Words for Wednesday: family birthdays

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blogIMG_6834.jpgFebruary is a special month because, here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we celebrate two of our family members’ birthdays. 

So Happy Birthday Month to my son, my last born,  and to my first born grandchild. You both are my February valentines.  And I’m so thankful for you both!

“Have you ever considered that your birthday is truly a day of celebration? A day to recognize the special gift we all received on the day you were born; the gift of you. You are appreciated, you are loved. As another year begins for you may you be filled with the thoughts of how special you are to all of us! Thank you for sharing your life with us.” Robert Rivers 

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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A birthday letter for my daughter

blogIMG_5354My dear middle child,

Today is your birthday – a milestone birthday.  As I think back to the year of your birth, I remember those hot, humid days of August winding down and yet you were reluctant to leave your mama’s womb.  August turned into September and still we waited for your arrival.

Finally, nine days ‘late,’ you arrived in the middle of the afternoon on this day.  When the doctor announced you were a beautiful baby girl, I wasn’t surprised at all.  Your sweet little face captured everyone who met you, and your daddy, your big sister, and I fell instantly in love with you.

Her first birthday

Sweet on your first birthday

Your name means lively and that’s surely what you were.  And happy and sweet and oh, so very full of joy. 

Before I knew it, you were a toddler dancing through the house singing, always singing, and making a joyful noise even if it was in a language only you understood. 

You loved people, being with young and old alike, and telling long stories in your babbling private language.

You were always doing and you were fearless.  Climbing the ladder of the highest sliding board in the park, scaling kitchen counters, exploring outside, riding your bike down hill at breakneck speed, running, playing, laughing, dancing.  No doubt that’s why you wanted to be ‘on the go’ and loved playing soccer so much for so long. 

And all too soon, you were leaping onto the big yellow bus heading off to kindergarten, so proud and excited to be going to school where you could learn, and do, and make new friends.  Ever the social bee, you made friends easily and your elementary teachers always told us everyone wanted to be your friend.

Even at a young age, you showed compassion and caring for others.  When a combative little girl with Down’s syndrome was mainstreamed into your classroom, you befriended her when most of your fellow classmates stayed away from her.  That little girl loved you so much.  She listened to you and would stop hitting people when you calmly reasoned with her on the playground. She ran to hug you every time she saw you. I think she recognized the very sweet soul inside of you.

You were the peacemaker in friendships and between your older sister and younger brother, a position I know wasn’t always easy for you – that middle child thing.  When arguments arose, I distinctly can remember hearing you say, “Can’t we all just get along?”  And the time you talked to a friend who was ‘fighting’ with you by saying, “On the road to friendship, we’ve taken a wrong turn.”  Even though you were just a child, you still exhibited wisdom beyond your years.

I know the years of middle and high school weren’t the easiest for you because you left some very good friends, who shared the same beliefs and values as you, behind when we moved from the Pacific Northwest all the way across the country to my old hometown.  Your real, honest faith and sticking true to your convictions didn’t make you the most popular girl in school, but it made you the nicest and kindest.

And even though you were soft-hearted and sensitive, your fierce fearlessness showed up on the soccer field.  I will never, ever forget watching you as the only girl on that boys’ traveling team. You were their best goalkeeper and you astonished players and parents alike when you challenged a big, brawny opposing player trying to take a shot on you in the beginning minutes of one game. 

You charged forward, threw yourself on the ball, and he sailed over you landing hard on the ground.  Boys on the other team were incredulous and I could hear them saying, “that’s a GIRL!”  while your male teammates were proud to have you as their starting goalie that entire season.

You learned about adversity while competing for a playing spot on the boys’ high school soccer team when the girls’ team disbanded.  You learned life isn’t always fair either and that lesson would carry you through some difficult times ahead.

Before Dad and I could believe it, you were off to college.  Again and again you faced challenges and even some major disappointments.  But you never gave up even when you suffered a concussion serious enough to end your soccer playing days and threaten your nursing studies. 

Instead you persevered and showed great strength through each difficulty you endured but most of all, your faith and trust in God increased. And you used that inner resolve and perseverance to complete your bachelor of science in nursing and switch sports to the college cross country team.  

