Just different, that’s all

blogIMG_1583It wasn’t a typical Mother’s Day. But then again what’s typical in this ever-changing world we live in?

A typical Mother’s Day for me consists of attending worship service at our church with some or all of my family, then enjoying a home-cooked lunch prepared by Papa and my grown-up kids, and spending the remainder of the day with my family in the same house as me until it is time for them to journey to their own homes.

If our three with spouses and grandchildren in tow can’t be here to celebrate this special day, at least one of them would make an appearance in person – our daughter and grandchild who live close to us – and I would receive phone calls from the others.

But Mother’s Day was different this year. Not terrible, just different, due to the continued sheltering in place or lockdown we’re enduring because of this virus which holds us hostage in our own homes.

Instead of worshipping my God in our church, Papa and I gathered around the computer to listen online to our pastor’s message for the day while Little One watched Journeys for Jesus. We scarfed down some left-over pizza for lunch since it was just the three of us around the kitchen table.

After lunch, we drove Little One to Daughter’s house so Little One could deliver her Mother’s Day gift to her mommy – a basket of pretty pansies and a homemade card, which is so much more of a keepsake than a purchased card anyway.

We visited with our daughter/her mommy from her front porch. She was quarantined behind her glass front storm door. We sat on the opposite side. No hugs, no kisses on the cheek. Just talk between glass. Different? Certainly.

blogIMG_1567The wind kicked up, the sun disappeared behind clouds (again!), and the temperature chilled, so it was time to bid farewell. Being weary of staying home for so many dreary, sun-deprived days, we opted for a Sunday drive around our area’s country roads.

Little One fell asleep in her car seat in the back of our vehicle and the lull of the car’s motion enticed me to take a little nap in the front as well. Papa drove in silence – a bit of peace and quiet for him.

Different Mother’s Day? It sure was.

But one thing wasn’t different. Words of love and appreciation from all of my grown children, photos of my other two little grandchildren, and a special gift delivered by UPS.

My oldest daughter knows I can’t stand the taste of coffee and am a devoted tea drinker. So what did she and my son-in-law send me? What could be more perfect on these unseasonably chilly May days than a hot cup of tea?

My special Mother’s Day gift was a package of “Novel Teas” from Bag Ladies Tea. Each of the 25 English Breakfast tea bags boasts literary tags with humorous or insightful quotes from well-known authors printed upon them.

Quotes like this one from Henry Ward Beecher: “Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore?”

I could bemoan the fact that I didn’t get to spend Mother’s Day with my beloved offspring and all of my grandchildren. But I won’t because life is just a bit different right now – not terrible, just different and I must keep that in perspective.

“I am still determined to be cheerful and to be happy in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learnt from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.” ~ Martha Washington

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Remembering the road home

blogScan_1999home

Home building in 1999

It was January. Not exactly the best month of the year to move because winter was in full force.

Not only that, the year 2000 had arrived and everyone had been freaking out beforehand about Y2K, the term being used for the new year in a new millennium.

Concerns that Y2K would cause all kinds of computer havoc as the year changed,  because many computer programs didn’t account for the date transition from 99 (as in 1999) to 00 (as in 2000), had been blasted over the airwaves for months.

Fear abounded that computers would be unable to operate as 2000 was ushered in and that would affect all kinds of major aspects of our modern life. People bought generators thinking we would have no power and stockpiled food, water, and other necessities. Some folks seemed to be completely panicked.

But Papa and I weren’t overly concerned. First of all, our faith in God assured us that no matter what happened, God would help us through. And secondly, our focus was on something more concrete – building our new home.

Fortunately, not much actually occurred because of Y2K. But for us, something more important did happen. We moved into our brand new house in January 2000.

Twenty years ago this month, we began living in this building we call home. For the 18 months prior to that, we endured a tumultuous journey as a family.

In late spring of 1998, we began that journey when we sold our home in the Pacific Northwest, purged some household goods, hired a moving company to transport furniture and other household items, and drove two cars with three kids all the way across the United States to my hometown.

We uprooted our kids, abandoned suburban life, and headed to the country where I grew up in Papa’s and my home state. My mother was ill – terminally, we discovered – and Papa’s elderly mother was also not in good health.  It was time to live closer to family.

