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Wash day sure has changed!

Taking advantage of the beautiful day here in ever-sunny central Florida, I gathered up a bunch of masks, washed them by hand, and laid them out to dry.

Back in the house finishing up a few more chores, the masks caught my eye through the glass door. Shaking my head, I sighed at how much life has changed for us this year. It wasn’t that long ago it would have seemed ridiculous to have a bunch of masks drying in the sun.

Laundry Day

Wash day is pretty simple with just two of us. And because we live a simple lifestyle, we generally have only two piles to contend with: clothes and bedding/towels.

But now we have a third pile: masks. And I’m not about to toss them in with everything else. Most have been created and sewn by friends and they hold great meaning to me. I just don’t want to chance anything happening to them if mixed in with the general laundry.

The effort began.

Today you can buy masks anywhere, but in those early pandemic days, paper masks quickly sold out and the internet was not yet playing tutorial after tutorial on how to make them yourself. So, people dusted off their sewing machines and started experimenting. They shared ideas and materials with others. They formed assembly lines. Many worked hours trying to make enough to supply to their family, friends, and neighbors. Most were not asking for anything in return except donations of more materials.

We collected bread twist ties to be used for the shapeable nose pieces. Any material you had in a back-room drawer was donated. And the hunt was on for elastic. All of a sudden there was no elastic so the needs were posted on Facebook as more donations poured in. In our community, people came together to ensure everyone had at least one mask. One neighbor put a table outside her house with a pile of masks stating they were free for residents.

Doctors’ offices were out of masks as well. I remember when a woman came in without one. She was one of three adults in her household, all with compromised health issues. And she was frantic to find one for each person. I don’t sew, but thinking about the mask I was wearing, I volunteered to get her three. Since she came weekly, I wrote down her name and told her they would be there when she had her next appointment. And they were. Not because of me, but because of the giving nature of my friend. Despite all the other people she was sewing masks for, she made three more for these strangers.

Soon after that, my friend and many others, became part of a large volunteer team from our church. Together they made thousands of masks for the community, including very special ones for every graduating high school senior.

They have meaning.

My masks are many and diverse at this point. I have a few from the insurance company and some that our county provided but all the others were sewn by someone I love. Every single one of them has meaning and is precious to me. They remind me of God and His protection both directly and indirectly through others. And they remind me that I am loved and cared for by friends…people who don’t have to love me, but who have chosen to love me. And who demonstrate that love in oh so many ways. Masks included.

Love, Mimi

Grandson Fun

How is your summer going? In Florida, we are quite hot and this past week the Saharan dust cloud finally reached us. The hazy sky apparently means beautiful sun rises but this grandma, rarely sees the sun coming up so I’ll have to trust the experts on that one.

For the past few years, we’ve held Mimi Camp each year. The two granddaughters will come for a week and on a different week the two grandsons will be here.

The weeks are busy with lots of activities, crafts, swimming, staying up late, playing games, baking cookies, riding bikes and scooters, playing backyard softball, etc. But the tradition had to be changed up a bit this year due to…well, you-know-what!

A few weeks ago, we held our first mini-camp when we went to visit the girls for several days during the work week. It was wonderful to spend that time with the girls as we hadn’t seen them since Christmas. And it also gave their parents some more focused time for work. Win-win. I hope to hold another mini-camp for them later this summer.

This past week it was the boys’ turn to spend a few nights with us. It was a little challenging this year because the pottery place isn’t open so that was off the table. And our community pool was also not available to anyone other than residents. But in Clermont, we have a treasure in our beautiful lakefront.

So, two of the three days were spent there swimming in the red water. No kidding. It’s actually quite red from the tannins released by the surround cypress trees. Doesn’t hurt the swimmer and it’s very cool to look at. Plus, it’s nicely warm which this Mimi prefers.

Our fun craft was making a patriotic flag out of paint stirrers. Each of the boys made their own…just in time for Independence Day.

