Five Minute Friday – Opportunity

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My handsome Scrabble buddy

My handsome Scrabble buddy

My children are older and the opportunity to enjoy them for long stretches of time is shrinking. I’d love to say that when we are together, it’s always joy and laughter but that would be a lie. Sometimes we fuss and squander the time we have.

But not yesterday. I went out for coffee with my ministry-minded OS Aaron. Armed with a travel Scrabble board, we entered into a spirited game of words. Two pretty girls were nearby and while I had a good advantage over my opponent, I also eavesdropped on a nearby conversation. Upon learning that these girls loved Jesus, I leaned over to them and I guess you could say I seized the opportunity.

Obviously there was not a lot of opportunity in this sampling of letters!

Obviously there was not a lot of opportunity in this sampling of letters, however, I stayed the course and managed to land a victory!

“Um, excuse me, girls but I was just wondering if either one of you would be interested in marrying my son? I noticed that you love Jesus and so does he. What do you think?”

Sometimes you have to take advantage of the moments God gives you. Big deal, it didn’t work out, you can’t fault a mom for trying. Aaron left the coffee shop single and soundly defeated by his mom. Was it worth it? Heck yes!

"My mom took advantage of every opportunity to make this a very memorable game of Scrabble!"

“My mom took advantage of every opportunity to make this a very memorable game of Scrabble!”

Carpe diem.

What’s 5 minute Friday? It’s where a beautiful crowd spends five minutes all writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here. It’s like free writing therapy for the tongue-tied, tired, or blocked blogger. Learn more here!

Excited to be doing FMFs again!

Excited to be doing FMFs again!

Five wonderful adventures with Flat Stanleyette

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Yesterday my niece got my returned package with Flat Stanleyette. I know this because I had the pleasure of talking to my niece for nearly an hour about it! In this crazy, mixed up world we live in, it does an aunt good to know her niece was happy at school all day long.

I promised A. I would share more about our paper friend’s adventures. It was an honor to host both of the Flat Stanley’s we’ve had recently. We did our best to show them some southern hospitality.

Here are a few other things Flat Stanleyette experienced.

"I'm a Flat Stanley fan!"

“I’m a Flat Stanley fan!”

1. Flat Stanleyette went with me to the Raleigh/Durham INTERNATIONAL airport!  We picked up Aaron who is a college student at Moody Bible Institute. Christmas music filled the air even though it was a few days before Thanksgiving. A spirit of cheer and excitement was everywhere as many people waited to greet their loved ones. As I was waiting, I noticed a group of musicians playing Caribbean music by the luggage carousel. That’s when Flat Stanleyette and I looked at each other. Her big blue eyes met mine and I knew I had to do it. I approached the lead musician and asked, “Would you mind taking a picture with Flat Stanleyette?” Without a hint of embarrassment, he heartily agreed! He told me his daughter had also had a FS and she went around with him! How cool is that!

Aaron meets Guinea pig girl Wilma and Flat Stanleyette for the very first time. No words.

Aaron meets Guinea pig girl Wilma and Flat Stanleyette for the very first time. No words.

"Um, um, um, we thought Aunt Cindy was getting facial moles removed! YIKES!"

“Um, um, um, we thought Aunt Cindy was getting facial moles removed! YIKES!”

2. On another note, FS showed great bravery by accompanying me to the plastic surgeon’s office. I decided to get FOUR facial moles removed. There are three words to describe the event

1. ewww

2. ouch

3. scary

Flat Stanleyette and Guinea pig girl Cora kept me company and tried to distract me but it really didn’t work. I will spare you details but we all decided it was something we’d rather not do again.  Glad they’re off my face but not the most fun thing we’ve ever done. Understatement.

Look at this beautiful couple on their wedding day! Flat Stanleyette thought you two were sooooooo in <3!

Look at this beautiful couple on their wedding day! Flat Stanleyette thought you two were sooooooo in <3!

