She’s leaving tomorrow

It’s been a busy few weeks in our family. Our youngest daughter Jenna graduated from Auburn University, temporarily moved back home, began looking for a kindergarten teaching position, and is leaving for Guatemala tomorrow to work in an orphanage for 6 weeks.

It’s a lot for a kid to do.

And it’s a lot for a mom to process.


When our babies are little, we have dreams for them to grow up to be nice people, godly people, people who will share Jesus’ love with others.

It’s rewarding when we can see this unfolding in front of our eyes alongside us.


But then when it’s time to put them on a plane for the unknown by themselves to do that, it’s a bit harder.

I don’t want to let her go.

We released our older daughter into the world a few years back. She’s done well with an established job and home and husband. But now it’s time to stand back for the baby to fly, too.

Do we have a choice anyway?

She’s been doing her own thing for awhile now. It’s one reason I’m proud of her. She’s been to El Salvador twice with me and once to Guatemala with her college church.

Guatemala collage

Now she’s going with no one but God to Guatemala.

So I don’t want to hold her back—I don’t want to hold God back either (as if I could!).

But still.

When I kiss her good-bye tomorrow, I’ll be counting on God to not let us down. I’ll trust that he’s boarding with her. That he’ll stay with her the whole time she’s gone. And that when she comes back, he’ll be there to help with that transition, too.

I won’t make him promise me that she won’t have hard times. I’m not naïve. But in the trials, I’ll be praying he’ll help grow her faith.

And mine.

As God would have it, I’ve been memorizing James 1 this season. It sure seems applicable right now.

2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
3  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
4  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1

If you’d like to, please pray for Jenna’s journey tomorrow, too, for the orphans she’ll love on, for the God she’ll get love from.

I’m sending her with a copy of Jesus Calling so she can read it there, and her sister Morgan and I can read it here in Alabama to keep us connected in the Spirit while she’s gone. If you read it daily also, let me know and I’ll say a prayer for your journey as well.



¡Hasta luego, my sweet girl! Dios te bendiga.

* * *

Have you had to release your kids already too? Still to come? Please share in the comments.

50 thoughts on “She’s leaving tomorrow

  1. Linda@Creekside

    Lovely, lovely. I see her mama in her … in more ways than one.

    I remember sending our 16 year old away to a missions trip that took her across Siberia for 6 weeks on a train. Those were the days with no email, no communication, no nothing but faith.

    I had no choice but to trust God with my girl. I’ll never forget those weeks. Ever.

    It was a life-giving experience for us both … so I’m praying for you both even as I tap away here.

    Hugs, friend. For you, for her.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      This greatly encourages me, Linda. I’m blessed that we will have ways of communicating because I can’t imagine doing what you did without it. Leaps of faith for all of us! Thanks for your prayers; much appreciated!

  2. Barbara H.

    Oh wow. It’s one thing to send them with a group headed by a number of older adults – it’s another to send them off alone. But not alone – with God. He makes all the difference, but it is still not easy, especially for moms. Praying for you both. And congratulations to Jenna on her graduation!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for your prayers, Barbara. Yes, she’s going with God; that is a huge relief to me. I can’t imagine otherwise, and I’m glad I don’t have to!

  3. Bill (cycelguy)

    We had to release ours a number of years ago (yes, I am quite a bit older than you). LOL 11 years ago we released our youngest to be married. I’m excited they both love Jesus. I feel Mission accomplished. You should too. She is following God’s lead.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Mission accomplished. Yes, I have moments where I do feel that. 🙂 And hopefully more to come. Thanks for your encouraging words, Bill. If our kids follow Jesus, that’s definitely a goal achieved.

  4. Lisha Epperson

    Im so happy we’re neighbors today at #SmallWonder. My heart is with you Lisa. Well send our 12 year old to Lake Placid this summer for a week of figure skating training and I’ve been praying about the letting go all year. I know my experience is only the beginning this mama thing. It connects us as we pray and believe for so much for our children. Blessings and safe travel for your princess as she makes her way in the world. And peace for you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ll be praying for you too, Lisha. I’m glad when God can start us off letting go in small ways before we have to do the bigger ones. A week at 12-yrs-old will be a great step for both you and her. Not easy though, but good! ha. So nice to have your blessings, friend.

