Hello, Goodbye, and a Lot In Between

Emmy and Sarah, saying hello
Almost a year ago our family welcomed a sweet young French girl into our home as an exchange student. Sarah jumped right into our daily life: regular routines, highschool days, team sports, holidays, church going, birthdays, family trips, special events, and so on. And in the meantime, she learned the southern English languge (words like y'all and fixin'), within a southern American culture (swing dancing and Sonic blasts), within a southern Christian family ("Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells you so"…). In no time at all, Sarah became one of us. She stole our hearts.

    And then yesterday, she boarded a plane and left. Ouch. This is the third exchange student we have had in our home, and the heartache of saying goodbye doesn't get any easier. There is a deep deep sadness of knowing that "this is it...done." Yes, there will be visits, but the day-in-and-day-out living together has come to an unwelcomed halt. Yesterday she was here; today she is not.
Emmy, Sarah, and Maggie: sisters
     This got me to thinking about different kinds of  goodbyes and how they are a part of all of us, like it or not. In the last several months alone, I have been a close observer/companion to several different kinds of heart wrenching goodbyes: a commited mother saying goodbye to a rebellious son who chose to walk out of their home, a godly daddy saying goodbye to his beautiful princess on her wedding day, a loving wife saying a final goodbye to her endearing soulmate of 28 years. Because I know these people, I also know that the depth of their heartache matches the height of their love that was poured out in the years proir. And I must trust, for their sake, and for mine, that God sees and understands the deep pain of loving someone well. And then, at this place, the Comforter enters in. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you." John 14:27
Sarah means: "Princess"

      As Emmy and I were driving away from the airport, together, but without our Sarah, we were silent except for our sniffling tears; we just let them flow.Then, when we could speak, we both agreed without hesitation, the pain of goodbye is most certainly worth the journey of hello and everything that follows. Yes, for the third time now, our family has been richly blessed by another unique and beautiful life in our home.
Emmy and Sarah, saying goodbye
      So reader, I encourage you, just as I encouraged Emmy during the car ride home, "Say a welcoming hello, love well, embrace with both arms, don't put up any walls, jump in with both feet... it's all worth... the pain of goodbye."

Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over--will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measure back to you. Luke 6:38

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