Seeing Nate for the first time after completing Ranger School

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No sooner had we arrived at our hotel near Fort Benning, when Nate called to check on our travel schedule. We had just put our bags in the room and the Hubs and I begged and pleaded to see him immediately!

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After all we had been through – the driving, the praying, the waiting, the stress, the letters, the gum, the recycling, followed by the driving, the praying, the feeding, the laundry, the eight-hour pass, the stress, the care package, the recycling (twice), etc., we deserved to see this guy, don’t you agree?

Twenty minutes later, we were hugging our Soldier. Considering everything he had been through during Ranger School, our boy looked great. We learned later that the men are well fed and hydrated before we get to see them. My mama’s heart quaked at the thought of seeing him emaciated and zombie-like. Instead, we were able to enjoy conversation and see that his spirit was still very much intact after the Ranger experience. His waist looked smaller but he didn’t have a sunken chest or hollow eyes which was something I really dreaded.

Perhaps the only glimpse I had of him not being in complete reality was when I asked him to take this picture. Had my Soldier been his usual self, he might not have stood in front of the car and posed for a few shots with this sign in the background.2013-07-11 16.20.58

Yes it’s super corny and if the tables were turned, it would have probably annoyed me when I was his age but Nate indulged my parental pride.

Careful to not push it too much, I did, however ask permission before I told our server at the restaurant that he was dealing with a Ranger. When Nate said, “NO!” I refrained and just prayed for an opportunity to casually mention the fact.

Turns out, I didn’t have to force it because soon enough, we learned that our server was a former Ranger who had been injured while serving his country. There are many broad-shouldered military types in the Fort Benning/Columbus, Georgia area.

Nate’s brothers and a family friend were on their way to celebrate this milestone. In my next post, I’ll share some reflections on that special time.

RLTW!

Btw, if you want to read an actual Ranger’s account about the experience, click here!

$40 or $60? We have our answer and it’s good

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We got the news!

$40 ATM withdrawal!2013-07-07 14.48.02

It is a proud and significant moment in our Soldier’s life. He did all the work, we have merely been behind the scenes cheering him on but I’m telling you, it does feel like we ALL accomplished this tab. 

Nate began this journey in March with the hopes of being done by May. That’s not how it went down. He got recycled in Darby for five weeks, while there met a rat, passed the mountain phase but then he recycled swamps. He will graduate this Friday among his buddies, graduating class 7-13. It will be surreal. Nate will introduce us to the guys he has come to love and admire. I can’t wait!

Good thing we don't have smell-a-vision on this blog. My boy hadn't showered for 10 days, can you imagine?

Good thing we don’t have smell-a-vision on this blog. My boy hadn’t showered for 10 days, can you imagine?

Over 140 days of arduous training is complete and now the stories begin.

Thanks be to God for the good things He has done! My Soldier heeded the word’s on his cap and now we will learn about the cast of char- acters that made his Ranger School time unique, hilarious and irritating as heck. They will never forget this time together. What a feeling that must be.

As for me, I shall never be able to walk by a Soldier in uniform with a Ranger tab and not stop and say something. Especially this Ranger, Colonel Eric Kail. I’ll probably also burst into tears. Oh to put my arms around my boy in a few days, to see that tab on his sleeve, what a moment that will be.

Our hearts are with all the guys and families who have endeavored on this journey. Bless you all! RLTW!

Tomorrow’s a big day – final results of Ranger School

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photo copy 8We are anywhere from 12-24 hours away from hearing the big news about our Ranger School student.

Did he pass?

Did he not pass?

I cannot even bring myself to use the other word for not passing.

I suppose you can feel my heart beating straight through this blog.

Thump-thump thump-thump thump…

Oh, if I hadn’t had that cardiac ablation a few years ago, I think this ticker would really be giving me fits.

We await the hidden message –

$40 ATM withdrawal – my Soldier got his tab

$60 ATM withdrawal – he didn’t

Whether it’s my physical heart or the mama one that the Lord fashioned me with 23 years ago upon learning I was pregnant, I’ll never get used to this waiting stuff. It doesn’t suit me just like these wrinkles in between my forehead and the other daily assaults endured by many a middle aged woman.

Nate’s been through two recycles (Darby and swamps) and this is his last chance to pass. We await him with open arms and gifts either way. Tears of joy or pangs of sadness, oh my, I don’t even know what to expect.

All we know for sure is that his days of

  • getting 2-3 hours of sleep
  • eating MREs in 30 seconds
  • having a core body temp of 104 degrees at least once
  • trudging 800 meters through the Florida swamps
  • then marching 9 kilometers to his patrol base at night
  • followed by 17 more kilometers to somewhere else
  • while carrying 80-100 pounds on his back
  • at two in the morning
  • being away from communication and contact with loved ones
  • for over 140 days

these things will be over by this time next week.

A new life chapter will begin.

