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How to Find Joy in the Empty This Year

December 15, 2016


They say my nest is empty.

I never truly understood what it meant until now. It slipped in quietly while I wasn’t looking and it magnifies at Christmastime. There’s something about children in the house that adds a special dose of delight and wonder (and craziness) to the season like nothing else can. Decorating the tree, hot chocolate, Christmas movies, and staying a step ahead of snoopy present hunters are just a few of the joys. You may have noticed, I didn’t mention baking cookies. There’s a reason and you can read about it here.

Now my nest is quiet, not always but most always. I enjoy the quiet moments, yet still miss the silly loudness and sticky peanut butter hand-prints smeared on the glass.

I reach for fleeting memories just beyond my grasp. My heart yearns for those crack-of-dawn Christmas mornings when little hands shake me awake in anticipation (and silly me wants to sleep-in a bit longer). I make them wait as I go out first to “put the coffee on” and light up the tree. I pop cinnamon rolls in the oven as the wrapping paper flies. Christmas lists materialize in the middle of the living room and I watch their faces light-up brighter than the star on the tree.

And then there was that time I accidentally doubled the measure of salt in the breakfast casserole. Ever do that?

But no matter the current status of this mama bird’s nest, I will choose joy and I will choose to be glad. For although life brings seasons and cycles and changes, life brings new and wonderful and fresh.

My nest is what I choose to make it. It’s a nest filled with love. A safe place.

And why not choose the full rather than the empty?

My children and grandchildren visit the nest and although they may only stay for a time, I am overcome with love and the realization that my nest is not empty after all. It is continually refilling as the years go by. I’m sure hubby agrees.

There is fullness of joy when I see the man and woman our son and daughter have grown to be.

I am fulfilled to overflowing as loving arms of grandchildren wrap around me like a warm blanket, and I smile as they sweetly kiss my cheek.

This is part of the path of life. And God will not allow us to journey it alone. No matter what, He is there.

So young moms, enjoy every moment and know this: sleeping-in on Christmas morning is overrated, even if you just went to bed an hour before. Careful not to blink because all that talk about time going by quickly? It’s not a cliche. Savor every moment.

And empty nest moms, hang on to your memories, but don’t miss the new ones waiting to be made.

This is not the end of the story because the old story is not gone, it stretches and grows and becomes something truly wonderful.

My nest is where abundance flows with the fullness of peace, love, and hope. My nest is where the Holy Spirit dwells and Jesus is Lord.

No matter our journey or whether we have young children, grown children, or no children at all, when we invite the presence of the Lord into our nest called home, we will find fullness of joy always. That’s a promise.

But maybe it’s not your nest that feels empty, maybe it’s you. Friend, this promise and truth applies to the deepest parts of our soul. The key is His presence. Invite God in and therein lies the fullness of joy.

Sometimes God allows the empty so we have room for more of Him.

Our nests are not empty, our nests are blessed.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Merry Christmas friend, and may your heart be glad…

Rejoicing in the reason for the season,





Christmas: Taking the Leap from Stressed to Blessed

December 22, 2015

Christmas collage

Christmas is here!

That time of year for childlike excitement, and turn-your-hair-gray stress all at the same time.

Why is that?

I have a theory. It’s our DNA (Director of Navigating Amazing).

We’ve convinced ourselves we’re in charge of the perfect Christmas experience.

Am I right?

Let’s do a quick rundown of four types of stress we face:

  • Materialistic Stress

Spoiler alert: Every kiss does not begin with Kay, unless your name is Kay.

Here’s a little story I call “The Year of the Christmas Fluff”

Looking back over my “growing-up” years, I can see how God provided for my family, even when we weren’t exactly living for Him. We didn’t know what being a true Christian meant, so we kept God in a neat little box called Sunday.

I remember this one Christmas, friends were coming over for cookies and hot chocolate. We had more than enough gifts under the tree, but somehow we felt it was lacking.

So we actually did this…

We went hunting through clothes we already had, pulled out extra boxes, and put them under the tree to give the impression of more. Wow, I know.

So yeah, we were fluffers, but just that one time.

Keep in mind, this was “BC” before we really knew Christ. It wasn’t until much later in life I learned:

More stuff doesn’t = a perfect Christmas

  • Financial Stress

Financial stress may actually be guilt tied to the wallet.

Have we spent enough? Have we spent too much? We don’t have enough to spend. We’ve spent too much, and now we don’t have enough left over…

Enough already.

Stop. Feeling. Guilty.

It may be too late to budget for this year, but it’s not too early to budget for next.

  • Crazy Schedule Stress

We run ourselves ragged, trying to cram in as many Christmas events as humanly possible.

Key word? Human.

We’re human and we’re running on empty. Even a caramel mocha peppermint snowflake latte won’t fix it.

Choose only the most meaningful Christmas gatherings and events.

It’s okay to say no when you can’t go.

  • Emotional Stress 

We miss people more this time of year. We feel lonely in a roomful of people. We gather with family and friends who don’t always share our beliefs and values. We may even be forced to co-mingle with annoying people. Imagine that.

Maybe that is the point, to be a light and show love to even the most unlovable.

Newsflash, we probably annoy some people too.

Truth is, we manufacture most of the stress ourselves, don’t we?

Perhaps the diagnosis is PERFECTIONITIS?

Yes, I made that word up, but you know what I mean.

“For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It’s a fast track to unhappiness… What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation.” Psychology Today

Let me just say, it’s okay if not all of us are bakers, and not all of us are crafty.

Let’s stop trying to live up to our own huge expectations.

We can’t be a blessing when we’re stressing. Take a breath.

If we don’t get it exactly right on this one day, we are not failures we are fine. We’ll still be celebrating Jesus long after the tree is tossed and the cats eat the tinsel.

So what do we do?

We remember a true story:

Mary’s story, our story, HIStory…


We are celebrating Jesus, not everything  i and Apple, including Aunt Martha’s apple pie.

Another cool thing?

We are in the Christmas story.

Did you ever think of Christmas in that way?

God had you and me on His mind when He came as a babe, born of a virgin, on that Oh Holy Night.

Mary said “let it be as you have said.”

Let it be…

Christmas is not meant to be a stress fest, let it be a bless fest.

May the peace of God reign in your hearts through this season and always.

Love to you all, and have a blessed and Merry Christmas!

P.S. If we find ourselves losing sight of what Christmas is all about, we can click on the link below and allow Linus to remind us.

For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11