Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Gift of Presence

We have just had three wonderful weeks with family. Our UK family arrived first, followed by our daughter from the west coast.  While it was a bit crowded in our three-bedroom home, our sons were good sports and gave up their rooms for their sisters and family.

We saw our grandson in person last November when we were in the UK for a conference I attended.  After that visit, when he saw us weekly via FaceTime  he recognized us. And accordingly, as soon as he saw us from the passageway out of immigration at the airport he was all smiles and responsive. It didn't feel like we were "distance grandparents" with his quick interaction.

This little man has a very pleasant disposition, and as the only one under 20 in our household the past three weeks, he was the star of every show and the center of our attention.


There was "Grandpa Time," and


And "Grandma Time."


The two sisters are best friends and miss being together. They put up with mom photo-bombing one of their selfies on the first evening that the west coast girl arrived.


We spent one week at the Carolina Coast in a rented cottage. The little man seemed to be the center of attention every where we went. His hat was a big hit.  His uncles had school so didn't make it down with us. (I left part-way through the time to be with my brother who needed some family presence while undergoing surgery. The sun came out after I was gone...)


We introduced our son-in-law to Dutch Blitz... 

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And then it was time to start saying goodbye.


We sent this one off to return to the west coast on a 7 a.m. flight.




With a few more days to enjoy this one, we watched him get closer and closer to taking his first steps on his own.  He was quite content to walk with help--and preferred pushing the stroller to sitting in it at a grocery store outing.

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Before he came, the little man's uncles hadn't been very interested in him.  Since there haven't been little people in their life, it's probably understandable.  But we wondered how this visit would go.



This uncle was amazing. He even allowed the little man to play with his game controller. At one point we heard "Ah, you killed me!" Yet rather than being frustrated or angry, he was sweet with the little guy and continued to let him hang out next to him.


This uncle took a little longer to connect, but eventually he found his own way to communicate with the little man, which blessed us all.



Finally the day came where we had to say goodbye and send them back across the Atlantic. I haven't counted the number of airport farewells we've made with our kids, but it is never easy. 

This time we don't have a date in mind for when we'll next see the UK family.  That makes it even harder.  The little man will be bigger and his parents will be living in a different location  with a job change coming up this fall. 

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I am so thankful that we were able to be together. It truly was a gift.  I am reminded daily of the cost of following Jesus anywhere He sends people as I listen to missionaries coming through our offices, whether it is for routine debriefing or because they have special needs in their families that have required them to return for a while. 



And while I had dreamed at one point that we would get the professional family portrait, I am grateful that we could actually get everyone in a photo! 

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