In late 2008 I started a Neighborhood Watch chapter in my neighborhood. It took quite some time to generate interest and get some people involved, but eventually we got it up and running pretty solidly by Fall of 2009. During that time, there was seemingly a real jump in crime in our small city, and particularly drug-related crime and home-invasion robberies. I was at home most days by myself during the school year, and my neighbor next door (a rough and tumble biker chick) warned me that I should be careful not to let the drug dealers see me out there writing down their license plate numbers. Well, I knew her to be more street-smart than myself, but the Good Lord had kept me safe thus far, and unlike several people living right around us, this is not a rental, we own (well, are still paying on) our house. I had a vested interest in keeping that element of crime away, not the least of which was my two sons, but also, the value of our hard-earned property. I was never easily intimidated (in matters of justice, at least), and so even though I didn’t make a big production of it, (ok maybe sometimes I made it obvious) most of the time I just didn’t make much effort to conceal the fact I was watching them. And there were 4 houses right around us that were involved in the drugs and other issues.
Also that year, we put a new roof on our house, and had new gutters and some painting done. The contractor who did our roof was recommended by my brother. The guy was a Christian, and he was involved in a ministry to help ex-convicts get work. These were ex-convicts who had come to Jesus, and attended a church that specialized in prison ministry and post-prison ministry. We got a decent bid and the guys came and started on the work. The contractor did this ministry on the side, from his other job, so it was one of those things where they had to work-around the other schedule. Most weekdays for about 2 or 3 weeks, there was someone of that crew here. The ex-prisoners were very quiet, and did not interact with my husband or myself, which may have been stipulated by the program, I’m not sure. They’d say “good morning” if I said it first, but that was about all. Well, we had storms, we had wind, we had leaks when the old roof was torn off, and tarps were up, and all sorts of frustrating delays and problems that dragged the job out. Meanwhile, I was still working on building up and publicizing the Neighborhood Watch. I continued to keep my notes of license numbers, descriptions of vehicles, etc. One night we awoke about 2 am to what sounded like a mob outside our bedroom window. (We live on a corner). And sure enough, when I looked out there, there were about 30 people (some teen, some decidedly older) with beer bottles and cups and lots of shouting going on. I called the police, and found out later that the graduation party across the street had drawn several uninvited and unwelcome guests and the neighbor was glad I called the police because she was afraid to.
Another time about 9 pm there was another similar gathering. It was dark already and I heard shouts and excitement in that same intersection. I opened the door to see a cluster of teens gathered around one person on the road with another person straddling them and pounding away with both fists, while yet another person helped restrain the victims arms. I had the phone in my hand and dialed 911 on my way out there, and marched right into the middle of the brawl, and told them to break it up, and unless they wanted to be arrested, to take their “business” elsewhere, and they’d better run, because the cops were on the way. As I drew even with them, I realized those involved were girls, and the one adult moved toward me (a male, tattooed, bald, 6-1, 220 lbs-ish, in his late 30′s) and said “no, don’t break them up, that’s my daughter, she’s taking care of business”. I gave him the evil eye and said, “too late, I’ve already called. The police are on their way, but I’ll be sure and inform them you’re Dad when they get here”. I headed back onto my own property and waited. The police arrived with sirens and the kids started to disperse.
My husband gave me grief over the fact that I put myself in the middle of it, but I declare, I didn’t give it a second’s hesitation. I pay my taxes, take care of my property, AND my kids, and I wasn’t letting a bunch of juvenile (and one adult) delinquents turn my street into the slums.
Come to find out the girl in the fight was my Biker Chick neighbor’s daughter, (the dude lied, he was the fighting kid’s brother-in-law) and when she found out about the fight, she got arrested because she tracked down the girl that had been bullying her daughter and beat her up herself. She may have been a 7 time felon herself, but nobody but nobody messed with her kids and got away with it, and if her own fearless ferocity wasn’t sufficient to take care of the problem, the strength of the entire Pagans biker gang of our area “had her back”.
I mentioned this neighbor before on my blog, as someone I had shared the gospel with and prayed with and really just loved her, and as unlikely as it may seem, we came to genuinely care about one another as friends. (The Biker Chick and the Church Lady). I think of her and her kids like family and have really missed her since she moved. Although it’s much quieter now that 30 motorcycles aren’t roaring down the street by my window every Friday and Saturday night. Actually, by her “order” they were instructed to cut their motors a block away and roll up to her house, for our sakes. True story! She also offered to send the Pagans to take care of some other issues in our neighborhood when frustration was building about the police and local crime. I graciously declined, but promised I’d keep her offer in mind.
