The Prayer of A Mom Whose Nest Will Soon Be Empty

The Prayer of a Mom Whose Nest Will Soon Be Empty

An adaption from Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and You know me.

You know when I sit in the crawlspace looking through my son’s Rubbermaid full of childhood.

You know when I rise and start the washer, so that he has clean clothes to wear to graduation.

You perceive my thoughts about the day we’ll load his car and drive him from the top of Montana to the center of Texas for college.

You hem me in –standing behind me when I saw the positive pregnancy test 18 years ago and standing before me when I wonder how we’ll fund four years of college.

You have laid Your hand upon me,

the way I laid my hand upon his forehead while he was sleeping.

the way I laid my hand upon his backside when he was naughty.

the way I rested my hand on his arm during Saturday night church.

Your hand upon me

–such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Where can I flee from Your presence?

If I hold a newborn in the crook of my arm and admire the dimples in his hand, You are there.

If I see that child in my rearview mirror come August, You are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn and find his bedroom uncomfortably empty,

if I settle on the far north of the continental U.S. while he is in tornado country,

even there Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness of missing my children will hide me and the empty nest years become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.

You know me.

Your hand is on me.

You are there.

Amen,

Christy Fitzwater

Christy and Son (This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

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When Your Heart Is Troubled: 3 Scriptures to Settle Your Soul

When Your Heart Is Troubled - 3 Scriptures to Settle Your Soul

My heart is troubled.

Aching, really.

And I wish it wasn’t so.

Because I want to walk in faith and not worry so much.

To be unshaken by my present circumstances and undaunted by today’s challenges.

And yet here I am troubled in spirit and unsettled in my soul.

When Your Heart Is Troubled

Longing for Home

You probably know that we care for my mother-in-law and that she and Dad have lived with us for the past 17 years.

And how I love her.

And how much she means to me.

And how she suffers from Alzheimer’s and hardly recognizes who we are anymore.

It has become increasingly difficult to care for her – not because we don’t want to –  but because her condition continues to deteriorate.

Among other things, she has this strong impulse to slip out the door and start walking out into the hundreds of empty acres that surround our property. Packing her fuzzy, pink slippers with her as she’s heading off to heaven.

God has called her and so she’s heading Home with her heavenly slippers tucked neatly under her arm. 

And she gets fairly irate when we try and stop her.

Even downright feisty.

I suppose I’d get irate too, if you stood in the way between me and heaven.

Yeah, I think I’d get good and mad and put up a fight.

So, you see, we just don’t know how much longer we can handle her.

Yet I gave her my word.

Several years ago I took her sweet hands into my own and looked into her eyes.

And I promised that we would always take care of her.

Always.

But what do you do when you can’t keep your promise? And what will we do when can no longer keep her here . . . when all she longs for is Home?

What then? 

When Your Heart Is Troubled

A Troubled Heart

And you, my friend.

Maybe you don’t have your Mom taking long walks toward Heaven nearly every chance that she gets.

Maybe you’re worried about your marriage.

Or anxious for your children.

Or wondering how it’s possibly going to work out with your finances.

Maybe it’s poor health or difficult relationships or your stressful job.

And it deeply troubles your soul.

So what then? 

Call on the Lord. 

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From His temple He heard my voice,
    and my cry to Him reached His ears. ~ Psalm 18:6

Sometimes we forget that we can call on the Lord Almighty, Creator of the Universe, and we try to solve our problems all on our own. Crazy, to think we could forget such a thing.

And yet we do.

We look to ourselves for the answers, as if we could figure it out. Without Him.

But His Word says that our cries reach His ears. He is listening! He hears us and we can call on Him.

Anytime. Day or night.

So cry out to Him.

Trust in the Lord.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
 O my God, in you I trust;
     ~ Psalm 25:1-2a

We can have confidence that our God is watching over us. None of this catches Him by surprise. Not our sorrows and not our circumstances.

