Monday, December 11, 2017

Hey Whore

It was consistently hectic in the mornings as hundreds of first and second grade children would walk down our hallway each trying to get to their classroom first. Shoving, pushing, running, these were all part of the daily humdrum.

I would stand at my door each morning to greet my students (and also to help the 6 year old rush hour traffic which was not that different than highway 820 during construction, including both honking and hand gestures).

Ahhh, there she is. I see Jessica, this pint-sized little diva, who was secretly one of my “favorites”. She sashayed out of the cafeteria and was headed down to our class, ready to take on the world. Jessica was lively, but obedient and sometimes, situationally sweet.

She also had a particular way with words. Let me illustrate. One day I overheard a few of the girls talking about “Hannah Montana”…Jessica was, of course, in on the conversation and decided to add her 2-cents by saying, “Well girls, I hate to tell you but Hannah Montana is a hoochie!” Disheartened chaos ensued, “Miss Osborne, what’s a hoochie and why is she calling Hannah Montana that?” “AAAAAA! Ask your mom. She can tell you. Let’s start science.”

This particular day Jessica was almost to my classroom door when I heard her little feminine screech high above  60+ students in the hallway. 

“Hey whore!”

Yes, exactly.  Immediately, I began rifling through the hallway trying to pinpoint her in the crowd. I can't find her! There are so many kids in here! Why don't we have less kids in this stinking school? Admitting that I was becoming a wee bit nervous might be an understatement. Thirty seconds later I heard it again, “Heeeey whore!” Beads of sweat began to drip from my forehead originated from sheer panic. My heart felt like a hammer and I was envisioning myself breathing in and out of a paper bag for the rest of the day. Where was she??? All the 'best practices' had vanished and I began barreling through children knocking them out one by one when I again heard the roar of those horrifically gruesome words.


Oh. My. Word.

Where are you God? Can a teacher get a little help down here?! Better yet, just take me up in a fiery chariot. I'm pretty sure I'm losing my job today.

God must have heard me because I finally found her. I bent down breathless and panting and said, “Jessica, my goodness Honey, who in the whole mighty world are you talking to like that? We don’t use that kind of language at school.”

 She looked at me as if I was the fool and said reassuringly, “Miss Osborne, don't worry. That is his name.” Then it dawned on me, “Oh dear goodness, I’m going to have to somehow explain to this precious little thing that ‘whore’ is not a name we use at school. Insert final panic and hallucinations of furious parents and maybe even a law suit or two.

At my wit’s end, I asked her to point this child out so  she could at least say, “I am sorry I was shamelessly yelling such appalling words at you this morning.”  

Jessica stood there, chin still high, chest still out. Her posture said nothing of humility. She pointed to this small-ish, lanky, brown headed boy.

I took one good, long look at him.  The laughter that followed was one filled with hysteria (and huge, huge, huge relief).

I looked at proud Jessica and said, “Oh my, little miss, look at me. This is very, very important for you to remember. His name is… Jorge.”  (Hor-hay, NOT hay-hor)

Needless to say, Jessica made my year fun and wildly entertaining. I sure miss her. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

To Remember: The song that soothed my 6 month old baby.

God consistently asks His people to remember Him. He told the Israelites to put up stones to remember where they walked across the Jordan. (Joshua 4:1-7) He tells us to take the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of what He did on the cross. (Luke 22: 14-23)  He asks us multiple times in the Psalms to remember who He is and all He’s done. (Psalm 77) I think part of the reason He tells us to do this is because, in His omniscient ways, He knows it is easier for us to forget than it is to remember.

I didn’t have to worry about Wesley’s non-believing father for the first 5 years of Wesley’s life. We came to our own church, had our days at home and didn’t have to worry much about his father’s cult background. As of January 2016, that all changed. Wes’s dad began taking Wes to all of his cult meetings and to do door-to-door false preaching. It shatters my heart every time.

Recently, as I drop Wesley off and I leave to go home, I sense one overarching thought that swarms heavily over the feelings of panic, dread and tearful rage, “Remember me, Lauren. Remember all I have done before this day. Remember who I AM.”

One such moment, when Wesley was very young, has been divinely etched into my memory. This is one memory that I think back to as I drive away from the kingdom hall.

When Wes was about 6 months old, he hated being in the car. He would cry non-stop. I didn’t stress about it too much because we didn’t drive to many far away places as a young baby, though I did take a few trips back home to College Station to visit my parents. On one particular trip, he began crying before I even had him buckled in.  I was thinking, “Seriously dude? We have 3 hours ahead of us. You’re gonna have to get it together.” Ummmm. He was 6 months old. I must have still been a bit delirious from all the sleepless nights to think he would understand me.

