Five Minute Friday – Opportunity

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My handsome Scrabble buddy

My handsome Scrabble buddy

My children are older and the opportunity to enjoy them for long stretches of time is shrinking. I’d love to say that when we are together, it’s always joy and laughter but that would be a lie. Sometimes we fuss and squander the time we have.

But not yesterday. I went out for coffee with my ministry-minded OS Aaron. Armed with a travel Scrabble board, we entered into a spirited game of words. Two pretty girls were nearby and while I had a good advantage over my opponent, I also eavesdropped on a nearby conversation. Upon learning that these girls loved Jesus, I leaned over to them and I guess you could say I seized the opportunity.

Obviously there was not a lot of opportunity in this sampling of letters!

Obviously there was not a lot of opportunity in this sampling of letters, however, I stayed the course and managed to land a victory!

“Um, excuse me, girls but I was just wondering if either one of you would be interested in marrying my son? I noticed that you love Jesus and so does he. What do you think?”

Sometimes you have to take advantage of the moments God gives you. Big deal, it didn’t work out, you can’t fault a mom for trying. Aaron left the coffee shop single and soundly defeated by his mom. Was it worth it? Heck yes!

"My mom took advantage of every opportunity to make this a very memorable game of Scrabble!"

“My mom took advantage of every opportunity to make this a very memorable game of Scrabble!”

Carpe diem.

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. It’s like free writing therapy for the tongue-tied, tired, or blocked blogger. Learn more here!

Excited to be doing FMFs again!

Excited to be doing FMFs again!

Watercolor works wonders this Christmas

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Did you give a loved one a very meaningful gift this Christmas? Isn’t it a satisfying feeling? Four of the presents I gave to loved ones fell into the category of little things that mean a lot.

This holiday season I discovered a talented watercolor artist and fellow West Point mom. I admired Janet’s beautiful work on facebook and contacted her. Upon sharing a bit, Janet agreed to the daunting task of painting (in miniature) a time this year when God literally and figuratively used the Hubs and my three olive shoots to save my life.

On Christmas day, after opening all the other presents, I stood in front of my family. With a silly clearing of my throat meant for dramatic effect and levity, I read the cards I had written. The atmosphere in the living room grew from festive to reflective as I became emotional. I’m blessed (and cursed) with very active Lacrimal glands; soon my pajamas became tear-stained.

Fog, rainbow, valley watercolor

Fog, rainbow, valley watercolor

After reading each card, I simultaneously handed the Hubs and my OS their gifts. (Nate received his gift after returning from El Salvador). There were no shrieks of delight, the kind that are often associated with Christmas; these presents summoned brief silence instead. Each painting was similar yet each had a unique touch.

I gave this watercolor to my Soldier.

I gave this watercolor to my Soldier.

Without getting too personal and making things awkward, I’ll share part of my literal journey.

Some of the dense fog I experienced.

Some of the dense fog I experienced.

In the fall, while traveling to Chicago to see my ministry-minded OS Aaron, I drove through miles and miles of hazardous fog. It was the second worst fog I’ve ever encountered. The most terrifying fog was to happen on the way HOME from this trip and it wasn’t the serene, mysterious kind either. There was nothing ethereal and lovely about it, this fog was treacherous and blindingly thick, a wrong tilt of the wheel would result in certain death. And I had precious cargo aboard in both directions – my orange hair, freckle face Ike.  There was no safe way off the highway, I just had to drive through the fog until things cleared. Anxiety still looms in me as I type these words. Had I veered off the highway, we would have plunged deep into the valley below.

Yet during this journey, Ike and I also encountered a rainbow. He saw it first and pointed it out to me. Both the fog and the rainbow are metaphors for other aspects of my life and we’ll just leave it there.

Ike became my living rainbow.

Ike became my living rainbow.

Janet was “commissioned” to combine elements of both the fog and the rainbow into a 2″ x 3″ watercolor (the Hubs’ painting is a bit larger and trust me, he deserved it!).

