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The big, capable hands of God.

All my life I’ve been aware of my large hands…large for a woman that is. No one thinks twice about the large size of a man’s hands but to me, when a woman has large hands, people can take notice.

Her only flaw:

The Seinfeld show even devoted an episode to this subject. Jerry had started dating a very attractive woman whose only flaw was that she had man-hands—meaning her hands were large and coarse like a man’s. Many of the Seinfeld episodes came from the perspective of very self-indulgent characters who superficially put value on the wrong things. But I admit when I watched that one, I realized that having large hands was a very real thing. (Don’t remember? Here’s a very brief CLIP from that episode.)

Over the years, I’ve taken less notice of the size of my hands and instead have focused on what those hands can do. In the photo above you’ll notice just how many puzzle pieces I can hold at one time. This comes in very handy when putting 1000 pieces back into the bag for storage. (tee hee)

Here are a few other things my larger-than-normal-for-a-woman hands can accomplish:

  • Comfort and support when offering a personal prayer.
  • A “big” demonstration of love when holding onto a grandchild’s hand.
  • It’s easier to clean up a mess of spilled cereal. Silly but true.
  • They hold a lot more peanut M&M’s than someone else’s more petit hands. A definite advantage.

While I still at times wish my hands (and feet I might add) were smaller, mostly I’m able to accept they’re simply a part of me and “me” was created by God. And He makes everything beautiful and perfect.

But most importantly…

When I look at my hands, they remind me of the even bigger hands of God—hands able to create, hands able to protect, hands that enable, hands that perform miracles, hands that enfold in love, hands that protect, hands that can be trusted.

So, if looking at my hands turn my attention to God, then my hands indeed are perfect. And I love them. I absolutely LOVE them.

But Lord, you are our father. We are like clay, and you are the potter; your hands made us all. (Isaiah 64:8)

What do the hands of God remind you of?

Mimi

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Confession Time!

I’m confessing and it pains me to know I even need to.

I almost had a car accident the morning and it would have been totally my fault. Worse than that is knowing I could have caused great injury to someone else or someone else’s property.

Why? Because while driving I had a momentary lapse in concentration. Sure did. After running errands, I was on my way home and simply put, not paying close attention. I wasn’t on the phone, wasn’t listening to the radio. In fact, if you’d have asked me a few seconds earlier, I would have said I was practicing very safe driving.

I only knew I nearly caused an accident when, after turning a corner, I heard a car horn blaring at me, and out of the corner of my eye was able to see a car driving past way too close for comfort.

I immediately felt terrible.

I felt terrible, but I also thanked God for protecting the other person as well as myself. I still desperately wanted to express sorrow to the other driver, but there was no way to make that happen.

I bet you’ve found yourself in a similar situation. Not necessarily while driving a car but perhaps without meaning to, you caused or almost caused harm to someone else through your words, an action, or even a look.

As a believer, most times I think I’m fairly kind-hearted. And since I genuinely care for others, it really is never my intent to cause hurt. Yet I do. Just this past weekend, I hurt the feelings of our youngest grandson. After spending some great time helping him with a game he devised for the adults, I blurted out a clue he didn’t want me to. And that blunder cancelled out all the fun we had had up to that point.

My heart was heavy with grief and I couldn’t apologize enough. I wanted to take back my mistake. And I wanted to erase his pain. But none of that was possible.

In life, we will undoubtedly cause pain to others.

Sometimes on purpose and many times without intent. Likewise, on occasion, we will find ourselves on the receiving end of pain.

While I couldn’t do much more than apologize to Callan, there are a few things we can do when we find ourselves on the giving or receiving end of pain. If we doled it out, we need to apologize, as quickly as possible. Even if we don’t find out until later, we need to do what we can to correct the situation as soon as we realize what we’ve. With sincerity and without blaming the reason on anyone or anything else, our heartfelt apology will go a long way to righting the wrong.

