Tag Archives: change

Why Does Empty Nest Last So Long?

Blueberry wholewheat pancakes for Dad, Stephen, and me. Chocolate chips melting in Sam and20140630_084216 Seth’s. Even after Dad left for work we lingered at the table. They teased me for offering hot drinks from the Keurig. Said I always pushed it on them these days. I’ll never understand why the men of this family can’t fully appreciate the joy of a steaming cuppa.

Seth needed to get on the road, but still we lingered. Stephen commented on how it would be Thanksgiving before he had time at home again. Sam said he needed just a little bro time before everyone scattered, so the three of them donned tennis shoes and played football in the cul-de-sac like they used to when they were little.

I didn’t watch, but my ear was tuned to their return, the creak of the screen door, the deep voices bantering about their “perfect” plays.

All three of them teased me about the food we loaded into Seth’s ancient red car, but it will save him grocery money, and I have plenty to share. Seth tells me it’s enough. No more. But he’s been on his own long enough to see the value in dollar signs.

Healthy food. At least that I can give.

I don’t know where I got the idea that empty nest was a one time event. That once the last left everything hurt for a while and got better.

It’s not an event. It’s a season of marathons. The first leaves, and it hurts. Then the next and next, and they all hurt. And then before someone else leaves one comes back, but not to stay. And when you just get used to the latest transition, there is another. Sometimes one moves out the week (or day!) another moves in.

Then suddenly the house is empty.

I was excited beyond reason to pick Stephen up from college a few weeks ago. A mom anticipates with such fervor! But soon he leaves for his summer job, which ends the day before his fall job at the college starts.

Thanksgiving break is an eternity away.

Fleeting. Every moment flies abroad. You can’t hold on so you try to live inside the moments. To fully embrace the treasured gifts of time.

But as the moments flee you are caught inside, reeling, turning, turning, turning inside time’s bubble. And you have to find a way out.

To set your feet in the new now.

Lounging in the family room, daughter and husband reluctant to leave despite their exhaustion. But it’s hard to leave when we’re all there.

It’s so rare we are all there.

family shotIt is difficult to be productive. A few times last week before Sam’s graduation I got that feeling I had right after Bernice died, when the energy inside is suddenly gone and you can do nothing but sit for a while and stare at the walls.

Everyone acts like I should be fine because the youngest will live at home another year to take advantage of free local college.

But he is a revolving door, to work, school, friends, activities. This homeschooling momma isn’t needed for academics or much else, her input more interference than help as he steps into manhood.

And when they are all gone, whether for a day or a semester, the house is quiet.

So quiet.

Jesus whispers that He doesn’t want me to think of it like I’m alone. That I’m never really alone.

But I miss the Jesus arms that hugged me through the arms of my sons, the Jesus eyes that met mine through those big green ones of my daughter.

Sometimes I wonder if hubby will ever get home from work. His Jesus arms heal, too.

I want them to go. To grow up healthy without their mommy hanging onto them. I want them to20131228_112151 fly free and conquer their worlds. To find meaningful relationship and grow into adults and new families of their own.

I want to conquer my world, too, this new world where they don’t need much from me. Where I have expanded space to pursue my dreams.

But that, too, is slower, harder than I thought it would be.

At least so far.

Sometimes it’s actually fun when hubby is home. We find we can do whatever we want. Two. Without responsibility to anyone else. The kids call us teenagers when we curl up in our own bed, hooked on a Netflix series they wouldn’t watch.

But while hubby works that pesky quiet invades. It’s not just in the walls it’s roaring in my head and in my heart.

I’ve given myself permission to grieve. Maybe it’s time I give myself permission to stop grieving.

But I’m not sure I know how.

Expressing All that Excitement!

“Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?” IMAG0120

My boys responded with the teenage eye roll.

Maybe I tend toward the melodramatic, but hey, a girl’s gotta express all that excitement.

This morning it was over the working burner in my stove.

Time again to be vulnerable about a “private” subject. Since 2013 I shared here about losing weight inside and out. I’ve mentioned periodically our struggle with money.

There it is. The taboo word. Money.

Always paired with the word struggle.

But as I’ve lost weight Jerry and I have also fought to lose the poverty mentality. The attitude that money is always pain and struggle and worry. That there won’t be enough.

I admitted last week that we had some really hard times in the years surrounding Jerry’s near death, times when I couldn’t get groceries. During this season my stove went out. We found a free one on Craig’s list, but the front glass was broken in the oven. Soon after the main burner of the stove started working on only one setting: high.

