Words for Wednesday: rain needed

The view outside my country home window quickly became as depressing as the state of our country under this continual scourge of covid-19 restrictions and the social unrest taking its toll.

Just like turning on the evening news or gleaning the internet, nothing refreshing appears.  We’re weary and just burned out from discouraging news, divisiveness, and the dehumanizing effects of this pandemic.

Someone voiced an opinion to me the other day and I’m tending to agree with it – “I’m soooooo over this!”

Right now, our expanse of yard – we have 2.25 acres of it – personifies how we feel. It’s lifeless-looking. Brown and crunchy from lack of refreshing rain. Leaves on trees and shrubs are starting to wilt and dry up.  Where I normally view verdant green is now dishearteningly drab.

Rain clouds gather around, look menacing and promising at the same time while we think “Finally, some rain!” and then just as quickly as they assembled, those clouds scurry away from us or dissipate completely. Other areas receive rain, but here at our house we are only getting a few raindrops here and there.

We need a nice, steady rainfall just like we need some good news to fall upon us.

But we’ve had little to no rain. No rain means no water in the rain barrel which we use to water our garden. Consequently, our garden isn’t doing as well as it should even though we use a hose to water it.

No rain means no green. No green means it looks lifeless out there. We take water for granted so often just like we do life. We assume we’ll always have water. We assume we will have life. But the two go hand in hand. Human bodies can sustain life for a number of days without food, but without water, that’s a different story.

Years ago, Papa and I were part of a Bible study group that decided to raise funds to “purchase” a water well in an undeveloped country. People there needed good, clean water to drink for proper hygiene and good health. We achieved our goal and raised enough funds to provide a water well through World Vision.

Remembering that reminded me that the well drilled in that foreign land became the source of not only clear, drinkable water but also a source of hope and encouragement. Water does that. It encourages us, revives us, and makes us feel refreshed.

Right now, we need refreshing in a major way! The news keeps reporting surges of corona infections, the threat of more restrictions, and even returning to lock-downs.

It’s depressing and discouraging. When added on top of all the vile vitriol being spewed on social media, on the news, and everywhere else it seems, it’s disheartening to say the least.

How much more can we take? The other day, Papa and I just needed to “get out of the house.” We escaped in our vehicle and just took a drive. We never left our car nor engaged with any other people so we didn’t don masks; we just took a several hour road trip northward through more rural areas.

The scenic views provided just what we needed to see.  Since the areas we drove through had received more rainfall than we have, our eyes beheld the color green as we traveled. Green – the color of life.

As we neared rivers and creeks, we spied even more green, beautiful green. I shot the photo above on this trip. Green near the water. Refreshing water. Life-sustaining water.

What we saw refreshed us, restored our feelings of peace and well-being. And that gave me pause to reflect on some thoughts.

Maybe what we need in our country is rainfall, not literal raindrops but a different kind of outpouring – rain that restores peace, unity, and banishes fear. The kind of revitalizing rain that only comes from God.

I’m praying God pours refreshing, recovering, renewing, life-giving, life-preserving rain on us all. Will you join me?

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” ~ Sylvia Earle, American marine biologist

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Tuesday Tour: Lighthouses

Growing up as a landlubber, I never really gave much thought to them.

Lighthouses, I mean. I knew what they were, I’d viewed pictures of them, but I’d never personally seen one.

Before I became an adult, the closest I ever found myself to water was near creeks, rivers, an occasional lake or pond, and my next-door neighbor/ friend’s swimming pool.

I had never beheld an ocean –the one time my family vacationed in Atlantic City, New Jersey when I was a mere three months old didn’t count in my memory bank – until my then fiancé (now husband), whose family vacationed at the shore every summer, drove me there.

Since that trip, I’ve learned to appreciate the sea. I’m not crazy about being IN it, but I do love to be beside it. And I’ve also conquered my fear of being on the waves in a water craft although Papa still can’t convince me to take an ocean cruise.

I find it interesting that two oceans touch the eastern and western borders of my country, the United States of America, – the Atlantic on the eastern seaboard and the Pacific on the west. Having lived on both sides of the country, some of our travels have taken us to both ocean coasts as well as some of the Great Lakes.

During those travels, I’ve become fond of photographing lighthouses. Those structures served as a continuous or intermittent signal for navigators on the water, be it ocean or lake or even river.  Lighthouses emitted beacons of light from lamps and lenses to give maritime pilots a navigational point they could see.

