Check out the picture…Go Dutch! Sam and me in our Central College shirts when he was 10 months old, and then Sam at 18 during a face painting sports fan day.

Alright. I know I’m not the first Mom to send their first born off to college, and I know my emotions aren’t foreign to many of you.  We are a blended family, so our son, Sam, isn’t the first one of our 5 combined kiddos that has left home.  But he’s the first one that I gave birth to that is leaving; and so, these intense emotions are new to me.  Sam was born in the spring of 2001 on Whidbey Island, Washington, where I had my first ministry out of college.  He was 2 weeks late, and I had to be induced.  We were connected from the very beginning; like a, hey I get you, we’re in this life together, us against the world kind of together.  I remember nursing him on the couch when I watched the twin towers collapse.  He went to work with me, or I worked from home.  We were each other’s people.

It’s incredible to look back 18 years and see how different I am as a person, as a mom.  Of course Sam has changed; he went from a pretty baby to a gorgeous man.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in these 18 years, is that you can make all the plans you want, and yet the best plan to make is that you are open to what God has in store for you.  Each year of the past 18 has not been as planned, or as expected.  Who knew when my college girlfriend sent me this Central College shirt when Sam was born, while living in Washington halfway across the country, that 18 years later he would be attending my alma mater and playing baseball for them?  Who knew that in the course of his lifetime, we would live in 3 states and six houses?  Who would have expected his parents would divorce the year he started middle school and 15 months later he would have a step dad and 3 more bonus siblings.  Life happens.  Change happens.  What we plan for, rarely happens.  And sometimes, the things we thought would be the worst part of our lives, create space for the best things to come:

Sam met my second husband, Tom, the end of his 6th grade year.  The first day they met, I remember a whiffle ball game in my back yard, and I remember Sam, being very athletic, aimed, and scored a perfect, hard hit right where it would hurt Tom the most.  I remember seeing God through Tom that day.  He turned around, kindly smiled, said he was ok, and went back to playing.  He understood why Sam did it.  He gave grace and kindness to me and to one of my babies.  He never pushed; and he gently understood.  God gave my 2 babies and me this man, this husband, this father.  I never would have seen that coming 18 years ago.  Life is unexpected, and life is a constant opportunity to see where God is at work.  It’s also an opportunity to embrace the new and exciting plans God has for you, to open your eyes to the new things that God is doing.

I, like you, could write pages each day about our pasts and our families; not everything in the past 18 years has been easy or fun or good, and we have had some pretty rough patches along the way.  The bottom line is that God provides.  God is in our everyday.  God works things out for good, in His time, and for His glory.  Sam leaves for college in 10 days and I am having all the emotions, all the time, manifested in flattering and unflattering ways.   But what I know to be true is that it won’t go as planned.  And I am eager to see the ways God will direct his steps and mine in this new season.  What I know to expect, is that I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know to keep my eyes on Jesus, on His truth, and on His promises, and to expect the unexpected; which really is what keeps life interesting and keeps us trusting.  Trust on, my baby boy.