I spotted another harbinger of spring recently, reminding me this is the season of rebirth, but also of something more profound.
White-tail deer inundate the area near our country home. We’ve had our fair share of run-ins with these cute creatures turned dangerous when they slam into cars driving down our highways.
Road kill’s a natural occurrence here and it’s almost unusual not to see dead deer lying on the side of the road. The damage they inflict on our vehicles is unbelievable. So when I spot deer nearby while I’m driving, I’ve learned to slow down considerably. Sometimes I lay on the horn repeatedly to frighten the critters away so they don’t ram into my car.
The other day, while driving home from work, I decided to travel a two-lane bi-way instead of the four-lane highway. As I was rounding a bend notorious for deer crossing, a doe scurried across the road in front of my car.
I immediately braked and quickly glanced in the direction she had come expecting to see another doe or maybe even a buck following her because once I saw the largest buck I’ve ever seen in my entire life at this exact spot. Instead, I spied a tiny, trembling spotted fawn standing at the top of an embankment, reminding me that deer give birth to their babies in the spring.
That adorable little baby deer appeared so startled by what was transpiring that he just buckled his stick-like legs under his polka-dotted body and lay down on the bank by the side of the road. He looked exactly like the picture accompanying this post.
Why don’t I carry my camera with me at all times? He would have made an adorable picture. Seeing that fragile fawn warmed my heart but also made me fear for his safety. I hope he stayed on the bank until his mommy came back for him and didn’t wander out onto the road.
All of this reminded me that sometimes, especially when we’re fearful about what lies ahead of us, we just hunker down like that little fawn. We wait to see what will happen or we become paralyzed with fear, hoping to be rescued much like I imagine that spotted baby deer expected from his mother.
And that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes, we just need to wait…..and wait…..and wait until God shows us what He wants us to do.
I must admit that often I feel like that scared fawn on the side of the road. I feel fragile and wobbly when I can’t figure out what’s going on in my life and what I’m supposed to do. But that’s when my rescuer lets me sense His presence.
Recently, I’ve allowed myself to feel exactly like a frightened fawn trembling beside a busy highway of life. One morning at a very early hour, I awakened abruptly because I heard someone loudly calling my name. I was certain my husband had already arisen and for some reason had called out to me.
My eyes opened in a flash, my heart pounded, and I expected to see hubby standing near me. He wasn’t. I looked around our bedroom and then realized he was still sound asleep next to me.
Who called my name? I pondered. I waited and listened. Nothing. Puzzled, I drifted back to sleep. The strange experience stayed in the forefront of my mind that day, and I related it to my co-workers.
My boss smiled and shared that she once had the same experience after a particularly stressful day. She added that she liked to think it was God calling her name, just to let her know that He saw her and knew what she needed.
I love that idea. It actually gives me great comfort because I do believe the God of the universe, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present, knows my name. He’s always known my name.
He knows my troubles and He knows my afflictions just like He knows my joys and my elation. He knows what I need, when I need Him the most, and when I need Him to guide me.
He has always carried me through trials and tough times, even when my doctor stated the dreaded ‘C word’ (cancer) six years ago. I’ve never felt abandoned or forgotten because I know my God sees me and hears my prayers (even when He doesn’t answer them the way that I would like!).
And sometimes, He just wants me to wait and know that He is God and He is in control and that He knows my name. I don’t have to fear that God will forsake me because He never will. I can count on Him to take care of me on this 11th page of Chapter 5 in my book called Opportunity and every day…and so can you.
Take a deep breath. Inhale and savor the sweet aroma of the first grass cutting of the season.
For me, nothing smells more like spring and summer than the scent of blooming flowers and a freshly cut lawn.
For one day last week, we experienced lovely weather here at Mama’s Empty Nest – temperatures in the mid-to-high 70’s and abundant sunshine. It served to revive both my spirit and the landscape outside our country home.