Once lighthouses provided warnings about dangerous coastlines and locations of hazardous reefs or rocks and showed safe waterways into harbors. But because of the upkeep expense of maintaining them and also the development of electronic navigation systems, the number of operational lighthouses has significantly declined.

However, many of those beacons of light still stand. And you can visit a number of them. In recent years, Papa and I have been doing just that. We actually acquired a lighthouse fold-out brochure guide on one of our trips that lists all of the lighthouses in every state of our country.

We’ve visited some of those sites over the years and we hope to continue to do so. Lighthouses provide some dramatic scenery but more than that, what they symbolize has profound meaning for me as a person of faith.

Life is perilous. We encounter all kinds of storms in this earthly life and it often feels like we are lost at sea, just being tossed around on waves of disappointment, disillusionment, even despair.  At the mercy of a fierce, dark tempest, we look for a light in the darkness. Something to guide us to safety and well-being.

Something like a lighthouse. A shining light in the darkness that leads us safely home. For me, that’s a Savior named Jesus. And a lighthouse reminds me of Him.

You may never have known this, but this Friday is National Lighthouse Day here in the US.  Way back in 1789, Congress signed the Act for the Establishment and support of Lighthouse, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers.

Two hundred years later in 1989, Congress passed a resolution designating August 7 as National Lighthouse Day. The purpose of the day is “to recognize the importance of lighthouses in maritime navigation and for providing ships safe harbor during bad weather.”

Because of my affinity for lighthouses, I’ve decided to share some of my photographs of ones we’ve personally visited over the years in a new series here on my blog. I call it Tuesday Tour. I hope you will enjoy each Tuesday post when I’ll highlight a different lighthouse we’ve visited and a little information about each one.

Please come along on my Tuesday Tour. The light might be beckoning to you.

“Anxiously you ask, ‘Is there a way to safety? Can someone guide me? Is there an escape from threatened destruction?’ The answer is a resounding yes! I counsel you: Look to the lighthouse of the Lord. There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost but what its beacon light can rescue. It beckons through the storms of life. It calls, ‘This way to safety; this way to home.’ “~ Thomas S. Monson

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: weighty thoughts

The month of July is almost over and I’ve passed my 10-year “blogaversary” milestone. Back in July 2010, I began this blogging journey called Mama’s Empty Nest. Ten years and over 1,400 posts, if I did the math correctly. A plethora of photos and more comments than I can even count. Ten years of a myriad of words all coming out of my own thoughts.

It amazes and humbles me. Thank you to all my readers, new and long-time, for keeping me on task – facing the computer screen and running my fingers over the keyboard for the last 10 years.

To celebrate this blogging milestone, I’ve been re-posting some entries of years past. Today on this Throwback Thursday, please read this one from January 2016. Back then I obviously had some weighty thoughts and I still do today in 2020. I hope my readers can find a bit of encouragement in this throwback.

We are just about halfway through this brand new month of this brand new year and I bet you lots of people are focused on weight.  That New Year resolution to lose the extra pounds, exercise daily, or start a healthy eating plan is top priority on the list.

Have you noticed there’s always a solution touted to help you do so?  Just pick up a sales circular from any department or discount store; all the exercise clothes, equipment, and diet stuff is on sale.  The “lose weight feel great” ads are all over the media whether it’s on TV or radio, in magazines or newspapers, or on the computer screen as you browse the internet.

This diet. This exercise program. This exercise machine. This pill or this powder or this shake or this energy bar….whatever it may be, the promise is that you will lose the excess weight if you just buy the product or join the club.

We are obsessed with losing weight and I can’t even imagine the amount of money we Americans pour into trying to achieve that goal.  Lord knows, I’ve succumbed in the past. 

But now, I’m not as worried about the number on the scales as I am about whether I’m keeping myself healthy or not. And keeping healthy doesn’t just mean my physical body, it encompasses my mental, emotional, and even more importantly, my spiritual health.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is “weight (less).”  You get to choose.  You may demonstrate something with weight or not by showing something seemingly weightless.

A number of years ago, our oldest daughter lived and worked down South.  One fall, Papa and I spent a week’s vacation driving down there to spend time with her. Together, the three of us toured the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, an amazing place to visit.

While walking through the outdoor Rocket Park there, we came upon a display portraying what a moon crater might be like and Papa and Daughter tried their hardest to appear weightless like they were walking on the moon.

