I have to be perfectly honest. This week’s photo challenge theme?
I had to look up the word to ensure the definition in my mind was correct. It’s just not a word I use in my daily life and I don’t even think I’ve ever used it in my writing.
Evanescent. Isn’t it an interesting word? A fancy way to say something is likely to vanish. Describe something fleeting. Transitory.
Much of this world can be categorized that way. We are surrounded by aspects which change so quickly and soon vanish. That green grass out there in my yard? In just a few months, the color will turn to brown and won’t reappear until spring comes again. Transitory.
The beautifully lush peony bushes surrounding my backyard deck and covered with bountiful buds? They will burst forth in a fanciful deep pink array, exude their lovely aroma, and then the petals will fall and they will be gone. Fleeting.
Short-lived. Just like that elusive fame that so many wish to attain. Why else would we hear that saying – he had his 15 minutes of fame – bantered about? Because fame can be so short-lived. Likely to vanish.
Even our lives can be portrayed that way. We’re only on earth for a short time in the grand scope of existence. Some of us inhabit this earth for only a few years, some for a half century or longer, and some fortunate ones may live until they are 100.
But our one life here is evanescent. Vanishing. Fleeting. Transitory. Short-lived.
My Bible tells me: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14
And that verse reminds me once again of one of my favorite contemporary Christian songs by Casting Crowns.
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I’m calling
Lord, you catch me when I’m falling
And you’ve told me who I am
I am yours.
We humans are evanescent, but the God of the universe is not. We are here today, gone tomorrow. But the Creator of all is not. We are temporary. He is permanent.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8
That’s why I never cease to be amazed that God, the Lord of all creation, the great I AM, the Alpha and Omega (the Beginning and the End), the One who is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present/all-seeing), and omnipotent (all-powerful), cares about evanescent me and you.
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?
Not because of who I am
But because of what you’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who you are.
Minister Charles Stanley wrote in his book, Turning the Tide: Real Hope, Real Change: “Hope founded upon a human being, a man-made philosophy or any institution is always misplaced. Why? Because these things are unreliable and fleeting. They do not last. Rather, to be genuine and enduring, our confidence and hope must be rooted in God and His eternal purposes. You see, the Lord desires for us to base our faith on what is sure, immovable, unchangeable, and unending. So our Savior, Jesus, gives us the one thing that can never be taken away – everlasting life. Imperishable. Undefiled. Unfading. This is true hope – the unshakable confidence and assurance Jesus offers us.”
As alluring as the fixations of this world are whether they be fame or fortune, recognition or ratings, admiration or accomplishments, I don’t want to place my hope in those evanescent things.
Instead, with each moment of time I have on this earth, I place my hope in the Everlasting One who knows my name and I appreciate each evanescent occurrence that He sends my way.
Excuse me while I step outside and breathe in the aroma of blooming peonies.
“Right now a moment of time is fleeting by! Capture its reality… become the moment.” ~ Paul Cerzanne
It’s been ages since I’ve received a blogging award. Back in the first few years of writing after launching Mama’s Empty Nest, several awards from fellow bloggers came my way.
Some bloggers don’t accept these peer awards, and while I certainly respect their decision, I think that if someone takes the time to read my blog and wants to gift me some kind of accolade, I should be gracious and accept it.
Recently, a new and lovely reader/fellow blogger from South Australia, Lyn Durante, nominated me for the Awesome Blogger Award. I had to place that nomination on the back burner of my blogging routine due to some time constraints, but I didn’t forget her graciousness and wanted to publicly acknowledge that. Thank you, Lyn, for thinking so highly of my blog!
According to this new friend, the Awesome Blogger Award was created by Miss Maggie at Dreaming of Guatemala. Here’s her description of the award straight from her blog:
“This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.
Here are the rules of the award:
And now it’s time to answer the 10 questions Lyn gave me. Questions are in bold print; my answers in italics.
Now comes the hard part, nominating five bloggers, because there are so many wonderful bloggers out there in cyperspace. Several of the blogs I follow have chosen to be award-free, so I know while they are appreciative, they will not participate.