The Hubs promptly hung his watercolor painting in his office.

The Hubs promptly hung his watercolor painting in his office.

I love this.

I love this.

And this blessed woman unbeknownst to me at the time, not only created paintings for the Hubs and my three olive shoots; she made one for me. I now own an original watercolor which travels to different rooms in my house lest I am unable to see it.

These paintings are small but Janet rendered them magnificently. Though I fancy myself as a thoughtful gift giver, the Lord gets the credit. He provided the backdrop and graciously allowed the Hubs and my three olive shoots to bestow hope and support to me at a time when the valley was dangerously tempting. The Lord created the scenery and granted me insight. Then at just the right time, God carefully provided an artist, someone with whom I share a kindred spirit.

Psalm 31:8

and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

It was a privilege to give these gifts and I’d love to hear about a special gift you gave or received this Christmas. If you are interested in learning more about Janet, contact her at jacruick@yahoo.com.

Five wonderful adventures with Flat Stanleyette

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Yesterday my niece got my returned package with Flat Stanleyette. I know this because I had the pleasure of talking to my niece for nearly an hour about it! In this crazy, mixed up world we live in, it does an aunt good to know her niece was happy at school all day long.

I promised A. I would share more about our paper friend’s adventures. It was an honor to host both of the Flat Stanley’s we’ve had recently. We did our best to show them some southern hospitality.

Here are a few other things Flat Stanleyette experienced.

"I'm a Flat Stanley fan!"

“I’m a Flat Stanley fan!”

1. Flat Stanleyette went with me to the Raleigh/Durham INTERNATIONAL airport!  We picked up Aaron who is a college student at Moody Bible Institute. Christmas music filled the air even though it was a few days before Thanksgiving. A spirit of cheer and excitement was everywhere as many people waited to greet their loved ones. As I was waiting, I noticed a group of musicians playing Caribbean music by the luggage carousel. That’s when Flat Stanleyette and I looked at each other. Her big blue eyes met mine and I knew I had to do it. I approached the lead musician and asked, “Would you mind taking a picture with Flat Stanleyette?” Without a hint of embarrassment, he heartily agreed! He told me his daughter had also had a FS and she went around with him! How cool is that!

Aaron meets Guinea pig girl Wilma and Flat Stanleyette for the very first time. No words.

Aaron meets Guinea pig girl Wilma and Flat Stanleyette for the very first time. No words.

"Um, um, um, we thought Aunt Cindy was getting facial moles removed! YIKES!"

“Um, um, um, we thought Aunt Cindy was getting facial moles removed! YIKES!”

2. On another note, FS showed great bravery by accompanying me to the plastic surgeon’s office. I decided to get FOUR facial moles removed. There are three words to describe the event

1. ewww

2. ouch

3. scary

Flat Stanleyette and Guinea pig girl Cora kept me company and tried to distract me but it really didn’t work. I will spare you details but we all decided it was something we’d rather not do again.  Glad they’re off my face but not the most fun thing we’ve ever done. Understatement.

Look at this beautiful couple on their wedding day! Flat Stanleyette thought you two were sooooooo in <3!

Look at this beautiful couple on their wedding day! Flat Stanleyette thought you two were sooooooo in <3!

3. Uncle Mark and Grandpa Hugh piled Flat Stanleyette into the car and they drove to a wedding in the mountains. Hopefully she kept the two guys under control and they weren’t too crazy! The bride and groom were happy to get a picture of FS!

4. I also took Flat Stanleyette and bestie Erma to my weekly Bible Study. We are studying the book of Psalms in the Bible and FS even had her own seat. She told me afterward that she learned a lot and thought the ladies were all super duper nice and interesting. Flat Stanleyette has noticed how many people smile every time they see her. I noticed the same thing.

A few of the ladies in my Bible Study! They welcomed Flat Stanleyette with open arms and hearts! Such a pretty bunch of women!

A few of the ladies in my Bible Study! They welcomed Flat Stanleyette and Erma with open arms and hearts! Such a pretty bunch of women!