Of course, gravity always brought them down to earth and it took several tries before I got a decent picture of them being “weightless.”

And in life, isn’t that the truth? We may experience a sky-high period of excitement in life whether it’s falling in love or the best vacation ever or experiencing the birth of a child but something always brings us down to earth.

We may say we love someone to the moon and back but that’s the thing, we always come back.  Back to real life.  Back to reality at its best and worst.  We get weighed down by daily life, by troubles that come our way (and they do come, no matter who you are), by disappointments or disagreements, by the horrific events that take place in our world.

We often feel like we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just feel weightless?

What we do with those burdens that befall upon us is our choice though.  We can trudge through this life saddled with a huge encumbrance weighing us down, breaking our spirit for life, and carry that load until we fall exhausted and broken.

Or we can turn that millstone over to Someone who has more strength and ability to carry the load.  Someone who already carried all the burdens this world has to offer on an old rugged cross.  Someone who offers us rest from our wearying weight.

That Someone gave us an invitation to do exactly that in Matthew 11:28-30:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Life is too precious to spend it carrying a heavy load.  I’m choosing to be weightless.

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” ~ Walter Anderson

 ©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Next week, I’m going to introduce a new series on Tuesdays. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the Throwback Thursday posts or not. These pandemic restrictions of sticking close to home are drying up my creative juices somewhat. I need a change of scenery!

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: make your own fun

Summer. Hot temperatures. Little rain. Humidity climbing up the ladder of mugginess.

Add covid-19 restrictions to that. No amusement parks. No summer baseball games. No fun at a playground. No public swimming pools.

No fun outings. No trips to a children’s museum. No trips to the zoo. No carnivals or county fairs. No festivals.

No trips to the library. No cooling off at the movie theater.

No Vacation Bible School at church.

Only drive-through trips to get an ice cream cone which you must eat in the car.

What’s a child to do on a hot, steamy day at Nana and Papa’s house when summer fun is restricted?

Make your own fun by engaging in a water blaster fight with Papa. And hope it helps water the dry, crunchy grass.

She makes us determined to make her childhood enjoyable no matter what!

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.” ~ George R.R. Martin

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Summer gladness

By now, my readers (and those of you who love summer weather) are weary of my whining about why I don’t enjoy this season. So I won’t subject you to another one of my summer time blues rants.

Instead, I’ll take a different road down the heated pavement of summer. What’s to like about this season? Sunshine – that’s for certain, always a big A-plus in my grade book of life.

With the sunshine, I find there’s one more thing to like about summer. Those gorgeous, multi-colored blooms in people’s yards, flower pots, and porch boxes. They do make a person happy just to see them.

Our front porch boxes boast some huge, beautiful red petunias. When I relax on the front porch swing on evenings cool enough to do so, I gaze at bright orange tiger lilies.

The perennial flower garden is full of bright yellow day lilies, purple balloon flowers, bright pinkish purple blooms on the butterfly bush, and clusters of tiny yellow buds on the yarrow plant.

The rose bush and the clematis also graced us with lovely colors and now the gladiolas have opened up as well.

My mom always had those tall spikes called gladiolas in her garden when I was growing up. She would pick a bunch of them, bring them inside and arrange them in a tall vase of water. My mom called them glads.

And you know what? When I see those particular flowers blooming in our garden in summer, I remember my mom and her glads and that makes ME glad. Yes, GLAD, even in summer! Shocking, I know.

When I photographed the gladiolas in our yard just the other day (because you know, in this time of staying close to home, what else is there to photograph??), it made me happy.

Glad. It made me glad! And when the word glad popped into my mind, my thoughts rabbit trailed as they often do. 

A Christian song immediately started playing in my brain and I can’t get it out of my head. That’s what happens when you get an earworm (defined as a “catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing”).

The song, Be Ye Glad, is an old one – I think from the 1980’s – and was performed by an a cappella group also named GLAD. If I remember correctly, the singing group was formed by male students from different universities in my home state Pennsylvania. But what I remember most are the words and the beautiful harmony of the song.

The lyrics, written by Michael Kelly Blanchard in the late 1970’s, are still very fitting in today’s world:

Words and Music by M.K.Blanchard
© Gotz Music/Benson

In these days of confused situations.
In these nights of a restless remorse,
When the heart and the soul of the nation,
lay wounded and cold as a corpse.
From the grave of the innocent Adam,
comes a song bringing joy to the sad.
Oh your cry has been heard and the ransom,
has been paid up in full, Be Ye Glad.
Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.

