Reflecting on the blessings

blogIMG_1006Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard once wrote:  “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Just yesterday morning, I visited for a short time with one of my dearest, long-time friends. The one who’s constantly in my prayers because of her serious health diagnosis about a year ago and her latest brush with a dire emergency that almost cost her life.

Since she was in the area for a short visit with her mother, we sat in my friend’s childhood home on the same living room couch where we spent many hours in the past chatting with one another as young girls, teenagers, and young adults. If the seat cushions of that couch could talk, they would divulge countless stories of our times together upon them.

Often when my friend and I converse, we spend much of the time reflecting. And yesterday was no exception.  In many ways, my visit reflected the past, the way life used to be.

And since I brought my Little One (granddaughter) along with me, we glanced at even more reflections of our childhoods past when my wee one played with some old toys that have called this place home for numerous years.

As we were leaving, we walked outside onto the front porch to say our farewells. And that’s when Little One spotted my friend’s mom’s bright green gazing ball resting on a pedestal in the yard. 

Little One was absolutely fascinated by it and laughed at her own reflection in the ball.  Over and over again. And then at our reflections as well, going round and round the shiny orb never taking her eyes off of those images she spied within it.

It’s ironic that this week’s photo challenge theme is reflecting when I’ve been ruminating over that word – one which evokes a couple of meanings in my mind.  Of course, there’s the obvious one of an image being mirrored.  And then there’s the one that connotes thinking or seriously considering.

Like thinking of and seriously considering the past. Similar to my little one circling that gazing ball, often my mind goes round and round those reflections of times gone by. Over and over again.

Reflections of the way we used to be.

And that phrase prompts the ongoing radio in my mind to play an old song by The Supremes:

Through the mirror of my mind
Time after time
I see reflections of you and me

Reflections of
The way life used to be
Reflections of
The love you took from me

And even though that song expresses a sad tale of lost love, happiness ripped away, and painful reflection, I find valuable reminders in those lyrics.

Through the mirror of my mind
Through these tears that I’m crying
Reflects a hurt I can’t control
‘Cause although you’re gone
I keep holding on
To the happy times
Oh, when you were mine

Isn’t that how we so often view yesteryear? We attempt to remember only the pleasant moments and the joyous occasions when we reflect on times past. We keep holding onto those memories and that helps us through the present.

And that’s how my friend and I recall our childhoods.  Contented times, hours of fun playing together as children, sharing secrets and dreams as teenage girls do. Easy times of no responsibilities, no earth-shattering worries or occurrences, an idyllic age really.

Through the hollow of my tears
I see a dream that’s lost

Reflecting back now as adults, many of our hopes and dream for the future did not come to fruition, but some did.  And we both have had a blessed life, but not one without struggles and difficulties. This last year, my friend’s life has been a complete upheaval. 

In you I put
All my faith and trust
Right before my eyes
My world has turned to dust

In one consultation with her doctor, my friend’s world seemed to turn to dust. And it just kept splintering into pieces, one experience after another sawing its way through her strength leaving mounds of accumulating sawdust. 

Procedures, medications, treatments, hospital stays, medical emergencies, more hospital stays, therapies, home health nurse visits. At one point, when I sat beside my lifelong friend in the hospital, she confided her weariness over not having a normal life.

But here’s where my friend and I differ vastly from the song lyrics. Because instead of putting our faith and trust in another person (because honestly, we humans do let one another down often), we put our faith and trust in God.  All of our faith. All of our trust.

Because He never forsakes us. Never lets us down. Never stops loving us. He is the Great Physician. The Healer. The Savior. The Lover of our souls and Listener to our prayers. The One who is granting my lifelong friend’s desire to start to feel “normal again.”

So instead of singing “reflections of the way life used to be,” I believe I will change the song lyrics to “reflections of the way life needs to be; reflections of the love God has for me.”  And for my cherished friend.

