Do you ever just get bone weary of doing the same task over and over again? Day in, day out. Week in, week out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out.
If you’re anything like me, you do. Often times, I just need some change in my life instead of the same old, same old, you know?
I thought about this while doing the laundry last week. Laundry is never finished, is it? It’s the same chore over and over again.
For over 40 years, the Papa of this empty nest has worn white T-shirts. As newly-marrieds, my hubby wore those white tees under his Army fatigues.
After his Army days and for the next couple of decades, he continued wearing white tees under his crisply starched dress shirts worn with a business suit. And even though his business days are over, he still wears those white cotton tees.
So for 40 years, they land in our laundry hamper the way he puts them In there – inside out. Always. No matter how many times I’ve
admonished asked him to please put them in right side out, he manages to forget.
And come laundry day, there they are – those inside out tee shirts.
What’s the big deal, you ask? I’ve spent a good bit of time in those 40 years of doing laundry removing those tees from the dryer and folding them. But before I can accomplish that task, I must make them right, turning the inside where it belongs – inside. Every time. Every T-shirt.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that Papa can and sometimes does do his laundry himself so he must be the turner of tees then. But more often than not, this chore falls upon me.
Last week was no exception. There was a large load of whites to be laundered. And the bulk of it consisted of those white T-shirts….which I had to turn right side out again.
You know how people often say God works in mysterious ways? Well, often times he works in the everyday ordinary ways for this gal. He gets my attention in ways others may find peculiar and gives me food for thought with the most commonplace events.
He takes the mundane and turns it into the extraordinary in my thoughts. And almost always teaches me a lesson I needed to learn.
What does all of this have to do with laundering and correctly folding my husband’s white T-shirts?
While I was righting those inside out shirts again for the millionth time, I started getting annoyed with my husband. When he strips off those shirts and dunks them in the clothes hamper, why are they always inside out? Why can’t he remember to turn them back the right way so I don’t have to or at least take them off so they’re not inside out?
Why? Why? Why? How many times must I do this task of making them right? Over and over again.
And that’s when the Lord stopped me in my raving rant. Halted me in my tracks of tirade.
How many times has the Lord righted our wrongs? Does He look down upon us humans and think, “There they go again. Committing the same transgressions! How many times must I forgive them when they turn their lives inside out? How many times must I set them on the right path – again?”
I know He doesn’t lose His patience with us. I know He doesn’t get annoyed with us even though we are not faithful to follow Him. Even though He must listen to us whine about the same old issues in our prayers.
How many times does He forgive our transgressions and faults and calls them forgiven once and for all because of what Jesus did on the cross for us? He continues to forgive us when we fall yet again and commit another wrong.
How many times has He shown me grace…and mercy…and love? He never grows tired of me and my same old issues but lovingly corrects me and sets me straight.
Again and again. Day in, day out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out.
And shouldn’t I offer this same grace to my husband? Again and again. Over and over. Even while righting the inside out.
“To forgive for the moment is not difficult. But to go on forgiving, to forgive the same offense every time it recurs to the memory – there’s the tussle.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Today is the last day of the 3 Day, 3 Quote Challenge. I enjoyed participating and adding a little tweak to the challenge by using my own photographs to accompany each quote and adding another related quote at the end of each post.
Thank you again to my blogging friend Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul who sent me the original challenge.
I nominate any of you fellow bloggers out there to accept the challenge and pass it on.
“Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” ~ Tom Lehrer
I’m taking a little deviation from the norm on this Wednesday and posting a photo with words instead of my usual Wordless Wednesday. I agreed to the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge extended to me by my blogging buddy Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul. Thank you again, Yamina, for nominating me.
If you missed my post yesterday, click here to read more. In order to fulfill the rules of this challenge, I’d like to nominate any of my blogging friends willing to take up the gauntlet of posting three quotes for three days in a row. You don’t have to use photos like I did, just post quotes if you’d like.