3. Uncle Mark and Grandpa Hugh piled Flat Stanleyette into the car and they drove to a wedding in the mountains. Hopefully she kept the two guys under control and they weren’t too crazy! The bride and groom were happy to get a picture of FS!

4. I also took Flat Stanleyette and bestie Erma to my weekly Bible Study. We are studying the book of Psalms in the Bible and FS even had her own seat. She told me afterward that she learned a lot and thought the ladies were all super duper nice and interesting. Flat Stanleyette has noticed how many people smile every time they see her. I noticed the same thing.

A few of the ladies in my Bible Study! They welcomed Flat Stanleyette with open arms and hearts! Such a pretty bunch of women!

A few of the ladies in my Bible Study! They welcomed Flat Stanleyette and Erma with open arms and hearts! Such a pretty bunch of women!

FS at the Farmers' Market. Maybe this is where she lost a few of her fingers. Oops!

FS at the Farmers’ Market. Maybe this is where she lost a few of her fingers. Oops!

5. Another highlight of her time with us was going to the Raleigh Farmers’ Market. Aunt Cindy knows about a special place at the farmers’ market where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables for less money. We bought potatoes, persimmons, sweet potatoes and other lovely, healthy foods. Aaron went with us and he’s always a bunch of fun! When they got home, Ike and FS noticed that I put the potatoes in the dishwasher. It was everyone’s first time to see potatoes cleaned that way! Not sure we’ll do it again but YOLO, right?

"Ok, so are we really going to put the potatoes in the dishwasher?" Ike and Flat Stanleyette wonder why.

“Ok, so are we really going to put the potatoes in the dishwasher?” Ike and Flat Stanleyette wonder why.

Being an aunt is a blessed thing.

Counting my blessings

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Aaron post-surgery, no kale but I'm not complaining!

Aaron post-surgery, no kale but I’m not complaining!

A week ago, Aaron had stomach pains and bam, within 24 hours, he was recovering in the hospital from appendix surgery. Although we have been silly and jovial about his speedy recovery, please do not take this as a lack of appre- ciation. I’m a 14 hours’ drive away from my boy. He’s never had surgery and I wasn’t there when that changed. Not known for my calm and demure nature, I was shockingly peaceful although he was in Chicago and I in North Carolina. The Lord used many people to stand in the gap. I have to acknowledge the sweet details God did not overlook.

1. Wisdom – It’s still surprising that my middle OS thought it was worth going to the hospital for abdominal pains. Aaron consulted with his RA, the Hubs and a few buddies and went to the hospital in the middle of the night. With this quick thinking, perhaps Aaron was spared a burst appendix.

Maybe Uncle Rich needs to be hospitalized! ;)

Maybe Uncle Rich needs to be hospitalized! 😉

2. Family – near and far my family rallied around Aaron. My sister, aunt and uncle came to visit him in the hospital. When my family said they would be happy to help if Aaron ever needed anything, they meant it. My cousin’s family reached out to my boy too. This allowed me as a mama to feel connected despite being so far away.  You wouldn’t have known Aaron had surgery a few hours previously, upon their visit, my aunt felt a party-like atmosphere in his room. A sense of celebration filled the air!

3. Humor – Since he was a toddler, I’ve always considered Aaron to be my human tv. He entertains me immensely. This time, however, my ministry-minded OS needed distraction. According to my boy, there were times in the Emergency Room where shrieks of laughter emanated from his room. Most people who go to the ER aren’t particularly jocular, Aaron’s friends made appendicitis kinda sorta fun.

I loved seeing this smiling face4. Testimony – The doctors asked perfunctory questions about Aaron’s personal life. “How much alcohol do you drink on an average week?” they inquired. Aaron’s reply, “I don’t.” They persisted because Aaron’s buddy chuckled at the question. “No seriously, how much do you drink?” the doctor wondered. My middle OS then replied, “I go to Bible college.” The doctor quickly retorted, “That doesn’t have anything to do with the question.” Aaron’s answer was steady and honest. He doesn’t drink. We are NOT perfect people but I delight in times when my family’s testimony is consistent and true.

