Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Kudos to you bloggers out there that are able to consistently post during the holidays. I've been swamped with projects and family stuff. My mom was in the hospital for four days and that was a bummer. Thankfully she's home but since my last blog, I've been sewing and creating, cleaning, cooking, working, complaining, planning and everything in between.

We also went to the Army/Navy game. Thanks to nine layers of clothing and two blankets, I was able to enjoy the event despite our big loss to Navy. 

Hopefully by this evening, my oldest OS will be home. I was watching Good Morning America yesterday morning and they were discussing the weather. "A winter storm is blanketing the Midwest and the Northeast today with snow up to 10 inches in some areas..." It's interesting how weather events become personal. I looked at the map and knew someone I loved was trapped. My heart sunk. 

Our OS was leaving West Point, catching a flight from Stewart Airport to Detroit and despite the cheery voices on GMA, I knew my boy wasn't coming home on Friday night. He was going from a place of snow (West Point) to another place of even more snow (Detroit). How ironic because at the same time in our neck of the woods, we had the windows open and our other OS were in shorts! While driving, I even had to put on the AC! How crazy is that?!

I had warned Nate that he would soon experience snow in proportions the likes of which he had never known. I was hoping it would have waited until January but that was not to be. After four years at West Point, I'm sure Nate will have wracked up many winter stories which he can embellish for his own kids one day beginning with his travels back home for the holidays as a lowly plebe. As soon as the bus arrived at Stewart Airport and learned flights had been cancelled, our plebe was back on the bus returning to West Point for the night. 

I told him to make sure he wore his uniform and to be nice and polite. He says that uniform is the most uncomfortable thing he's ever worn in his life but I chided him to remember manners on a handsome young man in a uniform can go a long way.

This morning he texted me and said it was so freezing at West Point that there was ice on his jacket! I think he's going to appreciate the warmth of our home more than ever. 

Although I am disappointed that my OS is not home yet, I am looking forward to seeing him tonight. He might be tired and grouchy but he'll be here and our five piece puzzle will be together again. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bracelets of Hope

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 could 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, especially 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. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mementos from Prison

I'm a very sentimental person. Look around my house and there's probably a story related to just about anything you find there. The picture of daisies in the dining room? My husband took when we were in Neurenburg, Germany about 15 years ago. The photo of a man with tomatoes? That was my dad. The lithographs of two horses in the family room? They were purchased in Japan and given to us by Mark's parents. I like to be surrounded by memories. It feels cozy, like a home should be. 

Last Sunday I returned to the States and I find myself missing El Salvador. I miss the strong breezes, the sweet people and the adventure of it all. A country I couldn't have identified on a globe, has now found a place in my heart. I was only there for eight days but I want to remember the time and all that the Lord allowed me to experience. Being a sentimental person, I came back with very special souvenirs. 

Which is why before Thanksgiving I had Mark do some "husband training" which is my affectionate term for what my boys will one day refer to as a "Honey Do" list. Husband training is a way he can teach our OS a few ways to help around the house and become great husbands. They see it as a pain in the butt but one day, their wives will thank me (I hope!).  I thought I'd show you a few of the new treasures that are now in my home. 

This picture is of Garfield. The picture says, "I miss you." 

This drawing says, "Thinking of you. I love you. I love you."

Yeah, these pictures aren't exactly going to be hanging in the Louvre anytime soon but I couldn't stuff them in a drawer knowing who made them and gave them to me. 

Two girls at the El Salvadorian prison gave me these drawings. They even wrote something on the back of each of these pictures! We were not permitted to take pictures of the girls' faces so we got creative. 

Each time I look at these drawings, I will remember to pray for these girls facing long sentences and difficult choices. I wept as each of these girls lovingly presented their humble gifts to me. 
Now I have remembrances of them in my home. 

