Counting blessings

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Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

On this first Sunday of November, this fourth day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m counting all of my blessings, which are in abundance.  

My hope is that today you too will take a little time to count your blessings. Even amidst troubles and trials, if you look hard enough you will find something to be thankful for.

“Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.”

~ An Irish Blessing

Here’s a little video sung by little blessings themselves – children – for you to enjoy.

Be blessed this day, dear reader.

“Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given.” ~ Marelisa Fábrega

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Lost worm

blogIMG_7554You know that old proverb? The early bird catches the worm.  Well, I wasn’t an early bird but I did ‘catch’ a worm with my trusty camera.

Yesterday about mid-morning, I stepped outside my front door onto the porch just to get a breath of fresh air and see how cold it was.  Dreary, rainy, and overcast, the weather assaulted me and I noticed rain the night before had splashed up onto our covered concrete porch.

Since I never wear shoes inside my house, just my socks clothed my feet as I stood on the cold cement. And I don’t know what caused me to look down but I did.

And there it was.  An eight-inch earthworm.  What we call a fishing worm since they often are used for bait. A nightcrawler.  I noticed smaller versions scattered on our sidewalk but this one was the king daddy of them all.  Watching him inch his way slowly on the porch floor, I also realized that the smaller worms weren’t moving.  They were really worm cadavers.  Eww.

Earthworms used to cause me to shudder because a childhood friend would often pick them up from the ground, chase me, and throw the slimy things on me while I ran and screamed. I’ve overcome that as an adult since these creatures don’t make me bolt in terror anymore but still…don’t throw one on me.

That was my first thought.

My second thought – truly I wonder how my mind works and brings up such crazy memories but here goes – was a silly childhood song we used to sing in elementary school called the ‘hearse song.’  I’m sorry if I turn your stomach on this one, but the lyrics are as follows:

“The next time you see a hearse go by, don’t laugh or you may be the next one to die. They wrap you up in a clean, white sheet and bury you under six feet deep. The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout. Then one little worm who isn’t so shy crawls in your ear and comes out your eye. You turn a terrible, terrible green and pus comes out like whipping cream. You take the cream and spread your bread and that is what you eat when you’re dead.”

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It was elementary school and you know how kids often love gross things – like earthworms.

Then the third thought entered my quirky mind.  That worm mindlessly crawling on my front porch is kind of lost.  A good three or four feet away from any soil, it just ever so slowly moved on a barren field of cement. Would it ever find its way back where it belonged?

Song lyrics entered my mind with my next thought and the words to an old hymn played in my head.

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away…

It’s true you know. We are worms.  We think we’re on solid footing, in familiar surroundings, just doing our own thing, satisfying self, then whoa.  We slam on the brakes and look around and think to ourselves, ‘How in the world did I get here?’ In this slimy pit, in this place of despair, in this mire of sin.

We stray.  We meander.  We take a path that we thought would lead us exactly where we wanted to go but find we are sorely mistaken.

Out of our element. Perhaps even out of control. Down in the dirt, worms that we are.

Not all of us can claim to be like Winston Churchill who is quoted as saying, “We are all worms, but I do believe that I am a glow-worm.”

No, often I am not a glow-worm shedding light and goodness wherever I go.  Instead, I’m just a lowly worm, a struggling human inching my way along on a path I wish I hadn’t chosen.

Times like that make me so very thankful that I don’t have to be in control of this world or even my very own.  I worship and trust in the God who created the universe and knows exactly how to keep everything under control.  Because He reigns over all.  Because He knows each and every tidbit about every single one of us, glowing report or not, and He still loves us with an unfailing love.

And He knows how to lead me back to where He wants me to be on a path more loving, more kind, more gracious.  I just have to listen and follow and come to the cross to have my burdens rolled away.

I don’t have to search willy-nilly to find my way like that earthworm,which had totally disappeared when I stepped outside onto my porch just 15 minutes later.

