When it comes to Mother’s Day remembrances, certain recollections float to the surface of the deep pool of my memory.
My mother’s birthday was also in May so that merry month brought more than one day of celebrating Mom. I always associated May with flowers because often times we would purchase flats of flowers for Mom’s Mother’s Day gift which she would plant in her flower gardens.
Mom loved to garden and she loved her flowers. There were always perennials in bloom in several areas around our yard and she delighted in the annuals she placed in one flower garden, the one with the pretty bird bath in the center.
When I was young, Mother’s Day began with attending church which would be packed with families all lined up in the pews with their proud mamas. We ladies, young and old, wore flower corsages on Mother’s Day to show honor to our mothers.
In our community, you wore a white corsage if your mother was no longer living and a pink or red one if you were still blessed to have your mother with you. I remember the day my mom wore a white carnation corsage to church because her mother had passed away the previous year. And even though I was small, I proudly wore my pink carnation.
My first Mother’s Day was truly remarkable. Forty-five minutes before midnight the night before Mother’s Day arrived, my first-born daughter arrived in this world. Her daddy, a military man, was stationed all the way across the world when she arrived, but even that couldn’t thwart my joy about becoming a mother for the first time just in time for that special occasion.
I became a mother twice again and each time that joy increased. Mother’s Day became even sweeter than before. Out of all my accomplishments in life, becoming a mother has been the most fulfilling which came as a complete surprise to me because as a young college girl I had proudly proclaimed I wasn’t going to have children. Oh, the follies of youth.
My own mother passed away from cancer over 17 years ago. Just four months prior to that, my mother-in-law, who I loved, admired, and honored for raising the fine man my husband became, also passed away.
Mother’s Day that year was so very difficult. I didn’t want to celebrate this special occasion. I opted out of the annual Mother-Daughter dinner held at our church. I just couldn’t even begin to think about the day with any joy.
My wise and caring father asked me why I wasn’t attending the mother-daughter event and I told him I couldn’t. I didn’t want to watch all of the happy ladies sitting and enjoying their time with their mothers when I had lost my own.
His reply surprised me and I’ve never forgotten his words. He told me he knew the anguish I felt losing my mom. He had felt that way too when his own mother passed away. He said he understood the grief is so difficult and that losing your mother felt like losing a part of yourself.
But his next remark was the one that will stay in my thoughts as long as I have memory. He said, “But, you must celebrate Mother’s Day because you are a mother. You have three children who love you and you celebrate this day for them.”
He was so very right. As my dad often was.
So even though there is a tinge of sadness in me when Mother’s Day rolls around on the calendar, I celebrate that day because I am a mother. I am blessed with three incredible adult children. I am loved and respected and honored by those three.
This year Mother’s Day brought another first. It was the first time I shared the day with one of my daughters who celebrated her very first Mother’s Day as a mother to our precious granddaughter.
Papa cut a sprig of fragrant lilac from the bush in our yard and he and I helped our sweet grandbaby awaken her mommy with a card and little gift for her very first Mother’s Day celebration.
My first Mother’s Day as a grandmother will be added to that memory pool with joy and contentment. And the knowledge of being privileged to spend it with my daughter and adorable grandbaby.
Even though my other children couldn’t be here to share this special day, I know they were thinking of me. Their love arrived in phone calls, cards, and beautiful flowers.
And love surely was expressed in my granddaughter’s smiles and coos.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” ~Unknown
Life. There are intricacies in this world we live in that even with all the advances made in science, we still do not comprehend.
Intricate is the theme for this week’s photo challenge and I notice complex items everywhere I look. My trusty dictionary defines intricate as “having many complexly arranged elements and difficult to solve or comprehend.”
Consider nature. Look closely at a blooming flower. Real close. What do you see? Intricacy.
Consider man-made items. Even the simplest of these took an inventive, creative mind to create or form or fashion. An intricate plan.
Consider our human bodies. Each and every aspect must work perfectly together to sustain life in our human form. If that’s not intricate, I don’t know what is.
Scads of people think all of this intricacy just happened. Boom. The Big Bang. And that we humans came to exist through evolution.
I’m not one of those. When I seriously consider the intricacy of the world around me, I cannot believe the multifaceted inner workings of a blossom or the ability to build an amazing machine or the astounding ways our human bodies work was just an accident. I cannot believe those aspects of life just simply happened on their own.
No, I believe there is a Master Designer. I believe that He exists and His knowledge and power and majesty go beyond anything our human minds can comprehend.
I believe God created all things.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:1
And that includes us humans with our intricate bodies and our complex minds.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” ~ Psalm 139:14
And I simply choose to believe each time I contemplate this life in this intricate world created by the author of intricacy, an intricate God.
“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.” ~ William Sharp, Scottish Poet, 1855-1905
The sun arises, weaves its light through my window blinds, and I awaken.
