Posted in Home, Life, travel

When home is the safest place to be

My first thought as I write this post sitting at my desktop computer in our home office while I practice social distancing is to ask you, all of my readers, how are you doing during these crazy times of the corona virus (COVID-19) crisis?

Are you well? Are you staying at home to protect yourselves and others? Do you have enough food and necessary supplies?

I pray daily for all of us. And I want you all to know that if you have prayer concerns, please leave those in the comment space below and I will pray for you and your family.

My second thought as I write is this is not the kind of post I want to write, so I’m determined that I will try my hardest to continue to post only encouraging, uplifting thoughts to offer bright spots of hope during this difficult time in our world after this.

Papa and I just returned last Wednesday, March 18, from a trip out west. It was not a trip taken without some trepidation and careful thought. We had this trip planned some time ago. Airline tickets purchased, hotel and car rental reservations made. Our daughter too was taking a stay-cation from work to be with her child, our granddaughter, who we provide child care for, just so Papa and I could go.

We flew to Arizona on March 9 with supplies of anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer in our bags. We tried not to touch areas at the airport before departure, washed our hands often, wiped down our seats, and practiced social distancing by sitting in an empty gate area away from people as we waited to board our flight.

Once on the plane, we disinfected the arms of our seats, serving trays, seat belts, lights and air valves above us, and we were relieved to see the flight was nowhere full. We had our row to ourselves, just the two of us.

Our itinerary was to drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff, stay the night there, and depart the next morning for the Grand Canyon. We accomplished that part of our trip and I will write more about our Grand Canyon experience later.

Next on our schedule was to drive to my sister and brother-in-law’s home in southwestern Arizona. Once we arrived there, the four of us hunkered down a bit due to rain (a full day of steady rain was abnormal for there) and my sister experiencing some back pain.

Since we had visited them two years ago, we really had seen most of the interesting sights in their area, so it wasn’t that difficult to just spend our days visiting and talking with our loved ones in their beautiful home.

We did manage some ATV riding out into the desert, a Sunday afternoon drive to view something we hadn’t seen before, walks in the nearly deserted neighborhood, and just soaking up sunshine outdoors by the swimming pool.

But for the most part, we truly did practice social distancing even though we weren’t that aware of the fact that we should. We chose not to watch TV news because we didn’t want to surrender to the panic that seemed to flood the airwaves and we had very limited access to the internet. Looking back, I count that all as a good thing.

Our concern arose as we neared our departure to fly home. Would our flight be cancelled? Was it safe to fly in a plane full of people? What about exposing ourselves at the airports (both the departure and arrival – fortunately we had a direct flight)? Should we just keep our rental car and drive all the way back home over 2000 miles?

Concern ran high, especially with our grown children, who texted and called us often to check on us.  We prayed a lot for wisdom, guidance, and peace.  The day before our flight, we drove the three hours or so from our dear ones’ home to Phoenix, stayed the night in a mostly empty hotel, and the next morning waited for our flight back home.

Again we sat far away from others, used caution in what we touched, washed hands, sanitized seating areas, etc., and did the best we could. Again our flight was not completely full so Papa and I were seated by ourselves.

blogIMG_1412Everyone on board seemed to be wiping down surfaces and the flight attendants collected all of our now contaminated wipes in garbage bags immediately. We were only served drinking water in pull-top cans, no cups, no ice, and were also given some packaged snacks.

We arrived ahead of time at our destination in our city’s airport, deserted more than I have ever seen it before. I texted our daughter to wait in the cell-phone parking area outside the airport until we collected our luggage at baggage claim and stepped outdoors. We texted her then, she pulled up, we loaded our bags into her vehicle, and we headed for home.

Were we completely safe? Only time will tell. But I know one thing for certain. I have never been so glad to get home, sweet home in my entire life. Since then, we are continuing to practice social distancing as I hope you are.

My greatest concern is now not for myself. It’s for my sister and brother-in-law who are  nearing 80 and not in the best health. My sister has several autoimmune diseases and I pray that she and my brother-in-law stay safe from this pandemic.

