Empty Nest or Full Nest?

For the life of me I am trying to come up with a different term for the kids moving out of the house than “empty nester”. Nothing about that term sounds natural to a mom, because letting go is hard on a momma’s heart.

Last week my youngest moved into a freshman dorm in college. Today, as I write this, my oldest set out for his junior year at another college. (Let the record state that I did indeed treat my tearful self to a Sonic coke and a pedicure today.)

For clarification please allow Webster and me to take some space here to define a few things.

Nest: a home where people live: a place of rest, retreat, or lodging: home. The occupants or
frequenters of a nest: a group of objects made to fit close together or one within another.
Empty - containing nothing: not having any people: not occupied or inhabited: having no real
purpose or value.
Empty nester - a parent whose children have grown up and moved away from home.
Empty nest syndrome - an emotional letdown often experienced by an empty nester.

A good momma bird builds a well-thought-out nest. "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." (Proverbs 14:1) The Hebrew word for "build" here means to build, establish, construct, rebuild or fashion. We all know that mothering includes all of that and all of that is not easy!

A good momma bird provides well for her young with shelter, warmth, comfort, and nourishment.
"She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. "She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls." (Proverbs 31:14-15) Let me be honest here - bringing food from afar can be take-out, getting up while still dark might only happen in Iceland in the winter, and the only cleaning ladies that showed up at my house were me, myself and I!

Then a good momma bird teaches her cuties how to fly. If she does her job well they eventually fly out and make their own nest. In fact, sometimes she has to push them out. The alternative would be the inability to fly and a good mom does not really want that for her young. But, oh how hard this flying out process is on a momma's heart.

Now do not get me wrong. This whole mothering experience cannot be sugar coated. Nothing is more beautiful but nothing is more difficult either. Mothering can break your heart. It has a way of re-arranging your schedule at a moment’s notice. It can be a fun ride one minute and an emotional roller coaster the next. Mothering makes your heart swell but it has a way of breaking it as well.

But you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It is a God-given blessing and honor to mother children. It is an awesome responsibility to train up the next generation to take up theircross, deny themselves and follow Jesus. Some days I thought I deserved an A+ and other days I failed miserably.

I am so grateful of the grace of Jesus in my life. Because He has forgiven me, I can not only forgive myself when I come up short but I can also forgive my kids when they do. Nobody can walk this mothering gig perfectly - I know I did not. My two grew up hearing often, “I am sorry. Will you forgive me? Can we start over again?” Do I wish I could right all of those wrongs? Sure, but I can also trust the Lord to use those mistakes to lead them to the foot of the cross -right where I want them. Through my shortcomings they have learned the power of asking for forgiveness and releasing forgiveness.

So what do I do with this empty nest syndrome I am experiencing? (See definition above.) I cry.
I text the kids. I look at their pictures on social media to keep up. I visit when they want me to
or at least ask before showing up! I try to keep my opinions to myself and bless them. But what
do I try to do more than anything?


Prayer helps alleviate the anxiety. If I worry or stay in a state of grief then I will only make myself and my sweet husband miserable. I also risk missing out on the next adventure the Lord has for me.

I still have a nest and it is NOT empty - my husband and I still live in it and at times it is overflowing with young adult kids visiting. I still have purpose and I still have value. As my mom always said, “It’s either feast or famine!” So true. One day the house is clean and quiet and all of a sudden a school break comes up and it is full, messy and unpredictable all over again.
I am embracing this new season. I am not rushing to fill every moment. I want to have margin. Margin to pray. Margin to hear. Margin to be available. Margin to let in the new.

Momma birds, If you are married, do not throw in the towel. Stay together. Your young adult kids need to see that their parents stick it out. You got into this marriage without them and you can keep it going without them. Plan dates. Try those recipes that are not kid friendly. Go to the movies on a week night. Have friends over. Take a vacation. Take up a new hobby together. Mentor a young couple. My husband and I are excited about the future. Yes, we both miss the kids but we have decided that we are still crazy about each other.

I was blessed with two amazing kids. Maybe you have been blessed with many more. However many you have, they each deserve your best. Do not grow weary - finish strong! The last one needs you just as much as the first one did.

