What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Tuesday 4: December Arrives

 December Arrives...

Hello and welcome back to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4 kept in her memory . We give you 4 things to think about each week and hope it spurs you to blog, connect with fellow bloggers and just stop and reflect!

December is a month filled with religious significance for so many. Christmas(Dec 24-25) and Chanukah(Nov 28-Dec 6). Christians speak of the light coming into the world at Christmas and

Chanukah is the festival of lights when the light was returned to the newly cleansed temple in Jerusalem. So they have a common connection: the light of God in the world.

Let's talk about December and what it has in store for you....

1. How much importance do you place on December holidays? Do you plan and prepare? Is that part of  "Twas the night before Christmas..."the fun for you or would you rather dispense with it?

Christmas is the highlight of the year in so many ways. Although for Christians, Easter is actually the more important Holy day, but without Christmas there would be no Easter.  Jesus, "Emmanuel",  God in the flesh, The Light of the World, came to earth as a baby to live and love and show us the way to heaven...through His perfect sacrifice of Himself on the cross to save us from our sins.

This beautiful "Cradle to the Cross" is in the narthex of our church. The white space at the bottom is actually a cradle, where the "baby Jesus" will be placed on Christmas eve.  I love this beautiful arrangement, and am very pleased to say that my son Benton built the cross that is being used in this display.  

So to answer more of the above question, yes, Christmas is a very special time for our family. Do I plan and prepare? Well...I've been busy the past few days decorating our home. We haven't put up the tree yet, but I am trying to get everything else done first and then we will bring in the tree and decorate it. Here are a few pictures of what I've been doing so far.  This is still a work in progress. 

I think what I love most about the Christmas season are all the lights. Yes, Jesus IS the Light of the World, and that is why we use so many lights to light up our homes and celebrate His birth.  Here's a few examples:
We start with this little grapevine tree on the front porch that I made a few years ago from our own wild grapevines we cut in the woods near our house. That was quite a job, but I sure love this little tree!
We don't do a big outdoor lights display...just enough to let people know we do celebrate Christmas here!

Also, the first thing we did was put out in the front yard this nativity scene and this little Christmas tree that my son built a few years ago. 

Next comes the indoor nativity

 and the Christmas dolls on the buffet...

Then in the kitchen there is the little grapevine Tea Cup Tree:

And then there's the little cabin:

And the other little cabin with the skating pond:

Oh, and let's not forget all our little friends over at Pamela's Victorian Cottage!  (you can click the link for last year's story from here)

They are busily getting everything ready for Christmas too!

There's a lot of other activity going on around the house, but we'll save something for later. Besides, I know "Lily Grace" is going to have some stories to tell soon too, as this is her first Christmas and she is really getting more and more excited every day as she sees all this activity. But we'll save her story for later.
So, I think you can tell by all of this that we do have a lot of fun with Christmas...

2. Food is a big part of the holiday season. Which foods and treats do you most look forward to having?  
One usual tradition is the baking of cookies, primarily my Grandma Mursch's Sand Tarts. Here is a link to tell you more about that.  Of course we enjoy all kinds of cookies, nut breads, pies, candy, you name it, we'll enjoy it if it's there to eat!  

3. It is a season for family, friends, guests and giving. Would you write a bit about how it all comes together for you in December?
Yes, we love to get together with our family and close friends at Christmas. Usually we just have our immediate family together on Christmas day, but then we try to get together with our extended "Florida family" at some time during the holidays for dinner and to exchange gifts, etc.  Although in recent years we have started doing a "white elephant gift exchange" with our extended family, where everyone brings a wrapped gift and then we draw numbers and pick a gift, etc., It is a lot of fun, and no one has to actually buy a gift, which is a gift in itself for those of us who are on fixed incomes and tight budgets.

We also have our traditional special church activities...our ladies' group has a luncheon and gift exchange, and also our choir puts on a Christmas Cantata (musical). I sing in the choir, so that is always a big event that we spend a lot of extra time practicing for.

