Never give up

blogIMG_8359Several years ago, I ran across this quote somewhere – “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” I don’t really remember where I read it, but that Japanese proverb became one of the inspirational sayings that is written in my handy-dandy, old notebook chock full of handwritten quotes I’ve found and liked.

I remember it seemed most appropriate for a youngster who played soccer with my children on various teams. That young boy seemed to be having a hard time growing into his long legs and he often fell down while racing for the soccer ball or trying to defend the goal box against the opposing team.

But no matter how many times he fell, and he did so often in every game, he popped right back up like one of those old, inflatable clown punching bags. That boy had determination! Fall down seven times, get back up eight.

That quote and the memory associated with it re-emerged in my mind when Papa and I relaxed in a quiet spot just taking in the scenery and warm, summer day on one of our excursion-to-Maryland days.  We noticed a lone wind surfer attempting to glide across the surface of the water. 

Each time that person seemed to catch a good wind with the board’s sail and looked like a successful ride was at hand, boom! Down he went. Climb back up onto the board. Try again. Sail for a bit. Boom. Down again. Climb back up.

I didn’t count how many times he actually fell down but I did notice that he did not give up. He was not going to allow either the windsurf board, the wind, or the waves to defeat him.  

I admire that kind of determination in a person.  It takes courage and resolve to keep going when the going gets hard. It requires fortitude and perseverance not to surrender when it’s just easier to do so. And it also takes hope for a better outcome if you just keep hanging in there.

That’s why I haven’t given up hope about my fellow mankind, even when life on this earth seems dark and dismal, full of violence and hatred.  I hold on to hope for a better world tomorrow for my grandchildren to live in.  

But I don’t just hope. I pray that eventually the tide will turn.

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Build a bridge

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Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Have you ever considered how amazing bridges are? I mean, think about it. An astounding amount of engineering expertise produces the construction of a bridge.

I wonder who it was that looked over a span, whether it be a stream, creek, or river, and thought, “Huh…I could just build something to arch over that.”

If I remember from a long-ago college course in western civilization, ancient Romans were builders of bridges, some of which still stand today I believe.

Here in my part of the world, wooden bridges were the norm hundreds of years ago. You can take scenic drives in my home state, as well as several others, and view covered, wooden bridges some still in use now as they were in days gone by.

A lot of the simple, uncovered, wooden bridges that crossed streams and creeks along country roads here are disappearing and being replaced by concrete spans, safety being the reason of course as those wooden structures have succumbed to wear and tear by years and weather.

Those super-long suspension bridges are the ones that boggle my mind and I thought about that in Maryland as we crossed over the Chesapeake Bay on the Bay Bridge during our summer trip there.

While we were driving upon that span, I captured a few photos,  and I thought about the thousands of cars, trucks, and other vehicles that cross bridges each and every day.

We cross without thinking of the feat accomplished in the building of that bridge. We cross trusting and assuming the bridge is completely safe and won’t collapse while we’re on it. We cross not giving a thought that hundreds of years ago, the only way to get from this side to that would have been by boat or ferry.

It occurs to me that bridges are something we take for granted in life. We assume someone will build and maintain a bridge to get us where we want to go. But shouldn’t we be responsible for some bridge building of our own?

When you and I disagree – name the reason, there are many – whether it comes to politics, religion, social causes, or just some ridiculous meme one of us posted on social media, and we resort to anger and blustering and name-calling, we’re tearing down bridges that connect us as human beings.

We stomp off either virtually and unfriend someone we once called friend or we literally stomp off in reality and never speak to the person again.

I suppose you could call it burning our bridges. But is that really a good thing to do? I don’t think so. If we are all going to attempt to live together on this planet Earth in some kind of unity or harmony, we have to learn to build bridges instead of burning them.

Building a bridge is far more constructive.  And it’s more fruitful to reach out to someone – to span across that disagreement with them – than to cut them out of your life in anger.

I’m a firm believer in what my Bible, God’s Word, tells me. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote these words to believers in Thessalonica: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He did not say discourage those you know, tear them down with your words and deeds, incite anger and violence.

He went on to say, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” in verse 15.

We can use those verses in our words and actions with fellow believers and non-believers who don’t agree with us. And we can pray for peaceful reconciliation instead of angry rebuttals. It’s called bridging the gap between us.

