A Lesson in Forgiveness

Katy Curry©

Those boys!  Her foot pressed ever harder on the accelerator while her brow furrowed in anger and frustration.  Tears ran down her cheeks while her mouth was set in a firm grimace.  How could they?  She had worked so hard to make everything perfect!  The leg of lamb, garlic smashed potatoes, asparagus garden salad would have been perfect.  They were her favorite dish; dessert was homemade lemon meringue pie; perfectly browned.    She set the table as beautifully as her mother had taught her and planned everything for a quick and easy clean-up so she could enjoy the day with her family.    It was to have been, should have been HER DAY!  Mother’s Day!

She stood on the brakes and pulled off the road as she realized her rage could make a bad situation worse.  “Get ahold of yourself, Kathy.” She scolded, and then allowed herself to collapse into the steering wheel in a cascade of tears.

She was furious, scared, angry, disappointed, horrified, and hurt and so much more all at once.  She did not know how to react first.  Her son, her youngest, got himself arrested Saturday night.  ARRESTED!  Thrown in jail on a marijuana charge!  His brother had come over to tell his parents.

She and Frank had been sitting in the living room, watching their favorite Saturday night show when their older son had burst in and sat down on the couch, clearly upset.

“Mom, Dad, I have to tell you something.”  JR started.

“What’s wrong, Bud?” Dad sat up straight in his recliner.  “What’s happened?”

“It’s Jackson.  Jack has a problem.    Well, more than a problem, um, he’s in trouble.”  J.R. managed to get out.

He had Mom’s full attention.  “What is the matter with Jackson?  Is he hurt?”

“No, Mom, he’s, he’s, Jackson was arrested and is in jail!   But if we go down we can bail him out, I called and checked.  We can make it all right.  He had a roach, oh sorry, marijuana…”

“I know what a ‘roach’ is, J.R.” Mom said tersely.  “I thought he was at work.”

“Well, yeah, he was, he was delivering a pizza and lit one for the drive, but then he ran a red light and got pulled over,”   Frank explained.  “We just need to pay his bail, and he can get out.  His bond is six hundred dollars so we can bail him out for sixty dollars and get him home!”

She had sat there in disbelief.  Drugs.  Jail. Bond.

Mom reached out her hand as only she could.  “Give me the phone.”  She commanded.  She dialed the non-emergency number for the sheriff’s department and asked for the jail, gave the man her son’s name and asked if he was there.

“Yes ma’am, “responded a bored jailer.  “If you come down to the jail you can bail him out….”

She cut the jailer off, “Can you give him a message for me?  Can you tell him to enjoy his night and he can figure out how to get home because no one will come?  He buttered his bread, and now he can sleep in it.  It is his mess.”  Her voice was tight the fury barely under control.

“Yes Ma’am, I’ll be happy to give him the message!”

She thanked the jailer, got off the phone and pointed at J.R.  “Don’t you dare bail him out!  He can figure his way home, do you hear me?”

“Now, Babe, don’t you think that is a bit harsh?” Frank, Sr. suggested.  “After all, it’s not like he robbed a bank or killed someone.  J.R. and I can go down to the jail in the morning…..”

“I’m going to bed.” She said and walked out of the room, took her shower, her sleeping pill and climbed into bed in a fury of motion.  She had suspected both sons were smoking pot, and it angered and terrified her.  She said one simple prayer that in its own strange way would be answered the next day.  “God, get me through this!”

Mother’s Day dawned, she got up, went to church, left through the back door so no one would have the chance to talk to her, ask where Jackson was, wish her Happy Mother’s Day.  At home, she went through the motions of preparing the Mother’s Day meal, but her heart was no longer in it.  About noon, J.R. walked in and behind him was an exhausted and chastened Jackson with a bouquet of flowers.

“Now Mom, I didn’t bail him out, he was released on his own recognizance.  I just couldn’t leave him to out there; the jail is in the middle of nowhere.  Look, he has flowers for you; you know how you love flowers.”

