A Mama Bird with an Empty Nest

“Wait, don’t fly, I just want to tell you I love you one more time.” That was me when the first one flew, and will be me again when the second and third ones fly.

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I don’t hear them chirp as often now. I wish I could. Phone calls and texts can fill that void — a little bit.

I cried the day my first child was born. Did it again five years later, when my second baby arrived. I cried again a year and a half later. Third time’s a charm. Each time I gave birth, I cried tears of joy. I had three birds in my nest back then. One left a year ago. One is leaving shortly, and the other one will fly next year.

We moms cry a lot, don’t we? Tears of joy. Tears of sorrow. Tears of worry. Tears of compassion. And we’ve wiped our children’s tears throughout the years. I think I’ve gone through hundreds of tissue boxes.

I look back and cherish the playdough days. I’d make cookies and they always wanted to eat them.

“No, no dear, that’s not a real cookie!”

They’d cry, “Waaaahhh!”

Solution? Real cookies. Sugar cookies. You know, the kind that are made from scratch and make a flour mess all over. I miss those days. A flour-fight sounds like a lot fun right about now. I think I should schedule one. What a sight that would be to see four grown adults making cookies and playing with flour!

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I look back at the baseball games, the ballet practices, the first tricycle rides, the church plays, the track meets, the high school graduations of our first two children, college graduation, law school graduation, and giving away our daughter at her wedding.

And as I look back, I see that time flew by so fast, and continues to soar!

They’re not home as much anymore. I’m a mama bird sitting in a nest, often by myself. Sometimes, I want to cry because I miss my kids like crazy. But once a mama, always a mama. I’m not finished yet. And I’m so thankful I got to and get to be called “Mom.”

And when they all finish flying the nest, I know the momma bird in me will worry every now and then. That’s what we moms do, right? And I’ll find myself thinking, I hope I did it right. I know I made my share of mistakes along the way, and I’ll make more today and more tomorrow. There is no perfect mother-bird. There is no perfect child. But we have a perfect Father. He taught us how to love each other and we know that when we pull God in between us, there is always forgiveness, always understanding, and always love. So I will choose to stay under our Heavenly Father’s wings and pray my children will do the same. And then I will trust that they’re okay and will stay strong no matter what life throws their way, because hope is always found above.

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At the top of my mother-do-list was, is, and always will be showing my children how much God loves them. I love them too, but He loves them more. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around that thought… He loves them even more?

God’s love is unfathomable, unmatched, unwavering, and unending. Wow. My children are valued and cherished by God. He loves them — always.

Matthew 6:26 displays God’s affection well. “Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns — and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

If I did anything right as a mother bird, it was teaching my children that in God’s eyes they are always worthy, always wanted, and always loved.

And as my children fly the nest, I will tell them, “My precious child, don’t ever leave God’s nest. And if you feel like flying away, and do, don’t stay away long. That’s how temptation beckons. That’s what the devil wants. Don’t bow down to that rascal. Fly back to your Father. Fly fast. Don’t look back, and don’t turn around. You see, God’s nest is the only place where you can always find authentic peace, understanding, rest, comfort, and love. It’s the only place where there’s no condemnation — just love. He will accept you just the way you are, because He loves you like no one else can. He forgives. He restores. He will listen to your every prayer. And if you need me to lift prayers up, I’ll be your prayer warrior. Stay under His wings. Know He will hold onto you and don’t let go. The greatest words you will ever hear, are ‘Child, I love you.’ Not just from me. More importantly from your Heavenly Father. So listen to Him. I will miss your chirping like crazy after you fly away, but even when you’re gone, I will always be proud of you. I will always love you. And I will jump out of my nest for you any time. You know where to find me. Please visit and fly back every once in a while, or I will fly your way. Love, Your Mama-bird.”

Living in a nest that’s almost empty isn’t simple, but it does have silver linings.

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I can “be still” now and spend more time with God, without interruption, like never before. I crave living under His wings now all the time. That’s a silver lining.

I get to spend more unbroken, quality time with my husband. Now, I’m falling in love with him all over again. That’s a silver lining.

