Feeling at home

blogimg_8598

At home in my own backyard

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. Home – that’s a subject I find myself writing about often in this blog. You might say I adhere to that old saying, “Home is where the heart is.” My heart has always claimed home.

So Papa and I live in this house which we call home. It’s just an ordinary house, nothing fancy; it has that country farmhouse look to it, especially plunked down in the middle of a field that we purchased from an elderly farmer to make our building lot.

I do love my home. I’m happy in it. And I hope that when folks come to my house they feel welcomed and ‘at home.’ But this place that I call home is just a house that Papa and I have lived in for over 16 years now.

There have been other places we have called home over our 39 years of marriage.  His hometown is in the central part of our state, mine is here where we live. The home in which I spent most of my growing up years in is only a few miles down our country road. That place was the anchor that I tethered myself to while Papa and I wandered across the country from one place to another during a good portion of our married life.  

No matter how far away I wandered though, I knew home was still there waiting for me. It was a difficult task for me to relinquish my parents’ home after they both died and my sisters and I decided to sell it. The ties that bound were strong.

Having lived in several homes in four different states, home takes on an entirely different meaning for me now as I’ve matured not only in age but also in wisdom. But even more importantly, as my faith deepens and matures, the thought of home evokes an even more profound meaning than it once did.

The words of an old gospel song ring through my memory bank:

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

This home here on this planet revolving around the sun, on this earth held in place by the omnipotent hand of its Creator, is really just temporary. My permanent home lies beyond in a place I can’t describe but will know and recognize it when I finally see it someday.

But for now, I offer up praise and thanks to God for the earthly home He has provided, for the wondrous work of artistry He paints on the day and night canvas right outside my window, and for the loved ones He has given me in my life to share this home with. 

In this crazy, mixed up world, I can only feel at home when my thoughts are centered on the One who loves me beyond measure, enough to die in my place, enough to leave His glorious home to enter ours. His name is Jesus.

 What signifies ‘home’ for you?

[Day One’s theme in the “Developing Your Eye” photography challenge this summer -which I missed due to my hibernation lethargy – was “Home.” The photo above which I captured on a sunny early September day represents both the theme and my thoughts today.]

“God’s thoughts, his will, his love, his judgments are all man’s home. To think his thoughts, to choose his will, to love his loves, to judge his judgments, and thus to know that he is in us, is to be at home.” ~  George Macdonald

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Very superstitious

blogIMG_2743 (2)If I were a superstitious person, I’d be inclined to believe I’m seeing omens here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

In the last couple of years, life has taken a bit of a detour from the usual path. But I chalk that up to life being just…well, life. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you plan, but I don’t believe that has anything to do with superstitions or luck – good or bad.

A number of days ago while I was sitting at the desktop computer in our home office, my attention was drawn to a red flash crossing in front of the room’s window. Curious about what I may have seen, I slid the rolling chair back from the desk and stood up.

And that’s when I observed it.  The flash was not Superman’s red cape but instead a brightly colored cardinal who flew past the window and now perched in a peculiar spot – the silk yellow forsythia wreath hanging on our front door.  Mr. Red just alighted himself right onto the lower portion of the grapevine wreath form and sat there for a short while, nestled among the fake forsythia.

I slowly maneuvered my way towards my camera to get a photo of him from the inside glass window on the door, but before I could even pluck the camera out of its bag, Mr. Red flew off.

His appearance surprised me.  Birds do not usually fly into the covered front porch area of our house. They’re found at our bird feeder hanging in a tree at the back of the house or strutting along the deck railing taunting the indoor cat.  No signs of a nest being constructed anywhere on our porch either, so why did he land on our front door wreath?

Was he coming for a visit? Hubby and I discussed this unusual occurrence and I flippantly said something about a cardinal representing an angel or something. I had a vague sense that I’d heard that somewhere before.

So of course, I did what anyone with access to the internet does, I googled it.

According to folklore or superstition, if you see a cardinal it represents a loved one who has passed away and is now visiting you.  Apparently just when you need them or miss them most, said loved ones in the form of cardinals appear. Or they visit you during celebratory times or times of distress just to let you know they’re always with you.  Uh huh.