As we await this news, I’m clinging to these verses.

Oh how I love this child.

Oh how I love this child.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (my emphasis) 

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! – Psalm 139:13-17

$40, $60…thump-thump-thump…RLTW. Either way, we love you Nate. More soon…

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!

Ranger School student – do not grow weary

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Good thing we don't have smell-a-vision on this blog. My boy hadn't showered for 10 days, can you imagine?

My boy hadn’t showered for 10 days, can you imagine?

As wonderful as it was to hear our son preach on Father’s Day (and oh, it was indeed a blessing!) –

We found ourselves crestfallen later in the day when getting news about our oldest son who is at Ranger School.

Sending and receiving letters is the way loved ones communicate with their Ranger School students. Thankfully our Soldier is a frequent letter writer. A sizeable stack of letters has been accrued during his journey thus far. I’m reminded of the letters Nate began to write when he began his Army journey at West Point.

2013-06-23 15.53.51Ranger School students are also quite adept and clever and some have found another way of communicating very important information.

Through a simple ATM withdrawal, Ranger School students can communicate whether they think they are a “go.”

Last Sunday, Nate used the ATM withdrawal to speak to us.

The general rule of thumb is if a Ranger School student withdraws:

$20 – He probably passed.

$40 – He passed.

$60 – He probably didn’t pass.

When we checked Nate’s account (with his permission) we saw the dreaded withdrawal. $60. Crud muffins. On Father’s Day no less.

At this stage in the game, the guys are at their breaking point. Hungry. Exhausted. Sore. Smelly. Irritable.

Disappointed is not an adequate word to describe it felt learning this news. We all started wearing our grumpy pants. He was almost done with the whole thing. Bummer.

It even hurts to write this because the reality is that many of Nate’s close buddies graduated without him. Although we were (and are) really excited for them, I’d be lying if I didn’t say how sweet it would have been to see my boy get his tab with his buddies.

Yet if we linger on the melancholy, we’d miss God’s blessings. Beyond the tab, we trust in what the Lord is doing.

Though Nate had not received any mail, God arranged a special delivery of the highest order at a time he really needed it.

Cousins who are also brothers in Christ.

Cousins who are also brothers in Christ.

My cousin is in the Army. He’s in Special Forces as Battalion Chaplain. A well-seasoned, determined minister of the Gospel, Mike has the biggest heart for military families you ever did see. Mike is also very respected by his large, extended family of whom I am a part.

Well, guess who happens to be stationed in Florida?  You’ll never guess who preached at Nate’s chapel? Yes! My cousin!

So although I didn’t get to see or talk to my boy, a trusted family member did. Nate is as hungry spiritually as he is physically and what Mike shared with the guys challenged and encouraged them. Mike preached from these verses in the Bible –

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

The main point of his message was this. Trust your equipment.

According to Nate, the message resonated deeply with these weary men. Mike shared that he wasn’t just talking about a Soldier’s gear but something else deeply important. My cousin/chaplain encouraged these men to trust in God’s Word. It is fail safe, 100% reliable and true. As a veteran of Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq, Mike has married, buried, carried and tarried many a Soldier and his/her family. He’s got the cred to speak in a way that makes these guys listen. God has mightily used Mike and his family.

At one point during the message, one of the Nate’s buddies turned to him and said, “Dude, is this guy your cousin? He is awesome. He’s the best chaplain in the Army.” I imagine my weary boy sat up a little taller hearing these words.

The Lord’s ways are not our ways. He has a purpose. Even though this time it wasn’t for Nate to get his tab…Nate got a boost in his spirit. We pray he will become a Ranger on July 11th. But even if he doesn’t, the Lord is sovereign, we love him regardless, of course. We trust our equipment too and will not be dismayed.  RLTW.

Entertaining thoughts about entertaining – getting kids ready for guests

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Lemonhead party!

Lemonhead party!

If we know you are coming over to our house, there are things we do before you arrive. As the mama of three sons, one of whom is currently in Ranger School, I have learned that in military terms, presumably we could call it a “movement.”

We straighten up – usually a vacuum is pushed throughout the area you will visit. There is often dusting beforehand and the bathroom is cleaned. The bathroom deserves its own post though, more on that later.

There they are wearing those collared shirts. We had a guest from El Salvador visiting us among other special people.

There they are wearing those collared shirts. We had a guest from El Salvador visiting us among other special people.

They put on a nice shirt– although my boys moaned and groaned about this, we found that the mere act of putting on a collared shirt indicated they were part of the team. In our family we call it W-H style since those are the initials to our last name. Changing out of regular clothes means something special is going to happen. The collared shirt (usually a polo shirt, rarely long-sleeved)  signifies that our family, every single one of us, not just Dad and Mom, is having company. Even if only one person is invited, the level of alert is heightened.

We rehearse – Just as we had practice training sessions about manners, throughout the years, our family still goes over a list of duties before people show up.

