Throwback Thursday: fawn inspired faith

Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve been sharing throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog on Thursdays for the last few weeks and here is yet another one of those. 

We’re in a waiting pattern. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for the virus outbreak to subside. Waiting for our states to reopen and businesses to thrive once more. Waiting to be released from this prison of sorts we’ve been subjected to by volunteering to be “sheltering in place, staying home, flattening the curve.”

Some of us are still shivering in fear over what’s transpired, uncertain of the future, wary of all the conflicting information at our fingertips. But we don’t have to be afraid while we wait as I wrote back in May 2011.  May my words from then encourage and give you hope now. 

I spotted another harbinger of spring recently, reminding me this is the season of rebirth, but also of something more profound.

White-tail deer inundate the area near our country home. We’ve had our fair share of run-ins with these cute creatures turned dangerous when they slam into cars driving down our highways.

Road kill’s a natural occurrence here and it’s almost unusual not to see dead deer lying on the side of the road. The damage they inflict on our vehicles is unbelievable. So when I spot deer nearby while I’m driving,  I’ve learned to slow down considerably.  Sometimes I lay on the horn repeatedly to frighten the critters away so they don’t ram into my car.

The other day, while driving home from work, I decided to travel a two-lane bi-way instead of the four-lane highway.  As I was rounding a bend notorious for deer crossing, a doe scurried across the road in front of my car.

I immediately braked and quickly glanced in the direction she had come expecting to see another doe or maybe even a buck following her because once I saw the largest buck I’ve ever seen in my entire life at this exact spot.  Instead, I spied a tiny, trembling, spotted fawn standing at the top of an embankment, reminding me that deer give birth to their babies in the spring.

That adorable little baby deer appeared so startled by what was transpiring that he just buckled his stick-like legs under his polka-dotted  body and lay down on the bank by the side of the road.

Why don’t I carry my camera with me at all times?  He would have made an adorable picture.  Seeing that fragile fawn warmed my heart but also made me fear for his safety.  I hope he stayed on the bank until his mommy came back for him and didn’t wander out onto the road.

All of this reminded me that sometimes, especially when we’re fearful about what lies ahead of us, we just hunker down like that little fawn.  We wait to see what will happen or we become paralyzed with fear, hoping to be rescued much like I imagine that spotted baby deer expected from his mother.

And that’s not always a bad thing.  Sometimes, we just need to wait…..and wait…..and wait until God shows us what He wants us to do.

I must admit that often I feel like that scared fawn on the side of the road.  I feel fragile and wobbly when I can’t figure out what’s going on in my life and what I’m supposed to do.  But that’s when my rescuer lets me sense His presence.

Recently, I’ve allowed myself to feel exactly like a frightened fawn trembling beside a busy highway of life.  One morning at a very early hour,  I awakened abruptly  because I heard someone loudly calling my name.  I was certain my husband had already arisen and for some reason had called out to me.

My eyes opened in a flash, my heart pounded,  and I expected to see hubby standing near me.  He wasn’t.  I looked around our bedroom and then realized he was still sound asleep next to me.

Who called my name?  I pondered.   I waited and listened.  Nothing.  Puzzled, I drifted back to sleep.  The strange experience stayed in the forefront of my mind that day, and I related it to my co-workers.

My boss smiled and shared that she once had the same experience after a particularly stressful day.  She added that she liked to think it was God calling her name, just to let her know that He saw her and knew what she needed.

I love that idea.  It actually gives me great comfort because I do believe the God of the universe, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present,  knows my name.   He’s always known my name.

He knows my troubles and He knows my afflictions just like He knows my joys and my elation.  He knows what I need, when I need Him the most, and when I need Him to guide me.

He has always carried me through trials and tough times, even when my doctor stated the dreaded ‘C word’ – cancer – six (now 15) years ago.  I’ve never felt abandoned or forgotten because I know my God sees me and hears my prayers even when He doesn’t answer them the way that I would like.

And sometimes, He just wants me to wait and know that He is God and He is in control and that He knows my name. 

I don’t have to fear that God will forsake me because He never will.  I can count on Him to take care of me on this 11th page of Chapter 5 in my book called Opportunity and every day…and so can you.  ©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I still believe those words today in 2020. I can count on God to take care of me and so can you.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ~ Corrie Ten Boom

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: blessing

blogIMG_1338And so it continues. Our lives have become uncertain and it seems like our normal highways have become clustered with rocks of burdens and mountains of obstacles. 

