What I told my young son the night before his wedding

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Cindy and Mark with brand new baby Aaron

 

Today I am sharing the message I spoke to my son at the rehearsal dinner. My intention for making it public is because it is testimony of God’s faithfulness. The Lord gave me confident and courage to speak from my heart after a period of great struggle. 

From the day my middle olive shoot was born, Aaron has done things early. His due date was September 7. This was perfect because my wedding ring was diamond and sapphire – April and September. It all was going to fall into place so nicely!

But then I felt cramping in my stomach and on August 30, just two days shy of September, Aaron Xavier entered our world.

And that’s the way it’s been. Aaron talked at an early age, went to kindergarten and high school as one of the youngest in his class. He turned 18 while at Moody Bible Institute, the only thing he didn’t do early was potty training but that’s all figured out now thank you very much. 🙂

All of this early stuff was preparation for his wedding day. Based on his life thus far, nothing should surprise me about my precious boy. He is getting married 10 years before the national average for males which according to the CDC is 29.

But those guys aren’t my Spurny.

Fave pic of aaron and momSince Aaron was a little boy, our family has instilled values, traditions and a belief in Jesus Christ. When I tucked Aaron in at night, I prayed for him. As I sat on his bed, I thanked the Lord for another day of being his mom. My heart is glad each day that I’ve had the honor and the privilege of being his mama. Of course I feel the same way about each of my boys.

One night in particular I remember specifically praying with Aaron about something very special. Not a good grade on a test or for a tooth to come loose. This night I prayed for Aaron’s wife.

We prayed for our kids’ wives throughout their time at home. I remember the Hubs doing it one day around the dinner table for Isaac. He was about six at the time and his little eyes peeked up like, “My what? My who???”

But getting back to Aaron, I remember like it was yesterday because in a way it feels like it was…

I prayed about this “mystery woman/his wife” and as I said this, my sweet little boy, he might have been around 11 years old; he squeezed me extra tight as I muttered those words next to his bed.

And on May 24, 2014, Aaron received her.

She is here. She is his. Our prayers have been answered.

Since Aaron was a little boy, we also did another thing in my family. Whenever we found ourselves doing a skill we thought would be useful in the future, we’d gather up the available boys and call it “husband training.” Whether it was fixing a toilet, hanging a nail, making salad dressing or chicken broth, ironing, mowing the lawn, boom, Nate, Aaron and/or Ike assisted in the efforts. The thought being one day you are going to do this. One day you’ll be a husband and you need to know. In some way, you need these skills to land yourself a good girl in the first place.

In the recent days, the Lord and I have had many conversations preparing me for Aaron’s wedding day. Because I serve a God of All Comfort and Compassion, there is nothing I haven’t burdened Him with that shocks or disappoints Him. God is very good like that. IMG_8475

And in these moments, I have come to Jesus and He has told me, “Why does this surprise you? You have been calling it husband training all these years? What were you expecting? You called it husband training for a reason. Aaron listened. Daughter, your son watched. He took it seriously. He is ready.

Now Aaron is becoming a husband. I become a mother-in-law hopefully to be considered a mother-in-love and I desperately love my son. I am proud of him and the man he is, the husband he will be and the dad I can already imagine.

10371636_10152976488103018_7618892888247892350_nEphesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

What a young man said the night before his wedding – life, death, marriage and God

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photoMy experience with rehearsal dinners is limited and I’m only three weeks into having a daughter-in-law and a married son. That’s a lot to process, lemme tell ya!  So today with permission from Aaron, it’s my privilege to share the beautiful words my ministry-minded middle olive shoot shared less than 24 hours before he got married.

For a young man, Aaron’s words and reflections are beyond his chronological age. I never expected him to speak so beautifully and yet, I am not surprised at his eloquence and maturity either. Nonetheless it still took my breath away, the loveliness and depth of his words. I am a proud mama to be sure.

Aaron spoke after my husband and I both shared. Soon, I will post the words we spoke that night. But as I sat at the table that evening, I wiped away tears full of emotion and amazement.

