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.

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!

Prego Brain

Just recently, I was reminded of my favorite prego brain moment. It was December and I was about 7 months pregnant. I was already stressed trying to have everything in order for Wesley’s arrival. As I’m leaving school one afternoon, I start up my car and a yellow light pops up onto the dashboard. Scared of driving it home due to previous explosions in my hood, (I blew up my engine in college due to the ignoring of a light) I sat in the car and decided to make a better and more adult decision this time.

Immediately, I call the Saturn dealership.

(Car issues can trigger me because I’m pretty sure demons live in the mechanisms of cars. The results of car trouble tend to be expensive and highly inconvenient. I can feel the frustration beginning to emerge, but I’m taking some deep breaths to counteract the upset.)

Hello, this is Saturn. How can we make your day today?

Yes, hi. I need help. This light has popped up on my dashboard and I don’t know if I should drive or not. It is yellow and it has an exclamation point.

Hmmm. I’m not sure. Are there any other lights on?

No, just this one.

I’m not sure mam, but I wouldn’t drive it until you know what is going on.

Okay,  I’ll call someone else. (a little more frustrated, and a little less breathing)

(2nd Saturn Dealership)

Can we help you?

Yes. These lights. I don’t know what they are. Can you help me?

Mam, we don’t know. We haven’t heard of that type of light. We can’t say whether it is safe to drive or not.

Ugh. I’ll call someone else. (straight frustration, no breathing)

(3rd Saturn Dealership)


Yes, my light. I need help please.

I’ve never heard of that before. I’m sorry.

Why can’t anyone help me? There is a YELLOW LIGHT. It is has EXCLAMATION POINT ON IT. Why doesn’t anyone know what is going on?

I’m really sorry mam. I’ve been here 15 years at this particular Saturn dealership working specifically in the service department and I’ve never heard of an exclamation light on the dashboard of any of our cars. I wish I could help you.

FINE! DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. (I’m now ready to run someone over. Who the heck would breathe through this? I cannot even drive my car home from school people!)

I hang up the phone. I look at the dashboard again and then abruptly it dawns on me…


Oh yeah. 

I drive a Hyundai.

The end.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Breaking Crayons and a Teacher's Grace

Dear Mrs. Stewart,

You came to me after school today to talk to me about Wes. You said you walked over to him and asked him some questions about the book he had just read. His response was upset and he began to break his crayon, seeming frustrated.

You did not yell at him.

You did not get angry with him.

You did not sit him in time-out in a corner of the room.

Instead, you talked with him. You asked him why he was feeling frustrated. He responded with various comments.

You responded with, “Do you feel like you have too much on you right now? Maybe you are feeling a little overwhelmed?” He replied, “Yes, just a lot of things.”

Then you stopped. You stopped what you were doing, stopped to listen to a six-year-old’s frustration. You considered his upset worthy of your attention.

By doing this, you gave him tangible empathy. You gave my child your compassion. The rest of the class was working and being a teacher, I know you had other things to do, as teachers pretty much multi-task all day long, but you let all that go so you could sit with my kid and just listen.

That isn’t even the greatest part of this whole ordeal. You didn’t leave him there. Your kindness continued when you said,  “You know what Wes? Let’s not worry about this book right now. Go ahead and put it away. I just want to pray over you.”

And then you prayed.

You prayed over my son.

In class.

At school.

With all your other students in the room.

I love you Mrs. Stewart.

Today my kid wasn’t up to doing his reading or his comprehension questions. You had a moment presented to you in which you could have chosen irritation and impatience, but no, you chose to give my child your personal time and love and then you gave him the love of his Savior.

This special moment has been saved in time as a moment of thoughtfulness and graciousness and while he might forget this moment, I can assure you, I won’t.

You, my friend, are worth far more than rubies or pearls. You are a cherished friend and a cherished teacher. May God make His glorious face shine on you.


Me, as a mom

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My kid got called names today at school.

I teach at the school my son attends, and this year, I teach first grade, which he is also in, so I see him quite a bit at lunch and at recess and sometimes in the hallway. Today, while on break, I saw Wes walking down the hallway. He didn’t seem himself, so I asked him if he was okay. His response was to simply bury his head in my chest. I asked his teacher if I could have him for 5 minutes, she agreed. (Let me insert here how much I LOVE his teacher.) I took him to the teacher’s lounge where we continued to have a conversation.

Me: What is bothering you?
Wes: A couple kids called me 'slow' during tag today at recess and one called me a 'loser'.

