by Pauline Hylton
We stationed ourselves in a cozy corner furnished with a small, round table and companionable chairs with plenty of cushion.
My drink was a steamy, signature hot chocolate from the cappuccino bar of the well-known coffee shop. My college-senior daughter, Sarah, who was home for the weekend, leaned forward, cradling the Iced Passion Tea between her hands. The conversation we shared that day came easily, smattered with comfortable silences.
We wove through such mundane topics as classes, difficult professors and grocery store shopping, but also discussed her new friends and the extreme difficulties that they faced.
Staring sometimes at her drink, sometimes at me, she shared what God was teaching her. She’s going through a refining process. She now lives five hours from her family, her lifelong church and her favorite Starbucks. She is seeing how great and awesome and mighty and all-sufficient God is. Her desire is to be conformed to Christ, and it hurts; but all growth involves pain.
As she continued, another memory surfaced. I thought back to a trip home from church one sunset evening when Sarah was four. She was strapped safely in the front seat, while my infant son was securely fastened in the back car-seat, sleeping. She chatted happily as the setting sun shone on her,
a fragile figure sitting next to me. I observed her tousled, blond-streaked curls and looked into her golden-flecked eyes. Her simple beauty took my breath away.
I then thought of the time when I cried out to God because my little, seven-year-old girl could tell a lie better than a con-man.
“Lord, I know that Sarah is one of your children, and I can’t tell when she’s lying. I know that she has the Holy Spirit living inside of her. Please convict her of deceit!”
The next day, we were in the car alone.
“Mommy, I have something to tell you. I’ve been taking candy from the bag that you keep in the hallway and hiding the wrappers in the trash. I just wanted you to know. I’m sorry.”
I had no idea. I thanked her, thanked the Lord, and moved the candy.
Then there was the day that we chucked our home schooling lessons and went to the beach because Sarah was no longer a child. We strolled along, watching the birds, picking up shells. She asked me some difficult questions.
“Mom, did you ever have sex before you were married?”
We kept walking. A seagull flew by and called out. A pelican glided into the water with an abrupt ending. Our eyes were fixed straight ahead.
“Yes, Sissy, I did. And I regret that. It was a sin, like any other sin, and God has forgiven me.”
The only thing I knew how to do was tell the truth—about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy—and my promiscuousness.
Then Sarah entered the combat zone when we seemed to do battle, constantly. Nothing I did was right. Nothing I said was appropriate.
My parents had moved in with us and shortly after, my father lost one leg and then the other due to diabetes. I picked up the ball with them, but I dropped the ball with my little girl…We lived in the same house, but I wasn’t really there. And she needed me.
God was gracious and sent others along to help, guide and encourage her. He carried me during that time, too; and now, we’re healing. And I like it.
Before my daughter was born, I wasn’t sure if I’d like her. I’d never been around children much and was a complete failure at babysitting. I was pretty sure that I’d love her; but frankly, I was scared. I penned this song, which I later named, “Sarah’s Song.”
Lord I want to thank you for the blessings that you give,
My husband and my family and the county that I live,
But most of all I thank you, Lord for the miracle in me.
How you could take this little seed and give me a family.
All the world around me, Lord, reminds me of your love.
The sea, the fields, the mountains,
And the great big sky above.
And I know that having babies,
Happens every day,
But I praise you for this dear gift,
and I just want to say.
People are always saying that the important things are
That we make a lot of money,
And ourselves we should please.
But Lord, I pray for this dear child, not health, nor looks,
But I pray that she will love you,
more than life itself.
In my womb, there’s this little baby growing,
In my womb, this little child is staying.
Lord it matters not to me, if it is a he or she,
The only thing I want my child to do,
I pray my child, will love You.
It’s been a few weeks since we had coffee together. Sarah’s back to her life in Tallahassee, FL. I’m back to my life five hours away in Clearwater, FL.
Recently, Sarah moved into a new house with a bunch of girls. She called last night to ask me how to make chili since she was having the high school girls over for her ministry. I explained my five-minute chili recipe and how to stretch it for more people.
I smiled as I thought of how God had answered my prayer and had done exceedingly above all that I could ask or think with my daughter, in spite of me. In spite of me dropping the ball. In spite of my past. In fact, we’re almost friends.
God is so faithful.
PAULINE’S FIVE-MINUTE, FULL-PROOF CHILI RECIPE
1-2 pounds ground beef, turkey or pork (whatever you have)
2 packs McCormicks original chili recipe
1 large can tomatoes (diced or whole or 2 small cans)
1 or 2 cans beans (I use whatever beans I have like northern
or garbanzo or black)
Anything else you want to get rid of in your refrigerator
(carrots, onions, cilantro—even squash)
Brown meat, add seasoning, tomatoes, beans and things you
want to get rid of.
If more people show up, add more tomatoes or tomato juice if
you have it. You can make this ahead and put it in your crock pot.
Serve this with a salad and bread, and you’ve got dinner for
a bunch of high schoolers, on a college-kid’s budget!
Pauline Hylton is a freelance writer from Largo, FL, who specializes in humor or whatever else you’ll publish. She loves dark chocolate, her family and the Lord (but not necessarily in that order). For more of Pauline’s writings, visit www.PaulineHylton.com.