Empty church, empty tomb

blogIMG_2449Our church buildings may be empty as we celebrate this Easter 2020 while sheltering in place, BUT so is the tomb!

While Covid-19 has stopped innumerable gatherings, events, and happenings, it does not have the power to stop Christians worldwide from celebrating this very day.

Resurrection Day, Easter Sunday, the day we rejoice and commemorate that Jesus Christ defeated death by rising from the grave.

Hallelujah! He is risen, we say. He is risen indeed!

Even though we are sequestered in our homes and not gathered in our places of worship, we rejoice in the fact that Jesus, our Savior, claimed victory over death. And we claim it as well when we accept Him as our Savior and place our trust in Him.

“We proclaim the resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence.” ~ Pope Francis

So this morning, in this Mama’s Empty Nest, Papa, Little One, and Nana will lift up our hearts and our voices with old hymns that praise our risen Savior. 

Songs with lyrics that lift our spirits in joy like Charles Wesley’s “Christ the Lord is risen today, sons of men and angels say. Raise your joys and triumphs high; sing, ye heavens and Earth reply.”

“Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.” ~ Floyd W. Tomkins

And the hymn, written by Robert Lowry, that I remember so well from my childhood:

“Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus, my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!”

blogIMG_2484Nothing – no uncertainty, no difficult time, no virus, no closed buildings, no one – can stop believers in Christ  from celebrating Easter.

“The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.” ~ Robert Flatt

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

On this thankful Tuesday

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

It’s Tuesday and it’s Holy Week for those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ. And because of the situation stretching all across the globe, we are struggling.

We struggle with knowing what news reports to believe when there seem to be so many conflicting stories on the airwaves and internet.

We struggle with emotions as we hear how many thousands of souls have perished and how many thousands are sick with this vile virus.

We struggle with moments of fear and maybe even panic wondering if/when the pandemic will hit our hometown and worse, our families and friends.

We struggle with self-isolating, physical distancing, being still, and decisions whether to wear masks or not.

We struggle with loneliness caused by orders to stay home, self-isolate, shelter in place, flatten the curve.

We struggle with selfishness and hoarding.

We struggle with job losses for some and worry over the health of those essential workers who must continue to work.

We struggle because instead of enjoying fellowship in our houses of worship with other believers, we sit in front of our computers alone listening to our pastors’ messages online.

In the last couple of weeks, we all have struggled and it looks like we will continue for some time before this crisis is over.

Personally, I’ve tried to stay positive while staying home. I try to encourage others through this blog, on social media, through text messages, FaceTime, and phone calls. But I too have struggled.

I’ve fought surrendering to a waterfall of tears as I witnessed our nurse daughter succumb to sadness and – to be perfectly honest – a bit of fear when forced by these circumstances to place her 5-year-old child with us, the grandparents, for the duration of this crisis.

blogseparationBecause her hospital has COVID-19 patients, our daughter chose to protect her child and us, her parents well over 60, because we are caregivers for our granddaughter while Daughter works. 

Our daughter is concerned that she might expose us and in order to protect us, she separated indefinitely from her child. Not something any loving mother ever envisions having to do willingly.

Watching my daughter shed tears as she held tightly to her child when she left for work that day was heart-wrenching. Little One knows there are “bad germs” out there making people very sick and her mommy must do her part to help care for them.

Daughter, a nurse for over 10 years now, has never been afraid to work in a hospital setting until now. But she believes she is called by God to do her job. To help those who need it most. To ease people’s suffering and give comfort and care.

I struggle watching her selflessness amidst a world with so many who are selfish. I don’t think I could be as self-sacrificing as my daughter is and I even struggle with that fact.

We all struggle throughout this time yet that is what life entails in the fallen world in which we live.

Struggle. And it is real. And it’s gut-wrenching. And it breaks our hearts.

Yet…it is Tuesday. It is Holy Week. And as I prepare my heart and mind to celebrate Resurrection Sunday this weekend, I also remember my Savior praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

God with us in human form, He too struggled with willingly suffering and dying on the cross in my place as the perfect atonement for sins.  (You can read this account in a copy of the Bible or even online in Matthew 26:36-42 and Mark 14:32-36.)

