Jumping over the hurdle


View from a rock on a restful, pleasant  September Sunday afternoon

It was the time and the season.  For some reason, I don’t go dormant in the winter as some folks do, instead I become dull, listless, and inactive in the dog days of summer.

Summer’s heat and humidity always catch up with me, drag me down in a wilting, simpering heap, and toss me around like the wet dishrag that I feel like. My sweet Southern friends, I do NOT know how you stand it.

A muggy, oppressive July and August devoured my energy like a ravenous hot-breathed wolf scarfing down its prey. And apparently, it also consumed my words and thoughts because I just…could. not. write. And I didn’t want to spend the time it took nor the motivation.

I needed a respite. I needed a sojourn.  I needed a rest away from the computer, away from my blog, away from the feeling of letting readers (and myself) down with the scanty schedule of posting I was doing.

To put it succinctly, I was just plain tired. Tired of heat. Tired of humidity. Tired of hunkering down in my air-conditioned but stuffy house instead of breathing in clean, fresh air. Tired of being imprisoned inside instead of enjoying the summer day’s sunshine on the backyard deck, the front porch swing, or anywhere outside at all. Tired of staring at a computer screen and frantically trying to think of something….something…anything(!!) to write about.

This blog became my chore. And there weren’t enough cute stickers in the world to adhere to my chore chart to make me want to accomplish the task of writing. Frankly, I didn’t want to even be online at all. Social media just perturbed and annoyed me. My email inboxes filled up with stuff I had no desire to read, so I embarked on a delete and purge mission and called it quits except for reading emails from family and one beloved far away friend who totally understands me.

Hence, a few weeks ago, I informed those of you who still click on your email notifications when my blog posts are published or those who click on my Mama’s Empty Nest Facebook fan page or on my personal page links that I was taking a sojourn from writing.

And I did. I managed to rest physically when I could get a good night’s sleep and launched myself into a mental vacation by reading several books just for enjoyment and not taxing my brain with anything that required deep thinking. However, I didn’t necessarily rest emotionally because life and its situations don’t go on sabbaticals and challenges keep popping up in front of me like roadblocks causing detours for unsuspecting drivers.

As I ran around this track of life that I’m on, (sweltering and sweating like crazy), I just got too weary to vault over the hurdles and writing became one of those barriers.  So instead of attempting to sail over it, I knocked it down. I may have kicked it a few times too just for good measure to make sure it stayed down.

But then, a freshening gust of air blew in. September arrived and that meant one thing – fall’s coming. Autumn.  My favorite season of all. Warm but balmy days of sunshine and Crayola crayon shades of blue skies sandwiched in between evenings of falling temperatures and a bit of a nip in the air. Delightful weather that causes me to throw the windows open wide and inhale that freshness that I love and air out my stale house.

This coming season invigorates and revitalizes me. I don’t know why I relish it so much, but I welcome fall with arms stretched outward as far as I can spread. With the promise of autumn, my creative juices start to flow again, words swirl around my mind once more. It’s like I awaken from a heat-induced coma.

So I’m back. I’m not sure I’ll return to my regular posting schedule as before (T, W, Th) because I’m adjusting to some life changes which require much of my time, but I am feeling renewed enough to write again.

There may be days, however, when I just share some photos with you.  Earlier this summer, I wanted to take part in “Developing Your Eye,” a WordPress photography challenge, but I just didn’t have the energy to pursue it. So you know what they say, ‘better late than never.’

The themes for the 10-day challenge encouraged amateur photographers like me to think differently about how we capture what we see with the camera lens, and even though the challenge is long over, I may decide to share my interpretations with you.

Whatever transpires, I’m grateful that I had the good sense to take some time off and indulge in a sojourn from the blogging/internet world. And now that I’ve returned, I hope you come along with me as I continue this journey in Mama’s Empty Nest. No road map needed. I’ll just go where life and the good Lord take me.

“Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”  ― Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com



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I’ve been a little AWOLYK (absent without letting you know) in both the blogging world and also in social media.

Some of you may wonder what’s been occupying my time because I haven’t written much at all lately or even showcased many of my photos. My Facebook page looks pretty vacant except for items posted by my daughters when they tag me and I finally made the decision to stop using Twitter. For me, it’s a waste of time.