Flowers awakened from their long winter naps and burst forth in color. Yellow happy daffodils, white daffodils with bright sunshiny centers, pretty in pink and purple hyacinths, ruby red tulips and deep purple grape hyacinths greeted me with their coats of color and their endearing scents. Just a couple days of warmth and sunshine coaxed our rhododendron bushes around our front porch to spontaneously burst into an array of color as well.
Our yard is a good two and one half acres of green. Interspersed here and there a few trees stand, but they are still fairly small, so the lawn is a wide expanse of grass. (Okay, I’ll be honest – there are lots of weeds in there too, but hey, they’re green!) With the outrageous amounts of rain we’ve endured this spring, our lawn had grown quite high, so it was time for the first mowing of the season.
Middle daughter and I set forth for an afternoon on the wedding plan quest. When we left the house, hubby was maneuvering the trusty John Deere lawn tractor back and forth as he mowed the acreage.
Upon our arrival back home, it was dusk. The sun was setting and providing its usual spectacular view from our surroundings. We stepped out of daughter’s car and that’s when it engulfed us.
The aroma. Oh, so lovely. There’s something about the scent of freshly mowed grass that just makes you audibly sigh and know that all is right with the world. I believe it is just another of God’s gifts to us.
That aroma heightens the senses, brightens the mood and brings yester-year memories of spring days and summer evenings to mind. Both daughter and I actually voiced “ahh” simultaneously as the scent entered our noses.
And then we heard the sounds that also accompany spring and summer here in the country. The peepers.
Spring peepers, a chorus of tiny little frogs who live in the marsh behind our property, serenade us with their peeping songs.
These little guys usher spring into our area and we hear them throughout the summer as well. They remind me of tiny trumpeters heralding the season’s change.
We just stood there in the driveway for a couple of minutes absorbing the scent and sound, so refreshing after a frustrating day in search of wedding gowns.
We looked at each other and smiled. And I remarked to my daughter, one of the dearest loves of my life, “You can’t experience this in the city.”
As I recall the bliss of that moment in my book of Opportunity, I’m so grateful for my home in the country on this fourth page of Chapter Five.
It’s May Day, but I didn’t find a basket of flowers on my doorstep. Instead I found a very wet porch!
As a young girl, I always fancied dancing and singing around a May Pole on May 1st but never actually did that. I do remember filling a paper basket, which I made at school, with flowers from my mother’s garden and placing it on my neighbor’s porch one year. It was one of those sweet, simple spring traditions of yesteryear that I wonder if children even learn about today.
Spring time always makes me hope for the best. And that reminds me of this quote I once read by Susan J. Bissonette: ”An optimist is the human personification of spring.”
Come May, the optimist in me always expects days filled with cheerful sunshine and warmth, but reality often delivers the exact opposite especially this early in the month. And today is no exception since it is yet another chilly, rainy day with more of the same forecast according to the Weather Channel.
I’m employed by a non-profit organization and every year in early May we hold a walk-a-thon type fundraiser in our hometown riverfront park. Today we held it in the rain just like we did last year and again we were forced to switch to Plan B.
Plan A is to begin the walk in our park’s amphitheater, which this year is still covered with flooding river water. Plan B is to hold registration at a local church, then walk in the rain. We always appreciate the loyal few who help us, rain or shine.
Spring has proven fickle again this year yielding lovely, balmy weather one day followed up with a chilly, dreary one.
Yesterday I took advantage of sunshine and nicer temperatures to stroll around our country home yard and notice signs that indeed spring is here, even if the weather isn’t exactly cooperating.
Let me share a few of the tell-tale signs I observed. Suddenly, our lawn has sprouted bursts of yellow everywhere.
Dandelions! These hearty plants are weeds and most people try to eradicate them from their expanse of green, but out here in the country, that’s a battle we can’t win.
Dandelion seeds lift up into the air and twirl and sway through the breeze and land in our yard continually.
But there’s something about these happy-faced spots of perky color that makes me smile. They remind me of my childhood when each spring I would pick dandelion nosegays to bring inside and present to my mother. Mom would place them in a glass of water as if they were the most prized flowers in her garden, and she had plenty of those.
