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 30, 2020

Let the ADVENTure Begin! (Revisited)

This was originally posted on 12/3/2013, while I was still a "working woman"...but I love what happened on this particular day, and wanted to share it with you again! I hope you are eagerly anticipating the celebration of Christ's Birth...Let's open this Advent Window and see what message is waiting for us today...


Original Post 12/3/2013:

The Advent Calendars are now being opened one day at a time...Did you have one of these as a child?  I can remember having one that we eagerly opened each day as we counted down the days until Christmas...each little "open window" on the calendar gave us a new glimpse into preparing for Christmas...getting ready for the Baby Jesus to appear....the shepherds watching, the wise men traveling from afar, the angels singing, the star shining, the cattle lowing, Mary and Joseph preparing the manger...and finally the Baby Jesus making His appearance on Christmas Day!
Of course, we were also looking forward to all the other fun adventures of Christmas: Making up our lists for Santa...decorating the house, putting up the Christmas tree and hanging our stockings with care...baking cookies and candies, drinking hot cocoa with marshmallows, hanging candy canes on the tree and lighting candles in the windows. Singing Christmas carols and listening to choirs sing, watching special Christmas pageants. The sights, smells, and mysteries of Christmas...."I wonder what Santa will bring me this year?"  "I wonder if we will hear him and his reindeer when they land on the roof and come down the chimney?"  Yes, I believed in Santa...still do...It's a magical, wonderful time of the year...


Well, yesterday, as I was driving home from work I was thinking about all the things I need to do to get ready for Christmas...I haven't even started my shopping...not one decoration is set out...and except for the Christmas music playing on my car radio I haven't heard or sung any Christmas carols yet...  I mean, I'm still recuperating from Thanksgiving and all of the joys and memories of that special time with family and friends...and still cleaning up from that.  I just can't jump right in and get ready for Christmas in one day, like turning a page in a book and all of a sudden it's Christmas and everything is in place.  Last year I wrote about this experience here:  "Easing Into Christmas".  

But as I was listening to the radio on my way home yesterday they were playing all Christmas music...and suddenly the music from Handel's Messiah was flooding my car with joy and majesty!  I found myself singing along with the music...and a few tears started running down my cheeks as I remembered that we hadn't even gotten out our Handel's Messiah CD at home yet...one of our family traditions ever since we've been married is to listen to that glorious music as we get ready for Christmas.  I was feeling extremely nostalgic and a little sad as I sang along with the chorus of "For Unto Us A Child is Born...unto us, a Son is given...(Click here to listen to this song)  and then, when I pulled into my yard, what to my wondering eyes should appear?  No, NOT Santa and his reindeer, but this:

I was so astounded, I just broke into tears, and started laughing, crying, clapping, rejoicing!  God knew  what I needed...and He placed this thought into my son, to create this particular sign on this particular day, and surprise me by having it sitting out on our front walkway when I arrived home!  Only God could do that in just this special way!

So now Christmas Advent has officially begun at our house!  It's like opening a new window on our Advent Calendar each day... to see what new thing will happen to prepare the way for the Christ Child to enter in this Christmas.   What special things are you doing to prepare the way in your home...your heart...your life?

Remember:  

So let the ADVENTure begin!!

Isaiah 9:6:
"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."

Sunday, November 29, 2020

A Devotional for Advent

After the busyness of the previous week of Thanksgiving preparations and spending precious time feasting with family and friends...my mind and spirit needed to get away from the hustle and bustle for a little while and spend some time alone. Sitting along the shore of our Still Waters Pond brought peace and comfort as I quieted myself before the Lord and allowed His Presence to wash over me. There is such tranquility in the midst of the noise of the earth as I come before the Lord in reverence and awe, and enjoy again the beauties of His world surrounding me.

Ah! I suddenly remembered that it is the beginning of Advent...and as I gathered together the fresh pine boughs and holly branches filled with bright red berries, and placed the cedar candle stands in the center of the wreath that will hold the Advent candles throughout these next four weeks prior to Christmas, my heart began to sing to the Lord "a new song"...


"Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods."
Psalm 96:1-4

While I retreated from the world a little while, God reminded me again of the true meaning of Christmas...and why we should prepare our hearts for the Advent of the Lord as we proclaim Christ's birth and purpose for coming to the earth...

"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."

"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."
Isaiah 9: 2, 6-7


What a precious time this was today...the Lord knew what I needed.  I needed to sit down in a quiet place and allow my soul to be bathed in His peace and comfort.  I needed to prepare my heart for the coming of the Lord....Christmas! I needed to make room for Him to enter into my heart and home and life again...and not just go through the motions of putting up all the decorations and shopping for gifts and baking and working and wearing myself out without enjoying the wonder and beauty of this most glorious season...

