Love and letters, part one

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photo copy 5The response to writing my Soldier has been incredible.

Most of us do not understand how wonderful it is for a military person to hear from loved ones and friends.

The longer I am a mama of a Soldier, the more it sinks in.

For my son, he has loved every single message.

Here’s why. Imagine marching 800m through the swamps, then doing a 9k patrol base at night followed by a 17k back. Your letters matter to these weary men.

Picture getting 30 seconds to inhale an MRE (meals ready to eat) somewhere in the mountains but then getting a funny card from a friend delivered to you sometime during training. It can kind of make you feel like a person for a second. If there’s a stick of gum inside, even better!

So today I want to highlight some of the incredible letters and cards Nate has been receiving, I’m amazed at everyone’s thoughtfulness. We’re not done yet, so please keep writing, I feel blessed because of you.

Dog owners – Can you believe that Nate is getting a letter from a couple who adopted our emotionally disturbed greyhound, Toughie? Years ago, we were the owners of a retired racing greyhound. Poor Toughie was an emotional basket case and we had to find him another home. Before going over the Rainbow Bridge, Toughie found some infinitely patient souls to care for him. Now they are sending Nate a letter! Oh how he will chuckle seeing the name Toughie again!

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Oh dear nephew, your cousin will cherish this picture forever! He will love all the detail and action! I love you and so does Nate! RLTW!

Cousins – This picture is from Nate’s seven-year old cousin, Jon. The more I look at this picture, the more I love it. Tanks, swamps, fish, words of encouragement, this drawing also has plenty of action and Nate is smiling through the whole thing. I’m not so sure about that in real life but I do know this. Nate will grin ear to ear because of this letter. According to Jon, Nate is the #1 23-year-old and I have to agree!

Katie and the kids she's working with this summer.

Katie and the kids she’s working with this summer.

Classmates and cool kids – One of Nate’s high school classmates is working with K-5th kids this summer.

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Daniel, this is a beautifully written letter. You are a really nice guy!

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974857_10201224092465611_1526572933_n Stacey, this letter is a work of art. Nate will love it!

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Thank you Alajah for thinking of my Soldier.

Since Nate is a strong example of perseverance, obedience, courage and integrity, determination, Katie had an idea.

Last week she talked to her kids about unconditional love. Then the kids sent him some snail mail. Just look at the adorable sentiments expressed by these precious children!

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So bright and colorful! Much prettier than looking at the swamps! Thanks y’all!

Thanks to Katie and her efforts, Nate will receive 30 Scripture filled letters from these boys and girls. This will mean the world to him!

Brothers – Equally delightful are the cards my orange hair, freckle face OS sends his brother.

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It takes a unique mind to come up with this character. What a creative little brother!

Spermy the Whale is the featured character Ike created during his middle school years.

Spermy now makes regular appearances on correspondence with Nate.

In particular, Nate has specifically mentioned how much he enjoys getting these bizarre greetings.

Ike really makes some interesting cards...

Ike really makes some interesting cards…I know he enjoys sending them to his bro.

It would seem that Spermy the Whale is transforming from a gangsta with grillz and a gold chain to entering the business world sporting a briefcase and a professional tie. The grillz are now a thing of the past. Um, ok!

My joy multiples as a mom. On behalf of all the families we represent who have a son, fiance, husband, boyfriend or brother in Ranger School, know it is a highlight for us to know others care.

From Korea to California, Texas to Michigan, El Salvador to New York and all points in between, thank you, bless you. We should never undervalue the significance of sending support to our military servicemen and women.

Questions: If you have a special person in the military, how have letters and cards helped your loved one?  What are creative ways you offer support to others! Let’s share ideas!

Prepare your young ones for dinner guests, it’s worth it!

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This dining room has housed many memories indeed!

This dining room has housed many memories.

When our olive shoots were small, we had little training sessions about manners.

We stressed several important things with our guys to prepare them for “company.” Now that they are 23, 18 and 16 respectively, I see the fruit of our labors. They really know how to be gracious hosts.

