Posted in empty nest, Life, nature

Words for Wednesday: where the wild things are

Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play…well, no antelope…just deer.

Situated in a rural area where this Mama’s empty nest home is, the opening line of that old song rings true except, of course, for the antelope part.

Frequently, our home plot of ground appears to be a wildlife refuge. Glancing out our windows, we aren’t surprised to find a wild critter or several moseying through our yard and we have had to take extra measures to keep them out of our garden which they think is a free lunch.

Naturally, we have the usual creatures traversing through. Rabbits galore and one very brave fellow who often came right up onto our front porch several times one fall. I suspect he was enticed by the pumpkins displayed as fall décor by our front door.

Since we lost our calico kitty a few years ago, field mice have been found nesting in our fire ring when it was stored under our deck for winter, in our outside air conditioning condenser, and even in our clothes dryer vent. That problem was soon remedied!

Nighttime brings racoons and opossums around the neighborhood, not to mention the odious skunks, who we often smell before we see. Huge fat groundhogs wander around during the day.

White-tailed deer regularly romp and stomp their way through our yard. A flock of wild turkeys strut around while toms flaunt their stuff with wide wingspans trying to impress the hens.  

One evening a few years ago while relaxing on the front porch swing and chatting by phone with a friend, I was surprised (and frightened!) to see a black bear poke his head around the corner of our garage. I was thankful that he was startled by a neighbor’s lawn tractor noise and turned around and lumbered out of here.

On another occasion, as Papa and I drove just down the road from our house, we were shocked to see a bobcat cross in front of us.

It’s true we never know what may cross our path out here in the country. Even though we don’t have a pond near us, geese have waddled through our yard and once we even found a turtle on our driveway.

Sometimes, the wild critters leave us a “present” like the one we found at the foot of our deck steps one morning, which we think was bear scat.

A myriad of beautiful birds gather at our bird feeder and suet cake holder: cardinals. tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, black-capped chickadee, white-throated sparrow, house finch, song sparrow, American goldfinch, cat bird, black-eyed junko, mourning doves, and a red-bellied woodpecker who frequents the suet.

Of course, those bully birds – blue jays – also appear and attempt to chase away the smaller birds. And then there are the pesky crows who seem to think our place is their hangout spot.

Often, we notice a hawk soaring overhead or sitting patiently, waiting for a chance to swoop down on its prey from one of the trees bordering our acreage and dividing it from the farmer’s field behind us.

On occasion, we’ve found evidence of predator violence on our property. We suspected a young wild turkey met fowl foul play in the jaws of some wild meat-eating creature. All that remained were feathers and “remnants.” I’m sparing you the gory photos I took and only showing you the “G-rated” ones.

Just the other day, Papa called to me to come quickly to the kitchen windows. We were both surprised to see a beautiful creature we’ve never seen in our backyard before – a red fox.

He wandered through the grass coming closer and closer to our house, stopped within just 10 feet or so, then turned around and hurried back towards the brushy area behind our property and continued into our neighbor’s yard. Regretfully, I wasn’t quick enough to grab my camera or cell phone to capture a photo of Mr. or Ms. Fox.

As I write this, my morning visitor has arrived. I’m often situated at our home office desktop computer early in the morning, checking email, writing/reading blog posts, editing photos. And for the last couple of weeks, a female cardinal has come to visit me.

She flies onto our front porch, perches on one of the outdoor chairs in front of our office window, and peers in. We don’t believe she can see her reflection in the glass because the window screen probably prevents that, but something entices her there.

She arrives every day, looks all around, and then seems to peek in at me sitting here at the desk watching her.

And every morning, I whisper to her: “Good morning, Mrs. Cardinal. Did you come to visit me again today?” She cocks her head as if she hears me and then flies away.

Unfortunately, if I arise from the desk chair or move in any way, she’s frightened off in a hurry. So, I’ve been trying to take her photo as best I can (not easy through blinds and screen) without getting closer to the window. The photo at the beginning of this post is the best I’ve been able to get so far.

Sometimes the Mister comes along. You can see his bright red color in the photo below. He never perches on the chair though – that seems to be the spot for the Missus – but he does rest on the porch railing.

Perhaps they are building a nest somewhere in our front yard, but I haven’t noticed one yet.

Wherever their nest is, I completely understand their urge to provide a safe home and protect their young ones. One day though, their nest will be empty, and the fledglings will have flown away.

