Words for Wedesday: new year wishes

blogimg_6576“The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.” ~ Norman Cousins

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Advertisements

When love is a midnight run to Wal-Mart

blogIMG_6495 (2)I’ve been down with a creeping crud for over a week now. And when you’re sick, you have lots of time to think in between sessions of much needed naps, hacking up a lung, medicating, emptying yet another box of tissues, and just generally lying around feeling awful.

And my husband…he who probably shared his contagion with me (although he did not have this crud as severely as I have)…he’s been his typical self.  His serving self.  His loving self.

And that has caused me to think about one subject in particular.

Love.  It’s been defined in so many ways.  Most think love is the ooey gooey feeling you get when you’re infatuated with someone.  Others confuse love with lustfulness.

We humans romanticize love.  Feelings, attraction, hearts and flowers and romantic gestures.  Of course they all have a part in convincing yourself you’re in love. And that love leads a young lady in white lace and a young man with promises on his lips to the altar of marriage.

But what does love look like after decades of marriage? What is it like after the bouts of in sickness and health?  For richer or poorer? For better or worse?  Will it last until death do us part?

Here’s my definition of love, in no particular order.

Love is:

  • phoning home every night you’re away on business just to let her know where you are;
  • sacrificing your wants for the welfare of your family;
  • holding her hair back while she throws up every morning in the early stages of pregnancy;
  • supporting her in every endeavor she tries and encouraging her when she fails;
  • cleaning and dressing her 28 staples long incision from cancer surgery and caring for her during recovery;
  • going to a steak restaurant for your anniversary because she doesn’t like seafood but you love it;
  • getting up countless times a night to rock that third baby back to sleep even though you have to work the next morning;
  • working hard and saving for the future just so she can stay home to nurture and care for your children;
  • holding her tightly while she is wracked with sobs of grief over the death of her parents;
  • bathing the children and putting them to bed because she’s exhausted even though you just got back from a business trip and you’re tired as well;
  • undergoing a sleep study because your snoring keeps her up at night;
  • dropping everything to assist her and the children when they need you;
  • setting a godly example as a father by not just attending church with your family but praying and reading your Bible;
  • never giving up when you’re suddenly without a job;
  • standing out in the pouring rain/freezing cold/snowstorm to fill her car with gas because you know she needs it in the morning;
  • taking off work to sit in a hospital waiting room with her while your teenage/adult child has surgery;
  • listening to her pour out the things that scare her, trouble her, and cause her to cry out in heart-brokenness and reassuring her you’ll always be there to help;
  • standing up for her, protecting her, providing for her, and caring for her;
  • midnight trips to Wal-Mart because the flu is keeping her from sleep and she’s all out of cold remedies.

Love is putting the other person’s needs ahead of your own.

Love is my husband of 38 years.

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

To love and endure

My parents wedding photo

My parents’ wedding photo

I come from a long line of folks who know how to endure. No matter what came their way, they stood the course.  Whether it was a time of war or a time of peace.  Whether it was a time of depression or a time of prosperity.  A time of joy or a time of sadness.

They said vows that they meant, vows of commitment.  Vows that promised to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.

Honoring those vows and staying committed to the one you have pledged them to is the definition of endurance, which happens to be the weekly photo challenge theme.  My grandparents and my husband’s grandparents knew how to endure.  So did both sets of our parents.

Today would have been my parents’ 73rd wedding anniversary.  They married in their early 20’s right on the brink of World War II.  They had their times of hardship and times of plenty.  They experienced times of sickness and health.  They knew what it meant to work together to keep a marriage strong for better and for worse. 

And in the 57th year of their marriage, they faced the unto death do us part challenge when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  And through it all, they provided a worthy example of what it means to love and to cherish, to honor and consider someone else more important than yourself.

My parents endured.  They didn’t throw their relationship out when it wasn’t perfect. They honored their commitment and each other.  And they taught me well.  Next week, my husband and I will celebrate our wedding anniversary.  Year 37.  We have a ways to go before we reach the milestones our parents reached or our grandparents, some of whom were married for over 60 years before death claimed one of them.

But we will stay the course.  We will endure until death do us part.  We will continue to have and to hold for better or for worse. I can only hope and pray that our children embrace the same course of endurance in their marriages.   Because love, real love, is enduring.

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen.” ~ Unknown

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

One year into the adventure

The milestones…they just keep adding up.  We reached another one this past weekend.

One year ago on a blustery November day, our first became the last.  Our oldest daughter wed the love of her life and best friend; it was the last of our three adult children’s weddings all taking place in the same year.

20121102-0208-2 (2)

And we welcomed another new family member to the fold with overflowing love.  Even though it was chilly outside, the glow of happiness over our entire family made us warm.

20121102-0945

One year later, this happy couple celebrated their first anniversary on an adventure in Costa Rica.

