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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

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Oops.

Salvaged freezer items.

Two oops actually. (1) I forgot to schedule this post for Monday so am posting it today instead. And (2), read on to learn about my next oops.

Recently, hubby and I spent an afternoon combining a trip to Costco with catching a movie at a theater, both about 35 minutes away. Knowing we would be gone for hours and also knowing we would be purchasing refrigerator items that needed to remain cold, right before hopping into the car we pulled out some bags of ice and ice packs from the freezer, tossing them in the cooler.

We did our Costco run, saw the movie, and arrived home about 4 hours later. The Costco items were still cold from being in the cooler so we felt very successful about our trip.

But upon entering the garage I began to hear a very distinctive beeping which turned out to be the freezer alarm. You guessed it. The freezer door had been open the entire time and it was now dripping with melting ice, circulating warm air, sending water all over the garage floor, and it was easy to see many items were already ruined. So, we quickly began mopping up the water, tossing out the ruined food, and then we turned our attentions on figuring out what, if anything, could be saved.

Cooked goodies.

I ended up with lots of blueberries I had lovingly picked by hand several months prior, a bunch of chicken and ground beef that was still cool to the touch, and a few other odds and ends. Everything else was pretty much mush and was thrown away.

But my afternoon was just beginning because now came the task of doing something with what remained. So, I cooked. The raw chicken and beef became dinner over the next few days with the remainder going in to the freezer for future meals. The bread products were eaten over the next week. But all those blueberries…what to do!

With the blueberries, I made a crumb pie, muffins, and the remaining berries were cooked down with thickeners to be used for pie or a cobbler in the future.

I have to admit; the situation didn’t get the better of me. I was grateful we were able to save some of the items. Plus, I learned a very important lesson. And while I’ve owned freezers for decades without a problem like this, I now am very careful to be double sure the door is completely closed after I retrieve an item.

And through it all I laughed. Laughed that it happened, laughed that I had to quickly get in the kitchen for several hours to try to salvage what I could. And even laughed at throwing out the entire blueberry pie because I hadn’t thoroughly drained the berries after thawing and the excess juice soaked the crust in a very unappetizing way. It was basically a horrible pie.

Life kind of hits us like that every now and then. Sometimes we’re more prepared than others. But in all cases, we need to make the best of the situation, deal directly with whatever is happening in a timely way, try to view it from God’s perspective, and when necessary…learn from it.

Freezer items aren’t a big deal to lose. Yes, it cost me some time and yes, we lost the value of many items, but it was fixable. But when life hits us hard, it isn’t always immediately fixable and sometimes losing money or health is devastating. And most times there really isn’t anything to laugh about.

But after walking with the Lord for years, this I do know: God is still God. He still loves me and He still loves you. We may not understand all that’s happening and most times we don’t have his perspective on what is happening or why; but He is completely trustworthy.

Those two precious Bible verses from (Proverbs 3:5-7a) that we know and love remind us of this: From The Message: Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!

And from the New International Version the same verse reads: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.

I certainly haven’t learned to do this consistently but I’m welcoming lessons that will help me more clearly see that so much of what we worry about really doesn’t matter. What matters is keeping our eyes on Him, seeking His plan, following Him, and learning to completely trust Him to take care of us.

How about you? Any life lessons you’ve learned that you’d care to share?

Mimi

 

Thankful, grateful, and truly blessed!

For months, maybe even closer to a year, I’ve been feeling very, very grateful. Just in general. For everything. So, when I came upon this piece of artwork, I knew it needed to be in my house… on a wall where Greg and I would see…it all day long.

I assume experiencing these feelings has to do with getting older and understanding more each day what’s really important.

I see pictures of my grandkids, and overcome with love for them, experience thankfulness to God for the blessing they are in my life.

At meals I’m so very grateful for food. For the ability to go to the store and just buy whatever I want. For having a full pantry. For not having to worry about where my next meal will come from or if I will even have one.

After Greg’s recent experience with blood clots and pulmonary embolisms, I feel blessed. Truly blessed. Blessed that despite having very few symptoms, the doctor so quickly got us to the hospital. Blessed that there was a procedure to help him recover quicker. And blessed that a medication taken regularly for the rest of his life will ensure these clots never again cause a threat to his health and life.

And, of course, there’s the stuff. I have stuff…some of it I need, some I think I need, and some I don’t need at all, but still I have it.

I have not one, but two cars in my driveway. I live in a house with heat and air conditioning. I have clothes in my closet. My attic has suitcases that are used to take trips to visit family and to see places I’ve never seen before.

