Hello, remember me?  I’ve been busy and I feel like God’s still telling me to break from the blog for a little while, even if people think it’s died now, or I’ve died now or whatever. :)  In any case, my thoughts have been heavy as leaden bricks lately, as well as my family’s, and I thought I would share something my mom wrote on her blog.  Thanks, mom.  It was truth and made me feel a little better.  Love you guys.


“It has been two years, this month, since our son-in-law, Nathan, (Lauren’s husband) died. At his funeral, Lauren had asked me to talk about him as a man, husband, and father.  These were the thoughts that came to me, and I wanted to publish them as a way to remember this most precious man.

Mike and I have always told Lauren, Ryan, and Patrick that if we got to choose our kids all over again from a million kids, we’d choose them again. And if we got to choose our son-in-law all over again from a million sons-in-law, we’d choose Nathan.

Lauren never dated anyone before Nathan, so I always felt that she would recognize who she was looking for when he came along.  And she did.  She told us she had met this guy, but she didn’t describe how good-looking he was, or how intelligent he was, or how athletic, or how driven he was.  Instead, her description of him was that he had just taken a group of inner-city boys on a campout; and, since he couldn’t afford to go to his mom’s for Thanksgiving, he instead had invited a group of international students to his apartment and he was going to make them a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

Lauren and Nathan started dating in January, and by the time he moved to Chicago (for the semester) two or three weeks later, they were committed.  It was such a whirlwind; we didn’t even get to meet him before he left.  But while he was there, they spent really quality time each day on phone calls, emails, and even wrote real live letters to each other.  Lauren read me one of his 16 page letters, and I thought this is the man we want our daughter to marry.

In March, he was able to come back to Dallas to visit. I had spoken to him on the phone, but it was our first chance to spend a weekend with him. This was a very important man to our family, and we did not take it lightly at all.  So the day came.  He walked into our home, sat down at our dining table, and he. . . . . . . . .  tooted!  Welcome to Nathan’s world.

After that, almost every weekend, he made a 7 hour flight down here(with the connections), stayed a day or two, and then had to fly 7 hours back to get to work.  It was such a labor of love, and he went to great lengths to court this young woman.  They spent hours talking, challenging each other, and discovering where they wanted their lives to go.  And all along, as he stayed with us, we got to know him well.  He called me in April, and asked if I would pick him up at the airport at 4:30am because he wanted to surprise Lauren and officially ask her to marry him.

When we got back from the airport, I got him temporarily set up in the kitchen as he composed himself.  As I left him alone, I have the sweetest memory of this godly man reading his Bible, with a single lamp on in the house, memorizing what he wanted to say as he offered his life and his love to our daughter.  I could hear him quietly going up the stairs, walking into Lauren’s dark room where she was sleeping, and thinking about him quoting from the Song of Solomon, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.”  It was so very meaningful.  (It was, however, temporarily halted when Lauren awoke in the dark and momentarily thought it was her brother Patrick.  But it worked out just fine.)

This is a man who understood at his young age how to be the head of his family, and Lauren wanted to be submissive to him.  It really was the way the Bible describes it if the man is allowing Jesus to lead him first. He did not use control, or demands, or ultimatums.  He used love, logic, strength, support, and prayerful direction, and won the respect and admiration of his bride.  He was the Watchman on the Wall for his family.

I wish you could have seen the look on his face one day when he, Lauren, and I were talking and she told him that she trusted him more than anyone else in the world.  What a blessing on a husband for a wife to tell him that.

They learned very early on how to truly communicate.  I told Lauren that they were blessed in that they never went through early marriage discord.  God just worked on their hearts and gave them the opportunity to not waste time in needless bickering.  In October, when it was Lauren’s birthday, she called me in the afternoon to tell me she thought Nathan had forgotten it.  She wanted me to call him and try to indirectly remind him.  Her only concern was that she did not want him to feel bad if he missed it.  They made the effort to keep their eyes on the important things in a marriage, and they were rewarded for it.

