Love is patient…

However, before I tell you what happened next, let me share with you how I learned about what was going on between the two of them. 

I remember talking to my OS on the phone in March. Nate told me that he chatted frequently with Lu. Judging by the tone in his voice, I sensed there was more to it than that. Here’s how the conversation went when I decided to ask some questions…

Nate: “I’ve been talking to Lu quite a bit lately…”
Me: “Oh really? That’s cool.”
Nate: “Yeah, Ma, I like her.”
Me: “What do you like about her? There’s a lot to like.”
Nate: “I don’t know…everything. Just everything, Ma.”
Me: “Like what?”
Nate: “For one she’s drop-dead gorgeous; she’s nice and funny and she’s the most godly woman I’ve ever met…”
Me: “Wow! Well, how much do you like her?”
Nate: “A lot.”
Me: (trying to sound very smooth and relaxed)”So what do you mean by ‘a lot’?” 
Nate: A lot, Mom
Me: “Um, so Nate, do you ‘L’ her?” (I really did say “L” instead of the actual word…)
Nate: (without a nanosecond of hesitation) “Yes.

Allrighty then! I pulled up my big girl panties (figuratively speaking!) and realized that Nate was serious. I needed to pay attention. I needed to pray and I needed to give thanks. This was a good thing. 

And before I knew it he was in El Salvador…

And this is where we pick up the story.

For several days Nate visited with Lu and her family. He stayed in a hotel in San Salvador (by himself thank you very much) and when he wasn’t with Lu, my OS visited exciting places like the Mr. Donut

He loved the volcanoes throughout the landscape, the verdant hills but the most exquisite scenery was of course, you guessed it…Lu. Having spent time with Lu in prison (yes, we have spent time in prison together, click here for details!) I know how she can light up even the darkest place! 

He arrived on a Monday and each night when Nate was in his hotel room, he and I would Skype or facebook. And I’d ask Nate in my usual extremely nonchalant fashion the same question in regards to him speaking to Lu’s father. “Did you talk to him? Did ya, did ya, huh, huh, huh?” I could barely stand it when he would say, “not yet.” Didn’t he know or care that his mama was waiting with baited breath to hear the outcome! Zheesh!

At long last the night arrived. After enjoying a dinner with Lu and her family, petting the dog and acting charming, “the” moment was at hand. Lu excused herself and went upstairs while Nate sat in front of her mom, dad, one of her brothers and her sister-in-law. In his very limited Spanish, my boy began to speak.  If your heart is NOT beating fast right now, you better check your pulse!

Lu’s sister-in-law served as translator and Nate said something like this.  Remember, this post has been cleared by my son. 

“Senor y Senora ______, we all know why I’m here. I never thought I’d go to another country to see a girl. But when I met Lu, I couldn’t do anything else. This isn’t something I’ve ever done before but I had to come here because I am crazy about your daughter. I think she’s the best thing ever. Family is very important and I wanted to come here to talk to you in person. So really why I’m here is I want permission to date your daughter. I promise to respect her, take good care of her and keep Christ at the center of our relationship. I would like to ask you if I could have the privilege and the honor of dating your daughter.”

I must pause here and say this. You have no idea how many guys I would have avoided if I had had a father like Lu’s. A father who cared enough about his daughter and who was strong in character and faith to protect and love and to expect nothing but the best for his girl. Oh my soul, what trouble and pain I could have avoided.

Ok, but back to the story…

Apparently by this time, Lu’s sister-in-law, pregnant with her first child, was in tears and translating. She took a deep breath and told my son, “You’re a good man.” I think that is one of the kindest things anyone could say to a guy, especially my OS. Then Lu’s dad said a few things all culminating in him saying “yes.” 🙂 🙂 🙂

And then according to my very reliable sources, Lu’s dad asked my son to pray. And Nate began to pray. I give no credit to myself or to the Hubs but all the glory and honor goes to the Lord for He alone guided my OS’s words and actions.

You see, for so many years prior to becoming a Christian, I  longed to raise three honorable men but wasn’t sure how that was done. I wanted desperately for my precious sons to be guys who respected women. Good men are not extinct but sadly they are in short supply. We need a lot more, don’t you think? I wanted to do my part to change that. 

Our family is woefully imperfect and just so you don’t think I’m uppity, I don’t get any credit for the blessings we’ve received, completely undeserving is how I realistically view myself. And for the moments I do feel uppity, well, the Lord gave me a 16 year old OS to fix that! 

But I must admit, I am a proud mama. As a mama, as a woman, I believe with all my heart in raising the bar for young people. What girl doesn’t dream of someone esteeming her in this way? Seriously. 

