Posted in Life, life changes

Living the life

Phrases my mother often said come back to me regularly. One of those is living the life of Riley.

What does it mean? If you live the life of Riley, you possess an easy, pleasant life, footloose and fancy free.

When I researched that particular idiom, I learned that, most likely, the saying first originated in the early 1900’s but became a common catchphrase during World War I. Possibly, my mother learned it from her parents, who were married in 1900.

By the 1940’s when my parents married, the expression had become quite popular and actually, The Life of Riley was the title of a radio comedy show, then a film, and finally a television show during the years 1953-58.

Even though I was very young during those years, I do recollect that TV program and the main character, Chester Riley, always remarking, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”

So why does my memory bank divulge this bit of trivia? Two things really. First is a photograph I recently captured of a cat named Bentley. He definitely lives the life of Riley as he’s an indoor cat doted on by his people, our daughter and grandchild.

He lounges around their house, has plenty of food to eat and water to drink, toys to entertain him, windows to watch birds and wildlife outside, comfy spots for napping, loving affection and attention, and opportunities for mischief to achieve. A pretty pleasant life, don’t you think?

And when Papa and I visit their home, he greets us at the door, headbutts us for attention, and then promptly sprawls out on the rug like the photo demonstrates. And he stays that way for a good while.

Just livin’ the life. And getting lazy and fat. Our grandchild’s nicknames for him are either “Fat Boy” or “Handsome Man.”

And that brings me to my second reason “living the life of Riley” came to my mind. Not many of us are living the life of Riley nowadays. Carefree days seem to have come and gone.

Recent events coupled with the virus pandemic and being in the throes of winter – we were socked in with ice yesterday – surely do not make us feel footloose and fancy free.

Some of us are watching what’s occurring around the world and especially in our own nation and thinking, “What a revoltin’ development this is!”

Still, we must search for what’s good about life and embrace that, because even if we’re not living life exactly as we’d like, we still have a life to live.

It’s what we do with this life that matters. How shall we live? With purpose and meaning, persevering however we can to maintain the freedoms we have taken for granted so much in the past.

“Every day, it’s important to ask and answer these questions: ‘What’s good in my life?’ and ‘What needs to be done?’~ Nathaniel Branden

©2021 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Life, life changes

Words for Wednesday: Just smile

The list would be so very long.

Because of all the many restrictions that have been placed on us due to ongoing fear and paranoia about that nasty virus that somehow became unleashed on our world and created havoc everywhere months ago, so many aspects of our lives have changed.

And if we were to compose a list of those things we miss because of this craziness, it would be longer than a record of what a child wants for Christmas.

What do we miss? Let me count the ways. We miss gathering together with family and friends for all kinds of social events and observances – birthday parties, weddings, bridal and baby showers, picnics and potluck dinners, graduations, even memorial services, and congregating together for just plain fun.

We miss attending worship services in person with our fellow believers, and in some cases, just singing our praises to our God, not just sitting in front of a computer or phone watching online.

We miss visiting our loved ones in care facilities and they miss us desperately. We miss sitting in a hospital waiting room with family praying for a good outcome from a medical emergency.

We miss face-to-face meetings with our doctors, dentists, physical therapists, optometrists, chiropractors. We miss undergoing medical tests and procedures that are imperative to maintain good health.

We miss festivals and fairs, community events, and participatory fundraisers for good causes. We miss attending the theater, the movies, and concerts. We miss supporting our favorite sports in person, particularly watching our own children’s and grandchildren’s athletic events.

We miss enjoying a nice dinner out in a restaurant full of other people instead of eating take-out food in cartons at home or having “car picnics” in our vehicles after going through fast food drive-through joints.

We miss sending our children off to their first day back at school, knowing their teachers will instruct them well and they can play with their friends at recess instead of worrying over whether they’re understanding new concepts via online learning and hearing them cry because they can’t play with their friends while they’re weary of trying to learn from a computer.

