Words for Wednesday: Forgotten

blogblank pageIn this new year, let’s fill it with forgotten things. 

“Each New Year, we have before us a brand new book containing 365 blank pages. Let us fill them with all the forgotten things from last year—the words we forgot to say, the love we forgot to show, and the charity we forgot to offer.” ~ Peggy Toney Horton

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Featured on “A Life of Words”

blogDSCN9642 Words are a vital part of my life. I love words, I love to speak them, I love to write them.  I even collect them in the form of quotations in my handy dandy notebook filled with favorite quotes.  And I try very diligently to season my words as best I can.

You might say I do live a life of words.  I’ve written since I was a little girl; I even worked for a time in the world of words as a newspaper writer/editor.  And now, I blog and send my words out into cyberspace.

Today,  I’m feeling special and blessed as my humble little blog is featured on a fellow blogger’s site.  Nikole Hahn at Nikole Hahn’s Journal started a series of posts about writers whose blogs she enjoys reading.  I’m privileged that Nikole has been a long-time reader of my blog and she has become a friend too!  And I felt even more honored that she chose my blog to feature in her series, “A Life of Words.”

You can read her series and also find out the answers I gave to her set of interview questions here: A Life of Words

It’s possible you’ll learn something new about me from reading this that you didn’t know before!  Let me know what you think and be sure to add Nikki’s blog to your blog roll.  She’s an awesome writer and a great book reviewer.

I find it amazing that my life with words has given me such incredible friends in the blogging world.  Believe it or not, I’m frankly a little speechless!

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do this in remembrance

blogDSCN8862Every year during this very special week I find myself a little speechless.

Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter,  always leaves me at a loss for words.

To remember that my Savior entered Jerusalem triumphantly to the cheers of a crowd shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”  yet just a few days later, Jesus hung on a cross dying to jeers of the crowd simply astonishes me beyond words.

After observing the Passover meal with His disciples and trying to prepare them for what He knew was to come, Jesus established what believers in Christ call the Last Supper.  Then He prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus was betrayed, arrested, deserted and denied, tried and condemned to be crucified until death, beaten, scourged, and mocked.

To consider that He bore the sins of the entire world on His shoulders willingly, knowing the pain and agony He would bear and to realize He loved me (and you) enough to offer Himself as the sacrificial Lamb takes both my breath and my words away.

Last Saturday evening, the day before Palm Sunday, my husband and I worshiped the Risen Lamb with 14,000 other believers at a Casting Crowns concert in our nearby city.  What an incredible night.

What an amazing way to usher in this Holy Week, listening to and singing along with one of my favorite Christian performing groups.  Surrounded by a packed arena full of fellow Christians.  Again it rendered me speechless.

My own words seem so inadequate to express what my Savior did for us.  Often when words fail me, pictures and music suffice.  So as this Easter weekend unfolds, I’ll post music that is meaningful to me and captures the waves of emotion I feel.

And all because of this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

My word power

blogIMG_0922Words.  Where would we be without them?

If there were no words, we would have no writing.  There would be no great works of literature, no poems, no letters, no dictionaries, no blogs for that matter.

If words were non-existent, we would have no speech.  We would have no names for people, places, or things.  There would be no conversations, audible or with sign language.

Words are important.  Words are powerful.  They have the ability to build up or tear down.  On average, we humans speak thousands of words per day.  Some people are more talkative than others, but even the most reticent among us uses words each and every day.

Some of us are like a waterfall, words rush dramatically from us.  Some are like a river, words flowing continually.  Others are like Old Faithful, quiet for a while then suddenly words gush out of us.   And still others are much like a faucet, we turn our words off and on just when they are needed.

We speak words of love and words of hate.  Words of comfort and words of anger.  Words of life and words of death.  Words of encouragement and words of destruction.   Words of blessing and words of curse.  Words can instill passion to do good or incite diabolical plans for evil.

The Bible gives us much instruction on our use of words.   Some of my favorite passages about words are underlined in my study Bible and I’d like to share a few of them today.

