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It’s just so exhausting…

First 5K

I love these before and after pics. So typical of life experiences. Nearly 7-year-old Callan ran his first ever 5K race in early March. The left picture shows a happy, excited kid about to embark on a race with his mom.

The right side picture shows him “exhausted” (with a smile on his face). Tired from running but filled with joy at his great accomplishment.

And though no medals were awarded that day, a big shout out to Amazon. You can order anything from there, including a very nice all metal 5K race medal. Something that made Callan very happy.

Sometimes life feels like an uphill race.

Our lives often feel like endless uphill races. We’re on a never-ending path that always seems to encounter hills and potholes. We’re just looking for a little respite of a level or downhill roadway, an opportunity to catch our breath and enjoy just a bit of rest from all our efforts.

Callan’s Mona Lisa smile in Picture 2 reminds me that tired as we may be, finishing the race and claiming the prize is always worth it: the sense of accomplishment, the reward of not giving up, receiving the medal or the proclamation of “Well done, faithful servant.”

Perseverance will be rewarded.

Some reminders when life is hard and we’re weary of running the race:

  1. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So, run that you may obtain it. (1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV)
  2. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:14 NLT)
  3. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

We each have our own race to run. And yes, some races are much more difficult than others. But may I leave you with encouragement today: you can do it! Know that God is with you; lean on your Christian brothers and sisters for added strength and support; if you tire…rest and start again.

Finishing the race.

And, at the end of our race, after collecting our prize, like Paul, we will be able to say “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the work I was to do. I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Mimi

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Look out!

A wonderful friend, faithful blog reader, and frequent blog commenter, recently shared some laughable pictures, suggesting I might be able to do something with them in an upcoming Mondays With Mimi post. And boy, was he right!

Out of all the pictures, this is the one I loved the most. Just look at this industrious fellow painting his walls. Concentrating as he “cuts in” neatly where the ceiling meets the wall; he’s ever so careful to create a straight line so the end result is just perfect. Taking his time. Being fastidious. Doing a job he and everyone will be proud of.

What could be wrong with that?

Well…everything, if he’s doing it like this!

I can so relate to his circumstance. Someone recently remarked that I’m like a hummingbird, flitting around doing this and that. I think that person is correct in a way. While I can certainly waste time with the best of them, when working, I make my list, going through it one by one, and so enjoy getting things accomplished and checking off each and every entry until I’m finished.

There’s a problem with that?

Oh yes, there can be big time problems with working like that. Often, in my hurry-up way to get things done, I’ll skip common sense (like the man above) to save time or effort. I’ll throw caution to the wind, or safety to the skies, and proceed. I’ve been known to climb on counters to clean a top kitchen cabinet shelf, use a long handled wooden spoon to coax something off that same tall shelf, tipping it over so it will fall (hopefully) right into my waiting hands. I’ve used rolling office chairs to reach something up high, climbed on a bed to better reach an area of cobwebs.

You catch my drift.

Rather than take the time to find the appropriate ladder in the garage (which would take all of one minute!!!), I just find whatever’s handy and get to work. But safety? Oh no, my friend. That’s a forgotten word.

So, while I laugh at the absurdity of the painter standing on an open door to reach the ceiling, I can still relate. It’s comical to see his silliness, but at the same time breath-holding knowing it could lead to injury.

Even our guidebook, the Bible, speaks directly to such foolishness in Proverbs 14:16. “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.”

Big gulp. Boy, that has me pegged.

Out of balance? Time to slow down.

How about you? Ever find yourself in a similar position? Taking short cuts, throwing caution to the wind, figuring it will all work out in the end? As one who often operates in the extreme of over-planning, I can lose out on the joy of spontaneity. So, I’m talking about balance here.

In the long run, some things have no eternal value, such as painting a wall, choosing a color for your new car, deciding where to vacation. But for the things that matter, such as relationships, my prayer (and goal) is to never lose the moment to the planning for the moment.

What do I mean?

If my life is over-planned and I’m unable to put those plans aside, then I might miss out on spontaneous moments of doing hair and makeup with my granddaughters or making finger shadows on the ceilings with my grandsons. I might miss getting together with a neighbor over (gasp) store-bought cookies thinking the visit won’t be the same if I can’t offer fresh-baked ones. And I could miss out on one-on-one time with the hubster if I’m unwilling to put down the laundry and just take a ride to nowhere with him.

You see what I’m saying?

There is not a thing wrong with planning. And in the case of the above painter, better planning would have been a great idea. But let’s not let our methodical planning ever get in the way of relationships. In the end, a completed to-do list is just that. But time spent with others can truly have eternal value.

Let me know what you think? Can you relate?

Mimi

So proud of my husband.

Look at my brave guy. It’s been about 28 years since Greg has tried a brussel sprout. Last time was when we had a Russian immigrant living with us for several months. Another church member who spoke fluent Russian was helping us communicate with Lydia, something we were so thankful for. He and his wife invited us to dinner where they served some typically Russian food.

First up was borscht. While Greg will loudly complain about it, it really wasn’t that bad. Just a different kind of soup. But following that, we were served the biggest bowl of brussel sprouts we had ever seen. There must have been hundreds in that bowl and yet there were only 5 adults at the table.