This morning I put turkey bacon in my skillet and used my favorite burner on medium. MEDIUM! Hallelujah. See, little by little, (and sometimes huge project by huge project), the nagging things that have made me feel pushed down are being fixed, replaced, repainted, re-purposed.

It’s amazing what a new oven door or fresh coat of paint or new fabric on old pillows does to that weary, poverty mindset.

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Picked a nice grey accented by white for my entryway.

 

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The walls are “stone white” and the trim a high gloss white. The china cabinet used to be bright blue, but it is now the color of the wall opposite it. The back of those grey pillows is the original blue fabric, which makes them feel custom made!

Yesterday we got new carpet. NEW CARPET throughout downstairs. The old carpet was original to the house 30 years ago. And I always hated the color. LOL.

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it’s so soft and squishy!!!!!!

Today? New shelves for the freezer. After the old ones broke I was determined to not be angry every time something fell out. It took a while to afford replacements, but thanks to that $75 needed, this is no longer an issue.

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Can’t count the times that jar of yeast almost hit my toes!

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Toes are feeling much safer now!

A friend tells me, “inch by inch it is a cinch.”

And it’s true. A little effort and money here. A little more there. It’s getting done. The upgrades long overdue in my home are actually happening.

The temptation has been to not even start these home projects. There are many, and we are weary. To be candid the first project was thrust upon us, and we had no choice.

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Coming home to old wall paper gone and new sheet rock hung.

But over the last three months much has been accomplished, and I have a peace about my home that is natural. It’s a peace I fought for, sometimes several times a day, when the need for repairs or the lack of beauty threatened to send me into despair.

During those lean years I changed patterns in how I lived, hanging out in rooms that needed less work so I didn’t get pulled down by the bad carpet or old paint. I cut fresh roses and brought them in from outside or made cloth napkins from old fabric to add beauty to each day. I lit a candle. Played some Beethoven. Used the pretty dishes. Cleaned out clutter.

Tried to give the family good memories by working hard to make a big meal even when I felt overwhelmed with the improvisation of cooking without a trip to the store.

We learned a lot in those years. The kids don’t take a gift for granted. Their hearts are tender when they see a need. They work hard. (They have some wounds, too, which I ask my Lord to heal.)

I learned to pray hard. That even in the worst of times I could find something to share with someone else. To find joy in little things, like those 1,000 gratitudes I wrote in marker on my ugly wall. (By the way, it took about seven coats of paint to cover that!)

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I learned to treasure the gift of laughter, of a peaceful home life, of friendship and walks in the sunshine.

The best things in life really can’t be bought.

I learned that God cares about little things. Like when I craved mangos in my weight loss shakes, but couldn’t afford them. I prayed for them and was given a whole flat that were on the verge of being too ripe. I cut those mangos up, froze them, and enjoyed them in my shakes for weeks!

My journey has not been as intense as others. A friend of mine went without food for some time as did her son. Both left the bag of a few cookies on the counter for the other to eat, choosing hunger over taking the last bit of food. I haven’t been hungry like that. But my own journey was significant for me. I fought hard to find joy and to rise above the broken things and broken places in my home and in my heart. Sometimes I cried. Many times I found victory after the tears.

As we’ve worked together in my home I’ve learned new skills like caulking, painting, and using a power tool. This knowledge also helps me rise above my circumstances to create the beauty I crave in my home.

Today I am grateful.

For the lessons learned.

For feeling like I can breathe.

For the fact that I shopped for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal without worrying if I would be able to pay for what I need.

I’m grateful for a new fence, new carpet, painted walls, working burners, shelves, and oven fronts. For a new-to-me couch and end tables. For pillows a friend and I sewed that spruced up furniture I already had. For new dish clothes and new shoes.

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I’m grateful for children who dug out old fence and scrapped off old wall paper and filled in holes in sheet rock. For a friend who contributed resources and taught us and for other friends who gave of their time and skills. For a husband who refused to abandon me to finishing projects even when he was bone tired from an eleven hour shift at work. Who fixed my stove burner and installed that new oven door. Who, with our son, helped hang shelves.

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Notice the old carpet! NOT my favorite color.

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Loving that new carpet beneath my new shelves!

I’m grateful for a God who is returning to us the things stolen during the hard season. For a God who cared even about the perfect painting to set the theme for my remodeled room and the 50% off candles that tied the colors of the new sectional together with the blues and greens of the walls.

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For a God who is teaching Jerry and me to live outside of the fear of not having enough and to trust Him as He teaches our hands to create the provision we need.

All our circumstances have not changed. But we are moving into a new season. We are dropping the weight of a poverty mindset.

We are learning a new place of freedom.