Here are the things we worked on:

1. Firm handshakes

2. Eye contact

3. Addressing adults by their last names.

Yes, this kid does have manners...

Yes, this kid does have manners…

To make the teaching time fun, (and I realize that the word “fun” might be a stretch), either one of my olive shoots or I would go into the hall closet. It was filled with coats and whatnot and after a second, I’d knock on the door or pretend to ring the doorbell. When the guys would “answer” the door, I would extend my hand and give them a hearty “Hello!”

From there, we practiced those aforementioned skills – often I’d invent a wildly funny last name with ample alliteration. One of my favorite last names was Mrs. Schpuhboodydootin. Oh the giggles we shared while learning the importance of addressing adults with respect. Occasionally I’d even hyphenate her name to keep things interesting.

This boy needed some teaching but that's ok!

This boy needed some teaching but that’s ok!

Let me tell you something. There isn’t anything cuter than being greeted by a little ginger boy with a strong handshake. Follow that up with a big brother who addresses you with  confidence and a middle guy asking to take your coat and welcome you into the home and shablam, there was a sweet mood in the air before the dinner even got started.

All this cost me was time and these guys were worth the investment.

I can’t tell you how many people have told me how conversational my boys were even during the awkward growing years. Those light-hearted training sessions were useful!

Controversial as it may seem, I do find the whole last-name thing ironic. We applaud our little children as they develop an ample vocabulary but we dumb them down when it comes to using an adult’s last name. People even put their kids in language classes to help them become bi-lingual but wow, ask them to use an adult’s last name and the parents instantly think it’s impossible!

That same dining room many years ago. Ike still sits in the same chair.

That same dining room many years ago. Ike still sits in the same chair.

Yes there are cultural preferences but people have told me that calling me Mrs. Cindy is a Northern thing, then others inform me that calling me Mrs. Cindy is a Southern phenomenon. I really don’t care, the standard in our home was to use an adult’s last name out of respect. We wanted to keep the bar high because it shows the preciousness of others.

As we taught our guys the fine art of cordiality, I always wanted to lift the standard. I can’t tell you how many people would say my last name was too difficult for their kids to pronounce. Really? My boys found a sense of comfort in acknowledging that they were in the midst of their elders.

This guy is now an officer in the Army!

This guy is now an officer in the Army!

Of course we had no idea one day our oldest OS would be a West Point graduate and an officer in the Army.

I know Nate appreciates the significance of rank and decorum. Maybe he learned some of that in our home training ground. Now it makes me smile when I hear people refer to him with respect and honor. A part of my heart leaps when people salute him, how can that be? He’s just a sugar boy after all.

Sugar boy/Soldier

Sugar boy/Soldier

I’d love to hear what you think about my suggestions. I realize I might have opened up a can of controversy with the whole last name thing but I want to put it out there. What are you doing to train your kids to be ready for guests?

Excerpts from Ranger School – sermons, mountains, marches

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Mount Yonah in Georgia

Mount Yonah in Georgia

Apparently Miley Cyrus’ house can be seen on top one of the mountains. but that’s not the reason my Soldier is at Mount Yonah. Far from it but I know Nate chuckled upon hearing this celebrity factoid in the middle of Ranger School.

Fortunately our oldest olive shoot is a frequent writer. I think he writes as much for himself as for us since he wants to chronicle this epic event. One day he’s going to look upon this moment with a sense of wonder. These letters are proof that yes, he did it! 

I have especially marveled at his recent letters. The physicality of the task and the way the Lord is speaking to him, I am truly in awe.

Here are some excerpts that you might enjoy.

“Mount Yonah, brutal ruck up, it’s a timed pass-fail event with 70 pounds on our back during the ruck. It started off pretty well but towards the end it went basically straight up the mountain.

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By the time I got to the top, I was spent physically and mentally.

Some of those grueling ruck marches can really get to your head. Rather than think about the pain, I just think to myself, “Don’t settle.”