Mama bear isn’t quite the picture you should envision. It’s more like, the 5 foot tall girl who suddenly feels 8 feet tall, weighing in at 270, with a blood pressure of 190/150. Like, I know I have on these expensive 3 inch heels, and I’m in a lovely, tailored pencil skirt, with my fake Kendra Scott earrings on, but I can 'mama bear' with the best of them. I (for real) don’t even care that smoke is comin’ out of my nose right now. I will handle this situation RIGHT NOW.   

I arrowed up a quick prayer.

Then I took a long, (veeeerrrrrryyyyy loooooonnnngggg) deep breath and I said, “The most important thing about this situation is…what did you do?”

Wes: I told him to stop.
Me: And then what happened?
Wes: He stopped.
Me: What a strong man you are. You stood up and told him to stop and he did. You handled it. God gave you the words to say and you used them. That is what a man of valor does.

He smiled a tiny smile, but his shoulders were still slumped.

Wes: Thanks mom.

Here’s the harder part. In all truthfulness, I need to tell you that Wes isn’t fast, at all. He actually loses most races that he runs. I mean, he will never be an Eric Liddell. I had to really think about what to say at this point. Here’s what came out.

Me: Wes, you’re not the fastest runner and that is okay. You can tell that boy, “Hey, stop it. I’m not the fastest runner, but I can still play hard.” And you can. You can play your heart out. You can. That is what you can say next time. 

Wes: Okay mom. 

Me: And also Wes, it is very important for you to forgive him. We all mess up sometimes, you and me included. You know how we talk about our own sin and how we make mistakes? We forgive each other and it is very important that we forgive others too. That is exactly what Jesus did for us.

And then while choking back my own tears, (and maybe still choking on some choice words for that kid)...

Me: And you’re not a loser. God doesn’t create losers. And I love you. A whole lot. 

Wes: Thanks mom. I love you too.

Wes went back to class.

Here’s the worst news in the world.

I CAN’T CHANGE THE OTHER KID.  (I mean, I could. I can do amazing things with some good, high blood pressure.)

Here’s the best news in the world:


Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Blah blah blah. I don’t think James had any kids. That’s fine for me to have trials, but don’t give my kid any. OKAY???? Hey, you little kid that called my son a loser, you better not provide any trials for my kid because…ooops, okay, sorry, I’m back. Jesus. Yes, trials. Trials for my kid. Jesus allows trials. Ugh. They are SO HARD sometimes. 

I tried to re-read the passage like this:

Dear Lauren,

Count it all joy, Lauren, when Wes meets trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of his faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that Wes may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Love, Jesus

I desperately want to raise a MAN. I want Wes to be a godly, righteous man whose faith produces steadfastness.  I want that steadfastness to have its FULL EFFECT.  I figure now is the time to learn it. Right now. Today. Sitting at the lounge table at school with his head hanging low, tears forming in his little, brown eyes.  Right now is the time to say, “God will show you how to handle this if it happens again. You can’t change him, but you can do the right thing. And if that kid ever says something ugly to someone else, you do the right thing. Learn from this. You stand up and speak up for anyone that might be on the receiving end of the “loser” comments. This is really hard right now for you, but this hard stuff will help you to stand up for others if this happens to them. Be Jesus, Wes. Be holy. Be strong. Be a warrior. Be a MAN." 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Read with caution.

There are some things that aren’t proper to write about and some you should certainly never post. This is one of those posts, so if you think you should stop reading here, please do so. It will not be deemed appropriate by most.

If you’ve ever had a son, I’m pretty sure you’ll “get me” on this one.

On Wednesdays, at my Christian school, the faculty meets early for devotional time. They provide childcare for our children, so my son always goes to the library to play with his friends for 15-20 minutes while I am in devotional time with my staff.  Hallelujah!

This specific Wednesday, after the ending prayer, I headed to the library to pick Wes up. As I walk in to the library, the lady taking care of the children gives me, uh huh, THE EYE. You know the one. The eye where she non-verbally lets you know she needs to talk to you. (I know this particular non-verbal communication well.) The range of feelings that come after “the look” vary, but most involve sheer terror of …“Oh great. What in the world did he do? Will we be calling a parent? Will I need to give him a spanking? (Because everyone knows I have a wooden spoon on me at all times. Like, does the sun even rise every day?)

As I follow her gaze, her eyes lure me over to a quiet place in the library where we can talk “alone”. Dear Lord in the heavenly places! What in tarnation would warrant one of the oh-so-feared QUIET talks? I mean, let’s be real, you know it must be bad when you have to CIA your way into a discreet nook of the children’s library to find out what crime your kid committed. (Insert heart pounding, labored breathing, nausea and the onset of physical panic at this moment.)

