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?!

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25 out of 50 things I’m thankful for

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I’ve always known how to have fun on my birthday! 

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I used to think 50 year old people were old. Now I think they are, well, they are…me as of January 27. 


Here is half of the 50 things I’m thankful for. 

Class of 2016 = woot

1. My middle OS has been accepted to Moody Bible Institute!
2. This means I will have a semi-regular pizza delivery boy! 
3. I had a wonderful experience speaking to a local MOPS group and I want to do it again! 
4. My topic was “Raising Mighty Oliveshoots” and I’m sensing the Lord is creating something. 
5. My oldest OS has done so well as West Point that he will be getting his first choice for his post and unit. This means that Nate will probably be going to Fort Carson in Colorado. I suggested “Fort” Cary (we live in Cary!) but he seemed disinterested. No worries though!
6. My orange hair, freckle face OS’s basketball team is currently in first place and his back pain is subsiding.

Few moments are as epic as when you
and your OS get to meet Mary Jo!

7. I’m going to MaryJo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia on Saturday with friends. Ignite endorphin levels!
8. I soaked some almonds overnight in water and evaporated cane juice. I drained the water and just before putting them into the dehydrator, I sprinkled cinnamon on them. They taste GOOD! 

I’m having a bibimbap birthday! 

9. We are having a Korean exchange student stay with us for the weekend and she is going to teach me how to make bibimbap
10. We’re also going to be serving squash pancakes and green onion pancakes. This should be interesting!
11. My six year old nephew Jon aka Goo, told me he has drawn me a picture for my birthday. I can’t wait to see it!
12. My aunt and uncle from Chicago sent me two birthday pizzas. I have them safely hidden in the freezer, only the Hubs seems to know. I do not want to share. Does that make me a bad person??? Do not tell a soul. 
13. I’m reading my seventh book since Christmas. Shablam! Current read – Saving Leonardo. Here’s a great quote “One of the greatest injustice we do our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary…We must teach them to be revolutionaries, revolutionaries against the status quo.” Click to read this review that compelled me to buy this for my Kindle Fire. 
14. It struck me last night as I was sitting with my monthly writing friends, how immensely blessed I am with a diversity of friendships culled from many parts of my life. 
15. My house is neither immaculate nor filthy, right now as I type this, it’s right in the middle. 
16. I love my weekly Bible Study and the women I share life with. As I look around the table, I admire their strength, beauty and stories about leading redeemed lives. 

Bible Study just before the Army/Navy game!
Had to bring Nate!

17. My stepfather said he would go with me for my colonoscopy! I don’t have one scheduled but since I took him to his, he said he would accompany me on mine! 

18. I just finished reading a book about a vacuum cleaner and it made me cry. I thought about the stories my family’s appliances could tell.
19. When I told my mom that sometimes her birthday cards to me are so sappy, I could become diabetic, she didn’t get offended. She laughed and scoffed. We had fun! 
20. Loves it when the pastor speaks a sermon custom made for our family! 
21. And REALLY loves it when we apply the sermon to daily life!
22. So blessed to have a praying family. We rallied around one of our OS this weekend and prayed with and for him one night. I want to leave this kind of legacy.
23. Realized that I along with the Hubs are raising a first generation Christian family. I didn’t see that modeled in my own family and we’re super imperfect but still, we’re doing it!

A recent creation I made

24. My sewing machines and I are getting along. We are enjoying our time together.
25. I made a dinner this week for a teacher who has cancer. I wasn’t sure what to make and brought sesame seed crusted salmon, wilted spinach with a white wine sauce and quinoa pepper salad. She said her favorite thing to eat was fish! I didn’t know that! 


On the eve of a big day, it makes sense to have some jollity. Life is a gift. I’d love to hear from you, any of these 25 jump out at you?

Spirit Week fun

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One of my children (who shall remain nameless because I like my life,) is afraid of midgets.

If you want to creep him out, turn on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I’m not exaggerating. We are a short-statured people so I’m not sure what his problem is but I have been known to sing the Oompa Loompa Song or the Wizard of Oz Munchkin Land song around him. It is funny to see this otherwise very macho OS squirm.


