When I heard that he was coming, I initially thought this is terrible. I don’t want to see him. He had promised that we would stay friends. That we would do it better than others who sucked at staying friends. Then he never called, he never tried to see me when he came to town, he never reached out at all..in any way. He “tried me out for a while” and decided that he didn’t want me and so he tossed me aside. And I did not want to see him again. Ever! Never again!….. Although, there was another side of me that said this could be awesome! I mean, I am no longer that little girl that sat next to him at Red Lobster and feigned mutual agreement for a dismissal that I did not want. I am no longer that girl who needed to control food like a substance to exhibit power over it just to prove that I could. I am no longer that girl who waited by the phone for a call that proved I was worthy to be called. I am no longer some little child that drooled at his every word, or touch, or slight recognition of my existence. I am a healthy, confident, accomplished, respected, on-my-way-to-being-a successful and intelligent woman with a plan. Going to college to pursue something I love and not needing him to validate me. Let him come. And let him see how many friends I have and how happy I am in my life. Let him come. Let him see what he missed. And if he recognizes it and tries to renew old feelings? Well then, I guess I’ll just have to let him down easy. Ya know, tell him “we could still be friends.”
The summer got off to a great start. Alexa, Kenzie, me, Chad, Kory and Steve were pretty much inseparable. Praise God that little stint with Chad didn’t ruin anything! We would be soaking up every second together until the end of summer. I knew I was going to Liberty, but everyone else was staying local, so I’d have to say goodbye to my best friends and I knew I was a terrible long distance friend. It wasn’t on purpose. I just focused wholeheartedly on people, projects or whatever that were right in front of me. Not that I thought our friendship was dead after I left, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same when I came back. I knew I would have to make the most of our time together before I left.
We just basically co-habitated for the first week. We’d spend the night at Kenzie’s house for a night or two and then move over to Lexie’s house and then mine. During the day, we’d meet up with the guys and go to movies or go to the beach or just do nothing over at the church. It was amazing.
It was very soon in the summer that I saw Jordan at church. He would walk in the sanctuary, usually from the choir loft entrance on the platform since he was singing on praise team or choir, I would see him and basically spend the entire service trying to avoid eye contact without looking like I was trying to avoid eye contact… but look amazing at the same time. Let’s just say my ability to focus on God during the time of worship was severely tested during that summer… and I can’t say I passed any Sunday that summer. I was adamant that I was not going to let him affect what should be the best summer of my life. There was no reason it should affect me, so I just let him do his thing and I did mine. No big deal.
One of the things we did every summer was help out with Vacation Bible School for the children’s ministry. A lot of the students would help in the classrooms, or with snack time or whatever. I would usually help out with the music during the big chapel service. The songs were always super silly and we did ridiculous hand motions. Not only were they ridiculous in and of themselves but we were encouraged to make them less choreography and more “landing a plane arm motions”. We would jump around and wave our arms over our heads while looking like complete idiots, but it was fun and the kids got a kick out of it. Since Jordan was the intern, he would be leading as well, so I, unfortunately, couldn’t avoid him that week. And instead of him seeing me every day as a classy, grown-up, mature woman, he would see me every day looking like a complete idiot in a t-shirt and jeans. Whatever. I didn’t care…. a lot.
We did each service twice since we had so many kids, so we would finish one service and then have about a half hour break before the next one started up. I would normally take the short walk from the fellowship hall, where chapel was, to my dad’s office in the next building. I started that walk, and when I stepped from the carpeted fellowship hall to the tiled hallway, I could hear someone walking a few steps behind me. As I turned to walk toward the three sets of doors leading to the next building, I saw in the reflection… it was Jordan. Ok, no worries. Just keep walking and don’t fall. If he wanted to chat, I’d be happy to engage with him, but I wouldn’t start it. I decided to walk to the automatic door that would open when I got close enough, so I could get away from him as soon as possible. I mean, I didn’t want him back, but I still had no idea how to talk to him in coherent sentences. I walked to the automatic door and stepped onto the mat in front of the door, ready to make an escape from his presence. Nothing moved. I waited for half a second. Nothing moved. I dropped my head like it was on a hinge. Well, that’s embarrassing. I heard a laugh behind me.
“ I hate it when that happens.” He chuckled as he reached for the handle on the manual door.
“ Right? It’s the worst.” I tried to seem nonchalant and charming as I walked through the door he held open for me. “Thank you.”
“ No problem. How ya doin?”
“ Doing good. Glad it’s summer.”
“ Yeah. You’re planning on going to Liberty, right?” He held open the next door into the FAITH building. How far was he planning on walking with me? Where was he going?
“ Yeah. I’m really excited. Where are you going now?”
“ Oh cool. You like it?”
“ Yeah, it’s fine. Not sure I’ll go back.”
“What are you gonna do?” I asked as I approached the door to my dad’s office.
“ Not sure yet. Just don’t know if it’s right. Maybe Mobile.”
“ Oh! Roger Breeland’s program right? I’ve heard it’s going well.”
“ Yeah me too. I really have no idea yet though. Just thinking through some options”
“ Huh. Well, I hope you figure it out.” I reached for dad’s knob.
“I’ll see ya in a bit.” I said as I stepped in the door.