Papa had resigned from his sales job on the West Coast, but we looked forward to a promising interview scheduled just shortly after we arrived back in our home state in June 1998.  The bottom fell out of that hope when Papa learned the company he had interviewed with had decided not to expand like they had planned, which resulted in no open position for him.

Our family of five moved in with my parents in my childhood home. For a few months, we lived on savings as Papa searched for a new job. Shortly after God provided that, Papa’s mother was hospitalized and we lost her. Another difficult life event.

Four months later, my own mother succumbed to that dreaded disease, cancer.  Another devastating loss. We continued staying with my father to keep him company and because we were continuing a long search for our own place to live.

Originally, we had planned to build a home next door to my parents’ on some of their land (they owned four acres), but that plan fell through completely when we couldn’t obtain clearance for a septic system there. Those are the trials you encounter when living in rural areas, but that was yet another disappointment and set back.

Finally, after we had exhausted available real estate offerings, a family friend showed us a plot of ground owned by his relative. If the septic test would pass, we could purchase a 2.24 acre plot that was once a farmer’s field. 

I remember the five of us – Papa, our three offspring, and me – standing on that plot of earth, holding hands while forming a circle, and praying over what would be the site of our new home. We asked God for His protection, His guidance, and for His peace to reign in the house which would be built there.

With excitement, ground was broken in August 1999 and we watched our house take shape.

Those five months flew by in a dizzying array of busyness. In between Papa traveling for his job and our teenagers’ schedules of school, sports, and activities, we made decisions on the house. We watched the year 2000 arrive without a glitch and prepared to move the few miles between my parents’ home and ours.

It felt like Christmas all over again as we moved our furniture out of storage and opened up boxes that had been packed 18 months prior.

Yet amidst the joy and excitement, the happiness of finally having our own home once again, I experienced feelings that I didn’t expect. The day before we would actually start living in our new home, we spent our last night sleeping in my parents’ home, my childhood home.

At bedtime, after biding my widowed father good night, I burst into tears. I was happy and thrilled to be blessed with a place to call our own once again, but leaving my father to live by himself, especially without my mother’s presence, wreaked havoc on my emotions.

And I was leaving that place I called “home” once more, a bittersweet moment.

Every January for the last 20 years, I’ve remembered those feelings and the difficulties we encountered on our journey to our home.

My father passed away over 10 years ago, and my childhood home was sold afterwards. The new owner has changed it significantly so that “home” as it was only exists in my memory now.

All that transpired during that time has made me realize something so very important. This place, this house that became my residence 20 years ago, this dwelling where Papa and I have lived longer than any other place we’ve resided, is just my earthly home. It wasn’t an easy path to acquire this home, but we managed only through God’s help.   

Yet another home awaits me, the one Jesus has prepared for me and all others who believe in Him and call Him their Savior and Lord.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll live in my earthly home, this house of mortar and wood, and what difficulties still lie ahead, but I know where my eternal home is.  How about you?

“Why should you worry whether God wants you to reach the heavenly home by way of the desert or by the fields, when by the one as well as by the other one arrives all the same at a Blessed Eternity? Keep far from you excessive preoccupation which arises from the trials which the good God wishes to visit upon you.”  ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When you’re just not found

blogScreenshot (2)

Just one of the screenshots of my glitchy moments

I’ve been taking a break.

From this blog.  From social media for the most part.  From a lot of things.

Part of the break was intentional and another chunk was not. 

One thing just led to another and the longer I took a break from writing blog posts, taking photographs to share, and making comments or status updates on other folks’ blogs or Facebook, the longer it felt right to do so.

For the last several months, life spun me in a different direction.  I’ve been needed elsewhere.  I’ve gathered up as much strength as I could muster to give it to someone else whose world was shattered.  And I’d be bold-faced lying if I didn’t confess that the experience has left me spent, exhausted, and in need of some retreat.

That’s part of the reason I’ve been ‘breaking.’  Days and nights were consumed with helping someone else.  There just was no time for doing much blogging.

But that’s not the lone cause.

I noticed an online meme this morning that was intended to be used as a Facebook cover photo and it summed up my feelings quite well: “Taking a break…my life needs me.”