Here in my home state, our area is still under lock-down from the covid-19 pandemic.

When it comes to actual covid-19 cases, our county has had a low number of cases. But folks are suffering, not so much from the virus but from the effects caused by this massive shutdown – loss of jobs, financial difficulties, small businesses going under, folks with medical issues other than the virus who can’t be treated by their doctors, chiropractors, and dentists. 

We had hoped for a little light at the end of the tunnel, but that didn’t happen. And we don’t know where this road is taking us eventually. 

Discouragement, disappointment, despair have descended on so many during this isolating time of sheltering in place.  And along with those negative emotions, anger has also sunk its nasty teeth into us.

So on this Words for Wednesday, I want to offer some hope and encouragement. But they will not come from my own words, but from the Word of God.

A blessing to you straight from God and recorded in the Old Testament for us all to read:  “The Lord bless you and keep you;  The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”  ~ Numbers 6:24-26 (New King James Version)

This blessing is for you, your family, your children and their children. This blessing is given to all those who read and hear those words.

These beautiful words of blessing were put to music written by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Steven Furtick, and Chris Brown in March and the song was simply entitled, “The Blessing.”

In time for Easter, it was recorded by musicians and singers from various churches in our nearby city as a blessing over the city during this pandemic crisis.  A YouTube video of that virtual choir blessed me tremendously when I viewed it.

My prayer is for these words to be sung over you no matter where you live, no matter where you may be currently sheltering in place, no matter what circumstances have befallen you. 

Click here to listen to a blessing from God.

Regardless of our current trials and hardships, please know that God sees us, He hears our cries for help, and most of all, He cares for each one of us. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  ~ Romans 8:38-39 

Perhaps this time of hardship will draw you close to Him, to seek Him, to come to know Him and His saving grace.

Be blessed, dear readers. Be safe. Be well. Be encouraged and let hope and peace fill your hearts.

 “What seems to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~ Oscar Wilde

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

For whom the bell tolls

blogIMG_1491There’s an old Christian song written in the late 1950’s that begins with these lyrics: “Ring the bells, ring the bells, let the whole world know…”

It’s actually a Christmas song as the next line says, “Christ was born in Bethlehem many years ago.”

But that old familiar tune played once again in my mind on this past Sunday. More times than I can count, I heard that song being sung in the country church where my family has belonged for generations.

It’s the same church where once again I am a member after many years of living in other areas of the country. This church is special to me for many reasons. My great-great grandparents were two of the eight founding members 200 years ago.

No, that’s not a typo. Our church was established in 1820 and is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.

During this covid-19 lock-down, it’s disheartening not to be able to attend worship services in our church and continue on with the many anniversary events that were planned for this year so far.

But we, those who attend this church, are the church.

As a fellowship of believers in Christ, we are a church regardless of whether we are in the building or out of it. We listen online as our pastor delivers not just his Sunday morning worship message but three weekly devotions to encourage us as well.

And we pray for those who have needs, reaching out to them as best we can during this time. Our faith and commitment to God doesn’t stop just because we are not permitted in our church building.

This past Sunday evening, many of us got into our vehicles, drove to our church, and situated our cars and trucks in the parking lot for a sole purpose.

We joined a state-wide effort of ringing church bells for three minutes at 7 p.m. to recognize and honor front-line workers, including medical personnel, first responders, and all other workers deemed essential during this pandemic.

A large, old bell graces a pedestal outside our church building and it rang loudly and clearly on Sunday evening.  As we stayed in our cars, all who gathered there listened to it peal out across the countryside. I found it to be a moving experience, especially since our own daughter, a hospital nurse, contracted the virus and is still recovering. 

After the bell stopped ringing, we all blew our vehicle horns in further support of those who toil so diligently to keep us safe from harm. We owe so much to these selfless folks who probably don’t get much thankfulness and gratitude very often. Where would we be without them? How can we ever repay them?

Ringing a church bell was just one simple act. But it resounded and resonated and meant so very much.

“For bells are the voice of the church; they have tones that touch and search the hearts of young and old. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Words for Wednesday: sunset peace

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Sunset over Grand Canyon

They speak to me without words. I find them awe-inspiring, magnificent, and more beautiful than any painted canvas could possibly be.

I’m talking about sunsets. When I catch a glimpse of a gorgeous, multi-colored spectacle called a sunset, I always pause, cast aside whatever I was doing, and just stand still and watch as day departs in the west. Often, the splendor I view in a sunset renders me speechless.

