Saturday, May 11, 2013

What I Really Want for Mother's Day

I need to state up front that the idea for this blog post wasn't mine. I saw a blog post similar to this and thought it was such a good idea that I stole it and made it my own. The specifics are all mine.
My beloved children:

Let me save you the trouble of rushing out for a last-minute card and flowers. I hate to say it, but that has never really done it for me. The card is overpriced and the flowers are dead in a couple of days.
What I really want for mother's day doesn't need to cost you one red cent.

I want you to love God. I want you to obey his word and seek him with your whole heart. I want to catch you reading your bible or praying. Nothing else in life will make sense until you get this first one figured out.
I want you to honor your parents. Not because we are such wonderful people - we aren't. But because God promises "you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." This is the only command that contains a promise, so God must have known he would need to bribe you to obey it.

I want you to be kind to one another. Someday, when your father and I are gone, you will mean more to each other than you can know. Please don't let some thoughtless impulse or silly grudge put a wedge in the fact that you are family. Hold one another up in the hard times, and celebrate together in the good times. Plan time together, even if it isn't convenient.
I want you to be kind to others. Be helpful. Speak encouraging words. Avoid being critical and negative.

I want you to be known for your integrity. Be honest. Let all the words you speak be true; but all that is true does not need to be said.  Don't embellish the facts for your own gain. If you make a promise, keep it.
I want you to seek ways to serve others. See something that needs to be done and do it - without being asked. Study those you love and serve them in ways that are meaningful to them -  rather than in ways  you would like to be served. Take a meal to someone who is ill. Mow lawn for a busy single mom. Go on a mission trip.

I want you to work hard at whatever you do. Avoid the temptation to slide by. Let it never be said of you that you are lazy. Be content in your work, whether you enjoy it or not. As long as you have hands that can grasp, legs that can stand, a sound mine, and food on the table you are blessed.

I want you to be financially responsible. No matter how much you earn, create a budget and stick to it. Save a little out of every paycheck. Don't borrow money you can't pay back. Avoid credit cards unless you can pay the balance entirely every month. Give cheerfully.
I want you to take care of your body. It is the only one you get. Eat healthy food. Exercise regularly. Don't smoke - ever. This is one that most people learn far too late, so start now and never get complacent.

I want you to never stop growing and learning. Seek to improve yourself continually. Read. Take a class. Cultivate your talents.
I want you to be all that God intended you to be. Push yourself to be your best. Remove anything that stands as an obstacle between you and your potential. Ask for advice - and take it. Don't ever believe the lie that it is too late.

Just in case you are still looking for that perfect Mother's Day gift, here are a few more selfish requests:

I want a clean house. I've had this on my list every Christmas, Birthday and Mother's Day for years, and it will remain on my list until Molly Maids is hired or a loving gang of able-bodied people descends upon it and gets it done. And don't forget the windows.
I love picnics. Even those that take place on the living room floor.

I love breakfast in bed, but not a full 7 course meal. A cup of coffee and my breakfast shake would be fine.
I love any dinner that I don't have to cook. It's even better if it's relatively healthy.

I'd love to sleep in.
I love photos. Of you.

But most of all, I love spending enjoyable time with you.
You. Just you. That's all I want for Mother's Day.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Political Rant

I'm pretty selective about what I put into cyberspace via social media like Facebook, Twitter, and this blog. I especially tend to avoid sharing my opinions on social and political topics. It's not that I don't have opinions, it's just that I don't think anyone really wants to hear them. And frankly, I'm usually too preoccupied with the everyday details of my own life that I don't have a lot of leftover mental energy to devote to the controversial topics of our day.

Nonetheless, I am interested in being somewhat informed, and I do read a lot. I have read many very thoughtful and well written articles by people much smarter than me on topics that tend to have a polarizing effect. And I've read a lot of crap written by those who are only interested in hearing themselves talk. I understand why people are drawn to issues that seem to have only two sides - it's much easier to think in terms of black or white, right or wrong, legal or illegal. The grey areas are far more complex and require more thought, listening, and compromise. In graduate school one of my ethics professors used the term "binary trap" for the mental state of either/or. She would say, "If you think there are only two options, you're wrong. Think harder."

This week, in the midst of a great tragedy, I have once again heard some heated debates about how the situation in Boston should or should not have been handled. It seems that high profile news stories like this put a spotlight on every hot controversy, and rattle the ire of every person who has ever had a gripe of any kind. And the really irritating thing is I find myself getting angry at all the anger!

So I'm going to allow myself this one political rant. I apologize in advance if I offend anyone. Unless, of course, you happen to live in the same house as me. In that case, so be it.