I guess I’ve chosen to unplug myself for awhile. So what have I been doing? Papa and I did take a little trip to visit family for a few days, enjoying the time off to spend with loved ones and just relaxing.

But lately, I’ve been lacking in the inspiration to write department. Frankly, I haven’t felt inspired to do much of anything very productive. Call it the dog days of August, but I’ve been feeling this way since the beginning of July. And it continues.  Perhaps it’s just the summer doldrums….or not.

Whatever the case, I’m taking a hiatus.  I began blogging pretty regularly here at Mama’s Empty Nest over six years ago and before that, I wrote sporadically on another blog site. So that equates to about seven years of writing from my heart and soul.

My inspiration to create this blog evolved from finding myself somewhat at wit’s end while dealing with the empty nest syndrome when my last child completed his college education and set off for new horizons launching his career far from home.

Add the fact that my last living parent had passed away by then and I turned to what I always do best when I’m overcome by thoughts, emotions, and perplexing situations – pour out my heart in words.

But that was six years ago. I came to terms with my empty nest and a lot of other life changes and those words I tapped out on my computer screen to share with you helped me do so. My hope is that in some way, my words encouraged others as well.

So where will my words take me from here? I know there are more words to come…they’re just not coming to me right now. Because of that, I’ve decided to take a sojourn – a period of time when you stay temporarily in one place – and embark on a break from blogging.

I don’t know how long I’ll be off the grid, but I want to inform my loyal readers why I’ll be silent for awhile. My sojourn could last a week or two but it may also be a bit longer; I’m just not sure yet. If I follow your blog, I will still read your posts so I don’t get too far behind.

But I am certain I need to do exactly as my photo above says – regroup, refocus, and recharge. And remember why I began this blogging journey while considering where I venture from here.

In the words of The Terminator though, “I’ll be back.”

“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” ~ Doe Zantamata

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

What next? Don’t ask

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Don’t know why, but someone decided to place a wooden cutout figure that looks like Bigfoot on one of our country roads.

It was raining cats and dogs…and bears…and turkeys.

Ever have one of those days when you think, “Wow, I should just have stayed home?” You know the kind of day I’m talking about where one thing after another happens and it truly makes you wonder if there’s a message somewhere in it for you.

This past Saturday morning I had a hair appointment.  Nothing unusual about that. Except that my stylist was on vacation so my appointment was scheduled with the salon owner.  But that’s not unusual either. I like her and she did a beautiful job on my hair.

All was good…so far. The salon is not located in my hometown but a 30 minute drive or so away from my house. Rain had been falling steadily but gently on my way there and we’ve needed rain for quite some time now. So, still good.

But later as I stepped outside the salon in my new ‘do,’ it was pouring. And I had left my umbrella in the car.

Luckily I had parked near the salon door, so I threw my purse up over my head and dodged the raindrops to my vehicle. On my way home though, a deluge hit. Major downpour. Rain coming down in sheets.

Visibility on the road, even with the windshield wipers on super speedy and headlights on, proved very poor. I could barely see the car directly ahead of me and I kept my distance from him as he kept tapping his brakes to slow down through the heavy (that’s putting it mildly) rain.

The old saying, ‘raining cats and dogs’ seemed appropriate as I slowed down along with most of the traffic heading eastward, except for the maniacs who were zooming far above the legal speed limit past us all on the four-lane highway in the heavy rainstorm.

One passing motorist weaved over the line into my lane and I thought he was going to sideswipe me for sure. That’s when I started thinking maybe I should have stayed home today. Just as I was considering finding a spot to safely pull over and wait out the torrential downpour, a break came in the storm.

Rain still fell but not as heavily, so I kept driving. With the lull of the storm also came less traffic as I got closer to home.  I turned my wipers onto a slower speed and was grateful I could see the highway better now.

And that’s when I spied it, a large black animal lumbering across the four-lane from the opposite side directly crossing in front of me so closely that I had to slam on my brakes to prevent hitting the creature.

A bear! A bulky, fairly large black bear so close I could see his eyes.  He loped in front of my car, and entered the front yard of a house near the roadway, coming just feet away from that home’s front door. And of course, I didn’t have time to even think about trying to take a photo of that bear with my cell phone.