So I’m going to deviate a bit from the rules (yikes, a rule breaker I generally am NOT!) and nominate four and ask you, my readers, to help me out by nominating the fifth blogger for this award. You can even nominate yourself if you’d like! My nominees are:
Here is my list of 10 questions for the nominees:
Whether you pass the award on or not, if you are a fellow blogger and loyal reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, I think YOU are awesome!
My heritage runs deep here – this place outside of a small town in this particular state.
This place where both my parents were born and their parents and their parents…and so on…and so on.
This place where I can travel down the road about four miles or so and visit not only my parents’ grave site, but also those of some of my ancestors.
We can trace my ancestry back to the 1600’s and 1700’s when my predecessors arrived in the “New World” and eventually settled here. I’m not an avid genealogist like some folks are, but I do enjoy knowing where and from whom I came.
My father was the keeper of that sort of information and long before he passed away, he fashioned a notebook for each of his three daughters containing family history. Included were copies of old photos and a family tree for both sides of his and my mother’s families with birth and death dates.
What’s missing though are the family stories of those who came before me. Those I only know by name and vital statistics. Those who were my great-grandparents and ancestors even further back. I know when they were born and when they left this earth, but I don’t know much else about them.
What kind of folks were they? What did they do for a living? How important was faith to them? What color were their hair, eyes, etc.? Did they have dreams for their children that were bigger than ones they had for themselves? Did they have any musical or artistic talent? What was their favorite food? Did they vote? And what interesting stories could be told about their lives?
This week’s photo challenge theme is heritage.
And I wish I knew more about mine. If only I had had the forethought to ask my parents more questions about our family heritage before they passed away, although what they knew was probably a little sparse since their grandparents were deceased when they were young.
Just like mine. All of my grandparents were gone by the time I passed my 10th birthday.
What was my grandma’s favorite color? I don’t know. All I do know is a relatively small cache of memories I have of my mother’s parents since my grandfather died the same year as grandma. But I remember Grandma when I pull out her handmade quilt that still emits an aroma that reminds me of her and sometimes causes me to shed a few tears.
My paternal grandmother died when I was an infant, so all I have are photos of her, no memories. My paternal grandfather passed when Dad was just a baby, so he had no memories of him either, just a couple of photos.
What exactly did grandpa do with his carpentry skills? I don’t know. But I do know his wooden tool box now gathers dust in my basement and I’ve contemplated what I should do with it.
Heritage is important to preserve, especially for our children and grandchildren. Perhaps one day, our grandchildren will reminisce and wonder more about their Nana and Papa.
But I still want to leave a heritage for them anyway. Not just one of the items we owned or one with special significance, but our life stories as well or the tale that accompanies a particular item that has been passed down from one generation to the next.
Several years ago, Papa and I moved our family of five back here to the homeland when my mother was dying of cancer. Prior to our move and as a farewell gift, a sweet friend presented a book, entitled “A Grandparent’s Book,” to me.
Questions written as if a grandchild were asking them fill the book with spaces for handwritten answers. I’m grateful now that I took the time to ask both my mother and father to complete it before they passed away, although I realized later that Dad didn’t finish it all.
Reading through it provides a little insight into my parents’ lives from young children through adulthood, but it still lacks the sweetness and poignancy of those family stories.
I too completed the blanks in a spiral bound book for my children called “A Parent’s Book,” but again, it lacks the in-depth picture you gain from listening to someone’s history in person, told in their own voice, from their own memories.
I once read somewhere that when we die we become stories in the minds of other people, but what happens when those stories aren’t passed down?
Our heritages are lost when they aren’t recorded or at least written down. In some cases I suppose even the written accounts are lost when descendants find them unimportant and toss them in the trash bin.
So I think it’s vital to share the value of family history with our children and grandchildren.
Because someday, when they are mature in years and their forbears are long gone, they may wonder, “Did Nana ever write a blog and what on earth did she ever write about?”
