Pinnacle Moments {Concluded}

As Cynthia brought us a very fitting beginning, she now concludes our series with a perfect end. This Pinnacle Moment is such a poignant reminder of the steps we take in moving forward. We don’t always have to see the end of the path to be at peace with the road we’re on. But I’ll let her tell you here, in her own words.
 

From Cynthia:

The last thing I remember as I went into surgery was the fear of waking up alone and discovering the staples.  Because if you tell a hypochondriac that she’ll come out of surgery with either a stapled abdomen and a fresh cancer diagnosis, or unscarred and at the tail end of a false alarm, she knows full well what outcome to expect.

I’d been vaguely afraid of this moment for a long time—most of my life, actually—but if you’d asked me at my routine gynecologist’s visit on Halloween 10 weeks earlier if I could imagine myself heading into surgery with an oncologist on standby, I definitely would have seen it coming.

Hypochondria has always been part of my life.  My earliest medical memory takes place in an examination room at my pediatrician’s office during a standard annual visit.  My sister was sucking on a lollipop while my feet hung heavily from the exam table as I waited for our doctor to return with what I was sure would be grim news.  I was shocked to be sent on my way with nothing more than a band aid over a routine injection site, along with a sticker of the just-for-fun variety.

It would have been great if the good office visit had made an impression, but my fears—rooted in an anxious psyche and early exposure to my grandmother’s inspirational literature—were firmly fixed.  A steady diet of periodicals brimming with triumphant accounts from burn victims and limbless mothers does something to a kid. Invariably, these stories began in the midst of the most bland of circumstances, when the victim least expected it. It seemed only logical, then, that the only hope one had to avoid becoming the tragic hero of literature of this kind was to be on constant lookout for hazards.  If you expect disaster, it can’t blindside you.  Vigilance, then, became my mantra.

When it came time in my life to begin annual gynecological exams, I became even more vigilant. After all, these visits held no pretense: they were looking for cancer, period. The increased specter of bad news caused me to be extra cautious with my scheduling.  I was always careful to schedule my visits during ordinary seasons, when resulting tests and procedures couldn’t mar my favorite time of the year: the 10 week period bookended by Halloween and New Year’s Day.

But that year? I screwed up. See, at the visit just before Things Went Bad, my nurse practitioner noted my to-the-day punctuality in visits, and suggested that such vigilance was probably unnecessary.  Considering my good overall history, she felt that I could feel good about stretching things out a bit by waiting 15, or even 18 months between appointments.

Which brought me to October.  So chagrined was I at the thought of Holiday medical drama, I considered skipping the appointment altogether.  But, remembering my good overall history, I decided to make a Good Faith effort and showed up for my appointment with an air of confidence that should have been a big red flag, but masqueraded as Acting Normal. Without even realizing it, I had, by degrees, let my guard down.  Chatting merrily about my daughter’s Toy Story costume as I lay on the cold steel table, bad news was the least thing I expected, so the call I received some 10 days later blindsided me with a report I should have seen coming.

My exam result was no simple pap blip on a pap test but a full-blown-call-in-the-oncologist report that called for multiple biopsies, scans, and tests.  Which were difficult to schedule what with the holidays upon us and all the peace, goodwill, and festivities taking place in all the doctor’s offices.

So it became, then, a Difficult Time.  For all the reasons you can imagine, but also because the faith I claim as an anchor in my life, and that I was supposed to be celebrating during the Christmas season, was being challenged.  I was supposed to believe—and really wanted to believe—that God wouldn’t give me more that I could handle, and that no matter what happened in my life, He would use it for His glory.  I wanted to believe that trusting God with my life meant just that—trusting that He would take care of me.  But the truth was that no one gets that guarantee.

It seemed clear to me that I was about to become the subject of an inspirational write up, and I felt so ill-equipped.  Other than being blindsided when I least expected it, I didn’t feel I met any of the criteria, and didn’t look like it, either, as I sobbed my way into the operating room a few days after the New Year for a surgery with an outcome no one could guess, even with all that testing.  If all went well, I would return to my normal life with an excellent prognosis.  If it went bad, I’d wake up stapled, with an uncertain future.