Worm that I am, God still loves me and never leaves me stranded alone.  He promises that even though our earthly bodies turn to food for the worms once they have met their demise, there is more to come if we make just one trip to the cross of salvation. 

There we lay down our burdens of sin and accept His gift of grace, His Son Jesus, the One who loved us beyond measure, enough to die for us on that old rugged cross. Because of that, the Author of life will provide us a much better edition in heaven.

Then I will glow but will no longer be a worm.

 “The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer, (Like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stript of its lettering and gilding), Lies here, food for worms; But the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the author.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin’s epitaph which he wrote for himself in 1728.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Starting fresh

blogIMG_6948Words of wisdom for 2016, where can you find them? If you google New Year’s quotations, the following passage may appear on your computer screen. 

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ~G.K. Chesterton

When I first came across this Chesterton quote, I squirreled it away in my tattered old quotation notebook for later use.  I expected that it would make a great accompaniment to a New Year’s post in this blog.

Which brings me to my reason for writing this.  That quotation turned out to have even more meaning for me than just a nice quote to add to today’s post because I discovered that a vital portion of that passage written by Chesterton (English writer, 1874-1936) was omitted. 

The rest of Chesterton’s passage reads: “Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards.  Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Chesterton was not only a prolific writer and profound thinker of his time, he was a Christian apologist.  His book, The Everlasting Man, was read by a young atheist and proved instrumental in that young man becoming a Christian.  Who was the atheist?  C.S. Lewis, famous author of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Reading the passage in its entirety gave me pause to consider.  Everyone can identify with the point Chesterton makes about starting afresh.  Isn’t that what we attempt when the New Year rolls around?

We begin that brand new year with good intentions.  Perhaps we even make resolutions to [insert your to-do list here], supposedly to improve our health, well-being, stop bad habits, whatever.  

A new year is a new beginning.  But isn’t each and every day a new beginning?  Why don’t we start afresh every morning, not just on New Year’s Day?

Instead we tend to make promises (resolutions) we don’t or can’t or won’t keep.  We start off great guns adhering to our resolutions and then we slough off.  Most of the time we hang on to our old ways, our old baggage, our old vices…our old stuff.  And each day becomes just like the one before.

What if we did just one thing fresh by starting each day with God’s Word instead of trying to force ourselves to stick to our resolutions? 

What if we commenced that new beginning we’re given each day upon awakening by spending it with a Savior? 

Because that’s exactly what the last part of Chesterton’s passage tells us: “Unless a man be born again (accept the gift of salvation and belief in Jesus Christ – my words here), he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So how do I choose to live each day afresh?  The answer for me is in God’s Word. 

The Apostle Paul wrote these words for the church in Ephesus and for us in Ephesians 5: 15-20: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Being careful how I live, making the most of every opportunity, giving thanks.  That’s what is important to me.

That’s what I want to bring into each new day in this New Year of 2016 instead of making resolutions I no doubt would break. How about you?

May it be so.

“What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.” — Vern McLellan

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

All things bright and beautiful

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All things bright and beautiful.  That’s my New Year’s wish for all of my readers here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  May you be blessed with a lovely 2016! 

“A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I’ve played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.”  ~Edgar Guest

 ©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Mother’s Day love

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Mother’s Day flowers

When it comes to Mother’s Day remembrances, certain recollections float to the surface of the deep pool of my memory.   

My mother’s birthday was also in May so that merry month brought more than one day of celebrating Mom.   I always associated May with flowers because often times we would purchase flats of flowers for Mom’s Mother’s Day gift which she would plant in her flower gardens.  

Mom loved to garden and she loved her flowers.  There were always perennials in bloom in several areas around our yard and she delighted in the annuals she placed in one flower garden, the one with the pretty bird bath in the center.

When I was young, Mother’s Day began with attending church which would be packed with families all lined up in the pews with their proud mamas.  We ladies, young and old, wore flower corsages on Mother’s Day to show honor to our mothers. 

