the pictures that i can't share with you

i was snapping away this morning with my own kids, i'm sure just like everyone else.  

it's the first day of school.  

in many ways, i have been more than ready for this day for quite awhile!

let me clarify - i have 3 incredibly sweet, thoughtful, loving and smart children.  

one day i know for sure that they will all be the best of friends, and charlie and i swear that our "bookends" will live with each other far into their adult years.  

but this school day was ready to be here…

the time was here to set them off once more into the world to learn and to grow in every way that they are designed to. 

and my pictures this morning , like yours, were just one way that we as parents memorialize in our hearts the day that we see how much they have grown, and recognize the butterflies that don't just flutter in our babies' hearts as they set off, but also in our own.  

my pictures, on my stoop, in the front of my house this year, will be kept to my family.  

i received a text last night from a trusted relative, informing me of 2 violent sexual predators, just released from prison, who now reside just houses away from me.  

ugh.

the description of what happens in a parent's stomach with that news is not even able to be put into words.  

ironically yesterday, before hearing this news, my buddy and i were having a heart to heart.  

at almost 13, he is at an age that i need to start becoming more and more real with him about my fears, my joys, my struggles….and i was sharing with him how as much as i want to walk ahead of him…how i want to protect him in so many ways….how i want to give into my fears that i have as his parent, that i, AS his parent, need to walk a fine line.  and the line that i walk needs to be brought before God every day.  

as his mom, i need to know when i need to step in to protect him…when i need to say no…when i need to make a change…and when i need to trust and cling to the prayers that i pray every day over him (and his sisters)….

the fact of the matter is, that i'm certain that these are not the first sexual predators that have lived next door to me.  evil lives all around us, everyday.  it's just the times when you receive a text just as i did yesterday, that the reality of that evil comes glaring at you dead and center.  

so today, as i keep my images to myself, and to our family, what i will share with you is the hope and the safety that i cling to.   

my freckle faced, bickering bookends (i don't mean to leave out my level headed middle child who refuses to engage in such nonsense), had their mom at her wits end a few times this summer, but even so, this morning, i wanted to wrap my arms around each of them and i longed to keep them safe and untouched forever…but i couldn't.  i had to let them go.  

and i did...

i sent them off with tons of kisses, pictures on my camera, a few tears in my eyes, and a prayer on my lips...

"God protect my sweet one.  Hold him in your hands.  Protect him from accident or illness, from anyone that would want to hurt him, and any way that he could hurt himself.   Protect him physically, spiritually, financially and emotionally.  Place a calling on his heart that he would always know that is from you.  Give him a talent that he would always know that you have given him, and that many people would come to know you through the talents that you have given to Him.  Hold him in your hands and in your arms for I know the love you have for him is far greater than even the love I am able to have for him.  Keep him safe dear Jesus..."

amen.