At the end of our last furlough, in March, we said goodbye to Sarah. Our eldest daughter has been in the U.S. for the past six months. It's been a difficult but wonderful time for everyone. I can't even begin to describe the experience, but I will say that the wonderful did balance the difficult and the difficult even turned out to be wonderful.
Caleb, for example, has stepped up and proven that he can write a curriculum for a kids' class and run the class smoothly -- even when there's a bit of mutiny amongst the younger siblings. Evie proved that she was not the sole contributor to the messy room which she and Sarah shared.
Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Sarah got to experience the joys of American culture: youth group, public library, Dutch Brothers, zumba, financial aid and car insurance.
The original plan was a six-month stint in the U.S. and, "Then we'll see where God leads." During that time, she was working to save money for college and pay her expenses. She also applied for financial aid to be able to attend the local community college this fall. However, none of us really had much peace about college.
All summer we prayed, "Give us peace, God. Your will be done."
So, September came with no financial aid in sight. Our response: Relief. Our daughter is coming home. I'm a bit excited. Maybe my motives are a bit selfish; I love having a partner in the kitchen, I miss her guitar-playing, She's my favorite Spanish dictionary.
Yesterday, I was reading an article in Reader's Digest. [Sidenote: I used to love that magazine, but this issue has more advertisements than the Superbowl, all the depth of a kiddie pool and the journalistic value of a first grader's book report.] The article, ("They're Baaaak!" October 2011, p. 37) began by stating that 85% of the college class of 2011 was moving back home. Intrigued, I continued reading.
By the time I finished the half-page article, I was ready to throw the whole magazine in the trashcan. Reader's Digest's recommendation for parents whose college-age kids are returning home: "Remember, when kids leave high school or even college, they are not adults. Between 18 and 23, they're entering the last and most difficult stage of adolescence: trial independence."
*Pause here to re-read that quote.*
What a crock of over-ripe fertilizer! Reader's Digest just lost a reader.
Reader's Digest, the company which popularized the word "teenager" in a 1941 issue, has now extended teenagerhood into the mid-twenties.
I'm sorry, but in our house an 18 year old is not an adolescent. "Adolescent behavior", in fact, is discouraged after the age of 10 or 12. Of course, the kids are all still growing and learning and making choices and sometimes mistakes, but as a general rule we try to move our kids from childhood to adulthood with very little time in that adolescent limbo which the American culture calls "the teen years".
With that said, let me tell you about Sarah's decision to move to Mexico in December. She's not coming home because of "failure to launch". Nor is she returning because of a lack of funds and inability to enroll in college or pay for car insurance. Although both of those were issues, they really had no bearing on her decision, other than as confirmation of God's plan for her at this point. Sarah is moving to Mexico because it's where God is calling her. And we are very excited.
Sarah's future is wide open. She left our home-nest to test her wings and found them strong. In fact, to borrow a phrase from Isaiah, she has trusted in the Lord and has risen on wings like an eagle.
School is still in the plans, as are mission trips, a journey to Europe and only God knows what else. We're all trusting God for His timing and direction.
And did I mention that we're excited?
Isaiah 40:28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.