Proverbs 12:17-19  reminds me to choose my words wisely and think before I speak – “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.”

I’ve been guilty of piercing my loved ones with reckless words of my own, and I have been the recipient of sharp sword-like words piercing my heart.    Not very long ago, I witnessed someone utter a careless, flippant remark which deeply wounded a friend of mine.  I felt her pain as the other person spoke insensitively  and I could see in her eyes how those thoughtless utterances affected her.

I wish I could say that my tongue always speaks soothing words of healing, but I know that’s not the case.  Sometimes, I let my anger, or frustration, or state of feeling unwell fuel what comes out of my mouth.   And then harsh words just spew out of me.

Those critical or abrasive words I speak do nothing but cause more anger and frustration.  At times like these, I need to heed this admonition from Proverbs 15:1-3: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

As I’ve matured both in age and spiritually, I’ve become more conscious of my words and more cautious to consider them wisely before I spout.  It’s something I wished I’d learned a long time ago.

I’ve known this scripture, also found in Proverbs, for most of my life but I’ve often failed to live by this passage each and every day.  “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

It’s Chapter 11, Page 15, in my Opportunity book.  This year of opportunity (2011) is starting to wind down.   But today, as I read the following passage in my guidebook for life, these words written so long ago made a huge impact on me.

“You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” ~ Psalm 139:3-5

God knows me inside and out.  He knows my heart.  He knows what’s in my head.  And He knows what I’m going to say before the words roll off my tongue.  Ouch!

I fervently pray that I’ll be more sensitive to His urging to check my spirit and examine my words carefully before I speak because my words have power either to inflict great damage or bless another with the soothing balm of grace.

And I have the power to choose and change my words.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The fine art of watering

blogDSCN7725I’ve been known to have a sharp tongue.  Don’t sit there at your computer with your mouth hanging agape while you read this.  I’m not always the epitome of sweetness and light, just ask my family.

Oh, as a stranger or acquaintance, you might glimpse a flash of my temper if you really, really make me angry.   I can deliver a strong tongue lashing, but in most cases, I try to curb my words and my fury.

It’s the right thing to do and most days I strive so hard to do the right thing, even though often I fail.  Quite some time ago, I had one heck of a day, you know the kind where everything seems cattywampus, nothing works the way it should, people irritate you, and circumstances beyond your control frustrate you.  And it was cold and rainy to boot.  That kind of day.

Feeling totally exasperated, I pulled into a gas station to fill my car. But after a couple unsuccessful tries, the pump just would not work.  I looked at the attendant, warm and dry inside the station, but he just stared out the window at me, exhibiting no signs of coming to my aid. Finally, I gestured to him (the call button didn’t seem to work either!) and he slowly meandered up to me with this insightful news:

“This pump isn’t working,” he said nonchalantly.  “You’ll have to pull around to another pump.”

Grrr.   Anger fueled by my frustrating day welled up quickly as I noticed the line of cars waiting for the other pumps.  I glared at Mr. Helpful.  He just shrugged his shoulders and that was the breaking point.

“Well, if you KNEW this pump wasn’t working, don’t you THINK it might have been a good idea to PUT A SIGN ON IT SAYING SO?!!!”  I yelled.  I whipped my irate words, each one getting louder and accelerating up a notch in angry tone, at him.  Again he shrugged and started walking away.

“Thanks for nothing!”  I mumbled as I climbed back into my car and he ambled into the station.   I pulled my car around to the long line at the opposite island and waited…and waited…and fumed…and  fumed.  If my gas gauge hadn’t been so close to E, I would have driven away.

And while I waited, I sensed the Lord telling me I was being utterly ridiculous.  What purpose did my anger serve?  Was it righteous anger?  No.  Would my wrath right a wrong?  Absolutely not.  All it really did was raise my blood pressure and provide fodder for the gas attendant’s tales of how nasty and irate customers can be.  But I was still hopping mad.

