As I say farewell

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Photo by Pixabay on

“Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!”

~ Ogden Nash

New Year’s Eve. Time to say farewell to another year past – one relegated to our memory banks for better or worse.

And we hail a new year being ushered in tomorrow. A brand new 365 days, Lord willing, to live life. A clean slate. An unblemished beginning.

But before I welcome 2020 in, I want to ruminate over and savor 2019. For this empty nest Mama, it was a very good year and I’m most grateful for it.

Each month of the year past brought something noteworthy to remember, to pigeonhole into my cherished memories file somewhere in that cluttered brain of mine. I’m a list-maker so please bear with me as I chronicle all my blessings for the year now ending.


Their new home!

January: Mild winter weather enabled us to take a trip to the state next door to visit our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild and help them accomplish projects around their new home. We also experienced happiness and excitement with our middle daughter and other grandchild as we helped them move into their new home and a new life for them.

February: We celebrated with a birthday bash for our first grandchild with family and a houseful of friends. What joy this child brings to our lives! And I am blessed to spend so many days with her as her care-giver while her Mama is working.


Started Bible studies in my home

March: I stepped out in faith, stopped talking about doing something, and actually commenced it! I began leading a Bible study for women in my home. Our topic was learning how to be content in life and I’m not certain who learned more, the lovely ladies in the group or me.

April: Spring arrived with lovely weather and we journeyed to visit our son’s family once more on our way to spend a glorious Easter with our oldest daughter and son-in-law in their home down south.


Another grandchild blessing

May: A beautiful blessing arrived! Our third grandchild was born and once again, we traveled to the state next door to meet our newest family member and cuddle with our beautiful baby granddaughter.

June: Vacation month! Papa and I vacillated for weeks prior to our scheduled June vacation over where to go. We finally settled on a trip to various spots in Maryland, a state we’ve been in and through many, many times. But oh, what fun we had exploring new places and enjoying surprises.

July: A day trip to Erie, Pennsylvania where once again we explored places we haven’t visited before was the highlight as well as a lovely day for our church picnic in a nearby state park. Good fellowship with our fellow believers is always welcomed and a day to remember.


Day trip to Lake Erie

August: We simply relaxed, spent time with our oldest granddaughter, and enjoyed a fairly mild (temperature-wise) summer. I also worked diligently reading resource books and my Bible preparing another women’s Bible study for fall. And I was blessed to spend time at lunch with a dear friend and another outing to a festival with one of my life-long buddies.

September: I began another women’s Bible study on prayer in my home and I can’t express how much the ladies in this group mean to me. I took photographs at a bridal shower for one of my best friend’s daughter which were received with grateful thanks from the bride.  We took a trip east to attend Papa’s family reunion and utilized free tickets to enjoy an evening in the city watching the Pittsburgh Pirates lose yet another baseball game. But hey, we had fun! Watching our little one play soccer every Saturday morning also reminded us of days gone by when we watched her mama and uncle play that sport. 


Always fun when the kids are home

October: Papa and I celebrated another year of marriage (42!) and a nice weekend together with all of our grown kids and grandchildren when they all came “home.”  Afterwards, Papa and I headed out for another week’s vacation to Michigan, where we relished every single place we visited, including lighthouses for me to photograph and gorgeous fall foliage.

November: The month of Thanksgiving started with a beautiful wedding (aforementioned bride) in Old Alexandria, Virginia. Then the icing on the cake was (finally!) meeting in person with my long-time blogging friend, Dianna (These Days of Mine) and her husband JR. After a delicious lunch at Hanover Tavern, we couldn’t stop talking! What a blessing it was to get more acquainted with them. We’ve already made plans to meet again in 2020. A lovely Thanksgiving holiday with some of our family concluded the month.

Blogging friends Nov 2019 (2)

Such a blessing to meet a blogging friend in person!

