Friday, December 25, 2009
Day 77, August 22, 2009
We "heard" from Noah last night. Email is a miraculous thing -- our son, thousands of miles away, writes us a letter and with one click and the speed of light and it is in our den. I wish our responses could be so quick. Oh, we both answered his email, but who knows how long it will be before he ha a chance to get online again.
Harder still is the fact that now we know of specific things he needs but it will be a month before he receives them. Even if we ran out right now and purchased the items and then broke into the Post Office to mail them, it would still be three weeks - or more - until he got it. I think that is the essence of what makes this so difficult, the total and complete lack of control, on his part as well as ours. But it causes us more and more to trust the One who has control, the One whose way is perfect, the One who is perfectly able to keep those things which we have committed unto Him - -our son. We can trust the Lord with full confidence that He never fails.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Day 72, August 17, 2009
How many times has that date been important in Noah's Marine career?
The first time was the evening when we signed those delayed entry program papers. I must admit I felt some trepidation signing my seventeen-year-old son into the Marine Corps. I wondered, "Will he hate me for this later?"
But so many things had happened to make us believe that this truly was the Lord's will, and what Noah wanted, too. Then nine months later, when we were at the recruiters office again, this time for Noah to leave for boot camp, we asked what the graduation date would be, expecting to hear August 24th, and we heard instead August 17th. We all looked at each other in wonder. A year since we had all signed those papers. Surely the Lord was in this to reassure us.
That blistering hot August 17th we sat sweltering on those bleachers watching one tall, straight Marine out of all the others. What a proud day! It makes my eyes well with tears remembering it now.
Three years later we received a late night call. Noah, and the rest of his platoon, had landed in Kuwait and in a couple of hours would be in Iraq. It wasn't until after we got off the phone we realized that while it was August 16th here, it was already the 17th there.
What a small thing for the Lord to do, but what a source of comfort for us -- that Noah would first step foot on the enemy's soil on his anniversary. It was as if the Lord was saying to us: "I am in control of where your son is today and everyday and I have him exactly where I need him to be, when I need him to be there."
"As for God, His way is perfect." Psalm 18:30
Monday, December 14, 2009
Right now the water temperature is a chilly 52°. The air today is a little warmer at 60°. We could try going with those temperatures, but it seems each day we could go, it is raining.
I feel sad seeing the kayaks sitting there, just waiting to be taken out. But I know how our weather here along the coast is, soon we will have a day in the 70-80's and we'll be paddling along again soon.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
What a wonderful thought, a place of rest. How many of us desire to find that place of rest, that place of peace and calm for our troubled minds or ruffled emotions! Then to find that the true place of rest is not a location which much be traveled to or a state of mind which must be obtained, but a Person!
A Person who "delighteth in mercy". . . a Person who is "full of compassion" and "slow to anger". . . a Person who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities". . .a Person who loves us enough to bear throughout eternity the wounds in His hands and feet as tangible evidence of that love.
Do you seek Peace? Do you seek rest? Run to the only One whose hands were pierced with nails so that your heart might always be at peace and your mind at rest. Trust in Jesus and find that place of rest.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Image by hodgers via Flickr
In a flash my mind concocted a vision of a way-to-bright Christmas Tree, presents piled up high around it, the sound of classic Christmas carols being crooned in the background by Bing Crosby and Andy Williams, and the smell of mulled cider percolating wafting around. Jealousy as green as the fantasy Christmas tree welled up in my heart.
Then, as soft, clear and quiet in my heart as a flash of lightening was the thought, "She has troubles, too. Everyone has troubles."
"Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer." was the statement made by Soren Kierkegaard. Job, who was no stranger to trouble, said, " Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." (Job 5:7)
We all have troubles. It is easy for the woman longing to have a baby to look at the woman with her small children in tow and think with envy that she has in her hands the secret of contentment. But that more than busy mother of curious little hands and feet has troubles.
The person with no money can look to the person with a full bank account and suppose that they have no worries, but money brings it own problems with it. Keeping it, protecting it and knowing if someone loves him for himself or his wallet are a few of his troubles.
The person with health issues looks toward the well-bodied person and thinks they have a heart of happiness, but though the physical is well, the spiritual may be wracked with pain. Everyone has troubles.
The issue is not the trouble. The issue is the answer to the trouble. My friend who always seems content, cheerful and positive is not that way because she has no troubles. I know this for a fact because I know of some of her troubles. She is cheerful and positive and content because she knows the Answer to her trouble.
She has learned that she cannot depend upon things or situations or other people for her contentment and peace in the world. She knows there is only One who can be in her heart that "Peace which passeth all understanding". There is only One who can be for her that "Joy unspeakable and full of grace." She has learned to depend upon Him in every situation and in doing so, His grace and joy flows through her to others.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:
for when I am weak, then am I strong. "
2 Corinthians 12:9,10
Friday, December 11, 2009
Day 69, August 14, 2004
Sometimes I think less information is better.
When I didn't know when or if Noah was leaving, then I could put aside thoughts that he was leaving. Knowing that today -- if Hurricane Charly permits, our son will be flying to Iraq, is uncomfortable knowledge.
