Life’s twists

blogIMG_0765.jpgHave you ever heard or seen something that just goes beyond what you call normal? Often times, we shake our heads and say, “Man, that’s twisted.”

This week’s photo challenge theme is exactly that – twisted.

I really haven’t had time to grab my camera and go out to capture a shot that would fit the challenge, so I resorted to my photo files. As I searched for a picture, the image of twisted that sprung forth in my mind was of tornadoes – sometimes called twisters.

I do have a bit of experience with twisters and have witnessed firsthand the devastation they cause. But I’ve never had an opportunity to capture one with my camera. And you know what? For that I’m grateful. I’d rather be safely ensconced in an inside walk-in closet than be sticking my camera out at a funnel-shaped onslaught of destruction.

In their wake, tornadoes leave a lot of twisted debris. The force of a twister is unreal, bending metal, stripping trees bare of their bark, picking up and smashing houses to smithereens.  As I was considering that, a photo I’d taken last summer came to my mind. (The photo above)

On a day trip, we ventured northward and visited Kinzua Bridge State Park located in the Kinzua Gorge. Years ago a tornado slammed into a railroad viaduct there, which was once the longest and highest such structure in the world, and destroyed a good portion of it. Its twisted metal skeleton still remains several feet below the surviving towers of the structure which have been turned into a sky walk.

But twisted things aren’t always the result of something horrific. Sometimes twisted items are things of beauty like this exquisite and huge glass sculpture fashioned by artist Dale Chihuly. One long winter season a few years ago, Papa and I visited our nearby city conservatory and botanical garden just to get a glimpse of color and this sculpture hung in the entrance hall of the conservatory.

blogDSCN0573 (2).jpgSo when it comes to twisted things, it’s all in your perspective, isn’t it? Just like life. Are you going to go through these days on earth you’ve been given with a negative attitude every time life doesn’t turn out quite like you planned (that could be really twisted) or will you embrace each day of life with an upbeat spin no matter what happens?

It may take some tweaking here and there, but I’m choosing to twist my attitude. Go for the optimistic. Be encouraging not critical. It’s up to me to decide which way I turn. And on that note, maybe I’ll just go fire up some oldies tunes and if I’m lucky, I’ll hear Chubby Checker singing “C’mon baby, let’s do the twist.”

You’re never too old to twist and see where it takes you.

“Life has many twists and turns and sometimes what looks like a very bad day can just be clearing the way for good things to come.” ~ J. Kim Wright

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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A simple day

blogIMG_4024.jpgA simple life. Sometimes that’s what we yearn for, isn’t it?

In our 40 years of marriage, life often has been anything but simple for Papa and me. Changes and issues crop up that seem to prevent a simple lifestyle, but that’s just life in this 21st century.

One of the perks of being semi-retired is that Papa and I can plan little trips away from home here and there. Simple getaways providing a bit of escape from the hum-drum of life and its foibles.

This past month, we took an extended weekend trip south where our first-born daughter and son-in-law live. With middle daughter and granddaughter ensconced in the back seat of our vehicle, we left home on a Thursday morning to travel to a place we wanted to visit first, then would head to first-born daughter’s home the next day for the remainder of our trip. 

Celebrating our daughter’s birthday was on the agenda and just spending time together was the priority. Simple, right?

Our simple trip didn’t start out simply.  We managed to leave exactly at the time we decided upon – no easy feat with a toddler in tow –  but as we were tooling down the highway, middle gal mentioned that the back of the vehicle was shaking. Matter of fact, granddaughter’s car seat was even vibrating.

About a week prior to our trip, Papa purchased new tires for said vehicle. And just the day before we left, he had taken it in for a wheel alignment. Something obviously was very wrong.

So we turned around and headed back to the tire shop where the service had been performed. An hour and a half later, we were on the road again. Back to our simple trip.

Well, traveling with a potty-trained three-year-old isn’t that simple. Our trip consisted of numerous potty break stops, lunch and some time at the playground, more potty breaks, snack breaks, and then a lengthy dinner stop.

Finally, we arrived at our destination – a trip that should have taken seven or eight hours ended up being 12 hours long. It was late, we were all tired and relieved to check into our hotel (where we had a reservation) and collapse into bed.

Papa walked inside the hotel and up to the registration desk to check in while the girls and I waited in the car for him to bring us the luggage trolley. We waited and waited. And waited. Finally the entrance doors whooshed open and Papa stepped out.

