Ode to Lauren.

Lauren & I at her home in 2006

Today is my dear friend Lauren's birthday.  Lauren is a fellow Jersey girl, but we first met back in '99 when we were both working for Grassroots Music in Houston.  We both soon moved to Nashville and then she returned to the South Jersey area when she got married.  Lauren is a gifted writer, photographer, creative soul, mother, and wife, and I'm thankful to have the opportunity to learn from her.

The last time I saw Lauren was in 2006 when I visited her home on a quiet suburban street in New Jersey just outside Philly.  I still vividly remember the moments we spent together that bright April spring day, sipping strong French press coffee on her screened-in front porch while her toddler daughter Ella played contentedly. 

I had the opportunity to make amends for my failings in our friendship, things that had been weighing heavily on me for years.  Of course, she accepted it graciously, and we started anew. 

When I later wrote about our time together, I said, "Lauren and I also talked a lot about her method of natural mothering, which I would like to model one day."  And I have.  As Lauren shared with me her thoughts on motherhood that day, I felt her words resonate deep in my soul.  It was the first time I had heard of the attachment parenting style and a more natural way of mothering.  What I remember is the respect and love in Lauren's voice as she spoke about parenting her daughter - trusting her gut instincts, seeing her child not as an inconvenience that needed to quickly adjust to her and her husband's world, but as a unique human being who was to be welcomed and celebrated and adjusted to.  Big changes came with motherhood, I could tell, both difficult and wonderful.  Talking with her made me excited about having children one day.  Little did I know how much the Lord would use this conversation in my life, how much I would draw upon it when I actually became a mother four years later.

So this August, I will pack myself and my daughter in my dad's Honda CRV and make the 2-hour-drive to Chester County, PA to be reunited with this sweet friend.  Lauren promises to give me a tour of the Waldorf school where she works and where her daughter attends, which is set on acres and acres of sustainable farmland.  Yes, please.  I'm sure there's also a hot French press and deep mugs of coffee in our near future, and plenty of time to mull over the joys and struggles of this imperfect life as our daughters play together. 

So on her birthday, I can think of no better way to celebrate Lauren than to say, "You have inspired me, my friend. And I love you."