December: Two family members’ birthdays, including our sweet second grandchild’s,  a wonderful family Christmas with everyone home, making our empty nest full of love and laughter.  An evening with good friends playing games and then a lunch with three of my former co-workers and dear friends rounded out the month.


Our three little blessings

To say 2019 was a blessed year is definitely an understatement. Of course, not every day was perfect. There were challenges and problems as in any life we encounter on this earth. But our good and gracious God continues to be our Provider, our Peace, our Sustainer, and our Shepherd.

What will unfold in this New Year arriving in just a matter of hours? We have no way of knowing but as always, even if difficult circumstances arise and they will, I will give God glory and thanks with my life verse from God’s Word: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As our year comes to a close, I say farewell, 2019. I shall remember you with fondness. And as I welcome in 2020, I look forward to this New Year with anticipation for what it may bring.   

“Celebrate endings—for they precede new beginnings.” ~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie


Out of the ordinary

blogIMG_2491(2)It’s Monday. And I don’t usually post here at Mama’s Empty Nest on Mondays.

But I ran across a quote last week that fits the bill today.

“Do something out of the ordinary. It not only creates a memory, it sets a standard.” ~ unknown source

So I’m doing something a little out of the ordinary by posting on a Monday. But this isn’t just any old Monday.

Today is the very first Monday in this brand new year of 2018.

2018!! My mind marvels that we are 18 years into this millennia. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were crossing our fingers that the Y2K bug wasn’t going to create havoc as predicted? And it turned out to be much ado about nothing. (Forgive me, William Shakespeare.)

Today is New Year’s Day. We said goodbye to the old year 2017 last night and we welcome in the new year with great expectations. (Forgive me, Charles Dickens.)

Today is a milestone. A day when many folks begin New Year’s resolutions. Or a diet. Or decide to make some kind of change in their lives.

Empty spaces on my new 2018 calendar remind me that I have the opportunity to live out that quote above. Do something out of the ordinary. Create memories. Set standards.

Empty spaces on this blog remind me that I have an entire year of writing to plan. I find myself contemplating how to proceed, what direction to take for this blog in this new year.  I do want to create lovely memories for folks to read about. And at the same time, I want to set standards for my blog as well.

So do I just continue doing what I’ve been doing? Writing as inspiration comes to me? Participating in weekly photo challenges so I can continue sharing what I enjoy – amateur photography? Lining up photos for Wordless Wednesday?

Should I select a theme for the year or concentrate on a special word that I’ve chosen as ‘my word’ for the year?

Perhaps I should reopen my “book of opportunity” that I wrote about back in 2011? Click to read Chapter One back then.

Or should I choose something completely out of the ordinary?

Maybe you, dear readers, can help me decide. I’d love to hear your feedback on what you’d like to see on this blog and even what you don’t want to see, so please leave a comment giving me your thoughts. 

In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you a happy and blessed New Year. And I leave you today, this first Monday of 2018, with an old Irish blessing (even though I’m not Irish, I love those blessings).

May the blessing of light be upon you,
Light on the outside, 
Light on the inside.

With God’s sunlight shining on you, 
May your heart glow with warmth, 
Like a turf fire 
that welcomes friends and strangers alike.

May the light of the Lord shine from your eyes,
Like a candle in the window, 
Welcoming the weary traveler.

Happy New Year from Mama’s Empty Nest! 



Reflecting on the blessings

blogIMG_1006Danish 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

Reflections of
The way life used to be
Reflections of
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


Thanks Giving: when he pumps the gas


We woke up to snow on the ground Monday morning, a little icy residue under the snow engulfing our car, and we had a long trip to make home after spending the weekend visiting our daughter and son-in-law a few states away.

And as I sat in our vehicle, nice and toasty warm with those heated seats, my husband got out into the blustery snowy weather to fill our tank with gas.

It was a day for thankfulness.  Thankfulness for safe trips to visit our loved ones.  Thankfulness for heated car seats when the weather turns arctic.  And thankfulness for hubby when he pumps the gas in all kinds of weather.