From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.
You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they've had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.
So be like lights on the rim of the water,
giving hope in a storm sea of night.
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter,
for these fugitives in their flight.
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle.
You are winsome and young as a lad.
And there is no disease or no struggle,
that can pull you from God, Be Ye Glad.

You can listen to the song, its inspiring lyrics, and beautiful harmony as performed by the musical group GLAD here.

Those gladiolas in my garden remind me that even in summer, my least favorite season of all, there’s something to be ye glad about – life and my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ.

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: finding my thrill

I can usually count on two distinct aspects that normally occur every summer: 1. I fall into a summer slump and 2. Our blueberry bushes provide us with a good crop of berries.

So summer isn’t my favorite season AT ALL. I can hear many of you out there exclaiming, “What???” while shaking your heads.

In your book, summer equals relaxation, warm weather (no snow or ice), beach trips, fun in the sun, swimming and lounging in the pool, picnics, suntans, and the list goes on. I get it. You enjoy all of those activities.

Well, guess what? So do I (with the exception of suntans – this extremely fair skin I inherited from my English ancestors does not tan), but I simply cannot stand the heat and humidity of summer. I wilt like a wet dish rag.

When the weather dials it up several notches to hot, sticky, humid temperatures, I can be found inside in air conditioning. And I don’t want to be inside.

I want to be outdoors in fresh air without sweat dripping off of me, running into my eyes, and burning them. I want to enjoy time outside in sunshine without it sucking the life out of me, draining any ounce of motivation I may have drummed up. (And this, my friends, is why I love fall and spring 100% more than summer.)

What results is what I call the summer slump. I get cranky, lethargic, and totally unmotivated. Heck, I can’t even get inspired to create a lot of blog posts (indoors, of course) when summer rolls around and pushes temps into the upper digits of the thermometer.

I found this definition of “summer slump” on urbandictionary.com:  A period during summer in which a person performs inefficiently due to the excessive amount of free time on their hands. The symptoms often include:

  • remaining around the house for the majority of the day,
  • sleeping in excessive amounts,
  • persistent viewing of television,
  • prolonged exposure to video games,
  • neglecting personal hygiene,
  • consuming large quantities of food (in most cases, junk food),
  • loss of desire to leave their residence,
  • and abstaining contact from the outside world other than Facebook or the occasional trip to 7-11.

The definition continued listing causes as “lack of school or a job, absence of friends, insufficient funds, and/or lack of transportation,” and also listed effects as “moodiness, weight gain, shortness of breath, insomnia, increase of nerdiness, shrinkage of intimacy, and/or depression.

After reading this definition, I realize that perhaps I’m using the term summer slump incorrectly. First of all, I’m retired so I don’t lack a school, job, etc. Instead, I’m glad I don’t have a job right now!

Secondly, I’m not experiencing any of the effects (gee, am I more nerdy??). And lastly but foremost, the only symptoms I truly have is the first one – remaining around the house for the majority of the day.

I don’t sleep a lot, I watch TV rarely, don’t play video games. Don’t worry though because I do shower, so neglecting personal hygiene is not an issue.

I haven’t been eating a lot because it’s too darn hot to cook let alone eat. And I do have a desire to leave my home but between hot weather and this pandemic…well, there you have it.

I’m not sequestering myself away from communicating with the outside world, and Facebook – well, don’t get me started on that subject, so let’s just say I’ve been staying off social media to prevent adding extreme anger to my slumpiness (which I’m sure is not a word!).

I don’t make occasional trips to a 7-11 convenience store because we don’t have one (but there are Sheetz and Get-Go shops within driving distance) and I don’t visit those type of places regularly anyway.

Consequently, I guess I don’t have a classic case of summer slump per this definition, just my particular type – one of my own making I suppose. My summer slump consists of being lazy, unenthusiastic, and just plain uninterested because of the heat, which is totally out of my control.

And that explains aspect number 1. Now on to the second item on my summer happenings list. Blueberries.

A bumper crop of those delicious berries keeps me a tad busy. With multiple pickings, my kitchen counter has been filled with those sweet blue yummy fruit. And now, our freezer has quart-size ziplock bags full of them.

Blueberries force me to get out of my summer slump and do something – wash and dry them after picking, prepare some for eating (on breakfast cereal almost every day) and the rest for freezing.

