Saturday, December 8, 2012

Forgotten

I pull into pick him up from school exactly eight minutes late and preoccupied on an important phone call...

The conversation is deep but out of the corner of my eye I see him flagging me down and running to the car as I pull through the turn around.  And he jumps in the car upset, more than upset, his eyes are red and brimmed with tears.  He lets out a sob and I have to leave the car and flash my pointer finger at him as I shut his cries out so I can finish the important conversation which happens to be with a Sargent police officer but that is beside the point.

I quickly hang up and hurry back in the van.  Fight? Bullying?  What in the world happened?  I ask him what's wrong and he gets it out...

"I thought you forgot me...I was so scared...I didn't know what to do...I forgot my cell phone, so I couldn't call you!"

I embrace my first born who just turned 12 and acts so grown up so much of the time.  I realize that he is still just a boy.  As my gut turns over I stroke his head and tell him what to do if it ever happens again...We make a plan and I lay it out before him.  And I don't think he will forget his cell phone, next time...He swallows back the tears and I tell a bad joke but he smiles anyways as he wipes away the pain.

And my sweet Jonah boy and I, our outward resemblance isn't all we have in common.

I have felt forgotten.  Left waiting after feverishly praying and petitioning until my eyes are raw and my knees are bruised.

Wondering if He would show up in the midst of my trouble and feeling abandoned when I didn't think He came on time...

But unlike this mama, our Father in heaven is unblemished and perfect.  His plans are pure and holy.

Sometimes the most important lessons are learned when the storm is raging the hardest.

Because in our weakness, in our brokenness, His strength is made perfect.    

He will never be preoccupied with an important phone call because He is omnipresent and omniscient.  .

He will always show up in His timing, which is always the right time.

He will write out a plan for our lives, for my life and it will be perfectly orchestrated for Him but may sound out of tune sometimes to me....

The question is will I stand on the road in the cold rain full of fear and trembling?....Or will I jump in the vehicle and buckle up for a ride that may get a bit bumpy but will be filled with purpose and life.


.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hushed into Prayer

Crackling wood pops out last sparks of the fire and the house sleeps sound as I peck out letters behind a bright screen...

My voice has been quieted these last few weeks.  A silence has hushed my fingertips and turned tough times and hard burdens into prayers instead of posts...

How much of the time do I run to the phone or the keyboard, asking for intervention instead of falling to my knees?

Instead, tonight...these last few weeks...I lay down the burden at the wounded feet of the only One who can fully heal the body and the soul...

and as I do, I can hear the faintest but surest whisper of peace spoken into my whole being...
The weight is lifted and my body is trembling but sure...

November air drifts down the chimney blowing out the remainders of any bit of heat...

There is a slight chill in the air...

And the passion and warmth of my prayers and petitions are left at the throne and have been replaced by a cool, sweet peace...

Blown down to my core I sense the spirit of God residing and overriding fear, anxiety, worry...

Quietly and briskly calming this flesh into tranquil serenity...



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Change


Where does the time go?

And more importantly why does my hair never change when I am a hairstylist?

And speaking of change, isn't fall the best time to really think about change?

Leaves of green that have been proudly wearing the same shade all summer long are suddenly turning day by day dramatically before our eyes.  

Humid muggy mornings are long gone and have been replaced by the nip of jack frost in the early hours...

School days and hockey schedules are tight and lemonade stands and lazy pool days are long gone...

We change with the season and roll with it...

And as the leaves turn to brilliant reds and oranges which fade into golden-yellowed hues, I am in awe of the beauty but even more bewildered over the nature of things...

This tree I look at is rooted firm, it is mature...complete if you will...

Buds will appear in spring and blossom into gorgeous flowers which will blow away with the wind during late spring...

Change...

Deep greens then will cover each limb...Leaves shiny bright will sway all summer...They will blow in the wind and glisten in the sun...They will drip goblets of water after the rain washes them clean...

Change...

And then autumn will knock on summer's door and each leaf will change like a chameleon before our eyes, until they reach a brownish tint and dry up and fall down to the ground....

Change...

The branches will hang bare in the cold of winter and snow will adorn each log of wood beautifully.  Icicles will embrace twigs and it will be a sight to behold...

The ground will stay frozen hard for months but then the thaw will set in..

Change....

Mud and puddles will take the place of the white snow once again as spring takes a turn...

And so it goes

The seasons and their changing...

And isn't it the same with us?

How natural it is for us to change during the different seasons of our lives?

God is preparing us for the season...Whether it be buds, blossoms, green-lushness, dramatic color or barren branch...

As long as our roots are set firmly in the soil...we don't have to fear!!

