Three years later

Three years ago this month, I had no idea.

I had no idea what the future held and what was in store for me.

I had no idea that I could love another with such fierceness and intensity.

I had no idea that becoming a grandmother would fill my heart with such amazing joy.

Three years ago this month, Papa’s and my first grandchild was born on a bitterly cold, dark, middle-of the night, wee hours of the morning day.

She was tiny, but the love that swelled inside my heart for this itty-bitty darling the first time I held her in my arms was mammoth.

After waiting hours upon hours in the hospital for her arrival, we got our first glimpse of her and held her. And even though we had been up all day and night waiting for her entry into this world, I found myself so excited and thrilled that I couldn’t sleep afterwards.

For months prior to her birth, I wondered how I would take to grandparenthood. I confess that I wasn’t always the best mother, sometimes so impatient with my own children. And I feared I’d be the same with a grandchild.

On top of that, I’ve never really been a ‘baby person.’ What I mean by that is that if given a choice between sitting in a church nursery with babies and teaching a wild group of teens, I’d take the teens any day.

Babies just weren’t ‘my thing.’ Don’t get me wrong, I loved my own three babies and being their mother, but parenting infants and toddlers was a challenge for me.

But that all changed the day my first grandchild gripped her tiny hand around my finger. That all changed when I gazed into her eyes. And when I photographed her teeny feet.

That all changed as I cradled her in my arms. And rocked her to sleep. And felt her warm fuzzy head against my shoulder.

That all changed as I welcomed her into my heart and it swelled to gargantuan proportions with perfect love.

“Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.” ~ Welsh Proverb

And now that newborn baby is a child. A child turning three years old. A child with a mind of her own. A child who cracks me up with the things she says. And does.

A child who melts my heart every time she crawls into my lap, wraps her arms around my neck, and tells me, “I love you, Nana!”

So this month, I will not only celebrate the third birthday of my first grandchild, but will celebrate the day I became a Nana. What a wonderful day it was and is.

“If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I’d have had them first.” ~ Lois Wyse



Maybe we need Pollyanna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stitch by stitch variations


blogIMG_0736Wouldn’t life be boring if it was always the same old same old? We need variety – isn’t it the spice of life?

We yearn for variation from the norm. At least I know I do. This past week’s photo challenge has been variations on a theme.

Several thoughts rolled around in my mind as I considered this challenge and I started scrolling through my photo cache to see if I could locate any photos that fit the bill.

My first thought about variations on a theme was musical. Stored back there somewhere in the archives of my quirky brain are a number of classical music pieces entitled thusly.  Composers would take a basic melody and then write variations composing a unique piece of music built around that one musical theme.

Click on this for an example that I particularly liked : Variations on a theme by Tchaikovsky   

My next thought about variations on a theme centered around the age-old art of quilting. My mother was an adept quilter and it was a passion of hers to sit for hours creating beautiful, colorful hand-pieced (rarely by sewing machine) quilt tops which she then put into her large wooden quilting frames and hand-quilted – never quilted by sewing machine.

No doubt my mother learned to quilt from my grandmother who also excelled in this art. Back then, quilting bees were held in which ladies from church or just a group of friends would gather at one home or another and spend an afternoon stitching designs on one quilt. I can actually remember as a young child attending some with my mother.

Stitches produced at these gatherings were variations on a theme because each woman used her needle, thread, and thimble a little differently. Perhaps those who didn’t quilt often used long, uneven stitches but the expert quilters like my mother made small, tight, uniform in length stitches to produce a beautiful end product.

“There are only a handful of basic stitches which are the Adams and Eves of all the others…stem, satin, chain, cross, back, weaving, and filling–upon which untold variations have been built.”
–Erica Wilson

For this photo challenge, I could have opened my mother’s old cedar chest now gracing my own home and carefully lifted out not only a quilt made by my mom, but two very aged quilts made by my maternal grandmother and my husband’s paternal grandmother.