Next on my walk, I spied little glimpses of purple and as I leaned over closer to the ground, I saw one of my favorite tiny flowers – violets. Another reminder of childhood. My mother taught me a different name for these delicate little flowers; she called them johnny jump-ups.
I can only assume it’s because quite suddenly they seem to jump up out of the ground. They don’t last long, so you have to really search for them. In my yard, there are only a few areas where they appear.
“When April steps aside for May,
Like diamonds all the rain-drops glisten;
Fresh violets open every day:
To some new bird each hour we listen.” ~ Lucy Larcom
Soon one of the bushes in our back yard will produce one of my favorite scents – lilac. I absolutely go giddy with glee when blooms on the lilac bush open up and I can cut huge bouquets of those delicate lavender delights to brighten up my kitchen table. Their fragrance is so sweet, I can hardly wait to smell them.
Mark Twain once said, “It’s spring fever…. You don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
Yes, I definitely have spring fever on this first page in Chapter 5 of my Opportunity book, but unlike Twain, I know what I want – sunshine and warmer temperatures! Plus I’m overly anxious for those beautiful May flowers that April showers promise.
And that thought reminds me – because my blog was recently Freshly Pressed by WordPress, I’ve gained some new subscribers.
I am excited to have you join me here at Mama’s Empty Nest! My prayer is you will find something here to reflect upon, or something to inspire you, or maybe just cause you to smile.
So welcome to you, new readers! “You are as welcome as the flowers in May.” ~ Charles Macklin
Hubby and I used to live in “Tornado Alley” first in Oklahoma for a few years and then several more residing in the Midwest.
In both areas, tornado watches and warnings are common occurrences in the spring. Middle daughter is still a little fearful of violent storms because of it.
So the recent rash of relentless twisters that ripped their way through the south brought those memories back to me today. Our oldest daughter lives in one of the states hardest hit by a tornado resulting in much destruction and the loss of human life.
A twister touched down in her city about 10 miles from her. Hubby and I were relieved to get her text message last evening announcing she and her roommate were safe and sound in their apartment, without power and for a while no cell phone service, but safe!
What a relief! But yet this morning, I still felt the edge of anxiety and concern over her well-being and again was reassured when I spoke with her by phone at her place of work.
She had witnessed some debris raining from the sky into her apartment complex parking lot and she and roomie headed to the inside bathroom (the safest place in your home during a tornado if you have no basement or storm cellar) wearing their bike helmets. They are smart young women.
So many others were not as fortunate. As hubby and I perused photos online of the devastation and read about the death toll, tears welled up in my eyes. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones and also to those who lost their homes and everything in it.
I can imagine their grief because I’ve witnessed first-hand the damage ferocious tornadoes wreak and those sights I saw are permanently etched into my mind – sights I will never forget as long as I live.
When hubby and I were a young married couple, we lived in Oklahoma where he served in the military. There I actually experienced a twister’s fury. Since then, I often can feel the air’s ripeness for a tornado. There’s something about the air density, pressure and stillness I sense just before a fierce funnel cloud twirls through.
I don’t know all the scientific data about that, but I can tell when a tornado watch is looming. I often amazed friends in the Midwest when I would suddenly announce, “We’re going to have a tornado watch/warning today” and sure enough, the TV weatherman would verify what I felt.
But back to my Oklahoma story – I had no clue what a tornado’s fury was like back then. That strange day in April, I drove home from work through a wild thunder/hail storm and my car radio warned me there were funnel clouds sighted and evidently touching down in the Texas town across the border. And they were headed in our direction.
I scurried into our apartment, scared and worried because hubby was scheduled for all night duty at the military post and would not be home that night. Turning on the TV, I learned the funnel cloud definitely was heading towards our end of town. Our apartment faced south – from where the tornado was coming!
I opened the windows a little because I had heard that windows implode inward on you from the force of the twister. And when the TV person shouted to take cover immediately, I found sanctuary in my walk-in closet. Our cat refused to stay with me, instead she perched on the window sill facing south.