Later in the day we practiced using ropes to haul things like our ruck sacks or a casualty up and down the mountain. The litter we used for the “casualty” ended up weighing about 200 pounds and we just grabbed ropes and put on our 70 pound rucks and dragged them up the mountain. It was miserable. After that we started using pulley systems to drag our stuff and that worked better. The mountain was so steep and slippery I ate it a bunch of times.946456_10200144877568210_1352709177_n

We’ll be on some decent sized hills but we’re not hiking straight up mountains on our missions.

Looking better, smelling nicer, feeling like they were ready to do this. Rangers lead the way! Let's do this!

I’m positive the guys don’t look or smell this good any more! Pray for them, please!

…speaking of food. I’m starving. The have been feeding us three meals a day but I am still starving by the time chow comes around, I start a chow chant. We say, “Chow, chow, chow, chow, chow, chow everybody!” just like that Lil Jon song “Shots.” You gotta have fun somehow so we just cut up and act immature during our down time at least. We put our game face on come mission time.”

15 may 2013

Yesterday the chaplain came and gave an amazing sermon.

He read from Philippians 3:3-15 and talked about running the race for Christ. He told this story about a 10 mile race his ex-Gf asked him to run with her in high school.

It was at 6,000 feet in Colorado and he trained for months in advance so he could impress her.

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The inside of Nate’s hat. I’m going to write about this soon.

When the time came for the race he ditched his girl- friend to hang out with his buddies for the week- end.

He said he doesn’t even re- member what he did that weekend but he did re- member getting a letter in the mail that said “Congrats on finishing the race. Here’s a picture of your photo finish” and it had a picture of someone else crossing the finish line with his bib number on.

He said from that day he committed to never letting anyone else finish a race he was called to run, whether it was being a father, husband, pastor or finishing Ranger School.

I was very encouraged by the message.

Love, Nate

So now you can understand why I cherish these letters from my son. He brings the experience home for the rest of us on the sidelines.

Please pray for all the guys in Ranger School to not settle and to finish strong! And while you’re at it, lift this very special Ranger up to the Lord today. Colonel Kail is a dear friend of ours undergoing a procedure today for a very serious cancer. One of the best guys we’ll ever know and a great mentor to our Soldier.

RLTW!

Colonel Kail is my friend, part two

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Eric and his family.

Eric and his family.

Lord willing, Colonel Kail will have a retirement ceremony on 31 May at West Point, then the packers will come three days later.

With the diagnosis of stage 4 transitional cell carcinoma, life began to drastically change for the Kail’s. The one thing that hasn’t wavered but remained steadfast is Eric’s optimism and faith.

Eric is an awesome dad and husband. He’s a Colonel in the United States Army and has also served for over 25 years as an Army Field Artillery Officer in both conventional and special operations units. He has several combat deployments, including Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Eric also has a PhD in organizational psychology. His latest assignment was as the course director for military leadership at West Point.

Impressed? You should be!

Here’s where you come in. Would you be so kind as to pray for this man? Eric has a few medical procedures to complete prior to heading for Texas. A few new spots on the spine and sacrum causes weakness in his right leg and severe pain and stiffness in both legs.

Though he moves around like a 90-year-old man, Eric retains his wit and wisdom.

In return for your prayers, with Eric’s permission, I am sharing a recent experience he had at the airport.

Here’s the remarkable thing that happened to him at the airport.

I’m very prone to take matters into my own hands and to gut things out, get the mission done without complaining. I was beginning to feel like my ability to do certain things was dropping off and a book I was reading allowed me to spend time covering God’s instructions to Elijah.

Specifically, delivering bad news to Ahab then going to live in a cave during a drought.

God told Elijah that he would have birds bring him food; not the kind of delivery we think about for food these days. Now, I’m not by any means comparing myself to Elijah, but the lesson was clear.

God will provide every internal and external resource needed to do what He calls us to do.

Well, the day after I read this story I met a complete stranger in a crowded airport lounge.

He was an Indian man who is a missionary living in the U.S. and still tied to missions work in India aimed at reaching their remote tribal populations.