Missing my kids like crazy reveals how much I loved them and how blessed I am to be called “Mom.” That’s a silver lining.

My children are God’s first, then my husband’s and mine. Our Father loves them like we cannot. Perfectly. And even though it is hard to let them go and watch them fly away, I know Who’s watching over them. All the time. And wow, HE is so good at it!

Hope in Him,
Helo

 

Labor Day Just Passed But We’re Still Working

I put on the gloves and pulled flowers from plastic pots as my husband dug several holes. I thought, This little bit of labor will plant something beautiful. Perhaps I should apply this thought pattern to that daily to-do list I sometimes get tired of. No complaining. Instead, simply thankfulness. Thankfulness lifted up to our Heavenly Father.

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“Hey handsome, thank you for helping me with this.”

“You’re welcome. It’ll be beautiful to look at,” my husband winked.

His hand got tired from the shoveling. My gloves were dirty. But we chose to enjoy the task at hand. The finished labor would yield reward. Blooming beauty. It made me reflect on Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.”

Labor Day just passed. For many of us it was time off. A time for family gatherings and celebration or getting ready to brace ourselves for the unofficial end of summer. Some of us may not have had the luxury to to take the day off. Still, it was a time to honor and celebrate men and women who work.

I think we all work every day. We all labor to one degree or another, right? At times we work so hard, we become so tired and worn, we might find ourselves wanting to quit. Yet we are supposed to be thankful for the work we have. And if we don’t have work, we aren’t supposed to worry. But this isn’t always simple, right?

Time to interject truth, keep the faith, and pray. Holding a “job” isn’t simply about putting on a suit, dressing in your best, and awaiting accolades of praise, “Job well done!” It’s not just about putting on those gloves, breaking a sweat, getting dirty, and claiming, “I did it!” Trusting God when we are out of work begins with hope and carries on with faith. Keeping the job we have without complaining requires gratitude.

Life is so much more than settling our identity in what we attain and accomplish in the world’s eyes. Heads up, you can’t take your car, your title, your home, your closet, your purse, your bank account, your accolades, or your status to Heaven. Heaven is void of worldly accomplishments. Instead, it overflows with God’s glorious presence. It’s going to be awesome up there!

But until we get to go there, many of us think our identity is found in what the world thinks of us. I admit I have fallen prey to this. Years ago, I landed a job with a prominent pharmaceutical company. I thought for a while that I was on top of the world. Temporary fulfillment was gained. I’d achieved status, or so I thought. Then a year and a half later, God helped me welcome my first child into this world. I decided to become a stay-at-home mom.

To all of you mothers who work outside the home, I admire you. To all of you mothers who are stay-at-home moms, I admire you, too! I walked both shoes and both paths have their challenges and benefits.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom longer than I’ve been out in the labor and workforce world. But the hats God’s given me to wear confirm that I work. I’ve worn many working hats including wife, mom, nursemaid, daughter, sister, friend, caretaker, cabdriver, house cleaner, grocery store shopper, meal planner, meal maker, advice giver, confidant, prayer warrior, inspirational speaker, author, and survivor.

And sometimes I feel worn out, exhausted, and tired. Likely, so do you. Life is not always a field of beautiful flowers. It’s not pretty all the time. Sometimes it feels like it is full of thistles! Are you following me? The thistle picture includes sharp life-weeds like pain, frustration, exhaustion, overwhelming consumption of our time, loneliness, too much to do, too little to do, and questions like: “Am I successful? Am I accomplishing enough? Did I finally get it right? And is this really what life is all about?”

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And sometimes we want to pull our hands away from the wheelbarrow, out of our gloves for just a moment, take a break, and listen to Jesus say, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28).

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Beloved, we cannot find authentic “rest” in this world. But we can find it in God!

Labor Day has passed until we celebrate it again next year. Until then, thank God for the path He’s given you to follow, the wheelbarrow He’s given you to load, the work gloves He has blessed you to wear, and whether you work behind the scenes or in the forefront, at home or in the world workforce, take the job He’s given you, and work for His glory.

Hope in Him,
Helo