April 2014 Viewpoint

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“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year”  Mark Twain

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Blog:

As I looked back over my posts for this month, the common thread was renovation.  We have a week left to wrap up this bonus room renovation before our daughter and her husband move in.   Would you like to see where it all began? You can find it here.

In April, I also was invited to write my first guest post for Cara at be,mama.be.  I wrote about a little parenting wisdom I learned.  If you’d like to check it out, you can find it here.

I also wrote a couple of memoir pieces centered around nature.  A tribute to my grandmother and a piece about tending the garden, tending the soul.

purple iris

Books:

I didn’t read much this month.  I had started most of these before the month of April but finished them during the month.

  • Sycamore Row by John Grisham — 3/5 stars
  • A Touch of Wonder by Arthur Gordon — 5/5 stars
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare —5/5 stars
  • The Memoir Project A Thoroughly Non-standardized Text for Writing and Life by Marion Roach Smith —5/5 stars
  • I also read my daughter’s thesis a couple of times but I don’t think that counts…

Music:

Nothing new downloaded this month.  I love the mix of this instrumental piece so I thought I’d share and let it be the benediction.

I’m joining in with others who have shared their April month stories.  Come join us at Leigh Kramer’s: What I’m Into.

Blessings,

Mimi

“…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIV Bible

Tending the Garden,Tending the Soul

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I’ve done a little garden tending this week.  The birds were chirping, the wind whispered in the trees as I pulled up weeds, raked, and moved dirt around with my hands. I like this task of caring and tending to the garden.  My mind wanders and begins to soul tend, too.

fleabaneI found weeds blossoming. Pretty, but a nuisance.  I work diligently to keep them away.  Sometimes, poison is required.

I have weeds deep in my soul.  I fool myself into thinking they’re pretty.   As I yanked and pulled those weeds in my garden, the roots held firm into the ground while they broke easily at the base of the stem.  I know that I need a spade to get the remainders out.  Like those in my soul, I know they’re going to require some muscle to remove and if I don’t take care of them, they’ll once again produce and choke out the good I want.

With a little effort and nurturing, the blossoming begins.

clematis 2I removed debris and the suffocating weeds so the plant had the space to freely thrive and bloom.  I tilled at things buried deep inside as I puttered about the yard while persuading attributes of joy, hope, kindness and love to sow in their space within me to bloom like my garden: fresh, clean, and well-tended.

clematisHow does your garden grow?

Blessings,

Mimi

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isaiah 58:11 NIV Bible

Guest Post: Cara Meredith

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Earlier this week, I guest posted for Cara and today, we’re doing a little blog bunny hopping and she is posting for me.  I’m so impressed by all that she has accomplished in her life.  I think you will be too when you read her bio, but more so, after you read her lovely, poignant message for Good Friday.  Cara regularly posts at be, mama. be.  Blessings, Mimi

Leaning Into Friday

I used to have a love-hate relationship with the weeks leading up to Easter. As a child, we didn’t participate in Lent; I’d see various friends arriving at school with a leftover smudge on their foreheads, and I’d wonder why they’d forgotten to wash their face this Thursday morning.

I’d say mmm-hmm when a Catholic buddy of mine lamented at having to give up ice cream or chocolate, meat or – true story – quesadillas in the forty days prior to Christ’s resurrection.

But for me, in the little Baptist church we found ourselves entrenched in, the Easter season seemed to arrive without fanfare. As children, we found ourselves seemingly shoved with palm branches on Sunday morning, made to make our way down the long aisle, waving and fanning and smiling our fronds to the adults sitting in the pews to the left and right. And then, just as it always seemed to do, the dreariness of the week ahead began to set in. I knew I’d have to hear the brutal story of One Man’s death on the cross, the nails driven into his hands, the way he cried out, without answer, to his dad.

It made me yearn for the arrival of Sunday morning.

