Armoured Up

A Letter to my Boy

This morning I came undone.  While cleaning my desk, I uncovered a letter I wrote at the beginning of this school year to my son.  A letter that he received while he was away at a school retreat.  I cried while I typed it, but this morning I wept as I read it out loud. Yes, I made the ugly face!!  I have six months left with this boy before he launches out…leaves the nest we had so lovingly prepared those many years ago when I brought my miracle home from the hospital.  This boy stole my heart just yesterday and in just a few short months, a young man, prepared and loved will walk out of our home and into the future that God has prepared for him.

I thought I’d share that letter today…

October, 2015

Joshua Alexander Britt:

Leader…truth seeker…tender warrior…compassionate friend…faithful son!!!

If love were tangible…not just an emotion…if you were able to touch love, if you could climb into my heart and take a peek at love, you would be overwhelmed. Josh, I had prayed for years for a child…there was nothing I desired more than to be a mom. I had just about given up hope….and then came you!

You were an absolute miracle..an answer to prayer; the fulfillment of God’s promise to me. For the nine months that I carried you, you were my secret, growing quietly within me. God’s proof that He loved me and heard my cry.

You never kicked hard (which is shocking given the bruiser you are)…you were gentle and peaceful in my womb. Yes, you were my secret!! You were celebrated by those who knew about our infertility struggle, and I made a promise to God that I would always share my testimony in gratitude for the miracle that was your birth.

January 7, 1998 the words I longed to hear were said by Susan at St. John’s Hospital as she confirmed that I was pregnant after having lost a baby and being told once again that I would never be able to successfully conceive. She said “this pregnancy is happening.” And those four words were the start of my healing and the beginning of our journey together.

Besides the day I gave my life to Christ and my marriage to your daddy, the day of your birth was the absolute greatest, most memorable day of my life.

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. 1 Samuel 1:27

You were named “Alexander” after Dad…the man who raised your daddy. He was a wonderful, funny, compassionate man. We considered the name “Jordan,” after Michael Jordan, being rabid Bulls fans and well, he being the greatest basketball player ever, it was very tempting; however, we settled on Joshua. Joshua, after the biblical character who was hand picked by God to lead His people. I have always said that you would live up to that name!!! And you have, son!

I had been told that the mother/son bond was special and I had witnessed Dad’s bond with Ma so I thought I knew what to expect, but nothing could have prepared me for the instant love and attachment I felt when I laid my eyes on you, Josh.

I stayed awake the entire time that I was in the hospital…I just couldn’t close my eyes for a second. I held you, memorized you, watched you while you were sleeping. You were such a good baby. I inhaled every moment….enjoyed every moment.

For the first four months of your life, I stayed home with you and when I had to go back to work it was torture leaving you. The only saving grace was that daddy was able to watch you during the day and I rushed home from work every night to spend the last moments of your day with you… to bathe you and nurse you to sleep. You would get so excited when I’d get home from work. You’d kick your little legs and open and close your hands…reaching out to me!!

Another memorable moment of my life was getting pregnant with your sissy and realizing my dream of staying home to raise you and Mariah. It has been a sacrifice, but one that I would do over and over again.

