I slow-danced with another man and I liked it

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photoMy first experience slow-dancing was traumatic.

Picture a teenage girl going to a Mormon youth dance. She misses her mom who’s in the hospital. It’s a weekend night. Her friend’s name is Michelle.

Platform shoes, lip gloss, a tender heart, polyester

Abba music playing in the background

This Catholic girl alight with anticipation

Who will pick me? Am I pretty? Has that pimple disappeared? More importantly, will there be enough disco music???

Then the creepiest, dweebiest guy asks me to dance. How can I say no? He isn’t cute but he’s the only one to approach.

Pressing me close to him, he slowly removes his glasses and whispers…

“I don’t need these to see you, now do I?”

Every shameful feeling a teenage girl can experience joined me on the dance floor that night

Clumsy feet step all over his until I can’t take it anymore.

I run into the girl’s bathroom, lock the door.

And upon my return home, immediately shower to remove that guy from my person.

Yeah, I’d say that qualifies as a traumatic slow-dancing event, wouldn’t you?

Since then, my slow-dancing skills haven’t improved.

Foot surgeries, knee problems, my list of excuses will impress.

It’s a standing joke with the Hubs.  I can’t slow-dance, I can’t follow his lead. It’s so silly when I even try.

But more than three decades later, there’s another guy who wants to dance with me.

My middle olive shoot – Aaron

On his wedding day no less…

Did he not remember the legendary tale? I mean, I only talk about it a couple of times a year. I plead with Aaron to not humiliate me by forcing me to slow-dance in front of people. Can’t we just leave it alone?

I send him videos of moms choreographing wedding dances with their sons. Don’t they look amazing? Doesn’t that look like fun? I think we should do that, don’t you? Heck, I even work with an up and coming dj on a dance mix.

But no.

The kid won’t budge.

He wants to dance with his mama.

Tears flow after the father/daughter dance. I know I’m next.

Aaron, I can’t do this.”

“I’m crying. I’ll look stupid. People will laugh. I will uglyphoto cry.”

“No, Mama, you can do this.”

He takes my hand and leads me to the dance floor.photo

Suddenly I don’t care. I almost feel pretty. I know I feel proud.

I’m in my son’s arms.

My charming, safe and oh so handsome child. He’s a married man. Sweet melodies serenade my heart-strings.

We step all over each other’s feet.

I twirl him to lighten the mood.

He spins me around. We look ridiculous. At one point, we miss intersecting after a twirl.

It’s a hot mess.

But I cry and look deep into his eyes. I caress his soft cheeks just like I did when he was a baby.

10172643_10203755528669758_7964348490121130609_n“Oh Aaron, I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Mama.”

And then it’s over.

The music stops.

I leave the dance floor glad. Really super duper glad.

10345846_10152968220578018_3115487111255556271_nI nearly passed up this imperfect moment.

I look at the pictures afterward and reflect.

I almost got in the way. Pride and self-consciousness, as clumsy as my feet trying to move at a gentle speed, nearly ruined the moment.

But the sun had streamed on the spot where we danced. We were unaware at the time. I had no idea. Beholding the images now, God’s hand held us together. 

Quite simply, despite our lack of skill, we were GRACE-ful. Not our feet but our hearts.

I feel resplendent. I feel healed. I’ve been dancing on air ever since.

Here’s my message to you moms – don’t pass up moments due to insecurity. Those times don’t come around every day.

And to you sons – encourage your sweet mothers. Take us by the hand. We get scared too. Tell us you love us and guide us to the adventure. You will never regret it.

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Five minute Friday – close

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photo 2Today we’re close to a life changing moment

Tomorrow amidst a throng of observers and before God, my middle olive shoot beholds a beautiful woman adorned in the loveliest of linensphoto 3

Walk down the aisle and become his wife forever.

For all these years, we have been a close family

Priding ourselves on raising our three olive shoots to be men of God, to be ready for this moment when they go from not only being our children but

Being someone else’s beloved for life

We are so close.

Tonight I prepare my heart and pray

Tonight I speak and cry

Tonight I welcome family and friends and the woman I have prayed for since Aaron was a wee one

And my prayer is that we will be close – my sweet boy and I and the woman we welcome to our family

10171703_10152894953923018_2252761905675416999_nHow could I not want that considering I never had a daughter biologically?

Moreover though I pray that these two young kids who really have no idea about the enormity of marriage

Because let’s face it, no one does and I’m 27 years into this thing

That they will have an intimacy with the Lord, a closeness to Him

photoI am so close to becoming a mother-in-law, I took a seminar about it and learned many “inside” tips!

It is scary, like I’m about to jump off a diving board and plunge into the unknown

Entering what has been called the most complicated human relationship

And my heart’s cry is for a closeness with the Father during our lives together

And with her, if that is her desire and the Lord’s.

