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.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Sorry folks, January = Winter

blogWinter Time 008According to my local newspaper today, people are already tired of winter.

Apparently some are even praying for it to end.

People, buck up!  We’ve only had one official month of winter.

December 21 heralds the beginning of the winter season and today is the 22nd page of Chapter One in my book of Opportunity.

That means there are still two months left of Ol’ Man Winter since spring doesn’t usher itself in officially until March.   And there are only nine days left in the wintry month of January, so soon I’ll be turning over a new chapter.

On this bitterly cold (brrr – our outside thermometer read minus 7 degrees this morning!) but brightly sunny day, I take the opportunity to be grateful for winter.   Most people might think I’m crazy, but I relish the snow.

I even like frosty temperatures.  Cold weather invigorates me and I love taking a walk in snowy weather so brisk it stings your face and makes your toes tingle.

I love coming back inside the house afterwards with rosy cheeks and after shedding layers of outer garments, burrowing down under a warm, wooly blanket to sip a steaming cup of tea and watch the snow silently descend across the countryside.  Call me strange, but that comforts me.

So here’s my tribute in photo and poetry to January.  Even though this month has brought some trouble and trials, it still gives me joy.

blogDSCN0534The snow fell gently all the night.  It made a blanket soft and white.  It covered houses, flowers and ground,  but did not make a single sound. ~ children’s poem by unknown

blogWinter Time 041January opens the box of the year

And brings out days that are bright and clear.

And brings out days that are cold and gray,

And shouts, “Come see what I brought today!” ~ “January” by Leland B. Jacobs

blogDSCN0557Black are my steps on silver sod;

Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;

And tree and house and hill and lake

Are frosted like a wedding cake. ~ excerpt from “Winter Time” by Robert Louis Stevenson

blogwinter time 045 (2)Suddenly the sky turned gray, the day,

Which had been bitter and chill,

Grew soft and still.

Quietly from some invisible blossoming tree

Millions of petals cool and white

Drifted and blew,

Lifted and flew,

Fell with the falling night. ~ “Snow Towards Evening” by Melville Cane

blog0538I choose to be thankful for this beautiful season of winter.  Why?  Because it is God’s creation.  David wrote in the Psalms about it – “The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon.  It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.”~Psalm 74:16-17

Genesis 8:22 ~ “As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Put that acorn down!

blog072Picture two squirrels hunkered down for the winter in a hollow tree.

Frosty, snowy weather suppresses their desire to leave the warmth of the tree and cavort around their two-plus acres like they enjoy doing in the spring, summer and fall.

Add the extra problem of shorter daylight hours in the month of January.   Squirrels’ dilemma – what else is there to do when the tree (nest) is empty, the weather’s too blustery to be outside for long, and evening comes on early but feast on their cache of acorns?

I don’t understand why winter time morphs us into eating machines.  It’s not like I need to store up fat for my winter hibernation.  I’ve got enough of that substance in my body to last several winters!

Chalk it up to the cold, the dark, the dreary weather, boredom….I don’t know but hubby and I have been digging into the comfort food lately just like acorn-ravished squirrels stuffing themselves until their cheeks explode.

We’ve been noshing on the good old-fashioned “mom style” home cooking.  You know staples like hot turkey sandwiches drenched in gravy with mashed potatoes on the side, meat loaf, chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes, and a hand-me-down dish from my grandmother’s day called “ham and patches” (basically ham, potatoes and yes, more dumplings!).

Not exactly diet food, but then again, neither of us made any New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, so there’s a thought – we aren’t breaking any promises!  Actually neither of us made any resolutions at all.  However, if we keep this nosh fest up, we’re going to have to start shaking our bushy tails pronto to shed some unwanted poundage.

I’d reason this tendency to eat like we just purchased stock in a roadside diner provides us enough calories to maintain body warmth since it’s so cold in our house, but what excuse do I use for the ice cream we’ve gone through??

Maybe I could just blame it on global climate change.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A spot of tea for two

pexels-photo-755044.jpegPerhaps my husband is getting in touch with his British side lately.  Nah, he doesn’t have one that we know of.

He comes from good old German stock mostly.  I’ve got German heritage also, but more British lineage than anything.  Maybe that’s why I love my tea.

