That place called serenity

blogIMG_0334When you first see the word serenity, what thought comes to your mind?

Peace.  Tranquility.  Calmness.  That’s the pleasant path that word takes me down.  This past week, the photo challenge theme has been this word.  Serenity.

If serenity were a place, where would it be? 

For some, it might be seaside.  Basking in the sun on a sandy beach somewhere with the steady rhythmic roar of ocean waves lolling you to sleep.

For others, it might be standing on a mountain top after a long, strenuous climb just soaking in a magnificent view around you. 

Still others might find serenity in the midst of a deep wooded forest surrounded by grand towering trees where the only sound might be the gentle rustle of leaves when a whisper of wind comes along.   

Maybe serenity is found in your own backyard garden or thousands of miles away at your favorite vacation destination.  Serenity might not even be a real place but instead a spot that only exists in your imagination.

It started snowing this week, enough to accumulate a bit.  We haven’t had a lot of snow this winter season so far, not like some years.  Of course, winter isn’t ready to call it quits just yet.  Some of our biggest snowfalls in the last few years have descended upon us in February.

But snow silently falling on everything in sight gives me a peaceful feeling.  I love to watch snowflakes dance through the brisk, cold air and flit and float until they cover the world with that blanket of white.  I love to catch snowflakes and quickly inspect them to see if I can distinguish each different design before they melt from the heat of my outstretched, gloved hand.

There’s no doubt about it.  While some folks despise winter, I find solace in it.  I find peace.  I find tranquility.

Yes, I think you can find serenity in a season.  And for me, it’s winter.   Slowing down and hibernating a bit when the air turns cold brings a sense of peace.   A snowfall can turn a noisy, bustling day into one of quiet and solitude, temporarily bringing the craziness of life to a halt.   

blogIMG_4578Curled up under a fleecy throw with a hot cup of tea in the silence of an empty nest watching the world outside my window turn a fresh, clean white provides serenity. 

So can taking a peaceful walk on a snowy winter afternoon or evening, whether it’s here at my country home, down a wooded path, or even in a suburban neighborhood.

Serenity is where you find it.   I find it in prayer.  I find it in silence.  I find it even in the dead of winter.

What about you?  Where do you find serenity?  Is it a real place or just a state of mind?

“Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.”  ~ John Boswell


War of the clouds

blogDSCN7842This morning, I witnessed a battle scene.

The scene was so striking, it grabbed my attention and I could not take my eyes from it.   A dramatically painted picture  etched itself into my mind and didn’t leave my thoughts all day.

Summer time delivers many bright, sunny days of hot weather here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  In the last couple of days, some blessed rain blew in, shoving the high humidity out, resulting in more delightful temperatures and a sweet, refreshing breeze.

On my trek to work today,  I couldn’t stop staring at the sky.   As I buzzed down the highway, I noticed the fast-moving hedge of dark rain clouds streaking across the vista.   I continued watching them because they were speeding along like a freight train.

And that’s when I noticed that in one direction bits of fluffiness in the form of cottony clouds dotted blue sky and sunlight streamed through that part of the atmosphere.  But the sinister looking freight train was rolling through rapidly from the other direction!  The dark clouds, in their faster than a speeding bullet mode, collided and clashed with the bright side of the sky swiftly overtaking it  – simply annihilating it in the battle.

Those ominous clouds actually devoured the fleecy ones.   Darkness swallowed up the sunlight right before my eyes.   That scene unfolding in front of me reminded me about the stark reality of the world we live in.  Evil – the dark side, if you want to quote Star Wars – spreads its foul fingers wherever it goes trying to consume and ultimately destroy goodness or light.    And that happens each and every day here in our world, not just in movieland.

As a believer in Christ, I tend to view life in spiritual ways, especially when God paints such a vivid picture in my surroundings as He did this morning.   Witnessing those rain clouds slamming into sunshine reminded me that we need to be on guard, ever watchful for evil which can so easily overtake us.  But even more than that, we must be vigilant in prayer.

