HOPE for my sick boy :(

Official picture of misery

There is this hopeless, free-falling feeling when you have a sick child. Usually you fear the worst. One extreme to the other. This is no big deal. This is a HUGE deal. You don’t know if you’re over-reacting by running to the doctor or you’re negligent because you’ve decided to take your time. You watch and assess. You google and search. You feel so little and you need to be big. 

I’m at the emergency room with my middle OS. A pounding, almost unrelenting headache has required two visits to the urgent care and two visits to the hospital all in the span of 24 hours or less. As someone prone to anxiety issues, it’s hard to keep perspective and trust in the Lord in these moments. 

I love this kid

We’ve gone from the small measures to relieve Aaron’s pain to moving up the intervention. Soon he’ll be rolled down the hallway to get a CT scan. They’re running more blood tests. Please Lord, not a spinal tap! 

It’s like an elevator that has no bottom. You just want to do something. Is it a coincidence that just Monday we discussed hope in Teen CBS?  I was sitting around a table of teenage girls admonishing them to hope. I waxed eloquently as some of them are going through difficulties. Not because I said so but because God did. You should have seen me.  Oh the words of wisdom I bestowed upon these young ladies. And I believed every word. Still do. Even though I’m here in the Emergency Room with my precious Aaron. 

Romans 8:24-26 

24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

(patiently waiting in a room in the emergency department. patiently waiting as they roll my middle OS down the hall for tests. patiently waiting for results and relief. patiently waiting for a warm bed and restored health.)

 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

Empty rooms stink

(tired, hungry, scared, Lord, I’m groaning. people are praying. You are here with me though I’m physically alone in this room at this very moment. And my boy, God, you are with him too in the places where I cannot go.)


The Bible in the kitchen

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I awoke one morning recently and found, for the SECOND DAY STRAIGHT!!!!,  that my OS had failed to empty the dishwasher. To put it mildly, I very much dislike emptying the dishwasher. I’ll clean a bathroom, scrub a toilet, even mop a floor but DON’T and I repeat DON’T go to school and leave me a dishwasher full of clean kitchenware. Consider yourself warned.

I didn’t go berserk because I didn’t have time. And that’s because of the next thing I saw in the kitchen. 

Check it out. 

I observed a Bible and a pair of glasses on the kitchen table both belonging to my middle OS. Let me tell you, it is really hard to stay angry about a full dishwasher when you behold this sight.

Aaron has a faithful morning ritual. At 16 years old, he wakes himself up early, brews a cup of French press coffee and reads Scripture. Specifically he awakes at 5:45 every school day and reads two chapters from the Old Testament and two chapters from the New Testament. Donned in a homemade robe I made him years ago, sipping java, Aaron and the Lord spend time together. 

When I was his age, I didn’t even own a Bible. I had a book of prayers used in the religion we half-heartedly practiced. But as a teenager, I would never had considered owning, let alone reading the Bible. It would have felt “too holy” which I know sounds completely stupid but I’m being honest. Vaguely I recall that my mom had a Bible which she kept under the bed. My dad would have teased her if he found her reading it. When he died, my mom got the Bible out from under the bed and we searched for some Bible verses to use in his funeral. 

At last count, we own at least 22 Bibles. Many of them have a sweet story about how one of us acquired a particular Bible. 

A Soldier’s Bible was given to Nate during Beast

For example, during Beast, Nate got a small, pocket-size Soldier’s Bible which helped him survive those dreadful days. 

Lu, Nate’s gf, gave him a Spanish Bible during his first trip to El Salvador. 

Lu and Nate in El Salvador

The Hubs offered one of his many Bibles to an owner of a local coffee house who said he didn’t own one. 

When my father-in-law moved locally, he blessed us with this Bible heirloom.

I love that we don’t just possess The Word. We claim it as truth. We read it, talk about it, study it. 

Things have changed in our family, the family the Hubs and I have created and our extended family too. There is no longer any shame in reading The Word. There is no awkward hush if you mention something you learned during a Bible Study. There isn’t a judgmental whisper because you believe every word to be true.

