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Something Beautiful

While visiting some friends last week, the wife excitedly showed me what the hubster had recently completed. A beautiful inlayed wood cutting board.

Most interesting is that the cutting board is made from wood scraps. Using various leftover pieces such as pine, oak, mahogany, he creates one-of-a-kind masterpieces. It will be used for years and only need a little mineral oil or an occasional light sanding to keep it in tip top shape.

Unlike my stained and discolored plastic cutting boards which are kept hidden in a cabinet, this one will be kept on display for all to see.

I love the story behind the cutting board because it reminds me of how God views us. We may see ourselves as worthless piles of scrap wood but our Creator and Father sees way beyond that. He sees us through eyes of love.

God ever so carefully and lovingly gets to work.

He doesn’t require anything top of the line, but instead uses what we have to offer. Then, sanding off the rough parts, fitting the bits and pieces together, putting on some new color, and a protective top coat, He’s now ready to showcase His beautiful new creation. Out of the old, comes something precious and beautiful to Him.

The Bible reminds us we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), that we can forget the former things because God is doing a new thing in us (Isaiah 43:18-19), that we are being renewed each day (2 Corinthians 4:16-17), and that God sees everything He makes and calls it good…very good (Genesis 1:31a).

Feeling a bit like scrap wood lately? Roughed up and useless? Don’t despair. God’s got a plan and it’s a good one. As you offer up whatever you have, He’s going to make something beautiful out of it.

Something Beautiful

(Bill Gaither)

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life

If there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And hope for life’s best were the hopes
That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of life
And laid it at the cross.

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion, He understood
All I had to offer him, was brokenness and strife
But He made something, beautiful
Of my life
He made something, beautiful
Of my life

With love…Mimi

Thank you to our many unsung heroes!

During a casual text exchange with my daughter last Wednesday, she happened to mention the flyover about to take place. The National Guard was sending two F-15C’s over several area hospitals to honor health care workers and first responders caring for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Our town’s hospital was on the list and we had about 20 minutes to reach a good viewing spot.

Quickly hopping in the car, we drove to a high point right next to the hospital. But we weren’t the only ones there. My photo doesn’t do it justice but I would assume there were around 75 people. Across the street and around the corner were even more. Young, old, frail—people just came to view the jets and to join in honoring some brave men and women.

Within moments, people began pointing as my husband said “There they are.” The silence of this peaceful day was soon broken as the jets approached. People shielded their eyes from the strong Florida sun, hoping to catch a good glimpse as engines roared overhead.

The actual flyover only lasted a few seconds. The crowd quickly dispersed as silence once again returned. My heart was happy. I loved being a part of this small crowd and feeling as if the very act of seeing the fighter jets helped me be a part of thanking so many people who were giving selflessly of their time. The whole experience was moving and quite heartwarming.

But wait…

It is good and right to honor our health care workers and first responders. But there are so many others involved in this fight also. So many others who deserve a thank-you. Some you see, and some you don’t. City, county, state, and national leaders are working tirelessly. Teachers and students are mastering the virtual environment while parents are supervising distance learning. Technology has enabled connections to be maintained with many having to learn new ways to master this all-important skill.

Numerous, unsung, unnoticed people involved in this fight include scientists, researchers, city workers, grocery store employees, essential businesses, manufacturing and food industry workers. And neighbors. Those who live among us, perhaps right next to us.

Many of these neighbors are sewing masks by the hundreds, some being sold but many simply being given away. Other neighbors are fostering rescue animals to the point that many of the shelters are empty. Some neighbors are checking in with others to ensure their well-being. Others are picking up groceries for those who can’t or shouldn’t leave their homes.

Neighbors are posting encouraging messages on social media while others use it to let people know where they can buy toilet paper, Clorox wipes, or even yeast. They are visiting in driveways in the cool of the evening, sitting six-feet apart but hanging with and encouraging each other. They are walking and biking while they wave and greet others, offering a sweet hello in an otherwise typical, perhaps routine day.

We are in this together.

We truly are all in this together. And all deserve a big shout-out. But today, I especially want to say thank you to all the unsung heroes out there. Those who are overlooked and under-appreciated.

You are vital to us in this time and we see you. We truly see you…and thank you.

Mimi

A phone call makes a world of difference.

A phone call can be like a breath of fresh air. As was the case when my friend recently called me to say Happy Mother’s Day.

I met Helen when she lived in Celebration, Florida, where I was working at the time. We connected immediately, no doubt due to the love and presence of Jesus that radiated from every pore in her body, through her twinkling eyes, in her sweet words, and in her welcoming embrace.