I too know how that feels as I perch here in our rural home akin to a wildlife refuge, but I wouldn’t want my empty nest to be anywhere else.

“Living in a rural setting exposes you to so many marvelous things – the natural world and the particular texture of small-town life, and the exhilarating experience of open space.” ~ Susan Orlean

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in empty nest, family

Words for Wednesday: the three-ring circus at last

When the circus leaves town, there’s a void. Excitement departs. Noise including laughter and merriment is gone. Thrills and amazing sights exit.

And silence remains.

I’ve only attended a real three-ring circus twice in my life. Once when I was a child, our neighbors acquired tickets their grown children didn’t want, so Mr. and Mrs. W invited another neighborhood child and me to go with them. What excitement that was! I’ve never forgotten that special adventure.

I didn’t go to the circus again until I was a married adult when Papa and I took our very young first child to one. I’m sure she doesn’t remember it, but she was enthralled at the time with all the sights and sounds.

“Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away.” ~ Ben Hecht

Thoughts of the circus have been scampering through my mind as the silence in this empty nest of ours accosts me. Why? Because the three-ring circus that descended on our country home recently has now departed.

Three grown adult “children.” Three significant others. And three little grandchildren. All were present here one recent weekend to finally celebrate the Christmas gathering we missed in December because of the you know what.

And it was like a three-ring circus in a very good way.

The house was full of people, fun and games, an abundance of good eats, and gift giving, including a crazy white elephant exchange. And noise. Plenty of happy sounds. Joy at hearing three little cousins play together after such a long time apart.

Enjoyable conversations that lasted over the hours. Hugs and snuggles and picture taking galore. Laughter and exclamations filled the air. To add even more merriment, we celebrated two of the little ones’ birthdays even though they are a couple months apart.

Piano music (both enjoyable from our oldest daughter and interesting, ear-splitting from the grandchildren) reverberated throughout the house.

It even snowed to make it a white “Christmas” and an afternoon of sledding provided excitement for the little and big ones alike along with mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows afterward.

Mama planned games for the adults, complete with prizes. Some were team games – guys vs gals in Christmas song Pictionary – and some were individual ones like a rousing game of candy cane cards (played like spoons except with candy canes) and a 12 days of Christmas quiz.

The most liked game I think was when the gang had to hurriedly unwrap a big plastic wrapped ball of goodies. One at a time, each person tries to tear open the cling wrap while wearing large winter gloves during their turn to win whatever prize was in that layer.

Their turn lasted only as long as the person next to them rolled dice without doubles. When doubles were tossed, the turn ended, and the ball and gloves passed on to the next person.

We’ve played this game before, but this year I changed it up by inserting lumps of coal (chocolate candy wrapped in black with a note attached) in the layers of cling wrap. When a player unwrapped the coal, they had to stop and perform whatever the coal told them to do.  The person who unwrapped the ball at the end was the winner finding cold, hard cash.

We joined the children for simple games and activities like Christmas bingo with mini marshmallow markers, search for Santa, snowman freeze dance party, and even a treasure hunt with clues that led the three littles to a Santa’s Treasure Box. They followed the clues to find the box under the Christmas tree filled with goodies and little gifts.

And then there were the late night board games, which is what our family relishes doing when we get together.

All of it was the best blessing, especially since we waited so long to gather and then unforeseen circumstances like impending ice and snow storms, a waterline break in our neighborhood that left us without water for several hours, trying to locate you know what home test kits to ascertain everyone was still healthy, all threatened to postpone our celebration prior to their arrival.

But we persevered, we all were declared healthy, the water line break was repaired across the road and in our yard before they all arrived, we prayed for safe and smooth travel for those coming from far away, and we rejoiced when we were able to celebrate – AT LAST – the holiday we haven’t done together since December 2019.  

All too soon though, the three-ring circus left town and this empty nest, but it left behind a momentous memory to cherish. And as we take down the Christmas decorations in the middle of February and store them away, Papa and I are so grateful.

“The circus leaves a sweet memory.” ~ Fernando Botero

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2022

Posted in empty nest, family, Life

Waiting for Christmas

It’s January and the beginning of a brand new year – 2022. Yes, I know this because my wall calendar showed me it was time to turn the page and plenty of Happy New Year wishes have been uttered and proclaimed across the world.

But for this Mama and Papa in the old empty nest, it’s still Christmas. We’ve entered a time warp of sorts, a wormhole perhaps, that’s keeping us at a standstill.

