Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Old Friends...

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to witness some pretty spectacular things. First of all, our oldest son went to wrestling camp. What's spectacular about that you ask? Well, we just moved from one coast to another, and signed him up for wrestling camp at a large university in PA. He is going all by himself. Not knowing anyone there, this 14 year old kid, walked in, set his stuff down and said goodbye to his parents. His determination still surprises me. He has more guts than I have, I can tell you that. So, leaving him there, I got a small taste of what the upcoming years hold for me...more letting go, a little at a time. Not easy stuff, but I have a mighty Savior, who holds my hand every step of the way. The greatest part of leaving him there, was that after he unloaded his stuff in his room, he and I found a private spot, and prayed together. With a heart of gratitude, I tell you there is no more precious moment than praying with your child. As I write this, he is still at camp, wrestling his little heart out.
The other spectacular moment came when T and I got to reunite with some old friends. After dropping off our son, we met up with some buddies of T's from USMA. One he hadn't seen in many years. Dan, Anthony and Thane (all pictured above) met each other when they were just 18. All had left home, and traveled many miles from friends and family to become plebes at West Point. They were assigned to the same company, and the same room, and quickly they formed a bond that is much stronger than much else I have ever witnessed. Since I have not attended the Academy myself, I only have stories of what goes on there, on which to form an opinion. But something really extraordinary happens there. When you arrive, you are literally stripped of everything familiar to you. Whatever you were before you got there, means nothing after you get there. You stand in your black knee socks, trimmed gym shorts and white tshirt, and you look exactly like everyone else. Daily you receive screaming and spitting in your face. You're demoralized, insulted and given tasks that are designed for you to fail. Determined to succeed you rely on the only things you have left...yourself and the ones who endure beside you.
Many times I have listened to stories told by my husband and his buddies that are hard to listen too. Why? Because building great leaders is not an easy or attractive process. It requires things many of us are not willing to witness, let alone endure. Military leadership is something we just expect, we don't really understand what it takes to achieve. But these guys know exactly what it takes, and they have it. But what is really amazing is that after all of the years since they met, its as if they have never been apart. The loyalty and friendship that the experience created is like nothing I have ever seen.
When these three men had the opportunity to see each other, they made it happen. Each of them set everything else aside, traveling many miles so they could reunite. We sat together in a restaurant and it was as if no time had passed. They laughed, interrupted each other, finished each other's stories, smoked cigars and I just got such joy out of watching them. They have a bond that none of us (their wives) can understand, but we love them for it. These guys were trained to always look out for each other. Even though only one of them is still in the Army, it is not a lesson that applies only to the Army. To them, it's life long. Kids, careers, miles and life may physically seperate them, but they remain comitted to one another in brotherly love and loyalty.
Anthony (in the middle) just got back from Korea. He's been reunited with his family and they are embarking on a new phase for his career. Dan (on the right) lives close by, so he and Thane will get to see more of each other. He introduced Thane and I 16+ years ago. I remind him every time I see him, of how grateful I am. Old friends are so unique, they know what we used to be and they love us and accept us anyway...that's pretty huge!
Oh yea...I forgot the best part...whenever my husband gets together with any of his old friends, they all say the same thing..."Thane, you look exactly the same as you did 15 years ago!" (very true, btw) So, when we got in the car, I said to him, "How come all of our friends say you look the same as you did 15 years ago, but none of them say that about me?" He answered, "Because honey, you don't look the same as you did 15 years ago...your hair is much smaller now." (also true!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Thorn. . .

So when you read the title of this post, what comes to mind? Some, I would guess, know exactly what it refers to, while others may think maybe this is a funny little post about something one of my boys did to the other. Well, there isn't anything funny about "the thorn", there is something quite painful about it, as the name implies, but ultimately there is tremendous joy and reassurance in having one. I don't want to simplify it, because it is really quite complex, I just want to share some of what the Lord revealed to me about a story many Christians are familiar with.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul writes about "a thorn" that the Lord gave him. The verse reads: "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me." I find this verse extremely revealing. I don't know about you, but I think Paul was a pretty inspiring man. As far as Christians go, he has me beat by miles. He was not only chosen by God to do great things, but he received revelations, preached the saving message of Christ, and lived a life dedicated to His service. He penned multiple passages of scripture, the very Word of God, and remains a well known role model to Christians today. Again, I can't speak for you, but that's certainly not me. Yet he says he was "given a thorn". The obvious question is "why?"

Many times when I heard or read this passage, I assumed that Paul's thorn was some physical impaiment that he wanted to be delivered from. But Scripture doesn't actually tell us what the thorn was, and I believe there is good reason for that. But Scripture does tell us Why. Paul received the thorn, to keep him from becoming conceited or proud. Wow. The other thing that's interesting is that Paul says he was given a thorn by God from a "messenger of Satan". So he understands that God allowed Satan to torment Paul with "the thorn". Why? Later in verse 9, after Paul explains that he pleaded with the Lord three times for deliverance, the Lord responded with: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". So because of Paul's thorn, God's power was made perfect.