The boys’ mini-camp will also be repeated in a month or so. Hopefully, this time, our pool will be available to them. But if not, Lake Minneola awaits.

When you have a minute, please comment and let me know what you’re this summer with your own grands.

Love, Mimi

This and that.

Just checking in to see what everyone is up to.

Staying in and away from others has presented limitations and challenges, but also has been a gift of time. Time to try or learn new things. Time for projects. Time to nap or read. Time to video chat, write letters, or enjoy a phone conversation.

This past week I finally finished scanning the last of my paper photos, after discovering one more pile of a hundred I hadn’t done previously. I also got out the alto recorder I purchased two years ago and added a daily reminder to practice (okay so I didn’t actually practice at all but every day I was reminded to!), I resolved two huge technical issues that took several hours each, spent some time with my dad, participated in a 7-day online writing challenge, and trimmed my own hair. Together, Greg and I finished yet another jigsaw puzzle.

Greg, of course, stayed just as busy with a day of golf, pressure washing, his usual house cleaning (he always does the vacuuming and mopping), interior window washing, and lots of reading.

But after weeks and weeks of nothing on the calendar, we are starting off this week with several things already penciled in. And that seems so exciting. Greg has more pressure washing for two of our neighbors, while I will be using Windex Outdoors to do the outside of the windows. No scrubbing required, just spraying and rinsing. Add to that helping a neighbor with a computer issue, a scheduled trip to Costco (yahoo), a dresser for our closet that will require being built, and a medical televisit—it’s all set to be a banner week.

I’m a to-do list person.

Been that way for years. But in retirement, it’s become even more important. I can waste time with the best of them. So, having my list of things to accomplish makes me more focused so I can tend to important issues. It also helps me feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. If I can remember to put something on a list, chances are it will get done. Without that list, however, there’s guarantee at all.

Not everyone will want to write a list or feel fulfilled by crossing off completed tasks. And many don’t keep a calendar. (How do they even function!?!?!)

Inevitably, each person figures out their own way to take care of things important to them. Just wondering how you stay organized and on task, especially during quarantine. Without work, school, or scheduled activities, it’s easy to forget what day it is or even what date it is. Things can slip through the cracks because without our normal activities, time is sort of meaningless. At least for me. If you don’t get something done today, no worries…there’s always tomorrow.

Let me know how you’ve been doing during our stay-at-home orders. Keeping a to-do list? Using your phone to set reminders? Enjoying a more relaxing day and going with the flow? Using our less structured time for self-care and rest?

Whether you have a week filled with action items or one that’s more restful and relaxing, remember that:

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through hi. (Colossians 3:17)

Enjoy your week.

Mimi

A Lesson in Trust

With extra time on my hands, I find myself turning to something that isn’t always enjoyable to do, but provides a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Something that makes me smile and actually feel less stressed.

What am I talking about?

Glad you asked: organizing. Or in my case, re-organizing. I admit it’s sometimes hard to get started but the end result is so worth it. Knowing me, you are aware that I tend to keep things relatively organized. Typically, once a year I go through the house, tossing, donating, rearranging, and relabeling.

I would love to buy all matching organizer containers but I’m typically happy using whatever is on hand. Hence the pictures of my drawers with all manner of containers. But don’t they look nice?

A treasure.

While going through my night table, I discovered just one Monthly Musings With Cindi, a family and friends newsletter I created and maintained for awhile in the 90s. I remember using these newsletters as a creative outlet as well as to share family news and often a little tidbit of a story to show God’s love.

What fun to read through this particular issue and the story I shared on trust. It seems fitting for what we’re experiencing so I’m sharing it with you today. Hope it brings hope and a reminder of how wonderful and trustworthy our God is.

From September 1995

The story takes place while hiking with the family along the Black River in New Jersey. Our lack of rain that year meant the water level was low and many of the rocks were exposed and dry. However, there were plenty of mossy, slippery ones you had to watch out for. Katie and Tim hopped from rock to rock with great agility. Even Greg made great headway with his long, steady stride. Meanwhile, the way for me was at times slow and tedious.

