Armoured Up

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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

I’m Overwhelmed

images“I’M OVERWHELMED!!!!”  That was my mantra all summer.  You see, my husband had this grand idea earlier this year and the idea was birthed in April and delivered to our home in June.  Mocha, a busy, hungry, nippy, rowdy, disobedient chocolate lab puppy was added to the Britt mix and she was cute…

for two weeks…

and I soon found out that everyone’s promises to pitch in, to clean after, to feed, to play with, our newest family member was….um, not so true! So this family plan became my project and I soon became overwhelmed!!!

Fourth of July came and there were fireworks, but not the beautiful kind! I was hot and popping off all right.

By August, I was fit to be tied and by then it was clear that my next ministry would be a prison ministry if I didn’t get away.  I was overwhelmed and everyone, including the dogs felt it.

On the spur of the moment, I decided to use a friend’s buddy pass to go to Chicago to see my mom.  I could not wait to get out of dodge that morning in August.  I just about jumped out of the car as it was still rolling in order to get into the airport. I  thought it strange that the airport was so crowded that early and my worst fears were realized when I couldn’t get on the 6:00 a.m. flight…or the 6:30…or the 7…or the 8…or 9…the 10…the 11…the 12 or the 1.  (DON’T EVER USE A BUDDY PASS DURING THE SUMMER!!)

I met some amazing people there while I waited, like the Christian public school teacher with the wayward daughter with Asperger Syndrome and the son who had turned his life around, had joined the military and was coming home before being shipped off to Afghanistan – (I know she must have felt overwhelmed); and the off-duty flight attendant who explained why the airline workers were so angry all the time…no raises in 17 years (that can be overwhelming!!).  She was desperate to get on a flight to Chicago to see her mom, knowing that the chances were great that her mom wouldn’t remember her anymore (how overwhelmed must she have been); and the mom who had followed me to each gate after she wasn’t able to get on with her two small boys.

I found myself applauding for each person as they made their way onto a flight that I couldn’t get on.

As I limped away back home I realized that each woman I spoke to that day had much more to be overwhelmed about than I did.

My amazing husband surprised me the following day with a paid ticket to Chicago where I spent a glorious week loving on my mom and being catered to and coddled by my two greatest cheerleaders…my sisters.   The day before I returned to Los Angeles, my sister introduced me to some new music.  The title of one of the tracks caught my attention and I was about to gain a whole new perspective on the words “I’m Overwhelmed.”

…God is amazing.

Yes, indeed…I returned from my trip with a new perspective on what being overwhelmed really looks like.

I delight myself in You

Captivated by Your beauty

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

Led by the Spirit Lifer

imageslif•er
n. Informal.
1. a person sentenced to or serving a term of life imprisonment.
2. a person committed to a professional lifetime career in the military.

Lifer…I’ve heard people use that expression as it relates to their careers and I’ve also heard it used at a church where I was once a member.   After reading the above definition, I’m not sure that I much care for that term, actually!!

Recently, my husband commented that he really thought we would be “lifers” at our last church…so did I.  Our family is faithful.  We tend to stick and stay…same doctors, same supermarket, same dog groomer, same hairstylist (for me), you get the picture!  We’re pretty stable and loyal once we find a place to “hang our hat.”  As far as church is concerned, we are super vigilant and purpose to be loyal, not only because it is right and for our own good, but because there are two sets of eyes watching our every move and recording every decision.  We’ve never been the sort to church hop…we don’t even do much church visiting and if we do, our first stop is always our home church.  That’s just how we do it.

Last week my daughter was traipsing down memory lane and asked me how long we attended our previous church and with my response I started wondering if we would ever be lifers at a ministry.  For a split second (and believe me it was just that fast) I wondered if something was wrong with uprooting the family after just a few years…(5 years and two weeks to be exact:).

This past weekend I gained a whole new perspective on that lifer business as we witnessed Pastor Mike welcome a batch of newbies to partner up with him and the church to make a difference in the world, to grow, to share their gifts in what he phrased as “this Jesus movement.”  I love how he phrased that and I especially loved how he prayed over them.  He said something in that prayer that caught my ear…he prayed that for however long they were partnered at this church (whether a few years or many) that they would grow in their knowledge and love for the Lord.  Pastor Mike apparently does not expect these partners to be “lifers;” however, he does pray that during the time at the church, that they grow up and go out strong in order to make a difference wherever they go.

This morning his prayer came to mind again and I sensed the Holy Spirit showing me that I am a lifer only in the sense that I am committed to my marriage for life.  I would imagine if one goes into any situation with a plan for life (other than marriage), they would be excluding the possibility of being led by the Holy Spirit, thereby being limited by their planning.

