Rhymes with “witch” – a daughter-in-law’s journey

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A tender-hearted olive shoot and grandson

A tender-hearted olive shoot and grandson

Under his breath, he muttered the word that rhymes with witch but starts with a “B.”

Only one person heard it

My youngest son

We were going to a wedding in Indiana

I was in the passenger seat, clueless, in a celebration dress

Quite honestly, I was being silly

It had been a stressful day.

But after the nuptials, on the way back to the hotel,

My youngest olive shoot says he’s in massive pain

Really sick, violently ill

We go to urgent care because Ike’s abdomen is cramping

And that’s when I learn the burden he had been carrying

Of course he felt sick to his stomach!

I mean what do you say or do when your grandpa calls your mom a cuss word and you’re the only one who hears it???

That incident happened three years ago and I’d be lying if I told you this didn’t create a rift between him (not my son, of course!) and me. I knew we couldn’t confront him about disrespecting me and putting our teenage son in a very awkward position. So we have sucked it up.

But I have kept my distance not to be hurt again. Plus I haven’t wanted my sons to feel that kind of slicing pain.

"Heavenly Father, sustain us all during this time of great suffering."

“Heavenly Father, sustain us all during this time of great suffering.”

But now here we are

The man has a brain disease

And he needs me.

So does my husband.

I can only do this because of Jesus.

Left to my own selfish abilities, I would have given up. I bruise easily.

But through Christ and with some distance and education behind me, I think that moment was just another sign that there has been a growing problem.

And that man who called me the word that rhymes with witch but starts with the letter “B.”

Guess what I’m calling him now more than I ever have done in my over 25 years of marriage?

I’m calling him

Dad ❤

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Five minute Friday – brave

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photo copy 2Why just typing about the subject of bravery is well, brave.

My heartbeat is increasing with each.word.placed.

An idea has been swirling in my head for a while now and I’m afraid. I scarcely allow myself to ponder this and now I’m nearing the moment of revealing it to you.

A sample of the things I used this week. I feel happy in the kitchen.

A sample of the things I used this week. I feel happy in the kitchen.

What if my idea succeeds? What if it’s a total failure? What’s my motivation? Do I have the physical, financial, emotional resources needed to make it work?

Speaking to over 50,000 teenagers about saving sex for marriage was brave. Sharing incredibly personal stories about my past was something I asked the Lord to help me with every time I did it and that was for nearly eight years.

But now the Lord is placing, (I think) an idea which scares me as much as the first time I entered a high school classroom full of very skeptical kids.

My dining room

My dining room

I’m thinking about opening my home to encourage women with cooking and hospitality. Not as a money making idea, not to sell any kitchen gadgets or products, but just to encourage women in the art of domesticity. This is something so very close to my essence as a wife, mother and homemaker.

I think about this idea when I am chopping red cabbage or stirring up a homemade salad dressing in the kitchen. When I’m roasting poblano peppers or making a pretty table setting for my family, I feel this urge to open my home and show others how to do it. I’m so not an expert which is why I’m afraid to try.

When I think about going forward, I bravely ask God, “Is this what you want me to do?” It’s sad that I don’t know any of my neighbors, what if they reject me? So many questions and doubts but yet an eagerness and an unction to try.

Writing for five minutes is a treasure. Do it!

Writing for five minutes is a treasure. Do it!

Should I do it? What is the brave thing you are contemplating?

Check out this word party. This might be the brave thing you need to do!

Five Minute Friday – Cherish

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You have five minutes to write, join us and feel the spirit move!

You have five minutes to write, join us and feel the spirit move! Check it out here!

About 10 years ago, the Lord placed a deep longing in my heart. My boys were entering stages in life where their voices were changing, pimples were rearing their nasty blackheads, muscles were growing, I could see girls were checking them out as if they were tasty bits of candy.

God has used my story to speak into my sons' lives. I never would have expected anything good to come out of my regretful decisions but thankfully I AM NOT GOD!

God has used my story to speak into my sons’ lives. I never would have expected anything good to come out of my regretful decisions but thankfully I AM NOT GOD!

I wanted to give them a vision about sex that I had never properly learned. As a result, I squandered that gift from God time and time again. When I looked at my guys, I saw their potential and power and the fact that I forsook this treasure during my formative years.

Was it possible to teach my olive shoots a better way? Could I even dare to suggest (along with the Hubs) that our boys, virile and mighty, wait to have sex until they were married? It’s in the Bible and all but could we have the audacity to encourage them that to realize that their bodies were to be cherished? I mean, they are guys after all!

I have often inquired of the Lord why did He only give my sons to raise? His replies are deep and personal but one of them that I wish to share with you is that Jesus gave me a responsibility. He has said, “Teach those guys about Me. Train them up with everything you’ve got! Teach your olive shoots that every single part of them is worthy. Instruct them in my ways even if they are counter-culture and difficult. ”

I really hope I don't get killed for posting this picture! They still have tender hearts and strong muscles.