“How will our children know who they are if they do not know where they came from?” ~ Unknown
Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard once wrote: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Just yesterday morning, I visited for a short time with one of my dearest, long-time friends. The one who’s constantly in my prayers because of her serious health diagnosis about a year ago and her latest brush with a dire emergency that almost cost her life.
Since she was in the area for a short visit with her mother, we sat in my friend’s childhood home on the same living room couch where we spent many hours in the past chatting with one another as young girls, teenagers, and young adults. If the seat cushions of that couch could talk, they would divulge countless stories of our times together upon them.
Often when my friend and I converse, we spend much of the time reflecting. And yesterday was no exception. In many ways, my visit reflected the past, the way life used to be.
And since I brought my Little One (granddaughter) along with me, we glanced at even more reflections of our childhoods past when my wee one played with some old toys that have called this place home for numerous years.
As we were leaving, we walked outside onto the front porch to say our farewells. And that’s when Little One spotted my friend’s mom’s bright green gazing ball resting on a pedestal in the yard.
Little One was absolutely fascinated by it and laughed at her own reflection in the ball. Over and over again. And then at our reflections as well, going round and round the shiny orb never taking her eyes off of those images she spied within it.
It’s ironic that this week’s photo challenge theme is reflecting when I’ve been ruminating over that word – one which evokes a couple of meanings in my mind. Of course, there’s the obvious one of an image being mirrored. And then there’s the one that connotes thinking or seriously considering.
Like thinking of and seriously considering the past. Similar to my little one circling that gazing ball, often my mind goes round and round those reflections of times gone by. Over and over again.
Reflections of the way we used to be.
And that phrase prompts the ongoing radio in my mind to play an old song by The Supremes:
Through the mirror of my mind
Time after time
I see reflections of you and me
The way life used to be
The love you took from me
And even though that song expresses a sad tale of lost love, happiness ripped away, and painful reflection, I find valuable reminders in those lyrics.
Through the mirror of my mind
Through these tears that I’m crying
Reflects a hurt I can’t control
‘Cause although you’re gone
I keep holding on
To the happy times
Oh, when you were mine
Isn’t that how we so often view yesteryear? We attempt to remember only the pleasant moments and the joyous occasions when we reflect on times past. We keep holding onto those memories and that helps us through the present.
And that’s how my friend and I recall our childhoods. Contented times, hours of fun playing together as children, sharing secrets and dreams as teenage girls do. Easy times of no responsibilities, no earth-shattering worries or occurrences, an idyllic age really.
Through the hollow of my tears
I see a dream that’s lost
Reflecting back now as adults, many of our hopes and dream for the future did not come to fruition, but some did. And we both have had a blessed life, but not one without struggles and difficulties. This last year, my friend’s life has been a complete upheaval.
In you I put
All my faith and trust
Right before my eyes
My world has turned to dust
In one consultation with her doctor, my friend’s world seemed to turn to dust. And it just kept splintering into pieces, one experience after another sawing its way through her strength leaving mounds of accumulating sawdust.
Procedures, medications, treatments, hospital stays, medical emergencies, more hospital stays, therapies, home health nurse visits. At one point, when I sat beside my lifelong friend in the hospital, she confided her weariness over not having a normal life.
But here’s where my friend and I differ vastly from the song lyrics. Because instead of putting our faith and trust in another person (because honestly, we humans do let one another down often), we put our faith and trust in God. All of our faith. All of our trust.
Because He never forsakes us. Never lets us down. Never stops loving us. He is the Great Physician. The Healer. The Savior. The Lover of our souls and Listener to our prayers. The One who is granting my lifelong friend’s desire to start to feel “normal again.”
So instead of singing “reflections of the way life used to be,” I believe I will change the song lyrics to “reflections of the way life needs to be; reflections of the love God has for me.” And for my cherished friend.
“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ~ Charles Dickens
Remember back in grade school when the teacher would give an assignment to create an acrostic?
