Archive for September, 2009

…and we’ll go.
September 28, 2009

Today it has been one year…

One year since I woke up from a Sunday slumber and realized I’d left my phone in the car…one year since my heart sunk seeing on the screen that I had a dozen missed calls and texts…one year since I heard my Melody tell me “Janet died.”…one year since I ran up the cement steps and collapsed on the floor in shock and sobs…one year since I packed in a flurry, made phone calls with undecipherable words, and sped home to Indiana without being able to see the highway through my tears…one year since I held Rachel in my arms and literally could not find words that would soothe or comfort…one year since too-high stalks that hid a stop sign sent our girl home.

Janet was an unexpected surprise of a friend…

Rachel had asked to bring her along to a party I was hosting, and I said no.
I think my exact words were something along the lines of “She’s too pretty. I won’t like her.”
To which Rachel responded… “Oh yes you will, she has a lisp.”

And from the moment that stunning woman hugged me and said “It’s so nithe to meet you.” I was hooked.

For months she drove to Indy on the weekends to stay with Rachel before she eventually made the move after graduation, and with every Saturday night we spent or Sundays we worshipped together I loved her more and more.  By the time she officially unpacked her boxes, we were all more-than-happy that she was becoming a permanent part of our lives.

There are so many memories that have Janet wrapped up in them, house church and concerts and sleepovers and prayers and parties… and yet certain moments stand out more than others, her wrapping her arm around me or slipping her hand in mine as I cried before our Lord on Sunday mornings, rubbing her back while she confessed to falling in love while in Jordan, snagging a hot cup of coffee and Godiva bar just to surprise her at Apple, us girls squished in the backseat of Dave’s car enjoying our usual routine of giggling and dancing while we rode to a night of Colts training camp, sneakily planning Rachel’s 23rd birthday party, and the night she officially stitched herself into my heart…

It was a warm late-summer day that led me to the State Fair with my friend Kris and his parents, and after funnel cake and lemon shake-ups Kris and I headed to meet Janet and some of their coworkers at a local bar.  Never one to be underdressed, I hadn’t forseen the night leading to an upscale club when I donned my jeans and gray v-neck.  Janet convinced me to come along, and we said goodbye to the boys and headed out for the night.  Once in Broad Ripple I bemoaned for the millionth time how gross I felt in my simple outfit that smelled of the fair.  Janet grabbed my hand as we walked up the stairs to the club where the pulsating music was pouring out of… she looked right at me and said “I think you look great, but the minute you want to go home, you just tell me and we’ll go.”

She got it.  She knew that for all of my brash brassiness, I too-often squirm in my own skin, and she knew that it would be hard for me to meet a lot of new people feeling less than my best.

So we walked upstairs, men instantly drawn to her perfect face and smile, she laughed with friends new and old and proudly introduced me to everyone.  Eyes cast down at my flip-flops in a sea of stilletos, I squeezed her hand.  She looked at me, and without a single question or request to stay just a “little bit longer” she said goodbye to the men fawning all over her and out we walked.  I felt embarrassed and awkwardly apologized.  “What for?”  she queried… “I just want to spend time with you…I don’t care where we are.”  I remember my eyes got hot, but not wanting to cry, I just hugged her as we drove home.

Rachel was gone that night, but we snuggled in her bed and for hour after hour Janet poured out her life to me… she told me of all her loves and heartbreaks in complete detail… somewhere toward morning we fell asleep.  Right before our eyes closed she told me she felt bad for keeping me up talking all night and she apologized… “What for?” I asked.

Weeks later, I was home from Ohio to celebrate my birthday with my beloveds.  After another wonderful morning at Common Ground we went for brunch at Patachou… It was slightly raining, Jeremy and Rochelle with a teeny-tiny Maryn, Val & Melody with pregnant bellies, other friends standing around as we waited for a table laughing and chatting… it was normal, it was wonderful, it felt whole.  After breakfast, I knew I needed to head back to Ohio, but so badly didn’t want to leave my loves… without a care in the world Janet hugged me for the fifth or so time and shouted “WE LOVE YOU!” as her and Rachel bounced to their car.
That was the last time I would see her alive.