Mom looked over at Jackson; ice and pain were in her eyes.  “I don’t want those.  I don’t care what you do with them. “

Jackson reacted as if his mom had struck him.  Never had he expected this type of response from his mother.  She was always the one who had fought for him in high school, always the one who spent the extra time to get him to do the homework he tried to hide from her; she had championed him from his earliest memories.   She had always seemed to understand.  Other kids had wanted a Mom like he had.  He got his answer quickly.

“How could you?  Everything I have done for you and you repay me with, with this?  Arrested?  Drugs?  You were brought up in the church!  You were taught right from wrong!  Now you do this?  Get out of my sight!”  Mom was sobbing.

Jackson tripped over a chair as he backed up, struck a second time by the physical blow of her words.  “Mom, I’m sorry,” was all he could say.

Almost hysterical, she grabbed her keys, stormed out of the house, jumped into the car, and taken off.  We join her as she drove maniacally into an undeveloped area where she knew she would not have to watch for people or dogs.

As she sat, sobbing into her steering wheel, beating it with her fist there was a knock on her window.  She looked up, and a sheriff’s deputy parked behind her, light’s flashing.  Oh great, they always show up when you don’t need them.  She wiped her face with her hands and lowered the window.  “Am I doing something wrong, Officer?” she asked.  She had pulled over in a deserted area, so she knew she was not disturbing anyone.

“No ma’am.”  He answered carefully.  “May I see your driver’s license and registration?”

“Oh sure, sure,” she answered; wishing she had not quit smoking as now would be a very good time for a cigarette.

He studied them for a moment and made some notes, then handed them back.  “We got a call from a very concerned family about you, ma’am.  I am glad I found you in one piece.  I need to call this in that you are okay.  Can your family come out and talk to you?  They are pretty upset.”

“THEY are upset?  THEY!”

“Your son told me about what he did.  You know, he isn’t the first kid to get into trouble.  As bad as you feel right now, I can guarantee you he is in worse shape.”

“Oh yeah, I bet.” She answered, bitterly.

“Jackson said you go to church, over at Freedom, right?  My wife and I just started going there.  Good Pastor.”

“Yes, I go to Freedom.  Not that it did my family any good.  What did I do wrong?  What didn’t I do right?”

“You were fine, I am sure.  Kids are kids, Kathy; may I call you Kathy?”

“Sure, that’s my name.” she answered with a ghost of a smile.

“I don’t want to preach, I’m a cop, not a preacher, but something that struck me was something that Jesus said.  He said in Matthew that we should forgive those who sin against us seventy times seven times.  I think that means every time.   What do you think, Kathy?  Did Jackson sin against God or you? “

“Well, both…..”

“You are right there, but his sin against God is between him, and God and his sin against the State of Florida is between him and the State of Florida, right?  So that leaves just him and you.”

Kathy had no words; she just stared at the deputy wondering at the wisdom he had shared.

“Now I don’t mean to overstep here, but my guess is you have had to say you were sorry a few times.  Now your son wants to tell you in the worst way how sorry he is.  Jesus said seventy times seven….  Looks to me like you have a pretty simple decision to make, whether or not to show him, Jesus.”

Kathy stared at the officer as the truth entered her heart.  It was true.  Jesus had already forgiven Jackson.  She knew she had to, not only because of Jesus teaching but because of her love of all of her family.  She needed to forgive all of them as badly as they; especially Jackson needed to hear her forgive him.

Kathy looked over at the Sheriff’s Deputy; “Deputy  … D’Angelo?  Are you a deputy sheriff or an angel here from God?  I want to thank you.  You helped me to realize something I needed to remember.  Thank  you, and God Bless you.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Deputy D’Angelo smiled.  “Now I really have to go, seems there’s a problem that needs handling.  You be safe now.”  He climbed into his patrol car, turned around, and well, where did he go?  Kathy shook her head, wondered if she had just had a conversation with an angel, there was no trace a police car had ever been there.

Kathy put her car in gear, turned around, and drove home.  She walked in the door and Frank Sr. and Jr. and Jackson looked up at her.

“Mom…” Jackson started.  That “Mom” hand stopped him.