If, however, we find ourselves on the receiving end of a hurtful action, we also have a choice in our own re-actions. It’s so easy to take on the offense, play the victim card, and wallow in the pain. Whether or not the other person ever apologizes or even realizes what they’ve done, just forgive them. Yup. It’s that simple.

Everyone is guilty.

Everyone is guilty of uttering words they wish they could take back. We’ve all inflicted pain…yes, even on purpose. We may even have caused pain without realizing what we did or said was hurtful.

If we are quick to forgive, the pain can hopefully begin dissipating sooner. Often, a conversation won’t even need to take place. You simply forgive in your heart, and move on.

Other times, a conversation will be warranted. These conversations can help the other person understand how their actions caused pain. And they may clear the air about long-held beliefs and feelings. Sometimes we may discover the pain we felt is simply our response to a circumstance. That there is really nothing to forgive. And that the painful response may be a signal to ourselves that we may have an area in our lives that needs the healing touch of the Lord.

So, Callan, if Mommy is reading this to you, I hope you know how sad I felt for disappointing you and messing up your game last week. And I hope you can forgive me. I love you so much and feel terrible that something I did, caused you to feel so sad.

Let’s Pray

Father, the truth is…we both experience and cause pain to others. Sometimes on purpose; many times, without even realizing it. Help us to be attentive to Your voice when you bring these circumstances to our attention. May we be quick to and quick to forgive.

Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32 NCV)

With love…Mimi

Being held in God’s hands.

Several months ago, I read a devotional that reminded me that we should rest in the Father’s (God’s) hands. His hands can be trusted. His hands are strong. His hands are secure. His hands are comforting. His hands are protective. His hands are all-encompassing.

I was so taken with the image in my head of what this would look like, that I jotted a reminder to myself to search for the perfect image of His outstretched hands. Maybe I could even superimpose my name in the palms of those hands, then print out the picture, frame it, and display it on the wall to serve as a constant reminder that I’m in God’s hands.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Alas, I’ve been unable to find the perfect image or to figure out how to insert my name short of hiring someone to draw the hands with “Cindi” in them.

But just looking at the photo above and reading over my notes about being in God’s hands serves to remind me that God’s got me. He’s never letting go. He chose me with those hands. And with those same hands He drew me to Himself.

You, too, are in His Hands.

There’s very good news, my friend. You are also in those hands if you know and love God. If His son’s sacrifice has been acknowledged by you, if you’ve repented of your sin that separated you from Him. If so, then you are indeed in the wonderful Body of Christ. And securely in His hands.

But that same great news is also available for those who have not yet acknowledged Christ’s sacrifice. If you can imagine God’s beautiful hands outstretched toward you and take it as His call to you to come to Him.

Roman’s 10:13 reminds us that “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

The how.

Also involved is acknowledging your sin. It’s a condition of our heart and we’ve all sinned. Romans 3:23 states “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Recognize that there is a penalty for that sin. “The payment for sin is death. But God gives us the free gift of life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NCV).

Ok, so I’m a sinner and the payment for that sin is eternal death. Now what?

Glad you asked. Accept or believe that the death of God’s son Jesus on the cross was for you. Yup, without even knowing you, Jesus died a horrible death making that totally impossible payment for your sin so you could become part of His family and know that your eternity is secure with God. “God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).

WOW. That’s amazing, isn’t it!

Let’s review.

We’re all sinners. But God loved us so much, even without knowing us, that He had a plan. That plan was to have His son, who lived a perfect life and therefore was a perfect sacrifice, die a horrible death on a cross to pay the punishment for our sin. We repent or turn away from our sin-life, believe the death of Jesus was for us personally, and we become a part of God’s family. Eternity starts the moment this happens, even while on earth. So, from that moment and forever, we’re children of God and in His loving, beautiful hands.

What is our response?

I imagine there are two basic groups of people reading this. Those who are already in God’s family and those who are not. If you’re already a believer in Christ, then use today’s post as a launch to praising Him for all He’s done for you. For holding you in His very loving, capable hands.