4. Life changes and traditions alter due to those changes. Has anything changed for you and if so how? If not, would you mind sharing your traditions with us?
Primarily things changed a lot for us as our own parents passed on and we no longer had their homes to gather in for our family holidays.  That was a huge difference for us, and it has taken some time for each of us to adjust to the fact that now we are the older members of the family, and if we want to get together with our siblings and their families, we need to make the extra effort to make it happen.  "Mom and Dad" are no longer here to bring us all together.  And then also for our immediate family,  when our middle son Matthew passed away in 2014, holidays became even more significant to us because we realized just how quickly things can change...and we should not take anything or anyone for granted.  Celebrate with your loved ones as often as you possibly can...make the extra effort, go the extra mile...because once a significant member of your family passes on, there will always be that empty place at your table and in your heart.  

I hope this answers all the questions above!  Here's wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season!   From our house to yours:

Thank you to Annie of Cottage by the Sea for organizing this Tuesday 4 meme each week. You are all welcome to join in over at Tuesday 4 and add you name to the list of participants. It's a great way to make some new friends too!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

On the First Sunday of Advent...(Updated)

Good Morning everyone...and welcome to Advent!  Today is the first Sunday in Advent.  Some of this is a repeat of previous years, with maybe a few edits here and there to bring it up to date.

So, without further ado, let the 2021 Advent Adventure begin:

(Our home Advent Wreath, 2018)
Note: This post was originally written several years ago from our home in Salt Springs. At that time we were having a small group meet in our home for Sunday morning worship services, and the majority of this post is from that season of time in our lives. We have since moved from that location to a new community and wonderful little church that we dearly love. Below are a few pictures from our worship service this morning in our church:

Today, 11/28/2021:  Here is the lighting of the first Advent Candle this morning in our church service 

On this first Sunday of Advent we begin with the lighting of the first candle on the 
Advent Wreath:

As we light the first candle we read:

"This candle reminds us of the promise of the prophets that a Messiah would come.  The prophecy candle is symbolic of long years of waiting during which the prophets, inspired by God, kept alive the hope that the Son of God was coming to redeem us."

Then we read the following scriptures:

Isaiah 7:14

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall
call His name Immanuel."

Isaiah 9:2-7

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, 
Upon them a light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation
and increased its joy;
They rejoice before You 
according to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For YOU have broken the yoke of his burden
and the staff of his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
as in the day of Midian.
For every warrior's sandal from the noisy battle,
and garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
there will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to order it and establish it with judgment and justice
from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

The scene in our front yard as of last night

And then we sing together  "O Come, O Come, Immanuel"

I will continue the Advent Candle series each week when we light the second candle.  If you have never experienced the lighting of an Advent Wreath before, here is a little bit of the history:

"The word "Advent" comes from the Latin, "Adventus", meaning "coming" or "coming in", and the "coming in" of Christ has been celebrated by man on many different levels, both spiritual and social since the first years of Christianity.  The traditional Advent Wreath, like most Christmas and Advent customs, has been passed on from generation to generation.  In the Advent Wreath's evergreen boughs we are reminded of the eternalness of God.  In it's perfect circle, His all-encompassing love is symbolized.  Each week, as we add the glow of one more candle, we meditate upon another facet of the life and role of our Lord.  Candles, which are living flames, are symbolic of Christ, the Light of the World, Whose coming is nearer as the light of the candles is increased.  The purple candles represent the royalty of Christ.  The pink candle is the purple fading into the white candle, which represents Christ's birth and His purity.
Jesus said, "I Am the Light of the World...Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness."  (John 8:12)"


(Back to the original post:) Our special antique table that we have been using for our home Communion Service (click HERE for more about that story) is also a perfect place to hold the Advent Wreath.  Little did my husband's grandfather know when he built this little table so many years ago how it would continue to honor the Lord in the homes of his future generations.
If there are times in your life that you are unable to attend worship services at a local church, there is no reason why you cannot have a home worship service.  Although for me it is unique because my husband is an ordained minister, but one does not have to have a seminary degree to lead your family in a time of worship.  You primarily need your Bible, and ask the Lord to guide you and give you insight into His Word.  The Bible tells us that "where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."  I am not suggesting that this should be the norm, but there are times and seasons in life when it may be necessary for reasons beyond your control.  And, even if you DO attend church regularly, there is still no reason why you cannot have times of home worship and prayer as a family or with your neighbors and friends. As a matter of fact, it could be a true blessing for your family as well as those around you. 

