Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The True Meaning of Christmas

Valerie J. Steimle

The Christmas lights are glowing everywhere and people are still driving with trees on tops of cars.  The thoughts of those pecan pies from Thanksgiving are still in our heads but we press forward as we are in full swing in the Christmas season.
            Last year "Black Friday" has past with little or no fan fair but as you remember a couple of years ago the news reported that a 34-year old man was trampled to death by Wal-mart shoppers trying to get into the store. This year there have been mostly good reports of kindness to others on that day. Maybe we have improved our behavior.  Maybe we can remember the true meaning of this time of the year.
            This year for Christmas many people have lost their jobs. This year there may not be the material Christmas many have experienced in the past. This year those who have been more fortunate to have employment will hopefully remember those who have not been so lucky.  Giving to others who don’t have much always leaves us with a great feeling in our own lives.
            As Christmas has at times lost its meaning in years before maybe as a people we can realize that the number and cost of gifts isn’t as important as being with their family.  Maybe we can remember that a few gifts to our friends and family are the tokens of what is really the true meaning of Christmas.
            There are so many wonderful events that are fun and do not cost much to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas.  Christmas concerts and parties, festivals in the park, parades, night excursions to Christmas lights and baking Christmas cookies at home are just some of the memories we can create for our children.
            Agnes Pharo says it well: What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.
            We are alive on this earth and can do good for others.  If we all had a glimpse of what George Bailey saw in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”, we would appreciate what we have so much more.
            This is the season of love and giving to others.  We should all learn what it truly means in giving of ourselves to others.  Not just in buying material possessions but in spending time and using our talents to share with our friends and family.  That is the true meaning of the Christmas season.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sharing Passions and Talents Can Be Life Altering

Valerie Steimle

I had an epiphany last week.  As I was accomplishing my daily chores of schooling my children, writing articles to submit, and driving around different areas of the county, I was just in awe of the many people with so much talent.  It is truly amazing how so many living all over Alabama has developed their God-given gifts to share with others.
From every form of art work, to books, music, clothing design, food, science and so much more, we see the results of their passion and it improves our lives. It is everywhere.  Look around at the architecture of buildings, the sculptures on the sidewalks, the terrific restaurants with many food offerings, performances of music and theater and the diversity of museums showcasing all areas of life. I am just in awe of how so many people in Baldwin County occupy their time participating in their passion and talent to share with others.
One of the best ways to de-stress yourself and boost your self-esteem is when you develop a talent or passion you have felt has been an interest to you.  As it has been reported in several different studies of those who do share their talents and passions and especially attain a goal which has been an on going project; this helps you connect with people and it is beneficial to both the person sharing and those at the receiving end of sharing. This experience can be life altering.
During the season of fall in many areas of our great country, there are many activities and events which show case so many of these wonderful crafts and capabilities. One of my favorite places to visit is Fairhope’s First Friday event every month as there is much to see, hear and taste during the hours of 6pm to 10pm on the streets of FairhopeOctober 7th is the next “First Friday” event which is a week from today.

We live in an amazing time and place where there is so much offered to us in these modern times. There are so many personalities and individuals who create so much for us to enlighten our lives and enhance our existence while we live our life here on earth. Take advantage of what is offered in your area of life and you won’t be sorry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Learning From Noah’s Ark

Valerie J. Steimle

Presidential debates, earthquakes, unemployment, financial ruin. We hear a lot of commotion in the news. If your family wasn’t affected by the earthquake, it certainly will be by the presidential debates or unemployment. Certainly the threat of our country’s financial ruin has been hanging over our heads for several months. We are sliding into the last quarter of the year and we seem worse off as country now than we were in January.

Freedom fighters and Constitutional patriots have popped up all over the whole country. Their message is clear: they seek to “reaffirm the Constitution of the United States as supreme law of the land and gain back our freedoms.” There are writings all over the internet of what needs to be done first to accomplish this. One important point made by several economists was that we need to address the problems in our own lives and then focus on helping in our community, city, State and then our Nation.

