February is a special month because, here at Mama’s Empty Nest, we celebrate two of our family members’ birthdays.
So Happy Birthday Month to my son, my last born, and to my first born grandchild. You both are my February valentines. And I’m so thankful for you both!
“Have you ever considered that your birthday is truly a day of celebration? A day to recognize the special gift we all received on the day you were born; the gift of you. You are appreciated, you are loved. As another year begins for you may you be filled with the thoughts of how special you are to all of us! Thank you for sharing your life with us.” ~ Robert Rivers
The long month of January is finally coming to a close. And as the snow still flies outside my window and temperatures plummet to single digits and below, winter still clutches us in its grasp.
We still have the winter month of February to come and often we get record amounts of snow during those 28 or 29 (if it’s Leap Year) days. And we’ve even been graced with the white stuff throughout March in the past, so…who knows when winter will depart? Not even the groundhog knows for sure.
No doubt spring probably won’t arrive for quite some time yet.
But in the words of our Little One (our oldest grandchild who will soon turn four), “When is it going to be Spring? I miss the grass!”
She likes snow and enjoys playing in it, even begging Papa to let her help shovel the sidewalk, but like the rest of us, she still yearns for sunshine and warmth and color.
“No winter lasts forever. No spring skips its turn.” ~ unknown
It’s the day after Christmas, but I’m not ready to let go yet. So these pictures show you just a few sights I captured with my camera this season.
It’s the day after Christmas, but I’m not ready to let go yet. And who says we must? We should keep thoughts of Christmas in our hearts all year long.
Thoughts of kindness.
Thoughts of sharing.
Thoughts of goodwill towards men.
Thoughts of love.
Thoughts of hope.
Thoughts of peace.
And thoughts of the King of kings – Jesus. Because even though we just celebrated His birthday, He gave us the ultimate gift when He died on the cross for us. His gift of salvation lasts forever and ever and ever. Hallelujah!
“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.” ~ W.T. Ellis
Often we don’t just look down. Or up for that matter.
When we’re on a mission, we have tasks to accomplish. Or places we need to be or people we must see. And when that’s the case, our focus is straight ahead. Keep your eyes on the prize. We can be so absorbed with what we must take care of that we don’t stop and truly look around at our surroundings.
What do we see under our feet? What do we observe above our heads? It’s a question I’ve learned to ask myself since I initiated taking photos as a hobby in recent years. I like to look at aspects placed into my vision from a different perspective.
Look down. Look up. Look at something from an unusual angle. And when I remember to do so, I’m not often disappointed. Usually, I find a unique photo opportunity. Or in many cases, I discover a source of inspiration for a blog post.
Last month, our family convened for a get-together at our oldest daughter and son-in-law’s home in another state. All of us were able to travel there for an entire weekend and just enjoy each other’s company, take a fall excursion to an apple farm/pumpkin patch, see some sights we hadn’t experienced before, and worship together at a well-known church.
One of our excursions was to a fossil bed beside the river that runs through their neck of the woods. We climbed over rocks searching for the embedded fossils and explored the area. While photographing some of our finds, I came across a lone nut just lying on the rocks.
There were no other nuts there since there were no trees on the rocky river edge. Just this hard-shelled one nut. It almost seemed petrified, but our son-in-law managed to crack it open so we could see what kind of nut meat it contained. The inside was blackened and hard. (above photo) It looked like this nut had fallen off a tree a long time ago.
But I noticed something else. The nut meat was heart-shaped. And that prompted me to contemplation.
When has my heart been just like that? Hard as a rock. Blackened with ill thoughts or feelings. Envy. Anger. Bitterness. Jealousy. Selfishness. Hostility. Argumentativeness. Boastful. Critical. Judgmental. Prideful. The list is long.
Far too many times my heart looks just like that nut meat. Dark and ugly and hard. But my heart can be cleansed, restored to health and goodness. Confessing my shortcomings to my Father God and allowing the redeeming work of His Son, my Savior, to wash my heart clean.
“God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.” ~ Izaak Walton
The thing is I must choose that. I must choose to get up each day and opt for goodness instead of evil. I must protect the state of my heart against the darkness of sin. It’s called free will and I possess it.
On this 27th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I choose a thankful heart. A heart full of gratitude. A heart that follows my Savior. A heart of thanks giving. This is my prayer.
“O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” ~William Shakespeare
Do you ever find yourself joining with the crowd just because?
You know – because you don’t want to call attention to yourself.
Because you don’t want to stand out. Or stand up. Even when you don’t agree, even when you think those around you may have it all wrong, you just follow along with everyone else.
Because it’s so much easier to be one of the crowd. It’s easier to just keep quiet. Not give your opinion when it’s different from those around you.
It’s easier to blend in. It’s easier to not risk confrontation. It’s easier to just be like everyone else.
Those thoughts occurred to me the other day when Papa and I were outside raking the crispy brown leaves that have fallen from the few trees in our yard. As we raked, our Little One (first-born grandchild) was having the time of her life jumping in the pile of leaves and throwing them into the air to watch the gusty breeze carry them across our front yard.
She was having a delightful time. And her doting grandparents were enjoying watching her and making her happy. One of those sweet moments for which to be thankful.
“Each day, each season, each cycle offers something of beauty. Let us notice and give thanks.” – Diane Mariechild
We raked. She jumped. We gathered. She scattered.
Upon tiring herself out, she was ready to go indoors and have a little quiet time, so Papa led her inside. I stayed out because the sun was shining and it was a warmer day than we’ve had for some time.
But soon the wind picked up even more and those leaves began a journey floating and flitting across the expanse of our two acres on the wings of a chilly breeze.
As the pile of leaves diminished with each gust of wind, I noticed something. Something captured my full attention. Something really stood out. Something was different from the rest of its surroundings.
There among the sameness of the dried fall leaves was a bright spot of color. One lemon yellow leaf stood out from the monotony of brown surrounding it. It was as if that little leaf dared to be different from all the rest.
That leaf caused me to pause in thankfulness because on this 19th day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I remember that it’s good to stand out, to not always blend in.
It’s good to be different than the concurring crowd especially when the crowd is heading in the wrong direction. It’s good to go against the multitude to stand up for your own beliefs instead of just accepting what everyone else blindly acquiesces to.
It’s good to follow your heart when your heart is led by the one true God, to adhere to your beliefs, to stand out and stand up if you must, ignoring the rhetoric of the multitude even when it may cause adversity to come your way.
And it’s good be grateful for the opportunity to do so instead of griping because of the way things are.
“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” – Kak Sri