But I decided to save those for another blog post sometime. Instead I’m using other photos I’ve taken that I think personify the theme well.

The top photo is a picture I captured during a visit to the United States Air Force Museum a few years ago. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this branch of service, a huge commemorative quilt was made and hangs in the museum. Each quilt block represents a meaningful aspect of the Air Force but was fashioned by a different person with unique ideas. Hence, variations on a theme.

I snapped the other photo at a Mother-Daughter dinner once held at my church. Attendees were invited to bring some of their favorite quilts to display. And I think it all of those colorful, unique works of art aptly demonstrate variations on a theme as well.

I know I tend to stick to my ‘themes’ in life and share my themes often here in  Mama’s Empty Nest, but I do attempt to spice it up with a little variety from time to time. 

Variations on a theme make life more interesting.

“To me I think artists in general make a statement and for the rest of their lives every album, every book are variations on a theme.” ~ Mark Mothersbaugh


You can run but you can’t hide


How often have we done it ourselves? Done something that we truly would not want anyone else to know about? We’re all guilty.

Recently, I was reminded of that by a little occurrence here in Mama’s Empty Nest. This Nana watches my not-quite-three-year-old granddaughter when her mama is working. I was busy doing laundry while she was playing, but suddenly I realized she had become very quiet.

Silence and a toddler. That usually means trouble.

I called out to her and asked what she was doing. She gave me her new standard answer. “No thing.”

No thing to her means nothing. Uh-huh. As I unobtrusively stepped out of the laundry room and walked soundlessly to where I thought she was playing, I caught her ripping pages out of a book, one after another.

I startled her when I called her name and again inquired, “What are you doing?”

She grabbed the book, torn pages and all, and scrambling to put them behind her back, ran away from me and tried to hide.

“Don’t see me, Nana!” she cried.

But it was too late. I’d already seen her and even though she was trying to hide not only the damage she had done but herself as well, I’d already observed her wrong-doing. And she knew it.

Typical child you might say. Trying to hide a naughty act. But don’t we adults do the same thing?

We hide what we’ve done wrong. We try to cover up our mistakes, our misconduct, our transgressions, our bad behavior, whatever you want to call it. 

Or perhaps we try to put the blame on someone else. Not just because we don’t want to get caught, but also because we don’t want others to think we’re capable of the offense.

I know of someone who did exactly that – not only hid the offense, but lied and covered up a reprehensible thing the person had done and continued to do.  No doubt, you also could name someone you know who committed a wrong and tried to hide it.

When I heard about the disgraceful act this person had committed, one thought came immediately to my mind.

What you do in secret will always be brought to light.

And it was. The person’s dirty little secret was exposed in a dramatic way. It happens every day – just listen to the news. Many a career has ended because of a person’s indiscretions.

Shameful actions are usually performed in secret. In the dark, so to speak. And the more time you spend hiding things in the dark, the more you start to believe there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing.

But hiding away those actions isn’t going to work. You can run, but you can’t hide forever. Sooner or later, you’re going to get found out. And you will face the consequences.  

I recently read this quote by American actor Steve Kazee:  “When you start hiding things away, that’s when the darkness creeps up. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

I agree with his philosophy, but I’d amend the last part. It’s true sunlight is probably a good disinfectant, but I believe Son-Light is the best way to banish darkness.  

The words Jesus, the Son of God, the Light of the world, spoke in the New Testament in Luke 8:16-17 comes to my mind.

 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.  For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Granted, Jesus was speaking about the light of truth in God’s Word, that salvation comes from belief in Christ. Those of us who are believers should be sharing that light openly by both our actions and words so that others can see that light and also be saved.

But He also warned us in the rest of the passage that the light of truth is what exposes sin. 

Far too easily we fall into the darkness of this world – into greediness, self-centeredness, bitterness, anger, hatred, lies and deceits, and a multitude of other wrongdoings that ensnare any one of us humans. Why do people fall into this darkness?