I was able to jump from rock to rock rather easily when they were dry and close together. But I really struggled when they were farther apart. I often simply stepped down into the water rather than trying to make a jump I knew I couldn’t complete.

At one point, Greg was a few steps in front of me. He had landed on a large four-foot rock that was just far enough away from where I was that I couldn’t follow him with the same ease. However, he turned back toward me and without even thinking about, and with my head looking down into the river to see what I needed to avoid, I reached out my hand and began stepping toward the big rock without ever looking up. In the process, Greg grabbed my outstretched hand to ensure my safety.

How here’s the real picture.

I had not been watching Greg to see if he was going to take my hand. I didn’t wait for a signal from him that it was safe to proceed. I went without thinking about all that and without any hesitation. Immediately upon landing on the rock, I realized what had just happened and was absolutely astounded. I had so completely trusted that Greg would be there to help me that I not only didn’t have to see it with my own eyes, I didn’t even have to consciously think about it.

Now that’s trust; and that’s just how God is with us. Without even having to be consciously aware of His presence, we can totally depend on Him in every single circumstance in our lives.

Lately, we’re all having the opportunity to lean on God more than ever and to learn more about trusting in Him. We can take these verses to heart:

Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go. (Joshua 1:9)

You, LORD, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you. (Isaiah 26:3 NCV)

My prayer:

May the God who is completely trustworthy hold you close. Even when you are not consciously aware of his presence, and when you don’t have answers to the many questions we all ponder, may his love surround you and bring you peace and joy.

Mimi

God knows your name.

Good Monday morning all,

I realized recently that every news or social media source I open, contains an abundance of info on one specific thing. It is everywhere. And while we definitely need up-to-date info, too much info can also be overwhelming. And can make our thoughts fertile ground for fear and concern.

So, I’m not going to say a thing about you-know-what. Today, I’m just going to share one thing that is absolutely precious: God knows your name.

Greg and I have the two grandboys with us this week. Each day we do some craft kits, play baseball in the backyard, ride bikes while they scooter nearby, work on puzzles, read, etc. And since it’s in the mid to upper 80’s, closing in on 90, the outdoor activities are done early in the morning or after supper.

Colorful Sand Dunes

This morning’s activity is a favorite over here…climbing our colorful sand dunes. These things are amazing. They look like boulders but are simply compacted sand. In shades of pink, orange, and purple, the kids have a blast romping from boulder to boulder. And while they act like gazelles as they easily hop around, it’s quite different for Greg and I. There’s no hopping for this Mimi; I’m just thoroughly grateful that I can slowly walk across the surface without sliding and getting a boo-boo.

While I took my time walking around and taking video of the boys, Greg found a sturdy stick and entertained himself in typical Greg fashion—artistically. Check out his creation where he was able to etch his name in that hard sand.

As soon as I saw it, I snapped a picture because it immediately reminded me of the Lord and of something I don’t ever want to forget. God knows my name. Which means God knows me. Almighty God KNOWS little me. Wow.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…(Isaiah 49:16)

Seeing Greg’s name etched in the sand reminded me of this amazing verse in Isaiah where God tells us we are engraved on His palms. Not with ink that can fade. Not with pencil that can be erased. But with a permanent reminder. My name is engraved on His hands forever!

I hope this will encourage you as much as it did me.

Have some time on your hands while you practice “social distancing?” Find a stick and some dirt, write your own name there, then stand back and look. Just look. And then ponder Isaiah 49:16. Soon your spirit will soar as you begin to marvel at our amazing God and how much He loves you.

Mimi

A penguin project to brighten your day.

Each year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my loved ones come to our house where we all enjoy our annual Family Fun Craft Day (FFCD).

It entails crafting, sharing a meal, whiffle baseball or soccer in the backyard, cornhole, and often times a swim in the community pool. Even Poppy, our family’s patriarch at age 93, joins in the fun and at day’s end we finish by decorating his apartment door in his nearby residence.

