Saturday, March 28, 2009

when Lizzy went to camp

"I wish Lizzy would go to camp so we can have jelly cups!" Lizzy was about to go away, and Thomas was looking forward to the treat I'd promised him. "So what do you like more, having Lizzy at home or having jelly cups?" "Jelly cups!"

Last Monday, early in the morning while it was still dark, I drove Lizzy to school for an 8 hour bus trip to Our Nation's Capital (doesn't sound quite the same in Australian, does it?!). She spent 5 days in Canberra on school camp this week. She's only 10, and it's the longest she's been away from home.

It was an exercise in trust for me.

Elizabeth was staying with 4 other girls in a motel room - locked, but opening to the outside. The room had a TV in it. The motel had no plans to supply her with gluten free food, so I had to send an esky full of food with her (I know more about gluten free convenience meals than I ever wanted to!).

I watched the bus driver push the old, battered green esky into a dark corner of the luggage bay with trepidation. (What if he doesn't remember to take it off at the other end? Will the chef provide her with gluten free food? Will the teacher who's supposed to make her meals take good care of her?)

I looked at her empty bed each night - actually, I stopped looking, since every time I saw her vacant room my heart fell with a jolt into my shoes - and hoped that she was safe. (What if something goes wrong during the night? What if she's wandering around in the dark looking for a teacher? What if there's an intruder?)

I felt nervous and on edge all week, my head brimming with questions. (Did I pack enough warm clothes? What if the girls watch something unsuitable on TV? What if she feels exhausted and achy like she so often does from her coeliac disease?)

"Where is she? I miss she. I want she at home." That was Thomas' perspective half way through the week.

On the school website there were cheery updates, reassuring photos of a warm and well-fed Lizzy, and a quote from "Elizabeth" (I found out later that it was invented by a teacher, and all she said was "it was okay"!) about the trip to Parliament House: "We were very lucky to have our Federal Member of Parliament take us on a guided tour. We went to the Speakers Office which was very exciting and then we walked past Kevin Rudd’s office". Ok, so it didn't tell me much, but it was something.

I prayed every day for physical, spiritual and emotional protection for Elizabeth.

But mostly, I reminded myself that when Elizabeth is away from us, she's not alone. We've been learning Psalm 23 together, so she took that away with her, tucked into her mind. She and I both know that the Good Shepherd is watching over her, through green pastures and dark valleys, filling her life with goodness and mercy.

One day there will be a much bigger separation: the day she leaves home. If she gets married, there will also be the day she puts her hand in her husband's, and leaves our family to start a new one. This was just a practice session.

On that day, I hope I can let her go with trust and joy, knowing that she is safe in the father hands of God.

Elizabeth had a fantastic time, and was safe, warm, and reasonably(!) well fed. The empty space in our house is full again, although she somehow seems taller than when she left, 5 days ago. And Thomas' final words? "I'm glad to have she home. I'm sad when she was away."


Anonymous said...

That broke my heart ... sob:(. I have been dabbling in a book recently called "Preparing Him For The Other Woman" and it makes me feel sad about one day handing over my 3 boys (and my daughter too for that matter) into the hands of someone else. Your post reminds me of the need to be prayerful for my kids and to diligently do all that I can to prepare them for life and the future and then to entrust them into the hands of my loving heavenly Father. In fact, you have reminded me that even now, they are in God's hands, even now as they travel home from school. If only trusting in God's sovereignity wasn't such hard work.

Jean said...

Yes, it is hard work trusting in God's sovereignty, isn't it? It never ceases to surprise me how I have to battle every day to believe God's word! Somehow, I think it should be easy - flick a switch and the trust is there - but it isn't. You have to keep preaching God's truth to yourself, don't you?

That book you're reading is on my shelf - what is it like?

Stephanie said...

God heard our prayers and delights to answer them! Lizzie was safe and you didn't drown in tears! I miss our studies and am keeping an eye on you from Washington DC (this week!) Lots of love.

Jean said...

Hi Steph! It is just so lovely to hear from you! At first I thought "Stephanie? who's Stephanie" and then I'm like, "Oh, Steph, of course!" I don't think of you as a Stephanie! We hope and pray you are having a lovely, lovely time in the U.S. of A.