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Thankfully, God Looks at the Heart

While taking a walk today, I saw this in the sky. Kind of looks like a funny cloud, doesn’t it? But I know differently and for that, it made me smile. It made me happy. And it served to remind me of God’s love.

So how could a funny cloud do all that? Because I know what is really going on beyond what you see. About 30 minutes earlier I had seen some letters in the sky put there by a local skywriter. On a day with no breeze, the letters stay up quite a while, enabling you to clearly see a reminder of God’s love. With today being breezy, the letters were barely visible and for only a brief period of time, but having lived in the area since 1999 I knew the message beyond what I was actually seeing. And that’s why I smiled.

Here’s a typical message written in our skies: Jesus Loves U. (Want to know more? Here’s a LINK to an article from 2011 about the Holy Smoke pilots.)

As I walked this afternoon and saw the “funny cloud” I was indeed smiling because I knew in reality it was a message of hope and inspiration. It didn’t matter to me that the message was obscured because I knew what wasn’t showing. And this reminded me of how our Lord sees us.

We often look at our lives, look at our actions and judge ourselves harshly. We are unable to see potential; we instead see ourselves through obscured sight. But the Lord sees clearly and He sees someone He loves and has a plan for. He sees who we are in Him and through Him.

Whether or not you have a skywriter in your area posting reminders of God’s tremendous love for you, please be encouraged to know:

  • You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. (1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message)
  • For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 New Living Translation)
  • But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 New International Version)

Anyone struggling to see yourself as God sees you? Please let me know. It would be my privilege to pray for you.

Mimi

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Oops.

Salvaged freezer items.

Two oops actually. (1) I forgot to schedule this post for Monday so am posting it today instead. And (2), read on to learn about my next oops.

Recently, hubby and I spent an afternoon combining a trip to Costco with catching a movie at a theater, both about 35 minutes away. Knowing we would be gone for hours and also knowing we would be purchasing refrigerator items that needed to remain cold, right before hopping into the car we pulled out some bags of ice and ice packs from the freezer, tossing them in the cooler.

We did our Costco run, saw the movie, and arrived home about 4 hours later. The Costco items were still cold from being in the cooler so we felt very successful about our trip.

But upon entering the garage I began to hear a very distinctive beeping which turned out to be the freezer alarm. You guessed it. The freezer door had been open the entire time and it was now dripping with melting ice, circulating warm air, sending water all over the garage floor, and it was easy to see many items were already ruined. So, we quickly began mopping up the water, tossing out the ruined food, and then we turned our attentions on figuring out what, if anything, could be saved.

Cooked goodies.

I ended up with lots of blueberries I had lovingly picked by hand several months prior, a bunch of chicken and ground beef that was still cool to the touch, and a few other odds and ends. Everything else was pretty much mush and was thrown away.

But my afternoon was just beginning because now came the task of doing something with what remained. So, I cooked. The raw chicken and beef became dinner over the next few days with the remainder going in to the freezer for future meals. The bread products were eaten over the next week. But all those blueberries…what to do!

With the blueberries, I made a crumb pie, muffins, and the remaining berries were cooked down with thickeners to be used for pie or a cobbler in the future.

I have to admit; the situation didn’t get the better of me. I was grateful we were able to save some of the items. Plus, I learned a very important lesson. And while I’ve owned freezers for decades without a problem like this, I now am very careful to be double sure the door is completely closed after I retrieve an item.

And through it all I laughed. Laughed that it happened, laughed that I had to quickly get in the kitchen for several hours to try to salvage what I could. And even laughed at throwing out the entire blueberry pie because I hadn’t thoroughly drained the berries after thawing and the excess juice soaked the crust in a very unappetizing way. It was basically a horrible pie.

Life kind of hits us like that every now and then. Sometimes we’re more prepared than others. But in all cases, we need to make the best of the situation, deal directly with whatever is happening in a timely way, try to view it from God’s perspective, and when necessary…learn from it.

Freezer items aren’t a big deal to lose. Yes, it cost me some time and yes, we lost the value of many items, but it was fixable. But when life hits us hard, it isn’t always immediately fixable and sometimes losing money or health is devastating. And most times there really isn’t anything to laugh about.

But after walking with the Lord for years, this I do know: God is still God. He still loves me and He still loves you. We may not understand all that’s happening and most times we don’t have his perspective on what is happening or why; but He is completely trustworthy.

Those two precious Bible verses from (Proverbs 3:5-7a) that we know and love remind us of this: From The Message: Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!

And from the New International Version the same verse reads: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.

I certainly haven’t learned to do this consistently but I’m welcoming lessons that will help me more clearly see that so much of what we worry about really doesn’t matter. What matters is keeping our eyes on Him, seeking His plan, following Him, and learning to completely trust Him to take care of us.