I still recall rough housing with you, our sword fights, hide and go seek, nerf guns, basketball in the living room, teaching you how to roller blade in the house; I recall you literally climbing the walls in the kitchen, and how rowdy you were as I taught you to read….”the cup is on the bed….the cup is on the bed.” I still hear your raspy voice; when I close my eyes I still see you in your Bible Man costume…LOL!!! I see you playing with your Bob the Builder gear on with the TV blasting Bob the Builder. I still see you dancing to Veggie Tales and counting with Sesame Street. I still see you lying on your bed during nap time looking at your Sesame Street stuffed animals (hands behind your head) saying…”Be cool Beeyah Bird; Be cool Melmo…” I recall your first ever friend, AJ…how you loved him and looked up to him; how when he stayed with us you would spend hours in your play room (the den) with him. I recall how you loved your sissy……SO ROUGH!!! Girls are like flowers, girls are like flowers!!! The day you picked Mariah up from her crib and brought her down the stairs to me….”here mama…Ritay is crying,” you said, as you walked carefully down the stairs….wood stairs, in socks – as I held my breath!!!! I recall your first day at preschool and how I dropped you off…you were so happy and ready to make friends and I stayed outside the classroom looking in, teary-eyed…making sure you were okay…praying that the teacher would have patience…and she did. Miss Kelly loved you!! I close my eyes and remember you standing with me during prayer at IHP…always near me…in front of me swaying to worship. I drank it in because I knew the years would pass so fast and I’m so glad I memorized those moments.

I recall your first bullying situation…Spencer in 2nd grade, tripping you and you were both called into the principal’s office and how in the end Spencer became your best friend…You have an easy way about you…you always have…You have always been forgiving and just easy, Josh!!

I recall your first little “crushes…” Truth and Jamie and the little girl at church, was her name Tiffany?,,, who when I looked over at the two of you…you were holding hands during service. Hehehe (Not so funny then.!! ) LOL — you know I was horrified. Hahahaha

I recall your recitals and how composed you always were. “Cool as a cucumber”…I would say. You would walk up there, confident and prepared and knock out your piece and my heart would just soar with pride. I recall what a strong baseball player you were…how nervous I was whenever you came up to bat…how I’d be praying in the stands when it was your turn to pitch; your cannon of an arm when you’d make the play!

I’m flooded with memories as I type this…..

That all seems like yesterday and now here you are…on the brink of stepping out of our home and into your future. You have been such a joy to parent, Joshua. I could not have dreamed of a better son. I love you with every bit of my being, son!!!!! I love how talented and polite you are; how you are such a great friend; I love hearing from people how much they love you; I love how open you are with me; I love how we have our shows that we watch; I love how you love on daddy…how you two have bonded over music. If you could have seen his face when I told him I was having a boy…if you could have heard his conversations with his friends when he was announcing that he was having a boy. Your daddy loves you so much!! I love how you love on your sissy..how you call her “child.” You have never been jealous of her…you welcomed her into the family and were excited to love on her…HARD!!! I recall being nervous to introduce you to her in the hospital and was so relieved when you burst into the hospital room holding my gift saying, “here ta go mommy.” You walked right over to Mariah and kissed her head while Auntie Eeeah held her. I was so happy that you were happy!! I love your compassion, Josh. How you are such a good friend. How I always hear how you are encouraging to you friends…offering counsel and support. I love how responsible you are; how you never give up…how confident you are that “everything’s going to be all right, mom…I got this.” I somehow believe you!!! J

You are a great kid, Josh. I’ve always said that and I pray that you know that nothing can ever change my love towards you…my love for you is forever!! Even in the hard times…I love you. I love you. I love you!!!!!!!

You know I’m crying as I write this, right? J

I LOVE YOU!!!!!

If this were the last message you ever received from me I would want you to know….

I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have and will always be your greatest cheerleader;

I am on your side;

You have loved me well; have been such a respectable, loving, honoring, son;

I have always and will…until my last breath, pray for you!

You are my favorite son :)!!

You can always come to me and daddy with anything…any time;

Even if I react “passionately”J — there’s nothing that can change my love for you;

I WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT:

God has a plan for your life;

You were called and appointed;

Don’t ever turn your back on God;

He loves you and is for you;

He is real;

His word is true; it is the final authority;

He hears you when you call on Him;

Apart from Him you could do nothing; but with Him you could do all things;

Prayer works!

I WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT:

There is no place you can go that God can’t find you;

No place you can go where His love can’t reach you;

Nothing you can do that can cause Him to give up on you;

I WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT:

A Godly woman loves a man who knows how to lead;

A Godly woman loves her man to pray over her;

A Godly woman loves a man who takes the initiative;

A Godly woman loves a man who loves the Lord;

A Godly woman loves a man who serves the Lord;

A Godly woman will honor you, respect you, be faithful to you…as you love, honor and respect her;

A Godly woman will be loyal to you.

I pray you have had a memorable Kairos, Josh; I pray that the rest of your Senior year will be the best ever; I pray that God reveals His plans for your life and that you embrace them and run full force into your future; I pray God’s protection over you, son; that you would continue to be yielded and teachable; that you would hear the voice of God louder than any other voice you hear and that you obey the first time; that you would never, ever, ever…for one minute doubt my love for you.

You healed my broken heart and filled my life with joy, joy, joy.

I love you my son…..I love you!!

Mommy

My Year-End Rant…You’re Welcome

“Christians are called to ‘not conform to the pattern of this world,’ with its behavior and customs that are usually selfish and often corrupting. Many Christians wisely decide that much worldly behavior is off limits for them. Our refusal to conform to this world’s values, however, must go even deeper than the level of behavior and customs – it must be firmly planted in our minds – ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ It is possible to avoid most worldly customs and still be proud, covetous, selfish, stubborn, and arrogant. Only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our minds are we truly transformed.”

I love the Life Application bible. This quote jumped out at me this morning as I read Romans 12:1-2. I was reminded of the many conversations I have had with believers about the challenge of being a Christian in this world. I recalled the many I have encountered who have white knuckled their way through Christianity, carefully monitoring their behavior and sadly the behavior of those around them. Looking over their neighbor’s wall and calling out their garbage as their own carefully concealed garbage collects on their side. Those who are careful not to drink, smoke and cuss (in public); who pinch their perfect kids under the table to snap them out of their poor behavior and grimace when boy wonder or perfect princess show their humanity in public. The very ones who like the quote above calls out…are prideful, covetous, selfish, stubborn and arrogant…all the while wearing their faith face….whose behavior is locked in and on point for the most part, while their unrenewed minds ultimately unravel, revealing who they really are.

Oh that we would stop white knuckling it and allow transformation to stick and remain. That we would stop acting and start being; that we would wake up and realize how foolish we must look to the world; how much we have been influenced by the world; how much we look like the world.

How freeing it is to acknowledge, admit, repent, receive and live.

No longer white knuckling it…just being transformed.

“Therefore, I urge you (try earnestly or persistently to persuade someone to do something), brothers and sisters (that would be us Christ followers), in view of God’s mercy, (compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm) to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. (Selah – read that again!!) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, (the ways, customs, behaviors of the world) but be transformed (changed…how?) by the renewing of your mind (how? by the Word of God) – THEN you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

God doesn’t want what you have….He wants you! All of you…even your white knuckles!

#rantover

The Odd Woman Under the Tree

UnknownAll summer I watched her watch me, seated in her wheel chair across the street from my house under a shade tree.  I didn’t know where she came from…she would just appear and leave just as quietly and stealthily.  I would catch her eye and smile and drive away wondering what her story was…who was she, where did she live, why was she just parked under a tree?  Even on the hottest of days, there she would sit…watching me as I went about my day.  I have errands to run, not much time to take care of business, certainly no time to cross the street and speak to the odd woman under the tree.

I actually slowed down once as I drove past her and asked her if she wanted a bottle of water.  She shook her head and showed me her water bottle.  I asked her if she was okay and she smiled and nodded.  I told her I’d stop by to speak to her when I returned and she just smiled and waved at me  Of course, she was gone when I returned and so I went about my day…I have errands to run, not much time to take care of business, certainly no time to rush home to speak to the odd woman under the tree.

Yesterday, off my daughter and I went to run some errands and as we pulled out of our driveway I spotted her.  We quickly reached the end of the block and I looked back and saw she was looking our way.  I told my daughter that I would stop to speak to her on the way home….we had errands to run, not much time to take care of business and no time to stop and speak to the odd woman under the tree.  By the time we returned, she was gone.

