Zoe turns 4!

Just recently we spent the weekend with our son and his family to celebrate our granddaughter Zoe’s fourth birthday.

After our encounter with Hurricane Irma and Greg’s recent hospitalization for blood clots, it was wonderful to get to experience such an enjoyable occasion.

Like all our grands, Zoe has her own unique God-given personality. She is a giggle-filled bundle of non-stop joy. We know a picture paints a thousand words so I wish I had a picture of every mood, expression, and reaction Zoe exhibited because those pictures would be a fantastic way to share with you the pure delight she brings. But the composite above will have to do.

We watched Zoe and her sister perform Disney tunes for us from their make-shift stage. Zoe acted out every nuance using her whole body and face to fully express each song’s meaning. Here’s a 10-second clip of our energetic granddaughter for your viewing pleasure. (The background laugh is her Mimi who was tickled pink watching her!)

Zoe is creative in her play time, enjoys school, is loving to all her stuffed animals and dolls, and wants to do everything her big sister Addison does. She adores her parents and often can be found using her daddy as her personal jungle gym!

Time moves along so quickly; I don’t want to miss a single minute of this precious life. I want to see everything through her eyes of wide-eyed wonder. I want to experience her kind of joy that knows no bounds. I also want to protect her from the world and have her keep her innocence as long as possible.

Who knew when she was born just how appropriate her name would be. In the Greek, Zoe means life. And our little Zoe is completely filled and overflowing with life!

Happy 4th birthday sweet girl. Your Mimi loves you to Heaven and back!

Mimi

 

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Are you kidding me?

So…I had quite the adventure this past week.

It all began last Tuesday when I tried to donate blood for the second time in three days. You get your mini physical, they test your hemoglobin and if the number is high enough, you get to donate.

Part of the process is having your identity verified in their system which is done by showing your driver’s license. So, I dutifully pulled it out, got tested, was rejected again, but made the best of it by picking up a few packages of cookies on the way out, vowing to return soon.

The next day I pulled out my wallet to use a credit card when it became immediately noticeable that my license was missing. What?

Phone calls to the blood center and other places I had been that day all yielded nothing. Three looks through the purse and car, followed by countless checks throughout the house also yielded nothing.

Since I had been online freezing my credit with the three reporting agencies (due to the recent Equifax fiasco) Greg asked if I had used it for anything I was doing. I replied no.

Early today I returned to the blood center to look for myself. It definitely wasn’t there so I drove right to DMV where I had a wonderful experience getting a new license. I kid you not. It was great. Total time was 10-15 minutes. A side bonus is that I recently cut my hair short so the new license picture reflects my current look!

Another bonus is that afterwards, I returned to the blood center to be retested and happily was able to donate today. Once back home, I proudly showed off my new license to Greg. End of story. Or so I thought.

An hour later, I had to scan a document and as I stood in front of the printer I had this déjà vu moment that I might have scanned my license the other day. One of the agencies wouldn’t accept my online credit freeze. Instead I had to print all sorts of documents and use snail mail to submit them.

You guessed it. When I opened the lid, there was my old license! The timing was perfect and quite ironic, wasn’t it, as I had just gotten my new one. The license is now in the shredding pile and I’m still laughing and shaking my head.

While I feel rather silly, I am also quite thankful because the DMV experience which can often be horrid, was actually pleasant. But more importantly, I’m thrilled my license isn’t floating around somewhere for someone else to find and possibly use illegally.

I don’t always sail through such an experience with a smile on my face but this one actually had me laughing at myself.

I don’t think I’m alone in being forgetful occasionally or in running around trying to fix things that actually don’t need fixing at all. And I’m sure there will be more “fun” times in my future, but for now I’m considering it my dose of spiritual medicine as is mentioned in Proverbs 17:22a “A cheerful (or merry) heart is good medicine.”

Mimi

Prepping for Irma

When we moved to Florida in 1999, we were looking for an adventure. Had no idea at the time that one of those adventures would be experiencing hurricanes.

Quite honestly, I never thought central Florida was a hurricane prone area until 2004 when four roared through our area (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne) with devastating results for many. We lost two large trees, some screen house panels, and most of our fence but our neighbors lost roofs, entire screen houses, and their house interiors.

Tarps dotted the rooftops for months and the house next to us was destroyed and empty for over a year until it could be repaired. After Charley roared through we walked outside where it was eerily quiet. That’s when we discovered the oak trees lining the boulevard were down, one after the other. It was a poignant reminder of the power of a storm.

