Winter Reflections

YMSL Cedar Park, Vol.1, Issue 2

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In this edition:

  • Quarterly recap from Christy
  • Heroes Night Out
  • What a teenage boy needs most from his mom
  • Q&A from Connor & Andrew
  • Our very first YMSL Banquet is going to be AWESOME!


Hello YMSL Cedar Park Members,

Time sure does fly when we are serving those less fortunate in our community! As we wind down and approach the end of our inaugural year, it is my sincerest hope that each Mom and Son had some level of personal growth this year and that the investment of both your time and resources was of great value – I know it was for me.

Though we are all members of YMSL Cedar Park, each of us were able to select from a variety of charities and events that specifically interested us. These unique experiences helped shape our personal memories for the year, whether it be a forming a new relationship, a more personal view of poverty that is right here in our community, or that public speaking isn’t all that bad. Whichever your favorite memory, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon it and the impact both it and YMSL had on you and your son this year. In a few short weeks, we will CELEBRATE our members during our annual awards banquet. I can’t wait to reveal the total no. of hours our chapter served others this year!

Though this year will soon come to an end, we must move forward and begin planning for our 2016-2017 school year. In light of the great accomplishments we had this year, I am going to ask each of you to once again ‘step up’ next year and ‘step into’ supporting our boys (hint, this will be a BIG theme for us next year – let’s think FUN shoes!). YMSL is only as strong as our members and I ask each of you to thoughtfully consider ‘stepping up’ and committing to a Leadership role next year. YMSL provides a supportive community for growing and honing your personal leadership style. Yours truly is a prime example – and you even elected me President again! In my shoebox, 100% effort = 100% success. Cinderella could have only gotten the Prince if attempted to ‘step into’ the slipper (I know, weak analogy but hey, I’m going for a shoe theme here). If you have not already re-enrolled for next year, I ask you to complete the online process no later than March 20th. If you have any questions about any positions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or one of our board members. Together we can “Just Do It”!

Many Blessings,

Christy Herbstreit

President | YMSL Cedar Park Chapter

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Thank you to Lori Fisk for sharing the following YMSL Service experience.

YMSL Cedar Park, Friday, March 4, 2016

Lori & Jack Fisk

Jack and I had the opportunity to serve dinner to our Veteran’s and their families at “Heroes Night Out.” Heroes Night Out Founders, Wes and Judy Pierce focus on family friendly events, which are free to Veterans and their families. These no cost events are the heart of the organization. This is where Veterans may come for the first time to get a feel for the organization and begin connecting with other Heroes.

I found this service experience impactful and meaningful. It was rewarding to serve and give back to others that have already given so much and positive way to end a long week. As the boys served drinks and dinner, I took the opportunity to make my rounds and sit down with a few families and hear their stories.

I met Udo Dussling who took photos during the evening as a way to give back. He shared that he has made 52 trips around the world and has over 60,000 photos capturing his life experiences while serving. We were introduced to a HNO newcomer that served in World War II as well as a Vietnam Veteran who served as an POW Officer during his tenure and oversaw more than 20,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army Prisoners of War.

In closing, it was a wonderful experience and offered a unique opportunity to make that “human connection,” with our Veteran’s and their families. I look forward to serving again at HNO and taking advantage to meet, connect and hear more stories from our Heroes.


We wanted to share excerpts from a blog post from Monica Swanson, the Grommom, sharing inspiration and fresh perspectives for everyday life.

She has come up with what she believes are the eleven most important things that a Teenage boy needs from his mom…

Here they are:

1. A safe place to figure themselves out.

It happens almost every day, and sometimes many times a day: Teenagers are always changing. They will change their clothes. Their mood. How they walk, talk or what they’re into. Some days they just need to figure out what feels right. Some days nothing feels right. Being a teenager is hard. Sometimes our greatest job as Mom is to act like we don’t even notice.