Finally, I nosed my car beside another gas pump, zipped my credit card angrily through the slot and started filling my car.  As I felt fuel coursing through the hose into my tank, I also could feel anger pumping out of me as well.  I felt like God’s presence was siphoning wrath right out of me.  In its place came strong conviction as I realized my venomous words had just given every person who calls themselves a believer in Christ Jesus a bad rap.   What kind of picture of a Christian did I paint? Not a very pretty one.

Cold and damp, I started to climb back into my car, but stopped, closed my car door and walked into the gas station where – you guessed it – there was a long line of customers waiting to pay their bills.  I forced myself to stay patient and when my turn at the cashier arrived, I told her I needed to speak to the young man behind her.

She glanced at him as if to say, “Now what did you do?”  He winced, walked up to the counter and looked at me like a beaten puppy.  I suppose he expected yet another tongue lashing.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I want to apologize for yelling at you out there.  I realize it’s not your fault the pump isn’t working and the station is so busy.  So..,” I paused, “I’m sorry.”

His eyes widened in disbelief.   His shocked co-worker looked warily at me then at him.  “Okay,” he said.   And that was that.

No illuminating beam streamed down from heaven.  No harp music swelled loudly on the store’s speaker system.   No one exclaimed, “Wow, you’re a great person!”  Nothing miraculous occurred except within my heart because I knew – I knew – I had done the right thing.   I did what Jesus called me to do, to apologize when I spewed forth unrighteous anger on someone.

Please don’t think I’m writing this to get any kind of accolades because I don’t deserve them.  I’ve experienced way too many times when I have succumbed to most unrighteous things.

Instead I share my experience because I believe God asks me to relate the change I felt in my heart that day – the joy and peace that flooded over me because I obeyed my Savior and Lord, acknowledged my wrong,  and doled out a little grace to someone else.   Grace, not selfish anger, is what He grants to me every day, whether I deserve it or not.

Unfortunately, my impatience and frustration often get the best of me.  I’m ashamed to admit in the past, my wicked tongue lashed out harsh words at those I love most – not strangers at a gas station – my husband and children.

But as I’ve matured both in age and spirit, I’ve allowed God to continue to mold me and change my ways.  The still, small voice of the Spirit helps me curb my tongue, use self-control and stop myself before I react in angry words…most of the time.  See, I’m still a work in progress.

Just the other day, I positioned myself on my front porch swing and read in the book of Proverbs again, noticing how many verses pertaining to wisely using words and controlling the tongue are underlined in my Bible.  At some point in my past, I had drawn a star next to this verse:

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~ Proverbs 12:18.

Obviously, God kept trying to teach me a lesson I’ve needed to learn for many years.

While reading, I observed the ruby red petunias nesting in our porch boxes needed water.  As I grabbed the watering can to pour fresh water on those flowers, an idea sprouted in my mind –  I am just like that watering can!  What pours from me when I am shaken a little or tipped?

When I pour forth words of blessing and encouragement on others,  it’s just like cooling, refreshing water flowing out onto my flowers, which will be nourished and grow abundantly.  But if words of contention or anger flow out of my ‘watering can’ over my loved ones and even those I find difficult to love, it’s like dousing flowers with poison.   They will shrivel up and die.

My words have the power to be poisonous or encouraging and I have the capability to choose which they will be.   Nourishing others and cultivating kindness is the right thing to do, even when I’m feeling impatient or frustrated.

In my sixth chapter of my yearly book of Opportunity, on this 28th page, and every day, I know that’s what God calls me to do and I’m going to try my best.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Why Mama’s been mum

pexels-photo-247394.jpegWell, not only has mum been the word lately at Mama’s Empty Nest, but Mum has been fairly mum herself as well.

Definition of mum:  (adj) silent, not saying a word.   The origin of the word possibly came from “mmm,” the humming sound we humans make with our mouths closed, which indicates either unwillingness or an inability to speak.

Shakespeare used the word in Henry VI when he wrote:   “Seal up your lips and give no words but mum.”