I awoke to a chorus of voices wishing me a Happy New Year.  Even though it was the one of the happiest moments of my life, I came to realize, later, that my future is still uncertain, and that is actually OK.  Neither vigilance nor lack of same can serve as a crystal ball.  I can try my hardest to control my fate, but reality tells a different story.  See, the appointment that I put off to October—the one I almost skipped– caught a pre-cancerous lesion at exactly the right moment.  Developed just enough to be caught, but not to the point of being a threat. And 10 years later, even though my hypochondria is not gone, it is tempered by the knowledge that I may be playing a role in an Inspirational story, but I am not the Author.  And waking up to that has got to be enough.

 

With that, we conclude our series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it! I really loved hearing everyone’s stories and really appreciate everyone who joined in with a tale, read the stories of others, and/or joined the conversation with comments. Thank you all and happy holidays!
 

 

 

 

Pinnacle Moment {Lenae}

We’re back! Hope you all had a Thanksgiving so yummy it induced a cozy stupor! This week we have a touching story from Lenae at Just Lenae. If you don’t already know this woman, you should because besides being warm and funny, loving and thoughtful, she and her lovely family are on the move. To Azerbaijan. (Where?!) (Yeah, I had to look up how to spell it.) And they’re doing it right smack in the middle of Christmas craziness. So you should follow her on this new adventure – I’m sure it’ll be quite the roller coaster indeed. Anyway, she took time out of the craziness to share a moment that changed her. I hope you’ll take a moment to pull up a chair and join in the conversation.
 

 

From Lenae, titled: My Walk With Red

It was meant to be a weekend visit, when I drove up the California coastline to the small Oregon town where my great-grandparents lived, all those years ago.  I was on the cusp of turning 19, with long, black hair I still hadn’t learned how to style, and grand, vivid hopes for all I hoped to accomplish after I left for the Air Force in a few months.

My great-grandpa wasn’t doing well.  His health had been spotty for years, but it had recently been on the downward decline long enough that my dad urged me to go see him in the rehabilitation home he’d recently moved to.  Just in case.

I don’t remember much about the 6-hour trek north.  I sped along the redwood-lined highway I knew so well and reveled in the freedom of my solitude.  I littered the floor of my parents’ car with empty Mountain Dew bottles and rotated through my favorite CDs.  As for what awaited me once I arrived at my destination, I had no expectations or heavy thoughts about it.  I was enshrouded in a bubble untouched by serious illness or death, moving lightly in self-assured naiveté.

It was a bubble that dissolved easily enough the moment I stepped from the cool, Oregon fog into the rehabilitation home.  It smelled as most medical facilities do –stuffy, sterile—and all sound was eerily muffled and hushed.  I was not prepared for the sight of Grandpa Red, as he’d always been called because of the copper-hued locks of his youth.  He was emaciated and unshaven.  He stirred instantly at the sight of me.

I had great affection for Grandpa Red, but my memories of affection from him were mostly hazy, rimmed in his characteristic sarcasm.  He wasn’t gentle; if he wanted to hug you, he pulled you in under his arm and more likely than not gave you a noogie.  He served in the Seabees during World War II, and filled the Navy-stereotype beautifully with entertaining, salty language.  He listened to Rush Limbaugh in the shop behind the house and enjoyed fishing.   He taught me in part how to have the grand and vivid personality I was carefully stoking for myself.

Yet the man in the hospital bed was neither grand nor vivid.  He was a remnant of the person populating so many of my memories, already faded.  Somewhere in my subconscious I recognized that this, truly, was a farewell visit, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around that reality just yet.  I crossed the room and perched carefully in a chair beside him and did something I couldn’t remember doing since I was a very little girl: I held his hand.

I don’t remember if we traded any polite remarks.  Frankly, I don’t remember anything about that interaction other than how very warm his hand was, and that he startled me to my core by asking if I’d attended church yet that week.  “I’ll be at church on Wednesday,” I offered him shakily, information he wouldn’t know because we’d never discussed my budding faith.