Apparently, our reserved room had already been given to someone else, so the night clerk searched for another room to accommodate us and this seemed to take way too long. By this point, a bit of stress was beginning to raise its ugly head. This simple trip was undeniably becoming anything but simple.

After breakfast the next morning, we loaded up again and traveled the few miles to our sightseeing stop – a Shaker village from years gone by.

Something peaceful descended upon me the minute we stepped out of our SUV. Few cars sat in the parking lot. The scenery was lovely. Verdant green countryside enveloped in quietness. Simplicity. At last.

We spent the day learning more about the Shakers and their simple way of life as we walked down a tranquil limestone road. We learned about their beliefs, their music (we even practiced a Shaker ‘dance’ with the help of our tour guide), their farming methods, and their self-sustaining way of life.

We walked through the village noting several of the buildings being restored and entering those that were open for viewing. Little One enjoyed the animals, especially the baby piglets. We ate a simple lunch we had packed consisting of peanut butter sandwiches and fruit, listening to bird chatter and not much else.

A light rain fell for a brief period but didn’t hinder our tour. We climbed aboard for a wagon ride led by two beautiful draft horses and heard more about the Shaker life style as we toured the area and learned the Shakers had owned about 6000 acres of land there.

And as we settled ourselves back into our vehicle to drive to first-born’s after a simple day of peace and tranquility, this song echoed in my mind.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
 ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d, 
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight, 
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right. ~ Lyrics by Joseph Brackett 

A simple visit to a simple place. It caused me to turn ’round right for the rest of our trip.

Simplicity. You can find it, if you try. 

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Drawing the line

blogIMG_2718.jpgI’m one of those people who do it. Read between the lines. Sometimes I may be off in my assessment by doing so, but often I’m right on the mark.

But you know what? I’d rather you just give it to me straight so I don’t have to analyze what you’ve said or even attempt to read between the lines.

Be upfront. Honest. To use an old 60’s motto, tell it like it is.

Because if you’re not straightforward, your lines often are just that – lines.

And when I can’t believe what you say, I’d rather not even try.

When I was a child, we often chanted an old saying, “Liar, liar, pants on fire. Nose as long as a telephone wire.”

I guess we were referencing Pinocchio whose nose kept growing longer and longer every time he told a lie. So if your nose was as long as a telephone wire, wow, did you ever tell a whopper!

Lying is one thing I really can’t tolerate. Lying breaks any assemblance of trust you may have had in another person and shreds it to nothing. It leaves a devastating sense of betrayal in its wake.

I think back a few years to witnessing someone tell bold face lies without any regrets or remorse. How can anyone with a conscience at all do that? It boggles my mind.

And that’s when I chose to draw my own lines – lines in the sand, so to speak – because those lines of deception infuriated me and it took every ounce of self-control I had not to retaliate.  I haven’t nor will I cross over the line with a person who practices such duplicity. 

I won’t treat the deceiver badly because I know as a believer in Christ, I’m to live my life exhibiting the fruit of the spirit. If you’re not familiar with these ‘fruits,’ you can find them in The Bible in the book of Galatians, Chapter 5, verses 22-23. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I can show all of those gracious attributes to the one who feeds my loved ones or me lines of deceit by not reacting in anger or revenge, but in order to protect myself from losing self-control, I also must  draw the line.

Cut off communication. Go my own way. Discontinue having conversations with the person who chooses to deceive and spew lies.

It’s called setting boundaries. Dividing lines. Creating space between two people where there really needs to be space.

As a believer, I know I must practice self-control and that’s why I draw that imaginary line in the sand between myself and someone who causes distress to someone I care about or me. That line, that boundary, protects us from the one who has no self-control but attempts to manipulate others and distort the truth.

It doesn’t mean I can’t forgive the transgression. But I don’t have to continue a relationship with that person.

Drawing that line and setting a healthy and godly boundary demonstrates that I’m not giving the offending person the opportunity to besiege me with more ill treatment.  It’s not wrong to set boundaries with someone who causes harm and destruction when reconciliation isn’t possible.

The poet Robert Frost once wrote: “The middle of the road is where the white line is – and that’s the worst place to drive.”

I find that to be true. I don’t enjoy drawing the line but I’ve found it necessary to determine where I stand.  Choosing the middle of the road won’t prevent the one who spreads deceit and hurtfulness from continuing to damage relationships.  I don’t have to read between the lines to see that.