Today, after church, my daughter and I turned on our street and there she was again and this time I told my daughter that I was going to cross the street to speak to her.  My daughter asked me why and without thinking I said, “I wanna know her name.”   She watched me as I got out of the car.  Her eyes never left mine as I made my way across the street to speak to the odd woman under the tree.  I asked her her name and she answered, haltingly.  I stooped down and asked where she lived and she struggled to find words as she reached for a business card in her purse.  She lived in an assisted living home around two blocks away and she shrugged when I asked her why she was always parked on our street.  I discovered that her loving husband Jack passed away in June and that her heart was broken; I discovered that she had two sons and she just lit up as she spoke of them and her five grandchildren; I discovered that she worked as a secretary until “this” happened.  “This” was a stroke that took away her freedom and had her trapped in a chair.

As our time together drew to a close, I shared with her briefly about the faithfulness of God to heal my body and my broken heart; how He heard the cry of an infertile woman and gave me children.  Her eyes teared up as I asked if I could pray for her. “Please,” she said.  She told me that she was a Jew…and I said “so is Jesus.”  I quoted Jeremiah 29:11 to her and told her God loved her and that now I knew why she was parked on my street. :)  She smiled and bowed her head as I prayed for her, right there across the street from my house under the shade tree.  Our eyes connected one last time and hers were filled with tears.  We embraced and she would not let me go.  When she finally did, she smiled, turned her chair around and slowly made her way down the street….as I watched her go.  Inez is her name….nothing odd about her.  Just an assignment…that’s all!

Flashback Friday

flashback_friday

Flashback Friday…the day folks who forgot to post on Throwback Thursday get a second chance to go back in time. I went back in time to a not so great time. You know it’s a trip when you say “those were the good old days,” and those days were not too long ago. I mean, seriously, I can almost look over my shoulder to those days.

I got hurt in church. That’s a fact…yep, it happened. The truth of the matter is that most ALL of the hurt I’ve sustained as a Christian has been at the hands of Christians. That is what has been on my mind on this fine “Flashback Friday!!”

If I were NOT a Christ-follower, I suspect the hurt would roll off of my back eventually.  I’d be irritated, bitter, hard hearted and unforgiving.  I would write off my oppressors and look forward to the day that they “got theirs,” preferably at the hands of another, but hopefully loud enough for me to hear about it.

If I were a Christ-follower I suspect the hurt may or may not roll off of my back, I’d withdraw, say I have forgiven, but be confused about what forgiveness looked like, and I’d probably be bitter, (if I was being totally honest), skeptical and unwilling to engage ever..period!

I was that hurt, bitter, skeptical unwilling to engage ever..period Christ-follower.  It’s crazy to even type that admission after I type “Christ-follower.”  Following the leader usually makes one look and act like the leader, huh? Not always, at least not in my case and I would venture to say I’m not alone.  When I left church on that last day, I knew it was my last day and I left unannounced, uncelebrated, unnoticed…just like I had arrived.  But I left with a secret, since I had a year to sit in my hurt right there at the scene of the crime.

I was pretty giddy as I got into my car that day.  Freedom feels good!!!  My secret?  Some church was about to be blessed big time.  Some church was about to be the recipient of a family who loved God, loved people and was willing to do whatever it takes to follow the leader…Jesus!!

I purposed in my heart to stay at that church and not take all of that hurt with me.

I had a residue when I left and I had to reprogram my heart and that’s where being stubborn and steadfast worked in my favor.  There was no way I was going to allow people to change or alter my course or rearrange my purpose.  Now, I so recognize the walking wounded and it hurts me in a different way.  I’m saddened because there are so many not plugged in…just roaming, some hoping to re-engage some day, some too embittered to want to try again, some giving up altogether.  This topic keeps showing up within me because I keep running into my brothers and sisters who don a fresh limp…a limp that makes me flash back.

