Empty nest Christmas Eve

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It’s true that Mama’s Empty Nest will be empty this Christmas. My loved ones are flung far and wide.

Oldest daughter and son-in-law embarked on yet another adventurous excursion in another part of the world over the holidays.

Middle daughter must take care of the ill and infirm during her hospital shift as a nurse while Little One visits her other grandparents in another state.

Son, daughter-in-law, and Second Little One are celebrating with DIL’s family this year in yet another state.

So it’s just Papa and me keeping the home fires burning and the Christmas lights on.

But I refuse to be sad because this is a holiday to celebrate my Savior’s birth. Hence the poem I’ve written below.  (With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, the author of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the empty nest 

Not a creature was stirring, there wasn’t one guest. 

Two lonely stockings hung by the chimney with care,

With no hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled elsewhere all snug in their beds;

While visions of their own Christmases danced in their heads;

And Papa in his pjs, and Mama not stressed, 

Had just settled in the bedroom for a good night’s rest.

When out on the lawn there wasn’t a sound,

But I decided to see just what was around.

Away to the window I walked so slowly,

And opened the blinds to look out and see.

The moon shined brightly like any other night,

But there was absolutely nothing, nowhere in sight.

No extra cars in the driveway, no human tracks in the snow,

There was only a deer darting through the yard below.

It wasn’t a reindeer but the usual kind,

And Christmases past began running through my mind,

When the house was full of laughter and fun

And all our children were home, yes every single one.

More rapid than eagles the memories came,

And I smiled as I remembered and called them by name.

That Christmas time spent with our first little child,

How excited she became and was no longer mild.

Then the second one arrived and doubled the fun

When two stockings hung by the chimney instead of one.

Our Christmas holiday became even more merry

With another bundle of joy in our arms we did carry.

As the years flew by in the snow bank of my mind

I thought how our family has been blessed oh so kind.

Three children God gave us to make our lives full

How I cherished each one of them every single Yule.

As I recalled special moments from all of those years

My eyes started filling with melancholy tears.

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

There’s no reason for sadness, no reason to bawl.

The blessings are many this cold Christmas night,

And I must keep them all clearly in my sight.

A husband who always stays by my side,

Whose love and support does constantly abide.

Three wonderful children who’ve grown up so well,

Their love and concern for me makes my heart swell.

And spouses for them that make our family complete;

The time spent with them all is truly a treat.

Included in the circle two sweet granddaughters dear

Who call me their Nana and make my heart cheer.

To add to the blessings in quite an array,

Is a new little life that will join us in May.

A family so loving, good friends far and near,

My home, good food, there’s no need to be drear.

Plentiful blessings abound in my life,

On this eve before Christmas, there’s no need for strife.

For the most wonderful gift has been given to me,

And it didn’t come from Santa nor was placed ‘neath the tree.

A gift full of indescribable love so divine

It came from a good Father, a gift to call mine.

For tomorrow we celebrate Christmas, it’s true,

And the reason we do so I must keep in my view.

My house may be empty of loved ones this year,

But my heart is overflowing with joy so sincere.

The reason for the season, it’s Jesus, my King,

And because of His love for me, it makes my heart sing.

On this night so holy, one to revere,

A Savior was born; at midnight it’s clear,

Christmas Day will arrive here in our empty nest,

But sadness will not prevail, instead I am blessed.

I will celebrate my Savior, let joy fill my heart,

Even though most of my loved ones and I are apart.

So I’ve put an end to my empty nest woe,

Christmas memories come and Christmas memories go.

But what is important is the joy we can find

When we look to a Savior and leave sadness behind.

The message is simple, no matter what your day brings,

Giving thanks for the Savior is what makes your joy ring.

On this quiet Christmas Eve, these thoughts my insight,

Merry CHRISTmas to all and to all a good night!

On Christmas Eve, I will not wallow in my empty nest. Instead I will sing Joy to the World, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and the First Noel

And I will give thanks to God the Father for His precious gift to us, His Son Jesus. Emmanuel. God With Us.

