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So proud of my husband.

Look at my brave guy. It’s been about 28 years since Greg has tried a brussel sprout. Last time was when we had a Russian immigrant living with us for several months. Another church member who spoke fluent Russian was helping us communicate with Lydia, something we were so thankful for. He and his wife invited us to dinner where they served some typically Russian food.

First up was borscht. While Greg will loudly complain about it, it really wasn’t that bad. Just a different kind of soup. But following that, we were served the biggest bowl of brussel sprouts we had ever seen. There must have been hundreds in that bowl and yet there were only 5 adults at the table.

Wanting to be polite we ate those little cabbagy looking things. Eeww. Still sends shivers down my spine.

In any case, despite hearing from others that roasted brussel sprouts are quite delicious, neither Greg or I have eaten them since.

However, this weekend our precious daughter-in-law served them to us with dinner. I was determined to try and like them. And I did. But Greg was going to take a pass, remembering vividly the giant bowl of them from 28 years ago. But he girded himself with resolve and not only did he eat one…he ate all that were served! Way to go Greg.

Did he like them? No. Nope. Not at all. Will he eat them again? Don’t count on it. But at least he tried.

We often form conclusions about things without much knowledge. Like the brussel sprouts, it may be a new food we won’t try because it looks strange or has a funny name. It might be a social situation we pass up simply because we get anxious about meeting new people and wondering what we’ll talk about with them.

With our kids or grandkids, we urge them on as they try new things but as adults we often find the we give ourselves permission to sit back and not face some of these new challenges…mostly because of fear of the unknown.

And what a shame that is. We actually can end up on the losing end when we let caution rule supreme. Yes, we definitely need to use the wisdom of our years and good old common sense to help guide our choices. And caution can be a great partner in helping make those decisions but if we let it rule simply because we’d rather stay in our comfort zones, then we may end up missing out on a whole world of wonderfulness just waiting to be discovered.

So I hope I continue trying new things, stretching my wings, and making new discoveries. I hope I can set a good example for my kids and grandkids as I face new challenges. And you can be sure I’ll share the results with you.

How about you? Tried anything new lately? A food? An sport? A new genre of music? Please share; I’d love to hear all about it.

Mimi

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Life can be so puzzling.

Greg and I are working on a particularly challenging puzzle (thanks Auleen and Ward!). Because it’s not rectangular, the edge took much longer than usual to put together. Days and days in fact. Even at that, we were still missing some pieces so began working the puzzle in other areas, knowing that at some point those missing pieces would show up. And they did…about five days later!

You need to work the puzzle.

Puzzles come packed in a box. The pieces are mostly mixed up. When you empty the box onto the table it looks like a mess. Before you can begin, you need to turn over each piece. Then comes the separation into edge pieces, corners, and the remaining 940 pieces.

Work typically begins on the edge, then on particular areas that are easily identified. People have different methods for assembling the 1000 pieces but no matter how that is accomplished, it’s often quite awhile before what you’re working on begins to resemble the picture on the box.

There are often pieces all over the place, some are stuck together in the wrong way, sometimes you look and look but can’t find a particular piece. In fact, it can be quite “puzzling.”

Our lives often resemble puzzles.

Our lives often look like that as well. God has an absolutely beautiful picture in His mind of what we will look like. And He has provided every single thing we will need to be transformed into that image, or should I say His image.

At times we feel like we are missing pieces as confusion about decisions set in. We may feel upside down in distressing situations because we seem to not be able to make sense of what’s happening. Maybe some parts of our lives are indeed in good shape, fitting together, and looking good to us and others, while other parts continue to remain mixed-up.

Not every puzzle goes together quickly or easily. Many require hard work and a real commitment of time and perseverance. When life feels like a crazy, mixed-up, difficult puzzle, that’s the time to press in and lean on God. It’s the time to seek Him for direction. And it’s the time to trust and rest in Him.

In John 13:7, during what we call the last supper, Jesus remarked to his disciples, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” His disciples couldn’t understand why Jesus was washing their feet. And they certainly couldn’t understand the cruel death soon to follow. They would need to completely trust in the One who was about to give His life for them.

Similarly, we don’t always understand life’s circumstances. Instead, like the disciples, we choose to trust in the One who gives us this life and promises it will be more abundant than we can ever imagine (John 10:10).

The amazing end result.

No, we may not have a puzzle box lid showing the gorgeous picture of what God is doing in our lives, but we can be assured that God knows exactly what He’s doing. And the end result is going to be amazing!

Mimi

Oh, the stink!

While opening the pantry the other day, I bent over to look on the bottom shelf when wham! I was hit with a stink so bad it nearly brought tears to my eyes.

I knew that smell. No identification needed other than the familiar and very nasty odor. A rotten potato (or two).