Your compassion for others and tender-hearted faith led you to take numerous mission trips from medical missions in Mexico to ministering to Native Americans in Arizona to rebuilding and clean-up after Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.

And all of these experiences and challenges prepared you well for your work the last six years as a confident yet very caring hospital nurse.  Your patients are blessed by your competent hands, sincere heart, and your sweet spirit.

My darling daughter, you are amazing.  

As you reach this milestone birthday – your 30th – you have accomplished a lot but God has so much more in store for you. Because now, you have been given the most wonderful gift – a beautiful baby girl of your own.  You are the mother I always suspected you would be, a patient, loving, devoted mama and it comes naturally to you.  The fierceness you once displayed on the soccer field now shows in your determination to protect and take care of your child in the best way possible.

You are strong, smart,  and you are incredibly brave, even though you don’t think you are.  You have always been a loyal daughter, sister, wife, and friend, and now can add mama to the list.  And, oh yes, still the social bug who loves people and being surrounded by family and friends for fun times.  

Beautiful at 30

Beautiful mommy at 30

Right now, you may be facing the most difficult set-back in your life, yet you are doing so with great strength and even greater faith in God while you put your child first, which is exactly what a devoted mother does.  Your trust in God and reliance on Him does and will continue to sustain you no matter what comes your way.

I’m not only very proud of the woman you’ve become, I admire you so very much, not just for your strength and fearlessness, but for your loving and forgiving soul, extending that graciousness to others, even those who have hurt you.

Daughter, I see Jesus in you and what more could any believing parent ask for?

As we celebrate you this day, I recall the beautiful blessing you have been to us these last 30 years and I give thanks to God for you and for the joy and privilege of being your mother and now the grandmother to your adorable child.

Today as you turn 30, I hope you realize it is just another milestone in the journey of life.  There is so much more on your horizon and this is just the beginning. Our omnipotent God has awesome plans and great purpose for you and your life.  The best is yet to come, I believe that.

God’s Word tells us that the Lord had some astonishing plans for those who served him and they started accomplishing His will when they turned 30:

  • “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt.” ~ Genesis 41:46
  • “David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.”~ 2 Samuel 5:4
  • “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.”  ~ Luke 3:23

Continue to put your faith and trust in the Lord; He loves you beyond measure and He will bless you, guide you, and make a way for you.

Believe His promises, especially Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I can’t wait to see what your future holds.  I think you will be astonished.  And Dad and I will always be supportive whatever the future brings.

Happy 30th Birthday, my beloved and beautiful daughter!

Love always,

Mom

“Promise me you’ll always remember:  You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~A.A. Milne’s Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Overflowing with birthday presence

blogIMG_1983 (2)I’m still on “birthday mode” here in the empty nest. I actually celebrated my birthday milestone – turning 60 – for several days through last weekend and into Monday, which was my actual birth date.

What good are birthdays if we don’t celebrate another year of life? When we’re youngsters, our birthdays are big deals. Really big deals with parties and excitement and cake and ice cream and presents. We especially get excited about the gifts part!

But as we get older, birthdays seem like just another day. Another day, another year. Oh well. I’m starting to sound like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh here. But I must admit I considered my birthdays as ho-hum for far too many years.

As I head into a new decade, I’m determined to change my ways, at least when it comes to celebrating. I’ve spent plenty of time looking back, but hey, my life’s not over yet! It’s time to look forward and to rejoice for things to come. To revel and cheer for each day as it arrives.

English poet, Alexander Pope wrote in one of his poems, “Pleas’d to look forward, pleas’d to look behind, And count each birthday with a grateful mind.”

That sentiment exactly expresses my desire. To count each birthday (all 60 of them so far!) with a grateful mind.

So what am I most thankful for concerning this birthday that I’m still commemorating? The birthday presence. No, I didn’t spell that wrong. Not birthday presents, instead birthday presence.

See I’m one of those people whose love language actually encompasses two – words of affirmation and quality time.  If you haven’t figured out your language yet, you can take the ‘test’ developed by Dr. Gary Chapman by clicking here

Nothing makes me feel more loved and appreciated than affirming words and spending time together with the ones I love.  Telling me why you care for me blesses me more than a basket full of gifts. That’s probably why those kind and positive comments I receive on this blog mean so much to me.

