Showers of blessing

When I was just a little girl, my maternal grandparents lived with us.

One of my favorite memories of Grandma is when she and I would squeeze ourselves into her chair – the upholstered rocker with the wooden swan head arms – and rock our blues away while singing hymns.

One of those old church songs was “Showers of Blessing” and after 50 years, the tune and the words still echo in my mind.  When I close my eyes, I can picture my gray-haired grandma and my skinny, bespectacled eight-year-old self rocking and singing together.

For over a week now, that old song replays again and again in my mind or I catch myself humming the tune.   Since May rolled around on the calendar, it’s been an emotional time for me.  The first of our family weddings is just days away now.  Middle daughter will walk down the aisle escorted by her father and marry her true love.

In addition to the emotion of elated happiness at thinking about my daughter getting married, I’ve also encountered a touch of sadness.  I’m really missing my parents, even more than usual, as we prepare for all of these weddings in our family.

I find it a bit heartbreaking that my children have no living grandparents to attend their wedding ceremonies.   My mother would have been so excited over all of the preparations and so willing to help.  My father would have been proud of his grandchildren and their choices in marriage partners.  My husband’s parents would also have welcomed these family events with enthusiasm.

But the church pew reserved for parents and grandparents will only hold two people – my husband and me – for all three nuptials. I’ll admit the thought of that has brought me to tears a few times.

Mulling over middle daughter’s recent bridal shower and that old hymn’s words taught to me by my own grandmother (who didn’t live long enough to see me get married either) provided inspiration for me on this day in my Opportunity book. It reminded me how many showers of blessing have been bestowed upon us as we prepare for our daughter’s wedding.

Her bridal shower was truly lovely and my oldest daughter, the maid of honor, did an outstanding job planning it.  Surrounded by good friends and some family, I noticed blessings pouring over us.

Continuing the vintage theme my daughter loves and has incorporated into her wedding, we used a few family keepsakes at her shower.  Lacy tablecloths that once belonged to my mother and mother-in-law adorned tables.  The shower goodies, lovingly prepared by oldest daughter, my sister, and me was served on old fashioned dishes that once graced the tables of my grandmother, my mother, my mother-in-law, and even a great aunt.  All of those items represented blessings handed down through generations.

But it just wasn’t about things.  As friends and family gathered to shower my daughter with gifts for her new life with her true love, they also showered her with blessings of love.

From one spectrum to another, blessings flowed and I can still picture each one.  Two of my oldest and best friends from childhood, my tried and true friends, attended the shower.  Joining them was the mother of one of those best friends, my next door neighbor while I was growing up and in many ways my ‘second mom.’

The mothers of two of the bridesmaids also were in attendance, fellow moms who watched our girls make their way through junior and senior high school together, moms who welcomed my daughter into their homes and hearts.

And then there were my daughter’s college and high school friends – spread near and far, yet gathered together to celebrate the bride-to-be.  Good friends I’ve made since moving back to the homeland,  including my prayer warriors and confidantes, were also included.

One special blessing was the presence of my mother’s best friend, a dear lady who has known and loved me since my birth and who just last month celebrated her 95th birthday. She was so tickled to be included in this celebration.   Her daughter, such a part of our family that she almost seems like a sister, also attended.

Family is a huge blessing to me and that included my sister, my oldest daughter,  my soon-to-be daughter in-law, my niece (wife of my nephew) and happily rounding out the festivities, my adorable 16-month old great-niece.

Thinking back over that wonderful day, how could I feel anything but blessed?  And that’s when it dawned on me not to focus on who was missing for the celebration, but to give thanks for the blessings that were there showering us that day.

I find it fitting that I give thanks for those blessings this week as we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day.  I’m so grateful for the mothers who came before me, mothers who’ve come along beside me, and the young ladies, future mothers, who will carry the torch forward into the future.

Thank you, Grandma, for teaching me ‘Showers of Blessing.’  May blessings be poured out and showered over all of you mothers out there this Mother’s Day weekend.

There shall be showers of blessing:

This is the promise of love;

There shall be seasons refreshing,

Sent from the Savior above.

