Tuesday, June 9, 2015

One Ringing Bell Top Posts: What to do with an empty nest


I had a big response to this piece when it first ran a couple of years ago, which has made it one of my top posts. With graduations just ended, I thought it might be timely to run it again. This week, I'm on a Journey off the Map with a bunch of pre-schoolers. We're having a lot of fun, but this fall, I'll hopefully be back at the Catalyst Conference for another year of volunteering. I've updated the links, so be sure and check it out yourself.

I looked on the internet and didn’t find much when I googled “what to do with an empty nest.”


 
It all happened so quickly. They were here and then they weren't.

Cracked the shell, ate the worms, and took off.

I’ve heard tales of women who said, “Sure am glad the kids have moved out of the house.”

But I don’t get it. Not at all.

I’m watching a couple of fledgling cardinals now at the feeder. Mottled in appearance, part down, part feathers, they peck away; maybe unaware their mama still sits up in the trees nearby. She deserves an award to raise her brood in the yard stalked by that terror known as Mama Kitty.

I’m thankful for my kids’ independence, that they’re doing what they want to do, that one of them is months away from graduating university. And the other only a year behind.

I write devotions, and blog posts, and novels, and proposals, and screenplays, and synopses, and articles, and crazy stories about kittens, but I miss them. I miss my kids. And when I say that, I don’t mean I think they should move back to keep me company, or change the arc of their lives. I just mean I miss them. And the last one now gone for going on three years, and that feeling hasn’t changed.

I miss their opinions and their sideways looks. I miss their laughter. I miss talking with them, hearing what they think.

 So, this is what they mean by the empty nest.

The cardinals split the air, wings spread.

I keep writing.

I don’t know when the feeling of empty nest gives way to something else.

I don’t.

But I do know to look around and see where else I might be of service to another generation. And that’s why I’m volunteering at this year’s Catalyst Conference in Atlanta.

From their website: “Catalyst Atlanta is a powerful gathering of young leaders, a movement of influencers and world changers who love Jesus, see things differently, and feel a burden for our generation. We seek to learn, worship and create together with a momentous energy passionately pursuing God.” It’s my privilege to offer anything I have that might help them on that course, even if it means just showing them where the restrooms are.

In October, around 13,000 young leaders will gather at the Gwinnett Arena. If you’re there, look for me, I’ll be the oldest volunteer on the staff. But I don’t care. It gives me a chance to hang out with people who are going to be changing the course of history in the decades to come. It’s an opportunity to experience how God is moving and shaking in these generations sometimes called, X’s, Y’s, millennial’s, or new boomers. Whatever, you call them, they’re looking for God, and as best we can, we need to support them in that pursuit.

So, since the nest is empty, this Mama is taking to the air, too. I might be sitting in a tree nearby. And if your nest is empty, or even if it's not, come join me.

It’s gonna be good.

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