“All that we behold is full of blessings.” ~ William Wordsworth


When chores turn into blessings

blogIMG_4356I was on my way to accomplish a chore – really, a chore. Another to-do item on my list and this one cost me not just time but money as well.  I’ll be honest and admit, it made me a tad cranky.

On top of that, it wasn’t my kind of day weather-wise.  Overcast, drab skies as far as the eye could see.  Lack of sunshine muted everything from the coats of many colors displayed on the trees to my mood.  Sometimes days like this just make me want to cocoon inside my comfy, cozy home not wanting to venture out.  Yes, it was that kind of day.

But this chore needed accomplished ASAP.  So I put on my ‘happy face,’  grabbed my purse, and headed out.  Even with subdued surroundings though, I couldn’t help but notice the fall foliage around me as I drove.

I arrived at the place where the chore needed completed and wouldn’t you know it?  Those confounded computers that held the key to accomplishing my task decided to be finicky.  Just my luck.  The lady who helped me tried everything and it took much longer than necessary to accomplish the task.

But I made a choice.  Either I could continue being grumpy and complain which wouldn’t help the situation and would probably make that business’ employee grouchy as well or I could laugh and joke about the situation.  I chose the latter.

She laughed along with me and some of the other co-workers kidded, “You two are having too much fun out there!”  

I left smiling.  Yes, it took time out of my day.  Yes, it cost me dollars I didn’t want to cough up.  And yes, it took way longer than necessary.  But my outlook changed because my disposition improved.

I started humming on the drive home even while the windshield wipers beat a monotonous cadence.  And then I began to really see  the scenery along the way and that visual side of me noticed some spots that demanded capture by my camera. 

As soon as I got home, I grabbed my camera bag, threw it in the car, and headed back out again in the countryside for another drive.  I pulled over at the side of the road and stepped out of my car.

Sure it was drizzling.  And it wasn’t exactly warm with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees.  And there were mud puddles everywhere.  I could get dragged down in the murky dismal day if I let myself, but again I made a choice.  I chose to keep wiping the rain spots off my camera lens and continue clicking. 

I doubted whether my photos would have punch because I feared I had waited too long to shoot those fall reds, yellows, rusts, and oranges.  Already many leaves have fallen off the trees.

blogIMG_4366But I still kept walking along and shooting.  I came upon a parked pickup truck with company signage on the side of it and a gentleman came around the truck asking me if where he had parked was blocking my access to a driveway (he thought it was mine).  I answered no, that I was just taking some photos and pointed in the direction of a stand of trees.

And he replied, “Isn’t it beautiful?”  So we stood there in the misting rain on a day that seemed so lackluster and discussed the leaves and their finery.  He worked for an engineering company and shared that he sure enjoyed the scenery on his trip down here to my neck of the woods.  That’s when I noticed his license plate – Vermont.

“Oh,” I replied, “I bet our colors don’t hold a candle to yours.”

On the contrary, he said the leaves this year just turned brown and fell off the trees where he lived.  That’s why he was enjoying our fall foliage so much because he missed seeing theirs.

After a friendly wave goodbye, I walked back to my car and drove home thinking over my afternoon.  Going out for that chore turned into a blessing.

I believe God used that chore just to remind me that no matter how dismal things look, a change in attitude does wonders.  And He placed that engineer in my path so I would remember that even when the world seems dim, He gives us so much for which to be grateful.

Even rainy, downcast days.  Legs to use for walking.  Eyes to see His beauty.  Cameras to capture that beauty.  And a truck from Vermont to remind me to appreciate what the Lord provides.

“The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment; it is the fruit of a thousand choices.” – Nancy Leigh DeMoss



From our house to yours

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest,

we all wish every one of our family, friends, and blog readers

a most blessed Merry Christmas

from our house to yours!