And if you are not yet a believer in all God’s done for you, then don’t wait any longer. Make today the day, YOUR day, to turn from your sinful ways, to acknowledge all that God has done for you, and turn your life over to Him. Then rest in the assurance you are now resting in God’s hands. The hands outstretched that now carry your name in them.

With ever so much love,

Mimi

Awkward…

So, let’s just get this out of the way up front. Today’s post is a little awkward because it involves something that we don’t often talk about. The word begins with “F” and rhymes with art.

I think you catch my drift. So why am I talking about it? Read on and you’ll see.

Back in November, my brother, his wife, Greg and I, and my dad enjoyed a 10-day Caribbean cruise together. We ate great food and even some not so great food. We enjoyed tours on the islands and there was plenty of time in the sun. We even took steel drum lessons which was not only fun but LOUD. Yes, the cruise was everything we anticipated it would be.

But there was that one awkward moment.

The ships are huge and the elevators often crowded so my philosophy is to take the stairs whenever possible. It gets you to your destination faster and the exercise helps offset the extraordinary number of calories consumed through the day.

Typically, you run into other people using the stairs but on one of my stair-climbing expeditions, it was just me and a lady coming down as I was going up. We acknowledged each other with the usual head nod but on this occasion, the lady also acknowledged me out loud. With…you guessed it…a fart.

I didn’t know what to do.

Had I been with my family or in church, I might have snickered or even burst out laughing. But this was a stranger to me and in a flash all sorts of scenarios went through my head. First was the thought This is a completely natural thing; we all fart. And then I wondered if I was the one passing gas, would I have acknowledged it by apologizing or saying “oops?” I had no idea. I even thought about saying “oops” myself with a smile so she would know I wasn’t at all offended.

As it turns out, neither of us said or did anything. There was no acknowledgement, we just continued on our way. Thought, I have to admit I had quite a smile on my face as climbed the remaining stairs. Maybe because it was funny or maybe because I was glad it hadn’t been me.

Awkward moments happen all the time.

We encounter awkward situations all the time and like the one above we don’t always know how to respond. After asking a neighbor how they’re doing we might hear back “Well, I lost my job so not great.” Or “Life is rough now, my drug addicted 40-year old son just relapsed for the third time.” One time I asked the how-ya-doing question almost like saying hello and I was surprised when the person burst out crying instead of saying fine.

While times like that can be a bit awkward, they also open the door to real ministry. When a person bursts out crying right in front of you, it shows me their need for comfort, reassurance, or someone to care. Right then, right now.

And the same often holds true when the unexpected answer to your greeting reveals a lost job, marital infidelity, or a child with drug problems, etc.

What to do?

It can be difficult for people to reach out and ask for that help or to simply admit they’re experiencing a rough time. But if someone takes the time to respond to your simple greeting or if they come to you for help all on their own, please, please be ready to respond. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Be ready for the unexpected. If you ask how someone is doing, be prepared for anything. And respond appropriately. Sometimes all that’s needed is a kind word, some sincere reassurance, a hug. Proverbs 12:25 says “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
  2. Do something. Don’t just nod your head. In addition, offer something and be specific, be practical. I’m sorry you’re going through this. May I pray with you right now? I can see you’re overwhelmed; I’d like to ease the load and provide a meal. Or can I run that errand for you?
  3. Follow-up. Many will vaguely offer help but leave it at that. Or they might even help ONCE and then never check in. Be the one who stays connected, who shows you care long-term. Be the one who digs in for the long haul with the one needing help so they don’t feel alone.

Ministry isn’t always convenient or easy or a one-time deal. You often pay a cost such as an expenditure of time or money. But boy, is the payoff worth it!

Matthew 25:40 reminds us: (Jesus talking) “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’

Mimi

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

I subscribe to a daily newsletter from Only In Your State. Each day I learn about fun things to do or see right here in Florida.

A few months back there this picture appeared followed by a story about these amazing milkshakes. You can find them near Miami at Boca’s House restaurant in Doral, FL. That’s about 4 hours from where I live but I think they might just be worth the drive!