Though she moved up north several years ago, but still stay in touch. Our phone calls may not be frequent but when we talk, it’s like no time at all has passed. And our conversation inevitably turns to our shared love for God.

In Saturday’s conversation, Helen made a comment that was profound. After acknowledging how grateful she was for technology and how during quarantine it has enabled her to stay in touch and “see” her family, she said that the purpose of today’s call was to hear my voice. Texting and email are fine, but she needed to hear me.

I completely understood.

Our adult kids quickly adapted to technology. And we older folk have had to embrace it as well because that’s what our families use to communicate. Texting is the name of the game. Phone calls are rare, often only used to convey an emergency situation or something else super important.

Likewise, a handwritten note is a thing of the past, voicemails are sporadic, and emails…do our kids even write emails other than for work?

Helen went on to say it’s not just that texting is the preferred communication choice, but that younger generations share info in short snippets. Poor grammar and spelling errors are excused, and if emotions are involved, no words needed, just toss in an emoji.

While this type of communication is better than not communicating at all, there are some pitfalls. You miss the joy of simply hearing the voice of a loved one. The older we get, the more meaningful it becomes to hear that voice. It seems many of us, by necessity, have adapted to the younger generation’s choice of brief text messages yet they have not returned the favor by adapting to our need to actually hear them tell us things.

Eliminating conversations also means we lose out on the verbal clues that are picked up not from the words spoken but by the emotion behind them, or by things not said, even by the pauses and silence. These clues are absolutely vital and enable a deeper level of understanding as they bypass the spoken or texted words.

In the last five years of my mom’s life, she wanted to talk to me every day. Because it wasn’t something I yet needed (and therefore didn’t understand) I had to make myself call. I also had to change my attitude if she called more than once a day. It didn’t take long to realize speaking with her daily was a gift not only for her, but for me as well. What I wouldn’t give to hear her voice once again.

While I can’t say if I will ever need a daily phone call, I can say that when my ears hear the voices of my loved ones, everything changes. Joy floods in, my mood is lightened, and my heart feels like I’ve received a warm embrace. At that moment, I know that I know I’m loved and cherished.

So, what’s the message and who am I speaking to?

The message to those younger than me is to stay in touch. Texting is good but throw in a phone call every now and then. We may not say it, but we need to hear your voice. We crave it at times. And hearing it changes everything.

And to folks my age…well, the message is the same. We, too, can rely on texting to show we care or are thinking about someone. It’s easy and quick. And perfect for staying in touch with those younger than us. Phone calls take time, and energy. But let’s remember how important they are and make every effort to call more often.

With ever so much love, Mimi

It’s downright shocking!

As with everyone, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the house these past two months.

And I’ve noticed something. My house has a lot of mirrors: over sinks, near dressers, on the backs of doors, decoratively placed on walls. They’re EVERYWHERE!

Yet, I’m grateful for them all.

The magnified ones ensure no strays are out of place in my eyebrows or on other areas of my face. The brightly lit ones in the bathrooms ensure my teeth are clean and it’s okay to smile. Others provide a once-over helping me see if my outfit is workable. And the few decorative ones bounce light around the house which just makes me happy.

The problem is with some of the larger mirrors on the backs of doors. When I shut those doors, I’m confronted with the truth. I see myself completely; there is no escape. And it can be shocking indeed.

Here’s what I see. My hair is now grey. Instead of pepper with a sprinkling of salt, it’s now salt with a sprinkling of pepper. My saggy eyes I had fixed years ago, are saggy once again. My arms have no fat; instead they have droopy skin that nothing can fix other than surgery. (No thank you.) My legs only look good if I lay on my back and lift them in the air. That way, the flab disappears somewhere in my middle, and what’s left looks pretty darn good. The face is lined and dotted with reminders of a youth with no worries about future sun damage.

But is that all I see?

Thankfully not. I also see a 66-year old woman who is able to look beyond the physical and see some truth. I see a woman who lives a blessed life. I see a child of God who is wise in many areas and still learning in even more. I see a wife to a wonderful man. I see a mom to two outstanding kids who make me proud every minute of every day. I see a Mimi who loves her grands beyond words. I see a daughter who is outrageously blessed to still have her daddy and have him so close by. I see someone who has given of herself but still has more to give. And I see someone who has lived a bunch of years, and who hopes to live a bunch more…saggy skin and all.

It’s easy to look at the outside of something or someone and make an assumption or judgment. We do it to others and we do it to ourselves as well. But today I hope to encourage you, and to remind you that what you see on the outside is rarely a complete picture of what’s on the inside.

