Never beyond hope

Overwhelming, that’s what it is.

We turn on the news whether it be on television or online and instantly we’re engulfed with images of despair, destruction, disillusionment. We watch the latest recap and as our eyes are assaulted with depressing images, our ears cringe hearing discouraging words.

Bad news. It surrounds us daily.

And it seems especially disheartening as across the globe, humanity has been dealing with a pandemic as well. For the faint of heart, this trying time in our lives can cause despondency beyond measure. Even for those who are strong, it’s difficult to endure all the madness and suffering we’re exposed to just by tuning into the latest news.

During this tumultuous time, people I know have suffered overwhelming tragedies, been blindsided by serious health issues, lost loved ones, suffered setbacks for their livelihoods, and even most of their personal belongings in a devastating event.

Piled on top of the mountainous, disparaging national and world-wide news like weighty boulders, bad news burdens us, makes us feel as though we can’t recover, we can’t regain what we’ve lost, we can’t cope with the ever burgeoning onslaught.

Times like these shake us to the core. They shake our faith. They make us shake and quiver in disbelief and sadness.

It’s enough to cause one to lose hope.

Little did I know when I snapped the photo above three months ago that it would inspire me to write words about hope.

Just three months ago, Papa and I enjoyed a trip to Arizona to visit relatives. During our trip, the corona virus pandemic news exploded across the airwaves. Our concern wasn’t that we would contract the virus, instead we were a bit apprehensive that our return flight home might be cancelled.

On our three-hour trek to the Phoenix airport the day before our scheduled flight, we decided to take the scenic route with our rental car and not use the interstate highway. That proved a nice, leisurely drive with a couple of short sight-seeing stops and camera ops along the way.

Because businesses started to shut down at that time, our biggest worry became finding a place to use a restroom and somewhere to eat dinner. (We resorted to a Chick-fil-A drive-thru in Tempe and taking our fast food back to our hotel room to eat it.)

Somewhere along the route to Phoenix, I spotted a small church and realized we were passing through a tiny community called Hope, Arizona.

Hope. A nice name for a place out in the desert, I thought. I began wondering about the origin of that little dot on the map, how it got its name, etc. As I was ruminating all of that through my mind, I noticed a sign which immediately garnered my attention.

Exclaiming ‘Oh, look at that!’, I asked Papa to stop the car, but there wasn’t a place to safely do so, a vehicle was directly behind us, and by now, we were well past the sign.

Bless Papa’s heart, he knows how much I enjoy taking photos and he always accommodates my need to stop and jump out of the car with my camera in tow. So he located a place to turn around and go back just so I could snap a photo.

The end result is the photo you saw at the beginning of this post. Then we chuckled at the message of the sign – “YOU’RE NOW BEYOND HOPE.” But I’m not laughing now.

Instead I am concerned. I fear that too many of my fellow human beings feel this way, especially now, that they are beyond hope. That hope doesn’t exist as they struggle to just get themselves and their families through each day.

Hope. It’s something we must never, ever forsake. Greater wordsmiths than I have given us worthy thoughts about maintaining hope, so it is such an important aspect of life.

My Guidebook for Life also tells us much about hope. In just one version of the Bible (New International Version) hope is mentioned 167 times.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I believe God knew we humans would often fall into despair; He knew we would struggle with life; He knew we would become disillusioned and troubled in this fallen world, so He provided words of hope for us to cling to and a Savior to place our hope in.

No matter what comes our way, no matter what tragedy or hardship we encounter and must endure, we are never beyond hope. Not one of us.

In the book of Romans, chapter 15, verse 13, the Apostle Paul wrote “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  

My purpose in writing this blog post is that my readers may find hope in the words written here. If you are struggling today, my hope is that you can see that there is light in all the darkness which feels like it’s surrounding and enveloping you.

That light is hope. It’s hope for a better tomorrow, for a better day one step at a time.

And the God of the universe can fill you with that hope. All you have to do is ask.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~  Desmond Tutu 

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: think

Words to live by:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9 New International Version (NIV)

Or from another version:

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9 The Message (MSG)

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Changing lanes

You know, sometimes you just must leave your house to gain perspective.

