When we were there for orientation I kept thinking about how much my parents would love to see Jake at Wheaton. Jake is the oldest grandchild and no more came along for 4 years after him. And that one was in another state so really it was 8 years before Jake had any real competition on a day to day basis. As a result Jake was a shared child. Grandma and I were both in there telling him what to do and how to do it. But also both in there loving and encouraging him. Directing him down the road God was paving for him. Teaching him and preparing him for adulthood. So I was thrilled when my parents called and told me they wanted to go down to family weekend. We have all had a hand in shaping Jake into the young man he is today and we are all so proud of him.
We arrived on campus Friday morning with no idea how we would find Jake. His phone had been broken for a couple weeks and he doesn't really check email and doesn't always reply to facebook. We knew chapel was at 10:30 and I guess we were just going to stand outside the building and hope he tripped over us as he was walking in. But God was present for this trip as he has been for so much of this Wheaton experience and as we are signing in at the parent weekend table who should walk by but Jake. He had just finished one class and was preparing to kill a few minutes before chapel. I didn't know how much I had missed him until I almost started crying when I hugged him. I didn't want to let him go. We ended up going straight to the bookstore because we discovered that morning we hadn't brought a coat for Isabelle. It was nice, low 50's, but that still requires a coat since we would be walking outside quite a bit. They had sold out of her size a couple weeks before during homecoming and we were about to give up when my mom glances at a clearance rack they have outside the store. There for only $14.99 is a pink Wheaton sweatshirt in Isabelle's size. A gift from God. She wore it all weekend.
After a lovely chapel Jake went to his class and we did a little campus walk around. We decided to hit the Wade Center which is a little museum that highlights 6 christian authors. Mainly highlighted is CS Lewis.
This is the wardrobe from CS Lewis' childhood home.
Dad checking out some Movie artifacts.
Mom reading about the authors
Reading about CS lewis under the watchful eye of Aslan.
Of course we needed some family pictures at the Wheaton sign.
After lunch we bought Jake a few supplies and headed back to his dorm room.
John couldn't wait to see and play with Jake's ROTC gear
Grandma couldn't wait to try the pillow case she had made on his pillow.
Isabelle couldn't wait to climb up to his bed.
I couldn't wait to call Verizon and get a new phone sent out to him.
Isabelle also tried on his gear.
And we all had fun hanging out at Jake's house.
Before dinner we went to the Student Center for coffee and Jake checked his mail.
Isabelle adores her older brother and was beyond excited to see him and be part of his life for a couple days. I don't think I appreciated how much she really missed him until we were there. And he was wonderful with her the entire weekend.
Saturday we decided to take a trip into Chicago. It was a typical Hardacker family adventure. We made a very loose plan, did a couple random searches online and then showed up 30 minutes late for the train into Chicago. Had to wait around another hour for the next one but we had coffee and enjoyed time together. Once there we gave the map to Jake who had recently aced his Land Nav course and is now an expert map reader. He figured out where we were and which way we needed to go to see the two sites we had in mind.
First stop, Millennial park to see the bean. It was a fun display. A classic Chicago experience. Well not too classic since it is a newer attraction which Grandma and Grandpa had never heard of but still fun.
You don't need someone else to take your picture. You take your own picture in the big shiny mirror in front of you.
But Grandma took our real picture anyway.
Grandma and Grandpa
Then we went over to the Art Institute of Chicago.
I would love to return someday when I have an entire day to spend. We just had a little over an hour but were able to see some very famous paintings. Like this one. So cool.
We are only posed in front of this random piece of art because this is where we were all together with a camera.
While we all had a great time I think we might have pushed Grandma and Grandpa a little far that day power walking miles through Chicago. They took us out for pizza when we got back and then dragged themselves back to the hotel to pass out. We went back to Jake's room with Isabelle and the ACU's Sam and Lauren had given her several years ago when Sam entered the military. They still fit, actually finally fit, and we knew we had to get pictures of them together. Isabelle's are in a little better shape than Jake's and he hadn't actually washed them since his last drill crawling around in the rain so we didn't get too close but the pictures turned out great.
Sunday morning we went to church, had lunch and hit the road back home. I don't think I ever realized how special it is to worship with my children until we weren't worshiping with Jake anymore. I love going to church with him. It was a really special trip. We were so blessed to share it with my parents, to meet some of Jake's friends and see him doing well and enjoying college life. Jake is busy figuring out his life, his future and how everything fits together and we are privileged to be part of this wonderful young man's life.