She and I would meet at the street and catch up on news from time to time when we were both out working in the yard or whatever, and one day around this time she told me she had been working at a house on the next street (behind our house is an alley, and the back of that house is accessible via the alley by a distance of a couple of lots). She had been cleaning out a house that was “turning over” from old renters to new ones, and had been waiting for someone to come an pick up an old dryer the landlord had replaced. She was sweeping the front porch when an old blue truck drove by, in which there was an older black man and a younger one. She noticed it go by a few times, and then on about the third pass, it finally pulled over. She said she didn’t think much of it, that the guy was probably the junk-man coming to get the dryer, and had only been making sure it was the right address. But when he got out of the truck, he had just kept coming on around, through the fence and up onto the porch. (At this point it might be good if I let you know that my friend was at one time a semi-professional woman boxer). The guy kept moving right into her “personal space” and she sprung off the porch and swung towards him with her broom just as he grabbed her arm. It surprised him enough that it broke his grip. She is quite loud, and curses like a sailor, so she was yelling expletives at him by now, but he kept coming at her, and told her he was going to take her inside that house and rape her. She said she kept fending him off, and was looking around to see if there was anyone who saw what was happening. She noticed the young guy was not in the truck, and eventually a man from across the street came over. (The neighbor is a tiny man, while the assailant was a pretty brawny guy). He didn’t confront the man, but wisely said, “hey, you need some help picking up this dryer and getting it into your truck”. This gave the guy an “out” and my neighbor supposed that having realized he’d picked a real live wire, his best bet was to take it.
When she told me this story, something rang a bell in my mind. I asked again, what day this had happened, and it was on the same day that I had stood at my kitchen sink doing dishes and looking through the window, and through a space of about 1 foot by 1 foot, between a shed in the yard next door, and a tree, I could see a man standing in the alley looking toward the back of a house a couple of lots down. He was standing beside a dark blue vintage (late 50′s/early 60′s) truck, with wide running boards and some grey primer on the fender. I thought, “that’s odd, something’s not right. What is he doing?” And I took my phone with me as I walked down the back sidewalk to my gate at the alley, and blatantly leaned over the gate and made eye contact with the guy to let him know I saw him. Then I turned around and went back into the house and locked my doors. But I didn’t call the police that day, for some reason. I am guessing something distracted me (doesn’t take much) because normally I would have. Well, I told her what I had seen and what I had done that day, and we came to the conclusion that the guy I saw, was the guy who attacked her, and he had been back there watching her that day as she cleaned alone inside that empty house with no curtains, and determining there was no one else there, he decided to go for it.
I’d been doing the Neighborhood Watch for several months, and everyone within the 200 homes in my immediate vicinity knew me as “The Neighborhood Watch Lady” by now, including the drug dealers, when the roofers were working on my house. I’d talked to this Christian contractor about my church, about the Neighborhood Watch, and about the drug activity around us, (although he didn’t know about my confrontational style). One day he said “I want you to know that the Lord has impressed on me, for us to pray for you every day when we are here, and even on the days we’re not. I can’t seem to shake it, the Lord just keeps prompting me to pray.” He mentioned that several times when he came to work. I said, “well, it could have something to do with this Neighborhood Watch stuff”. (I might also add that our city’s Police force was under investigation since a year prior, necessitating a temporary lay off of several officers, and the State Police had to patrol here for a few weeks. That investigation was still ongoing, though most of the officers were back at work, and no official “findings” to this day, have ever been released to the public. Thus, I was very careful about which officers I talked to as well).
Well, one Friday, ( a couple of weeks beyond the would-have-been incident with my neighbor and her “stalker”, when I got hubby off to work, and the kids off to school, I left the house to get a few things at the grocery store. I set the alarm, as usual, but at that time I didn’t have a concealed carry permit, so the gun stayed home.
When I came home, there was an old Chevy Truck parked in front of my house. It was in the spot my husband usually parks in, behind my car on the street, so I pulled in front, and backed into my usual space. I didn’t think anything of it because the people across from us did not own a car, and often someone would park in front of our house, if they were running in to pick those neighbors up and take them someplace, so I didn’t even notice the truck was occupied at first. But as I was backing into my spot in front, I saw in the rear-view mirror that there was a black middle-aged male in the truck. (Our neighborhood is fairly multicultural). I know the rules. I’m supposed to drive off to someplace safe, but I figured if I did, he’d stay and burgle our house. As he sat there, looking at me, and also looking over at my house, I debated on whether to pull out, and go to my neighbors, or to just hop out, leaving groceries and valuables, taking my keys (with mace), and briskly cover the 10 paces to my front door. I opted for the latter. There were usually neighbors home, I had my cell, and can project my voice pretty loudly, so I felt there was little likelihood of him trying to take me down right there in broad daylight. I got inside and locked the door, and reset my alarm, immediately, and then dialed my neighbor Barbara, who lives directly behind, all the while also going to the front window to watch him through the cracks in the venetian blinds.