Tonight I choose to embrace change and stand firm in my faith that I am rooted in!~

(and I'm not talking about my hair!!)





James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.








Monday, September 3, 2012

Glide


(I wrote this 3 years ago when my baby girl was going to Kindergarten. She is now starting 3rd grade tomorrow.  Micah will be in 7th and my oldest is getting ready to experience high school...I'm not ready for this... After dropping him off for his Freshman Orientation last week I had to pull over the mini van so I wouldn't get into a car accident because my eyes were temporarily blinded by pools of salty mother-of-a high-schooler tears...I mean seriously, it is all really just a bit too much.  Today I signed him up for Driver's Ed...if that doesn't bring one to their knees, I honestly don't know what will.  But the fact that this precious child of mine is going to be operating a vehicle really is hard enough let alone the fact that his father and I happened to take this class together just a few years ago...ahem... Back to my point...these words ring true tonight...many of us moms and dads are sending their littles and not-so-littles off to school tomorrow. Some of us are more nervous than they are and most of us are surrounding and uplifting our kids in prayer...)

GLIDE
 
We picked out a sage green durable fabric for the upholstery and chose white painted wood for the frame.  The first time I sat in the cushions and kicked my legs up on the ottoman I was nine months pregnant with my first.  Anticipation swelled as big as the belly beneath my embrace as the chair glided smoothly beneath me.  This would mark the first night of many spent in that chair. 

Countless nights of three different crying babies held throughout these last eleven and a half years and tonight I find myself there yet again rocking a little girl, my baby girl who can't sleep because she has excited butterflies fluttering in her tummy as she imagines her first day of kindergarten tomorrow.  As we move in the darkened room I see her as a baby lying there in my arms.  Us rocking the same way we did four short years ago.  Her softness is cradled in my arms and her innocence graces her face as memories flash and love flows fierce.

We glide...

I envision the boys, each one of them as babies.

The first time Jonah opened his deep gray eyes and looked up at me, it was in that chair, in his tiny nursery in our first little yellow house.  I remember propping him up, next to his little stuffed "Winnie-the-Pooh" and taking a picture of him there on that green fabric in his first few months of life.

Many a night we took turns consoling our sweet Micah struggling to fill his little lungs with air.  Holding up that mask of medicine humming through the machine to calm his cough.  Many prayers were uttered upward in that seat.   I can still see those chubby cheeks and little upturned nose...I can almost hear the scritch scratch of the flowering dogwood tapping on the window of his bedroom in our second place we called home.

And here I sit gliding with long limbs hanging over the sides of the same padded arms that used to fit her length nicely...

And I am overwhelmed.

Warm pools flood up as we sway back and forth.

Tomorrow marks a significant day.

Ayla takes her first steps as a kinderg√§rtner.

Jonah will be dropped off at middle school and will walk the hallways as a sixth grader for the very first time.

And Micah will march as a fourth grader down the halls of his school.

But tonight I pray that they will-

not only step...

or just walk...

or even manage to march through this new school year.

Tonight I am praying that they will glide through the days, weeks, months of school filled with a peace in knowing that they have a heavenly Father who is cradling each one of them in the palm of his hand and loving them more fiercely than this mama ever could even imagine...












Monday, August 20, 2012

Encounters

*Below is a post from 8/20/12...

I have met many people throughout this life of 34 years...Been introduced to quite a few.

But meetings, and introductions are meaningless unless they serve as a forefront to a deeper relationship.  And many of those have become such.  But mere acquaintances laced with quick smiles and friendly hellos are unfortunately too preoccupied with "what's next on the agenda?" instead of true concern with the other party's whole well being.

Or so it has been much of the time, on my behalf...

And how often do I tend to believe that is the will of my Father in Heaven?  And most of the time it is like that when I address Him...

"Hi God, I'm doing great, how are you?   Oh, the universe is all under control?  Great, you have a nice day...and oh yeah, keep us (you know, my family and me) in mind and safe, and forgive me for my sins too!...thanks, luv ya,  bye!"

Sweet, short and to the point, cuz ya know, I'm a busy mom, working mom...mind you...who has a family and a house with dust bunnies and groceries that need bought and bills that need paid and school that is starting and kids that are playing travel sports.....etc....

And God, He just needs to make it all work out for the good...fit it together so it's good for us, for my kids, so they turn out alright...or lets be honest, so they turn out above par... 

And that alone would be fulfilling as a parent.  For everything to look good on the outside...For the kids to turn out "successful" in the eyes of the those around...

And if only I hadn't tasted...

If only I hadn't ENCOUNTERED Him before...

And these experiences aren't to be taken lightly.  

And words really can't explain it either.  But to have tasted and seen, and to take that for granted...to ignore it...