I’ve captured a number of stunning sunsets with my DSLR camera right off our backyard deck. I’ve also caught some on film back in the day as the sun slowly descended into the Pacific Ocean horizon.

Sunsets have always mesmerized me. They show me that yet another glorious day of life has passed and it’s now time for rest with the hope that tomorrow there will be a sunrise. Another opportunity to live life with purpose and meaning.

As I gaze into sunsets, sometimes so brilliant they hurt my eyes, I feel close to their Maker. My God. Creator of the Universe yet Savior of my soul. For me, a sunset is one aspect of nature that represents God’s glory.

Right now the world seems so uncertain, so dark and troubling. My mama’s heart is concerned and to be perfectly honest, anxious because our nurse daughter has contracted covid-19.  Yet each day, God provides, He helps, He comforts. He gives me peace and I know He’s doing the very same for her.

Last month as Papa and I visited the Grand Canyon, we endured weather conditions that weren’t perfect for our sightseeing, yet at day’s end, God provided a most spectacular finish. A blazing sunset over the canyon.

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God’s glory giving me peace

It gave my soul peace that day and it continues to do so every time I see that photo.

I especially welcome the peace that only God can grant to me now, as I wait for our nurse daughter to recover from the virus that has caused so much turmoil in this earthly world, and the peace He provides as I wait for that day when I can freely pull her into my arms and hug my grown-up child.

“We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self.” ~ John Piper

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: breaking out of fear prison

blog233Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog. Since then some aspects of life have changed and some have not. I’ve decided to share throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog every now and then. Sort of a walk down memory lane.

I wrote this Thursday throwback nine years ago in January 2011 when our family was facing some uncertain times.  My hope today is that these words offer encouragement to my readers as we go through this difficult and uncertain time now.   

Fear snaked its way through my mind, wrapped itself around my subconscious and then seized my dreams like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of its prey.

If that sounds ugly, it was.   Last night, in the middle of the night, I awakened from nightmares that gripped me with such fear that I found myself sweat-drenched and panic-stricken, my heart pounding wildly.

Three times I rose from my bed and tried to calm my overly stimulated and anxiety-stricken mind, but each time I tried to lie back down again and go back to sleep, panic would overwhelm me.  Only fervent prayer proved to eradicate the foreboding feeling that gripped me.

The late President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it all when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear can be such an overwhelming emotion, one that paralyzes you and imprisons you as surely as being placed behind iron bars.

When I was a child, I was frightened of the dark, especially if I had to walk somewhere alone in it, but I eventually overcame that fear.  As an adult, I can recall a few times when trepidation seized me with such sharpness, it physically hurt.

When we lived in the Midwest, news circulated about a stalker of sorts who telephoned women when their husbands were away, telling them details of their personal life that he knew.   My husband traveled a lot for business and also at the time served in the National Guard.  One weekend he was away on Guard maneuvers and I attended a friend’s bridal shower.

My teenage babysitter called me there, fear dripping from her shaking voice, as she claimed an unidentified man had just called our home, thinking she was me and telling her he knew my husband was out-of-town.  Terrified, she observed a man walking through the wooded area directly behind our house.

I called the police and hurried home.  By then, the man was gone, but the officers took info from the babysitter and told me if he phoned again to be sure to call them.

That night felt like the longest night of my life.  My three young children knew little about what had transpired that day and I wanted to keep it that way.  After I bathed them and got them settled into bed, I was alone and that’s when terror crept its way into my thoughts.

I didn’t sleep that night, I cringed in my bed with a wooden ball bat gripped in my hands and every little creak or snap that I heard startled me and sent my heart racing.  And I prayed for God to protect my children and myself.

My cancer diagnosis five years ago (15 years ago now) caused the same kind of dread to well up within me.  Someone once said, “Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.” 

I have found that statement to be true because when I devoted myself to prayer and allowed other believers in Christ to pray over me, that overwhelming fear was dispelled.  I literally experienced that feeling physically leave my body and I was able to rationally face the ordeal ahead of me.

Currently, my family is facing some uncertainties.  I’m sure that’s why my sleep was disturbed by nightmares and my concerns turned to great apprehension last night.

The 12th page of Chapter One (January 12th) in my book of Opportunity finds me refusing to allow fear and consternation cage me in a terror-filled prison.  So I will hand over my worries and concerns to God, who is big enough, powerful enough, and almighty enough to handle them for me. 

