Posts Tagged ‘mom’

Monday’s Manna from Castro’s Corner @ Chicklit Power

Monday, April 7th, 2014
Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power...

Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power…

Happy Monday Manna! Mondays seem to roll around faster and faster week-by-week. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the classic line, “The older you get, the faster it goes!”

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that there is a lot of truth behind this saying. It seems like it was just yesterday that my mother was literally carrying me into my preschool’s “Meet and Greet Day.” She was wearing a colorful sundress and I remember hiding my face in her shoulder as she attempted to sit me at the table with all of the other students in class. At the end of the day I hadn’t made any friends, so I sat alone underneath the playground slide where I had a perfect view of the whole parking lot. I knew she was coming at 4:30PM and when I saw that big red van coming into Christ the King’s parking lot, I was overwhelmed with joy and relief! So maybe I had a minor case of separation anxiety, but who could blame me? My mom was super-woman and she still is.

After my father had passed — I was eleven years old — my mother took on the role of head of household. Like any single mom, there is a massive learning curve involved when raising two adolescent boys. She kept us regimented. Our weekly five a.m. water polo and swim practices were NEVER missed and we could always count on a warm, home cooked meal on the table at 7 p.m. We were a team. As I got older I realized that our family dynamic was different than most.

When my mother married her second husband Dave Austin, I was ecstatic. I knew that Dave would be the new father figure in my life and I had a lot of catching up to do as it had been years since having a dad. I also knew that Dave would provide for my mother; that is until the unexpected happened. When we received that phone call that Dave had crashed on his motorcycle and was transported to the Arrowhead Regional’s I.C.U, we all were in disbelief. Dave passed away two days later after suffering from a pulmonary embolism that had originated from a major bone fracture in his femur. My mother was in shock and I was in denial. Even seeing Dave lying there on the hospital gurney, after he was coded, I spoke to him as if he were playing a joke on us. How could this happen again…?

Just like before, we were alone. But we were a force to be reckoned with! We cleaned together, cooked together, ran together, laughed together, and cried together. We had each others’ backs and we could count on one another for anything. It was that way for many, many years but then change took place once again: My mother remarried – it’s been approximately seven years now — and I moved out, got married, and started a new life with my wonder bride, Kayla. Life was busy for all of us and one day blurred into the next.

About a year ago, during a hectic time of buying our first home, mom called and she asked me how I was doing. We actually hadn’t spoken in months. I was so busy with my new job and with moving into our new house that I hadn’t taken the initiative to contact her. When I explained how busy I’d been, there was a pause, and I heard her begin to cry over the phone. She said that she missed the way things used to be. After all, we were the “unstoppable duo.” We had been through everything together.

She always apologizes after she cries, which I find funny, and she did just that. She reminded me of Matthew 19:4-6 – “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh; therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” And as she recited this verse I began to have flashbacks of all the memories we shared together. I broke down too, and told her I loved her. My mother has always been my biggest fan and vice versa. Mothers will never know the long-lasting impact they will have on their children.

This writing would have been most appropriate for mother’s day, but to all you mothers who are reading this- You will never know how much you have impacted the lives of your children. A good mother exemplifies a Christ-like love and I believe that God has a special place in heaven for you. God Bless You!

In His Love,

Castro'sCornerPicP.S. Join Steve & Evinda for more relationship revelations on How to Love Who You Love on Blog Talk Radio! Just click on the link to listen when you can! Show airs at 1:00 Pacific time!




Garrett Castro



















Castro'sCornerPicP.S. Join Steve and Kim (Evinda) for Blog Talk Radio, 30 minutes of relationship counseling! Just click on this link and listen at 1:00 live, or at your convenience.

Nana Holds from Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

EL pen Logo with heart

Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power...

Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power…

Oh, but it’s good to be where my heart beckons me: Kauai! I’ll share pictures and moments next week but for now, I just want to stay in Nana Holds. Grab your coffee and come on in.

So I just read from my journal of March 5th and the memories came flooding back to me, things I felt in the moments that I now, months later, realize were moments that were adding to the change in me.

