Throwback Thursday: battle

blogDSCN9649In just a couple of months, I’ll be celebrating an anniversary of sorts.  Ten years of writing in my little cyberspace world, Mama’s Empty Nest.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared some throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog and do so again today.

Some things have changed dramatically since I first starting blogging back in 2010 and some aspects of life have not changed a bit. This post from August 2011 details something that is constant in my life and has been even more prevalent during this uncertain time as we endure the covid-19 pandemic. Let’s hope soon we can say, “the battle is over.”

This morning, I witnessed a battle scene.

The scene was so striking, it grabbed my attention and I could not take my eyes from it.   A dramatically painted picture  etched itself into my mind and didn’t leave my thoughts all day.

Summer time delivers many bright, sunny days of hot weather here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  In the last couple of days, some blessed rain blew in, shoving the high humidity out, resulting in more delightful temperatures and a sweet, refreshing breeze.

On my trek to work today,  I couldn’t stop staring at the sky.   As I buzzed down the highway, I noticed the fast-moving hedge of dark rain clouds streaking across the vista.   I continued watching them because they were speeding along like a freight train.

And that’s when I noticed that in one direction bits of fluffiness in the form of cottony clouds dotted blue sky and sunlight streamed through that part of the atmosphere.  But the sinister looking freight train was rolling through rapidly from the other direction!  The dark clouds, in their faster than a speeding bullet mode, collided and clashed with the bright side of the sky swiftly overtaking it  – simply annihilating it in the battle.

Those ominous clouds actually devoured the fleecy ones.   Darkness swallowed up the sunlight right before my eyes.   That scene unfolding in front of me reminded me about the stark reality of the world we live in. 

Evil – the dark side, if you want to quote Star Wars – spreads its foul fingers wherever it goes trying to consume and ultimately destroy goodness or light. And that happens each and every day here in our world, not just in movie-land.

As a believer in Christ, I tend to view life in spiritual ways, especially when God paints such a vivid picture in my surroundings as He did this morning.   Witnessing those rain clouds slamming into sunshine reminded me that we need to be on guard, ever watchful for evil which can so easily overtake us.  But even more than that, we must be vigilant in prayer.

1 Peter 5:7-9  ~ “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Just yesterday, I was gifted with an opportunity to enjoy a short chat with a lovely fellow Christian who I haven’t seen for some time.  She’s enduring a difficult trial right now, yet amid her own heavy load, she inquired about my family and shared that she had been praying for us. Her face lit up with a smile and praise when I revealed how her prayers had been answered.

Conviction washed over me as I realized that I have not been as diligent in prayer for this dear one as she has been for me.  She disclosed to me that during this storm she feels such a strong sense of peace which she’s certain is from God. 

Then she stated something that didn’t surprise me at all. Several well-meaning people in her circle of friends told her she wasn’t being positive enough because she has accepted the difficulty laid before her and is meeting it with complete faith and trust in the God who has saved her.

People don’t get that, she told me.  They think she’s not “thinking positive” when she tells them she will meet whatever outcome God has in store for her and they don’t understand or like what she says.  As a realist myself, I totally get it.

There are certain events we encounter in life that just happen.   You can try to use the ‘power of positive thinking’ until the cows come home, but it might not change your circumstances.

That doesn’t mean you must stop asking God for intervention, or healing, or a miracle, or whatever may help the situation.  But you also should beseech Him for the strength to endure, the ability to completely trust His will for you, and the peace that passes all understanding.

That’s faith.

The power of positive thinking alone can’t move the rain clouds away or stop them from coming (or banish a virus) just as it can’t protect me from evil touching my life.  

The power of prayer to the God who is in control of the universe is a different story.  

And the power of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, is the real source of the peace and strength needed to endure life as it comes.

This morning as I began my 9th page in Chapter 8 in my life’s book entitled Opportunity,  I’m certain my heavenly Father demonstrated these thoughts for me as I watched that war of clouds in the morning sky. © 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

“Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer IS the battle.” ~ Oswald Chambers.