20121102-1032Happy First Anniversary, beloved oldest daughter and son-in-law.  May each year ahead of you not only be filled with love but bring new adventures for the two of you to behold.

“We love because it’s the only true adventure.”  ~ William Gladstone

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Dancing in the mine fields

blogourweddingThirty-six years ago today the young man pictured in this photo was just that – young.  All he had behind him was 22 years.  All he had with him was a college degree.  And all he had before him was a stint in the US Army as an officer.  Yet he reached out in faith.

And when he did so, he took the hand of the young woman in this same photo.  All she had behind her was 23 years.  All she had with her was a college degree and a teaching job she was ready to leave behind.  And all she had before her was an unwritten chapter.

The two became one as they said their vows to love and cherish one another until death.  They proclaimed their devotion for God and each other in a country church before a gathering of family and friends on an autumn day.

They packed up their few belongings in a U-haul trailer and set off for the future and a way of life neither of them had known before.  And they went dancing in the mine fields.

The mine fields were many.  Army life.  Separation from their families.  Even separation from each other while he served his country on the other side of the world.  Career changes and cross-country moves.  Cancer.

Life experiences rocked their world from high points of joy when they welcomed three children into their lives to low points of disappointments and sorrow enduring the loss of both sets of parents and jobs. 

Yet through it all, this man and this woman held onto two things:  their faith in God and each other.  And while the mine fields never stop, their love for one another abides and keeps them dancing together step by step.

Happy 36th Anniversary to my loving and devoted husband.  I wouldn’t have ever wanted to dance in the mine fields with anyone else.  That’s what the promise is for.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

One year already

Yesterday was a milestone.  A year ago, our youngest, our only son, stood at a church altar and took a beautiful bride to be his wife.

The second such celebration in our family last year…

A day to remember…

And another member added to our family in love.

weddingscan2

weddingscan

Happy First Anniversary to son and daughter-in-law! 

May God bless you on your anniversary trip and in the years to come.

“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

 ©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Because someday…

pexels-photo-233223.jpegI woke up feeling cranky that day.  I’m not sure why so I’ll chalk it up to a restless night’s sleep or strange dreams or something.

Later that morning when I began cleaning our master bathroom shower, the glass shower door came off the track. 

I fidgeted with it, fussing and fuming until finally I gave up because I still couldn’t get it seated properly.  And that caused me to be even grouchier.

Thinking a cup of hot tea would surely soothe the savage beast that seemed to rage inside me, I made my way to the kitchen.  Stepping into the dining room, I noticed the new curtains that I had just ironed the day before were wrinkly.  “Are you kidding me?”  I thought.  Grrr!

About that time, hubby came home from taking some of that ‘too much stuff’ from our basement hoard, which also makes me irritated, to the recycling center.  Not long after he stepped into the kitchen, I was growling about yet another issue.

“Wow, why are you so cranky?” he asked. “Get up on the wrong side of the bed?”

You know, when you’ve been married for 30 plus years, you should realize and remember what floats your spouse’s boat and also what just pushes his or her buttons.

And hubby was punching my buttons!  Or so it seemed to me.  The more he pushed, the more I griped and growled.

This unhappy sequence continued for most of the day.  And although he fixed the shower door and even finished cleaning the shower for me, and helped me hang the curtains, I still wanted to bite his head off.

Outside – with snow flurries in the middle of April for heaven’s sake!  – proved just as miserable and cold as it was inside. When hubby suggested we grab a burger for dinner, I balked.  I really didn’t want to go out on this very un-spring-like day and I’m certain I even complained about that.

But off we went anyway to a local fast food place.  On our way there, we argued in one of those ‘you misunderstood what  I meant’ kind of disagreements, and this time, hubby was the one who exhibited crabbiness.

Guess it became contagious. 

We ordered our burgers and sat in silence while we ate.  And that’s when I noticed them.

The two of them sat alone in a booth behind my husband.  I figured they were in their 80’s.  She sat directly beside him and talked softly to him as he slowly chewed his food.  She helped him lift his drink cup and maneuvered the straw in the direction of his mouth so he could sip his strawberry lemonade.

He was bothered by crumbs on his pants but couldn’t quite knock them off, so she did it for him.  She even wiped his runny nose.

And right there in the middle of that Wendy’s restaurant, I wanted to cry. 

I watched this married couple and the picture I witnessed was one of abiding love.  The gentleman obviously suffered from frail health; I’m guessing that he had endured a slight stroke.  He must have lost weight during his illness as well because he wore his wedding band, which matched his wife’s, on the middle finger of his left hand not his ring finger.

He answered slowly and quietly when his wife asked him something. And each time she came to his aid, he looked at her with gratitude.  In conjunction, she treated him with patience and kindness.

I don’t think anyone else in the restaurant noticed them except me.  As I sat there trying to swallow bites of hamburger around the huge lump in my throat and struggling not to let tears erupt, I knew I saw this couple for a reason.  On this very day.