We had had an incredibly busy Sunday and I realize that though I was longing to rest on the Sabbath, I lived like I didn’t know the meaning of that word. See, Sundays were the days reserved for going to see Bryden’s daddy. Some Sundays were easier than others and some Sundays, well honestly, it felt like an overwhelming chore. That’s not because I didn’t want to see him but because I felt as though I had so many other things I had to do too: Laundry, grocery shopping, writing for all forms of social media for the following week. I mean, come on, let’s face it; we could all sit down with a piece of paper and fill it up with to-do’s in a blur of a minute. How is a girl to juggle it all?

I didn’t want to act like it was a chore because there was a season where we had to do the exact same thing with my son: visit him every Sunday to encourage him in his journey of sobriety. As a matter of fact, there are many memories that we created and shared on those Sundays with Bryden’s daddy that I will treasure forever and draw upon when I need a smile from the inside out.

But my journal entry reflects that the Sunday that had just passed had been one of those long and exhausting Sundays; however, it also reflects some pretty sweet things, like just how well Bryden did in our world as we did a couple of the things we needed to do before going to see Bryce. These words really stop my breath: “I don’t want there to be that hesitation with him, but I long for connection.”

Wow, God has answered the cry of my heart in that area for sure! I wasn’t quite where I am now as far as fitting into his world more than trying to make him fit into mine. Oh, how I value the process and His divine sovereignty in it.

I just now realized, months later, that He answered that particular cry of my heart that I had echoed for a while at that point the night before. See, he had a very rough night and as I was in my quiet time on Monday morning, I reflected on it but didn’t quite get what I just got: He woke up three times during the night, crying, not just tears but he used one word, just one word: Nana!

I shot up out of bed each and every time, holding him to me, rocking him like only mothers do, kissing his tears away and telling him everything was going to be okay. The first time I asked him if he had a bad dream and he said, “Yeah,” and put his head on my shoulder and sucked in a sob or two. But something else was obvious; he was coming down with another infection of some sort because he sounded awfully congested. When I laid him down, I stayed for a few minutes and rubbed his back until all was calm again. Then I tip-toed back to my bed and it seemed just minutes later, though it had been about an hour, and I heard him cry again. This went on for a total of three times and on the third time I put him in bed with us – to heck with what others say about form of bonding – and he slept the rest of the night.

I was connecting without hesitation! I didn’t realize it then but I do now! Duh!

As I finish the journal entry for that day, I’m writing about listening to the birds singing as he’s sleeping, realizing that I’ll need to keep him home from school and all my stuff on my to-do list has to get set aside. I wrote: “Teach me how to do this, Father, to fit into his world and still make time for mine. Help me seek you in all things, Lord. I am a mess; clean me up!”

Wow, I’m still a mess, but it’s easier to look at now, sort of, than it was back then. How beautiful He makes all things . . .

Join me Wednesday for more of Nana Holds, and tomorrow for more tips and tidbits in our Invitation Tuesday series!

Praising Him for His sovereignty,


Nana Holds!

Nana Holds!

Invitation Tuesdays!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013


Thanks for joining me for our little Coffee Hour break and our invitation Tuesdays. When you’re done reading this, feel free to share this invitation. We want to pack The River Church out! Grab your coffee and come on in.

So as I mentioned, the second half will be like a T.V. talk show – we’re even going to have commercials honoring all our raffle vendors/donators and we are going to address real life issues. What I didn’t mention is this is going to be the most interactive event we’ve held but we need your help. We have heard from several people about their relationship struggles, challenges and questions, but we’d like to hear from more of you. What is your most important relationship? What is a consistent struggle you have in that relationship?

And please know, we are not limiting “relationship” to husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. What about the relationship with our kids, or our BFF, or an unlovable/difficult friend? Maybe you struggle with your mom, or your dad. Whatever the relationship is and whatever the relationship struggle/challenge is, we’d like to hear about it so we can perhaps offer a different perspective, a little diamond that shines brilliantly on a solution! So far we have a couple of issues as they relate to the mother/son relationship; we have several husband/wife issues, mother/daughter issue but we all know the types of issues are endless so we’d like yours! We will, of course, do this anonymously, so please, email me at or Steve Atkinson, M.F., at .

