Something in the water

blogimg_1434Back in the summer when I was hibernating, I missed the opportunity to participate in a Developing Your Eye photography activity on Word Press.

Summer zapped me big time and I just didn’t have the energy nor the inclination to join up. But cooler fall weather finally awakened me from my slump, although occasionally I am still as grumpy as a bear staggering squint-eyed from its lair.

So today’s post is focused on that challenge’s third day photography theme – water.

Water, what would we do without it?  Scientists say the surface of this planet revolving around the sun 365 days of the year is 71% water.  In comparison, adult humans’ bodies are comprised of around 60% water. Water sustains life, we’re told, because every living cell must have it to continue functioning.

Without water, we die. It’s as simple as that. Our bodies can only survive three to five days without it, although in some cases, people have lasted a week. Regardless, we need water. It’s a must.  I drink a lot of it every single day and it is my preferred drink with meals.

But we don’t just physically require water for life, I believe.

Even though I am not much of a country music fan, the words to Carrie Underwood’s song, “There’s Something in the Water” came to my mind as I began thinking about this theme and perused my photograph cache – both digital and film pictures from years ago. That song embraces a spiritual aspect of water.

There must be something in the water (amazing grace)
Oh, there must be something in the water (how sweet the sound)
Oh, there must be something in the water (that saved a wretch)
Oh, there must be something in the water (like me)

For me, there obviously is more to it than just something ‘in’ the water. There’s something ‘about’ the water as well.

You see, I seem to take an abundance of photos of water. Streams. Rivers. Lakes. Waterfalls. Oceans. Rain. Water drops. Even puddles.  For some reason, I’m drawn to water – not to be in it, no, I’m not an avid swimmer, no water dog. Nor am I partial to being on the water either. Ask Papa about how many times he has suggested us going on an ocean cruise.

But I do like to be near water. To sit beside it. To listen to it. To gaze at it. To see beauty in it. And to attempt to capture all of that in a photo.

I turned to my Guidebook for Life – my Bible – and I wasn’t too surprised that water is mentioned over 600 times in the version I read the most – the New International Version – from Genesis, the very first book, to Revelation, the very last.

Water. It’s not just vital for our human physical life. It’s vital for spiritual life as well which is why you will find so many references to water in the Scriptures. It’s used to symbolize a variety of concepts in God’s Word and you could spend a lot of time just studying this one word.

I tend to think of spiritual water as a refreshing, cleansing element just like that Carrie Underwood song.  That’s why a passage in Chapter Four in the book of John in the New Testament speaks to me.

Jesus asks for water from a Samaritan woman at the well. He tells her about living water when he says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” He’s talking about the gift of salvation that comes through belief in Him.

My sweet little granddaughter likes to drink water. Inevitably, she swallows, smiles, and then says, “Ahhhh.”  She’s already learned that water satisfies our thirst like nothing else.

And that’s like Jesus. He is the kind of living water that satisfies all thirst. Each time I gaze upon the water, hear either its roar in the ocean wave or its delicate tinkle in the flow of a stream or its constant pitter patter of rain on my roof, or taste the cool, refreshing sip of clear, clean water, I think of Him and what He accomplished on the cross for me and you.

And I am refreshed.

 “Did you ever feel the tongue dry, the lips parched, and the throat feverish, and then, bringing a goblet filled with pure water to your lips, do you remember the sensation as it trickled over your tongue and gurgled down your throat? Was it not a luxury?… Here is a beverage brewed for us by our Heavenly Father—brewed, too, in beautiful places…. He brews pure water, far away on the mountain top, whose granite peak glitters like gold in the sunlight; away again, on the wide wild sea, where the hurricane howls its mournful melody, and the storm sends back the chorus, sweeping the march of God!” ~John Bartholomew Gough, English-born U.S. temperance orator (1817–1886)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Locally happy

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A local restaurant/golf course

It’s over a month away and it falls on a day after Thanksgiving.

