Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Wes Got Saved!

A couple years ago, when Wes was 5, he began to talk to me about salvation. He would randomly say, “Mom! I just asked Jesus in my heart!”  I’d follow up with, “Well, did you hear God speak to you?” He would always say no. He’d leave it at that and then go to sleep.

My dad has always said, “If you can put them off, then it isn’t the Holy Spirit. If they come to a place where you can’t put them off, then you know it is the Spirit.” He’s done this forever with parents, so I took his wise advice.   

For the last year or so Wes has asked me, “When is God going to speak to me?” I would respond, “He will talk to you when He’s ready. Remember you won’t hear His words in your ear, you will just sense them in your heart.”

This had become quite a controversy at our house though. He would sometimes be brought to the point of tears and say, “Mom, why won’t God speak to me? I still haven’t heard him.” I would reassure him again, “Wes, God knows what He’s doing. He will speak to you when he’s ready.” This went on for months, probably closer to a year.

On Friday night, January 12, 2018, I was back home at my parent’s house and Wes said, “Will you read this book to me?” I began to read it and in short, the story was about a little girl whose heart was black and filled with sin and then she meets Jesus and he cleans her heart up, so that it becomes white. It was a great little book, I thought. But then here we went again, Wes just started weeping, “Why won’t God speak to me? I’ve been praying and asking him for so long to speak to me. When mom? When?” I put him in bed, still crying, and honestly, I was kind of worn out with it, I said, “Wes, this is a trust issue. You’re going to have to trust God. He will speak when it’s the right time. He will. Trust him.” He cried himself to sleep.

The next Sunday, we were all sitting in church together. As we were standing and singing, Wes turned to me and said, “Mom… I hear God speaking to my heart.” I just sort of stood there for a second and then said, “Well, okay Wes, go ahead and pray back to Him.” He bowed his head over the chair in front of him and prayed.”

I won’t go into all of the details, but Wes couldn’t stop talking about it all day. He brought it up with me, with my dad, with my mom…multiple times through out the day. He just couldn’t hold it back. My dad suggested for us to walk through a simple wordless book, one page each night for the next 5 nights. That is what we did and we began with page 1 that evening.

Later that week one evening, after reading the wordless book, I said, “Now that God has spoken to you, He is going to keep speaking to you.” Wes was taken back. He couldn’t believe it. “Really?” he said,  “Oh mom I’m so excited. I think he is speaking to me right now. I think He’s asking me about my day right now. He wants me to tell him about my day.” I said, “Well, that is great. I know he wants to talk to you.” He followed that with, “Mom, my heart wants to say something to God.” I said, “Okay, what do you want to say?” He said, “I just want to tell God that He is the BEST. I want him to know HE is THE BEST!”

On Thursday, we finished the wordless book, so I asked Wes if he wanted to pray and ask Jesus in his heart and he said yes. We prayed and he repeated the prayer after me. When we were done, I said, “So Wes, do you think God came into your heart tonight or did He come in on Sunday?” Without hesitation he responded, “Mom, He came in on Sunday.” I said, “Alright little man. I’m really excited for you Wesley.”

Needless to say, I have cried on and off all this week just in praise to the Lord and in celebration of his decision.

I’ll admit that I have worried a little bit with him being so young, just shy of 7, but then I also wonder sometimes if the Lord didn’t come to him early because of all he has been through the last two years. I’ve watched his father force him to go to cult meetings each weekend and to door to door false gospel preaching. But then I remember that God has had to watch him go to all of that too. I’m sure it was a thousand times more horrifying for the Savior to watch than it was for me.  Sometimes I think God might have looked down and said, “Enough. I’m calling his name today.” And he did. And thankfully, so very thankfully, my kid responded.

Friday, January 19, 2018

I once met an angel and he held my hand.

Wes was four years old. We were shopping at Target. He had come dressed in his batman outfit; full on with his mask and sword. As I shopped, he chopped. Invisible bad guys were being taken out all over the store. I began playing with him, chasing him a bit with my cart. We were laughing about it. He would run around to the next aisle and I would run around with my cart and he would giggle, then we’d do it again on the next aisle. We were both enjoying it. 