Jesus knows exactly how we struggle. He experienced it himself.  Luke 22:44 tells me that as Jesus prayed in that garden, knowing what He would face in the days to come,  “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

So I run to Him, my Savior who understands all my emotions and anguish, and I place all of my struggles, worries, and cares in His capable hands. In doing so, I will not struggle to find aspects of life for which to be thankful. There is much for which to be grateful even now. 

My Thankful Tuesday is dedicated to all the amazing healthcare workers sacrificing their own health and safety for those who need them most. I am thankful for each one of them.

My Thankful Tuesday is dedicated to the gifted and motivated medical researchers working so diligently for treatments and vaccines. I am grateful for them.

My thankfulness extends as well to all the essential workers who place their own safety on the line for the sake of others, for us.  Those grocery store, pharmacy, and banking workers, the truck drivers who haul supplies from one end of the country to another, to the countless and often forgotten cleaning people at hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices.

You are all heroes in my eyes and I pray that God keeps you safe and well. I am thankful for each and every one of you.

I am thankful that even though my daughter and my grandchild are physically separated during this time, they can see and talk to one another through technology –  FaceTime.

I’m also thankful for something as simple as the glass in our front storm door. Daughter can come to our house, sit outside on our front porch on one side of the physical barrier while our granddaughter is on the inside of the door. They smile at one another, they talk, they even play made-up pretend games, and they laugh.

It makes all of our hearts glad and thankful.

It is Thankful Tuesday of Holy Week and I will not struggle to express gratitude this week nor in the weeks beyond.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~ Epictetus

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: while we wait

blogDSCN6837Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog. Since then some aspects of life have changed and some have not. I’ve decided to share throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog every now and then. Sort of a walk down memory lane.

Today’s post is a Thursday throwback to that year – 2010 – just a month after I initiated this blog.  My hope today is that these words offer encouragement to my readers as we wait for this difficult and trying time to end.  

Have you ever felt like you are just hung out to dry? Like you have no more stamina than a wet shirt hanging limply on a clothesline?

You’ve been tossed and twisted by life like dirty laundry agitating in a washing machine.  Thrown abruptly into a clothes basket with all the other soggy ones. 

Hauled out cold, wrinkled and rumpled, hung up by your shirt tails, and now you just hang there — waiting.

Laundry hanging on a clothesline must be unsightly to some people. I’ve read about some being fined for hanging wet, clean laundry outside because it is illegal in their neighborhoods. Sounds ludicrous to those of us who live in the country and have the freedom to air our clean laundry outside.

Freshly washed clothes suspended on a clothesline, slowly weaving and waving back and forth in the summer breeze like a playful child enjoying a swing, is a happy sight to me.  Crisp white sheets flapping their wings like angels as they float and flit through flurries of air remind me of pleasant memories.

In my childhood days, when my mother would ask me to help hang laundry on the clothesline, I could hardly wait for the washer to finish its last spin cycle.  I admired how Mom lined up the clothes in certain order.

One’s clothesline had to look proper back then, and Mom taught me the correct way to position clothes on the line – small items gradually moving to larger, whites all together, darks on the back line. To this day, I hear my mother’s instructions when I meander out to my back yard clothesline.

Today was a perfect day for hanging out laundry. The temperature was warm, the breeze was airy, and the sun was shining brightly. White clothes especially yearn to be hung outside to dry. There’s nothing like the sun to make your whites whiter than white.  No detergent or bleach, improved or not, can compete with brilliant sunshine.

As always, hanging out laundry elicits not just sweet memories of my mother, but a sweet fragrance as well. I enjoy taking laundry down from the clothesline as much as I enjoy hanging them up with clothespins.

Clothes dried outside in the sun and fresh air have the cleanest aroma ever. That scent invigorates me and that’s probably why I’m an easy mark for any air freshener, candle, or diffuser that boasts clean linen or fresh linen as its name.

