A Safe Place
By: Lolo Anderson
Napa Young Life had brought so many broken teenagers to my doorstep. It was time to take the next scary step in following God’s will. Too many of the frightened and broken teenagers in Napa needed more than just a late night phone call for someone to talk to that loved them.
The Napa Young Life leaders were getting concern that I was having too many un-chaperoned meetings with under age girls. They had been expressing concern and was offering up much prayer for my protection. I knew that I was opening them up for criticism if I should continue.
I had to say good-bye to all the friends I had made at the youth detention facility across the street. Not just the guards and counselors but a dozen teenagers in jail that I got pretty close to as well. The nice people at the county child protection office and even a cop or two became pretty used to working with me.
There were plenty of tears and hugs to say good-bye to the three teenage girls from Young Life that was my prayer support. Especially the redhead, who I loved like my own daughter. Without the prayer support from my leader and his loving wife where would my support come from? Loosing my little redhead girl to cry with and hug was the hardest part about saying good-bye to Napa.
My own teenage daughter and I moved into a townhouse apartment in my home town of Fort Bragg. Here there would be no formal Christian organization to bring shame on. This could be a safe place to bring girls home to for shelter and God’s love.
Most of the calls in Napa were just kids that needed to talk to a loving adult on the phone or a private meetings. Most of the time I could talk them into going back home to their parents. Too many times there was abuse or danger back home and I had to contact my friends at the children protection office for a place for them to stay. Don’t get me wrong, most all calls were just crises with boyfriends and trouble with parents or school.
This was going to be the next level God was leading me into. Not long after moving in my daughter started bring home girlfriends from high school. No singing Christian songs and praying here. Loud music and dancing with a lot of laughing brought the next door neighbor over to check out the fun.
This is where Renee and Chandra stepped into my life. Renee and Chandra were juniors in high school in the same class as my daughter. Renee lived next door with her beautiful and sexy single mother. Chandra lived with her sweet Christian parents I knew from church many years before.
Turns out they became God’s replacement for the sweet redhead back in Napa. Chandra was that hold hands and pray with little girl like the redhead in Napa. Renee was the wild and crazy, pot smoking, sexually free spirit to take me places in my soul I had never been to.
The parties at my house got even wilder with Renee in the mix. The kids would dance to the loud music in my house and go next door to Renee’s to smoke pot and get high. Renee’s mother knew all about what was going on in my apartment. She knew all about the runaway girls staying over. Still, she asked me out to dinner to talk.
Renee’s mom was very beautiful and sexy and she was coming on to me. After dinner we went out dancing just to test my spirit, I’m sure. After she was satisfied that I was not having sex with the teenage girls next door she got serious. She asked if Renee could move-in with me and my daughter for a year. She had a job offer in Monterey and Renee wanted to finish her senior year with her friends here in Fort Bragg. I agreed and Renee stopped being the friend from next door to be my next spiritual daughter.
Taking the lead from her mother, first thing she did was put me to the sex test. She took me next door alone and set up the VCR to showed me an X-rated video from her mother’s collection. She was flirting with me and was being very suggestive. Together with the action on the TV and the little girl trying to be so sexy, she knew if I was going to try anything, I would have already. She felt I was getting so un-comfortable with the movie and her flirting that she stopped the VCR. We started laughing about it and we never stopped laughing about it.
That opened up a whole new level of dialog of sexuality between us. Now I am and old man writing this story. I have had 4 wives and several lovers. The level that Renee and I openly talked about our sexuality has never been repeated. I had got sexually involved with one of my daughter’s girlfriend’s mothers before. It was before my second marriage. She was going through a hard divorce to her violent husband and it had caused a me massive problems. I would never let sex come between me and sharing His love for others again. That is a whole other story.
So now I had my little head banger Christian to sing and pray with and a wild and crazy girl to talk about drugs and sex with. What a combination. Renee’s circle of wild friends was just who God wanted me to connect with. Between My own daughter’s straight friends and Renee’s wild friends there was Chandra and all her friends.
Not long the word was getting out to the right people. There was this sweet old Christian man to call and talk to if you needed help. My claim to fame was that I was a good listener and I would not get the cops or parents involved unless asked.
Renee would give my number to someone and they would tell someone else. Next thing I knew I was getting calls from teenagers from beer parties asking me to come pick them up. Then a call or two from crying and upset girls that just needed to talk. Like in Napa, if I got a call from someone really in trouble and I had to involve the local authorities.
They had to contact the folks back in Napa to get the scoop on this creepy old man. They found out from my children protection friends and the Napa County youth jail that I was Okay. One day a cop car parked outside my apartment. A uniformed cop knocked on the door. Okay, I’m in trouble now.
There stood a classmate from high school. With big tears rolling down her face. She asked if her wild teenage daughter could move in with me. She said if I did not take her in that she would have to kick her out into the street.
She would come by each month with the police cruiser to give me money to help support her. The local police had been keeping an eye on my place and she knew all about the runaways and over-night drop-ins.
I don’t remember her name but she was a wonderful addition to my new family of misfits. Her mother was right, she was a real handful. She had drug and alcohol issues like many teenagers. It was her hardcore boyfriends that caused most of her problems. Going to pick her up at her kind of parties was scary.
Five miles back in the woods to a secure pot growers house. Wade past the drunk and stoned party goers to collect a drunk sleeping little girl. Carry her to the car and bring her back home to tuck her into her bed next to Renee.
Then there was the little runaway that had no place to go. Usually spend a night or two and I would have been able talk them into calling their parents or just take them back home. Not this little girl, she had no parents or anyplace to go home to.
