Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Blinked

I did it.  I blinked.  People warned me not to.  Family constantly reminded me it would happen.  I believed them, I really did.  But, the reality of what happens during that blink still caught me by surprise.

In the blink of an eye, Eleanor grew up.

I can look back over her 17 years and see this:

the first 10 years were wonderful - homeschooling, reading together, playing in the backyard
the middle 4 were a little awkward - the tween years, fumbling and bumbling about, a little attitude
the last 3 have been amazing - seeing this hard working, funny, smart young woman come to life

Whoever said that raising teenage girls was hard/miserable/frustrating was dead wrong.  Raising THIS teenage girl has been the biggest blessing in my life!

And God has given me a sweet gift this summer - time with my precious daughter.

It has been a sweet gift because THIS is happening

College brochures are arriving in the mailbox each and every day.  Soon, my first born will be heading out.  We think she will be going to college, but she is still mulling over the idea of a gap year and going to see the world to serve.  

I have to back up a bit, because as I load these pictures, I realize the gift of precious time with my daughter actually began last September when we boarded a plane for Medellin, Colombia.  I saw Eleanor come to life while she put spoon fulls of food into the mouths of hungry children.  I saw a teenage girl who never once complained about the heat or no TV or  not eat lunch because there simply was not enough food to go around.  It was in that week that I knew how special this sweet child is becomming!

But, thankfully, God has given me even more opportunities to just simply BE with "my light", Eleanor.  

Like late night ice cream runs

Or National Honor Society inductions

Then, THIS happened

And I saw Eleanor work.  And I saw her amazing ability to make people smile and be at ease.  And I saw her be passionate about a cause that is much greater than her

I saw Eleanor not just sell products - instead I saw a young woman who believes in a mission to truly, holistically help people she may never meet.  I heard her tell people that she has a brother and a sister from Africa and how that has forever changed her.  I watched as strangers smiled at her and laugh as they shared a joke.

And a few times that week, it was just Eleanor and I enjoying a mutual passion - music.

Then, God blessed our girl with this!

Clearly there were others there who see the same things I do.

We drove home when the week was over and Eleanor told me that she wanted to do this type of work for the entire summer.  God blessed her again when Ornaments4Orphans offered her a summer internship!

Which led to this

Eleanor and I boarded another plane together - this one bound for Washington, where we again were found doing this

This time we worked with a much smaller crew (3 of us), but we were blessed with hours of laughter and long talks.

We also go to meet some musicians!

We literally rocked out together - to Switchfoot and NEEDTOBREATH!

As I look back on this summer, I am overwhelmed with the joy of spending TIME with Eleanor.  I have always called her "my light".  Her name means light -but she also brings such light into my life!  I am so confident that Eleanor will take off field...or whatever and do  it to the BEST of her ability!  I know she will bring light wherever she goes.  My heart breaks a little realizing that our time is quickly coming to a close, but at the same time I am so excited for what God has in store for her!  While she hasn't had the "typical teenage life", I can't wait for her to realize her dreams, fall in love (trust me, some man is going to be incredibly blessed by Eleanor - she loves football, she can fill out the box scores in a baseball game and she can get ready to go out in 10 minutes!) and continue to explore this amazing world.

I wanted this blog post to be full of heartfelt words of my deep love for Eleanor.  Instead, I am simply struck by the sheer beauty of Eleanor in all of these pictures.  She would say she doesn't take a good picture - but what I see is an infectious smile....a deep love for others...and an unbreakable bond between a mother and her daughter.

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