Here’s Ike holding one of his Bibles

Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

As much I want Aaron to faithfully do his morning chores, I think he has successfully mastered a much more noble task. 

Lost and found


It is strange and curious thing to do a google search of your grandma’s name and see a bunch of “hits” appear. Prior to Saturday, the only time I had ever googled my grandma’s name was um, never. In fact, it was only because of a frightening set of circumstances that I thought about ever doing it and here’s why.

Saturday evening around 7, the phone rang. When I saw the area code of the person calling, I got nervous. I don’t get a lot of phone calls from this area code and this time my anxiety was justified. The phone call was from my sister informing me that my grandma who lives in Florida was missing. My sister called many states away from both of Grandma and me and she said that Grandma had been missing for several hours at that time. As I hung up the phone, I almost couldn’t feel and horrible things came popping into my head. Our family gathered around to pray as I crumpled in a heap of despair.

The police had been notified and were looking for her. Grandma’s friends had called my aunt after she hadn’t arrived at a friend’s house as planned. Unbeknownst to me at the time; my almost 90 year old grandma had recently gotten lost in the daytime. When her friends opened the key to my grandma’s house, she was gone and the car keys were gone. The cell phone was left on the table and the Life Alert my aunt insisted on her using was still in the box.

I put prayer requests out on facebook and for all the pain that facebook can cause and wow, let me just say, it has caused A LOT of pain for me recently, I was comforted by the outpouring of love and prayers said all over the country for a person many fb friends do not know.

Watching tv was like looking at a blank screen so I reached for the thing of hope that is 100% reliable. My Bible.

I began doing my Teen CBS lesson and admit that I had trouble concentrating. I opened my Bible and did as the lesson prompted which meant reading a Scripture verse I desperately needed.

Philippians 4:6

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

By then my grandma had been missing for five hours. She has a bad knee and I pictured her hobbling in the dark. I thought of her being scared and because of an active imagination or too much tv, (never CSI, praise the Lord!), many other horrible pictures came to mind.

In the small space provided, here’s what I wrote in my lesson

10:07 pm – Grandma missing for five hours. Father, you want me to read this – you know my heart, my sadness and fears – I am so weak – do not be anxious about anything – seriously!?


Around 2 am the phone rang again. The Hubs quickly removed his C-Pap machine and scrambled for the phone. My grandma was found! She had driven all the way to Naples, Florida which is about 2 1/2 hours away. She had been driving for NINE hours without stopping. Confused, Grandma entered a convenient store and the only thing she recalled was that she had a business card of my uncle’s. The clerk called and soon my grandma was located, stayed at a nearby hotel and life will never be the same.

Since that fateful night, I have cried so much that on Sunday the sides of my eyes were sore from the salt in my tears. My grandma left on a plane to Chicago where my aunt lives and she will never return to her home. She had wet herself and needed a shower and doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

I fear other posts about this situation and about dementia or Alzheimer’s but for now, let me focus on the comfort I had in leaning on the Lord. I am afraid and sad beyond words but the words I read on Saturday night were not an accident. Though they were hard to put in practice, they are true.

Googling your grandma is not a good thing. Seeing a Breaking News story about one of your dearest, best friends who just happens to be nearly 90 and a close relative is yucky. My grandma has been very private about her age and now everyone will know she’s almost a nonagerian! The good thing though is the Good News – both the literal one that my grandma was found and the spiritual one I found and find in Jesus.

September 3rd was a very good day!

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All week long I have been anticipating writing a post about going to the hospital. I awoke Thursday morning excited to think that I was going to the hospital. I knew something good was going to happen on September 3, 2009. Normally I don’t look forward to going to the hospital but on September 3, 2009, I wasn’t going to see just a regular, ordinary person…

Oh no, my friends. You see on September 3, 2009 I was going to meet my niece for the very first time. I babysat my two nephews while their mama, (my sister) went into labor. We played, I wiped a butt, fed them lunch, read stories, watched train videos on YouTube and had a very silly time. It doesn’t get better than that! Here is video proof that we had fun in case there was any ever doubt! (I’m trying to load this onto my post, I apologize in advance if you don’t see it!)

