EMPTYING THE NEST: Easter 2014

Easter is a revival. It is a revival of hope and faith for our lives. No matter how messed up your circumstances are or how hopeless your situation may seem to be, Easter reminds us that all is not lost! God sent His only Son, whom He loved greatly, to live in this world. He experienced what we experience, and was taunted, tortured and tormented. God didn’t have to let His Son suffer, but he did this because He loved us SO much, He did not want us to suffer eternal damnation and separation from Him. Jesus was the bridge that allowed us to come back to God and have a right standing with Him. It’s not because we are right, but because Jesus was so Right, so Blameless and So Holy, He took on the weight of all our sins. This is what gives us hope! No matter what our troubles are this day, they cannot compare to the agony that Jesus suffered for us. And He is so much bigger than any of our troubles.  The mishaps, disappointments and failures cannot compare to the glory that will await us if only we will put our faith in Him. They are merely temporary in nature. Easter reminds us that we have a hope in that we have a Father who has our back. We may not have the strength to endure, but He does! And He will see us through the good, bad and ugly. It is not our strength that carries us, but His strength that we lean on to carry us. So as we come to a close on celebrating this Easter Sunday 2014 with our family and friends, its not too late to reflect and remember from whom our strength comes. Take time out to give thanks and be grateful for the greatest gift of all. Jesus Christ our Lord!

19 But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.

20 It is true that He was chosen and foreordained (destined and foreknown for it) before the foundation of the world, but He was brought out to public view (made manifest) in these last days (at the end of the times) for the sake of you.

21 Through Him you believe in (adhere to, rely on) God, Who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him honor and glory, so that your faith and hope are [centered and rest] in God.

                                                                                       1Peter 1:19 – 21            Amplified Bible

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Happy Easter to All!

 

 

EMPTYING THE NEST: Faith and Courage

It occurred to me this morning that faith is a courageous thing. It is not just some passive mindless action, but one that requires deliberate action and thought. Every time you get into the car and go somewhere, you are deliberately believing and having faith that you will get to your destination without injury or incident. The fact that we do this several times a day, every day of the week does not diminish the fact that it is faith that we have to have in order to believe that all will go well. It takes courage to have faith in God, to believe and know that He is in control and that we surrender our lives to Him. It’s like a bio feedback loop. He gives us the courage to have faith in Him and trust in Him and we surrender to His will. He cares for us and has our back, in good times and thru the stormy times. This in turn, increases our faith, trust and belief in Him as He continues to care for us and as we continue to lean on Him We gain increasing faith, hope, and trust. And the cycle continues round and round. The end result is what we see in 2 Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. (Amplified Bible)

              So it is a deliberate act, a conscious decision to live by faith. It is by faith that I entrust the care of my children to God as they live out their dreams and aspirations. It is by faith that I believe that the foundation that I have laid for them will be followed. It is my hope that they will live rich, full, productive lives with the morals and values that will carry them throughout their years being positive influences for God. This is what I hold onto and what keeps me from despair or anxiety that they are not here under my roof. So as my nest empties, I can smile, be happy for them and live my life knowing that I did the best I could for them. And that they will have the courage to have that ‘bio feedback’ loop of faith going their lives, too.

              There is another part to this. Faith is a key element to my living out the rest of my life as my nest is emptied. Faith is that God has most excellent plans for me, to use me for His glory, and for me to be fulfilled. With faith I can get up every day, go to work, and explore new options and opportunities for myself. The alternative is inertia and despair. Now I can definitely speak to inertia. Inertia, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is, “(1) lack of movement or activity especially when movement or activity is wanted or needed (2) a feeling of not having the energy or desire that is needed to move, change, etc.” I did a LOT of that ‘lack of movement’ thing. I would sit around, daydreaming about how I wanted my life to be, never doing anything to move towards that dream. Or I would just sit and wait, afraid to do anything for fear of what others (my kids, my parents, my friends) would think of me. I was the procrastination queen, putting off and putting off till the tomorrow that never came. I was so overwhelmed with life being a single working mom, that I never took the time to invest in me or even look at me.

              Now things have slowed down. There’s time to look at myself and see myself truly. No need to worry about other’s impressions or what my parents may think. Time to see me as God sees me—His beautiful, special child, full of potential, ready, willing and eager to live. Before, I operated on a fear-based platform. Inertia and procrastination come from fear. But faith is not about fear. Faith is about courage-the courage to go forth boldly and live life without fear because you know that God’s got this. No matter what happens, whether I win or lose, fly or fail, God still loves me. I’m learning this little by little. I certainly have not mastered this — I am a work in progress. My nest may be emptying, but I have so much to look forward to. And you do, too.