I think of that commercial flight full of young, talented, highly trained Marines --
"Gentleman, please make sure your seats and grenade launchers are in their upright and locked positions"
-- being shipped overseas. What must that air feel like? So full of anticipation and dread, fear and excitement, planning and denial.
Perhaps in a much more intense way it must be how my patients approach labor -- they are so excited about seeing the baby and yet so scared of the pain. I know that these young men are so ready to do what they are being sent to do. They have trained and trained and trained. For all that, they are still barely out of boyhood, but how quickly hurled into manhood! How much of what they have done up to this point is still part of the "cops and robbers" they played as little boys, only now with a real attitude and real weapons. How quickly everything will change when the bullets are aimed at them by real enemies.
What thoughts will pass through their minds the first time they have to pull those triggers at another human and know for certain it was their hand that brought death. How do they, can they ever, erase those images from their minds?
We must pray that the Lord will protect their hearts in all this, that they will not become hardened to human suffering because they have seen, and perhaps even caused, so much of it.
Much like the nurse who must cause the young patient pain in order to heal, may these young men reign in their emotions when they need to and later pour them out to the Lord when they are alone.
I think I pray more for Noah's protection from the spiritual ravages of war than from the outward, physical damages. I know our Lord is faithful to protect both.
My son is your son too.
He is walking a path You have set out for him --keep him in it.
Let not his foot sway to the left or the right without your guidance.
Cause his heart to call out to you
before he calls out to any other.
Protect him -- body, soul and spirit.
Work Your perfect work in him through these days
and cause him to know beyond any doubt that
You are abundantly sufficient in all things.
Cause him to trust You before he trusts in himself
or his brother Marines.
Draw him to Yourself and reveal Yourself to him in every step.
May he know You as his Strength, his Peace,
his Shelter and his Safety.
Mostly, dear Father,
glorify Your Son in and through my son.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
From the time I was a young girl with a brown daschund named "Lady", to the present with my sweet beagle Sparrow sitting at my feet, dogs have always seemed to play some part in my life.
Recently the Lord used Sparrow in a very real way in my life to remind me that He is definitely interested in the things that concern me.
Glen and I were headed to an early morning appointment and our daughter, Emmie, now a college freshman, had an eight o'clock class. We had to leave before she would need to get up to get ready. I was concerned she might oversleep because she had been up late the night before working on a project due for class that day.
Trying to let our daughter have some independence in her new role as an adult, we didn't wake her up early just because we were leaving the house. As we traveled to our destination, I felt so concerned that she might be late. I prayed that the Lord would send Sparrow to scratch on her door to wake her up in time.
At the same time, my heart was burdened for my youngest as she becomes independent and as she faces the temptations that challenge most college freshmen. My prayers for protection, guidance and wisdom were fervent and heartfelt. All of this happened around 6:35 that morning.
Later in the day, Emmie called us to let us know she had made it to class on time, and we were both relieved. But that wasn't the end of the story.
Later that night, as I was typing on the computer, Emmie came and plopped herself on our bed (as is her habit to do). She told me that she had made it to class on time, and then told me why.
"Sparrow came to my door and scratched on it to wake me up."
I just looked at Glen.
"What time was that?" I asked her.
"I don't know, about 6:30, 6:40."
That was exactly the time I had been praying for her.
I felt as if the Lord was impressing upon me much the same He had spoken to Nathaniel about his experience under the fig tree. I felt that He wanted me know that though I seemed amazed that He had sent Sparrow to wake Emmie up--such a little thing-- that was just a token of the bigger things for which I had asked.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Day 68, August 13, 2009
Published in the Mobile Press Register:
Express Honor for Their Service
A common response heard by parents of sons and daughters deployed to Iraq is, "Oh, I'm so sorry! That's terrible!"
First, let me say that we appreciate the concern which such a statement reveals, and doubtless we all would love a world in which our precious young people did not have to risk life and limb in a war zone.
However, we do not live in such a world, and so I would like to make a request: Please think for a moment before you reply, and don't express anything negative to loved ones, who are in fact honored to have sons and daughters who voluntarily joined the U.S. military in order to protect our nation.
To have raised such a son or daughter causes most of us to bow our heads and give thanks that God has overcome our many parental mistakes in order to produce someone who fills our hearts with gratitude.
We are a nation originated and preserved by the sacrifice of patriots, some with their very lives. To be truly American means that we are willing to do the same, and perhaps even more, that we are willing to send our sons and daughters to do the same.
Please join us in the gratitude we feel for our children, and express what a dear lady said to me upon hearing of our son's deployment: "You must be so honored."
Friday, November 27, 2009
Day 63 August 8, 2004
Emotions are such a hard thing to keep in control. I was so determined that this time Noah would not see me cry as he left.
My advice was short, "Do what the Marine Corps has taught you and do what Mom and Dad have taught you."
I managed to get that out without tears. I told him I loved him and that I would be praying for him and that he would never be alone. Then he and Alan were in the car and pulling out of the driveway.
It wasn't until I turned back from walking in the house to wave goodbye that the tears came. But then I have to ask myself why I am crying. I feel such perfect peace inside regarding his safety. Perhaps I am crying because it will be so long before we see him again.
