In eighth grade study hall Miss Kerns asked me to tutor Mike Jones in math.
I was a straight-A student…quiet and well-behaved. Mike Jones was…not.
He wore his leather jacket all day, unapologetically, and his rough language and tough talk made for no mistaking his background. But he was nice enough, even kind of cute with his streaky blonde hair in stark contrast to the black leather he wore. He was like something straight out of West Side Story.
We got along ok. And he was pretty smart, so my efforts were rewarded. We went along several weeks just fine. Then one day Mike said something about a bar he went to. He was in eighth grade, mind you. Maybe he went with his parents. Maybe he was lying. I don’t know. I must have felt safe with him, though, because for whatever reason, I said something I would regret. Something honest. Something no one at school knew.
My dad goes there, I said.
Who’s your dad? He asked.
When I told him, I knew he wasn’t lying about the bar. The way he looked at me changed.
Laura, he said. Your dad is a lush!
And then he went to the other side of the room and sat down.
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.
I remember that Darren Oldaker was sitting in the seat in front of me. He looked at me and shook his head.
What? I asked.
I can’t believe he just said that to you, he said. He shouldn’t have said that.
His kindness made me want to cry, but I just bucked up.
Well, it’s true, I said. But I love my dad anyway.
I love my dad, y’all. Sure, it’s complicated. But I love him. Just as the choices I make in life affect my children, some of the choices my dad made rubbed up against me as a girl—shaping me into the person I am today.
My dad just happens to be an alcoholic.
I don’t think I need to tell you that this can complicate things for a family. Life was not exactly predictable for us.
After years of struggling, my parents divorced when I was twelve. The changes my family went through during that time were devastating for me and my siblings.
Difficult as these parts of my formative years were, they bred in me the desire to help other kids who were going through a tough time. This is why I became a psychologist. This is why I started to write. This is why the Wings of Klaio series for teens came to be.
I first heard the word klaio in a Bible study (the correct pronunciation is “klah’-yo”). We were studying Luke 19:41–Jesus weeping upon seeing Jerusalem during his triumphal entry. My Bible study teacher shared that the Greek word for wept in that passage is klaio, which can be translated as to weep, to lament, every outward expression of grief. She went on to say that Jesus’ tears in this passage were not pretty tears. Rather, the word indicates that he was wailing in sorrow, that he was overcome with emotion.
This description made an impression on me. The thought of our Lord expressing such sorrow broke my heart. Later that day, as I was out running, I found myself thinking about the word klaio. When I thought of the depth of grief the word expressed, I felt a strange longing in my heart–a recognition of sorts. It felt like something inside of me had finally been named. I realized that this was the kind of grief I had experienced as a child; klaio, gave word to the emotion I experienced in dealing with my dad’s addiction and when my parents divorced–changing my family forever.
As I ran along, lost in thoughts and memories, suddenly, a little bird alighted on the path in front of me. She seemed to look at me. She seemed to be there for a reason. The thought occurred to me that there is no greater sorrow than the fall of man. And so, the bird Klaio was born.
Klaio was the inspiration for my first book, Brody’s Story—which is about a young girl coping with her parents’ divorce and her father’s alcoholism. Klaio is one of God’s agents–a guardian angel, if you will–who helps Brody through. Now, the second book in the Wings of Klaio series has been released. It’s called Derek’s Story, and it’s about a young boy who is dealing with his parents’ addictions and the disintegration of his family.
When I started writing the Wings of Klaio series, it was my desire that these books might speak to those experiencing difficult times and reassure them of God’s presence in their lives. Both books have Bible study questions at the end.
Will you help me reach the youth of today with this valuable message of God’s presence? I’m giving two people copies of both of my books, Brody’s Story and Derek’s Story. If this is not a ministry you are interested in, won’t you consider donating your copies to your local library? If you would like to buy a copy and then donate it, all the better :).
All you need do to win is leave a comment on this post by this Friday, Sept. 3. If you tweet about the contest, I’ll enter your name twice…just come back here and let me know. Two people will be winners! I’ll announce the winners Saturday morning. Come celebrate the release of Derek’s Story with me!