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: cars, cars, cars

blogIMG_1274I grew up enjoying cars and car rides. My father traveled daily by car around his multi-county territory for his job as a newspaper circulation supervisor. No company cars provided, he used our family vehicle which tallied a lot of miles on our car in a year. So Dad almost always traded our car in for a sparkling new one every two years.

It was always exhilarating when Dad arrived home from work one day driving a brand new car up our driveway. Immediately, we would hop in for a ride in the new one and I so vividly remember that “new car smell.”

Dad liked cars and he even kept a list of all the cars he ever owned which we found shortly after he passed away at the age of 90. That list was fairly long!

Papa and I certainly don’t adhere to the two-year trade-in routine that my father did during his working career. Instead, we hang on to our vehicles as long as possible – even 10-12 years. But no other purchases quite beat the excitement of obtaining a new car or a new to you car for me. 

The car I enjoyed owning the most was a new 1981 Audi 5000 that hubby and I purchased when he was still a military officer. Boy, that car was fun to drive! Now, I’m just happy with our all-wheel drive Subaru Foresters that easily transport us up a wind-blown, drifted shut, snowy driveway every winter.

Yesterday I posted about a classic car show, our brother-in-law, Papa, and I attended in Arizona when we were visiting there.

It was a fun blast from the past and just in case you enjoy a walk down memory lane like I do, I’m posting some more photos I took there.

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And last but not least, one of my personal favorites – traveling with God’s Holy Word in the front seat.

blogIMG_1230“People who, like me, grew up in the 1950s and 1960s after World War II, grew up with cars.” ~ Martin Winterkorn (former Volkswagen AG Chairman)

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Back in time

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Car from the year I was born

I’m a child of the 1950’s, born in that decade. And even though I was just a toddler and young child, there are so many aspects of that time I recall.

My sisters were older than me and became teenagers in that decade. so popular music resounded throughout our house, especially after my oldest sister received a record player one Christmas. Name a song made popular in the 1950’s and I probably can sing some of the lyrics. 

Another memory I vividly recall from the 50’s was when my father drove home a brand new 1958 two-tone purple/lavender automobile. 

After that we enjoyed singing “It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater,” a song released that same year by Sheb Wooley simply entitled, The Purple People Eater. Click here to listen to that old song.

As a little girl, I loved both that song and that purple car and they are entrenched in my memory like so many  other items of that era. Fairly often Papa and I stumble upon an antique shop with various offerings from the 1950’s and early 60’s and I will remark, “Oh, I remember this” and “Wow, we had one of these.”

During our last Arizona trip before the covid-19 panic went berserk, Papa and I attended a classic car show with our brother-in-law, who graduated from high school in 1958. Held at a racetrack on the outskirts of their city, plenty of folks, mostly of an older generation, attended the event.

As we walked the lap around the race track, taking our time so as not to tire out our brother-in-law, we thoroughly enjoyed viewing the various assortment of vehicles – both old and new.  But the ones that drew my attention most were from the 1950’s and 60’s – those I remember best.

blogfuzzydiceSome of the iconic accoutrements that car owners added to their restored models truly made us smile and chuckle too.  Plenty of fuzzy dice hung from rear view mirrors but some took a step even further back in time to help viewers recall the days of drive-in restaurants and when you gathered the family on summer evenings, piled into the station wagon, and headed to the drive-in theater.

blogIMG_1227blogIMG_1257A day full of nostalgia outside in beautiful Arizona sunshine proved to be an experience I won’t soon forget and will store back in those memory banks of my mind – back with the remembrances of the 1950’s and early 60’s.

“Go back. Go back in time. Everyone’s life is a chain of memories. In each chain there are shining links, happenings where this element of wonder…was very strong. Why don’t you reach out and relive some of those memories? If you work at it, remembering the wonder can revive your ability to live life as it should be lived.”  ~ Arthur Gordon Webster

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: the fine art of watering

blogDSCN7726Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve been sharing throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog on Thursdays for the last few weeks and here is yet another one of those from June 2011. 