We miss sending our young adults off to college in a normal fashion where they can exchange ideas in person and mingle together to make new friends instead of being sequestered in their dorm rooms doing online learning (why pay room and board for that??).

We miss seeing our co-workers in meetings at our physical offices, working alongside them as we converse and brainstorm in person instead of through video conferencing.

We miss shopping just for fun, not a mad dash in and out for just the basics hoping the store shelves aren’t empty. We miss wandering up and down store aisles willy-nilly instead of following the directional arrows and the social distancing areas marked on the floor.

We miss all too many locally owned shops and restaurants who have been forced to close their doors for good.

We miss being able to breathe freely without the hindrance of a mask smothering our noses and mouths, fogging up our glasses, and causing us to feel like a criminal every time we put one on before going out in public.

We miss living a life where we aren’t permanently attached to our little bottles of hand sanitizer, or wipes, or sprays.

We miss a lot! But you know what I imagine we miss the most? The touch of our fellow human beings. We miss shaking hands. We miss warm hugs of greetings. We miss a caring hand upon our shoulders. We miss a pat on the back.

And for me, I miss seeing people’s smiles.

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”~ Joseph Addison

Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by masked people, for the most part. Those masks hide their expressions from me just as this darn mask, no matter how lively or bright or playful the material is, hides my face from them.

And I hate it. I hate not seeing people smile. I hate the fact that people I pass as we must social distance (!) can’t see me smiling at them. So they don’t respond with the same gesture.

It’s depressing. It’s denigrating. It’s dehumanizing.

It stinks, it makes me angry, yet it makes me even sadder over the state of our humanity right now.

I live in a state where our governor has enforced and keeps imposing draconian measures (just my opinion, you may have yours). Where parents are not permitted to sit in a football stadium to watch their kids play, where restaurants were allowed to open for inside dining, yet could only seat at 25% capacity.

To attempt to stay sane and experience some sense of freedom during the last few months, Papa and I have taken some day-long road trips – away from home just to get away, traveling to outdoor destinations.

We opt for taking picnic lunches along with us, but on one of our journeys on a week day, not a weekend, we found ourselves still a distance away from home at dinner time. 

We located one of our favorite chain restaurants that was open for indoor seating. Donning the dreaded masks, we walked up to the hostess who was stationed outside the restaurant door. She informed us we would have a 45-minute wait.

Not knowing if we could find any other place to eat dinner besides a drive-through fast food place, we gave her our name and cell phone number so she could text us when a table became available for just the two of us. We sat in our car and waited and waited and waited.   Forty-five minutes turned into an hour and then we received the text.

Walking into that usually bustling, busy, and noisy large restaurant which was only filled to 25% capacity at dinner time was odd to say the least. It was so quiet. There were no people seated near us. Entire sections of the restaurant were closed off with only one party in them. Honestly, it felt like the twilight zone – eerie and unusually strange.

Of course, every person inside that restaurant, including all of the wait staff naturally, wore masks until their food arrived. The few folks, even while eating, weren’t talking. Everyone was quiet as if the masks, even after we took them off to eat our meals, had stolen our voices.

Masks certainly had stolen our facial expressions as no one appeared to be smiling. What once was considered a normal, entertaining thing to do – enjoy a meal in a restaurant – was anything but.

But you know what? There was one bright spot in this dismal picture. Our waitress. Even though most of her face was hidden by her mask, she exuded joy. I’m sure she was happy to just be back in employment.

Regardless, her voice and demeanor were sweet and she seemed genuinely pleased to serve us which cheered me up considerably. I took off my mask and smiled at her.

And she smiled back at me. How do I know that? She had her own mask still solidly covering her nose and mouth and chin. She smiled with her eyes! Her eyes – I could see her smile by looking into her eyes.

So if there’s one word of encouragement I can give to everyone during this most trying and difficult time – one word to help us through this, one word to make not just ourselves feel better but everyone around us, masked or not – it’s this, SMILE.