He is good and kind and powerful.

Put your trust in God and He will not fail you. 

Wait on the Lord.

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord! ~ Psalm 27:14

Right now. That’s when I want my problem solved. I want to know the solution today.

But Scripture tells us to “wait for the Lord.” Not rush ahead and try solve the issue this very minute. We can quiet our souls, knowing that we are safe and well in His hands.

Wait on the Lord. He is able to deliver you. 

It Is Well With My Soul

Last night, before turning in, I checked on Dad and Mom to see if they were doing alright. I found them sitting there at the kitchen table holding hands and singing their hearts out to old gospel tunes. One right after the other.

Could see Dad with big tears in his eyes. Big sweet tears.

It was one of those rare moments when Mom knew who he was and that he was her faithful, loving husband.

And she knew that their time on earth was growing short.

And they talked about tying a rope to each other, so that when one went . . . the other could follow.

And I wished it was like that.

But it’s not. So here they are, waiting on the Lord.

And if they can do it? So can I.

And so can you.

Call. Trust. Wait. 

Be strong and let your heart take courage. 

In His grace,

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*I’d be grateful if you prayed for dear Patricia, if you think about it. And I’d be glad to pray for you too, if you want to leave your request in the comments below. 

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Encouragement for Weary Penny-Pinchers

Encouragement for Weary Penny Pinchers

I am frugal by nature and generally enjoy the challenge of saving money and living on a tight budget.

But every now and then, I simply get weary of it all.

Needing to carefully analyze whether every purchase is a good buy leaves me feeling exhausted, and I get frustrated that our finances (or the lack thereof!) control so much of what we can and cannot do.  Sometimes I even feel like being totally irresponsible and blowing money on something ridiculous “just because.”

Whenever I am on the edge of burnout, there are several things that I have found beneficial to do to refocus and renew my energy for living frugally.  And since we all seem to deal with “budget burnout” one time or another, I think you’ll find the helpful as well!

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR WEARY PENNY PINCHERS

1. Remember Why You are Saving

Why are you pinching pennies?  What is it that is motivating you to live frugally in the first place?

Is it because you are working at paying off your student loans?  Is it so you can stay at home with your children?  Are you saving up to replace your older car with a newer one?

For us it’s been a variety of things.  When we first got married it was so that we could purchase a house and pay it off as soon as possible.  Once our house was paid off, our motivation to live frugally was simply that we could have more to share with others in need.  Now our goal is to get my husband through college without going into debt.

Reminding yourself of what you are working towards and thinking about that goal can be helpful to refocus and make it a little easier to do the hard work of sacrificing.

2. Take a Break

You know how a vacation can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face the busyness of life again?  Sometimes it’s helpful to take a short vacation of sorts from being frugal too.

I’m not suggesting that you spend your money carelessly and rack up debt on your credit card.  Rather, I simply recommend you take a short break from being intently focused on saving to allow yourself the chance to relax and refresh a bit.

One of the ways I do this is to take a break from using coupons.  I’m an avid coupon user and it’s one of the main things that allows us to have a $200/mo. grocery budget, but it also takes quite a bit of time and energy too!  So when I start feeling that exhaustion and burned out feeling creeping in, I’ll slack off on couponing for a couple of weeks.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that I won’t use any coupons during that time, just that I’ll not be as aggressive in my deal shopping. For instance, instead of going to 3 stores those weeks, I’ll just pick the one that has the best deals and shop there.

3. Count your Blessings

Take a moment and write down 20 things that you are grateful for.  Or make it 40!  Focusing on those things instead of how frustrating your tight budget is doesn’t necessarily change your financial situation, but it can change your outlook.  And sometimes that is all that we need to help refocus ourselves and keep us going!

4. Splurge a Little

I know it might sound surprising, but one of the things that I have found helpful is to allow myself a small splurge when I’m feeling burned out with budgeting.