On that thought, I found a great reminder to help keep our life in check. The lessons from Sunday School are sometimes more applicable to our modern lives than we realize:

Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah's Ark:

ONE: Don't miss the boat. Get on board with your community. Pay attention to what is going around you. Read all you can to help your family and others.

TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat! We are all human beings and have the same needs so we can help each other. Neighborhoods should share resources when possible. As we become accustomed to sharing, when a crisis really strikes, we are prepared.
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. If we feel impressed to stash some canned food away every week, by all means do it! In order to take care of our families, we need to think ahead to prepare for what ever crisis comes our way.
FOUR: Stay fit. When you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. That goes for everyone, no matter what the age. Get off the couch and walk, bike, swim or skip. You will feel much better.
FIVE: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. If there is criticizing heard at your house, just ignore it. Being prepared is an important job.
SIX: Build your future on high ground. This is not a good time to take risks. This is not a good time to over extend the budget or buy unnecessary purchases for our “wants”. Staying financially safe within a family budget is always preferred.
SEVEN: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Go your own pace and get their safe.
NINE: When you're stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting. 

Remember these wise words for the future. You will be glad you did.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Persistence in Everything Brings Success

Valerie Steimle
A new movie hit the theaters last weekend called “The Help”.  The story centers around married women who hired help in their homes during the 1960’s in Mississippi . But that’s not what caught my attention about the story.  What was interesting about this story, which was a best selling book by the way, was that the author, Kathryn Stockett, persisted through 60 rejection notices until she found someone to publish her manuscript. She had labored over three years on this project and sent out 60 letters of inquiry for her book and it was letter number 61 that got her published into the literary world. I applaud her perseverance. Sheer persistence is difficult to find these days.
Endeavoring to do anything worth wile and succeed takes sheer persistence.  Public school starts this week for both Mobile and Baldwin County and our youth need to learn that success in learning takes this kind of fortitude.  It is not always easy to remember everything for a test or be successful in a sport or learn to play a musical instrument successfully but persistently trying over and over again will get results.
As in life itself, if we want to be successful at whatever we pursue, it takes practice.  I don’t think the rising generation has understood what it takes to conquer a skill.  With all that is at our fingertips in modern times, persistence is soon forgotten as one of life’s greatest lessons.  I forget that lesson myself sometimes until I have to push to finish a task. Nothing really comes that easy.
My daughter was watching the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the other day and one of the songs that isn’t played much from that whole musical score is called The Roses of Success.  The grandpa in the story is kidnapped mistakenly by the King of Bulgaria thinking he was the inventor of this famous car.  When he is thrown into the dungeon of the castle with the other inventors, they sing a song about how with every mistake made in creating something, you come a little closer to success.  From the ashes of disaster, come the roses of success. 
I need to play that song sublimely every night before I go to bed so I will remember when I wake up. From the ashes of disaster come the roses of success. It is difficult sometimes to be self motivated but with persistence, success will finally come. So to all those teachers and students starting out a new year of learning, persistence is the key to success. Don’t give up so easily at learning when you don’t get it the first, second or even the third time.  Remember Katherine Stockett took 60 times to get it right.

Monday, June 27, 2011

In My America: Celebrating the Fourth

Valerie J. Steimle

Monday is our Independence Day and what a great celebration of freedom it is.  We are reminded of our country’s history and what we need to do as its citizens to keep our freedoms strong. In my America, we are responsible for the welfare of good citizenship.

In my America, our constitutional republic is the fabric for our moral strength.  Our core values are important for the success of our country as these values are very vulnerable to attack from radical factions that seek to destroy and redefine our society. We have respect for human life and allow all children the chance to live in a free world with both parents at the head of the home and support them as such. 

In my America, the Justice Department and court system stands for honesty and integrity.  All judges of the court would act in accordance with a good social and moral foundation in not only upholding the law but judging what laws are unjust in sustaining our freedoms and understanding the true meaning of the Constitution.

In my America, we are free to act for ourselves in what we eat, drink, where we live and vacation.  We can write or tell of our opinion and not be fearful of retaliation. We are fairly taxed to support a minimal government and are allowed to vote our discontent when we feel the need to make improvements.

