Throwback Thursday: flashback thoughts

Once again, I’m sharing an old post of mine from June 2011 for this Throwback Thursday. As I’ve said before, Mama’s Empty Nest is celebrating a 10-year blogaversary this month and I decided to repost some of my favorite offerings from those years.

Ten years of writing this blog hasn’t brought me fame and fortune, but it has blessed me tremendously with wonderful readers and new friends. It’s enabled me to share my life’s messages and I can only hope it’s been inspiring and encouraging to others.

But for now, go back in time with me and read the following post.

Flashback to the 60’s.   She is alone, upstairs in her bedroom with the door closed tightly.  Pictures of her idols, “The Monkees,” smile on her from the walls of her room.

Dressed in her most mod outfit, mini-skirt, fringed vest, and go-go boots, she dances the Pony and the Jerk to spinning vinyl 45’s on her record player, belts out songs to a pretend audience of thousands but in reality just a few old  stuffed animals and forgotten baby dolls.   And she yearns for the day when she would become famous.

Her daydreams revolve around that thought.  Fame.  It would be exciting to be a famous pop star/singer, but what she truly envisions for herself is becoming a sought-after actress, known and revered by millions.  When that happens, she muses, everyone will be in awe.

Those who snubbed her now, those who didn’t want to be her friend, and those who didn’t realize she existed would clamor for her attention and she would ignore them.  And if that star-studded scenario didn’t occur, she would settle for being a famous author.

Such were the desires of an adolescent girl. To be famous meant you were somebody, not just the average 13-year-old girl who lived a hum-drum boring existence in an average middle-class home in rural America.  When she was a famous singer/actress/writer, she thought she might occasionally return to her hometown, just to show people how important she was.

That young, teenage girl was me.  Back in the day, I had no clue what real life entailed; I thought being famous was the end all to everything.  As I grew up,  I realized that wasn’t true.

I imagine most famous people have an inborn desire to become noticed, rich, or powerful.  Famous actress Katharine Hepburn once said, “When I started out, I didn’t have any desire to be an actress or to learn how to act. I just wanted to be famous.”  So evidently, she experienced that passionate desire and brought it to fruition.

Famous is something I am not.  My closest stab at being a star actress was the lead role in my high school play during my senior year.  The nearest I’ve come to being a singing sensation was performing a few solos in various church choirs and singing ensembles.  The only hints at public awareness I’ve managed in the writing world were my byline on articles I crafted in reporter days for a daily newspaper and my little blips on this blog.

Now I laugh out loud at the visions I embraced back then of performing before audiences of thousands.  Obviously, I did not embody the passion to fulfill those girlhood dreams of notoriety.  

As a young teen, I thought my passion was to become famous.  I wanted to be noticed and applauded by an audience.   That’s what I believed would provide a happy and fulfilled life.

How wrong I was in my youthful zealous daydreams.  Real life led me into an entirely different direction:   marriage, children, family life, enjoyable work, making the world a better place for one person at a time, and most importantly, loving and serving God.

To some, those aspects of life don’t sound very passionate, but they have been my passion all along.  Pastor and author Dr. David Jeremiah’s wise words reinforced what I’ve come to understand: “The strength of passion is to do whatever we do heartily, and the secret of passion is that we do everything as if we were doing it for the Lord himself rather than for man.”

Jeremiah continued: “Sometimes we think nobody sees the effort we make to work at our jobs, take care of our families, or serve the Lord.  Not true!  God sees it all.  We play on a field with an audience of One sitting in the stands.  And He is the only one who really matters.  He sees and knows everything we do – the motive and passion with which we live our lives.”

So even back in my foolish days, when I longed for a captive audience, I already had one.  The One.    The only One who matters.  And so do you.

Imagine as you go through your day, there He is sitting in the auditorium watching your performance, sitting in the bleachers watching you play, sitting at your conference table watching you work, sitting on your sofa listening to you talk.

He knows what you’re going through, He sees what you accomplish even when no one else notices and you are weary, and He finds pleasure in all you do for His glory.

On this 14th page in Chapter 6 of my Opportunity book, I find it inspiring to think that I might please my audience of One and that He doesn’t  care whether I’m famous or not.  I know He doesn’t want me to lose heart while I serve Him in the big things and the small.  I hope you feel the same.

