A Good Exit – Amy at the Rest Stop

We’d switched seats, and it was ok with me. After all, he drove the whole way up to Lynnwood, Washington from Newberg, Oregon. I wanted to give him a break.  Braylon piped up from the back seat that was laid flat, “I have to go to the bathroom”. Ricky says to me, “Take this exit right here.” I saw no signs for the exit, just the exit number, so I said back, “Nah, this isn’t a good exit to take. There’s nothing here.” still looking for a restaurant sign somewhere. “No, take it. It’s a Rest Stop.” so I swerved into the far right lane just in time. It was Mile Post 93, 11 miles south of Olympia.

The sky was dark and the air brisk. I stretched and looked around, noticing a woman sitting criss-crossed on the concrete. She held a sign, “A Little Gas Money Would Help. Trying to get to Medford”.

“I’ll be back. Gonna go talk to her.” My sweet, patient family waited for me in the car.

I squatted down by her, saying hello, both our backs against the same brick wall. She smiled back at me. I admitted I had no money to give her but I could offer something else. Prayer. To a listening God.

Amy was a slender, white woman in her late thirties, but looked a little worn out, like difficult times had taken a few years without her permission. We had Medford as a common topic as I’d lived there for three years. I tried encouraging her, that once she arrived, it’d be such a great place to live. To start over. Her husband Franklin was in the car, she told me. Her marriage had gone through some “bumps” in recent months. She added that to a short list of things I could pray for. I asked about her health and she said she was ok, but The Spirit in his quiet way, told me to dig a bit deeper. She told me vulnerably, she had Hep C. “Dudn’t give me much problems, though”.

The conversation somehow curved around to Jesus and I asked her if she would ever consider letting Him in, to take over. Now’s a good time to start fresh, after all, with a new chapter in Medford ahead of them (oh- and their three children who awaited them, at her mother’s house). I pointed out that her cardboard sign read “God Bless”. “You believe in God?” and to that she answered, “Oh yes, I know he’s there. He’s always listening.” “Would you want to pray with me to just invite Jesus to set up camp, or live inside of you, to surrender your life – the good and the bad – to him?” She’d mentioned that she knew about surrendering your life and your will to something, because she’d heard the concept in NA meetings.

“I could pray and to take pressure off, if you believe and agree with me, you could just say, ‘Amen’ when I’m done?”

She threw her hands up as if to say, “what do I have to lose?” and said, “sure!” So I prayed for her, thanked God for loving her from the day she was born, and asked him to take her from here.  When she said “amen”, it was like she meant it. Like she’d turned into a big black woman sitting her church pew on a hot Sunday morning. “Amen!”. I smiled and shifted closer to give her a hug and a blessing, and she wished me the best kind of blessing she could think of at the time – safe travels and good luck.

I keep thinking about Amy. I keep second guessing my words, my approach, what I missed… “did I remember to pray for…” I really did forget to pray for her Hep C to be healed and was so bummed about that for 2 days! But the grace of my God rushes in and gives me a holy hug. I believed for it to be done anyway, from afar. He reassured me of his love for both me and Amy. And that He’ll keep placing more people before me that need to know that same love, as long as I’m willing to be open. As long as I’m looking for them. Like you’d urgently look for an exit off the freeway.

“Nah, this isn’t a good exit to take. There’s nothing here.”  Yep.

I was way off.


My Fatherless Friend

They came to our house yesterday. And I let the surface talk last for as long as I could. When the conversation took a turn to a local senior in high school committing suicide last week, we felt a heaviness and discussed the importance of being there for people, because you never really know the depth of their inner struggles. I looked at her mom who, at those last few words, began to cry. I leapt up from my sofa to hug her.

My friend was crying because her children lost their dad in a nearly head-on collision last February. The anniversary of their loss is creeping up quickly and something or Someone in me said it’s not spoken much about. Speak on it.

I’m tired of surface.

I said resolutely & punctuated it with another hug. Her daughter a Freshman in high school, stood “strong” a foot away. I knew I had to give her a message of God’s love and pray for them before they left. My favorite movie line has always been “Carpé Diem boys, seize the day”. And as mom left the room for a moment, I did just that by the grace of His Spirit and looked straight into the girls eyes, calling her by name.

Your heavenly father loves you so much. I see him like he’s on the porch, just waiting.

She started crying too.

And you, you’re not a prodigal. But like that story, you go away but when you come home to him, know that he’s right there. Arms are wide open. He looks ahead and sees you out of the corner of his eye. He lights up with excitement. It’s you!! He stops what he’s doing and takes off…runs to you and wraps his big arms around you.

I acted as Him and hugged her with all my might. She was still crying.

He loves you where you are and no matter where that is, or what you’ve done, you can go home to him and he will be waiting. Open his word. He will speak new things to you, because his Word is alive and active within you. It’s not about church or the right friends. It’s about relationship with Him.

She may have lost her dad last year. But she will never ever lose her Father. And I’ll be damned if I let one more conversation stay on the surface and not share the Father’s love. The hearts and the healing of His children hang in the balance.

This year, I’m going deeper.


Not About a Tree

Last night at Steve and Debi’s, we were all talking and having fun – including Rocky and Kourtney and baby Bayleigh Bebb, the Stewarts and Sami! It was pretty special. And loud. So when Steve went to the attic and brought out Gramma Grace’s hand crafted and framed Christmas Trees made of sparkly jewelry and broaches, it caused a bit of a switch in the atmosphere. We all gazed at the four of them in their imperfect glory.


One actually still worked when the light strand was plugged in. The wooden backings were drilled with holes so that tiny white lights could be pushed through from behind, making it even more special than any other kind of framed Christmas tree made of jewelry. 🙂 I remember these being hung around her and Grampa’s house every Christmas. Gramma Grace was a lovely, creative, funny, sometimes harsh, but most of the time kind and welcoming Gramma. I rarely talk about her, but miss her very much.

