I think every family probably has at least one...somebody whose personality is big enough to fill any room. A nut. A wild and crazy guy! Someone who will lick habanero sauce off a tortilla chip just for laughs. A master of sarcasm. A practical jokester. A pitcher of catch-phrases. A complete free spirit.
We have, like, 14 in our family...but Kayla is in a class by herself!
You can even see it in her baby pictures! Look at those eyes! You can tell this picture was taken right after she made a prank call...and she couldn't even talk yet!
And just because I couldn't resist it, I'm throwing in a baby Kayla two-fer, with a Lyndsay bonus!
This is probably about the age they were when they lived a story that Jim shared with me on our first date. Apparently Lyndsay, in true big sister fashion, had ordered Kayla to go fetch her her shoes. Dutifully, Kayla brought them...then threw them at Lyndsay and said, "There you go, Your Highness!" Is it any wonder she grew up to be the queen of the sarcastic come-back?
And another thing: Kayla loves to GO! Always has! You need to get a gallon of milk? Kayla's gonna be riding along! Visiting your tax accountant? Couldn't keep Kayla away! Babysitting the brattiest brats in town? She's ready to be your trusty assistant! And wherever she goes with you, she will want to try and make sure you are having more fun than anyone else there.
The year Krystal got her driver's license and Kayla was thirteen, the two of them were on a first-name basis with every grocery store clerk, McDonalds drive-through window operator, and gas station attendant in town! Kayla is a people person to a mind-blowing extreme, and you can NOT confine that kind of thing to the four walls of a house! You've gotta take it on the road!
If Kayla's around, some sort of hilarity will ensue. But that doesn't mean she hasn't been used to teach me some important spiritual truths...because the fact of the matter is that God has used her to show me two of the biggies.
And I do have her permission to share her story.
When Kayla first asked to live with us, she was getting ready to start seventh grade. We were living in Minnesota at the time, where Jim was the news director for a Christian radio station, and where we were very actively involved with our church and our homeschool co-op. Krystal had gone through a rough patch in her early teens, but had come through it with a lot of prayer and a lot of help from our wonderful youth pastor...so when Kayla moved in, Krystal was ready to be a mentor to her. And Kayla just bloomed spiritually! From time to time, I will still run into prayer journals she wrote during those precious years, and I'm just amazed by the depth of her Christ-centered thought processes.
Case in point: One year, Krystal and Kayla desperately wanted to attend Cornerstone, which is a BIG Christian music festival held nearby. But alas, their parents were poor, and we just didn't have extra money to buy them both tickets. No matter! They started to pray for the money to go, and God opened up opportunities for the two of them to make money...and one day they realized that they had all the money they needed!
Then they both went into the bathroom together.
Well, we only had one bathroom then, so it wasn't all that unusual to see the two of them go in there at the same time. Weird...but not unusual. However, I couldn't help but notice that the timing was interesting. So I knocked. And when they opened the door, they looked at me like I should know I was interrupting something important! It turns out they had been using our tiny, periwinkle blue bathroom as their own personal prayer closet...so when they discovered that God had supplied the money they had requested, they had to go worship Him with praise and thanksgiving!
I will NEVER forget that moment.
Sadly, though, I ended up learning a painful but invaluable truth from Kayla: It is a grave error to underestimate satan's desire to destroy us, and I must never allow myself to believe that I am above falling victim to him.
I won't deny for a moment that I enjoy dabbling in hyperbole...and that I can hardly stand to share a serious story without lightening it up with a side-salad of attempted humor. But there was nothing funny about the way that the father of lies caught hold of our #3 daughter and threatened to never let her go. She turned into someone we didn't know at all anymore...and we would go months without so much as a phone call from her. Most of the time, we didn't have any idea where she was...only that she had been swept into a lifestyle of sin that would have liked to have drowned her.
Many times, when I would complain to my mom about the challenges of raising teenagers--a challenge with which she was all too well-acquainted--she would remind me that hideous teenagers have a way of becoming really wonderful adults if they live that long. She always means it as a double comfort: It's a reminder that she has forgiven me for having been hideous myself...and an assurance that this too shall pass. Only, with Kayla, we were honestly horrified that she might not live to come out on the other side of it. The situations into which she was putting herself were that serious...that dangerous. It was a dark, dark time.
And if a young Christian woman who had showed so much promise could fall to such a depth, none of us can afford to ever be less than diligently on our guard.
But the flip side of that hard lesson is a wonderful lesson: No one is beyond the redemptive power of God! No one!
There was a time, heart-breaking as it is for a mom to admit it, that we looked at Kayla and started to despair that we would ever have her back the way she had been before. The situation was just that grim. But we prayed...and we prayed...and s-l-o-w-l-y we were able to see a gradual mending in our relationship with her. For a long time, it seemed like she would take one step forward only to take two steps back...but God is so faithful.
We have our Kayla back now, and she is such a joy to us! And because of her, I can't dismiss anyone as being beyond hope. God knew she wasn't beyond His reach. No one is.
Kayla, Jayla, and Ryan at their wedding last August.
Happy and beautiful!
Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.
Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully
until she finds it?
And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together
and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin."
In the same way, I tell you,
there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.