5. Scripture – Aaron’s friends wrote Scripture verses on the nurses’ orders on the white board. They prayed for and over him and claimed God’s Word as truth. I pray the staff felt the Lord’s presence in his room.

6. Sacrifice – One of Aaron’s friend had just returned from her precious grandma’s funeral. She went right away to the hospital. Another suffered a horrible family tragedy and still wanted to come see Aaron. Incredible and selfless. They were not only concerned about Aaron but about me! I was deeply touched by everyone’s thoughtfulness. His friends were willing to do anything. ANYTHING. Two stayed overnight and helped him in very personal ways. I was in almost constant communication with them and I never had to initiate any conversation.

7. Face time – with my boy, his friends, his doctor, the surgeon. If your college student has an appendectomy, make sure you have an iPhone.

Prune juice and me looking like a chunky monkey

8. Kale and prunes – After surgery, I informed the doctor that Aaron needed kale. They don’t have kale on stand-by at Northwestern Memorial Hospital but I appreciated that the doctors were pro-kale. We also learned that Aaron actually likes prune juice. He appreciated the flavor in addition to its “medicinal” qualities. Huh…

9. Sweetness – I was leaving my own doctor appointment when Aaron’s physician called me to tell me the surgery was successful. “Will you see him in the recovery room?” I inquired. “Yes, I will.” “As soon as you see him, can you tell Aaron that I love him very much?”  There was a smile in the doctor’s voice as he answered, “I’ll be happy to do that.” The surgeon not only cared for Aaron physically but emotionally. A lady in the lobby overheard my conversation and asked me how my boy was doing. Kindness abounded near and far. Aaron recalled the surgeon giving him my message. Love.

10. School – Imagine entire classrooms of college students praying for your child. Imagine a professor beginning a lecture offering up prayers for your kid. That was our experience at Moody Bible Institute. Appendectomies stink but having legions of caring people nearby is cheerful medicine.

As far as I’m concerned, I already have my Christmas gifts. They came to me in the unexpected and most blessed ways.

Birth, beads and a baby, part one

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“Ok, so I let you take pictures of me with your homemade dolls. Isn’t that enough, Woman?”

There are certain family stories you just don’t share. There are other stories which become legendary. This one is a toss-up but for posterity sake, I must pass it along.

“Mom, are you really going to do this to my brother on his b-day???”

It’s my middle OS’s 18th birthday today I’m going to embarrass him/myself and anyone else I can by telling this story. I love Aaron desperately. It’s his first birthday away from home at Moody Bible Institute. BLECH! Truly, Aaron brings immeasurable joy to my life and since his conception, this guy has been making me weirder by the day. Read on for the deets.

While pregnant with my middle OS, I began to love beads. And I mean LOVE. On many Saturday mornings, you’d find me at the flea market pining over ways to make unique jewelry. Actually I never made it myself but some mother/son flea marketeers pieced together my baubles in their simple tented outdoor booth. It was a win-win situation though we were a strange trio to be sure. They lived together in a cramped trailer home in rural North Carolina and didn’t get much exercise, I was a then career-minded, super busy, suburban mama raising a family in a middle class neighborhood near Raleigh.

I believe these three beads represented each trimester…

As my due date approached, I was insistent that beads become a central theme in the delivery, second only to my pending OS. Beads were symbolic of fertility and womanhood. According to my birth plan, everyone with the exception of medical personnel had to wear beads if they wanted to see Aaron enter the world.

The Hubs didn’t/doesn’t have an impressive jewelry stash. If you add marbles, you might say that his bead collection was scant at best. But being the ever dutiful wife, I wanted to resolve his burdensome problem.

I’m not sure what these represented but they represented something!