You wracked your brain trying to compose a poem or some type of composition where you used the first letters of a name or word to form a line of other words describing the vertical word or name.
Like the one I composed above. Thoughts of MOTHER – Memories Of The Happy times Easily Remembered.
Mother’s Day is slated on the calendar for this coming Sunday. And as usual, this holiday honoring our moms always brings forth a tidal wave of memories for me.
This month marks a very special page in my book, not just because of Mother’s Day but because three special women in my life were born during the merry month of May.
One was my own mother. Another was Papa’s (my husband’s) mother. And the third was my first child, who being born just 45 minutes before it actually became Mother’s Day, bestowed the title of mother upon me.
So once May rolls around on the yearly calendar, sweet memories always leisurely float their way to the surface of the ocean of my mind.
Memories like my mother fixing a tiny tea party for a childhood friend and myself when I was around four years of age and the scent of fresh, clean soap when my mother held me close.
Memories of my mother-in-law, who was more of a mother-in-love and herself the mom of three sons, confiding to me that she considered me her daughter and the surprising day she gifted a ring, given to her by my father-in-law and one she wore each day, to me.
Memories of holding my first sweet-smelling baby in the labor and delivery recovery room after giving birth and listening as my brand new daughter immediately stopped crying when the nurse placed her on my chest next to my wildly beating and excited heart.
Memories. Happy, joyous times but also bittersweet moments as well.
Memories like the one of my beloved mother lying in her hospital room succumbing to that dreaded disease – cancer – and me being the last one to leave her side one evening. As I leaned over and kissed the cheek of the one who had held and kissed me in comfort and love so many times before, she lovingly took my hand in hers and whispered in my ear, “Pray for me.”
Memories of one last long-distance phone call to my dear mother-in-law as she soon would breathe her last breath. And the question, which was most pressing on her wandering mind, for me: “When are you coming home?”
Memories of bringing my little one into this world without my husband by my side while he was serving his country in a land on the other side of the globe. And memories of that sweet, tiny baby growing up into the loveliest of daughters, setting off on life’s adventures far away from her home and her mama.
Memories that make me smile. Memories that make me laugh. And yes, memories that make tears well up in my eyes and cause a catch in my throat. They all are memories of motherhood.
“The best things you can give children, next to good habits, are good memories.” ~ Sydney J. Harris
It lurks out there…everywhere.
It may be in the form of a blood-thirsty shark just cruising along the shoreline looking for its next victim. That is, if you believe the plot in the old movie, Jaws.
It may be in the dark.
Or in the woods.
Or maybe right next door.
It may be in the form of a horrific natural event like a tornado, a hurricane, a tsunami.
Or in climate change.
Or maybe just a snowstorm in your neighborhood, so run out quickly beforehand and grab up the milk, bread, and toilet paper.
It may be in the form of nuclear weapons aimed at your country.
Or in the politics of the land.
Or maybe in your own home.
It’s danger. And the world’s a dangerous place. Or so, some would have us believe. Every day it seems we’re bombarded with the message that it’s dangerous just to exist on this planet. I see and hear it on the television, on the radio, read it in print media and on the internet.
It’s dangerous, I tell you! Be afraid. Be fearful. Wring your hands and cry, “What is this world coming to?”
It’s this week’s photo challenge – Danger! – and it reminds me of a science fiction TV show I used to watch as a kid called Lost in Space.
In it, the Robinson family were space travelers whose spaceship was sabotaged causing them to land in a different universe where danger always lurked. And there was a trusty robot to alert them to peril at every turn by droning, “Warning, warning” and “Danger, danger!”
Seems like the robots are still out there. Warning, warning! Danger, danger!
To be certain, there are real and present dangers. That’s a part of life. But we can’t live this life constantly in fear. You know what President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in the midst of the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Fear is crippling and makes us indecisive. Realizing true danger should cause us to take action, not just freeze in fear. I know how that happens. Many years ago when Papa and I were newlyweds and living in rattlesnake country, we were walking on a wooded path when a snake slithered out in front of us. I totally froze to my spot in fear and literally could not move, could not run to safety, could not even think fast enough to react.