When Jesus died on the cross, that’s what He did. He is the finest designer of bridges. With the cross, He built the most significant and greatest bridge of all  – an old wooden and rugged cross – across the huge chasm of sin, despair, and death so we could cross over it to life with Him.

It’s never too late to build a bridge. You don’t even have to be an experienced engineer to do so.

“Build a bridge by extending your hand.” ~ Ken Poirot

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Naval inspiration

blogIMG_8173The desire to serve his country in some way was instilled in my husband, the Papa of this empty nest, when he was a young boy.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that Papa is a military veteran having served as an officer in the U.S. Army.  But the army really wasn’t his first choice. From the time he was a young’un, he was fascinated by ships and the Navy.

Maybe it was because his family always took summer vacation trips to the Atlantic seaboard, so the ocean entranced Papa. Or maybe it was because a favorite uncle served in the Navy during World War 2 or that Papa’s oldest brother also did a stint as a sailor.  

Whatever the reason, we have old black and white photos of Papa as a youngster hamming it up for the camera in someone’s old navy uniform. But trying on old uniforms is not where his interest stopped.

As a young teenager, my hubby joined the Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC), an organization for youngsters aged 13 through high school graduation.  Sea Cadets are sponsored by the Navy League of the United States and supported by both the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.

During the school year, Papa attended Sea Cadet weekly meetings where he learned about being a sea-farer. He also recalls weekend trips to maritime destinations like Baltimore’s harbor; Philadelphia, where they boarded a destroyer ship; and staying on a lightship in St. Michael’s, Maryland. 

But the biggest thrills were the summers Papa was 14 and 15, when he boarded a bus with the rest of the Sea Cadets and traveled to Florida. That first summer, he attended a two-week boot camp at a naval training center in Orlando. The second summer, he trained on-board the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier out of Pensacola and spent a week at sea on that vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.  

So Papa fully intended to join Naval ROTC when he enrolled in college. However, his college choice because of a particular major thwarted those plans since NROTC wasn’t offered there. Instead he opted for Army ROTC.

Even though those days are long gone by, ships and anything nautical or naval still interest Papa, so on our trip through Maryland, we chose to visit Annapolis and tour the US Naval Academy.

As always when it comes to history and military information, Papa’s attention was riveted on each display in the visitor’s center. My interest piqued while observing exhibits on the many naval graduates who became astronauts, including Alan Shepherd. (I recall first grade memories writing sentences about Shepherd being the first American to travel into space.)

blogNaval AcademyLater, as we strolled through a nice, well-stocked gift shop, we found it humorous that Papa had not worn his ball cap with U.S. Army emblazoned on it as we noticed numerous items proclaiming “Beat Army!” on them.

As noteworthy as our visit there was, one aspect will remain in my memory for quite some time.  On our way out of the academy, we were ensnared in a group of elementary-aged school children who obviously were on a field trip that day.

Most of the kids were noisy and excited and trying to run ahead of their tour guide, except for one young fellow. While all of the other kids skipped along and paid no attention, that boy spied two brawny naval midshipmen walking towards us and immediately ran over to them, asking a question.

What might a young boy ask a naval student? “How did you get such big muscles?” No, not the question. “Where’s your uniform?” No, not even that.

The young boy asked if he could get his picture taken with those two fine fellows. They agreed immediately without hesitation, posing with him in the center, grinning from ear to ear, while one of the chaperones snapped a cell phone photo.

And you know what? I could picture my husband as a little boy doing the same thing. It warmed my heart. Because I thought that poignant little vignette is one of the aspects about what’s right about our country. There are still parents raising a young boy to respect, revere, and be inspired by those who want to serve this land, uphold the U.S. Constitution, and protect our freedom.

I have to wonder if someday that young boy will grow up to serve his country proudly. I certainly hope so and I hope he gets the respect he will deserve.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” ~ President Ronald Reagan

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: amber waves

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I captured this shot while strolling around Fort McHenry, a historical and national monument park in the Baltimore, Maryland area. 

It never ceases to amaze me how one single picture when given close attention sends me off in words of inspiration just as this one did.

Steeped in history that morning while touring the old fort, this sight made me remember the words to the patriotic song, America the Beautiful:

O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

We Americans live in a beautiful country from sea to shining sea. But in recent years, there have been aspects of our country that have been anything but beautiful.

