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Empty (er) Nest and How to Avoid Becoming a Tumbleweed

Part 1of 2

I remember when Zoe was just 5 years old and she was going to join a large class nearby. Until that day we had spent our time exploring the world together, discovering God's world for us and delighting in the everyday rhythms of life. Everything in my heart wanted her to enjoy this day and to be a brave, courageous, fearless girl. Those were the seeds of character I had been sowing to her heart. I held her little hand as we drew closer to the door and braced myself for the pull back I might feel as she resisted being separated from me. But before I could tighten a reassuring hold she was racing ahead of me and took off into the sea of children without so much as a wave, or backward glance. I was shocked. I was baffled. It was as if she'd forgotten I was her mum at all! Not even a little tearful clinging to my skirts? A mild refusal to go in? No whimpers of protest, no tug-of-war? The class leader caught my eye and waved to acknowledge the handing over of care. As I walked away a little hurt (selfishly of course), a friend said in passing, 'You did a good job there, she's so confident!'. I laughed half heartedly but her words drew me out of that selfish fog and I began to feel comforted in the faithfulness of God's wisdom to me. I was walking in what I had prepared her for. My brave, fearless, running-to-meet-the- world girl had taken her first steps of adventure.

Fast-Forward 12 years...

‘Empty Nest’ as I’ve heard it called, conjures for me an image of a deserted, wintry weave of twigs, peppered with soft down, now fluttering in an icy breeze moving unhindered through vacant space . Is this what I have to look forward to when my children begin to take flight? This does not appeal! My heart cowers at the thought. Surely, walking with my sweet Father, my heart does not have to become a tumbleweed in the rooms of my mother-soul?

Today I am stepping into a new season as a mum, a time of transition as my teen explores new solo ventures away from home, leaving my nest not quite empty but missing a part of the whole.

We can spend all our parenting life preparing our children to spread their wings and fly, but what we often neglect to ask is the Lord is to help prepare our hearts for when they do! We had a few months heads-up on this trip but I suddenly realised I wasn't ready. It kinda snuck up on me and took me by surprise. I was so excited for the opportunity for her and knew it would be a wonderful season of personal growth, but a little pit formed in my stomach, a tug of aching which

hollowed me out a little. Argh! Lord help me! My little girl is ready but am I? I cried out to God from my heart to steady the faltering steps of trust.

'Finals' & 'Firsts'

For a few months I've been able to anticipate this moment, all the 'finals'; the final hug at the security barrier, the longing look as she turns the corner and is taken behind even more security barriers, final meal together, final time walking the dog, final time at such-and-such a group. Then we transition into 'firsts'; first time on a plane alone, first time in another country alone, first time without her family, on a plane, in another country - alone! I am confident (sort of) that I've done my best to prepare her the best I can, and so I open my hands and let her go, trusting that God is with her and that she'll know that truth for herself.

And so turning to the comfort of God's word I began to study some of the women in the Bible who also faced separation from their children, some who had years to prepare and contemplate (Hannah, Elizabeth & Mary) and others who only had moments (Jochebed). And then there is God. God who from the foundation of the world, had a plan to send His only Son to satisfy divine justice and demonstrate the totality of His love towards a sinful world. If anyone knows how I feel and can show me how to prepare for and navigate this new season, it’s my Father.

My heart is with all the mums out there today who are facing the same or similar scenarios. It's normal to miss, it's normal to long for, it's normal to have a piece of your heart carried about in another

person's new reality and not feel quite put back together until you're on the same patch of soil. But just as our children move from 'finals' to 'firsts' I know God will lead us in grace also into 'firsts' of our own. God bless you as you prepare your treasured ones and send them out as lights into the world, may you feel the comfort of God's love as He understands how you feel. I'm so looking forward to sharing with you the precious things I've seen so far, what has the Lord shown you in this area? What has been the biggest challenge and what has been the biggest unexpected blessing? Do you have any favourite scriptures which have anchored you through this time? I'd love to hear from you.

* Taken from an original piece Sept 2016

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