Mary Claire

Yesterday was the quintessential spring day we’ve all been eagerly awaiting. It was beautiful, sunny, relatively warm. And Mary Claire jumped at the chance to take two stinky, restless dogs for a walk in the neighborhood.

She returned much more quickly than I expected her to and said, “A man just told me that Jesus loves me. Is that the modern equivalent of offering me candy?”

I was in the midst of prepping George for soccer and sending Sam out for pizza. Her words stopped me in my tracks.


“This old dude pulled up beside me, stopped, and said ‘Jesus loves you.'”

“Where were you?” I asked.

“At the end of the street. He pulled in to the neighborhood and stopped when he saw me.”

My heart quickened.

“Did you get near his car?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I just said ‘Thanks’ and kept on walking.”

“Did the dogs bark at him?”

“No, they were too busy stalking squirrels.”

“What did he look like?”

“He was kinda old — like Dad’s age. His hair was gray, and he was in a creepy white van.”

“Was it windowless?” Sam laughed. Because he’s 17.

“No, but it had swanky blue and purple stripes down the side. He looked totally normal, Mom. I’m sure it was nothing.”

And that comment took my breath away.

He looked totally normal.

Here’s the thing, my friends. I don’t care what your intentions are, if you are a middle-aged, gray-haired man in a creepy white van, there is nothing normal about stopping to talk to my 13-year-old daughter about Jesus or anything else. Absolutely nothing. And even though I’m an open, trusting person 99.9% of the time, I know all too well that “looking normal” doesn’t offer any guarantees.

Let me repeat: There is nothing okay about a middle-aged stranger engaging my 13-year-old daughter in conversation when she’s alone.

And the scariest part is that she was walking our two giant dogs who have been known to bark peoples’ faces off. Did they not deter him?

Or did they?

Perhaps he really was just trying to spread a little Jesus love. I don’t care. You want to peddle encyclopedias? Demonstrate vacuums? Get directions? Find your lost puppy? DON’T engage my kid. Ever. Not my daughter, not my sons.

You want to evangelize? Do it at your church. Or slap a bumper sticker on your car and keep on driving.

You might be a perfectly fine human being. Or you might not. Quite frankly, I’m not interested in finding out. The police have been notified. Neither your creepy white van nor your unsolicited evangelizing is welcome here.

Stay vigilant, Mama and Papa bears. Stay awake.

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3 Responses

  1. AMEN! We have had “stranger danger” talks over and over since all of our now teens were little. But they always held the image of stranger as someone scary, creepy or monster-like. We even ran drills; what to do or say if someone you don’t know approaches you…and we still have had several times where people stopped to talk with them or ask questions. One young man even parked his car and showed them wrestling moves – RIGHT OUT IN FRONT OF OUR HOME! Did anyone run in to tell me or get me, NO, because this was some young, cool guy who knew how to wrestle. It took a neighbor calling to ask who the young man out front with her son and our kids was! Boy, did I feel like a bad mom!! We live in a town home with our garage in front of our home so I can’t look out front and see everything and this was like the one in a handful of times where I wasn’t out there with them. Thankfully, no one was harmed and the police were called. So I am right there with you in being one protective and vigilant Mama Bear!

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