Wednesday with words


I’m taking a little deviation from the norm on this Wednesday and posting a photo with words instead of my usual Wordless Wednesday. I agreed to the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge extended to me by my blogging buddy Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul. Thank you again, Yamina, for nominating me.

If you missed my post yesterday, click here to read more. In order to fulfill the rules of this challenge, I’d like to nominate any of my blogging friends willing to take up the gauntlet of posting three quotes for three days in a row. You don’t have to use photos like I did, just post quotes if you’d like.

Marrying my love for quotes with my photography hobby has been fun and more challenging for me.

I captured this photo near Asheville, North Carolina one summer in the early evening. I remember how well the sun’s rays radiated through the clouds in this photo and I knew it was a perfect fit for the Corrie Ten Boom quote.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian whose family hid Jews in their closet during World War 2 helping them escape from the terror of the Holocaust, spoke volumes about her faith in this quote. 

She knew firsthand how to let God’s promises overcome her problems. Both she and and her sister were imprisoned by the Nazis in a concentration camp for their actions, and at least one of her family members died in prison if I recall correctly.

“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”  ~ Dwight L. Moody



To quote or not to quote

blogDSCN0239.jpgIf you’re a regular reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you probably have noticed by now that I love quotes. My “signature” at the end of each blog post I compose includes an accompanying quote fitting the subject. 

I’ve always loved words. And I’ve always enjoyed reading other’s words especially when they invoke profound meaning or touch my heart in some way. 

That’s why I keep quotes. I truly do. I started a quotes notebook in my college days (more than 40 years ago). I have retained that old notebook, now filled with pages of handwritten quotes I’ve gathered, and open it regularly.

In between the hand-written lined pages, more inspirational sayings written on scraps of paper, are stuffed. I keep adding to my treasured notebook whenever I come across a quote that ‘speaks’ to me.

A dear friend of mine once gifted me with a book of quotations, and I have another online version of a quotation book on my Kindle app. Those three sources are my go-to when I am in need of a meaningful saying.  And if I don’t find what I’m looking for in any of those, I tap into the internet.

Last week, one of my fellow bloggers, who also uses lovely quotations in her writing, nominated me for a perfect ‘throw down’ – the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge.

So this week on Mama’s Empty Nest is going to be a bit different. Instead of publishing written posts with my own thoughts, I will combine this quote challenge with another activity I enjoy – photography.

It will kind of be like what I post on Wordless Wednesday except with words. A photo with a quotation that fits it well like my first entry above.

But first things first, I must thank my blogger friend Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul for nominating meThank you, Yamina! We have a shared love of good quotes!

Here are the rules for the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote for three consecutive days (one quote for each day).
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day.

Easy peasy except for rule number three; I struggle with that one. I know not everyone likes or wants to do these blogging challenges, so I may not be able to nominate three bloggers every day.

If I do nominate you, please don’t feel obligated to participate. You can just say “no, thank you” and I won’t be offended.

My Nominees:

  1. Dianna at These Days of Mine 
  2. Beth Ann at It’s Just Life
  3. Mother Hen at Words Like Honey 

To my readers, I hope you enjoy my responses to this challenge today, tomorrow, and Thursday.

And of course, I must sign off with yet another quote.

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” ~ Amy Poehler




Don’t sit on the cactus

blogIMG_3238I kind of take issue with cacti.

First of all, I have a problem with this species of plant. You know how lots of folks possess ‘green thumbs’ and can just grow and nurture plants so that they are beautifully healthy and vibrant?

Well, I’m not one of those. I tend to call myself a ‘black thumb.’ Not even a brown thumb –  nope,  a black thumb because every plant I’ve ever tried growing indoors succumbs to the black death. Done for. No blooming, no green leaves, nothing, nada…well, you get the picture.

And my uncanny knack of killing indoor plants even extends itself to cacti. I mean, seriously, who kills a cactus? It doesn’t need much attention. It doesn’t get too upset if you forget to water it because it isn’t a thirsty thing. It thrives under adverse conditions. Well, under my care, cacti croak. Big time. 

So I stay away from the spiny little plants that you can keep inside your home, even though some of them are kind of attractive and even bloom lovely flowers.

And I really take a wide berth around those plants when it comes to outdoor cacti. Those things are downright dangerous!

Having grown up in the northeast, I truly wasn’t too familiar with any kind of cactus until shortly after Papa and I were married. Forty years ago we moved to Oklahoma where Papa served in the military. 

We lived in the Sooner State for a few years and my sister, brother-in-law, and their family also just so happened to live a couple hours north of us. Where their ranch was located, some cacti grew on their property. 

I knew they were prickly and not to touch one lest you get stabbed by their spiky spines. Now my sis and brother-in-law were also transplants from our neck of the woods so they weren’t exactly experts on cacti either.

Before I continue this story, I must tell you right up front that my brother-in-law is like an older brother to me. He’s been a part of our family for almost as long as I can remember. And so, when I was younger, he often treated me the way you would a kid sister with teasing and joking around.

