The Empty Nest

Leo Nest

Time passed too quickly.

Our first son spent his first year in college while living at home, but then he decided last fall, he needed to spread his wings and live closer to college. As parents, that was a tough change. Now, our youngest son will graduate from high school this spring and will be living in a college dorm this fall. Now, an even tougher change to accept – the empty nest.

Many parents I have spoken with about the reality of staring at the ‘empty nest’ often exclaim how they couldn’t wait for the day to arrive when they could be free from the constraints of child-rearing. That notion is the polar opposite of what we are feeling. Our sons are strong, independent, intelligent young men and we are certainly proud of them. We fondly look back on raising them and hope we have instilled in them all the necessary wisdom and spiritual guidance to fly high in all their endeavors. We look forward to seeing what they will achieve in the future with their education, career, and someday a family of their own.

Yet, the ache in our heart is too strong to deny.

In looking back over the years of raising our children, I realize that family life is a training ground for faith, hope, love, patience, and prayer. It is graduation time for mom and dad too. And it is faith and prayer that we must rely on more than ever as we help them move their belongings into their new homes to begin living apart from mom and dad. Our hope and prayer are that they will not fall away from Christ to chase elusive shadows, but they remember that God is the only one who feeds their souls.

“Train up a child in a way he should go, And even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

There may be times when they go their own way and the only way we can react is letting them go – and trust that God loves them. Our two sons are His after all.

Max Lucado has beautifully written, “Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, “I can clean that if you want.” And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin.” A reminder we give to our sons.

As Martin Luther said, “Pray, and let God worry.” 

A reminder for us all.

 

Transforming: Beauty in its time

Transformation

This spring my youngest son will be graduating from high school. In the fall, I will have both sons in college. I am facing an empty nest with my husband, Vinny Sal.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis

The second half of my life I vow will be transformed in spirit, mind, and body. As much as motherhood was, and is, the most fulfilling part of my life, I want to rid myself of that gnawing sense of living a mediocre life, an unexamined life. 2015 was a revelation of being busy and bored at the same time. I want to close that gap of who I am today and who God created me to be.

“Spiritual transformation doesn’t take place on Sunday when we get want we want. It takes place on Saturday while we’re waiting. It’s what is forged while we’re waiting, hoping, trusting even though we have yet to receive that for which we long for.” – Pete Wilson, author of Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?

This quote reminds me of football. Young men play countless games from childhood through college hoping to play in the NFL on Sunday. Yet few make it on the football field. While others receive what they long for in other ways as a coach, an assistant, a trainer, a sports analyst – whatever connects them to the game they love – football. I may never be a successful author, or an author at all but my Saturdays will be waiting, hoping, trusting that God is here in my current circumstances transforming me into who He wants me to be – a blogger? I no longer will allow my circumstances to distort my perspective and miss God and who He wants me to be.

I read many great books in 2015. One book, in particular, set me on a life-changing course in an unexpected way. On the back cover of the book, “Just Listen – Discover the Secret of Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston, MD, it reads, “Is there someone in your life who just won’t listen, no matter what you say? … If only you could get that person into a calm and receptive state of mind, you’d probably be able to work out your differences…. Just Listen will get you there.” I read this book with the intention that it would help me to get through to other people. Instead, the book opened my mind to get through to me.

“The most successful people are those who don’t have any illusions about who they are.” Dr. Goulston quotes Bud Bray, author of “Is It Too Late to Run Away and Join the Circus?” In chapter 9, Dr. Goulston offers a challenge to the reader: ask friends or relatives how they perceive you. I carried out this experiment with my husband, two sons, close friends, my pastor, a long-time previous boss and other associates. I was astonished to the similarity of their responses. I am grateful to those who accepted this challenge to honestly share with me the top three descriptive words from the list given to them. The book, Just Listen, transforming my mind meant checking my dissonance of who I think I am at the door.

“Reach boldly for the miracle. God knows your gifts, your hindrances and the condition you’re in at every moment.” Bruce Wilkerson

#Vegan2016 – transforming the body not for vanity, but for fueling the spirit and mind to close that gap for who God created me to be. To be the best I can be in spite of any hindrances and conditions. In the words of one of the best coaches in football today, “Be better tomorrow than you are today,” Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach of my beloved University of Michigan Wolverines.

“The empty nest is not an empty life.” A Sparrow Sings

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV