The revolving door at Mama’s Empty Nest never stopped spinning over Thanksgiving.
A whirlwind of activity from last Wednesday until yesterday evening kind of left me in a fog this morning, much like this picture outside my kitchen window.
The door rotated open first when Oldest Daughter and Best Beau drove up from the city Wednesday evening. BB made the trip up from one of those states down south to spend Thanksgiving with us…well, mostly to spend it with Oldest Daughter. This one is definitely a keeper, and it has been a blessing to watch their relationship deepen from friendship to something more.
Again the door blew open later that night when Son arrived from his long trek from the state next door. Mama put some finishing touches on Thanksgiving goodie preparations, and we basked in each other’s company until our eyelids started drooping.
Early Thanksgiving morning, Middle Daughter, white scrubs clad and surprisingly talkative and chipper despite having just worked a 12-hour nursing shift at her hospital plus a drive home from the city, pushed open the revolving door. Faithful Fiancé couldn’t join us as he didn’t have much time off from his graduate school studies in the state on the other side of us.
With all of the chicks back in the nest once again, I think Middle Daughter pined a bit for her true love and was too excited to be home with her siblings to want to nap. But gradually she nodded off on the love seat while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV (another family tradition).
We feasted on turkey and all the trimmings, including Mama’s kids’ favorite, frog eye salad, but not before we each took turns around the table to count and name our blessings, one by one. As I surveyed the beloved faces gathered at the table and listened to each item for which they were thankful, a realization suddenly dawned on me.
Next year, when I carefully position my mother’s china on the Thanksgiving table, there will be more place settings, but more importantly, there will be more beloved faces. Middle Daughter and Faithful Fiancé will be a married couple, so our family will increase by one for certain.
Mama’s also alerted to inklings about more exciting news in the empty nest, so I suspect our family will welcome two others, Oldest Daughter’s Best Beau and Son’s Gracious Girlfriend, sometime soon. As I savored the opportunity to glimpse into the future, it filled me with joy and I silently uttered thanks to the One who ordains our days.
Whoosh! That revolving door swept open again. One of Son’s buddies from high school stopped by for a visit and we all commenced a lively game of Qwelf around the kitchen table. Another spin of the door, and my sister and brother-in-law joined us from their celebration at their son’s in-laws. The table expanded and Thanksgiving morsels spread out once again.
And just as the door brought them in one by one or two by two, the door opened again to allow their departure. High school buddy left first, followed by my sister and her hubby. Son departed to journey to his girlfriend’s family’s home for the remainder of the weekend.
Friday afternoon, more of Mama’s favorite people stepped through the revolving door on their way out. Oldest Daughter and Best Beau exited to drive south for BB’s family Thanksgiving; Middle Daughter ventured westward to visit Faithful Fiancé.
And Mama and Papa were left with a closed revolving door. And oodles of Thanksgiving leftovers. And countless Thanksgiving blessings.
There was no cause for despair though, the door whirled open once more yesterday evening as Son and Gracious Girlfriend visited for a short while on their way back East.
So even though fog crept in this morning, in Chapter 11, Page 28 of my Opportunity book, the love and bonds of family light up my heart and the warmth left there burns off the fog, that misty wrapping of melancholy that once filled the empty nest. The revolving door will once again burst open because this house, even though it’s the empty nest, is home.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
Here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we give thanks today, this Page 24, Chapter 11 in my book entitled Opportunity, to the One who provides our needs.
May you be blessed with love, family, and friends on this special day and may you have many blessings to count.
“Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
As my children somehow metamorphosed right in front of my eyes into adults and moved out of our home, I struggled with so many emotions. Coming on the heels of losing my last living parent, the empty nest found me wallowing in a knee-high bog of grief.
The kids grew up and moved on to new lives of independence (read “Mom felt not needed anymore” here). My Dad went on to his eternal reward in Heaven joining my Mom and my in-laws there (read “Those days of needing to check up on and take care of Dad were gone” here). That’s why I felt like I was left behind holding a bagful of tears.
