Lauren.

I’ve known her since I was four years old and will know her until I die. Many who know us appreciate seeing our friendship because I don’t think you can get two more opposite people who absolutely love the other. I’m trying to think of our similarities…and there aren’t many. We’re both competitive, appreciate sarcasm, are laid back and love to laugh. Other than that there isn’t much.

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Lauren is so dear to me. It isn’t because I’ve known her since I was four, it isn’t because I can get a good laugh out of her. It’s because she is consistent with awesomeness that makes her a woman who I hold in high respect. She is faithful in whatever she does without complaining. Her humility is enchanting, and she is relentlessly patient. She is a woman of honesty, zeal, and one who seeks righteousness.

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We put each other in the other’s place.
I’ll tell her to stop being obnoxious, and she’ll tell me to calm down. I laugh at her when she gets riled up during dodge-ball games, and she’ll tell me to actually play. “Get off your BUTT and PLAY!” She has forced me to touch her animals over the years: ferret, sugar gliders and hamsters… while I encourage her to expand her movie taste.

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Over the years we’ve done a lot together. Because we grew up in the same church, everything was church related. We were in the same Sunday school class until we graduated high school. This means, for 14 years, we spent a morning together every week. Once we reached Jr. High, we spent Sunday morning church and THEN youth group Tuesday nights. We went on mission trips together as well as several, several youth retreats. It’s safe to say that I treat Lauren like I’d treat a sister. Because I grew up so closely with her I always felt like I could treat her however I wanted. I would tease her, poke her, fight with her and even sit on her. She’d do the same. We know each other SO well. Our history runs deep that even though I’ll spend months apart from talking to her, when we meet back up it’s like seeing an old relative again. We continue to pick on the other, laugh , hug, poke…the works.

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Facts:
–When we were in elementary school I got annoyed at how much bible trivia she knew.
–Hanging out at her house after church. It was sometimes difficult to think of stuff to do because I never wanted to explore outside and she never wanted to dress-up or paint nails. She had several animals and I was scared of touching them. We usually resorted to playing games.
–I was always louder than she was in Jr. High and I felt like I was the most talkative person in our small group. I was. Whenever it was “prayer request” time she didn’t like sharing and I was always told to “keep it at a minimum.”

It probably looks like we didn’t like each other for a while. We didn’t. Notice how our pictures together started when we were around 14?

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It wasn’t until High School where we became close. I think that’s rare for girls who have known each other since Kindergarten to JUST start liking the other in high school. We didn’t become close because we started to have more in common. Quite the opposite. I think God started to reveal to each of us separately His love that He had for us and through THAT we started to enjoy the other. HE created the wonderful Lauren and delighted in her so much that He started to give me a taste of that delight…if that makes sense. That might be confusing and I can’t speak for Lauren, but I remember starting to think “SHE’S AWESOME” once I was 14 or so. I started to see just how beautiful her character was. Here was a girl who didn’t conform to society. She never listened to music, watch movies, dress or act like anything she didn’t want to. She excelled in school. In fact, she started going to college when she was 16 (or earlier…can’t remember). Her dedication to basketball was admirable and whenever something bad happened, an injury, not having a car or something falling through, she didn’t complain. AWESOME, right!? Yes.

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During high school we did separate things: I was really into anything journalism: working on the school newspaper, yearbook, literally magazine or journaling itself while she was always playing sports or piano. During my down time I just wanted to be with people one-on-one at coffee shops and talk and she wanted to do activities like bike, hike or explore. But we were placed by our youth pastor to be in each other’s small groups until graduation. In high school our small group was a very tight group of girls and to this day, after four years of college, we still keep in contact with each other. During the four years in high school we would hang out outside of church and because of our clashing personalities we had a hard time deciding what to do. My favorite day was when we went to Starbucks and then went to a lake and rented canoes. Perfect compromise.

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I have heard from SO many people in the church “I love seeing you and Lauren together. Didn’t you used to hate each other?” I just laugh and say “Yup!” Lauren and I too will also look at each other and say, “we used to hate each other, HA!”

I love the security I have in knowing how much Lauren cares about me and respects me. And I’m sure she would tell you that she knows I feel the same about her. It’s fun reuniting with her because we’ll hug and then within literally a minute one of us will have poked fun at the other.

I’m not happy that we didn’t get along for so many years. I’m not proud at having such a bad attitude towards someone simply because they weren’t like me.  But I also wouldn’t take those years back.  I love seeing the beauty that can come from allowing Jesus to shift your heart towards someone. It would have been easy to show antipathy towards Lauren simply because of our differences, but I am SO happy we both worked at trying to understand the other, because she is now one of my favorite people.

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Jack.

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I’m writing this for those who have asked to hear stories and memories of Jack. Wish I had more pictures of him, but sadly he didn’t want too many and the only images I can add to spoof this up are images of our FB conversations. In the future I’ll probably add more, but for now this is all I am comfortable posting.

My first impression of Jack was like most: friendly and funny. I had been working at LatteLand for two years before I transferred to the one on the Plaza where Jack worked. Before meeting him I heard Jack was the favorite. They played him out to be like “King of LatteLand,”so loving, the hardest worker and Robin Williams of the store. He had an amazing reputation, and I was stoked to meet him, let alone work with him. I was washing dishes near the end of my first shift when I heard a guy say “Hey can you turn on the Gorillas station?” The computer was by the sink, but I didn’t know who made the request. I didn’t do anything, kept washing. A moment later a build 6’3″ blonde man peeked in the back. Startled, he apologized, put his hand on my back while moving past me to change the music saying, “hey I’m Jack. How’d the first day go for ya?”
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I conveniently  lived across the street from LatteLand. I’d walk over several times a day for free coffee and WiFi. Jack also would swing by off the clock. Before we even worked our first shift together we figured out quickly our senses of humor meshed well, and it was easy to talk to one another. I distinctly remember two stories of Jack during my first two weeks there.
Saturday night: after yoga one evening I walked over to LatteLand. I felt gross. Jack was working and like clockwork, asked how my day was and if he could make me a drink. On this praticular night he asked me if I’d like to go to a show with him after. I had work early the next morning and said we’d go to the next one, but followed with “I can’t believe you’d expect me to go with no make-up and sweats! Bah!” He chuckled and said, “you’re right… you look awful. I must have had my glasses on that makes everyone seem 5 times better looking on.” I said “yea, you DID. Mmmmmk I’m sure you’ll see me tomorrow here…. soooo bye.” The next day I was opening at another LatteLand, but closing at my new location, the one where Jack worked. I was nervous to close a new store, and Jack knew.

Next day, Sunday: Jack came during my first close to hang. He stayed for the last three hours of my shift studying for his biology class and during that shift he introduced me to CoalVines pizza and the joy of food trading. I also learned this about Jack: if you don’t tell him how many pieces of pizza you’re each having, he’ll eat the entire pie.

Seeing him pop by to ease my nerves was so kind, and I knew I had a friend, not solely co-worker. Jack was someone who I wouldn’t have created in my brain for a friend, let alone human. He was a great surprise and I think everyone who met Jack would say the same. His sense of humor is rare, but one of the best humors I’ve ever come across. We could joke around for hours at work, via text, Facebook chat or phone call. On the note of humor, Jack respected the boundary of, “Mary is a sophisticated person,” and never was crude or vulgar around me. I grew an enormous amount of respect for him. Our humor, in my opinion, was hilarious, quick-witted and personal. If he said, “Mare I’m going to the bathroom,” I would follow with, “K I’ll take the tips, throw away your cigarettes and will count the drawer tonight (which he loved doing because “I get to sit down”).” Without hesitation he’d say, “Oh right on. Please also switch the station to Mariah Carey, hide my keys just for funzies, and sit around….because you’ve worked HARD.” To meet someone and be able to interact with them in this manner within a few days is extraordinary.
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I’ve tried to think of the right adjective to describe the way he LOVED people. The word I thought of was magical. Jack could make anyone love him—and did. He had a way of being able to empathize with others. One of the things he never consistently was on me about was to never allow yourself to let other’s problems become your own. He would feel for others, but still focus on himself… and I envied that. He had the ability to make customers and co-workers from all over the personality scale adore him: Musicians. Business men. Athletes. Girls who worked at clothes stores. Waiter’s. Hipsters. Bank tellers. Local artists. Mothers. Little kids. ANYONE.

