Thanks Giving: for the library

blogIMG_4377It’s almost become a standing date.  Me, Papa, and the public library.

We’re both readers.  When I was young, my mom always knew she could find me with my ‘nose in a book.’  And my husband – definitely a bookworm when he was a kid.  He still has his classic comics stashed away to prove it.  The shelves in our home sport way more books than knickknacks and I’m pretty certain boxes of various volumes we own are stored in our basement.

We do read a lot on our Kindle but both of us would rather roam through the stacks of books in a public library in search of a good read. I like turning the actual pages of a book in my hands and checking one out knowing I have a deadline to finish it by.

Libraries have always been one of my favorite places.  I like the quietness and hushed tones and the peace you find there.  When I walk into one, I’m happy to meander up and down the aisles reading book titles, looking for my favorite authors, or totally branching out and trying a book from a writer I don’t recognize. My dream would be to start in the fiction section with the letter A and read as many volumes as I could all the way through to Z. 

So a trip to the library a couple of Saturdays a month has become a kind of date for hubby and me. 

And I’m thankful for this thing we have in common, for public libraries, and a big tote bag in which to bring home my finds.  And the best part, it’s free.

“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” –Laura Bush

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Thanks Giving: for the glass

How do you see the glass?  Much has been said or written about whether your glass is half full or half empty.

I can fret about whether my glass is half full or half empty.  But today on this 20th day into my 30 days of thanks giving, I’m just going to be thankful I have a glass and fill it full of gratitude. 

“But whether we have less or more, Always thank we God therefor.”  ~Author Unknown

Please view the video below and ask yourself is your glass full of thanksgiving?

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: when he pumps the gas

blogIMG_4576

We woke up to snow on the ground Monday morning, a little icy residue under the snow engulfing our car, and we had a long trip to make home after spending the weekend visiting our daughter and son-in-law a few states away.

And as I sat in our vehicle, nice and toasty warm with those heated seats, my husband got out into the blustery snowy weather to fill our tank with gas.

It was a day for thankfulness.  Thankfulness for safe trips to visit our loved ones.  Thankfulness for heated car seats when the weather turns arctic.  And thankfulness for hubby when he pumps the gas in all kinds of weather.

“All that we behold is full of blessings.” ~ William Wordsworth

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for words

30 days of thanks3Words.  I’m thankful for them because where would we be without them?

If there were no words, we would have no writing.  There would be no great works of literature, no poems, no letters, no dictionaries, no blogs for that matter.

If words were non-existent, we would have no speech.  We would have no names for people, places, or things.  There would be no conversations, audible or with sign language.

Words are important.  Words are powerful.  They have the ability to build up or tear down.  On average, we humans speak thousands of words per day.  Some people are more talkative than others, but even the most reticent among us use words each and every day.

Some of us are like a waterfall, words rush dramatically from us.  Some are like a river, words flowing continually.  Others are like Old Faithful, quiet for a while then suddenly words gush forth.   And still others are much like a faucet, we turn our words off and on just when they are needed.

We speak words of love and words of hate.  Words of comfort and words of anger.  Words of life and words of death.  Words of encouragement and words of destruction.  Words of blessing and words of curse.  Words can instill passion to do good or incite diabolical plans for evil.

The Bible gives us much instruction on our use of words.   Proverbs 12:17-19  reminds me to choose my words wisely and think before I speak: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”

I’ve been guilty of piercing my loved ones with reckless words of my own, and I have been the recipient of sharp sword-like words piercing my heart.    I’ve witnessed someone utter a careless, flippant remark which deeply wounded a friend of mine.  I felt her pain at the insensitive words the other person spoke and I could see in her eyes how those thoughtless utterances affected her.

I wish I could say that my tongue always speaks soothing words of healing, but I know that’s not the case.  Sometimes, I let my anger, or frustration, or state of feeling unwell fuel what comes out of my mouth.   And then harsh words just spew out of me.

Those critical or abrasive words I speak do nothing but cause more anger and frustration.  At times like these, I need to heed this admonition from Proverbs 15:1-3: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

I’ve become more conscious of my words and more cautious to consider them wisely before I spout.  It’s something I wish I learned a long time ago, putting these words also found in Proverbs into practice:  “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

God knows me inside and out.  He knows my heart.  He knows what’s in my head.  And He knows what I’m going to say before the words roll off my tongue.

“You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” ~ Psalm 139:3-5

My hope is that I’ll be more sensitive to His urging to check my spirit and examine my words carefully before I speak because my words have power either to inflict great damage or bless another with the soothing balm of grace.

