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Prepping for Irma

When we moved to Florida in 1999, we were looking for an adventure. Had no idea at the time that one of those adventures would be experiencing hurricanes.

Quite honestly, I never thought central Florida was a hurricane prone area until 2004 when four roared through our area (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne) with devastating results for many. We lost two large trees, some screen house panels, and most of our fence but our neighbors lost roofs, entire screen houses, and their house interiors.

Tarps dotted the rooftops for months and the house next to us was destroyed and empty for over a year until it could be repaired. After Charley roared through we walked outside where it was eerily quiet. That’s when we discovered the oak trees lining the boulevard were down, one after the other. It was a poignant reminder of the power of a storm.

Having gone through those four, I planned for Irma. Or so I thought. Water…check.  Flashlights…check.  Clean laundry…check. Extra food…check. Freezers stuffed with extra ice…check. Bathtub filled…check. Cars gassed up and extra propane purchased…check.

Then yesterday as we got out the flashlights I realized I hadn’t purchased batteries. Stores were completely out of them. What to do?

I posted my need for D-batteries on our community Facebook page and within a few minutes someone called to offer me four of theirs. And things like that continue to occur not just for me but for others. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Then this morning, while looking through some pictures on my phone, I noticed something about my hurricane prep: it centered A LOT on food! One look at the above photo will show you what I mean. Three of the photos clearly involve food: the giant apple fritter for hurricane comfort food brought by a neighbor, Meyer lemons I picked from my tree so they wouldn’t get blown away in the winds, and then there’s Greg and I eating ice cream cones because when they power goes out they will melt, so it’s either eat them, or they go to waste.

Yet, while I was concentrating on food, my 6-year old grandson was out doing good: he was rescuing animals. Note his little toad in the box. At least one of us has their priorities straight! (Just a little Irma humor before the big event. But also, a reminder that we should never lose sight of what’s important.)

Losing a freezer of food is no big deal. My luscious lemons being tossed in the wind…who cares. But a little boy helping animals…now that’s the right thing to do. Just like my neighbor responding to my inquiring for batteries, helping others, looking for a need to fill, those are noble pursuits.

Irma’s finally going to make her way here tonight and if the predictions are correct, we’ll see 80-90 MPH gusts of wind and 8-12” of rain. That’s a lot for this area. Power will be knocked out and some people will need to go into survival mode.

At this point, we trust in God and are thankful for family, friends, and neighbors who are ready to pitch in.

Mimi

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Somebody just turned 9 last week.

I became a grandma on August 8, 2008 when Konnor Finn was born. But when he started talking I became Mimi…a name I love to be called.

Last week was Konnor’s 9th birthday and what a day it was. He awoke to birthday love notes throughout the house, decorations galore, and a table filled with gifts and cards (one especially “sweet” gift was his Skittles shirt created for him by his brother Callan). His day began with a sprinkle donut, included an early stop to Toys R Us to spend that birthday money, then a trip to the wax museum, and a colossal “ice cream sandwich” that was enough for everyone to share. The fun continued all day as he enjoyed each gift and being the honored Birthday Boy.

     

I know you can all relate in how quickly those 9 years flew by. He was just a tiny little baby. And while we could see family resemblances, beyond that we all wondered about his future: what kind of personality he would have, what talents and tendencies he would display, his interests, whether he would be tall like his dad, if he would have an interest in sports or music, etc.

Nine years later we have a really good idea. Konnor is a high energy kid who loves to learn. Give him a fact and he’ll remember it forever. He is very mechanically inclined and most of his toys center on mechanics in one form or another: Legos, anything you can build, magnets, science experiments, RC cars. He can be extremely focused when something draws his attention such as his recent 6-hour “build” of a Lego pinball machine. Gathering his Legos, he found a video, followed it and figured out not only how the outside should look, but how the inside needed to function so the pinball machine would actually work. And it does; beautifully!

Not being mechanically inclined myself, I find this trait in Konnor amazing. I can follow a recipe or a set of directions, but to take the time to figure out how something works and spend the untold hours putting it together, sometimes doing things over and over again to make that happen…well, that is just about beyond me. But it’s not beyond our Konnor Finn.

That determination and ability to dig in to accomplish something you put your mind to will serve Konnor well and this Mimi is excited to see where it will lead in Konnor’s future.