But we go long stretches without seeing Marie and I'm not crying over that. No, the tears involve the fact that everything which involves our son is not only out of our control but also out of our knowledge base. We aren't suppose to know when they are leaving the country or where they are going. As a matter of fact, most of the time he is gone we probably won't know where he is.
With Marie, if she needed help, we could be there with her in three or four hours. With Noah, we don't even know where he will be.
With Marie, we chat with her two or three times a week and stay updated on her life. With Noah, he will be involved in things of which we will never know.
With Marie, she can visit us whenever her work schedule and her wallet allows her to. With Noah, we just finished the last visit in a long while.
Yet, what a great honor to have son serve our country. In a movie I watched last night, a woman told a man whose five sons were serving in the war, "Sir, what a service you have done for your country."
And his reply? "Not nearly enough, ma'am." Not nearly enough.
Years ago, women lost husbands and sons and brothers in the same war. People did without so much to aid the war effort. Here we have given so little in comparison. But what a precious thing to give. As Glen said, even if Noah were given the opportunity to stay, he would not. He is going to do his job. He is going to do something he loves. He is going to do something the Lord has called him to do. Who am I to argue with the plans of a God whose ways are perfect?
So, my precious son, go with God and may He bless you abundantly above all that you could ask or think.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The smell of turkey already permeates the air as our bird roasts in the oven. The
Image via Wikipediadressing and Spinach Madelaine are both in the refrigerator waiting to take their turn in the oven. A gallon and a half of the world's best sweet tea (Yes, Jay, I actually had the nerve to put that in print!) waits in there with them.
I am nestled warm under the covers in my bed and it is chilly in the house. We have been blessed with a rare occasion here along the Gulf Coast: a holiday that feels like a holiday. At 40° right now, this is perfect Thanksgiving weather for us. Often on our Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can wear shorts and t-shirts. It's nice to know a sweater or jacket is required on a holiday.
It is a day for which to truly give thanks. It is not just a day to eat turkey and I have to confess, I get quite irritated at hearing people call it "Turkey Day".
Here is part of the actual proclamation for making Thanksgiving a national holiday:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the
Image by Smithsonian Institution via Flickrnation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
In reality though, it is almost laughable to think of setting one day to thank the Lord for all He has done for us. If it were not for Him, we would not have even our next breath.
He keeps the planets in rotation, He keeps the sun a combustible fire-ball, He maintains the very air we breathe with 21% oxygen. Then there are the thousands upon thousands of personal things for which we each have to thank Him.
If we were to begin today and no do nothing else throughout the rest of our lives, we could never thank Him for everything He has done for us, provided for us, been for us in our lives.
This God who "delighteth in mercy" and loves us more than we can ever imagine, this God to whom we owe every breath we have ever taken and every beat of our heart...He is worthy of all thanksgiving.
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Sunday, November 22, 2009
"What takes more courage, embracing conformity or the willingness to be seen as different?"
This was followed up later by his comment,
"It seems many are absolutely terrified of things changing and not being their expectation of conformity."
At first I thought I had an automatic answer to the question, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it is actually a question which can't easily be answered. To choose between conformity or change utilizes words which have such varied meanings for so many. As Thomas Sorrel states,
"Undefined words have a special power in politics, particularly when they involve some principle that engages people's emotions."
Is change good simply for the sake of change? Is conformity bad simply because it is conformity? How do we apply the thought of having the "willingness to be seen as different" in a practical setting? How do we implement "things changing" in practical situations? How far into each personal life must change reach to actually be change?
Are we speaking merely of ideals and theories in which change and conformity are words that have no impact on our daily decisions? Or do we implement change as opposed to conformity in every aspect of our lives because change is good and conformity is bad?
Do I have to use a different brand of toothpaste today than yesterday, because the change is good? (I hope not, I like my toothpaste.)
To ensure change, why couldn't we avoid the headache and expense of political campaigns (nothing would make me happier, I hate that time in our political cycle) and just change parties in power every two, four and six years, for Representatives, Presidents and Senators. We would ensure change and save money at the same time (and never have to listen to a single campaign speech!)
If we are to avoid conformity, does that mean that if everyone else is flying to the next conference, that I must drive to avoid conforming? If everyone is wearing rectangular style glasses, must mine be round, so as not to conform…I must show the courage to be different, mustn't I?
People who know me, know I do not like change unless I am the one who institutes it. I am, after all, the woman who used the same brand of hair color for seventeen years. Finally, the claims of another brand tempted me away from the one that said I was worth the extra money and in doing so, I found a better product.
Yet, I am also known by family and friends as a non-conformist.I don't believe in rules just for rule's sake and I have been known to challenge the ones that aren't well justified.I don't believe that things should stay the same just because "they have always been this way."I have often preferred to take the "less traveled" road and do things my own way, striking out in stubborn independence that I claim comes from my Greek grandfather and Irish great-grandfather, who were both immigrants to this country.
I do believe, however, that there are things that are worth saving, worth conserving, Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipediaworth leaving unchanged. The truths upon which our nation was founded, the strengths of our democracy, the belief that America is a great nation with incredibly wonderful people. . .these truths are worth preserving unchanged.
The tenants of our Constitution. . .these are not only worth preserving unchanged, but they are worth the sworn oaths of our service men and women, and our elected officials.
