Spring’s bubbling up all over

blogIMG_7864 (2)

“And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (English poet, 1792-1822)

It’s finally here. My second favorite season. Spring.

I fling wide open the door and grass so green it personifies the Crayola crayon that bears its name greets me. Happy sunshine-faced yellow dandelions (I know, they’re weeds, but to me they are a welcome sign of spring) profusely dot our 2.25 acre yard.

It’s spring! Perennials push their way up to the surface preparing to explode into colorful blooms.  I step outside and breathe in deeply the welcoming aroma of freshly cut grass and clean, pure spring breezes. Before I know it, the tantalizing scent of blossoming peonies will permeate the air as well.

It’s spring! And I suddenly emerge from my self-induced cocoon of winter hibernation with a burst of energy like a newborn foal. Okay, maybe I’m not as limber and frisky as one, but I do experience a surge of get-up-and-go.

I believe when the Almighty created this world He knew we would need a season of rest and dormancy like winter and following it, a season of vitality and a fresh new start to life once more. And I’m so grateful for it.

Last weekend, my spring really kicked into high gear. Even though the temperature was still a mite chilly, armed with a kneeling pad, trowels, shovel, and rake, I eagerly donned a sweatshirt and some gardening gloves and jaunted outside to attack some chores that desperately needed attention. 

It turned out to be perfect weather for digging up the overgrown perennial flower bed, thinning out some plants, clipping away the old and hauling it to the compost pile in order to welcome in the new. 

The sun warmed my back as our daughter and Little One, our granddaughter, ventured out to help me accomplish my goal.

Spring! Little One can’t wait to play outside every day. And spring is ever joyful when sharing it with Little One.

Even though there is much on the outside to-do list and projects galore around the empty nest, as the days grow longer and the sunshine becomes more abundant, there’s plenty of time to channel my new-found energy into play time with her too.

To watch bubbles soar and float through the air as she blows them. To cheer her on as she races her ride-on toys up and down the sidewalk. To watch her let sand sift through her tiny fingers in the sandbox.

To listen to her squeal of delight over touching an earthworm Nana just found in the dirt. To help her pick the tiny wild violets, known to us as johnny-jump-ups, springing up amidst the blades of grass.

Each moment creates a fresh, new experience to remember and that bubbles over in my heart. Just like spring.

“I am so fresh in soul and spirit that life gushes and bubbles around me in a thousand springs.” ~ Robert Schumann

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Family blessings

blogIMG_9695I find myself writing frequently about family because it’s a topic near to my heart. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the close-knit family I have and it grieves my heart for those who don’t have that blessing.

During the almost 40 years of marriage to the Papa of this empty nest, we lived over half of those years away from our parents and siblings.  So those times we actually were able to spend with our families created special memories we hold dear.

Because of that, we tried our hardest to create a sense of family togetherness with our three children.  We made it a point to attend events together as a family whether it be a Little League baseball game or a musical choir concert.

Papa and I attempted to instill in our three that family means supporting and loving one another no matter what because so much of the time, it was just the five of us alone. Our children’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins all lived too far away from us to be part of our daily lives.

Long distance phone calls were the only means we had to stay in touch back then, along with the occasional trips back “home” or when family came to visit us.

So gatherings with the extended family became precious because they were so few.

And now, it seems that history is repeating itself. Two of our adult children and their spouses live several hours away from Papa and me. Again, time spent together is such a blessing – truly something memories are made of – especially now that we have two adorable grandchildren in our family.

This past Easter weekend, Papa and I loaded up the car, left the empty nest, and headed west to our son and daughter-in-law’s lovely home to celebrate the holiday.  Our oldest daughter and son-in-law traveled a couple hours from their home to join us as well. Unfortunately, our other daughter and first little grandchild couldn’t be there with us and their presence was sorely missed.

But we were grateful for the time most of us got to spend together this Easter.

blogIMG_9692

How many people does it take to make a baby smile??

Loving and cuddling our newest grandbaby, snapping family photos, recalling funny family stories, taking a walk as a family to the nearby park, the guys’ skeet shooting outing, sitting together on the deck one evening just conversing, preparing and cooking meals in the kitchen together, attending church to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. 

Those were the highlights of the weekend.  Those moments don’t sound exciting but they fill my heart with such bliss.