The gifts he gave her were always unique.  I watched as this fisherman, hunter, skier, mountain climber sat on our couch for several days macrameing a necklace for her for their anniversary.  Or, how he set up a camera in downtown Denton when all the Christmas lights were on and took some beautiful photos of the two of them, and then cut out the mat and frame to give her for Christmas.  Or, the day he called to find out how to

make a robe for her, with no pattern, even though he had previously only stapled his badges on his scout uniform.  He knew how to give.

I remember when they first got back from their honeymoon.  They had just started moving their stuff in the apartment that week, so it was a wreck.  While they were gone, Ryan, Patrick and I went over every night and put stuff away and cleaned it really well, set the table, put out the candles and the flowers for them so it would be nice when they walked in.  I’m so glad we did.  As they were leaving our house to drive back to theirs for the first time, I mentioned that they were going to their own little home.  Nathan stopped and thought about it for a minute and said, “I have not had a home of my own since I was 15.”

Then two years later, God blessed them with their very own house.  I walked into our mortgage broker at work, and said, “What are the chances of two 23-year olds with no money, barely a job, barely any credit, getting into a house?”  He said, “Pretty good!”  Thirty days later they moved in, and God gave Nathan and his little family a safe place to lay their heads.

Two months later, Jack was born, and I got the privilege to be there, while Mike and friend Carter waited right outside the door. Nathan was so calming, and supportive.  In fact, there was one point where the midwife asked Lauren if she wanted some drugs, and she said that maybe she did want drugs.  Nathan gently reminded her of their goals, and said, “You don’t want drugs.” Then Lauren repeated, “I don’t want drugs.”  Nathan nor I had ever seen a baby being born(at least from that perspective), and we both stood a little stunned that just as the top of Jack’s head was coming, we silently, but collectively, thought that it did not really look like a wrinkled baby’s scalp.  Nathan was still so calm.  He later told me he thought Jack was being born with an exposed brain, which is better than me, because I thought he looked like a Shar-Pei puppy.  But, nevertheless, Jack came out with gusto.  The only little thing Nathan missed on his timing was 1-2 minutes after Jack was in the world, Nathan excitedly said, “Lauren, that was great! Let’s have seven of them!”

Nathan was the first person to ever put a diaper on Jack, the first person to ever dress him. It took him about 25 minutes, but he did it.  He was so excited about watching Jack do all the boy stuff – in  fact his name, Jack Elijah Taylor, i.e. JET, would look great on the back of his football uniform.  I loved to tease Nathan, so I said it would also look great on the back of his tuxedo during his piano recital.  Nathan just groaned.

There are quite a few of us that felt Nathan sensed he wasn’t going to live too long.  He did tell Lauren when they were engaged that they might not have a long life together, but they would have a full one.  And, he most definitely kept his promise.

One of my favorite quotes has always been the one from Jim Elliot, “Live, to the hilt, every situation you believe to be the will of God.”  Nathan personified this.  He did  not beat people over the head with the Bible – he just read it, understood it, and lived it.

He was a precious husband, a loving father, and a child of God.  As Nathan moved from this life into the next, the picture I have in my head is of Jesus greeting him, with arms open wide, as He says, “Well done, Faithful Servant.”

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I’m really, a lot frustrated.  My computer is broken again–this time 10,000x worse than before, because now it seems to be the hard drive.  I’m actually kind of worried that I might lose some videos and pictures of Jack I hadn’t saved in another place…Please God, protect those.  I feel like spitting.

So, I guess that means another blogging break, because it is super troublesome to lug Jack out to the library to blog while he’s climbing on bookshelves and making a small mountain of books in the middle of the room.  Sorry, guys.  Maybe it won’t take them very long to fix it.

On another note, Friday would be Nathan’s 26th birthday.  I miss him.   But we’re doing well right now.  Maybe we’ll do something fun on Friday with the family.  I think we might go to a fun pub and tell funny stories about him.  That would be good.

Welp, I’ll be back soon with something more interesting to say, but I thought I’d tell you before it was a month past that my computer is down again.  So…see you soon.

