While many of us don’t enjoy change, I have learned that truly embracing change and seeing what new things God has in store in the midst of that change, opens us up to unexpected blessings and joys. A few weeks ago, I attended my son Seth’s graduation from college. It seemed like yesterday he was heading to Gannon University as a Freshman. He had just cut off his dreds, (he gave me one as a souvenir that I have in my dresser drawer!) With trepidation, he headed off, wondering if he had what it took to be successful in the rigorous academic program of Physician Assistant that he had chosen. Four years later graduating Summa Cum Laude in his class, through his hard work and sacrifice, he not only had what it took, he nailed it!! This Mama bawled the entire day, seriously, gratitude and pride so filled my heart, I truly give all glory to God!
Last Saturday I attended my youngest son Steve’s graduation from High School. This was an end of an era at Greenville High School. There has been a Jaussen, often up to 8 Jaussens, in the hallways there for the last 15 years! Todd and I have supported, volunteered, showed up, and cheered on the teachers throughout that time. You see, when you have homeschooled for 17 years, carrying the entire weight of your child’s education all of that time, you are very grateful for the support of great teachers who help you in the education of your children. Having been in the teacher role, we became the biggest fans of the teachers in the public schools, knowing first- hand how difficult their job is. Once again, the week before graduation found this Mama bawling several times, tears of joy, gratitude, and ready to embrace the changes ahead. The youngest of 11 has been a delight to raise. While his siblings constantly tell him how easy he has it compared to when they were being raised, I can honestly say that while we had a few bumps (every kid has some bumps, that’s a part of figuring out life!) his cheerful personality has lit up our household in ways that we know will be missed once he leaves. But as he gave his speech as Sr. Class President, I was reminded once again of the grace of God in his life, and how its God’s plan for his life, not mine. Honestly, as a parent, sometimes I feel that I’m just enjoying a ring side seat to watch what God is doing in the lives of my kids. I wish I could take credit for their accomplishments, but honestly, it’s them and the Lord.
Edith Shaeffer, my great mentor in all things Mothering and Family, dedicated a chapter of her book What is a Family? to what she refers to as the Changing Life Mobile. She said that if we envision our lives as parts of a mobile, we can see things ever changing. At times the parts stay still, and at times they are moving and shifting with the slightest breeze. That imagery has stayed with me over the 39 years of active mothering. When I can feel a change a comin, rather than reject and despise it, I truly see it as a slight shifting of the parts of the mobile. We are still connected with those strong strings holding us all together in this beautiful masterpiece called a family, but some things are shifting, giving a new perspective, a new beauty if you will.
I remember vividly the season that I had to face what was the first major change in our secure, protected, family unit. I was pregnant with my 11th child. We were living in Stuarts Draft, VA. We loaded 10 kids up in the ‘blue whale’ (how we affectionately referred to our 12 passenger van!) We went to Sherando Lake for a picnic to celebrate a big event. My oldest son Paul was heading off to Covenant College the following week. As we enjoyed the beautiful lake and laughed at the antics of the little ones and just spent that lovely evening together as we had done for the last 18 years, I knew the winds of change were coming. I froze that picture in my mind because something told me things would never be as idyllic as they were at that very moment. Us all together as a family. Mary ponderings I call it (“but Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” Luke 2:19)
I was right and I was wrong. Yes, that moment in time will never be recaptured, BUT many,many more beautiful moments have come to me. The “changing life mobile” did move after that day, but Oh dear friends, the changes brought new joys, new people, yes at times new heartaches, but also new mercies and new graces that I would never change for anything. I am reminded of Job. God took away precious things in Job’s life. The heartache was unbearable at times. But in time, God restored to Job joy, and relationships, and His mercy over and over. Yes, that mobile of life will change you and the ones you love, but rather than resist and yes at times whine!! lets seek to embrace, with God’s help, the new beauty the Lord may have for us. The new perspective, different yes, but beautiful in its own right, with new adventures, new loved ones, new joys and growth.
So my life mobile continues to shift. In 2 days, I welcome a new daughter in law to the Jaussen clan. My son Peter will marry the love of his life. I adored Allana from the moment I met her. A new daughter to love and cherish, to incorporate into our family, yes this ever changing, crazy and loud, but passionate and full of life family. We will dance the night away and celebrate under the stars at the goodness of our great God! How He showers mercies beyond what we deserve, through the hard times and the joyful times. He is our everlasting God and it is a privilege to serve Him. May our lives be a testimony to Him.