Marrying my love for quotes with my photography hobby has been fun and more challenging for me.
I captured this photo near Asheville, North Carolina one summer in the early evening. I remember how well the sun’s rays radiated through the clouds in this photo and I knew it was a perfect fit for the Corrie Ten Boom quote.
Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian whose family hid Jews in their closet during World War 2 helping them escape from the terror of the Holocaust, spoke volumes about her faith in this quote.
She knew firsthand how to let God’s promises overcome her problems. Both she and and her sister were imprisoned by the Nazis in a concentration camp for their actions, and at least one of her family members died in prison if I recall correctly.
“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.” ~ Dwight L. Moody
If you’re a regular reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you probably have noticed by now that I love quotes. My “signature” at the end of each blog post I compose includes an accompanying quote fitting the subject.
I’ve always loved words. And I’ve always enjoyed reading other’s words especially when they invoke profound meaning or touch my heart in some way.
That’s why I keep quotes. I truly do. I started a quotes notebook in my college days (more than 40 years ago). I have retained that old notebook, now filled with pages of handwritten quotes I’ve gathered, and open it regularly.
In between the hand-written lined pages, more inspirational sayings written on scraps of paper, are stuffed. I keep adding to my treasured notebook whenever I come across a quote that ‘speaks’ to me.
A dear friend of mine once gifted me with a book of quotations, and I have another online version of a quotation book on my Kindle app. Those three sources are my go-to when I am in need of a meaningful saying. And if I don’t find what I’m looking for in any of those, I tap into the internet.
Last week, one of my fellow bloggers, who also uses lovely quotations in her writing, nominated me for a perfect ‘throw down’ – the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge.
So this week on Mama’s Empty Nest is going to be a bit different. Instead of publishing written posts with my own thoughts, I will combine this quote challenge with another activity I enjoy – photography.
It will kind of be like what I post on Wordless Wednesday except with words. A photo with a quotation that fits it well like my first entry above.
But first things first, I must thank my blogger friend Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul for nominating me. Thank you, Yamina! We have a shared love of good quotes!
Here are the rules for the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge:
Easy peasy except for rule number three; I struggle with that one. I know not everyone likes or wants to do these blogging challenges, so I may not be able to nominate three bloggers every day.
If I do nominate you, please don’t feel obligated to participate. You can just say “no, thank you” and I won’t be offended.
To my readers, I hope you enjoy my responses to this challenge today, tomorrow, and Thursday.
And of course, I must sign off with yet another quote.
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” ~ Amy Poehler
I kind of take issue with cacti.
First of all, I have a problem with this species of plant. You know how lots of folks possess ‘green thumbs’ and can just grow and nurture plants so that they are beautifully healthy and vibrant?
Well, I’m not one of those. I tend to call myself a ‘black thumb.’ Not even a brown thumb – nope, a black thumb because every plant I’ve ever tried growing indoors succumbs to the black death. Done for. No blooming, no green leaves, nothing, nada…well, you get the picture.
And my uncanny knack of killing indoor plants even extends itself to cacti. I mean, seriously, who kills a cactus? It doesn’t need much attention. It doesn’t get too upset if you forget to water it because it isn’t a thirsty thing. It thrives under adverse conditions. Well, under my care, cacti croak. Big time.
So I stay away from the spiny little plants that you can keep inside your home, even though some of them are kind of attractive and even bloom lovely flowers.
And I really take a wide berth around those plants when it comes to outdoor cacti. Those things are downright dangerous!
Having grown up in the northeast, I truly wasn’t too familiar with any kind of cactus until shortly after Papa and I were married. Forty years ago we moved to Oklahoma where Papa served in the military.
We lived in the Sooner State for a few years and my sister, brother-in-law, and their family also just so happened to live a couple hours north of us. Where their ranch was located, some cacti grew on their property.
I knew they were prickly and not to touch one lest you get stabbed by their spiky spines. Now my sis and brother-in-law were also transplants from our neck of the woods so they weren’t exactly experts on cacti either.