Whatever the subject, whether it be politics or issues surrounding the covid-19 pandemic, angry, irate words are flying around not just on social media but in person.

Anger doesn’t solve much in my book, except make your stress and your blood pressure rise. It certainly doesn’t give life to your body or spirit and angry arguing doesn’t change someone’s opinion just because you think it should. My hope is that this old post of mine causes us all to stop and think of the impact of our words before we spout off in rage or exasperation or just because we don’t agree. 

I’ve been known to have a sharp tongue. Don’t sit there at your computer with your mouth hanging agape while you read this. I’m not always the epitome of sweetness and light, just ask my family.

Oh, as a stranger or acquaintance, you might glimpse a flash of my temper if you really, really make me angry.  I can deliver a strong tongue lashing, but in most cases, I try to curb my words and my fury.

It’s the right thing to do and most days I strive so hard to do the right thing, even though often I fail. Quite some time ago, I had one heck of a day, you know the kind where everything seems cattywampus, nothing works the way it should, people irritate you, and circumstances beyond your control frustrate you.  And it was cold and rainy to boot. That kind of day.

Feeling totally exasperated, I pulled into a gas station to fill my car. But after a couple unsuccessful tries, the pump just would not work. I looked at the attendant, warm and dry inside the station, but he just stared out the window at me, exhibiting no signs of coming to my aid. Finally, I gestured to him (the call button didn’t seem to work either!) and he slowly meandered up to me with this insightful news:

“This pump isn’t working,” he said nonchalantly.  “You’ll have to pull around to another pump.”

Grrr.  Anger fueled by my frustrating day welled up quickly as I noticed the line of cars waiting for the other pumps. I glared at Mr. Helpful. He just shrugged his shoulders and that was the breaking point.

“Well, if you KNEW this pump wasn’t working, don’t you THINK it might have been a good idea to PUT A SIGN ON IT SAYING SO?!!!”  I yelled. I whipped my irate words, each one getting louder and accelerating up a notch in angry tone, at him.  Again he shrugged and started walking away.

“Thanks for nothing!”  I mumbled as I climbed back into my car and he ambled into the station. I pulled my car around to the long line at the opposite island and waited…and waited…and fumed…and  fumed. If my gas gauge hadn’t been so close to E, I would have driven away.

And while I waited, I sensed the Lord telling me I was being utterly ridiculous. What purpose did my anger serve? Was it righteous anger? No. Would my wrath right a wrong? Absolutely not. All it really did was raise my blood pressure and provide fodder for the gas attendant’s tales of how nasty and irate customers can be.

But I was still hopping mad.

Finally, I nosed my car beside another gas pump, zipped my credit card angrily through the slot and started filling my car. As I felt fuel coursing through the hose into my tank, I also could feel anger pumping out of me as well. I felt like God’s presence was siphoning wrath right out of me. 

In its place came strong conviction as I realized my venomous words had just given every person who calls themselves a believer in Christ Jesus a bad rap. What kind of picture of a Christian did I paint? Not a very pretty one.

Cold and damp, I started to climb back into my car, but stopped, closed my car door and walked into the gas station where – you guessed it – there was a long line of customers waiting to pay their bills. I forced myself to stay patient and when my turn at the cashier arrived, I told her I needed to speak to the young man behind her.

She glanced at him as if to say, “Now what did you do?” He winced, walked up to the counter and looked at me like a beaten puppy.  I suppose he expected yet another tongue lashing.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I want to apologize for yelling at you out there.  I realize it’s not your fault the pump isn’t working and the station is so busy.  So..,” I paused, “I’m sorry.”

His eyes widened in disbelief. His shocked co-worker looked warily at me then at him.  “Okay,” he said.  And that was that.

No illuminating beam streamed down from heaven.  No harp music swelled loudly on the store’s speaker system. No one exclaimed, “Wow, you’re a great person!” 

Nothing miraculous occurred except within my heart because I knew – I knew – I had done the right thing.  I did what Jesus called me to do, to apologize when I spewed forth unrighteous anger on someone.

