We are saying more goodbyes - the really hard ones are coming fast.
About a month ago, we made trip to South Carolina to say good-bye to Reid's family. These were our first goodbyes. I actually wrote a very long post about us beginning the "Goodbye Road" but now all of my words float somewhere in cyberspace. The entire post...evaporated...and it was a long one. Oh well. Our time with Reid's family was special, but because our departure date was far off, the goodbyes didn't seem as real.
As I type this post, Reid has been on the phone with his Dad this morning. Now he is talking to his sister, Margaret, who called to say "goodbye." Their phone calls mean so much.
Friday, Reid spoke to his 96 year old grandfather on the phone. Reid's grandfather's words to Reid were, "I just hope I live to see you one more time." Reid couldn't even say it to me without crying.
This is...our last Franklin family picture taken two days ago.
Saturday, we said goodbye to our nephews who are headed to camp. Our boys said goodbye to their cousins they have been living life with. Many tears for everyone. I saw each of my boys cry. Some during the goodbyes and some afterwards. My heart was crumbling inside because this is so hard.
Pushing in further knowing Franklin's heart is always revealed through his drawing, I asked him, "If you could draw something to describe how you are feeling, what would you draw?"
After many seconds of silence while he contemplated, he responded, "I'd draw a man on his knees praying."
Oh, yes, son! Yes!
"Explain more," I challenged.
"Well, I'm really sad, but I'm also excited. The thing is, I'm not really sure what I'm excited about because we don't really know what it will be like. I'm feeling everything at the same time."
Oh, yes, son! Yes!
Mason said that as he was walking up to the house praying to God after the goodbyes, God met him. Mason said he was hurting so much. Why am I having to leave all my friends and family? All of the sudden he shared that he felt God wrap His arms around him and tell him, "I'm the best friend you will ever have. I'm with you wherever you go. I will not leave you. I am with you." Mason shared it was the most amazing feeling to KNOW God is with him.
Oh, yes, son! Yes!
To comfort him, we held him. We spoke truth over him. We prayed with him. "But this is so hard. This is so hard. This is so hard." he kept saying over and over.
And, it is.
No doubt, this is the hardest thing we have ever seen our sons through. No doubt, this is the hardest thing God has ever asked of us.
"Oh, honey, I believe that," Mamaw choked out.
It's true. That's our promise.
Ansley slipped into a coma the next day, and left the earth to be with the Lord a few days later. I grieved tremendously the loss of her earthly life, but the truth is that we will be together again. At times, I feel she is really still with me because she had such a tremendous impact on my life. In fact, in many ways, she is going with us to Ghana. It was always her dream.
So I carry her with me in my heart.
As I do everyone. My family, my friends, my elderly grandmother, Reid's grandfather, the boys' cousins - we carry you with us in our hearts. YOU GO WITH US!
In the back of every goodbye for me is the question - will I see you again? What if God calls us to serve in Ghana permanently, and it is longer than our two year commitment? What if the words spoken in the conversation are our last to you? What if? What if?
I can rest in the truth that for all of my friends and family who know Jesus as their Savior. We will be together again. WILL BE! It may be in a place not on this earth, but it may be in eternity as we rejoice with our Savior. Wherever we are, HE binds our hearts together.
Please know that I am not complaining about our "choice to go" as someone recently said to me. I am sharing from the depths the difficulty of following God's call to GO to the ends of the earth. The "adventure" our family is beginning has some perilous turns along the path...it's not easy. But it's good. It's right. It's where HE is leading.
In the past three days, I've received three e-mails with these words. "There is no safer place to be than in the center of God's will."
We choose to stay here...in the center of His will...knowing He is our best friend who goes with us.
We love you. So much. Thank you for loving us so well. We truly do carry you with us in our hearts.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
32 hours from now, we depart. Right now, I have friends arriving to help clean my parents home and tie up our loose ends to help prepare us to GO. We are so blessed by so many who are sending us well.
We love you all!