Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Becoming a Heroic Tender Warrior

*Just a heads up: this is a very long post... but I have lots to say...

**The pictures in this post are in no particular order and they don't necessarily go with the script... but they're all expressive of the man Zeke is and is becoming.

Dear Ezekiel,

Twelve years isn't that long.  I still remember the dimmed lighting and hushed voices in that sanctuary of a delivery room.  The nurse who whispered to "remain calm," to, "remember to breathe," as she leaned in so close she could have kissed my cheek.

The surprise and delight that washed over me when they announced, "A boy!  Another boy!"  I remember how excited I felt as I thought, How fun!  Three sons!  Another brother for my other two boys!

Ogden, Utah
Now, twelve years later, my heart is being stretched and pulled as you are growing into manhood. 

Swimming with the Stone Family, Spokane, Washington

I was thinking about you yesterday and you know who came to my mind?  Gideon.  And as I thought about this man, Gideon, I realized how you are so much like him!  Remember the part where the Lord shows up and addresses Gideon with, "The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor!" and Gideon responds, "O my lord, [can't you just hear the incredulous tone?]  if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?"  Now maybe that doesn't seem like a very respectful way to greet the Lord, but I'm thinking that Gideon must have been a pretty logical, let's-put-two-and-two-together sorta guy.   He kind of wants to know where God has been all this time.  No pretenses... says what's on his mind... he's himself.

And don't you love how after Gideon tells the Lord that um, hello, You are the one Who has forsaken us and given us over to the enemy, that God gives him responsibility, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.  Have I not sent you?"  He didn't let Gideon get stuck in past thinking.  Instead, He urges him into a God-sized dream... and future.

Then Gideon brings up his position -- his status -- in the family.  "Oh my Lord, how can I save Israel?  Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."  Hm.  Do you ever feel like that?  That maybe your the "least" with two older brothers and a younger sister? 

Yet, listen to God's response.  "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."  You see, one man and God are a majority.

And God isn't limited to the assignments He gives us based on where we fall in a line of siblings or family status!  Hallelujah for that!  Right?

The rest of the story is an adrenalin-pumping, action-thriller that leads to the nation of Israel's most lopsided victory in its history.  Seriously.

The one-liners.  Gideon's boldness, (Judges 6:39, he asks God for a second sign... but God meets him there, doesn't get angry or impatient, but simply reassures him... Don't you love how we can keep asking God questions... how He makes Himself approachable!).

Decoding a message written by Grandma Kathy

     The unconventional strategies.  

Heidelberg, Germany

The courage.

                    The growing of faith! 

It's one of those movies stories I could watch read over and over again!  (Judges 6-8 plays the whole movie, I mean, story.)  And I'm so excited to realize we've got our very own 'Gideon' living in our midst! 

Telling stories during Story Time at the Library
God saw Gideon as a mighty warrior not because of status or experience, but because He saw his potential.  Speaking of potential, I thought of someone else you remind me of...

Ogden, Utah
I can't think of anyone else in this family who would be so impetuous as to jump out of a boat in order to walk on the water to Jesus!  I mean, really, who does that!  Someone fiercely loyal, decidedly devoted, that's what I think.  I can totally picture the scene...  me grabbing at the hem of your shirt, my protective instincts kicking in, "What are you think. ing?!  Just because Jesus says, 'Come,' you jump out of the boat?  Without thinking about it first?   Sure, you took a few steps on water... {me breathing a loooong breath, trying to reign in my fear}... did you not stop to think that you could have drowned?!"

But no, your "heart-brain" is still intact. 

Oh! How I praise the Lord for that!  May it always be intact, Son!

Onstage at the Pickleville Playhouse in Bear Lake, Garden City, Utah
Sure, your impulsiveness drives people crazy at times, (okay, maybe lots of the time), but couple that Lord-if-it's-you-tell-me-to-come-to-you-on-the-water, follow-your-heart-reaction with maturity... with love... with integrity and humility... (which, by the way, God is forming ever-stronger in you)...

Favorite uncles who invested in and supported me... still investing in generations
...God is going to give you a plethora of opportunities to strengthen your faith...

