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I’m writing to encourage myself today. When I’m feeling heavyhearted, writing is therapeutic for me. I need the reminder that God loves my children more than I do, that He’s watching over them, much better than I ever could. Mama’s don’t stop worrying about their babies, even when they’re all grown up, do they?

Walk with me back to the summer of 2007. It was time for my oldest to leave the nest. I knew it, and I also knew it would be very difficult for me. This mama hen was happiest when all her little chickadees were home. But I knew in my heart it was best for Lindsey to go away to school, and her needs come before mine. She needed a fresh, healthy place to grow, a place where no one knew our business. I was in the process of healing, and she needed somewhere to do the same thing.

Liberty had a good nursing program, and that’s all she wanted to be. It was close enough that she could come home on weekends, but far enough away for her to be on her own. I felt she’d be safe there — something of utmost importance to me. I talked her into at least going for a visit, checking out the campus, and talking to an admissions counselor. She was NOT thrilled, but she reluctantly agreed to try to be open minded.

On our way up, we saw the sign to Hurt, VA, and she insisted we stop so she could take her picture with it. Poor thing was hurt that I’d want her to go away to school, she said. Bless her heart, little did she know, it would hurt me more than it would hurt her.

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I read one time that mama bears will do everything for their cubs, feeding them, caring for them, playing with them, and teaching them to hunt. But one day, when they’re ready, she will turn on them. She will walk away, and when they follow her, she will ignore them, even bite and claw them in order to get them to go out on their own. They are confused. How could their own mother not want them anymore? Finally, they let her go, dejected. Sounds harsh! Even cruel! But this is how they learn to live on their own. She knows it’s best for them not to depend on her any longer. When it’s time for independence, staying too long isn’t healthy, no matter what the species.

During the tour of the campus, we watched a video of how the school was started. In the middle of it, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “This is it, Mom. This is my place, where God wants me, where I’m supposed to be.”  The truth is, if she had hated it, I wouldn’t have made her go (don’t tell her that!). I knew in my heart it was the right thing, and I was thrilled she knew it too.

We met with an admissions counselor, and as we told him our story, I was afraid he would think we were making it up. It is quite a story to believe! But he cried with us — yes, actual tears.  He said he would do everything he could to help get her accepted and all the paperwork done in the short amount of time we had to get it all in, and he kept his word. It couldn’t have gone better that day.

She looked like a different kid on the way back home, didn’t she?

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With only a few weeks to get her ready to go, the whirlwind took my mind off of the fact that my baby would be alone for the first time in her life.  Too quickly it seemed, the day came to move her into her dorm. Take a deep breath, Dee. This is best for her.  It ain’t like you’re biting and clawing her like REAL mama bears!

Leaving her there felt like I was abandoning her. She’s an extrovert, and I knew she’d make friends quickly, but for now I was leaving her with complete strangers. I cried a river leaving campus. I wasn’t the first mom to go through this, and I knew I’d survive, but it sure felt like I was dying that day.

All I could do was whisper the prayer I had prayed so many times for my children:

Lord, watch over her. Keep her safe. Be there when I can’t. When she stands at the crossroads and is faced with choosing between right and wrong, help her pick the right path. Strengthen her to do her best.

I’m a visual person, so when I pray for my children, I picture myself picking them up (yes, they are all bigger than I am, but in my mind’s eye, I’m strong enough!), laying them at the foot of the Cross, and saying,

Here they are, Lord. They belong to You. I gave them to you when they were in the womb. You love them even more than I do. Heal all their hurts, and let them feel Your unfailing love. Hold them tight in Your strong and mighty arms.

I believe in praying Scripture, and this is one of my favorites to pray over my kids, and I now pray it over my step children as well. Lamentations 2:19,

Arise, cry out in the night,
    as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
    in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
    for the lives of your children.

If your heart is carrying a heavy burden for your children, I hope you and I both will be comforted that God is at work in their lives. He has a plan for them. He’s watching. He’s making everything work out for their good. Pick them up, lay them at the Cross and leave them there. He’s not necessarily making their road easy, but He promises never to leave them, never forsake them.

Rest your mind, sweet mama. Get some sleep. God is awake.

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