Throwback Thursday: Enough

Next month,  I’ll be celebrating an anniversary of sorts.  Ten years of writing in my little cyberspace world, Mama’s Empty Nest.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared some throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog and do so again today.

The year 2020 has been a wild one so far. Everywhere we turn, there seems to be cause for alarm. Turning on the news evokes all kinds of emotions – almost all of them not positive ones. If you’re like me, you’ve had enough. How do we maneuver through these difficult times? I hope you find a bit of encouragement in this Throwback Thursday post of mine from October 2013.

Have you ever just thrown up your hands in surrender and cried, “Ok, enough is ENOUGH!” When is enough enough?

For most people, enough is enough when you’ve reached a point when you can no longer tolerate a situation.  Maybe you reached a boiling point when your anger just takes over and your up-to-now contained emotions blow up in force like Old Faithful gushing up and spilling over for all to see.

For some, the pressure actually may be physical.  You just can’t do any more because your body tuckers out.  Still others may experience such exasperation with another human being that they just must cut themselves off from that person for the sake of peace.

No matter what situation makes you throw in the towel or wave the white flag of surrender in capitulation, I think you reach the saturation point.  A saturation point is defined in chemistry as “the point at which a substance, under given conditions, can receive no more of another substance in solution.”

In other words, you’re soaked.  You’re filled up and overflowing.  Saturation can be negative or positive, depending on your attitude.

If you’re inclined to realize enough is enough and you want to give up the fight, you will walk away and turn your attention to something more productive.  

But if you’re a dig in your heels and fight to the finish kind of person,  you’re more likely to follow this advice attributed to Mary H. Waldrip:  “It’s important that people should know what you stand for. It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.” 

This week’s photo challenge has been “saturation.”  After a very wet, rainy summer season complete with flash flooding in places where I’ve never witnessed flooding before, I understand the definition of saturation just from looking out my window.

When our yard was water-logged to the brim from all the rain, I shot some photos of the result which demonstrated how something can be so inundated it can’t take any more.

Aren’t we, at times, just like a drenched yard?  Inundated and overwhelmed. At the point where we just… Can.  Not.  Take.  Any.  More.

For me, that’s where my faith takes over.  When every fiber of my being screams enough, my soul says fill me up.   Fill me up with Your joy, Lord.  Pour Your peace over me.  Soak me through with Your hope.  Saturate me with Your promises, O Lord.

Romans 15: 13 tells me:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When I’m saturated with God’s Holy Word, I am overflowing.  But instead of a flood that destroys everything in its path, this overflowing of living water nourishes and gives glory where glory is due.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, God is great!” ~ Psalm 70:4

When I’m saturated, I can see that the earth is filled with His glory even when I think I’ve had enough of this world.

So when those times come, when I want to yell out loud, “I’ve had enough!”, I need to turn to this scripture:  “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” ~ Phillipians 1: 9-11

For me, that will be enough. ©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

“Forget it enough to get over it and remember it enough so it doesn’t happen again.” ~ Unknown

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Maybe we need Pollyanna

blogIMG_1702(3)I keep hearing about an epidemic spreading across our land.

The opioid epidemic – painkiller and heroin addiction – has become a huge struggle for Americans.  I read about it online, in newspapers (including our local daily paper) and magazines, and see it on TV news. Lots of people are talking about it, shaking their heads, and wondering what to do.

Nowhere seems to be free of this affliction and it’s affecting my own little hometown. This reality reminds me of a Simon and Garfunkel song from the 1970’s written by Paul Simon entitled My Little Town.

It’s a depressing sort of song about growing up in a little town that’s, at the very least, unpleasant. One without any hope or imagination. And the one singing the song can’t wait to escape to a better life because there’s “nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town.”

I wonder how many of our little towns, which used to be so lively and beneficial places to live, raise a family, enjoy peace and experience very little crime, now resemble dead and dying places (figuratively and literally) because of this epidemic that seems to be plaguing even the tiniest of towns.

As a young adult, I left my own little hometown to attend college,  embark on my career, and then marry my husband and I never returned to reside here again until my mid 40’s. Our reasons for moving back to my hometown area were many, but one was to escape the madness and busyness of the suburbs, which is why we found property in a rural area outside of my little town.

This place where I grew up has changed since my childhood, much like other small towns I suspect. Back then, we didn’t worry about locking our doors, let alone home invasions.

We knew all our neighbors very well and knew we could count on them should we need help instead of living among strangers whose comings and goings make one suspect drug dealing activity.  I can remember knowing who lived in every house lined up along our country road and the roads that intersected it.

