Wednesday with words

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I’m taking a little deviation from the norm on this Wednesday and posting a photo with words instead of my usual Wordless Wednesday. I agreed to the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge extended to me by my blogging buddy Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul. Thank you again, Yamina, for nominating me.

If you missed my post yesterday, click here to read more. In order to fulfill the rules of this challenge, I’d like to nominate any of my blogging friends willing to take up the gauntlet of posting three quotes for three days in a row. You don’t have to use photos like I did, just post quotes if you’d like.

Marrying my love for quotes with my photography hobby has been fun and more challenging for me.

I captured this photo near Asheville, North Carolina one summer in the early evening. I remember how well the sun’s rays radiated through the clouds in this photo and I knew it was a perfect fit for the Corrie Ten Boom quote.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian whose family hid Jews in their closet during World War 2 helping them escape from the terror of the Holocaust, spoke volumes about her faith in this quote. 

She knew firsthand how to let God’s promises overcome her problems. Both she and and her sister were imprisoned by the Nazis in a concentration camp for their actions, and at least one of her family members died in prison if I recall correctly.

“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”  ~ Dwight L. Moody

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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When the going gets tough

blogimg_0497-2It’s life.

Sometimes life is troubling and the path we must travel becomes arduous. The last thing we think about is being thankful because it’s just too hard and we want to take the easy route. 

It’s hard to be thankful when the roof leaks and rain water pours through the ceiling ruining your carpet and furniture.

It’s hard to be thankful when yellow jackets invade your attic and eat a hole through another part of your ceiling.

It’s hard to be thankful when your six-month-old refrigerator’s freezer stops working for the third time.

It’s hard to be thankful when your not-so-old microwave dies on you.

It’s hard to be thankful for job losses than become the norm instead of the exception.

It’s hard to be thankful for decisions that go against you instead of for you.

It’s hard to be thankful when the price of everything goes up and your income goes down.

It’s hard to be thankful when a family member or friend receives a serious health diagnosis.

It’s hard to be thankful for car brakes that go out.

It’s hard to be thankful for circumstances that break your heart and drive you to your knees in prayer.

It’s hard to be thankful when tragedy strikes or nature is destructive or the world feels out of control.

It’s just plain hard to be thankful during some of the seasons of life.

But as a friend said recently to me as we discussed less than pleasant situations in life, “We were never promised a rose garden, were we?”

We will have thorns amidst the roses in our garden of life and often we don’t appreciate the loveliness of the roses because we’re stuck in the thorns.

Sometimes the troubles are minor, sometimes they are so major, they rock our little rowboat paddling along in the sea of life knocking the oars right out of our hands.

Yet even when I’m set adrift in an ocean of difficult situations or pricked by thorns of trouble every way that I turn, I am called to be thankful. Why? I’m a believer.  My faith is in Jesus Christ and He stated the obvious for those of us who have thick skulls and don’t quite ‘get it’ the first time.

In this world, you will have trouble.

Notice He didn’t say:

In this world, you will have smooth sailing.

In this world, you will have good times always.

In this world, you will never cry.

In this world, you will never be weary…or unhappy…or depressed…or discouraged…or angry…or sick…or heartbroken.

No, He laid it on the line. In this world you WILL (emphasis mine) have trouble. He warned his disciples this in John 16:33 when He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.

All too often we dwell on our problems instead of the promise Jesus gave us, a promise of hope.  Because in the last part of that verse Jesus said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If Jesus’ disciples were warned of trouble and theirs were mammoth compared to mine, then why on earth would I think I (a lowly sinner saved by His grace) would be any different? Why would I be immune to troubles great and small?

I’m not. As each difficulty comes its way day after day, I will continue again and again to remind myself of the passage of scripture that sustains my sanity:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New International Version (NIV)

No, I’m not an idiot when I say I will rejoice always even when I don’t feel like it (and believe me, there are way too many times when I want to kick and scream instead!).

No, I’m not immune to difficulties when I give thanks in ALL circumstances.

I’m just trying my best to follow God’s will for my life and believe His promises because His Word is Truth.

So I will be thankful.

I will be thankful that I have a home with a roof over my head.

I will be thankful for someone brave enough to tangle with yellow jackets and remove their huge nest from my attic even if I did have to pay him a lot to do so.

I will be thankful the store where I purchased my refrigerator replaced the dud with a new one and better yet, I will be thankful I have refrigeration for my food at all.

I will be thankful I have the means to cook my family’s food in my comfy, modern kitchen without slaving over a hot fire outside.

I will be thankful to the God that provides even when job losses come.

I will be thankful that I have a God who cares and loves me when it seems things just don’t go my way.

