Friday, December 14, 2018

The Laundry

Our First Meeting

Me: “B, this is a fantastic washing machine.”

B: “Thank you!”

I stand flat footed in front of the washer. I reach inside the washing machine down to the bottom.

Me: “Oh dear. I can’t reach it. I can’t reach the bottom. My arms aren’t long enough.”

B: “Uh oh.”

Silently, I stare at B.  B stares at me.

B: “What are you going to do?”

Me: “This!”

I walk back to the kitchen counter, (he watches with anticipation) I take a running start and leap. I clear the edge and successfully fly over the side of the top of the washer landing face down at a 90 degree angle, feet now dangling mid-air as I stretch as hard and as long as I can to reach the bottom.

“Wait, wait, wait, B are you still there? I got it, I got it. The tip of my finger got it. Don’t worry about it. We’re good…” my voice echoing from the floor of the washing machine.

Envious are you?

I begin to pull a load of clothes out of the dryer.

“Why does all of the laundry have bright green streaks on it?”

I pull it all out faster and faster as if it’s going to fly away at any moment. My heart begins to pound and my breathing moves into hyperventilating mode.

Green, green and more green, everywhere, everything, green.

I see a child-sized pair of khaki’s in the back. I snatch them forward and look down towards the front pocket. There is heavy-duty evidence that this was where the problem began. I reach in to the pocket. A green crayon.

The children come in from playing outside.

“Listen guys, we all need a little more green in our lives, okay? So don’t be complaining that you must now wear clothes with a little green splatter paint. And also, green is the color of envy. Everyone will envy these clothes and you while wearing these glorious things. Bet on it.”

The Black Sweater

I’m folding all the laundry in the living room.

Me: “I am totally ahead of the game this week. I am caught up on cleaning. I am caught up on dishes. I am caught up on life.”

I see the arm of a black sweater reaching up towards me from the bottom of the pile.

It is staring at me. I freeze. The new wife in me begins to feel the onset of panic.

No, it couldn’t be. Is it? Please, Lord, please no. Not that one. I look closer but without any movement. I’m eyeing it. Very still like. That arm. It seems to look longer than a child’s arm. But no, please, no. If I wish it away, it will go away. I close my eyes. My heart races. I pray again. I pull it up just a tad, hoping to see a tiny-sized piece of clothing appear. As it emerged up out of the mound, it actually began pushing the other clothes aside out of it's way, as if it was proud to be rising to the top in all it’s beauty and splendor. It even had a small smirk on it’s face as I drew up the last corner.

There it was. Why hello, you little jerk.

Byron’s non-washable, fancy shmancy, only bought online, one of a kind, can never find another one in all the world, not even in Paris, sweater.

I shall never forgive that little black piece of merino.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Our First Date

He took me out to the “city view” near the Stella hotel, a suggestion from his good friend, Clay. It was a gorgeous night. We walked up the 3 flights of stairs (me, in my wedges, he, in his Allen Edmund loafers). Somehow climbing to taller heights make things a tad more romantic than ground level. I thought it was the perfect spot.

Looking out from the top, you could see a good portion of the city. It was just the two of us there, which made it especially nice. It was dim, breezy and quiet and the city lights were shimmering off in the distance. An author of a novel might describe the setting with words like dreamy or whimsical, yet casual and comfortable are the first to come to my mind.  

We stayed there for a while. He made clever jokes and I genuinely laughed. I was not expecting such entertaining wit from this new friend, but he was surprisingly humorous. These fun moments were probably my favorite pieces of the night.

While at the top, he asked for a picture.

We walked back down to the grounds area and sat by the blue fountains spraying in the lake beside us. We chatted about spiritual things and past stories and even a few deeper secrets.

Later, on our way home, we took an unanticipated turn off into his old neighborhood where he showed me his old house, a friend’s old house and then told me wonderful stories about an infamous “Candy Lady” who lived on the corner.

Then he drove me home.

When we arrived he began to walk me to the door, he is a gentleman. As we were sweetly talking our way down the sidewalk, we heard the escape of my Golden Doodle. You know, that dang dog with the worst timing of all dogs? He sneaked through the backyard gate, (as if he knew I was getting home RIGHT THEN) bolted right past us, and headed straight for the tree in the front. Oh great. I knew exactly what was coming.

“SPY! You dream killer dog! Go back to the back yard! GO!”  I looked at Byron. He looked at me, confused, “What’s he doing?”

“Oh. He does this. It's like his favorite thing. He thinks he's saving us from the ferociousness of some terrible beast, but it's usually just some random rodent. Last time he did this, I called the Hurst Police Department because I thought he was barking at an actual intruder. They came out with their flashlights and their guns...But nope. Just a varmint. I should've known Spy was out to get me."

Sure enough, he had just cornered an opossum. Sweet Byron, “Well, I’m not leaving you with all this going on. I’ll help you get him back.”

“Uh huh, okay.”

