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Will you open the door to your heart?

Greg and I just finished the “door” puzzle shown in the photo. So much fun, yet challenging at the same time.

 

First we completed each door. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But there were seven blue doors and four red ones. And while all the blues and reds look slightly different in the photo, it would take great concentration and eyesight to distinguish some of the color variations. As it turns out, some of those doors were quite time-consuming.

 

Once the doors were completed we were left with mostly white or white-ish pieces that included one remaining door and all the fill pieces. We learned long ago what works for us at this point. We sort the remaining pieces by shape. Once that’s done, we have more clues and can usually complete the puzzle in short order.

 

As I was putting the puzzle pieces back into the box I started thinking about all those doors. And that very well-known Bible verse came to mind. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev. 3:20 NIV)

 

Reading through many of the available translations of this verse, it becomes clear that Jesus is right here with us at all times. His desire is to be welcomed into our lives and fellowship with us. By knocking, He reminds us of His presence and that He’s not going away. The knocking also reminds us of His persistence and of His great love for us.

 

Jesus has done so much for us by His death and resurrection but how amazing that He doesn’t stop there. He continues on in relentless pursuit of us, never giving up, always knocking, always available, always wanting to demonstrate His great love. Always waiting to be invited into intimate fellowship.

 

Sometimes I open wide the door and enjoy His presence. Sometimes not so much. But I’m so very thankful that He never walks away…never gives up on me.

 

How about you? Do you hear Him knocking today?

 

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

It truly was a Good Friday.

I’m sharing a copy of a BC comic strip I saw on Facebook this morning. It was fantastic. And illustrated the truth beautifully.

I have to admit the other day I was wondering why we call the Friday before Resurrection Day, “Good Friday.” Then I saw this comic strip and went “Ah…that’s why.” See what you think.

There’s generally lots of fuss about Easter/Resurrection Day. For weeks the stores have been full of spring-type items and all things related to Easter: plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies, baskets, artificial grass, small toys, new clothing, etc. And though Easter is definitely a religious holiday the stores treat it like a commercial entity designed to bring in more business. Can’t blame them really. But it surely misses the point.

But Good Friday, now that day is almost entirely passed over. I don’t even think that many churches observe it anymore. But we found one near us that did, Quest Church in Ocoee. And I’m so glad we discovered it.

When we arrived last night, we entered into the sanctuary adorned with soft lighting and lots of candles. Soft, contemplative Christian piano music was playing and the chairs were arranged in a circular fashion so the stage area was in the middle. It was very intimate. Very personal.

The format of the presentation was contemplation as four different Bible figures took turns describing their own experiences with The Christ: Peter, Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross, Mary Magdalen, and the Centurion. In between their recitations two woman sang some amazing songs that depicted what was taking part in the crucifixion and in the events leading up to it.

I wasn’t the only one dabbing my eyes.

At the end, we partook in communion then quietly left the sanctuary. From inside the foyer we could see that 50 or more luminaries had been lit up to light our way back to our cars. It was very moving indeed.

But before walking the lighted path, as we exited the building the four actors stood by the doors and placed a red dot in the middle of one of our palms…a reminder of what Good Friday was all about.

It’s quite visible—as I gesture, when I pick up something, when I look at it on purpose, and it most definitely serves its purpose as it truly does remind me of the great sacrifice made by my Savior for me.

So today I’m grateful for that reminder; and I’m grateful for the truth in the BC comic strip. Jesus took my place. He paid for my sin. And His sacrifice made it possible for me to enter into God’s family. So yes, it truly was a Good Friday.

Mimi

May I have a salad please? The one with bacon.

The salad I was supposed to have.

Since moving to Clermont in September, hubby and I rarely eat fast food. They’re just too far away. But last week, loaded we ventured to McDonald’s to order a quarter-pounder meal for Greg and the salad with bacon for me. There are only two salads on the menu so even without knowing the name, the cashier was able to easily ring me up.

It was an early supper so the place was practically deserted when we walked in. Despite that, it seemed to take forever for our food to arrive. When it did, I discovered my salad was covered with corn and tortilla chips instead of it being a tossed salad with bacon. Hmm, I think they got it wrong.

So I debated for a few minutes and finally decided to take it back and explained to the cashier that I ordered the salad with bacon and got this one instead. He shook his head as if to say “That silly kitchen…” After reiterating I wanted salad with bacon he took it back to be corrected.

More waiting and the salad was eventually delivered to the table with apologies. I popped off that top once again and uh oh, there was bacon alright…but they had simply put the bacon on the southwestern salad I had taken back.

