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!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Giant Leaps of Faith into The New Year

"The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.  the Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore." Psalm 121:5-8

Have you ever taken "a giant leap of faith" and then second guessed yourself, had doubts and fears, and shaky knees?  I think that all goes along with the "giant leaping of faith" part...the shaky knees, the doubts, and the fears, the wondering whether or not you made the right decision or if you really heard the Lord correctly when you thought you heard Him say,
"This is the way, walk in it,"..."Whenever you turn to the right hand, or whenever you turn to the left."  Isaiah 30:21
Looking back over my life I can honestly say that we took some pretty big leaps of faith, when all the world around us was wondering what on earth had possessed us to make such huge changes and embark on what appeared to them to be a foolish journey into the unknown.  In hindsight, we have sometimes questioned whether or not we had actually made the right decision, or if we perhaps had acted precipitously instead of waiting on the Lord to guide us aright.  We've scratched our heads and retraced our steps to be certain that we had not been mistaken.  And yet, every time we had to come back and say, "yes, we did what we believed was God's will, and we acted in faith upon that inner prompting of our hearts that said, "This is the way..walk in it..."

As we approach another new year we look ahead with some fear and trepidation at what path we are to choose.  We could opt to stay where it is safe and warm and never venture out into the "unknown"...we could say, "I like my safe little cocoon, even when it appears to be shriveling up around me and drying up and dissolving in thin air"... and we could choose to just keep holding on to that fragile little leaf and refuse to let go and open up our wings and fly away like the beautiful butterfly God intended us to be.  But at what cost?  If the butterfly larvae refused to let go of it's cocoon, would it ever be a butterfly?  No, it would die on the vine, and never see the world of beauty in each flower of the field that was meant to provide nourishment for its journey.  It would never feel the joy of freedom of stretching out its wings and flying away into the bright sunny days of summer and reaching its destiny for life.

I don't know about you, but I really want to trust God to take me wherever He deems best...to lead me in the way of His plan for my life.  I want to look back on my life someday and say, "Thank you, Lord,  for leading me in the way everlasting...for allowing me the joy of experiencing all You had planned for me.  Thank you for helping me to take those giant leaps of faith into Your wonderful place of peace."  Amen.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessings from "My Three Sons" and "Santa's Workshop and Bakeshop"

This year Santa's elves have been quite busy here at the Steiner house...while one son was in the kitchen baking Sand Tarts from the old family recipe, another son was in the garage building a special shelf for our living room, to finish off the earlier project of a shelf unit that he built to house the components for the new flat screen TV that was also a Christmas gift to the family. 
My son Benton, in "Ben's Country Woodshop", making a special gift for us this Christmas too!

The antique door knobs came from my Dad's workshop, and
also the bookends with the gun handles were built by my Dad
quite a few years ago as a Christmas gift to my husband, who
was a State Trooper at the time.  The china plate in the
middle is one of our wedding gifts, the owl represents my
"Barred Owls" in our backyard and was a gift from my sister
Doris last year.  The ducks were gifts from a friend, and
I forget where the quail came from, but it finishes out
the collection of birds and special things....

 The thing that makes this shelf so special is not only the fact that our son made it himself, but he used special tools that he got from my Dad (his Grandpa's) workshop after Grandpa passed on to be with the Lord earlier this year. To finish off the shelf he attached three antique china doorknobs that also came from Grandpa's workshop.    

Our son Matthew (r) and his wife Nicole and our Grandson, Noah
I am blessed beyond measure...the gift from our other son, who lives in Maine and could not be here for this Christmas with us, is the fact that God has granted him another year of precious life.  He has been battling a rare cancer for the past almost two years, and every day that God gives him is a gift.  He recently had a biopsy of a growth that was giving great cause for concern for fear that the cancer was spreading to other parts of the body...and the wonderful, marvelous news this week was that there was NO sign of cancer in that growth.  Although the cancer is not completely gone from his body, it is not showing any signs of growth, and so we give God praise for this wonderful gift.

Myriads of "Heavenly Hosts" of angels...Praising God and Singing Hallelujah!!!
Grandma Mursch’s Sand Tarts

(Elva Hill Mursch )
(My Paternal Grandmother)
December 27, 1896-December 16, 1984

My Grandma Mursch always made these Sand Tart cookies for Christmas. They are from a wonderful old German recipe. In 1980 Grandma passed this recipe on to me so I could make it for my family. The first Christmas I made them, I wasn’t sure how many the whole recipe would make, and I needed a good cookie for the church cookie swap. My mother-in-law, Vivian Steiner, helped me roll and cut and bake the doubled - whole recipe, and we soon found out that it made about 18 dozen cookies! That was quite a task! I only needed 13 dozen for the cookie swap, and I was chagrined to discover that I was the only one who had gone to the trouble of baking a rolled and cut cookie for this event!

From then on, I usually only baked the Half Recipe, and it made more than enough cookies for our family and to share with others! As the years went on, I eventually taught our son, Scott, how to make these cookies so that he could continue the tradition. For the past few years he has baked these cookies as his Christmas gift to the family!  HERE IS A PICTURE OF SCOTT, WHO CAME BACK HOME THIS YEAR, AND IS BACK TO MAKING THE SAND TARTS FOR THE FAMILY AGAIN FOR CHRISTMAS!  THANK YOU SCOTT!!!!!
The secret to a good Sand Tart is to be sure to roll the dough real thin before cutting the cookies. The thinner cookies are crispier and tastier. Just be sure not to burn them! Also, for the brushed on glaze of egg wash, you need two egg yolks and about a tablespoon of milk mixed together to cover the ½ recipe. I buy the pre-sliced almonds to put on top. Use about two tablespoons of white sugar to one teaspoon of cinnamon mixed together in a shaker (I use a salt shaker) to sprinkle on the tops.