In fact, his son had died in his 20s while working as a missionary in a remote tribal village.

We began discussing what we did and he asked about what God has called me to do through my battle with cancer.

I shared with him that unless my health took a positive swing, that I may have to curtail my speaking engagements and such.

Then he asked me if I knew much about Elijah.

I laughed and shared with him about what I had read the day before.

As my son would say, "Colonel Kail is the man!"

As my son would say, “Colonel Kail is the man!”

So, we stopped what we were doing and he prayed for me right there in the middle of a very crowded airport lounge.

He prayed specifically that God would make clear his provisions for me and my family as we set out to do His work.

No way it was an accident that this man and I spent an hour together in a crowded public spot.

It gets better.

The next day, my devotional was from 1 Kings, specifically Elijah’s meeting the widow who had just enough flour and oil to make one last meal for her and her son before they died.

Elijah instructed her to make some bread for him too, and that God would provide for her until the drought was over. She did and her flour and oil never ran out.

However, her son did die while Elijah was staying as guest in her home. She asked if this was a curse from God. Elijah took the boy up to his bed, laid on top of him, and prayed three times for God to restore the boy’s spirit to his body. God did just that.

So, I get the message pretty clearly.

Our natural default is to look for our own strength and resources to do even what God has called us to do, when He will supply all we need.

This is hard to do when coordinating things like a final move, buying a home, arranging travel, conducting a retirement ceremony, and oh yes, battling cancer.

Just like meeting Eric and Gigi at Sunday School many years ago in Apex, North Carolina, God arranged for Eric and this man to bond in a crowded airport lounge. What were the chances of that? I love seeing God move in his people.

Let’s move spiritual mountains for Colonel Kail. Share this with others too.

Eric and Gigi

Eric and Gigi

Please pray specifically for the following:

– That scheduling for moving would fall into place
– That the nerve pain and limited mobility would not get any worse between now and beginning treatment
– That the MRI of his brain would show success of the procedure and no other tumors
– That there wouldn’t be any flare ups while in transit from NY to TX
– That he can physically able to do his retirement ceremony on 31 May

In addition, he has promised to commission FIVE cadets at West Point next weekend. He swore our son in last year and it was such a meaningful honor.

Let us pray without ceasing for this man who so freely gives to others. Bless you, Colonel Kail!

Here is the background story if you missed it.

Doing laundry – Ranger School style

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photo copy 7With a bit of food in their tummies and new gear piled in the back of our SUV, reality began to set in.

Something smelled.

The guys had a slightly ripe odor slightly akin to a good camembert

But it was three heavy duffel bags which held the real aroma.

I found this in my son's duffel bag.

I found this in my son’s duffel bag.

The longer we were in the car, which now also included a trip to Wal-Mart, the greater stress weighed on me as a mother who had a giant task ahead of her.

We had been warned that the laundry stunk but oh my, as soon as I unzipped the first duffel bag, a tsunami of smell filled my nostrils.

Foolishly we had chosen to wash the clothes in the hotel laundry room. I do not recommend this as it is asking too much of a standard model washing machine. Alas, with no time to spare, I began pulling damp ACU items out of the bag chucking them onto the floor. Body odors, dirt, grime, silt stuck into every fiber.

In my 23 years of motherhood, nothing really had prepared me for this task.

No diaper,

no soccer game,

no previous Army training exercises involving stinky summer uniforms was adequate preparation.  Every type of laundry detergent I had available was summoned forth. With reckless abandon, I threw t-shirts, pants, filthy socks into the mouth of the machines. Time was of the essence and the clock pulled minutes away from our day.

photo copy 2Occasionally I opened the lid as if to apologize to the machine for the assault. Dirt, sand, duct tape began to cover the laundry room floor.

I even found a few rocks tucked into my boy’s pockets which made me wistful of those bygone years.

The Hubs came into the laundry room and we both stood amidst the sea of Army colors.

Truly I was making a mess and the thought of unzippering the next duffel bag was daunting.