But you know what else really floats my love boat?  Your presence. Real life time together sharing conversations and activities.  Giving me your undivided attention makes me feel oh, so special.

Which is why my love boat not only floated, it cruised along down the river of contentment for this birthday. In more ways than one.

Oldest daughter and son-in-law made the 7 hour (one-way) drive to spend my birthday weekend here and brought along their new kitten for us to meet and play with. Middle daughter came too (son-in-law had to work) and brought a yummy cake from one of our tastiest bakeries.  Son and daughter-in-law could not make the long trip due also to work commitments but sent me a gorgeous, colorful bouquet of flowers, and son and I had a long phone conversation, just the two of us, while daughter-in-law sent a sweet text message to me from her business trip out west.

But it wasn’t the cake or the flowers that filled up my love tank, although I loved them and the sweet thoughts behind them. Instead, the words expressed in writing and in person made me feel cherished. And the time we spent together doing something fun as a family (that quality time!) really ramped it up several notches.

And it REALLY floated my boat! I mean literally! Saturday afternoon, Papa took us all for a treat. We drove into our nearby city, Pittsburgh, where we rode the famous incline to the top of Mt. Washington where you can see one of the most beautiful views of our city. We stopped for an ice cream break together just enjoying the sunshine and good company.

Back down the incline we rode to Station Square where we took an excursion I’ve always wanted to experience. We rode the Ducks! We went on Just Ducky Tours,  a tour of the city on land and in the water of one of our three rivers. If you’re not familiar with duck boats, they are actually converted World War II military vehicles called DUKWs. The boats with tires were used in amphibious operations during the war and most notably on D-Day in 1944.

So you see, my love boat really did cruise down the river – down the Ohio River. I loved it! It was fun, it was relaxing, and it was a true blessing to experience it all with part of my family.  What a great way to celebrate life.  Oh yes, my heart overflows with gratefulness and love and this birthday was like a fountain of joy.

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” ~ Voltaire

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Scary birthday to me

blogIMG_3204As if turning the big 6-0 isn’t scary enough, something startled me this morning so much that I actually jumped and emitted a little shriek. Today is my birthday. And yes, I’m now officially entering my 60th decade.

All weekend long, we celebrated my milestone birthday. Our two daughters and one son-in-law traveled back to the empty nest to treat ol’ Mom to a special time. And we did have a fun-filled weekend together. We missed the other three but that thing called work sometimes interferes with plans.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and yesterday afternoon, my beloved ones departed for their trips back to their own homes. Papa and I stood on the deck and watched them pack up their cars to leave, waving and blowing kisses and projecting “I love you”(s) in the air as they drove up the driveway.

We walked back into our now quiet empty nest. After all the activity of the weekend, we seemed at a loss for what to do. I grabbed the unopened Sunday paper from the coffee table and quickly made my way through it. Papa logged onto the laptop and cleaned out his emails.

We ate a simple dinner together in the stillness of the evening. Hubby ventured outside to water the flowers and his garden. I settled down with his Kindle catching up with The Count of Monte Cristo where I left off earlier this week.

We loaded the dishwasher, watched a little television, and then called it a day for the night. Cool, crisp air wafted in our bedroom windows and that made it easy to drift off to dreamland.

This morning I awakened, refreshed and happy to see sunshine, and I thought, “I don’t feel 60.” And you know what? I don’t!

I was still lounging in our comfy bed (it is my birthday, after all!) while hubby showered and prepared to head out for work. When he stopped to kiss me goodbye, he casually announced, “Oh, there’s a man in our closet.”

What??? After he repeated himself once more, I came to my senses and realized exactly what he meant. As a joke for older daughter before her marriage, her bridesmaids gave her an inflatable man doll for her bachelorette party. Not surprisingly, she left him behind here in the empty nest.

But he seems to keep reappearing in the strangest places, especially when older daughter and her hubby are home for a visit. Oldest son-in-law is a hoot and a bit of a prankster. He cracks us up with his sense of humor and funny antics which is one of the things daughter loves about him. She tends to be pretty serious and he makes her laugh.

And he makes us laugh too. But this morning, he made me shriek. Quite often after they’ve been home, we find bachelorette party man somewhere in the house outside of his usual hiding spot stored with those things oldest daughter has no space for yet.