Children played outside without fear of being abducted or becoming victims of human trafficking. Adults didn’t worry about being assaulted or having their homes or cars burglarized. Public schools were safe places to send your kids.

Maybe it was just a simpler time. But call me Pollyanna, I think we could get back to times like that.

If you’ve never read the children’s book, Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter, or seen the 1960 Disney movie starring Hayley Mills, let me enlighten you.

The main character in this children’s classic, written back in the early 1900’s, is an orphan who is sent to live with a wealthy aunt, not a warm-fuzzy person. Matter of fact, auntie is downright cold and stern. No matter what little Pollyanna faces though, she continues to have a positive attitude and exude optimism.

Her philosophy for life proves contagious as her new hometown starts being transformed into a pleasant little burg because of Pollyanna. She plays a “glad game” and by her sunny disposition and example, the townspeople, including her crotchety aunt, begin to change for the better.

What does all of this have to do with the opioid epidemic gripping and destroying so many or any addiction be it drugs, alcohol, or whatever? I’m certainly no expert about addiction, although I truly believe one of the aspects that leads a person into any kind of addiction is a lack of hope.

Far too many of us walk around with gaping holes in our hearts. Despair takes over. We suffer from depression, anxiety, and our surroundings or circumstances don’t help one bit. A deficit of hope causes more despondency and it becomes a vicious circle.

Families are falling apart at the seams. Unemployment and other social ills offer little optimism for the future. Who wouldn’t want an escape from that? And that pill, or that injection, or that drink, or that addiction that has taken over your life seems to provide just what you need to feel better. 

But of course, it truly doesn’t. Addiction just creates a downward spiral of more hopelessness.

As a person of faith, my hope, my relief, my way of coping with the ills of this world is having a personal relationship with my Savior.

I know not everyone sees that as an answer. God gives us free will to choose to do so or not. But I also know God can heal the broken-hearted, lift up the down-trodden, deliver victims into victory, and He can break the chains of despair and addiction.

Not everyone is ready to embrace that solution of turning to God. I realize that because even though I have Pollyanna tendencies,  I am also a realist.

But I can’t help but think that maybe we just need to start with humble acts of kindness. Maybe we just need more of us to be Pollyanna to those who are hurting, those who are living lives of despair. Maybe we just need to reach out with a hand of help and a heart of hope and try to make this world or your own little town a better place.

It sounds too simple, doesn’t it? But maybe it’s worth a try.

“The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious. … People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts.”  ~ Eleanor Porter (from Pollyanna)

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Cup of kindness

blogIMG_47632New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Another year will soon be upon us and many of us may be singing this line:

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne.

Christmas has come and gone.  The empty nest is emptied out again and things are settled down and quiet once more.

The real pine tree adorned with lights and sentimental ornaments is looking pretty droopy. Soon all the festive finery that spruced up our home will be taken down, dismantled, boxed up, and secured away again until next year.

But I’m hoping one thing remains. Something that actually surprised me during the Christmas season. 

Good cheer and random acts of kindness. 

Let me say right up front that I do not enjoy any kind of shopping once Black Friday descends upon us.

The crowds, the noise, the hard-to-find parking spots, the long lines at the check-out, the crowds….oh wait, I already said that. The crowds. The older I get, the less I can tolerate crowded places. And rude people.

And let’s face it. It just seems to go hand in hand when everyone and his brother and fourteenth cousin twice removed is out there shopping for the perfect Christmas gifts.

This year, I was forced to do some Christmas shopping…well…during the Christmas shopping season because I didn’t complete it as I usually do before Thanksgiving. And I must confess, I actually dreaded going.

But I put my happy face on, grabbed Papa by the hand on one of his days off (luckily a week day), and off we went to brave the crowds in the shopping trenches, I mean centers.

Well. I was surprised. I expected crowds, rudeness, and nasty people. I found none of those. The stores were not crammed full of irritable shoppers which was a plus, matter of fact they weren’t crammed with people at all.

Score one for me.

Then I actually found people to be pleasant and congenial. Shocker, I know!

Score two.

And even kind. Folks held the doors open for one another. A lady checking out ahead of us in one store turned to me, held out a 20% discount coupon, and asked me if I wanted it.

“Are you sure?” I asked incredulously. She nodded yes, so I accepted the coupon and thanked her most kindly and wished her a Merry Christmas.

She responded in kind and said, “Every little bit helps.”

Score three.

So I guess that little slogan I read this past week on the tag of a Salada tea bag is on to something.

“Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life,” that tag proclaimed.

I’ll take that cup of Christmas kindness any time. Let’s hope it lasts all through the coming year.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” ~Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Kicking shadows to the curb

blogdscn8713

Just me and my shadow strolling down the avenue.