Churches surround and offer me my own choice of where to worship my Lord.

And every day I wake to new possibilities.

Indeed… God has been good to me. So merciful. So kind.

But even without health, or stuff, or a nearby church, I would feel just as thankful, just as grateful, and just as truly blessed.

Why? Because I have Jesus but more importantly, because He has me. For all that He’s provided through His life, through His death, and through His resurrection…I am thankful. I am grateful. And I am indeed…truly, truly blessed.

How about you? What are you grateful for today?

Mimi

Zoe turns 4!

Just recently we spent the weekend with our son and his family to celebrate our granddaughter Zoe’s fourth birthday.

After our encounter with Hurricane Irma and Greg’s recent hospitalization for blood clots, it was wonderful to get to experience such an enjoyable occasion.

Like all our grands, Zoe has her own unique God-given personality. She is a giggle-filled bundle of non-stop joy. We know a picture paints a thousand words so I wish I had a picture of every mood, expression, and reaction Zoe exhibited because those pictures would be a fantastic way to share with you the pure delight she brings. But the composite above will have to do.

We watched Zoe and her sister perform Disney tunes for us from their make-shift stage. Zoe acted out every nuance using her whole body and face to fully express each song’s meaning. Here’s a 10-second clip of our energetic granddaughter for your viewing pleasure. (The background laugh is her Mimi who was tickled pink watching her!)

Zoe is creative in her play time, enjoys school, is loving to all her stuffed animals and dolls, and wants to do everything her big sister Addison does. She adores her parents and often can be found using her daddy as her personal jungle gym!

Time moves along so quickly; I don’t want to miss a single minute of this precious life. I want to see everything through her eyes of wide-eyed wonder. I want to experience her kind of joy that knows no bounds. I also want to protect her from the world and have her keep her innocence as long as possible.

Who knew when she was born just how appropriate her name would be. In the Greek, Zoe means life. And our little Zoe is completely filled and overflowing with life!

Happy 4th birthday sweet girl. Your Mimi loves you to Heaven and back!

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

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

Finished…at last!

For the past few years, Greg and I have been trying to get more intentional about spending time together in God’s Word. Sometimes we have used a daily devotional with Bible readings and one time we even used a book dealing with depression and anxiety. Written from a Christian perspective, it had plenty of scripture along with suggested application of those verses.

We take turns reading out loud followed by joining hands for a time of prayer.

Beginning in January 2016, we decided to embark on a 61-day reading plan we downloaded from Bible Gateway. I’m happy to report we finally finished that 61-day plan…on June 19 THIS YEAR! Hmm, that’s 18 months, not 61 days.

What happened? Well, it turns out most of the days had up to 8 chapters assigned to them which we quickly discovered was simply too much. So, we worked at our own pace, allowing for the many interruptions life so readily provides. We even put it aside for a while and went back to reading a daily devotional.

But about a month ago we decided to hunker down and complete the task. At times, I was convinced it would be better to quit and find a new reading plan, yet somehow that didn’t seem right. So, we made the decision to finish strong and that’s just what we did. But I have to say, it sure felt good when we completed the task last night.

Over the years I’ve canvassed many fellow believers, especially married couples, as to how they delved into God’s Word. And the answers were as varied as the people. Dissatisfied with my own efforts, I think I was looking for one magic plan, thinking that whatever method most people used must surely be the right one.

What I discovered is that it doesn’t really matter how you spend time with in God’s Word, it’s just important that you do. Armed with that realization I could relax my efforts to “do it right” and instead enjoy time with my hubby and my Lord. We found what works for us and it’s been so enjoyable.

What’s next? We’re still figuring that out. We may do an organized Bible study or go back to a daily devotional. But until we decide, we’ll continue to hold hands and pray for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors and friends, and our country. Together we’ll seek God to continue His work in us as He changes us into His image.

Maybe you’re like we were: floundering, unsure what the perfect method is, shy about reading or praying out loud with your spouse or someone else. My encouragement to you is to let all that go. Ask God to direct you and then enjoy the discovery process as you research various methods of study.

In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to visit this website and listen in on the God Speaking series with Anne Graham Lotz.

She has several 10-day series consisting of 40-minute lightly dramatized Bible readings. You can listen in each day for the entire 40 minutes or split it up like Greg and I did, taking about 15 days to complete it. I must say, it was excellent. The dramatized version was so engaging that we found ourselves hanging on every word as it was read.

Perhaps you have found other methods that work for you. If so, please hit reply and leave a comment. What you share just may be what someone else will connect with.

Love to all.

Mimi