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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

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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

Somebody just turned 9 last week.

I became a grandma on August 8, 2008 when Konnor Finn was born. But when he started talking I became Mimi…a name I love to be called.

Last week was Konnor’s 9th birthday and what a day it was. He awoke to birthday love notes throughout the house, decorations galore, and a table filled with gifts and cards (one especially “sweet” gift was his Skittles shirt created for him by his brother Callan). His day began with a sprinkle donut, included an early stop to Toys R Us to spend that birthday money, then a trip to the wax museum, and a colossal “ice cream sandwich” that was enough for everyone to share. The fun continued all day as he enjoyed each gift and being the honored Birthday Boy.

     

I know you can all relate in how quickly those 9 years flew by. He was just a tiny little baby. And while we could see family resemblances, beyond that we all wondered about his future: what kind of personality he would have, what talents and tendencies he would display, his interests, whether he would be tall like his dad, if he would have an interest in sports or music, etc.

Nine years later we have a really good idea. Konnor is a high energy kid who loves to learn. Give him a fact and he’ll remember it forever. He is very mechanically inclined and most of his toys center on mechanics in one form or another: Legos, anything you can build, magnets, science experiments, RC cars. He can be extremely focused when something draws his attention such as his recent 6-hour “build” of a Lego pinball machine. Gathering his Legos, he found a video, followed it and figured out not only how the outside should look, but how the inside needed to function so the pinball machine would actually work. And it does; beautifully!

Not being mechanically inclined myself, I find this trait in Konnor amazing. I can follow a recipe or a set of directions, but to take the time to figure out how something works and spend the untold hours putting it together, sometimes doing things over and over again to make that happen…well, that is just about beyond me. But it’s not beyond our Konnor Finn.

That determination and ability to dig in to accomplish something you put your mind to will serve Konnor well and this Mimi is excited to see where it will lead in Konnor’s future.

Being a mom to my two wonderful kids was fulfilling and fun. I loved watching them learn each day and discover who they were, what they could accomplish and all about our amazing world. As a grandma, I get to enjoy it all over again, and I find I love it just as much…maybe more. Because this time I get to watch my adult kids have the same sense of wonder as they raise their children and observe them grow and change as they become who God created them to be.

Happy birthday, my precious Konnor. I love you to Heaven and back!

Mimi

Love Addie Style

Love Addie Style

When our daughter-in-law asked us a few months back to have Addison (who will turn 6 in another month) come stay with us several days this summer, I thought we were doing their family a favor. Little did I realize that the favor was to us and brought with it unbelievable joy.

For those who follow my Facebook or Instagram account, you saw the numerous pictures I enjoyed posting. Our adventures were varied and so much fun. We made 3-D paper fish origami style, we baked cupcakes from scratch, made pizza from scratch that we cooked outside on the grill, enjoyed a sleepover with the boy cousins, rode bikes, collected numerous snails from the huge amounts eating my hibiscus, played nighttime putt-putt, visited the Clermont splash pad (so much fun), played on the beachfront next to the splashpad, swam every single day for hours, did some shopping with Auntie Kate, visited with Poppy (my dad) where we swam and ate ice cream, played many games of Uno (and may I just say she’s definitely a card shark!), collected palm fronds and painted them to look like boats complete with cardboard smoke stacks, learned tongue twisters…oh, and did I mention many movies including Little Mermaid TWICE!

Every minute of it was precious. Addison is so smart and would amaze us with her conversational skills as well as her understanding of innuendo. She’s funny and could crack jokes with the best of them.

And while I loved it all, most of all I enjoyed making multiple trips into her bedroom each night just to watch her sleep. There’s just something about a sleeping child that warms your heart. You see the complete trust in being able to fall asleep at a place she’s never stayed at by herself. And you look at your granddaughter and see all the promise and possibility of what is to come. Sleep came easily to me those five nights she was here because my heart was so full.

And such a special thank you to my precious daughter who thought to take such a nice picture of me and Addison. I’m usually the one snapping the pics so to have a picture of the two of us, and one that’s just so good…well, that, too, is a gift from the heart.

The Bible reminds us that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). Which means with my own grown children and spouses, and my four grands, I’m very richly rewarded indeed.

Mimi

Grandpa Love

Relationships are fascinating. While most people love their family members equally, at times some of those relationships seem to have a little something extra, something special. It’s hard to explain but precious to see.

Case in point my niece Jacquie and my dad, her grandpa. My dad has six grandkids and he loves them all deeply but there’s always been just a little something extra special with Jacquie. And recently it was so clearly demonstrated by the photo above.

