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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

A moment at the beach.

BeachWe’re enjoying a little visit at the beach where my parents live. Their tiny town abuts the Atlantic Ocean and they have been blessed with a waterfront home. Their 12th story view is just amazing.

As often happens, we visit the pool, but don’t always make it to the beach. I decided to end that abysmal track record so yesterday ventured out for a brief walk.

In the middle of the summer walking on the sand without enduring first degree burns is impossible but at this time of year it’s just perfect. The sand retains just the right amount of the sun’s warmth so walking down to the water’s edge can be slow and thoroughly enjoyed.

Yesterday’s water temp was a beautiful 83 degrees so I walked in the salty loveliness and let my mind wander. I realized very quickly how loud the breaking waves were…they created a din like a deafening roar. The sound blocked out everything else and as I watched people play in the surf I realized I couldn’t hear a thing other than that roar. The conversations and shouts of glee were blocked out, the seagulls’ squawks were muted, and I found myself in my own little world. And instead of being disconcerting, it was instead rather pleasant.

And the light bulb went off as I realized this may be one of many reasons why some people I know absolutely love going to the beach and plan their weekends and vacations around it. I’ve kind of taken it for granted since I can go anytime I want simply by visiting my folks, but in that moment yesterday when the entire world faded away as the ocean roar took over I discovered how beautiful and calming being near the ocean can be.

Mimi

Boys will be boys.

Callan Zero

Callan BeetleLooks like I’ve got an all-boy grandson. Four-year-old Callan is all about new challenges and apparently won’t let things like icky bugs or reptiles stand in his way.

Those pictures show him holding his brother’s pet gecko Zero and playing with a large, strange beetle he picked up from the ground recently. Me? I’ll hold the lizard, but will say “no thank you” to the bug!

The advice to my daughter at this point? Always empty his pockets before doing laundry. If the kid is willing to pick up a big beetle, chances are those pockets will hold a host of other things occasionally, many of which SHOULD NOT go through the washing machine!

Do you ever wonder why God created some of the things he did? I’m sure they serve a purpose of some kind but when a cockroach scurries across my path (or my half-eaten pizza as happened at my house last week) I have a hard time figuring out the “why” behind the creation.

Thankfully, I know for certain God had a plan in mind when He created me. I’m here for a purpose and it’s a good one, too. After all, Jeremiah 29:11 states it quite clearly:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Knowing God has a purpose and plan for my life encourages me to seek Him more because I certainly want them fulfilled according to His desires.

My friend, read that verse again because it applies to you, too. He’s got a brilliant plan for your life as well.

Mimi

Look out…grandma on a scooter!

ArmSo…a funny thing happened to me a few weeks ago.

I broke my arm. Or as Callan would say “Mimi bloke her arm.”

How? you might ask. Well, ah hem, I fell off Konnor’s scooter. Ooh, did I really say that out loud? Yup, I did.

I was having a grand old time and realizing just how much fun it is to fly down a sidewalk on a thin piece of metal attached to two tiny, hard wheels. Did I mention two tiny and hard wheels? Nearing home and keeping my eyes forward, I saw a raised hunk of sidewalk. In a moment I thought to myself: It might not be a good idea to go over that…but hey, kids do it all the time.

Next thing I knew wham! Those tiny, hard wheels hit the raised sidewalk, the scooter stopped in its tracks, and this Mimi went flying over the handlebars. And when I hit the pavement, I knew it wasn’t good.

Shocked and embarrassed I was actually happy no one was outside to witness my scooter defeat. I simply picked up the scooter with my right hand, held my hurting left arm close to my body, and limped home, muttering “This isn’t good, this isn’t good.”

Konnor was great. I told him I thought I had broken my arm and he got me an ice pack along with a towel to wrap it in. Then he and Callan played quietly for the hour until Mommy came home. Kate took one look, said something very medical like “eee-ooo” which to me meant something’s definitely wrong, you need to go to the ER.

Lesson  1: Be choosy where you go for treatment. I’m not kidding. It was afternoon drive time so I purposely did not choose the stand-alone ER on the major road thinking others would stop in on their way home from work. And I also didn’t choose the large complex that many use as their primary care practitioners. Instead I opted for a small hospital where I thought I stood half a chance of NOT being there until the wee hours of the morning. And it turned out to be a very good choice. I was in and out in less than two hours. Not bad at all.

Lesson 2: Never ride a scooter when you are a relatively inactive 61-year-old. ‘nuf said!