Smile not just with your mouth because another person can’t see that behind your mask. Smile with your entire self. Smile from your heart so it reaches your eyes. And I guarantee someone else will see your smiling eyes and smile back at you.

“Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.” ~ Chinese Proverb

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Life, life changes

Words for Wednesday: blessing

blogIMG_1338And so it continues. Our lives have become uncertain and it seems like our normal highways have become clustered with rocks of burdens and mountains of obstacles. 

Here in my home state, our area is still under lock-down from the covid-19 pandemic.

When it comes to actual covid-19 cases, our county has had a low number of cases. But folks are suffering, not so much from the virus but from the effects caused by this massive shutdown – loss of jobs, financial difficulties, small businesses going under, folks with medical issues other than the virus who can’t be treated by their doctors, chiropractors, and dentists. 

We had hoped for a little light at the end of the tunnel, but that didn’t happen. And we don’t know where this road is taking us eventually. 

Discouragement, disappointment, despair have descended on so many during this isolating time of sheltering in place.  And along with those negative emotions, anger has also sunk its nasty teeth into us.

So on this Words for Wednesday, I want to offer some hope and encouragement. But they will not come from my own words, but from the Word of God.

A blessing to you straight from God and recorded in the Old Testament for us all to read:  “The Lord bless you and keep you;  The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”  ~ Numbers 6:24-26 (New King James Version)

This blessing is for you, your family, your children and their children. This blessing is given to all those who read and hear those words.

These beautiful words of blessing were put to music written by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Steven Furtick, and Chris Brown in March and the song was simply entitled, “The Blessing.”

In time for Easter, it was recorded by musicians and singers from various churches in our nearby city as a blessing over the city during this pandemic crisis.  A YouTube video of that virtual choir blessed me tremendously when I viewed it.

My prayer is for these words to be sung over you no matter where you live, no matter where you may be currently sheltering in place, no matter what circumstances have befallen you. 

Click here to listen to a blessing from God.

Regardless of our current trials and hardships, please know that God sees us, He hears our cries for help, and most of all, He cares for each one of us. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  ~ Romans 8:38-39 

Perhaps this time of hardship will draw you close to Him, to seek Him, to come to know Him and His saving grace.

Be blessed, dear readers. Be safe. Be well. Be encouraged and let hope and peace fill your hearts.

 “What seems to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~ Oscar Wilde

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Life, life changes

Throwback Thursday: Just smile

photo of woman holding a green paper

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve decided to share throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog every now and then. Sort of a walk down memory lane.

I wrote the following post just a couple of years ago in 2018. But in the midst of our current sheltering in place for such a long time, (and our state governor just proclaimed we must do so until May 8), I find I need to remember the aspects of life that make me smile. Maybe you do too.

I’m hoping this Throwback Thursday post of mine gives you a moment to contemplate the good things in life, those things that make us smile with pleasure, and then I hope you find good reasons to just smile. (I know, I know, perhaps your smile may be covered by a mask, but smiling will make you feel better about our circumstances.) 

What makes you smile?

What is it that makes you demonstrate a certain facial expression that tells the world you’re either pleased, have affection for something, or are just plain amused by the object of your attention? What causes the corners of your mouth to turn up in a recognizable curve?

Back in the day, crooner Dean Martin sang these lyrics: “When you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you.”

Is that true? Is a smile contagious? Does a smile on my face cause a smile to emerge on yours?

I once read a Chinese proverb that proclaimed, “Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.”

That surely makes it sound like something as simple as a smile can make a huge difference in this world.

If you guessed that this past week’s Word Press photo challenge theme is smile, you can go ahead and let your face light up with a grin because you are absolutely correct.

I find it’s hard not to reciprocate when someone greets you with a big ol’ smile on his/her face. That tells me that there is something about this facial expression that is hard to keep to yourself.

Several years ago in this blog, I wrote about a little boy who gave me a smile, a rare thing for him according to his peers. If you care to read that post, which may cause your mouth to curve upward in that familiar expression, you can click here.