He zoomed around the next corner and shortly after, I did too. This time, when I pulled my cart around, he wasn’t there in the aisle. I giggled and went down to the next aisle, but he wasn’t there either. I called his name, “Wes?” No answer. I said, “The game is over Wes. I need to see you. Where are you?” No answer. 

I left my cart and began briskly walking down the aisles, one after the other, calling his name. He wasn’t on any of the aisles. I began to run. Still nothing. I made it to the front of the store and I didn’t see him anywhere. I was yelling his name now as loud as I could. Panicked. 

Out of nowhere, this peaceful man, probably mid 40’s, dark hair, tall came up to me, grabbed my hand and said, “I know that face. Have you lost him?”

I couldn’t respond with anything but, “yes.” He called the clerk over and they began to shut down the store. They placed a worker at each entrance and everyone got on their radio. They told me to stay put. The man stayed with me.

I stood there and waited, with my hand in this man’s. He had a child with him, a small boy who stayed silent the whole time. I was frozen inside this man’s grip. All I could do was pray, “Please God. Please bring him back. Please let me find him. Please God. Please God.” 

After the longest 5 minutes of my life, they said, “We’ve got him. He was in electronics.” I looked over at that man and said, “I am so angry. I am going to give him a huge piece of my mind.” He said, “Not today. You’re going to walk over there, hug him and tell him you love him.”

I did just as the man told me to. 

When I let Wes go, I looked back around and the man and his little boy were gone.

I’m not trying to go all charismatic on anyone, but I do believe in angels...I’m grateful for that man and his peaceful, clear, presence that day in the midst of my awful, scary moment. 

Psalm 91:11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wes locked my keys in the car.

We arrived in College Station, Friday evening. On Saturday afternoon, Wes was outside playing with a friend. He came running into the house with this wild, yet fascinating story about a stick, my car and seeing the keys on the passenger seat. It was quite the report. I couldn’t follow much of it but I assumed he was just being melodramatic. This is common. Still though, having a long history with this child of mine, I decided it would be best to check out just what type of shenanigan was really going on. 

I went outside. There was my car. There were all 4 doors, locked. And there were my keys…staring at me from the passenger seat. 

Great. Somehow my kid had gotten into the car with the keys, had manually locked all the doors with my keys inside. Really. I didn’t even think this was possible with my specific keys. IT WAS possible and Wes had done it flawlessly. 

I came back inside to fill my mom in. Being the great mom she is, she went to work. She posted Wesley’s escapade on Facebook and asked if anyone could help. This saint of a person, Brandon Sweeney, who is friends with my parents, sent a Toyota guy over to break in to my car. He used these really cool tools, (which I’ve decided I really must have a set on hand because I’m sure this will not be the last time I have to break into something because of Wes) to break into my car that afternoon.

 It took him about 10 minutes. With the initial breaking in of the car, the car alarm went off. No big deal. He simply shut the door and it quit. Whew! Thank you sir! 

At this point, I figured we were home free. I thanked him profusely and he left.
I went back to the car and opened the door again, the very loud alarm began going off again. No big deal. All I need to do is start the car. I hopped in and put the keys into the ignition. The car wouldn't turn on. BEEEEEEEEEEP. All the lights on the dash board just starting blinking violently at me. BEEEEEEEEEEP. I turned the key in the ignition again and it still wouldn’t start. BEEEEEEEEEEP. Over and over the alarm is sounding and I’m trying to start the car and it just keeps screaming its horn at me. BEEEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEP. I’m pretty sure it was getting louder and louder with each time I tripped the alarm. BEEEEEEEEEEP. I’m sure the neighbors were wondering what in the sam hill was going on at house #5844!!!!!!!!!! BEEEEEEEEEEP. 

I was beginning to have some apprehension about this matter.

Why was this happening? The car should be starting! 

It dawns on me.

My own car thinks I’m trying to steal her.