It takes a certain amount of desperation to ask a prostitute for directions while she’s on her street corner.  A level of desperation that hopefully none of you have experienced outside of me.  The first time (yes, it’s been more than once), I was in France on a senior trip. There were 4 or 5 of us girls- we’d had a night out at some fancy dinner or something- and got lost on the way back to our hotel.  We’d been walking awhile, as I recall (some of you’s girls are reading this right now and can fill in more details), and our hotel was across a major highway with no bridge or anything to get across to it.  Lacking the ability to speak French, the only, I mean only, person we could find to ask was a pretty French girl, who obviously could have been doing much better with her life, who was standing on the corner in fishnets, a really really mini skirt, and stillettos. I think we made her angry.  She ignored us as a car drove by that shouted something to her and she yelled back with an added rude gesture.  We ended up stopping a cab–who refused to take us there because he said it was too close–but led us to a bridge or something anyway.

The second time I nearly asked a prostitute for directions was last week.  You’ll soon find out why it was nearly.  I should probably include here that I have gotten lost nearly everytime I venture out into the city.  Yes, I have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad sense of direction.  But it’s not entirely my fault.  The city of Chicago expects everyone to have lived here a long time and just know intuitively where they are going.  Therefore, street labeling is optional.  And they change the name of the street however often they please so it doesn’t really matter if you know the street name anyway, you need to intuitively know what it will morph into in another block. Also, mean people who like to cut you off live in cities.  Also, all streets are one-way, so if you miss your street, you’ll have to drive around in a square for another hour.  Anyway, on this particular sunny, prostitute-inhabited day, I was driving home from church when the silly city decided not to label which direction the highway I was supposed to take would go, and I got stuck on a tollroad that I had to pay 3 stupid bucks for.  Though I didn’t know it, I drove to the complete opposite side of the city, and eventually found a street name that I knew led to my house.  But, oh, the friendly little street that I knew had transformed into evil, I-don’t-want-to-be-here, lock-my-doors street.  At a stop light, a couple of drunks stumbled into the front of my car.  That was my first freakout.  The second was when a bus suddenly had a bright idea to flatten my car, pulled out into the street, heard me honk, and ignored me while I nearly had to drive into oncoming traffic.  I wasn’t even completely sure the road wouldn’t run out and not take me where I thought I was going, so I rolled down my window to ask for directions from a woman with her turned away from me on the street.  She had just come out of a building and appeared to be straightening her shirt.  My mouth was open to call, when she turned around and I could see she was a prostitute.  Still “straightening” her shirt, but a little stoned perhaps, didn’t quite recognize that her breast was popping out.  It was breast popping out that clued me in to her occupation and made me think that, you know, though she could have been a really nice prostitute, maybe this wasn’t the best time to ask for directions.  Just maybe.  I quietly rolled my window up, and we followed the street until it thankfully lead us home.

What does all of this have to do with low tech/high tech as the title suggests?  Well, I’m afrad to admit that I’ve judge the GPS people in all my natural hippieness.  I thought they were gadget-obsessed techies who were looking for the latest computer whatever thingy.  I mean, why not just look at a map or, at the worst, on the internet for directions?  After my last little lost escapade, my mind wandered back to my parents’ visit a few weeks ago.  My dad had a GPS, I was snooty toward it at first, but then…it told us where to go like magic.  Took a wrong turn?  No problem.  Recomputing… Need to look up a place nearby? Come, peruse my pre-loaded annals of destinations.  Need to know where the closest gas station is?  Sure, I’ll tell you, Lauren.  Because I’m your best friend. I was hooked on its helpfulness.  After I explained my last lost story to them, my parents agreed to get my a GPS for an early birthday present.  And life, my friends, has been right on course, so to speak, since.  Driving-wise, anyway.

All of this to say, I’m sorry I judged you, high tech GPS people.

Whew.  This was a good, sad, and exhausting week.  Jack, the most excellentest little traveler ever, and I made the trek down to Texas and back via really, really, really, really long car ride.  It wasn’t really a fun, see-all-your-friends kind of trip, but more just to be there with my family during my grandpa’s funeral.  The funeral stuff was kind of like an Irish funeral (Or what I think Irish funerals would be like, though fortunately no one spoke in Irish accents, because that would be really distracting.), because one day we had a “visitation” (not a fan of that tradition, might I add), then the memorial service, then skipped a day before having the actual burial out at the National Cemetary.  Grandpa was an Air Force veteran.  Jack silently mouthed “Wow” with upraised eyebrows when they fired their guns 3 times, giggled during “Taps”, and smiled with eyes widened at the soldier in full uniform whose hand he got to shake.  He thought great-grandpa had the coolest funeral ever.  The whole thing really was beautiful and embodied my grandfather really well.  And my grandmother, she praised God, and said “Everything’s going to be okay, everything’s going to be okay” a lot.

