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Facing the New Year’s Changes…

Hello Friends!

Our time for this “semester” is coming to an end, and a natural break is coming up in the first week of December. After the first of the year, we will have an “open enrollment” time to add new members to our groups, and Teresa and I (Marina) have been praying about what the new year might look like for our group.

We have much more activity going on at the Facebook page, and we want to be sensitive to those that don’t have a Facebook account, but we also need to be discerning about the time that we spend online. We have come up with a few options, and want to include YOU on helping make those decisions.

One option is to have guest posts appear here on the blog. You could email a submission to us at our group email (I am not typing it out as a direct link, to help thwart spammers) relativelyemptynesting(at)gmail(dot)com. If you think that you’d like to share your story, or a successful solution, please email it to that email address, and we will glean the submissions for use in the upcoming semester.

Another option is to engage more through study, or book conversations. I provided this option with Holley Gerth’s book “You’re Already Amazing” and several of you had already read it, while some of you were open to going through the book together after the first of the year. That’s still an option – I’d love to do it with you!! If there’s another title that some of you would prefer reading, please mention it here and see if we can get some other interest going on it!

A third option is to be active ONLY on Facebook, since it is the largest of the groups, and the most active. For those of you NOT on Facebook, you’ve been missing out on prayer requests, conversations, and friendship building. We’ve shared  in a grandbaby’s birth, a wedding, and LOTS of prayer requests. It’s been a delight, and the burdensome times have been brighter knowing we are in community. Our group on Facebook is a PRIVATE group, so after our enrollment time, we shut the door tightly and don’t let anyone else read our posts. What you put there won’t be traceable by your kids. 🙂

We’ve had only a few members on Twitter, and Google +, and I’m sorry that it’s not worked out for us to do a group hang out there. Because we are focusing on hard topics in life, it doesn’t make much sense for us to do an Instagram or Pinterest page (although I am on both of those, and would love to connect there as we continue to build our friendships). The heart and core is to lift each other in prayer, and support each other through good and bad. We want to remain effective, and we hear from only a wonderful small group of you – so we don’t know if we are achieving our goals, or missing the boat. Those of you that regularly engage – it’s been GREAT. 🙂

So, please respond and give us some feed back. We are praying for you, for this delightful and sometimes difficult holiday season. For broken hearts and God’s intervention. For Christmas Miracles. We will touch back in a week or so, looking forward to hearing what your responses are, and praying about what changes might occur in the New Year!

Grace and peace, marina

 

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Books to help you in your empty nesting walk

I don’t know about you, but when I am going through something, I like to find books to help me through. Don’t get me wrong, God’s Word is where I always go first. But, finding Christian authors who have written about the subject can bring me wisdom and good direction. So, today I am going to share some book reviews for you in case you are like me and want to find something to help you in your {relatively} empty nesting stage of life. Two of the books I’ve already read, one I am currently reading, and three are on my “to read” list.

If you want to add any reviews, please do so in the comments! I’d love to see what you have found to help.

The Two I’ve Already Read

Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it by Ken Ham & Britt Beemer

I mentioned this book in a  previous post. This book is filled with the results from a study that Answers in Genesis and America’s Research Group did to find out why our young people are leaving the church. If you don’t care for statistics, it can be a dry read. I fall into that category, but found some of their results to be interesting and helped me to understand what was going on with my two young adult children. The big take-away for me from this book was that these kids have left the structured church, they haven’t necessarily walked away from their faith. This would be a great read for those involved in church leadership especially with children and teens. Ham & Beemer give great ideas on how to slow the exodus starting at a young age.

You Never Stop Being  a Parent: Thriving in Relationship with Your Adult Children by Jim Newheiser & Elyse Fitzpatrick

I picked up this book when our son returned home after dropping out of college. My husband and I realized he was living a life far from the one we desired for him and were lost what to do now that he was back home. This book is filled with personal stories gathered by Newheiser. This book helped me tremendously in wading through the waters of parenting a young adult. Our son coming home was now an adult, no longer a teenager–how was that supposed to look? How did we allow him to be an adult but still require respect for us and the conduct we expected from him? While wading through disappointment and confusion, this book gave me some great advice.

Currently Reading

The Afternoon of Life: Finding Purpose and Joy in Midlife by Elyse Fitzpatrick

I started reading this book after one of the gals posted about it on our {relatively} empty nesting Facebook group. She had not read it herself, but had run across it. I’m finding this one to be just as helpful as Fitzpatrick’s other book above. In this book she delves into marriage after the kids are gone, becoming a grandparent (particularly timely for me!), boomerang children, prodigal children, and ministry during our midlife. She is hitting on all the topics that are poignant for me right now. This book would be great to do as a women’s small group study. There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter for group or personal study. I highly recommend this one for you ladies out there wondering what this next season of life is supposed to hold.

