March 13, 2015

friday letters...

Dear Week Before Spring Break,
Why do you always drag?  I know the time change was not really your fault, but it sure didn't help the momentum of this week. We are tired. And last night when Laura said something about Wednesday? I al. most. croaked. Seriously. I asked is it only Wednesday?! Thankfully, she laughed and confirmed that is was, indeed, Thursday. Thank you, Lord. And now it is Friday... at last. Since it was a early release day, Cam is already home and starting off the break playing card games on the lanai with friends. Their voices sound happy... of course... since they don't have to go back to school until Tuesday the 24th. Amen.

Dear Spring Break,
We have been waiting for you, willing you to be here... and now you are. Beautiful breezes, sunshine in the sky, and no school projects looming over us. Your possibilities are endless! In less than a week some of us will be heading up to the cold temps to look at one more school...

Dear Amy,
We'll be there SOON! I can hardly believe we'll be together for your birthday! It just makes me feel giddy inside! Best friends should be together for celebrations. Thank you for having the grand idea of a college visit road trip!  I know that ever since I posted this picture... have been worried that our four hour drive to Iowa will take eight hours, but I am sure we can cut it down to seven. This has been my year of literal u-turns, which, I think are better than slamming on the breaks and making a quick turn in front of on-coming traffic! I know it is goofy, but I do love the sights along the side of the road.

Dear Camden,
We are close to having all of the information. I am hoping that once we return form Iowa, we'll have ll the paperwork we need for you to make a final college decision. We are so proud of all you have accomplished- your acceptances and scholarships are beyond our wildest imagination. I am counting my blessings that you are seeing all of your hard work pay off!

Dear Guest Book,
It took me a few weeks, but I finally sat down and turned your pages. You hold such treasure. I think we chose your format just-right... photos he'll love for years, and space for friends & family to wish him well. You know how I love the loops and swirls of penmanship! These are some of my favorites...

Dear Laura,
Thank you for the fun on the way home from work yesterday. I wish those floral arrangements really were magic! False advertising does not make me happy! But that is okay because who needs happy when you can be filled with joy and laughter over trying to get the voice command on my camera to work! None of our shots came out good, but maybe we'll try again next time- at least it was FUN!

Dear County Fair,
Thank you for having the band play at your ribbon cutting last night! It was a great opportunity for them, and for me, too. It was just fun, and I could stand close, take pictures and even record a few seconds of my favorite bass drummer. We also had a chance to have a couple of quick visits with the husbands of two dear friends who now live in heaven. Thank you, God, for caring for them and bringing joy into their lives even though their hearts have been broken. Even though we headed home before dark, you still dazzled us with your lights... I just can't not smile at the rows and rows of spinning colorful light! These few hours were just enough for this year.

I hope your weekend is fantastical!


March 12, 2015

the weekend in the woods...

A little bit of bittersweet swirled down the drain with the last of the campfire scent.
I was, at last, clean...but I loved our weekend in the woods.
: :
We arrived while the sun was still shining... and the oak draped with Spanish moss and air plants welcomed us, along with a little patch of golden light. The camp site was beautiful. The perfect place to spend a weekend with friends, just enjoying life.

Once we set up our new tent, we realized it seemed smaller in the great outdoors than when Eric popped it up in our living room. It isn't small at all, but Camden decided he would go ahead and set up his own tent alongside ours. I had never seen it assembled... and I loved watching him snap all the pieces together, knowing just what the next step would be. Before he adjusted the fly, he slid two strands of camping lights from his backpack and wound them around the tent poles.  I made him sit inside and wave to me when he was finished. I was amazed by him and a little sad that I hadn't seen it until now...

Our friends arrived after dark and we quickly helped get them moved in. Eric cooked dinner while John started the fire, and before long we were settled in to simply relax.

The laughter around the fire comes in all shapes and sizes. Nervous laughter when you hear an approaching raccoon, or the great guffaw as he races off with a whole sleeve of plastic cups. There is the out-and-out funny, the laugh-til-you-cry, and the kind that bubbles from inside out, with jokes years in the making. And always that why-does-the-smoke-keep-following-me-no-matter-where-I-sit laughter!

Saturday we set out to explore... we kayaked the river, we hiked the trails. We love visiting somewhere new because there is a fresh adventure around every turn.

My favorite part was the trees. The branches reached out and up and around the bend. Limbs were covered with Resurrection fern, brown and craggy. I wished it was green and lush, but was thankful to imagine the beauty in my mind and know that when the rains come it will be again.

We gathered again by the fire... feet up, eyes sliding closed until the laughter comes around again. As night comes, the kids huddle around the lantern and play a few games of Clue, and Eric starts the coals that will cook our dinner in deep cast iron pots. The guys walk down the path to chat with the Boy Scouts camping nearby just before dinner... and after, we play a few hands of Rummy. After round two of the campfire, we straggle into tents, tired from the good, good day.  

It is never easy to leave this place where the breathing, and the living, is easy. 


March 11, 2015

on the edge...

