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Out with the old and in with the new!

(Originally published December 30, 2015)

What’s Mimi up to with those trash cans? you might be thinking. Well, Orange County, Florida recently switched things up a bit. Beginning January 1 we go from twice weekly trash pick-up with regular old trash cans to once weekly pick-ups in huge trash cans on wheels.

Change is not always easy…

…and Orange County has been trying their best to get us ready. Lots of info came our way throughout the fall along with two new rolling containers (one for trash, one for recycling). Each household has received specific instructions on exactly how and when to use them, too.

So we’re in for some change: new pick-up days, larger containers that hold a lot of stuff (yay) but that also take up a lot of room in the garage (boo), and while currently a green container holds recyclables, the new ones are blue. (I betcha lots of recyclables are going to end up in the wrong container for a while.)

There’s been a little griping here and there but no doubt things will work themselves out over time and soon the old ways will fade away, replaced by the new system.

At the start of the new year, some of us may be desperately looking for something new—a new adventure, a new job, a fresh start while others may be lamenting change and just as desperate to hold on to the familiar.

On any given day I may lay claim to any of the above thoughts but as Greek philosopher Heraclitus states “There is nothing permanent except change.” While I can argue that some things don’t change such as God’s love and provision for us, his statement with a little tongue in cheek drives home a good point.

My prayer.

So, my prayer for the coming year is that I will treasure what has been a blessing in my life, hold tight to precious memories, and at the same time I will boldly and courageously accept new challenges and look forward to what God has in store.

Blessings and love to all.

Mimi

Jesus, where are you?

Christmas 1991. If you ask me to tell you something about that particular Christmas, I’ll come up empty. The best I can do is use my kids as a reference and see if that triggers any memories.

Tim was 12 and Kate 11. That means 5th and 6th grades. Hmm, what else? I’m sure I can pull out pictures which will jog some memories. But no matter what job I held, no matter what church we attended, and no matter what was going on in the world, it must have been a crazy busy year. And it must have really gotten to me.

Why you ask?

Because I wrote a poem. I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night adding more and more things to my mental to-do list…the Christmas to-do list. The list that would ensure Christmas would be perfect for all my loved ones.

This list was supposed to keep me on track and stress-free. Instead, the opposite happened. I became filled with stress over how much there seemed to do. And in the wee hours of that morning, after this realization struck me, another reality presented itself ever so clearly. In the middle of trying so hard to have a wonderful Christmas for everyone, I had completely missed the reason for the holiday…Jesus.

Jesus was nowhere to be found.

Shopping, baking, concerts, get-togethers all took up time. They became the centerpiece of all my efforts. I was stressed out, tired, melancholy, and certainly not enjoying this beautiful time of year. I didn’t even understand why I was feeling this way. But for some reason, I put a pen in my hand and began writing. I don’t think I had written a poem since grade school. But I wrote and wrote and what you see below is what I wrote that night in 1991.

I poured my heart out. I had been so busy, that I took my eyes off of Jesus, the one who gave me new life. The one I was supposed to be celebrating. With tears streaming down my face, I realized I was the problem. Jesus wasn’t missing. I had left him out.

I learned a lot that night.

Christmases are not always perfect. And I don’t always do the best job at keeping Jesus at the center. But I learned that it’s up to me to find him. And the truth is that he’s right there. I had just covered him up with my to-do list. Once I could set it aside, I was able to uncover the greatest gift of all.

My prayer for you this year, is the one I have for me and my family as well: that amidst the Christmas joy we share with others, we will clearly be able to experience the joy of Jesus.

Jesus, Where Are You?

In the still of the night my mind cluttered with thoughts

Of the approaching season and the gifts to be bought.

There are lists to be made and things to be done,

Never enough time—certainly no fun.

 

Jumbled thoughts steal my time and my plans go awry.

I meant to be with You Lord—I did! my heart cries.

Yet somehow the busy-ness and crowds came right in

And took up the space where You should have been.