But I also pray daily for our daughter, a hospital nurse, and all of our healthcare workers.  Just yesterday, she learned there is a patient with a confirmed COVID-19 case in her hospital. We have already put an action plan into place – our granddaughter will stay with us until this crisis is over – because our daughter worries that she may bring the virus home to her child or to us.

I urge you, if you are a person of faith, please pray as well for those on the front lines of dealing with this new and unknown virus. They are selfless and are putting not only their selves at risk but also their families. 

I have to ask would we do the same for them? We can. By staying put in our homes, not going out to public places, and not socializing face to face.  Instead if you’re able, go outdoors where there aren’t any folks; take a drive in your car but stay in your car; take a walk around your house but keep your distance from your neighbor.

I’ve read often times that God told us 365 times in the Bible (that’s once a day for an entire year) to “fear not.”  I take those words of my God to heart. We will trust in the Lord of all to protect us, but we also will use the good sense He gave us to continue to practice good hygiene, eat healthful food, and stay home.

I pray you all do the same, even if you aren’t ill and don’t think you’ve been exposed. Think of others before yourself.

Be safe, my friends. Stay home, shelter in place, and be well.  Staying home is the safest place for us all right now.

Come back to Mama’s Empty Nest for words of encouragement, hope, and some light in the darkness. I will try my best to provide it.

“No matter who you are or where you are, instinct tells you to go home.” ~ Laura Marney

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christmas, family, grandparenting, Home, photography

Nutcracker memories

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Little One’s fascinated by them too.

Since I was a child, I’ve always loved the classical music of The Nutcracker, written by Tchaikovsky. I mean who doesn’t love the idea of a sugar plum fairy dancing in your head while you listen to that beautiful music?

A long time ago, I started a small collection of different nutcrackers and they almost always adorn someplace in our home at Christmas time. I don’t really recall which one I acquired first, but over the years, I’ve added more. But before the collection became too large, I decided to stop and just keep it small.

Of course, The Nutcracker is a famous ballet, usually performed during the Christmas season and I do have a vague recall of having seen it televised when I was a child in the early 1960’s.

Later, as a married adult I attended a live performance of The Nutcracker danced by a ballet company in the city where we lived at the time.  And as our children came along, I decided that one day we would take them to see the ballet as a holiday treat.

We managed to accomplish that, although our son, who was pretty young at the time, fell asleep and missed more than half of the performance. Still it’s a lovely memory in my mind: the five of us all dressed up in Christmas finery traveling into the city to enjoy a live ballet with a Christmas story line.

Our oldest granddaughter seems to share my fascination with nutcrackers. We’ve read the story to her and she remembered that Nana has a set of nutcrackers that decorate the top of the piano at Christmas time.

While Papa and I were hauling out the holly to set our house ablaze with lights and decorations, Little One was here as it was a baby-sitting day.

“Nana, can I help you get the nutcrackers out?” she asked. Well, I’m a grandmother, a doting one, and even though I probably never allowed my own children at her age to help with the nutcrackers in fear that they would break one, of course, I said, “Sure!”

I found the plastic storage bin where the nutcrackers were located, opened it, and one by one, Little One helped me release them from their protective layers of tissue and bubble wrap. Something needed my attention in the kitchen, so I left our granddaughter in the dining room with the decorations.

Re-entering later, I found myself amused that she had lined them all up mostly by height and was enjoying them. So I left again to do something else.

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“Okay, all of you nutcrackers, line up!”

Soon, I heard a little bit of thumping. I called to her and asked if she was alright. She assured me she was. A few minutes afterward, she sought me and asked me to come into the living room. I was shocked at what I found.

My four-year-old grandchild has an eye for decorating! She had crawled up onto the piano bench and placed the nutcrackers, one by one, in a very nice fashion. She was so proud of her accomplishment that she dragged her mama, when she got back from working, in to see her display.

We all chuckled when she announced that she did it all by herself and “I didn’t even get distracted.”

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Little One’s display — just as good as Nana can do!

Those nutcrackers gave me yet another Christmas memory to cherish. And some day, when she’s just a tad older so she won’t fall asleep, this Nana and Papa will take our granddaughter, dressed in her Christmas finery, to see The Nutcracker ballet in person.

And that will be yet another Christmas memory for her and me, I hope.