Again I made the familiar trek to the cashier and explained that I still didn’t get the correct salad and asked them to please correct the order. The third salad finally arrived and was indeed correct. Greg was done with his meal by this time so we brought it home with us and I enjoyed it the next day.

While a little perturbing, in the scheme of things, this McDonald’s dinner incident was no big deal. In fact by Salad #3, it was downright funny. And I was able to laugh it off.

However, that’s not always how I respond to inconveniences. Sometimes something so minor will really tick me off. I will feel irritated and frustrated. Even worse, is when I lay blame on someone else or just overall share my discontent with them.

Really Cindi? What’s the big deal? Every single one of us makes mistakes and every one of us is on the receiving end of someone else’s mistakes. It’s life and it happens.

This week I was an overcomer. No frustration on my end, no blame put on someone else, and no bad attitude shared with the hubster. But my hope is that I’ll “remember the salad” in coming days when I may once again be faced with an opportunity to extend grace and mercy to others.

How about you? Ever find yourself overreacting to a very minor incident? Here’s a good verse to help us all remember what to do:

Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.

(Luke 6:36 AMP)

Mimi

Happy Birthday Mom

I’m writing this post on March 14, my mom’s birthday. It’s the first one since she passed away last April. And I have mixed feelings.

There is still some sadness and a bit of melancholy. But sweet Hubby remembered her birthday this morning and asked if I was ok. Then my brother texted about it and my girls also sent along some remembrances.

I miss my mom every single day. Those who knew her, also knew her feisty personality. Her enthusiasm for life. Her way of speaking (sometimes without a filter). They experienced her deep love and her giving spirit.

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

She was an important part of my life for 62 years and she meant the world to me. Like many mothers and daughters, we butted heads as we openly shared our strong opinions with each other. But there’s no one in this world who loved me more than my mom.

Throughout my life I depended on her. And she always, always no matter what, loved me hard.

As an adult I truly felt blessed to have had her for all these years. She was a wonderful mom and grandma. And the best great grandma to her four littlest ones. I’m so grateful all four of them got to know their Gigi.

Fond memories? There are many. But in recent years one thing that remained consistent was how she greeted Greg and me after not seeing us for a while. Her face would light up as she grabbed me in a hug while brushing aside my hair and whispering “You have such a pretty face; we could see it better if you cut your bangs.” And no matter how bedraggled my hubby might look after riding in the car for hours to see her, she would hug him fiercely and state “You look so good. I don’t know what it is. Is that a new shirt?” Every single time.

After a lifetime of caring for others, at the end of her life, others were now taking care of her. She wanted to be at home and my dad did an amazing job for many months. Hospice was also wonderful. And when we realized her days on earth were coming to an end, the family began making trips to see her.

And boy did she perk up during each visit. We were able to celebrate her 88th birthday and she surprised us all by playing the piano and singing, something she hadn’t done in years. That day was special: joy-filled and sad at the same time.

Just a few weeks later she was gone.

Mom, Kate, Cindi

And though I still want to talk with her and share life, though I want to show her pictures of the great-grands and talk about their adventures, and though it can make me sad at times that she’s no longer with us, for the most part I’m just happy. Happy she was my mom. Happy she so willingly shared her life with others. And also happy that she is now with the Lord.

Mom’s influence will remain with me all the days of my life. And for that I’m very grateful.

And in her honor, I’m signing off today with her own personal sign-off she stated each time we talked by phone or in person:

I love you all the way to heaven…and back!

Mimi

 

There’s a duck swimming in our pool.

Yes indeed, that’s a duck swimming in our community pool. Aside from the fact that a duck or any animal can contaminate the water we’re swimming in, it really was cute to see it enjoy a 15 minute stay. And why not? Hubby and I were cooling off on a hot afternoon, why not the duck, too.

But it did seem strange to see that duck there. It was totally unexpected and very much out of place.

That’s a challenge in life, too. We’ve all experienced those unexpected situations that appear and interrupt our lives with heartache, inconvenience, disappointment, etc. And it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the Lord during those times because that challenging situation just sort of takes up residence. Like the duck swimming among us in no great hurry to leave, the situation may linger much longer than we think appropriate.

What to do?

Depend on the Lord. It’s the best thing and at times the hardest. But as a friend so sweetly reminded me today, the Lord knows what He’s doing; His plans are good and His timing is perfect.

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7)

So I’m resting (or at least trying to)…how about you?

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