1 Peter 5:7-9  ~ “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Just yesterday, I was gifted with an opportunity to enjoy a short chat with a lovely fellow Christian who I haven’t seen for some time.  She’s enduring a difficult trial right now, yet amid her own heavy load, she inquired about my family and shared that she had been praying for us. Her face lit up with a smile and praise when I revealed how her prayers had been answered.

Conviction washed over me as I realized that I have not been as diligent in prayer for this dear one as she has been for me.  She disclosed to me that during this storm she feels such a strong sense of peace which she’s certain is from God.  Then she stated something that didn’t surprise me at all.   Several well-meaning people in her circle of friends told her she wasn’t being positive enough because she has accepted the difficulty laid before her and is meeting it with complete faith and trust in the God who has saved her.

People don’t get that, she told me.  They think she’s not “thinking positive” when she tells them she will meet whatever outcome God has in store for her and they don’t understand or like what she says.  As a realist myself, I totally get it.

There are certain events we encounter in life that just happen.   You can try to use the ‘power of positive thinking’ until the cows come home, but it might not change your circumstances. That doesn’t mean you must stop asking God for intervention, or healing, or a miracle, or whatever may help the situation.  But you also should beseech Him for the strength to endure, the ability to completely trust His will for you, and the peace that passes all understanding.

That’s faith.

The power of positive thinking alone can’t move the rain clouds away or stop them from coming just as it can’t protect me from evil touching my life.   The power of prayer to the God who is in control of the universe is a different story.   And the power of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, is the real source of the peace and strength needed to endure life as it comes.

This morning as I began my 9th page in Chapter 8 in my life’s book entitled Opportunity,  I’m certain my heavenly Father demonstrated these thoughts for me as I watched that war of clouds in the morning sky.

© 2011

Eye of the storm

hurricane-earth-satellite-tracking-71116.jpegIt’s quiet at our house today.   That’s nothing new.  Country living contributes to the lack of noise.

The stillness of the winter season makes it even quieter.  Snow blankets the ground and continues to fall each day.   We’re not really getting socked in with the snow storms other areas of the country have received, just a steady diet of the white stuff.

Our calico kitty hates the snow – won’t set one pretty paw in it.  So she passes her days nestled up in a furry ball, soundly sleeping in a few of her favorite spots around the house.  Even she seems subdued though,  content to just lounge and rest and occasionally utter her pathetic-sounding tiny “meee-ahh” when she desperately wants a kitty treat.

Of course, the empty-nesthood that is our home is noiseless except when hubby turns on the television to catch a favorite show or watch his James Bond movies on DVD.  So it seems incongruous that in the seeming tranquility of our home, I feel as though we are entrenched in the midst of a ferocious storm.

It’s not a physical storm that threatens us; it is a storm of disconcerting circumstances.  But that doesn’t make it any less painful or frightening or discouraging.  The suddenness of storms and the intensity of thunder, lightning, or bursts of gale-like winds often unnerve us.

Our middle daughter has always been terrified of storms.  When she was very young we lived in “Tornado Alley” in the Midwest and a sudden onset of thunder would send her scurrying for the safety of Mom or Dad’s arms.   If a storm brewed up during the night, her little body shot out of her bed and before we could even react, she cringed between us in our bed, looking for a sanctuary from the storm.

That’s how I feel today, like I’m in a safe place, a sanctuary from the storm that hovers around us.  Somehow, we remain calm in the midst of this tempest.   It feels like what I imagine it would be like to float along in the eye of a hurricane.  All around are the threatening explosions of wind and rain, but in the eye is serenity.

The eye in our hurricane is the trust we have in our God, who is so much more powerful than any storm’s outburst could ever be.  We stand on our faith, centered on God because we know as believers in Christ Jesus, we are the apple of God’s eye.  And in His eye is peace.

I know this is what He wants me to learn today in Chapter One, Page 29, in my book called Opportunity.  I know this with certainty because He has confirmed that through the written word and in song.  All day, the music box part of my mind has been playing “I’ll Praise You in This Storm,” a song by Casting Crowns.

