Wild Beauties

Wild Beauty     As I walked through my back yard this morning, meditating, and enjoying the lovely Springtime blooms, I came across the tree bearing this colorful flower. I stopped a moment to take in its unique and sort of wild beauty. While studying it, I couldn’t help draw a parallel of this flower’s half bloomed, unique beauty, to the partially bloomed beauty of our lives.

     This last month I’ve been doing a group study about letting go of worldly definitions of  beauty and feeling free to be the beautiful, wonderfully made individuals God intended us to be.  Looking at this beautiful, sort of exotic looking flower this morning, I thought, “this flower represents every one of us – such unique, vibrant qualities, and still in the process of blooming!” But oh my, how beautiful are the budding characteristics! The already bloomed parts that make this unique flower so special, which are weathering Spring’s wind and rain, yet standing out strong – are like the unique and special qualities in each of us that have born the tests and trials which have molded us into the beauties we are today. Yet, this special flower has not yet fully bloomed, we can’t yet see the full exquisite beauty this half-bloomed flower promises.  Oh – but promise it does!! Just as our own half-lived lives promise!

     And notice something else – the little green closed buds in the middle of the flower that have not opened yet – do you see how pretty they are? How they work together with the rest of the flower’s design and add to the special beauty of the overall bloom? Wow – how exciting to me to think that this is how I am – how each of us are – we are each a very special, beautiful, blooming work in progress!  Yes, you boys and men too! Just as God created this amazing, uniquely special, beautiful flower that blooms in stages, so has He made each one of us!

     Each stage of our lives, we have learned and brought forth a beautiful, unique, new quality that defines us. By the time we are adults, (like this flower) our outer shell is mostly formed, in all its stunning glory!  But there is yet wisdom to be learned, beauty to unfold and bloom, in our hearts, and throughout our lives as God directs us through our life paths, our challenges, our loves and losses, our joys and sorrows. And as we purpose to serve Him!

     So, as we go through our week, let’s all remember this beautifully unique, half bloomed flower, and the promise of exotic, perfect beauty it holds to come. Then let’s apply this to our own selves; we each are this beautiful and unique flower, which under God’s perfect hand, will over our lifetimes, grow and bloom and perfect into an exotic, perfect creation, meant to live out the unique purpose He individually chose for each of us and which will please Him! Our differences, our trials, our mistakes – they will all work together to grow us and refine us into these gorgeous creations and purposes that God intended.

     Now, go look in the mirror and see how uniquely beautiful you are! And just think – like this spectacular flower – God’s not done with you yet!

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
   and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

   as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
   before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
  they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
  you are still with me!

Psalm 139

Peaceful, Nice Veteran’s Day to You!

Peaceful, Nice Veteran’s Day to you all!

In reflection today of those in my family, and those from around our Country who have served, and yet serve, and in thinking particularly of the changes that serving can and does make in our troops and their family’s lives, I came across this song Stand With Me by the band Downhere. It carries the message I wish to say to each of these faithful, serving in our Armed Forces –

I will stand with you!

May our entire Country stand with each of you, today, and always – God bless you and your families, and thank you for putting yourself out there for your Country and each of us. I appreciate each one of you
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0yOzDptjWs#t=15

Tiff and Chris in Uniform

Welcome Home Son-in-Law

Richard Aaron in Uniform

Brave Nephew

Chas

Brave Neice

Nikki

Brave Niece

Billy, Mindy, Cyndi in Terminal

Welcome Home Brother

Dad in Uniform

My Korean Veteran Dad

Billy in Guard Uniform

Hero Brother

Billy in Navy Blues

Awesome Brother

Honor Guard at Dad's Funeral

Veteran Honor Guard

Salute at Dad's Funeral

Veteran Honor Guard Salute at Dad’s Funeral

  Billy Taking Navy Oath

A Special Little Treasure

Happy Friday to you all!
How are you today?  What’s going on in your personal world today? 