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ~ Charles Dickens

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

He is risen indeed

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As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” ~ Mark 16:5-7

Wishing you a blessed Resurrection Sunday from Mama’s Empty Nest.

Be blessed, dear readers. 

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

On a hill far away

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He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. ~ 1 Peter 2:24

When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. ~ Acts 13:29

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:2

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do this

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The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Stirring up the fire

blogIMG_1818I usually avoid writing about controversial subjects.

My reason is valid, at least to me. I have plenty of opinions on polemic issues, believe me. But that’s just it. They are my opinions and I’m free to have them as you are free to have yours.  However, my intention for this blog is not to polarize people but to be a source of encouragement and inspiration to all, not just those who share my opinions or beliefs.

No doubt if I start posting my thoughts on contentious matters though, some readers will not agree with my opinion and will comment to state their case for their beliefs. Having a difference of opinion is not the issue. What a dull world it would be if we all agreed all the time.

What bothers me most is what I see happening on social media way too much.  You know, when verbal arguments escalate and become downright mean and nasty. And I see it occur on lots of blog posts too. 

I don’t want to initiate a war of words with my readers. Instead, my desire is that Mama’s Empty Nest be a respite from that part of our world where folks spread malice and vitriol at the drop of a comment.

Yet this post may cause a bit of contention, probably only in certain circles, but you know what? Sometimes you just have to speak your mind, or at least from your heart, even when you know there will be opposition to it. 

I find it ironic that just as the idea for this blog post began to take shape in my mind, I noticed an email encouraging me to write about this word – controversy.

So here goes.

You know what kills any kind of growth, whether it be in business, politics, organizations, or even in a church? Something that not only slays the momentum of moving forward but slams shut the coffin of death and nails it down tight?

Saying, “But we’ve always done it this way.”

Frankly, I’m tired of hearing that saying. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m weary of attempts to encourage those who play it safe in cozy comfort zones to embrace something different that might just initiate a change for something better or more meaningful. But we’ve always done it this way.

I bristle when I hear how someone seeking to promote change instead hits the wall of tradition made up of nay-sayers. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m disappointed in those who can’t – or won’t – deviate from the tried-and-true (yet old and tired) way of doing things. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m frustrated by those who are so deep in a rut of sameness, they couldn’t find their way out with a bulldozer. But we’ve always done it this way.

Call me crazy, but I like change. I find the same old, same old incredibly dull and well….too much the same. And I really find it so in a house of worship.

Why balk at changes that may promote spiritual growth?

Now, let me get one thing straight. I am not talking about changing the message of the Gospel.  I’m not talking about changing the words God gave us in His Word. No, we must never change that because God and His Word are perfect and unchanging.

God was, is, and always will be. He is constant and enduring and so is His message of salvation.

But we should not be stale. We can’t grow if we don’t change. And if we don’t change, we won’t grow spiritually. If we don’t progress on our spiritual journey, we are only suckling down the milk of God’s Word without ever getting to the meat of it. We stay in a spiritual state of infancy – spiritual babies instead of mature believers.

“Change is one of the ingredients of Christianity. If people could not change, the gospel would be absolutely meaningless…The fact that people can change is the only hope they have.” ~ A.W. Tozer (from Rut, Rot, or Revival)

When believers are spiritually stagnant, we can’t experience the passionate life of being a Jesus follower. And how ever can we be in tune to what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do if we’re mired down in the humdrum?

The same old same old.  But we’ve always done it this way. I think God expects us to boldly step out of our ruts and embrace a vibrant faith, one so exhilarating that is catches on like wild fire.

How can people sit in their pews in their places of worship with an attitude of platitude? How can we sing the same old songs with the same old lack of enthusiasm? Where is our joy in worshiping the King of Kings, Lord of Lords?

How can we stick like superglue to traditions, which really don’t impact our salvation or our spiritual growth one iota, just because we’ve always done it that way?