“Will you pray for me, Lenae?” he asked.

After a very long pause –because now I was attempting to wrap my heart around the reality my mind had already recognized—I promised him that yes, I would.

Mortality is an interesting, twisted object to try and hold in your hands.  I’d always been very precocious, very mindful of the darker aspect of the humanity I was a member of, but this meeting with my great-grandfather shattered any perceptions I’d built of my awareness.  I was a typical 18-year-old in that I was quite sure I knew exactly what I was doing… about everything.  And of course, nothing will tear up the roots of false confidence like confronting death.

The rehabilitation center he was in was not ideal.  My great-grandmother was fretful and alone there, pacing the halls of the home they shared not far from the beach.  But I wanted to leave.  I wanted to return to the warm security of the car gliding down the highway, and sing my heart out and slam down junk food and think of how cute I’d look in an Air Force blues uniform.

In the end, there were a few things that compelled me to do otherwise: compassion bred beneath an umbrella of intentional parenting; a heart leaping and jumping in new faith, and ideas of what vibrant service and selfless love actually looked like.  I quit my job back in my hometown to stay there in Oregon, and help my great-grandparents.  The ensuing weeks were an education in one of the most grand, vivid transitions of life – as it were, the exit from life.  It was a privilege to dole out medication, to hear tales told one last time, to observe gratitude delivered in unchecked fullness.  It was shattering to be present for the physical breakdown of a body that was, at a time, strong and streamlined.  I held those warm hands that grew ever warmer as he –we—neared the end, and it seemed he was burning the truth of existence into my soul.  I’d never shared anything very deep with the man, but I was honored to be there with him as he grappled with the inevitable questions we weigh as we contemplate being no more.  I was humbled to be able to pray with him, blessed to see evidence of a peaceful heart just hours before his breath came and went and then did not come again.

It was not graduating from high school or taking the oath at the end of military training that propelled me into adulthood: it was this – the overwhelming, breaking, final walk I took hand-in-hand with my great-grandfather.  I felt in his grip all the love he was never able to convey in words, and when my eyes had cleared, I looked up to the see the sunrise of eternal life as I’d been unable to view it before.

 

I hope you enjoyed this moment, and that beautiful juxtaposition she created between youth and death. I hope you’ll join us once more next week, for the conclusion of our series. Thanks so much for connecting with us along the way!
 

Pinnacle Moments {To Give Thanks}

The Pinnacle Moments series is taking a break this week for the Thanksgiving holidays, as everyone prepares to spend time with loved ones and consume delectable delights. For myself, I’d like to give thanks to everyone who has participated in the series thus far. It has been such a lovely conversation we’ve been having about the moments that have changed and defined our lives. This is one of my heart’s deepest interests about others: how they become the person they are, what shaped their thoughts and perspectives in life, what stands out to them as moments they can never forget.

And we have sure seen some unforgettable moments.

Cynthia started us off with a moment of inspiration, a moment where a daydream turned into a weekly communion of sisterhood and brownies, a communion that changed not only the girls she mentored, but Cynthia herself.

Queen Lucy showed us the power of a leap of faith, jumping into a whirlwind romance with nothing but her faith in Him to guide her.

From that peak, we walked with Brook into the valley of shadows, and learned what it took to get through to the other side.

Then I shared my tale, another abyss to traverse, where only a newfound understanding of weakness and courage gave strength to transcend the darkness.

And last week, Hyacynth encouraged us to confront our own humanity by sharing the moment in which she came face-to-face with hers.

If you’ve missed any of these, please do take a moment to hear the stories and join the conversation. These moments aren’t all unicorns and rainbows, but they do reflect some of the deepest parts of ourselves. There are some brave, brave women here. If there’s anything to be drawn from this series, I believe it is the indomitable power of our courage, to go where we might not otherwise go, because we decided we were more than our fears. I hope you’ll recognize a bit of yourself in some of these stories, draw strength where you need strength, find inspiration where you need to be inspired, and discover the tenderness of all our own vulnerabilities.