In my America, all citizens can own their own businesses and be blessed by the economic success of free enterprise. We can hire who we want, when we want and no undo tax or unnecessary regulation would hinder the continuing force of private enterprise.  Our country’s economy would be strong to overcome any economic strife from other countries.

In my America, we can drill for oil in any part of our United States and become self-sufficient in supplying our own energy sources without out government regulation.  We would provide our own workers to drill, refine, and deliver fuel to all Americans at a reasonable rate and not price gouge its citizens.
In my America, we would celebrate the return home of all military troupes and allow them the opportunity to continue their livelihood with full support of medical treatment.  All military personnel are our heroes and would be treated as such.

In my America, we don’t support our enemies by financing them or handing over arms or property. We would keep a strong hold on our defenses and refuse to let the sovereign will of the people be pushed aside by outrageous demands from an oversized government. We are treated fairly by law enforcement and our borders are protected from intruders.

In my America, we could trust our own leaders to make the right decisions for the best interest of the people in faithfully standing in defense of life, liberty and the family. Hang our national flag proudly this Fourth of July and remember what freedoms we are blessed with in this terrific country.

Monday, April 11, 2011

People Can Think For Themselves

Valerie J. Steimle

This past weekend I went to a conference about being prepared.  Not just physically prepared for natural disasters but emotionally prepared for what could be difficult times ahead. One of the speakers quoted the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (born 1881) who said: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  I found that quote to be very interesting.

Regardless of your religious background, the fact still remains that we, as humans are sentient beings who have the capacity to communicate love and give unto others. We have been given a brain to think and ponder our life and solve the challenges we face. We each have a certain amount of spirituality which helps us cope with our trials.

 The world (and those in power of the world) might try to convince us that we are to follow along as sheep to alluring whims presented in the media and not think for ourselves, but we can think for ourselves.  We can conclude to act according to the dictates of our own conscience without the government breathing down our necks.  We can make good choices for our own families by searching for the answers on our own and following through on our plan.

For example, we have all heard about the population control in China and Japan. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, these governments were under the impression that there were too many couples having children which they thought would be unsupportable in modern times.  What they are now learning as the new decade moves on is that because of their past practice of family control to one child per family, they are now short on people in their population to take care of the elderly and have enough women to marry all their men.

Those countries are now reaping the penalty of an unwise decision from long ago. News reports of a shortage of women and people in general have become very common from the East.  I have read reports of families who wanted more than one child and either had to leave the country to have them or went into hiding.  Those who were caught with more than one child were in grave danger of losing the extra child.

When given the chance, most human beings will ponder their challenges and make good choices to overcome their troubles.  The natural cycle of life can continue peaceably. But when forced upon by dictator governments into decisions we don’t want to make, we are forced to live beneath our own standard of living.

We naturally want the best we can work for in our own lives.  We don’t want the intrusion of governments telling us what to do and how to do it.  For the most part, we are self-thinking, resourceful people who believe that a life on earth is more important than preventing someone from being born.

So as spiritual beings, let’s take a minute each day to think about what is important in our life and follow through on those thoughts. It can mean the difference between a wise or a foolish decision.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thoughts from the Heart

Music has such a powerful affect on the soul.  I have been trying to listen to uplifting music along with read more scriptures on my own and I feel more at peace than I have in a long time.  My trials are still the same but I can handle what is thrown at me much better.  The music makes a big difference. I tried it at the office where I work every Friday and it makes a difference there too.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ” from Romans 1:16 has a powerful message.  As Christians we are to proclaim the gospel to those unbelievers in a meek and pleasing way. We shouldn’t annoy others if they do not listen but with gentleness, kindness and by good example, we should treat others as they would like to be treated.  Turn the other cheek when an enemy strikes.  Return a quiet answer when angry words are spoken. These are difficult tasks sometimes; especially if we are overly tired, already angry or annoyed by another person.

