Cozumel, Mexico

Feeding the dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico

Feeding the dolphins in Cozumel, Mexico

It had been awhile since I had a God Wink.  A few weeks ago we were on a cruise with another couple who are good friends.  In the port of Cozumel we just decided to go to the beach and relax for the day since we all had been to this port many times.  We headed to a public beach and found us some chairs but no palapa to get under for shade.  I got hot and decided to get into the beautiful turquoise water to cool off.  I was swimming and floating in the water and ended up close to a father and his early teenage daughter who were snorkeling and bringing up seashells.  Me, being friendly and prone to talk to most anyone, struck up a conversation with the duo.  We talked about where they were from, Alabama, what ship they were on, Carnival Dream, what their ports were and so on.  We had chatted for about 15 minutes when the Mom came out to swim.  She came right up to the daughter to ask her a question…she said “Lauren…(blah, blah, blah,….)”….I don’t know what the question was because I didn’t get past “Lauren.”  When they finished talking I asked the girl her name again.  She said Lauren….and I said “I thought that was what I had heard.”  I told her how much I loved the name and that I had a Lauren too, I told them some about my Lauren and showed them my tattoo.  Of all the  names in the world that the daughter could have been…Ashley, Mary, Jessica, Shelby, Jennifer, Rebecca, Melanie and thousands more….it was Lauren.   She and Taylor had been to the beaches of Cozumel several times with us on family cruises…it was my sign…my God Wink.

After I got out of the water and walked up to our spot…Bryan, Pam and Hayden had been offered shade under a palapa by a large group of Vietnamese Americans.  We enjoyed visiting with Duc, who was a Doctor from Austin, and his children and grandchildren, from all over Texas, who were enjoying a multi-generational family cruise vacation.  We learned their family history and he talked about how important family was and to be there for each other and take care of each other.  It was a memorable day for more than one reason.

Taylor, Bryan & Lauren Cozumel, Mexico in 2004

Taylor, Bryan & Lauren
Cozumel, Mexico in 2004

July 2002 in Cozumel, Mexico

July 2002 in
Cozumel, Mexico

Mallory Vipond ~ SFA 2012-13

Suzanne Alston, Mallory Vipond and Bryan Alston

Suzanne Alston, Mallory Vipond and Bryan Alston

We enjoyed meeting Mallory Vipond who is the 2012-13 SFA Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship recipient.  She is a lovely young woman who smiled frequently.  When we first met her my eyes went to her pretty face and then straight to her neck…yes, her neck.  Mallory had on the exact same James Avery cross that I wear everyday that was Lauren’s and she wore almost everyday too…and she had it on when she had her accident.  Mallory’s mom gave her the cross necklace when she graduated from high school…another God wink.

Mallory will be a Senior this fall and is leaning toward being an Event Planner but after taking some Hotel/Motel management classes she enjoyed…she is investigating that avenue also.  She is from New Braunfels and after visiting with her we found how much we have in common and that we might could have “run across” each other before.  We go to the New Braunfels area often and we all liked eating at some of the same restaurants…going to Gruene Hall to listen to live music… the same bands and local stores.  Mallory told us about going to interview at the SFA Alumni Association for a summer job and that they told her about Lauren and how the scholarship was started.  She had tears in her eyes as I told her about the matching James Avery cross we both wear.  I told her what a God wink was and how it confirmed we had picked the right recipient…her.  We told her to stay in touch and we wished her all the best life has to offer.

Garage Sales and Godwinks

I realized recently that I hadn’t posted about the Garage Sale fundraiser we had in late August and September.  It was a huge success because of many helping hands, the generous donations of items, many long hours sorting and tagging, guidance from an estate sale pro and with a little blood, lots of sweat and mucho love… poured into the event.  We are so blessed to have generous and loving family and friends who are always willing to lend a helping hand, give us hugs, listen to our troubles and wipe our tears…they are the “hands and feet” of Christ.

