…10 Years Forward…
I’m honored to do Genie’s hair. Brings back memories of doing hair while Derek and I were both in college. He was finishing up his Bachelor’s in Religious Studies and I was getting my Master’s in Education. I worked at a high end salon, so I was racking in a lot of dough. Derek was working two jobs on top of going to school. And when I wasn’t at the salon, I was taking care of our girls… we barely saw each other.
But now, I work at Brink as a Math Teacher and Derek works at a Christian School as a Chaplain. He still works at warehouse some nights and on the weekends, but we’re not crazy busy like we used to be. He’s currently working on his Masters and wants to get his Doctorate eventually. I’m amazed at where we are!
“Wha-la!” I say spritzing her tight, pulled back bun with hairspray to hold it in place all night. I really didn’t do anything fancy.
She stands up and gives me the mightiest hug for the skinniest girl. Then she holds my shoulders and looks me in the eye, “I had a dream you and Derek had a baby boy.”
With an eye roll, “Derek and I are happy with both our girls… we don’t need anymore kids.”
We really couldn’t afford that right now.
“I’m just saying… he’s adorable! He looks like Papa Trick.”
Julie is pasty white with straight black hair and hazel eyes. Priscilla has straight red hair and ice blue eyes with freckles. She’s trying to tell me Derek and I are going to have a kid with brown skin and curly hair? HA!
“What are you smoking?” I joke.
“I know this is hard to accept but accept it!” She says keeping her cheery smile. She takes her navy-blue ball gown off its rack that helped it hang on the door of her closet. The bell of the gown embellished with faux diamonds and pearly-looking jewels. The sleeves of the gown matching blue but also see-through.
“I’ll wait for you downstairs with everyone else.” I say as I leave.
I was prepared to go through the whole safe sex talk. I know that makes me a little hypocritical as a Christian… but I think it’s better to have that conversation, but Genie’s pretty on fire for God… which I know we’re all prone to falling and sinning at times, but her heart desires what God wants for her life. At least I’m pretty sure, if her heart isn’t in that place, she is a GREAT actress.
In the foyer, Bobby lectures Oliver, Genie’s date, about when to be back and all the things father’s lecture their daughter’s date about. I picture Derek doing the same thing in like seven years when Julie goes to her first school dance. O my God! That’s only seven years away… I feel OLD. Okay, I’m only 26, but I have a 9-year-old! All my friends are just getting married and starting to have kids…
Xzavia, Bobby’s wife, has Albany on the home video-chat system. She’s away at college in Columbus, OH… That’s so far away from us, but we’ll see her at Christmas.
I purposely step in the line of sight to steal the attention.
Me: Hey Al!
Albany: I miss you.
Me: I miss you more! I can’t wait for Christmas… why aren’t you coming home for Thanksgiving again?
Albany: I’m going to spend it with Philip’s family. They’re right here in town.
Me: Aw… I forgot you have a serious boyfriend. Stop growing up! Just stop!!!
Albany: Whatever! You can take it.
Me: No, I can’t… (I get all teary-eyed.)
Albany: Are you crying? Are you finally pregnant again?
Me: Did Genie tell you about her dream?
Albany: No, we were praying for our families in class last month and I had a vision of you having a boy. He looks like your dad, just a lighter version. His curls are so gorgeous. You’ll finally have a kid that looks like you.
Me: (Trying not to be offended I say🙂 Julie and Priscilla look like me! We have the same eyes and noses.
Albany: Whatever, your son is gorgeous! I can’t wait until you find out your pregnant.
Me: D and I are done having kids!
From the top of the stairs, Genie yells, “No, you’re not!”
Looking at Albany on the hand held video-chat sphere, Xzavia comes to my rescue, “Stop pestering her. Prophecy can change according to obedience, are you sure you were released to share that with Savvy right now?”
Albany: (wincing from shame) Oops. Sorry Savvy. I love you.
Clearing her throat loudly and theatrically fake, Genie directs everyone’s attention to her. We applaud her and tell her how beautiful she is as she descends the stairs. She walks up to Oliver, who nervously tells her how pretty she is. He puts the red rose corsage he brought on her right wrist.
In front of the door, she stands locking elbows with Oliver. Oliver’s black bowl-cut hair is slicked with a lot of moose to stay in place. He wears a gray suit with a navy-blue bow tie and a burgundy dress shirt. They smile for photos. I don’t get why Genie died her beautiful blonde hair jet black, but she wanted a different look. I never pictured Genie dating a Native American, but they look cute together. I for sure thought she would date a Mexican with her love of Mexican culture.
