Rewind: Empty nest reflections…Part 1

It was nearly a year ago that I wrote the post below. Yesterday, my Michael and I absconded for our annual day at the lake and I marvel at how different I feel, how God has done a work of healing in my mother’s empty nest heart since then. Next week I will share about my reflections on yesterday and how God grows us while helping us navigate the seasons of our lives, including tips for transitioning to an empty nest.


In this season of endless days that end too soon, we stop our world and all our work at Longings End to slow down.

To savor.

To spill our stress.

To take our fill of serenity.

Afternoon at the lake stretches out before us, and we stretch out on blanket basking warm in love.

Clouds overhead content to sit a spell too, before moving on in windless sky. Shapes changing, and we laugh on our backs as a duck waddles here and a scorpion walks there, and then we see clouds like a Cross.

His Cross, without which we wouldn’t freely be enjoying all His lush beauty. Our hearts wide open receive Him. Surrendering all to the One who gave all for us.

And a portal of blue peeks from white fluff, God winking down on us, His barefoot children playing in the sand. All of us.

Sand hot between our toes we walk quickly and Dearest Husband coaxes me into the water. Though it’s chillier than I like, I plunge in.

Splishing and splashing we race, and I don’t win. And we laugh some more.

And just for a moment, I catch a glimpse of them among the little ones playing in wet sand, or swimming, calling out Marco. Polo.

Three browned boys.

And my heart skips a beat the way they used to skip stones.

Fish glistening glides by and I remember their fishing net and how determined they were to bring a catch home for supper.

When the sun went down and the life guards went home, those three of mine would sit at water’s edge and build sand castles. Lost in the land of make believe that vanished as quickly as fairy dust sprinkled over the sea.

And those days of dinosaurs digging in the sand, the wisp of a memory.

So my Daddy reaches down and whispers that a season has ended, Daughter, exactly as it should.



Seasons change.

Time passes.

Past, present and future sometimes blending. So I guard the fragile present He gives me each morning, or lose the gift of today and never get it back.

This lake, swimming with shadows of the past, was a favorite cooling spot when my babies were growing into men. Men who have moved far away, other side of the Rockies.

Yet for the first time in a year, I step back and release — like a fish caught but too small to keep — and more freely swim among the fragile moments of now.

Accepting the passage of time though missing my sons, heart rests secure in Father’s love.

All of it a gift.

All of it His Grace.

Brimming with gratitude for what was, for what is, and for what is yet to be.

So I pass an invisible baton to the moms on the beach this day, the ones with bellies swollen and young children they will tuck in at night.

Wonder-full days full of little people full of wonder. Childhood more fleeting than summer.

And my once young-mother’s heart watches three boys of summer run down the beach, every step taking them further away. Footprints in the sand growing bigger and bigger until three men with shoulders square are walking into their own lives.

And I turn back to the man at my side. The love of my life. Dearest Husband who has waited but a split second not even aware I had left, and I wrap my arms around his neck.

Embracing him as I clutch this fleeting gift of now.

Teach us to number our days, Lord, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

That’s what His Word says. So I pray for wisdom to know that moments become days, and days become years, and years slip away like so much sand through my fingers. I squeeze tight, yet can’t hold on to them.

And when the sun slips low on the horizon we pack up. Rested and relaxed. Summer’s day at the lake restoring us.

We discover a village small and quaint where we eat pizza outdoors, early evening stilling.

Share the last banana split of summer. Icy sweetness twirling on tongues with every spoonful.

And childlike delight twirls inside me, and him.

So I tuck this day inside the secret chamber of my heart where all the precious pieces of the past sleep. This day when God held hours slow, all sun kissed and love drenched.

And then we hear a rumbling. Loud. And bells sound a warning as gate closes shut.

City train rushes by in a blur. My heart heeds a warning, too.

Stay in each moment, fully awake and receiving every drop of life He gives.

Blinking, time rushes by…



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22 thoughts on “Rewind: Empty nest reflections…Part 1

  1. I hear ya, Sheila. And I hear that blur of time rushing past you and me both! My empty nest days are almost here. My youngest is a senior in high school this year and will be going off to college before I know it! I honestly have mixed feelings about that next stage of life for me and all of my boys. Sometimes I’m so excited for myself and the extra time I’ll have to give to my marriage, as well as, excited for them and all the new adventures of adulthood that await each of then. And sometimes I’m fearful and very sad about it all and want things to slow way down! But God has been so good to me and my husband. We’ve loved being parents and can’t wait to see our son’s lives unfold with families of their own someday. Thanks so much for this eloquent and sentimental look at the empty nest. Just beautiful!