“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.” -John R. Rice

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

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Sound of silence

blogIMG_4396 (2)The sound of silence.

The folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released a song of the same name in the early 1960’s. The words to the seemingly haunting music are still embedded in my brain like the vision Paul Simon wrote about in the lyrics:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.  ~ Lyrics by Paul Simon

All those years ago when I was a young girl and even into young adulthood (before children), the sound of silence bothered me. I didn’t like it.

If it was completely quiet, I needed to have noise. Music from the radio or the stereo floating through the air in melodic harmony or sometimes crashing loudly in the form of rock songs filled the silent surroundings.

Or turning the television on just for some background noise did the trick. It didn’t matter what made noise, just so there was some.  I just seemed to need some sound to break the eeriness of complete silence.  That need probably stemmed from a little fear that niggled in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be totally alone.

When I found myself in a solitary mode, I filled silence with conversations either on the phone or in person with a friend, neighbor, or family. Anything to eliminate silence.

But then along came children – one, two, three – and our home was saturated with noise. Crying, sibling squabbles, boisterous play, and a houseful of neighborhood children adding to the mix eliminated silence.

Our kids’ teenage years brought even more noise – loud music and video games ruled the air. Chatty teenagers lounged in our family room, wrestled with one another, played round after round of Dance, Dance Revolution. Our house was one noisy place!

By the time the empty nest loomed in my future, I was more than willing to accept the sound of silence. But oh, that empty nest was sooooooo quiet. As the lack of noise became reality, I found myself wandering through an empty house in complete silence. For a while, it unnerved me. It saddened me. It made me feel as if that old loneliness called  solitude enveloped me once more.

But I adjusted. I learned to accept the new version of my life. One with the sound of silence. I found I enjoyed time alone. Quiet time to think. Tranquil time to read unhindered. Peaceful time to pursue aspects of life that fulfilled me, like writing in this blog, reading my Bible, capturing photographs.

And in my serenity, I also found that the sound of silence provided me with something that had been missing in a major way in my life. Time to be quiet and listen for the Lord’s voice, His direction, His guidance, His inspiration.  Time to be alone without the noisy interference of the world and to relish the sound of silence.

On this eighth day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m thankful for the sound of silence and for finally learning to accept it with an open heart, mind, and ears to listen.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The state I’m in

blogIMG_7547I’m in a New York state of mind.

That was my first thought when I read that this week’s Word Press photo challenge theme was ‘state of mind.’ Of course song lyrics to that old Billy Joel song would dance through my brain, it’s how my quirky mind works.

But really. State of mind. Hmmm.

The ancient Greek Plutarch once said, “In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.”

Truth, right? Our words (and this week even our photos) do declare our character and disposition or nature. I’ve often said that rude and vulgar language shows your true character just as kind and gracious language does.

So do I want to share my state of mind for this challenge in a picture and words as well? Often I’m not sure I want to share publicly the various places my mind goes.

An online dictionary defines state of mind as the “state of a person’s cognitive processes.” Well, my cognitive processes are all over the map.

In one fail swoop, my attitude can change from gracious to sassy.  My perspective can be swayed by circumstances.  My disposition varies from day to day.  My mood often even depends on the view outside my windows – sunny equals good mood; overcast and dreary mirrors my mood.

And no, I’m not bi-polar. I’m just one of those people whose state of mind fluctuates – a lot. That’s the thing, my perspective changes frequently because I generally can see both sides of the coin.  I see your point, but I see his as well.  I sympathize with you, but I see where she’s coming from too.

My state of mind is my way of looking at things.  If I was truly in a “New York state of mind,” I think I’d be continuously moving and busy just like that hustling, bustling famous city. 

But that’s not the case.  It used to be. Back when mama’s empty nest was a full house.  My mindset then stayed in continuous motion.

I recall this vividly because recently I peeked inside some old yearly planners I had stashed away in a closet.  Every day marked some kind of activity, event, or item to remember. 

