Foam pit faith

blogIMG_7561 (2)Wouldn’t it be amazing if every time you fell down, you landed in a soft cushion of foam to keep you from being injured?

Over the Easter weekend, Papa, our girls (middle daughter and granddaughter), and I  traveled to see the rest of our family, stopping in the state next door to see our son, daughter-in-law, and other grandchild.

After a short visit with them, we headed south to our oldest daughter and son-in-law’s home. Rainy weather dogged us and the outdoor Easter egg hunt that we were planning to take our little one to wasn’t a feasible idea.

Instead, we spent a fun and active afternoon at an indoor trampoline park. Papa and I decided to merely observe because we envisioned going home in a cast or some such bad luck. But oh, what fun we had watching the young ones cavort.

Little one couldn’t get enough jumping, following her uncle and attempting everything he did. And our two big girls – sisters – were jumping and flying through the air as well. This mama watched them through the eyes of my camera lens, trying to capture all the antics.

I caught this one of our daughter trying to keep her balance on a tight rope of sorts. I think she only succeeded in making it across once but the rest of the time, she landed in the foam pit below. A nice, soft landing.

If only all our falls were like that! We all take a tumble sometimes. Tripping over a curb. Losing your balance. Skidding down the steps. Losing your footing on an icy patch. Or maybe your pet darts in front of you and you stumble over it.

Broken bones may be the result. Or bad bruises. Or maybe just a bruised ego, a humbling case of humiliation if you happen to land on your backside while out in public.

It happens to all of us and often there’s no way of preventing that fall in the physical world. But we also fall emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. And many times, those stumbles that knock us down aren’t as easy to recover from.

But those of us who have a strong faith have an everlasting safety net when we fall. His name is Jesus. He holds out His arms and catches us, holding us securely until we can set our feet back on solid ground. Even if our tumble causes us pain, Jesus applies His healing balm of unconditional love on us.

As we learn from the mistakes that cause our falls, our problems, our troubles, we are picked back up by a loving, forgiving Savior. He sets us right again. And He’s so much better than a foam pit.

“You will fall many times in life, but you will pick yourself up and become stronger and wiser for each trouble you pass.” ~ Leon Brown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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He is risen indeed

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“We are adopted into God’s family through the resurrection of Christ from the dead in which he paid all our obligations to sin, the law, and the devil, in whose family we once lived. Our old status lies in his tomb. A new status is ours through his resurrection.” ~  Sinclair B. Ferguson

May God bless you with the truth of Jesus Christ’s resurrection this day and the promise that He will come again.

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Do this and remember

blogDSCN8862(It’s Holy Week for those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ. As I prepare to celebrate the most glorious day in Christianity, Resurrection Sunday or Easter, as it is more commonly known, I decided to re-post some of my blog entries and images from this week in years past. The following is from 2012.)

Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter,  always leaves me at a loss for words.

To remember that my Savior entered Jerusalem triumphantly to the cheers of a crowd shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”  yet just a few days later, Jesus hung on a cross dying to jeers of the crowd simply astonishes me beyond words.

After observing the Passover meal with His disciples and trying to prepare them for what He knew was to come, Jesus established what believers in Christ call the Last Supper. Today, many of us will, in a sense, re-create the Last Supper by partaking of communion with breaking of bread and drinking from the cup as He and His disciples did. 

We will then remember that Jesus, God’s very own Son, prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In just a short amount of time, Jesus subsequently was betrayed, arrested, deserted and denied, tried and condemned, beaten, scourged, and mocked. And nailed to a cross, crucified to death.

To consider that He bore the sins of the entire world on His shoulders willingly, knowing the pain and agony He would bear and to realize He loved me (and you) enough to offer Himself as the sacrificial Lamb takes both my breath and my words away.

My own words seem so inadequate to express what my Savior did for us.  Often when words fail me, pictures and music suffice.  So as this Easter weekend unfolds, I’ll post music, photos, or videos that are meaningful to me and capture the waves of emotion I feel.

And all because of this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: Be Found

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If you are a seasoned Christian, you know this story, but you may need to be reminded of it. If you don’t call yourself a believer in Christ, this story is for you.

Jesus, the Messiah, the very Son of God, lived and walked on this earth in human form. As He traveled teaching those who would listen about His Father in heaven, he often told parables (simple stories He used to illustrate a spiritual lesson).  Those stories can be found in the Holy Bible in what is called the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

One of those parables is about the lost sheep as found in Luke 15:3-7 – Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

What does it mean? The message is simple. God seeks us out when we are lost in sin. His heart wants us to be found, to be rescued, to be renewed. And the only way to do that is through accepting the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, the very One sent to earth to die for all of our sins on that ol’ rugged cross.