Staying at home doesn’t usually bother me. In our retirement phase of life, Papa and I can always find something to occupy our time, a project that needs accomplished around the house or our 2 ½ acre yard.

But while we were all sequestered in our homes the last couple of months, often we just felt the need to escape our house so we jumped in the car and took some “road trips.”

Those so-called trips merely consisted of little jaunts around our area traveling down country roads. Sometimes we hopped on the four-lane highway nearby to take us to another spot to exit and see where another less-traveled road would take us.

When the weather cooperated, we’d amble down the road with our windows wide open, enjoying all-too-rare sunshine and fresh air.

Since our granddaughter was staying with us during this time, she’d often fall asleep in her back seat booster and we’d drive along in peace and quiet. I’d close my eyes (and I admit I too sometimes fell asleep) and just relish sun rays shining through the windshield onto my face and the scent of the country rushing in the open windows.

It was delightful! Mmmm, freshly cut hay….ohhhhh, the sweet aroma of honeysuckle….ahhh, newly mown grass…aha, the fragrance of blooming lilacs.

And then – UGH! A noxious odor filled my nostrils and I’d open my eyes, gag, hold my breath, and cover my nose. Why? Roadkill.

Plenty of white-tailed deer populate our surroundings and inevitably wind up dead alongside our highways, bi-ways, and country roads. In addition, all other kinds of critters – skunks, opossums, raccoons, wild turkeys – race across roads in a battle with oncoming cars and trucks and lose.

Those unfortunate animals become roadkill, bloating up, baking in the sun, and causing a foul, decaying smell in the middle or on the side of the roadway that just about knocks you over.

Roadkill is gross and repugnant.  It’s both horrid to see and nauseating to smell, but it is reality, especially here in the country.

And that reminds me of life. You can be tooling along, happy as a clam, enjoying what comes your way, and then bam. Something is rotten in Denmark or at least on your roadway of life.

Something unpleasant or offensive causes you to scrunch up your nose not because of its odor but because it’s repulsive or downright disheartening to deal with. That’s the realistic side of traveling down life’s highway as a human being on this planet earth.

We’re not always promised pleasant times or that something wicked doesn’t this way come. We must deal with the ugly, the cruel, or the worrisome event that occurs in life without letting it overwhelm us and turn us into a putrid form of roadkill ourselves.

Reality requires us to deal with it and we do in the best way we possibly can. But I’d much rather hold my breath and change lanes to avoid the foul and vile so I can focus on something pleasant and encouraging.

Something like the most delicious aroma from the lily of the valley growing in our flower garden. That brings joy to my highway of life.

“The highway of life was littered with the roadkill of those who didn’t know when to change lanes.” ~ Karen White

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: be the light

This summer, I will celebrate an anniversary of sorts.  Ten years of writing in my little cyberspace world, Mama’s Empty Nest.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared some throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog and do so again today.

Back in August 2011 when I wrote the following post, my husband and I had come through a dark tunnel of uncertainty into the light of security. As I re-read this past post, it occurred to me that our world – especially here in the United States – is going through the same thing. Dark times, uncertainty, events blasted across the air waves and internet that shake us to the core.

We need some light. We need to BE the light in this dark world. That’s my hope for us.

If happiness were measured by how much the sun was shining, in my world today it would be blindingly bright.

The last several months have been a bit of a trial for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest, not unbearable just a time of uncertainty.  We’ve considered much, reflected more, and have diligently sought God’s guidance as we faced a period of insecurity.   Through it all, hubby and I have tried to seek God’s will, petitioned Him in prayer and waited….and waited.

We’ve praised and thanked God the Father for the provisions made for us and how He continued to supply our needs during our trial.   We’ve held tightly to our faith; scripture from 1 Peter 5:7 has been especially comforting to me:   “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.”

And just like that first beaming ray of sunshine thrust downward from the sky piercing its way through the dark and ominous clouds of a rainstorm, our long-awaited answers to prayer arrived this week, not just one answer but two!

