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Empty Nest Devotional Book

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Empty Nest Devotional Book

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Rearview Memories and a Hopeful Resource for the Mom of the Graduate

A guest post by Kristen Strong

If you’ve brushed shoulders with me from time to time, you know I love taking pictures. Whether hiking Rocky Mountains trails near my Colorado home or enjoying Rocky Road ice cream on my humble back porch, my kids and husband put up with my frequent desire to stop for pics “real quick like.”

And I put up with their ribbing about such things.

But I can’t help it—I am who I am. I relish moments framed in pixels, and I find these illustrated rectangles and squares testify to the many blessings found in life’s small moments.

I find too that with time, the memories pictures invoke so often turn into present day touchstones of God’s faithfulness.

I’ve always had a reflective personality that likes to relive good days gone by (as well as how the Lord pulled us through some hard days gone by). And while that is all well and good, reliving those good days can also make it very hard for me to enjoy the here and now because I’m too busy craning my neck to look for signs of yesteryear when things seemed a bit brighter and happier.

Rearview memories, like scenes reflected in rearview mirrors, are rather interesting. Of course, many (most?) of us can likely recall painful moments of the past like they happened just yesterday. But often still, the further those rearview memories travel in the distance, the hazier their sharp, painful edges may become. By the same token, marinating in the good parts of those memories might give us a more charitable view of them than perhaps reality at that time would’ve revealed

As our daughter, the baby of our family who just graduated high school, flies the nest this fall, that’s what I find myself contending with: Dwelling on happy rearview memories, specifically the days when she and her older brothers were all home. I do this to such a degree I start to believe that just maybe the best years of my life are in the rearview mirror too.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong at all with recollecting the past and celebrating the gifts found in family and the gifts found in God’s faithfulness through good times and bad. But I don’t want to elevate those active memory-filled years of having kids under our roof (while simultaneously minimizing the less desirable realities that came with young children) so that I believe the good life for myself and my husband is a thing of the past.

Psychology researchers Terence Mitchell and Leigh Thompson call this propensity to let history erase the less pleasant parts of memories “rosy retrospection.” In the words of these smart folks, rosy retrospection brings about a dampening of our current life pleasures because:

“We are hard-wired to give negative stimuli a lot more cognitive attention in the present…But these details disappear by the wayside in our memories. The result? Rosy retrospection: recalling the past more fondly than we experienced it at the time.” [1]If it’s true we can remember the past more fondly that we experienced at the time, I believe it’s possible to experience the present—and the future—more fondly than we think we will. Scripture backs this up in several passages, not the least of which is Ephesians 1:18:

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people” (NLT).

Having already sent twin sons to college, I know that it’s important to remember the good times with our adult (and adult-ish) kids as well as mourn the loss of their presence full time under our roof. As you do so, take heart: whether you’re a brand-new Empty Nester like I’m about to become or a more seasoned one, you shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Jesus’s very life on this earth and death and resurrection proves that good things exist beyond goodbyes.

Change can be hard, oh yes. But hard change can still be very good, especially when it’s allowed by our heavenly Father—which all change is.

Before you know it, you will be watering the plants or planning the meeting or driving to that appointment and find yourself reflecting on some rearview memories of Empty Nester You. Then, you’ll do a double take because of the light-filled pictures you see: touchstones of God’s faithfulness found in good memories that continue to surface and bloom within this life change.

The Changing Nest: A Twelve Day Devotional for the Mom of the Graduate

I wrote a downloadable ebook devotional called The Changing Nest: A Twelve Day Devotional for the Mom of the Graduate. It’s called The Changing Nest because while we may have fewer people living inside our homes, God wants to fill our hearts and our nests with His goodness—to see His goodness in the land of the living—as much today as He did when our kids were younger. Our nests may be changing, but in many ways they aren’t empty.

The Changing Nest ebook will benefit you by:

  • Helping you name the lossesand the good things found within this season of change.
  • Preparing you for what’s to come so you have more peace where you are now–and where you’ll be tomorrow.
  • Acting as a come alongside friend who gets how you’re feeling right now–and offers a hopeful perspective on what you can expect in the future.

Within this $10 downloadable ebook you’ll find:

  • Twelve days of stories + solid, meaningful encouragement including a focus verse for each day that will help you have a hopeful perspective of this changing season.
  • Twelve daily prayers for the mom of the graduate.
  • A bonus page of Scripture-based prayers for the recent graduate.

Visit this page here to purchase a copy and/or gift a copy to a loved one!

 

[1] Shuhua Xiong, “Why We Romanticize the Past,” New York Times, April 2, 2021,

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/02/smarter-living/why-we-romanticize-the-past.html.

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