We need a loving, personal Savior. We need to understand how very much God deeply loves us. How valuable we are to Him. And that He will go to the ends of the earth – far and wide – just to bring us back home to Him like the shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep out of 99.

And when the lost is found and returned to the fold, there is rejoicing.

That’s why Jesus is often called the Good Shepherd. He came to seek the lost. Maybe that is you. No matter what kind of life you have led, He longs to gather you into His arms and rejoice over you. You just have to let Him find you.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” ~ Augustine

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Living in a vertigo world

blogDSCN7187(2)Have you ever felt like you’re going around in circles? Figuratively and literally?

If you’ve ever suffered through a bout of vertigo you will know what I mean. Vertigo is no fun. I’ve only experienced that condition a couple of times in my life but whew, it felt terrible. And I hope that kind of dizziness never visits me again!

One morning several years ago, I awakened, turned my head to look at my alarm clock, and suddenly the room was spinning wildly.

It brought reality to an old 60’s song that is stuck in my memory bank – “Dizzy, I’m so dizzy my head is spinning, like a whirlpool it never ends…”

That time, the only relief from the whirling dervish in my head was to close my eyes and keep them closed. That spinning sensation finally subsided and boy, was I ever thankful.

The other time vertigo descended upon me, I had just stood up from the shampoo bowl at a hair salon. While my hair stylist performed her magic on my hair, I had to keep my eyes closed because I was so dizzy. 

And the dizzier I became, the more my stomach churned from the effect. When I looked into the mirror, I thought I was turning into the Incredible Hulk because my face had a greenish tint to it.

Fortunately, my sister was with me and she drove me home because there was no way I could right my oft-kilter world that morning. Again, I was so relieved when it ended.

A few years ago, a family member dealt with vertigo often. Her doctor believed it came from her frequent air travel to Europe for her job, something to do with the crystals in your ears becoming dislodged if I remember correctly – positional vertigo I think.

I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to feel dizzy when you are so far from home.  It’s difficult enough when you are in familiar surroundings.

This world we live in – this planet called earth – spins on its axis as it revolves around the sun. Aren’t we fortunate that we don’t feel that twirling every day, hour by hour?

And yet, sometimes doesn’t it feel like our world IS spinning out of control? Disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, famines. All caused by nature, sending those affected by it into a whirlwind of tragedy.

And then there are the man-made calamities that cause us to believe human beings are out of control. Wars, crime, racism, and sheer inhumanity and hatred towards our fellow mankind. Just listening to the news or reading about it causes our heads to spin.

Even political rhetoric has spun so far out of control in today’s world.  And they don’t call those public relations aides to politicians “spin doctors” for nothing. Everything seems off-balance, like equilibrium is lost, and we are caught in a whirling vortex that is taking us down a road we don’t want to venture into. (At least in my opinion.)

When I’m overcome by this dizziness, when I feel like I’m inside a twirling out-of-control existence, caught in a spiral of despair at the disasters, injustices, evil, violence, and hatred that permeates this world, I reach out to the only One who can stop this kind of vertigo.

I reach out to the Three-in-One: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I hold onto my guidebook for life, God’s Holy Word written in my Bible, for direction.

I hang onto the hand of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who keeps me balanced in the middle of the twirling chaos.

I pray to the Father who also is the Blessed Controller of ALL things and my all things.

And I ask Him to send His Holy Spirit into my very being to keep me upright amidst the swirling whirlpool of a seemingly out of control world.

He is faithful to deliver me from spiritual vertigo – both my own and the world’s.

“As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes.” ~ Mel Brooks

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: do a 180

gray concrete road surrounded by green grass

Photo by Bruno Glu00e4tsch on Pexels.com

When life turns negative, it helps to do a 180. Turn it around by focusing on the positive. An old song sung by Bing Crosby may come to mind at those words:  “You’ve got to accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative; latch on to the affirmative; don’t mess with Mister In-Between.”

Those words ring true, don’t they? When things go awry, plans don’t come to fruition, difficult circumstances threaten to rain on our parades, it doesn’t help to go down the gloomy path of negativity.

It’s one of the things my ladies Bible study is working on this week in our quest for contentment. We’re making lists of all the positive aspects of our lives (and there are so many), but we’re also making lists of the negative ones as well. Then we’re determining which one of those negative circumstances is the most troubling and praying over it.