So, why doesn't the Lord, through Paul, reveal what his "thorn" is? I believe its because if we knew what the thorn was we wouldn't see the application for us. We ALL have a "thorn". I can't speak for you, but this concept is huge to me. I know exactly what my "thorn" is and I am sure as you are reading this you know exactly what yours is. What was revealed to me today is a much greater lesson. My God loves me so much that He gave me a "thorn". My "thorn" reminds me of my weakness. It keeps me humble. It brings to mind that without I am nothing apart from Christ. It "pins" me to my King. But most importantly, it makes His power perfect.
I am actually thankful for my "thorn". The knowledge that my God wants to keep me empty of myself so I can be full of Him, warms my spirit. I don't want to be rid of it. It's presence perfects His power, and with His power, He will do great things.

I know Paul didn't think he was worthy either, that's exactly when we can be used most.

Thank you, Lord, for my "thorn"!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Finally Here!!!

I am sure many of you have been waiting with bated breath, wondering "where are those syversons?" Did they make it? When they got there, did they have everbody? Did they decide to set up house somewhere in Iowa? Did Becky break her fingers? Did they run out of snacks? or gas? Well, here finally, all of your questions will be answered. And then some. . .

We arrived really late Friday night and pulled right in to our new house. There was a homemade banner on the door, and we went in and checked it out. Within minutes the welcoming committee arrived and I thought the kids would wake the whole neighborhood greeting each other. It was a huge relief to finally arrive and be able to get out of the car, and stay out of the car. The dog was very relieved as well, although he is still acting somewhat mental and it may take some time to see if he fully recovers. ( his baseline was a little crazy already ) Our coastal weather has definitely been left behind, and the heat and humidity remind me very quickly of my childhood summers. It is so surreal to be living here. I don't know how long it will take to really sink in. After spending today, unloading the truck and unpacking boxes, it still seems like this is someone else's life. It is so much fun to watch the kids enjoy their cousins, and explore their new surroundings. We have a nice yard with lots of trees and the neighborhood seems welcoming. It is really weird to be down the street from my sister. Several years ago she told me that Clayton, her son, had started praying that his cousins would live down the street. Sarah reminded me of this just a few weeks ago. The Lord hears the prayers of His children.Not much more to add tonight, since I am exhausted and still have quite a bit of unpacking to do tomorrow. One funny from the last day in the car. . . Gabe and Aubrey were riding in the back of the car for several hours. They weren't playing video games and they weren't watching movies, they were just quietly playing together. I could hear them making plans for a 'battle" they were going to have when they got home. They were working on something but I couldn't see what it was because I was driving. When we got to our house the boys got out of the car. They had their toy swords strapped to their bodies and belts holding other various weapons they had made in the car. Upon closer examination, I realized that they had taken a huge tub of hand wipes I had in our "snack basket" and pulled them out one at a time, and tied them together making various ropes and belts. They had their "weapons" strapped to their bodies with hand wipes! Pretty resourceful really, they must get that from their dad!

Thank you all for all of your prayers, the Lord is good and provided for our every need as we knew He would.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 4. . . Are we there yet?

In the sport of running, there is a term called "hitting the wall". For all of you non-runners, the term represents the time in the race when your muscles are absolutely depleted and your body says enough. I remember all the literature and trainers when I was getting ready for my marathon, always preparing you for the dreaded "wall". Well, today these cross country travelers hit it, and we hit it hard. I decided today that running my marathon was acutally easier than this drive. So unfortunately, I don't think I even have the energy to relate anything amusing. Not that there wasn't anything humerous today, there certainly was. But the day was more full of tears than laughter.
It's amazing to me how much you can think about and process when you're stuck in a car for five days. In some ways it has been good. The Lord and I have worked out some overdue stuff and I have had lots of time to actually listen to the boys. I can't remember the last time I spent this much concentrated time with them, and it is great to see how different they are. In a family this big it is easy for them to be overlooked in the daily business of suburban life. They don't know any other way for a family to function and at times on this trip they actually look surprised when I ask them about something and they get to tell me about it. I guess that is both the benefit and the drawback to growing up in a big family. . . it's never all about you.
So today we did some visiting and a lot of complaining. We comisserated together though and there is comfort in that. At one point today, I think it was somewhere in Indiana, I was driving and listening to music. My oldest son was next to me and he reached over and took my hand but said nothing. He was watching a movie on the laptop, he never even looked over, he just held my hand. I noticed how big his hand has gotten as he held mine. It didn't last a real long time, but it meant the world to me. Adolescents are so funny, trying to find themselves and figure out who they are. I am learning to really cherish the moments when he reaches out to me. I am stunned by how quickly he has grown up. While we were holding hands, I was remembering the day he was born. His dad and I couldn't believe how small he was, his little butt fit right in the palm of my hand, yet now his hand overwhelms mine. He is becoming a man, and a mighty one at that. I cannot wait to see what the Lord intends for him.
The rest of the day, was spent mostly resolving squabbles. Mild ones, thank goodness and at one point there was a full blown wrestling match in the back of the car. It was pretty funny. . . in retrospect that is. I do have to leave you with a few funnies noted on today's drive. Thanks to all of you who have been following along and praying for us this week. It is much appreciated.