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I chuckle seeing this picture and now realizing it is blurry. I felt so frantic trying to wash two filthy duffel bags full of stinky Soldier clothes.

The Hubs scrambled between two locations checking on our other Ranger School charge to make sure he was ok.

C. was holding his own quite well so the Hubs ran to the front desk, then back to the store, anywhere to load me up with more quarters. Tension was high…very high.

Neither one of us wanted to let our guys down yet it seemed hopeless that we could get all the clothes clean by the mandatory 6pm arrival.

And now let’s just talk for a moment about clean.

It’s all relative. There was not sufficient time for the clothes to be mama-clean. My standards were lowered, I had to be realistic.

No offense but the place reeked. When an employee happened by the laundry room, I flagged him for help. Open the windows! This didn’t provide much relief but it seemed the courteous thing to do for the other hotel guests. At times I was afraid to plunge my hand into the dark bag for another odoriferous bundle. Damp black trash bags knotted at the top forewarned me that I was approaching hazardous material. The deeper in the bag I got, the greater the risk. Seriously gross. Ridiculously smelly. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Do I want to? I’d rather make him a green smoothie.

The treasures found in Nate's backpack. The rocks I found in his pockets made me want to cry. Just like when he was a little boy.

The treasures found in Nate’s backpack. The rocks I found in his pockets made me want to cry. Just like when he was a little boy.

With about an hour left before we had to take everyone back, I finished the laundry. Folding the t-shirts, sorting the socks, double-checking the pockets for any residue, I was content at the end of the day. What a sense of ac- complishment.

Yes, I wanted to do a better job but the clothes were much cleaner than they were eight hours previously.

The Hubs and I were exhausted but it was the least we could do for these hopeful Rangers. As the guys put on their freshly washed uniforms, it was a proud moment. We hugged goodbye, I tearfully kissed my sweet boy and they put their duffel bags on their shoulders, ready to return.

Looking better, smelling nicer, feeling like they were ready to do this. Rangers lead the way! Let's do this!

Looking better, smelling nicer, feeling like they were ready to do this. Rangers lead the way!

I will always ove this guy no matter how stinky he is or how gross his clothes are!

I will always love this guy no matter how stinky he is or how gross his clothes are!

Eight-hour pass from Ranger School, part two

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photo copy 31

13. While recycling, (a Ranger School word which means they did not pass a phase of training), we learned that our son had perfected his painting skills. I’d like to think he was responsible for the impeccable craftmanship on this door just outside the barracks. We joked with one of Nate’s buddies that if the whole Ranger School thing didn’t turn out, they could easily get a job at Home Depot.*

14. We greeted our guys with hearty hugs and upon entering the car, we began feeding them.

15. In addition to fresh glazed donuts, they were served green smoothies without complaint. Before leaving Camp Rogers, our fellas had already ingested donuts, spinach, berries, peaches and bananas. It’s a mom thing. Yes, I did write on our car windows. Again, a mom thing.

16. Nate told us one of his buddies needed a little help and we gladly agreed. Basically we told our gang that we were here to serve. Boss us around, we’ll do anything. They were very appreciative.

Do you want to know something else? Not one complaint the entire time. No sleep, little food, physically, emotionally exhausted and we never heard one harsh word or observed any impatience toward us or each other.  True, the Hubs and I had a few rough patches due to stress during the day** but these men were simply grateful and humble. Maybe everyone needs Ranger School, just sayin.’

17. It warmed my heart to see people out there supporting their Ranger School guys. I know several people who weren’t able to make it to Fort Benning for the eight-hour pass but they still found creative ways to love their Soldiers. Some sent video messages, others got perfectly timed letters, I even know a girlfriend/mom team that sent their guy a package of gourmet chocolate fruit to greet him at his apartment.

18. One of Nate’s buddies is originally from the Chicago area and is also a West Point grad. Since I grew up in a suburb near his hometown and we have a son at school in Chicago, we wished we had some deep dish pizza for him. It was an honor to serve B. and care for him as his family would.