I blanch them first then cool, dry, and place the berries in a single layer on a tray in the freezer so they freeze individually. Next, the frozen berries go into ziplock bags and I pop them back in the deep freeze. This way they don’t all lump together and you can take as many or as little berries out of the bag at a time as you want.

Prepping the berries is a plus because I’m sticking my head inside the freezer several times a day. And at least I can stay cool that way.

Summer? It doesn’t thrill me. But I’m grateful for the summer blues – blueberries, I mean. I guess you could say I’m like Fats Domino.

“I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.” ~ Fats Domino

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: flashback thoughts

Once again, I’m sharing an old post of mine from June 2011 for this Throwback Thursday. As I’ve said before, Mama’s Empty Nest is celebrating a 10-year blogaversary this month and I decided to repost some of my favorite offerings from those years.

Ten years of writing this blog hasn’t brought me fame and fortune, but it has blessed me tremendously with wonderful readers and new friends. It’s enabled me to share my life’s messages and I can only hope it’s been inspiring and encouraging to others.

But for now, go back in time with me and read the following post.

Flashback to the 60’s.   She is alone, upstairs in her bedroom with the door closed tightly.  Pictures of her idols, “The Monkees,” smile on her from the walls of her room.

Dressed in her most mod outfit, mini-skirt, fringed vest, and go-go boots, she dances the Pony and the Jerk to spinning vinyl 45’s on her record player, belts out songs to a pretend audience of thousands but in reality just a few old  stuffed animals and forgotten baby dolls.   And she yearns for the day when she would become famous.

Her daydreams revolve around that thought.  Fame.  It would be exciting to be a famous pop star/singer, but what she truly envisions for herself is becoming a sought-after actress, known and revered by millions.  When that happens, she muses, everyone will be in awe.

Those who snubbed her now, those who didn’t want to be her friend, and those who didn’t realize she existed would clamor for her attention and she would ignore them.  And if that star-studded scenario didn’t occur, she would settle for being a famous author.

Such were the desires of an adolescent girl. To be famous meant you were somebody, not just the average 13-year-old girl who lived a hum-drum boring existence in an average middle-class home in rural America.  When she was a famous singer/actress/writer, she thought she might occasionally return to her hometown, just to show people how important she was.

That young, teenage girl was me.  Back in the day, I had no clue what real life entailed; I thought being famous was the end all to everything.  As I grew up,  I realized that wasn’t true.

I imagine most famous people have an inborn desire to become noticed, rich, or powerful.  Famous actress Katharine Hepburn once said, “When I started out, I didn’t have any desire to be an actress or to learn how to act. I just wanted to be famous.”  So evidently, she experienced that passionate desire and brought it to fruition.

Famous is something I am not.  My closest stab at being a star actress was the lead role in my high school play during my senior year.  The nearest I’ve come to being a singing sensation was performing a few solos in various church choirs and singing ensembles.  The only hints at public awareness I’ve managed in the writing world were my byline on articles I crafted in reporter days for a daily newspaper and my little blips on this blog.

Now I laugh out loud at the visions I embraced back then of performing before audiences of thousands.  Obviously, I did not embody the passion to fulfill those girlhood dreams of notoriety.  

As a young teen, I thought my passion was to become famous.  I wanted to be noticed and applauded by an audience.   That’s what I believed would provide a happy and fulfilled life.

How wrong I was in my youthful zealous daydreams.  Real life led me into an entirely different direction:   marriage, children, family life, enjoyable work, making the world a better place for one person at a time, and most importantly, loving and serving God.

To some, those aspects of life don’t sound very passionate, but they have been my passion all along.  Pastor and author Dr. David Jeremiah’s wise words reinforced what I’ve come to understand: “The strength of passion is to do whatever we do heartily, and the secret of passion is that we do everything as if we were doing it for the Lord himself rather than for man.”

Jeremiah continued: “Sometimes we think nobody sees the effort we make to work at our jobs, take care of our families, or serve the Lord.  Not true!  God sees it all.  We play on a field with an audience of One sitting in the stands.  And He is the only one who really matters.  He sees and knows everything we do – the motive and passion with which we live our lives.”

So even back in my foolish days, when I longed for a captive audience, I already had one.  The One.    The only One who matters.  And so do you.