And most of those daily notations revolved around my growing children: piano, dance, swimming, or gymnastic lessons; soccer, volleyball, track, cross country, basketball, or baseball practices; appointments for doctors, dentists, or haircuts; school events like book fairs, musical concerts, PTA meetings, school carnivals and fundraisers, classroom volunteer days.

Then there was the social aspect of my children’s lives: birthday parties, sleep-overs, play dates.  Scout meetings, day camps, youth group meetings. They were all duly noted in my day timer planners.

In addition to my children’s schedules, my own also proved very full.  Church events, volunteer opportunities, dinner parties, lunches with friends, baby-sitting friends’ children, writing newsletters for church and parent-teacher organizations, church socials, the list continued on and on.

And you know what? It made me tired just reading it all and I honestly wondered how I managed to accomplish everything each and every day with three active children and a traveling salesman husband to boot.

As I’m approaching retirement age – 62 on my next birthday –my way of looking at things, my perspective, yes, my state of mind has changed considerably.

I like this non-New York state of mind I’m in.  Granted with grandbaby in my life, it isn’t always tranquil and quiet here in the empty nest.  Actually, it’s not really empty any more with daughter and grandbaby here. 

But this state of mind is one I can handle in this season of life.  I choose an outlook that’s bright; my approach is to be thankful and content; and my mindset is to stay focused on my faith and trust in my God.

“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” ~ Brennan Manning

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Embracing Joy

blogIMG_2372It’s time to haul off the holly.  Drag it down.  Pack it up.  Store it away for another year.

The season of joy is over….or is it?  We finish celebrating the Christmas season and ring in the New Year with revelry or just a quiet, contemplative evening at home.  And then when New Year’s Day arrives, we clean it all up.  We tear down the Christmas fa-la-la and return our homes to ‘normal.’  Often they look bleak and stark without the festive finery sprucing (pardon my pun) everything up.

After it’s all gathered and stored away, my house looks stripped bare.  And I have to admit, sometimes my heart and soul seem bare as well.  It’s the big after Christmas let-down and I’ve often suffered from this malaise.  After a month-long season of making merry, the long stretch of winter weather looms ahead and can appear anything but full of good cheer. 

Especially when you live in an empty nest.  You awaken each morning in darkness and nightfall descends by late afternoon.   You settle back into the same old routine of living in a silent house with just the two of you and one extremely sleepy cat. 

You vacuum up the cookie crumbs.  Corral all of those stray plates and glasses into the dishwasher.  Scour the bathrooms until they’re sparkling again.  Set the washer and dryer to a frenzy cycle laundering all the sheets and towels. 

Gone are the overflowing suitcases.  Gone are all the shoes tossed willy-nilly by the door.  Gone are the purses, gloves, car keys, and overabundance of electronics that were strewn throughout the house. Gone are the three out-of-state licensed cars in the driveway. 

And you might think joy flew right out that opened door when the last ones hauled all of their belongings and themselves through it as they departed. 

But you know what?  Joy only expires if you want it to.  Joy lingers when you embrace it.  I find it no coincidence that this week’s photo challenge is ‘joy’ right when I want to write about that very emotion.  Right when I want to seize it, hold it dear to my heart, and never let go of it.

Joy shouts through my house at remembrances of times spent together as a family.  Joy rings with laughter as it recalls stories told and games played and meals enjoyed around the table and gifts exchanged. 

Joy remembers the sight of three grown adults with spouses sprawled around the family room watching old video tapes of the Christmas television specials they loved as children.  Joy resonates when it’s captured on loved ones’ faces through photographs.  Joy explodes in the heart when a simple text message is received:  “Just got home.  Thanks for the awesome Christmas.  Love you!!”

The sights and sounds of Christmas may be put away for another year but joy remains.

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” ~ Richard Wagner, German composer

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

I’m dreamin’ of vacation…in a year or two

The last family beach vacation  - 2005

The last family beach vacation – 2005

School’s out.  Summer just literally arrived.  And you know what that means.

