You know that old proverb? The early bird catches the worm. Well, I wasn’t an early bird but I did ‘catch’ a worm with my trusty camera.
Yesterday about mid-morning, I stepped outside my front door onto the porch just to get a breath of fresh air and see how cold it was. Dreary, rainy, and overcast, the weather assaulted me and I noticed rain the night before had splashed up onto our covered concrete porch.
Since I never wear shoes inside my house, just my socks clothed my feet as I stood on the cold cement. And I don’t know what caused me to look down but I did.
And there it was. An eight-inch earthworm. What we call a fishing worm since they often are used for bait. A nightcrawler. I noticed smaller versions scattered on our sidewalk but this one was the king daddy of them all. Watching him inch his way slowly on the porch floor, I also realized that the smaller worms weren’t moving. They were really worm cadavers. Eww.
Earthworms used to cause me to shudder because a childhood friend would often pick them up from the ground, chase me, and throw the slimy things on me while I ran and screamed. I’ve overcome that as an adult since these creatures don’t make me bolt in terror anymore but still…don’t throw one on me.
That was my first thought.
My second thought – truly I wonder how my mind works and brings up such crazy memories but here goes – was a silly childhood song we used to sing in elementary school called the ‘hearse song.’ I’m sorry if I turn your stomach on this one, but the lyrics are as follows:
“The next time you see a hearse go by, don’t laugh or you may be the next one to die. They wrap you up in a clean, white sheet and bury you under six feet deep. The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout. Then one little worm who isn’t so shy crawls in your ear and comes out your eye. You turn a terrible, terrible green and pus comes out like whipping cream. You take the cream and spread your bread and that is what you eat when you’re dead.”
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It was elementary school and you know how kids often love gross things – like earthworms.
Then the third thought entered my quirky mind. That worm mindlessly crawling on my front porch is kind of lost. A good three or four feet away from any soil, it just ever so slowly moved on a barren field of cement. Would it ever find its way back where it belonged?
Song lyrics entered my mind with my next thought and the words to an old hymn played in my head.
Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away…
It’s true you know. We are worms. We think we’re on solid footing, in familiar surroundings, just doing our own thing, satisfying self, then whoa. We slam on the brakes and look around and think to ourselves, ‘How in the world did I get here?’ In this slimy pit, in this place of despair, in this mire of sin.
We stray. We meander. We take a path that we thought would lead us exactly where we wanted to go but find we are sorely mistaken.
Out of our element. Perhaps even out of control. Down in the dirt, worms that we are.
Not all of us can claim to be like Winston Churchill who is quoted as saying, “We are all worms, but I do believe that I am a glow-worm.”
No, often I am not a glow-worm shedding light and goodness wherever I go. Instead, I’m just a lowly worm, a struggling human inching my way along on a path I wish I hadn’t chosen.
Times like that make me so very thankful that I don’t have to be in control of this world or even my very own. I worship and trust in the God who created the universe and knows exactly how to keep everything under control. Because He reigns over all. Because He knows each and every tidbit about every single one of us, glowing report or not, and He still loves us with an unfailing love.
And He knows how to lead me back to where He wants me to be on a path more loving, more kind, more gracious. I just have to listen and follow and come to the cross to have my burdens rolled away.
I don’t have to search willy-nilly to find my way like that earthworm,which had totally disappeared when I stepped outside onto my porch just 15 minutes later.
Worm that I am, God still loves me and never leaves me stranded alone. He promises that even though our earthly bodies turn to food for the worms once they have met their demise, there is more to come if we make just one trip to the cross of salvation.
There we lay down our burdens of sin and accept His gift of grace, His Son Jesus, the One who loved us beyond measure, enough to die for us on that old rugged cross. Because of that, the Author of life will provide us a much better edition in heaven.
Then I will glow but will no longer be a worm.
“The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer, (Like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stript of its lettering and gilding), Lies here, food for worms; But the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the author.” ~ Benjamin Franklin’s epitaph which he wrote for himself in 1728.
I’m in a New York state of mind.
That was my first thought when I read that this week’s Word Press photo challenge theme was ‘state of mind.’ Of course song lyrics to that old Billy Joel song would dance through my brain, it’s how my quirky mind works.
But really. State of mind. Hmmm.
The ancient Greek Plutarch once said, “In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.”
Truth, right? Our words (and this week even our photos) do declare our character and disposition or nature. I’ve often said that rude and vulgar language shows your true character just as kind and gracious language does.
