Throwback Thursday: Just smile

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve decided to share throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog every now and then. Sort of a walk down memory lane.

I wrote the following post just a couple of years ago in 2018. But in the midst of our current sheltering in place for such a long time, (and our state governor just proclaimed we must do so until May 8), I find I need to remember the aspects of life that make me smile. Maybe you do too.

I’m hoping this Throwback Thursday post of mine gives you a moment to contemplate the good things in life, those things that make us smile with pleasure, and then I hope you find good reasons to just smile. (I know, I know, perhaps your smile may be covered by a mask, but smiling will make you feel better about our circumstances.) 

What makes you smile?

What is it that makes you demonstrate a certain facial expression that tells the world you’re either pleased, have affection for something, or are just plain amused by the object of your attention? What causes the corners of your mouth to turn up in a recognizable curve?

Back in the day, crooner Dean Martin sang these lyrics: “When you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you.”

Is that true? Is a smile contagious? Does a smile on my face cause a smile to emerge on yours?

I once read a Chinese proverb that proclaimed, “Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.”

That surely makes it sound like something as simple as a smile can make a huge difference in this world.

If you guessed that this past week’s Word Press photo challenge theme is smile, you can go ahead and let your face light up with a grin because you are absolutely correct.

I find it’s hard not to reciprocate when someone greets you with a big ol’ smile on his/her face. That tells me that there is something about this facial expression that is hard to keep to yourself.

Several years ago in this blog, I wrote about a little boy who gave me a smile, a rare thing for him according to his peers. If you care to read that post, which may cause your mouth to curve upward in that familiar expression, you can click here.

Mother Teresa once said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

So what are the things that make me smile? That make my face break into a happy dance?  That demonstrate the things I love?

Sunsets and sunrises. My two adorable little grandchildren. (I have three now!) When my family is all together in one place at one time.

A vibrant fall foliage-dressed tree. Blue skies and sunshine.  Blooming flowers bursting into colors of the rainbow.

And yes, while we’re at it, rainbows after a storm.  Birds enjoying a feast at our bird feeder. Baby animals.

Spending time with good friends. Hearing an old special song on the radio. Worshiping my Lord in and out of church.

I could plaster this post with pictures of all of those smile-giving items I just mentioned, so it proved to be a challenge just to choose one photo.

But I finally decided on this one. My oldest sister and brother-in-law. Two people I love dearly and don’t get to see enough because they live far away from me. (But I did get to spend a week with them in March 2020 before covid-19 resulted in quarantines.)

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I snapped this photo of them sharing a smile one summer a couple of years ago when they were visiting us. I can’t remember at all what made them turn to each other with big grins on their faces.  Life hasn’t always been easy for them in their well over 50 years of marriage, and they’ve had to endure some health issues, but they still can smile.

And that makes me smile.

“Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.” ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo  ©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: Just Different

blogEasterpixEaster has come and gone. And for certain, this Easter holiday was entirely different than any other experienced in my lifetime.

Very different. But just different. Not dreadful. Not terrible. Not unpleasant. Just different from usual, that’s all.

I noticed a lot of folks (even those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ) bemoaning the fact that they just couldn’t celebrate Easter the way they normally do.

In a church building. Couldn’t practice communion on Maundy Thursday at their place of worship. Couldn’t participate in an annual Cross Walk or join in a Stations of the Cross on Good Friday.   

Couldn’t attend Easter Sunrise Service at their favorite place to do so. Couldn’t be in church for an Easter Sunday message in their new Easter clothes.

Couldn’t take their children to Easter egg hunts or –heaven forbid – couldn’t go to the mall to visit the Easter Bunny. Couldn’t gather with all their family and friends for a huge Easter dinner.

And they were right. They couldn’t. Due to Covid-19 lockdowns, physical distancing, sheltering in place, self-isolating, quarantines, whatever you want to call it, this Easter WAS different.

But so many aspects of celebrating Easter became more real to me during this time than ever before. I found myself thankful. No, not just thankful….flat out, fall down on your knees grateful for so many reasons.

It’s true that we couldn’t practice communion on Maundy Thursday in our church. But our pastor held an online live service that we all could participate in.  Papa, Little One, and I gathered our “bread” (some crackers) and “wine” (apple juice) and we joined in communion with our fellow believers from our own home.

Secluded. Isolated. Much like I imagine Jesus and His disciplines were in that upper room so long ago as they celebrated the Passover feast. And this symbolic breaking of bread, representing Christ’s body, and drinking wine, representing His blood poured out on the cross, was so very meaningful to me this time.

It’s true there weren’t any public events to attend – no stations of the cross, no cross walk – but the three of us cuddled up together and watched Sight and Sound Theatre (Lancaster, PA) broadcast their production of “Jesus” online and on cable television for all those who wanted to view it.

The presentation was two hours long, yet our Little One was glued to the screen seeing the “Jesus story” come to life. We answered her questions and explained some of the scenes to her. And we all experienced a new appreciation for that timeless accounting of our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection.

It’s true we couldn’t attend Easter Sunrise Service or Easter Sunday Worship in our church building with fellow church members and guests. But again, we assembled around the computer live time, greeting one another with typed messages, and listened to our pastor give us the Word of God in his message that morning for both services.

