The high school cap and gown had barely been hung back in the closet when we stood there - the three of us - in the massive lobby of the university campus building. He had worked hard for this. It was Freshman Orientation Day.
I was so proud of him and excited about us spending the day together. It was very unusual - just the three of us - without his two older brothers or 5 younger siblings. It would be an exciting day.
We had arrived early, checked in, picked up our information packets, and were in our little knot in the corner of the lobby of the auditorium - waiting. Scores of other threesome knots were scattered throughout the lobby with us. I watched with interest.
Some were apprehensive. Some were laughing loudly and seemed totally at ease. Others seemed to be not quite ready to leave high school for large campus life.
He began to pick through his bag, pulling out a schedule for the day's activities. We would have a well-planned schedule of speakers throughout the day from a variety of campus instructors, administrators, and seasoned students in an effort to educate the parents, as well as the incoming students, on what to expect during this first year.
And, there would be some free time after lunch to explore any of the large number of extracurricular activities that the students might be interested in looking into. He opened the page that displayed the campus map, leaned over to my husband, and pointed out a building he wanted to visit.
Their eyes met with an understanding that I realized I didn't quite have. Then they both met my eyes. I knew I was missing something.
"Isaac wants to visit the ROTC building. He's interested in joining the program."
I was suddenly hot, my eyes were beginning to brim, and I felt the awkward position of being in a room full of strangers, yet feeling like I might just fall apart.
"Trust in The LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
He had loved military history since he was old enough to read independently. He even studied World War II during one of his high school years as a specific focus for his history studies. I had done the legwork of finding and ordering all of the books on his reading list that we worked together to compile. I knew he loved it.
But, as he entered the last two years of high school, he found his niche, and decided he wanted to be an engineer.
It was fitting. He had the makings of a great engineer. And, somewhere along the way, this mama heart breathed a sigh of quiet relief: Maybe he had somehow lost his fascination with the military.
In that one dizzying moment, it all came back to me. I should have known.
There wasn't anything particular that I had against the military; it was just that I wasn't so keen on the idea of one of my babies putting his life on the line in a possible future conflict.
I took a deep breath, blotted my eyes, and mustered up my best mom smile. He towered above me, but his eyes were those of that little boy who questioned: "Are you mad at me, Mommy?"
I prayed for the right heart attitude throughout the day, and at the end of the weekend, when we were back home, I stepped into his room to talk. I told him I knew how he was made, and if he felt The Lord leading him to serve in the military, I would support him 100%.
The air was clear.
In the weeks and months that followed, as I prayed over our son, God stilled my heart with the confidence that even though this mama heart doesn't know the plan, He does, and I can rest in peace trusting Him.
"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:6
He's finished his first year of college now, and this past April, we drove to campus for a special ceremony. We watched him raise his hand and take the oath of commitment to serve in the United States Army after graduation, in exchange for a full scholarship for the remainder of his college education.
As I consider that day last spring, I'm reminded of just how tender God's mercies are. He faithfully answered my cries for strength, for the right heart attitude, and for the ability to respond well. I know, without a doubt, it was not in me - it was Him in me.
And three years from now, when we watch him become commissioned and accept his first assignment, this mama's heart will still be carried by The One who knows all, and has it all under control.
Karen is a blessed wife and grateful mom to seven sons and one daughter. When she's not homeschooling her 5 youngest children, she enjoys trying new bread recipes, working on DIY projects, sipping a hot mug of tea, or seeking to find the beauty in everyday life. She loves gardening and is passionate about growing from heirloom seeds. She blogs at www.toworkwithmyhands.com