“Somebody once said that man is made of dust and dust tends to settle. People tend to settle down and do the same things year in and year out, slowing going around in a circle.  When this gets into religion, it is deadly and evil.” ~ A.W. Tozer (from Rut, Rot, or Revival)

I don’t understand that kind of ‘religion’ and I guess I never will. I’m one of those people who says I don’t have religion, instead I have faith. And my faith is not in a set of traditions, a certain denomination, a social club, or a certain way of doing things just because it’s always been done before.

My faith is in a flesh and blood Savior who lived on the earth as one of us, died on a cross for me, rose from the grave, and gave me a priceless gift – salvation.

A Savior who expects me to be on fire for Him. To share His message of salvation to others. To express with joy and awe how much I love Him, trust Him, and am grateful for Him and share that with everyone I know – and even those I don’t.

I believe my Savior doesn’t want me to get bogged down in trivial matters that mean nothing when it comes to promoting His kingdom and glorifying Him.  My Savior, the miracle of Easter, expects me to be a soul on fire for Him.

Just like the lyrics to this song by the Christian group, Third Day. Listen here: Soul on Fire.

A soul on fire doesn’t care if we sing praises to God accompanied by an organ, a worship band, or a CD, but if a variation in music is what brings people to Him, then we better change and sing with joy.

A soul on fire doesn’t mind if Sunday morning worship or Bible study during the week takes longer than an hour because a soul on fire wants to spend as much time as possible worshiping the Lord, listening to His messages of truth, learning more about the God we serve, and applying that message to everyday life.   

A soul on fire doesn’t get mired down in trivial matters like which version of the Bible should be read, or what color the sanctuary’s new carpet should be, or where or when communion should be held, or ….whatever.

Because a soul on fire wants more than earthly matters. A soul on fire wants more of Jesus. More of His Word. And more spiritual growth until the day that soul departs this earth.

And if the majority of a church are not souls on fire, the slowly dying embers will not keep the church alive. You might as well pound in the nails to that coffin. Eventually, the doors will close on a dead church.

It’s never too late to save it.

“A church can be unified in one of two ways. You can freeze together, as the Church of the Frozen Chosen; or you can melt together with the fire of the Holy Spirit.” ~ John Hagee

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Bulls-eye

blogimg_3892-3It shocked me.

Utterly shocked and pierced me right in the heart like a swift arrow hitting the bulls-eye.

One Sunday afternoon, alone in peace and quiet, I decided to plunk myself down and try to conjure up some blogging ideas on our office desktop computer. 

Nothing came to me.  I felt totally devoid of ideas or even coherent thoughts.  So I logged off, drifted into our family room, settled myself on the comfy couch, and picked up my iPad mini thinking maybe I’d just play a game or read something on my Kindle app. 

Each time I fire up that tablet, it shows me app updates/notifications which I generally ignore.  But not this time.

This time, I actually blinked at the very first notification that presented itself right there in front of my eyes.  Blinked. Opened my eyes again to read it. And blinked again.

“Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?” it said.

Say what???? Arrow to the heart.

I have a Bible app downloaded on my mini, but it has never given me a notification like this one before.

“Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?” Bulls-eye.

All I could do was stare at that question so plainly stated on my tablet’s opening screen and believe in my heart of hearts that God was truly speaking to me.

You see, I’m mired in an ongoing struggle and it has derailed me enough to make me feel just like a freight train wreck sometimes. I have never really grappled with such negative feelings in the past. I may have run across people a time or two who I didn’t necessarily like, but never have I experienced these kind of feelings. Until now.

I have struggled daily for quite some time with ill feelings of…take a deep breath, wrestle with the guilt, and admit it boldfaced in writing…loathing for one person. Someone who lied, betrayed trust, and deeply hurt people I love.  

And I ashamedly admit that I have succumbed to too many truly negative thoughts about this person and I’ve even uttered them out loud.

As a life-long believer in Christ, I KNOW this is wrong. I KNOW it!

