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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

Memorial Day: A day to remember…and give thanks.

Memorial Day is a day on which those who did in active military service are remembered.

This important holiday has evolved to include honoring all who have served, whether they have died or are still with us. I love when I see someone in uniform and then hear a voice thank them for their service. In all my years, this is something relatively recent and it’s beautiful. Our gratitude is well-placed when we realize their sacrifice keeps us safe.

But just the words Memorial Day brings up memories and thanks for many things. I think we would do well to maintain a spirit of gratitude daily.

The Bible speaks to this often. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1). Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

I could go on and on. But you catch my drift.

There is something wonderful about giving thanks. It centers our thoughts on God foremost. As our provider we acknowledge Him and His perfection. It takes our thoughts off ourselves and our issues. Giving thanks acknowledges our trust in God to care for us. And it reminds us of all our blessings.

So today I share with you just a few things I’m so very thankful for.

  • For our precious Lord who chose me before the world began to be a part of his family.
  • For God’s wonderful care and provision throughout my life.
  • For the love of my life, Greg, who I met while attending Nyack College 44 years ago!
  • For the beautiful family I have been given. I’m grateful my dad is still with us at age 91 and that I live close to my kids and grands.
  • For provision (roof over my head, food in my tummy, clothes on my back, etc.).
  • For godly mentors and amazing friends who have had a part in enriching my life. You know who you are!!!

There is so much more to be grateful for but in just thinking about the above and the “more” my eyes are filled with tears. My heart is filled with gratitude. And my life is filled with joy.

Mimi

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

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

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