And then I opened up the inbox of my email account to find an encouraging devotional sent to me by a far-away but very dear friend.  The title of the uplifting story was….you guessed it… “Praise Him in the Storm.”

Are you troubled today?  Is there a storm brewing around you too?  Listen to the words of this song.  No matter our circumstances, God is always there to help us through.  May you find you can praise God also in the middle of your tempest.


Air That Refreshes

pexels-photo-440731.jpegThursday, 21 July 2005

It was so nice and cool last night, I slept with my windows wide open. I LOVE fresh air!  Especially cool fresh air.  It always makes me happy and thankful. 

So I am getting better, not entirely normal, but closer every day.   It’s been 5 weeks tomorrow since my surgery and I’m starting to do more every day type of things.  YAY!

Yesterday I actually went into my office  for a little while.  I got there in time for our weekly prayer session, which always is a meaningful and profound way to start your morning. 

It blessed me to see the ladies there, to get hugs and feel loved.  I even did a little work at my desk until around lunchtime, when my abdominal muscles said,  “Enough! Time to go home and lay on the couch!” 

Unlike my son, who lifts at the gym to get nice abs, my abs are sad.  Of course, it didn’t help that before my surgery, I was so out of shape.  But now, after having my belly sliced open – and I had 28 staples in “ma belly” to prove it –  my abs are REALLY sorry. 

They look sorry too – too many scars!  But which would I choose, scars on my tummy and no cancer or really fine-looking abs?  No brainer, definitely the first.  I’ll take door #1, no more cancer, thank you!

More news is that my radiation treatments are postponed for a little while.  Now that actually made me happy. More on that later.

I’ve been feeling a little anxious about the radiation, which is one of the reasons I am reading said book above.  (I’m still also reading Lies That Go Unchallenged, which I love).  But this book, subtitled Finding Peace in All Kinds of Weather, is helping me cope with anxiety.  It all comes down to one word – peace – and that peace comes only from a relationship with Jesus as your personal Savior.

So peace is my byword. Actually, it is MY word for the year 2005.  Way back at Christmas time, our staff and volunteers were given “words” for the upcoming year. 

When I opened mine and saw the word “peace” I was puzzled.  At first, I thought, “That’s strange,  I have peace.  There’s nothing I’m not at peace about.”  And then I got scared.  And I do mean scared.  I thought to myself,  “There is something major coming my way this year and it’s not going to be something I want to deal with.” 

Well, there you have it.  The something major was cancer.  Wow, if you don’t need peace after that, there is something wrong with you! 

I can’t even begin to count how many get well cards I’ve received with personal notes from people telling me they are praying for me to have…you guessed it….peace.  Hmmmm…get the drift?  Wow, God is so awesome.  He knows what you need before you do and then He supplies it, even during challenging and unpleasant times.

So, back to why I’m happy about my radiation being postponed.  First of all, I am having radiation as a precaution because the reoccurrence rate for the cancer goes down from 5-7% to 1-2%.  My radiologist is going out-of-town the week my treatment was supposed to start.  Since my treatments must be in succession once/weekly for four weeks, they are being postponed until later. 

Now you may think, oh, that just gives you more time to worry about it.  But that’s not the way I am thinking, praise God!  The way I’m looking at it is this gives me more time to pray and give the worry all up to God before I do have radiation treatments. 

AND, isn’t God good? My family might be able to take a little vacation now.  Before, there was no way it was possible with everyone’s schedules and my treatments.  Now there is a possibility!!!  Can you say vay-cay??  Yes!  I’m hoping and praying we all can go, get hotel reservations, etc.  I just see this as one of those “all God’s doing” things.  And I am soooooooo grateful.

So here’s the key word for today – PEACE!  Add it to the last key word, thankfulness.

Now just for frivolous sake and copying Punky’s blog, here’s a silly survey…

1. I was worrying over my daughter in another state staying at a deserted college dorm and then with a family I didn’t know.