I KNOW this a vile emotion and I KNOW that as a Christ follower, I should do all things with love.

I KNOW that my Savior told His believers to love our enemies and pray for them.  He plainly spoke these words in the Bible – Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

And I KNOW I need to forgive.

I tried. I really did.

I fought to dispel my passionate emotions and show this person love. I prayed daily for weeks and weeks for that one soul. But as weeks turned into months and even years went by, I just stopped. The offender demonstrated no remorse, no apology, and no signs of even remotely caring about the sorrow and heartache that person’s actions caused.

As a result, disgust and abhorrence engulfed me. I found this fellow human utterly despicable and in doing so, ugly, hideous thoughts of anger filled my heart at the mention of the person’s name. 

Those feelings have shaken me to my very core. The thought that I could harbor such animosity towards another human being shocks me because never, ever in my lifetime, have I felt this way towards another. It’s proved to be a daily battle and I have prayed, I have wept, I have retreated, I have discussed it with those closest to me until I am exhausted.

And then that Sunday afternoon, my iPad confronted me. “Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?”

Am I listening? I’ve tried to. But that’s the thing.  I have tried to do it on my own. I have tried to sweep this ugliness away myself but haven’t allowed God to truly transform my heart as only He can do.

Why did this hit the bulls-eye with me? Because on that same Sunday, just a few hours before my tablet asked the question which seared my very soul, our pastor preached a message called “Clarifying Love.”  

Real, honest to goodness love. Not the giddy, fuzzy warm feelings of love, but love that is an action, love which is the “non-negotiable fundamental of Christian faith,” according to my pastor and I agree.

Sacrificial love. Love that is deliberate.

As I sat in worship listening to Pastor’s message and reading the scriptures he cited, I found my thoughts centering yet again on that person who I still harbor ill will against. That one who proclaimed with words to exhibit this kind of love yet, when the price of love was difficult, didn’t manifest it at all, and wouldn’t even try to make amends to the ones hurt most.

And I realized that I wasn’t exactly manifesting sacrificial kindness myself. When my pastor reminded me that this kind of love – or the lack of it- reveals the state of my heart, I knew his message was for me.

My heart surely has been in an awful state. I felt that check in my spirit as I read scripture that I have read many, many times before in the book of 1 John, Chapter 3 and 4:  Anyone who doesn’t love is in death.  If you do not love, you don’t know God.  Yes, yes, I knew that!

But the next passage was a full frontal assault on my heart and spirit. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer. A murderer?! I tried to brush that off.  I’m not a murderer. This person who so willfully wronged my loved ones is the guilty one.  But yet, wasn’t I “slaying” this person with my negative words and unforgiving actions?

I thanked my pastor and told him it was a great message – which it was – and then jokingly told him that I knew I needed to take heed to it but I still wanted to punch this one person in the nose. And my pastor, being the great person that he is, laughed with me. He didn’t chastise me or give me that righteous look that makes one feel condemned. No, he laughed. That’s why I like him so much, he’s real.

Pushing that message to the back burner of my mind, I searched for something distracting to do later that Sunday afternoon. And that’s when my iPad challenged me.  

“Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?”

No, I must admit, I have not been listening to what God’s Word tells me. But it’s time – actually past time – that I do. When I don’t speak love with my words, I am wrong. But I’m even more wrong when I don’t love with my actions and in truth.

It’s not an easy task – a work in progress. I must willingly submit myself to the Lord every day to help me rid the malice from my heart and to forgive with sacrificial love even though the offender has never asked for that forgiveness and maybe never will.

Someone once told me that to be unforgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the wrongdoer to die. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve even used those same words in a women’s Bible study on forgiveness that I once led.

Being unforgiving doesn’t hurt the one who wronged you, but it does great damage to your own soul.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~ Lewis B. Smedes

How well I know. I have been forgiving so many times in my lifetime, but this one has been the most difficult ever and I don’t understand why.

