Remember

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“The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.”  ~ Randy Vader 

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Time to be still

blogIMG_5629 (2)The creativity grindstone has come to a halt. I just can’t seem to squeeze out any creative juice. This Mama/Nana has been busy of late and yet stuck in the mud of mundaneness.

My imagination has gone on hiatus. My inspiration to write is sadly missing…again.  I can’t quite put my finger on the cause, whether it be too much else to do, feeling weary and tired, or just a lack of motivation. Or maybe it’s just the dreary weather.

But I find myself sitting in front of the keyboard and drawing a blank.

I know there are words, ideas, and images up there somewhere in the expanse of my brain that seems cluttered with other thoughts right now. So I think I need a blogging break.

I need some time to think. I need some time to just be…well, not chained to the keyboard desperately attempting to put some coherent thoughts together into meaningful sentences.

So, I’m taking a bit of a break. I’ll be back after I just sit still awhile.

“Stillness is where creativity and solutions are found.” ~ Meister Eckhart

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

This girl

blogAustralian travelerThis girl.

This girl I once carried in the hidden space inside my own body.

This girl made me a mother for the very first time, just a few minutes before Mother’s Day.

This girl, who seemed a shy, quiet child, possessed an adventurous spirit inside that reserved façade just waiting to soar.  

This girl discovered her wanderlust in high school on her first adventure to France.

This girl journeyed by herself to Africa, much to the worry of her parents.

This girl’s faith in God and her caring soul prodded her to minister to the unfortunate in Honduras more times than I can count.

This girl captured the heart of another adventurer and married him.

This girl, whose dream it has been to travel the world and see new sights, pursues that dream alongside her husband.

This girl experienced mountain top lifetime thrills at Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit and at Peru’s Machu Picchu.

This girl has visited more countries on this earth than I can remember and has stepped foot on every continent except Asia and Antarctica.

This girl is my beloved oldest daughter.

This girl is celebrating a birthday.

And this girl amazes me.

“Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” ~ Lewis Carroll

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Bird feeder thoughts

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A bit fuzzy because photo was taken through a window screen.

I’m not much of a cook. Oh, I can prepare an edible meal well enough. But cooking just doesn’t stir up happiness in my pot of life.

In other words, I just do not enjoy cooking. And probably because I don’t like to cook, I’m not a very creative cook either. Because I don’t enjoy spending time in the kitchen preparing food and delivering a meal to the dinner table, I do what I call “assembling” a meal.  The simpler, the better.

Since I’m not a “foodie,” I also really don’t care much about the meals I eat. Just so they’re for the most part healthy and edible is enough for me. Some folks live to eat; I eat to live.

And that about sums it up.

Last weekend, Papa and I attended one of those home expo shows in our area. We weren’t in the market for home remodeling, or new windows, siding, water proofing, gutters, or much of all the other services displayed at the show booths.

Mostly, we attended for an afternoon out and to see a model train display that was also set up and running in the venue where the home show was located.

While strolling through the displays, we did stop briefly at a booth giving information on a meal home delivery service that is advertised often. I had heard of this particular company but didn’t know much about it. So I politely listened to the salesperson’s spiel about the freshness of the meal kits “Delivered right to your door!” for a fee.

I can understand why some folks would be attracted to such a service, but neither Papa nor I are interested in the idea, the money it would cost, and the fact that some of the meal selections just didn’t look that tasty to us.

So when the salesperson tried to pressure us into signing up for an “introductory” subscription and asking us what would keep us from using the service, we thanked him for his time and declared, “No, thank you” and moved on.

The experience came back to my mind yesterday morning while I sat at our kitchen table eating my breakfast, which of course, didn’t come in a kit and I had to prepare it for myself. While I ate and thought, I also observed birds eating their breakfast too.

We’ve had a small bird feeder suspended from a tree close to our back yard deck for many years now, but I can’t see it from our kitchen windows very well. Likewise, a suet holder hangs from a front yard tree and because of its location, I don’t always observe my fine-feathered friends there either.