My friend and fellow traveler, Beth Anne, was given a little washrag from one of the prisoners. It had a little cartoon on the cloth and might have been one of the girl's favorite washrags, maybe even her only one, but this girl wanted to give BA something. BA has already threatened her husband saying, "I don't care how cheesy this might look, we are going to hang this washrag up in our apartment!" I think she's going to shadow box it which would be pretty cool. Until then, she will have a washrag hanging on her wall and that's that. 

I also have a favorite wrist and that's because since my return I've been wearing three bracelets I received from Salvador (as I often heard the natives say) which is probably like us saying "the States" as opposed to the United States of America. Our sweet, sweet translator Lulu gave me the red bracelet, a lady from a women's conference gave me the leather bracelet which she took off her wrist and put on mine and the third, well that's a bracelet of hope. I can't wait to tell you about the bracelets of hope. It's on my list of things to share but if I make this post too long, I'll lose your attention. 

If you see my left wrist, ask me! If you see anything in my house, get ready for a story! Tell me yours too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Memory of an Incredible Man

Today's post is in memory of a precious man of God who loved his family and served his Lord to the very end. Strangely I never met him in person but came to know him through my blog. His valiant fight with cancer ended today and I feel honored to in some very small way to have known this man and his amazing family. 

Although Jim probably wasn't a perfect guy (because there has only been one of them and His name is Jesus), Pastor Jim had his priorities in order. Jesus. Family. Others. He seemed to live his life pouring out the love of Christ to his family and others. Even when unable to respond with words, he would still wink at his wife as the cancer spread through his body. Please pray for his family as they grieve and adjust to life without their husband, dad, son and brother in their lives. May God remind them that He has placed each one of their tears on His scroll. 

Here is a link to Jim's blog. If you are struggling today and need a proper perspective or if you just want to meet a really amazing person who will inspire you, a few minutes on is worth your time. Have Kleenex nearby. 

Thank you, Jim for the impact you had on my life. My family has held hands and prayed for you so many times. I had hoped to meet you in person but I will look forward to seeing you in heaven. I pray Merrily and I will meet and hug and cry in person one day. Surely you are hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant." 

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Day to Remember

Amazing things I have done in the last 24 hours:

Washed my hands in hot water

Immersed my entire body a shower and was able to step away from the experience without being emotionally traumatized due to the freezing temperature

Walked on carpet

Saw a little bit of television

Heard some music I could understand

Wore a seatbelt

Kissed my husband

Snuggled with my boys

Missed a beautiful country and special friends

I am very tired and immeasurably blessed with so much more to share, stay tuned...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Spending Time In Prison

When I thought about the things I wanted to do in my life, going to an El Salvadorian 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. But seriously, an El Salvadorian 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 Salvadorian girls' prison. 

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

We entered the locked doors and teenage girls some as young as 13 began enthusiastically 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 I know why I did it. The girls in the El Salvadorian 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 Salvadorian girls' prison! 

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. 

We 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 Salvadorian prison. Put it on your list.

Monday, November 17, 2008

El Salvador, Day Three

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!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mi Cabeza Esta Loca! - My head is crazy

With no time to blog, I am already shaking my head in disbelief and I haven't even boarded the plane to El Salvador. Adventures have already begun...

I went to FedEx/Kinko's to make copies of my passport this evening. I haven't stopped moving since this morning, it's ridiculous how much I need to do before tomorrow at 4am.

After running many errands, I returned home and began arranging my suitcase with all the junk I'm bringing. My husband was on his cell phone talking to our oldest OS at West Point. Lorraine, the missionary we will be visiting, called from El Salvador on our home phone. As she was talking to my husband, I heard my husband saying to Lorraine, "Bring your passport." Apparently this was in response to something Lorraine had said on the other line.

So that got me to thinking...where is my passport? "Hmmm, I wonder where that little passport of mine is located?" I thought to myself. And thusly, I began shuffling and rifling through everything, I got this sick feeling. My search soon turned frantic when I realized that I had two copies of my passport but the original was not among the stack of papers I had with me from FedEx/Kinko's.

I'd like to say I gently spoke to my DH and requested his help but that would be a lie. I FREAKED OUT! I'M BOARDING A PLANE IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS AND MY PASSPORT IS GONE! GAAAAAAA!