I related with that feeling.  When I had written Nathan’s obituary, I sent it to myself via email, and the single-lined message I sent myself along with it was, “Everything’s going to be okay.  You’re going to be okay.”  As a widow, one of the first things I say to other bereaved people is “Everything’s going to be okay.”  I don’t know why I or my grandmother (and hopefully the people I’ve said it to) found comfort in that.  I guess it’s partly convincing yourself that life will still go on, even when it doesn’t feel like it, and, more importantly, it will be good again. It has to be good again.

While I was at home, I watched a documentary called, “Beyond the Gates of Splendor”.  If any of you know Jim and Elisabeth Elliott, saw the movie “End of the Spear”, or know about the 5 missionaries who were martyred by the Auca Indians in Ecudaor 50 years ago, “Beyond the Gates of Splendor” is a real life look into what happened to the missionaries and their families.  Elisabeth Elliott, in particular, is just one of those women who, frankly, I want to be when I grow up. I always have.  It’s funny, because she’s all serious and disciplined, while I am very disorganized and “out there”.  But since the age of 16, I’ve had a fascination with her.  You see, I read “Passion and Purity” as a 16 year old and decided from that book two things: 1) I would be a missionary one day, and 2) I would not date as Jim and Elisabeth Elliott had not dated before they got married.  If it weren’t for that book, I probably would not have been led to Nate because he was the first person I dated and that put a different spin on our relationship that would not otherwise have been there, and also we talked about how we both wanted to be missionaries in the very first conversation we ever had.  Specifically, Nate wanted to help little Romanian orphans.  Note: Men, if you are single and want to win a woman, telling her you want to spend your life on behalf of poor, helpless orphans is one sure-fire way to get her attention. Ahem.  I was obviously interested in Nate very early on. :)

I can’t be sure what my train of thinking was, but I’m certain that the fact that Elisabeth was widowed very young led me to have visions of myself as a young widow as a teenager.  She and Jim were married for exactly 27 months.  Nate and I were married for 27 months and 6 days.  She also had a baby daughter when Jim was martyred, while I obviously have little Jackabee.  Anyway, I watched this documentary, and saw these now elderly widows, who all lost their husbands at my age, and how affected they still were.  In fact, they were crying all over the place, after more than 50 years.  That comforted me more than I can say.  There’s always the fear that, through years and life and other husbands and other children, that the husband of your youth will fade away and you won’t remember that silly young girl and handsome young boy who got married.  It seems like another person, another life.  Even the widows said that it felt like a different life, but they still remembered and, more importantly, you could see they still loved deeply.

As I watched that movie, for the first time since Nate died, I saw myself as an old woman.  I’m not saying that I will be an old woman, because I know more than ever that tomorrow is not promised me.  I’m not even saying I hope to be an old woman one day.  But I looked at them, and they were as Job is in the last paragraph of Job, “So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.”  The widows I had read about as a teenager, who prepared me then as a young single girl for my husband, and who now inspire me to survive as a widowed mother have helped me more than they could know… again.  It made me know at a time when I’m just now getting over living a day at a time, that I can do this and do more than just survive.

At the end of the documentary, there was hope in me, and I was thinking of new life ahead and life behind and life now, and old age and young age, and places and people… The only words I could think of to address everything that was, and is, and is to come were very simple: “Everything is going to be okay.”

