My friend Donna Cronk is a beautiful person inside and out. She is a reporter at our local paper and I have been thrilled to learn from her about writing and book publishing. She is an encourager and she loves to use her writing to shine the light of Christ.
Donna has been an empty nester for a few years now and I just love that God has opened so many doors for her.
I always try to learn what I can from people who are a season ahead of me in life. It can make the path of life much easier!
Today we are swapping blog posts. I asked her to write this blogpost about her testimony and I know it will encourage many of you who are approaching the empty nest season.
Growing Through the Empty Nest
They say the
Peace Corps is “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” I don’t know about that,
but it’s what I’ve always thought about being a mom.
hard, this mom thing. Sam was born with a heart defect and we went through
scary surgeries with him. Then came Ben, who cried nearly every waking moment his
settled into a routine of normalcy and there were soaring moments: a grand-slam
homerun here, a glowing health report there. There were pizza nights and family
vacations, Colts games and supper on the stove. I loved raising our sons, and I
couldn’t imagine my life once they fled the nest.
Truth is I
dreaded the empty nest with a passion. What would I
with my evenings without baseball and band, soccer and Scouts?
How would I sleep wondering if the
boys were in bed, safe and sound? How long
would I go without hearing from them?
And worse, I
wanted a do-over. I wanted to take back the occasional harsh word, be more
, for all of us to attend
Sunday-school classes instead of sleeping in, be less critical, smile more,
read to them more. Be less tired. I could do better. Why
I done better?
berated myself because I thought I should be more prepared for, not undone by,
the inevitable empty nest.
before I was ready, they were raised. On a single, late-August day, they
moved out: one to a city apartment,
the other into a college dorm. My husband, Brian and I moved them both that day
and by midnight back home, our house felt haunted by their absence. Neither boy
would be coming home. I was overcome by sadness, the silence so loud it was
“God, what could You possibly have
for me now? What could be half as engaging as raising those boys?”
I pouted. For a long time. I’m not
proud of that.
I had gone
from a full house to an empty nest in one day. Ben would still return summers
and for a time after college graduation. But life had shifted on that August
day to our post-kid era.
several things that autumn. I joined a Monday-night Bible study. Tuesday
mornings I arrived ultra-early in the town where I work for a community-leadership
my older son’s room, which he had stripped of furnishings for his new digs, I
felt pain. On his closet floor appeared a stray Batman cape from a childhood
action figure. Bits and pieces of his youth remained, shed like old skin he no
longer needed. My husband urged me to redecorate his room. Get a new bed,
paint, the works.
So I did.
I was busier
than I had
been, trying to push
back sadness with study and activity. Brian, on the other hand, had a new pep
step. “This is what you raise
them for!” he boasted, not understanding my state. “Would you rather they stay on
the couch all day, not go to school or work?”
One day during
all of this Brian made a seemingly unrelated comment that somehow unleashed my
imagination. He said, “When we retire, I can’t think of any place I’d rather
live than Liberty, Indiana.”
Now this was
a surprise. Liberty is a little farm town of no particular pedigree. It’s my
hometown, and where we met when Brian arrived as a new teacher. My parents have
passed away but I still have family there.
I don’t know
if we will ever
the idea of starting over back home, of returning to the comfort of our roots
got me thinking that my life wasn’t over just because the boys were grown.
Maybe God had something new for me:
“And I am certain that God, who began
the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished
on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” – Philippians 1:6.
during all of this, I began writing a fictional tale about a woman who has a
series of losses - her husband, her job, the hands-on mothering of her sons – so
she returns to
hometown and opens
a bed and breakfast.
But the move
didn’t solve her problems. It brought new ones. She had to decide that whatever
happened – if she lost her inn, if loved
ones didn’t support her, if her finances went belly up, if life in her hometown
didn’t work out – if she believed that the
Lord was at her side through it all, and she leaned into Him, it would all be okay;
she would have what (Who) she needed.
And I had to
make that decision too. I am a Christian and I believe that God gave me this
fictional story to work through my empty-nest angst. He showed me that He
doesn’t want us to be so attached to any particular age or stage or place or
people that we can’t move forward to what he has for us next. He knows what we