This morning, party man was in our master bedroom closet. Propped up against the clothes with my shirt and my shoes adorning him! And even though my husband had warned me that there was a man in the closet, that fellow surprised me so badly when I opened the closet door and flicked on the light that I actually flinched and squealed.   And then I laughed so hard, I practically cried.

Is turning 60 really a scary birthday? Nah, it’s funny. Really, really funny. And I thankful for it.

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

 

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©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

A milestone birthday letter

My dear oldest child,

Today is your birthday – a milestone birthday.  It truly seems like just yesterday when the delivery nurse placed you in my arms and you and I saw eye to eye for the first time, just 45 minutes before Mother’s Day arrived.

You were a tiny bundle but oh, so perfect!  Born while your daddy was stationed in a far-off land on the other side of the world serving our country, it really felt like it was just you and me against the world until he returned to join us.

As I lay in the recovery room later on your birth day, my mind still reeling from the miracle of your birth and my body still shaking and quivering from labor and delivery, a nurse brought you to me and said, “She won’t stop crying.  I think she wants her mommy.”

And sure enough, as soon as she laid you in my shaky arms, you stopped wailing immediately.  From that day on, you taught me one of the most precious lessons humans can learn – how fiercely a mother loves her child.  You made me realize a mother lion lived inside of me.

Oldest daughter – cute at age 2.

I blinked and you were a tiny, adorable girl with blond curls dancing and singing “ut-town gurl” (Uptown Girl) in your sweet little voice along with Billy Joel on the stereo.  (Yes, that’s why you still love his music.)

You never wanted to miss a thing, following me everywhere, asking questions.  Always curious, always wanting to know, always inquisitive.  When you thought of something you should try or do, you’d inquire of me, “Be that fun, Mommy?”

I blinked again and you trotted off to school, so eager to be a big girl, so ready to learn, to absorb, to experience.  I believe your zeal to discover and understand coupled with your ability to acquire knowledge so easily molded you into the scientist that you are today.

I worried a bit as moves or other circumstances beyond our control caused a change in schools every couple of years for you, but those experiences seemed to give you confidence, a sense of adventure, and the ability to make new friends.

I blinked once more and Dad and I were unloading the car and moving you into your college dorm room, so proud of you and your accomplishments as well as your college choice and your molecular biology major.   And then all too soon, you were out on your own with a freshly minted degree, a launched career in biomedical research, and an apartment to call home.

My darling daughter, you have amazed us.  As you reach this milestone birthday – your 30th – you have accomplished so much. With travels to Paris and London, to Mozambique and South Africa, to Honduras, and the desire to see more of this world God created,  you have proved how adventuresome you are.

You demonstrated your bravery and independence when you accepted a new position in a place far from home where you knew no one, had no roommate, and no real security blanket.   You’ve taken changes and even set-backs in stride and your strong faith in God sustains you.

You are funny.  You are loyal.  You are intelligent.  You are assertive.  And you are so much more daring than your mother!  Convincing your siblings to go sky-diving with you is just one example.

You are determined whether it is running half-marathons or accomplishing a task in the most accurate, precise way.  You always strive for the best and even though you think you’ve not always succeeded, to us you always surpass! Your “bucket list” continues to grow even as you cross items from it.

Beautiful at 30

How can I even begin to explain how much I admire these things about you?  And now, in your 30th year, the Lord has given you a gift you’ve longed for, one for which you’ve waited and hoped for so long  – a soul mate with whom to share your life, your adventures, and your love.  What a beautiful bride you will be on your wedding day this fall!

Today in my book called Opportunity, I remember how much you have blessed the last 30 years of our lives and I give thanks for you and the joy it has been to be your mother.

This birthday might cause you a bit of trepidation, but do not fear. Turning thirty is just another milestone in the journey of life.

The years to come will be amazing; turning thirty is just the beginning.   Our omnipotent God has awesome plans for you and your life.

Actually, as recorded in our guidebook for life, God’s Holy Word,  some pretty important people accomplished some very important things once they turned thirty.  The Lord had big plans for them and their purposes in life were just commencing:

  • “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt.” ~ Genesis 41:46
  • “David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years.” ~ 2 Samuel 5:4
  • “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.”  ~ Luke 3:23

I know the Lord has big plans for you too.  God loves you and He will bless you, guide you, and make a way for you when you continue to trust in Him.  That you can count on. And you can always count on us to cheer you on!