The rest is somewhat of a blur, the two of us trying to call my Golden Doodle away from an opossum. The dog was completely ignoring any and all of our attempts to distract him and was yelping uncontrollably. The opossum was growling, hissing, charging, and in full-on attack mode. Byron and I finally resorted to throwing sticks at both of them, yelling Spy’s name (this seemed extremely pointless in retrospect), all while praying none of the neighbors woke up since it was way past midnight.

I think that was when he first started to fall in love with my dog, Spy. He hasn’t admitted that yet of course, but I can see his eyes soften anytime I bring up my Doodle. I think they bonded that night; no, I’m sure of it. Deep down, I know they have a very special relationship.  

We laughed, a lot…and then with an affectionate hug, he said 'goodnight'. 

Somehow, even in the midst of the crazy walk to the door, I ended up having an extraordinary time with this man, so much fun. And as I think back, nothing really astounding happened…but when I went to bed that night, I wondered how this man had left such a distinct impression on me. I didn’t know him super well, and I had been impressed before, but tonight was a hint more noteworthy…I remember thinking as I drifted off to sleep, “I think this man might have already left a little mark on my heart.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

A BB Up the Nose

Me: Why is your finger so high up in your nose?

Wes: I put a bb in there.

Me: Wait. What? What do you mean you put a bb in there?

Wes: (Nonchalantly) I shoved a bb up my nose.

Me: Why did you do that?

Wes: (blank stare, slight shrug)

Me: Oh em gee. I need you to get it out. Right now.

Wes: I can’t get it out. I've been trying. It’s waaaaay up in there, mom.

Me: Get in the car.

Wes: Where are we going?

Me: To the doctor, of course.

Wes: Alright. (totally calm, as if this is totally normal)

Me: Never. Again. Dude.

Wes: You got it mom.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

My dad's words...when I came home pregnant.

As a child, each evening my dad would come into my room, prop up next to my bed to talk with me for a few minutes before telling me goodnight. The conversations would vary, but the ending was always the same.  Before getting up he would say, “If I lined up all the little girls in the whole wide world, I would pick you to be my daughter.” I loved hearing that as a little girl, so I would smile, give him a big hug and kiss and drift off to sleep. Every night was consistent. I never tired of hearing those words. As I grew older and no longer needed my parents to tuck me in, that sweet phrase would still come out every now and then. Even if I acted too cool to hear it, inside it affected me.

I finished college at Texas ATM University and received my first job teaching Kindergarten in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I moved in to my own apartment and began to get acquainted with my new city and new home.  Though no one was tucking me in at bedtime, with out fail I received flowers twice a year, every year; Valentine’s Day and my birthday. On every card my dad would sign it, “If I lined up all the girls in the whole wide world, I would pick you to be my daughter”. It meant considerably more to me now that I was older, but still I wasn’t fully aware of the depth of its significance.  

Growing up, my parents were not those types of parents who were shy about the purity conversation. They were explicitly clear about the Bible’s Word on it. They talked about how beautiful it was, inside the context of marriage, but gave us appropriate warnings when done outside the will of God. They communicated to my brother and I about risky situations, dating dangerous people, being unequally yoked and all the how’s and why’s of staying abstinent until marriage. There was no question left unanswered. As far as my parent’s role was concerned, they had thoroughly directed me to the pathway of righteousness and I was on it and stayed on it for a long time.

Even with all of this knowledge, wisdom and committed spirit inside of me, when I turned 27, I met an unbeliever and became pregnant almost immediately.  

One word sums up everything I felt in that moment…DESTROYED.

All I could think, one word, it just kept re-occurring in my mind…Destroyed, destroyed, destroyed. “Lauren, your reputation, your relationships with your family, your ability to ever have a biblically designed family, your spirituality, your whole life, every dream you have ever had, all of it has been…destroyed.”

As one would imagine, almost instantaneously, the Enemy began whispering horrible things in my ear. “Your dad won’t love you anymore. He’ll be so embarrassed of you. You have humiliated him in front of every one he knows. And don’t even think about him loving this kid. He will never love this kid. Never.” These thoughts were not because of anything that happened between my dad and me. He and I had an amazing relationship our whole lives. These were whisperings of an evil presence doing everything he could to bring me into a place of fear.  “Were any of these thoughts actually true? Was my dad still going to love me? Would he love this baby? Would I love this baby? What will my home church say?” All of these fears running through my head over and over and over again, getting worse by the minute. I was plunging into a deep pit and I felt I helpless to do anything about it.  I knew I had to go home; I had to tell my parents what was going on, so I packed and got in the car.
After driving 3 long hours, I drove up to my beloved parent’s house. This beautiful home that was filled with treasured memories; hundreds of nights playing Sorry! as a family, taking our lab to the lake on weekends, nightly prayers before bed, laughing at each others quirks, supporting each other through deaths in the family, words of wisdom through junior high and high school, prayers for each other daily, fun memory after fun memory…it all hit me as I put my car in park.  

I didn’t want to go in.