So, what’s the definition of worth of anyway?

I’m glad you asked. If you’re going to drive all the way to Doral to enjoy those fancy milkshakes, it would be good to know ahead of time if they were really worth it.

One definition is the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated. That sounds about right, doesn’t it? At least according to the world. Achieving that value or rating depends on many factors, most of them manmade.

But that’s a problem: if someone decides what has value, it might be arbitrary. And that means, it could change someday. Long ago, it was decided that diamonds and gold were rare and in limited supply so they had value. When given in jewelry, they became symbols of how we view someone else. The bigger the diamond, the purer the gold, the more valuable they were so when given as gifts they demonstrated to someone else the value you placed on them or the relationship.

But thankfully…

…yes, thankfully, that’s not the case with God. But I wonder how many of us can still fall into the trap of placing false values on things or other people. We can spend a lot of time and money pursing things we or others perceive as having great worth only to find in the end, it’s just stuff. It might cost a lot but it’s just stuff. And as the saying goes “You can’t take it with you.”

And that my friend, illustrates the problem with how we can fall into the same trap by believing some of the negative thoughts that bombard us all too often. Thoughts such as “I’m not good enough, I don’t make enough money, I have no talent, I’m a failure as a parent, etc. If we only consider a worldly view of value, we miss the beauty of how God sees us.

Our worth is God-given, God-ordained.

There’s not a big enough diamond or enough gold in the world to measure the value of our worth in God’s eyes. Isn’t that a relief? Here are just a few biblical reminders of the worth God sees in us:

  1. …for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. (1 Peter 2:9 NLT)
  2. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT)
  3. Verses from Song of Solomon: You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words (4:1); you have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride (4:9); Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights! (7:6).
  4. For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)
  5. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV)

Enough said! Do I hear an amen?

Those verses are just a sample of what you’ll find in the pages of the Book God gave us to reveal Himself to us.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s not a thing wrong with a pretty piece of jewelry. There’s nothing wrong with being rewarded for hard work with a promotion or a raise.

But don’t make life all about or only about things that hold temporary worth. Instead, rejoice in the amazing love of an amazing God who created you with value and worth to Him and His kingdom. Rejoice in how He sees you and in how much He loves you.

And that…you can take to the bank!

Love to all,

Mimi

How one little “owie” hurts the whole body.

Greg and I were talking recently about how important each member of the body of Christ to each other. In my part of the conversation I brought up a recent owie our son-in-law experienced and how it affected…everything!

Here’s what happened.

Turns out Chris somehow got an infection in his big toe. Not really sure how it happened but it took a few days (or a week) to figure out the hurt he was experiencing wasn’t going away. And, in fact, the toe started getting red and warm more and more each day.

While visiting with us, his mother-in-law (me!) looked at that toe and told him on the way home he MUST MUST MUST go to the urgent care center, he was not to pass go, he was not to collect $200, etc. Instead, he had to have this thing looked at.

Next thing I know, he’s doing a live stream video showing the toe being lanced so the “icky stuff” could escape and the healing could begin. He was also told to expect the nail to turn colors and eventually come off. Which, weeks later, it did.

During this entire process, Chris experienced pain which finally turned to soreness and then discomfort. The toenail came off recently and he admitted it’s still quite tender. I imagine it will be until the new nail grows in.

So, what’s my point anyway?

The point is, this shows the perfect illustration of how important each member of the Body of Christ is to each other. That one toenail on Chris, which seems rather insignificant, disturbed everything. It caused pain in itself. It also affected the way Chris walked. It limited his activities. He became mindful of it because of the pain.

So, too, in the Body of Christ, the Church. We all have an effect…positive and negative…on each other. Even if we feel we are unimportant, we are actually quite important to the well-being of each other, to the proper functioning of the Church. And when one of us is hurting, the rest suffer as well.

So, just what function do we serve?