Refrain:

Showers of blessing,

Showers of blessing we need:

Mercy-drops round us are falling,

But for the showers we plead.

There shall be showers of blessing,

Precious reviving again;

Over the hills and the valleys,

Sound of abundance of rain.

There shall be showers of blessing;

Send them upon us, O Lord;

Grant to us now a refreshing,

Come, and now honor Thy Word.

There shall be showers of blessing:

Oh, that today they might fall,

Now as to God we’re confessing,

Now as on Jesus we call!

There shall be showers of blessing,

If we but trust and obey;

There shall be seasons refreshing,

If we let God have His way.

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Faith is…

blogDSCN8268“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”  ~Voltaire

Faith is a young woman believing an angel’s unbelievable message.  ~ Luke 1: 26-38

Faith is a man, taking that young woman who was with child – a child not biologically his – as his wife anyway.  ~ Matthew 1:18-25

Faith is taking a journey away from home to a different village and finding no room to stay when a baby is due to be born.   ~ Luke 2:4-7

Faith is shepherds hearing an astonishing message from a host of heavenly beings and then seeking a newborn child.  ~ Luke 2:8-20

Faith is waiting for years to behold a long-promised Messiah. ~ Luke 2:25-35

Faith is following a star.  ~ Matthew 2:1-12

Faith is believing a tiny babe came to earth to save us all. ~ John 3:16-21

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6

And faith is knowing He is coming again.  ~ Matthew 24:30-31

In my year-long book called Opportunity, Chapter 12, Page 23,  I pray for all of you to have the most blessed Christmas season – one full of faith.

“A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing.” ~  Victor Hugo

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanksgiving blessings

blogDSCN8156Thanksgiving

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

“For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.”

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we give thanks today,  this Page 24, Chapter 11 in my book entitled Opportunity, to the One who provides our needs.

May you be blessed with love, family, and friends on this special day and may you have many blessings to count.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Know that the Lord is God.

   It is He who made us, and we are His;

   we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving

   and His courts with praise;

   give thanks to Him and praise His name.

 For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;

   His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

~Psalm 100:3-5

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Counting blessings, a family legacy

blogscan0004Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year and it is right around the corner of next week.

My family and I have so much for which to be thankful.

As often happens when I think about the blessings I’ve been given, I immerse myself in the waves of nostalgia for memories that envelope my heart in gentle, caressing folds of love.

In the last years of my maternal grandparents’ lives, they resided with my parents and me.  Both Grandpa and Grandma died, within six months of each other, the year I turned nine.  So my childhood memories of them are brief but certain aspects of our life together remain vividly ensconced in my mind.

One of those cherished vignettes is sitting side by side with my grandmother in her favorite rocking chair singing hymns as we rocked in time.   Grandma may not have realized it,  but she instilled God’s Word in my heart with those “hymn sings” we shared.  She also taught me valuable life lessons through the words of those songs, one of which was to be thankful for my blessings.

I distinctly remember those song lyrics and one particular hymn has been swirling around my mind all week.  Today, this Sunday, in my book of Opportunity, Chapter 11, Page 20, we sang this old hymn, Count Your Blessings, in worship at our country church.

My husband and I worshiped God today in the sanctuary of this church  – where we were married and where middle daughter will marry her true love in a few months; where both of my parents grew up as members; where all four of my grandparents belonged; where my great-great grandparents were two of eight founding members back in 1820 – this church which was built upon ground donated by those great-great grandparents.

As I sang this well-loved tune, I thought about the legacy of my family heritage in this church.  In my mind’s eye, I envisioned my ancestors who worshiped God in that very spot all those long years ago.

But mostly as I heard those familiar musical notes, I could picture my elderly grandmother and my little childhood self in our living room at home, rocking in that special chair, and praising God as two voices – one worn, weathered, and cracked and one young, high-pitched, and tender –  sang:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

    Refrain:

    Count your blessings, name them one by one,

    Count your blessings, see what God hath done!

    Count your blessings, name them one by one,

    Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

So I am counting my many blessings and naming them one by one.  Even though this year had its challenges, I’m thankful.   One of my blessings is being the wife of my true love and mother of three amazing adults who come back to the empty nest from time to time for visits.