The foundations of our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.. . These are worth leaving untouched as a pattern for all oppressed who yearn to breathe the free air of liberty.
Today, as I took Sparrow outside, I stood beside the tall oak tree in our front yard.
Image by bluecinderella via FlickrI stood on the raised area where the roots of the tree meet the trunk. As I looked across our neighborhood at all the beautiful oaks and their canopy of limbs over the street, I thought of the thick roots under my feet.It was the unseen roots that allowed the oaks to stand so tall, to support those massive limbs that stretch out over the street and shade the sidewalks and cool the houses. If the roots were not perfectly stable --unchanging-- we would have no oak trees.They are a source of strength and beauty to all who live in our neighborhood.
There are things in our nation that we need to be unchanging. We need the roots to be immovable, sure, steady and strong so that the rest of the laws, bills and amendments built upon them can have a sure foundation.We need to know that the basic beliefs of our nation are unchanging, so we can have pride in who and what we are as Americans. We have nothing to apologize for. We provide food and medicine to so many in the world. We provide jobs for so many in other countries. We are the example they have looked to for freedom and democracy for over two-hundred years.
These are the things we mustn't change simply the sake of change. We must guard that which is worth preserving with every fiber of our being and every ounce of our courage, and we must change that which needs to be changed with caution and wisdom. Image by StarrGazr via Flickr
Image by StarrGazr via Flickr
"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set."
Saturday, November 21, 2009
However, I realize some people have to enter and exit their kayaks from docks. For these folks, I have posted some excellent videos from Ehow on just how to do that.
I hope you enjoyed these.
I love to make greeting cards. It feel that if I ever got into "real" scrapbooking, I would become so absorbed with it that I would do nothing else. But making greeting cards is different. They are smaller and once the card is made, you put it in the envelope and send it off to the person to whom it was intended. Then you start the next one. So I make cards instead of scrapbooking.
As part of my card craft, I have a wax seal. Sometimes I use the seal on the outer envelope of the card. The wax is red (my favorite color) and the seal has my initial on it. When I press the brass seal into the warm wax, my initial becomes embedded into the wax and the seal is set as coming from me. Anyone who recognizes my seal then knows who has sent them the card.
At the convalescent home where we do chapel services, I read a portion of Scripture each Sunday. We have been through the New Testament once already and are now in our second go round. This is one of the verses I will read tomorrow:
"He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." John 3:33
When we accept the Lord Jesus, we set to our seal that God is true. In our hearts, in our spirits, we are sealed with the seal of God that we are His children and we bear testimony with that seal that He is true.
That is why Christians seem to be so unshakable in their faith, because we have that seal that God is true stamped in our spirits. We have been changed by Him and we cannot go back to being unsealed. He is the answer to our every question. His word is our authoritative text. His Spirit is living in us to as our living guide, teacher and comforter.
As John the Baptist spoke of the Lord Jesus:
"He that cometh from above is above all: He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all." (John 3:31)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Day 39 July 15, 2004
Noah came home for July 4th! What a wonderful surprise -- to hear those keys clanking on the kitchen counter -- to see that handsome face and those laughing eyes! As it turned out, Aimee and Emmie were in on the surprise all along!
We had a wonderful time with Noah being home, but my favorite was when we all went bowling. Noah seemed so relaxed and free. I saw so much of the "old" Noah and it was very reassuring.
The good-bye again wasn't difficult. I think there were several reasons for that. First of all, it was five o'clock in the morning and we were all just too sleepy. Second, I was leaving for work myself a little after that and didn't have time to dwell on it. But the biggest reason is that Noah told us he would most likely be home for ten days at the end of the month. Now the goodbye at the end of that visit will be different! We will know then that he will soon be leaving the country and headed for war. Then our communication with him will be very slim indeed. Not that we have heardmuch from him since he went to Camp Lejuene. We have heard from Aimee that he has been working eighteen hour days in the field, so that accounts for why we haven't heard from him. But in the military, no news is good news.
Our trust is in the Lord, His way is perfect. Whether we hear from our son or not.
Yesterday, one of the doctors at work that we don't see very often asked me about Noah's picture on a button on my jacket. I told him where Noah was and where he was going, and that we were trusting the Lord to keep him safe. The doctor then told me that he would be praying for him (as many people do), but then he did something that really surprised me. He stared intently at the picture (as if he were memorizing the face) and closing his eys he stood perfectly still in front of me for many, many seconds. He said nothing, but I had the distinct impression he was praying for Noah right then.
I wish our servicemen had some clue how many people pray for them each day and support them.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Now, Southpaw is a very big, very animated Jaguar. Emma first caught sight of him as he walked jauntily in front of the stands where we were sitting. From that moment on she was obsessed.
"I go get that big guy." "I find the big guy." She was constant, she was relentless and she was determined. If I hadn't had a tight grip on her, she would have been out of the stands and following hard in the direction he had gone.
Finally, I consoled her by deciding to stand in front of the stands in hopes he would pass by soon. That was not enough. She continued her non-stop insistence that we "find that big guy!" I eventually decided we would just go and find him and I was rewarded with the most grateful kiss on my cheek those little lips could bestow.
