On the threshold

blogIMG_2734I can feel it. I can smell it. I can see it slowly emerging.

I’m on the threshold. I’m waiting and anticipating. I’m eager and hopeful. I stand at the doorway, the front entrance to my cozy nest of a home, and when I open the door to the outside, it’s true that chilly air rushes in to envelop me, yet still it is there. There’s a hint of it, a whisper, a trace.

Yes, it’s a starting point. A point that promises me that something will happen, something will take place, something will transpire. And something will change.

I stand at this threshold. The door is opening although it seems like it is doing so in the slowest way possible. But each day, despite the temperatures below usual, the rainy and overcast skies devoid of sun, I know it is coming.

My threshold for waiting might be nearing an end but I know I’m impatient. I don’t like to wait. I don’t like to wait too long. And it’s been a long, long waiting period and I’m so willing for change.

So I bravely step over the doorsill onto my front porch. And I pause because I sense it is so near. I inhale and breathe in the scent of it. It’s almost here, yes it’s almost here!

And as I step off the porch with the white railing onto the firm footing of the concrete sidewalk, my hope springs forth.  I venture off the walkway into the soft and rain saturated ground, sinking just a little which prompts me to look down at my feet. A few slivers of green can be seen pushing their way through the lifeless-looking dullness of our yard. Newly rejuvenated grass is awakening from its dormant season – that long, long cold winter.

I tentatively take a few more steps, peeking around the shrubbery, scanning the woody brown mulch and almost holding my breath. And then I spy it! It’s here! A harbinger of spring!

The very first brilliant sunshine-colored crocus has bloomed in all its glory. And suddenly, it doesn’t matter that I’m shivering just a little without my jacket. It doesn’t matter that the sunshine isn’t quite as strong and plentiful as I’d like it to be.

What matters is I’ve stepped over the threshold from winter to spring. This little cheerful sign warms my heart with promises of good things to come. And as my eyes take in that little patch of ground, I spy more are popping up to join the party as well. Soon the white, dark purple, and light purple ones will join that little yellow flower in a flourish of color amidst the monotony of bleakness that has held me in its grip for so long.

And it occurs to me that it’s time I step over yet another threshold as well. I’ve been as dormant as my surroundings since I lost my job and along with it, my bearings, back in the fall. That event sent me into a tizzy at first and then into retreat. I rested all winter under a blanket of latent sorrow just as cold and unforgiving as the snow that covered our yard for months.

But it’s time to throw off the cover, time to move on, time for the promise of hope and renewal. It’s time to step over the threshold into something new. It’s time for spring – in more ways than one!

There must be potential for me on the horizon and this week’s photo challenge – threshold – reminds me of that. So I’m stepping over the threshold with a little yellow blossom leading the way. I don’t know where the path will lead me yet but I will stop and smell the flowers along the way and capture what I can with my trusty camera at my side.

“Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.” ~ W. Eugene Smith, photographer

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Food for thought for the woman in the mirror

blogdscn6840It’s Thursday morning.  I’ve just enjoyed a nourishing breakfast of orange juice, a bowl of healthy cereal, and a cup of steaming hot tea.  And my stomach is pleasantly full.

At lunchtime, I’ll walk to my refrigerator and pull out some leftovers from last night’s abundant dinner.  Again, there will be plenty to fill my appetite and ease my growling hunger pain.

When dinnertime rolls around, I have an oven and microwave to help me cook.  There’s plenty of food stocked in the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator and my plate will be full.

I own a beautiful and pleasant home.  There is a large, comfy bed to sleep in at night.  Enough covers to keep me warm when the night turns chill. 

I have electricity to give me light or power up my laptop when the battery drains.  I have air conditioning when it’s stifling hot and humid outside and a furnace to chase away the cold.  My closet is full of clothes and shoes.  In my garage, my car waits ready to take me wherever I want to go.

I have a job.  I have a loving spouse and family.  I have friends near and far.  And I have my faith in God.

You see, I am blessed with so much.  That’s why when I watched a video on Facebook this morning, I wept.  It’s time to make a change.

“I’m starting with the man [woman] in the mirror
I’m asking him [her] to change his [her] ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” ~ Michael Jackson

To watch the video, please click on the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=494748280602313

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Because this makes me happier than a…

I know.  It’s Wordless Wednesday.

And I’m deviating from the norm here.

For over two years now, I’ve posted one of my photos on this blog every Wednesday.  Photography has become one of my favorite pastimes since entering the empty nest season of my life and the more I submerse myself in it, the more I enjoy it .

If you’re a regular reader (thank you ever so kindly, by the way), you’ve clicked onto my blog today expecting to see a picture that I think needs no words – hence, Wordless Wednesdays.  I hope you’re not disappointed today to find no photography.