Shame on me.

That's all there is to it- because how easily and quickly I take for granted this living, breathing God who is reaching down to us and offering an unexplainable ENCOUNTER with Him...

Christianity is set apart from mostly all other religions because of the faith in a unique God who reaches down to humanity and holds out His hand for us, offering an unexpected freedom through the sacrifice of His only Son...

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life...For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.."  John 3:16-17

A couple of months ago we took our little family to church on a summer Sunday evening...

Joe prayed silently to God during the service and asked of Him something...

Of which I was unaware....

And we were at church late that night, new members joined and there was cake after, along with a presentation about a church plant in Detroit.  Which was very interesting to me, more than  reminiscent, it was moving...

It reminded me of my younger days and my older sister's heart for the inner city 20 short minutes away from where we grew up.  She lived there in Detroit at a church house doing mission work her third year of college.  She had a calling for the poor, the down and out and outcasts of society which overflowed and convicted anyone close to her.  Immobility was not an option and her passion was contagious.  She introduced us to her friend, Harvey, who was a Mennonite from Canada also doing an internship at the church.  He befriended us and God used him to show us who Jesus was.  Never before had I ENCOUNTERED a person with such humility and love for the unlovely...

So all of this had been brought to the forefront of my mind before we left church that warm summer evening in June.  I had swallowed back many tears before we even got in the minivan.

And as we pulled out of the parking lot onto the usually busy but thankfully vacant road, our eyes couldn't help but look upward because there was a magnificent magenta and orange hued sunset gracing the sky.

And all of a sudden Joe slams on the breaks as I was trying to take it all in...

He points his index finger hard into the glass of the windshield and asks me,

"Is that an eagle?"

I lean forward and gaze above and tell him yes and that I think it is but I also ask him to please continue on driving because I was awfully scared that someone was going to crash into our behind...

And all three of the children caught a glimpse.  You see my husband and my mom are bird freaks...

They constantly are bird watching and the children have picked up on this...They know a turkey buzzard from a hawk...

And we all saw the white head as this eagle flew right over our van...

And Joe could hardly speak...

He told me,

"You don't understand!  It's God!"

Now he had my attention.  My husband is the opposite of dramatic.  (yes my children inherited their theatrics from me, not him)

"What?" I asked.

He went on to tell me that while we were in church, he said a prayer, a prayer that he had forgotten about until this very moment, with the cake and the church-plant and all...

And in that prayer, he told me he asked God...

"If you are real, If all of this is real...make and eagle fly over my head when I leave church tonight!"

And then  he told me that he felt guilty right after he uttered the prayer upward...  He told God that he was sorry...the verse about not putting the Lord thy God to the test sprung into his mind...and Joe took back what he said.

But God chose to send an eagle regardless...

And Joe along with our family ENCOUNTERED God in a big way... a grand way...maybe the most amazing way we ever will in our short lives here on this earth...

And how often I forget and shove Him to the side as if He is just an acquaintance...

And what grace He bestows when the reminders of His very realness are brought to light.

And my prayer tonight is that my children, our family, will long to ENCOUNTER God, and that we would be on a fiery pursuit after Him and His will...


*Since writing this almost 4 years ago, several eagles have flown over Joe's car and even our house.  We have never seen them around here until that night.  Joe called me this morning to tell me one flew right over the front of his hood while in route to work.  What an amazing reminder that God is real.  He knows how fickle we are, how distracted...Right before he called me today, I had been reading

Psalm 103:
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
Bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

...may my faith be childlike...renewed like the eagle's...who God used to open our hearts up...to ENCOUNTER Him....


Friday, August 17, 2012

Bonds

I step outside into the dampened night air.  My toes touch the wet pavement and I inhale deeply as the wind dances above me, rustling the tree tops.  There is a calmness to the night and I find the coolness in the air invigorating as I close my eyes and take another breath.  I gaze across the street and see the Johnson's darkened house tucked in tight for the night, I'm sure...

Earlier in the evening as the moon made it's way to our little area of the world, my only daughter and I walked home from my parents' home, six houses away, down the street to our house.   And on the way, I told her a bit about my childhood. I shared with her how Grandma H. used to let me spend the night at her house which was two doors down from mine, even on school nights, she let me...I tell her.   I told her how she would make me whatever I wanted for breakfast the next day and she would plan it out the night before as I laid next to her in her double blue bedded bed.  And my sweet Ayla looked up at me and let me know that she has heard this story before...


And as we make our way across the park entrance, blackened with no light but that from the moon, I let her know of my fears.  I shared with my darling girl how I ran past the park on many darkened nights with a stomach churning fast on my way over to my spend the night at my best friend, Amy's (Johnson's) house.  She lived across the street from the scary park and four houses over.  I always crossed at the crosswalk. I never strayed too far from the sidewalk and lets just say... crosswalks have always been a MUST with me!

