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Dress A Girl Around the World

I’m very excited this week to talk about a wonderful organization. There is much to tell so the post is about twice as long as usual. My hope is that by the time you finish reading, you’ll start thinking about getting involved yourself.

When I moved to a new community last September I came across a wonderful group of ladies who make dresses for little girls around the world. Through donations of material, time, and money, these ladies sew and send out brand new children’s dresses because “We dream of a world in which every girl has at least one new dress. We want girls to know that they are worthy of respect and that they are loved by God.” (http://www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com/)

Dress A Girl Around the World was established as a non-denominational organization in 2009 with a goal to bring dignity to women around the world. Since its start, Dress A Girl has delivered well over 300,000 dresses to 81 countries.

The Heritage Hills (Clermont, FL) group is a subgroup of Dressed in Hope located in Lake Nona (Orlando), Florida. It started organizing in 2015 under the direction of Linda Smith who wanted to “pay it forward” and she did! It is currently 60 members strong.

Some  make the dresses. Some make the little dolls that are tucked inside each dress pocket. There is even a fellow sewer from southern Florida that brings her dresses to Linda to be included in the shipments.

The ladies sew in their own homes but they come together to share their experiences. Through laughter and stories, every sweet dress is displayed and talked about. This show and tell time provides inspiration to continue on with this project.

Each dress is based on a pattern provided but the similarity ends there. With different fabrics, patterns, pocket placement, dolls, and embellishments, every little girl has their own unique creation. Dress a Girl Around the World believes every girl deserves a new dress so please visit their website (CLICK HERE) to see more photos of some very happy girls from around the world proudly wearing what may be their first new dress ever!

Twice a year a Bag N Tag event is organized to prepare the dresses for shipment. The usual tally from Dressed in Hope is around 200 dresses, made possible by the generous Heritage Hills community through donations of cash, fabric, and sewing notions. These donations keep Dressed in Hope going and as Dee states “We cannot thank everyone enough for thinking of us in this way.”

How Dress a Girl Around the World makes a difference (from their website):

By providing a new dress you may well be changing a young girl’s destiny.  We all know that a new dress makes us feel good, so imagine never having had one! A new dress tells each precious girl that God loves them, that someone else loves them enough to have made this dress especially for them. That makes a difference in how she feels about herself and can definitely change her destiny.

In addition, village pastors tell us that a girl wearing new dress presents an appearance that she is well cared for and may discourage would-be predators. Since we attach our Dress a Girl label on the outside of each dress, it sends an additional message that each girl is under the care of an organization, giving her added protection from those who would harm her, predators or traffickers.

The Invitation

You, too, can make a difference and are invited to get involved in any way you can.

Local people should contact Linda Smith at 407.656.0266 or Dee Kafka at 407.347.5085 for more info. And those from other areas can simply visit their website (CLICK HERE) for more info and to find out if there’s a local chapter in your area.

It’s been my pleasure to talk about this wonderful organization this week.

Like me, you may not be able to sew but perhaps you have materials or notions in a drawer, maybe you want to shop for some for someone else to sew, maybe you want to work at a bag and tag event, or maybe you want to donate money. All donations would be appreciated by a local Dress A Girl chapter or if none in your area there are ways to donate through their website.

Another great way to be involved is simply to share this on social media. I just bet there are others out there like myself who will want to become involved after learning about Dress A Girl and with your help we can spread the word.

A big shout-out to Deanna Kafka, one of the many Heritage Hills ladies who sews, for providing much of the info contained in this week’s post.

Mimi

May I never grow too old…

Pretty silly picture, huh?

It was taken last week when the family gathered for Callan’s school concert. While waiting for the kids to take their places on stage, Konnor and I had a little fun. Though unsure of what other 8-year-olds think when you get the camera out, to Konnor a camera at the ready definitely indicates silly faces. So, of course, I join in. After all, I have to uphold my reputation as a fun grandma. Oh, may I never grow too old to enjoy making silly faces with my grandkids.

The second picture is our little guy who was performing that night. I love five-year-olds on stage cuz you never know what you’ll get. Callan was fairly attentive to the director and didn’t do too much fooling around. He sang his heart out and seemed to enjoy himself.

The girl next to him was a hoot. She was fully committed down to exaggerated facial expressions and singing with great gusto. And the youngster on the front row was in his own world entirely, outperforming just about every other singer.

