What creeps me out

blogIMG_3972 (2)There aren’t a lot of things I can identify that would be classified into my ‘creep out zone’ – you know, things that you find creepy.

Tons of novels and movies abound that are filled with creepiness, but I choose not to read them or watch them.  I mean, really, why allow those imagined creepy images to infiltrate the recesses of my mind when happenings in the real world with real people are creepy enough?

So no, I don’t do creepy.  But today I found myself searching for photos in my picture cache to personify this word because this week’s photo challenge theme is – you guessed it – creepy.

So what seems creepy to me?  An abandoned and deteriorating house situated out in the country?  No.  That just makes me sad thinking of the family that may have once lived there and the joys and struggles they may have experienced in their home.

Scenes in a cemetery, are they creepy?  Not to me.  I find cemeteries fascinating again imagining the lives that once lived on this earth and all that they may have experienced during their time on this planet.

What about photos shot in the cover of nighttime, when it’s really dark outside, the sky is obscured by clouds, and the only light penetrating the black velvet covering is a slice of moonlight?  Nope.  Not creepy for me.

So what gives me the creeps?  It’s usually things I can’t see.  And how do you photograph what you can’t see?

So my next thought concentrated on that idea.  And I identified at least two occurrences that totally creep me out when they happen and for them, I do have corresponding photographs.  

I scream and totally go spastic when I walk into an unforeseen spider web.  The thought of it even now makes me shudder and creeps me out.  I don’t mind looking at wispy webs but I can’t stand the thought of them (and the spider) actually being in my hair or on my hand or face.  Yikes!  Creepy!

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the beach (you can feel sorry for me here).  When we lived in the Pacific Northwest, trips to the beach were common and even now living on the other side of the country, we’ve taken many vacations to the shore, just not lately.

I love the beach.  I love the ocean.  I love sitting in the sand in my beach chair, reading a good book, and listening to the ebb and flow of ocean waves.  It’s a happy place. 

This one is safely behind glass at the aquarium

This one is safely behind glass at the aquarium

But actually diving into that ocean water is another thing.  Wading out into the tide?  Ah, not so much.  I will go out into the water up to my knees and no further.  Actually swim in the briny?  No thank you.  I’ll stick to the pool.

Why?  Because the farther you go out into ocean water, the less you can see what’s in it.  And when seaweed or – yikes again! – something else unidentifiable swirls around my legs and feet or brushes against me, it’s creepy. 

You just don’t know what’s lurking in the water underneath or around you.  After all the shark sightings at our eastern seaboard beaches this summer, I don’t think I’m being unreasonable about that one.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”  ~ H. P. Lovecraft

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Never let it fade away

blogfallingstarMaking a long-lasting memory is like catching a falling star and putting it in your pocket and last night, or I should say early this morning, I secreted a falling star away in my pocket.

If you’re not familiar with that old song, Catch a Falling Star, here are the lyrics:

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away.

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day.

Actually I caught 20 falling stars in the course of one-half hour.  Determined to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower that is peaking right now, I mentioned it to middle daughter last night.  I had read that the shower would peak some time in the wee hours of the morning in our area so I asked, “Who’s going to get up with me to watch for falling stars?”

I knew hubby wouldn’t take me up on it because he was already dead tired and it was only 10 p.m. Besides he had to go to work today as well.  So I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter, who is a sleep-deprived new mom of our six month old grandbaby, said she wanted to witness the meteor shower too.

Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  We agreed when we headed off for bed that I’d set my alarm for those wee hours of the morning and that I’d awaken her to join me on our back yard deck for the show.

We all turned in for the night but I didn’t sleep much.  Whether I was too excited about seeing the stars or just worried I’d sleep through it, I tossed and turned until I heard my alarm sound.  I tiptoed downstairs and opened up our front door.  Brrr.  One of those crisp, chilly nights reminiscent of fall greeted me.

I threw a sweatshirt and sweatpants on over my nightgown, found my fuzzy warm slippers, and entered the bedroom where my daughter was sleeping soundly.  Gently calling her name, I half expected her to say she wanted to stay in bed, but she climbed right out of that warm, cozy bed to join her mama in pursuit of a meteor shower.

I grabbed the soft fleecy Steelers blanket for her on the way to the deck and my daughter wrapped herself in it.

The night sky was absolutely magnificent.  Being out here in the country there aren’t many bright lights to interfere with observing the stars on any given night, except when there is cloud cover. But oh, not last night. 

