Blissful appreciation

blogimg_8245I saw a sign one day somewhere – possibly on Pinterest – that read “Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.”

And of course, it caused me to stop and ponder as I tend to do when something profound hits me.  So often in life, don’t we do the exact opposite of that sign though?  Expect everything. Appreciate nothing.

Seems like we’ve been conditioned in our culture to expect everything. Expect that things will always go the way we want. Expect that everyone will believe the way we do.  Expect to fall madly in love while you’re on a reality television show. Expect that your candidate will win political office.Expect that a new job will be the best one ever. Matter of fact, expect that you will get a hefty raise in salary while you’re at it.

Even in faith circles, there are so-called ‘prosperity preachers’ who tell us to expect God to give us what we want, expect to have our best life now, expect a miracle, expect healing, expect, expect, expect.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having high expectations and our omnipotent God could easily give us those provisions if He chooses. But, truth be told,  our expectations often go unmet. And we find God doesn’t give us what we want. He’s not Santa Claus. But I do believe He gives us what we need.

We, however, are like spoiled, overindulged children who, when given everything because it is expected, appreciate absolutely nothing.

Isn’t that why we are so very disappointed when things go awry? Not according to our plan. Because we do too much expecting and not enough appreciating?

I think we’d be happier people if we awakened each day expecting nothing.  I imagine we would appreciate each and every thing that comes our way then.

Like a beautiful sunset, appearing as a hand painted canvas stretching out as far as the eye can see.  An unexpected sight to behold at the end of a long well-lived day.

Sunsets are just one of the things I appreciate about life but don’t expect to see a breathtaking one every day.  Living out here in the country where I can view them unobstructed is just one aspect of my daily life I do appreciate. Holding my beloved grandchildren, embracing my husband and children, sunshine-filled days, and time to worship and pray are just a few more simple joys that I appreciate so very much.

And I find I’m a happier person when I’m appreciative.  You might say appreciation for life provides my bliss – perfect happiness, great joy.

So I want to embrace these words each and every day: Expect nothing. Appreciate everything.  Appreciate bliss when I experience it.

(I’ve written this post and published this photo, which I snapped one July evening,  to continue the online photography workshop – Developing Your Eye – that I missed participating in last summer. The theme for Day 4 was ‘bliss.’)

“Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss.” ~ Alexandre Dumas


A brand new page

blogIMG_4917It’s here.  It says so right here on my brand new calendar.  The one with empty spaces for each new day in this new year of 2015.  Two thousand and fifteen.  Two thousand and fifteen!

Wasn’t it just yesterday that the entire world worried their gigabytes off because the page was turning over to the year 2000 and all of those ‘experts’ predicted a major catastrophe as we reached Y2K?  Y2K, the year 2000. 

Well, of course the year 2000 arrived and passed by without a glitch. And here we are 15 years later welcoming in another new year. It’s true what my wise Daddy used to say that the older you became the faster the years flew by.  And we’ve just put another year on the back shelf.

What lies ahead is anyone’s guess but I know one thing.  We will fill up those empty spaces on the calendar with the everyday task of living if the Lord gives us a year full of new days.  But just living is not how I want to spend these blank spaced days on my calendar of life. 

I want to fill those days with wonder.  With joy.  With love.  With exuberance.  With amazement.  With opportunity.  With thanksgiving (yes, I haven’t given up that word yet).

In years past, I either chose or was given a new word for each year – a word that might manifest itself in some way to prove amazing or noteworthy as it worked its way through the pages of my life.  Sometimes I struggled with those words – the ones like peace, strength, growth. 

This year, I haven’t chosen a word nor has one come across the crowded desk of my mind for me to take notice.  Out of the thousands and thousands of words in my native English language, I haven’t claimed one for my own.  And not a word has settled upon me and laid claim to me either.

Instead perhaps I should choose a different word for each day of the new year.  After all, a new year – one that’s sparkling clean with no dings or dents, no marks or notations, no regrets or regressions – presents itself for new ideas, new revelations, new…everything.

I’m not one for making resolutions every year.  I usually fail miserably at them, so I stopped torturing myself years ago.  But even though I don’t make resolutions, I do have resolve.  And though my slate is empty right now and my calendar is clear for the time being, I know there’s one thing I plan to muster up enough resolve to do this year.

I will take each fresh new day as it comes and see what the Lord will show me on that day because even when I can’t be completely faithful, God is.  Morning by morning, new mercies I’ll see.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-24  (NIV)

What about you?  How will you fill your new calendar in this brand new year?

“Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress.” ~ Charles Kettering


A new day dawns


Dawn breaks in the east

A day in the life.  What does it look like?