I remember when she was tiny playing princess in Bobby’s living room! I can’t handle this!!!
After pictures, I swoop in and hug her not wanting to let her leave. I whisper in her ear, “Guard your heart…” She totally knows what I mean by that.
Derek is the youth pastor at church, that we all go to together, and he preached a sermon about sexuality and purity. He preached when we guard our hearts we’re holding dear all the promises of God, and when we trust God and follow in His precepts, when we receive God’s promises it gives glory to God and prevents us from damaging our souls or hurting others. He emphasized sex out of marriage compromises our relationship with God. Because we’re designed for marriage and only meant to have sex within marriage, doing it outside of marriage damages our heart, but within marriage sex ignites our hearts and helps us build healthy concepts of commitment, love, and intimacy. I wish I heard a sermon like that as a teenager… Even though Derek and I didn’t have sex until our wedding night, this night ten years ago, which was like 4 months after Julie was born… I think Derek and I would have just had a smoother first year of marriage, if we heard the message he preached on “Guarding Our Hearts” at Genie’s age…
“Can you let go now? I don’t want to show up after all the fun is over.” She says loudly.
I release her drying my tears on my sleeve.
“Oh, Happy Anniversary! Why are you hear and not with your husband?” Genie wonders.
“He had to work… we’re gonna celebrate next weekend. Thank you.”
Bobby embraces me on the left and Xzavia embraces me on the right, as we stand outside by the door and watch the young couple get in Oliver’s mustang and drive away to one of the best nights of their high school career.
“Belated Happy Anniversary”
Half awake I feel a warm light appear in front of my face. The smell of pine firewood hits my nose and I perk up suddenly opening my eyes. To my wonderful surprise, it’s Derek holding a new candle of my favorite sent to my nose. I look at the alarm clock and it’s 4:13 am. He must have just gotten in.
“Happy Anniversary… Have I told you lately… I love you so much.” He set the candle down on my night stand and kisses me.
He breaks away and goes to stand up, but I hold him by the head, “Are you coming to bed?”
“I’m all sweaty and musky from lifting packages all night. Don’t you want me to shower first?”
“You can shower afterwards.” I kiss him back.
He pulls away to gain clarity, “You mean I’m actually getting lucky tonight?”
“So, you don’t want to then?” I tease.
Quickly, he stands up and whips off his shirt and then leaps over me and lands on his side of the bed. His long locks cover his face like a curtain. I turn over and I hover his head. I wipe the hair out of his eyes, strand by strand. For a good while, we just smile and stare at each other. He doesn’t look that different than he did 10 years ago. He’s a little thicker. I remember after military school for two years he had a six pack but now it’s a pouch… I’m very grateful he isn’t going bald like his dad…
But beyond his looks, I’m so in love with who he is on the inside now. I love the man of God he is. I love the father he is to our girls. I love the type of son he is to his parents. The type of brother he is to his siblings and to mine. I love the kind of neighbor he is to everyone around us. I love how he treats me like I’m his queen, but he leads me like a king. I love him more than I did yesterday. And yesterday, I loved him a lot because he picked up an extra shift at work to earn more money for our family vacation next June.
He lifts his head to kiss me, but I back up.
“What? You changed your mind?”
“Genie, Albany, and Xzavia have had visions of us having another baby… and I know we can’t really afford that right now?”
“Well, I wasn’t planning on going unprotected tonight.”
Yeah, we’re that couple that still uses condemns… Birth control makes me sick… we tried many different kinds but I’m one of the women in the world that gets terribly sick under hormone manipulation… and neither one of us like the idea of getting fixed… I’m usually pretty good about tracking my ovulation and make sure we avoid making love on the days I ovulate to be extra safe, but I don’t know… I kind of want another baby.
“You don’t have to tonight… if you think we can manage the expenses as they come up…”
“Oh, we can handle anything together. Are you sure?”
“Yeah…” I say right as I kiss him.
Tyler Swipe, who some how transformed into a pop star after rising to fame as a teen country star, announces who the New Artist of the Year is, “Kaylie Johnson!”
Julie and Priscilla leap off the couch and start jumping radically all over the floor. Julie does a somersault in between the coffee table and the TV yelling, “SHE DID IT!”