2. Boundaries.

Our boys need to know what is absolutely ok, and what is absolutely not. They may resist rules, but deep down they feel safe when there are clear-cut rules without exceptions. Make them clear and consistent, and have absolute consequences in place for when they break rules. Boundaries = Security.

3. Freedom.

Within those boundaries, teenage boys need the opportunity to stretch their wings. Teenage boys should be encouraged…Even pushed–to try new things, to take some risks, to find adventure. Given enough opportunities for healthy adventure, they will avoid a lot of trouble. (Remember–“Idle hands” and all of that…)

Keep boys busy doing character building, exciting activities and watch them become men before your eyes.

Side note: **My personal Mom-motto has aways been “With Freedom comes responsibility.” The minute my boys act in irresponsibly, they will lose freedom. So the freedoms we give are taken very seriously.

4. A Listening Ear.

Boys need to talk. Even the quietest ones will open up when given the chance. Get them alone, in the car or wherever you can, and make it clear that you WANT to hear about their interests, and their lives. Be patient, and try different times and places until you figure it out. I push through the ‘awkward,’ and bring up subjects that make my boys squirm (hello puberty!) but no one has died yet. This makes it clear that I am OK with any and every topic and I will always be available and comfortable talking.

**When asked what he most needs from me, this was the first thing my oldest son named. A Mom that can listen and not criticize or manipulate is a really valuable thing. (call me a work in progress here.)

5. A Sense of Humor.

This is the good stuff. Teenagers…are hilarious. This may be my very favorite thing about these years. No more knock-knock jokes or bad made-up jokes that never seem to come to a conclusion. Teenagers actually GET STUFF. There’s hardly anything like the bond of a good laugh with my boys.

When one of my boys come out laughing and want me to watch a funny Vine or YouTube Video, I drop everything for it.

Side note #1: As for us–**We have a rule of “clean” entertainment only. No swearing or anything off-color. And they know that if I find them following anyone inappropriate, I’ll remove their Vine/YouTube etc account (See #2))

Side note #2**I have a “I can check your phone, computer, etc anytime I want to–no questions asked.” This keeps everyone in check.

There is plenty of FUN and FUNNY entertainment out there if you look for it.

it’s a hard world: A good sense of humor will get your kid through many trials in life–So encourage it.

6. Touch.

Your teenage son will likely pull away from you physically, and that is normal, albeit painful. But even the most rigid, sulky teenage boy needs hugs from Mom. Don’t get awkward and keep a distance. Create a “hug a day” rule or something that makes it routine and normal. He’ll love it even if he refuses to show it.

7. Genuine interest.

What does your teenager love? Learn to love it too. Know at least enough about what they are passionate about so that you can have a decent conversation. This will keep doors open greater than any other gesture you can make.

8. Forgiveness.

Teenagers will make mistakes. Lots of them. They’ll act selfish. They’ll space out. They’ll get insecure and do stupid things because of it. They are going to mess up so much you’ll wonder where you went wrong. If you know it’s coming, it won’t throw you off. Consequences may be in order, but so is a whole lot of grace.

9. Direction.

Listen Mom: Your teenager actually WANTS you to give them guidance. Sure, they’ll act like they don’t, but they do. Keep it relevant, and as brief as possible, but when you see them facing forks in the road, go ahead and speak some good solid words of advice to them. Share a Bible Verse that fits their situation. Quote someone they might respect. You are their greatest resource they have, and they need your direction. They’ll thank you, even if it takes twenty years.

10. Encouragement.

It’s hard to be a teenager. (remember?) The world will yell and scream all kinds of negatives to your son. So be his greatest fan. Be his cheerleader. Believe in him with your heart, and tell him that you do. Every. Single. Day. I’m not talking about phony, contrived encouragement (Everyone is a winner!) but the authentic kind that finds their greatest giftings, and speaks them boldly.

