On Saturday, our oldest daugter left home for college. She is going to be 5 1/2 hours away from us this year. Although we know that it is in her (and our) best interest to leave the nest and gain independence, it just feels wrong. All of a sudden, I am having constant visions of the day we carried her home from the hospital, followed by other milestones of her life along the way. These are emotions that I have not dealt with before. I know that this is the normal progression of life, but I can’t help but to feel weird about it all. With that said, I am 100% confident that she is ready. She is solid in her faith, more responsible than I am in completing tasks on time, and mature beyond her years. Its all good…but it still feels wrong.
This culminates the busiest summer of my life. Allow me to recap. On May 31, the same daughter graduated high school. Our past year has been a series of “finals”. Her final volleyball game, her final basketball game, her final prom, etc. It is the perfect blend of excitement and depression as we watch her grow up. Amazingly, our next child is a senior this year, so we are beginning that process all over again. A week after graduation, my wife and I took both girls to New York City for a senior/graduation celebration. It was a great trip, filled with great memories, including watching a window washer dangling from a 50 story building after his scaffolding broke. It was like a scene from Spiderman! Fortunately, he was rescued unscathed.
|My girls in Little Italy|
While we were away, construction began on the new middle school building at HCA. Behind the scenes of all these summer events was the work being done on this facility. As you know, building something is both exciting and time-consuming. There are many details in a project like this, but we are so blessed to have this space at our disposal this year.
Soon after returning from our trip, Gayle and I started talking about how the summer might unfold. Some of our six children are very energetic, and need things to do so that they don’t drive their parents crazy (can I get an ‘amen’?). After some discussion with the boys, we decided to take on the challenge of building our own boat. While I dabble with woodworking on the side, I have never built anything waterproof before, so this was certainly a new challenge. After about a month of weekend work, we launched the “3 PALS” (in honor of the boys in the family who worked on it). She has proven to be a seaworthy (or at least, lakeworthy) vessel, and has even been used for fishing. Fun times.
|The first fish|
At the end of June, we spent two days in Georgia at college orientation. This is when it started to become real, and we knew that our time was growing short. But, make no mistake about it, God miracuously provided our needs, and gave us a way to afford college when we truly believed it to be impossible.
Around the 4th of July, we had the opportunity to take a long weekend with both Grandmothers in the mountains. This was a very relaxing time, and valuable time for our kids to appreciate their grandparents’ investment in their lives. Of course, it rained every day, but that really didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. Until the next week, of course, when the school flooded during one of our many deluges this summer (see previous blog).
|Our full quiver|
The ‘filler’ weeks contained volleyball camp, softball tournaments, art camp, etc., until our final vacation opportunity at the beach. My kids absolutely love the beach. We had the most relaxing time with our family, and really did very little other than just hang out together. And, amazingly, it did not rain a drop in the entire week we were there.
|This year’s HCA Student Council|
Upon returning, I took the HCA Student Council to the mountains for our annual school-planning retreat during the first weekend in August. The next weekend was our first HCA Alumni Associational Cookout. It was great to see the faces of our former students, and to hear about how God has blessed their lives since high school graduation. We plan to formalize this group, and to stay in touch with these students who meant so much to the school in the past. Last Saturday, we were able to welcome the many new families to HCA at our New Family Picnic. Over 100 folks joined us for a brief orientation to the school, and some great burgers and dogs on the grill.
Of course, the past week has been spent with our awesome faculty and staff. I am so amazed at their love for Christ and for our children. Please do not take for granted how great this staff of people are. They are the best! This leads to orientation tonight, and the first day of school in 48 hours (with a trip to take more stuff to college in between).
Where has the time gone? While I have been busier than normal, and busier than I would prefer, it really has been a blessed summer break, with much accomplished along the way. God has shown Himself faithful to our family once again, has provided every need we have, and reminded us that He is truly all we need. Now, I am ready to remind your kids of the same thing. Are you ready for school?