This recipe is a keeper…and should be passed down from generation to generation!

Sand Tarts
(Yield 8-9 dozen) (This is the Half Recipe)

Mix Together:

  • 1 ¼ lb. Butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 lbs. Brown Sugar
Then add 2 lb. Flour

Roll real thin and cut with cookie cutters. Brush tops with yolk of egg beaten with a little milk. Put a sliced almond on top and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.
My Son Scott carrying on the family tradition of making Sand Tarts at Christmas (2011)




Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dim Reflections

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." I Corinthians 13:12

(click on the picture to enlarge)
The other day I was looking toward the mirror hanging on the wall in my bedroom, and I happened to notice that the vision in the mirror was actually a dim reflection of the items on my vanity on the opposite wall, and then if you look into the image of the mirror on the vanity you can see a reflection of the items on the other wall, which are placed on a table directly under the original mirror. It created such an interesting picture that I had to try and capture it on film, the results of which are shown above. 

Confusing? Perhaps a little, but to me it was a picture not just of things that I treasured in my room, but a reminder of how we look at God now from our current vantage point.  Our vision is dim, marred by the clutter of things of this world and viewed with our very one-dimensional vision.  We try to look beyond the things that we can see clearly, and peer longingly into the fuzzy future that we can only begin to imagine with our limited sight, and once in a while we get a glimpse of the true picture, but most of the time it is something that we just have to contemplate and trust that our hopes and ideals will one day become reality.

The scripture from which I quoted above is the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians, also known as "the Love Chapter", one of my favorite passages in the New Testament. It speaks to us about how we as believers need to remember that no matter how knowledgeable we may think we are, how talented and gifted we may be, or how sacrificially charitable we are to the poor and needy, if we don't have love, we are nothing.  It is a reminder to us that all of our great talents, knowledge, gifts and sacrifices will one day cease to exist, but love will never fail.

Verses 8-11 says:
"Love never fails.  But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
Verse 12 tells us that at the present time we are looking at God and our relationship to Him with human eyes that are illuminated only very dimly at best.  One day, when we ultimately reach our heavenly destination, we will see Him face to face.  Right now we only understand a very small part of His vast plan for our lives, both in the present and the future. When we get to heaven we will know Him completely, just as He already knows us now. The veil will finally be stripped away and all things will become clear to us.  All the questions that we said we would ask God as soon as we reached heaven's gate will be understood...there will be no need to even ask. 

The thing that God wants us to understand for now is this: (Verse 13)
"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
Perhaps that is enough for us to know.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Perseverance Anyone? Need Hope? How About Character? (Updated this morning after sleeping on it)

These are some thoughts running through my mind tonight and I wanted to share them with you. Maybe you will see yourself in these verses...

  • "Therefore, having been justfied by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
  • And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
  • And perseverance, character;
  • And character, hope.
  • Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
  • For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
  • For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
  • But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
       Romans 5: 1-8

My Interpretation: 

Anyone here wanting to learn perseverance?  Expect tribulations. - You will run into obstacles in life...stub your toe, see dead-ends and unexpected detours...but God is in the pathway...He's guiding each step and leading you to persevere during the tough times.
    Want character?  Learn perseverance from your tribulations and you will develop character.  "When the going gets tough...the tough get going" (who said that?)  Old houses are said to have character because they have interesting knicks and scrapes...unusual architecture weathered by many storms...bannisters and floors scuffed by many years of hands and feet running to and fro, up and down, perhaps even having had children sliding down the bannisters...revealing a beautiful patina to the wood and smoother surfaces...
         Need hope?  Develop character once you've learned perseverance through the experience of tribulations.  Life's experiences give us hope for the future as we remember how God provided in the past.
            Once you have hope...you will not be disappointed..."because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
                And remember this:  Before you were made strong by your tribulations and perseverance and character development...before the Holy Spirit was given to you...Christ died for you...while you were yet a sinner, without a hope in the world...Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, God in the flesh, showed His magnificent and immense love for us by dying in our place...taking our sin upon His own body...the pure and holy sacrificed for the stained and unholy. 

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"  I John 3:1

"When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God;
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down--
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."

Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
I John 3:1

Jesus Christ, The same, Yesterday, Today and Forever...reaching out in love to you and me each day.
Now that brings great hope!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"And He Healed Them"

"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.  Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them."  Matthew 4:23-24

Last week I had the troubling experience of meeting a woman who openly admitted to being "very mentally ill."  Quite frankly, after just a couple of minutes listening to this poor woman talk and watching her expressions, she did not need to tell me that she was "very mentally ill."  It was obvious.  As I observed her emotions go from one extreme of anger mixed with fear to effusions of joyful hilarity in just a few split seconds, I found myself extremely grateful for the half-wall and glass enclosure that separated our office from the lobby area where she carried out her lengthy and very loud monologue of the story of her life. It was painful for me to listen to her tangled and strange message, but I had to realize that my discomfort could not begin to equal the pain that she had suffered throughout her life.  As much as I hate to admit it, I was extremely relieved when she finally took a breath and allowed me the opportunity to tell her I would be praying for her and made an excuse so that I could get back to my work and she finally went out the door.

This experience left me trembling.  I am not alone in my feelings of inadequacy and concern for this poor woman. Apparently she has been to many churches in town and has met with frequent rejection.  She admitted that she has actually been banned from stepping foot on the property of one church because of her open displays of verbal hostility toward them when they did not meet all of her demands for assistance. She has been persistent in her attempts to get the attention of anyone who will take the time to listen and give her whatever she is asking so that she will go away...  People are definitely taking notice of her, and many are perplexed as to the best course of action to take.

