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We’re celebrating a birthday today. Nils is eighteen, and yes, this is the official age of adulthood in 47 states, including ours. We discussed this over lunch at Applebee’s, and I Googled it later, acquiring a very interesting assortment of facts on the topic. Wikipedia says this: It is the moment when minors cease to be considered children and assume legal control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thus terminating the control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over them. My online source went on to point out that the age does not necessarily correspond to the mental or physical maturity of an individual. Point taken.

(There’s also a distinction between age of adulthood and age of license. The latter can come earlier or later, which is why a minor can drive, but a just-turned adult cannot rent a car. Just saying.)

So Nils. You are THAT. (Unedited by Dad.) An official adult. You can marry, buy a house, and work fulltime. And probably most exciting of all, in just eight short days you can vote! (LOL) You can also clean your own room, do your own laundry, and throw away trash. (It says that, right there in Wikipedia, too. Look it up:)

But for real. Nils, you’re becoming a man – and it’s more than a birthday. You. My baby for most of your life. Smaller in stature, but never in heart. Of all of my boys you’ve been most independent in all the right ways. On top of your game and a baller at life.

Interesting. Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of conversation about being “adult.” At church and online, everyone is talking about the interesting dynamics in our current day’s culture about what it means to grow up. There’s even a new word – adulting. (My spellcheck doesn’t like it, but it’s legit in Google.) It refers to the season between the official age and the actual behavior. And there’s all kinds of research about how long this is taking and why.

All this to say – Nils, I know you’ll be ready. I’m not at all worried. You’ve been doing your own sort of adulting for quite some time. But the flipside is this. Don’t be in a hurry. Really. You are a joy and pleasure to your dad and me, and you’re welcome to do your adulting here at home for a while.

Earlier today our family of boys-turning-men sat around a table for a birthday celebration. Laughing and talking and enjoying each other. Sharing our stories. Discussing life. And there at the table I had this memory. Just about two years ago with five of us gathered for somebody’s birthday. It might have been mine. There was rich conversation and genuine humor. I remember thinking how much I enjoyed being mom of young men. But I also knew life was radically changing. An adoption and wedding and everything different. And I remember wondering – would this happen again?

It did. Today. Today was special. A great celebration with all my young men. Thanks, Nils, for turning 18.




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(Minneapolis skyline taken by Kiana during Felipe’s senior photo shoot.)

We’ll be all over the map this month. October, the month we usually settle down, but this year we’re on the go and still going. Last weekend a wedding in Illinois. This week college tours in Iowa. Yes, Iowa – the one state Nils was adamant he’d avoid, and here we are, seriously considering. It could be that place where all roads lead. Luke also mentioned a seminary there.

Kyle flies out to Denver today to get his car. It’s been over a month since he hit the elk, or the elk hit him, depending on how you look at it. Kyle’s newish car wrecked beyond driving home, but not totaled, and now ready for the road trip back. If our prayers are answered he’ll be home tomorrow, just in time for me to take my turn on Tuesday. Flying to California for a church conference.

There’s no way we could have done this a half-year ago. It would have upset the apple cart and then some. The coming and going on top of our existing chaos would have been our undoing. So this family resilience in our current season can only be described as a MIRACLE and worth celebration. Not one meltdown or dark mood so far. Teenage boys could even fend for themselves and a DOG for an entire weekend. (Granted there were gift cards for Chipotle and Chinese left behind.)

Yesterday as we drove north on I-35 the subject of travel came up. Mom, where would you go if you could go anywhere? Jimmy’s asking. Well, probably not Iowa. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a family vacation to France. I said it casually and waited for his reaction. He mentioned a particular city. Maybe there? Yes, the south of France to see your brother. The one who looks just like you. France would be a dream come true.

 So maybe.

“We’ll see how this unfolds.” It’s a wise expression I learned from a pastor, and it’s one we used with Nils this weekend. Sitting at Jimmy Johns after college visits, and you could see the boy stressing over big decisions needing to be made. Not today, and not tomorrow. There’s time to let God do his leading. We can trust Him.

Felipe is also a senior, and his college visits are next on our schedule, just as soon I get back from California. There’s a school in Minneapolis he’s considering, one we could see from the freeway coming and going this week. He’s still leaning toward science, and this particular school could help with his English. So we’ll see.

And Felipe, too, has plans to travel. Back to Colombia as a graduation gift next summer. It’s the one thing he’s wanted since the day he stepped foot on American soil. Not to stay, just to visit. To see friends and fill up on his favorite foods. He’s counting the days.

I’m counting days, too. And it’s crazy. Two more boys will turn eighteen before the year’s end. All this coming and going is bound to keep life exciting for a good long while.



(Note: the photo shown here is NOT from the game mentioned in the post, but is – admittedly – a lame substitute.)

“Jimmy Anderson scored the winning goal in last night’s game!!!”

Jimmy came into my room first thing this morning suggesting I start today’s post this way. He’s still pretty fired up about his header in last night’s section play-in. A sweet start to the post-season for sure.