This past fall, our oldest daughter moved back to our nearby city from a state down south and it’s so good to know she’s within easy driving distance again.   Recently, she told me this: “I love being 10 minutes from one of my best friends, 35 minutes from my mom and dad and 10 feet from my sister!”  (They share an apartment in the city.)

Sounds like she’s very grateful and counting her blessings as well.  I’m hopeful that counting our blessings will always be an essential element in our family legacy.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Changing the world

blogDSCN7929Working for a non-profit organization can be one of the most rewarding of jobs as well as discouraging at times.  I know because I’m employed by one.

Rewards flow abundantly when I witness first-hand how we make a difference in the lives of others.  But days of discouragement can also reign when I wonder if we’re truly gaining any ground.

I imagine that most of us who labor in the non-profit world do so not because of any personal gain but because we want to make the world a better place.  I know my fellow co-workers diligently strive to make such a change, to follow our passion for righting a wrong, to serve others, and introduce them to a more positive path for life.

When it comes to personality types, some of us non-profit employees are Doers, some of us are Relaters, and some of us are Influencers.  We may go about our work in diverse ways, but we have one thing in common.  We endeavor to actually accomplish our goals, we don’t just spout rhetoric.

“The world is blessed the most by men who do things, and not by those who merely talk about them.” ~ James Oliver

At times, our efforts seem overwhelming, even futile, and we need re-charged and refreshed to continue our tasks.  That’s exactly what occurred a short while ago at my place of employment.

Our Executive Director announced at weekly staff meeting one day that we should arrive at work on a particular Monday attired in comfortable clothes for a Staff Retreat Day.  She refused to give us details just reassured us that we would be treated to a surprise.  Our organization has undergone several major changes in the last two years, and as change sometimes can prove stressful and challenging, she and our Board of Directors wanted to thank us all for “hanging in there.”

On a crisp, sunny morning we gathered at the office and were whisked off to a lovely country house owned by a friend of our organization.  We settled down in her welcoming home and were served our choice of hot tea, special coffees, hot chocolate, or hot apple cider with several types of mini-muffins to munch on and of course, lots of chocolate candy.  While we sipped and unwound, a Board of Directors member encouraged us with an inspirational message and prayer.  A time of sharing insights about our co-workers’ strengths followed.

Our hostess, who definitely has the gift of hospitality, called us to her dining room where a beautifully decorated table greeted us and we enjoyed a delicious lunch.   But our retreat day wasn’t over yet!  Another friend of our organization, a professional massage therapist, joined us for our afternoon surprise.   Each staff member received a warm soak in a foot spa machine followed by a foot massage, then a back and neck massage, and finally a paraffin wax treatment for our hands.

And as the info-mercials say, “But wait, that’s not all!”  Savoring a delectable chocolate dessert and another hot beverage completed our day of pampering.  Our hostess with the ‘mostess’ presented us with a parting gift – a beautiful red apple sitting atop a small carton of caramel dip all dressed up in a pretty package.  As she randomly passed the treats out to us, she asked us to read a message tied to each one.   Somehow, each message, though different, fit each recipient.

I found my message, “You can change the world!”  interesting and apt, because that is what I attempt to do with the young people I’m privileged to see in schools….change their perspective, change their behavior, change their futures, change their lives in a positive way, one person at a time.

It’s the 29th page in Chapter 9 in my book of Opportunity today.  This book (the year 2011) only has a few more chapters to go, then it will be finished and a new book will begin.   So today, I’ve been seriously contemplating that message I received on our day of pampered blessing and how it meshes with my year of opportunity.

I don’t want to be one of those people who just sits around talking about and waiting for the world to change.  God planted a desire in me to actively help transform people’s lives, which is exactly what I’ve done the last 10 years at my non-profit job.  But lately, I’ve wondered if it was time for me to move on to something else.  Now though, I’m sensing that the Lord doesn’t want me to stop just yet.

And I believe God doesn’t want me to stop sharing my faith journey with my readers.   Daniel 2:20-22 says: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.  He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things;  He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.”