FS at the Farmers' Market. Maybe this is where she lost a few of her fingers. Oops!

FS at the Farmers’ Market. Maybe this is where she lost a few of her fingers. Oops!

5. Another highlight of her time with us was going to the Raleigh Farmers’ Market. Aunt Cindy knows about a special place at the farmers’ market where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables for less money. We bought potatoes, persimmons, sweet potatoes and other lovely, healthy foods. Aaron went with us and he’s always a bunch of fun! When they got home, Ike and FS noticed that I put the potatoes in the dishwasher. It was everyone’s first time to see potatoes cleaned that way! Not sure we’ll do it again but YOLO, right?

"Ok, so are we really going to put the potatoes in the dishwasher?" Ike and Flat Stanleyette wonder why.

“Ok, so are we really going to put the potatoes in the dishwasher?” Ike and Flat Stanleyette wonder why.

Being an aunt is a blessed thing.

Counting my blessings

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Aaron post-surgery, no kale but I'm not complaining!

Aaron post-surgery, no kale but I’m not complaining!

A week ago, Aaron had stomach pains and bam, within 24 hours, he was recovering in the hospital from appendix surgery. Although we have been silly and jovial about his speedy recovery, please do not take this as a lack of appre- ciation. I’m a 14 hours’ drive away from my boy. He’s never had surgery and I wasn’t there when that changed. Not known for my calm and demure nature, I was shockingly peaceful although he was in Chicago and I in North Carolina. The Lord used many people to stand in the gap. I have to acknowledge the sweet details God did not overlook.

1. Wisdom – It’s still surprising that my middle OS thought it was worth going to the hospital for abdominal pains. Aaron consulted with his RA, the Hubs and a few buddies and went to the hospital in the middle of the night. With this quick thinking, perhaps Aaron was spared a burst appendix.

Maybe Uncle Rich needs to be hospitalized! ;)

Maybe Uncle Rich needs to be hospitalized! 😉

2. Family – near and far my family rallied around Aaron. My sister, aunt and uncle came to visit him in the hospital. When my family said they would be happy to help if Aaron ever needed anything, they meant it. My cousin’s family reached out to my boy too. This allowed me as a mama to feel connected despite being so far away.  You wouldn’t have known Aaron had surgery a few hours previously, upon their visit, my aunt felt a party-like atmosphere in his room. A sense of celebration filled the air!

3. Humor – Since he was a toddler, I’ve always considered Aaron to be my human tv. He entertains me immensely. This time, however, my ministry-minded OS needed distraction. According to my boy, there were times in the Emergency Room where shrieks of laughter emanated from his room. Most people who go to the ER aren’t particularly jocular, Aaron’s friends made appendicitis kinda sorta fun.

I loved seeing this smiling face4. Testimony – The doctors asked perfunctory questions about Aaron’s personal life. “How much alcohol do you drink on an average week?” they inquired. Aaron’s reply, “I don’t.” They persisted because Aaron’s buddy chuckled at the question. “No seriously, how much do you drink?” the doctor wondered. My middle OS then replied, “I go to Bible college.” The doctor quickly retorted, “That doesn’t have anything to do with the question.” Aaron’s answer was steady and honest. He doesn’t drink. We are NOT perfect people but I delight in times when my family’s testimony is consistent and true.

5. Scripture – Aaron’s friends wrote Scripture verses on the nurses’ orders on the white board. They prayed for and over him and claimed God’s Word as truth. I pray the staff felt the Lord’s presence in his room.

6. Sacrifice – One of Aaron’s friend had just returned from her precious grandma’s funeral. She went right away to the hospital. Another suffered a horrible family tragedy and still wanted to come see Aaron. Incredible and selfless. They were not only concerned about Aaron but about me! I was deeply touched by everyone’s thoughtfulness. His friends were willing to do anything. ANYTHING. Two stayed overnight and helped him in very personal ways. I was in almost constant communication with them and I never had to initiate any conversation.

