Category Archives: Empty Nest

What can we gain when much has been lost?

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Yesterday I went up north to hang out with all but Joel so his mommy and daddy could attend the end of year preschool picnic with him. 

And I cry typing that. 

First of all, that both his mommy and daddy could go and then the fact that he got to actually go to preschool this last year of his pre-Kindergarten self. 

But it runs deeper. 

Because more than a few mornings, I got to drop him off. 

Me and his siblings would pray for his day as we slowly rolled forward for our turn at drop off. 

As he slipped his mask on, I would wrap my arm around him and we would all tell him he was a brave little toaster. 

 A teacher in a mask would greet him and the somber eyes of all that is Joel was all we saw as he turned his back to us and hoisted his back back one more time and headed in to school. 

He made the most of it, to be sure, but he never liked the mask. When Rachel sent pictures of him all smiles at picnic table and running across a field and climbing the monkey bars, the joy was deep. 

I don’t know what this year will leave us marked with. 

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one of my fav pics of my mom and dad <3

My own mom was born during a different pandemic and a World War and spent her child hood in the Great Depression.

To the end of her days, she never threw a piece of foil away until it was used several times and washed in between.

The drawers of her kitchenette at the independent living center were chock full of cracker packets and unused napkins from the dining room when we cleaned out her room.

I had already disposed of a whole houseful of things that she hadn’t thrown away because you never know when you will need this or that… 

Growing up she always had a bowl of candy in the family room and thought fruit was too expensive to purchase. A carry over of the days when candy was an only at Christmas treat and fruit buying was out of the question for a family scraping by on little to no income.

Those early years shaped her later years and in some ways she never got over the fear of not having enough. 

I hope we don’t come away from this pandemic with irrational fears or carry scars that we don’t let God heal. 

We lost some things we will never get back. 

But we gained some things we would never have had if we had not journeyed through a global pandemic together. 

What should have united us has continued to divide us. 

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Yesterday I asked the kiddos what good things had come about because of a very bad thing.

They talked about spending more time with their family and being thankful for being healthy. Things they probably would have taken for granted before this past year helped them realize how valuable these are to them. 

What about you and me? 

What good things came in the hard places? 

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I know for me I have grown in gratitude, in prayer, in faith, in hope, in compassion.

My priorities have been refined.

My purpose has become clearer.

Many of the insignificant trivialities honed in times more secure have been sanded away.

Gifts taken from a season of loss and grief that hopefully will shape me in the years to come <3

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Another round of randoms and prayers for no site crash…sigh…

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Well here we are at Wednesday again and there is something about this day of the week that seems to lean towards the randoms…maybe I should just make that a Wednesday regular feature, although if I did, be assured something would come along to completely interrupt the idea. 

So at least for today, we are randomizing.

Top thoughts in no particular order include:

Random #1

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Today is the anniversary of my dad’s birth. He was born 103 years ago we figure and that completely blows me away. 

I often think of him and what he would have to add to the various discussions of the current culture. He lived through a lot of rough times in this country and the world and I guess I am mostly grateful he is at peace and rest with Jesus. 

Random #2

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Russ listens to the news every night while I wash my face, fight wrinkles and gum disease and fill up the diffuser with oils to help us sleep. 

Often I walk out to check if I am hearing something correctly as I floss my teeth or rub some cream around my eyes. 

Last night I emerged to see if I was hearing correctly that a local community health department is considering offering newly vaccinated people a free beer at one of the taverns as an incentive to get the shot.

I stood there blinking and flossing and wondering what alternative reality we have entered to where the health department thought this was a good idea. 

Thankfully a senator spoke into this with the idea that maybe we could instead figure out ways to make getting a vaccine accessible for those who want it, but cannot get to a facility…maybe due to a job, living in an isolated location or not having access to transportation or computer to register. 

I hope they listen to him. 

Random #3

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Only a few slim chapters remain in the book I am reading on Elisabeth Elliott. 

There are so many good points and parts to this book that I am quite certain you will be getting a summary in the next few days, but the thing that just blew me away is this simple fact. 

Her husband, Jim Elliott was killed in cold blood by a people group that he had tried to reach with the Good News. After he was killed, Elisabeth knew that God had called her to finish the work they had started and she spent the next year praying for a way to gain access to this tribe. 

Not for revenge. 

Not for justice. 

Not for the chance to see her husband’s murderers face to face and introduce them to the little girl he left behind. 

She prayed for an open door to share the Gospel so they could know Jesus and be forgiven. 

God answered her prayers and she eventually witnessed the ones who took her husband’s life receive eternal life. They became her brothers in Christ. 

I weep at the truth of what the Cross means for us. I pray we each would fulfill our calling by praying and asking God who we are called to share the Good News of His Son with each day. 

It is sobering and convicting how little of my time is spent on that kind of prayer. 

We are not all called to missions far away but we are called to preach the gospel wherever we are and to desire to possess the same heart for the Lost that God has for each of them. 

Random #4

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They are upgrading some fancy named tech thing on my website today and warned me it could cause problems if something I have isn’t compatible with something they have. 

