Monday, June 30, 2008

R-Day, 60 seconds

"You have 60 seconds to say your farewells," a member of the cadre announced as we all stood and prepared for our goodbyes. This petite framed cadet whom I really wanted to hate was just doing her job and I don't envy her of having the task of separating parent and family from child. It was like every sentence she was saying felt like a Peanuts cartoon where Snoopy just hears, "blah, blah, blah, blah." Of course all of us knew it was coming, the mood was solemn as we all filed in and took our seats. I wasn't the only weepy mom in the bunch so I felt a kindred spirit among us. There was such a feeling of love and pride, but we all entered into some private, intimate place in our hearts and hugged our babies for the final time for a long while like we were the only ones in the place. Nate grabbed his meager belongings and confidently strode to the front of the auditorium and never looked back. That was a good thing because if I had seen his face one more time, I would have taken it as a sign to rush forward to get him. I know he is divinely placed where the Lord wants him to be and this is perhaps the most unselfish thing I have ever done as a mother. We prayed and prayed for the Lord to put him where he was supposed to go. I cannot second guess my Heavenly Father. Saying goodbye and letting my beloved child set forth into a new life, I am filled with tears and pride, both never ending.

I remember child birth being very painful but this is really rough. I was in labor for four hours, and it hurt like crud and this process is much longer. West Point is such an austere and noble place, I am humbled to have a son who is in the class of 2012 and have the hat, t-shirt and matching handbag to prove it. I shall be wearing black, gold and gray for a really long time. There is a dignity and a respect I don't recall seeing at other college campuses we visited. This is the right place for my son and I am thankful to have met a lot of nice guys Nathan will soon be calling friends. Take a look and click here at this link to see what his first day was like. OY!

We are all entering a new phase in our lives. After saying our farewells, there were two floors of vendors and organizations to greet us. Nearly ever booth had a box of Kleenex. It was reassuring to see that in the midst of all this decorum and granite, they had chiseled out a lot of compassion and concern.

We arrive home tomorrow and I do laundry which will include some of Nathan's dirty clothes. It will be the saddest load of laundry I have ever done in my life thus far. I found the toe nail clippers he used before we dropped him off at West Point. They were in the hotel bathroom and yep, I cried.

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. I am the mama of a soldier. I am the PROUD mama of a soldier. Go Army, Beat Navy, Huah!

Psalm 63:7 & 8
For you have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Leaving Civilian Life Behind

We just ate our last lunch as a civilian family in our home. In about an hour, we will head out for West Point, first stopping at a special family's house along the way which is sure to be a bloggable event. We are becoming a military family, I guess. In true W-H fashion, we did not have a Norman Rockwell dinner or lunch where we were all sitting around the table, laughing and smiling with every bite, singing Kum-Bi-Yah. I guess we are a really human family and my expectations might have been too high. I am disappointed but trying to not dwell on things not ending perfectly like I wanted. :/At this point, I'm averaging about 6-8 crying jags a day and think waterproof mascara is the order of the day for about the next week at least. If you are reading this, please pray for us as we make this important journey. It is becoming a reality and I need to keep my eyes on Jesus. I am the mama of a soldier...I am the mama of a soldier.
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Father's Day Gift Every Dad Wants

The tear fest has been re-activated as we are inching closer to the day of sending our boy off to West Point. I think the only one excited about Nate leaving is Aaron because he will be the head honcho (or so he thinks) around the house. He will be the oldest (theoretically) and that's important for a guy stuck in the middle.

Whereas Aaron seems to be just fine, Mark and I were a mess on Father's Day. Although the guys and I gave Mark some pretty sweet gifts: Dunder Miflin Paper Company t-shirt, frisbee golf discs along with handy-dandy holder and a very clever book (click here), it is the written words of our sons that were the most heartfelt and memorable. 
If only every father received such tender sentiments. What a world we would have if every father deserved such merit.
Nathan has quite a knack of making cards for others. They are usually hilarious, the guy could get a job at Hallmark, no problem which would be a lot easier than West Point, but I digress.

This Father's Day, Mark received a different style card which included a picture of Mark and baby Nate. 
In the photo, Nate is perched high on his daddy's backpack. Now this same precious child is a young man walking onto a new life and places, proud and muscular, confident and ready. Someone wrote that "tears are pride overflowed." Invest in Kleenex, folks. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


It was a speaking day for our family on Sunday. In the morning, Nate addressed the church youth group along with family and friends and gave an inspiring message. He was awesome if I do say so myself. 

Later on in the day, it was my turn. I spoke at a high school baccalaureate. When I was initially asked to be the speaker, I hesitated. Why did they want me? What do I have to offer?
 Apparently my insight regarding young people and my work in the schools gave me some measure of credibility and that's why I was chosen. I prayed about it, sought the counsel of godly friends and agreed to do it. 
Page upon page of my prayer journal was devoted to contemplating the message I was going to share. As the day approached, I found myself excited and a bit anxious. Rehearsing the 20 minute speech with my family gave me confidence. My husband liked it. My sons thought it was good. Even my mom liked it. (Ok, my mom LOVED it but that's her job. We always have to LOVE the things our children create, it's in the job description. She's such an encourager!) And most importantly I felt the Lord was pleased with my efforts and He was my main audience. 

Sunday rolled around and I was soooo ready to get it over with. There is no weird twist in my story or anything like that,  I did a good job and was satisfied with the message the Lord placed on my lips. If you want a copy of my message, I'll send it to you. I used the word "puberty" several times in my message which made my OS Nate rather uncomfortable but it had spiritual relevance. 