7. Face time – with my boy, his friends, his doctor, the surgeon. If your college student has an appendectomy, make sure you have an iPhone.

Prune juice and me looking like a chunky monkey

8. Kale and prunes – After surgery, I informed the doctor that Aaron needed kale. They don’t have kale on stand-by at Northwestern Memorial Hospital but I appreciated that the doctors were pro-kale. We also learned that Aaron actually likes prune juice. He appreciated the flavor in addition to its “medicinal” qualities. Huh…

9. Sweetness – I was leaving my own doctor appointment when Aaron’s physician called me to tell me the surgery was successful. “Will you see him in the recovery room?” I inquired. “Yes, I will.” “As soon as you see him, can you tell Aaron that I love him very much?”  There was a smile in the doctor’s voice as he answered, “I’ll be happy to do that.” The surgeon not only cared for Aaron physically but emotionally. A lady in the lobby overheard my conversation and asked me how my boy was doing. Kindness abounded near and far. Aaron recalled the surgeon giving him my message. Love.

10. School – Imagine entire classrooms of college students praying for your child. Imagine a professor beginning a lecture offering up prayers for your kid. That was our experience at Moody Bible Institute. Appendectomies stink but having legions of caring people nearby is cheerful medicine.

As far as I’m concerned, I already have my Christmas gifts. They came to me in the unexpected and most blessed ways.

Aaron’s aggravated appendix

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Awkward fun at the hospital

Awkward fun at the hospital

The appendix is a fairly useless organ but it sure can wreak havoc. If you are planning appendicitis during your college career, remain well hydrated and carry an extra dose of humor for the journey. You also might want to finish all your important papers too. Just sayin.

My ministry-minded olive shoot is at a hospital in Chicago. Yesterday in the late afternoon, Aaron began to experience severe abdominal pain. His buddies took him to the Emergency Room and following a CT scan, Aaron learned his appendix is unhappy. Soon it will vacate its home.

Let the fun begin?!

Let the fun begin?!

It stinks being so far away from my OS right now but thanks to social media, I can see Aaron and his crew made the most of a stinky situation. His friends brought him to the hospital and had already purchased him a Get Well Soon balloon. The balloon and Aaron’s buddy, Ethan have been his constant companions.

Aaron’s appendix is/was kinda dumb – can’t even spell himself! #gottago @RIPuvileveriform

Aaron will have surgery in the next few hours and probably be discharged tomorrow. I praise the Lord for his goodness and how He has worked out all of the details in advance. He has surrounded my olive shoot with a caring community and a wacky bunch of friends which is exactly what Aaron needs and what the Great Physician ordered.

I learned that sometime in the middle of the night, one of Aaron’s friends even created a Twitter account on behalf of Aaron’s failing vermiform.

A few moments ago, Moody Bible called to check in on Aaron and to make sure I knew of his condition. Since I’ve had a son at a military academy who had ACL surgery at West Point last year and now an olive shoot at a Bible university, I have no idea if this is how the rest of the colleges handle medical matters. 100% of my over 18-year-old OS have had surgery during college. Ike, if you’re reading this blog post, Mama would  really appreciate it if you changed the stats when it’s your time to get your degree.

It has done this mama much good to trust in the Lord and rely on the mighty ways He can transcend the miles and distance.

Know your soap and enjoy a soapy sale!

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Let’s have a SOAPY sale in celebration of olive shoots!

If you are looking for a thoughtful gift for a loved one or a way FOR YOU to de-stress during the holidays, may I suggest something as simple as a bar of high quality soap?

Before my brain discovered why natural soaps are better, my skin told me. “We like this soap!” it squealed after first encountering lovely cold processed, handmade soaps. “I feel fresh and squeaky clean, not like I’ve been through a car wash!” my face declared one evening. 

There is a difference between natural soaps and commercially made soap. For a limited time, Olive Shoot Institute is offering a soapy sale. When I began to use soap nuts last winter and started a business in the fall, I discovered  100% extra virgin olive oil based soap bars. Since I’m the mama of three olive shoots, of course, the word “OLIVE” got my attention but to keep me interested, there had to be more. Here are some things to know about cold processed, handmade soaps –

Not many people make soap like this any more – it’s old school!