In many nations of the world, this is the only form of church worship available, and that is often in what is considered "underground"...hidden and in secret, due to government restrictions and anti-christian leadership.  I pray that America never has to find out what that is...Pray for our nation. I look forward to the day when the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy will be complete:

"Of the increase of HIS government and peace 
there will be no end..."
Isaiah 9:7

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel..."

Stay tuned for more ADVENT Adventures in the next few weeks as we prepare our hearts for the Advent of our Lord...The first advent was when Jesus came to earth as a baby in the manger in Bethlehem to offer Himself on a cross for our salvation.  His second advent will be when He returns to earth:

"Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads,
because your redemption draws near."
Luke 21:27-28

"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that DAY come on your unexpectedly.
For it will come as a snare on those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape 
all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Luke 21:34-36

Are YOU Ready?

If you would like to hear our Pastor's message from this morning's worship service, here it is for you:

Have a blessed and wonderful Advent Season!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday Foto Friends: Thanksgiving...The Morning After

 Before I put away all of the Thanksgiving decor and begin our Christmas decorations, I wanted to share one more post about our Thanksgiving day...

I posted most of these pictures on Facebook last night, so if you've already seen them just bear with me...or you can move on if you wish...
But I had a few comments about the unusual "Turkey Cranberry Dish" shown above and below:

A few years ago, when we still lived in Salt Springs and had LOTS of room to host many guests for Thanksgiving and the holidays in general, one of our frequent guests was our neighbor John T., who lived alone behind our house.  I've told this story before HERE, and also mentioned this kind neighbor and his little "gifts" HERE.  But in case you missed the story before, let me share it once again.  Our neighbor and friend John loved to give little gifts. His mother at that time was in a nursing home and he was in the process of cleaning out her home to sell it. He often would leave me little "presents" on the fence post between our houses, but other times he would just bring things over that he wanted me to have...little knicknacks and figurines. But this lovely glass Turkey Dish he especially wanted me to have and use for cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, because that was his mother's tradition. He always remembered it being on their Thanksgiving table that way.  And so we did do that then, and John was a guest at our table.  He was very pleased and so was I to have it.  Well, since we've moved about 30 miles away from there, and because our house is not quite as conducive to having larger groups for special holiday dinners, we've kind of had to limit our guest list to family.  

I was feeling bad about not inviting John yesterday, so I called him to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving and to let him know that we would be using his mother's turkey cranberry dish again in memory of her, as she had passed away this past year. He was very pleased to know that. He is not in good health now himself, and I don't think he could have come up here by himself even if we had invited him, but I still felt sad that I hadn't thought about inviting him sooner.  But, again, my family had kind of laid down the law to me about doing too much and as it turned out, it was for the best for me to just have our smaller family gathering. 
So now you know the story of the Turkey Cranberry Dish.  I will continue to cherish it and honor our neighbor John T.'s  mother's memory (even though I never knew her) whenever we serve cranberry sauce!

Now on to the rest of our Thanksgiving day memories:

We were watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while cooking and waiting for the kids to arrive.  I just happened to notice this big balloon that said "Believe" on it, so had to capture a picture before it went on by.  "Believe" is my "One Word" for 2021, and so that is why it was so significant. I like that my little plaque on the wall above the TV also happened to be in the picture...

A dear friend made this for me...How appropriate that the "Believe" balloon was captured with this...it shows in Whom I believe...Jesus...

Of course the Believe balloon was part of the Santa and his sleigh display in the parade...which of course was meant to tell us to believe in Santa...and well, of course I believe in Santa too! Doesn't everybody? I mean, if you don't believe, you'll just get underwear and socks for Christmas!

I do believe in the joy and love and blessings of Christmas, because of Jesus...not because of Santa...but I still enjoy Santa too. Just don't let him take the place of the real meaning of Christmas...

More about that later as we begin the season of Advent this Sunday.  But for now, let's finish up Thanksgiving!
I think my plate was full to overflowing...

And my heart was full to overflowing too, with the wonderful blessings of family near by:

Hubby and me

Our sweet daughter in love Rose and our son Benton

Our cute son Scott

And of course we mustn't leave out our sweet grandpuppies Sugar and Spice.

Hubby is smiling because he'd been up to some mischief:

He thinks he's doing something funny when he takes candid pictures of me eating or sleeping or doing other things that should not be published here.  I said I would allow this one, but no more!