That wrinkly old person who shuffles with a cane may be just the person who donates regularly to an organization that feeds kids and their families. The feeble person who no longer leaves their house may be a great prayer warrior praying for you right this minute.

The person in the mirror who you see every day, and think has no value or purpose just because they no longer work, walk a little slower, or hear a little less, is still God’s child and still has a mission for as long as they remain on earth.

God has more for you.

And that child of God is you. God is not finished with you yet. And He is not finished with me. There is still purpose. There are still plans to be carried out. Each day is a new day and you will find God doing a new thing in and around you.

He (God) gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Mimi

This and that.

Just checking in to see what everyone is up to.

Staying in and away from others has presented limitations and challenges, but also has been a gift of time. Time to try or learn new things. Time for projects. Time to nap or read. Time to video chat, write letters, or enjoy a phone conversation.

This past week I finally finished scanning the last of my paper photos, after discovering one more pile of a hundred I hadn’t done previously. I also got out the alto recorder I purchased two years ago and added a daily reminder to practice (okay so I didn’t actually practice at all but every day I was reminded to!), I resolved two huge technical issues that took several hours each, spent some time with my dad, participated in a 7-day online writing challenge, and trimmed my own hair. Together, Greg and I finished yet another jigsaw puzzle.

Greg, of course, stayed just as busy with a day of golf, pressure washing, his usual house cleaning (he always does the vacuuming and mopping), interior window washing, and lots of reading.

But after weeks and weeks of nothing on the calendar, we are starting off this week with several things already penciled in. And that seems so exciting. Greg has more pressure washing for two of our neighbors, while I will be using Windex Outdoors to do the outside of the windows. No scrubbing required, just spraying and rinsing. Add to that helping a neighbor with a computer issue, a scheduled trip to Costco (yahoo), a dresser for our closet that will require being built, and a medical televisit—it’s all set to be a banner week.

I’m a to-do list person.

Been that way for years. But in retirement, it’s become even more important. I can waste time with the best of them. So, having my list of things to accomplish makes me more focused so I can tend to important issues. It also helps me feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. If I can remember to put something on a list, chances are it will get done. Without that list, however, there’s guarantee at all.

Not everyone will want to write a list or feel fulfilled by crossing off completed tasks. And many don’t keep a calendar. (How do they even function!?!?!)

Inevitably, each person figures out their own way to take care of things important to them. Just wondering how you stay organized and on task, especially during quarantine. Without work, school, or scheduled activities, it’s easy to forget what day it is or even what date it is. Things can slip through the cracks because without our normal activities, time is sort of meaningless. At least for me. If you don’t get something done today, no worries…there’s always tomorrow.

Let me know how you’ve been doing during our stay-at-home orders. Keeping a to-do list? Using your phone to set reminders? Enjoying a more relaxing day and going with the flow? Using our less structured time for self-care and rest?

Whether you have a week filled with action items or one that’s more restful and relaxing, remember that:

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through hi. (Colossians 3:17)

Enjoy your week.

Mimi

My Mask Keeps my iPhone from Recognizing Me

I’m generally pretty good about learning and using new technology. But some aspects still find me reticent, such as using the iPhone feature face id. Mostly, it’s about security concerns. But once those issues are settled, I’m all in. And now, I think this is a great, time-saving feature.

Another feature I was slow to embrace is Apple Pay. Again, because of security concerns. A few months ago, I finally attempted to use it while shopping. It didn’t work well, seemed clumsy, and at the time I thought using my credit card was easier. Of course, I knew the problem was with me, not the phone, but I put the idea of Apple Pay on the back burner.

Contactless Payment

But lately, all the stores are encouraging contactless payment. I knew Apple Pay would be a great solution and I was ready to try again. But this time, I watched a YouTube video first to be sure I understand how it worked. The first time I tried it, I felt confident but still told the store clerk I was a newbie and please walk me through it. Super easy, super quick. Nailed it!

The next store was a breeze. I simply tapped the phone and voila! Done

One Problem Soon Came to Light

However, things changed by the next week when everyone venturing into stores was now wearing a mask, including yours truly. With confidence, I walked into the store wearing my mask, picked up my few items, being sure to follow the one-way arrows for each aisle, walked up to the cash register, got to the payment part and with all the self-assurance in the world I got ready to tap my phone but…

BIG PROBLEM: The phone couldn’t unlock and open Apple Pay. Why not? Because with my mask on, the iPhone can’t identify me with Face ID. It took a few seconds, but I quickly recovered, typed in my passcode, and proceeded with my transaction.

We all wear masks from time to time.

A few days later, while reviewing some photos stored on the phone, I came across the one I included here. Yup, sure is difficult to really know who’s under the cotton. No wonder Face ID had difficulty. I was all covered up.

