Throwback Thursday: Enough

Next month,  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.

The year 2020 has been a wild one so far. Everywhere we turn, there seems to be cause for alarm. Turning on the news evokes all kinds of emotions – almost all of them not positive ones. If you’re like me, you’ve had enough. How do we maneuver through these difficult times? I hope you find a bit of encouragement in this Throwback Thursday post of mine from October 2013.

Have you ever just thrown up your hands in surrender and cried, “Ok, enough is ENOUGH!” When is enough enough?

For most people, enough is enough when you’ve reached a point when you can no longer tolerate a situation.  Maybe you reached a boiling point when your anger just takes over and your up-to-now contained emotions blow up in force like Old Faithful gushing up and spilling over for all to see.

For some, the pressure actually may be physical.  You just can’t do any more because your body tuckers out.  Still others may experience such exasperation with another human being that they just must cut themselves off from that person for the sake of peace.

No matter what situation makes you throw in the towel or wave the white flag of surrender in capitulation, I think you reach the saturation point.  A saturation point is defined in chemistry as “the point at which a substance, under given conditions, can receive no more of another substance in solution.”

In other words, you’re soaked.  You’re filled up and overflowing.  Saturation can be negative or positive, depending on your attitude.

If you’re inclined to realize enough is enough and you want to give up the fight, you will walk away and turn your attention to something more productive.  

But if you’re a dig in your heels and fight to the finish kind of person,  you’re more likely to follow this advice attributed to Mary H. Waldrip:  “It’s important that people should know what you stand for. It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.” 

This week’s photo challenge has been “saturation.”  After a very wet, rainy summer season complete with flash flooding in places where I’ve never witnessed flooding before, I understand the definition of saturation just from looking out my window.

When our yard was water-logged to the brim from all the rain, I shot some photos of the result which demonstrated how something can be so inundated it can’t take any more.

Aren’t we, at times, just like a drenched yard?  Inundated and overwhelmed. At the point where we just… Can.  Not.  Take.  Any.  More.

For me, that’s where my faith takes over.  When every fiber of my being screams enough, my soul says fill me up.   Fill me up with Your joy, Lord.  Pour Your peace over me.  Soak me through with Your hope.  Saturate me with Your promises, O Lord.

Romans 15: 13 tells me:  “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.”

When I’m saturated with God’s Holy Word, I am overflowing.  But instead of a flood that destroys everything in its path, this overflowing of living water nourishes and gives glory where glory is due.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, God is great!” ~ Psalm 70:4

When I’m saturated, I can see that the earth is filled with His glory even when I think I’ve had enough of this world.

So when those times come, when I want to yell out loud, “I’ve had enough!”, I need to turn to this scripture:  “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” ~ Phillipians 1: 9-11

For me, that will be enough. ©2013

“Forget it enough to get over it and remember it enough so it doesn’t happen again.” ~ Unknown


Words for Wednesday: sorry, not sorry


Social distancing in more ways than one

Believe it or not, I haven’t had much spare time to write posts for this blog.

Yes, we are sheltering in place at home, social and physical distancing, flattening the curve, etc., doing our part to help contain the virus that has most of the world in its grip.

And you would think by being at home and having nothing on the calendar except cancelled appointments, I would have ample opportunities to sit down at my desktop computer and compose. String words together to make sentences galore. Fill up the screen with my thoughts in written word.

Huh. Not happening. Why?

Because a five-year-old now lives with us for the duration of this crisis. And five-year-olds don’t allow for much peace, quiet, and alone time. Five year-olds go non-stop from the time they awaken in the morning (“Papa, Nana, it’s morning time, get up!”) to when they finally fall asleep at night (while you read countless stories over and over again).

On warmer, nicer days (and we haven’t had many so far this spring), we play outside and go for walks. But our indoor activities are chock full of made-up games of pretend, daily challenges (and she makes up the challenges!), doing workbook pages of letters, numbers, dot-to-dot, and kindergarten lessons (even though she won’t attend kindergarten until fall), coloring, painting, play-dough creating, Lego building, and games, games, games.

Our granddaughter LOVES games. And since we have played games she has here (Trouble, Sorry, Guess Who, Daniel Tiger Bingo, and Frozen Match Game) so many times, we resorted to our cache of games from our kids’ childhoods that were stored away in the basement. So Little One now has learned how to play Uno, Jenga, a card game called Waterworks, and even Battleship. And she’s caught on quickly.