I will be thankful that my needs are met, my tummy is full, and I have clean water to drink.

I will be thankful for procedures and treatments that prolong and save lives and health insurance to help pay the costs.

I will be thankful for warning signals that car brakes are in need of repair.

I will be thankful that I can cry out to a God who hears my wails for help, answers me, and never leaves me.

I will be thankful that I have fellow human beings to love and support.

And yes, I will be thankful even for the difficult seasons of life because that’s just it…I will be thankful for life.

The reason is because my faith in Christ gives me hope and that’s more than enough to be thankful for.

“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” ~Albert Barnes

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words Full Wednesday: New Year’s Eve

blogHappyNewYearWednesdays are usually my no words day here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  Usually I post a photograph I’ve taken that hopefully speaks for itself, slap a title on it that categorizes it, and add no other words. Voila! Wordless Wednesday.

But today I’m deviating from the norm.  It is, after all, the last day of the year.  We say goodbye to 2014 at midnight and hello to brand new 2015 at 12:01.

And today I find on this last Wednesday of the year that I do have words to convey.  So this middle of the week post will be a ‘words full Wednesday.’

The graphic I designed above boasts a citation that is in my well-worn quote notebook.  Supposedly, it came from one of the works of Greek playwright Euripedes.  Many moons ago, I took a classical literature class in college where we read many of the Greek classics.  I didn’t remember the quote at all or where it came from, so I wanted to do a bit of research to see if it even came from Euripedes’ pen.

As near as I can glean from a quick research scan (and I do mean quick), the actual quote is “Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.”  Some of the old Greek’s tragedies were lost or only fragments remain. Apparently, this line came from one of those.

No matter the source, the line speaks well for today of all days – New Year’s Eve.  Another year has passed which included some wondrous occurrences and some disappointing or devastating ones.  Such is life.

I spent a good part of this past year grieving over an old wound from 2013.  Yes, I wasted fresh tears over it.  Sometimes it haunted my dreams; often it consumed my joy during daytime hours.  Some days it just fired my anger into a red hot flame.

But you know what?  No more.  Was what was done to me right?  By no means.  It was unjust and no mercy or grace was shown.  But I refuse to let that grievous event define me any more.  I will not waste tears over old griefs any longer.  I’ve learned to put that wrong and the people involved behind me.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t forgiven them because I have, it just means I will no longer allow those circumstances to reign over my emotions and thoughts.

As I move forward to a new year of opportunity, I will not waste one more minute over this old grief.  It will stay in the past where it belongs.

What about you?  Is there something from the past that you need to let go with the ringing in of a new year? I pray you find the courage to do so and waste not your own tears over past griefs.  Let’s greet the new year with joy instead of sorrow, with excitement instead of disappointment, with opportunity instead of regrets.

Happy New Year!

“Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.” – Brooks Atkinson

©2014 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

This monkey is not my imaginary friend

We’ve all heard of the proverbial “monkey on your back,” but have you ever heard of a monkey that has your back?  Maybe one who is like the primate in this commercial from a couple of years ago:

From time to time, I think every one of us humans feels like we have a  monkey on our backs, something that just seems to be a constant burden.  Sometimes we just can’t figure out how to get away from that problem that weighs us down.  Some of us can’t cope with an affliction that is just too difficult a load to carry by ourselves.

That’s where the monkey that has your back can help.

blogDSCN7994A few weekends ago, I attended a Women of Faith Imagine conference with one of my best friends, my life-long gal pal, Annie.  I’ve written about her often and if you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ve read about her before here.

Annie asked me a couple of months ago to attend the uplifting weekend of worship and encouragement with her and since I’ve never attended Women of Faith before, but always heard awesome things about it, I jumped at the opportunity to go.

My friend doesn’t live close to me, so we decided to stay overnight in a fancy, schmancy hotel near the arena where the conference was to be held instead of driving back and forth from the city.  It promised to be a lot of fun, two old friends having a pajama party, just like all those nights we stayed at each other’s houses in our youth.  We both were eager and excited when Annie swung by my house early Friday morning to pick me up for our drive into the city.

Friday morning’s sessions didn’t disappoint us.  The first speaker was Sheila Walsh, a beautiful person with a beautiful voice and message.   My pen flew across my notebook as I jotted down key points I wanted to remember.  Listening to her sing “How Great Thou Art” was simply like hearing an angel – really, she gave me goosebumps.

Next up on the agenda, psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud asked us to imagine a place where we’d find happiness.   Again my pen scurried across the open pages of my notebook.  I nodded in complete agreement when he stated, “Only 10% of your happiness comes from circumstances.”

