So, things are changing around here....meaning, my kids are growing up. I guess things are always changing, but at times it seems more noticeable or visible than others. To start, our oldest (Haley, 14) was gone this week to CIY (Christ in Youth) conference. I was so glad that she had the opportunity to go, and am so grateful for the many volunteers that spent their week with 140 teenagers from our church who made the trip. As I dropped her off, I really couldn't believe I was there. Have you had those moments?...those moments where it hits you that your children really are THAT old and are growing up THAT quickly?? I looked around at the other kids going on the trip...yep, they were teenagers. They seemed so grown up. I glanced back at Haley ...yep, she was looking pretty grown up, too.
I remember when my children were little, older women would stop to talk to them and remind me of how quickly the time would pass, and how I should enjoy every moment. I believed them as much as I could, and I tried to soak in the moments. But, they were right. Time passes too quickly. I mean, I feel like I just dropped Haley off at her first day of pre-school, and now she is in high school. It's crazy to me. Four more years until 18...? Doesn't seem possible.
My other two 'big kids', Hayden and Emma, are going to middle school this year. We homeschooled last year, but all three big kids are returning to school. I am having mixed feelings about this, too. I really did enjoy having my kids home. I enjoy them as people and loved the conversations about all of the 'good stuff' we had...faith, life decisions, relationships, etc. I will treasure the year we spent together getting to know each other on a deeper level, and adjusting to our new family dynamics once Elijah was home. It was a special time and there is a part of me that wishes it hadn't been so short. This is the right decision for our family, but I'm just going to miss having them around.
I am beyond grateful for the four children God has blessed us with. I could not be prouder of who they are becoming...their faith, maturity, and responsibility. Being home with them this past year gave me a very real sense of who they are, and what they believe in. It also showed me that they know who they are, too. So, you see, my sadness has nothing to do with regret or worry...it has everything to do with how I love these kids and cherish my time with them. It's just going a little quickly for me.
And then there is Ethiopia....my heart skips a beat even at the thought. Somewhere in Ethiopia I have two more children...children I long to bring home. Children I think of every day and pray that they are safe and have all that they need. Children I know are most likely experiencing a difficult season in their life - one of loss, grief, and hardship. I pray that God will hold them close and comfort them through whatever difficulty is happening that will bring them into our family. Adoption always begins with a loss...that is a very difficult, but very real reality. I want them to know we are waiting for them, and that while we can't take away the hardship they've faced, we want to love them and give them a forever family.
Parenting is hard, isn't it? It's the greatest joy of my life, the thing that has taught me the most, and the hardest thing I've ever done. So far, I am finding the most difficult thing for me is letting go. Of course not ever completely, but releasing just enough at just the right times so that they have that balance of achieving independence all while knowing you are still there. I sometimes have to fight to let go just the right amount and not hold on too tightly.
I am grateful for a God who loves these children more perfectly than I ever could. I am trusting Him as they navigate new schools, make new friends, and take the next step in growing up. I am grateful that I can trust Him with my kids half way around the world, and know He is working on their behalf to bring them home...just as He did with Elijah. I am grateful that He is there even when I cannot be. I am thankful that they are His children first...and filled with gratitude that He saw fit to make me their mom.