You know, something we don’t typically do like enjoying an evening out for dinner, buying a new book that I’ve wished I could read (I rarely buy books of any kind, let alone new) or grabbing a bouquet of fresh cut flowers at our local farmer’s market.

Yes, it may set us back a tiny bit in getting ahead financially, but something about relaxing a little like that usually gives me an incentive boost and helps me feel like doing the hard work of saving again.

5. Prioritize

While I love saving money, I’ve finally realized that I need to prioritize when it comes to choosing how to save.  As we had more children and I got busier, some things just didn’t provide enough savings for the amount of time that they took to do or the benefit of doing them wasn’t great enough.

For instance, making my laundry detergent was fairly easy to do and saved quite a bit of money.  But over time, due to our extremely hard water, it felt like it wasn’t really getting our clothes clean any more.  So I decided that for now, making my own detergent is just one of those things that isn’t worth doing and I instead focus my energy on finding other ways to save.

What about you?  What do you find helpful when you are dealing with budget burnout?   

~ Lydia, ThriftyFrugalMom

Thrifty Frugal MomLydia is a God loving, committed wife and stay-at-home mom of 3 who loves encouraging women in all aspects of homemaking. She and her family enjoy the adventure of living in the city near the beautiful Amish country in Pennsylvania.  She is also the blogger behind Thrifty Frugal Mom where she loves sharing easy, from-scratch recipes, inspiration for successful homemaking and lot of great money saving ideas!

You can also find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!
(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

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How Sisters Grow Into Good Friends: Encouraging a Strong Bond Between Girls

How Sisters Grow Into Good Friends: Encouraging a Strong Bond Between Girls

I don’t mean to complain.

But I haven’t been sleeping too well lately.

It’s all the racket that goes on upstairs.

That party that seems to start up most every night.

I won’t mention any names, but they’re girls and there are 3 of them.

And they happen to be mine.

Three sisters.

Who like to stay up late (which is to say, past 10 pm) and talk and laugh. Confide and cry. And get a little crazy together.

That’s our girls.

Now – not to pull you into our personal family matters – but I will tell you that it used to annoy my husband. All that noise and chatter. His inclination was to shut it down. Put a stop to the soiree.

I protested, “But, Honey, I actually really like it. Those are beautiful sounds to me. In fact, I LOVE to hear the girls giggling late into the night.”

Because, you see,  I never had any sisters.

No built-in friends for me.

I just went to bed and lights out. No one to talk to . . . or laugh with . . . or cry on. A rather lonely deal.

But these girls haven’t had that same experience because they’ve grown into good friends.

The closest of friends.

Notice that I say “grown into” because that’s the key word here.

They were not born best-friends.

This is something that we worked on. Worked hard on at times.

I  just don’t want you go get the wrong idea. Like we’re all simply peaches-n-cream over here.  All politeness and understanding.  Soft answers and sacrificial love.

Because I don’t know what your daughters are like, but let me say this about mine.

These girls are strong. They have very different personalities and sometimes very different ideas from the others.

So this sweet friendship that they now enjoy?

It took a lot of effort and encouragement.

On their part.

And mine.

How Sisters Grow Into Good Friends: Building Strong Bonds Between Girls

How to Encourage A Strong Bond Between Sisters

Help them to appreciate one another’s differences.

They say “opposites attract” but they must not have been talking about sisters because this sure didn’t happen naturally in our home.  As the mom, I got to play a heavy role in helping the girls see the good qualities in each other. One child is dreamy and the other is practical. One child is a “messy” and the other a clean-freak. One is a chatterbox and another is quiet and more reserved.

These differences often resulted in irritation, argument, and sometimes downright jealousy between the girls.

So it fell to Matthew and me to help them get beyond these surface things and on to a deeper understanding and appreciation of each sister. To help them see and celebrate the differences.

Insist on loyalty to each other.