He now was blatantly watching my house, leaning down over the passenger side of the truck, scanning the windows and porch and door. I was telling Barbara all of this, and told her “if I hang up suddenly or you hear anything that concerns you, dial 911″. Even as I finished saying that, the man exited his truck and started moving quickly toward my house, which I conveyed to my neighbor as I dropped the phone to go grab my loaded gun. I looked out the front-facing window in my room and not hearing the porch door squeak open, I knew he likely wasn’t on my porch, but didn’t know where. So I made my way around the house window to window, room to room and followed his progress until I saw him turn the corner behind my house down the alley toward my back gate. I knew that a frequent break-in tactic was to gang on the front and if no one opens the door, they’ll break in through the back. At this point I made the decision that I’d rather be out on the street than alone with this guy in my house, so with gun in one hand and phone in the other, I went out the front door (triggering the alarm) and ran not in the opposite direction, but in the direction he had gone. I intended to go to my neighbor’s house, who already knew what was going on, but when I got to where the alley was, I saw that he had kept going, moving very briskly now, down the alley. Probably because he heard my house alarm screaming from when I opened the front door. At that point, I knew where he was and knew he didn’t see me, so I walked back toward my front door as I talked to dispatch and told them what was going on. The police arrived then, but the guy was nowhere to be found. They ran his plates and found out his vehicle was registered in a rural farm area 60 miles to our south, and there were several officers, but they didn’t find him. The police finally left, even thought he truck was still parked in front of my house! Which made me even more angry! Oh, in the meantime, hubby came home on his lunch break. He had to leave before the police had even left, so I guess the whole ordeal was 30 minutes or so, from the time I drove up until the police left. Well, I had stood on the porch a little longer after they all left, and a few minutes later a younger black man in jeans and a hoodie, came walking up the same side street looking at my house, back yard, and front, and talking on a cell phone. He looked me in the face, and I looked him in the face, at a distance of about 4 yards. I gave him my best scowl, and continued to look him in the eye, and he continued to talk on the phone, then turn back and walk down the street in the same direction the first man had gone. I went in, locked the door, and continued to watch for the guy to show back up at his truck. I didn’t have to wait long, because almost immediately the guy came. By now I was boiling mad. I came flying out of the house like a crazy woman and asked the guy what the bleep he was doing watching my house and messing around on my property. He said, “I wasn’t doing anything”. I was feet away from him now, with only my front fence between us. I also had my 28 tucked into the back of my waistband. I said “why are you parking in front of my house, watching my house, and going down the alley behind my house?” He said “I have a friend that lives over there and I always park on this street when I go over there”. I said, gave him the “as if” grimace of incredulity, and said “well you’re an idiot, and that’s a good way to get yourself shot. I called the police and they were looking for you. They ran your plate and found out you live in Waverley, so if I were you, whatever it is you are up to, you better take it somewhere else”. At that, I turned and pulled my gun from my waistband, and walked away from him and into the house, where I watched him climb into the bed of his truck, and tuck something into the big toolbox. (Gun?, Knife? Drugs?).
It wasn’t until it was all over that I recalled the neighbor’s incident. The truck was different. Also dark blue, but a Ford and 70′s model. When I was watching the news the next evening, I heard a story that gave me chills. A young man was home alone one morning in a neighboring city, when he heard someone rattling the doorknob on the back door. He grabbed his aunt’s gun and emptied it shooting through the door. A few hours later, the younger man had been found dead block over (from a gunshot wound), and later that night, the other suspect was captured when he showed up at the Emergency Room with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. The news showed the photo of the guy who had died. I was fairly certain he was the same person who had stood out there under my pecan tree on the street beside my house talking on the phone in the midst of my own incident. I immediately looked up the story online, and replayed the video, and I was right! Same guy!
Though the other person in the incident in the next town was also a younger person, (as opposed to the 50-something man who parked in front of my house) I figured that it was a part of some crime “ring” that worked the area, or something. I know one thing, for certain: The Lord does watch over “fools and children”, and work in mysterious ways. Who would have thought that a Christian roofer and his ex-con employees, covering my home in prayer over those weeks, would be God’s means of keeping me safe while I “fought crime” in my neighborhood?
There was one more incident that was odd during that period that I think may have been part of the same “crime wave” (or personal targeting?) One day between 5 and 6 pm, I had 3 different individuals or sets of individuals knock on our door. First group claimed to be an alarm company, and wanting to sell me an alarm system, and when I said I already had one, they wanted to come in and look at it, because they had an “offer for one that was probably better”. Well they had matching shirts and laminated I.D. badges, but I sent them on their way anyhow. Not long after, my husband got home, another knock sounded, and my husband answered the door. A man asked my husband if he had a little dog, “because I think it got loose” he said. Garrett informed the man that our little dog had died the previous month, but figuring maybe a dog belonging to someone else, was maybe out there, we walked through to the back (after shutting the front) to check, and just as I walked toward the gate (and hubby went the other way toward the street), another guy came flying from behind our garage holding his pants up with one hand, slipped on the mud by the trash toter, and landed on his back. My husband just looked at him and said “what the heck are you running from?” He said, “there’s a big ole dog loose back there”. Well, there still was no dog to be found, so we were wondering whether maybe the so-called “alarm people” were in cahoots with the dog people, but we just went on about our business, scratching our heads over it all. Hubby went back in and I was still out in the back yard (probably to pick some herbs to use for supper) when yet another man came around into our side yard with a camera and started taking photos of the back of my house. (I guess he didn’t see me as I was on the other side near the garage). I started yelling at him and demanding to know what he was doing on my property and taking pictures of my house. He claimed he worked for the cable company. We hadn’t had cable in 3 years, and when I told him that, he (unwisely) said “it doesn’t matter”. My volume was nearing howler-monkey range, when I said, “you need to get off my property! NOW!!!