Seeing as most of our country is socked in with blustery, wintry weather, we are definitely no exception here in the homeland.  Several inches of snow have blanketed the ground for most of this month and last month as well.  It’s been snowing every day this week.  And it’s cold!

In an effort to keep our natural gas bill beast at bay or at least tamed this winter, we’ve lowered our thermostat.  At night while we sleep, we set the temperature pretty low, but both hubby and I rest better when it’s cool.  Besides, warm comfy covers dress up the bed, should we need to pull them up to our necks to stave off the cold.

But we’ve also kept our house on the very chilly side during the day.  This is nothing new; ask our children how many times they’ve told us it was freezing in our house when they were growing up.  We just told them to put on a sweater and stop walking around the house in a tee-shirt and no socks in the winter time.

But we’ve developed a new nightly ritual in Mama’s Empty Nest during this latest spell of living in the deep freeze.  Every evening after dinner, hubby and I settle down in the family room.  We either check out what’s on television, immerse ourselves in a book, or plug ourselves into our computers.

Since it’s so chilly in the house, hubby wraps himself in one of our many throws and I do the same.  After awhile, he heats up the whistling teakettle and we have ourselves a spot of hot tea to warm our bones.

Tea time.  Tea for two.  This is unusual because my husband is a coffee drinker.  Granted he switched to decaf a few years ago, but he still cranks up his day with his favorite beverage.  That’s why it’s surprising to me that he’s turned into a tea “toter” at night.

We sample the many kinds of teas that cozy up the kitchen cabinet and we compare notes on the taste of each one.   Hubby’s choice tonight is Tazo Zen tea and mine is green tea with a hint of orange spice.  The tea warms our chilled bodies and soothes us with calmness and serenity in the quiet of the evening.

But for me, it warms my soul to share a spot of tea with my beloved one on Page 14, Chapter One, (January 14th) in my book of Opportunity, even if our nest is empty.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

You can’t flow when you’re frozen

pexels-photo-806655.jpegThere’s snow business like snow business.

Seems like snow is on everyone’s mind lately and in front of our eyes too as the white stuff is making an appearance from the Midwest to the South and back again in my neck of the woods.

Cold weather has been a staple here, as it usually is in the winter months and that lacy-looking precipitation has covered the ground for many weeks.  A little snow squall is working its way by my house even now as I write this.

My oldest daughter lives in the Deep South. Snowflakes dancing through the air aren’t the norm there, but much of the south is currently blanketed by the flurrying stuff.  Daughter was slightly amused Sunday night when she texted me that her employer was closing down for Monday because of a “wintry mix” settling in the area – her first “snow day” there!

After the snow arrived, she was even more amused as evidenced by this status update on her Facebook page: “Seen in my parking lot: one guy staring at his snow-covered truck like he has no clue what to do about it, and another guy using what appears to be a comb to scrape his windshield. Living in the south is so entertaining sometimes.”

Of course, here in the homeland, hubby and I also sometimes chuckle by the frenzy snow evokes in some people.  Even here, the masses get absolutely frantic by the threat of a snowstorm.

However, that is nothing compared to the frazzled state we witnessed while we lived in the Pacific Northwest.  Drivers there would actually abandon their vehicles on the berms of the highways and streets…when there was maybe an inch or two of snow covering the road.

Last winter, we had a big dig-out after feet of snow was dumped in our area.  And guess what?  We didn’t starve, nor did we run out of toilet paper.  Okay, it did take us an entire day to dig our way out of our driveway, but we were on the road again by the next day.

Snow truly isn’t the end of the world.   And it’s actually quite beautiful if you can calm yourself down long enough to enjoy it.

Today on my travels with my work, I passed an artesian well that was frozen over.  What an amazing ice sculpture it made.  If you’re unfamiliar with what an artesian well is, here is a good explanation from wisegeek.com: “An artesian well allows water that has traveled through porous rock from a higher elevation to rise to the surface. This pumpless well seems to defy gravity because the pressure that builds up between layers of rock gets relieved when the water finds a path to the open air. For nearly a thousand years, people have drilled wells to drink this cold, filtered water that doesn’t need to be hauled up from the depths.”

Unfortunately, I left my camera at home in my hurry to leave this morning, so I don’t have a photo to show how eye-catching this sight was.  It was actually much more intricate than the picture I posted with this entry.  But you will have to take my word for it.