"Let the heavens rejoice,
and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful,
and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with His truth."
Psalm 96:11-13

And what about you? Have you prepared your heart for the coming of the Christ child this Christmas? There is no time like the present to be "present" to God's peace...
That would be the very best "present" of all...
Peace on earth, and in our hearts as well.
Amen.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Little Bit of Christmas

 "We Need A Little Christmas"...

(by Johnny Matthis)

This old song popped into my head a few minutes ago as I sat down to show you what I've been up to today...I guess I needed a "little Christmas", so I just did a "little" bit of Christmas decorating. This is only the beginning...got a long way to go, but  as I said, "we need a little Christmas right now!"

Yesterday I had this vision of covering our multi-flowered sofa with something more cozy and in keeping with the season.  The picture below shows how it normally looks...mauve and blue and hunter green on a taupe background. Very 80's/90's. We've had this sofa for over 20 years,  and actually had two identical ones, (and they were a gift from a friend who was moving and couldn't take them with her) but we left one at the church parsonage last summer when we moved here because we didn't have room for two.  My goal is to replace this sofa eventually, but it has to go on "the list" below other things that are more needful.  It is still in good condition structurally, but to reupholster it costs as much (or more) than a new one...and I haven't found a slip cover that would fit properly yet, but that is now on my list to search for.


And so I got busy trying this and that and scouting out my sheets, blankets, bedspreads for ideas that might work to make this sofa more cozy and "wintery" for the season:
How's this?

This is how it really looks from the front...I know, it still needs some tweaking here and there, but you get the idea...

The idea is to provide a cozy cabin feel for Christmas, with a sofa where one can lie down and enjoy the "fire" in the fireplace and take a little snooze if needed.   I am happy with the results, but I am still looking for a real slip cover that isn't made up of sheets, blankets, and quilted pillow shams. LOL. 


Next I tackled the Guest Room. Not that I am expecting any overnight guests that I know of, but then again, you never know who may show up at our door needing a place to stay...So I flipped the decor from spring/summer white with blue and yellow spring flowers to a country quilt with reds and greens and other more wintry shades...and put a green and red plaid throw blanket on the foot of the bed in case one gets a little chilled in the night! (It does happen here in Florida, trust me!)


The little bear and puppy dog welcome "Chris-Moose" for the Christmas season. He comes with jingle bells and snow shoes and a basket of holly berries, 


which is good if he wants some holly berries because those robins and Cedar Waxwings totally cleaned our holly trees by Thanksgiving, just as my sister said they would!
Hard to believe just a few days ago this tree was loaded with bright red berries:

I was hard pressed to find these few remaining berries today...and no sign of those voracious robins or waxwings anywhere now! They are off in search of "redder" pastures!


So, while we are looking outside, let me show you what I did out there today as well:

These are the doors to our shed. I know, that one wreath on the left looks a little lopsided on one side. I will have to fix that. It takes looking at these pictures to see what needs to be fixed as I look at it through the eyes of my beholders...

Almost looks like snow on the roof. But it's not, trust me...


This is how it looks out there right now...

Up on the front porch we have some bright red poinsettias ready to greet our visitors...


And I love this little white church Christmas flag by the front steps:


And there's a Christmas lantern flag in the garden area:


I hope the birdies enjoy it!


Down by the pond and next to the bird feeder is this cute snowman, feeding the birds:


Up on the back porch is a "Christmas cactus" that is blooming for Thanksgiving. My sister with the green thumb was here and she confirmed it is actually a Christmas cactus and not a Thanksgiving cactus...there is a difference and she says you can tell by their stems/leaves whatever you call them...so this one is just confused and is blooming early.


On the front porch I set up our grapevine Christmas tree. We made that several years ago from our wild grapevines at our last house in the forest.  It was quite a job to do it...I'm glad it has lasted all this time because I wouldn't do it again! LOL.

Here is the view from outside. I can see it is also lopsided, so I need to tweak it a bit too. I haven't put any ornaments on it yet either...just the lights so far, and they should be redistributed to mix the colors a little better. I just pulled it out of the bag and put it on the porch and plugged it in to see if it still lights up. The rest of the work will get done eventually. I am waiting for my son to get the rest of the boxes from the shed with all of the Christmas decorations for the tree and house.  One day at a time..."Rome wasn't built in a day", and neither are my Christmas decorations every done in a day...

Found the Christmas wreath for the front door. 


So, that's all for now! To be continued later...

Meanwhile, tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent.  I am looking forward to the beginning of the Christmas/Advent season.  We will have the lighting of the first candle of the Advent wreath at church, and I am excited that our son and his wife are going to do the first readings and candle lighting. 
I will share more about that tomorrow.
After all, this is what Christmas is all about...

Isaiah 9: 2, 6
"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."

"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."


