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.


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.


Colonel Kail is my friend, part two

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.

Eight hour pass – Ranger School, part one


We are now home after a whirlwind, eight-hour visit with our Ranger candidate. We wouldn’t have traded it for anything but goodness, we are two tired parents!

photo copy 27This is the beginning of some posts about this interesting chapter as military parents.

1. On Thursday night we received a very brief phone call from a Ranger Instructor, informing us that our son had passed the Darby phase and that the guys would be ready at 9am. We got there a little early and the parking lot was filling up with excited family members and friends.

2. Soldiers walked by inside Camp Rogers and collectively, our eagerness was dashed until 10 am. A few moms/wives spoke to their Soldier through the fence and learned their guys were recycles. I felt so bad for them. A couple of guys trudged out, ragged and thin some informing us that they had been dropped. I spoke to a few of the women and learned I was not alone in trying to figure out if we had caught a glimpse of our Soldier.

3. Taxis were waiting and a couple of guys paid a driver an additional $20 to wait specifically for them no matter what. I helped facilitate the transaction by handing the $20 to the cabbie through the fence. When a couple other guys tried to take the taxi, there was a moment of tension but it all worked out.

4. A picture I snapped while waiting. We were not prepared for the pressure we would feel trying to get everything done. This was calm before the storm.photo copy 22

5. I didn’t bother with any makeup, the mission was clear. Take care of the kid and his buddies. No glitz or glamour. Not much of that kind of girl anyway but yeah, this is me. Understandably many of the girlfriends and wives looked pretty and dressed up. I’m just a mom, no need to bother. It’s all good.

6. The first time at Fort Benning several weeks ago, we learned our son was a recycle. Since this was our second time at Fort Benning, it was a blessing to learn he had passed. The Hubs paced that road waiting for his boy.

7. It took us longer to travel to him, then we had to spend time with him but we’re not complaining. The Hubs and I were honored to be able to serve our Solider and his buddies.

8. At 10 am, there was a blur of young men pouring out of the Camp Rogers.

9. People were happy. Very happy! People kissed and hugged, shook hands and cried. FREEDOM!

10. Time was of the essence as the guys just wanted to get out and enjoy the eight-hour pass.

photo copy 2811. As full as the parking lot had been, soon it was thinning out. An incredible amount of things to do in a very limited time.

12. My boy still looked like he had some meat on his bones and we took him and we whisked two other buddies the heck out of Fort Benning. Now the fun began! Rev your engines, here we go!

Five minute Friday – rest

My first and only poem to spaghetti.

My first and only poem to spaghetti.

Oh big pot of spaghetti, do not fret

Though your Ranger Soldier isn’t back yet

Soon you will feed him and bring his lips taste

He’s been eating MRE’s, licking the wrappers as not to waste

Your zest and your flavors, your love and your care

Will renew him on eagle’s wings, he will return to the training field and then you will dare

To go back into the cabinet, wishing you could have done more

Life is exciting with a Soldier to adore!

The day will fly by, be satisfied with your task

You nourished a man who will praise God for the delicious repast

"Please feed me!" "We will, Sugar Boy!"

“Please feed me!” “We will, Sugar Boy!”

So while you can, Spaghetti, get your rest

Tomorrow’s your big day, you’re truly feeding the best of the best!

Five minutes of writing, it's wonderful for wordsmiths!

Five minutes of writing, it’s wonderful for wordsmiths!

Soldier Sauce

"Please feed me!" "We will, Sugar Boy!"

“Please feed me!” “We will, Sugar Boy!”

Today I announced to my orange freckle, orange hair olive shoot that he was going to help me prepare spaghetti sauce for his brother. Ike is on Spring Break and unlike some of his friends who are on safaris or at the beach, Ike is going to Fort Benning in a few days. Woot. There he will see his older brother, Nate who will be on an eight-hour pass from Ranger School. The entire day will be spent attending to Nate, nothing, but Nate.

So how did Ike respond to my request for kitchen assistance?

With a zesty YES as hearty as the sauce we would soon create?

or with a disgruntled hrmph like a jar of moldy Ragu?

If you said, “B” you would be correct. Ike did not leap into action. The idea of being my sous-chef was irritating to him at best. At one point, I told him that if he continued to complain, he wouldn’t be going anywhere. That caught his attention.

My intention isn’t to belittle my olive shoot and say he’s a slug of a son. Oh no.

This kid can throw down.

This kid can throw down.

Once he got his mind around the task, Ike browned those ribs and spicy sausage. My youngest olive shoot chopped that garlic, the dude mixed that tomato sauce masterfully. The annoyance that had invaded his spirit disappeared. As he made the sauce, I worked on the meatballs. Time flew by. Instead of bitterness, we savored our time together. This whole pot of sauce is for Nate.

Our Soldier has been eating MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) during Ranger School = blech! According to Nate’s letters, he is so famished, he’s even licking the MRE wrappers!

Does this not sound like a man deserving of a soul-satisfying repast?

We have been warned that he will have lost considerable weight since we saw him last. With only eight hours of rest, we have limited time to bless and refresh our Soldier. As Ike and I turned our sights from ourselves to another more deserving, the time was flavored with grace.

May this sauce grant my Soldier strength and renewal to continue on in Ranger School!

May this sauce grant my Soldier strength and renewal to continue on in Ranger School!

Oh if I only had smell-a-vision. There were many life lessons gleaned from this kitchen today. Just wondering, can you relate to Ike or me? Should I post the recipe? Do you dare even invite your boys to cook in the kitchen with you?

Five Minute Friday – ordinary

My boy is working on getting his Ranger tab.

My boy is working on getting his Ranger tab.

There is nothing ordinary about Ranger School. Some describe it as an intense 61-day combat leadership course. It has been called the “toughest combat course in the world” and “the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army has to offer.” This is all true but for me it’s where a piece of my heart now dwells because my son is there.

On Wednesday night starting at about 9:00 pm, those who had made it through the first few days of grueling initial training, started a 12 mile ruck (Army slang for march) that ended at about midnight. From all accounts it is a brutal trek.

And I see the Lord’s hands upon my Soldier. When he was about eight years old, the Hubs and I were watching tv. Nate had his prayer journal nearby and was writing.

Not many eight year old boys even possess a prayer journal but my oldest olive shoot is extra-ordinary. He inquired, “How do you spell Hallelujah?”

This kid is well beyond ordinary and I praise the Lord for that!

This kid is well beyond ordinary and I praise the Lord for that!

The Hubs and I just looked at each other dumbfounded.

Who was this kid? How did he get to living in this house with us as his parents???

These moments became rather ordinary, Nate doing things in a remarkable and humble way.

Things most people can’t do or choose not to and there Nate is plodding away, his eyes on the prize.

Academically, athletically and most importantly spiritually, my olive shoot presses on, marches on.

Nate’s ordinary is everyone else’s incredible.

Bless him and all those who are joining him on the journey.

It's like getting a little word present every week. You should check it out!

It’s like getting a little word present every week. You should check it out!

Ranger School

Here's what I am doing today. Gotta keep busy, no sense in idling my time and mind.

Here’s what I am doing today. Gotta keep busy, no sense in idling my time and mind.

Somewhere between the hours of 10am-1pm on Sunday, my oldest olive shoot began Ranger School. While I sat in church, my Soldier was preparing for an exhausting journey that can last at least two months.

Since moms aren’t allowed at Ranger School, (HA!) the way I can help my OS is through support and prayer. The Hubs and the orange hair, freckle face OS gathered around the phone Saturday afternoon with Nate on the other line. Individually we offered prayers up to the Lord on Nate’s behalf. It is yet another humbling, raw moment which stretches me as a mama and a Christ follower.

The face of a Sugar Boy

The face of a Sugar Boy

Of course, as it is customary in my home, I prayed AND cried. It’s like a black bean quinoa burger with organic cheddar goat cheese. They just go together. I attempted to hold back my tears but that never works.

I’m proud, I’m scared, I’m worried, I’m completely confident.

I trust, I doubt, I second guess, I dream.

I borrow trouble, then I give it all to the Lord. And so it goes. Yes, it’s complicated. Don’t judge. ;0

Today I began writing my boy. As a word girl, this is therapeutic. I’m also a walker girl. If you see a pink-haired middle age woman walking down the street with a knee brace and maybe a back pack, she isn’t talking to herself and she isn’t crazy either (at least at that moment). She’s just talking to God. And she’s also listening. It’s not as weird as some of you might think. Or maybe it is and in that case, I feel sorry for you.

This is as close as we're going to get to Nate for a while. I took this picture after we had finished talking and praying for him.

This is as close as we’re going to get to Nate for a while. I took this picture after we had finished talking and praying for him.

In a rare, authorized moment, I’m allowing you access to the first card I wrote Nate for Ranger School. You will note that I occasionally call him Sugar Boy. He has already told me that he will probably be throwing out all the cards once he reads them to minimize weight. For posterity sake, I might take pictures of the correspondence sent from our home since he might want to read it again someday.