Each of our girls has friends outside of the family. But those friends all know that the Jacobson girls are fiercely loyal to one another. That’s just a well-known fact. So don’t even think of talking behind their backs or saying anything disparaging about a sister.

Because blood is thicker than water and all that.

And these girls stand by each other.

Take the time to talk things out.

And if you’re thinking, but that could take hours! You would be right. Yet those hours are well worth it now that they’re older and turn to each other, every bit as much as they turn to me.

So take the time and teach them the skill of working things out. They’ll have the rest of their lives to thank you for it.

Set aside time to build a friendship.

It’s not easy to grow close when everyone is busy and always scattering in opposite directions.  So we started by having a Tea Time together once a week and now that ritual has grown into Tea Time every night. Before retiring (well, before their Dad and I turn in – because their party is only beginning, as you know), we gather together for a cup of tea and discuss what went on in our day—-events, frustrations, feelings, and things of interest.

Since the girls have grown older and can drive, they like hanging out together – go out to coffee, catch a movie, or help out a family in need.

Pray for their relationship.

Often the best thing you can do is simply pray for your girls and their friendship. Pray for a breakthrough, for better understanding, and for a new closeness. Pray for healing where there’s been hurt feelings and for reconciliation where there’s been broken relationship. Pray that they grow to love one another.

How Sisters Grow Into Friends - Encouraging Strong Bonds Between Girls

Sisters & Friends

Now that two of these girls are getting ready to leave home? Head out across the country?

They’re already making plans on how they’re going to visit each other, Skype one another, and spend their holidays together.

Continue to talk and giggle and grow together.

Because, of course, that’s what good friends do.

So the party goes on . . .

And I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss those loud, laughing noises upstairs!

In His grace,

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*What do you do to encourage friendship in your family? Did you grow up having sisters – and are you close now? 

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Motherhood: What Every Woman on a Mission Should Know

Motherhood - What Every Woman on a Mission Should Know
The Lord has given me a calling.

A high calling, really.

A high calling that requires a woman to stoop low.

To scoop up babies, to pick up toys and to clean up messes.

To wipe runny noses and patch up scratched knees.

It’s known as Motherhood and there are times when it doesn’t feel like all that grand or glorious of a calling.

And there are times when it does.

Like when the little ones snuggle into my arms, or the older ones look to me for answers. When I’m needed to comfort their hearts or speak truth into their young lives.

Then it’s nearly breath-taking.

All this because God has made me their mother.

He has put these children – and these challenges – in my life as part of what He is doing in this world.

Rather amazing.

So when I consider the wonderful privilege of motherhood, I feel blessed beyond words. And I know you do too.

But when I don’t stop to consider?

That’s when I can feel overwhelmed by its dailyness and the seemingly smallness.

Then I experience frustration. Defeat and discouragement.

On those days it feels like we’re going nowhere.

I have to stop and remember I’m a woman on a mission.

And as a mission-minded woman I want to be prepared for the important work that’s before me.

It’s not enough to merely muddle-through motherhood, I want to embrace it and make the most of it.

As do you.

Motherhood - What Every Woman on a Mission Should Know

Embracing the Mission of Motherhood

Scripture-Filled.

When a mother is pouring out all day, she needs to be filled up too. Spending time in His Word is essential. If hours of uninterrupted time aren’t available (right!), try posting Bible verses throughout the house – in the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom and other popular places – to memorize and meditate on throughout the day.

Sift Through Priorities.

One of the challenges of motherhood? EVERYTHING is  important. Meals, cleaning, organizing, driving . . . Oh yes, and caring for their hearts. But there are times when we have to let go of good things, in order to get best things done. We might have scrambled eggs for dinner because I spent the afternoon helping two sisters learn to love each other. No need to be hard on myself – I’ve chosen the better part.

Seasons of Life.