But we’re not just praying for God to take it away. Nope. We’re praying for the Lord to show us how He has been working on that issue and thanking Him for all the ways He helps and sustains us while we maneuver our ways through it.

It’s a different perspective from our usual way of looking at things. Our way of perceiving from our earthly view instead of an eternal one.

While working on my positive list, the lyrics to a song from The Sound of Music kept popping into my mind.

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things.” ~ lyrics by Richard Rodgers

What if we only focused on our favorite things? Wouldn’t the world look brighter? Happier? Easier to handle? That glass of water would always look half full instead of half empty.

Reality tells us life isn’t always going to be rosy. But we can have faith to hang in there. We can have faith to pray to the Blessed Controller of all things. We can be thankful, even in the middle of dire situations, because we can hang onto the hand of the Creator and He will help us to weather the storm.

“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.” ― Roy T. Bennett,

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When push comes to shove

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Photo by Louis Bauer on Pexels.com

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

Throwback Thursday: you’ve got mail

blogDSCN0557My good blogging buddy, Dianna over at These Days of Mine posted yesterday about old-fashioned handwritten letters and notes and issued a challenge for readers to hand write a letter or note to someone each week.  Click here to read her thoughts.

In this age of smart phones, tablets, and laptops, I’m still a handwriting person. I hand write grocery lists. I hand write notes. I hand write recipes. I hand write my “to do” lists. And occasionally, I still hand write letters.

So accepting her challenge is right up my alley. It also prompted me to thinking about how much I love getting a handwritten letter in my own mail box and inspired me to share one of my old posts about finding mail (but not the bills!) in my actual mailbox.

So today is a “Throwback Thursday” post I wrote nine years ago back in 2010.

Mail delights me.

I’m not talking email, but good old fashioned letters sealed in envelopes, letter or business size; addressed to me; adorned with one of a myriad of stamp designs; and delivered to my mail box at the end of my driveway by my faithful mail delivery person.

As long as I can remember, getting mail has been a significant aspect of my day.  I have always been enchanted by receiving mail and Christmas time, when my mailbox gets stuffed with cards from friends near and far, sends me into sheer bliss.  I actually fight with my family over who gets to open the Christmas cards each day, and I’m a little ashamed to admit I want to be first!

Getting mail is a ritual of my day that I don’t like to miss, whether it’s stopping by my mailbox on my way home from the office or walking up my long, gravel driveway on my day off to retrieve the mail.  Want to make me giddy with glee?  Send me mail!

Where did this quirky facet of my personality come from?  How did receiving mail become such a priority in my life?   

I’m not certain, but I can remember as a very young child asking my parents every day if there was any mail for me.  Sadly, the answer was always no until one miraculous day.   I can honestly recall the very first time I ever received mail addressed only to my 4-year-old self.

That day was a day like no other; it was a day when the universe seemed to acknowledge that I existed.  It was such a monumental occasion that I still remember – even now –  the feeling I encountered when my mom uttered the magical words, “You’ve got mail!”

A captivating communiqué just for me! Charming correspondence addressed to me!  Exciting epistle delivered to me!  It was a phenomenal moment.

The envelope was large and my name and address were written on it in strong, sure handwriting that looked familiar – distinguished handwriting that I would discern and recognize as I got older. 

On the right hand corner of the envelope was a 3-cent stamp.   (Yep, it only cost three cents to send a letter back then.)  Inside that envelope was a comical greeting card with a crazy cartoon cat. The card was a Valentine and it was signed, “Love, Your Daddy.”

Yes, I had an amazing father, whom I loved and cherished, and he made me feel very special.  And that very first piece of mail he sent to me was, and still is, a treasure.  Over 50 (now 60!) years later, I still possess that piece of mail, envelope and all, preserved in my memento box.

What makes me disheartened today is that people don’t send mail like they did in the past.  Letters and cards don’t magically arrive in my mailbox on a daily basis.   Instead there are unwanted advertisements, unsolicited requests for monetary contributions for causes or political campaigns, bills (there’s always lots of those), an occasional catalog.

The crusade to perform all your communication electronically seems to have won the day for most people.  So tell me, what will a little girl save in her memory box? Will she really remember that one time her daddy sent her an email or text message?

As often happens, my mind turns to spiritual thoughts as I write this.  Wouldn’t it be amazing, I think, to get mail from God?

You open your mail box to discover a brilliantly luminous envelope addressed in your name written in exquisite gold filigree lettering.  Turning the envelope over, you get a whiff of the most fragrant sealing wax on the back, embossed with “I  AM.”

