Empty Nest, Abundant Life

Nag Less, Pray More

Taking the Back Seat

My husband and I took a road trip with my son and his girlfriend over Thanksgiving break.  We traveled over 400 miles each way to spend the holiday at my husband’s aunt’s house.   It was an excellent opportunity to spend time getting to know David’s girlfriend, Mariana, and a chance to get away and have some fun.

My skills as a car passenger lack subtlety.  I overreact to each car that comes to close, each sudden movement, and each time the driver does something that I have deemed to risky for my taste.  It’s caused many tense moments between my husband and myself, since he is the most frequent driver in the household.

As usual, Darren drove most of the miles of this trip, but he did allow David to drive the longest that he ever has on this annual Thanksgiving trek.  On the way home, David drove for over three hours.  As the four of us switched spots and I moved to the back seat, I felt myself tense up.   Would I be a Nervous Nellie backseat driver?  I had brought many activities in my backpack that I had hoped to complete on this trip that I hadn’t even begun.   I tentatively pulled out my Bible Study lesson and started to fill in the answers.  As the miles continued, I felt my shoulders ease and my nerves settle.  I was able to read a book I had wanted to finish, prepare for Bible Study, read a magazine, listen to the music, and engage in conversation.

This is a metaphor for my relationship with my children.  Darren and I are no longer the “drivers” of their lives.  We taught them the rules of the road and watched them become proficient and licensed drivers.  Instead of gripping the door handles with white knuckles or feverishly pushing my imaginary brake pedal, it’s time to trust their abilities, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Growing in Gratefulness

On days like today, when life does not particularly go my way, it is harder to show gratitude.  I tend to focus my attention on what is going wrong instead of being thankful for what is going right, yet when I resolve to look for blessings and show appreciation for them, I find my attitude making a change for the better, a smile spreading across my face, and my mind fixed on the Giver of All Good Gifts.  I even find myself thankful for the challenges and obstacles in my life because they cause me to grow in patience, learn humility, and rely on God more than ever!

My Five Project Gratitude Thankful Things for Today

  1. The Soft Fur on my Cats
  2. Stimulating Conversation with a Table Full of Women who Point me to Jesus
  3. Beautiful Rays of Sun Poking Through the Clouds.  (I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped the above picture while driving through town today.)
  4. The Refreshment of Ice Water After a Workout
  5. A Phone Call from my Married Daughter Just to Chat.

What are you thankful for today?

Project Gratitude

It is easy to get so distracted by the hurried pace of this world and everything that is going wrong in our lives that we take our eyes and hearts off the One who has richly blessed us.  When we focus on all the blessings we experience in this life, our hearts fill with gratitude toward God and we feel stronger to face the obstacles and complexity of this life.  November, the month of Thanksgiving, is a perfect month to express thankfulness and gratitude for all we have.  I am challenging myself to find five things to thank God for each day during this month.  Who else would like to join me?

My 5 Project Gratitude Thankful Things for Today

  1. The Smell of Coffee Brewing
  2. A Warm Shower
  3. The Privilege of Teaching Children the Promises of God
  4. Autumn Walks and Talks with Friends
  5. Guacamole

What are you thankful for today?

New Month, New Outlook

I’ve always loved the first day of a new month.  It’s a day for changing calendars, for looking ahead to all the fun that the month promises, for receiving special “first of the month” coupons and emails, and for wiping the slate clean from last month.  I especially love November because I can say, “Thanksgiving is coming later this month,” and  “Next month is my birthday and Christmas.”   When I encounter a flawless, new month, I am empowered to forge ahead instead of paralyzed with embarrassment over the mistakes I’ve made or overwhelmed with too much to do.

May we all greet November with a spirit of adventure and gratitude!

Conclusion to Embracing Fifty

Before I began this series, I approached my 50th birthday with much hesitancy.  As I spent the entire month evaluating how I wanted to live my life in my fifties, my excitement grew.  The more I thought and wrote, the more my anxiety waned and my anticipation soared.   Now I can’t wait to leap into this new decade of my life.

The task of determining my values was not an easy one.  It took a lot of soul searching and frank honesty within myself.  I laughed and cried at my computer keyboard as I reflected on what I valued most and how I wanted to rest of my life to look.  I would highly recommend this activity to anyone who wants to be more intentional with how they live each day of the rest of their life.

Thank you so much for reading my 31 day series.  I hope it inspired you to consider how you choose to live the remaining days of your life.  I’d love to talk to you more about it and will answer all comments.   I wish each of you an amazing life!

This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Loving Others Well

I can’t think of a single better way to use the rest of my life than loving others well.   Before my eyes are even fully open in the morning, I have already mumbled “I love you” to my husband and scratched one of the cats.  Before I get out of bed, I express my love to God by reading His Word, applying it to my life, worshiping Him, and praying for over 100 people.  When I spend this time with God, I find that He fills me to overflowing with love so I can’t help but look for opportunities to love others all day, from those closest to me to those I have not yet met.

Love can be expressed in so many ways.  We often thing of it as physical affection, but that is just one way to show love.  We can make time to spend with others in deep conversation.  We can do something kind for others.  We can encourage one another with our words.  We can let someone know we are thinking of them with a text message, phone call, or a gift.  Even a smile to the grocery checker or the person in the car next to you in a traffic jam can ease a burden and make someone feel special.

The current rhythm of modern American life is becoming so fast-paced and impersonal that stopping to unselfishly invest in another’s happiness seems unnatural.  So many days I fail at loving others well.  I get caught up in the rush of life and my own agenda that I view others as obstacles to what I need to do instead of high priorities.  It is only when I go to God to get refreshed in His love that I have enough to give others.

