Throwback Thursday: Enough

Next month,  I’ll be celebrating an anniversary of sorts.  Ten years of writing in my little cyberspace world, Mama’s Empty Nest.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared some throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog and do so again today.

The year 2020 has been a wild one so far. Everywhere we turn, there seems to be cause for alarm. Turning on the news evokes all kinds of emotions – almost all of them not positive ones. If you’re like me, you’ve had enough. How do we maneuver through these difficult times? I hope you find a bit of encouragement in this Throwback Thursday post of mine from October 2013.

Have you ever just thrown up your hands in surrender and cried, “Ok, enough is ENOUGH!” When is enough enough?

For most people, enough is enough when you’ve reached a point when you can no longer tolerate a situation.  Maybe you reached a boiling point when your anger just takes over and your up-to-now contained emotions blow up in force like Old Faithful gushing up and spilling over for all to see.

For some, the pressure actually may be physical.  You just can’t do any more because your body tuckers out.  Still others may experience such exasperation with another human being that they just must cut themselves off from that person for the sake of peace.

No matter what situation makes you throw in the towel or wave the white flag of surrender in capitulation, I think you reach the saturation point.  A saturation point is defined in chemistry as “the point at which a substance, under given conditions, can receive no more of another substance in solution.”

In other words, you’re soaked.  You’re filled up and overflowing.  Saturation can be negative or positive, depending on your attitude.

If you’re inclined to realize enough is enough and you want to give up the fight, you will walk away and turn your attention to something more productive.  

But if you’re a dig in your heels and fight to the finish kind of person,  you’re more likely to follow this advice attributed to Mary H. Waldrip:  “It’s important that people should know what you stand for. It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.” 

This week’s photo challenge has been “saturation.”  After a very wet, rainy summer season complete with flash flooding in places where I’ve never witnessed flooding before, I understand the definition of saturation just from looking out my window.

When our yard was water-logged to the brim from all the rain, I shot some photos of the result which demonstrated how something can be so inundated it can’t take any more.

Aren’t we, at times, just like a drenched yard?  Inundated and overwhelmed. At the point where we just… Can.  Not.  Take.  Any.  More.

For me, that’s where my faith takes over.  When every fiber of my being screams enough, my soul says fill me up.   Fill me up with Your joy, Lord.  Pour Your peace over me.  Soak me through with Your hope.  Saturate me with Your promises, O Lord.

Romans 15: 13 tells me:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When I’m saturated with God’s Holy Word, I am overflowing.  But instead of a flood that destroys everything in its path, this overflowing of living water nourishes and gives glory where glory is due.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, God is great!” ~ Psalm 70:4

When I’m saturated, I can see that the earth is filled with His glory even when I think I’ve had enough of this world.

So when those times come, when I want to yell out loud, “I’ve had enough!”, I need to turn to this scripture:  “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” ~ Phillipians 1: 9-11

For me, that will be enough. ©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

“Forget it enough to get over it and remember it enough so it doesn’t happen again.” ~ Unknown

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A simple daisy

Such a simple thing. The daisy.

Pristine white petals with a sunshine yellow center, daisies grow wild here and there and along our country roads during this time of year.

I admire their simplicity. And even though they don’t carry much of a scent, I enjoy plucking them from the ground and gathering them up into a bouquet of happiness and cheer.

There’s something about a daisy that makes me nostalgic as well. I recall picking daisies as a child/young teen and reciting the age-old saying, “He loves me, he loves me not” as I pulled those white petals off one at a time from the flower’s center.

What fun it was to end the last petal with “He loves me!” and wishing and hoping that were true pertaining to my latest crush.

Then I would grasp the flower’s remaining center between my thumb and forefinger, rubbing and squeezing the floral disc over the upturned palm of my other hand until all the tiny tubular flowers colored yellow, which comprised the daisy’s center, landed in my cupped hand.

After that, I would blow gently over my palm and watch as those tiny little bits of yellow took wing in the air. If there were any left, I would count them and that would foretell how many children I would have after marrying my “true love.”

A girlish dream all centered upon a simple daisy.

I still remember that little ritual when I see daisies in bloom. And I can’t walk past them without wanting to pull out my camera and capture their simple beauty.