A person’s thoughts turn to going on vacation.

I am in need of one.  I’ve experienced a hectic year…no, make that a hectic two years

Last year whipped by in a flurry because of all the wedding planning for our three offspring who married within six months of each other.  And as this year forged its way to the half-year mark, more demands at work and other commitments occupied my time.

So a vacation sounds just like the ticket to me.  Actually, a ticket anywhere sounds great!   But unfortunately, the thought of a vacation is just that – a thought.

Reality is a stay-cation.  My summer calendar is quickly filling up with appointments and obligations and hubby’s vacation time has been used for other purposes (weddings and small trips) until he reaches another milestone at his job.

Once while I talked whined about my married kids living so far from home, a thoughtful listener reminded me that this gives us opportunities to discover and explore the places where they live.  So one of the empty nest plus points is that if you have the time, you can visit your children flung hither and yon – some mini-vacays squeezed in here and there. 

We’ve started doing just that.  For Thanksgiving, we visited son and daughter-in-law and enjoyed attractions in their area.   At Easter, we spent the holiday weekend with middle daughter and son-in-law in our neighboring state south of us and took in the lay of the land there.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a longer trip to the new home of oldest daughter and son-in-law.  Although we have visited their city previously, we experienced some good eats and something we’ve never done before. 

As it turned out, our son and daughter-in-law also joined us there.  We had a great time together but we all missed the other two (middle daughter and son-in-law).  And that got this empty nest mama to thinkin’!  But I’ll save that for the end of this post.

Our culinary treats during our visit to the bluegrass state included down-home barbeque for a yummy and truly finger-lickin’ good lunch at Marks Feed Store  and a Sunday after church lunch at a rather unique restaurant called Mussel & Burger Bar.  Of course, ice cream is always necessary, so we sampled some deliciousness at Graeter’s,  which immediately became one of our favorite ice cream spots.  

As you read this you may be thinking, “Is that all you did while you were there – eat?” No!  We stopped by for a friendly visit with Rodin’s famous statue, The Thinker, and some of us pretended to be great intellectual scholars and posed for photos.

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The bugler playing the Call to Post at Churchill Downs

 And for the first time, we spent a day at the horse races at Churchill Downs.

Rodeos and horse shows?  Been there, done that.  But I’d never attended a horse race before. 

On one of our previous trips south, we visited this attraction, but there were no races that day so we just paused for photos outside the facility.

This time we joined the excitement. Daughter and son-in-law obtained box seat tickets for all of us in the Clubhouse right near the finish line on a lovely  afternoon.  Watching those sleek and incredibly beautiful horses  glide effortlessly around the race track was amazing!  (I’ll post more photos later.)

Afterwards, we girls modeled some extravagant Kentucky Derby style hats we found in the gift shop.  If I bothered to keep a bucket list, it would be one of those items to draw a line through and cross off with a flourish.

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Confederate soldiers’ graves at Cave Hill Cemetery

As unbelievable as it sounds, another spot I enjoyed visiting was Cave Hill Cemetery, one of the most interesting cemeteries I’ve seen. 

No, I’m not morbid.  My photographer’s eye just couldn’t get enough of the unusual and intriguing monuments (Kentucky Fried Chicken’s famous Col. Sanders is buried there). 

These weren’t just grave markers, they were pieces of art as well as mausoleums, some built into hillsides, and something this Yankee-bred girl has not seen much of – Confederate Army Civil War soldiers’ graves. 

The history is rich.  You could wander around there for hours and the spring-time scenery proved so lush and green, and yes, I’ll say it, peaceful that my camera kept clicking non-stop.

So where will our next mini-trip take us?  Not sure.  But in the meantime, an idea planted in my brain during that trip took substance.  These empty nest parents would love to plan a family vacation with all our kids. 

Happily, they all jumped on board with a plan to descend on a beach destination in the next year or so.  We’d like to spend a week together somewhere on the Mid-Atlantic East Coast that wouldn’t necessitate long driving trips for everyone. 

