An ending is the beginning

30 days of thanks3I made it!

I accomplished my goal of writing posts dedicated to thankfulness in my 30 Days of Thanks Giving. Thirty posts. Thirty days.

A month-long offering of gratitude and thankfulness because I didn’t want to forget how very much I have to be thankful for and to whom I must give my offering of gratefulness.  

“He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.”  ~J.A. Shedd

My days of thanks giving shouldn’t just appear in the month of November though. Each and every day that I breathe, I need to keep this attitude of gratitude.

Even though we have reached the last day of November, thanks giving will continue because I am determined to continue taking a moment to pause in gratitude for all I have been given by a good, gracious Father in heaven.

Soon another year of life will come to a close. One more month left in this year and then we will begin a fresh, new year – 2019. Can you believe it?

When it arrives, my hope is to carry thanks giving as a way of life into next year. No, I won’t be blogging about gratitude every day because there are so many other aspects of life to write about, but rest assured I will be grateful. And I hope I’ve influenced my readers to be thankful as well for life’s blessings, no matter how great or small.

“Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.” ~Native American saying

I will be back to my normal posting schedule starting in December and into next year. However, I do have an announcement about the new year. Something new will arrive in 2019. Something wonderful and joyful and oh, so precious.

Papa and I will become grandparents for the third time! Our son and daughter-in-law are expecting a new little one to join our family next spring.

As we head into the Christmas season, my heart is full of thanks for a new little life to become part of our family circle and it is also full of gratitude for that little baby born so long ago. The one that came to give us new life.  Jesus. The Messiah. The long-awaited One. The Savior of the world.

A gift of love to be celebrated with joy.

“In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and all I have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” ~ Henri Nouwen

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Family connections

blogOld photoIf you can believe all the ads on TV and the internet, more and more folks are wondering just where they came from.

Those ads inform you where you can send your DNA to have it analyzed and receive a report indicating what part of the world you descended from. I can understand why that information would be intriguing if you don’t know much about your family history.

For some reason, I’ve always been fascinated about knowing my ancestry. Shortly after Papa and I married, we purchased a family tree print which we filled out as best as we could with the limited information we had. We framed it and it has graced our living room wall for all of our married life.

Since both of our sets of grandparents passed away either when we were young or before we were even born, our knowledge of great-grandparents and further back in the family lines was very limited.

My father did possess a treasure trove of family lineage on both sides of his family and he passed that information to my sisters and me. But pertaining to my mother’s lineage, we had very little to go on beyond our grandparents.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been even more determined to find out more family genealogy but am limited with time to do so. It’s quite a task, even if you join one of the online genealogy sites. There’s a lot of misinformation, dates in error, etc. that can lead you down the wrong path and I have felt frustration over some of that.

Enter my cousin. I have one living first cousin left; all the others are deceased. My cousin’s father and my father were brothers and our families were close when I was growing up. Recently, cousin and I have had more opportunities to see one another and talk about family remembrances. And he just so happens to have done a lot of research on our fathers’ family.

A couple of months ago, my cousin came for a visit and brought along his three-ring binder full of his research, which is more extensive that what I have. He showed me how he had collected all of the information and formatted it into a binder, not just on our shared family history but on this mother’s lineage as well.

I was impressed and expressed that to him. We shared stories and many remembrances of family members long gone. Hearing my cousin’s stories – many of which I never had heard – made me even more determined to seek out more of my family history (and my husband’s as well), get it put down in writing, and prepare a similar notebook to be passed down to my children if they are interested.

But time. Or the lack of it. That is my problem. It’s been a busy season of life for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest even though I basically am retired from working outside the home and Papa is semi-retired, only working at a part-time job. Taking care of our granddaughter while daughter works takes up a good bit of my time. And there are always church activities and other commitments that also claim my free hours as well as writing this blog.

Recently, my cousin visited me again. I never imagined he would arrive with a complete surprise in his hands. He prepared a family history binder for me as a gift. Not only did he include all of his research and photographs from our shared family lineage, but he had done significant exploration into my mother’s (his aunt by marriage) family.

What an amazing gift! My cousin gleaned through ancient census reports, vital life certificates, and other information to complete my mother’s family tree. Then he printed all of his collected findings, formatted the family lineage, and placed it all in sections by family name in a three-ring binder.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~ Thornton Wilder

To say I am thankful for what he did is an understatement. His gift touched my heart in so many ways. I’m beyond grateful for my cousin, for the ways we have felt connected in our family ties, for the stories he has shared, for the vast amount of time he spent compiling all of the information he acquired.