So it’s a good thing this un-named OS isn’t home very much (ahem,) because today would have been very unpleasant for him.

I say this because it’s Spirit Week for the middle schoolers and today is Character Day. My anonymous OS would be in a dither because his orange hair, freckle-face brother along with six other buddies dressed up as the Seven Dwarfs!

When Isaac told me about the idea last week, I agreed as long as Ike wasn’t Dopey. Considering our most recent challenges, there was NO way my OS was going to be Dopey. Or Grumpy!


But Ike is Happy and so am I! Several moms including myself banded together and individually added pieces to the boys’ costumes.

One mom and grandma made hats. They even researched pics of the Seven Dwarfs from old Disney books and pictures! Another mom made white beards and wrote the names of each individual dwarf on a colorful t-shirt. Talk about authentic! I purchased seven pair of black sweat pants on sale at Wal-Mart and some twine for a belt. The moms are as excited as the sons and our collective talents made this particular Spirit Day less stressful and totally adorable!


To Ike’s chagrin I came to school twice today to take pictures. Apparently there is nothing worse for a 13 year old boy then seeing his mama two times in one school day, even when she’s wearing makeup! Excitement filled the air, giggles and smiles abounded. I cracked up at the creativity in the middle schoolers. There were two guys who dressed up as Michael Jackson, before and after. There was even a Lucky Charm leprechaun. So fun!


My OS attend a private school. They wear uniforms, adhere to strict behavior policies and must study hard for the stringent academics. Spirit Week is five days when the standards are just as high but the atmosphere is more relaxed. High school Spirit Week begins next Monday and it’s sure to be memorable as well. If Aaron succeeds in his plans for Spirit Week, it will be epic, mark my words!


I leave you with some pics of the recent fun and links to former Spirit Weeks we have enjoyed.

We’re already brain-storming about next year!

Iron Gym Commercial

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I have a blog post that is nearly ready to publish but on this, the last day before my oldest OS goes back to West Point, I have chosen to preempt my scheduled post.


The one thing that Nathan said he wanted for Christmas was an Iron Gym. We are such amazing parents, we not only got Nate one, but another one for the middle OS Aaron. Yes, it’s true!


After dinner last night, (and I must share with you the really awesome thing we have been doing as a family), the OS cleaned the kitchen and then scurried upstairs. The next thing I know Aaron bounds downstairs in a skinny t-shirt and a crazy wig. He had applied camo paint all over his face and created slightly lifelike facial hair. Aaron has a flair for the dramatic which is an understatement. But this time Aaron had enlisted the help of his bros. They were going to make a video about the Iron Gym.

As I was sewing aprons downstairs, the Hubs and I could hear the chatter of our OS rehearsing their own Iron Gym commercial. See for yourself and then you’ll know just one more reason why I am going to miss my big boy and all the wacky things the three of them do together.

Phone Call

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Let me offer a big shout out to the cadre, I understand I now have a “fan base.” I’m flattered, nervous, paranoid, gee, thanks… I’m watching every word I say for fear of more push-ups coming a certain NC’s way. 

After a weekend of waiting, we finally got the call from our son. Now I find myself in a foggy, numb state after speaking to him. Time passed so quickly, just 10 minutes of conversation, 600 seconds and poof, it’s over. 


I wished he sounded more happy but I’m glad we got to talk. This is not summer camp where he gets to hang with friends and play archery so I should have expected it. The tone in his voice sounded weary and perhaps a little grouchy. I think I’d feel the same way if I were in his shoes/boots/low-quarters. 

Days of waiting and now I feel blah. When he said, “I have a minute left.” I just kept telling him, “I love you, baby!” because I wanted to make sure I told him that before he had to go. The house is emptier without him, I feel sad in my mama’s heart. 

We tape-recorded the conversation which might sound really cheesy but considering I’ve already listened to it twice, I’m glad we did. My extended family can hear our conversation and I noticed I felt better after my mom heard his voice and tried to discern how he was doing.

I’d appreciate continued prayers for my son and the challenges he has ahead of him, some that are particularly difficult for a mom to even imagine. We are getting Army Strong one way or another and can do all things through Christ who strengthens me/us. 
Picture taken from West Point chapel. Shoes are not mine, they are the Superintendent’s. 

