Coming Home: Finding Joy When You’re Waiting for Your Children

I am waiting for my daughter to come home.

It is the waiting that has counted days. It is the waiting that comes with letting go of children. This year, God has taught me how to find joy in the waiting.


Finding Joy in waiting

Last January, my girl, a winsome, huge-hearted girl boarded a plane. Only 20, she left for Australia to serve as a missionary with YWAM. When she left, a year felt like forever to this mamma’s heart.

In the early of that January morning, God put these words in my heart:

Be still and be in this moment. Know that I am your God–your helper and strength. I am your source and your blessing.

Open your hands–to let go as well as to receive. 

I began this year opening my hands to hold onto God rather than cling to what I cannot keep. In a way, this is hoarding the past and this was a time for something new.

Discovering joy in waiting.

One spring day I am at the sink washing dishes and missing my girl. She’s been gone for months, but still so many left to go. Letting go of our children is a brave act.

Lord, how do I do this when I miss her so much?

Coming Home--Finding joy in waiting for your kids to come home. Letting go of our children is an exercise of faith.

Focus on what you are gaining rather than on  what you are missing. Insight, clear and strong, and I know I am hearing God speak in my thoughts, right in the middle of the ache and the missing.

Let your missing turn to praise for what I am doing in her life.

There at the altar of an ordinary sink, hands wet and warm-soapy, I lay down the heaviness. My heart fills with joy as I remember the wonder of God at work.

Brave and bold, she walks in the slums of Manilla and the dusty roads of desolate Outback communities. She is learning to know God for herself. God is teaching her to pray with faith that heals broken hearts and has restored hearing to deaf ears. She has learned to give of herself in the mundane and the miraculous.

As I remember conversations where she tells stories of what God is doing, the ache fills with joy. Looking  at the glass in my hand, empty and ready to be washed, I see my heart, choosing the holy in the longing, ready to be filled.

Holding the glass under the faucet, I sense joy rise, making room in my heart for the wonder of a loving God molding and shaping my child  into a woman after His heart.

Shifting my perspective has opened my heart to receive joy.

Moving the glass under the faucet’s flow, I discover that choosing to praise places me under the flow of living water. It is real joy, not a look-on-the-bright-side forced joy. It is not trying to be joyful— you know when you should feel joy, try to feel joy…you go through the motions, but it doesn’t quite come?

Joy cannot be manufactured. 


Joy is received.

Sunlight streams into the kitchen as the sun emerges from behind a passing cloud. This joy is deep, requiring an inhale of my soul to take it all in. All the emotion and the longing is still there, an emptiness being filled with wonder of the love of God. A holy exchange is taking place.

One I didn’t earn by doing it right.

Finding joy in waiting.

Like the glass in my hand, I simply opened my heart and invited Jesus into what I was feeling. Open before him, I am filled with joy like water, washing away the ache of missing.

Let your missing turn your heart to praise. For in your missing I am working. 

Then I know.

God is teaching me how to wait.

This is one of the keys to the waiting and the missing.

In the months that pass, many times the missing rises up swift and strong. And the choosing comes fast–turning to praise.

Releasing to thank.

Opening for joy.

She’s coming home for Christmas. Three weeks. It’s getting real as I put fresh sheets on a bed that’s going to be slept in soon. I smooth away every wrinkle. As I dust the dresser, covered with a year’s layer of dust, I am wiping away time, the passing of days, weeks, and months.

Tears start to fall, leaking out of my heart, warm and waiting and tender.

Tears I have set aside not because I am strong, but because I am grateful.

Just now, my phone chimes with a text. She is checked in and waiting to board.


Now my heart is full with the joy of anticipation.

She’s coming home and I’m finding joy in the waiting.

Are you waiting for something or someone in your life? What has God taught you in the waiting?

.Linking with these fabulous communities of bloggers: #TellHisStory, #ThreeWordWednesday


  1. What encouraging, life-filled words today, Ginger. My heart is filled just reading this. My son comes home from college in Texas on December 15th! God has done a wonderful thing since He left. He’s shown me several high school and college-aged kids who need a second mom. They’ve brought me so much joy. Last night I learned that my “new” Turkish daughter will not only come for Christmas weekend (no break for that here), but also for 2 weeks on her January semester break. JOY. Blessings on your happy reunion.

    • Thank you, Betsy! What a joy it was to pick her up today. I was the mom that needed Kleenex at the airport. I’m so glad you’re son is coming home and you have extras to love on as well! Have a merry Christmas!

  2. My tears well up reading this. God certainly does teach us so much in our waiting seasons. Enjoy your time with your girl!

    • Hello Friend! I have to admit I was pretty weepy when writing this last night. Somehow it helps to put my heart on the page. This was I only cried a bit when she came, rather than rivers!

  3. Your words warm my heart, Ginger. 🙂 Enjoy!

    • I will! Such a special time. A year is such a long time when your girl is only 20. We had a glass of champagne tonight to celebrate her missed 21st birthday and welcome home. I’m not going to lie–it’s gonna be so hard to put her back on a plane for another year!

  4. Awwww I know ya’ll are having a great time together! Enjoy your girl. Maybe you could talk her into doing a blog post about her year in Australia!

    • Ginger Harrington

      I’m loving having her home. I’d love to get her to blog, but right now she’s absolutely exhausted. Have a merry Christmas!

  5. I loved reading this! I’m 39.5(although it feels like 54.7) weeks pregnant, and the anticipation of meeting my first child is like nothing I’ve ever felt. Real talk – I’m tired of being pregnant and all the stuff that comes with it! I just want to hold this bundle in my arms and not my tummy, get to know who they are(we don’t even know the gender!), watch my husband transform into a dad, all of those things. One of my favorite and awe-striking things to think about is this tiny human who has taken over my body and my heart in the context of Psalm 139. The wonder that I, ME, have been entrusted to house and love one of God’s uniquely knit together image bearers, with their own giftings, personality, and story is joy-inducing. Your words help remind me of that and shift my focus. As I wake up and think what I’ve been thinking for weeks now – is today the day? – I rest in that whatever God has chosen for this little one is perfect, and that He strengthens me when I’m most weary. So much love to you – ENJOY your sweet daughter!

    • Congratulations! I remember when you commented that you were getting married. What a blessing to see God bring new life into the world. My youngest child was born two days after Christmas, and I remember that same wondering. Many blessings to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.