You can run but you can’t hide

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How often have we done it ourselves? Done something that we truly would not want anyone else to know about? We’re all guilty.

Recently, I was reminded of that by a little occurrence here in Mama’s Empty Nest. This Nana watches my not-quite-three-year-old granddaughter when her mama is working. I was busy doing laundry while she was playing, but suddenly I realized she had become very quiet.

Silence and a toddler. That usually means trouble.

I called out to her and asked what she was doing. She gave me her new standard answer. “No thing.”

No thing to her means nothing. Uh-huh. As I unobtrusively stepped out of the laundry room and walked soundlessly to where I thought she was playing, I caught her ripping pages out of a book, one after another.

I startled her when I called her name and again inquired, “What are you doing?”

She grabbed the book, torn pages and all, and scrambling to put them behind her back, ran away from me and tried to hide.

“Don’t see me, Nana!” she cried.

But it was too late. I’d already seen her and even though she was trying to hide not only the damage she had done but herself as well, I’d already observed her wrong-doing. And she knew it.

Typical child you might say. Trying to hide a naughty act. But don’t we adults do the same thing?

We hide what we’ve done wrong. We try to cover up our mistakes, our misconduct, our transgressions, our bad behavior, whatever you want to call it. 

Or perhaps we try to put the blame on someone else. Not just because we don’t want to get caught, but also because we don’t want others to think we’re capable of the offense.

I know of someone who did exactly that – not only hid the offense, but lied and covered up a reprehensible thing the person had done and continued to do.  No doubt, you also could name someone you know who committed a wrong and tried to hide it.

When I heard about the disgraceful act this person had committed, one thought came immediately to my mind.

What you do in secret will always be brought to light.

And it was. The person’s dirty little secret was exposed in a dramatic way. It happens every day – just listen to the news. Many a career has ended because of a person’s indiscretions.

Shameful actions are usually performed in secret. In the dark, so to speak. And the more time you spend hiding things in the dark, the more you start to believe there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing.

But hiding away those actions isn’t going to work. You can run, but you can’t hide forever. Sooner or later, you’re going to get found out. And you will face the consequences.  

I recently read this quote by American actor Steve Kazee:  “When you start hiding things away, that’s when the darkness creeps up. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

I agree with his philosophy, but I’d amend the last part. It’s true sunlight is probably a good disinfectant, but I believe Son-Light is the best way to banish darkness.  

The words Jesus, the Son of God, the Light of the world, spoke in the New Testament in Luke 8:16-17 comes to my mind.

 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.  For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Granted, Jesus was speaking about the light of truth in God’s Word, that salvation comes from belief in Christ. Those of us who are believers should be sharing that light openly by both our actions and words so that others can see that light and also be saved.

But He also warned us in the rest of the passage that the light of truth is what exposes sin. 

Far too easily we fall into the darkness of this world – into greediness, self-centeredness, bitterness, anger, hatred, lies and deceits, and a multitude of other wrongdoings that ensnare any one of us humans. Why do people fall into this darkness?

“Men loved the darkness rather than the light for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed.” ~ Jesus Christ in John 3:19-20

God’s truth exposes the sinful hearts we all have. Even the littlest of us. And unfortunately, we tend to hide from God’s light rather than allow ourselves and our tainted hearts to be exposed.

But we can’t hide away indefinitely. What we do in private, what we hide behind our backs and try to conceal from others’ eyes eventually comes out in a very public way. I envision it like the snake that comes back to bite us. We must face the consequences of our actions, ask forgiveness, and make amends for our wrongdoings.

Sometimes we who profess with our words to be believers in Christ are no better than the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. We pretend to be righteous. We act like we’re pious and sinless when in fact, we can allow our hearts to harbor wickedness just as much as the next guy. We act “Christian” in public, but we hide our true selves in secret.

“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. They just pretend to be godly. Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftop,” Jesus told us in Matthew 12:1-3.

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer not to have my transgressions shouted from the rooftop.

It’s a new year. It’s a good time to examine my heart, bring any hidden secrets into light, turn away from those wrong-doings, seek forgiveness, and begin anew. Maybe you feel the need to do the same. 

The only way I know to do so is to put my faith and trust in the Son-Light. His name is Jesus.

“Hateful to me as are the gates of hell, is he who, hiding one thing in his heart, utters another.” ~ Homer

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Weathering my patience

blogIMG_2414I find it ironic that this week’s new photo challenge theme is ‘weathered.’

