More Moving Vans—But This Time, They Belong to My Children

by Julie Lavender, Contributor to Heart Renovation

Why do I have such a difficult time learning a lesson from God?

You see, I’m struggling with change in my life right now. Change that I don’t want or like. I’m approaching an empty nest in what feels like fast-forward, as my third child completes his masters degree and will move to another city in four months, and my fourth child will move into an apartment for college in mere weeks. Children one and two packed up their possessions and vehicles almost four years ago now for faraway cities.

I don’t want my babies to leave me, Lord. I’ve spent twenty-nine years raising the four of them, and I just didn’t know it would be this difficult to send them off on adventures of their own.

ADVENTURE. There’s that word. The one that reminds me of our twenty years spent in the Navy, back when their slogan proudly proclaimed: ‘Navy. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.’

In fact, I wrote about that in Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character.

Here’s a few of my words in the selection entitled, “When Change Happens to You, God Says, ‘I Will”’ (found on page 63).

When God said, “Go,” Abram was obedient and knew change was inevitable. Abram trusted God to walk with him every step of the way on his journey.

Unlike me.

I loved the familiarity of home and the students I’d taught for two years while completing my master’s degree. I enjoyed our small town and the fact that my address had only changed once. …

I think what I feared most was change. I was afraid. Afraid of obeying God because I didn’t know what lay ahead. I didn’t trust God to journey with me. I’d only known God in Statesboro, Georgia—would He really go with me when everything about my life changed?

I don’t know if Sarai stamped her feet in the dust when she followed Abram to the border of Haran, but by the time the moving van loaded our possessions—a very small moving van, because two broke college newlyweds hadn’t accumulated much—the dust had settled on my rotten attitude, and I tried to look at my future as the adventure promised in the Navy recruitment posters.

Just like with most adventures in life, I loved a great deal of the changes that came during our twenty years in the Navy, and I struggled through a host of changes, too. But you know what? With every address change, God was there! Why had I ever doubted?

Why had I ever doubted?  WHY AM I DOUBTING NOW?

Just like the back cover of this wonderful compilation that I am privileged to be part of says, “’Under construction’ is the condition of our hearts as children of God,” my heart is in need of more renovation.

My heart is under construction by the mighty Contractor, and I am thrilled that He never removes that hardhat. Because, my “hard head” often needs a lesson more than once.

Even though I learned that valuable lesson when my husband first joined the Navy, I’m struggling today, fifteen years after he retired, with the idea of change.

Who will take care of my babies when they’re in another state? What if they need me and I can’t get to them quickly enough?

What if they don’t find a good church that they like in a new city? What if they find one they DO like, so much that they never want to come home and visit me on the weekends? 

What if they’re too busy to call me?

What will I find to do with myself all day, without a child to homeschool or someone to bake cookies for?

How will I feel when a spouse becomes more important to my child than me?

How? What? When? Why? And, of course, Why ME?

There I go again: I’m not trusting God for the journey. My children’s journeys and adventures, as well as my new journey, where there’s less dust from dirty, sticky, tiny fingerprints and more dust from toys not played with and bedrooms not slept in.

But when the dust settles after the stamping of my feet in a temper tantrum because I don’t like these changes, I will realize that it’s God’s tender arms wrapped around me, comforting my lonely heart.

And I’ll hear Him say, “I will make your name great” (which I hope will translate into “I will make your children dial your name often on their cell phones”) and “you will be a blessing” (which I hope will translate into “Even through your heart is an ongoing construction project, YOU WILL BE A BLESSING.”).

Change is difficult for me, God. I’m really trying, God, honest I am. But please stay close to me on this journey and keep those construction tools handy—You just might need them again.


© Copyright 2018 by Julie Lavender


About Julie

Julie Lavender reluctantly took off the homeschooling hat she’d worn for over twenty-five years when her youngest of four started college just over a year ago. Julie and husband David have two sons, two daughters, and one son-in-love. Julie has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and taught public school before becoming a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling mommy. Julie and her husband, a former entomologist for the United States Navy and a current wildlife biologist at an army base, traveled about the country with their four children as Uncle Sam directed for twenty years before returning to their hometown of Statesboro, Georgia.                    

Julie Lavender won a Guideposts Writing Contest, joining eleven other winners in Rye, New York to study under top, New York-based Guideposts editors. Since winning that contest, Julie has been chosen for five Guideposts Refresher Workshops. Additionally, Julie writes for her local newspaper, the Statesboro Herald, and, authored 365 Days of Celebration and Praise and Creative Sleepovers for Kids, and contributed to Chicken Soup for the Soul compilations and magazines like Refresh, Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Southern Writers, BookFun, Focus on the Family, Mature Living, Country Woman, ParentLife, and Taste of Home.