Can you remember back to when you were young and required to participate in school concerts? Were you more like Callan, doing what was told and blending in. or were you more like one of the others mentioned who were content to be in the spotlight?

I imagine our personalities at a young age are actually be predictive of our adult years. I’m a bit like the little girl next to Callan singing with her whole heart but still on task and keeping her eyes on the director. As an adult I don’t mind being in a leadership position or even in being visible by others. Sometimes I thrive on it. But I’m not a risk taker and I definitely appreciate great leadership and having my boundaries defined.

Now my grandson Konnor pictured above is a little more like the third child, sometimes playing to the crowd, often marching to his own drummer, and definitely not afraid to be different. And can I tell you a secret? I’ve always admired people like that.

Thankfully the Lord created each of us with unique interests, skill-sets, and innate talents. They are useful in our wonderful world and they are useful and necessary for the Body of Christ. Here are some excerpts from 1 Corinthians 12 (New Living Translation); please read the entire chapter for a more complete picture of this.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ…God has put each part just where he wants it…some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. All of you together are Christ’s body and each of you is a part of it.”

This is actually pretty powerful stuff. Verse 27 again: All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

I want that for my life. I want to trust that the way God made me is for a purpose and that as I use my gifts and abilities our God is glorified and pleased. And His purposes are multiplied.

Let’s today determine to be thankful for the way God made each one of us and be grateful for our talents and abilities. And let’s be determined to use them to bring glory to God. And while we’re at it, let’s be appreciative of the way God made others, realizing how important each one of us is in completing God’s purposes here on earth.

Mimi

Callan Turns 6

This week it’s my delight to talk about my sweet grandson, Callan, who just turned 6 a few days ago.

This little fellow has brought joy since he was born. He’s just so amiable. So sweet. So happy.

Case in point. I offered to make him cupcakes for his birthday party. He chose the flavors and then we talked about the decorations. At first he mentioned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I said that sounds difficult, I’m not sure I can do that. He replied OK. Then he made another suggestion and I stated that also sounded a bit difficult. He came up with a third option for me which I also felt too hard to do. And at that point, still happy, he said, “Just do what you want Mimi.” And he meant it. He would be content no matter what I designed.

As most of you know, I watched the boys one day a week from the time they were born until they went to school. What a delight! One of the things that fascinated me was how they each saw the world. Konnor began talking early and had no problem sharing his observations about…well, about everything. Callan, on the other hand, was on the quiet side, like his PopPop. Content to let others do the talking while he listened and observed. Oh, he talked, but lengthy conversations were not his thing.

This went on for a while and I grew to enjoy our time together even without long conversations. Then one day, he just started talking…and talking…and talking. And singing, too. Loudly. Car rides became noisy and entertaining. The house seemed to be filled with twice as much activity and fun. His enthusiasm was contagious as it continues to be today.

Callan seems to find great delight in life and wants to share that with the world. And I think the world needs more people like Callan. Enough with the Debby Downers and Sour Susans. Give me a parcel full of Happy Callans and life will be very good indeed.

One of Callan’s big thrills this year (the biggest being getting an X-Box from Santa) has been in learning. He seems to really enjoy discovering new things and takes great pride in his academic accomplishments. Often, for fun, he just gets out a math workbook and completes page after page. (Yup, I said he does math for fun!)

His sense of humor is also expanding. When I ask occasionally about his homework, he states “Mimi, I’m in Kindergarten; I don’t have homework.” Then he rolls his eyes as if to say “Gee Mimi, you should know that.”

It’s also fun to watch him work the controls of that coveted X-Box. It doesn’t seem that long ago when he was content to push buttons and pull levers that had nothing to do with the on-screen action. Now, he’s like all the other big kids. Without needing instruction, he pushes and pulls, breezes through menus and just figures things out for himself.

Like his cousin Addie, he’s growing up. Much too fast. But I’m trying hard not to rush things and to just enjoy him for today. It’s easy to find myself wondering about his future endeavors but for now, this Mimi is content watching T-ball games, seeing him play in the rain with his brother, enjoying his interactions with his cousins (my sweet granddaughters). In short, I’m completely happy just watching him as he grows up. And I’m completely blessed.