“Aunt Kaylie won! Aunt Kaylie FREAKING WON!” Cillie shouts exuberantly.
I’m like crying… This is the moment she’s been working for the past ten years. She moved to Nashville after high school. She would call me after every rejection, every fallen-through deal, and every disappointment for encouragement and prayer. When she took the huge risk to transition from a Christian artist to a Secular artist, she got a lot of criticism from our circle of Christian friends. But last September, her album dropped and beat out some of the top artists in the country. Her single “Love & Freedom” still sits at number one. Her album is the most downloaded across all platforms. Over half the songs on her album have been featured on TV shows, and in films…
Kaylie wears a stunning red dress, he long hair in a fancy fishtail braid, with sparkles and jewels woven in. She hugs the songtress Tyler Swipe and accepts her AMA.
Crying joyfully, she wipes her tears, “O dear Jesus my Messiah… I don’t have any words… but… Thank you! Thank you God, thank you to my producers Lauren and Ed, to all the musicians who played on this album… thank you to Neill, my husband… I love you honey… Oh, and I have to thank my bestie- Savvy! I’m so grateful for this and I would not be hear today if I did not trust the path God sent me down. My glory is God’s glory. Oh- and thank you Julie and Cillie, your prayers got me through- now go to bed!”
The girls freak out they got mentioned on national TV.
God’s goodness can be overwhelmingly beautiful.
“Cash Moneymaker, Future NBA ALL-STAR”
“Let’s go defense!” I blare at the top of my lungs.
“Cash Money!” Trick hollers.
It’s nice that we’re all here. Derek, my girls, Bobby, Genie, and Xzavia, Netty, and Deshaun, and Arnie and Jessica. Trick too, my dad, who is the best. I still can’t bring myself to call him dad like Netty and Arnie, but he’s cool with me calling him Trick. So… after Julie was born, I did start writing him letters, but even after he got out of prison we didn’t connect until my grandma, his mom, got sick. Julie was five and Priscilla was three. Julie has always been close to my grandma since she was born, so over the last week of her life we camped out at the hospital and Julie bonded with my dad right away. I knew there was no way to avoid him anymore.
Cash takes after his dad. He has a beautiful set of curls and yet, he shaves them all off to sport a bald look… He’s so tall for 13… 6’0”! College scouts are already recruiting him. He plays varsity for the high school he’ll be attending next year as point guard. Last week an analyst on ESPN brought him up and says he’s the second coming of Kobe Bryant…
Watching him on the court dazzles us.
One-minute left in the 4th quarter, we’re down by two points, and the other team has the ball. Cash didn’t play most of the game because he hasn’t been listening to the coach. He’s in right now, because he’s the best player defensively and offensively. He’s also the number one stealer in the region right now.
Sure enough, Cash steals the ball from the opposite team’s point guard. He drives to the hoop. On his way up for a lay-up he gets fouled, but he still makes the basket. He makes the extra point putting the team ahead by one.
The clock slowly whines down, between the fouls and the time outs and the free throw shots, from both sides.
Ten seconds to go, we’re down by two, our ball. Full court pressure after the ball gets passed in to Cash. Cash spins around his defenders and rushes to the top of the key at the three-point line, he pops his shot off and it goes in putting us up by one!!! Yes.
They put full court pressure on the other team and the clock runs out before they cross over to their side of the court. We WON!
The whole family high-fives and hugs as we cheer about the victory. Cash leaves his teammates to join in our family hug. We don’t care that he smells and is drenched in sweat. We put him in the center of us and smother him with love!
This is one portrait of family I never pictured. I wanted a close family like this my entire life, since I was a little girl. We are far from perfect. We fight a lot and get on each other nerves, but there’s no doubt any of us love each other. We are all alcohol and drug free. We spend every holiday together. We get together once a month and we take giant family vacations together. We attend the same church. We live in the same city, and whether we’re blood or not, because we’re family, we’re there for each other, no matter what… All things are possible with God.
And my nephew will make it to the NBA if my prayers have anything to with it!
As we release Cash to go back to his team, Trick announces, “Pizza on me at Mama’s EVERYBODY!”
