He was 13 that first time we shipped him off. Our first born, who had never been to summer camp or spent the night at a friend's house (only cousins, really), whose entire experience traveling without us had been to 5th grade science camp with his class from school.
At the time, we knew it was the right thing to do. I'm sure our friends thought we were nuts (but that's nothing new). And as you know, with a first born, they always seem so mature. Until they aren't 13 anymore and your 5th is 13 and you think, "I sent him WHERE when he was this old?"
Perspectives certainly change as the years go by.
He had an amazing trip. Life changing. Souls saved. His heart stretched. We were grateful.
Since then, we've packed him up and shipped him off countless times. Brazil. Africa, again. Mexico (twice). Summit worldview camp. Boston. Alaska.
It's become less and less of a big deal to send him off and watch him walk away for a few weeks.
But this is different. This time it's not for a couple of weeks. Or a month.
Instead it's for the entire school year. A visit at Christmas, but otherwise it's going to be texting (except for right now, because they are on a media fast - ha!), phone calls and Skype so the littles can see their biggest brother. They already miss him.
My heart is full. And grateful. I'm so very proud of the young man he's become. I know he'll do well. I know he'll grow and be stretched even more, and prayerfully I am hoping that he will not only know Christ more fully when this year ends, but he'll understand more deeply who he is in Christ and get a bigger glimpse of his place in God's plan for this time in history.
I have great expectations. Of him. Of this program. Of the staff who is already pouring their lives into him. Most of all, of God's ability to work in and through those who are surrendered to Him.
A full heart. A grateful heart. An expectant heart.
I'm going to miss him a lot. I already do.
But looking back on the last 5 years, especially, I can see God's almighty hand leading and working and moving. . .
Showing me that those lesser "letting go's" were just practice for the bigger ones.
Because I realize that there are even bigger ones to come.
And grace enough for them all.