  5. ~ linda

    Yes, Lisa, I will be praying for Jenna today, tomorrow and for these six weeks. Those orphans will be truly blessed. I can see Christ in your daughter’s face. She shines with His Light. I also hold her up for the right kindergarten job (or whatever God has for her). She looks like a K teacher and that is part of the early grade teaching personna. The kids need to love and trust that person who loves and cares about them.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly Kim. It is a bittersweet thing. They’re doing what we trained them to do, yet it’s still not easy. Thankful for the grace of our Father that goes with them and stays with us as well!

  6. Lynn Severance

    Praying for Jenna and for you in this “letting go” time.
    How nice to know you changed your stance on “Jesus Calling”. I love it but remember your initially writing how you disliked anyone writing using God’s name in the first person – as is done in this devotional.

    As I read it now, I will be glad to join with you and Morgan on behalf of what you are praying for Jenna!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you so much for praying too, Lynn. That means a lot. Even though the first-person perspective in Jesus Calling is still a little odd to me, I’m glad it hasn’t prevented me from getting so much out of the book. I even bought the Kindle version this year, despite having a hardcopy, which is something I never do. ha. But to read it every day, it was easier just to have it on my Kindle. Hope you are doing well, friend!

      1. Lynn Severance

        I have gone through 3 copies as the binding on the small orange covered version is not that strong! However, I have never bought a copy for myself as someone has pretty consistently given me a copy. I like writing my own notes of what Jesus is “telling me” after I have spent time with Him reading in the book.

        I often write – almost always write – in my daily journal as if writing to God so when I hear a message back, I am sure to note it for they are treasured nuggets. I’d not be one to write as Sarah to the whole world but that her insights reach the hearts and spirits of many does say something about how Jesus can work through we weak human beings!

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          What a beautiful practice of writing what Jesus is telling YOU after you’re read in the book, Lynn. I’ve only done that just a few times in my life but it’s always been powerful. Perhaps your mention of it here is a gentle nudge to give it a go again…

          Jenna wanted a hardcopy book to carry with her so that she could write in it. I know it’ll be a treasure to her to have not only in the present but also later when she wants to look back on how God used this time in her life. I don’t get that with my Kindle version (although I could take notes on my Kindle, but somehow it never seems the same as handwritten scribbles in the margins).

          1. Lynn Severance

            Lisa – the “note” taking option on KIndle is one feature that can drive me crazy as I am such an avid scribbler in the margins of books that speak deeply to me ( and date when they have been thus ).

            The first copy I received of “Jesus Calling” was from my cousin and it is formatted as a 365 day devotional where Sarah Young’s text is at the top of the page ( it is a larger volume dimensionally of the book ) so that one can write their responses. I have recently returned to that volume and it has been wonderful in many ways to see what I wrote and what I was experiencing 3 years ago and then adding on my “now” in 2015. Yes, Jenna will have a deep treasure keeper as she “journals” in her copy of the book during this time away. And I was thinking of you and Jenna as I read in my copy this morning!! 🙂

          2. LisaNotes Post author

            I have not seen that version of Jesus Calling but it sounds like a perfect format for journaling. You sound like my sister Sandy with your marginalia. 🙂 I love borrowing her books to read because she has them underlined, highlighted, marked up and over with her own notes. It’s fun to see somebody else’s personal reactions with a book.

  7. bluecottonmemory

    Praying that God’s angels encamp about and protect her, that during these 6 weeks God’s vision for both of your lives is revealed and that things of God take root to grow deep. I pray that when it rains in either country, the Holy Spirit rain down, too – going deep, building those roots strong! What a beautiful mother’s heart you have, Lisa!