“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 Isaiah 9:6


Showers of Blessing, Part 3

Mama’s daughters

It echoes in my mind.  The words.  I find myself humming the tune.  The music.  And I see it manifested right before my eyes.  The blessing.

Showers of blessing.

Showers of blessing continue to fall, pouring out the promise of love.  Showers of refreshing blessing, precious in abundance.

We celebrated this season of love with the last of the bridal showers.  It did not escape me that my oldest child, the one who brought me the joy of motherhood first, is the last to enter matrimony.

This one, this one who has waited for so long for her true love.  This one, who I kept praying for and believing and yes – even promising – that God would send her beloved if she would just trust Him to work out the details.

This one is being blessed.  As the old hymn replays in my mind, I sing these words over her:

“There shall be showers of blessing, if we but trust and obey; There shall be seasons refreshing, if we let God have His way.”

And God did have His way when she turned it over to Him.  He orchestrated a meeting of two young people from different places – two people with a love for travel, who desired to serve those less fortunate than themselves.

He placed those two people next to each other on a bus headed for short term mission work among the least in the far-away country of Honduras.  And God took that meeting, watered the friendship that sprouted during it, and provided room for the friendship to grow for a couple of years before it blossomed into true love.

My middle child, the already married one, will serve her older sister in love by being her matron of honor.   Along with the other bridesmaids, we planned a most beautiful bridal shower celebrating not only the joy of an upcoming marriage but the other love my daughter has – her love of travel.

It was travel to that third world country that God used to bring two souls together, so it seemed a perfect theme.  We used her chosen wedding colors of royal blue and white (the colors of the Honduran flag) and integrated them into the shower decorations.

Road maps became banners and covers for glass votive candles.  Items from travels to other countries, including the wedding dolls brought from Korea by the bride’s daddy when she was a baby, added to the theme.

Atlas pages, small world globes, and glass etched world candle holders served as table centerpieces while vintage luggage became trays to be used as serving pieces for the food.  Keeping with the theme, we used royal blue paper napkins printed with international flags on them.

Our menu reflected a few of the places the bride has traveled.  France: mini quiches and French pastries.  Honduras: mango salsa with chips.  Wooden bowls of nuts signified her trip to Africa.

We added saucy meatballs, fresh fruit kabobs with dip, croissants filled with her favorite chicken salad,  and blue and white decorated cake balls, baked by her sister,  to the spread.  A citrus tropical punch was the perfect beverage along with coffee and tea.

Favors were train and airplane shaped sugar cookies also baked with love by middle daughter.  We attached ‘luggage tags’ to the bagged cookies with one side of the tag covered with a road map and the other printed with this message, “Thank you for joining us in wishing a world of happiness to [daughter’s name]  as she journeys to her new adventure – marriage with [fiancé’s name].”

Fiancé’s sister printed exquisite photos from her own travels to make post cards which we  provided to guests so they could write marriage advice for the bride-to-be as she embarks on this brand new journey of life.  The post cards were deposited into a small trunk to be read by the bride later.

Friends of the bride, mothers of friends, and friends of her own mother did not disappoint with their wise advice.  She’s given me permission to share some of their words.

  • “Always forgive and forget! And most of all put God first.”
  • “ If you’re both seeking God with all of your hearts, everything else falls into place. (Trust me! Pray for your husband a lot!)”
  • “Marriage is full of ups and downs…sometimes you’ll think he’s the best thing in the world and other times you won’t like him at all! Ride it out – the bad times will eventually turn to good times again.”
  • “Love, honor, respect and enjoy each other…You’ll never go wrong if you follow God’s commands.”

My travel-loving daughter, who’s not into the typical white lace and pearl type bridal décor, loved it all!  And our labor of love brought her much joy and happiness along with all the well wishes and lovely gifts from the guests.

Maya Angelou once said, “When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness…all the good things.”  Those thoughts echo my prayers for all three of my children in this wedding season we’re finding ourselves in.