So a couple of months ago, we purchased a larger, wooden bird feeder and a hanger that attaches to our deck railing. Thus, the new bird seed holder is in full view from the windows in our kitchen eat-in nook and enables us to watch birds come and go while we eat our meals.

Yesterday, while munching away on my breakfast and sipping my cup of hot tea, I observed a variety of birds visit the feeder for their treats.

Mr. Red, a brightly colored Cardinal gobbled up some seeds.  Goldie, a gorgeous yellow American Goldfinch also grabbed a quick meal. Little wrens, sparrows, and chickadees stopped by the diner too until they were chased away by a bigger fellow, Brawny, a Brown-headed Cowbird.

As I watched them all enjoy their free meals provided by Papa and me, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to not worry about making meals, buying groceries, and spending money on food, but just get a free meal made and provided for you like these birds do?”

Just flit by the nearest feeding station and fill up your tummy. No muss, no fuss. No worries.

And just then this passage from God’s Word came to my mind: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” ~ Matthew 6:25-27

I then thought how foolish I am. Even though grocery shopping, preparing food, and cooking is a chore for me, God does provide all that I need. He gives me my daily bread. Instead of complaining about cooking and preparing meals to eat, I just need to express my thankfulness for God’s provisions.

My feathered friends outside my kitchen window reminded me of that.

 “I don’t feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.” ~ Kathi Hutton

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Thankful Thursday: the color of beauty

blogIMG_7648An attitude of gratitude. It’s one of the many aspects of life we discuss when a group of ladies gather weekly at my home for Bible study. We’re learning how to be content with our lives, our roles, and our purposes.

We’re learning that happiness may be getting what you want but true contentment is wanting what you get.  Those gifts that God bestows upon us. And we’re taking the time to be grateful for life and all its nuances.

So today on this Thursday, I find a simple thing for which to give thanks.

blogIMG_7657The world outside my windows has exploded into bright bursts of color. Green grass.  Yellow dandelions. Dark pink bleeding heart flowers. Bright green and white striped hosta plants. Light purple and red blooms on the azaleas.  Blue sky.

Springtime. A glorious outburst of color and new life. Worthy of celebration.

And all of that beauty my eye beholds is more than worthy of thanksgiving.

“Beauty is the gift of God.” ~ Aristotle

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Words for Wednesday: May “flowers”

blogIMG_7831 (2)It’s true, that old saying – April showers bring May flowers. Just take a look at my front yard lawn.

It boasts an abundance of ‘flowers.’ Oh, I know. They’re really dandelions.

Weeds by definition. But to me, they’ve always been a cheery symbol of spring – those lemony yellow dots copiously spread out among the luscious expanse of green.

I’m enjoying my profusion of May “flowers.” They make me as happy as a sunshine-filled, balmy blue-skied day.

They speak life. And what could be better than that?

“Beautiful as a dandelion-blossom golden in the green grass, this life can be.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Foam pit faith

blogIMG_7561 (2)Wouldn’t it be amazing if every time you fell down, you landed in a soft cushion of foam to keep you from being injured?

Over the Easter weekend, Papa, our girls (middle daughter and granddaughter), and I  traveled to see the rest of our family, stopping in the state next door to see our son, daughter-in-law, and other grandchild.

After a short visit with them, we headed south to our oldest daughter and son-in-law’s home. Rainy weather dogged us and the outdoor Easter egg hunt that we were planning to take our little one to wasn’t a feasible idea.

Instead, we spent a fun and active afternoon at an indoor trampoline park. Papa and I decided to merely observe because we envisioned going home in a cast or some such bad luck. But oh, what fun we had watching the young ones cavort.

Little one couldn’t get enough jumping, following her uncle and attempting everything he did. And our two big girls – sisters – were jumping and flying through the air as well. This mama watched them through the eyes of my camera lens, trying to capture all the antics.

I caught this one of our daughter trying to keep her balance on a tight rope of sorts. I think she only succeeded in making it across once but the rest of the time, she landed in the foam pit below. A nice, soft landing.

