Spiritual Commissioning Ceremony

22 Comments

The Hubs and I workin’ it at West Point, you gotta

Sitting in the hair salon, black smock snapped up around my neck, oh yes, you know it, I was a thing of beauty when my stylist asked me about the West Point graduation. At last distance and perspective are finally allowing me to drink in the enormity of the events. Thank you Julian for a fine haircut and a necessary reflection on life.With the ligature of exhaustion behind me, I’ve summarized that if Graduation Week was a car it would have been a cherry red Maserati with Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel. Fast. Full throttle. Overwhelming.

Hat toss!

We were spent, emotionally, physically and financially. At times, I wasn’t sure I could do one more early morning departure and high intensity event. And although the actual graduation ceremonies were truly epic, they were eclipsed by what happened afterward.

Upon receiving his diploma, Nate went to finalize things back at the barracks. Our gang headed to the Cadet Chapel for an event organized by Officers’ Christian Fellowship.

We were so happy to get something to eat and drink before the ceremony!

After the sponsored lunch reception, we walked into the chapel. For the second time that day, our son’s name was read and this time, he joined the other newly minted officers up to the front of the church. Still mottled with sweat but thanks to ice cold bottled water and a sandwich, I now had a small amount of energy to prepare me for what was next.

Nate and the others were asked to find their families in the chapel. Tom, who is an LTC, a West Point grad and the current OCF coordinator, instructed each of the 2LTs to locate a place where they could be prayed over individually. That’s when Nate knelt down before us. Head bowed and silent, the Hubs and I, followed by his two younger brothers placed our hands over this gift from God. I laid claim to Nate’s freshly shorn head and tenderly held his face in a way he has allowed me to as his mom. He was wearing his dress uniform for the first time in public. So handsome and strong. The Hubs had a firm grasp of one of Nate’s shoulders, Aaron and Ike rested their hands on the other.

Nate had just demonstrated a profound act of service and submission as an Officer in the United States Army and as a Christ follower.

An intimate family moment captured

Somber and reverent, we entered the sacred moment. Nate’s girlfriend and her dad traveled all the away from El Salvador and my stepfather were present and remained seated. I wonder what it must have been like to be an observer, to catch words and facial expressions filling the chapel.

Protuberant pride and unspeakable humility were shared by all even though I heard only the prayers of my clan.

I have been privileged to pray for and with my children. We have prayed for their health, salvation and future, even things like basketball games, grades and friendships. On one hand, you could say we are skilled prayer warriors but I wouldn’t recommend that. Yet despite years of experience, I have never felt so spiritually raw as I did during this moment.

My awesome, exhausted, sweaty and dehydrated olive shoots

What do you adequately say to God when your child has successfully completed this 47 month journey? Are there even words in human language to express to the Lord all the thankfulness a mama can contain for bringing her child thus far? And how you do ask the Author of Life to protect your baby without sounding selfish because you mean it truly from the bottom of your heart for all the other Soldiers everywhere in harm’s way?

So glad someone took this picture of us

So this is when the Hubs and I began to lose it. Tears streaming, hearts open wide, we supplicated and spoke to our Heavenly Father. Oh we were a fright to be sure, stripped of our own energy, but there we were – a daddy praying for his boy, a pink hair-streaked mama inclining the ear of the Lord and two knuckle-headed brothers spiritually lifting up their big brother. Not a traditional Norman Rockwell scene but I hope it was a beautiful picture in God’s sight.

The West Point part of our adventure draws to a close but the memories usher in. A deeper level of faith and trust are now required. Yes, it’s a lot to absorb. If you have read this, you have blessed me and helped me more than you know.

And this is what happened to me at the hair salon in June and on a steamy day in May at West Point. I’m glad Julian asked, I must be ready for this. Lord, let it be so. ❤

Creating unconditional love on cardboard, as if that’s possible

4 Comments

Creating a senior table for him was an act of love.

Wednesday night, on the eve of high school graduation, moms and dads filled the gymnasium for a shining gesture. With Herculean effort, we decorated senior tables for our offspring. I know because I was among those parents attempting, in some impossible way to contain love on a 30″ x 30″ plot of space. Talk about pressure!

For weeks I had been staging Aaron’s table at home. With two children graduating nine days apart in two different states, I had to start early to make sure it was good.

In 2008, Nate had a senior table and Aaron deserved for me to put in the same painstaking effort. In my practice sessions, sometimes I’d tape a picture in one place on the cardboard and then move it elsewhere. A few of my table prototypes were created actually in Aaron’s room so he would see them when he came home from school. I’d anticipate the moment when Aaron would enter.

Yes, I said to myself, hopefully he will not collapse upon seeing its beauty.

Truly, I speculated, he will notice how I angled the ukelele JUST so,

put the candle HERE,

Oh how I adored seeing a classmate write encouraging words to my boy, such loving messages filled these pages.

the coffee cup THERE

and the tiny bell from Ukraine on THIS spot.

And when Aaron would walk into his room, my ear would keen for the slightest gasp of wonder. If a second passed without a response, I couldn’t stand it any longer. “Aaron, what do you think?” I’d beckon so desperate for his approval. Without exception Aaron showed his gratefulness. Whew. Other times, you know, just in case a friend stopped by and you never know when that just might happen, I would do the whole set-up in the dining room and dare I admit, I’d walk down the stairs several times just to get a glimpse afresh.

Senior pic taken by his aunt.

As the mama of three OS, for me with no other girl in my household, it was the equivalent of seeing a daughter in a wedding gown or a prom dress. Don’t laugh. I felt joy. The Hubs found other versions of the table in his office or in the hallway. Some family members were even blessed with text messages and pictures from me marking a new table development concept. A few were kind enough to acknowledge receipt of those pictures. Oh thank you if you indulged me! I sewed a swatch of remnant material from his books pants fabric. Aaron approved.

Then I stitched a coordinating rectangle of some extra fabric a friend had given me. Aaron liked the manly colors. He assisted my efforts by writing in gold a poem from his favorite author William Cowper and I trimmed the sides of the cardboard with pages from an old family Bible.

It wasn’t perfect but the time had come for the official unveiling. Insecure feelings never replaced the warm and wonderful sentiment I felt inside.

But I bet I wasn’t the only one who spent copious amounts of time on the child’s senior table project; based on what I saw, our collective souls were poured onto those hallowed folding tables.

We did not create altars for our children, I guess we just wanted our son or daughter and all who passed by to smile and either say, “Wow, I am loved” or “Awesome, someone thinks very highly of that kid.” If you think this post is stupid, then we probably couldn’t be friends. If you’ve read this far, you understand. Let’s have lunch.

Thursday arrived and tears flowed as we all beamed.

I had been crying throughout the day but vanity aside, I had to get a picture of me by Aaron’s table.

I gazed and cried stopping by many of Aaron’s friend’s tables. I noted with appreciation that none of these tables felt ostentatious as if they were trying to steal attention from someone else.

The body of Christ enveloped the mood. With our individual 7 1/2 square feet carefully crafted, the seniors marked the passage of time. I paused with gratitude over the families represented and prayed for their children’s future.

Have you ever done something like for a loved one? What special things would hallmark your “table”? I’d so enjoy hearing about it. May you all have opportunity for such a celebration of life.

After graduation, Aaron spent a long time reading the messages. What a thankful moment for all of us.

Questions: How do you handle the desire to be perfect with the reality that you’re not? What do you do when you feel competitive with other people and struggle with inadequacy?