“The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale.” ~ Vera Nazarian

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in gardening, Home, photography

Words for Wednesday: love is blue

blogIMG_8816Whenever I notice something blue, an old song from the late 1960’s entitled Love is Blue, (music composed by André Popp, French lyrics by Pierre Cour, and English lyrics by Bryan Blackburn) pops into my mind.

To me, the music sounds somewhat ethereal, almost haunting. I can remember loving to play the piece on the piano as a teenager and I still have the sheet music somewhere.

The lyrics to that song are sad and melancholy, telling the woeful tale of lost love.  “Blue, blue, my world is blue. Blue is my world, now I’m without you” are the opening lines.

Blue is always associated with feeling down, sad, lonely, or downright depressed. But for me, the color blue doesn’t have the same connotations.

Blue is one of my favorite colors and when paired with my absolute favorite, yellow, those two together just make me cheerful and happy.  I get a mental picture of bright yellow daffodils or vivid yellow sunflowers against a brilliantly blue sky. So beautiful.

I also love the clean, crisp look of blue enhanced with white. Wedgewood china comes to my mind. And Chinese porcelain or Holland’s delftware, or French toile fabric with blue designs. Again so very lovely.

In two different houses where we lived in the past (in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest), our kitchen colors were blue and white. And even though I’m not that fond of cooking, I enjoyed being in those kitchens because of their décor color.  

Blue. When I see it, I’m definitely not feeling blue.

Blue is calming to me and I find myself drawn to blue in nature…blue skies, blue water, blue on a bird, blue flowers.

It’s one of the reasons I wanted a hydrangea – a blue one, of course – planted in our yard several years ago. When it blooms in late summer, I just want to sit and gaze at its gorgeous color because I love it so much.

For me, love IS blue. Big blossoms of blue. How could anyone feel blue looking at these?

“Blue thou art, intensely blue; Flower, whence came thy dazzling hue?” ~ James Montgomery

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Home, photography

Be still…in silence

During my day and evening hours when I was determined to be still, I found myself just sitting down and resting. 

This week I will share the reflections I found by doing so.

Oh, I still got my exercise in each week by walking in the early morning hours with my good friend and keeping up with household chores and gardening work. But some of the time I just found myself sitting still.

Sometimes relaxing in my easy chair and ottoman when my gaze would wander to the open French door leading to our deck.

Sometimes warmed by sunshine on a deck chair hearing the gentle breeze rustle through our maple trees and watching our fine-feathered friends find morsels to eat at the bird feeder.

Sometimes curled up on the couch with a good book to read.

Sometimes in a quiet spot while on vacation with Papa just enjoying our surroundings.

And sometimes perched on our front porch swing, rain or shine, observing all my eyes could take in and listening to the silence of the countryside.

On several of those times spent swaying back and forth on the swing, I’d suddenly hear a whirring sound – quick and distinct – and I’d duck my head thinking that perhaps a bumble bee just whizzed by my head.

And then I would see it. Not a bumble bee, but a tiny hummingbird which zoomed past me to sip some nectar from the hanging hummingbird feeder at the other end of the porch.

I stopped my motion of swinging and remained perfectly still just observing the rapid movement of wings that I could barely see as that tiny creature hovered in the air, then dived into the feeder, dipping into the sweetness it found there.

By the time I carefully reached for my cell phone to try to capture a photo, the little thing would zip away.

I can’t recall how many times I just sat and watched and waited with my camera or cell at hand to snap a photo.

But one day, it was worth the wait in silence to capture a picture of a tiny bird that is anything but still.

It always is best to be silent at times.

Silent to see that which you may have not noticed before.

Silent to hear sounds you may miss in the hurry scurry of everyday life.

Silent to listen for God’s voice to whisper in your ear, “See my beautiful creation made for your enjoyment.”

“Let us be silent so we may hear the whisper of God.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Home, Life

A different kind of journey

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Last year’s journey into the Arizona desert

I’m on a journey of sorts. And I’m not sure what all I will find on this trek.

Oh, I’m not traveling, but how I wish I were. Last year at this time, Papa and I zoomed along in a RZR side by side ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) on Arizona desert trails with my sister and brother-in-law and saw sights we’d never seen before.

