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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

Warm hospitality greeted us in Murphy, North Carolina.

There are lots of ways to spend Memorial Day weekend. Watching parades, honoring our Vets, doing nothing at all, catching up on your recorded television programs, making up for lost sleep, taking a short trip, etc. And taking a short trip is just what we did.

Traveling with friends, we drove to Murphy, North Carolina to see some other friends who live in the Bear  Paw lake community where it is secluded, wooded, quiet, and absolutely lovely. The photos here don’t do it justice.

While there we took a boat ride, did a little walking, went to several potluck suppers, met lots of friendly people, and partook in a few naps as well. There’s just something about sleeping with windows open and the birds singing that lulls you to sleep…even in the middle of the day.

What made this particular adventure so much fun was that we were all so completely taken care of by our hosts John and Marie. We were welcomed with open arms and we left rested up, with precious memories, and tears in our eyes.

There was not a thing we needed to do or bring to make our stay wonderful. All was provided down to packets containing toothbrushes and toothpaste in case we had forgotten ours. While we were invited to help ourselves in the kitchen, we were also soon to find out that John and Marie wanted us to enjoy a relaxing get-away so they took care of all the meals from food prep to cooking to cleaning up afterwards. And Marie is quite the cook. I think we all ate a little too much of her delicious meals!

It had been awhile since I was pampered to such an extent. And while my first instinct was to insist I wanted to help, I realized John and Marie were giving us a gift: of hospitality and relaxation. So, I graciously accepted everything they did for us and enjoyed a wonderful three days with people I love.

The Bible has much to say about hospitality and caring for others. John and Marie were shining examples.

  1. Love others. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also area to love one another” (John 13:34).
  2. Put others first. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
  3. Work tirelessly on behalf of others. “And let us not grow weary of doing good…as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).

Our Beautiful Hosts

It’s easy to be on the receiving end of hospitality, yet the giving end, though often joy-filled, can also be exhausting. But let’s rise to the Scriptural challenge to extend hospitality as we look for opportunities to serve others, to warmly invite them into our lives, to be willing to work without ceasing to meet their needs. And to show them the amazing, astounding love of Christ.

Mimi

Memorial Day: A day to remember…and give thanks.

Memorial Day is a day on which those who did in active military service are remembered.

This important holiday has evolved to include honoring all who have served, whether they have died or are still with us. I love when I see someone in uniform and then hear a voice thank them for their service. In all my years, this is something relatively recent and it’s beautiful. Our gratitude is well-placed when we realize their sacrifice keeps us safe.

But just the words Memorial Day brings up memories and thanks for many things. I think we would do well to maintain a spirit of gratitude daily.

The Bible speaks to this often. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1). Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

I could go on and on. But you catch my drift.

There is something wonderful about giving thanks. It centers our thoughts on God foremost. As our provider we acknowledge Him and His perfection. It takes our thoughts off ourselves and our issues. Giving thanks acknowledges our trust in God to care for us. And it reminds us of all our blessings.

So today I share with you just a few things I’m so very thankful for.

  • For our precious Lord who chose me before the world began to be a part of his family.
  • For God’s wonderful care and provision throughout my life.
  • For the love of my life, Greg, who I met while attending Nyack College 44 years ago!
  • For the beautiful family I have been given. I’m grateful my dad is still with us at age 91 and that I live close to my kids and grands.
  • For provision (roof over my head, food in my tummy, clothes on my back, etc.).
  • For godly mentors and amazing friends who have had a part in enriching my life. You know who you are!!!

There is so much more to be grateful for but in just thinking about the above and the “more” my eyes are filled with tears. My heart is filled with gratitude. And my life is filled with joy.

Mimi

May I never grow too old…

Pretty silly picture, huh?

It was taken last week when the family gathered for Callan’s school concert. While waiting for the kids to take their places on stage, Konnor and I had a little fun. Though unsure of what other 8-year-olds think when you get the camera out, to Konnor a camera at the ready definitely indicates silly faces. So, of course, I join in. After all, I have to uphold my reputation as a fun grandma. Oh, may I never grow too old to enjoy making silly faces with my grandkids.

The second picture is our little guy who was performing that night. I love five-year-olds on stage cuz you never know what you’ll get. Callan was fairly attentive to the director and didn’t do too much fooling around. He sang his heart out and seemed to enjoy himself.

The girl next to him was a hoot. She was fully committed down to exaggerated facial expressions and singing with great gusto. And the youngster on the front row was in his own world entirely, outperforming just about every other singer.