Then please don’t forget to join us again next week! There are more tales to come!

In the meantime, we give thanks.

Pinnacle Moments {Hyacynth}

Welcome to this week’s edition of Pinnacle Moments, where we share the moments that have shaped our lives. This week’s moment comes from the lovely Hyacynth, of Undercover Mother. It’s a poignant one. I hope you’ll stay to hear her tale. Here it is.
 

From Hyacynth:

His two-year-old footprints shimmer in the sunlight dancing on the wooden floor as we both sit in a tangled heap crying, his small body draped over a rather pregnant stretch of baby beneath my skin.

In a moment of twoness that I just couldn’t understand, he scampered across the freshly mopped floor for a fourth time in so many minutes.

In a moment of selfishness, irritation he just couldn’t understand, I forcefully reached out, grabbed him by the arm and all but yanked him from the still-soaking floors while yelling loudly and denouncing his repeated attempts at puddle splashing.

Eyes wide, full of surprise, he looks at me stunned. He’s never heard that mommy before, never felt an ungentle touch come from her hands.

But I keep scolding anyway, hot from emotions and the exhaustion of scrubbing floors and being eight months pregnant and keeping up with a spirited toddler.

I hear the harshness in my voice. I see the panic spread across his brow, creep into his normally joyful eyes.

And at the same time he bursts into scared tears, I snap back into the reality of the situation:

he’s a two year old exploring our world, not a teenager defiantly staying out past curfew.

In his unique verbalization of two he cries, “Mommy soooo mad. I sorry. No more splashing on the floor. Mommy scary like a monster.”

The words mommy monster burn into my brain. It’s my turn for hot tears to spill past heavy lashes, for panic to creep into my heart about what kind of precedent I’ve just set, what kind of experience I’ve allowed him to harbor as a memory.

In a moment of Divine Grace realized, I’m reminded that no one is made of perfection; but everyone is bathed in forgiveness if only they ask.

So his body gathered in my arms, I dry his tears and my own as the floor’s wetness, too, evaporates and ask him simply, voice full of remorse, “Mommy is so sorry I yelled at you. Could you forgive me?”

Though he cannot yet speak the real meaning of apology or forgiveness, he feels the working definition of both in his heart after seeing the regret across my face, feeling the warmth of my arms and voice; he wraps his small arms around my neck, while nodding his head yes.

I feel his forgiveness, and I understand forgiveness in a whole new way through his embrace:

it doesn’t stem from being right, nor is it something that can be earned or bought; rather it’s given freely out of love.

And through the child-blessing of an oldest son, I suddenly know a little better the heart of the Father who gifted him to us.

What a moment! Even without a child of my own, I recognize that same part in me that Hyacynth so bravely shared with us today. Pinnacle Moments will be taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, but will return the week after. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
 

Pinnacle Moments

Welcome to the fourth edition of Pinnacle Moments! For those of you just joining us, Pinnacle Moments is a series where we share a defining moment in our lives…maybe it’s a day you had an epiphany, or made a choice or faced a circumstance that changed the course of your life, or realized something about who you are deep down, etc. Or it can even be about your sweetest romantic memory…a defining moment in your relationship with your spouse or significant other! Last week, Brook from Red Head Reverie had an incredible story of strength and hope to share. This week, the tale is one of my own. It wasn’t an easy time in my life, by any stretch of the imagination. It was a painful time, but it’s one which I remain forever grateful to have experienced.
 

Here’s my story:

Seven months and a chasm lay between us. He arrived on my doorstep, quivering with sorrow. His old ’76 Dodge Dart Swinger was parked in my driveway, and the car radio emitted a Coldplay tune as he stood with placards displayed in his hands. Each placard told me how sorry he was, and as the song played, he dropped them one by one to the ground, each one telling me the tale of his heartbreak.

When he finished, I grabbed a jacket and wordlessly headed out into the night. He walked with me into the inky darkness. No lights marked out path leading to the pier, where we sat together, suspended over a colorless abyss.