Mother Teresa once said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

So what are the things that make me smile? That make my face break into a happy dance?  That demonstrate the things I love?

Sunsets and sunrises. My two adorable little grandchildren. (I have three now!) When my family is all together in one place at one time.

A vibrant fall foliage-dressed tree. Blue skies and sunshine.  Blooming flowers bursting into colors of the rainbow.

And yes, while we’re at it, rainbows after a storm.  Birds enjoying a feast at our bird feeder. Baby animals.

Spending time with good friends. Hearing an old special song on the radio. Worshiping my Lord in and out of church.

I could plaster this post with pictures of all of those smile-giving items I just mentioned, so it proved to be a challenge just to choose one photo.

But I finally decided on this one. My oldest sister and brother-in-law. Two people I love dearly and don’t get to see enough because they live far away from me. (But I did get to spend a week with them in March 2020 before covid-19 resulted in quarantines.)

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I snapped this photo of them sharing a smile one summer a couple of years ago when they were visiting us. I can’t remember at all what made them turn to each other with big grins on their faces.  Life hasn’t always been easy for them in their well over 50 years of marriage, and they’ve had to endure some health issues, but they still can smile.

And that makes me smile.

“Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo  ©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Easter, life changes

Words for Wednesday: Just Different

blogEasterpixEaster has come and gone. And for certain, this Easter holiday was entirely different than any other experienced in my lifetime.

Very different. But just different. Not dreadful. Not terrible. Not unpleasant. Just different from usual, that’s all.

I noticed a lot of folks (even those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ) bemoaning the fact that they just couldn’t celebrate Easter the way they normally do.

In a church building. Couldn’t practice communion on Maundy Thursday at their place of worship. Couldn’t participate in an annual Cross Walk or join in a Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.   

Couldn’t attend Easter Sunrise Service at their favorite place to do so. Couldn’t be in church for an Easter Sunday message in their new Easter clothes.

Couldn’t take their children to Easter egg hunts or –heaven forbid – couldn’t go to the mall to visit the Easter Bunny. Couldn’t gather with all their family and friends for a huge Easter dinner.

And they were right. They couldn’t. Due to Covid-19 lockdowns, physical distancing, sheltering in place, self-isolating, quarantines, whatever you want to call it, this Easter WAS different.

But so many aspects of celebrating Easter became more real to me during this time than ever before. I found myself thankful. No, not just thankful….flat out, fall down on your knees grateful for so many reasons.

It’s true that we couldn’t practice communion on Maundy Thursday in our church. But our pastor held an online live service that we all could participate in.  Papa, Little One, and I gathered our “bread” (some crackers) and “wine” (apple juice) and we joined in communion with our fellow believers from our own home.

Secluded. Isolated. Much like I imagine Jesus and His disciplines were in that upper room so long ago as they celebrated the Passover feast. And this symbolic breaking of bread, representing Christ’s body, and drinking wine, representing His blood poured out on the cross, was so very meaningful to me this time.

It’s true there weren’t any public events to attend – no stations of the cross, no cross walk – but the three of us cuddled up together and watched Sight and Sound Theatre (Lancaster, PA) broadcast their production of “Jesus” online and on cable television for all those who wanted to view it.

The presentation was two hours long, yet our Little One was glued to the screen seeing the “Jesus story” come to life. We answered her questions and explained some of the scenes to her. And we all experienced a new appreciation for that timeless accounting of our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection.

It’s true we couldn’t attend Easter Sunrise Service or Easter Sunday Worship in our church building with fellow church members and guests. But again, we assembled around the computer live time, greeting one another with typed messages, and listened to our pastor give us the Word of God in his message that morning for both services.

And how thankful we are for technology that enabled us to do so. The church where we congregate is just a building. The church is us – followers and believers in Christ – and we were together worshiping our Lord, just in a different way.

It’s true that children couldn’t attend Easter egg hunts. But we held our own for Little One right here in our 2.5 acre yard. And she giggled and ran and had so much fun tracking down those brightly colored plastic eggs and then hiding them for Nana and Papa to find.

