Here’s how it all started: (a journal entry on my phone as we drove to the airport to pick up Emily and Anna from finishing their freshman year at college)
“We are driving down I-83 south moving toward the Baltimore airport where we will welcome Emily and Anna home with all enthusiasm!!! We have been anticipating their return for a couple months now, their return and springtime! Both have arrived this week.
We are rediscovering Springtime as we drive south with its vivid greens, white blossoms, bright tulips and most of all, fresh, invigorating air. Right at this moment Springtime’s afternoon sunlight, distinctly so, is dancing with fresh vibrancy across trees and flowers and our skin as it falls from the west, kissing the world with a tingling warmth and igniting our spirits with the joy of new life. Here they come! Spring AND Emily and Anna. It reminds me of all the new births and good beginnings that have been part of the spring-times of my life and fills my heart with joy.
And then I see a huge banner strung above the road we drive, just above a gathering of tulips, it’s an announcement for ‘Mother’s Day Tea’. And suddenly my heart sinks completely. Here it is, the juxtaposition of my life at the moment, full of all good things to come, the beginning of a new era…and the end of another.
My heart sinks at the Mother’s Day sign because we get Emily and Anna, our springtime twins, home for one month. One long, beautiful, and terribly short, month. I’ve never wanted to postpone Mother’s Day so badly. On Mother’s Day, they will speak at church for their missionary farewells. They will then, 10 days later, leave for a year and a half to serve The Lord, to teach His word among people I know only by a city’s name right now. I admit I do not want to say goodbye.
We will write once a week via email and some handwritten letters too. My Emily and Anna, whom I have nurtured and loved with all devotion along with my other cherished children (who will miss them very, very much), two treasures who have taught me more than I ever could have imagined even as I worked so hard to teach them. Two little girls who have lived and loved with gusto and great enthusiasm ever since their arrival on the planet. They’ve been a light in our home, just as was promised in Emily’s baby blessing, a blessing from the beginning.
We will miss hearing their voices bubbling over one another’s, like a springtime brook, as they tell their stories of the day. More still we will miss their laughter, a charming, endearing, and constant part of the two of them, accenting all they do like the sunrays I see streaming through branches and buildings right now. (Their laughter is so much a part of their duo that most nights with them in our home have been like a sleepover party!) I will very much miss their singing, if they aren’t talking or laughing they are singing, together most often, and from the time they were 6 months old and could coordinate their ‘ahh-ahh-ahh-ahhs’.
We will get to Skype and talk on Christmas and Mother’s Day next year. They will be home in a year and a half, in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which will be ideal. Most of all, I know why they are going and I am glad, soo glad, to see them serve in this awesome way. But for a moment the reality of missing them sets in and tears begin to flow before we even pick them up! I will do all I can to absorb the priceless gift of this next month AND work to be prepared in every way for the good things that are to come.”
MUCH has happened since that journal entry, let’s see, here’s just a few of those ‘precious moments’ we enjoyed with Emily and Anna for our last month with them here at home with us:
– a 2-day trip to Chincoteague as a welcome home to Emily and Anna! It was heaven for us! We biked & boat-toured beautiful Assateague Island together!
– Cast & crew party at our home to celebrate the fantastic work & performances of “Just So!”
-Prom AND The Ray of Lights award ceremony (Mikela wore this gorgeous dress there also). This class pres had lots of fun preparing and planning Prom with her classmates and attending with a great guy-friend. 🙂
– The annual and AWESOME “Mormon Helping Hands Project”.
– Some awesome school concerts!
– Some awesome church activities!
– A fun WildKratts night together!
– And of course the half-marathon that Dad and Emily and Anna ran together!
– Celebration of Esther’s, Emily’s, and Anna’s birthdays!! A day at Knoebel’s, a wonderful dinner together, and the birthday gift of time – we gave them one more short getaway together to their favorite respite spot with our family these past few years – Cape May!!