I pointed out to her where I crossed and told her how fast I ran, and she smiled bright as we turned up our driveway.  And as we walk upward to our place we call home I quietly offer up a prayer that  she will someday have a friend as dear as I did.  A friend who will be always waiting with a lightened porch and a kindred, sacred bond that lasts throughout the years.  

As the stillness of the night settles in and the crickets make their melodious music, I pray for my darling sister-less daughter.  I ask that she will find a friend, a good friend who loves her more like a sister and will always be there for her through thick and thin.  And while whispering these words, my heart is filled with gratitude for the grace that God has lavished upon me through the bond of friendship.  I thank Him for the "picking up where we left off" moments and for the soundboards of the daily grinds....

A car speeds by with the bass blaring and I gaze down at the yellow begonias beneath my feet snapping me back into the hear and now.  Jonah will be driving one of those cars in four short years and my annuals need watering first thing in the morning, despite the fresh dew dripping from their petals.   But tonight I have been reminded of the sacredness of life-long friendships and how precious they are.

Time will pass and life will go on, but the bonds we make while growing up will always be....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

W.I.I.F.M.? Sundaes-vs-Suffering





Most nights this past week, I woke up around 4 am and tossed and turned restlessly until sunrise.

You see my sweet Jonah was away at church camp and this mama was missing him badly...and if you don't know me... well, just click here...

We all were so excited to see him.  Micah had a stomach ache for a few days when he was away and I am convinced that it wasn't a virus but instead his gut was aching for his big brother.  Every night before bed, he and I would sit in front of the computer screen and scroll through hundreds of pictures that were so graciously posted daily and search diligently for a glimpse of our Jonah.  Whenever his face would grace the page, Micah would beam bright and look at me and tell me how much he missed him...

And now he is finally home!

And I asked him if he cried at all and he told me yes...only when he was worshiping Jesus...(not missing his mama...ahem.  But seriously, that alone made up for all of the sleepless nights...)

So tonight we had a special service at church dedicated to camp...

Kids were asked to share about their experiences...Both sets of grandparents even attended...supporting Jonah.

So after the sermon, they invited the campers to come up front for worship...

Jonah bolted straight to the front and I turned to Micah and asked him if he wanted to go as well...

And I should tell you that they had already made an announcement about having ice cream downstairs after the service...

Micah looks up at me and I ask him,

"Do you want to go up front?"  (even though he hadn't attended camp, I thought he might like to...)

He looks at me with those huge puppy dog eyes and so innocently asks,

"If we go up front, do we get more ice cream?"

And after telling him, no and that I didn't think so...I got to thinking...

The whole,

as my husband likes to put it...W.I.I.F.M....

(I guess this is an acronym used nowadays out in the business world...)

A.K.A..."What's in it for me?"  mentality hits not too far from home...

And it may not be ice cream that is in it for me...

And it also doesn't matter that he did have two bowls,  mind you....

What does matter is that I tend to do things, most of the time, expecting something in return...

This full-grown woman... who knows better...unfortunately...

most of the time tends to "DO" to "GET"

"GIVE" to "RECEIVE"

How often do I sacrifice a piece of my time or a bit of my money...only to expect a blessing in return?

And what is the ice-cream blessing that I am craving?

Sometimes....recognition?

Sometimes...a clean conscience?

Sometimes...approval? 

Whatever the case may be, I am seeking a satisfying earthly dessert topped with lots of cherries and whipped cream...

And isn't our calling quite the contrary?

"FOR IT HAS BEEN GRANTED TO YOU ON BEHALF OF CHRIST NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE IN HIM, BUT ALSO TO SUFFER FOR HIM"  Phil. 1:29


And most of the time suffering does not include trophies or ice-cream sundaes...

What suffering does offer is a deeper faith in a very real GOD...

And that is more priceless than any reward I could ever fathom...even Sander's Hot Fudge, which is saying a lot!!


















Thursday, July 19, 2012

Significantly Small





We climb like two monkeys up the steep sand dune.  The view is incredible but the trek is exhausting not only our limbs but also our lungs.

And the vastness of the crystal blue lake reflecting the rich hues of the sky above, is held in by tree-lined bluffs almost protectively like a mother holding her precious baby.

As I gaze down the dune the people beneath us look so small like little ants climbing their hills and I feel tiny in comparison to this great creation and just as I am thinking this, feeling so insignificant amidst this grandness...

Micah picks up a handful of sand and slowly pours it on the ground and with a full grin looks at me and says,

"He knows how many grains of sand there are, Mom."

