Wet, dewy grass meets us each morning with cheerful, sunny intent as the sun then fades away each evening into the silence met only by the playful sounds of insects and birds singing their way into the darkness of night. And such is the rhythm of summer. One day passes as the next one begins. Life is predictable like that. I linger on thoughts of my tomorrows, knowing some will remain on the worn, known path of predictability. Yet others come with surprising wonder and questions of what, when, why, and how? As moments turn into memories, as days turn into years, I have learned the art of enjoying, really relishing, the beauty and steadfast expectation of routine. Yet with that routine, new adventures and changes shake up my world and generally bring beauty and blessing especially when I choose to focus on all the good.
On a sunny day in March, Nathan Benson and our sweet girl stood before a crowd of loved ones and vowed to spend their lives honoring, loving and committing themselves to each other every single day. What a beautiful sight to see them smiling and gazing into each others’ eyes with big, excited smiles as they spoke their vows. It was a day to cherish. Their transition to married life as new roommates and spouses has been as expected – full of excitement, new adventures, never having to say goodbye, and grown up decisions – and at the same time, learning how to level set expectations and communicate well. Anyone who professes that marriage is easy has not experienced the committed decision it takes to daily die to self and steadfastly work hard to live as a team. What a blessing it is as a parent to witness two young adults loving well and living life together with intention.
In excited anticipation, we now look forward to our oldest’s wedding in late August as he marries Taylor Orton – a beautiful, intelligent, engaging young woman who stole our hearts from the start. Brad and Taylor met at God’s Mountain, a summer camp where they are both in their third year as leaders. As Brad persists through his college years, he has three more semesters to complete, so they will remain in their known, familiar city of St. Joe for a while longer. We are excited to walk this journey with them. God brought a beautiful soul into Brad’s life, and we are certain He will bless their days as He has been faithful to do with Sidney and Nathan.
There is no greater joy than to watch a child fall in love and discover the partner God intended for them from the beginning. I am honored to witness two of my children explore the adventures of marriage. Looking back to Travis’ and my early years, now over twenty five years ago, I smile and remember how very poor we were from a worldly standpoint, but how rich in love we were as we experienced the beauty of marriage and the parallel frustrations of learning how to make decisions together and communicate well. Those early years were both sunshine and fog all rolled up into one amazing package of discovery and growth together. Looking back, I see how intently we both worked to love well all while mastering the art of both asking for and receiving forgiveness. I would not trade those years because they created a foundation that has carried us through some beautiful, enriching, and equally dark moments. Life is full of change that comes as predictably as the steadfast seasons which find us every few months here in the Midwest.
Just last month, Trevor, too, entered a new season. As his college years are upon him after walking the graduation stage, he made the decision to enter the military, more specifically, the Navy. To say we are proud of his decision is an understatement as both Travis and I come from families with strong military service. Because Trevor scored high on the ASVAB (military placement exam), he was presented with a wide range of choices, and ultimately landed on cryptology. Because of the narrow scope of his role and the low number of sailors who do that job, he will not leave for boot camp until December then will start his educational training in January. This last season of having him home under our roof is a cherished yet bittersweet time, knowing his days within arms’ reach are numbered. Yet each of us raising children are on the same path of the ticking clock, some just have more time on their side than others. This journey with our last to leave has been one of simple joy and unwavering pride as he has chosen the unpopular yet respected path of service to our country. We are excited to see where these next couple years take Trevor. If I am confident of only one thing, it is that this young man, the most independent, strong willed of our four, will succeed at whatever he puts his mind to. To say my heart breaks at the thought of him leaving home would be a severe understatement, but the parallel emotions of pride and respect equally lead me to look forward to his future.
As I wrote in my last post nearly ten months ago, Ryan remains the same. The long goodbye continues as slowing speeds, yet the daily joy he brings to our family is a harvest of blessing and gratefulness for each day the Lord allows us to love on him. His sophomore year was relatively uneventful, and for that we are so very thankful. With all the changes within our family this year from the older three, we are glad Ryan’s world remains predictable and routine. He has become the steadfast, unwavering constant in our home. His squeals and cuddles are the expected sweet spot in our days as his seizures continue to fight for attention and time, robbing him of alertness and demanding much needed sleep. How he remains the warrior he has become is unexplainable, but his gentle, kind spirit remains a gift to all who have the privilege of caring for him.
As summer presses on, as the heat waves come and go, as moments turn from active, engaging experiences to treasured memories of days gone by, I would be remiss to forget the faithfulness of God in the past and future events of this year. For our family, 2019 will be remembered as a year of change, a year in which we gain both a son and a daughter, as love grows, and maturity evolves our sweet children into young adults ready to make their mark in the world.
Much love from us to you all –
Kim & Travis