December 26, 2008

Two Tiny Voices

Seven Christmases ago, my mother spent the month of December caring for a baby. The violence between his birth parents had disturbed the neighbors for long enough. The state, now his guardian, placed him in our family temporarily, just through the Christmas season until his Grandparents 2,000 miles away could prepare their home for a little one. Out of this arose a poem of hope, "Two Tiny Voices".


One tiny voice cries on throughout the night,
Amid despair and anger acted out,
'Til those outside the walls hear every shout.
Two distant hearts, in fit of rage, take flight.

Approaching sirens split the night sky.
Amid pain and confusion, voices calm
'Til soothing comes; the touch of healing balm.
In strangers arms, the babe ceases to cry.

Then, likened to a bird without a nest,
The little one stays here awhile, then there,
Instinctively desiring love. But where
Could someone without someone's love find rest?

***

One tiny voice cried on throughout the night
Amid the bits of cloth to shun the cold
And damp. For long ago in days of old,
Each innkeeper blew out his welcome light.

To think, that the Creator of the earth
Took on Himself an earthly form and face
And we beheld him, full of truth and grace.
Yet those He came to save denied his worth.

Then likened to a bird without a nest,
The King of Kings stayed here awhile, then there,
Expressing love as only God can share,
Knowing firsthand the need for peace and rest.

The unloved humbly washed His holy feet,
The palms of His hands dispelled rejection,
Our hearts lifted with the resurrection;
His compassion and love became complete.

So now, let us adore this holy Child.
Said Jesus to each one, "Come, follow Me."
I AM the poor, the longing to be free,
The weak, the helpless baby, the one defiled.

© Mrs. E. ~ 2001

"For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him."
John 3.17

December 21, 2008

Snow

"Fall on the earth."
He speaks to us.
If you could hear the thunder of His voice
And the rumbling of His mouth,
You would fall too.
(Job 37.1-6)

We fall on the earth
And it sings anew and life breaks out
Because we fell.
His word falls on your heart.
Do you sing anew and flourish?
(Isaiah 55.10)

If you wash your own hands with us
Scrubbing them with lye,
Still you will not be pure.
Still you will dread.
Still you will fear.
(Job 9.30-35)

Appearing as lightning
And clothed by us
Appears one announcing
"Do not fear.
He is Risen."
(Matthew 28.1-6)

The washing
And the purging
Are His to perform,
Are yours to receive.
A heart as pure as we are.
(Psalm 51.7)

Though you are crimson,
Stained scarlet since your birth,
He intervenes.
Restores.
And you become like us.
(Isaiah 1.18)

December 16, 2008

Northwest Culture: Just a little different

Two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came knocking on my door one Wednesday afternoon. In white shirts and ties they announced that they would soon be opening a vacuum shop down the street. They offered to clean a patch of my blue, 70's carpet with their machine. They invited me to try out their magical cleaning products.

Slowly, a realization dawned on me. These friendly chaps weren't Mormons. They were vacuum cleaner salesmen.

Growing up in the Aloha state, the only men I had ever seen wear a tie on a daily basis were lawyers and Mormons. Well Toto, we're not in Hawaii any more. Welcome to the mainland, where people dress up.

Guy 3, my little bro' from Hawaii, visited us this fall. Tromping through Seattle, somewhere between Pike's Place fish market and the space needle, a friend quietly noticed, "Guy 3's backpack is covered in pink flowers."
Aha.
Looking around, I noticed something new: Northwestern men don't wear flowers.

Luckily, 11-month-old has a limited vocabulary. Therefore, he didn't have a say in what to wear to Husband's much-anticipated Company Christmas party. It's almost as anticipated as the "Company Vacation"... but that's another story. Over his wintry garb, I dressed 11-month-old in a red and green aloha shirt (with flowers).

As we meandered through neighborhoods, looking for lights after the Christmas party, rain fell on our car. Rain danced. Rain flurried. It wasn't rain!

Back home at midnight, Husband and I tucked 11-month-old into his cozy pack 'n play and headed out to tromp circles through our snowy backyard.
I wouldn't trade this winter for the world... but I might trade a day of it for a spam musubi.



December 11, 2008

Meaning of the Darkness


Vision
by Guy 2

First you see the angel, then you notice the silhouette of a man beneath.
And next, if you were closer to the ink print, you would begin to find meaning in the black surroundings. A dragon, fire, a cross, men, buildings, a swan...
What does it mean?
Guy 2 is not sure.
Any suggestions?


© 2008
RPE
All rights reserved

December 10, 2008

Unintelligible Fun

Guy 2 graduates from U.S. Air Force boot camp this week.
Boot camp was crazy. Babysitting was crazy too.


"Okay, have fun! I'll see you whenever you get back."

The door closes, and three eager faces look at me, wondering "What're we gonna do?"

I had built up this whole babysitting thing with the cousins, and now it was time to deliver.


The Characters:

The 2-year-old: Loves to communicate in unintelligible languages urgently. I'm convinced she speaks a mixture of a South African dialect, a little French, Dutch, and then sprinkles English on top to mess with my mind. It works.

The 6-year-old: Very sharp, loves to get a kick out of something I really didn't intend to be funny, laugh hard for a good long while, then bring it up all the time. It's like I'm a smaller person than her. She's nothing above 4'2", and I'm over 6 feet. But yet I still often feel left out, or that what goes on with her is way over my head. It puzzles and intrigues me. It must be a skill.

The 8-year-old: Avid reader of anything she can get her hands on, plays piano, has bright red hair but a fairly complacent personality, loves dancing and singing above all other sports (including eating, breathing, and keeping a regular pulse). She really, really loves to dance.

Me: Older cousin and babysitter now being stared at expectantly.

"Okay girls, are you hungry? Feel like pizza?"
Their excited response was encouraging, but not enough to pull me out of my small low I'd just tripped into realizing that painfully un-original me just played the stereotypical babysitter and offered the girls pizza. It was a hard hit to take, but after a moment, I swallowed a glass of water and moved on with my life.

Over glasses of milk, chips with salsa that was too hot (the animated and over dramatized yelling that happened on the two-year-old's side of the table was a poster on the wall that said "salsa. dumb idea. she's two.") I had seen her eating it earlier that day, but unfortunately the salsa didn't make it into the long-term memory part of her brain, because the first thing she did was ignore the pizza and go right for the mild, piling it all on a single pathetic corner of a chip, and plunging into her pallet before I had an opportunity to finish praying.

"In Jesus name..."
"yaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! hot! hot! hot!" the two-year-old yells.

"Amen. Two-year-old, no more salsa. Eight-year-old, could you pass it to this end of the table so she can't reach it? Thanks."

A few moments later, I look over at 6-year-old next to me, who isn't touching her pizza. "Hey, what's going on girlie? Can I cut up your pizza for you?"

"Sheesh, I thought you'd never ask. And I'm hungry too."

Feeling pretty bad I hadn't thought of it sooner, I cut her pizza up into bite-sized pieces for her.

"Oopsies" I said, then kept cutting. "Sorry Bob. Shoulda asked you sooner 'bout that pizza."