As we prepared to fly home from New York, I was busy in the kitchen making sandwiches for both the lunch and dinner we would be having while flying back. Jacquie joined me in the prep but said she wanted to make the sandwich for her grandpa…a special sandwich. And she certainly did.

My dad loves liverwurst. And while it makes my skin crawl to think about eating it, I’ll happily make him a sandwich with it. But no, Jacquie wanted to do it herself. She wanted to make a special sandwich for her grandpa that would have one of his favorite ingredients on it. So, she did. And to top it off, she labeled the baggie with her pet name for him. And added the heart!

Looking at that photo means a lot to me and it meant a lot to him on our travel day. That labeled bag brings a smile and expresses love. She took the time, chose the right ingredient, made it on the bread he likes with the mayo he likes, and went the extra step to write his name and include the heart. Doesn’t that say love to you?

Such a simple thing really. It didn’t take a lot of time and cost nothing but it was a gift of love, a gift of great value because it came from her heart.

Jacquie’s gift to her Geepa is a great example for us to follow. Sometimes the smallest gesture can have this most impact.

Today’s challenge is to look around and see who you can bless, who you can share your love with. Doesn’t need to be showy or expensive or take a lot of time…just something that comes from your heart.

Mimi

Maybe someone should have told me…

As you know, we recently traveled to New York for our twin nephews’ high school graduation. That travel involved an airplane and rental car.

The plane ride was a piece of cake. Beginning with the special tickets to skip the long security line right down to an uneventful arrival in Albany. Luggage in hand we arrived at the car rental counter to complete paperwork, then off we went on the short walk to get the car.

As we arrived at the kiosk a very nice young person (they all look young to me these days), pointed out my car. She didn’t look at the paperwork and told me not to worry about the inspection when I saw some minor scratches as all they cared about were misplaced bumpers and major damage. There were no instructions, safety check, or review of the car features.

I was driving that day as hubby had left his driver’s license at home. It was a struggle at the airport to get through Security without it so we decided we wouldn’t push our luck by having him do any driving while in New York.

Since the car was a Chrysler 200 which I was quite familiar with as it had been my Dad’s car, I thought “no problem.” Luggage stowed in truck. Check. People loaded in car. Check. Driver in place, engine on, car shifted into gear…check, check, NO CHECK. What?

Where was the gear shift? My hand immediately went to the middle. No shifter sticking up. Then it flew to the steering wheel. No shifter lever there either. Huh? I started looking everywhere and nothing was standing out as a gear shift.

I was about to go get the nice young lady to point it out to me when I looked down at the middle and saw a round knob. Could it be?

Yup, it was. And it had the PRNDL label to prove it. With hesitancy, I turned the knob to D and sure enough the car moved into gear and off I drove.

With such a different set up, I would have thought the car rental rep would have taken a few seconds to point it out to me. And that few seconds would have saved me a few minutes of angst looking for something that to me was anything but obvious. (I have to admit, it was odd to me the entire weekend. It just felt “wrong” to turn a knob to change gears.)

Sometimes life is like that. We’re expecting one thing to happen and something else takes place. We expect things to be normal and events to unfold just like they have been for years until the unexpected steps in and turns our world upside down.

When that happens, we can experience all sorts of possible outcomes. Here are just a few for thought: I can panic as I nearly did in looking for the shifting lever that I knew had to be there but seemed to be hiding; I can call upon someone to help as I was about to do; I can reason my way through which is what I ended up doing as I knew there had to be a way to shift gears.

We will always be confronted with new challenges; it’s just a part of our life experiences. But it’s how we respond to those challenges that will determine whether or not we walk in victory.

My gear shift story was silly but many of our daily challenges are difficult and life-altering. Let’s resolve NOT to panic. It does no good at all.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Is reason a solution? It can be and often it is.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:1-6)

And how about asking for help? That’s definitely a good one. Yes, if we ask from godly people. And most definitely YES if we seek God directly.

Listen, Lord, to my prayer; hear my cries for help. I call to you in times of trouble, because you answer my prayers. (Psalm 86:6)

As you can see, needing help isn’t the issue. The problem occurs when we put off seeking help or we don’t know where to find it.

Let’s learn to be quick to rely on God and seek His guidance about all else. Next time you find a gear knob instead of a gear shift, you can smile when you realize though it may have caught you off-guard, it certainly hasn’t caught your Heavenly Father off-guard.

Mimi