We found Southpaw resting against the fence in front of the student section. I came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around and looked at Emma from that huge cat-head. Emma immediately crumpled. He was so much bigger in person! Her little eyes were wide and finally her mouth was silent. (No more clambering to get the big guy - he was REALLY big to her now.) Southpaw was wonderful with her. He blew kisses to her and made friendly hand gestures to her.
Literally the second we walked away, Emma began again,"I go get that big guy!"
Sometimes we have something in our mind that we really believe is exactly what we think we need to make us satisfied and happy. We cry out in our mind to "go get that big thing" (whatever it is) until maybe we finally track it down and tap it on the shoulder. But so often, when it is in our sight, or in our hands, we realize it doesn't make us happy. It doesn't satisfy us. And a second later we are again crying out for something else to fill that longing.
That is because the longing of our heart is the Lord Jesus. That hole in our heart, that emptiness, that loneliness we are trying to fill can only be satisfied by Him. He is the all in all that alone will bring us peace and love and perfect contentment. Once we have Him, we will find, we have all.
So we missed a beautiful sunrise. Well, to be honest with you, I am only assuming that the sunrise was beautiful (because all of the ones I have see have been). I didn't see it. I was sleeping!
Friday, November 13, 2009
June 22, 2004
It has been two weeks now. In some ways it seems like it was just yesterday that Noah left and in others like it has been much, much longer.
It has been nice to get emails and calls from him, although they are very short, and he has even sent a few pictures. As nice as those things are, when you have someone like Noah -- who can make you laugh at every turn in the conversation -- you miss just sitting around and joking with him. There has always seemed to me something forced about a telephone conversation, as if you are trying to fill up every space with words lest you experience the awkwardness of dead air. When you are together, however, the silent spaces can be for reflecting or resting or thinking or perhaps looking at the same thing. Sometimes it can be for that silent communication that knows none nor needs no words.
I think this time is different too because we are not on the top of the "Noah" ladder. I am sure he is missing us, but he is really missing Aimee. It is a difficult place to take that step down in your child's life, but it is also so normal and so necessary.
I guess the thing that bothers me most is that I feel so totally helpless to do anything. I don't know what to send him while he is still here in the States and I don't know how often he reads his email. So I work on my "Noah quilt" each day knowing that the time I spend on that is for Noah.
The quilt has six sets of six colored stripes. At this point (as far as I know and most of my information is from Aimee), there are five men on Noah's team plus the leader. So there is a color for each man and each color is found in the Marine Corps flag. Noah is the light yellow. I guess because yellow is a happy, fun color. Maybe it is because Noah's first bedroom was a bright yellow. I just now I think of (and pray for) Noah when I see that color -- like the yellow ribbons on our doors and oak tree.
The red is for Alan. I think of Alan as a strong, good to the foundation kind of guy. Perhaps his dark hair complements the red color, but I think of Alan when I see the red.
The white is Jay. I don't know Jay, but I think he enjoys outdoor things like hunting and fishing and the white knit (like a polo shirt) material reminds me of a casual, outdoorsy guy. Too, I know his wife is pregnant and the white reminds me of a baby blanket. I try to remember to pray for her, too, when I pray for Jay.
I know little about the fourth and fifth men of team, so one is the gray-silver silk, sort of like a foggy cloud. The other is the black stripe, since I know absolutely nothing about him, not even a name.
The cream colored Asian pattern is Foster. He is the leader of the team. I assume that as leader he has more rank, more experience and more knowledge. So the rich feeling, textured and patterned material is his. It is also the most difficult to sew.
As I sew each color, I try to pray for the man (and his family) that color represents. The six colors represent things as well. They represent the six things I have chosen to be my main prayer for Noah and his team and his platoon: strength, wisdom, accuracy (not only regarding weaponry but also coordinates), endurance, integrity and faith.
I have decided on the center to quilt an Eagle, Globe and Anchor. Quilting the pattern won't be a challenge -- after all, I've quilted a china pattern before! But getting the pattern onto the quilt has proven to be a great challenge, especially when you consider all the different colored materials. So far I have the pattern of the eagle, so one third is done.
This is something else I can pray for Noah, that the things which he finds as unexpected challenges, he will know how to break into smaller parts and overcome and that through it all he will maintain a positive optimistic outlook, his integrity and and that his faith will be strengthened.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So I decided today to share with you the simple thing that I overlooked: how to hold the paddle.
To begin with, you must figure out where on the paddle to place your hands.
To do this, grasp the paddle and put the center of the paddle on top of your head (I think it helps to do this while looking in a mirror). Your upper arms should be parallel with the paddle and your forearms should be perpendicular to your upper arms and the paddle.
This will show you how wide apart your hands should be on the paddle. (I use the little cut off parts of pool noodles on my paddles to help me remember my hand placement. Also they help the paddles float.)
If you look at your paddle blade, you will notice one side is slightly hollowed out. This is the side which should be facing you as you stroke. (Think of cupping water away.)
Also, on most paddles, the bottom edge of the paddle is cutout and slanted downward toward the tip. The slanted part should always go to the bottom, or toward the surface of the water. This allows for an easier exit of the paddle from the water.