Never fear, I haven’t stopped taking pictures nor have I run out of any in my cache of blog worthy snapshots.  I just felt the need to change things up a bit.  I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately, as you may have read in a post last week.  Just tired of the same ol’ same ol’ maybe.  The routine of life.   Feeling like I need a change of scenery…or a change of seasons…or a change of something!

So today, I’m making a change here in the blog too.  I’m posting a video of a TV commercial that literally makes me crack up, laugh loudly and long, and commence repeating it because it’s so funny (at least for me).  Let me first say that I own no stock in Geico Insurance; I don’t even use Geico Insurance and I’m in no way suggesting you run right out and buy that insurance, but that company’s commercials usually make me smile.

This one makes me guffaw.  So today I’m posting it here in hopes that it somehow brightens your day with a little laugh too.  Because we all need a little cheer in this sometimes dreary, dismal world, don’t we?  And, after all, guess what day it is?  Hah?? It’s Hump Day.  Woot-woot!

So take a look if you haven’t already seen it on your television set.  And have a good belly laugh with me.  I think we’ll all feel better afterwards.  I know I will.

P.S.  Wordless Wednesdays will return to its regular programming next week! 🙂

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Hauling out the holly

blogDSCN8188What a difference a year makes.  That statement may sound cliché, but it’s true.

Here’s how I know this.

Today is the first Friday in December, Page 2 in my 12th Chapter of my book called Opportunity.  Last year around this time, my attitude was notably different than my attitude is today.  Don’t believe me? Read this.

Last year, I was:  (Pick one)

A.  Grumpy

B.  Grinch-like

C.  Melancholy

D.  Suffering from empty nest syndrome

E.  All of the above

If you chose “E,” you get the gold star!  Last year at this time, I struggled to drum up some Christmas spirit.  The crates full of holiday decorations lay idle strewn through the house, but I didn’t possess the motivation or desire to bedeck the surroundings.  My mind, kidnapped and trapped by melancholy, continually persuaded me to ignore the approaching season of joy just as surely as my heart, harbored in sadness, agreed.

Empty nest syndrome and grief over my father’s passing reigned.  My husband erected the artificial Christmas tree and strung it with twinkling lights, but it sat forlorn in the living room with no ornaments sprucing up its bare branches.   Garland did not festoon anything nor were candles blazing in the windows.   If it weren’t for hubby accomplishing the outside light decorating, our house would have sat as dark and dreary as I felt.

I was able-bodied, but always seemed tired, cold, sleepy or lethargic.  With no kids in the house anymore or elderly father to check up on, I sure had the time, but I just couldn’t muster up the inclination.  This lackadaisical attitude towards the Christmas season was as foreign to me as meeting up with an alien from outer space on my front lawn….it just doesn’t happen.

I’m one of those people who loves Christmas.  I usually have all of my greeting cards addressed, stamped and the annual missive to friends and family printed and tucked inside the envelopes ready to mail by December 1.  Shopping is accomplished early.  Tree and all of the other festive decorations  garnish and embellish our house the weekend after Thanksgiving.  But last year, I literally finally forced myself to do….something… and half-heartedly prepared for the most beloved time of the year.

Thankfully, this year is different.  I’m not so able-bodied (still suffering with some back and hip problems); I don’t have quite as much time; but I’m raring to go.   Our house is ablaze with Christmas lights and finery outside; hubby and I finished that Thanksgiving weekend.

The tree sparkles in the living room with all its treasured ornaments resting on its branches.  Christmas cards are addressed and will fill the mailbox soon (should be working on that Christmas letter instead of this blog post!).   With any luck, we should complete our shopping this weekend.

So what has changed from last year?  My attitude.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou

I can’t change the fact that my kids have grown up, moved out, and have their own lives.  I can’t change the fact that there are beloved faces missing from my family gathered around the Christmas tree.   But I can change one thing….me.   I can be a Scrooge, a Grinch, a Grumpy Gus, but I don’t have to be.

All it takes is a little Christmas and the knowledge that God loved us so much, He sent His only Son as the most perfect gift on that first Christmas so long ago.

Okay, I’m off to haul out some more holly and this year, the Christmas village will once again adorn the kitchen.  So in case you’re a little low on Christmas spirit, I’m sharing my all-time favorite Christmas decorating song with you because we need a little Christmas right this very minute.

 ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

My word power

blogIMG_0922Words.  Where would we be without them?

If there were no words, we would have no writing.  There would be no great works of literature, no poems, no letters, no dictionaries, no blogs for that matter.

If words were non-existent, we would have no speech.  We would have no names for people, places, or things.  There would be no conversations, audible or with sign language.

Words are important.  Words are powerful.  They have the ability to build up or tear down.  On average, we humans speak thousands of words per day.  Some people are more talkative than others, but even the most reticent among us uses words each and every day.