In these parts, weather is all people have been talking about, it seems. Everywhere I go I hear folks discussing and complaining about how cold it is or how snowy or how bad the road conditions are.

And you know what I want to say to them? Buck up. You live in the northeastern United States where we have four distinct seasons. Count ‘em. Four. Spring, summer, fall, AND winter.

It’s winter time. It’s going to be cold. It’s going to snow in these here parts.  Deal with it, people.

January is almost always frigidly cold in this neck of the woods. Yes, we’ve been in the lower part of the outdoor thermometer gauge for a couple of weeks.

Again, must I repeat it? It’s winter time. It gets cold here in the winter. And it snows. And it can be freezing. And sometimes, the temperature sits down there near zero degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Someone in my family just told me people from our area were whining about the weather on Facebook and saying they don’t ever remember it being this cold. Well, folks, then you haven’t lived very long or you suffer from some serious memory loss. 

(Disclaimer: For all you southern folks and those who live in balmy temperatures year-round, I’m not talking about you. You’re excused. I get it. You’re not accustomed to winter weather. I understand that and I’m sorry you’re experiencing cold temperatures that you’re not prepared for.) 

I grew up right here in this little spot of my native state.  I was born here and I lived in this area until the Papa of this empty nest walked down a church aisle with me after we vowed our I do’s to one another and he waltzed me out of this region for the next 20 years. But I remember many, many winters as a child, teenager, and young adult that were downright bitter cold with not just inches of snow but feet.

And in the almost 20 years that we’ve been back in this area, we’ve experienced plenty of big snowfalls and several winters that were….well….wintry.

Yes, there have been some mild winters, but honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised when Ol’ Man Winter arrives with a blustery blast of cold weather, snowy horizons, and icy conditions.

It’s what he does.

And really, Weather Channel, since when did we need to name snowfalls? And call them snow storms? Why do you insist upon scaring people about an upcoming snow so much that they have to run right out to the store to stock up on milk, bread, and toilet paper??

So my selection for this ‘weathered’ photo theme is the weather outside my house. It has looked like this for the last couple of weeks. And it’s looked like this for many winters before this one. Even though it’s supposed to warm up today, it will probably get cold again and snow will cover the ground once more.

Because it’s winter.

If I sound a bit cranky, it’s not the winter season that’s weathering my patience, it’s people and their reactions to it.  Just like the old saying, “This too shall pass.”

“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.” ~ Frank Lane

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Come grow with me

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She’ll grow into it.

Growth. Isn’t that a good word to focus upon for a brand new year?

Growth involves change. Growth generates transformation. And with a pristine new year lying ahead of us, maybe it’s time to embrace some growth and step outside that limiting box of life that has become your comfort zone.

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett

I’ve been contemplating direction for this blog since January 1 rolled around. Do I want to change it? Do I want to grow my readership? And must I head down a different path to do so?

Should I embrace that word growth?

For over a decade I worked for a Christian non-profit organization. At each year’s end, we gathered together – staff and volunteers – for a lovely Christmas luncheon.

Great food and even better fellowship were just a couple of aspects we looked forward to, but one activity we participated in at the party caused our hearts to soar.

Prior to the gathering, our executive director would spend much time in prayer asking God to give her ‘words’ for us for the upcoming new year. Words that would become our focus for the new year to come.

Sometimes the words were contemplative, sometimes the words seemed odd.  Every staff member and volunteer in attendance would pluck a folded up small piece of paper from a basket we passed around the room. Written on those notes were the words.

But before we chose the new ones, we shared aloud what our past year’s word had been and how we saw it manifest in our lives. Sometimes there were tears as we shared, sometimes laughter, often wonderment.

One year, I distinctly remember receiving the word growth, but I honestly cannot recall if that word displayed any special meaning to me that year.  Had I embraced the word? I guess not.

I must have grown in some fashion that year because I believe we continue to grow in certain aspects of our lives just as surely as we age one year after another. I must have faced challenges to bring about growth, but whatever they were, they’ve faded away into the inconsequential file.

I do recall other words that I received over the years when I was a part of that ministry because they were particularly meaningful to me, but some I don’t remember at all.

Choosing a new word to focus life upon for the new year has become a ‘thing’ in certain circles, but I no longer participate in that endeavor. For me, it’s kind of gone the way of making resolutions, a practice I abandoned many years ago.

