Empty Nesting – Week 4

We might be an empty nest but it’s not really been THAT EMPTY…in fact, we welcomed our second grandbaby into the world yesterday, soemptynest[1] our children may have moved out but there’s still a ton of activity around our house right now.

We’ve had the awesome privilege of having our young grandson, Jaxon stay with us for a few nights while his mommy and daddy and new baby sister have been getting some much-needed bonding time in the hospital.  Jaxon, (2 1/2 years old), was well-prepared for welcoming his sister.  My daughter and son-in-law have been amazing with reading to him and talking about his new responsibility of “big brother” ever since they discovered they were expecting.  When I brought him to the hospital to meet his sister for the first time, he immediately felt a connection with her evident in the way he patted her head oh-so-gently and held her tiny fingers.  He was mesmerized!  He was right there watching as the nurses bathed Kharis for the first time, and when she cried, he calmed her with cooing at her and touching her softly on her head.

As I watched my two grandchildren interact together for the first time, my heart was overwhelmed by the way God blesses us with this gift of children (and now grandchildren).  I’m realizing more and more the new role, or season of life, God now has in store for me and I feel immeasurably loved by the Father as a result.

Proverbs 17:6  “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”

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Show Me A Sign

For my readers who are not C8887653anadian, this may or may not be unsettling for you.  For those of you who are unaware of Canada’s “divided” status, you might actually be shocked at the fact that we have a “separatist” government nestled nicely in Quebec, but the province itself is still under Federal or National jurisdiction so to speak.  Yeah, it’s wonky, but that’s the way it is.  It’s like having Benedict Arnold sitting comfortably in the middle of all the Knights of the Round Table.  He doesn’t like anything the other knights are doing, and doesn’t want to cooperate with them in any way, but the other “knights” won’t kick him out because they “need” him so  there’s not an empty seat around the table.  (I’m definitely showing my Albertan “red-neck” side with that last statement) :)

For those of you who do not know, Canada is a bilingual nation, with French and English being the two official languages.  Now I don’t have a problem with that per se, however, when a separatist Benedict Arnold is the only one at the table speaking French, and refuses to allow the other provinces (knights) to speak anything else but French around them, then I have a little issue with bilingualism.  Benedict has thus become a standoffish bully and…well…you know how I feel about bullies!

The latest in separatist Benedict’s, (I mean Premier Ms. Marois’) bullying tactics is a new Quebec Charter of Values that would see all civil servants be banned from wearing any kind of religious symbol. “The plan would apply to judges, police, prosecutors, public daycare workers, teachers, school employees, hospital workers and municipal personnel.”  “One justification given for the supposed need for a values charter is that some instances of religious accommodation have given rise to a “profound discomfort” in Quebec. Yet what there has been of these have been piddling instances, blown out of proportion, over parking exemptions on religious holidays or specialty food served at a sugar shack.”  (Editorial: Montreal Gazette)

The ban would be against hijabs, kippas, turbans, Crosses, the Star of David, etc., and, in my personal opinion, goes against the whole idea of religious freedom we hold so dear here in Canada.

The controversy surrounding this new Charter of Values in Quebec is substantial with supporters and opponents on both sides.  It has surprisingly unified Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and other faiths who are crying “unfair” because they are unable to wear jewellery or clothing that identifies themselves with any religious organization, cult or faith.

Atheists seem to be the most pleased with the turn of events…until of course they inadvertently wear a t-shirt one day to work that identifies them as atheists and are then charged under the new Charter of Values…

I wonder if bumper stickers, magnetic ribbons and those awful “stick family” figures in the back windows of cars will also be subject one day to this Charter?  I mean, where does it end?  I know people who value their sport’s team, or their pets, or their homes, cars, music even more than they do their god.  Will all that fall under a ban eventually too?  I mean will it one day be against the law to show off the colours of your favorite hockey team because it may offend another sports fan who doesn’t share your “belief” in that team.  See how ludicrous this all is???

It will be an interesting time of debate over this new Canadian controversy.  Perhaps it’s time for the good people of Quebec to oust this particular separatist Benedict Arnold (in this case, Premier Pauline Marois) and allow her to go fight stupid crusades like this on her own.  I would certainly like to see Quebec become that gallant “knight” it once was around the Federal round table.

Empty Nesting – Week 3

It’s a funny thing.  The kids have moved out but now they seem to want to come home just to chat or spend time witinyourhaircor2-1h their father and me.  Over the past week, I have had lunch or dinner with each of the children, very spur of the moment, and incredibly pleasant.  I say that because the last few years when they lived at home, they always seemed to be too busy to join us for a meal, either with work schedules or their social calendar commitments.  Then when they were home they would sequester themselves in their rooms and conversation with them was generally a sporadic exchange of information from then on.

What has happened?  We haven’t changed…

My son even offered to pay for an expensive dinner out.  What is the world coming to??