The Hubs came with me so as soon as my brother-in-law called, I could hustle on over to the hospital. And at 2:22 pm, my darling niece, Rachel Shiloh entered our world. I was honored to meet her before she was even an hour old. I never cried at the birth of my own OS (of course I was overjoyed!) but when I saw this little bundle of girl, tears filled my eyes. Rachel is probably my only niece that will know me well because she lives nearby. It will be wonderful to see her grow and develop into her own little person. I am now AuntDeeeees to Rachel Shiloh, praise the Lord!

So that was suppose to be my blog post – as my nephew Josiah would say, “the-end!” Happy, happy, joy, joy, right???

But then my intended blog post became altered. That’s because on September 7, 2009, I returned back to the same hospital. This time it wasn’t to see my niece, it was to visit my mom. She has pneumonia and had a slight heart attack on Sunday. My mom was going to help my sister and in the wee hours of the night, she became disoriented and shaky. She was admitted to the hospital and there she remains until things get better.

It’s times like these that I am ever thankful for my faith. I am not leaning on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) and I’m trying not to borrow trouble (Matthew 6:34). If I get too caught up on all the “what if’s” I will be miserable (Philippians 4:6).

All I know is that today I got to see my mom and although she is sick, she is a blessing and still laughs at my jokes. And before I saw my mom, I went to my sister’s and got to hold Rachel and rub her little back. She was sleeping so soundly, her pink lips making a sucking motion and her tiny legs tucked snugly almost as if she was still in the womb. One of her arms rested on my side and yes, I melted.

This week I hope to be going to New York to see my oldest OS, my baby!. May it be so dear Lord!

My Own Good Friday


When I was in middle school, back then called junior high, I had a fleeting moment of courage, when I stood up for someone and risked it all. Her name was Carol Plalonski (I have slightly changed her name but it sounded pretty similar) and Carol was the “new girl.”

Not the prettiest girl, Carol was tall, rather clumsy and plain. As I recall, she had a slight curve to her back and her shoulders slouched forward and well, Carol didn’t seem to worry herself about the really important things in life like boys, flavored lip gloss, blue eye shadow and mascara. 

Almost from the moment Carol walked into Jefferson Junior High, she became the target for all pre-pubescent angst and torment. Kids would tape words on her back and she would just lump down the hall while everyone pointed and laughed. Oh, how I hated seeing her with the words “DOG” and “WOOF” affixed to her. I seethed with anger and felt entirely helpless but what could I do? I had my own problems! (See self-explanatory photo)

It was scary because if I did something then everybody might turn on ME and then I would be the source of scorn. But one day, I mustered up the courage and said “enough is enough” and as Carol walked down the hall with one of those words on her back, in a moment of brazen anger, I ripped that nasty message of her back. Whenever I think of myself as being a wimp, I summon up that memory of taking a stand, fighting for the honor of another person and taking a risk.

My middle OS has been doing something similar and today I was deeply blessed to receive a message from a dear mother who wanted to let me know that my son was a fine young man of God. She sent this to me on facebook so now I shall forever use that message as the reason I need to check my facebook 800 times a day, but I digress. 

In typical, yet disappointing 9th grade fashion, some of the guys in my OS’s class are pretty rough on the girls. Countless times my son has come home and told me about the insulting comments his peers say to the ladies in class. One time, a guy ticked Aaron off so badly, Aaron smacked his binder into the guy’s nuts which I believe must have made quite a statement. 

Recently, another freshman girl, Lauren (not her real name) stood up in class and articulated her concern about all the high school drama and tension. She announced that something had to change. Then Aaron, with the teacher’s permission, stood up and addressed his classmates. He challenged the guys in the class to “step it up” and start acting like “real men.” I only learned about this after the fact when Aaron came home and said he had a cool story to tell. He hadn’t planned on doing that but I guess he had his own “Carol Planonski” moment.