Happy 30th Birthday, my beloved and beautiful daughter!

Love always,

Mom

“Don’t just count your years, make your years count.” ~ Ernest Meyers

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Surprise!

blog341He proved to be a surprise from the beginning and he continues to be, even now.

Over 24 years ago, my husband and I decided our family was complete.  We had two sweet little daughters and were happy with our life the way it was.  A unit of four.   Even numbers.  We fit neatly and nicely in a restaurant booth.  I had two hands which could hold two little hands safely when we crossed the street.

And then….surprise.   I found out I was pregnant with our third child.  We recalculated.  Readjusted.  Readied ourselves to become a family of five.

At my scheduled sonogram, we strained to see if we could determine the sex of our unborn child.  But back then, sonograms weren’t as refined as they are now.  A strong, beating heart was visible and we could determine a head and body but as the technician rotated her wand over and over the bottom half of our child, we couldn’t see any gender determining ‘parts.’

So we naturally assumed we were having another girl.  Three of a kind.  It fit with our family history because I was the youngest of three girls and my husband was the youngest of three boys.  We were so confident our child was another sugar and spice and everything nice little sweetheart that we only chose a girl’s name for our soon to be newborn.

Awakened at dawn with substantial labor pains, we happily trotted off to the hospital leaving our two angels sleeping and in the good hands of my parents, who had traveled half-way across the country to care for the girls while hubby and I got down to the serious business of birthing.

This was my third child, I had pre-determined that labor would not be difficult.  “I’ll just pop this little one out in no time,” I thought.  Surprise.  Labor seemed to drag on and on and on!  At one point, I seriously wondered if this child wanted to be born.   Finally after more hours of labor than it took for my second child, medical personnel wheeled me into the delivery room.

blog001A healthy nine pound baby emerged.  Surprise!  “It’s a boy!” my doctor announced.  Puzzled, I think I asked, “WHAT???”

Reassured by my husband that indeed I had just given birth to a baby boy, a son, I distinctly remember remarking, “Oh, he doesn’t have a NAME!”

Surprise.  We bantered boys’ names back and forth for most of the day while Unnamed Baby Boy slept in our arms.  And then….surprise again.  My dad, who never offered much advice unless you asked for it, suggested a name.  Not just a first name, but a full name – first and middle – and it was a good, sound, strong name.  And so, Baby Boy was named by his maternal grandfather.

My little guy, this little fellow, who surprised us so when he was born on this day 24 years ago and is now a fully grown, independent adult, has never stopped surprising us.

Over the years, our son has surprised us with so many aspects of his life.  Born of parents who had no particularly stellar athletic prowess, our son thrived in the world of sports – soccer, baseball, basketball, track and field.  He determinedly gave his all and excelled, even setting track records at his high school and earning a championship finals medal.

Academically, he also surprised us. After a few years of elementary school report cards that only evaluated students with vague ‘grades’ such as M’s (meeting expectations) and E’s (exceeding expectations), our son attended a new school when we moved back to the homeland shortly before his fifth grade year.

When he brought home his first report card with letter grades based on percentages, he surprised even himself.  He earned all A’s and remarked, “Mom, I didn’t know I was so smart!”

And surprise… that academic trend continued.  Our son astonished us when he graduated first in his high school class as valedictorian, making the grandfather, who named him and had graduated from the same high school 68 years previously, so very proud.   Deciding early to only apply to one college, which also happened to be difficult to get into, and being accepted shouldn’t have surprised us, but it did.

Our son has the zaniest sense of humor, another surprising aspect.  He literally  makes everyone in our family howl with laughter.  Whether it is doing a believable yet hysterical impersonation of a dinosaur on the loose or arriving home at Christmas time wearing a tacky red sweater festooned with jingle bells and candy canes, he always makes us laugh, loudly and soundly.    Aristotle once said, “The secret to humor is surprise.”  Our son understands this philosophy well.

But even more surprising is our son’s character.  Oh, we struggled with the same teenage angst that all parents and sons endure as he tried to assert his independence.  I vividly recall the day in his college years that he firmly explained to me that I should not call him “my baby” any longer because he was a man.  I remember feeling a little angry, a bit hurt, but soon I realized he was right and that surprised me.