It was a big transition for my daughter when her brother left for college. We had to re-establish our time together as a family. We were still a family even when the oldest was away at college. She still wanted meals and a place for her friends to hang. She wanted us showing up to her events and cheering her on.

Many women in my shoes start regretting that they do not have a better career or something more significant to fall back into now that the kids are gone. I promise you, I do not regret one minute I spent investing in my children. Yes, there is a fine line between being a conscientious parent and a helicopter parent but do not become a detached parent either. A lot of successful people were most successful after 45 or 50. Go after some of those dreams now!

Some of you young moms might be reading this and feeling a little envious of my quiet, clean house. Do not blink because yes, time flies by fast. So enjoy the days you have and the season you are in. Go take a peek at those sleeping little ones or even the older ones tonight and kiss their sweet cheeks. Do not try to fix too many of their negatives at the same time. Look for the positives and focus in on one thing to work on. Talk to them about Jesus, about grace, about sin and about their need for a Savior. Take them to church but walk the walk at home too - not in perfection but with fresh mercy each day.

Whatever season you find yourself in, take the time to pray and seek the Lord. He will give you the eyes to see the future with joy.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and can laugh at a the days to come." (Proverbs 31:25)

Carrie & her husband on a recent trip to Israel

(Carrie has a website you can follow at www.carriekittinger.com. She is also available for speaking at women's events.)


We Have One Year Left Before Being Empty Nesters!

Meet my friend Tammy. We discovered through Facebook that we are "kindred spirits", as Anne of Green Gables would say. We have some mutual friends, but have only seen each other a handful of times in person. Our kids briefly knew each other in middle school. She came and helped me on her day off when I bought my business recently and had two days to move in. I wonder now why I even had the gumption to ask her! Maybe because I knew she just might say yes and she was the kind of person I needed that day. There is a divine connection between us, though I don't see her as much as I'd like. We'll fix that, we are having coffee next week! Tammy and I both have the same situation- our youngest are seniors this year... we are almost empty-nesters. (She won't stop having an impact on young people though. She leads a small group of girls at church. She and other co-leaders have led this group since the girls were in 8th grade and they are seniors too! This will be a hard May for her). Many of us are in the same boat, wishing that this year will go slowly. I asked her to write a blog about it for other moms. She graciously agreed.

I can vividly remember words spoken to me at church a long time ago by a sweet, older woman.  My husband and I had just entered the foyer with our 2-year old son and 5 -year old daughter.  I'm sure we had that "good-grief-can't-believe-we-actually-made-it-here" exhausted look on our faces.  This gal stops me, places her wrinkled, sun-spotted hand on mine and says "The days are long, but the years go by so fast."  I smiled, told her thank you, and then in my young-mom mind thought, "Well, maybe YOUR years, but mine will be morphing into CENTURIES."

Funny.  She was right.  Those years flew right by...can't say I  wasn't warned.  That 2-year old son is now 17 and a senior in high school. The 5-year old daughter is now 20 and a junior in college.  My husband and I  have found ourselves discussing things such as downsizing our home, retirement...albeit, it will be a few more years for this.  Maybe picking up a hobby we can both do together.  Golf, perhaps? Tennis?  We've even joked we're going to get an RV, travel the states with our dog, and be THAT couple you get stuck behind going 10 miles an hour.

We joke about these events to come, but they are right around the corner.  We are almost empty-nest-ers.  True, our kids will come back sometimes on weekends for various things (my son for laundry, I'm 100% sure), but the frequency with which we see them will lessen.  I've semi-adapted to this with my daughter. SEMI. But now my son, too?  Can I handle this?  I won't sugarcoat it...it hurts.  You will cry...a lot...at random times.  Are they ok? Are they adapting? Are they eating? Did they get out of bed? Daughter, probably...son, the jury's still out.  They better have gone to class...this college stuff is NOT CHEAP.

Everyone's scenario will be different, but I do feel the "hurt/sadness factor" will be a common denominator.  What has helped me manage this ache are words wisely given to me by a dear friend and neighbor whose children are grown with families of their own.  She said "Tammy, think about how much you love your kids." (I did this and my heart almost exploded right then and there).  "Well, now, think of God.  He loves them even more."  WOW.  So simple.  So true. I love my kids A LOT. He loves them even more! Let me tell ya', that is a WHOLE LOTTA LOVE. 