Tonight when my girl comes home, I will explain this lifer deal to her and her brother so that they would understand the importance of being led by the Spirit of God…not emotions or people, or habit, etc.  I will reiterate that the Holy Spirit’s leading is always followed by peace and order and I will let them know that we will be officially making our new church our home church this summer.

I’m praying that we would hear the voice of the Lord and be led by His Spirit; that our decisions would be in line with His will, plan and purpose; that our intentions would always mirror His heart for those whom He places in our path and that He be glorified always and in every way…in Jesus’ name!!

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.
Psalm 37:23

Stay Out of the Chocolate Factory

The best advice never taken was given by me to a mentee…”Stay Out of the Chocolate Factory.”

This morning I lingered in the book of Judges reading about brother Samson and his troubles.  His life began with the most promising words, “So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson, and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.  And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him…”  God was going to use this man of promise to defeat his people’s enemies, but a funny thing happened on the way to his destiny…his flesh got in the way.  What in flames was Samson doing traipsing through a vineyard anyway?  Note to self…when entering the enemy’s camp, expect to encounter some enemies!!! DUH!  It seems as though instead of changing his atmosphere, the atmosphere changed him…getting caught up with the locals, eating, drinking, touching, playing house with everything and everyone that caused his demise.  What is this tendency that we have to hear what is right for us, to be given a roadmap loaded with blessings in exchange for obedience; to be empowered by His Spirit, only to end up living out Plan B, which usually works out for our good (God is merciful); however, it ain’t Plan A.

Once upon a time I encountered a college aged girl at Target…she was a checker and she was checking me out in more ways than one.   We chatted a bit and as I headed out the door, I heard the Holy Spirit instruct me to return, give her my phone number and offer to stay in touch.  She was so appreciative and even said she had prayed for a mentor like me and wished we could stay in touch.  That day marked the beginning of our Mr. Miyagi/Daniel-san relationship (reference to Karate Kid…one of my faves)!! 🙂

I poured in, she received and so it was with us as she became a fixture around our home.  She was moving right along making great life choices..doing well in school, working and serving in church.  At one point she “confessed” her guilt over getting a little intimate with her boyfriend when he was in town.  It happened again another time and this time the enemy worked her over, convincing her that hers was a sin too great for her to be serving in church.  She shared that intimacy was a weakness for her, but that she was fighting to maintain her virginity.  I once again counseled her and prayed her off of that ledge and after a time, she was serving in church again and life was back to normal.

That summer, she announced her intent to spend some time reconnecting with her dad back east (where her boyfriend lived).  She would be staying with her boyfriend and his mother.  (Insert sound of needle being scratched over a record here.)  “Not a good idea,” I said which was followed by an assurance that she had learned her lesson.  They had made a promise to each other to wait until they were married to consummate their union, blah, blah, blah.  Her mind was made up and there was no changing it.  She left with my advice ringing in her ears….

I said something like this…”Say you have a weakness for chocolate, let’s say a chocolate easter bunny…one of those giant ones.  You’ve been told that it’s not good for you and you really should stay away from it because the temptation would be too great to eat the whole thing and that could hurt!  You ignore that wisdom thinking you could control yourself and so you nibble at the ear and before you know it that ear is gone and that wasn’t so bad, so you fix your eyes on the second ear….before you know it, you’ve thrown caution to the wind and have scarfed Peter Rabbit down in one sitting.  My point is this…You cannot go near the chocolate factory…chocolate is your weakness so you need to stay away…in fact, you need to stay out of the chocolate factory altogether.”

She said okay, we hugged, she left and the next time I heard from her was via telephone (long distance) early one Sunday morning.  She called to say hi and to tell me about a message on forgiveness she had heard at church.  She said she had to call to forgive me for hurting her.  (insert crickets here) – She was offended at my chocolate factory analogy and was holding it against me.  When it was my turn to speak, I told her I stood by the analogy and challenged her to prove me wrong.

Two months later, I was at a bookstore and saw her seated on the floor reading.  I approached her and we embraced and her body temperature gave away her secret.  We chatted a moment and I walked away only to have her run after me to tell me one more thing that I already knew.  Her baby was due in April and she was no longer with her boyfriend.  As it turned out, there were things she discovered about him that had she known, would have altered her choices.  I changed the subject and told her I was so happy she chose to keep her baby and to prepare for a hard time, but the Lord would see her through. (She had no real support system.)  She said she recognized that things would be difficult but figured this was God’s will for her.  I had to tell her that choosing life is always God’s will, but the timing of it all was hers.  I left her that day feeling so bad for her and months later she came to mind again and I reached out once again.

That turned out to be a divine appointment since she needed the support.  I held her hand through the last weeks of her pregnancy and was blessed to be present  to hold her hand once again as she pushed that life into the world.  I was there during the early days and moved on once I was certain that she could remove the training wheels and ride on her own.