And make me feel so very blessed. Isn’t that what a family should be? A true blessing. This family gathering was my special Easter blessing. 

“What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering.” ~ Robert Brault

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

He is risen indeed

blogIMG_7600

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” ~ Mark 16:5-7

Wishing you a blessed Resurrection Sunday from Mama’s Empty Nest.

Be blessed, dear readers. 

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

On a hill far away

blogIMG_7581 (3)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. ~ 1 Peter 2:24

When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. ~ Acts 13:29

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:2

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do this

blogDSCN8857

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Stirring up the fire

blogIMG_1818I usually avoid writing about controversial subjects.

My reason is valid, at least to me. I have plenty of opinions on polemic issues, believe me. But that’s just it. They are my opinions and I’m free to have them as you are free to have yours.  However, my intention for this blog is not to polarize people but to be a source of encouragement and inspiration to all, not just those who share my opinions or beliefs.

No doubt if I start posting my thoughts on contentious matters though, some readers will not agree with my opinion and will comment to state their case for their beliefs. Having a difference of opinion is not the issue. What a dull world it would be if we all agreed all the time.

What bothers me most is what I see happening on social media way too much.  You know, when verbal arguments escalate and become downright mean and nasty. And I see it occur on lots of blog posts too. 

I don’t want to initiate a war of words with my readers. Instead, my desire is that Mama’s Empty Nest be a respite from that part of our world where folks spread malice and vitriol at the drop of a comment.

Yet this post may cause a bit of contention, probably only in certain circles, but you know what? Sometimes you just have to speak your mind, or at least from your heart, even when you know there will be opposition to it. 

I find it ironic that just as the idea for this blog post began to take shape in my mind, I noticed an email encouraging me to write about this word – controversy.

So here goes.

You know what kills any kind of growth, whether it be in business, politics, organizations, or even in a church? Something that not only slays the momentum of moving forward but slams shut the coffin of death and nails it down tight?

Saying, “But we’ve always done it this way.”

Frankly, I’m tired of hearing that saying. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m weary of attempts to encourage those who play it safe in cozy comfort zones to embrace something different that might just initiate a change for something better or more meaningful. But we’ve always done it this way.

I bristle when I hear how someone seeking to promote change instead hits the wall of tradition made up of nay-sayers. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m disappointed in those who can’t – or won’t – deviate from the tried-and-true (yet old and tired) way of doing things. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m frustrated by those who are so deep in a rut of sameness, they couldn’t find their way out with a bulldozer. But we’ve always done it this way.

Call me crazy, but I like change. I find the same old, same old incredibly dull and well….too much the same. And I really find it so in a house of worship.

Why balk at changes that may promote spiritual growth?

Now, let me get one thing straight. I am not talking about changing the message of the Gospel.  I’m not talking about changing the words God gave us in His Word. No, we must never change that because God and His Word are perfect and unchanging.

God was, is, and always will be. He is constant and enduring and so is His message of salvation.

But we should not be stale. We can’t grow if we don’t change. And if we don’t change, we won’t grow spiritually. If we don’t progress on our spiritual journey, we are only suckling down the milk of God’s Word without ever getting to the meat of it. We stay in a spiritual state of infancy – spiritual babies instead of mature believers.

“Change is one of the ingredients of Christianity. If people could not change, the gospel would be absolutely meaningless…The fact that people can change is the only hope they have.” ~ A.W. Tozer (from Rut, Rot, or Revival)

When believers are spiritually stagnant, we can’t experience the passionate life of being a Jesus follower. And how ever can we be in tune to what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do if we’re mired down in the humdrum?

The same old same old.  But we’ve always done it this way. I think God expects us to boldly step out of our ruts and embrace a vibrant faith, one so exhilarating that is catches on like wild fire.

How can people sit in their pews in their places of worship with an attitude of platitude? How can we sing the same old songs with the same old lack of enthusiasm? Where is our joy in worshiping the King of Kings, Lord of Lords?

How can we stick like superglue to traditions, which really don’t impact our salvation or our spiritual growth one iota, just because we’ve always done it that way?

