Thursday, August 23, 2012

Landmarks on My Heart

This is my 50th post since I started blogging in November 2011. It is timely. My first son left for the University in US last Sunday. This blog is therefore dedicated to him.

Many thanks to all of you who have been here since I started the blog. I appreciate the time you spend here and the words of encouragement you share with me. God bless you richly.

The journey to the university started in 2004, when at the end of his primary school, I began to ponder on the plans for our son's future education. I invested in The Good Schools Guide - the Parents' Guide to the top schools in UK. Armed with the information from the book, still on my bookshelf, I tried to convince my son to consider going to school in UK.

I lost that battle. His mind was made up even at that time, he was heading for US and basketball was going to play a huge part in his selection of university.

The process—selection, application, essay writing, examinations, and decision-making— was intense. It is beyond the scope of this post to describe. We prayed and asked God to guide and direct us to the place where He had prepared ahead of time for our son, the place where he would thrive, remain rooted in the Lord, and fulfil his God-given purpose.

How do you find that one place among tens of thousands of schools in a country?
We prayed some more.

His desired course of study and basketball were strong determinants. A summer camp in 2011 and he knew beyond doubt what he wanted to do. We made a list of about 20 universities to apply to. He visited five of them. He applied to 11 universities and got accepted by three of them including one of those he visited.

It was roller-coasting with emotions, his joy when he got his first letter of acceptance and his painful disappointment when he was rejected by his first choice of university. His second choice offered him admission in a smaller campus—my husband and I had peace in our heart about this place. We knew we have found that one place God has prepared for him. He struggled to accept where he knew God was leading him when it became obvious that the remaining two offers he had did not fit into his vision and dream for his life.

We prayed some more. We wanted him to be happy and excited about the decision he made and not to feel compelled to go there. As he shared the news with friends, he began to lighten up when he got positive feedback—the small campus would be a great starting point for him after all. It would also provide him with the opportunity to play basketball.

A few days to go, he started packing and the reality set in. He was really packing, he was excited about going to school and I had to be happy for him. So why the nostalgia? I guess every mom goes through this. My friends called it, the bittersweet feeling. I wished he was not going so far away.

I planned the week before his departure to give us the opportunity to spend time together. It was two days before his departure and nothing I had planned for the week turned out as planned. He came into my room that afternoon and sat on my bed.

"Do you read my blog?"

After a period of silence, he replied, "Sometimes"

We had this conversation before. I got the sense that what I write here does not address the concerns of a college-bound teenager or the truth might be that, he simply did not have the patience for the "long" articles.

"Find time to stop-by once in a while, there might be some messages for you."

"Yes, Mom."

"You know I had so much planned for us to do together this week?"

"It's all right, Mom." He shifted his frame sprawled over my bed and continued to play his game on my Ipad.

I had a choice: to cry over the plans that have not gone right or grab this moment and make them special. I chose the latter.

"How do you get excited and worked up about something that is not real?" I asked.

That began the discussion about  the choices he had to make to keep him winning in the car racing game. He told me about the mistakes he made at the beginning buying cars he did not need and how he learnt to be strategic about his choices so he could save money for what he needed.

Needless to say, I did not miss the opportunity to drop in a word or two about how this could play out in real life. We did not go for the outings I planned for the week but the memories of the time we shared together that afternoon will remain special in my heart for a long time to come.

There are times we are visited by the vicissitudes of life and all our best laid out plans are thrown in total disarray. We can make a choice to make memories with the moments we have or miss that opportunity as well, which will be a double tragedy.

With God's help, we have done our best to train him up in the way he should go and I am persuaded that he would not depart from the path of truth. I know God has gone ahead of him already to make the crooked path straight before him and to raise up help for him every step of the way. My heart is at peace trusting in the Lord.

To my dear son, if you are reading this, I was moved when I read the introduction to your autobiography- My Flight to Success, which you wrote for your university application essay. As you begin the first leg of your flight, remember to stay focussed on your goals and pursue your dream without relenting. Much love, Mom.

Landmarks etched on my heart
Like billboards along my path
Reminding me of the moments we shared
Making memories together.

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