I can’t wait to share with you the next part…jewelry and no, it’s not an engagement ring but still delightfully lovely!

Living vicariously and loving it


I have had my share of life adventures. Some of these adventures I can tell my family and future grandbabies, others aren’t exactly edifying and need to remain hidden. Oh well! But I am not finished with having exciting stories before the Lord brings me home one day. This summer, I haven’t really been anywhere especially incredible but I’ve been truly content with staying close to home, taking care of my family doing what the world would say is “boring stuff” although I don’t personally think so.   

But about 18 months ago, I went to El Salvador on a mission trip and something I never expected has happened as a result. This short-term mission trip was the second time I had gone out of the country to serve the Lord. In no way could you was it a vacation yet I experienced many incredible, anointed, beautiful, positive adjective-filled moments. 

Inside the prison

The one moment that will forever shine in my heart, however was when we spent time in the girls’ prison just outside San Salvador. Tucked in the hustle and bustle of El Salvador’s capital, the girls’ prison is next to an orphanage. As we approached the compound, little boys crowded around our van, some with dirty t-shirts and threadbare tennis shoes so worn we could see their overgrown toes sticking out. We greeted them but directly checked in with the prison guards to begin our work. The guards escorted us to a room full of teenage girls who didn’t really look as if they had committed any serious crimes. I felt comfortable and at ease among them even though I knew several of them had done very bad things. 

The girls at the prison warmly greeted us with hugs and complimented me on the blue-tinged highlights in my hair. Then we began to share with them. My friend and former work colleague, Beth Anne told her story of redemption and the girls were deeply moved. A beautiful El Salvadoran young woman named Lu  translated for us and allowed us to boldly speak of Christ’s unending love for all of us sinners. 

Beth Anne and Lu crammed into the car

I had grown quite fond of Lu in the car ride to the prison. Her English was exceptional and she was at ease with us gringos. While cramped in the car, Lu inquired about our lives. I began to speak about my family and told her about my children. 

When I began to talk about Nathan, my oldest OS, as is my custom, I began to cry. Just the thought of my boy filled me with love and pride. But no sooner had I started crying, then I noticed that Lu had tears in her eyes also. Casually I mentioned that she and Nate would like each other and suggested that they be facebook friends. 

In the back of my mind, I thought to myself that Nate would find both Lu and her friend Tatiana quite beautiful. I was certain my OS would be more than willing to be kind to these girls.

Tatiana and Lu during my mission trip to El Salvador

Um, that is an understatement.

Because now fast forward 18 months and you’ll never guess who is in El Salvador.

Yes, my oldest OS Nathan is in El Salvador.

And I wouldn’t exactly say he’s on a mission trip but he is on a mission and in my estimation one of the coolest and sweetest missions a young man will ever undertake.

Since leaving El Salvador, Nathan has been talking to Lu. For countless hours, the two have been chatting till the wee hours of the morning and have become wildly crazy about each other. 

On Monday, after weeks of anticipation and planning, immediately upon completing his Beast detail at WP, my OS flew to meet Lu for the very first time face to face. It was a surreal experience to go from the rigors of West Point to a tropical land in Central America. And wow, it was even wilder when Nate boarded the plane from Miami to San Salvador and discovered that he actually knew the pilot taking him there! It turns out that the pilot is the father of a high school classmate and friend. Here’s the pic of Nate in the cockpit! We received a phone call from the dad telling us he had flown Nate to see Lu! 

Nate and the pilot – we actually personally know this guy and weren’t expecting him to personally fly Nate to El Salvador. I guess Nate is a pretty big deal after all! HA!

The beautiful young lady I spent two and half days with in prison is now my son’s girlfriend. The translator who helped us share the love of Christ in a girls’ prison now occupies a great deal of space in my son’s heart. There were moments in prison when the spirit of the Lord was so intense, we were again moved to weep. Beth Anne, Lu, the girls, me and even the prison guards were reduced to tears. Speaking of God’s love and forgiveness and what He has done in our lives, how utterly humbling to be in that place. In so many ways, I am happy I made this trip. Now I am even happier. 

I am deeply blessed to say that I love both of them. While on the mission trip, I saw firsthand Lu’s heart for the Lord, 
her compassion and kindness, not to mention her outward gorgeousness (if that’s a word!) It made me fall in love with her before my son did. Until Monday, I was the only person who had ever occupied the same physical space with both of them. As of Monday, that changed.

Only the Lord knows where this story goes from here. We are all praying and depending on our Heavenly Father to order the steps for this relationship. I need permission to tell more about things but trust me, I want to tell you as it would give us all hope and inspiration. 

Until then, I’m living vicariously and loving it! Stay tuned!

