Friday, August 25, 2006

An update

1. We had an incredible week of vacation last week. There is nothing like getting away from home with your family. To slow down enough to realize- I still laugh the hardest with my husband, there is great delight in watching our kids, we enjoy time together doing anything, to take time to see the Lord in all of these things...We came back greatly refreshed.

2. Back in March I realized I was drinking way too many diet cokes...the people at Sonic knew my name and whenever we pulled up Payton would roll down his window and yell, "I need a large diet coke, not a lot of ice and with a little vanilla and cherry." This and some other things in my life made me realize I was drinking too many. I quit cold turkey....and started drinking Starbucks. This past Monday I decided I would become a water girl (for at least a while)...All water, all the time...still going strong at this point, I'll keep you posted...

3. On Wednesday it was announced that one of my dearest friends, Nika, was the region 11 Teacher of the year. Out of over 20 districts she was chosen...I was so excited. Tonight she will be called out onto the field at the Ranger game to accept this honor. We will be there cheering! It is so fun to watch the Lord lift friends up. We have rejoiced over this gift straight from His hand.
Yesterday her brother Mark opened a brand new Starbucks (On Colleyville Blvd. right across from Market Street). Mark is the manager. Last night was friends and family night where we got to go and have free Starbucks before their big grand opening today. I picked a crummy week to commit to water. Its been fun to celebrate with the Maples this week.

4. The other night I was putting Benjamin to bed and Tony was in the living room reading. I told Payton, "Why don't you go and sit with your dad and I can be with you in a minute. " Payton walked in, sat down in the chair across from Tony and said, "Dad, Tell me about your problems."

5. Benjamin's favorite show at Sea World was the water-skiing show. At any given moment he will kick his legs up and start going through the whole routine. It makes us laugh everytime. He even makes the "overly- excited face" that the water skiers did at Sea World. A sight to behold...Ask him to show you his water-skiing next time you see him. It will not disappoint.

6. While in San Antonio we met up with our friends Koy, BJ and Reese. BJ and I roomed together in college. We used to talk about how we hoped our husbands would be friends and we would get the joy of watching our children play together. It was so great to spend 2 days with them. We loved every minute of it and left feeling so blessed to call them our friends.

7. I am not a nail biter. Selling stuff on Ebay makes me want to start.

8. Payton has always been an early riser. A couple of weeks ago Tony bought a digital clock and put electrical tape over the last 2 numbers (the minutes). He explained to Payton he could not off of his bed until the number turned to a 7. For the first few mornings he would crow like a rooster, "It's 7! It's 7!" Then he started sleeping past 7. This has blessed us and him greatly!

9. I love reading other peoples blogs. There is great joy in seeing old friends and new experience great joy in their life. I love reading about the good...I love having the opportunity to pray when there is something not good. My brother started this blog for me last year...Hence, if you go back to the original posts you will see some pictures and some posts that were written by Sam as if he were me. His words made me laugh then, they make me laugh now. He used the threat of continuing to post and comment as Becky on other peopes blogs as motivation for me to take over this one...Obviously, it worked. I am thankful he brought me into the blogging world. It has blessed me.

10. I am speaking next month at a Women's retreat in Fairfax. So much of what I will speak on comes from Matthew 11:28-30 (the Msg.) when Jesus says,

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I 'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely lightly."

I want to learn how to accept that invitation, how to point others to do the same, not with words, but with my life. I want to keep company with Him. In His grace He invites us to do just that. I am overwhelmed that, for each of us, the invitation still stands.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A year ago

A year ago today our family gathered around the bed of my grandmother and watched her faith become sight as she passed from this life to the next. I was one of the speakers at her funeral. I read the words I wrote, a year ago now and feel a lump rise in my throat. I miss my grandmother. I miss seeing her face light up when Payton and Benjamin walk in the room and yet...I come back to the same thought I had a year ago...My grandmother has joined the chorus around His throne, How can I keep from singing? Here are the words I spoke at her funeral:

I love my grandmother and I love my family…I have approached the writing of these words carefully. I long to honor and bless my family. I long to honor the life of my grandmother, our mom-o as we called her and above all I long to honor our Father God who was the very reason her life had such a profound impact on so many.

As I have thought and prayed about the words I would share Psalm 102:18 has been running through my mind… “Let this be written for a future generation that a people not yet created may know the Lord.” There are 11 Cardwell grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and many more that have yet to be created. I look to the day when the words, the stories, the very heritage, that has been shared today will be passed to generations yet to come.

My cousins and I are full of memories of our grandmother. So much so we could fill hours with recounting them all…thankfully the Lord gave us the opportunity to do just that. In the past week we have sat by her side as we have held her hand and shared our memories. (share memories page)

During this past week we have watched our three mothers honor their mother until the very end. The impact of having four generations present at mom-o’s side as she left this world was life changing. The room seemed to overflow with tears, praises being sung, scripture being read and love being expressed. All the life that filled the room at her moment of departure was inspiring.

Over the past week I have thought often of Isaiah 51:1 “listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.” My grandmother and my mother have taught me to always use scripture in context and I am aware that this is a verse that was meant to encourage the exiled Israelites. However in mom-o’s final days I quoted it to her and told her I was finding great encouragement from it. For I look at the rock from which our family was cut and see a lineage of faithfulness- I see my cousins and I are people who have descended from those who have pursued righteousness. My cousins and I have watched my grandmother in her final days and in her final breaths find comfort and peace in the Word of God. Her passing has left a void, no doubt, but in a profound way I find difficult to express in words it has been an encouragement.

