Category Archives: Empty Nest

Apples don’t fall from trees, you know <3

Over the years I have asked some friends and family who are also gifted in putting words on paper to write a guest post for this little Journey.

As I looked back over those looking for one to share with you during this anniversary week celebration of the seven year mark for the blog, I found one our Rachel wrote that I posted during the first Christmas Countdown I did. Which also happened to be in 2013…so happy Christmas Countdown to us as well!

Here are the words she shared on December 20th of that year.

They have added two more little birds to their nest and her “free time” to be able to write is rather limited. I urge her constantly to keep jotting down her thoughts because they will make a treasure as you will see when you read this one <3

Shaping by Rachel Maxwell

My mom has graciously allowed me to guest-post on her blog. I am not a writer by trade and truth be told, I adore the thesaurus feature on Microsoft Word. I am humbled she would ask me to share some of my thoughts and His word with you!

Let me introduce myself. I’m the eldest daughter, Rachel. I would be the one with the two young boys that provide much of her material or humorous anecdotes. (And, all of her stories are true.) Graham (our 2 1/2 year old) keeps us on toes, wears us out, and loves us unconditionally.

It’s a beautiful combination I pray he never loses. Emmett (our 6 month old) is following right in big bro’s footsteps – absolutely delighting us, already moving everywhere, and just enjoying watching his hero brother at play!

A couple weeks ago as the boys napped and my husband was at work, I decided to tackle the basement tree. A 6.5 foot, artificial, pre-lit, three-piece tree seemed pretty simple to me, so I went for it.

Don’t worry, the tree is up and I am unharmed! But it’s in the process, the ‘simple steps’ is where Christ likes to speak to me the loudest.

You may have your qualms about an artificial tree, and I would have whole-heartedly agreed as I pulled these three pieces out of the box and set them on top of each other. The branches are all twisted and bound close together making it painfully obvious this tree is fake. It’s just ugly coming out of the box.

There are gaping holes where branches aren’t there and you can see the plastic ‘trunk’ that the makers have twisted a fake piece of garland around trying their best to conceal the plastic, the fake-ness of this tree. Being the mature mother of two, I rolled my eyes and got to work.

I went through each branch and started shaping and spreading out each one. After an hour of labor, I had cuts on my hands to prove I had done my best to shape the tree. I turned on the lights, backed away, and admired my work. That tree had gone from an eye-sore to a delight.

And then I cried.

You see, I am that tree.

I am ugly out of the box and I need lots of work.

Every sin like a branch where you can see straight to the trunk of my heart. Every argument, every quick tempered response, every muttered word, every part of my sinful nature is a branch on my tree. But thankfully, my tree doesn’t stop there and it is not finished.

Christ works on me shaping each branch with His scarred hands, removing the ugliness and creating me into something beautiful – His image.

His work in me doesn’t stop with one branch, He continues to shape and reshape me until I’m closer to perfect than I was before.

And then when His light shines in me…I am now beautiful.

You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

2 Samuel 22:29

He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.

Job 33:28

We are all works in progress.

What a beautiful reminder back in 2013 and today <3

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Bear with me, I am having a moment… <3

I am scrolling through the pictures downloaded to this Journey website over the years.

Seven years to be exact.

Today marks seven years since I slipped my first post on to this site and hoped and prayed someone and yet not too many would see it.

I was scared to put myself and my heart out here on the internet but this guy here kept encouraging me to do it.

He saw something in what I write that he thinks others need and so I swallowed back fear of exposure and fear of rejection and I started showing up.

I kept it quiet and I told God we should keep it small and God told me to be quiet and not worry about numbers – small or big.

Just do the thing He lays on my heart and let Him worry about the rest.

So seven years have passed.

As I scroll through the pictures this morning I see faces who no longer gather around our table or occupy a space where we can give them a hug. Some are gone by death and some by decision.

I see faces that have been added through the years that don’t replace the ones gone, but continue the faithfulness of God’s kindness to us through the years.

I see wrinkles appearing on my own face and weight fluctuations and changes in hairstyles.

There have been two houses, several computer changes, guest posts from friends and family (that usually did better than anything I write…I’m not bitter…honest…teehee).

Family gatherings, travels around this country and beyond, holidays and birthdays…all the journey that was lived day by day in just the ordinary and extraordinary of God’s mercy and grace.

The comments from some of you here on the blog or out there in the real world when you say you read it and it encourages you come at just the right time to let me know God is still using this for His purpose.

And my heart spills out over how He has given me a place to journal where I can meet with you and share how He has shown up in all the seasons in such amazing ways.

So this week, we will celebrate the Journey of seven years thus far.

Thus far, He has brought us…and I am so thankful <3

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Reality check <3

Last night I read through a rather lengthy email from a missionary family detailing their hasty exit from the area where they had been serving when Covid first reared its ugly head and the world came to a screeching halt. 

I sat there at our kitchen counter in the comfort of our home, finishing a nice dinner of turkey, wild rice and veggies. The air conditioner had done a fine job keeping our home cool as the Midwest experienced temperatures in the low 80’s yesterday and we had to switch from heat to cool so we wouldn’t roast inside our four walls. 

Due to some family needs, the missionaries said goodbye knowing they would not be returning. Their email shared pictures and stories of the friends they left behind. Some of them had relied on this couple for income and support. They tried to set in place for them other means to make a living, but the odds stacked against their friends in a country on the other side of this globe is hard under the best of circumstances. 

One of the men who this missionary father called his best friend is a single dad because of tribal issues that took his wife away from their home. It would seem hatred of people who are from different groups runs deep amongst all of us on planet earth.

One photograph showed him teaching Bible to a crowd of little faces gathered on a dirt floor and leaning against one another as they were obviously engaged in what he had to say. His face was alive and full of passion.

I felt pretty small and petty sitting there bemoaning what I have “lost” during this pandemic. I thought of all the people around the world who have nothing and yet have everything because they have Jesus. 

I thought of how glibly we say we love Jesus and….fill in the blank of the t-shirt from any number of shops online. 

And I thought how poor we really are when we have room for anything else beyond Him. 

Surely you know of a family or two today who have left all that was familiar behind to go and share the Gospel. Take a minute and thank God for them. Think on what this pandemic has done to their ministry and to the people they were called to serve and say a prayer. 

Say a prayer for them and then say a prayer for what we can do to not only support them but set aside our addiction to our comfort and our rights and really be filled with love for Jesus that cannot be shut down or shut up no matter what comes our way <3

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