Imagine as you go through your day, there He is sitting in the auditorium watching your performance, sitting in the bleachers watching you play, sitting at your conference table watching you work, sitting on your sofa listening to you talk.

He knows what you’re going through, He sees what you accomplish even when no one else notices and you are weary, and He finds pleasure in all you do for His glory.

On this 14th page in Chapter 6 of my Opportunity book, I find it inspiring to think that I might please my audience of One and that He doesn’t  care whether I’m famous or not.  I know He doesn’t want me to lose heart while I serve Him in the big things and the small.  I hope you feel the same.

“Your life is your message to the world.  Make it inspiring.” ~  Lorrin L. Lee

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do I have anything to add to these thoughts now in the year 2020? All I can say is “ditto.” I’ll continue to write my messages here in my own little corner of cyberspace for as long as the Lord wills and gives me words to say.

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: intentional

We decided it was time to see the light, take a step toward normalcy, and catch an aperture of blue sky pinpointed in the midst of ominous dark storm clouds.

Life proved to be a most daunting and unusual period of time in the last few months. Never before in our lifetimes have we encountered what’s been called a pandemic – covid-19 -and all that has transpired because of that tiny virus.

The social and physical isolation we’ve all endured has taken its toll on us, one way or another, and created an even larger raging storm to brave against for many. For some, there have been job losses, a devastating loss of income, or complete closure of their small businesses. For others, the isolation has affected mental and emotional health that is difficult to overcome.

I’m ever so thankful that Papa and I are weathering the dark clouds hovering over us fairly well. We’ve had a few difficult moments but nothing like so many others have faced. Our faith continues to be our strength and a swift antidote for the fear that has pervaded and seems to be enduring thanks to the media.

And yet, we experienced a feeling of imprisonment stemming from so many months of having to stay home, avoiding public places, sequestering ourselves from other people, even some of our own family.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the need to break out of “prison,” what staying at home for so long has felt like.  I shared our trip away from home when our entire family gathered together for the first time in months at our son’s home in another state.

Today I’m inviting you to come along on another one of our road trips when we just had to “get out and get away” from home for a bit.

Papa and I have traveled domestically during our 40+ years of marriage. At last count, I’ve actually visited 40 of our 50 United States of America. Of course, Papa and I hope to add travels to the rest of those sometime in the future.

Not now, naturally, as travel is restricted because of this pandemic. We did manage to travel out west and back home again right as the pandemic panic stormed our country.  And we were relieved to return home unscathed and content to stay there for some time.

But as the months dragged on, we’ve felt the need to escape home from time to time. So we began researching places right in our own back yard, so to speak, that we haven’t been to yet. Places that are within a day’s drive of our country home – alas, we found that we have visited most of them.

But a couple remained unseen, so one fine summer day, we set out for one of those destinations. We intended to visit a well-known state park in a southwestern area of our home state. This particular park is well known for some of the best whitewater rafting in the east.

Now Papa and I aren’t rafters or kayakers; matter of fact, we don’t even own a boat of any kind whether it be a rowboat, canoe, or motorboat.

Regardless, this area also features some waterfalls and one in particular that we wanted to see. We packed a picnic lunch and set out for some sightseeing, but found a detour from our plans necessary.

Once we arrived at the waterfall location, we realized it was inundated with people. I mean scads of people. Since this is normally a busy tourist and camping spot, we expected some folks, but not the crowd we saw during this period of cautious ‘re-opening’.

Throngs of humanity congregated in outdoor seating of area restaurants, parking lots so full of cars we couldn’t locate an empty spot, and hordes of people – all unmasked – walked everywhere not social distancing.

I get it – I really do. After being confined to our homes for so long, we all felt the need to get out and what better place than somewhere in nature? Somewhere that offers camping, hiking, and river recreation?

After circling round and round in search of a parking spot to no avail, Papa and I looked at each other and said, “Do we really want to get out of our vehicle and subject ourselves to this multitude of people?”

We shook our heads no and drove on. Even the hiking trails looked crowded.

Our quiet picnic spot

Fortunately, we located a serene little spot with just two empty park benches overlooking a scenic view. We decided to eat our lunch there in peace and quiet alone…until another vehicle pulled up and four young adults piled out, pulling coolers, etc. out of their trunk.

The sad part of this? We felt like we couldn’t even speak to those other folks let alone engage in conversation with them as we might normally do. Nor did they even look in our direction. Pandemic paranoia? I think so.

