If life’s a game of monopoly, I want to be the shoe

blogIMG_1348What is life?  That’s The $64,000 Question.

Edwin Arlington Robinson said, “Life is the game that must be played.”

So if that’s true, then here’s how I see it.

First in the game of Life, a certain Sequence is followed, and lo and behold, we are born!  We spend some time in the Cribbage, thinking we have quite the Monopoly because the world appears to revolve around our little selves.

Just about the time we believe life is a proverbial Candy Land,  we are sent off to school where some of us finally start using our Cranium and some of us just think the whole idea is Balderdash.  Usually those of us who think school is just a Pit end up getting in Trouble more often than not.

But if you separate yourself from the rest of the Barrel of Monkeys, you might find you Go to the Head of the Class. Instead of being Sorry that you didn’t have a Clue what to do with yourself, those who do well in school can climb up Chutes and Ladders of success.

Realizing studying is not just Trivial Pursuit, we venture out in search of jobs that will give us a good Pay Day.  Some of us spin the Wheel of Fortune.   We buy a car, a house, and other stuff just because The Price Is Right.

After a while, we get weary of being Uno and aren’t crazy about ending up as an Old Maid so we take the Risk of finding our soul mate to marry.  For some people, searching for a spouse in the Dating Game may feel like Go Fish, for others it might seem like a Mouse Trap, but when you find the right person, you won’t even Flinch.

A perfect Match Game has been found and you’re off to the Newlywed Game.  Married life is quite an Operation.  At times if feels like Battleship, and you may Scrabble often with each other.   But after a time, you and your spouse will see things like Apples to Apples.

Children are added to the mix and you may become a family of Connect Four or even Crazy Eights.   Sometimes life seems like a great big Family Feud.  At times you think you’re going Bunco, but at other times, life seems near Perfection. Often as your kids are growing up, your life is like Twister, so busy and mixed up, but before you know it, they become adults, move out and your family becomes Scattergories.

At this point, you have the time to ponder and Imaginiff your life were different.  You’ve worked hard and you’ve loved even harder and all of a sudden that Taboo thought comes into your head – you’re getting old!

At some point you’re going to reach Phase 10, and when you do, Your Number’s Up.

“You play the hand you’re dealt with.  I think the game’s worthwhile.” ~ C.S. Lewis

And you believe that’s true, the game of life is definitely worth the effort,  you wouldn’t Skip-Bo any of it!

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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A Birthday Letter for Middle Daughter

 

My beautiful daughter at 25

My beautiful daughter at 25

I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing on this day 25 years ago.  I could explain all the details and give you a play-by-play on the events of that day, but I’m taking a different trail today.

Today, you see, is a milestone.   Today my middle daughter turns 25.  I’m not sure she is that pleased about her age, but I want her to see herself through her mama’s eyes, to see what a blessing she’s been to me for 25 years.  So this post is addressed to you, dear middle daughter, on the occasion of your birthday.

Your older sister was three when you made your appearance into this world.  The three of us, Mama, Daddy, and Sissy waited all through a long, hot, and very muggy summer for you to arrive and then you decided to make us wait an extra week!  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was to finally be in labor early in the morning of September 8.

From the first moment we laid eyes on you, you were a joyful addition to our family.  Sister had someone to love, play with and boss around.  Mama received another beautiful baby to love, cuddle, and nurture.  Daddy gained another little girl to cherish and rock back to sleep at night, taking little snoozes together on the recliner.  You were a happy, contented, pleasant baby full of smiles and giggles.

Babyhood turned into the toddler stage all too quickly and the meaning of your given name, which means “lively,” fit you to a tee.  You were oh so busy all the time, not content to sit quietly watching “Sesame Street” like your sister.  Oh no, you had to be doing something at all times!  Climb up the huge, high sliding board at the park?  No problem.  Run and jump and take in everything there is to see?  Absolutely!   With excitement and wonder and gibberish.

You developed your own little language complete with inflections and hand gestures and none of us could decipher it, yet you regaled us with hysterically funny stories.  We just didn’t know what they meant.  But you did.  Two French fries or even two crayons would suddenly be involved in an intense conversation in a language unknown to anyone but you.   And you would laugh heartily and be delighted in what they had to say, whatever it was.