It seems as if we are tearing our beautiful land and what it stands for down with hateful rhetoric, with divisiveness and angry vitriol. Why are we so angry with those who don’t agree with our way of thinking? What happened to that sense of American brotherhood we once had?

My prayer is that we can just agree to disagree and move forward united in gratefulness for this beautiful country of ours.

“The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” ~  Henry Miller

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

What a ride!

blogIMG_7972Once you reach retirement age, those tracks you were riding along in your train called life suddenly change. For some, leaving the station of work and career is a difficult transition. For others, they embrace the track switch and enjoy the ride.

So far, Papa and I like the retirement age ride as it gives us more time to travel and do what we want to do without the restraints of work obligations. Yesterday, I posted about a train ride Papa and I took at the beginning of a week-long excursion in June. If you missed that, you may want to read it first here.

We had embarked on a three-hour train ride in Maryland because we enjoy railroad journeys. So we began our jaunt by boarding the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

That day Papa decided to wear his burgundy T-shirt with the Pennsylvania Railroad emblem on it, which he had acquired on a repeat visit to Strasburg, Pennsylvania last August.

Papa’s interest in the Pennsylvania Railroad stems from the fact that his father spent his entire working life at that railroad company and retired from it. So it has always been a special part of my husband’s life. He has fond memories of riding the train and we continue feeding his fascination by taking those kind of outings when we can.

As we were waiting in line to board the train, a gentleman initiated a conversation with Papa because the man had noticed Papa’s PRR T-shirt. They chatted briefly about that and the man seemed pretty knowledgeable about the railroad itself. The conversation ended as we moved forward to board and he stepped out of the crowd.

We gave no more thought to it, just chalked it up to a talkative fellow who enjoyed chatting about trains with someone.

The first leg of the ride was not quite what we expected due to some “noisy neighbors” in the same car as us.  But as the old saying goes, the tide turned on the return trip.

At our destination station where we had a one-hour ‘layover’ until we boarded the train once more, most of the passengers walked up the hill to visit the town. Papa and I enjoyed the peace and quiet of our lunch outside the depot.

Then we just lingered while perched on a park bench absorbing sunshine and tranquil surroundings. I took a few photos here and there while we waited to board the train again.  Because of Papa’s connection to the PRR, I particularly focused a few shots on a shiny Pennsylvania Railroad Pullman car that was at the end of the train. 

But then something happened that we never expected…that once in a lifetime kind of experience.

The man who had earlier conversed with Papa jumped down off that very Pennsylvania Railroad Pullman Car, approached us, and again engaged in conversation. He shared that his father, also a railroad man, had purchased an old Pullman train car back in 1972.

In recent years, he decided to attempt to restore it back to its 1949 state of glory with the help of a silent partner and the shiny, burgundy private rail car we were now looking at was the result.  He shared some history of that sleeper car and more about the renovations that had been done. He then invited us to climb up onto the back end of the car and he would take our pictures with my camera.

Who could turn that down? So we climbed up onto the tail end of the car and posed. Once we jumped back off, (it was a long way down without a platform for this short gal), we thanked the man and were totally surprised when he asked if we would like a tour of the rail car.

We nodded and said that would be amazing. So he informed us that once we boarded back in our original passenger car and the train pulled out for the return trip, he would send his daughter to retrieve us and lead us back to their private car. 

Shortly after pulling out of the depot, we were treated to a private tour of the restored Pullman sleeping car in which this man’s family was riding in a trial run to see if there were aspects that needed attention or repairing. We not only met the man’s family but also his father who owned the car.

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Top photo: Catalpa Falls private Pennsylvania Railroad car. Bottom left: posing on the car’s back platform. Bottom right: riding in the lounge area of the refurbished car. 

I can’t begin to tell you what a fun experience it was—so vastly different from the first hour of the train ride. This family welcomed us into their midst, told us more about the restoration of the car, and then offered us the opportunity to remain in the car with them for the rest of the ride.

Papa got to talk trains. We toured the entire rail car from the sleeping berths to the completely stocked kitchen. We heard how the colors of the paint and even the carpet were as near to the original as they could achieve.

We stood outside on the platform as the train lumbered along and Papa laughingly said he felt like he should give a Presidential speech. Since the car was the last one on the train, viewing train tracks behind us while we moved forward was a neat experience. (See photo at the beginning of this post.)