One afternoon I set off to personally visit the mother/son duo. They had told me they had an even vaster selection of beads at their home and many more masculine beads to choose from. It was now close to my delivery and I was determined. Aaron wasn’t going anywhere until his daddy had a bead necklace to wear for the big day. The miles I logged on that mini-van were astounding. At times I thought about giving up but how could I do that to my incredible husband and precious Aaron still stuck in the womb? I finally arrived and spotted the ramshackle trailer off a dusty, unpaved road. It had taken much longer to get here but Mom and Son were waiting for me.

We all waddled into the showroom. It was similar to a greenhouse only filled with a million or so beads. I noted the selection. Daunting. How could I choose? It had to be perfect and I wanted something to match the overall color scheme and mood of my necklace.  After great thought and with my bead friends’ approval, I found the perfect pieces. For added manliness, I even included a few African bone beads. The Hubs was going to love it. They knotted and strung them all together and even gave me a satin gift bag. We all smiled and waved as I backed up my mini-van leaving a trail of dust in the midst. Mission accomplished…

“Um, thanks Mom?”

Here’s the link to Olive Shoot Institute and the aforementioned dolls. Stay tuned for part two, we’ll call it “the unveiling…”

Diving into transition

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Old school pic of my Moody Bible boy

With only one OS now at home, as long as I don’t think too much about it, I’m ok. Those moments when I go “there,” I start to panic. Having Aaron far away in Chicago can overwhelm me. It’s like when I was jumping into the deep end of the pool last summer. If I ran quickly off the diving board and just let gravity do the rest,  I was ok. But the minute I paused, my toes gripped the edge of the board. I contemplated the depth of the water, the possibility of death, the certainty that I looked completely stupid and that’s when I became frozen with fear.

In a similar position, I must put one foot in front of the other and dive into this new season of life. I must sell soap nuts, write, sew, serve Jesus and others. Not in a bathing suit though!

Today was the first Sunday at church without Aaron sitting beside me. A few people sweetly asked me how I was doing and I truly appreciated their kindness. I marveled at my ability to not burst into tears which is not something I usually do.

And I found a way to have all my OS by my side. Here was my strategy.

That orange hair, freckle face kid in the black shirt blessed me today.

1. I sat next to Ike and we didn’t fuss at each other as we are sometimes apt to do. Oh how I loved that my orange hair, freckle face OS let me hold his hand frequently and spontaneously. He also enjoys pretending to crack an egg on my head and knee and that was welcome affection even if it’s weird. And when Ike was needing a break from me, the Hubs let me curl up beside him.

One of my favorite pieces of jewelry for obvious reasons!

2. I wore my West Point necklace which was specially made by another WP mom. It’s custom designed and is so dear to me. One of my charms has a favorite picture of my boy when he was a little toe-headed guy chest puffed up holding a plastic knife in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I instantly felt close to Nate who’s in officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Click here for info about this wonderful jewelry! I’m going to order more charms so I have all my OS nearby!

3. When it was time to sing, the rest of the congregation made a joyful noise reading the worship songs on the screen. I, however, took out the hymnal my OS compiled and sang using it. I choked back a few tears and clutched the hymnal to my heart. Aaron’s spirit felt nearby.

“How blessed are the feet of those who bring good news.” Romans 10:15 My boy, my hymnal ❤

With one Sunday down and facing my first week without Aaron, I press on and am thankful for any effective coping techniques I can find! If you have any, please share! I know I’m not alone!

T(h)anks for the memories

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Last week I began a small business called Olive Shoot Institute. Since January, I have been faithfully using a 100% biodegradable, organic laundry detergent called soap nuts. Now I’m selling those delightful non-edible nuts/berries along with a host of other cleaning supplies for personal and home use. Got me a Olive Shoot Institute facebook page too!

Just a sample of the products we are offering. I love doing this.