I went home from work that day feeling very burdened, knowing that I was not able to be of much help to her.  I did pray for her, honestly I did.  As I told my husband all about her I said, "I can't help but wonder what would Jesus do for this poor woman?"  My husband did not even have to think about his response.  He said, "He would heal her." 

Wow!  Yes, I am certain he is correct.  Jesus would heal her...no questions asked...no hem-hawing around it.  He would reach out His loving and compassionate hands, touch her, and heal her.  No rejection, no fear, no anger...just pure love and compassion poured out upon her tortured, tangled mind.  That is the only real answer for this woman.  Medication and counseling may help control the outbursts, but only God can do the complete healing of her heart and mind and soul.

I was relieved to discover that the Pastors of the church where I work were already well aware of this woman and have actually been attempting to reach out to her with the love of Christ through counseling and helping her to feel welcome at our services.  Perhaps that is the first step to her complete healing.  Perhaps that IS just what Jesus would do.

Lord, I pray for _______, one of Your precious children who has somehow gotten lost along the way to a life of wholeness and peace.  Please touch her with Your healing hands, and bring The Light back into her darkness, and untangle the intricate web of confusion that envelopes her mind and spirit. In the Name of Jesus, the Great and Gracious Physician I pray, Amen.

And Lord, thank you for bringing _______ across my path and getting my attention. Perhaps there is something that needed to be healed within me as well.  Thank you for your patience with me. Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Defense of the Land of "Make-Believe"

One of my dearest facebook friends made a statement this week that she was going to hand out candy to the neighborhood children on Halloween this year.  She said she had gone back and forth on this issue in her mind for some time and decided that she didn't want the children to grow up thinking that "Christians were a bunch of meanies." 

I understand her feelings on this completely.  Over the years I've wrestled with this issue as well, especially since I was in the position of being a pastor's wife in evangelical churches for quite a few years.  I had to learn to be careful of how I felt about Halloween and other holidays lest I would offend some of my "weaker brothers and sisters" in the faith, or possibly lead some child astray by my freedom in Christ.  And certainly there is merit to those thoughts as they are based on scriptural teachings in God's Word.  (See Romans 14, I Corinthians 9:19-27)  However, there is also much teaching in God's Word on the freedom that we enjoy as believers in Christ (Romans 8, Galatians 5 to name a couple).  But this is not intended to be a theological or doctrinal debate on the issue...just an expression of my opinion and feelings about something I believe is important enough to discuss.

Now before some of you get nervous about what I am going to say, I am not advocating lying to children about things that are make-believe, such as the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy. And I certainly do not promote the dark and evil side of Halloween, which can be linked to the occult and other things into which we do not want to dabble. 

All that being said, what I DO want to say is, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" on this subject!  Teach your own children the truth about Christmas, Easter, and what they mean to us as believers in Christ Jesus. Make sure they understand the difference between good and evil and all things scary and imaginary. And then have fun with your children.  Allow them to experience happy memories and fun traditions within your family circle.
My kids way back then...

My happiest memories growing up were the family traditions we shared in our family.  On Halloween I can remember from my earliest childhood going from house to house with my parents.  My mother and father both dressed up in costumes, and we kids were costumed as well.  My mother's favorite costume was that of a country girl with apple red cheeks, blacked out front teeth and wearing a yellow checked gingham dress, and playing a rather squeeky tune on her violin.  My dad was dressed up as a farmer (which he was) or a hobo, and we carried a bag full of dried corn kernels from our farm, from which we would throw handfulls at the door, yelling "trick or treat" until the inhabitants would come to the door and act so surprised to see us. They would pretend they were scared or they would ooh and ah at our costumes, and then try to guess who we were.  We would hold up our sacks and they would cheerfully fill them with all kinds of candy (and even apples back then), and sometimes even invite us in for hot chocolate or apple cider.  Then we'd be on our way to the next house. 

I cherish those memories to this day, and I could never bring myself to turn away children from the neighborhood on Halloween because I didn't think it was a "christian" holiday.  On the contrary, it may be the ONLY opportunity I have to come into contact with those children and have a chance to be seen as a friendly person who wants to share in their joy and fun.  How can I hope to have any other chance to influence them positively if I can't even welcome them and give them a piece of candy on Halloween?  I have actually used that opportunity in times past to not only give them some candy, but also put a little Bible tract in with the goodies that perhaps they or their parents might read later...but never without the candy included. And oftentimes I was dressed up in some rather crazy costume myself to get into the spirit of things, which always added to the hilarity of the event!
One of our church sponsored "fall festivals" The Pastor's Wife on
the left, and the Pastor on the right!  Fun memories.

Me, ready for a "Hobo" Halloween Party
circa 1978
 Yes, I certainly agree that having a church sponsored "Fall Festival" may be a safer activity for all concerned, but too often that is limited to your own church family and some of their friends.  I also like what some churches do by having a "Trunk or Treat" event where they have open car-trunks full of candy lined up in their church parking lot along with other activities and treats for the night, which is again, a safe alternative for the community.  It is a creative and positive way to reach out to the neighborhood children and let them see that your church (and you) want to be friendly and not judgmental.  Due to safety issues we are seeing more and more communities doing this type of event as opposed to the door-to-door trick or treating.  Whatever your community and/or church does, it should be a fun time, and an event that promotes happy family times.