“Men loved the darkness rather than the light for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed.” ~ Jesus Christ in John 3:19-20

God’s truth exposes the sinful hearts we all have. Even the littlest of us. And unfortunately, we tend to hide from God’s light rather than allow ourselves and our tainted hearts to be exposed.

But we can’t hide away indefinitely. What we do in private, what we hide behind our backs and try to conceal from others’ eyes eventually comes out in a very public way. I envision it like the snake that comes back to bite us. We must face the consequences of our actions, ask forgiveness, and make amends for our wrongdoings.

Sometimes we who profess with our words to be believers in Christ are no better than the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. We pretend to be righteous. We act like we’re pious and sinless when in fact, we can allow our hearts to harbor wickedness just as much as the next guy. We act “Christian” in public, but we hide our true selves in secret.

“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. They just pretend to be godly. Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftop,” Jesus told us in Matthew 12:1-3.

I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer not to have my transgressions shouted from the rooftop.

It’s a new year. It’s a good time to examine my heart, bring any hidden secrets into light, turn away from those wrong-doings, seek forgiveness, and begin anew. Maybe you feel the need to do the same. 

The only way I know to do so is to put my faith and trust in the Son-Light. His name is Jesus.

“Hateful to me as are the gates of hell, is he who, hiding one thing in his heart, utters another.” ~ Homer


Cup of kindness

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

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

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

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

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

Good cheer and random acts of kindness. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score one for me.

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

Score two.

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

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

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

Score three.

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

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

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

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


Once a year

blogIMG_0131(Note from Mama’s Empty Nest: During this busy Christmas season, I’m reposting blogs from several years ago. If you missed why, please click on this link for my reasons. The following post is from December 2012.) 

It’s so easy, isn’t it?  That’s what you’ve been asking yourself this past Christmas season.

Pull into a crowded parking lot at the nearest mall, cruise the lot for an empty spot, jump out of the car with your long list of must-haves to join the throng of Christmas shoppers.

On the way inside the store, you hear the familiar ringing of a bell and you spy the volunteer bell-ringer with the Salvation Army kettle.  You’re in a hurry, but you reach in your pocket or wallet or purse and dig out whatever you can find – some change or a couple of bucks. Throw it in the kettle, accept the “thank you, Merry Christmas” and scurry on your way.

You walk inside your house of worship. There’s an “angel tree” in the foyer. Gift tags with the only identifying items such as “3-yr-old girl wants a baby doll, wears size 4T clothing.” You choose a tag, purchase a few items, and send those off to be distributed to the child in need.

Your civic group participates in Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse. You dutifully find shoe boxes, shop for small toys and school supplies, soap and toothpaste, cram the boxes full, and write a check so the boxes might be shipped to the other side of the world into a child’s eager hands in time for Christmas.

Your favorite hair salon/doctor/grocery store sponsors a food drive to replenish a  food pantry and another local business holds a winter coat drive. You pack up some canned goods, drop them off. You rummage in the front hall closet and dig out those still good but unwanted winter coats and donate them.

You might even take your kids for the day to volunteer distributing bags of groceries with Christmas dinner items packed inside to families in need of food.

And you call this charity. You call this good will. You call this helping those in need. You call it whatever you want to call it because it makes you feel like you’ve done something to help. Something to serve. Something.

And this something proves easy when you do this once a year.

It’s Christmas. We think about those who go without during this holiday season and it’s easy to open our hearts and our wallets or check books.  Because isn’t that what we should do? Isn’t that what makes us feel like we’re spreading Christmas cheer? Or isn’t that what makes us feel good?

Yes. Yes. And yes. But… ask yourself…why do you only perform these good deeds at Christmas time? Where is your generosity the rest of the year?

And what would happen if you actually gave all through the year? In March. Or August.  Or every month of the year.

What if you provided a summer picnic to a needy family? What if you purchased a fan to cool off a summer’s day for someone who can’t  afford one?

