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Blink of an Eye

This is my last night here in the greater Tampa area and right now, I can't describe how I am feeling. Back in May, I felt this summer would drag on and it would take EONS to get back to Gainesville. Instead, it has flown by in the blink of an eye. I feel like I am leaving part of my heart here and going to find the other part of my heart in Gainesville. There's an overwhelming feeling of "a lot of lasts." My last time in my bed tonight. My last day at work. The last time I wouldn't have to dial 813 before a number on my phone. My last dinner with my mom....I think that's part of the reason I feel so sad. For the first time in my adult life, I have an actual relationship with my mom. Where she seeks my advice and I seek hers....where I respect her and she values me. Where I am not afraid to tell her what I'm feeling or simply say "I love you" for no reason.

This summer, God taught me how to love unconditionally, even when the object of that love has no desire a) for that love or b) to love you back in return. When I was 15-17, I burned so many bridges with my mom that she cared very little if the relationship was to continue in any way, shape or form. Callouses had formed on both our hearts and the wounds from years past had turned into deep, seemingly inpenetrable scars. While God has done a magnificent work in my heart these last 3 years, I had never had the opportunity for my mother to see that-for her to see the gospel at work in my relationship with her. I am often frustrated by my parents views of Christians and the church, and it is with a sorrowful cry that I realize that I also am the cause of their opinons. You see, to me, if my parents told me "No, you can't go to church tonight" I thought they were wrong. In my twisted and sinful mind, it made more sense to be at church than to honor and obey my parents. So my middle teenage years were spent lieing and fighting to do what I deemed to be "good" things. What a greater witness it would have been if I had done the greatest thing and simply obeyed. I can't explain why my theology of parent/child relationships was so off, other than it all comes in God's good and perfect timing. So my parents saw a hypocrite-an wonderful child at church but then a sinful rude girl at home.

God is sweet to have given me this summer what both my mother and I have always wished we had-a best friend relationship. But now, I am moving on. It's as if I'm having my senior summer all over again. Then, I was going to miss my friends. Today, I am missing my family. I hung out with my friends very little this summer, which is weird. Friends have always been so important to me, and if I'm not focused on the Lord, can at times become an idol for me. Instead, this summer was spent with my family-and shocker of all shockers, I ENJOYED that time!! My family is wonderful!

My little brother is my favorite person in the entire world. He is 18 years old, 6'2'', and seems to be too cool for words. But the other day I walked by his room and heard the soundtrack to Evita just blaring away. This 18 year old man is still the compassionate and tender little boy I grew up with.

My dad is a character. That's the only word to describe him. He longs for nothing more than to enjoy each day as it comes. Material things matter very little to him-he would rather spend $80 on a nice dinner than $80 on a bill if it means the family is going to be together, conversing and loving one another.

My step-dad is smart-smart isn't the right word. He is business savy beyond anything. When I was 7, we had no cable and shopped at Goodwill and drove a truck with no air conditioning because he was starting his own real estate office. Now, 13 years later, he is one of the number 1 brokers in the country. My parents own 2 boats, are building a lake, and own 8 or 9 homes. His one office has turned into 8 across the Hillsborough County. I say this not to brag, but to say that he is the most determined and driven man I know, and our family has clearly been blessed by these gifts of his.

My mom. I don't know. I guess I was like one of those horses growing up. I had these blinders up on my eyes and I couldn't see anything in my peripheral. I just saw straight ahead and straight ahead was me. I don't know if she has always been this way because I was blinded, but my mom is at heart a provider. The other day she brought home the Publix sale flyer and it had a bunch of "buy 1 get 1 free" deals. She told me to look through and see what I wanted because she'd go get it so I could take it back to Gainesville with me. Two days later, I look in the pantry and see 2 olive oils, 2 ketchups, 2 oatmeal boxes. It seems so simple, but it's so real. My brother needs to barely utter the words "Mom, we're out of Gatorade" and the next day, the house is stocked with enough Gatorade for an army. She meets people's physical and practical needs better than anyone I have ever met.

