Grandparents in training

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“Fixing” the piano bench

Do as I say not as I do.  

You may have grown up in a home where that was the norm.  Parents doled out dos and don’ts to their children but didn’t adhere to those standards themselves.  

Call it a double standard.  Call it ineffective parenting.  Call it whatever you want, a lot of human beings grow up in those kind of homes.

But I didn’t. I consider myself blessed that I had parents who were good role models, who practiced what they preached, who raised me with a strong sense of right and wrong and doing good vs. evil. 

They followed the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you shall have others do unto you.

That moral principle is one that Jesus himself taught in the Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament book of Matthew, Chapter 7: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

My parents were law abiding, respectful of others, hard and conscientious workers, just plain good people.  They were also believers in Christ and took my sisters and me to church and Sunday School every Sunday to learn more about the Savior. 

Mom was the paramount homemaker, mother, and caretaker creating a home filled with lots of love, beauty, and delicious cooking, yet she expected good manners, obedience, and exemplary behavior from her children. I learned to strive to be the best mom I could be from her and I can only hope I succeeded. 

Dad never once complained about his responsibility to provide a good living for his family, including my grandparents, and he served people with respect and goodwill not just at his work but in our church and also in our community by holding an elected office in our local township for many, many years.

So yes, I had excellent role models. Papa and I endeavored to model good character and strong and genuine faith for our three offspring while they were growing up and we continue to attempt to be the parents God has called us to be.

But now, our roles have changed. Our children are adults and while we can still give advice when needed or opinions when asked, they must make their own decisions and their own way in the world. It’s their turn to demonstrate what they are made of.

Yet our influence has not ended. We’re grandparents for the very first time and I am even more keenly aware how we impact this dear little one who is a major part of our lives.

Our sweet little girl is growing up.  No longer an infant, she is now over 14 months old – a toddler – and learning new things each and every day.  She watches us keenly and she imitates what we do, the noises we make, what we say, how we react, and how we treat others.

So often we perform what seems like a mundane everyday task and little one, after seeing it one time, imitates what we’ve done. 

Just the other evening, I asked Papa to repair the bottom of the piano bench, which was coming loose after all of those years of cramming too much written music into it, and tighten up a wobbly bench leg.

He gathered his ball peen hammer and screwdriver, emptied the bench of the music books, flipped the bench over, and hammered the staples back into the wood. Little one was right beside him watching every step of the way.

When he turned away for an instant to grab the screwdriver, she climbed upon the bench bottom, picked up the lightweight hammer, and started ‘fixing’ the bench too.

She is a quick learner. She notices something one time and she’s on to it. She learned some baby sign language in no time. She follows directions (like ‘go find your shoes’) adeptly.  She amazes me.  And yet, this realization also gives me pause for a little trepidation.

Little one is learning how to live life by observing all that we do.  Along with her Mama, we have a huge responsibility to help steer her in the right direction.

And that direction is to teach her what is good, what is right, what is moral, but even more importantly, what is godly.

It’s a big job for any parent or grandparent in training. But we have an excellent training manual.

God’s Holy Word. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV) Or a more modern way to look at it might be the same verse taken from The Message: “Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”

It worked for me. My parents trained me for life and I’m still sticking to the way I was trained. The Guidebook for Life (the Bible) kept both Papa and me on the right path. As we age and enter into this grandparenting stage of life and beyond, it guarantees us we won’t get lost.  

We will never find our way in material possessions and the things of this world for that path is not the best choice. Instead we have a legacy – one of noble character and ardent faith – that we strive for and that’s the most vital thing we hope to pass on to our children and now our grandchildren.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children or grandchildren is not money or other material things…but rather a legacy of character and faith.” ~ Billy Graham

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

It’s suppertime

blogIMG_6251The evening meal.  Some folks call it dinner.  If you’re an Englishman, you might call it tea.  Or maybe you just call it a down home, folksy kind of way – suppertime.

My parents always called the evening meal supper.  Lunch was called dinner, don’t ask me why. It wasn’t until I became a young adult that I began calling the evening meal dinner instead of supper.  But the two terms are always interchangeable in my mind.

Whatever you call it, the word dinnertime brings up memories.  Of gathering around a bountiful table of food. Joining with family to eat a meal together. Maybe an outing with special friends. Dinnertime.

It’s the topic of this week’s WordPress photo challenge and it conjures up several memories for me. 

When our three were growing up, we tried eating this meal as a family every night together, gathered around the kitchen table, not glued in front of the TV set in the family room.

It’s true that some evenings, Papa was absent because those were the days when he traveled often in his sales job. But dinner time was important to us as a family, a time we wanted to spend together.

Even as our kids started playing sports and joining numerous activities, we endeavored to eat together, waiting until the family was gathered, no matter what the time, just for dinnertime.

When I was a youngster myself, I played outside almost every day, even in the rain (unless it was storming) and in winter’s cold as well.  Most of the time, I was in the company of my neighborhood friends as we raced our bikes, sledded down a wintry snow-covered hill, or played make-believe under the shade of the apple trees.