In a flash, she jumped off the sill and darted into the closet with me. And that’s when I heard it – a deafening roar like I have never heard before. The windows shook and I buried my head in a pile of laundry believing my life was coming to an end. I prayed that God might spare me or if I died my body would be found quickly in the rubble and my husband and parents would be comforted.
And then there was silence. I was afraid to move, so I just sat in the closet, clinging to my cat and waited. How long I do not remember. But I was safe and others were not. TV news reported that three people lost their lives in our area, but the real devastation was in the Texas town where three funnel clouds joined together to form a monster tornado which cut a mile wide path many miles long.
I worked at a daily newspaper, not as a ‘hard news’ reporter but one of the ‘fluff’ people –reporting human interest type stories. The next day at work, I was shocked when a tenant at my complex, who had been brave enough (or stupid) to take a picture of the twister, brought it to the paper in hopes of getting it printed.
The funnel cloud had sped across the wheat field adjacent to our apartment dropping debris as it went. My home was in its direct path and that photo showed the tornado lifting up into the air over our apartment building (and over me).
Later, I traveled with my fellow news reporters and photographers to the Texas town demolished by the furious twister. It looked like a war zone. I cried the entire time in that car full of reporters who were shocked into silence as we drove through areas where emergency workers allowed us.
Where once tree-lined housing subdivisions had been, there was nothing left. Nothing. In some areas, a lonely toilet stood but absolutely nothing else. In other areas, mangled, twisted hunks of unidentifiable materials – pieces of cars, trucks, buildings – were strewn everywhere.
I read hand written signs, fashioned out of a piece of wall or whatever was left and propped up where once a home stood, declaring, “We’re ok!” “Lost everything, but alive!” “Please call [number] if you’ve seen [person’s name].
I have never, ever forgotten neither those sights nor the grief I felt that day for all those people who lost everything.
We take so much for granted and in one moment, it can all be blown away with the wind. Today is Page 28, Chapter 4, in my book of Opportunity and I pray fervently for those who suffered such loss because of this violent weather system. And I am full of gratitude that my loved one was kept safe from its fierce wrath.
P.S. For those of you who would like to help tornado victims in need, I highly recommend donating to Samaritan’s Purse – http://www.samaritanspurse.org
© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com
No time for deep thinking today or even putting my thoughts (such as they are) into words. It’s just another dreary, bleary, depressing day of constant rain, fog and general dullness. Spring is slow in arriving in our area this year. So I’m trying to think happy thoughts of the season by viewing some of my old photos from springs gone by.
Hope they brighten your day as well!
I hope you won’t be offended but I really want to tell you to “go fly a kite!”
No, really, I mean it. And this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.
Usually when someone tells you to go fly a kite, he means “get away from me.”
Leave me alone! Scram! Get outta here! Go jump in the lake! Beat it! Or my personal favorite – go smack yourself silly!
So naturally, I don’t mean any of that because I love my readers, really I do. I’d love it more if you commented and let me know you were here reading and enjoying (or not) my blog, but regardless, I feel the love when I view my site statistics.
So I literally mean go fly a kite! All month if you’d like. You see, I turned over a new chapter and page in that book of Opportunity this month, Chapter 4, Page 1. It’s April and this month just so happens to be “Go Fly a Kite Month.” Really!
I wouldn’t make these things up. As it turns out, kites have always fascinated me. When I was a little girl, every spring I tried making my own kites out of paper, sticks and string. I’d run outside on a windy day and expect my kite to suddenly take flight and soar like a bird. And it never did!
Apparently, I didn’t understand the aerodynamics of kites because my homemade ones wouldn’t lift off the ground. No matter how hard I ran around the yard holding onto my string, the kite just followed me on the ground like a lost puppy.
My mother would sometimes let me purchase a store-bought kite from the five and dime store. I felt certain those flimsy pieces of plastic cut into the perfect diamond shape would take wing like a bird. Alas, those kites never were inspired to much flight either.
After a while, I abandoned kite flying and left it to the grumpy old dad who finally realized he was missing out on fun with his children in the movie, Mary Poppins. I watched that film in the movie theater way back in 1964, when it was released, and wondered why my kites never flew like those in the movie. Probably because I didn’t have a nanny named Mary Poppins! Heck, I never even had a nanny!