Well… whatever it is, I hope you have a good day, filled with energy and purpose.  I pray you have good clarity for what needs your attention today, and peace in the decisions that must be made.  I pray you have strength and good health to meet your obligations today, and friendship, love and/or companionship to help along the way.

Most of all, I pray you have sweet communion with the One who made you and created you, for all things good; who knew you and loved you, before you were even born. 

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;” (Jeremiah 1:5)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

I know, I can hear you saying it.  These days it does seem particularly hard to rise with a good, positive attitude and be upbeat & hopeful for the day.  I know.  With the “war on terror,” mean-spirited politics, flailing economy, job losses, etc, it’s hard to find much to celebrate in the news, isn’t it?  And frankly, most of us are pretty stressed out with trying to provide for our families, right?  Yikes, so much negative emotion going on!  

Well, let’s take this moment to regroup, to recharge – as I pray peace for you today. Wherever you are, I pray that you’ll feel God’s peaceful presence with you, giving you energy and discernment for the things that truly matter, whatever they may be in your life, and help you let go of the things that don’t.

Let’s just let down and de-stress – for a moment.

Okay, think about when you were young, did you ever find a shiny penny, a pretty little rock or seashell, some little item that was a special little treasure to you?  Treasures for Blog framed Remember that feeling, that excitement in finding, in holding that little treasure?  I pray today that you find a special little treasure – a feeling, an emotion, a relationship, a trinket, a friend, a memory – that brings a smile to your face, a joy to your heart, like that special little treasure when you were young.  I pray for something or someone to be that special little treasure in your day.  

See what you can find in your day today, to be that awesome little treasure, bringing a little piece of positive joy to brighten your day.  Even if it’s just a happy memory hidden in your heart. Find it, pull it out and live it again!

And if you’re able, I invite you to go out and be a special little treasure for someone else today – or how about this weekend?  Take a moment, an hour, a day – whatever you can, and give a compliment, open a door, buy a cup of coffee, help a friend – or even a stranger.   Try making a positive difference in someone else’s life.  You might just feel a little piece of joy stick you right in the heart. (grin)

For it is written, 
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  Philippians 4:8 (NASB)

Or in today’s words: Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.  (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)

So, for today, for this weekend, let’s take a time out from all the wars, the anger, the backbiting and cursing going on everywhere.  Let’s instead, find or be a treasure!  How about it?  Are you in?  Let’s make a pact to concentrate on positive thinking today.  Let’s dwell on the good things in our lives and some good things we can do or get involved in around us.  (Remember that “thinking of you” card you were going to send? Or that caring phone call you were going to make, or neighbor’s lawn you were going to mow, or invite to lunch, or helping chore you were going to do? Or how about that prayer you were going to say? Ooooooohhhhh.  Or maybe that book you were going to read, that walk in the garden, or church you were going to check out?) 

Well, today’s the day!

Let’s set our hearts and our heart-longings on things that really matter, things that truly might make a difference, in our lives, or someone else’s.  Let’s forget about all the haters and hate-filled stuff going on and instead fill our minds and words with affirmation and kindness.  Let’s find the positive instead of the negative. Let’s try to build up instead of tear down. 

Let’s ourselves be a special little treasure today.  

Come on and join me?  Let’s do this!

God is My Bowl of Cream of Wheat

Full Fur Lined Slippers   After experiencing my first dry, HOT Nevada summer, I am definitely enjoying this week’s burst of cooler, fall weather – yay!  How about you?  Waking up to a brisk 49 degrees (and after pulling out my warm, fur lined slippers), I find myself longing for a bowl of hot, satisfying Cream of Wheat! Mmmmm…Rich and creamy, made with milk and a touch of pure maple syrup for just a hint of sweetness, topped with dried cranberries and cinnamon toasted walnuts or pecans – oh yes! Just what my tummy is hungering for. 