It’s true that Little One couldn’t visit the Easter Bunny. But he still managed to leave a basket of goodies here at Nana and Papa’s house for her. And even though that made her happy and excited, the knowledge that she’s learned about a Savior named Jesus Christ who died on the cross because “He loves us” (her words) and came back to life again so “when we die, we can go to heaven to be with Him” (again her words) is the most important thing she understood from this different Easter.

It’s true our family couldn’t gather together at our home for a huge Easter feast and we did miss them. But we stay in touch in other ways now. And that is a blessing for which I am thankful.

It’s true Easter dinner was different. Just three of us around the kitchen table eating a simple meal of scalloped potatoes with ham pieces, Bush’s baked beans, and some canned pineapple slices. For dessert, we ate strawberry Jello made by Little One and Nana.

And we were thankful for the food that comprised our simple meal (and I enjoyed not slaving away in the kitchen!) and for grocery store deliveries right to our front porch.

This simple Easter was one of the most memorable ones I’ve ever experienced and I hope in years to come, I don’t remember the difficult circumstances of this sacred holiday. 

I want to remember the quiet, meaningful time that Easter became this year.

I want to remember how real Easter was for me.

I want to remember how focusing on Christ gave me such hope in the midst of a trying time in our world.  

“The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.” ~ Basil Hume

It’s true Easter was different this year. Just different. But I chose to focus on what was the same – celebrating our risen Savior and Lord no matter the circumstances. The simple experience made all the difference to my grateful heart.

“To a Christian, Easter Sunday means everything, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” ~ Bernhard Langer, professional golfer, devout Christian

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Faith, life changes

Empty church, empty tomb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Life, life changes

Words for Wednesday: sorry, not sorry

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Social distancing in more ways than one

Believe it or not, I haven’t had much spare time to write posts for this blog.

Yes, we are sheltering in place at home, social and physical distancing, flattening the curve, etc., doing our part to help contain the virus that has most of the world in its grip.

And you would think by being at home and having nothing on the calendar except cancelled appointments, I would have ample opportunities to sit down at my desktop computer and compose. String words together to make sentences galore. Fill up the screen with my thoughts in written word.

Huh. Not happening. Why?

Because a five-year-old now lives with us for the duration of this crisis. And five-year-olds don’t allow for much peace, quiet, and alone time. Five year-olds go non-stop from the time they awaken in the morning (“Papa, Nana, it’s morning time, get up!”) to when they finally fall asleep at night (while you read countless stories over and over again).

On warmer, nicer days (and we haven’t had many so far this spring), we play outside and go for walks. But our indoor activities are chock full of made-up games of pretend, daily challenges (and she makes up the challenges!), doing workbook pages of letters, numbers, dot-to-dot, and kindergarten lessons (even though she won’t attend kindergarten until fall), coloring, painting, play-dough creating, Lego building, and games, games, games.

Our granddaughter LOVES games. And since we have played games she has here (Trouble, Sorry, Guess Who, Daniel Tiger Bingo, and Frozen Match Game) so many times, we resorted to our cache of games from our kids’ childhoods that were stored away in the basement. So Little One now has learned how to play Uno, Jenga, a card game called Waterworks, and even Battleship. And she’s caught on quickly.

She’s truly proved it might be genetic because we are a family that plays games every time we are all together. And you know what? Even though I’m tired (and so is Papa) from our 24/7 child care duty during this time, I am grateful.

I’m thankful that we are enjoying time with our granddaughter when so many grandparents can’t visit with theirs in person. I’m grateful that we can see and converse with all of our family, including our other two younger grandchildren, on a group FaceTime like we did just the other evening.

We had the best time talking, laughing, and just generally being silly with our entire immediate family all on our cell phones. And it warmed this Nana and Papa’s hearts to hear our three-year-old grandchild yell into the cell phone, “I want to see Nana and Papa!!”