“Your life is your message to the world.  Make it inspiring.” ~  Lorrin L. Lee

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do I have anything to add to these thoughts now in the year 2020? All I can say is “ditto.” I’ll continue to write my messages here in my own little corner of cyberspace for as long as the Lord wills and gives me words to say.

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: celebrate

It’s time once more for a Throwback Thursday post here at Mama’s Empty Nest. Ten years ago this month, I launched this little corner of cyberspace on WordPress entitled Mama’s Empty Nest.

The month of July marks my ‘blogaversary’ of writing here but actually it’s been 15 years since I entered the blogging world. Previously, I had occasionally written on another blog site from 2005-2007 but then stopped because…well, life got in the way. My nest wasn’t completely empty back then and it was crazy busy.  

Join me as I look back at celebrating Mama’s Empty Nest with this post written in July 2011.

One of my favorite things is chocolate and another is writing this blog.

Obviously, I can’t share my to-die-for chocolate candy (pictured) with you.   But I can share my thoughts with my friends and readers in written form here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

July is my “blogaversary” month.    I use the term month because I’m not sure which July date actually commemorates my blog’s anniversary.

Six years ago on July 9, 2005 (now 15 years ago!!) on a whim and a dare from oldest daughter, I started writing a blog via a different site.  Recuperating from cancer surgery and not physically able to accomplish my usual summer to-do list, I needed something to occupy my time and mind.

Oldest daughter convinced me to create a blog on the same site she then used and I started putting my thoughts into written words again.  My writing topics ranged from silly thoughts to serious ones, everyday life to the change in thinking that a cancer (albeit a curable kind) diagnosis brings.  Once I recovered and returned back to “real life,” I only posted occasionally, when I encountered a little free time, until fall 2007.

And then… nada…zilch…nothing.  My blogging life ended.  Life got in my way.  Hubby and I still had kids in the nest, two sets of college tuition to pay, a calendar full of events to attend, jobs, a home to maintain, and all of those priorities dominated my waking hours.

With our youngest child’s college graduation last year (in 2010) and all of our children’s subsequent moves away from home, my world and waking hours changed.  I tried social networking for a while; fun at first reconnecting with old friends, but after the novelty wore off, I found myself sitting at the computer playing endless rounds of Reversi and Bubble Town.

Way to let the brain atrophy!  In between popping bubbles and knocking off Reversi opponents, I began reading a far-away friend’s new blog on WordPress.   One day, I realized how much I missed writing myself.   Why not take my love for stringing words together in written form down from the shelf, dust off my skills, and rekindle my blog?  So I moved my old posts from the previous site over to WordPress, started cranking out new posts on July 19, 2010, and my new blog, Mama’s Empty Nest,  was  hatched.

What happened next I compare to coming out of a coma.  Suddenly, my mind leaped into over-drive and so did my senses.  It felt like I had awakened from a very long winter’s nap.  Once I commenced writing, words just kept gushing out of me, words that were obviously bottled up inside for decades.  Ideas would spring into my mind when I gazed at a picture or often when a sight unfolded in front of my eyes, while driving, and even while sleeping.

My senses seemed heightened – eyes wide open, observing things I couldn’t wait to write about, ears hearing sounds I previously must have taken for granted.  Every day occurrences in my world suddenly needed crafted and sculpted into paragraphs of written language, and I was constantly grabbing the nearest scrap of paper to jot down my thoughts before they melted away.

An old composition notebook became my new best friend in which I scribbled ideas, thoughts, and topics when they surged into my brain.  And then something truly amazing happened.  I realized I wasn’t just writing for myself and my closest family anymore.  Somewhere out there in cyber-land, people – friends and strangers – started reading my blog and commenting!

A whole new world opened up for me [cue the theme song from Disney’s Aladdin] as I gained new readers, blogging buddies, and very good friends.  I recently reviewed my posts from five years ago and marveled at the change I see in my writing and even in myself. (Ditto that now in 2020.)

Where I once blogged as a way to fill up empty time, now I blog because it brings me joy.  Where I previously wrote whatever came to mind, now my posts have meaning and depth…and I believe, purpose. 