My husband came out then, and I said, “call the police” but he’d already called them and they pulled up right about then. As it turned out, the cable guy was legit, and the alarm people were legit, as they had informed the police department they would be working in the neighborhood. The cable guy was sort of baffled by the time we told the officer about the dog guys and the alarm folks. He seemed much subdued and almost apologetic as he explained that because people often pirated cable service by climbing the poles and re-connecting cable themselves, the cable company had to do loss-prevention from time to time and make sure customers who were no longer customers, were not indeed getting cable. The way to do that is locate the connection and see that it is not hooked up. I guess pictures were to prove the guy had done his job.
I gave up the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator role after a year and a half, and someone else stepped up. We have some periods when no one seems interested in meeting, but people in the area know who is who, whom they can trust, and so it has become and remained a safer neighborhood. My nickname, given to me by the local police? “Eagle Eye”.
Now not only am I known and feared by the kids teachers, (yes, apparently I’m that mom) but the police as well. (In a good way, of course…….I think?!) Especially the new Police Chief, who I had an “encounter” with (not realizing who he was at the time) after which I wrote this Letter to the Editor about the exchange, and had it published in the local paper.
That’s me, the church lady, and that’s my former biker chick neighbor with some sleazebag named Joe she met in a bar.
Not really, but if she ever did meet Joe Biden, it would have been her, lol. Oh, and that’s really Dana Carvey, the original “church lady”.
The rest of it is all true. Unfortunately.
Below is a poem that “Hubby” wrote for me a few years ago!
When most little girls dreamed of having
A shining knight to love
Her heart was already set on treasures up above
She knew her travels would take her
To those streets of gold
Already homesick for heaven, I suppose
When there’s laughter all around her
And all her struggles put away
I see that melancholy smile no one’s supposed to see
I ask her how she’s feeling as I pull her close
She says “I’m homesick for heaven, I suppose”.
Many years from now
When her children are all grown
She’ll have bittersweet memories of her journey home
She’ll finally come to the place
She was always reaching for
And she won’t be homesick for heaven anymore.
She won’t be homesick for heaven anymore.
Lyrics by A.G. Lloyd © 2003
I wanted to let you guys know that I’ve made my book “Purple Morning
Glories and Gold Lady Bugs” easier to navigate by starting in the sidebar on the title, and each successive chapter has a link at the bottom for navigating to the next chapter in proper order.
I still have not done an extremely thorough proof-reading but I did correct a few misspellings. It sort of took a toll on me emotionally in writing it all out and today was the first day I went back through it since I finished the last chapter. I also fixed the order of the chapters showing in the sidebar. If you haven’t read it or you started reading and got side-tracked with news posts between the chapters while the writing was in progress, I just wanted to let you guys know it’s a little more user-friendly now.
One of the most common positive feed-backs that I get from folks is that they like the variety that they can find here on this blog. There is only so much of the news we need to see, to know things are still suspended on the razor-edge of world chaos, and there are plenty of sources of that Christian/prophecy-related news who do a more thorough and consistent job of keeping all the latest coming to your inbox (or reader, or feed). So if you see me pulling back from that, it is because I know that most folks are only going to read 1-3 posts from any given blog in a day and I am happy to embrace that “less is more” perspective at this juncture.
I can’t remember what I wrote last about Garrett’s chemo. I was thinking the last session was his sixth and that put us halfway, but he reminded me last night that this Wednesday- Friday’s session will be the 6th and halfway point. It is wearing him down quite a bit now, making it hard for him to concentrate at work and that is frustrating for him, especially in that every little thing can effect his bonuses (which is a key piece of income when you are in collections).
You know how it is. I think he and I are both like a couple of over-stretched rubber bands. When you have been under strain for a very long time, it makes you a little fragile. It can get to feeling like it wouldn’t take much to break you. I just keep reminding him the chemo sessions will come to an end and eventually he will feel better again.
If anyone would like to encourage him with a note or a card, you can send them to the physical address of our church listed on the bottom of the “About” page of this blog (in red letters, easy to spot).
Spring has been creeping in a little tiny bit at a time, here. One week the daffodils came up, then we had the ice and snow, and they turned brown, then the few crocus and hyacinth bloomed, and lasted about a week. Now my Jasmine is flowering, which smells sweet, and the Dogwood is finally popping out some poor pitiful little buds. Everything looks faded like the Earth itself can hardly muster it’s normal show of color. And my Azaleas can’t seem to make up their minds whether they’re going to bloom at all.
Garrett has already been putting in his garden. He has collards and broccoli, strawberries and onions, tomatoes, beans and parsley, cilantro, basil, and sage, and peppermint, and lots of different peppers all getting started. He always enjoys gardening, coming home and looking to see what’s coming in, spending a little time with his hands in the dirt.