American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Just as there comes a warm sunbeam into every cottage window, so comes a love-beam of God’s care for every separate need.”

Today, on this 10th page of my book of Opportunity in Chapter 7, there’s not just a warm sunbeam shining in our country home cottage window.  Instead I feel like my entire home is ablaze with sunshine – a beacon of light – as God, maker of heaven and earth, has poured blessings upon our heads.

For most of this year, my husband has been unemployed.   There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, encouragements and disappointments as he sought another position.   In a period of time that can be devastating and demoralizing, I can honestly say – in our 33 years of marriage –  I have never seen my husband stronger.

Instead of embracing defeat, he embraced our Savior Jesus Christ more than ever through reading the Word and devout prayer, through servanthood to others, and his willingness to help those in more dire need than ourselves.

I believe God has blessed my husband for his steadfastness and faith, for his total reliance on Him, and for his thorough self-examination identifying attitudes and thoughts he needed to change.  Just this week, my husband was offered a job.  Not just any job, but a job that he is excited about,  an emotion he hasn’t experienced when it comes to work for a very long time.

On the heels of that sunbeam of joy that radiated down over us, our oldest daughter flew in for a job interview in our nearby city.   She truly loves her current job and employer in the Deep South, but after four years of living in that area, her heart tells her she doesn’t want to stay there any longer.  She recently expressed her desire to live closer to our family, a prayer desire Mama and Papa have lifted to the Father for quite some time.

After a promising phone interview, a prospective employer asked her to fly in for a face-to-face.  Again joy permeated through me like the warmth of a sunbeam when our daughter was offered a new job right here in our city!  Celebration reigned at our house this weekend!

This morning at o’dark thirty, Papa and I drove our beloved eldest to the airport for her early morning flight back south, where she won’t reside much longer.  This time, the farewells at the terminal weren’t melancholy, they were jubilant as we look forward to the future.

The sun started rising as we headed home afterward.  As dawn began to break, the old Sunday School song, I’ll Be a Sunbeam, came to my mind.

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That song echoed through my mind while I tried to stay awake as we entered a tunnel on our way from the airport into the city. 

As you exit this particular passageway, you are treated to a full view of our beautiful city.  The sight of it never ceases to inspire awe in me.

This morning, upon exiting the tunnel, another awe-inspiring sight revealed itself – the gorgeous morning sun, rising up like a gargantuan round orb of luminous orange-red.  Its light blinded me as it perched perfectly between two sentinel skyscrapers, slowly ascending into the morning sky, and I chastised myself again for not grabbing my camera before I left the house.  It truly was a breath-taking, beautiful sight and I gasped, then said to hubby, “Wow!  Look at that!”

A scripture in Judges 5:31 came to my mind:  “So may all your enemies perish, Lord!   But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.”

As I squinted into the sun’s radiance, I thought, “How could we ever appreciate the sun if we never had night?”

Likewise, how could we ever appreciate the blessings if we never endured trials?  How could we appreciate life’s happiness if we never experienced life’s storms?

Jane Porter, a Scottish novelist in the 1800’s, once wrote:  “Happiness is a sunbeam which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray.  When it strikes a kindred heart, like the converged light upon a mirror, it reflects itself with the redoubled brightness.  It is not perfected until it is shared.”

Happiness, like sunbeams, are not perfected unless they are shared, and I think that’s true about faith as well.  That’s why I must share my faith in Jesus Christ with you in hopes that you too might want to be a sunbeam for Him. ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

In times like these – now in 2020 – when so much seems dark and foreboding; when we shake our heads in disbelief, anger, frustration, and all other kinds of negative emotions; that’s when we, those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ, must shine.

The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker— travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.” ~ Proverbs 4:18-19

It’s time for us to be sunbeams. To exhibit love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let’s not just embrace the light that comes from our faith in a Savior, let’s BE the light.

And even if you don’t profess to be a person of faith, you still can be a light by embracing those qualities and displaying them to all.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~ Desmond Tutu

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: revealed in light

It has occupied the same space on our office desk for over 20 years now.