Then up from her toes came an incredibly loud roar of laughter, and hair flew all over the table as the six-year-old threw her face onto her plate and started cracking up hardcore.

"Sorry Bob! HAHAHHHAHHAAAAAAAA! He said 'Sorry Bob!'"

Perfectly even toned, not gracing the 6-year-old with the least bit of inflection, the eight-year-old coldly responded "It wasn't funny."

Your imagination can fill in the rest of the meal, and it probably wouldn't be that far from the actual dining experience I had.

Next task at hand: clean up dinner, then decide that cleaning up dinner was very boring. So we stopped cleaning, and skipped right to the dancing portion of the evening.
Take two cups of ballet and put them in the center of the room.
Next find one egg(head), give him a guitar, and tell him that no adults are around, he can act as dumb as he likes.
Then, take three tablespoons that are totally dirty, and set them on the counter where they will be ignored as the rest of the events in the evening unfold.
Add a half cup of general noise provided by two-year-old who could care less about the Tarzan soundtrack music, if people were dancing, she was too.
Sprinkle ever so slightly a little mosh action the girls picked up somewhere...from someone else other than me who didn't teach it to them the last time I babysat...
Then douse it all with hyper-ness, bake at a million degrees for about 45 minutes, and you have...

Me getting schooled by three girls who KNOW how to dance and all together don't add up to his age.

Thankfully after the girls went to bed, I still had an hour or so of quiet, danceless time which I used to clean the areas that looked like Katrina happened twice in. It made the house look really good when I put the furniture back where it belonged.

As I slowly drifted off to sleep that night, the sounds of the 80's still ringing in my ears and my legs aching from the many times I jumped into the air purposelessly, I thought to myself...

"Did you leave the oven on?"

Sleep didn't come so easily after that, because trying to drift off again having just gone from a relaxed horizontal position to a leaping, running, stove-checking frenzy of action brought my pulse rate up in a decidedly unhealthy manner.
The stove was not left on.
Good.
But I was no longer tired.
Crap!
Oops, I'm totally not allowed to say that.
I meant "aw man!"

© 2008
By JPE



December 5, 2008

White (sock) Flag

The epic battle he fought since infancy. Today, he signed a peace treaty with his socks.

The 11 month old has a history of removing socks. 4.5 seconds flat, both feet. Never mind wet grass, rain, or sleet. No matter what.

Today, somewhere between exploring the Poulsbo boardwalk in 40 degree weather and walking on almost frozen concrete to a Viking statue, he waved the white (sock) flag in the air and called a truce.

Back in our toasty living room, he sought out his sock and sat, pressing it to his foot. After my shock wore off, I disbelievingly slid the sock onto his foot.

Step, step, step. He walked (he walked!) to the second sock, wanting it too.

He has reached peace with his socks, and is now asleep with warm toes.

December 1, 2008

2:36pm

Radiation treatment.
For her 13 year old son.
The battle with a malignant brain tumor should not have to be fought by one so young.
She knows this, and she fights to always be by his side.
Every treatment, every surgery, every anesthesia, she is there.
Until 3 weeks ago.

2 months ago another child began to grow within her.
3 weeks ago, she found out.
Now the Doctors won't let her near during radiation treatment. And her heart is torn.

She walked into Planned Parenthood at 2:36pm this afternoon. Except it wasn't.
It was different sort of place to get a pregnancy test.

The ending to Elyana's story? And her son? And her unborn child?
I don't know.
She asked her counselor to call her, but not until Friday.
By then she will know the results of the blood work and she will know how much radiation her son has to endure this year. and next year.

The poem Transportation brings my soul to this refreshing awakening.
I am simply a stretcher bearer.
And I serve the God who Knows.



Transportation

Be there to bear the stretcher
For those in need of Him.
No need to be the doctor
Or give judgments on a whim.

What people need is Jesus,
His love and healing hand,
And they need transportation.
This, then, is His command.

Mark 4
© 2001, Mrs. E.

November 28, 2008

Wal-Mart: the dirty, low-down... wait a minute

I stayed with my grandparents in small-town Arkansas this weekend, and this morning grandma and I went down to Wal-Mart for the much anticipated Black Friday madness.

We were inside the store when grandma said,

"Last year I came in here on Christmas Eve and they were playing Silent Night," she pointed up, "'Christ our savior is born!' and they were only doing it for money!"



My first reaction was, Wow, can Wal-Mart do anything right?

But then I realized how right she was. She claimed that Wal-Mart was wrong doing good because of its motive, and that idea carries over to all of mankind.

Our motives transform any redeeming qualities we have into something despicable. We are hypocritical and decieve ourselves when we do what is right without the right reason. What is the right reason?

Hebrews 11:6
Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

November 27, 2008

Thankful for Crayons

This week
1 rebuke from a close friend
+ 1 emergency room visit
+ 2 Work days that lasted well into the dark
+ 2 Miscommunications over Thanksgiving plans
= 1 downright surly Thanksgiving morning

A non-almondine green bean casserole loomed in the oven. A two-toothed 10 month old snarfed green beans from his cheerio encrusted high chair. I tried green beans for breakfast. They didn't agree with me. Husband opted out of the green bean trend and boycotted breakfast. Neither he nor I became more amiable.

Until...
Until we sat, each of us on the floor.
Sat around butcher's paper, each armed with 2 crayons.
10 month old enjoyed the non-toxicity of Crayola while husband and I paused...
to scribble,
To name the things that make our hearts cry to God in Thankfulness.
"Almost 4 years with the wife of my youth"
"Mount Rainier"
"A job, a place to live, and a church in 1 month"
"My parents' 25 years of marriage"
"Our son"...
and we agreed on the highlight of our list:
"Jesus gives our lives meaning"

The cheerio encrusted high chair has yet to be cleaned and we lost a crayon in the process, but it is well with my soul.




November 23, 2008

Worship Redefined

This is what I did to worship God in my quiet time today.
Took pictures of his critters.

~ Guy 2

















Pictures © 2008
All Rights Reserved

Today I Swore



Today I made one of the biggest commitments of my life.

Barring my decision to accept Christ or my upcoming baptism... it was the most sincere thing I've ever done.

I swore with my right hand raised, repeating these words after a retired Lt. Colonel of the Army, and I joined the United States Air Force Reserve.

"I, ~~~ , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." 

Ever since I was in Junior High I'd imagined myself in the Air Force, even when I didn't really want to do it in college.
Out of college and working various jobs, it looked like the Air Force Reserve could help me get back on track with my life and help me meet my goals of becoming an E.R. Nurse.
And it would be an opportunity for me to serve my country for six years.

Six years.
I've never committed to anything for that long before.

But more than anything else, today as I sat and signed papers stating that my life insurance policy was five hundred thousand dollars, and it would all go to my Dad; as I decided that my emergency contact was my Dad, and that in the event of any kind of death, accidental or in the line of duty, my Dad would get all my possessions and my last paycheck... five words choked me up.
Five words that I never signed below, five words that never appeared on paper.

But it was these five words that caused my hand to be steady, my words to remain clear, and my heart to beat against my chest as I spoke the pledge.

"I'm proud of you son."

© JE, 2008


Guy 1 penned this two months ago, now he's one month into boot camp.



