Friday, August 31, 2012

Cadet Hardacker

My son is doing ROTC at Wheaton College.  Allow me a moment to be an advertisement for them.  Wheaton's ROTC program is in the top 10 in the country.  It is the only program in the country made up exclusively of private schools, most of which are religious.  They regularly win Ranger Challenge competitions (think army ROTC Olympics).  When Jake finishes college he will be one of the few people who can actually say that he is guaranteed a job upon graduation.  And he will begin his service as an officer.  

I think this last part is what really struck me last weekend.  He is training for a job.  His service in the military won't be something he does before he starts working but will be the beginning of his work.  He may stay in the military his entire career or leave after 4 years but either way, and whatever degree he gets, he will have a job upon graduation.  I feel weirdly relieved by that thought.  Is anyone with me here?

There are so many other great things about the ROTC program which mirror the great things about Wheaton in general.  The big thing is that Jake has someone monitoring his progress, making sure he succeeds and graduates in 4 years, no dilly dallying in the army.  All they while teaching leadership skills from a biblical base.  SO awesome.

We didn't get around to taking him for the army haircut before we left so they did it for him.  WOW, that is an army cut.  Good looking kid but I guess I always liked him with long hair...

And, of course, I am stalking the Facebook page for the Rolling Thunder Battalion for pictures of my son.  I almost missed this one.  Front and center running around the corner.  Still not 100% but that does look to be our name on his chest.  Where did his hair go???

He has a long road ahead of him this next month as he did not pass the physical fitness test when we arrived and will  need to do so by the end of September.  But we are confident that he is more than capable of doing so as long as he commits to the process.  Right now he isn't contracted, he isn't getting the scholarship this year, which means he could walk away at any time.  But I pray he sticks with it, puts in the effort and follows this dream he has had for many years.

So proud.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Joy of Release

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV 1984)

I can not tell a lie.  I feel almost giddy about having my son out of the house.  Is that wrong?  I felt so relaxed yesterday.  Which is not to say I didn't almost burst into tears when I went to put a forgotten t-shirt in his room but overall I spent the day thinking of all the ways I didn't have to think about Jake.

Making lunch, I noticed some lunch meat I had bought in an attempt to get him to eat a healthier lunch at home rather than going out.

I don't  have to buy that lunch meat or worry about what he is eating anymore.  Relief.

His room will still be clean. Relief.

No clothes will be mid cycle when I want to do my laundry.  Relief.

I don't have to worry about the fact that he is playing video games all day when he has other things to do.  Relief.

I don't have to wonder where he is when he isn't home at 10pm. Relief.

I am not responsible for the day to day life of my son anymore.  And while it is the end of an era, IT FEELS GREAT!!!!

John shared with me last night that he feels the same way.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace..."   We are joyful but also full of peace.  A peace we know we would not have experienced if he was in Boston but, we realize we probably wouldn't  feel as good if he had stayed nearby either.  It comes from knowing his is where God wants him.

Will I still feel this giddy in a month when my son is not calling or responding to my texts and is living a life I know nothing about?  Or is calling and sharing problems?  Will I start to miss worrying about his diet and having to finish his laundry?  Probably.  And when that time comes you can remind me to re-focus my thoughts toward God.  To put my trust and hope in Him.

Throughout Jake's childhood I have had one single thought that has gotten me through every trial in his life, "God loves my son more than I do."  And this weekend as I worried about whether he would make good choices, follow through on all the tasks and responsibilities in front of him, God reminded me of this truth once again.  I might not always want to parent exactly the way God does but I do know his plans always turn out better than mine.

So I trust.  And I release.  And on day 2 home without Jake, I feel great!  Full of Joy and Peace.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

My new parenting role

Hello from Wheaton!

It has been an emotional weekend filled with good and bad but today is the day we will officially leave our boy to begin this new life.  We are ready.  He is ready.  I think after this weekend he is very, very ready.  I have been a little emotional...

Yesterday I read this verse from Col 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

I texted it to Jake in the morning but I think it applies to my new role in his life as well.

I have always prayed for him but going forward that will become my primary involvement in his life.  The devotion I have had to Jake and raising him to be a godly man turns into a devotion to pray for him as he takes the reins on his own life.

And as I do so I will be watching.  Watching to see God work.  To see his presence.  Yesterday I asked God to show us his presence as we were feeling emotional.  Although I was hoping for something a little more enjoyable than the emotional outburst I ended up having, God was very present for us in what happened next.  And I know He will continue to be present with Jake each day.  I am excited to watch Him work in Jake throughout this year.

Finally, I will be thankful for my son, who he is and the opportunity for him to be here learning and growing.  I look forward to watching for the many blessings of this year and to thank God for all he provides.

Ready for Orientation to start.

