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Missing Mom…still.

The holidays are always a time with family at the center. In many, if not most homes, it’s the family that gathers around a table laden with yummy food. It’s the family that spends the day together giving and receiving gifts to show how much we love each other.

So, when families are fractured or have missing members, instead of pure joy, often those gathering times are reminders those not there.

Like so many others…

Like so many others, I’m missing my own mother this Christmas season. She was a very special person who brought joy to so many, that her parting left a huge hole in the hearts of those who knew her.

My sister is gone, too. Much too soon. At age 63 and after celebrating her birthday on the Friday of Labor Day weekend in 2014 with friends and family gathered near, she passed away three days later, no longer able to fight the cancer that took her life.

So, I too, mourn these losses. And though most days the sorrow is no longer a constant nag, getting through the holiday season each year seems a tough journey.

But I rather like this Charlie Brown picture and caption. Though it’s not scriptural, it’s still a happy thought indeed to look up, see the millions of stars, and think they just might be our loved ones reminding us that all is well.

Mimi

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Is your perspective skewed?

I walk once or twice a day as it’s the only way to get in 4 miles of total walking distance. That’s because walking more than 2 or 2-1/2 miles at one time seems to be more than my body can manage at this point due to those pesky aches and pains.

I try to be productive with the time by listening to a podcast, my Bible Study Fellowship notes, or a medical mystery. Sometimes I pray my way through my walk, and sometimes I just look around and enjoy the beauty of where I live.

What I didn’t realize was that I often walk with my head down. I believe it’s because of the sun’s glare. Despite the protection of my visor, the only really effective way for me to avoid the sun’s harsh rays is to tilt my head toward my chest. And that creates an issue.

As you can see…

When walking with your head down, all you see is the road immediately in front of you (Pic 1). That’s okay for ensuring my feet are on level, unobstructed ground. But this position hinders me from seeing what’s ahead down the road and from preparing for a possible deviation in my path, should one become necessary.

Of course, to compensate, I peek down the road every few minutes to get the view ahead (Pic 2). Sometimes, I even see enough to anticipate a possible issue such as the truck parked in the third picture (Pic 3).

But the other day, despite the occasional glimpses that kept me informed of what was ahead, I still missed it. With my head down, I pumped my arms and forged ahead only to go “BUMP” and head straight into…this truck (Pic 4).

How did THAT get there?

The truck had every right to be there. And with my prior glances, I should have been prepared to avoid it. And I assume part of my brain must have registered it was in my path. But without constantly keeping my eyes focused on that all-important object, and with my head mostly aimed at the ground, I missed its nearness until it was too late.

This happens way too often.

With the resounding bump bringing me to an abrupt halt also came a resounding revelation that this happens way too often in our everyday lives.

Minding our own business, not keeping our eyes on the prize (our Lord), or in the busyness of life, we miss warning signs and plow right into trouble.

And that is not something I want to do!

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:12)

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live…(Deuteronomy 4:9)

Here’s to all of us becoming more vigilant in our daily lives. Purposeful in putting God first. Careful in where and how we walk out our Christian experience. And mindful of all God has done for us so that we do not forget His goodness and mercy.

Love to all.

Mimi

Let’s be Positive!

As a post-menopausal, past middle-age woman I really appreciate this little saying. And boy can I relate.

A closet full but nothing to wear.

Often a closet of a lady my age has a wide range of clothing sizes. The “hope to fit into again someday” clothes, the current size, and maybe even the slightly bigger ones “just in case.” While I admit there are some who through the years seem to stay the same size, I know of more women like myself who tend to fluctuate.

But still…

It’s because so many, like myself, can relate to the expressed thought in the pic, that we laugh. But let’s take to heart the last two lines, shall we? “But still. Let’s be positive here.”

Often, we can be positive and encouraging toward others, but we’re actually much harder on ourselves, aren’t we?

When we see those clothes that don’t fit, or that unfinished project, or realize we haven’t made that all-important phone call, we can easily move into self-condemnation. We lament not being able to stick to a diet or remember to make a phone call. We think If I was a better person, I would finish the things I start.

At times we do the same thing with others, especially those we care about. We want the best for our kids but end up disappointed when they make mistakes and wrong decisions.

Likewise, we want the best for our friends, but when we see one remain stagnant at work because fear keeps them from returning to school for more training or presenting their own ideas to their boss, frustration at their inability to embrace change creeps in.

But that, is looking only at the negative.

And I don’t want to be like that. I want instead to look for the positive in a person or situation. I want to think the best of them and be their greatest cheerleader. We all appreciate positive reinforcement so my desire is to be less disappointed and more motivated to encourage, to pray for, and to offer wise counsel.

Being positive in a good way.

Genuinely caring for others and offering an optimistic outlook is not a fake attempt at being positive. It’s actually encouraging. Just like when our kids were young and fell repeatedly in their attempts to walk. We didn’t berate them for falling. Instead we clapped and laughed, holding out our arms so they would be inspired to keep on trying.