His eyes are large and filled with amusement at his own words.

"Isn't that cool?" He asks.

I smile back at him and pick up a handful of sand, amazed at the numbered grains gracing my palm.  I look into those big brown eyes of his as we continue to climb and let his declaration resonate deep.

Sand sprinkles down out of my grasp and I pat him on the top of his head and am reminded of another truth,

"Even the hairs on your head are all numbered." I tell him as I tell myself...

Small we may be, but insignificant we are not when we choose to serve a very big God...

A very big God who is never too big to see us...

'(Hagar) gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her "You are the God who sees me"'(Genesis 16:13a)

Feeling a new sense of purpose we make our way to the top. He high-fives me and I grab him and rub his head.



"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11


"Why, even the hairs on your head are all numbered, fear not you are of more value than many sparrows" Luke 12:7












Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'm Gonna Be Like Him...









I really couldn't ask for a better father for my children. Joe is absolutely AMAZING with them. Just before I was about to have Jonah, he told me that he was going to spend special time with him everyday. And even when life gets hectic and chaotic, I have to say, Joe takes time each and everyday to give each one of our little ones quality "daddy-time". Whether it be playing catch, roller-blading, looking at baseball/hockey cards or painting Ayla's nails, he makes every effort to be with them on a daily basis.



Remember the song "Cats in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin?

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon                                            
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

(scroll down to bottom of page to listen...)

Joe never wanted to be like the man in that song. I am so thankful to my heavenly Father for my better half who gives 110% of himself to our kiddies. They are so blessed to have a daddy who not only loves to be with them but also is extremely patient with them as well.

His love for his children is unquestionable.









Hopefully one day they will all want to be like him...


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Dance



Ayla had her first dance recital on Sunday.  She was absolutely adorable.  However after practicing all year long perfectly in class, I think she got a little bit of stage fright under the big top auditorium.  She kept glancing over to stage right where Miss Megan must have been doing the motions.

As I was watching her watch her teacher I realized a couple of things about my darling girl.   The first thing is that she is a rule follower.  And I do believe she takes after her mama in that way.  Just like Kelly Clarkson I never strayed too far from the sidewalk, LITERALLY!  My mom told me to always ride my bike on the sidewalk and by golly I did.  I was scared to death to ride in the street next to the cars and trucks that could take me out in a second flat.

I also figured out that my little girl just may not be cut out for Broadway.  Which is quite disappointing to me because I really had her pinned as a diva in the making.  But unfortunately, her stage presence is quite lacking but some of that may be due to the fact that she forgot most of her moves because of her nervousness.

As her tutu twirled under the spotlight, I almost felt as if I were up on stage right with her worrying over pointing the proper toes and twisting the right way.   And how often am I like her in my own life?  How many times have all eyes been on me watching intently to see if I will mess up the dance?  The pressure of a dark audience and all of their opinions of the production can sometimes be too much.  And unfortunately my eyes aren't fixed on my teacher like they need to be.  But instead they are gazing out into the darkened audience looking to please the crowd instead of the instructor and creator of the dance who is right there on the sidelines going through the motions and showing me the way.

Isn't that what Jesus did when He came here to live on this earth?  Didn't he choreograph the dance and show us the motions?  Why do I constantly look to the crowd who is literally sitting in the dark  for approval instead of the one in charge?

Why do I repeatedly forget that I am dancing for an audience of one?  One God, three persons....

HE is the only one I should ever aim to please.

And how amazing is it that He...God almighty... who made himself flesh...?

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14)

He has set the example...


"...full of grace and truth"


 And He is right there next to me directing this dance of my life...


May I dance mightily...

And let it be filled with grace and truth honoring only HIM!

"And David danced before the Lord with all of his might..." (2 Samuel 6:14)











Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering (from 2012)

I never blogged about this last year so thought today would be a good day to remember...

Last Memorial Day our city unveiled war monuments in front of the library containing the names of each and every soldier from the city who died while fighting for our freedom.  Each stone represents a different war.  The ceremony followed a parade and as the tarps were lifted, taps was played and gunshots were fired.



Our family gathered in the crowd to honor and remember my dad's brother Gary who lost his life in Vietnam. 

  
The ceremony was beautiful and as the soldiers saluted many tears trickled in the crowd.  Years may pass but families and friends will never forget the sacrifice of a loved one's life.  I am proud of our city for helping us all remember to recognize and pay tribute to the memory of each soldier from Trenton, Michigan who flew or sailed far across seas and into foreign lands to fight for our freedom and in doing so lost their lives.  


We are remembering today!  