And you know what I needed? Help from another human being. I needed my husband to grab my arm and pull me to safety with him.
Whether great danger lurks ahead of me, I have no way of knowing. Whether all of the danger cited now days is real, I also have no way of knowing for certain. But I do know this: often times danger comes from ourselves, from our evil hearts and minds.
And I hope and pray that when and if threat comes our way, we spring into action to help one another through whatever we must face or endure.
I hope our hearts are open and our actions unselfish because really, we are one big family. The family of humanity. And if we can’t help our fellow humans in perilous times or circumstances, we really are doomed to danger.
“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” ~ Pope John Paul II
Three years have passed since I snapped the photo above. The lighting was dim and I only had my small digital point and shoot camera with me, but I wanted to capture the moment for later.
I stored that photo in my desktop computer archives and a blog post idea away with it. And then as it always does, time has a way of passing by. And writing ideas have a way of being shoved back to the recesses of my brain where they may or may not be retrieved.
The calendar pages have flipped over to the month of May already and a brand new month found me without any good, solid concepts to write about. So I did what I normally do when I stare at a blank computer screen in an effort to produce a post, I open up my photo library and start viewing pictures I’ve captured but may have forgotten about.
And there it was. A photo of an elderly gentleman from our church showing my sister and me his handmade violin. Three years ago this month.
Much has transpired in those three years as this kind, gentle, soft-spoken man, a farmer by trade but a talented musician and skilled woodworker passed away this year.
But let me take you back to the evening this photo was taken.
Every year, our church holds a mother-daughter banquet in May. My sister and I usually attend and sometimes, if her daughter-in-law and grandgirls and my daughter and grandgirl can make it, they come along.
But three years ago, my daughter lived away from home and our grandgirl was just a whimsical thought, a gift waiting to be given to us a year later.
So my sister had a wonderful idea when it came time for the mother-daughter dinner. Since our own mother and mothers-in-law had passed away many years before and our girls couldn’t join us, it would just be the two of us attending the banquet.
Sister’s thoughtful idea was to call a sweet, elderly lady in our church who had never married and, of course, had no children to join us for the banquet. This dear woman was in her 90’s then and relied on her brother (the fiddler) or other relatives to transport her places, so we arranged to pick her up at her family farmstead to ride with us to the church hall.
I remember when sister called Esther to invite her, she replied that she wasn’t a mother. Sis told her but she was a daughter and she could be our mother for the evening since ours was in heaven. Esther agreed to come.
We traveled down the country lane to her home and helped her climb into my sister’s vehicle. At the banquet, Esther was all smiles, as she usually was, and I do believe she truly enjoyed herself. Afterwards, we drove her back home and she really wanted us to come into the house for a little visit.
We sat at her kitchen table and talked over days gone by, and relatives now long gone, and Esther told the story of how we were distantly related and how her mother and our grandmother were great friends.
Her brother Paul sat with us and shared his stories too and we had a chuckle over the old tale of how he got his name when he was born. One of his older brothers, yet a child, had asked his mother to bestow our mother’s name, Pauline, upon the new arrival. Well, the new arrival was a boy so their mother agreed to name him Paul.
I shared how well I remembered this musical family playing their instruments at church when I was just a little girl. Each one of their siblings had God-given musical talent. And that’s when Paul got up from his kitchen chair and left the room, returning with a weathered violin case.
He opened it and showed us a lovely violin, one of his own making. He even tuned it up a little and played a bit for us. I marveled at the fact that he had handmade the instrument and how nicely it sounded.
It was one of those sweet little moments in life you try not to forget. When you know in your heart that you’ve done the right thing just by taking the time to spend an evening conversing with two elderly, and possibly lonely, folks of the older generation.
Both Esther and Paul are gone now, but the memory lingers. And I’m so glad to have the photos to remind me of that warm, spring evening in May.
“The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.” ~ English Proverb