“Sometimes you have to, as I say, build bridges where you can – but draw lines where you must.” ~ Fred Thompson

This week’s photo challenge theme was lines

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Lit up by litter

blogIMG_3991.jpgI apologize ahead of time, but if you clicked into Mama’s Empty Nest today for some encouraging words, I’m not sure you will find them. Instead, please bear with me while I go on a bit of a rant. And yes, I am remembering all too well my post from Tuesday about giving others grace, but I still have to get this out of my system.

Mama’s Empty Nest is situated along a country road.  Yes, we are rural – living a few miles outside of our nearest towns – but we’re not isolated. The two-lane state road that weaves past our house is well-traveled with local traffic and leads to an interchange for the four-lane highway taking one to the city.

Living in the country though we still have some ills of more populated areas. One of those is litter. Just the other day we were following an SUV on our byway when not only paper was flung out the vehicle window but a black plastic garbage bag as well. I was shocked at such blatant actions. 

And litter is a problem in our own yard, which is expansive – about 2.4 acres – and fronts the road.  I can’t tell you how many times we have had to pick up someone else’s trash thrown into our yard.

You name it, it’s been there. Beer cans and bottles, pop (soda) bottles, plastic water bottles, fast food wrappers and cups, plastic bags, all kinds of paper (once even a doctor’s instructions for a patient), cardboard boxes, you get the idea.

It’s annoying and Papa resorts to asking why people can be such pigs when he has to climb off his lawn tractor while mowing the yard to pick up other’s refuse. Don’t they have trash cans at home?

Earlier this week, before the rain, we had a glorious, sunshine-filled, warm spring day. Little One (my three-year-old granddaughter) and I enjoyed the afternoon outside soaking up the sun, examining the leaf buds on the trees, filling up the bird feeder, picking daffodils, and checking out the newly planted strawberry plants. 

I talked to her about spring and how the season changes things while we inspected the blueberry and raspberry bushes to see if there were signs of revitalization there.

Before we went back inside for a drink of cool water, we decided to walk to the mailbox and retrieve the mail and the day’s newspaper. On the way, I spied trash in our yard again. And then I had to deliver a little lesson to Little One about not throwing trash anywhere but the trash receptacle, even if some people don’t adhere to that lesson.

I’m human – far from perfect – and I have to confess it angered me to find garbage in our yard but I found it even more infuriating when I picked up the discarded item and saw what it was.

An empty cigarette box. But not just any cigarette package. No…it was from ‘organic’ cigarettes. Really? You purchase organic cigarettes because somehow they are healthier? Give me a break. Even the package had a disclaimer saying “No additives in our tobacco does NOT make a safer cigarette.”

If I’m stepping on some of my reader’s toes because you have succumbed to the habit of smoking, I understand you might get a little cross with me. But let me explain something. I abhor smoking. I detest it. I’m one of those people who literally…Can. Not. Stand. It.

If I’m around cigarette smoke, my nasal passages revolt, my sinuses go haywire, my throat starts to constrict, and I feel like I cannot breathe. And that leads to something akin to a panic attack. I must escape to find some fresh, clean air.

That’s why I rejoiced when restaurants and other public places became smoke-free.

I have a difficult time understanding why folks continue (or start) lighting up with all the information we now know about the health hazards of cigarette smoking.  

If you want to cause yourself and your family harm from doing so, it’s your choice. It is your business. I get that. Just please don’t do it in my presence for my health’s sake and stop throwing your discarded cigarette packages in my yard.

If I sound harsh, I’m sorry but unless you have a physical aversion to cigarette smoke like I do, you probably don’t understand.

And here’s the ironic kicker.  In addition to the trash in our yard being an organic cigarette package, I found the information printed on the back of the package satirical:

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“RESPECT FOR THE EARTH. Reducing Waste. Our dedicated manufacturing facility is a 100% zero-waste-to-landfill operation, recycling and repurposing all waste – absolutely nothing ends up in a landfill.”

Apparently the company producing these things attempts to be “green.” But here’s the thing – your packages end up in my yard. Obviously, the end user of your product doesn’t respect the earth while throwing it out the car window.

Nor is the person respecting my little piece of earth.

“All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…” ~ Otis Redding (who wrote the lyrics to Respect)

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Laundry lesson

blogIMG_3986Do you ever just get bone weary of doing the same task over and over again? Day in, day out. Week in, week out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out.

If you’re anything like me, you do. Often times, I just need some change in my life instead of the same old, same old, you know?

I thought about this while doing the laundry last week. Laundry is never finished, is it? It’s the same chore over and over again.

For over 40 years, the Papa of this empty nest has worn white T-shirts. As newly-marrieds, my hubby wore those white tees under his Army fatigues.

