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Labor Day: A reminder of my hubby’s continual labor of love for me.

My hubby is a hardworking man. No matter what the task, he puts his all into it.

I laughingly tell others I don’t even know where the off/on switch is for the vacuum. He’s been doing the floors for decades…and the laundry…and the yardwork…and all maintenance both inside and outside, and so on.

Greg shows his love.

Greg likes to keep busy and shows his love by how he cares for me and our stuff.

While I was running errands the other day in my air-conditioned car, running into and out of air-conditioned stores, Greg was hard at work on an outside project in the intense Florida

After finishing up, he left his wet, sweaty clothes on a chair in the garage so they could dry out before he threw them in the laundry basket.

But as I pulled the car into the garage and saw Greg’s sweat-soaked tee shirt draped over a chair, my own heart melted at how much love he shows me every day.

Hopefully, you are able to see why as you look at the picture on Greg’s tee-shirt…the one formed by his own toil, his own sweat…a big heart.

You betcha I took a picture.

Because as soon as I saw it, I also saw the love behind it. The love that had him working in the yard enduring yet another 95-degree day. This love he has for me!

Greg’s demonstration of love is experienced daily. But there’s another love, an even more important revelation of love available to us.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

What a powerful, truth-filled statement. Overflowing with amazing love for us, God provided a way to himself through the sacrifice of Christ.

Prayer

My prayer for each of us today is that we will cherish the loving sacrifice that came from the One whose heart of love for each of us is so much bigger than we can even imagine.

Mimi

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Being willing to take a detour will often surprise and delight you.

Recently, we enjoyed a two-and-a-half-week road trip to visit friends and family up north.

For the return trip home, we planned on three days and two nights on the road. Partway through the first day of driving, we decided to continue on for another three hours. But soon we would question that decision as those three hours turned into four!

The flashing road sign advised us to tune our radio to a specific station that notified us of an accident that had completely shut down the southbound lanes. At about the same time, Google Maps spoke up to say it was rerouting us to leave the highway the exit before, take a 10-mile detour, and join up south of the accident.

We were good to go.

After reviewing the mounting delay on the Maps app, we decided it was best to take the detour. Since it was only a few miles away, we knew we’d be saving ourselves at least 30 minutes, maybe more.

The new plan continued to make sense until two miles before the exit when the traffic came to a complete stop on the interstate. Turns out, the traffic had back up all the way from the accident site, blocking the new exit completely.

I try, I really do.

I want to be okay with delays. But it’s not always easy. It was nearing the end of the day and we were looking forward to dinner out and an early bedtime at the motel as we planned to be up early the next day for the 10-hour ride ahead of us.

Traffic moved but only every 5-10 minutes, and for only 5-6 car lengths. And it was frustrating watching the timing of the delay continually count higher as restlessness built inside of me. I ate a snack, tried listening to music, and talked non-stop about sitting on a highway with a 70-mph speed limit!

Finally

After about 40 minutes the traffic seemed to be inching ahead a little faster. As the exit was nearly within reach we had a decision to make. Google Maps finally showed the slow-down time going down. What to do? Take a chance and remain on the highway…or exit the road on the proven route that would be much slower but definitely get us to our destination. We chose Option 2. And I’m so glad we did.

As it turns out, staying on the interstate was faster because soon after we left the highway, the accident was cleared and vehicles once again began to move at the speed limit.

But I relished in our decision to take the detour. First of all, I dislike sitting; I dislike doing nothing. So, to travel at any speed, even 15 mph, which we did at times on the side road, was better than sitting in traffic and not moving.

Our detour took us on back roads alongside of several miles of railroad tracks. We encountered S-turns like you wouldn’t believe. Train trestles ran over the road and concrete bridges helped us cross babbling brooks. We saw a country church in the middle of nowhere. And the sweetness of being in a forested area compared to a concrete highway was relaxing and at times blissful.

