Reflecting on the blessings

blogIMG_1006Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard once wrote:  “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Just yesterday morning, I visited for a short time with one of my dearest, long-time friends. The one who’s constantly in my prayers because of her serious health diagnosis about a year ago and her latest brush with a dire emergency that almost cost her life.

Since she was in the area for a short visit with her mother, we sat in my friend’s childhood home on the same living room couch where we spent many hours in the past chatting with one another as young girls, teenagers, and young adults. If the seat cushions of that couch could talk, they would divulge countless stories of our times together upon them.

Often when my friend and I converse, we spend much of the time reflecting. And yesterday was no exception.  In many ways, my visit reflected the past, the way life used to be.

And since I brought my Little One (granddaughter) along with me, we glanced at even more reflections of our childhoods past when my wee one played with some old toys that have called this place home for numerous years.

As we were leaving, we walked outside onto the front porch to say our farewells. And that’s when Little One spotted my friend’s mom’s bright green gazing ball resting on a pedestal in the yard. 

Little One was absolutely fascinated by it and laughed at her own reflection in the ball.  Over and over again. And then at our reflections as well, going round and round the shiny orb never taking her eyes off of those images she spied within it.

It’s ironic that this week’s photo challenge theme is reflecting when I’ve been ruminating over that word – one which evokes a couple of meanings in my mind.  Of course, there’s the obvious one of an image being mirrored.  And then there’s the one that connotes thinking or seriously considering.

Like thinking of and seriously considering the past. Similar to my little one circling that gazing ball, often my mind goes round and round those reflections of times gone by. Over and over again.

Reflections of the way we used to be.

And that phrase prompts the ongoing radio in my mind to play an old song by The Supremes:

Through the mirror of my mind
Time after time
I see reflections of you and me

Reflections of
The way life used to be
Reflections of
The love you took from me

And even though that song expresses a sad tale of lost love, happiness ripped away, and painful reflection, I find valuable reminders in those lyrics.

Through the mirror of my mind
Through these tears that I’m crying
Reflects a hurt I can’t control
‘Cause although you’re gone
I keep holding on
To the happy times
Oh, when you were mine

Isn’t that how we so often view yesteryear? We attempt to remember only the pleasant moments and the joyous occasions when we reflect on times past. We keep holding onto those memories and that helps us through the present.

And that’s how my friend and I recall our childhoods.  Contented times, hours of fun playing together as children, sharing secrets and dreams as teenage girls do. Easy times of no responsibilities, no earth-shattering worries or occurrences, an idyllic age really.

Through the hollow of my tears
I see a dream that’s lost

Reflecting back now as adults, many of our hopes and dream for the future did not come to fruition, but some did.  And we both have had a blessed life, but not one without struggles and difficulties. This last year, my friend’s life has been a complete upheaval. 

In you I put
All my faith and trust
Right before my eyes
My world has turned to dust

In one consultation with her doctor, my friend’s world seemed to turn to dust. And it just kept splintering into pieces, one experience after another sawing its way through her strength leaving mounds of accumulating sawdust. 

Procedures, medications, treatments, hospital stays, medical emergencies, more hospital stays, therapies, home health nurse visits. At one point, when I sat beside my lifelong friend in the hospital, she confided her weariness over not having a normal life.

But here’s where my friend and I differ vastly from the song lyrics. Because instead of putting our faith and trust in another person (because honestly, we humans do let one another down often), we put our faith and trust in God.  All of our faith. All of our trust.

Because He never forsakes us. Never lets us down. Never stops loving us. He is the Great Physician. The Healer. The Savior. The Lover of our souls and Listener to our prayers. The One who is granting my lifelong friend’s desire to start to feel “normal again.”

So instead of singing “reflections of the way life used to be,” I believe I will change the song lyrics to “reflections of the way life needs to be; reflections of the love God has for me.”  And for my cherished friend.

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ~ Charles Dickens

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Warning, warning!

blogIMG_5956It lurks out there…everywhere.

It may be in the form of a blood-thirsty shark just cruising along the shoreline looking for its next victim. That is, if you believe the plot in the old movie, Jaws.

It may be in the dark.

Or in the woods.

Or maybe right next door.

It may be in the form of a horrific natural event like a tornado, a hurricane, a tsunami.