That wasn’t bad!! I didn’t say anything stupid or fall on my face. Whew! Ok. That was it. I had talked to him and shown that I wouldn’t ignore him. Maybe that would be enough to count as enough interaction for the summer. He couldn’t say that I was rude or distant. We just had a very pleasant conversation. Now, I could just exist normally. We could do polite head nods across a room to each other and keep walking. Perfect.
In a culture that tends to throw marriage out as soon as it becomes less than utopia, how do you keep a marriage thriving when it seems everyone around us encourages us to throw in the towel? The short answer?? Work. Here are some of the things that have worked really well for J and I.
1- Trust your spouse’s love.
To love someone is to believe the best in them… even when knowing their faults. So, I know that when my husband does something that hurts me, it was not meant to do so… because I trust in his love for me.
2- Always consider your spouse.
Marriage is not about putting yourself on an altar to sacrifice your happiness so that he/she can be happy. If you are miserable constantly, check if it’s right. But every day, every time CONSIDER your spouse. And I mean, at EVERY opportunity.
3- Don’t JUST be lovers.
If you are only interacting in a physical/sexual way, you will not last. Be a friend… a best friend. Relate. Connect. Share intimacy…not just sex.
4- Also… be lovers.
A husband will not feel loved when slighted physically. A wife will not feel as emotionally connected when going a period of time without intimacy. Don’t buy the lie that men are the only ones that need sex. Women do too (differently in frequency usually) just for a different purpose typically. Men actually physically need sex with their spouse regularly. Women need the emotional connection that sex provides. If you do not have sex with your spouse regularly, the man will feel rejected and the wife will feel distant. This usually creates a downward spiral of a lack of rule #1…leading to quick frustration and stupid fights.
5- Speak kindly about your spouse.
Do not fall into the caricature of speaking about your spouse as “the old lady” or “the lazy husband”. Your friends/coworkers will think of your spouse the way you tell them to. And your spouse can become the title you give them. Speak life-giving words about your spouse. Words have power.
6- Communicate to UNDERSTAND, not to win.
If you are in a disagreement and want to win, you will lose regardless of who comes out of the discussion with less bruising. Take a breath, lower your voice and try to UNDERSTAND each other.
7- Acknowledge the priority.
There is a belief today that your kids are the most important relationship in your life. IT IS A FALLACY. Your marriage is the most important relationship in the world. If it is not, it will fail. Your kids will thank you for leaving them, so you can go on date nights. Love them enough to love them second.
8- Invest in your relationship.
If there is ever a good investment to be made, invest in each other. Put money down to do date nights, vacations (sans kids), marriage conferences and gifts for each other. Put money on things that matter.
9- Be kind to each other.
A girlfriend once told me, “you are nicer to your husband than you are to other people”. While this could serve as an indictment that I should be kinder to people in general, I took it as a compliment. We should be kind to our spouses. Each spouse should speak with love, gentle tones for the purpose of giving life to the other. If you are kinder to your boss than you are to your spouse, consider this an encouragement to check your priorities. Be kind.
Some hide their lack of consideration and kindness to their spouse under the mask of humor. We have a rule: Laugh with each other never at each other. A joke is funny unless it is at the expense of someone else, especially your spouse. This allows the woman to be completely vulnerable at all times without fear and the man to feel respected. Intimacy can only be achieved when there is safety in that vulnerability.
10- Make the choice.
There is only one way to make a marriage survive daily…choose every day to put your spouse before yourself. That feeling will wear off. The “I do” because I’m turned on will fade. Choose to be a spouse of integrity that says “I love you because I choose you”. You can make decisions every day to build up your marriage or tear it down. Make a point to see the good and improve on the challenges.. together.
Marriage is not difficult. It’s not complicated. It isn’t always easy, but it isn’t difficult. When done right, it is the biggest blessing this side of heaven. But at the root of it, it is a discipline in selflessness and self-sacrifice. If you can’t do that, don’t get married. But you’ll be missing out.
We have been so fortunate to be able to sing at some pretty cool places, with some pretty amazing people. At our last church, Jordan was able to write and record on a project called SONGS OF THE PEOPLE. Go get it on itunes if you haven’t heard it…so good. This was one of the tunes from that record. Jordan sang it this morning in a slightly different manner than we had done it before! ha.
I was struck by the pure nature of the song done this way. It occurred to me that some may feel that there is a song that they love, but they don’t have the resources to accomplish it; the orchestrations, the production equipment, or what have you. This piece was done (and beautifully done) with full band, choir, orchestra, and praise team behind it. Here it is done with one servant strumming a guitar, singing a reminder of God’s grace.
I am one that can put man-made restrictions on my praise sometimes. Praise God! He does not put such restrictions on how we praise Him.
This is not happening. I feel like this cannot be happening, but it is! I am sending my daughter off to school. Not mother’s day out. Not a two day a week day care….SCHOOL! What is happening!?
We found a great, Christian school in Queens and were blessed enough to find a way to get her in at the last minute! She was so excited that “going to school” became the go-to bribe for the whole week before she went. I would say, “Now Joz, you need to obey Mommy like a big girl. Big girls get to go to school, but babies stay home with Mommy all day.” Like I was actually going to consider not taking her to school! lol.
She picked out her outfit and I bought her a new jacket. Kenny was even unwittingly excited…not realizing she was going to be without her best friend during the day now. My big girl smiled the whole morning even though we had to wake her up earlier than practically she’d ever been woken. New York is amazing, but since we moved here during the summer, it’s been hard to for her to find friends. And Jozzy is a social girl, so no kids around is a bit of a problem for her. I knew school would solve a lot of her loneliness and have been so excited to see her little eyes light up like this!