As believers, we all fail at times. We all make mistakes and disappoint ourselves, others, and even God. But when we are in Christ, we know He can use everything yes EVERYTHING to refine us; to make us more like Him. And that, my friend, is very, very positive indeed.

If that’s the case, then we, too, can find the positive in our circumstance as long as our eyes are on the prize, on Him. Then He can use our mistakes to reveal His Lordship and He can use all our experiences, both good and bad, to teach us to depend on Him and reveal His power.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

So be encouraged my friend. Remain positive toward yourself and toward others. God is not yet finished with you. Hallelujah and amen!

Mimi

10 random things I’ve noticed as I age.

Thought I’d share a few thoughts that have been swirling around my head lately. Perhaps you can relate. And please, please, use the comment section to share your own thoughts.

  1. I no longer get eyelashes stuck in my eyes. Good thing cuz I’d have to remove my glasses to get them out and if I remove my glasses I can’t see a thing so I wouldn’t be able to remove it anyway.
  2. Same with losing my glasses, which I do more times than I’d like to admit. I have a very difficult time finding them because…well…for obviously reasons. I’m not wearing them!
  3. Hair sprouts in places I don’t want it, while I lose it or it thins where I’d like it to stay.
  4. I used to love to sleep in a bit on a lazy morning or take a long Sunday afternoon nap. Now that I have the time to do those things, I find I have great trouble sleeping period, even at night. Of course, put me in front of a terrific action movie at 8pm, and I’m nodding off within 15 minutes.
  5. I have much less patience for stupidity.
  6. It doesn’t bother me that I have to repeat some activities throughout the day, every day such as eating. But it does bother me when those repetitive activities include laundry, dusting, and vacuuming.
  7. When I was young, I couldn’t stand being in a theater and having the person behind me kicking my seat. Turns out, I still can’t stand it!
  8. I miss the days when my young daughter would sweetly call my wrinkles “crinkles.” I wish anyone would call them crinkles today. Of course, they’re more like fissures now, but you know what I mean.
  9. Cereal boxes seem to have gotten much harder to open. First, it’s the cardboard. Despite my being ever so careful in trying to loosen the glue under the tab, it generally rips in half along with the slot rendering them useless. And forget the plastic bags inside. If I don’t use scissors (and who has time for that?) I power pull the corners until the bag explodes showering me and the kitchen with flakes or puffs. Geesh.
  10. Everything hurts. Not all at the same time. Bits and pieces of me take turns on any given day. I try not to complain…too much. I think I do a good job. You can always ask the hubster.

I could probably go on and on but you catch my drift. Any of you have any pet peeves that have become even more pronounced as you get older?

But despite my pet peeves, despite some of the changes in body or ability, I am encouraged that God isn’t finished with me yet. He has things for me yet to do while at the same time He continues refining me by fire. And since I want to be more like Him, I can rest in His faithfulness to continue His work in me.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Mimi

New uses for old things.

Ever cry “do over” when growing up? Or perhaps called out “mulligan” when playing golf?

Who couldn’t use a bit of a makeover from time to time. (I think I see a few hands being raised out there.)

A few years back when I was first introduced to Pinterest, I was fascinated by the many ways people “upcycled” items to look better or to serve a new purpose; especially old stuff. Even without being particular creative or crafty, I started pinning those links for future use.

And while I’ve only tried a few things, I have to say they’ve brought great results.

I found some great ideas.

Shower hooks: I had a bunch of plain ones I had just tossed when I read about using them in your closet to hold jewelry, purses, scarves, etc. Out of the trash they came and all 12 are evenly divided between my closets, all serving purposes other than what they were originally designed for.

Wooden pallets: Being a rather frugally minded individual, I get a kick out of seeing what people throw away and what others are willing to rescue and reuse. Pallets are now used for all sorts of crafts, even furniture. It’s basically free wood, so why not!

Pinecones: And dropped pinecones are all the rage. I made a wreath out of painted pinecone “crowns” as well as miniature Christmas trees. Free, plentiful, and going to waste, they became a coveted commodity in my crafting closet.

I’m becoming more aware.

I have personally become more aware of waste and in a few small ways have jumped on the bandwagon. The picture above? That was a half a loaf of bread that I put in the freezer months ago when hubby and I started cutting down on our carbs. On my way to tossing it out, the light bulb went off and voila! With a little olive oil and seasoning they became croutons.

Ever feel like you’re that old thing?

I turn 65 in a few months and for weeks the Medicare sign-ups have been arriving almost daily in my mailbox. To some, they can be reminders of getting older much like your grey hairs, wrinkles, and muscle aches.

Maybe we, too, need to think about some new uses for our older selves. Ways to challenge or reinvent our brains. Ways to use our experience and knowledge to help others. Establishing new traditions or learning new things.

If nearly stale bread can be repurposed into delicious croutons, I think there is some hope for this slightly worn out Medicare-eligible body to be refreshed and repurposed.