  8. Debbie

    Will be happy to pray for Jenna and the orphans. I read Jesus Calling every morning. It’s hard to let them
    go, but you raised her well and she’ll do a wonderful job of loving others.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Debbie. Your prayers are much appreciated for Jenna and the orphans! I was reading in Jesus Calling this morning about “wearing” Christ. Thank you for putting him on through your words of prayer.

  9. Sharon

    Your daughter is beautiful, inside and out. And I so admire her loving and giving heart. But, I’m also a mom, and I so understand your feelings at letting her go. We fret about our children, don’t we? And it’s hard to watch them go off into their own lives. We worry about their safety, their faith, their feelings. And yet, I am always comforted by remembering this – God will write His story in their lives, and He loves them far more than I ever could.

    May He comfort you with peace, and bless your daughter in this grand adventure!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You do comfort me with this, Sharon:
      “God will write His story in their lives, and He loves them far more than I ever could.” That reminder is always important for me to hear! Thank you much. God has our kids.

  10. Laura

    Lisa, I loved looking at these photos of your daughter doing God’s work. Thank you for sharing. I will definitely be praying for Jenna. I hope you will keep us updated on her adventures. I have a dear friend in Guatemala right now. She is doing some volunteer work, I think near Guatemala city. If you’d like, I can give you her contact info. It might be nice for your daughter to correspond with her (and even meet up if they are close) while she is there.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate your prayers more than you know, Laura. They count. I appreciate your offer of the contact info, too, and I’ll definitely keep that in mind if Jenna needs it. She’s struggled with flights the last two days to even get there; hopefully she’ll arrive in Guatemala City tonight at last!

  11. Cheryl Smith

    Oh, Lisa! I can’t even imagine how difficult and heart-wrenching this is. I know you are so proud of her and the woman of God she has become, but the mama heart in you must feel so sad. God bless you and comfort you and hold you close, and may He just walk every step with Jenna and bring her safely home to you at the appointed time. 🙂 I am sure you will post and let us know when she is back home safe. The verse God is leading me to share with you is Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Praying for both you and Jenna.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Such a beautiful verse to give me, Cheryl. Thank you very much. I like to imagine God’s big arms carrying Jenna across the sky right now as she is in route at last to Houston after a 24-hour delay. Then on to Guatemala tonight, Lord willing. I definitely am proud of her, but yes, sad at the same time to see her go. God will have to take care of both of us while she’s gone. 🙂

  12. Jean Wise

    lots of prayers for her and for you, dear mama. It is so hard to let go of our babies. I have said many times I think it is harder to have adult kids than the younger ones. I know emotionally it is just as difficult. She seems like a lovely young lady – your heart is full and blessed!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I say that same thing, Jean! For me at least it was easier when they were little. Even though it was physically draining (and emotionally draining too), it was smaller things that were the cause. Now there are bigger “life” things out there when they’re adults, and decisions that can change everything in a heartbeat. But thankfully God is still the main Parent and I can (if I will!) hand it over to him.

  13. Jody Collins

    Oh, this is the hardest……ever, Lisa. I can only imagine how it’s gonna feel with this big (little) girl gone with God in Guatemala.
    What a brilliant idea to send her with ‘Jesus Calling’ to know He will be speaking the same words to all of you each day…

    Happy sad exciting adventure day to you… you’re in my prayers.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Just got word that my big (little) girl landed in Houston (I love that description), so that makes me feel a little better. Now to get her from there to Guatemala. It’s been a much longer journey than it was supposed to be, but God knows what he’s doing, right? Thanks for your prayers, Jody!

  14. Kelly Chripczuk

    I was just thinking the other day about the courage it took for my parents to let me go to war-torn El Salvador in high school and later Brazil (in college) – I was wondering what current places of conflict will be the mission fields of my children and grandchildren. Will it be safe enough then for them to travel to places like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan?? But I guess from a Mom’s perspective, it will never be safe enough! Blessings for the journey, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What part of El Salvador, Kelly? Our work centered around the Santa Ana region. I fell in love with the people there. I’m so thankful for Facebook so we can still stay in contact fairly easily. Your parents were brave to let you go back then especially (although now it’s extremely violent too, depending on where you go).

