Tag Archives: empty nest

I’m Okay! Really!

No major life crises, no health issues, no shocking inner journey. Just space. Time. Preparing my kids and myself for the big leap to college, then processing the empty house and cleaning out drawers. Taking time to cry a little as a the kids step into adulthood. Rejoicing in a week vacation with a best friend. Choosing to be more interior, to spend a chunk of that time I often use for blogging to be private~me, my God, and my journal.IMAG0318  Taking time to ask who He sees in this new season for me.  I’m still hitting the sidewalks and trails and caring about being healthy inside and out. Blog posts are germinating, and as soon as it feels right, you’ll hear from me . . . special thanks to those of you who sent a little note recognizing my absence here. That meant a lot.

Until the posts start appearing again know that I’m here, still stretching, growing, even being a bit adventurous!

Until Next Time,

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Refreshment

20140722_093918-1The breeze brushes my face, wispy fingers cooling my questions.

It’s funny what conquers the ragged places. You think it will take something big–like getting the answers you want–but sometimes it’s the simplest relief.

Like this light wind whisking away the heat as we sit beneath the shade trees of our backyard .

It doesn’t answer the questions I asked last night. It doesn’t change the circumstances of frustration.

But it is LOVE.

And isn’t this life full of Him when I open my heart to see?

Conviction hits with that statement. It’s not always about my ability to open my heart. Last night’s questions weren’t coming from this happy, open place.

The breeze, this quiet moment away from the sweltering heat of my home and the suffocating heat of my heart is a gift. I didn’t earn it by being some goody-goody person living open and happy.

I have cultivated the notice of such by an intentional decision to say thank you. I did ask God last night for help when I felt the doldrums coming on. But I didn’t make the breeze. I didn’t force my heart open.

I think only God can open the heart. My will can ask Him to. My logic knows it is good for me. But the heart? That’s something different all together.

The heart is where HE lives. And He is hope. Joy. Peace. Love. All the things I long for. He opens this place to the Good.

When I cried out in the sweaty night, hot and tired, unable to sleep, He granted my body rest and awoke me to this day. This moment.

I’ve no doubt that His Spirit tempted me outside. It started with notice of wilting basil leaves, so thirsty.20140723_124649 Then the act of running up and down the stairs, back porch to plant watering jug in hand, awakened me to the possibilities.

Sam’s hot and tired, too. Maybe even more than I with all of his aching surgery hip and sitting in front of TV and gaming station, being tied to crutches, mostly trapped inside.

So we breakfasted in the breeze. Talked of everything and nothing. How this summer was his favorite summer of baseball ever. He thanked me for his childhood, precious son that he is, as we stared at the swing set which sits mostly still these days. I guess kids reminisce, too. Even as I silently mourned the decaying tree house, the lack of shrieking, giggling little ones, he celebrates the good, sees the big yard and the tire swing and dangling climbing rope and remembers. Happy. (And yes, I hear the lesson in that.)

Now we sit side-by-side, lap-tops perched on the patio table that speaks love, too (It once belonged to Bernice, and I know she would rejoice in seeing us here). We let the fresh air clear our head, cool our bodies, lift our spirits.

A pure, white butterfly flits by. Lands on the rose bush.

Bird song wafts on the breeze.

We believe again in season, in ups and downs, and how the downs don’t last forever. His crutches will soon be abandoned. The stuff that weighed on my emotions last night will pass. We remember that even in those downs there is relief. We discover gifts. Embrace love.

I am happy, too. Son beside me. Cool breeze refreshing.

Hope you’re finding joy in the simple pleasures, too, my friends.

Until next time,

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Ditch the Can, the Chair, the Dolrums

 

Ditching the Desert

I believe in giving oneself the space to heal after loss. That’s why I spent the last few weeks recuperating from the long hours of hospital stay 20140405_131421and eventual death of my beloved friend who was more like family. I slowed way down. Let the blog lie mostly silent. Spent a lot of hours in my (new) chair reading, being still. I’ve been taking time with the process. Throwing in the empty nest stuff I’m dealing with as well. Cleaning out old photos. Letting the tears drip. But even as I want to grieve well, I don’t want to live in the desert. And I certainly don’t want to gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose. So I’ve been returning to healthier habits, taking my BeNew, walking, choosing raw spinach and strawberries and cashews. I’m going to walk through this valley, but I’m ditching the desert by making good, refreshing choices that aid the healing process.