Trick does really well financially. He wrote a book about his life and his conversion to Christ while he was prison. He goes around the world sharing his testimony and preaching the gospel. And last month he just sold his book’s rights to Pureflix so they can make a movie about his life. Makes me wonder if I should write a story about my life… no one would believe I’m not on drugs, not a smoker, and not an alcoholic. That I’m a teen mom that lives in upper-middle class with a Master’s Degree. That I’m married to my childhood sweetheart. That I survived rape, kept and raised my rapist’s baby, and put my rapist behind bars… No one would believe my story.
“I Miss You”
Ten years ago today, a time of tremendous gloom
I sat in your hospital room
I witnessed you rededicate your soul to the One
Who bled, died, and rose again for you- the Son
Messiah Jesus- our glorious savior
Who won your heart through a painful cross labor
I’m at peace knowing you’re in paradise
I can’t imagine the glory you know and the size
Of the smile on your face
In that wonderful place
I have so many unfulfilled wishes really
I wish you got to hold Julie and Cillie
I wish you were there when Derek and I said I do
I wish I could hold you and kiss you and tell you I love you
I don’t really remember telling you that
And even though you put me through a lot of crap
I’m so grateful we had that best time together
For your finale in life, that it was better
Than our ugly beginning
I know you know in life now I’m winning
But with all my blessings- it doesn’t change this fact
I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU. I MISS YOU.
I stare at the letter from Kurt. He got sentenced for 15 years but he’s up for parole due to good behavior. He claims to have found Christ and his letter is filled with a long-winded apology. He wants me to be a character witness for him at his hearing! I believe he’s changed, but I don’t want to help him get out sooner. He wants to meet Julie too.
Now, we’ve told Julie that Derek isn’t her birth father. We told her that Kurt was and that he wasn’t a very good man and he was in prison for something bad that he did. We did not tell her about the horrendous act that led to her conception. We’re waiting until she’s older and more mature to handle that reality. We’re not lying to her, we’re just withholding part of the truth.
For the past year, I’ve allowed Julie and Kurt to exchange letters, but Julie’s never expressed she wants to meet him. She’s never referred to Kurt as her father. She tells her best friend Stacey that Kurt her is sperm donor dad. She came up with that take all on her own, after she watched a PBS special about IVF and egg and sperm donating in America, and how laxed our restrictions are on how often people can donate their genetic material. She may be 9, but at times she’s like 30.
I don’t know what to do… I don’t think I can handle this right now. Christmas is coming up, Derek and I just found out we’re pregnant for a third time- I really don’t why I let my sisters manipulate me into this pregnancy, and I have the classrooms from hell this year!
God, what do I do?
Julie walks past me and sits down at the kitchen table, and she set her backpack on the tabletop. Cillie follows her lead and sits next to her. They pull their school iPads out and log in to start their homework.
I snap out of it and put the letter in the junk drawer.
“What do you both want for a snack, before dinner?”
“A peanut butter and banana sandwich.” Julie asks.
“That’s weird!” Cillie says sassily to her big sis. “I just want PB&J mommy,” in a sweet girl tone to me.
That was Kurt’s favorite snack…
“Have you ever had a peanut butter and banana sandwich, Julie?”
“No, but Daddy Kurt says it’s is favorite snack and he misses it.”
“How come Julie has two daddies and I just have one? Paulie has two daddies too, but they live together, but he doesn’t have a mommy… that must suck.”
“Cillie, watch your mouth.”
I try to process Julie calling Kurt dad and wanting to eat a snack like him as I gather the ingredients. It’s so much easier to talk about forgiveness and moving forward when you don’t have to face the person who hurt you… I mean, I know I don’t have to worry. He has to register as a sex offender and he can never be alone with Julie, but I can’t stop my heart from racing with panic…
DON’T BE AFRAID.
Yeah, I don’t have to be afraid.
“Ooo! There are beautiful angels surrounding you mommy!” Cillie exclaims. She’s a seer. She sees angels all the time and she’s been getting visions about her baby brother like crazy. She told us his name the other day, Rodney, which before then we couldn’t choose between that name or River for a boy and Delany or Laney for another girl. We’re very private when discussing baby names not revealing the name until the seven month, but with prophetic kids and family members you can’t keep anything secret.
“Yeah, mom, God sent His messengers to help you be okay with Daddy Kurt’s letter. So are you okay with going to see him?” Julie wonders…
The mail was in the house, waiting on the kitchen island counter when I got in the door… The girls came in after me and there’s no way Julie could know about the letter let alone know what it was about…
Okay God… I will go… I’ll speak on his behalf but God… just keep me sane and my girls safe…
Both my girls get up and race over to me. They hug me as I start crying.