Today, I got to inhale a whiff of the real thing. And I loved it. I wonder why more people don’t hang laundry outside to dry. You would think in this age of “clean and green” people would take advantage of this way to save energy. I imagine it comes down to not having time, or more likely, not wanting to wait.

We humans don’t relish waiting for anything. We are spoiled by instant gratification in everything we do. Computers, modern day appliances, ready to heat and eat meals, drive-through restaurants, banks, even pharmacies, ATMs and online services,  everything we need delivered ASAP.  Why wait?

So let’s face it – hanging clothes outside on a clothesline forces you to wait. Sometimes it takes all day for the clothes to dry and if you just popped them into your dryer, they would be ready to wear in no time.

For most of us, waiting is just plain difficult. I’ve encountered my fair share of waiting.  There’s nothing as nerve-wracking as waiting for medical test results when you fear the worst. I experienced that situation five (now almost 15) years ago waiting for biopsy results. While I found the waiting extremely difficult, even painful, I also found peace while I waited.

Cancer surgery was performed and I waited again to recover;  radiation treatments followed and I waited some more. More tests, another biopsy required more waiting.   Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, even the treatable kind, you feel like you live in waiting mode for the next doctor’s appointment, the next test, the next cancer-free milestone.

Years before,  my mother whom I loved so deeply faced her own daunting trial –incurable cancer. After exhausting treatments and much prayer, there was nothing left to do but wait for the inevitable – her journey home to Jesus. That wait was excruciating.

As a believer in Jesus Christ,  I turned to the book of Psalms for comfort during both times. God speaks to us about waiting in so many passages of His guidebook for life. 

King David wrote “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I put my hope” in Psalm 130:5.  Likewise in Psalm 27:14, he said, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” 

Psalm 40 is yet another prayer for help when you are faced with trials and waiting is overwhelming.  Often we just need to wait on God’s timing or instructions. While we are waiting, He can teach us abundantly. While we are waiting, we can still serve Him and worship Him.

In the quietness of waiting, I personally have felt the most connected to my Savior. Even though results weren’t what I desired, He gave me strength to face my trials. I realized my need to rely on Him, depend on Him, trust in Him, relinquish it all to Him, and live for Him. 

And I learned that while I waited.

My husband’s favorite passage of scripture is from Isaiah 40:31 ~ “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.  They shall run and not grow weary.  They shall walk and not faint.”

I think waiting on God’s timing does strengthen us, even when we’re vulnerable and weak. Sometimes while we wait, He is silent but He’s always there.  You can sense His sweet, clean fragrance wafting over you. And the good news is He’s coming again!  We just need to…….wait.

“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” ~ Hebrews 9:28

I believe God never leaves us hanging out to dry.  Do you? 

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

We are waiting. But it is for good reason. And while we wait, let’s hang on to hope. Stay safe, dear readers, and have patience to wait and think of others. Check on your loved ones, neighbors, and friends. And pray.

“When our waiting is intentional, when it signifies surrender to a better plan, a better timeline, a higher calling, then we are waiting with purpose.” ~ Mark & Jill Herringshaw, from “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Wait.” 

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Remembering the road home

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Home building in 1999

It was January. Not exactly the best month of the year to move because winter was in full force.

Not only that, the year 2000 had arrived and everyone had been freaking out beforehand about Y2K, the term being used for the new year in a new millennium.

Concerns that Y2K would cause all kinds of computer havoc as the year changed,  because many computer programs didn’t account for the date transition from 99 (as in 1999) to 00 (as in 2000), had been blasted over the airwaves for months.

Fear abounded that computers would be unable to operate as 2000 was ushered in and that would affect all kinds of major aspects of our modern life. People bought generators thinking we would have no power and stockpiled food, water, and other necessities. Some folks seemed to be completely panicked.

But Papa and I weren’t overly concerned. First of all, our faith in God assured us that no matter what happened, God would help us through. And secondly, our focus was on something more concrete – building our new home.

Fortunately, not much actually occurred because of Y2K. But for us, something more important did happen. We moved into our brand new house in January 2000.