Just this past weekend, I once again photographed some wild daisies. While downloading the photos to my computer, an idea for a blog post came to my mind.

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

I recently viewed a video and listened as a man gave testimony of how messed up his life once had been. He reached rock bottom. Literally. Ready to take his own life to end the pain of a lifetime of mistakes.

Until he opened up a Bible. A book he never had read before. Actually, a book he disdained.

What he found in words written there was something he had never heard nor realized before. A simple truth. God loved him.

No matter what his past had been, God loved this man. In fact, God loved this man so very much that He sacrificed His own Son, Jesus Christ, to save this man from the darkness of his own making.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

I wonder how many people journey through their lives not knowing that God loves them or believing that He doesn’t.

He loves me not. He loves me not. He loves me not. As if all the daisy petals in the world say the same thing. 

How many lives might be saved if just one person or one experience would lead a soul who believes that to the truth that God loves every one of us?

Every single one. All of us. All the time. A love so intense that Jesus actually died on a cross just to save our souls. A love so unconditional that He continually draws us near to Him, no matter what we’ve done, to receive that gift of grace for free.

Free as a daisy. Simple and uncomplicated.

God opens His arms wide and says He loves me.

He loves me. He loves me. He loves me.

And He loves you.

He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at a daisy in the same way again.

“The love of God toward you is like the Amazon River flowing down to water a single daisy.”  ~ F.B. Meyer

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: break

We all had to take a break whether we wanted to or not – at home.

Because of the pandemic and the resulting edicts to “shelter in place,” all of us, in one way or another, were forced to take a break.

Oh, I know, those who were fortunate enough to retain their jobs because they were deemed essential workers still worked hard and we’re so thankful for them. And scads of others, who were able, worked from home.

But a vast majority of us took a break – albeit a longer one than we thought it would be – from the daily routine and normal life.

Since both Papa and I are basically retired, we didn’t have to worry about jobs. We were busy though caring for our oldest granddaughter during that time.

But for the most part, we seized the opportunity to step away from the normal busyness of life and enjoy our time at home. And we didn’t squander that time at all.

“The opportunity to step away from everything and take a break is something that shouldn’t be squandered.” ~Harper Reed

So what did we do? In between playing with our granddaughter, helping her with her preschool homework, and providing new things to discover and learn, we enjoyed some simple aspects of life. And I took quite a few photographs to prove it.

I’m sharing some of those photos from our “break” with you today. Despite the trying time that it’s been, we managed to find joy. And doesn’t that make every day worthwhile?

So how have you managed staying home during this time?

Enjoyed the blooming flowers
Spruced up the yard
But we still had time to just relax outside

“Find what brings you joy and go there.” ~Jan Phillips

©2020 mamasemptynest,wordpress.com

Pucker up or suck it up

I bet you know this old cliché – When life gives you lemons…make lemonade.

I can recall those words plastered on rolled up posters which folks of my generation purchased and tried to unroll so we could hang them on our college dormitory room walls.

I googled the phrase to see where it originated from because, as we all know, Google seems to know everything there is to know. But I actually discovered on Quora.com that the original saying was coined by the famed speaker Dale Carnegie when he wrote “If you have a lemon, make a lemonade” in his book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.   

Regardless of its derivation, it’s one cliché that comes to mind when life goes awry and that certainly happens more often than not.

Life has a way of lending us lots of lemons; but instead of turning sour from unfortunate circumstances or trying times we’re dealt, this saying encourages us to turn the sour into something sweet. Or at least more palatable like lemonade.

I, for one, actually like the lemon flavor. I love lemon sorbet. I like to use lemon essential oil to keep berries fresh. I like lemonade and I also squirt juice from lemon wedges into water for a refreshing drink.

Lemon meringue pie? To die for in my book. Lemon cookies? Yummy.

The fresh, clean scent of lemon – it just exudes cleanliness to me.

But bite into a lemon? No, thank you. That makes me pucker up and crinkle my nose at its extreme tartness.

However, it’s a lemon that makes me write this post today.

At the onset of this crazy pandemic that’s held us all hostage for so long, Papa and I were out west visiting relatives.  Just about every day, we enjoyed a brisk walk around the quiet Arizona neighborhood where my sister and brother-in-law live.

