Well the day came
and it went
and we survived.
In fact, I might even go so far as to say we thrived. Move in day at TCU with our oldest daughter Ansley was a FULL day to say the least. WOW! It was also a joy. That was my prayer. “Lord, please be my strength and give me joy in the moment. This day will only happen once. Please don’t allow my emotions to lead me!”
I thought I might actually die during the 2 weeks leading up to this monumental move. Nothing new for those who are old pro’s at packing up your children with all their belongings and launching them out into the world. However, for “first timer’s” I want to go on record saying the marathon between the launch of senior year and the finish line of “drop off” reminds me a little bit of driving the road to Hana in Maui………..50 miles, 600 hairpin curves (not kidding, drove all of them) and 54 one way BRIDGES. Our drive to Texas was actually 844 miles to be exact and, not quite as scenic as Hana, but it felt like 600 turns and 54 one way bridges ( including the one over the Mississippi) to reach the final destination………..”drop off.”
Perhaps this is why a Mama must grieve the season? Think about it, when we “drop off” our child we have indeed crossed a one-way bridge. We can only keep moving forward there is no turning back. And, as I approached each curve along the way I was tempted to turn back and want a “do-over.” Let me have that moment back to be a bit more gentle, give me 5 more minutes to finish those words of encouragement, the ones I was thinking but chose to wait to share. The moment never came. One more chance to say those prayers with her every night, look into her eyes, speak words of wisdom with patience and PLEASE JESUS one more chance to help my child learn how to organize that bedroom and maintain it.
You KNOW I tried!
It’s not that there won’t be opportunities for moments like these again. There will be. But not THOSE moments. Not in that stage or at that age. Each day with our children and our spouses is a one-way bridge on roads filled with curves. STOP and soak in the scenery.
As we drove the road to Hana we pulled over.
We put the car in park and experienced what was in front of us in the moment.
We tasted fresh fruit picked from the trees, we watched surfers navigate waves far below the roads we traveled, we walked through historic churches tucked off the road and near the beach. We splashed in waterfalls and hiked up mountainsides. We enjoyed the fragrance of strolling through lavender gardens and stood on huge lava rocks that extended into the sea while listening to waves crash and splash, sing and harmonize within creation. All of our senses engaged. All of our attention focused. We soaked it in!
Parents, SOAK IT IN!
Don’t race through these years so quickly that you miss the moments. Don’t drive the Road to Hana with your eyes solely on the road! Be aware of the road or you will clearly be in trouble. BUT, focus on the experiences along the road…………if we don’t, the road really isn’t worth taking.
You know, a road with lots of twists and turns can make you a bit nauseous. Fast movement can cause you to be a bit disoriented and a little queasy. It can flat out give you a stomachache! And so can the trip through their senior year to drop off.
So after 2 days of driving across 5 states, 500 trips back and forth to the new dorm “room” ( otherwise known as a box), and 12 hours of unpacking and organizing the moment came. It was time for the hug on the dorm step.
We were there.
In the moment.
It was happening.
Ansley had a meeting and it would begin in 15 minutes. No time to walk her to her new room called home. There we were in a big rented suburban, parked on the curb of the all-girls freshman dorm, with what seemed to be a million busy bees scattered around the sidewalk. Ansley opened the back passenger door and stepped out. Before I could even get my door opened I turned to look over my right shoulder and found myself staring at my 13 year old sweet Lilly in an absolute bear hug around her sisters neck. Head on her shoulder,, eyes closed, and tears falling. I tear up thinking about it. Not a picture that will leave this Mama’s heart, ever. I noticed a group of about ten girls walking by. They noticed us too. I saw them see us. I felt terrible that this moment was so public because Ansley is not a “public display” kind of girl. She is quiet and gentle and thoughtful.
Ansley backed away from her little sister and stepped up to the passenger seat of the car where I sat.
My breath was arrested.
Should I remind you about the 844 miles???
