Our 2015 summer was busy and full of activity. My youngest son graduated from high school and prepared for college in the fall. My middle son got married, so we also spent most of the summer with wedding activities. My oldest son came back home for his brother’s wedding. Our home was full.
And then when the summer ended, all my sons left. My oldest returned to North Carolina where he now resides. My married son went to his new home. My youngest went off to college. One by one, they left. The house was suddenly quiet. Empty nest….
In one sense I was relieved to finally rest from a busy summer. I had gotten behind in so many of my responsibilities at home and for planning women’s ministry activities. So for the first three weeks I played catch up. That was okay. But when I finished, things were quiet again. I didn’t like it.
So my husband made plans for us to get away. We decided to go to Disney. We scheduled fours days at a Disney Resort, and we purchased the pass that allowed us to go to any park we wanted during our stay.
I have always loved Disney. But we always went to Disney on a budget with our family of five. And now it was just the two of us. I felt bad initially that we weren’t bringing the family along. I didn’t even want to tell them. It felt strange, like we were doing something naughty behind their backs. But I soon got over it. It was so much fun!
We stayed at a Disney resort which was something we had never been able to afford as a family. We ate whatever we wanted. We made reservations to eat at fancy dining areas in the parks – again something we couldn’t afford to do when we went as a family.
We visited the attractions we wanted. We took our time. We walked and enjoyed the shows. We even bought snacks at Disney. We held hands. And even though there were plenty of people there, sometimes it felt like it was just the two of us. All alone in one of the funnest places to be on earth.
It was nice to be a couple again. And our stay at Disney reminded me again how much I Iove being with my husband. Since then we have had many days of just “the two of us.” Although I still find the house quiet from time to time.
Years ago shortly after my soon-to-be husband and I announced our engagement, my soon to be mother-in-law wrote a letter to my mom. Having not yet met each other, she introduced herself in the letter and gave my mom assurances of her son’s character. It was a lovely letter.
Twenty-five years later my son has announced his engagement to his college sweetheart. And it is my turn to tell my son’s future mother-in-law a little bit about my son.
Dear Mrs. C,
I just wanted to let you know how thrilled my husband and I are on this engagement. We love our son. His life was entrusted to us by the Lord. The Lord granted our son to us as part of our prayers to raise a godly generation unto him. Hannah said in 1 Samuel 1:27, “I prayed for this child.” And so our son will leave our home with a legacy of prayers going before him.
We raised our son in a home where both his mom and dad have loved Jesus and have sought to live their lives in service to Him. We read good books and played games. We laughed a lot at the dinner table.
We dedicated our son at three months. We took the charge seriously of committing ourselves to prayer for his salvation. We prayed continually for wisdom in our parenting of him. We also prayed for the woman that was to be his wife.
We read to him God’s Word faithfully. We had many nights of family devotion, worship and prayer. We faithfully brought him to church. We taught him the importance of commitment to church and service.
We have sought to understand our son’s interests and gifts. We have tried to nurture him and provide encouragement and support to help him be exactly who God made him to be. We have prayed that his life would make a difference for the Kingdom of God.
We have also prayed that he would grow to be strong in faith and a man after God’s own heart always walking in integrity. We have prayed that he would be a godly man able to lead his own family and raise another godly generation for the Lord.
We have seen that God has been good and faithful to answer all our prayers for our son throughout all these years. We are grateful for his wise choice in your daughter. It is a blessing to finally meet the woman that we have been praying for our son after all these years.
My son is getting married. He and his bride-to-be are both twenty-one years old. To me they are so young, and I worry about their readiness for marriage. My husband and I are so happy that both of them are committed in following the Lord in their relationship. We applaud them for doing it right. But I still wish they had their careers in order and that they had a bigger bank account. Then my husband forwarded to me a wonderful article by Russell Moore: What I’ve Learned in Twenty Years of Marriage. What a timely article. It really spoke to my concerns. Thank you, Dr. Moore!
For the past twenty years or so my husband and I have established a regular morning date on his day off from work. Sometimes we miss a week or two for various reasons, and it hasn’t always been the same Cracker Barrel restaurant. But we know weekly, there is always a Cracker Barrel morning coming up.
After so many years of eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we have the menu memorized so that we can order without one. Sometimes the waitress will chuckle at our proficiency in placing our orders without skipping a beat. And we love it.
This is our time. We sit and linger over coffee and tea while we wait for our breakfast to arrive. When we finish and the dishes are cleared from the table, we sit and linger over more coffee and tea. We never know where our conversations will take us. We talk about everything. Sometimes we laugh and hold hands. Sometimes there are tears as we share. Sometimes we dream about our future. (And we dream big!) Sometimes we share words of encouragement.
Our Cracker Barrel mornings have not always been happy ones. We have had our moments when we didn’t like each other very much and the last thing we wanted was to spend a morning together. Yet, Cracker Barrel mornings are so established into our weekly life, we get in the car anyway and make our way there.
We may not talk much on the way to Cracker Barrel, which is about a twenty minute drive, and it can take us a while to warm up to each other once we get there. But then it happens. Our Cracker Barrel morning puts us back in the state of couple-ness where we can recognize us again. And there we are again, sitting and lingering over coffee and tea: talking, sharing, dreaming, etc.
I hope all married couples establish a weekly routine of dates that defines them as a couple in the years to come. We are so grateful we have our Cracker Barrel mornings.