This boy. Since he was the smallest of boys, he has been independent.
He did not want to be rocked and cuddled to sleep; he wanted simply to be laid down and he would take care of the getting to sleep bit.
He wanted only the minimal instruction in conquering new abilities. Riding a bike without training wheels took no time as he got the concept and then was off ripping down the street with a buddy, laughing loudly and making up stories.
And probably filming.
At fourteen he went off and found a job. The first option, Baskin Robbins, was a nod to a lifetime dream of being an ice cream taster. He found that the staff wasn’t very responsive, so he turned his attention to Culver’s. Think burger version of Chic-fil-A. Secured the job, and employee of the month on his second month. With no help from us.
This boy’s mind is filled with stories and adventures and ideas. He is so quick to understand something, when he is interested. His first love has been movies. He loves watching them and for a season we thought he might be interested in acting. Until stage fright made the acting less than enjoyable and he turned his attention more to the making of the films. He has a series he has done with a cousin over seven years or so. Five episodes a year. They have a website, a plot, character development, drama, great editing and humor. He would probably kill me if I attached the link.
Language has taken ahold of his attention in the last few years. French he is comfortable with, Italian he began teaching himself and some others, until he became bored and picked up Korean.
He loves Asian culture right now. Korean culture. Not so interested in Nashville culture.
So when a family friend called and invited this boy to go to Asia for the month of August, he was all in.
We have grown familiar with the knowledge that this boy probably won’t live in our city for his whole life. He is too curious, to independent. He is going to travel, and he is going to see the world. And he very well may find a place far away that he loves. We are familiar with the knowledge, but since he is only 15 we have not completely accepted the knowledge.
A friend, who may be a grown up version of our Nate, encouraged me not to say no from fear. If there was a legitimate reason to say no, that’s fine. If, however, the no rising up in your throat like a lump because, well, it’s Asia, then maybe let that “no” go.
First international trip. With folks he has never met before, and just a knowledge of stories of the friend who invited him. We said yes…but we were with our worries.
So. I flew the boy to Chicago on July 31st. We met this friend known only from stories, and I almost took Nate on home with me on August 1. Instead, I handed him off to the care of our friend, and his friends, and the great care of God.
And I did not cry in front of him.
We watched diligently the path of his flight, and were thrilled when all the members of the team arrived. He was headed to help out some who were teaching English in two camps.
Languages and Asian culture. Is God not delightful in how he stirs our interest and then plops something like this in our lap?
Several years ago, we sent Nate to a sleep away camp for a week. The older boy had gone, lots of friends went, and we thought it would be great. We poured over pictures the camp posted every day for a glimpse of the boy. We questioned and doubted when we saw him standing with arms folded, away from the group. We worried.
This felt somewhat the same, except for that 14 hour flight of distance.
We poured over every picture he sent.
The pictures emphasized how far away he was. How different the culture and the faces.
They emphasized how he was doing something so big, so completely different than he had ever done. He had never worked with kids. He had never helped teach English.
It was so different…and yet, the joy we saw in every picture made us so happy. No folded arms. No standing at a distance. Just a big silly grin in every. Single. Picture.
He was right where he was supposed to be, and the gifting so God had placed in him…the things that delighted him and sparked that enthusiastic learning…they were shining through. The reports we heard back were awesome. He was engaged, and loving it…and we were so happy!
Eleven days in and we thought how awesome it was that he still had a whole different camp to help with in a different city, and then on to six days of sightseeing!!
Experiencing a different culture is awesome in any way we can get there, but to get to spend a whole month in a different place really allows such a deep understanding. So awesome. We were totally excited!!
God had been so good to orchestrate all of this.
And then. Well, things changed.
And that’s a great place to pause. Yep, that is a broken arm. Broken humerus in fact. Broken into four pieces and requiring emergency surgery. . A 14 hour flight away.
That’s not the focus for the moment.
For the moment, the focus is the fact that God is stirring things in our kids…things that are probably deeper and greater than we can imagine.
Right now, Steve and I are in that strange transition from orchestrating and directing and shepherding our children, to more of an observing and praying and advising role.
With the oldest at college, and now this adventure with Nate, we are realizing that the role of parent is so completely immersed in loving fiercely and guiding and engaging…only with the goal of a separation and a lessening of the need for us.
I know, I know….we are still needed. We are still engaged and we are still loving fiercely. However, our dependence on God to do the more intimate direction and protection has come in to very sharp focus very quickly for us.
I have to confess, the sheer speed of this transition has been a little dizzying.
Suddenly, I look at these boys and I do not see children I need to protect and worry over. I see young men who are beginning to be aware that God has equipped them and directed them and is going to use them. I see the bit of fear, and I see the bit of anxiety…but my word have I been struck by the delight and the joy as they step out.
So, with our littles still in our care, let’s keep pouring in and loving fiercely and engaging. Let us keep praying for those delights to be directed by God and for Him to begin equipping and preparing. Because, my friends, in the blink of an eye we will be struck by the character and the strength and the joy these children of ours have developed. We will be struck that we are sending young men and women to go bring a hope and love and courage to a world that is so in need of hope and loving and courage.
Even if the direction takes them across the ocean, or just a few hours away. Even if. God is working and when He is and we give the freedom for them to step out…we’ll see the joy in their big silly grins.
It wont be without challenges though….so follow me on to the next post and part two.