I am so going to miss having her infectious energy with me all day, but am so excited to see how she blossoms in this new environment! I just hope the teacher can contain her! lol
Jordan was coming in town today and I could not wait to see him. I had tried to lose a couple more pounds before he got here and felt pretty good. Normally, I am a ball of nerves when I know I’m about to see him. Okay, I was still a ball of nerves, but at least this time I was a slightly smaller ball. I had lost 23 pounds so far and I felt great. I managed to lose weight but keep some curves…best of both worlds! I just knew that Jordan would notice and be impressed. I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to notice my body. Usually, I wanted him to like me in spite of what he had to look at, but this time I was hoping he would actually like what he saw. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like hiding when he looked at me now.
Momma Sue, Jaime and I met Jordan and his mom at a barbecue restaurant called “Sonnys” when they got into town. Well, at least it wouldn’t tempt me. I hated that place…not that it mattered anyway. It was one of those restaurants where they smother everything in sauce and gravy and the proportions are huge and you sit in benches instead of chairs. It wasn’t my favorite, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t wait to see him.
We got inside and saw that they hadn’t gotten there yet, so we took a seat, or bench, and waited. Momma Sue could see my excitement, “ Baby, you better calm down or you’re gonna fly right off that seat.” She said with a grin. I chuckled as the waitress approached.
“ Welcome to Sonny’s. Can I start you off with some drinks today?”
“ Diet Coke for me please and I think for these girls too.” She said and motioned to Jaime and Chelsea.
“And for you?”
“ Uh a Dr. Pepper for me please.” Food was not a problem but don’t ask me to give up my soda. I had never been able to kick that one.
The waitress walked away and Susie said, “Sandy texted saying she was almost there a few minutes ago. I don’t know how we beat her.”
“ Cause you drive like a crazy woman!” Jordan said as he made his way toward the table.
“ I do not. Ya’ll are just slow!”
“ I just drove the speed limit.” Sandy said as she headed toward her seat next to her sister.
Jordan came and sat at the empty seat next to me and wrapped his arms around me to give me a hug.
“Hi” I said with a huge smile on my face.
“ How are you?” he said but didn’t let go of me.
“ I’m good. Glad you’re here.”
“Me too.” he said as we sat back up. “Hey ‘Jame’, Chels! How are ya’ll?” He said as he bonked them on the forehead like a big brother.
“Oww” they both said as they half laughed.
I was so glad he was finally here. I had missed him. He grabbed my hand under the table and squeezed it and left it there on my leg.
We all caught up on life and what was going on. This family was hysterical. Half the time they were making fun of each other and the other half they were singing each others praises..sometimes literally. They were a singing family. Jordan tried to fight it sometimes. He wanted to be the jock, but he couldn’t run away from his gift. He was by far the best vocalist in the family and most everybody knew it, but he wanted to do his own thing and so did sports. It didn’t take long for the football team to require that he miss church to be a part of the team, so he dropped out. Only then did he really give singing some of his attention, but as soon as he did, he was winning competitions and being used everywhere…boy could sing.
The waitress came and dropped everyones plates in front of them to start eating. I didn’t really know what to do. I ordered food…because I HAD to order food, but now what do I do? I couldn’t NOT eat it. They would notice that immediately. I decided that I would cut it up into tiny pieces and move it around on my plate to make it look like I had made a dent in the meal. There was turkey, mashed potatoes, collard greens and this huge piece of toast. Perfect! I would hide some food under the bread and in the mashed potatoes to make it look like I had eaten more. Throughout the meal, I would find a time when Jordan’s attention wasn’t on me and slide some food under the toast. I pushed some bigger pieces off into my napkin as well. I was laughing and talking with him, when Jaime asked him a question. He turned his face to her and I slid a big piece of turkey into my napkin beside my plate, but I hadn’t quite gotten it all the way off my plate before Jordan turned around to face me again.
“What are you doing?” he kind of laughed as he asked me.
“ Oh that piece had a lot of fat in it and it kind of grossed me out. Not sure I really want to eat any more.” I said trying to sound convincing. He kept his smile on his face but kind of looked at my plate funny.
“ Are you not hungry?”
“ No. Not really. I had a big breakfast.” I lied. Ugh. I hated that I lied to him. I didn’t want to lie to him. I just didn’t want him to know this. It wasn’t a big deal. This wasn’t going to be a long term thing or anything.
We finished lunch and headed out. I couldn’t stay and hang out today, so I had to say goodbye to Jordan for a while. I was kind of ok with it though. I felt a little guilty about lying to him and needed a little distance to qualm my guilty conscience.
“I’ll talk to you tonight.” I said as I wrapped my arms around him before Momma Sue was going to drop me off at my house.
“ I’ll call ya later.” I knew he knew. Crap.
I was originally going to title this post What your worship pastor really wants you to know, but I am not a worship pastor, don’t speak for all worship pastors. I am married to a worship pastor, but I don’t even pretend to speak for him. So this is just the passions of a woman who loves to worship God and is heartbroken when people misunderstand what worship is for what we can more easily understand.