The Little Pilgrims came to join us and offer their thanks for so many blessings...

And let us not forget our other little friends, Lily Grace and her friends at the "Kid's Table":

Even they are "thankful"...

And these youngsters below exemplify what this day was really all about...Giving Thanks to the Lord, for He is good...His Love endures forever...
and also counting our blessings and naming them one by one...which we did around the table...there was a lot to say.  God has been very gracious to us this past year, and we are extremely grateful.

And thus ends another wonderful Thanksgiving day. God put the icing on the cake, or should I say the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie...by showing us this wonderful sunset in His skies...

"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord, unto me"

Okay, now it's time to start the big changeover from the Thanksgiving decor of the Pilgrims, Turkeys, and pumpkins, and bring out the Santas, Snowmen and Angels...but I'm taking my time and not rushing it. Just stay tuned for progress as it happens!

God bless you all and thank you for being my friends! You are definitely on my list of blessings!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving Eve and Tuesday 4

Pre-Thanksgiving eve...last night to be exact, we were headed into town to go to the Community Thanksgiving Service at our church.  I told my hubby that the sky had a "pumpkin glow" to it.  I guess I had pumpkins on my mind...or maybe pumpkin pie...

Anyway, we enjoyed the community service very much. Our Pastor gave the sermon, and others from the different community churches shared in the different parts of the service.  It was very nice. We enjoyed singing some of the old familiar Thanksgiving hymns, 
"Come Ye Thankful People, Come", "We Gather Together", and "Count Your Blessings".
It was a wonderful way to prepare our hearts for these days of Thanksgiving.

I thought this flower arrangement was lovely...

This morning hubby and I took our usual walk in the woods, and God's creation displayed its own kind of autumn bouquet:

These leaves are from the common "Turkey Oak" tree, found here in these woods.

It's not a particularly pretty tree, and really the leaves only look this interesting because the early morning sun was shining through them, lighting them up and showing off their autumn colors.

Who says we don't get autumn leaves in Florida?

Here are some other interesting colorful leaves, I think on some immature wild persimmon trees.

I believe I've told you about them before HERE.

Even common ordinary kind of trees can be beautiful when clothed in God's heavenly light.

Yesterday morning I had to go have lab work first thing in the morning, and then we went out to breakfast at one of the local restaurants in Palatka.

Always a blessing to sit across the table from this smiling face.

Maybe he was smiling because he was looking at the bush of hair on top of my head.  I have been without a haircut in a while, and it just seemed to be growing up higher and higher. Thankfully today I was able to get it cut, but no pictures yet. Maybe tomorrow. 

I missed doing the Tuesday 4 Meme yesterday, but I think I will be answering the questions here:

Welcome to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4...

Thanksgiving is the subject.

1. What are you most thankful for this year?   
I have to say my health and my family's health, and all the blessings God has provided for us this past year. Our kids have a wonderful "new" business, (Dixie Cottage), I am healing from my surgery slowly but surely, we have had a very good year in every way and I am so very thankful.

2.Company or just immediate family?  See my answers in the paragraph below...

3 Cooking or catering? Home or eating out?  "  " " "

4. What's for dessert?                                       " " " "

Here's the answers to the questions above:  So today I've been busy getting things ready for tomorrow. Even though we are just having our immediate family of five here at our house for dinner, there must be pumpkin pies. My sweet DIL is bringing an apple  pie too, along with the turkey and green beans. In addition to the pumpkin pies I am making the sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and jello. Oh, and Scott picked up some rolls. We should have more than enough food to fill us up and make us full to the brim with thankfulness.   

What's on the menu at your house?

Oh, BTW, the "Kids Table" is already set and ready for Lily Grace and her friends.

Tonight for our Thanksgiving eve dinner we had beef burritos with black beans. 

Scott was a little late getting home for supper, so he created his own spin on the burrito, using tortilla chips, some fried potato, the beef, cheese and sour cream. I think I like his concoction better, but it was too late. I was already full with my own burrito.  For some reason his food always looks better to me.

To top off this day and end it on an even more beautiful note, this was tonight's sunset:

I love how it keeps changing every few minutes...God's creative masterpieces never run out...

Even when it is practically just in black and white, it is still magnificent!!

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His steadfast love endures forever."
Psalm 107:1

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!