I read a quote the other day that said we should leave the earth a better place than how we found it.  If only everyone felt this way.  Wake up every morning so that Lucifer will think: oh no, she’s awake.  It’s a great life……

Monday, January 31, 2011

Defending Ourselves Against Rumored Falsehoods

Valerie J. Steimle

After hearing so much venom hurled last week between Sarah Palin and the media about the Tuscan shootings, I am convinced there is no winning in defending yourself against any falsehoods. I know that Sarah Palin isn’t afraid to shoot back what is hurled at her, but does it really help her cause? Some political commentators have asked this question. The fact that Ms. Palin was responsible for the shootings of those people stressed in the media was ridiculous and we all know it. It’s just a difficult situation to sit back and let others lie about our true intentions. It is a tough act to be thick skinned. Visions of Dan Quayle dance in my head.

I have also been the center of much venom hurled at me unsuspectingly in my life time and I can tell you, sometimes it just doesn’t help to defend yourself. The more you try to explain the truth, the more others look at you through disapproving glasses. Unfortunately people tend to believe the trash about a person more than not. Although with Sarah Palin, all that is hurled at her from other sources seems to be strengthening her cause instead of making her weaker. That’s because we can sympathize knowing whatever ridiculous comment is said about her from a certain viewpoint, is false.

Throughout our lives, we hear gossip about others and tend to believe it. Why is that? A close friend is accused of being a lesbian by her jealous roommates and everyone around her believes the rumor. How can she defend herself? Another is falsely accused of moral infidelity and there is no convincing others of its falsehood. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. We feel our self-esteem falling deeper into a Grand Canyon hole and the false speakers feel better about themselves thinking they have convinced others we are bad people. It’s not pretty.

Sarah Palin has a lot going for her: she appeals to most voters who are sick and tired of watching their political leaders just lay down and accept a beating from the loudest of the minority. She is a common person with no royal bloodline, pedigree or Ivy League credentials. Sarah is intelligent, quick witted and stands up and defends herself well. She speaks for us all in the political arena and we won’t believe those ridiculously false accusations. It’s just not going to work.

I don’t know if the venom will ever stop being hurled at Ms. Palin, but I think she should be allowed to defend herself. Maybe picking her battles of what to hurl back may help but you can’t blame her for defending her true self. It is a sad day when a person gets ribbed for doing so.

So next time we hear of some vicious gossip whether about ourselves or other people, we might be wise in knowing that all that is said is false. Just don’t believe it or pass it on. You will be much better for it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Small Acts of Kindness: A Good Way to Start the New Year

Valerie J. Steimle

After a nice break from work and school in the last two weeks, we are returning to our real life. It’s back to business this week but it’s a new year and a new beginning. Of course we are patiently awaiting the Auburn/Oregon confrontation…..War eagle is heard loud and clear from our house. Other than that, we are finding ourselves facing another week of back to what is our normal operating procedure: get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, relax, eat dinner and go to bed. We might have a few bumps in the road we follow but this is basically the norm. I wonder what can put the zing back into our life after a month of preparation and partying?

Over the weekend, I have been reading interesting stories from a Christian magazine of what people have done to put that good feeling back into their life. What makes life exciting and how can we feel better about ourselves? The stories I read were simple in nature and warmed my heart because all that these people did was help someone else in need. It is amazing how when we think about others and act on that thought how much better we feel in our own life.

A good example of acting on a thought to help others is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In just a few short years, this foundation has helped thousands of people all over the world on every continent. From agriculture improvements for farmers in growing food to donating medicine in wiping out polio, setting up libraries and funding education in third world countries, they are the largest philanthropic organization in the world. It is truly amazing what they have done.

Of course we aren’t all in a position to do all of that. Our own community needs every day people to do small acts of kindness for neighbors and friends. How many times have you seen a need somewhere and followed up on it? It does leave a great feeling of acceptance and warmth in our hearts. It’s actually the payback for helping other people.

So, whether you are a patriot and want to contribute to bettering the country (like me) or like to attend church to find service in the community or just know your neighbors, small acts of kindness is the way to go for a better year.