Twenty years ago this month, we began living in this building we call home. For the 18 months prior to that, we endured a tumultuous journey as a family.

In late spring of 1998, we began that journey when we sold our home in the Pacific Northwest, purged some household goods, hired a moving company to transport furniture and other household items, and drove two cars with three kids all the way across the United States to my hometown.

We uprooted our kids, abandoned suburban life, and headed to the country where I grew up in Papa’s and my home state. My mother was ill – terminally, we discovered – and Papa’s elderly mother was also not in good health.  It was time to live closer to family.

Papa had resigned from his sales job on the West Coast, but we looked forward to a promising interview scheduled just shortly after we arrived back in our home state in June 1998.  The bottom fell out of that hope when Papa learned the company he had interviewed with had decided not to expand like they had planned, which resulted in no open position for him.

Our family of five moved in with my parents in my childhood home. For a few months, we lived on savings as Papa searched for a new job. Shortly after God provided that, Papa’s mother was hospitalized and we lost her. Another difficult life event.

Four months later, my own mother succumbed to that dreaded disease, cancer.  Another devastating loss. We continued staying with my father to keep him company and because we were continuing a long search for our own place to live.

Originally, we had planned to build a home next door to my parents’ on some of their land (they owned four acres), but that plan fell through completely when we couldn’t obtain clearance for a septic system there. Those are the trials you encounter when living in rural areas, but that was yet another disappointment and set back.

Finally, after we had exhausted available real estate offerings, a family friend showed us a plot of ground owned by his relative. If the septic test would pass, we could purchase a 2.24 acre plot that was once a farmer’s field. 

I remember the five of us – Papa, our three offspring, and me – standing on that plot of earth, holding hands while forming a circle, and praying over what would be the site of our new home. We asked God for His protection, His guidance, and for His peace to reign in the house which would be built there.

With excitement, ground was broken in August 1999 and we watched our house take shape.

Those five months flew by in a dizzying array of busyness. In between Papa traveling for his job and our teenagers’ schedules of school, sports, and activities, we made decisions on the house. We watched the year 2000 arrive without a glitch and prepared to move the few miles between my parents’ home and ours.

It felt like Christmas all over again as we moved our furniture out of storage and opened up boxes that had been packed 18 months prior.

Yet amidst the joy and excitement, the happiness of finally having our own home once again, I experienced feelings that I didn’t expect. The day before we would actually start living in our new home, we spent our last night sleeping in my parents’ home, my childhood home.

At bedtime, after biding my widowed father good night, I burst into tears. I was happy and thrilled to be blessed with a place to call our own once again, but leaving my father to live by himself, especially without my mother’s presence, wreaked havoc on my emotions.

And I was leaving that place I called “home” once more, a bittersweet moment.

Every January for the last 20 years, I’ve remembered those feelings and the difficulties we encountered on our journey to our home.

My father passed away over 10 years ago, and my childhood home was sold afterwards. The new owner has changed it significantly so that “home” as it was only exists in my memory now.

All that transpired during that time has made me realize something so very important. This place, this house that became my residence 20 years ago, this dwelling where Papa and I have lived longer than any other place we’ve resided, is just my earthly home. It wasn’t an easy path to acquire this home, but we managed only through God’s help.   

Yet another home awaits me, the one Jesus has prepared for me and all others who believe in Him and call Him their Savior and Lord.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll live in my earthly home, this house of mortar and wood, and what difficulties still lie ahead, but I know where my eternal home is.  How about you?

“Why should you worry whether God wants you to reach the heavenly home by way of the desert or by the fields, when by the one as well as by the other one arrives all the same at a Blessed Eternity? Keep far from you excessive preoccupation which arises from the trials which the good God wishes to visit upon you.”  ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Holy Night

blogIMG_1525 (2)It’s Christmas Eve. A holy night. The Holy Night.

The holiest of all nights ever in the history of mankind for those of us who call ourselves believers in Jesus Christ.

It’s the night when it seems the stars shine more brightly than any other night.

It’s the night when we sing of angels’ voices declaring the Good News – a Savior is born.

