Sep 12, 2011

Meanderings about the Fast-Approaching 'Empty Nest'

Life is changing. I've sensed the sillhoutte of 'empty nest' lurking just beyond the horizon the last few years, but now see it positioned squarely in the middle of the roadway, despite my objections and denials.

When we have our babies, we know somewhere in the back of our minds that the day will come when they will be ready to leave the nest and pursue life on their own terms. But nursing, diapers, developmental skills, social skills, family times and such keep our attention in the present. Save the occassional frustrating day where we look forward to their self-sufficiency, we don't spend much thought there.

Then, one day, when 2 of your 3 have left the nest and your baby is starting her senior year, you begin to see those early days have mystically become treasured memories and your present is now comprehensively focused on the future. Her future...your future.

In our family, we made the deliberate choice that I would stay home with our children. Day in, day out, I've tailored the plans of my life around theirs and have done so with joy. Mommy and Me groups, play dates, gymnastics, swim lessons, horseback riding lessons, Vacation Bible School, homeschooling, birthday parties, sick days, pediatric appointments to dermatologists, dentists, and doctors filled my calendar week to week, month to month, spilling from one year into the next.

I looked at my calendar the other day. The items on it have changed. We now have things like ACT testing, college campus visits, college application deadlines sprinkled randomly thoughout the year. All medical visits are no longer pediatric and play dates don't include mom. When she needs to be somewhere, she gets in the car and drives herself there and back. In lieu of being there to witness ongoings in her day to day life, I listen to her summary over the evening meal.

It would be easy to feel unnecessary, as if I've worked myself right out of a job.

But, mostly when I'm on my knees, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper into my soul praise of the young woman she's becoming and I know my fingerprints - however faint - have been there. Her time is arriving and she is shining.

Empty nest looms around the bend. What of my days? Fortunately, the Holy Spirit whispers reassurances there, too. I have no idea how mothers who are not Christians navigate the overwhelming sense of change and concerns about loneliness that abide on the sidelines of this time of life. The Holy Spirit helps me with perspective and comforts me with reassurances of continued purpose for my life in a new direction and I know I would be like a frightened animal tangled in a barb-wired fence without Him.

My marriage is strong and I enjoy the companionship of my husband - my best friend. I know he, too, holds memories of days gone by and will settle in for a pleasured stroll through the past over a cup of coffee with me when I feel the need to revisit what used to be my life. Likewise, he will cheer me on in new directions as I discover life after Motherhood.

Life will be different, but no less rewarding. I trust this because I know God has a plan for all the days of my life, not just the ones that held the title "Mommy".

So here we go, moving forward toward new adventures and the accumulation of new memories that will spread far beyond the boundaries of our address and the little home where we all grew up.

Jun 15, 2011

Rest in Peace, sweet Maggie

Sweet Maggie passed away today while sleeping in the afternoon shade of her favorite old tree.  She lived all 14 years of her life with us and we will miss her dearly.  Thank you, Maggie, for your faithfulness even when your howling drove us nuts.  We'll miss your 2am baying at the trees so much more than we ever imagined.

Nov 30, 2010

Here we grow again!!

Little Willow Evelyn arrived with a wail heard 'round the land at 11:20 this morning, weighing in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces!  Both mom and baby are doing beautifully and this granny couldn't be prouder of them both!

Feb 24, 2009

The Grandster at 2 months...

...and my personal favorite...

Jan 28, 2009

We forgive because we must, although there's no denying...

"Grace glides on blistered feet."
~Alice Abrams

...and my feet hurt today...

Jan 23, 2009

Meredith, Christmas 2008 Recital

Isn't she beautiful?

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!

Jan 22, 2009

The Grandster, Dean cup runneth over...

Jan 21, 2009

'nuff said.

Jan 20, 2009

So I decided I needed to know how many days I’ve lived. I plugged the dates into an online calculator that takes Leap Year into account.