On the “To Read” List

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church… and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman

From a review on Crosswalk.com–“In this book, Kinnaman argues that young people are leaving the church not because they won’t listen or aren’t trying to fathom what the church has to say; actually, quite the opposite is true: a large majority of young people consider themselves spiritual, seeking, or as possessing some sort of faith. However, at some point the message the church is sending doesn’t add up with what they are experiencing in the rest of their lives. As a result, we’re losing them, not just figuratively.You Lost Me, which focuses on the church from the inside out, seeks to explain why young people who have grown up in church are now departing from it, and what older generations of Christians can do to fix the problem.”

I want to read this book for the same reason I read Already Gone. To help me understand where my kids are coming from in their walk and what maybe I can do as their mother to bring them back to life in a community of believers, aka, the church.

Engaging Today’s Prodigal: Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope by Carol Barnier

I found this book in the book store at Willow Creek Church outside Chicago. My husband was attending a conference there and one afternoon while I was waiting for him to finish, I wandered around their large book store. The title of this book captured my attention. When looking at the Table of Contents, it grabbed my attention even more–Part One is “Debunking Myths” and Part Two is “Dos and Don’ts”. The author is, herself, a former prodigal. It looks like the book is written with some humor, but also with some very good information and helps for us parents of those 2/3 of 20-somethings that have left the church.

Blessing Your Grown Children by Debra Evans

I, also, found this book on the shelves at Willow Creek.  The book’s description says “Being a parent of an adult child is a delicate balance of loving and accepting the child while maintaining healthy boundaries. Many parents find releasing their grown children a challenge, and while parents usually want to be supportive, the choices adult children make are sometimes unacceptable to them, leading to disappointment, anger, and guilt feelings. Both parents and grown kids have many adjustments to make as the child separates from the parents’ control. With this book, parents will learn to move forward into a new type of relationship with their kids.”

This book interests me because it has a more positive bent. Instead of focusing on the path our children are taking (that we may not like or agree with), it shows how we as parents of adult kids can have a positive influence and give them blessings/praises instead of discouraging and disparaging words. It is a more active book than just gathering information type of book.

I hope in this list you’ve found some books that might be of interest/help to you. Remember, if you’ve found some books to be of use to you, please list them in the comments. Also, if you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed, please let me know what you thought of them. It’ll help others to make a decision on whether they should read them also.

–Teresa

Boomerang kids….how to live with them

Boomerang kids. They seem to be more prevalent these days. Or is it I’m just more aware of them because we have one.

Boomerang kids are adult children who have left the nest and then returned home for various reasons–college drop-out, college grad without a job, loss of job, in-between ministries, becoming a single parent, divorce, etc.

Our boomerang kid is our son. He went to college for two years and then dropped out. That is when he came back home. We were disappointed but also glad to have him back under our roof so we could help him straighten his life out. But, we also knew there had to be parameters for him living in our home again. He was involved in activities and making choices we didn’t approve of.

So, we came up with a “contract.” My husband and I sat down and decided what things needed to be in the contract. Things like that he had to have a full-time job, no drinking or doing drugs in our home, letting us know where he was and when he’d be home, picking up after himself, attending church with us each week, etc.

Then we set-up “fines” for not following the rules set forth in the contract. This was hard to do, because he was no longer a child, but an adult. So, financial fines were levied in increasing amounts according to number of infractions and severity of infractions. Once we had the contract finished and fines figured out, my husband typed it up and printed out a copy for each of us. We had our son sign all three copies and we signed all three copies also. We discussed why we were implementing this contract and our concerns about the state of his life. He agreed to abide by our rules.

However, things did not go so well. Several times, he broke the rules. And, even though some things got better, he still got his girlfriend pregnant and we needed to deal with that situation.

Time went on and the girlfriend needed a place to live. We invited her to live with us because she had nowhere else to go and we wanted to make sure our future grandchild was being well taken care of. The old contract went out the window and a new verbal contract was put in place: they had to be in separate bedrooms, they were to pay rent (a small amount to off-set utility expenses), they had to buy their own food, they were responsible for washing pots and pans they used and for putting dishes in the dishwasher and unloading the dishwasher. We discussed the importance of having a Christ-like attitude while in our home.

Things actually have gone very well. They respect us and have abided by the rules we set forth. The girlfriend has been without a job for some time and to “pay” her rent she has done some deep cleaning for me around the house (which is wonderful!). Our grandson was born last week and it is a privilege to be able to spend so much time with him. They are young parents and to be able to mentor them is a great blessing.

We’ve watched our son mature during this time. He is a wonderful father. The past year and half have been filled with lots of prayer. God has shown me what grace really is and how to have patience on Him.

How have you dealt with your boomerang kids? Did you use something like a contract with your kids? If so, what did you include in it? What was the up-side for you in having your adult child come back home?

Share here or on the Facebook page. Let’s learn from each other!