It’s the night when our souls soar with the knowledge that the Messiah arrived in human form as a tiny babe in a lowly place to give us a way to cross an abyss of sin and suffering. A way to come to the Father, God of the universe, Creator of all things.

It’s the night of our Savior’s birth. A night not like any other. Ever.

It’s the night when hope entered this weary world to give us a reason to rejoice. And so we do, all these many centuries later.

We hope. We welcome the Christ Child, Emmanuel, God With Us.

We fall on our knees with thankfulness that God loves us with a depth that we can’t even comprehend. Enough to send us a Savior, His very own Son.

And we sing of this night divine. This holy night. This night when Christ was born.

This night when the prophet Isaiah foretold that a child would be born. And His name would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

I pray that as we celebrate this holy night, you may know the Savior. Jesus Christ. The reason we celebrate this holy night.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” ~ Isaiah 9:6-7

“A little child, a shining star, a stable rude, the door ajar. Yet in that place, so crude, forlorn, the Hope of all the world was born.” ~ anonymous

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: The Reason

blogIMG_1523This beautiful stained glass window portrays the story of the birth of Jesus Christ from one visit to another.

The first visit was from an angel telling the virgin Mary she would experience a miraculous birth, the birth of a Savior. The last visit was a couple of years later when Wise Men followed a new and bright star in the sky to visit the Christ Child bringing him gifts.

If you don’t know this amazing story, I hope you can find a Bible to read the narrative. Or you can just search the internet for one of the Biblical accounts. Look up “Luke 1:26 through Luke 2:30.”

My hope is that if you’ve never heard about Jesus, who He is, how He was born, and for what purpose, you will understand the meaning of this photo after you’ve read or heard that passage of Scripture.  It’s why we, who are Christians, celebrate this holiday named Christmas.  

For those of you who know the Nativity Story, may you pause in all your busyness to remember what this season is truly intended for – to commemorate the birth of a Savior, whose name is Jesus Christ, Son of God (His divinity) yet Son of Man (His humanity).

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Faith in the fog

blogIMG_8836Almost every morning after the sun rises in the east, they are there.

On some days, I see them clearly. Yet on other days, especially as we move into the fall season, I peer intently with a purpose to try to determine their whereabouts.

They are a flock of wild turkeys who frequent our country home yard. Flanked by a couple of adults,  the younglings try to keep up with their elders. They strut through the back yard sometimes switching back and forth between our property and our next door neighbor’s.

Other times I catch a glimpse of them as they scurry through the front expanse of grass, often coming very close to our front porch, then wander up hill, across the road and into the copse of trees there.

If it’s a bright, sunny morning, I have no problem catching sight of those creatures. But on these cooler, almost autumn daybreaks, fog settles itself into our little country valley and all I can discern are dark shapes moving through our plot of earth.

Like my own father, I try to capture wildlife in our midst with my camera. After Dad graduated into heaven, we found several photos he’d taken of critters in his yard and videos of the same as well. Like father, like daughter, I grab my camera and try to capture our visitors, although I don’t video them.

The photo at the beginning of this post shows our wild guests leisurely enjoying themselves at our place in full view. But recently, on a foggy morning, the turkeys were hard to see.

The photo below was taken with a telephoto lens yet still the misty atmosphere shrouds the subjects. It was even more difficult to see them through the fog with my own two eyes.

blogIMG_8848And that reminds me of faith in my God, Creator of both clear, sunny mornings and obscure, foggy ones.  

It’s easier to have faith in God when the sun shines, when all is right in your own little world. But when the gray days come, and they most assuredly will, when our eyesight is dim because we’re lost in a fog of troubles and trials, it’s more difficult to hang onto faith.

But that’s when we need faith even more.

Only the eyes of faith can see the “invisible, immortal God only wise” (as proclaimed in the old hymn written by Walter Smith) through the fog. 

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:18 New International Version (NIV)

Living by faith is trusting in God through the murkiness of what’s in front of our eyes, knowing He’s there to love, comfort, protect, and deliver us no matter what.