Time for us to move on once again. Thankfully, we had devised an additional plan to drive the countryside in search of three different covered bridges.

You can drive through this 1891 bridge

And we were successful in finding all three. At two of the sites just Papa and I were the only humans there and at the third, we encountered a family on bicycles.

Originally erected in 1802, rebuilt in 1906 & again in 2008
Built in 1830, this one is 162 feet long

We made a great choice that day. We intentionally chose to forego the busy foray, which included a large number of people, and make our own way. But I can’t help feeling a little sad that we felt the need to not engage with fellow human beings because honestly, Papa and I are friendly folks.

Just traveling through the scenic countryside, however, was like a balm to our souls and minds and we still got to see people, just not mingle with so many of them.

As an added bonus, I was able to capture some nice photos.

“Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us.”  ― Richie Norton

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Breaking out

I love my home, I truly do, but I’ve found the need to break out of it.

Our current house is the one abode I’ve actually lived in the longest time of my life. My family lived in two different houses when I was growing up, but the longest period of time I lived in one of those was from age seven to the time I went to college.

Papa and I have lived in several houses in different locations over our 40+ years of marriage but this structure situated on our country acreage is the place we now call home. And I’m most grateful for it. I’m content living here. This place gives me peace.

But…even I, a person who loves her home and doesn’t mind being at home, have grown weary of just that – being home.

Being socially and physically isolated and having to follow sheltering in place edicts that have been forced upon us by government officials determining it was to flatten the curve of the covid-19 pandemic, to protect us from widespread outbreaks, to eliminate overwhelming hospitals, etc. has been difficult to say the least.

We are a mobile society. We are accustomed to going where we please, when we want, and for how long we want. That’s one of our freedoms that perhaps we take for granted and have been duly reminded of during this time.

However, I’m not writing this to discuss the pros and cons of everything that has transpired in the last few months. You have your opinion and I have mine and let’s leave it at that. The real reason I’m expressing this is because basically, I’ve become antsy from staying at home for so much of the time.

Oh, I get out a bit. Of course, since we live in the country, I can go outside of my house for as long as I want and weather permits without meeting another soul. Also a friend and I go walking for exercise and sanity a few times a week in an area where we encounter only a couple people here and there.

Papa and I have ventured out for take-out food occasionally. And since our state governor finally opened up our county (even though we had very few covid cases, we were locked down until he moved us to a “green phase,”) we’ve stopped grocery store deliveries to our front porch and one of us, all masked up like a burglar, treks to the market.

We’ve also taken little jaunts in the car just around our neck of the woods along country roads, just driving for the sake of it and getting out of the house. All we encountered on those outings were other cars, some wildlife here and there, and scenery but not any interaction with other human beings, be they friend, family, or stranger.

We’ve Face-timed our grown kids, chatted on the phone, and I’ve led a Bible study via video conferencing for some ladies from my church, but both Papa and I have yearned to just get out and about, seeing different sights and people, taking a road trip, and simply traveling with a destination in mind, Those aspects are just some of the ways we’ve enjoyed retirement and now it’s something we truly miss doing.

So, covid-19 or no covid-19, we decided to change that, mostly because both Papa and I refuse to live our lives in fear. This week, I’m going to take you, my readers, along for a ride or two to spots we ventured to visit. No worries though, we practiced social distancing when it was necessary and yes, we cared enough about other folks that we wore a mask when we landed in public places.

We traveled to spend an entire weekend at our son and daughter-in-law’s home (several hours away and in the state next door). In fact, every member of our family, which included us, our grown kids and their spouses, and our three little grandchildren, gathered together for the weekend there, the first we’ve all been together since Christmas.

It proved to be a joyful reunion and watching our three little ones play together just made us so darn happy. What a world of good it did for us as we enjoyed fun and fellowship with our family, delicious food, and plenty of relaxation outside on son and daughter-in-law’s back yard patio.

It was just the prescription needed for Papa’s and my bit of melancholy over social isolating and to put aside any smidgen of fear that keeps permeating the news and air waves and threatening to engulf us.

Tomorrow, I’ll share our next little journey busting out of our sheltering in place “prison.”

“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.” — Dr. Henry Link

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: celebrate

It’s time once more for a Throwback Thursday post here at Mama’s Empty Nest. Ten years ago this month, I launched this little corner of cyberspace on WordPress entitled Mama’s Empty Nest.