I began listening to some of my favorite Christian music hoping to at least drown out the sobbing for a short time. For roughly 30 minutes, not a single thing worked. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the car with a screaming kid, but 30 minutes can seem like an eternity. One trip prior to this one, he cried the entire 3 hours, so I was already beginning to freak out when we hit the 30-minute mark. I knew I could not do another 3 hours like that.

The howling had begun to grate on every nerve in my body. I was trapped. He was trapped. He was screaming. And I was about to be screaming too.  Then a new song came on, one with an African beat by Selah and mysteriously, Wes quieted down. While it was strangely peculiar, I was breathing deep and hopeful sighs of relief. I thought, “Oh my goodness. Is it over? Are we going to have a nice ride now?”

But no, as soon as the song was over, the roaring began again. “Great. You obviously don’t know how to worship the Lord little man. COME ON!” Then I thought, “Hmmmm, I wonder if…No, surely not. It couldn’t be that easy.” I was up for trying anything at this point, so in desperate optimism, I played that same song again. It was a God-given MIRACLE, people.  Like, seriously a dream. It worked! As soon as that song began, he went silent. I could not believe it.

You can probably guess what I did next. Yes, yes I did. For the full 3 hours, we listened to that one song on repeat, again yes, that one song on repeat, all the way to College Station. And guess what? I didn’t hear a peep out of him for the rest of the way. You do what you must do when you need a little peace and quiet.

I was talking to my best friend, Beth, on the phone several days later laughing about how high maintenance my kid was for needing to have this one song played so that he would relax. We laughed together and then it was her that said, “Isn’t that interesting?” I said, “What do you mean?” She responded, “The song…that quieted him down.”

As I hung up the phone, for the first time, I thought more seriously about it. And then this surprising sense of God’s hand was exposed. I hadn’t seen it before Beth mentioned it.  

The song.

That song.

The only song that would soothe my 6-month-old baby. 

An old sacred hymn.

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”

I will remember this. I will always remember this.  God showed His hand during that 3-hour car ride. He was writing divine lyrics onto my child’s 6-month-old heart. He was transcribing His plan into my child’s mind and spirit through the melody and stanzas of a song written 150 years ago. I will remember that He is the great I AM. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"God doesn't make promises like that anymore."

It was Tuesday, March 8, 2011, my first full day alone with Wesley as a tiny baby. He was 15 days old. I can recall that specific evening with much ease. I had just given Wes a lavender bath (thank you Johnson and Johnson), had swaddled him up tightly (I miss that little glow worm) and I was quietly rocking him. There is something dearly sweet in rocking a newborn to sleep (as long as they actually go to sleep and they’re not wailing their head off). 

As I watched the sun go down through his window and the darkness began to set in, that sweet feeling very quickly turned to an unfamiliar mother’s unrest. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling. There I was, brand new, no idea what I was doing, and it was my first day to be a mom completely on my own. It sounds silly, but I actually think I began to panic at that realization.

This next part sounds even more irrational as I write it down, but my mind began to race that night and I began to feel really unnerved thinking about someone getting him. We live in a very safe neighborhood (all of our neighbors are 60 years old or older, and yes, they check on us frequently, we LOVE our neighbors), I have a house alarm (on windows and doors) and a gun (a gun that won’t just stun someone, a real gun that would blow someone away… it is Texas), but for some reason I felt this overwhelming intimidation of being alone with this new little being. I had all these illogical thoughts in my mind… What if someone broke in and took him? What if someone grabbed him from a store? What if he stops breathing while I’m asleep? I’m all alone. It sounds ridiculous, but I was really scared and these thoughts were very real.

I also remember being so drearily fatigued those first two weeks, all night feedings, trying to sleep while he slept, while still maintaining a household for two. I was delirious.

As I sat there rocking Wes, I remember talking to the Lord in a sort of high anxiety complaint and told him how urgently I needed Him to speak to me that night. I don’t normally rattle easily, so I knew He was the only one that was going to be able to handle these unusual and unfounded feelings. 

