Adventuring – College Style

I was on pins and needles the first part of the day. My college girl, my beautiful girl whom I love more than anyone (except maybe her daddy) informed me a couple of days ago,

“I’m going to visit Tara on Tuesday. I’ll be back on Thursday.”

She’s twenty now, she certainly doesn’t have to ask permission. But my heart did a little pitter-patter at her announcement, because her cousin lives three hours away and she would have to drive through Houston to get there. My college girl had never driven in Houston before today.

Her daddy told her yesterday to run her car by Firestone to get it checked out before she hit the road. So she set her alarm early enough to be there when they opened at 7:00 am. Good thing she did, because she needed two new tires. Everything else checked out fine, she ran back to the house to gather up her things, and then it was time for her to leave.

I hugged her really tight, told her to be careful, to get all her stuff situated before she hit the road — no playing with the radio or iPhone while the car is in motion.

She laughed and promised she would be careful. I hugged her again and when she started to pull away, I said, “I’m not done yet.” God has granted that college girl an abundance of patience with this mommy, because she hugged me back and then I was done. Out the door she went.

I sat down at the table, staring at my computer screen, trying to organize my thoughts and all I could think of was my BABY on the Houston freeways.

“Forgot my sleeping bag,” she laughed, dashing through the kitchen to the closet where such things are kept. Hooray! A chance for another hug, but then I realized how ridiculous I am. I kept myself firmly planted in the chair, despite the irresistible urge to hug her again.

And then she was gone.

An hour and a half later, the phone rang and it was my girl letting me know she’d made it to the gas/convenience store on the other side of Houston. We’d agreed it was a good midway point to stop, top off the tank, grab a snack. She sounded so bubbly, so excited to be navigating her solo road trip with success.

“Gotta’ get gasoline, Mommy. Then get back on the road.”

“Okay, Jami-girl. Call me when you get there.”

“I will.”

About the time I should have gotten a phone call, I got a Snapchat instead. A photo of my college girl and her college cousin, with huge grins on their faces, so I knew she made it just fine.

I just checked Snapchat again. Those crazy kids! To quote my college girl,

“In a sudden turn of events, we found ourselves in Louisiana!”


1985 — It’s a hot summer day in Huntsville. The a/c in our dorm on the third floor of White Hall is not working and we’re glistening — which is a pretty way of saying we’re sweaty. I look at Karen and she looks at me, and we both say, “We’ve got to get out of here!

Racing down to her car, we hop in and take off in no particular direction. We just drive. Somehow we end up on Highway 19 and at one point see a sign for Crockett, Texas. Neither of us has been there, so why not? We cross the Trinity River, not far from where it pours into Lake Livingston, and then continues southward toward the east Texas town where I was born. I’ve always been intrigued by proximity of things — it amuses me that I’m driving across a bridge across water that will flow within miles of the place where I was born twenty-one years before. In Trinity, I buy an IBC Root Beer, more for the old-timey looking bottle than for a irresistible desire for root beer. It tastes pretty good!

I don’t remember much more about that day, other than driving around Crockett, checking out the sights. But I do remember wind in our hair and loud, energizing music pouring from the car speakers. I remember feeling free and without obligation, even if just for the day. 


I totally get how my college girl ended up in Louisiana this evening.

Why not?

Change

Change is on the horizon for us. Our girl is planning on transferring to the University of Houston this fall. She could commute, but she wants the experience of living on her own, even if it’s in the slightly more protected environment of a dorm, rather than an apartment.

It’s so strange thinking of her being somewhere else, rather than down the hall from our room. I can remember going into her room at night when she was a little thing. I’d stand next to her crib, and later her bed, holding my breath so I could see the gentle rise and fall of her little back as she slept. When she was a toddler and a little older, she would sleep with us sometimes. I remember wrapping my arms around her and pulling her close to me, because I knew then that time passes quickly and opportunities to snuggle with my only child would eventually disappear.

Now she is a good three or four inches taller than me, and those opportunities have long passed. Sometimes when she walks past me, I grab her for a hug and hold on tight. She laughs and starts to pull away and I say, “I’m not done yet.” So she lets me hug her a little longer and for that split moment, I remember what it felt like to snuggle with my baby girl on those quiet nights years ago.