We also learned that this particular car, named the Catalpa Falls, would be one of three original rail cars in a recreated Pennsylvania Railroad run in July from New York City to Pittsburgh called the Broadway Limited. To learn more about that event click here.

Ticket prices for the three-day trip were out of our league with the cheapest being lounge seats in the Catalpa Falls car, which accommodated 10 people, at $999 apiece without a hotel room to $1300 per person including a hotel stay.  To stay in a double occupancy berth on that rail car cost $2,800 per person.  Even more expensive tickets, $4000 and $4200,  were needed for another option on two of the other cars.  

So even though we could not afford THAT train ride, we still felt privileged to be the only folks on that train to have a private sneak preview and an almost one-hour ride in this reconditioned and refurbished Pennsylvania Railroad Pullman sleeper car and to hear the history of it first-hand from the owner himself.

We never could have imagined a last-minute travel plan would land us at the right place at the right time;

Or that Papa just happened to wear his Pennsylvania Railroad T-shirt that day not even knowing there would be a PRR car attached to that train;

Or that the son of a man who bought and restored a PRR car would notice Papa’s T-shirt and strike up a conversation with us;

And that the son of a man who worked for the PRR back in 1949 (when this particular car rode the rails) would encounter a once-in-a-lifetime experience of riding in a restored Pullman car from that time period.

Coincidence? I think not. Just another blessing from God above.

“We are the train and the tracks are the path our lives follow. In control at dispatch is God, and He is overseeing each of our movements and coordinating what happens.” ~Joshua Robinson

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Why not just enjoy the ride?

blogIMG_7931Turning 65 has its perks and I’m not talking about Medicare and Social Security.

One of the benefits Papa and I have realized as we’ve entered into retirement age is that we have more free time to travel, just the two of us.

Back in June, Papa took a respite from his part-time job and we made good use of an open week for travel, available to us since Little One (our oldest grandchild who we babysit) and her mama were vacationing at the beach.  

In the months prior, we had tossed around several ideas about where we should vacation. We thought about a road trip westward to knock off a few more states on my “Visit All 50 U.S. States” list (South and North Dakota and Montana), but decided to table that for another time.

Honestly, just the thought of a long car ride out there exhausted us and we realized what we really needed was a trip for relaxation purposes having just ended a busy season of life. A trip that wouldn’t require hours and hours of traveling. 

So plans changed while we debated where we should go. We finally settled on visiting Maryland even though we have toured through the state often. This time we ventured to areas we hadn’t been before.

While researching sights to see, we discovered a train trip that promised to be a source of relaxation. Papa loves trains. Papa loves riding on trains. Papa loves reading about trains. Papa, whose father retired from a railroad career, has always been fascinated by that mode of transportation.

So early one Sunday morning at o’dark thirty (as former military man Papa often says), we left our home and drove to Maryland where we boarded the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad  for a leisurely  three-hour trip through the Allegheny Mountains on a nice summer day.

It proved to be a trip we won’t forget in more ways than one.

On the first leg of the train ride, I surveyed our passenger car, which only had a few people seated in it. Because there weren’t many folks in our particular car, you would think the journey would be rather peaceful and restful. Just what Papa and I were hoping for.

Swaying a little back and forth to the rhythm of the train’s motion as it clackety-clacks along the railroad tracks is a soothing experience unless you have motion sickness, which neither of us does.

Viewing lovely scenery out the train windows on a beautiful, sunny day gives you a sense of relaxation as well. We’ve found train trips are a calming and comforting way to travel.

“Trains are wonderful…. To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see life.” ~ Agatha Christie

Enjoying another journey in life, that’s what we had hoped to do. But despite the lack of a train car full of people, I found the first hour of our trip anything but restful. Why? Because of one small group of people (all adults) in the car with us. One loud group of people.

Those folks relished talking – no, not merely conversing, but practically shouting at each other and guffawing rowdily over their stories.  And then their stories, which one couldn’t help but hear, turned to gossiping.

Neither Papa nor I wanted to hear about someone who this group declared bi-polar. We didn’t want to hear tales of that poor soul’s mental illness or that several therapists are being seen all at the same time. There was no way one couldn’t overhear their extremely loud dialogue. 

Some things just aren’t meant for public discussion, you know? I turned to glance at Papa several times through the first hour of our ride, raising my eyebrows as if to say, “Can you believe this?” He just rolled his eyes and shook his head.