No, I’m not talking about Black Friday. That event is just not my thing. Too crowded and too crazy for me. I’m not referring to Cyber Monday either although I have taken advantage of the online savings you can find on that day.

No, I’m thinking about a day sandwiched in between those two – Saturday. A few years ago, a movement began to categorize the Saturday after Thanksgiving as “Small Business Saturday.” The idea was to visit actual brick and mortar businesses and shop there, helping your local business owners and local economy.

And that’s the key to my thoughts this week – local. It just so happens to have been the theme of a weekly photo challenge as well.  What photo could I capture that expresses the theme “local?” Several ideas came to mind.

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we live in a rural area a few miles outside of our small town. There are plenty of photo ops in town with the beautiful river that flows through and the lovely waterfront park alongside it. We have a picturesque bridge over the river with hillsides on either side full of trees changing their summer clothes of green leaves for their glorious, colorful fall ones.

Or maybe I should just wander down one of our many country roads and snap away at the local views I find – in the woods, alongside a clear stream, a vista of farmers’ fields.  There’s always something worthwhile to photograph.

But then, I started thinking about local in terms of what our mostly rural area offers as far as businesses go. We have our fair share of big chain stores and restaurants just like the rest of the country, that’s for sure.  And downtown in our little burg isn’t quite the same as it used to be when I was younger and it was the place to shop. Many of the locally owned stores have closed but there are still enough around to enable us to support our own community.

From local pizza shops and restaurants to gift stores to florists to appliance stores to newsstands, we have a number of local options in our area without having to drive to the city or the suburbs.  And a sweet gal I know and her friend just opened a new shop which features items from local artisans that I want to visit soon.

So when Saturday, November 26 rolls around on the calendar, you may find me supporting our local businesses to shop and/or eat instead of following the masses by driving to the mall down the highway to shop or dine at big chain restaurants.

You see, running with the crowd doesn’t make me happy. It usually just stresses me out. And I’m pretty certain I can find a little happiness right here in my little town.

“You can’t buy happiness but you can buy local and that’s kind of the same.”~ Unknown

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When the going gets tough

blogimg_0497-2It’s life.

Sometimes life is troubling and the path we must travel becomes arduous. The last thing we think about is being thankful because it’s just too hard and we want to take the easy route. 

It’s hard to be thankful when the roof leaks and rain water pours through the ceiling ruining your carpet and furniture.

It’s hard to be thankful when yellow jackets invade your attic and eat a hole through another part of your ceiling.

It’s hard to be thankful when your six-month-old refrigerator’s freezer stops working for the third time.

It’s hard to be thankful when your not-so-old microwave dies on you.

It’s hard to be thankful for job losses than become the norm instead of the exception.

It’s hard to be thankful for decisions that go against you instead of for you.

It’s hard to be thankful when the price of everything goes up and your income goes down.

It’s hard to be thankful when a family member or friend receives a serious health diagnosis.

It’s hard to be thankful for car brakes that go out.

It’s hard to be thankful for circumstances that break your heart and drive you to your knees in prayer.

It’s hard to be thankful when tragedy strikes or nature is destructive or the world feels out of control.

It’s just plain hard to be thankful during some of the seasons of life.

But as a friend said recently to me as we discussed less than pleasant situations in life, “We were never promised a rose garden, were we?”

We will have thorns amidst the roses in our garden of life and often we don’t appreciate the loveliness of the roses because we’re stuck in the thorns.

Sometimes the troubles are minor, sometimes they are so major, they rock our little rowboat paddling along in the sea of life knocking the oars right out of our hands.

Yet even when I’m set adrift in an ocean of difficult situations or pricked by thorns of trouble every way that I turn, I am called to be thankful. Why? I’m a believer.  My faith is in Jesus Christ and He stated the obvious for those of us who have thick skulls and don’t quite ‘get it’ the first time.

In this world, you will have trouble.

Notice He didn’t say:

In this world, you will have smooth sailing.

In this world, you will have good times always.

In this world, you will never cry.

In this world, you will never be weary…or unhappy…or depressed…or discouraged…or angry…or sick…or heartbroken.

