He is risen indeed

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“We are adopted into God’s family through the resurrection of Christ from the dead in which he paid all our obligations to sin, the law, and the devil, in whose family we once lived. Our old status lies in his tomb. A new status is ours through his resurrection.” ~  Sinclair B. Ferguson

May God bless you with the truth of Jesus Christ’s resurrection this day and the promise that He will come again.

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

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Good Friday – That Powerful Name

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The power of the cross.

The power in a name.

The name of Jesus.

What a beautiful name it is. 

“God proved His love on the cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’” ~ Billy Graham

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do this and remember

blogDSCN8862(It’s Holy Week for those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ. As I prepare to celebrate the most glorious day in Christianity, Resurrection Sunday or Easter, as it is more commonly known, I decided to re-post some of my blog entries and images from this week in years past. The following is from 2012.)

Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter,  always leaves me at a loss for words.

To remember that my Savior entered Jerusalem triumphantly to the cheers of a crowd shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”  yet just a few days later, Jesus hung on a cross dying to jeers of the crowd simply astonishes me beyond words.

After observing the Passover meal with His disciples and trying to prepare them for what He knew was to come, Jesus established what believers in Christ call the Last Supper. Today, many of us will, in a sense, re-create the Last Supper by partaking of communion with breaking of bread and drinking from the cup as He and His disciples did. 

We will then remember that Jesus, God’s very own Son, prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In just a short amount of time, Jesus subsequently was betrayed, arrested, deserted and denied, tried and condemned, beaten, scourged, and mocked. And nailed to a cross, crucified to death.

To consider that He bore the sins of the entire world on His shoulders willingly, knowing the pain and agony He would bear and to realize He loved me (and you) enough to offer Himself as the sacrificial Lamb takes both my breath and my words away.

My own words seem so inadequate to express what my Savior did for us.  Often when words fail me, pictures and music suffice.  So as this Easter weekend unfolds, I’ll post music, photos, or videos that are meaningful to me and capture the waves of emotion I feel.

And all because of this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: Be Found

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If you are a seasoned Christian, you know this story, but you may need to be reminded of it. If you don’t call yourself a believer in Christ, this story is for you.

Jesus, the Messiah, the very Son of God, lived and walked on this earth in human form. As He traveled teaching those who would listen about His Father in heaven, he often told parables (simple stories He used to illustrate a spiritual lesson).  Those stories can be found in the Holy Bible in what is called the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

One of those parables is about the lost sheep as found in Luke 15:3-7 – Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

What does it mean? The message is simple. God seeks us out when we are lost in sin. His heart wants us to be found, to be rescued, to be renewed. And the only way to do that is through accepting the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, the very One sent to earth to die for all of our sins on that ol’ rugged cross.

We need a loving, personal Savior. We need to understand how very much God deeply loves us. How valuable we are to Him. And that He will go to the ends of the earth – far and wide – just to bring us back home to Him like the shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep out of 99.

And when the lost is found and returned to the fold, there is rejoicing.

That’s why Jesus is often called the Good Shepherd. He came to seek the lost. Maybe that is you. No matter what kind of life you have led, He longs to gather you into His arms and rejoice over you. You just have to let Him find you.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” ~ Augustine

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: dancing with daffodils

blogIMG_7336Some spring-like weather boosts my spirit and makes my heart and mind do a little happy dance.

It appears Spring has finally descended on my neck of the woods, the one where Ol’ Man Winter hung on by his icy claws until the bitter end.

Sunshine. Warmer temperatures. Blue skies. And with them, green grass begins to emerge adding a touch of color to the far-too-long-barren landscape around my home.  

Then….pop, pop, pop. The daffodils and heavenly-scented hyacinths awaken from their slumber providing spots of yellow, purple, and pink. 

It’s Spring! And I feel like dancing with the daffodils as they sway in the breeze. As I dance, I spy it – the first dandelion of the season. Its sunny yellow face doesn’t disappoint me even though some consider dandy a weed. No, instead it adds to the pleasure I feel now as I bid adieu to winter and welcome spring.