Or in climate change.

Or maybe just a snowstorm in your neighborhood, so run out quickly beforehand and grab up the milk, bread, and toilet paper.

It may be in the form of nuclear weapons aimed at your country.

Or in the politics of the land.

Or maybe in your own home.

It’s danger. And the world’s a dangerous place. Or so, some would have us believe. Every day it seems we’re bombarded with the message that it’s dangerous just to exist on this planet. I see and hear it on the television, on the radio, read it in print media and on the internet.

It’s dangerous, I tell you! Be afraid. Be fearful. Wring your hands and cry, “What is this world coming to?”

It’s this week’s photo challenge Danger! – and it reminds me of a science fiction TV show I used to watch as a kid called Lost in Space

In it, the Robinson family were space travelers whose spaceship was sabotaged causing them to land in a different universe where danger always lurked. And there was a trusty robot to alert them to peril at every turn by droning, “Warning, warning” and “Danger, danger!”   

Seems like the robots are still out there.  Warning, warning! Danger, danger!

To be certain, there are real and present dangers. That’s a part of life. But we can’t live this life constantly in fear. You know what President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in the midst of the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  

Fear is crippling and makes us indecisive. Realizing true danger should cause us to take action, not just freeze in fear. I know how that happens. Many years ago when Papa and I were newlyweds and living in rattlesnake country, we were walking on a wooded path when a snake slithered out in front of us. I totally froze to my spot in fear and literally could not move, could not run to safety, could not even think fast enough to react.

And you know what I needed? Help from another human being. I needed my husband to grab my arm and pull me to safety with him.

Whether great danger lurks ahead of me, I have no way of knowing. Whether all of the danger cited now days is real, I also have no way of knowing for certain. But I do know this: often times danger comes from ourselves, from our evil hearts and minds.

And I hope and pray that when and if threat comes our way, we spring into action to help one another through whatever we must face or endure.  

I hope our hearts are open and our actions unselfish because really, we are one big family. The family of humanity. And if we can’t help our fellow humans in perilous times or circumstances, we really are doomed to danger.

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” ~ Pope John Paul II

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

One May evening

blogDSCN0017Three years have passed since I snapped the photo above. The lighting was dim and I only had my small digital point and shoot camera with me, but I wanted to capture the moment for later.

I stored that photo in my desktop computer archives and a blog post idea away with it. And then as it always does, time has a way of passing by. And writing ideas have a way of being shoved back to the recesses of my brain where they may or may not be retrieved.

The calendar pages have flipped over to the month of May already and a brand new month found me without any good, solid concepts to write about. So I did what I normally do when I stare at a blank computer screen in an effort to produce a post, I open up my photo library and start viewing pictures I’ve captured but may have forgotten about.

And there it was. A photo of an elderly gentleman from our church showing my sister and me his handmade violin.  Three years ago this month.

Much has transpired in those three years as this kind, gentle, soft-spoken man, a farmer by trade but a talented musician and skilled woodworker passed away this year.

But let me take you back to the evening this photo was taken.

Every year, our church holds a mother-daughter banquet in May.  My sister and I usually attend and sometimes, if her daughter-in-law and grandgirls and my daughter and grandgirl can make it, they come along.

But three years ago, my daughter lived away from home and our grandgirl was just a whimsical thought, a gift waiting to be given to us a year later.

So my sister had a wonderful idea when it came time for the mother-daughter dinner. Since our own mother and mothers-in-law had passed away many years before and our girls couldn’t join us, it would just be the two of us attending the banquet.  

Sister’s thoughtful idea was to call a sweet, elderly lady in our church who had never married and, of course, had no children to join us for the banquet. This dear woman was in her 90’s then and relied on her brother (the fiddler) or other relatives to transport her places, so we arranged to pick her up at her family farmstead to ride with us to the church hall.

I remember when sister called Esther to invite her, she replied that she wasn’t a mother. Sis told her but she was a daughter and she could be our mother for the evening since ours was in heaven.  Esther agreed to come.

We traveled down the country lane to her home and helped her climb into my sister’s vehicle. At the banquet, Esther was all smiles, as she usually was, and I do believe she truly enjoyed herself. Afterwards, we drove her back home and she really wanted us to come into the house for a little visit.

