What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All I want for Christmas is .....

"And please, Santa, could you send me my two front teeth this year for Christmas?...and a tiny tears doll that drinks and wets and cries real tears..."
When I was two years old I climbed up on our upright piano and fell back down, hitting my two front teeth on the keyboard cover. They were pushed up into my gums, requiring emergency surgery at the dentist's office to pull them back out.  It is a trauma that I have never forgotten, even though I was only two at the time.  However,  the up side of that is that every year after that until I turned seven years old I would sing "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, yes my two front teeth!"  Everyone just thought I was soooooo cute! (Isn't that right, Doris?)  As you can see above, I was quite the angelic little child...at least in this picture! Ha!

My early Christmas memories are very happy, as my parents always went overboard to make our celebrations special and memorable.  Our family always went to church as far back as I can remember, so of course we learned early on about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of the little Baby Jesus who would grow up to be our Savior.  But we also enjoyed the traditional fun side of Christmas, writing our letters to Santa and listing the things we hoped he would bring us in his big pack of toys when he landed on our rooftop in his sleigh. After we each had hung our stockings on the fireplace mantel, we always left a nice plate full of cookies and a glass of milk, along with some carrots for the reindeer.  I love the fact that Santa always wrote a note back, thanking us for the cookies.    As a matter of fact, I happen to still have a copy of the last letter I wrote to Santa while still living at home with my parents. It was written when I was 18 years old and this is what it says,
"Dear Santa Claus,
Merry Christmas again!!! Gee~I don't know how to say this , but, you see, Santa, we have a mouse in the house.  Therefore~ I do not think it would be wise for me to leave some cookies in the usual place, as he would be able to get them. (The usual place was on the hearth of the fireplace, so Santa wouldn't have to go too far to find them when he came down the chimney.)  So, in order to keep the tradition going, you will find some cookies for you on the dining room table, and there is a glass of milk for you in the refrigerator.   Give my love to the reindeer and Mrs. Santa Claus.  I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and the Happiest of all New Years!!  See ya next Christmas!!  Love Always, Pam"
At the bottom of the page was written in Santa's familiar handwriting, "Over..."  So I turned the page over, and what do I see?  A letter written right back to me from Santa! This is what he said:
"Hi Pam - and all you believers!"  By the looks of the "clean" cookie plate I think the "mouse in the house" managed to get up on the table via the table cloth.  Well, on this great day we wouldn't begrudge one of God's little creatures a crumb from our table, would we?  We can kill him later! (I think I heard him say, Ho! Ho! Ho! when he wrote that last phrase!)   I'll nose around in refrigerator and maybe I can find something else.  I'm glad you, Pam, are still interested in traditions.  So many young people want to do away with old foolish ideas these days and live in a "Mod, Mod World" (which was a common slang back then in the late 60's), but you have to have faith in something, and after all, Santa Claus has been around here a good many years and hasn't let you down yet.  He even wears a "beard". (Again, a reference to "style" of the late 60's...Santa was very hip with the times). 
Well until another year, May you enjoy this one coming up and to all your Great Family, Especially your DAD, (he's the greatest!)....Cheerio, PipPip and AWAY!"     Santa...

Hooray for Santa!  I got the Doctor kit I wanted!!! This was our first
Christmas in our "new house" in Tavares in 1957.  Daddy built this house,
and we moved in while the floors were still bare concrete (cold) and the only
heat we had was the fireplace...but we were sure happy! Can you tell?

(don't forget, you can click on the pictures to enlarge)

Yes, Our family had a lot of fun with Christmas...one of the other memories is how we had to wait before we could go out into the living room on Christmas morning to open our gifts....that was almost like torture to us kids.  My mother would make us be sure to make our beds, wash our faces and brush our teeth, and then we had to wait for Mom and Dad to get up and ready before we could go out.  Then we would all line up in the hallway, from the youngest (me!) to the oldest, and we would sing Jingle Bells as the curtain was pulled away from the door and we would scramble under the tree to find our little stack of presents. 