Grand total:
18,036 days

As of the moment I hit enter:
432,864 hours ~or~
25, 971,840 minutes ~or~
1, 558,310,400 seconds

I’m trying to decide what percentage of that time has been fruitful. So I decided to take the next five minutes and - in the name of fruit-ality - take stock of the time...

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the first 5 years were all productive – lots to learn in those years.

The rest…

I have been/am a daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, niece, cousin, wife, mother, grandmother, friend.
I got an education.
I married.
I gave birth to 3 children and have raised 2.75 of 'em.
I have been a houseparent at a children’s home, a youth director for a Baptist church, a secretary, a salesperson at a clothing store, a guardian ad lidem for at risk children, CPR instructor, respiratory therapist, teacher.
I blessed some folks, hurt others. I can only hope the blessings outnumber the hurts.
I’ve done smart stuff and stupid stuff. Ditto to the above statement, hoping the good outweighs the bad.
I’ve adopted/bought/brought home and cared for 18 animals, give or take the few I forgot or imagined.
I’ve had licenses to drive in 4 states.
I’ve owned 8 cars…some new, others barely running.
I’ve buried 9 friends and 5 family members.
I’ve belonged to 5 church families.
I’ve been a good example and a bad one. Let’s say for the sake of my ego, I was a good example more often.
I've laughed heartily and wept bitterly. I'm blessed to be able to say I've laughed more.
I've forgiven and been forgiven. I'm sure the latter is in greater abundance - God's forgiveness alone settles that question.

Obviously, I don’t know the remaining number of my days, but I intend to spend them more deliberately than the ones behind me.

Love more, forgive more, help more, trust more, pray more.

And all the other stuff that never did anybody any good needs to just stop. Waste of time, it is.

Jan 19, 2009

Jan 18, 2009

Jan 17, 2009


It’s a quiet Saturday morning. Meredith is away for the weekend and Mark is at work, so it’s just me and our menagerie of animals. I’ve been sitting here at the kitchen table with my coffee, looking around and noticing everyday things I’m usually too busy to see. Little things; the kinds of things that can swell in your heart and define the quality of your life. Sweet.

To my left is our giant fido, Jeffrie, chewing on his squeaky toy – this dog’s rhythm could rival the best musician’s. Squeek, sq, squeek, squeek…one,two,three…squeek, sq, squeek,,two,three… squeek, sq, squeek, squeek…and so it goes. My foot is tapping along in spite of myself. We make eye contact. His tail wags. I grin. And the concert resumes.

In the family room to my right, two cats are snuggled in front of the fire bathing each other, the two most unlikely of our cats acting like friends. Sudden change as -Ouch! - Sophie resents Henry’s unexpected bite. Tender moment over, they’re off and running with a few other cats joining in; four cats racing, only two of them knowing why.

Through the window in front of me, I can appreciate the cold of the day without being in it. The wind rearranging leaves in the gray of the morning accentuates the falling temperatures.

Suddenly, I see something that breaks my serenity. Oh man. There it is. In the corner by the porch is a large wad of shredded paper. All hope that Jeffrie has been falsely accused of stealing our neighbor’s papers dies.

So ends the quiet. So ends the peaceful. JEFFRIE!!!

Jan 16, 2009


(telephone ringing)

Me: Hello?

Him: Mrs. P.? This is Billy, from across the street.

Me: Hi, Billy! How are you?

Him: Well, not so good.

Me: I'm sorry to hear that.

Him: Yeah, I need your dog's help with something.

Me (raising eyebrows): Oh?

Him: Yes ma'am. Have you noticed any ..umm.. extra paper in your yard lately?

Me: Extra paper? No, can't say that I have. Why?

Him: Because your dog and I are in trouble.

Me: I'm not following.

Him: My wife leaves for work before I do and I'm supposed to bring in the paper before I leave. It used to be a secret that I forget, because I get home before she does and bring it in then. Lately, though, your dog has been coming over to get our paper, taking it back to your house and shredding it.

Me: Are you sure it's him? It seems as though I would notice that much paper and I haven't seen any.