We sat at her kitchen table and talked over days gone by, and relatives now long gone, and Esther told the story of how we were distantly related and how her mother and our grandmother were great friends. 

Her brother Paul sat with us and shared his stories too and we had a chuckle over the old tale of how he got his name when he was born. One of his older brothers, yet a child, had asked his mother to bestow our mother’s name, Pauline, upon the new arrival. Well, the new arrival was a boy so their mother agreed to name him Paul.

I shared how well I remembered this musical family playing their instruments at church when I was just a little girl.  Each one of their siblings had God-given musical talent. And that’s when Paul got up from his kitchen chair and left the room, returning with a weathered violin case.

He opened it and showed us a lovely violin, one of his own making. He even tuned it up a little and played a bit for us. I marveled at the fact that he had handmade the instrument and how nicely it sounded.

It was one of those sweet little moments in life you try not to forget. When you know in your heart that you’ve done the right thing just by taking the time to spend an evening conversing with two elderly, and possibly lonely, folks of the older generation.

Both Esther and Paul are gone now, but the memory lingers. And I’m so glad to have the photos to remind me of that warm, spring evening in May.

“The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.” ~ English Proverb

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A good match

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He is tall. I am short. He loves seafood. I hate it.

He didn’t wear glasses until the last few years and needs them only for reading.  I’ve worn glasses since I was five years old and need those to make everything blurry clear.

He’s a terrible speller. I always excelled in spelling.  He admits he is not a writer and doesn’t enjoy doing so. I’ve always been a writer and it gives me joy.

He came from a family of brothers. I came from a family of sisters. He had lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins in his extended family.  I had only a handful.

His family vacationed at the Jersey shore every summer. My family took very few vacations and I never saw the ocean until I was a young adult.

He grew up in the city with bricks for a yard and no grass. I grew up in the country with a yard a couple of acres large to play in.

As a youngster, he ran up and down the halls of the Capitol building in our state capital while playing with neighborhood friends.  I rode up and down country roads on a bicycle playing with my neighborhood friends.

He has the patience to read the instruction manuals. I have little patience with them and tend to just wing it until I encounter a problem; then I turn to him and his instruction manuals.

He is usually slow to anger. I often possess a short fuse.

He takes his good old time working on projects. I want to hurry up and get them completed ASAP.

He loves all things historical and pertaining to the military and reads just about every display card in museums. I am more fascinated by the personal touches of history and am not interested in movies, books, or displays about wars or the military. I also am way ahead of him while making our way through museums.

He would love to go on a cruise someday. I am terrified of the concept.

You might say we have enough differences to prove we are not compatible at all. But you would be wrong. Our differences aren’t what define us. Our shared history together makes us who we are. And we are not totally mismatched; we do have several things in common.

We are a married couple who have spent the last 43 years together – dating for three years before marriage and this fall will mark 40 years since we said “I do” in front of family and friends.

We’ve endured separations when Papa was obligated for military duty far away, many moves, job changes, health scares, and difficult circumstances during our time together.

We’ve experienced grief and sadness, but we have shared so much joy and laughter as well. And through it all, we endured together. Ours isn’t a perfect relationship but it is one cemented with commitment, love, and respect for one another.

You might just say we are a good match after all (which happens to be this week’s photo challenge).

“It’s not about having the perfect relationship. It’s about finding someone who matches you and will go through everything without giving up.” ~ Unknown

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Swiftly fly the years

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Our son with his newborn baby girl

Our son, our last born, celebrates a birthday this week. When I think of him, I smile and remember what a surprise he was when he emerged in that delivery room.  A boy! We had expected another girl and only had a girl’s name chosen.

But surprise! The doctor announced, “It’s a boy!” and we were actually shocked. The one thing I remember saying to Papa, who was right by my side through labor and delivery, after our son’s arrival was, “But he doesn’t have a name!”

We deliberated awhile and finally chose the name that my own father suggested.  It is a good, solid name. And I blinked and that baby boy grew up and turned out to be a good, solid man.

When I stop to think about the stage of life he’s in now (almost to his 30’s), the lyrics to the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof automatically come to my mind:

Is this the little girl I carried, 
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older, 
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty, 
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly flow the days.