When I read last week’s photo challenge theme, that song lyric instantly popped into my head.  You guessed it, the theme is shadow.

At the mere mention of certain words, my music synapses fire up overtime and lines from songs immediately sing through my mind.  Honestly, does anyone else do that? I once had a co-worker who experienced the same thing and we used to try to stump one another with words that we couldn’t think of songs to.  It made for interesting car rides anyhow.

Although Judy Garland sang the song, “Me and My Shadow,” in the late ‘50’s, it’s the Frank Sinatra/Sammy Davis Jr duet that I mostly remember from the 1960’s. If you’re not sure of the song I’m talking about, you can hear/watch their version here:

“Me and my shadow,  all alone and feeling blue.”  Aren’t those lyrics the truth sometimes? Often when you are all alone in the middle of a difficult circumstance, you tend to feel bluer than blue (cue the Bobby Vinton song: Blue on blue, heartache on heartache) because you have no one to talk to, no one to confide in, no one to ask advice from, no one to commiserate with. And you just feel sorry for yourself enough to have a pity party and cry. (Cue the song: It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to).

When you’re in that shade of blue, it seems the shadows just envelop you. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by them.  I’ve felt that way enough times, not really in the throes of depression but just in the shadows of feeling a tad blue. Like a little dark cloud keeps following me around and parking itself over my head, casting its shadow over me.

But you know what sends the shadows where they belong? Behind you? The sun. Oh boy, more song lyrics just fired up in my brain: here comes the sun…sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…I could go on and on…on the sunny side of my street.

Seriously though, being an optimist means you’re always looking at the bright side and that’s what I strive for. Even when one unfortunate happenstance after another befalls me, I keep looking for the sunshine.

And it’s there. Maybe not physically because we are in the gray, bleak last days of winter. And maybe not circumstantially either because mishaps continue to come our way.  (Ask me about the three-hour ordeal hubby and daughter went through in the dead of night on a snowy, unplowed country road when daughter’s car got stuck while driving home from her late night hospital shift and Papa went to rescue her.)

It’s a  continuous story called, “that’s life.” Cue the Frank Sinatra song lyrics again: That’s life, that’s what people say; you’re riding high in April, shot down in May.

But like that song says: I’ve been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing. Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.

How? Because spiritually, I seek the light. And that light shines brightest and best in my Savior, Jesus. The Son. Because when I am all alone and feeling blue and life knocks my feet out from under me, I do have someone to talk to. Jesus. He always listens.  Always hears. Always promises to be by my side. Always gives me hope.

My faith, my prayers, my reading of God’s Word – those are the rays of light that kick my shadows to the curb.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” ~  Walt Whitman

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When a stranger planted spring in my heart

blogDSCN7493It was one of those days when Spring just burst forth in all five of my senses.

Sight:  The sky turned brilliantly blue, dotted with fluffy pillows of clouds.  Trees, which once stood stark and bare, blossomed profusely.  Outside surroundings revealed overwhelming evidence of color’s rebirth in hues of green, pink, yellow, purple, and red.

Hearing: When you stepped outside, a symphony of song birds’ musical masterpieces greeted your ears.  Folks ventured outdoors chatting happily with neighbors, lawn mowers buzzed, and the sound of children’s laughter while playing reverberated through the air.

Touch:  You could feel the sun’s enveloping warmth kiss your upturned face while a gentle breeze caressed you and tickled your skin.

Smell:  As you inhaled, you caught the fragrant aroma of freshly mowed grass and the distinct flowery scents of blooming daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths.

Taste: The air seemed so clean and so clear after a long winter’s season spent mostly indoors, that when you opened your mouth to gulp in the fresh air, you could literally taste spring.

It was a spring day like so many others before and so many more to come.  But driving through my hometown after work the other day, my sense of spring transported me back into time…to a similar spring day over 40 years ago.

My hometown sits nestled among hills alongside a rolling river, which meanders its way to our nearest city where it joins another river and forms yet another.  For as long as I can remember, a riverfront park, complete with friendly park benches to perch on, lovely trees to offer shade, and a sidewalk upon which to stroll has existed in my little town.

A number of years ago, the park received a major renovation.  Quaint gazebos and small pavilions were added and an amphitheater was erected with seats looking out to the flowing water.  Concerts and other events are held here and it truly is a lovely park.

One of the main streets of our town, aptly named Water Street, runs parallel to the park and serves as a divider between it and store fronts and houses.  Driving along that street on my way out of town, I headed to the old-fashioned bridge which spans the river.  I welcomed the sun’s balmy light as it radiated through the windshield warming my face while cool air rushed in from my open car window.