On our treks, we didn’t see very many folks but we encountered quite a few dogs disliking our “intrusion” in their territories and barking zealously at us, behind fences thank goodness.

Just a day or so before we were scheduled to fly back home to the East Coast, we enjoyed a cool, morning walk in abundant sunshine down a street we hadn’t ventured on before. There we encountered a gentleman strolling out of a garage onto the driveway.

He cordially called hello and began walking towards us, so we stopped and chatted with him for a while. Soon his wife joined us and we had a nice conversation with this couple, learning that they were neighbors of ours to the north – from Canada.

They shared that they visited this Arizona town every winter and rented the same house for their stay each time. But because of the pandemic threat, their vacation in sunshine became limited and cut short as they had been advised to get back home before the borders closed.

We were a bit astonished to hear that they drove all the way from Ontario every year for their winter/spring vacation. They were packed up, ready to leave, and were just biding time until the property management company they rented from opened to turn in keys, etc.

Before we bid them farewell and safety on their journey back home, the gentleman directed us to a house just down the street. The folks who owned that vacation home resided in California and every few days, they stationed a box full of California grown lemons and oranges on their driveway with a sign reading,  “Free, please take as many as you want.”

We stopped and looked at the free fruit. The oranges looked so tasty, but those lemons! They were huge! Honestly, the largest lemons I think I’ve ever seen in my life. We took a few oranges and a couple of lemons, because that was all we could carry, back to my sister and brother-in-law’s home to share with them.

The oranges were just as they promised to be – sweet, juicy, and oh, so delicious. Of course, those large lemons were a different story. Tart enough to make one pucker up, that’s for sure.

We didn’t make lemonade, but we certainly could have. Instead, we just squeezed a few shots of lemon juice into our iced water.  Practically instant refreshment and no added sugar.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could really turn all the lemons of our lives into something good for us, something refreshing, something pleasant?

We can. It’s called attitude. And it’s a choice. We can either pucker up and choose to be sour and bitter. Or we can suck it up, work through our circumstances with hope and faith and choose to be sweet and pleasant.

I’ll take the latter with just a hint of lemon please.

“Nothing is so sour that it can’t be sweetened by a good attitude.” ~ Woodrow M. Kroll

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Never beyond hope

Overwhelming, that’s what it is.

We turn on the news whether it be on television or online and instantly we’re engulfed with images of despair, destruction, disillusionment. We watch the latest recap and as our eyes are assaulted with depressing images, our ears cringe hearing discouraging words.

Bad news. It surrounds us daily.

And it seems especially disheartening as across the globe, humanity has been dealing with a pandemic as well. For the faint of heart, this trying time in our lives can cause despondency beyond measure. Even for those who are strong, it’s difficult to endure all the madness and suffering we’re exposed to just by tuning into the latest news.

During this tumultuous time, people I know have suffered overwhelming tragedies, been blindsided by serious health issues, lost loved ones, suffered setbacks for their livelihoods, and even most of their personal belongings in a devastating event.

Piled on top of the mountainous, disparaging national and world-wide news like weighty boulders, bad news burdens us, makes us feel as though we can’t recover, we can’t regain what we’ve lost, we can’t cope with the ever burgeoning onslaught.

Times like these shake us to the core. They shake our faith. They make us shake and quiver in disbelief and sadness.

It’s enough to cause one to lose hope.

Little did I know when I snapped the photo above three months ago that it would inspire me to write words about hope.

Just three months ago, Papa and I enjoyed a trip to Arizona to visit relatives. During our trip, the corona virus pandemic news exploded across the airwaves. Our concern wasn’t that we would contract the virus, instead we were a bit apprehensive that our return flight home might be cancelled.

On our three-hour trek to the Phoenix airport the day before our scheduled flight, we decided to take the scenic route with our rental car and not use the interstate highway. That proved a nice, leisurely drive with a couple of short sight-seeing stops and camera ops along the way.

Because businesses started to shut down at that time, our biggest worry became finding a place to use a restroom and somewhere to eat dinner. (We resorted to a Chick-fil-A drive-thru in Tempe and taking our fast food back to our hotel room to eat it.)

Somewhere along the route to Phoenix, I spotted a small church and realized we were passing through a tiny community called Hope, Arizona.

