Five minute Friday – notice

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photo 2When you are the mother of the groom on your son’s wedding day

you are like a gallbladder

necessary to some extent but if you cause trouble then out you go

I wanted to remember my place.

The day was so NOT about me! It was about the Lord, my boy and his stunning bride!

But that doesn’t mean it was easy though I really wanted to behave like a good little gall bladder

especially since my son was getting married in a foreign country

Yikes, the struggle is/was real…

Totally out of my comfort in a place unfamiliar

Lacking close friends and extended family
It was a lonely place

My husband was my oldest son’s best man and so understandably Nathan was his first priority

I got ready by myself and prepared emotionally and spiritually for the moments ahead alone. 

As I stood waiting to walk down the aisle, hearing Spanish all around me, just awaiting instruction

It was my daughter-in-love Kelsie whom God used to be my support.

She pulled me aside and blessed me with these words,

“I’m going to take care of everything. Just enjoy the moments. Give me your purse, give me your phone, I’ll take all the pictures, you just be.

Oh my word.

She noticed…me.photo 5

Little, insignificant African Violet gown dressed me.

In spite of a raging root canal infection developing

In spite of her own emotions and needs

Kelsie was there for me…

We sat together, observed the Salvadoran wedding ceremony,

I think I even put my hand on her lap just because it felt good to have her near

I did not feel alone anymore. We haven’t been family for all that long. She and Aaron have only been married since May but her kindness embraced and ministered to my spirit.

Though I told her that I was her project for the evening, I didn’t expect her to take it seriously. Or to do it cheerfully. For someone so new to the care of feeding of a mother-in-law, Kelsie is a pro. That night, our entire family welcomed a new dear one to our family together. photo

Lu became Kelsie’s sister that night. Lu became another daughter for me to love.

I’m one blessed gall bladder.

Thanks be to God. Thank you Lord for noticing me and for using a special girl to offer me things I needed.

A mom, a treehouse and a couple mountains – an El Salvadoran adventure

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IMG_6492.JPGOn Monday, I walked up the stairs to a treehouse

Near a volcano

In El Salvador

No big deal…

Just a regular ho-hum day for a middle aged American wife and mom who only 48 hours ago welcomed a new daughter-in-love to the family.

I jest. It was this a significant moment. Why, you ask?

1. I’m very afraid of heights.

2. I’m not really a very adventurous person anymore.

3. I am accident prone.

4. The treehouse towered high above the mountains in the El Boqueron National Park

5. And it swayed…

Surveying the land – mountains, volcanoes, crests of the ocean peeking near the sky’s edge – such majesty and glory,

I climbed the steps and held on mightily to the thin railing. My eyes shunned all notice of the open risers. The recent earthquake we had experienced a few days ago from neighboring Guatemala was shoved aside. Up, up, up the stairs I climbed and then with trepidation, down, down, down the same.

I felt the Lord’s open hand and His voice saying, “I’m giving you this moment. Take it.” He gave me a gift. All I needed to do was accept. I said yes.

The park is just 25 minutes away from the Salvadoran capital and sits atop of the San Salvador volcano at an altitude of 5,905 feet which is about 1800 meters above sea level- (special thanks to fellow blogger Traveller Soul for the reference). The air was clear and cool, hibiscus and poinsettia blossomed at every view. The light fragrance of cypress reminded me of Christmas. How I wish I could have bottled the smell!IMG_6602.JPG

Ike then bespied a small swinging bridge near the treehouse. “Mom, go on this with me!” he declared.

Incredulously, my feet advanced. Before I knew it, I crossed the bridge. I’m not sure who was more surprised my orange hair, freckle face OS or I. Though a rather clumsy journey, by golly, I did it.

And now as I sit back in suburban North Carolina and attempt to write on my blog again,

Similarly I feel as if I’m overlooking a panorama of memories, experiences

Emotional mountains and volcanoes

The vista of pain and joy, loss and gain

Do I even dare to share and grant access to this life and try to write again? We shall see.

For the time being, I’m moving one step forward and reflecting on the chances I’m given to be blessed and

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So how about you? Any chance you can relate to my journey? The brave part? The blessed? Hope you’ll share!

