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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

Grandson Fun

How is your summer going? In Florida, we are quite hot and this past week the Saharan dust cloud finally reached us. The hazy sky apparently means beautiful sun rises but this grandma, rarely sees the sun coming up so I’ll have to trust the experts on that one.

For the past few years, we’ve held Mimi Camp each year. The two granddaughters will come for a week and on a different week the two grandsons will be here.

The weeks are busy with lots of activities, crafts, swimming, staying up late, playing games, baking cookies, riding bikes and scooters, playing backyard softball, etc. But the tradition had to be changed up a bit this year due to…well, you-know-what!

A few weeks ago, we held our first mini-camp when we went to visit the girls for several days during the work week. It was wonderful to spend that time with the girls as we hadn’t seen them since Christmas. And it also gave their parents some more focused time for work. Win-win. I hope to hold another mini-camp for them later this summer.

This past week it was the boys’ turn to spend a few nights with us. It was a little challenging this year because the pottery place isn’t open so that was off the table. And our community pool was also not available to anyone other than residents. But in Clermont, we have a treasure in our beautiful lakefront.

So, two of the three days were spent there swimming in the red water. No kidding. It’s actually quite red from the tannins released by the surround cypress trees. Doesn’t hurt the swimmer and it’s very cool to look at. Plus, it’s nicely warm which this Mimi prefers.

Our fun craft was making a patriotic flag out of paint stirrers. Each of the boys made their own…just in time for Independence Day.

The boys’ mini-camp will also be repeated in a month or so. Hopefully, this time, our pool will be available to them. But if not, Lake Minneola awaits.

When you have a minute, please comment and let me know what you’re this summer with your own grands.

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

Blind Spots: We all have them.

Hubby has been playing more golf the past few years so he decided some lessons were in order to help improve his game. Six lessons later, he is still amazed at how helpful it’s been.

The pro watches Greg in action and is quickly able to make an assessment. From a full swing to putting to lining up a shot, she is able to see what he is not aware of. Greg then makes the suggested corrections and adjustments and the change is often immediate. After each lesson, he is greatly encouraged and anxious to put what he’s learned into practice.

This week he talked with the pro about lining up a shot, something he has great difficulty with. Don’t know if it’s because of his lazy eye condition but Greg will take his time, carefully line up his shot, only to see it go way off the intended path. And that’s not only frustrating but it changes up his game.

While the pro was unable to change how Greg “sees” things, instead she helped him learn to compensate for how “off” the shot is. It’s really a simple solution. And while Greg is now applying it to his golf game, it has many life applications as well.

Compensation doesn’t have to be negative.

Learning to compensate for our blind spots enables the possibility of success. And while we do this in many areas of life such as wearing hearing aids when our hearing fails or using a cane to help with stability, there are other areas where we feel compensating for a deficiency is a bad thing—as if it shows a failure on our part.

My retirement is one example where a giant blind spot threatened to keep me from doing the right thing. I had a retirement date in mind that seemed good to me. It was a well-thought out plan and made sense.

But things began to change with my mom’s health at the same time my work environment became a bit less friendly. I was dreading work and not happy being there while simultaneously wishing I had more time to visit my mom. But with skewed vision, I felt trapped and stressed. There seemed to be no answer.

Blind spots keep us from seeing the truth.

My blind spot bound me, causing an inability to change or make a decision. But Greg’s advice, coming from a different perspective, was able to get through. In the same way his golf pro showed him how to compensate for his inability to properly line up a shot, Greg was able to show me a different way of looking at my work situation and suggested I retire one year early.

Peace immediately washed over me because I knew he was right, and two days later I handed in my resignation.

The definition of compensation is something that counterbalances or makes up for an undesirable or unwelcome state of affairs. Thankfully, Greg did this for me when he compensated my lack of wisdom with his wise suggestion, and it made all the difference.

Let’s celebrate how God created us and rejoice knowing He provided His body (of believers) to help us. A blind spot or weakness no longer holds power over us, if we gratefully embrace His wise provision.

A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part. It takes many parts to make a single body…God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. (From 1 Corinthians 12—read entire chapter for context.)

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

Thank you to our many unsung heroes!

During a casual text exchange with my daughter last Wednesday, she happened to mention the flyover about to take place. The National Guard was sending two F-15C’s over several area hospitals to honor health care workers and first responders caring for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Our town’s hospital was on the list and we had about 20 minutes to reach a good viewing spot.

Quickly hopping in the car, we drove to a high point right next to the hospital. But we weren’t the only ones there. My photo doesn’t do it justice but I would assume there were around 75 people. Across the street and around the corner were even more. Young, old, frail—people just came to view the jets and to join in honoring some brave men and women.