In the meantime, mark your calendars:




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Nana Holds

Monday, January 14th, 2013
Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Thanks for joining me today for more of this life-changing series, Nana Holds. At least it’s changing my life and I pray that if there are any other nanas out there entrusted to care for their grandchild or grandchildren that they would be greatly encouraged through these words. Grab your coffee and come on in. We were at our first court appearance but we are not alone.

Though the courthouse is anything but unfamiliar to me, the thought of being on the other side of the bench was not a comforting one. Being in the court-reporting chair and being at counsel’s table before the court is definitely two different experiences! But let me tell you what happens before we get there.

I was trying to think of a name to give Bryden’s mom out of respect for her privacy and the first thing I thought of was BM for biological mom, but I better not do that because it could also stand for something else and that wouldn’t be very nice:)  We’ll just call her bio mom.

She came toward us and was very cordial. She seemed a bit anxious, as we all were, but nothing out of the ordinary. What

Bryden in his room with his toys

Bryden in his room with his toys

was somewhat out of the ordinary is the amenable attitude towards us, considering the situation. I mean, we are literally saying we don’t believe she should get custody of her son so I’m sure you can imagine how awkward it was, or at least could have been.

But she seemed to have sanity wrapped around her, at least for the days surrounding this process, and as the Court questioned her, she responded, and quite confidently, that considering the circumstances, and in light of where she was living — she was staying with her grandma who lives in a seniors only apartment complex and no children are allowed — the best place for her son to be was with us. “However, she said, I do have a declaration I’d like to file in rebuttal.”

I could tell the Court was trying to hide her disregard for bio mom’s ignorance of court rules and procedures as she looked up and matter-of-factly replied, “Then I suggest you get it filed according to the rules of Court before the next court date because I can’t look at it until it is.”

I turned my head to hide my internal smirk that I just know was about to bust outward and then looked back again as the Court declared: “This court awards temporary guardianship of Bryden Lepins to George and Kim Lepins. The next court date to establish permanent guardianship is September 24th. Thank you very much.”

I turned to George and he and I smiled at the irony of the court date. We would be appearing before Her Honor on my husband’s birthday!

Join me Wednesday for more of Nana Holds.



IMG_8444-2 blog

P.S. Join me and Steve today at for more on breaking free from co-dependency!

What’s a Self-fulfilling Prophecy Anyway? From Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and thanks for sharing your break with me. I hope you are enjoying this series. And if this is your first time with Coffee Hour, please, check out the previous blogs to this series. Grab your coffee and come on in.

When the alarm went off last Wednesday at 5:30, I groaned out loud, realizing that while my body had rested, my mind had run all night long. 🙂 🙁 🙂  That’s how it is more often than not the week of an event. Anyway, I was pretty tired but pressed my “automatic” button and after my quiet time, a little bit of office time, and getting little Bryden ready for the day and situated with daycare, I was off to work.

One of the first things I do as I make my way to the freeway is call my self-adopted mom. I love to talk with her every day and this day was no different. We caught up with the events in each of our yesterdays. Towards the end of our conversation, I asked her to pray for me because it had been over a week since I had been on my court reporting machine and I didn’t know how I was going to keep up with this particular attorney. And then I stopped myself as I realized what I had said. I quickly did a “rewind,” wishing I could swallow the words that had come out.

“Mom, I can’t believe I just said that, especially since I’m in the midst of this self-fulfilling prophecy series! Here’s what I really meant to say: ‘I’m going to write so well today that I’m going to be able to send the file on over to my scoper before I even leave the office!”

“Well, all right then,” Mom replied.

We finished up our call and by that time I had pulled into the parking lot of the attorney’s office. I got my equipment all set up and ready, exchanging idle chit-chat with the attorneys and then we were on the record. I leaned back and did my thing.

And here’s the crazy truth: At the end of the day – we were only on the record about three and a half hours – I had over a couple hundred thousand strokes and only 36 un-translated words! And the blessing for changing my words was two-fold: They needed an expedited transcript so I had to have it to them the next day by 5:00 p.m.!

When everyone had left, I went through the job quickly to fix the un-translated words, backed the job up and then e-mailed it to my scoper and headed home and it wasn’t until I left the office that I remembered the words I had said to mom on the way to work.

Oh to have more of those positive self-fulfilling prophecies!