Those perky daffodils remind me of the well-known poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,  written by William Wordsworth (English poet, 1770-1850):

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” ~ Luther Burbank

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Here we go again

 

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

It was a bit of a déjà vu or, at the very least, that feeling of coming around full circle.

On a sunny but cool Saturday morning this past weekend, Papa and I were settled in our folding camp-style chairs on the sidelines cheering a youngster on the soccer field just like we’ve done countless times before in the past.

But this time, Mama and Papa were gray-haired and years older. This time, we weren’t cheering our own youngsters running up and down the length of the playing field.  This time we were encouraging our four-year-old granddaughter during her very first ever soccer game.

Incredulously, our Little One began her first soccer season this spring, learning the sport that her own mommy loved and played continuously through her school years and into college.

Incredulously, our Little One looked so big with her hair pulled back in a ponytail and clad in her YMCA soccer shirt, shorts, shin guards, knee-high socks, and cleats, carrying her water bottle.  Where did the time go???

Wasn’t it just yesterday, she was a newborn baby and those feet now sporting soccer cleats were tiny little barefoot ones? Wasn’t it just yesterday she was learning to say “ba, ba, ball” instead of kicking around a bright pink soccer ball of her own?

And wasn’t it just yesterday this Mama was the one hauling her own children to sports practices, games, and meets? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was a “soccer Mom”?  And a baseball Mom, a cross country Mom, a track Mom, a volleyball Mom, and a basketball Mom?

And now I’m a “soccer Nana”.  You blink and no longer are you parents of young athletes playing their favorite sports. Now you are doting grandparents reliving those days gone by as you watch the grands growing up.

Now in these empty nest years as grandparents, we’re smiling, cheering, clapping, and laughing while trying to capture moments with our cell phone cameras at the antics of four and five year olds as they attempt to maneuver the ball into the net. 

We have always jokingly called soccer at this level “bunch ball” as the players bunch around the ball trying to kick it. And bunch they did even if our Little One was a little hesitant to immerse herself into the fray.

She did make her mommy, Nana and PaPa proud as she managed to kick the ball (in the right direction too!) and jump back up without crying when she got knocked down.

As this empty nest Nana recalls sweet memories from years past of all of those activities of our own children when they were young, I’ll be eagerly making new ones with the grandchildren.

So for the next few weeks if you need me on a Saturday morning, you can find me on the sidelines of the soccer field. Here we go again!

“As I grew older I thought the best part of my life was over…then I was handed my first grandchild and realized the best part of my life had just begun.” ~ unknown

(Note: Neither my grandchild nor her teammates are depicted in the photo above. In order to protect their identities, I chose not to publish a photo of them, but use a stock photo from the WordPress free photo library instead.)

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When the keyboard is silent

blogIMG_7029.jpgWhen you’ve been blogging for a long time, you start to notice certain patterns. It doesn’t mean you like the patterns that emerge, it just means you begin to understand them, acknowledge them, and if necessary, work to change them.

So here’s my dilemma. After blogging for over 10 years total (sporadically for a couple of years on another site and consistently for almost 9 years on this WordPress blog), I’ve definitely noticed a pattern in my writing.

I get bogged down at certain times of the year and experience a bit of writer’s block. One of those times is in late winter, especially if it drags on too long. I’m not that great of an analyst, but I’m chalking my lack of writing inspiration up to a bit of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but different from the usual.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is defined this way: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

As usual, I’m not like most people. I don’t feel the typical SAD symptoms in fall. I LOVE fall! Fall invigorates me and I’m one happy camper throughout the season. And when winter arrives, I’m all for it. I love the colder temperatures, hauling out the winter coat, scarves, gloves, and boots. Fresh snowfalls make me happy.

But as winter trudges on into February and March, that’s when I think SAD kicks in. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I become depressed, but I definitely become weather weary and that hinders my creative juices for writing.

The dreary skies, the browns, grays, and blacks of the landscape void of color, the lack of sunshine here in my neck of the woods, all of those things contribute to my overall feeling of BLAH.