When it comes to Christmas and Easter traditions, I will discuss those at another time...but let me just say that my family went all out to celebrate both the religious holiday traditions as well as the fun side of these holidays.  We grew up knowing that Christmas was the birthday of our Savior Jesus Christ, but jolly old St. Nicholaus always made a grand entrance into our home and imaginations with lots of toys and goodies for us all.  There was never any doubt that Easter was the commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus from His death on the cross...but we had so much fun hunting for our Easter baskets on Easter morning (that the "Easter Bunny" had so cleverly hidden in new places each year) and having numerous egg hunts all afternoon with our cousins and family.   Did I grow up distrusting my parents and being angry and confused because they "lied" to me about these make-believe characters?  Absolutely NOT!  On the contrary, I grew up loving my wonderful parents all the more because they made our home so much fun and full of happy surprises and memories. I will always treasure these family traditions, and have passed them down to my own children, with some traditions combined from my husband's family as well.

I guess the important thing here is, do what seems right to you and your family, based on your own personal beliefs and traditions.  Every family is a little different.  It isn't really the full content of your traditions that matter, it's that you did something that created joy and happiness in the lives of your children that will linger in their hearts forever.  And please, don't be a "grinch", or a "Scrooge", or a "spoil-sport" when it comes to celebrating, whether in your own home, or in the neighborhood.  Open your door and your heart, and let others come in to the Light that is shining within you!

My Girlfriends and Me on Halloween, circa 1962!

BOO!  Did I scare you?

Friday, October 21, 2011

What's On Your Mind Today?

It seems as though "Facebook" got us all talking about whatever happened to be on our minds at the moment. Sometimes it was something profound and deep, oftentimes it was rather ridiculous and silly.  Now they have just reduced it down to "Update Status"...which doesn't say a whole lot.  I ran out of cute, intelligent, profound, silly and interesting comments some time ago.  I still have a few ridiculous things to say, but I've been trying to learn to keep them to myself.

Now that we are entering back into another election year I expect we will see more and more political remarks and opinions.  I intend to try and stay out of that arena.  First of all, my comments in the last race didn't go very far.  Obviously not enough people were listening to what I had to say...or the outcome would have been very different.  I've decided to just sit back and watch the fireworks, and keep my thoughts to myself.  Those of you who know me already know pretty much where I stand on the important issues.  I haven't seen anyone yet worth getting excited about.  I started to get excited about one of the newer candidates, and then he opened his mouth and showed that he really wasn't quite ready for this fight...so I'm glad I didn't invest all my campaign dollars on his campaign!  (As if I had any to invest).  The jury is still out on that one...

No,  I'm gonna sit this one out.  At least I intend to try and keep my mouth shut.  However, that doesn't mean that I don't care what happens to our country.  It just means that I've decided to fight this battle on my knees. 

II Chronicles 7:14 says:
"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

So, if you think I've wimped out and refuse to stand up and fight, have no fear...I'm choosing to kneel down and fight this time around.  Maybe that will achieve the greater results.  At least I'm praying that it does. 
Won't you join me?  If we are all in agreement that we want what is best for our country, and we are trusting in God to hear us and do exactly that, how can we lose?

You think about that...and maybe I'll meet you in the "war room"....better known as the "Prayer Room". 

"Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD'S, and He will give you into our hands."
I Samuel 17:47

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Let There Be Light"

"Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so."  "Then God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.  He made the stars also...."  Genesis 1:14-16
You Tube song "Light Light Light Up the Sky"  by "The Afters"

The other morning as I drove to work I was feeling a little down...overstressed, overtired, overworked, and maybe just a teeny bit depressed.  I had previously come through a very difficult week at work, and things did not appear to be getting any easier this week.  I was truly wondering how I was even going to make it through the day, let alone another week with the current stresses piling up on me.  

As per my usual routine, I was listening to the Christian radio station, (the JoyFM) when the above song started to play, "Light Light Light Up The Sky"...and at the same time I happened to look up to my left and smiling down at me was the most brilliant full moon in broad daylight...lighting up the western morning sky, reflecting the brightness of the glorious sunshine from the eastern sky...both of God's great created lights were shining at the same time...and I started singing along with the words of the song by The Afters, "You light light light up the sky to show me You are with me!"   As I drove along that beautiful full moon stayed right there with me, shining brightly and lifting my spirits, giving me the encouragement I needed to face another day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. 

Isn't that just like our God to go all out to show us His love when we need it most?  Yeah...He started it all "in the beginning..." (Genesis 1:1) just for us...to show us He is with us...always.
Jesus said to His disciples following His glorious resurrection from the dead, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

Thank you, Jesus, for lighting up my sky when I needed it most.  I know I can trust You to continue to light my path and lead me in the right direction...always.     Amen.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Whom Are YOU Trying to Please?

"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ."  Galatians 1:10

I wonder how many of you reading this are in the position of being a supervisor?  If so, do you find it an easy position to perform?  How do you negotiate between your employees and your own supervisor, (if you have one, and most of us do).  I would really like to take a poll of persons in supervisory positions to find out if you ever have feelings of ambivalence, frustration, exasperation, or stress.  If so, is that a sign of weakness...or perhaps a clue that supervision really isn't your gift?  Or is it normal to feel torn when you have to make unpopular decisions or carry out wishes of your own superiors that may cause others to become angry, dissatisfied with their position, or worse yet, dislike you because of the stand you must take?  It's certainly not a pleasant place, but it seems to come with the territory. Being a "boss" is not a good position if you want to please others and be liked by those over whom you have been given authority. Sooner or later you will have to take a stand that will be unpopular, even if it is justified and appropriate.