We’re waiting for Christmas.

The outside of our home is still bedecked with garlands of greenery, wreaths on the windows and front door, and tiny twinkle lights of white and red outlining our house and front yard shrubbery.

Inside, it’s much of the same. Lighted garlands on the staircase railings, fireplace mantle, and other spots as well.

The lighted Christmas village still garners the top of our kitchen cabinets instead of the teapot collection that usually occupies that space.

A regiment of nutcrackers of various sizes are lined up on the piano. Snowmen and Santa have their assigned places as well.

The Christmas tree still adorned with all those memorable ornaments blazes in the living room and a child-sized tree with trinkets – many handmade by our children when they were young – stands in a corner of the family room.

Gaily wrapped Christmas gifts remain to be given. A schedule of fun games, activities, and prizes await, even a treasure hunt for the youngsters.

Christmas cookies are stored in the freezer. Planned menus and a gigantic haul of purchased groceries yet linger in the pantry and refrigerator waiting to be consumed.

The dining room table is festooned with lovely tablecloth, candles, and centerpiece, yet no one occupied the empty chairs there.

Various nativity scenes remain on display because they represent the real reason our family celebrates Christmas – the birth of our Savior and Redeemer.

Christmas may have passed by us on the calendar, but our family gathering for this holy holiday did not occur…yet. Yes, the empty nest was indeed empty on Christmas this year.

2021 was the year all our faraway adult children and grandchildren were traveling “home” for Christmas. And we all anticipated it with so much excitement and happiness to have this empty nest filled with love, hugs, and laughter again, especially since one set of family members hasn’t been “home” since Christmas 2019.

But, here Mama and Papa are — still waiting for Christmas. Why? Because a nasty virus that has held the entire world in its vicious grasp for so very long cast its malicious spell on members of our family, this Mama included. For the safety of all, everyone remained at their homes.

In the meantime, as we wait until we can join together as a family, we pause and give thanks for the greatest Gift ever given to this world – a Savior named Jesus Christ. And we are grateful for each day of life we are given, whether we have a festive celebration or not.

Nothing can take away our hope. Hope in a God who loves us, provides for us, and saves us. Hope for a healthy, happy New Year. Hope that we can gather as a family once more soon and celebrate Christmas better late than never.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~ Burton Hillis

©2022 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, Life, photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: roadies

Just call us roadies. No, we don’t travel with bands from coast to coast setting up their gear.

But we do travel…mostly via our automobile. So maybe you should just call us road trippers instead. For some reason, Papa and I love road trips, and if you’ve been a steady reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you will have already realized that.

Papa enjoys driving which might be a side effect from all those days he spent “on the road” as a sales representative for a national company. I grew up with a father who also relished being behind a car’s steering wheel and traveling near and far, so road trips were a normal part of life for me.

Sure, Papa and I have traveled by airline but honestly, we would rather drive. Excursions on boats and trains – we do take those as well, but they are relegated to just a few hours or a day trip.

Driving our own vehicle gives us a sense of freedom. We are on our own timetable, not tied to frustrations like cancelled flights, delays, or layovers.

We can leave when we want, travel as many or as few hours as we decide and stop whenever and wherever we notice a noteworthy spot to check out.  Maybe it’s a bit of a control thing, but traveling this way delights us.  

So, gas up the car, set up some destinations, and we are happy and excited to be jaunting off on a road trip. Cue the Willie Nelson song, “On the road again goin’ places that I’ve never been; seein’ things that I may never see again, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.” (Lyrics written by Willie Nelson)

When we venture out on our journeys, we don’t stay in one place for very long. Our idea of a fun vacation, unless we’re spending a week at the beach with family, is to travel each day by vehicle on those blue highways to see as many sights as we possibly can.

Being able to stop randomly at whatever piques our curiosity, floats our boat, or presents itself as a great photo opportunity makes our trips fun and remarkable.

Because of the you know what, we were itching to get back on the road again. Blessed that we live in a rural area, we could travel easily around our neck of the woods on day trips during that time.  But this past June, we were more than ready to take a vacation ‘somewhere else.’

As states nearby started relaxing restrictions, Papa and I began seeking in earnest a journey we could take away from this ol’ empty nest of ours. When a week free from childcare for one of our grandchildren presented itself, you know what that meant! Freedom to travel somewhere for more than a day!