So if the Journey Onward site disappears from the internet for a little while or for forever…sigh…just know there is a lady sitting by her keyboard hoping and praying all goes well.

Random #5

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I feel I have shared mostly heavy randoms today, so let me leave you with a word of encouragement from my devotions this morning. 

In one of my readings it talked about how Jesus not only healed children, but loved and tended for the parents. 

Examples included:

“Don’t be afraid,” to the ruler of the synagogue who’s daughter was dying

“Woman, you have great faith” to the Caananite woman who needed healing for her child

“Everything is possible for him who believes” to the dad of the boy who was demon-possessed

The author, Jodie Berndt, points out that Jesus was not only about healing the child, but also about offering words of hope and encouragement to the weary parents. 

What a word for us today as we are most likely lifting  many needs in prayer. 

As you pray for your family and friends and carry burdens for so many, stop and sense His loving care for YOU. 

Remember always He is a good and kind Shepherd and He loves you very much. 

Have a good day and come back tomorrow…

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Wednesday randomness and such <3

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Happy Wednesday…happy Cinco de Mayo…happy halfway through the week.

Seems like a good day for some randoms, so here we go:

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Random #1

I googled Cinco de Mayo since I am pretty sure it is more than just an opportunity for all of us to eat Mexican food and be thankful for yet another celebration day that doesn’t require appropriate decorations and purchasing gifts. 

My search taught me that it is, in reality a minor holiday in Mexico as it commemorates a victory in only one battle, not the entire winning of independence for this country. 

It is more widely celebrated in the U.S. because it is an opportunity for our hispanic communities to celebrate their heritage. So enjoy some good Mexican food and music and be thankful for the diversity around us. 

And yes, I just googled the difference between “nation” and “country” to make sure I was using the correct term. So that is the level of google-nerd you are dealing with here on the Journey.

Proceed to random #2 at your own risk. 

Random #2

Mother’s Day is a mixed bag and I say that every year. 

My own mother was convinced that it was an opportunistic holiday perpetuated by card companies to play on our emotions and get us to spend our hard earned money on something that would end up in the trash.

Which is ironic because she never threw a piece of paper away in her life as we could tell when we had to clean out their house…but I digress.

She did receive all the love we could lavish on her in spite of her cynical views and I think that is what we forget about Mother’s Day. 

Yes, it is a sharp thorn to those who long to be a mom or long to have a good relationship with a mom or have just lost their mom….recently or years ago. 

But let’s turn it a little bit and downsize our expectations. 

Maybe we can make some space that doesn’t involve checking in on how everyone is celebrating the day and just be in our own place of either joy, grief, remembering, hoping, forgiving, healing, thanking, or all of the above…whatever it looks like to you. 

If the posts of social media hurt, don’t scroll that day. Be present in what you do have and find the loving hand of God who provides all that you think you are missing out on. 

If you are filled with the moment of motherhood, rest quietly in the fullness of your joy. Post away but don’t go back and count the likes, just post out of the overflow of your heart and pray it is a blessing to others and not a tripping stone for them. 

Remember that you are not missing out on anything that God didn’t intend for you to have. Don’t compare what your family did to honor you with anyone else…live in gratitude for what is your assigned territory and fully embrace it. 

Random #3

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I am reading in 2 Kings and have mercy…have mercy….have mercy. 

What a mess again. 

There are just a few shining moments of Kings who did right in the eyes of the Lord and yet…there is this “however”…where they failed to take down some of this or that of the idolatry of the nation. 

It is amazing to see how some awful King will just do the worst of the worst and yet, when he repents, God forgives. 

What a word for us in a world run amok. 

I can get discouraged on the daily as I move about 2021 on planet Earth. So much doesn’t line up or make sense, so reading about similar periods throughout the history of God’s people gives me hope and encouragement that God is faithful even when we/our leaders/entire populations…are not. 

THAT is something to celebrate! 

Random #4

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I set aside my stack of reading for a little book club I am in. They are reading “The Path Between Us” by Suzanne Stabile. 

If you are at all interested in the Enneagram discussions, I highly recommend this as it not only helped me understand me a little better, it gives great insight into others and how our wirings can work together. 

I did something that is so novel (pun intended) for me…and borrowed a copy from the local library. 

Since I like to mark up my books, I went out on a limb here and attempted to not add to our already overflowing shelves. It was a wise move. 

While the book is good and helpful, the information I need to be reminded of is available on the internet from various articles so if you are interested in reading this one, you might be able to just borrow it like I did. 

Random #5

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I am fully vaccinated as of Monday. 

I am also unconvinced that I am now made of titanium and, thus, invincible. 

For the record, I followed the advice of people I trust and did what seemed the wisest thing to protect myself from contracting serious side effects of Covid that would cause my family heartache. 

I also wear my seatbelt, get regular checkups and floss my teeth daily but I know that doesn’t insure me against injury in a car accident, being diagnosed with something fatal or gum disease….they are just steps that are proactive towards better health options. 

Contrary to the enticing thought that by being vaccinated, I will be free…I rejoice that I am already free.

Because the one thing I will always count on as solid and a 100% guarantee is that what Christ has set free, is free indeed…and that would be me <3

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