This week marks a decade of living in the place I never imagined I’d land up. Standing at the airport back on April 27th, 2004, I had no idea what was in store. It felt a bit like Abraham’s journey – leaving my father’s home, my people, and going to a land that I did not know. Although I’m in the same country, it’s definitely a different place and a whole new culture. About 4,389 kms and a ferry ride away from home, to be specific. I’d had practice leaving home before, many times, in fact – but this was different. There was a finality to my leaving. Knowing this was a career move, not a temporary adventure.

What stands out the most to me in remembering that moment, with overstuffed suitcase in hand and airplane ticket on the counter, is what I tearfully asked my Mama as she hugged me goodbye.

“What if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life?”

And Mama, with strength that was more like wisdom dressed in heart-breaking bravado than anything else, just said, “well then, you’ll just come home.”

Now that I’m a mother myself, I understand far more how much those words cost her. I suspect that what she (and my dear Dad) would have rather said was “DON’T GO! Stay here! Marry a nice local boy, have dinner with us each Sunday, live down the street so that I can see my grandchildren daily, and never leave again.”

There was such a cost to my parents in letting go. Oh, the cost.

Turns out, it wasn’t the biggest mistake of my life. One year after arriving in this ‘foreign land’, I met the man who would be my best friend and husband. And although two years ago I was flat-out begging my beloved to move back to the Island of my birth, we didn’t. Which I’m grateful for, because at that very time our daughter was already in the world, growing in the womb and would be born very soon. Had I succeeded in my campaign to go back, I would have missed out on receiving one of the greatest miracles of my life. The cost was high and painful, and hasn’t ever gotten easier, but the return has been immeasurable. And, as often happens, it turns out that this miraculous gift of our Girl is not just for me, but for my parents as well. If we lived close by, it’s unlikely that they would have gotten 8 weeks of all day, every day time with our Sweet Girl this year. Living far away means that while visits can be intense, they are also precious and we make the most of them.

Although its still not easy, here is what I’ve learned – my parents gave me an enormous gift when they released me to leave, with no promise that I’d ever return. I can’t quite say yet that I’m willing to do the same unselfish thing for our Sweet Girl but in her I see what my parents also likely saw – this remarkable spirit that takes off running, independent, confident, befriending others, making her way in the world and then turning back to Mama and Daddy for a snuggle. And a trust in the One who created her to have good plans for her life, to use her gifts and stretch her.

Hopefully one day I’ll have the same courage to return the gift that was given to me by entrusting her into her Creator’s care for His purposes for her precious life. I’m not quite there. (But for the record, it would be okay if she’d like to marry local, live down the street from me and raise me some precious grandchildren that I could snuggle every day. Just sayin’.)

Now it is your turn – What about you? What was the greatest gift your family gave you?


*A Giveaway!
I believe strongly that family is important. As such, I’ve been given a set of passes for the one night only, May 7th screening of Irreplaceable. All you need to do is put up your hand by commenting below to enter to win! I’ll draw the winner this Friday at noon.