Is it easy staying home? Not too difficult for us retired folks, but it does have challenges. Is it hard to be physically separated from our loved ones and friends? Yes, it is.  But we have phones and other ways to communicate. And I’m grateful for that.

Last month, I had planned to once again lead a ladies Bible study in my home. Well, obviously, that didn’t happen. So this week, I’m especially thankful for our computer guru son-in-law who gave instructions for this non-technical person on how to video conference online with my group and get our sessions started in the next few days.

I do feel sorry that we all have to endure this difficult time. I’m sorry that hardships have come our way. But I’m also not sorry because as we stay home, we must find reasons to feel gratitude. To express thankfulness. And we will.

I will leave you with words recently written by American retired teacher and chaplain Kitty O’Meara, that’s been making the rounds on the web. You may have already seen it, but I urge you to read it once more because you can find reasons that make this all worthwhile.

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Faith, Life, life changes

On this thankful Tuesday

photo of man leaning on wooden table
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

We struggle with selfishness and hoarding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes all of our hearts glad and thankful.

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

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

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in life changes, retirement

Throwback Thursday: retirement ramblings

man and woman sitting on brown wooden bench
Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

Today’s post is a Thursday throwback to the year 2010. Back in the summer of that year, I began this blog, Mama’s Empty Nest, never expecting that I would continue it for 10 more years. But once a writer, always a writer and I’ve been writing since the time I was able to hold a pencil and put words together to make a sentence.

Much has changed since 2010 and I’ve decided to share throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog every now and then. Sort of a walk down memory lane.

One of life’s aspects that has changed since I first wrote the post you will read below is that Papa and I actually are retired now. Well, I am. I categorize my husband as semi-retired since he works part-time at a low-key, less stressful job just for something to do and a little extra income to bolster our travel fund.

Papa and I just got back from a trip out west. That’s the fun part about retirement. You can pick up and travel whenever you want. But back in 2010, here’s what I had to say about retiring:

Dreaming of retirement?  Apparently you can make all those dreams come true if you read articles about retirement.

But most of them address only the financial aspect of this stage of life, it seems to me.

My mind’s been roaming and roving around on a tangent about this milestone in life because I have a friend who recently retired.  What sounds like bliss to the rest of us, who still must endure the daily grind, isn’t exactly idyllic to her, and she is struggling with the day-to-day aspect of retirement.  I know she will eventually discover her way on this path because she is one smart cookie.  But for now, retirement is a considerable adjustment for her.

I remember when my father retired.  My mother, who was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker extraordinaire, confessed to me that Dad was driving her nuts!  He was accustomed to a job that kept him “on the go” all day; Mom was used to her daily routine at home which did not involve jumping in the car at the drop of a hat to “go somewhere.”  It took some time, but soon they adjusted to this new phase of their lives.

I’m the “baby” of my family, the youngest of three sisters.  My oldest sister and brother-in-law just retired.  They closed the doors of their business with finality and for now are traveling around the country in their RV and enjoying time with their children and grandchildren.  They are deliberating about spending winters in Arizona and perhaps heading back here to the homeland for summer time.

My other sister and brother-in-law are also living the “easy life.”  After years of hard work, they are taking pleasure in this time of relaxation and respite.  They keep busy with hobbies, interests, and friends and seem content doing so.  They have a first grandchild due to make an entry into the family near the end of this year, so they will be morphing into grandparent-hood shortly.

My hubby and I are not approaching retirement age quite yet.  Matter of fact, the economic prognosis in our country right now makes retirement for us seem like an almost unobtainable goal, remotely existing in the distant future.   I just researched a government website for information on when you can retire and take full social security retirement benefits. 

For most of us baby boomers, the magic age is 66.  For my hubby, who is only one year younger than me, it is 66 plus two months.  Of course, you can retire earlier if you want, you just don’t receive full benefits.  Hubby and I pessimistically think by the time we are ready to retire, social security will be insolvent, and we’ll probably get nothing.  Sounds dismal, doesn’t it?