So Uncle Steve brought out the decorative trees and displayed them in the living room, giving Charity and I first “dibs” probably due to our childhood memories of them. There were some hurt feelings in the air, because Sami wasn’t considered. It wasn’t really about the trees, as much as it was about her feeling of being overlooked. I understood. She quietly made her way upstairs to her bedroom and I felt the Spirit just as quietly tell me to follow her so I made my way up the dark, narrow stairway and was happy she let me in.

We talked for a while. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was.  And was kind of concerned that everyone had eaten dinner without us at one point, but not enough to cut the conversation short. I learned many things about my sweet cousin as we dove into some deep subjects like depression, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and their threats on the Bebb family. Our words waded through the safe but murky waters of spiritual things like supernatural healing, speaking in tongues, and the intrigue of dream interpretation. And we also splashed around in shallow-water topics like our favorite memorized movies of the past (hers was Ironman and I had three: Dead Poet’s Society, Reality Bites and The Notebook) and our fave subject in school (which happened to be English and writing for both of us). Ricky came in and let us know that everyone was in fact, eating, so we better head downstairs if we wanted in. So we wrapped it up, just like that. But I was so thankful for that time we got to spend together.

I texted her on my way home to see if I could go sing at the nursing home she works at, since that’s been on my heart lately. She texted me back at almost 1am with a positive reply.  

I think God is reminding me of the importance of investing in a life, once again. I suddenly want to get to know her more. This new connection is not a coincidence. Life on this earth is too short to not really know or invest in your own family.

Abby’s Pizza Widow

Last Wednesday night, at his mom and Bob’s, Ricky went to pay the Abby’s pizza delivery person and I faintly heard her thanking him…more than a normal “thanks”. As the front door closed, he came back into the kitchen and I asked him, “you tipped her more than normal didn’t you?” “Yeah.” He admitted with a smirk, “she walked back to her car crying.” “What?” I said, “we gotta ask her if she needs prayer!”

Angel piped up, “Is she gone yet?! Go go go!”

So with that extra boost, I had to go. I slid Braylon’s slides on and scurried out to catch her before she left. She was head-down, texting. Her headlights caught me waving and she looked up, surprised. Immediately she rolled her window down and asked me, “Was it a mistake?” referring to the tip, and ready for disappointment. I didn’t know how much he gave her. The point was that he acted in obedience. I could still see her tear lines on her face. “Oh, NO! That was no mistake.” Her tears gave me the perfect opportunity to ask, “Are you okay?” It was less awkward than starting out with “Can I pray for you?”.

She paused as I bent my knees and looked in her eyes, carefully gauging her comfort zone. “Yeah, I just…” She was having a hard time finding words. So I thought it was good timing to ask, “Is there anything I can pray for you about?” Her answer was unexpected.

“I lost my husband five years ago” she replied so transparently as her emotions kept trying to interrupt. “This time of year can just be so hard for me.”  We talked some more and she welcomed a prayer right there in the driveway. As I placed my open hand on top of hers, she took her other hand and put it on top of mine, a gesture of trust, vulnerability and faith.

She had been married to him for over 25 years. I don’t know what I prayed really, but I do recall bringing up God’s names, The Comforter and the Prince of Peace. She was so genuinely joyful as we finished talking, and thanked me twice for coming out to her car. This was the work of the Spirit. It was not because of me, or Ricky…it was because of the goodness of the God we’re getting to know more. We’re learning it’s His grace that gives us the boldness and power and a really cool sort of intuition we need to “go” when we’d otherwise stay where we are. It really is all about His love. His pursuit of every heart, through us. I love it!

A few days later, the Lord kept bringing her back to Ricky’s mind and so we stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up a card, and some gift cards for her – because maybe she needed some extra Christmas money and some gas money since as a delivery driver you have to pay for your own gas. We wrote in the card and dropped it off for her at Abby’s and found out she’d be working that night (last night). We don’t know what this will yield. But we know it will be good. Because we were representing a giving, loving God to this woman who was in distress. I know this Christmas will be different for her though. In a good way.

Big Al’s Bartender

Ricky & I happened to be at Big Al’s today for a B-day party & before we left, we ended up approaching the BIG dude bartender with tattoos. I admittedly waited til I saw him smile and it drew out the teddy-bear in him so I was no longer intimidated. I thought his name might be Chris, but as I walked over to the end of the bar and motioned him over, I noticed his name tag read, ” Bryant”.
“I know you don’t know me but I feel like God wanted me to come over here & tell you he loves you (he smiled & his eyes brightened)…and he’s loved you since the day you were born. And he has a GREAT plan for your life.”
His face just beamed and he thanked me.
No one had come up for a drink from him yet so I asked him, “is there ANYthing at all I can pray for you about?”
He thought about it…
– Yeah, sure! I’m moving to Texas soon, taking a new job the day after Christmas.

“Ok! Anything else? How’s your body…any pain anywhere?!”
– I have back pain sometimes. I was in the military and it was injured, and then I got in a car accident.

A couple came up to order a drink, so I said, “YOU take care o’ them & I’ll be back to pray for you, k?”
– Ok! He said, excited.

I went & got Ricky at that point, and prayed for this bartender’s back (he let me put one hand on it and I felt his back getting very warm where I touched him) and for his upcoming move (for wisdom, no anxiety and total fulfillment) all in JESUS’ Name, thanking Him for all he’s doing in Bryant’s life.

As we left, he thanked us again and I looked him dead in the eye sternly reminding him like a momma, “He LOVES you.”

This was our first time stepping out like this, together as a couple.
It was pretty awesome.