Here is Aaron’s tribute to his bride-to-be…

My life has been pretty exciting so far. I’ve been able to travel around the world and the country. I go to college in a big city. I work at Starbucks! I mean, what could be more exciting than that?photo

And now, at 19, I’m getting married.

I’d say the Lord has richly blessed me.

More than I know, more than I could ever express. I could not be happier or more excited to join Kelsie’s family; I consider it such a joy. And I have no words to thank my parents and my brothers for the love they gave me and continue to give me as I get older.

Thank you to my friends, especially Caleb and John who have helped me grow over the past two years more than I could have imagined. Y’all have been with me through incredible struggle and encouraged me and advised me so much. To all of you I want to say thank you. Thank you for blessing me. I am a blessed man. I realize that continually and I realize that far too little.

The world thinks of marriage as death, as boring, as stifling. It sees the union that God creates in husband and wife and calls it the “old ball and chain.” And as a very young man getting married I may have to agree with them. Marriage will kill you and it will hurt.

But the Lord has shown me this in a different light.

The song in our first dance tomorrow attends to this. It says,“‘I do” are the two most famous last words, The beginning of the end, But to lose your life for another I’ve heard, Is a good place to begin. ‘Cause the only way to find your life Is to lay your own life down, And I believe it’s an easy price For the life that we have found.”

I was so nervous the day I proposed. I went to the bathroom at the P.F. Changs before we walked to the Chicago River where I was going to propose, the ring in my pocket. My heart was beating so fast; I actually couldn’t believe it. I had no doubt that she would say yes and I was still so nervous. I was pondering the weight of what I was about to do. I was gonna ask this girl to marry me. I really couldn’t believe it. It was such a momentous step, a leap into the unknown, this unbelievable thing that was marriage. And honestly, I feel the same way now. I have very little doubt that Kelsie will also say “I do” on Saturday. But I’m nervous stepping into this uncharted, terrifying territory that is Holy Matrimony.1426411_10200940981183826_384050544_n

But maybe that’s the beauty in it.

The world looks at the requirement of marriage that is dying to yourself with spite and malice – 

I look at it and am dumbfounded that I would be so blessed to have the offer of the love and security within our marriage and to be told that what I have to do in return is to lose my life.

To gain the life that we will have together it means I must lay my own life down. The song goes on, “‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man So there’s nothing left to fear, So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands Till the shadows disappear. ‘Cause he promised not to leave us And his promises are true, So in the face of all this chaos, baby, I can dance with you.”

So, in one sense I understand the world’s qualms and cavils against marriage. It will kill you, but it is the most beautiful thing. Thomas Torrance, a Scottish Theologian wrote of marriage, “When a man and a woman come together in this way, they are made to participate in the active will of their Creator, and in their union and society they reflect the image of the Holy God. In them God brings his act of creation to its fulfillment. Therefore when a man and a woman marry, God is at work doing a new thing in which they both share in their innermost being. Ever after each is unthinkable apart from the other.” Life in another, mutual self-giving, for the Moody Bible students with us, here’s a word for you, perichoresis. As Christ lays down His life for His Church, as He gives Himself to us, so it is with marriage. And that scares me, that makes me nervous. I bend beneath the weight of that calling. But it is a beautiful thing.

10313774_766597896705179_8885708818697631266_nKelsie is an incredible woman. I had no clue that I would ever marry a girl like Kelsie, I had no idea that I would ever see such beauty. She’s asked me before why I love her and I quickly responded, “You’re little and cute.” And that’s true, she’s very pretty.

But that falls so short of all who Kelsie is.

She is tender and feels strongly. Not high-maintenance or overly emotional but tender.

She is caring and compassionate, I am often anxious and I’ll tell her. She’ll ask me what I need and I tell her I need to be anxious with her near. I need her compassionate tenderness close to me. She is, as Caleb will quickly say, industrious. I have never seen such diligence and desire to learn about the Lord.

She is constantly reading and teaching me and challenging me. I always feel out-learned because I really am.

She is skillful and talented, at her job as a nanny, she is incredible. With three little boys 5 and under she works incredibly hard and does wonders for children who are not even her own.