Him: Yes ma'am. I'm sure because the last couple mornings I've had to wrestle him for it and he's won. I'm not upset about what your dog is doing - I think, normally, I'd be laughing about it, but my wife has threatened to make me sleep over there with your dog if I don't get it stopped.

Me: (Imagining this grown man in the kennel with the dog and getting a little tickled.)

Him: Mrs. P., this isn't funny. I think she means it!

Me: Uh oh! (stifling laughter) I tell ya what. We'll do two things. One, we'll check his electronic collar to see why it isn't working (we have an underground fence that should be keeping the dog in our yard), and, two, we'll take him out for his morning constitution on a leash and bring him back inside until we figure out what's wrong with his collar.

Him: I sure appreciate that. I think after this, I won't have much trouble remembering to bring the paper in before I leave for work. I appreciate your help. And Mrs. P.?

Me: Yes?

Him: Give that crazy dog a hug for me. Just don't let my wife see you doing it.

Jan 15, 2009

Henry is a Hero

This is Henry's mouse.

This is Sophie kidnapping Henry's mouse.

This is Sophie drowning Henry's mouse...

Can she get away with it?

Before leaving the scene of the crime, Sophie makes sure the coast is clear.

She looks to her right....

She looks to her left...


Henry happens along just in time.

He reaches in to save his mouse...

Pulls him out of the water.
Henry has become an expert at
resuscitation on this mouse...

The mouse rescued, Henry leaves to find the abductor.

He knows Sophie did it.
We all know Sophie did it.
Sophie always does it.

The mouse waits to dry.
But he knows he'll be back in Sophie's grasp in no time.

We call it the "Henry is a Hero" game.

Jan 14, 2009

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first picture on the refrigerator,
and I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought
it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favorite cake for me,
and I knew that little things are special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I believed there was a God that I
could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I felt you kiss me good night,
and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned
that sometimes things hurt,
but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to be
everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked, and now I want to say thanks
for all the things I saw,
when you thought I wasn't looking.

~Mary Korzan

Jan 13, 2009

I'm waiting for something. Patiently I wait, though it's not easy. But, faithfully, I will wait, Lord.

Jan 11, 2009

Opened my email...

and found this shot of my precious little grandbaby...

Pray fervently...

...with the faith of a child

Dec 16, 2008


The birth of our precious grandbaby, Dean!

Gift of God, precious child, miracle, my little one. Lay your head on my shoulder. It seems that it was yesterday that I held your father in my arms just this way. You are a sweet blessing to me, a tiny messenger of joy. Welcome to this magnificent life.

May God grace you with all things that are good and shield you from all harm. May the bonds of our family be your strength. May our love be your comfort. May our faith sustain you. May God be with you, now and always. Amen. ~Naomi Levi

Dec 15, 2008

I'm thinking a lot these days about how quickly life is changing. How is it possible to move from being the mom of small kids to awaiting the birth of my grandchild seemingly overnight?

I relished the time of life when my kids were younger. The house was messier but the sounds were sweet and lively. I was aware most of the time that the days were precious and I needed to invest my whole heart into them.

And then one day the house was no longer messy and the sounds, although still very sweet, had become....softer.

Ya know, I can't think of anyone whose life I'd rather live but I find myself spinning trying to find my center in the one I have. I still have a child at home. A child...she's fourteen and busy, as well she should be. But the sounds of youth grow dim when she's away. My beloved and I spend quiet evenings eating out... watching movies... holding hands. And, in that, I find myself developing a split personality. The right side of me loves the quiet, abiding love that we enjoy. But the left side is missing the meal interruptions to cut someone's meat, the movie interruptions to take someone to potty and the holding hand interruptions to, "Pick me up!"

My sweet husband reminds me that this is just another stage of our life and that I'll adjust. I know he's right. Being a grandmother is something I've looked forward to as long as I can remember and I'm thrilled the time is almost here. I just didn't expect the years gone by to flash like the roadside view in a speeding car. I thought the 20 mph days we had when the kids were younger would last forever.

As I think more about this, I realize that where we are today is the season of life we've spent our marriage working toward. We married because we wanted to live our love forever, we had children as a result of that choice and now grandchildren are arriving as a testimony to the fruit of that choice.