I’m beginning to believe those wild turkeys visit our yard for a reason.

“Faith is like radar that sees through the fog — the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: send the light

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Hooper Straight Lighthouse

I love lighthouses. And I love photographing them as well. Eventually, I plan to post a lighthouse photograph series from my cache of pictures. But not today. Today, my thoughts about lighthouses are elsewhere.

Because I’m enamored by these structures, on our trips to the sea, whether it be ocean, lake, or bay, we try to catch sight of or visit any nearby. On our Chesapeake Bay trip to Maryland, we visited a few and I managed some photographs of them.

The Hooper Strait lighthouse in Saint Michaels was different from others as it was a screw-pile like the Seven Foot Knoll one we’d seen in Baltimore. Screw-pile lighthouses stood on piles (legs) which were screwed into the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.  

Once plentiful, there are only a few of these surviving. This particular one was moved from the bay onto land at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in order to preserve it and it was open to go inside and take a look around. 

I always marvel at the life that was led by the lighthouse keepers, a lonely life indeed.  I imagine it would be difficult living in such small quarters in solitude, especially if you were stationed at one of the screw-pile lighthouses out in a bay of water with access to land only by boat.

And I wonder if at times, the keepers felt forgotten. A sense of feeling lost even though their jobs were to ensure that sailors didn’t get lost at sea, to guide boats and ships safely to shore, to give those navigating the vessel a landmark for guidance, to shine that light through darkness and stormy weather.

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Lighthouse beacon

Those lighthouse keepers sent the light outwards. To protect and serve others. To provide guidance and safety.  To save. 

In a way, those of us who are believers in Christ are like lighthouse keepers, or at least, we should be.

There’s a light inside of us – the light of God – belief in a Savior. Just like the little old Sunday School song says, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”

That light is not intended to just be kept for ourselves; instead we must shine it everywhere we go, with everyone we meet. Why? To rescue the lost, to help souls come to saving grace and belief in Jesus.

An old hymn, Send the Light, rings through my mind and says exactly what I’ve been thinking.

There’s a call comes ringing o’er the restless wave,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!

Refrain:
Send the light, the blessed Gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light, and let its radiant beams
Light the world forevermore!  

~ Charles H. Gabriel, pub.1888

As I viewed the huge beacon in the Hooper Strait Lighthouse tower, I thought about that. Do I send the light? Do I shine with Christ-likeness? And do the rest of my brothers and sisters in Christ do the same?

We’re human. We often fail in our actions and words because we don’t pray for the ability, willingness, and desire to shine our lights.

But now more than ever, in this seemingly dark world of hatred and vitriol, we need to not only send the light, but share the light. May it be so.

“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.” ~Dwight L. Moody

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Build a bridge

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Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Have you ever considered how amazing bridges are? I mean, think about it. An astounding amount of engineering expertise produces the construction of a bridge.

I wonder who it was that looked over a span, whether it be a stream, creek, or river, and thought, “Huh…I could just build something to arch over that.”

If I remember from a long-ago college course in western civilization, ancient Romans were builders of bridges, some of which still stand today I believe.

Here in my part of the world, wooden bridges were the norm hundreds of years ago. You can take scenic drives in my home state, as well as several others, and view covered, wooden bridges some still in use now as they were in days gone by.

A lot of the simple, uncovered, wooden bridges that crossed streams and creeks along country roads here are disappearing and being replaced by concrete spans, safety being the reason of course as those wooden structures have succumbed to wear and tear by years and weather.

Those super-long suspension bridges are the ones that boggle my mind and I thought about that in Maryland as we crossed over the Chesapeake Bay on the Bay Bridge during our summer trip there.

While we were driving upon that span, I captured a few photos,  and I thought about the thousands of cars, trucks, and other vehicles that cross bridges each and every day.

We cross without thinking of the feat accomplished in the building of that bridge. We cross trusting and assuming the bridge is completely safe and won’t collapse while we’re on it. We cross not giving a thought that hundreds of years ago, the only way to get from this side to that would have been by boat or ferry.

