On 18 And Letting Go

I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon not too long ago with two eighteen year olds.  One whom I birthed and the other her sweet friend.  They are about to embark on an adventure.  A new chapter.  Far from home.  Like on the other side of the United States far.  This Mama's heart has not  encountered most of what it is feeling these days.  One minute I am completely confident in the Lord's leading in her life and the next I question everything, and I do mean every decision I have ever made in this parenting journey.  How is that possible?  Such is parenting I'm told.  And then let's not get started on the preparation necessary to have one of your children on the other side of the country.
We're having a taste of that currently as Thing 2 was gifted an opportunity to travel to Bali for a global youth conference with the 4-14 window ministry.  Go ahead, re read that last sentence.  I sure needed a moment when I read the text that invited her.  There may have been a gasp and holding of my chest.  God is just so good.  And not simply because she was able to travel across the International date line and view His creation of breath taking beaches but because He gave this to her.  Alone.  There was a plan and He knew she would be invited before we did.  And He knows what she will learn and the connections she will forge and exactly how the Holy Spirit will speak to her and convict her and level her in ways only He can.  That my friends is powerful.  For this Mama that is confirmation in all the ways.

For now though back to Thing 1.  Like I said, her and a friend and myself took a field trip to visit the Reign Ministries offices and a Kairos class here in Minnesota.  Both girls applied to the Kairos school in Seattle and we all wanted a glimpse of what that might look like.  Thankfully their senior high assistant at church was a former Reign staffer and gave us the grand tour.  If I'm honest I was completely unsure of what to expect.  Maybe I didn't even have expectations.  I was giddy to be in the car with Thing 1, listening to her conversations and laughing at music choices and talking about coffee drinking issues.  First world problems for sure.  As is common among teenagers the topic turned to weightier subjects, tattoos.  See, Thing 1's friend was scheduled for her very first tattoo and I was curious as to what and why and all those Mama questions.  She boldly answered me and when she did I was floored.

Let me explain.  Said friend wanted an elephant tattoo.  Simple in and of itself but when she went on to explain her choice that is when I had a moment of enlightenment, at the least expected time.  Elephants are the largest land mammal you see.  They travel in packs, families, if you will, and when one of them falls ill they mustn't be allowed to lay down.  If they do they will not be able to stand on their own again.  That is when two other members of the herd will come along side them, enabling them to stand.  All this made sense to me, seemed logical enough.  But when the young lady in my back seat went on to make the comparison to the Christian community my eyes may have become a bit teary.  What a beautiful portrait of how the Christian community should live, holding one another up when we can't do it alone.  Amen sister!  That's exactly it.  And then I said a silent prayer that my Thing 1 has a friend who exemplifies this model.  They will go on to live some life together.  Have new experiences.  Explore a new city.  Live in a community of believers, surrounded by those that don't believe.  And then, like the elephants, they will be able to hold each other up.  An action that will speak to those around them.  A light shining together, to be stronger and better and to heal.

So I learned a lesson from two eighteen year olds.  Really though it was yet another confirmation that this is all right and good and exactly how it should be.  His plan unfolding and this little carpool chat was simply a God kiss.  A reminder that they are His before they are mine.  That this up and coming generation is going to be world changing and kingdom warriors.

And yet the learning didn't stop there.  Once on campus and in the classroom I witnessed those same two young women sit and listen, soaking in the lecture.  When break time came they were approached by students.  This is where I would have found a corner to hide in, maybe snuck away for an extended bathroom break, but no.  Those two stood confidently, met new people, listened and laughed, welcomed in with open arms.  As I stood back and watched this unfold I breathed a small sigh of relief and gratitude.  They're going to be alright and this Mama is realizing it is time to release her baby into the world.  Which is just as it should be.  

For Thing 3 on Her 15th Birthday

Today is the day that the third daughter entered our world.  Her pregnancy was challenging.  It could have been the other two littles, Thing 1 just turning three and Thing 2 not yet a two year old.  That is a possibility.  I ballooned with her, swollen everywhere and enduring the AZ summer heat.  She was cozy inside and prolonged her birth an entire week.  I walked the labor and delivery floor pleading with her, begging her to ready herself.  For the love.  We were so very ready for this third girlie we had been waiting for, the one we called Gilly-Bean from the beginning.  And then she arrived and our world has never been the same.  Maybe it's her dimpled smile, her strawberry blonde hair and those deep brown eyes, maybe her fair skinned limbs.  All I know is it was love at first sight.  

Thing 3 this past year has been full of new.  High school.  A decision to spend your summer serving in a foreign country.  That choice by far has been the bravest I have seen you step into, next to following Jesus. You answered a calling.  Chose obedience.  Even when you didn't know another soul that would be adventuring with you.  Sometimes that is exactly what following Jesus looks like.  Crazy.  Unknown.  Full of promise.  I am so proud of you.  Proud of the woman you are becoming.  The calling you are stepping into.  Your zeal for all things food related.  An exactness that is unmatched.  A commitment to your studies and yet a whimsy that I hope never fades.  Ever.   At a moment's notice you have the ability to make me laugh.  Whether dancing, acting or performing some monologue.  Say to commercials.  My current favorite.  You have a generous spirit that is unbridled.  Sometimes I don't even know how to respond to it.  I'm not sure empathy is the right word but the concept of giving it all away is surely not lost on you.  Yes and yes.  Keep it up.  And still you get lost in a book.  Spending hours escaping into other's words.  Every now and then when you turn your head a certain way or engage your Dad in a serious conversation I catch a glimpse of the future you.  Still my daughter yet grown up.  Adult-like. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't make my heart skip a beat.  I am so very honored to have been chosen to walk with you into woman hood.  I thank God I am your Mama and I pray this fifteenth year is better than the last and more than you could hope for.  I pray that everyday you are able to see God's hand in the big and small.  He is everywhere.  Before. Behind.  In the midst of.  Keeping you hemmed in and always present.  Listen.  Love.  Never stop chasing after what makes your heart jump and dream big.  I love you Thing 3.  
Happy, happy birthday!