Once in a while, I find myself getting up in the wee hours of the morning while it's still dark, hoping to find some solitude, and time alone with my Lord.
It's in those times, sitting in the darkness with my blanket and coffee, that I let my mind go to those dark places, those places that I refuse to let my mind go to throughout my day, for fear of falling apart.
Almost always, without fail, my mind goes to my oldest girl.
I wonder where she is now, and if she's healthy, and if she's safe.
I wonder if she has people in her life who care for her, and who take her as she is, without any dark motive or deceptive way.
I wonder if she ever thinks of us, her family who she left in her heart, long before she left our home.
I can see her face very clearly in my mind, and there's not a detail that I've forgotten, at least not one that I know of.
It's been 14 months since I last saw her in person, since I last hugged her and kissed her soft tan face. That was the last time I looked into her beautiful brown eyes, and told her to her face how very much I love her.
I haven't been able to say those words to her since this past Februrary when she chose to shut us out for good, demanding that we not contact her anymore. Since that time, I've had no contact information for her, don't even know her address or her phone.
How does a mama deal with such loss?
Its been almost 3 years since she walked out that first time, and the hurt and the heartache are still fresh. And I remember her coming back home a few months later, scarred from the world's devastating affects, yet even more determined that the world could give her something that her father and I never could. Determined that her way was better and wiser than God's.
I've been in that place. I know what it's like to know in my heart that what I'm doing is wrong, yet determined in my mind that I'll be much happier doing things my way. If only I'd known then where that type of thinking and living would lead.
I was that girl who hugged her mama and daddy good bye, assuring them that taking their only granddaughter and moving away to live with a worldly man was really what's best for me at that time.
I saw the hurt in my daddy's eyes as he hugged me tight and told me that he'll always love me and will always be there, no matter what. And I listened as he promised to pray for me each and every day, and I know for a fact that he did.
If only I'd known then, where that life changing decision would lead.
And though I've made those choices and have reaped the bitter consequences, time and time again, I had no idea how painful it could be being the parent of the child who's walking away.
There are times when I feel as though my girl has died, because the grief over losing her runs deep and is almost paralizing at times.
Those two years after she walked out were filled with one trauma after another, each one leaving a deep deep scar.
There are so many landmarks that are permanently scarred for me now; places where, when I drive by, I remember an awful incident with my girl that occurred there.
And there are songs that come on the radio that take me back to that place and time, reminding me that God was there with me, all the way.
How does one make it through such awful experiences without God?
I can't even fathom where I'd be now had God not been there, had He not picked me up and carried me through.
Where would I be now, had he not picked me up on those darkest days, when depression rocked my soul, leaving me feeling helpless and without a hope in this world?
Thankfully, because of the amazing grace of our loving God, I don't have to know where I'd be without him.
And thankfully, because of what he's done for me, time and time again, I don't have to feel as though things with my girl are hopeless, because I know the One who is my Hope.
And so, I once again give her to Jesus. I lay my fears and my worries at his feet, and I trust him, that he knows what's best and that he'll care for her to the very end.