I found myself saying recently that "I didn't accept this position to win a popularity contest".  I couldn't believe my own ears.  Why? Because my natural inclination is to be a friend to others, to always strive to be pleasant and considerate and kind, yes to "please men" (or women, as the case may be), and to "win friends and influence people"... (who said that? Dale Carnegie, I believe).  It is not in my nature to be the "tough guy" or the enforcer.   However, when people continually take advantage of one's good nature and transgress the "rules", thinking that no one would dare to stand up to them, it's time for action. 

Anyone in a position of authority has the responsibility to enforce whatever rules and policies are in effect for that place of employment.  And likewise, each employee is responsible to obey those policies unless they are in direct conflict with one's relationship with God. Everyone needs to reason within himself/herself that his highest priority is to please God...not man.  If we truly strive to please God in all things, whether we are an employee or an employer, our working relationships should run more smoothly.

Who is going to be in control?  from Michael Belk's Journeys with the Messiah
It still doesn't make it easier to make difficult decisions that affect another's position and livelihood, but then again, I didn't make the rules...they have been handed down by a higher authority for the good of the organization as well as its employees. We each have the choice whether or not to obey and live peaceably, or to disobey and suffer the consequences.

Yeah, I choose to please God rather than men, regardless of the personal outcome.  How about you?

For further thoughts on this subject from a little different perspective, read Romans 13:1-7.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

You Can Sense Change in the Air...

"I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations."  Psalm 89:1

Today was the first really refreshingingly cool day we have seen here in Florida in quite a few months! Yesterday was a foretaste of today...but this morning had me singing!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cool fall mornings! My northern friends may scoff when I say that we enjoyed a crisp, chilly morning temperature of 53 degrees upon our arising from our beds to start the day!  That is almost unheard of this early in the fall in this part of Florida, so it is something to celebrate! You can sense the change in the air...a promise of good things to come...a new surge of energy and vigor that the hot, sultry days of summer had drained away. Yes, I am definitely a "fall" person...can you tell?

One of my family's favorite fall breakfasts is homemade biscuits and applesauce.  This was definitely a biscuit and applesauce morning!  There is no better smell in the morning than the sweet spicy aroma of apples cooking sprinkled with cinammon...try staying in bed when that tantalizing fragrance reaches your nostrils! It just can't be done! (Unless you're my son Scott, who could sleep through anything..., which he did...but he's the only one who really doesn't care about homemade applesauce for breakfast, poor kid)

If you have never made your own applesauce before, now is a good time to start!  I use any kind of good baking/eating apple (except for Red Delicious)...McIntosh, Winesap, Cortland, Jonathans, Empires, or Gala...will make a delicious applesauce.  I quarter, core and peel about 6-8 apples, put them in a microwaveable dish, add about 1/3 cup water, and sprinkle with cinammon.  Cover, and cook on high in the microwave for about 6 minutes, or until apples are tender.  Then mash the apples with a potato masher, and add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (or to your particular taste) depending upon how tart the apples were. 

While the apples are cooking I mix up a double batch of home-made biscuits, (please don't use canned biscuits---if you don't know how to make them from scratch, use Bisquick or Jiffy Biscuit Mix).  Serve the hot applesauce right on top of the open hot biscuits.  If you think you need something else to supplement this breakfast, by all means eat whatever you wish...but save room for seconds on the biscuits!

This was such a great way to start the day! Did I mention that I LOVE the smell of homemade applesauce cooking? Who needs artificial scented candles and air-fresheners when you can have the real thing? 

So tell me, what are some of YOUR favorite fall traditions?  I hope to share more of mine with you as the days go by and I become so inspired!!

By the way, here's a few interesting verses of scripture regarding "apples"...

"Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons.  I sat down in his shade with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.  Sustain me with cakes of raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am lovesick." 
Song of Solomon 2:3-5

 "Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye."  Proverbs 7:2

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settngs of silver."  Proverbs 25:11

"He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye."  Deuteronomy 32:10

Can you find any others?

Have a blessed biscuits and applesauce kind of day!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This is the day that the Lord has made...

"This is the day that the Lord has made; We WILL rejoice and be glad in it!"  Psalm 118:24

Today, September 25, 2011, is a special day for me.  It marks the _ _ st anniversary of my birthday!  Therefore, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it! 

This was an unusual birthday for me, as it has just struck me that this is the very first birthday in my life where neither of my parents were with me.  Well, there may have been other birthdays that they could not attend due to the fact that I was living too far away for them to visit...but today is the first birthday that both of my parents are in heaven.  Actually, I think they were with me anyway!  I have a feeling they were smiling down from their heavenly home and singing happy birthday to me just like they did every year of my life until God called them home.  No matter how far away from home I may have been, they always made a point of calling me on my birthday, usually either early in the morning...or perhaps in the evening when they knew I'd be awake and at home, and they would sing in their precious harmonious fashion:
"Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Pammy! Happy Birthday to you!"

No birthday was complete until I had received that phone call.  I'm looking at their picture now, and I can almost hear them singing...

I love this picture of them, taken for their 60th Wedding Anniversary...and probably the last real good picture of them together before my mother passed away a few years later.  This is how I will always remember them. I told them back when I helped them pick out this particular pose for their portrait that it had a "heavenly" look, like they were sitting up in the clouds and looking back at us here below...
My Mom and Dad...Can't you almost hear them singing?

My sister Doris and I having a birthday tea party!
Just like when we were little girls!!
 I've had a wonderful birthday today.  My family here on earth with me has blessed me with good food, wonderful gifts, and lots of singing of Happy Birthday...my friends here on facebook and email and other have also blessed me with many many notes of birthday greetings and blessings.  I am blessed beyond measure. 