She’s truly proved it might be genetic because we are a family that plays games every time we are all together. And you know what? Even though I’m tired (and so is Papa) from our 24/7 child care duty during this time, I am grateful.

I’m thankful that we are enjoying time with our granddaughter when so many grandparents can’t visit with theirs in person. I’m grateful that we can see and converse with all of our family, including our other two younger grandchildren, on a group FaceTime like we did just the other evening.

We had the best time talking, laughing, and just generally being silly with our entire immediate family all on our cell phones. And it warmed this Nana and Papa’s hearts to hear our three-year-old grandchild yell into the cell phone, “I want to see Nana and Papa!!”

Is it easy staying home? Not too difficult for us retired folks, but it does have challenges. Is it hard to be physically separated from our loved ones and friends? Yes, it is.  But we have phones and other ways to communicate. And I’m grateful for that.

Last month, I had planned to once again lead a ladies Bible study in my home. Well, obviously, that didn’t happen. So this week, I’m especially thankful for our computer guru son-in-law who gave instructions for this non-technical person on how to video conference online with my group and get our sessions started in the next few days.

I do feel sorry that we all have to endure this difficult time. I’m sorry that hardships have come our way. But I’m also not sorry because as we stay home, we must find reasons to feel gratitude. To express thankfulness. And we will.

I will leave you with words recently written by American retired teacher and chaplain Kitty O’Meara, that’s been making the rounds on the web. You may have already seen it, but I urge you to read it once more because you can find reasons that make this all worthwhile.

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton


The age old question

blogDSCN7187It’s the age old question….why?

We can ponder it over and over again until our mind is numb from contemplating it. 

We can ask our family members, friends, neighbors, even the internet yet still find no answer. 

We can cry over it.  Scream about it.  Rail against it. 

We can spout all the platitudes like ‘everything happens for a reason’ or we can just buck up, batten down the hatches, and believe what Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die” and accept those sayings as truth.

Yet an answer for that why still eludes us.

We can even earnestly petition God in prayer and ask Him over and over, “Why?”  And still find no reason surfaces to placate our mind-boggling query.  We just have to remind ourselves that even if we don’t get an answer, the Lord still listens to our prayers and answers them according to His will not ours. 

The great Christian writer C.S. Lewis also tackled the problem of why things happen the way they do when he wrote, “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.” 

Life just doesn’t seem fair.  Ask Calvin and Hobbes.  The cartoonist Bill Watterson penned this quote in one of his comic strips: “I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?”

I’ve come to the realization that the question really shouldn’t be ‘why?’  Instead perhaps we should ask, “Why not?”

Our self-centeredness feeds us the lie that the world revolves around us.  Plans should occur just the way we want.  We are entitled to get what we want, when we want it, how we want it.  Instant gratification because we deserve it! 

Let’s face it, in this day and age our focus is totally centered on self.  We dress for self, undergo plastic surgery for self, purchase cars and homes for self, whiten our teeth, dye our hair, tan our bodies, all to satisfy self. 

Because our self-image seems like the most important thing. It’s what gets us the most lucrative job, the handsome/beautiful spouse, the façade of success.  Or so we think.  At least that’s what society has taught us and we’ve bought into it, taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker.

But that’s not how real life works.  Reality is so much different. Reality shows us that life is downright difficult at times.  Bad things do happen to good people.  Terrible occurrences befall even the most devout and faithful believers in Christ. 

People lose jobs, they are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, their marriages fail, accidents happen, homes are lost to natural disasters, loved ones die unexpectedly or too young, and yes, even we must face our own deaths eventually.   

The worst times of our lives don’t happen because we’ve done something to warrant trying times, it’s just the way life is.  I hate to burst your bubble but we really are not promised a rose garden in this lifetime. 

We’re not guaranteed perpetually sunny days with no troubles, no calamities, no gut-wrenching events to endure in this world.  No, sometimes we just have to face the full force of the storm and hang on for dear life. And there’s One to hang on to.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 (NIV)

See that’s where our hope lies.  Not in this world and all its trappings.  Our hope is in something, some ONE that is eternal.  The Savior of the world. And when I think of all He left behind in heaven to purposely come to this world and willingly suffer horribly for me, my troubles seem minuscule. 

And I have to ask myself, “Why NOT me?”  If my Savior suffered the torture of the cross just for me (and you), then why do I think I’m so very special that I should not have to bear a few burdens myself?