My cousin gave me a treasure. A treasure I can pass on to my children in hopes they can pass it on to my grandchildren. A treasure of family connection. The past with the present. And into the future.

Just one more thing to be grateful for in my 30 Days of Thanks Giving.

 “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~ Henry Van Dyke

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Heated thankfulness

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

There was a time in my life when my body temperature ran way too hot. Without being too specific to scare away any males reading this post, I bet you can imagine the times I’m referring to. Even in the dead of winter with temperatures hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit or below, I would be in the throes of a hot flash.

I vividly remember stepping out onto the front porch several winter nights dressed in a lightweight summer nightgown after awakening with the feeling that I was going to spontaneously combust. Snow covered the ground yet you could find me standing on the porch just trying to chill out.

Back then, having heated seats in an automobile sounded like torture. Why on earth would I ever need such a thing? When Papa and I considered purchasing a new vehicle, I remember telling him that heated seats were an extra component we could do without. I surely didn’t need heat in my seat because I could provide my own heat and I would be the primary driver of that new vehicle.

Flash forward a few years. Happily for me and all those around me, my hot flashes were relegated to the past. Again, it was time to shop for a new car and the particular one we liked the most came with heated seats.

Papa and I agreed to purchase that specific car, but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t imagine ever using that feature because cold temperatures really didn’t bother me. Plus we park our vehicles in our attached garage, so they aren’t often sitting outside in the cold, wintry weather we get in our neck of the woods.

But one blustery winter day, our car had been parked outside for several hours. It was freezing and the wind chill blew right through me as if it would cause my blood to thicken and my bones to rattle when I walked to the car. It was that kind of a day when the wintry air has a real bite to it.

I climbed in the car, shivering even in my heavy winter coat and gloves. In a hurry, I flicked on the switch to the heated seats and within seconds, warmth radiated through the car seat and settled into my back.

Ah, that warmth was such a relief. I never dreamed I’d be grateful for heated seats but they are such a blessing on a blustery day. On my 12th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m so grateful for something that seems so trivial, yet it’s worth a mention of thanks.

“I find that the more willing I am to be grateful for the small things in life, the bigger stuff just seems to show up from unexpected sources, and I am constantly looking forward to each day with all the surprises that keep coming my way!” ~ Louise L. Hay

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks seems inadequate

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Here in the United States today is a public holiday. It’s Veteran’s Day, a day that honors all those who have served our country so nobly in the United States Armed Forces.

This holiday was originally called Armistice Day and was established to celebrate the end of World War I which officially concluded at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Sometime in the 1950s, the holiday was re-named Veteran’s Day.

A lot of folks get this holiday confused with Memorial Day, which is commemorated in May and honors all those who died while in the military. There is also an Armed Forces Day, occurring in May as well, which is meant to honor those currently serving in all branches of the armed forces.

But today, Veteran’s Day, is meant to honor all our veterans. My husband, the Papa of this empty nest, just happens to be one of those.  While earning his college degree, he was a member of ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). Once he graduated from the university, he decided to go on active duty instead of being a reserves officer.

That choice took us (we were married after he graduated) on a journey of US Army life for several years. While Papa served during peace time here in our own country and abroad in a foreign land, he still was prepared, as any armed services member is, to defend our country and lay down his life for her (and us) if necessary.

For that, I will always admire him and always give thanks for his willingness to put his life on the line.

Earlier this week, Papa and some other community fellow veterans were invited to participate in a breakfast in their honor and a Veteran’s Day assembly at our local high school. He’s attended this special event for the last couple of years and he always looks forward to it. Once he was one of the guest speakers and appreciated the opportunity to talk to young people about serving our country.  

Today, on this 11th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m grateful for all those who have sacrificed so much to be in the military. Won’t you join me in giving a thankful tribute to all of our veterans not just on this day to honor them, but on every day?

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Sound of silence

blogIMG_4396 (2)The sound of silence.

The folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released a song of the same name in the early 1960’s. The words to the seemingly haunting music are still embedded in my brain like the vision Paul Simon wrote about in the lyrics:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.  ~ Lyrics by Paul Simon

All those years ago when I was a young girl and even into young adulthood (before children), the sound of silence bothered me. I didn’t like it.

If it was completely quiet, I needed to have noise. Music from the radio or the stereo floating through the air in melodic harmony or sometimes crashing loudly in the form of rock songs filled the silent surroundings.

Or turning the television on just for some background noise did the trick. It didn’t matter what made noise, just so there was some.  I just seemed to need some sound to break the eeriness of complete silence.  That need probably stemmed from a little fear that niggled in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be totally alone.