And I have the power to choose and change my words and for that opportunity I’m so very thankful.

“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”  ~Johannes A. Gaertner

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for bridges

bogIMG_4528Bridges.  I take them for granted.  I assume as I drive down the highways and byways in my neck of the woods, that those bridges which span from one side of the river, or creek, or lake to the other will be there so I can continue my journey.

And around these parts, we have lots of bridges because we have wide rivers to cross and an abundance of creeks as well.  Our fair city nearby alone boasts 446 such spans. 

Without a bridge, I couldn’t drive from my house to my hometown.  Without a bridge, I would not be able to cross the many creeks that zigzag through the countryside.  And without those bridges, I would not be able to visit my grown children.  Papa and I must drive across many bridges before we arrive at any of their homes.

But bridges don’t just provide a means to travel from one place to another.  They  provide a way to build relationships as well.  I’ve often read that we humans sometimes build more walls than bridges, and I, for one, would much rather be known as a bridge builder than a constructor of walls.

So on this 17th day into my 30 days of thanks giving, I’m grateful for bridges of all kinds.

“Love is the bridge between two hearts.” ~ Unknown

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Thanks Giving: for the pile

The piles stack up. There’s the good stuff pile and then there’s the not so good stuff pile. But I’m thankful for the piles of my life.  Because I am loved. And so are you.

Please watch the thanks giving video below.

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things.  The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make  them unimportant.” ~ Doctor Who

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for this man

blogIMG_4451

My husband, the Papa in this empty nest in which we live, has been my life companion for 37 years of marriage.  We dated for three years before we tied the knot, so I’ve known this man for 40 years.  And in these 40 years, I’ve learned a lot about him.  

He is and always will be a student of history.  I often think he may have missed his calling – he should have been a history teacher/professor.  He’s constantly reading, studying, learning about historical events, persons, and places.  If you perused his book shelves here in our home office, the titles in his collection attest to this interest of his.

One of his favorite things to do is visit museums and in our many years of marriage, we’ve walked through more than I can remember in various areas of our country.  Everything in such a place captivates my husband’s attention and he can be found reading almost every display card in an exhibit.  I, on the other hand, scan the exhibits for something that stands out and piques my interest, reading about that particular item, and then moving on.

I usually end of up at least one room ahead of my husband during our walk through a museum, sometimes even further ahead.  Last weekend, we used a Groupon for a two-for-one admittance into the Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian,  a place hubby has wanted to visit for quite some time now in our nearby city.  He enjoyed our afternoon there immensely, and as usual, he was always behind me while examining the exhibits.

I stopped periodically and waited for him to catch up with me,  and once I snapped this photo of him deeply involved in reading about one aspect of a display.  He didn’t even know I’d taken his picture.   It’s typical him in a museum – always captivated by something and always behind me.

And one more thing that’s also typical him is this:  he’s always behind me, no matter what happens, no matter the circumstances, this man always has my back.  He supports me, listens to me, encourages me, is my loyal and trusted friend as well as husband. That’s just one of the reasons why I love him so much.

And one of the reasons why I’m so thankful to walk through this life with this man.

“We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.” ~ Theodore Reik

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for the storm

blogIMG_1086A dark and threatening storm brewed just like the one we had weathered and persevered through in the past, but we had to admit this time it appeared more daunting.

With a shaky economy and on our way to senior citizenship yet not in a position to retire, the outlook wasn’t promising when my husband lost his job a few years ago  – again. 

As a sales rep with nationwide companies, he was accustomed to the changes that career often brings.   When sales are good, they’re really good, but when the economy takes a turn for the worse, your job becomes frustrating and job loss threatens.  

Previously,  my husband had persevered through several company downsizings yet always managed to retain a job.  Even when the corporation he worked for sold to a competitor and his sales position eliminated, he still managed to snag a new job with a former customer.  Sixteen years ago we decided to sell our Pacific Northwest home and relocate across the country to care for aging parents, yet again my husband fortunately found a new sales job back in our home state.   

Thanking God for provisions to enable us to acquire our home, raise three children, and send them off to college, my husband didn’t expect to find himself jobless again, but as our last offspring neared his final year of college, unemployment loomed once more.      

It’s difficult for anyone to lose a job, but it’s even more so for a husband and father, the provider for the family.   Like it or not, our work does define us because it provides a sense of well-being.  And when the rug of identity and security is pulled out from under someone losing a job, it more than knocks him off his feet; it undermines his confidence causing him to feel like an unworthy failure.   