Here’s a great quote I ran across in a study I’m doing in a “Think about it” section….

People we love have a unique capacity to hurt us. We are vulnerable to them in a way we are not vulnerable to others. Sometimes, this vulnerability is so painful that we pull away from connection and close off to others, hoping they won’t be able to hurt us again. But when we do so, we also close ourselves off to experiencing joy, happiness, gladness, and delight with them and even because of them.

What courage it takes to expose our hearts again after we have sustained great hurt. I would venture to boldly say that the people who hurt us were sent to heal us if that hurt drives us to the only One who can heal us.

The truth is that the enemy works the hardest within the walls of the church. There is no way he wants the church to be healthy, whole and free.  That would be too great a threat for him and his kingdom.

Be healed church…move forward.  There is a Body…there is someBody and you are the gift which that Body needs.

 

Gossip

originalRemember the nosey neighbor on “Bewitched?” Her name was Gladys Kravitz. That is the person I envision when I think of a gossip. She made it her business to report on the happenings of the neighborhood. I can still see her whipping back the curtains to get a glimpse of the action.

I recently had a conversation with my sister on the topic of gossip. That conversation has lingered to the point that I asked the Lord to show me the difference between gossip and slander and how it begins. Ask and you shall receive, right?

Gossip begins with something as innocent as idle talk. The scripture that first came to me was 2 Timothy 2:16 “But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.”

Being one who learns best from word pictures, stories, songs, etc., here’s how it was fed to me, using a fictional example of a typical conversation between friends that started out innocently enough, but ended up in a train wreck.

 “Amy:  Hey, I was just thinking about Mary. How is she? She’s always been such a hardworking, nice girl. I really admire her. (Idle talk)

Maya:  Mary had a little lamb and then she had another. And then she had another lamb from a married brother. (Gossip)

Amy:   What??? I had no idea.

Maya:  Yeah, if she would’ve stayed in church like she was raised she would’ve made better choices the first time and not married that loser. Now she’s the neighborhood ___________ chasing after married men. Keep her in your prayers. It’s so sad!” (Slander)

You see how innocently that began?  I even see how Maya’s initial comment was factual, but before she completed her thought that train was already off the track and headed for a wall.  You see why the scripture encourages us to avoid idle talk?  It began as a spark and then just got out of control.

…the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” James 3:5 “but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 OY!!!

When I explained my “findings” to my sister I likened it to a car that sits in idle. It’s on but not going anywhere yet. The minute you move from park to drive you have increased your potential for an accident.

I was challenged recently by someone and our exchange was super peaceful.  As we spoke I kept hearing the Holy Spirit say, “shut it down” and so I did and all was well. Later, I repeated the exchange to someone I dearly love and respect, (perhaps for some insight, maybe for some validation), never divulging any names, but that wasn’t good enough for the Lord, you see. My spirit was checked and immediately I reached out to her and I apologized for sharing the exchange with her. I love our fellowship too much to become familiar enough to go “there.” Oh, the grace she extended to me….that and so many reasons why I love her!

Good grief, what do we talk about then?

I’m thinking that if we habitually fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure and lovely, and admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise, that is what will be deposited in our hearts and will make its way out to the hearer.

And then there’s always the monk life.

Either way, here’s some wisdom that brings this topic home.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” Proverbs 11:12-13

“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler”. Proverbs 20:19

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23

I’m encouraged to kick it up a notch. To listen and redirect conversations that may go south, to watch my words, to season my conversation with kindness only and to avoid being a receptacle for anyone else’s trash.