Today, on this 26th page of Chapter 7 in my Opportunity book of life – not exactly my blogiversary date – I  am astonished at how far I’ve come, but I’m more grateful for those who’ve traveled with me on this journey:

  • for my family who always encourages me to write (special thanks to hubby who often patiently listens to my posts while I read them aloud to catch any errors);
  • for the friends who personally know me and read my work, spurring me on with kind words of support (you are great cheerleaders!);
  • for my new friends, my faithful readers, and fellow bloggers (your comments and your blogs inspire me and I appreciate them so very much);
  • for my Lord Jesus Christ who graciously gave me a gift which I must use for His glory and for allowing me to “see” through His eyes as I write.

So Happy Blogaversary to all of us! If I could, I’d share my chocolates with every one of you for the entire month of July! ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” ~ Virginia Woolf

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: Enough

Next month,  I’ll be celebrating 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.

The year 2020 has been a wild one so far. Everywhere we turn, there seems to be cause for alarm. Turning on the news evokes all kinds of emotions – almost all of them not positive ones. If you’re like me, you’ve had enough. How do we maneuver through these difficult times? I hope you find a bit of encouragement in this Throwback Thursday post of mine from October 2013.

Have you ever just thrown up your hands in surrender and cried, “Ok, enough is ENOUGH!” When is enough enough?

For most people, enough is enough when you’ve reached a point when you can no longer tolerate a situation.  Maybe you reached a boiling point when your anger just takes over and your up-to-now contained emotions blow up in force like Old Faithful gushing up and spilling over for all to see.

For some, the pressure actually may be physical.  You just can’t do any more because your body tuckers out.  Still others may experience such exasperation with another human being that they just must cut themselves off from that person for the sake of peace.

No matter what situation makes you throw in the towel or wave the white flag of surrender in capitulation, I think you reach the saturation point.  A saturation point is defined in chemistry as “the point at which a substance, under given conditions, can receive no more of another substance in solution.”

In other words, you’re soaked.  You’re filled up and overflowing.  Saturation can be negative or positive, depending on your attitude.

If you’re inclined to realize enough is enough and you want to give up the fight, you will walk away and turn your attention to something more productive.  

But if you’re a dig in your heels and fight to the finish kind of person,  you’re more likely to follow this advice attributed to Mary H. Waldrip:  “It’s important that people should know what you stand for. It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.” 

This week’s photo challenge has been “saturation.”  After a very wet, rainy summer season complete with flash flooding in places where I’ve never witnessed flooding before, I understand the definition of saturation just from looking out my window.

When our yard was water-logged to the brim from all the rain, I shot some photos of the result which demonstrated how something can be so inundated it can’t take any more.

Aren’t we, at times, just like a drenched yard?  Inundated and overwhelmed. At the point where we just… Can.  Not.  Take.  Any.  More.

For me, that’s where my faith takes over.  When every fiber of my being screams enough, my soul says fill me up.   Fill me up with Your joy, Lord.  Pour Your peace over me.  Soak me through with Your hope.  Saturate me with Your promises, O Lord.

Romans 15: 13 tells me:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When I’m saturated with God’s Holy Word, I am overflowing.  But instead of a flood that destroys everything in its path, this overflowing of living water nourishes and gives glory where glory is due.

“But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, God is great!” ~ Psalm 70:4

When I’m saturated, I can see that the earth is filled with His glory even when I think I’ve had enough of this world.

So when those times come, when I want to yell out loud, “I’ve had enough!”, I need to turn to this scripture:  “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” ~ Phillipians 1: 9-11

For me, that will be enough. ©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

“Forget it enough to get over it and remember it enough so it doesn’t happen again.” ~ Unknown

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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.

blogDSCN7185

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

Throwback Thursday: the fine art of watering

blogDSCN7726Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve been sharing throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog on Thursdays for the last few weeks and here is yet another one of those from June 2011. 

Whatever the subject, whether it be politics or issues surrounding the covid-19 pandemic, angry, irate words are flying around not just on social media but in person.

Anger doesn’t solve much in my book, except make your stress and your blood pressure rise. It certainly doesn’t give life to your body or spirit and angry arguing doesn’t change someone’s opinion just because you think it should. My hope is that this old post of mine causes us all to stop and think of the impact of our words before we spout off in rage or exasperation or just because we don’t agree. 

I’ve been known to have a sharp tongue. Don’t sit there at your computer with your mouth hanging agape while you read this. I’m not always the epitome of sweetness and light, just ask my family.