When I found myself in a solitary mode, I filled silence with conversations either on the phone or in person with a friend, neighbor, or family. Anything to eliminate silence.

But then along came children – one, two, three – and our home was saturated with noise. Crying, sibling squabbles, boisterous play, and a houseful of neighborhood children adding to the mix eliminated silence.

Our kids’ teenage years brought even more noise – loud music and video games ruled the air. Chatty teenagers lounged in our family room, wrestled with one another, played round after round of Dance, Dance Revolution. Our house was one noisy place!

By the time the empty nest loomed in my future, I was more than willing to accept the sound of silence. But oh, that empty nest was sooooooo quiet. As the lack of noise became reality, I found myself wandering through an empty house in complete silence. For a while, it unnerved me. It saddened me. It made me feel as if that old loneliness called  solitude enveloped me once more.

But I adjusted. I learned to accept the new version of my life. One with the sound of silence. I found I enjoyed time alone. Quiet time to think. Tranquil time to read unhindered. Peaceful time to pursue aspects of life that fulfilled me, like writing in this blog, reading my Bible, capturing photographs.

And in my serenity, I also found that the sound of silence provided me with something that had been missing in a major way in my life. Time to be quiet and listen for the Lord’s voice, His direction, His guidance, His inspiration.  Time to be alone without the noisy interference of the world and to relish the sound of silence.

On this eighth day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m thankful for the sound of silence and for finally learning to accept it with an open heart, mind, and ears to listen.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Foggy thanks

person walking on road between trees

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Early one day last week, my friend and I were taking our morning walk. The temperature was brisk, so we bundled up.  And since it was before we changed our clocks (fall back for Daylight Savings Time), it was still dark outside when we left our homes.

We knew the cloak of darkness would dissipate even though it was overcast and cloudy because the sun would arise soon. However, visibility was hindered immensely because it was foggy.

Really foggy. Thick as pea soup foggy. By the time we finished our jaunt, my hair was actually damp from walking through the thick fog of misty air.

Fog. It can be dangerous when you’re driving because you can’t see very far ahead of you. It can be dangerous as a walker crossing the street because an oncoming vehicle may not be able to see you.

Sometimes the fog is so dense you can’t see where you’re going or where the road even is located. Headlights don’t illuminate enough or cut through the murky haze. 

Fog makes you feel disoriented because you can’t get your bearings. It seems the same when you’re in a fog mentally as well. You feel out of sorts, unsettled, befuddled. Which way do you turn? It’s so hard to discern.

But you know what? I’m thankful for the fog on this fifth day of my 30 Days of Thanksgiving. Yes, it can make life difficult. It can make your path on your journey confusing. It can leave you perplexed. But the fog set before us doesn’t last forever.

As soon as the sun actually came out later that morning, its warm, bright rays burned off the fog. The vaporous surroundings lifted and unhampered passageways could be seen easily once more.

When the fog finally lifts, it’s like you can see with new eyes. Everything looks well-defined and sharp again. 

So why am I thankful for fog, of all things? If it weren’t for the murky, foggy days or nights, would we feel gratitude for and appreciate the clear ones we experience the rest of the time? 

I think not.

Fog reminds me that even when things around me look unclear and confusing, when I’m just trying to move forward, one cautious step at a time because I can’t see where I’m going, the God of the universe lights my way, is a lamp for my feet, and will lead me through the fog.

“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

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Counting blessings

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

On this first Sunday of November, this fourth day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m counting all of my blessings, which are in abundance.  

My hope is that today you too will take a little time to count your blessings. Even amidst troubles and trials, if you look hard enough you will find something to be thankful for.

“Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.”

~ An Irish Blessing

Here’s a little video sung by little blessings themselves – children – for you to enjoy.

Be blessed this day, dear reader.

“Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given.” ~ Marelisa Fábrega

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Cause for alarm causes thanks giving

blogIMG_1711(2)The holiday of Thanksgiving is behind us now, but the thanks giving continues as it should. Each day we are given blessings for which to be thankful for, even though we often take those gifts for granted.

If you awaken each morning from a night’s slumber, that’s a gift of life and a blessing to be thankful for.

If your basic needs are supplied each day, that’s a blessing of provision; again something for which to give thanks.

The majority of us here in the USA are blessed beyond measure, yet we whine, complain, and over extend ourselves monetarily by purchasing more material goods than we need while our fellow human beings across the world suffer from hunger, lack of clean water, poverty, homelessness, war, strife, and persecution.