Yikes!  A bear crossing all four lanes on the highway! Reminded me of the time when a bear scared the beejeebies out of me as it came around the corner of my house while I was sitting on my front porch swing. 

Still driving home, I thanked the good Lord that I hadn’t hit that bear and that the rain, although continuing, wasn’t as torrential as it had been.  Eventually, my heart rate reached normal again.  I turned onto a side country road, a short cut to my house.

Still raining. Still thinking about the bear and the heavy rain.  I came to a rise in a hill and was startled yet again.

Standing in the absolute middle of the road was a huge, brown, ugly dog.  Just standing. Not moving.  Facing me, the oncoming car.

Slamming on the brakes again, I expected him to run off the road into the woods nearby. Nope.  He stood his ground, staring at me, and maybe it was just my imagination but it seemed as though he was outright defying my vehicle and me.  I literally had to steer my car onto the grassy berm on the side of the road to get past him and he continued to glare at me. Let’s just say I was glad it was raining and my car window was up all the way.

Shaking my head with disbelief from that encounter, I drove on past the weird Bigfoot-like wooden creature that someone erected on this country road (in the photo above) thinking I would be glad to get home.  And I must admit, I was formulating a blog post in my mind about all of this too.

The phrase, raining cats and dogs (and bears), was rambling through my mind when – you’re not going to believe it, but it’s the truth – a black and white cat started running down my side of the road towards me.

Really???  Again, I started to wonder what in the world was going on.  We live in the country and yes, it is a bit of a wild kingdom out here.  I’m very accustomed to having deer appear out of nowhere while driving and other small wildlife, but bears?

And now a dog AND a cat?  On the same day within 15 minutes of each other? What next?  No sooner did that thought cross my mind, I found out.  About a half mile from my house, a small flock of wild turkeys decided to step out in front of me onto the road.

You can believe that I was one happy person to finally arrive home, pull my car into the garage, and breathe a sigh of relief that I was back safe and sound.

The rain still gently fell but the downpour was over and my brush with wildlife was finished as well. Or so I thought.

As I sat in our family room beside the open French door that leads to our backyard deck, I started telling my daughter about my wild drive home.  Out of the corner of my eye through the screen door, I saw a nondescript brown blur. Something was making its way around our yard.

Are you kidding me? Nope. I opened the door, stepped out into the rain, peered around one of our backyard trees and there it was.  Another wild turkey just hanging out at our house.

Raining cats and dogs and bears and turkeys. I decided I would not wonder what would come next.  Didn’t want to know.

So I stayed home the entire rest of the day while the rain stopped and the sun emerged. And I hoped all the cats and dogs and bears and turkeys stopped crossing my path at least for the day.

“Into each life some rain must fall.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  (He never said anything about bears, dogs, cats, and turkeys!)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

All or nothing

blogIMG_1816You’re either in or you’re out. You can only straddle the fence for so long before it becomes necessary to choose which side of that boundary marker you’re willing to jump into.

I find this is true in all aspects of life.  Make a decision.  Choose which side you’re on.  We learn that at an early age and you can witness it on any elementary school playground. Line up on this team or that one but you can’t just hang in the middle.

Except that’s where a lot of us cling – to the middle of the road. We don’t want to jump on this or that bandwagon because it might be politically incorrect or we might offend someone, even our family or friends.  So we compromise (not that that’s a terrible thing, it’s good in some instances) to keep the peace or not be different or in the minority or….you can fill in the blank.

Choose your side. It’s evident in the political arena which is so fired up for the upcoming November presidential election that it reminds me of a wild WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) show gone rogue with manic behavior and ‘roid’ rage.  

It saddens me that people can choose to get oh, so riled up over politics or insert your favorite obsession passion here, yet still choose to be apathetic and indifferent to faith in God.

Today, July 26, is All or Nothing Day. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t been contacted by a complete stranger who just so happened to have read a blog post or two of mine.  

A few weeks ago, I opened my email inbox and noticed a message from a stranger. Now I will admit that I’m a sceptic when I get unsolicited emails and usually just hit the delete button.