Emptying the Nest: Pondering it All

            Image  I was walking around in my backyard, having just potted some new flowers, when I was struck by the fact that I really, truly love springtime in Las Vegas.  The weather this time of the year is nearly perfect, with highs in the 70’s and lots of sunshine.  I always try to drink it in completely because after living here for 9 years, I know that all too soon, the 70’s will give way to the 100’s plus and the unrelenting desert summer will be on in full force. My flowers will be fried, and I will retreat to the air-conditioned sanctuary that is my home. And believe me, once it hits the 110’s, I only leave home when I HAVE to.

              But for now, it’s springtime.  There are new beginnings in nature, like the new baby birds chirping and learning to fly.  And I find it ironic that I am at the crossroad for a new beginning for me and my family as we transition through this time of my children leaving my nest to start their own journeys.  I see them just like that momma bird does, knowing that they cannot stay in the nest forever.  They are young, excited, and fully capable of flying. They need only to try.  Now they may fall and have a few rough starts, but eventually they will soar and make their way.  And for my children, just as for the new birds, life is not promised to be totally smooth or easy. But they have to learn to deal with it all, the good as well as the bad.

              And for me, I will keep watch for them. I will pray for them, listen to them, and advise them with the knowledge and wisdom that God has blessed me with. I know I laid the right foundation for them. So I watch with excitement during this time, because I remember how I was when I was their age and just starting out. I look forward to all their achievements as they progress in their college careers and eventually in their professional and personal ones.

              This emptying of the nest is a combination of a sweet sadness that I understand is part of the rhythm of life. A new beginning.  Fly well my little ones, fly well.

My Transition

Transition: movement, passage, or change from one position,

state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change:

the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Dictionary.com

The empty nest brings one face to face with a time of transition.  It is a movement from

being intensely involved in our children’s lives and parenting them, to their gaining their independence and moving towards living their own lives. This is not to say that I will not be involved in their lives at all.  I’ll always be there for them when they need advice, a shoulder to cry on, or a soft place to land. For me, I will be moving towards new found extra time, and the freedom to explore who I am apart from being the ever busy “kid’s mom”.  I have spent so many years rushing around, shuttling the kids to and from school, running to school functions and activities, practices for various sports, dance rehearsals and recitals, boy scouts, cooking, cleaning, HOMEWORK (Scream) and the list goes on and on. There’s little wonder why the empty nest either brings grief or relief—-or a bit of both.

            Please don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade those frenzied, frenetic years for ANYTHING!  I’d do it all again in the blink of an eye.  But having the pace slow down some for me has me feeling lost. I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing. As things have started to calm down for me, I’ve been faced with, well — myself.  Running so hard for so long, I almost didn’t recognize myself. I almost don’t even know what I like anymore. 

            Well that’s an over exaggeration, but you get the point.  We tend to lose ourselves in the hustle of raising the children. So now I’m beginning to explore ideas to help me regain my focus and finding those things that interest me. So far my short list has writing and photography on it. As I encounter things that spark my interest, I add them to my list. I don’t want to just start another period of ‘frenetic’ activity just to kill time.  I need things that feed me mentally, spiritually and physically.  I want to engage in those things that are meaningful and helpful, not only to me, for those around me.

            Now let us not forget that this is a transition for the child, also. They may miss me as terribly as I miss them (although they would NEVER admit it). They may get homesick, or even feel increased pressured to ‘do well’ so that they don’t have to come ‘running back home’.  There are all kinds of emotions involved in this period, and there is no right or wrong way to feel. I have made it known to them that they are always welcome back if they need to return.  But I also know that this is an inevitable event for them and me. We ALL must fly on our own to see what the next page will bring.

            So as I face the prospect of my daughter moving out tomorrow, I feel pangs of loneliness and grief, along with beginning to look forward to my future. She isn’t the last child for me, but she’s the only girl so I’m especially sensitive about her moving. Stay with me as I move through this period. I welcome all helpful hints especially if you’ve been through this. And gentleman, I know this does not only affect women. Men are not immune to the feelings and emotions brought on by the children moving on. I want to hear from you, too. Your role as fathers is so crucial integral to the formation of children’s character, strength and personality it cannot be understated!

            I will move through my emotions and own them. And when I’m ready, I will embrace this transition reach for my future.

