Sunday, August 26, 2012

Writing The Next Chapter

I attended a concert Friday, it was unlike any I've ever heard and without a doubt the best I've ever been to.   It was called "A Concert of Prayer," and I had no idea what to expect when I arrived.  We had driven to West Palm Beach on Wednesday to take our daughter Rebecca to college.  She is attending Palm Beach Atlantic University, and has been looking forward to it for more than a year.  This was welcome week, and after move in day the school had several days of activities planned for students and parents.  For mom and dad, events were to end Friday, while they kept the students busy through Sunday evening.

For the most part, the activities for the parents were informative in nature.  I think mainly they were meant to give us peace about leaving our daughter in their care.  If in fact that was the mission, they did a nice job.  To be honest, I knew when we attended an open house in the spring last year, that chances were good this would be Becca's choice for college.  This week turned out to be my third visit to the school, but it didn't take three visits for me to be at peace with her decision.   We like the school, and the people.   I have no doubt that she is where she is meant to be, and it's a great fit for her.

   Photo: Mine                                   H.S.  Graduation Day 2012
It was the last two activities scheduled for the parents that caught my eye.  The first was called "Writing the next chapter."  They had assembled a panel, mostly of parents of older students, all who had been through what we were about to go through.  Even though I had months to process the fact that my youngest was moving out of my home, it was much, much harder for me than I thought it would be.  So, writing the next chapter was not something I've been looking forward to, in fact I'm struggling to deal with it here.  The session was informative and clearly some parents had an easier time than others.  For me, it didn't help all that much.

Following that session, we transitioned into the concert I mentioned.  A leader stepped up and asked us all to circle our chairs into small groups of 6 or 8.  Then he gave us a topic and a few minutes to pray.  Different ones in our group took turns praying.  After several minutes, he would close out that section by praying himself, then give us another topic.  We prayed for our kids, their professors, the classes, campus security, for roommates, for those that might struggle with loneliness, and many other relevant things.  We prayed for about an hour.  It seemed like 10 minutes.

Normally I'm not one that struggles to pray in public, but I couldn't open my mouth.  I found the process to be so emotional, that I literally had to excuse myself and find some tissues before returning.   I'm thinking, you are 49 years old, you knew this day was coming, she's less than 7 hours away from home, besides you are practically going to see her monthly this first semester, now man up!  I didn't.  I just kept blowing my nose, wiping my tears, hoping that everyone else had their eyes closed.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I got it.  With over 100 people in small groups, all simultaniously praying, it was a concert.  A concert of prayer.  Since I couldn't seem to open my mouth,  I listened.  To those in my group, the groups around ours and others further out.  No instruments, no audience,  but a concert just the same.  Just voices, talking to our heavenly father.  Then without warning, I felt it.  I felt the peace God promises when we focus on Him.  In fact, Isaiah called it "perfect peace" (Isaiah 26:3).

Frankly, this next chapter will still be a struggle for me.  But one that will keep me on my face before my Father, and I don't think that's bad.  I think He's ok with that, and I'll be ok with Becca growing up.  I think.

Speaking of growing up, today is Becca's 18th birthday.  Happy Birthday my sweet girl.  I love you.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Golden Anniversary

Today we celebrate a major milestone, my parents 50th wedding anniversary!  Absolutely amazing.  Being just over half way there myself, it really strikes me what a big deal it is.  After dinner we sat down and listened to stories about the way things were and such, and as my dad talked I was thinking don't take this for granted.  It was a real treat, reminiscing about how they met, their first date, getting through college, having a child (me) before graduation, the various jobs they held, all the stuff that makes up a life time together.

My parents have done it right.  It hasn't been easy, in fact we didn't reminisce the disagreements, arguments or frustrations.  I know there was plenty of that.  I also know that's not what stands out in their minds, or mine.  My parents have modeled an authentic Godly marriage.  Plenty of highs, plenty of lows, but never wavering in the commitment they made before God and man.  One man, one women, one lifetime.  Just as God intended.

Here's to my parents, Dave and Karen, and to many, many more years together.  I'm inspired by you.  I love my daughters and my wife more because of your example.  Thank you for never giving up.  Thank you for teaching me everything that matters.  Dad, thank you for loving mom.  Mom, thank you for loving dad.  Thank you both for living a life that honors our creator.

I love you!