Only He can make a real change in me and you.   All we have to do is ask Him.   And then He equips us to go out and really change the world.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Fall surprises

Surprise!  That’s the nice way I started my morning today in my book of Opportunity, Page 23 in Chapter 9.

A blogging buddy of mine Georgette Sullins bestowed the Versatile Blogger Award on me.  Thank you for thinking of me!  Georgette and I became friends way back in April when she commented on my Freshly Pressed post, When Nature Shows No Mercy .   I find Georgette’s blog always fascinating as she chronicles endearing stories to be saved and cherished for her family.

Since this is the first time I’ve been honored with the Versatile Blogger Award, I researched it to find there are rules to follow.   So here goes:

Rule #1 – Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.   (As the kids would say, Georgette, you rock!)

Rule #2 – Tell your readers seven (7) things about yourself.  (Prepare yourself, dear readers, these are very random!)

  1. I launched this blog on a whim, partly because of the weird funk I found myself in after my last child graduated from college, snagged a job, and moved to the state next door, and I also I thought I’d work through the empty nest syndrome by writing about it.  But this blog has morphed into more than just an empty nest activity.  Writing again has given me great joy and I’ve met some delightful friends through blogging.
  2. Hubby and I come from families with ‘three of a kind’ (I’m one of three sisters; he’s one of three brothers).  But we were dealt a ‘pair and a spare.’   After our two daughters, our third child was a boy.  We were so certain we were having another girl, we didn’t even have a boy’s name chosen!  Sonograms weren’t very definitive back then.
  3. When I was a young girl, I dreamed of being famous.  (What little girl doesn’t?)  At first, I thought I’d be a legendary actress, but later I decided I’d be a renowned writer.  Hmmm…so far, my only claim to ‘fame’ might be my one-time freshly pressed experience.
  4. I’ve experimented with a few different careers – teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, technical editor, and in the last 10 years, working part-time for a non-profit.  But my absolute favorite occupation (and my most important one) has been motherhood. I was blessed to be a stay at home mom for 19 years!
  5. My new found interest is photography – both taking pictures and looking at others’ beautiful shots.  I used to just click my camera to document special occasions, vacations, or my kids’ events.  Now, I grab it when I see something interesting or I just want to experiment.  I’m not very good at it, but I find it fun.
  6. My perspective on life totally changed when I was diagnosed with early stage and very treatable cancer 6 years ago.  The whirlwind of diagnosis, surgery, and treatment left me dazed, but later so profoundly grateful for life and much more aware of the precious moments in it.
  7. I don’t like seafood or coffee.  My husband loves both.

Rule #3 – Give this award to up to fifteen (15) recently discovered bloggers.

I’m veering from the rule here because my first award goes to a blog I’ve been reading for over a year now, so she’s not recently discovered, she’s one of my “must-reads” –  Homestead Rambling’s Blog.  We became instant and life-long friends when she found my blog and started commenting.  We’ve realized we are kindred spirits with so much in common, including our faith.  She truly is a versatile blogger because her posts may be informative, humorous, encouraging, or inspiring.  Right now, she’s writing about her recent journey to Alaska, a land that seems to be calling to her, and from her pictures, I can sure see why.

Crossing the Line  also deserves this award.  This blogging buddy has been one of my cheerleaders for some time.  Her comments always make me feel valued and appreciated as a writer.  I relish reading her posts on her relatively new blogging adventure.  As she honestly writes about the aspects of life that invite her to ‘cross the line’ and move forward on her personal growth journey, she reminds us all about our human frailties and how we can choose to take a different path.  She’s on my ‘must-read’ list too.

Rule #4 – Contact those bloggers and let them in on the exciting news.  (Boom, done, finished.  Emails complete.)

For now, I’m signing off.  My favorite season of fall arrives with some of my favorite people – the pair and the spare all will fly back to the nest this weekend!  We’ll have a full house with a family day Sunday.  That’s a gift that’s even better than a blogger award!

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I’ll be a sunbeam

blog441If happiness were measured by how much the sun was shining, in my world today it would be blindingly bright.

The last several months have been a bit of a trial for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest, not unbearable just a time of uncertainty.  We’ve considered much, reflected more, and have diligently sought God’s guidance as we faced a period of insecurity.   Through it all, hubby and I have tried to seek God’s will, petitioned Him in prayer and waited….and waited.