Gratitude

You know how words can mean similar things, but one word conveys that meaning with greater emphasis than the other word?  That’s my theory about the words “thanks” and “gratitude”.  Because “thanks” is something you say when another person opens a door for you.  “Thanks” is something you say casually when someone passes the salt for your french fries.  When you sneeze and someone says, “Bless you,” you say “thanks.”

But “gratitude”?  Now there’s a word with some weight behind it.  “Thanks” is too little when used to express appreciation for a stranger providing assistance to the worried mother of three, stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire.  The singular syllable of the word “thanks” just can’t convey the feelings a parent feels when a child turns the corner of healing from the consequences of painful choices.  A mere “thanks” is insufficient when your mother, practically blind, has her sight restored by the gifted hands of an eye surgeon.

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the promise of better days — joyful days — can only result in one word:

Gratitude.

I am grateful.

Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Searching for Faith and Trust and Peace

For several months I’ve been struggling with my faith in God and my ability to trust Him no matter what the circumstances around me may portend.  As a result, it seems as though there’s a constant flutter in my chest — an absence of peace and an almost paralyzing anxiety.  It might not be so paralyzing except that my worries are not simple matters like trusting God for fair weather on a  day when we need to install thirty blinds or for provision to pay off a bill or take care of a house repair.

My weak faith, my difficulty in trusting God are my own fault because I’ve not been diligent in reading His word — getting it really locked into my mind and heart.  And so recent worries threaten to overwhelm because I struggle so much to believe that He cares about me or that He’ll take care of my worries.

Worry #1:

I am almost fifty-one years old and I’m not in the greatest shape.  I’m not talking about the vanity of fitting into the same clothes I wore thirty years ago.  Aching hips and creaking knees, pains that shouldn’t be showing up for another twenty years or more are slowing me down.  I’m talking about not knowing if that anxious feeling in my chest is just an anxious feeling or something that requires a trip to the ER, and being OCD about keeping aspirin in my purse since that supposedly can lessen the effects of a heart attack if taken quickly enough.  And while I hope to spend eternity with the Lord, I am terrified of dying any time soon.  I want to see my daughter achieve her personal goals (whether that be children’s librarian, music teacher, wild chorkie wrangler, etc.), see her marry a good man who will cherish her the way God intended, to hold my grand-babies if that is in His plan for our family, to enjoy the “twilight years” of my life with my husband, whom I love more than anything in this world.  I have friends who say, “Take me now, Lord!  I’m ready to leave this world behind and be with You in glory!”  And I feel guilty for not feeling the same way, because it seems as though I am putting my husband and daughter above God in importance.  But surely He would not give them to me if He didn’t want me to love them with all my heart?  Would He?

Worry #2:

Then there’s that.  How to transition from the parent who makes decisions, guides, and protects a beloved child, to the parent who gives advice, guides and tries to protect the not-still-child, but not-quite-adult…  How to be there and offer counsel and accept that the counsel may or may not be heeded.  I have cried and prayed over how to let go and accept that in this fallen world, heartache and pain are a given and I have not been, and may not always be able to protect my girl from either, because she is growing up.  While I struggle to trust God, my struggle to trust humans with regards to my girl is even greater — I’ve loved her for well over nineteen years (if you count the time I carried her) and it’s difficult to not view the intentions of some of the people entering her life with suspicion.  Do they see her for the wonderful young woman she is, or do they see her as a source for something they want – a commodity to be take advantage of?  She’s so amazing and she loves so hard and she wants to believe the very best about people — until they hurt her and then she’s devastated.  It’s the kind of hurt, the kind of devastation that makes a gentle heart hard and less likely to love in the future, in hopes of not being hurt again.

I’ve loved like that and been devastated when the love I gave was cast aside like yesterday’s trash.  It’s a huge part of the anxiety I feel — wanting to spare her that heartache because I know how it feels and how it scars and how it never goes away completely.  Then I am forced to remember that as much as I love her, God loves her even more than I do.  Whatever happens, if I put my faith and trust in Him, He can redeem any situation for His glory.  So I need to spend more time praying, reading my Bible, strengthening my faith and building my trust in Him.  Then His peace will come.