Now that we have our hands in the right place on the paddle, we need to think about how we actually hold the paddle.
With the right hand, the edge of the paddle blade and the knuckles of your hand should be in the same alignment. There are usually different notches on the paddle so that you can make adjustments if necessary. The right hand grip will not change throughout the paddling, regardless of the type of stroke employed.
The left hand grip however, should be very open and relaxed. It is basically making an "OK" sign with your left hand and the paddle fits inside that "OK" sign. That way if the paddle blade needs to be rotated, it is rotated with the left hand.
Having said that, I think the easiest mistake to make when kayaking is to put a death-grip on the paddle. It is very easy to grip the paddle too hard, especially if you begin using too much upper body muscles and not enough core muscles for your stroke. I find I still have to consciously remind myself to relax my hands.
Our Lord said that when we see these things...when we "shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be", when we see "men's hearts failing for fear," that is the very time for us to have HOPE! That is the sign of our Redemption!
God will finish that which He has begun and nothing and no one will thwart His plan and His purpose. It may look like the enemy will win, but never be deceived, God will rule the day and in the end the Lord Jesus will be crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords and true justice will be meted out at the Judgment Seat. As a character in one of my favorite movies tells the toady of the bad guy: "You know, nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance ..."
So lift up your heads! Look up! There is a Savior and He has not and is not leaving us forsaken. He cares, He loves and He is right here with us, in us and through us this very minute. He will not and cannot be defeated.
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand." (Luke 21:29-31)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Dedicated to Noah, Ralph and Karen
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank every Marine for their commitment and service to our country.
I am not a Marine, but my son is, my neighbor is and a dear friend of mine is and they are two fine and wonderful men and a great woman.
I have a great respect for those who decide to take this rigorous path in life in defense of our Constitution and I applaud them today on the birthday of their Corps.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Image via WikipediaI had watched as one of the boys had gone to the concession stand and bought a funnel cake. Now if you don't know what a funnel cake is, you really need to go to a fair or parade or ball game with the sole purpose of purchasing one. It is a confection of batter which is deep-fried and covered with confectioner's sugar. The smell alone is addictive and you can only watch so many people walk in front of the stands with one before you are drawn irresistibly to the concession stand to purchase one for yourself.
One of the boys had one of these delightful confections in his possession. His friend asked for a bite. The first boy pulled off a small piece and gave it to him. Not content, the second boy asked for more. Only "asked" is not the correct verb. He actually demanded more -- and a bigger piece. He wanted at least half. The first boy pulled off another small piece (smaller than the first, I noticed) and gave it to him. Boy #2 gobbled this down and again started his demands, only louder and more aggressively. Boy #1 for the third time, pulled off a piece and gave it to his friend. Boy #2 again demanded more. It seemed to him that it was totally unfair that Boy #1 should have so much funnel cake (which Boy#1 had purchased with his own money out of his own pocket) and he (Boy#2) should only be given small pieces. Never once did I hear Boy #2 say "Thank-you". Never once did he stop badgering his friend for more funnel cake until the last bite was eaten. Boy #1 had to eventually move the plate out of the reach of Boy #2 to prevent his funnel cake from being taken from him.
Glen and I also had funnel cake last night. Our sharing of the cake did not involve any demands, badgering or begging. We amiably shared the plate of goodness (as we have shared things for over 30 years). In fact, Glen left the last piece for me, but I insisted he eat half of it.
In my mind, Boy #1 had every right to eat ALL of his funnel cake that he had purchased. He was more than generous to give cake to his friend more than three times. Boy #2 was ungrateful and demanding. What was the difference between their exchange and the exchange between me and Glen? Glen and I have learned that we want the other one to have the most and the best of everything. We have learned to "esteem other better than yourselves"
Boy #2 reminded me much of the direction of our society in which so many want so much from others simply because the others have managed to acquire it. Demanding, badgering and ungrateful, so many do not have a heart or mind for others and what they can be do for those others. How much better our homes, our towns, our society and our nation would be if we could learn the lesson from the Apostle Paul to:
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3)
We started out at 6:12am. The water temperature was 64° and the air temperature was 47°. There was a little wind, but not much.
We were dressed well for the weather and I never once felt cold. I could tell through my clothes that if I could feel the water, I would know it was cold, but I never felt cold myself.
From our last chilly experience, I had added an additional layer, a waterproof rain suit. This kept the chilly water out of my pants and kept me completely dry the whole trip. I also added a pair of gloves so that my hands never felt cold. Temperature did present a problem later on, though.
We put in with plenty of time to see the sunrise, but because of it being so much later in the year, the sun now comes up in a different place and those beautiful "sunrise on the water" pictures just weren't the same.
As we started, I found the gloves made it difficult for me to keep my hands in the proper place on the paddle. My hands kept slipping with each stroke. I had a pair of thin, latex gloves on underneath the cloth gloves and eventually I removed the cloth gloves and just wore the latex gloves in order to keep my hands dry.
We paddled up the river and we both felt as if we were paddling in pudding. For some reason -- perhaps the multitude of layers -- we both felt awkward and out of rhythm with our stroke. It seemed as if it was taking us forever to reach our goal.