This year, I’m struggling (and not zooming) to make trails through a myriad of stuff. All that stuff that’s been lurking in our basement for way too long. Seriously, it looked like a hoarder lived in that overstuffed place.

Last year, we made our way on vacations through mountains. This year, I’m not sure yet where our vacation plans will take us but for now I’m, slowly but surely, making my way through mountains of cardboard boxes, plastic totes, and stockpiles of this, that, and the other thing.

Honestly, it’s a tad overwhelming and the situation became even more daunting when we had a washing machine problem which resulted in a flood of water drenching the laundry room and promptly leaking through the floor down into the basement while spreading faster than melting butter all over old furniture and cardboard boxes.

Now my search and destroy mission included opening boxes of stored stuff that belongs to a couple of our grown children, as well as our own junk belongings and checking for water damage. I will say one thing about the calamity – it forced me to start my attack on the over-crowded basement NOW.

So as I sort through these self-made mountains, categorizing, organizing, and eliminating, I’m finding items I’ve forgotten we had.

I’m finding items that need to acquire new homes.

I’m finding items like old photos of my husband’s extended family that were supposed to be sent to cousins a couple of years ago.

I’m finding old memories along with some antiquated stuff.

I’m finding plenty of trash can fodder as well.

In between all the tossing and turning, I have time to dream up new places to visit, new sights to see, new horizons to think about. Cleaning up the basement (and it’s going to be a several days, maybe weeks long job) is giving me plenty of time to ponder and is also prompting me to view matters in a different way.

And as always, I resort to the passage from God’s Word that I claim as my life verses: “Be joyful always (even in the middle of a mess); pray continually (Lord, give me clarity of mind to sort through this all); give thanks in all circumstances (I’m so thankful the situation isn’t worse).”  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Hopefully, I’ll reach that destination of a neat and orderly basement soon. But in the meantime, I have a new perspective on my journey.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Home

Everything old is new again

blogIMG_6791Remembering where you’ve been in life is a toss-up. Sometimes it brings pleasant memories to the forefront of your mind, but recalling the past can also conjure up those moments you’d rather forget.

Being the Pollyanna that I am, I’d much rather focus on the memories that bring a smile to my face instead of those that make me wince, although I know there is always a lesson to be learned with the not-so-great memories.

As I’ve been cleaning, re-arranging, and purging throughout our country home, memories have surfaced time and again, giving me pause to stop my frenzied crackdown on all of this accumulated stuff and just simply remember.

Probably the reason we are inundated with too many belongings is because we’ve haven’t moved in the last 19 years, topping our record for the amount of time we’ve actually lived in one house (prior to that it was six years).

When Papa’s career caused us to be more mobile and relocate every few years, we  eliminated the unnecessary more often because it was simpler than moving a boatload (or a truckload) of stuff around the country.

But now in addition to our own paraphernalia acquired by living in one place for this long, it seems we’ve become a storage unit for our grown children. And then there are those items from both sets of our parents that somehow found a new home with us after our folks passed away.

And it’s all cluttering up our basement, which I will descend upon once I get the rest of the house squared away.

I’m actually pretty good at tossing a lot of our non-essential stuff when I put my mind to it and during this latest bout of cleaning out, the donation and garage sale piles keep growing larger.

But those sentimental items that bring to mind such dear memories? Not so easy to part with.

Like the old printer’s type box (photo above) hanging on our wall and filled with tiny mementos from places we’ve visited or our children have ventured to over the last 40+ years.

When Papa and I were young newlyweds living the Army life in southwestern Oklahoma, we would travel to Dallas, Texas for weekend fun occasionally.

On one of those trips, we shopped at a unique place called Olla Podrida, a huge building not styled like a mall but filled with many eclectic shops featuring artisan’s works for sale – everything from pottery to paintings to stained glass to handcrafted jewelry to woodcraft to clocks and collectibles.

A place that doesn’t exist anymore in the real world but still lives on in my memories.

While there, we posed for one of those ‘old-time’ photographs and purchased several items including the printer’s type box – interesting to me because I worked at a daily newspaper at the time.  We also bought a couple of old type letters and some miniature trinkets to place in the box.

