As I say farewell

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!”

~ Ogden Nash

New Year’s Eve. Time to say farewell to another year past – one relegated to our memory banks for better or worse.

And we hail a new year being ushered in tomorrow. A brand new 365 days, Lord willing, to live life. A clean slate. An unblemished beginning.

But before I welcome 2020 in, I want to ruminate over and savor 2019. For this empty nest Mama, it was a very good year and I’m most grateful for it.

Each month of the year past brought something noteworthy to remember, to pigeonhole into my cherished memories file somewhere in that cluttered brain of mine. I’m a list-maker so please bear with me as I chronicle all my blessings for the year now ending.

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Their new home!

January: Mild winter weather enabled us to take a trip to the state next door to visit our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild and help them accomplish projects around their new home. We also experienced happiness and excitement with our middle daughter and other grandchild as we helped them move into their new home and a new life for them.

February: We celebrated with a birthday bash for our first grandchild with family and a houseful of friends. What joy this child brings to our lives! And I am blessed to spend so many days with her as her care-giver while her Mama is working.

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Started Bible studies in my home

March: I stepped out in faith, stopped talking about doing something, and actually commenced it! I began leading a Bible study for women in my home. Our topic was learning how to be content in life and I’m not certain who learned more, the lovely ladies in the group or me.

April: Spring arrived with lovely weather and we journeyed to visit our son’s family once more on our way to spend a glorious Easter with our oldest daughter and son-in-law in their home down south.

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Another grandchild blessing

May: A beautiful blessing arrived! Our third grandchild was born and once again, we traveled to the state next door to meet our newest family member and cuddle with our beautiful baby granddaughter.

June: Vacation month! Papa and I vacillated for weeks prior to our scheduled June vacation over where to go. We finally settled on a trip to various spots in Maryland, a state we’ve been in and through many, many times. But oh, what fun we had exploring new places and enjoying surprises.

July: A day trip to Erie, Pennsylvania where once again we explored places we haven’t visited before was the highlight as well as a lovely day for our church picnic in a nearby state park. Good fellowship with our fellow believers is always welcomed and a day to remember.

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Day trip to Lake Erie

August: We simply relaxed, spent time with our oldest granddaughter, and enjoyed a fairly mild (temperature-wise) summer. I also worked diligently reading resource books and my Bible preparing another women’s Bible study for fall. And I was blessed to spend time at lunch with a dear friend and another outing to a festival with one of my life-long buddies.

September: I began another women’s Bible study on prayer in my home and I can’t express how much the ladies in this group mean to me. I took photographs at a bridal shower for one of my best friend’s daughter which were received with grateful thanks from the bride.  We took a trip east to attend Papa’s family reunion and utilized free tickets to enjoy an evening in the city watching the Pittsburgh Pirates lose yet another baseball game. But hey, we had fun! Watching our little one play soccer every Saturday morning also reminded us of days gone by when we watched her mama and uncle play that sport. 

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Always fun when the kids are home

October: Papa and I celebrated another year of marriage (42!) and a nice weekend together with all of our grown kids and grandchildren when they all came “home.”  Afterwards, Papa and I headed out for another week’s vacation to Michigan, where we relished every single place we visited, including lighthouses for me to photograph and gorgeous fall foliage.

November: The month of Thanksgiving started with a beautiful wedding (aforementioned bride) in Old Alexandria, Virginia. Then the icing on the cake was (finally!) meeting in person with my long-time blogging friend, Dianna (These Days of Mine) and her husband JR. After a delicious lunch at Hanover Tavern, we couldn’t stop talking! What a blessing it was to get more acquainted with them. We’ve already made plans to meet again in 2020. A lovely Thanksgiving holiday with some of our family concluded the month.

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Such a blessing to meet a blogging friend in person!

December: Two family members’ birthdays, including our sweet second grandchild’s,  a wonderful family Christmas with everyone home, making our empty nest full of love and laughter.  An evening with good friends playing games and then a lunch with three of my former co-workers and dear friends rounded out the month.

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Our three little blessings

To say 2019 was a blessed year is definitely an understatement. Of course, not every day was perfect. There were challenges and problems as in any life we encounter on this earth. But our good and gracious God continues to be our Provider, our Peace, our Sustainer, and our Shepherd.

What will unfold in this New Year arriving in just a matter of hours? We have no way of knowing but as always, even if difficult circumstances arise and they will, I will give God glory and thanks with my life verse from God’s Word: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As our year comes to a close, I say farewell, 2019. I shall remember you with fondness. And as I welcome in 2020, I look forward to this New Year with anticipation for what it may bring.   

“Celebrate endings—for they precede new beginnings.” ~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Digging up the past

abstract black and white blur book

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I caught up with my past today.  It was buried deep in cardboard boxes high up on a shelf. Dusty and forgotten for so many years.

I hauled it down, blew off the dust. And all the years and memories unfolded in front of me.