Faith breaks open the prison bars that try to keep us locked in a state of panic.

“There is much in the world to make us afraid.  There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.” ~Frederick W. Cropp

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

So many people across the world are experiencing fear and near panic right now. In times that induce fear, I’m reminded of passages in the Bible where God implores us to fear not.

Passages like Psalm 46:1–3:  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” encourage me.

Even the most terrifying events like the one facing us right now cannot shake us from hanging on to our firm foundation in God. It is in a sovereign God I place my trust. And I pray you can do the same.

“The only known antidote to fear is faith.” ~ Woodrow Kroll

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

On this thankful Tuesday

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

It’s Tuesday and it’s Holy Week for those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ. And because of the situation stretching all across the globe, we are struggling.

We struggle with knowing what news reports to believe when there seem to be so many conflicting stories on the airwaves and internet.

We struggle with emotions as we hear how many thousands of souls have perished and how many thousands are sick with this vile virus.

We struggle with moments of fear and maybe even panic wondering if/when the pandemic will hit our hometown and worse, our families and friends.

We struggle with self-isolating, physical distancing, being still, and decisions whether to wear masks or not.

We struggle with loneliness caused by orders to stay home, self-isolate, shelter in place, flatten the curve.

We struggle with selfishness and hoarding.

We struggle with job losses for some and worry over the health of those essential workers who must continue to work.

We struggle because instead of enjoying fellowship in our houses of worship with other believers, we sit in front of our computers alone listening to our pastors’ messages online.

In the last couple of weeks, we all have struggled and it looks like we will continue for some time before this crisis is over.

Personally, I’ve tried to stay positive while staying home. I try to encourage others through this blog, on social media, through text messages, FaceTime, and phone calls. But I too have struggled.

I’ve fought surrendering to a waterfall of tears as I witnessed our nurse daughter succumb to sadness and – to be perfectly honest – a bit of fear when forced by these circumstances to place her 5-year-old child with us, the grandparents, for the duration of this crisis.

blogseparationBecause her hospital has COVID-19 patients, our daughter chose to protect her child and us, her parents well over 60, because we are caregivers for our granddaughter while Daughter works. 

Our daughter is concerned that she might expose us and in order to protect us, she separated indefinitely from her child. Not something any loving mother ever envisions having to do willingly.

Watching my daughter shed tears as she held tightly to her child when she left for work that day was heart-wrenching. Little One knows there are “bad germs” out there making people very sick and her mommy must do her part to help care for them.

Daughter, a nurse for over 10 years now, has never been afraid to work in a hospital setting until now. But she believes she is called by God to do her job. To help those who need it most. To ease people’s suffering and give comfort and care.

I struggle watching her selflessness amidst a world with so many who are selfish. I don’t think I could be as self-sacrificing as my daughter is and I even struggle with that fact.

We all struggle throughout this time yet that is what life entails in the fallen world in which we live.

Struggle. And it is real. And it’s gut-wrenching. And it breaks our hearts.

Yet…it is Tuesday. It is Holy Week. And as I prepare my heart and mind to celebrate Resurrection Sunday this weekend, I also remember my Savior praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

God with us in human form, He too struggled with willingly suffering and dying on the cross in my place as the perfect atonement for sins.  (You can read this account in a copy of the Bible or even online in Matthew 26:36-42 and Mark 14:32-36.)

Jesus knows exactly how we struggle. He experienced it himself.  Luke 22:44 tells me that as Jesus prayed in that garden, knowing what He would face in the days to come,  “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

So I run to Him, my Savior who understands all my emotions and anguish, and I place all of my struggles, worries, and cares in His capable hands. In doing so, I will not struggle to find aspects of life for which to be thankful. There is much for which to be grateful even now. 

My Thankful Tuesday is dedicated to all the amazing healthcare workers sacrificing their own health and safety for those who need them most. I am thankful for each one of them.

My Thankful Tuesday is dedicated to the gifted and motivated medical researchers working so diligently for treatments and vaccines. I am grateful for them.

My thankfulness extends as well to all the essential workers who place their own safety on the line for the sake of others, for us.  Those grocery store, pharmacy, and banking workers, the truck drivers who haul supplies from one end of the country to another, to the countless and often forgotten cleaning people at hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices.

You are all heroes in my eyes and I pray that God keeps you safe and well. I am thankful for each and every one of you.

I am thankful that even though my daughter and my grandchild are physically separated during this time, they can see and talk to one another through technology –  FaceTime.