And ever since, that box has hung on a wall in all of our homes. Today it is filled to the brim with mementos. I’m not quite ready to part with it yet, but we must stop buying those little curios to place in the box because there is no more room.

So for now, it stays on the wall. But I am making lots of other changes. While cleaning out closets, I came across some items special to me and I decided they shouldn’t be hiding out beneath our summer clothes, but displayed somewhere in sight.

So the bedroom that used to be our son’s is now the family heirloom room centered around the 1940’s bedroom suite that belonged to my parents. My grandmother’s 1920’s era clock sits on the armoire. Old family photos decorate the room along with a little porcelain shoe that doubles as a pincushion which belonged to my Great Aunt Flora who gave it to me when I was a young teenager. 

Junk to some, but treasures to me.

My cleaning out days have yielded much. Much to discard. But much to delight in and in a way, it’s like a new beginning. Rearranging some of the rooms in our house, changing decorations, discarding some old items but replacing them with older vintage things, many which are family ‘treasures.’

It’s all new and just the change I needed to make.

New year. Old stuff. But new look. I think I like it.

“Old things are better than new things, because they’ve got stories in them.” ~ Kami Garcia, Beautiful Creatures

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Home, Life, Thanksgiving

Words for Wednesday: Thanksgiving table

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On this 21st day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m thankful to be able to prepare not just one table to gather my loved ones around for a feast of good food, but the room to set another table as well.  Fifteen family members will gather to give thanks in our home.

Family. A warm house to gather in. Enough food to satisfy our hunger. And faith in the God who provides it all. 

What more could I be thankful for?

“If I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Host of this universe, Who daily spreads a table in my sight, surely I cannot do less than acknowledge my dependence.”  ~ G.A. Johnston Ross

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Posted in Home, Life

Words for Wednesday: the pathway home

blogIMG_4416 (1)Home. It’s not only where the heart is but it is where many folks physically find themselves on Thanksgiving Day.

A lot is written about home – be it ever so humble, there’s no place like it. In our 40+ years of marriage, Papa and I have called a lot of places home.

Our family of origin homes where we grew up were in two different areas of our home state. His family home was in the city, mine was in the country. Our homes were over 200 miles apart, different in a lot of ways.

As newlyweds, our first home was a one-bedroom furnished apartment nearby an Army post in the southwestern United States. Eventually, we moved onto the post and lived in military housing in a comfortable three-bedroom duplex.

After Papa spent an unaccompanied year-long tour in a foreign land, we reunited and, with our first-born, called home some temporary housing until we were able to move once again into a three-bedroom house on the military post.

But we only lived there for one year. Papa separated from the Army and joined the ranks of sales with a national company. We weren’t sure where our new home would be located until after he went through his training.

Home became the very first house we purchased in the Midwest.  We moved in with one child and moved out with three children into a brand new house in a smaller suburb. But again our home didn’t stay our home for very long and before we knew it, we were whisked off to the Pacific Northwest. A new place to call home.

Twenty years ago, we made the decision to ‘come home’ – move back to our native state. It was a cross country move for us but one we’ve never regretted. It took us quite a bit of time as we searched for our new home here, but eventually we found a 2.25 acre plot of ground in the country to build a new home upon.

So this is home. This is the place we have lived the longest time during our marriage. This is the place our grown up offspring call ‘home’ even though they spent many of their growing up years in other states. They all have their own homes now, but I think they are like me – they still call their parents’ house home.

And home is where we all will be this Thanksgiving. This house that holds a ton of memories on this ground about three and a half miles away from the homestead where my parents lived and I grew up.

On this 14th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, my heart is full of gratefulness for home. Not just for this house, but for this place, this area of this state where my heart has always been. And I give thanks that our family will gather around the table once again here at home.

Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.” ~ Wilbur D. Nesbit

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Faith, Home, Life

Giving my best

blogIMG_1100This may sound odd in this day and age, but I’m one of those who actually likes ironing. It’s one of those household chores my mother taught me as a young girl that I truly enjoy.

Sounds crazy, I know. Who irons now days? Just grab everything out of the dryer before wrinkles set in and off you go. Wash and wear.