Observing this striking sight made me think about artesian wells spouting water up into the air for all to see and enjoy.  Contemplating thoughts about water always reminds me of passages from the Bible.  And as usual, an old song, “Spring Up, Oh Well” comes to mind.

“I’ve got a river of life flowin’ out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors, sets the captives free. I’ve got a river of life flowin’ out of me.” “Spring up, oh well, within my soul. Spring up, oh well, and make me whole. Spring up, oh well, and give to me that life abundantly.”

And it occurs to me on Page 11, Chapter One (January 11) in my new book entitled Opportunity that I can’t allow that well to spring up in me if I’m frozen over like that artesian well I saw today.  The river of life that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior can’t flow out of me if I am stagnant in my faith.

I need to seek after Him through prayer, reading and studying my guidebook (Bible)  and sharing what I learn with others.

“Jesus answered, ‘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.’ ”  ~ John 4:13-14 (New International Version)

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

One could sit like this forever

blogDSCN7262All’s quiet on the western front.   Hubby and I live in the western part of the homeland and we were spared the gargantuan snow storm that blew through our neighboring states.

We do have a blanket of the white stuff; actually we’ve had snow on the ground for a few weeks now, but we didn’t get the blizzard this time.

So the weather has been calm here and now our house is quiet and serene as well.   The happy festivities of the Christmas season are over and for those few days we celebrated together as a family, our time was merry and bright.

Our Christmas spirit meter zoomed upwards significantly on Christmas Eve.  At first, we were all subdued and somber as we dined early because middle daughter was scheduled for the night shift at her hospital.  But then, she received the magical call stating she was free – staffed down and not needed!  We literally cheered aloud and immediately, our spirits soared.  It was like we were bi-polar!

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” ~ Burton Hillis (pseudonym used by the late William Vaughan, columnist).

We had some serious Christmas celebrating to do as a family!  The rest of the evening was lovely.  We laughed, we teased each other, and we followed our tradition of choosing a gift to open on Christmas Eve.

Later, perched in church pews at candlelight service, we joyfully ushered in Christmas Day at midnight with candles glowing, voices raised in carols, and the old country church bell pealing through the crisp, dark night.  Greeting our fellow believers with hugs and “Merry Christmas!” ended our evening on a high note.

Christmas Day found us feasting and cradling a newborn baby in our arms.   My nephew and his wife were blessed with their first child a few days before Christmas, a precious little girl – the princess.  (Read here if you missed why she is the princess:  https://mamasemptynest.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/continuing-to-give-thanks/)

Baby girl’s grandparents on both sides and my family of five gathered at my nephew’s house with dishes of food, plates of goodies, and good cheer eager to meet and greet this new family member.  And she won over all of our hearts; she is adorable!

After church on Sunday, we indulged once more with yet another home-cooked meal of our favorite Christmas food, spreading out the holiday to make it last a little while longer.   But now, since the plentiful presents have been presented and the delectable delights doled out, Mama and Dad are left home alone once more.

Middle daughter departed Monday morning for the city and her nursing job.  Today son set off for the next-door state and oldest daughter joined him for a couple of days.  She wants to see his new residence and the two of them will venture into the big, big city for some sightseeing fun.

This time around as the nest emptied out, even Dad got a little melancholy.  But they will all return for New Year’s Day dinner.

It was nice to forget about our troubles during the season of Christmas, spend time with our family and focus on the reason for the season.  For now though, it’s back to reality land, where there are more challenges facing us.  Charles Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge proclaimed in A Christmas Carol, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year.”

That is what we need to do – keep Christmas in our hearts all year.  “I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month,” wrote Harlan Miller in Better Homes and Gardens.

I think we can do that.  Instead of putting love, joy and peace in jars, we can put the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts where we can use them every month of the year.  So hubby and I are going to try with all our might to retain “that holiday feeling” as we face what the New Year has in store for us.  But most of all, we’ll continue to remember that we have a Savior who will never forsake us.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Snow Falls in the Country

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Welcome to my world!

I’m updating my blog, with a font named Tunga because it looks like “tundra”  and that’s where I’m living – in the frozen tundra!

blogWinter Time 048So I’m home today cleaning out kitchen cabinets because we are socked in with major snow & ice.  Winter finally arrived over here a few weeks ago.  We didn’t have any snow at all until January, but since then it hasn’t let up!