Please don’t think I’m writing this to get any kind of accolades because I don’t deserve them.  I’ve experienced way too many times when I have succumbed to most unrighteous things.

Instead I share my experience because I believe God asks me to relate the change I felt in my heart that day – the joy and peace that flooded over me because I obeyed my Savior and Lord, acknowledged my wrong,  and doled out a little grace to someone else. Grace, not selfish anger, is what He grants to me every day, whether I deserve it or not.

Unfortunately, my impatience and frustration often get the best of me.  I’m ashamed to admit in the past, my wicked tongue lashed out harsh words at those I love most – not strangers at a gas station – my husband and children.

But as I’ve matured both in age and spirit, I’ve allowed God to continue to mold me and change my ways. The still, small voice of the Spirit helps me curb my tongue, use self-control and stop myself before I react in angry words…most of the time.  See, I’m still a work in progress.

Just the other day, I positioned myself on my front porch swing and read in the book of Proverbs again, noticing how many verses pertaining to wisely using words and controlling the tongue are underlined in my Bible.  At some point in my past, I had drawn a star next to this verse:

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~ Proverbs 12:18.

Obviously, God kept trying to teach me a lesson I’ve needed to learn for many years.

While reading, I observed the ruby red petunias nesting in our porch boxes needed water. As I grabbed the watering can to pour fresh water on those flowers, an idea sprouted in my mind –  I am just like that watering can!  What pours from me when I am shaken a little or tipped?

When I pour forth words of blessing and encouragement on others,  it’s just like cooling, refreshing water flowing out onto my flowers, which will be nourished and grow abundantly.  But if words of contention or anger flow out of my ‘watering can’ over my loved ones and even those I find difficult to love, it’s like dousing flowers with poison.   They will shrivel up and die.

My words have the power to be poisonous or encouraging and I have the capability to choose which they will be.  Nourishing others and cultivating kindness is the right thing to do, even when I’m feeling impatient or frustrated.

In my sixth chapter of my yearly book of Opportunity, on this 28th page, and every day, I know that’s what God calls me to do and I’m going to try my best.  

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do I get angry? Of course I do. But if I see something on social media that I don’t agree with, I don’t fire off an angry retort. Instead, I just scroll on by. Virtual shouting matches don’t solve a thing I think. My hope is that we all pause, reflect, and just agree to disagree without vitriol. Offer a bit of kindness and grace instead.

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
~ Ambrose Bierce

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: More Kicks

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If you ever plan to motor west,

Travel my way, take the highway that is best.

Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six. 

(Lyrics to Get Your Kicks on Route 66 by Bobby Troup)

The second time proved to be just as relaxing and entertaining as the first.

When Papa and I journeyed to Arizona for the first time two years ago, we flew into Las Vegas, Nevada where our southwestern family members picked us up and drove us south to their home.

The rest of our time spent sightseeing we traveled by car (road trips are the best in my book!) and one day we enjoyed a scenic drive on old Route 66 to Oatman.

Just a couple of months ago on our second trip to Arizona, we flew into Phoenix, secured a rental car, and explored parts of the state on road trips. Yesterday, I posted about our leisurely and pleasant drive on old Route 66 again, only this time from Williams to Kingman.

Today I’m sharing some of my photos of the stops we made and sights we viewed along the way when we were getting our kicks on Route 66.

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“The freedom of the open road is seductive, serendipitous and absolutely liberating.” ~ Aaron Lauritsen

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Give me a road trip any day

blogIMG_1126Now that we’re opening up a bit and not sheltering in place by staying at home, I’m looking forward to more road trips in the near future. I used to love to fly, but in the last few years, I enjoy it less and less.

Obviously, you can get from point A to point B much more quickly by boarding a jet but for me, there’s just something way more enjoyable about packing up the car and setting out for destinations by highway and byway. You can view the most interesting sights and stop whenever and wherever you choose and I enjoy that so much more.

Maybe it’s because when I was young, my father used to take my mother and me on Sunday afternoon drives and I have such fond memories of that. Or maybe it’s just that I like the peaceful, quiet aspect of a car trip consisting of just hubby and me and an open road when we can pick and choose where to go, how far to go, and where we want to stop and check out the scenery.