There’s so much I can say about Jack. My brain scatters from wanting to type about our fight over whether espresso should be poured directly over ice or before ice is put in it (trust me…it WAS a fight. Jeff called us the old married couple because we’d give each other the silent treatment for having different opinions over stupid, stupid stuff), how we could have intellectual conversations while making drinks on the bar—him pulling espresso, me steaming milk. The smile Jack would have when someone did something totally stupid or the way he looked after he won a dodge ball tournament and ran to LatteLand to tell Jeff and I. He RAN into the store shouting “YEA BUDDY YES YES YES!” I jumped OUT of my skin and said, “WHAT is your PROBLEM?” He, while twirling, gave everyone a high five giggling about this dodgeball game. His child-like spirit radiated and became a magnetic force. People felt good around Jack.

Jack knew I cared for him… so much in fact he didn’t tell me he broke his finger until the last minute (meaning I walked in for work and saw his broken finger). When he decided to move to California he asked to get together to tell me. Within a month of moving he sent a text saying, “THAT MARY LENTZ IS A TREAT.” That phrase was an inside joke—one I’ll share and one we both knew meant he coming back. Whenever our store was dead and a customer got me ranting about something I’d realize I had been talking for a WHIIIILE. Whenever I realized this, I knew Jack had known longer, and I’d look over at him – his  eyes wide and a half smile. I’d get silent and he’d say, “That’s our Mary. What a treat that Mary Lentz is eh?” He also started the trend oh saying, “well that’s our Mary!” whenever I was clumsy. I had a tendency to use too much milk or spill milk and Jack knew I was very, very hard on myself so rather than ever telling me to watch my proportions he’d say, “that’s our Mary” with a smile. Those words put me at ease.

I was secure with my friendship with Jack. I could call him out if he was rude, knew how to approach him when he was mad, would text him the most random facts and while studying or in class he never failed to find me on Facebook chat. Like any friends or co-workers though, we did get annoyed with each other. He would flat out tell me when I was annoying and if he annoyed me I’d grow silent. He hated when his annoying habits shut me down so he’d squeal “LETS BE FRIENDS!”  Our major disagreements were about the littlest things. Where the best parking was, what Pandora station is the best, who could count the drawer faster, or if birthdays were a big deal. When it came to major topics however, we had respect for the other about views.
And those were the best conversations I had with Jack.
Religion, family, theories, friends.  When you work 8 hour shifts with someone and are comfortable talking with them, anything can come up. Jack and I saw the world differently, but that’s why I loved hearing and seeing through his eyes and ears. He had a way of describing things to me that made sense. Analogies, stories or examples. He would choose which category to use for the person he was talking to. I remember one night we were both off the clock visiting Michael and Jeff and we both didn’t have anything to do so we sat outside talking. He brought up religion and for an hour we simply TALKED about it. No arguments, no challenges to the other…just talked. He had mentioned that years prior in his life he had wanted to be a preacher and I told him he would be great because he got on your level, brought out the best in you, and knew how to keep you interested while he spoke. Many deep conversations turned to silly ones. I remember after talking about evolution we began rhyming. And for 20minutes we rhymed with the word “wired.” Example:
J: I’m going to get a new car because of my TIRES
M: Nice do they EXPIRE
J: I dunno maybe when I RETIRE
M: Maybe that’ll be soon cause your gonna be FIRED from being so WIRED
…yes. 20 minutes. And he was not shy about his tone of voice during this game so many people on the patio thought he was crazy.

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Aside from his personality, his work ethic was out of this world. We called him the ghost because anything that needed to be done…Jack had finished it. A reason I loved working with him was because I knew he would pull more weight than expected. Making teas, taking out the trash, cleaning the bathroom, dealing with customers I didn’t want to…he had it down.

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Ok Y’all…a few stories.

The Air-Port run.

Jack had planned a trip to Florida and man, he was EXCITED. He had a countdown six weeks out from leaving. It was adorable…but  got tiring. He told each customer about his trip, and after hearing him tell the 938th customer his agenda, flight number and even the exact time he was going to LAND in Florida, I was over it. But you can’t tell someone THAT excited to chill out. The night before Jack left we were closing. It was a slow night so Jack and I went to sit on the patio. As we were sitting I asked him who was taking him to the air-port. He shrugged his shoulders and said “Eh, I think I’m just going to drive myself and park.” My eyes widend and I said “UM…NO.” From here this is how the convo went:
J: No???
Me: Yes, Jack. Friends drive their friends to the air-port when they leave for any trip.
J: hahaha! Oh Mary, I’ll be fine.
Me: I’m taking you. If your flight is at 5:50…we’ll leave here at 4am.
Silence filled the patio
J: Seriously?
M: I mean….yea. It’s what friends do.
J: You never cease to amaze me Mary Lynn Lentz (my middle name is Joyce…but he couldn’t remember so he chose Lynn)

…We finished the close, went home and 5 hours later met up for the airport. As I got out of the car he saw my boots, huge sweats with an oversized sweater he says “no need to dress up on my account Mare-Bear.” We had to get gas first and went to QuikTrip in Westport. I slowly pulled up to a filling station when Jack said, “Ok now….don’t look, but Street Fighter is right there and has scary face paint on.”

Street Fighter is a known guy in Westport and the Plaza. He is a homeless man…who looks like a street fighter. He’s usually drunk, on some drug and looks like he’d kill you. Just a week prior to this, StreetFighter was at LatteLand and Jack had me get security. So, needless to say, both Jack and I don’t feel comfortable with him.

I parked and Jack and I sat in silence. I finally said “Um yea so there’s no way I’m getting out of the car.” Jack also sits….just sits. He unbuckles and said, “Ahh…oooo…kaaaay.” He gets out and as he goes to the side of the car Streetfighter slowly walks towards him. My heart now is beating a 100miles an hour and tries really hard not to look at this guy. I did. Yup…Jack told me not to look for a good reason.  As I’m not looking I hear Jack say, “Hey how’s it going man?” and, “I’m going on a trip man should be fun.” How on earth could he make small talk in a scary time like this!?
Jack slowly walked back to the car and just when he shut the door he shouted, “GOOOO!!!!!” I floor it…but we didn’t move. Just loud noises because we were in NEUTRUAL. I start panicking and as I go in drive with Streetfighter at my window I drive off. As we get out of the parking lot Jack BURST out laughing which, if you know me, I am easily startled.
Me: JACK that was NOT funny!
J: *laughing* I was scared out of my miiiiind!
Me: Thank you for doing that.
Clearly we handle these situations differently. I’m silent, he laughs.
J: Ahh Mare-Bear. Are you ok
Me: Yes yes. Glad you’re fine. WHY didn’t we just go to another gas station?!
*slience*
In unison we laughed because clearly, going to another station would have been the most wise.
Story #2:
During one crazy busy night on the Plaza both Jack and I were in a mood. We were so tired of dealing with snotty customers, answering pointless questions, cleaning up nasty messes in the bathroom and on top of that, we were both hungry (Jack hungry…not a happy guy). When I get tired I get slap happy. Jack knew this and asked me to get my giggles out in the back where he couldn’t see me. Within a few seconds he called me out to help ring in customers. I walk out and see a line out the door. The clock read 9:40pm and nothing was done. He hadn’t ate. Jack was in the zone on bar clearly annoyed, but I decided to have fun. With each customer I’d type in something to show up on the screen next to Jack. If someone got an Americano I wrote “God Bless.” When they got a smoothie I wrote “make with tears.” A latte? Either, “Condition with h20” or, “lather with snot.” Jack CRACKED up. We both got so slap happy customers started laughing with us not knowing we were mocking their orders.
Story #3
When Jack and I first started working together (specifically on bar) he was thrown off at  how laid back I was. I didn’t care where we got dinner, I worked great under stress on bar, I’d laugh when customers were rude, and would dance during rushes. Jack was similar, and we rocked the bar. We crushed it. I mean…not only did we get drinks out super fast and have great chemistry on bar, but we could have long deep conversations while making a ton of drinks. He was, and still is my favorite to make drinks with on bar, and I think most co-workers would agree and say he was one of the greats. While being laid-back I would also start laughing for NO reason. Jack could say something along the lines of, “Mary all I can think about is food. I’m starving. These freakin’ customers keep coming in and I might go INSANE if I don’t have my scone microwave for 30 seconds with butter.” I would laugh SO hard and eventually, after many of these occurrences Jack would say, “ok…..seriously Mare, are you high!?!” It became a complete joke because I’ve never nor will I ever smoke. Jack knew this, but he began saying “are you high” as a way to say, “please chill out.”  After a few weeks Jeff, who worked with us for part of our  weekend shift, in complete honesty took me aside and said, “Really though…. are you high?” In that moment I rushed to Jack and told him the joke was OVER since people were taking it seriously. When Jack discovered this, he CACKLED so hard he went outside to hold his belly.
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He excuded joy, love and passion. I told him he was a breath from God to life. Everyone loved being around him and not only that, but they loved being themselves around him.  During the last few months before he passed away I know he was going through hard struggles and inner conflicts, and anyone who was close with him sensed that Jack coated with more weight than usual. His joy had faded, he rarely smiled and he wasn’t affectionate. Rather than remember those final dark weeks with Jack,  I choose to remember Jack for who he would want me to remember him by: a friend who didn’t judge, gave an ear, humor, unconditional protectiveness, care, big bear hugs, and wisdom. He was humble, confident, enjoyed the little things in life and made light of situations.

