Left home today for the last time. The remaining two boys at home hugged me and it became real. Jon was heading out to the gym, we had a long hug good bye and I realized how many hugs I had passed up. Alva stopped to give me a hug as I was leaving, it was delightful. It may be the last one for a very long time so I will savor it in my memory, like slowly eating your favorite treat as to get the most pleasure out of it.
Sun was going down as we drove away from the house we raised our kids in. It seemed fitting that as I leave Los Angles, for the last time I will call it home, the sun was setting. Like the ending of a fine western movie when the hero rides off into the sunset. When I arrive in Hong Kong the sun will just be rising on a new day and a new chapter in life. It was harder to leave than I thought it would be. I thought, by now, I would have grown accustom to the idea that I was closing one chapter and opening another. It was not so, it slammed down on me like a mis-aimed hammer hitting your thumb.
I am sure the new chapter will grow and unfold slowly. However, as the years encroach on my life, I hope the chapter is more like the lilies of the field than the oak trees of the forest.
The oldest was 2 and 1/2 when we moved in to that home, the youngest not even born yet. We moved in for just a year and stayed for a lifetime. Several of the kids will stay and still call it home for a season. Maybe, Lord willing, our son and daughter in-law will raise their kids there, maybe not. I will get to come back a couple more times this year, but it will be radically different. The kids will be running the house, I will just be a guest sleeping on the couch.
Two children moved in with Jeanine and I, one more was born there. Later two more would join us all would refer to me as “papa” or “pops”, Jeanine as mom. We would do our best to lead them into the Love of the Lord, but now as the chapters change I recognize how far short I fell. I wanted to give them all the love and acceptance kids deserve, I wanted for them to be carefree children until they had to take on the cares of the world, I wanted them to understand the love of Jesus and just how important it is. I think in retrospect I provided well but failed at the others. Words could never express how much I love each one of them, or how proud I am of each of them. However, I should have tried to use more words with them to express it.
For the 23 years we lived there it was a place of the Lord, we tried to welcome all and show God’s love. I guess when I make that final trip, I will find out if we were successful at it. Hopefully, the chapter was for His glory and it was His home.
Sometime in the not too distant future Jeanine and I will return one last time. We will move what is left of 23 years of collecting and a rapid three weeks of purging, to a new location. Current target is Dallas, but only the Lord knows. For a season it will be a good place to park our “stuff”. Even from now it is no longer "home", it is just the place where our stuff is stored till we can move it.
For now I sit at the airport waiting for the plane that will take me to Hong Kong, from there I will watch the sun rise and reflect on how long the trip is. It will be the longest trip of my life, leaving behind the family and friends in California to follow God’s calling.
I am reminded of Rob Berg's song "Almost Heaven"
Look at my shoes, they’re muddy and worn out
I didn’t think they’d survive
Look at my clothes, they’re dirty and torn now
But I can change them when I arrive
Almost heaven, I can see His Glory
Almost heaven, Jesus is coming
Almost heaven, and end of my journey
Almost heaven, almost home
Last shot in LA:
Sometime later in Hong Kong: