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…

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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!

West Point graduation touchstone moments

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Pictured here are the freckle face, orange hair ginger, the Hubs, the Officer just after we pinned the bars on his uniform, the weepy proud mama, the grandpa and the ministry-bound middle brother.

This is not a glamour shot.

We are an imperfect bunch.
But we love each other.
And when not focusing on our own personal comforts which is often difficult for most people including myself and those in my clan.
We reach deep down inside and demonstrate support and care.

And this is what my oldest OS deserved on HIS day.
Not telling Nate how exhausted and hot we were (because I do not believe there are sufficient words and he was surely tired and sweaty!)
But rather standing next to our Soldier physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As he graduated from the United States Military Academy.

It was a privilege and an honor.
And if someone would have handed me a mirror,
And lipstick,
And some haircare products,
Or offered me a shower to freshen up,

It was only after taking the picture, I realized that we were all touching each other.

You know, because an important picture was going to be taken,

I would have said no

And continued to hold my son’s hand.
Unconcerned about appearance,
Shedding tears of pride.

No other place could I have been
Then next to Nate and surrounded by those who love him most.

Making memories for a lifetime,
This perspiring, imperfect collection of people
Honored a man of integrity
Whom the Lord gave me for such a time as this
And I am richly, profoundly blessed to call him (and all those in this picture) my own.