The crafts are up to me and since I’m not a crafty person by nature, it’s often a bit of trial and error. Ideas are gathered, supplies purchased, and a week or two prior to FFCD, Greg will assemble the men’s project while I tackle the ladies’—just to be sure we have everything we need and to figure out if the proposed crafts actually are doable.

This year for the men: Project Penguin

The men this year are making a light bulb penguin. I’ve seen these for years and it turns out they’re relatively easy to make. And if you know you’re going to be making them, just save your burned-out traditional light bulbs throughout the year and you can cross that item off the supply list. Pictures and instructions are below. Give them a try and be sure to let me know how they turn out. (You can attach a hanging cord to turn them into tree ornaments or skip the cord and make them in several sizes to display as a penguin family. The ones we made this year are rather traditional, but you can get creative with different hats or outfits. Have fun!)

And be sure to share your own family Christmas traditions in the comment section below.

Light Bulb Penguins

Brought to you courtesy of: 66 Craft Happy Summer on YouTube (https://youtu.be/7HrmbGBOEMA)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Light bulb
  • Wooden (or cardboard) heart for feet (a little bigger than 1” square)
  • Red pom-pom (1)
  • Googly eyes (2)
  • Orange triangle for nose (we made ours out of felt)
  • Glue gun/glue
  • Ribbon for scarf
  • Thinner ribbon for hanger (if using as hanging ornament)
  • Paint: white, black, orange, red

Creating the Penguin:

  1. Paint feet orange and set aside.
  2. On light bulb, outline the front face/belly and paint white. Two coats.
  3. Paint the rest black. Two coats.
  4. Glue light bulb onto the feet.
  5. Paint the top socket red for hat. While drying, glue on two googly eyes.
  6. Glue on a triangular piece of orange felt for nose.
  7. Add ribbon around neck for scarf and glue into place. (One drop will do.)
  8. Glue red pom-pom on top for hat topper. If making into a tree ornament, first glue on thin ribbon for hanging. Then add the pom-pom.

Great results or better luck next time?

How did your penguin turn out? Comment and include a picture. Would love to see what you came up with. Our son-in-law Chris got creative and made a University of Florida penguin. Check out his right hand. Very cute.

Mimi

Working Together for God’s Glory

I love this graphic. And it’s so true, isn’t it!

Back in the day, when the kids were young, whenever new friends would come to dinner the first time, we had a go-to meal. It never failed, was delicious, and looked a little bit fancy: Sweet and Sour Pork.

Early in the day I would prep by cutting up the pork, dicing the onions and peppers, getting the pineapple and other ingredients ready, and making the blueberry muffins I served with the meal. Of course, all the prep meant I also did lots of cleaning up as I went along, not to mention the straightening of the house and cleaning of the guest bathroom for our visitors. By 5pm, everything would be ready (and I sometimes exhausted!).

Just before 6 I would fry the pork, clean out the wok and get it ready for the final step: tossing everything together, heating it through, and thickening the sauce. Then at 6, as the guests arrived, Greg would step in to toss together those few remaining ingredients. With a few final tosses and about 5 minutes of heating time, dinner was ready. But instead of it being obvious that I had done the lion’s share of the work, to the guests, it was all Greg. He got the glory. (Did I mind? Not really. And over the years it became an inside joke to us to see how we fooled our friends.)

Has this ever happened to you?

Maybe it was a work project that you toiled months on, only to have your boss present it to your clients and take the credit for a job well done. Or perhaps it was a church bazaar that you gave countless hours to and then watched from the sidelines as shoppers complimented the pastor.

It can be hard to give so much to something and not receive the credit deserved. Yet, that’s exactly what should be happening in the body of Christ. We should work together so well, without concern for who gets noticed or thanked, that a newly saved life, a well-run life group, or a wonderful church service all point to God and God alone.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Let’s Pray

Father, may I use the gifts you’ve entrusted to me in purity—for your Kingdom Work and for your Glory alone.

Mimi

Small irritations can lead to big issues.