We Become Like Who We Hang Out With-Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Welcome back to Coffee Hour with Chicklit Power and to our WOW rewind. Grab your coffee and come on in and join this discussion. We left off with me thinking about an example and I came up with one because it’s so in my face right now. 🙂

I can’t really go into detail about this particular example but let me just be briefly blunt and say our little 23-month grandson moved in with us and his daddy on New Year’s Day and our lives have been changed dramatically. As you can imagine, it’s been challenging and beautiful all at the same time.

Something that’s not so beautiful is the way this little guy comes home after a two-day visit to his mom. Without being negative, let me just say it’s almost like he morphs into an angry little boy and we have to spend the next couple of days influencing him back to who he is.

I know that doesn’t apply to us as adults and yet I can’t help but realize that if our relationship with our Father is not strong, might we be as easily influenced when seeking ungodly counsel? I would be willing to put myself out there with not only a yes but using my newly-coined word, absodarnlutely! 🙂 🙂

I was starting to get influenced by my negative self that said don’t drag this out, but His influence won out by reminding me when it comes to scripture, we can take our time and chew on it for a while. Join me Monday for more of this particular WOW rewind of how we become like who we hang out with.




Gifts of the Season, From the Heart & Not the Pocket From Coffee HOur @ Chicklit Power

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and thanks for joining me for more on this series, Gifts from the heart, not the pocket. Grab your coffee and let’s get back to our discussion about “Jesus being the reason for the season.”

Now before I can ever claim that Jesus is the reason for the season, I really have to watch what I’m doing and how and why I’m doing it. See, Jesus did not tell you or me to run the credit cards up to their max, buy unnecessarily for any and all, trying to impress and or keep up with the Joneses, dropping from too much shopping, baking ‘til we’re shaking, flying from too much buying. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. 🙂 It’s all a bit contradictory for what and who Jesus really stands for! We must remember, JESUS Is the reason for EVERY season!

Many of these traditions have become a form of manipulation. You notice that Christmas gets earlier and earlier every year? And we even have an all-weekend Black Friday and an Internet Black Monday? At least on the Internet, no one’s getting pepper-sprayed, trampled on and/or killed all in the name of “Jesus”! Really?

After teaching the workshop last year on How to Keep it Real through the Holidays, I was given a huge test to make sure I would live what I had learned. See, my number 1 unlovable person on my list of unlovable/difficult people, my biological mom, took a fall and life as I knew it came to a halt. Plans were changed, parties cancelled and for the next couple of weeks, my life was not my own. But Christmas was happening all around me while I became the daughter to my mom that I never was, and in her illness, He revealed to me the mom I had always wanted.

How was this made possible? I’m so glad you asked! 🙂 By giving the gifts of the season! Join me tomorrow for more.

In His Gifts,


P.S. Don’t forget to join us for our Blog Talk Radio show today at 1:00 Pacific time. We will be interviewing a special friend of the show who is entering recovery from an eating disorder. Join us!


How to get the most out of your Day (1) From Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and thanks for stopping by. I’m excited to be sharing this series with you. I don’t profess to be a genius in this area, nor do I have all of the answers to this important question: “How do we get the most out of our day?” But one thing is for sure, I have learned, the hard way, that it’s all about priorities. Grab your coffee and come on in.

His sense of humor never ceases to amaze me, especially right before a big Destination? Joyful! ™ event, and our last one is no exception. He usually puts something in my heart that has to be corrected or improved within my own life and He knows I’ll be transparent in my faltering while learning or trying to improve.

I can say this: learning how to get the most out of our day is an ongoing process. The reason why is because meeting life on life’s terms is not always easy and often interferes with priorities, if we let it.

We as women wear a lot of hats; for example, within the hat of “mom” are several hats, such as teacher, taxi, cook, nurse, soccer mom. You get the picture. And then there’s the hat of your career if you work outside the home and if you’re involved in and with your church, there’s the ministry hat. Now, that’s a lot of hats and I haven’t even named them all! 🙂

Oh, I remember trying to do all the small stuff and then try and squeeze Him into my day. I’ve had to learn the hard way that it doesn’t work that way, no matter how many different ways I try it. If we don’t put The Rock before the small stuff, life becomes insanity, which is trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Below is a clip that shows first how many of us start our day, and then second, how we should begin our day. I hope you enjoy it! This wasn’t professionally taped, so bear with the sound and turn it up accordingly! 🙂







He Gathers our Tears-From Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Thanks so much for joining me for Coffee Hour. Today’s blog is dedicated to my self-adopted mom, her entire family, and any other mom who has lost a son or a daughter. Grab your coffee and come on in, but bring some Kleenex with you when you do.