Yesterday we had a major snowstorm which turned into ice storm overnight.  What fun we had at our house this morning!! NOT!

Explanation #1:  First you need to know that our driveway is long – like about 150 feet – and goes UPHILL from the house.

When my husband got home from work yesterday evening, he got stuck coming DOWN the driveway.  Not a good sign!  So he got out the heavy-duty snow blower we have — it’s monstrous and sounds monstrous too!  He blew the driveway open as best he could, then shoveled his car out and finally drove it down.

In the meantime, my oldest daughter arrived home, a normally 45 minute drive home took over two hours, but she couldn’t pull into the driveway because her dad was snow blowing the top of it.

blogDSCN0533Explanation #2:  When the plow truck goes by on our road, it throws all the snow into the entrance of our drive, so by this time, it was shut with snow AGAIN.  So Dad tells Punky “just keep on driving!”  Um…where was she supposed to keep on driving to in the snow storm??

Add to all of this, we live in an extremely windy area, so the snow is blowing & drifting even though we have snow fences up along the drive to “prevent” that.  You get the picture…it was crazy.

So oldest daughter finally finds somewhere on our badly snow-covered road to turn around, drives back and manages to get her car down the drive and into the garage.  Whew!  Everyone is safe and sound in the house; dinner is finally eaten at 8:30 p.m. and then we watch the news to see that the snow’s turning to ice.  We will have more snow on top of that by morning.  YEE-HAWWW!  Welcome to our world!

Husband arose well before dawn this morning to yet again use the snow blower to clear the driveway. There’s something not-so-soothing to be awakened before the sun is up by a roaring snow blower! Oldest daughter also arose early to leave for work knowing the traffic and the roads would be horrible.   Then alas, she can’t get her cute little new red Mazda 3 (Zoom-Zoom) up the driveway.  Just sits there and spins on the crunchy icy snow.

She backs her car down; I stick my head out into the cold and yell “Want to drive my car today?”

Explanation #3: I am the only one with a all-wheel drive vehicle, my Subaru (or my Scooby-Doo as I call it), which is the only car that likes to just purr up the snowy, icy driveway.

So we trade cars, and as predicted, my Scooby-Doo just walks right up the drive and HOORAY, Punky-girl is on her way!  In the meantime, Dad, in his little Honda Civic, is STUCK!  And I do mean STUCK in the driveway at the bottom!  Can’t move forward, can’t move backward and his car is simply ENCASED in solid ice!

Explanation #4:  We only have a two-car garage, so somebody’s car has to sit outside! Lucky Dad!

So he shovels, he blows snow.  He drags out the rock salt.  Still stuck….I get bundled up,  go outside to see if I can be of any help.  Not really.  Then he remembers he owns tire chains (which he used when winter driving in the mountains in Oregon) somewhere in the garage.   He searches, finds them, puts them on…they fall off…he spins….he gets out…he tightens the chains…they fall off again…he finally gets them tightened well…he makes it out of the place he was stuck and pulls his car into the garage to thaw out, confident that he will now make it out of the driveway.

He comes inside, warms up, showers, makes phone calls to his appointments he’s missing – not to worry, no one is there at either place.  No doubt, they’re snowed in too!

So Husband goes to leave….guess what?? He gets stuck again part-way up the driveway, even with chains on!  More spinning, more shoveling, and finally he gets up the driveway.  HOORAY!

Mom now thinks today is a good day for staying at home and cleaning out kitchen cabinets!  In the meantime, it is still snowing and snowing and snowing and SNOWING!!!!  So I imagine we will repeat the scene above yet again tonight when Husband and Punky-girl come home from work.

Oh, the joys of living here in the winter time!  The snow is beautiful, of course, and where we live – out in the country – it’s just a gorgeous sight, really.  But having to drive in it or even just getting up your driveway is enough to make your blood pressure sky-rocket!

So for today, I’m glad to be at home, where I’m warm and dry and can just sit at my window and watch the snow pile up higher and higher, praying for safety for everyone who has to go out in this wintry weather.

Whew, that was a long story.  Think I’ll go make a hot cup of tea and get back to the cabinets.

Oh…and by the way….Happy Valentine’s Day!

©2007 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com