Trees in the park, boasting their blooms, waved their white and pink robes of color in the light breeze.  And that’s when I caught a whiff of that irresistible and comforting aroma – freshly cut grass. I glanced at the park and spied municipal workers seated on lawn tractors accomplishing that first cutting of the season.

Immediately, the memory of another spring day literally jumped into my thoughts and provided yet another lofty lift in my spirit.

I was just a teenage girl attending junior high school.  Laden down with the drama of such days, fretting over friends and prospective boyfriends (or at least one boy I wished was my boyfriend), a stack of textbooks weighing down my arms (we didn’t have backpacks), and the weariness of a school day finally over, I trudged outside the school building and down the steps at day’s end.  I’m certain my head was down, my shoulders drooped, and my heart sank in some kind of misery.

I heard a familiar voice call my name loudly and looked up.  My two older, married sisters waited in my brother-in-law’s pickup truck parked at the curb behind the line of school buses.  They were downtown on errands and finding themselves nearby as school dismissed, they decided to offer me a ride home.

Ordinarily, getting home without riding the school bus would have made me happy.   But that day, something troubled me.  No doubt, it must have been trifling because for the life of me, I don’t recall what rendered me unhappy or upset.

I’m not sure if I did poorly on a test, I was angry at someone, or I just had a really bad day at school, or it was just the moodiness of puberty, but I felt down in the dumps.  Obviously, some kind of teenage angst had me in its grasp.

My oldest sister slid over from the passenger seat, making room for me to climb in, so I occupied the seat by the open truck window.  The day was beautiful. Warm. Sunny. Flowers gaily nodded their heads each time the wind blew a little breath.   But I didn’t seem to notice, too preoccupied with my gloomy disposition.

We drove down Water Street beside the riverfront park.   Trees lined the park in a profusion of budding blooms and the scent of mowed grass wafted through the air.  But I didn’t really notice.

The traffic signal at the bridge turned red and we paused in a long line of cars waiting for our turn to cross the bridge and leave town behind.  Sitting in that truck on a glorious spring day, I must have appeared glum, forlorn, and melancholy.  Suddenly, a young man stood beside my open window, saying to me, “Here, this is for you!”

Startled, I incredulously looked at this guy holding a twig loaded with flowering tree buds out to me.  He wasn’t someone I knew.  He wasn’t from my school.  He was older than me, but not one of the high school guys either.  He must have been a college student attending the state university’s branch campus in my hometown probably just relishing fresh air and a splendid spring day while strolling through the park.

And he presented a sprig of spring to me, a complete stranger – a scrawny 14-year-old girl who wasn’t happy with her life at that moment.  He must have recognized that winter still lurked in my heart and mind when he offered that blooming branch to me.  I reached out and accepted his gift, managed to mumble a surprised thank you as the light changed, and we drove onward.

I stared at the pink blossoms in my hand, wondered what just happened, and smiled happily all the way home.  My sisters had plenty of questions.  Does that guy like you?  Who was that?  Do you know him?  Why do you think he gave that to you? Are you sure you’ve never seen him before?

I did not have any answers.  But I have never forgotten that day.  The way the sunshine warmed my face.  The way cool air blew my hair into my eyes.  The way the park looked so inviting with flowering trees and sun glistening on the water.  The scent of grass and delicate blooms.  The kind and thoughtful gift granted to me brightening that particular moment in time.   The feel of that small tree branch in my hand.  And the joy that flooded my soul due to the random act of one kindhearted stranger.

I kept that little branch in my room until the blossoms dried up and fell off the twig.  I never saw the college student again and eventually I forgot what he even looked like.  But I have never forgotten the feeling he gave me that day.  And I don’t believe I ever will.

I moved back to my homeland almost 14 years ago, and every spring since then, I remember this caring gesture from long ago when I drive through my little town, along the river, by the park with those blossoming trees.

Yes, today in my book called Opportunity, I pleasantly recall that balmy day so many years ago when a thoughtful young college boy caused a smile to spread across my face and my heart to sing when he bestowed a special gift upon me – the gift of paying attention to spring, a gift of hope and joy and rejuvenation.

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” ~Harriet Ann Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

To make a dream come true

blog0538Many years ago, I read the poem Dreams, written by Langston Hughes.  The words of this poem have stayed with me to this day:

“Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird  that cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go

Life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

I’ve been thinking about dreams during my day of Opportunity today.  I’m sure that all three of my grown-up children are floating along in a kind of dreamlike state,  believing their dreams have finally come true.  They all have found their true loves and a trip down the matrimonial aisle is imminent in the very near future.