      This statement convicts me: “But I guess from a Mom’s perspective, it will never be safe enough!” One thing I’m working hard to release to God is my desire for “safety” for my family. Granted, God does care about our safety and we’re not to be intentionally careless, yet safety is never the goal and too often I make it one….

  15. Tiffany

    Oh, Lisa…my heartstrings. It’s beautiful and wonderful and terrifying when I think on letting my son go. But it’s so encouraging to see that training them up brings great dividends and that she is following after God…who goes behind and before her. Ive recently started reading Jesus Calling the teen edition with my son and I love it…it meets ME every single time. Praying for your sweet girl and your mamas heart!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It is definitely a hard thing letting them go, but yes, it is also a rewarding feeling when they do things that we wouldn’t even be brave enough to do for God. So thankful that we can trust the Father with our kids more than we can trust ourselves! Isn’t it amazing how the Lord uses the words in Jesus Calling for each of us, right where we are? How special that you and your son are enjoying it together. Important times. Thanks for your prayers, Tiffany!

  16. Cindy

    God bless your sweet girl as she flies!!! As you said, she’s been flying for a long time now and doing a great job!! I know how difficult these days of letting go are for us mamas and you are in my prayers!!! I agree with a previous comment that she is so much like you!!! I love you dear sister!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, sweet Cindy. You always encourage me. I appreciate your prayers for us. I’ll keep praying for you too as you have to tear yourself away from those precious grandbabies. I can only imagine how difficult that is. But thankful that you got such good time with them. And you’ll be back with them soon, I’m sure! 🙂

  17. Betsy de Cruz

    Visiting from #TellHisStory, Lisa. Congratulations on your sweet Jenna’s graduation! I can imagine you feel scared to let her go. Yes, we move into new seasons of trust. In August I’ll be sending my oldest off to college. Hard to believe. I’m choosing trust! (You’ve been to El Salvador twice? My husband’s from there, my kids were born there. I miss my Salvadoran home!)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Betsy. And I pray that this summer will be time well-spent with your son before he heads off to college. That is definitely a difficult thing to do. I remember how hard it was with my oldest. Yet it was also fun times too getting to go visit her and watch her blossom in ways I hadn’t seen before. I’m sure you’ll experience all that for yourself as the year unfolds.

      How awesome that your husband is from El Salvador! For the small amount of time I got to spend there, it sure did steal my heart. Do you get to go back often? I’d love to go back sometimes and visit a few of the families that I grew close to.

      1. Betsy de Cruz

        I lived there 5 years, and we try to go back every other year, but sometime we don’t make it that often. It gets really expensive since we also travel to the US from Turkey to see family. Love it there. Warm, generous people. Hope you can go back sometime!

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          So you travel all around the globe! Yes, I’m sure that does get quite expensive. I’m not sure when I’ll get back to El Salvador but I would love to see my friends again. I agree that the people there are definitely warm and generous. They amazed me.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I am glad they are willing to follow God wherever he leads. I just like when he leads them closer to home. ha. But trusting his wisdom far above my own!

  18. Amber @ Beautiful Rubbish

    Her beauty leaps out from these pictures, Lisa. And the tension of your Mama heart, loving and letting go. It’s profound to me, how a mother’s growth can be so bound up in releasing and watching her children grow. You expressed this so well. Peace to your heart, friend, and grace for this journey – for both of you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you, Amber. She’s sent me a few pictures this week of her with the kids, and her beauty leaps out to me from there too. Of course I am prejudiced with a mother’s heart. 🙂 But the prayers this week have really made a difference for me. I’ve had far more peace than I would have (not that I have been anxiety-free, don’t get me wrong! ha). God has been so good.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      When your children are little, it’s so hard to even imagine them packing their own suitcases, not to mention flying from city to city and country to country. It’s a good thing God prepares us slowly with baby steps. 🙂 Enjoy these days, Carrie. They are precious ones, too, and lay the groundwork for bigger decisions to come.

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