At one point, I had to stop and remove the coat to my rain suit. I was becoming too warm. This meant I had to take off my PFD (which sounds easy, but isn't really that easy sitting in a kayak in the middle of a river), remove the coat and then reapply my PFD. That was the first of three stops we would make to disrobe.
We eventually gave up on reaching our goal and settled for a nearer spot to stop, rest and enjoy our thermos of hot chocolate. I was secretly hoping the current we had been battling would push us back toward where the bay meets the river, but the current seemed to be going in all directions at once. After a nice chat and our tummies full of hot chocolate, we headed back.
We stopped once so that Glen could remove his jacket and the second shirt he was wearing and a few minutes later, I stopped to remove the latex gloves and all my shirts except the sleeveless one. The rising sun had made it definitely warmer, even though the water was still very chilly.
Once I was free of the layers on my arms, I felt like I could stroke the paddle the way it was meant to be stroked. The way back still seemed long and I think we were both glad when the put-in came into view.
It was one of the few times I have ever really been glad to come out of the water and pack up the boats. On the way home, Glen was chilled from some water that had leaked into his suit. I, on the other hand, still felt over heated. We played tug-of-war with the controls of the car's air conditioner/heater until our body temperatures became a little closer to each other.
I don't know how long into the fall and winter we will kayak, or at what point we will say the water is just too cold, but I was pleased to know that we could go out and stay dry and warm (and maybe a little too warm) in spite of the cold water and the wind.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Day Two, June 8, 2004
An empty plate and bowl full of lemons.
It was the sign of a man who cares deeply and needs to show it.
Marie had come home this morning and tonight we gathered at the table for dinner. There were five plates. One plate was empty, as was the glass, but beside the plate was a bowl full of sliced lemons. Anyone who knows Noah would recognize that as his plate. The bowl of lemons - the token that we will never forget, never stop praying, never stop counting the 366 day (or so his orders say) until he once again rests his feet under our table.
As I write this, I sit in his room with all his belongings stuffed into his closet as tightly as sardines in a can. I can look up and see his Dress Blues hanging from a hook on the ceiling or his cover on top of the shelves. The room is full of his smell on his clothes. I told Aimee tonight that she could come over anytime, if only to smell his smell on his clothes. . . something another girl would understand.
Then there was the joy of hearing his voice. But I didn't feel like I could talk -- to get too close is only to have to tear oneself away again. But I can pray, and I will pray.
I remember when Noah left for boot camp he asked me to pray for five things for him. I made a bracelet of beads representing those five things so that every time I would see it I would remember to pray. Yesterday, I made another bracelet, again with five parts. My prayers are for strength, endurance, integrity, wisdom and accuracy...and one more...faith.
My bracelet for boot camp lasted until the day we reached Parris Island. I intend this one to last until Noah pulls into our driveway next year. I pray I will be as faithful in supporting him this time as I tried to be during bootcamp. May the Lord show me what to do and when to do it.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Image via WikipediaI was watching a car pass by today and the hubcaps caught my eye. As I watched them spin round and round, I thought about the marvel of the wheel. The four wheels of that vehicle allowed a 3,000+ pound car to easily traverse the road.
How many times during my day do I utilize something with wheels? Today at work we had a STAT Cesarean Section. Having to push a 200 pound woman in a 250 pound bed as fast as possible down the hall would be an insurmountable task without those four little wheels. As it was, two nurses were able to get her to the operating room in a matter of seconds.
I use wheels on carts, we have wheels on our garbage can (which thanks to my thoughtful husband I rarely have to even touch). Some people have wheels on their luggage. At work we use small cardboard "wheels" which rotate around to tell us how far along a woman's pregnancy is based on her due date.
Wheels are responsible for bringing everything into the grocery store that we end up bringing home and we bring it all home thanks to the wheels on our car.
I have now completely established the usefulness of wheels. But how many times have I taken the time or effort to thank the Lord for wheels? Here is something that makes my life unbelievably easier and that I use everyday, but I don't think I've ever even thought of being thankful for them to the Person who caused them to be invented.
There are so many more items like that in my life. . .things I have so taken for granted day after day that I can't even pull them to mind now, but for which I know I should be offering thanks to the Lord.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. " James 1:17
I pray the Lord will open my eyes to see more of the good and perfect gifts He has provided in my life that I can give Him thanks and praise for His wonderful provision.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
the sleepy brown woods seem to
nod down their heads to the Winter,"
The changing of seasons is something that I don't take for granted. Those who know me are aware that I dislike hot weather. I often say that the only good reason for summer is kayaking. Of course, now we have learned how to kayak in cooler temperatures, too, I may have to stop saying that. I love cooler weather. I like it as cold as it gets here along the coast. I would love to see snow, whatever that is. But when the Spring comes, I love to see all the budding plants and the new green show up on the trees.
From the very beginning of the world, the Lord instituted seasons. "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years" (Genesis 1:14). Perhaps He knew His creation of man enough to know that we would need change several times a year. Even a continual perfect climate might grow old eventually.