The heavens were breathtakingly clear, no cloud in sight and the expanse of stars was absolutely awe-inspiring.  I honestly don’t remember seeing so many stars lighting up the darkness covering our surroundings.  Bright orbs of light even hung low on the horizon giving us the feeling that we were in a planetarium looking up at the starry show.

And then my daughter spotted it.  The first shooting star.  And there.  Another one.  A quick flash of light and sudden streak. And oh, look there, that one left a trail.  We kept count and even though we were only on the deck for 30 minutes, we spied 20 falling stars (and a couple of jet planes too).

We talked about constellations and how we wished we knew more of them so we could identify them because the jet black expanse of nighttime was chock full of them.  We spoke of how utterly amazing it was that God created the heavens and that He knew how many stars He placed in the sky.  And we fell silent thinking that over.

And then I sang so softly… “catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…”  And my daughter cracked me up with her immediate quip, “Well, that would be kinda hot, don’t you think?” And we laughed and pointed to yet another shooting star.

We made a sweet memory to last a lifetime and shared an experience bound with love while we shivered on the deck catching falling stars.  A memory to store away in the pockets of our minds to pull out later on those rainy days when life seems so difficult.  

Shooting stars are blazing bright one moment and faded away into nothingness the next.  But the time spend with my middle born child (okay, she’s an adult) will never fade away. And I wouldn’t have traded those 30 minutes of stargazing on the deck with my daughter for anything, not even a pocketful of stars.

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature and Selected Essays

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

My soul and my heart’s inspiration

Inspiration right in my own back yard

Inspiration right in my own back yard

What inspires you?  That’s the question on my mind this week and it’s also the Word Press weekly photo challenge theme. 

Inspiration and motivation have been a bit lacking lately as I attempt to get back on the blog writing cycle.  And when I saw the notice that Inspiration was the photo challenge, as usual my memory bank dialed up an old song and the lyrics to it played through my mind.

The year was 1966 and the love song was released by The Righteous Brothers.

You’re my soul and my heart’s inspiration
You’re all I got to get me by
You’re my soul and my heart’s inspiration
Without you baby what good am I?

If I take those words written as the chorus to that song and truly contemplate them, what would I replace the word “you’re” with?  In this love song, obviously the words are directed at a loved one – girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse.

You could substitute any person who inspires you into these lyrics.  Perhaps a family member motivates you – your parents, your siblings, your children/grandchildren, or another relative.

Maybe a famous person is your source of inspiration, someone you admire who has done great things for humanity and you want to emulate that amazing person. Perhaps someone like Mother Teresa motivates you. 

Maybe what inspires you isn’t a person at all but something else that’s tangible like music.  Visual arts.  Photography.  Nature.  Or it could be an ideal that causes inspiration to swell up inside you – like patriotism for your country, serving those less fortunate than yourself, pursuit of the things that make you happy, the list could be endless.

On any given day, my inspiration may change. 

One day viewing a beautiful sunset surrounded by nature may inspire me; the next day, looking into my baby granddaughter’s eyes stirs up my emotions.  

Some days listening to the rhythmic beauty of classical music motivates me.  And the next, a vivid photograph I’ve captured with my camera lens sends my thoughts soaring to wrestle with words (which are also very inspirational to me) to create a blog post.

But there is something that remains constant for me each and every day.  Something endures that proves to be a perpetual source of inspiration for me.  But I have to be purposeful in taking that item from its spot on my desk, opening it, and reading it so the insights I gain from it transfer to my daily life.  It provides my encouragement.  It provides my motivation.  It provides flashes of revelation and yes, much inspiration.

My source is my Bible.  And it provides motivation for me to be thankful for the One who inspires me the most – my Savior Jesus Christ.

I can easily insert His name into that old 60’s song. 

You’re my soul and my heart’s inspiration
You’re all I got to get me by
You’re my soul and my heart’s inspiration
Without you Jesus what good am I?

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For me, that someone is Him.

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The age old question

blogDSCN7187It’s the age old question….why?

We can ponder it over and over again until our mind is numb from contemplating it. 

We can ask our family members, friends, neighbors, even the internet yet still find no answer. 

We can cry over it.  Scream about it.  Rail against it. 

We can spout all the platitudes like ‘everything happens for a reason’ or we can just buck up, batten down the hatches, and believe what Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die” and accept those sayings as truth.

Yet an answer for that why still eludes us.

