Empty Nest: Discover God's Best for Your Next

Holding On, Letting Go, and Doing the Work of Loving Your Empty Nest

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. (Keep reading, because there’s a Give Away, and the details for how you can win a copy of the book are at the end of this post!)

The comings and goings of a growing family felt like a roller coaster ride as Jill 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 at U.S. Army bootcamp, 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.

The comings and goings of a growing family can feel like a roller coaster ride as we rejoice over our increased freedom, but still long for the warm presence of our children.

Do Your Work

For Jill, navigating this new path involved counseling, soul searching, and a serious reassessment of the lens through which she had been 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.

Let Go!

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.

Hold On!

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, 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.

If you or someone you love is currently navigating the empty nest path, I want to share Jill’s good work and her inspiring story to help you live FULLY and discover God’s Best in your next chapter!

To enter the drawing for the free book, share this post on social media and then comment below telling me where you posted it and something about wonderful YOU! You can share empty nest wisdom, describe your current struggle, or simply post a scripture verse that’s giving you hope today. I’ll leave the drawing open through April 5 and notify the winner on April 6!

Grace and peace to you,

Do the work of holding on and letting go as you learn to love your emptying nest!

On the Third Thursday of every month, I send biblical encouragement and newsy insights to newsletter subscribers. You can sign up using the handy (and only slightly annoying) pop-up form or simply click here to subscribe.

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I have been invited to write for The Joyful Life magazine on a topic I’ve been doing research on for 27 years:  Parenting Boys!  I’m honored to be part of the team who provides quarterly online content as well as occasional print articles for such a beautiful and Christ-exalting publication. Click here to subscribe or to check out their shop, which is full of gift ideas and resources to enhance your own walk with God.

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 or any of the books recommended in this post, simply click on the image or 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.

And as always, you can also subscribe to Living Our Days blog to get regular content delivered to your inbox twice a week. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page. If you’re encouraged by what you read here, be sure to spread the word!

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54 thoughts on “Holding On, Letting Go, and Doing the Work of Loving Your Empty Nest”

  1. I’ve seen this book around but never read it. You’re really got me curious to pick it up now, Michele! I love that you’re diving deep into empty nest. No surprise there. 🙂 “However, as children leave the nest, all that letting-go frees our minds and our hands for new pursuits.” Yes.

    Congrats on writing for The Joyful Life!

    Just shared your post on twitter.

    Like

  2. Well, this is timely as my youngest just moved into his own apartment this month! And though we were able to apply what we learned when his older brothers left the nest, those lessons all the more poignant since he’s the last to leave and the “baby.” There are definite perks, but we do miss them.

    I shared this post on Twitter.

    Like

  3. It wasn’t easy to get used to my two getting married and being on their own. But over the years, our lives have grown and changed and been blessed. Sounds like a wonderful book!

    Like

  4. I looked forward to having an empty nest as it took some time before my sons moved out and when they did, they moved out just a few months apart….But I was prepared for it and I adjusted well…..I finally had time for myself and to do the things that I wanted to do….Thanks for stopping by and thanks for sharing this experience…
    Stay safe, healthy and happy!!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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  5. I am currently in that empty nest mode. Although, my kids kind of come and go with schooling. But, I enjoy them as adults, I have to say. Thanks for linking up.

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  6. Letting go of the first two girls was hard, but I understood – they always had been very independent. But the last one, the boy that was hard because he went clear across the globe! But an empty nest has also its good sides. Now, we have time to go wherever and whenever we like, which is a great freedom. Also to enjoy grand children without having to raise them:) A wonderful Easter celebration to you! Jesh

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  7. Ah, congratulations to your youngest son and good luck to him in the Army! I was extremely sad when my youngest flew the coop and left our nest empty for the first time. That lasted about 10 minutes. Now, I love it when they come to visit, but I love the solitude of just hubby and me too. It’s tough to know when to hold on and when to let go. To everything there is a season… 🙂

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  8. This sounds like a wonderful book. There are so many things to look forward to. Love the positive spin on this topic. I have so enjoyed watching our daughter leave the nest and start a family and move to a role of equal (and even giving us good advice).