I suppose that’s why a good portion of retirement advice dwells on finances.  But it also occurs to me that many of these article writers assume everyone wants to live “lifestyles of the rich and famous.”  

Do they all suppose we want to sell our current homes and retire to some exotic island where we can purchase a villa — smaller of course than what they think we own now, but way more expensive?  They must believe we desire to travel “around the world in 80 days” and then do it again every year after that.

Of course, I believe if you have the money, the inclinations, and good health in your retirement years, why not live it up?  You deserve to enjoy that period of your life.

But if you are anything like me, you might just want to live a simple life instead.  Sure, throw in a couple of fun trips to wherever you’ve always dreamed of visiting.  But for the most part, enjoy the freedom to indulge in your hobbies and interests. 

Enjoy spending time with your family.  Enjoy friends.  Give back by volunteering at some place that really needs your help and expertise.  Learn something new.  Share your godly wisdom you learned on this journey in life with those who can benefit from it.   Teach your grandchildren things they won’t otherwise learn.

There’s a wacky study, performed by some psychologists from one of those places in academia, which says retirees do not find their happiness spending time with their children and grandchildren.  I say, “Bunk!”

Naturally, I don’t adhere to the belief that your progeny should provide your only source of happiness, but I do think we gain much, much joy from our family ties.  So I don’t think retirement should be time for complete self-absorption.

To me, retirement is your time to spread your wings and fly if you can.   But also ground yourself from time to time with those you love the most on this earth.   This Mama is hopeful that once retirement comes for us, the empty nest will still be open, waiting to be filled up from time to time with young birds’ visits and maybe someday, grandbaby birdies too.

So here’s what’s different today 10 years later in 2020:

  • My oldest sister and brother-in-law did decide to take up residence in Arizona where Papa and I just recently visited.
  • In our own retirement, Papa and I thoroughly enjoy traveling and taking more time to do so. 
  • Mama’s empty nest certainly is still open and happy to be filled up from time to time with our grown children AND grandchildren. Three of them!!
  • And I definitely can de-bunk that study that said retirees don’t find happiness spending time with their families. I beg to differ. Some of my happiest days are spent with those loved ones.

And here’s what hasn’t changed – I still believe what I wrote about retirement in 2010:

  • Enjoy the freedom to indulge in your hobbies and interests.
  • Enjoy spending time with your family and friends. 
  • Give back by volunteering at some place that really needs your help and expertise. 
  • Learn and experience something new. 
  • Share your godly wisdom you learned on this journey in life with those who can benefit from it.  
  • Teach your grandchildren things they won’t otherwise learn.

“Retire from work, but not from life.” ~ M.K. Soni

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Blogging, Life, life changes

Words for Wednesday: changes

blogIMG_4399Changes loom on the horizon.  

Even though the scene outside my window is not a typical autumn view with brilliantly colored leaves on our trees because the leaves turned brown, dried up, and dropped like flies this year, change is smack dab in the middle of my viewfinder. 

A change from the usual fall we experience and I’ve been a whiner about that. My attitude needs to change.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Wayne Dyer

As the weather shifts into more winter-like temperatures, we must adjust to more changes. Put away the warm weather clothes and haul out the cold weather attire.

There are other changes in life at Mama’s Empty Nest, but I will save that for a later blog.

For now, I’m concentrating on yet another alteration. For the last several years, I’ve only posted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Tomorrow is the first day of November – Thanksgiving month.  A new month. A new chance for change.

I’m hoping to publish a new post every day in the upcoming month. I don’t know if I’ll succeed, but I’m willing to try.

A change that will require a lot of my time in a season when I truly have a lot of other important tasks to accomplish.

But I feel the need to express something I don’t do nearly enough.

And it all starts tomorrow as a new month of this dwindling year is ushered in.

Meet me here. Tomorrow. On Mama’s Empty Nest.

And I’ll explain what I have in mind.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com