Bracelets of hope in an El Salvadoran prison

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The plans had been for us to speak at a university while in San Salvador. We had made a nice slide presentation about purity and were looking forward to the opportunity to share our message with college students.

But as I should have learned by now, things don’t always go according to plans and we learned Thursday night that we wouldn’t be speaking there after all. I was a little disappointed but assumed that God had other plans for us. We were given the choice between staying at home while the rest of the team did the medical clinic at the girls’ prison or joining them and finding something to do. That was an easy choice.  We decided to go back to prison.

I can honestly say I was looking forward to going back to prison. Wow, that is a strange sentence I never expected to write!

Beth Anne and I scrambled Thursday night brainstorming about what we could do with the girls in prison. We had enjoyed such a precious time with them the day before, what else we do with these girls given the restrictions and the limited time and resources we had available? The Lord, always faithful, gave me an idea, something I had seen American girls do and with a quick google search, our plans were underway.

At the prison, while everyone else on our team organized the medical aspect of our visit, BA and I got permission to meet with another group of girls, those serving much longer sentences than the ones we had seen the day before.

As we gathered around a table, with prison guards patrolling the grounds right outside the gated windows and a steady breeze wafting through the open air walls, we were blessed to share our message with them.

I even saw a few guards peeking in to hear our presentation. These girls were a little tougher and wilder than the last batch but seemed genuinely interested in hearing about “pureza” (purity) and having a fresh start through Christ.

After we were finished we asked the girls, “Do you want to do a little project?” “Si!” they all shouted.

At first I was going to just tell the girls that we were going to make some little bracelets but then I got an inspiration and with a quick nudge to BA, I said, “Would you like to make bracelets of esperanza?”

Esperanza means hope and I think it’s such a beautiful word, in Spanish. Even more excitedly the girls said, “Si!” I was encouraged already!

So this is what we did.

First we dipped little strips of cotton material in water. Once wet, we placed the strips on the table and began rolling the strips diagonally.

It was great how the Lord supplied all our needs because in addition to having plenty of fabric around the house the night before, we also found a bunch of beads and brought them along with us to the prison.

After the girls had rolled their fabric all up, they began adding beads to their bracelets of hope. I told these El Salvadorian girls that I saw a lot of American girls wearing these in the States.

They intently worked on their bracelets and even Font sizecame up with a few cool variations. I loved seeing their individuality expressed in their bracelets and they even made bracelets of hope for their friends and some family. They worked nicely together and were very kind and respectful to us. Even the toughest and hardest of people still deserve a fresh start.

When we finished, we asked if we could take their pictures. We were forbidden to take pictures of the girls’ faces but this was not a problem, we simply took pictures of their hands.

If you look at this picture below, you will see an old, white hand with a thin, silver wedding band on one finger.

It’s the hand without a watch and um, that hand belongs to me ;).

The reason I placed my hands there is one of the girls was embarrassed about her hands. I’m not sure what had happened to them but she had dark blue markings or burnings on her knuckles. It would have scared me in the real world!

I didn’t want her excluded from the picture and so desperately wanted a picture with her, I offered her a solution. I put my hands over hers so no one would see them. All of our hands are over a piece of paper where I wrote:

Esperanza = Hope

It was one of many bittersweet moments I experienced in the prison. Check out the lemon in the picture. Apparently the girls like to eat lemons!

One by one, the girls placed the bracelets of esperanza on each other.

They made them for all the members of our team.

I have many new pieces of jewelry at home that I rarely wear but since returning home from El Salvador, with a few minor exceptions, I haven’t taken my bracelet of esperanza off my wrist.

A meager bracelet made only of a small swatch of fabric and a few cheap plastic beads is among my most treasured possessions.

Spending time in prison


P1010271When I thought about the things I wanted to do in my life, going to an El Salvadoran girls’ prison never made it to the list. Tahiti, yes. A really cool place in France where there are houses carved in the mountains, absolutely. Montana, very high on my list.

P1010263But seriously, an El Salvadoran girls’ prison, let’s face it, nowhere near the top thousand. But I have experienced two of the most emotional and tender days of my life and I would say every Christian mother needs to visit an El Salvadoran prison.

It’s almost an insult to even try to explain all that I have seen, heard and felt because all words are lacking.


bookshelf at the prison

We entered the locked doors and teenage girls some as young as 13 began en- thusiastically greeting us. Beth Anne and I along with our wonderful translator Lulu went upstairs into the stark meeting room and the girls practically jumped for joy! It was a pretty cool to see girls so happy to see us.

About a week ago, I did something else rather unexpected. I put some blue highlights in my hair! Think the colors of a parakeet and you have a fairly good idea what it looks like. I did it on a whim and just decided to go for it.

