Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moments Hung in Time

by Cindy Hester

I got to travel back "home" again this weekend for another one of those precious times spent visiting with Mom. As I told in an earlier blog, Mom and I have found a special joy in taking at least one day of the weekend to re-connect with family members I have not seen in a while, or to re-visit places from my childhood. I so enjoy these flashbacks in time. It seems that as I have grown older, things have become more complicated, and time has become more valuable. It saddens me how little time there is to truly soak in the temporary yet priceless gifts of those dearest to us.


 
We happened to have my four year old little grandson, Randy, with us this time, and he got the pleasure of going visiting with Mom and me. I will have to admit that I was a little concerned about how bored he might get. After all, he was going to have to hang out with older people all day. We ended up going to see my "Uncle" Carney White, who is really my cousin. I was taught it was improper to call a 96 year old cousin simply Carney, and Mr. White seems way to formal for a close relative. As a result, I have quite a few cousin "Aunt" and "Uncles". Uncle Carney and my Mom are actually first cousins, and for a 96 year old man, he is about as sharp as they come. He still drives, dresses spiffy, and has the spirit of a 30 year old man.




As I sat there with Randy curled against my side listening to stories about my great-grandparents, my great aunt, and my grandmother, I realized what a thin thread life truly is. We are but a spot on a timeline, placed here on this earth with only a brief moment in time to make our mark. It seems only  yesterday I sat curled against my grandmother's side visiting with her older relatives and listening to stories while vividly reliving each moment in my imagination. I could almost hear the echo of my grandmother's joyful laughter as she lovingly held me close to her side. The smell her perfume and the feel of the clean, soft cotton of her dress against my cheek came flooding back to my senses. In these too few moments, felt I had reached an intersection in time.  Watching Randy soak in the stories, it seemed in that moment I became congruently connected to my past, my present, and my future. I found myself wishing for some way Randy and I could go back in time and meet some of these good folks who passed on years before my birth.



After leaving Uncle Carney's house, we went to another of my mother's first cousins on my grandfather's side of the family. "Uncle" Jett (again, it's a respect thing) and "Aunt" Shirley met us out front grinning from ear to ear eagerly awaiting the visit. It was so good to see them once again and to be in their home after all of these years. Despite the fact that Uncle Jett has to rely on a walker to get around these days, his sense of humor and playfulness were as apparent today as they were 40 years ago. Watching him, I felt an overwhelming wave of loss remembering my grandfather Moore as I realized how very much alike they are. Aunt Shirley's kind eyes twinkled welcomingly as we visited about times we all shared in the past and caught up on events of the present.





As the day slowly came to a close and the visits ended, an empty, lonely feeling crept into my heart. I felt reluctant to leave these moments behind. They come only once in a lifetime, and they are just that...moments. I found myself wanting to slow time and cling to each second. I watched Randy picking out his toy at the Dollar with store with the money my Mom, his Great-Grandmother had given him as a treat for being so good all day. This simple act served as a reminder that I am now in the process of creating memories for him, Hollie and Tripp.

Perhaps most important of all, I realized how blessed and highly favored I am to have the continuity of a truly wonderful family. The solid values and principles of my ancestors have carried down through the generations and stood the test of time, living on in these precious folks I had the distinct priviledge of visiting. My prayer is that God would give me a portion of their strength to carry this heritage forward. Thank you Mom, Uncle Carney, Aunt Shirley, and Uncle Jet for allowing me to share a few of your precious moments, and for creating memories I will always treasure.





Job 12:12 "With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding."
 
Psalms 71:18 "Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Women of Amazing Grace

 
By Cindy Hester
 
 
The last time I went home to visit Mom I had the opportunity to attend a birthday luncheon for two dear ladies to whom I am extremely fortunate to be related. Another friend of the family, Miss Bobbie Lee, also joined us. Miss Bobbie Lee may as well be considered family since she has been acquainted with Mom and Dad since childhood. I just have to tell you, I left this luncheon feeling so encouraged and blessed.
 
First, I was sitting among four beautiful, strong women. These women have each endured loss of one type or another and not only survived, but thrived. None of them look even close to their numerical ages (which I won't divulge for fear of retribution!) None of them act like "older" women are stereotypically expected to behave. Their sense of joy, humor, compassion and determination profoundly pulsated through their numerous topics of conversation.
 