How about you? Any life lessons you’ve learned that you’d care to share?

Mimi

 

Pardon me, boy…is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?

Can you guess where we went recently? If you guessed Chattanooga, you got it. And it was wonderful.

Living in a flat state with palm trees and very few other trees that actually change color, it was a thrill to travel to Tennessee and view the very beginnings of autumn’s explosion of color along with majestic mountain ranges.

The 9-hour car ride was quite enjoyable because we were armed with our favorite travel foods (Cheez-Its and peanut M&Ms). Not exactly healthy, but sure fun to enjoy while the miles just roll on by. But besides the yummy snacks, it was so nice to see mountains come into view for a delightful change of scenery.

The main purpose of the trip was to meet up with Greg’s brother and sister-in-law. Because they live in Ohio, we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like to but Chattanooga, as it turns out, is about the same distance from our homes so it was the perfect meeting spot.

If you haven’t been, you should consider it for an upcoming get-away. Lookout Mountain has several attractions including Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the incline railway. And the city of Chattanooga is small and easy to navigate. The name itself comes from the Creek Indian work for “rock coming to a point” which refers to Lookout Mountain.

You’ll find museums, sculptures, a walking bridge, a steamboat to take you on a lunch tour, a fantastic aquarium, and some great restaurants. They have a free shuttle that allows you to park once and travel all day, hopping on and off wherever you like.

In its hay day, Chattanooga was a big railroad town with nearly “all trains traveling South passing through. And the original Chattanooga Choo Choo train was Cincinnati Southern Railroad’s small wood burning steam locomotive that started its journey through history from Cincinnati, Ohio on March 5, 1980. The wood-burning Choo Choo was the first to provide non-stop service.” (www.choochoo.com/about/history)

Some of the original railroad tracks are cleverly designed into the pavers surrounding the aquarium right beside plaques showing the lyrics and melody line of Glenn Miller’s famous song of the same name. Don’t be surprised if after reading this blog post and viewing the above pictures you find yourself humming that song, too.

Visiting new places is so much fun. Doing it with family is even better. And getting to see family members you don’t see often enough is just priceless.

Where are some of your favorite places to visit?

Mimi

Rush, rush…rushing to history!

As grandparents, we are often on the lookout for creative ways to be more involved in the lives of our grands. Recently, I’ve embarked on an adventure that’s both creative and enables me to spend more time with my grandsons. Reading a book each night using my Facetime app.

This isn’t necessarily an original idea, but it’s been so much fun I thought I’d share it with you.

Our first book is Book 1 in the Rush Limbaugh history series for kids, “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.” From his forward: “(This country) is a land built on true freedom and individual liberty and it defends both around the world. The role of the United States is to encourage individuals to be the best that they can be, to try to improve their lives, reach their goals, and make their dreams come true.”

What a great way to teach history and the truth of our country’s foundation, through historical fiction with adventurous kids, an amazing current day history teacher, a talking horse, and the ability to time travel (which is always preceded by the words “Rush, rush…rushing to history”).

The chapters are long, so I divide them into 2-3 readable segments of 15-20 minutes each. Konnor typically initiates the Facetime call and while holding the phone in one hand, and the book in the other I begin reading.

To make it as enjoyable as possible, I use acting skills to try to create memorable characters. Along the way I’ll stop and ask for word definitions or I’ll explain things I believe the boys might not understand such as the difference between a wharf and a pier (I had to look it up). At the beginning of each reading, I either review what happened previously or ask Konnor for the recap.

While reading, I’ll also be sure to point the camera on the many pictures in the book which are both real photos as well as illustrations, just like you would if I were reading a book to them in person.

Our typical time to read is bedtime which is just perfect! What kid doesn’t want a bedtime story. And what grandma doesn’t love that she’s not only sharing a story but history as well.

It’s just another way to connect with my boys. And when I see the girls this weekend, I’ll see if they would like to do something similar, although I’m sure it will be more along the lines of princesses or Disney characters.

I love finding creative ways to connect with and be involved in the lives of my sweet grandkids. Have any of your own thoughts? Feel free to share them by replying to this post.

Mimi

Look up!

Don’t you love these pictures? They are, of course, from our recent encounter with the solar eclipse. No matter who used their special glasses to view this amazing sight, everyone struck the same pose.

But as awesome as it was to see the eclipse (though people in Clermont, FL only had a cloudy sky to view), the reminder to me when looking at this collage of eclipse viewers is that this is what our daily walk with the Lord should be.

Always looking up, looking not toward the sun but instead toward The Son…the One who loves beyond our understanding, the One who gives guidance, the One who has the answers, the One for whom our soul longs.

