Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mother of a Soldier


    The one and only son of the Preacher and I, has held up his right hand and taken his oath to defend our country. So now we are the parents of a Soldier.

     These words, ‘mother of a Soldier’, have not fully sunk into my brain. It is partly due to the fact that he has not actually left to serve his country, but it is really because I am not ready to fully embrace all that these words entail.

     Did I know that someday I would become the mother of a soldier? One night, when our son was twelve years old, he confided in me that he wanted to serve in the military. I remember feeling apprehensive, but also I remember feeling a little proud. I documented that conversation in a scrapbook page. There were no pictures taken of that night, just our conversation. I wanted to remember those words so that I could retell them to my son, if and when the day came that he did join the military.

     Within the last seven years my son has finished his home-school high school, received his AA degree from our local community college, and attended several college programs. I put the possibility of my son spending time in the military in the very back of my mind (I mean way back there), even though he did bring up the idea every once in a while.  You try to think about what career your son will pursue and the military is not on a mother’s top 10 list of careers for her child.

     When your child is born into this world, you think that it is your responsibility to keep them safe from all harm, to protect them. You teach them the warning signs of danger, you tell them how to avoid these dangers by saying things like – “Don’t run with scissors in your hand.”, “Don’t touch the stove, it’s hot!”, “Don’t climb so far up!”, “Look both ways before crossing the street.” Even as they grow older, you’re still there letting them know that there are still dangers to beware of and to avoid – how to drive a car safely, what to look out for when they go away to college – you still think that their safety is your responsibility.  

     So what now? That responsibility of keeping him safe is now completely out of my hands. He won’t be here, I won’t be able to help him through the hard times, the rough times, and the dangerous times. He is a young man now and with that he has made his life decision. Eventually, we as mothers, do have to give up that motherly control. The one thing that I can be certain of is that my God, his God, will still be there as He has been all of his life. No matter where he is stationed, our Savior will be looking after him. I know that I will have to remind myself daily of this fact. I have to remember that he is and was always a gift from God and I have to remember that God put him on this earth for a reason and a purpose. Now is the time for my son to find out what that purpose is.

     I am praying daily for my son and I ask that you too, may pray for my son, once in a while. The Preacher and I, we thank you in advance for all of your prayers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

in memory of a four-legged family member - Max

Max and his boy the first night he joined our family
In the year 2001, the preacher and I decided it was time to add a dog to our family of 3. Our son had turned 6 that year and we thought he was old enough to help take care of a pet. Our son was so excited to learn of our decision!

The preacher began to search online for a full blooded Labrador Retriever. Our son informed us that his dog was to have yellow hair like his. We already knew what his name would be -- months before our son saw a TJ Maxx sign and asked what it said, after I told him he proclaimed, "Max, that will be my dog's name!" So, with a name and a coat color we began searching. After several weeks, and several interviews with breeders, we found our dog - Max!

Max was born in June of 2001, in Tennessee. The preacher's mother, who lived in Indiana, traveled to Tennessee, picked up Max and then drove down to where we lived, at the time, in Florida. She got to our house around 10:00 at night. We woke up our son to meet his new dog.

Max was the cutest pup I have ever seen. Right away our son and his dog bonded. Max always wanted to be where his boy, our son, was.

Max never tired of our son playing with him. They swam together, took hikes together, they went on vacations together, rode in the car together, and slept in the same room together. Max was the best friend any little boy could have ever wanted.

Max never growled or bit our son or anyone else. He didn't know a stranger. But, I do believe that if anyone tried to hurt either our son or the preacher and I, Max would have protected us in anyway he could. 

Max and his boy grew older, but Max was always there for our son. Our son went off to college and Max knew when it was time for him to come home. He would sit looking out the front door, waiting, watching, even when you couldn't see our son's car coming down the road. But soon, within minutes, here would come our son up over the hill. Max knew.

Within the last 6 months, or so, Max' health had begun to go down hill. Several times he would not feel good and would not eat. His hips were beginning to show signs of arthritis and it was so hard for him to get up and down. He seemed to always bounce back, but you knew he wasn't back to normal. He didn't move around very much and spent most of the time sleeping.

Then on Thursday, June 26, our son came into our bedroom, woke us up early, telling us he thought Max was dying. We found him lying on the living room rug, where he always laid. He was laboring so hard to breath. We surrounded him, our son sitting next to him, petting him. He passed away not long after. He passed so peaceful. There was no vet giving him a lethal dose, just his family, just the way it should be.

The house is now quiet. It feels so weird to not see him at our bedroom door in the mornings, waiting there for his mom to be feed him breakfast. Our son, is now in the stages of moving on to his next phase of his life, and so maybe Max knew it was time to go.  There has been many tears cried for the loss of our dog (even as I write this the tears are flowing down my cheeks).

I completely believe Max is in heaven now waiting for us to join him someday. He is there with the preacher's mom and dad, and with my dad. I'm sure he is running, swimming and enjoying life in our Father's house. Maybe, sometimes, he looks out the window to see if we're coming yet. When he sees we're not there, he goes back to running, and playing catch, but he knows we'll be there someday.

Max, we love you! Thank you for filling our lives with your love!

Max Smith
June 2001 - June 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why Does A Song Get Stuck In My Head?

(Photo courtesy of Google Images)
On a Sunday afternoon, I realized that I had the bridge of the song, "Hello My Name Is", stuck in my head- 

"What love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called His children
I am the child of the One True King"

We sang that song in our worship set at church that day.  The preacher and I were traveling to Moab, UT, for a short little vacation and we had the radio on but this song was still rolling over and over in my mind.

After a Sunday worship service, do you go home and a song from the worship set is now stuck in your head? Or do you listen to a Christian radio station on your way to work and as the day goes on, you realize that you can't get one of the songs out of your head? After you have sang the song over and over and over and over, do you begin to get a little annoyed?

Juan Rios, our Worship Minister, was giving a little devotion during a Sunday worship set and he asked this question -- "Do you worship the Lord during the week with songs?" I immediately thought of my answer - YES! I listen to Christian radio, I sing along with the songs, not for the sake of hearing my own voice, but because I love the praise that is in those songs.

I began to think, then, that maybe, just maybe, when I get a praise song stuck in my head and it just won't seem to leave, that this is the Spirit, who is in me, praising the Father. Maybe I should just go with it, sing the song out loud, pay very close attention to the words that are repeating in my mind. There may be something there that the Spirit is trying to show me, to speak to me.

The Father speaks to us in so many different ways, and I believe that He especially speaks to us through the music that has been written to glorify Him.  So the next time a worship song is stuck inside your head, don't fight it, praise your Father through that song!

P.S. If you do not currently listen to any Christian radio stations but would like to, here are my recommendations: K-Love, Way-Fm, and if you have Siriusxm, The Message. These are my favorite. Also, if you have the iHeartRadio app you can build your own station around the artist or praise songs that you enjoy. To find out more about these stations don't hesitate to go on their websites.