Today’s article is an adapted excerpt from Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next. Grab your copy here!
As we launch into a new season of life, it’s always a good time for us to consider how well we’re doing in stewarding what God’s given us.
The transition to becoming an empty-nester isn’t easy for many of us. From the feelings of loss to the change in how your time is spent, it can feel difficult to know how to move forward. However, there truly is hope.
When Jesus is our leader, we get our marching orders from Him. That happens through the Bible, through prayer, through the nudges of the Holy Spirit, and often from the counsel of others who follow Him. The one thing He asks us to do is to “steward” or manage well the life He’s given us.
Let’s explore some parts of our empty nest life we need to be managing well:
Steward Your Time
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” – Ephesians 5:15 (ESV)
Every one of us has 168 hours in our week. How we use those hours is completely up to us. Have you ever considered, however, that you are actually a steward of the hours God has given you? You are a caretaker, a guardian, an overseer, a manager of your time. Are you using it well?
When we look at the life of Christ, one of the first things we notice is that He is intentional about spending time with God. There are many verses that tell us that Jesus pulled away from the crowd to pray. As we think about stewarding our time, we can start by following Jesus’ lead. Find a time in your day to read God’s Word and talk with Him. That may be morning, afternoon, or evening—whatever works best for you. It might even be throughout the day.
I recently read a biography of Ruth and Billy Graham, and one of the habits Ruth had in her life was to leave her Bible open wherever she was working. If she was ironing, the Bible was open on the ironing board. If she was cooking, her Bible was open on the kitchen counter. She would just “snack” on God’s Word all day. Reading about her habit challenged me to think differently about time I could have with God!
We can certainly talk to God all day. As we put on our makeup. As we drive. As we cook. We can even listen to the Bible these days through the Bible app on our smartphone as we’re doing those same things. As we spend time with God, we get our marching orders and He helps us to be a good steward of our time!
Steward Your Physical Health
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (ESV)
It was the call no one wants to receive. “Mrs. Savage, we have the results from your breast biopsy. It is showing cancer. We need to get you connected to a surgeon today.” A few weeks earlier I’d had my annual mammogram. I’d been called back for a follow-up sonogram or additional mammogram pictures in the past, but never called back for a biopsy. All those other callbacks revealed nothing, so I wasn’t particularly worried about the biopsy either. Needless to say, my world turned upside down that day.
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Triple Negative breast cancer. Most breast cancers are fueled by either estrogen, progesterone, or something called HER2. Triple-negative breast cancer is negative for all three of those fuels, meaning they don’t know what is fueling this cancer, so they throw everything at it: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. It was a long seven months of treatment. I lost a portion of my breast and all of my hair, including a significant part of my eyebrows and eyelashes that have still never returned.
What I learned on my breast cancer journey is that early detection saves lives. I was a stage 1 diagnosis because we caught it early. You and I have to steward this body God has given us. Take care of it. Keep it healthy. Catch things early. What screenings are you overdue for? Are you keeping up with your annual gynecological appointment? What about your annual mammogram? If you’re at least fifty, have you had your first colonoscopy? Are you going to your dentist regularly? When was the last time you had a physical?
If you need to make any of those appointments or others you might be aware of, stop reading this article for a moment and make the appointment—today. Do it for yourself and for your family. They’d like for you to be around for a while!
When it comes to stewarding our body, in addition to screenings, we need to water it, feed it, rest it, and move it. Are you intentionally drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day? I slice up oranges and freeze them, then throw a slice or two in my water each day. This helps me enjoy the taste better and keeps me drinking my water all day.
Having cancer changed how I “feed” my body. Far less sugar, far more whole foods, little to no processed foods, and we eat out less often because we can eat healthier at home. Are you at a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index)? Is there a next right step you can take in feeding your body well?
One of the best parts of the empty nest season of life is you’re likely not sleep-deprived anymore. No more waiting up for a teenager to come home, no more middle of the night feedings, no more trying to get hundreds of things done after the kids go to bed. If your body is left to wake on its own, how many hours of sleep does it require? Whatever that is, shoot for it. Resting our body builds our immune system and reduces stress.
When I finished my cancer treatment, my oncologist told me I had three jobs to do to help prevent a recurrence:
- Eat nutritionally.
- Stay at a healthy weight and BMI.
- Exercise daily.
I’ve done well with the first two, but I’m still trying to find that right rhythm for number three. We need to be moving our body. This keeps us flexible and strong. It also builds immunity. What are you doing to move this body God has given you? What’s a next right step in exercise?
Steward Your Money
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” – Proverbs 3:9 (ESV)
When it was first just Mark and me at home, I consistently made too much food at every meal. I’d been used to cooking for seven for so long that I wasn’t quite sure how to cook for two. Sure, we’d be gradually paring down the number of people around the table, but old habits die hard! There are two places, however, that I had no trouble adjusting: money and laundry. I appreciate that, for the most part, we only have to split our money two ways instead of seven, and I’m happy to have to do laundry only once a week and call it done.
Money was a little complicated for us because one year before we became empty-nesters, I left my job leading Hearts at Home and we took a huge hit in the income department. We’re still working to make our entrepreneur journey turn into full-time income for both of us. However, when we were raising our kids sometimes there was more month than money. With not needing to split the income into so many pieces, even with a reduced income we noticed a welcome difference.
When we’re raising kids, most of us are in bit of a survival mode. If you’re married, only one of you is likely managing the money side of things. If that’s you, it’s probably time to give your spouse a tour of the bills, processes, investments, passwords, and such. If your spouse has been the one managing the money, it’s probably time to request a financial tour. Pulling together a “financial notebook” where those things can be found is also wise. I created one several years ago, and Mark and our adult kids know where it is should there ever be a reason they would need it.
Now’s the time to review emergency funds and long-term savings. Do you have enough cash in the bank to fix your car or replace an appliance that quits working? Do you have three months of living expenses tucked away in case something were to happen to your job or your spouse’s job? Is there any debt you need to be tackling aggressively?
The empty nest is a perfect time to review retirement and how you’re doing funding it. Set up an appointment with a financial planner to evaluate where you are in your retirement goals and to discuss any ways you might want to adjust your strategies.
Don’t forget to review giving commitments. Are you tithing to your church? If you are, do you want to increase your giving in any way? Is there something you believe in that you’d like to support in addition? Ask God to show you what you need to see as it relates to your money and your giving. He’s the one who’s trusted you with what He’s giving you. He’ll most definitely show you the way!
You’re Not Alone
You’re designed to walk through life holding the hand of God. He’s got the big picture in mind, and you can trust Him to lead and guide you along the way. He also gave you an important instruction book, the Bible, that will guide you to be a good steward so you can make the most of your encore season of life!
Looking for more? Grab your copy of Empty Nest, Full Life!
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