There were cards and letters, trinkets, and junk with meaning only I would remember. But the past became as vivid as today’s raindrops beating on my window pane.

When my youthful diaries revealed so many faded memories, the joy and pain of adolescence gripped my heart once more as I read of long-lost friends and school girl crushes. So much teenage angst.

Hurt, rejection, misunderstandings swirled together with excitement, thrills of shared smiles, first kisses, first love. It was all there written down for safe-keeping in my own handwriting on lined pages in small books entitled “My Diary.”

I read them from start to finish while scenes from the almost forgotten past floated through my memory. Of course now, looking back on those days with grey-haired wisdom, I marvel at how fickle youth truly is.

Love him today, hate him tomorrow. Best friends now, not friends at all as time marches on. As I read the short passages written in between empty spaces, I observed with hindsight and a little sorrow how easily a young girl can be manipulated as well.

Yet, those long ago years seem so romanticized. They seem golden in my mind. They shout fun, exuberance, and excitement of being young in times past. When life was as simple as worrying about what to wear to school tomorrow and whether that cute boy in history class was really looking at me or merely out the window beside my desk.

And I laugh out loud at my girlish thoughts which I put into written words.

It’s true I wouldn’t want to return via time travel back to those days of my youth. There were lessons to be learned, some the hard way. A lot of growing up needed to be accomplished.  Some dreams were foolish; some were worth achieving.

But what’s passed is past.

 “You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”  ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

So today I find myself placing those youthful memories back in their box, back where they belong. But before I do, I realize that I am grateful for those times, those long-ago events that shaped me into the woman I am today.

What that young, naive, and flighty girl has become. Wife of a good, faithful husband, Mama of three wondrous children, Nana to two precious grandchildren, Daughter, Sister, Friend.

For what’s written in the past made future me the present me.

“The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.” ~ Barbara Taylor Bradford, Unexpected Blessings

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Looking backward to go forward

blogIMG_2507(2)I know. It’s a new year. 2018 dawned on us all yesterday. But today, on this brand new day in a brand new year, I’m looking backward.

Why? I believe you can’t move forward until you understand where you’ve been before. And that might entail relegating the past to where it belongs – the past.

There’s something motivating about turning over a new leaf. Or beginning a new beginning. And to do so, I need to examine yesterday before launching into today or tomorrow.

Supposedly Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” I’ve searched for validation of that quote as being attributed to Einstein but it seems questionable he actually wrote or said this.

But it’s still good advice. And until I can decide what direction this blog will take for 2018, I’ve elected to look back over 2017. Maybe I can learn something from what I’ve written this past year.

I can remember joy from certain events I celebrated or learn a lesson from those things that caused me distress.

It’s worth an effort. So here’s a look back at my blogging in 2017 before I proceed with 2018.

I’m really not much of a mathematician (I have a degree in English after all), but I do like the orderly fashion of numbers and the pictures those figures present.

As I’ve said before, I’m a visual person so I kind of like statistics displayed on charts. Hence, in an accounting kind of procedure, I added up how many blog posts I published here last year.

134 posts. Out of 356 days of the year, I only blogged roughly 38% of the year. Hmm…that doesn’t sound so good, does it? I remember all too well that I definitely experienced some dry spells this past year in which writing inspiration just wasn’t firing up any connections.

Well, I rationalized to myself after figuring those numbers on my calculator, I choose to only post three times per week, not every day. So let’s amend that figure…3 times/week multiplied by 52 weeks/year.  That equals 156. So I posted 134 times out of 156 opportunities. Okay, a better figure comes from that – about 86%. Doesn’t that sound like I accomplished a lot?

Next, I calculated how many times I posted on particular topics because I truly wanted a good grasp on what this blog is about. The results were thought-provoking but not entirely unpredictable.

More than half the time I posted, I either shared a photograph I’d taken for Wordless Wednesday or I was stirred to write an accompanying post to a photo I believed embraced a photo challenge theme declared by Word Press each week.

So what does this tell me? I’m very inspired by pictures – both viewing them and taking them. And photographic images spark words to fly into my brain and land on the computer screen for me to share with my readers.  Yep, I’m visual that way.

The next most posted topic here at Mama’s Empty Nest for 2017 happened to be instances where I shared my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ or I blogged about miscellaneous topics ranging from thankfulness to experiences I encountered to life in general.

Again no surprises there. My faith is vital to me, so it naturally is a part of my life I want to share with others. For the other topics, well, I just love to tell a good story.

Falling into the third most written about category were posts about my family or my husband or our marriage.  Not unexpected. My family means the world to me and with many of them strewn from here to there, not living in close proximity to me, our times together are precious.

What topic closed out the year’s statistics? Friendship. I do often blog about the friendships I hold dear both in real life and in my blogging circles.

So where does all of this introspection of Mama’s Empty Nest leave me? Shall I continue the same pattern for this brand new year? Or do I shake it up a little, challenge myself, and take a leap into a different direction?

The verdict is still out on that one.

“New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.” ~ Alex Morritt

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com