There is so much around us for which to give thanks, and so often that I fail to do so. But today, as I breathe the cool air that feels so much thinner, feels so invigorating, that hints of Winter (even though we know the chances of having an 80° Christmas are pretty good,) I will remember to thank Him who knew from the creation of the world, that I would need autumn winds today.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Image via WikipediaI was standing outside of the ER at the hospital the other day, waiting for Glen to pick me up. I do this often since a neurosurgeon told me the worst thing I can do for my neck injury is to drive. I have found his words to be true. When I drive, I usually pay the penalty for a week or two afterward with increased neck pain and headaches. To avoid this, my husband graciously acts as my chauffeur in most situations.
As I was standing there waiting, my first temptation was to be irritated at having to wait. After all, our society is now one in which waiting has become a negative thing. We have fast food, fast news, fast entertainment. We expect fast medicine, fast service, fast recoveries. . .from anything. I began to think about waiting and about the rush in which our society has found itself. The verse came to mind immediately, "Be still and know I am God" (Psalm 46:10)
Be still. How foreign that seems these days to be still and wait. But if we don't be still and wait on the Lord, how can we hear His voice? How can we know His will?
As I write this, my sweet beagle Sparrow is cuddled up next to me as close as possible. I love Sparrow so much and one of the reasons is because she teaches me so much. She teaches me about how I should respond to the Lord, and how my feelings for her are a tiny shadow of what the Lord feels for me.
When we leave in the morning for the hospital, Sparrow often gets to ride with us (she loves car rides.) But she will stand still and watch me, her eyes looking to me for guidance, waiting to see when I start to leave. She doesn't rush ahead of me. When I start to walk toward the door, then she follows.
Each morning, her simple act of respect and love touches my heart. Her acknowledgment of me as her authority and leader humbles me and strengthens my role at the same time.
When I come home in the afternoon, she is waiting at the door, not only her tail wagging, but her whole body wagging in joy. She is thrilled when I bend over and pet her and talk to her about her day. And I am thrilled that she has come to greet me with such obvious devotion.
How much more must be the relationship we have with our Lord. When we still ourselves to see that "He is God", and in doing so acknowledge His authority and Headship in our lives, how much it must touch His heart. When we come to Him in devotion and love, how His heart is thrilled and filled with joy.
He loves us. He cares for us. He joys over us with singing. We must only let ourselves be still. Be still and we will know that He alone is our God. And we will know that He alone is enough.
Friday, October 30, 2009
June 7, 2004 Day One
It was a very hard day. the morning started with distracting myself from what was to happen in the afternoon. It seemed as if Noah would never return from the Unit, but I didn't mind the delay too much -- it kept that inevitable moment at bay longer. then, more abruptly than I thought it should happen, the moment was upon us. We gathered on the carport while Glen prayer -- I had to concentrate on other things to keep from turning into a mass of tears. Then Em and I and the Glen said goodbye first, so that Aimee and Noah could have time alone.
Once again eloquence neglected me. I had such a fragile grasp on control, I could only manage to say, "I love you son." After a quick kiss on the cheek, I walked away and retreated to the dark quiet of my bedroom and burst into tears. I knew that sometime while I was in there, he drove away and not watching that truck leave seemed much more difficult than watching the van pull away toward Parris Island three years earlier.
Overall, the emotions of the day were much harder than I had imagined but deep within a quiet peace prevailed. It is a strange combination, this deep intense emotion in the feelings and the quiet calm in the Spirit.
Then came the smile in tanglible form. . .a knock on the door and then Glen handed me a beautiful arrangement of flowers. How surprised I was to read the card:
Anita Sonja Sheila Nycole
The thoughtfulness of friends at work brought more tears, but grateful ones. Like a blanket on a cold day, their love wrapped around me and warmed my aching soul.
It reminded me of Aimee, after I had said goodbye to Noah and had come into the house, she hugged me and said, "Don't cry, he'll be okay." And I had thought I would be comforting her!
I was a hard day, a very hard day, but in some respects, a very good day, too.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Image via Wikipediaface. I watched the trees swish and sway with the wind and I thought of the verse:
"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:8
Try as I might, I could not see the wind. I could see leaves moving, I could see branches bending. I could feel my hair swirling around my head, but I could not see the wind itself. I could feel it on my face, and it's coolness was a refreshing promise of fall finally coming to the warmer part of our country. But I could not see the wind.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of coming in contact with several people with whom I went to high school, and some of the teachers at the school as well. I have enjoyed reconnecting and catching up with these familiar faces from the past, and it has made me look backward at the path my life has carved through time.
While those days were going on, I often was unaware that the Lord was the "wind" pushing me along a certain turn in the path. Sometimes I just thought I was making my own choice, even though some -- like the choice to become a nurse -- seemed to just come out of the blue. Looking back though, I can easily see the leaves blown by, the branches bent. . .all the traces of the "wind" in my life. It humbles me, it makes me so grateful, to think that a merciful God was watching out for me and leading me, even when I thought I was leading myself.
Oh, thank you Lord for parents that surely prayed for me often!
Here in the Deep South, when the days are hot and humid, the worst of all are when there is no wind, no breeze, no respite to the oven we call our climate. Sometimes in our lives we walk through some "dog days" (sorry, Sparrow) as well. But the "wind" is still there.
"The Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear:" Isaiah 59:1.
He is still leading, still guiding. It is His work that He has promised "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" Philippians 1:6.