Friday, August 17, 2012

My Eagle Scout

These people all agreed that

this boy 

Should be an Eagle Scout.

Praise the Lord!

It was close but he did it.  His project wasn't one of the best they had ever seen, or even in the pretty good category.  He did the absolute minimum necessary minus a few minor details.  I was biting my nails in the hallway.  However, he has displayed the attitude of a scout on more than one occasion which the members of the board had all witnessed and they believed he was worthy of this award.  I am not sure I am proud of the job he did becoming an Eagle scout but I am proud of who he has been as a Boy Scout, the man he is becoming and I am certain beyond a doubt that he will bring honor to the rank of Eagle.  This is the 100th year of awarding the rank of Eagle Scout for the boy scouts and I watched a nice video about the Eagle award.  In it someone talks about the fact that you always say, "I am an Eagle Scout."  You never say, "I was an Eagle Scout."  It is something that goes with you for ever.

There is still the matter of an official ceremony to bestow this great honor upon him but for the most part we can say now and forever that our son IS an Eagle Scout.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Text messages from home

In approximately 10 days, 3 hours, 16 minutes I will be helping my son move into a dorm room 5 hours away.  And a couple days later I will leave him there to live on his own.  Without me.  I have been thinking a lot about how to continue to stay in contact with him.  He has a phone and I could call but, he won't answer it.  He uses less minutes in an entire month than I can potentially spend on just one phone call.  However, he texts more in a month than I text in 6 months, maybe a year.  SO, if I want to communicate with my son this next year should I call him or text him?

OK so what do I write?

Have you ever noticed that the Apostle Paul starts several of his letters the same way?  I mean after the beginning where he says his name and who he is and who the letter is for.  After that.  He is thankful for the people and prays a blessing on them.

He does this in Philippians:

"I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy...And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowlede and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is  best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God."

He does it in Colossians:

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints...For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and askign God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding..."

2 Thessalonians:

"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing...With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worth of his calling..." 


"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better..." 

OK On and on but you get the idea.  Paul started his letter with thanks and prayer.

As I think about what to say to Jake, how to encourage him this next year, I will be looking to Paul's example.  Letting him know how thankful I am for who he is and what he has done and telling him of my prayers for him as he grows, faces challenges and continues to becoming a man of God.

And when necessary I can continue Paul's example and follow that up with a little lesson or some advice.  I think I  might have a little, tiny bit left in me to share with him...

Now to figure out how to condense it to the length of a short text...One step at a time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

River Hike

About 10 years ago when I was unhealthy, John and I went camping at the North Shore with some friends.  It was an interesting weekend for several reasons not to be covered today.  But, we spent the day Saturday hiking and ended up climbing down a low river, big rock by big rock.  It was hours, I didn't know where we were or if we would ever find our cars again.  And more important than our cars, would I ever see a bathroom again!  This was toward the end of my unhealthy years where I felt sick all the time and was afraid to get too far from a bathroom.  Top off the fact that I hadn't done any physical activity in years and I am seriously only holding it together because I don't want to have a tantrum in front of our friends.  When I look back at that hike I only remember panic, exhaustion and fear.

This weekend we were up in Silver Bay.  After spending time there roofing grandma's house it only seemed fair to take another trip up to have fun and explore the area.  Turns out that river we hiked up and climbed down is just a couple miles from Grandma's house.  And on the way home we decided to stop and check it out.

It is beautiful, and we enjoyed the climb, dipping our toes in the cool water and seeing the water falling around us.  I kept thinking about all that I missed of this hike 10 years ago, how amazing it must have been and how great that we found our way through the woods and down the river and experienced life, nature and the work of God.

It made me realize how far I have come.  How different I am today than I was 10 years ago.  Not only do I feel healthier physically but I feel mentally stronger.  I have grown, changed.  And it motivated me to continue moving forward.  To continue working to stay healthy, especially as I have felt a little less healthy this past year.  Motivated to continue working toward creating business income, sending John to school, raising my children.  Motivated to just get up each day and see what adventures God will bring next.  Challenges come, I was the one that lost her balance and ended up with one shoed foot ankle deep in the river this weekend.  But they can either end your journey or become part of your story as you move toward a goal, discover the beauty of your life and victoriously accomplish God's purpose for you.

Looking down river toward Lake Superior

Friday, August 3, 2012

All the days ordained

Life is interesting.  Just about one year ago I arrived at the hospital to sit with my in-laws while my Father-in Law had his stomach removed and the cancer that was consuming him along with it.  We didn't have to wait long as the surgeon quickly discovered that despite several rounds of chemo the cancer has spread and could no longer be stopped.  There would be no surgery.  We were given the devastating news that Don's cancer would be terminal.  They sent him home and we all prayed he would make it to Thanksgiving.  And then Christmas.  Then John and I prayed he would make it til after our trip to Florida.  Then I started hoping that possibly he would see his grandson graduate from high school.  And now here we are a year later.

