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Dress A Girl Around the World

I’m very excited this week to talk about a wonderful organization. There is much to tell so the post is about twice as long as usual. My hope is that by the time you finish reading, you’ll start thinking about getting involved yourself.

When I moved to a new community last September I came across a wonderful group of ladies who make dresses for little girls around the world. Through donations of material, time, and money, these ladies sew and send out brand new children’s dresses because “We dream of a world in which every girl has at least one new dress. We want girls to know that they are worthy of respect and that they are loved by God.” (http://www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com/)

Dress A Girl Around the World was established as a non-denominational organization in 2009 with a goal to bring dignity to women around the world. Since its start, Dress A Girl has delivered well over 300,000 dresses to 81 countries.

The Heritage Hills (Clermont, FL) group is a subgroup of Dressed in Hope located in Lake Nona (Orlando), Florida. It started organizing in 2015 under the direction of Linda Smith who wanted to “pay it forward” and she did! It is currently 60 members strong.

Some  make the dresses. Some make the little dolls that are tucked inside each dress pocket. There is even a fellow sewer from southern Florida that brings her dresses to Linda to be included in the shipments.

The ladies sew in their own homes but they come together to share their experiences. Through laughter and stories, every sweet dress is displayed and talked about. This show and tell time provides inspiration to continue on with this project.

Each dress is based on a pattern provided but the similarity ends there. With different fabrics, patterns, pocket placement, dolls, and embellishments, every little girl has their own unique creation. Dress a Girl Around the World believes every girl deserves a new dress so please visit their website (CLICK HERE) to see more photos of some very happy girls from around the world proudly wearing what may be their first new dress ever!

Twice a year a Bag N Tag event is organized to prepare the dresses for shipment. The usual tally from Dressed in Hope is around 200 dresses, made possible by the generous Heritage Hills community through donations of cash, fabric, and sewing notions. These donations keep Dressed in Hope going and as Dee states “We cannot thank everyone enough for thinking of us in this way.”

How Dress a Girl Around the World makes a difference (from their website):

By providing a new dress you may well be changing a young girl’s destiny.  We all know that a new dress makes us feel good, so imagine never having had one! A new dress tells each precious girl that God loves them, that someone else loves them enough to have made this dress especially for them. That makes a difference in how she feels about herself and can definitely change her destiny.

In addition, village pastors tell us that a girl wearing new dress presents an appearance that she is well cared for and may discourage would-be predators. Since we attach our Dress a Girl label on the outside of each dress, it sends an additional message that each girl is under the care of an organization, giving her added protection from those who would harm her, predators or traffickers.

The Invitation

You, too, can make a difference and are invited to get involved in any way you can.

Local people should contact Linda Smith at 407.656.0266 or Dee Kafka at 407.347.5085 for more info. And those from other areas can simply visit their website (CLICK HERE) for more info and to find out if there’s a local chapter in your area.

It’s been my pleasure to talk about this wonderful organization this week.

Like me, you may not be able to sew but perhaps you have materials or notions in a drawer, maybe you want to shop for some for someone else to sew, maybe you want to work at a bag and tag event, or maybe you want to donate money. All donations would be appreciated by a local Dress A Girl chapter or if none in your area there are ways to donate through their website.

Another great way to be involved is simply to share this on social media. I just bet there are others out there like myself who will want to become involved after learning about Dress A Girl and with your help we can spread the word.

A big shout-out to Deanna Kafka, one of the many Heritage Hills ladies who sews, for providing much of the info contained in this week’s post.

Mimi

It’s Mother’s Day…Again

Boy that went fast. It seems like just a few months ago I was facing my first Mother’s Day without my sweet Mama. But I didn’t write anything about it at the time because she had just passed away a few weeks prior.

Mom had been very sick and my dad was in rehab trying to recover form a severe head injury. With Mother’s Day coming just a few weeks after she died, hubby and I were pretty much in a daze. It didn’t even cross my mind that this was the first Mother’s Day without her.

But this year is a little different. I’m more aware that it’s Mother’s Day and there’s nothing I can do for her. No gift to make or buy. No special card to find that perfectly expresses my heart. No surprise visit to spend the day with her.