It started with Ms. Betty…I only wanted to borrow some tables…but she went way above and beyond that request.  She gave of her time helping sort, price and set up…her talents of organizing a sale, making sales and running the cash register each day…her generosity of letting us use her tablecloths, signs, cash registers, and more.  And with her gift of listening… hearing our worries, pains, doubts and hurts…she shared with us bits of wisdom and His love that we needed to hear….she was a priceless gift.

We held the sale in one of our rent houses that was unoccupied at the time…and being indoors and having A/C  was a huge help.  One day as I was wiping out the kitchen cabinets, so we could display items in them, my rag pulled out something that I heard hit the counter.  I looked until I found it…a small purple flower pierced earring…for a little girl….I sucked in my breath…it looked like one Lauren had as a little girl…when we lived in this house.  I showed it to Bryan later and he immediately said “it looks like one of Lauren’s earrings”…how could it be…it had been 20 yrs since we lived in that house.   It was…a Godwink…a message from Him and her…they are with us.

The first day of the sale was a Friday.  Bryan’s parents came over early that morning from Nacogdoches to help with the sale and they brought their local newspaper.  A little later in the morning, when there was a break in the action, Bryan started reading the paper.  The first section he read…on the second page…was a picture….of Lauren….yes, Lauren…how could it be.  She had been asked to be a “pretty girl”  in some promotional pictures for an up and coming Texas country musician…JD Newbury…and he was appearing that night in Nacogdoches.  Bryan brought it to me with a shake of his head and tears in his eyes…I had to “show and tell” all the workers…and soon we all were crying…tears of disbelief…sadness… and then tears of joy…for the Godwink…we felt she was with us and telling us she approved of what we were doing.

JDLaurenLauren is the girl on the left.

Later, as I was going to the different rooms checking on the workers stationed there, I saw one of Lauren’s friends, Maegan aka Skippy, with tears in her eyes.  I hugged her and asked if she was ok.  She said… “A few minutes ago I was looking out the window thinking of Lauren and the fun times we had together…and I know you aren’t going to believe me but I saw her name written on the window…like a child would have.”  I started to cry and told her I did believe her…because we were in Lauren’s bedroom….it was another Godwink.  You see we had left the A/C running all night and there was some condensation on the windows…and Lauren had probably written her name on the only window in that room….and Skippy didn’t know, until then, that we had ever lived there.

One of Lauren’s friends, MJ, had made posters with our mission statement and pictures of the scholarship recipients.  We had those above the check out station so everyone could see it, we told all who entered the purpose of the garage sale and we passed out slips of paper with the LAF website address so they could look us up online.  Some people were moved by our story and her legacy of helping others, that we are trying to continue, and gave more than what they bought.

Between 2 different garage sales totaling 3 days and Ms Betty selling our “best left-overs” in one of her estate sales…we raised right at $4500.  We also have a brand new SS KitchenAid Double Convection Oven (valued at $2300) that a special friend, Beth, donated that we trying to sell at the highest price and money from clothes that were donated to Rose Cottage Resale that will be added to this awesome total….for an even bigger grand total.  🙂

*If you wish to still donate there are several ways you can always do so…anytime of the year*

You can make a donation on this site by clicking the “To DONATE Online” button and use your PayPal account.  OR mail it to: LAF  PO Box 152535  Lufkin, Tx  75915   OR you can take your nice, gently used clothes, jewelry, shoes and purses, anytime to Rose Cottage Resale, located in Lufkin, and tell them to put it under the account/name of Lauren Alston Foundation.

**In case you missed one of my earlier post about Godwinks and you are wondering what that means.  It is from a book I highly recommend called ~ When GOD Winks at You~ by Squire Rushnell     Here is what they are:  messages of assurance that no matter what is happening in your life or how uncertain things may seem at the moment, God is with you and will help you move toward certainty. “When God Winks at You is an amazing array of real-life stories that will help you begin to recognize the godwinks in your own life and attain an unshakable confidence that you are never alone…and never have been.”  He has several books on Godwinks and I just downloaded a new one I am fixing to read called ~ Divine Alignment ~  How Godwink Moments Guide Your Journey