It was hard to turn our attention to the sights outside our window and relax. Because those folks were so involved in their yakking it up, I noticed that not one of them even glanced out the windows to partake of the sights. From my observation, the entire group engrossed in their discussion didn’t even seem to be enjoying the train ride at all. And I thought to myself, “Then why take a train trip?”

Their behavior definitely disturbed the first part of our journey, but that wasn’t all. One of the people – a middle-aged woman – could NOT SIT STILL. Up and down out of her seat, she constantly hopped or walked back and forth down the aisle. Next she found the snack car and bounced back and forth between our car and that one. She flitted from one seat to another all the while talking and laughing boisterously to her companions. 

She was like a whirling dervish. And honestly, it was distracting and annoying and anything but restful and relaxing to witness.

We were relieved when the train pulled into the station at the destination and everyone exited. We had a one-hour “layover” to grab a bite of lunch or explore this stop along the ride before boarding once again for the return trip. 

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Enjoying peace and quiet off the train

Papa and I had packed a small lunch and we found a quiet picnic area away from the maddening crowd, who by now had taken their noisy selves up the hill to visit the town.

As we munched on lunch, my thoughts centered on what we had just experienced and I hoped that we would not have to endure a repeat performance on our hour-long trip back. We were thankful for the peace and quiet as we ate and later sat on a park bench basking in the sunshine.

I was hopeful that when we boarded the train for the return trip, we could sit in a different car away from the “noisy neighbors.”

And that’s when this thought occurred to me – some folks just don’t know how to sit back, be still, and enjoy the ride in life.

That’s why Papa and I took the train trip – to enjoy the ride. To add some fun and relaxation to life all at the same time.

Little did we imagine that our next experience on that train would be a once in a lifetime occurrence. But that story will have to wait until tomorrow. Yep, tune in tomorrow for the next sequence of our railroad excursion.

“I think the thing to do is enjoy the ride while you’re on it.” ~ Johnny Depp

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Message from Bob White

blogIMG_8735On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree.

Okay, I know, it’s NOT Christmas. But you know, there are only 148 days until the holiday is upon us. You really wanted to know that, right?

But this post isn’t about Christmas although something did occur last week at our country home that made me think of that old Christmas carol and those particular words.

See that photo above? A partridge in a pear tree. Okay, it’s not a pear tree, it’s an Alberta Blue Spruce and it’s a shrub in our front yard.

And yes, that’s not a partridge either. But it is a Northern Bobwhite Quail. And it’s the very first time ever in my life, I’ve seen this species of bird up close and personal.

As a child growing up, I often heard these birds give their call from far off. My parents would say, ”Oh, listen, there’s a Bob White.”

That’s what we always called them – Bob Whites. As opposed to Bob Greens or Bob Browns. Why were they named thusly? Because their particular way of whistling sounds like they are vocalizing the words, “bob white.” Click here to hear one.

As a kid, I would attempt to whistle “bob white” back to them to see if they answered me. Usually they did not, probably because I wasn’t a very proficient whistler.

I never knew Bobwhites were really a variety of quail until recently when I searched the all-the-information-you-wanted-to-know highway called the internet.

On one of the cooler days this month, our inside front door was open to allow refreshing air to circulate through our home via the screen door.  My attention focused on the computer keyboard while writing a blog post, I suddenly became aware of that distinctive call.

“Bob White! Bob White!” It sounded very, very near. The sound registered in my mind but I continued at my task.

Then once again I heard “Bob White! Bob White! Bob White!” rather insistently and again awfully close to our front porch. So I pushed back the desk chair, stood up, and strode to the window thinking I’d see that bird in our front yard tree or maybe noshing at the suet cake holder.

Nothing. No Bob White to be found. Back to the computer, I resumed typing.

“Bob White! Bob White! Bob White!” Loudly, that bird was calling to me.

Our daughter and granddaughter happened to be here at Mama’s empty nest, so I asked Daughter, “Do you hear that?”

She replied affirmatively, walked to the front door, peered outside, and quickly informed me that the noisy bird was perched atop one of our shrubs.

Well, you know what I did. I grabbed my camera and tried to capture a shot of it through the screen door. Not a good angle and the pesky screen was in the way as well.

Very certain I would scare the bird away when I opened the screen door, I stepped outside anyway and was surprised when that noisy fellow did not move. I focused and clicked. It just turned its head and began calling again,  “Bob White! Bob White!”

