Treasured thoughts

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treasures no more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His name is Jesus.

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

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Not just any road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Stop the world

blog266Stop the world, I want to get off.

That was a saying bantered around in the 1960’s and it was actually the name of a Broadway musical stage production back then too. (You older folks will remember the same songs I do from it: What Kind of Fool Am I? and Gonna Build a Mountain.)

Stop the world, I want to get off. The 60’s decade was a turbulent one but it is in the past. Yet here we are some 50 years later and our world seems just as unstable.

Stop the world! I want to get off!

That’s the thought and maybe even the prayer that screams through my mind when I hear the latest news.  Another attack on law enforcement officers in our nation over the weekend. Terrorist attacks taking place with alarming regularity across the globe.

I don’t usually post about what’s going on in the world according to the media.  I don’t want to write about divisiveness and all the negativity that is exactly what the world seems all about right now whether it be in politics, social issues, religions, or even economics.

It’s enough to make my head spin and my heart sick just catching the news on TV or in the newspapers and especially on social media like Twitter or Facebook, which I don’t really credit as being a reliable source of information because there is just way too much wacky stuff on there.

So I generally stay away from those topics here on Mama’s Empty Nest. Why? Not because I don’t care about issues affecting our world today.  I do care so much about many of the ills we suffer in this world; they break my heart and cause me such great concern for the lives of my grandchildren and their future.

And it’s not because I don’t have an opinion or viewpoint on those topics. I certainly do.

But I choose not to write about such things because I try to keep a positive outlook and encourage not discourage. Stir up inspiration not dissension. Be a calming and soothing influence not a catalyst to spark the flames of rage.

I choose not to write about social causes or politics or whatever the latest trend cultural hot spot is because doing so seems to bring out the evil twin that lurks in all of us. 

Today it seems that we can’t just agree to disagree. Instead people resort to hateful name-calling, excessive and angry arguing, and vehement violence in a heartbeat.

But I cannot be silent when my own heart is telling me to proclaim something right here on my blog that I believe with my entire being.

I don’t know how or when this madness is going to stop and I fear it won’t.  It will only escalate unless we do something to change the path of this nation and this world.

And I can’t run away or wish for the world to stop rotating in this vile circle of destruction so I can get off.

What’s happening to us humans on this planet is a serious illness. It’s a heart condition. A blight on the human soul.

But it’s not terminal. At least it doesn’t have to be. I know of only one way to heal these heart and soul conditions. There’s only one way to stop the hate and change human hearts.  

Turn our eyes upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

As for me, that’s what I must and will do. I invite you to do the same.

“The mind can’t delete what the heart won’t let go of.” ~ Peggy Toney Horton

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Defying gravity

blogIMG_8196When life knocks you flat on your back, remember it left you looking up.

I look up a lot.  Life has taught me to do that. Often I never know what’s coming down the pike, so I tend to look up to the heavens for help to get through the next big thing.

From where does my help come? “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” ~ Psalm 121:2

I do find myself looking up — a lot.  In the warmth of summer, I turn my face upwards toward the sun.  After a rain, I look up to see if there’s a rainbow spread across the sky.  At night, I find myself gazing at the stars and marveling at how many I can see living out here in the country.

Yes, I look up.  I look up at clouds, whether they be puffy, fluffy white cotton-like or dark, menacing, stormy ones.

I look up to see a jet leaving its contrail plume behind it. 

I look up as I hear helicopter blades chopping the silence and I often utter a silent prayer for someone possibly being life-flighted to one of the trauma hospitals in our nearby city.

I look up when I notice a hot air balloon or a blimp coasting along the airways.

I look up to watch birds take wing to soar or butterflies flit and float by.

I look up as I walk down a woodsy path when I hear the leaves rustle through the trees over my head.

I look up because life on this earth is hard enough without always looking down.

Looking down weighs me down just as surely as gravity holds me on this planet. Looking down secures me to this earth where people are viciously cruel to one another, folks become seriously ill, hearts get trampled and broken, disappointments abound, and life eventually deteriorates and ends, and it all grieves my soul. 

I look up because it makes me happier.  I look up because it makes me realize how tiny and insignificant I am compared to the power of my God, who holds everything I see in the palm of His hand.

I look up because it gives me hope.

