Mid-winter warning...another LONG post...
When I returned home, we put the boys to bed and sat down to figure out just what we were going to do. We had less than a month before we had to say goodbye to people that we dearly loved. We had little direction, few answers and hearts that just ached with what was to come.
We gritted our teeth and made it through Christmas. Our family sang together for the Christmas Eve service and I remember wanting to just sob! Nobody knew yet, so I had to hold it together and act as though life was just as it always had been. I didn't WANT to feel like this at Christmas. Christmas isn't about ME, but I had such a hard time focusing on the true meaning of Christmas...my mind wandered...my heart ached...and I was definitely sleep deprived!
I tried to talk Joel out of our traditional red-eye night on New Year's Eve (an all-nighter)but was unsuccessful. I threw myself into this activity, knowing that it was our last. I wanted the food to be perfect. I wanted the teens to have the best time possible. And yet, while games were played in the dark (it's tradition) I silently mourned each one as they ran past me. They had no idea that a little more than a week later an announcement would be made and that we'd slip out of their everyday lives. We loved these kids. We poured our hearts and lives into them and truly loved them the best we knew how. And this was it...the last activity after 7 1/2 years of camp, retreats, Where's Waldo and Red-eye nights. There would be no more roadtrips, no more hang outs, no more SNACS. I loved taking them to camp and hearing how God was changing them. I loved putting my arm around a girl and asking how her relationship was with her mom. I loved reminding them that God makes no mistakes.
God makes no mistakes.
I knew it was true, but found it hard to believe when it came right down to it. How is this best? How is this pain not wasted? How do I move my boys on from the only church they've ever known? THIS is BEST??
On January 9, a meeting was held after the morning service. The boys were at my in-laws house for the weekend (on purpose) so that we could tell them ourselves the next day and they didn't hear it at church. Pastor announced some changes that were taking place as far as the budget was concerned.
It was all I could do to not burst into tears too early. I barely made it.
He announced that the next Sunday would be Joel's last as youth pastor and that there would be a fellowship after the evening service to say goodbye. Goodbye. Really? Do I have to?
After the service, many came to us and gave us a hug, shared tears and expressed their disbelief. I ran out of things to say, but just found myself repeating that "God is good, all the time." Even as I said it, I struggled with not understanding how this is good, even though I know the statement is really true.
The next week is really a blur for me. On Monday evening we told our boys. First we told Camden, then Josiah and Trevor. We discovered that Trevor is a social crier (really!). I laid on my bed with the three while Joel ran out to grab pizza. I really didn't feel like cooking and we thought pizza might cheer them a bit. While he was gone, my boys and I cried together. I still can't get that sound out of my head.
Saturday we had lunch with our three seniors. It was bittersweet. These three had been with us since Jr. High!! I am so thankful that we had that few hours together, one last time.
On Sunday I felt a little numb. I had cried so much and tried to brace myself, but it was so hard. The farewell fellowship was very nice, although I don't really relish being the center of attention like that. The church family gave us some really nice gifts (my favorite is the Keurig, of course) and a few men shared some thoughts.
The gracious people that we had spent 7 1/2 years with took up a love offering for us. We were blown away by the generosity of God's people. Between the love offering and other personal gifts, God was showing us that HE would provide, that HE was still in control and that we needn't worry.
The ride home that night is a blur. The only thing I really remember is crying a lot, and hearing my oldest son wail in mourning.
I slept that night for the first time in weeks.