Now the question is where?  A  nice family friendly beach we’ve not been to before sounds promising so the search commences.  We’re open for suggestions!   

Okay, now I have an urge to go listen to Beach Boys songs….and start surfin’ the net for a beach location because ‘wouldn’t it be nice?’

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

All points bulletin: Empty Nesters

Dear Mama’s Empty Nest Readers,

Today’s post is a special request and I’m hoping you can help me out with this one. It’s an APB!  Yep, that’s what I said!  An APB (all points bulletin) for empty nesters!

I’ve been contacted by a researcher from the Steve Harvey Show in Chicago.  The show is looking for families who are soon entering the empty nest stage of life for a segment on the show.

If your last child is graduating from high school and you are facing the empty nest or know friends or family members who are and would be willing to be contacted by the show, please contact Ryan Porter at this email address:  ryan.porter@steveharveytv.com

Oh, and did I say he needs help with this one immediately?!  He’s on a deadline and if you contact him, he will be one happy camper!

If you want more information on Steve Harvey’s talk show, click here for the official website.

Thank you!!

Sincerely,

Mama’s Empty Nest

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Preparing to fight the fog

I wonder.  I wonder what I’ll talk, think, and write about when it’s all said and done.

When all the planning is complete.  When all the vows have been said. 

When all the wedding décor disappears from its current abode in my dining room. 

When all the gifts have been re-boxed, packed up, and stacked into a moving truck headed for their new location.

When the basket of towels and sheets waiting to be laundered revert back to small loads.  When the table is set for dinner for two, not three. 

When three bedrooms are tidy and I can walk unhindered through my basement void of oldest daughter’s furniture and boxes.

When hubby and I drift into that steady routine consisting of work, cooking dinner together, and quiet evenings in our country home with the cat dozing on one of our laps.

When we passively shuffle along dulled by the monotony of everyday life like travelers seated on a passenger train, heads tilted back with eyes closed, just riding…gliding…lulled by the steady rhythm, jostled a little back and forth as the train clickety-clacks along the journey tracks and we endure the ride.

Will that be what it’s like?  When I wander through the house, empty-nested again.   And I wonder when the misty blanket of empty nest fog will try to envelop my thoughts and emotions once more.

Fall, my favorite season of all, will be ending and the dark night of winter will descend upon us.  Color will vanish for months and be replaced by hues of browns, blacks, and grays.

The trees will bare their limbs, the grass will fade to brown, and the flowers will all commence their winter night slumber.   The sky will grow dim and gloominess will usurp fall’s colorful power and reign while the sun plays hide and seek and the days grow shorter and darker.

And I will have to fight the dreariness, the lack of sunshine, and that empty nest feeling all over again. 

I usually enjoy winter with its lacy snowfall and its icy curtains.   I love the distinct changes of seasons, so I generally welcome winter’s arrival when Jack Frost nips at my nose and Suzy Snowflake dances through the air.

But I’m not sure this year about winter.  I’m not sure that the season’s artic air isn’t going to knock the wind right out of me and lay me flat.   

When ol’ man winter wraps his icy fingers around my home, I think I will struggle to shake his frosty grip from my state of mind.

As I grab wooly blankets and sweaters to keep me warm, I might also need to grasp spring-like reflections to break free from the chain of those empty nest moments of sadness, especially because none of our newlyweds will live in the same state as Mama and Papa.   Our times spent together as a family will be less often and holidays will be shared with their other families.

It’s a cycle that must be lived.  A reality of life that must be forged through as the parents of newly married young adults.  And for me, it will prove a triple whammy when all three of the weddings are completed next month.

Just as the bushy-tailed squirrel gathers sustenance with his acorn stash for winter survival, I will gather my to-do lists, make plans to keep busy, and remember to give thanks for the stockpile of golden happy memories we made this year – the year of the weddings.  

I will stack them in heaps of joy, hoarded in the hideaway of my heart to produce them when the empty nest sadness threatens to encase me. 