I wanted to stop living in Friday. I wanted the hurt and pain and loneliness of that dreaded waiting period to return to triumphant hymns, to again hear the shouts of He has risen – He has risen indeed! I wanted the afternoon feast of ham and mashed potatoes and lemon meringue pie, just as I wanted the pretty new dress from J.C. Penney. I didn’t want to sit in the ugliness – I begged Beauty to return.

But now I kind of like it.

I love Jerusalem Jackson Greer’s words in A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together,as she chronicles the Easter season, and Holy Saturday in particular: “…I do my best to live in that place, that wax-crayon place of trust and waiting. Of accepting what I cannot know. Of mourning what needs to be mourned. Of accepting what needs to be accepted. Of hoping for what seems impossible.” Because when I actually sit in the waiting, in the mourning, in the accepting and in the hoping, then it makes Sunday morning all the more resurrected.

I then feel the joy that much more. I lean into the hope and I embrace the celebration and I believe in his peace, all over again, as if for the first time.   So this week, as you prepare for Sunday, might you also sit in the waiting pain of Friday.

cara meredith profile pic

Former high school English teacher turned youth minister, Cara is learning what it means to be as a full-time mama and free-lance writer and speaker.  She holds a Masters of Theology degree (Fuller Seminary), and is currently tweaking away at her first book.  She loves pretending to be a foodie, being outdoors and trying to read seven books at a time (although never very successfully).  She lives near San Francisco with her husband, James, their son, Canon, and a second little boy to arrive late this summer.  

Twitter: @caramac54

I’m Posting at Cara’s Blog Today

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Cara and I became acquainted through our mutual blog friend, Katie.  Remember the Giveaway this fall?  She was a part of that fun.  Cara writes a lovely blog about life and faith and family at be.mama.be.  I love her tagline, “Finding beauty in the most unlikely of places.”

Today, I’m guest posting for her.  I hope you’ll drop by and get acquainted with Cara and her blog and of course, read about the simple wisdom I discovered for raising my children.

Here’s just a little taste of the post:

I was floundering as a parent when my children started approaching elementary age. I did fine in the basic areas of love, comfort, feeding, clothing, and etc. but the older my children became, the less confident I felt of providing proper direction and guidance for them. I felt ill-equipped to navigate them through the preteen and teen years still ahead. The world, I felt, had become much more complicated and harsh than the reality that I had grown up in.

Then one day,…

Click here for more.

Blessings,

Mimi

 

When Daffodils Bloom

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Jonquils, narcissus, daffodils, buttercups — whatever you call them — every spring, when I see them bloom, I smile and remember my grandmother.  They were one of her favorite flowers.  When these happy spring bulbs bloomed, they covered her yard.

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The blossoms ranged in size and various shades and combinations of yellow, white, and orange.  Some varieties were even double blossomed.

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I remember the day my grandmother and I spent planting her yard with bulbs.  She wanted them to look like God, Himself had planted them.  Our method: We tossed the bulbs into the air and wherever they landed that’s where we planted the bulbs.

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Over the years, those bulbs naturalized producing a carpet of springtime.  I’ve read that to receive only 1 daffodil means misfortune.  Fortunately, my grandmother’s yard contained so many blossoms that a bunch of daffodils was no problem for my young hands to pick and bring as a gift.  Those bunches represented joy and happiness and my grandmother did too.

Blessings,

Mimi

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:27 NIV Bible

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words but Only if You Can Find It

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I was working on a post yesterday and I wanted to add the finishing touch of a picture.  I was certain I had one.  I pulled out the first box of pictures then, 5 boxes and 3 albums later, I conceded.  I didn’t have one.  I knew the picture had to exist.  I had it in my mind.  When I close my eyes, I can see the scene so clearly.  But, the reality is I don’t have a picture.  Disappointed and astonished, I chalked it up to one more instance of “ where are the pictures? “.

wheres the picture 1

Does this situation ever happen to you?  You think you have the pictures only to discover you don’t?  This instance was not the first time I haven’t had the image I was wanting.  I realized this cycle had to end so I’ve put together a list of things to remember in order to stop the cycle.