Second, I came to further appreciate the incredible female genetic pool from which I originated. Not only do these women look incredibly beautiful and much younger than their years, they also remain impressively influential. Of course there's Mom who served in the never-ending, challenging capacity of pastor's wife for well over forty years, and who still actively serves as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to a small country of descendants. Mom, who is a giver, still takes the time to check on and care after others in her church and community. Next there is Lynda, Dad's cousin on his father's side of the family. Lynda is a retired school teacher, Mayor's wife, loving mother and grandmother, and still finds time to substitute teach and play an active role in her community. Then there is "Aunt" Virginia Faye Baker, Dad's cousin on his mother's side of the family. (She is famous for the story of Dad wearing a pair of her bloomers as a kid whenever he went home with her family after church one Sunday and had no other play clothes.) Aunt Virginia Faye has not only raised a family, been a County Judges wife, she is still actively employed at a local insurance company despite the fact she is in her 80's. She also still cooks a big Sunday dinner for her family and friends each week! (...makes me tired just thinking about it...)
 
Third, and perhaps most important, I realized the amazing heritage of faith woven throughout these great women. They are quick to tell you where their help comes from. "Their help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." Their deep faith and dependence upon the Lord refreshes their spirit working far more effectively than any outer beauty treatment could ever claim. The fruits of the the Spirit, love, peace, joy, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control pour from their hearts bringing love to all who come in contact with their presence. Not only do they possess outer beauty, their inner beauty shines as a beacon lighting the way for us who are following in their path.
 
So I say thank you, ladies, for sharing an experience I will never forget. I do hope we will make it a point to get together more often. I love you all. 
 
 
 
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121
 
 
 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23


 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Trouble

by Cindy Hester

So I woke up a little blue this morning. I'm not really sure why. Maybe my heart is still tied to memories my mind thinks it has already moved past. Have you ever experienced this? It is that feeling of something being wrong without quite being able to put your finger on the problem. I am beginning to understand after 51 years of being on this earth this is why we cannot rely on feelings alone.

 
I am not sure why I still let the imperfections of this world upset or even surprise me for that matter. I guess we are all searching for that ever elusive state of contentment, especially in our current troubled world. I am a peacemaker by nature, so whenever there is conflict anywhere...whether in the world, my country, on the job, in my marriage, within my extended friends and family...I somehow tend to feel this overwhelming need to make things right.


Young soldiers at the airport in
Washington State about to be shipped abroad.
This sensitivity to the feelings of others, this want - possibly this need - to encourage or help stems from a good trait that can easily go bad. God bluntly brought that to my attention this morning. He reminded me that I become so tied up in the details that I sometimes fail to look at the whole picture. I am about to get really honest and let you in on another secret about me. I am a worrier. Yes, would you ever have believed it? Me, a worrier! The fact that I developed an ulcer at age seven may have let already let those closest to me in on that fact. Dear Lord have mercy!

While I'm making confessions, I may as well tell you that I tend to be a people pleaser and a perfectionist...not with cleaning, just with work and my own actions. I can let others off the hook and even make excuses for their actions, but I can beat myself up for three days over something as silly as breaking my diet by eating that snack size Reeses (okay, so it was 6 snack size Reeses, but that's not the point!) Plus, the more I try to be perfect, the more mistakes I seem to make.



 Perfetct Family Christmas Picture?
While many of you women from the south are shaking your heads thinking, "bless her heart...," I can hear my brother saying, "Suck it up Cindy. This is embarrassing!" What can I say? I tend to naturally be an anxious worrywart running around with my T-Shirt on backwards trying to keep everyone happy and constantly apologizing. I am not telling you this in an attempt to come off as a martyr. It is embarrassingly pathetic whenever I see it in writing. However, it is what it is, and I have to call this one as it is.

My husband, children, Mom, and siblings are probably asking where this sensitive, people-pleasing person is around them. They get to see the more honest side of me. What is so sad is they most likely  end up getting the short end of the deal a lot of the time. What is even worse is that during my deepest spirals, God often gets the least of the best parts I have to offer Him. I get so focused on the shoulds - what should I be doing, what I should have done or have said, or what I shouldn't have done or said, whose feelings I may have hurt, etc. - that it becomes all about me instead of about how God's natural gift of love for others was meant to be.

My reason for sharing these wonderful truths with you? Only to let anyone else out there who may be battling with these or similar issues know they are not alone. We each face our own set of strengths and weaknesses. We each have some area where we reach our limits. God reminded me today that He created us this way for a purpose. Because we each have our own set of strengths and weaknesses, we become inherently dependent upon Him and upon one another as a human race.

No matter how much we wish it to be true, we are not meant to be totally self-sufficient. We are meant to be God-sufficient. It is in and through Him and His grace that we can truly be healthy and whole enough in our spirits, our minds, and our hearts to work together - and God knows we need one another. This world is not meant for perfection. God has been whispering this to my heart all along. In Jesus's own words he says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33.