I roll over, glance at the clock, and determine whether it’s time to climb out of bed or not. Once out of bed, my day commences. And it follows a certain routine. Shower, dress, eat breakfast, and sit down with that cup of hot tea to contemplate what order of the day there shall be.
Day after day. There’s a certain familiarity to a routine. To having a schedule to follow. Or not.
We breathe in and out without even being aware of the body’s need for oxygen. We consume food for the body’s nourishment and liquid refreshment for its thirst, often times not even remembering what we ate or drank.
We work. We play. We are awake. We are asleep. It happens each day. It’s called living. Or is it?
Oh, the days may vary. One may be filled with much busyness either at work, home, or away. One may be quiet and restful. One may unfold as planned; one may veer so far astray and awry that we find ourselves in distress.
But yet… we continue on. Putting one foot in front of the other. Doing what is necessary. Going through the motions. Living another day, another month, another year, another decade if we’re given that privilege.
Once again the weekly photo challenge prompts me to delve deeper. The theme is “motion” this week and I have several photos that could easily depict this concept. But I deliberately chose one that demonstrates motion as a blur. Because isn’t that how life sometimes feels? Like one big blur. Like each day just runs into the next and nothing about life feels extraordinary.
It’s just motion, going through the motions. Motion keeps us going. Motion keeps us moving forward, but sometimes it propels us backwards too. Motion is good, isn’t it?
I’m reminded of a certain television commercial for a medication that is supposed to help those stricken with arthritis. You know the one which says “a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” I’m certainly not a student of physics, but I do remember that Sir Isaac Newton detailed three laws of motion although I sure don’t claim to understand them.
Instead my thoughts today are that staying ‘in motion’ isn’t always a beneficial thing. You see, going through the motions each and every day just doesn’t seem to be really living, at least it appears that way to me.
And I find that I easily slip into that mode of operation…that going through the motions. In fact, I do it all the time and it causes me to become complacent, apathetic, and just downright bored. I do this in all aspects of my life, my work, my writing, and yes, even in my church.
Just going through the motions isn’t cutting it for me. I don’t want a life merely living one day after another without meaning to it. And for me, meaning and purpose and my very existence is tied up in one bundle – my walk with my Lord. My own personal journey of faith. But I find I’ve even been going through the motions there.
Pondering this while sorting through my photographs for this theme of motion, my mind kept returning to a song, The Motions, by Christian music artist Matthew West. His lyrics kept cycling through my thoughts over and over.
“This might hurt, it’s not safe, but I know that I’ve gotta make a change. I don’t care if I break. At least I’ll be feeling something.
‘Cause just okay is not enough. Help me fight through the nothingness of life.
I don’t wanna go through the motions. I don’t wanna go one more day. Without Your all consuming passion inside of me.
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking, what if I had given everything instead of going through the motions?”
If you’ve never heard the song, you can listen and see West’s story by clicking here:
I imagine there is a plethora of self-help kind of messages, both in printed form via books and on the internet, about not settling for a life of going through the motions.
No doubt those life coach gurus tell us to not settle for the mundane, the same old same old. Instead I’m sure they urge us to grab life by the collar and go for the gusto. You only have so much limited time in your day, in your life, so go out and try something new. Take up hang-gliding! Shake things up! Live your best life now!
But for me, my guidebook for life isn’t found in some positive living mantra. My guidebook is God’s Holy Word. And my Bible says this: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” ~ Ephesians 5:14-17
Wake up! That’s what my Bible tells me. Wake up from this coma-like trance of life you’ve fallen into…this going through the motions of living.
And I must be careful not to focus on me, my self-centered way of living, which is foolish and accomplishes nothing for the Kingdom of God. Asking for God’s wisdom and guidance in how to live a life of meaning, my daily task is to accept the opportunities that I am given to make a difference in another’s life. A real difference. A difference between life eternal by accepting the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ or a death everlasting by rejecting Him.
How I live my life speaks volumes to others. It’s not just about my words, it’s about my actions. And if I’m just living a life going through the motions, how can I witness about my faith to those around me? I can’t.
I might as well just stand still. And be motionless.
I don’t want to go through the motions. I don’t want to go one more day without passion for my Savior.
“Too many sit at the banquet table of the gospel of Jesus Christ and merely nibble at the feast placed before them. They go through the motions – attending their meetings perhaps, glancing at scriptures, repeating familiar prayers – but their hearts are far away.” ~ Joseph Wirthlin
Afloat. That’s the theme of this week’s WordPress photo challenge. And I find that these photo challenges so often parallel what’s going on in my life at the time or they light a spark of inspiration for me to gather up the words rambling around in my mind, gather them up like the first fruits of the garden to savor and put to good use for nourishment.