Caribbean Craze soap

Ingredients are unique – your nose will pick up notes of unusual ingredients – spearmint essential oil (Handsome Man), Pure African Shea Butter (Caribbean Craze and Charcoal Hippie), Cinnamon Leaf (Bay and Cinnamon Shaving Bar) just to name a few. The specks of color in each bar are visually appealing but offer their own health benefits. There’s a sense of care and nurturing I get in using and giving them to others. Honestly it was joyful giving my Soldier and my ministry-minded OS several bars of soap to take back with them to Fort Benning and Chicago.

Rich in antioxidants and natural nutrients

Glycerin – this gentle natural humectant is removed during industrial soap manufacturing which might explain why my skin always felt like it had been treated so harshly. Um, it was!

No petro-chemical derived ingredients, animal fats, synthetic fillers and/or synthetic dyes and fragrances.

True story, when I pick up my shipment of soaps, I rip open the box and take out a bar of  individually wrapped soap to inhale on the ride home. Weird, maybe. My latest fave is Charcoal Hippie. Activated bamboo charcoal helps deep clean pores without leaving a residue but is loaded with ultra-moisturizing botanical oils and shea butter of the highest quality. Too bad my blog doesn’t offer smell-a-vision.

Ike closed his eyes and he picked Handsome Man soap as his favorite every single time!

My orange hair, freckle face OS loves Handsome Man soap. He says, “it smells good. It smells fresh” Upon further pestering, Ike replied, “I don’t know, Mom, I just thought it smelled good.” There’s a succinct review for ya!

You don’t have to be a hipster to totally love Charcoal Hippie soap. Made with activated bamboo charcoal, pure African shea butter and essential oils of eucalyptus, lavender and patchouli!

Why torture your skin and expose yourself to unnecessary chemicals and toxins when there is a better alternative? Truly, cold-processed soaps are superior to what you are probably using. Treat yourself and others to the difference!

We also offer other natural products to clean your laundry and home! Check it out at Olive Shoot Institute!

Here’s another great resource that’s worth checking out – Environmental Working Group!

Five Minute Friday – roots

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Attacking roots

Picking weeds
Attacking roots
Anger, anxiety, bitterness, jealousy, shame, fear
Regrets

Firming rooted in my faith in Christ
I now have the courage to get my hands dirty
Digging deep and hard

childhood home on Roosevelt Road, I did a lot of weeding and dug out many roots

As much as I hate weeding
I do enjoy that satisfied feeling
Grabbing ahold of an ugly, unwelcome root
Victoriously
Knowing it no longer lives where it does not belong

A recent visit to Chicago to drop my middle OS (olive shoot) off at Moody Bible Institute, allowed me to return to my roots.
I visited two of my childhood homes
I do not think it is humanly possible to visit a childhood home without tears

Aaron took some pictures of my home
Cars speeding past as fast as my life
The Hubs took me to my first home as a baby
Pangs of grief but love
Time stood still there

I was relieved and blessed to see my grandparents’ home well manicured. It was sad to go back to my roots but it would have been miserable if it had been in shambles.

Visiting roots, keeping the good
Pulling weeds, removing the bad

Every Friday at 12:01am a few hundred (or is it closer to thousand?) women pop on over to Lisa-Jo’s page to find out what the word of the next 5 minutes will be.

No over thinking.
No editing.
No extreme planning and linking and photographing.
Just FIVE minutes of writing to see what comes out.

Raising sons with a spiritual heritage when you didn’t have any

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As I watched my orange hair, freckle face OS read Psalm 110 before the congregation today, I couldn’t help but wonder how a formerly agnostic, almost atheist, feminist, existentialist, abortion rights activist (yep) could find herself in a moment such as this.

This is one of my sons’ Bibles. I never owned one when I was his age. I’m amazed at the Lord’s kindness to give me children who seek God’s Word.