How about you, my friend? What’s your relationship with money? Is it friend or foe? Is there stuff at your house that drives you to despair? If so, what CAN you change? You might not be able to buy new carpet, but how about covering some old pillows or cleaning out a clutter pile?

If you’ve never had old carpet, old furniture, or old paint, have you realized what a gift that is? What about the intangibles like love and joy and peace?

May the God of all fill your (and mine!) heart to overflowing with gratitude and joy.

May He empower us all to lose the weight of the money issue and embrace the truth that He has provided and will continue to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Until next time,

Paula another test (401x192) (2)

 

 

 

Destruction or Progress?

IMAG0591Could it be that life is like home projects–that the tearing down is necessary before the building up? And that the demolition of the old takes much longer than ever anticipated?

We are on week 5 of the fence project.

The old fence had to go before the new one could go up. Knocking it down wasn’t that hard. In fact, I think the knock-it-down crew found the process rewarding–all that flexing of the muscles and cheering as a section fell.

But then . . . oh the agony of digging into the hard earth to pull out huge cylinders of hardened cement, still there, still stubborn, despite the fact the the poles above the cement were weak.

Too often i’m like that cement, tenaciously holding onto the past, onto the old me, when the winds of change have weathered the old foundations into something no longer usable.

Sometimes I even get it. I know the way I’m thinking or acting isn’t working for me. I know something needs to change. And I try to tear down the old. The surface stuff falls away. For awhile I think I’ve made the necessary transitions only to find a nubbin of the old pole stuck in a big ole slab of concrete.

Getting that sucker out is grueling. It means letting go of the fear that I can’t change as well as the fear of the change. It can mean deep grief. Digging far enough to get that long buried hurt, that hardened place out of me. Not only is it tough work, it often means anger and tears and sadness, and emotions I don’t want around. But that rough old rock isn’t going to budge without coaxing.

There are all kinds of digging tools. Shovels and hoes and pick axes. Believe it or not one of the best for digging around the slabs and reshaping the hard ground of our fence was an old tuna can.

Isn’t that life, too? Little questions work the soil of our heart as we are faced with change. Then maybe unwanted adjustments, like loss of relationships, income, or other places of security, loosen it further. When life gets crazy enough we loosen our iron-clad grips on status quo.

The first few cement blocks of our old fence were slow to release from their long held home. Lots of digging by different tools. Back-breaking labor, but eventual success.

But it got a little easier. A friend loaned us a tool that made those cement chunks come out in half the time.

Maybe that’s what allowing real emotion does. Maybe anger, or tears, or plain honest grief loosens up the soil of my heart so the hard stuff is released.

Getting those cement casings out was by far the hardest part of our fence-building process. I think the tearing down of the old foundations of our schemata of life is the hardest part, too.

Much of the thinking that holds us back from the life we long for is based on foundations begun in childhood. Our little souls began building them when we had too little experience to do the work justice. We built how we saw God, ourselves, others, and the journey of life on limited information. Some of it was even faulty–like the words that told us we were inadequate or unlovable. The times there wasn’t enough justice or money or hope or relationship to go around. Or how about this one–the angry finger of religion that said we had to shape up and how but that we’d never be good enough no matter how hard we tried.

This list is unending. And it’s built on a limited perspective of the chaos of the world instead of the hope we find in God and the good He offers.

But we don’t have to hang onto the hardened places in our hearts.

You may not recognize God’s construction crew when He come to build something new and good. At first, it may look more like a wrecking ball.

IMAG0574My friend, if you feel crushed today, like what you thought was supposed to be yours has been shattered or torn away, or like there’s a creaking in your heart and something long buried is being exposed, take comfort!

Ask the Creator what’s up. Maybe something new and good is coming. Something so beautiful it could never be built with the old places of your heart hardened like concrete and stuffed down deep.

Once that old chunk of cement is removed, He’ll begin reshaping the hole, then, with your permission, He’ll refill it with the new. And something strong and beautiful will be under construction.

May His peace strengthen and heal you in the tearing down season and the joy of a new morning blow you away when construction begins.

My fence is nearing completion. After several long weekend work days all the old cement is out and new concrete formed around sturdy, new posts.

Today a friend and I finished framing out the last two sides. All that is left to frame is a new gate.

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About half the fence is new and beautiful, the fresh fragrance of wood tantalizing in the crisp autumn air. The process has felt excruciatingly slow, but the there is great pleasure in the strength of beauty of the new.