I’m also thankful for something as simple as the glass in our front storm door. Daughter can come to our house, sit outside on our front porch on one side of the physical barrier while our granddaughter is on the inside of the door. They smile at one another, they talk, they even play made-up pretend games, and they laugh.

It makes all of our hearts glad and thankful.

It is Thankful Tuesday of Holy Week and I will not struggle to express gratitude this week nor in the weeks beyond.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~ Epictetus

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Extraordinary hallway

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Hallway to the entrance of Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Light. It’s an important and necessary aspect of daily life.

I’m one of those people who like the light. When the sun doesn’t shine for days, when overcast skies are the norm, I tend to get a little grumpy. But when Mr. Sun makes an appearance, I do a little happy dance inside.

Light, or the lack of it, definitely affects my mood. As we head into the downhill slide of the year, into the late fall/early winter days ahead of us, it will soon be time to change our clocks. Fall back, spring forward is the rule.

With the clock turned back and the world spinning closer to the shortest day of the year in December, we will have less light each day. Darkness will descend on us like an inky-colored curtain blocking light from entering a window.

And even though, I do relish the colder, crisper days that we’ll soon experience, I will miss the light.

I’m just an amateur photographer, a hobbyist really, but I do know that light is imperative in photography. Proper lighting makes a huge difference in how a picture turns out, not just in terms of brightness and darkness, but also lighting sets the mood for a photo.

Often how I observe light falling on a particular object or in a certain way causes me to pull out my camera and try to capture what I see so clearly with my own eyes.

That happened several times during  Papa’s and my autumn journey to Michigan. As we were walking down a long hallway in the enormous Henry Ford complex en route to the Museum of American Innovation, I grabbed my camera and started shooting.

The hallway was ornately decorated and quite beautiful, but the light…the light as it beamed through the windows and doorways…the light turned the hallway into something extraordinary.

It also reminded me of an extraordinary verse in God’s Word about Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of our souls: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

As we followed other folks on their way into the museum down that light-filled hallway and I kept taking photos, another thought came to my mind. I’ve often read and heard accounts of people who “died and came back to life.”

In almost all of those accounts, those who experienced this reported that they traveled toward a light. Some talk about having gone through a tunnel of light.

Might that be the hallway to heaven? Some claim it is. I don’t know.

I just know that I will follow my Savior, the Light of this world, throughout this life.  And when the time comes that I must depart from this place, He will be the light that leads me into heaven someday.

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” ~ Aaron Rose

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

A light within

blogimg_2441As long as I can remember, I’ve gazed at them.

And their beauty hasn’t faded after all of these years. They grace the walls of my church.

I grew up in a rural area outside of a small town and from birth until my marriage,  I attended and belonged to one church.  A simple, white clapboard country church. The same church where my parents were members as their parents before them.

Actually, my family history on my paternal grandmother’s side dates back to the very beginning of that church almost 200 years ago. Family ancestors were two of the eight founding members in 1820.

Once while researching the history of my church, I uncovered a copy of a 1941 church directory with all kinds of information included. What fascinating reading it made, seeing in print the positions members of my family – now long gone – held in that church, reading about all the activities going on, and seeing a membership roll that neared 500 souls.  

The history of my church is one of the things I love about it.  I also love my fellow believers there.  I love my pastor who encourages and, at the same time, challenges us each Sunday morning with messages straight from God’s Holy Word.  

I love that when I step inside that church building, I feel like I belong there.  

And there is one more thing I love about my church. Adorning each wall of the sanctuary are the most resplendent stained glass windows – a fancy thing for such a simple country church not made of stone or brick.

As long as I can remember, those windows have graced the church sanctuary. I’ve always loved the brilliantly colored glass depicting symbols of Christianity and renditions of the way the church building appeared in days gone by.

Sitting in a pew in my church on a Sunday morning, singing songs of praise to my God, hearing His Word as it speaks to my heart, I notice the sun shining through those windows and it brings even more joy to my soul.

It’s like God’s love is pouring down from heaven through those sunbeams lighting up the sparkling panes of colored glass.

From the outside of my church, those stained glass windows don’t appear to be that spectacular. But inside is a different story. Inside, when light radiates through them, those windows become incandescent and brilliant.   

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Although it is God’s House, the actual building that houses my church with these magnificent windows is just that – it’s just a building.

What makes a church a true place to worship the Lord isn’t the building, it’s what is practiced, preached, and believed inside and outside of that building.