Someday, ‘they’ might be ‘us.’  That’s what I thought.  And the image of a day that might come in the future moved me to conviction to be so very grateful for now.  This moment, this day.

All day I had been cantankerous with my husband.  My husband – the one I love – who is healthy and strong and good-hearted and willingly endures the likes of me.  And I knew deep in my heart and soul that he didn’t deserve the treatment I had just given him.

I’m certain that God revealed the scene that unfolded in front of my eyes to put a check in my spirit, to remind me to be grateful for my marriage partner, even if he does push my buttons.  And God reminded me that I need to season my words with grace and love and patience and kindness.

Because someday, we may be the old married couple sitting in a restaurant without our family along, tending to the other because one of us isn’t capable.   

When we arrived home, I tearfully asked my husband if he had seen them.   Yes, he had noticed them and he had one observation to make, “That’s what marriage is all about.”

On that best day of the year which started out so poorly, I was reminded why it’s important for me to remember love –  true honest to goodness love that lasts a lifetime for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part. 

And I thank God for the lesson I learned. Thank you for this day.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

  

Word of the day: Love

blogDSCN8698It’s Valentine’s Day.  The day we celebrate love.

Love, love, love.  It’s everywhere today.  Hearts and flowers.  Big red heart-shaped candy boxes. 

Yes, there will be gifts galore.   Jewelry, chocolates, red roses, stuffed animals, heart-laden cards, and fancy dinners.

 Who doesn’t love love and all it brings?  Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day?

I’ll tell you who.  Those who feel unloved, that’s who.  Those who are lonely on this day and every day.  Those who have lost their loved ones.  Those who are burdened.

Valentine’s Day always brings romantic love to mind, but really it should be a day that we demonstrate love.  Period.  Love to everyone.  Kind of like that old 60’s song, “Put A Little Love in Your Heart.”

“Think of your fellow man; lend him a helping hand,

Put a little love in your heart.

You see it’s getting late;  oh, please don’t hesitate

Put a little love in your heart.

And the world will be a better place; and the world will be a better place

For you and me.  You just wait and see.”

I recall how my daughters disliked Valentine’s Day before they met their beloved ones.  Their friends with boyfriends reveled in valentine wishes, balloons, and gifts and my girls couldn’t wait for the day to end.  They certainly weren’t unloved because we loved them dearly, but romantic love seemed to rule the day, and it still does.

My beloved, my husband of 35 years, and I ceased bestowing valentines on each other years ago.  Neither one of us requires a gift to prove love for each other.  To us, the gift of spending time together means much more.

So there won’t be hearts and flowers or even chocolate candy dispensed at our house…well, there might be some chocolates pulled out of the kitchen pantry to share.  But love means much more than candy.

I read a newspaper article (yes, I’m a dinosaur who still reads my news in print form) this week about reaching out, especially on this day, to the unloved, the lonely, and those who’ve lost their beloved ones.  It made me think.  What if we did put a little love in our hearts by serving others?  You know, take that love and spread it around to our fellow humans….put a little love in someone else’s heart?

There’s an old saying that love isn’t love until you give it away.

So what if instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money on Valentine’s Day cards and gifts, we shared our love by donating money to a worthy cause in our loved one’s name? What if we called that friend who’s feeling lost, lonely, or unloved today and told her/him how much we care?

We can hand over gifts or donate to charity, but if we do so without love, it means nothing. We really have to have love in our hearts!

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says,  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Verses 4-8 tells us, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   Love never fails.”

When I teach young people about relationships, I tell them that love is an action word.  And the best way to test whether you practice love for another is to insert your name in place of the word ‘love’ in that passage of scripture.

So if I truly have love in my heart, I should be able to say, “Cindy [my name, but you can insert yours] is patient, Cindy [your name] is kind.  Cindy does not envy, Cindy does not boast, Cindy is not proud.  Cindy does not dishonor others, Cindy is not self-seeking, Cindy is not easily angered, Cindy keeps no record of wrongs.  Cindy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Cindy always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

And when I do all of that, put love in my heart and spur it into action,  I can truly say “Love never fails.”

It’s Valentine’s Day.  The day of love.  I’m writing it on my heart that today is the best day of the year because I love and am loved, but even more than that, I can put a little love in the heart of someone else.

May you love and be loved this day and be encouraged to put love into action.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 

Love times three

Love.

That’s the Word Press photo challenge theme this week.

Ordinarily, our thoughts latch onto romance when we think of love.

But the pictures I choose to depict love this week are love of a different kind.

My photos show my three adult children spreading God’s love

to three little children in three third-world countries

during three separate short-term mission trips.

Love times three.

blogpix1

blogpix2

blogpix3

Love times three.

blogDSCN0012

©2013 mamasemptynestwordpress.com