Browsing Tag

Empty Nest

Faith, Life, My Not So Empty Nest

So This is 54

I turned 54 yesterday, which in and of itself was a shock, because for some reason I have been thinking I was 52 and about to turn 53. So instead of waking up a year older, I woke up TWO years older. That was a lot to take in people . . . a lot to take in.

I woke up early, for no apparent reason other than my biological clock has now turned against me (in so many ways) and has fooled my body into thinking it should awaken at the crack of dawn. I walked into the kitchen, praying I had remembered to make coffee the night before, and found, much to my dismay, I had not. Ticked, and somewhat frustrated that the universe had not yet realized it was my birthday and should thereby bestow upon me countless blessings (including miraculously brewed coffee), I headed back to my bathroom to grab a quick shower before the day’s madness officially started.

I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “So this is 54. Fifty-Four. You, Carol Jones, are a 54 year-old woman.” I looked critically at myself in the mirror, noticing the muffin top and very curvy hips I have somehow managed to reacquire (despite my best efforts in the gym) and the crinkles surrounding my eyes and mouth and said again, “So this is 54.” And with a not-so-impressed shrug of the shoulders, I stepped into the already steaming shower.

As I stood in the shower enjoying what would likely be the most peaceful part of my day, I reflected about the life of the 54-year-old woman I have become. In my lifetime

  • I have been married to the same man for almost 34 years. (And trust me, this is no small feat on either of our parts!)
  • I have given birth to four children, two of whom lived through childbirth (and also their teenage years) and two of whom never took a breath in this world.
  • I have failed at so many things in so many ways, hoping with each failure that I have been sifted and refined and made more beautiful because of the struggle.
  • I have been blessed with some of the most incredible friendships with people in a wide span of generations.
  • I have been given the great privilege of pouring into the lives of many young women, a privilege I hope I have stewarded well. And lastly,
  • I have seen my nest be emptied and now  refilled with two sweet daughters, children I never pictured (or could have even imagined) would be a part of my life.

As I got dressed and took one last look in the mirror before I went to awaken the Twinderellas, I said to myself, “So this is 54.” I smiled, fluffed my fantastic head of hair, slapped my butt, gave myself an air kiss in the mirror and said, “Girl, you make 54 look good. OW!”

All that to say, here’s to being 54. I won’t even begin to guess what this year will bring because if I have learned anything at all in this life, it’s that we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. But here’s to a year of tomorrows, one day at a time.


Adoption, Faith, Life

My Not So Empty Nest

It was a beautiful spring night in Houston, uncharacteristically cool and breezy, lacking the brutal humidity we often felt that time of year. I was out to dinner with a group of friends when we ran into a friend of ours from church. She was headed off to the hospital to pick up twin, nineteen-month-old girls and joked that Mike and I would be a perfect family for them. I laughed and said to her, “Girl, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train. It’s freedom.” Mike and I were counting the days until our nest would be empty, and we most certainly had no plans to refill it.


We had no plans.

But God did.


That night, Mike and I talked about the little girls who were being rescued from a life of hell, and we prayed for the people who would someday be their forever family. Ten days later our home and our hearts were invaded by two precious, but very broken baby girls.


And oh how we loved them. We loved them fiercely and unconditionally. And some days, we thought we might not survive. We braved their brutal meltdowns. We lost sleep with them through their torturous nightmares. We saw one pediatric specialist after another to try to overcome their health and mental distress. And it took all of us, Mike and I, and Zack and Jacob to make that happen. We hired someone to keep the girls during the day while we worked, then the boys and Mike and I tag teamed the rest. We loved those babies with everything we had to give them, all the while knowing they would someday leave us to live with their forever family. And that was as it should be. Our nest was empty, and we had no plans to change that.


We had no plans.

But God did.


On Fathers’ Day 2010, we relinquished custody of our sweet little Baby S and Baby N to their forever family. We spent the day with them, trying to forever imprint our family into their hearts. We feared they would forget us, or worse yet they would think we, too, had abandoned them. Even now as I think about that day, and write these words, I struggle with feelings of guilt over leaving them. Not because we didn’t love and trust the family they were going to, but because those girls loved and trusted us, and we left them.

It was so much harder than I ever expected it to be, but as difficult as it was on me, it was inexplicably harder on Mike. He cried himself to sleep for so many nights in a row. I had only ever heard him cry like that one other time in our life, and that was when his dad died. I cannot adequately express to you just how broken his heart was.

Though we’d had no plans to refill our nest, once it was empty, really empty . . . I truly have no words to express the depths of the sorrow we felt.


We had no plans.

But God did.


As the Lord would have it, the girls ended up back in the home of their biological mom, and on September 15, 2010, she called me in the middle of the night during a domestic dispute and yelled at me to come and get them.

We have had them ever since that day.

Though the months and years that followed were tumultuous, even torturous at times, and though we lived in constant fear they would someday leave our home again, we held fast to a faith that told us God had a plan for our lives and the lives of Baby S. and Baby N., and His plans would not be undone.


On June 15, 2012, WE became their forever family and they became forever ours.


Like I said, We had no plans to change the course of our life.  But God did.

All that to say, my not-so-empty nest was never designed to be empty. From the very beginning of our lives and theirs, He created us to be a family. I have made a million plans in my life, including how I would spend my empty nest years, and trust me, the plans I made look nothing like the ones God mapped out for me. Sometimes I think we look so hard for our purpose, and we get so busy making plans to live out what we believe our purpose is, that we overlook the fact that our purpose is not what really matters.  Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21