“I need to say something to all of you.  I let this get out of perspective and punished all of you for Jackson’s mistake.  Dear, I should have let you finish what you were trying to tell me last night, but I was too angry.  J.R., you did the right thing by getting your brother when he was released this morning.  Jackson, thank you for bringing me flowers, it was very thoughtful.  I know you never meant to spoil Mother’s Day, I know you made a bad choice that you will have to deal with.   I am sorry I was so harsh to you, and I need to ask that you forgive me, that all of you forgive me for behaving so badly.”

Jackson was up and had his mother in a bear hug.  “I am so sorry Mom, so sorry, forgive you?  Please forgive me, I was so stupid….”

J.R. was there to giving his lop-sided grin.  “It’s okay Mom, no harm done.”

Frank Sr. sighed with relief.  “Jackson, where are those flowers you got for your mother, let’s get them in some water.  J.R.; let’s get the water on for the asparagus.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I am hungry!”

“Oh, one other thing, I was surprised the police were out looking for me, I didn’t think they did stuff like that.”  Mom commented.

The three men looked at each other confused.

“Babe, we never called the police, why would you think we did?” Frank asked.

“J.R., you know the deputies around here,” Mom said.  “Do you know of Deputy D’Angelo?”

“Uh, no, or he’s new, but there is no D’Angelo that I know of,” J.R. answered.  “Why?”

Mom smiled, she remembered that angry statement she had made as an excuse for her evening prayer.  “My prayer last night was answered in an unusual way.  Now let’s get this meal going so I can love on my family.  Where are Joe and Irene?  Jackson, will you say blessing today with a special thank you for blessings received?”

Jackson gave his huge smile and gave Mom another hug.

The doorbell rang, and Joe, Mom’s eldest son, and his wife, Irene were there.

“Come in!  You’re just in time for dinner!” Frank said as they came in.  “We have had quite a time here.”

“Talk later, food now!”  Jackson said.

Everyone sat down, Jackson prayed, and Mom watched her family and realized what a perfect day it was, because of God’s answer to prayer.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Part of this story is autobiographical.  Jackson (not his real name) continued to have problems with drugs and ‘graduated’ into cocaine.  I only wish I had had that angel when “Jackson” was arrested for possession of under 20 grams of pot and possession of paraphernalia.  The next ten years were to be the most challenging and frustrating Frank and I had ever faced as we struggled to get our son out of the drug scene. 

The following year, on Mother’s Day Eve, sheriff’s deputies showed up at the house to arrest Jackson on a violation of probation from that original drug charge.  I asked them if they knew what Sunday was.  They had forgotten and were somewhat sheepish as they confessed they had forgotten to get cards and flowers for their own moms and wives.  I asked if I guaranteed Jackson would be waiting for them Monday morning, would they let me have him for Mother’s Day.  They agreed.  Jackson was taken into custody that Monday morning.  He called me at work to tell me they were there.  I warned him to be cooperative; his voice shook with nerves and shame.  That will be another story.

 What I can tell you is this.  Love your children where they are.  Don’t sugar coat, don’t try to protect them from consequences of their actions, but don’t turn them out.  Tough love is not kicking them to the curb.  Tough love is loving them through earned consequences and being there to try to provide guidance, reassurance, and most importantly, unconditional love.  They need you, more than you know and more than they will admit.  It was love that brought Jackson back.  Love from God and from his family who never gave up on him. 

Verses referred to:

Matthew 18:21-23 (NIV)

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Hebrews 13:1-3 (NIV)

13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

 

The Holy Highway

This is a piece I submitted in a writing contest.  I would truly appreciate some critical feedback so I can improve my writing.  Promise, I won’t get mad.  In this setting, I did expand some description in the story, but not much.    Thanks.

highway_to_heaven_wallpaper_by_vuenick-d5193zf

 

Isaiah 35:8-10New International Version (NIV)

And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10     and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The air was thick with fear, the trees and fallen logs made for slow going and he needed to move fast.  He needed to get away.  He vaulted over some fallen logs and ran, ran as hard as he could; his breath coming out in ragged gasps.   The crashes behind him suggested whatever it was in pursuit was huge and fast.

“Bad, Bad, LeRoy Brown, Was the baddest man…..”