Lately, my preoccupations have centered on my life instead of writing in this blog.  Yep, it’s safe to say my life needed me and I needed my life.  And that life does not revolve around my online presence nor do I want it to.

I’ve gone back to school – in one form or another.  I’m back at substitute teaching so that does occupy some daylight hours here and there, and I find doing so improves my outlook.  Just being around those teens and pre-teens does make my heart happy.

And I’ve also begun taking an online course in something I’ve always wanted to do.  And you know what?  That makes my heart happy too.  And it absorbs my ‘online time’ so that I don’t really want to spend any more time on social media. I count that as a plus. 

However, there’s more to the story.

A glitchy problem arose with my blog a few weeks ago which also prevented me from posting and giving me an excuse not to.  After several efforts at trying to address the issue, I finally threw up my hands and contacted my host site for help.  Technology (and the ire it causes me when it doesn’t work the way I think it should) often baffles me and I have to call in the big guns for reinforcement.

After several attempts and days of emailing back and forth, in between everything else that needed my attention, and sending screenshots to help rectify the situation, one of the ‘Happiness Engineers’ from WordPress sent me a satisfying resolution.  She was awesome, by the way.

But with the problem solved, I found I still wasn’t quite ready to resume blog posts.  I’m still not sure I’m game. 

I’m wrestling with several decisions like deactivating my Twitter account because really, who cares?  And limiting my Facebook activity because really, the only reason I stay on is to keep in touch with far-away friends and promote this blog. And what to do with this blog because really, I don’t know.

Just so many questions and so much I’m unsure about right now.  And honestly, with some new life changes, my time is limited for promoting an online presence.  And do I REALLY want one?? 

Then there’s the bottom line: does my blog really encourage anyone?  In this crazy, mixed up, messed up world, does my writing or photography really make a difference?

I’m pretty certain I have some deep thinking and praying to do.  So for the time being, I hope this at least explains my absence and why I’m just not found right now.

“Sometimes a break from your routine is the very thing you need.” ~unknown

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thirty days of thanks giving

blogthanksIt’s November.  The 11th month of the year. 

In one way November reminds us the year is winding down and the garden’s growing season has come to an end. Most things of color  turn brown and either die or go dormant.   We feel a shiver in the air as the season whisks autumn’s leaves from the trees scattering them to the ground while we prepare to settle in for winter.  Another year of life is drawing to a close.

On the other hand, the onset of November also reminds us to gear up because Christmas is coming and there’s so much to be done.  Holiday frenzy will soon be upon us and we will find ourselves stressed to the max preparing for the big event, then toasting out the old year and welcoming in the new.

I’ve always felt that November gets the short stick, squeezed in like a thin piece of American cheese between two thickly sliced hunks of tasty fresh-baked bread.  It’s overlooked, it’s forgotten.  It just doesn’t have the appeal or commercial factor sandwiched in between Halloween and Christmas.  November holidays – especially Thanksgiving –  somehow get lost in the shuffle.   Only important enough for one day of celebration.  And that bothers me…a lot.

So it’s November.  And with the change of season, I’m in need of a change – in my heart and in my blog.  If you missed the post in which I wrote about this change, please take a minute and read it by clicking here.  You see, I take too many aspects of my life for granted, I spend too much time on myself,  and I don’t spend nearly enough time in thanksgiving.  And I don’t mean ‘Thanksgiving’ – preparing a feast, sitting at a well-appointed table, and gorging myself with turkey and all the trimmings.  I mean thanks giving.  Giving thanks with joy.  Giving thanks with prayer.  Giving thanks in all things to the One who provides all things.

For many years I have claimed my life verses are a passage from the Bible found in 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5.  You can read those words in the graphic I designed to accompany this post and I’ll share why those verses changed my thought processes many years ago in a future post this month. 

While these verses do guide and direct me and hold profound meaning,  my heart tells me – no, my heart demands that I cease using lip service for this passage and commence putting these words that sustain me into real action.

This month, this very month of November, this month of thanks giving, I will attempt each day to post with words and/or photos about aspects of life for which I am most thankful.  Some aspects may be awe-inspiring;  some may be just simple everyday occurrences or objects or feelings causing you to wonder why I’m thankful for such small things.  Some of these  thankful blog posts will describe events or experiences that are considered difficult and trying.  But see that’s the thing.  God’s Word tells me to be thankful for ALL things, not just the good stuff.