Yes, I must say, "This IS the day the Lord has made; we WILL rejoice and be glad in it!"

Thank you, Lord, for friends and family, both near and far.  And especially I thank you for my dear parents, who brought me into this world and gave me such a wonderful, godly heritage, and a true appreciation for my home, family, and my God.  I am truly blessed beyond measure.  And Lord, if You don't mind, could you give my Mama and Daddy a big hug from me, and tell them how much I love them and miss them?  Thank you Jesus.  Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Aint nothing like the real thing, baby"

The following is a quote of my own comment to one of my blogging friends who had just written about whether or not she should get an Ipod to replace her Palm Pilot..."Our Journey Together" by my friend Susan

This is what I said regarding her dilemma...
"I don't have either one...I have a desktop computer. My husband has a refurbished laptop. I have an ordinary cell phone. I don't need anything else. I feel "over-connected" with this old world now as it is. What I really desire is real friends, real faces at my table and not in my computer, love and laughter with family and friends in person. Gadgets are nice, and I don't fault anyone for having them...but I just don't want them. I may have to write about this in my blog since this comment is too long already! Yes, save your $$ until you are ready to get whatever you feel you need at that time. Until then, just enjoy the real people and places surrounding you each day. That is what really matters."

My friend Susan is currently battling a very serious and aggressive cancer. She is a young mother of one very active 2 1/2 yr. old boy, as well as a counselor.  She tries to maintain her work, enjoy her family,and live a normal life as much as possible.  Perhaps an Ipod would help her. Her Mother seems to think so...and it might be the right thing for her to do.  I was not trying to be critical at all regarding her decision or choices. I was just speaking for my own self.

I've had friends tell me that I need to get a "Kindle" to read my books on...and I have no interest in that at all.  I know, I know, I've heard all the wonderful endorsements for having such a marvelous invention to carry a whole library of books at my instant disposal with me anywhere.  But why do I need to do that? I can only read one book at a time, and I like to do that in a comfortable chair, turning the paper pages, feeling each page as I turn it, and looking back at the previous page anytime I want to re-read what I just read in case I didn't quite get it the first time. I love to look at the cover of the book, read the fly-leaf, look at the copyright.  A lot of the books I read are very old, (from my blog-page "A Few of My Favorite Things")and sometimes the pages are stained, perhaps a little dog-eared...and I have often found other people's old  
bookmarks...an old grocery list, a small card with notes on it, the names of other people who have owned or read the book I am holding in my hand.  I love that. It helps me feel connected with the previous readers, or the author herself/himself!  Please don't take away my real books! You just can't do all of that with an electronic gadget that has to be recharged frequently or might easily get damaged or stolen. My books can be picked up anywhere, anytime, and I don't recall ever having to recharge them to be able to read them.  (I might have to recharge my OWN batteries sometimes to keep going...but that's a different story!)

I truly do enjoy connecting with many friends, old and new, through the medium of "Facebook".  I think that is a wonderful invention and I have embraced it whole-heartedly! I love to post pictures of my family and share a piece of my world with the rest of the world.  I do the same through this blog.  But one thing I have to remind myself of often...this should not ever take the place of "real-life" friends and family...those who are here with me in the flesh...or who may be wanting to share a part of my life in a more tangible way. You know, a "real" tea-party...a lunch date...a shopping trip...a ride in the country with my hubby...a card game with our kids or friends at our kitchen table...laughing and talking and experiencing real quality time together...face to face...hearing each other's voices and seeing the smiles on their faces...holding hands in a time of prayer for a meal shared together...a hug when we meet, and another when we part. 

Cell phones are a wonderful invention also...mine is rather archaic in that it doesn't do much except make phonecalls. I could add more to it, for a price...but why should I?  It does what I need it to do...and sometimes I wish I didn't need it at all.  It's hard to escape when people have my number...and I feel "naked" if I go out without it.  I don't like being that dependent on a technological gadget.

I refuse to get one of those GPS thingys for my car.  I have always prided myself on having a good sense of direction.  Also, I try to look up places  before I leave and if I need to, I print out the directions...or I do it the old fashioned way...I take an atlas (map) when traveling very far.  It got our forefathers where they were going (even though they hated to ask directions)...I can remember my father telling us on our vacation trips, when we had been driving around what seemed like circles for quite a while, "I'm not lost. I know exactly where I'm going. I'm just taking the scenic route!"  How many of you have ever heard (or said) that before?
Besides, everyone I know who has a GPS thingy in their car still can't find my house without calling me in the middle of the night after driving around for an hour on dark dirt roads...(I Love you, niece Debbie). Some places just aren't meant to be found with an electronic gizmo!!!

Come sit across my table and let's have a real visit...I'll even give you a piece of that apple pie (well, better give me some warning first so I can bake one!)
Well, speaking of "real people", my hubby is desiring my attention...so I need to bring this to a stopping place.  Yes, modern technology is wonderful and definitely has a place...but let's please not substitute the mirage for the real thing.  Let us constantly strive to embrace our "real friends" and loved ones with warm hugs and long audible and visible conversations.  (You know, eye to eye and giving our undivided attention).  Let us keep our mental faculties intact by exercising our sense of direction, handwriting skills (that's another subject to discuss since modern technology has made handwriting almost obsolete), mathematical skills (oops! I will NOT give up my calculator! I'm a bookkeeper by trade!!)