I look up because it provides me inspiration.

I look up because it strengthens my faith.

“Believers, look up — take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.” ~ Billy Graham

(Linking up to the weekly photo challenge theme – Look Up – today.)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Enthusiastically inspired

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” ~ Bo Bennett

What inspires you?

Is it nature?  Music?  A photograph?  A person?  Spoken words?  Art work?  History?  Architecture? Literature?

I imagine if I asked 10 different individuals that very question, I would hear 10 unique responses.  I suppose on any given day, entirely different aspects may inspire us depending on our mood for the day or circumstances in which we find ourselves.

I find sources of inspiration everywhere.  Sometimes it’s in the beauty of my surroundings, especially when I take in the swirling colors of a sunset or the majesty of ocean waves or a beautifully unique nature scene painted in living color before my eyes.  So capturing moments of beauty or wonder via photography often inspires me.

Other times, words themselves serve as inspiration.  I’m fond of quotes and I accumulate and catalog them in my trusty, worn notebook like someone who collects treasured stamps or coins.  I read through them to find inspiration for a blog post or just a thought to ponder for the day.  The words of faith I find in my Bible also provide inspiration.

Inspiration is something I find difficult to describe, so I turned to my trusty thesaurus for help. Inspiration can be stimulus, spur, motivation, stimulation, encouragement, or a muse.  It’s defined as creativeness, inventiveness, brilliance, or vision.  Inspiration comes to us in the form of an idea, a brainwave, an insight, a flash, a brainstorm, or a revelation.

I’ve been blogging my thoughts on life for one year and eight months now.  Sometimes inspiration for a blog post does come in a flash.  Other times, I mull a concept over for days.  Right now, my notebook is chock full of subjects to write about and the post-it note on my laptop lists more notions to develop into written word.

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate the most about blogging is the encouragement I derive from readers and blogging friends.  My blog’s humble beginning was just a creative outlet for all the words, thoughts, and emotions that had been bottled up in my brain for many years.  Never did I think my blog would develop a following of people who would actually want to read my writing!  I soon realized that I didn’t just enjoy writing my own blog, I relished reading others.

Another surprising aspect has been that my fellow bloggers spark inspiration.  So it is with heartfelt appreciation I acknowledge that two of my favorite bloggers recently received the Very Inspiring Blogger Award and they, in turn, nominated my blog for that honor.   I can’t think of better encouragement than when other writers proclaim that what you write is inspiring and that you ‘keep the blogisphere a beautiful place.’

So I thank Dor at Technicolor Day Dreams  for blessing me with this award and my good friend, Diana, at These Days of Mine for her gracious gift as well.

The award rules include acknowledging and thanking the giver (linking it back) and putting the award on your page; listing seven things about yourself, and passing the award to seven other bloggers.  Dianna added a new spin by combining the very inspiring blogger award with another idea of answering seven specific prompts.

So being the over-achiever that I sometimes am, I decided to do both.  First off, here is a list of seven things about me:

  1. I am short and always wanted to be taller.  Maybe one reason my tall husband caught my eye?
  2. I’ve always wanted to visit England (home of some of my ancestors).
  3. Sunshine makes me gloriously happy!
  4. As a college girl, I often said I wasn’t getting married or having children.  My, how our thoughts can change drastically.  I wouldn’t trade my husband and three children for the most exciting career in the world.
  5. I need lists to keep me on track.
  6. Completing crossword puzzles sharpens my memory.  I don’t recycle the daily crossword from the newspaper until I’ve finished the puzzle.
  7. I still miss the sound of my dad’s voice and my mother’s hands.

Now I’ll complete the same seven prompts Dianna used:

I’m most creative … when I’m looking at a photograph. Pictures give me ideas for writing my blogs.

If I were a color, I’d be … yellow, it’s happy.

I often imagine myself … thinner!!!  😉

I really wish I knew how to … play piano music from memory; I just can’t seem to be able to do this.

I’d love to spend a lazy Sunday … sitting in warm sunshine at the beach with all my family beside me.

I’m most excited about … my three children’s weddings!

My secret talent is … when someone gives me a word, I can usually sing a song lyric with that specific word in it.

Now it’s time to pass the award along to a few bloggers I find inspiring.

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com