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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

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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

It’s not easy saying goodbye.

Conan-dear friend and family member

Conan: dear friend and family member

Quite unexpectedly my daughter’s family recently had to say goodbye to their dear companion of ten years, Conan.

A family member? Yes. A friend? Yes. A comfort? Yes. A playmate? Yes. A big brother? Yes. And a dog; a miniature dachshund to be specific.

My kids will be married ten years this fall and Conan has been a part of their married lives almost from the beginning. When they got him they were newlyweds, recent college graduates, living in their first apartment, and trying to make a “go” of this thing called life.

Conan brought joy and activity in abundance.

After he arrived the kids made a move, earned advanced degrees, began new careers, bought a house, and best of all had two precious boys.

When someone is a part of your family for a decade and when children grow up only knowing the household with their canine friend in it, losing that friend leaves a deep hole. A wound that takes time to heal.

Was Conan perfect? Of course not, but he perfectly blended with his family, providing years of love to everyone.

So today I’m thinking about him and thinking about my kids and grandkids. And while I can’t take away their sorrow I know hearts will eventually heal. And always, always they will remember their little doxie Conan.

Mimi

Is anybody listening?

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

Today I had the wonderful opportunity of assisting two people on their way to blogging success.

While teaching my recent blogging class it became quickly evident that I was learning as much if not more than my students—both about blogging and about using WordPress. It also became apparent that I was thoroughly enjoying both the learning and the teaching.

Since the class ended I’ve had many opportunities to sit one-on-one with my former students, assisting with their blogging efforts. And it is extraordinarily rewarding. I guess this is why teachers are teachers. I had no idea how much joy I would receive from simply helping someone find a way to express their thoughts in a public forum.

One of the students today observed that when you take the time to post and no one comments on it, it can be quite a let-down. It makes you wonder if anybody is reading your posts or if anybody even cares what you write about.

I giggled inside because I’ve felt the same way. On one hand blogging is about you—YOU getting to express your views or share information and yet on the other hand we all like to know we’ve been heard. So when you take the time to post something, especially something you think is important, and no one responds back it can be very discouraging.

And this brings me to a few of my own observations: (1) sometimes people read your blogs and don’t comment. They may even agree with you or like what you had to say. But they don’t feel a pressing need to let you know. (2) Sometimes people aren’t reading your blog at all. Hhhmmph! Not much you can do about it except to keep writing, hone your skill, be engaging and if people still don’t read, they just may not be interested in what you have to say. It really isn’t the end of the world. (3) Since encouragement is always nice, I’m going to ask all you blog readers out there to post comments from time to time (not just to my blog, but to any you read). Why not take the extra minute or two and let the author know what you think. Doesn’t take a lot of time but can really be appreciated.

Maya Angelou reminds us that “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” So fellow bloggers – sing your song—whether or not anyone answers back. Just sing. Because you can!

Mimi

Addicted to Pinterest

Pinterest

Ok, I said it. I admit it. I LOVE this website.

For months I’ve been trying out new recipes…all thanks to Pinterest. I even cleaned hubby’s underarm stains on his tee shirts. Thanks to Pinterest. And hubby and Konnor turned the freezer into a snowman. Yup, thanks to Pinterest.

With Pinterest I’ve found out new uses for old things such as using my contact lens case as a pill holder, enjoyed killer Boston Cream Poke Cake, found a great paint color for our recent bathroom re-do, organized a closet using a multi-compartment shoe bag holder, and my pantry and bedroom closet wire shelves are now nicely lined with peel and stick tile so items stay put!

Not only is Pinterest great fun to explore but it’s handy – all your “pins” (things you see and don’t want to forget) are organized and easily accessible by your smartphone whenever and wherever needed.

The only downside I’ve found is that it’s so addicting I can no longer enjoy Pinterest right before bedtime—as there have been several nights when hours have passed with me happily pinning away only to discover it’s now midnight, or 1am!

Technology has changed drastically in my lifetime. Remember having to go to the library to do research before writing a report? Not matter what the topic, the one encyclopedia you needed was always missing! Now I can use the internet on my phone and find instant answers. (Good thing, too, because I would probably forget the question burning in my mind by the time I got home!)

Pinterest is great fun for grandparents, too. You’ll never be at a loss for a craft or fun thing to do while babysitting.

If you haven’t yet checked out Pinterest, give it a try…but not before bed!

Mimi

You have small eyes, Mimi.

Cindi Blog

So observed 4-year-old Konnor on Monday.

“Why, yes I do,” I replied.

“Why do you have small eyes?”

“This is the way God made me. He made Mommy and PopPop with great big eyes, but Mimi has little ones.”

Such a sweet, innocent conversation. It’s hard to feel bad about your little one noticing you have small eyes when the conversation is just so matter of fact from a pure heart. There was no judgment in Konnor’s voice; instead he was merely observing and stating a fact.

Truth be told I DO have small eyes. And even though I had an eyelid lift nearly two years ago, my left eye started drooping after a year which gives the appearance of the eyes being even smaller than they actually are. And the reason I have droopy, small eyelids is because of my parents. (Not placing blame, just stating a fact. It’s heredity plain and simple.)

Of late, I catch myself looking over my shoulder as I pass a mirror. Sometimes leaning forward to get a closer look and often pulling up the skin over my eyebrows to see how a brow lift would take years off my appearance.

Sigh…the passing of time…the very thing that made me a grannie (growing older and having children old enough to have their own children) is also the thing that causes my face to reflect my age and my body to wince at new aches and pains that weren’t there yesterday.

We fight aging so hard: cosmetics, dyed hair (or hair transplants), pills and potions, anti-aging diets, more exercise, surgery, changing our attitudes. Nothing wrong with any of these but thankfully God sees us differently—quite differently!

He sees the passing of time coupled with the wisdom of experience and states in Psalm 92:12-14: “But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green” (NLT).

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day,” (2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV).

So yes, I have small eyes, made even smaller by droopy, saggy skin. I have grey hair, LOTS of grey hair. I ache when I move about, I tire more easily in general, my brain gets a little mushy every now and then making new things harder to learn…all the typical stuff about approaching age 60.

But God is not finished with me yet. And I’m not finished with me. And I know my grands are not finished with me. According to God, if I keep my relationship with him healthy, then I’m flourishing, producing fruit, am vital and green, and am being renewed day by day.

Hmm, all in all, I’d say I’m in very good shape after all!

Mimi