Now he and his friend Zack have begun a freshman Bible Study on Wednesdays. Boys that previously sat outside the classroom and chided the kids, actually attended this week. Aaron’s charisma and transparency with his own struggles are making a difference. This week when a classmate began teasing one of the girls about her really curly hair, Aaron turned around to the kid, looked him dead in the eyes and said, “Andrew, shut up!” Normally I do not condone those words but I believe, in this instance, they qualify as “words aptly spoken.” (Proverbs 25:11)

This mom wrote me to say that her daughter is amazed how the Lord is leading through Aaron and Zack. Her daughter can’t wait for the Wednesday Bible Study and it is showing her that God can use just one person to “change the tide.”

As our family prepares for Easter Sunday, I can truly say that it is a Good Friday. To God be all the glory and honor and praise. 

Going to church on a sad day isn’t really easy but…


So yesterday I went to church. I would have preferred to be holed up in my house having a nice, little feel sorry for me time but I thought that would just be self-serving and non-productive. I also thought it would be a bad example for my children, one of whom was feeling as miserable as I was. 

Dark sunglasses hid my tear-stained eyes as we made our way into the church. With a wad of Kleenex in one hand, I tried to creep in quietly because I wasn’t in the mood for small talk. Honestly I don’t like banal small talk to begin with as I dislike superficial conversation and yesterday was certainly not a day for idle chit-chat. 

We currently attend a small, start-up church so it’s not like we walk into a sanctuary or a fancy building. Our church is actually an elementary school. There is no organ music or choir, our chairs are not pews but just folding chairs. It’s fairly modest and it’s hard to “disappear” into the crowd.  
But I safely made it into the gymnasium which is where the service is held without really saying anything. Whew! My emotions were very raw and close to the surface and it was all I could do to not bawl my eyes out. Maybe some people thought I was a rock star or something because I kept the sunglasses on as I waited for church to begin. Wait a sec, is that Hannah Montana? No, it’s just Cindy the crying West Point mama! HA!

I certainly wasn’t giving off an aura of “hey, somebody talk to me.” I have always been the kind of person that for some reason doesn’t get accosted by the people at the perfume counter. Even though I am rather petite, I guess I give off the impression that I shouldn’t be squirted with the latest fragrance. I don’t usually have to worry about people approaching me in an unnecessary manner.
But here I was, hurting, crying, sunglasses on, my treasured parka covering my aching mama’s soul and suddenly I got blessed.

Someone hugged me.

She took a risk and hugged me. Her tender words reached into my sad heart and made it feel a little better. It surprised me, quite honestly because it was a beautiful single woman. We don’t really talk too much although she is a very nice person. Heather didn’t know why I was crying, why I was so sad but she took a second and reached out. And I noticed that I hurt a little less.

Then to my horror, the pastor asks everyone to stand and greet each other. “Puh-lease! Today is NOT the day! Can’t you see I’m falling apart!,” I thought to myself.  I reluctantly stood up because it would have been looked more awkward to remain sitting on my gray, plastic folding chair. I felt sorry for the new guy who shook my hand because he had no idea how to respond to a crying lady in sunglasses but heck, at least he tried.

And then it happened again. 

I got another hug. This time from Jessie, beautiful single woman behind me. In a broken voice, I told her why I was so sad and although she has never had a child, I felt like she sincerely cared. And I noticed that again, I hurt a little less.

Church was over. My sunglasses had come off during the sermon and I was gaining composure but I felt the tears surfacing again as we were leaving the gym. All I wanted to do was bolt for the exit but before I that happened, another woman came up to me.

This time it was Tricia, a mama and she asked if she could give me a hug. I gladly accepted and dutifully deposited some tears on her nice, clean shirt. Yes, I was still sad but something had changed.

So why am I writing this post? Because I want to encourage you, I want to challenge myself, to reach out. I wasn’t putting out the welcome sign for any of these women but the love of Christ gave them the unction to see past my exterior. Despite the sunglasses and the withdrawn attitude, these ladies reached out. They weren’t full of nice-ities and platitudes, they didn’t pat me on my little head and say everything was going to be all right. They didn’t placate me and give me some worn-out clique. In fact, they didn’t even say they understood what I was feeling but those few seconds it took for them to be nice to me, I’m telling you, it ministered to me in ways they cannot understand.