It occurs to me that bridges are something we take for granted in life. We assume someone will build and maintain a bridge to get us where we want to go. But shouldn’t we be responsible for some bridge building of our own?

When you and I disagree – name the reason, there are many – whether it comes to politics, religion, social causes, or just some ridiculous meme one of us posted on social media, and we resort to anger and blustering and name-calling, we’re tearing down bridges that connect us as human beings.

We stomp off either virtually and unfriend someone we once called friend or we literally stomp off in reality and never speak to the person again.

I suppose you could call it burning our bridges. But is that really a good thing to do? I don’t think so. If we are all going to attempt to live together on this planet Earth in some kind of unity or harmony, we have to learn to build bridges instead of burning them.

Building a bridge is far more constructive.  And it’s more fruitful to reach out to someone – to span across that disagreement with them – than to cut them out of your life in anger.

I’m a firm believer in what my Bible, God’s Word, tells me. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote these words to believers in Thessalonica: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He did not say discourage those you know, tear them down with your words and deeds, incite anger and violence.

He went on to say, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” in verse 15.

We can use those verses in our words and actions with fellow believers and non-believers who don’t agree with us. And we can pray for peaceful reconciliation instead of angry rebuttals. It’s called bridging the gap between us.

When Jesus died on the cross, that’s what He did. He is the finest designer of bridges. With the cross, He built the most significant and greatest bridge of all  – an old wooden and rugged cross – across the huge chasm of sin, despair, and death so we could cross over it to life with Him.

It’s never too late to build a bridge. You don’t even have to be an experienced engineer to do so.

“Build a bridge by extending your hand.” ~ Ken Poirot

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Be still…button your lip

blogIMG_5179One of life’s lessons I learned in middle age was that I needed to choose to be content with my circumstances and it was one of those lessons I felt led to share with other women during my blogging break of just being still.

I wrote in yesterday’s post how I finally listened and obeyed the nudge that God was giving me to lead a women’s Bible study in my home. The topic I chose for us to study was learning how to be content. Not an easy task in this world where we compare everyone to ourselves.

“I wish I was thin like she is.”

“Oh, why can’t I be successful or have a perfect life like her?”

“If only this or that hadn’t happened to me, I’d be so much happier.”

“A bigger house, car, bank account, etc. would make me feel content.”

I imagine every woman may have had those thoughts at one time or other in her life and maybe even voiced them out loud.

One sure-fire way we show our discontent is by complaining.

“That cashier was so slow scanning my purchases at the grocery store today, it took up too much of my time!”

“This weather stinks, why does it have to rain so much (or be so hot, or be too cold)?

“My husband never puts his dirty socks in the hamper and I’m sick of it!”

“Just once I wish my kids would do what I tell them!”

We open our mouths and all that comes out are complaints about everything. Nothing suits us. Nothing satisfies us. And that’s one of the issues we worked on during our Bible study sessions.

We found that God’s Word admonishes us to be careful about the words that come out of our mouths. And we learned that the Apostle Paul gave us the secret to contentment 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 everything through him who gives me strength.” (New International Version)

It doesn’t mean we fake it. It doesn’t mean we act like nothing’s wrong when something is very wrong. But it does mean we find balance.

We realize life on earth will never be perfect but God promises to get us through the hard stuff. Our part is to pray, trust Him, and give sacrifices of thanksgiving to Him for what He’s helping us through in life, no matter what.

We choose our attitudes.

We choose to give our anxieties to God. We choose to pray specifically. We choose to be thankful. We choose to dwell on the positive. And we choose not to complain.

Every week, I offered practical ways to apply what we learned to our lives and used some kind of concrete example to help us remember what we talked about during our studies.

To help curb our complaining attitudes, I encouraged each woman to take a button home to remind her to button her lip every time she was tempted to complain.

I found I had to use that button more times than not myself. I changed my outlook from dwelling on the negative to choosing to find something for which to be thankful.

Sometimes, the teacher learns just as much if not more than the student.  Just one of the aspects of life I was reminded of during my time of being still.

“Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.” ~ Dale Carnegie

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com