If you ever engage Jordan or me in conversation for more than about 10 minutes, our faith is probably going to come up. It’s just something that drives us and has become entwined with our DNA. We see this as nothing but a positive thing. It helps us have compassion, generosity, love, humility, grace, and patience… all of these attributes are not ones that come completely naturally to me, for sure. And don’t get me wrong…. we are far from perfecting these actions, but we are working on it.
One thing that has helped me is to stay intellectually motivated by a good library of books. I am proud (and shocked) to say that I have recently (very recently) become a lover of books! Why this love did not develop in high school I will never know! It would have been very helpful in getting through Oscar Wilde. I love authors like Francine Rivers, Gail McWilliams, Tim Keller, and, of course, Josh McDowell. Recently, we’ve been absolutely obsessed with a book by Zachary Neese out of Gateway called HOW TO WORSHIP A KING
We took our last team through this book, and the kind of discussion that was brought out due to its content was humbling. It’s provocative and unafraid. It dares to ask questions of our thought processes and traditions. It challenges you on what you think of when you hear the word “worship”. What worship is and isn’t. Is there danger in defining it? Is there danger in NOT defining it? Why do people care so deeply about it in our churches?
“Worship” is a very controversial concept. Whenever change is considered to the “worship”, people get very upset. Why? Why is it that the worship seems to cause so much conflict within the walls of the church? But what is meant by “changes to the worship”? Most of the time, it’s referencing changes to the music style or atmosphere. We have all heard “worship is a lifestyle”, but is that true? And what does it even mean? If it means, it’s anything we do with pure hearts in motives… is that biblical worship? Or something else?
Though, I know well intentioned, I hate this catchphrase. It does nothing to further our understanding of worship. It was intended to encourage believers to live a life focused on God, but what it’s become is to believe that everything you do FOR God is worship. And that is just not true…biblically. We can do a lot of great things for God. We can praise, we can serve, we can teach, we can pray, but there is an actual definition of “worship” and, I would say, that actual “worship” is something that makes a lot of believers incredibly uncomfortable and so not done often.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… leave a comment.
Here are a couple things that have really stood out to me when speaking with worship pastors:
- We want you to engage!– I know this one seems obvious, but I’ve come across some people who, I swear, seem as though worship pastors are trying to be solo artists and don’t want the congregation to be singing with them. Now, I’m sure there are some bad eggs who are in it for the wrong reason, but, trust me, most of them are not in it for the “glory and high pay”. Please don’t go to service with a critical spirit ready to tear apart the heart of the guy/girl who is doing her best to create an atmosphere conducive for the Spirit to move. If it didn’t “work” for you, check your heart before you grab the scalpel to dissect his/hers. It’s not their job to make sure you worship. It’s their job to “carry the arc” (read the book…so good)/usher in the presence.
- It’s not actually for you. – You’ve heard this before, but really let this sink in. This guy has considered you, has thought about how best to prepare the atmosphere with music as David did that will calm your spirit, so God can battle as little distractions as possible. But at the end of the day, corporate worship is not about or for you. The phrase “I really liked” or “hated the worship today” makes no sense. We all know what is meant, but the theology of it is flawed. You may think this is just semantics, but words matter. Words are how we carry thought and teaching to other people, namely younger believers. Words are important. Once you define “worship”, that phrase literally doesn’t make grammatical sense nor is it possible for someone else to affect your worship.
- Worship is not music. – I feel like someone is going to get mad at this one, but it must be said. I love music. I have sung since before I could speak. Music has always been part of my life and part of my worship, but it is not synonymous with it. I feel like this got really confused during the 90’s (maybe before but this is where my life experience has showcased it). It was with an absolutely fantastic heart that people went from calling the guy that led music in church the “music director/pastor” to the “worship pastor”. Why? Because that guy’s responsibilities shouldn’t be to just wave their hand and conduct a song but to usher in the presence of a Holy God. What he was doing held more spiritual authority than just music…it was worship. The only problem is, the only thing this guy was over was the music, so we taught the church that music and worship are the same things. They are not.
Worship in scripture was a physical posturing before a Holy God. It actually meant “to bow”. (To learn all the usages and meaning, please read the book…can not recommend it enough) Now, before someone says that that does not mean that you cannot worship in music, let me say…of course you can. But it is by no means synonymous with the word. When you can understand that your worship is not affected by the music because you can reflect on God’s character and nature no matter if there is a rock band or an organ playing, then we can stop the battle happening on both sides of the proverbial aisle. Everybody has a preference of music. My husband is trained in opera and sang in a metal band. He would sooner put on some band I refuse to name because I don’t like it enough to remember the name than my Broadway stuff. That’s just a preference of style. There can be no music at all and we can reflect on how holy God is. If you CANNOT WORSHIP due to the style played…that is a reflection of your heart, not the “worship”. No leader can affect your response to God…it is solely your choice to worship Him or not.
My husband was encouraged to write a philosophy of worship in college. We’ve spent many times in the car (when we had one) talking about it. I’m sure it will be ever changing but here’s what God has brought me to today:
I think when we are in a space to understand the awesomeness of God, we will have no choice but to fall on our face in worship.
If you are someone who has ever been frustrated at the music or the leader or been that leader, I seriously encourage you to read the book.