He is still sick.  He is thinner and more frail each time I see him.  And knowing he is uncomfortable and struggling and there is nothing that can be done is frustrating.

For the past year we have been on the verge of grieving.  Friends have been inquiring about his health.  Our church has prayed for him every Sunday for more than a year.  And he is still here.  We don't see him much, and he can't do much but he is available.  We can ask questions.  Learn more about his history.  Even though he retired from plumbing years ago I still wonder who will be there to help us problem solve our plumbing emergencies in the future.  Did my plumber's son learn it all?  We think about him and his impending death all the time.

About a month ago a friend from church lost his father.  He did not have cancer, they did not have any notice.  One day he was here the next he was gone.  It has been a difficult loss and we have watched him grieve.  And as I watch him I can't help but think about our impending loss.  All the while we have been watching and waiting for Don to die, Joel's dad was going about his life as if it would go on for years.  Making plans, living life.  A year ago we knew Don was going to die soon.  Yet he is still here and Joel's dad is gone.

That day, almost a year ago, before Don went into surgery, a pastor from his church came and prayed with us and read Ps 139.  I copied some key portions last year when I wrote about the day.  Today I look at verse 16,
"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

God knew then that Don would live another year while Joel's dad would not.  He knew long before they were born how many days they would spend on this earth.  I find it fascinating.

Today another friend sits at his father's bedside.  Diagnosed with cancer after Don, a much less aggressive form and yet...Apparently the cancer didn't know Don was in line first, with a more aggressive and dangerous form a cancer.  And now our friend Andy sits and waits.  While John's dad continues driving his mom to work each day and sharing in all our lives.

"'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" Jer 29:11

God knows.  He knows why we have all spent a year pre-grieving while Joel gets no notice and Andy gets so much less time.  He has a plan. And it is good.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The latest buzz

I just know you love the day by day minutia of my life.   Actually since this is still mainly read by people who actually know me you probably do.  And if you don't know me...welcome to my world.

So for pretty much all summer, starting last spring, Isabelle has been pointing out this wasp nest that was being built in the eaves of our gazebo right outside our back door.  But since it wasn't by the door to the gazebo and we have screens on it I pretty much was just ignoring it and watching it grow.  Finally it seemed to be at a stage where maybe we should do something about it.  I alerted John, who had not seen how big it was, and he jumped to action finding a can of old wasp killer in our garage.

Note:  Kills on Contact

There it is covered in the killing foam.  

Can you see all those yellow specks?  They literally dropped the to ground when John sprayed the hive. (that is the cover to our grill if you are wondering.)

Then we noticed there were still plenty flying around but now they were re-routing to our old grill.  The broken one just sitting there next to the one we actually use.

Yep, it is in there.

Another one bites the dust.

We thoroughly searched the rest of the crevices in the area without finding any more, ok we did find 2 other hives probably from past years but not in use, and with the 2 hives gone we seem to have rid ourselves of wasps for the rest of the summer.

We are homeowners, hear us roar.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

emerging from my nymphal skeleton

I am constantly amazed at the amount of nature I discover in my own back yard.  This weekend we found a cicada in the process of emerging from his nymphal skeleton(I googled it to get that phrase).  It was so cool and so I sat down to watch it.

As I sat there the slightly twisted part of me got to thinking about how easy it would be for me to just reach over and pull it out (which my years of watching the nature channel with hubby have taught me is not good for it.)  Or I could just kill it, they do make annoying sounds.  A little flick and it would be gone.  Or a bird or other animal could easily swing by and eat it while it was emerging.  I mean, you can't tell in these pictures but, it wasn't moving very fast.

Which got me to thinking about how vulnerable it was.  Yet here it was taking the big risk to literally break out of its shell and become something greater.  And that got me to thinking about taking a risk, allowing myself to be vulnerable so that I can become more.  It is hard to drop your guard, slowly start stretching beyond your normal boundaries and hope that while you are getting out and finding your footing nobody comes along and squashes you or eats you.

In a few weeks I am going to launch my new web site for women who have gone back to work after being at home.  I have been talking about this idea for a year as I struggled to transition without finding any resources to encourage me.  As I get closer to completing the site and thinking about the launching, it is both exciting and terrifying.  And I definitely feel vulnerable.  But I know that in order to grow and become, in order to reach my goals and provide for this family while John is in school, I need to take risks and I believe they will be worth the effort.

Cicada, Tibicen spp., emerging from nymphal skeleton.  Photo by Dwight Bohlmeyer.
(this picture is from a web site, I wasn't patience enough to see it come out)

So when you see my project next month try not to squish me.