My brother-in-law, the jokester, once surprised my mom by picking her up and sitting her in the kitchen sink when she was certain he wouldn’t dare do such a thing. So he’s always been the kind of guy that could give us a good laugh.

Back to my cactus story. On a visit to see my relatives, we were all walking around their  property and noticed some flat paddle-shaped cacti growing here and there. Paddle-shaped. That must have given Brother-in-law the idea that it might be funny to pick one up and slap my backside with it, like you would use a paddle.

Oh, mercy.

What he didn’t realize was that those little hair-like profusions of spiny things sticking out on the cactus wouldn’t just give me a sharp little jab like he thought they would, but would actually penetrate my clothing and with needle-like sharp precision stick in my skin underneath my clothing, much like I imagine porcupine quills or darts would. Lots of tiny cactus spines. In my backside. Uh-huh.

He was mortified to say the least. And without exposing too much information, my sister had to utilize tweezers to relieve me of my painful affliction.

Now, you may understand why I don’t get too chummy with a cactus, no matter what it looks like.

So, back in February, Papa and I visited this same sister and brother-in-law in their new home in the Arizona desert.  Where there are lots of cacti. And some crazy plant that is called a “jumping” cactus; its real name is Jumping Cholla.

They aren’t huge things like the Saguaro and the Chollas are kind of cute. Some are even called Teddy Bear Cholla. But beware of their ‘cuteness’ because their needles are extremely sharp and have hundreds of microscopic scales.

So if you happen to walk by one and faintly brush up against it, you will be one sorry person.  The pods containing the needles detach and spring onto you and are apparently quite painful and very hard to remove.


Jumping Chollas in the Arizona desert

Ouch! Sister and Brother-in Law were careful to warn us about these scary cacti because they were fairly abundant in their area. You can be certain when we were ATV riding on desert trails, I was making darn sure no part of my body or clothing was sticking out close enough to one of those bad babies.

Of course, the old, crazy cactus paddling story came up in our conversation during our visit. And we laughed and laughed over it. Because honestly, it is funny. 

As I recall all of this, it occurs to me that I could be negative about my up close and personal encounter with a cactus all those years ago and hold it against my brother-in-law. But what purpose would that serve? He didn’t intentionally try to hurt me nor would he ever do so. I love him like he is my blood brother and I do believe he cares for me like a sister.

All of this to say that I found myself amused this week when a Facebook friend posted this quote:

“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Last Sunday morning in worship, our pastor reminded us to that to love someone as Christ loves us is to keep short accounts. To not dwell on the wrongs that have been done to you. Especially if the offender asks forgiveness, and even if he/she never does. 

When you embrace a negative attitude about your situation in life or towards another person who may truly have done something almost unforgivable to you, it just makes your own life that much more challenging. More complicated. More grueling.

Who wants that? Not me. So I’m not sitting on any cactus that comes my way. Are you?

 “Life is like a cactus, thorny but beautiful.” ~ Unknown


When you’re smiling

What makes you smile?

What is it that makes you demonstrate a certain facial expression that tells the world you’re either pleased, have affection for something, or are just plain amused by the object of your attention? What causes the corners of your mouth to turn up in a recognizable curve?

Back in the day, crooner Dean Martin sang these lyrics: “When you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you.”

Is that true? Is a smile contagious? Does a smile on my face cause a smile to emerge on yours?

I once read a Chinese proverb that proclaimed, “Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.”

That surely makes it sound like something as simple as a smile can make a huge difference in this world.

If you guessed that this past week’s Word Press photo challenge theme is smile, you can go ahead and let your face light up with a grin because you are absolutely correct.

I find it’s hard not to reciprocate when someone greets you with a big ol’ smile on his/her face. That tells me that there is something about this facial expression that is hard to keep to yourself.

Several years ago in this blog, I wrote about a little boy who gave me a smile, a rare thing for him according to his peers. If you care to read that post, which may cause your mouth to curve upward in that familiar expression, you can click here.  

Mother Teresa once said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

So what are the things that make me smile? That make my face break into a happy dance?  That demonstrate the things I love?

Sunsets and sunrises. My two adorable little grandchildren. When my family is all together in one place at one time.

A vibrant fall foliage-dressed tree. Blue skies and sunshine.  Blooming flowers bursting into colors of the rainbow.

And yes, while we’re at it, rainbows after a storm.  Birds enjoying a feast at our bird feeder. Baby animals.

Spending time with good friends. Hearing an old special song on the radio. Worshiping my Lord in and out of church.

I could plaster this post with pictures of all of those smile-giving items I just mentioned, so it proved to be a challenge just to choose one photo. But I finally decided on this one. My oldest sister and brother-in-law. Two people I love dearly and don’t get to see enough because they live far away from me.

blogIMG_1356.jpgI snapped this photo of them sharing a smile one summer a couple of years ago when they were visiting us. I can’t remember at all what made them turn to each other with big grins on their faces.  Life hasn’t always been easy for them in their well over 50 years of marriage, and they’ve had to endure some health issues, but they still can smile.