But I know that it is time to leave. I am 20. Gainesville is where I am called to be and in the same way that this has been a sanctifying summer, I know the sanctification is no where near completed (and praise God for that!). But the thing is, I'm 20! I graduate next August. This is my last summer as a kid at home. Everyone is getting married and moving and soon, the Brandon that I miss will no longer exist, it will simply be a distant memory. So I soaked it in this summer...I cherished simple conversations with Wade and Ricky. I reveled in Wednesday Night Breakpoint at Bell Shaols. I served Victor with every ounce of my being as often as I could. I ate dinner at home as often as possible. I took my time and breathed with each step I took so that I could remember each face, and each embrace, and each moment of grace.

Hand out the window,
Floatin’ on air.
Just a flip of the wrist,
And I am wavin’ you goodbye.
So long, so long. (Takin' my time, takin' this drive,)
So long, so long. (Wavin' this town goodbye.)
And I will leave under the cover,
Of summer’s kiss upon the sky.
I was certain that the season could be held between my arms,
But just as summer’s hold is fleeting.
I was here but now,
I’m gone. (So long, so long.)
I'm gone. (So long, so long.)

Hey Jenn, that's a very touching entry. It reminds me a lot of Denise's story... she could tell you a lot about coming to terms with honoring parents who don't follow Christ...it also took her a while to figure it out. Fortunately for you, it seems you're understanding this a lot sooner in life! Her mother and stepdad (who also is very driven and has built up a successful mortgage business!!) were here this past weekend, and it was a joy for me to be able to see how Denise honored her mother when it was very hard to do so, and how God used that to soften her mother's heart.
BTW, it was very amusing... they came up to celebrate Molly's birthday (3!!!) and it just so happened that our girls were baptized this past Sunday. They had some negative things to say about it - especially because we were "turning our backs on our baptist heritage." Which is funny coming from people who could care less about church and what baptism signifies. But Denise was very gracious and respectful -Yes, I am fully aware that I am only mentioning Denise as being gracious and respectful ;)- and it turned out to be a very enjoyable visit.
I pray that God will use you even more in your families lives.

Brian McLain

Thank you so much for the encouragement. I would love to talk to Denise sometime about her experience with her mom and step-dad...to hear wisdom from someone who has been there, done that, still doing it type of thing.

What an awesome heritage of grace your daughters will have, as they see their mom honoring her mother. I truly believe that God will bless Denise in her relationship with y'alls girls by giving her and them the spiritual relationship I'm sure she desires with her mom. She will be able to be that Titus 2 woman to them. What an awesome legacy to pass down! And what a gift it will be for them to see how blessed they are to have you and Denise as parents.

Seriously though, thanks for the encouragement. It's humbling that ANYONE is reading my blog, much less men and women who so served me in my youth. THANK YOU!

So you're a paedo-baptist now, eh? ;-)

PS I still love "The Doors"!!

You have only your denomination to blame for my being a paedobaptist. If there had been a Sovereign Grace church in Birmingham (or Alabama for that matter)I probably would have gone there.
Actually, I have been heading down the road (up the road??) toward presbyterianism for a while now, but if I had remained a credo-baptist I feel certain I would have left the SBC and joined a Sovereign Grace church.
Denise and I are trying to work it out to come to Gainesville sometime soon. I'm looking forward to worshipping at Abundant Grace. Although Bob Kauflin has come to my old church in KY many times and led worship, I have never actually been to a Sovereign Grace church.
I'll make sure to let you know when we're coming, that way we can plan on spending some time together... I'm sure we'll be staying with either Joe/Tara or Jay/Dee Dee.
Take care,

Excellent. I will admit that I have a very strained relationship with my mom. We battle each other more than enjoy each other. I constantly blame my behavior on her flaws yet am once agin reminded by your post that I am sinning against her everytime I respond any way other than respectfully. I can't expect her to desire Christ if I don't emulate Christ in my attitude and actions towards her. It's amazing how carefully I tally up her sins against me and excuse my own against her. I think sometimes we have burned so many bridges that our relationship can never be whole. The error in that thought rings true when I reflect on the Word...
Eph 3: 13-14
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which bind them all together in perfect unity."
Thanks for reminding me of what my calling is in this life, to glorify God in all I do.

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