Join me this November as I chronicle my thanks giving not to glorify myself but to give glory and honor to the One who deserves my praise and grateful heart.  My prayer is that you’ll find the month of November causes you to pause and be full of your own thanks giving as well.

“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” ~ W.J. Cameron

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Repurposing me

blogIMG_4325

Father-in-law’s wooden puzzle from childhood

Repurposing appears to be all the rage now days. 

What today’s savvy crafter or decorator calls repurposing – using something old or that could  be discarded for an entirely new purpose – is what we used to call just reusing what we had lying around the house or garage.  My parents were experts at reusing.  Both of them grew up during the Great Depression and money was not just tight, in some instances it was practically non-existent, so they learned from their parents to reuse everything possible.

Maybe that’s why my father had an over-sized two-car garage full of all kinds of bits and pieces:  old electrical wiring and plugs, any kind of old screws, nuts, bolts, or nails, jars, pieces of lumber/tile/whatever, string/rope/twine, parts for this and parts from that, and on and on and on.  My parents only threw something away when it was totally unusable.  And many times that whatsit that Dad had saved in the garage came handy for fixing or fabricating something else.

Fast forward to current times.  Everyone is ‘repurposing.’  You can find scads of ideas on Pinterest and there are entire websites dedicated to reusing, remaking, and repurposing all kinds of things.  I noticed some really great ideas and some incredulous ones as well (like turning an old baby Grand piano into a fountain) on this Twisted Sifter site. And I regularly check out interesting reusing ideas on the Facebook page Hometalk.

blogIMG_2127

Mother’s childhood cabinet

I’ve repurposed a number of things right here at Mama’s Empty Nest now that I have more time on my hands.  After my mom passed away, I inherited one of her toys – a child-sized wooden cabinet that she put her play dishes in as a little girl.  It gathered dust in my basement for several years because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. 

One day I brought it upstairs, cleaned and polished it and found a spot in my dining room for it.   I repurposed it by adorning it with some vintage doilies and various tea-related items in addition to special tea cups and saucers and my mother-in-law’s antique cream pitchers and was happy with the result.  I especially like that it reminds me not only of my mom and my mother-in-law but also the friends and family who gave me the gifts it now holds.

Repurpose Win #1.

After my father passed, my sisters and I faced the monumental task of cleaning out our parents’ home and garage – not an easy job in lots of ways.  In the garage, I found the old insulated dairy box that used to stand on our porch for the milkman to deposit our weekly bottles of milk in when I was a kid.  It was still in relatively decent shape, and since neither one of my sisters wanted it, it came home with me.  Of course, it too found a dusty spot in my basement to hide.  This summer, I repurposed it into a flower pot container for pretty red geraniums on my front porch.

blogIMG_3134

Old milk box back on the porch

Repurpose Win #2.

For years, my hubby has kept a wooden puzzle in an old cardboard stationary box of his mother’s.  The puzzle is most unique in that it is printed on both sides – one side is the face of a clock in Roman numerals, the other gives the seasons of the year, names of the months, and how many days each month has.  The puzzle is special to us because it was a boyhood toy for my father-in-law who was born in 1898 (yes, you read that right!).  Instead of being hidden away in a box, this little bit of family history now rests inside a glass frame and hangs on my husband’s study wall (see photo at top).

Repurpose Win #3.

So repurposing – I’ve been up for it.  I’ve managed it.  There are still some items in my home that I have plans to reuse in one way or another.  That’s the easy aspect of repurposing.  Just go online, look up ideas, scan a few magazines, voila! You’ve got an idea what to do and how to do it.

But when it comes to life?  How do you repurpose that?  Not so easy.  That’s something I’ve been struggling with for over a year now.  Altering your life is so much more difficult than altering an object.  Finding a new purpose for yourself proves harder than finding a new purpose for an old, dusty thing.

This passage of scripture from 2 Timothy 2:20-21 which I read in The Message the other day encouraged me:   “In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.”

With God’s guidance and according to His purpose, I believe He’s repurposing me, altering my container so I can be used to bless others.

And I’m hoping.  And praying.  And waiting for Repurpose Win #4.

“Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.” ~Author Unknown

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com