I turned to blogging as a way of working through my feelings and rediscovering my love of writing. Blogging opened up a fresh, newfound world for me in ways I never dreamed would happen.
Somehow my words sent out into cyberspace found their way into other people’s worlds. My quiet life with its lack of connections suddenly came alive with lots of electronic firings. It seemed as though an unused circuit board sparkled to life with all the lights, bells, and whistles. I had imagined my life like a switchboard with no phone calls, but as my blogging world expanded, that switchboard was flooded with calls, totally transformed.
I found an entire new set of friends, something I never expected. My belief is that God made the connections and brought some amazing people into my life through blogging.
“How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment when we realize we have discovered a friend.” ~ William E. Rothschild.
Recently, I made a new friend, Dianna, in this world of connectivity. She shares lovely photos and sweet narratives on her blog, These Days of Mine. Visiting her blog is like welcoming a ray of sunshine into a dreary day. She blessed me the other day with the Kreativ Blog Award and I thank her for thinking so highly of me and my words.
As with other blog awards, one of the rules in accepting it is to share snippets about yourself that you haven’t already
blabbed about shared with readers. I might have to dig deeply here, since I’m often like an open book. Hmmm….thinking….thinking…??
Okay here goes:
- I was born on a Wednesday, and as everyone knows from the old nursery rhyme – “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” Not true!! I beg to differ. I’m not full of woe, no matter what day I was born upon. If I could have chosen, I would have entered this world on Tuesday (full of grace) or Friday (loving and giving).
- I have never owned a dog, and I really don’t ever want to own a dog. (Sorry, canine lovers, will you still be my friend?)
- I’ve had a pen pal since I was in 4th grade, but we’ve never met in person…yet. We began our friendship writing letters to each other as children and continued through high school, college, marriage, and having children. We still communicate with newsy letters at Christmas time after all those years. Someday, I hope we have an opportunity to meet face to face.
- When I was a kid, I had a cat named Susie. Once she brought a baby rabbit (still alive) into our house and laid it in a box with her newborn kittens and another time she brought a snake (also alive) in! I’m not sure why that tidbit of info just popped in my head; let me go check the cat and make sure she hasn’t brought any wildlife into the house!
- I’d like to say I have visited all 50 states in the USA, but I’ve only been to 32. I need to do some traveling.
Now comes the fun part – passing the Kreativ Blog Award to someone else. There are so many creative and fascinating blogs that I visit, it’s difficult to narrow down the field.
One blogger I’ve recently discovered truly is creative. She’s a mom with young children and right there is a recipe for creativity. Her blog is fun, she’s always full of great ideas, and I think her kids must be very blessed to have such an awesome mom! Check out her blog at Play 101.
I’m also passing this award on to Montana Outdoors . If you want to see amazingly beautiful photographs of nature taken in Big Sky Country, this is one blog you shouldn’t miss. I am continually awe-struck at the beauty Montucky captures with a camera. I know it takes a creative eye to snap such stunning pictures.
During this month when our thoughts turn to thanksgiving, I find myself grateful on this 21st page of Chapter 11 in my book called Opportunity. I’m grateful for friends, old and new. I’m thankful for a blogging community with such creative and encouraging writers. And I’m thankful for you, my readers. May you have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year and it is right around the corner of next week.
My family and I have so much for which to be thankful.
As often happens when I think about the blessings I’ve been given, I immerse myself in the waves of nostalgia for memories that envelope my heart in gentle, caressing folds of love.
In the last years of my maternal grandparents’ lives, they resided with my parents and me. Both Grandpa and Grandma died, within six months of each other, the year I turned nine. So my childhood memories of them are brief but certain aspects of our life together remain vividly ensconced in my mind.
One of those cherished vignettes is sitting side by side with my grandmother in her favorite rocking chair singing hymns as we rocked in time. Grandma may not have realized it, but she instilled God’s Word in my heart with those “hymn sings” we shared. She also taught me valuable life lessons through the words of those songs, one of which was to be thankful for my blessings.