November 17, 2008

1 four-legged creature, 1 startled counselor

Two construction workers lumbered through the glass doors of the pregnancy resource center today. One looked fifty-five, with long hair. The other looked sixty, with long hair and a beard.

"Here to deliver the door, ma'am."

As they walked through the accounting room carrying their 40 lb. burden, another visitor walked through. The center's counselor-on-call hovered between the front desk and the door "Is this... someone's dog?"

"Oh. Yep, that's her all right. Sorry about that. She's friendly enough, but she sheds a bushel."

"I see." [awkward pause] "Maybe she's here for a pregnancy test?"

"No ma'am. This dog will never be pregnant."

November 16, 2008

November 14, 2008

Breaking News Update

Breaking News Update:

The 10 month old may be a genius. He says two words. Sometimes.
The first word is "tickle."
The other word is "Daddy."

When tickled, he sometimes spontaneously begins chanting, "Ti-ko, ti-ko, ti-ko..."

1 day later:

The 10 month old may no longer be a genius. He seems confused about sentient and non-sentient beings. There is evidence that 10 month old thinks his stuffed seal puppet, "Furry", is alive. There is also evidence that he thinks he himself is a stuffed seal.
On the Amtrak train to Portland, 10 month old chanted "Ti-ko" while tickling the train window. The train window didn't laugh. 10 month old was surprised.

3 days later:

Socks are designed to keep both feet warm in 40 degree rain. 10 month old appears not to understand this concept. He keeps one sock on his left foot at all times, and the other sock in his mouth. This picture snapped in the 10 second interval between socks on both feet and sock on only left foot.




4 days later:
Have come to this conclusion: Am indeed grateful that 10 month old's value doesn't come from his potential ability or intelligence. Glad his value comes from being made in the image of God. Also glad for the invention of footy pajamas.

November 11, 2008

Bring on the Rain

Autumn awed me. To my inexperienced tropical mind, it was a sunset that lasted 29 days.
Now the sunset has fallen; Let the northwesterly rain commence!

"Well, you're gonna hate the winters here." My neighbor confidently confides.
"Come about February, we all just get to wanting to kill ourselves." Husband's co-workers claim.
"Not me. I just want to kill other people." Husband's ex-marine co-worker says.

Husband got off work early today! It was already dark.
This is strange indeed.

Strategy #1: Christmas lights.
No obnoxious hollow Santa... just twinkling, cheery, a bit too early Christmas lights.

Strategy #2: Candle.

Strategy #3: Hot tea.

Strategy #4: Bright pictures of the whole wide world tacked above the kitchen sink.
Of sunny places where people need Jesus.
And I will pray for Bobbie Jo in India, Marie in the middle east, James and Vangie
in Kenya, and children in East Timor (know a missionary there? tell me!)

Strategy #5: Hike (walk, explore, spelunk) in spite of the drizzle.
Almost 1-year-old is taking this advice to heart and trying to walk.

Strategy #6: Build amazing gutter system.
Water runs down gutter, flows down staircase, runs along smooth ledge,
ripples over copper, covers river rocks, then drains into small garden bed.
Husband thinks this project should wait until next year.




Over Thanksgiving weekend, husband plans to camp in the rain. This will give he and a friend the opportunity they've been waiting for to hone their "starting fires in the frigid rain" skills. They will be prepared with waterproof matches in a waterproof case, a lighter, Swedish fire starter (the preferred term for flint), Odwalla bars, and backpacks full of survival gear.
Fires will start and fish will die.

Any girls want to come hide from the rain with me? (tea, Christmas lights, and board games provided)

November 6, 2008

Bounty of the Destitute

Girl 1 skips around in books... you know the type: the ones who can't get through the first chapter, jump to the middle and scan through the long paragraphs, -and the greatest atrocity of all- read the last few pages before they've earned the right.


When, at the ripe old age of 7, I began naming my future children, meanings mattered.
Amy means "loved".
Amanda means "she who must be loved".
Sarah means "Princess".
Kathryn means "Pure".
Nicole means "Victory of the People".
The most common meaning of my name is ridiculous. Moving right along.
The other meaning of my name is "house of poverty". My seven year old heart gave a sigh.

My Utmost for His Highest
invited me to jump inside and read for these few quiet minutes as my 3/4 year old sleeps like a stink bug with his bottom in the air and his arm twisted upside-down. I couldn't read today's entry (I read that yesterday). On to the obvious choice... my birthday!
God spoke to my soul of the "Bounty of the Destitute".

The Gospel of the grace of God awakens an intense longing in human souls and an equally intense resentment, because the revelation which it brings is not palatable. There is a certain pride in man that will give and give, but to come an accept is another thing. I will give myself in consecration, I will do anything, but do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest blessing spiritually is the knowledge that we are destitute; until we get there Our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us if we think we are sufficient of ourselves; we have to enter into His Kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are rich, possessed of anything in the way of pride or independence, God cannot do anything for us. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the essential nature of God is made effectual in us by the Holy Spirit; He imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus, which puts "the beyond" within, it rises up to "the above", and we are lifted into the domain where Jesus lives (John 3:5).
by Oswald Chambers

I have felt the resentment of pride. I have stood on the false, rotten floorboards of independence. But today I only want to feel destitute. To open the windows of my house of poverty and let the Son stream in and warm my toes and fill my hunger for Him.








November 5, 2008

Furry with Salt

As you exercised your American freedoms yesterday at the ballot box, Guy 1 strenuously exercised with little freedom. He's surviving boot camp.
Here's a post he wrote last year.


Returning a large french fries to the manager behind the McDonald's counter, I politely explained "I'm so sorry, but these french fries were really, really salty."
"How salty were they?" she responded. (I like to think she was trying to gauge the damage her product might have wreaked on my poor hungry tummy.)

"Furry with salt" I carefully responded, so she would know just how salty they were.
"I'll bring you out new fries in a sec'."
"Thanks!"

Approximately ten minutes later, she walked over to my table.
"Here are your fries, sir. I made them, then stirred them with only the salt that was left over from our last batch, so I hope they're not too furry this time."
She placed the overflowing triangular box on my tray, then stepped back and waited expectantly.
Then, my greatest performance.
I took a fry, placed it delicately in my mouth, bit, chew, and swallowed. Careful to keep my expression pleasantly suprised, I said happily "tastes great! Thanks again!"
She smiled and walked back behind the food service door to continue making fries.
After she had left, I did the only thing I could.

I added more salt.

© JPE 2007

October 29, 2008

Her Son

A bag.
The bag holds clothes
for her grandson,
the son of her son.

Her son, the one who found out she was pregnant
the day after dad left,
his dad.

That was the day she cried
not in the arms of a strong man
cried with her son,
tears he shouldn't have seen.
He was a year shy of eleven then,
her son.

Do I write this story
because I want to?
I write it because I am compelled.

That was the day she decided
She must end the child's life
within her.


Her son,
the ten year old son who shouldn't have known all this was happening,
did know.
And he set down his Lego blocks
and told his mom she had to keep the baby.
When she explained why she couldn't (which took a little while, because she was a grown-up)
he insisted,
"I'm gonna help you, mom. So that's how you can keep the baby."