Cream of Wheat for Blog 2

Mmmmm…that was SO good! Soothed me right up!

     As I was eating, I got to thinking this: my rich, delicious, soothing bowl of cream of wheat does for my tummy and body, just what my relationship with God does for my soul and my life. Oooooh yeeeeeaah!  Here’s how:

The thick, hot cream of wheat itself serves as my breakfast foundation; it’s the soothing, nutrient rich filler that lines my tummy and satisfies my hunger.  Just like my relationship with God.  Believing in God, allowing myself to love Him, and having deep faith, fills me up with goodness, satisfies my hunger for belonging and self-worthiness, soothes my battered soul and creates the rich foundation for everything in my life.

Maple Syrup 2The little touch of pure maple syrup serves as the wholesome little bit of sweetness I need to not crave delicious and tempting super fats like fried donuts and pies in the morning!!  This is like prayer – my conversations with God.  Talking with God fills me up with sweet love from my Maker, satisfying my craving for acceptance and love and all the very tempting but bad-for-me things in this world.  After imbibing in a little prayer time, I feel loved and renewed and good about myself, and relieved of the need to go out and seek the wrong kind of acceptance socially.Cranberries 1 comp

The cranberries lend a little bit of tartness just to liven things up. They get my orneriness and backbone going, just like God’s Word or Scripture does.  When I need a little strength and courage to do what needs to be done, I can always go to the Book and find that encouragement and backbone, and even a little direction for my day to day living.  Plus, cranberries are loaded with anti-oxidants and help improve immune function.  Scripture is also loaded with anti-oxidants for life, and applying God’s words to my life definitely improves my immunity to temptation. (smile smile)

Cinnamon compThe cinnamon adds a little spice for variety and flavor.  Just like my Christian service and ministry work.  I love the sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy flavor of cinnamon, and I love the sweet feelings and spicy variety I find in helping/doing nice things for others.  People and physical work can be great fun, but they can also be quite spicy!  But like cinnamon, mission work is full of variety and adds so much robust flavor to my life!Pecans

And, finally, the nuts give a little shot of protein, a little “meat” to cling to my tummy, which helps the rich cream of wheat fill me up, making me feel that much more satisfied and content.  This is just how I feel when I visit (fellowship) with other believers, whether socially or in church.  They back up and affirm my faith, helping to enrich and shore up my confidence and satisfaction in serving God.  And when I might falter, they are there to help carry me through the empty spots. These friends are God’s little helpers in making my life rich, happy, full and satisfying.

So there, you have it – God is my bowl of cream of wheat 

Yum!

Something in the Water

     I came across this article yesterday and my heart was warmed as I read.  As I listened to the song, I found my feet tapping, my head nodding and my spirit lifting.  I felt renewed – in the words of the song, definitely, but also in the realization that a mega-superstar was unashamedly putting it all out there – her FAITH!

Go Carrie Underwood!!!!

     I say we need more of our superstar, high profile people, like Carrie Underwood, to vocally stand up for what they believe in, against the mega bullies who are trying to tear anything having to do with our Christianity and God down.

     And I’d also say it’s time for us wishy washy, only-on-Sunday-Christians to wash up, armor up, Truth up, and speak up!  It’s time to show in words and deeds (respectfully and without tromping others’ rights and feelings) that True, real Christianity is not a dreaded disease to fear, but a good, honorable way of life, worthy of respect.  

And worthy of protecting.  

Who is with me?????

 ‪#‎somethinginthewater‬ ‪#‎realchristianity‬

Every day, it seems that the cultural norm in this country is to attack Christianity. From bakers being forced to choose between adhering to their faith or shutting…
TPNN.COM|BY JENNIFER BURKE

Saved By the Friendly Smile!

     Are you someone who’s very outgoing, with a ready smile and easily talk to people you don’t know? If you are, then have I ever got a job for you!