Years later, I became a mother with three children and on a whim one day, I bought a kite for them. One gusty day in April, we assembled the kite and attempted to fly it in our Midwestern back yard.
I watched my children flit around the lawn, and I was still skeptical that a kite would actually fly. Suddenly, it ascended into the sky and swerved and darted with each blast of air as my kids giggled with delight and I marveled. I think I was as happy about it as they were!
Fast forward a couple of years. Our family had recently moved to the Pacific Northwest and we drove to the coast (FYI for you eastern folks, we go to the “beach” here but in the Northwest, it’s the “coast.”) for a day of sightseeing and fun.
Driving through one of the coastal towns, we decided to stop and venture out onto the beach where a kite-flying contest was in progress. Our eyes just about bugged out of their sockets. What a sight! There were huge kites, box kites, kites of every description floating and flying, soaring and swerving.
Eventually on one of our coastal trips, we visited a kite shop and bought ourselves a modest kite. That kite fluttered and glided in ocean breezes in both Oregon and Washington giving us much delight as we took turns guiding it. Even after we moved back to the home land, our youngest sometimes flew our kite. But then he grew up and the kite lost its appeal.
You know what? I’m pretty sure that somewhere out in the garage, that kite sits on a shelf unused and dusty. You already know I live in a wind tunnel. [If you missed that post, read stirred-but-not-shaken]
So good grief, there’s plenty of gusty breezes at my house. I’m thinking it might just be a good day for flying a kite! Oh wait, it’s snowing outside and that’s no April Fool’s. Oh well, I have the entire month of April to go fly a kite. Want to join me?
The sun shines brightly, but oh, the bitterly cold wind nips at my ears and bites through my jacket making me shiver and pull up my hood!
Frost sparkled across our yard this morning when, shortly after awakening, I peered out my window for a “look see” at the day.
That frost zapped my lovely yellow, purple and white crocuses and now they’ve wilted and seem to have the saddest look to them.
Today I would have to agree. We’re very close to flipping over the calendar to April, but at 20 degrees this morning, it still feels like winter.
The scene outside my kitchen window unfolds in all its brownness. Drab, depressing, lifeless brown.
I step out onto my deck to snap a few photos, pull my winter jacket tight around me and brace for the cold even though I can feel the contradictory warmth of the sun shining on my face.
And that’s when I notice not all is clothed in hues of tan and russet. Shades of green make themselves visible in my yard.
There’s a slow transition working its way through our lawn as the grass commences to green up.
I glance at the flower bed adjacent to the deck. The plants that burst forth into bold color throughout spring and summer and long into fall now appear as dead as can be.
But then I observe bright spots of greenery poking through the cold, hard ground. The plants are slowly coming back to life.
Out front, I mourn the loss of the crocuses but note the daffodils have pushed their way above the surface and there….my favorite hyacinths are gradually beginning their journey upwards.
Color, glorious color, patiently waits to unveil itself and I also must be patient to wait for it. Because spring will come. The flock of red-breasted robins scouring the yard for tasty worms tells me so. One season does follow another and spring’s time is near.
“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~ Virgil A. Kraft
Every year around this time in March we have a stone-pickin’ party at our house.
You read that correctly, a stone-pickin’ party. It’s not much of a celebration and it usually involves just hubby and me because as you know, Mama’s nest is empty.
You urban dwellers or suburbanites, sometimes I envy your paved driveways. Out here in the country, we possess a 150-foot long unpaved drive consisting of limestone gravel.
Winter’s snows require hubby to plow it open with our trusty John Deere lawn tractor or if the snow’s really deep, the monstrous snow blower comes roaring out of its corner in the garage. Either way, gravel gets shoved or flung wildly into the yard willy-nilly.
