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Prickly or Peachy…Being Perfected in God’s Love

One of the things I enjoy doing on my somewhat daily walks through my community is to observe: people, cars, landscaping, etc. I find it so fascinating to see how common things are used so differently from place to place.

On today’s walk I picked up yet another pine cone. We have many different pine trees and the pine cones are just as different. And they all appeal to me. But today I picked up a closed one and immediately was pricked with the unopened spikes. To add insult to that, sap smeared all over my hands that several washings with soap have yet to remove. Hmmppfff. Not so nice is it.

Compare that to my other two pretty, opened pine cones that I found last week. I was thinking how much nicer they are…and yet, there’s still something about the one I found today that draws me to it.

And finally, of course, there’s my pine cone wreath which I’ve shared with you before. A completely different use of them, that resulted in something unique and beautiful.

Like the pine cones, people are different. Some are prickly; they just rub you the wrong way. Others are sticky; their negativity is hard to remove and seems to stay with you. Some are open as if to say I’ll happily share my life with you. And others are somewhat open meaning they’ll be transparent to the degree they are comfortable with. Others seems to already have been put to a unique use and they look pretty and inviting.

And to throw in a little twist, I present you with a peach. Smooth, inviting, sweet-smelling, delicious inside, tender…all in all a perfect fruit. Of course, there is that large pit you have to deal with!

All that to say, God doesn’t call us to be loners. Despite our many differences, despite our personality traits that can be off-putting to others, despite that our outside may not in any way reflect what’s truly going on inside, we’re called together. To love one another. To counsel one another. To bear one another’s burdens. To rejoice with each other and to mourn with each other. Most of all, to love one another.

It may not be easy to throw your arms around a prickly pine cone of a person, but that hug is probably just what they need. And you may be rebuffed if you see a somewhat open pine cone of a person only to find out they’re willing to share only so much of their lives. And beware the peach. They may seem fine on the outside and you may be drawn to them but remember, even they have large pits inside they’re dealing with.

Let’s be willing to share our lives with each other in big ways, in small ways…but all with the love of Christ. Not only will it bless those other pine cones and peaches, but you’ll be blessed as well.

Dear friends, let us continuously love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Mimi

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Family Love

The hubster, my dad, and I recently enjoyed a trip to beautiful upstate New York to spend time with my brother and his family. The occasion was the high school graduation of my twin nephews Mike and Matt.

They were born the year Greg and I moved to Florida so we’ve missed their whole growing up years other than occasional visits. While that saddens me tremendously, what gives me great joy is that despite that, we enjoy a close, precious relationship with the entire New York family. And for that I’m very grateful.

The best thing about the weekend was simply all the family time. Long talks, sharing laughter, attending the graduation, running errands, and doing some home projects—it didn’t matter what we did, just that we did it together.

What I miss most about not seeing people I care about as often as I would like to, is the everyday stuff. I don’t need a fancy vacation or to be entertained; I just want to do life with them. And that’s just what we did in New York; and it was beautiful indeed!

I’m feeling fulfilled, happy, content, and quite blessed to have had that time with my brother’s family. Maybe I should create a new holiday: I Love My Family Day. Like with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, this day would be about appreciating our families and letting them know how much we love them. What do you think? Are you with me?

Mimi

It’s Mother’s Day…Again

Boy that went fast. It seems like just a few months ago I was facing my first Mother’s Day without my sweet Mama. But I didn’t write anything about it at the time because she had just passed away a few weeks prior.

Mom had been very sick and my dad was in rehab trying to recover form a severe head injury. With Mother’s Day coming just a few weeks after she died, hubby and I were pretty much in a daze. It didn’t even cross my mind that this was the first Mother’s Day without her.

But this year is a little different. I’m more aware that it’s Mother’s Day and there’s nothing I can do for her. No gift to make or buy. No special card to find that perfectly expresses my heart. No surprise visit to spend the day with her.

As I walk around the stores with their Mother’s Day displays my heart yearns to pick up a little something for Mom, only to be reminded that she’s no longer here.

Sigh…

It’s really ok. Most of my sadness has been replaced with the precious memories of having had a wonderful mother for so many years.

And even though Mom isn’t here this year, I can still honor her. I’ll look at her picture, spend some time remembering her, and mostly I’ll just be grateful. She really was someone special! And I was so blessed.

Mimi

Hellos and Goodbyes

There’s a quote that goes something like this (I’m changing up just a few words):

True friends (or family members) don’t say goodbye, they just take extended leaves of absences from each other.”

And another from Winnie the Pooh “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Hubby and I have had the wonderful opportunity this past month to say first hello, then goodbye to family and friends we hadn’t seen in a long time.

Of course, saying hello was the easy part. But that goodbye stuff, now that’s a different story.

I often describe it like this. We get used to not seeing some of our loved ones as often as we would like. It may be stinky but it’s the norm and you deal with it. But then comes the wonderful opportunity to visit. And it’s so indescribably good that you realize how much better life would be if you could see them all the time. And you also realize how much you miss them.

And this leads to lamenting that you don’t live closer, and that is followed by profound sadness until you once again come to accept it’s just the way it is.

