The end of an era.

 

The photo to the left marks the end of an era. It’s the last newspaper delivered to us since we’ve been married. For nearly 45 years we’ve been having the daily newspaper delivered but just as we did away with the house phone and switched to cell phones only, we’re giving up the paper “paper” and going all digital instead.

It’s taken some thought.

It may not seem like a really big deal to the younger generation, but it’s really taken some thought on our part. The paper has started my day for all of my married life accompanied by a hot cup of tea, a tall glass of OJ, or a bowl of oatmeal. As a busy mom raising kids, the morning paper was often read in the afternoon or evening. But in retirement, it’s been an enjoyable ritual I looked forward to each morning.

Interestingly enough, I began to notice something.

For about two years, however, I’ve noticed much of the day’s news was actually a bit old. My iPad newsfeeds keep me much more up-to-date than any paper possibly could. And except for a few local tidbits, I found I had already read many of the articles.

But what about the comics or advertisements and coupons? I’ve never been a comic-reading person and while I have to admit I’m a little concerned about missing out on coupons, I tend to subscribe electronically to specific stores that take great joy in keeping me alert to sales and coupons via emails and text messages.

The Ritual Will be Missed

I do still think it’s going to take time to let go of the daily ritual. For instance, I’m writing this on Sunday which is, of course, the day when the biggest edition of the paper is delivered. So, there was no lingering at the table this morning as in Sundays past. Instead I flicked through pages, still finding mostly “old” news, and finished up in record time.

Things Will Change

First noticed is that I tend to read through the paper in about half the time. Secondly, Greg said “We’re going to have to switch to a smaller recycling can.” And thirdly, when working on a project today that required a layer of newspaper for protection from the strong glue I was using, I realized the lack of newspapers would require a different protection strategy in the future.

Way back when…

Giving up the newspaper has also brought back some childhood memories. Newspapers were often used as school book covers until it became much cooler to use brown paper bags. Every October they collected the insides of our pumpkins as we carved them for Halloween. They were used as stuffing in our boots to help them keep their shape while drying out after a fun afternoon playing in the snow. And who can forget the many paper mache projects where newspaper was a main ingredient.

Time marches on.

But time definitely marches on and we learn to adapt to change. Only time will tell if this transition ends up being as easy as it was to give up the home phone. My hunch is that it will. So, tell me, have you given up your paper “paper” yet?

Mimi

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Life is like a puzzle sometimes.

Happy Monday!

This week, instead of taking care of my to-do list I spent countless hours finishing a beautiful 1000-piece puzzle. It was like I was obsessed. And it was definitely challenging! At the end, I had about 6 pieces left that had nowhere to go. They just didn’t fit in the spaces available. And that meant only one thing.

Yup, I had some of the wrong pieces in the wrong places.

It took about 10 more minutes to find the ones I had inserted incorrectly and replace them with the proper pieces. But once I did that, voila! The puzzle was completed. And as you can see from the photo, it really is pretty.

But my actions were insane!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I was actually doing just what the above saying talks about. For 15 minutes. I kept trying the same pieces in the same spaces wondering why they wouldn’t fit. I’d remove them, look at them, then try to insert them once again, only to fail. It wasn’t until I decided to stop what I was doing, reevaluate, and try something different that I realized there was nothing wrong with those pieces—nothing at all. The problem was with me: I had incorrectly placed many six of them.

Once I figured out the problem and corrected my mistakes, the pieces easily went in and the puzzle was finished.

Maybe life is a little like that, too.

How many times have I found myself beating my head against a wall (figuratively of course) over something only to discover I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy if I had simply been willing to step back to gain a new perspective. With me the issue is that I can get stubborn and want to finish what I started, thinking I just need to work harder or concentrate more. When all along it might be as simple as realizing I’m doing it the wrong way and need to change my course of action.

Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15 NLT)

Here’s to being intelligent and ready to learn as the proverb says. And to being less stubborn while keeping my ears open to God’s direction.

What about you? Ever find yourself in a similar situation?

Mimi

Are you kidding me?

 

Recently, I found myself in the mood to be creative and artsy crafty. Since it’s not my general nature to be this way, when inspiration hits, I like to jump on it. I looked at a few Pinterest ideas and came up with making my dad a spring wreath for his door.