Let us not forget the real meaning of Christmas as we scurry around getting things dressed up for Christmas. May we never lose sight of that Babe who was born in that manger...Who came to earth seeking each of us, that we might be saved from our sins and have eternal life in heaven...
"And that's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown"...

Friday, November 27, 2020

I Forgot This Was Friday! Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

 Hey everyone! Happy day after Thanksgiving! I guess I totally forgot today was Friday, and I should have posted some pictures! I got busy cleaning up after yesterday's feast, and totally forgot all about posting and/or reading anyone else's posts. So I have some catching up to do as soon as I finish writing here now!  Normally on the day after Thanksgiving I am too lazy to start putting away all the Thanksgiving decorations, and I try to make it last just a little longer. (You can read more about that here if you want to)  But today I was ready to take it all down and get it cleaned up so I can start decorating for Christmas. I know many of you have already started your Christmas decorating, but I just can't handle more than one holiday at a time, so I've been waiting. Now I am ready to get started! It seems like the fall decorations were up forever...(they were...since September!!) Now I am tired of seeing orange and gold and brown...I'm ready for some reds and greens and all things Christmassy!  However, first, let me share a little about our Thanksgiving for those of you who don't read my Facebook page.

Thanksgiving morning dawned bright and beautiful:


The night before Thanksgiving and all through the house, a creature was stirring, and it wasn't a mouse...
There was our son Scott, busily baking my mother's famous Orange Cookie recipe. It's a family tradition whenever the family is coming for any event, my mother would always bake a batch of Orange Cookies for the grandchildren to enjoy. Of course, the big children enjoyed them as well! Here is a link to a previous post about that, and it will lead you to another link with the recipe. (In case you are interested).


Time to taste test them...


Here's hubby to do the honors, and he pronounced them "very good".


Meanwhile, I had already baked my pumpkin pies and they were ready and waiting for the hungry crowd the next day:


And the "Adult Table" was almost set. I decided to use paper and plastic this year due to the Covid situation. I figured the less opportunity to spread something the better, and less time having to clean up too. Everyone else seemed to appreciate that as well.


This was the "Kids' Table", but all our "kids" are pretty big now. I used the placemats that my mother had made for my family when our children were very young. 


So back to Thanksgiving morning...it was such a pretty morning I decided to sit out on the back porch and snap beans and enjoy the beauty of Still Waters Pond:


Here's me, snapping away. Obviously this is before I was appropriately "dressed for dinner".


Once the family began to arrive, my niece set up this beautiful Vegie Turkey Tray! Isn't he cute? And healthy too!


She also brought this sculptured Butter Turkey...he was too cute to cut, but we did anyway:


Now, here's the "Adult Table" in full action:


And here's the "Kids' Table", with the "kids" having a good time...
One of these "kids" is the mother of two of these kids...and the other "kid" is my baby! Can you figure that out?


Back to the "Adult Table", which is debatable...I had to sit down and get my picture taken too, next to my sister. Please don't say we look like twins. We aren't. She's my "Little BIG Sister", and I'm her "Big Little Sister", because I'm about 5 inches taller than she is but she is my petite big sister.


Time for the family photos:


My niece and her family. Now you know which "kids" belong to her! They were acting up as usual.


Oh, and here my sister is taking a picture of me:


And this is the picture she took:


And here I am taking a picture of her!


Here's our sweet kids...Benton and Rose. I still call them "the newlyweds"...they just celebrated 3 years of marriage a couple of weeks ago!



And here is The Steiner Clan, and we've included our daughter in law's sister Sherrie. I said she is our new "Adopted daughter".  


And here we are: The two "Mursch Girls"
Doris and Pam.


After the rest of the gang left our "kids" stayed outside until dark, playing "corn hole"


And then the sun went down.


And we stop and "Give Thanks" for all the Lord has done for us. Amen.



So, "that's a wrap"... Thanksgiving is technically over...but not the thankfulness!
I trust you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, regardless of how big or small your group may have been. We stuck to just my sister's and my immediate families, people that we each were comfortable being around and felt safe to do so. It was a wonderful time to celebrate getting through a long difficult year. So thankful our families have been safe, healthy, and have stayed employed. God has been so very gracious unto us and we are most grateful.  We definitely are counting our blessings and give thanks to God for all that He has done for us.  

And now we prepare our hearts for Advent and the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world!  I will start my Advent/Christmas posts this weekend.  

Psalm 145:3-9

3.  "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.
4.  One generation shall praise Your works to another, 
and shall declare Your mighty acts.
5.  I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
and on Your wondrous works.
6.  Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
and I will declare Your greatness.
7.  They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.
8.  The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
9.  The Lord is good to all,
and His tender mercies are over all His works."


Until next time, stay safe...but don't forget to spread the love of Jesus to everyone you meet. That is one thing that ought to be "contagious" because it could heal the pain and sorrow of the whole world. God bless you all, and good night.