The time was 8:14pm and I knew for sure that the FedEx/Kinko's was closed and my year long prayer to go to El Salvador was not going to happen. This particular store is located in a less traveled part of town, there was no way they would be open. I was doomed. 

But I was wrong! Mark called the FedEx/Kinko's and to my amazement, a human person answered the phone. They were still open! When he inquired if they had found a passport, the guy said someone else found it:


Without delay, we raced over and it was like seeing an old friend as I kissed my beautiful passport and praised the Lord for this small miracle. Y'all, the store closes at 9pm. I had only 46 minutes to retrieve that passport before I would have created a whole lot of trouble for myself and others. Maybe even had to cancel the trip! The way I see it, the Lord put all these pieces together and reacquainted me with that precious document with little time to spare. There is no other reasonable explanation. I am still shaking my head in disbelief at my own stupidity and forgetfulness and even more so at the awesome God I serve.

Mi cabeza esta loca that's for sure! I'm leaving on a jet plane,

Here I am Lord, send me!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Open Letter to the Military

To all those who served in the military,

I am sorry that I used to overlook Veteran's Day.
I apologize for being annoyed when I didn't get mail because November 11th is a federal holiday. It doesn't bother me anymore. 

Or forgetting to fly our flag, it has been waving proudly on our porch since last night.

I wish I would have told more of you "thank you" a long
time ago but I am now the mama of a Soldier and you deserved my appreciation before then. 

Now I see your Veteran's hats and your license plates and my heart is beginning to understand.

I notice the bumper stickers of parents of military service people and I want to jump out of my mini-van and tell them I am learning what this means.

My life and this day will never be the same.

Thank you for your sacrifice to defend our freedom.

God bless you for being away from your family, friends and the comforts of  home.

For those birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, even just regular days when you are not surrounded by the people who love you, I am humbled whenever I consider what that must be like for you. 

Thank you for being able to serve our country whether you like the president or voted for him. I didn't realize that until my own child put it into perspective. 

Thank you for going to places most of us would never want to live or visit. 

I confess that I might have still remained ignorant about all these things if my son hadn't joined the Army.

You have done your job for your country and all the people in it. Including those completely support your endeavors and those who scoff at your service, those who would never have the courage to give everything up for a cause greater than themselves.

Until my own son made an oath to serve his country and I saw him in his uniform, 

I was naive.

But not anymore, and that is a good thing,

I just needed to tell you this from the bottom of my mama's heart.

Thank you.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Going to a Cat Party

While our oldest OS was getting buzzed through the air by a B-52 bomber thanks to the Army/Air Force game last Saturday, the rest of us attended a cat party. Yes, you read correctly, cat party. 

Nathan was walking on post at West Point when all of the sudden, the autumn air was pierced with the sounds overhead as the B-52 tore through the sky.
And 800 miles away, we sat at out on our neighbor's deck and "celebrated" the return of their beloved cat, "Taylor" (not his actual name).

Even though Army lost, I think Nate had a better time than we did. It was our first cat party and there were several rather awkward moments. The strangest thing was when our neighbor joyfully announced, "We have our son back!" He made this remark stroking his furry pet as his human son stood nearby. I think Taylor brings more happiness to this man than his own child. Priorities, anyone? 

This event has allowed us an opportunity to speak about God and His unfailing love. Upon first learning of Taylor's sudden disappearance, I immediately called our neighbors and offered our thoughts. We knew they cared a lot about their cats and assumed this was a big shock to them. A bit of mystery still brews about exactly what happened to Taylor and his disappearance. They are convinced it was the result of their arch enemies aka, the neighbors across the street, but that doesn't make much sense to me.

Anyway, the husband came over a little later and told me how deeply touched they were by our kind thoughts. I told him we were sincerely sorry to hear about Taylor and said that we were praying for them.