The next time I saw her was in a casket in Pennsylvania with a face that looked nothing like hers.

After the service we drove to the grave site, we stood and prayed as I leaned on Walter to simply stand.  The sight of Julie sobbing locked itself deep inside of me and I walked with dozens of others who were laying roses atop our Janet Rose, I slipped a magnetized quote against her steel resting place…


After that, we all hugged, dozens of us friends that couldn’t quite, and still can’t quite, wrap our minds around Janet’s death.

As I waited for Zach and Kris and Sean in the car with my muddy shoes hanging outside of the open door, I snapped this photo of the trees above me… as a reminder that there was beauty in the day… Janet, ever the artist, would have had it no other way.

janet tree

As we drove away, listening to Phil Wickham’s “Divine Romance” the tears I thought were spent continued to pour.  One of the boys reached his arm across the backseat to comfort me as the sobs that seemed to wrench out from my insides had me barely breathing.

Days before as we had packed some of her room, in a hazy grief-swallowed fog we sat to take a break.  We picked up a Bible sitting next to the couch… asking who it belonged to;  it was Janet’s, and we flipped to where it was bookmarked.

Our sovereign God had the pages open to Psalm 103, and the following verses were underlined: “Like as a Father pitieth His children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him, for He knoweth our frame, He remembereth we are dust. As for man, His days are as grass, as a flower of the field, so He flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more.”

And off to the side, Janet had written “Our lives are short here…live for eternity.”

janet verse

She did.  She had.  And now she was there… in eternity, with her Jesus…our Jesus.  Phil Wickham’s voice resonated through each of us as he sang … “For You I sing and I dance,  rejoice in this divine romance, lift my heart and my hands to show my love…”

That’s all I can envision her doing and a year later, that’s still how I picture her… head tilted back with laughter, bubbling up with joy and light in the very presence of her Savior.  So many times I’ve ached to be there too, to skip ahead whatever years God has left for me and join her in His presence… oh that she could just grab my hand, look me in the eye and say…

“The minute you want to go home, you just tell me, and we’ll go.”

janet smile

I love you so much my Gypsy, I miss you more than these words can express… we can’t wait to meet you at home.

Grace Money.
September 17, 2009

Yesterday I was robbed.

In the middle of a beautiful day, at the laundromat 2 blocks from my home… I walked in with 5 loads of laundry and did a silent cheer that I had the place all to myself.

After sorting my colors and delicates and squishing the entirity of my comforter into a washer much to small, I hid my purse under a laundry basket and watched two questionable and slightly dirty middle aged men walk in with their clothes baskets.

I immediately bristled, and not simply because one of them attempted the poorest of all pick up lines, but because something just didn’t feel right.

About a half an hour into my clothes sudsing & spinning, and my eyes constantly watching, another pair of men walked in.  They were younger, thinner, African-American and missing something…

They sat silently and watched me.  They never spoke to each other or the other men in the laundromat, occasionally they would shift in their seat or creep closer, always watching.  Being the somewhat brassy chick I can be, I thought of going over to them and asking why they would be hanging out in a laundromat with no laundry, but then a scene from the movie “Crash” came to mind… where Ludacris and his cohort hear a white woman lock her doors as they walk by, and comment on racism…

I didn’t want that to be me.  Truth be told, of the four men around me, I didn’t know who I was more skeptical of… so I said nothing but a quick prayer, and just kept watching my purse while sliding quarters in the SpeedQueens.

Out of nowhere, the spunkiest of all red-heads since Lucy herself came parading through the front door with her sweet hubby…my good friends Bobbi and Mike who I hadn’t seen in months!  I had sent a quick shot of the laundromat to Bobbi awhile back thinking she might want to use the vintage washers as a photo backdrop for one of her & Mike’s amazing engagement sessions.

In what I considered perfect timing, they stopped to check it out as I was tossing lavender softener sheets into the last loads.  We chatted and giggled for no more than ten minutes, and as they walked, well…as Mike walked and Bobbi danced out the door, I turned to go back in with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

The teenagers were gone, and so was my purse.  I shakily dumped out the contents of my baskets, looked under every countertop and then called 911 in a panic. After hanging up, I dialed Bobbi and Mike right away and told them to come back and drive around to see if they could help.  Four patrol cars and their SUV sped in every direction around the laundromat as I, panicked and tearful, gave a description to the officer who came my way.