Before I continue this story, I must tell you right up front that my brother-in-law is like an older brother to me. He’s been a part of our family for almost as long as I can remember. And so, when I was younger, he often treated me the way you would a kid sister with teasing and joking around.
My brother-in-law, the jokester, once surprised my mom by picking her up and sitting her in the kitchen sink when she was certain he wouldn’t dare do such a thing. So he’s always been the kind of guy that could give us a good laugh.
Back to my cactus story. On a visit to see my relatives, we were all walking around their property and noticed some flat paddle-shaped cacti growing here and there. Paddle-shaped. That must have given Brother-in-law the idea that it might be funny to pick one up and slap my backside with it, like you would use a paddle.
What he didn’t realize was that those little hair-like profusions of spiny things sticking out on the cactus wouldn’t just give me a sharp little jab like he thought they would, but would actually penetrate my clothing and with needle-like sharp precision stick in my skin underneath my clothing, much like I imagine porcupine quills or darts would. Lots of tiny cactus spines. In my backside. Uh-huh.
He was mortified to say the least. And without exposing too much information, my sister had to utilize tweezers to relieve me of my painful affliction.
Now, you may understand why I don’t get too chummy with a cactus, no matter what it looks like.
So, back in February, Papa and I visited this same sister and brother-in-law in their new home in the Arizona desert. Where there are lots of cacti. And some crazy plant that is called a “jumping” cactus; its real name is Jumping Cholla.
They aren’t huge things like the Saguaro and the Chollas are kind of cute. Some are even called Teddy Bear Cholla. But beware of their ‘cuteness’ because their needles are extremely sharp and have hundreds of microscopic scales.
So if you happen to walk by one and faintly brush up against it, you will be one sorry person. The pods containing the needles detach and spring onto you and are apparently quite painful and very hard to remove.
Ouch! Sister and Brother-in Law were careful to warn us about these scary cacti because they were fairly abundant in their area. You can be certain when we were ATV riding on desert trails, I was making darn sure no part of my body or clothing was sticking out close enough to one of those bad babies.
Of course, the old, crazy cactus paddling story came up in our conversation during our visit. And we laughed and laughed over it. Because honestly, it is funny.
As I recall all of this, it occurs to me that I could be negative about my up close and personal encounter with a cactus all those years ago and hold it against my brother-in-law. But what purpose would that serve? He didn’t intentionally try to hurt me nor would he ever do so. I love him like he is my blood brother and I do believe he cares for me like a sister.
All of this to say that I found myself amused this week when a Facebook friend posted this quote:
“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.” ~ Joyce Meyer
Last Sunday morning in worship, our pastor reminded us to that to love someone as Christ loves us is to keep short accounts. To not dwell on the wrongs that have been done to you. Especially if the offender asks forgiveness, and even if he/she never does.
When you embrace a negative attitude about your situation in life or towards another person who may truly have done something almost unforgivable to you, it just makes your own life that much more challenging. More complicated. More grueling.
Who wants that? Not me. So I’m not sitting on any cactus that comes my way. Are you?
“Life is like a cactus, thorny but beautiful.” ~ Unknown
What makes you smile?
What is it that makes you demonstrate a certain facial expression that tells the world you’re either pleased, have affection for something, or are just plain amused by the object of your attention? What causes the corners of your mouth to turn up in a recognizable curve?
Back in the day, crooner Dean Martin sang these lyrics: “When you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you.”
Is that true? Is a smile contagious? Does a smile on my face cause a smile to emerge on yours?
I once read a Chinese proverb that proclaimed, “Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.”
That surely makes it sound like something as simple as a smile can make a huge difference in this world.
If you guessed that this past week’s Word Press photo challenge theme is smile, you can go ahead and let your face light up with a grin because you are absolutely correct.
I find it’s hard not to reciprocate when someone greets you with a big ol’ smile on his/her face. That tells me that there is something about this facial expression that is hard to keep to yourself.