My friend Karen recently posted a picture of her blessing wall…a wall with photos of her grandkids. Isn’t that perfect! My grandkids are my blessings as well. And I thank the Lord daily for the joy they bring to my life.

Happy 6th birthday, dear Callan. I love you…to Heaven and back!

Mimi

Kindergarten Here I Come

Just look at this sweet patoot. Turning 6 in September, Addie is going to be entering Kindergarten this year. And by the look of her expression, she’s as excited as can be.

For this Mimi, it is hard indeed to believe how quickly time has passed since her birth. Our elders are always telling us to appreciate each day because time flies by…but they say it because that’s exactly what happens!

I remember holding that sweet, tiny one dressed head-to-toe in pink. She was a delicate gift of promise and possibility; a blessing from God.

What kind of personality would she have? Who would she look like? Would she be tall? Would she be a dancer? Would she play sports? Would she be a Daddy’s girl? Would she be fiercely independent?

You find yourself asking endless questions as you look at that bundle of love in your arms, not having any idea of what is to come.

And then she grows and you begin to see hints of just who this little one is going to be. Each day becomes a joy and adventure as you watch this precious young girl learn about the world and develop her individual personality. And since I don’t get to see her often enough, it seems as if each time I do see my eldest granddaughter, there’s something new to discover about her.

Addie is not only a beautiful little girl she is smart, sensitive, deliberate, and thoughtful.

As big sister to Zoe, Addie gladly shares all she knows about the world such as the correct way to do things, or at least the Addison-way to do things. (wink-wink) She loves Zoe deeply and can be so tender with her it can bring a tear to this Mimi’s eye.

Addie also feels things deeply which is such a wonderful trait. She was nearly 5 when her Gigi (great grandmother) passed away last year and it made her very sad for a period of time. It hurt us to know how sad she was but we also knew that it was a clear demonstration of just how much she had loved my mom. As she experiences life, Addie will no doubt encounter more sadness and disappointment but her joys…oh they will be exquisite! She will love well, experience great delight, and truly and thoroughly enjoy and appreciate life all the more.

I mentioned that Addie is smart but even more important than that is that she enjoys learning and the thrill of discovery. And those traits will open the world to her. That excites me tremendously.

So I look at this picture of her and see pride that she’s such a big girl, big enough to go to Kindergarten; I see joy as she’s about to embark on a new journey. But most of all, I see the face of someone I love so very much that it makes me cry out in thanksgiving to my heavenly Father that He is so good and so kind to have brought Addie into our lives.

Mimi

Beauty for Ashes

03-06-17-gardena 03-06-17-gardenbAs many of you know, we made a move in September from south Orlando where we had lived since 1999 to hilly, beautiful Clermont, about 40 minutes northwest.

Despite all my concerns about moving to a new area after our rather tumultuous 2016 and leaving behind the comfort of nearby friends, family, and familiar shopping and restaurants, it was the right thing to do and we love living here.

We ended up purchasing a new house in an active adult community where lots of building was still going on. In this community you don’t really have to do any outside yard work. Shrubs are planted when the house is built and those shrubs and lawn are taken care of by the association. Sounds good, right? Except for one thing: it’s very sterile.

While a few houses have some azalea’s installed during the building process, most just have boring, green shrubs. And if you decide to change it up, the gardens then become your responsibility. The desire to have a beautiful environment won out and hubby has gotten to work.

But it’s not just the fun of choosing plants and enjoying the gorgeous results, all the prep work must be done: removing sod, digging up gardens, redesigning the irrigation system, laying heavy landscape bricks, toting plants from the nursery, digging holes, lugging mulch, laying mulch, then the daily care of watering and fertilizing until everything takes root, as well as the ongoing care since all this meant you were giving up having the association provide future care. But the results are so worth it. And for our gardens, I have my wonderful husband to thank.

He has prepped three garden areas in the back and just this week we got one planted. So two to go, then mulch over everything but it looks so nice and he’s worked so hard I just wanted to publically share what he’s done to date and to say a big THANK YOU to my sweetheart.

Our lives so often reflect gardens. Sometimes they are in disarray where weeds of worry, troubled times, and sin have overtaken. Even if some hidden gem is still there, it can’t be seen because life has gotten rough and crowded out the prior beauty.

The answer? Restoration is possible and the beauty of your life will once again be displayed.

