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Eternal Beauty

Recently I enjoyed lunch out with my hubby and my dad. Lunch itself was the reward after lots of errand running. The restaurant was barely busy which for us was just wonderful. We took our time and enjoyed being together. In honor of seeing my dad, I wore a bracelet and necklace set he and Mom had given me a few years ago.

About the time we dropped Dad back at his place, I realized my bracelet was gone. The necklace was there, but not the bracelet. I didn’t panic but made a thorough search (or two or three) of my purse and the car. I retraced my steps to Dad’s apartment twice. Still no bracelet.

When I began adding up all the places we had been it became overwhelming but Greg agreed we needed to go back to each one. Since I had also been to Publix and CVS which are fairly close to Dad, I called and spoke to someone at Publix who assured me the bracelet had not been turned in.

So, we began our hunt, starting at the farthest point and working our way back. After four stops we ended up back at Red Lobster but despite a thorough search we did not find the bracelet. We continued toward home with a stop at CVS where we verified the bracelet was not there. That left only one place and despite the earlier conversation with Publix, we decided to head over anyway so we could look through the aisles.

And sure enough, it was there. Someone had turned it in. And while the person answering the phone earlier didn’t know it was there, it was indeed safely in a drawer at the Customer Service counter. I had to laugh at the irony because Publix was closest to my Dad’s place but when the rep told me it wasn’t there an hour earlier we drove to all the other places first.

Would I have survived if I hadn’t found the bracelet? Certainly. After all, it’s just jewelry. Yes, a gift, yes from my parents, but it has no lasting eternal value. And while I’m delighted to have it back, I was reminded of the verses in 1 Peter 3:3-4:

Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful. Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.

Don’t you love the way that’s written? And it’s exactly what I hope to show the world…not an outward beauty that can be fleeting but the inward beauty of belonging to God and resting in His assurance of peace and eternal life.

How about you? Where does your beauty come from?

Mimi

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Prickly or Peachy…Being Perfected in God’s Love

One of the things I enjoy doing on my somewhat daily walks through my community is to observe: people, cars, landscaping, etc. I find it so fascinating to see how common things are used so differently from place to place.

On today’s walk I picked up yet another pine cone. We have many different pine trees and the pine cones are just as different. And they all appeal to me. But today I picked up a closed one and immediately was pricked with the unopened spikes. To add insult to that, sap smeared all over my hands that several washings with soap have yet to remove. Hmmppfff. Not so nice is it.

Compare that to my other two pretty, opened pine cones that I found last week. I was thinking how much nicer they are…and yet, there’s still something about the one I found today that draws me to it.

And finally, of course, there’s my pine cone wreath which I’ve shared with you before. A completely different use of them, that resulted in something unique and beautiful.

Like the pine cones, people are different. Some are prickly; they just rub you the wrong way. Others are sticky; their negativity is hard to remove and seems to stay with you. Some are open as if to say I’ll happily share my life with you. And others are somewhat open meaning they’ll be transparent to the degree they are comfortable with. Others seems to already have been put to a unique use and they look pretty and inviting.

And to throw in a little twist, I present you with a peach. Smooth, inviting, sweet-smelling, delicious inside, tender…all in all a perfect fruit. Of course, there is that large pit you have to deal with!

All that to say, God doesn’t call us to be loners. Despite our many differences, despite our personality traits that can be off-putting to others, despite that our outside may not in any way reflect what’s truly going on inside, we’re called together. To love one another. To counsel one another. To bear one another’s burdens. To rejoice with each other and to mourn with each other. Most of all, to love one another.

It may not be easy to throw your arms around a prickly pine cone of a person, but that hug is probably just what they need. And you may be rebuffed if you see a somewhat open pine cone of a person only to find out they’re willing to share only so much of their lives. And beware the peach. They may seem fine on the outside and you may be drawn to them but remember, even they have large pits inside they’re dealing with.

Let’s be willing to share our lives with each other in big ways, in small ways…but all with the love of Christ. Not only will it bless those other pine cones and peaches, but you’ll be blessed as well.

Dear friends, let us continuously love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

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

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