I will admit, I’ve been wondering if they are having ulterior motives for this unusual behavior but so far it’s obvious they just like to “drop in” and visit.  I haven’t changed.  My husband hasn’t changed.  We’re still the same old, same old, talking the same language, doing the same things as we’ve always done while the kids were at home.  What has happened?  If we haven’t changed…gasp!…have they? :)

Of course I’m being facetious.  I think I am finally seeing the fruition of “training up a child in the way he should go”, and I know it’s still too early to say for sure, but perhaps they are seeing their parents in a different light as well.  We’re not just the parental units who nagged them to do their homework, or to clean their rooms.  We are not looked upon as their personal chauffeurs anymore, or their chefs, or their management consultants, or money-doler-outers.  In fact, they seem to be actually grateful when we prepare a meal, or offer advice, or buy them something.  Hmmmm…we haven’t changed…gasp!…have they? :)

Proverbs 1:8-9 ESV  “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”

 

Empty Nesting – Week 2

imagesIt has been a little over two weeks since our last little bird flew the nest and is now nestling in nicely at school.  Yes, she nearly flew back home the minute she experienced “Syllabus Shock”, but knowing that her mantra over the past few months has been, “I want to be treated like an adult“, we did exactly what she asked.  We treated her like an adult and allowed her to tough it out on her own.  Hard lesson for all of us.

My husband and I spent last weekend tidying up our much-neglected yard, accomplishing tasks that have irritated us for years.  I think we had always assumed that one of our children would enjoy working at our side but that was for the most part just wishful thinking.  My children, bless their hearts, would rather stick “needles in their eyes” as Jack Nicholson said in “Terms of Endearment”, than help us with yard work.  Knowing that, we decided it was just high time we did these nagging chores ourselves sans help from the kids.  In fact, since the kids have left, my husband and I are much more prone to getting things done around the house.  The nagging has stopped.  Chores that were once delegated to children, with the associated weeping, and gnashing of teeth on both sides to get them to perform set chores, are now ours and ours alone to do.  Washing dishes together has become a fun chore, with my husband kissing my neck as he “helps”.  (Yes, we are free to display some outward affection towards one another now in the kitchen without the sound of “Eeeewwwww!” from our scandalized children.)

My husband and I have rediscovered conversation.  Yes, we still talk about the kids, but now we also have lengthy discussions about the wonders of the universe, pondering infinity, or we enjoy just being silent and listening to the crackle of an outdoor fire and hearing the coyotes yowling in the distance.

While my husband is at work, I have discovered that I’m less stressed about my day.  I have a lengthy quiet time with God, not a hurried, “Help me!” prayer before rushing off to get children organized for their day.  I spend now a concerted amount of time before His Throne.  To be honest, I haven’t been able to do that in years.  It is like I’m reconnecting with Him as well.

I am rediscovering a new vitality in my soul and body.  Yes, it’s true.  As I opened scripture this morning these verses popped out at me:

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 (MSG) “Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, Before your vision dims and the world blurs And the winter years keep you close to the fire.  In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest, While your friends make plans for your funeral.  Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over. Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends. The body is put back in the same ground it came from. The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.  It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke. The Quester says that everything’s smoke.”

I have always thought that “youth” in this context was directed towards those young people who are in their early thirties and younger, but I am discovering that being an Empty Nester this passage challenges me as well.  The years have not as yet taken their toll, I’m a little hard of hearing, true, but there are still years and years of discovering and experiencing more and more of life and God before my eternal rest – God willing.  I intend to take full advantage of that!

Encouragement for a Discouraged Author

As an author, I have certainseal of approvally experienced my ups and downs, disappointments and joys.  From five-star reviews to a one star scathing review a year ago from a Satanist who read my book and “hated it”.  I know, I know…it’s a “duh moment”; of course a Satanist would hate my books that are Christ-centred but still it’s tough to have someone trash a book that I’ve spent so much time and energy on.  Every author, no matter how famous and well-known you are, will experience a bad review.  It’s inescapable.

But this week has been an unforgettable week for me personally as an author, and I can honestly say I had nothing to do with it, it was all God. 

It started out with an email from Literary Classics saying my book, Love the Wounded, had received a five-star review and the “Seal of Approval” from them. Literary Classics is “an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in  children’s and young adult literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations.”   To learn more about Literary Classics, you may visit their website at www.clcawards.org or www.childrensliteraryclassics.com

This recognition came right out of the blue for me.  I was shocked, humbled and honoured and immediately I praised God because it was only last week I had begged God to give me some kind of “sign” that He still wanted me to write because I was so discouraged about it all that I was seriously considering giving up writing entirely and getting a “real” job.