Seriously if you have known me for the last six months, I have probably talked to you about soap nuts. I don’t want to be one of those people who deluge friends and family with endless convos only about the products they are selling because that gets old but it’s exciting to begin a new endeavor. Whoever said that my OS are the only ones who get to branch out this year? Seriously!

So now my life duties include maintaining a website, shipping products and talking about the merits of soap nut stuff. This in addition to sending my middle OS off to college at Moody Bible Institute and the orange hair, freckle face OS beginning sophomore year in high school. While the younger OS are in the throes of transitioning, praise the Lord, Nate has adjusted to life away from West Point and as an Army officer at Fort Benning. To hear the voice of a happy child, be it the high-pitched squeak of a little boy or the deeper, richer tones from a young man, ah, it’s like massaged kale salad – zesty, fresh and satisfying. If you know me, you also know I am a BIG kale fan!

Nate sent me this picture of a little sumpin/sumpin he was making. Couscous with fresh tomatoes and feta! Impressive my little man!

Nate and I bond marvelously over food and domestic life. He talks to the Hubs about politics and tanks and recants to me the lovely meals he is preparing for himself and his housemates. It’s a good compromise. My 2LT is also a Dave Ramsey fan (so are we) and he follows many of Dave’s principles.

So when he moved to Georgia, Nate promptly got on Craig’s List, found a washer and dryer for only $100 and with nary a second guess, bought it.

How many guys send their moms a picture of their washing machine? And how many guys post a picture of their dead washing machine on facebook? I’m pretty sure there’s only one and I gave birth to him!

The guy was so proud of himself and talk about convenient! He loved being able to throw his stinky Soldier clothes in the wash and not have to traipse his clothes to a laundromat. But last week, the stupid thing died. On facebook, Nate bemoaned, “The spinner of my washing machine is now sideways. It has always sounded like a small man was in there but ran like a champion. Unfortunately those days are over.” Another person put it this way, “actually, it sounded like a small man was getting murdered in there ;-)”

So in memory of my OS’s short-lived first appliance purchase and in honor his thriftiness,  I’m saying “Tanks.” I mean, “thanks” to my readers
and I’m offering a 10% discount of Extreme 18X until August 22nd. You just need 1/2 TEASPOON to do a load of laundry!  Crazy, huh?

1.No harsh chemicals

2. No harmful toxins

3. Hypoallergenic

4. No need for fabric softener either. Clothes are fluffier than ever!

5. Only about .20 cents a load (you’re probably spending more if you add up your fabric softener)

6. Takes up a ton less space

7. And can replace 70-80% of your household cleaners, it’s that versatile!

8. Fragrance free but your clothes smell fresh and clean.

9. Perfect for HE (High Efficiency) washing machines.

I love this stuff, I love my OS and his silly sense of humor! You need that in the Army, trust me. Rest in peace noisy washer, you were good while you lasted. Enjoy the 10% discount, friends.

Traffic at Fort Benning. Not like regular people traffic!

Twice in a summer

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We argue. We fight. We disappoint each other and intentionally do things to annoy. These are some of the rather unsavory characteristics of my family.

On occasion our clothes are left on the ground, someone “forgets” to empty the dishwasher, the carpet needs vacuuming and the kitchen floor hasn’t seen a broom in a few days.

We battle big things too in this house…depression, anxiety, temptation and Ambien, to name a few.

But then there are these halcyon moments –

And it’s like one of us is a polished diamond

And we get it right

I didn’t grow up going to church. Raising a Christian family means so much to me. Sitting next to one of my guys makes it even sweeter.

Maybe not for the whole day, for that might be too strenuous

But for a snapshot of time, we experience a flash of heaven

Which is what happened Sunday morning…

Aaron helping lead worship. He did a great job and found it to be a very emotional experience.