If you hear I’ve joined a monastery, you will know that I have failed.  :)

 

He Hears…He Sees…He Moves

I’m doing a bible study on prayer and in it, the author writes about the blind man who called out to Jesus.  I paused for a rabbit trail to think about this man who had heard about Jesus, who heard He was passing through and waited. The noise of the crowd told him Jesus was near and so he cried out for Jesus, and then cried even louder when he was hushed. Jesus’ response before He responded stood out to me…four words caught my attention. “And Jesus stood still…” He hears.  Mark 10:49 KJV

In a similar situation, He encountered a woman with a condition which had been plaguing her for years….one which had zapped her energy, depleted her funds and dirtied her name, leaving her homebound and hopeless. She too had heard about Jesus and took a chance, knowing that any attention would likely get her in trouble; however, she knew she needed to reach out to Jesus…just a touch would make a difference. Jesus’ response before He responded stood out to me. “Jesus turned and saw her…” He sees. Matthew 9:22

How is it that in a throng of people pushing and pulling and jockeying for His attention, He was able to hear Bartimaeus? How is it possible with so many tugging at Him and pressing into Him, He was able to sense her touch? What caused Him to move on behalf of those who could do nothing for Him, who had nothing to offer? It was compassion…Compassion moved Jesus, but we cannot overlook the fact that it was faith which stopped Him and caused Him to turn around in the first place.

I’m encouraged knowing that in the midst of noise, be it in the world around me or in my circumstances, He hears the cry of His daughter and stands still to hear my heart. I’m encouraged knowing that He is not too busy to turn to the sound of my voice; to direct His attention to me; to show Himself strong on my behalf…and so I will wait….as He moves.

I’m encouraging you today to cry out, call out, step out, reach out, no matter what, in spite of whatever, and know that the God of compassion, God of mercy, God of comfort is waiting to hear your voice today, waiting for you to reach out, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. You are His son…You are His daughter!

He hears…He sees…He moves.

“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.” Psalm 116:1-2 NLT

A Hard Conversation

I’m not much of a news watcher, unlike my honey who actually records the World News.  I figure the powers that be pick and choose what they wish to report and it’s usually not good.  Shamefully, I get most of the happenings from Facebook news articles, in between the breakups, pregnancies, baby pics and jokes.   I refrain from watching the news before I go to sleep because I like to drift off on a good note; however, such was not the case last night.  I have yet to turn on the news to hear what’s going on in Ferguson, but you would have to live under a rock not to have heard the happenings there.

I scanned the feeds last night and between all of the ice bucket challenges and laughter I was stopped cold by the image of Michael Brown dead in the middle of the street with what looked like blood pouring from his head.  I read the article and just cried.  Cried for his mom, especially and what it must feel like to see your child in that condition.  I knew a conversation would have to be had in our household…one I sincerely dreaded.

I grew up in Gary, Indiana and our family was the first non-white family to color Polk Street and while I was too young to remember, I recall stories told of my parents being judged by the color of their skin; however, I have never experienced overt racism, unless you count the time that Judy tried to whack me from behind with a two by four because of my “good hair.”  Ironically, we were the last non-blacks to leave our neighborhood in Gary and it was by force.  We were no longer welcomed so I guess you can say my folks/our family experienced racism coming and going and on we moved to Hammond where, again, we were the first non-white family to color the neighborhood.

My folks didn’t focus on skin color, although they were a bit concerned about the opinion of others where race mingling was concerned, so imagine the drama that ensued when “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” became a reality for them when my husband (then boyfriend) pulled up to meet them for the first time.  They survived the introduction and grew to love my husband so all was well in my world…and then came Joshua.

To this day my husband and I have not experienced racism as an interracial couple; however, I clearly recall after giving birth to our son, I had a “knowing in my spirit” is the best way I could describe it, that I needed to be fully aware that I was raising a black man.  I shelved the thought in the hopes that this world would support the existence of our bi-racial son.  I don’t feel that as much these days as I witness the continued unraveling of this world that we live in.