I inched closer. Click. Another step. Click. Mr. Bob White barely moved. Just kept whistling away.

Fearing that if I proceeded any further he would fly away, I paused.  Bob White looked straight at me.  Gently in the quietest voice I could muster, I asked him, “Are you alright?”

I feared that he might be hurt, maybe a damaged wing, or something that was keeping him perched on top of that blue spruce instead of fleeing from the presence of a human.

“Are you hurt?” I whispered again. “Do you need help?”

“Bob White!” was his reply.

“I know who you are,” I affirmed. “I just want to know if you are injured.”

He took another look at me and decided it was time to move on. Off he flew and I was left in astonishment. My family was also surprised I managed to not only get close to that quail but speak to it also.

Just call me the “bird whisperer.”

I’m not sure what Bob White was trying to convey to me. I have no idea why he decided to perch on that shrub by our front porch. In the 19 years we have lived here, I’ve never seen bobwhite quails at our home, but I have heard them.

It seemed strange that the quail came so close to our house. It was almost like he wanted my attention for some reason. Perhaps I am a bird whisperer, but so far, I haven’t been able to actually understand bird language, so I couldn’t interpret what he was imparting to me.

Later, as I pondered this rare little snippet of life, I wondered why did Bob White come to my house?

There’s a Chinese proverbs that says, “A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.”

It’s true Bob White didn’t have an answer for me; he just stopped by to voice his song. And maybe there’s a message in that.

I don’t have answers for why things happen the way they do. I don’t know why we struggle with disappointments, illnesses, things that just make us weep. I don’t understand occurrences in the world that make me shake my head in disbelief.

But I do know that my God is in control – of all things, even Bob White – and I can place my complete trust in the God who sees and knows all.

I also do know the Lord’s given me my own “song” to sing – a knack for writing this very blog. Maybe this was what Bob White tried to tell me.

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”  ~Author unknown.

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Be still…and celebrate life

blogIMG_8582Even though I enjoyed my season of being still and absent from the blogging world, it wasn’t always quiet in my surroundings.

Early this summer, we experienced a sound resonating from the wooded areas, and eventually the trees in our own yard, that lasted all day long for about six weeks or so.

After a 17-year-long absence (now, that’s a long break!!), the song of the cicadas echoed through the air.  Some folks call them locusts but after researching a bit, I found that locusts and cicadas are not really the same critter.

If you’re unfamiliar with these creatures, the Magicicada periodical cicadas, who live in my neck of the words, are a particular kind of insect that stay underground and emerge from their subterranean homes after a long period of time (17 years in our case).

They climb up trees to begin their venture into adulthood and their singing is a prelude to their mating. And sing they do, on and on until you become so accustomed to the continuous din, it becomes like white noise.

Once the cicadas develop their wings, they begin flying through the air. My daughter can attest to that as she felt like she was being dive-bombed by some while mowing her yard one day.

Granddaughter related this tale to me by saying a big bug attacked her mom.

“Oh,” I asked, “was it a locust?”

“No, Nana,” she replied, “It’s not a locust.  I have to remember….”

She paused and thought awhile and then her face lit up with cognizance. “It was a CI-CAAAA-DA!”

This ol’ Nana, who has experienced the songs of the cicadas a few times in her lifetime, was schooled by a four-year-old with proper terminology.

For your viewing enjoyment, I’ve posted a photo of a cicada hanging around on our front porch and for your listening pleasure, click here to hear the song of the cicadas.

I guess we could imagine that the cicadas are celebrating when they sing their incessant songs. Celebrating life. What better thing to celebrate?

“The cicadas, as if they were wired on the same circuit, suddenly filled the garden with a loud burst of celebration.” ~ Peter Carey

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Be still…shine on

blogIMG_7920 (2)When conditions were favorable – cool and without rain – I did some moon gazing during my blogging break of just being still.

Some nights the moon seemed so very iridescent, a shining orb in the night sky – large and seeming near to the earth.  Yet some nights only a quarter of it was apparent like I captured in the photo above and its brilliance wasn’t as noticeable.

Yet the moon shined on.

Often when I look up into the dark expanse of night sky and spy the moon there, an old lullaby comes to my mind. I don’t know who taught it to me but I suspect it was either my mother or my maternal grandmother.