As suppertime approached, we would hear our mothers calling us home.

Those memories prompted the tune and chorus of a very old song from my childhood to waft back through my thoughts.  The song, Suppertime, was performed by a country singer named Jim Reeves and was popular in 1958.  You can listen to the song here.

As in all of those old tunes rambling around in my mind, the lyrics soon flooded back as well.  

“Many years ago in days of childhood
I used to play till evenin’ shadows come
Then windin’ down that old familiar pathway
I’d hear my mother call at set of sun.

Come home, come home it’s suppertime
The shadows lengthen fast
Come home, come home it’s suppertime
We’re going home at last.
[Spoken]
Some of the fondest memories of my childhood
Were woven around suppertime
When my mother used to call 
From the backsteps of the old homeplace
Come on home now son it’s suppertime. 

Ahhhh, but I’d love to hear that once more
But you know for me time has woven the realization of
The truth that’s even more thrilling and that’s when
The call come up from the portals of glory
To come home for it’s suppertime.

When all God’s children shall gather around the table 
of the Lord Himself and the greatest suppertime of them all.

Come home, come home it’s suppertime
The shadows lengthen fast
Come home, come home it’s suppertime
We’re going home at last…”

While I was considering a photo to choose for this challenge, I could have selected the obvious, my family seated at the dinner table enjoying our dinner/supper and each other. 

But instead, I opted for a sunset photo, which seemed to fit those old long remembered lyrics to a song.

Come home. It’s supper time. Or dinner, if you prefer.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Hawk eye

blogIMG_7585 (5)You know what they say.  Hindsight is always 20/20. If you could have seen then what you see now, things would be different. How many of us have thought that, said that, believed that?

Something outside my kitchen window one morning recently reminded me hindsight truly is like that.  If I had just noticed something in the past, I realize the present may be entirely changed.

I always start my mornings with a hot cup of tea. As I filled my teakettle at the kitchen sink one morning, I did what I usually do, scanned the horizon outside the window above the sink. 

The landscape I view from there includes our back yard and a tree line of overgrown brush that separates our property from the farmer’s field directly behind us.

That’s when I noticed it.  Something rather large perched in one of the trees.  I pulled the binoculars out of the coat closet, held them up to my eyes, zoned in on the tree, and focused.

And there he sat. Just sat. Watching over the brush, our yard, and most likely the right of way passage of overgrown grasses between our house and our neighbor’s.  No doubt, he was in search of his next victim.  His prey. Those little critters hiding out in the tall grass.

He watched like a hawk.  Because, well, he was one.  I grabbed my camera, fitted the telephoto zoom lens on it, and stepped out into my back yard to try to capture this creature’s image. 

I managed a couple of shots, then proceeded to minimize the distance between that hawk and me even further by walking slowly – ever so slowly – towards the back edge of our property and towards the hawk. 

But ol’ hawkeye spied me, decided I was getting way too close for comfort, and off he flew before I could even lift the camera back up to my eye. I guess as I was keeping my eye on him, he was watching me like …well…a hawk.

And that made me think. If you watch people more closely – watch them like a hawk – could you avert certain situations? 

If you scrutinize them, their attitudes, their characters, their actions, their good points and their not-so-good points, would you be able to discern that a person who seemed to be a decent, upstanding sort of human being, might just turn around and do something that would cause you great harm or distress?

I’ve often thought that I was a good judge of character because I do observe people, how they talk, how they act, and more importantly, how they treat others.  But I seriously doubt my ability anymore because I have been flamboozled by folks that have just boggled my mind with their actions. 

What did I miss?  What major red flags did I just not see that should have warned me the person wasn’t all he/she claimed to be? Were there signs along the way that I just didn’t notice?

Of course, that leads me to think I need to be more hawk-like – engage in fervent watching people like a hawk – to keep away those who may hurt my loved ones or me.  

It’s a conundrum though. 

My head warns me to be hawk-like and pounce upon the misdoings and faults of others especially if those actions might affect my loved ones adversely.  But my heart…my heart…it implores me to be more like a dove.

But then my thoughts turn to the book of Matthew in the New Testament, Chapter 10.  In verse 16, Jesus tells His disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”  He continues by cautioning His followers to “Be on guard.”

I believe Jesus meant that we must take a balanced view when we are out in the world. 

As a Christ follower, I shouldn’t fall into wrong doing myself because of what’s been done to my loved ones or me.  In that respect, I should attempt to remain innocent as a dove and listen to my heart.  

But I live in a world of wolves (many who are dressed in sheep clothing) and in that case, I must be shrewd (sharp, discerning, perceptive) as a snake…or perhaps a hawk.

And yes, I need to be on guard at all times. Ever watchful. Ever vigilant. Just like that hawk perched in that tree.

You can just call me Hawk Eye.