I had Wesley cradled in my left hand in the rocking chair, so I grabbed my phone with my right and opened up my Bible app. (I remember I felt guilty that I couldn’t even get up to grab my real Bible, but I was literally so tired those first few weeks that moving while rocking a baby seemed too much at the time).  I also knew I didn’t have it in me to study the Word for hours that night, as drained as I was, so I just asked Him to give me some kind of hope, even just something small. When the app opened, the verse of the day was the first thing to pop up and this is what it said:

“The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8

And then came the Lord’s unimaginable peace. I knew this verse was for us. It was the Lord speaking truth over us. It was His promise to us. God was assuring me that He would take care of my son and me. We were not alone. Through the years, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve felt a similar panic begin to stir in my heart, though not as intense as that night, but each time God has brought this verse back to my mind. It brings that same peace that it did when Wes was just that small 7-pound little person in our rocking chair.

Now, fast forward to present day, Wes is six years old.  Last Thursday, I had already tucked him into bed and he called me into his room saying, “I’m scared.” As I went in, I asked him, “What are you afraid of?” He replied, “I’m afraid of getting kidnapped.”

I took a deep breath and decided to share this story with him. He listened intently and smiled when I was finished. He went to sleep. I figured that was the end of it.  I thanked the Lord for His promise again.

The next day, Friday, his dad brought him home and Wes asked me to play blocks by the fireplace. As we were building, he said, “Hey mom, I told my dad about being scared I would get kidnapped and I told him about the promise and Bible verse God spoke to you. I said, “Oh good, Wes.” Then he followed it with, “Yes, but my dad told me, ‘God doesn’t make promises like that anymore Wes.’”

And then he stared at me waiting for me to respond.

(The fury and rage that I have as a mom cannot be conveyed in any sort of godly word usage here. The flesh side of me can go to very dark places when it comes to protecting my child’s spiritual life. For now, we will leave that here.)

“Well, Wes, you listen to me. Our God does make promises like that. When you have Jesus in your heart, the Holy Spirit can speak to you. You don’t hear it in your ear, but you sense it in your heart. When you read His word, He does speak to you and when He speaks, it’s always a promise. God always keeps His word and He always keeps his promises. They are one in the same. He speaks Wes, and one day, He will speak to you too.”

I watched his countenance change. He had a physical relief, a small liberation from the lie his earthly father told him. He knew what I was saying was Truth and I’m well aware that wasn’t from me. God really does give children a hidden knowledge of who He is.

So, this Thanksgiving, here is what I am most grateful for:

My God is the Ancient of Days and if He said it long ago, it is a promise today.
If He spoke it to me on March 8, it is a promise today.
Even if Wesley’s own dad denies it, calls it lies, and tries to sway my son away from it… His promises remain.
No matter what anyone says about my Savior...

When He speaks, it is always a promise


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My Kid Just Shot the FedEx Man, Like Literally an Hour Ago

This JUST happened.

So, about an hour ago, the doorbell rang at my parent’s house. Wes went to get it. I didn’t hear him come back in, so I went to check on him. The front door was cracked open about an inch and as I swung it open a little wider, I saw a large box on the porch…but then, I also saw a FedEx man bounding through our front yard, running for dear life back to his truck. Why, you ask?  Because my 6 year old was racing after him, right on his tail, rapidly firing shots at him with his brand new Nerf gun. Yes, this is my real life and that is really what just happened.

There. Are. No. Words.

Happy Thanksgiving from us, Mr. FedEx man.

Here you are…trying to make a buck for your family and you have to run into unrefined, unpolished little boys who clearly haven’t been taught their manners. Good heavens.

I looked down the road to see the poor soul down in the cul-de-sac turning around, understandably, so he could get the heck out of our neighborhood and away from all the outlandish happenings on Easterling Drive. 

Feeling mortified with the current plight, I decided my only option was to run into the street in my bare feet as Mr. FedEx was coming back up towards our home. I began bellowing to Wes, “Get out here in the street RIGHT NOW!” Wes knows “the bellow” well, so he quickly made haste to the street with me. I began flapping my arms hectically in the air at Mr. FedEx man and I told Wes to do the same. I’m sure it was quite a sight for the quiet, country community. 

Thankfully, Mr. FedEx had some sort grace in his heart because he slowed down his vehicle so that my (evidently uncivilized) little whippersnapper could talk to him.  He rolled down his window and Wes was able to say, “I was wrong to shoot you. Will you please forgive me?” Mr. FedEx man was so kind and replied, “Yes, I will, Buddy.”

Thank you Mr. FedEx man. We are so sorry and we hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. While you may not be thankful for us, we are very thankful for you. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

My Kid Won't Ride a Bike

My kid won’t ride a bike. He’ll jump off trees, swing from ropes, ride on zip lines hundreds of feet in the air across lakes without so much as a seat belt, he’ll laugh all through the iFly experience begging for more and he’ll ride every single adult ride they’ll let him on at Six Flags, but he WILL NOT RIDE A BIKE.