I sort of began the discussion when Josh was around 4 or 5 by building his character, reminding him who he was in Christ; praying scripture over him…that he would obey them that rule over him; submit to authority; use wisdom.  I instructed him on the importance of words like “no,” and “stop.”  I was (and still am) intolerant when it came to bad attitudes, willful disobedience, disrespect.  I nipped all foolishness in the bud in a hurry because I was well aware that once he left my care, folks on the outside would not tolerate his poor behavior and mommy wouldn’t be there to act as “clean up woman.”  Can I say that this is enough for him to get by in the climate of today?  Probably not, because he is still a black man.  But it is a start.

This morning I asked him if he had heard about Michael Brown and he said no.  My boy who lives in the suburbs, who attends private school, who is boisterous and free with his friends and unaware of color, may just be in a bubble that I took a stab at this morning.  I explained the situation and broke it down to him and it broke my heart.  His eyes grew wide and then pensive and then I began to rub salve on the wound by telling him not to lose his confidence, but use wisdom; not to lose respect, but use honor; not to fear, but to respect….and the conversation will continue.

Today I am praying for those who have been affected by this tragedy, including the officer and his family.  I’m praying for heart changes, for peace, for healing and reconciliation, for restoration and trust.  I’m praying for parents to step up and instruct their children, parent their children…not allow the streets, the schools, the churches to parent their children.  I’m praying for protection for our children as they navigate this “new world” that we live in.  Lord Jesus, come!

Still…

I turned over this morning, opened my eyes and there he was staring at me with the sweetest of smiles…a smile I have woken up to for 28 years. “Happy Anniversary honey…do you wanna go this morning.” I thought about sleeping in on this glorious Saturday morning, but instead my feet hit the floor and in minutes we were out the door headed to the mountain for our daily walk, run, prayer, hike. This is new for us since I’m an avid exercise spectator. There is nothing cute about hopping, grunting, sweating in public, but I’ll do it on the mountain with my honey, coz he asked me to and because there are no witnesses…no one I know, anyway.

This morning I fell behind and listened as he prayed. My heart felt a tug as he prayed for me and us and ours. I listened as he thanked the Lord for his wife, I was grateful as he washed me with the water of the Word, I was touched to hear how much he loves, honors and respects me…still.

I had to step it up to catch up to him so that I could pray for him. He held my hand as I covered him in prayer and from time to time I felt him squeeze my hand in agreement and appreciation.  We covered our wedding party in prayer and then focused on the marriages of those we know and then we reminisced on our time together and thanked the Lord some more.

As we climbed steep hills and cautiously made our way down, he much more gracefully than I — OY!!! —  as we jogged around bends, kicked up dust and navigated around rocks, uneven pavement and land mines which litter the path, compliments of “Mr. Ed,” I likened the path to our marriage. There have been mountains to climb that have been tiring and there have been times where we’ve slipped and skidded our way down, at times expecting great injury,  but landing safely anyway. There have been times where we have grown weary…weary from navigating those rough terrains, tired of the journey…tired of the uneven paths, the roads to nowhere, the dirt we’ve encountered, the dirt we’ve slung, the cr*p we’ve stepped in and still…

Here we are, 28 years later still taking those mountains, still slipping and sliding, still side stepping treacherous paths, still dusting the dirt from our shoes…still doing life together.  Loving one another…still.

Today I am grateful….grateful that the Lord knew that I would need a strong, silent, PATIENT, kind, diligent, loving man.  Grateful that we were wise enough to figure out that we could never climb any mountain or navigate any path without God being a partner in our partnership; grateful that God so loved me, that He chose that man for me and grateful that that man is in love with me…still!

Happy Anniversary honey. Here’s to us.
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Just When You Think They’re Not Listening…

Day one of my daughter’s high school religion class made for plenty of conversation around the dinner table yesterday. She was a little too concerned about religion class…well actually, she’s been concerned about geometry, lit, history, spanish and geography, but strangely enough she is so prepared for drama (imagine MY daughter dramatic?) She can’t wait for lunch and nutrition break and she’d be running with the cross country team at 6:00 a.m. except that her hair would be a “hot mess” afterwards. “This is the first week of school, mom!!” That’s my girl!!