Twenty years of knowing about its existence. Twenty years of noticing and using it just about every single day. Twenty years of acknowledging its presence but not realizing its importance.

Until just the other day.

Over 20 years ago, our family of five was unsettled. We had just moved from one side of our country to another – from the Pacific Northwest to our home state of Pennsylvania. Our household goods were in storage, we hadn’t found a home to call our own yet, my mother was in the throes of cancer treatments so we were temporarily living with my parents, and Papa diligently was searching for employment.

In the middle of it all, Papa’s mother, my dear mother-in-law, developed more life-threatening health issues and moved from her assisted living facility into a nursing home. Because she lived several hundred miles away from us, my husband’s uncle, a beloved brother of his mother’s who lived near her, cleared out her belongings and stored them for her in his garage.

Shortly afterwards, my mother-in-law passed away. After her memorial service, we sorted through the items, determining what could be given away and what items her sons wanted to take.

Papa’s mother had already downsized significantly from her apartment, where she moved following my father-in-law’s death, and again purged her belongings when she secured a room in the assisted living facility. So we accomplished the task of going through what was left in an afternoon.

Items we kept and brought home with us were not of great value, simply sentimental. One of those was a glass, rectangular-shaped paperweight with a sepia-toned picture pasted on the back of mothers, children, and a couple of cherubs.

It was a little odd but as long as Papa could remember, that paperweight sat on his mother’s secretary desk. Obviously old, we opted to keep it along with another circular glass paperweight sporting our nation’s Capitol building in Washington, DC.  

So for the last 20+ years, both have occupied different spots on our home office desk where our desktop computer is located. Both Papa and I have shuffled hundreds of pieces of papers around this desk. We’ve written notes and stuck them under that rectangular paperweight with the odd picture umpteen thousand times in the last 20 years.

But just the other day, something happened that stunned me and then caused me to additionally ponder. As usual when a visual presents itself to me, my mind searches for some kind of meaning from it.

The morning sun streamed through our office windows that day when I opened the blinds. As I often do in the early mornings, I imbibed in a cup of hot tea while logging onto the desktop computer, checking email, perusing social media, reading my fellow bloggers’ words, and attempting to conjure up my own blog posts for the week.

After so many dreary, overcast days, I welcomed the sunlight pouring in but its intensity almost blinded me while sitting at the desk. I didn’t want to close the blinds because well…sunshine makes me happy. So I shifted my chair over a tad in order to shield my eyes from the bright sunlight and that’s when I noticed it.

A brilliant ray of sunshine shone through that odd, old, glass paperweight. And as it did so, I noticed something I had never before seen – there was some kind of etching on the short end of the rectangular glass.

What??? I’d never seen that before! I picked up the paperweight and when I held it just so, I could see the etching included three upper case initials. Puzzled, I began to wonder whose initials they were because they did not match either my mother-in-law or my father-in-law’s names.

I called to my husband and asked him to come take a look. He too had no idea whose initials they could possibly be. All along we thought the paperweight had belonged to his mother or perhaps his dad, but what explained the different initials?

Turning the paperweight over in the sunlight, I then noticed more etching in the glass on the other short end of the rectangle shape. There a date was etched – 1900 –  plain as day or plain as could be seen when direct light hit it.

1900? So this paperweight had to be at least 120 years old. Wow. Again the wheels started spinning in my mind. 1900 – my father-in-law was then two years old (yes, you read that correctly; he was born in 1898).

My father-in-law was the oldest child in his family so he was, in 1900, the only child. The photo in the glass paperweight depicted mothers with children….mothers….and that’s when the proverbial light bulb illuminated in my brain!

The initials! I hurriedly looked up information on Papa’s family. There it was – the initials matched Papa’s grandmother’s name. My father-in-law’s mother. The grandma my husband never knew because she died when he was very young. Perhaps this paperweight was given to her on Mother’s Day in 1900.

We owned a sentimental piece of family history and didn’t even know it until now. A bit of a revelation!

And then my mind took a detour. That paperweight sat in the dark, so to speak, for over 20 years before its real ownership was revealed to us, until just the right angle of light presented it for my eyes to see.