I began this all American endeavor when he was only 3. He was passed down a balance bike from his cousins and the first time I tried to get him on it, he just kept saying, “No! No! I don’t want to. Please no.” I tried EVERYTHING. I even sunk low enough to exchange goods and services with him. If you will ride your bike, we can go together around the block. Won’t that be so fun? “No.” We could take your bike down to Pops and Honey’s house and ride it. Pops loves to ride his bike. “Nope.” We could take it to the nature trails and ride it with Charis and Drew. “Uh uh.” Then my mom, Honey, even tried to intervene. “Guess what? Honey will buy you a new bike if you learn to ride one.” “NEVER!” Once he found the word, “never”, it was unending. From that point forward, at the slightest mention of a bike ride, he would shout, “Neveeeerrrr!” Think of the dog in Pavlov’s experiment. You ring the bell and the dog salivates. I mention the word bike, out screams “NEVER!” (Not exaggerating.) Wow. Okay. I was wrong to try to negotiate with the future dictator of America.

Nothing would suit this kid’s sensibilities.

Needless to say, he continued on his bike with training wheels.

After several years, when he was 5, I thought, “Okay, now, really now, he’s old enough, he will be ready.” I decided it was time for some tough love. I took the training wheels off and told him that if he wanted to ride his bike, he had to learn how to do it. “Time to gather your courage Wes! This is your time! The training wheels are gone. FOREVER. Don’t even try to ‘mom’ me on this one.”

I’ll show him.

He hasn’t tried to ride his bike since. He’ll be 7 in February.

Oh wait, you thought this blog would end with me telling you how we finally made it happen and how he is happily riding joyously through the neighborhood each day while shouting thanks to me for showing him tough love because the end result was so worth it?

I’m afraid there will be no miracles on 34th street this year.

Strong will anyone?

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Bad Day with a Huge Gift

Monday, November 13, 2017

6:45– I drag Wesley out of bed because he didn’t wake up bright and cheery at 6:15 am like he did on the WEEKEND, BOTH Saturday and Sunday morning.

7:00 – Wesley can’t find his uniform shoes. I scold Wes.

7:10 – I can’t find my keys. I feel guilty for scolding Wes.

7:15 – I walk out to the car to realize the keys have been left in the driver’s side door all night long. I huff.

7:20 – Wes and I leave for school late. I puff.

7:21– Wes finds uniform shoes in the car and proceeds to change from regular shoes to his uniform shoes while still wearing a seat belt.

7:30 – Wes and I exit the vehicle at CCA. Wes proceeds to say, “I left my lunch and my snack at home on the kitchen table.” I roll my eyes and let out a big, grumpy sigh.

9:15 – Wes comes into my classroom (while my class is gone) looking for a snack (since he forgot his at home), only to find that the emergency stash I normally keep for him is completely empty, so what does he do? He eats the last piece of chocolate in my drawer. He basically ate my sanity.

At this same moment, he decides that this is the perfect time to give my class a good prank. He switches around all of my student’s water bottles, so as my class gets back in from recess, all of their water bottles are on random desks and as every teacher would understand, complete and utter chaos ensues.

9:55 – Mrs. Stewart (Wesley’s’ teacher and dear friend of mine) can see that I might need some humor in my life, so she proceeds to tell me, “Guess what Wes said at prayer request time?” He raised his hand and when I called on him, he said, “Pray for my mom. She had a heart attack this morning.” He’s not that far off.

10:35 – Mrs. Stewart comes to visit me again, “Need another good laugh?” “I sure do,” I respond.  She begins, “As we were sitting on the carpet just now, Bobby told me that his chest hurt so I asked him if he took some medicine and he told me that he did indeed take some that morning.  Then Wes leaned over and said to him, ‘Well, don’t take too much medicine or else you’ll die like Michael Jackson.’” I am reminded once again that I love Mrs. Stewart and her strong will to find the sparkle in life.   

10:45 –Mrs. Stewart and I run to Tom Thumb while the kids are at PE to get a few things. I can’t find my purse during check out so Mrs. Stewart has to purchase my items for me. We get to the car to find that I must have left my purse somewhere inside Tom Thumb. Mrs. Stewart and I head back in to discover it was on the check out counter, two feet away from where Mrs. Stewart paid for me when I couldn’t find it ten minutes ago.

