I have never heard God’s audible voice before, but last year, He came pretty close. On Valentine’s Day 2018, my cousin was visiting from out of town, and after a family Valentine’s dinner, he made a random suggestion: “Have you ever thought about taking your articles about marriage and making a book out of them?” The idea seemed so far-fetched. My dad had just died, I was constantly drained from working overtime and I was depressed. But my cousin insisted so we kicked around some ideas for what a book on marriage might look like.
I grew up in the Deep South and in my family, there was an expectation that women should always be “ladylike.” That meant, in part, that a woman should never burp in front of others (seriously, I’ve never heard my mom do it). Another thing about the South is that the secret ingredient to 93 percent of entrees is grease, so if you’re someone who avoids fried foods, that requires building up a certain intestinal fortitude to digest the lard that permeates the Southern diet.
On the night of February 7, 2003, Coco and David Treppendahl got the news that no parent ever wants to hear: their 19-year-old daughter, Laura Treppendahl, had been killed by a drunk driver as she drove home from a Bible study. The driver, one of Laura’s fellow students at the University of Mississippi, had just driven away from a bar in an SUV with eight passengers inside. Within minutes of leaving, he sideswiped one car and then ran head-on into Laura, who died at the scene of the accident.
I’ve spent a lot of time on the floor with my kids playing with all kinds of toys, including blocks, baby dolls and board games. The kids love being there with me and I love being with them too. One person they can thank for that is my mom. Mom never had a prestigious job; she didn’t feed me organic foods; and she didn’t enroll me in a Spanish immersion school. We didn’t have a lot of money, so she didn’t give me lots of toys either. But here’s what she did give me: her time, her attention, herself. And in doing so, she gave me a…
One morning when my youngest daughter was 3, she got out of bed, met me at the stairs, and with quiet sincerity said, “Daddy, I have a husband.” “Oh really? What’s his name?” “Ramón,” she said, pronouncing the name “Wah-mone.”
The sky was dark outside of Petal Middle School because of a torrential rainstorm that was bearing down on our small town. All of the students were rushing to avoid the rain – all of them except me. I stopped by the gutter where water was gushing over the edges, put my head under the waterfall, drenched my hair, and then slicked it back. I thought it was hilarious. My teacher did not. When I walked into class, my teacher saw my soaking wet hair and loudly ordered me to get out of the room. I walked across the hallway…
When I was in my early 20s, I took an etiquette class back home in Mississippi. Although I remember very few of the rules, one has always stuck with me: As a general rule, you should let people embarrass themselves.
I was in a bad mood on my way to church last weekend, and it had everything to do with the woman driving in front of me. She was going about five miles an hour down a one-way street in Washington, D.C., while looking at her phone.
We should’ve listened to the woman across the counter at the visitor center of Gorges State Park: “You probably shouldn’t take a three-year-old on the hike to Rainbow Falls. It’s a three-mile round trip with steep climbs.” My wife and I ignored her, figuring that our three-year-old would be the exception. Plus, we had our girls, eight and nine, to help along the way.
I was lying flat on my back in the snow on the side of a Colorado mountain feeling thoroughly disoriented. I had overestimated my ability to ski down a more challenging blue slope after learning how to ski the day before. Everything went downhill from there (literally) when I unexpectedly came around a bend and plummeted down a steep slope. The next thing I knew, I was sprawled out in the snow and my skis were scattered several feet away.
I wore a purity ring until I was 23. For those who don’t know what a purity ring is, it’s a wedding band sometimes worn by young, unmarried Christians. The ring is meant to remind yourself and everyone else that your heart belongs to Jesus and your virginity belongs to your future spouse.
As I clicked “publish” on my blog post, I had a faint hope that I would find my fifth-grade English teacher, Ms. Saucier. The blog post was titled “If Jesus were a fifth-grade teacher.” I had lost touch with Ms. Saucier several years before and despite online searches, I had come up with nothing. The blog post was both a tribute and a last-ditch effort to find her.
A few years ago, I was on the verge of my dream job, one I had been working towards for years. Other than a few logistics to settle before I officially signed on the dotted line, it was finally mine– almost. In a last-minute surprise, a shift in funding at the company eliminated the position. I was devastated.
It was my dear friend Aaron’s birthday and he had no idea what surprise was in store for him: My family and I were going to drive 12 hours and show up at his house unannounced (don’t worry, we planned it with his wife, Laura). The visit was a long time coming. Aaron and I hadn’t seen each other in person for three years. The long distance, expense and our growing families made it hard to do more than talk on the phone.
It was my junior year of college and I didn’t have the money I needed to pay off my tuition for the fall semester. I was a couple hundred dollars short and there was no Plan B. Believe it or not, I had no student loans. I was fortunate enough to have a scholarship that covered half of my tuition. And thanks to going to a state university, the bill was low enough that I could make the payments by working 25 hours a week as an errand runner at the hospital. Somehow, though, I hadn’t saved enough money to…