     We moved across the country this summer, so I have spent the last few months seeking out new “stomping grounds” so to speak – the grocery store, the mall, the post office, shoe stores, fun little shopping places to just sight-see, etc.  I’ve had a blast because I love being out among people and love exploring new places.  Here, there is a plethora of little clothing shops, grocery/convenience stores, resale/consignment stores, furniture and interior decorating shops, as well as every variety food/drink shops/restaurants/casinos.  Except for the casinos, you bet I have been making my rounds in exploration!  Until this past weekend, though, the one necessary place for me personally that I had not visited yet was a church.  Funny how the thought of visiting this one particular venue would leave me feeling apprehensive and nervous.  Can you relate?

     Well, last week I decided it was time I dug in and found a likely church to visit.  Since I am a praying person, I dutifully called up God and laid my petition at His feet; “Please oh my Father in Heaven, help me find the right church to attend – one that has great music, comfortable seats, makes me feel good, and is preferably not very far from home – Amen!”

     After looking online for likely prospects, none jumped out at me.  Then a flyer came in the mail for a big church that sounded interesting, so excitedly I looked it up.  Wow – it looked and sounded amazing!  Good music, casual dress and there was even a plan a visit button on the webpage and I bit the bullet and clicked it! I entered the time/day that I would visit and hit the send button.  And the next day I got a reply back!  So, on Sunday, I strapped on my courage, carefully applied my batting-my-eye-lashes enhancer and pretty pink cheeks and smile, sprayed on my going-out half a can of hair spray, donned my confidence enhancing 4 1/2” platform heels (as I’m a shorty at 5’3”), my favorite dark wash jeans and flowy pretty top and away I went.

     Of course, I was a little late leaving the house after all the primping and as I was driving, my nerves chimed in with worrying little comments like “your shoes are too bright,” “your jeans are too tight for church,” “your shirt is too sheer,” “they might not like your makeup,” “your hair is too poufy,” and so on.  You ever heard those annoying little voices? Ugghh!  But once again, I called up God and asked Him to prepare the way for me: “Oh please, God, help me get there, don’t let me turn around!  And please help me go in the right door and find the auditorium quickly and please let there be a seat right on the end of an aisle that I can just slip into.  And please, oh please let there be someone to direct me if I get lost!”

     Now, for anyone who knows me very well, they would not believe I would ever be or sound that insecure.  But sometimes I am.  Yep, I am.  Downright pathetic sometimes.   How about you – ever struggle with those feelings?  Seriously, I think we all do, right?

     Well, I get to the church, I find a close up spot in “First-time Visitor parking,” and there’s a big door marked #1 right in front of me, and a slew of people are walking toward and through it.  Awesome! No problem, I got this. Central Cross Close up comp

I get to the door and a friendly gentleman opens it and gives me a smiling “hello.”  Nice!  I walk in and look around and see a ton of people milling about – yikes!! This is getting a little scary…now what?  Well…as I hesitantly look around, I notice that all these people seem to be smiling and laughing and they look friendly – oh…hmmm…I might like this! And there to my right is a big sign “Auditorium” and thankfully I enter.  Wow – it’s dim, it’s huge, it’s full, but the most amazing music is reverbing off the walls and beautiful colors are streaming the platform where a band is swaying and moving and singing and playing their hearts out!  And it’s loud and vibing and perfectly beautiful!  And they are singing about God!  And my heart is at once happy.

But I need to find a seat – oh no – where??? There must be a thousand people in here!  I begin to walk down the far right isle, my nerves jangling and a little claustrophobia grabs a hold of me.  Oh, God, I’m not going to find a seat!  But no worries – a nice lady with a big smile motions to a few empty seats inside her row.  Oh thank you Ma’am! I squeeze into the row, but find I have an empty seat on either side of me – thank You God – I will be ok while I get my first-time-there bearings – whew!

