Life’s twists

blogIMG_0765.jpgHave you ever heard or seen something that just goes beyond what you call normal? Often times, we shake our heads and say, “Man, that’s twisted.”

This week’s photo challenge theme is exactly that – twisted.

I really haven’t had time to grab my camera and go out to capture a shot that would fit the challenge, so I resorted to my photo files. As I searched for a picture, the image of twisted that sprung forth in my mind was of tornadoes – sometimes called twisters.

I do have a bit of experience with twisters and have witnessed firsthand the devastation they cause. But I’ve never had an opportunity to capture one with my camera. And you know what? For that I’m grateful. I’d rather be safely ensconced in an inside walk-in closet than be sticking my camera out at a funnel-shaped onslaught of destruction.

In their wake, tornadoes leave a lot of twisted debris. The force of a twister is unreal, bending metal, stripping trees bare of their bark, picking up and smashing houses to smithereens.  As I was considering that, a photo I’d taken last summer came to my mind. (The photo above)

On a day trip, we ventured northward and visited Kinzua Bridge State Park located in the Kinzua Gorge. Years ago a tornado slammed into a railroad viaduct there, which was once the longest and highest such structure in the world, and destroyed a good portion of it. Its twisted metal skeleton still remains several feet below the surviving towers of the structure which have been turned into a sky walk.

But twisted things aren’t always the result of something horrific. Sometimes twisted items are things of beauty like this exquisite and huge glass sculpture fashioned by artist Dale Chihuly. One long winter season a few years ago, Papa and I visited our nearby city conservatory and botanical garden just to get a glimpse of color and this sculpture hung in the entrance hall of the conservatory.

blogDSCN0573 (2).jpgSo when it comes to twisted things, it’s all in your perspective, isn’t it? Just like life. Are you going to go through these days on earth you’ve been given with a negative attitude every time life doesn’t turn out quite like you planned (that could be really twisted) or will you embrace each day of life with an upbeat spin no matter what happens?

It may take some tweaking here and there, but I’m choosing to twist my attitude. Go for the optimistic. Be encouraging not critical. It’s up to me to decide which way I turn. And on that note, maybe I’ll just go fire up some oldies tunes and if I’m lucky, I’ll hear Chubby Checker singing “C’mon baby, let’s do the twist.”

You’re never too old to twist and see where it takes you.

“Life has many twists and turns and sometimes what looks like a very bad day can just be clearing the way for good things to come.” ~ J. Kim Wright

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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A liquid magnet

blogIMG_0158.jpgIt always seems to attract my attention.

I find myself mesmerized when I catch glimpses of it.  Nine times out of 10, I’ll raise my camera to my eye, focus, and shoot, capturing and storing photos of it in my computer cache.

It’s simple but it’s complex. It can be practically still or it can be rushing.  It can be swirling or it can be gushing.  It’s life-giving but can be life-taking. 

It’s liquid and it’s water.

This week’s photo challenge theme – liquid – causes me to ponder about my favorite liquid and why it draws me like a magnet.

When I think of liquids, I immediately think of water. Not coffee, not even tea, which I do love.  Not the liquid elements mercury or bromine. Not even milk or juice. Like the song lyric from long ago, cool, clear water somehow refreshes not only my thirst but my soul.

I’m not sure why that liquid, whether it be a river, a lake, an ocean, a stream, or a waterfall, fascinates me because I’m not one of those people who are passionate about swimming or actually being in the water. 

Really deep water scares the dickens out of me, which is why Papa hasn’t been able to convince me to book a several day ocean cruise. We did board a whale watching cruise in the Pacific Ocean once, but that was just for a couple of hours.

So I’m just one of those folks who enjoys being near the water.

I’ll sit on a park bench riverside watching water flow steadily southward. I’ll bask on the sand with my eyes closed just listening to the ebb and flow of ocean waves at the beach. I’ll perch on a rock in a cool copse of woods and enjoy the babbling of a brook.

I’ll stare with wonder at a glistening waterfall cascading down a mountainside. I’ll board a water-going vessel for a sight-seeing trip. I’ll park myself comfortably on my front porch watching liquid drops of water in the form of rain descend from the clouds.

And when it comes to liquid refreshment, my first choice is always a glassful of water – cool, clear water.

I’m reminded that our human bodies are comprised of a large percentage of water – somewhere between 55-65%. We need water to sustain life because it’s absolutely essential. Without it, we can’t survive for very long because it’s vital for just about every aspect of our bodies.