Can you remember back to when you were young and required to participate in school concerts? Were you more like Callan, doing what was told and blending in. or were you more like one of the others mentioned who were content to be in the spotlight?

I imagine our personalities at a young age are actually be predictive of our adult years. I’m a bit like the little girl next to Callan singing with her whole heart but still on task and keeping her eyes on the director. As an adult I don’t mind being in a leadership position or even in being visible by others. Sometimes I thrive on it. But I’m not a risk taker and I definitely appreciate great leadership and having my boundaries defined.

Now my grandson Konnor pictured above is a little more like the third child, sometimes playing to the crowd, often marching to his own drummer, and definitely not afraid to be different. And can I tell you a secret? I’ve always admired people like that.

Thankfully the Lord created each of us with unique interests, skill-sets, and innate talents. They are useful in our wonderful world and they are useful and necessary for the Body of Christ. Here are some excerpts from 1 Corinthians 12 (New Living Translation); please read the entire chapter for a more complete picture of this.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ…God has put each part just where he wants it…some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. All of you together are Christ’s body and each of you is a part of it.”

This is actually pretty powerful stuff. Verse 27 again: All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

I want that for my life. I want to trust that the way God made me is for a purpose and that as I use my gifts and abilities our God is glorified and pleased. And His purposes are multiplied.

Let’s today determine to be thankful for the way God made each one of us and be grateful for our talents and abilities. And let’s be determined to use them to bring glory to God. And while we’re at it, let’s be appreciative of the way God made others, realizing how important each one of us is in completing God’s purposes here on earth.

Mimi

It truly was a Good Friday.

I’m sharing a copy of a BC comic strip I saw on Facebook this morning. It was fantastic. And illustrated the truth beautifully.

I have to admit the other day I was wondering why we call the Friday before Resurrection Day, “Good Friday.” Then I saw this comic strip and went “Ah…that’s why.” See what you think.

There’s generally lots of fuss about Easter/Resurrection Day. For weeks the stores have been full of spring-type items and all things related to Easter: plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies, baskets, artificial grass, small toys, new clothing, etc. And though Easter is definitely a religious holiday the stores treat it like a commercial entity designed to bring in more business. Can’t blame them really. But it surely misses the point.

But Good Friday, now that day is almost entirely passed over. I don’t even think that many churches observe it anymore. But we found one near us that did, Quest Church in Ocoee. And I’m so glad we discovered it.

When we arrived last night, we entered into the sanctuary adorned with soft lighting and lots of candles. Soft, contemplative Christian piano music was playing and the chairs were arranged in a circular fashion so the stage area was in the middle. It was very intimate. Very personal.

The format of the presentation was contemplation as four different Bible figures took turns describing their own experiences with The Christ: Peter, Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross, Mary Magdalen, and the Centurion. In between their recitations two woman sang some amazing songs that depicted what was taking part in the crucifixion and in the events leading up to it.

I wasn’t the only one dabbing my eyes.

At the end, we partook in communion then quietly left the sanctuary. From inside the foyer we could see that 50 or more luminaries had been lit up to light our way back to our cars. It was very moving indeed.

But before walking the lighted path, as we exited the building the four actors stood by the doors and placed a red dot in the middle of one of our palms…a reminder of what Good Friday was all about.

It’s quite visible—as I gesture, when I pick up something, when I look at it on purpose, and it most definitely serves its purpose as it truly does remind me of the great sacrifice made by my Savior for me.

So today I’m grateful for that reminder; and I’m grateful for the truth in the BC comic strip. Jesus took my place. He paid for my sin. And His sacrifice made it possible for me to enter into God’s family. So yes, it truly was a Good Friday.

Mimi

There’s a duck swimming in our pool.

Yes indeed, that’s a duck swimming in our community pool. Aside from the fact that a duck or any animal can contaminate the water we’re swimming in, it really was cute to see it enjoy a 15 minute stay. And why not? Hubby and I were cooling off on a hot afternoon, why not the duck, too.

But it did seem strange to see that duck there. It was totally unexpected and very much out of place.

That’s a challenge in life, too. We’ve all experienced those unexpected situations that appear and interrupt our lives with heartache, inconvenience, disappointment, etc. And it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the Lord during those times because that challenging situation just sort of takes up residence. Like the duck swimming among us in no great hurry to leave, the situation may linger much longer than we think appropriate.

What to do?

Depend on the Lord. It’s the best thing and at times the hardest. But as a friend so sweetly reminded me today, the Lord knows what He’s doing; His plans are good and His timing is perfect.

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7)

So I’m resting (or at least trying to)…how about you?

Mimi