Oh, as a stranger or acquaintance, you might glimpse a flash of my temper if you really, really make me angry.  I can deliver a strong tongue lashing, but in most cases, I try to curb my words and my fury.

It’s the right thing to do and most days I strive so hard to do the right thing, even though often I fail. Quite some time ago, I had one heck of a day, you know the kind where everything seems cattywampus, nothing works the way it should, people irritate you, and circumstances beyond your control frustrate you.  And it was cold and rainy to boot. That kind of day.

Feeling totally exasperated, I pulled into a gas station to fill my car. But after a couple unsuccessful tries, the pump just would not work. I looked at the attendant, warm and dry inside the station, but he just stared out the window at me, exhibiting no signs of coming to my aid. Finally, I gestured to him (the call button didn’t seem to work either!) and he slowly meandered up to me with this insightful news:

“This pump isn’t working,” he said nonchalantly.  “You’ll have to pull around to another pump.”

Grrr.  Anger fueled by my frustrating day welled up quickly as I noticed the line of cars waiting for the other pumps. I glared at Mr. Helpful. He just shrugged his shoulders and that was the breaking point.

“Well, if you KNEW this pump wasn’t working, don’t you THINK it might have been a good idea to PUT A SIGN ON IT SAYING SO?!!!”  I yelled. I whipped my irate words, each one getting louder and accelerating up a notch in angry tone, at him.  Again he shrugged and started walking away.

“Thanks for nothing!”  I mumbled as I climbed back into my car and he ambled into the station. I pulled my car around to the long line at the opposite island and waited…and waited…and fumed…and  fumed. If my gas gauge hadn’t been so close to E, I would have driven away.

And while I waited, I sensed the Lord telling me I was being utterly ridiculous. What purpose did my anger serve? Was it righteous anger? No. Would my wrath right a wrong? Absolutely not. All it really did was raise my blood pressure and provide fodder for the gas attendant’s tales of how nasty and irate customers can be.

But I was still hopping mad.

Finally, I nosed my car beside another gas pump, zipped my credit card angrily through the slot and started filling my car. As I felt fuel coursing through the hose into my tank, I also could feel anger pumping out of me as well. I felt like God’s presence was siphoning wrath right out of me. 

In its place came strong conviction as I realized my venomous words had just given every person who calls themselves a believer in Christ Jesus a bad rap. What kind of picture of a Christian did I paint? Not a very pretty one.

Cold and damp, I started to climb back into my car, but stopped, closed my car door and walked into the gas station where – you guessed it – there was a long line of customers waiting to pay their bills. I forced myself to stay patient and when my turn at the cashier arrived, I told her I needed to speak to the young man behind her.

She glanced at him as if to say, “Now what did you do?” He winced, walked up to the counter and looked at me like a beaten puppy.  I suppose he expected yet another tongue lashing.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I want to apologize for yelling at you out there.  I realize it’s not your fault the pump isn’t working and the station is so busy.  So..,” I paused, “I’m sorry.”

His eyes widened in disbelief. His shocked co-worker looked warily at me then at him.  “Okay,” he said.  And that was that.

No illuminating beam streamed down from heaven.  No harp music swelled loudly on the store’s speaker system. No one exclaimed, “Wow, you’re a great person!” 

Nothing miraculous occurred except within my heart because I knew – I knew – I had done the right thing.  I did what Jesus called me to do, to apologize when I spewed forth unrighteous anger on someone.

Please don’t think I’m writing this to get any kind of accolades because I don’t deserve them.  I’ve experienced way too many times when I have succumbed to most unrighteous things.

Instead I share my experience because I believe God asks me to relate the change I felt in my heart that day – the joy and peace that flooded over me because I obeyed my Savior and Lord, acknowledged my wrong,  and doled out a little grace to someone else. Grace, not selfish anger, is what He grants to me every day, whether I deserve it or not.

Unfortunately, my impatience and frustration often get the best of me.  I’m ashamed to admit in the past, my wicked tongue lashed out harsh words at those I love most – not strangers at a gas station – my husband and children.

But as I’ve matured both in age and spirit, I’ve allowed God to continue to mold me and change my ways. The still, small voice of the Spirit helps me curb my tongue, use self-control and stop myself before I react in angry words…most of the time.  See, I’m still a work in progress.