In my work, I purpose myself to reach out to hurting teenagers. They are everywhere. In every classroom, auditorium where I speak, I can spot them so easily. Their personas can be hard and intimidating. Some have a seemingly inpenetrable attitude and I admit, I can be afraid to extend myself but I try to move beyond my insecurities and touch their heart. Sometimes with a motherly pat on the shoulder, other times with a listening ear. I have been blown off and it hurts but I still must do it. Interestingly, Sunday, I was on the receiving end and three people extended a hand of kindness my way. 

Check out this Scripture found in Matthew 25. Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was in prison and you came to me.” Then he says to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it for me.”

The physical hugs from these women lasted a short time but the impact of what they did is still with me. For that, I give great thanks. Go do it, dear friends. 

PS. Shout out to my sister Lorri for letting me use her pics! 

Feeling better – mama of a soldier presses on…

RDay 063

We are currently experiencing a drought in our part of the country and if I had collected my tears in some type of container, (an incredibly large container), I think I personally could have solved the problem two days ago.

Today is a better day although it was quite painful walking into the house and past my son’s room. 

This picture is of the two OS and me while still at West Point featuring four items of USMA gear along with the jade necklace my friend whose husband is serving in Korea.

The last thing I want to be is maudlin so I’m concentrating on good things. 

I don’t even like the the word maudlin, therefore I’m trying my best to not be characterized as such. 

Instead, I’m going the other extreme by wearing  

– my West Point Mom Class of 2012 t-shirt with
– my West Point Class of 2012 matching canvas bag
– while driving my mini-van with the Proud Parent of West Point Class of 2012 bumper sticker
and reading Absolutely American (an amazing West Point book, highly recommend) and sporting my West Point Class of 2012 baseball cap.

My husband has – 
– a West Point Parent license plate holder
– a West Point Dad Class of 2012 t-shirt

– a West Point golf shirt

P1020552– an Army baseball cap and

– a Proud Parent to be a West Point Cadet’s Parent bumper sticker
along with an Army lapel pin.

Can you notice a theme here? Does it seem just a little over the top? Who cares! 

In some way, it connects us. I might wash my West Point Mom shirt in a couple of days if it starts to stink but I will stay in the laundry room and put it on as soon as it comes out of the dryer. Do you think I’m kidding!? I’m not! 

Despite hundreds of miles that separate us, I am tethered to my child by these small efforts.
Since I like to sew, earlier this spring, I made Isaac a pair of camo-boxer shorts and a camo-pillow case.

My nephew Josiah now has a camo-bib. I also sewed a camo-apron.

Suddenly my favorite colors are either red, white and blue or black, grey and gold. I can’t be there with him while he is learning “knowledge” or doing push-ups or making his bed with incredible speed and execution so in spirit, this is my mama’s way of showing support. 

He doesn’t know it but I do and it makes me feel better = less tears.

I cried so much on Monday that I had salt deposits under my eyes.

My two OS said, “Mom you have this white stuff under your eyes.” I went to the restroom at West Point and it wasn’t Kleenex, it wasn’t makeup, it was dried up tears. Yeah, it was that bad. 

While at the Panera Bread line today, wearing my West Point Mom Class of 2012 t-shirt, a man approached me and said that he used to attend the Sunday night concerts up there by the tip of the Hudson River. I saw that place just a few days ago and it brought me a measure of joy. I felt connected and held back the floodgates.

During this time of transition though I have to share this with you.

I haven’t been able to collect my tears and find a useful purpose for them but someone has.

It is God.

Scripture says in Psalm 56:8 “You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle–are they not in Your book?”  

I can’t tell you how many times I have clung to that truth. If you know people who are hurting, sad or lonely, share that timeless message with them. God is recording their tears in His bottle, on His scroll.

They matter to Him. And if you see me, for goodness sake, please compliment me on my new USMA fashions, it will help this mama of a soldier!

Go Army, Beat Navy!

Check out how things are going as we now await “the phone call” and a silly way we included our NC into a little family fun!

Link to a newscast about R-Day at West Point, I wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes!

Btw, I love all your comments and stories and want to put them in a future post. They are inspiring even to non-military folks! Keep ’em coming!