Keepin' It Real

Doubt is Unbelief

Stop doubting and believe! John 20:27

Jesus’ disciples had just been through the worst time of their lives. Jesus, their  teacher and friend, had been killed and placed in a tomb. Three days later when some of the disciples told Thomas they had seen Jesus as the risen Lord, Thomas told them he had to see it to believe it. He wanted proof that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. Jesus, being, well, Jesus, and loving Thomas deeply, appeared again to the disciples when Thomas was present. When Jesus showed Thomas the scars from his crucifixion, Thomas immediately believed that He was the Lord and had returned from the dead.

Are we like Thomas? Do we have to be shown something that is written in God’s word (for example His faithfulness or His promises) to believe it’s true? But what happens to us when we haven’t seen yet? What happens when we are still struggling and God hasn’t provided a solution? Do we begin to doubt if He will? Do we doubt His love for us and His faithfulness? Or even if He can provide what we need?

We are a society of gratification—the quicker the better! But God is not interested in our societal expectations. He loves us and wants us to grow in Him. He knows that adversity can bring us closer to Him, to His heart of love, to closer communion with Him. Even if that communion consists only of, “Oh God! Oh God!” (The Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows the cry of our hearts.)

How can our faith grow if it is never tested? It’s often through these hard times of testing that God is able to prove His unfailing love and attention to our needs. Don’t you know that Thomas was at the end of any faith he might have had in his dear friend, Jesus, who claimed to be the Messiah. That “Messiah” had been killed, and in the worst, most agonizing and humiliating way possible. Thomas was in deep, deep grief, and perhaps feeling a bit of anger too. “This is not how it was supposed to go. Where is the kingdom, the reign, the wonderful life I thought Jesus was talking about? I saw him die. You say he’s risen, but buddy, I gotta see it to believe it. I believed once and now I’m paying for it.”

You gotta love Thomas. He said what a lot of us think, really. Jesus commended those who believed without seeing him first (verse 29). But we can ask God if He will prove to us that He exists and give us the faith we need to believe in Him. 

By now in my life, I have firm convictions and believe in God—period. During some intensely difficult times I began seeing items in stores with the word “believe” on them. I picked up a few and it became my “word” for the season. I embraced this word, not because I lacked belief in God’s ability to take care of my problems, but because I chose to believe He would. Those words were affirmations of what my heart chose and reminders for my brain. Around the house whenever I’d see one, I’d breathe the prayer, “Oh yes, God, I believe You will provide.” 

I grew up in an environment of belief. (Many times, my parents had to believe for food on the dinner table that night. And God, being the faithful one He is, provided for our family of five.) I’m very thankful for the foundation that belief provided me. AND the gift of faith that God has given me. Did you know that you can ask God for the very thing He requires from us? That blows my mind. It’s like He says, “Child, I want you to give me your faith, lots of faith. I want you to fill this big box with your faith in me. But first, let me give you a warehouse full of faith so you can give me a box full of it back.”

I know this is very elementary, and probably not exactly scripturally accurate, but faith is a gift from God. And the more we are in difficult situations where our faith in God is tested, the more we choose to believe in His ability and desire to help us, the stronger our faith becomes. Because He will always come through for us.

Lest you think that I’ve had an easy life so it’s easy to talk about God’s faithfulness, I’ll share some of the most dramatic ways God has proven His faithfulness. (Believe me, there’s more!)

Shortly after marriage when our total income for the year was minimal to say the least, the refrigerator broke, my husband’s contact (which was necessary for him to see since he was legally blind) tore, and our car was stolen and joy-ridden until it was totaled (two cars were necessary because I drove 45 minutes one way to work). We had no money in reserve and no way of getting any. But, God came through and provided not only a car, but for our financial needs as well.

When my husband was attacked and chemicals thrown in his face and eyes, not once but twice, God came through and healed his eyes.

When I was left totally alone, betrayed by most of those I’d been closest to, God came through and not only healed my heart toward them, but as a result of that emotionally bereft time, came into my grief with more and more of Himself. I wouldn’t trade those times for anything because He drew me even closer to Him than I’d have ever known. I didn’t much care for the excruciating barrenness and alone-ness at the time, but I say now that the experience was worth knowing deeply, and personally, of God’s faithfulness and love in a way I’d never experienced before.

When I went through another devastating time–this one ended in divorce, God came through and provided a place of safety for my children and me to stay. He provided for all of our physical needs, and also healed my broken heart, helping me to parent my two very hurt and confused seven-year-olds. He knitted us together in a stronger bond, making a sweet, loving family from the three of us. My children were content, even in the midst of their grief.

