It’s the best day of the year

blogIMG_0354Glistening snow wraps the rolling landscape around my home in winter white.  Traffic is practically non-existent on the country road that meanders in front of our house.   All is quiet as we sit snugly and warm inside our wintry snow globe world.

Tranquility reigns inside our house as well, but each room appears stark and barren since the Christmas decorations and fa-la-la-ery are packed away for another year-long wait. 

The family is spread hither and yon once again, the bedrooms empty of suitcases and laughter.  The showers are silent and even the dishwasher has been given a little reprieve. 

Mama in her kerchief and Dad in his cap settle in for the winter, along with a yawn or two from Callie, the calico cat, who occasionally rises from her naps to wander through the house in search of a warm lap to curl upon.

Another New Year has arrived.

Last year, New Year’s Day dawned with a sense of excitement and anticipation with the knowledge that there would be three weddings to plan.  But last year is now history and those joy-filled moments we all experienced are now sweet memories.

blogIMG_0313Sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of tea, I glance outside at the winter landscape and think how the pure white blanket of untouched fallen snow resembles blank pages of this new year stretched ahead of me.

What will I write about this year? What events and thoughts shall I chronicle? 

These words from my ever-growing notebook of quotes seem fitting to describe my contemplations on this New Year’s Day: 

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.  And to make an end is to make a beginning.” ~ T.S. Eliot.

It’s true – last year’s language overflowed with wedding joy.  And while the weddings have ended, my children’s new lives as married couples have just begun. 

And I think to myself that  I must also welcome new beginnings and this year’s words need a different voice.

I’m not a maker of resolutions.  I never keep them, and frankly, get bored trying to keep them.  Instead, I approach life as it comes and if I resort to any resolve at all, it is to live the day better than I did the day before.

I also don’t make bucket lists.  There are just too many things in the world to see, to do, to experience and it overwhelms me to even think about making such a list.  But I do make lists, just lists of things to do each day, things to accomplish, things to finish.  And I relish crossing those things off my list with gusto.

Two years ago on New Year’s Day, I choose to write with a distinct purpose in mind for 2011.  I envisioned that year as an open book of opportunity and decided to address each blog post in that vein with each day a page in each of the 12 chapters (months).  If you missed that, you may read about it by clicking here.

I considered reopening my book called Opportunity again to serve as a steering wheel while I navigate through the coming year.  But I’ve come to realize I enjoy changes, variety, spice in life, so a different impetus must propel my blog forward into the next 12 months.

So in what direction should I aim my writing this year?  With a blank page in my to-do lists and an even blanker page in the new book entitled 2013, I turned to my guidebook for life, my Bible, God’s Word.

And the pages so easily fall to my favorite scripture of all.  My guiding words.  My life verse, if you will.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Be joyful.  Not just on wedding days, but every day.

Pray continually.  Not just at night before you go to sleep, but throughout the day as the Spirit prompts. 

Give thanks in all circumstances.  Not just for things, events, or occurrences that are favorable – those you like –  but for all things, even if they prove difficult. 

For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.   My joy does not depend on my circumstances, it depends on my relationship with my Savior.

And what has He done for me?  Too much to even attempt to relate, but He has given me life, both this one and one to come.  And He has given me a New Year to live better than I have before.

A new blank page upon which to write the blessings of each day. 

“That’s it!” I thought.  Another quote jumped off my quotes notebook page and shouted, “Look at me!  This is what you must do:”

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And so I begin writing on my heart that this fresh, sparkling, new first day of January, 2013 is the best day in the year.  Why?   Because…

“Another fresh new year is here . . .

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear,

To love and laugh and give!

 

This bright new year is given me

To live each day with zest . . .

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!

 

I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!”

~ William Arthur Ward

Happy New Year from Mama’s Empty Nest!  May God grant you the opportunity to sing more joyful songs this year and see, as I hope to see, reasons why each day is the best day in the year.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Our three-act play comes to a close

blogIMG_0238If “all the world’s a stage,” as Shakespeare wrote in his comedy, As You Like It, then this past year – 2012 – proved to be a three-act play for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

Yes, this year was theatrical.  Many actors, who were family and friends, played their roles superbly.

The elaborate sets contained beautiful changes of scenery.

Costumes?  Oh yes, exquisitely adorned gowns and fancy suits of finery.

Makeup.   Flowers.  Hair design.  Lighting.  Music and dancing.

