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Category Archives: STAGES

Nesting the New Season of the Empty Nest – A Guest Post by Randi Miles

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Nesting the New Season of the Empty Nest – A Guest Post by Randi Miles

Nesting the new season of the empty nest… you read that right.  It came to me recently that this is exactly what I am doing.  Going a bit crazy really trying to organize and prepare to re-enter the workforce.  After being home with my boys and homeschooling them for the last 15 years it is all about to change.

CHANGE, I have a love/hate relationship with change.  Honestly, I get bored and welcome change, but I prefer it be on my terms and never too big of a change if I were to have it my way. Read the rest of this entry

Saturday Share (August 22)

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Saturday Share (August 22)

Your Saturday might be used for any number of things but here at EPFH, Saturday is for sharing.

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STAGES – Life, Lessons & Loud Music

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STAGES – Life, Lessons & Loud Music

My rockin’ sweet daughter in love joins us in our STAGES series. I’m so happy to get to share a piece of her heart and her beautiful words with you. Be filled, Andrea

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STAGES – Living Gracefully with Aging Parents

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Stages Final

Continuing on with our STAGES series, a dear friend, Terri Fullerton, is sharing a piece of her life and heart with us in this post. When I read this on her blog, Conversations at the Table, I knew it had to be included here. She graciously agreed to share it with us. I know this will resonate with so many of us and encourage us to live gracefully with our aging parents. I hope my kids will read this one and tuck it away for future reference. I’m already praying for an extra measure of grace for them as they deal with me as I age. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this, Terri! It is a pleasure to have you join us on EPFH today.

Living Gracefully with Aging Parents, by Terri Fullerton

Imagine that you are given a stack of index cards in your young adult life. Your task is to write one answer per card. These are your Life Index Cards.


Who do I love?

What do I believe?

What do I value?

What are my dreams?

What makes me feel alive?

What are my hobbies?

What are my roles?

Where do I enjoy serving?

What is my daily routine?

The answers change throughout your life because your interests are fluid. Something ignites a new passion. Seasons of life refine values and nurture growth. Deep pain and anguish unearth valuable gems of clarity and maturity. Getting older is similar to the art of photography.

Growth teaches you when to use both a wide-angle lens to capture the bigger picture and the telephoto lens to zoom in on specifics.

Sometimes we stumble through this process. Our mistakes provide rich opportunities to clarify some of our values, like ‘What is the loving, graceful thing to do in this situation?’

By the time you reach your 50’s, you have seen the aging of elderly parents or  your spouse’s parents. You may fight this and deflect the issues. Be aware of the quaking in your own soul. For many of us, losing our parents is a deep unspoken fear we do not face very well.

At first their aging is like small, slow waves. You see a parent try to recall a specific year or word they have used lots of times. Sometimes it catches you off guard. You may laugh with them or get irritated, but hopefully you offer a hug or a smile. I was standing in the kitchen with my father-in-law a few years and I asked him what he had for breakfast. “Fruit and… oh, what is that word?”  “Describe it to me.”  “Well, it’s round and you toast it. It has a hole in it.” “A bagel!” I exclaimed. “Well, you know, you are not a bagel maker and you don’t use that word every day. I can see why that one may get hard to retrieve.” We laughed and hugged each other.

I wish it stayed this simple but it doesn’t. It seems like the mind and body of an older person is like a jigsaw puzzle with an ever-growing number of missing pieces. I don’t know if it’s possible, but maybe we can be a living puzzle piece and remind our parents of the things they can’t quite figure out.      

Remember the Life Index Cards? Unlike the seasons of adding to them or refining them, aging is the process of letting them go.

Energy levels decline and reduce their hobbies. Physical challenges decrease the ways they serve. Gardening and taking care of their home of almost 50 years becomes too difficult. Their connection to their memories is like an unpredictable tide. Recalling memories, making meals, taking the boat out on the lake to fish become frustrating tasks. What was once second nature becomes a complicated process.

No wonder it is so hard. No wonder older people sometimes hold on tighter to things they need to relinquish. I imagine it is really difficult to watch your hand of index cards get smaller.

I am reminded of Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. In this book, he chronicles his experiences in Auschwitz during World War 2. A turning point for him was when he started thinking about what the Nazi’s could not take away from him; namely the way he chose to respond to what happened to him at the concentration camp. I wonder what cannot be taken away from aging parents. Which cards will remain?