God began talking to me almost immediately, reminding me that we all wear masks from time to time.

Why would we wear one? Possibly for protection, just like with COVID-19. We may put on a mask of confidence so others can’t see us shaking in our boots. We may put on a mask of spirituality, hoping others won’t realize we’re not as mature in Christ as we let on. Sometimes, we wear a mask, foolishly thinking God won’t be able to see what’s really hidden in our hearts.

The revelation is this. While Apple products may not have the ability to recognize me in a face mask, the Lord Almighty has no such limitations. And that really is a very good thing.

God calls to us.

God is all about relationship. He knows all and sees all and still chooses to love us. Trying to hide from Him or hide certain aspects of our lives from Him is fruitless and takes away the path to repentance and forgiveness. The very mask we think offers protection, instead keeps us from the One who with open arms receives us as we are, and offers renewed opportunities moment by moment to be reconciled to Him.

Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:24)

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. (Hebrews 4:13)

My prayer:

With this revelation, the prayer on my heart is that I will refuse the silliness of wearing masks before God, and before people. That I will come to God’s welcoming embrace and be enveloped by His deep love. Repentant yes, but no longer ashamed. How about you? Can you relate at all? Have you ever found yourself wearing an unnecessary mask?

Mimi

A Lesson in Trust

With extra time on my hands, I find myself turning to something that isn’t always enjoyable to do, but provides a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Something that makes me smile and actually feel less stressed.

What am I talking about?

Glad you asked: organizing. Or in my case, re-organizing. I admit it’s sometimes hard to get started but the end result is so worth it. Knowing me, you are aware that I tend to keep things relatively organized. Typically, once a year I go through the house, tossing, donating, rearranging, and relabeling.

I would love to buy all matching organizer containers but I’m typically happy using whatever is on hand. Hence the pictures of my drawers with all manner of containers. But don’t they look nice?

A treasure.

While going through my night table, I discovered just one Monthly Musings With Cindi, a family and friends newsletter I created and maintained for awhile in the 90s. I remember using these newsletters as a creative outlet as well as to share family news and often a little tidbit of a story to show God’s love.

What fun to read through this particular issue and the story I shared on trust. It seems fitting for what we’re experiencing so I’m sharing it with you today. Hope it brings hope and a reminder of how wonderful and trustworthy our God is.

From September 1995

The story takes place while hiking with the family along the Black River in New Jersey. Our lack of rain that year meant the water level was low and many of the rocks were exposed and dry. However, there were plenty of mossy, slippery ones you had to watch out for. Katie and Tim hopped from rock to rock with great agility. Even Greg made great headway with his long, steady stride. Meanwhile, the way for me was at times slow and tedious.

I was able to jump from rock to rock rather easily when they were dry and close together. But I really struggled when they were farther apart. I often simply stepped down into the water rather than trying to make a jump I knew I couldn’t complete.

At one point, Greg was a few steps in front of me. He had landed on a large four-foot rock that was just far enough away from where I was that I couldn’t follow him with the same ease. However, he turned back toward me and without even thinking about, and with my head looking down into the river to see what I needed to avoid, I reached out my hand and began stepping toward the big rock without ever looking up. In the process, Greg grabbed my outstretched hand to ensure my safety.

How here’s the real picture.

I had not been watching Greg to see if he was going to take my hand. I didn’t wait for a signal from him that it was safe to proceed. I went without thinking about all that and without any hesitation. Immediately upon landing on the rock, I realized what had just happened and was absolutely astounded. I had so completely trusted that Greg would be there to help me that I not only didn’t have to see it with my own eyes, I didn’t even have to consciously think about it.

Now that’s trust; and that’s just how God is with us. Without even having to be consciously aware of His presence, we can totally depend on Him in every single circumstance in our lives.

Lately, we’re all having the opportunity to lean on God more than ever and to learn more about trusting in Him. We can take these verses to heart:

Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go. (Joshua 1:9)

You, LORD, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you. (Isaiah 26:3 NCV)

My prayer:

May the God who is completely trustworthy hold you close. Even when you are not consciously aware of his presence, and when you don’t have answers to the many questions we all ponder, may his love surround you and bring you peace and joy.

Mimi

When life hands you lemons…

My life group has a group text message that we use for prayer requests, to provide important info, and to keep people up-to-date.

Today, someone from that group sent a text letting us know she was going out and available to pick up anything someone needed. Lemons. I needed lemons for the shrimp and pasta dish I am making tonight. I let her know and about 90 minutes later I get a text that she’s here with the lemons. So, she shopped AND delivered. What a sweetie.

