Five minute Friday – notice

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

you are like a gallbladder

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

I wanted to remember my place.

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

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

especially since my son was getting married in a foreign country

Yikes, the struggle is/was real…

Totally out of my comfort in a place unfamiliar

Lacking close friends and extended family
It was a lonely place

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

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

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

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

She pulled me aside and blessed me with these words,

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

Oh my word.

She noticed… 5

Little, insignificant African Violet gown dressed me.

In spite of a raging root canal infection developing

In spite of her own emotions and needs

Kelsie was there for me…

We sat together, observed the Salvadoran wedding ceremony,

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

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

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

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

I’m one blessed gall bladder.

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

Summer words

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


The smell of freshly mown grass

The perfume of chlorophyll and Copper Tone

Feet on vacation – released from sneakers and school

Run towards the misty prism arch

Skip over the sprinklers



Droplets of water glisten my back

Fingers catch the sun

And later a few fireflies

…carefree girl20140619-151229-54749522.jpg


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


A son sees his bride for the very first time –

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photo 1To see a groom behold his bride for the very first time

That moment when they first lay eyes on each other

It’s hard not to cry, isn’t it? Heck, I’m verklempt even watching Say Yes to the Dress and I’ve only personally known one bride that’s ever been on that show! Click here to watch the episode!

Yet to my surprise, when my middle olive shoot saw his beloved last Saturday morning in a church tucked away in verdant Pennsylvania

Tears escaped me as it happened in front of my eyes

Not that I didn’t find it precious and a bit surreal

But when I stood watching my son prepare to turn and step into the day and the role of husband

Times we had prayed for all these years – both just with him and as a family

It would have been wrong to cry because I just felt joyphoto 2

Uncle Alan directed the photo shoot which kept the mood light which helped, thank you, kind sir!

Now, however…

Even after making this simple video,

photo 3It’s like after Thanksgiving dinner

When everyone is gone and I put on my pj’s. I pile my plate high with food – turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie, whipped cream. That’s my moment when I truly savor the meal minus any other responsibilities.

Now I’m able to soak up all the deliciousness

The quietude allows me to absorb it all.

Less than 60 seconds

I watch over and over again, my heart full of gratitude…

How about you? A special wedding moment you observed or experienced? I’d love to hear your stories and share the bliss!





I’m having a FOOT fit

Chico's parents prepared a delicious Brazilian meal for us. Oh how I wanted to be in the kitchen helping!

Chico’s parents prepared a delicious Brazilian meal for us. Oh how I wanted to be in the kitchen helping!

The doctor told me that it would take seven weeks to heal from the foot surgery. He didn’t pull any punches or sugarcoat the news but somehow I under estimated the recovery.

It’s interesting the things we hear and the things we ignore.

I heard SEVEN weeks, and thought, “Oh I can do that, no problem!”

But I failed to think that SEVEN weeks breaks down to

49 days and nights

about 1,176 hours

or 70,560 minutes (if my calculations are correct)


of inactivity and/or pain.

A brief moment out of the foot boot enjoying flowers given to me by Ike and Caleb

A brief moment out of the foot boot enjoying flowers given to me by Ike and Caleb

Often it’s like I’m just counting down the time, longing to put both feet on the ground and move forward – physically and mentally.

Since it’s my right foot, I am truly sidelined.

I'd rather be sewing...

I’d rather be sewing…

I can’t drive and almost even worse, I can’t sew. I made a Christmas quilt and walked four miles in one day just traipsing back and forth ironing the piece and putting it together. Now I’m adrift in inertia. As someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time inactive, I’m very challenged right now. In many ways, I feel completely worthless.

And to add further misery, while wearing the orthopedic boot, I developed a shin splint which has resulted in even more time in bed or stuck on a couch. I feel like I’m not progressing at all but instead going backward.

