Throwback Thursday: be the light

This summer, I will celebrate an anniversary of sorts.  Ten years of writing in my little cyberspace world, Mama’s Empty Nest.  In recent weeks, I’ve shared some throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog and do so again today.

Back in August 2011 when I wrote the following post, my husband and I had come through a dark tunnel of uncertainty into the light of security. As I re-read this past post, it occurred to me that our world – especially here in the United States – is going through the same thing. Dark times, uncertainty, events blasted across the air waves and internet that shake us to the core.

We need some light. We need to BE the light in this dark world. That’s my hope for us.

If happiness were measured by how much the sun was shining, in my world today it would be blindingly bright.

The last several months have been a bit of a trial for us here at Mama’s Empty Nest, not unbearable just a time of uncertainty.  We’ve considered much, reflected more, and have diligently sought God’s guidance as we faced a period of insecurity.   Through it all, hubby and I have tried to seek God’s will, petitioned Him in prayer and waited….and waited.

We’ve praised and thanked God the Father for the provisions made for us and how He continued to supply our needs during our trial.   We’ve held tightly to our faith; scripture from 1 Peter 5:7 has been especially comforting to me:   “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.”

And just like that first beaming ray of sunshine thrust downward from the sky piercing its way through the dark and ominous clouds of a rainstorm, our long-awaited answers to prayer arrived this week, not just one answer but two!

American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Just as there comes a warm sunbeam into every cottage window, so comes a love-beam of God’s care for every separate need.”

Today, on this 10th page of my book of Opportunity in Chapter 7, there’s not just a warm sunbeam shining in our country home cottage window.  Instead I feel like my entire home is ablaze with sunshine – a beacon of light – as God, maker of heaven and earth, has poured blessings upon our heads.

For most of this year, my husband has been unemployed.   There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, encouragements and disappointments as he sought another position.   In a period of time that can be devastating and demoralizing, I can honestly say – in our 33 years of marriage –  I have never seen my husband stronger.

Instead of embracing defeat, he embraced our Savior Jesus Christ more than ever through reading the Word and devout prayer, through servanthood to others, and his willingness to help those in more dire need than ourselves.

I believe God has blessed my husband for his steadfastness and faith, for his total reliance on Him, and for his thorough self-examination identifying attitudes and thoughts he needed to change.  Just this week, my husband was offered a job.  Not just any job, but a job that he is excited about,  an emotion he hasn’t experienced when it comes to work for a very long time.

On the heels of that sunbeam of joy that radiated down over us, our oldest daughter flew in for a job interview in our nearby city.   She truly loves her current job and employer in the Deep South, but after four years of living in that area, her heart tells her she doesn’t want to stay there any longer.  She recently expressed her desire to live closer to our family, a prayer desire Mama and Papa have lifted to the Father for quite some time.

After a promising phone interview, a prospective employer asked her to fly in for a face-to-face.  Again joy permeated through me like the warmth of a sunbeam when our daughter was offered a new job right here in our city!  Celebration reigned at our house this weekend!

This morning at o’dark thirty, Papa and I drove our beloved eldest to the airport for her early morning flight back south, where she won’t reside much longer.  This time, the farewells at the terminal weren’t melancholy, they were jubilant as we look forward to the future.

The sun started rising as we headed home afterward.  As dawn began to break, the old Sunday School song, I’ll Be a Sunbeam, came to my mind.

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That song echoed through my mind while I tried to stay awake as we entered a tunnel on our way from the airport into the city. 

As you exit this particular passageway, you are treated to a full view of our beautiful city.  The sight of it never ceases to inspire awe in me.

This morning, upon exiting the tunnel, another awe-inspiring sight revealed itself – the gorgeous morning sun, rising up like a gargantuan round orb of luminous orange-red.  Its light blinded me as it perched perfectly between two sentinel skyscrapers, slowly ascending into the morning sky, and I chastised myself again for not grabbing my camera before I left the house.  It truly was a breath-taking, beautiful sight and I gasped, then said to hubby, “Wow!  Look at that!”

A scripture in Judges 5:31 came to my mind:  “So may all your enemies perish, Lord!   But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.”

As I squinted into the sun’s radiance, I thought, “How could we ever appreciate the sun if we never had night?”

Likewise, how could we ever appreciate the blessings if we never endured trials?  How could we appreciate life’s happiness if we never experienced life’s storms?

Jane Porter, a Scottish novelist in the 1800’s, once wrote:  “Happiness is a sunbeam which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray.  When it strikes a kindred heart, like the converged light upon a mirror, it reflects itself with the redoubled brightness.  It is not perfected until it is shared.”

Happiness, like sunbeams, are not perfected unless they are shared, and I think that’s true about faith as well.  That’s why I must share my faith in Jesus Christ with you in hopes that you too might want to be a sunbeam for Him. ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

In times like these – now in 2020 – when so much seems dark and foreboding; when we shake our heads in disbelief, anger, frustration, and all other kinds of negative emotions; that’s when we, those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ, must shine.

The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker— travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.” ~ Proverbs 4:18-19

It’s time for us to be sunbeams. To exhibit love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let’s not just embrace the light that comes from our faith in a Savior, let’s BE the light.