I pulled myself away from what I was doing when my cell phone rang, but as soon as I saw “Mom’s cell” show up on my screen, I happily pressed the button to take her call. I was about to say a very happy hi – I love hearing her voice and we usually talk every day, especially when she’s on these around-the-world trips in her RV with her hubby. I just miss her and yet it squeezes my heart that she, at the age of 84, is able to still do this. Anyway, there was this sobbing on the other end and immediately every ounce of my being stood still, even the beat of my heart. I listened as the sobs turned into almost incomprehensible words. “K… -im…, D… -av…-id’s gone.”

I heard her the first time but I still said “What?” My brain just was not comprehending the message.

“David died in the middle of the night,” she managed to get out in between sobs. The world stood still for me then as I felt her pain and all I could do was cry out, “N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o.” Our sobs joined. “I’m so sorry, Mom.” I felt her pain, even though I have never lost a child. All I wanted to do was hold her. I longed to be where she was, but reality was she was in Maine and I in California. The release for my soul’s ache was that she would seek our Father’s grasp.

Immediately I was reminded and relieved that she had had some very special time with him and in fact had just left his house just two days before, planning on coming back after she went to visit one of her grandsons in Maine. I voiced that relief and she agreed and then was reduced to tears again. Thank you, Father, that you have gathered her tears.

Despite the truth that she had some quality time with him this last visit, she knew in her gut something wasn’t right. She as much told me so every day when we talked. She was so sad and heavy-laden as she told me about his struggles, his biggest apparent struggle being that of breathing. Their early-morning breakfast time had become a beautiful tradition every time she came to visit and this time was no exception. What cast a shadow upon it this time was his lack of appetite – a 240 lb man eating only part of a banana and a glass of milk? Mom made him promise he would go see a doctor, and in fact before she left on Tuesday, he told her he had an appointment that Thursday morning.

Mom went on to tell me more of the details that had just been relayed to her; that on Wednesday evening, he had begun to cough up blood, so they took him to emergency. The things that happened next and the discoveries that were uncovered happened within a very short time: They x-rayed his lungs and discovered several cancerous tumors stealing his air. He slipped into a coma and within two hours, he was gone.

As I listened, I just knew in my gut that David had waited to see his mom; that he knew there was something terribly wrong within him and he was ready in his mind, body and soul to go get his new body, claim those new lungs so he could sing in heaven with the angels as he waits for those in his family who dare to believe in the reality of The Heavenly Father, the gift of eternal life in Heaven. Oh, Merciful Father, thank you for putting a quick stop to any and all of his suffering. Even though her and I and my self-adopted sister, Shari, know that we’ll see him again, the sadness is so heavy! 🙁  Hope is our common denominator.

This is still an incredibly sad time for them, and because they are so sad, my heart is sad, too. That’s what family does, especially the family of Christ: We share in one another’s sorrow and joy. Mom said something so true: “You expect that you may bury some or all of your siblings; you expect maybe your spouse, but no way are you supposed to bury your own children.”

The reality of the unfairness of that hits me in the eyes of my heart and yet I must rely on His word that PROMISES (with His blood) that He works ALL things out for the good (His glory and our good) for those who are called according to His purpose. I know my self-adopted mom is called according to His purpose and one of her many purposes in life was to reach out to a wounded wretch like me and love me unconditionally, and therefore start my process so I could go and encourage others.

Because of what I’ve learned, what I’ve come to know as truth, I had to remind her that there would be something beautiful and amazing that came out of this incredibly unexpected and heart-wrenching loss. Her words to me: “I know that, but would you please help me find it when it does.”

Oh, friends, reach out to those who have lost. Don’t tell them not to cry, because you’re asking them not to feel. Don’t even suggest that they have much to be thankful for, because they can’t see that right now. Just love on them, and in a prayerful way, remind them of the hope we share, and the promise that something beautiful will come from the pain of the loss.