I loved our detour and by the time we arrived at our motel, we were both relaxed and smiling.

And…

I was reminded that we can’t always avoid trouble. We can’t always travel an easy route. But if we are willing to take a detour, we will often be surprised and delighted along the way.

How about you? Any delightful detours lately in your own lives?

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!

It’s a “beary” scary story.

Addison’s picture of the bear story.

A guest post from three of my grandkids.

Recently, our son and daughter and their families vacationed near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. They had a wonderful time doing all sorts of things in the area. Of great fun to both families was enjoying the park: hiking, fishing, exploring.

On this particular day, they had a rather exciting experience I asked them to share with you.

Here’s the story from Konnor (almost 10), Callan (age 7), and Addison (nearly 7)…in their own words.

One day, we were all together. We had enjoyed some fishing, but it was now time to return to the cabin. So, we started the walk back.

We went up the hill where we had come from the river to start back to the car. It was very woodsy so we couldn’t see the car.

Then Mom (Katie) turned around or looked to the side and she saw a bear. She said “There’s a bear, there’s a bear, there’s a bear.”

The rest of us were looking at the river but we turned our heads because Mommy (Katie) was now running. And we all saw it. It was a large black bear very close by!

We all started walking very quickly back towards our cars.

Little person running saying “Bear” and “Run.”

Uncle Chris to the Rescue

Uncle Chris (Katie’s hubby) tried to scare the bear while the rest of us ran. He raised up on his toes and put his hands in the hair. He made growling noises as he tried to look like a big bear himself and hopefully scare the real bear away.

He stayed behind while we ran to our cars. Zoe (nearly 5) was saying “I’m scared; I’m scared.”

By the time we got to the car we were laughing in relief. Turns out other people also saw the bear. Boy did we feel relieved to be safe.

Addie said she wasn’t really scared, just laughing. There was a little feeling of being scared in her tummy but mostly she was laughing.

The moral of the story.

Callan said the moral of the story is never go fishing in the woods if bears are nearby.

Konnor said they were praying to God and saying thank you to Him, too.

The above bear pictures are courtesy of Addison and Callan.

To my grands: thank you for sharing your story with me so I could share it with others. It was so scary for you but you were all so brave. And wow, Uncle Chris, you really came through for the family.

Love you all.

Mimi

Somebody’s Turning 10

Special Birthday Right Around the Corner

August 8, 2008—the date Greg and I became grandparents.

Nearly ten years ago, we were given the privilege to be with our daughter and son-in-law as our first grandchild was born.

I remember the thrill of finding out we were going to become grandparents the prior Christmas when we opened gifts of infant clothing that had a checklist of favorite things “Grandma, Hugs, Kisses.” The instant realization that a new life had begun, followed by tears of joy. Those same joy-filled tears flowed again eight months later when Konnor arrived.

And the joy just continues.

And as sweet as the anticipation was of Konnor’s impending birth, nothing compares to the increased sweetness of life once he arrived. Each grandchild brings more joy, more fun, more awe, more noise, more good times than you think anyone should be allowed to enjoy. And we enjoy and love it all!

Who is Konnor Finn?

Until a child is born, you have no idea what they will look like or what kind of personality they will have. Part of our joy is simply to watch as that child grows and develops over time.

We’ve loved watching Konnor experience life. He is curious, intelligent, funny, loving. He is determined and will spend hours figuring something out. He’s inventive as well, able to figure out a work-around if something isn’t going as planned. Konnor is also musical. And it brought great happiness to this Mimi when she first realized he could definitely carry a tune and stay on pitch.

Konnor began talking early. As a Mimi who babysat Konnor every week, one of the highlights of time spent in the car was having all sorts of conversations about absolutely everything as we drove around. Those conversations with him back then and now continue to be treasured.

Double Digits

So, what’s the significance of recognizing the 10th birthday as something special? To me, it’s just a realization that the child is growing up. He or she is starting to leave behind his young childhood and enter into a new phase of growth. Physical growth for sure. But growth in other important areas as well.

