Monday, June 29, 2009

Surrender


Today is the day I will proverbially “put my money where my mouth is.”

When I committed my life to serve Christ as a young teen, I promised him I’d go wherever he wanted and do whatever he wanted – I gave him all that I was, all that I had, and all that I ever would be. God blessed my willingness then, and throughout my life. I cant say it’s always been easy, but it has always been GOOD. There have been times of intense passion and thirst for God and there have been times of acute dryness and dullness. But through the years, regardless of how I “felt,” God has held me to my commitment: all that I am, all that I have, all that I ever will be is all HIS.

When my children were born my husband committed them to God as well: They are His, on loan to us. When I’d listen to other parents complaining about their kids, I’d cringe a little – I love my kids! They are not perfect, by ANY sense of the imagination, but they are God’s gift to me – so how could I complain. Then I’d hear other parents clinging to their kids – afraid to let the kids out of their sight for fear they’d lose them. Again, I’d cringe: They are God’s kids: he will protect them wherever they are, and nothing can happen to them that is out of his plan. Someone once said to me, just wait, your kids are going to end up living on the other side of the country or even the other side of the world. And my answer was “cool, if that’s where God wants them, that’s where I want them.” It was easy to say when they were little, and that possibility was such a long way off.

So last winter when my daughters (ages 15 & 13 at the time) asked my husband and me if they could go on the “Never the Same Mission trip” to Guatemala City, Guatemala, sponsored by Brio Magazine and Big World Ventures (http://www.bigworld.org/briomissions/pages/about.html), a part of my wanted to say no way, you are too young, it’s too much money, it can’t happen. But gently, God reminded me of my commitment – they are his. So I agreed and told them we’d pray about it, if God wanted them to go, He’d make it happen. And secretly I hoped “not yet.” They were accepted, they raised their money in record time, and all of the doors opened.

Since March, we have known it was happening – my daughters were going to Guatemala, but it remained sort of “unreal” to me. It was far enough in the distance, and I had enough other things (like school) to occupy my mind, so it still seemed a long way off.

But last Sunday I realized it was not a long way off any more! As I sat in the Worship service at my church, we sang “The Stand”



So I’ll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I have is yours.
I have said it for years, all I have is Yours. As I sang on Sunday a voice in my head said even your daughters? Are they Mine too? What if something horrible happens, are they still Mine? It literally took my breath away – but I had to say, YES, they are yours, and I am going to let go.

I cannot explain the feelings all stirring around in me then (and now) as it hit me: There is a sorrow as I realize I AM letting go of something – my daughters’ childhood and utter dependence on me. They are stepping towards adulthood. Sending them to camp has never been an issue – it was 5 days and they were 20 minutes away!!! But this is two weeks and another country. Joy just finished her freshman year, and the reality is in three short years, she will finish high school and go, and Hanna is only a year behind her. This trip is a huge step towards their independence.

At the same time is a joy unspeakable: My girls are young women now and they are going out into the world to make a difference. They WANT to serve the same God I serve. They are praying and growing and doing things that I have prayed for years that they would do. I am so blessed that God would use me – and now my children. THIS is my passion: that my love for God would grow in the people following me. And I’m seeing it happen. And I’m humbled, and amazed and awed by God.

So today we will drive from a lovely condo in Naples, Florida (provided as a gift from one of the families sponsoring the girls on their trip), to Ft. Lauderdale. We will do our best to meet some of their leaders, and then we will leave them, come back here for a couple more days with Brent, and then we will drive home. The girls will fly back to NJ in 2 weeks.

I have said I surrender all to God, but now I get to put it into practice:

  • I surrender my maternal “control” – making sure everything is just right and everyone is taken care of
  • I surrender my worries – several “loving” friends and family members have made it a point to let me know all the possible things that could go wrong.
  • I surrender two of my most valuable possessions – my daughters, and I acknowledge that it won’t be long before I surrender my son as well.
  • I surrender my heart: I’m going to miss them.

The end of the song “The Stand” says:

But what can I say?
What can I do?
But offer this heart, oh God,
Completely to you.

I am doing just that, offering my heart, in the form of my daughters, completely to him.


Link to the song "The Stand" by Hillsong: http://iLike.com/s/3D5S
More Hillsong United music on iLike



Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer

It's almost here: Summer break. I haven't posted for well over two months simply because I've been swamped.

Today I go in, post my grades, clean out my room, and then "vacation" officially begins. Every year I find myself counting down to this day when summer vacation comes. I look forward to being able to take my time, relax, and not rush to do ANYTHING. Last summer my kids noticed that I was even driving slower. I want to make the most of every moment. Of course, being the task-oriented person that I am, I already have a list forming in my head of the chores to do around the house and to prepare for next September. But in the summer I am able to "attack" my task list at a much more manageable pace. No 5 AM - 11 PM non-stop work days during the summer. If something doesn't get done today -- I can work on it again tomorrow. Yes, I love summers.

And yet, as much as I've looked forward to the end of the school year, there's a melancholy that comes with "the end." I don't like to waste too much time with regrets -- frankly there's too much to do to waste time worrying about what I could have done! But as a teacher, I do try to evaluate my teaching for the year, and my personal report card tells me I didn't get as far or cover as much as I had planned last September. I wish I could have done more -- covered more materials, better preapred my students, etc. So among my chores for this summer will be to figure out HOW I can improve that.

Along with that is the reality that I have said good-bye to many people. Quite a few students and teachers are moving on next year. As a private school, we rely on enrollment to keep us going, but many of our families are not able /willing to pay increased tuition. Therefore our enrollment is decreasing and as a result, our teaching staff has been reduced. So I'm seeing families that I have known for years leave the school, and I'm seeing teachers teachers leave.
Among those who are leaving is a friend I've known in and out of school for 18 years --our families have spent enough time together that our children are like brothers and sisters. He and his family are moving out of state. I'm mourning the loss of a great teacher and of dear friends.

It usually takes me a week or so to shift my brain from the school year crush to the summer relax. We always try to plan our summer vacation so that we leave a week after school's out so that I do have the time to adjust. This year we don't get that luxury -- we leave TOMORROW. So today I will go to school and finish my "check-out" procedures, come home and pack. And the next two days as we sit in the car, I will try to "hurry up" my shift to my "slow down" mode.