The open road beckoned to us. We flipped open our Rand McNally atlas of the United States (yes, we still use such a thing!), initiated several internet searches, and pondered over what direction to take. And then it dawned on us – a trip close enough that wouldn’t take us days of travel to arrive but someplace we’ve haven’t visited yet.

Next week on my Tuesday Tour post, I’ll divulge where we traveled, but here’s a little hint: it involved some of these two empty nester’s favorite sightseeing spots.

“Making memories one road trip at a time.” ~ Unknown

©2021 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, Life, travel

Words for Wednesday: the journey

An unknown sage once said, “Life is a journey, travel it well.”

In the early years of our marriage, Papa and Mama were just young’uns in our 20’s, fresh out of college and embarking on careers. Papa was a military man and Mama wrote and edited daily newspaper articles when we lived on the plains of southwestern Oklahoma, half a country away from our natal families.

After a Colorado vacation in the fall of 1979, our long getaway trips for a few years included journeys back east to visit our families. And since Papa’s family lived a good 200 miles away from Mama’s family in our home state, a portion of our vacation time was spent on the road driving.

Those trips were filled with days of visiting relatives, friends, and just enjoying time with our parents. Going back ‘home’ became a good respite for us, away from military life and the day in and day out job stresses.

In between those long 23-hour journeys back to our home state though, we also jaunted off on nearby excursions to “see what we could see” since we were a childless couple for almost five years.

Weekend trips to Dallas, Texas for sightseeing, shopping, and fun. Jaunts to view western artwork at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City or to dine in popular and unique restaurants with friends in the city. Exploring Tulsa to experience what was then toted as the “oil capital of the world.”  Enjoying a change of scenery in the Ouachita Mountains in the southeastern part of the state. 

We attempted to expand our horizons beyond the seemingly endless prairie that appeared on all sides of us. A caveat of my job as an entertainment and arts reporter/assistant editor was the many opportunities to attend musical concerts, theater productions, and art exhibitions.  

Looking back on those times over four decades ago, just the two of us led a busy lifestyle. Times have changed; obviously, we have aged; but now it’s just the two of us once again since all our offspring flew out of the home nest several years ago.

We embarked on quite a journey to arrive at this stage of life. A journey that steered us far from the comfort of our hometowns and the bosom of our families to locales we never dreamed we would land. But that journey prepared us well for standing on our own two (well, four) feet without a safety net of family to rely upon. Just the two of us.

Life’s journey carried the two of us way beyond the boundaries of our beginnings.

For Papa, a stint in a foreign country on the other side of the world occurred while Mama kept the home fires burning and delivered our first child. After a total of five years living in the plains, our boundaries expanded to another eight adapting to civilian life in the Midwest only to once again broaden our horizon with a major change relocating to the Pacific Northwest for several years.

Finally, after all those journey highs and lows from one side of America to the other, we followed the path ‘back’ to our home state 20-some years ago. And now we journey from here – our country home.

Our travels now transport us to places we choose to visit for sightseeing, new experiences, and scenic spots to photograph.

Recently as we stopped at a traffic signal in a nearby town, I noticed a cling on the back of a vehicle (pictured at the beginning of this post) in front of us and snapped a photo of it with my cell phone.

The message – May God bless you on your journey – caused me to contemplate life’s pathways and especially the route Papa and I have explored from our wedding day until now 40+ years later.

We all understand that life truly is a journey. There are twists and turns along the way. There are mountain top highs and deep valley lows.

At times, there is ecstatic happiness while at other times, extreme sorrow. There are periods of health and moments of illness. Cycles of success greet us, yet failures and disappointments afflict us also.  

For some, the journey of life is a long, difficult road seemingly full of curses they must endure yet others seem to sail through life with sunshine on their shoulders, easy peasy.

“In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom and find the blessing in every curse.” ~ Anthon St. Maarten

Papa and I have had our share of both encouraging and disheartening pathways, but in all circumstances – whether they be beneficial and joyous or difficult downfalls – we feel blessed by God, our Father and Creator.

Why? Because we can always find something for which to be thankful. We are grateful. We cherish each day of life’s journey and acknowledge in prayerful thanksgiving the Giver of that pilgrimage.

My hope is that you too find reasons for gratitude in your life. May you be blessed by God’s boundless grace and love on your own journey as well.

“Life is a journey, not a home; a road, not a city of habitation; and the enjoyments and blessings we have are but little inns on the roadside of life, where we may be refreshed for a moment, that we may with new strength press on to the end – to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.” ~ Horatius Bonar

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2021

Posted in Christmas Eve, empty nest, Home

In Your Silent Night

Christmas Eve. Silent Night.