I am in my New Testament Historical Survey now, and specifically Paul’s Epistles. There is always so much more to glean from them. What about you? What are you studying in the Word right now? Share in comments below!
Grains of Sand Magnified Just beautiful!
I am one of those weird and crazy people who can get tickled at the strangest things, and can’t stop my uncontrollable laughter until it has run its course. Additionally, when I do laugh, I am prone to collapse due to cataplexy, a condition in which my muscles all go suddenly lax, and my knees may buckle under me.
During the winter months I am often plagued by depression, and it takes a great deal of prayer and proactive determination to keep from losing my joy completely. I sometimes find myself praying, “Lord, I don’t know what I need, but please send me something to help me hang on”.
I always look forward to the hope that accompanies the advent of springtime, and enjoy getting started on my flower gardens. One spring, not long ago, I went out into my front yard to work in the bulbs underneath my Redbud tree. Despite my allergy to mulch,I reveled in the warm sunshine, merrily sniffling, sneezing and digging, when suddenly a bug flew up my nose.
To my horror, he became firmly lodged in that area of the throat from which there is no graceful return. My best hope was to expectorate the offender before he made his way into my lungs. Disregarding social considerations I proceeded to very earnestly snort, hack and blow in full view of God and all the neighbors.
That’s when the laugh-attack struck. I clung to that tree for dear life, holding my aching side, legs crossed, (moms you know what I mean) hacking, sputtering and snorting, turning purple, trying not to inhale, until finally, (gulp) I swallowed that bug just to get it over with!
Be careful what you pray for, and be prepared to be a good sport about it when God in His infinite wisdom (and with a gleam in His eye) says: “I know just what you need”.
Copyright STLloyd 2004
An abridged version of this true story was related to my friend, author Tammi Morgan, via e-mail and used by her (with my permission) in her book, Emerging Butterfly-Finding Life Beyond Anxiety Disorders. (PublishAmerica-2008)
The Blue Ridge Mountains in the Fall of 82
Sitting in our porch swing with my boys when they were little
Watching a meteor shower from the hood of the car on a summer night
Going for snow-walks at midnight before anybody else has left footprints
Being young and strong enough to water ski on beautiful Smith Mountain Lake
The first time I held my babies
The smell of pine pitch on old railroad ties along the trail at Battlefield Park in summers heat
The taste of orange blossom honey
The sound of the swollen creek through grandma’s window as I fall asleep
The gurruuump of bullfrogs on the pond
The sound of my boys as toddlers, playing and laughing together
Stopping on a busy highway interchange to sit among a bank of daffodils as I watch the traffic whizzing by
Giggling with my cousins
Giant fluffy white clouds against Scotland’s blue sky
Celtic flutes and harps
The sound of the ocean and seagulls in the morning
A lonesome faraway train whistle
Purple Morning Glories and gold tortoise beetles
The fragrance of daffodils and hyacinth and honeysuckle and jasmine
Cooking with fresh herbs
The smell of an orange at Christmas
Dozing off to the sound of the clothes dryer
Running 5 miles
Singing in harmony with family
Warm, caressing breezes
Fresh picked apples
My aunt Gwen’s Bread and Butter Pickles
Mama’s Macaroni Salad
Laughing together as a family
Hymns echoing in a one-room church-house
Seeing loved ones lost to death, alive and well again in my dreams
The fragrance of Gardenias
Looking at old photos
A letter from a friend
A satisfying and fulfilling day’s work
Sheets fresh off the clothes line
Easter dresses and patent leather shoes
The playing of taps and the red white and blue flying high
Fourth of July Fireworks
Food at the State Fair
The first “barefoot day” of summer
Walking in the rain in Quebec
Swimming laps for an hour or more, my mind a complete blank
Wave runners and four-wheelers at full throttle
Big Band Swing
Sarasota Botanical Gardens and my sketchbook
Popcorn and fudge and charades
Walking with Jesus
And some day soon, the sound of the shofar and the sight of my savior’s face!
(iHeartradio 105.9 KGBX via Facebook)
I don’t know what season it is where you live, but as the cold of winter begins to lose its hold, and green tips of crocus and daffodil begin to poke up between the dry brown winter brush, the coming of spring, like the changing of all seasons, is bittersweet. As a way-marker, another season passes away, and yet a new one begins. How many more will there be?
I fixed my family a hot breakfast this morning. There are many days that doesn’t happen because my boys are teens, they sometimes want to eat before school, and sometimes they don’t. And hubby isn’t picky, cereal, oatmeal, a bagel, it’s all fine with him. Me, I don’t even get hungry til eleven or noon. Standing over a hot stove for 20 minutes or more, then having to deal with a plumbing issue, I got a little too warm, so I went out and sat on our front porch swing for a while to cool off.
We have a nice porch. Not fancy. But inviting. Screened in. A work crew is putting up a new house across the street, so I rocked in the swing, watching them for a bit, before coming back inside. I love the seasons we have in Virginia. I would go so far as to say that I don’t think I could happily live anyplace that didn’t have those distinct seasons.