The church is not a private club. The church is truly believers, people like you and me, the hands and feet of Jesus.  Believers who go outside the church to share the gospel message, to give help and aid to those who are needy, to reach out to those who are hurting, to show others in words and deeds what it means to be saved by the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

All of this reminds me that on the outside, things may look glum, even dreary, much like how the outer stained glass windows appear on my church building. But when the light of belief in a Savior shines through, perspective changes amazingly.

I hope when folks view my outer countenance, they may see a radiant stained glass window revealed by the light within me which only comes from my Savior.

And I must take that light and shine it outside the walls of my church building.

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Get off the worry track

blogIMG_4531 (2)My family is small in comparison to others.

My mother was an only child, so no aunts or uncles there as well as no first cousins. My father was the youngest in his family and when he passed away at 90 years of age, all of his brothers and his sister were also deceased. So I have no living aunts or uncles. 

In addition to that, every one of my first cousins was older than I was since I was the last cousin born.  And now all but one are also deceased.

So I only have this one cousin left.  Growing up, he was my favorite cousin and I’ve always felt a special kinship with him. Maybe it’s because he was the closest in age to me (even though he’s seven years older) and most of the other cousins were old enough to be my parents. Or maybe it’s just because we were the youngest in the family. Or maybe it’s because we just seem connected.

Cousin and I don’t get to see each other very often even though he and his wife don’t live too far from me. But when we do manage to run into one another here and there, it’s like we can’t stop talking.

His grown children and grandchildren live far away from our hometown just like some of mine do. So Cousin and I spend some time chatting and catching up on how the kids are all doing and what’s new in their lives.

Since he has done a lot of research about our family genealogy and I’m also very interested in that, we discuss that quite a bit as well. He has even visited the place in jolly ol’ England from where our family came and I find that fascinating. Cousin is a wealth of information on the subject and I always enjoy when he shares what he’s learned with me.

But then we get to reminiscing about days gone by as well. Since he is a bit older, he remembers family stories that I don’t know or that happened when I was too young to remember.   

Just last week, my cousin and his gracious wife attended a social function where Papa and I also just so happened to be present.  And after the hugs and handshakes, we got an opportunity to sit down and chat. And chat. And chat.

So much to talk about and not enough time to do so is how it felt. One of the comments my cousin made struck me as particularly poignant and it has stuck with me ever since. 

He has had some serious health issues in the last few years which culminated in major surgery. He seems fine now, but I do believe his health concerns caused him to consider his mortality and changed his outlook on life somewhat.

He told me he’s really questioned himself over the way he lived his life when he was in his younger decades. Don’t we all do so when we arrive in the fall and winter seasons of life?

We start looking back over the years we’ve passed through and wonder if we’ve done enough. If we’ve lived enough.

If we’ve made an impact in someone’s life.

If we chased all the wrong elusive butterflies like prosperity, social status, impressive careers, material possessions, or whatever else we thought was important.

Did our lives make a difference? Did we fulfill a purpose here on this earth? And if we consider all of those things we worried and fretted over as we journeyed through life, did they really matter?

Even those aspects of life we may have neglected can prove a bit worrisome as we reflect back over years past. And worry tends to become a focus for the future as well.

Pondering over my cousin’s remark and considering all of the uncertain aspects of the future I find myself stewing over, I’m reminded of what Jesus tells me in the book of Matthew.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 5:25-34

As He always does, Jesus speaks truth. Why do we waste our time worrying?

I must remind myself it’s futile worrying about the past. What’s done is done. Finished. I can’t change it by worrying or by wishing I would have lived it differently. Only through God’s grace in the gift of a Savior can our slates be wiped clean from past wrong doings.

Likewise, it’s in vain to worry about the present. My God will provide all I need and I must focus on doing His will, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. That means I should live this time of my life with purpose and concentrate on what the Lord leads me to do and in the direction He guides me.

And what about the future? I do tend to fret about what may happen, but I must remember the words of my Savior: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” 

Tomorrow will come. Who knows what it may bring. But I place my trust and faith in a Savior who will see me through whatever happens.

I am certain I’m on the right track because as I contemplated this idea and started composing this post, several quotes about worrying appeared on my social media news feed.

And then as I sat in Sunday morning worship at our church, our pastor, in his message,  used other scriptures about anxiety and worry that had crossed my mind while I was working on this post. 

Coincidence? I think not. God always lets me know when I’m on the right track.

“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” ~ unknown

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