You welcomed your baby brother with gusto when you were two and a half.  You loved him, wanted to hold him, and wanted me to attend to him at the slightest squeak that he made.  You never seemed jealous that there was a new baby in the house.  On the contrary, you were thrilled to have another person to have fun with, and your sweet nature prevailed.

Time to venture to pre-school arrived.  Prior to that, you asked me two questions every morning: “Where daddy go?”  To work.  And “Where Sissy go?” To school.  Oh, the excitement of getting to go to school too, where you could learn and be busy as a bee and social as a butterfly!

School years flew by and we could always count on two things: you always did your best at school and everyone, teachers and students alike, absolutely adored you.  Your cheerful and positive attitude always were your assets.  Even when there were struggles, you marched forward and persevered and had fun on the way.

Being the middle child of our family was never a detriment to you; instead it uncovered  some of your finest strengths.  You learned the fine art of diplomacy and compromise and settled many a backseat argument with a mature, “Can’t we just figure out a way to get along?”

I will never forget a disagreement a friend had with you on the school playground.  You demonstrated maturity way beyond your years when you approached her and said, “On the road to friendship, we’ve taken the wrong turn.”

Friendships came easy for you back then and everyone in your classes wanted to be your friend because they knew it was a treasure to behold.   Your kind and compassionate heart befriended the unlovable, including a special needs child in your class who got along with no one, except you. She listened to you, looked up to you, and loved you with all her heart.

You strived to do your best whether it was learning a new dance, doing a one-hand cartwheel in gymnastics, or learning goal-keeping skills at soccer.   You developed a devout love for reading and still can be seen with a book in your possession.  Athletics, math, singing, and acting were activities in which you shined.   And to us, you were always our glimmering star!

Moving back to mama’s homeland brought a few difficulties for you.  For some reason, cultivating friendships wasn’t as effortless as it was before.   You learned you had to stand up for your convictions and your beliefs and that wasn’t easy.  But you stood firm, even when you were talked about behind your back and ridiculed for your godly decisions.  Your sensitive and sweet heart got trampled on more than one occasion.  But God used those difficult years to strengthen and prepare you for things you had yet to encounter. I think He knew He had to make a warrior out of you.

Daddy and I were very proud of you graduating from high school with honors and participating in so many activities where you devoted your all whether it was on stage in school musicals or on the soccer playing field trying to vie for a playing spot amid a field of boys.  The frustrations you endured and the injuries you incurred didn’t make you surrender; they just made you more determined.

Your college years were harder yet. You faced disappointments – and there were more than your fair share – but you chose to show your mettle instead of giving up and you earned that Bachelor of Science in Nursing with lots of hard, diligent work.  And again, you relied on your Savior to carry you through the difficult times.

The Lord bestowed upon you a heart for those less fortunate than you and provided opportunities to bless those on mission trips to the Navajo people, to the poor and needy in Mexico, and to those devastated by hurricane Katrina.  As always, the children in those areas were drawn to you and adored you for your free-spirited sense of fun and play, but most of all, your sweet and loving ways.

As you begin another year of life, I pray for God to bless you and always lead you where He wants you to go.  My daughter, you have bloomed and blossomed into the most gorgeous of creatures. 

God uses your compassion for others and your servant heart each day as you minister to the sick and weary in their hospital rooms.

As much as the Lord has blessed others through you, He has blessed me even more for He allowed me to be your Mama.  Daughter, you are loved beyond measure.  Happy 25th Birthday, my dear one!

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” ~Zephaniah 3:16-18 (New International Version)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Rambling About Retiring

blogScan_0170429 (21)Dreaming of retirement?  Apparently you can make all those dreams come true if you read articles about retirement.

But most of them address only the financial aspect of this stage of life, it seems to me.

My mind’s been roaming and roving around on a tangent about this milestone in life because I have a friend who recently retired.  What sounds like bliss to the rest of us, who still must endure the daily grind, isn’t exactly idyllic to her, and she is struggling with the day-to-day aspect of retirement.  I know she will eventually discover her way on this path because she is one smart cookie.  But for now, retirement is a considerable adjustment for her.