Singing in prison – observations during my time as a volunteer in a women’s prison

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photoEight pins

Four needles

This is the number of items the ladies at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women are allotted for the weekly quilting program. Eight pins, four needles, no more, no less. Lose them or forget where you placed them, things get VERY awkward and tense. Panic ensues.

20140624-131947-47987294.jpgI volunteer at the prison twice a month and help the ladies create simple quilts and pillows by hand. I first learned about this program through my church, (The Summit Church’s) initiative to bring the gospel to the prison.

Inmate Overcrowding StaffOne woman I have grown quite fond of is “Sally” (not her real name). With a scheduled release date of early August, Sally is probably in her mid-30’s. She greets me with an easy smile and wears her chalky mint uniform as well as one can. The hint of mascara (or the prison equivalent) makes her face youthful, dare I say pretty. Sally’s nimble fingers are a stark contrast from most of her peers. Their hands often shake and have nerves such that they can’t focus on pulling thread through a needle consistently.

Sally remembers my name which is also unique. Last week, another inmate “Erin” needed some help and yelled, “Lady!” even though I had told her my name only minutes before and we’ve spent time talking on several occasions.

Sally’s quilts are among the best constructed. The lines on her fabric are straight; the stitching of similar distance and shape. I wonder if Sally realizes her potential, I see glimpses of victory in her life.

Honestly I find it hard to even imagine Sally committing a crime. She has such a gentle countenance.

And yet, there she is.

Seal_of_the_North_Carolina_Department_of_Correction.svgSoon she will be released from prison. Sally will no longer be told what to do. Her pockets won’t be inspected. She can then use scissors that really work and buy her own fabrics and notions. She will be able to come and go as she pleases with only a few limitations according to rules given by her probation officer.

Heck, Sally can even fancy to sport an underwire bra upon her release if she so chooses. Based on my observations, if I were released from prison, it would be my first purchase. Supportive undergarments are strictly forbidden in prison but trust me, VERY desperately needed.

We sat on the carpet in the special programs room. Instead of volunteer and inmate, it was like two friends crafting together. Straightening and stretching her quilt top, I offered some assistance though Sally really didn’t need it.

A little later on, while helping another inmate, a song came on the radio. I heard Sally singing. “My God is awesome. He can move mountains. Keep me through the valley. Hide me from the rain. My God is awesome. Heals me when I’m broken. Strength when I’ve been weakened. Forever He will reign…”

I perked up and pondered. Could I be singing this song if I were in prison?20140624-131950-47990080.jpg

“Do you like this song?” I inquired, partly surprised to hear someone in prison knowing the lyrics. I hear this song frequently at church and almost always lift my hands in praise. I guess it surprised me to hear a woman in prison singing these words so freely.

20140624-131952-47992382.jpgShe looked at me and with a gentle Southern twang said, “I do.”

Each time I visit, I fight every temptation to never return. The buzz of the prison doors unlock to let me in is like a lightening bolt going through my body every time. It rattles me to the core. Even so, I’m not deterred. I’m not there on my own strength.

This is the video that I saw at church which first peaked my interest. The Lord spoke to my heart. http://www.summitrdu.com/about/stories/

These are two videos of men who are involved in prison ministry and experiencing transformed lives!

As I consider my own struggles and pain, Sally comes to mind and so does God’s Word. Romans 5:3-5

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about all of this! Leave a comment, it encourages my soul!

Summer words

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20140619-122658-44818081.jpgWriters’ group – we all put one word in a bowl. Something that reminds us of summer. Then we go around the room and randomly draw a word. Timer is set and off we go, pens grabbing words from our women’s hearts. This is the word I chose. At first I sat there, unable to summon forth much, but what surfaced was sweet memories.

Sprinklers

The smell of freshly mown grass

The perfume of chlorophyll and Copper Tone

Feet on vacation – released from sneakers and school

Run towards the misty prism arch

Skip over the sprinklers

Giggles

Squeals

Droplets of water glisten my back

Fingers catch the sun

And later a few fireflies

…carefree girl20140619-151229-54749522.jpg

 

Does anyone else have a sprinkler memory? On this steamy summer day, I’m refreshed thinking about this and would love to hear from you!