If only all our falls were like that! We all take a tumble sometimes. Tripping over a curb. Losing your balance. Skidding down the steps. Losing your footing on an icy patch. Or maybe your pet darts in front of you and you stumble over it.

Broken bones may be the result. Or bad bruises. Or maybe just a bruised ego, a humbling case of humiliation if you happen to land on your backside while out in public.

It happens to all of us and often there’s no way of preventing that fall in the physical world. But we also fall emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. And many times, those stumbles that knock us down aren’t as easy to recover from.

But those of us who have a strong faith have an everlasting safety net when we fall. His name is Jesus. He holds out His arms and catches us, holding us securely until we can set our feet back on solid ground. Even if our tumble causes us pain, Jesus applies His healing balm of unconditional love on us.

As we learn from the mistakes that cause our falls, our problems, our troubles, we are picked back up by a loving, forgiving Savior. He sets us right again. And He’s so much better than a foam pit.

“You will fall many times in life, but you will pick yourself up and become stronger and wiser for each trouble you pass.” ~ Leon Brown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: forcynthia

blogIMG_7647You read that title correctly. No, I did not make a typographical error there. I didn’t misspell the word forsythia, I truly meant to post forcynthia.

What in the world? you may ask.  As she nears that ripe age of 65 is she starting to lose her faculties? Or is it simply that the appearance of sunshine and spring-like weather addled her brain? Is she giddy with spring-time bliss?

To answer those questions: No, I don’t think I’m losing my almost-65-year-old mind. No, my brain isn’t addled…at least not yet. And maybe, yes, I could be giddy with spring-time bliss.

But the most accurate answer is there is a story behind the title of today’s post and I am going to share it with you.

In our yard there is one forsythia bush. It has been planted in the same spot for several years now – almost 10 this summer – and this is the year it has bloomed its best. The bush exists for one specific reason; it was a gift to me because of a childhood story I once shared with a friend.

I’ve always loved seeing forsythia bushes blooming their golden yellow, delicate, skinny petaled flowers clustered on tall spires in spring. Forsythia are so cheerful to view, even if some folks consider them invasive as they can grow quite large and can take over an area of landscaping.

But to me, they are special and I’m going to tell you why.

Unless you know me personally, you do not know that my given name is actually Cynthia. It’s right there, written on my birth certificate although the only person to call me by that name was my mother – when she was angry with me.

I’m more known for the nickname associated with Cynthia – Cindy.  But my birth name is Cynthia, a name derived from Greek, another name for Artemis, the mythological goddess of the moon. But even from my earliest memory, I knew my ‘real’ name was Cynthia and that I certainly was not a goddess.

As a youngster, every time I heard my parents discussing those bushes that appeared in spring with their bright sunshine-color blooms as forsythia, I honestly thought they were saying “for Cynthia.” So at some point in my childhood, I claimed those plants as my own. And when they bloomed, they were for me – for Cynthia.

I related this silly, little story once to a friend and it made her chuckle. But she remembered my tale. Not quite 10 years ago, my father passed away. The loss was difficult for me as he was the last remaining parent either my husband or I had. Losing Dad came right on the cusp of empty nest hood too, so my emotions were kind of a mess.

Imagine the joy it brought me when the friend gave me a gift to express her condolences at my father’s passing. The gift was a small forsythia bush which she spent a good deal of time searching for.

blogIMG_7640A gift to bless my heart. This Cynthia. This Cynthia who loves forsythia. This Cynthia who still thinks of this particular spring bloom as exclusively mine – my forcynthia.

And my forcynthia still blesses me each time I look at it, but especially in spring time. And that joy of remembering my parents, remembering that little girl who loved her parents so dearly and also her forcynthia stays with me.

Sometimes joy comes in yellow.

“Forsythia is pure joy. There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia. Pure, undiluted, untouched joy.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Not a good replacement

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

So very much has been written about it. Even research studies launched about the effects of it.