When did that little boy who played with Legos, cars, and Star Wars toys as well as every sport that came his way, the son who made his parents proud with all his accomplishments, grow to be so tall?

And now after all the sunrises and sunsets that have passed, he is a parent himself.

He and our lovely daughter-in-love just had their first baby – our precious second granddaughter – right before Christmas. How can it be that baby that I once held in my arms – my last one – is now all grown up and holding his own beloved little one?

Because the days, just like in that song, do flow by swiftly.  And the years follow in suit.

My dad used to tell me how quickly time flew by for him in his 90 years on earth. When I was a youngster, it seemed that time passed by slowly. 

A friend and I were just discussing this recently. How when we were girlhood friends, we couldn’t wait for school to be left out for summer recess or we couldn’t wait until Christmas.  Or when we couldn’t wait to become teenagers. Then we couldn’t wait to drive. Then we couldn’t wait to graduate from high school. And then we couldn’t wait until we graduated from college….got married…had a career…or a family….or….. 

We just couldn’t wait to grow up! 

Before we knew it, we were grown up, our children became adults, our parents passed away, and we found ourselves to be the older generation. And now we wish time would slow down.

Just like that. [snaps fingers] Time goes by. And continues to do so.  Which is why it’s so important to make the most of our time before it runs out.

“Time passes so slowly if you are unaware of it and so quickly if you are aware of it.”~ Marc Bolan

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

What are the odds?

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Odds were it was a boy but…

We take chances every day. You might say each day of life is a gamble because we never know what is going to happen next. And you never know whether the odds will be in your favor or not.

I’m not a gambling person – I’m probably one of a few people who ever attended a horse race at Churchill Downs in Kentucky but never placed a bet;  I’ve never stepped inside a casino; and I admit I’ve never even bought a lottery ticket – but sometimes I still like to know the chances of something occurring.

Why else would I switch on the weather channel to see what the odds are that it will snow today?  Or rain? Or hit the 100 degree mark? Or temperatures fall below zero?

If something strange happens, I often hear folks remark, “Well, what were the odds of that?” Poll takers are constantly telling us the odds of this or that and often times they are dead wrong.

And when that takes place, we say that surely happened against the odds, which is this week’s photo challenge.

As usually occurs, a photo challenge theme speaks to me not just by a chosen picture but with words as well and I have to chime in my two cents on the topic. What are the odds of that? Usually about 99.9%, I’d say, but don’t bank on it.

So considering this photo theme – against the odds –  several thoughts about how my husband and I have gone against the odds popped up in my convoluted brainwaves.

This year, Papa and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  With the standard statistic that’s been thrown around for several years telling us about 50% of marriages end in divorce, I’d say our long-standing marriage has endured against the odds.

Perusing the internet, you can find all kinds of interesting stats.  I located this one while thoughts of against the odds were percolating in my head: the majority of American-born adults (56%) have not lived outside their birth state.

Again, Papa and I have gone against the odds because we spent several years living in other states far away from our birth state and our families. And we also may have gone against the odds again when we actually moved back to my hometown after 20 plus years living in different areas of the country. 

Even when we were blessed with our three children, it seems we went against the odds. Our first two babies were girls. What are the odds of having a boy if the previous children are all the same gender? According to some research I found, if you have two girls, your odds of having a boy for your third child drops to 46%. Our little odds breaker, our third child, was a boy.

Taking this one step (and one generation) further, the odds (and research) say that boys outnumber girls at birth. Apparently, hundreds of years of research demonstrates this and the conjecture is that because males have a higher mortality rate than females, this is nature’s way of creating a gender balance.  

Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know but I do know that again Papa and I, against the odds regarding that research,  welcomed our first two grandchildren who were girls not boys.

Whatever the odds, it has taken effort and perseverance to keep marriage and family relationships intact and we continue to strive to do so against the odds

Adding in love, forgiveness, and a whole lot of grace, our faith is often the glue that holds us all together against the odds.

So what is my wish for my readers in writing this post? I could wish as it’s said in the Hunger Games book/movie, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

But instead of wishing on odds, I’d rather bank on the faithfulness and steadfastness of a Savior, who promises to be with us against the odds.

My hope is that, against the odds, you can do the same.