I will be grateful in the upcoming days of opportunity, even though they may be tinged with bitter-sweetness.  Because it is a choice to embrace joy amid the sorrow, to welcome the sun light through the clouds, to feel love’s warmth in the shroud of fogginess.  

In the face of winter’s gloom, I will choose joy.

And I will pray.  For blessings for my children – all six of them now.  For renewed vigor and purpose for hubby and me. 

And I believe I will pray for spring to come early.

 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die,  a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal,  a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,  a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

We all shine on

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An inspiration star

Do you ever wonder where inspiration really comes from?

Sometimes our temporal lives seem so mundane.  We get up, we go to work, and we come home.  In between we eat, talk, complete the necessary aspects of life that need attended to, and sleep.

We find entertainment and escape from the drudgery of toil in different ways.  For some, it’s opening up a good book (or their Kindle).  For others, it’s mindlessly watching television or videos.  For yet others, it’s whiling away hours on the laptop playing games.

But that kind of life leaves us feeling empty, I think.  And I must confess I can easily fall into this same trap of dull, routine tedium.

Life has been busy and full in Mama’s Empty Nest as most of you regular readers know.  But even with all the activity, monotony occasionally sets in.  And when it does, it causes me to ponder what will happen when all the hustle and bustle dies down.  Because it most surely will.  Just as morning follows night.  As the sun rises, so does it set.

In between all the moments of joy the last few months, I’ve encountered sober moments as well.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I shed tears of sympathy and grief with a friend who recently and unexpectedly lost her husband.  I listened as she shared her struggles in dealing with his death, changes that are taking place in her life, and huge decisions she is facing.  And I cried with and for her.

Later in the day, my feelings got hurt by someone dear to me and that brought me close to tears. I realized I was being overly sensitive, no doubt due to the melancholy atmosphere of my day.  But then, as I examined my thought processes, another reality of life slammed into me producing tears yet again.

Our first child is getting married last in the queue of family weddings.  And while that brings me exquisite joy, it will be a bittersweet time for my husband and me.

Last year, she moved from the Deep South back to our home state with a new job in our nearest city.  What joy that brought to our hearts to have her near home once again!

She lived in an apartment in the city with her sister, our middle daughter, until that daughter got married and the lease was up for the place.  Since oldest daughter’s plans for life after marriage weren’t finalized yet, she moved back home with Mama and Papa temporarily about a month after her sister married and moved to the state just south of us.

But now, with her upcoming marriage, oldest daughter will once again move away.  She and her fiancé will commence their united life in his home state, about a seven hour drive away from our home nest.

With that reality, middle daughter and son-in-law living a couple hours from here,  and knowing son and his bride-to-be also will live several hours away in a different direction, it’s like going through those old empty nest feelings all over again.  The thought of all my children (all six of them!) scattered away from our home dampened this mama’s day and threatened to drown my joyful heart.

I retired for the night feeling tired, emotion-filled, and weary.   When I awoke this morning, crisp, cool fall-like air wafted through our open bedroom windows.  Bright sunshine flooded the room as I opened the blinds.  Birds sang their happy tunes and I heard the whoosh of school bus brakes as it stopped to pick up neighborhood children.

The promise of a beautiful day showed itself and I had the day off work.  Still a hint of gloominess grasped my thoughts.   I stumbled down the stairs with a basketful of towels to launder, threw them in the washer, and placed a full tea kettle on the stove for a steaming hot cup of tea.

While waiting for the familiar whistle of the kettle, I washed a few stray travel cups that were left in the kitchen sink from yesterday.  I glanced outside my kitchen window and that’s when I saw it.

I stared at it again, perplexed.  I tilted my head, changed my location and viewpoint,  and scrutinized the sight again.   And that’s when I grabbed my camera and inspiration washed over me.

Not just any inspiration,  God-inspired encouragement.  This scripture resonated in my mind:  “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”  ~ Psalm 8:2-4

 As I stepped into the cool, dewy wet grass of my back yard with the warmth of glorious sunshine radiating on my back, I snapped a picture of something that wasn’t there yesterday or I just had not noticed it in my gloomy frame of mind.