I love you so very much, Mom. And to the whole Standefer family, may the love your family was founded on bind you together toward heaven, that you may enjoy the biggest family reunion ever! 🙂

Evinda (Kim)

Join Steve & me for Blog Talk today at 1:00 Pacific time, or just click on the “Listen to my weekly podcast” link and you’ll land right in our Destination? Joyful! show.


The Night after the Bachelorette-From Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Welcome to Coffee Hour @ Chicklit Power and thanks for coming by for “The Night after the Bachelorette.” Grab your coffee and come on in. We’re about to go on the hometown dates with Ashley and the four guys, Ben, Constantine, Ames and JP, and it appears we have some concerned families.

It’s already the first commercial break and the only thing she’s said that is worth writing is that when you meet the families, it puts things on a whole different level. Okay, let’s get to the first hometown date with Constantine, who is a restaurant owner.

Oh, I can’t wait to meet his family. He took her to his restaurant and she was really impressed with the love all his staff showed him. He taught her how to make a pizza while his staff peeked around the corner totally checking her out. He’s actually very funny and Ashley picked up that he’s totally real and more comfortable in his own space. Constantine just said something rather profound: “That’s like the beauty of love is that you can only be open and ready for it. You can’t do anything to make it happen or force it to happen.” OMG, you should have seen his chefs and waiters and waitresses all looking through the glass window out onto the patio, straining their necks, a couple of them obviously on tippy-toes to see if he was going to kiss her and he didn’t disappoint them! 🙂

Now it’s time to meet his family. How cute; they have balloons hanging up with a “Welcome Home Constantine” sign. His sister, mother and father were so excited to see him. Dad recognizes his happiness right away. The love in the family is beautiful music and it inspires Ashley.

Mom initiated a one-on-one talk with Ashley and I love her insight. She wants her son to find the love of his life, but she feels that they need more time because of course, everything is wonderful when you’re jetted away to these awesome places and beautiful beaches, and life is wonderful, but real life is different! Can I get an AMEN!!! I like her! Now she wants to ask a mama question, which was legitimate. She wanted to know if this did go in that direction, would Ashley relocate to where they all were, and Ashley said without a doubt, she wouldn’t have a problem doing that, especially if it’s what he wants.

Now it’s time for father and son who reiterates that it takes time, but he gives his blessing if he feels that Ashley’s the one. Dad said to use his mom and him as an example. He talked about ups and downs, that it’s not going to be perfect, but in the beginning, it should be.

Ashley was obviously very comfortable and had no idea about the planned surprise just as they were going to get ready to leave the doorbell rings and his entire family shows up, grandmas, aunts, uncles, sister, cousins and then they did this dance. I could so get on with his family. “All the pieces of the puzzle are really put together for me and Constantine,” Ashley said. She really didn’t want to go. And Constantine’s dad, well he wished for them to have love forever.

Ahhh, Ames is so excited to see her and his family includes a sister and her husband, another sister and a brother and his wife and his nephews and nieces. Mom can see that Ashley has really caught Ames attention, and his sister Serena could see the spark but wonders if Ashley has it. So, she gets right to it and tells Ashley clearly he has feelings for you. It’s serious now. You’re meeting his family now, his nieces and nephews and I’m just curious, what are your feelings for Ames?

Ashley admits that their relationship has moved a lot slower than the others but she’s choosing him over the relationships that have moved faster because she sees so many good things in him.

Serena asks another tough question: are you comfortable when you guys are together? Is it easy or do you feel like you have to work toward things or do you guys just — does it come naturally?

She feels something for him; he’s different in a good way and she’s just not ready to stop learning about him.

His sister says, “He’s like an onion. You keep peeling layers and you’re going to find out more.” She then confirms that he’s the most loyal, honest person you’ll ever know and he’s a romantic. His sister says that Ames has brought other girlfriends home before but this time it’s different. “He’s smitten with you.”

All Ashley could say is she wants to know more.

When Mom and Ames talk, he really comes out with how much he admires how she’s handled things. We definitely have a different opinion on that one.