    You had me laughing at making six quarts of soup. I learned to cook at home for my 6 siblings and parents. When I got married I was making six quarts of everything. I never have lost the urge to cook a lot. Even after all these years, I have not got below 3 quarts. My friend with a large family came over and said, “You sure know how to cook for a crowd.” I’ll take that as a compliment.

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  9. It sounds like a great book for those coming up to that stage of life – as a mum to a 5 and 6 year old I can’t imagine those days they seem so far ahead, haha!

    Hope you are having a good Easter weekend 🙂

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  10. I remember that empty feeling when mine first left. But then a new season opened. One rich in other ways. Happy Easter, Michele!

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  11. “All of life is a gift and this season is no exception.” AMEN, Michele! I’ve been empty nesters now over 27 years, which in itself has been divided into three chapters: 1) No kids at home, but still a classroom full of fourth graders to love and teach, 2) Retirement for me, three years ahead of my husband, which meant I had the house to myself most days (if I wasn’t volunteering, lunching, shopping, etc.) As an introvert, I treasured those quiet days alone. 3) Now we’re both retired and this past year especially have spent many hours just the two of us. I’m happy to report he still makes me laugh!

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  12. I’ll be there in a few short years, Michele, and your perspective is so helpful and encouraging. I especially appreciated the thoughts about the mother/daughter standoff about who calls first. I’m thankful my college girl LOVES to communicate and consider my current role with her to be one of always picking up the phone when she calls. Happy Easter, my friend!

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  13. Beautifully written Michele. My children had a spread of ages so I was an empty nester later than many. It’s hard to let them go – we pull one way they pull another. Trials and tribulations along the way of course but once they are fully established in their adult lives, having them altogether becomes a wonderful celebration, although with the number constantly increasing it’s a sigh of relief when they go! Often difficult not to give an opinion, but wonderful when it’s asked for, I also find myself learning from their adult perspectives.

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  14. Michele, this is poignant as we near this stage in life too. Our oldest graduates in less than two months and our youngest is two short years behind him. It’s crazy how fast they grow. I appreciate your reminder that they will not always appreciate or welcome me in an advisory role in their lives . . . 😉 I’m learning how to make that transition with them now, but I imagine it’s so much more challenging to hold the tongue when they’re out and making decisions that may make me cringe. Thanks for sharing about this book!

    I shared on Twitter

    Like

  15. This is such a tender spot in a mom’s life, isn’t it? The place we’ve been working toward, but involves so much loss at the same time. It’s beautiful and hard and all the things in between.

    Like

  16. I will be navigating the empty nest path soon! My youngest is contemplating moving to Singapore to work and I am psyching myself up to face the eventuality.

    Thanks for this beautiful share, Michele!

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  17. Since I have not had children, this release, this change is not the same as a parent. But any change can become a time to allow God to mold me and grow me to become more and more Christlike. So that is my prayer for us each and all.

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  18. What a wonderful post, Michele. With young children at home, I often find myself yearning for an empty nest (especially this past year when the children have been home with me ALL THE TIME), but I also know that when the day comes, the transition will be a shocking one. I have many years yet to prepare for an empty nest, but I will remember these messages from the parents who survived the process before I did! Wishing your son much success with his new military career!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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  19. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. We appreciate your shares. They have been Tweeted Pinned. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
    ********************************************************

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  20. My youngest turned 5 today and my heart is aching for the baby days. I am thankful for the wonderful people my children are but I do feel like I grieve for them growing up and needing me less and less. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

    Like

  21. When my first child left home in 2019 I honestly grieved so badly and thought I would never see joy in life again. Now I have come to terms. Time heals. I enjoy our telephone chats and seeing how independent he has become. I have got to actively looking forward to the time when my next two find their place in the world too and then I can start working on mine after all these years. It’s good to talk about this parenting challenge like all the other ones. We are never alone. #MischiefandMemories

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    1. Oh, I do appreciate your sharing your story, because I think the empty nest lands on us all differently. I feel it in my bones, but I read stories like yours and know that there is so much good still ahead.

      Like

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