Easy enough to deal with, too. I pulled out my basket of potatoes and tossed them in the sink. If you look at the top picture quickly it might appear as if all is well. But zoom in (see the second pic) and you’ll see one tiny one-inch potato looking kind of smushed. Yup, that was the one. That very small tater caused so much stink in my pantry, I had to air out the closet and wash off the rest of the potatoes just to remove it. (And, of course, I tossed out the offending one in the process!)

Being Just a Little “Off”

It’s such a clear illustration of how just getting a little “off” in our Christian walk can affect absolutely everything. Allowing in just a little of the world or allowing just a little sin taints our thoughts and actions. It may be barely noticeable at first, like the smashed potato. But as we continue to allow what shouldn’t be there to remain and fester and decompose, soon enough the stink of what we’ve allowed becomes noticeable. And then before we know it, wham! It takes over and covers up all the good to the point that all we or others are aware of is that which stinketh (my own King James emphasis).

The potato stink didn’t appear overnight. It kind of snuck up. Same with sin. It often makes a subtle entrance, weaving its way right into our lives. Sometimes we are unaware and because so, we do nothing about it.

Sometimes we are quite aware that we should be standing clear, yet because we don’t feel God’s judgment at the moment or the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we can end up thinking it’s no big deal so we do nothing. Until the stench becomes so bad that it forces an action on our part.

I believe at other times we begin to be aware of the smell but aren’t ready or willing to turn away. We try to cover it up, make it look pretty, pretend it’s not as bad as it seems. With sin, we may end up ignoring the Holy Spirit trying to get us to turn away from the sin and instead of running from it, we end up embracing it, incorporating it into our lives. At times, even defending it and making excuses for its presence or why we accept it.

The deep sorrow here is that our hearts can then become hardened. We may stubbornly refuse to deal with the sin. We may become so dependent on it we start believing the enemy’s lies that it needs to remain. Or we believe the lies that say there’s no way to overcome, forgetting that while we may be unable, there is One who is more than able.

None of us intentionally wants to keep the stink. We know it keeps us separated from our heavenly Father. We know it’s wrong. And we know it’s detrimental for our Christian walk.

So dear friends, while we know there’s always hope and help in overcoming sin, perhaps the best response is to never allow sin to take root in our lives. Ask daily for the Holy Spirit to help us be aware and watchful. Repent sincerely when sin is pointed out. Humbly present ourselves before our Lord, asking Him to reveal any wicked way so it can be quickly addressed.

What to do?

  1. Recognize or acknowledge the sin. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
  2. Repent of the sin. This means to turn away from it, leave it behind, have nothing to do with it.  “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
  3. Receive God’s forgiveness. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).
  4. Remember that in this world, trouble is here to stay. But we are in relationship with the One who has overcome and his power is available for us as well. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  5. Rejoice in God that He has provided a way past the sin. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Mimi

Life sure is messy.

Do you ever think to yourself, “Boy, my life is a mess?”

I sure do. And just like the above picture of my messy computer wires, right now, I’m really feeling it. While my own life is relatively smooth (for the moment), I have countless friends whose lives seem to be falling apart: sickness, legal trouble, family issues, broken relationships. You name it, and I seem to know someone who is experiencing it big time.

As a friend, as I’ve stated before, I always vote for the trouble to disappear. But as a true friend, I pray for others and try to help in any way I can. However most times, there’s no fancy dessert, offer to clean a house, or even a monetary gift that will bring about the desired change or answer to prayer.

So, while I consistently pray for my family and friends, I also actively have to trust that God is in complete control and knows what He’s doing. He loves them more than I do and is always after our hearts and the big picture. So thankfully He is completely trustworthy, even when things seem dark.

Whether your life is a mess right now or you know someone else who is experiencing tragedy, don’t give up the fight. Find ways to serve them but your prayers are mighty and so very important. Often the one in the middle of the fight is so overwhelmed they can’t pray as they should; but that’s where you come in. You can.

So, stand firm on their behalf, and pray, pray, pray.

Trust in the Lord forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (Isaish 26:4)

Mimi

Take comfort: the Lord is your Shepherd

I discovered the above pic around Christmas time and it was very poignant. I think we often miss our loved ones a little bit more during holidays.

I lost my mom in 2016 and my dear friend lost her parents one year apart, one in 2016 and one in 2017. Both near Christmas. And while the first Christmas or two are no doubt filled with sorrow, my hope is that future Christmases for her are sweet with wonderful memories.

I hope the same for me as well.

And while I certainly can’t speak for Heaven and cannot attest to what our loved ones there are doing at any time or capable of doing, it really is a nice thought to look at the sky, see the stars and think maybe at that time they are whispering reassurances that they are fine.

