Debbie has been married to Leonard for 25 1/2 years. The day Debbie said I do, she became an instant step-mom to his 3 daughters, 1 was married and the other 2, Irene & Anna, were still teenagers. With much prayer, they all learned to love each other and live together pretty well through the years. Then Stephanie arrived, their daughter together. There is nothing like a house full of girls…..I asked Debbie to share with me what it was like to transition to an empty nest.
What was the most difficult part of your transition?
Our older daughter, Irene, went away to college and that was the first adjustment. I missed her like crazy but she came home pretty often and I still had the younger one, Anna, at home plus I was pregnant. I was super busy keeping up with Anna’s activities and busy with morning sickness!
When it came time for Anna to leave home and get married, we were so happy for her, but also missed her like crazy too! When each daughter left, it felt like part of my heart left with them!
The Lord just kept me going and I remember praying and drawing close to Him through it all.
Then I really got busy with my one year old daughter and all of her activities. Plus I started meeting new friends in the neighborhood who had little girls and got busy with play dates and that sort of thing.
So then fast forward 18 years later when our youngest and last daughter, Stephanie, was ready to leave the nest. I had always had a very close relationship with all of our girls. We did a lot of things together and just enjoyed time hanging out.
Stephanie decided that she wanted to become teacher and go to Emporia State college which is about an hour and a half away. We had prayed and prayed and that is where she felt led to go. So I really had to lean on Jesus at this point!
Let me back up a bit and tell you that at this time also, my husband was traveling for work through most of Stephanie’s Senior year. Since he had been gone, it had just been Stephanie and I doing most everything together and now I was having a very hard time thinking that she was going to be gone all of a sudden!
Even though my husband was back home at this point, we had to take our daughter up to a town I wasn’t very familiar with and drop her off at a college I didn’t know much about! She seemed excited to go and I was really trying to be brave and support her in every way possible.
When it came time to leave her there and come home without her, I was devastated! I remember holding it together as we drove away, until she couldn’t see me anymore and I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.
Leaving her there and coming home without her was the most difficult part of this transition for me!
What do you think was most helpful for you to move into the hope and peace you were needing?
I can remember pouring my heart out to the Lord and asking Him to help me through this very difficult time in my life! Before, when the other daughters left, there was always another daughter still here at home, but not this time. I have to admit that I felt a little lost.
For years, my job, which I loved, was to help and take care of my girls. Now all of a sudden, I wasn’t needed as much anymore and I was needed in a different way. I felt like I was suppose to only help and give advice when I was asked or from a distance. Wow what a change for me!
I sincerely prayed with my whole heart for the Lord to help me and lead me down the right path that He would have me to go and show me what He wanted me to do.
Was there a special verse the Lord used to encourage you during this time?
I had a few scriptures that really helped me through this time.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
And the last ones are about putting on the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-17.
How did your faith grow from this transition time in your life?
My husband knew I was hurting inside even though I put on a brave face and kept plugging along. So he did something very helpful for me. He asked me to go along with him while he worked out of town. He said he thought a change of scenery would do me good. So I went with him and that was one of the best things I could have done.
Also getting my mind off of myself and onto the Lord was key for me. It isn’t easy sometimes, but it is so worth it.
What would you like someone the middle of a similar transition to know?
Even though this transition in my life was really hard to go through, I can look back and see that God was leading me and taking care of me the whole time. He taught me that no matter what happens to us, He will always be there to pick us up. He will never leave us or forget about us.
He wants the best for us and for us to rely on Him no matter what our circumstances or how many transitions we go through. So I will leave you with one final scripture that summed up my difficult transition and maybe yours…Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6.