But every so often, I get an email that my heart tells me to open and read and, believe it or not, I have had some absolutely wonderful email conversations with a few blog readers who were complete strangers to me.  Those rare occurrences have blessed my heart with the stories they’ve shared with me and how reading my written words touched them enough to reach out and contact me.  In the words of an old friend of mine, “It’s a God thing.”

So something in my heart implored me to open this email:

“Happy Wednesday! I wanted to send a note after seeing how you embrace a healthy, mindful home and life on your blog. I wanted to let you know about All or Nothing Day on July 26th, a day dedicated to living life to the fullest. I’m a 10 year survivor of a rare cancer called mesothelioma, given just 15 months to live upon diagnosis, then and there I decided it was all or nothing from that day on.I’m emailing you because I wanted to ask if you would be willing to help spread the word. It would be fantastic if you joined me on your blog in remembering why we’re here and what we’re most passionate and proudest of.”

Okay, I used to work in journalism. I know how to check out facts. Plus at my ripe old age, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.  I wanted to ascertain this was legit. So I did what everyone else in the world does.  I googled the writer of the email.

I discovered she is exactly who she says she is. A cancer survivor.  Someone who chose to fight with all she had and wage a war (and it can be a long war with battle after battle) against the rogue cells in her own body which wanted to snuff out her life.

But more than that, she is an advocate who embraces life with gusto, passion, and much vigor to spread awareness not just about cancer but those affected by the particular one that she had been diagnosed with – mesothelioma. 

This lady is all in.

I emailed her back and asked her to tell me more.  She didn’t ask for a monetary donation to her cause; really she didn’t ask that much of me.  All she hoped I would do is write a little on my blog about what All or Nothing Day might mean to me.

It’s the least I can do.  One cancer survivor to another.

According to Heather Von St. James, this is what All or Nothing Day embraces:

“…it’s all about celebrating those moments where we’ve gone all out and also highlighting what our passions and proudest moments are in life. It captures the spirit of how I’ve tried to embrace each day since my diagnosis over ten years ago. As a cancer survivor I’ve dedicated myself to being an advocate for those affected by mesothelioma, spreading cancer awareness and educating on the continued dangers of asbestos…along with my family it’s what I give my all to every single day! I’d love for you to join by creating a post on your blog with what All or Nothing Day sparks with you, I think the beauty of this day is that it’s so different for everyone and it would be fantastic to see what you share to help inspire your readers!” 

So there you have it. 

A decision to make. You’re either in or you’re out.

I’ve thought, pondered, and asked the Lord what I should write to signify what All or Nothing Day means to me. What inspires me? What sparks the flame of passion within me? What do I most want to share with my readers?

The answer became quite clear. It comes right down to a basic part of who I am – my faith.

I’m either a believer in Jesus Christ or I’m not. I either place my complete faith and trust in Him or I don’t. I’m either all for Him or all against Him. I must choose sides even if I want to stay in the comfortable middle.

Because that is what He requires of me. I don’t want to be like the church of Laodicea, a spiritually dead church, written about in the Book of Revelation in the Bible (New Testament). Those believers were lukewarm about their faith in Christ.  They weren’t hot – being on fire or passionate about their faith in God – and they weren’t cold – strongly against the things of the Lord – either.  They were just apathetic, listless, unconcerned, and lethargic.

Jesus rebuked them in Revelation 3: 15-17 (The Message version):  “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.”

Strong words but truth. Lukewarm believers, like those in that ancient church, claim to know the Lord, they may even attend church, but they are complacent. They straddle the fence. Not all in nor all out. And they can cause more damage than those who completely reject Jesus.

Lukewarm believers claim to be Christians, but their hearts aren’t changed.  They lack the kind of love for the Savior that requires zeal and passion. They aren’t on fire for Him. Only repentance can change such a heart and those who are ‘hot’ for the Lord commit themselves completely to Him.  

All or nothing.

When folks examine me and how I live my faith and what fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) I may exhibit, there’s one thing I hope they see in me.

A soul on fire for Jesus. And nothing less.

Because it’s all or nothing and I’m totally in. All in.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Click here: Soul on Fire



Stop the world

blog266Stop the world, I want to get off.