I remember when my father retired.  My mother, who was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker extraordinaire, confessed to me that Dad was driving her nuts!  He was accustomed to a job that kept him “on the go” all day; Mom was used to her daily routine at home which did not involve jumping in the car at the drop of a hat to “go somewhere.”  It  took some time, but soon they adjusted to this new phase of their lives.

I’m the “baby” of my family, the youngest of three sisters.  My oldest sister and brother-in-law just retired.  They closed the doors of their business with finality and for now are traveling around the country in their RV and enjoying time with their children and grandchildren.  They are deliberating about spending winters in Arizona and perhaps heading back here to the homeland for summer time.

My other sister and brother-in-law are also living the “easy life.”  After years of hard work, they are taking pleasure in this time of relaxation and respite.  They keep busy with hobbies, interests, and friends and seem content doing so.  They have a first grandchild due to make an entry into the family near the end of this year, so they will be morphing into grandparent-hood shortly.

My hubby and I are not approaching retirement age quite yet.  Matter of fact, the economic prognosis in our country right now makes retirement for us seem like an almost unobtainable goal, remotely existing in the distant future.   I just researched a government website for information on when you can retire and take full social security retirement benefits.  For most of us baby boomers, the magic age is 66.  For my hubby, who is only one year younger than me, it is 66 plus two months.  Of course, you can retire earlier if you want, you just don’t receive full benefits.  Hubby and I pessimistically think by the time we are ready to retire, social security will be insolvent, and we’ll probably get nothing.  Sounds dismal, doesn’t it?

I suppose that’s why a good portion of retirement advice dwells on finances.  But it also occurs to me that many of these article writers assume everyone wants to live “lifestyles of the rich and famous.”   Do they all suppose we want to sell our current homes and retire to some exotic island where we can purchase a villa — smaller of course than what they think we own now, but way more expensive?  They must believe we desire to travel “around the world in 80 days” and then do it again every year after that.

Of course, I believe if you have the money, the inclinations, and good health in your retirement years, why not live it up?  You deserve to enjoy that period of your life.

But if you are anything like me, you might just want to live a simple life instead.  Sure, throw in a couple of fun trips to wherever you’ve always dreamed of visiting.  But for the most part, enjoy the freedom to indulge in your hobbies and interests.  Enjoy spending time with your family.  Enjoy friends.  Give back by volunteering at some place that really needs your help and expertise.  Learn something new.  Share your godly wisdom you learned on this journey in life with those who can benefit from it.   Teach your grandchildren things they won’t otherwise learn.

There’s a wacky study, performed by some psychologists from one of those places in academia, that says retirees do not find their happiness spending time with their children and grandchildren.  I say,  “Bunk!”

Naturally, I don’t adhere to the belief that your progeny should provide your only source of happiness, but I do think we gain much, much joy from our family ties.  So I don’t think retirement should be time for complete self-absorption.

To me, retirement is your time to spread your wings and fly if you can.   But also ground yourself from time to time with those you love the most on this earth.   This Mama is hopeful that once retirement comes for us,  the empty nest will still be open,  waiting to be filled up from time to time with young birds’ visits and maybe someday, grandbaby birdies too.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The Glory of Love

Someone once wrote,  “Love isn’t love til you give it away.”

Love.   A myriad of works of literature, be it poems, plays, essays or novels, has been written on the subject of love.  

It is the theme of countless musical lyrics and the angst of many a late night discussion.  I’m pretty sure that there are close to 700 references to love in my guidebook for life — God’s Holy Word, the Bible.

In the English language, we only have one word for this emotion, which is such a shame because there are so many manifestations of love.  But before I digress from the idea swirling around in my mind,  today I want to share thoughts on romantic love and weddings.

I haven’t read much Shakespeare since a class on his works way back in college, but one line from his play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” found a permanent little niche in my brain.   “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind….”  There’s more to the line, but that’s the part I remember.

When I think of romantic love, this quote personifies true love to me.   True love is as deep as the fathoms of the ocean and is vastly different than infatuation, which is like the shallow edge blogIMG_2005of the shoreline, where the waves rush in and knock you flat on your can, then just as quickly rush back out and leave you sitting in a pile of quickly shifting sand.

True love takes time.  True love involves mind and soul, not just body.  True love is precious, something to be revered and guarded and cherished.   And true love lasts for a lifetime.