Ditching the Chair

Okay, so we did get rid of the “famous” old blue recliner where I rocked all my babies. My daughter was20131222_140949 devastated, but not enough to give the worn out rocker a new home. But even as the old blue recliner goes, my memories do not. All four kids piled into one big heap. Babies nuzzling at the breast. Older kids, hot with fever and usually too old to held, clinging to Momma, rocking through the long night. Quiet hours pouring my heart into my floral journals. Whispers of heaven as I talk to God and listen to His responses to my questions and pleas. Hot tea sipped. Novels devoured along with the popcorn and chocolate. I loved that old blue recliner, but I release it just as I must release the long season of child-rearing. (But not before I proved that I lost enough weight that my brother and I could both fit in it!)

Ditch the Can

For me the Ditch the Can movement isn’t so much about ditching a Redbull or Five Hour Energy. I wasn’t IMAG3027-1-3really into those things. But what I do need to ditch is narrow perspectives. I’m ready to live a freer life on my terms, not tied to a publisher or a time-clock for income. DTC is kicking into gear for hubby and me, showing us what it’s like to live outside the boundaries of traditional thinking and to step into a place where we can ditch a lot of stuff like debt, miserly living, worry about finances, small thinking, and boxed in living. If you want to know more, visit my new page on this blog.

 

 

Ditch the Sitting

Okay. I’m still going to sit. I love  my new recliner, moved from Bernice’s house next door into my living room. I’m in that chair now, typing this blog, clinging to a bit of her presence.20140507_100115 But I’ve been sitting too much. Getting slow and stiff. This week I decided, “ENOUGH!!” I’ve clocked about 15 miles in my tennis shoes the last four days. I saw an airplane tail hanging out of a house, inhaled the fragrance of three different colors of lilacs, and strolled with a fluffy bunny (for real!). I walked with hubby and walked alone. I walked without a destination and I walked to Gunther Toody’s to have lunch with a friend. I walked in silence, strode forward while talking non-stop to my husband, and clocked multiple miles in prayer. I walked in the sunshine, the wind, and the drizzle. (I did stay home when it hailed, however.) And you know what? I loved it. Every step, every vista, every conversation and even the solitude. And walking makes me remember how it heals to get into the fresh air and notice things like bird song and flowers, lilac scents and cloud designs.

Ditching the Have-Tos

canopyDuring this season of transition and grief one thing I’m for sure ditching is the expectations I too often place upon myself to manage according to some arbitrary “have-to.” The world pushes us to rush through change, to get over sorrow, to perform instead of live. To do instead of be. I’m ditching the have-tos. I’m choosing to weep when I want to weep. To laugh when I want to laugh. To read a book even if there’s laundry. To take care of my heart and not just the dishes. Sure I’m prioritizing the stuff the calendar requires. I’m not advocating total negligence. I still believe in being responsible even in the season of grief. But I don’t have to rush through this time. I don’t have to perform, perform, perform. I give myself permission to “be.” For as long as I need to. For interludes throughout my day or week. To pause instead of push. To sit under a tree and stare upward.

Until next time,

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PS If there is a theme to these random reflections, maybe it’s ditching the doldrums. Choosing not to let the hard times of life steal away the good–like hope and dreams for the future, getting outside and enjoying blues skies, embracing good memories even as I allow for grief and season change. Even the time to mourn is ditching the doldrums. That, too, is good. Healthy.

Introspection

20140422_191129I light four wicks, relishing the small flickering candles, a treat to myself this morning. Sitting at my well-loved and worn kitchen table, I pull out a devotional, make a cup of coffee, indulge in a chocolate treat. All next to pretty lights on a swatch of sunflower fabric.