Immediately the two older men came to my rescue, they talked to the officer, offered me sweet support and encouragement, and then things got even crazier…

I immediately called my beloved friend Rochelle and told her to fill my house church in so they could get to prayin’ real quick.  As the chain of prayer heated up, I calmed down.  Losing my purse wasn’t the end of the world, but it sure was upsetting… my keys, my wallet, complete with cash, checks, debit card, credit card, etc.  all were in the hands of three someones I’d like to call something worse than “hooligans.”

Bobbi called.  They found them.
We both called 911 and the officers sped to the location as Bobbi & Mike stayed close and kept me updated.

The officer tried to comfort me, saying that many times the suspects take the cash and discard the rest of someone’s belongings in an alley as they run, and many times those belongings are recovered.  She gave me a card with my case number, her name, and some advice as to how to cancel my debit card before joining her other IPD officers in an arrest of these men.

I shakily called my mom, the bank, Capitol One… and then I noticed a homeless man outside the door watching me with kind eyes.  Dirty, unshaven, with about six teeth and a greasy gray ponytail hanging past his shoulders.  He had listened intently to every word I exchanged with the officer, and with stumbling speech he looked right at me, and promised to do his best to help.  I somewhat shrugged it off as he sped away on his bicycle.

The crime-fighting duo of Sheridan & Belschner called to tell me they were watching two of the men get arrested, but the third gentleman, who I had only seen for  quick second, and was most likely the one who snatched my purse, was getting away.  I called the dispatcher again to fill her in, while Officer Temple came back to pick me up so she could drive me a few blocks away to ID the men they’d arrested.

Right as Officer Temple’s patrol car parked in front of the laundromat, the homeless man screeched his bike to a halt right in front of me.  Those six dirty teeth were stretched into an ear to ear smile, as he handed me my purse!

He had ridden up and down every single street and alleyway until he found what was left of my stuff dumped in a heap.  He gathered everything together and tucked it back inside the purse, riding back in a fury to return it to me… and return feeling like a hero.

I nearly toppled him over with a hug so strong, the only thing stronger was the speed of my tears.  I turned to see the other gentleman, Sean and Gary, trying to hide their tears as well.  Officer Temple got out of her vehicle and thanked him, letting him know that he had done a “great thing” that day.

I fumbled through the contents, noting that the only thing missing was my checks and cash, my keys and wallet and everything else was intact!  Officer Temple took off, and I heaved a huge sigh of relief and turned around.

Sean and Gary stood as my protectors, asking me if I was okay and if I had enough money to finish my laundry since my cash had been stolen.  I assured them that I would be alright, but they didn’t take my word for it.

Fishing through the pockets of their worn-out pants, they each handed me a crumpled ten dollars.
I refused to accept it.
I told them that they had done enough by being my guardian angels that day.  Gary tucked the money into my closed fist while Sean said to me “It’s not about being a guardian angel, it’s about being a human, a human being who wants to do the right thing.”

While a foaming wave of humility washed over me, my eyes again welled up as I thanked them, and with that Gary carried all of my laundry baskets out to my car and gently placed them in the backseat.  They told me to be more careful, that it was okay if I went home and cried, and that mostly they were glad that I was okay and sorry they didn’t do anything to prevent what had happened.  My meager offering of another “Thank You” was again eeked out, and with that I drove home.

As a full-time waitress with a second job, I work hard for every dollar I earn, and having someone greedily steal it and use my money as their own infuriated me, but I think that I would have paid more than what was in my wallet for the lesson that I learned yesterday.

A man with no more to his name than an old bike and a dingy t-shirt full of holes was able to swell with pride, receive a warm hug and an honorable handshake, and two down -n- outs sacrificed to take care of a stranger.

I hope I never forget that I should be more careful and aware, but more importantly, I now have a wallet stuffed with twenty crumpled, dirty dollars to remind me that sometimes God uses the most humble to humble us.