Matt sat up with a start reaching blindly for the cell phone.  His heart was pounding; he was covered in a cold sweat, felt it dripping down his back.  He sort of remembered the dream, he remembered the terror that had crept up his spine.

Finally his fingers closed over the phone.   Hullo?”

“Matt.  It’s Frank, from church.  Listen man, we need to talk…”

“Hey Frank.  Listen, I just woke up, I’m late.  I gotta go.  I’ll give you a call later.”  Matt cut Frank off with a promise he did not intend to keep.   Church.  No time for it.  A small bit of guilt pricked at the back of his mind, but he had been explaining it away, the guilt was less and stayed around for a shorter period of time.

“Sure, Matt, but don’t forget.”  Frank’s voice belied the frustration he felt at Matt’s avoidance.

“No problem.  Call you later.”  Matt replied without thought and hung up.    He looked at the time, 10:46 AM.  He could sleep for another hour; and let himself fall back onto the sheets that used to be white but were now grey.  He caught the sour smell of sweat, body odor and knew he needed to put fresh ones on the bed.  Maybe tomorrow, if he thought of it.  He was back asleep in moments.

The dream began again; this time, Pastor Frank was running alongside of him.

“Hey, what’re you doing here?  Shouldn’t you be doing ‘church stuff?’” Matt asked.

“Ain’t no more church, Matt,” Frank panted.  “Some monster out of hell devoured it.  It’s gone, I called you,  remember?”

“I remember, I was tired, haven’t been sleeping, keep having this dream … watch that log” and they both leapt over it.

“Beast from hell?  Sounds like what ‘s behind us,” Matt panted as the roar of an ungodly being rang through the woods.  It was hungry, hungry for souls.   “I can’t run much longer, we need a tree, a big one. “

They saw one in the distance and made for it with all the strength they had.   As they sat on the branch the creature burst into the clearing; it presented the most terrifying sight either man had ever seen.  It was a dull greenish-gray,  like  sick Spanish moss.  Tendrils that ended in sharp pincers dangled from it as did long octopi arms with suckers on the inside and eyes on the outside.  It’s mouth was a circle with rows and rows of sharp dagger-like teeth.  It was six feet tall and almost twice as long.  It was the ugliest most fearsome thing they had ever seen.  “R-R-OU-WGH-R!

 The sound was furious,  so loud it hurt their ears and the evil behind it spit right into their souls.

“What is that thing?”  Matt whispered.

“Do you remember what I talked about when we last met?” Frank asked.

“About the highway?  Yeah, you called it something … the, holiness, that when we got to it we would be safe. You were talking about salvation.”

“Yeah, that’s right, the Highway of Holiness,  from Isaiah.”  I explained that as you drew closer to God, Satan would attack to keep you from that Highway of Holiness.  He had promised it to the Israelites and He promises it to us.  You don’t get it.  You’re so close and Satan is after you.  You must be something special because he has set his beast after you.  You’ve been called, in a very big way.

“Your mother had a hard time.  She dreamed she was in hell; saw the people, heard their screams, felt their despair and hopelessness.  Now it’s your turn.  This is your wakeup call.   WAKE UP!!!!”

Matt sat up with a start.  He looked at the time, 10:53.

He sensed the malevolence; there was a smell, brimstone?  “It’s time to see Frank.” He decided and began toward the shower; caught the flash of movement, a tail?  Then the growl, so familiar….from his dream!  Something told him to get down on his knees yet he continued toward the bathroom.

 “DOWN ON YOUR KNEES!”   The force knocked him backward.  He fell to his knees just as the demonic beast jumped toward and over him, tendrils and octopi arms reaching, eyes staring, mouth agape, teeth grinding.  He prayed to God, rededicated himself.

“Dear God, Jesus!  What is this thing!  Okay!  I have messed up, first it was the job, then when I did have a Sunday off I got lazy, wanted to sleep in.  God, you got my attention years ago and had to let me put myself in a bad spot.  Now Satan is after me.  God, I’m your man.  I promise, no more messing around, no more being lazy.  Please, Jesus, you were then and are still my Savior.  My sins can only be forgiven through your blood sacrifice, I know that, there is nothing I can do to earn heaven, so I accept your gift of salvation and will honor it and you.  With all my heart, Christ, I swear!  Amen and…”

The beast had been facing him sizing him up, preparing it’s final assault .  As it leapt toward Matt, Matt finished his prayer with “Amen!”  The hell-bent creature had started with a great roar but ended in a scream of pain as it seemed to try to protect itself from blows or something causing it pain.  It just disappeared and with it the stink of brimstone and sulfur.