Out of protection, she wouldn’t turn on while the alarm was sounding.

SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?! THE KID that did this is going to HEAR IT!

Then I thought...oh wait. All I have to do is shut the door, put the key into the keyhole of the door and unlock it that way, then my car will know it has been unlocked appropriately and the alarm will go off and I’ll be able to start the car.

Why didn’t I think of this before the first 8 times the alarm went off?

I'm pretty embarrassed at this point so I hastily jump out of the car. I shut the door.  I put my key in the keyhole, but it wouldn’t go in. I try again and it won't stinking budge. What in the world? This is bizarre. I bent down to get a closer look of the keyhole. That’s when I found the stick. You know, the stick Wes was telling me about in that wild and fascinating story? 

It seems Wes had tried to “fix” the car by getting a stick and putting it into the keyhole to “break in” to the car to get the keys that he locked in there. As he turned the stick in the keyhole, the stick BROKE OFF into that tiny little space. My key was now blocked from unlocking the door and/or turning off the alarm. All the while, that dang alarm is still sounding. BEEEEEEEEEEP.

WES THE MESS. The name was prophetic.

Eventually, this whole ordeal was indeed solved. It took a lot of finagling and praying and scolding of, “Don’t ever do this again dude.” 

As I left the Bryan street, I think my car had her back end tucked between her tail pipes.  I have no dignity left on Easterling Drive, Bryan, Texas. 

My life with this kid is always an interesting adventure.

Friday, January 12, 2018

I Got Fake Eye Lashes

I recently found myself in the hands of a spa gift card. This does not happen often so I relish these particular occasions. I chose something different this time, over the normal, adored pedicure.

I bravely took on the application of synthetic eye apparel, more commonly known as false eye lashes.

I met with the man at the counter, he asked me a few questions, then he took me back to this little room where peaceful spa music was playing. He told me to lie down on the soft bed, covered me up with a little blanket and then told me to close my eyes. Seriously? Like, an actual slice of time for me to relax and listen to calming music?  This is already worth the whole gift card I’m about to fork over.

About an hour later, he was done.


I opened my eyes and BAM!  Like, SHAZAM! I was a whole, new woman. BRAND NEW WOMAN. Heeeeelllllooooooo Hollywood! Y’all can’t even understand this. It was like a miracle, probably up there with the Red Sea or the water/wine episode. I don't want to brag or anything but I looked exactly like Tammy Faye in those things. It was like the greatest display of eye affection in the whole world. 

These things are the BEST things to have ever happened to me. As my friend, Shelly says, “Girl, they change your whole face.” I took this as a compliment.

Every time I look in the mirror to wash my hands or brush my hair, I find myself fluttering my eyes a little bit…AT MYSELF. That is weird. A lot weird really… but unfortunately, not weird enough to make me stop. They are so dang dramatic and emphatic and charismatic. I kind of can’t stop.  Just waking up in the morning, these things make you look like a million bucks.

These were probably made in the Garden of Eden. Eve had lashes. This is why Adam fell in love with her.

I think I have gone a little out of my mind over this.

Go get you some.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Our Gift from God this Christmas

On December 13, at 8:30 pm, there was a knock on my door. I was not expecting anyone and was already in my pajamas and my warm little lamb socks. I was sure I wasn’t going to answer it. I stood in the hallway and yelled, “Who is it?” No answer. The nerves kicked in. I called out again, “Whoooooo iiiiiiis iiiiiiit?” Still no answer. I went to the front of the house to look out the window. Make note that I went to the far side corner of the window, crouched down beneath the window and barely peeked up enough to peer right over the sill through the curtain. (You can roll your eyes here and insert your comment of, "Get a grip Lauren. No one is trying to get you. And also you are the worst spy I've ever seen.")

I saw no one out the window, no cars, no neighbors, nothing. Bigger nerves hit, but don’t worry, I decided to calm those nerves with my Sig 229 .40 caliber. I finally inched my way to the door and opened it slowly. (Because clearly the robber would be alarmed if I opened the door slowly. Obvi.)