It was Aaron’s last Sunday at church before leaving to attend college in Chicago. This summer Aaron has acted as one of our church’s interns. For a small church of about 50 people, I must say, they put my OS to work like a boss. In addition to holding a paid, part-time job as a pool attendant, Aaron had many church projects to accomplish. Whereas many nearly 18-year-old young people are majorly chilling the summer before going off to school, Aaron has been learning Greek, reading church leadership books and writing reports about them. Aaron worked tirelessly compiling a hymnal for our church filled with rich, beautiful hymns that are still reverent and true. Each time my OS showed me progress on this hymnal, he beamed with excitement and joy. Aaron and the two other summer interns led an entire church service and my middle OS was so moved by the experience, he ended up in tears before our small congregation recently one Sunday morning. Incidentally as a result, most of the congregation was equally emotional especially the mama with pink highlights in her hair = me!

The three pastors poured into our boy’s life and gave him a glimpse into how to truly minister and shepherd a flock of people. They showed Aaron the inner workings of a healthy church body, how to receive feedback before and after the sermon (something I’ve never heard of pastors doing before attending this church). Through their personal investment in my OS’s life, Aaron is developing into a vibrant and active young leader.

And on Sunday, our pastors blessed him in a grand way before sending him off to the Windy City. Although the Hubs and I knew about this previously, it came as a surprise to Aaron when he was asked to come up to the front of the church. Jerry, one of our pastors, explained to the crowd that Aaron was leaving to attend Moody Bible Institute and this would be his last Sunday with us. He then asked the men of the church to come forward and to pray over my boy. It wasn’t creepy and it didn’t offend my former feminist ways in case the mere thought of this bristles you.

Twice in a summer I have witnessed a moment like this.

My sandy-haired boy bowed his head and I realized at that moment, wow, this is the second child in a summer that I have seen kneeling before Jesus and his followers. (Click here to read about the first time with Nathan). We weren’t at West Point; we were in the suburbs of North Carolina but another one of my olive shoots was submitting his life to the Lord and receiving from His people, words of blessing and protection. Honestly, I think the statistics for something like this happening twice in a summer are quite small. And when I consider my wretchedness, I think it is nothing short of miraculous that something this beautiful could happen to me as a mother. And furthermore, this is the second time the orange hair, freckle face OS has laid hands on a brother and helped usher him into a new season of life. Not your everyday, run of the mill brother stuff but something lofty, holy and lovely.

The prayer didn’t last too long, no one spoke in tongues, snakes were not handled. 😉

Seeing godly men praying for my olive shoot, thank you Jesus for this glorious moment. That’s my orange hair, freckle face guy in the black shirt, his hands on his bro.

As the prayer finished and the men made their way back to their seats, Pastor Rob asked Aaron to stay up front for a moment.

And that’s when they gave Aaron another gift as if the gift of prayer, love, protection, shepherding, accountability and manly, godly leadership weren’t enough.

Sitting next to my boy one last time before college, Aaron getting his hymnal, the actual hymnal

He sweetly handed my boy the very first copy of our church’s new hymnal. The project Aaron had devoted hours on was finished and my OS got first dibs. Aaron hugged our pastors fiercely and shined like a diamond holding that hymnal in his hand. He sat down next to me and while he began flipping through the pages, I patted his knee, tears in my eyes. As sad as I think Aaron might feel about leaving his family, I think he feels even sadder leaving his church. He will be a part of our fellowship even if he’s thousands of miles away.

Here’s one of Aaron’s favorite songs, Jesus, Savior Pilot Me which can be found on page 82 in our hymnal. Surely I will think of the precious child who sat and snuggled next to me even as a teenager each Sunday morning. As a benefit of birthing this fine olive shoot, I too, was handed a copy of the hymnal which Aaron will be signing for me. I cherish it already. (Btw, yes, I’m crying while writing this.)