When our shift was coming to a close it wasn’t unusual for me to get bummed. For my first 7 months on the Plaza, Jack and I always had Saturday night shifts along with an occasional weekday night or morning. But Saturdays it was just us two, and I knew each week it’d be a blast. He felt the same and whenever (if ever) we couldn’t close and had to get someone to cover our shift…. it’d be a conversation. Usually employees don’t care about the other in shift trading, but Jack and I did. I remember when he went to a concert and approached the topic so sensitively. He said, “hey Mare I really wanna go to a concert next Saturday… and while I know this ruins YOUR life ,I’m gonna have a blast….but I’ll miss you maybe we’ll see but ya I’ll try and get someone solid to replace me and if you want to choose where we get our dinner tonight that’s fine. Sorry to bail on you.” Yes, he would talk in run-on sentence form.

Even though we were different, we understood each other on a level I hold very close. It’s hard for me to articulate. Our humor meshed well, yes, but just like any job, you arrive leaving issues at the door. We usually came from school, being tired. When Jack was tired he needed silence, a few smokes, and food. Once he had those things, he was good to go. If I was tired I’d want to talk about my day, hear an encouraging word, and move forward. We understood this and each of us provided this to the other. But the understanding I mean runs deeper.
Jack observed me from afar and through knowing my body language so well, he saved me many times. As I was leaving one afternoon from LatteLand a woman approached me. I just wanted to go home. I guess my body language communicated I was antsy to leave (hand on my hip, lightly swaying back and forth). I didn’t know Jack was watching, but Jack shortly came outside, put his hand on my back and told me my food was ready at CoalVines.
There was no food. But I knew he was saying this to rescue me from this woman. As I walked away and into the parking garage to get the “pizza,” I had a text from Jack reading, “I got you dude.”

I got together with Jack a few months ago and just seeing how he was standing I knew he was bummed.  His stance and eyes said it all. I immediately asked what happened. His eyes got big and he said “nothing WHY is there ALWAYS something wrong?!”
Eh, playing it off.
I dropped it, but when we left I did the whole Robert Di Niro from Meet the Parents thing with my fingers saying ,“I’m watching you.” Jack did it back saying “OH RIGHT ON.” A few hours later while shopping at Target I sent him a text saying while he didn’t admit to anything happening, I was there for him. He texted me the situation, which turns out was a turning point in his mental state. Ever since that morning he went in a downward spiral.
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Him and I fell in a rythme after each shift.  He’d lock the door, take out a cigarette, ask me if I felt safe walking home and if I said yes, he’d give me a hug and say “have a good night Mary. I’ll see you soon.” I don’t think I’ll leave the store after a close around midnight without envisioning Jack walking out with me. I won’t forget us walking in the parking garage late at night shouting to the other seeing how long we could walk in the garage talking until we couldn’t hear the other. I can’t walk out of the bathroom without remembering Jack hiding behind the door scaring me when I came out shouting, “did you wash your hands a solid 30 seconds!?!?!” It’s funny…those are the moments I miss him the most in, but are moments I never thought twice about when they happened. Little moments that make an imprint on your heart unbeknownst to you until much later.
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I had gone on vacation two months after meeting Jack and when I arrived home I couldn’t wait to return to work. The night after I got back I went into LatteLand because I knew Jack and Olivia were working. When I entered I didn’t see Jack, so I peeked my head in the back. Not there. I started looking at the schedule and from a distance I heard his voice saying “Mare-bear’s back!?!!” I smiled and I don’t remember really moving because in a few quick seconds Jack had scrambled to the back and forcefully embraced me in the biggest, most welcoming hug. I was gone for 10 days so for me I didn’t know it’d be like a reunion, however, for Jack, that hug communicated that he felt like I was gone for a year. Anytime I went out of town after that I ALWAYS looked forward to coming in and seeing Jack because I knew he’d welcome me back so warmly and excitedly.

Michael and Jeff would close Fridays and twice both Michael and Jeff wanted to go to a concert together. I didn’t like covering a weekend night shift unless it was with Jack.

After so many months I don’t want to say took for granted, but maybe the word “used to” is appropriate. I got used to his consistent genuine compliments. He was so good giving compliments. It spanned from telling me things such as my kindness, how he likes that I understand his humor, if he liked my hair, if I smelled good, if he thought of me while watching a movie and why….and he did it so effortlessly. Funny note about my hair: he liked me in braids, but he called them pig-tails, not braids. He also figured out my routine: I have straight hair for day, curl it the next. If I have it in a pony one day, the next it’ll be in a half-pony. If that doesn’t tell you how often we were around each other I don’t know what does.

A reason why Jack was so wonderful is he never treated me different no matter what my appearance was. He worked with me before nice dinners, after a midterm, or prior to simply a coffee date and no matter what, he was consistent. When I went through an awful acne breakout he didn’t change, still always said I looked great. Yet, sometimes, I truly did look like a bum and he’d say, “hey Mare if you don’t remember what a mirror looks like there’s one in the bathroom calling your name.” His humor and honesty  was my favorite.
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Jack’s death has shaken me to my core. Death is so final, and to hear a close friend of mine die with no sort of goodbye really shook me up. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact he’s made on my life until he passed away. It hit me that I lost a friend who figured me out, could read me from my body language, tone of voice to style of texting. I lost a friend who could make me fall to my knees laughing and play off of any line, whether it was actually funny or just a valiant effort. A friend who was SO consistent with telling me I meant something to him and that he enjoyed me for ME. He accepted me in all my quirks and traits. Jack dealt with me when I had an exam the next morning, slap happy at work, dealing with physical injuries, when a friend betrayed me, when I was overjoyed with going on vacation, stressed with car trouble or hurt by the male species. It’s in these moments of reflection I’m realizing how loyal and committed Jack was to showing he cared for so many months.

To break it down:
If I had an exam: Jack said to study hard for 10 minutes, then watch a YouTube video. If you go to our “Friendship Page” you’ll find videos from Jack on my wall trying to execute this plan.
Slap Happy: He’d smile and say “Oh yea?” chuckle and go louder “Really?!”
Physical Injuries: “Mare-Bear LET ME KNOW when your in pain because when you don’t you make me feel like a woman” (Because he let everyone and their friend know if he didn’t feel well)
Vacation: He listened. He would smile, see me get excited and just listen.
Car Trouble: He provided the words to beautifully paint a picture of how frustrating car trouble was. Him venting FOR me resulted in a ton of laughter.
Males confusing/hurting me: Classic Jack hug. I told Jack that his hugs were like medicine to people and he wasn’t allowed to hug me because that was his way of brain-washing me to stop talking. With his cackle he’d say “BRAIN-WASHING!??!”

The little memories that I’ll always remember.

Jack surprised me with how well he knew me.
I came in one night and Michael asked where I was going.
Me: Ohhhh ya knooow. I have a date with a boy
Michael: Really?
Jack: No she doesn’t. If Mary had a date she wouldn’t refer to him as a boy. She’d say a “guy” or a “man.”
My mouth dropped.
Jack: See? I know.
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He was picking on me one morning and I said “Jackson if you tease me one more time you have to give me 5 compliments.”
Jack: Whaaaaaa????
Me: Yes. No more teasing me!
Jack: *trys to hug me*
Me: NO. No no no. Enough teasing now lets work and get stuff done
Jack: Cause you’ve been doing THAT all day
Me: K, GO. Five compliments.
And he did. He gave me five extremely nice compliments that weren’t shallow or on the surface. It was a moment. I teared up and Jack said “OK I think that calls for me being allowed to tease you JUST a bit more.” We laughed.
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He had a theory that if he asked me a question, I could never give a straight answer.
J:for example, if I asked what you were doing in a week you’d tell me a story about a friend and WHY you were seeing them next week and if you had homework you’d tell me about three previous projects and why you were doing the one you had next week but you’d NEVER tell me ‘oh ya know, seeing friends and doing homework.’ Am I right?