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” ~ Arnold Palmer

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Kicking shadows to the curb

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Just me and my shadow strolling down the avenue.

When I read last week’s photo challenge theme, that song lyric instantly popped into my head.  You guessed it, the theme is shadow.

At the mere mention of certain words, my music synapses fire up overtime and lines from songs immediately sing through my mind.  Honestly, does anyone else do that? I once had a co-worker who experienced the same thing and we used to try to stump one another with words that we couldn’t think of songs to.  It made for interesting car rides anyhow.

Although Judy Garland sang the song, “Me and My Shadow,” in the late ‘50’s, it’s the Frank Sinatra/Sammy Davis Jr duet that I mostly remember from the 1960’s. If you’re not sure of the song I’m talking about, you can hear/watch their version here:

“Me and my shadow,  all alone and feeling blue.”  Aren’t those lyrics the truth sometimes? Often when you are all alone in the middle of a difficult circumstance, you tend to feel bluer than blue (cue the Bobby Vinton song: Blue on blue, heartache on heartache) because you have no one to talk to, no one to confide in, no one to ask advice from, no one to commiserate with. And you just feel sorry for yourself enough to have a pity party and cry. (Cue the song: It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to).

When you’re in that shade of blue, it seems the shadows just envelop you. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by them.  I’ve felt that way enough times, not really in the throes of depression but just in the shadows of feeling a tad blue. Like a little dark cloud keeps following me around and parking itself over my head, casting its shadow over me.

But you know what sends the shadows where they belong? Behind you? The sun. Oh boy, more song lyrics just fired up in my brain: here comes the sun…sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…I could go on and on…on the sunny side of my street.

Seriously though, being an optimist means you’re always looking at the bright side and that’s what I strive for. Even when one unfortunate happenstance after another befalls me, I keep looking for the sunshine.

And it’s there. Maybe not physically because we are in the gray, bleak last days of winter. And maybe not circumstantially either because mishaps continue to come our way.  (Ask me about the three-hour ordeal hubby and daughter went through in the dead of night on a snowy, unplowed country road when daughter’s car got stuck while driving home from her late night hospital shift and Papa went to rescue her.)

It’s a  continuous story called, “that’s life.” Cue the Frank Sinatra song lyrics again: That’s life, that’s what people say; you’re riding high in April, shot down in May.

But like that song says: I’ve been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing. Each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race.

How? Because spiritually, I seek the light. And that light shines brightest and best in my Savior, Jesus. The Son. Because when I am all alone and feeling blue and life knocks my feet out from under me, I do have someone to talk to. Jesus. He always listens.  Always hears. Always promises to be by my side. Always gives me hope.

My faith, my prayers, my reading of God’s Word – those are the rays of light that kick my shadows to the curb.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” ~  Walt Whitman

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Connected

blogimg_8342Are you feeling connected?

Last summer, I just couldn’t get connected enough to participate in a Developing Your Eye photography workshop, even though I wanted to do so. I’m many months late to the challenge but I’ve chosen to post my take on each day’s theme until I’ve worked my way through all 10 days, even if it takes 10 weeks.

Today I’m posting Day 5’s theme – connect. I’ve chosen a photo of my oldest daughter connecting with her niece (my granddaughter) last summer on a zoo excursion because I enjoyed watching them connect in a loving way. 

As humans, we have connections with anyone with whom we associate. And if we don’t have those connections, we try to make them. Ask any job seeker. Connections are important in the business world, not only to secure a job, but often to get ahead or gain entry into an organization.

Of course, connections are also essential in technology.  I confess I’m not the most technologically savvy person, but without my electronics and yours being connected to the internet, I know I couldn’t publish my blog online and you couldn’t read it. For simplicity’s sake, connections are fasteners linking one thing to another.

We also have our family connections, belonging to or being associated with a group of relatives. I know what you may be thinking – sometimes we have family members who we would rather not be associated with, but for the most part, we do want to belong to a family, be it native or adopted, blood-relations or not.

Connection takes on an even more important role in our personal lives. We humans have an inner desire to be bonded or linked with someone, but it seems to me that often we just don’t know how to achieve that connection very well. 

I’m reminded of a time years ago that I attended a family reunion picnic.  It’s an annual thing but I had never attended in the past, partly because I lived far away and partly because I didn’t really feel like I belonged.   