    • Thank you, my friend. And those feelings you describe are so normal…I have gone through them all, several times over. It was two years ago that the first of my sons {my middle boy} left home and then within 13 months all of them had moved out and on. Some days I have missed them terribly, and used writing as a tool to transition and cope! You will read next week how different my experience was this year at the lake…and it is so good to see God’s healing grace at work, slowly making my heart stronger for this new season. So, we will keep taking it all one day at a time, allowing Him to hold us on the good days and the sad days, knowing that to everything there is a season, and everything changes — but God! Bless you, dear Beth!

  2. Time flies! Seems so often we wish for things to “hurry up”, we rush through our days and forget that we are but a vapor. Thank you for reminding us to capture each moment, to live fully in the present as we look behind and ahead.
    God bless.

  3. Sheila, I LOVE this. I feel as if I am there with you, seeing and feeling all you are, given the beauty of your words. Love so much about it.
    Thank you for such a lovely piece.

  4. Oh I could hardly stand it! Since I too am a mother of My Three Sons, I was nearly in tears while reading this! And the picture…gulp!! Mine are out of the house and The Sweetheart and I are alone, together, as it should be in this season of life. We are proud of what the men they have become and the fact that they all three stay in contact with us nearly every day (thank God for texting too!) But I am like you, when I see the young mothers out with little blonde-haired, blue-eyed cuties, my mind goes back to those crazy days that I loved so very much. I miss it so! And the fact that they all three talk of their childhood so much with fondness makes my heart happy. Thank you for a beautiful post that we all could share in if only for a moment. And thank you for visiting me at my blog as well. Blessings to you and your sweetheart on your adventures! ♥

    • Oh Nannette — we can almost feel each others’ hearts, can’t we? And I agree, thank heavens for texting!! So wonderful that you and your boys are very close. Such a blessing. Thanks for stopping by. Blessings to you and The Sweetheart!

  5. I am so feeling this. Last fall was my first year with empty nest too. This year has been easier, but it still tugs at my heart, especially when I think of our own beach trips and how much fun we’d have.

    I need to get a date on the calendar for a beach trip with my hubby soon. We’ve talked about it but need to put it into motion. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • You are so welcome, Lisa. Our mother’s hearts will always tug, I think, but as we keep trusting our Abba with every day in all the season’s of life, He transforms our hearts, as I saw first hand Wednesday at the lake. I felt very different this summer. {And will be sharing those reflections at Longings End next week so I hope you’ll stop by.} And yes…put that date on the calendar. I am sure you will have as delightful a time as we did. Keep me posted! 🙂

  6. I’m one of those moms on the beach with little ones running around. I try to enjoy every moment because I know it will be over all too quickly.

    • Yep, it will. So savor each sweet moment given in the now! And when you feel like pulling your hair out from the demands of caring for little ones, remember…this too shall and will pass. God bless you in your MommieDaze and thanks so much for visiting Longings End.

  7. This is one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve read all summer. All ever! I felt it so strongly. I know I have little ones still, but sometimes time speeds ahead in my mind and I know it will go by like a flash. And I like to imagine myself still finding childlike wonder and having wonderful summer days with my husband.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Tamara. It does go by so very quickly, once you are looking back especially! So cling to the preciousness of now with your babies all the while building your marriage so that when your nest is empty, your hearts won’t be. Blessings to you…

  8. So beautiful but it touched my heart because I am counting down towards my empty nest. In the excitement of planning a Dec. 2014 wedding, dread sometimes sneaks in. Tomorrow as we shop for wedding gowns I will focus on the joy of this child I prayed for, delighted over and guided towards adulthood.

    • Oh Pamela…yes, focus on the joy of a job well done with your daughter. And weddings are so happy, especially those in the Lord that focus more on the becoming one for a lifetime than all the glitz of one glamorous day! I pray that you will enjoy all these blessed moments leading up to the Big Day and make special memories with your girl that your heart will hold forever…Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to encourage me with your comment.

      PS LOVE your name…all three times pregnant, my girls name was Pamela!

  9. So beautifully written. I am in that season of transition and I believe this is the hardest time in a mother’s life~especially for the mother of boys. Especially if they follow a path different from the values in which they were raised. It makes them pull even farther away as they know of our grieving hearts. So I’m learning to trust in God even for this and wear spiritual duct tape. I’m learning to reach out in love to son and fiance even through this painful transition. But the love makes it easier.
    So glad to find you here from Spiritual Sundays.

    • Dear Janis…I understand how you feel. And it does hurt. I love your line about spiritual duct tape…right over the mama mouth!! 🙂 I always remind myself that HE who began the good work in my sons and YOURS — IS FAITHFULLY COMPLETING it! He loves them so much more than we do and has plans that are good and full of hope. That is where we need to rest! Looking forward to getting to know you…