Lesson 3: Trust your instincts. I knew my arm was broken; it hurt like crazy, was swollen grotesquely, and I couldn’t straighten or rotate it. The x-rays showed no breaks according to the ER doc. But after examining me the doc took a second look at them and pronounced a break after all. Splinted me up and told me to follow-up with their recommend ortho in 3-5 days. The next day when I called that ortho to make the appointment, the office informed me the x-rays had been reviewed overnight and the opinion changed to no break, follow-up with ortho in 14 days. What? I’m in pain. I’m nervous, and I’m also about to go on a three-week car trip. I’ll be in Ohio in 14 days—who’s gonna see me there?

After stewing about this over the weekend I called my own ortho on Monday, got an appointment on Tuesday, brought the x-rays with me and a break was definitely confirmed. But the good news was the ortho showed me how to remove the splint (I didn’t know I could), told me to exercise the arm, and take Ibuprofen for the swelling. None of that info came during the call I made to the ER ortho.

Trusting my own instincts and going to see my own ortho resulted in me being a much happier camper. Exercising the arm and taking Ibuprofen has reduced swelling and allowed me to perform some tasks carefully. And taking a shower without a garbage bag wrapped around the arm is so much nicer!

But it will take weeks to heal. And the pain I continue to have is a constant reminder that while I want to be a fun, hip Mimi, it’s important that I also use common sense. I had two opportunities to avoid what happened: (1) I should never have been on the scooter in the first place, and (2) when I noticed the raised sidewalk I should have stopped immediately and not decide to chance it.

The final lesson: I can still be a fun grandma in a million ways that don’t involve scooters such as baking with the grands, or doing crafts, taking walks, or even riding bikes.

Mimi

Retired! Who me?

Yup, my last day of work was April 1 so I’ve just finished up my first week of retired life and so far so good.

The decision was made in January and for the past few months I’ve been really conflicted. Not about the decision; no, it was definitely the right time. But mostly about the “what now?” I’d wake up at night and wonder what I’d do all day if I didn’t go to work. I’d wonder if I would end up wasting time and accomplishing nothing since I no longer had a schedule to keep. And I’d wonder if hubby and I would grow tired of seeing each other 24/7.

While there are still no answers to any of the above, one very interesting thing happened. On April 1, my last work day, I woke up feeling different. Feeling settled. Feeling happy. All the emotional ups and downs were gone. Oh, the questions remain but there’s no longer the fear of the unknown. In fact, there’s mostly anticipation at what is ahead.

As you may have surmised by my musings, I’m a child of God and as such endeavor to follow His lead rather than asking Him to bless mine. But even when I clearly hear His voice and follow His plan, there can still be questions or concerns. And simply put, that’s because I don’t have foresight as He does; I have to totally trust God even when I have no idea what the future holds. So though Greg and I both know this was God’s plan and His timing, and though I try to walk by faith and not by what I see or experience, I have still felt a little uneasy. Thankfully, God knows this and often spoke to me through the Word, through His voice, and through Greg reassuring me over and over again that this was the right time.

So far, I’ve simply enjoyed not having to get up with an alarm, staying in my jammies longer, taking morning walks rather than evening walks when it’s still in the upper 80s, and being able to do a lot of things during the day that normally would be done at night or on the weekend. I’ve even accompanied Greg to one of his Lifelong Learning classes at Stetson where we are getting lots of travel ideas both domestic and international.

On the horizon? A car trip, more time spent with my parents, time with the grands who live two hours away, volunteer activities, learning new skills, and exploring new hobbies. And then planning out some of the great travel ideas we’ve picked up in class.

For now, my weekly babysitting day remains so I hope to continue sharing some Mimi stories, but even that will change in August when the four-year old begins pre-K. And that means that after seven years of watching the boys one day a week, more changes are in store. I’ll always be Mimi, and I’ll always be available to watch my grands, but it will be like another graduation for me as that very precious part of my life comes to an end and I turn again toward more new beginnings.

Hmm, it actually all sounds kind of exciting, doesn’t it?

So after one week of retired life, all is well. I promise to keep you posted. Meanwhile, I rejoice in this (from Jeremiah 29:11): “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Mimi

Dead or Alive? (Part 2) Dealing with Stinky Fish

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

A quick recap: While taking a walk recently, the hubster and I came across a Great Blue Heron struggling to eat a fish. No matter how it maneuvered that fish, it just wouldn’t go into his bill and down his throat.

It was fascinating to watch and we wondered if the heron would ever achieve his goal.