I don’t or won’t keep those pledges anyway, so why bother? It’s the same with choosing a focus word. Nine times out of 10, I’ll forget about my focus word or just won’t incorporate it into my daily life.  

All of this comes to mind today because of a weekly photo challenge theme  – growth

Maybe I’m just more of a go with the flow kind of person than I ever thought. Or maybe I’m just not disciplined enough. Possibly I’m just a tad rebellious and the thought of sticking to one word for the year makes me want to just say no.

Perhaps that’s really growth. Realizing who you are and accepting it. Going your own way instead of following the crowd.

And for now, that’s what I intend to do with Mama’s Empty Nest. Go my own way. Grow in my writing and not worry about growing my followers list. Keep doing what I’ve been doing because it works for me and it seems to encourage my readers.

That’s why I write. To be an encourager. To share what works for me and hope it helps someone else. To make connections with those who read my blog.  To write what inspiration God places on my heart.

And in the meantime, I’m betting I will experience growth.

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” ~ Eric Butterworth

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Looking backward to go forward

blogIMG_2507(2)I know. It’s a new year. 2018 dawned on us all yesterday. But today, on this brand new day in a brand new year, I’m looking backward.

Why? I believe you can’t move forward until you understand where you’ve been before. And that might entail relegating the past to where it belongs – the past.

There’s something motivating about turning over a new leaf. Or beginning a new beginning. And to do so, I need to examine yesterday before launching into today or tomorrow.

Supposedly Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” I’ve searched for validation of that quote as being attributed to Einstein but it seems questionable he actually wrote or said this.

But it’s still good advice. And until I can decide what direction this blog will take for 2018, I’ve elected to look back over 2017. Maybe I can learn something from what I’ve written this past year.

I can remember joy from certain events I celebrated or learn a lesson from those things that caused me distress.

It’s worth an effort. So here’s a look back at my blogging in 2017 before I proceed with 2018.

I’m really not much of a mathematician (I have a degree in English after all), but I do like the orderly fashion of numbers and the pictures those figures present.

As I’ve said before, I’m a visual person so I kind of like statistics displayed on charts. Hence, in an accounting kind of procedure, I added up how many blog posts I published here last year.

134 posts. Out of 356 days of the year, I only blogged roughly 38% of the year. Hmm…that doesn’t sound so good, does it? I remember all too well that I definitely experienced some dry spells this past year in which writing inspiration just wasn’t firing up any connections.

Well, I rationalized to myself after figuring those numbers on my calculator, I choose to only post three times per week, not every day. So let’s amend that figure…3 times/week multiplied by 52 weeks/year.  That equals 156. So I posted 134 times out of 156 opportunities. Okay, a better figure comes from that – about 86%. Doesn’t that sound like I accomplished a lot?

Next, I calculated how many times I posted on particular topics because I truly wanted a good grasp on what this blog is about. The results were thought-provoking but not entirely unpredictable.

More than half the time I posted, I either shared a photograph I’d taken for Wordless Wednesday or I was stirred to write an accompanying post to a photo I believed embraced a photo challenge theme declared by Word Press each week.

So what does this tell me? I’m very inspired by pictures – both viewing them and taking them. And photographic images spark words to fly into my brain and land on the computer screen for me to share with my readers.  Yep, I’m visual that way.

The next most posted topic here at Mama’s Empty Nest for 2017 happened to be instances where I shared my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ or I blogged about miscellaneous topics ranging from thankfulness to experiences I encountered to life in general.

Again no surprises there. My faith is vital to me, so it naturally is a part of my life I want to share with others. For the other topics, well, I just love to tell a good story.

Falling into the third most written about category were posts about my family or my husband or our marriage.  Not unexpected. My family means the world to me and with many of them strewn from here to there, not living in close proximity to me, our times together are precious.

What topic closed out the year’s statistics? Friendship. I do often blog about the friendships I hold dear both in real life and in my blogging circles.

So where does all of this introspection of Mama’s Empty Nest leave me? Shall I continue the same pattern for this brand new year? Or do I shake it up a little, challenge myself, and take a leap into a different direction?

The verdict is still out on that one.

“New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.” ~ Alex Morritt

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Out of the ordinary

blogIMG_2491(2)It’s Monday. And I don’t usually post here at Mama’s Empty Nest on Mondays.

But I ran across a quote last week that fits the bill today.