This was it. So I decided to SOAK. I held her face and touched her skin. I looked into her gorgeous blue eyes. I kissed her head and took notice of the scent of the shampoo that I am so accustom to smelling when I hug her neck . I hugged her tight, really tight. And I listened to the whisper of “ I love you” in my ear. I paused to soak this in. It was a moment that would all to soon become a memory. She pulled away to hug her Daddy (that I didn’t even watch) and then she turned to walk off. She walked with a few tears but full of confidence and as she did God gave me a gift. Remember those girls who walked by??? Well, as we began to pull off with windows down and tears falling God let me witness a group of ten strangers reach out and grab my girl. They had walked to the corner of the sidewalk and were waiting! They waited for her! One sweet girl, whose Mama and Daddy had raised her right, literally grabbed Ansley around her back and said, “Walk with us!” And she was pulled in!
As we drove by we heard, “It’s Ok. I cried when my Mom left.” And, “Just let it all out!” While passing them, this precious blonde headed girl with long curls threw her arm up in the air and waved while yelling, “Don’t worry! We have her!” I’m not kidding. This really happened. We saw her be taken in and cared for as we pulled away. Ansley was really fine. This little gift was for us!
The day was almost over. Almost. We had one return that we needed to make so we made our way to Target in silence. We pulled in and Lane knew, this one was on him. There was no way I was walking in a store. So I just sat. Lilly was crying in the backseat and I really didn’t have much to offer. I reached back and patted her leg. I squeezed her hand but had no words. We were just where we were. And then, as if The Lord had not made it known through those sweet girls that He had Ansley and that He loved me, He showed up again. As we sat in the tears a familiar voice came through the radio. Not just a familiar voice but the voice of one of my dearest, heart deep friends.
She came right into that car with me!
Christy Nockels is a heart friend and she released an album this spring that touched me in a powerful way. I prayed over Christy as she wrote the album. I knew what was happening in her life as the songs were written. I was in the room with Ansley when the album was recorded. I knew all about this album but when it was released I was like a raving fan. I texted Christy all summer to remind her how much these songs were ministering to me and how loudly I was singing them both in the shower and out. I would remind her that I would return to her friend soon but that I was busy being a fan and acting like a stalker. These songs meant something to me deep down inside.
And there, in this empty car, sitting in an empty parking lot with an empty heart came my friend. My friend who I had just hugged goodbye and cried with the previous week as she moved away to another state. Christy’s beautiful, anointed voice filled the car with Let It Be Jesus. Have you heard this song? If the answer is no, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! It fills space! And my God filled me up with peace. I had watched Him fill Ansley’s empty walk with new friends and now, He was filling my empty car with my friend, my empty heart with my favorite song which was full of His TRUTH! Let It Be Jesus, my song inside the storm. Jesus had me and Ansley and Lane, Lilly and Ward. Our family was being tossed around a bit and this was a sharp curve on our road but Jesus was reminding me to Be Still and Know He is God.
Lane came back out and it was time to end this day. It was now time to begin a new season. The “not yet” was behind me and the “what’s next” was here. The day was finished, the season complete and the drop off over. Jesus gave me peace.
I had peace.
I had peace with a stomachache.
I had peace.
You can listen to Let It Be Jesus here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2h9Hm9JZho
Suzanne is a storyteller with a desire for connection, a teacher with a heart for transformation, and a visionary with a commitment to the family and discipleship. A season of trauma and the loss of a child led Suzanne to a radical conversion and a passionate pursuit of truth.
Suzanne is the co-founder of Ignite the Family, a ministry with a mission to help families live out God’s design for the family. She is also a co-founder of Legacy Community Academy in Atlanta, GA, a unique hybrid academy and model of education with a vision to launch mission-minded student leaders who shape culture. Suzanne is wife to Lane, mama to Ansley, Ward, and Lilly, and mom-in-love to Will. At any given time you will find Suzanne with a book in her hand, people at her table, an idea on her mind, and family in her heart. She is motivated by seeing others live out their unique calling and loves serving as an associate for Celebrate Kids.