All I know is that it has been in my memory bank for as long as I can remember and it’s a song I used to croon to my own children when they were babies and I rocked them to sleep.

I see the moon, the moon sees me
Shining through the leaves of the old oak tree
Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the one I love.

Over the mountain, over the sea,
Back where my heart is longing to be
Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the one I love.

I often sing that song in my mind when my eyes behold the moon in its brilliance. And I think how that same moon shines down on the ones I love, even those who live so far away from me.

During my blogging break, it was no different, but other thoughts crossed my mind as well. Knowing the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing was nearing, I thought back to that time, all those years ago.

When man first landed and walked on the moon, I was 15 years old. I truly was fascinated by it all. I remember planting myself in front of the one television set we owned situated in our living room and watching with my parents while that momentous event unfolded on our black and white TV screen.

I spent hours cutting out newspaper and magazine clippings about the moon landing and pasting them in my scrapbook. It seemed so incredible. Such an exciting thing to witness in my lifetime.

In the years since then when I gaze upon the moon, I think about those astronauts first stepping onto it. What courage they seemed to have. What adventurers they were.

And I think of their footprints still embedded on the surface of the moon these many years later. Signs that they were there, that they made their mark, that their endeavors will be remembered. A legacy they left for all of mankind.

I’m not famous like the astronauts. I’ve not accomplished something noteworthy that will be inscribed in any history books. Most likely, after I pass from this earth, only my family and perhaps a handful of others will even remember me, and most likely, generations to come will only remember my name, if that.

But what I do here in my time of life on this planet called Earth still matters. How I love my family matters. How I treat my friends and strangers alike still matters. What I write in this blog matters. Because if one person is encouraged by what I say, or do, or write, I’ve made my mark.

Just as surely as those astronauts who have gone to somewhere no man had gone before.

The moon will continue to shine on those who come after me. I can only hope what I do shines on as well.

“We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun…” ~ John Lennon

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Be still…button your lip

blogIMG_5179One of life’s lessons I learned in middle age was that I needed to choose to be content with my circumstances and it was one of those lessons I felt led to share with other women during my blogging break of just being still.

I wrote in yesterday’s post how I finally listened and obeyed the nudge that God was giving me to lead a women’s Bible study in my home. The topic I chose for us to study was learning how to be content. Not an easy task in this world where we compare everyone to ourselves.

“I wish I was thin like she is.”

“Oh, why can’t I be successful or have a perfect life like her?”

“If only this or that hadn’t happened to me, I’d be so much happier.”

“A bigger house, car, bank account, etc. would make me feel content.”

I imagine every woman may have had those thoughts at one time or other in her life and maybe even voiced them out loud.

One sure-fire way we show our discontent is by complaining.

“That cashier was so slow scanning my purchases at the grocery store today, it took up too much of my time!”

“This weather stinks, why does it have to rain so much (or be so hot, or be too cold)?

“My husband never puts his dirty socks in the hamper and I’m sick of it!”

“Just once I wish my kids would do what I tell them!”

We open our mouths and all that comes out are complaints about everything. Nothing suits us. Nothing satisfies us. And that’s one of the issues we worked on during our Bible study sessions.

We found that God’s Word admonishes us to be careful about the words that come out of our mouths. And we learned that the Apostle Paul gave us the secret to contentment in Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can everything through him who gives me strength.” (New International Version)

It doesn’t mean we fake it. It doesn’t mean we act like nothing’s wrong when something is very wrong. But it does mean we find balance.

We realize life on earth will never be perfect but God promises to get us through the hard stuff. Our part is to pray, trust Him, and give sacrifices of thanksgiving to Him for what He’s helping us through in life, no matter what.

We choose our attitudes.

We choose to give our anxieties to God. We choose to pray specifically. We choose to be thankful. We choose to dwell on the positive. And we choose not to complain.

Every week, I offered practical ways to apply what we learned to our lives and used some kind of concrete example to help us remember what we talked about during our studies.

To help curb our complaining attitudes, I encouraged each woman to take a button home to remind her to button her lip every time she was tempted to complain.

I found I had to use that button more times than not myself. I changed my outlook from dwelling on the negative to choosing to find something for which to be thankful.

Sometimes, the teacher learns just as much if not more than the student.  Just one of the aspects of life I was reminded of during my time of being still.

“Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.” ~ Dale Carnegie

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com