I received another email that very same day, from a man in Saudi Arabia.  He had read my story, “Do Angels Wear Glasses?” in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book: Parenthood.  He said the story, “touched my heart and soothed my soul in a very positive way” and just wanted to write to me and tell me that.  How cool is that?

But I have found that God always speaks to me in threes.  Don’t ask me why.  I’m like Peter, I guess.  (John 21:1-25)

I received an email yesterday from a blog writer whom I had never met, who said he thought my writing was “great” and he wanted to feature my books on his Facebook page.  I was flattered, I’ve had my books featured on lots of Facebook pages before, but I had no idea the exposure THIS page would give them.  What Christians Want to Know is wildly popular and has a HUGE fan audience with 146 K followers.  Within minutes of my books being posted on the page there were a hundred “likes” and shares.

Things like this don’t just happen by accident or coincidence…

So today, I am praising God for encouraging a discouraged author.

 

 

 

Empty Nest Lessons – First Week

imagesMy husband and I have been empty nesters now for one week.

Unlike other empty nesters we’ve talked to over the past week, we have not been jumping for joy, nor have we been immediately renovating bedrooms to make spaces that are suited to our new lifestyle (and to discourage children from moving home)…no, we’ve been quietly contemplative about this new “season” in our life.  We haven’t quite embraced it yet, but we haven’t been depressed either.

Now don’t get me wrong…I LOVE each and every one of my children, even the son and son-in-law, who spend more time in my fridge than they do talking to me :)  I adore my two girls, even though the youngest one still has what I would call a condemned bedroom and bathroom that still needs her attention before I will call her officially moved out; and the oldest one still sneaks snacks from my cupboard after each visit.  She gets away with it because she is only weeks away from delivering our second grandbaby :)

Still, it is decidedly pleasant to have the house to ourselves, my husband and I, and to enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with having an empty nest (house).

Here are a few things my husband and I have discovered over this past week:

* We are no longer confined to a set schedule each day.  (We can eat when we want to, and we can eat what we want to.)  My menu was always catering to children’s likes and dislikes, now we can eat foods we like that they would have turned their noses up at.

* We can watch T.V. shows that we like rather than watch their shows all the time.

* We can have uninterrupted conversations and lately we’ve even had conversations that were NOT about the children!

* We can keep a neater house without clothes, and shoes littering the entranceway and unwashed dishes piled up in the sink.

* We reminisce about all the ways our children bring us joy rather than focus on rebelliousness and past activities that may have brought us grief.  Selective memories I guess, and they’re all good!

* When the children call or text or show up unexpectedly, it’s like a special event.  I enjoy every precious moment with them and look forward to the next time I hear from them.

But the biggest thing we’ve learned this past week, is that we wish we could have figured all of this out when the kids were growing up…

After all:

We made the schedules not the kids.

The T.V. shows we watched together were not as important as spending precious time with them.

Interrupted conversations meant there were always teachable moments.

A cluttered house meant a house that was well-lived in.

We spent an inordinate amount of time fretting over rebelliousness rather than focussing on pure joy.

And lastly, our children were then, and always will be our gifts from God to enjoy and cherish for a lifetime!

 

 

 

Indulgences

If you will indulge me…

It’s been a very topsy-turvy summer.  My “baby” turns eighteen in a few days, and I am feeling the throes of “letting go” once again and letting the last of my children fly fromEmpty Nest the safety and confinement of the nest into the world.  You know what that means, don’t you?…

Empty Nest Syndrome

Well, not sure it’s appropriate to be called a syndrome yet, but I am certainly feeling the emptiness of the house with just my husband and I rattling around in it.  We moved our youngest into seminary residence last night and even though she only lives minutes from our home, every time I walk by her room, I feel a pang of loss.

We bought this acreage and house, just north of Cochrane, Alberta, when my son was only a toddler, and my oldest daughter was just a child.  Our baby was born a year after and this house has, for close to twenty years, been filled with birthday party celebrations, pool parties, and youth activities.  It seems so silent all of a sudden.

Someone said to me that once the kids move out I’ll have plenty of time to write.  Wow.  I wish I could feel some comfort from that statement, but I haven’t been able to write all summer.  Oh, I blog a bit but my heart hasn’t been into sitting down and completing that manuscript that beckons to me every once in a while, taunting me with its incompleteness.

And amazingly to say…I’m okay with it.

As a Christian, and a writer, but mostly a Mom, I  know that there is a “season for everything”.  I have to adapt to this next season of life for me now without kids in the house everyday.  I plan on taking a couple of months to establish a new routine, a new normality if you will, for my days.  Certainly that manuscript may be added onto in the months ahead but right now the focus is connecting with my husband like I did “BC” (Before Children), and settling into my new empty nest role gracefully.

Thankfully my kids know that they are just a text message away from their Mama, and my baby even has my permission to bring over her laundry weekly and I’ll even wash it all for her; I won’t even grumble about it.

Wow, things really HAVE changed!