A day in life might be one where you’re consumed by the hustle of accomplishing all the items overloading your ever-growing to-do list.  Or a day in life may be one of quiet solitude with nothing pressing you forward. 

A day in life may prove so over flowing with joy and happiness that you think you might burst from the elation of it all.  Or a day may drown you in the depths of sorrow and pain and you feel like you’ll never break the surface of the sadness ocean that threatens to overwhelm you.

We are each given a new day every morning upon awakening.  A day that can be thrilling or trying.  Full of zest and zeal or full of trial and tribulation.  And as each day is lived and evening descends to envelop us with night hour darkness, we trudge wearily to our places of rest, shed the concerns or high points of the day, and close our eyes for a time of restoration.  If we’re lucky, we spend several hours resting our bodies and minds.  If not, the night looms lengthy ahead of us.

But one thing is certain.  We expect the dawn.

And we take it for granted.  At least I know that I do. If truth be known, I take far too many aspects of my life for granted and I’m ashamed of being ungrateful.  

I’ve recorded my insights, thoughts, and occasions, my ups and downs, my joys and sorrows here in this blog for four and a half years.  And forgive me for this, but I’ve even taken my blog and you, my readers, for granted. 

I’ve expected that each dawn when a new day rises, I’ll have words to commit to a blog post or a photograph to display.  And I’ve expected that you will view my posts, maybe even press that ‘like’ button or better yet, leave a comment.

I feed off of your kindness and your gracious comments and also from the statistics that show how many folks have clicked on my blog post for the day or who liked my status on Facebook.  And you know what? I’m just feeding my already over-inflated ego.  Yep, it’s all about me and I feel like I’m too busy promoting…myself.  

And it’s time for that to stop. Because it truly isn’t about me and the days of my life.  It’s about who I believe in, trust in, and turn to when I think I’ve lost my way. The very One who gave me this life that I live and take so very much for granted.

The One who reveals Himself everywhere I look and for whom this verse (vs 8) in Psalm 65 was written:  “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”

I truly am grateful for you, my faithful readers, and with hope and sincerity I invite you to join me on a journey during the month of November.  Something will be different.   Nothing drastic, just a change and hopefully, a change in me as I reveal things that have been on my heart the last few weeks.

Beginning November 1, as each new day dawns, I still will share either my words or pictures with you but some posts may be shorter than normal, just photographs may appear on days other than Wordless Wednesdays, and my usual posting schedule (T, W, TH) will be altered so even on weekends you may find something to ponder from Mama’s Empty Nest.    

 “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.”  ~Jean-Paul Sartre


Weighed down with Christmas expectations

blogDSCN8399I’m back in the saddle again (or should I say back on my sleigh?), recovering from the flu/cold bug that forced me to rest.  And I’m still on my determined quest to make this Christmas simple.

Where did we get this insane idea that our Christmas celebration has to be perfect?  Perfectly decorated. Perfectly gifted.  Perfectly baked and cooked.  Perfectly wrapped.  Perfectly full of overabundance. 

We load ourselves down with expectations for holiday perfection until we are fretful and frazzled, weary and worn, and exhausted instead of exhilarated.  We spend too much time and effort on the unrealistic expectations when we should focus on the expected One.

We wait, usually impatiently and irritated, in long lines at the checkout stand.  In long lines at the post office.  In long lines at the gift wrapping counter of our favorite department store.  In lanes of traffic jammed with cars heading to the nearest shopping mall.

And yet, we don’t take time to wait for the anticipated One.  The One we light the Advent candles for.  The One who is the reason for the season.  The One whose name the holiday bears.

We search for just the perfect Christmas card, write the perfect Christmas letter to enclose within, all in the name of sending good cheer to our friends, families, and neighbors.  But reality is that we’re anything but cheerful.  Anything but merry.  Anything but sincerely sending warm wishes to anyone.

Our mode of operation is to overload on the material things of this world which will not fill the empty holes in our hearts.  Will not bring us happiness.  Will not spread good will.  Will not envelope our hearts with love.

Only one thing can do that – completely fill our hearts and souls with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness.  All those things we gush about at Christmas time yet don’t put into practice.  We can utter the words, we can have good intentions, we can attempt to craft the perfect Christmas but until we make Christmas simple, we will fall short every time.

And the simplicity of Christmas is this:  “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~ Isaiah 9:6

So when the frenzy of the season wears us down, when Christmas weighs on us like a chore not a celebration,  when we focus on the things of this world and their glitter and glitz,  we’ve forgotten that One truly perfect expectation.  That’s when I need to set my mind on the Expected One.  That’s my wish for a simple Christmas.  Simply full of Jesus.