The first year of high school was great. Still awkward at times, but overall great. Or maybe I was just on a high because Jordan told me that he and some of his friends were coming to Ft. Myers for spring break; which meant basically even if I had been thrown aside as the high school equivalent of a societal leper, this was a fantastic first year! I was so excited! Jordan and I had talked on the phone a lot this year but we hadn’t actually spent very much time together before and they were going to be here for a whole week! I started sweating. I’m fairly certain I’m going to make an absolute fool of myself at some point. What if I say something stupid? What if I get a pimple? What if I do something clumsy like fall in my heels? Maybe I should just wear flats. No, I look fatter in flats! I’ll just practice until he gets here. Please don’t be your usual idiot self that week!
Mom had cleaned the house to the point of exhaustion. She was always like that. She would clean the house before a maid came in to clean the house. If anyone, and I mean anyone, was planning on coming over, they may as well have been the Queen of England the way my mom would fuss. Of course, by the time they actually arrived, mom would be able to entertain them for whatever period of time and then was basically down with a migraine or seizure for a few days afterwards, so the house got to be a mess while she was down. Then she would get up when she felt better and run rampant to clean it again…to the point of exhaustion. And so the cycle went.
But the house looked great before everybody got there. As much as mom fussed over the house, I matched her nerve by anxious nerve over myself. I tried to stay calm and say, “Kayla, just be yourself. Its not worth it if he doesn’t like you for you.” But let’s be real, I didn’t like me for me, so I wasn’t going to expect him to. Nope, that would not be good enough. I’d have to make sure I didn’t eat too much this week. Maybe I could get a few pounds off before he got here. The house was going to look great and I would do my best to look great too.
Jordan rolled into town with his buddies Robby, Ian and Matt. His friends were hysterical. Robby was a tall, skinny guy with spiky blonde hair and glasses. He was smart and sarcastic; the kind of humor that I was deathly afraid of. He would often make people the subject of his jokes and I was terrified that I would become the butt of his rhetoric all week. He never meant to be mean and he rarely was, but still. This was a big week and I did not want to become the center of negative attention in front of Jordan. Ian was a shorter kind of geeky looking kid. He was equally sarcastic, though no one could match Robby in that category. He wore khakis and a plaid button up shirt tucked into his pants. He seemed a bit of an odd man out in this group of guys. Ian and Jordan had shared a love of music. They both sang and played instruments. Ian and Jordan were in a heavy metal band called Negative Zero. He was a pretty amazing drummer. To look at Ian, you would have no idea how he fit in that environment, but kid could play. Matt was a bigger guy. He wasn’t fat. He was broad shouldered and seemed much larger than he was when he stood next to Robby. He could contort his face where it closed like a crater or a sink hole or something. The guys would say “shut your face” and he would shut his eyes tight, and somehow scrunch his face where his features were basically unrecognizable… a rare and weird talent. But that was this group. They were completely unique from each other, but to see them hang out, it was obvious that they felt completely comfortable around each other. Was that unique to these guys or are guys just completely different than girls?
That week was awesome. We spent the days doing random stuff around town and then at night, we would normally hang out at my house. The boys called it “the castle”. Our house was slightly larger than the homes they were from, so that became a bit of a joke throughout the week. There was a large open landing upstairs that overlooked the living room and kitchen that led to my and Heather’s room. The boys called the part of the house that my sister and I shared “the west wing”. Robby would go up to the landing outside of our rooms and make a fake “royal speech” while waving his hand like a really overdramatic beauty contestant.
We had a music room over the garage that my parents had built when we moved in. It was just a large room with a drum set, some recording equipment and a full wall of mirrors for dancing. My parents were awesome about supporting our passions, so they built it so we could spend time doing the things we loved. I spent most afternoons up in that room just wailing my little lungs out. The group made its way up there one night and we were all hanging out being goofballs. It was me, Jordan, Jaime, Schusty, Robbie, Ian, Matt, Alan, Brycie (Jaime’s other best friend), and Merri Beth. After a while Schusty picked up the guitar and started strumming clumsily. She had just started taking guitar lessons and hadn’t learned but probably 5 chords, but that didn’t stop her from snatching the thing up and going to town on it like she was Mick Jagger. I envied her self confidence. Jordan’s brother, Kyle, was about to get married in a couple of months, so Kayla felt inspired to write a song in dedication to our soon to be bedded friend. It was simply entitled “The Sex Song”. She strummed rhythmically on the guitar while seamlessly creating rhymes for Kyle and his soon to be bride. She was hysterical and everyone was laughing at her witty creation. If you picture in your head Phoebe playing her song after Chandler and Monica tell her she can’t play at their wedding, you’ll have a good mental picture of the tone of this performance. After she was finished, she took a bow and left her spot at the center of the room for an empty chair on the back wall.
The “stage” was not empty for long as Ian stepped up and grabbed the guitar Schusty had left and sat in the spotlight.
“I’d like to dedicate this song to all of the pagans out there! To those men whose hair hangs below their ears and women whose skirts hit above their knees.” He strummed on one single chord as if trying to build suspense. “ I would just like to say that the Lord loves you, but I have to say… YOU’RE GOING TO HELL. YOU’RE GOING TO HELL. YOU’RE GOING TO HEEEEEEEELLLLLL.” Everyone bellied over in laughter since he was, obviously, joking as he screeched on a ridiculously high note. He finished his song and I could barely see through the water that had built up in my eyes..
“I just thought I’d give you all a little melodic theology lesson today. You’re welcome.”