But this I do understand – God promises to help and guide me as I apply His Word to my daily life –  “Are you listening to what God’s Word is telling you?” – if I allow Him to do so. 

Just like He did when I opened my Bible app that Sunday afternoon and discovered the verse for the day:  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” ~ Psalm 32:8

“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” ― G.K. Chesterton

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Treasured thoughts

 

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You know that old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Truth be told, huh? Items I consider valuable might be something you would toss into the garbage bin with no hesitation.

Treasure is Day 8’s theme in the Developing Your Eye photography workshop, which I’m determined to complete. That word – treasure – stirs up some recollections which swirl to the surface of my memory pond.  

The photography directive to zoom in with your camera on something you consider a treasure prompted me to hone in on my grandma’s glasses sitting atop my well-worn Bible – both items treasures to me. While doing so, my thoughts zoomed in right along with these remembrances.

When our children were very young and we lived in the Midwest, our family dentist had a treasure chest in his office.  Each time my little ones visited him for a check-up, they got to open that cardboard box resembling a treasure chest and choose a little trinket from it.

Oh, the excitement of it all! Well, that and a trip to the nearby TCBY frozen yogurt store with the coupons he always gave us made it going to the dentist fun for them.

For our oldest daughter’s birthday one year, we had a treasure hunt at our house for her and her friends. Clues led those little girls from place to place until, with squeals of delight, they finally found the treasure chest and opened it to find birthday party goody bags full of fun stuff and candies.

That treasure chest was actually a large, beautiful tin box that military friends of ours had sent us from Germany one year chock full of goodies and chocolate candies for Christmas. Getting packages delivered to your doorstep always seems like a treasure, at least to me.   

Adults aren’t much different than children when it comes to our treasures – the things that make us squeal with delight. They might include material things like an accumulation of wealth or expensive jewelry studded with the finest gems. Or you may think your fancy car is your treasure or your lovely home.

Or possibly, you consider items that just can’t be replaced as your treasures. We have a few of those caches here around Mama’s Empty Nest.  Personal possessions that once belonged to our parents and grandparents, while of no great monetary worth, are treasured keepsakes because of their sentimental value.

I need to sit down someday and make a list of all of those mementos so that my children know who they once belonged to.  Of course, they may not consider those items to be treasures because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so folks say.

Many years ago when we lived in the Pacific Northwest, one of my friends and I decided to start attending estate sales.  As we walked through homes of dearly departed folks perusing their former possessions in hopes of finding our own treasure, I often had a sense of sadness.  Not because I knew the deceased but because I imagined that the person had once treasured some of those items marked for sale and now those revered things were on the liquidate quickly list.

Treasures no more.

One of my estate sale finds was a lovely, well-aged, pale green porcelain teapot with a music box inside its base that played “Tea for Two.”  It still sits among my teapot collection and when I take it off the shelf to clean it, I sometimes wonder about its previous owner, what kind of person she was, and whether the teapot was a special gift from someone she once loved.

That’s the thing about treasures.  They have stories to tell, but far too often those stories are lost or not remembered by the next generation. (Which again is why I do need to record some of those stories about my family treasures in written word.) 

So many of the “treasures” in my home that I cherish would be inconsequential to you. You might even shake your head and wonder why I consider such things as treasures. If my children or grandchildren don’t desire to keep them, these items will most likely be purchased by a sale seeker, donated to a charity organization’s thrift store, or discarded to a dumpster someday.

Treasures no more. I accept that fact because, as I said, my idea of a treasure may not be the same as yours.

But when I think of treasures, I also reflect on things I cherish that aren’t necessarily concrete. Memories of loved ones now gone, time spent with my family and especially my adorable grandchildren, heart happy conversations with dear friends, meaningful and thought-provoking moments in worship. Those are treasures as well.