According to the daily Ranger School roster, Nate and the other guys had a grueling physical activity test at 3 in the morning. If we don’t hear from him in the next three days, that’s a good sign. I can’t wait to hear about this incredible life experiences but then again, I can!

Nehemiah 1:11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

Bless me, Mama

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.


Five Minute Friday – again

Imagine what you could discover by participating in Five Minute Friday! Join us, it's just the best!

Imagine what you could discover by participating in Five Minute Friday! Join us, you will LOVE it!

Oh, Five Minute Friday, again you challenge me.

This word “again” is annoying. I connote unpleasant things with this word.

An olive shoot is being difficult again.

My husband has to travel again.

A family member is ill again.

They didn’t empty the dishwasher

or close the door on the dryer so now the light is out

No one puts away the clean clothes

They rustle through all the other clothes and leave things in disarray

An example of an irritating form of "again." Disheveled laundry!

An example of an irritating form of “again.” Disheveled laundry!



You get the idea





Something I don’t like is being experienced additional times. Wow.

And it’s not like I see it only in others.

I have my own “again’s” which feel even more disappointing.

But since I only have a few more minutes, let me tell you about another again which can help me not spiral into hopelessness.

A few years ago, the Hubs got me this pretty print from a West Point mom/crafty girl/blogger.

I bespy this reminder of God’s faithfulness again in my hallway. Again I stop and consider the Lord’s treasures and promises.

A pretty print made by a talented West Point mom. Here's her Etsy site.

A pretty print made by a talented West Point mom. Here’s her Etsy site.

His mercies

New every day

Every morning

Just enough

Again, I approach the throne of grace and ask for His guidance and help.

One of my favorite Scripture verses: Lamentations 3:22-24

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

Praying like Mary, thinking about Capri Sun

I am proud of this Soldier. I must pray fervently for him.

I am proud of this Soldier. I must pray fervently for him.

After reading Monday’s daily Scripture several times, I drop to my knees to pray for my Soldier. So much is on my heart about this strong olive shoot. I notice a verse in my reading,

“Toi, Seigneur, tu connais le coeur de tous les hommes.” – Actes 1:25

Yes, Father, you know the heart of every man. I trust you listen to my heart’s cries. Incline your ear to me, your servant, My Holy One – this is what I implore.

Nate will soon be in Ranger School. I won’t be able to speak to him on the phone or receive his silly text messages for at least two months. Though I can write him letters, the frequent communication I cherish will be interrupted.

Ranger School is physically and emotionally grueling. There are aspects about the challenge that I can’t learn until he has graduated, is rested and has fattened up a little. Monday’s reading reminded me that I need to follow Mary’s example and pray with others, for our children individually and collectively, join together and seek God’s face.

I ponder what God is saying to me in this first chapter of Acts (Actes), I think about Mary and strangely enough, the new Capri Sun commercial. Admittedly, it’s a weird collage of thoughts.

Have you seen these commercials about a new vegetable-infused version of the juice drink called Super V? Here’s a link to see it yourself. .

“Paula Ebert” wants to buy a healthy juice for her son. She wants to help her son with all of his daily struggles. I chuckle to myself when I see the mom on the dodgeball court valiantly attempting to block all shots coming her boy’s way. “NO! NO! NO!” she yells to the kids trying to pellet her son. Hands flying in the air, frantically doing her best, Paula turns to her very embarrassed boy and reassures him, “Mommy’s here. It’s ok.” Bless her heart. I don’t like Capri Sun but I really like this mama. Part of every mother wishes God permitted only good things to happen to her babies. Since we live in a fallen, broken world that can’t happen but we can intercede on our children’s behalf.

21-Day-Challenge-Badge-300x300Mary prayed. 14 D’un commun accord, ils se retrouvaient souvent pour prier, avec quelques femmes, avec Marie la mère de Jésus, et avec les frères de Jésus. 

Acts (Actes) 1:14

How precious that the mom of the sinless Savior demonstrates the legacy of prayer! As I follow the 21-Day Challenge, I observe how Mary loved the Lord in this manner. In these verses, Mary didn’t pray alone but with others and in one accord for her son. To hear someone pray for my olive shoots grabs me at my very roots. Would you please pray for my son and all the men in Ranger School? If you have ever had someone pray for your child, you know what that means to a mother.

Wonder what God might say to you? Check out all of these Bible reading options, I bet there’s one that will speak to you! Give it a try and never be the same! This is the one I’m currently using, join me and many blessings!