I really hope I don’t get killed for posting this picture! They still have tender hearts and strong muscles.

Treasure God's Word, orange hair, freckle face olive shoot.

Treasure God’s Word, orange hair, freckle face olive shoot.

As I contemplate the word “cherish” as it applies to talking about this sensitive subject, I feel that the Lord is pleased with this aspect of my parenting. They are 22, 18 and 16, so far, so good.

We are not a perfect family. My olive shoots are now 22, 18 and 16 and their paths have a few crooked places but I am blessed to see that they value their purity. They are cherishing something I did not. Bless them, O Lord. Bless them. Amen.

“Thank you, Cindy”

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I took this picture just before going to meet with Charlotte. I had no idea what to expect.

I took this picture just before going to meet with Charlotte. I had no idea what to expect.

I began my career as a stay-at-home mom when my youngest olive shoot was 18 months old. I had experienced a spiritual conversion to Christianity in December 1997 and instantly felt the Lord beckon me to be more present with my husband and family.

What I didn’t know is that just before leaving the corporate world, apparently I had made a profound impact on a person’s life. Honestly I only have a vague recollection of the small effort I exerted. A competent professional was deserving of the referral I offered. For me it was no big deal, a no-brainer. But for Charlotte, it was life-changing. Don’t we all want to positively influence others and make a difference?

Today, I’m privileged to have Charlotte as a guest blogger. I’m sharing her words with you today to encourage YOU.

Charlotte carefully wrapped a beautiful gift for me. She even carefully picked the ribbon.

Charlotte carefully wrapped a beautiful gift for me. She even carefully picked the ribbon.

Now, here’s Charlotte…

In 1997, Cindy recommended me to one of her corporate clients. Fifteen years later, I am still providing consulting services for that company. My sincere thanks to Cindy for the referral and for her confidence in me and my business. I met with her a few weeks ago to celebrate the 15 years and to give her a special gift. As I reflected on the great gift she gave me in 1997, I thought of these “Three R’s”:

Receive – Through Cindy’s generosity, I was given an opportunity to receive. It was clear that I could never repay her for what she did for me. Yet I could pray for her, for peace and prosperity in her life. In addition to the gift of the referral, it is a gift to be able to receive without any strings attached.

Remember – I am intentional about remembering those who have blessed my life and my business. Cindy’s name remains on that list. Though I could never repay Cindy for her generosity, I do take time to remember her and to express my appreciation. This year when we met, I gave her a gift of art and it was a total surprise. We shared updates with each other and through our laughter and tears, we remembered, reflected, and relaxed.

I just sat there stunned at the kindness. I had no idea.

I just sat there stunned at the kindness. I had no idea.

Repeat – Another way to express my appreciation for the referral from Cindy is to make sure I support others by making referrals, connecting people, and cheering them on as they pursue their dreams. Each time I do so at the company I mentioned, Cindy’s one act of generosity in 1997 continues to be shared with others.

This is Charlotte!

This is Charlotte!

Thank you, Cindy. You have made a big difference in my life, my family, and my business. May God continue to bless you and your family today and always.

With a grateful heart,
Charlotte

Whether you are a professional career person, a retiree, a college student or a stay at home mom with a side business selling soap nuts and stuff (um, that would be me!), employ the three “R’s” more often. Your efforts, however seemingly insignificant they may seem at the time, can bless others in ways you never imagined. Expressing gratitude can help move someone from the miry pit to a place of hope. Charlotte did that for me and I guess I did the same for her. Blessings replete with potential and healing await, truly!

What “R” are you going to do today?

Charlotte Purvis is a communication coach and highly rated professional speaker. Since 1985, she has partnered with individuals and organizations seeking to take their communication skills, customer service, and presentation styles to the next level. She’s also a lovely and generous person I call friend. To contact Charlotte, here’s a link  and her email  charlotte@purviscommunications.com. 

Aaron’s aggravated appendix

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Awkward fun at the hospital

Awkward fun at the hospital

The appendix is a fairly useless organ but it sure can wreak havoc. If you are planning appendicitis during your college career, remain well hydrated and carry an extra dose of humor for the journey. You also might want to finish all your important papers too. Just sayin.

My ministry-minded olive shoot is at a hospital in Chicago. Yesterday in the late afternoon, Aaron began to experience severe abdominal pain. His buddies took him to the Emergency Room and following a CT scan, Aaron learned his appendix is unhappy. Soon it will vacate its home.

Let the fun begin?!

Let the fun begin?!

It stinks being so far away from my OS right now but thanks to social media, I can see Aaron and his crew made the most of a stinky situation. His friends brought him to the hospital and had already purchased him a Get Well Soon balloon. The balloon and Aaron’s buddy, Ethan have been his constant companions.