All of these aspects played a vital part in this theatrical endeavor.  Countless behind the scenes workers helped make the production successful.

The story, written by God, author of the universe, was a love story enacted in three parts. 

The plot contained several emotional ups and downs, particularly seen in the role of  The Mother. 

The dialogue consisted of promises and vows with a few speeches thrown in for good measure.

It was a long-running play, lasting for most of the year, but it garnered rave reviews.  All of the cast members received gifts and accolades as they took their bows at curtain call.

Principal cast members gathered for a cast party at Christmas to celebrate not only the Savior’s birth but the year of the play.   And they all counted the blessings received during this very special year.

As the footlights start to dim and the final curtain draws to a close on this amazing year, the play, The Year of the Weddings, also comes to an end.   What a wondrous year it has been!

But a brand new one awaits.  A year full of opportunity and fresh beginnings.  Tonight as we ring out the old year and ring in the new, The Year of the Weddings will become lodged in our memories and a new production will commence.

Tomorrow we open with a brand new performance, a “book” with 365 blank pages.  As I gaze upon tomorrow’s blank page and consider the pages to come, I intend to write a good “book.”   How about you?

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…” ~ William Shakespeare

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do you see what I see?

blogDSCN0265A new day.  A new year.  A new opportunity.  Isn’t that what New Year’s Day signifies?

For some, it’s the opportunity to make resolutions perhaps to commence a healthy diet, lose weight,  stop whatever bad habit they’ve acquired, or change some aspect of their lives.

For some, it’s a new beginning, time to put a year of difficulty or sadness or trial behind them.

For some, it’s just another day….whatever.

On January 1, here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we usually take down the festive Christmas trimmings that adorn our home inside and out.

Papa handles the outdoor lights and carefully stores them away for next year’s use.  I pack away the indoor garlands, lights, and other Christmas festoons.  Together we will tear down the tree and place the ornaments safely in their packages where they rest undisturbed until the day after Thanksgiving.

There’s something about clearing out the reminders of holiday festivities though that brings out a cleaning streak in me.  I get the urge to purge when January rolls around on the calendar.

Once the boxes of Christmas are stashed away, I want to clean the house top to bottom, closet by closet, room by room, and de-clutter.  I’ve been this way for as long as I’ve been married.   In the last few years though, I feel the intense desire to undertake all of this, but don’t always possess the energy to actually accomplish it all.  But I try.

This yearning to clean up and improve my physical surroundings reminded me of this quote from my trusty old notebook:

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” ~Ellen Goodman

Isn’t that the truth?  As I walk through my house after Christmas is over, room by room, I notice the things that need attended to, items to repair, unnecessary fluff to discard or pass on to someone who could truly use it.

But how often do I walk through the rooms of my life as that writer suggested?  Do I examine my heart, my actions, my words, and my motivation as closely as I scrutinize my house?

I liked Goodman’s last premise, “not looking for flaws, but for potential.”   I find it as easy to determine the flaws I harbor in my being as it is to identify imperfections in my home that require attention.   But this year I want to look earnestly for potential in my days… yes, I will say it, the opportunities.

Last year, I opened my book I called Opportunity on New Year’s Day.  Today on this first day in 2012, I’m still leafing my book open to prospects, but I’m adding another aspect.  I’m searching for the potential for joy each day of this new year.  No, strike that – I’m choosing joy each day this year.

Yes, that’s it!  I am choosing JOY.  And I’m taking a clue from Dr. Seuss when he wrote, “You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own and you know what you know.  And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

So it’s decided.  I’m opting for  joy.  I will examine each circumstance as it comes my way (and there will be many I’m sure!) and I will ask the Lord to show me JOY in the midst.

For years, I’ve claimed this scripture from the Holy Bible as my life verse:   “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Did you catch that?   Be.  Joyful.  Always.  Not just some of the time, not just when situations make me happy or conditions are right or surroundings are pleasant, but always. No matter the circumstances.

I know you might be shaking your head thinking, “Oh, wow, she’s crazy.  This is not going to be easy.”  You’re right, I know it.  But I’m still going to try and with God’s help and direction, with prayer and searching His Word, I’m setting sail on a journey of joy.  Who’s coming with me?

If you’re coming along, go back up and look at my picture at the top of the page.  Do you see the word “joy” like I do?  It’s written with sparklers on the right hand side.  It proves to me that all I have to do is look for joy and I’ll find it!

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Starting at the end

blogDSCN8418My year of writing in my book entitled Opportunity comes to a close today as this is the last page in the last chapter (Chapter 12, Page 31).