Just the other day, I positioned myself on my front porch swing and read in the book of Proverbs again, noticing how many verses pertaining to wisely using words and controlling the tongue are underlined in my Bible.  At some point in my past, I had drawn a star next to this verse:

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~ Proverbs 12:18.

Obviously, God kept trying to teach me a lesson I’ve needed to learn for many years.

While reading, I observed the ruby red petunias nesting in our porch boxes needed water. As I grabbed the watering can to pour fresh water on those flowers, an idea sprouted in my mind –  I am just like that watering can!  What pours from me when I am shaken a little or tipped?

When I pour forth words of blessing and encouragement on others,  it’s just like cooling, refreshing water flowing out onto my flowers, which will be nourished and grow abundantly.  But if words of contention or anger flow out of my ‘watering can’ over my loved ones and even those I find difficult to love, it’s like dousing flowers with poison.   They will shrivel up and die.

My words have the power to be poisonous or encouraging and I have the capability to choose which they will be.  Nourishing others and cultivating kindness is the right thing to do, even when I’m feeling impatient or frustrated.

In my sixth chapter of my yearly book of Opportunity, on this 28th page, and every day, I know that’s what God calls me to do and I’m going to try my best.  

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Do I get angry? Of course I do. But if I see something on social media that I don’t agree with, I don’t fire off an angry retort. Instead, I just scroll on by. Virtual shouting matches don’t solve a thing I think. My hope is that we all pause, reflect, and just agree to disagree without vitriol. Offer a bit of kindness and grace instead.

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
~ Ambrose Bierce

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: fawn inspired faith

Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog.  I’ve been sharing throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog on Thursdays for the last few weeks and here is yet another one of those. 

We’re in a waiting pattern. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for the virus outbreak to subside. Waiting for our states to reopen and businesses to thrive once more. Waiting to be released from this prison of sorts we’ve been subjected to by volunteering to be “sheltering in place, staying home, flattening the curve.”

Some of us are still shivering in fear over what’s transpired, uncertain of the future, wary of all the conflicting information at our fingertips. But we don’t have to be afraid while we wait as I wrote back in May 2011.  May my words from then encourage and give you hope now. 

I spotted another harbinger of spring recently, reminding me this is the season of rebirth, but also of something more profound.

White-tail deer inundate the area near our country home. We’ve had our fair share of run-ins with these cute creatures turned dangerous when they slam into cars driving down our highways.

Road kill’s a natural occurrence here and it’s almost unusual not to see dead deer lying on the side of the road. The damage they inflict on our vehicles is unbelievable. So when I spot deer nearby while I’m driving,  I’ve learned to slow down considerably.  Sometimes I lay on the horn repeatedly to frighten the critters away so they don’t ram into my car.

The other day, while driving home from work, I decided to travel a two-lane bi-way instead of the four-lane highway.  As I was rounding a bend notorious for deer crossing, a doe scurried across the road in front of my car.

I immediately braked and quickly glanced in the direction she had come expecting to see another doe or maybe even a buck following her because once I saw the largest buck I’ve ever seen in my entire life at this exact spot.  Instead, I spied a tiny, trembling, spotted fawn standing at the top of an embankment, reminding me that deer give birth to their babies in the spring.

That adorable little baby deer appeared so startled by what was transpiring that he just buckled his stick-like legs under his polka-dotted  body and lay down on the bank by the side of the road.

Why don’t I carry my camera with me at all times?  He would have made an adorable picture.  Seeing that fragile fawn warmed my heart but also made me fear for his safety.  I hope he stayed on the bank until his mommy came back for him and didn’t wander out onto the road.

All of this reminded me that sometimes, especially when we’re fearful about what lies ahead of us, we just hunker down like that little fawn.  We wait to see what will happen or we become paralyzed with fear, hoping to be rescued much like I imagine that spotted baby deer expected from his mother.

And that’s not always a bad thing.  Sometimes, we just need to wait…..and wait…..and wait until God shows us what He wants us to do.

I must admit that often I feel like that scared fawn on the side of the road.  I feel fragile and wobbly when I can’t figure out what’s going on in my life and what I’m supposed to do.  But that’s when my rescuer lets me sense His presence.

Recently, I’ve allowed myself to feel exactly like a frightened fawn trembling beside a busy highway of life.  One morning at a very early hour,  I awakened abruptly  because I heard someone loudly calling my name.  I was certain my husband had already arisen and for some reason had called out to me.

