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Wash day sure has changed!

Taking advantage of the beautiful day here in ever-sunny central Florida, I gathered up a bunch of masks, washed them by hand, and laid them out to dry.

Back in the house finishing up a few more chores, the masks caught my eye through the glass door. Shaking my head, I sighed at how much life has changed for us this year. It wasn’t that long ago it would have seemed ridiculous to have a bunch of masks drying in the sun.

Laundry Day

Wash day is pretty simple with just two of us. And because we live a simple lifestyle, we generally have only two piles to contend with: clothes and bedding/towels.

But now we have a third pile: masks. And I’m not about to toss them in with everything else. Most have been created and sewn by friends and they hold great meaning to me. I just don’t want to chance anything happening to them if mixed in with the general laundry.

The effort began.

Today you can buy masks anywhere, but in those early pandemic days, paper masks quickly sold out and the internet was not yet playing tutorial after tutorial on how to make them yourself. So, people dusted off their sewing machines and started experimenting. They shared ideas and materials with others. They formed assembly lines. Many worked hours trying to make enough to supply to their family, friends, and neighbors. Most were not asking for anything in return except donations of more materials.

We collected bread twist ties to be used for the shapeable nose pieces. Any material you had in a back-room drawer was donated. And the hunt was on for elastic. All of a sudden there was no elastic so the needs were posted on Facebook as more donations poured in. In our community, people came together to ensure everyone had at least one mask. One neighbor put a table outside her house with a pile of masks stating they were free for residents.

Doctors’ offices were out of masks as well. I remember when a woman came in without one. She was one of three adults in her household, all with compromised health issues. And she was frantic to find one for each person. I don’t sew, but thinking about the mask I was wearing, I volunteered to get her three. Since she came weekly, I wrote down her name and told her they would be there when she had her next appointment. And they were. Not because of me, but because of the giving nature of my friend. Despite all the other people she was sewing masks for, she made three more for these strangers.

Soon after that, my friend and many others, became part of a large volunteer team from our church. Together they made thousands of masks for the community, including very special ones for every graduating high school senior.

They have meaning.

My masks are many and diverse at this point. I have a few from the insurance company and some that our county provided but all the others were sewn by someone I love. Every single one of them has meaning and is precious to me. They remind me of God and His protection both directly and indirectly through others. And they remind me that I am loved and cared for by friends…people who don’t have to love me, but who have chosen to love me. And who demonstrate that love in oh so many ways. Masks included.

Love, Mimi

Sometimes someone else says it best.

J. Lee Grady, one of my favorite columnists, writes for Charisma Magazine and I’ve followed him for years. Often, I find his writings mirror my own (maybe that’s why I like him so much!) and they are stated clearly and compassionately.

His July 15 post can be divisive because it clearly states his opinions about the “cancel” culture where our freedom of religion, the right to assemble, and freedom of speech are being threatened daily. He says “A storm is brewing today that threatens to blow away those rights.” You can READ HIS POST HERE.

And I totally agree.

I happen to agree with him and believe his statements tell the truth—and as we know, truth often divides—because it causes people to determine if they stand for truth or if they instead go along with the rhetoric of the day, with what’s popular to say or think at the moment, or with the current cause or movement.

I know, I know, this is quite unlike me. And not at all in keeping with my typical Mimi stories. I’m a conservative Republican, child of God who happens to believe the Bible…ENTIRELY. I may not always understand everything God’s Word says, but I trust God, the Author, and I’m completely assured of His amazing, never ending love for each one of us.

To share or not to share your opinion…

The article I share with you today is meaningful because I see more and more that sharing an opinion can now be labeled as a hate crime if it doesn’t conform to current thinking by whoever determines what current thinking should or must be. In the current hypersensitive climate, you can quickly be banned from social media for stating something you’ve stated for years.

I’m allowed (at least for the moment) to hold my own personal beliefs about nearly everything, but if I share those beliefs with others, I may be accused of spreading hate or not having compassion or simply holding a wrong opinion.

It seems that at this moment in history freedom of speech (and thought) is no longer reserved for everyone in this country, but only for those who follow the crowd.

The TRUTH will set you free.

I’ve been challenged by this article and by what I see going on around me. First of all, I want to be known as a Child of God. Second, I want others to see God’s love in me. And third, I hope to stay the course as a truth-seeker, as one who is willing to defend truth, and as one who is willing to take a stand for it. Believers in God know the Truth is a person…Jesus Christ. And following after Him is the place to start on anyone’s truth seeking journey.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

This doesn’t mean my Mondays With Mimi stories are going to change. Not at all. Mostly, I’m a grandma who loves God and my family and who wants to share that my readers. But for today, it was important to put myself out there, to take a stand for truth, and to proclaim from the rooftops Jesus IS the Truth.

Love, Mimi

Hidden from View

Hope your Father’s Day was enjoyable. We spoke with the kids and with Dad. Everyone is well. Everyone is content. But most of all…everyone is loved.

The pics that begin this post are just gross. Disgusting even. Hidden from view, I knew the yuck was there and Sunday morning was the day we finally pulled out the stove to take a peek. It was as expected.

