Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Day 35 - Love in the Lingerie Store

Stuck on a different continent from her man on Valentine’s Day, Lauren was lingering over lingerie at Victoria’s Secret when she heard the sales staff giggling.

“I know it sounds a little weird,” she told me, beginning her disclaimer, “but I really was buying something for my sister when I realized the old guy causing all the raucous in the store was a well-known dentist from Shreveport. I mean, it was pretty obvious from the big, perfect smile he had going on.”

“Anyway,” she continued, now giggling herself, “he was buying lingerie for his wife’s Valentine’s present. By the time I got to the register, I heard him telling everybody how marriage is supposed to get better and better each year.”

Feeling more separated than ever, Lauren quietly slipped her selection onto the counter, hoping to escape the syrupy sermon with a quick check-out.

“I guess he saw my promise ring,” she explained, “because he asked what my man was doing for me on Valentine’s Day. When I told him Wayne was in Iraq, the guy breaks into this daddy/preacher mode and says, ‘Well, bless his heart. We’ll just pray for him right now. You do believe in Jesus, don’t you?”

“As soon as I said, ‘Yes, sir, I do,” he starts praying! Right there at the counter of Victoria’s Secret! Well, I started bawling.”

Lauren accepted the dentist’s fatherly hug as she wiped away her tears.

“You know Psalm 91?” the dentist asked. “It says, ‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ You can say of the Lord, ‘He is Wayne’s refuge and his fortress, his God, in whom you both can trust.’ Read the rest of it when you get home, and pray it over Wayne.”

Lauren’s tears flooded her cheeks again.

“That’s exactly what I was reading in my Bible this morning,” she confirmed.

“See there?” the dentist answered. “This trip to Victoria’s Secret was a divine appointment scheduled by God to give you strength and hope, and to let you know how very much He loves both you and Wayne. Happy Valentine’s Day.”