This empty nest…

A dinner bell once hung here.  It was to be rung when folks needed to be called from all directions around the farm.  It was my noisy way to say, *Hey, Family! I need you closer!*

But changes are happening at the Kirksey abode.  This spring when the hot tub got hauled out of our gazebo by a mass of muscles and sold to someone who likes that sort of thing, the bell needed to be removed for its own safety in the hustle, and it hasn’t found its way back.

The other day, I was looking at the leaves that are too-soon-changing, and glancing through the trees for apples, I saw my empty bell posts, and I had a sad realization.

Our bell is no longer needed.

There are no longer extra folks running around this place.  Christian and I are now as close to empty-nesters as it gets.

Our son bought a gorgeous farm 7.2 miles away after living on adjoining property for the last 3.5 years.  And of course, he took his dog as well.

Our *baby* girl began her schooling and will be staying home only occasionally, but working and staying closer to school most of the time.

Our other daughter created a homestead with her family about 15 miles away, and they bring the grandbabies to play at what is called *Mimi’s house* as often as possible.  

So now, it’s just Christian and me, 2 ridiculous cats, 2 loud geese, 3 adorable ducks, 9 free-loading hens, and 1 obnoxious rooster.

When we moved here 3.5 years ago, we bought a big, ol’ house on a LOT of acres because we are expecting our family to grow — not by our efforts (thank You, Jesus), but in the natural course of the next generation.  We wanted to create a space in which our family could always convene and rest and celebrate and share for all of time.  We did just that!  But suddenly, and for the first time, the number of folks present in this home has dwindled to two, and we feel like we are rattling around in some sort of quiet haze.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some benefits.  I mean, don’t tell my precious kids, but this place is infinitely cleaner! And I am cooking wayyyy less.  And groceries for two are a lot more like eating the rainbow since we both like that healthy stuff and the grocery budget goes farther.  Christian and I are the best of friends and we have literally been waiting for this since we were 18 years old. So, we sit in our little matching chairs with our cups of coffee and act like we mean it.  Or we hop on an ATV together and take some of the apples that fell off our trees and go put them out at our respective deer stands as archery season is only a couple of weeks away.

But sometimes, we get a little teary wondering how the heck we got to this part already.  It seems like a few minutes ago, our babies had Barney shoes and Little Mermaid bikes with training wheels and squeaky little voices with lisps and snuggled on our laps and peppered us with sweet kisses.

The best days include having the whole gang over for a huge dinner, toys strewn everywhere and voices clamoring in the air, and everyone so grateful for the goodness and unity we’ve created as a family.

And THAT is what it’s all about.  Not holding on to the past like some well-hoarded bin of memories.  Not stunting anyone’s steps forward by pulling them all ever-close. Our very plan all along was to watch these not-so-baby-birds fly free — admiring the stunning beauty of the flight we were so very blessed to help facilitate — and making the absolute most of the touchbacks they, and we, most certainly need.

And a lesson I’ve learned from much observation, is that it’s our absolute and profound responsibility as parents to be the kind of folks that they WANT to be around.  They do not owe it to us.  The words family or parent don’t entitle us to a darn thing.  Just like we taught them — you earn what you have.

The earning is initially much harder than the handout, but the reward in having done all it takes to hold something precious and of value that you invested in, is priceless.

When my kids come around because they like to be near me, well, I’m not sure I could have achieved more in this life.

My heart is so grateful.

And now I just have some more quiet in which to consider how thankful I am.

Who am I kidding?  The next guests arrive before I know it amidst hunting season, six birthdays, and travel.

And I have so much rattling-around-in-space to clean.  Perhaps in my underwear! 😀

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All Things New

Tomorrow we can say it’s been a month.  One official month since our family got all of our vehicles and belongings in the same general vicinity and we all slept in our new house(es) on our new land, in our new town.  In most every way, I feel like we’ve adjusted amazingly well.  Perhaps the lengthy trips we’ve taken over the past several years in various living conditions have helped us be prepared for new things.

But it doesn’t hurt that waking up here every morning is an utter joy.  We all feel like we are on vacation!  Except for the working part.  But like a vacation, we have new things to do and see when we are not working!  And it doesn’t hurt that we moved to a place we’d only laid eyes on once before we moved in.  Not only had we not seen the house but one time, we’d only seen this area and all of its surroundings once before we made it our permanent home..  It sounds crazy even to my own ears.  But in our defense we’d read a lot about it!  Ha!

IMGP3921No, really, we researched this area and all it has to offer us and our dreams and when God showed us the house and  acreage that accompanied the dream, we were all in!  And after having road-tripped forty-eights states, this place, well, it captured our hearts in a huge way.  It has all of the elements of our favorite locations from coast to coast.   It has mountains and lakes of all sizes and rivers and the breathtaking vistas to go with them.  And lots of privacy.  We fall in love with it every time we go the many miles it is into town, or to see the sights, or right here on our lots-of-land.

And before you ask or comment about where we are, this location will remain a mystery for now since this is the *www* and all.

We went from a ranch house in the city limits to a three-story home on lots of acres.  Before, we had a garbage man.  Now…not so much.  Then, we could walk to town.  Here?  Ha.  Hahahaha!  Going to town by car is an event!  At night in our old house, we fell asleep near street lights and hoped the neighbors couldn’t see in if we left a light on.  Now, we are lulled to sleep by the sound of wolves howling, and frogs, and birds we’ve never heard before.  Here, at night, I awaken in the dark and look out my third-story, feels-like-a-treehouse-window, and see the blackest of nights lit only by a blanket of a gazillion twinkling stars;  below me a carpet of green lightning bugs twinkling away for their audience of one.  Here, I have wildflowers and roses and apple trees and waterfalls and quaint little towns dotted with friendly people and fresh slices of Americana.

And room to breathe.

What I haven’t gotten used to yet are just little things.  How does one possibly collect laundry from three different stories without it becoming a full-time job?  And vacuuming?  Don’t even get me started.  This house is just going to be less vacuumed.   And where in the world is my box of summer sandals?  Summer is half over and I have little hope of finding them in time.  Sigh.  And then this big dilemma:  in which drawer should the cheese grater belong?

And another thing that will take some time…somehow, we stick out like a sore thumb.  Maybe it’s the car we drive?  Perhaps our lack of an accent?  It could just be that everyone knows everyone here.

We do know that we belong here.  But like with anything new and shiny, there was a price to pay.  To get here, we had some cost.  I don’t mean literally, though that was a certainly a part of it.  I mean that God has His own plans for us — big, BIG plans that exceeded our own imaginations.  But to get to them, we really had to be willing to lay everything else down and follow His call.  I see that now in our story.  With even a month’s worth of perspective, the massive trials we went through were tuning us into His voice more than ever.  Before we could follow Him into this new and promised land, He needed to make sure that we were listening with all of our might.

If I was leading my kids blindfolded toward the biggest, most amazing surprise imaginable, I would hope that no matter how rocky the path, or how many obstacles along the way that they would trust my heart for them.  That they would listen for my voice and trust me to hold their hand and gently guide them to what awaited them.  And once they got there and the surprise was revealed, I would hope they would see the absolute love behind not only the gift, but the heart and hands that led them on the journey to get there.

That place, of obedience and listening is where I long to be.  So that makes this place, the one on the map, even sweeter.

And with that, I think I have a box of dish soap to find…

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