The boy also said I should mention the Psalm he read, at my suggestion. Yesterday morning when he stopped by my room to check things out in my full-length mirror. I happened to be in my favorite psalm, and I said to Jimmy – It’s a good one. You should read it. Psalm 18. (If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve urged my readers to discover it, too.) So this morning my heart skips a beat when he tells me he read it. Because this Psalm is the PICTURE of the thing I most long for – and I want my sons to understand.

Goodness. I wrote a whole book about it several years back, when I had three boys at impressionable ages and I was desperate wanting them to know the story. The Covenant Story. It’s this amazing true saga of a Covenant God who fights hard for His people, always faithful, never quitting. His fierce and furious steadfast love. It’s a story about taking oaths and spilling blood; promises made and promises broken. And this God fights to the death for the people He loves.

So this past summer I pulled out the story in its three-ring binder and I read it again with neighbors. They loved it, like I do. And by summer’s end this God-dream was taking shape. It’s not the first time, but this time was different. You should publish this book. Yes, I know. He gave it to me so I could share it. And I’m all in – except I don’t know where to begin. So I pray, God I trust you. This prayer I’ve prayed sincerely a thousand times.

Just this week riding somewhere in the car I thought it again. I wish the book was finished. For Felipe and Jimmy. I wish they could read the story and see the pictures and know this God who FIGHTS for them.

If it was just for me – for my own glory – I’d let it rest. Truth be told, it might not be worth it. All the stress and struggle just to get my name in print. But this story’s not mine, it’s HIS. A half dozen or so years ago when I was writing it down, every day sitting there at my keyboard while He’d give me the words. And I knew it was Him. Not me.

God, I trust you. This is the crux of the Covenant Story. He does for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

So last night Jimmy scores the game-winning goal. And this morning he wakes up early with two things on his mind. A win. And a Psalm. And the way he says it I think maybe he gets it. This God who fights is fighting for him.





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Wednesday morning I sat with the other moms in the parenting study, and we heard Michelle Anthony say this. Pray for your children, that they will know and discern the voice of the Spirit above all the other voices competing for their attention. And then that same night I sat around a table packed in tight with high school girls. We talked about it, too. Do you know the Holy Spirit? There was a bit of confusion.

Thursday morning I met Angie for coffee. Without my prompting she brought it up first. How she’d been with friends discussing “the voice of the Spirit” – like it was a taboo topic. A bit spooky. Weird.

And both Angie and I sit there surprised. It’s been the topic of our own conversations for over six years. Over Caribou Coffee we’ve talked nonstop about the Spirit’s leading – His quiet whispers – the ways He interrupts our lives.

Hardly missing a beat Angie spots my book on the table. What are you reading? I flip it over and she says it’s one she’s read, too. Jen Hatmaker’s Life Interrupted. And this author, too, knows the voice of the Spirit, turning her own world upside down.

Immediately I jump into a story. Remember how Hatmaker was reading the end of John’s gospel, where Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep?[1] It’s the passage God used to rock Jen’s world, when she discerns the Spirit saying loud and clear. THEY NEED TO BE FED. And Jen knows God is telling her about the starving masses, the poor of this world, and how they need FOOD to stay alive.

I had a similar experience – the same but different. I tell Angie my story, one she’s heard before. I was on a retreat, just the Spirit and me and the Word. It was Matthew’s gospel He used that weekend. The Sheep and the Goats.  Jesus is telling His listeners to give food and drink and clothes to the poor. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.[2] And I actually FOUGHT with the Spirit over what He told me. I’m going to use you to feed SOULS.

Do you see what He does? I’m talking fast and my whisper grows louder. Angie’s grinning and shaking her head. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is just like the Spirit.

I can’t help but think about my seminary professor, and how he’d call this way of thinking “re-authoring scripture.” NOT what the author originally intended. (But the intent of the Spirit, no less.)

Last Sunday, too, I stood in front of students. Close to a hundred packed in around tables to study the Word. When you read God’s Word you’ll hear His VOICE. While I cheer them on with my lively counsel my own heart aches just a bit inside. These kids hear SO MANY voices. Through media and hype and peer persuasion. And for many these voices are deafening – the Spirit and the Word silent. Nothing.

I understand noise. I do, believe me. Even in a church there are competing voices, and daily I set my ears to listen hard. God, what are you saying through the voice of your Spirit?

Those girls around the table are high school seniors, and at home I have two of my own. Kids on the brink of becoming adults, setting a course for the years ahead. Our children need to know the voice of the Spirit. If they don’t hear His voice, there’ll be hundreds of others to follow, not His.

Do you know the Holy Spirit? I ask it again.

His voice is counsel. His voice is conviction. He KNOWS you. He LOVES you. He won’t lead you astray.

I am grateful, and I say this as humble confession. My own young adult boys, they KNOW how to listen. Do you know the Spirit? My question is NOT confusing or strange or foreign to them. We’ve had this discussion a hundred times.

I’m on my knees praying. For the kids in my home and the ones at my church. Oh please, God. Lead the next generation through your Word and your Spirit. Get their attention. They need YOU to be the loudest voice in their lives.

I trust you, Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] John 21:15-17

[2] Matthew 25:40