He imparted much truth to us from God’s Word and the wisdom God has granted him about letting go of the past, making necessary endings to reach our tomorrows, and about pruning areas of our lives.  All of it was great stuff, so insightful and meaningful.

He declared that happy people are connected.  Whoa, that hit home.  I find myself writing a good deal about connections here in my blog and thinking about connections even more.  I realized a long time ago that connections do bring me happiness, especially my real connection, my relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ.

Dr. Cloud also relayed a story that will stick with me for a very long time.  The monkey story(“Aha, there’s the connection!” you’re probably thinking.)

It seems that if you put a single monkey in a cage and bombard it with loud, annoying noises that startle the animal repeatedly and unexpectedly and shake its cage violently, you could frighten a monkey to death.  I imagine the poor thing’s heart rate would rapidly accelerate, blood pressure would rise, and a sense of panic and alarm would overwhelm the creature.

Sounds like everyday life to some of us humans!  But, according to Cloud, research reveals that if you put another monkey in the cage with the first one, continue the noises and frightening occurrences, both monkeys will survive and not be as greatly affected by the disturbances.  Two monkeys will help one another cope, protect one another, support each other.

We need one another, just like those monkeys did, to get through our trials and burdens of life.  So,  Cloud instructed an arena of 8,000 women to  “Go find yourself a  monkey!”

blogIMG_3517If we were at the event with a good friend, he told us to look at her and say, “You’re my monkey!”  Well, that initiated Annie’s and my theme for the weekend.  I glanced at her,  she turned to me, and we both laughed out loud and exclaimed, “You’re my monkey!”  And you guessed it, all weekend we called each other “my monkey.”

The rest of the weekend was great – amazing music by Natalie Grant, Mary, Mary, and WOF worship team.  We heard heartwarming talks from Lisa Harper, Nicole Johnson, Angie Smith, and Luci Swindoll.   So much good food for thought crammed into two days.

But the thing I’m going to remember?  Saturday afternoon, two older ladies we’d never seen before entered the arena after the break and sat down in our row.   Both Annie and I noticed them, looked at each other, and stifled giggles.  These two ladies each had a monkey hanging on them!

They proudly wore those long-armed, long-legged stuffed monkeys, the kind with the Velcro tabs in their hands, wrapped around their necks.  One lady had a bright pink monkey, the other gal had a lavender one.  We overheard them tell someone they had purchased their monkeys in their hotel gift shop.

I have never in my life tried so hard not to just break down in hysterical laughter.  And what made it even funnier?  My dearest friend, Annie, friend of my childhood, teenage years, and adulthood, turned to me and said, “I am NOT wearing a monkey around my neck for you!”

And that doesn’t matter because through thick and thin, youth and middle age, good times and bad, I know she has my back and I have hers.  And that’s something significant that contributes to our happiness – a true friend, one who sticks with you no matter what, is your confidante, and also your accountability partner for life.

And those friends, our “monkeys,” are gifts from God.   He sends us those people to come beside us and help us on our journey through this life.   Many of you fulfill that role for me, and I hope and pray I am one of those gifts for you.  I’m reminded on this 21st page of Chapter 10 in my yearly book of Opportunity that God’s Word tells us two are better than one.

“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother.  There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.  ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’  This too is meaningless—a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:8-10

My prayer is that we all would have those people in our lives – those dear ones who listen when we struggle, offer encouragement to us in godly ways, and pray for us and with us as we endure the hardships of life.

Who is your monkey?

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Changing the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Fall surprises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

War of the clouds

blogDSCN7842This morning, I witnessed a battle scene.

The scene was so striking, it grabbed my attention and I could not take my eyes from it.   A dramatically painted picture  etched itself into my mind and didn’t leave my thoughts all day.

Summer time delivers many bright, sunny days of hot weather here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  In the last couple of days, some blessed rain blew in, shoving the high humidity out, resulting in more delightful temperatures and a sweet, refreshing breeze.

On my trek to work today,  I couldn’t stop staring at the sky.   As I buzzed down the highway, I noticed the fast-moving hedge of dark rain clouds streaking across the vista.   I continued watching them because they were speeding along like a freight train.

And that’s when I noticed that in one direction bits of fluffiness in the form of cottony clouds dotted blue sky and sunlight streamed through that part of the atmosphere.  But the sinister looking freight train was rolling through rapidly from the other direction!  The dark clouds, in their faster than a speeding bullet mode, collided and clashed with the bright side of the sky swiftly overtaking it  – simply annihilating it in the battle.