Time to gather the supplies.

Since I already had a grapevine wreath, I stopped at Dollar Tree to pick up a few flower sprigs. While there I came across a cute metal welcome sign and brought that home as well. Next up was some burlap “ribbon” that a friend kindly got me while she was at Walmart.

First up was finding a YouTube video showing me how to make a great bow. Found and watched one a few times and I have to say—the bow looks great! With glue gun in hand I got to work on the rest of the project and in no time at all I had this very pretty, very affordable spring wreath.

Let’s do it again.

After hanging the wreath on Dad’s door and seeing how nice it looked, I decided to make another for myself. I still had the flowers so just picked up one more welcome sign, another roll of wired burlap, and an additional grapevine wreath.

With Alexa playing some great soothing music, I got to work assembling everything. With the leftover burlap from the first roll, I created my second absolutely wonderful bow. I trimmed up the flowers, made sure the welcome sign was clean, and got to work. The first step was to wrap the burlap ribbon around the wreath. But there was one big problem: WHERE WAS THE BURLAP?

The hunt began.

Figuring I must have left it in the car, I checked there first. Then my purse (which is silly because I carry a rather small purse). Then in the office. I looked in the three bedrooms, on the floor, back to my car, over to Greg’s car, throughout the kitchen and dining room. I then checked the tables and under the tables. I went through old, used Walmart bags. All the closets were torn apart. Back to the car for a third time. And I went through the huge garage trash can as well as all the smaller ones in the house. Then a call to the neighbor asking if I brought it to her house for some reason. (Hey, I was getting desperate.) I actually threw in a few prayers along the way, but that roll of burlap could not be found.

What to do?

My quick repeat project was quickly becoming a pain in the neck but I refused to get upset and just figured I’d hop in the car and return to Walmart to purchase another roll of burlap. But at this point I was in no hurry as I had lost my original enthusiasm, so I decided to let everything sit and I would get back to the project tomorrow.

New Perspective

Do you every notice how walking away from a problem often brings new perspective? When the kids were growing up and having a hard time memorizing their monthly Bible verses, I would often have them read through them at night, then simply go to sleep. Somehow, that restorative sleep coupled with getting their minds off the situation, did wonders. Often, by the next morning they were able to recite the verses without a hitch.

Having learned that with them, I try to do the same thing. It’s not always easy because I’m one of those “let’s get it done” gals. Once I start a project, I really like to finish it. But in the case with the wreath, leaving it alone was the perfect answer.

Because once I stepped away from the project, and got my mind on other things, and once I stopped looking for the missing burlap and simply went about my day, I knew what would happen. And that it did. Without any effort at all, I just happened to look over at a small cabinet I have in the kitchen next to the table where I was crafting, and as you can see, the roll was there all along.

So yes, the title “Are you kidding me?” certainly applies. Something that was right in front of me the whole time finally came into view.

What’s the lesson?

For me the lesson is to simply slow down, to not be so intent on finishing something right now that I drive myself crazy in the process. And I share my recent crazy game of hide and seek with you should you find yourself in a similar situation in the future.

Mimi

Awkward…

So, let’s just get this out of the way up front. Today’s post is a little awkward because it involves something that we don’t often talk about. The word begins with “F” and rhymes with art.

I think you catch my drift. So why am I talking about it? Read on and you’ll see.

Back in November, my brother, his wife, Greg and I, and my dad enjoyed a 10-day Caribbean cruise together. We ate great food and even some not so great food. We enjoyed tours on the islands and there was plenty of time in the sun. We even took steel drum lessons which was not only fun but LOUD. Yes, the cruise was everything we anticipated it would be.

But there was that one awkward moment.

The ships are huge and the elevators often crowded so my philosophy is to take the stairs whenever possible. It gets you to your destination faster and the exercise helps offset the extraordinary number of calories consumed through the day.

Typically, you run into other people using the stairs but on one of my stair-climbing expeditions, it was just me and a lady coming down as I was going up. We acknowledged each other with the usual head nod but on this occasion, the lady also acknowledged me out loud. With…you guessed it…a fart.

I didn’t know what to do.