What if you donated food staples to the food pantry all year long because really, are people only going hungry at Christmas time?

What if you helped a child, one who needs food, clothing, school supplies, and a little toy to bring a smile to his or her face, for 12 months or 12 years?

What if you gave your time to spend it with someone who is lonely?  Someone who is hurting, someone who is grieving?

What if you prayed every day for God to help those who desperately need Him in their lives and to use you in any way He sees fit to teach them about His saving grace?

What if you focused on the feelings of those in need instead of focusing on your own good feeling when you give?

What if you opened your heart every day of the year and not just once a year in December?

Wouldn’t that be something?

Once a Year by Josh Wilson


Hauling out the holly


Image ©

(Note from Mama’s Empty Nest: During this busy Christmas season, I’m reposting blogs from several years ago. If you missed why, please click on this link for my reasons. The following post is from December 2011.) 

What a difference a year makes.  That statement may sound cliché, but it’s true.

Here’s how I know this.

Last year (2010) around this time, my attitude was notably different than my attitude is today.  Don’t believe me? Read this.

Last year, I was:  (Pick one)

  1. Grumpy
  2. Grinch-like
  3. Melancholy
  4. Suffering from empty nest syndrome
  5. All of the above

If you chose “E,” you get the gold star! 

Last year at this time, I struggled to drum up some Christmas spirit.  The crates full of holiday decorations lay idle strewn through the house, but I didn’t possess the motivation or desire to bedeck the surroundings.  My mind, kidnapped and trapped by melancholy, continually persuaded me to ignore the approaching season of joy just as surely as my heart, harbored in sadness, agreed.

Empty nest syndrome and grief over my father’s passing reigned.  My husband erected the artificial Christmas tree and strung it with twinkling lights, but it sat forlorn in the living room with no ornaments sprucing up its bare branches.   Garland did not festoon anything nor were candles blazing in the windows.   If it weren’t for hubby accomplishing the outside light decorating, our house would have sat as dark and dreary as I felt.

I was able-bodied, but always seemed tired, cold, sleepy, or lethargic.  With no kids in the house anymore or elderly father to check up on, I sure had the time, but I just couldn’t muster up the inclination.  This lackadaisical attitude towards the Christmas season was as foreign to me as meeting up with an alien from outer space on my front lawn….it just doesn’t happen.

I’m one of those people who loves Christmas.  I usually have all of my greeting cards addressed, stamped and the annual missive to friends and family printed and tucked inside the envelopes ready to mail by December 1. 

Shopping is accomplished early and by early, I mean way before Thanksgiving.  Christmas tree and all of the other festive decorations  garnish and embellish our house the weekend after Thanksgiving.  But last year, I literally and finally forced myself to do….something… and half-heartedly prepared for the most beloved time of the year.

Thankfully, this year is different.  I’m not so able-bodied (still suffering with some back and hip problems); I don’t have quite as much time; but I’m raring to go.   Our house is ablaze with Christmas lights and finery outside; hubby and I finished that Thanksgiving weekend.

The tree sparkles in the living room with all its treasured ornaments resting on its branches.  Christmas cards are addressed and will fill the mailbox soon (should be working on that Christmas letter instead of this blog post!).   With any luck, we should complete our shopping this weekend.

So what has changed from last year?  My attitude.

I can’t change the fact that my kids have grown up, moved out, and have their own lives. I can’t change the fact that there are beloved faces missing from my family gathered around the Christmas tree.   But I can change one thing….me.   I can be a Scrooge, a Grinch, a Grumpy Gus, but I don’t have to be.

All it takes is a little Christmas and the knowledge that God loved us so much, He sent His only Son as the most perfect gift on that first Christmas so long ago.