Aaron’s appendix is/was kinda dumb – can’t even spell himself! #gottago @RIPuvileveriform

Aaron will have surgery in the next few hours and probably be discharged tomorrow. I praise the Lord for his goodness and how He has worked out all of the details in advance. He has surrounded my olive shoot with a caring community and a wacky bunch of friends which is exactly what Aaron needs and what the Great Physician ordered.

I learned that sometime in the middle of the night, one of Aaron’s friends even created a Twitter account on behalf of Aaron’s failing vermiform.

A few moments ago, Moody Bible called to check in on Aaron and to make sure I knew of his condition. Since I’ve had a son at a military academy who had ACL surgery at West Point last year and now an olive shoot at a Bible university, I have no idea if this is how the rest of the colleges handle medical matters. 100% of my over 18-year-old OS have had surgery during college. Ike, if you’re reading this blog post, Mama would  really appreciate it if you changed the stats when it’s your time to get your degree.

It has done this mama much good to trust in the Lord and rely on the mighty ways He can transcend the miles and distance.

T(h)anks for the memories

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Last week I began a small business called Olive Shoot Institute. Since January, I have been faithfully using a 100% biodegradable, organic laundry detergent called soap nuts. Now I’m selling those delightful non-edible nuts/berries along with a host of other cleaning supplies for personal and home use. Got me a Olive Shoot Institute facebook page too!

Just a sample of the products we are offering. I love doing this.

Seriously if you have known me for the last six months, I have probably talked to you about soap nuts. I don’t want to be one of those people who deluge friends and family with endless convos only about the products they are selling because that gets old but it’s exciting to begin a new endeavor. Whoever said that my OS are the only ones who get to branch out this year? Seriously!

So now my life duties include maintaining a website, shipping products and talking about the merits of soap nut stuff. This in addition to sending my middle OS off to college at Moody Bible Institute and the orange hair, freckle face OS beginning sophomore year in high school. While the younger OS are in the throes of transitioning, praise the Lord, Nate has adjusted to life away from West Point and as an Army officer at Fort Benning. To hear the voice of a happy child, be it the high-pitched squeak of a little boy or the deeper, richer tones from a young man, ah, it’s like massaged kale salad – zesty, fresh and satisfying. If you know me, you also know I am a BIG kale fan!

Nate sent me this picture of a little sumpin/sumpin he was making. Couscous with fresh tomatoes and feta! Impressive my little man!

Nate and I bond marvelously over food and domestic life. He talks to the Hubs about politics and tanks and recants to me the lovely meals he is preparing for himself and his housemates. It’s a good compromise. My 2LT is also a Dave Ramsey fan (so are we) and he follows many of Dave’s principles.

So when he moved to Georgia, Nate promptly got on Craig’s List, found a washer and dryer for only $100 and with nary a second guess, bought it.

How many guys send their moms a picture of their washing machine? And how many guys post a picture of their dead washing machine on facebook? I’m pretty sure there’s only one and I gave birth to him!

The guy was so proud of himself and talk about convenient! He loved being able to throw his stinky Soldier clothes in the wash and not have to traipse his clothes to a laundromat. But last week, the stupid thing died. On facebook, Nate bemoaned, “The spinner of my washing machine is now sideways. It has always sounded like a small man was in there but ran like a champion. Unfortunately those days are over.” Another person put it this way, “actually, it sounded like a small man was getting murdered in there ;-)”

So in memory of my OS’s short-lived first appliance purchase and in honor his thriftiness,  I’m saying “Tanks.” I mean, “thanks” to my readers
and I’m offering a 10% discount of Extreme 18X until August 22nd. You just need 1/2 TEASPOON to do a load of laundry!  Crazy, huh?

1.No harsh chemicals

2. No harmful toxins

3. Hypoallergenic

4. No need for fabric softener either. Clothes are fluffier than ever!

5. Only about .20 cents a load (you’re probably spending more if you add up your fabric softener)

6. Takes up a ton less space

7. And can replace 70-80% of your household cleaners, it’s that versatile!

8. Fragrance free but your clothes smell fresh and clean.

9. Perfect for HE (High Efficiency) washing machines.

I love this stuff, I love my OS and his silly sense of humor! You need that in the Army, trust me. Rest in peace noisy washer, you were good while you lasted. Enjoy the 10% discount, friends.

Traffic at Fort Benning. Not like regular people traffic!

Twice in a summer

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We argue. We fight. We disappoint each other and intentionally do things to annoy. These are some of the rather unsavory characteristics of my family.

On occasion our clothes are left on the ground, someone “forgets” to empty the dishwasher, the carpet needs vacuuming and the kitchen floor hasn’t seen a broom in a few days.