This home that was filled with nothing but beautiful times, happiness, and joy…I was now entering that love-filled home carrying heavy and almost unendurable sorrow.  I was bearing this excruciating wound, something that I had never experienced before. Just walking in the door, I knew, would be piercingly painful. 

I took several deep breaths and walked in through the back door. I won’t go into all of the details of that evening, but I will share with you that it wasn’t perfect. My parents are wonderful and they are indeed the godliest couple that I know, but this particular night…it wasn’t great. Feelings were heightened and things were said… emotional things. Everyone was on edge, everyone was hurt and everyone was scared. Nothing scarring was said, but it wasn’t a flawless evening either. We all three went to bed with angst.

When I woke up around 8:30 the next morning, both of my parents had already left for work. I walked silently into the living room and sat down on the couch. I had no music on, no tv, no phone, nothing. I was just sitting on the couch in my parent’s living room alone and quiet. I was numb. I had been sitting there for about an hour when I heard the back door creak open. My heart began to pound and beads of sweat rose up on my palms. I didn’t even turn around to see who it was. I was frozen in fear.  My dad gently walked into the living room and slowly sat down in an oversized chair across from me, but didn’t say a word.

As he sat there quiet and pensive, looking down at the floor, I began to think about all of the dreams I had lost. “The look of my father seeing me in a white dress on my wedding day: Ruined. All of the protection and guidance he had given me for 27 years: I had stomped on it. Every time he would look at me now, he would see me for what I was: Used, torn, and publicly blemished.” 

The room was tense, heavy and thick with anxiety. We sat there quietly for probably only 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Finally, even with all of those thoughts racing through my head, heart throbbing, feeling nauseated, I looked up at him and with a quiver in my tone, all I could get out was, “Dad…I don’t have anything else to say except I’m sorry. I am so very, very, sorry.” 

My dad looked up at me, silently lifted up his hand, tenderly waved my words away and said, “Oh Lauren...if I lined up all the little girls in the whole wide world, I would still pick you… every time.” And with those words, I wept, uncontrollably wept, for a really long time. I sobbed out all of my fears and all of the evil thoughts from the Enemy. Those penetrating words, those very simple words…they were so powerful that they chartered the rest of the way that I handled my unwed pregnancy.

My dad took a small childhood phrase and used it to show his unconditional love to me.  In my lowest valley, at my foulest moment, he unwaveringly said to me, “Nothing will change my love for you. Nothing. I’d still pick you. Every time.” 

And ultimately, he portrayed my Heavenly Father’s love. His love is faithful, unstained and full of restoration. My earthly father’s forgiveness and compassion had given me the perfect picture of my Heavenly Father’s grace, redemption and love. 

I don't have enough words to express how much I love my dad.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I wish everyone had neighbors like ours!

My kid has stormed into their home with bare, black-soled feet countless times since his birth. A former navy officer and his spitfire wife have been married 60 years this year. He is the more emotional half – she, the unbreakable shield.  My son, Wes, is their ‘yet to be refined’ kid neighbor.

Just this evening, he could be found knocking on their door, with his eyes glued to the glass as he spied through the tiny slits of their blinds. He held his position until the door opened. Mrs. Navy smiled and let him in. Chest out and chin up, he headed straight for the living room to see what Mr. Navy was watching. He popped right up in the recliner, laid back, arms behind his head trying to get a glimpse of a “grown up” show he isn’t allowed to watch at home. Mr. Navy paused the TV and chuckled, “Well, hey there ol’ Buddy.” They always welcome his child chatter.   

One day Mr. Navy was out mowing. Wes, then barely 2, hurried over as fast as his diaper would let him, dashing for the mower. Instead of pointing him back home, Mr. Navy slowed down, stepped back a stride and slid my child in front. My little tyke grabbed the sides of the mower as high as he could on both sides and tottered taller than he ever had. You would have thought he had won the Nobel peace prize for saving the world from Armageddon.  

Each summer, Wes and I are outside more than we are in. And so are Mr. and Mrs. Navy. Almost daily, I hear the climbing of wood and a little boy voice yelling over the top of the fence, “Mrs. Navy? Mr. Navy, is that you? I’m comin’ over ‘kay?” He’ll scamper on over, black soles again, with a fightin’ stick in hand, just to find out what they’re doing that day. I’ll hear the muffled ramblings of a common conversation about pulling weeds or planting new bushes, and then I’ll catch the sound of Mr. Navy’s funny jokes, and his teasing of ‘Wild Wes’ being velcro-ed to a wall to keep him still. The conversation is ordinary, yet mysteriously rich.

Somehow these two magically take my son back to a time when things were simpler, talking about dirt and dandelions and figs, still this simplicity has brought a profound abundance to his life that he won’t fully understand until later. We thank God that He paralleled their yard to ours. Were I to write about the hundreds of ways they have invested in us, I wouldn’t have enough space. Oh how we love the daily, mundane life with Mr. and Mrs. Navy.

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.

The Laundry

Our First Meeting Me: “B, this is a fantastic washing machine.” B: “Thank you!” I stand flat footed in front of the washer. I ...