Well, I don’t believe in superstition or old wives’ tales or whatever you want to call such things.

It’s true that there has been some distress in Mama’s Empty Nest in the last year, but seeing a cardinal land on my front door wreath doesn’t necessarily give me comfort.

Sure, it would be great to think that just because that red bird graced my front door, help is on the way. But I don’t think my help comes from that pretty fellow.  My help only comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.

All of this caused me to think about the many superstitious sayings and beliefs that have infiltrated our daily lives.

So I made a quick list of just the ones I could name off the top of my head.  Some of them I learned from my grandmother and some from my mom.

Are you ready?  Don’t be alarmed because I thought of 13 items.  You know, THIRTEEN! That ominous number.  The number when paired with Friday means “watch out for unlucky circumstances to come your way.”

By the way, if you are a person who is afraid of Friday the 13th, you’ll be pleased to know you are a long, hard-to-say-and-spell word – friggatriskaidekophobic. Say that three times quickly if you want good luck. (Just kidding!)

And that’s what is so funny or ironic about that cardinal showing up at my front door.  It happened on Friday, the 13th.  Cue scary music.

But I digress.  Here’s my superstitious list:

  1. Don’t walk under a ladder, it’s bad luck.
  2. Break a mirror – seven years bad luck
  3. Find a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck.
  4. If your ear itches, someone is talking about you.
  5. Step on a crack, you’ll break your mama’s back.
  6. Knock on wood to ward off bad luck.
  7. Don’t open an umbrella in the house – bad luck.
  8. If you find a four-leaf clover, you’ll have good luck.
  9. If your nose is itchy, you’re getting company.
  10. Bad luck comes in threes.
  11. If the palm of your hand itches, you’ll soon receive some money.
  12. If a bird gets into your house, it’s a sign that there will be a death in the family.
  13. Cross your fingers so what you hope for comes true.

I bet you can add many more. Perhaps you even believe in them and are very superstitious. But just thinking about these myths conjures up a song from the early 70’s called “Superstitions” by Stevie Wonder.  

“Very superstitious,
Writing’s on the wall,
Very superstitious,
Ladders bout’ to fall,
Thirteen month old baby,
Broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck,
The good things in your past

[Chorus:]
When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way.”

And you know what?  That’s exactly what I think.  Superstitions are definitely not the way.  I don’t believe them. For me, there’s something more rock solid to place my belief and my trust in, and that’s my Savior.

So Mr. Red Cardinal showing up on Friday, the 13th? Perhaps he was just showing other wildlife how to visit my front porch.  It is a pretty nice place to rest for a while.  Just ask the rabbit that hopped up onto it afterwards.  

Yep, a rabbit appeared on my porch just a couple days after the cardinal visit. And you know what they say about rabbits, don’t you?  It’s good luck for a rabbit to cross your path (or perhaps sit upon your front porch). One superstition even says that if you see a rabbit running through your yard it means your garden will be especially fertile this year.

Well, our garden may be productive IF we can keep the bunnies OUT of it.  Maybe they will stick to the front porch instead.  I’ll cross my fingers about that one.

Nah, I think I’ll just keep doing what I need to do.  Take this life and all that goes with it – good or bad – to the Lord in prayer.

“Basically I say a few prayers before a game and let that direct me, not superstitions.” ~ Brian McBride (American soccer player)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Dandelion thoughts

blogIMG_7831 (2)They are everywhere.

Dotting the expanse of our 2.25 acre yard with their sunny dispositions, there is a plethora of them. But they don’t stay long. 

For a few days their perky little blooms speckle our lawn breaking up the monotonous spread of grass green, but then they transform into wisps of white fluff seeds which the breezy wind lifts up into the air carrying them far and wide.

Yep, I’m writing about dandelions. If you live in the suburbs and desire a picture perfect plush lawn with no weeds, you eradicate them as best you can.  But when you live in the country like I do, these little bursts of sunshine yellow crop up everywhere.

And you know what? I like them. It actually makes my heart happy to sit on my front porch swing and view our bumper crop of dandelions (and we do have a bumper crop this year!). I think they are just…well…dandy.

Dandelions remind me of childhood. 

Of picking them and fashioning bouquets to take to my mother.