The Bible tells me, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (Luke 12:34)

That truth causes me to place what I consider treasures in perspective. Where should my heart’s focus be placed? On material wealth, possessions, my time-honored family heirlooms, myself? Absolutely not.

Earthly treasures never satisfy that longing in our heart for something more. Something to fulfill our deepest need. Something that fills our cup until it runs over. Possessions only make us happy for a moment then lose their appeal.

What I treasure most is something eternal. Something that is even hard to explain sometimes. Something magnificent and more loving than I can even imagine yet powerful and majestic to inspire awe to the maximum. Something that fills empty holes in my heart like no earthly treasures can ever fill.

His name is Jesus.

“You must keep all earthy treasures out of your heart, and let Christ be your treasure, and let Him have your heart.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Not just any road

blogimg_1512-2I’ve always been a fan of New Englander Robert Frost’s poetry.  

A coffee table book, entitled Robert Frost: A Tribute to the Source, rests on our living room book shelf. The book chronicles biographical text about the poet interspersed with Frost poems and photographs depicting rural life to accompany them.  

So when I realized this week’s photo challenge theme was “the road taken,” my mind immediately went to a Frost poem – “The Road Not Taken.”

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

Yes, I know. The word not, as in the road not taken, is not in the photo theme, but bear with me and I’ll explain where my mind is going with this one.

The road taken. Most folks stick to the road most traveled. We do it when we want to get from point A to point B quickly. Often we choose to travel the road that everyone else takes because well….everyone else is doing it.

The road taken. But sometimes, especially if we want to be individualists, the road we take is actually the road that everyone else does not take. That path that is less traveled by. The way some might even reject.

The road taken. That thoroughfare – that road taken – might be one that few use for their journey. The one off the beaten trail. See what I mean? The road taken can also become that road not taken, the lane that Frost wrote about in his poem so many years ago.

When two avenues present themselves to us on our journey of life, which one should we choose? The road taken? Do we follow the masses and become just one of the many, a lost face in the crowd blindly following everyone else?  Or do we announce our individuality by braving it alone on an alternate route? That other road taken?

Often when we choose the other road, we are rewarded with sights we’ve never seen before.  Papa and I experience that when traveling by car and we decide to take a less direct route to get where we’re going. We marvel at surprises that pop up along the way and I’ve asked him to stop the car many times so I can jump out and capture a picture.

But other times when we choose that alternative route, it leads us to disappointment and frustration. I’m remembering a day trip Papa and I took last summer when we chose to travel by blue highways and it took us forever to get to our destination and the journey was regretful. 

The road taken. It can be a defining moment in life, that’s for certain.

For me, the road taken is actually the road not taken. I take that road not because I dwell on negativity or because I want to stand out from the crowd, but instead because my choice is one not taken by all, and it is indeed a path that many reject.

The road taken. It’s not an easy one, this road I’ve chosen.  Often it has turns and twists along the way and difficult obstacles to encounter. And many times I have to ask for help to muster through hurdles that impede my way. But this course, this road taken, has led me on my journey of faith in the right direction, keeping me from getting lost along the way, and it has proven to be a steadfast path. 

The road taken. The way I’ve chosen is to follow a Savior whose name is Jesus.  He leads me on the road I’ve taken, and even though that path may be the one less traveled by, in my life it has made all the difference.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” ~ Lewis Carroll

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Go big or go home

blogimg_2949I’m sure I’ve uttered it – that phrase “go big or go home” – countless times but I wonder if I truly accomplish that.  You know, go big or go home.

Big is the theme for Day 7 of the Developing Your Eye photography workshop I’m determined to finish (only three more photography topics to go!).  As I was contemplating what photo personified the theme, that idiom immediately came to my mind.

Go big or go home. It means to go all out. Put your effort into something to the utmost. Be extravagant. Be bold. 

I’m fairly certain embracing boldness is not something I do regularly.  And those who know me can attest that being extravagant doesn’t describe me either. But I do know how to ‘go big.’