My eyes opened in a flash, my heart pounded,  and I expected to see hubby standing near me.  He wasn’t.  I looked around our bedroom and then realized he was still sound asleep next to me.

Who called my name?  I pondered.   I waited and listened.  Nothing.  Puzzled, I drifted back to sleep.  The strange experience stayed in the forefront of my mind that day, and I related it to my co-workers.

My boss smiled and shared that she once had the same experience after a particularly stressful day.  She added that she liked to think it was God calling her name, just to let her know that He saw her and knew what she needed.

I love that idea.  It actually gives me great comfort because I do believe the God of the universe, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present,  knows my name.   He’s always known my name.

He knows my troubles and He knows my afflictions just like He knows my joys and my elation.  He knows what I need, when I need Him the most, and when I need Him to guide me.

He has always carried me through trials and tough times, even when my doctor stated the dreaded ‘C word’ – cancer – six (now 15) years ago.  I’ve never felt abandoned or forgotten because I know my God sees me and hears my prayers even when He doesn’t answer them the way that I would like.

And sometimes, He just wants me to wait and know that He is God and He is in control and that He knows my name. 

I don’t have to fear that God will forsake me because He never will.  I can count on Him to take care of me on this 11th page of Chapter 5 in my book called Opportunity and every day…and so can you.  ©2011mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I still believe those words today in 2020. I can count on God to take care of me and so can you.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ~ Corrie Ten Boom

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: when your world looks dim

blogIMG_1573Almost 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.

Today’s Throwback Thursday post comes from a particular dreary August day in 2010. Back then I was in the throes of the empty nest syndrome and overcast, cloudy, rainy days seemed to deepen my melancholy.

Today almost 10 years later, it seems the entire world is enveloped with dismal darkness as we wait to be released from lock-downs due to covid-19. And to make it even more difficult, my home area has been socked in with gray skies, little sunshine, and cold weather for much of this sheltering in place time. 

Re-reading this post of mine improved my attitude and my spirit. I hope it does the same for you,

I feel as though I’m looking at my surroundings today with dim eyes or through a fine mesh screen which casts a dismal view over what I see.

And there’s nothing wrong with my vision.  This view from my deck reflects what I mean.

In addition to being Monday, it’s been a slightly rainy, majorly overcast day today.  I could sing, “rainy days and Mondays always get me down” here, but really that’s not my point.  Being a Monday is not what makes me see dimly and I’m not feeling predominantly downcast either.

Today the world just looks bleak to me, even though we are still in summer’s season. Flowers still bloom; grass and leaves on the trees are still lushly green.

The color is still visible, but somehow muted.  It’s so overcast today that it appears like a dull gray pall covers everything.

The sun is nowhere to be seen, and in spite of the fact that I’m not much of a summer person, I am a sun person.  I love sunny days; I love to see the sun reflect off of water or anything that catches those golden rays.

The sun elicits vibrant colors of flowers in our garden, pots, and porch boxes;  the verdant green of our yard and leaves of the trees, and the blissful blue of the sky with those cotton candy clouds.  But not today.

As I write these words, God brings a scripture to my mind and this particular version speaks to me today:  “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12  (The Message)

It does seem like I am seeing through a glass darkly today.  This scripture vividly reminds me what any day without Jesus Christ must be like, for He is the Son (sun), the Light of the world.  Without Him in my life, things would look bleak, dark, even confused.

I grabbed my Bible to read and examine this verse the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and to us today.  I think he’s telling us, “Just wait!”  What we can’t see now, or don’t understand now, and what appears difficult to define now will be revealed in full glory for us when we, who He knows so intimately, meet our Savior face to face in heaven.

There we’ll see the “big picture,” revealed in a more vibrant, brilliantly technicolor scene than we could ever imagine here on earth.  And let’s face it, we’ve got some pretty impressive colors and scenes here on earth to behold!

When our sun, THE son Jesus Christ, shines – whether it’s now within our heart, or when we enter glory, or He returns to earth in all His glory – it will be dazzling!

The luminous light of heaven will remove all the obscuring clouds and darkness that now hides the face of God from us.  What a day that will be!

