It’s Time for the Big College Drop-Off: Traumatic or Terrific?

Since this is the season for back-to-school and for many of you, time for off-to-college, please enjoy this edited reprise from last year…

Big, searing, white-hot tears splashed on the newly opened piece of mail…

“Oh, no!”  My mind began swirling upon reading the following information:  “You may bring your college freshman between 10:00 a.m. and noon.  There will be people to help unload your child’s belongings into their dorm room.  Orientation will begin that afternoon.”


I walked out onto the deck where our firstborn was sitting.  Aghast at my appearance (!), John Jr. asked, “Mom!  What’s the matter?”

“We just got your move-in time for UK (The University of Kentucky)! It’s the 19th, so you won’t even be here for my birthday!!!”  More uncontrollable tears followed…

Trying to keep a straight face at the bizarre-o reasoning for my meltdown, John Jr. attempted to calm me down.  “Mom, this is silly.  I’ll be fine.  I’m almost nineteen years old.

“But…” I  whined further, “you’ll need us to help you get your books, set up your room, get your meal plan …”  rattling on, and on, and on.

The dreaded day came complete with foggy, rainy driving conditions.  Only seventy-five miles from Louisville, Lexington and the twin towers of UK’s South Campus soon came into view.


Husband John, myself,  and lots of volunteers helped John Jr. move in.  Off to grab lunch, the day progressed far too quickly.  “THE BIG GOODBYE” arrived.  We clung tightly, not wanting to let go…

All but skipping off (!), delighted to be on his own, John Jr.  was more than ready for college life.  His best friend, TC,  his roommate, moved in that afternoon and life was good.

John Sr.  wisely pulled up a few blocks away from the drop-off area.  My shoulders were already shaking, my  shirt damp with tears, all the while asking,  “We raised him all for this?”

“He’ll be fine…” my calmer-than-he-needs-to-be husband consoled.


Fast  forward into the next week.  The phone began ringing early. …

Already having cried that morning while carpooling our two younger sons to school,  I answered while sniffling, “Hello?”

“You okay?  Just checkin’ on ya…” My sweet friend, Kathy, from Ohio asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.  I’ve decided to re-arrange John Jr.’s room.  Figured a project would do me good.”  Hoping my voice sounded stable.

“I’ll check with you again tomorrow.  I’m prayin’ for ya!  Hang in there, you’ll be okay.  Just takes time.” Click.  She was gone.

The next three days were like the movie, Groundhog Day.  Each morning  Kathy would call.  I was sorta  still in John Jr.’s room “re-arranging”.


Finally, with a large dose of authority, Kathy said, “Okay, so here’s the deal.  I’m a little worried about you.  If you’re still in there tomorrow, I’m comin’ after ya!!!”

Alrighty then…Clearly my pitiful-poor experience of taking our firstborn to school was way more traumatic than terrific.  Sigh.

So, let’s talk about this for a few minutes.   I know several of you are readyin’ to take your child off to college.  No easy feat.

But… what I know now, that I didn’t embrace back then, is as Liz Curtis Higgs says, “God’s got this!”

Where you are in your faith will determine how you handle your child’s big college drop off….

The experience will either be traumatic or terrific.

Fearful or Fearless.

Lamentations 2:19 says, “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.  Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.”

Max Lucado, in his book, Fearless—Imagine Your Life Without Fear,  says, “Parents, we can do this.  We can be loyal advocates, stubborn intercessors.  We can take our parenting fears to Christ.”

Max Lucado Fearless

 I confess I did not have a steadfast faith when we took John Jr. to college.  (So sorry, bud!)  I did pray for him, but I didn’t make such an emphasis on his faith like I should have.

A favorite quote from Max is “Prayer is the saucer into which parental fears are poured to cool.”

 bigstock-Coffee-41268634 “We can’t protect our children from every threat in life, but we can take them to the Source of life.  We can entrust our kids to Christ.”

*SEVEN (7) Simple ways to SURVIVE your child’s college experience:

1 – Pray twofold:  One that your child will meet Christian friends perhaps thru’ a Christian organization.  (Our youngest two boys discovered Campus Outreach at UK and it was a huge blessing in their lives.

Secondly, pray for them and their interaction with their roommates, new friends, teachers, and entire college experience.  Enlist friends to pray with you and you can pray for their children.  Prayer warriors are invaluable.

Max Lucado reminds us in his book, Walking with the Savior,  “Praying for our children is a noble task.  If what we are doing, in this fast-paced society, is taking us away from prayer time for our children, we’re doing too much.”  Do NOT miss that warning!


Max Lucado Walking with the savior

There is nothing more special, more precious than time that a parent spends struggling and pondering with God on behalf of their child.”

2 – Quit stewing.  A bottom-line quote from Max’ book says, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it never gets you anywhere.”  Control freak that I am, I finally realized we cannot be with our children 24/7.

Grandpas Ole Rocker

When you feel like fretting, repeat the prophet Jeremiah’s words:  “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is they faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul,therefore I will hope in him.’” (Jeremiah 3:21-24 RSV)

3 – Rest in God’s Sovereignty.  He is in control and He loves your child more than you do.  Max reminds us, “As followers of God, you and I have a huge asset.  We know every thing is going to turn out all right.  Christ hasn’t budged from his throne and Romans 8:28 hasn’t evaporated from the Bible.”

“And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

4 – Do NOT cry in front of your child.  Seriously…it scares them. Worse, it embarrasses them.  (At least wait ‘til you get in the car!)  Plus, if they’re the least bit weepy, your tears will only make them unsure. You won’t want to leave them that way.

5Best advice we received during this whole “season” is to ALWAYS plan a future get-together.  That way you ALL have something to look forward to.  As my friend Jayne says, “Get something on the calendar.”



Mark down when Parents’ Weekend is, or a football game, or something!

6 – Savor Scripture.  My favorite passage, which I need emblazoned upon my brain (as I say about every Scripture) is Philippians 4:4-7, every verse of which oozes with comfort, encouragement, and promises:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it againRejoice!

 Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


7 – Sign up for a Bible study—it will be the KEY to your sanity!!!

By now, you know how passionate I am about Bible study.  It’s been the very lifeline to my sanity on numerous occasions, in many different seasons.

For more on Bible studies, checkout:  “But I  Don’t Have Time for a Bible study…”

Ask the Lord for Him to take His Word from your head to your heart.  Ask Him to show you whom to invite to go with you.  You’ll never regret it.


This week I’m praying for ALL of you taking your college-bound children. Last year I had  three sweet friends taking freshman to UK, Asbury and South Carolina.  This year their new sophomores are all faring well.  This week, three more of my friends have dropped freshman at Georgia, Centre and one goes today to Miami of Ohio.  Gulp…

To our utter astonishment and sheer excitement this Fall, John and I are not having to write anymore college tuition checks! Please tell me where the time has gone?  Can it be nine years ago we first took John Jr. to college??? All three boys have now graduated???Sniff, sniff…

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to our dear firstborn son, John Garnett Hoagland, Jr.  Soon to be twenty-eight years old, now working with John Sr.

John Jr., being our first, is a living miracle given our inept parenting skills.  He’s shown me more than once there’s only a one-letter difference in the word “Mother” and “Smother”, if you get what I’m sayin’…

God Bless you, J, we are so very proud of you. Thanks for grace! Mega praises go to our Lord and Savior who got you thru’ college!!!)

Elizabeth and John Jr

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