This is a cool song. Beautiful, timeless words. ❤

So today, we’ll see how it goes. One of us might be grouchy. The Hubs and I might bicker, the guys might not initiate folding the mounds of laundry. We are alas a very human bunch. Still, I will praise the Lord. I will exalt His name. I will rejoice in the blessings I am given, those moments when we transcend our selfishness, stubbornness and foolishness and I see extraordinary beauty in the land of the living. May it be so with you and those you love as well. ❤

The party guest I invited

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Some of the decorations outside

Over 100 people came to my middle OS’s college send-off party.

It was a beautiful celebration and I just revelled in God’s goodness as I looked at the crowd.

I recall my high school graduation party and it was nothing like this one.

Mine had a keg of beer, Michael Jackson music and I remember my tube top falling down unexpectedly. Someone had yanked on it and whoops, there it fell right by the kitchen door leading out to the backyard.

I nearly died of embarrassment but shrugged it off because bursting into tears is just plain gauche for a burgeoning French major.

Possibly one of the sweetest sights at Aaron’s party is this one. People pausing to pray for my son. Such a tender moment, thank you precious family and friends.

Aaron’s bash was nothing of the sort…No booze, (none necessary) folk music, Christian fellowship and everyone remained fully clothed to my knowledge. 😉

Among the treasured guests were our current church family, close personal friends, extended family, pastors, friends from our old churches, some of Aaron’s former teachers and classmates that were in choir and drama together.

Our pastor spoke a beautiful prayer just before dinner which was a gift in itself.

We ate Chicago style hot dogs from Sonic, Chicago style pizza from Rosati’s and filled in with healthy food like cranberry quinoa salad, lentils and jasmine rice, marinated mozzarella, watermelon juleps and other lovely treats.

All the hard work paid off seeing the faces of people who obviously loved my olive shoot and felt cared for by him as well. Afterward, I told Aaron it was like a wedding but no wife and no sex. He wasn’t sure how to respond but appreciated the sentiment and just chalked it up to another one of Mom’s awkward sayings of which he has quite a collection.

Oh yes, knit Chicago style hot dogs and knit Chicago style pizza slices!

But in the back of my mind throughout the preparations and during the actual party, when I allowed myself to think,

I remembered that a year ago on this same day marked my grandma’s last full day on earth.

That is a very hard thing to process when one is getting ready for a party, I assure you. Myriad emotions wafted in and out.

I loved her so much, she was so dear to me.

She profoundly loved my babies.

How had I even survived this year without her?

Step right up and get your picture taken with Aaron in front of the Sears Tower!

It was a Chicago theme celebration since our ministry-minded OS is going to Moody Bible Institute in the heart of the Windy City. As many of you who have been reading my blog have noticed, I built a Sears Tower (I refuse to call it Willis Tower) in my family room.

Each guest got a picture with Aaron in front of our own homemade indoor skyscraper and I chuckled to see small lines of families getting ready for their turn in front of the impressive structure.

And in my own way, unbeknownst to most people, I secretly invited my grandma to the party.

She had to be a part of the night and oh how Grandma loved to party. The poor woman couldn’t cook worth a darn but she was an enthusiastic and memorable party guest. Young and old alike loved it when Grace was coming over. She had a way of getting a party started as many will attest.

My orange hair freckle face OS and his great grandma. She made everyone smile.

And that’s what I did.

I took her to the party.

It was hard to do but I wore her Chicago Cubs shirt to my OS’s celebration.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t especially flattering or that it slightly clashed with my skirt, I wanted my grandma there with me.

I also wore her high school necklace which rarely leaves me. And I ate some hot dogs. Grandma ate like a bird but loved hot dogs.

Grandma joined the celebration last night. She would have had a blast even if she had some Alzheimer’s, rarely wore her hearing aids and needed a cane. Heaven is the only thing that stopped her from making an appearance and if my grandma is with Jesus, I completely understand her not wanting to leave the ultimate celebration.

All of us, Nate is even in the picture. And I’m wearing my grandma’s Chicago Cubs t-shirt

As the night drew to a close and August 5th soon approached, more tears fell from my tired eyes.