Julie may have difficulty learning some of the lessons that come her way, but, she loves examining God’s masterpieces for insights from God and lessons He teaches her through His creations. To read about what God teaches her, follow her blog at and connect with Julie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


About Heart Renovation

How does God make our character more like Christ's? What is His part, and what is ours?

Under construction is the condition of our hearts as children of God. He is the Contractor in charge, and Christ's likeness is His flawless design. We contribute to the process by cooperating with His work within us and by following the principles and instructions of His word. Then transformation happens.

This Bible study compilation is a construction guide to building godly character and overcoming the hidden problems that sabotage it. It explores how God works in our lives and gives us wisdom to handle such real-life issues as unwanted change, grief, loneliness, financial debt, and difficult people. It shares God's blueprints for a renovated heart by looking at Jesus' character, godly people in the Bible, the Fruit of the Spirit, and the Beatitudes. It also discusses how to help our children grow in godly character. 

Whether your heart renovation started recently or years ago, this book will encourage you to continue to cooperate with God until the job is done. After all, the goal and the reward is building a heart like His. 

A leader guide for a group study is included.

This new Bible study can be ordered from Amazon or our websiteIf you are interested in ordering books for a group, e-mail us


Subscribers, comment here.


Heart Renovation, Julie Lavender, Change, small group Bible studies, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies

Comments (10)

  • anon

    I enjoyed your candid, beautifully written post about your journey. Your account reminded me how I have to relearn lessons sometimes. Like you, I’m thankful God continues to work in our hearts as we continue the adventure of walking with Him. 

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    Thank you, Jeannie,
    It's such a good thing that God doesn't give up on me when I falter on an already-learned-once lesson! I'm thankful that God is using some amazing writers in Heart Renovation to refresh my memory on some of those lessons I've already learned and to give me new insights on lessons I need to learn! I can't wait to devour each chapter!

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    Thank you for this very honest post. If we're honest, most of us resist change--especially when then change revolves around someone we love. God's desire is always to draw us closer to Him, to refine our spirits in such a way that we must rely on His grace and love. Change is the vehicle of God's transformation in us. I pray the Lord will comfort and strengthen you in this transition. 

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    And you know, Joshua, I certainly wouldn't want this any other way, would I? Because this just means my kids are growing up to be godly young men and women and starting independent lives of their own! And, you're completely right about this situation drawing me closer to Him, because I am leaning into and on Him in my sadness with my kids moving on! But happiness for them, along with my sadness!!! 

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    Oh Julie, know you don't face the struggle alone! My kids are flying the coop, too. While I'm very excited for them to go find their own "adventures," I find myself having to depend on God's daily mercies to deal with my inner turmoil. You're right, He's with us. No reason to doubt or dear becuase He will see us through!

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    Yes, Michelle, as I just shared with Joshua above - while I'm sad about these changes, I am thrilled and happy for their own adventures! I'm loving that they are maturing into godly young men and women and making their way in life that includes sharing their faith with others! I will pray for your empty nest when I think about my empty-nest sadness! 

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    Thank you for sharing. Having an empty nest is a new adventure. We're beginning a new adventure too. We are about to close on the home we have lived in the last 8 years. The new home has some features we both like for space for each of us. The best part is that we will be 10 minutes from our kids instead of 40 minutes. God is Good.

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    Jann, it sounds like the 'pros' of your new adventure outweigh the 'cons'!!! Ten minutes from kids is definitely the beginning of a new adventure as compared to forty minutes! (We have three very dear couple-friends that, for different job situations, are moving away in the next six months, so we are happy for their new adventures, but sad to lose them!) Blessings and happiness on your new adventure and new home!

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    I understand, Julie! When my kids left home, I felt empty. I defined myself as a Mom and wasn't sure who I was. God taught me that my identity was only found in Him and I finally grasped into that truth. Years later, I was laid off and, again, I lost much of my identity. God was gracious and taught me the lesson once more.

    He is patient and kind. He is always ready to minister to us in the midst of our doubts.

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    Thank you for sharing that, Sherry! I'll admit that it's comforting to know that you had to 're-learn' the lesson - as I shared above, I would have thought I could have learned that lesson with God the first time, and not need a re-do, but I'm afraid I OFTEN need re-do's.... Like you said, it's such a blessing that God is gracious and teaches us lessons more than once. My head knows that my identity is not defined by being a mom, but it's taking my heart a little longer to catch up.....Thanks for the encouraging words that let me know it will happen...with time and leaning on God - which is exactly what I need to be doing anway! Blessings!

    Jul 05, 2018

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Winning the Victory: A Blog by Katy Kauffman

Award-Winning Author, Editor, Bible Teacher

As co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies, Katy is a Bible study author and editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine. Follow Katy's blog to receive posts sharing practical strategies for winning life's spiritual battles. 


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