The bag is slung over her shoulder.
In it, a Power Rangers jacket and warm socks for her grandson.
"So when I called the hotline,
well, that's how I met Helen,
Thanks again for the clothes and..."
Interrupted by the ring of a pop song
"That's her now."
Her now.
The sister of her son.
Her daughter
Who is 13, and beautiful,
and alive.



October 27, 2008

A Glance Inward can be Disgusting

You've got to be joking. I was going to be late again.

So frustrating.

Not forgetting to make sure my clothes matched, my teeth were brushed and my hair wasn't looking like Amy Winehouse when she first wakes up, I floored it through the kitchen, down the steps, out the door and onto the freeway.
Traffic.
On a Sunday morning.
Of course.

Let's just paraphrase the next few minutes by saying the person driving my car wasn't happy, feeling worshipful, or honoring to God.
In fact I was quite angry.
I made lots of sarcastic and cutting comments under my breath to no one in particular as I looked for a creative way to make a fifteen minute drive into a seven minute drive.
Instead, I was able to make it just under twenty minutes.

It was that premature left turn to "shortcut" what I thought was construction.
Whatever.
Pulling into my carefully chosen parking stall, yanking t
he e-brake and jumping out, not forgetting my bible and my smile, I strode quickly to the front door.
Finally.
Church.
Yes.

"Good morning!"
It looked like he was sincere. I bet he had the same crappy morning I did.
"Good morning, how are you?"
"I'm great! Welcome, need a bulletin?"
I thought about it. Was I standing in front of him, expectantly staring at the stack of papers he held at waist level?
Yes.
"Sure, I'd love a bulletin! Thanks!"

Walking inside to where the worship music was already playing, I chose a seat that was two spaces away from the people on either side.

Room to breathe.
Wow.
What a morning.
God, I'm so sorry that I'm so frustrated.
I'm here, I made it, and here I am, opening myself to you.

I sang, and closed my eyes.

I listened and prayed along with the speaker.
He spoke, and I mentally noted many of the points that he made.
I took the sermon to heart.
And I opened my heart to the scriptures that were read.

Then the communion worship song began.

As I closed my eyes and turned my focus inwardly, I was interrupted by the slam of a chair as someone right behind me stood up suddenly.
Turning my head slightly, I caught a glimpse of someone.
What. The. Heck.

She looked to be in her late forties, maybe early fifties.
Her hair was matted, oily, and she was wearing baggy sweatpants and a massive t-shirt that bore the proud crest of Corona.

She stumbled into another chair, banging her knee into it. It became quickly apparent that she was either drunk or her equilibrium was suffering from nonexistence.
She was drunk.
Completely distracted by this woman, I watched as she staggered down the middle of the aisle.
Then to my surprise she turned to her right and complimented a young woman on her beautiful child.

I involuntarily shook my head.

What was happening? Who let this woman in?
I mean, this is church, we're here to minister to people like that, but why was she allowed to just do whatever in the middle of the service.
My judgmental and abhorrently Pharisee-like mind attacked this woman in the moment, before I even realized what was going on.

She made her way to the communion table and reached for the bread.
Her filthy, grimy hands ripped off a piece and she crossed herself in front of three hundred people in a Protestant church.

Then she started munching on a portion that would have made two sandwiches.
I stared shamelessly.

Appearing seemingly out of nowhere, someone two rows back from the front stepped into the aisle, walked to the woman's side, and picked up the remainder of the loaf, grabbing the two other loaves that were on the table.

I watched as she gave the homeless woman a huge hug.
Then she stepped back, handed her all the bread that had been on the table, and put an arm around her shoulder, guiding her to the back of the church.


God, how selfish am I?
I'm so, so sorry that I do not respond in a manner that reflects the heart of Your Son.
My mind reeled with the immensity of what just occurred in front of me, shattering my comfort zone and ripping apart who I say I am to reveal who I actually am.

God, take my heart away from me.
I want to be someone who moves on the wings of your Holy Spirit, no longer held captive in the talons of my own vicious self-centered heart.

Make me someone who will never, ever throw down such disgusting condescension on those who deserve your love and grace just as much as I do.
May I never again narrow haughty eyes in glances that condemn those you gave your life for.

When we had finished the communion song and were sitting back down again, I cleared my eyes enough so that they weren't so blurry and looked behind me to the back of the auditorium.

There sat the homeless woman on a chair, eating her bread happily and talking with the woman.
.. ... ..

"Take me into the Holy of Holies, take me in by the blood of the Lamb.
Take me into the Holy of Holies, take the coal, touch my lips, here I am."

© 2008, J.P.E.


October 25, 2008

Candy Party

It is the time of year for Christian families to again re-evaluate their position on celebrating - or lack of celebrating - Halloween.

Grand ol' trick or treating?
Harvest Festivals?
Reformation Day?
Turn out the lights, pretend we're not home, and play board games by the fireplace?

This year, our church opted for a Costume Party that doubles as a fundraiser for the local Crisis Pregnancy Center.  

A friend publishes this memo each year to explain the reasoning behind such celebrations:




October 10, 2008

College: Just Plane Wierd

Guy 2 is loving his first semester of college.
His little brother writes occasionally... under duress.




"Dear Guy 2,
Happy Un-birthday to you!
How are you today? I am doing fine.
Mom said I had to write this to you and not Girl 2, so I am.
I just finished math. That is why I am writing this right now.
Is college fun or is it just plane wierd?
Do you have a fun proffessor? Does he teach you algebra three or four?
Love, Guy 3"




September 12, 2008

Nature's Whisper... yum.

My son - eight months old with gusto - likes to lick the wall. He has access to all the cheerios and applesauce mixed with mashed peas that his little heart desires, but he still likes to lick the wall. That semi-gloss (or is it satin), textured, "Nature's Whisper" white rental-duplex paint is his second-favorite thing to lick. His favorite thing to lick is the toilet. When I once committed the mortal mommy sin of glancing away for an instant to wash a fork he found his way to the toilet base. Guess it feels cool on his little tongue on a northwest summers day. In the midst of such discoveries, a poem by my Mom reminds me to pray for this great and mighty man.

Every Great and Mighty Man

Every great and mighty man,

Each man accomplishing so much,

Displaying his artistic touch,
Inventing wheel or tool or crutch,

Every great and mighty man,
Each man who dares be first on wings,
Expressing wonder as he sings,
Maintaining, honing, fixing things,

Every great and mighty man,

Each man who tills his field of wheat

Preparing food for friends to eat,
Encouraging whome'er he meet,


Every great and mighty man,

Each man who breathes,
each man who lives

Began with what his mother gives

Each mighty man was born.
What great and mighty man is this
Who nestles safely in your womb?
And making his appearance soon
Be nurtured with the rising moon?

Upon your breast and in your care

He will be wholly contented there.
Could greatness be in one so fair?
What great and mighty man is this?

© 1997, Mrs. E.

September 11, 2008

Talisman of Power to Wichita Kansas

Guy 2 started college this fall. Between a more than full load of freshman classes, a phone-a-thon job asking alumni for money and listening to their sob stories, a graphic design job figuring out how to make the college newspaper look way cooler than last year, midnight till 4am games of Texas hold'em, and microwaving frozen lumps of spaghetti sent by Grandma, he rarely calls. That's why we're glad he writes... so we'll know what he's thinking.