Technically, I am a part of this “family” because my grandfather possessed this last name and reunion attendees are all descendants of his 12 brothers and sisters. But honestly, I don’t have real connections with this extended family.  Matter of fact, most of them I do not even know.

My grandfather with this family name died in 1964 at the age of 88.  His only child, my mother,  would turn 98 this year if she were still alive. Most of the family members that she knew are deceased as well. So as Yoda of Star Wars fame would say, far removed I am.  I just don’t have a close connection to these distant relatives.

Connections have become part of our daily lives though. We truly are inundated with connectivity more than ever because of technology. Pick up the cell phone and you’re connected. 24-7.  

Whether you text, tweet, or scroll through social media sites, you’re connected. Then why is it that some people feel the exact opposite?  Why do we feel disconnected? 

I speak for myself.  For all the ways I am connected to others, I still feel disconnected too frequently.  Is it just our society? Is it the time we live in now? Is it that our lives are too filled with busyness? I don’t know.

I do know that two things remain constantly connected in my life.  My family, even though our children don’t all live in the same state as we do, is still very much connected to one another. And I am so filled with thankfulness for that. 

The second connection I’m grateful for is my faith in God. I believe that the Lord God created us to be connected. He instilled in us a need to be linked, to be joined, to be loved, and it is He who fulfills that desire by providing a connection to Himself.

God didn’t fashion us to be completely solitary, disconnected from our fellow human beings or from Him.  That’s why He bridged the gap of disconnectedness between His holiness and our sinfulness, by sending His Son, Jesus Christ into this world to provide that vital connectivity link.  Without that, the disconnection I sometimes feel would be unbearable.

And it occurs to me that there is one more connection I’m grateful for – friends I’ve acquired by writing this blog. Some of my readers have become dear friends and I’m so appreciative for our connection.

It’s what gives me encouragement to continue writing and hope that my words in these posts touch your life in a good, meaningful way just as your words, whether they be in a blog of your own or just by your comments, touch mine.

Thank you for that connection.

“The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” – Frederick Buechner

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Blissful appreciation

blogimg_8245I saw a sign one day somewhere – possibly on Pinterest – that read “Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.”

And of course, it caused me to stop and ponder as I tend to do when something profound hits me.  So often in life, don’t we do the exact opposite of that sign though?  Expect everything. Appreciate nothing.

Seems like we’ve been conditioned in our culture to expect everything. Expect that things will always go the way we want. Expect that everyone will believe the way we do.  Expect to fall madly in love while you’re on a reality television show. Expect that your candidate will win political office.Expect that a new job will be the best one ever. Matter of fact, expect that you will get a hefty raise in salary while you’re at it.

Even in faith circles, there are so-called ‘prosperity preachers’ who tell us to expect God to give us what we want, expect to have our best life now, expect a miracle, expect healing, expect, expect, expect.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having high expectations and our omnipotent God could easily give us those provisions if He chooses. But, truth be told,  our expectations often go unmet. And we find God doesn’t give us what we want. He’s not Santa Claus. But I do believe He gives us what we need.

We, however, are like spoiled, overindulged children who, when given everything because it is expected, appreciate absolutely nothing.

Isn’t that why we are so very disappointed when things go awry? Not according to our plan. Because we do too much expecting and not enough appreciating?

I think we’d be happier people if we awakened each day expecting nothing.  I imagine we would appreciate each and every thing that comes our way then.

Like a beautiful sunset, appearing as a hand painted canvas stretching out as far as the eye can see.  An unexpected sight to behold at the end of a long well-lived day.

Sunsets are just one of the things I appreciate about life but don’t expect to see a breathtaking one every day.  Living out here in the country where I can view them unobstructed is just one aspect of my daily life I do appreciate. Holding my beloved grandchildren, embracing my husband and children, sunshine-filled days, and time to worship and pray are just a few more simple joys that I appreciate so very much.

And I find I’m a happier person when I’m appreciative.  You might say appreciation for life provides my bliss – perfect happiness, great joy.

So I want to embrace these words each and every day: Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.  Appreciate bliss when I experience it.

(I’ve written this post and published this photo, which I snapped one July evening,  to continue the online photography workshop – Developing Your Eye – that I missed participating in last summer. The theme for Day 4 was ‘bliss.’)

“Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss.” ~ Alexandre Dumas

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com
 

Repurposing me

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My father-in-law’s childhood wooden puzzle repurposed.

This week’s Photo Challenge just happens to be ‘repurpose.’ Well, what better way to fulfill that theme than to actually do some repurposing? So the following is a blog post (complete with photos) that I published back in 2014. Some of my faithful readers may remember this one. But voila! Repurposed. 

Repurposing appears to be all the rage now days. 

What today’s savvy crafter or decorator calls repurposing – using something old or that could  be discarded for an entirely new purpose – is what we used to call just reusing what we had lying around the house or garage.  My parents were experts at reusing.  Both of them grew up during the Great Depression and money was not just tight, in some instances it was practically non-existent, so they learned from their parents to reuse everything possible.

Maybe that’s why my father had an over-sized two-car garage full of all kinds of bits and pieces:  old electrical wiring and plugs, any kind of old screws, nuts, bolts, or nails, jars, pieces of lumber/tile/whatever, string/rope/twine, parts for this and parts from that, and on and on and on.  My parents only threw something away when it was totally unusable.  And many times that whatsit that Dad had saved in the garage came handy for fixing or fabricating something else.

Fast forward to current times.  Everyone is ‘repurposing.’  You can find scads of ideas on Pinterest and there are entire websites dedicated to reusing, remaking, and repurposing all kinds of things.  I noticed some really great ideas and some incredulous ones as well (like turning an old baby Grand piano into a fountain) on this Twisted Sifter site. And I regularly check out interesting reusing ideas on the Facebook page Hometalk.

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My mother’s childhood toy cabinet repurposed

I’ve repurposed a number of things right here at Mama’s Empty Nest now that I have more time on my hands.  After my mom passed away, I inherited one of her toys – a child-sized wooden cabinet that she put her play dishes in as a little girl.  It gathered dust in my basement for several years because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. 

One day I brought it upstairs, cleaned and polished it and found a spot in my dining room for it.   I repurposed it by adorning it with some vintage doilies and various tea-related items in addition to special tea cups and saucers and my mother-in-law’s antique cream pitchers and was happy with the result.  I especially like that it reminds me not only of my mom and my mother-in-law but also the friends and family who gave me the gifts it now holds.

Repurpose Win #1.

After my father passed, my sisters and I faced the monumental task of cleaning out our parents’ home and garage – not an easy job in lots of ways.  In the garage, I found the old insulated dairy box that used to stand on our porch for the milkman to deposit our weekly bottles of milk in when I was a kid.  It was still in relatively decent shape, and since neither one of my sisters wanted it, it came home with me.  Of course, it too found a dusty spot in my basement to hide.  This summer, I repurposed it into a flower pot container for pretty red geraniums on my front porch.

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My parents’ milk box repurposed

Repurpose Win #2.

For years, my hubby has kept a wooden puzzle in an old cardboard stationary box of his mother’s.  The puzzle is most unique in that it is printed on both sides – one side is the face of a clock in Roman numerals, the other gives the seasons of the year, names of the months, and how many days each month has.  The puzzle is special to us because it was a boyhood toy for my father-in-law who was born in 1898 (yes, you read that right!).  Instead of being hidden away in a box, this little bit of family history now rests inside a glass frame and hangs on my husband’s study wall (see photo at top).

Repurpose Win #3.

So repurposing – I’ve been up for it.  I’ve managed it.  There are still some items in my home that I have plans to reuse in one way or another.  That’s the easy aspect of repurposing.  Just go online, look up ideas, scan a few magazines, voila! You’ve got an idea what to do and how to do it.

But when it comes to life?  How do you repurpose that?  Not so easy.  That’s something I’ve been struggling with for over a year now.  Altering your life is so much more difficult than altering an object.  Finding a new purpose for yourself proves harder than finding a new purpose for an old, dusty thing.

This passage of scripture from 2 Timothy 2:20-21 which I read in The Message the other day encouraged me:   “In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.”

With God’s guidance and according to His purpose, I believe He’s repurposing me, altering my container so I can be used to bless others.

And I’m hoping.  And praying.  And waiting for Repurpose Win #4.

“Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.” ~Author Unknown

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