Thursday, September 9, 2010

A New Chapter

The house is still. Her room is strangely empty. A chapter of her life is complete and a bright new chapter has begun. Although it happened before our eyes, it's still hard to believe that childhood dependence has gradually shifted to the independence of adulthood. I still remember being entertained for hours by a little girl who couldn't get enough of playing, 'Waitress.' With pen and paper in hand, she'd make up a menu that left my mouth watering. Now she's the one ordering from the selection at her college cafeteria.

After a weekend of travelling, unpacking, getting our daughter, Riley, settled in her dorm, and making the trip back home, my husband and I are just coming to grips with the fact that our lives have radically changed. And change can be challenging. But change also helps me to realize my need for an unchangeable God. What an encouraging promise echoes from the book of Hebrews, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8; KJV).

The same God who comforted parents decades ago, offers that same comfort to those experiencing an empty nest today. When I begin to wonder whether I was an effective mom, I can look beyond myself to the One who gave me the incredible gift of a daughter. At the age of seven, Riley called on the Lord Jesus Christ to save her, and became His child. I can rest assured that He is able to take good care of her! The book of John encourages me with the truth that nothing is able to remove my girl from the Father's hand, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:27-29).

The campus is beautiful. Meticulously maintained grounds, with palm trees swaying in the warm Florida sunshine, make the setting positively idyllic. The student body is the perfect size without being overwhelming. Everyone is extremely friendly. The college is founded on Christian principles. These things aside, if this wasn't the college the Lord had directed her to, we would not have felt comfortable enrolling her. But in spite of the fact that the college is several hours from our home, and we won't see our daughter as often as we'd like to, there was a sense of peace that settled over my husband and I, even as we said our tearful goodbyes. The Apostle Paul speaks of this peace we can experience when we pour our hearts out to the Lord, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).

No doubt, the days ahead will be filled with the challenge of change. I'm thankful for a God who never changes, who takes care of His own, and who fills my heart with peace when I lay my concerns at His feet. What a mighty God we serve! "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness" (Psalm 107:8-9).

Are you being challenged with change? Lift your eyes to the Lord, and you'll find Him more than able to meet your need!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I'm so grateful that You never change. You hold me in the palm of Your hand, and You cover me with Your peace. Help me to surrender to the work You're doing in my life. May I be an accurate reflection of You to those around me. Amen.


  1. Maria (and Steve), what a powerful testimony. My heart aches for you, but you've also lifted it up with hope.

  2. Steph - Bittersweet would describe it best! It helps to have others who can relate!! How are you holding up with sweet Laura back at school? Is she planning to stay in your neck of the woods to teach? Love you!

  3. Oh wow, I'm going to have to deal with this three times over. Thanks for a glimpse and glad you are lifting your eyes to the Lord.
    ~ Wendy

  4. Wonderful chapters of our lives unfold all the time, some are easier to get through than others. What would we do without His comfort and strength? Good things ahead for you and your family, no matter where you are! Will pray for you all. :)
    Hugs and blessings,

  5. Bless your heart, Maria. As you get use to it, it can be really fun. But in the beginning it feels so lonely and quiet. Dave and I have created lots of new routines and traditions, just like we use to with the girls. And when we all get to be together . . . it feels like Christmas morning. I am praying for you in this wonderful/stressful transition. So enjoyed your lovely family photo. And praying for Riley . . . what a sweet time in life for her, too.


  6. Maria,
    I just left you a long message, hit post, and it disappeared. I hope it is waiting on your approval and not flying out in cyberspace somewhere! wb

  7. Well, this last one posted, so I imagine the first one is gone. I just commented about our experience of 2 kids leaving, being at Christian colleges, and having one left at home (a senior). It is a tough transition, but God in his wisdom built some positive stuff into it, too. Good post.

  8. Good changes require that we open our hands to let the past go. Otherwise, we cannot grasp the new.

    I'm praying the Lord will help you make the adjustments you need, and that you'll discover new joys.

    Susan :)

  9. Wendy - So good to see you! I know God's grace will see you through when your time comes. Until then, enjoy every moment with those kiddos!! God bless you!

    Karen - Thanks for the prayers! They're much appreciated! Also appreciate your words of encouragement! Can tell you can relate! I've chosen to embrace this time and make the most out of what the Lord has called me to do. Blessings for a great weekend! :)

    Glenda - Thank you for your words of wisdom, my friend! What great advice to establish some new traditions (as husband and wife) and relish the times we'll have together as a family. Obviously, the Lord has given you much grace to successfully navigate through the empty-nest syndrome! I so appreciate your prayers for all of us, too! God bless you! And have a beautiful weekend!

  10. Warren - Thanks for your persistence to post a comment! Would have loved to read your original post, but this way, I got to read two! You and your wife have clearly had some experience with sending children off to college...Does it get easier each time? I imagine your high school senior is enjoying some undivided attention!! Love to hear more about the 'positive stuff' God has built into your experience. I can use all the wisdom I can get! Funny to imagine that parents have been dealing with being empty-nesters since the beginning of time. God bless & have a great weekend!

  11. Susan - Thank you so much for your words of wisdom! With God's help, I'm determined to act on the positive in this transition. I appreciate your prayers and look forward to discovering 'new joys!' I appreciate your friendship! God bless you!

  12. Maria, what a lovely picture. I love seeing your entire family, my friend.

    It is most beautiful. I know how your heart is pulling at you. One part longing for those days of long ago, when your sweet Riley was playing 'waitress'. The other part excited to see what wonderful things play out in her life. Bittersweet indeed.

    I love you my friend and am praying for you, your hubby, and especially your daughter. This is a wonderful, yet frightening time in her life. Tell her, we're praying. She's on my list. Love and huge hugs Maria. :)

  13. What a beautiful post and photo! I know she will be well prepared for the journey that lies ahead. After all, she's your daughter!!

  14. I still remember the day we left our daughter on the steps of the dorm. I cried like a baby and, even though I still had one at home, it was HARD! I am going through a change...not THE change...that's come and gone. But health wise I'm struggling. So I have to lean on God more and more in order to do what I know He has called me to do.
    Thank you for your encouragement. And yes, that's a great picture...what a handsome family. Blessings.

  15. I once read: there are two things people don't like; the way things are and change!
    Great post Maria, I am sure your daughter will do just fine!!!

  16. I almost started crying! It must be so different having the house all to yourselves. I hope the transition isn't too painful.