We battle big things too in this house…depression, anxiety, temptation and Ambien, to name a few.

But then there are these halcyon moments –

And it’s like one of us is a polished diamond

And we get it right

I didn’t grow up going to church. Raising a Christian family means so much to me. Sitting next to one of my guys makes it even sweeter.

Maybe not for the whole day, for that might be too strenuous

But for a snapshot of time, we experience a flash of heaven

Which is what happened Sunday morning…

Aaron helping lead worship. He did a great job and found it to be a very emotional experience.

It was Aaron’s last Sunday at church before leaving to attend college in Chicago. This summer Aaron has acted as one of our church’s interns. For a small church of about 50 people, I must say, they put my OS to work like a boss. In addition to holding a paid, part-time job as a pool attendant, Aaron had many church projects to accomplish. Whereas many nearly 18-year-old young people are majorly chilling the summer before going off to school, Aaron has been learning Greek, reading church leadership books and writing reports about them. Aaron worked tirelessly compiling a hymnal for our church filled with rich, beautiful hymns that are still reverent and true. Each time my OS showed me progress on this hymnal, he beamed with excitement and joy. Aaron and the two other summer interns led an entire church service and my middle OS was so moved by the experience, he ended up in tears before our small congregation recently one Sunday morning. Incidentally as a result, most of the congregation was equally emotional especially the mama with pink highlights in her hair = me!

The three pastors poured into our boy’s life and gave him a glimpse into how to truly minister and shepherd a flock of people. They showed Aaron the inner workings of a healthy church body, how to receive feedback before and after the sermon (something I’ve never heard of pastors doing before attending this church). Through their personal investment in my OS’s life, Aaron is developing into a vibrant and active young leader.

And on Sunday, our pastors blessed him in a grand way before sending him off to the Windy City. Although the Hubs and I knew about this previously, it came as a surprise to Aaron when he was asked to come up to the front of the church. Jerry, one of our pastors, explained to the crowd that Aaron was leaving to attend Moody Bible Institute and this would be his last Sunday with us. He then asked the men of the church to come forward and to pray over my boy. It wasn’t creepy and it didn’t offend my former feminist ways in case the mere thought of this bristles you.

Twice in a summer I have witnessed a moment like this.

My sandy-haired boy bowed his head and I realized at that moment, wow, this is the second child in a summer that I have seen kneeling before Jesus and his followers. (Click here to read about the first time with Nathan). We weren’t at West Point; we were in the suburbs of North Carolina but another one of my olive shoots was submitting his life to the Lord and receiving from His people, words of blessing and protection. Honestly, I think the statistics for something like this happening twice in a summer are quite small. And when I consider my wretchedness, I think it is nothing short of miraculous that something this beautiful could happen to me as a mother. And furthermore, this is the second time the orange hair, freckle face OS has laid hands on a brother and helped usher him into a new season of life. Not your everyday, run of the mill brother stuff but something lofty, holy and lovely.

The prayer didn’t last too long, no one spoke in tongues, snakes were not handled. 😉

Seeing godly men praying for my olive shoot, thank you Jesus for this glorious moment. That’s my orange hair, freckle face guy in the black shirt, his hands on his bro.

As the prayer finished and the men made their way back to their seats, Pastor Rob asked Aaron to stay up front for a moment.

And that’s when they gave Aaron another gift as if the gift of prayer, love, protection, shepherding, accountability and manly, godly leadership weren’t enough.

Sitting next to my boy one last time before college, Aaron getting his hymnal, the actual hymnal

He sweetly handed my boy the very first copy of our church’s new hymnal. The project Aaron had devoted hours on was finished and my OS got first dibs. Aaron hugged our pastors fiercely and shined like a diamond holding that hymnal in his hand. He sat down next to me and while he began flipping through the pages, I patted his knee, tears in my eyes. As sad as I think Aaron might feel about leaving his family, I think he feels even sadder leaving his church. He will be a part of our fellowship even if he’s thousands of miles away.

Here’s one of Aaron’s favorite songs, Jesus, Savior Pilot Me which can be found on page 82 in our hymnal. Surely I will think of the precious child who sat and snuggled next to me even as a teenager each Sunday morning. As a benefit of birthing this fine olive shoot, I too, was handed a copy of the hymnal which Aaron will be signing for me. I cherish it already. (Btw, yes, I’m crying while writing this.)

This is a cool song. Beautiful, timeless words. ❤

So today, we’ll see how it goes. One of us might be grouchy. The Hubs and I might bicker, the guys might not initiate folding the mounds of laundry. We are alas a very human bunch. Still, I will praise the Lord. I will exalt His name. I will rejoice in the blessings I am given, those moments when we transcend our selfishness, stubbornness and foolishness and I see extraordinary beauty in the land of the living. May it be so with you and those you love as well. ❤