So do I want to share my state of mind for this challenge in a picture and words as well? Often I’m not sure I want to share publicly the various places my mind goes.
An online dictionary defines state of mind as the “state of a person’s cognitive processes.” Well, my cognitive processes are all over the map.
In one fail swoop, my attitude can change from gracious to sassy. My perspective can be swayed by circumstances. My disposition varies from day to day. My mood often even depends on the view outside my windows – sunny equals good mood; overcast and dreary mirrors my mood.
And no, I’m not bi-polar. I’m just one of those people whose state of mind fluctuates – a lot. That’s the thing, my perspective changes frequently because I generally can see both sides of the coin. I see your point, but I see his as well. I sympathize with you, but I see where she’s coming from too.
My state of mind is my way of looking at things. If I was truly in a “New York state of mind,” I think I’d be continuously moving and busy just like that hustling, bustling famous city.
But that’s not the case. It used to be. Back when mama’s empty nest was a full house. My mindset then stayed in continuous motion.
I recall this vividly because recently I peeked inside some old yearly planners I had stashed away in a closet. Every day marked some kind of activity, event, or item to remember.
And most of those daily notations revolved around my growing children: piano, dance, swimming, or gymnastic lessons; soccer, volleyball, track, cross country, basketball, or baseball practices; appointments for doctors, dentists, or haircuts; school events like book fairs, musical concerts, PTA meetings, school carnivals and fundraisers, classroom volunteer days.
Then there was the social aspect of my children’s lives: birthday parties, sleep-overs, play dates. Scout meetings, day camps, youth group meetings. They were all duly noted in my day timer planners.
In addition to my children’s schedules, my own also proved very full. Church events, volunteer opportunities, dinner parties, lunches with friends, baby-sitting friends’ children, writing newsletters for church and parent-teacher organizations, church socials, the list continued on and on.
And you know what? It made me tired just reading it all and I honestly wondered how I managed to accomplish everything each and every day with three active children and a traveling salesman husband to boot.
As I’m approaching retirement age – 62 on my next birthday –my way of looking at things, my perspective, yes, my state of mind has changed considerably.
I like this non-New York state of mind I’m in. Granted with grandbaby in my life, it isn’t always tranquil and quiet here in the empty nest. Actually, it’s not really empty any more with daughter and grandbaby here.
But this state of mind is one I can handle in this season of life. I choose an outlook that’s bright; my approach is to be thankful and content; and my mindset is to stay focused on my faith and trust in my God.
“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” ~ Brennan Manning
It’s the first day of March, so it seems appropriate to proclaim another kind of first. Actually here at Mama’s Empty Nest, it’s been a year of firsts.
Last month, we celebrated one of those firsts – our grandbaby’s first birthday. I know it sounds trite, but truly it is hard to believe a year has come and gone since that amazing day when Papa and I became grandparents (PaPa and Nana) to our very first grandchild.
And what a year of firsts it has been ever since!
First of all, I never realized how much unconditional love can swell up inside your heart until it feels like it might just explode when you lay eyes on that first grandchild of yours. Friends who were already grandparents tried to explain it to me but I just didn’t get it…not until I held that little bundle of pure joy in my own arms.
And then there’s the firsts of watching that tiny baby becoming her own person. Every milestone a grandbaby achieves, every first from the first smile to the first step fills your heart with so much love, joy, delight, wonder, the list goes on…it’s pretty indescribable.
And being a special Nana to our little darling has exceeded my wildest expectations. When she reaches for me with her tiny little arms, I melt.
When she gives me that adorable toothy grin, I melt.
When she curls up in my lap to read a book together, I melt.
When she giggles and squeals, I melt.
When her eyes light up with excitement, I melt.
When she learns something new and we clap our hands right along with her to celebrate her achievement, I melt.
When she toddles all over the house with those cute little baby steps, I melt.
Often I just gaze at her in wonder…and I melt. And sometimes tears come to my eyes when I realize how overwhelmed I am with love for this adorable little human being.
With so many firsts crammed into this first year of baby’s life, her mama just had to celebrate by holding a first birthday party for her.
Family and friends gathered together for her ‘Winter One-derland’ celebration one Sunday afternoon in February, the month our little snowflake turned one year old. Her aunties and uncles on her mama’s side traveled from miles away just to celebrate this first birthday with the baby niece (their first) who has captivated their hearts as well.