No, He laid it on the line. In this world you WILL (emphasis mine) have trouble. He warned his disciples this in John 16:33 when He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.

All too often we dwell on our problems instead of the promise Jesus gave us, a promise of hope.  Because in the last part of that verse Jesus said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If Jesus’ disciples were warned of trouble and theirs were mammoth compared to mine, then why on earth would I think I (a lowly sinner saved by His grace) would be any different? Why would I be immune to troubles great and small?

I’m not. As each difficulty comes its way day after day, I will continue again and again to remind myself of the passage of scripture that sustains my sanity:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New International Version (NIV)

No, I’m not an idiot when I say I will rejoice always even when I don’t feel like it (and believe me, there are way too many times when I want to kick and scream instead!).

No, I’m not immune to difficulties when I give thanks in ALL circumstances.

I’m just trying my best to follow God’s will for my life and believe His promises because His Word is Truth.

So I will be thankful.

I will be thankful that I have a home with a roof over my head.

I will be thankful for someone brave enough to tangle with yellow jackets and remove their huge nest from my attic even if I did have to pay him a lot to do so.

I will be thankful the store where I purchased my refrigerator replaced the dud with a new one and better yet, I will be thankful I have refrigeration for my food at all.

I will be thankful I have the means to cook my family’s food in my comfy, modern kitchen without slaving over a hot fire outside.

I will be thankful to the God that provides even when job losses come.

I will be thankful that I have a God who cares and loves me when it seems things just don’t go my way.

I will be thankful that my needs are met, my tummy is full, and I have clean water to drink.

I will be thankful for procedures and treatments that prolong and save lives and health insurance to help pay the costs.

I will be thankful for warning signals that car brakes are in need of repair.

I will be thankful that I can cry out to a God who hears my wails for help, answers me, and never leaves me.

I will be thankful that I have fellow human beings to love and support.

And yes, I will be thankful even for the difficult seasons of life because that’s just it…I will be thankful for life.

The reason is because my faith in Christ gives me hope and that’s more than enough to be thankful for.

“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” ~Albert Barnes

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Of butterflies and raspberries

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playing with an inchworm

Grandparenting. It is so much more than I ever expected.

Recently, our daughter (and Little One’s mommy) resumed her career as a hospital nurse and this Nana was transported back into the world of providing care for a toddler full-time on the days daughter works.

I find it interesting that the everyday occurrences that drove me crazy when my own children were this age– spilt milk messes, toys strewn willy nilly across the floor making it an obstacle course, constant activity except during nap times, sticky finger smudges everywhere  – don’t bother me.

Is it that grandparents are wiser than we were as parents?  Is it that we recognize that we only have so much time with our sweet grandchildren so we don’t ‘sweat the small stuff’ anymore? Or have we finally reached the age where we just don’t care as much about appearances but relish time spent together with our child’s child?

The former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani once said, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”

This statement rings true for me and not just the cookie part. Pure unconditional love that just about makes my heart explode is what I’ve felt for this grandchild since I cradled her in my arms shortly after her birth. I find humor in things she does that I never would have laughed at as a young mom. I recognize that I’m much more patient with Little One than I ever was with my children.

No longer do I worry about whether the bathroom gets cleaned or the laundry is finished like I did when my kids were small. Instead I willingly spend all day just playing and exploring the world with my granddaughter.

And she is one busy bee. So inquisitive and so full of wanting to learn and do and examine and discover. Sometimes I feel guilty thinking that perhaps I didn’t spend enough time doing the same things with my children. And I wonder if that’s the thing – grandparents are given a second chance to ‘get it right’ with our grandchildren.

Since her mama leaves for work before the crack of dawn, Little One wakes up to find Nana lifting her from her crib. She definitely misses her mommy because she inquires about her upon awakening in the mornings, after naps, and often during the day by asking ‘mum?’ I tell her mommy’s at work, Little One nods her head and says yes, and I reassure her that mama will be home later.

