When the nest empties…

The rooms are almost empty. A hollowness rings down the hallways.

It’s like the heart of the house is gone, moved on. And this shell waits, longs for a new family to occupy this space with love and laughter.

And some days I feel almost empty, too. Like a part of me is no more.

A seed dies and gets buried before it can be born again into new life.

We die to selfishness so we can better love.

Jesus died on the cross that we might be made new in Him and live forever.

Seems there is always death before rebirth…

In letting go of what has been, I clear the way for what is becoming.

And perhaps that is why I mourn some mornings.

When I wake before dawn and the house is still and it’s just me and Jesus meeting in the quiet place. Like I have done for so many years. Rising while still dark and the house silent in sleep.

Only now there are no little blond heads nestled on pillows, still dreaming. No Breakfast and Bibles in an attempt to train three exuberant males into men of God.

Trusting always that He who began the good work in mine will faithfully continue until complete.

I always told them I was raising them to be Christian gentlemen, not barbarians.

One day, Second Oldest quipped, “No, we be barbarians, Mom!”

And how I had laughed and reminded him it was his turn to recite the scripture verse.

All these memories napping in my bosom that once nursed my baby boys.

No more racing to the corner to catch the school bus. The bus stop where a pair of boots on a toddler boy for an entire school year — rain, snow or shining heat — made for fun discussion among us young moms.

No more baths with all three rub a dub dub in the tub, and army men lined up and down the sides like sentries guarding a river valley.

No more tucking in with bedtime rituals that always included prayers, and stories and I love yous hugged tight around my neck.

No more checking on them in the middle of the night, quietly room by room, sometimes slipping in to lay a hand on and pray.

No more.

And my mother’s heart, like my womb, feels a bit empty.

Not empty of all the love, certainly. Never that!

But devoid of the daily doing for little ones. And the pleasure {though sometimes exhausting and frustrating} of serving tiny hearts.

In the twinkling of an eye those years, with their sometimes endlessly long days, have vanished. And I stand here, holding the hand of the dearest man I have ever in all my life known, my husband of nearly a year, and our eyes behold the Lord in all these things.

Knowing full well that He has walked with me in all these rooms through every moment during this passage of time.

To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven.

Intellectually I understand. Kids grow up and into their own lives. All right and good.

As a part of my life empties out, a new part of my life has me twirling cartwheels as I ponder what lies ahead!

A grand second half adventure dreamed with a man who adores me. Who I totally and devotedly love.

Heading off into the wild blue yonder, not sure where we will wind up. My heart skips a beat with the thrill of it all.

And traveling this road called empty nest does indeed get easier with time.

Last August when #2 moved to Hawaii I cried and cried and was sad for weeks thinking that all three of my babies were grown.

I am making progress, but my heart also tarries in yesterday.

And in those moments when I cast a glance backwards, I let myself linger for a little while, trusting that God is in control as He helps me navigate this new passageway.

Youngest Son, just returned from two weeks in Hawaii, quick as a wink is back to his routine of working long hours and spending evenings with his sweet girlfriend. Home only to sleep and shower most days.

Other two far away out West, new lives up and running.

And I whisper to the Lord, in a voice only He can hear, from my mother’s heart to His great Father heart…

“I miss them, Lord.”

And He pulls me a little closer, kisses the top of my head and says He understands. That He misses me like that whenever I choose to go far from Him or let myself get so busy I don’t spend much time with Him.

And I thank Him for letting me see inside His heart, helping me better understand how He must feel, convicting me in the gentlest of ways yet encouraging me to come a little closer and sit a little longer.

He, who orchestrated this time in my life, is ushering me through the transition. And it’s not like I sit crying in the corner each day, melodramatically lamenting the passage of time which is inevitable and expected.

But it is still a transition, a change, and change can be daunting.

Less so when we remember that Jesus stands right next to us with arms outstretched.

As He holds me a moment more, and I press into Him and exhale, He reminds me that the story isn’t over.

This chapter has ended but there are so many more waiting to be written.

These moments have passed but countless more loom on the horizon, to be measured by how much they take my breath away with His goodness and grace.

And I am humbly reminded that I must hold all loosely and be grateful for every moment entrusted to my care. To live life fully and joyfully and thankfully no matter what season it is. No matter where I may go.

Giving thanks for the darling I wake up to each morning. Such a tremendous blessing brought into my life at just the right moment.

And I remember that in trusting God with all the little details, He colors in the big picture of my life one day at a time.

Filling the emptiness with new things, people, places. New opportunities to reach others for Him. New service. New words to write.

With so much love to share.

Love that can light the way for the next weary traveler who will pass this way where I have been and I can say, Let Jesus carry you the rest of the way when you feel too weepy to keep walking.

And I will comfort her with the comfort I have received, having grown a bit through the process.  All of life is full of lessons in the moments.

