A Thanksgiving photo essay

As we prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving Day, the day we set aside to express our gratefulness for all the blessings in our lives (and even the not-so-great things), may you be encouraged with my photo essay.  I set my photos to the ‘tune’ of an old hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

For the beauty of the earth,blogDSCN7166

for the glory of the skies,  blogIMG_3644

for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise. blogIMG_5075

For the beauty of each hour 
of the day and of the night, 
blogDSCN7830hill and vale, and tree and flower, 
blogIMG_1049(2)sun and moon, and stars of light; 
blogIMG_6298Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

For the joy of ear and eye, 
for the heart and mind’s delight, 
for the mystic harmony, 
linking sense to sound and sight; 
blogIMG_2143Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

For the joy of human love, 
brother, sister, parent, child, 
blogIMG_5667 (2)friends on earth and friends above, 
for all gentle thoughts and mild; 
blogIMG_6441 (2)Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

For thy church, that evermore 
lifteth holy hands above, 
offering up on every shore 
her pure sacrifice of love; 
blogIMG_1885Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

For thyself, best Gift Divine, 
to the world so freely given, 
for that great, great love of thine, 
peace on earth, and joy in heaven: 
blogIMG_2220 (3)Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise. 

~ “For the Beauty of the Earth,” words written by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Thanks Giving: for musical reminders

blogthanksIt’s the last day of November and my 30 days of thanks giving have come to a close.  During this time, I’ve realized how very much of life I take for granted and my hope is that I will appreciate even the small aspects more as a result of contemplating gratitude for an entire month.

Christmas is coming and even though Thanksgiving is now past, thanks giving is not really over.  Not by a long shot.  I won’t blog every day about my gratefulness, but I’m certain I will continue to write about aspects I’m thankful for.  I do know I plan to take a few moments each day and express my thanks to my God since He is the Giver of my life and the One I turn to when circumstances aren’t exactly what I’d hoped.  He’s taught me so much through the passage of scripture that I call my guiding verses (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and I am so thankful.

As my attention turns to the upcoming Christmas season and preparation for our family celebration, I find myself thankful today for musical reminders.  I love Christmas music, I love the old Christmas movies, I love the decorations.  So it seems fitting on this last day of November before I transition from Thanksgiving to celebrating the birth of my Savior that I share a song from one of my favorite movies – Holiday Inn.  Bing Crosby sang it well when he sang “I’ve Got Plenty to Be Thankful For.”  

Click on the link below to listen to that song and join me in being thankful for the plenty in our lives.

“Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has plenty, not on your misfortune, of which all men have some.” ~ Charles Dickens

I’ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for showering

blogIMG_4625Thanksgiving Day 2014 may have been relegated to our memory banks, but my 30 days of thanks giving continues until tomorrow – the last day in November.

I’m pretty worn out from all the celebration at our house but every minute was oh, so worth it.  We consumed a feast at our Thanksgiving table and all of us seated there made mention of the blessings for which we are grateful.

As soon as we cleaned up and cleared away the remnants of our gathering, oldest daughter and I switched into high gear and prepared for the baby shower we hosted for my expecting middle daughter.  In honor of the new baby girl that will join our family in February, we ‘painted’ the house pink!

Family and a few of daughter’s friends and mine all congregated at our house last evening for a “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” shower complete with hot chocolate bar and a wintry theme.  (More pictures later.) The weather even cooperated by providing snow-covered scenery around our house but thankfully, the roads were clear for travel.

Daughter and the new little life she carries were immensely showered by the outpouring of love and gifts.  And today, how can I be anything but grateful?

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for this life

bloggraphicNovBlack Friday.  I’m going to come right out there and say I don’t do Black Friday.  Actually, this day when there is a frenzy to be the ultimate consumer and spend, spend, spend on supposed bargains bothers the heck out of me.

I do not shop on this day — I stay as far away as I can from the maddening crowd.  I think it brings out the worst in us humans – greed, rudeness, gluttony, overindulgence, call it whatever, and the fact that stores opened on Thanksgiving to accommodate this craziness and fill their own coffers with more money makes it even more offensive to me.

So, no, I am not thankful for Black Friday itself, but that verse that fuels my life,  that one that says be thankful in all circumstances prompts me to express gratitude on this day.  Yes today, Black Friday, a day that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Why?  Because the consumerism of Black Friday reminds me that I already have what I need in this life and so do the ones I might Christmas shop for.  It’s called life.  And we here in America have it abundantly. 

Please take a moment to be grateful for your life, no matter how difficult your circumstances may be, and watch the video below.  I think it puts it all into perspective.

“No matter how good or bad you think your life is.  Wake up each day and be thankful for life.  Someone somewhere else is fighting to survive.” ~ Unknown

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for this day and you

It’s Thanksgiving Day — that day I’ve looked forward to this entire month of November.  A day set aside to reflect upon the many blessings we’ve been given and yes, even the difficult circumstances we endure and express how thankful we are for them.