In Part 1 we decided the fish was probably alive but very large. It was going to be a five-star meal and worth the effort. But after several minutes the heron gave up the fight, left the fish, and “walked” away.

We often find ourselves in situations that require fighting mode. And scripture after scripture encourages us to not give up but to put on God’s armor and contend with our enemy. But the Bible also instructs us to use wisdom, trust in God, and know when the fight is God-ordained and if not, when to walk away.

In our second scenario my hubby and I wondered if the fish was even alive. Quite possibly it was dead. And if dead, it could have been REALLY dead, meaning stinky. So what did the Great Blue Heron do with the stinky fish? He left it on the ground and turned away to seek a more suitable dinner.

Are we willing to do the same in a stinky situation?

Throughout our Christian walk we will be presented with stinky situations. Things that just don’t seem right or add up. A temptation we encounter followed by us talking to ourselves with excuses as to why this is really okay. A questionable work situation that puts Bible ethics to the test in which we think we can’t disappoint the boss so we go along with it. Or how about moral issues that make us throw biblical teaching out of the window?

Whatever the event, whatever the issue, if it stinks, it’s probably not God and most likely something we must abandon. Watching the Great Blue Heron struggle with whether or not to give up on that dead stinky fish was a reminder that in life I, too, will be presented with enticing things. Not all of which are good for me. With God’s wisdom and for my own good I need to be willing to leave them and walk away so the stink doesn’t get on me either. And so the cause of Christ is not harmed.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s victory parade. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume. Our offering to God is this: We are the sweet smell of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are being lost. To those who are lost, we are the smell of death that brings death, but to those who are being saved, we are the smell of life that brings life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NCV)

Using God’s wisdom to discern whether or not something is “a little fishy” let’s keep the stink off and instead be adorned with the sweet-smelling fragrance of Christ.

Mimi

Just sayin’…observations from my recent blog class.

With permission: flickr.com (photologue_np)

With permission: flickr.com (photologue_np)

A year ago I wrote about teaching a how-to-blog class as part of Stetson University’s lifelong learning program at the Celebration campus. It was a wonderful experience.

Turns out the class was held again this spring and once again I found myself working with some precious women as I helped them explore the world of blogging.

There was the blog class repeater – no she didn’t flunk the first time; she just wanted to brush up on what she already knew and gain some inspiration to continue on with what she had started in the last class. Not only is she a dedicated lifelong learner but she went out of her way to encourage me, something this lady has treasured in her heart.

Also in class was the businesswoman who wanted to update her website and blogging platform to build the business now being run by her daughter. A proud momma who has an amazing writing style. She got really busy and ended up writing several posts over our three weeks together. This lady definitely was invested in the pursuit and her efforts will no doubt bring about an increase in business.

Another grammy wants to impart wisdom to others from the perspective of being a 21st century grandparent. When I read one of her posts about finding the delicate balance between handing out advice vs. directing and encouraging her grown kids so they could find their own answers, I realized how much more sensitive we are trying to be in the 21st century. And I realized how well this will be received by our kids. After all, I didn’t want my mom telling me how to raise my kids, did you? This lady has really hit upon a great concept and her readers will benefit greatly.

Then I had the sweet lady who wrote from her heart and made me cry. Not only was her writing style spot on but she wrote about the importance of family, a subject dear to my own heart. She was another tenacious learner who never gave up. She has something profound to say and has determined to share her thoughts with others. All her readers will be blessed by this.

And I must mention the woman who touched me in two ways. First because she chose to carry out the theme of her post in so many ways: with the subject matter and way she wrote along with the images used to illustrate. From the top of the page to the bottom, it was cohesive and full of subtle impact. And this same lady blessed my heart on the last day of class when she resolutely stuck with a task until the issue was resolved. She was determined and received the ultimate payoff when she figured out the answer. Yup, it was a good lesson for me, too.

I had a total of 8 ladies and could certainly mention something for them all. But since I taught them that it’s always best to say less and leave the reader with wanting more rather than writing too much and having the reader lose interest, I think I’ll bring this post to a close.

I have been reminded that whether I teach in a classroom setting or when sitting with a friend over a cup of tea, there’s always an opportunity to share knowledge or an experience with someone else. And the same opportunity presents itself to learn from others. We each have a story and a unique background. To share that with others not only touches them but reminds us as well of where we once were, where we are now, and gives hope for where we’ll go in the future.

Thanks to a great group of ladies. I appreciate the opportunity of spending time with you and appreciate the blessing of watching your joy increase as you became more experienced and knowledgeable.

Mimi