Members of my own family, (AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) 😉 have not approved of this decision but I seriously have been wanting to do it for a while. I dyed just about 10% of my entire head…now I know why I did it. The girls in the El Salvadoran prison have LOVED it! We have definitely bonded over my stylish coif.

They have found my blue (azule) hair VERY beautiful and maybe even glamorous! So take that everyone else who hasn’t found it especially “bonita,” y’all I’ve been workin’ it at the El Salvadoran girls’ prison!

We all placed our hands around the basketball before leaving.

We all placed our hands around the basketball before leaving.

We shared our message about hope and purity. In the middle of the presentation, the mood in the room became so precious, so sweet. Beth Anne, Lulu the translator and I were talking about the infinite love of God. His grace. His mercy. His forgiveness.

If you could have seen these girls, some serving sentences for extortion and other crimes, wiping tears from their eyes, you would have been as emotional as we were. We told them that despite all the things that they have done, and quite honestly we have done, Jesus loves us and died for our sins. There was a hush in the prison walls.

Here we were, behind bars, in a prison, with young criminals and we had the humble privilege of telling these girls that THIS place could become a place of hope and freedom because of Jesus. Lulu had to stop translating for a moment, she was so overcome with God’s presence. Tears were streaming down our faces and there was love overflowing. Even the prison guards were touched by the message as we also told these ladies that Jesus loved them.

We couldn’t take pictures of the girls’ faces but in a moment of creativity, we found a way around it. We took pictures of feet! Our feet among their feet!

And we took pictures of our hands. Our hands embracing their hands. The white hands holding the little brown hands. The women who were free to leave this prison among the girls who were going to stay.

P1010277We took pictures of our shadows. Our shadows among theirs. We took pictures with our backs to the camera with all of our arms around each other. It will be among my most treasured photos. As soon as I come home I will post the photos. You’ve got to see them.

What am I doing here? I do not deserve to be in a place like this. It is too beautiful, too moving and yet the Lord has brought me to this place for such a time as this. I am deeply, profoundly, eternally humbled.

Every Christian mother needs to spend time in an El Salvadoran prison. Put it on your list.

El Salvador, Day Three

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We awoke this morning to the sounds of barking dogs and cooing pigeons. A brisk breeze blowed throughout our house and slammed many doors which caused us all to jump. It was our second day on the mission field and we were ready for an active day!

Our intention was to do a medical clinic at the girl’s prison but the Lord had different plans for this day. We all wore colorful scrubs and although Cindy begged Beth Anne to wear the especially attractive orange scrub pants, she flatly refused and we still had fun. A boy’s orphanage and a girl’s prison were in close proximity to each other. Gaggles of boys ran and played and I saw one with a thin strip of demin serving as a belt along with many boys cavorting shoeless around in the dirt. As we entered the prison, we soon learned that the girls had other activities for the day and we would be unable to serve them. Although we were disappointed, the director graciously showed us around the prison. Teenage girls warmly greeted us and despite our very limited Spanish, we were able to show them kindness.

I can’t imagine a group of foreigners getting a tour of a girl’s detention center in the States. The sign-in process was as easy as writing our names and signatures on an old piece of paper. We observed the dorms where both the short-term and girls serving longer sentences were lodged. 

In general, the prison was clean. Some girls were making crafts in one room, others were busy sewing. 

Although the highlight for many of us was going to the market and shopping for souvenirs later in the afternoon, I think for Reba, her prayers were answered when she saw Lissethe. In July, Reba and Lissethe met for the first time. They connected when Lissethe learned that Reba had a tattoo. 

Tattoos are a big gang symbol and Lissethe was “all tatted” up as we say in the States. Reba just has a little blue hummingbird on her back in memory of her father. However, that served a very holy purpose. These two connected in an explicable and God ordained way and the Lord would use that tattoo as a bridge to bring Lissethe to Jesus. Reba was instrumental in leading Lissethe to a saving grace in Jesus Christ. As they said their goodbyes, Reba told her that she woudl return and Lissethe clasped Reba’s hand and said, “Promise?”

Upon arriving back home in North Carolina, Reba sent Lissethe a letter. She even had it translated to offer this girl encouragement but it never arrived. The person who was supposed to give it to her, misplaced this precious message.

Imagine Lissethe’s surprise when she looked up from her sewing machine this morning and through the bars saw her beloved Reba! When we were allowed into the sewing room, they embraced and the rest of us met the other girls. It was a sweet fellowship for all especially Reba, alleluia! Lord willing, we will return to ISNA in Soyobongo on Thursday to further interact with the girls. Beth Anne and I feel the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share our message, we shall see.  

So much more to share, many blessings. Glory to God in the highest!