So that explains why water is my beverage of choice. It’s simple biology. It’s what my body longs for.

But what is the reason I’m drawn to bodies of water like a moth to a flame? It’s not just for quenching my thirst because I surely can’t drink salty ocean water.

No, there must be some other reason why water acts like a magnet for me and my camera.

And I believe it’s because my soul longs to be near, in connection to, and in constant communication with my Savior Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ~ John 4:13-14

I’ve often gone through periods of time in my faith when I felt like I was in the arid desert. That’s when reading God’s Word and lifting up my parched soul in prayer quenches the thirst within me.

And perhaps that’s why water calls to me. It reminds me where my river of life is found – in Christ. It reminds other believers in Jesus of that as well. I recall visiting a non-denominational church whose name was simply Liquid.

Its founders obviously intended for people thirsting for something to fill their empty parched hearts to find liquid refreshment for the soul through the saving grace of Jesus.

I just hope that living water, that life-giving liquid which has been poured into me, flows back out from me and descends on others who need their thirst for a Savior satisfied.

“I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors, let’s the captives free. I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Spring up, o well, within my soul. Spring up, o well, and make me whole. Spring up, o well, and give to me that life abundantly.” ~ L. Casebolt

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

That place

blogIMG_1031.jpgI’m not as well traveled as some. I haven’t been to exotic places all around the world like my children. Matter of fact, I’ve only been outside of my own country twice.

But I’ve traveled enough to have viewed a good portion of my native land. Out of our 50 states, I’ve actually stepped foot in 37 of them and I’m still counting.

When it comes to some of our major cities, I’ve visited quite a few – New York, Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Baltimore, Oklahoma City, Portland, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Tulsa, Cincinnati, just to name some, as well as our nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

And through all that traveling I’ve often remarked, “It’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

Those spots just aren’t my place in this world.

As often happens when I receive the Word Press weekly photo challenge theme notification, an idea springs to mind and I find myself writing down my thoughts.   

And just like that [snaps fingers], something else often occurs. A song lyric pops into my mind.

This week is no different. 

The photo challenge theme: Place in the World.

The song lyric: Christian musician Michael W. Smith’s piece, Place in This World.

Looking for a reason
Roaming through the night to find
My place in this world
My place in this world
Not a lot to lean on
I need Your light to help me find
My place in this world
My place in this world

 

It’s sometimes seems so difficult, doesn’t it? To find that place in the world. The place where you belong. The place where you feel like you’ve just come home.

Welcomed. At peace. Like all is right in your world because you’re in the right place at the right time.

Your place in the world.

I think part of the reason we struggle with finding a place that sits well with our souls, that fills our empty spots, that makes us feel satisfied, is that this world truly isn’t our permanent home.

This world is fallen. It’s full of wonder and beauty and life and growth yet also full of despair and ugliness and death and decay.

For someone like me, as a believer in Jesus Christ, my place isn’t truly in this world. My place ultimately is heaven.

But for this temporal time on earth, I have to find my place in this world. That spot where I can go and sense that this is my place. This is where I am centered.

So where is my place in this world? It’s my actual home. This empty nest house where I’ve hung my hat for almost 20 years. The place I come back to after travels afar. This structure where memories abound and peace surrounds.

“There’s no place like home.” – Dorothy in the movie, The Wizard of Oz

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Drawing the line

blogIMG_2718.jpgI’m one of those people who do it. Read between the lines. Sometimes I may be off in my assessment by doing so, but often I’m right on the mark.

But you know what? I’d rather you just give it to me straight so I don’t have to analyze what you’ve said or even attempt to read between the lines.

Be upfront. Honest. To use an old 60’s motto, tell it like it is.

Because if you’re not straightforward, your lines often are just that – lines.

And when I can’t believe what you say, I’d rather not even try.

When I was a child, we often chanted an old saying, “Liar, liar, pants on fire. Nose as long as a telephone wire.”

I guess we were referencing Pinocchio whose nose kept growing longer and longer every time he told a lie. So if your nose was as long as a telephone wire, wow, did you ever tell a whopper!

Lying is one thing I really can’t tolerate. Lying breaks any assemblance of trust you may have had in another person and shreds it to nothing. It leaves a devastating sense of betrayal in its wake.

I think back a few years to witnessing someone tell bold face lies without any regrets or remorse. How can anyone with a conscience at all do that? It boggles my mind.

And that’s when I chose to draw my own lines – lines in the sand, so to speak – because those lines of deception infuriated me and it took every ounce of self-control I had not to retaliate.  I haven’t nor will I cross over the line with a person who practices such duplicity. 