After a period of years during which I was stripped of all my “identities”—wife, daughter, sister, teacher, pastor’s wife, worship leader, home owner, person with good credit—through the deaths of my family members, my divorce, my retirement, and bankruptcy, I had no idea what to do next. I didn’t have a clue “who” I was anymore, had lost most of my support system, was adrift in emotions, and felt weighed down. Over a period of about two years God and I did a lot of work on me. He came through with direction, provision, and so much love to flood my grieving heart. He set me on a new path that brings fulfillment and allows me freedom to be the person He created me to be.

I have many experiences of my own to prove God’s faithfulness and love to me. I know He has our best interests in mind. Do I ever get willful and try to do things my own way? Of course I do. But I’m better at relinquishing the reins these days.

I choose to believe. I choose to seek Him. There is no room for doubt in my life because to doubt God means that I’m believing the lie that God is not able. And I have learned and know, deeply in my “knower” that:

And you can know it too. Carry this verse with you, say it throughout the day and ask God to help you believe it. In a culture that glorifies the self-made person, it’s reassuring to know that it is GOD in us that is carrying out His purpose and satisfying the desires of our heart—way more than we could imagine.

Be blessed beyond measure, my friends, and thank you for stopping by. 

Love and big hugs, 

Passionista Mimi

 

Keepin' It Real

Too Exhausted For Goals!

January. Ugh. People are like, “Oh I love the beginning of a new year! I’m setting my intentions. I’m writing my goals. I’m picking a new theme or word of the year”. And I’m like, “Nope, just let me crawl back into bed.”  

In Michigan where I live it’s one of the grayest, dreariest months of the year. Holidays and fun are over. Now it’s just the tasks of every day in front of me. Don’t get me wrong. I love my life. I’m very blessed and I’m so full of gratitude. To be honest, though, by January I’m usually pretty tired.

I make a trip to Kentucky every Thanksgiving (eight hours on the busiest travel day of the year—and this year I was battling 40-60 mph winds!).  And then for Christmas I drive eleven hours to Missouri. I take these trips willingly and with joy because I am visiting my closest family members (the rest are even further away) and I love being with them. But I am the only driver so it is a bit exhausting for me.

The months of November and December are full of activities, of course. By the time January comes around, every bone in my body hurts. Did I mention that I’ve lived a few decades? (Ha!) But again, I’m so very grateful I’m able to do these things.

Back to wanting to crawl into bed. Honestly, it’s the best thing for me. After my son is on the bus and my daughter is dropped off, because I work from home I’m able to take a few days in the beginning of January to replenish. For me that means going back to bed or taking several hours to sit and read so my body and mind relax, or just puttering around the house with my plants or cleaning a bit. I try to keep my calendar as empty as possible, giving myself time to rejuvenate.

I spend time in prayer, seeking. My most earnest desire is that others see Jesus in me. So I seek direction on what that looks like. I want to be used of God. Effectively. But I know my ideas are not usually His so I need to hear His voice. I order to do that, I need to be still, and quiet.

Lately, in blogs across the internet-o-sphere, there is much talk about self-care. Taking care of myself has been a work-in-process through the years, and I’ve only begun to give myself permission to sleep when needed and read when I can without feeling guilty. Isn’t that wild? I’ve been a serious go-getter for most of my sixty-seven years, and “deserve” to take breaks now and then. But that old mindset of “I need to be doing something” wants to re-surface constantly. I am a warrior woman, and I’ve done battle with that lie, but it dies hard.

In January I am exhausted enough to put that lie, and myself, to rest. And that is I what I do.

Does this resonate with any of you? Are you like me and kind of detest the “let’s set goals” emphasis in January? Are you also too exhausted for the mental and emotional work that it actually takes? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know I’m not alone in this, or if you have any suggestions for me. This year, if I feel the need to set goals, I think I’ll do it in October! 🙂 

Here’s to a fruitful and satisfying 2020!

Big love and sparkle hugs,

Passionista Mimi

 

Christmas Reflections, Inspiration

We Are Not Alone

 

“Christmas is a reminder that we are not alone.”

My aunt shared this quote with me and it resonated within me.
God touched humanity with Jesus—the greatest gift of all. Love came down at His birth. He provided a way to live with HOPE in the midst of despair. To have a FRIEND when everyone turns away. To have STRENGTH in the midst of fear. To have LOVE in the midst of hate. To have FAITH in the midst of turmoil.
HE alone is my Rock, the One who has sustained me through some really, really rough times. He has anchored me when I’ve been adrift and floundering.


I am forever grateful for this Savior who came humbly to walk among us and make a way for us to have lives of fullness and joy, regardless of our circumstances. My heart belong to the One who loves me.

May you be blessed this Christmas

and the year to come. 

Love and big hugs, Mimi

Living With Gusto

Strength: You’ve Got It

“You never know how strong you are until being strong

is the only choice you have.”