So every spring, we pick up stones, literally. When the weather warms up, passers-by will notice us raking stones back into our driveway or hunkered down picking them out of the grass and depositing them back onto the drive. After a winter of many deep snows, we’ve even utilized the shop-vac to suck up the gravel. Yeah, we vacuum our yard. This all seems crazy I know, but there are good practical reasons for doing so:
1. Before mowing season begins, the yard must be free of stones. One violent fling of a stone thrown from the tractor can cause some serious damage to person, place or thing near-by.
2. It costs a small fortune for truckloads of new gravel every couple of years for such a long driveway, so we need to replace every stone we can find. I told you I was frugal! Plus paving a driveway as long as ours would also cost an arm and leg!
3. Thinly spread gravel creates a muddy driveway, so filling in the bare spots is a must. So you might say we “Leave no stone unturned” as the Greek playwright Euripides wrote.
Even though stone pickin’ causes my back and knees to complain and sometimes I do yearn for a nice, smooth paved drive, I actually enjoy the task.
Stone-pickin’ time means spring is here and I have a great excuse to go outside, soak in the warm sunshine, inhale some fresh air and enjoy the ever-present breeze. (Ok, wind tunnel in our case!)
Kneeling on gardening knee pads plucking stones offers a chance to bask in a springy day, get a smidge of much-needed exercise and do a little thinking without distractions. I like viewing the ground close-up, noticing the sturdy stalks of grass changing from brown to green, eyeing up little three-leaved clovers, getting my hands a little muddy.
Yesterday in near 70 degree temperatures, hubby and I commenced stone-pickin’. Humming as I worked, I realized those hunks of gravel were providing me some good fodder for my blog.
William Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It, “And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
I certainly am not a preacher so I won’t declare I found a sermon in those stones I handled. But God did provide scripture to consider and food for thought while I was stone pickin’.
“…now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ ” ~ 1 Peter 2:3-6 (New International Version)
Just as my driveway needs that solid foundation of limestone, my life needs a strong foundation as well. For me that means it is built on the Living Stone, Christ Jesus.
In my mind, He is the boulder, the huge solid rock, the cornerstone, on which believers stand. (Ephesians 2:19-20)
We are the smaller pebbles but as living stones, when His Spirit is active and present in us, we are a work in progress. I think as we build our lives on Christ, He also builds us as He molds and shapes us spiritually into His likeness.
And just as the stones from my driveway get out of line when they’re flung into my yard, we allow the world to lead us astray. When we focus on Jesus, He brings us back in line.
Yesterday as I picked up pieces of broken stone and placed them back where they belong, it reminded me what God does for us. He picks up the broken pieces of our lives and sets us on the right path to Him, but only when we choose to believe in Him.
So in my book of Opportunity today, on this 19th page in Chapter 3, I have to ask you – how’s your driveway? Is it built on the Rock? Do you have a firm foundation laid on the One way – Jesus Christ – to God the Father? Or is your path taking you in another direction?
If you want to know more, all you have to do is pick up God’s Word, the Bible, and start reading. And leave no stone unturned.
All day long yesterday I just could not stop singing and I wasn’t even singing Irish songs!
Instead this Beatles tune firmly entrenched itself in my mind and I either sang or hummed it all day:
“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right.
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here,
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right.
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces,
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here,
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right.
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting,
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear,
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right.
It’s all right.”
Gloriously sunny skies greeted me upon awakening and good old Mr. Sun hung around the entire day warming up our little 2 ½ acres significantly – bringing me hope that spring really IS on its way! My mood altered and I just felt good – rejuvenated.
Signs of new life bubbled up to the surface at our country house just in the last couple of days. Perky yellow and purple crocuses bloomed and more are popping up out of the soil today. The day lilies are also poking their little heads up after a long winter’s nap.
With the time change last weekend, it is staying lighter each evening as our days get longer. And I love sunshine! I love it so much I had to shoot the picture at the top of this post showing you the beautiful sunset from my back deck last evening.
I’m feeling hopeful in Chapter 3, Page 18, of my Opportunity even though the sun’s playing hide and seek with me today resulting in overcast skies again. But I AM hopeful spring is just around the corner. And I say it’s all right.
“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~ Proverb from Guinea