Me: *mouth drops* JACK it’s because we tell each other things and I want you knowing my life THOUGHT you did an-
J: HAHAHAHA!!!! Your doing it RIGHT NOW!
Me: UGH! *Walks away*
J: HAHAHAHAHAHA!
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The moments where he was so shocked, his eyes would get SO wide and all he could say was “whaaaa???” I, half the time, couldn’t even finish my sentences because his animations were so hysterical. My favorite was when I got back from celebrating my 21st birthday in Nashville. I came in Monday morning our shift and he right away said “so what’d you geeeeet.” I said (keep in mind this is around 7am) “I’M in LOVE with WHISKEY.” Up until this moment Jack must have been thinking I’d say a Cosmo, Appletini or something girly because when I said that sentence he froze, turned from making his latte or whatever would start his day and with huge eyes said “whaaaa?” Andrew (manager) was also there and he simply said “really?” but Jack couldn’t get past that. Every hour or so he’d go “WHISKEY!?” Since then if I drank I always got a Jack and Coke and when I told him he would always do a little smile and shack of his head.
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After one of our closes we kept telling the other how awesome the other one was and I kept saying I would one-up him in whatever comment he had.
He won this game.

If we were really slow at work we’d both sit on the freezer as everyone does. If it got too silent we’d play the question game. I’d ask him a question either like “tell me about Jr. High” or “Whats the last song that moved you?” If it was anything music related we could talk forever off of that. The answer to that was “I really like the song Home by the Edward Sharp…the part when the two people say how they love each other…I cried on the way home from California listening to that song. I can just see the two in the recording studio. Its beautiful.”

Jack told me that the “Question Game” with me never worked because any question of mine turned into a story. He said he thought I was a good story teller, but he knew we needed a solid 5 minutes of no customers coming in before he would ask me a question in return
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I’ll always remember an evening I spent on the patio at LatteLand very shortly after meeting Jack. I wasn’t working, but I wanted to read my book. It was a novel by Robin Jones Gunn, a Christian woman author who writes books about Fiction characters. This one particular book was about Jessica Morgan who moved to Glenbrooke to try and hide her past. It’s seriously a cheesy, girly book. As I was intently reading Jack took the trash out. When he came back he walked over, squatted down by me and asked what I was reading. I was sort of embarrassed to be asked this because I thought he clearly would have no interest and find it rather boring and shave off any points he had of my intelligence. However, I reacted very passionately and told him all about Jessica. I even went to the page where it had a map of Glenbrooke and explained the characters. Jack was hilarious. It’s hard to explain his face expression, but his eyes smiled and you could tell that he loved the passion I was having, yet he was totally taken at back and didn’t know how to handle the connection I had with Jessica. With that, he too got passionate and begun to ask questions. “Why does Jessica want to hide her past?” and “Where does this guy she likes live? Does he know about her past?!” After a solid few minutes he went inside to work. I kept on reading and when I went inside to throw my cup away he hollered “LET ME KNOW HOW IT ENDS!” After getting to Jack more over the weeks following I couldn’t help but find him more endearing because JACK would never… ever…EVER have a care in the world about a book like this and yet he chose to be “interested” because I was.
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I study a lot. A LOT. Last year during the Fall semester I went to several coffee shops to study and one time Jack joined to help me study for a Physical Science test. He really liked Science so to have a friend not only like my subject, but also be animated, patient with me and helpful was an extreme blessing. When he sat down I handed him my notebook. Each question was high-lighted in green and the answer in yellow. He scanned the page, said “ok right on” and after a few more pages turned he said “dear lord Mare….I mean do you want me to go laminate these first or can I touch them?”
I get nervous about friends (or anyone) helping me study because it really does take me a long time to have the material “click.” Even though we ended up laughing about each question and got distracted, his ability to sort through each question and help me UNDERSTAND the question with humor and patience was awesome.
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Aside from family, I don’t let a lot of guys call me Mare-bear. But I let Jack.  He realized he held a tender spot with me when another male called me Mare-Bear and I instantly said, “Yea um DON’T call me that please.” From the corner of my eye I saw Jack smile and once the guy left I said “So that nickname is kind of reserved for the selected few.” With a tap on the back he said “Aw Mare-Bear glad I passed that test…poor guy had to experience the sass of Mary.”
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The nights we would battle off on Pandora music. Honestly, we were music Nazis. We are both passionate about our music choices. We maybe agreed on 4 stations. But there were two nights where I was so down and out of it where Jack switched the station to Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber. That gesture made me smile like no ones business and after a few songs I asked if he was tired of it and, OF COURSE he WAS, but because he wanted me to feel better he said “I LOVE it….I can TOTALLY relate she is SO dead ON with my LIFE.”
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Him being excited about the Taylor Swift concert he was taking his sister Clara to. I’m pretty obsessed with Tay Tay and everyday Jack would tell me how excited Clara was, how it was going to be great even if he didn’t like Taylor that much.
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Our conversations about US.
Me: Jack, I don’t think we’d do well on a road-trip together
Jack: Oh gosh no. We’d fight to the death about music. But we’d both like Gas Station stops so that’s good
Me: Yea. What about planes? I think we’d be good
Jack: Yea that’d be good. We can talk for hours so being on a plane meeting for the FIRST time…we’d be the chatty Cathy’s of the universe.
Me: hum…yea. OK WHAT if we went to a sports game?
Jack: NO NO NO. I’d get drunk, you’d get mad at me for getting drunk and you’d ask me about all the players and rules of the game and EVEN though I’d KNOW you were just being nice and interested for me I don’t like that. No thank you.
Me: Uggggggh Jack! But yea I totally would
Jack: I know. But its ok Mare-bear you know I love that about you but you also know I like my sports.
Me: Uhuh I do. Which is why your allowed to be so BLUNT with me
Jack: RIGHT!
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The times he got free tickets to a sports game. He was like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. He’d call his friends Marshall , Mike, Chris…I don’t remember who else. I just remember him working harder, being in a better mood and every few minutes I’d hear him go “YES!”
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Jack had told me that he wanted to help me move months before I did. He must have forgot because when another friend asked him he said “GOD I hate helping people move. Yea OK I’ll take up an entire day and give you muscle I DON’T have to then SWEAT in the heat while YOU tell me what to DO. SO MUCH FUN! All for what– a piece of pizza??!!” I stared at him. He read my mind and said “NO you’re different. Just think of me helping you move as a way of showing how much I cherish our friendship.”

Lucky for him he worked the night I moved, but him saying that wasn’t a surprise because any close friend of Jack’s knows that Jack was extremely complimentary of people and let them know exactly where they stood with him. So many nights I would go into LatteLand to see his cheery face and simply have a friend give a joke, hear a story or honestly, just watching him interact with others was entertaining enough.

If I had known a year ago that I would lose Jack in the near future, my feelings now say to be reserved and protect my heart. The tears I’ve shed, energy it has taken to simply leave the house and memories haunting me makes it easy for me to want to erase everything so this pain could be washed away.  But the joy he brought at work, the laughter I shed, the challenges he quietly gave me and conversations we shared in and out of the workplace are all irreplaceable and ones I will hold dear to my heart. I pray for his friends, that they can find comfort. His family, that they’ll know Jack ADORED each of them and lit up anytime he mentioned them. He never talked negatively about his family and held them in high respect. While it feels like torture to stand everyday in the place Jack and I built a friendship, he would have wanted me to cherish the memories I wrote down here and focus on the season of a treasured friendship. And that’s what I’ll do.

Honorary Lentz’s

The night Anna returned from her trip to Israel in August of 2011 James and Olivia were there to welcome her back.