Into that inky black night, we trembled to speak Truth. In that space between sea and sky, we let forth all that had ever existed between us – three years of love, then pain, folly, betrayal – and we uttered admissions of everything we had once hoped we could be. We walked through fire together. It seared our very marrows, and we emerged, fragile, yet cleansed, like phoenixes rising.

Emptied, we walked back in silence. Questions loomed like cloaks over our heads. Could there be hope? Could there be trust? Could there be more and better a second time around?

In my head, I heard the voices of all who loved me warning me. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be weak. And I believed them. I was prepared to say, “Never again.”

But then we stood facing each other, like little more than children upon a precipe, separated by a living room suffused with fear.

And that’s when I felt it: a great huge invisible chain with a claw for a hook thrust itself physically into my navel and yanked me towards the man standing before me. There is no rational reason to believe it to be true, but I felt it snatch me from the inside and it left me breathless. Never in my life, before or since, have I so physically felt there might be truth to the word soulmate.

And that’s when I knew I was dealing with something larger than myself. There was no escaping loving this man with more than I ever thought I had. I could exist without him. Seven months apart had proved I could move on with my life and move forward and be okay. But there was no escaping the depth of love we had for each other. It was beyond reason – nothing more or less than simple Truth.

And that’s when I learned it’s not stupidity or weakness to forgive the ones we love. Rather, it requires courage and clear-headedness. It requires strength. The first step towards healing and redemption turned out to be…

…a leap of faith.

And I leapt. I married that man 3 years later, and this year we celebrated our third wedding anniversary.

A couple of days ago, we were sitting in a restaurant with my parents and my husband went to take care of something. As I watched him go, my heart smiled and I said, “I have a good husband.” My mother nodded, and said, “Yes, you do.”

We have more tales next week! If you wish to share YOUR Pinnacle Moment, just let me know. Hope to see you here again next Wednesday!

Pinnacle Moments {Brook}

Welcome to the third edition of Pinnacle Moments! We’re really ramping up here, and I’m so excited! For those just joining us, Pinnacle Moments is a series where we share a defining moment in our lives…maybe it’s a day you had an epiphany, or made a choice or faced a circumstance that changed the course of your life, or realized something about who you are deep down, etc. Or it can even be about your sweetest romantic memory…a defining moment in your relationship with your spouse or significant other! Last week, Queen Lucy the Valiant shared her magical tale of love and a leap of faith. This week, Brook from Red Head Reverie is going to push us a little deeper into the recesses of the heart. She has an incredible story to share. It’s an awe-inspiring tale of strength and of hope. It is a must-read, and I invite you to join us here now as she shares this part of her life.
 

From Brook:

I want to warn you this isn’t one of those warm fuzzy stories. When Jade asked us to dig deep and find our Pinnacle Moment, I just kept coming back to this moment in time, a time of hope and healing.

“Do you want to be a victim or a survivor,” my therapist asked me.

I couldn’t answer her.

This was my fourth suicide attempt. This time it was BAD. ER doctors, stomach pumping, a two-day stint in ICU, and a week stint in the psych ward kind of bad. I guess that’s what happens when you down half a bottle of your anti-depressants with a Captain Morgan chaser.

How the hell did I get here?

I met a guy and after a whirlwind romance we moved in with each other. Everything was great I thought I was in love and this was it “the one”.

Then it happened.

“You’re a fucking bitch.”

I stood there like a deer in headlights. Was he talking to me?

Then he said it again and laughed. “Oh, I’m just kidding, can’t you take a joke.”

Really…I was speechless. The warning alarm kept sounding in my head, but I ignored it.

For a while life was good. He would say how lucky he was that he found me, and we would talk about getting married. But then out of the blue I’d hear, “Stop eating your cereal like that you sound like a pig.”

As the months passed I spent my time walking on eggshells wondering what in the world would set him off. One day it could be that I wore too much make-up. “You look like a whore with that shit on your face.” The next he would be sweet as sugar talking about buying rings and spending the rest of our lives together.