 

The Summer Plan – guest blog by a mom of four who’s got this thing figured out

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photoToday’s blog post is from a fellow West Point mom.

We’re facebook friends and when I saw her post, I asked if I could publish it on my blog. She agreed. I just love the spirit of her message and the fun and forceful way she mothers.

I’m done, here’s Danelle!

Ever since I’ve been a mom each summer I try to have a very basic guideline for what I expect on a daily basis. (Otherwise I get grouchy and they get bored.)

I laugh because my kids freak out about our plan every year, but if you look closely, only 2.5 hours of their entire day is spent doing anything they don’t choose to do.

Here is how we’ll try to redeem the time we are blessed with this year:

The Summer Plan

Daily–
TV/gaming/computer/screen time (and, yes, watching tv with your sibling “counts” as your own tv time…I wasn’t born yesterday)–2 hour maximum
Chores—30 minutes (or however long you’d like to take)

Reading –1 hour minimum
Music—30 minutes minimum
Exercise—30 minutes minimum

Everyone up by 9:00 am

Mealtimes—breakfast ends at 10:00; lunch ends at 2:00; dinner will be at 7:00

Breakfast choices: yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, toast
Lunch choices: sandwich, chips, soup, cheese and crackers, fruit, veggies, leftovers, grilled cheese, quesadilla, ramen
Snack choices: fruit, veggie, granola bar, dried fruit, nuts

*You are expected to put your dirty dishes into the dishwasher and wipe around your place-mat when you are done eatingphoto

• There is absolutely NO FOOD OR DRINK allowed in the basement other than popcorn and water. You must have permission to make popcorn. The answer will most likely be “yes”, but ask anyways
• If you bring any food or drink to the basement you will be charged a $5 fee for this decision
• Chores must be done by 5:00pm
• You can earn extra $ or extra screen time occasionally by doing extra jobs (the frequency of these will be determined by parents and if you get sassy about it, the answer will be an automatic “no”)

Activities for Bored People:

  1. Play a “board” game (get it? Haha!)
  2. Get out a puzzle
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Play with the dogs
  5. Get together with a friend
  6. Make crafts
  7. Bake a treat
  8. Write a song
  9. Write a letter to someone20140617-094240-34960709.jpg
    11. Read your Bible
    12. Listen to music
    13. Pray for someone who is struggling
    14. Use the elliptical
    15. Have a lemonade stand
    16. Write a poem
    17. Call a friend
    18. Call a grandparent
    19. Offer to help a family member with something
    20. Weed the garden
    21. Trim your nails
    22. Make your bed
    23. Organize your closet
    24. Make a slushee
    25. Sit on the patio and stare off into space
    26. Ask a sibling if there is some project you could help them with
    27. Walk to the store
    28. Walk to the river
    29. Have a picnic
    30. Make a meal for someone

Originally from Southern California, Danelle and her family now live in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She and her husband have four kids – two boys and two girls and a dog named FooFoo. Her oldest son is a cadet at the United States Military Academy, class of 2016. She says, “Being a mom has been the most amazing, challenging and important thing I have ever done. I love encouraging younger moms who are right in the middle of the best job they’ll ever have.

Danelle seems determined to be faithful with her family’s time, to lead her kids well.

539620_4131081765991_613836652_nAs I read her suggestions, admittedly I felt a little guilty because I haven’t been so industrious. I need to implement these ideas even if I just only have an orange hair, freckle face 17-year-old at home.

What would you add to her list? Which one do you like the most?

 

What I told my young son the night before his wedding

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Cindy and Mark with brand new baby Aaron

 

Today I am sharing the message I spoke to my son at the rehearsal dinner. My intention for making it public is because it is testimony of God’s faithfulness. The Lord gave me confident and courage to speak from my heart after a period of great struggle. 

From the day my middle olive shoot was born, Aaron has done things early. His due date was September 7. This was perfect because my wedding ring was diamond and sapphire – April and September. It all was going to fall into place so nicely!