There was so much excitement for one relatively brief period of time…so much preparation, so much forethought. So much anticipation. Like me, many prepared only to be disappointed that the cloud cover interfered with any possibly viewing. And now we wait, as the next one won’t be until 2024.

But there is no disappointment for those who put their hope in Christ Jesus. And there’s no waiting either. He is with us every moment of every day. No special glasses needed. Just a broken and contrite heart reaching out towards the One who promises to always be with us, to the One who paid a sacrificial price to call us His own, to the One who is calling us His own.

This Labor Day, are you weary of your earthly efforts? Are you finding that all you work for still doesn’t satisfy the longing in your soul? Then I invite you to seek out the Christ, the Messiah, and discover He indeed is the Answer you are searching for.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

Mimi

Eternal Beauty

Recently I enjoyed lunch out with my hubby and my dad. Lunch itself was the reward after lots of errand running. The restaurant was barely busy which for us was just wonderful. We took our time and enjoyed being together. In honor of seeing my dad, I wore a bracelet and necklace set he and Mom had given me a few years ago.

About the time we dropped Dad back at his place, I realized my bracelet was gone. The necklace was there, but not the bracelet. I didn’t panic but made a thorough search (or two or three) of my purse and the car. I retraced my steps to Dad’s apartment twice. Still no bracelet.

When I began adding up all the places we had been it became overwhelming but Greg agreed we needed to go back to each one. Since I had also been to Publix and CVS which are fairly close to Dad, I called and spoke to someone at Publix who assured me the bracelet had not been turned in.

So, we began our hunt, starting at the farthest point and working our way back. After four stops we ended up back at Red Lobster but despite a thorough search we did not find the bracelet. We continued toward home with a stop at CVS where we verified the bracelet was not there. That left only one place and despite the earlier conversation with Publix, we decided to head over anyway so we could look through the aisles.

And sure enough, it was there. Someone had turned it in. And while the person answering the phone earlier didn’t know it was there, it was indeed safely in a drawer at the Customer Service counter. I had to laugh at the irony because Publix was closest to my Dad’s place but when the rep told me it wasn’t there an hour earlier we drove to all the other places first.

Would I have survived if I hadn’t found the bracelet? Certainly. After all, it’s just jewelry. Yes, a gift, yes from my parents, but it has no lasting eternal value. And while I’m delighted to have it back, I was reminded of the verses in 1 Peter 3:3-4:

Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful. Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.

Don’t you love the way that’s written? And it’s exactly what I hope to show the world…not an outward beauty that can be fleeting but the inward beauty of belonging to God and resting in His assurance of peace and eternal life.

How about you? Where does your beauty come from?

Mimi

Prickly or Peachy…Being Perfected in God’s Love

One of the things I enjoy doing on my somewhat daily walks through my community is to observe: people, cars, landscaping, etc. I find it so fascinating to see how common things are used so differently from place to place.

On today’s walk I picked up yet another pine cone. We have many different pine trees and the pine cones are just as different. And they all appeal to me. But today I picked up a closed one and immediately was pricked with the unopened spikes. To add insult to that, sap smeared all over my hands that several washings with soap have yet to remove. Hmmppfff. Not so nice is it.

Compare that to my other two pretty, opened pine cones that I found last week. I was thinking how much nicer they are…and yet, there’s still something about the one I found today that draws me to it.

And finally, of course, there’s my pine cone wreath which I’ve shared with you before. A completely different use of them, that resulted in something unique and beautiful.

Like the pine cones, people are different. Some are prickly; they just rub you the wrong way. Others are sticky; their negativity is hard to remove and seems to stay with you. Some are open as if to say I’ll happily share my life with you. And others are somewhat open meaning they’ll be transparent to the degree they are comfortable with. Others seems to already have been put to a unique use and they look pretty and inviting.

And to throw in a little twist, I present you with a peach. Smooth, inviting, sweet-smelling, delicious inside, tender…all in all a perfect fruit. Of course, there is that large pit you have to deal with!

All that to say, God doesn’t call us to be loners. Despite our many differences, despite our personality traits that can be off-putting to others, despite that our outside may not in any way reflect what’s truly going on inside, we’re called together. To love one another. To counsel one another. To bear one another’s burdens. To rejoice with each other and to mourn with each other. Most of all, to love one another.

It may not be easy to throw your arms around a prickly pine cone of a person, but that hug is probably just what they need. And you may be rebuffed if you see a somewhat open pine cone of a person only to find out they’re willing to share only so much of their lives. And beware the peach. They may seem fine on the outside and you may be drawn to them but remember, even they have large pits inside they’re dealing with.

Let’s be willing to share our lives with each other in big ways, in small ways…but all with the love of Christ. Not only will it bless those other pine cones and peaches, but you’ll be blessed as well.

Dear friends, let us continuously love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Mimi