Love you, Grandma. Oh, and happy birthday, Mama.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

My grandfather passed away yesterday.  We’re definitely sad about it, but there’s a great sense of relief and thankfulness, too.  On thinking about it, we did the majority of our grieving a couple of years ago, and now it’s more like his “formal” passing. My grandfather had a massive stroke about 6 months before Nathan died.  Right after, we weren’t sure he would make it from one day to the next, and we would’ve had no idea he could live for another 2 years.  In any case, though he could minimally function right after the stroke, he slowly deteriorated from there.  He went from 300 lbs. to a mere 130, and didn’t really respond to us at all when we went to visit him.  Sometimes you look at someone and feel like they are jailed in their own body, and that’s definitely how we felt about my grandpa.  My grandfather loved, loved, LOVED to fish and I remember Nathan saying that what we really needed to do was take him out on one of his fishing boats for a last romp in the sun.  Of course, he was too fragile and his caretakers didn’t think it would be a good idea.  But when I think of what my grandpa must be doing right now…well, if there’s fishing in Heaven, he’s doing it.  Probably out with Nathan, actually.  Fishing in their boat, both telling stories for hours. My grandpa’s stories would be about old air force shenanigans, airplane, and childhood in the Depresson stories.  Nate’s would be about traveling around the world, facts about Oregon that no one believes (except maybe they do in Heaven since one probably can’t lie), and college shenanigans which his wife disapproved of.  Must be a fun fishing trip with stunning views.

My grandpa was definitely a family man.  Always inviting us over for dinner and feeding us massive meals.  Usually, to be more precise, lots of steak.  He got it on sale at Albertson’s or the Super Saver Market, and not only would he tell us for minutes about how good the deal on the meat was, he would have saved the advertisement from the paper where he found it.    Then we would dig in.  Always: thick steak- medium rare (the best steak I’ve ever eaten), mashed potatoes, fried okra, salad, and crescent rolls with sweet tea.  He would usually be tired after making steak and eating it, so he and the other men of the family would retire and watch fishing or football on TV while kids jumped on top of them.  My grandpa was infamous for giving us handshakes that crushed our hands, and punching us in the arm with his middle knuckle popping out so it hurt more.  You know, tough, manly love like that.  For all his toughness, he lived to see us grandkids, and I think we were his foremost thought most of the time.

My favorite memory with my grandpa was when he, my dad, and I went fishing about 5 or 6 years ago.  Somehow a minnow had got caught in the bilge water at the bottom of the boat, and I think I had been whimpering about being hungry or something, because my dad told me I should eat it.

“I would because I’m so hungry,” I replied.

“Okay, do it then,” dad said.

“How much will you pay me?” I was a poor college student, and was greatly motivated by money at this point.

Just then, my grandpa quietly pulled out a crisp $20 bill, and gave me a smirk as if he seriously doubted even this would fully motivate me for all my jabbering.

In my non-mathematical mind, even I could quickly figure that this was about 200 Ramen noodle meals.  So, I quickly reached down, picked the slimey fish up out of the brown water and swallowed it whole and alive.

“Uuugggghhh!” my dad said with a shiver. “I didn’t think you would actually do it!  I would NEVER do that.”

But my grandpa…well, who knows what my grandpa would’ve said, because he was laughing so hard we seriously thought he was going to have a heart attack.  He couldn’t speak and pulled out a tissue to wipe his tears from laughing so hard. The saga continued when the fish didn’t die for about 5 minutes, and I could eerily feel it swimming and flailing about in my stomach, which prompted intermittent uncontrollable laughter from grandpa in spurts throughout the day. Then we all started wondering if it was going to eat me from the intestines out, what it would look like when it came out, etc.  Ironically, when lunchtime finally came around, I didn’t feel that hungry after all.  Not with the fish still clinging quite ferociously to its thinning life thread in my bowels.

But my grandpa talked and laughed about it for years.  I think my eccentric toughness made him proud somehow.

In any case, I’m glad I’ll see him again, so thankful for our memories of him, that he lived a long, good life, and finally, that he’s Home.

Love you, grandpa.  We’ll still miss you.

My computer is fixed.  I’m here.

I thought about entitling this post “I Have A Brain Tumor” or something catchy like that to draw people’s attention to the fact that I’m writing again.  But, while that might draw more people’s attention, I realized that announcing I had a brain tumor would, in fact, be untrue– at least to my knowledge.  So, in any case, here I am, still writing and tumor free.