But for me, there’s something calming about setting up the ironing board, – given to us as a wedding gift 40 years ago – heating up the steam iron, and pressing away.

My mother was a homemaker; that was her occupation and she did it well. She took pride in her clean and orderly home inside and out, sparkling white clothes, and freshly pressed sheets, pillowcases, and linen tea towels.

Back in the day before permanent press when clothes were washed and often dried outside on a clothesline (which is another chore I still enjoy), doing laundry took the better part of a day.

If some articles of clothing became excessively wrinkled in the washing machine, I can remember my mom sprinkling them with water, rolling them up, and storing them in a special zippered plastic bag (way before ziplock bags became a thing)  in the refrigerator until she had the time to iron them later.

Mom taught me how to properly press clothes and household linens starting with my dad’s white cotton handkerchiefs.  They were easy to iron because they were square and flat. Next came ironing pillowcases and sheets. Back then, these items were 100% cotton and most folks ironed them.

When I mastered that, Mom let me try my hand at ironing our everyday clothes and from there I progressed to pressing Dad’s white dress shirts, which he wore to work every day.

For some reason, ironing clothes just didn’t seem like a chore to me, instead it was fun. Unfortunately, I don’t consider cooking the same way so Mom’s excellent cooking and baking skills did not rub off on me.

Papa can attest to this although he tries not to hurt my feelings about cooking not being my forte. Most husbands ask their wives why they can’t cook like the husband’s mother; mine asks why I don’t cook like my own mom did. But that’s a whole other blog post.

However, I thought about all of this the other day as I was ironing because I do still enjoy this task. There’s something so satisfying for me to press out each wrinkle and fold of the item being ironed making it look almost new and untouched.

A stack of items that needed pressed to make them look their best accumulated in my laundry room.  An autumn designed table runner for my dining room table, two small table covers that I had washed and hung out to dry on the outside clothesline, and a stack of linen hand towels awaited the touch of a hot steam iron.

The hand towels came from church. We have a time-honored tradition in the way we celebrate communion. Taking our reasons for doing so from the narrative in the Bible when Jesus gathered his 12 disciples together for the Last Supper, we not only partake of the bread and cup but also have a meal together and in humility and servanthood, wash one another’s feet.

We use large terrycloth towels as aprons to dry one another’s feet and small linen hand towels to dry our own hands upon washing them at the end of the foot washing ceremony.

I volunteered to wash all of the wet towels afterwards. The towel/aprons were unwrinkled after washing and drying, so I simply folded them up and stacked them ready to return to church.

But the linen towels were just a little rumpled with some of the edges turned up.  I could have easily attempted to smooth out the slight wrinkles with my hands and just folded them also, but something made me stop and decide to iron them instead.

The title to an old hymn – Give of Your Best to the Master – popped into my thoughts and the words and melody started playing in my mind.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love;
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save;
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

What is my best to give to my God? It sounds crazy, but ironing those linen towels was my best. Folding them just wasn’t good enough even though they would be placed in a box with all of the other clean towels in the church storage closet and no one (unless he/she reads this blog) would know that I had ironed the ones I took home to launder. 

No, I didn’t feel the need to press them perfectly to receive recognition for doing so. I wanted to iron those pieces of cloth not for praise or glory for myself but because they represented doing God’s work and work for Him should be done to the best of my ability.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”  ~ Colossians 3:23 (New Living Translation)

You see, my mother also taught me to do my best at whatever I worked at. And both my parents taught me to always present my best to our God. Not because He demands it, but because He deserves it.

He deserves my absolute best. He deserves my respect and reverence. He deserves my praise and giving Him honor and glory. 

Because giving my best truly is so little in comparison to what He’s done for me and you.

Using a hot iron to press out each wrinkle and make sharp creases in each fold, and stacking those small linen hand towels in an orderly fashion proved to be a kind of worship service that morning.

And a reminder to always do my best for my Savior. I knew I was on the right track because the next Sunday morning during worship, we sang an old hymn after our pastor’s message.

What was it? Give of Your Best to the Master.

 “Do your best and let God do the rest.” ~ Unknown

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Home, photography

Feeling at home

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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

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