Being a mom to my two wonderful kids was fulfilling and fun. I loved watching them learn each day and discover who they were, what they could accomplish and all about our amazing world. As a grandma, I get to enjoy it all over again, and I find I love it just as much…maybe more. Because this time I get to watch my adult kids have the same sense of wonder as they raise their children and observe them grow and change as they become who God created them to be.

Happy birthday, my precious Konnor. I love you to Heaven and back!

Mimi

Before…After (God is Doing a New Thing)

My precious sister-in-law gave me a wonderful idea. Just look at the photo above. She took a used, empty can and transformed it into a vase sitting in her kitchen window. I loved the idea and that particular can so much that I actually purchased the same brand of crushed tomatoes just to have one so I could do the same. And today I did.

After making spaghetti sauce yesterday, I carefully removed the can’s lid, and thoroughly washed out the can, hoping to eliminate the tomato sauce as much as possible. Then it sat empty. And it looked pretty. Or maybe I should say it looked pretty good all by itself.

Today, I happened to do a little gardening and pulled out a small begonia plant that just wasn’t happy where I had planted it. I was on my way to tossing it out when I saw the can and voila! I was hit with the idea to use that can and try to nurse the begonia back to health. So that’s what I did.

And while the pink doesn’t necessary go with the color scheme of the tomato can, the can itself looks so much nicer now, doesn’t it!

Not only is my crushed tomato can pretty on its own, it’s now looking even better, and it’s serving a great purpose.

And right away, I could see our wonderful Father in Heaven using this as an illustration. He sees us as a vessel and we look pretty good. We serve some good purposes. But then He does a little cleaning and a little repurposing, puts us to work possibly in a whole new way, and just like that, we are re-beautified (my word), given a new assignment, and can radiantly portray God’s glory.

Job 8:7 reminds us “Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly.”  And Isaiah 43:19 states that we should “Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?”

Great reminders that God uses empty vessels willing to yield themselves to the Potter’s hands. He is never finished with us. He is always prepared to use us in new ways. And whether or not we feel insignificant like the empty can, our end will increase greatly. Hallelujah, thank you, Lord.

Yup, all that from an empty tomato can. I just love how the Lord talks to me…in clear, every day illustrations. How about you? How does God speak to you? Please share.

Mimi

Love Addie Style

Love Addie Style

When our daughter-in-law asked us a few months back to have Addison (who will turn 6 in another month) come stay with us several days this summer, I thought we were doing their family a favor. Little did I realize that the favor was to us and brought with it unbelievable joy.

For those who follow my Facebook or Instagram account, you saw the numerous pictures I enjoyed posting. Our adventures were varied and so much fun. We made 3-D paper fish origami style, we baked cupcakes from scratch, made pizza from scratch that we cooked outside on the grill, enjoyed a sleepover with the boy cousins, rode bikes, collected numerous snails from the huge amounts eating my hibiscus, played nighttime putt-putt, visited the Clermont splash pad (so much fun), played on the beachfront next to the splashpad, swam every single day for hours, did some shopping with Auntie Kate, visited with Poppy (my dad) where we swam and ate ice cream, played many games of Uno (and may I just say she’s definitely a card shark!), collected palm fronds and painted them to look like boats complete with cardboard smoke stacks, learned tongue twisters…oh, and did I mention many movies including Little Mermaid TWICE!

Every minute of it was precious. Addison is so smart and would amaze us with her conversational skills as well as her understanding of innuendo. She’s funny and could crack jokes with the best of them.

And while I loved it all, most of all I enjoyed making multiple trips into her bedroom each night just to watch her sleep. There’s just something about a sleeping child that warms your heart. You see the complete trust in being able to fall asleep at a place she’s never stayed at by herself. And you look at your granddaughter and see all the promise and possibility of what is to come. Sleep came easily to me those five nights she was here because my heart was so full.

And such a special thank you to my precious daughter who thought to take such a nice picture of me and Addison. I’m usually the one snapping the pics so to have a picture of the two of us, and one that’s just so good…well, that, too, is a gift from the heart.

The Bible reminds us that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). Which means with my own grown children and spouses, and my four grands, I’m very richly rewarded indeed.

Mimi

Grandpa Love

Relationships are fascinating. While most people love their family members equally, at times some of those relationships seem to have a little something extra, something special. It’s hard to explain but precious to see.

Case in point my niece Jacquie and my dad, her grandpa. My dad has six grandkids and he loves them all deeply but there’s always been just a little something extra special with Jacquie. And recently it was so clearly demonstrated by the photo above.