We’ve praised and thanked God the Father for the provisions He provided for us and how He continued to supply our needs during our bit of a trial.   We’ve held tightly to our faith and scripture from 1 Peter 5:7 has been especially comforting to me:   “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.”

And just like that first beaming ray of sunshine thrust downward from the sky piercing its way through the dark and ominous clouds of a rainstorm, our long-awaited answers to prayer arrived this week, not just one answer but two!

American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Just as there comes a warm sunbeam into every cottage window, so comes a love-beam of God’s care for every separate need.”

Today, on this 10th page of my book of Opportunity in Chapter 7, there’s not just a warm sunbeam shining in our country home cottage window.  Instead I feel like my entire home is ablaze with sunshine – a beacon of light – as God, maker of heaven and earth, has poured blessings upon our heads.

For most of this year, my husband has been unemployed.   There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, encouragements and disappointments as he sought another position.   In a period of time that can be devastating and demoralizing, I can honestly say – in our 33 years of marriage –  I have never seen my husband stronger.

Instead of embracing defeat, he embraced our Savior Jesus Christ more than ever through reading the Word and devout prayer, through servanthood to others, and his willingness to help those in more dire need than ourselves.

I believe God has blessed my husband for his steadfastness and faith, for his total reliance on Him, and for his thorough self-examination identifying attitudes and thoughts he needed to change.  Just this week, my husband was offered a job.  Not just any job, but a job that he is excited about,  an emotion he hasn’t experienced when it comes to work for a very long time.

On the heels of that sunbeam of joy that radiated down over us, our oldest daughter flew in for a job interview in our nearby city.   She truly loves her current job and employer in the Deep South, but after four years of living in that area, her heart tells her she doesn’t want to stay there any longer.  She recently expressed her desire to live closer to our family, a prayer desire Mama and Papa have lifted to the Father for quite some time.

After a promising phone interview, a prospective employer asked her to fly in for a face-to-face.  Again joy permeated through me like the warmth of a sunbeam when our daughter was offered a new job right here in our city!  Celebration reigned at our house this weekend!

This morning at o’dark thirty, Papa and I drove our beloved eldest to the airport for her early morning flight back south, where she won’t reside much longer.  This time, the farewells at the terminal weren’t melancholy, they were jubilant as we look forward to the future.

The sun started rising as we headed home afterward.  As dawn began to break, the old Sunday School song, “I’ll Be a Sunbeam,” came to my mind.

“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam to shine for Him each day,

In every way try to please Him, at home, at school, at play.

A sunbeam, a sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam.

A sunbeam, a sunbeam, I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.

I will ask Jesus to help me to keep my heart from sin,

Ever reflecting His goodness, and always shine for Him.

I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus; I can if I but try;

Serving Him moment by moment, then live with Him on high.”

blogDSCN7185That song echoed through my mind while I tried to stay awake as we entered a tunnel on our way from the airport into the city.  As you exit this particular passageway, you are treated to a full view of our beautiful city.  The sight of it never ceases to inspire awe in me.

This morning, upon exiting the tunnel, another awe-inspiring sight revealed itself – the gorgeous morning sun, rising up like a gargantuan round orb of luminous orange-red.  Its light blinded me as it perched perfectly between two sentinel skyscrapers, slowly ascending into the morning sky, and I chastised myself again for not grabbing my camera before I left the house.  It truly was a breath-taking, beautiful sight and I gasped, then said to hubby, “Wow!  Look at that!”

A scripture in Judges 5:31 came to my mind:  “So may all your enemies perish, Lord!   But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.”

As I squinted into the sun’s radiance, I thought, “How could we ever appreciate the sun if we never had night?”

Likewise, how could we ever appreciate the blessings if we never endured trials?  How could we appreciate life’s happiness if we never experienced life’s storms?

Jane Porter, a Scottish novelist in the 1800’s, once wrote:  “Happiness is a sunbeam which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray.  When it strikes a kindred heart, like the converged light upon a mirror, it reflects itself with the redoubled brightness.  It is not perfected until it is shared.”