And when I feel blah, I don’t feel like writing. Creativity sinks into the doldrums. There seems to be nothing awe-inspiring or word-inspiring to capture with my camera. That also hampers my blogging ideas because, as a very visual person, so often a picture is what fuels my fire to write.

It’s been an ongoing problem. I usually post three times a week here at Mama’s Empty Nest. But all throughout the month of March, I only managed to post twice a week and often only actually writing once while using a photo and quotation for those Words for Wednesdays, which made for a grand total of nine posts. Sad or SAD, I don’t know which.

Whatever it is, I don’t like it. The calendar page just turned over to April. And April Fool’s on us – the temperature took a nose dive and it snowed on April 1st. 

I sat staring at my computer screen and keyboard willing something – ANYTHING – to come to my mind to put into words. I even changed the desktop photo to something colorful to try to jump-start some words.

I sat. I stared. I sat. I stared. Nothing.

I grabbed my trusty and well-worn quotes notebook and shuffled through the pages upon pages and the loose notes stuffed in there.

And the best I could come up with was this post, spurred on by the quotation you will find at the end of this rant. ACK!

I’m hopeful though. As I sit writing this, the sun is shining on my front porch. I can spy blue skies and fluffy white clouds through the office window. Surely spring is coming.

And hopefully, inspiration will bounce back into my brain fogged over by too many dreary days, setting my fingers to fly across this keyboard, and produce something worthwhile to read.

Send some sunshine and color my way this April, will you?

“This is how you do it. You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman, English author

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Living in a vertigo world

blogDSCN7187(2)Have you ever felt like you’re going around in circles? Figuratively and literally?

If you’ve ever suffered through a bout of vertigo you will know what I mean. Vertigo is no fun. I’ve only experienced that condition a couple of times in my life but whew, it felt terrible. And I hope that kind of dizziness never visits me again!

One morning several years ago, I awakened, turned my head to look at my alarm clock, and suddenly the room was spinning wildly.

It brought reality to an old 60’s song that is stuck in my memory bank – “Dizzy, I’m so dizzy my head is spinning, like a whirlpool it never ends…”

That time, the only relief from the whirling dervish in my head was to close my eyes and keep them closed. That spinning sensation finally subsided and boy, was I ever thankful.

The other time vertigo descended upon me, I had just stood up from the shampoo bowl at a hair salon. While my hair stylist performed her magic on my hair, I had to keep my eyes closed because I was so dizzy. 

And the dizzier I became, the more my stomach churned from the effect. When I looked into the mirror, I thought I was turning into the Incredible Hulk because my face had a greenish tint to it.

Fortunately, my sister was with me and she drove me home because there was no way I could right my oft-kilter world that morning. Again, I was so relieved when it ended.

A few years ago, a family member dealt with vertigo often. Her doctor believed it came from her frequent air travel to Europe for her job, something to do with the crystals in your ears becoming dislodged if I remember correctly – positional vertigo I think.

I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to feel dizzy when you are so far from home.  It’s difficult enough when you are in familiar surroundings.

This world we live in – this planet called earth – spins on its axis as it revolves around the sun. Aren’t we fortunate that we don’t feel that twirling every day, hour by hour?

And yet, sometimes doesn’t it feel like our world IS spinning out of control? Disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, famines. All caused by nature, sending those affected by it into a whirlwind of tragedy.

And then there are the man-made calamities that cause us to believe human beings are out of control. Wars, crime, racism, and sheer inhumanity and hatred towards our fellow mankind. Just listening to the news or reading about it causes our heads to spin.

Even political rhetoric has spun so far out of control in today’s world.  And they don’t call those public relations aides to politicians “spin doctors” for nothing. Everything seems off-balance, like equilibrium is lost, and we are caught in a whirling vortex that is taking us down a road we don’t want to venture into. (At least in my opinion.)