“It’s okay mommy.” Cillie says.
“You don’t have to go if it’s too hard.” Julie says.
Laughter tickles our hearts and as I crouch low we just keep laughing in the Holy Ghost. They smother me in kisses on my cheeks. Then Julie hands me the kitchen hand towel to wipe my tears.
“I’m okay… How did I get blessed with the best girls?!”
“Because God is too good!” They shout in sync.
…Back to the Present…
“God is Too Good”
I want to write a poem but I can’t really settle on rhyme and meter… But just thinking about God’s goodness, blows my mind… I went to church with Derek and Kaylie last week and I learned why awful things happen to people.
We live in a fallen world and we all have free will, because God loves everyone unconditionally, He will not override anyone’s freewill. Unless we submit our will to pursue after His will, is when He’ll interfere in our affairs and impact the earth because He gave authority of the Earth to us.
When we have relationship with God and we live our lives for Him, we build the Kingdom on the Earth. Through loving people like He loves us is how we change our world and bring people to Him. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to listen and to trust Him and have faith everything we go through has a purpose that will make God’s Kingdom bigger. As believers we are one big family and our job is to add to the family God has designed and to build a home for God on the earth.
I have to forgive the jerk, Kurt- I have to forgive Kurt… Because Jesus died for all of us, he deserves forgiveness. I have no idea how I can forgive him… but I know with God… anything is possible.
I think last night I had like a vision of my future… Ten years from now… I don’t remember anything but the names of my kids… I think… nope… I don’t remember. I have immense peace! Whatever life throws at me, God is with me, and He will never leave me or forsake me!
Thank you, Jesus, for saving me.
And I must be this way because Netty’s been praying for me… probably Derek’s prayers too… And well Kaylie’s as well… who cares! Jesus is the best friend I’ve ever had… greater than Derek and Kaylie put together.
I don’t hate my life anymore. I’m sad my mother is dying. I’m sad I don’t know my dad. But I got this hope, knowing everything is going to get better. I have a purpose now. And that purpose is living life with God, after all He made humanity because He wanted to enjoy community with us (Rev. 4:11).
I think I’m going to write a book about my life… or at least blog about it… so if anyone suffered like I did or do… they know there’s real hope. Not the kind of hope where you wish for things to be better, but with hope that confidently knows something better is COMING!
Originally, “Bussing It” was going to be 12 parts. But I cut it short, when I incorporated the flash-forward, I felt like it offered enough to showcase the direction Savvy was going to take with her life.
I was seriously thinking about Savvy putting her first child in adoption, but I decided against that. I felt like a stronger story of forgiveness prevailing that way. But I’m pro-adoption…
This story is the first Story Sunday where I have campaigned like crazy on social media and the first series where I was very adamant about being consistent. I only broke once by failing to post a part one week, but life happened and I didn’t plan enough to make up for it.
I’ve had this idea since 2012. There’s many different versions on my flash drives. The only part I used from those other versions are the characters and the stories that Savvy told her little sisters. In one version, I was going to have Savvy grow up to be a famous children’s author and I think based on this version, we can see she definitely followed some path of writing in life, but I left it very open-ended as to where that goes.
In all the other versions but this one, Savvy and Derek were going to break up and he was going to die in a car accident and or a drug overdose. But I really fell in love with this idea of the two of them forever and never separating until death from a ripe old age.
Originally, she was going to be pregnant by Derek and not Kurt. Originally Kurt was really sweet and Bobby was the child molester, but somehow those roles changed and I’m okay with that.
As usual I have people getting saved in my story because salvation is the best and I love seeing the power of that even in a fictional context. I think I’ve used the power of conversion too much. For the next one, we’ll have a series with already saved people!
Thank you so much for reading this serious. If you loved reading it, feel free to share it with someone you think would enjoy reading it!
If you have any questions for me, drop them in the comments section, and I will respond as soon as I can.
I know Disney uses the slogan “Dare to Dream”… and I don’t know how long they’ve been using that, but I thought of the for story title back in 2013/2014, and I feel like I came up with it first… but I have no proof and I very well could be wrong. But I dare you to dream and to never give up on your dream, you have that dream for a reason, and you are meant to fulfill it. God will show you how to do it the best way! And if God crushes your dream, he has something better in mind because He knows you the best!
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