– A fun, unexpected dinner with our missionaries here and the mission pres and his wonderful wife! (A spontaneous one!) President Johnson’s advice to the girls meant so very much to them, Sister Johnson’s example could not be more excellent, and they even ended up sharing this surprise dinner with a dear and younger friend who has looked up to them and shared so much with them through these past few years.
– A great trip for Emily and Anna to visit Grandpa and Grandma C. Neat that they had a little time with both sets of grandparents before leaving on their missions.
– And then, MOTHER’s DAY!!!! The children gave me the most incredible gift!- Emily and Anna had headed up the project. Each one of our children had chosen a particular scripture that describes something I have taught them, they had written it, then embroidered their own handwriting, onto a square of the quilt then they pieced them together around the large hand-embroidered inscription “We Do Not Doubt Our Mother Knows It”. We were skyping with Isaac, Elder Hoffman (a WONDERFUL gift in itself!), when the children, all 10 of them together, presented it to me. Just seeing the theme of the quilt made me start crying, for Anna had spoken so beautifully in her talk that morning about this scripture and it’s powerful and personal meaning, both to me and other mothers. Starting with the first square that our oldest, Isaac, on his mission (his sister’s embroidered his for him) had chosen I read: “And now my son, look to God and live!” Immediately I was taken back to NH with my beautiful, young, bright boy exuberantly shouting with victorious fists “Look to God and Live!” It was what I wished to teach my children, for I could not always be there for them, I could not always be enough for them, I would make mistakes, could not always make everything better but if I could teach them ‘the source to which they may look’ for their own healing, help, and prosperous life then I would have done the most important thing I needed to do as a mother. I received the neatest letter of my life a few months ago, from Isaac as he served in Argentina, he had his own experience, his own truth burning in his soul, “and now my son, Look to God and Live!” I knew he had grown up, his life was his own, and he will do wonderfully. As I read EACH scripture placed with so much love on the quilt, the personal relationship, the fuller meaning, and special significance of every one of them carried over from each individual child to me – I knew WHY each child had chosen their scripture and each one meant the world to me. Tears just flowed.
There were some other precious and significant happenings before Emily and Anna left but here was one that was tops:
We then PACKED THEM UP and had a little goodbye party:
Their last full day at home I snuck them away to Palmyra, New York to visit the temple and historic sights there together, a wonderful, joyful, peaceful, precious day. Then it was an awesome experience to be here (in our home) as they were set apart as full-time missionaries (a rare and treasured opportunity to be set apart by their Dad who is serving as Stake President right now), tender and very tearful goodbyes to their sisters, then early a.m. good-bye to Mom and Dad at the Baltimore Airport.
And they were off! Tender mercies started flowing in even as we mourned a bit at Emily and Anna flying out. First a vivacious beautiful woman with a son and twin daughters of her own (one that just returned from a mission) spontaneously sent a text of Emily and Anna at their layover! That was AWESOME! Special thanks to this special angel and her family! A text from a far-away friend thinking of me and my daughters that day made my day. Talking to Emily and Anna ONE MORE TIME as they stood excited and anxious just across the street before entering the Missionary Training Center. They got to be companions for the first day!! And saw each other quite often in the MTC which REALLY helped with the brand-new apart-from-my-best-friend-twin-sister-for-pretty-much-the-first-time-ever adjustment. All in all, Emily and Anna sound great!
The good news?
We are thrilled with them for them, and CONTINUALLY PRAYING. If you’d like to read any of their letters or see other pictures you can click on their blog on the sidebar.
The really incredible news?! It took me 2 months to get enough time to post this blog which means THEIR BROTHER RETURNS FROM HIS TWO YEAR MISSION IN A WEEK!!!!! Wow, is he ever feeling GREAT!!! He has LOOOOVED every minute of the amazing opportunity to be a full-time missionary for the Lord, Jesus Christ! Can’t WAIT to see him!!! So maybe my next entry will be a HELLO post?! 😉 Life is good.
Love, C & the Whole Family