There on my porch, was a big opened box with what looked like lots of presents inside. (My immediate thought was, “Is this a ruse? Is there a man waiting behind the house to get me when I come out? Or is there a bomb in that box? Evidently, I’ve watched too many Criminal Mind episodes.)  I slowly opened the screen door and walked cautiously closer to it. Yes, there were gifts, lots of them. They were all neatly wrapped and in a cardboard box sitting on my porch. I went a little further out trying to see if there was anyone leaving my street. Nope. No one. Hmmmm. Okay.

I took this huge box inside and checked out the gifts more closely. Each wrapped gift had an envelope taped to it and each envelope was numbered, “Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc.” There was also a note that said, “OPEN ME FIRST”. I complied. That first note said that these presents were to be opened each day in order, one per day until Christmas Eve.

WHAT? Who in the world would do this for us? Seriously, who went to all this trouble? I had no idea. I called my parents of course to check with them. My mom said, “Nope. I didn’t do that.” At first I assumed she was lying in order to protect her identity in this fun little endeavor, but after a few minutes of her convincing argument,  I finally believed she wasn’t the culprit.  But…then who? Only a relative would spend this kind of time and money on doing something this special…right?

Wes and I began with the gifts that evening. Then with each bedtime that followed Wes would say, “MOM! THE GIFTS! Let’s see what the next number is and open it!” I cannot tell you how much Wes and I anticipated the surprises each evening. Of course Wes loved every bit of it, but even as an adult…IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

The gifts were all different, some for family movie nights, some for music in the car, some for home décor. The list goes on and on. With the final gift and note on Day 12, the Secret Santa was revealed.

Wow! All these gifts. All that time. THIS FAMILY! You need to know that this family has 2 kids of their own, both parents work and yet, they took time to write 12 letters, wrap 12 gifts and then deliver them to our home so that our Christmas season would have an added richness to it. And indeed these thoughtful gifts gave us just that.

In fact, a while back I wrote a blog about Christmas gifts from God and this year, THIS FAMILY was our Christmas gift from the Lord.

You know who you are and we thank you so much! You gave us so much more than what you realize. We love you!

Wes and I will be passing this gift on to someone else! We should all plan to give this to a family next year. 

What a GIFT!

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Date?

Dear unknown man who is thinking about taking out a single mom,

The following do’s and don’ts have been personally experienced. You might find them helpful. You might find them offensive. I’m just one single mom out there who chose to write about the things she liked and didn’t like on her first dates. Of course, most of this won’t be an issue if a relationship develops, but as for a first date

1.    DO offer to pay for her sitter. Before you drop your jaw in disgust, I do fully understand that this might be deemed super high maintenance. Here’s the thing: She has said, “yes” to going out with you which means she likes you enough to work all day, come home, stay off the couch, get dressed up, wear make up past 7:30 pm and then pay someone to come keep her kids in order to spend time with you. Way to go dude! Count this as a major win! It takes a really great guy for me to do all of that. Now, concerning the babysitting, this will most likely cost around $30 - $40 for the evening. The going rate these days is $10 an hour. Most guys don’t think about offering to pay for this, which is completely fine, as this is not at all their responsibility. BUT! Several years ago, I had a man offer to pay for my sitter (the only guy to ever do so) and it took me so incredibly off guard…in the most wonderful way you could ever imagine. Your date might politely decline, (I did) but nothing screams, “I’ll take care of you AND your family” like footing the bill for the sitter on your date. This will show her you are thinking about all aspects of the evening, including making this night as easy on her as possible. For her, this will go far beyond the normal thoughtfulness. She’ll be impressed, yes, but also she will feel very, very cared for.