“Whore”

“White trash”

“Fucking Bitch”

Words I began to hear on a daily basis.

To him I was a verbal punching bag. And while no one could see the bruises, they were there on the inside.

I was in a constant state of fear and self-loathing. My formally healthy 120 pound frame dwindled to 90 pounds, I cried at the drop of a hat and became needy and co-dependent. Everything I never wanted to be, in essence I was a victim. The only way to find relief was to find a way out. “The boyfriend” had isolated me from all my friends, so I didn’t have a support system to turn to. Instead, I decided I’d just “end it”.

And that’s what led me to this moment.

I sat in that office that I knew so well. In the yellow gingham overstuffed chair which was more comfortable than the couch and closer to the Kleenex. And with tears streaming down my face I said “Survivor.”

I met my husband a year after this incident and ten years and two kids later I have found joy. I would never want to go through that again, but it made me realize that I FINALLY did deserve to be happy. FINALLY…

I don’t know about you, but I had tears in my eyes when I read Brook’s word “Survivor.” What an incredibly strong woman she is, to make that choice. I hope you drew inspiration from her story as I did, and I hope you’ll join us again next week. If you have a Pinnacle Moment to share: a transcendent moment, a crossroads, a turn in the path that changed your life forever, please email me or leave me a comment and I’ll send you the details. ‘Till next week then!
 

Pinnacle Moments {Queen Lucy}

Welcome to the second edition of Pinnacle Moments, where we are sharing our transcendent moments: times of utmost clarity, of profound decisions, and of deepest love! Last week, we read Cynthia’s story of community and inspiration (and divine brownies). This week, I would like to introduce you to witty and fabulous, Queen Lucy the Valiant. Pull up a squooshy, comfy cushiony chair, refresh your cup of coffee or tea and maybe snag some chocolate. You’ll need it for this tale that melts the heart!
 
From Lucy:
 

I rested my forehead against the airplane window and gazed out at a field of clouds, barely seeing them. It’s a short plane ride from Atlanta to Dallas, but my heart had been leaping and bounding for the entire trip. I was painfully, physically aware that I was hurtling towards the most important person in my world, and that I barely knew him. It was the most surreal feeling I’ve ever known, that unshakable conviction that we belonged together even though we’d only spent a week together a few months before. I felt like the bride of an arranged marriage, about to meet her groom for the first time, but no matchmaker or parent had arranged this. No matter how crazy it sounded, I knew with perfect clarity that God had. I didn’t question that but just then, struggling with my nerves in the airplane, I did question other things. Was I ready for this? Was he? Would the present reality of who I was match up favorably with his memory of that first week? What about the present reality of who he was? How could we be in love, really in love already? Was it all some elaborate dream? My nerves have never been stretched so thin, before or since that plane ride. Yet underneath it all ran that sweet, unshakable conviction that this was right.

Three months before, I had flown to Texas to spend my Christmas break with some friends. Not liking the sound of the guy I was currently dating (casually dating, I had stressed to him before I left, we aren’t exclusive. I’m not ready for exclusive right now.) they decided to set me up on a blind date or two over the break. They set up a date with a boy from their church, a boy I vaguely remembered seeing on a previous visit. (A boy, I found out later, who had tried to talk to me then because he thought I was pretty. A boy who occasionally saw pictures of me at this friend’s house and would say to himself, “I’m going to marry her. No, that’s crazy.”)

He’d called me to set up the date, and I laid in bed that night, plotting what to wear. Then the thought hit me with so much force that I sat up in bed – “I’m going to marry him.”

The next day he picked me up and took me to a movie (King Kong, and I cringed into his shoulder whenever those gigantic bugs came onscreen) and then dinner and then bowling and he showed me how to play pool, and checked me out in the nice way, not the creepy way. He took me out again the next day, and we kissed for the first time that evening. He’d always prayed that he would know the girl he was supposed to marry when he kissed her, he told me later.

We spent every waking minute together for the rest of the week, and the night I went back to school we talked for hours.