 
So no matter what your heart's memory may be bringing to the forefront of your emotions on this particular day, you can rest assured there is a God who understands. He is able to bring us to a place of wholeness, and He can become our strength for those places of weakness we all possess. My prayer for us all today is to feel His presence, His peace, and His unspeakable joy no matter what shadows our feelings may be casting over us. God bless, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." ISAIAH 40 : 28 - 31



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Simpler Times - Diet Aids of the 60's

I am always amazed at how our brains work. Take memory for example. I can see, hear, smell or experience something that immediately links me to an event from way back in my childhood. I had one of those experiences today at lunch. While sitting attempting to sip my delicious, filling Slimfast, I had a flashback in time. In an instant I was five years old sitting in the back seat of our white Chevrolet in the parking lot of Sam Houston Electric Cooperative. My Aunt Judy worked there at the time, and Mom and I had gone by to take her "lunch" and to visit while she ate. My aunt had asked us to bring her one of the meal replacement drinks of the day, SEGO. As she sat in the front seat pulling the tab back and taking a slow sip, the disgusted look on her face said it all. Let's just say that apparently meal replacement drinks have come a long way in taste since the SEGO days.
 
 
See the pounds go with SEGO!







 
This got me to reminiscing about other diet and weight loss products I remember seeing around in my younger days. Who could ever forget the infamous Ayds diet candies? I used to be bad about sneaking one of these "delicious" diet candies out of Mom's box when there was nothing else sweet to eat around the house. (Can you say sugar addiction?) That is pretty sad when a sweet tooth gets so bad that a diet vitamin candy will suffice to satisfy the craving! I am really sad these aren't still around since these would probably be my favorite "weight loss" product. Apparently their ad campaign, "lose weight with Ayds" never could recover after the disease Aids was discovered.


 
 

Then there were the only two sugar free colas on the market in the early 60's, Diet Rite and Tab. Both were originally sweetened with either sodium saccharin or saccharin and cyclamate (blech!), which gave them a bitter taste. Of course, these sweeteners were believed to cause cancer in laboratory rats. Cyclamate was banned, and Diet Rite began sweetening with Aspertame. Aspertame became questionable, so they then began using a form of Splenda. I read in Wikipedia that Diet Rite "became the first major diet soda in the United States to use neither aspartame nor saccharin as a sweetener." Tab was replaced with Diet Coke, although it can still be found in some areas.
 
 

However, my favorite weight loss item was neither a supplement, drink, or meal replacement. It was an exercise machine. The Westcott family in my home town owned one. (By the way I thought the Westcott's owned the coolest house in town...it was two-story AND they had a pool table!) This machine was supposed to vibrate the fat right off and tone you as well. All you had to do was stand there and let it work its magic. (Note the ladies wearing heels to work out in the picture.) Now THIS is my kind of workout!
 


 
Times change, and diet and exercise methods change along with them. One thing, however, remains the same. As long as there is plenty to eat, and as long as there are people with my kind of metabolism and lack of willpower, the diet and exercise market will remain open for business and can look forward to a profitable future.
 




Monday, September 10, 2012

Life Happens

Wow! Life has been eventful to say the least. Over the past couple of weeks our family has increased by a daughter-in-law and a new little grandson. When God said "go forth and multiply," my family took it to heart. It seems that every year we increase by at least one at the Hood Christmas. This year including my new little great niece, Abrianna, we have at least three new members to enjoy. (I say at least because the year is not over yet, and you just never know what may happen between now and then!) My Paw Paw Moore used to look at my Maw Maw chuckling saying, "just look at how much trouble this one little ring caused." He would really be amazed if he could see us all now.


Mr. & Mrs. Hester



Mr. Tripp Tyler Sheffield

Life truly does slip by in lightening speed. Watching Ryan as he waited for his bride to walk down the stairs, my heart saw the man that he has become. A couple of weeks later watching my little grandson, Randy, being introduced to his little brother for the first time, my mind comprehended how much of a little boy he now is. Both instances stung my heart simultaneously with joy and sadness...joy for the blessing of knowing the good things ahead for both, and sadness that it had taken for too short a time to reach these milestones.

This knowledge struck me with how precious little time I have to make my mark on the lives placed in my path. As a young mother I felt I had forever to become who I needed to be for my children. But time has passed and here they are, all grown up and making their own impressions on this world. I failed many times as a Mom and a Step-Mom, and I am sure I will make mistakes as a grandmother and mother-in-law as well. My hope and prayer is that in the final tally of it all, when each of these precious ones God has placed in my life thinks of me, I will have lived my life in such a way that all they can remember is my steadfast, unconditional love.





 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cinderella's Corner: Amazing Grace

Cinderella's Corner: Amazing Grace: by Cindy Hester For some reason I have had it on my heart to share the following true story and poem I wrote after experiencing the near ...

That Wonderful Hot Mess Called Motherhood by Cindy Hester Moms, are you ever guilty of measuring yourselves against a standard pu...