What’s in a year?

What’s in a year? It depends on your perspective, doesn’t it? The dawning of a new year of life, as fresh as a pristine layer of newly laid snow, has an even more profound impact on me now than it did when I was younger.

Back then, I didn’t actually ponder much about what a new year meant. Oh, it signified I would become one year older and when you’re young, that seems so very important.

This is the year I become a teenager. Or this is the year I can get a driver’s license. Or this is the year I graduate from high school and move on to something better.

Or this is the year…you can fill in the blanks with your own benchmarks you may have aspired to as a youngster.

Even back in my early adulthood, I didn’t give much thought to the onset of a newly arrived beginning except possibly to make New Year’s resolutions that I never kept.

I may have considered that certain aspects of life might transpire in a newly arrived year like getting married, acquiring a different job, giving birth to children, purchasing a new home, making a move, or reaching a milestone birthday, but as I reflect back on those years, my focus always seemed zeroed in on something tangible, something concrete or physical.

But now in my later years when more than half of my expected lifespan is past, my thoughts are completely different as I contemplate 2021 stretching out before me.

What’s in a year? A year can make a huge difference in a life. A year can bring joy or sorrow, health or illness, pleasure or pain, increase or decrease, growth or atrophy. We have no way of knowing what a year may deliver to us.

But I do know one thing – a brand new year provides opportunity if we choose to take it, a chance to embrace a change, or make a difference, or impact someone else’s life.  

I once read somewhere that the word year is used over 700 times in the Bible, God’s Holy Word. And I firmly believe it is God, Creator of all, who gives us not only our years but also opportunities to start over not just at the onset of a new year but at the dawn of each new day.

The question is what will I do with the time I am allotted? Will I focus on myself and my own little bubble of the world or will I reach beyond that? Will I strive to share only physical aspects of life or will I share something much deeper than that?

The most critical choice in my mind is something I believe is vital for people to know and understand – my faith in a Savior, a Redeemer, a Giver of eternal life.

Why? Because not all of us may have a year, or a day even, left on this earth. And what comes next means the difference between everlasting life and eternal death. Not all of us know or understand that there is a Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that loves us beyond measure and He wants us to be saved from a destiny of damnation.

I searched my study Bible’s concordance for citations of the word year and found a verse that truly spoke to me located in the New Testament book of 2 Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 8: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (New International Version)

The Message, which is a modernized easy-to-read version of the Bible, puts that same verse this way: “Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”

So He gives us a new year, another opportunity. Or maybe only a day. Time to change before it’s too late.

God’s timing is that a day to Him is a thousand years, but we humans don’t have a thousand years to share our faith in Christ with others. We have only 24-hours in a day and 365 days in a year, if God so ordains.  A short amount of time to tell others about the saving grace of a Savior, one who gives us a new soul.

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year but rather than we should have a new soul.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2021

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

When chores turn into blessings

blogIMG_4356I was on my way to accomplish a chore – really, a chore. Another to-do item on my list and this one cost me not just time but money as well.  I’ll be honest and admit, it made me a tad cranky.

On top of that, it wasn’t my kind of day weather-wise.  Overcast, drab skies as far as the eye could see.  Lack of sunshine muted everything from the coats of many colors displayed on the trees to my mood.  Sometimes days like this just make me want to cocoon inside my comfy, cozy home not wanting to venture out.  Yes, it was that kind of day.

But this chore needed accomplished ASAP.  So I put on my ‘happy face,’  grabbed my purse, and headed out.  Even with subdued surroundings though, I couldn’t help but notice the fall foliage around me as I drove.

I arrived at the place where the chore needed completed and wouldn’t you know it?  Those confounded computers that held the key to accomplishing my task decided to be finicky.  Just my luck.  The lady who helped me tried everything and it took much longer than necessary to accomplish the task.

But I made a choice.  Either I could continue being grumpy and complain which wouldn’t help the situation and would probably make that business’ employee grouchy as well or I could laugh and joke about the situation.  I chose the latter.

She laughed along with me and some of the other co-workers kidded, “You two are having too much fun out there!”  

I left smiling.  Yes, it took time out of my day.  Yes, it cost me dollars I didn’t want to cough up.  And yes, it took way longer than necessary.  But my outlook changed because my disposition improved.

I started humming on the drive home even while the windshield wipers beat a monotonous cadence.  And then I began to really see  the scenery along the way and that visual side of me noticed some spots that demanded capture by my camera. 

As soon as I got home, I grabbed my camera bag, threw it in the car, and headed back out again in the countryside for another drive.  I pulled over at the side of the road and stepped out of my car.

Sure it was drizzling.  And it wasn’t exactly warm with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees.  And there were mud puddles everywhere.  I could get dragged down in the murky dismal day if I let myself, but again I made a choice.  I chose to keep wiping the rain spots off my camera lens and continue clicking. 

I doubted whether my photos would have punch because I feared I had waited too long to shoot those fall reds, yellows, rusts, and oranges.  Already many leaves have fallen off the trees.

blogIMG_4366But I still kept walking along and shooting.  I came upon a parked pickup truck with company signage on the side of it and a gentleman came around the truck asking me if where he had parked was blocking my access to a driveway (he thought it was mine).  I answered no, that I was just taking some photos and pointed in the direction of a stand of trees.

And he replied, “Isn’t it beautiful?”  So we stood there in the misting rain on a day that seemed so lackluster and discussed the leaves and their finery.  He worked for an engineering company and shared that he sure enjoyed the scenery on his trip down here to my neck of the woods.  That’s when I noticed his license plate – Vermont.

“Oh,” I replied, “I bet our colors don’t hold a candle to yours.”

On the contrary, he said the leaves this year just turned brown and fell off the trees where he lived.  That’s why he was enjoying our fall foliage so much because he missed seeing theirs.

After a friendly wave goodbye, I walked back to my car and drove home thinking over my afternoon.  Going out for that chore turned into a blessing.

I believe God used that chore just to remind me that no matter how dismal things look, a change in attitude does wonders.  And He placed that engineer in my path so I would remember that even when the world seems dim, He gives us so much for which to be grateful.

Even rainy, downcast days.  Legs to use for walking.  Eyes to see His beauty.  Cameras to capture that beauty.  And a truck from Vermont to remind me to appreciate what the Lord provides.

“The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment; it is the fruit of a thousand choices.” – Nancy Leigh DeMoss

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com