Today the hubster and I were talking about the apostle Paul and one of us commented “I’m not sure we’re all called to be Pauls.” Well, duh. Of course not. But we are indeed called to a function just as important. We may be a foot taking the gospel to foreign soil; we may be a mouth speaking God’s word as an evangelist; we may serve in a supportive role as we pray and monetarily support others in the Body. Kind of like a toenail that only serves to protect the toe underneath.

Still feeling unimportant and insignificant?

Using The Message, let me share quite a few Bible verses below. In very plain language they detail the beautiful way God created His Church to function. (I am quoting most but not all of 1 Corinthians 12.)

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.

I love the verse that states “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less.” That’s powerful. And that’s for us.

So, no matter your function, your calling, your gifts, you matter to God, and He has big plans for you. Plans no one but you can fulfill. Plans to show His glory to others. Plans that will testify of God’s beauty. Plans that will draw others to Him by the demonstration of Christ in you.

Be encouraged today. Use your gifts for God’s glory. Unsure what they are? Ask Him to reveal to you His purposes for your life.

Much love to all,

Mimi

When is “too much”…too much?

 

Recently, while taking a shower, I had a big lightbulb moment…when I realized having too much of something may, in fact, simply be “too much.”

Let me explain.

Last year I asked Greg to replace the rather weak shower head in our master bath. It was adequate but that’s about it. I desired a really good spray where I could rinse off and feel squeaky clean.

A replacement shower head was ordered and in no time installed by the hubster. And boy was it great! Powerful, full coverage. Just a delight. It was so strong that you could often imagine your tight muscles totally relaxing under the additional water pressure.

But soon what I thought was delightful and perfect turned out to be painful and unwanted.

The new shower head was so strong that I found myself, hmm, how do I say this…having to cover up my front chest area while showering because those once-perceived strong points of water were instead like piercing darts to my more delicate areas. Ouch.

I could no longer face the shower head but had to have my back to it. And to add great insult, when at the dermatologist in January I had about 8 spots frozen. Within a few days they began to scab over and I couldn’t stand the strong pressure of water on those spots…most of which were on my back. So, I still couldn’t face the shower head and now I couldn’t turn my back to it either. I was miserable; something had to be done.

Time for a change.

Another replacement shower head was ordered and installed and can I just say…wow! The new one is everything we need without being more than we need or want. It allows plenty of water to get through but instead of feeling like I’m being stung by sharp points, the pressure is just right, like being in a soft rainstorm. Nothing hurts and I can once again face the shower head without having to protect myself. (wink-wink)

So, the question has been answered…

Yes, sometimes too much of a good thing is way too much.

What this means in our daily lives is we can enjoy great foods, but too much of those great foods hurts our health. We can love hard and enjoy doing for our kids and other family members, but too much of that and we smother them, possibly causing them to remain dependent on us rather than becoming independent.

How about with God…is too much ever too much? It all depends. My in-laws would say yes. In ignorance as excited new believers, they attended church every time the doors were open: for services, for prayer, for dinners, for special events, etc. But it caused them to miss their kids’ ballgames. The “too much” they were doing seemed good and right but they missed the balance of being able to love and serve God while also making time for family. It wasn’t one or the other; it could have been both.

I think the same can be true if we just simply feed ourselves from what God offers and never share what we gain. Becoming stronger in our faith walk is imperative but if we never use what we learn, if those good works talked about in Ephesians 2:10 never manifest then I wonder if instead of building strong spiritual muscles we have over-indulged and simply become fat lazy believers who have become more “I” focused.

Hey, I’m preaching to me here.

Feeling uncomfortable? Me, too. Today’s thoughts come from my own life. That shower head story coupled with our Bible study last night in Ephesians, really spoke to me about the good works God wants me to share with others.

We should never stop growing in Christ, never stop pursuing Him. We absolutely must become strong in the Word and strong in our relationship with our wonderful God and Savior. But that wonderful God who lives within us has also designed each one to show forth His glory as we do the good works He so thoughtfully planned for us to do.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

What are some of those good works God wants you to perform?

Mimi