Back in early March before the stay at home mandates were issued, which seems like an eternity ago, Papa and I flew to Arizona to visit family. Upon arrival at the Phoenix airport, we picked up a rental car and hit the road northward for our Grand Canyon visit.

The day we left the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, rain poured from the overcast, foggy sky. We headed south to Williams, AZ where we could catch an intersecting highway traveling west. But instead of entering the interstate in Williams, we opted to drive westward on old Route 66.

blogIMG_1117With each mile on this less traveled two-lane byway, we encountered blue skies, sunshine, and warmer temperatures. Just what we needed! As an added bonus, Burma Shave signs along the road kept us amused.

blogBurmaShaveWhat a fantastic way to spend the day it proved to be! As we traveled along, enjoying beautifully different scenery and stopping in quirky and interesting little towns, I couldn’t help but remember an old song, Get Your Kicks on Route 66, written in 1946 by musician Bobby Troup. (Click on his name to watch/hear him perform the song.)

We surely did “get our kicks” traveling this mostly empty stretch of pavement. And eventually, my mind rolled back to an early 60’s television show, entitled Route 66, which I recall watching with my dad.

That show may have appealed to Dad, who enjoyed driving and traveling by car, because two characters, played by Martin Milner and George Maharis, wandered across the United States driving a Chevrolet Corvette along Route 66. Imagine my surprise as Papa and I were traveling on this remaining section of the old, historic highway when we saw a number of Corvettes coming towards us. Serendipity!

blogIMG_1175The original Route 66 highway extended from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through America’s heartland (an area you pass OVER when you’re flying). We stayed on Route 66, which first opened in 1926 and was decommissioned by the 1980’s when newer, larger highways took its place, all the way into Kingman, AZ.

The trip proved refreshing and fun and we delighted in every mile of the way.

blogIMG_1136“Look for chances to take the less-traveled roads. There are no wrong turns.” — Susan Magsamen

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: fawn inspired faith

Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve been sharing throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog on Thursdays for the last few weeks and here is yet another one of those. 

We’re in a waiting pattern. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for the virus outbreak to subside. Waiting for our states to reopen and businesses to thrive once more. Waiting to be released from this prison of sorts we’ve been subjected to by volunteering to be “sheltering in place, staying home, flattening the curve.”

Some of us are still shivering in fear over what’s transpired, uncertain of the future, wary of all the conflicting information at our fingertips. But we don’t have to be afraid while we wait as I wrote back in May 2011.  May my words from then encourage and give you hope now. 

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.

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 (now 15) 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.  ©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I still believe those words today in 2020. I can count on God to take care of me and so can you.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ~ Corrie Ten Boom

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: when not purging sparks joy

blogIMG_1557It was all the rage a while ago – decluttering your home, adapting to a minimalist kind of lifestyle. In other words, rid your home and your life of items you no longer use or in the words of the queen of tidying up, Marie Kondo, get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

Well, of course when we accumulate too much stuff, we need to evaluate, sort, donate, or pitch some of those items. But totally clearing your home of items that you haven’t used for awhile? That just doesn’t click with me.

Maybe it’s because my parents grew up in the Depression era and so they utilized items that others would pitch into the garbage bin. They also saved things because you just “might need them someday.” And well…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I’ve been known to save things because I can see where they might be useful later. I do scrutinize something to ascertain if it can be reused or repurposed. And I do think twice about letting go of some things because if I do, I just might need them later.

And you know what? Just last weekend, I was glad I do so. Here’s my case in point.

Like so many across of our country, we’ve been sheltering in place in our home due to the covid-19 business for the last…oh, I don’t know because I’ve lost track of time…several weeks that seem like “forever” in the words of my five-year-old grandchild.

Since Papa and I are in the “vulnerable” group (over 60), we literally have been staying home, getting groceries delivered to our front door step, and generally making do with the situation. But finally, our state governor has placed our particular county in the next phase  — we’re no longer in the red – of his reopening plan.