I’m a walker. It’s my preferred form of exercise. And I try to do it each day for 30-40 minutes. My pace is about 3 mph so I’m not really pushing myself but I sort of enjoy it and know it’s good for me. Therefore, I do it.

But of my two pair of walking shoes, one of them really gives me issues. In the form of teeny, tiny pebbles. I have no idea where they come from. Perhaps my insoles are breaking down and as pieces rub off, they eventually rise to the surface where I feel them.

Though I try to keep walking when I become aware of them, ignoring the discomfort and annoyance, most days I end up sitting on a curb, removing my shoe, and dumping the contents. Of course, as I’m walking it feels like a boulder is in my shoe. Yet it always, always turns out to be a barely seeable piece of sand or other debris.

It’s a BIG problem.

So, why can’t I simply ignore it and keep walking? Why can’t I put up with the annoyance and continue on my way? Because small as it is, it’s still a problem. And to the sole of my foot it seems to be a BIG problem.

I’ve been dealing with this for over a year. And it wasn’t until the other day that the spiritual application finally hit me. (Do I hear a big duh here that it’s taken so long?)

Simply put, little annoyances that aren’t addressed do not always go away. Better to take care of them before they grow into big problems with big repercussions.

The Bible has much to say.

The Bible is very clear about the effect of little things, both positive and negative. James 3:3-4:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. So here we see that something as small as a bit in a horse’s mouth or a huge ship’s small rudder can easily change the direction of each. And that can be very positive.

But the opposite is also true. James 3:5-6 shows some of the dire consequences that can occur because of small things:

A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that the ability of something small to accomplish something great is not to be missed. And it works both in a positive way and a negative way.

Back to the pebble in my shoe. Teeny pebble=big annoyance. Enough so that I have to stop every time and empty out the shoe. Teeny pebble=big life lesson and a reminder from God (as outlined above).

For me the point is that it is often easier to notice and take action on the big things that happen in our lives. But we should never lose sight of the little things. They can be every bit as important. The Holy Spirit can speak to you in a dream to pray for someone but that same Holy Spirit may simply nudge you to do an act of kindness for a neighbor.

I usually take note of the big things happening but can fail to notice the every day “little” things going on around me. I want to change that. I want to be vigilant. Sometimes those little things will be warning me about big dangers or changes ahead. Sometimes they are whispers of reassurance. And I need them all.

How about you?

Have any of you had to learn this same lesson about taking note of the little things? If so, please share. I’ve love to know more.

Mimi

Let me get this straight. It’s August but I can’t buy shorts. In Florida.

Hubby and I took a trip today to his favorite store the other day, Steinmart. He needed some new shorts. The weather forecast called for a high in the 90s with crazy humidity, and a super high heat index. Seems to me, it was the perfect day to buy shorts.

But no…

Upon arriving in the store, we split up, Greg to the men’s section and me to the ladies. I thought getting some new shorts was a great idea, too, so off I went. But where were they?

I turned this way and that, trying aisle after aisle, display after display. No shorts. Hmmm. What I did find were heavy sweaters, tons of longs pants, long sleeved shirts and dresses. Hats and scarves and hefty jackets galore, not to mention boots and closed-toe shoes as well.

I finally found a salesperson to ask and was quite surprised when she said, perhaps with just a bit of a head shake and attitude, “No shorts because we have the fall and winter clothing out now.” What? I simply couldn’t resist my follow-up comment “Because we need all of that clothing for our two weeks of fall, don’t we!” (Yup, I really did say that before walking away.)

What was I expecting?

Hard to believe, but this November marks our 20-year anniversary of moving to Florida. I really should have known better. If Hobby Lobby can put out their Halloween and Christmas items in July (oh yes, they did!), then of course Steinmart is allowed to think we have more than two seasons, put their shorts away, and load up on the bulky, cold weather items.