I opened Opportunity on New Year’s Day, 2011  and tonight at midnight on New Year’s Eve, this year of opportunity concludes.

In a few hours, 2011 will be relegated to the past.  It was a year to remember – a year our gracious Father God granted me to use as an opportunity to share my thoughts, my insights, my inspiration, and a bit of my life with you, my readers.

Some of you are the dearest of friends, some of you have become my friends even though we’ve never met face to face, and some of you I don’t know at all.   Regardless of your standing as my reader, I thank you for the privilege of entering your world via this blog.

I pray you’ve been blessed with a few laughs (I’ll admit I’m not much of a humor writer, but I am funny in person – at least I think so), some ideas to contemplate, and some perspectives that opened a few opportunities for you as well.

I believe God lovingly provides all of us new opportunities as surely as dawn breaks through each dark night into daylight.  What we do with those opportunities is ours to choose.

I ran across this poem one day and I placed it in my worn, dog-eared, trusty notebook of quotes.  But I’d like to share it with you, especially if you’re feeling discouraged or you’ve misplaced your hope or your dreams.

Opportunity

By Berton Braley

With doubt and dismay you are smitten,

You think there’s no change for you, son?

Why, the best books haven’t been written,

The best race hasn’t been run.

The best score hasn’t been made yet,

The best song hasn’t been sung,

The best tune hasn’t been played yet;

Cheer up, for the world is young!

Tomorrow we launch out into a brand new year, a new chance, a young world of opportunities.  I don’t make resolutions.  I’m not diligent in keeping them, but God has been showing me what I need to focus on.

I’m choosing how I will approach 2012 with a concept He’s placed in my heart and mind and I’ll share that with you in my next post and in the year to come.  Never fear, my signature book of Opportunity continues on, but there will be a new byword just for the new year.

So until then, Happy New Year!  May you be blessed in 2012 with much love, peace, and joy.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

What we call the beginning is often the end.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.” ~ T.S. Eliot

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Chapter One

blogIMG_0358A new day in a new year.  The thought is a little daunting.

An entire year lies ahead of me and I must find topics worthy to write about in my blog. Three hundred sixty-five blank pages await me.  With what will I fill those pages?

Lots of people make resolutions for the New Year, I don’t.   Oh, don’t misunderstand me.  There are many, many things in my life that need improvement.  But it’s not necessary to make resolutions to do that; I only need to borrow the old Nike theme, “Just Do It.”   So on this monumental day, 1-1-11, and in the days that follow, I will not blog about resolutions.

English writer G.K. Chesterton said: “The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.”   Of course, I should concentrate on having a healthy mind and body during this coming year, but I’m more concerned with my soul and the souls of others.

As I write my “book” in this blog, I feel certain that my observations about life will entail a lot of soul-searching as well.  I’m hopeful that my readers will join with me as I begin yet another journey.

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce, poet

Will you join me as we begin another opportunity?  Chapter One.  Page One.  January 1, 2011

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

pexels-photo-261485.jpegIt’s New Year’s Eve.  7:30 p.m.  It’s dark and it’s quiet here at my house.  In just a few hours, it will be 2011.

On the other side of the world, New Year’s Eve has come and gone.  That part of the globe has already begun 2011 – a brand new year.

The words of an old song keep rambling around my mind tonight – “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

“Maybe it’s much too early in the game
Aah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year’s
New Year’s eve?
Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year’s eve
Maybe I’m crazy to suppose
I’d ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You received
Aah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance:
What are you doing New Year’s
New Year’s Eve?”

I know who I’m spending New Year’s Eve with, the same person I’ve spent this holiday with for over three decades, my husband.  We’re spending a peaceful evening at home, just the way we like it.  For the younger set in the family, they are celebrating with friends.

It seems to me that so many people worry about having plans for New Year’s Eve.  But I think we should focus more on what plans we have for the entire new year which lies ahead, not just this evening.  I’m not suggesting making resolutions, which we end up breaking in a few weeks or months.

Instead I wonder what will those of us who are believers in Christ do to further His kingdom in the coming year?   How will we reach out to those who don’t know Him as their Savior and Lord of their lives? What shall we do to encourage those who are hurting and alone?

We’ve got an entire year ahead of us, God willing, to put some plans into practice.  So my question for myself and you is not “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?”   Instead it is “What are you doing in the new year?”

Happy New Year!

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com