Wordless Wednesday: lines

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines 

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

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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

 

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

Trying not to drip

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Look closely and you’ll see a drop falling from the melting icicle.

Outside my rural home, the month of January has looked much like the land of Narnia in C.S. Lewis’ book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Snow and cold temperatures abound but every once in a while Mother Nature proves quirky and a warm day slips into our frozen surroundings, only to be nudged out again by Ol’ Man Winter a few days later.

That happened again just last week. The sun appeared making me squint like a mole just emerging after weeks in its dark underground tunnel into daylight. Mr. Sun’s rays falling upon us felt so warm and welcomed it not only melted our surroundings but warmed up my spirit as well.  Sunshine always does.

Sitting at our desktop computer in our home office on one of those balmy days, I cleaned up my cyberspace by paring down my email in-box and deleting some old data. Busy with the task at hand, I still couldn’t help glancing out the window at the glorious sunshine and noticing a distinct thawing taking place in our front yard.

Then I spied it. At the corner of the roof, a solitary icicle – about a 9-10 inch long one – hung. As the sun directly targeted that icy spike, the icicle began dripping. Slowly at first, but it soon gained speed, melting away until at last, it disappeared.

As so often happens when I’m intently pondering something, a verse from the Bible crossed my mind and an idea for a blog post lit up in my brain.

“A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm…” ~ Proverbs 27:15 New International Version (NIV)

I grabbed my camera and stepped out onto the front porch and managed to snap a quick photo of that dripping icicle before it met its demise. 

And then again, that verse meandered its way through my mind. I almost laughed out loud because this verse is one I often think about. I actually have joked on occasion with my husband about it as well.

Why? Because sometimes I AM a quarrelsome wife and I suspect Papa just shuts my annoying voice off or at least relegates it to that wah-wah-wah monologue that all the adults sounded like in the old Charlie Brown television specials.

Because really, a constant droning can be totally annoying, can’t it?

Papa and I watched a DVD (Dunkirk) last weekend with very little dialogue and incessant “music” – if you can call it that.  The movie itself telling the true World War II story is good but the relentless music was repetitive, almost monotonous, and loud. This cacophony droned on and on and truly grated on our nerves to the point where we turned the sound way down, gritting our teeth and determined to make it to the end of the film regardless of the irritating music.

But it annoyed us to no end.

And so can persistent dripping. Just imagine when you’re trying to get to sleep late at night and the faucet in the nearby bathroom is leaking.  A steady, unceasing dropping of water.

Drip. Drip. Drip. It can be maddening.

When I was a kid, we actually called people ‘drips.’ A drip was an annoying, irritating person. One that just bugged the heck out of you. “What a drip!” we’d exclaim about someone who was a real pain.

I even recall a silly little rhyme kids in my era wrote in our autograph books: “Roses are red, violets are blue. The rain on the rooftop reminds me of you…drip, drip, drip.”

Not nice, huh? Well, neither are drips. They can be exasperating. Infuriating even. And can provoke us to anger.

And unfortunately, I can be a drip sometimes. Which is why I keep that verse from the book of Proverbs running through my mind. I need to try my hardest not to provoke someone to anger.

That dripping icicle on my roof reminded me.

“The anger came creeping back like the leak from a dripping water tank, the fall of each individual drop passing almost unnoticed until I realized I was soaked with the emotion.” ~ Anthony Loyd

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Looking up for Christmas

FBIMG_0313(Note from Mama’s Empty Nest: During this busy Christmas season, I’m reposting blogs from several years ago. If you missed why, please click on this link for my reasons. The following post is from December 2010.) 

Color of skin – not green.  Heart – normal size.  Miserly ways – don’t think so.  Crankiness – well…sometimes.  Conclusion – I’m a normal human being, neither the Grinch nor Scrooge.

Really! Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Honestly!  To me it IS one of the “most wonderful times of the year.” Truly!

Somewhere in my rants about not feeling up to decking the halls and proclaiming ho-ho-ho with mistletoe, I think I have left my readers with the mistaken belief that I’m not a Christmas person.  Completely untrue.  It’s just that this year instead of being a Christmas fanatic, I’m in more of a reflective mood about the season I love.

I celebrate Christmas to commemorate the greatest gift God gave mankind when over 2000 years ago, a tiny babe was born in Bethlehem.  That baby was the Messiah, Emmanuel, God With Us, Jesus Christ.  But as I get older, I have to question what the hoopla we’ve made Christmas truly has to do with worshiping our Savior.

Many of the Christmas customs we utilize have nothing to do with our belief in Jesus.  The light displays, the adorned Christmas tree, the over-indulgent feasts, the even more over-indulgent presents.  What does any of it mean?

Every year the commercialism of the season grates on me.  The frantic rush to the shopping malls to spend outrageous sums of money on gifts that we really don’t need saddens me when I know millions of our fellow human beings in the world are starving or have no decent housing.