“This is kind of embarrassing,”  He’d said as I sat in the hallway of my dorm late that night. “I don’t want to freak you out. But I…told all my friends that I’m going to marry you.”

“That’s funny, I told all my friends that I’m going to marry you!” I laughed, happiness overwhelming me. And it had been as simple as that, just an accepted truth that we belonged together. Through marathon phone conversations we planned our future together. We discussed wedding logistics and discovered how much we had in common… religion, politics, how to make tuna sandwiches. We talked about careers and goals and babies and we knew we sounded crazy, but we didn’t care. When a relationship is not right, you know, deep down inside, even if you don’t admit it to yourself. But when it is right…it just is. Like gravity, or breathing air.

I hadn’t suffered any doubts or second thoughts until that plane ride from Atlanta to Dallas three months later, going down for Spring break, knowing that I would be going back at the end of the week with an engagement ring. Every doubt and fear was packed into those two and a half hours, and I barely had the courage to get up after every other passenger had left. It wasn’t the memory of those first kisses, or the impossibly wonderful conversations we’d had since, or the longing to see him again that gave me courage to move. It was that conviction that this was God’s plan. Fear and doubt and anxiety stripped everything else away, but that conviction stubbornly remained. I couldn’t argue with it or deny it.

I got up and exited the plane. I stopped at the restroom to fix my hair and makeup. I dragged my feet to the baggage claim. And there he was, waiting for me, wearing jeans and a t-shirt and great big construction boots, right off a shift at the warehouse where he worked then.

“Ohhhh.” Breathed that anxious internal voice that had been panicking for the past two and a half hours. “Him. I remember, he’s perfect.” I launched myself up into his arms and he held me against his chest, tighter than tight. And we have stayed that way ever since.

 

I don’t know about y’all, but my heart’s doing palpitations! Join us again next week for another edition of Pinnacle Moments. If you have a transcendental moment to share, let me know in the comments or email me. We’d love to hear your tale!
 

Pinnacle Moments {Cynthia}

Welcome to the first edition of our Pinnacle Moments series! Each Wednesday, I’ll be hosting a series of posts where we share transcendental moments in our lives: moments in which the paths of our lives changed, we made important decisions, had epiphanies, or experienced a defining point in a relationship with a loved one. Starting us off is a Pinnacle Moment shared by Cynthia from Running With Letters, and I truly could not imagine a more perfect beginning to our series. Please join us in sharing these Pinnacle Moments, and we hope that you might wish to share one of yours too.

 

From Cynthia:

I had no way of knowing that a reflective moment lying on my bedroom floor at the end of a random fall day would become the opening scene in a 16-year long chapter in my life. All I knew was that I wanted to make a difference, but  I had no idea I was making a decision that would not only bring me joy, but also inspire me to pursue of a lifelong dream.

See, I was a late bloomer, of sorts.  A caution-to-the-wind kind of girl with a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for impulsive road trips during school hours. My teenage self was interested in present tense fun, with little regard for future consequences. It was a minor miracle, then, for me to have landed safely on the carpet of the townhouse I shared with my first and only husband and our baby daughter. A husband who responded to my third date announcement that, I “just wanted to be friends,” with, “Well, what would you like to do tomorrow?” –a pattern he stuck with until we were planning a wedding.  When asked why he persisted, he said, “I decided that if what we were was friends, I’d be lucky to have you.”

But as I lay in the darkness thinking of all the ways my life could have turned out differently, I knew who the lucky one was.  I also knew that I felt a sense of responsibility to extend a road map of sorts to my younger sisters—a guide marking the best stepping stones around life’s tough neighborhoods.  That night, I resolved to make it happen.

At the time, I was not involved with teenagers in any capacity, but soon, my husband and I started volunteering with our church youth group.  It would still be a couple years and a move to our own house, though, before I hit upon a winning recipe: Tuesday Night, Open Invitation Meetings in my living room, around a warm pan of gooey brownies.