The venue was at an outdoor amphitheatre which might be redundant. Are amphitheatres always outdoors? Hmmmmm...NE way, when my family and I approached the place, I commented that I felt like a Roman, you know in a coliseum kinda thingy. My husband and OS rolled their eyes with my bold pronouncement. When I said I felt like Abraham Lincoln or Billy Graham addressing the audience, they really thought I was slightly exaggerating the experience. Whatev...

Athough the baccalaureate began at 5 pm, it was sweltering heat. We're talking 100 degrees plus even when the sun gave way to a bit of shade. I was sweating bullets. There was a part of my message where I thought I might tear up. No chance. Too hot. Dehydration had set in. I couldn't have cried if I had forced myself.

Despite the oppressive temperatures I believe the audience of about 300 really tried to listen and concentrate. I was blessed. Unfortunately I left my water bottle with my husband so as I was speaking at the podium, I simply prayed, "Lord, give me enough saliva to finish this speech." He did. 

Afterward, several people told me I did a great job. One mom actually got out of her car as we were in the parking lot and asked for a hug. It was a sweaty hug but still a blessing.

You know that feeling of doing a job to the best of your ability? I had that, hallelujah! When I came home, I didn't want to speak anymore, I just wanted to shower and do a non-talking task...finish my nephew's blanket. 

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sew Much Fun - Chapter 3

We are nearing record temperatures in our neck of the woods (100 degrees plus!) and I made another blanket. Last night, while in the living room, my husband  looks around and exclaims, "We have blankets all over the place and it's summer for Pete's sake!" Ex-squeeze me? What's he trying to say? That he hates me and my crafting??? That he's getting tired of random threads and piles of fabric all throughout the house??? Zheesh! At the time, we had five blankets in the room (one of them belonged in our bedroom). I thought this comment was pretty funny and a fairly astute observation. What can I say, we are a snugly people! After about nine months, I finally finished a coffee blanket I made in honor of Nathan's senior mission trip to Costa Rica which is the reason we have at least one more blanket in the room. It was so nice to finally get that project done, Yay!  Surely there are better and more creative seamstresses out there but I am proud of my amateur skills and after working so diligently on my creations, it's hard to put them up for the summer. 

So guess what I'm working on right now? Yep, a blanket. Only this one is for my darling 2 1/2 year old nephew Jon. The guy is totally obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. He has a one track mind in every sense of the word. You walk into the house and you are offered a train. Just don't ask for Mighty Max. You can probably place a delicate finger on Gordon now (that used to be his favorite) but that's i
t. I don't care how much Jon likes you and how many things you have done for him, Mighty Max just can't be shared. And for another example of how Jon is full tilt on Thomas and the gang, the other day, he was outside playing with his dad and getting cold water sprinkled all over his back and you know what he exclaims? "I'm covered in coal dust!" 
Who could not love th
is guy. I am smitten and his little brother is the stuff of everything delicious and pure. I wonder what Josiah is going to be crazy about in the future? Will he like trains or another mode of transportation? Will he like penguins like his Aunt Deees (that's me) or tree frogs (like his Cousin Nate)? Whatever it is, I'll make a blanket for it. I'm ready for the next project!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Little Buddy Monday, Little Buddy Tuesday

Well, two of my three children are in trouble. I hate the term "grounded," as it conjures up bad memories of my own rebellious adolescence so I will refrain from the terminology. It could be a long and lonely summer at our house because unfortunately our guys are proving there is great truth in James 3:6 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." So instead of being able to use their tongue in conversation with their friends, their punishment is to spend time with me. It's funny to consider that I am a form of punishment but it's true. Aaron, my middle OS had his iPod, book and electric guitar removed from his possession and it has been replaced with laundry, a vacuum and his Bible. Everything is fine right now, he has apologized and we're moving forward, thank goodness but restrictions are a consequence of his actions! We have work to do and I'm not backing down on raising three godly young men of honor. That's my job and I can't give up, can't back down, wimp out, no way, ain't gonna happen, nuh-uh, no way Jose. With one son preparing to leave our nest and go off to West Point, my prayer is to see the two remaining guys ready to do amazing things in their lives. They don't have to be cookie cutter fellas but my heart's cry is for them to glorify the Lord in all they do. 

So yesterday Isaac was my companion and today, well, both Aaron and Isaac are by my side. We could be spending a lot of time together if they don't watch out. 
Ike and I did errands and such and despite it being a punishment, I think he had some fun. I called it Little Buddy Monday and it looks like it's Middle Buddy Tuesday also. 

Instead of strumming the guitar or hanging out with friends, the guys went with me to Nate's final pediatrician visit. Nate got three shots, a TB test and three vials of blood drawn. And to his chagrin, I documented a vast majority of it because I knew you would want to see. Yes, we all looked like goobers but times like this are ending as my oldest OS begins his journey at West Point in a matter of weeks. I only get one more shot (pardon the pun). I took this picture of the door when the guys and I were politely asked to leave for the more "personal" parts of the exam. 
I ended up feeling a little wistful as I realized that my 18 year old son is grown. He can see the pediatrician up to 21 years of age but who does that? I can so easily remember the days when these doctors were measuring his head circumference, checking for ear infections, etc. 
Today Nate didn't need nor want my hand to hold although when he had a woozy moment, I was able to stroke his peaked head (I think I needed it more than he did). 
Now he is venturing off to grown up places and I entered the pediatrician's office feeling like we were turning another page. I think it was a blessing it was Little Buddy Tuesday after all. 

So our summer begins and parts of our life kind of end. Will there be a Little Buddy Wednesday? Probably! Who knows! Stay tuned!

This was Nate enjoying a little Motts Totts juice box to help him not pass out.