Isaiah 32:3 ~ “The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen.” (King James Version)

The sun may not be shining in the sky today, but it’s shining in my heart. ©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

During this time in 2020, it’s not easy for any of us.  Listening to the news, reading and watching conflicting opinions on the internet, and succumbing to fear or anger makes our world darker than it was before. Our thoughts and our attitude impact us in so many ways. So let’s try to stay encouraged and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

“Your thoughts and your perception of the world influences all that you do, and all that you are, and all that you can be. If you see the sunshine, feel the sunshine then you feel good. But if your focus is only on the clouds and the dark sky then you may find yourself a bit gloomy.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: Just smile

photo of woman holding a green paper

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.)

blogIMG_1356.jpg

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

Throwback Thursday: What is Truth?

woman in beige coat holding smartphone

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog. Since then some aspects of life have changed and some have not. 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.

The following post on this Thursday throwback was written nine years ago in January 2011. Back then, my family faced some uncertain times.  My hope today is that these words offer encouragement to my readers as we continue to endure what Covid-19 has caused for all of us. 

Chapter 1, Page 3 (January 3rd) in my brand new book of Opportunity commenced in my very favorite way – sunshine! That’s what greeted me when I opened my bedroom blinds this morning.

Those streams of light were God’s way of speaking to me:  “I know things look a little dismal right now for you, but be patient. I am working. And until you see the results of my work, enjoy a measure of my other handiwork – sunshine.  I know it lifts your spirit!”

Driving into work this morning, (my first day back after a week off over Christmas) the sunshine was actually blindingly bright and I had to pull down my car visor to shield my eyes.

But sunshine makes me happy.  And it doesn’t even have to be on my shoulder! (Like John Denver wrote in his song.)  Just feasting my eyes on a bright sunshiny day makes my heart light and my face smile.

Encouragement comes in all forms. It can be as simple as awakening to sunshine. It can be a song heard on your car stereo. It can be a friend sharing a scripture passage with you. It can be a hug. (Virtual ones now in 2020)

It can be kind words written in an email. It can be a private message of prayer sent to you on Facebook. It can be a thoughtful comment left on your blog. It can be feeling and witnessing God’s peace via the power of prayer.

And on this day, the third installment in my book of opportunity, I was blessed to experience all of those. Those gifts of reassurance boosted my spirit and inspired me with courage and faith to bravely meet the challenges of life.  And through it all, they reminded me to always listen to the Voice of Truth.

May I share a portion of the encouragement I received this day with you? A song called Voice of Truth (click on the title to listen) sung by Christian musical group Casting Crowns began playing on my car stereo this morning as I left for work. I don’t find that a coincidence.  My prayer is that it speaks to you as it did to me.  ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

I think it’s hard to ascertain what is truth right now on this day in April 2020. So many different opinions and opposing viewpoints are being expressed. What should we believe?

Some great leaders once spoke about truth and their words resonate with me today:

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” ~ Winston Churchill

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”                     ~ Abraham Lincoln

“Truth will ultimately prevail where pains is taken to bring it to light.” ~ George Washington in a letter to Charles M. Thruston in 1794

Recently while praying, it occurred to me once again that I need to listen to only one voice – my God, the Voice of Truth. His Word is never in error. His Word is never false. I pray you listen to the Voice of Truth as well.

Be safe, be well, be blessed.   

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Throwback Thursday: while we wait

blogDSCN6837Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog. Since then some aspects of life have changed and some have not. 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.

Today’s post is a Thursday throwback to that year – 2010 – just a month after I initiated this blog.  My hope today is that these words offer encouragement to my readers as we wait for this difficult and trying time to end.  

Have you ever felt like you are just hung out to dry? Like you have no more stamina than a wet shirt hanging limply on a clothesline?

You’ve been tossed and twisted by life like dirty laundry agitating in a washing machine.  Thrown abruptly into a clothes basket with all the other soggy ones. 

Hauled out cold, wrinkled and rumpled, hung up by your shirt tails, and now you just hang there — waiting.

Laundry hanging on a clothesline must be unsightly to some people. I’ve read about some being fined for hanging wet, clean laundry outside because it is illegal in their neighborhoods. Sounds ludicrous to those of us who live in the country and have the freedom to air our clean laundry outside.

Freshly washed clothes suspended on a clothesline, slowly weaving and waving back and forth in the summer breeze like a playful child enjoying a swing, is a happy sight to me.  Crisp white sheets flapping their wings like angels as they float and flit through flurries of air remind me of pleasant memories.