Much frustration can come from bucking up against this reality of life. A new baby puts us in survival mode. Sleep, food, and basic hygiene is often all that can be achieved in such a season. Sickness can be a similar experience. A loss or a move can set us back for months. But if this is what The Lord has brought into our lives? Then this is what He intends for us.

And so . . . .

Soften Your Heart.

To the lessons the Lord has for you and your family. Don’t merely try to “get through it”, but desire all that He wants to do through your circumstances and trials. Then you’ll grow – and your children will grow right along with you. Much is gained, even if little is accomplished.

Stop Sighing.

It’s so easy to slip into the unconscious habit of sighing. A small set-back. Sigh. More work to be done. Sigh. So much training left to do. Sigh. Not only does this defeat your spirit, but that quiet sigh communicates your discontent to your children far too loudly.

Instead . . . .

Savor the Sweetness.

Of this precious time. Look for and enjoy the bright moments. Laugh at the funny antics of your children. Listen to their creative ideas. Kiss their darling cheeks and help them see God in the small things. Pour His love into their lives while you have the chance.

Let’s set our sight on this high calling.

It’s when we get to looking down at all the sticky spots and work left undone that we get discouraged. So let’s keep looking up.  Looking up to the God who gave us this beautiful gift called motherhood.

Yes, we are truly blessed with a high calling.

Women with a mission.

Her children rise up and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28).

In His grace,
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What Makes the Proverbs 31 Woman So Surprisingly Fearless

What Makes the Proverbs 31 Woman So Surprisingly Fearless

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.  ~ Proverbs 31:25

As I imagine her, I’m in awe…

She stands in her front yard, hearing her neighbor out. The neighbor lady whose forehead is always wrinkled in worry. The one who’s forever forecasting doom. Doom that very well may come.

But the Proverbs 31 woman is unruffled. She listens. Speaks a few sincere words. Puts an arm around her neighbor’s shoulder and then smiles with confidence. A laugh even bubbles up. Not a careless laugh, but one of peace and joy. Somehow she’s not terrified.

This Proverbs 31 woman intrigues me. How can she laugh at the time to come?

Me? I look at the future with apprehension.

I mean really… The world is falling apart!

My kids face temptations, struggles, and a future, that apart from God could completely undo them.

There’s terrorism, human trafficking, persecution, disease, and natural disaster on every front.

Godly values are disdained and discarded.

What if life changes completely? What if my idols of safety, security, comfort, and happiness vanish?

I’m just not prepared for that!

What Makes the Proverbs 31 Woman So Surprisingly Fearless

Prepared…

That’s what the Proverbs 31 woman is. That’s where her gentle laugh comes from. She knows the future is uncertain. She’s planning on it and she’s been preparing for it all along. How?

First of all, she’s worked hard to care for her family’s needs.

She’s resisted the addictions of her day. She’s pushed herself past indulgences. Instead, she’s been doing some serious stuff to make sure her family’s needs are met.

She’s faithfully focused on those who matter most.

Secondly, she’s full of godly character.

Her strength and dignity are so much a part of her, that she’s clothed in them. She’s spent her lifetime developing godly traits. She’s an excellent wife, trustworthy, skilled, ambitious, generous, wise, and kind.

She’s spent a lifetime strengthening her soul. Her roots go deep. Strong winds won’t topple her.

Thirdly, she knows the Lord.

The joy of the Lord is her strength. Where else would she get this kind of character, if not from God Himself? She’s a woman who fears the Lord — not man.

Her foundation is the same as that of the Psalmist: “In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11)

The Proverbs 31 woman embraces the future, because she knows that…

neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

I want this to be me.

You too?

We know it’s going to end well. Yes, our Enemy will pull out all the stops. But only because he too knows his end is near.

What if we looked past the gloom that fills the news today? Past the clouds hovering over tomorrow?

What if we focused instead on the hope that lies before us?

What if we were clothed in strength and dignity, shining as lights in this dark world, laughing at the time to come?

Blessings,

Jennifer

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