Had I been with my family or in church, I might have snickered or even burst out laughing. But this was a stranger to me and in a flash all sorts of scenarios went through my head. First was the thought This is a completely natural thing; we all fart. And then I wondered if I was the one passing gas, would I have acknowledged it by apologizing or saying “oops?” I had no idea. I even thought about saying “oops” myself with a smile so she would know I wasn’t at all offended.

As it turns out, neither of us said or did anything. There was no acknowledgement, we just continued on our way. Thought, I have to admit I had quite a smile on my face as climbed the remaining stairs. Maybe because it was funny or maybe because I was glad it hadn’t been me.

Awkward moments happen all the time.

We encounter awkward situations all the time and like the one above we don’t always know how to respond. After asking a neighbor how they’re doing we might hear back “Well, I lost my job so not great.” Or “Life is rough now, my drug addicted 40-year old son just relapsed for the third time.” One time I asked the how-ya-doing question almost like saying hello and I was surprised when the person burst out crying instead of saying fine.

While times like that can be a bit awkward, they also open the door to real ministry. When a person bursts out crying right in front of you, it shows me their need for comfort, reassurance, or someone to care. Right then, right now.

And the same often holds true when the unexpected answer to your greeting reveals a lost job, marital infidelity, or a child with drug problems, etc.

What to do?

It can be difficult for people to reach out and ask for that help or to simply admit they’re experiencing a rough time. But if someone takes the time to respond to your simple greeting or if they come to you for help all on their own, please, please be ready to respond. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Be ready for the unexpected. If you ask how someone is doing, be prepared for anything. And respond appropriately. Sometimes all that’s needed is a kind word, some sincere reassurance, a hug. Proverbs 12:25 says “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
  2. Do something. Don’t just nod your head. In addition, offer something and be specific, be practical. I’m sorry you’re going through this. May I pray with you right now? I can see you’re overwhelmed; I’d like to ease the load and provide a meal. Or can I run that errand for you?
  3. Follow-up. Many will vaguely offer help but leave it at that. Or they might even help ONCE and then never check in. Be the one who stays connected, who shows you care long-term. Be the one who digs in for the long haul with the one needing help so they don’t feel alone.

Ministry isn’t always convenient or easy or a one-time deal. You often pay a cost such as an expenditure of time or money. But boy, is the payoff worth it!

Matthew 25:40 reminds us: (Jesus talking) “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’

Mimi

A little fun for this beautiful Monday.

Oops. I goofed. Just didn’t get anything ready to post this morning. But I’ve been saving some messages that have tickled my fancy at one point or another so I’ll share them with you.

Proverbs 17:22 tell us that “A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength.” Sometimes your heart is naturally happy. And sometimes you just have to happy it up.

Either way…enjoy…and let me know if you have any funny sayings that are sure to brighten someone’s day.

         

Biscuits from God

Another goodie shared by a friend.

The Story

One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, “Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going.

The deacon continued. “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was totally perplexed.

The deacon continued, “Lord, I ain’t too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.”

Let’s Pray

Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don’t like, whenever we don’t understand what You are doing…that we need to wait and see what You are making. After you get through mixing and baking, it’ll probably be something even better than biscuits! Amen.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.–Romans 8:28.

Mimi

A Blue Rose

 

 

A friend recently shared this with me. It’s a great reminder to be on the lookout for opportunities to show kindness, be a blessing, or share God’s love with others.

The Story

Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and bleach. So, off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.””

Hey Buddy, what’s your name?

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, “Hey Buddy, what’s your name?”

“My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded proudly.

“Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve.”

“Steve, like Stevarino?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “How old are you Denny?”

“How old am I now, Mommy?” he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.

“You’re fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by.”

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone’s attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Answers from a dandelion.

Denny’s mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn’t even look at him, much less talk to him. I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God’s Garden; however, Blue Roses are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn’t stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they’ve missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, “Who are you?”

Without thinking I said, “Oh, I’m probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God’s garden.”

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, “God bless you!” and then I had tears in my eyes.

A small gesture makes a world of difference.

May I suggest, the next time you see a Blue Rose, don’t turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say hello. Why? Because, by the grace of God, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion…live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.

If this story blesses you today, please consider sharing it with others. People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Love to all,

Mimi