As I walk around the stores with their Mother’s Day displays my heart yearns to pick up a little something for Mom, only to be reminded that she’s no longer here.

Sigh…

It’s really ok. Most of my sadness has been replaced with the precious memories of having had a wonderful mother for so many years.

And even though Mom isn’t here this year, I can still honor her. I’ll look at her picture, spend some time remembering her, and mostly I’ll just be grateful. She really was someone special! And I was so blessed.

Mimi

Hellos and Goodbyes

There’s a quote that goes something like this (I’m changing up just a few words):

True friends (or family members) don’t say goodbye, they just take extended leaves of absences from each other.”

And another from Winnie the Pooh “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Hubby and I have had the wonderful opportunity this past month to say first hello, then goodbye to family and friends we hadn’t seen in a long time.

Of course, saying hello was the easy part. But that goodbye stuff, now that’s a different story.

I often describe it like this. We get used to not seeing some of our loved ones as often as we would like. It may be stinky but it’s the norm and you deal with it. But then comes the wonderful opportunity to visit. And it’s so indescribably good that you realize how much better life would be if you could see them all the time. And you also realize how much you miss them.

And this leads to lamenting that you don’t live closer, and that is followed by profound sadness until you once again come to accept it’s just the way it is.

So in April we said hello for five weeks to our brother and sister-in-law Jim and Linda. We also said hello for a few days to dear friends Bill and Sharon. Our time together was so sweet but all too swift. And before you know it we’re waving goodbye as the car leaves the driveway.

And while my heart aches at the goodbyes, waving as the car drives off, it also rejoices because sad goodbyes are simply indicative of how much we love them. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a very good thing.

How about you? Any happy hellos or sad goodbyes for you lately?

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

Beauty for Ashes

03-06-17-gardena 03-06-17-gardenbAs many of you know, we made a move in September from south Orlando where we had lived since 1999 to hilly, beautiful Clermont, about 40 minutes northwest.

Despite all my concerns about moving to a new area after our rather tumultuous 2016 and leaving behind the comfort of nearby friends, family, and familiar shopping and restaurants, it was the right thing to do and we love living here.

We ended up purchasing a new house in an active adult community where lots of building was still going on. In this community you don’t really have to do any outside yard work. Shrubs are planted when the house is built and those shrubs and lawn are taken care of by the association. Sounds good, right? Except for one thing: it’s very sterile.

While a few houses have some azalea’s installed during the building process, most just have boring, green shrubs. And if you decide to change it up, the gardens then become your responsibility. The desire to have a beautiful environment won out and hubby has gotten to work.

But it’s not just the fun of choosing plants and enjoying the gorgeous results, all the prep work must be done: removing sod, digging up gardens, redesigning the irrigation system, laying heavy landscape bricks, toting plants from the nursery, digging holes, lugging mulch, laying mulch, then the daily care of watering and fertilizing until everything takes root, as well as the ongoing care since all this meant you were giving up having the association provide future care. But the results are so worth it. And for our gardens, I have my wonderful husband to thank.

He has prepped three garden areas in the back and just this week we got one planted. So two to go, then mulch over everything but it looks so nice and he’s worked so hard I just wanted to publically share what he’s done to date and to say a big THANK YOU to my sweetheart.

Our lives so often reflect gardens. Sometimes they are in disarray where weeds of worry, troubled times, and sin have overtaken. Even if some hidden gem is still there, it can’t be seen because life has gotten rough and crowded out the prior beauty.

The answer? Restoration is possible and the beauty of your life will once again be displayed.

If sin is the culprit, then Jesus has done the hardest work of all and paid the price for that sin and our job becomes to confess and repent. “Now repent of your sings and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19).

If it’s worry, then we trust in God’s promises and do what I Peter 5:7 instructs: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

And when life is just plain hard, we remember Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.”

So let us not be despair of the work that may be required to allow the beauty to shine once again. Just as my yard went from stark to splendid, as the beauty in our lives is uncovered, it all reflects back on God and allows Him to be glorified in us (Isaiah 61:3).

Beauty for Ashes by Robert Whitney Manzano

He gave me beauty for ashes
The oil of joy for mourning
The garment of praise
For the spirit of heaviness
That we might be trees of righteousness
The planting of the Lord
That He might be glorified

Love you. Mimi