Our son has always amazed us with two vital traits  – his respect for us (his parents), for others, and also for himself, and his utmost love for God.  Strong in his faith and loyal to family and friends, our son tries to be a friend to all.  I truly believe he strives diligently to be a man after God’s own heart.

So this year, his 24th year of life as of today, our son has surprised us yet again by announcing he is ready to become a husband.  What didn’t surprise us was his choice, a lovely young woman who he soon will take for a wife.

Happy Birthday, my beloved son.  When God gave you to us to complete our family of five, He blessed us immeasurably.  I love you and I’m so proud of the man of integrity you have become.  Thank you for the joy, the fun, the laughter, and all of the surprises you have given us.   No doubt, more surprises are yet to come.

This post on your birthday, this wonderful day in my book of Opportunity, is my way of surprising you!

“There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved.” ~  Charles Morgan

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Counting birthday blessings instead of calories

blogDSCN0122I’m parked on my front porch swing absorbing the beauty of a sunshine-filled day with baby blue skies dotted by fluffy clouds while being cooled by a balmy, light breeze and I’m contemplating life.

Why such a serious subject on a gorgeous summery day you may wonder.   Simple answer, my birthday’s drawing nigh.

I think when you pass a significant number of years in age, you really begin taking stock of your life, how you’ve lived it thus far, and how you want to live what years remain.  Let’s just call that maturity.

Someone once said, “We know we’re getting old when the only thing we want for our birthday is not to be reminded of it.”    I don’t necessarily relish birthdays any more especially when I stop to calculate how old I really am.  But I do like to reflect on years past and consider the future when my birth date rolls around on the calendar.

A friend and co-worker deposited a lovely polka-dotted gift bag on my desk yesterday.  She inquired whether I’d be savoring birthday cake for my special day;  I replied negatively.  There’s really no sense in having cake for just hubby and me here at the empty nest.  We’d end up eating the entire thing ourselves and goodness knows, neither one of us needs all those calories!

Besides, if I’m going to indulge in sweets for the day commemorating just how close I’m creeping towards the big 6-O, then I’d much rather have a big ol’ vanilla cream-filled powdered sugar doughnut.  Yep, I’d go for the sugar gusto of a doughnut over cake any day.  So, even though cake is yummy, no cake for me this year.

No cake, no candles, no party and I’ve told hubby to not spend money on gifts either.  Really, material things don’t matter much to me anymore, and receiving gifts, while lovely, just doesn’t fill up my love language tank.  What floats my boat is spending a wonderful time with those I love most.

As I reflect on birthdays past, that’s exactly what I’ve been given for every birthday I’ve celebrated –  blessings in the way of family gathered around me.   Until I passed my 9th birthday, I not only had my parents and sisters in my life but also my maternal grandparents.

Eventually, brothers-in-law were added to the family and then baby nieces and a nephew were born.   And God blessed me with a true love, a husband who has never, ever forgotten my birthday and makes me feel special and loved.

By the time our beloved three children came along, we didn’t live near our families, but my own little family made my birthdays memorable and so blessed.  Add a vast assortment of friends to my birthday blessings and I realize how much joy I’ve been given over the years.

So now at this juncture of life, when I have been the recipient of so much, it’s way past time for me to commence identifying what I give back in return and how should I increase that measure.

What impact do I make on others’ lives?  In what ways can I bestow joy to someone else?  How can I encourage and lift up someone who’s heart is breaking, someone who faces the uncertain unknown, or someone who needs a faithful, listening friend?

Today in Chapter 6 (already!), Page 2 in my wonderful book entitled Opportunity, that’s what I’m contemplating – looking back at how far I’ve come, yet seeing how much farther I need to go to fulfill my purpose here in this world.

I have always been a person of good intentions, but too often have not followed through on them and that is something I need to change.   When God plants a person’s name in my mind, I need to stop what I’m doing right then and pray for him or her.  When He gives me an idea about how to bless another, I must ensure that idea comes to fruition.