Anyway, she really did have what she considers to be a legitimate concern regarding religion. She is attending a Catholic “College Prep” high school and as such, this school is super big on open communication, independent thinking, choices, responsibility and such, which is a beautiful thing and I have seen our son flourish in this setting in the last two years.

Yesterday during religion class kids spoke up about their beliefs and some were bold about the fact that they do not believe or weren’t sure what they believed, while there was the one who said he was searching. My daughter said it was strange to sit in a class room where there wasn’t unity in that area and she was grieved. “Oh boy,” I said…”welcome to the real world. Now that is a foretaste of college, for real!” They have been given an assignment to present a song, a poem, or story which would be “meditative” in nature and to end their presentation with a prayer. She said she was excited to share whatever the Lord puts on her heart. She asked me to pray for her.

When it was my turn to encourage my girl, I told her that it’s okay to question…how else would you find answers. It’s ok to be grieved, but not okay to judge where others are in their process. I shared with my girl that the good news is that she was tweaked by the conversation and the great news is that she is looking forward to her turn at bat and is praying about how best to present her beliefs.

Today as I recalled this conversation I prayed for my children, as they are closer and closer to being launched out into the world. I made a mental note to start discussing with them what they believe and why. I recalled that since they were too young to understand, I had been praying that they would not be tossed and turned by the philosophies of man or man’s doctrines, but that they would be rooted and grounded in God’s word. I recalled that I have prayed that they would eschew evil and do good; that they would be led by the spirit of God and not by their emotions or flesh; that the angel of the Lord would be encamped around them; that God loved them and had an extraordinary plan for their future; that they would know Him and be known by Him; they would love Him and serve Him.

I can’t help but feel a bit panicked at the thought of them leaving the nest. God, have I prepared them enough? Am I prepared enough to let them go? Will they remember lessons learned? Will they serve You? Will they make choices that line up with Your will, plan and purpose for them?

And then I am quieted, knowing that they are His children on loan to me and those areas that I could have been stronger in will be filled in by Him. I am at peace knowing that just when I thought they were not listening, they were and are. Thank You Jesus!

Let Me Love Without Brakes With No Breaks

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 The Message

I came across this scripture this morning.  I giggled at the first half and then quickly sobered up and leaned in to grasp the admonishment contained in the last sentence.  As I did, I thought of my husband and kids…those closest to me.  The ones who get to see all of me, the real me…the ones who get the full monty…the good, the bad and yes, the ugly me.  I got so checked…and then I became so grateful.

Grateful that God so loves me that He checks, then redirects me.  It’s so easy to step out of our houses and enter the world wearing our “faith” face, our “everything is peachy in my world” face, our “I love everyone” face and then return home tired and dusty, remove the mask and take for granted the very blessings God has given us.  The family hand picked by the Master.

Lately I’ve noticed how rapidly my children have grown, how in a blink they have matured and how I am “seconds” away, it seems, to being an empty nester.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!!!!!????

I have questioned myself, doubted myself and cried out to God asking Him to slow down the process….let me squeeze every minute that I have left with my babies; let me have a few do-overs. Let them remember all the good and forget all those forgettable moments.  The ones reserved only for the ones I “love!!!”  :/

Let me not be so busy and overwhelmed that I miss connecting with my husband.

Let me not sweat the small stuff…those things that look large at the time, but with time fade to nothingness.  Let me love them deeply, lavishly, unashamedly.  Let me focus on each of them individually and not focus on what is wrong, but on everything that is so right.

Let me live generously and graciously toward them, Lord, the way you live toward me.  Let me be slow in anger and quick in forgiveness; let my words be uplifting, encouraging, healing; let me show them mercy and kindness; let my love not be conditional…let me love without brakes and with no breaks.

Just the way You love me.

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