I distinctly remember those song lyrics and one particular hymn has been swirling around my mind all week. Today, this Sunday, in my book of Opportunity, Chapter 11, Page 20, we sang this old hymn, Count Your Blessings, in worship at our country church.
My husband and I worshiped God today in the sanctuary of this church - where we were married and where middle daughter will marry her true love in a few months; where both of my parents grew up as members; where all four of my grandparents belonged; where my great-great grandparents were two of eight founding members back in 1820 – this church which was built upon ground donated by those great-great grandparents.
As I sang this well-loved tune, I thought about the legacy of my family heritage in this church. In my mind’s eye, I envisioned my ancestors who worshiped God in that very spot all those long years ago.
But mostly as I heard those familiar musical notes, I could picture my elderly grandmother and my little childhood self in our living room at home, rocking in that special chair, and praising God as two voices – one worn, weathered, and cracked and one young, high-pitched, and tender – sang:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
So I am counting my many blessings and naming them one by one. Even though this year had its challenges, I’m thankful. One of my blessings is being the wife of my true love and mother of three amazing adults who come back to the empty nest from time to time for visits.
This past fall, our oldest daughter moved back to our nearby city from a state down south and it’s so good to know she’s within easy driving distance again. Recently, she told me this: “I love being 10 minutes from one of my best friends, 35 minutes from my mom and dad and 10 feet from my sister!” (They share an apartment in the city.)
Sounds like she’s very grateful and counting her blessings as well. I’m hopeful that counting our blessings will always be an essential element in our family legacy.
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 uses 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 out of us. 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. Some of my favorite passages about words are underlined in my study Bible and I’d like to share a few of them today.
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. Not very long ago, I witnessed someone utter a careless, flippant remark which deeply wounded a friend of mine. I felt her pain as the other person spoke insensitively 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.”
As I’ve matured both in age and spiritually, I’ve become more conscious of my words and more cautious to consider them wisely before I spout. It’s something I wished I’d learned a long time ago.
I’ve known this scripture, also found in Proverbs, for most of my life but I’ve often failed to live by this passage each and every day. “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
It’s Chapter 11, Page 15, in my Opportunity book. This year of opportunity (2011) is starting to wind down. But today, as I read the following passage in my guidebook for life, these words written so long ago made a huge impact on me.
“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
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. Ouch!
I fervently pray 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.
This flag waves and unfurls itself in the wind as it flies outside the home of an American patriot.
This flag is displayed every day of the year, not just on holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July, or Veteran’s Day.
This flag represents not just this great country but all those who have protected it, guarded it, and in many cases, given their lives for it.
This flag proudly hangs from my front porch because my husband is a veteran of U.S. military service.
My husband did not fight in a war during his time in the military, but he most ardently would have given his all for his country had he been given the opportunity to do so.
He is a keen student of history and he strongly believes in the premises this country was founded upon. He is proud to be an American veteran, and my post today honors him and all those who have served our country.
When I was a youngster, one aspect that denoted Veteran’s Day was the wearing of a red artificial poppy on your lapel. I remember veterans handed these small brilliantly colored flowers out from the street corners of my hometown. We wore them proudly to show our support of these brave souls and those who gave their lives to protect our freedom.
Another remembrance of Veteran’s Day, which was also called Armistice Day, was learning and reciting in our school classrooms this well-known poem written during World War I.
In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
“In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead, short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
In Flanders fields!”
Today, Chapter 11, Page 11, in my book called Opportunity, I don’t have a red poppy to wear on my shirt.
But this flag, which adorns my home, and my voice in this blog can honor my husband and his fellow servicemen and women.
Thank you to all our veterans for serving our country and keeping us free. We owe everything we have to you. May God bless you and hold you safely in the palm of His hand.
“But the freedom that they fought for, and the country grand they wrought for, Is their monument today, and for aye.” ~ Thomas Dunn English