So somebody give me a hug and tell me to move from reflection back to anticipation - I have a grandbaby on the way!

Dec 13, 2008

Mom's Overture by Anita Renfroe

A friend shared this link on her Facebook. Too funny!

Dec 12, 2008

"When words are many, sin is not absent." ~Proverbs 10:19

I remember hearing long ago that it should be considered a compliment to be discussed because it means you haven't been forgotten. I doubt anyone who's been on the receiving end of being discussed negatively would agree.

About 7 years ago I had a long distance friendship with a woman whose company I enjoyed very much. Our conversations teetered between lively and thoughtful. Thanks to our telephone provider's Friends & Family plan, we had lots of free minutes between us and we spent them easily. As long conversations tend to do, ours would dwindle to "what do you want to talk about next?" topics.

The above scripture proved true as too much time on the phone led into topics about which we had no business delving. Women love to talk. We can say things absent-mindedly - carelessly - as we follow the tide of idle conversation, contributing our part. And I did my share of that. I discovered a disconcerting trend - once a boundary is crossed, it's as if that boundary never existed the next time you talk. Freedom to voice negative opinions in the name of "insight" reigns. We're all too aware of the hurt that type of conversation can wreak on the person about whom it's said, but I was stunned to realize how it can damage the spirits of the parties actually doing the talking. Things at stake...

  • Trusting your friend not to say those things about you
  • Trusting that others aren't having those same conversations about you
  • Feeling comfortable around the person about whom you've spoken ill
  • Feeling worthy of someone sharing their confidences with you

The sin devastated our friendship. Try as we might, we'd both been so convicted over our behavior and the trust had been so diminished, we decided it best to let the friendship go.

As I think about it, maybe there was gain tucked inside the loss. I learned lessons I'll never forget and I'm sure she did, too.

Ps 19:14: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Dec 11, 2008

Today was a rainy day.
Maybe even a Noah kind of day.

We were thinking boats for a while!
Our front yard, from the road...

Another view of our front yard
(our house is just out of view to the right)

The vacant lot next to us ...

...has its own current!
(straight-on view of the lot from the road)

Dec 10, 2008

A Servant's Heart

Prepare my heart for serving,
let my spirit heed Your call...
in obedience to You, Father,
my Lord and King of all.

Fill my thoughts with You, Lord,
renew my mind today...
I give to you, complete control,
of the things I do and say.

Take these hands You gave me,
and use them for Your good...
to glorify Your Kingdom,
and live the way I should.

Remove all doubt within me, Lord,
I trust You’ll find a way,
to mold me in Your image...
as I walk with You today.

~Jill Lemming

Dec 8, 2008

Another EBC Girls' Small Group Activity...

Creating Hershey's Kiss wreaths for a Ring 'n Run delivery!

Girls hard at work....

Finished Product! (one of four)

Pretty cool, huh?
Delivery to unsuspecting recipients next Monday night!

Nov 27, 2008


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oct 27, 2008

An EBC Girls' Small Group Activity

We had our Ring 'n Run Pumpkin delivery tonight! Six of the girls in our group brought pumpkins over and carved them with Christian symbols and attached the following poem:

A Christian Pumpkin

I am a Jack O' Lantern My light will shine so bright
For I am a Christian pumpkin My symbols tell what's right.
My nose is like the cross on which our Savior died
To set us free from sin We need no longer hide.
My mouth is like a fish The whole wide world to show
That Christians live in this house And love their Savior so!
The story starts at Christmas My eyes are like the star
That shone on Baby Jesus And wise men saw from far
My color it is orange Just like the big bright sun
That rose on Easter Day Along with Gods' own Son.
And so on Halloween Let's set our pumpkins out
And tell the trick or treaters What Gods' love is all about!
Author Unknown
We borrowed the church van and loaded our pumpkins for delivery...

Heading toward a house....

Ok, we're there! Shhhh...

And another delivery...and another...

...until we're done!
The Mission Team Picture...