“God knows what we are going through when we grieve, and He wants to assure us of His love and concern. He also wants us to turn to Him and bring our heartaches and burdens to Him.” ~ Billy Graham


Running away

blogvacation2“We run away all the time to avoid coming face to face with ourselves.” ~Author Unknown

For a good portion of this middle-aged empty nest Mama’s life, I couldn’t wait to get back home.

And now that I am home, I occasionally think about running away.  Get outta town!  Really??

We often use the phrase ‘get outta town’ when we don’t believe a whopper of a story someone tells us.  You just saw a Martian walking down Main Street?  Get outta town!  Bigfoot’s camping out in your back yard? Get outta town! You just won $10 million in the lottery?  Get outta town!

You feel like selling your house and moving? Get outta town! Most people who know me well would be shocked to hear me admit that sometimes I think about that very thing.  They know I waited so long to finally move back to my home state and stay put in one spot for a change.

See, for many years, Mama’s family was on the move due to hubby’s job changes and re-locations.  We managed through four moves in the first seven years of our marriage and three moves in the next eight years.  After six years, we made the biggest move of all – from one coast of our country to another.

And we’ve succeeded in planting ourselves firmly back here in the homeland for almost 13 years.  So why this sudden urge to run away from home?  I have no idea where this goofy idea is coming from.

The other night, too bushed to blog, I mindlessly surfed the net when an internet article caught my attention in a big way.  The site listed real estate offerings in other states, and I started perusing them.

“Oh, look hubby, want to move to South Carolina?  We could buy this house for [insert listing price here].  Or here’s a foreclosure on a new house in [such and such place] Georgia.”   He answered, “Sure,” probably just to jolt me back to reality.

Just for fun I started inserting various cities in the search engine and scrutinized listings hither and yon, which for some reason fueled a burst of enthusiasm and excitement in me.  That’s why I’m examining my motives today.  Part of me just wants to run away somewhere new like in the Carrie Underwood song, “Get Out of This Town.”

Is my urge to flee stemming from boredom?  Could it be I’m weary of the weather?  Or the colorless scene outside my window?  Or am I just looking for an escape from the trials of life?

My mother was a very wise woman.  She often said that you could never run away from your problems because no matter where you ran to, your problems would always follow you there.  That was one piece of her advice that I always chose to listen to.

I think that’s why I possess a strong determination to “just deal” with life’s problems as they come. Stick it out, persevere, work your way through it.  That’s me.  I like to imagine I’ve inherited this from my father as well whose family ancestry’s motto is “Never Despair” but perhaps the reality of it is that I’m just too stubborn to surrender.

So I guess I won’t be running away from home after all on this third page of Chapter 3 in Opportunity.  Although I certainly could use a little trip away from the bland and bleak scenery outside my window….somewhere warm, but not too hot….somewhere green where the sun spreads radiance and balminess…somewhere.

“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” ~James Thurber


Wherefore art thou, O Spring?

blog014February is playing tricks on me.

This morning, I could have sworn spring arrived.  When I left for another day at the office, it was 56 degrees outside, early in the a.m.

Last night, we endured rain instead of snow, lightning made an electrifying appearance and thunder roared all around us like a ravenous lion.  As a child, I remember cheering boisterously at school when it thundered this time of the year because our teacher informed us those rumbling booms ushered in spring.

Hooray!  My mind applauded this morning at the mere thought of spring time making its grand appearance.  So convinced about the arrival of the season, I wanted to recite the old childhood rhyme: “Spring has sprung, the grass is riz.  I wonder where the posies is.”

Matter of fact, my brain persuaded me that I smelled earthworms, something I always associate with that “after the rain” aroma of the spring season, when I left my house.

Alas, the temperature dropped all day – it’s now 28 degrees – and the atmosphere’s still gloomy and glum while a cold wintry-like wind bites into me.  This morning, I felt certain I would discover little harbingers of spring breaking the soil’s surface around my house, but reality reveals not one sign of our perky crocuses yet.

I’m suffering from color deprivation here! I need “sunshine, lollipops and rainbows!”  I’m tired of the cheerless, dingy landscape outside my window.  I need the hope and happiness of which the spring season reminds us.  Like the late minister Virgil A. Kraft once said, “Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” Can I get an “Amen” to that?