A few weeks ago, at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, sitting in Ernest Gray’s The Gospel of John class, the same thing happened. Another surreal experience as my middle guy Aaron casually pulled out his Bible and it was filled with notes in the margins. What am I doing here, I thought to myself.

A redeemed mama and a cherished olive shoot just before class. So proud of this olive shoot/sugar boy.

And then there’s Nate, the 2012 West Point guy who has Scripture engraved in his graduation ring. Sometimes when he calls and is struggling, without hesitation, I will just break out in prayer. Not because I’m an amazing mom (fail miserably) and not in a speaking tongues, snake handling way either for those who might have been totally creeped out imagining this. Just a real and honest exchange of a mother and son speaking to the Father and the Son. Kinda cool actually.

3 John 1:4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

You see I did not grow up in a Christian family. The only time I remember seeing the Bible was after my dad died. Oddly enough, we were looking for some verses to use at his funeral. We picked some fishing verses because my dad like fishing. Not because he was a fisher of men actually he was a fisher of fish(!), trout exactly, but I digress. From my recollection, the Bible was retrieved from underneath the bed. That was where it was kept for safekeeping as to not be scorned by my dad when he was on a spiritual tirade. His understanding of Christianity amounted to watching the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker show on tv or some other wild evangelist while waiting for the next episode of Soul Train. Not joking. To him, the Bible was a source of mockery and pity, something a strong man would never rely or depend upon. But I have to tell you, it’s still weird for me seeing my family so comfortable with God and Jesus. I’ve been a Christ follower for 15 years, a church attendee for over half my life but I remain awestruck to dwell in a home with men who earnestly live their faith.

For more than half my life, I thought the Bible was for sissies. You only pulled that thing out if times were REALLY bad and you needed a crutch. Maybe if you were dying or needed to slay someone verbally who called you out on sin but other than that, normal people didn’t read the Bible. It was only after I began dating the Hubs that I realized that real men can actually admit to believing every word contained in Scripture. The Lord had some work to do on the Hubs but he was a genuine Christian guy who actually OWNED a Bible and it even had his name on it! WOW!

While dating the Hubs, I sheepishly asked him what was up with the guy holding the John Three Colon 16 sign up during a football game. He’s always been a person I can trust with embarrassing spiritual questions since I do not have a rich Christian heritage. I never learned the Sunday School songs, the hymns or the Bible stories. At best, my religion was dogma and rules that did not match up with my sinful lifestyle.

Before my precious grandma died while she still lived by herself in Florida, I remember her proudly stating to me that her Bible had dust on it. She thought that was a good thing. It wasn’t. There was no way she was going to just randomly open it so she didn’t. This broke my heart as I pleaded with her to give God’s Word a read.

So seeing my children, sons, no less, actively pursuing a life of faith in Christ grabs a place in my heart like nothing else. Watching one of my bairn at ease with proclaiming God’s Word as truth is like a bowl of slightly warmed vanilla ice cream with caramel topping and multi-colored sprinkles served with a non-sticky spoon. I don’t deserve this. We fall short. I stumble. My olive shoots are not perfect. The Hubs snores. But yeah, today I saw my youngest  reading Scripture with reverence and maturity.

This is my prayer and it’s for you, random reader or sweet friend too. May images like this emblazen hearts forevermore. May we never grow tired or bored with seeing our family seek God’s face. Lord, if it’s in your will, give us more of this. Glimpses of grace and faith. Rays of hope and redemption.

As Jesus did for me, I pray for the Lord to speak into your life.  I know for some of you all of this might sound awkward and feel uncomfortable, yeah, I’ve been there. God changes things. He transforms people. He heals. He redeems. He blesses. How do I know? I’m living, undeserving proof.

My Soldier wearing his new cav hat! He loves El Salvador (the home of his bonita) and Jesus, they both hold the key to his heart.

