Over the past month or so, we have begun the process of packing up our home. Our table is now a folding plastic table surrounded by folding chairs. Our cupboards are beginning to thin out or may be even empty. Our mattress has no frame, but instead is lying on the floor. All of this might be abnormal, but we were all together, so its easy to pretend its all normal.
This last Thursday was the last day our family would be in the same house together for about a month. We brought in the pumpkins I grew this year to carve as a family and to take our mind off of the imminent good-bye. It was a fun night and Gracie loved the pumpkin guts! We took a lot of photos and had a few good laughs too!
The night before, Amanda and I had a date night. We ended up on the Chehalis riverbank where we walked down memory lane. All the people we are going to miss, all the places we loved to explore, and all the memories we will never forget! We were together and so everything was "normal"!
Friday morning came and as I got ready for work the girls were busy packing the last minute things before they left for Montana! Among those things was our very first pet, Samba the cat. Even though I'm not a cat lover this little punk grew on me over the 3 years we had him. And yes, I miss him! He was a great little buddy, and was amazing with Grace. She tortured that poor cat, but he always came back to her! I'm sure Grace will miss her little buddy too. Every time Samba would Meow, Grace would shoot out her little pointer finger and yell, CAT!!! over and over.
It was time for me to say good-bye. Amanda and Grace walked me to the door, and we prayed as a family. I turned to go and Grace said, Dad! I turned around and she was blowing me a kiss! She melted my heart....again! That would be the last time I would see my girls face to face for quite some time. They left for Montana, and by the time they get back, I should be in Oregon flying a season of Christmas trees. I most likely won't be home until December. Now we have what is called "Face Time" and though it's very nice and brings them close, I still can't hold my girls. I can't hug my wife on days she is having a hard time with the Abnormals of our life. I can't feed my daughter to allow my wife some down time. We get to blow kisses over the internet, and for now that is ok. Our life will be a series of Abnormals for the next year or so, but this one seems a bit harder then the rest.
The Good news is, that no matter where we go, whether together or apart, God himself is there to comfort! He promised us that and I believe it. I trust that God will hug my wife when she comes home to an empty home, when she feels overwhelmed, or when she is anxious. The God that holds this universe together cares about you! That is a great comfort! He has opened the doors for us to serve him in Indonesia, and He has all ready gone before us to prepare our way! He knows its hard to say good-bye!
This morning I got to wake up at my parents home. Over breakfast with Mom, Dad, and Grandma Meeuwse we got to tell stories. At the end my dad read a devotion that I'd like to share. It is about good-byes. It's not easy for Amanda and I, but we also know it is not easy for you we are leaving behind either.
This devotional is called Parental Math by Bob Benson (from see you at the house) out of the book "The Embrace of a Father"
Nearly a week ago Peg and I had a very hard week.
Wednesday night-- Mike slept downstairs in his room where children belong and we slept upstairs in ours where moms and dads belong.
Thursday night-- We were 350 miles away and he was in Ramada 325 and we were in 323 in connecting rooms and we left the door open and talked and laughed together
Friday night-- 700 miles from home and he was in 247 and we were in 239 but it was just down the balcony and somehow we seemed together.
Saturday night-- He was in the freshman dorm and we were still in 239
Sunday night-- We were home and he was 700 miles away in Chapman 309
Now we have been through this before. Robert had gone away to college and we had gathered ourselves together until we had gotten over it-mainly because he is married now and he only lives the miles away and comes to visit often. So we thought we knew how to handle separation pretty well, but we came away so lonely and blue.
Oh, our hearts are filled with pride at a fine young man and our minds are filled with memories from tricycles to commencements, but deep down inside somewhere we just ached with loneliness and pain.
Somebody said you still have three at home. Three fine kids and there is still plenty of noise-plenty of ball games to go to-plenty of responsibilities-plenty of laughter-plenty of everything except Mike. And in parental math five minus one just doesn't equal plenty.
And I was thinking about God. He sure has plenty of children- plenty of artists- plenty of singers- and carpenters- and candle stick makers- and preachers- plenty of everybody except you. And all of them together can never take your place. And there will always be an empty spot in his heart and a vacant chair at his table when you're not home
And if once in a while it seems as if he's crowding you a bit- try to forgive him. It may be on of those nights when he misses you so much he can hardly stand it
So, as our lives become abnormal, we rest in the Normal of Jesus Christ and the call He has on our lives, and the amazing gifts He has given us!