“Oh, Wow!  Talk about spiritual warfare!  Thank you angels!”

Matt stumbled back into the bedroom, picked up the cell phone and dialed.

“Frank?  Yeah, man, I’ll be right there.  We need to talk.”

I am Pro-Life and Why

In high school, I wanted to be a nun, a bride of Jesus Christ.  Not just any nun, but a Maryknoll nun.  One who would minister to the poor, bring them the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  I loved Jesus, loved my rosary and did not fit in too well with others.  I was unsure of myself and quite shy.  There were stresses at home that added to that.  I graduated high school never having been asked on a date, never attending my Senior Prom, still waiting for that first magical kiss.  I was afraid to tell anyone I wanted to be a nun.  After all, they were smart and I wasn’t.  They expected you to go to college, learn Latin.  No, that was nothing someone like me could do.  So you can see, I had a self-image problem, from the very beginning:  too fat, not pretty enough, not good at sports,  not good at school work, few friends.  I had no idea what kind of future I could have not with a pedigree like that! There she was, no skills, few friends, no social life.  She discovered a place where none of that mattered, where she could just be, she found dance clubs.  Finally, she was not a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  The local military base made one club her favorite as was no shortage of handsome young men to dance with, sometimes take her out on a date.  It did not happen often, those dates, but going to those clubs made her feel more like a part of life.

My parents had sent me to secretarial school, but my typing was sad and my shorthand worse.  Before they kicked me out, I dropped out.  I did not want my parents to know that I wasn’t smart enough to do what my mother had no trouble doing.  It seemed better to look the rebellious teenager.  So Mom and Dad got me a job at a local bank.  There too, it seemed I was another square peg in a round hole.  The other tellers only talked to me if the absolutely had to and would make sure I knew I was not part of the group.  Well, I quit.

In the process I did find a place where I fit in, on the discotheque or dance club scene.  Every now and then I would actually have a date.  One Saturday night my date stood me up.  I announced to no one in particular; “Well, I am going out anyway.”   Mom warned me that it wasn’t right, a lone girl going into a bar alone. “ Oh Mom, it isn’t a bar and I know everyone there.  Besides if he shows up I don’t want him to think I didn’t have anything better to do!”    I had no idea how right my mother was, but I had gotten into the habit of arguing and doing the opposite of whatever my parents said.

I headed on out to my favorite club which was a ways from home, but it was near a military base so obviously to an eighteen year old, the best possible place to go.  When I got there I waved to the owner and the bartenders and then saw a young man I had been wanting to know better.    We made small talk for a bit and then he asked if I could run him back to the base so he could grab some more money, he was running light. It was a pretty common thing so I didn’t think much of it.  One had to hold a certain rank to be permitted a car and many of the non-coms just hadn’t been in long enough to make rank.

When we got to the car he reached for my keys,  “I’ll drive,” he said.

“Oh no you don’t,” I said laughing.  “You’ve had too much to drink.  I don’t want my car wrecked!”

SLAP!  The blow landed hard across my face and almost knocked me to the ground.

“I said “I’ll drive!'” he said again, anger edging his voice.  He picked the keys up from where they had fallen out of my hand onto the ground and opened the passenger door for me to get in.  Now, I should have ran immediately back into the club screaming my head off, but at eighteen I was nowhere near as sophisticated or street smart as I thought myself to be.    I got in quietly, afraid to argue more, too naive  to be smart.

He be-bopped around her car and slid into the driver’s seat;   “Boy, you have short legs,” he remarked as he pushed the seat back.  They were not bucket sets so the entire seat slid back.  I did not respond, just looked out the window and wondered if she was going to have a black eye.  I will never forget him trying to joke me into a party mood.