Oh happy day – letters after R-Day

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P1040208On July 9, 2007 while just exiting a restroom in Lima, Peru, I got mugged. My pricey camera was pulled off my shoulders and back and that was probably one of the most startling events of my life.

Fast forward a year, I’m back home and this July 9 is joyous. Yeah, we have a stomach virus wreaking havoc on our family but it’s all good.

Our son wrote us!

In our mailbox, I discovered not one, not two, not three but FOUR letters from our boy!

There are not enough exclamation points to describe how I feel to read his words and glean his personality. Here are just a few and I’ll try not to be obnoxious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!P1040207

I count it a privilege that our NC (military word for New Cadet) took the precious time to write.

Some parents have yet to hear from their child and I feel for them deeply. I do not take it for granted we have these paper treasures from our soldier and will guard them close to my heart forever.

As we gathered around the family room to read his letters, I thought to myself that this is what it used to be like before email, AIM and facebook.

Writing letters is a forgotten art and in some way, I have enjoyed putting pen to paper. I’m a writer so it comes fairly naturally but my two remaining OS certainly aren’t but what sweet messages have poured from their fingers. Aaron sends funny drawings, Ike sends Scripture.

Aaron writes about the day’s happenings.

Ike shares that he has thrown up.

My DH dashed another letter out to Nathan as soon as he read Nate’s messages. They are so beautiful, I have no choice but to weep.

Without violating his privacy, I think some of you would enjoy knowing a few details but let me tell you the latest on the toe.

Although still purple, his big toe feels much better since he got it drained. Getting a toe drained doesn’t sound like fun but I’m relieved to know he’s ok. I wrote him that he had so many prayers that not only should that toe be healed in Jesus’ name but quite possibly he might have grown a third big toe as a spare!

p1040211Please keep praying not only for our family but for the other cadet families out there eagerly awaiting news from their NC.

It’s tough when no news comes your way.

In a few days, we anticipate phone calls and I can’t wait to hear his voice.  Major props to my homeslice Beth Anne who documented the first few moments when the letters arrived, love you, BA!

Getting letters from your son is better than getting mugged in South America, that’s a fact, Jack! HUAH big time!

Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.”

My Prince Charming

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P1010543As Spirit Day drew to a close, it was Dress Up as Your Favorite Hero Day and Aaron decided he wanted to be someone extra special and quite appropriate – Prince Charming.

My 13-year-old OS has the pretty face and the affable personality but lacked the actual costume. We don’t do a lot of dress up in our family of boys but with a little ingenuity, we came up with a pretty cool outfit.

First we went to Staples and got some metallic posterboard.

P1010547I didn’t know they made metallic posterboard so that was quite convenient. We cut a crown design out of the posterboard and I glued a ton of little beads around it. It looked so shimmery and royal. Kind of like real jewels but not really. Check out the artistry…

P1010542I had some satin gold fabric and against all odds, I made my first pair of satin prince pants. My dumb sewing machine was acting the fool so my wonderful friend Michele let me borrow her top of the line machine.

It’s a $1500 sewing machine and man, that baby can purr. I’m not sure I’m giving it back to her, I seriously loved that machine. I have told my husband that if he really loved me, he would get me that machine. I’ll let you know how that’s going…I was definitely not worthy to even use the foot pedal of this fine piece of machinery, I savored every second and stitch.

P1010541After finishing the prince pants, I also made him a fancy slate grey vest complete with gold trim. It was so simple to make but I was really proud of myself! I am totally in the zone when I am doing things for my family. During a quick trip to the Goodwill, I found a nice man’s white collared shirt for Aaron – and then the biggest find of all, I bought a pair of women’s shoes. He wasn’t going to wear them, rather he took one shoe to school as he searched for his lovely Cinderella.

As luck would have it, I had a scrap of red satin fabric to make a little sash. When we put the costume together, he seriously looked like Prince Charming! Even when he was standing next to his best bud Zack aka Peter Pan.

This was a Spirit Day our family won’t forget!