A Time for Change

For everything there is a season,

a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)

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             The wise writer of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, knew that there was a time for everything to occur and that to go beyond that time would render one irrelevant, off base and ineffective. And the same is also true for when we need to cling closely to our children when they are young, and to let them go when they grow up. If we try to hold tightly to them when it is no longer appropriate, then we run the risk of driving them away from us or worse yet, the possibility of them making poor choices in their haste to get away from us.

              Of course we want our children to know that no matter what happens, we will always be there for them, whether it’s to offer advise, to provide help, or to have a soft place for them to land when life hits them hard. Keeping the lines of communication open is of paramount importance. Our role as parents doesn’t come to a hard stop just because they want to move out, no matter HOW happy we are for them to get out of our hair! They will continue to need our guidance and for us to share our valuable life experiences with them.

              And so that is where I am right now. My only daughter is moving out this weekend and even though I still have one more college student and a middle-schooler living at home, there’s a tug on my heartstrings with her anticipated move. We have an excellent and open relationship and I believe that I have laid the right foundation for her to grow and live by. But this is still hard for me none the less. I will commit her care and safety into the Lord’s hands and pray for her always. I must heed King Solomon’s words that this is her season for change to occur. And mine too.

Emtying the Nest – Part 3

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              A transition, according to Dictionary.com, is “a movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another”. This indicates to me that it is not a passive thing that just happens to us, but an active and dynamic action that we participate in. So when we are in the process of emptying our nest, which is another active, dynamic act ( teaching and preparing the kids to assume their roles as responsible young adults on their own, helping them pack, etc.) we are actively participating in the process. Unfortunately, a lot of us become inert when faced with this transition. We get depressed, we isolate ourselves, and we then are not active participants in the process. We long for what was instead of reaching for what can be. In order to go through this phase and come out intact and healthy, we need to be active about it. Seek out activities that we enjoy, meet up with friends, look for new opportunities whether it is returning to school, getting back into an exercise routine, picking up a new (or resuming an old) hobby. The opportunities are endless and now you have much more free time. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to volunteer with a charitable organization. Whatever feeds you mentally, spiritually or physically. And by physically I DON’T mean going on an all-out EATING RAMPAGE!!!

              The point is this is YOUR TIME! Embrace it and take the most advantage of it. That’s what I am starting to do. This blog is an example of my reaching for something I’ve always wanted to do. And I am sure that you have so many ideas, dreams and aspirations for what You want to do. Let me know what you are thinking about. Let’s swap and share ideas. As we embrace these ideas and embark upon new adventures for ourselves, we will grow and evolve and better ourselves and the world around us. And that’s the best part of all!

                                  Don’t be Afraid of CHANGE Because

                  It is Leading You to a NEW BEGINNING

                                              -Joyce Meyer

Emptying the Nest – Part 2

In anticipation of my own emptying nest, I’ve started looking at this whole period as a time of transition for me. Transitioning from being a full-on, all consumed, full-time parent, to being a still full-on parent on a more part-time basis. 4 of my 5 children are grown, 2 are out of the house and 1 is about to move on April 1st. My daughter is the one moving soon. I believe because she is my only daughter, this is the reason why all this has hit me so hard. When my oldest 2 boys moved, it seemed I barely blinked. I still had 3 more in school, requiring shuttle service (to and from school, sports activities, church outings, friend’s houses, etc.) and of course the normal, fulltime parenting activities required by elementary school aged children. Fast forward to now where Bree and Melvin can drive themselves, have their own jobs and college schedules and we may go a day or so without seeing each other (especially since I work 12 hour nights and sleep during the day) Only DJ, my 13 year- old, needs a little shuttle service. And with the advent of all the electronic gadgets (namely his iPhone) he is plugged in a lot of the time!
I’m trying to view all these changes in a positive light, of course. I’m proud of the fact that my children are becoming independent, productive members of society, who can function on their own. I intellectually know that if they run into problems, they will come to me and seek my help because I’ve always let them know that I am there for them, no matter what, my love for them is unconditional, and that I’ve ‘got their back’.
Still and all, girls tend to tug on their mother’s hearts. Of course I worry for Bree with all the crazies out there. I know she will be alert and cautious. As a Christian, I entrust her everyday to God’s care and protection. But still you know how it is…..
So truly this is a transitional time for me. DJ will be graduating high school in 5 years and then he’ll be off to college. I’m looking for new opportunities, not just to ‘kill time’, but to not only enjoy myself but to also try to make a real, positive difference in the world in my own small way. It seems I’m starting from scratch, but hopefully something will grab my attention. I am looking forward to ideas from you to spark my interest! I will be talking more about transitions in upcoming posts.