Some of us are like a waterfall, words rush dramatically from us.  Some are like a river, words flowing continually.  Others are like Old Faithful, quiet for a while then suddenly words gush out of us.   And still others are much like a faucet, we turn our words off and on just when they are needed.

We speak words of love and words of hate.  Words of comfort and words of anger.  Words of life and words of death.  Words of encouragement and words of destruction.   Words of blessing and words of curse.  Words can instill passion to do good or incite diabolical plans for evil.

The Bible gives us much instruction on our use of words.   Some of my favorite passages about words are underlined in my study Bible and I’d like to share a few of them today.

Proverbs 12:17-19  reminds me to choose my words wisely and think before I speak – “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”

I’ve been guilty of piercing my loved ones with reckless words of my own, and I have been the recipient of sharp sword-like words piercing my heart.    Not very long ago, I witnessed someone utter a careless, flippant remark which deeply wounded a friend of mine.  I felt her pain as the other person spoke insensitively  and I could see in her eyes how those thoughtless utterances affected her.

I wish I could say that my tongue always speaks soothing words of healing, but I know that’s not the case.  Sometimes, I let my anger, or frustration, or state of feeling unwell fuel what comes out of my mouth.   And then harsh words just spew out of me.

Those critical or abrasive words I speak do nothing but cause more anger and frustration.  At times like these, I need to heed this admonition from Proverbs 15:1-3: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

As I’ve matured both in age and spiritually, I’ve become more conscious of my words and more cautious to consider them wisely before I spout.  It’s something I wished I’d learned a long time ago.

I’ve known this scripture, also found in Proverbs, for most of my life but I’ve often failed to live by this passage each and every day.  “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

It’s Chapter 11, Page 15, in my Opportunity book.  This year of opportunity (2011) is starting to wind down.   But today, as I read the following passage in my guidebook for life, these words written so long ago made a huge impact on me.

“You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” ~ Psalm 139:3-5

God knows me inside and out.  He knows my heart.  He knows what’s in my head.  And He knows what I’m going to say before the words roll off my tongue.  Ouch!

I fervently pray that I’ll be more sensitive to His urging to check my spirit and examine my words carefully before I speak because my words have power either to inflict great damage or bless another with the soothing balm of grace.

And I have the power to choose and change my words.

©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

Labor of love

Meet Cutehead

Meet Cutehead

You may have noticed Mama’s been mum again lately.  This mama’s been too busy to blog, bogged down with a bevy of tasks. 

Baffled by bedrooms, I’ve bandied items around the basement, and now that I’ve burst through the barricade, I’m happy to report I’m breathing easy again.

Usually here at the empty nest, there’s not much astir.  But just as surely as the cool wind and rain brought a change to the season – temps drastically dropped down the thermometer from 90’s to 60’s today! – change arrives soon at the nest too.

Oldest daughter is moving back to the homeland from that place down south.  She’s commencing a new chapter with a new job in the city near us.  And can I just say that I am ecstatic that she will be nearby once again?  Until she gets situated though, daughter will move in temporarily with the ‘rents.

So you know what that means?  Mama and Papa have been shoving and pushing and cleaning and purging to make room for daughter’s kit and caboodle.   First we tackled the basement to make room for storage of some furniture – didn’t we just do that not so long ago? Click  I Declare War if you missed that one.

Next project was oldest daughter’s bedroom.   Along with the empty nest syndrome, parents of certain age fall victim to another malady called SOE (Spread Out Everywhere).   Since that room possessed a somewhat empty closet (well, don’t look on the top shelves at the Barbies, books, and Girl Scout mementos), Papa and Mama took over the closet space with extra clothes, extra pillows, mementoes and pictures…and stuff.

That situation required remedy since daughter needs closet space while she stays here.  Solution?  Just move everything over to other daughter’s closet….no wait…can’t do that, there’s a wedding gown, wedding decorations, and a miscellany of other items belonging to middle daughter there.

No problem.  Let’s just open up son’s closet….oh dear.  Why does that young man have so many items of clothing still hanging in here?  Not to mention, shoes, backpacks, 9th grade framed artwork from an art show, AND Papa’s suits (SOE, I tell ya!).   Pushing and shoving and squeezing uncovered enough room to transfer some items over there.

Time to address the chest of drawers.  Good grief, each of the five drawers is full of extra sheet sets, blankets, etc.   Now to where shall we divert this stuff?

All of this labor finally completed on Labor Day (Chapter 9, Page 5, in my Opportunity book) uncovered a plethora of paraphernalia and pleasant memories:

  • 16 gowns including bridesmaids’ dresses from weddings past, Christmas dance formals, Prom finery, and one 34-year-old wedding gown (that one is mine).
  • 6 high school and college graduation gowns.
  • Assorted college textbooks.
  • 3 high school letter jackets still adorned with pins for each sport (track, cross country, soccer, and basketball) and year won.
  • Stuffed animals with special significance (Rocky 2, Cutehead – that’s him grinning in the picture – and various other friends).
  • 1 lonely pair of Eeyore slippers strangely out of place next to the pairs of glittery, spike heels from aforementioned formal events.
  • 1 Science of Scent perfumery set (oldest daughter wanted to be a scientist from early age).
  • Childhood books galore, Barbies, and an array of special dolls.
  • Keepsake gifts given to our three as babies.

