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



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…