Okay, I’m off to haul out some more holly and this year, the Christmas village will once again adorn the kitchen.  So in case you’re a little low on Christmas spirit, I’m sharing my all-time favorite Christmas decorating song with you because we need a little Christmas right this very minute.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou



Cause for alarm causes thanks giving

blogIMG_1711(2)The holiday of Thanksgiving is behind us now, but the thanks giving continues as it should. Each day we are given blessings for which to be thankful for, even though we often take those gifts for granted.

If you awaken each morning from a night’s slumber, that’s a gift of life and a blessing to be thankful for.

If your basic needs are supplied each day, that’s a blessing of provision; again something for which to give thanks.

The majority of us here in the USA are blessed beyond measure, yet we whine, complain, and over extend ourselves monetarily by purchasing more material goods than we need while our fellow human beings across the world suffer from hunger, lack of clean water, poverty, homelessness, war, strife, and persecution.

And I wonder are we truly thankful here in the land of plenty? Not just on Thanksgiving, but on each and every day of the life we are given? 

On Thanksgiving Day here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we feasted with our traditional meal of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade noodles, yam, corn, peas, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls, topping it all off with pumpkin, cherry, and lemon meringue pie and Thanksgiving decorated mini cupcakes.

Eleven of us, missing a few of the family who couldn’t join us this year, gathered around our dining room table laden with plentiful food and gave thanks to the One who provides our needs. We ingested our bounteous meal, shared stories, laughed, and spent an evening doing what we usually do when we gather together – played games.

All blessings for which we are thankful.

The day after Thanksgiving, some of us headed back to work while some of us packed up suitcases to travel home in another state. By late afternoon, just Papa and Mama were left in the quiet empty nest.

We decided we would just enjoy an evening of rest, change into comfy clothes, eat Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner, and maybe snuggle down on the couch and watch some Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Low key. An evening of quietude. Chillaxing.

That’s when we heard and noticed a tanker firetruck parked on our road in between our house and our next door neighbor’s. By then, darkness had descended and the flashing lights seemed ominous as they reflected in our windows. 

A police car appeared and started redirecting cars to turn around and go back the way they came. Flares were set out to stop traffic from traveling past our house from either direction. 

Papa and I stepped outside to try to ascertain what was happening. We didn’t smell smoke so we knew there wasn’t a fire, but we watched as one of the firemen walked to our next door neighbor’s house and I became even more alarmed.

Had something happened to him? One by one, his house lights went out. The fireman walked back to his truck, then started coming down through our yard towards our home.

He informed us that two doors down, someone had backed a truck over a gas meter and natural gas was spewing out underneath the vehicle. Yikes! Suddenly, I had visions of our houses blowing up in a huge explosion.

The fireman said he thought the best and most cautious thing to do was evacuate our home. As he spoke, we watched next door neighbor drive by in his vehicle as he was evacuated as well.  We agreed and gave our cell phone number to the fireman so he could call us when it was safe to return.

We hurriedly prepared to leave, grabbed coats, slipped on shoes, turned off the TV. I glanced around my home thinking should I take something with me? What if it’s all gone when I come back? I turned to my husband and asked him that.

His response – things can be replaced. And he’s right. Even though some material things are precious to me like photos of my loved ones and simple family “treasures” from my folks’ home and my in-laws’,  and I would be sad to lose those items, they are just things. I could retain them in my memory.

Racing out of our home and driving to a restaurant to eat dinner, I thought about what it must have been like for all of our fellow countrymen who had to evacuate their homes because of the wildfires this past summer, the horrible hurricanes,  and flooding that ensued.

My heart ached for those affected by the disasters even more than it did while those events were going on because I better understood now the panic they must have felt at losing their homes or possibly their lives.

And I uttered a prayer of thanksgiving because in all of my years on this earth, this was the first time I’ve ever had to leave my house and wonder if it would still stand when I returned.

I’ve experienced several tornado threats including one that set down not far from where we lived and even a minor earthquake and some tremors, but thankfully escaped with no damage.