He maneuvered the car out of the parking lot and turned right.   “Wait, the base is left, why did you turn this way?” I was afraid he would hit me again, but was afraid he had forgotten his left from his right.  He wasn’t drunk, he knew exactly what he was doing.

“Oh, just a little something I wanted to show you.” he remarked casually.

I had heard of these tryst spots and did not want to have anything to do with one.  What went on in those spots was something I was not ready for and did not want to learn about.  “I don’t want to see, let’s just go to the base.  I promise I won’t say a word about what happened and you can get another ride back to the bar if you want, I just want to go home.”

“Aw, come on, I promise, nothing will happen, it’s just a nice quiet place, you’d like it.”  He never took his eyes off the road.

I felt  helpless and lost and moved closer to the door wondering if I could just open the door and fall out of the car.  I looked around and didn’t recognize anything and was too afraid to jump from a moving car.  So I stayed put and hoped for the best.  I just wanted to go home.

He stopped in a deserted area facing a swamp that opened eventually onto the Atlantic Ocean.  She was truly lost.  There was no water to see,  just cattails that belied the wetness of the area.  He had driven pretty far in so they were surrounded I couldn’t tell other than by the back of the car which way we had come in.

He reached over and tried to pull me to him.  I resisted.  He chuckled and moved across the bench seat himself and began to try to seduce me with gentle kisses; but those gentle kisses became harsher and angrier as I tried to push him away.

SLAP!  POW!  I saw stars.  The slap had not been too bad but the punch, I had never been hit so hard in my  life.  I was terrified.  I didn’t know what to do next but knew what he planned and what he would do.  So there I was, in the middle of who knew where with a man who had no problem beating me up to get his way.  How far would he go?  How much did I want to get hit?  I stopped, stopped resisting, stop responding in any way.  I just laid there.   This was my  first experience with a man and I was beyond terrified.

After a time, he seemed satisfied and sat up and started the car and drove to the base.  No words were exchanged until he stopped the car in front of his barracks.  “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” he began;  “If I ever want a date with a really nice girl I will call you.”

I just looked straight ahead.  Again I could have called for help, could have told an MP what had happened.  I was still so afraid, and now so ashamed.  Mom had been right;  now I was used.

On the way home, my car started to act up with loud backfires and billows of black smoke.  I   got as far as my girlfriend’s house.  All the lights were out but  the car would go no farther.  The entire family got up.  I scrubbed my face with my hands, put on a smile and asked if I could spend the night.  Once in Deb’s house, I ran upstairs to her bedroom and looked at my panties.  Tthere was the proof of innocence stolen, they were covered in blood.  I screamed  a loud, horrified scream and fell on the bed sobbing.

“Is everything alright?  What is wrong?  Did something happen to you?: Mrs. Rizzi called up the stairs.   Deb ran to the door.

“Everything is fine, she was just a little nervous and then tripped and scared herself.  She is fine,” Deb called down, trying to cover for me.

Mr. Rizzi called my dad to advise where I was.  He shared that he thought something bad may have happened.  Kate had not realized how bad she had looked, pale face, in a state of shock.

The next morning  mom and dad came out to pick me up.  They wanted to see the condition of the car and what it might need.  The car engine had blown up and the men decided there was no point even having it towed home so the appropriate arrangements were made.  I climbed into the back of Dad’s car and  did not utter a word all the way home.  Mom and Dad tried to find out what had happened but I stayed tight lipped.

In in those days, a girl was either good or nice.  A good girl was a virgin, married a nice man and raised children.  A nice girl was the town tramp.  I was no longer a good girl, I was a tramp.  With that in mind I began to act the part in the way I dressed, talked, and acted.

Dad found this out, what I had become when he  was talking to someone who was new to the town.  He started to talked about a town tramp he had heard about who was pretty friendly.  He only knew her first name and had a general description.  As he described her and finally gave the name, her father froze.  The man had described his daughter, Kate down to her name.

Mom and Dad tried to get me into counseling which I refused; they tried to restrict my activities by locking me out if I came in too late or threatening to kick me out.  I would give them a blank stare and say  “If that is what you want.”  I didn’t figure I deserved much else.