Having gone through those four, I planned for Irma. Or so I thought. Water…check.  Flashlights…check.  Clean laundry…check. Extra food…check. Freezers stuffed with extra ice…check. Bathtub filled…check. Cars gassed up and extra propane purchased…check.

Then yesterday as we got out the flashlights I realized I hadn’t purchased batteries. Stores were completely out of them. What to do?

I posted my need for D-batteries on our community Facebook page and within a few minutes someone called to offer me four of theirs. And things like that continue to occur not just for me but for others. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Then this morning, while looking through some pictures on my phone, I noticed something about my hurricane prep: it centered A LOT on food! One look at the above photo will show you what I mean. Three of the photos clearly involve food: the giant apple fritter for hurricane comfort food brought by a neighbor, Meyer lemons I picked from my tree so they wouldn’t get blown away in the winds, and then there’s Greg and I eating ice cream cones because when they power goes out they will melt, so it’s either eat them, or they go to waste.

Yet, while I was concentrating on food, my 6-year old grandson was out doing good: he was rescuing animals. Note his little toad in the box. At least one of us has their priorities straight! (Just a little Irma humor before the big event. But also, a reminder that we should never lose sight of what’s important.)

Losing a freezer of food is no big deal. My luscious lemons being tossed in the wind…who cares. But a little boy helping animals…now that’s the right thing to do. Just like my neighbor responding to my inquiring for batteries, helping others, looking for a need to fill, those are noble pursuits.

Irma’s finally going to make her way here tonight and if the predictions are correct, we’ll see 80-90 MPH gusts of wind and 8-12” of rain. That’s a lot for this area. Power will be knocked out and some people will need to go into survival mode.

At this point, we trust in God and are thankful for family, friends, and neighbors who are ready to pitch in.

Mimi

So very thankful!

While many of you already know this, Greg recently experienced a very serious health incident. The result could have been horrid but instead we are rejoicing in God’s provision, and so very thankful for all He’s done.

Apparently, it began a few months ago with some unrelated symptoms. Never at the same time. A little dizziness (in the past this was due to blood pressure medication), some minor shortness of breath (Greg had a cold), an ache in the back of the leg that went away the next day (Greg is 66—aches and pains are a part of life), a cough that had been with him over four weeks following a cold (we went to the doctor for this and she advised this could be quite normal as the lungs are irritated and the older we are the longer they take to heal). And finally, very high pulse and lower oxygen levels (these were the triggers to finally figuring out what was going on).

Had they been present at the same time, they would have easily led us to the actual diagnosis: extensive blood clots in one leg and both lungs. EXTENSIVE!

It was our wonderful doctor who put the pieces together and when she did, she sent us from her office to the hospital for leg and lung scans, after which Greg was immediately admitted.

An EKOS* procedure was done a few days later which was successful and the other day a follow-up ECHO of the heart was performed to be sure the heart strain is going away. We assume it is as his pulse, BP, and oxygen levels are all normal now. (*During catheter-assisted thrombolysis treatment, a catheter is guided through blood vessels to the location of the blood clot. The catheter will deliver special clot dissolving medicine called thrombolytics to help dissolve the clot. This new device, called Ekos, will also deliver simultaneously ultrasound energy to mechanically dislodge and loosen up the clot to enable lower and safer doses of the thrombolytic drugs to be used.)

Greg has been home for nearly two weeks and the recovery will be slow. Though he feels okay and has no restrictions, his breathing is impaired for now, especially in the Florida heat. And his body is weak and energy level low. The cough remains due to lung irritation but seems to get a little better every day. We understand it may take months to feel “normal” but that is no big deal.

My man is going to be fine and God has been merciful to us. We feel blessed to have such a wonderful, caring doctor, too. She was surely God’s instrument in catching this before it got even worse. The statistics are not very good for people getting the help they need in time for treatment. Many don’t even make it to the hospital.

All of this is a powerful reminder that life is fragile and things can change very quickly. We need to learn to not take our health for granted. We also need to learn to take care of our bodies and to be more aware when things are not quite right. We should have been more proactive. We will be in the future.

Over and over we found God’s presence to be our lifeline. We had great peace and felt completely taken care of by Him. Joshua 1:9 reminds us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

So today, as I began, I sign off with the following:

Mimi and Greg…so very thankful!

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