2.    DO stand up any time she leaves or returns to the table. I teach at a private Christian school and it is a policy at our campus for a class to stand when a visitor enters the room. Last month I had to walk into a class of seniors and they all stood as I walked in. Oh my word. I felt like I had just stepped off Air Force One, and was being saluted by dozens of marines. I think I actually bowed involuntarily because of the feeling of humility that came over me.  If your date is indeed a single mom, there has most likely been a man in her past that wasn’t super respectful to her, so while she probably already has you on a small pedestal simply from your normal way of treating her, going above that norm would be a true luxury. Stand up when she leaves and stand up when she returns. She’ll highly respect you for it.

3.    DO make sure to ask a few questions about her kid/kids. (As if #1 wasn’t high maintenance enough, I’m going to throw this in there too:  DON’t ask too few questions, she will assume you don’t care. DON’T ask too many questions, she’ll be weirded out by your abnormal interest. I would suggest 3-4 questions and then move on.) These are the little beings that she prays for every day. She has stayed up countless hours with them on sick nights, nights with bad dreams, and nights with awful bathroom accidents. She thinks about them with every decision she makes: vacations, budgeting, which house to buy, what schools to attend, her work hours, what food to purchase, everything. They changed every perspective she had when they were born. They are a massive piece of her life.  She’ll thank you for asking about them.

4.    DO always, always, always pay for dinner. No exceptions. I was out with a guy one time and he said, “I can’t pay for you and Wes. I don’t have the money.” I didn’t mind at all! If anyone understands a budget, I certainly do. Then, one hour later, we ran a few errands together and he bought quite a bit of dollars worth of oil for his dirt bike. It was over three times the amount our meal was. There is a difference between having a hard time financially and just not wanting to pay for her and her kid. Decide beforehand if she is worth it. Once you’ve decided she is worth taking to dinner, please pay for it. She might offer to pay, (I do) but hear me…DECLINE and INSIST. I don’t care if she makes quadruple the amount of money as you. Pay for the dang dinner. She'll truly appreciate it.

5.    DON’T press her to meet her kid/kids. Let her decide when the time is right. Some moms don’t want to introduce their kids to their significant others for a very long time. Give her space. Enjoy getting to know her for the time being. She’ll be grateful for your patience.

6.    DO be open and kind if she brings her kid/kids on your date. Every mom is different. Some moms bring their kids on every date so that the man will know what real life is like. If this is the case, then enjoy her and her tribe. It’s completely okay if you decide that this isn’t for you, but for the date’s sake, have as much fun as you can. She’ll love your compassion.

7.    DON’T say, “I’ve never dated a single mom before. In the past, I’ve been closed off to the idea, so I’m trying to be more open about it.” I had a conversation with a man who said this to me and I immediately translated that to, “I never wanted a woman with kids, but now that I’m older there’s no one left, so I’m having to date moms and I hate it.” She personally won’t like hearing it (I wanted to punch the guy in the throat), but she will also feel really defensive for her small cubs. You don’t want to finish your meal with a sharp-clawed grizzly.

8.     DO say, “You are a great mom. I admire all that you do for your kids.” Right now, she is doing this on her own and even though she may have found her groove and is doing pretty alright in life, compliments on her motherhood are not only welcome, they will be treasured by her for eons of time. You can never go wrong by speaking of her motherhood kindly. You’ll see her face light up and beam as if she has just been given the Congressional Medal of Honor. If you’re willing, compliment her motherhood as much as you can. It will give her pounds and pounds of refreshment.    

9.    DO walk her to the door at the end of the date. Do not be the guy who offers “the awkward walk back”.  No girl, I repeat, NO GIRL wants her date to watch from the car as she walks to the door, especially on a first date.  So many unsettling thoughts will race through her mind in the 6 seconds it takes her to get to the front door knob. Where’s that dude looking right now? Is he driving off already? Is he watching me? What if I fall down? I'm so ready to get these heels off. Why is he still in the driveway?  Do I turn around? I can't wait to wash my face. If I do turn around, do I wave or smile or…? UGH. The whole thing is eerie and awkward, and flustering and awkward and worrisome and awkward and also the complete opposite of chivalrous. For all that is noble, just walk her to the door. 

Here's to first dates!

Monday, December 18, 2017

I finally told Wes to MAN UP.