John Brown University is home to a talisman of great power. Three times a day, hundreds, if not thousands of students and faculty make the pilgrimage through the café to catch a glimpse of its marvelous power. The conveyor belt may be small and unassuming, but it has a unique characteristic. Plates, cups, chicken bones, power aid, half finished mostly melted ice-cream sundaes with two spoonfuls of chocolate topped with nuts and cherries all slathered in ketchup; all these and more are loaded on and sent chugging down the belt and into a portal. Where the portal goes is a mystery. Does it open into the cold of deep space? Does it warp to the clammy depths of the ocean? Antarctica? Midway? Wichita Kansas? Some say that there are a hundred gnomes that stand up on tiptoe to grab the load, wash it all, and carry it back to the café, listening to rock music and shining it with their beards as they go. The next day, clean plates, cups, and utensils show up in the café and a thousand souls make the pilgrimage once more.

I have always been curious; how does a material-dimensional portal transmit sound? Maybe you should try sometime: say thank you through the portal and listen for the gnomes.

September 9, 2008

AbsUlutely

A guest post by the one who instigated this whole staying-up-till-2-in-the-morning-writing-furiously habit, our mom.


AbsUlutely
(with U in the middle, something seems wrong)

The earth is round.
But if you say 
The earth is flat,
Well, that's o.k.

And two plus two 
Is four, unless
Your view of it
Is more... or less.

And apples may fall 
On your head,
But some apples
Fall up, I've read. 

And did you hear
That water'll freeze,
Now and then,
At twelve degrees?

Oops, Did I 
Mispel a werd?
Aw, that's alrite,
The thawt waz herd.

No imputation 
Need I make
Because I believe
A mistake.

I just try hard, and
That's enough.
I sometimes quit
When life gets rough.

And there are times
When I am right
To lie, to cheat,
To steal, to fight.

For after all,
When life is o'er,
I win, because
I keep the score.

It simply is
The natural end
When absolutes
Begin to bend.

For when the truth
Is set aside,
The first guest to 
Arrive is pride.

When pride convenes
With human reason,
Justice becomes
What is pleasing.

Lust and logic,
Hand in hand,
Construct a life-house
On the sand.

In knowing what 
Is right or wrong,
We cannot trust
The human song.

Good and evil,
Wrong and right,
Still battle on
Throughout the night.

Yet don't forget;
The victory's won
O'er the lie
That Satan spun.

The truth is not
In me, you see,
But rather in
The Trinity.

Absolutes
Are only found
Where Grace and Truth
Share common ground.

Reality is
Soft of voice.
The truth demands
Only one choice.

The time will come
When God will say,
"What have you done
With My Son today?"

He who caused
The earth to be,
Who loves each one
Eternally,

He spoke.  It was.
And it was good.
He is the "I am."
Understood?

© 1995, Mrs. E. 


September 4, 2008

Keep Her on the Line

"Hi, could I schedule an abortion?"

Deep breath.
I'm supposed to have a well thought through response to this, but I don't.
Keep her on the line. Keep her on the line.
It's the mantra running through my thoughts.
Keep her on the line.

Short, power-packing words dance by.
"Rape."
"I was drunk."
"My husband doesn't know."

Stories. I tell stories... about my friend Lina* who has a pair of deep blue baby pajamas hanging on her bedroom wall to remind her why she's living in a cramped apartment downtown, sent away from her parents' home, kicked out of her boyfriend's house... and Lina knows her little Blazen will be worth it.

Adoption. I talk about adoption...
"Oh, no" Resolution in an otherwise quivering voice, "I could never do that to my child"

But mostly, I just listen.
Not the patient listening of a wise, removed counselor.
The frantic, praying, pleading listening of one who doesn't know which words will hurt and which words will bring tiny shreds of hope.

Every idea is a step onto melting ice. If she listens, I take another step out, feeling my way with numb, shaking toes. If she pulls away with her words, I...
Deep breath.
I'm supposed to have a well thought through response to this, but I don't.
Keep her on the line.

"I just want to save my marriage. Marriages are supposed to last longer than a year, right?"
"I lost a baby at 2 1/2 months last year, and my husband is still upset about that.
"I just want to save my marriage. I just want to save my marriage."

Would she come in to the pregnancy resource center to talk more?
Not a chance.

Would she like to meet for coffee somewhere? Just hang out after work tonight?
And texts flew back and forth from my little flip-phone to a satellite in space to her little flip-phone. And a few awkward phone calls interrupted loads of laundry. And when we met for dinner one week later she told me how excited her little brother is to be an 8 year old uncle and how the ultrasound picture pinned on the office bulletin board looks like a gummy bear. And the sense that I am just a bystander watching the hand of God at work washes gloriously over my soul.

Sometime I'll write about the next time the telephone rang. I'll write about Ashley* who demanded an ultrasound to see if she was "too far along" to rid herself of the baby. Apparently 4 months along wasn't too far, for her baby disappeared last week Wednesday.

But not today. Today I'll write from a rejoicing heart about the beating heart of a single baby.


*Names changed for privacy.

How are You? I'm Snuffy.

Dear Aunt G (girl 3),

How are you? I'm snuffy. Mommy's snuffy too. Are you snuffy?
Even though I'm snuffy I still like to get inta stuff. Today my favorite stuffs to get into are... ummmm... the computer cord, and the computer, and the kitchen. I'm not disposta go in the kitchen, but I just go anyways. Me an' my lizard. Mommy keeps sayin, "You and your lizard get out of the kitchen!" but I just grin. 'Cause I'm cute. Cute and snuffy. The lizard doesn't grin 'cause he's made of plastic. But he would if he could.
So, do you like bein' on a big trip? Do you have to stay strapped in your carseat the whole time? Do they give you Cheerios? Oh wait, I forgot, you're a grown-up. Sort of.
Mommy wants to know where you are in the Bible readin'. She's in Exodus 6.
When you get here I wanna read stories with you, and eat stories with you, and eat Cheerios with you, and show you my cheesy monkey-face, and, ummmmm, we could go in the kitchen!?

love,
Half-year old

August 28, 2008

Babies are Weird

The half-year old, who is now 7 1/2 months wiser than the day he was born, was introduced to Cheerios yesterday. It was one of those, your-baby-food-is-defrosting-and-you're-hungry-NOW moments. I placed a Cheerio in his mouth. With minimal gagging and sputtering, the sport of Cheerio eating had begun.

Later in the evening, I, in a moment of wild freedom, snuck (yes, my spell-check insists on "sneaked", but as I am human, and my spell checker is not, "snuck" remains) out the door, childless, into the wide world to buy cheese. While I was gone, Husband coached half-year old and the art was perfected. Half-year old now ranks in the "professional" category for Cheerio eaters... as far as chewing and swallowing go.