For our family, our faith is what guides and sustains us and we will pause around the Thanksgiving table today with some but not all of our family to give thanks to the One who gives us life.

May you be blessed this day as you offer up your own thanks giving.  Please watch the following video and consider it my Thanksgiving greeting to you, my readers, for whom I am most grateful.

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”  ~Edward Sandford Martin

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: for family


My 30 days of thanks giving are winding down and the countdown to Christmas will begin soon.  If you’re a steady reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you know that family means the world to me as I do write about my loved ones often.  

I consider myself ultimately blessed to have a close-knit, loving family – don’t get me wrong, we’re certainly not perfect and we have our squabbles but we love each other enough to work things out and forgive one another.  I realize many folks can’t say the same.  For those who struggle with family situations, my hope for you is that you find caring, supportive folks who will love you within the family of God.

Not all of our immediate family is able to venture home for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Many miles separate us but love binds us together and I pray it always stays that way as our family grows and increases.

I’m grateful for the loved ones who will be around our dining room table tomorrow, including one of son-in-law’s buddies who can’t be with his own family clear across the country.  And I’m so thankful all of my family will congregate to celebrate Christmas together before oldest daughter and son-in-law leave on their grand adventure to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  (They are top left in the photo above taken two years ago; middle daughter & son-in-law who are expecting our first grandchild are top right; son and daughter-in-law are bottom left, and of course, the two who started it all – Mama and Papa – are bottom right.)

And for now, I’m thankful for a house full of people I love and the opportunity, God willing, to all be together again for Christmas. 

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”  ~ Desmond Tutu

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Thanks Giving: for divided highways

blog103It was in the wee hours of the morning and still dark outside.  We’d been traveling non-stop for over 18 hours except to refuel with gas because we were young and impatient and could manage to stay up all night driving.

Papa was a young soldier man and we were stationed at a military base in Oklahoma.  I don’t remember when exactly it was, but definitely before we had our children so probably around 1979 or ’80.  Traveling by car, we had spent vacation time visiting with our families in Pennsylvania and were heading back to Oklahoma on the long, 20-some hour drive.

Really it was foolish, driving straight through the way we often did but we wanted to spend every moment we could with our families.  His family lived a good four-hour drive away from my folks, so we tried to divide our time equally with everyone.  

We were tired and weary of being in the car, but still we pushed on because hubby’s leave ended the next day.  No time to check into a motel for the night.  So on we continued.

Hubby was driving on that divided highway somewhere in between Tulsa and Oklahoma City around 3 a.m.  Car rides make me sleepy even when I’m not exhausted so I had already fallen asleep, my head tilted against a pillow smashed against the passenger side car window.

I groggily awakened to a strange sound – a steady, almost rhythmic whooosh, whooosh kind of sound. And when I opened my eyes, we were driving down the grassy medial strip on the highway instead of on the smooth pavement at a high rate of speed.  Hubby had also dozed off and the swishy noise of the tall prairie grass rustling underneath our car had awakened and warned me that something wasn’t right.

My cry of alarm jolted him awake and he quickly righted the steering wheel easing us back onto the roadway.  I was wide awake now and fearful that it would happen again.  We counted the miles to the next exit or rest area and when we finally spotted one, we wisely pulled over and changed drivers.

I’ve often thought about what could have happened that time so long ago.  The highway wasn’t heavy with traffic, yet there were lots of tractor trailer trucks traveling in both directions.  What if we had completely crossed the highway and hit one head-on?  What if that medial strip hadn’t been prairie grass but had been cement jersey barriers instead?  What if I hadn’t awakened in time? 

I believe that God protected us on that early morning drive and it was He who caused me to hear the grass and awaken just in time.  So today, more than 30 years later, I’m thankful for His guiding hand and I’m also thankful for divided highways.

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thanks Giving: sharing blessings

A new home in Honduras

A new home in Honduras

On this Sunday in my 30 days of thanks giving, I’m grateful still for that verse in Scripture, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”  because it has impacted my life in so many ways.  And I’m also thankful that those words spur me on to do what I can to help others whose circumstances are way worse than my own.

Very soon my daughter and son-in-law will climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.  They have decided to use their 42-mile week-long trek as an opportunity to raise money for a faith-based organization called The Honduras Project which works to help those in need in that country.  

Why Honduras?  Because it holds a special place in their hearts; they take yearly mission trips there and they actually met while working with The Honduras Project six years ago.  They hope to raise $1500, approximately the cost to construct one house for poverty-stricken families in various communities in Honduras, and 100% of the funds will go directly to the project.  

Please watch the video below and think about the aspects of life we have to be thankful for and how we can help others who aren’t so blessed. And then if you feel led to do so, consider giving to the Honduras Project by clicking here.  Or share some of your blessings with someone in need right in your own community.

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” ~W.T. Purkiser 

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com