Limerick, Ireland
...and who knows what Kingdom-sized assignments He has destined you for?  (Matthew 14:22-33)  And you know what else?  You are a great example to me and so many others of what it means to live with a heart that's fully alive!

A village out in the Bush, Malawi, Africa
Ezekiel, thank you for the times that you've come alongside me, Dad, your siblings, a friend... and given us encouragement, support, and grace.

Loving Shadreck at the orphanage in Malawi, Africa
You remind me of Peter in the sense that here's this extremely passionate man, heart wide open, willing to go on a big adventure...

"Thank you, Mr. Owen, for believing in me and entrusting me with Kingdom-sized responsibilities"
...longing to be loyal... to live a faith that doesn't waver... (occasionally sticks his foot in his mouth)... recklessly jumping out of boats to walk on water [really, do you know anyone else besides Simon Peter and Jesus who ever walked on water?  Yeah, me either.  Perhaps we could all use some of that reckless kind of faith!].

So Peter has an open mind and a willing heart but it's not like he has a really stellar track record when a short time later, Jesus demonstrates His famous upside-down logic of grace when Peter confesses Jesus as Christ, Son of the living God, (Matthew 16:13-19), and Jesus plants a seed of Kingdom-sized proportion inside his heart.  He says, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah... you are Peter, ['Peter' means rock in Greek]."  Rock solid.  Bold.  A leader who leads with conviction.  Able to shatter the frangible quasi-structure of religiosity.  I love how God sees who we are... but He also knows our potential and He calls us to live out God-sized dreams.

Strasbourg, France
Oh that you might keep imagining and dreaming!  That you might keep sharing your heart and asking questions.  That your heart and your sense of wonder and what-if may remain alive.  That you might seek to know God's heart, "getting out of the boat" again and again, calling out for His help, (Matthew 14:30), when you get overwhelmed and your faith wavers, when you fear what is beyond your control. 
Strasbourg, France
As you step into your twelfth year of life, my prayer for you is that your heart would be ever more alive -- surrendered to Christ as you "increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."  (Luke 2:52)  

Garmisch, Germany
I am proud of you, Ezekiel, as I watch the process of you becoming a man of integrity...

Like that last day in Malawi, Africa, when Mr. Owen assigned you classes to help teach at the elementary school at the African Bible College Campus.  How your countenance radiated joy!  Sheer, unadulterated passion!  What bliss when you said, "Mom, it was the best day ever!  If I could do that everyday for the rest of my life, I'd be so happy!"

And how natural you were with the children while staying with Mr. Ronald out in the African Bush!  The way you simply loved them, cared for them.

Really, I don't know what I would do without your commitment, energy and enthusiasm each month as you volunteer in MOPPETS, loving little ones.

The way you threw caution to the wind when the Pickleville Playhouse actors asked for volunteers to come help with a song on stage.  And the way you wholeheartedly played the role they gave you!

Besides all the thousand ways you tune in to those around you every day, looking for ways to serve, to love, to laugh, to invest in people.  How you pay attention to all the details.  Smart.  Funny. 

Garmisch, Germany
The altar you built at the edge of the river, "each stone a monument in remembrance of the ways God has won victories for you, given you grace and strength, rescued you, blessed you."  Your humility as you dedicated your altar "To God."

"So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The-LORD-Is-Peace."  
~Judges 6:24

Hiking the 4.5 miles around Lake Eibsee, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
I love you.

     I am well pleased with you, Ezekiel.  I am PROUD of you.  I respect you.  I believe in you.

Zurich, Switzerland
But Jesus is more pleased with you.  He's proud of you.  He believes in you.  He loves you more.

Happy Birthday, Son! 


  1. Beautiful! Way to be my heroine "Mom!"
    :-) Kimberly

  2. Beautiful as always, you are an amazing writer and a wonderful mother. Happy Birthday Zeke - from across the miles and years you amaze me. I will forever remember your open face and your gentle presence this summer when you were in Utah. You are so kind, gentle, loving, smart, and yes impulsive. I so look forward to the amazing man you will become.

  3. That is such a great photo of Zeke with my dad! I love it!

  4. What amazing words of blessing for a young boy to treasure always.

  5. i LOVE you blog and the story about Gideon. I think you chose the right things to say and I love your pictures. Keep it up, and I love you!

    Love Israel