19. Upon arriving at Commando’s, our three charges frantically began getting gear and refits. We spent a considerable amount of time there. One of our guys purchased nearly $600 on supplies. This was a necessary visit but wow, the growing stench in the back of our vehicle was proof that another big priority was laundry. That particular event is worthy of at least  one solitary blog post.

20. I had been pushing turkey jerky, homemade chocolate chip cookies while in Commando’s. This is my boy with a green smoothie smile. He won’t be having those for quite a while and they all seemed to appreciate our efforts to feed them well. #momthing

21. The guys struck a good balance between allowing us to take care of them and taking responsiblity for their day. At long last, with their tummies slightly full of nutrition and their supplies re-stocked, we continued full force into the day. Tick, tick, tick…

* My husband worked the graveyard shift at Home Depot following three consecutive job lay-offs so Home Depot holds a special place in our hearts.

** Laundry induced stress, stay tuned.

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Eight hour pass – Ranger School, part one

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We are now home after a whirlwind, eight-hour visit with our Ranger candidate. We wouldn’t have traded it for anything but goodness, we are two tired parents!

photo copy 27This is the beginning of some posts about this interesting chapter as military parents.

1. On Thursday night we received a very brief phone call from a Ranger Instructor, informing us that our son had passed the Darby phase and that the guys would be ready at 9am. We got there a little early and the parking lot was filling up with excited family members and friends.

2. Soldiers walked by inside Camp Rogers and collectively, our eagerness was dashed until 10 am. A few moms/wives spoke to their Soldier through the fence and learned their guys were recycles. I felt so bad for them. A couple of guys trudged out, ragged and thin some informing us that they had been dropped. I spoke to a few of the women and learned I was not alone in trying to figure out if we had caught a glimpse of our Soldier.

3. Taxis were waiting and a couple of guys paid a driver an additional $20 to wait specifically for them no matter what. I helped facilitate the transaction by handing the $20 to the cabbie through the fence. When a couple other guys tried to take the taxi, there was a moment of tension but it all worked out.

4. A picture I snapped while waiting. We were not prepared for the pressure we would feel trying to get everything done. This was calm before the storm.photo copy 22

5. I didn’t bother with any makeup, the mission was clear. Take care of the kid and his buddies. No glitz or glamour. Not much of that kind of girl anyway but yeah, this is me. Understandably many of the girlfriends and wives looked pretty and dressed up. I’m just a mom, no need to bother. It’s all good.

6. The first time at Fort Benning several weeks ago, we learned our son was a recycle. Since this was our second time at Fort Benning, it was a blessing to learn he had passed. The Hubs paced that road waiting for his boy.

7. It took us longer to travel to him, then we had to spend time with him but we’re not complaining. The Hubs and I were honored to be able to serve our Solider and his buddies.

8. At 10 am, there was a blur of young men pouring out of the Camp Rogers.

9. People were happy. Very happy! People kissed and hugged, shook hands and cried. FREEDOM!

10. Time was of the essence as the guys just wanted to get out and enjoy the eight-hour pass.

photo copy 2811. As full as the parking lot had been, soon it was thinning out. An incredible amount of things to do in a very limited time.

12. My boy still looked like he had some meat on his bones and we took him and we whisked two other buddies the heck out of Fort Benning. Now the fun began! Rev your engines, here we go!

Five minute Friday – rest

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My first and only poem to spaghetti.

My first and only poem to spaghetti.

Oh big pot of spaghetti, do not fret

Though your Ranger Soldier isn’t back yet

Soon you will feed him and bring his lips taste

He’s been eating MRE’s, licking the wrappers as not to waste

Your zest and your flavors, your love and your care

Will renew him on eagle’s wings, he will return to the training field and then you will dare

To go back into the cabinet, wishing you could have done more

Life is exciting with a Soldier to adore!

The day will fly by, be satisfied with your task

You nourished a man who will praise God for the delicious repast

"Please feed me!" "We will, Sugar Boy!"

“Please feed me!” “We will, Sugar Boy!”