Today we’re close to a life-changing moment. Amen.

Aaron is ENGAGED!!!

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photoThe time to drop your iPhone into the toilet isn’t hours before your middle olive shoot proposes.

Yes, you have read that sentence correctly.

My iPhone took a swim in the toilet on Saturday morning…

And my sweet boy Aaron is now engaged.

As of today,

I have an iPhone that needs repair – waa

BUT much more importantly

In the span of just SIX weeks

I have gained not ONE but TWO future daughters-in-love.

I have been the mother of three awesome olive shoots for many years

And a Brazilian exchange student for about two months

Truly the Lord has taken our family on a fascinating and creative journey. Love and loss, Alzheimer’s and abandonment, family and friendships, oh my goodness. Central America, South America, Chicago, South Carolina, our hearts have been all over the map. We have had a jam-packed season of suffering and joy, our spirits are dizzy and blessed. I scarce can take it in but I’ll try.

Here’s how the proposal unfolded.

After spending the day together in Chicago strolling the Lincoln Square area, Aaron took Kelsie to PF Changs for dinner.

Then they went for a stroll to the Trump Tower. The night was starlit, a slight chill in the air.

Aaron reminded Kels that this was the place where he had asked for their first kiss and professed his love for her.

And then Aaron, all fancy wearing a tie and looking oh so handsome,

My cherished bairn, he took Kelsie’s hand and got on one knee.

With all the confidence and happiness he has probably ever felt, with a host of truly thousands of prayers spoken over this boy throughout his lifetime just in anticipation of this one moment, my treasured Aaron reached into his pocket. Presenting his beloved her great aunt’s wedding ring, a family heirloom, he inquired,

“Kelsie, will you marry me?”photo 4

With nary a moment of hesitation, this dear young woman answered, “YES!!!”

It was a surreal moment for the both of them.

Apparently so surreal that my ministry-minded olive shoot carefully placed the ring on the WRONG HAND! Oops!

But don’t you just love it when things don’t go perfectly?

That’s how life happens, it’s not flawless. I want my children to live real lives and be authentic people. Those little blips and bloopers are what make memories stick. Kind of like what happened when Nate proposed to Lu. Click here for that story. The Hubs and I have so many moments about our own engagement, I’ll save those for another day. I pray that my children accumulate many stories throughout their lifetimes.

photo 5So yes, my phone fell into the toilet yesterday.

It was an unused toilet, for the record and I wasn’t on the phone when it happened. It just fell out of my back pocket. I promise!

But I am thankful nonetheless.

God has answered my prayers. He has been good. So many nights, so many dinner table conversations and prayers about the women my boys would someday marry. And now two of them know who she is.

Nate and Lu –

Aaron and Kelsie –

praise Jesus for my two future daughters-in-law love.

Big news in our family – something happy for a change

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My boy and his girlfriend

My boy and his girlfriend

Yesterday I used a word I have never used before.

It was a word I prayed I would use one day.

Like, I really did pray to Jesus about using this word.

I remember praying with my son throughout the years

When I tucked him in at night or

During casual conversation in the family room and

Around the kitchen table before dinner

This word has always provoked a sense of wonder and anticipation in our boys.

My boy and his fiancée

On Sunday at a fancy restaurant in San Salvador, El Salvador, my oldest olive shoot, my Soldier, my West Point graduate, my Ranger, my Sugar Boy asked his beloved to marry him.

She said, “yes.”

So yesterday I no longer referred to Lu as Nate’s girlfriend

Around 4pm during a very serious meeting in Raleigh, the Hubs and I spoke about a very happy moment as we were talking about a very sad one

Then these words flew out like a butterfly in the sky,

“my son’s fiancée.”

The air in the room grew lighter for an instant

photo copyAnd I felt a smile in my heart

A fresh and joyful moment, most welcome and healing to my soul

Their love story is such an adventure, your heart will smile as well

That incredible day, the one we have prayed about for so many years has finally arrived

My son has a fiancée, I have a future daughter-in-love!

Briefly observing the world with Alzheimer’s eyes – a daughter-in-law’s journey

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What do you see when you look at this picture?

What do you see when you look at this picture?

“GAW! That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!” exclaims my passenger

It was my first time being the driver.

We were running errands and making small talk

Overall, I’d say the time together was nearly delightful

But deep inside me, I was sweating

Try to act nonchalant and easy-going

(Two things I’m not really known for)

So when he exclaimed about the things he saw on the street

I asked him in a very comfortable fashion,

“What did you see?”

And that’s when he says,

“I just saw a house without a roof, smoke coming out of it on top of a grave.”