A recap of recent Chicago months…summer in Chicago is wonderful.  The weather is nearly always perfect.  I had no idea there was a beach here. A REAL beach.  Like, with sand and waves and bikini clad people and stuff.  That’s pretty cool.  Jack and I have taken advantage of the city’s many offerings, which means I went shopping one too many times.  The upside to shopping one too many times–great thrift finds and cool city views.

The church I prematurely announced I was dating got dumped, and I dated about 10 million other churches behind that one.  I’ve finally settled on one out, of all places, in Wheaton, which is about 30 minutes away.  It’s the least likely place I would’ve thought God would call me to go to church in.  It’s kind of like Christian Disneyland where there are more churches per capita than probably anywhere in the U.S., everybody dresses conservatively and has McCain bumper stickers next to their “Jesus loves you” bumper sticker, and all the streets are named after missionaries and church founders.  It’s also the home of Wheaton College, a prestigious Christian university that I once upon a time considered going to as a 17 year old.  But the church is great, and I’m especially excited that about 10% of the congregation are missionaries,50% of all church giving is toward missions, and they have so many people interested in missions that they run a small missionary preparation program.  So yay.  That’s some missionary fun.

I had my fourth wedding anniversary on the 21st.  That was not as much of an emotional shocker now that I’ve been through a full year of dates and anniversaries where Nate wasn’t there when he was supposed to be, but somehow it surprised me when I was more sad that I thought I would be.  I got through it all right, though.  Tomorrow, Jackabee turns 2.  I was telling a friend this earlier, and just wrote, “Insert bawl here” after the good-and-evil-at-the-same-time sentence “Jack turns 2 tomorrow”.  It’s especially good-and-evil that he can now tell me he’s 2 out of his own little 2-year-old mouth.  Oh…little ones grow so fast.  I love him so much it gives me wrinkles.  We already had a party 3 weeks ago when my family came to visit, prompting 3-year-old cousin, Levi, to think that Jack’s birthday must last at least 3 weeks, which is oh so disappointing because after Jack’s birthday comes Levi’s birthday.  Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to give him his present from me, and we might go to Chuck E. Cheese or something fun like that.

Last but not least, my sister-in-law and I have started a speed walking club, which makes my coolness factor go off the charts of cool.  Not only are we speed walking, but we are speed walking while driving our huge baby joggers, complete with sunscreen clad babies in floppy hats bouncing around in them, down the street. And, you know, though we might have somehow crossed the barrier from young hip women to borderline matronly/dork with the whole speedwalking club thing– we don’t care because we like it.  And hopefully, we won’t be matronly when we don’t get fat because we speed walk.   That’s the jist we’re going for, anyway.

So I just thought I’d tell about what I’ve been up to. My first Chicago summer in a nutshell.  It’s good to be back…

The charger on my computer lacks the capacity to do the single job it was designed for.  Thus my computer and I are having relationship problems right now.  I couldn’t seem to turn him on, no matter how much schmoozing I did, and, after being rejected so many times, my heart was broken and now I just ignore him.  So he sits there and glares at me from a corner where I’ve put him.  Sometimes though, I remember our happier times and have compiled a list of fun things that others can do with their computers when they are broken:

1.  Take it for walks in the stroller.

2. Use it as a giant coaster or a pretty centerpiece underneath a potted plant.

3. Punch all the keys that you were afraid to touch when it worked.

4. Let your toddler punch all the keys he wasn’t allowed to touch and watch him be entertained for hours.

5. Practice meditation while staring at the blank screen.

6. Hang pictures on the screen and use it like a picture frame.

7. And finally, not write blogs on it…

Sorry.  It would be fixed sooner, but Jack flushed a toy down the toilet the same night the charger went out, and I decided that fixing toilets is a necessary evil that comes before fixing computers.  At first, I went through withdrawals, because I kept all my recipes and got directions to go places online, and literally sat there wondering what people did before they had internet.  I decided this curiosity meant there was something wrong with me.  I found these cool things called cookbooks in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, and underneath a car seat found this antiquated measure called a map.  I had previously assumed that’s where I was supposed to stick my gum when I didn’t have a wrapper.  I’m like a new woman.

All that to say, hopefully my computer and I’s relationship won’t be on the rocks too much longer.  And hopefully, he won’t be too expensive to turn on again.

Love you guys.  Hope you’re having a good summer.