She then proceeds to tell me the following:

My 6 year old had some toy out and was swinging it around his head like a lasso as high and as wide as he could. (No shocker here. I’m still thinking this is mild play at this point.) Mrs. P. tells me that she politely heads over towards his direction to make sure there is nothing dangerous going on, which let’s be honest, danger is usually the most likely explanation. (I must thank Mrs. P. at this point. She is wasting no time trying to save other children from any madness that might go down in the near future. Thank you Mrs. P.!) At this time of the story, she changes her face a bit as she begins the next statement. I see a slight crease in her mouth as if she is actually hiding a smile and maybe even a few small giggles. Hmmmm, I’m not quite sure how to respond, so my expression stays anxious. She continues and says that she kindly asks Wes, “What ya got there?”

Here’s where we hit the tripwire. 

He replies, “Oh it’s just a tampon.”


Oh yes. That is exactly what he said. And that is exactly what he had.

She asked him where he got it and he continued to tell her how he found one wrapped up in my bathroom, so he just tore it open and silently put it in his pocket, so he could play with his “whip” in the library today since we had devotions.

For. The. Love.

If there was one thing in the world I assumed would NOT be used for a weapon…but nope. Not a chance Lauren. Not a chance.  It is an innate genius with boys. They all have this implausible flair for making every single item they unearth into some piece of destruction. Today, it was my tampon.

And that was our Wednesday. Here’s to you and yours!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kids Don’t Believe in Coincidences

Kids don’t believe in coincidences and I have to admit, I love that about them. The Bible talks about having a “child-like” faith. I am in a room with sixteen 6 year-olds for 8 hours every day and I can tell you right now that I understand why God said that. They don’t believe in coincidences. Coincidences don’t exist when it comes to children and their God. They wholeheartedly believe in their prayers and in God’s ability to answer those prayers. 

Today was the first field trip of the year. Woohoo! Field trips are when some of the best memories are made in school! Bus rides, sweaty, red-faced children, picnics and parents. It is always a fun day! We were signed up to go to Mainstay Farms in Cleburne, TX, about an hour away.
As teachers, we were keeping a watch on the weather. The forecast kept calling for scattered rain/mist on our field trip today, so yesterday at school, we prayed out loud as a class and asked God to keep the rain away until after our field trip. This morning on my drive to school, all I saw were gloomy clouds swelling around above us. When I walked in, the kids began asking, “What if it rains? What will we do? Can we still go?” We stopped and before getting on the bus, we prayed again. Well…what do you know… the rain stopped. The dark clouds spread and the sun shined down on us and even better, a group of white clouds moved in to give us some nice, cool, shade.

Some adults (me included at times) might pawn this off and assume it was just “by chance” that it quit raining, but not my first graders. For them, it was certainly because we prayed. They wholeheartedly believe that the Lord took His hands and held that rain back until the end of the day so that we could enjoy time in His creation on the farm. That's it. It's that simple for them. We prayed and God answered "yes" to our request. They know it. The end. I’m pretty sure God smiles down on my little people quite regularly for their faith.

While I am their teacher and I do hope and pray they learn from me, God often reminds me to learn from them…Today I’m going to know and believe that God heard our prayers and did indeed, stop the rain for us.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A ring update!

Quick disclaimer: Names have been changed in this piece to protect the innocent. 😉

So my ring!!!!!

I’ve been wearing my ring to school, to run errands, to church, anywhere I go, I’ve worn that lovely ring loudly and proudly, including all day today.

There is quite an interesting update to this story though… Just one week after receiving my precious jewel, Wesley again entered my classroom with his face a bit blushed. He came trotting over to my desk with a new ring in his hand. It was light pink this time, heart shaped with the same beautiful silver lining. Once more, this was purchased with his own money that he earned in his classroom. As he placed it down on my desk, I put my arms around him and he whispered in my ear, “Hey mom. This is for Jen.” 


Oh yes. This was for a sweet, little-miss in my classroom! Let me say that again...He purchased that pink, heart-shaped ring for a young lady in my class! I wasn’t sure what to do, so I simply walked him over to said young lady and he (a bit shyly, well, as shy as Wes can be) handed it to her. She smiled and placed it on her finger. I admit that I felt a twinge of pride that she decided to wear it. Bless her kind, kind soul for that small, but oh so big moment. She will never know what that did for my heart.

As he began to walk away, he quickly turned back around to her and said, “Oh, and it’s just because we’re friends.” She smiled again and went back to work and he went back to class.

And that was that.

His first real gift to me and his first real gift to a girl all in 7 short days…what a week! 


"Wes chose to draw instead of finishing his work. He had to stay in at recess."  #itwasahardfirstdayback #EthanandLaylaweresti...