When I first came up with the idea for a teen girls’ Bible study, even my husband, who has been a constant source of encouragement in endeavors ranging from international travel to the ill-advised adoptions of numerous strays, was skeptical.

“It’s a great idea,” he said.  “But I’m not sure if you’ll get anyone to come.  I don’t want you to be disappointed.”

But come they did—sometimes in trickles, others times in droves.  And our group quickly expanded as the girls brought their friends.  Soon teens from all over the community began showing up at my door each week for a dose of scripture, a listening ear, and, of course, a brownie.

Not every girl that came to Bible study was involved in church–in fact there were girls who would never have felt comfortable sitting on a pew.  Some were youth group girls who seemed perfect, yet hid inner hurts and even outward scars inflicted by their own hand.  Others were vivacious and self assured.  Most just needed encouragement through the everyday ups and downs of growing out of childhood and coming into their own.  But every single one of the teens who came through my door was a beautiful person who was worthy of having a place where they could be themselves for two hours each week, free from pressure of judgment.

To the best of my knowledge, the advice I gave to every question poised came straight out of the Bible but was applied to each girl’s specific situation.  Not that every teen accepted my perspective, but every single one of them respected it.

Along the way, we prayed over lost loves, sick pets, and plummeting grades. We had sleepovers and holiday parties, and, as time passed, older girls would come back from college or married life and get to know the new members, creating a continuous thread. Friendships formed on Tuesday Nights led to introductions that resulted in two marriages.  I’ve been in two other weddings, and attended a couple baby showers.  And once, we sat and cried together at a funeral, too.

I keep a few trophies—but not the kind you have to polish.  My favorite is a little Ziploc baggie full of “contraband” a couple of girls unexpectedly gave me one night at the end of a study.  Not even 24’s Jack Bauer could get me to divulge the contents of the bag, but I promise you, it was worth way more than every chocolate chip I’ve ever had to buy and every hour that stretched beyond our usual two.

And that lifelong dream I mentioned?  My experiences with the girls actually gave me the nudge I needed to jumpstart my frustrated writing ambitions.  It began as a chapter-a-week online saga featuring a protagonist who, as one girl put it, “is a little bit of all of us.”  The experiment grew into two young adult novels that have opened doors for me to talk with girls who would never have the opportunity to walk through my door on a Tuesday night.

Those who come usually hit the door with a single question: “Are there brownies tonight?”  They claim my super-chocolaty recipe has “ruined” ordinary brownies for them. I understand.  A brownie isn’t just a brownie for me anymore, either.  It’s a warm, gooey celebration of enduring friendship and the unexpected joys that can come from a moment of clarity and gratitude on an otherwise random day.

That's Cynthia, second from the left.

If you wish to share your own Pinnacle Moment, just leave me a comment or send an email, and I’ll send you the details. Thank you so much for joining us! See you next Wednesday!
 

 

 

Announcing….

There are usually only a handful of moments in our lives that are truly transcendental. They stand out in our memories as crossroads where our lives diverged from the path that once was. It can be a turning point in a relationship. It can be a moment of profound clarity, where we gained insight into who we truly are, or were meant to be, or finally understood something larger than ourselves…and have been changed ever since.

Sometimes these moments are long in coming, the slow buildup like grains of sand in an hourglass until we reach our time. Sometimes they strike like lightening.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be hosting a series of blogs, where a fantastic group of amazing writers, bloggers, mothers, and all-round fabulous women have agreed to share their Pinnacle Moments. I invite you to join us each Wednesday, to sit in our circle of sisterhood, and read their tales of love and growth, epiphany and change.

The first one begins next Wednesday, October 19. The series will last as long as I have people willing to share their stories. If our stories inspire you to pen one of your own, please share it with us. Leave me a comment if you’re interested in participating, and I’ll email you with the details. I’m so excited to see these stories, and I do hope you’ll join us too!

Love,
Jade

P.S. A little tidbit I thought I’d share: I recently learned that the Thai word for “travel” is *deurn tang*, which literally means “to walk the path.” I just thought that was so lovely and apropos.

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