Five years later, she has moved back east to be closer to a larger support system which includes her son’s father.  They aren’t a family, but he is involved.  She’s a great mother and is on track for a successful life — as a single mother, for now but having great hopes for her future.  I’m certain that she wouldn’t have changed a thing about her journey thus far, as the love she feels for that boy has caused her to forget the difficult times she has endured…well, maybe she would have considered the timing of her choices..and maybe her choice of father and every other “maybe” she probably has to live with.

For the longest time, I thought that my mentoring days were over, until a whole new little crop sprung up around me.  I fought it for a while until the Holy Spirit encouraged me about choices…everyone has them and it’s up to them to receive the truth or not; it’s up to me to be prayed up and not offer my opinion…just the truth.

How many of us forego His way for our way and settle for Plan B when Plan A was His desire for us?  I’m grateful for His mercy, His kindness and His forgiveness when we do lose our way.  I’m grateful for lessons learned for the next time…and there will always be a next time!

Be Thankful!!

Yesterday as I was preparing for church I was reminded of a song I had written during a “blue” period entitled “Thank You.”  Odd title when you’re going through it, huh?  During service, Psalm 100:4 was quoted and I caught it and saw it….”Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him and bless His name.”  I saw myself entering through those gates and approaching the Holy of Holies where the presence of the Lord was contained in that day.  I recognized the need to enter in; the desire to get lost in His presence, but knew before He made a move (though He was hovering) I must make the first move, by inviting Him in with my praise and with thanksgiving.  He inhabits the praise of His people and while His people offer praise and thanksgiving, the enemy is brought to a standstill.

This morning I woke up with thanksgiving in my heart and when I sat down in my prayer area, before my daughter could fill my ears with requests for the day, I closed my eyes and just began to thank Him.  I thanked Him for those things I take for granted; things I forget to thank Him for…my vision…my hearing…my sense of smell, taste, touch.  I thanked Him for my husband who after 25 years still pursues me; for my children who honor me; for my family who loves me; for my friends who celebrate me.  I thanked Him for my church, my Pastors (past and present); my home, which is more than a house with stuff in it.  I thanked Him for His word which is so rich and powerful, unchanging and everlasting.  I then began to intercede as the Holy Spirit led.  I never asked for a thing for myself. He knows me and knows what I have need of today.  Today my time was set apart to thank Him first….to bless Him first.  He is so worthy to be praised!

Thank You

To the One who sits enthroned above the heavens
To the One who was and is and is to come
To the One and only God You are so worthy to be praised
I thank You Lord, thank You, thank You Lord

You are the lifter of my head
My defender, my strong tower
You cover me with Your mighty hand
And when I’m weak I am made strong
by Your love and by Your power
Thank You Lord….thank You, thank You Lord

Think About It (The power of words)

My honey asked me to do him a favor and type out the lyrics to the songs for his new cd. As I was doing that, I got stuck on the fourth song…”Think About It.” The memories once again flooded me as I revisited what I know without a doubt the Lord had given me on that day.

Johnny wanted me to write a love song. He parked the car at the beach (for inspiration, I guess) and cued the track as he and the kids got out of the car to go play while I wrote. I was not in a “love song” kinda mood. I wrote this song from Johnny’s standpoint about me/us/our relationship at the time. It was on the rocks and I was on the verge of checking out emotionally (and had the Lord not intervened, a physical disconnection would have surely followed). Johnny was hanging on and trying to keep it together. I know the song is special, because I recall my state of mind as I put pen to paper, and how I could have written it, and why, was indeed a mystery that unfolded only after the last line had been written. After it was written, I read it, then realized how much that man loved me/us/our family and how vital our union was. He never had to say a word…

We must talk about it…what’s your take on love
We shouldn’t have to do without it baby
Tell me whatcha thinkin’ of
We shouldn’t have to fake it…no
Nothing more is true
Coz since we’ve been together
There ain’t nothing we can’t do
And all I ever do is think about you
No one else will do
I love you
All I think about is what you mean to me…oh yeah
We must think about it
The writing’s on the wall
What should have been forever
Is not lasting at all
And all I ever do is think about you
Everything we have shouldn’t drift away
All I think about is what you mean to me…oh yeah
I could never live without your love
I can’t exist without your love
Don’t wanna be without your love
I know that I can’t make it without you
My love for you is real
A love so strong I can’t reveal
The depth of feelings that I feel
I want you now…I need you now
The only thing that matters is..
That we give our all, you see
We are only human, and
It’s okay to fall, but what we gonna do about it baby
We are all we have
Let’s keep our love together
A chance to make it last
A chance to make it last, babe

I thank God for the gift of song, words, family, love and Him.

(“Think About It” from the ‘Feels So Good’ CD due out this summer
Artist:  My honey:) Johnny Britt)

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