“Do something out of the ordinary. It not only creates a memory, it sets a standard.” ~ unknown source

So I’m doing something a little out of the ordinary by posting on a Monday. But this isn’t just any old Monday.

Today is the very first Monday in this brand new year of 2018.

2018!! My mind marvels that we are 18 years into this millennia. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were crossing our fingers that the Y2K bug wasn’t going to create havoc as predicted? And it turned out to be much ado about nothing. (Forgive me, William Shakespeare.)

Today is New Year’s Day. We said goodbye to the old year 2017 last night and we welcome in the new year with great expectations. (Forgive me, Charles Dickens.)

Today is a milestone. A day when many folks begin New Year’s resolutions. Or a diet. Or decide to make some kind of change in their lives.

Empty spaces on my new 2018 calendar remind me that I have the opportunity to live out that quote above. Do something out of the ordinary. Create memories. Set standards.

Empty spaces on this blog remind me that I have an entire year of writing to plan. I find myself contemplating how to proceed, what direction to take for this blog in this new year.  I do want to create lovely memories for folks to read about. And at the same time, I want to set standards for my blog as well.

So do I just continue doing what I’ve been doing? Writing as inspiration comes to me? Participating in weekly photo challenges so I can continue sharing what I enjoy – amateur photography? Lining up photos for Wordless Wednesday?

Should I select a theme for the year or concentrate on a special word that I’ve chosen as ‘my word’ for the year?

Perhaps I should reopen my “book of opportunity” that I wrote about back in 2011? Click to read Chapter One back then.

Or should I choose something completely out of the ordinary?

Maybe you, dear readers, can help me decide. I’d love to hear your feedback on what you’d like to see on this blog and even what you don’t want to see, so please leave a comment giving me your thoughts. 

In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you a happy and blessed New Year. And I leave you today, this first Monday of 2018, with an old Irish blessing (even though I’m not Irish, I love those blessings).

May the blessing of light be upon you,
Light on the outside, 
Light on the inside.

With God’s sunlight shining on you, 
May your heart glow with warmth, 
Like a turf fire 
that welcomes friends and strangers alike.

May the light of the Lord shine from your eyes,
Like a candle in the window, 
Welcoming the weary traveler.

Happy New Year from Mama’s Empty Nest! 

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Cup of kindness

blogIMG_47632New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Another year will soon be upon us and many of us may be singing this line:

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne.

Christmas has come and gone.  The empty nest is emptied out again and things are settled down and quiet once more.

The real pine tree adorned with lights and sentimental ornaments is looking pretty droopy. Soon all the festive finery that spruced up our home will be taken down, dismantled, boxed up, and secured away again until next year.

But I’m hoping one thing remains. Something that actually surprised me during the Christmas season. 

Good cheer and random acts of kindness. 

Let me say right up front that I do not enjoy any kind of shopping once Black Friday descends upon us.

The crowds, the noise, the hard-to-find parking spots, the long lines at the check-out, the crowds….oh wait, I already said that. The crowds. The older I get, the less I can tolerate crowded places. And rude people.

And let’s face it. It just seems to go hand in hand when everyone and his brother and fourteenth cousin twice removed is out there shopping for the perfect Christmas gifts.

This year, I was forced to do some Christmas shopping…well…during the Christmas shopping season because I didn’t complete it as I usually do before Thanksgiving. And I must confess, I actually dreaded going.

But I put my happy face on, grabbed Papa by the hand on one of his days off (luckily a week day), and off we went to brave the crowds in the shopping trenches, I mean centers.

Well. I was surprised. I expected crowds, rudeness, and nasty people. I found none of those. The stores were not crammed full of irritable shoppers which was a plus, matter of fact they weren’t crammed with people at all.

Score one for me.

Then I actually found people to be pleasant and congenial. Shocker, I know!

Score two.

And even kind. Folks held the doors open for one another. A lady checking out ahead of us in one store turned to me, held out a 20% discount coupon, and asked me if I wanted it.

“Are you sure?” I asked incredulously. She nodded yes, so I accepted the coupon and thanked her most kindly and wished her a Merry Christmas.

She responded in kind and said, “Every little bit helps.”

Score three.

So I guess that little slogan I read this past week on the tag of a Salada tea bag is on to something.

“Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life,” that tag proclaimed.

I’ll take that cup of Christmas kindness any time. Let’s hope it lasts all through the coming year.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” ~Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com