“If we had great distant vision like a hawk, we could avoid most disasters, altering our future.” ~ Unknown

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Lumber in the attic

blogIMG_7809It happened.  My brain has turned to mush.

I don’t know how. I don’t know why.  All I know is I’m left with the result…mush brain. 

Maybe it was just too much time spent playing Trivia Crack – no, wait – shouldn’t being able to recall answers to all those tidbits of information sharpen my mind, not dull it?

Maybe my mind just went on vacation…and didn’t take the rest of my body?

Maybe perusing Facebook just sucked thoughts and coherent sentences right out of my head?  After all, some of the stupid stuff posted there does boggle my mind.

Maybe my diet is lacking in food that boosts brain function…things, according to WebMD, like blueberries, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, whole grains, beans, pomegranate juice, freshly brewed tea, and dark chocolate?

Nah,  I drink plenty of freshly brewed tea, eat enough blueberries, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and – yes!!! – dark chocolate to keep my brain fully functioning, I think.

I could blame watching too much television…but I hardly ever watch it.

Perhaps stress, worry, and upset has something to do with it – I’ve certainly encountered enough of that to qualify for a reason.

But still. I don’t know why there’s a puddle of mush in my skull where my brain used to light up and fire away so much writing fodder for this blog that it kept me awake at night.

And I can’t really explain why my creative muses have packed up and vacated the premises.

All I know is I’m left with a mush brain.  A brain that can’t (or won’t) come up with one creative idea to morph into a blog post.

That explains my sporadic posts and downright absence from the blogosphere for the last few weeks for you, my readers. But not for me.

I just didn’t understand it until I ran across this quote, attributed to Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes stories.

“A man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

I actually do have a little “lumber room library” both on my computer and in a paper notebook where I jot down blogging ideas and even though I’ve accessed my library over and over again, I still haven’t been able to nail down an idea and hammer out a worthwhile post.

Digging a little deeper into that quote though, I found what Doyle actually wrote in his novel, A Study in Scarlet:  

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that this little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it, there comes a time when for any addition of knowledge, you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”  

Aha! That’s it! There’s way too much lumber in my attic brain.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

This story doesn’t end

blogIMG_7581It’s Holy Week for those of us who call ourselves Christians – Christ followers. As I remember and reflect on that last week of Jesus’ earthly life leading up to Easter Sunday,  – Resurrection Day – I recall seeing the following on a poster some years ago. 

And He shall be called…

Advocate (1 John 2:1)

(The) Amen (Revelation 3:14)

 (The) Almighty (Revelation 1:8)

Alpha & Omega (Revelation 22:13)

Anchor (Hebrews 6:19)

Author & Finisher of Our Faith (Hebrews 12:2)

(The) Beloved (Ephesians 1:6)

Branch (Isaiah 11:1)

Bread of Life (John 6:35)

Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15)

Bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)

Carpenter (Mark 6:3)

Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)

Dayspring (Luke 1:78)

(The) Door (John 10:9)

Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)

Faithful & True Witness (Revelation 3:14)

Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23)

High Priest (Hebrews 6:20)

Holy One (Mark 1:24)

I Am (John 8:58)

Image of the Invisible God (Colossians 1:15)

Immanuel (Matthew 1:23)

Judge (Acts 10:42)

King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15)

King of the Jews (Mark 15:26)

Lamb of God (John 1:29)

Light of the World (John 8:12)

Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5)

Living Water (John 4:10)

Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15)

Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3)

Master (Matthew 8:19)

Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)

Messiah (Daniel 9:25)

Only Begotten Son (John 3:16)

Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)

Prophet (Matthew 21:11)

Redeemer (Job 19:25)

 (The) Resurrection & the Life (John 11:25)

Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4)

Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1)

Savior (John 4:42)

Servant (Matthew 12:18)

Shepherd & Bishop of Souls (1 Peter 2:25)

Shiloh (Genesis 49:10)

Son of God (1 John 5:20)

Son of Man (Matthew 20:28)

Teacher (John 3:2)

True Vine (John 15:1)

(The) Way, the Truth, & the Life (John 14:6)

Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)

(The) Word (John 1:1)

His name is Jesus Christ. 

Sent to earth as God-Man by God the Father, He came to save us all. Suffering and dying on an old rugged cross, He took our sins upon Him to bridge the gap between earthly wrong-doers and a holy and righteous God. In doing so, He provided the only way to heaven and eternal life.

His gift of salvation is free, there is nothing you can do to earn it, no way of being good enough on your own to gain it. And even if you have committed something that seems unforgivable and you feel unworthy, He still loves you unconditionally and forgives.   

All you have to do is believe in Him, repent of your past mistakes and ask for forgiveness, accept the gift of His love, and enter into a personal relationship with Him – the One who is all of the above names just for you and me.

Do you know Him? Really know Him? It’s never too late to meet him at the cross. But that’s not where the story ends.  He is the reason we celebrate Easter and that empty tomb proclaims Resurrection Sunday as a glorious day of joy and hope. 

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

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com