My daughter, the third child and last born of our family, leaned her back against the measuring stick. Her head was several centimeters into the green area of the line. I couldn’t believe it. She could go on the rollercoaster ride. I could go on the rollercoaster ride!
We stepped into line, and my heart raced with excitement. This would be the first time I rode a rollercoaster ride complete with loopty-loops since my first child was born over twelve years ago.
The line went quickly, and several minutes later we stepped up to the closed gate as we watched the people in front of us board the rollercoaster seats. They strapped in, and I explained to my daughter about the seat belts and the overhead guard that would lock around us. Then I watched my sons standing with their dad in the line to the right of us. They would be sitting in front of us on the rollercoaster.
Here we were: a family of five about to experience something together that we have never done before. I used to watch other people get onto rides. With a baby at my hip and toddlers running around my feet, the days of independent movements seemed to be over.
But they weren’t.
I stood with three kids that my husband and I had fed, changed, clothed and cared for over the years. And they stood tall and independent like olive shoots.
“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table” (Psalm 128.3 NIV).
Olive shoots grow from the roots of the existing tree. These shoots will grow their own root systems, and after a time the shoots will need to be separated from the main tree and planted in their own section of land. The saplings then will be stripped of any leaves and fruit, so they can focus all their energy on strengthening their own secure root system.
Only when the saplings are strong on their own should we expect fruit from them.
The gate opened, and my family and I all got into our seats of the rollercoaster. Once we were all strapped in, I looked at my sweet olive shoots—not ready to be saplings, yet having root systems of their own.
I loved this new phase in our family. Every ride of life’s rollercoaster that I missed while raising my three kids seemed small in comparison to the amazing “olive shoots around my table.” Now here we were, riding one of life’s rollercoaster rides together—each of us strapped into our own seat for the adventure.
I thanked God for that moment. I knew He was speaking to me. He showed me that although my kids couldn’t fit on my hip anymore, they were each safe in His protective arms. And God was about to move my family into a new adventure in life—complete with loopty-loops!
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22.6 NIV).