Bob Marley

Most of us have been through things that have shown us—beyond our imaginings—what we are capable of. As we think back on those horrible days we are in awe of our perseverance and accomplishment, wondering how we ever survived. But we are strong, and we rise to meet need as the warriors we are.

I have a close friend who has walked through some of the most difficult things life has to offer. A particularly bad season was when she was making the drive to Detroit several times a week to take her infant son to Children’s Hospital. This went on for several months. She barely saw her husband and other infant son and was physically and emotionally worn out—the kind of worn out that trying to sleep in the hospital and fighting for your baby’s life will bring. The kind of exhaustion that causes you to nod off at the red light. When I exclaimed that I didn’t know how she’d done it, her response was, “What option did I have?”

And she was correct. Sometimes we just don’t have a choice and have to keep putting one foot in front of another.  And somehow the strength comes when needed.

One of the most grueling seasons in my life was during the time my mom lived with us while battling cancer. That was difficult enough, but my husband also had two back surgeries which put him out-of-commission on pain meds (so I was basically single-parenting), I was managing my mom’s in-home caregivers, both she and my husband were making frequent trips to the hospital, my two special needs 4 year olds were not sleeping, or if they were my daughter’s feeding pump would jam—sometimes two and three times a night, and I was rising at 4:30 each morning to get everyone ready so I could go teach my second graders—on very little sleep. Oh, and did I mention I was older—fifty-two, but who was counting? Let me tell you, I’m not sure how I ever survived those months!

mimis tea bag

 

So how do we find the strength to make it through these times? Looking back it seems impossible, but somehow I found the strength to do everything that was needed. I know that I prayed a lot! My prayer was often only, “Oh God! Oh God!”.  (Good thing He can read between the lines.) And I talked with my close friend, who gave me amazing support.

Some women turn to yoga, meditating, or exercise to calm and restore. Some attend support groups, community functions, or read. Sometimes just talking to a friend will help us see perspective and cause us to realize how strong we are and how far we have come.

Talking out loud can help us process our next steps, or just receive the support from another that gives us strength. Never discount how powerful helping to bear someone’s burden can be!

It’s important for women to gather, share, and support each other. Women are social creatures and amazing things happen when they gather and hang out together.

Don’t be afraid to tell your “warrior” stories to others. You may well inspire someone and help them gain strength in their journey. Yes, we may wish we’d done some things differently or better, but in the long run we did the best we could at the time. And most likely we were amazing! And look how strong we have become!

Hang in there Warrior Woman. And share your story.

Much love, Mimi

This post was originally an article written for Women2Women Magazine, of which I’m the editor. You may view our digital magazine online to read other great articles.

 

Christmas design

The Most Wonderful Time Printable

wreath the most wonderful time

Needing to create while I was stuck in a hotel room, I began working on this. It looks so simple, but has taken a ton of time to get the design pleasing to my own quirky taste. Layers upon layers, here it is. You are welcome to save it to your pictures (right click, “save image as”) and use it on your own media. Please be considerate and use “as is”.

This time of year is truly wonderful, and I hope you are able to enjoy it fully. December can be stressful or magical. Make it your best!

Big hugs! Mimi

Here are others if you prefer.

wreath Merry Christmas w passionista logo

wreath christmas blessing

Words To Help

Deepak Chopra: Movement to Prevent Suicide

Thrive Global has published a good read concerning suicide. Deepak Chopra, a spiritual leader and alternative medicine expert has launched a global movement to encourage and empower those who are struggling with their mental health to reach out. And to help them realize that they are not alone in their struggle.

“Chopra wants to do his part to help those who are also struggling with stress, burnout, anxiety, and other mental health issues. “Suicide is the second most common cause of death, among those aged 10-34.

Suicide is the biggest taboo of America,” he says. ‘This is the biggest tragedy of humankind. If we don’t address it, it is a testimony to our collective insanity. Let’s change the world — we can do it!’”

Of particular interest to me was his Four A’s….ways WE can be more mindful of those around us who might be struggling. He suggests some signs we can look out for. 

“When co-workers, friends, or people in your family are struggling, you can easily become aware of that. They lack sleep, they appear anxious, depressed, and sometimes they even give hints of hurting themselves,” he says. “We can actually tackle this epidemic by remembering four A’s, which are, in my view, the pillars of relationship:

attention with deep listening, 

affection with deep caring, 

appreciation with deep acknowledgement of the uniqueness of each other, and 

acceptance where you’re not trying to change anybody.”

 

Deepak rightfully calls these the pillars of relationship! We could all learn to practice these four actions more, and help our world, especially the one around us, become more caring.

Make sure to read the complete article Deepak Chopra Speaks Out For Suicide Prevention by Lindsey Benoit O’Connell.