10300986_10203755464748160_1785004085953563782_nShe is fun. Kelsie and I are both homebodies. Most of the time we just want to sit and hang out drink some coffee, read, watch a movie. But there’s no one else I want to sit around with.

She loves Jesus, is captivated by His grace. It is a beautiful thing to see the girl you love continually encounter Christ. And she is little and cute.

That is the beauty in Kelsie, the truest beauty that comes from Christ in her. I am a blessed man, more than I will ever know, or ever feel, or ever express.photo

And I’m nervous about this Saturday, and for that matter, the next 20 or 30 or 100 years that we have with one another. I am blessed man but I am also an unable man.

So I pray that God will love Kelsie through me. I read that we love because Christ first loved us. So I ask the Lord that we will, in the love of Jesus only, love one another.  Thanks y’all.

Here is the link to Aaron and Kelsie’s first dance as a married couple. You have to listen to it!

I was honored to share this with you, thanks so much for reading!

 

Five minute Friday – nothing

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photoNothing –

that endless pit of despair

consuming, feasting on my sadness like a tick on my soul

This was the place I dwelt for months

Nearly unable to do anything but weep

A friend encouraged me to attend a weekly prayer time for moms

I agreed since nothing else was working and crying was becoming a full-time job with no chance of promotion

Nothing –

That’s how I entered the room at the church

devoid of all hope, ashamed of my grief and dashed dreams

Nothing but Kleenex hid my tears

Unable to even wear mascara because all it did was smudge

And during that sacred time of lifting up other moms’ burdens to the Lord

Only for an hour, nothing fancy or fake

Simply a bunch of real moms who believed

They joined me praying and understanding

No judgement or condemnation

Just love and compassion

I learned I wasn’t alone

My situation and sorrow were different but gosh, we had a lot in common

Suddenly I was able to wear makeup, laugh, see hope and promise

Nothing but the prayers of others

And the inclining ear of God

Gave me the courage to praise the Lord on a beautiful Saturday when my son and his wife were married

I wore a smile as I walked down the aisle

My orange hair, freckle face olive shoot escorted me

And I wore mascara2014-05-24 09.31.47

A silk dress given to me by one of those praying ladies

Nothing stole my joy that morning. Everything about this journey is testimony to my Savior God who rescues and redeems.

photoFor you – We probably haven’t met but I pray that you are encouraged today hearing some of my story. Your cir-  5-minute-friday-1cumstances are different than mine but the Lord cares about you as much as He does me!

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Five minute Friday – a group of people who are given a word and then write about it for five (or so) minutes. Check out the other thought-provoking posts here.

 

 

 

Aaron is ENGAGED!!!

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photoThe time to drop your iPhone into the toilet isn’t hours before your middle olive shoot proposes.

Yes, you have read that sentence correctly.

My iPhone took a swim in the toilet on Saturday morning…

And my sweet boy Aaron is now engaged.

As of today,

I have an iPhone that needs repair – waa

BUT much more importantly

In the span of just SIX weeks

I have gained not ONE but TWO future daughters-in-love.

I have been the mother of three awesome olive shoots for many years

And a Brazilian exchange student for about two months

Truly the Lord has taken our family on a fascinating and creative journey. Love and loss, Alzheimer’s and abandonment, family and friendships, oh my goodness. Central America, South America, Chicago, South Carolina, our hearts have been all over the map. We have had a jam-packed season of suffering and joy, our spirits are dizzy and blessed. I scarce can take it in but I’ll try.

Here’s how the proposal unfolded.

After spending the day together in Chicago strolling the Lincoln Square area, Aaron took Kelsie to PF Changs for dinner.

Then they went for a stroll to the Trump Tower. The night was starlit, a slight chill in the air.

Aaron reminded Kels that this was the place where he had asked for their first kiss and professed his love for her.

And then Aaron, all fancy wearing a tie and looking oh so handsome,

My cherished bairn, he took Kelsie’s hand and got on one knee.