It’s not an entirely blob-like existence. I’m reading Don Quixote, doing my Bible study, praying for others, maintaining prayer journals for my future daughters-in-love, these are useful good things. I’m also folding clothes, doing an occasional chore but nonetheless I don’t feel like me. I guess I didn’t expect a cheilectomy and removal of some screws in my foot to result in such a season of purposelessness. My friends are visiting, in fact people from two different countries have graciously made dinners for us, it’s lovely but I’m accustomed to doing stuff, being an active participant in life.

What are ways that you feel productive when you’re unable to do the things you love? I know I’m not the only one that’s faced this challenge!

My family phoenix


34I am proud of us.

This five-piece puzzle that we have called ourselves has shown strength and faith in the face of great sadness and loss. Last year, my father-in-law was a significant member of our family, this year, that all changed.

But instead of falling apart, our family persevered. We nearly curled inward, it would have been understandable. But we all have done the opposite. We chose hope. Not always, not perfectly. Yet we risked rejection and kept our hearts open. I am proud of us.

UnknownAs a junior in college, I attended l’universite de Caen in Normandy, France. Founded in 1432, the university was destroyed in 1944. Most of the town was also decimated, in fact, the home where I lived still had bullet holes in the stone wall from a fire fight during the Invasion.

At the entrance to the school, a sculpture entitled “The Phoenix” welcomed all. Many days I strolled past this statue but never really appreciated its beauty or significance until now.

For some reason I remember that monument and connect it my present day life.35

The morning before Thanksgiving, my family gathered together. An impromptu gluten-free brunch of pupusas (a popular Salvadoran dish) and pão de queijo (a delicious Brazilian cheese bread) filled the kitchen with warmth and flavor.

Around the table, I saw people I never expected to be here. One person, in fact, I didn’t even know existed until about three months ago.

There sat~

– A handsome borrowed Brazilian son

– A Salvadorena future daughter-in-love

– A gluten-free future daughter-in-love

photo 4And beside them, all holding hands sat

a Soldier preparing to be deployed a few days later

– a ministry-minded middle and

– an orange hair, freckle face olive shoot.

We bowed our heads to pray and I tried not to cry. Happy tears filled my eyes.

How did I get so blessed?

Look at this food!

Behold these people!

I scarcely could take it in as the Hubs led us in prayer. The Lord gives and He takes away. There weren’t five of us. There now were EIGHT.

In a way, that breakfast was a symbol of our phoenix, our human sculpture of grace and resilience.

Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, deception and greed have not defeated us. What Satan intended for evil, the Lord has used for good. Though we do not forget and still grieve, our family has created new connections and love.

Across the miles, continents and cultures, hearts still remain strong.

That touchy subject of mothers-in-law, what can we do differently and better?


Thanks to all who read Hannah’s guest blog post about being a good mother-in-law.

Old girl speaks to her younger self and to anyone else who cares to listen

Old girl speaks to her younger self and to anyone else who cares to listen

It was one of my most popular posts.

But it’s interesting.

While many seemed to read the post, there were a lot less comments. I’m not blaming anyone. I get it.

You see, my own MIL relationship was complex. If blogging existed many years ago, I might have added my own stories. But my MIL Ruth died 17 years ago, my stories are limited, now seasoned with time.

In the bathtub prior to her passing, I wrote my MIL’s eulogy and on that cold February day in a Lutheran church in Peru, Indiana, I attempted to speak words of appreciation through my grief. I loved her and still miss her. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.

As the mama of three olive shoots and no daughters, I want to do it right. I realize it’s not totally up to me but I want to do all I can to facilitate the relationship.

Sadly, many women even in the church, women that I love and admire in many ways, they roll their eyes when speaking about their MILs. It’s like picking an open, festering sore when I ask for advice. Such hurt and pain. Godly, Jesus loving ladies speak with disdain about their MIL and this prospect frightens me. What can I do differently?

Wedding day with a very large headpiece!

So here’s my stab at what I wish my older Cindy would have told the new bride Cindy. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1. Remember your mother-in-law is trying – She wants you to love her and like her. She’s going to make some mistakes, so will you. Remember this lady birthed your husband and she wants to be in your life.