Everybody was cracking jokes and having a good time but it was getting late. Merri Beth and Brycie went home, but Schusty and Jaime were spending the night. The guys were going to stay the night too. They would sleep downstairs on couches and pallets with us girls up in “the west wing”. My dad seemed ok with that as long as there was a flight of stairs and about 2,000 square feet separating us.
The girls all headed upstairs and the guys settled in for the night. Jordan and I stayed back and lingered to talk to each other for a bit.
“You think you’re dad would be ok if I walked you upstairs to your door?” he asked.
“Well Schusty and Jaime are up there too, so I’m sure it’s fine.”
We walked up the stairs and across the landing and stood in front of the door that took us to the hallway where our rooms were. He held my hand and we talked for a bit. Wait. What was happening? Is it just me or is he setting up for something? Is he going to kiss me tonight??!! Oh my stars. This is it. My first kiss. And not just my first kiss but my first kiss with Jordan. I genuinely had no idea this was going to happen this week. Ok, relax, Kayla. This is supposed to feel natural and perfect. We stood talking for a minute. Good gracious he was cute. He had the most adorable dimple on the right side of his face. Well, he had dimples on both sides but the right side was deeper than the left. He had these incredible grey eyes that were slightly lighter around the center. I’m not sure he had ever been this close to me before.
“I had a lot of fun with you today” he said.
“ So did I. Our friends are nuts” we laughed.
“ Yes they are… bunch of crazies.”
“ Well, goodnight.” he said, but he didn’t go away. He lowered his head and kissed me! I couldn’t believe it. Jordan Grizzard, the guy I had been thinking about since before my braces had come off had just pulled me close to him and kissed me right on the lips! What in the world? It was perfect. I mean, it was quick and a little awkward, but perfect.
I smiled as he pulled away from me, “goodnight”. And with that he went downstairs as I tried to regain my composure. I only had about 10 steps worth of distance to my bedroom where Jaime and Schusty were and I couldn’t look like I was still on cloud nine. I should play this cool. Who am I kidding? I’m not cool! I’m ecstatic!
I collected myself as best I could and walked to my room. I just could not wipe this dopey grin from my face. I opened the door and walked in to see Schusty pulling her night clothes out of her bag and Jaime getting tucked under the covers of her pallet.
“Oh heeeeey,” said Jaime with a toying tone.
“Hello” I said basically singing.
“ I still cannot believe he hasn’t kissed you yet” Schusty snapped.
My mouth curled up even more, “Who says he hasn’t?” I said coyly.
Schusty and Jaime’s heads whirled around and looked at me dumbfounded. They were’t silent for long. They let out the loudest squeal I think I had ever heard come out of their mouths.
“SSSSHHHHH! You guys are killing me!” Well I guess playing it cool is a lost cause. Fairly certain the neighbors down the street heard that, so the boys downstairs were pretty much a guarantee. Oh who cares?! Jordan kissed me!
To say that we went out to eat after church every now and then, would be a gross understatement. I’m fairly certain the people at CHILIS off of College Blvd. would be out of a job if not for our business. We probably could’ve invited them to Christmas dinner and not felt awkward about it. We saw them a lot.
So, when Jaime leaned over to me during my dad’s sermon on Sunday and whispered, “Want to go to CHILIS for lunch?”, I, of course, answered with “Yeah girl.” We wrapped up service, gave an abundance of hugs, and jumped in the car to go to lunch. It was the usual gang. Me, Jaime, Momma Sue, and anybody else that wanted to jump in. This group had always felt like family, but now, more than ever. I mean, after all, Jordan and I were basically a for sure “item” now. So this crew was my boyfriends family! Even though, we hadn’t actually talked yet. I was sure it was just a matter of time to solidify the details. I wonder if he’d thought about our first date yet. I wonder if he’d planned how he would ask me for our first date. I wonder if he had thought about what we would talk about on our first date. I’ll bet he had it all thoughtfully and carefully crafted to a perfect experience!
We talked like normal that night. I was less in a state of euphoria over the thought of Jordan and more just peaceful about the thought of him. Thinking about him used to make me feel anxious and self-conscience. Now? I just felt confident and calm. I liked this feeling.
After dinner, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and Jaime said she needed to go too (after all, girls go in packs right?). So, we headed off to the bathroom. After we finished “our business”, we were at the sink washing our hands when Jaime got kind of awkward.
“Hey, so I need to tell you something,” she said, still looking at the water basin.
“ Ok,” I said weirdly. “ What’s up?”
“ I know Momma Sue told you a couple weeks ago that Jordan had noticed you…”
“ He didn’t?” I said, anticipating the worst possible news.
“ No! He did! He said he thought you were cute and all, but…” she paused for an INCREDIBLY long time, “ he’s actually talking to their pastor’s daughter up there now.”
WHAT??! Why?? How was this possible? I literally spent years thinking about this guy and I find out he’s interested in me only to hear he’s no longer interested in me before I even get to talk to him??! WHAT THE HECK?! This was so not fair. Remember when I said I was anticipating the worst possible news…. I was wrong. This sucked.
“Oh, Ok. That’s no big deal. I was kind of getting over him when Momma Sue said that anyway, so now I’ll be able to actually get over him for sure.” I lied. “ You ready?” I said, trying to escape that room as soon as possible. I dried my hands and bolted back to the table.