The month of July marks my ‘blogaversary’ of writing here but actually it’s been 15 years since I entered the blogging world. Previously, I had occasionally written on another blog site from 2005-2007 but then stopped because…well, life got in the way. My nest wasn’t completely empty back then and it was crazy busy.  

Join me as I look back at celebrating Mama’s Empty Nest with this post written in July 2011.

One of my favorite things is chocolate and another is writing this blog.

Obviously, I can’t share my to-die-for chocolate candy (pictured) with you.   But I can share my thoughts with my friends and readers in written form here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

July is my “blogaversary” month.    I use the term month because I’m not sure which July date actually commemorates my blog’s anniversary.

Six years ago on July 9, 2005 (now 15 years ago!!) on a whim and a dare from oldest daughter, I started writing a blog via a different site.  Recuperating from cancer surgery and not physically able to accomplish my usual summer to-do list, I needed something to occupy my time and mind.

Oldest daughter convinced me to create a blog on the same site she then used and I started putting my thoughts into written words again.  My writing topics ranged from silly thoughts to serious ones, everyday life to the change in thinking that a cancer (albeit a curable kind) diagnosis brings.  Once I recovered and returned back to “real life,” I only posted occasionally, when I encountered a little free time, until fall 2007.

And then… nada…zilch…nothing.  My blogging life ended.  Life got in my way.  Hubby and I still had kids in the nest, two sets of college tuition to pay, a calendar full of events to attend, jobs, a home to maintain, and all of those priorities dominated my waking hours.

With our youngest child’s college graduation last year (in 2010) and all of our children’s subsequent moves away from home, my world and waking hours changed.  I tried social networking for a while; fun at first reconnecting with old friends, but after the novelty wore off, I found myself sitting at the computer playing endless rounds of Reversi and Bubble Town.

Way to let the brain atrophy!  In between popping bubbles and knocking off Reversi opponents, I began reading a far-away friend’s new blog on WordPress.   One day, I realized how much I missed writing myself.   Why not take my love for stringing words together in written form down from the shelf, dust off my skills, and rekindle my blog?  So I moved my old posts from the previous site over to WordPress, started cranking out new posts on July 19, 2010, and my new blog, Mama’s Empty Nest,  was  hatched.

What happened next I compare to coming out of a coma.  Suddenly, my mind leaped into over-drive and so did my senses.  It felt like I had awakened from a very long winter’s nap.  Once I commenced writing, words just kept gushing out of me, words that were obviously bottled up inside for decades.  Ideas would spring into my mind when I gazed at a picture or often when a sight unfolded in front of my eyes, while driving, and even while sleeping.

My senses seemed heightened – eyes wide open, observing things I couldn’t wait to write about, ears hearing sounds I previously must have taken for granted.  Every day occurrences in my world suddenly needed crafted and sculpted into paragraphs of written language, and I was constantly grabbing the nearest scrap of paper to jot down my thoughts before they melted away.

An old composition notebook became my new best friend in which I scribbled ideas, thoughts, and topics when they surged into my brain.  And then something truly amazing happened.  I realized I wasn’t just writing for myself and my closest family anymore.  Somewhere out there in cyber-land, people – friends and strangers – started reading my blog and commenting!

A whole new world opened up for me [cue the theme song from Disney’s Aladdin] as I gained new readers, blogging buddies, and very good friends.  I recently reviewed my posts from five years ago and marveled at the change I see in my writing and even in myself. (Ditto that now in 2020.)

Where I once blogged as a way to fill up empty time, now I blog because it brings me joy.  Where I previously wrote whatever came to mind, now my posts have meaning and depth…and I believe, purpose. 

Today, on this 26th page of Chapter 7 in my Opportunity book of life – not exactly my blogiversary date – I  am astonished at how far I’ve come, but I’m more grateful for those who’ve traveled with me on this journey:

  • for my family who always encourages me to write (special thanks to hubby who often patiently listens to my posts while I read them aloud to catch any errors);
  • for the friends who personally know me and read my work, spurring me on with kind words of support (you are great cheerleaders!);
  • for my new friends, my faithful readers, and fellow bloggers (your comments and your blogs inspire me and I appreciate them so very much);
  • for my Lord Jesus Christ who graciously gave me a gift which I must use for His glory and for allowing me to “see” through His eyes as I write.

So Happy Blogaversary to all of us! If I could, I’d share my chocolates with every one of you for the entire month of July! ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” ~ Virginia Woolf

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com