But then I felt cramping in my stomach and on August 30, just two days shy of September, Aaron Xavier entered our world.

And that’s the way it’s been. Aaron talked at an early age, went to kindergarten and high school as one of the youngest in his class. He turned 18 while at Moody Bible Institute, the only thing he didn’t do early was potty training but that’s all figured out now thank you very much. :)

All of this early stuff was preparation for his wedding day. Based on his life thus far, nothing should surprise me about my precious boy. He is getting married 10 years before the national average for males which according to the CDC is 29.

But those guys aren’t my Spurny.

Fave pic of aaron and momSince Aaron was a little boy, our family has instilled values, traditions and a belief in Jesus Christ. When I tucked Aaron in at night, I prayed for him. As I sat on his bed, I thanked the Lord for another day of being his mom. My heart is glad each day that I’ve had the honor and the privilege of being his mama. Of course I feel the same way about each of my boys.

One night in particular I remember specifically praying with Aaron about something very special. Not a good grade on a test or for a tooth to come loose. This night I prayed for Aaron’s wife.

We prayed for our kids’ wives throughout their time at home. I remember the Hubs doing it one day around the dinner table for Isaac. He was about six at the time and his little eyes peeked up like, “My what? My who???”

But getting back to Aaron, I remember like it was yesterday because in a way it feels like it was…

I prayed about this “mystery woman/his wife” and as I said this, my sweet little boy, he might have been around 11 years old; he squeezed me extra tight as I muttered those words next to his bed.

And on May 24, 2014, Aaron received her.

She is here. She is his. Our prayers have been answered.

Since Aaron was a little boy, we also did another thing in my family. Whenever we found ourselves doing a skill we thought would be useful in the future, we’d gather up the available boys and call it “husband training.” Whether it was fixing a toilet, hanging a nail, making salad dressing or chicken broth, ironing, mowing the lawn, boom, Nate, Aaron and/or Ike assisted in the efforts. The thought being one day you are going to do this. One day you’ll be a husband and you need to know. In some way, you need these skills to land yourself a good girl in the first place.

In the recent days, the Lord and I have had many conversations preparing me for Aaron’s wedding day. Because I serve a God of All Comfort and Compassion, there is nothing I haven’t burdened Him with that shocks or disappoints Him. God is very good like that. IMG_8475

And in these moments, I have come to Jesus and He has told me, “Why does this surprise you? You have been calling it husband training all these years? What were you expecting? You called it husband training for a reason. Aaron listened. Daughter, your son watched. He took it seriously. He is ready.

Now Aaron is becoming a husband. I become a mother-in-law hopefully to be considered a mother-in-love and I desperately love my son. I am proud of him and the man he is, the husband he will be and the dad I can already imagine.

10371636_10152976488103018_7618892888247892350_nEphesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Five minute Friday – messenger

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20140613-095031-35431905.jpgSeveral years ago, after Uncle Bill died, his family gave us a Bible

We didn’t know it at the time but it was actually not an heirloom from his side or his wife’s side of the family

It actually belonged to his brother-in-law who happens to be my husband’s dad

photo 1This Bible has sat in our closet since then, the pages so tattered, there was no chance of getting it restoredphoto 2

But there is something about owning an old family Bible that warmed our hearts

Recently I began looking through the book

I don’t know what I was looking for, I mean I own plenty of well-made contemporary Bibles that I study regularly

The illustrations and the lessons contained in this particular version discovered, ancient and true – brought a richness of family history

Thumbing through the pages, I see that this Bible was given as a giphoto 3ft to the new Mrs. Ella Virginia Hartley on December 20, 1893 in Washington, DC.

Now it sits in an air-conditioned suburban home in North Carolina, 2014 read by well, me!

The Bible might be antique

But the messenger is timeless

Those family members who read the Bible served the same God as we do 121 years later

Tucked in the pages

I don’t even know how it stayed so perfect

Was a four-leaf clover

A messenger of a different sort hid it away

photo 4How curious to find this

How symbolic to remember that God’s Word contains many undiscovered treasures if we would just open it and look.

5-minute-friday-1Special thanks to Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt! I never know what I’m going to be writing about! Join us and see what it’s all about!