We camped this past weekend... and it was so nice to spend time doing nothing the some of the people I love best. As we hiked along the shoreline, Camden stopped to look out through the trees and I noticed that the toes of his boots were just beyond the drop off. He likes to reach out for the boundaries, test the edge. I feel a catch in my throat... thinking this is probably the last time we'll camp before he heads off to his next adventure.  He is poised, and ready, for flight.


February 26, 2015

the ceremony...

As soon as the pianist played the introduction I knew I was done for. Why, why, had I thought it was a good idea for Laura to sing on Camden's big day?  As her voice sang And He will raise you up on eagle's wings the salty tears rolled and I had to gain control.  Two beautiful happenings for both of my kids?  It was overwhelming for this mother's heart.  But by the time she finished {beautifully} singing Cam's favorite hymn, I had regrouped and was smiling again.

Camden was escorted to the front by his troop-mates and fellow Eagle Scouts, and I could sit back and enjoy.  Even though we had written the ceremony and read {and re-read!} it several times, to hear our friends actually speak the words was so meaningful.

Earning the Eagle Scout Award represents another step forward by the Scout toward the BSA’s goals of developing citizenship, of imparting character development and enhancing personal fitness, and the achievement of Eagle Scout is indeed the highest honor that a Scout may achieve.

Of any 100 boys who become Scouts, it must be confessed that 30 will drop out in their first year... Each of the 100 will learn something from Scouting. Almost all will develop hobbies that will add interest throughout the rest of their lives... Four of the 100 will reach the rank of Eagle, and at least one will later say that he values his Eagle badge above his college degree.

He stood tall when taking his Eagle Oath, being reminded of the promises he had made in scouting before, and accepting the new challenge and promise before him.  

The important thing to remember—and this applies to all of us—is that we shouldn’t forget the promises we’ve made before just because we’re making a new promise now. It’s still important to do our best, to help other people, and give goodwill, to be prepared, and to do a good turn daily.

And then came the moment when Eric and I joined Camden, and he received his actual Eagle Award. I love that Boy Scouts honors the parent's {especially the mother's} involvement along the trail to success... and I was truly honored to pin Camden's award above his heart.  I may have teared up during this moment, but instead, my hand let the pin backs tumble to the carpet... grace.

I enjoyed the ceremony so much.  It all came together as we planned, and moved right along.  A representative from the Marine Corps League presented Cam with a good citizen award and a beautiful challenge coin.  George, the amazing volunteer from CREW (where Cam's project took place) read a letter singing Cam's praises and presented him with a certificate. Camden had a turn to speak, too.  He thanked everyone for coming, and he presented the Eagle Scout Mentor pin to George. At this point I realized that oh no! Just as I was having the time of my life, I was up next!

I had spent weeks playing with the words in my head and heart, knowing that I wanted to express how significant this event was to Camden and to us, but the words would come and go.  I must have six documents started on my computer. I cut and pasted from one to another, deleted this, and added something completely different. Saturday night, as we were gathered around the table, so ready for bed, I finally hit print.

I stood at the lectern with Camden beside me, and Eric just behind me.  I took a deep breath, and then another. I could hardly begin.  One more breath. My voice wavered, but I shared how I wondered if Cam had been born with a patriotic soul, or if it had been born in him with the events of 9/11.  I wanted our friends and family to know that while Eric's deployments took him away from us, and Camden's scouting, that it also gave me a gift I cherished- being a Cub Scout Mom.  I wouldn't trade those years for the world. Scouting was, at times, our whole life... and we loved it. I shared how Camden likes to hold the door, and our guests laughed, as I hoped, when I went on to say for the whole marching band.  There is a kindness about him that sets him apart, and I love how he loves to be different, not to stand out, but to stand up for what he believes. I had already noticed my Mom was a mess of tears in the front row... but I had to go on and share how our parents have always been our cheerleaders- for our kids, too.  And that they had created a legacy of service in our family. I almost did not make it through that part... but I knew I was almost done!

I think my saving grace was knowing that I didn't have to wind up all my words into a WOW ending... because we had been keeping a secret from Camden that was all the WOW we needed.  We had asked the Jesus Painter for a congratulations letter for Camden, because meeting him and watching his art come alive was Camden's favorite part of the National Youth Gathering we attended in 2013.  He ended up sending more than a letter though...

On the back of the canvas he had written Congrats Camden!!! You've proven your self a hard working dedicated person. Use that to honor God and serve others.   Camden is so humbled and honored to have received this work of art as a gift.

I was happy to finally sit back down, breathe, and enjoy the last bits of the ceremony.  Our pastor spoke about Camden before he closed with a prayer... and then just like that, it was over.  People flooded up to Camden, hugging and congratulating him.  With every hug, we thanked our friends for coming... and they shared how honored they were to attend, and also that I made them cry.  Suzanne laughed and told me how she could. not. make eye contact with Eric while I was speaking, because he was on the verge of tears.  I laughed, too... because I had no idea. I thought my Mom was the only one crying...

It was a beautiful day.
We had planned on celebrating Camden, but in the end, we felt just as celebrated. I will count this day, in fact the whole weekend, as one of my most treasured memories.