A few years ago, our son and daughter-in-love lived near New York City.  During a visit Papa and I made to their place, the four of us ventured into the city for a day.  New York, New York. The Big Apple. The Empire City. The city that never sleeps.

New York is a pretty bold place. And depending on what you do there, it also can be extravagant. It’s a go big or go home kind of place.

For this ol’ country girl, the big city is fun and exciting. And I was determined to go big or go home by climbing all 192 steps from the ground to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Huffing and puffing all the way, I did it, but didn’t have the endurance to go the remaining 154 steps from pedestal to her crown.  Still the reward was awesome seeing the view from the pedestal and also looking up at Lady Liberty to experience first-hand just how gigantic she really was.

She is one BIG girl. From my photo above, you can see the evidence in the folds of her dress and the size of her hand.  From her base to her torch, she stands 151 feet. Including the pedestal and foundation, her full height is 305 feet. Her eight-foot high face is taller than me by almost three feet and she weighs a whopping 450,000 pounds (or 225 tons)!

That big lady represents a big tenet we hold in our country. Freedom from oppression.  Just one of the freedoms, which we foolishly take for granted, that our forefathers fought so tenaciously to secure for future generations.  I easily imagine that our forebears were of the ‘go big or go home’ type of people, don’t you?

They possessed the capability of seeing the big picture and must have been very amazing visionaries to envision what was best for our country’s future as they laid the foundation for it.  Have we lost that ability? I wonder, when it seems like instead of focusing on the bigger picture, we tend to get snagged in petty, little things that really don’t matter.

I’m just as guilty as the next person because I can zero in on petty things and fail to consider the bigger picture.  But I’m also one of those ‘attention to details’ kind of folks. And taking care of the details correctly helps progress towards the big picture or final result.

So the key is balance, I think. Take care of the small (but not petty) things to succeed at the big things.

The one aspect of life in which I definitely want to go big or go home pertains to my faith. The bigger picture can be found by reading God’s Word. I admit it isn’t always clear to me, but one very big thing absolutely is crystal clear. I believe in a Savior who embraces me with bold, extravagant love.  He is a go big or go home Savior.

Jesus went big by dying on the cross to make a way for us to go home, that place where the bigger picture will be revealed to us and where He returned after His time on this earth. Someday, He’s coming back to gather those who get the picture and believe in Him in the small and big things.

But until then, I want to focus on getting not just the small things right but the big things as well – ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27-28)

You see, I want to go big – all the way for Jesus – so that someday when He does call me home He is able to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

If you can’t get a handle on the small things, how will you ever get it together to focus on the big things?” ~ Joyce Meyer

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

What is Christmas

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It’s Christmas Eve.

Not a creature is stirring not even a mouse.

Those stockings are hung on the fireplace.

The brightly-lit and adorned Christmas tree waits quietly and patiently for gaily wrapped packages to appear beneath its boughs.

Freshly baked cookies perch on a special plate while a mug of milk sits nearby for Santa’s visit and, not to be forgotten, a carrot for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

It’s Christmas Eve.

The house is ablaze with lights and Christmas finery everywhere.

A basket of happy Christmas tidings in the form of greeting cards from family and friends rests on an end table right next to the snowman decoration.

The sweet music of Christmas carols rings through the house as all gather back home.

And after a sumptuous dinner, Mama in her kerchief and Papa in his cap settle down for a well-deserved winter’s nap.

The house becomes silent while visions of sugarplums and fluffy white snow dance in grand-baby’s head.

It’s Christmas Eve.

But all of these things are not what Christmas truly means.

What is Christmas if we don’t remember the reason why we celebrate it?

What is Christmas? The answer is found wrapped in a manger.  (Click on the following link.)

This is Christmas

 

It’s Christmas Eve.  

And at midnight, we welcome in the day named after our Savior.

THIS is Christmas.

“Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeer, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”  ~Ronald Reagan 

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com