Five minute Friday – song

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This boy when he sings, makes my heart smile.

This boy when he sings, makes my heart smile.

I know my family has found the sweet spot in the day when my orange-hair, freckle face 16-year-old starts to sing.

You will not hear him on an album. His ministry-minded middle is in the Moody Men’s Choir and he sings with wild abandon. He sings almost too much. I love it, don’t get me wrong but there’s a sharp contract between the two.

Isaac, though, most of his songs are silly and they are less frequent. These songs can be of the suburban white-boy rap quality busting bad rhymes about important things like how much he hates swiss chard

or cleaning the marble kitchen island

You know, deeply emotional things…NOT

Quite a few are about me being his mom.

Oh these make me giggle

But more importantly they tell me something very important.

He feels safe.

When I sing, it means I am allowing you to hear my voice. You have been permitted to hear my non-musical melodies. I have deemed you safe. When I am off-pitch or goof up a word, if you are hearing my song, you have been given a gift not necessarily in the form of sound but in the form of security.

Writing for five minutes is a treasure. Do it! Click here for deets!

Writing for five minutes is a treasure. Do it! Click here for deets!

When people sing in this family, it brings more than music to my ears. It brings healing.

Question: When someone in your family sings, what does that mean to your heart?

One day, three boys

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Last Saturday, my olive shoots were in three diametrically opposed places geographically, emotionally and spiritually.

  1. My ministry minded middle was flying back to school following a two-week tour of the southwest with Moody Men’s Choir.
  2. Ike, my orange hair, freckle face guy was feeling like a ginger VIP hanging with the Chicago Bulls and his Aunt Lorri in the Windy City. Truly an event worthy of its own blog post.

    That's just Ike and his new best friend, Stacy King, former Chicago Bulls player, nbd.

    That’s just Ike and his new best friend, Stacey King, former Chicago Bulls player, nbd.

  3. And then bringing up the rear, far, far behind, was my Soldier. He called us from Georgia while on his way to Wal-Mart to make a most unusual purchase. Rat poison.

Following a most enlightening conversation with our oldest OS, I proceeded to write him a letter, I mean, what else could I do? I’m sharing the contents of this letter with you should your child ever inform you s/he is on his/her way to buy rat poison. Yes, I do occasionally refer to him as Sugar Boy.

Even if you do not identify with my children’s unique life situations, you will probably understand my mama’s heart. I ask a question at the end of this post and would love to hear from you.

Ok, here’s the letter.

Dear Sugar Boy,

We just got off the phone with you and as I look upon my dirty house filled with a million projects, suddenly the most important thing I can do is write you.

Having you as a son affords me many opportunities to pray. Having you as a son gives me an interesting life. Having you as a son means I laugh more, cry frequently, feel immensely proud while simultaneously feeling remarkably small and humble.

photo copy 8Hearing you angry and discouraged makes me want to rescue you and beat all those jerks up! Have they not encountered a mother’s wrath? SERIOUSLY! Yet this is the life you have chosen. When others went easy, you deliberately picked the gritty and tough. You can do this. One day you will be astonished at what you did and see the manifold ways the LORD gave you the strength to persevere.

Trust me learning your son was cuddled by a rat is quite odd. I incline my ear to the Lord and ask for what purpose is this happening? And then at that moment, I trust.

Allow God to fulfill the work He has set forth in your life. There is no time of day or night when I am not loving you or thinking about you. Hold firm to your faith. Do not allow tormenters or enemies to bring you down. Pay attention to the blessings nearby…that the rat scurried by and did not bite, that you have a sense of humor, that you are able to withstand more than most.

My Soldier

My Soldier

Now I will go straighten up my messy house hoping to keep the rats away as well.

Be strong, my precious Soldier and son. I love you,

mama
Question: What has being a parent to your child afforded you? How has God used your children to mold and shape you as a person?

Five Minute Friday – beloved

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If you love to write and have five minutes, you really should try this!

If you love to write and have five minutes, you really should try this!

Recently a strange set of circumstances presented themselves to my ministry-minded middle.

It’s hard to believe I’m going to even associate the word “beloved” with this post

It was evil

wicked

deceptive

sinister

Those words describe the circumstance since I no longer cuss. Trust me, a few other words come to mind but I will refrain. It hasn’t been easy.

556038_4505844441252_476756579_nBut as I have prayed, cried out and petitioned the Lord, “WHY? How could this crazy thing happen?” God has reassured me, (the fretting, despondent mama miles away from her boy) that Aaron acted in authority and spiritual confidence. Because he is one of God’s beloved, my son responded in a strong and manly fashion. He was never fearful and possessed righteous anger over the incident.

To me, the word “beloved” doesn’t sound very masculine yet it is a beautiful word for believers suitable for use with both genders. The Enemy tried to throw fiery darts my son’s way but he was unsuccessful.

Take that, you jerk.