Years ago, someone gave me a perpetual calendar with quotes and a Bible verse for each day of the year.  For the last several years, the calendar occupied space on my workplace desk.  As I turned the page to my birth date, the quote greeting me seemed appropriate for my special day:

“I expect to pass through the world but once.  Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now.  Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”  ~ Attributed to Stephen Grellet, Quaker missionary

I want to make this my birthday prayer.   Next year, Lord willing, on my birthday, I hope I can say that I’ve given many more blessings than I have received.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The third incredible woman of May

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Incredibly brave while holding a friend’s snake!

“When you become a mother, you stop being the picture and start being the frame.”  ~ Unknown

Today is Mother’s Day and also the birthday of the third woman, born in May, who impacted my life in a significant way.

This young woman is beautiful, articulate and adventuresome in spirit.    Tiny in stature, demure-looking to the world, but if you invoke her anger, watch out because she possesses a fiery, feisty and very passionate side.

Intelligent, but not in a nerdy way, she has compassion for those less fortunate than herself, which is why she volunteers regularly at a soup kitchen mission, encourages a young underprivileged girl as her “big sister” in the Big Brother/Big Sister program and has served others on mission trips.

And oh, does she love to travel to exciting places!   She’s ventured to a majority of the United States and experienced trips abroad to France, England, South Africa, Mozambique, and Honduras.  If she acquired enough financing, she would travel all over the world because visiting every continent is inscribed on her bucket list.

Her highly organized style makes her a keeper of lists – lists of things to do, lists of adventures to take, lists of things she’s accomplished, lists of ordinary occurrences.    Her talents include singing (although she does so quietly) and playing piano beautifully with gusto and emotion.

She understands complex molecular biology yet has a knack for writing with humor and insight, and she loves country line dancing.   She owns an outrageous sense of humor and provides family and friends with lots of laughs.  (Ask her if gullible is written on the ceiling – sorry, that’s an inside joke.)

She loves God first and her family second, and probably her cat ranks third on that list followed by her friends.  And sunflowers are her favorite flowers.  I know this young woman so well because she is my daughter, my first-born child.

My daughter and I bonded long before she actually entered this world.  While her military daddy was stationed across the globe, she, as a tiny baby developing in my womb, helped me stay focused during the time hubby and I were apart.

My life centered completely on hers during that time.  To ensure her health, I concentrated on mine and consumed nothing that wasn’t healthy even abandoning my beloved tea for decaffeinated.

I talked to her each day as she squirmed and performed somersaults inside of me.  I wrote daily letters to her daddy describing preparations for the new life that would be joining ours.

When her tiny foot or knee or fist protruded and formed a knot on the outside of my abdomen, I caressed that spot with my fingers to assure her Mama loved her.  I knew music would play an important role in her life because she “danced” each time I played piano and stopped immediately when the music halted.

One Saturday night, after many hours of labor, my oldest daughter emerged as a tiny, delicate mixed version of myself and my hubby and presented herself to me as my Mother’s Day gift.  Born less than an hour before Mother’s Day arrived, my little one gave me the gift of motherhood in time for the holiday.

Every single concern or doubt I fretted over about becoming a mother totally evaporated when that amazing little baby girl was placed in my arms.  In that moment and in the years to come, I finally understood the meaning of unconditional love.

No matter what she or her younger sister and brother may have done, I neither would nor could ever stop loving my children.   Becoming a mother gave me insight into how God loves us without condition.

“The mother love is like God’s love; he loves us not because we are lovable, but because it is His nature to love, and because we are His children.”  ~ Earl Riney

As I reminisce on this Mother’s Day about all the years I’ve spent as a mother, I realize I never could have accomplished this task without God’s guidance, without prayer, without the understanding of a mother’s ferociously intense love for her child.  And I’m hopeful that I’ve done my very best with the lessons I have learned in motherhood.  I agree with Ruth Bell Graham when she said:  “As a mother, my job is to take care of what is possible and trust God with the impossible.”

So as I celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday in my book of Opportunity, Chapter 5, Page 8,  I give praise and thankfulness to the One who gave me the gift of life first, then blessed me with the gift of motherhood, not just once but three times.

Happy Birthday, my dearest Oldest Daughter!  Thank you for teaching me to be the frame for your beautiful picture!   May your day be blessed with the knowledge that you are loved beyond comprehension by God and by your mother.

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