Tuesday, February 05, 2008


"I want to go back," he said. So we made the right phone calls and bought a last-minute ticket to southern California (via Las Vegas).

His reasons were good. "I need to know I can do this. I need to finish." And he said he wanted God to break him. So though he'd left the Bible college campus a month shy of finishing his first semester, vowing to never go back, back he was going.

I helped him pack, cooked his favorite dinner, kissed him goodbye, and cried while Dave held me and we watched his friends drive him up our hill. The foursome planned to stay up all night in honor of Zac's departure, and then those same friends would take him to the airport Sunday morning after their usual Denny's breakfast.

Mark and Cathy Rich, my precious southern California friends, would meet him at the Orange County airport, feed him, shelter him for the night, and take him to Murrieta in time for registration. "Once he gets on that plane," I told Cathy, "I won't worry about a thing."

But that's when all the worrying begins.

The first leg is turbulent and full of sudden dives and screaming people. "I feel so sick," he tells me during his phone call from Las Vegas. I remember another flight, a long time ago, when he was little enough to pull in close during those turbulent dips and dives. "It will be okay," I'd told him then. He'd snuggled close, hiding his face in my side, trusting my promise.

This time, he'd made the flight alone.

"Not only that," the 18-year old Zac continues, "but my connecting flight is delayed." He doesn't know any of the new details, so I tell him to talk to someone at the counter and call Mark with the new pick-up information.

We say goodbye, but not long after, he calls again. "I'm so bored, Mom."

"Do you have any movies on your laptop, any games?"

No movies. And he reminds me that his laptop's chess game cheats, which makes him mad.

"Go grab a sports magazine at the gift shop," I suggest.

It had once been so easy, back when my bag of tricks contained crayons and coloring books, puzzles and picture books, finger puppets and Skittles.

"You'll be getting on that plane before you know it, honey," I say. "Maybe you can find a spot near the gate and take a nap."

From nowhere, Shawn Mullins begins to sing, heard only by me.

Everything's gonna be all right

I want to believe it.

But things get worse. After two hours on the tarmack, Zac's flight to Santa Ana is grounded due to engine trouble. They can't get him on another flight until the following evening. He can't find his luggage. They have no plans to put him in a hotel. And I'm a thousand miles away, and my arms aren't long enough to shake the unhelpful woman behind the counter and force her to care for my son.

Everything's gonna be all right

Dave takes over. We stay up for hours, making fruitless phone calls, waiting on hold, enduring three suspicious disconnects from "customer service." In the end, we cancel the second leg of his flight, find a bus that leaves Las Vegas around midnight, and instruct him on what to say when he approaches one of the waiting taxis outside the terminal.

"You'll be okay," I tell him.

But it's not over. The bus is full, and he has to wait until the very last second to learn that they found a spot for him. An hour into the drive, the bus breaks down. They have to wait on the side of the road for another two hours before a replacement bus arrives and loads up all the passengers and cargo. He winds up sitting next to a woman who keeps leaning on him. He temporarily loses his cell phone between the seats. He doesn't sleep for a second ... for the second night in a row.

When he tells me he's going to have to transfer buses at the LA greyhound terminal, my stomach lurches. We were there together once, when he was eight, and I was terrified of taking my eyes off of him. I didn't want him in that filthy place then, and I don't want him there now.

I'm powerless. I don't control the wind, or time, or circumstances. So I turn to the One who does. I like to think that around the same time that Zac looked up at the middle-of-the-night sky and whispered, "Well, God, You've got my attention," I was looking at my ceiling and whispering, "I can't protect him, Lord. I'm giving him back to You."

And when I do fall asleep, briefly, it's to a lullaby.

Everything's gonna be all right

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12 Comment:

At 2/05/2008 10:57 AM, Blogger Angie had this to say ...

I'm touched. Oh that hurt my mommy heart, but so thankful our mighty God can take care of our children better than we can.

At 2/05/2008 2:38 PM, Blogger Linda had this to say ...

Now that my sons are grown men it is easy to look back and say all will be well. These are difficult years, but I think he is right where the Lord wants him right now. And,yes, He will take good care of him. I know He will.

At 2/05/2008 5:46 PM, Blogger Laurie had this to say ...

Shannon, I was in tears. Isn't our LORD so good to whisper some small thing to let us know He's there and is going to take care of everything. I miss Zac, reading this.

At 2/05/2008 5:55 PM, Blogger Laurie had this to say ...

And by the way, what a beautiful picture of you!!! And Zac is as cute as ever! Oooops, I should say handsome.

At 2/05/2008 9:28 PM, Blogger Kim had this to say ...

Oh my word! What an incredible journey. As I read I couldn't help thinking how much the Lord must really want Zac to be there for there to be that much opposition.

What a lovely song for the Lord to bring to your thoughts. It's cool seeing the Lord reveal His plan for Zac's life.

Beautiful picture of you. :)

At 2/05/2008 9:54 PM, Blogger *~Tey~* had this to say ...

wow. I can see that all of that would cause alot of stress. I guess what else can you do in those times except give it to God.

At 2/06/2008 6:01 AM, Blogger Sharon had this to say ...

What a horrific experience!And you look lovely Shannon.:-)

At 2/06/2008 10:40 AM, Blogger Curlyqfun had this to say ...

That is a GREAT picture of the two of you! I cannot believe how mature Zac is. He has grown so much since I came to Calvary over 6years ago. Keep me posted on how this leg of Bible College goes.

At 2/06/2008 9:14 PM, Anonymous Magalie had this to say ...

A pastor once told me, "The battle is always toughest just before the call to serve".

That is a beautiful photo. :)

At 2/08/2008 7:05 PM, Blogger Sylvia had this to say ...

Motherhood is not for wimps, is it? How do people do it without the Lord? I'll be praying for Zac.

At 2/09/2008 4:32 PM, Blogger Susan Kelly Skitt had this to say ...

Sweet surrender - God's peace. We will be there soon with our sixteen-year-old who wants to travel across the country for college...

At 2/26/2008 2:01 PM, Blogger amyanne had this to say ...


This was a really great post...in this "if I don't do it, who will" mind-set we all operate on sometimes, it's easy to forget that it really is God who is doing the work. It boils down to we either believe that He is in control, or we don't. Our actions come out of that belief or the lack of...good reminder. :)

On a side note...I'm live in Seattle too. My friend Jane Kagochi (she has a church in Kenya, Solid Faith Church) told me about your church. My family and I go to Mars Hill in Ballard.

Nice to meet you. :)



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