Getting the Cheerio into his mouth on his own is another matter. He picks Cheerios off his tray with ease. And stares at them. And tosses them between his fingers. And forgets about them. Not so with leaves, airsoft bb's, bugs, and other bits of foreign matter he finds hiding in the carpet. If there's a tiny dead beetle 20 feet away from half-year old, he pinpoints its location instantly (How... smell? Sonar?), makes a beeline for the nasty creature, picks it up in one fell swoop, and slaps it in his mouth without any hesitation. And yet, he can't pick a cheerio up from his tray and get it to its destination. Maybe I need to smush cheerios and leave them strewn about the carpet.

As my mother-in-law aptly pointed out over skype, half-year old just might fit in well in rural Kenya. Ants over Cheerios any day.

August 20, 2008

1-Upper

Sometimes, I honestly hate true stories. This is one of them.

His name is Kenneth.
He's worked in the Post Office for eight years, the Military for twenty-five, and the FAA for five years.
I know all this because he told me.

Kenneth is a "1-Upper."
Everything anyone tells him, he has heard, seen, done, or smelled before.
Case in point:

Jamie- "Whoa. I went to bed at like midnight last night, then had to get up at 4:45am to come to work this morning. I'm exhausted."

Kenneth- "I woke up at 3:30am this morning and just didn't go back to sleep ever."

Jamie- "Oh."

*Pause.
*More pause-yness.

Later.

Jamie- "Weird. They're using only push-backs to move the aircraft out."

Kenneth- "I know. When I was in the Military, we didn't do it like that at all. We used Electro's, and...blah blah blah....more blah blah blah...

*Pause.
*Heavy breathing.
*Counting to ten.
*Somewhere someone in Asia is brushing their teeth.

Later.

Kenneth- "Did you know that they way they use their baggage carts here at Skywest is different than we used to use with our old prop planes?"

Jamie- *Blinks.

Kenneth- "Sure. What we'd do is we'd blah blah blah....blah blah....more blah."

Jamie- *Retreats to happy place located in a black hole somewhere.

*Silence at last.

I try hard to think of something he hasn't done before. Surely there is no way on earth -even if he was in the Military- he has ever sat in the cockpit of a B-1 Bomber.
What are the odds of that?
Very, very slim. Any other plane, whatever. I don't care. There's no way in heck he's ever sat in the cockpit of a B-1 Bomber. It's way to specific. Not even if he was in the FAA.
Take this, llama nest egg-stealer meanie.

So I tried it, and it worked.

Jamie- "When I was a little kid, my Dad took me up in the cockpit of a B-1 Bomber and I touched some of the controls and moved a couple of knobs when he was checking out the bomb bay in the back."

Kenneth is quiet for a moment. I totally have him. There is no way he could beat this.
I sat in the cockpit of a B-1 Bomber when I was a little kid. And I moved some of the controls around.
Ha.
Ha.
Ha.

A moment later, and I found myself grabbing a monkey-wrench and tearing into the side of a brick building with all the wrath and fury I could muster in my wrecked, destroyed little body.
The air grew smoky with cement dust as I savagely released pent-up frustration.

"Wow. I used to build those."


© J.E., September 2007

August 16, 2008

Friends Think He's Mad

A man's retiring
3 sons
Wife of his youth
Life full and complete
+ God steps in
Working overtime
Friends think he's mad
Days trapped in a windowless cell
...A fresh start for humanity


-----
A man's getting rich
Living near family
In a beautiful land
The American Dream
+ God steps in
No place to call home
Famine
Strangers eying his wife
...All nations blessed through his obedience

-----

A girl's engaged
A quiet life
Preparing to be
The wife of a carpenter
+ God steps in
An unplanned child
A relationship threatened
A forced move
...Jesus Christ is born

August 15, 2008

We Just have to Take the Grace


August, 1981
"Quicherbellyachin E." threatens to toss the young bride into the swimming pool next to the wedding reception hall.
The groom and bride slip away, their faces aching from too many smiles.

-----

1981-1985
A smörgåsbord of construction jobs, college classes, selling strawberries, antiques... anything

-----

1985-1990
My first memories of you flicker in. It's "cowboy Bob" (now I know it was really just Daddy) dressed in a cowboy hat - come all the way from the wild west just to visit me.

-----

Oct, 1990
A small amount of American cash, a telephone number, a business plan, and God's leading. You were on the plane to Hawaii only 2 weeks after deciding to start the business.

-----

1990 - 1998
McDaddy's breakfast on Saturday mornings. Daddy-Daughter dates to have tea or attend a George Winston concert. Building go-karts. Long rides to and from jobs in Hilo full of conversations, "So, now that you're nine years old... have you thought about the type of man you might marry someday?"

-----


This theme recurs over and over through my memories: You love Mom. Every year, all the kids were farmed out to family and friends while you and mom snuck away. A voice was often heard bellowing in tune through the house, " I love my wife."

-----

February 1998
You left the Big Rock for the City Isle. Dozens of employees, late night inventories, managing managers, T-R-A-F-F-I-C: this so your own dad could retire.

-----

1998 - 2008
Dad, you work harder than almost anyone I know.
Even when you're sitting at your desk, surrounded by papers, and screens, and a day-planner the size of Texas, and a water jug only slightly smaller than the day-planner, and two co-workers that are helping you solve a problem, and pressure to complete a task for Corporate, and telephone rings from track work customers who urgently need... even then, I never hesitated to walk into your office. I knew you'd set it aside to talk with me, 'cause I'm your daughter and you love spending time with me.

-----

I have a vivid memory Mom sending me in to talk with you. There was an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had done something deserving grounding for 75% of the rest of my life. Funny, now I don't even remember what the something was. What I remember was your response. "O.k.... (pause too painful for words) I'm going to offer you grace. That means you don't have to pay for what you did." It seemed so wrong. I wanted to pay, to make it right somehow, to be miserable for a while for the thing I'd done. But you explained that Jesus, God's Son dying on the cross, offered us grace. We can't pay off our sin of ignoring God and going our own way... we just have to take the grace.

-----

Thank you for loving Mom. Thank you for working hard. Thank you for showing me Jesus.

August 5, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

I don't know what to think,
You're God
.....
Yet You chose to come and die for me.
You took great pains to let me see.
I turned away,
But still You say,
Come back, come back to Me.
.....
Since I am a human beast,
I say, "No, no: let me feast
Here on my shame,
There on my blame.
You're the beauty, I'm the beast."
.....
I must cause You pain and grief;
My visits to Your door are brief.
I've done bad things,
But still You sing,
"You're Mine, I took your grief."
.....
"I took your burdens and your sorrow,
I'll take them again today and tomorrow.
Give Me your will,
It's a weary mill
Turning slowly around your sorrow."
.....
Give Me your soiled and dirty gown;
I'll trade: My white for brown.
It will never stain.
This, you will gain,
I will see you, Beautiful, in My shining gown."
.....
I think I've come to understand,
There's no way that I can withstand.
I am giving up my sin,
Saying I can't win.
.....
Now relief is replaced by belief,
As I hear my God and Savior say...
.....
"You are MY beauty,
I will take the beast.
Yes, and I'm still here,
Come back,
Come back to Me."