Spills, drips, and dropped items were revealed and it nearly made me gag. Funny, isn’t it? That yuck was there all along but it didn’t bother me until I saw it. Then the realization hit me that it had been there for nearly four years. Yes, FOUR YEARS. That’s how long we’ve lived in this house.

What you don’t see is the complete picture. Greg had already started vacuuming before I called out to stop so I could take a picture. So, it was worse. Much worse.

God’s Revelation

It didn’t take long for me to realize God was showing me a picture of…me. There’s lots of hidden stuff in my life. Some has been carefully hidden by me, on purpose. Perhaps there are actions or thoughts I’m not proud of. Maybe I’ve even repented and spoken with God about them. But I’m not ready to share them with others so they hide behind my cheery smile or acts of kindness.

No doubt, there are also hidden things I would be surprised to discover: things I’ve said or done, feelings of jealousy, actions I should have taken but didn’t. I’m sure the list is long. If I remain content to “leave the stove untouched” I may never discover what God would like to clean up.

But if I bravely allow Him to bring to light that which is hidden, and if I acknowledge and repent of sin, then glorious freedom awaits. Freedom from shame, freedom from the oppression of sin, freedom from carrying burdens by myself.

God tells us in Ephesians 5: 11-14 to expose sin, to shine light upon it as light makes everything visible. Easy? Not really. Scary? At times yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

Questions to Ask

Is it time to allow God to do some deep cleaning? Are you willing to let Him move the stove of your life away from the wall to see what’s behind it and out of sight? I’m right there with you asking those same questions. And when we answer YES, we can be assured God will expose, clean, and forgive.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Love, Mimi

Something Beautiful

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

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

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

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

God ever so carefully and lovingly gets to work.

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

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

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

Something Beautiful

(Bill Gaither)

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

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

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

With love…Mimi

A simple feeling of joy…and appreciation…to God.

05-25-2020 answered prayer Two weeks ago, I received an answer to prayer. An answer that was nearly 4 years in the making.

Prior to our 1999 move to Florida, we had a bird feeder right outside our dining room window that provided all sorts of enjoyment with the wide variety of song birds who came to visit for a quick bite.

Once we moved to Orlando, there were plenty of birds but we now had a pool between our house and the backyard which meant any bird feeder would need to be placed on the other side of the screen enclosure and it would be very difficult to watch the birds. They were simply too far away. We tried various feeders and positions over the years but finally gave up.

In 2016, we moved to beautiful, hilly Clermont. Our development, begun 5 years before, was still in the building phase. The more established neighborhoods were quieter and a large variety of birds soared overhead, singing as they went by. This encouraged us to hang a feeder outside the kitchen window of our new house. With great anticipation, we waited…and waited…and waiter.  Three and a half years later, we were still waiting.

At first, we thought they weren’t coming because they were still building in our neighborhood. But within a year, the building was finished, and still no birds. I kept filling the bird feeder to no avail. They seemed content to sing nearby and fly overhead, but they had little interest in what we were offering. After a while, the feeder went into the garage…until a few weeks ago when I renewed my interest in trying to lure them to our house by filling it up once again and hanging it in a nearby tree.

I completely forgot about the feeder.

Once the feeder was hanging outside my kitchen window, I simply forgot about it. A few days later, though the hubster noticed the seed level seemed to be down a bit. Then one day, two weeks ago, while sitting at the table I heard a song bird. Hoping against hope, I quietly arose and looked through the shutters to discover not one but two little birds enjoying a mid-morning snack.

I had to snap a picture through the shutters and the screen so it’s not great, but I share it with you along with a picture of what I believe them to be: red finches. I couldn’t wait to tell Greg and show him the pictures.

05-25-2020 birds            05-25-2020 red finch

 

 

 

 

Delighted as I was, I wondered if they would return. They did. And continue to. Yesterday there was just one and he completely charmed me as he dipped his entire head into the feeder to grab his seeds.

I talk to them and encourage them to invite others. What a joy it would be to have several varieties stop by. Maybe they will…in time.

God is so kind.

With great kindness, God has answered my prayer to bring me some song birds. What He creates is just beautiful and my heart is full.

Whether it takes 3-1/2 years or even longer, God cares about everything in your life. All the big things but all the little things, too. A song bird may not be at the top of your prayer list, but here’s what I know. My Heavenly Father loves me beyond measure and chose to bring me a couple of song birds recently, just to express that love. And I’m enjoying every moment of it.

Mimi

It’s downright shocking!

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

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

Yet, I’m grateful for them all.

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

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

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

But is that all I see?

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

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

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

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

God has more for you.

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

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

Mimi

This and that.

Just checking in to see what everyone is up to.

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

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

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

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

I’m a to-do list person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your week.

Mimi

My Mask Keeps my iPhone from Recognizing Me

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

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

Contactless Payment

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

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

One Problem Soon Came to Light

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

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

We all wear masks from time to time.

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

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

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

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

God calls to us.

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

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

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

My prayer:

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

Mimi

A Lesson in Trust

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

What am I talking about?

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

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

A treasure.

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

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

From September 1995

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

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

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

How here’s the real picture.

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

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

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

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

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

My prayer:

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

Mimi

When life hands you lemons…

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

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

That offer to help has had so many blessings.

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

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

It was something so simple.

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

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

Mimi