The words to the age-old Christmas carol come so easily to mind.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm. All is bright.

It IS a silent night here in Mama’s Empty Nest. Only Papa and I are here.

No grandchildren under the age of 5 run to and fro, happily shouting and playing and not wanting to settle down to sleep because of the excitement of Santa Claus’ arrival.

None of our offspring here playing games, raiding the fridge and snacks in the pantry.

Oldest daughter and son-in-love are in their home down south heeding travel restrictions.

Nurse middle daughter works her shift at her busy hospital. Oldest grandchild is spending the holiday with her father’s family.

Son and daughter-in-love with our two other grandchildren are nestled down in their own home many miles from us in the state next door.

All is calm in Mama’s Empty Nest. All is bright as Christmas lights shine brilliantly outside our country home and our Christmas tree dazzles in the darkened living room.

It’s just another silent night. Or is it? Not for us. It’s a night to remember and reflect on another silent night over 2000 years ago. A night when a Savior was born into this world.

If your night seems too silent this Christmas Eve, watch and listen to this video. May you find joy somewhere in your silent night.

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent., For this is still the time God chooses.” ~ Taylor Caldwell

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2020

Posted in empty nest, travel

Vacationing in October

Time changes things.

When our home was full of children, Papa and I only took our family vacations during the summer months when school was not in session. Both of us were raised to believe that the only reason you missed a day of school was because you were ill.

So we just didn’t think it was the best idea to take our three out of their classrooms for a week of vacation because they would miss so much and then have a lot of catching up to do.

Occasionally, we would take a trip during their spring break, but the majority of our family excursions for fun, relaxation, and sightseeing happened during the summer season. That continued during our children’s college years as well.

But things changed as time progressed and our offspring graduated from college, moved out of our family home, and set off into the world launching their careers and own ways of life.  As our nest emptied out, one by one, Papa and I realized we were free to do as we pleased.

And if we wanted to travel any time of the year, we certainly could do so. After our last fledgling flew out of the nest, Papa and I decided to take a trip down south in the fall. Our first non-summer trip as empty nesters.   

We traveled through several states, stopping along the way when some site piqued our interest as we made our way to Alabama to visit our oldest daughter who was living and working there at the time.

At every stop we made, we marveled at the lack of crowds. Families with school-aged children were non-existent at the points of interest we visited since school was in session. We found that we could take our time absorbing the sights and not feel rushed because tourists were not abundant at each place we stopped. 

What a new and great experience it was and we truly enjoyed our trip and the time we had together – just the two of us – like those days in our married life before children came along.

We had discovered a great perk to entering into that empty nest phase of life.

Since then, we’ve ventured on several trips during the ‘off-season’ of vacation time. We realized how pleasant it is to travel in the less busy seasons of fall, winter, or late spring before schools let out for the summer.  

And now that I am retired and Papa is semi-retired, we can pick up and take off on a journey whenever we darn well please.

Staying true to our discovery, we recently returned from an October vacation and it was glorious. Of course, since autumn is my very favorite time of year, I basked in the cooler weather and amazing fall foliage we encountered on our trip to Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula.

And I checked one more state off my bucket list of visiting all 50 states in this great country of mine. (Ten more to go.)

I plan to share my thoughts, photos, and experiences from our trip in the next several posts.

Won’t you pack your virtual suitcase and come along for the trip?

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” ~ Francis Bacon

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, family, Life

Here we go again

 

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

It was a bit of a déjà vu or, at the very least, that feeling of coming around full circle.

On a sunny but cool Saturday morning this past weekend, Papa and I were settled in our folding camp-style chairs on the sidelines cheering a youngster on the soccer field just like we’ve done countless times before in the past.

But this time, Mama and Papa were gray-haired and years older. This time, we weren’t cheering our own youngsters running up and down the length of the playing field.  This time we were encouraging our four-year-old granddaughter during her very first ever soccer game.

Incredulously, our Little One began her first soccer season this spring, learning the sport that her own mommy loved and played continuously through her school years and into college.

Incredulously, our Little One looked so big with her hair pulled back in a ponytail and clad in her YMCA soccer shirt, shorts, shin guards, knee-high socks, and cleats, carrying her water bottle.  Where did the time go???