A couple days later, the neighbor dropped by again. As he was talking to my husband, I ushered him to our kitchen and pointed to our blackboard. On the blackboard, I had listed a variety of people we were praying for. I wanted him to see his family's name prominently placed on the board. I had no idea he was coming over so I didn't secretly write their name or anything like that. It had been there all along. I distinctly remember our neighbor being very moved by this and for a moment, I thought he was going to cry. 

I told him that God cared about everything, even things the world would deem trivial, He still cared. It blows me away when I think that there is a Lord who cares about about every aspect of us.

Which includes the owners of Taylor, the cat

And this country I'll be in, Lord willing, this time next week

And an imperfect sinner like me.

All reasons to celebrate and rejoice this day! Remember this the next time you're invited to a cat party or have a B-52 overhead, both of which I hope don't happen to you anytime soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Here are some fun things we got Ike for his 12th birthday!

I found this awesome book, "You Gotta Be Kidding!" by Randy Horn. It is a crazy book of "would you rather" questions. 

Would you rather...
Turn into a fly 
turn into a cockroach?

Would you rather...
Have no teeth and try to eat a big bowl of caramel popcorn
try to eat four bagels?

Would you rather...
Get poison ivy all over your rear end
between all your fingers and toes? 

Out of all the gifts we gave our youngest OS, so far this book seems to be the gift he likes the most. Ike completely grossed me out as we drove to my nephew Jon's 3rd birthday party. Anytime a 12 year old can repulse his mom is a good day. Although I can usually keep pace with my three OS in the gross department, I must say You Gotta Be Kidding pushed me to the limit. By the time we arrived, I had more than a day's worth of disgusting questions about spit and pus. It was fun though, I think it will elicit some interesting dinnertime conversations!

Then Ike got a new CD collection of Adventures in Odyssey stories. 
You should listen to this wonderful series of radio programs by Focus on the Family. Ike learns Biblical truth in an entertaining and educational way and whenever I join him, I always find a fresh word from the Lord. They aren't preachy or lecturing, they are humorous and truly worthwhile. You can also listen to the series on the radio with this link. Ike does this all the time, too!

And I found this travel version of Hang Man for Ike. It is a wooden game with an erasable whiteboard and self-storing dry-erase marker. It should be cool to use when we make longer car rides and I'm hoping Ike will let me borrow this for my trip to El Salvador on Nov. 15th.

Mark was out of town on Ike's birthday but being the great daddy he is, he wrote on a card for his boy. In the card, Mark included a handmade coupon entitling Isaac to his all-time favorite dinner. Crab legs. Isaac has been asking for crab legs since the last time he had them. I think if our growing boy actually paid for crab legs, he would ask less often!

So after eating pizza and birthday cake at Jon's b-day, we went to Sam's Club and I purchased $47 worth of giant Alaskan king crab legs. We gorged on the ocean's delectable treasures. 

Sounds like a fitting way to celebrate our sweet boy! Psalm 127:3 "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him." 

Busy, busy

I'm so sick of political ads, aren't you?  Thankfully we have digital cable so I can tape my favorite tv shows. I can watch those programs while fast forwarding through all the commercials, especially the political ones. I am ready for this whole thing to be done, that's for sure. 

But yesterday was so busy, none of the politicians had a chance of getting a minute of my time. It was Isaac's 12th birthday and I had plenty to do. First I picked up sub sandwiches for my guys and dropped them off for lunch. Aaron announced to his friends that I was the best mom of the day so I had that going for me!

Then I went grocery shopping at Trader's Joes. I behaved myself very nicely, didn't drop salt on anyone's head but while on my way to the next errand, I witnessed a car accident.  A woman was taking a left turn and she veered into a street sign on the median. Crystal, (that was the young woman's name), ran over the sign and then her car stopped in a small hill. Her car was dangerously blocking traffic and I gasped. As soon as I could, I immediately stopped my car right by hers to make sure she was ok. I was afraid someone could crash into my car but I was more concerned about her. She was fine but very shaken up. I called the police, she said she didn't need an ambulance and I stayed with her. Apparently her sunglasses dropped and when she tried to retrieve them, she lost control of her car. The street sign toppled over like a popsicle stick. We sat on the curb and I prayed softly for her. I left after telling the police officer about the accident. Crystal had moved to our town for a new start. I told her that she could still find a new start despite this accident. We hugged, I told her I would pray for her. 