And even though it was one frigidly cold winter day, our hearts were made warm watching baby girl dressed in her frilly pink, lavender, pale blue, and white tutu (made by her mama) enjoy her first big party in her honor.
You might say this Nana’s heart was one big melted puddle. And that wasn’t the first time.
“Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.” ~Welsh Proverb
For the first few years of marriage to the Papa of this empty nest, we lived in the southwestern plains – Oklahoma to be exact.
You know – “Ooooooooook-la-homa where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain and the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain.”
Not long after we moved there, we started hearing this saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait awhile, it will change.” I suspect a lot of folks comment that way in several areas of the country, but we did find it to be true of Oklahoma while we lived there.
You never knew when a dust storm might blow in choking you, whether you were indoors or out, or when a whirling tornado might come sweeping down those plains bringing destruction in its wake. One minute it might be warm or downright hotter than hot and the next, the wind would drive in a cold front.
And even now, all these many years later, I still talk about the weather we experienced when we lived in the Sooner State.
Weather. It’s a safe topic that people discuss when they can’t think of anything else to say. In my neck of the woods, we’ve been discussing the weather quite a bit lately. This winter season hasn’t been the norm. This year, winter fits that category of ‘if you don’t like the weather…’
One week, we might have freezing or below zero temperatures and the next week, that little red line starts soaring up the outside thermometer and registers in the 60’s. Some weeks, we’ve experienced snowfall; some weeks, rain; some weeks, nothing but sunny skies and spring-like days.
I believe we are truly blessed to experience all four seasons distinctly here in my home state and I am one of those rare souls who actually enjoys winter’s cold and snow. It’s not my most favorite season because autumn claims that spot, but winter definitely usurps summer on my list.
Why all this talk about weather? This week’s photo challenge theme is seasons. And it prompts me to think about how I weather the seasons of my life.
Seasons come and seasons go and often they just aren’t the same as the year before like we’ve noticed this winter. And isn’t that all too true in life as well? Our seasons of life differ from year to year.
Seasons of busyness. Seasons of rest. Seasons of joy. Seasons of sadness. Seasons of happiness. Seasons of trials. Seasons of tranquility. Seasons of turmoil.
It’s all a part of life. Some seasons are our favorites. Some seasons we’d rather forget. But each season – good or bad – molds me into the person that I am. I’m positive I need to be thankful for that and give all my gratitude to the One who helps me through my seasons of life.
“The coming and going of the seasons give us more than the springtimes, summers, autumns, and winters of our lives. It reflects the coming and going of the circumstances of our lives like the glassy surface of a pond that shows our faces radiant with joy or contorted with pain.” ~ Gary Zukav
I’m not much of an artsy person although I do love my photography hobby. But when it comes to fine art, I’m not very knowledgeable. And when it comes to any kind of artistic talent, I think I was absent when God handed out those gifts.
With this in mind, a couple of weeks ago I agreed to substitute for the art teacher for three days at the private academy where I lend my aid when they need me. I hoped the high school students wouldn’t expect me to know anything whatsoever about painting as that was the art form they were all working on.
As it turned out, they knew what they were doing (thank goodness because the only painting I can do is painting the walls of my house), so I needn’t have worried.
Instructions for the younger set (K-8) were simple and easy and we had a good bit of fun working on their art projects (I can do crafts somewhat and I can color up a storm).
So art…not my strong point. But when this week’s photo challenge theme of “life imitates art” arrived in my email inbox, I knew exactly which photo I would choose to demonstrate this theme.
On one of several visits to Louisville, Kentucky, we took the opportunity to view a copy of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. Although the original is on display in Paris, this bronze copy was cast in 1903 and donated to the people of Louisville by the Hillman-Hopkins family in 1949. The Thinker sits on the University of Louisville campus where we visited him.
Rodin originally named this sculpture The Poet because he created it as just one piece in his larger work, The Gates of Hell, which was based on The Divine Comedy by Dante in the 16th century. (Now this I know because my degree is in English Education.) Rodin’s The Poet represented Dante as he composed his famous epic poetry.
But over time, the sculpture became known as The Thinker and it is usually recognized as a symbol of philosophy and learning.
Our son (who does possess artistic talent) was with us on this trip and he just couldn’t pass up the chance to pose as the thinker next to the actual Thinker.
Life imitating art.
“The earth without art in it is just eh.” ~ quote on the art room bulletin board