Gabe: (with a glasses case clamped to his ear) "I don't want to sing alone!"
Rhett and Aubrey: Rhett: "Is bigfoot a man or a woman?"
Aubrey: "he's male"
Rhett: "how can you tell?"
*I think this conversation was in regard to a character in a video game they were playing. Still, it worries me:)
Keller, Aubrey and Rhett fighting: Brey: "you guys are so immature"
Keller: "Oh yea, well you are soooo mature"
Rhett: "Is Ohio IN Iowa?"
Aubrey: "Mom, is Aubrey short for something?"
Mom: "No, why?"
Aubrey: "Can we shorten it to Aub"
Mom: "Oookay."
Aubrey: "How about Aubster"
Mom: "What's wrong with Aubrey"
Aubrey: "It just doesn't sound tough enough, How about Penske?" (moving truck company:)

Gabe road with T today and gut his very own can of "turkey chew" because he needs it for trucking. (if some of you find this disturbing, its okay, so do I)
Gabe: "Mom, how do you dink a submarine full of blondes?"
Mom: (reluctantly) "I don't know, Gabe, how?"
Gabe: "knock on the door!" (crazy laughing)
Mom: "Do you know you're blonde Gabe?"
Gabe: "I am?"

Good night from Dayton, OH!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cross Country Adventure, Day 3. . .

Well, tonight's post is from DesMoines, and I have to tell you this blogger is pretty beat. But if I don't write these down now, they might get lost in my mind with the rest of this cross country trek. So, before we get to the fun stuff, T and I had a seriously surreal reunion with some friends today in Lincoln, NE. T had a roommate his plebe year at WP, that lives in Lincoln. He hasn't seen him since they graduated, so he got this wild hair that he would call him on our way through Lincoln and see if they could hook up. . . he called him and he met us for dinner tonight. Such a neat thing, they visited just like no time had passed. The bonds formed during T's time at WP always amaze me. It is unlike any other friendship I've observed. There is tremendous loyalty that exists between cadets that lasts a lifetime. It is a pretty cool thing.
The other surreal thing is that I got to see Lucy and Connie in Lincoln, NE!! Is that freaky or what. My coastal friends visiting their dad in Lincoln, ran up to meet us and say goodbye. It meant so much to us. God is so good. . . all the time.
So our day started this morning with everyone loaded and ready to go. . . again. The mood was much less enthusiastic as the boys are growing as road weary as we are. The following are just the ones I can remember tonight:

Gabe: "Mom, Keller keeps saying I love Sydney"
Mom: "Keller, stop saying that Gabe loves Sydney"
Gabe: "But I do like her mom"
Mom: "Ok, Keller you can say Gabe likes Sydney"
Keller: "Mom, Gabe is snickering at me"
Mom: "Gabe, stop snickering at Keller"
Gabe: "I'm just smiling at him"
Aubrey: "Mom, the dog is really upset today"
Dog: panting and looking pathetic
Aubrey: "I think he's trying to warn us about something"
Mom: "What do you think he's warning us about?"
Aubrey: "I don't know"
Mom: "Well if he's going to be a dog that delivers premonitions, he's going to have to be more specific"
Aubrey: "Are you mocking me?"
Rhett: "Are we still in Nebraska?"
Keller: " We have to drive exactly 11.25 more hours today to stay on schedule, mom"
Rhett: "When we get to NJ will Auntie Sarah still be 3 hours ahead of us?"
Brey: "What is that awful smell?"
Everybody: "Who did that?" (lots of moaning and pointing)
Mom: "We're passing a dairy farm, boys"
Rhett: "Is the east coast right after Ohio?"
Gabe: "I don't understand why everybody thinks I am in love with Sydney"

The dog has officially developed "PTSD". Everytime I catch the rumble strip with the car, all 100lbs of him comes leaping over the back seat. Trust me, that's a lot of dog to hurdle over the seat. Thank goodness he has Aubrey, the dog whisperer. . . Oh yea, one more tidbit. You know you've been on the road too long when you pull off the interstate and before you've even told them why you're pulling off, they start yelling, "I'll have a #7, please!"
Good night, all!