Although Crystal's car (actually it was her boyfriend's dad's car = awkward) would be classified as a beater, to our mutual surprise, her car was drivable

Then I continued on my quest to find my delicious, freckle-face 12 year old boy the perfect birthday presents, the subject of my next blog post. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 20, 2008


I'm feeling old today. Old and dumb. 

I went to the doctor and got a steroid/lidocaine shot in my knee because of arthritis pain. 

Plus my face looks old and weary. I need to go back to the gym. 

And my poor son has been trying for TWO days to help me install AIM via cell phone conversations and we are having no luck! Praise the Lord, Nate has been patient with me but it has been a VERY frustrating experience with very little progress. 

It's times like this that I feel pretty badly about myself.

So I'll try and concentrate on my morning. After taking the guys to school, I went grocery shopping. This time my experience at the grocery store did not involve projectile salt or on a foot scooter! Thank goodness! While there I had an encounter with the lady at the deli counter which ended much better than it began. I don't seem to have a lot of luck at the deli counter. At the risk of sounding very prejudice, I find that people who work with lunch meat to generally have very lousy attitudes. 

I fearfully approached the deli counter having noticed that its normal hours of operation are 9am-9pm. I was an hour early. The lady looked up and half-heartedly asked me if I needed something. Trepedaciously (ew, big word!), I asked her if she wouldn't mind helping me even though I was an hour early. Her curt reply was, "what do you want?" Allrighty then, I said to myself and cautiously ordered a half pound of ham off the bone.

But something inside of me wasn't content to leave our connection in such a miserable way and so I persisted in engaging her in conversation. It was risky but we pressed on discussing the chilly weather, the terrible economy, etc. 

As I placed another order, this time for a half-pound of provolone cheese, I offered her a word of encouragement. "Even though the economy is bad and it seems like a lot of scary things are happening, let me tell you what our pastor preached on yesterday. Our preacher told us that in spite of all this uncertainty, God is."

Her whole attitude changed and as then I ordered a quarter pound of pancetta. Pancetta for minestrone tonight!  Two semi-thick slices. By the end of our conversation, I had invited her to our church and I asked for her name and she moved her apron to show me. Her name was Mary. She wanted to exchange phone numbers! Although we probably have a lot of differences on a host of issues, I was blessed to leave Mary with a smile on her face. Her entire attitude had changed.

So I need to concentrate on my encounter with Mary and NOT my wrinkles, my pain, my concerns and troubles. I need to keep my eyes on the Lord, He will fail me not. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is your room clean?

I try to keep an orderly home. Some days it is not easy and it seems like we are all slobs. And then there are bathrooms...If you have read my blog profile you know that one of my goals in life is to raise three young men who love and live for Jesus AND put the toilet seat down after using it. A girl's gotta aim high while hoping her men just aim, right? We have our good days and our bad days and our home will probably never pass the white glove test.

That is until our oldest OS began attending West Point. He will be home for Thanksgiving and I am so excited! After 18 years, our boy has finally learned to clean his room! And when I say clean, I mean, spotlessly clean!

A few weeks ago, he had a SAMI. For you non-West Point-y types, that means a super duper room inspection. I am often amused at the contrasts between having a child attending a 
military academy versus traditional college and this is a major difference. Our son's room was going to be inspected and not just spot-checked for cleanliness. Oh no, my friends, every last inch, dare I say, centimeter of his room was going to be examined.

So in uncharacteristic fashion, our son and his roommate (the other one was away visiting family), spent the entire night cleaning their room. Top to bottom. Inside and out. Not a cranny of that room was left with a speck of dirt. A dust bunny didn't have a chance, these young soldiers killed it instantly. My jaw nearly hit the floor when Nate told us that they had even cleaned in between the door hinges! Who would have thunk? 

