That’s one of the problems with having an “empty nest.” There’s no one left to blame! We’re about to find out who really leaves the lights and air-conditioning on, doesn’t replace the toilet paper and gets peanut butter in the jelly. Rand has already made one new discovery. For years, he’s gotten into the car, turned the key and then jumped two feet as the radio started blaring music at him. He just assumed it was one of the kids!
“I thought for sure there were two dozen Christmas cookies here when I left for the grocery store … Do you know anything about this, Sweetheart? … Well, that’s interesting but we haven’t had a dog in years!”
But that may be changing soon. Since NTM will be selling this building in the next one to three years (Yes, that does make it very hard to plan) and about 26 of us missionary families will need to find somewhere else to live (Yikes!) perhaps we’ll be able to get that dog after all! I always prefer to look on the bright side. Lose a home – gain a dog. So while Rand is trying to crunch numbers and figure out how we’re going to get a loan, I’m busy looking up breeds on the internet! What do you think about cocker spaniels?
“What tattoos? Oh, the kids definitely left those there … No, I do not secretly want a tattoo … No, I don’t care if they are just temporary… Rand Elbert Burgett! Don’t you dare take another step …!”
That’s the other problem with this stage of life. Your otherwise mature, responsible, dedicated missionary husband is suddenly chasing you around the kitchen table with temporary tattoos! And you can’t use the tried and true, “But, Honey! The children!”
And speaking of children, I’ll give you a quick rundown on ours.
Ryan (26) and Hannah are doing great in their little apartment in Pennsylvania with our two adorable grandgirls, Riley (4) and Amity (2) and “newby” on the way. Ryan has discovered that he loves to bake after work in the evenings and since Hannah had to go “gluten free,” he has become quite an expert on GF baking for the whole family. He has also discovered an ingenious way to save money. Keep your heat off and let the downstairs apartment heat yours!
Shane (23) is the technical/media coordinator for a church in York, Pennsylvania and loves it. He keeps all the staff’s computers up and running, is webmaster of the website, produces videos of all the services and makes the DVDs for distribution, etc. He’s currently working on improving the online sound quality of the recorded sermons and re-vamping the website.
Karis (21), Tyler (19) and Jenna (18) are all up at New Tribes Bible Institute in Wisconsin. As some of you know, the week before Thanksgiving, Karis broke her back during an “Open House” at a gymnastics center. She is now the proud owner of a rod and eight screws in her back and has to wear a brace for three months. 21-year-olds are remarkable healers. She was back in class nine days later. She has no paralysis whatsoever and most of the pain should be subsiding over the next six months. Considering it could have been so much worse, we have MUCH to be thankful for!
Tyler is still making friends wherever he goes and is a blessing to all he meets. He graduates in May and is tentatively thinking of continuing his education possibly back home in Florida. Jenna is loving college immensely and has quite a ministry with girls both inside and outside her dorm. When we went to care for Karis and heard from the staff how much they appreciated having our children there, it brought tears to my eyes. Every parent longs to hear those words.
“Dinner? We’re having fish … Yes, I have been making it more since the kids aren’t here to complain about it … Well, your complaining doesn’t count … Because I don’t want to be a widow just yet!”
I guess I’ll wait till later to tell him we’re also having salad again. That might push him over the edge. And imagine my very real surprise when this “anti-health” husband of mine decided to grow a garden! No, I’m not making it up. The man who would eat “Hamburger Helper” five times a week and hotdogs the other two, is growing a garden. It turns out that his “pro-saving” ideals took precedence over his “anti-health” ones. He realized with all the vegetables I like to eat, it was cheaper to grow them!
“Where on earth could it be? … Let me call the receptionist … Hi, this is Debbie Burgett … Yes, could you tell me where the dumpster is? … Well, the kids used to take the trash out and now Rand and I are wandering around out here with our garbage …”
In our house, an “empty nest” has translated to VERY full sinks and garbage cans. Who knew the kids contributed so much? At first we thought we could wait it out till their Christmas break, but soon discovered that wasn’t practical. So once we found the dumpster and the kids sent me a drawing of how to load the dishwasher, we were good to go. They’re slated to explain the vacuum cleaner over the summer. It’s good to take these things in small steps.
And little steps over time can create big changes. As you went about your life in 2011, somewhere else deep in the remotest parts of the world, eight people groups finally heard the Good News of the Gospel for the very first time and were able to celebrate Christmas with us this year. That’s huge.
And thank you to each and every one of you who make it possible for Rand to continue developing tribal software for our missionaries to take to the jungle with them and for me to continue being able to write about it. I was actually put in charge of NTM@work magazine for the coming year. I’m so excited! February will be my “debut” issue and unlike any other issue before it, I have either written and/or edited the whole thing from cover to cover.
From humorous missionary blunders to heartfelt tribal stories, it will make you laugh and cry. But most of all, it will help you better understand what a powerful book the Bible is and its incredible capacity to change people’s lives. But don’t take my word for it! Check it out yourself! For a free subscription, click subscribe, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407-323-3430.
“Um, Rand? Could you help me eat these Oreos? … Well, with the kids gone, I got a craving, but now I’m stuck with this whole package … No, that’s okay. I just thought you liked the fact that I’m still the same size I was in college … Whoa! Slow down, Honey! You’ll choke!”
And may you also slowdown in 2012 – way, way down – and take the time to remember why it is that we’ve been left here. He didn’t leave us here to endure life the best we can. This isn’t some test or punishment to get through. He left us here on purpose to bring Him glory every single glorious, mind-blowing second of our hill and valley lives – and to thoroughly enjoy the journey and whichever scenery He provides.
And that’s much more exciting and a higher purpose than just getting by. I can live with that. I want to live with that. How about you? Empty nest or not, these really are the glory days. His glory days. And now we have 2012, for as long as He allows, to rack up more and more glory for Him. And that’s something to look forward to! Happy New Year!
“We’ve got to get rid of this fictitious dog you made up, Honey. He just knocked over my cup of tea!”
Love, Rand and Debbie