And if they indeed are in Heaven, then we have great assurance that they are not only fine, but more than fine. They’re in the presence of the One whose beauty is beyond description…whose love for us is beyond understanding…and whose very essence is (in the words of the song) absolutely more than wonderful.

My heart goes out to those who have recently lost someone they love. Most times the pain of the loss begins to fade, at least with time it can. But for those whose pain is fresh and raw, may you find comfort in our wonderful Lord, experience His sweet peace, and rest in His arms of love.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23 NLT)

Mimi

I’ve been adopted; and it feels so good!

Hubby and I have recently been “adopted” into a nearby neighborhood group of people who live on the same street. Most moved in around the same time and didn’t know anyone else so one person started things off by inviting everyone on the street to come to her house for a Saturday morning get-together. Simple and easy.

From there, the group has morphed into a monthly get-together with a published schedule for the year so everyone knows in advance whose house and what type of event. If there’s a holiday, the event will most likely center on that such as Valentine’s Day for February, and an Independence Day celebration in July. And each family takes turns hosting so no one family feels overburdened.

Despite only knowing a few of the ladies and Greg knowing even fewer people, this group welcomed us with open arms. They saw us as invited guests rather than moochers who were there for the great food.

Ever since this group started, I’ve thought how easy it is to do this. A general invitation via phone or handout distributed to the folks on your street along with a simple first meet-up such as coffee and donuts or dessert. And voila! A new social group is formed.

And you know something? I’m now greatly encouraged to do for the neighbors on our own street. Soon they will each be receiving their invitations to much more than food and a good time. They will be receiving invitations that will hopefully lead to personal connection with others.

As adoptees, Greg and I are now quite welcomed at any of their events. We get to bring food and eat the food others bring. We get to enjoy the social interaction. Though we live in a completely different neighborhood, we are treated as if we live on their street.

Our adoption into the family of God is similar. He extends an invitation for us to join His family and once we do, we are in. Completely. We have the full set of privileges others enjoy and that are outlined in His word. We have full access to the host (God Himself). And we get to enjoy wonderful fellowship with the other guests (the family of God).

The cost to join the neighborhood group is living on the street. Similarly, there is a cost to joining God’s family. We must repent of our sins and we must accept the redemptive work God’s son Jesus did on the cross to forgive those sins.

Once we do, we become adopted into God’s forever family and enjoy the ultimate: fellowship with Him.

If you haven’t yet made that decision, won’t you consider making it today? And if you want to chat with me about it, you can email me through my contact page HERE.

If you have already been adopted into the body of Christ, please join me today in taking an extra minute to thank Him for that amazing opportunity given to us. And rejoice in being able to know Him personally.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.

This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5 NLT)

 

Mimi

Just in case…being prepared with what you really need.

Get a load of that little packing pouch. Filled with all sorts of vitamins, lotions, medicines, scissors, tweezers, band aids, Neosporin, etc. Until a few years ago, my little cosmetic bag was mostly empty when I traveled. Now it seems to overflow with items I don’t necessarily use on a regular basis…but things I might decide I need while away.

It’s crazy that I pack so much in this little bag because when packing my clothing and shoes I try to get by with just the bare minimum with maybe just one extra shirt or pair of sox. I really do like to travel light but as I age my “just in case” bag becomes more and more important. After all, I don’t want to have a migraine ruin the trip, or find my aches and pains slowing me down.

So, while my suitcase has enough for what I really need my little cosmetic bag is over-packed with items that MIGHT be needed. That seems a little crazy. And it makes me wonder if I’m doing the same spiritually.

Our spiritual lives can sometimes become so routine that we ended up doing the bare minimum to just get by. When we are confronted with a challenging situation, we may not really have what’s needed to get us through. To be victorious.

If all we do is punch our ticket each week at church or read a quick devotional followed by an even quicker prayer, then I dare say we’re not ready; we’re not prepared. And our spiritual suitcases are nearly empty. And with nothing to draw from, we are defeated, discouraged, and downcast.

Yet, how much better if we had our “just in case” bags overflowing with God’s Word, with God’s promises. What if we were prayed up and in constant communication with our Commander so we were prepared to fight battles and receive direction? What if His Word was so dear to us we were in it daily and “at the ready” so we could more easily recall the wisdom needed for the moment?

What if we had prepared ourselves by learning to know God’s voice through spending time with Him so that when a challenge presented itself, we were able to clearly hear Him speaking to us to reassure us, to motivate us, to direct us?

Having the right bag, the “just in case” bag, packed and ready would make all the difference in our lives.

I’m no better than anyone else at spiritual preparation but when I think about it and how vital it is to us, I am encouraged to set it as a goal this year and to strive toward reaching that goal.

Won’t you join me in 2018 in re-filling your own spiritual “just in case” bag?

Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Mimi