11. An example.

Our kids are watching us. They get a lot more of an idea about what is right, wrong, good and bad from what you do than what you say. So take your position seriously. No, you’ll never be perfect, and you can tell your kid that–but don’t use that fact as an excuse to be lame. If you don’t want them to swear, don’t swear. If you teach them to speak well of others, make sure you do the same. Probably the greatest thing you can do for your son is to model the kind of person you want them to be.


Again, we asked one 9th and one 10th grade young man from our chapter to answer a few questions about their experiences in YMSL. We think you will agree - our boys are growing up and YMSL is making a difference in their lives.

Connor, 9th grader at Cedar Park High School:

Q: What has been your favorite service project at YMSL and why?

A: My favorite service project was at the Dobie Middle School in Austin. Keep Austin Beautiful organized an entire day to make the school look better. My team was responsible for weeding, making a stone area around a gazebo and planting two Mountain Laurel's. This day was my favorite because we had a big group of Moms and Sons to do the project with. I liked being able to see the end of the project and how much we all did in one day. I bet the kids at that school were so happy to see what a big group of people came out to do for them.

Q: What have you learned by being a member at YMSL?

A: I have learned more than I thought I would being a member of YMSL. At first I didn't know what to expect. My mom just told me we were going to do this together and that I would know some of the other boys. I have learned that being part of YMSL has been a good thing. When we go to do service projects we can make other people happy by making food, helping them to bowl, serving them food or just cleaning up their school.

Q: Which boys meeting has been the most memorable and why?

A: My most memorable Boys meeting was when Lt. Baker was our speaker. He told us about all the things he has seen through his career. He talked about staying away from drugs and how they will ruin your life.

Q: Has YMSL made any kind of impact or difference in your life? And why?

A: YMSL has made an impact in my life. I had never really thought about people who needed food and where they would go to get it. I have really liked Mobile Loaves and Fishes. My Mom and I try to go once a month to make food and load the truck for people who are hungry or need clothes. It makes me feel like we make a difference for other people. I wasn't really sure if I would like the meetings. I was part of the Life Skills committee this year. At each meeting I had a part in presenting to the 9th grade class. I liked the things we did and I think some of them will stick with me for a long time. We learned to tie a tie, we talked about etiquette at the dinner table and as a guest. We also learned about distracted driving and how many kids have accidents or die. All of those things are important but not things I would have thought about as a ninth grader if I wasn't a part of YMSL.

Andrew, 10th grader at Cedar Park High School:

Q: What has been your favorite service project at YMSL and why?

A: I have enjoyed participating in delivering coffee grounds to the Mobile Loaves and Fishes community. Performing this service has given me joy by offering the experience to satisfy for another person. I feel that even though something like coffee is only a small part of what some people need, I can see on their face that they are happy because I came. I will always remember the bonds that I created with some members in need while serving that small community.

Q: What have you learned by being a member at YMSL?

A: I learned the truth in the quote “When serving, you get back way more than you give”. I also learned that on a service journey, the road traveled is of greater significance than the destination.

Q: Which boys meeting has been the most memorable and why?

A: I remember most the meeting that I had to give a speech on Time Management. I put into practice some of the tips discovered when preparing for my speech. I believe my peers in the YMSL like myself still use some of the helpful tips in our everyday school life.

Q: Has YMSL made any kind of impact or difference in your life? And why?

A: Yes. The YMSL experience has made me realize that I need to continue to give to the community. Through serving I have learned that it is better to see the smile on people’s faces than to get a gift of a material nature.


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We are very excited about our first YMSL Banquet, especially about acknowledging the service of our boys! We are also very honored to have Colonel Craig Flowers of Sideline Leadership to be our guest speaker. He consults NCAA coaches/players and his message focuses on being Authentic, Relentless and Sefless. Thank you to Brittany Podolak for securing him for our event! Make sure to RSVP and remember that the boys need to dress in slacks, button-down shirt and tie.


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If you have a story or any content you would like to share in an upcoming YMSL quarterly newsletter, please email Kelley Black. Thank you!