There are some things they get to keep like their faith and the incredible legacy of love they have birthed and invested in over their lifetime. Help them to hold on tight to these cards. And if, for some reason, your aging parents drop them, be willing to pick them up and try to put them back in their hand.


photoTerri is a wife, mother of two adult daughters and perpetual dog owner. She loves writing, reading, photography, hiking, snowshoeing, traveling and collecting fossils. She values questions that lead to deeper questions as they cultivate the soil for deeper roots of faith. Terri is a mentor at FaithWorks where she also leads Bible studies. She rotates teaching a Bible Study at the Haskell Detention Center and Jail. Terri is a recent graduate of WritersBootCamp led by Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt. You can follow her blog at

Other posts in the STAGES series include:

The Introduction
I Thought I Loved You Then

STAGES – I Thought I Loved You Then

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Here is the latest installment in the STAGES series. I know you’ll enjoy this one by Tori Ten Hagen who is an EPFH contributor. Get to know a little about Tori here. You can find more of her stories over at her personal blog.

Multiple times since Owen was born I’ve gone back and looked at all of the pictures from his birthday. Walking laps at the hospital, laboring in the labor and delivery room, seeing his face for the first time. So many memories. One of the first pictures taken on that day was this one.


Every time I look back at that picture I think, “I just thought it hurt then…”

I thought those contractions that started at 4 in the morning hurt. Then when they got worse at 8am and we went to the hospital, I thought they were bad. Then at 11am as I walked the halls trying to progress labor further along I thought they couldn’t get worse. You get the point. The contractions didn’t get easier. They only got worse. 4am Tori, had no idea what was really coming.

Then, we got to bring our bundle of joy home. In pain, exhausted and without the rule book on what to do next everything seemed monumental and overwhelming. Post-partum hormones had me an emotional mess.  We had a newborn and sleep was no longer happening in 8-hour stretches. I was nursing every 2-3 hours around the clock. I couldn’t just get up and go shop around Target whenever I wanted. I was embarrassed to admit it, and still kind of am, but I struggled with feeling a complete loss of freedom. Life had to be planned around nursing and naps. I couldn’t just think about myself anymore. I had another precious life to take care of. “Me” was no longer the most important thing. I cried to my husband and mom multiple times in those first few months…this is hard.


Now I look back at all of that and see my zombie hormone-crazy self and think, “I just thought it was hard then…”

See, being a mommy hasn’t gotten any easier. The post-partum hormones have packed their bags [thank goodness!] and I’ve found my mommy routine a little easier, but this mom gig is hard. The hard things about being a mommy have changed, even over 9 months. Some things have gotten much easier and some aren’t even struggles anymore. But as those melt away new struggles and new mommy learning curves appear right on cue.

Now, before you go thinking I’m a terrible, pessimistic, cranky mom let me explain…

I also look back at the first day I held Owen in my arms. I look back at those pictures and remember the feelings I felt on that day. It was love so deep and so strong that I didn’t think more love for my son was possible. The first night we had Owen I honestly slept about 30 minutes, and not because Owen wasn’t sleeping. I sat in our hospital room and held my sleeping son and I just couldn’t make myself sleep. I didn’t want to put him down. I tried laying him down once or twice but it lasted all of a few minutes before I picked him up again. I didn’t want to stop staring at him. I couldn’t have been more in love with my son.

IMG_4408 But now after almost 9 months of getting to be Owen’s mom I look back at that night and I think, “I just thought I couldn’t love you anymore…”

I have woken up each morning since Owen’s birthday and I have gone to sleep each night and somehow managed to love my boy more. Don’t ask me how it is possible but it is. Somehow I think even after he’s off at college and one-day married and having his own kids, I’ll still be loving him more and more.

Being a mom has been and will continue to be one of the hardest things I will do. Being a mom takes up most, if not all, of my brain power on most days. When I took on the role of mommy a lot of hard and a lot of hurt came with it. And now as an adult looking back at my childhood and the things my parents put up with and went through for us kids, I know that the hard times and the hurt of parenting doesn’t really go away. Parenting is filled with hard life stuff. It is filled with snotty noses, poopy diapers and spilled milk. It is filled with toddler tantrums and teenage hormones. It involves kissing scraped knees and helping heal broken hearts. Being a mom isn’t easy and I don’t think it’s getting any easier.

