So, today was all about goodbyes, just when I thought I was done saying goodbye to people…. I subbed in Kindergarten at church and totally enjoyed those kids…it’s the class I started out in one year ago and this was the weekend they were promoted to first grade, new rooms for them, and my preschool classed now moves up to Kindergarten!  I had 11 kids and as each one was picked up by mom or dad and I handed out those graduation certificates, I found myself more emotional – proud yet sad at the same time.  There was one child in particular who, one year ago, was quite disruptive, mean, sat by himself, didn’t want to participate in the lesson at all.  At the time it made me sad to think we were not reaching him…but today, as I entered the classroom, who would I find, but HIM!  He invited me to come play “Don’t Break the Ice” with him and after our lesson and worship time we handed out popcicles he brought me his, asked me to open it, and then asked if I wanted to share it with him.  How he has grown…and as he left the class and I handed him his certificate he gave me a huge hug.  Now, it’s not like they are going off to college, they are just moving classrooms and I’ll see them, until they are promoted again, but still…the goodbye and good luck, and promotion still is a sad yet proud moment, and brought back memories of what used to be….

One year ago, is when Olivia encouraged me to start teaching again, and seemed to be so proud to introduce me to the crew upstairs and even seemed to brag a bit on the fact I used to teach the four year olds and how much I love kids….and she is right, I do, and I always have.  It was one year ago I was also planning her big graduation party and so happy to be doing so and proud of her and the accomplishments she made from kindergarten to graduating high school…it was one year ago we brought home her dog and she would take that cute puppy in her room to sleep every night.

It was one year ago when I thought my life was so GREAT.  And everything seemed to be in place.  I was looking forward to hearing college stories, watching what Olivia did at Kidtown (a ministry at church she was working with) and I looked forward to hearing about what her classes in college were all about and who she met, and what kind of new and exciting things she would experience.  My how life has changed…

Since Olivia left five months and 13 days ago, I’ve struggled for peace.  But I also see the blessings I have been given.  If not for these kids I get to love on every Sunday, I don’t know where I would be…they bring the love I miss from Olivia.  Their smiles and laughter are a reminder of what I had, and I hang on to that…but it doesn’t take her place.  I know she has probably changed a lot since she left, but I still don’t see that God has a hold of her heart, because if He did, I believe we would be back on at least a communicating level…she has no idea how much I’ve changed either.  Like my family, she has me in a frame of who she thinks I am, not who I’ve become in the past five months. I thought we would be walking this path together, and the fact I am walking it alone (with God by my side of course), I have gotten stronger.  Stronger in faith, stronger in grace, stronger in my prayer life…it seems (like the song Battle for Peace by Luminate) I am wearing a trench in the floor from being on my knees both figuratively and literally…I’ve cried out to God so many times for her to come home, for her to at least call, for her to send me an email, a text anything. But I also know I am slowly losing the war – from what I gather from telephone calls and texts, the people she is living with are monitoring her mail, and have decided when God tells them too, they will give her anything I mail…so basically, any way I have to reach out, is being blocked.  For what purpose?  I have no idea.  God moves you to do something and it’s blocked.  So, I’ve lost that battle and I’ve slowly lost that war…I have literally fallen, the fight has slowly drizzled out….

There is something else this song says that is SO powerful, and SO relative to these kids I teach…God’s love is never earned, it is free.  Did you get that?  God’s love is FREE.

Just like these four year olds…these kids moving forward to kindergarten, their love is also free.  And I have to say, Thank you to them…no one knows how much I love seeing their faces come in that door on Sunday mornings and smile…and then to hear their answers to questions, and to hear them ask questions…so innocent, so sponglike…they soak in every word of every story.  And yes, I am getting a whole new group to love and to teach and to watch grow in Jesus…I wonder if they know how much I am growing by spending that precious time with them…and how much they remind me of Olivia and how much spending time with them just reinforces the blessings I have been given since Olivia left….God does work in mysterious ways of bringing you to and through…

So what to do with the battle of missing Olivia.  That’s a tough one.  I know in my heart, I cannot fight this war any longer.  Something stronger than me is keeping us apart, and no matter how hard, or often, or long I pray, until I give the entire war over to God, I won’t win…so, as hard as it may be, I have to let go.  Oh yes, you can bet I’ll still be praying, but to find peace, I have to let God take this battle.  And by doing so, I feel at times, I’m letting God down because for the moment, He has to fight this war without me.I cannot carry this alone, or even be on the front line, He’s going to have to shoulder this war alone…He and His army…and me, well, I’m going to fall down, I’m going to fall to the gound, I am for the moment, going to hold on to Him and trade this battle for peace.

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