A ten-year-old begins to see themselves as a separate entity. An individual. Still very much dependent on parents and other important people in his or her life, but able to form opinions and learn to make wise choices. Able to recognize their value. Able to begin forward-thinking and planning.

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s in the works.

But besides the child starting to figure out these things, the adults in that child’s life begin seeing it as well.

So, turning 10 to me is very important; indeed, something to be celebrated.

The Big Celebration

With Konnor, Greg and I began the tradition of taking each 10-year old grandchild on a mini-vaca to someplace we know they will love. For Konnor that was easy: the beach and Kennedy Space Center. And neither disappointed!

We had great fun at Cocoa Beach where the water was 85 degrees—the same as the air! There was an afternoon swim and beach play, but even better was the evening swim as twilight approached. Gorgeous hues of pink and orange filled the sky as Konnor enjoyed the waves. It was so peaceful and quiet. And my heart was at rest watching my “first” as he frolicked.

Day 2 found us at the Kennedy Space Center. What a wonderful place to visit. There’s something for everyone. And so much of it is hands-on and interactive. Not only will you learn a thing or two, but you’ll have great fun, too.

Happy Birthday My Sweet Grandson

To Konnor: your Mimi and PopPop love you to heaven and back! We love you more than you will ever know. We love you fully and completely. You bring such happiness to our lives and fill us with joy unspeakable. Our hearts burst with love for you. And we delight in who you are right now and who you are becoming.

So glad we got to celebrate this very important, very special “turning double digits” day with you. Happy, happy 10th birthday, Konnor!

Mimi

Well, that was a fun night!

Something didn’t seem right.

A few weeks back our normally quiet evening took a little detour. Greg was working in the office and I was on the sofa resting in between loads of laundry. I know the sounds my washer makes and something just didn’t seem right to me. In fact, it sounded very “un-right.”

I yelled for the hubster.

Quickly jumping to my feet, I raced to the laundry room where I was met with a floor filled with water, LOTS of water. And I could see the water was coming from near the wall outlet.

Thinking the faucets had gone bad, I tried to turn them off. But no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn’t budget. Now, on top of everything else, I’m mad at myself for never having tested them before. Meanwhile, the flood continued so I did the next best thing. I yelled for hubby to come.

Greg to the rescue.

Greg saw right away the real problem. It had nothing to do with the faucets; it was the drain hose. It had come out of the wall outlet and was laying behind the washer dumping all the dirty rinse water onto the floor.

While he shut off the machine (I hadn’t thought of that!!!), I began gathering towels from everywhere, trying desperately to sop up the water that was now in my hallway.

But there was a lot of water so Greg remembered the shop vac up in the attic. It does a great job with water so he retrieved it would work much better than the towels. But the thing wouldn’t work. (Murphy’s law my friends, Murphy’s law.)

All is well.

So, we made do with the towels, eventually got the water cleaned up, and started doing a few loads of the dirty towels.

And really, other than a little inconvenience and a lot more laundry, the whole thing wasn’t that big a deal. I was chill throughout and could even laugh about it. And I actually felt blessed that it had happened while Greg was home as he did the lion’s share of the work.

I learned a valuable lesson.

In this particular situation, I reacted quickly to the problem but in my haste made an assumption that turned out to be wrong. Had I spent an extra moment to really look at what was happening, I might have seen the water problem was actually with the drain hose.

In this case, and with Greg’s help, we were able to quickly make the fix and get things back to normal. But I have (hopefully) learned a good lesson: that sometimes it is actually better to take an extra moment to give yourself time to make a correct assessment.

“Many times, what we perceive as an error or failure is actually a gift. And eventually we find that lessons learned from that discouraging experience prove to be of great worth.”
Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway

How about you? Any stories in your lives where a lesson learned came as a result of something going wrong?

Mimi

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