.....
© D.E., June 2008

July 29, 2008

How I Ended Up on the Other Side of the World... Without a Diaper Bag

I used to despise overhearing mothers discuss their babies bowel movements. That was then, this is now. On Saturday, I called my friend Jesse, who lives over 2,000 miles away with an urgent - you guessed it - baby poop question. So if this has become such an important part of my life, how did I end up on the other side of the world without the diaper bag?

It all started with the missing lawnmower. When we recently became the proud tenants of of a duplex that has a yard full of dandelions, I spent 3.5 hours weeding a 1' x 2' patch. I had some profound thoughts about the importance of Jesus pulling sin out of our lives from its very roots... and decided we needed a way to mow those dandelions. Somewhere out there was a lawnmower with our name on it. We just needed to find it and buy it.

Simple solution: Drive less than 4 miles to Wal-Mart and purchase a lawnmower. I could hear the Farmers voices subliminally echoing through the recesses of my mind, "The Farmers never pay full price." Simple solution vetoed. Look out craigslist, here I come.

Option A: Drive a mere 30 miles to the bellybutton of nowhere to pay almost full price to a respectable farmer for an almost new lawnmower.
Option B: Drive east (ooooo, I'm using "mainland language") 6 miles, embark on a ferry, meet an unknown entity on the other end, and buy his cheap lawnmower.
Yep. Option B.

Unknown entity (sounds like a big black guy) says, "Well, I could meet you in about an hour at the ferry docks, but no later."
"Sure." I reply calmly. - hang up - "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

Snatch up half-year old.
Husband and I leap into the car.
30 seconds gained by using remote for automatic garage door opener (thank you, husband).
Drive west to ATM. Drive east to ferry docks. Park as ferry is about to leave.
I grab the "stuff" and the baby, Husband pays for parking.
Run down the ferry ramp (half-year old thought this was hilariously funny).

Ah, triumph. I feel the wind in my hair as I taste the salt spray and watch an island of evergreens float by. I love ferries, and summer in the northwest, and my family, and I... just forgot the diaper bag.

We step off the ferry in suburbia and walk right past our lawnmower. The big black guy phone voice was actually a little white guy. Go figure. We find ourselves on the ferry docks with a lawnmower, stroller, half-year old badly needing a diaper change, and 1.5 hours to kill. I thought it would be hilarious if husband pushes the lawnmower while I push the stroller in our search for civilization (aka diapers), but a ferry-angel locks the lawnmower in a storage closet for us instead.

One mile later, we find Joe's , a restaurant that changes it's theme and menu every quarter. Guess what Joes current theme and menu is? Hawaii! Discovery: poke made in the northwest does not taste like poke made in Hawaii. Here, I also spot a family with 2 babies... and where there are babies, there are diapers.

This picture compliments of the ferry ride home.


Now I have a memory, a lawnmower, and a diaper in my purse.

July 28, 2008

When a Dim Light Goes Out


Reaching to the back seat, she handed a Kleenex to the diapered and runny-nosed boy that sat calmly in his car seat, nasal discharge flowing down his upper lip.
"Here Aiden, use it please. No, no! Don't throw it. Now, here's another one. I want you to wipe your nose just like I showed you. You're a big boy, you can do it. Good job Aiden, now you have a clean face again! You're such a big boy! Now hand Mommy the Kleenex, thank you sweetheart.

Smiling and kicking his feet against the seat, Aiden's bright hazel eyes looked out the window in constant desire for toddler stimulation. Watching the trees pass by, he suddenly yelped "Mommy! Mooooooooo!"

Glancing to her left, Christine saw the cows her son had picked out from the vast expanse of greenery. "That's right, those are cows! What do the cows say Aiden?"
This time his response was even more passionately delivered. "Moooooooooooooooooooooooo!

"Aiden, be quiet. I'm reading. You don't hafta say 'Mooooooooooooooooooo', you can just say 'moo',” a disgusted voice announced, “That's what the cows say anyways.”

Hiding a smile, Christine corrected her oldest son.
"Chevelle, your brother is learning, and its important you don't correct him. That's my job, I'm the Mom. What's your answer?"
Less than enthusiastic, Chevelle answered with the well-practiced disdain of a seven year-old boy. "Yes Moth-er."

Almost immediately forgetting the incident, Chevelle looked outside and noticed that something was different. "Hey Mom? Where's Old Tiny Tim?"

Taking full advantage of the red light, Christine scanned the freeway underpass that they passed by on their way to and from school each day. The crippled, stinky homeless man they called "Old Tiny Tim" was nowhere to be found.

He was always there with his cane identical to the one in the boys' Christmas Story movie, holding a sign at the intersection that said "Anything helps.", waving a blistered, dark-brown, leathery hand at the vehicles that passed him by. Several times Christine had given him something... a handful of change collected from her husband's pockets while doing laundry, some produce, or a box of canned fruit. Each time he received the gifts with a "Thank you ma'am, God bless."

Strange, he had been at that particular corner every school day for the last four years.
"I don't know honey, maybe he's gone to eat or take a nap. It is really hot outside."

As the SUV began to move at the bidding of the green light above, Chevelle answered slowly.
"No Mom, he always has his mat in the shade over there by the fence, remember? He hasn't been there all week. I wonder if Old Tiny Tim's okay."
With a roll of her eyes, Christine responded, "Okay, tonight when Aunt Joann comes over to play games with you Dad and I will see if we can find him before our date. How does that sound?”
More than thoroughly satisfied that the situation was in good hands, Chevelle responded,
“We'll be playing Monopoly. Only Aiden hasta' be on Aunt Joann's team this time. Last time he swallowed the car - my piece."
Christine laughed quietly to the windshield. They were quite the family.

Pulling out of the driveway that night, Christine filled her husband in on the events of the day.
"We'll just go to the corner he's always at, and if he's not there still, we'll try downtown." Guess there would be no movie this week.

Fifteen minutes later they left Old Tiny Tim's intersection. Five minutes after that, they took the downtown exit, discussing which streets they should cruise, possible homeless shelters to visit, and whether this was just a waste of time. In the following hours, their perspective changed drastically.

They drove slowly down back streets perpendicular to alleys where dozens of homeless slept each night. As the SUV cruised slowly through downtown, young men and not-so-young men wearing huge jeans stood in the shadows or next to their classic pimped-out vehicles, shop owners swept dirt out their back doors, and massive, bald, suited men guarded the entrances to minor-prohibited establishments, but not a homeless person was to be found. The discarded mattress city below the freeway overpass was completely vacant.

Christine's initial concern turned first to worry, then an unsettling uneasiness, then alarm as street after lonely street they passed became a soulless shadow of the previous street.
"Should I call 9-1-1?" Christine asked her husband. He always seemed to know what to do.
"I'd like to go down a few more streets, then I'll step inside a bar and a shelter, but if we haven't seen any homeless by then, we'll drive to the police station.

An hour and ten minutes later the authorities were notified. Three hours later not a single blue-uniformed officer was successful in finding a single homeless person. They had all vanished in a single night. By five o'clock the next morning local newscasters were interviewing shelter volunteers, bartenders, social workers, and church outreach coordinators. By seven o'clock, as the state of Indiana left for work, anyone who drove or rode a bus was aware of what was now being called a "state of emergency". By ten o'clock that day, the world became aware that the entire United States had, in a horrific single evening, lost every homeless person in the country to an unknown act of God or terrorism.