My boys tease me about my obsession with finding tiny spots of beauty. But really isn’t this world full of it? Isn’t one of our callings as the created to grab hold of all the gifts of the Creator?

This brief moment of quiet beauty releases me. To this meandering of thought.

My blog has lain silent. I gave myself permission to take one day at a time, to laugh, to cry, to work. It takes a lot of time to separate households. After the loss of my dear neighbor, Bernice, more family than friend, the energy to move forward was cut in two. Her relatives shared many of her household go20140425_121212ods. I have new recliners.

A new TV.

Her red salt and pepper shakers.

That’s what I wanted most–to remind me of her. The love for red. The spunk.

They even gave us her car. The ones the boys drove so often these last months. Sometimes for or with her. Sometimes for their own pleasure. I think this makes her happy if she sees from her new home.

And in the gifts we reshape our home. Organize. Clean. It is good. It is exhausting.

It demands much time.

Bernice was generous with her basement. I don’t have one. She didn’t use all of hers. Over the years it became a safe place for the treasures my four children and I weren’t yet ready to part with. Stories and pictures crafted by stubby fingers. Stuffed animals. Train sets and dolls.

Now I’m forced to whittle back these mementos. There’s not enough room here for the treasures of four children now adults. So we declutter and reorganize the garage. Squeeze all 5 foot 9 of me into the crawl space beneath the stairs and do it again.

Boxes of memories line my family room. I go through each, one beloved memory at a time. Sometimes I have to stop and curl up on the couch. It’s not just physical. It is deeply emotional. And emotional steals energy just the same.

As I grieve the loss of Bernice, I’m face to face with the passages. Pictures of round toddler bodies. A story that starts out, “When I was born I got all the attention . . . then Seth was born, and he got all the attention . . . but then we played together, and it was okay because we had fun.”

A first grade rendering of Tolkien’s ents, green little leafy feet peeking out beneath a long brown tree trunk. And how did he know about ents at six years old?

Transition to empty nest continues. I force myself to make a trash pile. I keep way too much.

I don’t just grieve the season change, the children moving out and on. I grieve each lost friendship all over again. Some moved on because of location change or normal life restructure. With some the mother bear came out in us, and we couldn’t navigate each other as our children hurt, stretching in their own relationships, rocking the mommy boats. Pictures, cards that spoke of friendship that would never go away (but did). I probably should have tossed those, but I couldn’t.

Other relationships, too, that I couldn’t figure out.

Pictures of loved ones long with Jesus.

And it hurts all over again. And I climb under the covers and watch a chick flick. Mindless. Happy.

Have to stop feeling for a while.

A friend comes. She just sits. Listens to my stories of the day Bernice met Messiah face to face, questioning Jewish New Yorker who found her answers.

She lets me cry, this wise friend. Then sits nears as I face another stack of boxes. Her presence soothes. She helps me let go. She helps me diminish the piles that suck the life from me.

And life continues between spurts of sorting. The Moldenhauers apply to two more colleges, all the children stepping out.

Four in college. How can this be?

Four different locations. Four different lives growing from this one home. Next door to this one neighbor. Households entwined. Now separated.

But never separate.

From My Journal ~ A Mother’s Heart

sunflower candleThe gentle glow of a candle graces my kitchen table. All clutter is cleared from my view. In the background is my beautiful sunflower gift from my friend Kim. Red wine flickers with a hint of purple, just a little in a stemmed glass. A single cheese biscuit awaits my nibbling, resting upon a sunflower saucer.

Today I’ve moved like honey–sweet, gentle, and slow. Restorative properties come from such a rhythm.

It’s a pouring into myself, really, a healing from an intensive 9 days of pouring out to others.

Sometime deep joy feels almost like grief. Passages are right and good. Perhaps tears lubricate transition, easing the forward movement. The exhaustion of this day, spawned by ignoring my own physical boundaries in the need to serve, helps me embrace this day of sipping from the cup of change.