Although our family did not go overboard on the presents, everyone was always very pleased and excited with the surprises that were left for us under the tree.  It was indeed a magical time for us.

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that
St. Nicholaus soon would be there..."

Although I am not crazy about the materialistic way that people celebrate Christmas today, the important thing is that we do celebrate Christmas!  If I could make a Christmas wish, it would be that people everywhere will stop and take the time sometime during this frantic season of shopping, partying, traveling, spending and overspending to sit down and focus on the whole purpose of this celebration...Celebrate the joy of this Good News..."Jesus Christ is born!" 

Read Luke 2:8-14......verse 10-14 says, "Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Hallelujah!  Our Messiah has come! Spread the Good News to everyone!!! And have a Merry merry Christmas...and the happiest of New Years!  And yes, let there be peace on earth...

So, what do YOU want for Christmas this year?


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Emmanuel...God with us...

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:23

I can't believe how much time has gone by since I last sat down to write this blog...Oh wow...where DOES the time fly?  It's Christmas time, and we all have a multitude of things to do... I think I wrote about that the last time...the Christmas lists...somehow I can't seem to get many things crossed off of my list.  It just keeps changing and growing.

This past week we stepped into a new era in our lives...my mother in law came to live with us.  Whether it is permanent or temporary is yet to be determined.  But either way, we are first of all, blessed to still have her with us.  She is 87 years old and full of life.  However, the time has come for her to not be spending so much time alone in her own home as she has been doing for these past fifteen years since my father-in-law passed away. 

Along with this new passage comes the obvious adjustments...space...privacy...time...but one of my facebook friends told me today that her dear mother in law just passed away this week, at the same age.  So we count our blessings. 

As I sit here writing I have been listening to her chatting with her other daughter in law and her youngest grandchildren on the phone.  She sounds so happy about being here...she justs brags and brags on us.  That makes it worth it all...knowing that she is happy and safe and content. 

Whatever adjustments we have to make in this life, when it is for the betterment, protection, and care of another loved one or friend, it is worth whatever sacrifices we have to make.  Life is very short...we must savor every moment as if it could be our last....after all, it could be.

Yes, Christmas is a time for sharing, giving, laughing, and loving.  Our Christmas will indeed be all of that and more.  I am counting my blessings tonight.  This is just one portion of the full list. 

Thank you, Lord, for Your watchcare and protection over our family...and for being here with us...
Emmanuel, God with us! 

The Steiner Clan
L to R first row:  Pam and John Steiner
Back Row: Benton, Peggy, Nicholaus, Bill, Vivian (Nanny) and Shannon Steiner

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Who Can Find a Virtuous Wife?

"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."  Proverbs 31:10-12

Elizabeth Edwards, 1949-2010
Today Elizabeth Edwards passed from this life into eternity.  Although I did not know Elizabeth Edwards personally, how could I not know about her as her most private, personal life struggles were very much before the public eyes for almost the past decade?  I have not read either of her books, nor have I followed all of her story very closely.  But I admired her courage, her wisdom, and her strength of character in the midst of a very challenging, painful passage in her life.

I did not realize until tonight's newscast that the Edwards' had lost a precious son to a car accident back in 1996, when the boy was just sixteen years old.  Then, Elizabeth's continual battle with breast cancer, followed by the horrendous news that her Presidential-candidate husband had been having an extra-marital affair that actually went beyond just an "affair", but led to him fathering a  child with this "other woman"....all while he was still married to his wife of thirty-something years and the father of their four wonderful children. All this while Elizabeth was battling for her own life, fighting the ravages of breast cancer that today finally claimed her as another victim.