The fulfillment of Christmas wish lists with gift cards and money make me sadder yet.  Why don’t we just exchange money instead of calling it a gift? 

To me, a gift is something you thoughtfully consider.  You think about the person you are giving the gift to, and you know that loved one well enough to choose something that will touch his or her heart and show how much you love and care for that person.  But that takes time and consideration and in the crazy frenzy (only 14 more shopping days till Christmas!), it’s easier to just fulfill the items on a list.

My family is no different from any other families out there; there have been some wish lists being emailed back and forth and we have succumbed to this way of shopping.  Oh, we try to give to the needy whether it is donating to the bell-ringers of the Salvation Army, shopping for gifts to bestow on a family who is having a difficult year, filling shoe boxes for Samaritan’s Purse to be distributed to needy children, or purchasing “gifts” of animals, clothing, or other necessities to be sent world-wide through World Vision.

But is that enough?  I think that’s why I’m feeling a little rebellious about this season of Christmas.  I want Christmas to mean more.  I want it to be revered, not just as a cherished tradition, but as a time when we stop focusing on the foolishness, ponder the wonder of God coming to earth to live among us, and give thanks for the saving gift of grace that our Lord Jesus Christ is.

I sometimes wonder what Jesus thinks about our elaborate celebrations and I’m reminded that He was born in a simple, lowly place.  He lived His life here on earth in a plainly simple way, but oh, how much He accomplished!

He did not require jewels, fancy robes, or tables set before Him with an amazing array of food and drink.  He did not expect exquisite decorations in the homes He visited.  His focus was simply on people – the weak, the infirm, the needy, and the lost.  He didn’t ask for gifts, instead He gave His life as the ultimate gift when He took the sins of the world upon Himself and sacrificed His life on the Cross for us. 

I’ve been reading a non-fiction book called Extraordinary Faith by Sheila Walsh.  It’s not a new book and I’ve had it on my shelf for quite some time.  I read it for a while, and then get busy and put it down, but I keep coming back to it because I really want to finish it.  It’s good stuff.

Yesterday I took a little bit of time to open the book’s pages once again.  And what I read in the chapter called “When We Fix Our Eyes on Jesus” imparted great truth to me.  Ms. Walsh writes, “Faith here is a call to look up, to gaze at our Savior.  Faith is a passionate gaze at the only One who can save us.”

She continues and then adds a passage of scripture, “Perhaps the greatest call to gaze on our Lord appears right after the great faith chapter of Hebrews 11: ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:1-2)”

That’s what I think is often missing at Christmas.  We fail to look up, to gaze at the One who was sent on our behalf to save us from eternal separation from God. We don’t fix our eyes on Jesus.  This year, I want to forego the trappings of Christmas.  I want to throw off those things that hinder me from looking up and gazing at my Savior.  I hope I can encourage you to do the same.

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.” ~ Psalm 24:7

I want to fix my eyes on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords instead of gazing at a landscape of luminous lights, garlands of greenery galore, a bedecked and bedazzled balsam tree or the panoramic plethora of presents stacked beneath it.  Instead of spending all of my time time baking and cooking and shopping, I want to feed my soul and the souls of others with the Word of God.

For those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ, the season of Christmas should be first and foremost a season of faith – faith that is sufficient for everything we need.   

God had His fingerprints all over the gift He gave us that very first Christmas, His Son Jesus Christ.  And today, centuries later, He still has His fingerprints on us. Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad.

I pray that this Christmas you will fix your eyes on Jesus, that you will allow the Word of God to speak to your life amidst the hustle and bustle of the season.

“Faith is not wishful thinking or theatrics.  Faith is born in us as we fix our eyes on Jesus and as we recognize the fingerprints of God the Father all over our lives.”  ~ Sheila Walsh

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A good match

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He is tall. I am short. He loves seafood. I hate it.

He didn’t wear glasses until the last few years and needs them only for reading.  I’ve worn glasses since I was five years old and need those to make everything blurry clear.

He’s a terrible speller. I always excelled in spelling.  He admits he is not a writer and doesn’t enjoy doing so. I’ve always been a writer and it gives me joy.

He came from a family of brothers. I came from a family of sisters. He had lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins in his extended family.  I had only a handful.

His family vacationed at the Jersey shore every summer. My family took very few vacations and I never saw the ocean until I was a young adult.

He grew up in the city with bricks for a yard and no grass. I grew up in the country with a yard a couple of acres large to play in.

As a youngster, he ran up and down the halls of the Capitol building in our state capital while playing with neighborhood friends.  I rode up and down country roads on a bicycle playing with my neighborhood friends.

He has the patience to read the instruction manuals. I have little patience with them and tend to just wing it until I encounter a problem; then I turn to him and his instruction manuals.

He is usually slow to anger. I often possess a short fuse.

He takes his good old time working on projects. I want to hurry up and get them completed ASAP.