Happiness, like sunbeams, are not perfected unless they are shared, and I think that’s true about faith as well.  That’s why I must share my faith in Jesus Christ with you in hopes that you too might want to be a sunbeam for Him.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Rockets red glare over our house

blogIMG_2871It’s the evening of the 4th of July.  After a busy weekend, I’m resting in my overstuffed easy chair in our family room with my feet propped up on the ottoman.  The French door leading out to our backyard deck is flung wide open letting in a nice cool summer evening breeze.

Hubby is watching something about the Revolutionary War (he’s a real history buff) on the History Channel on TV and I’ve been catching up with my blog reading and Facebook friends’ news.   A couple of hours ago, we stood on the deck waving goodbye to our son and his girlfriend who were here for the weekend.  They’re headed back to the other side of our state where she lives and the state next door where he lives.

Mama’s Empty Nest is quiet once more after a weekend of young people coming and going.  We hosted a picnic for some of son’s college friends, now married and immersed in their careers in the city near us.

The sound of young adults laughing and enjoying conversations and games made Papa and Mama happy.  But now, everyone is gone, the sun is setting, and all I hear are birds singing.  Sounds so peaceful, doesn’t it?

All of a sudden, this strange VERY LOUD metallic sounding noise pierces the silence.   Startled, I ask hubby, “What in the world is THAT?”

He listens, shrugs his shoulders as the noise escalates and we realize it is coming from the sky above our house!   Our first thought, because we are in its flight pattern, is it’s the Med-Evac helicopter which life flights serious emergency patients from our local hospital to city trauma centers.

But no, the sound becomes absolutely deafening like a jet – a very low flying jet – getting closer and closer and louder and louder until it seems like it’s going to crash into our house!

Hubby runs out onto the deck and I think, “Should we head for the basement instead??”  The noise overwhelms us so much, it panics our cat and she darts wildly into the house.

My instinct is to run and hide somewhere, but instead I follow hubby outside with my heart pounding so forcefully I truly thought it was going to jump out of my chest!  I’m literally terrified and expecting to experience impact when an airplane falls from the sky and lands on my house or my home is obliterated from a falling bomb!  (Yes, that thought really did run through my mind!) Suddenly we see what looks like a fighter jet whoosh by in the sky.

So much for a quiet evening at home.  The jet zooms off towards the city, and we still don’t know why it was flying up here in our rural neck of the woods.  All I know is it took a while for my heart to resume a normal beat, I really was that frightened.

No need for fireworks at our house on the 4th of July!   We had our own experience of “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”

The experience made me thankful though (after I calmed down!) because I realized how very blessed and fortunate I am.  My family and most likely yours too has never, ever had to live in a war-torn country where the ear-splitting sound of a jet plane flying over to drop explosives on your home is as common as daily life.

It also reminded me how horrifying that day in 2001 on a September morning was and how unbelievably petrifying it must have been to experience that shocking event first-hand.

And I’m realizing today in the 6th chapter of my book called Opportunity on Page 5 that I take my blissful home for granted.   I take peace for granted.  I take life for granted.  And it all could vanish in an instant.

So I’m thankful to God my Father for the unbelievable blessings He’s bestowed on our country for so long and I pray for His continued favor and protection for all of us.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

In ‘Crazy Love’ with Michael Bublé

blogDSCN7715There were about 10,000 examples of “crazy love” in the arena because that’s how many Michael Bublé fans attended his concert last night and I was one of them!

And it was obvious by the thundering applause he garnered that we were all crazy in love with this crooner.

A good family friend blessed hubby and me yesterday with free (yes, you read that correctly!) tickets to singer Michael Bublé’s Crazy Love Tour concert.  (Thank you so very much, KC!)

That gift passed on to us was such a lovely blessing because when hubby heard that Bublé was coming to a city near us, he thought about purchasing concert tickets for my birthday.  However, in our current economic state, we both decided to nix it because tickets were so spendy.