The one year anniversary of my grandma’s passing had now arrived.

I saw my family’s facebook statuses change and their profile pictures show photos of them with Grandma.

I was not alone in missing her.

And those tears mingled with the tears of joy I experienced toward my treasured OS. I can scarcely take it all in today but all is well.

I miss her.

I love her.

I will miss my boy.

How many people can say they have done the YMCA at their grandma’s 80th birthday party? And how many can say that later on in the night, they danced a conga line through their aunt’s house with that same grandma? I did both and will treasure those times forever!

I love him.

I praise the Lord for all the tears, all the people, all the kindness, all the sadness, all the memories, all the love, truly I am blessed on this most notable day.

These two people were crazy about each other.

PS. In honor of my grandma who loved to party, remember to enter my give-away for a fun party gift! I’ll draw a winner tomorrow! Leave a comment on this page if you want to be entered in.

Taa daa! Construction is complete!

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“Look at me holding a glue gun next to my very own Sears Tower!”

Tomorrow is Aaron’s party and today we finished our Sears Tower.

Aside from knowing my OS are walking with the Lord, I can think of no greater joy than seeing my boys at home in the kitchen and handily wielding a hot glue gun. I’m a simple woman, don’t ya know?

Note the skill and concentration on this guy’s face

As Aaron was attaching the last story to our very own indoor Sears Tower, I proudly announced to him, “You are going to make a very fine husband one day.” He will be quite a catch, ladies, I assure you. Martha Stewart would be so proud!

If you have a beautiful, godly daughter who likes crafts and is between 17-19 years old, feel free to send me her resume and upon approval, I will have my OS contact your daughter to schedule a wedding in a few years. I thank you in advance. Gotta run and do some more things for the big event, we’re getting ready to par-tayyyy!

Teamwork

Excuse me, ma’am, but is that the Sears Tower in your living room?

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Our forays into hospitality continue this weekend. We are busy preparing for another big event. Saturday night we will have about 100 people filling our humble home. It is Aaron’s college send-off party and there’s a lot to do to get ready.

My middle OS Aaron in his element serving others and the Lord he loves

Aaron will attend Moody Bible Institute and to pursue a degree in ministry with desires to be both a teacher and a pastor. Have you ever seen your kids doing something you know they were meant to do? My middle OS helped lead the church services on Sunday and he looked so at ease in front of our congregation, I just had to shed a few tears out of the pride and joy that settled in my mama’s heart. The Lord is doing some wonderful things in his life and I must allow him to begin this new season of life. But wow, I’m really going to miss him…

Since MBI is located in Chicago, we are having a Windy City themed party. Our menu includes Chicago style hotdogs, popcorn and Chicago style pizza. We are also serving healthy stuff because I just can’t feed my guests all junk no matter how tasty it is.

Ike helps put a few more finishing touches on the Sears Tower. Or do you call it Willis Tower?

A few months ago, my friend Mavis and I began work on a big project for the party. Our mission: to build the Sears Tower. How hard can that be? We spent a long morning painting, cutting and hot gluing and marveled at our handiwork even though we didn’t complete the project in one fell swoop. Now, construction of that impressive edifice is nearly finished. I only have to find two paper towel rods, paint them silver, stick them to the top of the building and voila! our indoor skyscraper will be done. The orange hair, freckle face OS dutifully assisted efforts yesterday in putting another few stores on the building. I should have been an architect, I mean check this out, very life-like, don’t you think? Actually it looks pretty cool but it is funny to have people stopping by our house for incidental things and suddenly seeing a giant cardboard skyscraper in the house. They’re not sure what to think.

But here’s what I know. My kid deserves a celebration. We are blessed to have a community of family and friends who love us. I’m not ready for this but he is and that’s more important. Let’s party!

Remember the cool give-away and to leave a comment on that post, I’ll announce the winner on Monday, August 6th (EST).

I’d love to hear about any of your fun party plans too!