The statement issued at three o'clock that day by the President, though full of condolence and resolve, was severely lacking information. That evening analysts laid on the table every possible explanation for the world to consider. As country after country turned its conversation to the topic, hearts were heavy and fear hung contextual to the event that had transpired.

Guilt and questions flew for months on end as confusion and frustration turned to hopelessness, memorials, speeches, even empty grave sights dedicated to those who vanished. Four years later eighteen hundred documentaries, television specials, and film events, had been created to examine and give tribute to the terrible loss that America suffered. Eight years later the resolve had dissipated into a textbook lesson and speech transcript of the President and homeless began to repopulate the cites. And eleven years later Chevelle graduated high school and gave his salutatorian speech on what had come to be known as Tragic Monday.

It read,

“Some of the most hated, loved, and ignored people on earth are our homeless. They existed by the millions taking from society and giving nothing back. Nothing, we thought, until they disappeared, leaving a part of our lives so many of us never knew existed, empty. And so
America tasted en masse, compassion.

Our guilt, our helplessness, and our lack of answers to the questions that arose from this terrible phenomenon awakened us to our actions, or lack thereof, and we came to realize that every form of life is a gift, whether or not it contributes to society.
"Every soul, every personality, every human is a fantastic creation not to be pushed aside" Tragic Monday told us.

We are united not by color, by race, or by belief. We are all one because we are all living, breathing images of God; participants in this limited time on earth we share together."

~Chevelle Michaels



© June 2008, JPE

July 22, 2008

Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade

Following are selections from "Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade" by John Newton, a slave captain in the 1700's. Newton stopped directing slave ships for personal medical reasons, but later recognized the horror of the slave trade.


THOUGHTS UPON vHE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE
The Works of the Rev. John Newton





If I attempt after what has been done to throw my mite into the public stock of information it is less from an apprehension that my interference is necessary than from a conviction that silence at such a time and on such an occasion would in me be criminal If my
If I attempt, after what has been done, to throw my mite into the public stock of information, it is less from an apprehension that my interference is necessary, than from a conviction that silence, at such a time and on such an occasion, would, in me, be criminal.


rather unsuitable to my present character as a minister of the Gospel to consider the African slave trade merely in a political light This disquisition more properly
...rather unsuitable to my present character as a believer of the Gospel, to consider the abortion trade merely in a political light.



2 There is a second which either is or oui ht to be deemed of importance considered in a political light I mean the dreadfol effects of this trade upon the minds of those who are engaged in it There are doubtless exceptions and I would willingly except myself But in general I know of no method of gI tting money not even that of robbing for it upon the highway which has so direct a tendency to efface the moral sense to rob the heart of every gentle and humane disposition and to harden it like steel against all impressions of sensibility
...the dreadful mental, emotional, and spiritual effects of this trade upon the minds of the doctors, nurses, and mothers who are engaged in it. There are, doubtless, exceptions; and I would willingly except myself. But, in general, I know of no method... which has so direct a tendency to efface the moral sense, to rob the heart of every gentle and humane disposition...



reason to doubt A mate of a ship in a long boat purchased a young woman with a fine child of about a year old in her arms In the night the child cried much and disturbed his sleep He rose up in great anger and swore that if the child did not cease making such a noise he would presently silence it The child continned to cry At length he rose up a second time tore the child from the mother and threw it into the sea The child was soon silenced indeed but it was not so easy to pacify the woman she was too valuable to be thrown overboard and he was obliged to bear the sourfd of her lamentations till he could put her on board his ship I am persuaded that every tender mother who feasts her eyes and her mind when she contemplates the infant in her arms will commiserate the poor Africans But why do I speak of one child when we have he
A boyfriend, telling her he loved her, got her pregnant with a "fine child", just several weeks old, in her womb. In the night, worry for the future overwhelmed the boyfriend, and disturbed his sleep. In great anger, he swore, that she must have an abortion. At length, he rose up, and drove her to the clinic. The worry was silenced indeed, but it was not so easy to calm the woman... he was obliged to bear the sound of her cries, till he could leave her for another woman.
I am persuaded, that every tender mother, who feasts her eyes and her mind when she contemplates the infant in her arms, will understand the pain of an abortion. - But why do I speak of one child, when we have heard and read a melancholy story, too notoriously true to admit of contradiction, of more than a hundred thousand children, thrown out...



Perhaps some hard hearted pleader may suggest that such treatment would indeed be cruel in Europe but the African women are negroes savages who have no idea of the nicer sensations which obtain among civilized people 1 dare contradict them in the strongest terms I have lived long and conversed
Perhaps someone may suggest that such treatment would indeed be cruel, to infants; but infants not yet born are fetuses, tissue, that have no idea of life or pain. I dare contradict them in the strongest terms. I have lived long, and conversed with doctors, and carried a fetus in my womb. The unborn experience life, and can experience pain and death.




After a careful perusal of what I have written weighing every paragraph distinctly I can find nothing to retract As it is not easy to write altogether with coolness
After a careful perusal of what I have written, weighing every paragraph distinctly, and knowing the offense that I may cause some of my friends, I can find nothing to retract.



Though unwilling to give offence to a single person in such a cause I ought not to be afraid of offending many by declaring the truth If indeed there can
Though I will not ever condemn an individual person for their mistakes - For I am full of awful mistakes and gross sin, and am only saved and whole by the blood of Jesus Christ, not by any good thing in me - I cannot be afraid of offending many, by declaring the truth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Approach, my soul, the mercy seat,
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before His feet,
For none can perish there.

Thy promise is my only plea,
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to Thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.

Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without and fears within,
I come to Thee for rest.

Be Thou my Shield and hiding Place,
That, sheltered by Thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him Thou hast died!

O wondrous love! to bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead Thy gracious Name.

“Poor tempest-tossèd soul, be still;
My promised grace receive”;
’Tis Jesus speaks—I must, I will,
I can, I do believe.


"Approach My Soul, The Mercy Seat" by John Newton
Ol­ney Hymns
(1779)










July 11, 2008

"Mama" means WHAT?

My man-child celebrated his 6 month birthday this week. This half-year old is developing quite the personality. For instance, when he wants to be picked up, he coughs. How he figured that out, I'm not sure. I don't cough to get attention, and neither does his father. The half-year old has never had a coughing sickness in his short life. Ah, the mysteries of communication.

There is a chant he recites mainly when on the changing table. "Mamamamamamamama". This is not the only noise he knows how to produce. Half-year old actually produces constant noise during waking hours and occasional noise during sleeping hours. However, this is the noise he consistently makes while being changed. Keep in mind, this creative being doesn't say "mama" to get attention... he coughs.

After breakfast, half-year old was rolling about the blue carpeted living room floor between board books and a white stuffed tiger when he suddenly froze, looked me in the eye, and said "mama" with urgency. Was this the long awaited moment? His first word? 6 months did seem a little early... but maybe, just maybe, he knew my name! I went back to unpacking books, but the meaning-filled noise did not stop "Mama, mama" he repeated. Slowly, the meaning dawned on me. I checked his diaper. Yep. He was stinky. So "Mama" means poop. Great.