The place I am in this tiny space of time is also a culmination of spiritual outpouring. A repetition of days and sleepless nights pouring a mother’s heart before God, asking for outpourings of HIS heart for my children. That they would know Love. His Love. That they would be shaped by this, not anything else, certainly not despair.

The days of children slip through my fingers like sand in an hourglass. I see how little is left before the top half is completely emptied. Maybe when there is only see-through glass, maybe then I will be willing to turn it upside down and discover a new life, but not now. Not yet.

I don’t try to hang on. It would do no good. It would harm. So my fingers are open. The goal is to experience the sensations of letting go. To rejoice in the passage. To cry when I need to. No going numb. No clinging to the past.

But the sand’s pace is furious. And my heart finds it difficult to learn that hurried rhythm.

What’s funny about today’s tears is I”m not sad even though I grieve.

There’s actually new hope, new joy. Motherhood’s joy has extra validation today. The prayers cast like bread upon water have washed back to me, swollen with possibilities and wide, grand, newness.

I’m an old romantic. Time may prove me naive and mistaken in my musing of these saturated bread crumb dreams. Still this moment. For this fleeting sand of time, I feel dreams launched. Decades of prayer fulfilled. The tears fall, in part, because the dreams are worthy. the whispers of their fulfillment worthy, the life in process worthy.

After a week walking my friend through the valley of the shadow I sensed myself cloistered and safe. I experienced abundance, blessing, doors wide open. Amazed and breathless I felt HIS whispers of approval. Of Love.

My thoughts flow in a stream of bubbling gratitude, then meander in the awareness of the True FaithJournal and how His faithfulness flows for me.

Humbled by joy so deep I cry like one who mourns.

Who will ever understand a mother’s heart?

Only the One who gave it to her.

Monday Morning Makeover ~ Opening to Good in 2014

How can you open to the good of 2014?

Reminder: I DO Have a Life

I’ve had a life for a long time. And it doesn’t only revolve around the kids or even Jerry. As all of them are less home-centered and stretching to new places, I am reminded of two things: 1) It’s okay to cry 2)I DO have a life outside of my family.

Part of a BENew journey is embracing changes. In the last year I’ve processed lifestyle changes, thinking differently about food and movement. I’ve enjoyed (and sometimes struggled with) the changes that comes with having a different body. As my homeschooling family is growing up by leaps and bounds, I process change again. I hope to transition well, to give my loved ones wings to soar solo and to stretch new wings myself.

Today’s pictures are a celebration of this other part of my life, the world of writers, where I find community and stretch for new heights. Colorado has a lot of wonderful opportunities for writers. As Colorado Coordinator, I’m most involved with ACFW Colorado, but there’s a wonderful spirit of cooperation in our area with other writers groups, including Words for the Journey. A few weeks ago a bunch of writers, both WFTJ and ACFW members, gathered at the invitation of WFTJ to a “write-out” at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

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My thoughtful friend and fellow author, Megan DiMaria, makes sure I know about this event each summer and invites me to share it with her and the others.

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Megan used to be teased at her work because she brought a beautiful tablecloth to enjoy her sack lunch upon. She’s one of those rare people who truly savors beauty, and the Broadmoor is is a Megan kind of place.

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My Broadmoor day was so filled with magic, that I just had to dance in the empty ballroom.

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I pray I can dance into and through this latest transition of celebrating kids who do crazy things like get married and go to college.

And, because this blog started to process weight loss, I’ll admit it. I also pray I can ignore comfort food and seek comfort that makes a difference. This latest test of my new lifestyle is fierce and with it comes cravings I really should ignore. They only mask the real need, for me to recognize the passing season and give permission for mourning.

When Stephen drove away for his first day of “real” school away from me, I curled up in my old blue recliner and had a little talk with the Lord. I cried some, not sobs, but big bubbles of tears that slid silent and wet down my cheeks. But they are not just sad tears, they are proud tears, too.

This is how it should be, this transition, this quiet house. And I must remember to let the tears fall, take a walk, listen to music, or read a little, instead of reaching for some big cheesy mess.

How about you? What tempts you to run to the arms of comfort food? What do you do instead?

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Comfort or crash?