Praise God, we were all basically done and would be going home soon. I excused myself from the table and decided to go outside until everyone else was ready to go. I sat on the bench outside the front door to the restaurant and just sat. I didn’t cry. I didn’t even think much. I just sat. Completely silent and completely still. And then all of those emotions came back—anxious, nervous, self-conscience, and doubt. My old friends were once again plastered back into the wall I built around myself. And it was definitely time to refortify my fortress. He didn’t even get to know me, but he saw enough to know he didn’t want to see any more.
I’m in Algebra class right now. Anyways, how about I get to what I’m meaning to talk to you about, but first I want you to know that as my friend (my best friend) you are sworn to secrecy! Jaime, I lied to you. When you told me about Jordan and Ashley… I still like Jordan as much as I ever have. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to explain everything. Why I lied, how I feel, and what I am going to do. The latter is probably the most difficult because I don’t know what I am going to do! I’m sorry I lied to you, but I was surprised. I mean, I expected it just not right now, which was dumb because everything was going so good; what with CINDERELLA and my mom feeling good and Jordan. I should have expected something to go wrong but Jordan? That one hurt. I haven’t been talking about him lately because you had said when I do it got annoying and people said that was all I ever talked about, so I shut up!
I didn’t think he’d give me up so soon! I’m not mad at him Jaime. Maybe one of the few true things I said was that I was happy for him and that it was time to move on. It’s just been really hard for me to let everyone know who I like. I’m not an emotional person. Well – better wording- I’m not a person who likes to have their emotions known. It’s not comfortable to me. I’m always scared I’ll get hurt! I guess I’m a good actress last night was the first time I’ve truly been able to lie to you. I let my guard down when I got home. Mom knew something was up. I told her last night and she just let me cry. I don’t want my dad or brother to know because my dad won’t be sympathetic and my bro will just be mad at him! Don’t tell anyone. If anyone found out…well, just don’t say anything, ok?
You know what I’m gonna miss though? Sometimes he just “hit me.” Not physically, of course, but you know how sometimes things will just “hit you”? Like when you think about eternity. Sometimes it just rolls off of your tongue so easily, but other times it’s like God allows you to have a glimpse of understanding as of to how long eternity is? It’ll just hit you? Well, sometimes Jordan would just “hit me”. I remember how I used to feel, knowing that FINALLY, Jordan had noticed me. After two years! Now, I’m so insecure. I always feel like someone’s making fun of me.
I will continue playing my role as the one who doesn’t care. Because I think that we are friends and should stay friends. It’ll take time, but I will get over it. I need someone I can talk to, but you can’t tell anyone..especially Momma Sue, ok? I don’t want anything getting back to Jordan.
Jaime and I had gotten really close. I actually spent a pretty equal amount of nights at her house during the week as I had my own. One afternoon, I was in the car with Momma Sue, and I just about broke down.
“This is so stupid. I have been obsessed with the same boy for like 2 years and he doesn’t even know I exist.”
“That’s not true.” Momma Sue tried to console me.
“ No, you’re right. He knows that I’m his cousin’s dorky best friend.” I was in tears not even trying to stop them at this point. “ He doesn’t see me as anything else.”
“ I don’t know about that.” Momma Sue said with a tone that I could not ignore.
“ What do you mean?” I said. My tears stopped flowing while I waited for an answer.
“ I’m just saying I don’t think you should give up so soon.”
“ So soon?? Momma Sue, it’s been 2 and a half years of a 14-year-old liking the same guy that I don’t even see but maybe 4 times a year. I think it’s getting a little pathetic at this point.”
“ I just think he may have noticed you more than you think is all,” she said with that same tone.
“ Why do you think that?”
She gave an innocent, albeit completely unbelievable face.
“ Momma Sue, what do you know?” I asked
“ Well, he may have told us that he may have noticed you and thought you were cute.”
“ He said I was cute??!”
“ Well I think my actual question was ‘Hey, what do you think about Kayla Powell?’ and he said something like, ‘ I mean she’s kind of cool. I could be interested.’.”
“ So you told him I was interested??!”
“ No. I just asked if he would be interested.”
“ and he said yes?” I squealed a little bit. This was not happening. This had been two and a half years in the making. Now granted, I had it planned where he would tell me to my face or down on one knee, or riding on a white stallion while declaring his love for me, but through his mom’s twin sister with a half-hearted declaration of interest would do for now!! This was awesome!
I was so excited to be going with my youth group to Rock the Universe this year. It was going to be awesome. Plus One was going to be there (minus one guy, so “minus one”?), Rachel Lampa would be there and so many other cool bands. Jaime, me and our other friend, Merri Beth, were going to have so much fun! The best part? Jordan’s youth group was going to be there too! We boarded the bus and I just knew that he would finally see me as more than Jaime’s friend this time!
