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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

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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

Happy 40th to my first born.

This week I’m writing my story on Sunday because today is my son’s 40th birthday. We got to spend a wonderful weekend with him and my heart is overflowing with thankfulness to God for this precious gift to Greg and I. So, I thought I’d share a little about him with you.

Tim made me a mom.

Tim came along when I was 25. I thought I remembered how I felt during his pregnancy and birth, but after finding my handwritten journal notes from that time, I realize my memory had faded quite a bit.

Tim was our first. My only childcare experience came from having a much younger brother and doing a little babysitting as a teenager. So, I guess I felt ready and prepared. After all, back in those days, you took classes in “prepared childbirth.” Since I took the classes, I must have been ready. But it turns out I wasn’t at all prepared.

One journal entry a month before his birth mentions we had a crib and one or two onesies but that was it. There hadn’t yet been a baby shower and I hadn’t bought anything else including diapers. My notes mention wanting to meet this little one (didn’t know if the baby was a boy or girl in those days until out they came!), but they also mentioned we weren’t exactly set up for the new arrival.

And once he did arrive, the notes talk about being depressed and feeling inadequate. My heart aches for the 1979 me. I can’t remember how it was, but it must have been lonely. I know I was thoroughly in love with my new baby, but I also read about how much of a failure I felt.

Thankfully, the depression lifted and Greg and I fell into our new parental roles with great, great joy.

About Tim

Timmy, as we called him, was adventurous, fun-loving, a sweet friend and protector to his little sister, and a delight. He had his own sense of style and on any given day his over the knee sox were either pulled completely up or rolled perfectly down to his ankles.

As a man, he takes amazing care of his family, loves them fiercely, continues to enjoy a great sense of style (though his knee sox gave way to black no-see-um ones), thrives on workouts at the gym, probably knows the songs to every Disney movie as his own little princesses watch them over and over again, and all in all makes this mama very proud.

Don’t blink.

Really, don’t blink. The growing up years are so hard at times. You want to do everything right but often do it all wrong. As a mom, you lament your mistakes and hope and pray your kids will forgive you and turn out ok. Sometimes you wish ahead, wondering what they will be like in their teens or 20s. You imagine them finding a special someone to love, having a great job they like, and then having children of their own. But if you do too much of that, you can miss the special every day moments that are precious gifts from God.

So, to other young parents, be careful about wishing time away. Treasure “the now” each day. Love hard on your kids. Forgive yourself, knowing your kids have a great capacity to forgive, too. Enjoy their sticky hands and artwork…even on the walls. Be understanding and sympathetic. Enjoy silly times with them dancing like no one’s watching, telling stories in bed at night or making shadow shapes on the ceiling.

Go to their ball games and listen to them make music, even when they choose drums and play loudly! Smile at first dates and give plenty of limits when they learn to drive. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and have high expectations. But don’t let those expectations keep you from enjoying the smaller successes along the way.

There are no do-overs.

This mother, at times, wishes she could have raised her kids with the knowledge and experience she now possesses. But there are no do-overs…until you have grandkids. Then you have that opportunity to shower all your “I-love-you-no-matter-what” kind of love on them and on your adult kids as they navigate parenting.

Tim is one of my great joys in life and I’m cherishing the opportunity to spend his 40th birthday weekend with him. To hear about one of my other great joys, stay tuned…because my No. 2 turns 40 next year!

Love to all,

Mimi

Clearly, I can Identify

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

While the boys were here recently, I served up some dessert: mint chocolate chip ice cream with whipped cream on top. And I must say, I could truly relate to Callan’s instructions. “Just a little ice cream with lots and lots and lots of whipped cream.” You can tell from the picture, he was one happy camper.

I have often said over the years when asked about dessert, “Yes, I would love some. But hold the dessert and just give me the whipped cream.” Okay, okay, I never actually said it out loud, but it’s definitely what I was thinking in my mind!

Callan and I are of the same mind concerning whipped cream. You can never have too much!

Reflecting Christ to Others

Sharing something in common with one of your grands is a treasured experience. But my prayer as a grandma is that my grands will find something in me they want to share that is much more valuable than a love for whipped cream: a desire to love God and know Him more each day.

That’s a tall order, isn’t it! But at this point in my life, it’s the most important thing I can share with my loved ones…especially my well-loved little ones.

Matthew 5:16:

…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

My Prayer

Father, my prayer is that my life will truly be a reflection of You with my actions and words pointing others to You, and You alone.

Mimi