Jake turned 17 in June and I didn't post anything about him! For his birthday we made our now traditional birthday poster and used it to announce his gift. Tickets to a Christian music festival in our area called, "Sonshine Festival" which he wanted to attend but couldn't afford.
(Confession: I forgot to photograph him on his birthday so I made him pose for these a week later. Not that you would know this otherwise but I like to share my failure as a mother by pointing out when I forget to take any birthday pictures of my child.)
We sent him and a friend off to this weekend festival with a tent, camp gear and food all packed and purchased by Jake. He drove himself an hour out of town, set up his tent and cooked his meals for 3 days and 2 nights. While the parents of one of his friends were there he was basically on his own. He made a few mistakes (like forgetting the ticket at home) but we decided not to rescue him (we couldn't have if we had wanted to since we weren't home) and instead let him problem solve or suffer the consequences. (The festival looked up his tickets online and let him in.)
This week Jake is in Panama on a mission trip with our youth group who partnered with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). They will be doing mainly children's VBS type programing but will definitely get a little adventure mixed in when they are canoed into a remote village for some ministry time and will spend one night there.
This is Jake's second over seas mission trip and 4th mission trip in general. He is a seasoned pro. The first trip our church youth did was 5 years ago when Jake was going into 7th grade. They partnered with YWAM that time as well to help with clean up in New Orleans after Katrina. Jake was the youngest on the trip which had more girls than boys. Fast forward to today, Jake is now going into 12th grade and among the older kids on a trip of mostly boys. This time instead of looking to everyone else for leadership they will be looking to him.
This is a hard stage for parenting. I know I am preparing him to leave the nest in a year or so and I am starting to worry. I see him every day. I know his immaturity. And sometimes I must admit I focus on that more than the maturity. Despite letting him go off with no worries to Sonshine I was worried this time about whether or not he would know what to do and do it.
In the past I would be home to micromanage the preparations. Make sure he packed what I thought he needed, the way I thought it should be packed. Bring what I wanted him to have and all the while fill him with advice and wisdom I feel he will need while away. But this time I didn't have those opportunities. I did manage to take him out and buy bug spray, sunscreen and a second pair of shorts for the trip as well as a new suitcase but otherwise I totally had to trust him to make it happen.
When we arrived to drop him off several parents and staff commented on the plan to look to Jake for leadership on this trip. I wanted to tell them why he was totally not mature enough and they might want to be sure and check on him regularly. But then I thought about it. He is ready for this responsibility. He is mature. He has traveled out of the country before and although this is a different country with a different culture he has the experience to take it in and do what is needed.
So I decided to stop worrying and trust. Trust my son, trust that he has learned the lessons we have taught him over the years and trust God, that He will be with him every step of the way.
I am looking forward to the return of my mature son and of hearing how God used him and revealed Himself during this week as He prepares Jake for his future.