Within moments, people began pointing as my husband said “There they are.” The silence of this peaceful day was soon broken as the jets approached. People shielded their eyes from the strong Florida sun, hoping to catch a good glimpse as engines roared overhead.

The actual flyover only lasted a few seconds. The crowd quickly dispersed as silence once again returned. My heart was happy. I loved being a part of this small crowd and feeling as if the very act of seeing the fighter jets helped me be a part of thanking so many people who were giving selflessly of their time. The whole experience was moving and quite heartwarming.

But wait…

It is good and right to honor our health care workers and first responders. But there are so many others involved in this fight also. So many others who deserve a thank-you. Some you see, and some you don’t. City, county, state, and national leaders are working tirelessly. Teachers and students are mastering the virtual environment while parents are supervising distance learning. Technology has enabled connections to be maintained with many having to learn new ways to master this all-important skill.

Numerous, unsung, unnoticed people involved in this fight include scientists, researchers, city workers, grocery store employees, essential businesses, manufacturing and food industry workers. And neighbors. Those who live among us, perhaps right next to us.

Many of these neighbors are sewing masks by the hundreds, some being sold but many simply being given away. Other neighbors are fostering rescue animals to the point that many of the shelters are empty. Some neighbors are checking in with others to ensure their well-being. Others are picking up groceries for those who can’t or shouldn’t leave their homes.

Neighbors are posting encouraging messages on social media while others use it to let people know where they can buy toilet paper, Clorox wipes, or even yeast. They are visiting in driveways in the cool of the evening, sitting six-feet apart but hanging with and encouraging each other. They are walking and biking while they wave and greet others, offering a sweet hello in an otherwise typical, perhaps routine day.

We are in this together.

We truly are all in this together. And all deserve a big shout-out. But today, I especially want to say thank you to all the unsung heroes out there. Those who are overlooked and under-appreciated.

You are vital to us in this time and we see you. We truly see you…and thank you.

Mimi

A phone call makes a world of difference.

A phone call can be like a breath of fresh air. As was the case when my friend recently called me to say Happy Mother’s Day.

I met Helen when she lived in Celebration, Florida, where I was working at the time. We connected immediately, no doubt due to the love and presence of Jesus that radiated from every pore in her body, through her twinkling eyes, in her sweet words, and in her welcoming embrace.

Though she moved up north several years ago, but still stay in touch. Our phone calls may not be frequent but when we talk, it’s like no time at all has passed. And our conversation inevitably turns to our shared love for God.

In Saturday’s conversation, Helen made a comment that was profound. After acknowledging how grateful she was for technology and how during quarantine it has enabled her to stay in touch and “see” her family, she said that the purpose of today’s call was to hear my voice. Texting and email are fine, but she needed to hear me.

I completely understood.

Our adult kids quickly adapted to technology. And we older folk have had to embrace it as well because that’s what our families use to communicate. Texting is the name of the game. Phone calls are rare, often only used to convey an emergency situation or something else super important.

Likewise, a handwritten note is a thing of the past, voicemails are sporadic, and emails…do our kids even write emails other than for work?

Helen went on to say it’s not just that texting is the preferred communication choice, but that younger generations share info in short snippets. Poor grammar and spelling errors are excused, and if emotions are involved, no words needed, just toss in an emoji.

While this type of communication is better than not communicating at all, there are some pitfalls. You miss the joy of simply hearing the voice of a loved one. The older we get, the more meaningful it becomes to hear that voice. It seems many of us, by necessity, have adapted to the younger generation’s choice of brief text messages yet they have not returned the favor by adapting to our need to actually hear them tell us things.

Eliminating conversations also means we lose out on the verbal clues that are picked up not from the words spoken but by the emotion behind them, or by things not said, even by the pauses and silence. These clues are absolutely vital and enable a deeper level of understanding as they bypass the spoken or texted words.

In the last five years of my mom’s life, she wanted to talk to me every day. Because it wasn’t something I yet needed (and therefore didn’t understand) I had to make myself call. I also had to change my attitude if she called more than once a day. It didn’t take long to realize speaking with her daily was a gift not only for her, but for me as well. What I wouldn’t give to hear her voice once again.

While I can’t say if I will ever need a daily phone call, I can say that when my ears hear the voices of my loved ones, everything changes. Joy floods in, my mood is lightened, and my heart feels like I’ve received a warm embrace. At that moment, I know that I know I’m loved and cherished.

So, what’s the message and who am I speaking to?

The message to those younger than me is to stay in touch. Texting is good but throw in a phone call every now and then. We may not say it, but we need to hear your voice. We crave it at times. And hearing it changes everything.

And to folks my age…well, the message is the same. We, too, can rely on texting to show we care or are thinking about someone. It’s easy and quick. And perfect for staying in touch with those younger than us. Phone calls take time, and energy. But let’s remember how important they are and make every effort to call more often.

With ever so much love, 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