Renee and Chandra made a bed for her under my stairway. It was only a mattress and my old sleeping bag in the closet under the stairs but it was her home for the several months. She became part of the crazy half-way house of misfits. Never forget the tears running down both our faces when she graduated from alternative school with her G.E.D. It made all the rides to school over the past months so well worth it.
I had been separated for over a year at the time from my wife Shirley, from Lakeport. She had called to ask if she could come over for dinner. I agreed but it would have to be dinner at my apartment. Let me tell you; you could cut the air with a knife. She expected I would be living alone with my daughter. When she got there all three of my live-in teenage girls and a crazy Chandra wanted to cook my wife’s dinner. They made sure she never wanted to visit her estranged husband again.
One night after working a late-night car-pole accident I came home to a garage full of beer bottles and condoms. There was a traveling carnival set-up next to the hospital only a block away. I never even asked witch of my little angles had invited the carnie guys to party in my garage.
It was that kind of environment but it had several rules to follow. First never let any boys stay over and please do not walk around the house without something to cover up with. Respect me and I would show you the same respect. Keep all your sexual activity away from our safe place for everyone.
Maybe I was not still involved with Young Life friends at Napa anymore but I know I was bringing shame to my parents and family. Fort Bragg is a small town and a lot of people did not understand what was going on at my place.
It was not what was going on in my apartment that God was using me the most. Sure, providing His frightened little runaways with a safe place to crash where there was no one else or no place else was all part of it. Just like in Napa, I kept most of the phone calls and rendezvous secret even from my daughters.
Like I said the word was getting out about the loving old Christian man someone could talk to and he would just listen. Most were just all talk and listen. Some I needed to get the authorities involved and some just broke my heart to hear what some of these precious girls were going through.
Giving advice on boy trouble and social problems was simple. It was the, I’m pregnant and what do I do calls that God had brought me there for. My own experience with abortion and the love of God gave me a perfect opportunity to share with several girls and young women in trouble. There is never a simple answer to such a complex question. God never gave me a simple answer to give them either.
Every situation was different and each case had to be answered only by the little girl in trouble. Incest and rape was easy for me to advise, even it was against my hearts desire that no child of God should perish. I felt I had an oath to God to protect His little helpless babies. Still there were many other circumstances that cried out for mercy and great understanding.
God had equipped me with His heart and love for both the mother and the child. Only after allowing the Holy Spirit to work His magic would, I be able to connect with her. The frightened little girls had to trust me enough to open up and tell me all the things I needed to know before giving any advice.
Some were just too immature and young to care for a baby. A couple others had such a violent and physically abusive homes with no place to raise a baby. Some were so into drugs and alcohol there was just no simple answer. There had to more than just it’s going to be too hard and I don’t know how to raise a baby.
I would tell them that God would provide the strength and love enough to overcome so many difficulties. With my real-life experience and the love of God in my heart I would explain all the options and consequences of each as best I could. Sometimes I would meet them alone for prayer before going home with them to talk to parents. Sometime my little Christian redhead friend would come with me in Napa.
Recently I came across yet another sweet young lady that had to make that decision. She was a young and beautiful student that found herself with child. She had no job and a little girl already at home with her mother. She prayed with her loving Catholic mother and decided to keep the baby. Even though the father did not want to get married. This is a complete whole other story. Her little bundle of trouble has become the center of my life.
The motivation to write this story about my safe place was inspired by episode three of season two of the TV series, “The Chosen”. Where Mary was talking to Jesus’s friends about giving birth to Jesus. She was a frightened pregnant teenager that did not understand what was happening. She definitely did not ask to be pregnant and certainly did not want to be pregnant. Her description of how she felt giving birth to Jesus was so impactful to me.
It was not the magic miracle she had expected. There was pain and suffering. Jesus was cold and covered with birth fluids. Even the tiny baby Jesus needed his mother for life itself. This magic can be found in every mother’s love for her child.
It was clear that God wanted me to write about abortion and reach out to the pregnant teenage Mary’s out there. My life stories are not important to anyone. However, God knows my heart and love for all his children. Yes, there was a time when I was walking far away from God and yet there was times in my life, He was walking right beside me.
He has laid on my heart to tell the stories of both walks in my life to show God’s mercy and forgives He has given to me. If by writing stories that entertain and interest those outside the knowledge of His love, I could tell them about God and how much he cares for them. So, I write this story under the heading of “Religion” to reach out and directly talk about His love and mercy. Other stories He has laid on my heart are more for entertainment and romance to blend His love between the lines.
Some stories like “My Dream Playmate” was specifically to reach out to the Asian community to say I am a sinner and not just a bible thumping old man. I do not write to a large group of readers. God has heard the prayer of one little frightened and hopeless teenager in the Philippines. I do not know her name or anything about her, except that God loves her and wanted me to tell her just that.
The count of people reading my stories has only inspired me all the more. Still, I write only for the one little teenager He wants to bring comfort and love to. The life stories and testimony of a crazy old man may not interest most, just those who may never been blessed with a life like mine.
After Pam, He blessed me with a boldness not never care what others may think about my relationships with young girls. My not so secrete message to my mystery girl is simply… Find your safe place and reach out to someone that loves God for help.
Now God has taken away my ability to talk to others on the phone. Like my father I am too emotional to speak from my heart without crying and shaking like a leaf. My short-term memory issues is making it very difficult to continue to write. I don’t know how much longer He will allow me to bring His love in words to give to His little mystery girl.
Just like in Napa, I would never have been able to withstand the pressure without both Renee and Chandra’s to support and love for me. I took all my daughters and moved into a log cabin near the beach north on town. The subject of my next story.