If any of us are driving home and pull into the driveway and see one of their cars next to our mailbox, our hearts jump and can’t wait to walk inside and see them. We know their schedules, feel like we can text them whenever, whatever time of day it is, just to tell them to come fill our house with more spice, laughter and warmth. They have all had their shares of dinners with our family in addition to sleepovers. They know how our family ­plays games frequently, watch The Office religiously and how we’ll stay awake until 3am to wake up at 10:30am for coffee talk in the living room. Each of these people know our mom’s mother V- and will call her “Gramma V-,” too. These next few people I choose to write about have not only affected my life for different reasons, but have to my entire family, which is very special. My family isn’t hard to get along with, but when one waltzes in and makes themselves at home as much as these three have, we consider them “honorary Lentz’s.” By “making  themselves comfortable” I mean they open our fridge like their own, yell at our cat, walk in without knocking, help clean the dishes, know where the blankets are and have helped run errands. To go deeper…they’ll be comfortable telling Anna to calm down, John he’s crazy, laugh at me for being “dramatic,” telling Warren to get his own food and go along with Amy’s venting about, well, I don’t know because the picture of Amy venting usually involves her sitting on the kitchen counter eating strawberries, my mom patiently standing listening and I just want to get a snack so I tune out the venting…but these people who’d go in the kitchen would listen to her. They’re awesome. (off the record I looooove Amy venting. But when I want a snack to munch on during Modern Family I want to see the next line Phil says rather than listen to a story about a sale happening at Macy’s).

NATALIE
Standing next to Dad during a game night

“Nat-UH-LEEEE” is how we each say her name.
Natalie is by far the forth Lentz sister in a few ways. Natalie became a part of our family when I was a Jr. in High School. She was friends with Warren, then became really close to Amy and eventually opened up a soft spot in literally each of our Lentz hearts. I have vague memories of her doing homework on our couch during the week in high school and coming over after a gathering on the weekends to spend the night. I worked at the mall through high school and one night I was driving home talking with mom on the phone. Mom says, “well, Amy is doing homework, dad is going to bed and I DON’T KNOW where Natalie is.” It got to a point where I’d ask Amy “uh, where’s Natalie?” THEN it got to the point where if our family was going to watch a movie we’d pause and say “hey, call Natalie. Where is she!?” It was hard for us to accept the fact that Natalie had a separate life (which she dominates at and absolutely LOVES her family….we just don’t like sharing her).

Typical candid of Natalie--hanging out by one of us just smiling away.

Natalie is very compassionate with sensitive care. She’s great at listening to stories and knows the perfect questions to ask after a story. Her questions are unpredictable and adorable. I say sensitive care because she has great wisdom and knows when to share the truth at the right time. I once bought a ton of clothes and when I asked if she liked a shirt I got she says, “well, I mean…ok. How often will you wear that?” The shirt was way too fancy to wear to school and she knew I didn’t dress up often at the time. I thought about it and returned the shirt. I later told her I returned it and she says, “it was beautiful! I just didn’t want you to spend all that money to then not wear it as much as you’d like. But it was nice.” Natalie brings a peaceful, comforting feeling to any room and her winning smile is a plus. Sidenote, she won the Best Smile superlative during high school.

Precious memories of Natalie:
-she called me at midnight on my 17th birthday.
-even when Amy wasn’t home some nights Natalie would spend the night and share a bed with me. One night Warren came to sleep on the floor and sang Disney songs. That was a good night. He started to sing too long so Natalie and I started our own conversation as Warren sang in the background. Finally Warren says “HELLOOO I’m serenading here.” Natalie says “oh my gooooosh fiiiiine. Stop soon though
-The whole situation with whether she looks good in light brown hair or dark.
-Her obsession with my back massages.
-I had knee surgery in December of 2009. With the entire family home I spent the entire break in a bed all alone upstairs. I had several visitors throughout the day, but it got lonely. During that time Natalie visited me almost every day and one day she sent a plethora of texts telling me to come downstairs and be with everyone. Once I came downstairs she’d smile and say “THERE YOU ARE!!!” Yes, Natalie, I remember you calling me on my 17th birthday and what you say when I come downstairs. I remember.

One of our dinners during Christmas 2011

She unknowingly knows our families’ intimate quirks in our house and we love, cherish and miss her a lot. She became an honorary member 5+ years ago and during that time she graduated high school, went to U of I, graduated college and is currently an English teacher at a local high school. I can’t wait to see where this bubbly, caring, amazing woman is in 5+ more years!

JAMES

I met James when I liked Barbies, Playmobile toys and Beanie Babies. Yup, I met him was I was four years old. I’ve seen him through his stages with almost anything and have seen him become a pretty incredible guy. I know that when he was in 3rd grade he liked to put his name tag from Sunday school on his bible so after a few months his bible just said “James” on it. By 7th grade he had a major crush on Britney Spears. Woops, sorry James. During 8th grade he was the co-founder of the nick-name Murph for me and now almost every male (no girls are allowed to call me this) refer to me as “Murph” in Illinois. We traveled to North Dakota for a mission trip the end of our 8th grade year and on the way to the lake James told me “your face is like a leech…it sucks.” While that is a brilliant sarcastic line…that stung for a bit. All the older high school guys were cheering saying “MAN that was awesome!” The thing is, while he would pick on me, he didn’t like hurting me and is very, very sensitive towards others. He apologized, but we can both agree that was not something to say to a girl…but c’mon, it was a good sarcastic, witty line. I cannot though emphasize his sensitivity though and James, while you may not ADMIT to a lot of it, you’re very compassionate and sensitive when it comes to friendships. We haven’t always gotten along and have defiantly gone through seasons of just putting up with each other.
I share enough memories with him as a few others in my family have, too. James and I are in the same grade and grew up together, but he is Patrick’s best friend. Patrick has been dating Olivia, who I’ll get to, for three years now and one could say, especially Olivia, that James is also dating Patrick. They have a bromance for sure.

 

James and Patrick have been close for years and their interactions together are pretty funny. For one, they love our cat Lucy a little too much. It’s normal to see James on his hands and knees in our house playing “Lucy hunting.” When Lucy enters a room James and Patrick light up saying with a smile “LUUUUCE. LUCY!!!” It’s a little too much. The boys have their spots in town they’ll eat at–Franks for the Memories being their favorite. During high school if I was trying to get the “group” together and James secretly knew Patrick had previous plans he’d say “ummm if Pappy isn’t going I don’t know.” And he was serious.  Even with James’ sister Alaina getting married soon, the rumor is that if Patrick won’t help with the wedding James is out. And he’s the BROTHER. While this could be a joke, James is very serious about Patrick being apart of anything he has to do in this matter. Bromance.

Taken on my 18th birthday--perfect candid.

Our family loves James. My parent’s both have a very, very tender spot for him. I know my mom texts him, my dad checks in on him when he’s around and James, well…he has a crush on my dad. Anytime we mention our dad he’ll say “YEA Papa Lentz is THE MAN!!!!”  James calls our parents Mr. and Mrs. Lentz still which is very sweet, but when he talks to any of us siblings about them he’ll say “papa Lentz” and “mama Lentz.” If James is over at our house and our parent’s go to bed, he’s sad. If they aren’t home at all, he’s disappointed. It’s rare to have a guy friend WANT the parents to be around because he thinks they’re cool. They are cool, very cool. Just sayin’…most teenage guys don’t want anything to do with parents.

Patrick and I with James at his brother Paul's wedding.

James knows how often we switched rooms growing up. He knows to not park in the driveway unless the blue suburban is already there, knows we keep the soda in a certain spot and usually, only have diet. He knows not to delete shows saved on the DVR, knows we don’t eat out every night and that Papa Lentz makes the best homemade popcorn.
Memories of da James:
-he was with me when I smoked my first cigar. Him and Patrick were going to and invited me to step out in our back driveway around Christmas time two years ago. I went and James and Patrick carefully watched innocent me making sure I was fine. I actually loved it and they both told me it’s kind of unattractive for a girl to like cigars so I should only have one when I’m with them. Smooth. At the time Dad and Warren were at a movie and I remember saying “man I wish dad doesn’t see me” and RIGHT then dad pulls in the driveway. He exits the car saying “is that MARY I see…my MARY smoking a cigar!?” I just smiled and see Patrick and James rolling in laughter. By the time I entered the house dad had told everyone. I guess if you don’t know me you don’t know the details in the fabric, but it was funny.

As much as this is embarrassing for both of us James, I had to publish it. Taken in 2008.