That reminded me of God’s Word where much is written about light. Until I became a believer in Christ, I once was in darkness but as I came to know my personal Savior, I was brought out of that darkness into light, “His marvelous light” as 1 Peter 2:9 tells me.

I recalled that Jesus said, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in” as written in John 8:12 of The Message.

He also proclaimed in John 9:39, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”

And then Jesus revealed Truth when he exclaimed, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.” (John 12:44-46 The Message)

Pondering those words also reminded me that truth is revealed in light. We go about in the dark, perhaps being fed lies after lies and believing them, and then bam! The light exposes the truth! The truth comes to light. What’s hidden in darkness and subterfuge becomes known and displayed in the light.

What was concealed is now revealed. What was covered is laid bare. What was hidden is now shown.  I’ve always cautioned my own children that what you do in secret will be revealed in the light of day. That is truth.

It took sunlight reflecting through a 120-year-old glass paperweight to allow my eyes to see and my mind to be reminded of truth. A little revelation thanks to God and thanks to my husband’s grandmother.

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” ~ Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 6:22-23 of The Message

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Season of life reflections

A lovely pink and blue sunset at our house recently

We turned another page over in the calendar. June arrived yesterday. The month that conjures up summer and all of its plans for outings, picnics, lounging at the pool or beach, vacations. And yet some of us are still under stay at home advisements or under certain phases of “opening up” as imposed by governors of our states.

Summer will be different this year for certain. But we must make the best of it. We must find, for our well-being and sanity, reasons for joy, reasons for happiness, reasons for gratitude, reasons to celebrate.

June is my birthday month and also the birthday month of someone else vitally important to me – my husband, the Papa of this empty nest. And while we probably will not celebrate our special days in big ways  – really, it’s just another day when you get to be in your 60’s – and quite possibly will not even be able to enjoy birthday treats with all of our grown children and adored grandchildren, we will, in some way, enjoy our special days.

We’ll give thanks for another year of life. Another year of living in our quiet, country home. Another year of being able to live life the way we want in this retirement stage of existence. Lord willing, later this summer, we hope to gather with our entire family all together for a week of vacation at a beach.

Something to look forward to.

Even though it is advantageous to be looking forward, often we gain a lot of perspective when we reflect back. When we see how far we’ve come and realize how much we truly have to feel gratitude for, counting our blessings.

So today, I’m looking back, reflecting on my life and my husband’s, thankful for the past, and celebrating what is to come.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

My first birthday & Papa around his first birthday
My 12th birthday & Papa around age 12
Our 20-something birthdays
30-something birthdays
My 60th birthday – 2014
Papa’s 60th birthday – 2015
Favorite birthday treats: chocolate cake for me; strawberry shortcake for him

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: battle

blogDSCN9649In just a couple of months, I’ll be celebrating an anniversary of sorts.  Ten years of writing in my little cyberspace world, Mama’s Empty Nest.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared some throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog and do so again today.

Some things have changed dramatically since I first starting blogging back in 2010 and some aspects of life have not changed a bit. This post from August 2011 details something that is constant in my life and has been even more prevalent during this uncertain time as we endure the covid-19 pandemic. Let’s hope soon we can say, “the battle is over.”

This 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 movie-land.

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 (or banish a virus) 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 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

“Prayer is not preparation for the battle. Prayer IS the battle.” ~ Oswald Chambers.

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: cars, cars, cars

blogIMG_1274I grew up enjoying cars and car rides. My father traveled daily by car around his multi-county territory for his job as a newspaper circulation supervisor. No company cars provided, he used our family vehicle which tallied a lot of miles on our car in a year. So Dad almost always traded our car in for a sparkling new one every two years.

It was always exhilarating when Dad arrived home from work one day driving a brand new car up our driveway. Immediately, we would hop in for a ride in the new one and I so vividly remember that “new car smell.”

Dad liked cars and he even kept a list of all the cars he ever owned which we found shortly after he passed away at the age of 90. That list was fairly long!

Papa and I certainly don’t adhere to the two-year trade-in routine that my father did during his working career. Instead, we hang on to our vehicles as long as possible – even 10-12 years. But no other purchases quite beat the excitement of obtaining a new car or a new to you car for me. 