And even if you don’t profess to be a person of faith, you still can be a light by embracing those qualities and displaying them to all.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~ Desmond Tutu

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Vacation messages

blogIMG_3644Life isn’t always as rosy as we paint it to be on our social media canvas. I try to put on my happy face and do my best to be encouraging, but sometimes, I feel absolutely overburdened with the trials and troubles this world has in abundance.  Inhumanity.  Greed.  Economic woes.  Political unrest.  Warfare.  Natural disasters. It’s depressing to read the news or watch it on television.

Just the other evening,  Papa and I tuned into one of our local stations to catch the latest since we had been away for several days.  One distressing story after another.  Murders, fires, robberies, drownings…it went on and on until suddenly my husband (keeper of the remote) hit the off button.  He said he’d had enough, and I nodded in agreement.

But I must remind myself that in every dark cloud that hovers over us, (and there sure do seem to be a lot lately) God still sends His rays of light to reach us.  We just have to be on the lookout.  Be sensitive to His voice.  Be open to see and hear and experience Him.  I wish I could say I always do that, but I am remiss way too often.

Early last week, Papa and I prepared to go on a much-needed vacation.  He had a few days left and the old use it or lose it rule is in effect where he works.   So we discussed where we might be able to travel by car for a short trip.   After some thought, discussion, and internet searches for a place to stay, we landed on an opportunity.

I’ve always wanted to see the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.  If I had a bucket list, it would be on it. We found a cottage nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville that one could rent for less than a week, and amazingly it was available over the 4th of July.  We promptly booked it and started packing.

Lately, I’d been feeling listless.  My job search proved fruitless and since school is out for summer, there’s no substitute teaching.  Oh, plenty of projects and chores called out to me here at home, but frankly, I just didn’t have the heart to even start them.   I even felt distant from God, slacked off on prayer and Bible reading time, and found no inspiration for blog writing to boot.  And to top it off, I’ve felt so weary of all of the attacks on people of faith that are constantly being highlighted in the news, not to mention the prevalence of downright rudeness and crass ways people  seem to have adopted. 

Yes, I decided, I needed a vacation away from the hum-drum of everyday life as much as my hard-working husband.  The day before we left, I stopped in a department store on my way home from getting a haircut.  As the store clerk was ringing up my purchase, I noticed a piece of paper taped to the side of her cash register, facing the customer side.   A small metal object in the shape of an angel dangled from the paper, which was a little poem about God’s angels.  I read it and frankly, I don’t even remember what was written.

I was surprised that the poetry was allowed in this public place because someone or other always complains about such things and forces their removal.  But that’s not what amazed me the most.  Underneath that printed poem were these handwritten words:  “God loves you!”  The word you was underlined twice to emphasize it, and I felt as if it were a message just for me that day – one of those little rays of light that God shines down that I must be willing to notice.

And He continued radiating His light all through our vacation.  State by state (we drove through six states in one day), God made Himself known to me.  Along the highway in one state, I glimpsed numerous sets of three crosses on the hillsides.  The middle and largest cross was always painted gold and each time I noticed the cross, it reassured me of His willingness to pay the price for my salvation.

Viewing the countryside of mountains, creeks, and woods on our scenic drive reminded me that only a majestic and powerful God could speak such spectacular creation into being.  Once we arrived at our destination, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of the cottage we had rented.  It felt like a haven, a lovely spot of rest, and I knew only the God who loves me and wants what’s best for me provided this little sanctuary for a few days.

As we spent the following day touring the Biltmore Estate (which is absolutely amazing, by the way), we encountered kind and gracious folks, not discourteous or ill-mannered.  Not hearing one bit of foul language proved refreshing and pleasant.  It was as if the Lord was showing me that there are considerate, kindhearted people around us.  Again, that little spot of sunshine in a dark world.

We prepared our own meals but did dine on good North Carolina bar-b-que one evening.  And on our drive back home, we stopped at a chain restaurant in another state for dinner.  Even the waitress was well-mannered asking us politely, “May I take these plates?”   Papa picked up the bill and handed it to me, pointing to what was written on the bottom:  “Bring in your church bulletin on Sunday and get 15% off your bill.”

Another sign for me that there are people out there who still believe in God, who attend church to worship Him, and aren’t afraid to let others know.  People just like the bluegrass quartet of fellows playing guitars, banjo, and bass fiddle and singing their hearts out while beautifully harmonizing in a courtyard in downtown Mt. Airy, NC (Andy Griffith’s hometown and the real Mayberry from his TV show).

It surely was no coincidence that just as Papa and I sat down to listen to them, they began singing “Have a Little Talk with Jesus.”

I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in
And then a little light from heaven filled my soul
He bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above
And just a little talk with Jesus made me whole
(Now let us) have a little talk with Jesus (let us) tell him all about our troubles
(He will) hear our faintest cry (and we will) answer by and by
(Now when you) feel a little pray’r wheel turning
(Then you’ll) know a little fire is burning
(You will) find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
I may have doubts and fears my eyes be filled with tears
But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night
I go to him in prayer he knows my every care
And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.

Those good ol’ boys didn’t know how they blessed my heart that day and reassured me not only that God is there listening to our cries but that He answers by and by.

Sometimes He answers with obvious rays of sunshine like He showed me one evening on one of our scenic drives through the mountains (my photo above).  Other times he sends us less conspicuous glimmers of ‘Sonshine.’  We just have to be willing to receive His message.  It just took a vacation trip to remind me.

“Whenever I see sunbeams coming through clouds, it always looks to me like God shining himself down onto us. The thing about sunbeams is they’re always there even though we can’t always see them. Same with God.”  ~ Terri Guillemets

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com