Hope. A nice name for a place out in the desert, I thought. I began wondering about the origin of that little dot on the map, how it got its name, etc. As I was ruminating all of that through my mind, I noticed a sign which immediately garnered my attention.

Exclaiming ‘Oh, look at that!’, I asked Papa to stop the car, but there wasn’t a place to safely do so, a vehicle was directly behind us, and by now, we were well past the sign.

Bless Papa’s heart, he knows how much I enjoy taking photos and he always accommodates my need to stop and jump out of the car with my camera in tow. So he located a place to turn around and go back just so I could snap a photo.

The end result is the photo you saw at the beginning of this post. Then we chuckled at the message of the sign – “YOU’RE NOW BEYOND HOPE.” But I’m not laughing now.

Instead I am concerned. I fear that too many of my fellow human beings feel this way, especially now, that they are beyond hope. That hope doesn’t exist as they struggle to just get themselves and their families through each day.

Hope. It’s something we must never, ever forsake. Greater wordsmiths than I have given us worthy thoughts about maintaining hope, so it is such an important aspect of life.

My Guidebook for Life also tells us much about hope. In just one version of the Bible (New International Version) hope is mentioned 167 times.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I believe God knew we humans would often fall into despair; He knew we would struggle with life; He knew we would become disillusioned and troubled in this fallen world, so He provided words of hope for us to cling to and a Savior to place our hope in.

No matter what comes our way, no matter what tragedy or hardship we encounter and must endure, we are never beyond hope. Not one of us.

In the book of Romans, chapter 15, verse 13, the Apostle Paul wrote “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  

My purpose in writing this blog post is that my readers may find hope in the words written here. If you are struggling today, my hope is that you can see that there is light in all the darkness which feels like it’s surrounding and enveloping you.

That light is hope. It’s hope for a better tomorrow, for a better day one step at a time.

And the God of the universe can fill you with that hope. All you have to do is ask.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~  Desmond Tutu 

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: think

Words to live by:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9 New International Version (NIV)

Or from another version:

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9 The Message (MSG)

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Changing lanes

You know, sometimes you just must leave your house to gain perspective.

Staying at home doesn’t usually bother me. In our retirement phase of life, Papa and I can always find something to occupy our time, a project that needs accomplished around the house or our 2 ½ acre yard.

But while we were all sequestered in our homes the last couple of months, often we just felt the need to escape our house so we jumped in the car and took some “road trips.”

Those so-called trips merely consisted of little jaunts around our area traveling down country roads. Sometimes we hopped on the four-lane highway nearby to take us to another spot to exit and see where another less-traveled road would take us.

When the weather cooperated, we’d amble down the road with our windows wide open, enjoying all-too-rare sunshine and fresh air.

Since our granddaughter was staying with us during this time, she’d often fall asleep in her back seat booster and we’d drive along in peace and quiet. I’d close my eyes (and I admit I too sometimes fell asleep) and just relish sun rays shining through the windshield onto my face and the scent of the country rushing in the open windows.

It was delightful! Mmmm, freshly cut hay….ohhhhh, the sweet aroma of honeysuckle….ahhh, newly mown grass…aha, the fragrance of blooming lilacs.

And then – UGH! A noxious odor filled my nostrils and I’d open my eyes, gag, hold my breath, and cover my nose. Why? Roadkill.

Plenty of white-tailed deer populate our surroundings and inevitably wind up dead alongside our highways, bi-ways, and country roads. In addition, all other kinds of critters – skunks, opossums, raccoons, wild turkeys – race across roads in a battle with oncoming cars and trucks and lose.

Those unfortunate animals become roadkill, bloating up, baking in the sun, and causing a foul, decaying smell in the middle or on the side of the roadway that just about knocks you over.

Roadkill is gross and repugnant.  It’s both horrid to see and nauseating to smell, but it is reality, especially here in the country.

And that reminds me of life. You can be tooling along, happy as a clam, enjoying what comes your way, and then bam. Something is rotten in Denmark or at least on your roadway of life.

Something unpleasant or offensive causes you to scrunch up your nose not because of its odor but because it’s repulsive or downright disheartening to deal with. That’s the realistic side of traveling down life’s highway as a human being on this planet earth.