This is one of the letters my uncle wrote home to his pastor while serving in Vietnam:

24 Sept. 1967
Dear Rev. Jones,

You'll have to excuse me if I started this letter wrong, cause it's the first time to a man of the Gospel. I really don't know what to say, but I'll try anyway.

To get things straight, my name is Gary W. Holbrook, son of Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Holbrook, 2216 Grange Rd. Trenton. If you will remember I talked with you a few times before I left for Vietnam.

I guess that most people getting letters from the men in Vietnam, would like to know a little about what it's like over here. This is the way I think of Vietnam.

The mountains are beautiful even if they are Vietnam mountains, and the water in the rice paddies is so clear you can see yourself in them. The sun is like a great light that never ceases to let you know it's always on the job. And at night the beauty of this far eastern country is unexplainable. I guess you might say it's like one of Walt Disney's Kodak Colored Pictures. That's what Vietnam appears to be like. Only God and the men that are over here giving up their lives truly know what Vietnam is like. to them it is always hot, wet, muddy, and above all lonely. All the outward looks of beauty that pertain to Vietnam's landscape and Vietnamese people is just a falsehood which hides death or destruction behind every bush or from the vast low banks of the lonely green paddies. During the day when the sun is shining brightly above and sending life to this ever expanding vastness of green foliage and jungle terrain. The fighting man must be especially leery because from these beautiful grass lands and majestic jungles there are those who would take his life if given the chance.

During the night when all is still and peace seems all around you, (for Vietnam doth truly seem peaceful at night) once again you find the American fighting man awake and waiting, for during these hours of blissful peace and constancy is when the enemy takes advantage of our fighting men, for at these beautiful times he sometimes lets his mind wander back to his loved ones far across the ocean, he asks himself, "Is it all worth it, being over here amongst all this beauty which is only a front for death?" He asks himself, "Is the price of peace and happiness for his loved ones too dear to pay with his life?" All these questions and many more run through these brave young mens' minds and there is still the same answers with God on our side and us being a free people and believing in Him, He will stand by our side no matter what the price. For I'm an American fighting man and will do my best to serve my God and my country. And although Vietnam is truly beautiful, it is just as deadly and even more so lonely for the American fighting man. Well I guess that's enough of my philosophy about Vietnam.

Well Reverend, I guess there really isn't much more to say except that I'm pretty sure I am not the only one that has a strong and compassionate feeling for Nam and it's people. I would certainly appreciate it if you would pray for all of us over here, and maybe some Sunday you could give a sermon on Vietnam, so people can do a little more about it then just say, "Well Vietnam's way over there and I am over here." I believe they should be made to realize that there is a little of each of us over here living and dying to help us all free and save, for tomorrow the sun will surly shine on a free and God-fearing people. I will also send you my address in case there are a few people in the church that might want to write. Thank you very much for listening to my problems. I only hope God heard them as well.

L/Cpl. Gary W. Holbrook U.S.M.C.

P.S. Feel free to tell others what I wrote, maybe it will give them a better understanding of what goes on over here. 




Friday, May 25, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Opportunity


IT's 5 Minute Friday....been a while but gonna give it a go....
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:
::

Opportunity…




Opportunity knocks...or so the saying goes...

But unfortunately many children who play sports today don't get an opportunity at all...

Coaches are worried about winning games instead of developing skill and building confidence.

Players are pinned at an extremely young age as bench warmers or starters...

Today I am counting my blessings and whispering up thanks for our middle boy's baseball coach...

Who after two games, I can already tell is all about opportunity for every player...

We may not win all of the games....may not come close by a long shot!

But two nights ago my sweet boy was glowing after he had an opportunity to stand on the mound and throw some hard balls in a game...

Thankfully someone opened the door of opportunity for him and in doing so allowed some confidence to build up big...



 3 UP.......3 DOWN!

...and the smile on his face after was priceless!!!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Dare You...

The boys LOVE basketball.  They especially love to play at their Grandma and Papa's house because when the net is lowered they are able to dunk on it.




This was on Easter Sunday.

So on Monday, yesterday, I decided to show the boys how I could dunk on our lowered net...

The lowered net that they aren't able to reach, THANK GOD!!

Because I ran up and dunked, with two hands and closed my eyes because I was afraid the ball would hit me in the head.  

Well the ball didn't hit me in the head.  No it didn't.

What did hit me in the head was the backboard. 

I was lying on the ground unable to move and yelled to Jonah to get the next door neighbors and call Grandma.

I am so proud of my boy, he was amazing.

Within moments my neighbor was there along with my mom and sweet sister.

I took my very first ride in an ambulance.  It was all very dramatic with the orange board and safety straps and gurney.

