I remember when my husband, David, brought home the first spiderwort plant. He’d confiscated it from the yard at an old abandoned homeplace on my brother’s property in the next county over.“Look – your favorite colors, sweetie. Purple and yellow.” David loves picking wildflowers; it’s his love language to me, and I have adored it for well over thirty-five years now. We didn’t know the flower by name at the time, but he thought if he replanted it carefully, we could enjoy it for a season.

Taking root

Little did we know just how hearty this dainty flower was! Turns out, the Tradescantia virginiana by scientific name is a self-sowing perennial that practically takes care of itself.

What began as one plant has now multiplied to form a border along my curved sidewalk path that leads to my morning walk. My mind drifts back to the day the spiderwort joined the Lavender family. Four children helped David dig in the mud and stand the newest member proudly in the dirt. Though I was the full-time homeschooling Mommy for my clan, David the biologist took captive every opportunity for a lesson. He took care of most of the sciences; I imparted language arts and math tidbits, and we shared the responsibility of our children’s spiritual growth. Years later, the Virginia spiderworts have multiplied but my children are slowly subtracting.

Fallow ground

I struggle with this new phase of my life – the sortof-empty nest. My homeschooling days are over; three of the four children have different zip codes and big-kid jobs and one just finished college and will be moving away, too, with a new job.Though I’m sad with this new arrangement, I recognize that I’m not the first Mommy to experience the pains of letting little ones go.

Sown seeds

My thoughts turn to the oldest one – a school counselor at an elementary school in north-Georgia. 

Of course he would spend a lifetime with little ones. After all, he entertained his siblings and they adored him. What a blessing he must be to those children who need him!

An elder at his church, the Branch Church, Jeremy shares the love of Jesus with children and youth and they clamor for his attention, just like his siblings did!

And then there’s the second fledgling. The married one. She lives in Tennessee with her godly husband. Jenifer and Adam both work for their church, Venue Church, one of the fastest growing churches in Chattanooga. Both serve in varying facets of ministry. Jenifer’s emphasis began with the Care Team.

I’m not surprised that she’s on the Care Team Ministry. She’s had a passion for people since her two younger siblings were born. Jenifer showed a genuine concern for others at a very young age.

Finished with an accounting master’s degree, Jeb Daniel ministers with the gift of music. A talented guitarist, my third child took part in praise bands in high school and college.

He’ll find a way to use his musical abilities when he finds a new church. I’m happy he has a new job, but I’m sad that it’s even further away from me than his first big-boy job.

Jessica, my youngest, just graduated from college and while there, found her niche with fellow students at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries when she wasn’t studying or serving as a college intern at her church.

I’m not surprised she’s found ways to tell others about Jesus during college. She soaked in every bible story I shared with her and wanted to be at church every time the doors were open! (And when they weren’t – because her siblings served as youth and college interns, she knew the pass code to tag along with them, even when the doors weren’t open!) And I bet she’ll find lots of ways to tell others about Jesus when she moves, too. I’m just not ready for the last one to move away!

Flourishing flowers

I pass by the Virginia spiderworts dancing in the breeze when my walk is over. One plant that multiplied to garnish the length of my sidewalk. I’m reminded of a verse in Acts, 12:24 that says, “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish” (NIV). When each child was planted in our Lavender home, David and I delighted in sharing Jesus: planting seeds for eternity, watering, nourishing, and occasionally weeding. My offspring may have been uprooted and planted elsewhere, but they’re spreading the word of God in their own little gardens and flourishing beautifully! I wouldn’t want it any other way!

What about you? What do you hope your kids take away from “the nest” when they leave? Or, if your nest is already empty, what are you most excited that they took with them?