I don't in any way mean to suggest that issues like abortion, gay marriage, legalized marijuana, universal health care, or whether to declare marshall law in order to apprehend two bombers in Boston are not important issues. They are. These issues deserve careful and thoughtful dialogue by the best minds. These issues call for passion and courage and grounding. They also require compassion and listening and mercy. And prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. I believe (and this is the rant part) that everyone should hold their tongue and duct tape their lips shut until they have prayed for at least as long as they intend to spend voicing their opinion.

Where do I get such a crazy idea? From scripture. The apostle Paul saw this tendency toward polarization in the first century church. He warned them:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 1Tim 2:1-4,8.
You see, I'm pretty sure that angry controversies are rooted in an inaccurate view of who God is, and who we are in relation to him. The God of the universe is so far bigger and stronger and in control than we give him credit for. Our petty arguments and seemingly important concerns serve to enlarge our view of ourselves and make God seem small and weak. And when that happens, the enemy gloats.

The best illustration of this principle I've seen recently is a talk given by Pastor Louie Giglio. You might recall that Pastor Giglio was invited to deliver the invocation at the presidential inaguration, but was uninvited when a crafty reporter dug up an old interview in which Pastor Giglio had voiced concerns about the gay agenda. So Pastor Giglio is no stranger to controversy. But he has also learned that these "big" issues are small when compared to our BIG God. I promise this 7 minutes will be worth your time.

I hope this has given a little perspective to whatever issue puts a bee in your bonnet.

End of rant.

P.S. If you'd like to see Pastor Giglio's entire 40 minute talk, you can find it here:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Beginnings

An old friend (well, she's not old, but we've known each other a long time) asked me whether I had stopped keeping my blog. I knew I hadn't been here in a while, but holy smokes, not since July of 2012?! It can't possibly be that long!

I don't know where to start. Life careens by at such a ridiculous pace that 9 months ago seems like only yesterday, but again seems like a lifetime. It's difficult to wax eloquent about a period of time during which life has fundamentally changed. So I won't even try. I'll let the photos tell the story. And then I'll see if I can begin again. After all, there are always things to talk about...


And then everything came to a screeching halt.

December 31, 2012. New Year's Eve will never be the same. Yet out of the ashes arises hope eternal. New beginnings. Life does go on.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Update from Fort Leonard Wood

It's been almost a month since David graduated from Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, CA and moved to Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He is training to be a Engineering Equipment Operator (MOS 1345 for those of you who know Marine-speak.) The good news is he has rejoined the world of cell phones and Internet, so we are able to keep in touch without getting writer's cramp or licking stamps. However, Fort Leonard Wood is in the heart of the Ozarks where it is hot, buggy, and it appears that wi-fi is non-existent. Hannah and I took a trip down to see him. Just a bit of advice: Ignore Mapquest if you want to make the trip. It directs you onto roads like this.
We had better luck using a good old paper map on the way home. The other thing that put a damper on the visit was this.

You could have fried an egg on the hood of the car! It was brutal! The base (which was beautiful, by the way) looked almost abandoned as everyone stayed indoors to escape the heat. As David squared away his room on Saturday, Hannah and I kept cool in the museum, which is definitely worth visiting.

From David's perspective, Fort Leonard Wood is a bit of a let down. He has more down time now, and less to do with it than he had on the beaches of the Pacific ocean. FLW is remote. There are a few things to do on base, but the closest town, St. Robert, doesn't offer much other than a few restaurants, a bunch of hotels, and a Walmart. It's a joke among the soldiers that the most exciting things around are the strip clubs, tatoo parlors, and Walmart. Thankfully, David has only been to one of those three! No tatoos yet (that I know of!)

Training is hot, dirty, and boring. Hurry up and wait is another Marine mantra, and there is lots of waiting. Waiting for training to begin, waiting his turn to drive the machine of the week, sitting in classroom sessions. Coming out of boot camp and MCT where it was non-stop action 24/7, it's hard to make the adjustment. David was glad to have his Playstation3 to help with the downtime. It's easy to see how some of these young men could get into trouble without the structure they had in boot camp, and many get a bit depressed.

On the positive side, there are only seven guys in David's MOS class. That means lots of attention by the instructors (which can be a bad thing if one happens to be a former drill instructor!) and more practice time than usual. If it weren't so blasted hot, David says he would love driving the big rigs.