“You will not cry about this any longer. That is it! It is time to MAN UP. If you want to be a navy seal, this is your first lesson. Sometimes, you just gotta be a man, so GIRD UP.”

That is what came out of my mouth to Wes yesterday while riding his bike. You know, the bike that he said he would neeeeveeeeerrrr ride? He asked me if he could go outside to ride his bike without training wheels. I stared at him dumbfounded and wondered if he was having a seizure.

Once out on the hilly terrain of West Creek Drive, he started out really strong. He was riding, unafraid of any turbulence and also sturdy, like a robust mountain lion. (That might be a motherly exaggeration.)

Then we took our standard turn for the worse. Hi fear.  He began grabbing at me and leaning at a 90-degree angle towards my direction. I’m like, “How are you gonna steer those handles while ridin’ parallel to the street? And just how is your hiney still on that seat while you’re inclining like that?” Then he began diving off mid ride, arms flailing randomly.

And he was beginning to cry.

I had no time for this. I knew he knew what to do. I had seen him do it before. I knew he had the skills. I had seen him use them before. All of this erratic behavior boiled down to one thing: fear. I had HAD it.  I was about to push him off the bike myself. Like hard. To the street. (Please make note that I did not push him off the bike myself. To the street.)

As a mom, most of us are nurturers at heart. I am no different. We coddle, we protect, we pull them into our little human cocoon and tell them everything is going to be all right. And I honestly think this is best thing we can do for them.

Until it isn’t.

I once heard someone say, “Why do we have ‘safe places’ filled with play dough on college campuses for the students who’s presidential candidate lost the campaign, when we have other college students out in Afghanistan fighting for our freedom?” It seems the term “cupcake generation” really does ring an accurate bell.

I think important pieces of becoming a man begin at the age of six.  There will be hard times. Things will not always go his way. What I do now in those moments is what he will do later in those same moments.

Well, our training started yesterday…

I began with a short, but flashy pep talk. “Nope. We are not quitting today. Look, this is something you already know how to do. It is time to stop letting fear get in your way. You are going to punch that fear in the face.” He began to chuckle. He thinks punching anything in the face is freaking awesome.

I started pushing him down the middle of the street yelling, “I’m a MAN! I’m a MAN! I’m a Navy Seal! I’m a Navy Seal!” Then he started laughing (through his crying) and chanting it with me. Loudly. “I’m a MAN! I’m a Navy Seal!” Over and over down the street, back and forth in front of the house, we were shouting and chanting and making a real scene.

And guess what?  He actually manned up. Is that even a phrase? Manned up? Whatever, I’m making it a phrase. He manned up!

And once he did, I saw that robust mountain lion again. The confidence and the pep talk got his adrenaline going. He was so fired up from all that roaring and macho hollering, you would have thought he was getting ready for Navy Seal’s training of hell week out in the middle of the woods. When he finished and hopped off his bike, he talked a little deeper, walked a bit taller and he might have had a tiny piece of hair grow out from his chest.

When we came back inside, I hugged him, told him how proud I was of him and sent him off to shower. As he walked down the hallway I heard him saying, “I’ll punch you in the face fear. I’ll take you out.” He could feel the excitement in his achievement and I figured we could work on his pride later. I’d let him have his moment.

Yesterday did something to him in a really, really good way. “Manning up” like that gave him something, and I think it was a deep 6-year-old sense of triumph. Victory and conquest were his and he felt it, largely.

And it did something to me too. It made me want to give him more opportunities to to do the hard stuff. Now don’t think for a second that I won’t still shelter him, shield him and love on him, of course I will. And I will still let him climb down from the tree when he’s scared and I’ll let him say no to rides too daunting at Six Flags, but occasionally, when I feel the moment is right, I will mandate that he mans up. It is good for him, and for me. Let's take out this cupcake generation and give our boys plenty of opportunities to be men.

Wes Got Saved!

A couple years ago, when Wes was 5, he began to talk to me about salvation. He would randomly say, “Mom! I just asked Jesus in my h...