 

“Jesus, where are you?” my heart longs to shout.

Do You have anything to do with all that’s about?

We say it’s because of You that we rush and we spend

Vast amounts of money, much more than we intend.

 

A gift for Sally and Susan and John.

One more for Mary and Alice and Tom.

Quick bake a cookie, trim a tree, tie a bow.

Christmas will be here before you know.

 

Christmas day dawns, everything is all set.

The presents are bought—wrapped all pretty and yet

As I look through each room and the preparations I’ve done.

There’s just one thing still missing—Jesus, God’s Son!

 

It seems I made time for the pies, gifts, and friends.

But what it boils down to right in the end

In the midst of the rush and the gifts and the carols

I left out the One whose birth angels herald.

 

It is this One who the season should be about.

Let’s forget all the rest and His praises shout!

Yes, the presents are fine and the food is great, too,

But Jesus was born—for me and for you!

 

Let’s remember His birth at Christmas this year

Let’s remember God’s gift to us—Jesus is here!

Let’s not get caught up in all the ways of the Earth

But rejoice that in Jesus we have second birth!

Mimi

A penguin project to brighten your day.

Each year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my loved ones come to our house where we all enjoy our annual Family Fun Craft Day (FFCD).

It entails crafting, sharing a meal, whiffle baseball or soccer in the backyard, cornhole, and often times a swim in the community pool. Even Poppy, our family’s patriarch at age 93, joins in the fun and at day’s end we finish by decorating his apartment door in his nearby residence.

The crafts are up to me and since I’m not a crafty person by nature, it’s often a bit of trial and error. Ideas are gathered, supplies purchased, and a week or two prior to FFCD, Greg will assemble the men’s project while I tackle the ladies’—just to be sure we have everything we need and to figure out if the proposed crafts actually are doable.

This year for the men: Project Penguin

The men this year are making a light bulb penguin. I’ve seen these for years and it turns out they’re relatively easy to make. And if you know you’re going to be making them, just save your burned-out traditional light bulbs throughout the year and you can cross that item off the supply list. Pictures and instructions are below. Give them a try and be sure to let me know how they turn out. (You can attach a hanging cord to turn them into tree ornaments or skip the cord and make them in several sizes to display as a penguin family. The ones we made this year are rather traditional, but you can get creative with different hats or outfits. Have fun!)

And be sure to share your own family Christmas traditions in the comment section below.

Light Bulb Penguins

Brought to you courtesy of: 66 Craft Happy Summer on YouTube (https://youtu.be/7HrmbGBOEMA)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Light bulb
  • Wooden (or cardboard) heart for feet (a little bigger than 1” square)
  • Red pom-pom (1)
  • Googly eyes (2)
  • Orange triangle for nose (we made ours out of felt)
  • Glue gun/glue
  • Ribbon for scarf
  • Thinner ribbon for hanger (if using as hanging ornament)
  • Paint: white, black, orange, red

Creating the Penguin:

  1. Paint feet orange and set aside.
  2. On light bulb, outline the front face/belly and paint white. Two coats.
  3. Paint the rest black. Two coats.
  4. Glue light bulb onto the feet.
  5. Paint the top socket red for hat. While drying, glue on two googly eyes.
  6. Glue on a triangular piece of orange felt for nose.
  7. Add ribbon around neck for scarf and glue into place. (One drop will do.)
  8. Glue red pom-pom on top for hat topper. If making into a tree ornament, first glue on thin ribbon for hanging. Then add the pom-pom.

Great results or better luck next time?

How did your penguin turn out? Comment and include a picture. Would love to see what you came up with. Our son-in-law Chris got creative and made a University of Florida penguin. Check out his right hand. Very cute.

Mimi

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. And since there is so much to be thankful for, I thought it would be fun to do an acrostic to share with you just some of the things that bring me joy and create a grateful heart.

 

G          God loves me!

I           Indwelling Holy Spirit who regenerates, counsels, teaches, leads.

V          Victory that is available to me over sin and temptation.