-Winter retreats with James. I say this because everyone and their mother knew the bond James had with me and my family. If anyone didn’t know where he was, they thought I’d know. If someone wanted James to be on their team for a game they would have me convince him because I had his ear. I did, it always worked.
-My mom, Amy and I went to Guatemala in the summer of 2008 and James was on our team. We felt like he was another one of us on the trip. I caught him on several nights talking with my mom on the patio. One night he listened for HOURS, yes…HOURS to my mom tell him the story of her and my dad’s love story. It was cute seeing James intently listening. He could’ve been with the other kids playing games or goofing off and yet he just wanted to talk with my mom. He sees her all the time back in Illinois and yet even with thousands of miles away he still just wanted to hang out with her.

Amy and James goofing off in Guatemala
James and I on top of a volcano in Guatemala

-During Guatelma James was really into working out. He still is, but there he was very vocal about it. One morning I was reading my bible and I hear from the boy’s cabin “dude…check out my triceps. DUDE.” Later that morning I mocked what he said and James just says “Murph stop creeping on the boys.” Pfft. Whatever Jamesies.
-He made me go on the Batman ride at Six Flags.
-THIS memory I will always, always remember. The summer I graduated high school I tore my meniscus and ACL. It happened at a graduation party and after it happened at the party I just wanted to go home. People asked if they could drive me, but I was insistant of driving myself…with a freshly torn ACL. I started to drive and within two minutes I had the worst pain ever shoot through my leg. I called my mom in tears and asked her to send out any guy at home. She said James and Patrick were home. I pulled in the back driveway and out come Patrick and James. I put an arm around each of their shoulders and made my way to the couch. I remember my dad, James and Patrick watching golf and myself just lying on the couch with silent tears streaming down my face from the pain. I had just fully recovered from ankle surgery two months prior and the idea of having another injury was difficult to process. However, under the circumstances, I was happy those three men were there. James said things like “Mary’s a champ. She DROVE herself home!” Later, once we found out I had torn my ACL James came up to me and said “Mary I tore my ACL in football and you handled way better than I did. You’re the Murph.”

Hanging out with us during Christmas time 2011 while we wrapped each others presents.

-If there was any new game system, James had it before any other kid. PS1, PS2, Xbox, Xbox360….I feel like he had every single one.
-The Lentz sisters treat James like one of the fam. Amy will punch his arm being the “cool” sister and all like “what up stud what up what up” while Anna feels fine asking him to drive her to Wendy’s. Me? I don’t really know….I think I’ve told James everything in the book.

The date I publish this isn’t on purpose, but it turns out to be the day before James turns 21. On March 20th he turns 21. So, James, the entire Lentz clans wishes you a very happy 21 years of life and it has been pretty neat knowing you since 1995.

OLIVIA

     Miss Olivia caught the eyes of Patrick 3+ years ago at youth group. I am VERY, VERY protective of Patrick as most everyone knows. He knows how much I care for him so before he asked Olivia to be his girlfriend he came in my room one night after my lights were out and said, “I like Olivia and I am going to ask her out.” As much as I am protective of him, I am not controlling and respect him for whatever he chooses to do. I didn’t know Olivia very well so I couldn’t give my opinion of her, but I knew he liked her so I sat in the dark room and said “well thank you for telling me and giving me a heads up.” That weekend they went on a date and would for hundreds after.

                                                                                        

During the Superbowl of 2008 Patrick and James HAD to sit by each other....
...so Olivia and I watched from the other side

Now, after getting to know her I am struck by a few qualities Olivia has. She doesn’t try to impress people, is compassionate towards others, has a gentle soul, enjoys laughter, goofing off and movies. All of which are just spectacular in our household.

It must be intimidating dating a very loved brother and son of a family of eight. Not only that, but Olivia was the first girlfriend we all had to welcome. I don’t remember Olivia trying too hard to “prove herself.” She has been consistent in who she is and I have grown to really respect that about her.
This girl LIKES simply BEING with Patrick. For that, I 100% love and understand because I am the same way. She’ll literally sit and watch him watch sports or play Xbox for hours. On one summer day Amy came in the living room and said “um, Olivia is just watching him play video games….huh?” My mom said “yea, she does that” with a smile. Olivia is down to earth. At our house I feel that she can be with whoever and we’re all at peace and comforted. I’ve seen her watch sports with my dad, talk in the living room with Ames or run errands with John.

Visiting with Mom and Dad

Memories:
– One thing I don’t understand is how goofy she can be. One night her and Patrick just started to “meow” at each other and I sat there, eyebrows raised and kept saying “you two are very weird.” I still think that’s weird but I can’t judge because I am also weird in my humor.

-While I was recovering from knee surgery Olivia came up one night and we watched cartoons together on my bed.

Visiting with me after surgery.

-The countless family dinners or game nights we’ve shared together.
-Spending 4th of July in a pick-up truck. After shortly meeting her a group of us girls got a truck, went to a parking lot and spent hours watching the fireworks and eating junk food. I got to know her hobbies, what her friends were like at school and we both realized we shared a love for One Tree Hill.

4th of July in the truck

She isn’t high matenience, easy to get along with, caring, adorable, and is absolutely smitten by my brother. She handles our competitiveness, loudness and intensity…all of which are traits she doesn’t carry. Being able to adapt to our craziness, accept us for our different personalities while sticking to her little ‘ol guns is precious and honorable, like her.

All three of these people are very dear additional members to our family. They show their love for our family more than they know and have invested in each of us with complete sincerity. I can say on behalf of my entire family we love each of them for THEM and when we have game nights or gatherings, they fill a void that is irreplaceable.

Family dinner July 2011 (minus Warren, Anna and I, mom taking the pic). From left: Olivia, Patrick, Amy, Dad, John, Uncle Mike, Gramma V- and James

Tori & Lacey

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I’m doing a “double take” blog. I’ve felt like writing a blog on these two young, incredible women for a while and because I haven’t had the time to write as much as I’d like…I’ll do both of ‘em in one.

These two fit together because both of them hold a similar role in my life. They both are older than me, but I don’t feel like the younger one…except when Tori gushes about her husband or Lacey talks about graduating from college.

Tori.
I immediately was myself around Tor. She waltzed into LatteLand a few months after becoming a married woman and dealt with Hunter and I training her for a while. That moment showed my sarcastic, goofy, talkative side. Next moment with her was when we worked morning shifts and we got more serious about life and beliefs. Within a week we asked how we could pray for one another and within a month I grew to have a sensitive, tender spot for her. She came into LL (LatteLand) with co-workers who were tight-knit friends and carried herself well under more conditions. She came at a wonderful time  because six months after she started working the store went under several changes, and within a year the store had done a complete 180. We slowly started to hang out over the first few months, but she has now rapidly become a great friend of mine. Tori has gone through rough situations and has an incredible, victorious story. I’m realizing how similar we are.  We are sensitive towards others and strive to do what’s right. We know how much God loves that about us, yet know how hard it can really be. We are loyal to our friends and have been squashed by some we love. Through that we each were hurt, but were and continually are healed by God. Weare passionate about those we love, adore girly movies, coffee, laughing, food, people, traveling, Jesus, music…the list is endless.
She loves my sarcasm and how I quickly call people out on their ridiculousness. After my manager would say “ok have a good close!” I’d say something back like “Uh, well…I worked really hard on a close yesterday and you didn’t notice so now I’m going to sit and text my boyfriend (who I didn’t have).” He’d roll his eyes and leave saying with a smile “Uhuhh suure. Interesting. byyyyyye mary” while Tori is there with a hand on her forehead chuckling. Image

I look up to Tori for her faith, her vulnerable, honest heart and perseverance. She has qualities that are so rare and unique it easily can throw people of. I’m a single, independent woman in Kansas City and Tori is one of the few that I can text or call (whatever is appropriate) with anything. Besides my mom Tori was the friend I sent a text to at 6am saying I had a flat tire on my way to Oklahoma.  She cares for me and I see it, comforts me and I receive it. She is a friend who’ll mourn when you mourn, rejoice with you when you rejoice and laugh when you laugh…or laugh AT you. That last one means we’re comfortable to do this and I love it. She has an intense depth to her heart and it’s precious.