Wasn’t it just yesterday, she was a newborn baby and those feet now sporting soccer cleats were tiny little barefoot ones? Wasn’t it just yesterday she was learning to say “ba, ba, ball” instead of kicking around a bright pink soccer ball of her own?

And wasn’t it just yesterday this Mama was the one hauling her own children to sports practices, games, and meets? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was a “soccer Mom”?  And a baseball Mom, a cross country Mom, a track Mom, a volleyball Mom, and a basketball Mom?

And now I’m a “soccer Nana”.  You blink and no longer are you parents of young athletes playing their favorite sports. Now you are doting grandparents reliving those days gone by as you watch the grands growing up.

Now in these empty nest years as grandparents, we’re smiling, cheering, clapping, and laughing while trying to capture moments with our cell phone cameras at the antics of four and five year olds as they attempt to maneuver the ball into the net. 

We have always jokingly called soccer at this level “bunch ball” as the players bunch around the ball trying to kick it. And bunch they did even if our Little One was a little hesitant to immerse herself into the fray.

She did make her mommy, Nana and PaPa proud as she managed to kick the ball (in the right direction too!) and jump back up without crying when she got knocked down.

As this empty nest Nana recalls sweet memories from years past of all of those activities of our own children when they were young, I’ll be eagerly making new ones with the grandchildren.

So for the next few weeks if you need me on a Saturday morning, you can find me on the sidelines of the soccer field. Here we go again!

“As I grew older I thought the best part of my life was over…then I was handed my first grandchild and realized the best part of my life had just begun.” ~ unknown

(Note: Neither my grandchild nor her teammates are depicted in the photo above. In order to protect their identities, I chose not to publish a photo of them, but use a stock photo from the WordPress free photo library instead.)

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, Faith, Life

When push comes to shove

One evening a week, my empty nest is full.  Full of ladies with Bibles and notebooks in their hands. Full of cups of hot tea and something yummy to enjoy.

And my heart is full. Full of good words of encouragement straight from God’s Word to share. Full of joy at using one of the gifts the Lord has blessed me with – teaching.

For the last couple of years, God has been nudging me to step back into the ring, not as a prize fighter but as an encourager. A teacher. One who shares what she’s learned with others in hopes that blessings will be poured upon the learner.

I’ve always been a teacher. I trained for it in college and earned a degree in English Education. I briefly taught in public school and relished my role in recent years as a substitute teacher in a private school. I’ve taught young children, teenagers, and adults in church settings more times than I can even remember.

For well over a decade, I taught relationship and character-molding programs to students 6th through 12th grade in my role as an education director for a non-profit organization.

And years ago when this nest first became empty, I used my gift of teaching in leading Bible studies for women.

So, I have the experience. I have the background. I have the ability. I just kept telling myself I didn’t have the time. 

Then one Sunday morning during his message, our pastor said this, “If God’s calling you to do something and you say you can’t, it’s because you won’t.”

Oh my! Bulls-eye. That comment aimed like a swift arrow hit me right between the eyes but more importantly right into my heart. In this case, God’s push became a shove.

After worship service, I told Pastor how God spoke to me through that morning message and that I needed to start a Bible study for ladies in my home. Pastor grinned and told me to go for it.

As if I needed confirmation, the next day a friend from my church, who had been a part of Bible studies I led years ago, phoned me to talk about an upcoming event. As our conversation continued, she asked me if I ever thought about leading Bible studies again in my home.

I laughed. Out loud. She was puzzled as to why I was laughing until I told her I was in the process of beginning that very thing.

I decided to hold the study in my home because I wanted those who attended to feel physically comfortable. I wanted us to gather in a welcoming room on comfy seats in my spacious home instead of a church building classroom with metal chairs or a sanctuary filled with wooden pews.

And my desire was to make the gathering personal. A chance for women to meet, share experiences, and delve into God’s Word to learn something we all hope to attain – contentment in this world where we may feel so dissatisfied a good bit of the time.

The Apostle Paul learned to be content in the midst of extremely difficult life circumstances.  He wrote in Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”  

God’s Holy Word is full of lessons for life and it’s not enough to just read the Bible. We must study it and apply it to our lives.

That’s my hope in leading this Bible study.  That we aren’t just hearers of the Word, but doers. And that will make my heart, in this empty nest, content.

“Contentment is just the realization that God has already provided for me today all that I need for my present peace and happiness.”  ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christmas, empty nest, Uncategorized

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

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