I won’t treat the deceiver badly because I know as a believer in Christ, I’m to live my life exhibiting the fruit of the spirit. If you’re not familiar with these ‘fruits,’ you can find them in The Bible in the book of Galatians, Chapter 5, verses 22-23. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I can show all of those gracious attributes to the one who feeds my loved ones or me lines of deceit by not reacting in anger or revenge, but in order to protect myself from losing self-control, I also must  draw the line.

Cut off communication. Go my own way. Discontinue having conversations with the person who chooses to deceive and spew lies.

It’s called setting boundaries. Dividing lines. Creating space between two people where there really needs to be space.

As a believer, I know I must practice self-control and that’s why I draw that imaginary line in the sand between myself and someone who causes distress to someone I care about or me. That line, that boundary, protects us from the one who has no self-control but attempts to manipulate others and distort the truth.

It doesn’t mean I can’t forgive the transgression. But I don’t have to continue a relationship with that person.

Drawing that line and setting a healthy and godly boundary demonstrates that I’m not giving the offending person the opportunity to besiege me with more ill treatment.  It’s not wrong to set boundaries with someone who causes harm and destruction when reconciliation isn’t possible.

The poet Robert Frost once wrote: “The middle of the road is where the white line is – and that’s the worst place to drive.”

I find that to be true. I don’t enjoy drawing the line but I’ve found it necessary to determine where I stand.  Choosing the middle of the road won’t prevent the one who spreads deceit and hurtfulness from continuing to damage relationships.  I don’t have to read between the lines to see that.

“Sometimes you have to, as I say, build bridges where you can – but draw lines where you must.” ~ Fred Thompson

This week’s photo challenge theme was lines

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When you’re smiling

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. 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.

blogIMG_1356.jpgI 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

Favorite place, favorite thing

blogIMG_3517I once saw a piece of wall art that read “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

That pretty much sums it up for me this week. I’m behind. In everything.

I’ve been working on a project at home that involves printed photographs – hundreds of them. And they all need organized and put in a place where they can be easily accessed. And the more I try to hurry this project along, the more behind I get.

This project is taking me forever hours upon hours to complete. Matter of fact, I’m not even seeing the light at the end of the tunnel yet.  And because of that, I’m behind in doing the routine things I accomplish at home.

And because of that, I’m also behind in writing for this blog. I usually like to prepare my blog posts well in advance and have them all nicely queued up ready to publish a week or at least several days ahead of time.  

Last week because of the photograph project, no writing happened. And this week it didn’t happen again because not only has the project worn me down, but I’ve been under the weather with a respiratory virus. I’m hoping it’s just a common cold but it’s made me feel crummy and fatigued all week long.

Go figure. I didn’t succumb to a cold all winter and now that hopefully, spring is on the horizon, I get sick. Blah.

And because of all of that, I’ve been scrambling to put together blog posts at the very last minute this week. And it’s Easter week! One of my favorite times of year. I haven’t had the time, the energy, or the inclination to write about that at all because my sinus-stuffed head is foggy.

I’m also behind when it comes to the Word Press weekly photo challenge theme from last week – favorite place.

So here’s my last ditch effort to catch up at least here in the blogging world.

My favorite place just happens to be where my favorite thing is. Cue the song from The Sound of Music….♪♫ “These are a few of my favorite things…” ♪♫

The photo above is my favorite place, the view of our yard from our front porch, early on a spring or summer morning, sitting on my favorite thing – our wooden porch swing – enjoying a nice cup of tea.

It’s my favorite thing in my favorite place. It’s my happy place. And I sure would like to be there now.

 “Find your safe spot and your happy place. Allow no one to penetrate your soul.” ~Anonymous

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

I would rather

The calendar tells me it’s officially Spring. You know, the season where the days get warmer, the grass greens up, the trees start to bud, and flowers burst forth in a profusion of color.

It’s the season of renewal and I do find it renews my spirit and mood as well, particularly after a long winter season.

So Spring is here, but it’s not here. The view outside my window tells me differently. And even though it’s only 10 days until April comes, Winter still has us in its grips, at least here in my neck of the woods.

So on this 24th day of March, I would rather see this:

blogIMG_9527.jpg

than this:

blogIMG_9500.jpg

But the latter is what’s outside my window. Spring will come….eventually, I hope.

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” ~ Bernard Williams

(Another post for last week’s photo challenge.)

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com