And I knew in my heart that this sign was God telling me He knows my heart, He knows my fears, He knows my mother’s heartache and joy, and He cares.  And He will fill my empty nest with His love, His goodness, His mercy.

Martin Luther wrote, “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”  

I found that statement to be most true today in yet another chapter of my life’s book of opportunity.  It was as if God displayed His Word written right in front of my eyes this morning.  So what did I see?

It might seem ordinary to some, but not to me.  For about a week, I’ve noticed tent worms had spun their cobweb-like wispy ‘tent’ on a tree bordering our property.

This tent spread out willy-nilly with no defining shape to it whatsoever….until this morning.

This morning that previously shapeless tent was formed into a star (click on my photo at left to enlarge).

A star with a message to me from my Father God.  “Shine on, my daughter, shine on.  I will always be with you even in your empty nest.”

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” ~ E. M. Forster

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynestwordpress.com

Here today, gone tomorrow

blogDSCN8943Just a few days ago, they dotted my green expanse of yard with cheery spots of bright yellow.  And now each and every one of them is gone.

They were the dandelions.  The sunny little bloom that most people think of as weeds.  When I see them though, they remind me of childhood.  Of warm, spring-like days when the sun shined brightly as I hopped off the school bus and walked through our yard to my home.

I would stop here and there and gather up a handful of blooming dandelions.  Their juicy stems left a sticky sap on my fingers, but I didn’t mind.  As I presented my little bouquet gift of dandelions to my mother, she never once said, “Why are you picking these weeds to bring to me?”  Instead she would ask, “Aren’t they pretty?” and put them in a jar of water on the kitchen table.

Today people use weed killer spread over the lawn in an attempt to eradicate these bursts of color in their yard.  But I don’t.  Because yellow, perky dandelions remind me of spring and sunshine and childhood memories and even my own children.  And they make me smile and fill my heart with happy thoughts.

But time marches on and so the dandelions come to the end of their blooming cycle.  Where once were lemony colored petals on the stem, only wisps of seeds remain.  When I was a child, I picked the stems after the blooms turned to white balls of fluff, closed my eyes, made a wish, inhaled a deep breath,  and blew with all my might to send the dandelion seeds and my wishes sailing into the air.

A spring gust of wind would lift the feathery seeds up and carry them along as they floated and sailed in the breeze.  Fluttering.  Gliding.  Drifting.

Today in my book called Opportunity, I’m reminded that life is much like the dandelion.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

Bursting forth with vim and vigor, and then fluttering along in the air of life. Floating.  Sometimes soaring, but eventually brought down to earth until we wither and are no more.

But the story doesn’t end there.  The dandelion seeds produce more happy yellow blooms next spring.  For us humans, our legacy lives on in our children and their children.  Just like dandelions.

In reflection of that, I’m savoring my thoughts and memories today, holding tight to these joyous moments of life as we prepare to marry off our three offspring.   Just yesterday it seems my home was noisy and full of rambunctious children.  Now it is quiet and tranquil.

Just yesterday it seems my middle child, the one full of spark and livelihood, was a youngster.  And now she is a grown up young lady who will be dressed in white lace and escorted down the church aisle by her father to be given in marriage in just one short month.

She’ll fly off with her husband …. her husband…my daughter is old enough to have a husband!   There will be new adventures for her, a new home, a different state in which to live, even a new job.   She looks forward to this exciting next chapter of her life with such joy.  I saw it glowing in her face at her bridal shower this past weekend as she opened her  gifts and talked about the wedding.

Just like the dandelions I once held in my hands, I also once held my precious children.  And now the day draws near when I must release them completely.  As the wind carries the wispy remains of dandelions to and fro in this spring season, my children also will soar into their futures, to their upcoming marriages, to their new lives in this current season of life.  I will watch and rejoice as they float and glide along and I will remember dandelions.

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