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Until next time,

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*As I wrote this blog  a couple of thoughts from Scripture came to mind. One of them is a treasured favorite of mine: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26

I was also reminded of Matthew 9:16-17

 

 

Free Spirits and Tools of the Trade

phoneCounting calories is so not me.  I’m a free spirit who hates numbers and isn’t too crazy about routine.  I don’t like that much structure, and I hate math. Yet when I first started losing weight I tracked my food religiously. It was hard, but I found it a necessary tool in meeting my goal. I believe refusing to take this step would have been self-sabotage. Getting the My Fitness Pal App on my phone helped a lot–it did the math and already knew many of the calorie counts for the food I ate.

Eventually I tired of counting calories, but I stuck with it long enough to get the general idea of the “price tag” of the foods I was eating. Equipped with this knowledge I can “budget” my food much more wisely. For the first time in my life I have a sense of how much that cookie really “costs” and what a “great deal” all that lettuce is.

I bring this up because certain personalities (like mine) rebel against such structure. I couldn’t sustain calorie counting forever; it would drive me crazy. But I did need to step outside my comfort zone for a few months so I could learn the “truth” that would set me free to make better and more educated decisions for the rest of my life.

As I edited the above thoughts conviction hit. There are some new “tools” of the trade I need to embrace as I’m making changes in my work life, seeking to fit more into the day and feeling scattered and not nearly as productive as I’d like to be.

I’m considering structure again. A more detailed plan for time management. A stricter schedule. I’m not sure what that is going to look like, but at least I’m to the point of being open to exploration of the concept, despite the fact the idea makes me what to kick and scream. (Ya’ll can pray for me.)

What about you? Are there areas where you self-sabotage in weight loss or in life rather than step into a place of discomfort, even for a season?

Even a free spirit sometimes needs a little structure here and there.

Epiphany # 3

IMAG2579-1You may have noticed I skipped Epiphany #2. It seems I’m not ready to write about it yet, that it is still too tender, too precious, too scary even, to share.

Someday.

On this blog.

At just the right time I will turn to July 9, 2013 in my journal and finish the thoughts I began in my first epiphanies post.

Today I can only hold tight to the promises of my Father and move on to a new conversation. It’s not that I doubt, it’s just that the future is far away. For me, at least. To Him it is like a snap of a finger.

Let’s just say that by my next entry, August 11th, I was angry again and confused, in a very different place that that joyful conversation in Breckenridge.

And the Lord was good, as usual. I knew I could say anything on my mind, and it wouldn’t freak Him out.

I started with, “Please heal me from whatever it is that is afraid and hard within me.”

You’ve been angry with me.

“Yes. And that makes me angry with myself, and yet self-accusation doesn’t make me any less angry with You.”

It never does. 

And so the two of us talked about the long haul. How I so often felt without control. How I’d given Him permission for deep change, and how that takes time.

Then He loved me. Said really sweet things to me, things that proved once again He thought better of me than I thought of myself.

Funny how when he complimented me I quit being angry with Him.

At the end of our time He showed me that I’d been begging Him for scraps when He wanted to lay an abundant table before me.

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it sent me on a journey of discovery.

Epiphany #3 was a part of that discovery. Epiphany #3 shocked me.

It happened at a Life Force training. I was there mostly for Jerry because he had to work his day job. I wasn’t fully invested in this new business. I saw myself as standing on the sidelines, supporting where I could, and cheering my husband on, “Good job, honey. Go! Go!”

But that day it suddenly it became clear that this wasn’t Jerry’s journey alone, this was my journey, too. That the Lord wanted me to be a business woman. In the excitement of that moment, and for several days afterward I was thrilled! I sensed the Lord smiling, cheering me forward. I recorded what I believed to be His heart:

. . . I have given you a place to stretch and develop the skills you need for the next stage of your journey. It is not a divergent path. It is one of balance. Sometimes my directions will conflict with your desire, just as it has in raising your family. You will have to juggle congruent, concurrent paths, but they will not be divergent. Be sensitive to Me, My child. It will keep us connected and close as you pray through next steps and pay attention to My direction.

And so I rejoiced and rushed off to tackle my new life.

Unfortunately all that wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I guess I should have paid attention when He said stuff like I was given a place to stretch and that His direction would sometimes conflict with my desires.

More about that next time.

Stretching into a new place

Punctuated with a Blossom

This morning Mother Nature wrapped up my pruning posts, punctuating them with a big, pink bow–er .  . . blossom.

One of my favorite rose bushes looked decidedly unhealthy this spring. I watered it, feed it, watched it, but it didn’t regain health. In desperation I pruned it almost to the ground, hoping to give it a chance at growing properly even though the time for cutting back seemed long past.

At first I wondered if the bush would be a little sticky stump all summer. Then suddenly it shot up, three long branches climbing toward the sky. A few days ago I noticed buds. They looked a little strange on the edges, and I wondered if they would even unfold.