Several years ago in this blog, I wrote about a little boy who gave me a smile, a rare thing for him according to his peers. If you care to read that post, which may cause your mouth to curve upward in that familiar expression, you can click here.
Mother Teresa once said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
So what are the things that make me smile? That make my face break into a happy dance? That demonstrate the things I love?
Sunsets and sunrises. My two adorable little grandchildren. When my family is all together in one place at one time.
A vibrant fall foliage-dressed tree. Blue skies and sunshine. Blooming flowers bursting into colors of the rainbow.
And yes, while we’re at it, rainbows after a storm. Birds enjoying a feast at our bird feeder. Baby animals.
Spending time with good friends. Hearing an old special song on the radio. Worshiping my Lord in and out of church.
I could plaster this post with pictures of all of those smile-giving items I just mentioned, so it proved to be a challenge just to choose one photo. But I finally decided on this one. My oldest sister and brother-in-law. Two people I love dearly and don’t get to see enough because they live far away from me.
I snapped this photo of them sharing a smile one summer a couple of years ago when they were visiting us. I can’t remember at all what made them turn to each other with big grins on their faces. Life hasn’t always been easy for them in their well over 50 years of marriage, and they’ve had to endure some health issues, but they still can smile.
And that makes me smile.
“Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo
It was like a little Easter blessing.
How often does a little one initiate a conversation about Jesus through a totally off-topic discussion?
A few days before Easter, my daughter was telling me about someone who had gotten married. My three-year-old granddaughter, playing in the room at the time, evidently was listening to our conversation.
She turned to her mommy and pronounced, “I got married!”
We smiled at Little One and her mommy asked her, “Oh, you did? Well, who did you marry?”
Little One paused for only a second or two and promptly answered, “Jesus!”
“You married Jesus?” I asked.
“Uh-huh,” she replied, “cause I love him and he loves me.”
The sweetness of her statement just melted our hearts.
But there was more.
She then asked where he was and why he wasn’t here in the house.
We tried to explain in terms a three-year-old would understand that Jesus lives in heaven, but that his spirit is right here with us, all the time, always there to help and care for us.
“But I want to see him!” she exclaimed. “He needs to come to our house!”
We attempted to explain that when you love Jesus, he takes a place in your heart, even though you can’t see him. Hard theology to understand for such a little one maybe.
But then she seemed to grasp that. “Jesus is in my heart!” she joyfully proclaimed. “And he’s in Mommy’s heart and Nana’s heart!”
Then she ran to her Papa and tried to tell him that Jesus was in his heart too, although we had to clarify to Papa what she was saying because he had missed out on the entire conversation since he was in another room at the time.
The simple unhindered faith of a child. Isn’t that what the Lord asks us to have?
It seemed to satisfy her for a bit, but then a few moments later, she announced, “But I still want to see Jesus.”
Well, she does see him. She sees him in those who believe in him. She sees him in those of us who love her so very much, enough to tell her Jesus loves her more than we do. She sees him in our pastor when she hears him tell the children in our church about Jesus. She sees him working in our lives when we pray with her.
Later in the week, Daughter and I took Little One to a garden center that has fun Easter displays for children and those young in heart. We saw the displays of Easter bunnies, chicks, and other decorations. Little One was even brave enough to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap and get her picture taken.
But more importantly, she saw the reason why we celebrate this holiday in the final display. The real reason for Easter. The sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross and the hope of resurrection he gave us that Easter Sunday morning when the tomb his body was laid in proved empty.
And Little One got to ‘see’ Jesus – granted it was only a pretend facsimile of him but it gave her a concrete idea. And it gave us more opportunity to tell our Little One about the love of a Savior.
Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little Ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong.
Childlike faith. I’m reminded through the eyes of my little grandchild that my faith must consist of completely trusting, without a doubt, the One who loves me and her and you so much he went to the cross for us.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Jesus Christ in Matthew 19:14 (NIV)