Today I am thanking God that I am just badly bruised and scraped.  Nothing is broken, just sporting a sweet  noggin on my forehead, along with a mild concussion.  Who needs botox when a backboard can do the trick?? 

Joe was feeling guilty because the basketball net had blown over a couple of weeks ago and he had been meaning to take it down.

We are all so grateful that it was me and not one of the kids. 


My precious babies were so worried...I was a mess thinking about how traumatic the whole thing must have been for them.  

Micah was so concerned.  He is the one who dared me to dunk...

He made me a card and told me that he was going to sleep in daddy's spot so he could check on me all night.  My precious boy.

I feel the love!!



So I'm not going to dare any of you to dunk...

But I am going to dare you (and me) to something else...because life can change in the blink of an eye...

I dare you to take every moment you have with your loved ones and gratefully cherish them!!    



















Give thanks to the LORD,  for he is good.  His love endures forever.  Psalm 136:1












Monday, April 2, 2012

You Have My Heart


Just yesterday he was bundled in my arms as I rocked and rocked him to fall asleep for that cherished two hour nap he took...




Just yesterday he was waving around light-sabers and saving the galaxy from evil emperors....

Just yesterday he was wobbling and falling and grabbing on the boards as he learned how to skate...

And now he reads himself to sleep with stories about Poseidon's son saving the planet....

And now he plays competitve hockey and only uses the boards to sneak in a hard check...

And today he left for 5th grade science camp away from this crazy stalker mom and all of her control for four days...

And this mama bear bit back the hot tears in the gym this morning...

As I handed over the health form and my precious firstborn into the care of mere aquaintances I  could have sworn my heart fell out and hit the hardwood floor...

And as he gave me a quick hug and pat on the back when no one was looking I saw a sparkle in those adorable blues that reassured me he was extremely eager and excited to experience this adventure.

I could also see that he was more worried about me missing him than him missing me.  My sweet boy...  

And as he stepped up onto the big yellow bus and turned around and waved at me I was almost sure that I would explode into a million pieces because of the love overwhelming up inside of me...

Sometimes it takes the worried what-ifs to bring us back to the reality of the goodness of the here and now...

How much I take it for granted when growing pains are shooting through and two heads are butting up against one another because they are so much alike...

As I watched him board I realized that my heart didn't fall out on the floor back in the school...it didn't burst into an explosion either...nor did it fall out into those tears that I swallowed...

Instead, my heart drove off on that school bus to Camp Michindoh early this morning with that beloved son of mine...

And I know he will hold on tight to it for me until he returns on Thursday....

Until then I will be praying hard and waiting desperately for his homecoming. 




I will be singing this song all week...check it out!!  (and the tears will be flowing hot and fast)


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Gift

This life is a gift that so often I toss to the curb.  All too often I spend my time, waste my time hoarding up trash that only needs to be dragged out on Monday morning with the rest of the trash piled up high in the city appointed brown bins bursting full from a growing family. 

Instead of holding onto moments, I hurriedly rush by and move onto the next...

How I long to cherish these sacred times, instead of whizzing by in a hurried and frantic frenzy rushing to pick up and drop off...

Pushing the pedal to arrive promptly to the next sporting event or piano practice.

Oh but what a cherished treasure....

A gift that has been granted to me from up above, in the form of these three beings who look up to me and yearn for my approval...for my acceptance...for my love.

And in return as hard and grueling as it may sometimes be, I am grateful from a place down deep for these three sacred beings who are the best gift any mama could ever ask for...


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stalker Mom

They run out to the van after the bell rings and ask.  Eyes twinkling bright at me reflecting rays of sunshine on an  unusually warm Michigan March afternoon.  Backpacks are tossed through the sliding doors and I nod nervously to go ahead.  I wait as they make their way down the sidewalk toward the elderly crossing guard.  They shrink down and far out of my sight and knots twist in my gut.  Throwing the van in drive I roll down the pavement and catch up.  Spotting them ahead I breathe in and the tension fades.  As I pass them I watch in the rear view mirror and can see the springs in their steps.  They are practically skipping home.  I know that they are pleased with this new found bit of freedom.  I know that they wanted to walk home all by themselves without a stalker mom rolling by and checking up on them.  I think about this as I put it in park at the busy intersection and wait for them to cross.  I have to make sure no one runs them over. Ayla asks what we are doing from her booster chair in the back.  I mumble some reply as the minutes pass and they make their way down the long street to the corner.  Micah sees me and turns around and smiles, he waves.  Jonah just keeps on a trekking not daring to glance my way.  I tell myself he is growing up, coming into his own.  He's a tween after all.   He just watched the puberty video at school.  My stomach churns when I think about it.  I don't want to let them go.  I want to hold on tight and keep them in my little bubble so badly, but I know that I can't.  After I make sure nobody has ran a stop sign and splattered either one of them all over the road I drive down to my house and up the driveway.  They aren't far behind but I glance down the sidewalk to make sure they weren't abducted by the park entrance.  Wasn't I just pushing them in the double stroller down that same sidewalk?   The sun shines hard and my heart shines big for these two boys who come bouncing safe and sound up the drive.  Home at last.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beautiful Noise

The full and florescent white moon ball beams in the front window and the house is finally quiet.

