Thursday, September 9, 2010

learning to walk

Outstretched hands, teetering on unsteady feet, and so comes the first step...then another or perhaps a stumble, but soon the baby learns to walk. And in a blink, the baby is 19 and all that has been poured into his life comes to fruition. The first of so many good-byes in this precious role of parenting is heart wrenching.

Gabriel has now begun school in Norway, the same school to which I went 25 years ago. He is ready, armed with Truth, full of hope, excitement and a vigor for life. Dennis cared well for our seven other children while I accompanied Gabe on his journey. My last glimpse of our oldest boy was at dawn as he stood in the doorway of his dorm with tea light and Bible in hand. He kindly thanked Dennis and me for everything and told me he loves us. This set off my tears that flowed for twelve of the 24 hours it took me to get home! I blubbered through airline security in Norway, forgetting a sharp wine bottle opener in my purse! The security gal took one look at me and let me through! The man seated beside me on one of the flights shifted uncomfortably, perhaps he wondered if I were having a nervous breakdown. I tried to explain why I wept, which left him dumbfounded and likely questioning my mental health. How does one explain a broken heart over the joys in life? It reminds me of something George MacDonald wrote about love, "life would not be worth saving except for the tears."

Loving well requires every ounce of our being given in unconditional abandonment of ourselves, our time and all else we value. Loving children is a roller-coaster of teachable opportunities through which we can speak life into rough situations, where obedience replaces rebellion, truth overpowers lies, and love overcomes selfishness. Yet at times we see little fruit for our labor. Strength and encouragement often come through God alone, but we must trust in delayed gratification just as every humble, toiling gardener. There is no way to see the deep, healthy roots unless we dig for them and risk their destruction. 'The days are long, but the years are short.' And every moment is a gift.

I came home to my sweet family feeling sad and weary, yet with the first hug of welcome-home Salome' asked, "Didn't you bawl your eyes out cuz you missed us so much?" Yes, I did...and I will, for every last one of these precious babes entrusted to us. But for now I roll up my sleeves and am thankful for each hand to hold, willing to walk each day we are given, letting go when we must.