In other words, keep quiet, say nothing, shut your trap.  The saying “mum’s the word” worked its way into our language as a means to advise another person to not reveal what he knows about something, to keep a secret, or stay quiet on the subject.

If you regularly follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been awfully mum in the last week or so.  Throwing in some synonyms for the word  – mute, speechless, uncommunicative, wordless – adequately describes me right now.  And I know it!

I can’t admit that I’ve been quiet because I know something I shouldn’t reveal because that’s not it.  I don’t know a secret about anything!  So I honestly have no clue why I’ve been so uncommunicative (which is very unlike me anyway).

Should I blame my wordless state on busy-ness?  No,  I cannot.  No more busy days than usual.  Oh, there has been a little wedding planning, some strawberry picking and freezer jam making sessions, a bit of cleaning and household chores here and there in between my hours at my job, but nothing that demands my full attention.

Even my computer sits idle.  I check my email occasionally and then shut off the distraction.   Logging in to Facebook has become a rarity because I see those words asking me to declare what’s on my mind, and I’ve got…nothing, no status updates, nothing interesting to say.

If I do fire up my laptop, I sit and stare at the blank screen and I am…. speechless.  Wordless.  I feel like I have nothing to impart, even though my notebook of blog ideas paints  an entirely different picture.  I just don’t feel like saying it or writing it or even thinking about the ideas long enough to put a sentence together.

It’s like I have a disorder – a non-communication complaint, summer speechlessness, or author’s apathy.  I can’t decide whether it’s just writer’s block or summer’s siren song of idleness.

In my younger days, I could be quite the talker, making chit-chat and small talk to fill any awkward silences.  But as I’ve aged, I’ve become more of a listener than a talker.  And honestly, sometimes I really have nothing to say.  Absolutely nothing.

This speechless state has woven its way, spreading like runners of ivy, into my writing.  I don’t want to bore my readers with just any old words.  I won’t publish a blog merely for the sake of publishing every day….or two…or 12.  If I have something worth writing, it also needs to be something worth reading.  And alas, I feel no compulsion to write.   And so I’ve been mum.

I hope I haven’t been disappointing, but I fear I may have been just that for those of you who log into this blog each day expecting some new post from me.   Bear with me, my faithful readers, I’ll get my words back.

For now, on this 21st page in Chapter 6 of Opportunity, my deck and the coolness of the evening after a warm summer day are calling out enticing me. 

My softly cushioned patio chair whispers, “Come hither.  Come rest and bask in the quietness of a country evening.  Inhale the scent of freshly mowed grass and savory strawberries, plucked from the garden.  Listen to the birds warbling their sing-song melodies.  Feel the gentle breeze as it ruffles your hair.  Gaze westward and witness another spectacular sunset.   Evenings like this won’t last for long.  Maybe tomorrow you will find your words.”

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Every day

blog028Sometimes when we utter the simplest words they can evoke profound meanings if we just think about it.

Have you ever noticed how easily we banter words around?  Often we say things without even really contemplating what the words mean.  Or even what they may sound like to another person.

That’s why there is so much misunderstanding among us humans.  In this great age of communication, we still have trouble really communicating.  We say things without thinking.  Instead of considering how we should answer a question thoughtfully, we just spout off the first thing that comes to mind.

I answered a question my husband asked me recently in that way.  Off the cuff.  Speaking without forethought.  And as soon as the words left my mouth, I realized what I said wasn’t what I truly meant.  Let me explain.

In my urge to purge state, I’ve been doing some much-needed cleaning around the house.  Especially after Christmas, I’m inclined to spruce up the house with extra care.  While dusting and vacuuming the living room, I picked up the “coffee table” book and decided to replace it.  Does anyone else besides me place a “special” book on that table?

For all the years we’ve been married, we’ve kept a fine-looking book on the living room coffee table right next to the crystal dish hubby and I received as a wedding gift.  We’ve collected a few of these type books and I rotate them every few months.