Let's think about these things...Good night dear friends, both near and far and through my open window of this computer.  I guess modern technology isn't ALL bad...otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this now (and I would never have been able to send it to you!!!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time for a "Sanity Day"

"He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul..." Psalm 23:2-3a

Crystal Lake, Eaton, NH
Ahhhh....to lay back in that little boat and float on the placid clear waters of a crystal pure lake, looking up at the billowy, fluffy white clouds set against an azure sky...not a care in the world...allowing total rest and peace take control of my mind, heart and soul...voices of geese overhead and loons calling their mates...no other sound to disturb the serenity of this moment...no troubling thoughts or difficult decisions to make...just letting God's peace settle deep into my being...ahhh yes....zzzzzzzz...."He restores my soul..."

That was a kind of "Calgon-take me away" minute...only much much better than any manufactured bath salts could ever accomplish...It is God's natural healing balm, soothing, comforting and healing ointment in the wounds of my over-stressed mind and tendons..."You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over..." (Psalm 23:5b)

After a particularly stressful couple of weeks, every fiber in my body is telling me this is what I need. Therefore, I informed by boss and my staff that I would be taking a "sanity day" tomorrow...a much needed day off.  No one seemed to mind at all...the tension lines in my face must have been rather obvious.

So, what am I going to do with my day?  I really don't know right now...but God knows exactly what I need...and I am trusting Him to provide.

"May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose.  We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the Name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions." (Psalm 20:4-5

Thank you, David the Psalmist, for these prayers of blessing written especially for me today.  Somehow God knew that there would be days like this even over 3000 years ago (the Psalms were written in the 10th Century B.C.) and that I, one of His children, (and you, all of His children) would need these words of comfort, peace, and hope on this very day. 

Even if I don't do anything particularly wonderful tomorrow, I am thankful for these moments today. They have been like a breath of fresh air in my soul.  I hope you have been refreshed by these words as well.
Good Night! Sleep Peacefully...and
"May He (the Lord) grant you according to your heart's desire...and fulfill all your purpose" as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Update on the Waiting Room....(Finally fixed the Rooster)

Since writing about so many friends who are currently in "The Waiting Room" the other day, (http://pamelasopenwindow.blogspot.com/2011/09/are-you-in-waiting-room-with-us.html)
 I thought it might be appropriate to bring an update and even add a few more to the list.  I think it is always good to follow up with the answers to our prayers and perhaps add some new words of encouragement for those "still waiting."   

My little mascot friend here is for my Chicken Farmer friend (The Other Pam) whose baby peeps finally arrived safe and sound...all thirty of them! (She was only expecting 25)...and I believe her home has been a bustle of excitement ever since!  I mean, keeping 30 little baby peeps warm and well fed and clean can be quite a challenge for a working girl!  I did not want to be outdone, so I had to show off my pet rooster and let him crow about how excited we all are for our friend and her new family!  So here's a big "Er roo er roo erROOOOOO for you!  http://www.thewordstress.com/2011/09/18/awwwwwww/ tells it all...
    My blogger friend who was attending the online book-launch for  fellow blogger was happy to report that she actually won a copy of the new book for being such a tenacious fan!  Congratulations to the Recovering Church Lady for winning the prize.  She is still praying for some bigger answers to some bigger questions in her personal life...so we'll keep sitting with her in the waiting room for awhile.  http://www.recoveringchurchlady.com/

For my dear friend Susan, who was on "pins and needles" about her upcoming Dr. visit...well, the news was not as good as she had hoped it would be.  See her journal for more details: http://ourjourneytogether-susan.blogspot.com/2011/09/news.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FAcxuK+%28Our+Journey+Together%29      I like what she said in her facebook status the next day, "My thought for today is that things are not always what they appear. I feel good and so I am going with that!"   Susan R. Comeau-Nguyen 
Yes, Susan, positive actions and thinking often lead to positive results. May God continue to bless you with those thoughts and especially the "feeling good" part.  With God ALL things are possible!

My friend Kim from "Marmee's Pantry" has also left the waiting room. She reported in her blog early today:  http://marmeespantry.blogspot.com/2011/09/heavens-new-occupant.html
"Mother graciously & peacefully entered glory at 11:40p.m. last night. "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant...You have freed me from my chains." ~Ps. 11:15,16"    
Ah, my dear Kim, may our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Great Comforter, wrap His loving arms tenderly around you and your family, and carry you through these days to come.  I've been there already before, first with my sweet dear mother, and then just this past spring with my precious daddy...so I know exactly how you are feeling right now.  I also know that God and all the angels in heaven are rejoicing with your parents tonight as they are enjoying that heavenly reunion they had waited for so long. Keep those happy thoughts in your heart and mind, and it will help to carry you through the days to come.

I haven't heard anything yet from my friend who is hoping to get a new job back in her home state...but it's a bit soon yet...she may be in the waiting room for a while longer...but she's not alone.  There's a lot of our friends and loved ones in there with her hoping for a better job...or any job at all!  I know...my husband is one of them...but, again, in God's time it will all work out according to HIS divine plan!!

My sweet friend up in New England stays so busy with all of her business and projects that she probably forgets that she, too, is in the waiting room of sorts...but God hasn't forgotten about her...and He knows exactly what her needs are...and He's taking care of them all one by one.  I like the fact that she stays busy while she waits...I think that is pure faith in action.