Okay, now back with his sister Serena. Ashley asked her to tell her a bit about Ames’s father who died when Ames was ten and then his step-dad passed away, too. So that gave Ashley another piece to this puzzle. Serena wasn’t convinced that Ashley’s spark was/is as bright as Ames. Oh, now Ashley is telling Ames’ mom that she thinks they’re both similar and yet, when Ames has said that, she looked a bit bemused. Bummer, she just admitted to still missing the spark, that romance and passion. Why is it we feel that has to come first?

Oops, his sister gave Ames a heads up about kicking up the romance, so he did just that and took her to this beautiful garden and under his favorite tree with a picnic lunch.

Oooh, I like what Ames says: You can have romantic through the ordinary. There’s so much more magic in the ordinary; life doesn’t have to be like fireworks. And then she reached over and he leaned in and kissed her. Then he took her on a horse-drawn carriage with some beautiful horses, the perfect ending to their hometown date, a storybook romance.

Now it’s time for Ben, Sonoma, California. This is the winemaker and he says it’s his turn to surprise her all day. They start at the winery, and he shows her many more facets to him and they share a sweet moment before they begin their picnic in the rain. Ben tells Ashley that he’s only brought one woman home to meet his mother, and he assures her that it’s a big deal to him. Ashley asked Ben to describe his dad: “A gentle giant, super happy with life, soft-spoken, didn’t say a lot but super, super happy about life. He would have liked you.” Ben admits that this process has put him in touch with a different side of himself, the emotional side and he likes it. I hope he’s able to say that no matter what happens. Ben makes it very clear that “my mom and sister have to like you, or it’s not going to work for me.” If things don’t go well, then it may be the end for me.” Wow, his vineyard is beautiful.

Ben’s sister breaks the ice by talking about Ben’s hair, and then admitted to being the one that signed him up for the Bachelorette. Julia says Ashley is sweet, but she’s skeptical so she brings Ben in the kitchen and they talk, heart to heart. Ben admits to being into it despite it being scary and exciting all at the same time. When his sister asked if he saw himself engaged at the end of this, she smiled when he responded that if things keep progressing the way that they are, he most definitely sees himself engaged. Wow, I sure hope he don’t get a broken heart. 🙂 🙁  🙂

Ben told his mom that he hasn’t said he loves her but he likes her a lot. He’s really grown through this process, and he talks about his dad that passed away, and mom tells him that she thinks dad would be proud of him. Ahh, Ben has tears in his eyes. What a sensitive heart. With tears running down his face, he admits to missing his dad. There really is a little boy inside each man.

Okay, so now it’s JP’s hometown and this is who I think she feels the most for. We’re in Long Island and JP’s so excited to have her all to himself and he didn’t sleep a wink all night. It’s raining so JP has a special plan for them and Ashley narrates that she doesn’t care if she walks with JP down the street for three hours. She just wants to be with him. That says a lot! They’re going roller skating and didn’t even get their skates on before kissing. She is the most genuine with him. She’s going to meet his mother, father, his brother Roy and his brother’s girlfriend. JP admits to taking only four girls home to meet his family. He also admits that he’s willing to risk getting hurt for a chance at love. Interesting concept, huh?

The welcome from the family was genuine and loving. Mom is concerned and has so many questions to ask. She is honest about not wanting to see her son’s heart hurt like it was hurt before. When she asked if he was in love, he couldn’t quite say it, but he is confident that she doesn’t share what they share with the other guys. Mom is still guarded and tells Ashley as much as she relives a season of broken-heartedness for JP and says she’s nervous because she sees love in JP’s eyes when he looks at her. Mom really puts her on the spot and Ashley doesn’t flinch at all, but in fact encouraged it. She fell in love with JP’s family and talking to Chris, she has no regrets. I think maybe Constantine and JP and Ben get to stay, but let’s see.

Ben is the first name she calls to give a rose to. JP is second. Boy, they’re milking it. Just say Constantine’s name and get it over with. Whew, she just did. Poor Ames, he’s completely shocked, but still he’s smiling. He breaks down a little bit, telling her how impressed he is with her, and that it was beautiful and even more poetic than he expected and that he will remember every second of it. What a truly nice, nice guy, another broken heart. Somebody please tell me what is the purpose in all of this?

Have a great day,