In our community, you wore a white corsage if your mother was no longer living and a pink or red one if you were still blessed to have your mother with you.  I remember the day my mom wore a white carnation corsage to church because her mother had passed away the previous year.  And even though I was small, I proudly wore my pink carnation.

My first Mother’s Day was truly remarkable.  Forty-five minutes before midnight the night before Mother’s Day arrived, my first-born daughter arrived in this world.  Her daddy, a military man, was stationed all the way across the world when she arrived, but even that couldn’t thwart my joy about becoming a mother for the first time just in time for that special occasion.

I became a mother twice again and each time that joy increased.  Mother’s Day became even sweeter than before.  Out of all my accomplishments in life, becoming a mother has been the most fulfilling which came as a complete surprise to me because as a young college girl I had proudly proclaimed I wasn’t going to have children.  Oh, the follies of youth.

My own mother passed away from cancer over 17 years ago.  Just four months prior to that, my mother-in-law, who I loved, admired, and honored for raising the fine man my husband became, also passed away. 

Mother’s Day that year was so very difficult.  I didn’t want to celebrate this special occasion.  I opted out of the annual Mother-Daughter dinner held at our church.  I just couldn’t even begin to think about the day with any joy. 

My wise and caring father asked me why I wasn’t attending the mother-daughter event and I told him I couldn’t.  I didn’t want to watch all of the happy ladies sitting and enjoying their time with their mothers when I had lost my own.

His reply surprised me and I’ve never forgotten his words.  He told me he knew the anguish I felt losing my mom.  He had felt that way too when his own mother passed away.  He said he understood the grief is so difficult and that losing your mother felt like losing a part of yourself.

But his next remark was the one that will stay in my thoughts as long as I have memory.  He said, “But, you must celebrate Mother’s Day because you are a mother.  You have three children who love you and you celebrate this day for them.”

He was so very right.  As my dad often was.

So even though there is a tinge of sadness in me when Mother’s Day rolls around on the calendar, I celebrate that day because I am a mother.  I am blessed with three incredible adult children.  I am loved and respected and honored by those three.

This year Mother’s Day brought another first.  It was the first time I shared the day with one of my daughters who celebrated her very first Mother’s Day as a mother to our precious granddaughter.

Papa cut a sprig of fragrant lilac from the bush in our yard and he and I helped our sweet grandbaby awaken her mommy with a card and little gift for her very first Mother’s Day celebration.

My first Mother’s Day as a grandmother will be added to that memory pool with joy and contentment.  And the knowledge of being privileged to spend it with my daughter and adorable grandbaby. 

Even though my other children couldn’t be here to share this special day, I know they were thinking of me.  Their love arrived in phone calls, cards, and beautiful flowers. 

And love surely was expressed in my granddaughter’s smiles and coos.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” ~Unknown

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Off on a break

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Someone keeps shaking the snow globe.

While we are not socked in with huge snowfalls like our neighbors to the north, snow and frigid winter temperatures here in our neck of the woods tend to make us want to go into hibernation mode.

You know it’s been cold when you go outside and think, “Wow, it feels warm out here,” and the thermometer informs you it’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit.  Yes, 25 and a little sunshine felt like a heat wave.

But I’m not writing to discuss the weather.  It’s winter.  That’s a given.  I live in an area that gets winter weather and really, I’m not complaining about that.  Spring will arrive eventually.

Actually, I’m not complaining about anything.  Since the arrival of our darling first grandchild, Papa and I have been filled with joy and wonder over this new little life.  You might say she’s brought a little spring into our life, spring in our steps, spring in our hearts.

And even though there are an abundance of words floating around my mind that will need written down and published in Mama’s Empty Nest, I’m going on a little break.  I’ll still check in to read my fellow bloggers’ posts, but I will be on hiatus from writing for a while.

Just wanted to let everyone know so no one worries that something is wrong.  On the contrary, everything is right and good including the precious little missy who just woke up from a nap and her amazingly wonderful mother, my beautiful daughter.

“Be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.” ~ Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com