Of making dandelion chains to wear as necklaces, bracelets, or crowns.

Of plucking the white puffy seed balls left behind after they bloom and blowing gently on them while making wishes.

Of lying in the cool grassy cushion of the earth and watching those wisps float and flit against the blue sky of warm weather. 

So what some folks perceive as a weed, I think of as a sweet little reminder of days gone by and nostalgic thoughts. 

I recently read a quote that said “When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds or a thousand wishes.” (unknown source)

How true. It’s all in how we look at things, isn’t it? Do we only see what we consider to be annoying or negative or can we look beyond and see something pleasant and positive?

So dandelion thoughts can apply to life. When plans go awry, when troubles and trials come my way, those aspects of life can wear me down. Make me feel as useless as weeds appear to be. But doesn’t everything have a purpose? Even those trials we face in life?

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

So if a weed like a dandelion has an undiscovered  ‘virtue,’ then surely there exists an equally unrealized purpose for those hard times we encounter in life.

Difficult circumstances cause me to grow in my faith and actually compel me to become a stronger person. If life was simple and easy and always turning out exactly the way I wanted, from where would I gather any strength? I’d be as delicate as those dandelion seeds floating in the wind, tossed here and there without any direction.

So I will glance out my window or perch on my porch swing and give thanks to the Lord, Creator of all things, for dandelions and also for dandelion thoughts. And just maybe I’ll grow like a weed. 

“Be a weed! A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.” ~ Doug Larson

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

My happy place…my own back yard

blogIMG_6252

The theme for this week’s photo challenge theme is ‘happy place,‘ a subject I’ve written about before.  You can click here if you missed that post.  

I don’t have a plethora of words to impart right now.  But I do have photos.

And my happy place is taking pictures that I can share with others.  My happy place is spending time with my loved ones. My happy place is found in my faith.  

And even though I enjoy traveling and seeing new sights, experiencing new places, and meeting new people, I’m always glad to come back here.  

To my home.  To sit on my backyard deck and observe God’s creation settling down for a rest on this side of the world.

Sunset.  

Painted with brilliant colors by the Master Artist.

In my own back yard.

 It’s one of my favorite happy places.

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” ~ from the poem “Home Sweet Home” by John Howard Payne

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Last minute nostalgia

blogDSCN0379 (2)Nostalgic.  Who would think that such a word would prove difficult for me?

This past week’s photo challenge on Word Press was “nostalgic” and I wrestled with that word all week long much to my puzzlement. 

Nostalgia as defined in my trusty dictionary: 1. a longing for things, persons, or situations that are not present. 2. Homesickness.

I think I often write nostalgic posts, so I figured posting a photo to convey this concept would be a snap.  Snapshot in a snap.  That’s what I expected.

Today is Friday, a new photo challenge will be issued today.  Yesterday, I found myself still struggling to choose which picture means nostalgic to me and what to write about it.

My first thought was to post an old family photo from my childhood.   I pored through old pictures in my collection and couldn’t find just the right one.  Next, I decided it would be appropriate to show a picture of my grown-up and flown the nest children when they were small.  I can’t get any more nostalgic when I think about those years when my little ones were still in my nest.

Yet, that idea just didn’t seem right either.  Several more suggestions came to me, but I rejected them all.  Finally, out of desperation to beat the time line imposed (post a photo before the next challenge is issued), I asked my son what he thought of when I said the word nostalgic.

Son drove in the night before from that state next door because he is in a college friend’s wedding this weekend in our nearby city.  When he took a short break away from his laptop where he was working at his job by computer, I posed the question to him.

He paused a minute thinking but then responded with his first thought.  Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Yes, that was it.

Our family sold my parents’ house after both of my parents died.   That home had been in our family for well over 100 years and it was so very difficult to let it go.  My children have some of their most fond memories of traveling back here to my home state to visit their grandparents.  We enjoy all of our stories about the memories made while staying in that very house where I lived most of my growing up years.

The actual house, owned by a different family now, still exists but it doesn’t look the same.   Its things, people, situations, history, and the family tie that it represented are what we miss the most and what we carry in our hearts.  And that’s what makes it the very essence of ‘nostalgic’ for me.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com