Our mothers, Vicki, Jan and Suzy loved their mother in a beautiful way…We witnessed them singing hymns over her, massaging her sore limbs, sleeping on the floor surrounding her bed so that if a need arose they could be the one to meet it, we saw them support each other as each grieved in a different ways, we saw them encourage each others children to express hope, love and memories to mom-o, we saw them take care of each others grandchildren, we saw that when one has the hope of heaven laughter is possible- that in 1st Corinthians 15:55 when it tells us the sting of death has been swallowed up in victory- it is a verse to be claimed and rejoiced in. We saw this verse lived out for eight days as each person came to realize the destination of the journey that we were on. We saw three sisters who loved their mother tell her it was ok to go…to claim her new body…to run to Jesus…to receive her ultimate healing. We saw them declare their love for their mom and for the Lord who was waiting to take her hand. As their children we were impacted in a way we are still absorbing. But in the entire world…you will not find 11 children more proud or more thankful to call Vicki Goode, Jan Kelley, and Suzy Jeffrey…Mom. Our Lord has given us a heritage of those who fear His name. There lives will continue to give testimony to the heart and life of their mother and father.

I have always loved Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Yet now at this stage of life I find this verse has taken on a deeper meaning. On August 10th at 9:33 I saw my mom-o’s flesh and her heart fail, yet in that moment I saw her take hold of a portion that will be hers for forever.

In 1860 a hymn was written by Robert Lowry…his words even now speak to my heart about our grandmother’s passage from this life to the next.
"My life flows on in endless song;Above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the sweet though far off hymnThat hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;It finds an echo in my soul—How can I keep from singing?
What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—How can I keep from singing?

May the Lord be praised for the life of Val Cardwell. She has joined the chorus around His throne…how can we keep from singing?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hands raised in Praise!

Just sent this email out to over 200 people that have been praying...I want the World to know how great is our GOD!

dearest friends-

The Lord has heard our cry and today the courts of Benin granted the long awaited piece of paper that Kelly and Randy have needed to begin Lael's American adoption...We are beside ourselves! So thankful to the Lord and so thankful to you for asking, seeking and knocking on our behalf!

You can read the details here: There are more steps to take but the process has started...something we have longed for for over a year now!

Join us in rejoicing He has answered our prayer of Psalm 90:16, "Let us see your miracles again; let our children see Your glory at work!"

His goodness is overwhelming!


Monday, August 07, 2006


Thank you for your prayers for Benjamin! He is feeling so much better. Tony spent the weekend in Tyler with his parents, Payton went to the ranch with my parents, so Benjamin and I had the whole weekend together to concentrate on getting him better. It was so sweet to have that time just he and I. We loved every moment of it...but the definite highlight of our weekend (right after welcoming Valerie home from England) was when we were reunited with Payton and Tony. I love watching Payton and Benjamin embrace...It is such a joy to watch their friendship grow!

I took these pictures of Benj a couple of weeks ago at the ranch. Tony has cleared out a new section of land and we had come over to explore. Tony was finishing trimming a tree so we sat down to wait on him...I loved how contented he was to just sit there and wait on his dad ( I am showing you 3 of about 10 pictures I took of this same scene...)

Thursday, August 03, 2006


This has been an interesting week...

Too many details to blog about... some mundane, some not mine to share, some just everyday frustrations of life on earth, and then on top of all of those issues, our sweetest Benjamin has been the kind of sick where he does not sleep unless held. He is currently on breathing treatments amidst other things trying to get his breathing back to normal and his temp down from 102.9...I have layed down beside his crib the past 2 nights listening for every breath (when he would allow us to put him in there) and I have prayed and thought of him and many of you.

I say all of this to say...23 comments on that last post...unheard of on this blog. But so appreciated. To all of you who commented, encouraged and made me smile, thank you! I thought of Proverbs 18:4 last night as I prayed for each of you..."A person's words can be life -giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook."

Thank you for offering life giving water to me and to my family. You thought you were posting a comment on a blog...the Lord used you to refresh my soul!


This was the boys at their birthday party...they were so excited! The party was at Glenview Baptist Church...they have a 4000 square feet, 4 story playland that our kids love.

(It was built with the vision that if you make the church a place kids love to come...they will bring their parents. They have open play several times a week when you can bring your kids and they have their childrens ministers walking around ministering to the community. We love the vision, we love the place!)

Benjamin in his flip flops...Notice he wears them between his 2nd and 3rd toes...It pains me to look at them, but everytime I fix them, he puts them back...People stop us constantly to tell me, "His flip flops are on wrong." My response, "Thank you , He's 2."

Payton was (as you can see) so excited to open his guitar. He loves it. He sits and strums and sings for hours...This morning I was holding Benjamin who was completely lethargic due to fever and Payton said, "This ones for Benj...I"m trading my sickness, I'm trading my pain, I am laying them down for the joy of the Lord..."

Benjamin blowing out his candle for most likely the 50th time! He wanted them re-lit iuntil we burned that 2 down to a nub...