And that makes me smile.

“Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo


A little blessing

blogIMG_3918.jpgIt was like a little Easter blessing.

How often does a little one initiate a conversation about Jesus through a totally off-topic discussion?

A few days before Easter, my daughter was telling me about someone who had gotten married. My three-year-old granddaughter, playing in the room at the time, evidently was listening to our conversation.

She turned to her mommy and pronounced, “I got married!”

We smiled at Little One and her mommy asked her, “Oh, you did? Well, who did you marry?”

Little One paused for only a second or two and promptly answered, “Jesus!”

“You married Jesus?” I asked.

“Uh-huh,” she replied, “cause I love him and he loves me.”

The sweetness of her statement just melted our hearts.

But there was more.

She then asked where he was and why he wasn’t here in the house.

We tried to explain in terms a three-year-old would understand that Jesus lives in heaven, but that his spirit is right here with us, all the time, always there to help and care for us.

“But I want to see him!” she exclaimed. “He needs to come to our house!”

We attempted to explain that when you love Jesus, he takes a place in your heart, even though you can’t see him. Hard theology to understand for such a little one maybe.

But then she seemed to grasp that. “Jesus is in my heart!” she joyfully proclaimed.  “And he’s in Mommy’s heart and Nana’s heart!”

Then she ran to her Papa and tried to tell him that Jesus was in his heart too, although we had to clarify to Papa what she was saying because he had missed out on the entire conversation since he was in another room at the time.

The simple unhindered faith of a child. Isn’t that what the Lord asks us to have?

It seemed to satisfy her for a bit, but then a few moments later, she announced, “But I still want to see Jesus.”

Well, she does see him. She sees him in those who believe in him. She sees him in those of us who love her so very much, enough to tell her Jesus loves her more than we do. She sees him in our pastor when she hears him tell the children in our church about Jesus. She sees him working in our lives when we pray with her.

Later in the week, Daughter and I took Little One to a garden center that has fun Easter displays for children and those young in heart. We saw the displays of Easter bunnies, chicks, and other decorations. Little One was even brave enough to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap and get her picture taken.

But more importantly, she saw the reason why we celebrate this holiday in the final display. The real reason for Easter. The sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross and the hope of resurrection he gave us that Easter Sunday morning when the tomb his body was laid in proved empty.

And Little One got to ‘see’ Jesus – granted it was only a pretend facsimile of him but it gave her a concrete idea. And it gave us more opportunity to tell our Little One about the love of a Savior.

Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little Ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. 

Childlike faith. I’m reminded through the eyes of my little grandchild that my faith must consist of completely trusting, without a doubt, the One who loves me and her and you so much he went to the cross for us.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:14 (NIV)


It’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming

Good Friday. My thoughts are jumbled and even a bit emotional as I remember the significance of this day with my cold-induced foggy brain.

So what I can’t seem to put into words today, this video says for me.

Sunday’s coming!

“Unless you see yourself standing there with the shrieking crowd, full of hostility and hatred for the holy and innocent Lamb of God, you don’t really understand the nature and depth of your sin or the necessity of the cross.” ~  C.J. Mahaney


Favorite place, favorite thing

blogIMG_3517I once saw a piece of wall art that read “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

That pretty much sums it up for me this week. I’m behind. In everything.

I’ve been working on a project at home that involves printed photographs – hundreds of them. And they all need organized and put in a place where they can be easily accessed. And the more I try to hurry this project along, the more behind I get.

This project is taking me forever hours upon hours to complete. Matter of fact, I’m not even seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet.  And because of that, I’m behind in doing the routine things I accomplish at home.

And because of that, I’m also behind in writing for this blog. I usually like to prepare my blog posts well in advance and have them all nicely queued up ready to publish a week or at least several days ahead of time.  

Last week because of the photograph project, no writing happened. And this week it didn’t happen again because not only has the project worn me down, but I’ve been under the weather with a respiratory virus. I’m hoping it’s just a common cold but it’s made me feel crummy and fatigued all week long.

Go figure. I didn’t succumb to a cold all winter and now that hopefully, spring is on the horizon, I get sick. Blah.

And because of all of that, I’ve been scrambling to put together blog posts at the very last minute this week. And it’s Easter week! One of my favorite times of year. I haven’t had the time, the energy, or the inclination to write about that at all because my sinus-stuffed head is foggy.

I’m also behind when it comes to the Word Press weekly photo challenge theme from last week – favorite place.

So here’s my last ditch effort to catch up at least here in the blogging world.

My favorite place just happens to be where my favorite thing is. Cue the song from The Sound of Music….♪♫ “These are a few of my favorite things…” ♪♫

The photo above is my favorite place, the view of our yard from our front porch, early on a spring or summer morning, sitting on my favorite thing – our wooden porch swing – enjoying a nice cup of tea.

It’s my favorite thing in my favorite place. It’s my happy place. And I sure would like to be there now.

 “Find your safe spot and your happy place. Allow no one to penetrate your soul.” ~Anonymous