This is what his room looked like prior to the SAMI...

And this was after the whirlwind cleaning 

I was looking forward to my boy being home for
Turkey Day but now, I am overjoyed at this new found skill and what this will mean for our family. What mother wouldn't long to put her arms around her baby boy and then give him a long list of chores he now can expertly complete? Who cares about him knowing how to throw a grenade or march in procession, at long last, I have a son who can clean! God is good! 

The Friday after Thanksgiving, while many in our country are shopping (hopefully for our economy), my husband and two other OS will be attending a mandatory cleaning class and I expect there to be some big improvements in the house as a result. 

Why just take a look at these pics. My OS slept on the floor the night before his SAMI. He went to bed at 5 in the morning and got one hour of sleep. That boy even starched his sheets! His roommate's bed was so tight, he received compliments from fellow cadets. 

If this whole West Point thing doesn't work out, I'm now totally confident our son could easily get a job at the nearest Marriott Hotel. They'd snatch that boy up in a jiffy!

I'm so glad my boy is learning now things! Can't wait to see those skills put into action. Dust bunnies, you've got until Thanksgiving, then watch out, Nate's coming back with vengeance!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trouble at Trader Joe's

My next post was supposed to be about beds or boxing...

That is until I went to Trader Joe's and accidentally dropped 26.5 ounces of salt on a lady's head.

All I wanted to do was pick up fresh basil and a few other ingredients. I had no intention of hurting anyone, especially in front of my children, that's for sure.

But that's what happened. 

A petite lady in her mid 50's wearing a brownish outfit was bent over looking at the dry active yeast packets. I wanted sea salt. Sea salt is good for you and we were running low. We were in the home stretch of our errand when I reached over to grab the salt. I could have waited for her to finish selecting her active dry yeast packets but I didn't. Suddenly, inexplicably the cylinder of sea salt slipped from my hands and landed right on the corner of the lady's head.

I was dumbstruck and embarrassed beyond mention. My boys were silent. No giggles, no nothing. I started rubbing her head, asking her if she was ok, apologizing, offering to get some ice, apologizing again and feeling horrible. It was 26.5 ounces aka 1 lb. 10.5 ounces of Baleine's Sea Salt that clipped the side of her head. 

Isaac reminded me that it wasn't just 26.5 ounces that landed on her head. If you account for velocity, it was more than, thanks, Ike.

I apologized again, asked if there was anything I could do. She said she would probably be ok. It was awkward and I was clueless what else was there was to do?? Should I give her my phone number? Insurance card? Money? If my car had run into hers, I would easily have known that to do but I have never dropped sea salt on someone's head before. 

But this was 26.5 ounces of sea salt. What's the right thing to do in this case? So I stood there, looking at my two sons, 14 and almost 12 years old and mouthed to them, "What else should I do?", like they would know! We couldn't think of anything and time was passing so slowly, I pitifully went up to the check out and spoke to the cashier

I told her of my misfortune and tried not to cry. I asked her if it would be possible for her to help me. "I dropped salt on a lady's head and wanted to know if I paid for it, could you give her some flowers from me when she's in the check-out line?" 

She went to get the manager and I had to tell her what I did. I've never felt more guilt-laden at a grocery store in my life! I felt like a really bad person as I tried to discern the manager's facial expressions. Was she mad at me? Did she think I was a horrible person? I described the woman and the manager took the bouquet and offered to locate the lady. She might have also wanted to write an "accident report." Ugh!

The cashier told me it was going to be ok and said she thought it was nice of me to try and do something. I wiped a few tears away from my eyes. I felt powerless and useless. On the way home, we prayed for the lady. I'm sure she is going to be ok. This was in no way a life-threatening injury but I still feel badly. Like most of us when we come to the grocery store, she left with more than she was planning on getting; however, in this case, it was a lump on the side of her head and a bouquet of sunflowers.

Drats! Have you ever done something regretful like this? How did you handle it?