The car I enjoyed owning the most was a new 1981 Audi 5000 that hubby and I purchased when he was still a military officer. Boy, that car was fun to drive! Now, I’m just happy with our all-wheel drive Subaru Foresters that easily transport us up a wind-blown, drifted shut, snowy driveway every winter.

Yesterday I posted about a classic car show, our brother-in-law, Papa, and I attended in Arizona when we were visiting there.

It was a fun blast from the past and just in case you enjoy a walk down memory lane like I do, I’m posting some more photos I took there.

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And last but not least, one of my personal favorites – traveling with God’s Holy Word in the front seat.

blogIMG_1230“People who, like me, grew up in the 1950s and 1960s after World War II, grew up with cars.” ~ Martin Winterkorn (former Volkswagen AG Chairman)

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Back in time

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Car from the year I was born

I’m a child of the 1950’s, born in that decade. And even though I was just a toddler and young child, there are so many aspects of that time I recall.

My sisters were older than me and became teenagers in that decade. so popular music resounded throughout our house, especially after my oldest sister received a record player one Christmas. Name a song made popular in the 1950’s and I probably can sing some of the lyrics. 

Another memory I vividly recall from the 50’s was when my father drove home a brand new 1958 two-tone purple/lavender automobile. 

After that we enjoyed singing “It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater,” a song released that same year by Sheb Wooley simply entitled, The Purple People Eater. Click here to listen to that old song.

As a little girl, I loved both that song and that purple car and they are entrenched in my memory like so many  other items of that era. Fairly often Papa and I stumble upon an antique shop with various offerings from the 1950’s and early 60’s and I will remark, “Oh, I remember this” and “Wow, we had one of these.”

During our last Arizona trip before the covid-19 panic went berserk, Papa and I attended a classic car show with our brother-in-law, who graduated from high school in 1958. Held at a racetrack on the outskirts of their city, plenty of folks, mostly of an older generation, attended the event.

As we walked the lap around the race track, taking our time so as not to tire out our brother-in-law, we thoroughly enjoyed viewing the various assortment of vehicles – both old and new.  But the ones that drew my attention most were from the 1950’s and 60’s – those I remember best.

blogfuzzydiceSome of the iconic accoutrements that car owners added to their restored models truly made us smile and chuckle too.  Plenty of fuzzy dice hung from rear view mirrors but some took a step even further back in time to help viewers recall the days of drive-in restaurants and when you gathered the family on summer evenings, piled into the station wagon, and headed to the drive-in theater.

blogIMG_1227blogIMG_1257A day full of nostalgia outside in beautiful Arizona sunshine proved to be an experience I won’t soon forget and will store back in those memory banks of my mind – back with the remembrances of the 1950’s and early 60’s.

“Go back. Go back in time. Everyone’s life is a chain of memories. In each chain there are shining links, happenings where this element of wonder…was very strong. Why don’t you reach out and relive some of those memories? If you work at it, remembering the wonder can revive your ability to live life as it should be lived.”  ~ Arthur Gordon Webster

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: the fine art of watering

blogDSCN7726Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve been sharing throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog on Thursdays for the last few weeks and here is yet another one of those from June 2011. 

Whatever the subject, whether it be politics or issues surrounding the covid-19 pandemic, angry, irate words are flying around not just on social media but in person.

Anger doesn’t solve much in my book, except make your stress and your blood pressure rise. It certainly doesn’t give life to your body or spirit and angry arguing doesn’t change someone’s opinion just because you think it should. My hope is that this old post of mine causes us all to stop and think of the impact of our words before we spout off in rage or exasperation or just because we don’t agree. 

I’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

Do I get angry? Of course I do. But if I see something on social media that I don’t agree with, I don’t fire off an angry retort. Instead, I just scroll on by. Virtual shouting matches don’t solve a thing I think. My hope is that we all pause, reflect, and just agree to disagree without vitriol. Offer a bit of kindness and grace instead.

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
~ Ambrose Bierce

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com