Jesus thwarted the plans of the Evil One because Aaron is a beloved child not only to me but to the Lord.

I love someone in Chicago.

I love someone in Chicago.

Bless me, Mama

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

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

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

“Bless me, Mama,” he says.

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

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

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

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

“Mom, I didn’t mean it!”

You can’t be serious, Child.

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

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

For a second, I hesitated.

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

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

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

I love and admire this potato head.

I love and admire this potato head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

Five Minute Friday – afraid

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My son spends a lot of time on the train. I spend a lot of time on my knees praying for his safety.

My son spends a lot of time on the train. I spend a lot of time on my knees praying for him.

“Don’t worry, Mom, I’ve got brass knuckles.”

This was my ministry minded middle’s way of reassuring me.

He has brass knuckles, therefore,

I guess,

if he is attacked on the subway or on the streets

at night

in a high crime part of the city

while walking back from coaching an inner city boys’ basketball team

I’m not to worry.

Uh, yeah, right…

It doesn’t work that way when you’re a mom.

I grew up feeling a lot of fear, that “muscle” is well-developed.

The trust and faith muscles atrophied

I’m building them back, working them out though.

Aaron provides me with many training sessions with the Lord.

“Push past being afraid,” God reminds. “I’ve got this. I’m Jehovah Shammah (God who is there).”

Hurricane Sandy encountering MY olive shoot in Chicago. This is him in the picture!

Hurricane Sandy encountering MY olive shoot in Chicago. This is him and a buddy in the picture!

And when he went to Lake Shore Drive to experience Hurricane Sandy and sent me THIS picture of the waters nearly engulfing him…

Oh Lord, my olive shoots

With only five minutes to write, I featured just one olive shoot currently on my heart but I have a Soldier and an orange hair, freckle face OS too, sooooo,

Funky chicks write for five minutes! Come on and join us!

Funky chicks write for five minutes! Come on and join us! Click here for deets.

At least the crime rate is lower during cold weather – (another one of Aaron’s gems…)

Blustery heart

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photoA cold morning finds
a mama worried –
about a Soldier,
a ministry-minded middle
and an orange hair, freckle face olive shoot.
Tears flow.
They’re not in trouble or doing anything wrong (or at least not that I, I mean she know/s of!).

Two hours later
she reads Scripture for a weekly Bible study
Gently, unexpectedly
God tucks comfort and assurance into her heart.

“It is good for a man to bear the yoke

while he is young.”

Lamentations, of course, this totally makes sense
This mama can be
a big time lamenter

And just like that
Worries find solace and melt away.

On this January day
She breathes.

Five Minute Friday – Cherish

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You have five minutes to write, join us and feel the spirit move!

You have five minutes to write, join us and feel the spirit move! Check it out here!

About 10 years ago, the Lord placed a deep longing in my heart. My boys were entering stages in life where their voices were changing, pimples were rearing their nasty blackheads, muscles were growing, I could see girls were checking them out as if they were tasty bits of candy.

God has used my story to speak into my sons' lives. I never would have expected anything good to come out of my regretful decisions but thankfully I AM NOT GOD!

God has used my story to speak into my sons’ lives. I never would have expected anything good to come out of my regretful decisions but thankfully I AM NOT GOD!

I wanted to give them a vision about sex that I had never properly learned. As a result, I squandered that gift from God time and time again. When I looked at my guys, I saw their potential and power and the fact that I forsook this treasure during my formative years.

Was it possible to teach my olive shoots a better way? Could I even dare to suggest (along with the Hubs) that our boys, virile and mighty, wait to have sex until they were married? It’s in the Bible and all but could we have the audacity to encourage them that to realize that their bodies were to be cherished? I mean, they are guys after all!

I have often inquired of the Lord why did He only give my sons to raise? His replies are deep and personal but one of them that I wish to share with you is that Jesus gave me a responsibility. He has said, “Teach those guys about Me. Train them up with everything you’ve got! Teach your olive shoots that every single part of them is worthy. Instruct them in my ways even if they are counter-culture and difficult. ”

I really hope I don't get killed for posting this picture! They still have tender hearts and strong muscles.

I really hope I don’t get killed for posting this picture! They still have tender hearts and strong muscles.

Treasure God's Word, orange hair, freckle face olive shoot.

Treasure God’s Word, orange hair, freckle face olive shoot.

As I contemplate the word “cherish” as it applies to talking about this sensitive subject, I feel that the Lord is pleased with this aspect of my parenting. They are 22, 18 and 16, so far, so good.

We are not a perfect family. My olive shoots are now 22, 18 and 16 and their paths have a few crooked places but I am blessed to see that they value their purity. They are cherishing something I did not. Bless them, O Lord. Bless them. Amen.