The music is fantastic and stirs my heart, my spirt, and reminds me how much I have been missing this the last few months.  I get lost in it.  The pastor gets up (in his jeans and button down shirt) and lets us know that he is not there because he is the pastor – no, he is there because he is a mess without God, just like the rest of us.  He’s just like the rest of us.  But God cleans us up.  All of us.  Yes, me too.  You, too. No matter who we are or what kind of mess we are in.  I feel so good.  My insecurities fade away.

     The service ends and I walk into the atrium wondering how will I find the welcome center to meet the lady from the email.  Eeeeek there are so many people and I can’t see anything! Hammering heart! Oh no – I must look stupid – and in my hesitance I’m getting in everyone’s way!  What do I do??? Maybe I should just find the door and leave.  Oh, but I really like this place, I really would like to meet someone and feel like I belong.  I need to belong somewhere.  Then I hear a cheery “Can I help you find something?” I look and there is a good looking, smiling, 30-something guy looking right at me.  He has a name tag around his neck and is in jeans too!  Oh thank You again, God!

     To make a long story short (or at least short-ER) he directs me and after the assistance of several smiling, friendly people, I find the Visitor area and more smiling, friendly faces.  The most lovely, friendly lady assisted me, loading me with info, CD, books, etc, and not one, but two big hugs! Wow – I feel so GOOD!

     Thanks to all the friendly, smiling, willing to help people, my nerve-wracking adventure turned into a glorious experience I will remember always.  And I think I may have found my new church home, my place to belong! Oh yippee-yay, I am so happy!!

     So, the moral of the story – and the job I have for you is this – be friendly! While out enjoying yourself with friends, coworkers, etc, be alert to those around you.  Reach out with your bright, inviting smile and give a friendly “hello” to someone you see.  You never know who might be feeling insecure and in need of a little encouragement or direction from a friendly face.  Who knows, you might just keep someone from running back home insecure and afraid – like me!  And you know – even better yet – become a volunteer and share your awesomeness with many ♥

Love and peace – Mindy

Central Christian Church, Henderson NV comp

Be the Change

I am a proud Mommy this week!

 I was overjoyed to travel to Oxford, Ohio to watch and celebrate with my daughter as she graduated from Miami University with her Bachelor of Social Work. Tiffany has worked hard toward this degree for many years, being delayed many times due to life circumstance.  The ups and downs, the joys and setbacks, the victories and frustrations of being the wife of an Iraqi wounded warrior took their toll. But she dug in, refused to give up, gave it all she had, and she did it!!

Miami University is no slouch school – known for its academic excellence – and she managed to graduate Cume Laude!  

While working part time on top of everything else.  

Tiffany began in the Farmer Business College as a business major, but as time went by, as she and her wounded warrior husband experienced the frustrating, greatly lacking medical resources and care available to our veterans, she changed her major to Social Work, with a minor in business.  She plans to work with the Veteran’s Administration, serving and giving care to our country’s valiant heroes who desperately need much additional help.  She will begin grad school this fall as she also volunteers, and eventually plans to obtain her PhD in social work, going into research, to help evaluate and create the right resources for the care and healing of our Wounded Warriors.

Through the years, Tiffany saw and experienced the neglect of our Military heroes, saw and experienced the need for better resources and better care.  She saw the need for change – and is putting herself in place to be the change. As many students do for graduation, she decorated the top of her cap with a personal statement or message.

 For Tiffany it is: “Be the Change You Wish to See.”Cap

 No empty words here.  

As I reflect upon my week with Tiffany, my sweet, caring, amazing daughter, I am inspired. I am rejuvenated and stoked to go out and “be the change” somewhere, somehow; to make a difference, in whatever way I can.

After all, if we are not willing to do/be something, no matter how big or small, to make a difference, then how will any change ever occur?

What change do you wish to see?  What can you do to make a difference?  

What can you do to be that change?

Thank you, Tiffany, my greatest blessing, for showing your Mommy how to do something amazingly right.

I love you forever ❤

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