Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

So many people are worried about me this week.

They know how connected I am to Abigail, and how she and I are more than cut out of the same cloth (similarity does not always breed affection). We are the type of friends who finish each others sentences, laugh at the same things, and talk/listen/ask/rinse/repeat.

So with her departure for college in the morning, it is a sentimental time...but I want to tell you I will be okay. And so will she. And I want to tell you why the perspective change .

Earlier this summer we journeyed through the death of a friend's 20-year old son. He spent seventeen days in a coma before he passed away - each day a combination of hope, grief, weakness... then strength from the Lord....but then came time for them to say goodbye. Ryan passed away on July 16, surrounded by much love. His mom, Linda, was for me a mentor of types - how to hold a child close, but with open hands. How to grieve yet still hope. How to be assured that for a Christian, you never really say "goodbye."

Anyhow, of course such a season brought to mind our "change in season" with Abigail. No longer did leaving her on the WSU doorstep seem unfathomable - no longer did waiting until Thanksgiving seem like an eternity. Ryan's mom, Linda, put a new perspective on being out of arms reach with your child. And about completely trusting God with the care of your child! She has inspired me to give thanks in all circumstances and choose joy.

So while I will miss the everydayness of Abigail - her laugh, her physical comedy and warm hugs...her cute little toes and her household help...her little devo insights and Spanglish and....well, the list could go on and on....while I will miss all of that, I thank God for skype, email, Facebook, cell phones, and texting. But even without all that, I am thankful the Lord has promised those who love Him an eternal home - thus, Christians never have to say goodbye!

Thank you Linda for blessing me with this perspective - keeping my eyes on the eternal! (I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow when I look in the rearview mirror at her little waving hand.)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Col. 3:1-2)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Note to Daughter: Order Steak

We're in the "final days" before sending Abby off to WSU. Last minute lists are scribbled - buy computer paper, find a fan, do you really need a new robe? Conversations between mom & dad in private revolve around finances (how much does she need every month for food?) and fears (will mom cry the entire 4.5 hours home after dropping her off? and if so, what does dad do about that?).

One fear that Jon naturally has as a protective father involves the guys that Abby will meet at WSU. He knows she is a savvy scholar, but what will happen if a sleazy sweet-talker comes her way?

I told him not to worry...that once you've had steak, why would you order hamburger?

Of course that startled him - to find out this way that his daughter has "already had steak!" But she has...and in so many ways.

Abigail firstly has been raised by a loving, interactive father. He has been honest with her and has exhibited faithfulness, godliness, tenderness, and a great work ethic. (plus he has those cute sparkly eyes)

Her close interactions with Pastors Jake, Bob and Rory have given her a picture of how romance and integrity blend together the way God designed for couples. They have set before her standards that are challenging, yet achievable with God's grace, provision and guidance. Each of them have courted their wives with a balance of passion and self-control...each serve their wives with high esteem, intimacy, and delight. The other male leaders in the ministry have also modeled godliness for her, as have the husbands of our HFG...and though distant, Jeremy Johnson's influence is also cherished as one who treasures/integrates/lives out the Word of God.

Abigail has "tasted steak" in her friendships as well - flavors of purity and respect have mixed with fun and warmth. I am grateful that the two dance dates she had were with guys who treated her with such gentlemanly honor - beyond just "opening doors," they guarded her innocence and sought what was best for her during the night they were responsible for her. They also respected her father's edict to "bring her back more pure than she was before" (which is now family lore). The senior guys at OCC gave their spiritual brotherhood as a protective mantle over Abby - always the big brother to defend and support. Specifically, this summer Abby's had a major portion of steak with Riley, Jeff, and Miksa. They have shown her what the perfect blend is of vulnerability with strength, openness without manipulation...adventure without idiocy. :) They have been the trifecta of godly manhood right at the end of summer so she can leave for WSU with that impression fresh in her memory!

Family has provided steak tasting too - from her grandfathers to her uncles to her brother and cousins - flavors of fun and deep conversation and attention and affirmation are always the takeaways from her time with them.

But maybe more than all of these steak samples is the portion she's received from the Lord. "Never will I leave you or forsake you." "I have loved you with an everlasting love." "There is no greater love than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Abigail, it's not with boasting that I told dad to not worry about the guys at WSU. God has been faithful to you to provide you with (pretty much) 100% amazingly godly examples of what His best is for you! In His perfect timing we'll see who that is, but my guess is that he'll be a blend of all the men who you've known before.

Just reassure your dad & don't bother with hamburger.