Living With Gusto

I AM

I AM

The words I used to put after “I am” were not very nice words at all. I didn’t like myself much. I felt like I could never measure up or please everyone, although I spent most of my waking minutes trying. When I’d do something just for myself I’d feel extremely guilty and like I had to hide it. It seems pretty silly, huh?

But my beginnings were a bit rocky, which led me–a person of peace, huge emotions, and big heart–to feel as if I really didn’t deserve love, or even much of a place in this world. 

After going through a LOT of healing, prayer, reading/study, and consciously changing my thought patterns, I began to view myself differently. Believe me, this process took a long time, but the journey has set me free. When I begin to think of myself with words that cut me down, words that undermine the fabulous person God created me to be, I pull myself back and change them. 

I remember who I really, really am, the good stuff I’ve discovered about myself, and I change my thought pattern. It does work! I even say some of those things out loud to others, and I haven’t gotten struck by lightning yet!! 

I urge you to try it. This world seems to thrive on criticism (not the constructive kind), comparison, bullying, and zillions of images that could leave us feeling like a mess. We certainly do not need to be our own enemy by fueling that fire with negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves!!

If you have no idea what makes you fabulous, then ask a friend. (Our friends see and know what we do well, how we have helped them or others, what our personality is like and our strengths.) They can give you a few characteristics to get started. 

But first of all, above everything else, you are loved.

I do not know you well enough to say I love you (but I do care about you). The One who really, truly loves you unconditionally is our Creator, God, our heavenly Father who wants a close and personal relationship with you. And knowing we are loved can change how we feel about ourselves.

So go ahead, discover some good things about yourself, and begin replacing the ugly self-talk with uplifting, affirming words instead.  I’ve given you an alphabet card below full of suggestions. You are welcome to print it, (please be kind and use only for yourself, as it is my own work) or you can buy a 5″ x 7″ hard copy from my Etsy shop if you desire. I guarantee that if you read these words daily–using them to describe yourself–and begin to believe them (because of course you are all these things), you will become empowered and equipped with stronger self-esteem, self-love, and confidence. 

ABCs of me2

Why shouldn’t these words–and more–describe who you are? I now believe that I am these things, and I’m certainly no better than you!

So there you have it–strong, uplifting words to fill in this blank:

I am ______________________________.

 

I am very excited to hear about your journey. Let me know how you do!

And comment below if you, like me, have struggled with negative self-talk. 

 

I wish you blessings, truth, and the heart-knowledge that you are loved. 

Big sparkle hugs, 

Mimi heart for blog

Mimi's Messages

NEW Cards Listed!

Encourage someone, let them know you notice their perseverance.

I have stocked five new designs in my Etsy shop. They make up the Wings and Dreams Collection.

They have a very glossy front side and vibrant colors.

Great for graduation or anyone who is pursuing goals and dreams!

Stock up now while there is free shipping. Plus when you buy five, you get one free! ($3 savings) Use code BUYFIVE.

Purchase here.

Did your January just fly by like mine did? Goodness! Better make every day count. Thanks for stopping by.

Passionista Mimi

Living With Gusto

It’s So Simple

Be kind2

It really is simple.

Everything we might choose for our goals boils down to being kind:

Be kind to yourself.

Be kind in your relationships.

Be kind to the earth and animals.

Be kind to others.

Be kind in your words.

Be kind in your thoughts.

Be kind in your deeds.

I think that about covers it all.

May you have a wonderful year of kindness.

So what do you think? Let me know below.

Lots of great big sparkle hugs

and blessings in the new year.

heartMimi

 

 

 

 

Christmas Reflections, Mimi's Messages

All They Want For Christmas Is YOU!

Christmas gift 12.17.18 logo

We pressure ourselves to get the best Christmas gifts for our children. We just want them to be excited and happy. Well, guess what? This teacher tells us that what has mattered most to her students is spending time with their parents. And as a retired teacher, I can vouch for her.

christmas words from a teacher

Kids want US! They want our attention. They want us to do fun things with them, simple things. Spending time. Cuddling while watching silly Christmas movies. Popping corn. Sledding. Going for a walk. Reading together. Just being together is so special. Without the phone and laptop between us!!

Make traditions of baking, reading special stories each year, playing board games, telling about their yearly ornaments, helping those in need as a family, remembering favorite happenings during the year, attending seasonal concerts, church services, dinners…. there are many ways to be with your children. If you are completely worn out from shopping, and cranky about spending too much money, you won’t even feel like spending time with them. And to our children, spending time together matters. And it doesn’t cost a thing.

Here’s to a Christmas season FULL of making memories and spending time together, connecting with each other, not the internet.

Lots of hugs and Merry Christmas!

  heartMimi

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