So naturally, we jumped at the chance to go listen to this amazing young man.  When I sent Facebook messages to all three of our adult children to let them know about our windfall, I knew they would be jealous because they all enjoy Bublé’s music as well.   Sure enough, these were the responses I received:

  • Oldest Daughter:  WHAT?!?!?!?!??!?!! Are you kidding?????? Who’s giving them to you??? I LOVE HIM AND AM SO JEALOUS!!! Have fun and take lots of pictures, please 🙂
  • Middle Daughter: What?!?! I’m jealous too! Lucky you mom!! Hope you enjoy the concert!
  • Son:  What?!

So can I just confess that I gloated a little knowing my kids became envious of something dear old dad and I were getting to experience?  I mean, really.  When does THAT ever happen?

Just call me delighted and tickled pink to receive free tickets to this particular concert.  An a cappella group named Naturally Seven warmed up the show.  Their voices not only blended well, but they literally ‘became’ instruments on stage.  They gave a stellar performance;  I want to keep checking this group’s progression on the music radar screen.  I imagine big things are ahead of them.

Then it was time for the star performer who arrived on stage in a theatrical way. (I won’t spoil it for those who may be going to see his concert).  I love this young man’s style, his smooth singing voice that just melts over you like butter on a warm biscuit, and his renditions of songs, old and new.   What I didn’t realize was what a showman he is.  And oh, he is!

He was entertaining, funny, and so very likeable.  He made mention of all those who held up signs for him to read as he sat down and chatted with us.  He made you feel like you were just lounging in your living room and he had come for a visit with you.  You know, just chillin’ with Michael.

He wished happy birthday to a young child and a teen, up close and personal.  The wide-eyed teen girl exhibited total shock when he ventured down into the audience to talk to her and planted a kiss on her cheek.  That young lady must have swooned home on cloud nine!

The bearded entertainer slid across stage, he bounced, he jumped up and down while he crooned and bopped and bestowed upon us a superb show.  He graciously introduced the members of his band telling us funny and heartwarming little stories about each of them.  And the band was fantastic, just simply amazing!

blogDSCN7716He treated us to old favorites like “Georgia” and “I’ve Got the World on a String,” jazzed it up with “Mack the Knife,” and took us back to the 60’s with “Twist and Shout.”   He mixed old songs sung with his undeniably Bublé-esque style woven in between songs like his own ballad, “I’m Coming Home,” and the whimsical, crowd pleasing “Haven’t Met You Yet.”  Of course, the crowd responded like crazy when he launched into his signature “Crazy Love.”  (Just an aside, the guy behind me shouldn’t have sung along, especially so loudly;  Michael Bublé, he isn’t!!)

Let me also make mention that unlike many performers, Bublé sounds just as amazingly good live as he does on his CDs.   His voice is as melodic and awesome on stage in a gigantic arena surrounded by thousands of his fans as it is in a recording studio.

In between sets, Bublé made us laugh with his funny stories and entertained us with his imitation of Michael Jackson, who he claimed in true confession time that he wanted to be (not be like, he wanted to be him) when he was a kid.   “I was so bummed that I was a white person,” he quipped.

blogDSCN7709Then he surprised everyone by jumping off the stage at the end of the arena, meandering while still singing through the crowd on the floor (surely a nightmare for security guards) and bounding upon a platform in the arena’s center to perform several more songs.

He explained that action by saying he apologized to those in front of the stage who paid good money for their tickets, but “these good people paid good money too” as he pointed to those of us out in the tiered seats and at the other end of the arena.

All too soon, he ended his concert back on stage.  The band stopped, the lights went down and the standing ovation audience roared, clapped and whistled for more.   In a couple minutes, the lights flashed back on and Bublé returned and treated us to an encore.

blogDSCN7707But just like life, all good things must come to an end.  I loved his last performance of the evening for us.

The lights went low, a huge subdued curtain closed to hide the band who stopped playing, and it was just Michael Bublé alone on stage, without a microphone, singing a cappella:

“And when my life is over, remember when we were together

We were alone and I was singing my song for you.”

Thank you, Michael Bublé, for sharing your talent, your passion and your joy for music with us.  As I recall your performance last night on this 11th page in Chapter 6 of my book of Opportunity, you made each one of us feel like you really were just singing your song for us, especially me.

©2011 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