Our collection includes books with stunning photographs of places we have lived over the years, a book of Robert Frost poems flanked with corresponding pictures, a Norman Rockwell compilation showcasing his art and a book entitled Portrait of Jesus.

That book embellished our table during the Christmas season.  I picked it up and as I deposited it back on the book shelf, my husband asked me what I was doing.  I flippantly replied, “Putting Jesus away.”

As soon as the words rolled off my tongue, I thought, “What a statement to make!”  I tried to correct my thoughtless remark to my husband by adding, “Of course, I’m not really putting Jesus away.”  And then my mind started to veer off as it so often does.

I wondered how many of us do in fact put Jesus away after Christmas.  During the holy season, we talk about Jesus, we sing about Him, we perform acts of charity in His name, we read our Bibles about Him and we talk about keeping Christ in Christmas.

But what about the days that follow Christmas?  Do we still talk about and to Him, sing about Him, do good in His name, tell others about Him?  Is He the vital aspect of every day of our lives?  Or is His place of relevance simply put aside until Easter?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not putting Jesus away, today on this 13th page of Chapter One (January 13, 2011) in my Opportunity book or any day.  Every day I’ll walk with Him.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A Seventh of a Year

pexels-photo-261684.jpegHere’s a profound quote for you – “We spend approximately one-seventh of our lives on Monday.”

If you haven’t figured out yet, I love the written word.  I not only like writing my own words, I actually collect other people’s words.  (So be careful what you say to me, it just might end up on my blog!)

Dating probably back to my high school days, I have kept a folder filled with quotations, short poems, and thoughts written on scraps of paper or torn out of magazines.  Not my own words, but other people’s, famous and ordinary.

Every once in a while I scan through the folder, usually when I’m in a cleaning mood, but I never can bring myself to actually throw the words in my folder away.  That folder has survived more moves than most of my other belongings over all these years.

When I used to make my own greeting cards, the verses came in handy, but I rarely construct my own cards these days.  Because of my background as a former English teacher and newspaper journalist, the task of publishing newsletters for different organizations ranging from churches to PTAs to Cub Scouts managed to fall on me.   Sometimes my folder delivered filler material for those newsletters.

But that was years ago.  The only newsletter responsibility I have nowadays is proof-reading the e-letter that the non-profit I’m employed by sends to donors and friends.

So why do I save these words of wisdom, gems of greatness,  editions of expressions, illustrations of insights,  and pages of perception?  You got me.

Today, however, I gleaned the quote above from that beat-up folder. It’s Monday and as far as Mondays go, it was a typical one.  I usually work on Mondays; today was no exception.  I performed my usual assignments,  met with a co-worker about an upcoming event, and generally started gearing up for my job’s busy season. Back home, I also performed my usual Monday tasks, which included making dinner for hubby and me.

So one-seventh of my week was spent in the usual fashion today, with the exception of writing this blog post.  And that’s my point for today.

If I just live my life in normal mode every day performing the same routine week after week, year after year, what difference am I making in this world?

I’m not a flamboyant person or someone who you would define as extraordinary.  I’m just ordinary.

But my desire is to accomplish something extraordinary, even if that something is just causing one other person to be encouraged for this day.

Or causing one person to examine the way he leads his life and make a change for the better.   Or causing one person to open her Bible and come to know my personal Savior as her own.  Or causing one person to find comfort, warmth, friendship, joy, or peace.  That’s why I write this blog.

“Don’t just fill your life with years. Fill your years with life.”  Another quote from my faithful folder.  Biblical scholars believe wise King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, and in it, he states that obsessions we chase after like wisdom, pleasure, toil (work), advancement, and riches are actually all meaningless.

A life centered on attaining those aspects to glorify and please ourselves instead of using them to serve and glorify God has no purpose.  I am guilty as charged and I need to examine how I spend each day – that one-seventh of my week – as it comes.  And in doing so, God may use me to do something extraordinary, and I might not even be cognizant of it.   That is my hope for this day and each one to follow.

“Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.  Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.  Direct me, in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”  ~ Psalm 119:33-37

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com