After the few hours it took us to get to Orlando, we hopped off the bus and gathered our normal group that we hung out with: me, Jaime, Merri Beth, Steve, Schusty, and our friend, Bob. Bob was a sweet kind of bigger guy that had started hanging around us. We didn’t mind. He was kind and really needed “a group”, so we said C’MON! We started making our way around Universal trying to figure out when all the bands were playing… well, that’s what everyone else was doing. I was distracted by every dark haired, good looking guy I saw. I kept trying to see if I could find Jordan anywhere. We stopped by a few rides and a couple bands. We had a blast and then, suddenly, it happened! There he was surrounded by a group of his friends! Out of the whole park, we literally just ran into him! Thank you, Lord!. He was there with his friends from church doing the same things we were. Maybe he’d been looking for me too. Jaime was the first to walk over and say hey and grab a hug from Jordan and his friends. I’m sure I gave an incredibly awkward “uh hey man” or something stupid like offer a handshake or something. We all knew each other or knew of each other from all the visits to and from Orlando and Ft Myers over the years. Well, except for Bob, so we introduced Bob to Jordan and his friends and then it was decided that we should all stay together for a while. A decision that I was absolutely fine with.
We didn’t see any bands that we wanted to see playing anytime soon, so we decided to hop on some rides until the evening concerts started up. I knew that this could be a perfect opportunity to get close to Jordan. Most of these rides are two-seaters; where the two have to sit pretty snugly in a little car together… perfect. We made our way to the first ride and I just couldn’t muster the courage to weasel my way beside Jordan. I decided I would play hard to get for this first one…you know, make him want me. The next ride I decided to make my move but couldn’t get next to him in line, and when you file in the cars single file, you have to be next to each other from the very start…lesson learned. The group decided to go to JAWS next. Dangit! This isn’t even a two person car ride. It’s a ride where you sit in benches. You can fit about 5 people in each row! I decided it would have to do because I was not going to fail again! You know what? Maybe this would work out even better? Sometimes people overestimate how many people can fit in a single row and you end up super squished in those little benches; everyone sitting basically in each other’s laps! This could be perfect. I just had to make sure to jump in line right in front of or behind him as soon as the line starts!!
We walked toward the pavilion and finally, God was on my side because I am in perfect position. And not even behind him. Somehow I managed to get directly in front of him so he could never suspect that I had been carefully planning my position. From the optics, it’s more likely that he was trying to get beside me! Who knows? Maybe he was! The line was surprisingly short as we walked through the ropes maze to get to the boat. This was awesome. I had timed it perfectly… not only would I sit by Jordan, but I got an aisle seat… BONUS! It was only then that I realized I hadn’t planned anything to say! What do I say? Do I try to be funny or sweet? Do I want to say something sexy or comment on how uncomfortable the seat is? Or should I not say anything at all and play the mysterious one? Why hadn’t I used those last two failed attempts to plan the perfect opening line? I got it. I would just sit and let him make the first comment. It’s simplistic and perfect. After all, I don’t want it to seem like this was part of an overly, kind of creepily thought out scheme, so we’ll just play it casual…just a smile as he sits would be perfect.
I slid into the seat as gracefully as possible. Trying to sit up tall and suck my stomach in as much as I could. I slid all the way down the bench and prepared to take my aisle seat. As soon as I made it all the way to the end, I turned with my best coy smile to see…. Bob??? What was Bob doing in the middle of my carefully crafted blocking? How did this happen? How did he get in between me and my plan? When did this happen? I was just next to Jordan not 90 seconds earlier! What changed in 90 seconds that kept me from getting my perfect moment with Jordan?? Grr. I was fuming. And on top of that, Bob kept wanting to be all chatty and all I wanted to do was throw him overboard and feed him to Jaws!
Jaime could tell I was upset, but couldn’t contain her giggles as she saw the whole ordeal happen. I walked over to her
“Jordan just let Bob in front of him.” she said giggling.
“ ugh… For all the time to be gracious. I’d be so mad at him if he weren’t even cuter for being kind!” I was equally annoyed with Jordan for being obviously oblivious as I was myself for being attracted to his kindness in spite of my foiled attempt to get close to him!
We headed over to hear one of the bands the guys wanted to see toward the front of the park when we ran into my older brother with some of his friends. Everybody from each group made teen introductions… head nods and “cool guy waves”, and then I introduced Jordan.
“This is Jaime’s cousin, Jordan and his friends” and went through all the guys that I knew. “This is my brother, Alan.”
They all said hey and Alan got a little smirk on his face.
“So your Jaime’s cousin. Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about you from…Jaime.”
I could sense Alan’s temptation to embarrass me. I swear, there have been a lot of instances in my life when I felt a compulsion to strangle my brother and this one is absolutely on the top of the list.
“Yeah, it’s nice to meet you man, ” Alan said, still sporting that smirk.
After some casual conversation, my brother pulled me aside.
“ So that’s the guy you like huh?”
“ I don’t know. Maybe. I’m not sure I LIKE him, but he’s kind of cool, I guess.” I was not very good at playing it cool.
“I don’t know, K. I just feel like you could do better.”
“Better? What do you mean? You just met him.”
“ I don’t know”
“ If you knew him, you wouldn’t say that, trust me. He’s a good guy, bro.”
The groups parted ways to listen to some good music.
It was getting pretty late and it was almost time to go. We just realized we hadn’t taken any photos! People started posing with friends and snapping their memories. Jaime, Jordan, and Adam got together, ready to take a photo. Jaime motioned to me, but I quickly volunteered to take the photo for the trio. I wished I had the courage to jump in a photo with Jordan, but he had a perfectly good opportunity to be next to me at JAWS and not only didn’t take advantage of but willingly and unnecessarily gave it away. Clearly, he was not into me and I wasn’t sure this was a night I would want to snap a photo of… not to mention I chickened out. We finished pictures, said goodnight and got back on the bus… what a bust.