2. I was worrying over my other daughter beginning her senior year of high school and where she would end up going to college.

3. I was worrying over arguments with my son.
4. I was cranky, hot and tired all the time.
5. I had one lovely week of vacation at the beach on the Outer Banks. 

1. I was proud to see one daughter graduate from college AND get a job.
2. I was proud to see another daughter graduate from high school and prepare to go off to college. 
3. I was teaching my son how to drive and we both survived.
4. I was still cranky, hot and tired all the time.
5. I was relaxing on the beach at Ocean City, MD on vacation.

1. I got up early!
2. I went to work at my office for 3 hours.
3. I got another get well card in the mail and more hospital bills.
4. I went grocery shopping for the first time in 6 weeks with two of my kids,  which was like shopping with two 5-year-olds but fun.
5. I ate a yummy Italian ice and watched TV with Birdie (#2 daughter).

1. I got up early again!
2. I got my hair cut and got to chat with my hairdresser/friend.
3. I went to the high school w/Bud to talk over his scheduling conflict with the guidance counselor.  The downside of going to a smaller school is you can’t always schedule all the demanding and challenging courses you want because there is only one section for them and they don’t fit your schedule. 

1. Get up early for the third day in a row.
2. See my husband who has been out-of-town the last couple days.
3. Hopefully plan a vacation!
4. Make a good dinner.
5. Read, read, read and maybe watch a movie.

1. My family
2. Teaching young people  sexual integrity and abstinence
3. Internet Spades (it’s addictive)
4. Teapots and tea (if it’s hot, it has to be really hot and if it’s cold, really cold!)
5. Checking my email several times a day

1. Chocolate
2. Soft pretzels
3. Werther’s Originals
4. Tangerine sorbet from our local gelato place
5. Hot fudge sundae at Dairy Queen

1. Jesus
2. My family
3. Ice cubes
4. A watch
5. Fresh air
1. A vacation
2. A treadmill
3. New family room furniture
4. A paved driveway
5. I don’t know what else
1. Being cranky
2. Worrying
3. Getting stressed over unimportant things
4. Being too critical
5. Yelling when I’m mad
1. Anything tight
2. A 2-piece swimsuit (remember those sorry abs?)
3. Little ol’ lady clothes or teenybopper clothing
4. Overalls
5. Really short skirts or shorts

1. Lost
2. The Amazing Race
3. Dancing With the Stars

4. Old game shows on the game show channel
5. Everybody Loves Raymond

1. Here
2. Southwest
3. The ‘burbs in Midwest
4. Pacific Northwest
5. the country 

1. Mom
2. Hey mom
3. Hey you
4. Mama
5. Mrs. M

1. I’m goofy and fun (at least I think so).
2. I’m friendly.
3. I’m witty (at least I think so).

4. I’m a good judge of character.
5. I’m not so cranky any more!

1. I’m sometimes too critical.
2. I worry too much.
3. I have panic attacks at the dentist.

1. English
2. German
3. Um….English again.

1. Life without God
2. Strange noises at night
3. Complete darkness and tight, over-crowded places

1. Tea
2. Something to eat
3. My calendar (because I would forget all appointments)

1. Old plaid shorts that I haven’t worn for a while
2. Sleeveless shirt to stay cool in
3. My glasses (don’t go anywhere without ’em)

1. Relient K (my kids’ taste has infiltrated mine)
2. Michael W. Smith (saw him in concert)
3. Billy Joel (saw him too)

1. Love
2. Honesty
3. Respect

1. Nice hair
2. Kind eyes
3. Warm smile (hey, I’m old and I’m married!)


Comments (1)

Thanks for the info.  I’ll have to read it sometime.  And I’m glad you like the pictures.  Those are two of my favorite pictures from Scotland.  I took the top one in the evening at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.  My friend Pat took the other one while we were visiting Sterling Castle in Sterling.

7.21.2005 – Dorkwad