Those ominous clouds actually devoured the fleecy ones.   Darkness swallowed up the sunlight right before my eyes.   That scene unfolding in front of me reminded me about the stark reality of the world we live in.  Evil – the dark side, if you want to quote Star Wars – spreads its foul fingers wherever it goes trying to consume and ultimately destroy goodness or light.    And that happens each and every day here in our world, not just in movieland.

As a believer in Christ, I tend to view life in spiritual ways, especially when God paints such a vivid picture in my surroundings as He did this morning.   Witnessing those rain clouds slamming into sunshine reminded me that we need to be on guard, ever watchful for evil which can so easily overtake us.  But even more than that, we must be vigilant in prayer.

1 Peter 5:7-9  ~ “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Just yesterday, I was gifted with an opportunity to enjoy a short chat with a lovely fellow Christian who I haven’t seen for some time.  She’s enduring a difficult trial right now, yet amid her own heavy load, she inquired about my family and shared that she had been praying for us. Her face lit up with a smile and praise when I revealed how her prayers had been answered.

Conviction washed over me as I realized that I have not been as diligent in prayer for this dear one as she has been for me.  She disclosed to me that during this storm she feels such a strong sense of peace which she’s certain is from God.  Then she stated something that didn’t surprise me at all.   Several well-meaning people in her circle of friends told her she wasn’t being positive enough because she has accepted the difficulty laid before her and is meeting it with complete faith and trust in the God who has saved her.

People don’t get that, she told me.  They think she’s not “thinking positive” when she tells them she will meet whatever outcome God has in store for her and they don’t understand or like what she says.  As a realist myself, I totally get it.

There are certain events we encounter in life that just happen.   You can try to use the ‘power of positive thinking’ until the cows come home, but it might not change your circumstances. That doesn’t mean you must stop asking God for intervention, or healing, or a miracle, or whatever may help the situation.  But you also should beseech Him for the strength to endure, the ability to completely trust His will for you, and the peace that passes all understanding.

That’s faith.

The power of positive thinking alone can’t move the rain clouds away or stop them from coming just as it can’t protect me from evil touching my life.   The power of prayer to the God who is in control of the universe is a different story.   And the power of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, is the real source of the peace and strength needed to endure life as it comes.

This morning as I began my 9th page in Chapter 8 in my life’s book entitled Opportunity,  I’m certain my heavenly Father demonstrated these thoughts for me as I watched that war of clouds in the morning sky.

© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Still Daddy’s little girl

blogscan93If you’re female and you’ve been blessed with an endearing relationship with your father, no matter how old you may be, you’re still Daddy’s little girl.

Our middle daughter recently called and wanted to speak to her father.   While he chatted with her, she surprised him with an invitation to spend a day out with her – just the two of them, her treat.

Hubby’s birthday falls in the same month as Father’s Day and daughter had promised him then she had a special gift in mind.  Between her job, wedding planning, and spending time with her fiancé, she doesn’t have many weekends free, but she set aside one Saturday just for her dad.

She planned ‘Daddy-Daughter’ day with an activity they both would appreciate.  These two share a love for historical places, so a trip to one of the local museums seemed perfect.  Unfortunately, this particular site closed early that day, so they took a detour to our city’s National Aviary and then a scrumptious dinner out afterward.

As always, our photography prone daughter snapped lots of pictures.  Anyone who views those photos easily could surmise that daughter and dad experienced a great day together.  I wonder how many twenty-something daughters care to spend a day with just dear ol’ Dad, and how many fathers really devote time to their daughters.  I think there are multitudes of daughters who desperately desire time with their fathers but are cheated of it, and that truly makes me sad.

My father was Dad to three daughters.  It’s safe to say, next to my mother, we three girls were the light of our Dad’s life.  He always treated us like his treasures. Even after we all became adults, he continued giving us gifts of chocolates on Valentine’s Day.    Dad loved spending time with all of his girls, and that included grand-daughters too.

Our father didn’t have a role model since our grandfather died when Dad was a baby, so our papa set his own fatherhood standards.  And they were exemplary.  My sisters and I never felt unwanted, unloved, or like our father didn’t have time for us.  Instead, we experienced the reassurance that we were taken care of,  protected, safe, and very, very loved.

And that is vastly important for a young girl as she grows up.  Research shows that fathers have just as much and often more influence on their daughters as mothers do.    One researcher (L. Nielsen) states a “father has the greater impact on the daughter’s ability to trust, enjoy and relate well to the males in her life…well-fathered daughters are usually more self-confident, more self-reliant, and more successful in school and in their careers than poorly-fathered daughters.”

All you Dads out there, it’s time to step up to the plate and tell your daughters how important they are to you.  Better yet, show them.  If you need some good pointers, I’d recommend this book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters:  10 Secrets Every Father Should Know, by Dr. Meg Meeker.