As we prepared to fly home from New York, I was busy in the kitchen making sandwiches for both the lunch and dinner we would be having while flying back. Jacquie joined me in the prep but said she wanted to make the sandwich for her grandpa…a special sandwich. And she certainly did.

My dad loves liverwurst. And while it makes my skin crawl to think about eating it, I’ll happily make him a sandwich with it. But no, Jacquie wanted to do it herself. She wanted to make a special sandwich for her grandpa that would have one of his favorite ingredients on it. So, she did. And to top it off, she labeled the baggie with her pet name for him. And added the heart!

Looking at that photo means a lot to me and it meant a lot to him on our travel day. That labeled bag brings a smile and expresses love. She took the time, chose the right ingredient, made it on the bread he likes with the mayo he likes, and went the extra step to write his name and include the heart. Doesn’t that say love to you?

Such a simple thing really. It didn’t take a lot of time and cost nothing but it was a gift of love, a gift of great value because it came from her heart.

Jacquie’s gift to her Geepa is a great example for us to follow. Sometimes the smallest gesture can have this most impact.

Today’s challenge is to look around and see who you can bless, who you can share your love with. Doesn’t need to be showy or expensive or take a lot of time…just something that comes from your heart.

Mimi

Maybe someone should have told me…

As you know, we recently traveled to New York for our twin nephews’ high school graduation. That travel involved an airplane and rental car.

The plane ride was a piece of cake. Beginning with the special tickets to skip the long security line right down to an uneventful arrival in Albany. Luggage in hand we arrived at the car rental counter to complete paperwork, then off we went on the short walk to get the car.

As we arrived at the kiosk a very nice young person (they all look young to me these days), pointed out my car. She didn’t look at the paperwork and told me not to worry about the inspection when I saw some minor scratches as all they cared about were misplaced bumpers and major damage. There were no instructions, safety check, or review of the car features.

I was driving that day as hubby had left his driver’s license at home. It was a struggle at the airport to get through Security without it so we decided we wouldn’t push our luck by having him do any driving while in New York.

Since the car was a Chrysler 200 which I was quite familiar with as it had been my Dad’s car, I thought “no problem.” Luggage stowed in truck. Check. People loaded in car. Check. Driver in place, engine on, car shifted into gear…check, check, NO CHECK. What?

Where was the gear shift? My hand immediately went to the middle. No shifter sticking up. Then it flew to the steering wheel. No shifter lever there either. Huh? I started looking everywhere and nothing was standing out as a gear shift.

I was about to go get the nice young lady to point it out to me when I looked down at the middle and saw a round knob. Could it be?

Yup, it was. And it had the PRNDL label to prove it. With hesitancy, I turned the knob to D and sure enough the car moved into gear and off I drove.

With such a different set up, I would have thought the car rental rep would have taken a few seconds to point it out to me. And that few seconds would have saved me a few minutes of angst looking for something that to me was anything but obvious. (I have to admit, it was odd to me the entire weekend. It just felt “wrong” to turn a knob to change gears.)

Sometimes life is like that. We’re expecting one thing to happen and something else takes place. We expect things to be normal and events to unfold just like they have been for years until the unexpected steps in and turns our world upside down.

When that happens, we can experience all sorts of possible outcomes. Here are just a few for thought: I can panic as I nearly did in looking for the shifting lever that I knew had to be there but seemed to be hiding; I can call upon someone to help as I was about to do; I can reason my way through which is what I ended up doing as I knew there had to be a way to shift gears.

We will always be confronted with new challenges; it’s just a part of our life experiences. But it’s how we respond to those challenges that will determine whether or not we walk in victory.

My gear shift story was silly but many of our daily challenges are difficult and life-altering. Let’s resolve NOT to panic. It does no good at all.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Is reason a solution? It can be and often it is.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:1-6)

And how about asking for help? That’s definitely a good one. Yes, if we ask from godly people. And most definitely YES if we seek God directly.

Listen, Lord, to my prayer; hear my cries for help. I call to you in times of trouble, because you answer my prayers. (Psalm 86:6)

As you can see, needing help isn’t the issue. The problem occurs when we put off seeking help or we don’t know where to find it.

Let’s learn to be quick to rely on God and seek His guidance about all else. Next time you find a gear knob instead of a gear shift, you can smile when you realize though it may have caught you off-guard, it certainly hasn’t caught your Heavenly Father off-guard.

Mimi

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