We’re not always promised pleasant times or that something wicked doesn’t this way come. We must deal with the ugly, the cruel, or the worrisome event that occurs in life without letting it overwhelm us and turn us into a putrid form of roadkill ourselves.

Reality requires us to deal with it and we do in the best way we possibly can. But I’d much rather hold my breath and change lanes to avoid the foul and vile so I can focus on something pleasant and encouraging.

Something like the most delicious aroma from the lily of the valley growing in our flower garden. That brings joy to my highway of life.

“The highway of life was littered with the roadkill of those who didn’t know when to change lanes.” ~ Karen White

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: be the light

This summer, I will celebrate an anniversary of sorts.  Ten years of writing in my little cyberspace world, Mama’s Empty Nest.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared some throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog and do so again today.

Back in August 2011 when I wrote the following post, my husband and I had come through a dark tunnel of uncertainty into the light of security. As I re-read this past post, it occurred to me that our world – especially here in the United States – is going through the same thing. Dark times, uncertainty, events blasted across the air waves and internet that shake us to the core.

We need some light. We need to BE the light in this dark world. That’s my hope for us.

If happiness were measured by how much the sun was shining, in my world today it would be blindingly bright.

The last several months have been a bit of a trial for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest, not unbearable just a time of uncertainty.  We’ve considered much, reflected more, and have diligently sought God’s guidance as we faced a period of insecurity.   Through it all, hubby and I have tried to seek God’s will, petitioned Him in prayer and waited….and waited.

We’ve praised and thanked God the Father for the provisions made for us and how He continued to supply our needs during our trial.   We’ve held tightly to our faith; scripture from 1 Peter 5:7 has been especially comforting to me:   “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.”

And just like that first beaming ray of sunshine thrust downward from the sky piercing its way through the dark and ominous clouds of a rainstorm, our long-awaited answers to prayer arrived this week, not just one answer but two!

American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Just as there comes a warm sunbeam into every cottage window, so comes a love-beam of God’s care for every separate need.”

Today, on this 10th page of my book of Opportunity in Chapter 7, there’s not just a warm sunbeam shining in our country home cottage window.  Instead I feel like my entire home is ablaze with sunshine – a beacon of light – as God, maker of heaven and earth, has poured blessings upon our heads.

For most of this year, my husband has been unemployed.   There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, encouragements and disappointments as he sought another position.   In a period of time that can be devastating and demoralizing, I can honestly say – in our 33 years of marriage –  I have never seen my husband stronger.

Instead of embracing defeat, he embraced our Savior Jesus Christ more than ever through reading the Word and devout prayer, through servanthood to others, and his willingness to help those in more dire need than ourselves.

I believe God has blessed my husband for his steadfastness and faith, for his total reliance on Him, and for his thorough self-examination identifying attitudes and thoughts he needed to change.  Just this week, my husband was offered a job.  Not just any job, but a job that he is excited about,  an emotion he hasn’t experienced when it comes to work for a very long time.

On the heels of that sunbeam of joy that radiated down over us, our oldest daughter flew in for a job interview in our nearby city.   She truly loves her current job and employer in the Deep South, but after four years of living in that area, her heart tells her she doesn’t want to stay there any longer.  She recently expressed her desire to live closer to our family, a prayer desire Mama and Papa have lifted to the Father for quite some time.

After a promising phone interview, a prospective employer asked her to fly in for a face-to-face.  Again joy permeated through me like the warmth of a sunbeam when our daughter was offered a new job right here in our city!  Celebration reigned at our house this weekend!

This morning at o’dark thirty, Papa and I drove our beloved eldest to the airport for her early morning flight back south, where she won’t reside much longer.  This time, the farewells at the terminal weren’t melancholy, they were jubilant as we look forward to the future.

The sun started rising as we headed home afterward.  As dawn began to break, the old Sunday School song, I’ll Be a Sunbeam, came to my mind.

blogDSCN7185

That song echoed through my mind while I tried to stay awake as we entered a tunnel on our way from the airport into the city. 

As you exit this particular passageway, you are treated to a full view of our beautiful city.  The sight of it never ceases to inspire awe in me.

