By: Sherry Kughn
Reviewed by: Bethany A. Giles
Lambert Book House, 2007
A mother’s heart is like a tree. She wants her adult children, like birds, to fly in and out of her life as often as necessary to keep alive the faith and love that established the home. --Sherry Kughn
Personal struggles have a way of pushing us to action—research, conversations, and lots of reading online or in the bookstore aisles. Anniston native Sherry Kughn approached one set of personal issues similarly, by talking with friends, listening to others’ stories, reading, and meditating.
The result is Heart Tree for Empty Nesters, an approachable book filled not only with her experience, but also that of several other mothers, plus guidance for Bible study related to the subjects approached in each chapter.
Comparing a mother’s heart to a tree where the hearts of her children are nurtured, Kughn explores in three sections the need for faith, hope, and love at times when moms want to help, and adult children need guidance, yet all parties tend to be pulled apart by the changing dynamics of work and new family members.
Whether used as the intended individual or group Bible study tool, or as a gift of encouragement for a friend mourning the youth/mother relationship, Heart Tree for Empty Nesters offers a palatable mix of empathy and advice.
Each chapter compares a mother’s heart to an empty nest, a mother bird who weaves her nest, a prism that disperses light, a kaleidoscope (ever-changing and multi-faceted), an Etch-A-Sketch (a few upside-down shakes and drawing can begin anew), a gardener (with hope that perseveres even though results are not what she expected), a tightrope walker (balanced, discerning, alert, and disciplined), and water in a stream.
While encouraging and hopeful, the book also features loss, impossible situations, and tragedy. It approaches some of the real problems parents deal with daily after children no longer need help with bathing, dressing, driving, or dating.
Don’t look for easy answers, for a list of to-do items, or ten things that will get one through the heartache that comes with parenthood.
While the book is easily consumable in a day, refrain from it. Instead, practice patience as Kughn lays groundwork, provides a back story, refers to and quotes Scripture, and shares personal experience of a friend or herself. Then, bring your time in the chapter to an end with some meditation and individual reflection. As with many Christian writings, the real answers come during contemplation of Scripture and the author’s words—not in the words themselves.
Bethany A. Giles reads, writes, works and resides in the Shoals area.