In my childhood days, when my mother would ask me to help hang laundry on the clothesline, I could hardly wait for the washer to finish its last spin cycle.  I admired how Mom lined up the clothes in certain order.

One’s clothesline had to look proper back then, and Mom taught me the correct way to position clothes on the line – small items gradually moving to larger, whites all together, darks on the back line. To this day, I hear my mother’s instructions when I meander out to my back yard clothesline.

Today was a perfect day for hanging out laundry. The temperature was warm, the breeze was airy, and the sun was shining brightly. White clothes especially yearn to be hung outside to dry. There’s nothing like the sun to make your whites whiter than white.  No detergent or bleach, improved or not, can compete with brilliant sunshine.

As always, hanging out laundry elicits not just sweet memories of my mother, but a sweet fragrance as well. I enjoy taking laundry down from the clothesline as much as I enjoy hanging them up with clothespins.

Clothes dried outside in the sun and fresh air have the cleanest aroma ever. That scent invigorates me and that’s probably why I’m an easy mark for any air freshener, candle, or diffuser that boasts clean linen or fresh linen as its name.

Today, I got to inhale a whiff of the real thing. And I loved it. I wonder why more people don’t hang laundry outside to dry. You would think in this age of “clean and green” people would take advantage of this way to save energy. I imagine it comes down to not having time, or more likely, not wanting to wait.

We humans don’t relish waiting for anything. We are spoiled by instant gratification in everything we do. Computers, modern day appliances, ready to heat and eat meals, drive-through restaurants, banks, even pharmacies, ATMs and online services,  everything we need delivered ASAP.  Why wait?

So let’s face it – hanging clothes outside on a clothesline forces you to wait. Sometimes it takes all day for the clothes to dry and if you just popped them into your dryer, they would be ready to wear in no time.

For most of us, waiting is just plain difficult. I’ve encountered my fair share of waiting.  There’s nothing as nerve-wracking as waiting for medical test results when you fear the worst. I experienced that situation five (now almost 15) years ago waiting for biopsy results. While I found the waiting extremely difficult, even painful, I also found peace while I waited.

Cancer surgery was performed and I waited again to recover;  radiation treatments followed and I waited some more. More tests, another biopsy required more waiting.   Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, even the treatable kind, you feel like you live in waiting mode for the next doctor’s appointment, the next test, the next cancer-free milestone.

Years before,  my mother whom I loved so deeply faced her own daunting trial –incurable cancer. After exhausting treatments and much prayer, there was nothing left to do but wait for the inevitable – her journey home to Jesus. That wait was excruciating.

As a believer in Jesus Christ,  I turned to the book of Psalms for comfort during both times. God speaks to us about waiting in so many passages of His guidebook for life. 

King David wrote “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I put my hope” in Psalm 130:5.  Likewise in Psalm 27:14, he said, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” 

Psalm 40 is yet another prayer for help when you are faced with trials and waiting is overwhelming.  Often we just need to wait on God’s timing or instructions. While we are waiting, He can teach us abundantly. While we are waiting, we can still serve Him and worship Him.

In the quietness of waiting, I personally have felt the most connected to my Savior. Even though results weren’t what I desired, He gave me strength to face my trials. I realized my need to rely on Him, depend on Him, trust in Him, relinquish it all to Him, and live for Him. 

And I learned that while I waited.

My husband’s favorite passage of scripture is from Isaiah 40:31 ~ “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.  They shall run and not grow weary.  They shall walk and not faint.”

I think waiting on God’s timing does strengthen us, even when we’re vulnerable and weak. Sometimes while we wait, He is silent but He’s always there.  You can sense His sweet, clean fragrance wafting over you. And the good news is He’s coming again!  We just need to…….wait.

“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” ~ Hebrews 9:28

I believe God never leaves us hanging out to dry.  Do you? 

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

We are waiting. But it is for good reason. And while we wait, let’s hang on to hope. Stay safe, dear readers, and have patience to wait and think of others. Check on your loved ones, neighbors, and friends. And pray.

“When our waiting is intentional, when it signifies surrender to a better plan, a better timeline, a higher calling, then we are waiting with purpose.” ~ Mark & Jill Herringshaw, from “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Wait.” 

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com