And how thankful we are for technology that enabled us to do so. The church where we congregate is just a building. The church is us – followers and believers in Christ – and we were together worshiping our Lord, just in a different way.

It’s true that children couldn’t attend Easter egg hunts. But we held our own for Little One right here in our 2.5 acre yard. And she giggled and ran and had so much fun tracking down those brightly colored plastic eggs and then hiding them for Nana and Papa to find.

It’s true that Little One couldn’t visit the Easter Bunny. But he still managed to leave a basket of goodies here at Nana and Papa’s house for her. And even though that made her happy and excited, the knowledge that she’s learned about a Savior named Jesus Christ who died on the cross because “He loves us” (her words) and came back to life again so “when we die, we can go to heaven to be with Him” (again her words) is the most important thing she understood from this different Easter.

It’s true our family couldn’t gather together at our home for a huge Easter feast and we did miss them. But we stay in touch in other ways now. And that is a blessing for which I am thankful.

It’s true Easter dinner was different. Just three of us around the kitchen table eating a simple meal of scalloped potatoes with ham pieces, Bush’s baked beans, and some canned pineapple slices. For dessert, we ate strawberry Jello made by Little One and Nana.

And we were thankful for the food that comprised our simple meal (and I enjoyed not slaving away in the kitchen!) and for grocery store deliveries right to our front porch.

This simple Easter was one of the most memorable ones I’ve ever experienced and I hope in years to come, I don’t remember the difficult circumstances of this sacred holiday. 

I want to remember the quiet, meaningful time that Easter became this year.

I want to remember how real Easter was for me.

I want to remember how focusing on Christ gave me such hope in the midst of a trying time in our world.  

“The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.” ~ Basil Hume

It’s true Easter was different this year. Just different. But I chose to focus on what was the same – celebrating our risen Savior and Lord no matter the circumstances. The simple experience made all the difference to my grateful heart.

“To a Christian, Easter Sunday means everything, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” ~ Bernhard Langer, professional golfer, devout Christian

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Words for Wednesday: sorry, not sorry

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Social distancing in more ways than one

Believe it or not, I haven’t had much spare time to write posts for this blog.

Yes, we are sheltering in place at home, social and physical distancing, flattening the curve, etc., doing our part to help contain the virus that has most of the world in its grip.

And you would think by being at home and having nothing on the calendar except cancelled appointments, I would have ample opportunities to sit down at my desktop computer and compose. String words together to make sentences galore. Fill up the screen with my thoughts in written word.

Huh. Not happening. Why?

Because a five-year-old now lives with us for the duration of this crisis. And five-year-olds don’t allow for much peace, quiet, and alone time. Five year-olds go non-stop from the time they awaken in the morning (“Papa, Nana, it’s morning time, get up!”) to when they finally fall asleep at night (while you read countless stories over and over again).

On warmer, nicer days (and we haven’t had many so far this spring), we play outside and go for walks. But our indoor activities are chock full of made-up games of pretend, daily challenges (and she makes up the challenges!), doing workbook pages of letters, numbers, dot-to-dot, and kindergarten lessons (even though she won’t attend kindergarten until fall), coloring, painting, play-dough creating, Lego building, and games, games, games.

Our granddaughter LOVES games. And since we have played games she has here (Trouble, Sorry, Guess Who, Daniel Tiger Bingo, and Frozen Match Game) so many times, we resorted to our cache of games from our kids’ childhoods that were stored away in the basement. So Little One now has learned how to play Uno, Jenga, a card game called Waterworks, and even Battleship. And she’s caught on quickly.

She’s truly proved it might be genetic because we are a family that plays games every time we are all together. And you know what? Even though I’m tired (and so is Papa) from our 24/7 child care duty during this time, I am grateful.

I’m thankful that we are enjoying time with our granddaughter when so many grandparents can’t visit with theirs in person. I’m grateful that we can see and converse with all of our family, including our other two younger grandchildren, on a group FaceTime like we did just the other evening.

We had the best time talking, laughing, and just generally being silly with our entire immediate family all on our cell phones. And it warmed this Nana and Papa’s hearts to hear our three-year-old grandchild yell into the cell phone, “I want to see Nana and Papa!!”

Is it easy staying home? Not too difficult for us retired folks, but it does have challenges. Is it hard to be physically separated from our loved ones and friends? Yes, it is.  But we have phones and other ways to communicate. And I’m grateful for that.

Last month, I had planned to once again lead a ladies Bible study in my home. Well, obviously, that didn’t happen. So this week, I’m especially thankful for our computer guru son-in-law who gave instructions for this non-technical person on how to video conference online with my group and get our sessions started in the next few days.

I do feel sorry that we all have to endure this difficult time. I’m sorry that hardships have come our way. But I’m also not sorry because as we stay home, we must find reasons to feel gratitude. To express thankfulness. And we will.

I will leave you with words recently written by American retired teacher and chaplain Kitty O’Meara, that’s been making the rounds on the web. You may have already seen it, but I urge you to read it once more because you can find reasons that make this all worthwhile.

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com