  • I’m just starting on this quest but so far, since I’m musically inclined, I sang for a season in our community choir and even bought a recorder so I could learn a new instrument and make music. Sadly, it’s not yet in use but at least it’s now in the house. And it IS on my to-do list.
  • Greg and I took a long car trip. We haven’t done that in years and wondered if our older bodies could handle thousands of miles over a two-week period. I’m happy to report we did just fine and look forward to future car trips as well.
  • Recently, I joined Bible Study Fellowship. This may not seem like a big deal, but after being retired three years, it’s not always easy for me to make a long-term commitment. This study is for the entire school year and requires 6 days of homework each week.
  • I also tried (and failed) to start of ladies Bible study in my home. This was definitely outside of my comfort zone because while I enjoy being a participant, I didn’t necessarily want the leadership role. The Bible study fizzled out but I made a terrific new friend!

How about you?

How have you been reinventing yourself? Tried anything new lately? Online courses? A part time job? Volunteer experiences? Hobbies?

Please comment below. Your new thing might turn out to be the very next new thing I want to try!

Be encouraged.

Even if you decide the old is fine, remember there’s one sure re-creation awaiting you.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Mimi

A Man and a Fork

Today I’m sharing with you a story sent to me by our friend and neighbor Robert. It illustrates a simple but power message.

Time to Get His Affairs in Order

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So, as he was getting his things “in order,” he contacted his priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service, what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

“There’s one more thing,” he said excitedly.

“What’s that?” came the priest’s reply.

“This is very important,” the young man continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young man asked.

“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the priest.

The young man explained.

“My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.”

“In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’”

“It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance!”

“So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’”

“Then I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’”

The priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see him before his death.

But he also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

He KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the priest heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right.

So, the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

Friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!

Oh no! Not the scissors.

Aging has some fascinating aspects.

There are the typical face crinkles (wrinkles actually, but the word crinkles sounds a bit gentler), the annoying aches and pains that remind us we’re not as spry as we once were, the occasional brain fog where we tend to look for our glasses, only to discover we’re already wearing them. And a thousand other things that serve as continual reminders that though we’re not old, we are indeed aging.

But this reminder is annoying indeed.

While some reminders are mere annoyances, others seem to mock us. For example, something we all need to do but don’t necessary share with others: clipping our toenails.

Some opt for pedicures. But this frugal gal knows she can pocket $25 and do it herself, so she does. Typically, without any issues.

Of course, it is getting more difficult as each day goes by. Here’s why. I can no longer leave my feet on the ground, bend down with scissors in hand, and actually see what I’m doing. I wear progressive lenses and that very small reading or magnified portion is so small I am unable to get close enough to really see what I’m doing so I can ensure not only a straight cut across the nail but a straight cut without injury to my toe.

The solution?

Sample pedicure position minus the sock.

Glad you asked. As you can see in this picture, I lift my foot to the bathroom counter to get better access with the bright overhead lighting. This worked for years in my Orlando house, but our new house has higher counters so it’s nearly impossible to get the leg up, position the foot in the best light, and hold still long enough to make THE CUT.

This endeavor is quite the balancing act. And most times goes off without a hitch. But then this happens. As it did today. But I didn’t just drop the scissors; I yelled “Oh no!” like dropping them was the worst thing in the world. I guess at the moment it really was. Here I was, leg on the counter, ready to proceed with my own version of a pedi, but the scissors were now w-a-y down there. What to do?

Still the sock…but look down, w-a-y down on the carpet.

I had to detangle, get the foot off the counter, bend to get those pesky scissors, then figure out all over again how to get back into position to finish up.

In reality, dropping the scissors is just a minor annoyance, though at the time it seemed a huge hurdle to overcome, hence the “Oh no!”

Two things come to mind.

First: it really was no big deal. Annoying yes. After all, it’s not easy to “un-pretzel” yourself, bend those aging knees, then get all the way back up on the counter into just the right position to finish what you started.

Second: it is indeed a mocking reminder that I am aging and need to embrace adaptations that make life more manageable, sometimes easier.

Does this mean I’m old? Of course not. But as each year marches on, my body changes. My abilities physically and mentally are different than they used to. And my perspective needs to change as well. Because how I feel about all this will set the barometer for whether I can embrace this new phase I find myself in or whether I will despair and lament what’s been lost.

Some encouragement.

The Bible, my life guide, reminds me of what God has in mind for my aging years:

  • Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. (Proverbs 16:31 NLT)
  • Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? (Job 12:12 NIV)
  • Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  • Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged. (Proverbs 17:6 NLT)
  • I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28 NIV)

With promises like those above, there is never a reason to lament. I still have much to offer others. I am being renewed every single day. And God is still speaking to and through me. And that’s not the half of it! There’s so much more.

Here’s to each of us finding the “more” in our own lives. The more that God promises. And the more that He takes delight in giving us.

Mimi