Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First days...Last days

Today was a day we've been working toward for years here at Ransleben Academy. Aisley is off to school! She began her 7th grade year this morning joining a few hundred others at Bonham Middle School. For those who don't know, we've been homeschooling her throughout her life. She was excited, if a little pale, as she left the van. But athletics was first period and there's nothing more familiar to her than gymnasiums and coaches. Then she has the next two classes with Kelly who's been her friend since they were 20 months old and in the same nursery class at church. We also met a couple of teachers who already expressed their faith in Christ and welcomed her as a former homeschooler. All this to say, God has been abundant in providing a way for her to thrive there.

As if that weren't enough, today marked the beginning of the end of Cassie's high school years. And to further mark the moment, it was the first time that I didn't take her to school since this summer she received this blessing. Twenty years of talking to seniors has shown us that this will be one of the quickest years of her life...and ours. Every thing that happens is marked by the words: This is the last... Last time for school pictures. Last homecoming. Last first day of high school. There isn't one day since she became a senior that we don't think in terms of her leaving. Plans for next summer, what stuff to keep in her room, what clothes we buy, what kind of car we purchase, how to change a tire and check the oil, why it's important to separate colors from whites...all of it happens with a view to sending her off, Lord willing.

Two big moments in our lives...but now that it's here, it is both more and less than I had imagined. It feels very momentous to have them both gone...and very strange to have just Brennan sitting at the table finishing up her World History lesson. The quiet is quieter than I thought it would be. I'm more grateful than ever to be able to give Brennan all of my attention. There is so much less to distract her as she moves from subject to subject. I've never been able to teach in that kind of environment. It's really, really nice.

But though I miss them today, it's less emotional than I thought it would be. No tears yet. I think it's because it feels today like it's time. Time to send off. Time to test out what God has been building in them. Time to have them go off and come back to tell about what they've seen and done. Time to grant them the opportunity to see Jesus for themselves as the Christ, the Son of the Living God and to praise God for giving them what flesh and blood could never reveal.

You often hear older moms exhort the younger to take advantage of all the time you have with your kids because the years fly by. I can echo that, but am still close enough to those younger years to remember how long the days are. Long days...fast years. That's what I remember. But through it all, Wayne and I have struggled to discipline ourselves to the challenge of not just parenting in the moment, but preparing to launch the girls for life. It changed the focus of what we might have said so many times.

It's one thing just to solve a dispute between sisters in a way that gets them quiet for a few minutes. Another to settle it in a way that gives them the communication skills to talk to their future husbands and children in a way that honors the Lord. It's one thing to do their laundry. Another to take the time to teach why it's done in a certain way. It matters less how I spend our money than to show them by spending our money where our treasure lies.

We started them off homeschooling not to keep them away from "out there"...but to give us a chance to spend as much time as possible getting them ready to go out there. God tells us in Psalm 127:3-5:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
We feel strongly that Cassie and Aisley are sharp enough to be shot out...not too far yet though. We still want to be able to gather them up again. Find out where they need honing. See where we can strengthen. Make sure they are aimed right. And give us the practice we need to launch them further and further away...maybe even halfway around the world.

But that's another day. Today a few miles away is plenty far enough for me.


Kim Luttrell said...

I love your blog. I am also a football coaches wife and homeschool too. Just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you for all the encouragement that I have gotten out of reading your words. Thanks and God bless!

Kim said...

So glad to hear that...thanks for the encouragement! I'm working on a post just for us wives that is a reminder I give to myself all season long...maybe tomorrow I'll finish it.

Where are y'all working?

eileen mom nana said...

I am tonight so proud of my children & grandchildren. I knew that this day was coming (my babies are seniors) but because they both have wonderful parents, they will be wonderful adults in a very few years. I cannot 'yet' imagine graduation but so pray that all three from Aisley's first start with the public school to Cassie & Kaegan finishing this part of their life, they will have the most amazing year ever. We just have to be sure that graduation does not happen on the same day! My love to all! Nana

Kim Epperson said...

OK Kim, since you haven't cried I just did for you. As you mentioned your table, I was remembering the many days spent around that table when Aisley and Zach were "partners". The years have truly flown by-Zach starting middle school and Tori in high school. Thanks for the reminder that there is a time for all things-and letting go and trusting God as they venture into these unknown waters is part of it-even though I'm doing it with a few tears! Love ya!

Shannon Morrison said...

just spent the weekend going back and reading every post. love it! you are my major mom crush and i'm thrilled you're blogging.

Kim said...

So funny to me that you mentioned Zach and Aisley. She thought of the same things as we talked about how quickly the time has passed! Tell him we won't hold him to the wedding vows he made to her!

Mom crush?? Thanks for the encouragement! Come over anytime to have any lingering illusions shattered!! I told Candace that my doors are open any day...