And the blessings keep pouring down for which we are so very grateful, so abundantly thankful to the One who provides them all.

“An attitude of gratitude creates blessings.” ~  Sir John Templeton

Copyright ©2012

Showers of Blessing, Part 2

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)

blogIMG_8396That Bible teaching from my childhood has echoed through my thoughts for my entire life.

I’ve discovered over the years that wise admonition is so very true.  Life seems just so much more abundant when I bless others by giving, not just the gift of money, but through gifts of service – time, energy, friendship, love, and devotion – as well.

This past month, I’ve encountered that feeling of being incredibly blessed.   It’s as if these words written by American essayist Hamilton Wright Mabie have sprung to life – “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

There is much talk of love – true love – and marriage at our house as hubby and I witnessed our middle daughter’s marriage to her only one in June and will watch our son marry his betrothed next month, while our oldest daughter will wed her beloved before the end of this year.

For our family, it does feel like the whole world is engulfed in a conspiracy of love, a season of love…and bridal showers…and weddings.   And many, many blessings.  Showers of them.

Our showers of blessing continued when I hosted a small bridal shower in my home a couple of weeks ago for my son’s fiancée.

Since she is not from our area, she doesn’t personally know many of the people we included on the wedding invitation list.

So I wanted to give her an opportunity to meet and be blessed by some of my closest friends and family here and for them to see for themselves what a wonderful addition she makes to our family circle.

This sounds hard to believe but when my future daughter-in-law came to our home to meet us for the first time over a year ago, I knew she was different from the other girls my son had dated.  She immediately fit into our family in that easy way that seems like she has always been a part of us.

This bridal shower prepared with much thought was one of the ways I wanted  to show her how much she is accepted and loved. I’m pretty certain I succeeded.

Son and fiancée traveled abroad last year, and I think that during an excursion to Italy, their love for one another really bloomed.

So I incorporated an Italian theme with her wedding colors of purple and black and white damask into the bridal shower.  Grapes and grapevines with lanterns and candles completed the decorations.

Small corked bottles, which I filled with olive oil and tied purple ribbon tags on with the printed message,  “What did [son’s name] say to [fiancée’s name] on their Italy trip? O-live you!” served as guest favors.

The menu was simple. Linguini salad, warm from the oven garlic bread sticks, fresh fruit salad, pods of grapes, Italian crackers with three kinds of cheeses  – one with basil, a herb my son relishes and one which symbolizes love in Italy.   The story is that when an Italian suitor wants to demonstrate his love, he places a sprig of basil in his hair to win his heart’s desire.

Desserts included Italian style cookies:  cream wafers, clothes pin cookies, and almond and lemon pizzelles. White and purple grape juice mixed with ginger ale proved to be a tasty and easy to make punch.

As a special dessert, I baked brownie cups in damask cupcake wrappers and served a purple scoop of black raspberry ice cream topped with a piece of Godiva dark chocolate.  Check back tomorrow for my Wordless Wednesday post and you’ll see a picture of them.   They were a big hit!

But even more important was the love shared that day, shown in so many ways:

When fiancée’s mother and sister joined us in the celebration.  When two of my friends who’ve held 50-year-old friendships with me attended.  When guests shared their thoughts about my son to his beloved.

When my daughters warmly welcomed their new sister and catered to her every need.  When my sister and my cherished friends bestowed beautiful gifts upon the bride-to-be.

When one of my mother’s best friends, a sweet 95-year-old lady, shared her lemon pie recipe (which our son loves) with the soon-to-be wife.  When my treasured friend gave the loveliest and heart-felt prayer of blessing over the upcoming marriage.

Love permeated the air in my house on that day.  I could see it.  I could taste it. I could feel it.  And as I gave thanks for it, showers of blessings poured over me like refreshing rain over a dry, parched land.

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessing.”  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Copyright ©2012