The years of my husbands and my life together have not been easy. I came into the marriage with a great deal of woundedness. I really and truly had not dared to hope that the love he and I share, would ever be available to me, much less that I’d be blessed with motherhood, with 2 such great sons. This world can be a cruel place, and I think that people are tired. I’d been through so much by the time my husband and I met. I know he got cheated. The first years of our marriage where fraught by devastating interference on the part of my mother-in-law, at the same time that I was still healing from prior abuse. It took the unconditional love of both my Lord, and my precious husband, for me to feel safe enough to work though all that. I do have several medical conditions which, in combination are impairing. But I have no doubt that the years of stress that I endured in my 20′s are the very thing that set the stage for the later physical mal-functions. Being so depleted, I did suffer depression for a long time. And yet I fought it tooth and nail because by God’s grace and wisdom, He gave me a stubborn streak a mile wide. The cyclic nature of my depression and mood issues was really almost like an echo of the instability of my life in general for so long. It was like when my mind got so weary it could no longer manage the burden, it was handed off to my body. So the body compensated for a while, as the mind de-compensated. Mental illness, depression, call it what you will. There is no darkness darker, and I’ll take physical pain any day of the week over the excruciation of deep depression.
I was sick in mind, body and spirit. Exhausted and depleted. I was that way as a newlywed, as a full-time RN with a new baby, and then two. All through my 3os. I was a good nurse. I loved the job. I loved my patients. But when I got to the point that I was internally empty, to where even the “needs” of my patients caused me to feel resentment because I was so needy myself, when I could no longer keep a running “task manager” in my brain, and keep up with the demands of nursing, I knew I had to step back because my integrity would not allow me to give less to my patients. The job of a nurse is much too serious a business to do any part of it “halfway”. I expected it to be temporary. Little did I know that although I would work in the capacity of an RN intermittently again, that this was the beginning of the end of my hard-earned nursing career.
I mourned that for a long time. But I had my babies. And I was grateful that the trade-off was the gift of being mostly a stay-at-home mom. Few moms have that luxury anymore. But it is a sacrifice. We have lived in a house which was built in the 40′s, and maintenance, (much less improvements) has been minimal. Thank goodness houses built in the forties were built to last. Good, good bones! So, it’s been a homey home. Not a showcase, but lived-in and inviting, and not taking itself too seriously. I have never been a frou-frou kind of gal anyway. Neat and tidy is my standard, but I like things with some age and experience and history. I learned from my Mama how to see the good in pre-loved furniture and decor, and how to spiff things like that up, way before “shabby chic” became a household word.
Winter has always been hard. When my kids started school, I stayed involved as a room mom and volunteering frequently, and after some years of working on boundary issues, being on medication and ever striving to maintain an exercise program whether it entailed some gym time, swimming or walking, I saw some improvement in my over-all well-being. Yet could never quite get over the hump in regard to fatigue and body pain. With diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, and at first Sleep apnea and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and then only a few years ago finally discovering that I have Narcolepsy, a certain degree of permanent damage had already taken place in my body, not the least of which in my spine and joints. Depression continued to be a problem and winter months, with short days, and cooped up indoors, I literally had to turn on all the lights in the house some days. I would light candles and play instrumental music, all of which helped me overcome the inertia and get moving. I learned to spend at least 15 minutes outside getting sunlight no matter how cold it was, and even invested in one of those lamps with the whole spectrum of light. Those things all helped, but it was a constant vigilance. I would hold on and wait for those daffodil green tops to poke out. When I saw that, it was my sign that I had survived another dark season, and could soon look forward to working in my flowerbeds and being outdoors more. So, as a survivor, Spring has a special place in my heart. Counting as the seasons pass, moving from youth into middle age, watching my kids grow, losing my Dad, I’m in a different season now, but my awareness of the world and history and scripture, also tells me that the advance of seasons and years is moving forward for the world itself. Times they are a-changin’, and not just in the way they always do from one generation to the next, but in ways the Good Book told us they would when the end was near.
Like most struggling families today, there were dreams of trips and vacations that never quite came to be. Plans for home improvements, the financing and budgeting of which never quite came to fruition, due to some setback or other. There were times we were disillusioned. But we learned to concentrate on the blessings. And we had so many. As a couple my husband and I have always been able to laugh. There were times we could be in the middle of an argument and we’d both be so weary from the struggle that one or the other would just decide to get over it and do something silly to make us both laugh, and that would be that. Arguing is just not worth the energy. But these were things we learned IN the struggles and wouldn’t have learned otherwise. As a family we have always been able to laugh together. The antics of our boys provided plenty of material. And as a family we have always prayed together, discussed things, expressed our love, and been straightforward and honest. My kids have never had to guess whether we loved or approved of them. But they also have never been allowed to take that love and approval for granted. Dad is the softer one. Mama don’t give an inch. They knew if they misbehaved, their teachers had my phone number and permission to call me right then and there. Heck one year I was their school nurse during the elementary years. (My last full-time position). They are in high school now and their friends STILL come up to them and say, “man, why did your mom quit being our nurse?”. I guess because I treated all of them the exact same way I did my own. Tough love.
