There are times when farming brings a family closer together. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters toil day in and day out, side-by-side to ensure that their family farming legacy passes from one generation to the next. This is not that time.
Tomorrow I will watch as agriculture takes my daughter away from our farm--away from her family. It has been a day 22 years in the making.
Wearing her white gown, she will walk down the church aisle toward the altar to marry a young man who followed his agriculture passion that took him two states away. Now he is taking our eldest daughter.
It is difficult to know that her father and I brought this on ourselves. We shared with her our love of rural life, taught her to follow her dreams and encouraged her take advantage of every opportunity life gives her.
Through the years, she developed a passion for agriculture, which led her to the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources where she found a young man. He had a dream and she soon shared in it. And when he proposed marriage, she said yes knowing she would be moving nearly 500 miles away. It was an opportunity to see agriculture from a different point of view--one they both are excited to take.
I am torn. Listening to them talk; it is evident how eager they are to embark on this new adventure. And soon I am drawn into the idea by their enthusiasm. Then there is today, when I think of how family is at the heart of every farming operation. And now a part of my heart--her father's heart--her sister's heart--will be gone.
So, my dearest Elisa, here are our family vows to you as you embark on this great journey of marriage and life.
-We vow to visit often. It will be so often that you might think we need our own tiny home on your acres. Your beloved may want to consider building this given the number and duration of our planned visits.
-We vow to talk--audibly. It will not be just a text here or a Facebook message there. No, it will be real conversations over the cell phone. There is just something about hearing your voice that I know we will miss.
-We vow to figure out Facetime. Over the years, we have watched your expressions of surprise at birthdays and laughter at awful dad jokes. We will want to see that. And we will want to keep you informed of the new lambs in the barn, but we apologize in advance for our shaky video--we are novices.
-We vow not nag for you both to move home. Too often parents with good intentions express a need for their children to come home--repetitively. Our desire is not to cause your heart grief or guilt. You will be where God intends you to be, when He intends you to be there. We will learn to rest in that promise.
-We vow not to cry every time you leave. This one will take a while. Still, we do not want the last picture you see of us being one full of tears. However, some tears we cry are those of joy knowing you have found happiness. But be patient, it may take a month or so to truly fulfill this promise.
-We vow to pray always. Just as we prayed when you came home with us from the hospital in Minnesota, to your first day in a new school in Missouri, to your four years in college and your first job, we will continue praying for God's grace, protection and blessing on your new married life. You will forever remain one of our greatest joys.
Unfortunately, there are times when agriculture takes our children on great adventures that are far away from our home. It is not easy. Fortunately, I am reminded of the words of a Sidewalk Prophets song that goes like this--"This is not goodbye, it's just I love you, to take with you, until your home again."
So until your home again Yusif and Elisa Jaouni, we love you.