He loves all things historical and pertaining to the military and reads just about every display card in museums. I am more fascinated by the personal touches of history and am not interested in movies, books, or displays about wars or the military. I also am way ahead of him while making our way through museums.

He would love to go on a cruise someday. I am terrified of the concept.

You might say we have enough differences to prove we are not compatible at all. But you would be wrong. Our differences aren’t what define us. Our shared history together makes us who we are. And we are not totally mismatched; we do have several things in common.

We are a married couple who have spent the last 43 years together – dating for three years before marriage and this fall will mark 40 years since we said “I do” in front of family and friends.

We’ve endured separations when Papa was obligated for military duty far away, many moves, job changes, health scares, and difficult circumstances during our time together.

We’ve experienced grief and sadness, but we have shared so much joy and laughter as well. And through it all, we endured together. Ours isn’t a perfect relationship but it is one cemented with commitment, love, and respect for one another.

You might just say we are a good match after all (which happens to be this week’s photo challenge).

“It’s not about having the perfect relationship. It’s about finding someone who matches you and will go through everything without giving up.” ~ Unknown

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Something in the water

blogimg_1434Back in the summer when I was hibernating, I missed the opportunity to participate in a Developing Your Eye photography activity on Word Press.

Summer zapped me big time and I just didn’t have the energy nor the inclination to join up. But cooler fall weather finally awakened me from my slump, although occasionally I am still as grumpy as a bear staggering squint-eyed from its lair.

So today’s post is focused on that challenge’s third day photography theme – water.

Water, what would we do without it?  Scientists say the surface of this planet revolving around the sun 365 days of the year is 71% water.  In comparison, adult humans’ bodies are comprised of around 60% water. Water sustains life, we’re told, because every living cell must have it to continue functioning.

Without water, we die. It’s as simple as that. Our bodies can only survive three to five days without it, although in some cases, people have lasted a week. Regardless, we need water. It’s a must.  I drink a lot of it every single day and it is my preferred drink with meals.

But we don’t just physically require water for life, I believe.

Even though I am not much of a country music fan, the words to Carrie Underwood’s song, “There’s Something in the Water” came to my mind as I began thinking about this theme and perused my photograph cache – both digital and film pictures from years ago. That song embraces a spiritual aspect of water.

There must be something in the water (amazing grace)
Oh, there must be something in the water (how sweet the sound)
Oh, there must be something in the water (that saved a wretch)
Oh, there must be something in the water (like me)

For me, there obviously is more to it than just something ‘in’ the water. There’s something ‘about’ the water as well.

You see, I seem to take an abundance of photos of water. Streams. Rivers. Lakes. Waterfalls. Oceans. Rain. Water drops. Even puddles.  For some reason, I’m drawn to water – not to be in it, no, I’m not an avid swimmer, no water dog. Nor am I partial to being on the water either. Ask Papa about how many times he has suggested us going on an ocean cruise.

But I do like to be near water. To sit beside it. To listen to it. To gaze at it. To see beauty in it. And to attempt to capture all of that in a photo.

I turned to my Guidebook for Life – my Bible – and I wasn’t too surprised that water is mentioned over 600 times in the version I read the most – the New International Version – from Genesis, the very first book, to Revelation, the very last.

Water. It’s not just vital for our human physical life. It’s vital for spiritual life as well which is why you will find so many references to water in the Scriptures. It’s used to symbolize a variety of concepts in God’s Word and you could spend a lot of time just studying this one word.

I tend to think of spiritual water as a refreshing, cleansing element just like that Carrie Underwood song.  That’s why a passage in Chapter Four in the book of John in the New Testament speaks to me.

Jesus asks for water from a Samaritan woman at the well. He tells her about living water when he says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” He’s talking about the gift of salvation that comes through belief in Him.

My sweet little granddaughter likes to drink water. Inevitably, she swallows, smiles, and then says, “Ahhhh.”  She’s already learned that water satisfies our thirst like nothing else.

And that’s like Jesus. He is the kind of living water that satisfies all thirst. Each time I gaze upon the water, hear either its roar in the ocean wave or its delicate tinkle in the flow of a stream or its constant pitter patter of rain on my roof, or taste the cool, refreshing sip of clear, clean water, I think of Him and what He accomplished on the cross for me and you.

And I am refreshed.

 “Did you ever feel the tongue dry, the lips parched, and the throat feverish, and then, bringing a goblet filled with pure water to your lips, do you remember the sensation as it trickled over your tongue and gurgled down your throat? Was it not a luxury?… Here is a beverage brewed for us by our Heavenly Father—brewed, too, in beautiful places…. He brews pure water, far away on the mountain top, whose granite peak glitters like gold in the sunlight; away again, on the wide wild sea, where the hurricane howls its mournful melody, and the storm sends back the chorus, sweeping the march of God!” ~John Bartholomew Gough, English-born U.S. temperance orator (1817–1886)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com