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

 

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.)

blogIMG_1356.jpg

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

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

 

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

Words for Wednesday: sorry, not sorry

blogIMG_1418

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

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

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

 

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

Digging up the past

abstract black and white blur book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I caught up with my past today.  It was buried deep in cardboard boxes high up on a shelf. Dusty and forgotten for so many years.

I hauled it down, blew off the dust. And all the years and memories unfolded in front of me.

There were cards and letters, trinkets, and junk with meaning only I would remember. But the past became as vivid as today’s raindrops beating on my window pane.

When my youthful diaries revealed so many faded memories, the joy and pain of adolescence gripped my heart once more as I read of long-lost friends and school girl crushes. So much teenage angst.

Hurt, rejection, misunderstandings swirled together with excitement, thrills of shared smiles, first kisses, first love. It was all there written down for safe-keeping in my own handwriting on lined pages in small books entitled “My Diary.”

I read them from start to finish while scenes from the almost forgotten past floated through my memory. Of course now, looking back on those days with grey-haired wisdom, I marvel at how fickle youth truly is.

Love him today, hate him tomorrow. Best friends now, not friends at all as time marches on. As I read the short passages written in between empty spaces, I observed with hindsight and a little sorrow how easily a young girl can be manipulated as well.

Yet, those long ago years seem so romanticized. They seem golden in my mind. They shout fun, exuberance, and excitement of being young in times past. When life was as simple as worrying about what to wear to school tomorrow and whether that cute boy in history class was really looking at me or merely out the window beside my desk.

And I laugh out loud at my girlish thoughts which I put into written words.

It’s true I wouldn’t want to return via time travel back to those days of my youth. There were lessons to be learned, some the hard way. A lot of growing up needed to be accomplished.  Some dreams were foolish; some were worth achieving.

But what’s passed is past.

 “You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”  ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

So today I find myself placing those youthful memories back in their box, back where they belong. But before I do, I realize that I am grateful for those times, those long-ago events that shaped me into the woman I am today.

What that young, naive, and flighty girl has become. Wife of a good, faithful husband, Mama of three wondrous children, Nana to two precious grandchildren, Daughter, Sister, Friend.

For what’s written in the past made future me the present me.

“The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.” ~ Barbara Taylor Bradford, Unexpected Blessings

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Get off the worry track

blogIMG_4531 (2)My family is small in comparison to others.

My mother was an only child, so no aunts or uncles there as well as no first cousins. My father was the youngest in his family and when he passed away at 90 years of age, all of his brothers and his sister were also deceased. So I have no living aunts or uncles. 

In addition to that, every one of my first cousins was older than I was since I was the last cousin born.  And now all but one are also deceased.

So I only have this one cousin left.  Growing up, he was my favorite cousin and I’ve always felt a special kinship with him. Maybe it’s because he was the closest in age to me (even though he’s seven years older) and most of the other cousins were old enough to be my parents. Or maybe it’s just because we were the youngest in the family. Or maybe it’s because we just seem connected.

Cousin and I don’t get to see each other very often even though he and his wife don’t live too far from me. But when we do manage to run into one another here and there, it’s like we can’t stop talking.

His grown children and grandchildren live far away from our hometown just like some of mine do. So Cousin and I spend some time chatting and catching up on how the kids are all doing and what’s new in their lives.

Since he has done a lot of research about our family genealogy and I’m also very interested in that, we discuss that quite a bit as well. He has even visited the place in jolly ol’ England from where our family came and I find that fascinating. Cousin is a wealth of information on the subject and I always enjoy when he shares what he’s learned with me.

But then we get to reminiscing about days gone by as well. Since he is a bit older, he remembers family stories that I don’t know or that happened when I was too young to remember.   

Just last week, my cousin and his gracious wife attended a social function where Papa and I also just so happened to be present.  And after the hugs and handshakes, we got an opportunity to sit down and chat. And chat. And chat.

So much to talk about and not enough time to do so is how it felt. One of the comments my cousin made struck me as particularly poignant and it has stuck with me ever since. 

He has had some serious health issues in the last few years which culminated in major surgery. He seems fine now, but I do believe his health concerns caused him to consider his mortality and changed his outlook on life somewhat.

He told me he’s really questioned himself over the way he lived his life when he was in his younger decades. Don’t we all do so when we arrive in the fall and winter seasons of life?

We start looking back over the years we’ve passed through and wonder if we’ve done enough. If we’ve lived enough.

If we’ve made an impact in someone’s life.

If we chased all the wrong elusive butterflies like prosperity, social status, impressive careers, material possessions, or whatever else we thought was important.

Did our lives make a difference? Did we fulfill a purpose here on this earth? And if we consider all of those things we worried and fretted over as we journeyed through life, did they really matter?

Even those aspects of life we may have neglected can prove a bit worrisome as we reflect back over years past. And worry tends to become a focus for the future as well.

Pondering over my cousin’s remark and considering all of the uncertain aspects of the future I find myself stewing over, I’m reminded of what Jesus tells me in the book of Matthew.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 5:25-34

As He always does, Jesus speaks truth. Why do we waste our time worrying?

I must remind myself it’s futile worrying about the past. What’s done is done. Finished. I can’t change it by worrying or by wishing I would have lived it differently. Only through God’s grace in the gift of a Savior can our slates be wiped clean from past wrong doings.

Likewise, it’s in vain to worry about the present. My God will provide all I need and I must focus on doing His will, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. That means I should live this time of my life with purpose and concentrate on what the Lord leads me to do and in the direction He guides me.

And what about the future? I do tend to fret about what may happen, but I must remember the words of my Savior: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” 

Tomorrow will come. Who knows what it may bring. But I place my trust and faith in a Savior who will see me through whatever happens.

I am certain I’m on the right track because as I contemplated this idea and started composing this post, several quotes about worrying appeared on my social media news feed.

And then as I sat in Sunday morning worship at our church, our pastor, in his message,  used other scriptures about anxiety and worry that had crossed my mind while I was working on this post. 

Coincidence? I think not. God always lets me know when I’m on the right track.

“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” ~ unknown

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com