After his Army days and for the next couple of decades, he continued wearing white tees under his crisply starched dress shirts worn with a business suit. And even though his business days are over, he still wears those white cotton tees.

So for 40 years, they land in our laundry hamper the way he puts them In there – inside out. Always. No matter how many times I’ve admonished asked him to please put them in right side out, he manages to forget.

And come laundry day, there they are – those inside out tee shirts.

What’s the big deal, you ask? I’ve spent a good bit of time in those 40 years of doing laundry removing those tees from the dryer and folding them. But before I can accomplish that task, I must make them right, turning the inside where it belongs – inside. Every time. Every T-shirt.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that Papa can and sometimes does do his laundry himself so he must be the turner of tees then. But more often than not, this chore falls upon me.

Last week was no exception. There was a large load of whites to be laundered. And the bulk of it consisted of those white T-shirts….which I had to turn right side out again.

You know how people often say God works in mysterious ways? Well, often times he works in the everyday ordinary ways for this gal. He gets my attention in ways others may find peculiar and gives me food for thought with the most commonplace events.  

He takes the mundane and turns it into the extraordinary in my thoughts. And almost always teaches me a lesson I needed to learn.

What does all of this have to do with laundering and correctly folding my husband’s white T-shirts?

While I was righting those inside out shirts again for the millionth time, I started getting annoyed with my husband. When he strips off those shirts and dunks them in the clothes hamper, why are they always inside out? Why can’t he remember to turn them back the right way so I don’t have to or at least take them off so they’re not inside out?

Why? Why? Why? How many times must I do this task of making them right? Over and over again.

And that’s when the Lord stopped me in my raving rant.  Halted me in my tracks of tirade.

How many times has the Lord righted our wrongs? Does He look down upon us humans and think, “There they go again. Committing the same transgressions! How many times must I forgive them when they turn their lives inside out? How many times must I set them on the right path – again?”

I know He doesn’t lose His patience with us. I know He doesn’t get annoyed with us even though we are not faithful to follow Him. Even though He must listen to us whine about the same old issues in our prayers.

How many times does He forgive our transgressions and faults and calls them forgiven once and for all because of what Jesus did on the cross for us? He continues to forgive us when we fall yet again and commit another wrong. 

How many times has He shown me grace…and mercy…and love? He never grows tired of me and my same old issues but lovingly corrects me and sets me straight.

Again and again. Day in, day out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out.

And shouldn’t I offer this same grace to my husband? Again and again. Over and over. Even while righting the inside out.

“To forgive for the moment is not difficult. But to go on forgiving, to forgive the same offense every time it recurs to the memory – there’s the tussle.” ~ C.S. Lewis

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Life’s piano

blogIMG_3977.jpgToday is  the last day of the 3 Day, 3 Quote Challenge. I enjoyed participating and adding a little tweak to the challenge by using my own photographs to accompany each quote and adding another related quote at the end of each post.

Thank you again to my blogging friend Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul who sent me the original challenge.

I nominate any of you fellow bloggers out there to accept the challenge and pass it on.

Happy Quoting!

“Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” ~ Tom Lehrer

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Wednesday with words

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I’m taking a little deviation from the norm on this Wednesday and posting a photo with words instead of my usual Wordless Wednesday. I agreed to the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge extended to me by my blogging buddy Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul. Thank you again, Yamina, for nominating me.

If you missed my post yesterday, click here to read more. In order to fulfill the rules of this challenge, I’d like to nominate any of my blogging friends willing to take up the gauntlet of posting three quotes for three days in a row. You don’t have to use photos like I did, just post quotes if you’d like.

Marrying my love for quotes with my photography hobby has been fun and more challenging for me.

I captured this photo near Asheville, North Carolina one summer in the early evening. I remember how well the sun’s rays radiated through the clouds in this photo and I knew it was a perfect fit for the Corrie Ten Boom quote.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian whose family hid Jews in their closet during World War 2 helping them escape from the terror of the Holocaust, spoke volumes about her faith in this quote. 

She knew firsthand how to let God’s promises overcome her problems. Both she and and her sister were imprisoned by the Nazis in a concentration camp for their actions, and at least one of her family members died in prison if I recall correctly.

“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”  ~ Dwight L. Moody

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Don’t sit on the cactus

blogIMG_3238I kind of take issue with cacti.

First of all, I have a problem with this species of plant. You know how lots of folks possess ‘green thumbs’ and can just grow and nurture plants so that they are beautifully healthy and vibrant?