With all the confidence and happiness he has probably ever felt, with a host of truly thousands of prayers spoken over this boy throughout his lifetime just in anticipation of this one moment, my treasured Aaron reached into his pocket. Presenting his beloved her great aunt’s wedding ring, a family heirloom, he inquired,

“Kelsie, will you marry me?”photo 4

With nary a moment of hesitation, this dear young woman answered, “YES!!!”

It was a surreal moment for the both of them.

Apparently so surreal that my ministry-minded olive shoot carefully placed the ring on the WRONG HAND! Oops!

But don’t you just love it when things don’t go perfectly?

That’s how life happens, it’s not flawless. I want my children to live real lives and be authentic people. Those little blips and bloopers are what make memories stick. Kind of like what happened when Nate proposed to Lu. Click here for that story. The Hubs and I have so many moments about our own engagement, I’ll save those for another day. I pray that my children accumulate many stories throughout their lifetimes.

photo 5So yes, my phone fell into the toilet yesterday.

It was an unused toilet, for the record and I wasn’t on the phone when it happened. It just fell out of my back pocket. I promise!

But I am thankful nonetheless.

God has answered my prayers. He has been good. So many nights, so many dinner table conversations and prayers about the women my boys would someday marry. And now two of them know who she is.

Nate and Lu –

Aaron and Kelsie –

praise Jesus for my two future daughters-in-law love.

Five minute Friday – worship

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IMG_4986Before having my three sons, I don’t really remember meeting any boy who had an active, living, breathing faith.

I knew guys who went to church and performed a variety of religious sacraments

But it all seemed shallow

And I could relate

Because my spiritual practices were very superficial as well

Today, it’s my ministry-minded middle’s 19th birthday

And ladies, let me say he is a cutie (he also has a serious gfgf so he’s taken!)

wh1My superbaby is a reader of unusual books, uses quotes from great Puritan leaders with wild abandon

And he prays fervently, thinks passionately and feels the strong call to be in ministry – I am in awe

What brings me to tears though is his heart for worship

Aaron is a man of imperfection just like the rest of us

But the purity of his surrender and dependence on Jesus

Sometimes I look at him with fascination

He has a faith that is unashamed

His devotion to living a holy and righteous life

Are evidence of his worship to the King

And that’s not something you typically see in a 19-year-old.

They often worship other things far less honorable…

So what does the word "last" make you think about? Join this writing community and share! You'll feel better, trust me!

So what does the word “worship” make you think about? Join this writing community and share!

Today I rejoice that the Lord has blessed me with this child who has a true heart of worship and a love for Christ.

My son’s first sermon

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"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 3:4

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

The first time I heard the name Aaron, I turned to my husband at church and said,

“Our next son will be named Aaron.”

I loved the name Aaron for three reasons.

1. It looked cool. Two of the same letters next to each other in a name basically rocks and you know it.

2013-06-16 10.10.242. Spiritual – Though my Christian spiritual journey was evolving, I loved the idea of having kids with biblical names.

3. Professional – I had made a career throughout the country teaching presentation skills and even had my own consulting business working in the corporate world teaching executives about public speaking. The Aaron written of in the Bible was a great orator among other notable qualities.

In other words, I just had to have an Aaron!

So right there in the pew, next to my toddler Nathan and the Hubs, God delivered this name “Aaron” like a song and a promise to my soul.

Two years later, he was born. Nate called him his “miracle.” I had birthed my Aaron.

The name fits him perfectly. Aaron is a rising sophomore at Moody Bible Institute and an enthusiastic speaker, a wonderful olive shoot and a Jesus follower.

But I could never have imagined what would happen this past Father’s Day.

2013-06-16 11.03.48On Father’s Day, Aaron delivered his first sermon.

In front of our extended family, the gluten-free gf and other members of our con- gregation, the Hubs and I sat and listened to our Aaron preach.

Aaron and the gf/gf just before he got up to share the sermon

Aaron and the gf/gf just before he got up to share the sermon

His sermon was about the importance of fatherhood in the Christian home.

The Lord has blessed my ministry-minded middle with an affable personality and a comfort in front of crowds.