I desperately desire to behold perfectly pert purple crocuses, sunshiny yellow yawning daffodils and robust red rambunctious tulips popping up in my front yard.  I yearn to yield to the fabulous fragrance of a profusion of prolific pink hyacinths,  lavishly lovely lavender lilacs and diminutive dainty delights of white nestled in lily of the valley greenery.

I need spring!  I need warmth.  I need blue skies and sunshine.  I need green grass and an array of colorful flowers.  I need budding and blossoming trees.  Heck, let’s throw in some rainbows too!

Author Paul Fleischman wrote in his book,  Seedfolks: “You can’t see Canada across Lake Erie, but you know it’s there.  It’s the same with spring.  You have to have faith, especially in Cleveland.”

Fleischman’s right and not just in Cleveland!   In my neck of the woods today, I must have faith that spring is coming.

So that’s what I’m latching onto on this last page in Chapter Two in my book of Opportunity. Goodbye February, hello March!  I know you’re bringing us one step closer to Spring.


When life throws you a curve ball

cold-snow-black-and-white-road.jpgIt’s Saturday, but it feels like Sunday.  You ever have one of those days that you just don’t know what to do with yourself?

All’s quiet in the empty nest today.  Bizarre, wacky dreams prevented me from awakening early this morning.

Instead of seizing the day, I drifted along in that deep sleep state where you’re cognizant that you need to get out of bed, but you keep getting sucked back into dreamland.  It’s like you’re in a dream maze and you can’t find your way out!

I compare it to being heavily sedated for an operation. The first time I had major surgery, I was zonked out in the recovery room afterwards and I could hear someone faintly calling my name.  It seemed like I was in the depths of the ocean and every time I heard my name, I tried to swim up to the surface, but I just couldn’t break the water’s hold on me.

So today, my Page 15, Chapter One, in my book of Opportunity (January 15) started out in a strange way.  I couldn’t shake the bizarre dreams I encountered – no doubt some anxiety (which I’ve managed to push away during the day) over our circumstances is emerging in my dreams.  After breakfast, hubby and I ran some errands and picked up a few groceries.

Nowhere else to go, nothing else to do, so we came back home.  To a hushed house.  A clean house.  A house nestling in what looks like a snow globe.  A house that used to ring with laughter and activity.  A house that now echoes silence.

What to do? What to do?  I’m feeling a little antsy but can’t claim cabin fever, because in our neck of the woods, we’re not snow-bound.  Hubby must be feeling it as well.  He abandoned his book for a go at his work bench in the basement.

What’s he doing?  Arranging tools?  Taking something apart?  At least now there is audible sound –  clanking, banging and shuffling.  Kitty cat is curled up in a snug as a bug in a rug ball on the love seat, sleeping away the day as she always does.

What I’m experiencing is extremely rare – just sitting in my favorite chair on a Saturday afternoon with nothing pressing on my to-do list!  I feel like I’m just waiting…for what?  For more snow?  For my kids to burst in the door laughing and teasing each other?  For the other shoe to drop?

I don’t know.  I feel no impetus to start a project, so I just turn on the lap-top, browse around some blogs, enlighten myself with email, and end up fiddling around on Facebook.

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.”  Well today, it seems I have no plans, but life still happens.  The plans we’ve made for this time in our lives have been altered.  I have no clue what lies ahead of us.

But just for today, this odd-feeling day when I’m experiencing restlessness and uncertainty, I’ve received encouragement from others.  And if you, my reader, are encountering a day like I am, my hope is to share some inspiration with you.

Here’s some insight I gained from a Facebook friend’s status today.  “Falling down is part of LIFE.  Getting back up is LIVING.”

I’m not ready to say, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  Are you?  Life may throw me a curve ball and I could even strike out at the plate and land on my backside, but that curve ball won’t keep me down.

A new but very dear friend emailed this to me today: “Although you’ve talked about fear, you haven’t really shown any fear or worry or stress, even though it must be a constant factor/fight in your days… but you are a picture of stalwart faith.  I know it can’t be easy.  You have given me inspiration to be more like the Rock to which we all hold on to.”

Well, I don’t feel like a picture of stalwart faith, but I’m not a wallower.  I will persevere and I will rely on God to give me strength to do so.  Will you?

And yet another friend posted this on Facebook – “As long as you’re holding on to the past, you’ll never experience God’s best. Know that God is still in control of your life. If you’ll let go of the old, God has promised He will bring you a new beginning.”

So just as He promised, tomorrow is another day, another beginning.  Are you ready to start over?  I am!