Precious Tori moments:

-When Jack passed away Tori sent me a text. She was the only friend I voluntarily called to talk to about it.
-This woman gets me. I don’t know how to describe it, but she does! My love for fun mugs, my dramatic stories, but she’ll know I’m not serious. She knows I’m sensitive, but can take correction when given correctly (haha). She learned that no matter what a friend does to me, I’ll stay loyal and not give up on any friendship. This is also when I learned how protective she was.
-The moment she told me she was jealous for my heart. I’ll never forget that. We were driving on the high way in her white Saab and she was worked up about a guy treating me a certain way.  She was so flustered about a situation that she wasn’t involved in, but because I was affected, she was too. She told me what kind of man I deserved and how much she cared about my heart.
-Our countless girl nights. From sitting in her apartment or setting up a beach chair on her bed to hold a laptop for a movie…/ to fancy fance dinners…movies, coffee shops, my apartment or her new house. The highlights of my Friday nights in KC have been with Tor. For a great time with Tori I seriously just need Tori. I don’t care if we’re driving, on a couch or sitting on milk crates…which in all seriousness I’ve done numerous times and had a blast.
-Our countless work shifts at LatteLand. Too many memories there.

I love that while I’m a single independent college student one of my best friends is having a baby in three weeks with an awesome husband who cherishes and compliments her beautifully. I love learning from her, laughing with her, and having the honor to be her close friend. I love our honesty and vulnerability with each other. I thank God for orchestrating the introduction of a great friendship.
I know that once I have babies and an awesome husband of my own she’ll be one of the firsts I’ll call to share my heart with.

She has a great amount of wisdom and insight for my life. Same with…
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Lacey.
THIS WOMAN IS AWESOME! I talk louder when I speak about her. I laugh constantly when she’s around because she is HILARIOUS. I’m not kidding, people. She is so great. I’m sitting in the chair just giggling thinking of her mannerisms, quirks, tones of voices and her character. When I think of Lacey I think of how thankful I am for her. Here are reasons why I just crack up all the time.

And it’s more funny because she can get so confused when I laugh.
-if we were really slow at work she got on her computer and looked up recipes to then print out and tell me how excited she was to cook
-She’s had her mom go through the drive-through to drop off an apple.
-When Kenny wrote a nasty note on the board she erased it and wrote “Board of Positivity!”
-She is a health-nut and sometimes when people wanted a tea-latte or café-alaiut she’d put non-fat in and say “they just don’t know the difference.”
-whenever I would stress about certain closing duties or anything she’d say “c’mon Mares let’s sit in the comfy chairs and talk it out. Talk it out girrrrrl” I’d stand there and she’d say “c’mooooon” in a baby voice and go sit. Anytime we’d slack and chat on the clock we somehow still get out on time.
-she is very vocal about her love for people. I’ll see her and when I mention a name who she likes she’ll smile and repeat back their name loud, all excited.
-she loves masculinity in men. When she notices it she’ll say “he’s a MAN!”
-We opened one morning and had zero customers at 6:30am. I went to check facebook and saw it was her BIRTHDAY. I ran out, saw her in a chair and say “UM…sooooo today is your BIRTDHAY!?” She started laughing and said “oh ya, that.”

As much as I think she’s hilarious, she is a mighty great woman of God. When I think of a word to describe Lacey its faithfulness. With friendships, money, any situation she will have a good, positive attitude and tell anyone she is trusting God with everything and through that I think He has provided and blessed her beyond her imagination. And He will continue to do so.
She calls it how it is. She loves people so much (can’t stress this enough), but if they act out of line she has an ability to graciously put them in their place.
When I think of her greatness I  think of her confidence, trust, love for people, fun-loving spirit.
You all are gonna think all my friends are from work. Well, the majority of them in Kansas have been over the past two years because I spent 40 hours a week, sometimes more, in the shop. And how great was it when this athletic, tall, KU lady walked up one morning, asked for an application and a drip coffee on a Sunday morning. She started working a week apart from Tori.  Image

For a few months I started my new semester at school, worked a bunch and had more on my plate than usual. I didn’t hang out with them for a few months, due to an overload of homework. I instead had fun with ‘em any shift I worked, which fortunately was often.

Two little memories of the three of us I want to share, but also to let ‘em know I haven’t forgotten

-I had a closing shift and I arrive to the shift with all the closing duties already completed. I stood there in disbelief, wondering why they were finished. Lacey and Tori decided to complete as much of the closing duties as they could just because they wanted to bless me.
-Going out to dinner. We did this a lot when Lacey lived here, now Tori and I go solo. When the three of us went to dinner I remember the conversations involved a mix of laughter and deepness. One night Lacey discovered Tori couldn’t see in one eye (deepness) and then Lacey opened up saying she used to be “mute” as a child (laughter…because she clearly is now NOT mute!).
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Since then I’ve re-loacted to another store, Tori is now the manager at the location we all met at and Lacey is off being a great leader for young adults doing what she loves hours away. Tori and I hang out weekly and Lacey is dearly missed.

Here’s the bottom line with these two: they came into my life during a time I wouldn’t think I needed them. Yet, within 6 months I was going through the hardest, most emotionally draining season I’ve ever gone through. I talked to family and friends who lived out of state, but these two saw me daily. Some days in tears, some days in anger, some in smiles. Despite my dramatic moodiness Tori and Lacey heard me out, comforted, encouraged and poured their love out. They invested in me and I am extremely thankful.

 

25 Years of Marriage

Today my parents Steve and Michelle celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Us six kids, who live in five different states send our love and deep appreciation along with admiration for them. I can speak for Warren, Amy, Patrick, Anna, John and I when I say we are blessed and thankful to have been raised under a father who loved our mother unconditionally and a mother who showed our father respect, honor and love.  Our parents are hilarious, quirky, selfless, responsible, loving, firm in their faith, caring, hospitable, educated…the list is endless.

Their story is unlike any other story I’ve heard. My dad proposed on the first date. I love telling people that. My dad knew he was going to marry “Michelle” before he met her and my mom knew when she saw him in a picture she would marry this man “Steve.” This isn’t a blog to tell their love story but rather to honor their marriage these past 25 years. But you should ask me their story some time. God is good. And awesome for choosing to create and place me as their third child, second daughter.

They are different. My mom was a cheerleader in high school and my dad was in the marching band. She loves to mingle and be around a lot of people while he would rather sit at home with her and watch a movie. Momma likes crazy boppy music in the car while dad prefers absolute silence. If you go to the movies with mom she’ll bring a bag of peanuts with M&M’s while dad gets the combos of popcorn and soda. Mom will listen for hours on end about which girl stole the other girl’s hair brush while dad will hear ten seconds and say “you guys figure it and if you don’t in five minutes I’ll get involved.” You never want dad to “get involved” over pathetic arguments. Never does it end in win-win situations. They both over the years have become more like the other and today dad likes going to parties and mom is much more laid back and enjoys quiet Friday evenings.

Okay getting serious.
In 1994 we had been living in California and after the 1994 earthquake that shook the San Fernando Valley our family moved to the northern suburbs of Chicago where I grew up and where they still reside. For a few years jobs were changing, money was tight and the sixth child (John) was on the way.  I can try and write how hard it was for my parents to stay strong with my dad finding a new job, mom being put on bedrest for months all while having five children under the age of seven running around. I can’t though. I don’t remember my parents ever fighting, telling us how tight money was or how stressed they were.

They’ve showed me how a healthy marriage should be and how important it is to have dates, daily catch up time and constant communication. Since I could remember Sunday nights were “date night,” when my dad got home from work they’d have couch time for 15 minutes where the kids couldn’t disturb them while they caught up. During homeschooling days dad would call to check in constantly and I remember her answering the phone in a deep “hi handsome,” a cheery “well hello!” or the “hiiii” after a tiring day. All three excited to hear his voice. With four kids out of the house they still have a date night and have coffee every morning together.

Mom spending time with Anna

They know how to raise both boys and girls. Having three girls and three boys, all with strong personalities would be rough. Here’s an idea of who we each are:

From Left: Mary, John, Warren, Anna, Patrick, Amy.


Warren: Type A, logical, likes straight answers, doesn’t take crap. Witty, believes in and encourages everyone.  Diligent, hard-worker, loves having fun, hates not having a plan for the day and doesn’t waste time. A leader.

Amy: carries herself strongly, is a feisty firecracker who likes to discuss and converse with others on intellectual issues. Begins stories in the middle of the story, enjoys trying to be funny, has a tender sensitive side even though for the most part she is a woman of steel who is one of the only who can intimidate me because, remember, she is a firecracker.

Mary: is awesome. I honestly don’t ever like writing about myself like this. I’m a mix of Joe and Beth from the book Little Women. Check it.

Patrick: loved by all. Sarcastic, doesn’t like conflict, genuine, smart, laid back, has a huge soft heart for people.