Wanting to be polite we ate those little cabbagy looking things. Eeww. Still sends shivers down my spine.

In any case, despite hearing from others that roasted brussel sprouts are quite delicious, neither Greg or I have eaten them since.

However, this weekend our precious daughter-in-law served them to us with dinner. I was determined to try and like them. And I did. But Greg was going to take a pass, remembering vividly the giant bowl of them from 28 years ago. But he girded himself with resolve and not only did he eat one…he ate all that were served! Way to go Greg.

Did he like them? No. Nope. Not at all. Will he eat them again? Don’t count on it. But at least he tried.

We often form conclusions about things without much knowledge. Like the brussel sprouts, it may be a new food we won’t try because it looks strange or has a funny name. It might be a social situation we pass up simply because we get anxious about meeting new people and wondering what we’ll talk about with them.

With our kids or grandkids, we urge them on as they try new things but as adults we often find the we give ourselves permission to sit back and not face some of these new challenges…mostly because of fear of the unknown.

And what a shame that is. We actually can end up on the losing end when we let caution rule supreme. Yes, we definitely need to use the wisdom of our years and good old common sense to help guide our choices. And caution can be a great partner in helping make those decisions but if we let it rule simply because we’d rather stay in our comfort zones, then we may end up missing out on a whole world of wonderfulness just waiting to be discovered.

So I hope I continue trying new things, stretching my wings, and making new discoveries. I hope I can set a good example for my kids and grandkids as I face new challenges. And you can be sure I’ll share the results with you.

How about you? Tried anything new lately? A food? An sport? A new genre of music? Please share; I’d love to hear all about it.

Mimi

It’s everything leading up to Christmas

Christmas for me is all about the preparations—what happens between the day after Thanksgiving right up until Christmas Day: putting up the tree, decorating the house inside and out, enjoying Christmas music while putting together Christmas puzzles, shopping online and opening each Amazon box to rediscover what I ordered, wrapping gifts for the grands, baking AND eating Christmas cookies, and getting to attend some local Christmas concerts.

This year, Greg got the tree up and did all the decorations while I baked and ordered gifts. We did a very challenging Ugly Sweater puzzle, and have been watching Hallmark Christmas movies for weeks. But the musical events have really been the highlight. Outstanding and definitely reminding us of the true meaning of this wonderful holiday we celebrate.

On November 30 we were able to attend the Gaither Homecoming Concert in Lakeland and can I just say WOW!!! We were uplifted from the moment the music started. It was all about Jesus and absolutely glorious…especially when Mark Lowery sang his beloved song “Mary Did You Know?”

I wasn’t sure anything could top that so I wasn’t expecting much last Monday when the hubster and I, along with my dad, attended a concert right here where we live. The musical guests were two groups from the local public high school. And from the very first song to the last, each one glorified the Lord and told the Christmas story. I kid you not. This was a public high school. Let me repeat, THIS WAS A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL!

These kids were full of life and smiles, enjoying every minute and often praising God while singing. I spoke with the director afterwards to express my appreciation and wonder at the songs, and he simply said “You can’t take Christ out of Christmas.” And boy, is he right!

At this point I’m completely filled with Christmas cheer and the wonder of my Lord, but there’s more. Greg and I were the blessed recipients of tickets for the First Baptist Church Orlando Christmas show last week. Two huge singing Christmas trees comprised of hundreds of singers and accompanied by an amazing 55-piece orchestra were the stars along with all sorts of other singers and animals. Did someone say “camel?” Yup, one of those, too. The event began with a stroll through Bethlehem Village complete with actors staying true to the biblical times, animals to pet, and pictures to be taken in the manger. The evening ended on a high note with the Hallelujah Chorus. What a fantastic evening.

So, the Christmas spirit has indeed taken hold in my heart this year. And I’m loving it. Hope, you, too, are able to find some events to attend. If not, you can always drive around to view the Christmas lights. Bring along a thermos of hot chocolate and some of those delightful Christmas cookies you’ve been baking and enjoy this very special time of year.

Yes, Christmas Day is wonderful, too. But the preparation time before hand is what gets to my heart much like the 9 months of pregnancy before childbirth. It’s all so very special as we anticipate the glory of what is to come.

Mimi

Prepping for Irma

When we moved to Florida in 1999, we were looking for an adventure. Had no idea at the time that one of those adventures would be experiencing hurricanes.

Quite honestly, I never thought central Florida was a hurricane prone area until 2004 when four roared through our area (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne) with devastating results for many. We lost two large trees, some screen house panels, and most of our fence but our neighbors lost roofs, entire screen houses, and their house interiors.

Tarps dotted the rooftops for months and the house next to us was destroyed and empty for over a year until it could be repaired. After Charley roared through we walked outside where it was eerily quiet. That’s when we discovered the oak trees lining the boulevard were down, one after the other. It was a poignant reminder of the power of a storm.