We can venture out into public once again and some businesses may reopen but we must don a face mask.  This is a bit of a problem for someone like me who is a trifle claustrophobic.  But along with everyone else in the world, I viewed videos with instructions on how to make masks – sewn and non-sewn.

Disposable masks are a hot commodity and could only be found online for a chunk of change. So I opted for the non-sewn ones and tried to “make” masks from bandanas, (which for some reason we have many) and hair ties. They didn’t work so great as we constantly ended up touching them to make sure they stayed on our faces. That defeated the purpose and honestly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe in them.

Scrap that idea. Finally, I bit the bullet and decided to sew our own, especially since we have a child in our midst who is too small to wear adult-sized face masks.  

Now, I confess I am not much of a seamstress. I wouldn’t claim to be one although I do know how to sew. I learned some from my mother, some in Home Economics classes in junior high, and even more from sewing classes given many years ago by my oldest sister, who is a seamstress extraordinaire. (She even fashioned her daughters’ wedding gowns.)

I own an old, simple sewing machine and can do basic sewing but my skills aren’t the greatest, although I did sew a number of Halloween costumes for my children when they were small.

But here’s the thing. My portable sewing machine is stored away in a box, sometimes for years.  My sewing chest full of thread and needles only comes out of the laundry room cupboard when I need to sew a button or make a simple repair on an article of clothing.

So I dragged out my neglected sewing machine and set it up on the kitchen table, rooted in the laundry room cupboard for some material remnants from a few things I fashioned many years ago, found the right colors of thread and – surprise! – a package of thin elastic and white shoestrings that were never opened in my sewing chest.

It took me a good part of the day, but I managed to sew three cloth masks – one for Papa, one for Nana, and one for Little One. I used the left-over material for the outside of the masks, some 100% cotton cloth for the linings, matching colored thread I already had, elastic for ear loops for the adult masks, and shoestrings for Little One’s mask which will be tied on instead of bending her ears down.

All of it didn’t cost me one cent! And all those items, including my sewing machine, have been stashed away in my cabinet for years, unused. Had I purged that cupboard of its contents because I wasn’t using those items, I wouldn’t have possessed the materials I needed for this “rainy day.”

And you know what, THAT sparked joy for me.

“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.” ~ Aesop

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Just different, that’s all

blogIMG_1583It wasn’t a typical Mother’s Day. But then again what’s typical in this ever-changing world we live in?

A typical Mother’s Day for me consists of attending worship service at our church with some or all of my family, then enjoying a home-cooked lunch prepared by Papa and my grown-up kids, and spending the remainder of the day with my family in the same house as me until it is time for them to journey to their own homes.

If our three with spouses and grandchildren in tow can’t be here to celebrate this special day, at least one of them would make an appearance in person – our daughter and grandchild who live close to us – and I would receive phone calls from the others.

But Mother’s Day was different this year. Not terrible, just different, due to the continued sheltering in place or lockdown we’re enduring because of this virus which holds us hostage in our own homes.

Instead of worshipping my God in our church, Papa and I gathered around the computer to listen online to our pastor’s message for the day while Little One watched Journeys for Jesus. We scarfed down some left-over pizza for lunch since it was just the three of us around the kitchen table.

After lunch, we drove Little One to Daughter’s house so Little One could deliver her Mother’s Day gift to her mommy – a basket of pretty pansies and a homemade card, which is so much more of a keepsake than a purchased card anyway.

We visited with our daughter/her mommy from her front porch. She was quarantined behind her glass front storm door. We sat on the opposite side. No hugs, no kisses on the cheek. Just talk between glass. Different? Certainly.

blogIMG_1567The wind kicked up, the sun disappeared behind clouds (again!), and the temperature chilled, so it was time to bid farewell. Being weary of staying home for so many dreary, sun-deprived days, we opted for a Sunday drive around our area’s country roads.

Little One fell asleep in her car seat in the back of our vehicle and the lull of the car’s motion enticed me to take a little nap in the front as well. Papa drove in silence – a bit of peace and quiet for him.