Well, I’m not one of those. I tend to call myself a ‘black thumb.’ Not even a brown thumb –  nope,  a black thumb because every plant I’ve ever tried growing indoors succumbs to the black death. Done for. No blooming, no green leaves, nothing, nada…well, you get the picture.

And my uncanny knack of killing indoor plants even extends itself to cacti. I mean, seriously, who kills a cactus? It doesn’t need much attention. It doesn’t get too upset if you forget to water it because it isn’t a thirsty thing. It thrives under adverse conditions. Well, under my care, cacti croak. Big time. 

So I stay away from the spiny little plants that you can keep inside your home, even though some of them are kind of attractive and even bloom lovely flowers.

And I really take a wide berth around those plants when it comes to outdoor cacti. Those things are downright dangerous!

Having grown up in the northeast, I truly wasn’t too familiar with any kind of cactus until shortly after Papa and I were married. Forty years ago we moved to Oklahoma where Papa served in the military. 

We lived in the Sooner State for a few years and my sister, brother-in-law, and their family also just so happened to live a couple hours north of us. Where their ranch was located, some cacti grew on their property. 

I knew they were prickly and not to touch one lest you get stabbed by their spiky spines. Now my sis and brother-in-law were also transplants from our neck of the woods so they weren’t exactly experts on cacti either.

Before I continue this story, I must tell you right up front that my brother-in-law is like an older brother to me. He’s been a part of our family for almost as long as I can remember. And so, when I was younger, he often treated me the way you would a kid sister with teasing and joking around.

My brother-in-law, the jokester, once surprised my mom by picking her up and sitting her in the kitchen sink when she was certain he wouldn’t dare do such a thing. So he’s always been the kind of guy that could give us a good laugh.

Back to my cactus story. On a visit to see my relatives, we were all walking around their  property and noticed some flat paddle-shaped cacti growing here and there. Paddle-shaped. That must have given Brother-in-law the idea that it might be funny to pick one up and slap my backside with it, like you would use a paddle.

Oh, mercy.

What he didn’t realize was that those little hair-like profusions of spiny things sticking out on the cactus wouldn’t just give me a sharp little jab like he thought they would, but would actually penetrate my clothing and with needle-like sharp precision stick in my skin underneath my clothing, much like I imagine porcupine quills or darts would. Lots of tiny cactus spines. In my backside. Uh-huh.

He was mortified to say the least. And without exposing too much information, my sister had to utilize tweezers to relieve me of my painful affliction.

Now, you may understand why I don’t get too chummy with a cactus, no matter what it looks like.

So, back in February, Papa and I visited this same sister and brother-in-law in their new home in the Arizona desert.  Where there are lots of cacti. And some crazy plant that is called a “jumping” cactus; its real name is Jumping Cholla.

They aren’t huge things like the Saguaro and the Chollas are kind of cute. Some are even called Teddy Bear Cholla. But beware of their ‘cuteness’ because their needles are extremely sharp and have hundreds of microscopic scales.

So if you happen to walk by one and faintly brush up against it, you will be one sorry person.  The pods containing the needles detach and spring onto you and are apparently quite painful and very hard to remove.

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Jumping Chollas in the Arizona desert

Ouch! Sister and Brother-in Law were careful to warn us about these scary cacti because they were fairly abundant in their area. You can be certain when we were ATV riding on desert trails, I was making darn sure no part of my body or clothing was sticking out close enough to one of those bad babies.

Of course, the old, crazy cactus paddling story came up in our conversation during our visit. And we laughed and laughed over it. Because honestly, it is funny. 

As I recall all of this, it occurs to me that I could be negative about my up close and personal encounter with a cactus all those years ago and hold it against my brother-in-law. But what purpose would that serve? He didn’t intentionally try to hurt me nor would he ever do so. I love him like he is my blood brother and I do believe he cares for me like a sister.

All of this to say that I found myself amused this week when a Facebook friend posted this quote:

“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Last Sunday morning in worship, our pastor reminded us to that to love someone as Christ loves us is to keep short accounts. To not dwell on the wrongs that have been done to you. Especially if the offender asks forgiveness, and even if he/she never does. 

When you embrace a negative attitude about your situation in life or towards another person who may truly have done something almost unforgivable to you, it just makes your own life that much more challenging. More complicated. More grueling.

Who wants that? Not me. So I’m not sitting on any cactus that comes my way. Are you?

 “Life is like a cactus, thorny but beautiful.” ~ Unknown

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Three years later

Three years ago this month, I had no idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Maybe we need Pollyanna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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