2013-06-16 11.00.56

Ike read the Scripture before his big brother gave the sermon. I don’t even think I owned a Bible when I was his age and if I did, I certainly never opened it. Thank you Lord for these glimpses of grace!

Of course, you know I am biased, but I would have listened to Aaron’s words even if he wasn’t my son. He delivered the message with conviction, thoughtfulness and passion.

At one point in the sermon, I turned to the gluten-free gf and felt very convicted about the message. I whispered to her, “I’m glad God didn’t make me a father. I’ll just be the mom, thank you, Lord, very much!” She smiled and agreed!

God gave the Hubs a gift on Father’s Day and He used our Aaron to deliver it. What a sweet blessing to behold and something I, this former angry agnostic, feminist, existentialist woman never would have imagined!2013-06-16 11.01.21

On Sunday morning, we saw the culmination of all the hard work my boy had poured tirelessly into his message. The hours researching, studying Scripture, praying, consulting with our pastor and seeking the Lord’s voice before he used his own were worth it.

The night before, he stayed up late going over his message with the gf/gf. I think she probably had that thing memorized.

What blessed me as a mom and as a church member was the reverence and time he gave to his message. This is not always the standard today.

I felt safe with the way he handled Scripture, Aaron’s words were measured and forceful yet he spoke humbly.  Aaron has been raised by a godly, Christian dad but he also acknowledged that he has no experience being a father.

As I listened to him speak, I recalled that Sunday morning when I first heard about an Aaron.

Now I was hearing from my own.

Wearing a new polo shirt purchased the day before, looking so handsome and adorable, full of the Spirit, oh, how could my heart contain such pride and joy!

Here is an excerpt of his sermon. I look forward to hearing many more. Don’t you just love it when your kids make you proud and do something you never imagined possible?!

Bless me, Mama

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Here are just a few of the people I pray for on the regular.

Here are just a few of the people I pray for on the regular.

My 16-year-old walks into the kitchen and I’m slicing strawberries. He’s got a basketball game in a few hours and is heading out the door.

“Bless me, Mama,” he says.

My thin, ginger wisp stands near my side by the sink.

This is the moment every Christian mom hopes will happen and today’s my day. This is cool. I’m going to write about this I vow to myself.

“Oh, ok, I can do that.” I stop slicing. My strawberry stained fingers lift into the air and words flow from my lips.

But no sooner did I finish the first sentence then Ike interrupts me and says,

“Mom, I didn’t mean it!”

You can’t be serious, Child.

That ginger in the jacket, yeah, that's the kid I just prayed for!

That ginger in the jacket, yeah, that’s the kid I just prayed for!

For a second, I hesitated.

Then what did I do? I prayed for him anyway. #shablam

He had a great game. The team won. I did not cause these things by my prayers but I was obedient to the Lord.

Time and desire to pray have increased since beginning the YouVersion 21 Day Challenge. Other crazy, interesting things are also happening which perhaps I will share one day.

I love and admire this potato head.

I love and admire this potato head.

But the words “Bless me, Mama” resonate within me again.

My oldest olive shoot begins pre-Ranger school tomorrow at 11:45. Gulp. He will sleep on the ground and be pushed to his physical and mental brink. Many fail, it is beyond challenging.

“Bless me, Mama” is my charge as his mother. Nathaniel, my gift, I speak blessings and success into your journey. Oh how I treasure you. Shine brightly.

My ministry-minded middle will soon speak to group of high school students. About the subject of love. Basically it’s his first preaching opportunity. Plus each Friday he goes into the inner city of Chicago to reach high risk young kids with the Gospel. “Bless me, Mama.” I do, Aaron, I do.

Aaron loves this ministry and the kids he meets! Thanks be to God!

Aaron loves this ministry and the kids he meets! Thanks be to God!

May I be fruitful with all you have given me, My Holy One. Allow me to seize every opportunity to pray. Grant me knowledge to embrace ways to boldly proclaim your truth and loving kindness, as a mom, as a woman; every role I play, Father may it be so all the days of my life.

Amen