But I’ve been on a writing break and inspiration eludes me for several reasons. I’m not convinced that I’m truly ready to take up the mantle of writing again yet, but this photo challenge did prompt me to peruse some of the photos in my cache where I came upon this one.
If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you will know that pictures often inspire my words. I’m very visual. Photographs speak to me. The photo I’ve chosen here does that.
This isn’t a recent photo. It was taken on a river cruise one day last summer on my 60th birthday with some of my family gathered around me. It was a highlight of the year, a most enjoyable beautiful day. And I floated along on those warm and loving feelings of that day for longer than the cruise lasted.
I’m still floating but in a different way today. One might say that if you’re afloat, you’re ‘at sea.’ And that’s where I currently am. I’m at sea. I’m not writing. I’m not feeling creative or inspired. I’m just maintaining…going about my daily business, one foot in front of the other…yes, I am staying afloat.
And my life jacket keeps me bobbing in the water. My flotation device provides that buoyancy. Otherwise, I would surely sink.
What keeps me afloat in times like these? My Savior. My Jesus. My Lifeline. The one who said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” ~ John 7:38
I read something once and don’t remember the author but the gist of it was that when there’s a big storm, ships don’t move forward, they just stay afloat so when one is caught in a ‘storm,’ you shouldn’t worry about getting ahead. Just stay afloat and get through. That sounds like good advice to me.
So I’ll just stay afloat and wait. And sooner or later, my writing voice will be heard again. Will you wait with me?
But I float on the bosom of faith, that bears me along like a river; And the lamp of my soul is alight with love for life, and the world, and the Giver.” ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Fresh. That’s what I think when I smell the air outside my country home. Fresh with a tinge of spring. Whether it’s the rain that washes away all the dirty, grungy leftovers of a snowy winter or the sunshine that peeks its way through the clouds overhead, the air smells fresh.
But that’s not the only thought that crosses my mind when I think about something fresh. And I have been thinking this week about the weekly photo challenge theme – fresh – in between blowing my nose and medicating a sore throat…who gets a cold at the onset of spring?
Even with slightly congested sinuses I can smell the essence of fresh. And I savor that fragrance each time I can nestle and cuddle and rock my newborn grandchild.
Freshness envelopes a house when there is a new baby in its midst. It’s in the scent of that downy little head. It’s in the odor of her sweet milky breath just after her mama nurses her. And it’s in her soft kissable fingers and toes.
And the laundry. Those tiny sleepers and booties and blankets and bath towels. They all exude the smell of fresh. The whiff of Dreft baby detergent perfumes each bit of cloth that swaddles that adorable little baby girl. It’s an aroma I had almost forgotten but now cherish once again.
Welcoming a grandchild is like gathering a bouquet of freshness. And I love it but more than that, my heart swells with fresh, new love for her and thankfulness for the blessing our adorable Emma Grace is to our family.
“I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” ~ Charles Dickens
I’m not saying Michael Jordan is a great philosopher. Or a wise sage. Or an inspirational guru. But I will say this: that quote I found that’s attributed to him speaks to me right now.
You see, I’ve hit a wall. I’ve been away from blogging for about a month. I haven’t written a darn thing in that entire time. Oh, I was busy. I spent the better part of a month at my daughter’s home helping with my adorable and precious new grand-baby, cleaning, laundering, cooking, etc. Frankly, I didn’t have time to write.
But I’m home now, back in the empty nest and even though there’s plenty to do, my camera is laden with photos galore, and my computer sits idle, I can’t think of a thing to say. I’m not sure if it’s that I’m exhausted in many ways, or that my emotions have been on high alert, or that I just am speechless right now, but I’ve hit the wall hard.
It’s not a brick wall because if it were, I’m fairly certain I have the willpower to knock it down – yeah, I’m strong-willed like that. No, this wall is different. It’s fluid. It swallows me up. It causes me to drift away. It ebbs and flows. It sucks me into its whirlpool effect. And it’s drowning my words.
The photo above seems to be a perfect representation for how I’m feeling and for this past week’s photo challenge theme: Wall.
I took the photo during the long wait outside the labor and delivery department in the hospital while my grand-daughter was making her entry into this world.
It was around two in the morning and a running water sculpture encased in glass kept grabbing my attention while we waited…and waited…and waited. It just kept running and bubbling along ticking off the hours as we patiently anticipated our first grandchild’s birth.
I snapped the photo because I needed something to occupy my time and I thought the water ‘wall’ would make an interesting photo.
I never thought it would describe exactly how I’m feeling right now nor did I imagine it would personify a photo challenge.
But I do know one thing. Eventually, I’ll push my way through the wall, even if I have to do the backstroke. My words will come back. I’ll rise to the surface and be able to express all the joy and love that is captive in my heart. And I’ll be writing again.
“A boundary is not that at which something stops, but that from which something begins.” ~ Martin Heidegger