Having gone through those four, I planned for Irma. Or so I thought. Water…check.  Flashlights…check.  Clean laundry…check. Extra food…check. Freezers stuffed with extra ice…check. Bathtub filled…check. Cars gassed up and extra propane purchased…check.

Then yesterday as we got out the flashlights I realized I hadn’t purchased batteries. Stores were completely out of them. What to do?

I posted my need for D-batteries on our community Facebook page and within a few minutes someone called to offer me four of theirs. And things like that continue to occur not just for me but for others. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Then this morning, while looking through some pictures on my phone, I noticed something about my hurricane prep: it centered A LOT on food! One look at the above photo will show you what I mean. Three of the photos clearly involve food: the giant apple fritter for hurricane comfort food brought by a neighbor, Meyer lemons I picked from my tree so they wouldn’t get blown away in the winds, and then there’s Greg and I eating ice cream cones because when they power goes out they will melt, so it’s either eat them, or they go to waste.

Yet, while I was concentrating on food, my 6-year old grandson was out doing good: he was rescuing animals. Note his little toad in the box. At least one of us has their priorities straight! (Just a little Irma humor before the big event. But also, a reminder that we should never lose sight of what’s important.)

Losing a freezer of food is no big deal. My luscious lemons being tossed in the wind…who cares. But a little boy helping animals…now that’s the right thing to do. Just like my neighbor responding to my inquiring for batteries, helping others, looking for a need to fill, those are noble pursuits.

Irma’s finally going to make her way here tonight and if the predictions are correct, we’ll see 80-90 MPH gusts of wind and 8-12” of rain. That’s a lot for this area. Power will be knocked out and some people will need to go into survival mode.

At this point, we trust in God and are thankful for family, friends, and neighbors who are ready to pitch in.

Mimi

Before…After (God is Doing a New Thing)

My precious sister-in-law gave me a wonderful idea. Just look at the photo above. She took a used, empty can and transformed it into a vase sitting in her kitchen window. I loved the idea and that particular can so much that I actually purchased the same brand of crushed tomatoes just to have one so I could do the same. And today I did.

After making spaghetti sauce yesterday, I carefully removed the can’s lid, and thoroughly washed out the can, hoping to eliminate the tomato sauce as much as possible. Then it sat empty. And it looked pretty. Or maybe I should say it looked pretty good all by itself.

Today, I happened to do a little gardening and pulled out a small begonia plant that just wasn’t happy where I had planted it. I was on my way to tossing it out when I saw the can and voila! I was hit with the idea to use that can and try to nurse the begonia back to health. So that’s what I did.

And while the pink doesn’t necessary go with the color scheme of the tomato can, the can itself looks so much nicer now, doesn’t it!

Not only is my crushed tomato can pretty on its own, it’s now looking even better, and it’s serving a great purpose.

And right away, I could see our wonderful Father in Heaven using this as an illustration. He sees us as a vessel and we look pretty good. We serve some good purposes. But then He does a little cleaning and a little repurposing, puts us to work possibly in a whole new way, and just like that, we are re-beautified (my word), given a new assignment, and can radiantly portray God’s glory.

Job 8:7 reminds us “Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly.”  And Isaiah 43:19 states that we should “Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?”

Great reminders that God uses empty vessels willing to yield themselves to the Potter’s hands. He is never finished with us. He is always prepared to use us in new ways. And whether or not we feel insignificant like the empty can, our end will increase greatly. Hallelujah, thank you, Lord.

Yup, all that from an empty tomato can. I just love how the Lord talks to me…in clear, every day illustrations. How about you? How does God speak to you? Please share.

Mimi

Grandpa Love

Relationships are fascinating. While most people love their family members equally, at times some of those relationships seem to have a little something extra, something special. It’s hard to explain but precious to see.

Case in point my niece Jacquie and my dad, her grandpa. My dad has six grandkids and he loves them all deeply but there’s always been just a little something extra special with Jacquie. And recently it was so clearly demonstrated by the photo above.

As we prepared to fly home from New York, I was busy in the kitchen making sandwiches for both the lunch and dinner we would be having while flying back. Jacquie joined me in the prep but said she wanted to make the sandwich for her grandpa…a special sandwich. And she certainly did.

My dad loves liverwurst. And while it makes my skin crawl to think about eating it, I’ll happily make him a sandwich with it. But no, Jacquie wanted to do it herself. She wanted to make a special sandwich for her grandpa that would have one of his favorite ingredients on it. So, she did. And to top it off, she labeled the baggie with her pet name for him. And added the heart!

Looking at that photo means a lot to me and it meant a lot to him on our travel day. That labeled bag brings a smile and expresses love. She took the time, chose the right ingredient, made it on the bread he likes with the mayo he likes, and went the extra step to write his name and include the heart. Doesn’t that say love to you?

Such a simple thing really. It didn’t take a lot of time and cost nothing but it was a gift of love, a gift of great value because it came from her heart.

Jacquie’s gift to her Geepa is a great example for us to follow. Sometimes the smallest gesture can have this most impact.

Today’s challenge is to look around and see who you can bless, who you can share your love with. Doesn’t need to be showy or expensive or take a lot of time…just something that comes from your heart.

Mimi