Anna: has piercing brown eyes that radiate her sharp, opinionated, authoritative traits. Sees right from wrong in black and white and will call anyone out on anything. Is hilarious….her humor is rare, haven’t met anyone with her humor so I miss it daily.

John: out-going, fun, can make anyone love him, confident, funny, compassionate. Always on the go, thinks every day is awesome because, well, he fills it with awesome activities and adventures. Never is there a dull moment with John.

Boys.
My parents raised three of the most masculine guys I know. They are too obsessed with sports, love shooting movies, kill spiders, help anyone out moving furniture, carry luggage out to the car whenever we Lentz women go out of town, scrap the snow off the windows, open doors for girls and they, simply, respect females in general. They also however were raised with three sisters so they can enjoy a romantic comedy, see girls cry and not be uncomfortable, understand the need to pull off ten minutes before the destination so we can put on make-up or make one last stop to use the bathroom. Looking back I see certain things my parents taught my brothers that I rarely see these days from other guys. They instilled the mind-set to Warren, Patrick and John that they have a protective role as our brothers. If their friends showed disrespect or used inappropriate sarcasm towards Amy, Anna or myself they were responsible for standing up for us. When a woman walks in the house they know to stand up, shack hands, hug, something to acknowledge them. They are great at telling us sisters when we look nice and hug us often.
My brothers are also BROTHERS and make “brother time” a huge priority. Going to the movies, playing sports or even shopping, they enjoy each other. I sometimes feel excluded, but have (still trying) to understand the whole “guys only” deal.

Girls.
I commend my parents for embracing my sisters and I for our differences. They didn’t say things like “be like your older sister Amy” or “if you could be more like Anna…” Nope. They said things such as “when you guys grow up you’re going to be best friends!” Noooot what you want to hear after an argument. My dad routinely took us one by one out to breakfast and got to know us better. He’d give us his undivided attention and encourage, laugh, give wisdom and insight into our lives. Mom somehow found time daily to listen to each of us rant about certain issues, be dramatic about high school teachers and it always ended with some profound comment about being more gracious or showing more love to people. She also taught me how to approach conflict in a healthy, respectful manner in addition to which battles are worth fighting for. This came in handy in high school when I wanted to appeal any of my grades, friends if they hurt me, bosses through the years and co-workers. Speaking of respect momma Lentz taught the sisters and myself the importance of respect and how guys are wired around that issue. We know the importance of not disrespecting the male species in front of others, for they will shut down and simply, there is no positive in dissing a guy in front of anyone else. If I do I’m usually sarcastic or will apologize several times. She has spoken to groups of people about this and yes (to those who’ve gone to her speaking) Amy, Anna and myself know we are lucky to have such a wise, insightful woman.

In general, here is a list of what my parents have taught us that I rarely see anymore from people my age:
-When you drop a friend off you wait for them to enter the house. You don’t drive off as soon as they exit the car. Same goes for when you drop them off at their car. Wait until you know their car turns on.

– Whenever a guest, any guest comes in the house you say hello and acknowledge them. Whether you have to pause the TV, mute the music on the computer you acknowledge their presence.
-When a guest leaves the house you walk them to the door. Always.

– Friend’s parents are Mr. and Mrs.

-If you leave a friend’s house you thank the parent’s for having you over.

-Answer the home phone as “Hello this is ____.”

-Thank you notes. Important.



They love one another.
Here are two lists of things I remember them doing to show their love.

Dad-towards– Mom

-Years ago my mom’s engagement ring was stolen. Years later dad saved his bonus’s and bought her a new ring. He had Amy cut out pictures from catalogs and presented it to her at the dinner table one night.
– She drives the nicer car.
– I think I get my humor from my dad and animation from mom. He loves how she can get all dramatic and animated. It’s normal for her to tell a story at the table and without fail, if you looked over at dad he’s be sitting there, giving her an endearing smile. THEN if she got really bad he’d interrupt her and say “wait, what was that?”
-He knows her love language is words and will encourage us kids to write to her.
-He has never, EVER talked poorly of her to us kids. That’s rare. So many dads I know will tell their kids certain things or not act as if he and his wife are a team, a unit. My dad has never told me one bad thing about Momma. I can say the same thing for my mom. They’ve told us challenges they’ve had, such as dad not re-stocking toilet paper or having it face the same way while mom doesn’t like buying paper towels.

Mom –towards–Dad
-My dad chooses to eat differently quite frequently. Mom is always patient and caters to whatever foods he desires. She’d make a dinner the six kids ate, and he’d eat the dinner, but she’d alter his plate. If he wasn’t eating sugar she would make a special trip to the store and buy almonds, special fruits or vegetables. If he decides to go against his food choices, etc. and eat ice cream, she doesn’t nag or grip about how frustrating it is to always change her grocery shopping routine. She is patient and adaptable.

-Respect. She loves him SO much with respect. When he watches golf, football, any sport he is in the ZONE. From wanting to know if he’d like something to eat or needing to discuss something, mom would walk in the TV room, stand quietly and wait for a play to be done, hole in golf to be complete and when that was over she’d say “Steve we have a question, is now a good time?”

-I don’t think this is something he asked or demanded, but she did it. Every single morning mom looked nice. She had an outfit, curled her hair and did her make-up. And somehow, it only took her 20minutes. During homeschooling days when all we six kids had pajamas on and blankets wrapped around us mom looked as if she could go meet a group of friends for lunch, always. I think Dad appreciated this–that his wife made it a priority to look nice every day. She set an example for us kids.

Feeding the family cat Lucy medicine…something us girls did NOT want to do

My dad is…… a MAN.
Killing bugs, putting insulation in the attic, painting bedrooms, doing yard work, changing the oil in cars. Dealing with his emotional daughters after getting pulled over, yelled at by their manager or having to “approve” a dress for Homecoming. Giving wisdom to sons who lost their regional championship or who didn’t handle their emotional sisters correcting. Coaching football, initiating family meetings and leading our family are a few things my dad does. Because I AM the most emotional, sensitive daughter I shall give a list explaining how only a dad could be there for me and fill what I needed.

-Over the past five years I’ve had a few class-mates and a friend pass away. Dad was who I needed to give me a comfort hug and say a few kind words.
-This past winter I broke down one night. I felt as if I couldn’t handle anything that was on my plate so I called home. Mom summarized to dad in less than a minute what I was going through and he picks up the phone and (only those who know his sarcastic, matter-of-fact tone will not see this as rude) says, “Wow it sounds like your life is falling apart!” When we got serious he encouraged me to take action in what I could control and I did. Having my dad give his blessing on making a major change in my life made me feel content. Something about men, let alone a father be confident for you is awesome.


My mom is…..GRACIOUS.
“Maaaary, be gracious” rings in my head every time I want to be dramatic. She is sophisticated, humble, wise, and the best word is gracious and selfless. She is a trooper. I don’t know how she does all that she does. She managed to home school several children, cook meals every day, spend quality time with each of us, clean, drive us to either CYT, sports practices…maintain friendships, volunteer at church, become a director for Southern Living at Home, go on mission trips, scrapbook, host parties, mentor young girls, write letters, read books for pleasure, bake, do laundry….the list is endless. She never puts herself first. When kids are home she’ll offer to do our laundry, make us food, and her favorite is having coffee talk in the living room and just want to hear about YOU.

My parents are….A TEAM.
Like I said earlier, they never will talk poorly about the other. They enjoy, love, respect and encourage the other. For us kids, they are there. Sports games, pageants, training camps, honor assemblies, late-night study questions, 11pm vents, graduations. They mourn when we mourn, rejoice in our victories, encourage us when we doubt. They’ve had challenges and I don’t want this blog to scream “MY PARENTS are the best and all others aren’t….” or anything of the sort. They are great to me  because I believe God has blessed, honored and lead their marriage through their constant faith and obedience.

Its a treat to find mom by herself because you then have her full attention. Somehow though, even in our early twenties….we all somehow trickle in.

       

Anna went to Isreal for the summer and spent three weeks beforehand training. Mom and Dad visited her at training camp right before take-off!


They are opposites, but through the years have become similar. I hope to marry an honest, funny, caring man like my dad and be a selfless, gracious wife like my mom.

I could write more. Throughout writing this I keep thinking of things I want to add. How my dad handled our family while my mom had a brain tumor, how mom kept the house on lock while dad was on business in both Australia and Singapore. After 2500 words though I think you get the idea. They’re great and have six kids who think of them daily and thank God for them often.

So, cheers to Steve and Michelle on 25 years of Marriage!