“That just stuck in my soul,” Tyler says. It was a reminder not to become so consumed with her children that she forgot the world around her. It made her focus more on hospitality, church involvement, political involvement, and things they could do as a family. “It kept reminding me that there was a bigger world out there, and we needed to be part of it.” Kessler’s words made her realize that “this season of life will come to an end, and it’s not fair to my husband or my grown kids for me to fall apart.” Having outside interests “makes you a more interesting person for you husband, too,” she says with a grin.

Tyler’s outside interests paved the way for a job with a publishing house when her last child was in high school. She worked for Broadman & Holman Publishing Group as an acquisition editor, a job which then opened the door to her current position as the director of Apologia Press. There she has helped develop the publishing arm of the company, acquiring and publishing new material for homeschooling families. “My work helps others and has a redemptive value to me as well,” Tyler says, “as I recognize that God still has a purpose for me.”

While the empty nest years can be a time of sadness, grief, and loss, they can also be a time of fun, joy, and fulfillment. If we plan and prepare for the end of one season of life and the beginning of another, we can enter the empty nest time without fear. Instead of these years becoming the end of life as we know it, they can be the beginning of a whole new era of growth, ministry, and usefulness.

Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her marriage and ministry partner, David, and her freckle-faced, four-footed boy, Winston. A homeschool mom for 17 years, she’s the author of the devotional book, Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God...Starving for Time.

Publication date: July 24, 2013