It was a delicious and simple dinner, and I "believe" everyone was happy and quite satisfied!

We ate off of my "good Wedding China", on a plastic Christmas tablecloth, but I did use red cloth napkins...LOL.  Tried to keep things simple but still special.

Speaking of special, our sweet daughter in law, (with a little help from her hubby the carpenter) created some wonderful signs for us.  She asked us for a special verse or saying that was meaningful...and the above picture is exactly what my hubby said.

And then she looked on my blog somewhere and found this verse below and created this sign for me:

And also this one I mentioned particularly, because of course, we live "beside the still waters" (pond).

Another sweet gift was this set of jigsaw puzzles:

I said this is where I want to live someday:

Well, maybe not with the snow. LOL. Actually, I feel like we are pretty close to living there already.

Oh, one more very special thing that happened on Christmas day. For some time we have not had much communication with our grandson Noah, who is our only grandchild, and also the son of our son Matthew who passed away from cancer in 2014.  So staying in touch with him is especially meaningful to us. But he is 22 years old and a typical young man living his life and not really realizing just how much it means to us to hear from him.  And the fact that he lives in Maine makes it a bit more difficult to just run up and visit anytime.  So anyway, long story short...recently Noah and some friends have embarked on an adventure of a lifetime.  I told my hubby they are like the pioneers of old, searching for new lands to "conquer" and begin a new life.  Two couples have set out across the country in campers, working their way along as they head south to warmer and hopefully more economically productive locations. And recently he decided to start responding to my texts, by sending me a few pictures of the sunsets as he travels:
Ah, he's a young man after my own heart!! He loves the sunsets just like I do!

And better yet, on Christmas day he called us and talked and talked and talked, and excitedly told us all about their journey and their hopes and dreams and plans and schemes...and told us about his girlfriend that we realized we had actually met at his graduation party 3 years ago...and well, even though some things may not be exactly ideal about this trip, it is a new beginning and he is happy and full of the joy of the adventure...and you know what?  I believe God will take care of the rest of the details...I don't need to worry or "preach"...I just need to pray for their safety and that God will guide them and keep them on the right path as they seek their new adventures.  My hubby and I both agree that keeping the communication going with him is the most important thing we can do right now. And I have to tell you, this truly made my Christmas day complete.

After the hubbub died down and the "kids" went back to their house, our son Scott went to work on his next gift for the next Christmas family gathering that was arriving on Sunday afternoon...yes, you heard that right...

These cookies are my mother's famous "orange cookies", (click that link for the rest of that story) and she would bake these anytime the family was coming home.  Now not only Scott, but at least one of my nieces that I know of, carries on this same tradition in memory of my mom. And so he wanted to have them ready for my sister and her hubby and their daughter and her hubby when they arrived Sunday after church.

Oh, these pillows are a gift from our kids too.  And they say what I want to say right now...
"Merry Christmas to all...to all a good night"

Stay tuned for "Still Processing Christmas-Day Two" coming up in a day or two, as I continue to process everything. It's been a very beautiful and meaningful Christmas here.
I hope it has been for you as well. I look forward to hearing your stories.

So, until next time,