E          Eternal life because of what God provided through His precious son.

 

T          The Body of Christ—sisters and brothers who walk with me through life.

H          Happiness and joy because He lives in me.

A          Assurance of God’s love and provision for me.

N            Never ending grace—because boy, do I need it!

K          Kindness of the Lord shown to me every single day.

S          Salvation as a free gift from a beautiful Savior.

 

How about you? Share your thanksgiving thoughts with a comment or perhaps around your dinner table Thursday.

And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:17 The Message)

Mimi

I’m proud to be an American!

In just a few days the nation will be celebrating the anniversary of our independence. I thought it fitting that I share Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. It’s just one of those songs that brings you to your feet in joyous acclamation for the freedoms we enjoy every day in this great land. Feel free to turn up the volume and sing along!

Happy(?) Father’s Day

How did you spend Father’s Day yesterday?

I’m sure many had special get-togethers to honor their dads. For me, I typically get to spend the day with my dad because we only live a few miles apart. But this year, we got to enjoy the day with my brother Rich and his family as well while on a little vacay in New York. Since Rich rarely gets to spend Father’s Day with our dad, this was very special indeed.

But while Father’s Day for many is a fun-filled day or activities or appreciation, I’m also certain some dads and their kids are separated by miles so cards and phone calls have to do. And I’m equally sure there are many households without any celebrations or remembrances at all simply because there isn’t a dad present due to death, divorce, or abandonment.

We all have a heavenly Father.

If you are one of those without a dad to honor, there is good, good news. Because you still have a wonderful Father who loves you beyond words.

Don’t believe me? Well, read the following excerpts from a crosswalk.com article by Cindi McMenamin entitled 10 Ways God is the Perfect Father (in Case Yours Wasn’t). You can CLICK HERE to read the entire article on Crosswalk.

You will never have to earn his love:  You may have felt that you had to earn your father’s love and respect by accomplishing great things to make him proud of you. God is not a father like that. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

He has your very best in mind:  It’s natural for humans to be selfish and consider themselves before anyone else. So, if you had a dad who was unselfish and willing to sacrifice his own comfort for yours, you had a gift – a glimpse of what Your Heavenly Father is like. Scripture tells us, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” ( Romans 8:32).

In Matthew 7:11, Jesus said: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God not only has the ability to give you anything you desire (as long as it’s good for you), He also knows your situation down the road and what will be best for you in the long run, as well as eternally.

He knows you intimately:  It is one of the deepest needs of the human race. To be intimately known. Yet sometimes we hide who we really are out of fear of rejection or that someone may lose interest in us when they discover what we are really like, warts and all. Scripture says your Heavenly Father knows you intimately.

In Psalm 139, David said, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3). God knows your thoughts before you think them, your words before you say them, and your actions before you carry them out. And with all that intimate knowledge of you, He continues to love you like the perfect Father.

Parting thoughts…

If you found yourself a little down yesterday because your own dad has passed away, I hope you were able to savor sweet memories. But if you don’t have a dad due to something else, my prayer is that you’ll be able to delight in knowing you have an absolutely amazing Heavenly Father who holds you in the palm of His hands and who loves you beyond measure.

Mimi

Memorial Day: A day when we remember.

 

Like many of you, I tend to enjoy our Monday holidays as a three-day weekend. A time for friends and family, for get-togethers, cookouts, down time. But these holidays are celebrated for a reason. And Memorial Day is an important one. It’s a remembrance holiday.

Memorial Day was first widely observed in May 1868. The celebration commemorated the sacrifices of the Civil War and the proclamation was made by General John A Logan. Following the proclamation, participants decorated graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

Originally known as Decoration Day, it began in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. It has become a  day of celebration in honor of those who died in all America’s wars, as well as those who are Veterans and current members of the US military.

While I have no known relatives who died while in service, I am eternally grateful for the sacrifices of so many…those who served and those who gave their lives for my freedom. My words are small but from my heart. Thank you.