I also have to admit I really dislike clothes shopping so I rarely go. My clothes have to become really ragged before I’ll venture into the clothing department to try to spruce up my wardrobe. So, in my defense, I really didn’t know how much fall/winter clothing was and that it shows up in the stores in early August! And that explains why I truly was surprised that day when there were no shorts in the ladies’ department and very few in the men’s.

What happens when our expectations aren’t realized?

Thinking back on that recent shopping trip reminded me yet again about expectations. They can be so tantalizing: when you’re anticipating a special gift for Christmas, when you’re awaiting the birth of your first child, when going to your favorite restaurant and you’ve already planned what you’re eating weeks before you arrive. All carry an exhilarating expectation of what is to come and that makes the wait, however long, so thrilling.

But very often, our expectations aren’t realized. Something happens to change the outcome of what we were looking forward to. A sour stomach of dread now replaces the thrill of anticipation. Our hopes are dashed. Our disappointment intense.

Is there an answer to dealing with unrealized expectations?

Of course, there are answers and they have to do with trusting God with our lives. They have to do with believing His has good plans for us. And that God has everything under control.

The more mature we become in Christ, the more we’re able to deal with the disappointments in life. To understand that while those situations may catch us by surprise, God is never caught off guard by what happens or fails to happen.

Do we experience disappointment? Yes. Do we get hurt? Also…yes.

But what about hope? Can that remain? You betcha!

God is Trustworthy

God’s Word is full of reminders about keeping our eyes on God, trusting in His ways, and in waiting for Him to bring the right answer or resolution.

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18)

The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. (Proverbs 10:28)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

No matter our present circumstances. Whether we’re relishing in anticipation of an upcoming event or if we’re experiencing disappointment in an unexpected outcome, hold on to the One who holds all your tomorrows in His very capable hands.

Easy? Sometimes…but many times NOT. Rest knowing this: God is faithful to His beloved. He’s got your present and your future. No matter what you see or what you feel, He is completely trustworthy and He completely and fully loves you.

Love to all,

Mimi

A Thrilling Announcement

I am thrilled to share with you the publication of my aunt’s amazing memoir I Was More Than One. It is now available in print and eBook through Amazon and other booksellers. This memoir depicts her lifetime battle with mental illness and how it offered her the protection and safe haven needed to cope with unimaginably tragic and difficult circumstances she encountered throughout her life.

That mental illness, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), is known to most of us as Multiple Personality Disorder.

The idea of multiple personalities at work in someone’s life is so tough to understand, but in Irene’s life, it actually provided a way for her to survive. When my aunt was unable to cope with the despair of sexual abuse by family members and other people in her life who should have been trustworthy, her mind created 16 different personalities, each providing very specific tools to help her survive her tragic circumstances.

Irene Chose to Overcome

At any time, Irene could have played the victim card; instead she chose to be an overcomer.

Her book reads like fiction but is an accurate accounting of her life and her struggle. The reader will experience a whirlwind of emotions as they learn of Irene’s hopelessness when sexually abused as a young girl, her ruined dreams of a successful marriage, and of her despair that caused her to attempt suicide, despite having a young daughter to care for.

But I Was More Than One will not leave you in anguish. Instead your spirit will soar as Irene begins her journey to health and well-being. And when you realize that instead of giving up, she chooses to fight for wellness, you will share her victory as she overcomes her circumstances and is able to integrate those 16 personalities into one whole person.

Done and Done.

For the past year, I’ve counted it a privilege to work with Irene as she did final edits and worked with a publisher to make her dream, this book, come true. As if her battle with mental illness and understanding DID wasn’t enough, it became her goal to capture her journey through a memoir and to have that memoir published. Done and done.

I Was More Than One may not be offered in your local library, so please consider purchasing either the print version or eBook through this LINK. No doubt, you will find as I did, that my aunt’s journey and book offers hope and encouragement in two ways. First, it offers hope for triumph to the many others battling severe mental health disorders. And secondly, it offers encouragement to the rest of us who when struggling with our own issues may need a good dose of it to hang in, not give up, and look for victory at the end of the fight.

Mimi