It’s never too late to let your daughter know she’s still Daddy’s little girl.  I know that I’m grateful my father made me feel secure in his love.  And today in Chapter 8, Page 5, in my yearly book called Opportunity, I’m also thankful my husband is that kind of father to our daughters.   Maybe that’s why the following Subaru commercial always makes me cry!

© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

How to celebrate a blogiversary – chocolate’s on me!

blogDSCN7796One of my favorite things is chocolate and another is writing this blog.

Obviously, I can’t share my to die for chocolate candy (pictured)  with you.   But I can share my thoughts with my friends and readers in written form here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

July is my “blogiversary” month.    I use the term month because I’m not sure which July date actually commemorates my blog’s anniversary.

Six years ago on July 9, 2005 on a whim and a dare from oldest daughter, I started writing a blog via a different site.  Recuperating from cancer surgery and not physically able to accomplish my usual summer to-do list, I needed something to occupy my time and mind.

Oldest daughter convinced me to create a blog on the same site she then used and I started putting my thoughts into written words again.  My writing topics ranged from silly thoughts to serious ones, everyday life to the change in thinking that a cancer (albeit a curable kind) diagnosis brings.  Once I recovered and returned back to “real life,” I only posted occasionally, when I encountered a little free time, until fall 2007.

And then… nada…zilch…nothing.  My blogging life ended.  Life got in my way.  Hubby and I still had kids in the nest, two sets of college tuition to pay, a calendar full of events to attend, jobs,  a home to maintain, and all of those dominated my waking hours.

With our youngest child’s college graduation last year and all of our children’s subsequent moves away from home, my world and waking hours changed.  I tried social networking for a while; fun at first reconnecting with old friends, but after the novelty wore off, I found myself sitting at the computer playing endless rounds of Reversi and Bubble Town.

Way to let the brain atrophy!  In between popping bubbles and knocking off Reversi opponents, I began reading a far-away friend’s new blog on WordPress.   One day, I realized how much I missed writing myself.   Why not take my love for stringing words together in written form down from the shelf, dust off my skills, and rekindle my blog?   So I moved my old posts from the previous site over to WordPress, started cranking out new posts on July 19, 2010, and my new blog, Mama’s Empty Nest,  was  hatched.

What happened next I compare to coming out of a coma.  Suddenly, my mind leaped into over-drive and so did my senses.  It felt like I had awakened from a very long winter’s nap.  Once I commenced writing, words just kept gushing out of me, words that were obviously bottled up inside for decades.  Ideas would spring into my mind when I gazed at a picture or often when a sight unfolded in front of my eyes, while driving,  and even while sleeping.

My senses seemed heightened – eyes wide open, observing things I couldn’t wait to write about, ears hearing sounds I previously must have taken for granted.  Every day occurrences in my world suddenly needed crafted and sculpted into paragraphs of written language, and I was constantly grabbing the nearest scrap of paper to jot down my thoughts before they melted away.

An old composition notebook became my new best friend in which I scribbled ideas, thoughts, and topics when they surged into my brain.   And then something truly amazing happened.  I realized I wasn’t just writing for myself and my closest family anymore.  Somewhere out there in cyber-land, people  – friends and strangers – started reading my blog and commenting!

A whole new world opened up for me [cue the theme song from Disney’s Aladdin]  as I gained new readers, blogging buddies, and very good friends.   I recently reviewed my posts from five years ago and marveled at the change I see in my writing and even in myself.

Where I once blogged as a way to fill up empty time, now I blog because it brings me joy.  Where I previously wrote whatever came to mind, now my posts have meaning and depth…and I believe, purpose.  I’m thrilled that a fellow blogger recently invited me to join the High Calling Blog Network where I only hope I can rise to the challenge of writing well about work, life, and God like the other talented writers there.

Today, on this 26th page of Chapter 7 in my Opportunity book of life – not exactly my blogiversary date – I  am astonished at how far I’ve come, but I’m more grateful to those who’ve traveled with me on this journey:

  • to my family who always encourages me to write (special thanks to hubby who patiently listens to each of my posts while I read them aloud to catch any errors);
  • to the friends who personally know me and read my work, spurring me on with kind words of support (you are great cheerleaders!);
  • to my new friends, my faithful readers, and fellow bloggers (your comments and your blogs inspire me and I appreciate them so very much);
  • to my Lord Jesus Christ who graciously gave me a gift which I must use for His glory and for allowing me to “see” through His eyes as I write.

So Happy Blogiversary to all of us! If I could, I’d share my chocolates with every one of you for the entire month of July!

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com