I was so grateful we were spared from disasters in the past, but time has a way of making you forgetful, making you less cognizant of all those blessings once bestowed upon you. 

Later that evening, we received the fireman’s all clear call and returned to our home. The only remnant of the event was the gas company truck still working at the scene. Firetrucks gone, flares removed, police car off to help someone else no doubt.

So my heart was filled with gratitude.  I’m grateful our home was still standing and intact and so were our neighbors’ houses.

I’m grateful for first responders that keep us safe and protect us from harm and in doing so put their own lives on the line. This is even more on my heart since just before Thanksgiving, a young police officer in our region was shot and killed while on duty.

And I’m grateful to the gas company workers who may have had to leave their own leftover Thanksgiving dinners, family, and homes to fix the problem.

Friday night’s cause for alarm supplied a cause for thanks giving.

And my heart is grateful.

 “The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” ~ Henry Ward Beecher 



I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends


Spectacular sunrise at my home…but still no inspiration.

Sometimes, here in the blogging world, those of us who weave our words together to create posts for our readers to enjoy just get stuck.

Speaking for myself when that happens, I fear perhaps that I’ve run out of things to say. Creative impulses seem stymied. The juice that I squeeze out of my thoughts which provides the ‘ink’ for my words showing up on your screen just doesn’t flow.

I sit idly staring at my own blank wall – the desktop computer monitor where I compose my blog posts – and no spark of inspiration ignites in my brain.  

You can call it writer’s block. You can call it no inspiration. You can call no light bulb moment.

You can call it a lot of names, but to a blogger, it’s discouraging especially when you’ve boasted in cyberspace that you will have a new post up so many days a week.

So what to do, what to do? I look through my list of ideas that I’ve jotted down in the past. Sometimes one of those ideas leaps off the page and smacks me in my cerebral cortex and words coagulate together to form some kind of cohesive expression.

Other times, I glean through my trusty notebook of quotes and someone else’s words will jumpstart my inspiration motor and I race to get the words in writing before they disappear round the bend.

Often a photograph I’ve taken visually provides blogging fodder and I manage to combine the written word with a visual picture to produce a meaningful blog post.

But occasionally, nothing works. That’s when I get by with a little help from my friends.

I run in a tight little circle. What I mean is I have a small circle of blogging friends that I follow.  I log into my WordPress account just about every day and I click on links to read blogs from my circle of writer/photographer friends.

And sometimes, something they’ve posted provides a little jolt of stimulus or plucks at a thought in my mind that could possibly be developed into a new blog post of my own. It’s what we bloggers do, we help each other even when we don’t realize we’re doing it.

I’ve been pretty wordy since the beginning of this month, this November Thanksgiving season, but I needed just a few more brainstorms to complete this month’s posts.  And the insights, the creativity, the vision of what to write just wasn’t coming to me.

Maybe because my plate is full with other things including preparing plates of Thanksgiving goodies for my family. Maybe because I just lack motivation because I’ve certainly been there before and have the T-shirt to prove it.

Whatever the reason, my friends helped me out, and that’s a good reason to be grateful. So I add my blogging friends to my thankfulness for Thanksgiving list and I want to share with you my friends who helped me get by.

First of all is my friend Beth Ann who writes at It’s Just Life.

Her posts are always entertaining and often showcase something I didn’t know or see before. On top of that, she generously donates to a different charity each month based on the number of comments she receives on her blog. How cool is that?

She and I share an affinity for teapots among other things. Recently, she too encountered an ‘hmmm…what shall I write about moment’ and the result was a list of ‘what am I’ statements which provided her readers a little peek into her life at the moment. I thought it was a fun thing to do, so I’m copying her following in her footsteps.