When I’m overcome by this dizziness, when I feel like I’m inside a twirling out-of-control existence, caught in a spiral of despair at the disasters, injustices, evil, violence, and hatred that permeates this world, I reach out to the only One who can stop this kind of vertigo.

I reach out to the Three-in-One: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I hold onto my guidebook for life, God’s Holy Word written in my Bible, for direction.

I hang onto the hand of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who keeps me balanced in the middle of the twirling chaos.

I pray to the Father who also is the Blessed Controller of ALL things and my all things.

And I ask Him to send His Holy Spirit into my very being to keep me upright amidst the swirling whirlpool of a seemingly out of control world.

He is faithful to deliver me from spiritual vertigo – both my own and the world’s.

“As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes.” ~ Mel Brooks

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Heading back instead of forward

blog103Sometimes the road before you takes you back instead of forward.

Last Saturday, Papa and I awakened early in our empty nest. We crawled out of bed at o-dark thirty (as my once-an-Army-man husband says) to shower, get dressed, and grab a quick breakfast.

Actually it was 5 am and we planned to leave our house around 6:30 because we had a three+ hour long trip to take to attend a morning gathering in a town over 175 miles away from ours.

One of the last surviving aunts on my husband’s mother’s side of the family passed away last week at the age of 87. We decided to attend her memorial service, not only to pay our respects for her and her family, but also because we knew it would be a family reunion of sorts.

We would have the opportunity to visit with my husband’s cousins who we haven’t seen in 20 years. Some of them live close by the town so far from ours, but some of them reside even farther away in other states, even on the West Coast. Papa’s older brother, a Texan now for over 30 years, was flying in for the service as well and we looked forward to seeing him.

We traveled by highway eastward as the sun arose and once we crossed the mountains, crystal blue skies and sunshine greeted us making our drive very pleasant.

Once we arrived at our destination, the air still nipped at us with a bite of chilliness but the greetings from family warmed us with smiles and hugs.

Reconnecting with cousins and my husband’s brother truly was a joy. We shared updates about grown children and cell phone photos of grandchildren.

We listened to stories of days gone by and memories of childhoods when that side of my husband’s family would all gather together at their “cottage” at a church campground and spend summer vacations together on the Jersey shore.

Quite some time ago, I tackled the plethora of old photos that had belonged to my in-laws. I managed my way through them all, deciding which ones we wanted to keep and placed them into photo albums.

But there were so many old photos of aunts and uncles and older cousins as youngsters that we decided should be given to those family members who were still alive.  Since Papa knew the family histories better than I did, he sorted those by families, bundled them up, and inserted them into large envelopes.

They traveled with us on our journey and as we all gathered at a lovely restaurant for lunch, Papa passed the envelopes out. Smiles spread on all those faces as they viewed those photos from yesteryear and passed them around for others to see.  Gracious thanks rained over us like blessings.

As the time ended and we all dispersed, Papa and I hugged everyone goodbye with promises of coming back in late summer for a family reunion. His brother had some time to kill before heading back to the airport, so we stayed and visited with him before we gave more hugs goodbye.

But before we left to travel back home, we meandered around this quaint town where so many of my husband’s relatives had lived. We drove past their former homes and Papa recalled many fond childhood memories.

We wandered down country roads and found the church campground where so much family history took place and marveled that the “cottage” the family once owned still stood.

The roads that led us to this wonderful time of family took us back – back to the days when families weren’t so spread apart by distance, back to a simpler time, back to childhood memories, and reminisces of those who are no longer among us.

Our day was a bit bittersweet. As we headed back westward to our home, I thought about the fact that we are now becoming the older generation of this family.

And how it saddens me to know that our children – all young adults and some reaching middle age now – will not have this experience of reconnecting with this side of the family. Yes, they are second or third cousins or however you classify the offspring of first cousins, but they don’t really know one another because distance separates us all.

Family stories and histories will probably become lost in time. Unless some of us try to preserve them. That’s what this day of traveling back showed me.

Sometimes we need to let the road before us take us back.

“So much of who we are is where we have been.” ~ William Langewiesche

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com