We can even earnestly petition God in prayer and ask Him over and over, “Why?”  And still find no reason surfaces to placate our mind-boggling query.  We just have to remind ourselves that even if we don’t get an answer, the Lord still listens to our prayers and answers them according to His will not ours. 

The great Christian writer C.S. Lewis also tackled the problem of why things happen the way they do when he wrote, “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.” 

Life just doesn’t seem fair.  Ask Calvin and Hobbes.  The cartoonist Bill Watterson penned this quote in one of his comic strips: “I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?”

I’ve come to the realization that the question really shouldn’t be ‘why?’  Instead perhaps we should ask, “Why not?”

Our self-centeredness feeds us the lie that the world revolves around us.  Plans should occur just the way we want.  We are entitled to get what we want, when we want it, how we want it.  Instant gratification because we deserve it! 

Let’s face it, in this day and age our focus is totally centered on self.  We dress for self, undergo plastic surgery for self, purchase cars and homes for self, whiten our teeth, dye our hair, tan our bodies, all to satisfy self. 

Because our self-image seems like the most important thing. It’s what gets us the most lucrative job, the handsome/beautiful spouse, the façade of success.  Or so we think.  At least that’s what society has taught us and we’ve bought into it, taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker.

But that’s not how real life works.  Reality is so much different. Reality shows us that life is downright difficult at times.  Bad things do happen to good people.  Terrible occurrences befall even the most devout and faithful believers in Christ. 

People lose jobs, they are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, their marriages fail, accidents happen, homes are lost to natural disasters, loved ones die unexpectedly or too young, and yes, even we must face our own deaths eventually.   

The worst times of our lives don’t happen because we’ve done something to warrant trying times, it’s just the way life is.  I hate to burst your bubble but we really are not promised a rose garden in this lifetime. 

We’re not guaranteed perpetually sunny days with no troubles, no calamities, no gut-wrenching events to endure in this world.  No, sometimes we just have to face the full force of the storm and hang on for dear life. And there’s One to hang on to.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 (NIV)

See that’s where our hope lies.  Not in this world and all its trappings.  Our hope is in something, some ONE that is eternal.  The Savior of the world. And when I think of all He left behind in heaven to purposely come to this world and willingly suffer horribly for me, my troubles seem minuscule. 

And I have to ask myself, “Why NOT me?”  If my Savior suffered the torture of the cross just for me (and you), then why do I think I’m so very special that I should not have to bear a few burdens myself?

“God knows what we are going through when we grieve, and He wants to assure us of His love and concern. He also wants us to turn to Him and bring our heartaches and burdens to Him.” ~ Billy Graham

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Find your happy

blogIMG_4543

We all have one.  A happy place.  

Some folks dream of relaxing on a pristine sunny beach while others might be happier on the top of a mountain taking in a spectacular view.  For some, their happy place consists of being surrounded by the hustle and bustle of life in the city while others enjoy the quiet contentedness of the country.  

Where’s your happy place?

Way back in late fall, Papa and I ventured on a long weekend trip a few states southwest of us to visit our oldest daughter and son-in-law. For this family-oriented Mama, spending time with my loved ones always makes me happy.

And one of the happy highlights of that trip happened one afternoon when my daughter had reservations for tea at a lovely spot called Sisters Tea Parlor where we joined daughter’s sweet mother-in-law and equally sweet sister-in-law.  

Definitely a happy place

Definitely a happy place

Treated to pretty and scrumptious tea sandwiches and goodies, delectable desserts, and an amazing assortment of all kinds of teas, everything proved delightful from the lovely company to the delicious food and tea to the adorable way each room in the tea parlor was decorated. 

I loved the sign “Find Your Happy” over the door to the Paris pink dining room where we sipped our tea and dined on our delights.

Find Your Happy.  

Isn’t that a good suggestion?

I can name a plethora of things that make me happy and I’m grateful for that.  But I have to say that one of my happiest places is right here. 

I find my happy when I’m writing something straight from my heart.  I find my happy when I capture a photograph that I know I can share with my family, friends, and blog readers.  I find my happy here in this spot. 

And yesterday, I was reminded that indeed this IS one of my happy places, and it has been for quite some time, when I received this notification from the hosting site of my blog:  

anniversary-2x“Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago!

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!”

So my happy place for the last five years has been sharing my thoughts and photos with some of the most wonderful readers right here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  And I need to thank you all for convening with me in my happy place.  I think I’ll go for another five years,  What do you think?

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~Frederick Keonig

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com