If sin is the culprit, then Jesus has done the hardest work of all and paid the price for that sin and our job becomes to confess and repent. “Now repent of your sings and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19).

If it’s worry, then we trust in God’s promises and do what I Peter 5:7 instructs: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

And when life is just plain hard, we remember Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.”

So let us not be despair of the work that may be required to allow the beauty to shine once again. Just as my yard went from stark to splendid, as the beauty in our lives is uncovered, it all reflects back on God and allows Him to be glorified in us (Isaiah 61:3).

Beauty for Ashes by Robert Whitney Manzano

He gave me beauty for ashes
The oil of joy for mourning
The garment of praise
For the spirit of heaviness
That we might be trees of righteousness
The planting of the Lord
That He might be glorified

Love you. Mimi

Yummy Bread in a Bag

konnorbreadcallanbreadbread

How about a little fun today?

I recently came across a fun recipe idea from this website. Bread in a bag. What’s not to love about that!

Knowing we were going to be spending time with the grands last weekend, I brought along my yeast and the boys and I followed the recipe, ending up with all sorts of deliciousness.

If you look around on the bread-in-a bag website you will discover lots of other ideas to try, such as ice cream in a bag. (Can’t wait to try that one, too.)

Besides being fun, it was educational, too, because the boys measured their ingredients (basic math), learned how to level flour, got to enjoy all the squishing time of combining the ingredients, learned to knead bread (you can watch the video: Konnor learning to knead) if you want to see Konnor in action), got to operate the oven timer, and had to experience patience in waiting for the finished product. Of course, a happy by-product was being able to enjoy the wonderful aroma while the bread was in the oven.

The above project was so easy and quick to do. It took very few ingredients and the results were wonderful as we got to enjoy time together making AND eating the delicious homemade bread.

Sometimes I get caught up in trying to find the perfect gift or in discovering an over-the-top activity for the grands when in reality it’s doing simple, every day things with your them that demonstrates just how much you love and enjoy being with them. Baking bread, playing a game, making up stories, creating flashlight shadows on the ceiling. The ideas are limitless.

So check out the recipe above or create your own fun and be sure to let me know. We’ll share your ideas right here.

Mimi

Up Up and Away

12-05-2016-dad-planeMy father’s adventures continue. Since moving to Clermont, he has gone river tubing, visited an elephant sanctuary where he almost rode on top of one until lightening became a threat, and recently, in honor of Veteran’s Day, he got to take a ride in a WWII biplane. Hence the picture with goggles. Completely open air, Dad and a few others from his retirement community enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime. In addition to the 20-30 minute ride, each also received an autographed hat (by the pilot) thanking them for their service. (And if the Vet was a former pilot, then they were given the opportunity to actually fly the aircraft!)

I continue to watch my Dad try new things and enjoy great adventures. It brings joy to my heart and certainly puts a smile on my face. And he’s 90!

How many of us in our 50s, 60s, or 70s grow weary by day’s end or complain about aches and pains stating they keep us from certain activities? How many of us use our older age to say we can’t or we won’t? We work hard all our lives, finally earn our retirement and then what? Do we sit around wondering where time has gone and lamenting our bodies failing us? Do we rest on the notion that we’ve put in our time and now we get to rest and do nothing?

Shame on us. This is our Second Act. Now we actually have the time to try some fascinating adventures, learn new things, take up a hobby, visit people, volunteer somewhere, or travel.

My dad continues to be a great example. After his retirement at age 59, he took courses in tax prep and since that time has volunteered as an AARP tax preparer…every single year. Many times he would head up a region and put his leadership skills to work.

He continued to sing in the church choir for years, only relinquishing that role a few years ago.

And it was only last December when my mother became very, very sick that he resigned from the condo board where he served in many capacities since 1999.

Oh, and did I mention he was on the planning and zoning board for his town? In fact, until his accident in April, he had been voted in as President for the coming year.

So I’m thinking ahead to 2017. I’m going to set goals and dare to dream. No more self-limiting thoughts. Instead, I’ll take courage and think I can, I should, and I will. With my dad as my example, I’ll forge ahead, seeking to find where God wants me to be involved. I’ll look for opportunities to serve others. And I’ll continue to learn…crocheting and a new language are first to come to mind.

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” (Psalm 92:12-14 NLT)

Mimi