You can use it to acquire all kinds of knowledge. You can use it for leisure activities. You can use it to conduct business, purchase items, save an image, learn the latest news, you name it. And we have convinced ourselves we can’t be without it.

Ever.

It must be clutched in our hands. And our eyes must be fixated on it. It’s the cell phone and it’s infiltrated our lives to the point where it truly has become an addiction, as gripping as the strongest drug out there, if you ask me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-technology. Technology is amazing. It can be life-saving; it has opened up new frontiers in so many fields of study. And it is good when it is used appropriately.

But just like everything else in this world, it depends on how you use it. Use it for the betterment of mankind? Great. Abuse it and go down dark alleyways that harm our fellow man? Terrible.

So how, you may ask, does the simple use of a cellphone do harm? We hear and read a lot about the breakdown of the family in our society. We see articles about the lack of communication even though we have the easiest form of interaction literally at our fingertips with texting on our cells and you can reach anyone anywhere on the cell phone.

Of course, there are a myriad of reasons why we are in this predicament in our society. Why families are falling apart. Why families don’t feel connected to one another even though they may live in the same house. Why we don’t interact verbally with one another in meaningful ways any more….or at all.

I don’t have the answers to these problems, but one thing is as clear to me as those photographic images I can take with my smart phone.

Those smart phones have made us not-so-smart.

Last week, I enjoyed a shopping trip with my daughter and granddaughter. We stopped for lunch at one of our favorite spots which happens to have an indoor play area for children. Of course, Little One wanted to play for a bit with another little girl who was there.

So I stayed at our table and minded the purses and jackets and sipped my unsweetened iced tea while Daughter and Little One entered the play area. I started doing what I usually do when I’m seated alone in a public place….I people watched.

And I got an eye full (although not what you may think) and the idea for this blog post. The restaurant wasn’t overly crowded yet as it usually is at lunchtime because we had decided to grab an early lunch. So in the area where our table was located and where I could view comfortably without turning around, there were approximately 15 people of all ages, including children and a couple of teens.

All of these folks were eating their lunches. None of them had laptops or briefcases with them, so I’m assuming none of them were taking “working lunches” especially at 11 am.

Looking straight ahead, I spied a person on her cell phone. Behind her a woman and two teens on their cells. Next to them, two more people, both on cells. At the next table, a man with eyes glued to his phone and earbuds in his ears. Next to him, a gray-haired couple…you guessed it… scrolling through their phones.

All of them – people of different ages – were so engrossed in their phones that they couldn’t be aware of anything happening around them.

Beside me, a family of four – husband, wife, and two children. The little girl looked to be about six years old or so and the boy probably was around nine or ten. Dad was on his phone while chomping away at his food. Mom too was captivated by her own cell. The boy, earbuds stuck in his ears,  had his cell propped up on the table watching a video. Only the little girl had no phone and she was chatting away….to herself.  All as they ate their lunch.

I wanted to yell, “Put away your darn phones and talk to your family!”

I shook my head to myself and thought no wonder families are falling apart, they don’t even talk to one another at lunch. They don’t pay attention to their kids because they are mesmerized by technology instead of communicating verbally with the human beings right there with them.

I glanced into the play area, waved to our Little One who was having fun playing hide and seek with the other little girl. But then I noticed another disturbing sight. My own daughter was sitting there, entranced in her cell.

What have we become? Humans with eyes only for our cell phones?? Since when is social media, videos, email, texting, whatever entices you to keep that phone in your hand and your eyes glued to its screen become more important than the people around you? The ones you love. The ones you should be spending time with, connecting, sharing, just talking over your day, your thoughts, your ideas. Enjoying the company of family and friends.

Out of those 15 or so people in my view, I saw two people (not including me) without a cell phone attached to their hands. Two human beings – a young man and a young woman probably in their late 20’s – were actually having a conversation. A real, live, face-to-face discussion over lunch. With no cell phones in sight.

Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

“Give the people in your life the gift of your presence by putting down your mobile device.” ~ Kate Northrup

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

He is risen indeed

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

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

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com