So while you can, Spaghetti, get your rest

Tomorrow’s your big day, you’re truly feeding the best of the best!

Five minutes of writing, it's wonderful for wordsmiths!

Five minutes of writing, it’s wonderful for wordsmiths!

Five Minute Friday – ordinary

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My boy is working on getting his Ranger tab.

My boy is working on getting his Ranger tab.

There is nothing ordinary about Ranger School. Some describe it as an intense 61-day combat leadership course. It has been called the “toughest combat course in the world” and “the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer.” This is all true but for me it’s where a piece of my heart now dwells because my son is there.

On Wednesday night starting at about 9:00 pm, those who had made it through the first few days of grueling initial training, started a 12 mile ruck (Army slang for march) that ended at about midnight. From all accounts it is a brutal trek.

And I see the Lord’s hands upon my Soldier. When he was about eight years old, the Hubs and I were watching tv. Nate had his prayer journal nearby and was writing.

Not many eight year old boys even possess a prayer journal but my oldest olive shoot is extra-ordinary. He inquired, “How do you spell Hallelujah?”

This kid is well beyond ordinary and I praise the Lord for that!

This kid is well beyond ordinary and I praise the Lord for that!

The Hubs and I just looked at each other dumbfounded.

Who was this kid? How did he get to living in this house with us as his parents???

These moments became rather ordinary, Nate doing things in a remarkable and humble way.

Things most people can’t do or choose not to and there Nate is plodding away, his eyes on the prize.

Academically, athletically and most importantly spiritually, my olive shoot presses on, marches on.

Nate’s ordinary is everyone else’s incredible.

Bless him and all those who are joining him on the journey.

It's like getting a little word present every week. You should check it out!

It’s like getting a little word present every week. You should check it out!

Ranger School

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Here's what I am doing today. Gotta keep busy, no sense in idling my time and mind.

Here’s what I am doing today. Gotta keep busy, no sense in idling my time and mind.

Somewhere between the hours of 10am-1pm on Sunday, my oldest olive shoot began Ranger School. While I sat in church, my Soldier was preparing for an exhausting journey that can last at least two months.

Since moms aren’t allowed at Ranger School, (HA!) the way I can help my OS is through support and prayer. The Hubs and the orange hair, freckle face OS gathered around the phone Saturday afternoon with Nate on the other line. Individually we offered prayers up to the Lord on Nate’s behalf. It is yet another humbling, raw moment which stretches me as a mama and a Christ follower.

The face of a Sugar Boy

The face of a Sugar Boy

Of course, as it is customary in my home, I prayed AND cried. It’s like a black bean quinoa burger with organic cheddar goat cheese. They just go together. I attempted to hold back my tears but that never works.

I’m proud, I’m scared, I’m worried, I’m completely confident.

I trust, I doubt, I second guess, I dream.

I borrow trouble, then I give it all to the Lord. And so it goes. Yes, it’s complicated. Don’t judge. ;0

Today I began writing my boy. As a word girl, this is therapeutic. I’m also a walker girl. If you see a pink-haired middle age woman walking down the street with a knee brace and maybe a back pack, she isn’t talking to herself and she isn’t crazy either (at least at that moment). She’s just talking to God. And she’s also listening. It’s not as weird as some of you might think. Or maybe it is and in that case, I feel sorry for you.

This is as close as we're going to get to Nate for a while. I took this picture after we had finished talking and praying for him.

This is as close as we’re going to get to Nate for a while. I took this picture after we had finished talking and praying for him.

In a rare, authorized moment, I’m allowing you access to the first card I wrote Nate for Ranger School. You will note that I occasionally call him Sugar Boy. He has already told me that he will probably be throwing out all the cards once he reads them to minimize weight. For posterity sake, I might take pictures of the correspondence sent from our home since he might want to read it again someday.

According to the daily Ranger School roster, Nate and the other guys had a grueling physical activity test at 3 in the morning. If we don’t hear from him in the next three days, that’s a good sign. I can’t wait to hear about this incredible life experiences but then again, I can!

Nehemiah 1:11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”