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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

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Building New Community in the Empty Nest…

In every place I’ve ever lived, I’ve needed community. I haven’t always looked for it where it was given to me, and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve actually turned my back on friendship in the past. Sometimes my expectations were too specific – what my friends should look like, where they might come from, or hiding myself away because of past sins in my life….I THOUGHT I’d rather be alone than have to be authentic in day to day life…and who would “like” me, all broken and restored and constantly making mistakes.
{Now before you go thinking I’m a HUGE snob, please hear me out! I’ve wanted them to “look like” my own age – desiring community with other women who are 50ish and loving it!! I’ve always leaned towards building relationship with “the least of these”, and was actually criticized for not dressing up enough when I volunteered in the school when my kids were young (I was on my hands and knees with kids, why would I wear a dress?), and I’ve grown to realize that we ALL make mistakes – and can love each other – warts and all!!}
We have made several significant moves in our married life, and one of the biggest moves was a few years ago, when we made our first move as empty nesters. There was an element of feeling like we were abandoning a place that our grown (and even married) kids knew as home; leaving the small town area that they grew up (although they didn’t feel very connected to the community there). They knew that there was the chance we would move, and fully supported our prayerful decision. God moved us quickly, almost effortlessly, and we were able to relocate completely within a month!
The first connection in community I was able to make was at church, meeting another woman a little younger than me (over 10 years!) who had a teen and a toddler. Our connection was a shared passion for missions and prayer, and God blessed our friendship as we discovered other things we had in common – a LOT of other things, although she wouldn’t have met my criteria if I had held her to my standards of just a few years before. More friendships were found and nurtured through women specific ministries, although most of my time was spent with women younger than me (with the exception of a small group of older women).
The surprising area of community I made was through a group of women who were married to men that worked in the same location as my husband. They welcomed me with open arms, despite the fact that I was, for the most part, more than 10 years their senior. Some were homeschoolers, some career minded. All had moved there from someplace else, and many of them have moved on to other places since. Again, we were all in different stages in life; but God blessed the relationships, and a few of them are still treasured. One in particular is like a daughter to me, and she and her husband have even become close to my kids and their spouses.
Another area of connection was through the small group that we got involved with through church. Mark was asked to lead one that would be geographically set up, for those of us living across the river from the church (we lived in Kentucky, and the church was across the Ohio River, in Indiana). Since it was set up for those that lived in our area, we knew that it might draw a variety of people age wise, and it did! In the midst of the menagerie of people, was one other couple our age – and they quickly became out best buddies. Never in our marriage have we had another couple become so dear to us so quickly. We were able to double date, and often stayed out venting about parenting our adult kids, encouraging each other in life, and praying for each other during the rough days. Although we’ve moved again, their friendship will go with us over the years.

True love is a friendship set on fire…

Probably the MOST important connection for community that I’m learning about, is this newest one….which is my OLDEST one…. my husband! After 25 years in an industry position that demanded 24/7 on call, and the past 3 years working nearly 7 days every week, I’m having to learn how to be friends with my husband again. His new position requires that he go out of town a few times a month, but he’s home most nights, and OFF ON MOST WEEKENDS! He longs for the opportunity to spend time together, discover things together, plan for the future….it sounds wonderful, right? But I’m having to learn to trust again, after always feeling that I was the last one on the priority list (it’s been God/work (in work he’s considered himself a “missionary in a chicken plant” for years), kids, me). I am concerned that we don’t have much in common any more, but he’s willing to get involved in ministries that God’s been using me, and he’s a great encourager and amazing source of inspiration. I’m willing for God to change me, He will HAVE to! I’m so used to living day to day life on my own, volunteering at church – sometimes daily – and writing, crafting, or just being an (in)courager online – at home alone. Now I have lost a lot of that “alone” time, so we are learning to share it. I’m grateful that he gets to travel, and once we are settled in this house, and have a source for dog-sitters, I hope to travel with him, and discover more about the areas that he’s traveling (it’s the same 2 locations, over and over). While he’s working in the plants, I can go out and discover the cities, or after his hours of work, we can go out together. While he’s working, I can still work on my blogging, (in)couraging, quilting…or just sleep in!
As I continue to pray for God to provide friendships, I don’t want to close myself off and miss any opportunities. He is growing me, and bringing people into my life to help me through this season. He has shown me His faithfulness, and I will walk close to His heart with desire to be changed. I look forward to His growing my marriage with my husband, and discover this (old) new friendship again; not only in this season of empty nesting, but laying a foundation for the rest of our life together, that “growing old” thing.
What have your experiences been, making friends and building community? Are you married to a workaholic too? How do you keep your marriage alive after the kids are gone? Any ideas that I can learn from??
Please be praying for both of us as we grow together in new ways, and learn to love each other through this new stage in life, in a new city, job, and church. Pray that God will provide other “couple friends” for us to do things with, create community with, and work in ministry side by side with…