Yeah, it’s a time for counting blessings, as I am daily aware that both in the natural course of raising a family, the times we share together are finite and we are nearing that time when the little eaglets will leave the nest, but also “time” universal is winding down.
Life is beautiful but if you do it right, it isn’t easy, and even if you can manage to put a little aside along the way, the best it can provide is a false sense of security. Treasures on earth are eaten by moths, corrupted by rust. The honest guy doesn’t always come out on top. People are tired of war, and crime, and struggle, and violence and hatred. We all long for peace, but it seems there’s precious little peace to be found. Everyone is looking for somewhere to place the blame. Government. Those dad-blamed Republicans. Those dang Democrats. Those corrupt Congressfolk. The Muslims, the Jews, The church. Many hate a God they don’t even believe in. The homosexuals hold in contempt those who believe the Bible and it’s indictment of such. Some professing Christians act as if they themselves are less of a vile sinner than the gay person, which is not true. God’s law is one law. Like the chain that holds up my porch swing, if we have broken one “link” the chain no longer upholds the swing, so if we break any commandment, we are in violation of God’s law. I do not doubt that the feelings and attraction two gay men or women have for one another are real and powerful. I just am aware that feelings can be deceptive, and most of all, they can be manipulated. Homosexuality is no more wrong than any other deviation from God’s design for sexuality, though it does reside on a continuum of sorts. We have so gotten the cart before the horse in the area of mates and “mating”. There is no restraint and whatever causes the most sparks to fly, has become the acceptable indicator of what we choose to pursue. Animals are ruled by their drives. Humans are capable of more. Yet risky or risqué, trumps most things anymore. The “pleasure button” has been so over-stimulated that people have ceased to be able to feel.
A people who are only guided by impulse and urges, will invariably seek the “greater thrill” to the basest nature. When “straight sex” and self-gratification without cost, effort, or commitment are so freely attainable that they become boring and no longer titillating, the greater risk will be sought to maintain the “high”. Each advance in degradation serves to only heighten the drive, but never satisfy. As those who participate in these things ignore their conscience, the conscience dies within them, because they despise the truth, (that what they do is wrong) they begin to believe the falsehood that what they are doing is okay. The current generation can hardly help being much more vulnerable to the temptations of “same-sex sexuality” because preceding generations insisted on throwing off the taboo. For those who indulge the flesh, the “need” of their flesh consumes them and becomes their master, and in search of satisfaction, their “passions” seek that which is even lower, the violation of children. This produces children who are damaged and who grow up confused. Girls used by men, become women who can’t trust men, who seek solace in other women. In their hurt they justify the aversion to the opposite sex, and the sin of the “fathers” are visited on the next generation in the form of same-sex attraction. Because the female child looks to the father figure to cherish and affirm her, being sorely disappointed as she seeks a life mate, she has already ruled out the male half of the species, feels safer bestowing her love and affection upon a female, or in determination to never be victimized, may reject her femaleness and aspire to the relative safety of exhibiting masculinity within herself. Because the male child looks to the father figure to set the example of how to be a man, yet the abusing male uses his power to dominate and violate, the male child rejects the notion of masculinity and waxes effeminate, or may go on to be a predator because he thinks doing what the dominant male did to him, constitutes “being a man”. In each instance, it was the abandonment of God’s order that led to the alternate concept of what it means to be a male or female, and the abandonment of the “natural use of the opposite sex” for that of same-sex. Sex and sexuality were meant to be powerful, to bind together two mates for life, and powerful they are. Much “potential energy” is contained within the essence of sex and sexuality. But just like atomic energy, such potency is volatile, and very dangerous, and fraught with potential for damage and harm on a massive scale if mishandled or misappropriated.
But regardless of whether we are dealing with the issue of homosexuality, or human rights or politics, or religion, we are all deceived regarding who is our true enemy. Some folks have no idea at all. While even those who know that satan is the enemy of our souls, still fall prey to his efforts to rob, destroy, and kill. He pursues us relentlessly, and though some seem to walk willingly into his arms, most of us never come to understand that it was satan and sinfulness that manipulated your abuser, it is satan and sinful human nature, that culminate in the loss of “rights and privileges endowed by our creator” at the hands of corrupt leaders. The only safety or hope of redemption is to turn the opposite direction and run back toward God. That, in a nutshell, is what it means to repent of sin. At one time, Humanity knew their God. It is the sin nature that rebels, and evil waxes worse and worse until subsequent generations never even heard of their creator. They think they came from nothing. So they abort their babies and euthanize their elderly and handicapped, and then either shake their fist at God because breaking laws has consequences, or thumb their nose at God because they’ve convinced themselves that they’ve managed to throw Him off.