“Ike, you’re in charge of water and drinks. Make sure no one’s glass remains empty.”

“Aaron, don’t talk too much, let others also speak and try to sit still.”

“Nate, when we’re done with dinner, gather up the plates.”

All the guys had a purpose.

So maybe you’re wondering –

Did it always work perfectly? Of course not! We never expected things to be flawless but there was a standard.

Always the life of the party, that's my Aaron!

This guy needs more than a collared shirt! My Aaron!

Did your kids feel like robots devoid of any personality? You haven’t been to our house if you’re asking that question! No, they actually had more freedom because of the rules. We made it fun and not overly formal.

Collared shirts every single time? Not every single time but often. Freshly showered, collared young men are so adorable. Sometimes they would dab a bit of cologne on before bounding down the stairs. The hint of manly fragrance on their middle school necks always made my heart grin and grow wistful. I wish those days back again quite honestly. When the doorbell rang, we were ready for our guests’ arrival. We appreciated them coming into our home.

And I must share this.

Our guests appreciate these touches although most might not even realize what happened behind the scenes. They are just blessed and isn’t that the whole point to entertaining, blessing someone? The minimal preparation we employed allows our guests to be at ease. In some way it announces this family is ready and we have things (slightly) under control.

Last summer, my oldest OS rented a house near Fort Benning and he and his buddies hosted a gathering. Nate called me for advice on menu selection and such. He even wanted to make sure he served a salad (this melted my heart). My boy wanted people to feel welcome in his home. I’m sure my Soldier was a gracious host and maybe he even wore a collared shirt!

And we recently had a 51st birthday party for the Hubs. It was a Lemonhead theme because it’s his favorite candy. The orange hair, freckle face OS  was an integral part of the planning and a huge help before, during and after the event.

But true to form before the guests arrived, Ike asked the standard question. “Do I have to wear a collared shirt?” As this picture indicates, Ike got his answer.

Those are two very lemony collared shirts, don't you think?

Those are two very lemony collared shirts, don’t you think?

Out of all my boys, Ike is very gifted with hos- pitality. His servant’s heart has parlayed into him having a little part-time job at a nearby event venue. He’s the guy walking around with hors d’oeuvres and refilling non-alcoholic drinks. So I guess being a good host, getting kids ready for company has paid off both here and away from home. The more we do it, the better we become as both guests and faithful stewards of our home.

So what are the little things you do before you have dinner guests? Do you even dare try? It is scary! How have you prepared your kids to co-host special times at your house?

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?

Inside my Soldier’s cap

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My Soldier's cap

My Soldier’s cap

While in the process of doing laundry during Nate’s eight-hour pass from Ranger School, my Soldier’s filthy patrol cap appeared among the pile.

“How can a person’s head get so gross?” I wondered this in the confines of the hotel laundry room. Ew.

But that Army cap became a thing of beauty when I looked beyond the grime.

Oh how I love this child.

Oh how I love this child.

Unbeknownst to me, prior to starting Ranger School, my Soldier had written in black Sharpie pen these words found in Philippians 4:12-13.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,     whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

As the Hubs and I were scrambling around to help him on his eight-hour pass from Ranger School, it was clear that Nathan wanted us to see those Bible verses on his combat cap.

When our tired boy spoke about these words that afternoon, it was like he was speaking of a great, uncovered treasure. Although Nate has read Philippians 4:12-13 many times before, he understood them now in a more profound way. His current circumstances made the Scripture come alive. It’s so powerful when the Lord speaks to us so individually, don’t you think?

IMG_0037I guess when you only gobble down two MREs a day, get maybe two hours of sleep a night and are pushed to your absolute physical and emotional max, you really do know what it is like to be in need and to have plenty. I can’t even imagine.

Though I try, it’s beyond my grasp, my heart will only allow me so much understanding or it would crumble.

Judging from the letters Nate has sent, in many ways, our Soldier has learned contentment and joy really are found in Christ alone. The strength he summons forth is the result of training, determination and ultimately Jesus. We do what we can on the home-front but Nate realizes that the Lord is his supply. We come up alongside him best we can but the truth found on that combat cap is what really gets him through the rough patches.

Oddly enough, Nate didn’t intentionally write those verses on his hat with the foreknowledge of their relevance. It was only when the chaplain came around to visit the guys during the mountain phase of Ranger School, that Nate put the pieces together and saw how cool it was that he had chosen THOSE verses for such a time as this! He’ll never be able to read Philippians 4:12-13 the same again. Neither shall I.

So today on Memorial Day, I’m deeply humbled, proud beyond words to be the mama of a Soldier. I’m also a grateful cousin, daughter-in-law, sister, grand-daughter and friend of military service people.

Thank you isn’t enough gratitude for all those who have served.

Pray-for-Our-Troops

Check out this beautiful patriotic artwork by a military mom!

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.

photo copy 19

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.