Here’s what greeted us this morning:

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Not only had the bush survived the harsh cutting of the shears, it offered what may be the most beautiful and fragrant blossoms of any of my 8 rose bushes.

The deep pruning produced great dividends.

If you read those two pruning posts earlier in the week, (Cutting Away and Another Lesson from the Roses), you know what I’m trying to say. Sometimes we make choices for health–inside and out–that seem drastic.

Big changes.

A deep cutting away.

And though there may be a season where it seems all for naught, eventually wise change produces great return.

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Don’t give up on your journey to better health, my friends. The joyful results are breath-taking as you reclaim your life.

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Wise change brings breath-taking beauty

(PS. If all this pruning talk makes you think of other areas of your life, not just sugar or McDonald’s french fries, you might want to tune in on Sunday. Several years ago I wrote a devotion about pruning. I’ve decided to share that tomorrow on Spirit Seeker Sunday.)

Weight Loss Journey Day 37

I’m panicked. Now that the world knows I’ve lost almost 20 pounds, can I keep it up??

Here’s what I posted to Facebook on November 29 in response to going public with my weight loss journey:

Remember when I posted that I was horribly embarrassed and asked you to pray for me about 2 months ago? I said if things worked out, I’d tell you about it someday. I had just applied as a beta tester for BeNew. I had to send in a picture purposely showing all my fat. I was horrified at the picture, embarrassed with the numbers I turned in. Sad I’d allowed myself to gain all that weight, unchecked. Afraid I couldn’t do anything to change it.

When Life Force chose me to test their weight loss program, I was thrilled and petrified all at once. It’s been five weeks now. This morning the scale said I’d lost almost 20 pounds, which is 1/3 of the way to my goal. (Yes, do the math, that’s how out of control this thing had gotten.)

I’m excited that my pants are baggy, but there are other rewards that I am just as excited about, which are unexpected. I’ve found the joy again in movement. I have the energy and DESIRE to walk, swim, ride a bike. Last week, for the first time in YEARS I was walking through my neighborhood and couldn’t resist the desire to RUN.

I’m also blown away by my children and their perceptions of this journey. My daughter is the reason you’re seeing this post. I hadn’t yet gotten the nerve to be public about my journey, but she posted to her dad’s new fb page last night about how proud she is of me. It was a beautiful, make you weep post, but (and I know this was not her goal) it was also incredibly convicting.

She said that for 21 years she’d watched me care for my heart in hard times, but never my body. And it’s true. I was a perfectly healthy size at her birth. Four babies came in 6 years and I never worked to get the baby fat off. I became a writer and never balanced all that sedentary life with exercise. I cook mostly homemade and healthy, but I never paid attention to too many sweets or getting enough fresh foods. The nutritional support of the Life Force products had actually made me crave more healthy options.

My sweet husband never once complained as I packed on the pounds. He told me I was beautiful and sexy always. But I’m blown away by how much he is enjoying the new me. We are active together now, often taking long walks just the two of us. I regret the pleasure my choices withheld from him now that I see how much he enjoys my new attitude, energy levels, and body.

I still have a long way to go, which is why I hadn’t yet admitted this publicly, until last night when Sarah told. Or maybe that isn’t really true, maybe the whole admitting of how out of control my weight had gotten was just too hard for me.

I do know I could use your prayers.  I do know the LORD gave me this gift. I had prayed for about two years that He would show me what to do about my weight. Until BeNew came along,  I didn’t have what it took to tackle the problem. But when I heard about the chance to be a beta tester, I knew I was ready and that there would be a good nutritional, wise approach to help me find my way.

Please pray with me for complete success!

Real Time Update:

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January 31, 2013 – my updated picture for the beta test group

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Where I started back in October, 2012

Last night I saw the picture I sent to the beta group audition. I thought I would never, ever, ever show it in public. But if this blog is about encouraging others, I need to be vulnerable. And I think this picture speaks more loudly than my words. Change is possible.

I was out of shape. Not just heavy, but I had neglected movement as well as healthy portions. I was sluggish. Tired. Even found myself struggling to get out of a chair sometimes.

Freedom is returning. The nutritional support of BeNew has helped me gain energy and feel stronger even as I eat less. I have less cravings for unhealthy foods. I am exercising and enjoying the freedom of roaming the neighborhood.

My weight didn’t define me then, and being thinner doesn’t define me now. But my weight DID inhibit me and getting closer to the size I was created to be is freeing.

Friends, let’s move forward together for health! For life! For freedom to be all we were created to be–inside and out!

What About You?

How does all this hit ya?