I realize not everyone owns a Bible, it was a big decision for me. I remember being scared when I bought my first one! Here’s what I’m wondering – if you have a Bible, do you ever read it? Did you grow up in a family where the Bible was read? Can you relate to my story in any way?

Five Minute Friday – Look

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LOVE this, join us! http://lisajobaker.com

It’s a “flash mob” of writers. Every Friday at 12:01am a few hundred (or is it closer to thousand?) women pop on over to Lisa-Jo’s page to find out what the word of the next 5 minutes will be.

No over thinking.

No editing.

No extreme planning and linking and photographing.

Just FIVE minutes of writing to see what comes out.

Ok, here’s my FMF…

Who knew Ohio could be so scary? Long regarded in my mind as a place of beauty and Americana, nothing prepared me for the treacherous journey the orange hair, freckle face olive shoot and I would have both coming and going to Chicago.

Fog hung in the air like mucus and there was no relief from the patches of blindness. I couldn’t pull over because I couldn’t see any exits and I was terrified to stop my car off the side to the shoulder because I was certain a truck would plow through my vehicle. Only a rail would have possibly shielded Ike and I from driving off the deep ravines but I’m not even certain there was a rail. It was only after telling a friend of my harrowing travels that I learned there was something like this on the stretch of highway. I’ve been driving since I was 16 years old and never been more frightened behind the wheel in my life. (This experience was only matched by the drive back from Moody Bible Institute and I’m not prepared to write about it yet).

My nerves were frazzled and we stopped after the fog had cleared. Hungry and needing a potty break, Ike and I paused at a restaurant at a nearby exit. I had forgotten that we had entered Amish country but judging from the simply clad little boys in the front of the restaurant and the young lady working behind the counter, I soon realized seeing me with my pink highlights surely gave them reason to pray.

Praising God for THIS rainbow in the sky!

As we returned to our car, it was my sweet Ike who pointed in the sky…”Look, Mama! A rainbow!” Sure enough off in the distance that beautiful reassuring arch (not McDonalds!) blazed through the powder blue sky.

I had been seeing gray patches of nothingness that only held fear and pending death. My son had been in the car with me and I was gripped with anxiety. It was when I paused, physically and emotionally, that the Lord provided a symbol of His presence. God knew at just the right time when I needed to see a sign of His glory.

Five Minute Friday – Race

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The view from our 10th story apartment

While watching the Chicago marathon from the 10th story of Jenkins Hall, I was inspired.

One of my favorite signs!

But when I went downstairs and came face to face with the thousands of runners, I was overwhelmed. Tears welling up in my eyes and throat, I know I’m an emotional person but it surprised me the wave of feelings that waft over me.

I just imagined being one of those runners and having legions of people cheering me on. Honestly I need that kind of encouragement in my daily walk of mortal life let alone a 27 mile run which will never happen this side of heaven. Hearing someone calling my name, seeing a sign with MY name on it, or a treasured friend or family member, I’ve never done a marathon but seeing the Chicago marathon up close and personal tugged my spirit. We all need a pep squad to help us run physically, emotionally, spiritually. When we’re downtrodden, discouraged, beaten up, don’t we all desperately want someone to say, “Hey, you matter! Go, you! You can doey it!”

It was so awesome how the announcers just randomly picked out names they spotted on the runners’ jerseys and encouraged them! Loved the Moody Mile!

On this blustery fall morning, as we were getting ready to meet Aaron and the other two OS going to Aaron’s new church in downtown Chicago, I witnessed these people, every hue, body type and outfit race past us. I heard praise music filling the streets, everyone was of one accord motivating the runners to keep going. Tears.

The most awesome writing gig on Fridays! Where a beautiful crowd spends five minutes all writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here. Join us!

What got me the most emotional was the encouragement. As the runners jogged by the Moody Mile, they were greeted with cheers, posters and horns. It felt like a New Year’s Eve celebration. The announcer randomly called out names of some of the runners, I saw signs in many languages, what must this have been like to among the crowd? I felt blessed, moved and stirred. Lord, help me run THIS race of life…

Here’s a snippet of the event…