I can't be there 24/7...but God can.  I can't protect them 24/7...but God can. I do not know if they are hurting...but God does.  This was such a relief to me.  These beautiful children of mine are not really mine...they are his and always have been.  Why then should I worry? 

Psalm 139:7-10 reassures me with this promise..."Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

That lady in the church foyer years ago was right.  The days ARE long and the years DO go by quickly.  But let me just add...

God's got them. He always has.


I'm the New Owner of the Local Business "My Little Dollhouse"!!

Desires of the heart.... come true at the strangest times! Guess what? (drum roll)

I'm the new owner of My Little Dollhouse, a girls' birthday party venue near 91st and Harvard in Tulsa, OK!

You've probably held a party or taken a daughter to a party there before, but in case you haven't, it's a place where moms can assure a great birthday party for girls, generally aged 3-10 years old (to be expanded in future). They have options of fun places to play- a "house" with toys, a tree house, a black light room, nooks and crannies, and a kid-sized stage for dress up fashion shows. Additional options include tea parties, dress up, hair and makeup done for each party girl, even a visit from a real live Princess!

I've wanted to buy My Little Dollhouse for years, and have secretly (and not so secretly) thought how fun it would be to own it. I've driven by the building and dreamed of the potential. I've said it out loud to people. Two of my daughters have worked there in years past. I've told the owner annually that if she ever thinks about selling it, I'm interested.

It happened last month!  I wasn't even thinking about it until the day that I was contacted.  I had just been talking to my family about the business, when she messaged me, asking if I was still interested.

After screaming at the irony of the moment, and excitement, I replied yes.

I'm so thankful to her for contacting me.

Long story short, it is now a done deal and I take over next week.

This is a dream come true. There is so much work to be done, but it's with a happy heart that it will be done!

The business will continue on as My Little Dollhouse. As we get acclimated, there are additional ideas on the horizon.

Ownership of this business fits right in with long term goals of Girls 101. I'm excited about that. We can offer lots of different events there for girls of our city.

I love events. And parties. And girls.

This will be fun. :)

To celebrate, we are offering big February specials! Help me out and pass the word along, if you don't have a young girl yourself.

February special:
$40 off of a Regular or Princess Party on Monday-Friday held in February

Use the code "firstmonth" when you call 918. 299.(4FUN) starting Tuesday, January 27.

Please "like" our Facebook page "My Little Dollhouse", to hear about discounts, specials, and events!


"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them" - Walt Disney


Healthy Dating Relationships- Part 1

"What does a healthy dating relationship look like?"

I've been asked more than once by older teens or girls in young twenties who are ready to consider a life long relationship.

It caused me to stop and really think.

Caring about another person is a vulnerable thing. It's hard for some people to be vulnerable, because it leads to a chance to be hurt. But that's part of it. Part of life. We get hurt sometimes. The fear of possibly being hurt can't stop us from a great adventure with rewards that are greater than the risk!

The subject of dating nowadays is a bit different than it was 20 years ago. Dating has become so complicated according to 1) my observations and 2) what girls have said. Now I've seen some young couples who have done things the way we are used to- they meet, get to know one another by talking and being together, he asks her out on dates, and they eventually become exclusive.

On the other hand, too many girls have said that they are disappointed with boys that seem to be in fear of them, or don't know how to start a conversation, or ask them out on dates, or rely too hard on social media for communicating.

The number of girls who have never dated is huge! (I'm sure moms of boys have things to say about this, and I welcome your comments. We would love to hear from you!!)

In the "old days", we dated to have fun with someone we may like, and eventually realized we both couldn't live without each other, or we parted ways. Nowadays it seems that couples want to have a commitment before they even start dating.

There is so much pressure to know where you stand instead of getting to know each other and taking a risk.

Sometimes it seems couples want to know the end  result before they start dating.

So what's my advice? Have fun without knowing the end result.

You may decide you really like him. You may decide you want to move on. You may marry him. You may break up! Young people say "I don't want to waste time". No one does. But there's no way to know ahead of time if you're going to marry someone. The risk is part of life. But so is the fun and the people you meet along the way. I heard great advice from someone- "Just leave them better than you found them if it doesn't work out".