2. Don’t take everything so personally – It’s hard being a new bride but don’t make

Ruth was a pretty bride! Love seeing old pictures!

things more complicated. Maybe she wasn’t trying to make a nasty dig at you, maybe it was not a poorly veiled hint that you are in- competent.  Give her a break.

3. Ask her to help you with something – Allow yourself to obtain instruction. Here’s an example, my MIL knew how to use a pressure cooker, she bought me one but I never used it. She bought me a cast iron pan which I really wish I would have kept. Let her assist you in something, it’s not a sign of weakness.

One of the few pictures we have of Ruth holding Aaron.

One of the few pictures we have of Ruth holding Aaron.

4. Listen to her life story – She has some wisdom. Appreciate the journey she has traveled. Glean from her victories and sorrows. It will give you a glimpse into her heart when you know her story.

5. Apologize – You’re not always wrong, she’s not always right. Extend grace and when there is a struggle, talk it over in a loving manner if possible. Your husband will be blessed that he wasn’t put in the middle. Your MIL wants your approval, you probably crave hers – MILs can be insecure.

6. Thank her – The Hubs, then only a fiancé was napping in the family room. I was sitting on the shag carpet, she on that miserable, uncomfortable couch when I said, “Thank you for raising such a good man. Although he will be my husband, I want you to know, he will always be your son.” I meant that. It was my intention to be the wife, not replace her as another mother. Ew.

My widowed father-in-law lives nearby and occasionally I will still thank him for raising such a good man, I want him to know how much I appreciate the way the Hubs turned out.

Truth is, life was difficult for my mother-in-law. It was hard seeing her struggle.

Truth is, life was difficult for my mother-in-law. It was hard seeing her struggle.

7. Pray for her – I married her son prior to my spiritual conversion to Christianity. This presented a problem when my MIL overstepped her boundaries in a very sensitive area of our lives. It didn’t go well and that’s putting it mildly. I remember searching for Bible verses to use in responding to a foolish letter she had sent me. Dumb. I was hurt and she shouldn’t have gone there. I wish I had prayed for her more. She needed it in many ways.

8. Encourage your husband to communicate with her – I must say this was something I was skilled at even early in our marriage. I wanted a good relationship with my in-laws and prodded the Hubs to contact his parents regularly. When Ruth was fighting terminal cancer, I urged him to go home often even when though we had a temperamental newborn. I don’t regret that aspect of our relationship whatsoever.

This is my partial list, what first came to my mind. Teach me, friends! I want to learn!

Questions – So what am I missing? What else is there to learn? Do you identify with any of my reflections?

Truth is, as a mom I’m not a straight A student…a parent report card from my kid

This picture might indicate a lack of parental perfection.

Two people trying to do this thing right .

When it comes to parenting, I’m not perfect.

I’ll wait for a moment while you take that in. I know it’s difficult to imagine.

As long as you don’t ask my kids, the previous statement should have shocked you.

But look at this.

It’s a parenting report card filled out by my orange hair, freckle face olive shoot back in 2007.

Here is my parent report card from my youngest olive shoot.

Here is my parent report card from my youngest olive shoot.

I so wish I could remember the name of the book where I discovered this idea. For my family, it’s been a gem assignment.

With no advance notice, we would print copies of the blank report card for our olive shoots to complete. Prior to our report card day, I didn’t load the guys up with yummy desserts and new electronics, the objective was to be honest. Usually I’d just tell the Hubs it was report card time for us.

P1010749Aren’t you curious to know what your kids would say about you?

After returning the completed the report cards to us, the Hubs and I would chuckle and compare notes. “Oh, yes you DO do that!” we’d scold each other and do our best to impose guilt and shame upon one another. That is a sign of a strong marriage, btw.

Then sheepishly we’d gather together to discuss the results.