Different Mother’s Day? It sure was.

But one thing wasn’t different. Words of love and appreciation from all of my grown children, photos of my other two little grandchildren, and a special gift delivered by UPS.

My oldest daughter knows I can’t stand the taste of coffee and am a devoted tea drinker. So what did she and my son-in-law send me? What could be more perfect on these unseasonably chilly May days than a hot cup of tea?

My special Mother’s Day gift was a package of “Novel Teas” from Bag Ladies Tea. Each of the 25 English Breakfast tea bags boasts literary tags with humorous or insightful quotes from well-known authors printed upon them.

Quotes like this one from Henry Ward Beecher: “Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?”

I could bemoan the fact that I didn’t get to spend Mother’s Day with my beloved offspring and all of my grandchildren. But I won’t because life is just a bit different right now – not terrible, just different and I must keep that in perspective.

“I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” ~ Martha Washington

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When you’re still looking for the answer

blogIMG_0380Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve been sharing throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog on Thursdays for the last few weeks. 

I’m finding so many of them are still relevant today as we meander our way through the covid-19 pandemic, lock-downs, sheltering in place, and trying to discern what to believe as there seems to be so much conflicting information available to us.

I wrote this in September 2010 yet I hope by re-posting it, it offers up some hope and encouragement for my readers today in 2020.

Wandering up and down the aisles. Turning left, then turning right. Searching, seeking, hunting.

While rambling through a local discount store one day in pursuit of a particular item, I found it rather amusing that U2’s song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” accompanied my quest as it was played on the store’s public address system.

I continued exploring the store singing “I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls, these city walls, only to be with you.  But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.  But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

And I didn’t find what I was looking for. I departed the store without the item, but with that song firmly anchored in my head. The lyrics reminded me how often we humans search, explore, and literally travel on a quest to find some spiritual meaning to life, yet the answer is right in front of us.

One day a few summers ago, our garage door stood open for most of the day. Son was trimming the yard and whacking down the weeds with the weed-eater, so he was in and out of the garage. I was outside pulling weeds from the flower beds.

When we finished and were closing the door, we realized a tiny bird had flown into the garage and couldn’t find his way out. That little thing was in an absolute frenzy. He flew frantically from one corner of the garage to the other.

He lit on the extension ladder, which hung on the wall, to rest for a second, and then off he flew again. He even perched periodically on the open garage door itself, but could not seem to figure his way out of his predicament.

Son, middle daughter, and I attempted to aid his escape, but he became even more panicked. Our cat never took her eyes off him, obviously expecting a tasty bird dinner sometime soon.  After shooing the cat away, I thought surely the bird would come to his senses and fly out.

But he persistently flew into the ceiling of the garage over and over again, as if he could make an opening to escape by banging his head into the wall.  Soon he was bleeding.  We all felt such pity for this little creature and expected him to die either from exhaustion or smacking his head on the ceiling one too many times.

Finally, he discovered his way out and escaped. The thing was the double car garage door was open the entire time. The way was clear and wide open, yet that little bird couldn’t seem to see it.

Aren’t we just like that bird?

We get so caught up in our situations, distressed and distraught, and we bang our heads in frustration until we’re bloodied.

We panic and in our fluster, run around like a chicken with its head cut off, pardon the connection.

And the entire time, the answer, the help we need, or the solution is right there.   In front of us.  The door is open.  Every time we lose our way, God is there to help us out.

We don’t have to search. We don’t have to wander aimlessly. He’s there, waiting.  He flings the door wide open for us to come to Him.  All we have to do is walk through it to find He is what we’ve been looking for all along.  ©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

During this distressing time we’re enduring now in 2020, you may be searching, seeking, trying to find a purpose for what’s happening in our world, possibly even to you.  All I can offer is advice to hold on. I believe God will see us through and something amazing will happen because we’re hanging on and trusting in Him. 

And if you don’t know the three-in-one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you may find what you’re looking for by getting a copy of the Bible or downloading a Bible app. Then begin reading the book in the New Testament section of the Bible entitled, The Gospel of John. 

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com