Do dreams come true?  Yes, often.  We must work to make some dreams happen,  summon up the courage needed to forge forward to make them reality.   But what about the dreams we experience while we sleep? Those nighttime dreams, do they ever come true?

I dream a lot while I sleep, but I’m not much of a day-dreamer.  That practical, realist side of me usually wins the day, so instead of passing time imagining a dream world, I’m usually busy actually doing something, but often I wish I could learn to day-dream a little more.

Day dreaming seems creative and surely must give one a strong sense of escape and relaxation, which sounds good to me.  My night time dreams can give me that same sense, but there’s always the possibility of nightmares lurking in the subconscious and I’ve had my fair share of those as well.

Occasionally, I have a faint recollection that I dreamed something and can’t quite recall what it was, but for the most part I usually remember my night time dreams.  The moving pictures in my brain can be pretty zany at times making absolutely no sense at all.

Other times, they are vivid and so realistic, I awaken thinking the event actually occurred.  (Ask my husband how many times I’ve awakened angry at him for something foolish he did only in my dream!) Often, I can relate my dreams to something I’d been watching on TV, or reading, or even pondering.  Even the jumbled up, mish mash sequences that constitute my dreams can often be explained this way.

Every once in a while though, I have a dream that just seems to emerge out of nowhere.  Its source is as vague and foggy as the setting for a mystery movie might be.  When that happens, it puzzles me and one night last week, I had such a dream.

My family knows a young family who has a special needs child, a delightful, joyful little one who in her current condition cannot walk.  The family actively pursues therapy that has enabled this child to make some amazing strides from where she once was and I keep current with these milestones through Facebook (see, it is good for something!).  I know it is this family’s dream for their child to reach her fullest potential and they are working so diligently to make that happen.

I haven’t had much time lately to check out her progress on her Facebook page though.  Facebook is such a time-sucker for me.  And free time is a rare commodity right now, so I’ve been purposely staying away from this social networking media.

This blog is linked to my personal Facebook page and each time I publish a new post, it automatically shows up on my wall, so it looks like I’m on FB when really I’m not.  If I remember, I log into my blog’s FB fan page and update my posts manually there, but that’s about the extent of my Facebook interaction these days.

So, I haven’t been reading any updates on this special child’s progress as of late.  But yet, I dreamed about her.   In my oh so realistic dream, my hubby and I visited her family and were enjoying being outdoors with her mother, father, and this sweet little one.

Suddenly, this child with the million dollar smile crawled over to me.  I helped her stand up and she gave me a hug.  Her father spoke, “Oh look, she really likes you!”

And with that, this child, who can only crawl short distances, started walking on a circular sidewalk.  She walked and walked and walked while the rest of us marveled and exclaimed at the miracle we witnessed.  But that’s not all.

Suddenly, she grinned and took off running!  Round and round in circles she ran and she ran and she ran!  Freely.  And happily with strong legs and body, laughing all the way.  And we all clapped our hands and laughed with her!

Such joy.  Such indescribable joy shone on her dear little face as she ran.  And I woke up smiling and amazed at this truly unforgettable dream.  Several times a day since, this particular dream comes to my mind.  As it does, I’m reminded to continue to pray for this child and her family because this is one dream I pray really does come true.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”  ~ Walt Disney

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

And I say it’s all right

blog442All day long yesterday I just could not stop singing and I wasn’t even singing Irish songs!

Instead this Beatles tune firmly entrenched itself in my mind and I either sang or hummed it all day:

“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,

and I say it’s all right.

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,

Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here,

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun

and I say it’s all right.

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces,

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here,

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun

and I say it’s all right.

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting,

Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear,

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,

and I say it’s all right.

It’s all right.”

blogDSCN0658Gloriously sunny skies greeted me upon awakening and good old Mr. Sun hung around the entire day warming up our little 2 ½ acres significantly – bringing me hope that spring really IS on its way!  My mood altered and I just felt good – rejuvenated.

Signs of new life bubbled up to the surface at our country house just in the last couple of days.  Perky yellow and purple crocuses bloomed and more are popping up out of the soil today.  The day lilies are also poking their little heads up after a long winter’s nap.

With the time change last weekend, it is staying lighter each evening as our days get longer.  And I love sunshine!  I love it so much I had to shoot the picture at the top of this post showing you the beautiful sunset from my back deck last evening.

I’m feeling hopeful in Chapter 3, Page 18, of my Opportunity even though the sun’s playing hide and seek with me today resulting in overcast skies again.  But I AM hopeful spring is just around the corner.  And I say it’s all right.

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~ Proverb from Guinea

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com