Losing a job once is hard enough, but to experience it several times can be demoralizing, unnerving, and even devastating.  Worry sets in and sleepless nights ensue.  As the joblessness period continues month after month, one searches every means possible to find a job and fight discouragement.  Even so, searching can prove overwhelming and extremely disheartening which leads to depression and even more anxiety. 

My husband battled the unemployment enemy just as surely as he had been trained as a former Army officer to battle foes.  He sent out resume after resume by any means possible.  He registered with internet job search sites and spent considerable time each day scouring opportunities online.  Newspaper ads, job fairs, networking with friends and acquaintances in the sales field – he attempted them all. 

And yet, nothing surfaced.  Cover letters and resumes appeared to be ignored.  Networking failed to make connections that led to interviews.  Job fairs proved fruitless because he was told countless times that he was overqualified for the entry-level jobs being offered.

It seemed that the door to job opportunity wasn’t just closed, it was slammed shut.  We battened down the hatches to weather this storm by curtailing our expenses.  Now as we faced a longer season of unemployment, we tightened our budget even more severely eliminating all non-essentials.  

We opted for no health insurance and hoped we stayed healthy.  After paring down our household bills to a bare minimum, we calculated how long we could continue paying our mortgage and contributing to our son’s education.    My part-time salary at a community non-profit organization did not cover necessary monthly expenses, so I began searching for full-time employment too.  

We formed long-term contingency plans.  Realizing home wasn’t just the house where we lived but where our family gathered together, and that could be anywhere, we discussed selling our home, even though we had hoped to live the rest of our lives there.  If need be, we would sell.  If downsizing proved imperative, so be it.  We even deliberated over relocating to another state where jobs might be more plentiful.  

We examined all options and kept praying, focusing on our faith in Christ Jesus.  Somehow, through God’s provisions, we continued to meet necessary expenses.  Our son received a huge blessing with a good-paying summer internship and a scholarship which would finance his senior year of college.  

We prayed for guidance, and instead of surrendering to despair, my husband awakened early each morning commencing anew his job search, no matter how unsuccessful it seemed.  He structured his time searching for jobs part of the day but spent the rest in an entirely different fashion.

He opened His Bible and delved deeper into God’s Word.  He read, he studied, he contemplated, and he prayed not just for us but for others and their needs. And he praised and thanked God for His goodness, thanking Him even midst the difficult circumstances.

Following this new regimen of Bible study and prayer, my husband’s outlook changed.  He experienced that peace that passes all understanding when we place total trust in God and His Word.  He started sleeping better at night and his newly-found calm demeanor about this season of life eventually rubbed off on me, a chronic worrier.  I too felt assurance that whatever transpired for us was God’s plan.  And I knew that I must not just give lip service to my favorite passage of scripture about being thankful in all circumstances.  I must put it into practice.

We purposely thanked God daily because even through this trying situation, He was faithful to provide our needs, although not necessarily our wants.   We wholeheartedly trusted He would show us what was on His horizon next and realized that He was asking us to totally rely on Him, do our part, and wait for His perfect timing.

Our pastor approached my husband and asked him to lead a Bible study during this time.  Praying about this opportunity to serve God, it became clear that He was opening a door, not for employment, but for my husband to grow in his spiritual walk, deepen his faith, and learn to rely, depend, and trust even more in God’s plan for the future and encourage others to do the same.

Now my husband spent part of his day preparing to lead weekly Bible study while still searching diligently for employment.  He was living out his favorite scripture too:  “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

As my husband waited and submersed himself in the Word, God’s perfect timing appeared.  An interview led to a job offer with a small, local company.  While it wasn’t a high-powered position with a large salary and perks, we already realized we could live on much less and it would meet our needs.

The position required little to no overnight travel, something that had wearied my husband in the last few years of his sales career.  A blessing for both of us.  As empty nesters, I looked forward to spending more time each evening with my husband instead of being home alone.  

This answer to prayer blessed us in ways we hadn’t even thought about.  The Lord already knew our needs and how He would provide them.  And amazingly, my husband encountered an emotion he hadn’t felt for a very long time – he was excited to work! 

Now, a few years later, we thank God for His provisions, but we are even more grateful for how He strengthened our faith during difficult times.  Being jobless doesn’t mean being hopeless when your trust is in Christ Jesus.  

“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” ~Albert Barnes

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com