When I am no longer on this earth, I want to be remembered as someone who loved others well!

This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Savoring Each Moment

Our lives are moving at a quicker pace than they ever have.  We have our to-do lists, our cell phone notifications, and overpacked schedules to keep us busy from the time the alarm sounds in the dark hours of the morning until late at night.  We are constantly thinking towards the next thing.

It’s hard to slow down and appreciate the little things in life, yet this is exactly what is necessary for a healthy and balanced life.  When we look at life as an experience instead of a destination, we can enjoy the journey so much more.

When I participated in the Eugene Half Marathon this Spring, I’m sure I would have had a much faster finishing time if I totally focused on pushing my body as hard as I could and didn’t look around to savor the atmosphere.  I met a friend with a similar pace, and as we passed something interesting, I would say under my breath, “I always want to remember this.”   She looked at me with an odd expression until I told her of my quest to enjoy the memories I was making step by step along race.  She soon joined my glee as we witnessed someone playing a didgeridoo to cheer us on, a live pet duck sitting on its owner’s lap at the curb, the bright signs on poster board that encouraged us, and the beautiful Willamette River flowing under us as we crossed multiple bridges.  By the time I  entered the stadium that housed the legendary Hayward Field, where many Track and Field World Championships have occurred, tears escaped my eyes at the glory of the crowds cheering, the brisk wind, the blue sky, the worship music playing in my headphones, and the finish line stretched out before me.  I savored it!

One of my favorite verses in the Bible takes place during the telling of Christ’s birth in Luke 2.  In the midst of the birth of the Messiah, the angels’ chorus, the shepherds’ visit, and the animals in the stable, Mary took the time to savor the moment.  She must have been exhausted from having her first child out of town in a stable with many visitors, but Luke 2:19 says,  “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Let’s be like Mary and treasure and ponder in our hearts!

This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!


We all have exactly the same amount of time in each day, 24 hours or 1,440 minutes.   We also have a limited amount of time on this earth.  Each day, I’m getting a little closer to leaving this earth for heaven.  I have no idea whether today will be my last day here or I’ll live another 50+ years.   With that in mind, I am stating my intent to spend the rest of my days living life on purpose.

Determining the purpose of our life here on earth can be difficult when we are young.  As we get to know ourselves better, we see our strengths and weakness, figure out what we are drawn to and passionate about, and feel a greater sense of urgency to accomplish what we are set on this earth to do and to leave a legacy that will live beyond us.   We also learn to silence the critics easier, whether the criticism comes from those around us or our misconceptions about ourselves.

Summarizing my purpose into a succinct mission statement is tricky for me.   I have a blurry exposure what my purpose is to be but am slowly bringing that into focus through applying my circumstances and gaining wisdom.  The two biggest words that come into my mind when I consider my purpose are encouraging and teaching.  Sometimes these two purposes can overlap since so much of teaching is catching our students, children, spouses, and friends doing the right thing then urging them to continue in that direction.  I can encourage and teach almost anyone I come into contact with, whether they realize I am doing that or not.

What do you think your purpose is in life?

This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

Hope for the Future

One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a child was sitting next to our stereo cabinet listening to Lionel Barrymore’s portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge on an album of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.   I loved the sound effects, the background music, the lively reading of the well-loved book, and especially Barrymore’s characterization of Scrooge.  I was a naturally fearful child, and the visits by each of the ghosts caused me to hide under a blanket for protection.  The most terrifying ghost to me was the Ghost of Christmas Future.  In fact, I can still remember the terror in Barrymore’s voice as he pronounced, “I fear you more than any specter I have seen.”   This was my first exposure to the word, future, so I always associated the future with anxiety and panic.

I’m learning that we can anticipate the future with great hope and excitement or we can dread it.  The choice is ours.  The future will inevitably contain both positive and negative elements.  I am assured that I will die in the future, unless Jesus returns before then.  I could choose to focus my life on that so much that it prevents me from living today to the fullest.  I can look forward to upcoming great times with loved ones, the addition of a new generation to our family tree, and the chance to grow and learn into my fifties, sixties, and seventies.   I can’t wait to see just how valuable my golden years will be!

This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!


My life has completely changed in the past ten years.  In October of 2007, I had two young teenagers living at home whom I was homeschooling full time, my dad was still alive and took a lot of my time and energy, I was still driving close to 100 miles a week in a minivan, we had different pets, I weighed close to fifty pounds more than I do now, and my good health was sporadic.  Now, just ten short years later, the kids have moved out, my dad and two pets have died, I drive less than 50 miles a week in a sporty Camry, and I’m in the best shape and health of my life.

It would have been ridiculous to refuse to accept the changes as they came.  I would have done my children and my husband a disservice if I refused to allow the kids to spread their wings and fly the coop.  I get much better gas mileage in my car than I ever did in my van.  I have energy to get up each day, thanks to my new exercise and diet habits.

I used to view change as scary and unwelcome, but it is inevitable.  I can deny it and resist it, but that doesn’t keep it from happening.  It just makes life harder for everyone.

In this new decade of my life, I will choose to embrace change.  My husband’s and my lives will certainly change this coming April when his job of nearly 27 years comes to an end.  Our children’s lives are changing as is our relationship with them.  We can grow and learn so much from change.  I don’t know all the changes God has in store for my life in the next ten years, but I will trust Him and look forward what is to come.

This post is part of a  31 Day Blogging Challenge entitled Embracing Fifty.  Please click here  to find all the posts in this series.  You can find the work of more bloggers participating in this series here. You’ll be glad you did!

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