I gulp…

It’s August

In North Carolina

There are no Halloween decorations up yet

And there is no house without a roof with smoke coming out of it

Over a grave

My heart broke

My pulse quickened

La-dee da, dee da dee da

“Don’t freak out,” I say to myself and we go merrily along the way.

Since Friday, my mind has turned like a whole organic, antibiotic-free chicken on a rotisserie

So today I drive back to that stretch of road

And I take a walk with my camera

W7J9L7Fdbld6DBBp_gomz-GJi-iP196ZexHRe57w9EcI try to look with brain-diseased eyes

This might sound bothersome but I have to figure this out

Then I spot two structures on the street that might fit his description

I know what he saw!

And I get it

With brain-diseased eyes, these buildings look as if they don’t have roofs

I imagine this being a very scary sight.

I imagine this being a very scary sight.

The trees might look like smoke

So could the clouds billowing in the sky

And the grave,

XOhNO0O45NoWuqL7frli7PETNf0fythdsQ_g1W-gkX8

I surmise it’s the office building sign

Strangely, I feel better

Because for a fleeting moment

I have entered his world and a piece of this horrid puzzle fits

I drive away and make a mental note

Scared…fearful…thankful…sad.

Question: Have you ever tried to unlock a brain mystery like this out before? I’d love to know!

You need a thick skin for Alzheimer’s, so what am I to do?

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It is heartbreaking to find old pictures destroyed in the trash.

It is heartbreaking to find old pictures destroyed in the trash.

As this ignoble journey through Alzheimer’s plods on,

I look up at the photo bulletin board in his kitchen

And in the last few days,

The picture of the Hubs and me

Has been torn up

And in our place

Stands the business card of the exterminator!

Ouch

At first I laughed…

But then it felt like a wasp sting in my heart

Pictures of the Hubs and his dad have been ripped up recently

Thrown in the trash

And I told the Hubs, “It’s ok. He doesn’t mean it. He loves you.”

But then it happened to me and instead I sadly said,

“I’m going to need to work through this.”

I can handle cleaning poo off the toilet seat rims,

Cindy versus poo,

I always win

20130824-180520.jpg

The miserable evolution and emotion of the bulletin board. I thought it would be something that brought him joy. I put it up for remembrances. Now I just want to forget I even bothered.

But crud muffins, being downgraded from the exterminator

Come on

Really?

Whoa

Oh, Brain Disease, if a picture of YOU were on my bulletin board

I’d replace you with a 8×10 PICTURE of MY exterminator

Now, Brain Disease, you know how we feel…

88 cents, actually 82 cents!

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At the start of our $50 grocery challenge, I never anticipated God would leave many touchstones for me this early. Our decision to attend Financial Peace University isn’t a mistake.

Since my birthday was last week (Thursday), admittedly I was worried that the day would fall flat. I mean we only had $12 left for food and that was Tuesday, how could MY birthday be properly celebrated?


As I mentioned previously, we are now using the “b” word regularly. Not the foul word bantered about without a care. And we are also using the “f” word. Not the offensive word that used to flow from my lips prior to knowing Christ. These new words are “budget” and “finances.” I wouldn’t say they are rolling off my tongue but they are slowly becoming part of our family lexicon.

We went to Trader Joe’s night after Ike’s basketball game. The team experienced a win against a formidable opponent. My orange hair, freckle face OS scored FIVE points and upon making one sah-weet basket, Ike looked my way and through his bright orange mouth guard, gave me the biggest grin. Melted my heart as I jumped from my seat.

As you get older, you worry less about how you look and you just go for it! 



With $12 remaining in last week’s $50 challenge, I chided the Hubs. We must stay on task even if it was the most notable day on the family calendar. Nervously we approached the check-out line at Trader Joe’s. A cart was barely necessary for our meager groceries. I pulled $10 out of my homemade tomato wallet (which I recently made and love!) and listened as the cashier announced the total.



We had 88 cents remaining on our food budget! Cha-ching! Resentment because we didn’t buy everything I would have liked was replaced with joy. I did not feel destitute, why I even recall spontaneous moments of smiling!

Tomato wallet in action

I do not want this to be some quixotic, fleeting adventure. I want our family to change and for God to be pleased with our efforts.


With the items purchased and the food we already had at home, the Hubs made a tasty dinner of rice, roasted asparagus and shrimp with soy sauce, ginger, garlic and Trader Joe limes. Yum.

Birthday dinner = wonderful!

This is the right thing for us to do. The time is right.


And just like those commercials for Ginzu knives, let me end with “but wait, there’s more!” In my next post, I will share the rest of this ridiculously memorable day! 


Oh and thank you so much for your ideas about eating healthy on a budget and couponing. I’m listening, give me more, people!