Can we come back to a balance from the days of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye?" (I just finally read that book 10+ years later. I don't really agree with that approach, but was intrigued with the influence it had on our Christian culture, so I gave in and read it for myself).

Young people are so concerned with only dating who they are going to marry that they have become paralyzed in a way.

Sometimes you just have to date, chill, and have fun while you figure it out.

Ask God for direction and know that He will. He's not opposed to innocent fun. Or friendships. Or love.

We've made life into a complex puzzle in some ways, instead of embracing the process.

Stay tuned for part two.

Dating is Harder Than They Say

"Dating is not easy. No one tells you this. Pink and blue is real. You think it's all fun, but there's real conflict to work out." - an anonymous teenager

I've heard this more than once, so let's talk about it.

Yes, dating is fun, with outings and dances and pictures and such. But no it's not conflict free, because you are two humans.

I have heard two perspectives, and they are quite different. But both are worth listening to.

One is this- Movies and shows have made dating look so appealing and romantic and conflict free, that is the expectation of many. They are surprised when they begin dating and find the opposite sex thinks so differently, therefore there are things to be resolved. Even as teens.

The other is this- Bad examples are real and present. There is no problem believing that there are conflicts in relationships. The desire to see the good in dating and marriage is the prominent need...to know there is a good side to being with someone. They long for encouraging examples and advice about relationships.

We'll do a couple of posts on this topic this week.

Discussion Starter - (to ask your tween or teen)

Which of the above views do you think teens today believe? What do you believe?


Instagram and Young Girls- What Do We Allow?

Rachel Simmons, a guru on all things girl, wrote a Time article on Instagram and Tweens this week. I've talked about this topic so many times with moms on a personal level. This is a great opportunity to blog about it.

I posted this article and question on my Facebook pages, 5 Things and Girls 101, saying:  What do you all think? I'm in the minority I fully realize, but having social media accounts during middle school years add to the complication of a growing identity. But many have it I know. Do you mind sharing your thoughts? 

Here are the comments I received from moms, girls and teachers:

 Because of the drama involved with Instagram, my daughter voluntarily closed her account. She was tired of the selfies, of seeing what activity she wasn't invited to, and many other things related to all that. She hasn't regretted it once. She said, "I was becoming addicted to it."

My daughter is getting her first phone this week. She's already seen other girls obsessing over Instagram. At this point, she's not interested in getting it. Not sure how she'll feel about it in a month or a year, but for now, ix-nay on the Instagram for her.  "Instashame"??? Insta-no thanks.

My daughter is in 9th. I haven't let her have FB, but she has Instagram. In middle school it was all about how many likes/favs they get on a pic. "Ugh, she has 50 likes and my pic only got 48!" It's a status. There is even an app to get more likes..... My 5th grader has Instagram & I have to constantly tell her she has to keep her acct private. 
I strongly abhor raising girls with social media!

Teacher perspective: they start it at home, using social media. They bring it to school and cause a problem, disrupting their education.

I couldn't agree more. Many of my 4th graders have Instagram already.

Wow, I think this article is almost spot on...which is a little scary. I LOVE social media, but just decided to stop using Instagram earlier this week because of how intoxicating it can become to the way we perceive our social lives and even ourselves at times. This can be risking territory for young girls..and guys. Thanks for sharing.

As moms, we have to decide when is appropriate for our kids to have social media. At some point, it's fine. 

My girls and I have it, but I made them wait until the end of middle school to get it. Here's my thoughts:

1) don't give access until you are ready to monitor it (and that includes knowing how it works)

2) remember that middle school is a time where identities are very fragile so take that into account
3) social media is not a "right", it's a freedom that you can give permission for or say no to
4) you can say "not yet" instead of "no"

What are your thoughts?


A Prayer for our Families- When God Reveals His Son

Jadyn Noelle photography
Until my typing ability improves, I may do some REALLY short posts, which are a duplicate of my Facebook posts, on 5 Things.

I can do voice text over my phone for Facebook, so it's much easier.

If you're on Facebook, "like" us!

This is today's post.

A great prayer for pray for our kids- In Galatians 1:11 is Paul talking about how he received the gospel by revelation. "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ". Verse 15 says "But when God...was pleased to reveal His Son in me..."

Let's pray for our family that God will reveal Himself to them. It's nice to know it's not just up to us, but He will do this!