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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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Look up!

Don’t you love these pictures? They are, of course, from our recent encounter with the solar eclipse. No matter who used their special glasses to view this amazing sight, everyone struck the same pose.

But as awesome as it was to see the eclipse (though people in Clermont, FL only had a cloudy sky to view), the reminder to me when looking at this collage of eclipse viewers is that this is what our daily walk with the Lord should be.

Always looking up, looking not toward the sun but instead toward The Son…the One who loves beyond our understanding, the One who gives guidance, the One who has the answers, the One for whom our soul longs.

There was so much excitement for one relatively brief period of time…so much preparation, so much forethought. So much anticipation. Like me, many prepared only to be disappointed that the cloud cover interfered with any possibly viewing. And now we wait, as the next one won’t be until 2024.

But there is no disappointment for those who put their hope in Christ Jesus. And there’s no waiting either. He is with us every moment of every day. No special glasses needed. Just a broken and contrite heart reaching out towards the One who promises to always be with us, to the One who paid a sacrificial price to call us His own, to the One who is calling us His own.

This Labor Day, are you weary of your earthly efforts? Are you finding that all you work for still doesn’t satisfy the longing in your soul? Then I invite you to seek out the Christ, the Messiah, and discover He indeed is the Answer you are searching for.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

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

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

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