Her statements, my answers:

What I am reading: More than one book at a time including a few open on Kindle and my ongoing project of reading my way completely through the Bible in a year. But right now, I’m reading and intrigued, for personal reasons, by a newly published book, The Rose and the Serpent by Ron Shafer. I know Ron and have known him since I was a child. He’s a brilliant scholar, a fellow believer in Christ, well-versed in literature and the Bible, and a world traveler. He happened to be my college freshman year English professor and also my adviser. But more than that, I’ve known him to be my friend. And I’m excited that he’s launched a book series of his own. Ron’s debut novel can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or on Westbow Press and also on Nook and Kindle. 

What I am listening to: I confess I don’t listen to much lately unless it’s the constant chatting of my sweet little granddaughter. Often, I just like silence. But if I’m in the mood for music, I may log in to Pandora and listen to some oldies. Yeah, I’m a throwback. And as soon as Thanksgiving is over, Christmas music will be in the air at my house.

What I am watching: Okay, confession time. Guilty pleasure is watching Dancing with the Stars on TV. Honestly, I don’t watch much else except this time of year, I do tune in regularly to all the Christmas shows on the Hallmark Channel. Groan if you want to.

What I am doing: Walking three times a week or so with one of my best friends — good for my body and my soul.

What I am looking forward to: The holidays. I can’t wait to celebrate my second grandchild’s first birthday soon, see her sweet little face, and cuddle with her. I’m also excited that all of my chicks and roosters will be back in the nest for Christmas this year. The perfect Christmas gift for me.

What I am writing: I’d like to say I’m writing my novel and a devotional book I started a couple of years ago, but both are on the back, back, way back burner. I’m lucky if I can churn out these blog posts right now.

What I am looking at: You know what they say – a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m looking at the photos I took this fall.


Glorious autumn right in my own back yard

What I am excited about:  Papa cutting back some hours at work come January and the two of us traveling a bit next year.

And now, let me share how another friend inspired this blog post.  Robyn, who writes at Believe, is a young friend.

I can’t even remember how our paths crossed but I’m so blessed that they did. This teenaged girl faces her own adversity every day yet always inspires me as I read her words. And she is a very gifted writer for someone so young.

Recently, she honored me with a peer blog award. It’s one I’ve received before, so I could have just thanked her and moved on.

But because she has become such a sweet friend, I wanted to show how much I appreciate and respect her nominating me. The award is called the Liebster – a German word for favorite or beloved. It’s just a lovely thing to call a fellow blogger a liebster, so thank you, Robyn.

In receiving the award, the nominees are to answer questions provided by the nominator. So here goes, another peek into my life as I answer Robyn’s questions. And let me tell you, I had to seriously contemplate to answer a couple of these!

If you could write the soundtrack to your life, what would be the first three songs? (Click on the links below to hear the songs.)

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

Crazy Love 

Homeward Bound

What is the one book that has most inspired your life? Hands down, it has to be my Bible. No other book inspires me, guides me, touches my soul, and sometimes makes me cry more.

If you could live anywhere you please, without that pesky restraint called money, where would it be and why? As hokey and corny as it sounds, I’d live right here where I am but I’d make sure all my family and many of my far-away friends lived right here in my area too.

Where would you go on your dream vacation? I suppose many folks would choose some exotic, tropical, beachy place and while that would be fun and enjoyable, it wouldn’t be my dream vacation. No, send me off to often chilly, sometimes damp England, home of my forbears.

What’s your favorite thing about fall? EVERYTHING. Okay, seriously… just about everything. Cooler day temperatures. A chill in the air. Sunshine causing the changing trees to radiate with the colors gold, red, and orange. Lacy glimmering frost on the grass in early mornings. The crunch of dried fallen leaves and acorns under my feet. Nighttime bonfires. Pumpkin bread baking in the oven. Hay rides to the pumpkin patch. The smell of fall, yes there is a distinct aroma in the air. I love it all and it is my favorite season.

And my blogging friends are some of my favorite people. I do get by with a little help from my friends.

“Encourage, lift and strengthen one another. For the positive energy spread to one will be felt by us all. For we are connected, one and all.”  ~ Deborah Day