The number of plates on my dining room table had been a constant so dependable that I could set the table on auto-pilot. Often the number would swell to account for guests or shrink when one of us was visiting elsewhere. However, the ebb and flow always had a fixed point of return–until it didn’t.
What began as a slow trickle swelled to a flood of movement toward the door–at least that’s how it felt to me, standing still in my kitchen, holding a stack of blue and tan Pfaltzgraff and wondering how many forks to retrieve from the silverware drawer.
Jill Savage has stood in that same space, working herself out of a job, and then standing in the driveway to wave goodbye as her own full nest emptied. In Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next, she offers the gift of her story and the encouragement of gathered wisdom. The comings and goings of a growing family felt, to her, like a roller coaster ride as she rejoiced over her increased freedom but still longed for the warm presence of the people who had always consumed her time and resources.
With my youngest son winding into the second half of his senior year, I can’t think of a better time for this book to have crossed my path. If you, too, are in transition, seeking to discern God’s best for what’s next, Savage offers a place to start and a roadmap paved with hope.
Do Your Work
For Jill, navigating this new path involved counseling, soul searching, and a serious reassessment of the lens through which she had beeen viewing the world. Rooting out lies with the shovel of truth is a great beginning.
Are you convinced you can only be happy if your home is fully populated by your children?
God says your joy comes from him!
Are you afraid you are not smart enough to pursue meaningful activities outside your home?
God says you have the mind of Christ, and he will instruct you.
It’s not just the eight passenger mini-van and the pile of mismatched socks that can go. As you learn to thrive after your kids leave home, you are moving toward freedom from many long-standing expectations and time consuming traditions.
And, like it or not, once our kids take flight, we are observers from a place outside the center of their lives. We may get the memo about the new earring, the creative hair color, and the decision about facial hair or finances at the same time as the rest of the world. Our kids may not call when you think they should, so let me caution you that I’ve watched this sort of mother/daughter stand off from a distance with neither party willing to go first. And it did not end well.
It’s fascinating to watch the dynamics of the parent/child relationship change. One of the biggest surprises from our sons’ perspective came when we (who were simply full of opinions when their lives were our responsibility) began to step over the line into an advisory role as our kids reached independence and adulthood. The glorious truth is that along with our waning authority, we are also poised to let go of the idols of control, good behavior, and our narrow definitions of success.
When I was teaching four math lessons a day and shuttling kids to music and sports, there was no way I could have boarded a plane and spent a weekend teaching women hundreds of miles down the east coast. However, one almost-grown-up son can get by without me for a day or two as long as his dad is handy. As children leave the nest, all that letting-go frees our minds and our hands for new pursuits. I miss my kids, and it looks as if I’ll never master the art of making less than six quarts of soup, spaghetti, or American chop suey, but those quiet dinners of leftovers enjoyed alone with my husband in peace and quiet aren’t a bad consolation prize.
Therefore, I’ll hold on to new opportunities to minister to people outside my home circle. I’ll hold on to the freedom to weed my garden without a baby monitor nearby, to meet friends for coffee once in a while, to work on my writing craft, to send a half hour making notes on the thirty “I Will’s” in the book of Hosea while my second cup of tea cools.
I’m holding on to the small hands of grandchildren who love to come to Bam’s house where we paint, dig in the garden, read stories, and bake cookies together. All of life is a gift and this season is no exception. While the steps are unfamiliar to me at this point, I’m discovering a certain excitement as I look around me at this empty-ing nest and see the wide open spaces of God’s good plans for the future.
Many thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
Grace and peace to you,
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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