But that is okay… because I love my boy more than that stuff. I will wipe snotty noses. [Seriously, I’m writing this after a day and a half with no shower and my son’s snot on my t-shirt] I will prepare myself for the tantrums to come and the teenage meltdowns in my future. I will do all of the hard stuff that comes with being Owen’s mom because I love him too much not to. When I get in bed at night exhausted beyond belief and look over at the baby monitor and see my boy sleeping I don’t remember the hard of that day. My heart aches with love for my son. Some nights I feel like that same Tori sitting in the hospital room holding her son for the first time, and all I want to do is go get him from his crib and rock him while he sleeps.

The hurt is real. The hard stuff is real. But gosh the love…the love is so real. The love doesn’t make the hard go away but it makes it worth it. The love doesn’t make the pains of being a parent hurt less but it makes them worth it.

When Owen is grown and has kids of his own I’ll look back at these years of raising my boy and I’m pretty sure the love will outweigh all the hard. I’m sure I’ll willingly tell him about all of the times he was a toot of a toddler and a punk of a teenager. I’ll tell him about all of the times he made me want to pull my hair out and nearly gave me a heart attack. But after all of that I’ll tell him I love him and I always will…


Other posts in the Stages series:
Stages – Introduction

STAGES – The Introduction

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I’m currently going through a doozy of a life stage. At my age, I’ve gone through a few of those. Some not so doozy-like, which I should be more grateful for. Rarely do we find our lives rockin’ the comfort zone. I remember one time in particular, somewhere around our 15th or so anniversary, that my husband and I were in “sigh” mode reveling in the moment of peace and calm. It didn’t last for long, but it was nice there for a few months. Then on to the next stage. Most of the time we are in a stage or transitioning from one stage to another. We can take little vacations from the stage or transition, and those vacations are often necessary, but we can’t hide from it forever. Life happens, right?

You’ve heard it said that “if you’re not growing, you’re not going” or this one, “if you’re not trying, you’re dying”. Well, the truth is that living in a comfort zone is well, not living. It’s not where life happens. Life happens when we step outside of our comfort zone and take risks and move forward, even if we’re only stumbling forward.

Regardless of whether we’re going and growing or dying or trying, on some level, we’re moving forward. It’s just the way life goes. We are born, we start school, we become teenagers, we may go to college, we may get married, we may become parents, we go through physical and hormonal changes, our kids get married, we become empty nesters or retire from our jobs (which is essentially the same thing only one gets a nice watch and a party), we become grandparents, our parents age and we might become caregivers for them, we may be in that sandwich stage of being parents to our kids and our parents, our parents may need help beyond what we can give them… then there are transitions from each of these stages to the next. And sometimes some of these stages get all stacked on top of one another or we go through a season of immense pain during any particular stage and it seems like we’ll never make it out alive.

Here on EPFH, we’re beginning a series called “STAGES“. Pretty original, huh? Hey, while going through stages is not simple, at least the title can be. The series will continue on until we run out of life stages or people who want to share them. The plan is to offer a few each month, in no certain order, sprinkled in with our other great posts about other great stories. Our amazing contributors and some phenomenal guest posters will be sharing bits of their STAGES stories that they have either made it through or are currently making it through.

Stages Final

The STAGES series will be all about “the passing on of love… one toe tickle at a time”. Our desire is for you to walk away from reading these posts with a sense of hope that you are not alone. That you are not crazy. That you can indeed survive. Because someone else has. And they did not go crazy. They actually lived to write about it! As this image depicts, we want you to feel like your great grandfather tickled your toes and passed on some kind of wisdom and love through the point of contact – and maybe even make you giggle. But a few tears will be okay too.

 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” 1 Corinthians 13 (The Message)

We can’t stay infants forever. We grow as we go. Our desire is to grow together. To encourage each other along. Sometimes we get so involved in our own life that we can’t see what’s around us. Sometimes we’re squinting through the fog of our stage so tightly that we can’t see others around us who want to help. Who can help. Who want to love. We hope we can do that for each other here.

We hope you’ll enjoy this series. This, of course, is the first installment but in the future, if you’d like to read more, just go to the search field on the sidebar and type in “STAGES“. We count it a privilege that you would allow us to be a part of your journey. As always, the stories we share here are shared in hopes that they might encourage you along in yours.

~Andrea & the EPFH Team