When answers are few…

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A dear friend from high school experiences a great loss and then endures another huge tragedy immediately afterward. My head is still reeling from the news of the first sadness and then, bam, another one. Someone please tell me I’m dreaming, this can’t be happening to such kind people! Why, O Lord, why???

The night before I was taking pictures of the amazing black bean quinoa burgers I made. The next morning, I'm seeking Aaron's thoughts on much deeper things. I'm blessed to have a quinoa burger, Jesus loving boy.

Saturday night I took pictures of the amazing black bean quinoa burgers I made. The next morning, I’m seeking Aaron’s thoughts on much deeper things. I’m blessed to have a black bean quinoa burger, Jesus loving boy.

I reach out to my ministry-minded olive shoot who’s a Biblical Exposition major at Moody Bible institute in Chicago.  With a semester of Bible college, surely he can explain why God would allow these things to happen.

He can’t.

Ten minutes later, the pastor is setting up for church. He’s having technical difficulties with the computer, the projector, whatnot. Thankfully we attend a very modest small church so it’s not like we’re having a huge mass of people. I almost didn’t go to church, too vulnerable, I’m too sad.

But where else should I be but among Christ followers who can pray? It is a safe place for emotions.

And I approach the pastor, explain the sorrowful details, imploring him to make sense of it all. Tears flow, it’s hard to talk. Please give me answers, while simultaneously trying to fix the audio-visual issues, because I need them. NOW.

Lord, I don't understand

Lord, I don’t understand

He can’t.

All the human, mortal, flawed people I asked, they couldn’t come up with answers. What really could they say? But they listen and their hearts break. It validates my anguish and I know they will pray for those who are deep in the valley of grief.

I know where I need to go. Before the Lord. Even though it hurts and I might not completely understand. I speak honestly with God, my perfect, trusted Friend. I reach into his Word, I find truth and blessed assurance.

HE can –

heal (Psalm 6)

comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

lighten our darkness (Psalm 18:29)

provide refuge (Psalm 57:1)

strengthen (Psalm 84:4)

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:19

Please Lord, comfort those who mourn today.

Please Lord, comfort those who mourn today.

Five Minute Friday – Dive

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Lord, please forgive me for watching 30 minutes of this incredibly stupid show!

Lord, please forgive me for watching 30 minutes of this incredibly stupid show!

After our company left on Wednesday, I turned on the tv. Bad idea. If the Five Minute Friday were any other word, I wouldn’t even be sharing but yes,

I watched about 30 minutes of Celebrity Diving and I repent. Perhaps the stupidest show ever created.

Strangely though, that ridiculous show, which I wouldn’t have watched had the tv not been on that particular channel, it did get me thinking about diving.

That feeling of plunging into the unknown is exhilarating.

The whole reason we had company on Wednesday night is because two people jumped into something.

In some way, you could say these guys are divers!

In some way, you could say these guys are divers!

Last year, my ministry-minded olive shoot began tutoring Hispanic students at a local church every Monday evening. He became fast friends with one of the boys and soon Aaron was working with this young man every week. As I contemplate the word “dive,” I see how my OS jumped into this opportunity with all his might.

During break from college, Aaron returned to visit the students and soon reunited with Mario. His mother embraced my boy and an offer to make us dinner materialized.

Diving into opportunity and deliciousness, two moms of three olive shoots bond over food, faith and family.

Diving into opportunity and deliciousness, two moms of three olive shoots bond over food, faith and family.

Two days later, Miriam was at my house. Homemade, from scratch tostadas, homemade mashed beans, Habanero sauce, queso fresco – mouth-watering delicious, authentic Mexican food carefully prepared for us to enjoy.  This precious mom of three olive shoots dove right in to my kitchen. Without any hesitation, she prepared us a meal and insisted on serving us even though we would have been happy to make our own plates.

We dove into our meal, the experience, the love and common bonds we shared. I want to dive into that moment again.

So what’s Five Minute Friday? What’s 5 minute Friday? It’s where a beautiful crowd spends five minutes all writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here. Check it out, I love it! 5minutefriday

One-word prayers

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Before having our first dinner of 2013 –

photo copy 4And after the Hubs had prayed,

I had an idea

(A truly beautiful idea if you ask me)

Initially it wasn’t warmly received

But I insisted

And so we went around the dining room table

Falafel, salad, mung bean sprouts and such, they paused

Cherishing these moments together

Cherishing these moments together

Three precious olive shoots

– A Soldier

– A ministry-minded middle

– An orange hair, freckle face sophomore

The Hubs and I

Offered a one-word prayer for the person to our left

Here are the brief utterances we spoke to each other

The one-word prayers we shared for each other. I am curious to see how these words are fulfilled.

The one-word prayers we shared for each other. I am curious to see how these words are fulfilled.

A simple, carefully selected word emerged from our lips individually

Handpicked from God, I’d like to think

A collective sigh of relief

And blessing manifested

As we feasted (finally) on all we had been given

photo copy 2