I want to add a new member to our "Waiting Room" tonight.  A very special family who is actively awaiting the birth of their precious baby girl Eve at this very moment.  http://babyevecatherine.blogspot.com/2011/09/making-progress.html  This link tells you the story...be sure to go back and read the previous entries of this blog to get the full story...you will find that this is no ordinary "delivery" story.  Baby Eve will be welcomed into this world by her loving family who are anxiously waiting to hold her and love her and introduce her to this world.  You must read the story...you will be awe-inspired just as I was when I learned of Eve's story. Say a special prayer for Baby Eve and her family tonight...and tomorrow...and every day.  She is going to have a difficult road ahead of her...but it is exciting to see how God has prepared the way for her through a very special "waiting room". 

Well, dear friends, this pretty well sums up "The Waiting Room" saga for tonight.  One thought comes to mind, and I don't know who said it, but it is one of those things that goes around on email from time to time...and it goes something like this..."Remember, be kind to everyone you meet...because everyone is going through something whether you know it or not."  

Yes, we are all in a type of waiting room...and the things we are waiting for may change from day to day.  But the One who is waiting on us does NOT change.  He is always there... and will continue to hear our prayers and meet us in the waiting room each day.  So don't lose hope.  Your turn to be called may be next! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are You in the Waiting Room with Us?

I was just reading through my friends' blogs and facebook messages and thinking about all the things that are going on in people's lives right now at this very moment across this planet.  I've noticed that a lot of my friends are waiting on something or Some One... 
   One friend is attending a virtual online "Book Launcher" Party for a fellow blogger friend who has just written a book.  It sounds interesting "Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines"...something about turning 50.  I bet it will be a best seller...there's a lot of us out here who once tried to wear mini-skirts but wouldn't dare to now...and we definitely have "laughter lines"...that's a euphemistic name for wrinkles.  I like that...and I have quite a few.  ttp://feedproxy.google.com/~r/recoveringchurchlady/oxwH/~3/k36FO8Fn1zA/im-at-book-launch-party.html  My friend is a writer in her own right, and is seeking God's direction for her future at this moment as well.

One of my other blogger friends is awaiting the passing of her mother from this earth to a heavenly reunion with her father.. (http://marmeespantry.blogspot.com/2011/09/it-wont-be-long-now.html )  and even though it is a sad time for this daughter, she is comforted knowing how happy her parents will be to be together again...for eternity.  My heart goes out to my friend, as I just recently went through the same thing when my father left this old world a few months ago to join my mother in heaven.  I can envision them there together dancing under the stars with all the angels watching...and Jesus in the midst enjoying the scene with them.  

 Now this other particular friend of mine is also waiting for something special...but on a lighter note...she is waiting for the arrival of her 25 baby chicks she ordered! She has partnered with several of her friends and is going to have a "brooder house" for these baby chicks and they will all chip in and help provide the chicken feed so they can enjoy the fresh eggs that they hope will eventually make their daily debut!  http://www.thewordstress.com/  Read all about it in her blog entitled "Team Research Chickens".  I told her I would put it on the news...so here it is!!

Back to the waiting room again...another of my blogging friends is also in "God's Waiting Room", http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/AcxuK/~3/y5S9CRG_xUE/waiting-on-pins-and-needles.html  literally waiting "on pins and needles" for her Dr. appointment this Friday that will tell whether or not the cancer in her body is growing or standing still at this point.  I pray for this young mother who has spent the whole time of her child's life (about two years) battling a very aggressive cancer and praying for a cure so she can watch her child grow up and enjoy being a part of his life. 

One of my facebook friends is waiting to hear if she'll get a job that she would very much love to have, which will bring her back home to Florida, where her husband is already working and waiting anxiously for her to join him. I pray God will answer her prayer...

Another friend has a very busy life in New England, and between her very prosperous resort cleaning business and giving pony rides to eager children, and managing various other ventures between  giving trail rides at the Castle and horse-drawn sleigh rides at the Farm along with caring for her big family, she manages to steal a few moments to write about her adventures with the locals, the tourists, and the animals that keep us laughing.  Never a dull moment in her life...one remarkable person that I truly admire and appreciate!https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/notes/beth-estes-towle/unusual-day-on-nordic-lane/264429273578143

And last, but certainly not least, my son Matthew, whom many of you have read about this past year as he has fought his own battle against a very aggressive cancer, http://pamelasopenwindow.blogspot.com/search/label/DSRCT
My Son Matthew...contemplating his future last summer.
He is currently doing quite well, thankfully, but is also waiting for his next PET Scan that will show whether or not the chemo-maintenance drug he has been taking for the past almost a year is continuing to halt the progression of this disease in his body.  They have recently reduced the dosage of the chemo-pills because the side-effects were just becoming too unmanageable...so now we just have to pray that the reduced dosage will be strong enough to do the job. 

All of these friends/family are busily pursuing their goals and living their lives in the Light of God's Glory...and trusting Him each day for their daily sustenance.  Some have physical issues and daily pain that they must endure, others have difficult jobs or are searching for God's will for their lives in one way or another.  Others are facing sorrow and loss, but with grace and peace.  Others are just enjoying the life that God has given them and want to share that joy and fun with others. 

I like the verse that my young friend waiting on "pin and needles" shared in her blog this day,

Isaiah 40:31
"But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."

Being in God's waiting room is not an uncommon place to be...I've spent many a night and day there myself. But one thing I can honestly say...I've never been there alone...the very One I was waiting for was actually there all the time...right there in the midst of my struggles, my impatience, and my yearnings to be heard.  He literally was holding me in His divine lap the whole time...listening to my tales of woe and hearing every beat of my heart.  And He is there with you today as well...wherever you may be...He's already there.  So relax and read a blog or two while you wait, or pray a prayer for someone else who needs to be heard. Or write a few words about your life to share with others.  We are all in this waiting room together...so we might as well enjoy the time!

God's blessing be upon you as you wait on Him!!