So what do we do with it all?  For now, it’s crammed into whatever space we could find and waiting – just as it has for years – to be surveyed, sorted, saved, or shed by its owners, our three adult children.

But that labor of love will remain for another day.

©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Connectivity

pexels-photo-442150.jpegMy mind is absorbed with the idea of connections today.

My handy-dandy dictionary defines connection this way: 1. Union; junction.  2. A bond; link.  3. An association or relation.  4. Logical ordering of words or ideas; coherence.  5. The relation of a word to its context.  6. connections.  People with whom one is associated.

There are connections everywhere we look.  Business wise, you have “connections” to get a job, to win an account, to get ahead, to succeed, to get into this organization or that.

I’m not very mathematically minded, but I do remember that there are many connections that must be made in math as well.   Geometry for one.  Wikipedia says “In geometry, the notion of a connection makes precise the idea of transporting data along a curve or family of curves in a parallel and consistent manner. There are a variety of kinds of connections in modern geometry, depending on what sort of data one wants to transport.”

Of course, connections are essential in technology.  I confess I also am not the most technologically savvy person, but I know that without my computer and yours being connected to the internet, I couldn’t write this and you couldn’t read it.  For simplicity’s sake, connections in technology are like fasteners linking one thing to another.

There must even be connection in the world of dance.  I’m also not a talented dancer, but I am absolutely enthralled watching dance.   Even though I don’t dance myself –well, except in a wild and crazy way when I’m home alone and I have some tunes turned up loud — dancing makes my heart sing.  And in dance, connection is defined as “a primary means of communication between the lead and the follow.”

Watch any dancing show on TV (So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars are two of my favorite shows) and you will hear the judges talking about making a connection either between partners or with the audience.

In our personal lives we thrive on connections to have relationships, be they romantic or platonic.  Remember the wacky TV show,  Love Connection?  No more goofy a way to make a dating connection with someone than today’s The Bachelor show, if you ask me.  And then there is online dating — another attempt at connecting.

We humans have an inner desire to be bonded or linked with someone, we just don’t seem to know how to achieve it very well.  I need to interject here that our Creator, the Lord God Himself, created us that way.  It was He who instilled in us this need to be linked, to be joined, to be loved, and it is He who fulfills that desire.  But He did not create us to be completely solitary, disconnected from our fellow human beings or from Him.   That’s why He bridged the gap of disconnectedness between His holiness and our sinfulness, by sending His Son, Jesus Christ into this world to save us.  Jesus is our LINK!

So back to connections….we all have family connections.  Again we want to belong, to be associated with a group of people.   I know, I know, there sometimes are family members we’d definitely rather NOT be associated with, but for the most part, we do want to belong to a family, be it native or adopted, blood-relations or family of God.

I just recently attended a “family reunion” that I have never attended in the past, partly because I lived elsewhere and partly because I didn’t really feel like I belonged.   “Family reunion” is in quotations because even though technically I do belong to this family because I am a granddaughter of a person with this last name,  I really don’t have many connections to this family.  Matter of fact, most of them I do not even know.

The connections between my family and this extended family were long ago.  My grandfather with this family name died in 1964.   My mother who had this family name would be 91 if she were alive today.   So yeah, far removed I am, as Yoda would say.

And then there is the theory of “6 degrees of separation.”  You might have seen the movie by the same name.  This theory is referred to as a human web and maintains the idea that everyone on the planet is at most 6 steps away from any other person on Earth.  You can sing “It’s a Small World After All”  here.  Yes, you are quite welcome for me bringing up that inane song and now you will have it stuck in your head all day!

Connections, connections, we truly are inundated with connectivity.  Then why is it that so many people feel the exact opposite?  Why do we feel disconnected? 

I speak for myself.  For all the ways I am connected to others and to my Lord, in one aspect of my life, I feel very disconnected.  Not in a depressive, moody, life stinks kind of way.  In a vital part of my life, I am experiencing a huge disconnect.  And I’m not the only one, my husband feels it too.  (Don’t worry,  my husband and I still are very connected to each other and our family, so that’s not it.)

I’ve been pondering this situation for quite some time now; my husband and I have talked it to death; we’ve prayed about it; waited; worked really hard at remedying it….and still we feel for us, it surely must be time to move on and make a change.

You know what Elton John used to sing?  “Oh, the change is gonna do me good!”

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com