That was a saying bantered around in the 1960’s and it was actually the name of a Broadway musical stage production back then too. (You older folks will remember the same songs I do from it: What Kind of Fool Am I? and Gonna Build a Mountain.)

Stop the world, I want to get off. The 60’s decade was a turbulent one but it is in the past. Yet here we are some 50 years later and our world seems just as unstable.

Stop the world! I want to get off!

That’s the thought and maybe even the prayer that screams through my mind when I hear the latest news.  Another attack on law enforcement officers in our nation over the weekend. Terrorist attacks taking place with alarming regularity across the globe.

I don’t usually post about what’s going on in the world according to the media.  I don’t want to write about divisiveness and all the negativity that is exactly what the world seems all about right now whether it be in politics, social issues, religions, or even economics.

It’s enough to make my head spin and my heart sick just catching the news on TV or in the newspapers and especially on social media like Twitter or Facebook, which I don’t really credit as being a reliable source of information because there is just way too much wacky stuff on there.

So I generally stay away from those topics here on Mama’s Empty Nest. Why? Not because I don’t care about issues affecting our world today.  I do care so much about many of the ills we suffer in this world; they break my heart and cause me such great concern for the lives of my grandchildren and their future.

And it’s not because I don’t have an opinion or viewpoint on those topics. I certainly do.

But I choose not to write about such things because I try to keep a positive outlook and encourage not discourage. Stir up inspiration not dissension. Be a calming and soothing influence not a catalyst to spark the flames of rage.

I choose not to write about social causes or politics or whatever the latest trend cultural hot spot is because doing so seems to bring out the evil twin that lurks in all of us. 

Today it seems that we can’t just agree to disagree. Instead people resort to hateful name-calling, excessive and angry arguing, and vehement violence in a heartbeat.

But I cannot be silent when my own heart is telling me to proclaim something right here on my blog that I believe with my entire being.

I don’t know how or when this madness is going to stop and I fear it won’t.  It will only escalate unless we do something to change the path of this nation and this world.

And I can’t run away or wish for the world to stop rotating in this vile circle of destruction so I can get off.

What’s happening to us humans on this planet is a serious illness. It’s a heart condition. A blight on the human soul.

But it’s not terminal. At least it doesn’t have to be. I know of only one way to heal these heart and soul conditions. There’s only one way to stop the hate and change human hearts.  

Turn our eyes upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

As for me, that’s what I must and will do. I invite you to do the same.

“The mind can’t delete what the heart won’t let go of.” ~ Peggy Toney Horton

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Defying gravity

blogIMG_8196When life knocks you flat on your back, remember it left you looking up.

I look up a lot.  Life has taught me to do that. Often I never know what’s coming down the pike, so I tend to look up to the heavens for help to get through the next big thing.

From where does my help come? “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” ~ Psalm 121:2

I do find myself looking up — a lot.  In the warmth of summer, I turn my face upwards toward the sun.  After a rain, I look up to see if there’s a rainbow spread across the sky.  At night, I find myself gazing at the stars and marveling at how many I can see living out here in the country.

Yes, I look up.  I look up at clouds, whether they be puffy, fluffy white cotton-like or dark, menacing, stormy ones.

I look up to see a jet leaving its contrail plume behind it. 

I look up as I hear helicopter blades chopping the silence and I often utter a silent prayer for someone possibly being life-flighted to one of the trauma hospitals in our nearby city.

I look up when I notice a hot air balloon or a blimp coasting along the airways.

I look up to watch birds take wing to soar or butterflies flit and float by.

I look up as I walk down a woodsy path when I hear the leaves rustle through the trees over my head.

I look up because life on this earth is hard enough without always looking down.

Looking down weighs me down just as surely as gravity holds me on this planet. Looking down secures me to this earth where people are viciously cruel to one another, folks become seriously ill, hearts get trampled and broken, disappointments abound, and life eventually deteriorates and ends, and it all grieves my soul. 

I look up because it makes me happier.  I look up because it makes me realize how tiny and insignificant I am compared to the power of my God, who holds everything I see in the palm of His hand.

I look up because it gives me hope.

I look up because it provides me inspiration.

I look up because it strengthens my faith.

“Believers, look up — take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.” ~ Billy Graham

(Linking up to the weekly photo challenge theme – Look Up – today.)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com