So in April we said hello for five weeks to our brother and sister-in-law Jim and Linda. We also said hello for a few days to dear friends Bill and Sharon. Our time together was so sweet but all too swift. And before you know it we’re waving goodbye as the car leaves the driveway.

And while my heart aches at the goodbyes, waving as the car drives off, it also rejoices because sad goodbyes are simply indicative of how much we love them. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a very good thing.

How about you? Any happy hellos or sad goodbyes for you lately?

Mimi

The fat lady never sang.

fat-ladyYou know how the saying goes “It ain’t over til the fat lady sings” meaning the opera continues until the final song by the final diva (apparently, often a rather rotund lady). In other words, don’t presume you know the outcome of something until the event actually ends.

Well, I’m one of those who missed the incredible win by the New England Patriots. Dad came over for dinner and stayed through the halftime show. When Greg took him home, we turned off the TV only to discover the amazing win after Greg checked in to see the final score and saw the game was in overtime.

At halftime, it seemed there was no way for New England to take the win. No way would they muster the passion and drive necessary. But they did. Good lesson for us all. Never give up.

Some of us have been holding on to dreams for years. Some have pleaded with the Lord for seemingly impossible situations to be changed. Did the New England team feel that way? Possibly. But they didn’t act on how they felt. They stayed in the game and it paid off.

What might we experience in our lives if we kept our passions and dreams alive, refusing to give in to defeat? What if we refused to grow weary but kept those dreams and hopes alive?

The Bible is full of glorious promises about not giving up (verses from New Living Translation):

  • So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)
  • Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)
  • But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. (2 Chronicles 15:7)

Today’s reminder: don’t give up; all things are possible with God; and while we may grow weary, God does not!

Mimi

It’s the Big Re-Do

01-09-17-goalsIn speaking with some friends and family members I note a recurring theme: home organization; weight loss decisions; personal, work, and spiritual goals, etc. It seems January 1 of any year brings to mind an opportunity to re-do, re-start, re-organize, re-anything.

One friend is changing up their home filing system, grandson Konnor set a goal to run a 5k, Greg and I have plans to get together with an estate attorney and create an estate plan. No matter what the goal, it just seems like the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to plan for it.

Recently I’ve reconnected with someone close in age but who seems lightyears ahead in learning new things and challenging herself. My life looks sedentary and sedate in comparison. So I’m definitely looking at new opportunities in the area of hobbies, ministry, and personal growth.

But I imagine for many of us it will be hard to look ahead. Perhaps you’ve had a rough 2016 and the last 12 months were not what we were expecting or hoping for. And maybe this has resulted in losing the ability to look ahead, to set goals, or to dream.

Be encouraged. You are not alone; we’ve all been there at one time or another. And the Bible book of Philippians even addresses this in Chapter 3, verses 12-15a:

I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, (emphasis mine) I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. All of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, too.

With this in mind, now is the perfect time to seek God and His plan. Ask Him to help you set goals for the new year, then bravely move toward those goals. And a year from now you’ll be able to look back with satisfaction knowing you were able to forget the past and strain toward what is ahead.

Mimi

Missing Mom

Lee Turner (my mom) celebrates her 88th birthday, March 2016.

Lee Turner (my mom) celebrates her 88th birthday, March 2016.

So while taking a walk the other day and as I often do while walking, I pulled out my phone and prepared to ask Siri to call someone. It’s a great time to chat. No distractions, just plenty of time to talk with a loved one. Only this time I was unable to make the call. You see, when I started speaking to Siri I realized I was asking her to call my mom.

What? My mother passed away on April 27 and since that time I’ve thought about her a lot. Often times with sweet memories; other times with sadness. But never once have I thought to call her until the other day.

And right on the heels of calling Mom came the realization that I could never do that again. And that, my friends, led to the waterworks being turned on. Instead of walking and talking to Mom, I walked and remembered her. I talked with God about her. And I realized how very much I miss her as I cried my way through my neighborhood.

After arriving home, I called my sister-in-law to share the experience as I knew she would completely understand. Because she had lost her father earlier in 2016, too. Since both our parents had lived enjoyable and long lives, and because both are in Heaven with the Lord right now, most of the times we experience the joy of knowing we’ll be reunited with them again one day. Yet, sometimes, the sorrow of missing them rushes in and sticks around awhile, before once again retreating. I knew Linda would understand. She did. And she provided that human touch I needed at the moment.

This will be my first Christmas without my mom. For just about all my 63 years we’ve been together each December 25, a tradition that began on Christmas 1953…when I was born.

12-13-2016-mothers-quoteThis year there will be no homemade coconut cream birthday pie lovingly made by Mom. There will be no reminders that when she gave birth to me on Christmas that meant she wasn’t home with her 16-month-old daughter, my sister.  There will be no memories of how long it used to take to open all the presents because we insisted on watching each person open every single gift one at a time. Indeed, one very special someone will be missing from the festivities. And this daughter will no doubt experience her loss all over again.

I know for many Christmas can be a reminder of what isn’t rather than a celebration of what is. So I will allow the sorrow to wash its waves over me but I will also smile and be ever so grateful that God gave me a precious, wonderful mother to raise me and point me to Jesus.

Mimi