It’s been my privilege to attend a couple of weddings this past year, one just yesterday.  My son was a groomsman in the first and best man in the recent one.  I marvel that both of these grooms, close friends of my son,  are now mature men, with college degrees in hand, careers already initiated, goals planned, and now each has chosen a lovely partner for life, a wife.

Both of these young men have lounged in my family room over the years, engrossed in video games; watched tons of movies on our TV; played games with our family, and slept on our couch.    The groom in yesterday’s wedding has been a part of our lives for quite some time; he’s like another member of our family.

In my son’s best man toast, he even joked that the two of them have been like twins.  My son and the groom have shared a friendship since 7th grade.  They’ve gone to school together, played sports together, celebrated and commiserated with each other,  and were college roommates.

So it was with great happiness my husband and I watched this particular young man exchange his wedding vows with his beautiful bride yesterday.  Wedding celebrations are naturally joyful.  I’ve attended several weddings in my day, but never have I witnessed more meaningful nuptials than these last two ceremonies.

What made both of these weddings so very special was that both young couples are believers in Christ and they made their relationship with Him a vital and integral part of their wedding service.  Jesus Christ was definitely at the center of these two weddings.

Yesterday, it seemed like Jesus was standing in the lovely, flower bedecked gazebo with the bride and groom, nodding His head in approval, exuding His love to these beautiful children of His, and showering His blessings on their union. 

And that made an amazing difference.  The marriage rituals were sacred; it wasn’t just two young people repeating words, saying “yeah, yeah, I do” so they could run off to live together legally.

Amid overcast skies and even a rain shower, love radiated like sunbeams from these two betrothed.   I am positively convinced the two of them are experiencing true love, the kind of love that looks not just with the eyes, but with the mind and soul.

There’s a reason a wedding is called holy matrimony.  God created marriage.   Jesus told us in the book of Mark, chapter 10:  “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

He desires that we put Him at the very center of this sacred relationship.   Wise married couples do just that.

So I don’t just offer words of congratulations to this special newlywed couple, I offer prayers of thanksgiving because they know Jesus personally, prayers of hope that they continue to put Him first, and prayers of blessing for love that lasts a lifetime.

Yoked in holy matrimony with a fellow believer in Christ,  Jesus at the center of that relationship, and love that lasts for a lifetime — that’s my prayer for my own children as well.   And that’s the glory of love. ♥

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Milestone Musings

blogDSCN8033“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  ~ Psalm 100

The month of July, and it’s been July for 20 days now, has been making me meditate on some things.  I’ve realized that I’ve passed some major milestones lately.

Youngest child, who is definitely not a child but a very grown up man, graduated from college this spring.  Milestone passed: check.

One more birthday silently crept up on me and let’s just say it has brought me to the “down slide” half of the 50’s, kicking and screaming all the way!  Milestone passed: check.

Young adult children moving out of our home and into new and exciting lives of their own.  Milestone passed:  getting pretty darn close, give or take a couple of weeks.

Five-year mark of cancer-free living after that dreaded diagnosis.  Milestone passed: hopefully check to come after my next doctor’s appointment soon.

One year of feeling like an orphan.  Milestone passed:  at the end of this month, it will have been one year since my last living parent journeyed home to see Jesus.

Which brings me to the point of this entry, that milestone is hard.  That day is not gonna be easy for me.  This year has not been easy for me, but that is something we call life, ladies and gentlemen.  Life is hard.  Period.  But we have hope and a future as believers in Christ.  And for that I am joyful and I am grateful and I am going to sing — LOUDLY — praises to my King!

So instead of feeling sad beyond measure on the anniversary of my father’s physical death and crawling back into bed to cover up my head and wish the day away, which is what I know I will feellike doing, I’m choosing to celebrate.  I’m celebrating that my Savior died to save me.  I’m celebrating that my Savior has prepared a place for me in glory where I will be reunited with my loved ones.

AND I’m celebrating new beginnings and glorious young love at the wedding of my son’s friend that very weekend!  I will watch this lovely young couple begin their marriage with joy.  I will observe my son stand beside his friend as his best man supporting these two as they enter into holy matrimony, and oh what a day that will be!  This is the day that the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com