This morning, upon exiting the tunnel, another awe-inspiring sight revealed itself – the gorgeous morning sun, rising up like a gargantuan round orb of luminous orange-red.  Its light blinded me as it perched perfectly between two sentinel skyscrapers, slowly ascending into the morning sky, and I chastised myself again for not grabbing my camera before I left the house.  It truly was a breath-taking, beautiful sight and I gasped, then said to hubby, “Wow!  Look at that!”

A scripture in Judges 5:31 came to my mind:  “So may all your enemies perish, Lord!   But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.”

As I squinted into the sun’s radiance, I thought, “How could we ever appreciate the sun if we never had night?”

Likewise, how could we ever appreciate the blessings if we never endured trials?  How could we appreciate life’s happiness if we never experienced life’s storms?

Jane Porter, a Scottish novelist in the 1800’s, once wrote:  “Happiness is a sunbeam which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray.  When it strikes a kindred heart, like the converged light upon a mirror, it reflects itself with the redoubled brightness.  It is not perfected until it is shared.”

Happiness, like sunbeams, are not perfected unless they are shared, and I think that’s true about faith as well.  That’s why I must share my faith in Jesus Christ with you in hopes that you too might want to be a sunbeam for Him. ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

In times like these – now in 2020 – when so much seems dark and foreboding; when we shake our heads in disbelief, anger, frustration, and all other kinds of negative emotions; that’s when we, those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ, must shine.

The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker— travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.” ~ Proverbs 4:18-19

It’s time for us to be sunbeams. To exhibit love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let’s not just embrace the light that comes from our faith in a Savior, let’s BE the light.

And even if you don’t profess to be a person of faith, you still can be a light by embracing those qualities and displaying them to all.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~ Desmond Tutu

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: revealed in light

It has occupied the same space on our office desk for over 20 years now.

Twenty years of knowing about its existence. Twenty years of noticing and using it just about every single day. Twenty years of acknowledging its presence but not realizing its importance.

Until just the other day.

Over 20 years ago, our family of five was unsettled. We had just moved from one side of our country to another – from the Pacific Northwest to our home state of Pennsylvania. Our household goods were in storage, we hadn’t found a home to call our own yet, my mother was in the throes of cancer treatments so we were temporarily living with my parents, and Papa diligently was searching for employment.

In the middle of it all, Papa’s mother, my dear mother-in-law, developed more life-threatening health issues and moved from her assisted living facility into a nursing home. Because she lived several hundred miles away from us, my husband’s uncle, a beloved brother of his mother’s who lived near her, cleared out her belongings and stored them for her in his garage.

Shortly afterwards, my mother-in-law passed away. After her memorial service, we sorted through the items, determining what could be given away and what items her sons wanted to take.

Papa’s mother had already downsized significantly from her apartment, where she moved following my father-in-law’s death, and again purged her belongings when she secured a room in the assisted living facility. So we accomplished the task of going through what was left in an afternoon.

Items we kept and brought home with us were not of great value, simply sentimental. One of those was a glass, rectangular-shaped paperweight with a sepia-toned picture pasted on the back of mothers, children, and a couple of cherubs.

It was a little odd but as long as Papa could remember, that paperweight sat on his mother’s secretary desk. Obviously old, we opted to keep it along with another circular glass paperweight sporting our nation’s Capitol building in Washington, DC.  

So for the last 20+ years, both have occupied different spots on our home office desk where our desktop computer is located. Both Papa and I have shuffled hundreds of pieces of papers around this desk. We’ve written notes and stuck them under that rectangular paperweight with the odd picture umpteen thousand times in the last 20 years.

But just the other day, something happened that stunned me and then caused me to additionally ponder. As usual when a visual presents itself to me, my mind searches for some kind of meaning from it.

The morning sun streamed through our office windows that day when I opened the blinds. As I often do in the early mornings, I imbibed in a cup of hot tea while logging onto the desktop computer, checking email, perusing social media, reading my fellow bloggers’ words, and attempting to conjure up my own blog posts for the week.

After so many dreary, overcast days, I welcomed the sunlight pouring in but its intensity almost blinded me while sitting at the desk. I didn’t want to close the blinds because well…sunshine makes me happy. So I shifted my chair over a tad in order to shield my eyes from the bright sunlight and that’s when I noticed it.

A brilliant ray of sunshine shone through that odd, old, glass paperweight. And as it did so, I noticed something I had never before seen – there was some kind of etching on the short end of the rectangular glass.

