Our family has spent the past month visiting our friends, family and supporters as we traveled around on our “Farewell Tour.” We spent a week in Michigan, a week in Oklahoma and a week In Huntsville, with a few other stops in there along the way. We have grown weary of packing and re-packing, living out of suitcases, driving forever and ‘being’ company, but those things do not overshadow the fun we’ve had, the encouragement we’ve received and the bonding time we’ve shared as a family. In fact, even though at each stop people were hugging us ‘good-bye’, it was hard for me to even realize it as that because we were having such an enjoyable trip, and for us it wasn’t over yet.
Even this past week at Mayfair, which has been a week full of wonderful blessings and seemingly-endless good-byes, it didn’t seem real because we were still going to be at church Sunday night. Then Wednesday night. Then Sunday again, Then Sunday night again.
When we got to that last Sunday, though, it was a little bit different. Sunday morning was pretty bittersweet. I love church, and I love Mayfair. Trying to soak it all in—good singing, a great lesson, a thousand friends in the hallways, our amazing class—I couldn’t help but get choked up. For a long time from now I am sure I will still love church, but the church that I will love will not be the same as Mayfair. I am going to miss this. Then for the invitation song we sang I Surrender All and tears sprang to my eyes.
I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender, I surrender all.
A little redundant, I’ll give you that, but in light of the fact that in about 26 hours my whole family would be stepping out of an airport in another city in another country put that song in a whole new light. I cried because I felt that (in my mind) there were things that I were surrendering for my Jesus, but on the flip-side I couldn’t help but do some self-reflection and question, “Do I—no, would I—really surrender my all to Jesus. That’s a tough call to answer, I’ll tell you that.
For lunch we ate with some of our very dearest friends. Among other times that we hang out, we have eaten Sunday lunch with them pretty regularly over the last few years, and Jon and I both consider them among our closest friends. Our kids are also the best of friends with each other and it has been so sweet to see them grow up loving each other like we love each other. These friends are true, I tell you. They have given so selflessly to us in every way as we’ve prepared to make this move, even though in the end it’s hard—they’ve actually been helping to send us away because they know that’s what God is calling us to do. I can’t even articulate how grateful I am that they have been so involved in our mission, and on such a real basis. For our last lunch I was focused on enjoying their company and making a good memory and that’s just what happened. We ate, talked, laughed and just enjoyed each other. Then my friend and I took our girls and we got pedicures—a memory I’m sure they enjoyed making and will treasure too.
Later, we attended our last youth event and we knew that after this we were going to pack and be on our way. For real. For good. The youth group has been a very big part of our life over the last 6 or 7 years and we love those teenagers. It was great to visit with so many families with whom we’ve built relationships and love dearly. It was heart-warming to sing in worship together. And that’s when they came. Round one of real, ‘I-can’t-believe-it’s-finally-here’ tears. We got up to leave just a little bit early and people started following us out just to give us one last hug, and knowing those were the last hugs to share with them for a while truly brought sorrow to my heart. I walked away with tears streaming because standing there longer would have only brought more.
That night we headed back to the house we had been staying at to try to wrap up the packing that I’d been working on already for three days. The baby was fussy, I was hot and irritated, and we were all exhausted already. It was like an impossible puzzle that you absolutely must finish by a ridiculous deadline. My friend blessed me by dealing with the baby so I could work, and at 9:45pm we had finally gotten the van loaded up and were headed over for a couple last goodbyes.
We arrived at our hotel at 11:15pm. By the time we got a roll-away, put the kids to bed, brought the 10 suitcases up, and took showers, Jon and I laid down about 1am. I was so exhausted. I had a thousand things running through my mind, but just didn’t have the energy to type it all out—and our wake-up call was looming only 2.5 hours away!
The feeling I had was just so surreal. This move has been in the making for over 2 years, and so much has gone into the preparation for every detail. For all this time, though, it always was something we were just talking about, and was so far away. Until now. As each month this year has passed I have seen the end of September approaching, and the emotions that go along with that are just so varied. Just like in one day I experienced joy and nostalgia, laughter and tears, anger and sadness.
My Facebook status for Sunday was this:
Trying to decide whether or not to even put on mascara. I am sure that this is a day that will exercise every emotion that I possess.
It for sure lived up to that.