I recently redecorated the guest room in our home. It’s the first time we’ve had a real guest room, and the only reason we have it is because our oldest daughter graduated from college and moved out.

For good.


There’s a void here now.

A room sits empty.

So, with a little physical and financial effort, I have transformed that empty room into what we hope will be a space of refuge, retreat, and rest for those who need it. (In fact, it turned out so great that I might want to claim it for my own!)

guest room

With one daughter gone, another right on her heels, and a third almost finished with high school, I’m feeling the soon-to-be empty nest. Sometimes the void feels like a tsunami washing over me, leaving me standing on shaky ground looking around for an anchor to grab on to.

And so, by decorating our guest room, I’m hoping that the empty place in our home will be filled with people. People who need a peaceful space. People with whom we can share the overflow of the love we’ve received.

I know, however, that most days that room will sit empty, quiet, unused, and that leaves me feeling . . . unsettled.

The days of tying shoes and making lunches is long gone for me. I no longer kiss boo-boos to make them better—the boo-boos are less visible these days. I don’t even have to drive anyone anywhere (!)—they can manage on their own now.

And if I take an honest assessment of my life stage right now, I do have to ask myself, how will you fill the void?

Here’s what I don’t want to do: fill my life with meaningless tasks as I wait for my kids to need me. That’s not going to happen. Their lives are their own to live, and I will happily watch, pray, and be involved as they want me to, but my job as mom, in its most physical sense, is over.

I need to let go and move on.

I want my life to reflect the openness,

Here’s what I do want to do: to use the gifts God has given me to pour myself into the people He has placed right in front of me. I want my life to reflect the openness, the peace, the availability of our guest room.

How can I do that when the void feels so real some days? I can walk with God through all of it, knowing that He is completely trustworthy through every life stage. I can pour myself into others, inviting the weary into my restful space. I can choose to move on, move ahead.

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend with my oldest daughter in the city where she works. We had an amazing time seeing the sights, eating delicious food, and talking for hours on end. When it was over, I flew home, reflecting on our time together and thanking God for the opportunity to be her mom.

Despite some very sharp pangs of missing my daughter deeply, I realize that this new stage of life, of having adult children, is actually fun. I choose to revel in it rather than regret what is gone and cannot be.

Maybe that’s what the guest room is all about—celebrating a new stage of life, sharing God’s blessings with others, and trusting that He will bring just the right people to fill it at just the right time.



Shelly Wildman / Posts / Blog
Shelly Wildman is a wife, mom, and college professor who loves to share her gift of hospitality with others. She bakes a mean loaf of bread and would love to share one with you sometime. Stop on by!
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    I have found this season of being a mom to adult children to be my most favorite. It still comes with hard moments when your children are going through hard things, but I am grateful for a big God who shows us the way to love them through all things. Our third and empty bedroom is much smaller but it still sits there waiting for me to do something a little special with it. Yet, still welcoming for when our eldest comes home for a visit . . . which will be next week!!! Always enjoy what’s shared at this beautiful place here. Blessings.

    March 13th, 2015 11:23
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      Shelly W.

      It IS a fun stage, isn’t it, Beth?! We love when our oldest comes home for visits, too. Times of rich conversation and lots of laughs. God is so good!

      March 13th, 2015 13:05
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    What a great example of living your current season well and with joy. I sure hope I’m as graceful an empty nester as you! I love gleaning wisdom from those a few steps ahead of me.

    March 13th, 2015 13:20
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      Shelly W.

      Thanks, Sarah. I know what you mean–I watch those women who are just a little older than me veerrry carefully. 🙂

      March 13th, 2015 16:58
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    Karrilee Aggett

    I have been am empty nester for nearly 9 months. Nine months. That’s enough time to grow a whole new life and we have. I too was hesitant to simply fill my time with distrations and busyness but wasn’t so sure at how I would embrace the quiet. But, as always, with each new season – we have growing pains, but we also have growth! In them and in us. We spent the evening in the ER with our all grown up only the other night and (praise God!) all tests came back fine and they sent her home. I am still not a fan of driving her home and having that not be with me -especially when she’s sick, but life goes on. As it should. (I redecorated our family room instead of her room last summer because she requested that we leave her room alone for at least a year! Yeah… she’s not a fan of change. It will be a year in June and that space just may get a little more attention come summertime!)

    March 13th, 2015 15:06
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      Shelly W.

      Oh, Karrilee, I know what you mean. Dropping them off at a home that isn’t ours is a little weird at first, but we got used to it. So happy to hear that things are OK with her. And encouraged to hear that God has filled the void for you as well. Have fun with that bedroom this summer! 🙂

      March 13th, 2015 16:59
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    My children are still young but I am already fearing their absence. With 5 girls, my life has been so loud for so long that I find myself fearing the quiet. Fearing not being needed. I know that God gives the grace WHEN we need it, so I try to trust in that. Loved this post so much!

    March 14th, 2015 13:54
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    Ashley Hales

    Lovely. Though I have littles at home still, the leaving also seems like it will happen much too quickly. I love your commitment to not just fill up the time and to walk with Jesus. Thanks so much for your lovely post and for creating a purposefully welcoming space. Sometimes the space needs to be open to fill a future need.

    March 14th, 2015 15:13
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    Robin Dance

    Well, now…I know where I’ll be staying when I come to visit…WOULD THAT NOT BE FANTASTICAL??

    Great, Shelly…you surprised me with this one…it snuck up on me. I had no idea I’d be moved to tears when I started reading. Rachel just left to return to her last few days in college, and I’ll be right where you “are” next year. I LIKE how you planned ahead and made provision for a good thing rather than staying anchored to void. Beautifully written, inspiring and encouraging. So good to see YOU guest posting for GT!! xo

    March 15th, 2015 19:16
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    Monica Snyder

    Oh so lovely. When my husband and I first married we had a large home and two guest rooms. We lived outside Washington DC and filled our calendar with overnight guests. I thrived on giving them every possible comfort. Our lives were changed by a move to Ohio, serious health issues for our daughter and myself and downsizing even to call my parent’s basement home for a year and a half. I long for the day we will have a guest room again, until then I am looking for the courage to change my ideas about what overnight hospitality could be. Sleeping bags anyone?

    March 17th, 2015 18:33

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