And I wonder are we truly thankful here in the land of plenty? Not just on Thanksgiving, but on each and every day of the life we are given? 

On Thanksgiving Day here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we feasted with our traditional meal of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade noodles, yam, corn, peas, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls, topping it all off with pumpkin, cherry, and lemon meringue pie and Thanksgiving decorated mini cupcakes.

Eleven of us, missing a few of the family who couldn’t join us this year, gathered around our dining room table laden with plentiful food and gave thanks to the One who provides our needs. We ingested our bounteous meal, shared stories, laughed, and spent an evening doing what we usually do when we gather together – played games.

All blessings for which we are thankful.

The day after Thanksgiving, some of us headed back to work while some of us packed up suitcases to travel home in another state. By late afternoon, just Papa and Mama were left in the quiet empty nest.

We decided we would just enjoy an evening of rest, change into comfy clothes, eat Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner, and maybe snuggle down on the couch and watch some Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Low key. An evening of quietude. Chillaxing.

That’s when we heard and noticed a tanker firetruck parked on our road in between our house and our next door neighbor’s. By then, darkness had descended and the flashing lights seemed ominous as they reflected in our windows. 

A police car appeared and started redirecting cars to turn around and go back the way they came. Flares were set out to stop traffic from traveling past our house from either direction. 

Papa and I stepped outside to try to ascertain what was happening. We didn’t smell smoke so we knew there wasn’t a fire, but we watched as one of the firemen walked to our next door neighbor’s house and I became even more alarmed.

Had something happened to him? One by one, his house lights went out. The fireman walked back to his truck, then started coming down through our yard towards our home.

He informed us that two doors down, someone had backed a truck over a gas meter and natural gas was spewing out underneath the vehicle. Yikes! Suddenly, I had visions of our houses blowing up in a huge explosion.

The fireman said he thought the best and most cautious thing to do was evacuate our home. As he spoke, we watched next door neighbor drive by in his vehicle as he was evacuated as well.  We agreed and gave our cell phone number to the fireman so he could call us when it was safe to return.

We hurriedly prepared to leave, grabbed coats, slipped on shoes, turned off the TV. I glanced around my home thinking should I take something with me? What if it’s all gone when I come back? I turned to my husband and asked him that.

His response – things can be replaced. And he’s right. Even though some material things are precious to me like photos of my loved ones and simple family “treasures” from my folks’ home and my in-laws’,  and I would be sad to lose those items, they are just things. I could retain them in my memory.

Racing out of our home and driving to a restaurant to eat dinner, I thought about what it must have been like for all of our fellow countrymen who had to evacuate their homes because of the wildfires this past summer, the horrible hurricanes,  and flooding that ensued.

My heart ached for those affected by the disasters even more than it did while those events were going on because I better understood now the panic they must have felt at losing their homes or possibly their lives.

And I uttered a prayer of thanksgiving because in all of my years on this earth, this was the first time I’ve ever had to leave my house and wonder if it would still stand when I returned.

I’ve experienced several tornado threats including one that set down not far from where we lived and even a minor earthquake and some tremors, but thankfully escaped with no damage.

I was so grateful we were spared from disasters in the past, but time has a way of making you forgetful, making you less cognizant of all those blessings once bestowed upon you. 

Later that evening, we received the fireman’s all clear call and returned to our home. The only remnant of the event was the gas company truck still working at the scene. Firetrucks gone, flares removed, police car off to help someone else no doubt.

So my heart was filled with gratitude.  I’m grateful our home was still standing and intact and so were our neighbors’ houses.

I’m grateful for first responders that keep us safe and protect us from harm and in doing so put their own lives on the line. This is even more on my heart since just before Thanksgiving, a young police officer in our region was shot and killed while on duty.

And I’m grateful to the gas company workers who may have had to leave their own leftover Thanksgiving dinners, family, and homes to fix the problem.

Friday night’s cause for alarm supplied a cause for thanks giving.

And my heart is grateful.

 “The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” ~ Henry Ward Beecher 

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Thanksgiving Wishes

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You are a blessing for which I give thanks.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t express my gratitude for the many readers of this blog. And what better time than Thanksgiving Day to tell you so?

You, my readers and friends, have blessed me each time you click on my posts to read the words I write and double bless me with your insightful and encouraging comments.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

May God grant you grace, peace, and love on this day when we Americans pause to give thanks for the many blessings we have. My wish is that you take time to give thanks this day and give to others who are not as fortunate as we are.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

“Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.” ~ Amy Grant

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com