What??? I’d never seen that before! I picked up the paperweight and when I held it just so, I could see the etching included three upper case initials. Puzzled, I began to wonder whose initials they were because they did not match either my mother-in-law or my father-in-law’s names.

I called to my husband and asked him to come take a look. He too had no idea whose initials they could possibly be. All along we thought the paperweight had belonged to his mother or perhaps his dad, but what explained the different initials?

Turning the paperweight over in the sunlight, I then noticed more etching in the glass on the other short end of the rectangle shape. There a date was etched – 1900 –  plain as day or plain as could be seen when direct light hit it.

1900? So this paperweight had to be at least 120 years old. Wow. Again the wheels started spinning in my mind. 1900 – my father-in-law was then two years old (yes, you read that correctly; he was born in 1898).

My father-in-law was the oldest child in his family so he was, in 1900, the only child. The photo in the glass paperweight depicted mothers with children….mothers….and that’s when the proverbial light bulb illuminated in my brain!

The initials! I hurriedly looked up information on Papa’s family. There it was – the initials matched Papa’s grandmother’s name. My father-in-law’s mother. The grandma my husband never knew because she died when he was very young. Perhaps this paperweight was given to her on Mother’s Day in 1900.

We owned a sentimental piece of family history and didn’t even know it until now. A bit of a revelation!

And then my mind took a detour. That paperweight sat in the dark, so to speak, for over 20 years before its real ownership was revealed to us, until just the right angle of light presented it for my eyes to see.

That reminded me of God’s Word where much is written about light. Until I became a believer in Christ, I once was in darkness but as I came to know my personal Savior, I was brought out of that darkness into light, “His marvelous light” as 1 Peter 2:9 tells me.

I recalled that Jesus said, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in” as written in John 8:12 of The Message.

He also proclaimed in John 9:39, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

And then Jesus revealed Truth when he exclaimed, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.” (John 12:44-46 The Message)

Pondering those words also reminded me that truth is revealed in light. We go about in the dark, perhaps being fed lies after lies and believing them, and then bam! The light exposes the truth! The truth comes to light. What’s hidden in darkness and subterfuge becomes known and displayed in the light.

What was concealed is now revealed. What was covered is laid bare. What was hidden is now shown.  I’ve always cautioned my own children that what you do in secret will be revealed in the light of day. That is truth.

It took sunlight reflecting through a 120-year-old glass paperweight to allow my eyes to see and my mind to be reminded of truth. A little revelation thanks to God and thanks to my husband’s grandmother.

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” ~ Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 6:22-23 of The Message

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Season of life reflections

A lovely pink and blue sunset at our house recently

We turned another page over in the calendar. June arrived yesterday. The month that conjures up summer and all of its plans for outings, picnics, lounging at the pool or beach, vacations. And yet some of us are still under stay at home advisements or under certain phases of “opening up” as imposed by governors of our states.

Summer will be different this year for certain. But we must make the best of it. We must find, for our well-being and sanity, reasons for joy, reasons for happiness, reasons for gratitude, reasons to celebrate.

June is my birthday month and also the birthday month of someone else vitally important to me – my husband, the Papa of this empty nest. And while we probably will not celebrate our special days in big ways  – really, it’s just another day when you get to be in your 60’s – and quite possibly will not even be able to enjoy birthday treats with all of our grown children and adored grandchildren, we will, in some way, enjoy our special days.

We’ll give thanks for another year of life. Another year of living in our quiet, country home. Another year of being able to live life the way we want in this retirement stage of existence. Lord willing, later this summer, we hope to gather with our entire family all together for a week of vacation at a beach.

Something to look forward to.

Even though it is advantageous to be looking forward, often we gain a lot of perspective when we reflect back. When we see how far we’ve come and realize how much we truly have to feel gratitude for, counting our blessings.

So today, I’m looking back, reflecting on my life and my husband’s, thankful for the past, and celebrating what is to come.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

My first birthday & Papa around his first birthday
My 12th birthday & Papa around age 12
Our 20-something birthdays
30-something birthdays
My 60th birthday – 2014
Papa’s 60th birthday – 2015
Favorite birthday treats: chocolate cake for me; strawberry shortcake for him

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com