1:30 – I spill glue on my black skirt and on my black tights. I'm over today.

3:00 – I receive this email from Cindy Richardson in the finance department:

“Hi Lauren,

I hope you’re having a wonderful Monday. I have some news that I know will bless you! … I had an anonymous $XXX donation to be paid towards Wes’s tuition. I have applied this as I was asked so your new balance is…”

3:30 – I leave school crying because of this incredible, anonymous person and the beautiful way my day ended with them. 

Dear unknown donor,

You have been unbelievably generous. I know you probably have your own life, your own job and your own family, but you have taken a moment out of all of that to think of us.  We don’t know who you are, but we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. While your faces are hidden from us, your goodness will never go unseen.  Whoever you are, I am so exceedingly thankful for you and your overwhelmingly kind spirit.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, I want you to know I have prayed for you and your family and have asked the Lord to give you a double portion of the generosity you have shown Wes and me. We will never forget this compassionate act and will pray for you openly at our home even though we don’t know your name.

With all of our love, Lauren and Wes

Sunday, November 5, 2017

What is a sex shoe anyway?

Wes told my mom the other day that the garage was a “wrecking mess”. I’m not even sure what he meant to say, but that was obviously not it. It did take me back to several of my childhood (or maybe also adulthood) misheard lyrics and phrases.

As a kid, I remember hearing a fun little ditty in my dad’s truck and I would mainly sing it out because of its catchy tune. It went like this, “Secret Asian man, secret Asian man!” After all,  it makes complete sense people. Lots of Asian men are secret spies. Do you know Jackie Chan? Jet Li?  Bruce Lee? C’mon, we all know them.  Do we not see the massive connection here? This song is talking about a spy from Asia. Yes, of course it is. I felt rather disgruntled when I found that Johnny Rivers had originally written it, “Secret agent man, secret agent man”. Way to let a 10 year old down man! I’ll be honest, having to accept my version as erroneous, the song at best, has lost a bit of its initial value in my heart.

The next song I remember singing was, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” by Toby Keith. The song says,

Should've been a Cowboy
I should've learned to rope and ride
Wearing my sex shoe, riding my pony on a cattle drive
Stealing the young girl's hearts...

I never really knew what a sex shoe was, but I was pretty sure it was inappropriate. I just figured Mr. Keith was one of those improper and uncensored types of singers. I mean music was going downhill in the 90's. After all, the radio saw nothing wrong with the singing of dirty, sensual shoes.

You might wonder why I didn't ask my parents to clarify. Really? Are you serious? Because who wants to ask their parents about sex shoes? Or worse yet, who wants to find out if their parents actually have their own personal set of sex shoes? NOT. ME. NO, GRACIAS! Positively unsuitable. Both then and still now. Keep your sex shoes to YOURSELF mom and dad.  Thank heavens I just kept singing it wrong for a decade so as to avoid an unnecessary and vastly uncomfortable situation.

I did learn later that the actual lyrics read, “Wearing my six-shooter riding by pony on a cattle drive”. Well, there you go. A six-shooter. A gun. Yep.

I also remember hearing my dad use the phrase, “every fiber of my being.” For years, I thought he was saying, “With every fiber of my bean.” The thing is, beans DO have fiber. In fact, they have a lot of fiber. Why hasn’t anyone else figured this out? It is very easy to infer this if you understand nutrition. With everyone trying to be healthy these days and eat organic foods and only buy free range everything, I knew that this phrase had to be accurate. I will not announce an age at which I learned the correct words of this phrase.

Then recently the movie, Frozen, came out. I downloaded a few songs for Wes to listen to in the car and one was “Fixer Upper”. Such a cute song! I love the beat of the drums in this one.  While thumping the steering wheel to the beat I would sing, “Get Beyoncé out of the way and the whole thing will be fixed!” Because, yeah, Beyoncé is this really big deal right now so the song must be making a reference to her in their music. Right? Shows and songs do that now, you know. It wasn’t until later, that I realized it was saying, “Get the fiancé out of the way, and the whole thing will be fixed.” Ohhhhh, I get it. She is engaged to someone else and it’s talking about getting rid of him. Well. Whatever. Beyonce, fiancé, shmiance. It all sounds the same when you’re singing it.

And apparently this particular gene has been passed down to my kid. You learned about what in church? Ferris wheels? Got it. 

Have a great day everyone!

Hey Whore

It was consistently hectic in the mornings as hundreds of first and second grade children would walk down our hallway each trying...