wheres the picture 2

Stopping the “Where are the pictures? ” Cycle List

  1. Make/Keep a list of pictures you’d like to take. By doing this small step, you’ll be sure to have the ones you want.
  2. Take more pictures than you think you need because you can always pare down later.
  3. Don’t assume someone else took pictures for you or the ones you wanted.
  4. Keep a camera close at hand.
  5. Capture images that will trigger memories like signs, favorite places or things, flowers in a yard, etc…
  6. Organize your photos to make them easier to find when searching for the one you want.
  7. Take pictures of everything.  If you’re a blogger who likes to include pictures in your posts, you never know what you will write about and wish you had a picture.
  8. Bonus: All these images are good for insurance purposes.

wheres the picture 3I’m not giving up my search. I’ve called in reinforcements!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings,

Mimi

“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again’ he was lost and is found.”  Luke 15:32 NIV Bible

 

 

February’s Viewpoint And Lessons Learned

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I had a rough February.  Actually, the entire winter has been difficult.  Case in point, Sunday was near 80 degrees and yesterday, I drove to bible study with snow flurries.  Crazy!!  These extreme weather changes have caused my rheumatoid arthritis to flare.  I spent a good portion of February laying on the sofa dealing with flares and with stubborn hip bursitis in both hips. My viewpoint for most of February was this angle.

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I did learn a few lessons I’d like to share from my February viewpoint.

  1. Ice packs are your friend.
  2. Receiving physical therapy is not wimping out.  Don’t grin and bare it.  Get treatment.
  3. Being cooped up in the house makes raking the yard sound like fun.
  4. Renovation really seems to creep along when you’re staring at it e-v-e-r-y day.  I’d equate it to watching a pot boil.
  5. I need to dust more often.
  6. Ask for more prayer when you need it.
  7. I need interaction with people so I don’t verbal vomit on the first humans I finally see.
  8. When I hurt physically, it’s really hard to read and think.  I know this, but it’s still something worth remembering.
  9. A meal given, even when it’s not a devastating physical illness, shows true friendship.
  10. Be patient in affliction

The last lesson was one I know but hadn’t ever given considerable thought.  The lesson came from a bible verse I was memorizing.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

I was fighting and struggling against the constant pain and the up and down fatigue caused by my rheumatoid arthritis, the lack of a good night’s sleep, and the domino effect that is created when one area hurts, then another is affected and begins to hurt, and the cycle goes round and round. This little verse really struck a chord with me.  God used it to teach me and I wanted to share what I learned about it with you.

Patient was the word that caught my eye and grabbed my attention in the verse.  I did a little detective work into the original language to discover what word choices Paul used when writing this verse.  He chose to use a verb tense that indicates the action is to be done continuously.  Meaning, I’m to continually be patient in affliction.

The Greek word for patient means; to remain under, to endure, to sustain a load of miseries, adversities, persecution, or provocation in faith and patience.   I was surprised to discover that the word does not refer to patience towards others.  A different word is used for that meaning.  Therefore, Paul was not talking about the problems I have with others when they cause me misery or frustration.  This patience needed is to be applied toward another source.

The root of the Greek word for affliction means to break, to crush, to press.  Symbolically, the word means grievous affliction or distress, pressure or burden on the spirit and is related to narrowness and the idea of confined spaces.  I can attest that affliction feels exactly like this definition.   The visual imagery of confined spaces for me was powerful when associated with affliction.

Restructuring that phrase into my own words, I recognize that I need to remain under God’s loving care when a crushing load of misery is pressing on me in order to sustain continuously in faith and patience. I can redirect my energies and struggles to Him.  I can continue to honor God in the manner in which I endure.  As I was studying this verse, another one from Matthew 11:28-30 also came to mind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I can continually sustain through my difficulty because He is there with me to help carry the burden of it.  I need only be patient in affliction.

Blessings,

Mimi