You know, I don’t know many “radical, militant” gay people. Most gay people I personally know, are regular folk. I have no desire to hurt them or to even dissuade them from their preference. That’s not my job. I am happy to accept the things I cannot change (and the will of another person definitely falls into that category) but I reserve the right to maintain my own convictions on the subject. I don’t think that a man should “marry” a man and call it the same thing as a woman marrying a man. Civil unions instead? I guess, but the purpose of marriage is procreation. Many gay people want to have a family but it’s not physically possible so there must be artificial intervention of some kind. No matter what you call your arrangement,(nor the method you use), the “ingredients” for making a baby, remains God’s original “recipe”.
I went to nursing school with a gal whose grandmother was Mrs. Fearnow. Of “Mrs. Fearnow’s Brunswick Stew” fame. I don’t know if that is merely regionally known, or if it’s a hit across the nation. But my point is, the stew is now made in a factory, by “The Fearnow Brothers” who may or may not be actually named Fearnow or related to Mrs. Fearnow in any way. The recipe may be the same, but I bet you Amy would beg to differ with you if you said “I have eaten your grandma’s stew”. Now, there’s a chance Amy Fearnow has actually eaten her grandma’s stew. And what comes out of that can, though delicious, will never be the stew made for Amy by Grandma Fearnow’s own hand.
We can call a union between two men or women a “marriage” and the state can artificially “bestow” upon that “couple” the same privileges as a man/woman union, but a union between a man and another man will never be a marriage. But most marriages between a man and a woman today don’t meet the Biblical definition of marriage either. Compromise is a slippery slope. Absolutes are considered evil by most of the world today, but if there are no absolutes, there are no reference points, all order breaks down, and what we are left with is the chaos before us today.
Gay people say “I was born this way”. Yeah. You were. You were born a sinner. That’s the point. I was born a sinner too. That doesn’t make my sin acceptable to God. That’s why Jesus had to die. But his dying would mean nothing if He had not also risen up to life again.
No matter what mankind tells himself, the unchanging facts are; in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created you, He designed your body. “Male and female He created them” and charged them to be fruitful and multiply. It’s His call. Don’t think of His laws like civil law. They aren’t like that. They are more like the “law of gravity”, “the law of diminishing returns”, the laws of physics. Who set those? Do you have a choice in obeying the law of gravity? Can any Supreme Court judge or United Nations counsel overturn the law of gravity? Is it “all relative” really? Jump off your roof and see. I’ll sit here and wait.
God will not tolerate sin. Sin is a violation of law. The wages of sin is death. Wages are not a penalty, they are simply the natural outcome. God’s not threatening you when He says that, He’s WARNING you. We all age, we all deteriorate, and we all die. After death comes judgment, and you and I have no advocate, no counsel, no scapegoat, but Jesus. He is the Way. He is Truth. He is Life. And no man comes unto the Father but by Him.
Man thinks he will transcend his own humanity within a few years. The capability is, in fact, within mankind’s power. But God will not allow it.
This old world is winding down. The Bible tells us that a period of tribulation is coming. God will place your life on the scales. It will not have “all the good you did” on one side, and “all the bad” on the other. It will have His righteousness on one side, and on the other side there will be placed one of two things which will attempt to measure up to His righteousness and balance the scale.
It will either be the sum total of your doings in this life, or it will be the righteousness of Christ placed on your side of the scales. Fair? Not to Jesus, yet that’s the offer. He did not forfeit His perfection, but God accredits it to those who are willing to humble themselves to receive it.
God, knowing we are incapable of overcoming our own sinful state, arranged for His own sinless son to endure the “wages of sin” for all sinners. A substitutionary death on the cross, dying so we didn’t have to. The wages of sin is death, the loophole is God willingly accepts the death of One who is infinite and sinless, to atone for the infinite sinfulness of the sinner. Then He credits to the sinners account, the righteousness of Christ. Which will sit in opposition to the righteousness of the Father on judgment day and balance that scale, deeming you acceptable to enter into God’s eternal presence. That is, if you are willing to accept it. There is a catch, though. It is free. You can’t earn it or pay for it. You have to accept God at His word, that He is willing to extend this deal to you. It means you have to nail your sin to that cross with Jesus. You can’t have your sin nullified while still clinging to your “right” to remain oriented to your sin-nature. Be your sin adultery (sex with someone you are not married to, whether male or female), lying, taking the Lord’s name in vain, stealing, coveting, failing to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy, murder, or having some other god. Anything that you refuse to relinquish is your god.
Think about these things because you know, and I know, something is up in this world. You may not be ready to accept the things I’m saying, but that doesn’t change facts and laws and principles. You know as well as I do that we as humans are capable of being wrong. The world is not flat. The appendix actually does have a purpose, blacks, Jews, and the disabled are not a subhuman species, yet these are all “beliefs” that were once embraced as fact. Optical illusions fool our brains all the time, we even enjoy it when done by a talented magician. There is good and there is evil. We may not agree on what constitutes each one, but Someone must be the arbiter if truth and the very fact that “good and evil” are universal principles, is an indicator that there are absolutes so moving the visible boundary markers doesn’t actually altar which territory is which. We merely fool ourselves. It takes a heck of a lot more faith than I have, to believe everything came from nothing, than to believe there is a sovereign Creator who designed everything with purpose.
Think about it.