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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

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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

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

Thankfully, God Looks at the Heart

While taking a walk today, I saw this in the sky. Kind of looks like a funny cloud, doesn’t it? But I know differently and for that, it made me smile. It made me happy. And it served to remind me of God’s love.

So how could a funny cloud do all that? Because I know what is really going on beyond what you see. About 30 minutes earlier I had seen some letters in the sky put there by a local skywriter. On a day with no breeze, the letters stay up quite a while, enabling you to clearly see a reminder of God’s love. With today being breezy, the letters were barely visible and for only a brief period of time, but having lived in the area since 1999 I knew the message beyond what I was actually seeing. And that’s why I smiled.

Here’s a typical message written in our skies: Jesus Loves U. (Want to know more? Here’s a LINK to an article from 2011 about the Holy Smoke pilots.)

As I walked this afternoon and saw the “funny cloud” I was indeed smiling because I knew in reality it was a message of hope and inspiration. It didn’t matter to me that the message was obscured because I knew what wasn’t showing. And this reminded me of how our Lord sees us.

We often look at our lives, look at our actions and judge ourselves harshly. We are unable to see potential; we instead see ourselves through obscured sight. But the Lord sees clearly and He sees someone He loves and has a plan for. He sees who we are in Him and through Him.

Whether or not you have a skywriter in your area posting reminders of God’s tremendous love for you, please be encouraged to know:

  • You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. (1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message)
  • For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 New Living Translation)
  • But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 New International Version)

Anyone struggling to see yourself as God sees you? Please let me know. It would be my privilege to pray for you.

Mimi

Sharing the gift of hospitality.

Have you ever had a wonderful experience that was the result of outstanding hospitality? More than a great hotel stay, I’m thinking of when you stay in someone’s home and they just go out of their way to welcome you and then do everything in their power to ensure a relaxing, comfy stay in their home. We have been blessed over the years with several friends who really know how to do that.

Our dear friends John and Marie, are part of that special list of friends and they were our destination after our recent Chattanooga trip.

After a hectic five days of driving and sightseeing, we so looked forward to chillaxin’ with friends in the beautiful mountains of Murphy, North Carolina. The two-hour drive there was spectacular as we drove the Cherokee National Forest and along the Ocoee Lakes and tributaries. I kept snapping picture after picture and couldn’t stop exclaiming how breathtaking it was.

Upon arrival in Murphy, we were greeted with the mouth-watering aroma of homemade bread just out of the oven. Hugs and cheek kisses followed with an invitation to settle in and put our feet up. Which we did. Then we were off for an enjoyable picnic on their boat as we toured the lake and found a good spot to “set a spell.” Back at their home we literally put our feet up as we sat on the deck enjoying the sounds of the coming autumn while drifting off for catnaps every now and then.

John and Marie have the kind of home and loving presence that just makes you feel like it really is okay to curl up on the furniture, wander off to do your own thing, or help yourself to something in the refrigerator.

And then there are the little touches like having a new toothbrush and toothpaste in the bathroom in case you forgot yours. So very thoughtful.

Of course, the meals at their house are always DELISH. Marie loves to cook and it seems in no time flat she whips up a scrumptious meal which is beautifully served on “the good dishes” complete with cloth napkins.

After a delightful afternoon boat ride and that delicious dinner, we enjoyed a few hours on the deck around the fire pit. With toasty tootsies, we gabbed for a few hours before it was time to head to bed.

Though we cut our two-night visit short due to the anticipated rain from Hurricane Nate and wanting to get home before it hit, they were completely understanding and made sure we had a hot breakfast before we hit the road.

Hospitality is mentioned in the Bible and these two truly have that gift. Though they took great care of us and our physical needs, I think what means the most is that Both John and Marie genuinely love having people in their home. It’s not an inconvenience at all. In fact, it’s a joy to them. And when your hosts are enjoying themselves, it flows right over to their guests, too.

1 Peter 4:8-10 reminds us of the importance of hospitality: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

Thanks, John and Marie. You were a precious part of our recent vacation. You can count on a return visit in the future!

Mimi

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