So keep this young Marine in your prayers. He will graduate on September 7. After that he will be assigned to his permanent duty station. He has requested to go back to the west coast, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Boot Camp Graduation, Leave, and Back Again

I've been procrastinating on writing this post. A blog post is not supposed to be a dissertation or lengthy exposé. I've read some of those, and they are usually only interesting to the author. So in the words of Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride - 1987),

Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Al and I traveled to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego for David's graduation from boot camp on May 11. We stayed at Depot Billeting (temporary housing that they open to families during graduation weeks.) I would highly recommend it, not because of the posh accomodations (they aren't) but because we experienced so much more than we could have otherwise. We caught our first glimpse of Bravo Company on Wednesday evening. Just knowing that David was somewhere in the midst of that 300+ strong group of men was exciting. We were almost the only civilians wandering around the base and were able to get some great photos without the throngs of people who arrived on Thursday.

Thursday was Family Day. It began with the traditional Motivational Run (a.k.a. Moto Run.) The new Marines ran 4 miles in perfect cadence while family and friends lined the parade deck and cheered them on. It was our first glimpse of David. He looked serious and strong. Later that morning the company was dismissed for 6 precious hours of on-base liberty, during which we spent some of the most enjoyable hours of my entire life with our new Marine. We heard boot camp stories, went shopping at the PX, ate lunch AND dinner (man, that boy can eat!), spent an hour or so in our room while he made phone calls to friends and siblings, and toured the base. As we watched him walk back to his barracks for the last night of boot camp, we knew that our little boy had turned into a man.

Graduation Day was non-stop pomp and circumstance. Three months of drill practice displayed itself in perfect precision as Platoon 1029 led the company onto the Parade Deck. The MCRD Marine Corps Marching Band provided the perfect patriotic atmosphere.

There are simply no words for the emotions. Pride, yes, but inching very close to Awe. Intense patriotism. Gratitude - for the Drill Instructors who performed near miracles in the lives of these young recruits, and to God for guarding their safety. Humility - in witnessing such tradition and symbolism we became somberly aware that the Marine Corps is something far bigger than the sum of the soldiers that comprise it. Camaraderie - we were welcomed over and over into the Marine Family - and we felt it.Other parents and spouses became instant friends.

There are rare days in the course of life that are so perfect they make all of the other ordinary, mundane, and even miserable days worth it. These were two such days. And then we took Pvt. David J Miedema home for 10 days of well-deserved leave.
Someday, when you see David, ask him to tell you about:
  • 3 a.m. firewatch
  • Packing into the 'rain room' in their tighty whities
  • Sick bay
  • Getting IT'd
  • The correct posture for eating
  • Countdowns
  • Being 'fired' from managing the 'whisky closet'
  • Climbing the Reaper
  • 60 second showers
  • The gas chamber
  • Shirt stays
  • A trip to the hospital after completing the Crucible (fortunately, no body parts were lost)
I'm sure those are the mom-friendly stories, but they were enough for me to know that boot camp is a life-changing experience and that it is absolutely true that every Marine remembers the names of his Drill Instructors to his dying day.

David is back at Camp Pendleton California for Marine Combat Training. He will be there until June 19, when he will go to his assigned Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he will be trained to be an Engineer Equipment Operator.

There is much more to tell, but I will let the photos do the talking.

Platoon 1029 practicing drill

Family Day - Moto Run

Liberty Formation

Sgt. Ric Jackson

Back to the barracks for the last time.

Graduation formation.

Sea bags at the ready
Pvt. David J. Miedema, USMC

Thursday, May 03, 2012


I just received word that David has completed the 56 hour long Crucible, and is now officially a United States Marine. Ooh-Rah!

In case you were wondering about the strange battle cry that is one of many words I have learned since becoming a Marine mom, I thing this definition sums it up well:
Ooh-rah comes from the places in our hearts that only Marines understand. It is conceived in sweat, nurtured with drill. It is raw determination and gut-wrenching courage in the face of adversity. It is a concern for fellow Marines embodied by selfless acts of heroism. It cannot be administrated. It is not planned and put into action. It cannot be manufactured. Ooh-rah must be purchased. Ooh-rah is Marine.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Where's David?

Do you remember the books titled "Where's Waldo?" It always took me half the day to find Waldo in those pictures. Well, it took me about as long to find David in this video. See if you can find him. I watched this video 4 times and couldn't find him. I was convinced that they had mislabeled the videos. Finally, I asked Al to watch it. He spotted David right away. What kind of pathetic mother am I? In an attempt to reassure myself that I had not forgotten my own flesh and blood, I asked Hannah to find him. Yep, she spotted him instantly. She said the ears were a dead giveaway.

In case you're not sure, David is at 39 seconds, or 3rd row down, 5th from the left. Don't they all look like they are about 12 years old?