Just a little while ago these wooden floors were echoing loud with activity.  He tells me that we surely must have the loudest house in the city and we both crack up because we know it's probably true.  Jonah blows out his notes into his trumpet and I pluck on the piano.  Micah and Ayla argue over what channel to watch as the television blares in the background.  His speaker phone is playing elevator music as he waits for his work's help desk to iron out computer problems.

My day was filled with busy noise.  The boys had a half day of school for parent teacher conferences.  Ayla and I had piano.  The boys had dentist appointments.  It was quite the juggling act, I may be recruited for the circus if  I don't watch out!

And now their little heads are cushioned with soft pillows and their eyes are fluttering as they enter into dreamworld.  The noise is muted for a few cherished hours. I smile to myself as I breathe in the silence.  A low hum of the gas fireplace and the tapping of the keys is all I can hear.   I relish in the solitude and contentment of this very monment and refuse to allow the regrets of the day to creep in.  I inhale the air full into my lungs and instead allow my savior to push out any guilt lurking in the dark corners of my soul.  The day is done and tomorrow the sun will radiate it's light upon a brand new canvas waiting to be filled with all kinds of beautiful noise.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Explanations for the Unexplainable

Last night after a quick trip (ahem) to Saginaw for a league play off game (for Jonah's hockey team...GO THRASHERS!!)  We had pizza with some friends.  And VERY good pizza it was.  We got carry out from Frank's in Wyandotte.  They are legend around these parts of the mitten for making some of the very best home made Italian food and boy did it hit the spot after a long day in the mini-van.

But that is not what I am blogging about tonight.

Because last night could have been like any other typical hockey game night.  We could have ordered pizza, let the kids go crazy, visited and called it a night...

But on this particular night as we were just about out the door, well Joe was...

He had warmed up the van and bundled up the kids.  He grabbed two of the three and headed out the door.  

And as I made my way to the storm door, that was frosting and fogging up from the Michigan cold, my eyes were drawn upward to the top of the glass...

Shadows and light revealed the trees dancing on the hard surface in front of me but my eyes didn't see the winter barren branches...

Instead all I could see were thorns.  

Thorns blazing and poking and twisting into a crown.

I mentioned this to my friends, the owners of the house and as soon as the words left my lips, knowing eyes and nodding heads explained how they were thinking the exact same thing.  

His crown, we were all reminded of...

Our Savior...

And as we all looked back at the door, that storm door that had been wiped off just an hour earlier when the other guests had left.  

We gazed into the glass that was beginning to create an image that would remind us all of a king who was pierced for our transgressions...

And we all see it, at the same time...

We see His hair and His beard...

Our earthly eyes take in His face, turned down with eyes closed and lips curled straight...

We see the image of Jesus melted into the frosted glass with shifting shadows.  Crown of thorns large on his head...

My friend, she takes a picture trying to capture this miraculous manifestation on film.

We are all filled with peace and encouraged, our faith is deepened by this peculiar mystery.

I was amazed, aghast if you will...

But my eldest son Jonah, who was with me...

He didn't see the image.  He was concerned and a bit nervous about the whole episode.

We say good night and make our way through the dark cold night back home.

And all the while I reassured him, spoke the words of truth in those little ears, eager to listen.

I tucked him in tight and whispered prayers and scratched his back.  

And as I settled into bed I wondered if maybe he is a bit like I am most of the time when God shows up big?

Worried and concerned when the hand of God breaks through and reveals himself in a divine way.  

Do I fret and question, second guess?

Do I search for logic and reason among the illogical, the unreasonable?  ...instead of standing in awe at the mystery and marvelousness of a living, breathing, all-knowing God?

What a lesson I have learned to just "take it in" and stand amazed....

Sometimes there isn't an explanation for the unexplainable....






Friday, February 3, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Real

Unmasked Uninhibited Unveiled friendship is always the best kind.  Sharing the company of those beautiful souls who love you unconditionally and without fail  can be REAL humbling.  REAL, true friends are never a dime a dozen.  They are always a sacred treasure.  How thankful I am for these stripped down to the bone REAL friendships that have been gifted to me from a REAL God who understands every square inch of this REAL life of mine.  And for that I am REALLY grateful!!