Last week we took our two oldest and got them settled in for another year at their respective colleges. For T, this is the start of her fourth year and for D, this is the start of his second. It's such a busy whirlwind in the days before they head off. The packing. The organizing. The shopping. The list checking. The laundry. The list goes on and on. And then, in a flash, things are quiet.
When T left her first year, it was quite an emotional roller coaster. I wrote a little about that experience here. Especially during that first week, just walking by her room would bring me to tears. When I was able to bring myself to go in and clean, a peace came over me as the Holy Spirit nudged my conscious.
I pray for my kids every day. I prayed for them before they were born. I prayed for them as they grew. I prayed for them each day for whatever came to mind. When T went to college, the Holy Spirit worked His way through my sadness and inspired me to pray for my children a different way. Not that it is such a unique idea or that others haven't done this before. However, it was just what I needed at the time and what I've done each year since that August in 2012 when we dropped our daughter off for her first year of college.
So, what did I do differently? "Enquiring minds want to know." Well, maybe they don't, but that was just what popped into my head remembering those silly National Enquirer advertisements. I'm digressing. Apologies. Where was I? Oh, yes. Sending my kiddos off to college and coming home without them and praying and cleaning.
So, what DID I do differently? I went into T's room to do a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. Stripped the bed, flipped the mattress, washed the curtains, dusted the baseboards - the whole shebang. The entire time I cleaned, I lifted T in prayer. Her friends - that she would find good ones and be a good one. Her roommate. Her teachers. Her studies. Her choices. Her spiritual journey. Her future spouse - if that is the vocation God wants for her. Her health. Her safety. Her future job. Her time at home. You name it, I prayed it. I covered her in prayer. Whatever I could think of for that day, the next, all the way down the road. Whatever came to mind, I lifted in prayer. As I wiped the dirt away, I covered her with great love through my conversation with God.
These aren't new things that I brought to God. However, during my scrubbing four years ago something sacred occurred. As I cleaned that room I looked at what was there. This was the room that she had lived in and decorated. She cried there, she laughed there, she chose what things to put on her walls and what to put on her shelves. The things left didn't make the cut for being brought to college. Yet, they would still speak to her when she would come home of her roots and where she began.
Because of this, I cleaned that room so that when she walked in from college it would be fresh and crisp and welcoming - it would be home. I filled that room with prayer for my daughter's past, her present, and her future. I filled those four corners with prayer so that when she walked in she would feel safe and warm and loved.
Last year and this year I had two rooms to clean. (My experience with D heading off is here.) Two of my children slipping from childhood into adulthood. Two. Two. Two.
So, what exactly DID I do differently? I don't pray any differently, per se. They aren't new things. It is more of a concentration of prayer. During that time I reflect on where they have been, celebrate who they are now, and envision who they may be in the future. The cleaning itself becomes a prayer, an extension of the words and thoughts forming in my heart. I cover them in prayer and God hears me.
I pray and wipe and pray and dust and pray and scrub and pray and launder. For a momma feeling the sadness and loss of her children being away, it brings peace to my soul.
"Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7