I do not know anything about Elizabeth's personal relationship with God...was she a believer in Jesus Christ as her personal Savior?  Even though she and her husband stood on the more liberal side of the political fence, I can't help but think that she had some very strong beliefs undergirding her throughout her ordeal.  It would be extremely difficult indeed to go through such tragedies without the comfort of a loving, compassionate Savior to carry her through.  But, as I said, I don't know where she stood in relation to Christ...maybe some of you may know.  I truly hope that she had made peace with God in her heart and soul, and that she is enjoying the welcoming embrace of her heavenly Father right now as we think of her...and that she is also hugging and holding onto her long-missed son, savoring the sweet fragrance of his spirit with her once again.

Again, I don't know where Elizabeth stood with God, but somehow I see her in the Proverb quoted above...
Proverbs 31:10 ~ "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies."  
Yes, I can see that.
"The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So HE will have no lack of gain..." (verse 11)...
Yes, I can see that, too.  Her husband trusted her, but unfortunately he himself did not prove trustworthy.
"She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." (verse 12)...
Yes, I see that as well.  Even when he was selfishly pursuing his own foolish desires and dreams, she continued to stand by him and did not speak evil of him.  For the sake of their children, perhaps...or maybe because that's just the kind of woman Elizabeth Edwards was...a true classy lady...one who would not stoop to injure another just because he had injured her first.  She continued to do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Did her husband deserve such a wife as Elizabeth Edwards proved to be? No, decidedly not.  But I pray that her strength of character and demonstration of true love will long be remembered...by her children, her friends, and yes, even her husband.  I hope that in her death he will finally come to realize what a fool he has been, and that perhaps he will find redemption for his own soul.  For the sake of their children...and even the little "love-child" he had brought into this world...I pray he will become the kind of man God wants him to be. 

I pray that Elizabeth Edwards will truly rest in peace.  And may God be with her family who have been left behind, both now and for eternity.   Amen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas: The Season for Children of ALL Ages

Matthew 19:13-15  "Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.' And He laid His hands on them and departed from there."

When you think about Christmas, what are the first things that come to your mind?  Let's make a list based on what I think I can hear you saying...
  1. Christmas Shopping
  2. Christmas Decorations
  3. Christmas Baking and Preparations for Entertaining
  4. Christmas Cards to be written and mailed
  5. Christmas Music
  6. Christmas Gifts for a very long list
  7. Christmas Present Wrapping
  8. Christmas Giving to others in need
  9. Christmas Programs at Church and School (although the school programs are now "Holiday Programs", not Christmas.
  10. Christmas lists..........
I am sure many of you are nodding your heads at this list and checking them off along with me. Perhaps you have added a few others, and maybe you have scratched a few off.  Some of you are probably already finished with your shopping, wrapping and decorating. Others of us put it off to the very last possible minute and then make a mad dash to get it done in time. Maybe a few are just skipping the whole ordeal this year altogether because it is just too much.

There is ONE huge omission to my list above...The very reason we are celebrating Christmas in the first place...CHRIST HIMSELF!  Well, maybe He hasn't been left off of the list, as His name is the beginning part of each item on the list.  He IS Christmas personified.  Not the materialistic, mad rush of to-do lists part of Christmas...but the precious, priceless, magnificent, amazing, wonderful, majestic, powerful, beautiful, joyous reason for Christmas.  He is Emmanuel, God with us, God in the flesh, in the heartbeat and soul of a tiny, fragile infant, born to very human, trusting, loving, obedient parents in the humblest of circumstances.

And why did He come to us at all?   I can sum up the whole Bible and purpose for Christmas in just two verses:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17

It is as simple as that...God LOVED the world----YOU and ME included, SO MUCH...that He sent Jesus to earth to save us...and to give us everlasting life. What could be simpler than that?  All He asks of us is that we believe in Him.

So, at this Christmas season, my prayer is that we would all come as little children to Jesus, with child-like faith...and embrace the joy of Christmas in our hearts, our minds and our spirits...and share the love of Christ with everyone we meet...and to you and yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!