And while my life is full, Jesus keeps pouring Himself into the emptiness I feel, with Dearest Husband’s love and companionship running over, and with a new adventure waiting.

And He will cause me to fill up once again…

~sheila

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17 thoughts on “When the nest empties…

  1. I know the fullness of your life will continue to amaze you as you and Michael walk into new “rooms” and see the adventure ahead. Your faithfulness as the mom of “barbarians” will find new avenues of sway and influence…while still touching the hearts of those fine men you have raised.
    The Father is pleased Shelia…very pleased.

  2. This is breathtaking to read. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, and giving us an insight into your beautiful heart towards God. There is often so much heartbreak in transitions, but it’s so wonderful how you’ve reflected on the reality of being emptied, but then being filled up again so we can give and serve again in another way, when the time is right. God bless you as you continue to navigate all of life’s circumstances.
    I also really appreciate the emotional perspective of someone who’s boys have grown, from the perspective of one who is currently in the daily cycle of continual need, fights and squabbles, and a constant bustle of activity 🙂 (my active little boys are 5 and 3).

    • And boys are indeed that, Ali. ACTIVE!! Most of the time too!! And it can be exhausting for a mom {or mum!} I read an article a long time ago written by a single mom who would pick her son up after work and then get easily frustrated by his wanting her time to play, being noisy, getting fussy, etc. She started dreaded evenings at home UNTIL the day she decided to change her attitude. She began by setting a positive intention about how the evening would go and that really helped her.

      And when we send our positive intentions prayerfully up to the Throne Room, He replies by tipping bowlfuls of grace in our direction…ENJOY EACH PRECIOUS MOMENT as much as you can. You will blink a few times and sooner than soon your boys will be bigger than you and driving off into their young adult lives.

      God bless you and yours…

      • I SO need to hear this right now. I think this is so true… and am well aware that something needs to shift in me (struggling to accept how chaotic life with boys is, if I’m honest). So thank you, I’ll be praying on this one, and asking God to fill my days with his joy, peace, positivity and acceptance of the gifts I’ve been given in my beautiful children 🙂

        • Amy Carmichael, Irish missionary to India many, many years ago once wrote a poem about peace…where she might find it…turns out “in acceptance lieth peace.” The moment we choose to surrender to what is…whatever our circumstances are believing that it has all first filtered through Father’s fingers as His will for us…then we find peace and much more joy. Even in my tower situation there came a point at which I surrendered to what was and did indeed find a greater peace, and even some moment of joy. I will life you and your little boys in prayer…you CAN do this, Ali. I’m rooting for you 🙂

          • Wow, this is so powerful, and in my heart I truly believe this is where I need to be. Accepting, and even delighting in, what I have, right now. Thanks so much for lifting us in prayer, and for being such a source of wisdom and support Sheila! xx

  3. You brought tears to my eyes!
    How easy it is to lose sight of God’s love, of the bigger picture. How easy it is to understand His love when we simply realize how much we love our own children.
    He is our Father!

    Wonderful post, thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you again for your very kind words…and here’s the Kleenex, TC! And you are so right…He has taught me much through my sons. It is very humbling and very sticking…sticking to my heart, helping me remember and learn….

  4. I can so relate to your post. Three of my kids have flown the nest already and one left to go in two more years. So sad to have them go because I loved our life together, but it’s also fun to watch them grow up and move out on their own. I just need to figure out what my new life will look like!

    • That’s exactly how I feel. Even though I was primarily a single mom for all the growing up years and it was tough, I LOVED our life together. And those summers that seemed endless…and chocolate chip pancakes on snow days…and so on and so on. But it also does a mother’s heart good to see them launch while we cheer them on.

      I am certain that God has something wonderful planned for your second half. This post may help you as you begin to sift through your possibilities and dreams…
      http://www.longingsend.com/2012/07/02/lifemapping/

      God bless you and your precious children…THANKS very much for your comment.

  5. I am so very proud of you, Sheila. You’ve weathered the extraordinary transitions of this past year with so much grace and determined love! You are a treasure…

  6. Sheila, a great friend, and wonderful mentor. I love your openness in sharing the depth of your heart, and your life experiences as you trusted God to help you raise three active boys. Most of all, your faithfulness to the Father that carried you through those challenging yet, rewarding times. I am right there with you in those empty rooms as you play the video in your mind pausing and stopping at those moments you long to treasure. When you close the door, never to return to that dwelling place the Father will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!
    In His many blessings to you and Michael, the Father gives you yet, another opportunity to pass on what you do so well, teach others about His love and faithfulness. Those ’empty’ places in your heart will be filled with…… I can’t wait to hear about them.

    Love you Sheila and Michael,

    • Dear, dear Marie…what tender, loving words, my friend. Thank you for your kind words and kinder wishes. My best to you in all the new chapters God is writing in your life, too! Love you right back!!