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We parked under the wide expanse of desert sky

and piled out, with only one goal in mind.

We’re here!

I sent the text, and walked toward her dorm

To find the object of my love…

the I-have-to-be-honest-here reason I volunteered to drive in the first place.

Although chauffeuring teens is a typical part of my life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She had messaged friends the week before,

begging them to come.

My mom’s willing to drive!

First one said Yes, then two,

and by Sunday there were three,

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registering and packing and asking questions

about what to wear, what to bring, where to stay, when we’ll be leaving.

I talked to moms

while making my own plans

and scribbling lists,

taking care of last minute tasks…

then filled the gas tank

and prayed for safety.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Within seconds there she was, heading our way.

The three girls—her girls—stood behind me,

waiting their turn

to hug the friend they hadn’t seen in over two months,

while she and I clung to each other…

After a solid minute we parted and I stepped aside.

Her girls dropped everything

and four pairs of arms entwined bodies

in the long-awaited greeting.

Before that, I willingly endured (yes, Grace—willingly)

four and-a-half hours of silliness in the car,

with a mound of luggage and bedding stuffed in the back,

and a sliver of an opening to see through the rear window.

Time passed with snacks and photo-chats and alphabet name games

as Central California scenery slipped by,

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at seventy-five miles an hour. (Sometimes more.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

An evening of theater,

and shouting for their team in the student life center…

captivated by the praise of nearly a hundred voices,

during morning chapel services

and sitting in on college classes…

The visiting teens squeezed into bunk beds in the girls’ dorm,

enjoying a taste of college life,

waking early and staying up late,

for half of one day, most of another,

and a full day and two nights in between…

for getting a glimpse of what God can do

when a heart yields solely to Him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A life immersed in ministry can be demanding, heart-rending.

But there are the times when God throws in a surprise.

A just because I love you gift,

as an unexpected demonstration of His favor.

Leaving daily pressures behind,

I savored the gift of hours—

walking side by side between classes,

meeting college friends,

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lunching, shopping,

catching up on the latest events,

whispering shared secrets,

content in just being together.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lingering good-byes came way too soon,

approaching time when I would drive away.

But new memories are now tucked and treasured

in the hearts of daughter and mom.

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