That offer to help has had so many blessings.

First, the blessing of someone making the offer. Stores are crazy lately and we all try to limit our trips. Second of all, she wouldn’t take money for them. Just provided what I needed. The lemons also led to a conversation about my sister who died in 2014 of multiple myeloma. My sister sent me a cartoon one time about lemons that I’ve never forgotten. It was so funny and I was able to share that store with my lemon angel today. The lemon delivery enabled me to see a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks; it was so enjoyable to chat and catch up a bit. Sort of like normal. Those lemons have brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. And those lemons will be totally enjoyed later on when I make dinner.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:16)

It was something so simple.

It was so simple. It was so kind. But an offer to pick up something from the store has made a difference in my day today. I’m feeling cared for. And I’m feeling blessed. All because of my lemon angel who let her good deeds shine as in the verse above. Thank you, friend.

What can we do for someone else today? I’m sure we can up with something. Let me know…

Mimi

God knows your name.

Good Monday morning all,

I realized recently that every news or social media source I open, contains an abundance of info on one specific thing. It is everywhere. And while we definitely need up-to-date info, too much info can also be overwhelming. And can make our thoughts fertile ground for fear and concern.

So, I’m not going to say a thing about you-know-what. Today, I’m just going to share one thing that is absolutely precious: God knows your name.

Greg and I have the two grandboys with us this week. Each day we do some craft kits, play baseball in the backyard, ride bikes while they scooter nearby, work on puzzles, read, etc. And since it’s in the mid to upper 80’s, closing in on 90, the outdoor activities are done early in the morning or after supper.

Colorful Sand Dunes

This morning’s activity is a favorite over here…climbing our colorful sand dunes. These things are amazing. They look like boulders but are simply compacted sand. In shades of pink, orange, and purple, the kids have a blast romping from boulder to boulder. And while they act like gazelles as they easily hop around, it’s quite different for Greg and I. There’s no hopping for this Mimi; I’m just thoroughly grateful that I can slowly walk across the surface without sliding and getting a boo-boo.

While I took my time walking around and taking video of the boys, Greg found a sturdy stick and entertained himself in typical Greg fashion—artistically. Check out his creation where he was able to etch his name in that hard sand.

As soon as I saw it, I snapped a picture because it immediately reminded me of the Lord and of something I don’t ever want to forget. God knows my name. Which means God knows me. Almighty God KNOWS little me. Wow.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…(Isaiah 49:16)

Seeing Greg’s name etched in the sand reminded me of this amazing verse in Isaiah where God tells us we are engraved on His palms. Not with ink that can fade. Not with pencil that can be erased. But with a permanent reminder. My name is engraved on His hands forever!

I hope this will encourage you as much as it did me.

Have some time on your hands while you practice “social distancing?” Find a stick and some dirt, write your own name there, then stand back and look. Just look. And then ponder Isaiah 49:16. Soon your spirit will soar as you begin to marvel at our amazing God and how much He loves you.

Mimi

Happy Father’s Day…say what?

Just look at my dad. Quite dashing wouldn’t you say?

Last week I got to spend a bunch of time with him as we drove a distance to an ophthalmic specialist about an hour away. Time spent in the car along with a nice long lunch just made my day.

I often wonder how many people my age still have a dad around, a dad they can spend time with, a dad they can still seek advice from, a dad to love on and be loved by. I would venture to say…not many.

I am so blessed.

I am so blessed. As is my entire family. It’s coming up on four years since my dad suffered a fall that could have ended his life. A fall, that when he survived it, could have drastically altered his life in a very negative way. A fall that could have taken him from us around the same time my mom was called home to be with God.

Instead, my dad nor only survived his fall and subsequent injury, but has thrived. Oh sure, some things changed. He no longer drives and his balance was affected. But that’s no big deal. He lives independently where there’s transportation. Plus, we’re right around the corner and happy to drive him places. And to help his balance, he simply uses a cane. Easy peasy.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility are key elements to a person continuing to find his or her value as they age. Or after a life-changing event occurs that necessitates change. They are essential to helping someone feel as if they make a difference and have something to contribute. And they become crucial to a person finding their place in life and learning to be content.

It all takes time, effort, and often a change in mindset. But the rewards are so worthwhile. I can’t imagine my life without my dad around. Oh, I know he won’t be with me forever. But what he continues to provide to me and the family is gold. It’s beyond measure. He provides a treasure to us all just by being here.

So, last week when I spent that day with him, my heart rejoiced. And I decided I didn’t have to wait until June to know it really was a happy Father’s Day.

Love you, Dad…to heaven and back!

Mimi