Nana and Little One have settled into a nice routine. Last week we had beautiful fall weather – warm, sunny days when we could be outside playing and exploring in the mornings after the temperature warmed up and the dew on the grass dried. 

After a bit of time playing in the sand box, we went for walks around our 2.25 acre yard and made visits to the garden where Roma tomatoes, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, and sunflowers were still producing.

She enjoyed picking tomatoes and wanted me to lift her up high so she could gaze into the sunflowers’ cheery faces. From there we ventured to the raspberry bushes to pick this last crop for the year.  Little One loves raspberries and eats them faster than I can pick them.

One day on our way back to the house with our bounty, we spied a butterfly which had lit upon the grass.  She pointed to it and as I told her to be gentle, she crouched down and touched the delicate creature.

I couldn’t believe it didn’t fly away immediately but it stayed in place while she touched it yet again. When it took off soaring into the air, floating and flitting around us, Little One laughed happily and clapped her hands. Such a simple thing that brought such merriment. 

Another day we examined the leaves on our maple trees and saw that they are starting to turn from green to red and also that some leaves had already fallen on the ground. As she picked up some of the fallen leaves, I noticed a tiny green inchworm.  She giggled with delight when the little critter crawled on her hand.

It’s a full and, to be honest, tiring day taking care of our Little One but watching her eyes light up over a new discovery gives me so much joy.  She doesn’t miss a thing whether it’s spotting an airplane soaring overhead, watching birds chow down at the bird feeder after we fill it, or an ant crawling across the sidewalk.

I’m just so blessed and grateful to be able to spend this time with her and nothing compares to the hugs and kisses our sweet girl bestows on me.

I wouldn’t trade being a Nana for anything in the world and come December, I’ll have two sweet grandbabies to love. Double perfection. 

“Truth be told, being a grandma is as close as we ever get to perfection. The ultimate warm sticky bun with plump raisins and nuts. Clouds nine, ten, and eleven.” – Bryna Nelson Paston

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

The street where you live

blogimg_1155-2You might be able to tell by my mindset that I spend a lot of my waking hours with my sweet grandchild.  

Why? Because as I reread the WordPress post from this past summer announcing day two’s theme in the Developing Your Eye photography challenge was ‘street,’ the first thought that crossed my mind was a familiar line –  “What’s the word on the street?”

What street came to my mind? Not my own street because I technically live on a state country road not a city street. Not a street in my hometown either. Or a famous street that I once walked upon like New York City’s Wall Street or Broadway.

No, only one street surfaced to the top of my thought ocean.  A street where the “word on the street” is specific for a particular group of people. A street that only exists on a television set.

Sesame Street that is.

Long ago in a different house in a different part of the country, my three wee ones would sit glued to the television getting an early education in numbers, letters, colors, and all kinds of exciting things in this world by watching Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster.  Puppets interacting with humans on the street. A whimsical place called Sesame Street. They loved it back then.

And now, I feel like I’ve come full circle because our Little One is enthralled with Elmo of Sesame Street fame. When the show comes on our PBS station after her beloved Daniel Tiger, I hear the theme song question I heard so many years ago, “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?”

Often on this show for the preschool crowd, a segment called “Word on the Street” introduces new vocabulary words to young viewers.  Catchy little idea that seems to have ensconced itself into my brain.

So there you have it. Now days, my mind drives down a preschooler’s street.

What’s the word on my street today? Bricks. You don’t see too many streets still paved with bricks any more but I managed to capture this photo of one located in a small picturesque town in the state next door.  Brick paved streets are a throwback to days gone by but I remember them well in my own little hometown.

Just like I remember those days of watching Sesame Street with my children. And now those days of “street” watching have returned once more. Maybe streets paved with bricks will make a comeback too.

So that’s the word on the street from this Nana. When it comes to Sesame Street, I’ll stay on that street as long as Little One lives there.

“People stop and stare
They don’t bother me,
For there’s nowhere else on earth
That I would rather be.
Let the time go by,
I won’t care if I
Can be here on the street where you live.” ~ Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics from My Fair Lady)

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com