Later today, I’ll be dropping my daughter off for the start of her junior year of college, and my wife and I will be entering the empty nest. (Last week, we dropped our son off for his freshman year of college.) While I’m sad to say goodbye to my kids knowing their return home will never quite be the same, I’m extremely excited by this next step in our journey together.
Many people talk about the empty nest with negativity. People imply that life is almost over when the kids leave the house. Or people wonder out loud about how spouses will handle each other without the barrier and distraction of children.
The empty nest doesn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, there are things you can do today to better prepare yourself for the empty nest.
When you take these steps, you too can enter the empty nest with enthusiasm, hope, and excitement. Don’t wait for the kids to say goodbye, take action today to get ready for the empty nest!
Sunday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition. This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year. To read more about the tradition, click here.
This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year. (Monday, I shared the first thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth. Tuesday, I shared the second thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth. And yesterday, I shared the third thing I’ll be writing on the tablecloth.)
Today, I’m thankful for my kids. They have kept me busy and proud this year.
I’m thankful for Hannah, our oldest. She kept us busy this year graduating from high school and starting college. We’re excited to have her home this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.
And I’m thankful for Isaac. He has also had a year of milestones – his first job, driving, and working on his music and scouting programs.
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. Psalm 127:3-5
Yesterday, I introduced the Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition. This is a tradition our family started 15 years ago, and it has helped ensure we intentionally reflect on God’s provision in our lives over the past year. To read more about the tradition, click here.
This week, I’ll be sharing the things I’ll be writing on the tablecloth this year.
On Sunday, I took time to brainstorm my gratitude using the Lighten (mind mapping) application on my iPad, so I’ll be sharing pictures of my Thank You 2016 mindmap to give you a glimpse into my world.
I’m thankful for 2 weeks in Guatemala this summer. Our family traveled to Guatemala to help build three homes and to continue ministry to widows and orphans in the village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj.
I’m thankful for Ann Flynn who joined our team this year. Besides the medical expertise and humor she brought to the trip, it was refreshing to see Xenacoj through her eyes. One of my dreams is to bring others with us when we go to Xenacoj. I want them to experience what we’ve experienced, and I want them to develop a heart for the beautiful people we serve. Ann’s participation in this year’s trip gave me hope that this will happen.
I’m thankful for safe travels, and I’m thankful for the people who helped us out on either side of our trip with transportation and pet care.
I’m thankful for the 3 houses we helped build. More importantly, I’m thankful for the opportunity to engage with the families of Dolores, Maria, and Carmen. I look forward to visiting them when we return again.
I’m thankful for Hillary. She’s visited Xenacoj several times in the past as part of medical missions trips. This was our first trip together. She added a lot to our first week in Guatemala, and I’m thankful for her medical support when Leanne fainted on the construction site the first day.
I’m thankful for my mornings in Guatemala. Each morning I had the opportunity to spend time on the roof of our residence before anyone else woke up. This was my opportunity for Rooftop Reflections – a daily video blog of my thoughts. I also did a lot of reading in the morning. I read through I and II Thessalonians and The Promise of a Pencil and Start Something That Matters. Finally, I had the opportunity in the morning to walk the streets of Xenacoj while Hannah ran on ahead. These morning walks allowed me to suck in the sites, smells, and sounds that come with each morning in this village I love.
I’m thankful for Hope Haven. This is where we helped out in their warehouse where they build wheelchairs for people all over the world. We also participated in a wheelchair basketball game. (It’s harder than you think.)
I’m thankful for Cruz Ayapan, a small village just outside of Xenacoj. This village and it’s village are clear reminders that God’s love is needed all over the world and there is still much work to be done.
I’m thankful for our widows walk with German. It was beautiful to see German’s heart as he ministered to the women in his village who are often forgotten.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet with Mario Aquino, the mayor of Xenacoj. This meeting provided an incredible time to discuss a vision for our involvement in the future.
I’m thankful for the generosity of so many donors who helped make this trip possible.
I’m thankful for Oreo, the dog who we adopted during our trip. He lived outside our house, and he always greeted us with his expressive tail and ears.
I’m thankful for protection from witchcraft. I don’t talk about this a lot, but there were people in the village who weren’t excited to have us there. I’m thankful we stayed safe during this experience.
I’m thankful for our wonderful translators. Not only did they help us communicate with the locals, but they became our friends.
And I’m thankful for our visit to Antigua. This is the tourist village about 40 minutes from Xenacoj. I’ll always remember the rooftop dinner with our team and the McDonalds date with Leanne while our kids shopped for souvenirs with the rest of our team.0
Stay tuned for Day Two of my Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition reflections.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1
Across America, people will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week.
Some people will be watching one of the NFL football games televised throughout the day. Others will watch a Thanksgiving parade. Many Americans will be gathering with family and friends to eat a traditional Thanksgiving feast. A few of you may lace up your running shoes or your football cleats for a Thanksgiving 5K or a community Turkey Bowl game.
These are all great traditions. I know I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and eating the delicious Thanksgiving feast.
Thanksgiving is more than family, food, and football. Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. While we should be thankful all year, Thanksgiving gives us all the opportunity to more intentional in our gratitude.
For the past 15 years, our family has celebrated Thanksgiving with our Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition.
Here’s how it works:
We have a white tablecloth for our Thanksgiving table. We purchased fabric markers. Each guest at our Thanksgiving feast traces their hand print on the tablecloth using one of the fabric markers (make sure you put a piece of cardboard under the tablecloth while you are doing this part). They write their name and the year in the palm of the hand print. Then each guest writes five things for which they are thankful (one in each finger). You may want to put a piece of clear plastic over the tablecloth after everyone has finished their hand print.
Each year we pull out the tablecloth, and we read over the hand prints from previous years. It’s amazing to see God’s provision in our lives over the years.
We are on our 2nd tablecloth. The tablecloths include names of family members who are no longer with us. They include the colorful and sloppy handwriting of our youngest family members, and they include the beautiful hand prints from friends who joined us for the Thanksgiving meal.
Over the next week, I’ll be sharing the five things I’ll be writing on my hand print this year.
Start a new tradition this year – The Thanksgiving Tablecloth Tradition. Go pickup a tablecloth and some fabric markers. It’s good to give thanks.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4
Friday afternoon at the end of my workday, I received a phone call from my Grandpa. Grandpa Miller lives in Minneapolis, MN, and I live outside of Philadelphia, PA which means we don’t see each other very often. And I’m embarrassed to admit we don’t talk nearly as often as we should. I think we both share the guilt for our infrequent conversations.
One of the things that keeps us connected is my blog. Every time I publish a new blog post, Grandpa gets an email from me. He keeps tabs on me in part by reading my blog posts.
I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I didn’t publish a single blog post last week. One person did notice – Grandpa. His phone call on Friday afternoon was a call of concern for me. Was a sick? Was I busy? Was I okay? Grandpa called to check-up on me.
Grandpa’s phone call reminded me of several important things.
Thank you, Grandpa, for calling! It meant the world to me to hear your voice and to know you care. I love you!