“Somebody once said that man is made of dust and dust tends to settle. People tend to settle down and do the same things year in and year out, slowing going around in a circle.  When this gets into religion, it is deadly and evil.” ~ A.W. Tozer (from Rut, Rot, or Revival)

I don’t understand that kind of ‘religion’ and I guess I never will. I’m one of those people who says I don’t have religion, instead I have faith. And my faith is not in a set of traditions, a certain denomination, a social club, or a certain way of doing things just because it’s always been done before.

My faith is in a flesh and blood Savior who lived on the earth as one of us, died on a cross for me, rose from the grave, and gave me a priceless gift – salvation.

A Savior who expects me to be on fire for Him. To share His message of salvation to others. To express with joy and awe how much I love Him, trust Him, and am grateful for Him and share that with everyone I know – and even those I don’t.

I believe my Savior doesn’t want me to get bogged down in trivial matters that mean nothing when it comes to promoting His kingdom and glorifying Him.  My Savior, the miracle of Easter, expects me to be a soul on fire for Him.

Just like the lyrics to this song by the Christian group, Third Day. Listen here: Soul on Fire.

A soul on fire doesn’t care if we sing praises to God accompanied by an organ, a worship band, or a CD, but if a variation in music is what brings people to Him, then we better change and sing with joy.

A soul on fire doesn’t mind if Sunday morning worship or Bible study during the week takes longer than an hour because a soul on fire wants to spend as much time as possible worshiping the Lord, listening to His messages of truth, learning more about the God we serve, and applying that message to everyday life.   

A soul on fire doesn’t get mired down in trivial matters like which version of the Bible should be read, or what color the sanctuary’s new carpet should be, or where or when communion should be held, or ….whatever.

Because a soul on fire wants more than earthly matters. A soul on fire wants more of Jesus. More of His Word. And more spiritual growth until the day that soul departs this earth.

And if the majority of a church are not souls on fire, the slowly dying embers will not keep the church alive. You might as well pound in the nails to that coffin. Eventually, the doors will close on a dead church.

It’s never too late to save it.

“A church can be unified in one of two ways. You can freeze together, as the Church of the Frozen Chosen; or you can melt together with the fire of the Holy Spirit.” ~ John Hagee

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Forest or trees?

blogIMG_8321Sometimes you really can’t see the forest for the trees.

One of the many truly amazing sights our family encountered while living in the Pacific Northwest was the dense, thick forests there. 

Moving from the mostly plains of the Midwest to that area of the country, I remember well how awestruck I was the first time I saw the size of the massive trees there.

After stepping off the plane on my first trip to the Pacific Northwest for a house-hunting mission, I vividly recall marveling at the colossal Douglas fir trees we saw as Papa and I ventured around the area in search of our new home.  

Once we moved there and settled in, we took our children on many excursions to explore our new domicile and again I marveled at the density of the forests.

As a native northeasterner, forests were nothing new to me. In my childhood, my family spent a lot of time in our modest “camp” near one of the national forest areas of our home state. So I’d seen thick forests. But not like the giants of the Pacific Northwest or the immense Redwoods of Northern California, which we also visited.

I wish now that I had taken the time to photograph those dense forests we visited, but after looking through all of my pictures taken with old-school film (long before digital cameras), I don’t have a shot that I feel does enough justice for this week’s photo challenge – dense.   

So the more recent photo above (a stand of bamboo at a zoo last summer) will have to do, although it is nothing like the thickness of the Pacific Northwest forests. This picture does show density, but not like the almost impenetrable forests ensconced in my memory. Those trees simply take your breath away.

But it’s true you can’t really see the forest for the trees. The trees capture your attention in such a way that you might miss a less commanding sight right there in the forest.

Sometimes things are so dense that you just can’t see your way through, just like those thick, concentrated forests. And often I feel like I’m just as dense.

Like when I just can’t see a solution to a problem even when it’s staring me in the face. Is it really because I’m dumber than a box of rocks? Or is just a case of stubbornness? Not wanting to face the problem or the solution? Maybe even pride?

I’m not sure but I know one thing for certain. When I can’t see the forest for the trees, I need to stop looking at the trees, no matter how glorious they may seem. The answer may just be on the forest floor right in front of me.

“Pride works frequently under a dense mask, and will often assume the garb of humility.”  ~ Adam Clarke (1760 or 1762-1832), British theologian and Biblical scholar

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com