To give you an idea as to how our olive shoots approached this task, they often wanted to apologize for not being able to give us a higher grade. It’s like we all entered a safe and sacred place. Never did I find our kids were wise in their own eyes in this instance. The Hubs and I were assessed on our parenting prowess. We took the feedback and tried to do better.

And there were recurrent themes, for instance, apparently I yell. For the record, the Hubs is inconsistent.

But, hey I am good at keeping things fun and got an A+ for building family traditions.

Ike didn't miss the chance to speak the truth in love and safety.

Ike didn’t miss the chance to speak the truth in love and safety.

On one level, it’s wildly amusing.

On another, it’s immensely humbling.

"Oh yes, I'd very much enjoy providing you with a loving and respectful assessment of your ability to parent me. Thank you for asking."

“Oh yes, I’d very much enjoy providing you with a loving and respectful assessment of your ability to parent me. Thank you for asking.”

I’m not a great math whiz. History was never my strong suit. I failed Political Science in college which messed my GPA up for the remainder of my college career. I shouldn’t be surprised I’m just a B average mom with spontaneous moments of greatness. That might be as good as it gets though I’ll keep trying.  It would be nice to make the A-B Parenting Honor Roll one of these days. Not gonna give up!

Question: What do you think about this idea? What do you think your kids would say? Is there anything you’d add to this list? I look forward to hearing from you!

The power of a praying proctologist

"Thank you, Sir, may I have another?"

“Thank you, Sir, may I have another?”

All of the preparations for the colonoscopy went as expected; it was what occurred moments before the actual procedure that were a surprise. I planned on writing about my colonoscopy experience in an effort to help others but I KNEW I was going to write when my doctor surprised me.

As the medical team wheeled me into the area, we engaged in pleasant conversation. After all this time, things were finally ready. A sterile piece of equipment was soon headed where no man had trodden asunder.

But before the doctor began the colonoscopy, my doctor did the craziest thing.

He prayed for me.

And it wasn’t a haphazard, “I better do this because I’m a doctor in the Bible Belt” kind of supplication.

No, quite the contrary.

Um, yeah...

Um, yeah…

Instead, he gently leaned over me, the room grew still and he kindly placed his hands on me and prayed. As the words flowed out of his mouth, I remember distinctly feeling that this guy meant what he said.

Though there was a very embarrassing aspect of what was going to happen next, this man was caring for another part of me that was even more raw and I wouldn’t have thought that possible. It was my heart, the spiritual beating of my soul.

I didn’t feel like I was in a revival which is hilarious considering I was getting a colonoscopy and those things don’t usually go together. Nor did I sense that he was scared about what he was going to do so he had to ask Jesus for help. Instead I sensed humility, reverence and respect. He recognized that he was being entrusted with a special task. Our previous conversations have basically dealt with far more temporal matters, wink, wink. As I lay there on the table, I thought, “Thank you God. No matter what, this is going to be ok.”

And while I recognize that some people might find this whole praying notion super weird, for me, I wanted to sing with joy.

Before drifting into a fuzzy vapor, I declared, “You have no idea what a comfort your prayer was to me. Why didn’t I know this about you before? I’m going to tell all the ladies in my Bible Study about you!”

Then his assistant talked to me about Chicago cuisine.




Oh yes, what a glorious day! Bring on the colonoscopy!

And then poof, the procedure was done and I was awake. As if the experience couldn’t get more wonderful, I dreamt about Justin Bieber. Not even joking.

So here I sit praising God that I can sit.

I rejoice that my test results weren’t just good, y’all they were “EXCELLENT.” Every aspect of the tests were EXCELLENT! #shablam #eatgreenthings

As the medication wore off and the doctor spoke to my husband, over and over again, I said, “You have no idea what your prayer did for me. Thank you. This was the BEST COLONOSCOPY EVER!”



Pass this post onto someone you love who needs a colonoscopy. Tell them that yes, it’s awkward, unpleasant and a basically big giant poo-fest but s/he can do it. I did and I’m a wimp. I hope I kept it real but not real gross. God does show up in the strangest and most amazing places.