You carefully slit open the envelope to find the most beautifully textured, translucent piece of vellum your hands have ever touched.   Unfolding it, your eyes fall upon these words, “My Dearest Daughter (or Son) …”

You can’t wait to behold what this magnificent missive, this lustrous letter has to impart to you.   Eagerly you continue reading, “I have known you and loved you even before I created you.  Why do you think I have never ‘sent’ you anything before this letter?  I sent you my love and faithfulness (Psalm 57:3).  I sent you my one and only Son,  Jesus Christ, so you may have eternal life. (John 3:16)  I sent you the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to teach you all things and remind you of everything Jesus said. (John 14:26)  And I have sent you my living and holy Word to read for understanding and guidance.  Dear beloved one, I send you ‘mail’ every day.   All you have to do is have faith, believe in me, communicate with me in prayer, and look for my daily mail.   Love beyond measure, Your Eternal Father God.”

You’ve got mail.  All you have to do is open up your mailbox (your Bible) and accept it.

“All a good letter has to do is make you feel special.” ~ unknown 

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A little light on the subject

blogimg_6770 (2)I’m clueless sometimes.

Often as Sunday evening rolls around and I don’t have any blog posts written for the upcoming week, I ponder over what to do. I don’t have a clue about what to write. My blog ideas folder doesn’t prove to be the fuel that sparks a flame of inspiration.

Should I just skip posting for a few days, remain silent, and hope my readers don’t give up clicking on Mama’s Empty Nest? Do I dust off an old post from years before and re-post one I’ve already published? After all, my blogging dates back to an earlier site (2005-06) and here on Word Press since 2010, so a plethora of old posts exist. 

I shuffle through them but none demand a re-posting so I resign myself to the fact that there just won’t be any new thoughts published here at Mama’s Empty Nest for the upcoming week. And that’s exactly what occurred Sunday evening.

But by Monday morning, there was a different story. As happens so often, a post idea presented itself to me. I do believe the idea didn’t come from my creative resources, but from the Triune God I worship and trust, the one and true God, God of the universe, God of creation, God of all.

When I awakened a bit later than normal yesterday morning. I had the house to myself as Papa was already off to his part-time job and Middle Daughter and Little One were safely ensconced in their own little cottage. My walking partner had appointments that cancelled our early morning walk, so I lingered just a bit longer in my comfy, warm bed.

So Monday morning found me rising after dawn instead of before as usual. Upon leaving my bed, I followed my daily routine and opened the window blinds to peer outside in order to see what kind of day it shaped up to be.

We had a snowfall over the weekend and the landscape surrounding my home was covered with a pristine blanket of white. My kind of January morning – cold, clear, snow-covered, and with the morning sun beaming down on the front of my house.

Sunshine. To quote John Denver, it “makes me happy.” And sunshine during the bleakness of winter is even more cause for happiness. 

I went downstairs to prepare some breakfast and that’s when the idea for this blog post appeared. It stopped me in my tracks. It was visible, right there in front of my eyes.  Blazing from the wall of our home office. A kind of writing on the wall, you might say, except the “writing” was an image.

A thought popped into my head immediately that gave me inspiration to write. I grabbed my camera to capture the image before it disappeared.

Now before you imagine that I witnessed some mystical image, I must tell you that what I saw isn’t that unusual. I’m certain it happens every morning when the sun appears and shines directly on the front of my home. But yesterday, it seemed like I was viewing the image with new eyes, with an open mind to what God wanted me to write.

Rays of sunshine radiating through the decorative glass of our front door created a display of light, a design that decorated the wall of a darkened room where the blinds were still closed to the light of day.

And the thought that entered my mind was this: light in the darkness. Light. In the darkness.

There’s always light to show us the way. No matter how dark it becomes, just one little light chases the darkness away. 

But we often take light for granted. We assume the sun will rise each morning to send the darkness of night away for another period of time. We assume there will be light to aid our vision when we enter a dark room and flip the light switch to on. I wonder if we truly give thanks for light.

Light. It is such a marvelous gift. It reminds me that no matter how discouraged I get by circumstances that try to dim the light within me, one ray of hope sends the darkness scattering away.

No matter how dark this world appears to me with all of the dissension and depravity created by man, no matter how dreary and weary it becomes just living in these days when the news is full of disasters, wars, cruelty, and evil doings, light shatters the despair of darkness.

And I have that light within me. So do others.

The light of the world is Jesus. I have to do my part to shine light into the darkness. I believe God gave me that message yesterday morning. A message I was meant to share with you.

This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine. Will you?

 “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~Desmond Tutu

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com