Finally I became pregnant.  My parents had no regard for the man I had been dating.  I was in love with him and had daydreams of us raising this child in a land of rainbows and lollipops.  Dad ordered him to marry me.  Well you didn’t order Frank to do anything.  He refused.  I was in such a state of confusion and denial I just sat there.   Dad and Frank had a pretty bad argument and Dad decided I would never marry him.  I was whisked off  out of the country for a very illegal abortion.

He was a real doctor and did a number of abortions for people in the States.  He was all business and never thought about the placement of the equipment.  The vacuum tube ran right next to my face.  As the babe was pulled into pieces as the suction machines do, the tube would vibrate as larger parts of my now  dead baby were pulled through the tube.  I will never forget the sound or the vibrating of that tube. suctioned out.  In the recovery room I cried the tears of a mother who lost her child.  In my mind an entirely new persona was forming.  I had been just a tramp.  Now I was a tramp and a murderess.  I was worse, I had murdered my baby.  What could possibly be lower or more disgusting?

This all took place a few days before Christmas.  When I returned home, I slipped out of the house to return Frank’s Navy sailor shirt and other things to him.  We sat down on the steps at his rooming house and he apologized for everything and said he thought we should get married.  I responded with one sentence; “It’s too late.”  We sat in silence for a while and then I got up and left.  The next night we found ourselves at the house where he rented a room for Christmas Eve.  Mom and Dad were trying to get me to leave the room where Frank was and sit in the dining room with them.  My deviant behavior kicked in and I began to jump up and down as hard as I could.  I refused to stop and the more people told me to the harder and faster I would jump.

I started drinking heavily and had a brush with alcoholism.  I quit drinking for two years but prior to the shock of possible alcoholism; my hard drinking would drown out either what was happening to me or give me the false courage to drive my car into the big oak trees that grew in my neighborhood.  The car would never seem to cooperate as my suicide weapon and sometimes I would scream in frustration and fury.

Even though I stopped drinking, my destructive behavior continued and Mom and Dad finally talked me into seeing a psychologist.  He did not seem very caring or interested so I put on my show face.  I was sent to a  woman but I was having no more of it.  They couldn’t change what was or had been and in my mind they were putting me down, pointing figers at me.  Secular psychiatry offers a hurting person no help, no answers, at least it didn’t for me.  They did not see what I needed.  I needed to have my soul treated first.  They were starting in the wrong place, putting the cart before the horse as it were.  No one realized I still wanted to be a nun, dedicate my life to God, but a murderess, a killer of babies?  I deserved hell and I knew it.

Years went by and she produced another pregnancy, out of wedlock.  I was forced out of the Navy, harassed by the Navy wives, abused by the doctors who would examine me and I found myself back home with Mom and Dad, this time an unwed mother at twenty five.

When I let it be known that the baby’s father was Philippine I was told I had to put it up for adoption.  Besides, it would be better for the baby, what could I possibly offer it, someone like me.  I was loose and a single parent.  I had finally found an obstetrician who treated me with kindness and compassion.  He gave me permission to keep the baby.  Erick’s birth did not fix me.  I was still the tramp who had killed her baby.  I was a good mother or tried to be but I always saw myself as garbage.

I married Bob, a monster.  He beat Erick to a pulp, this made my final failure complete.  I had allowed a monster to beat and possibly permanently damage my child.   The marriage lasted five months.  Again, she was back with her parents, dependent on them as she could not earn a living wage to feed her and her precious son.   He had become her identity, for she had none that she was willing to look at.

As a single parent, I was shunned by married women as a threat to their marriage.  I knew they had nothing to worry about, but evidently they were not secure in their marriage.  I hated them for that and had “fun” with their attitudes and insecurities.  Deep down it hurt so much, but  I was used to it.

I met Frank number 2 and we married and I had two more children.  I asked Jesus to come into my heart, to be my Lord and Savior, to forgive my sins.  Jesus did, I did not.   I lived under the guilt of what had happened so many years ago.  Eventually I lost sight of why Jesus could possibly love or forgive me.   I would reach out to Him – I knew then and know now that he is truth and salvation, but how could I have that I was a  murderess, worse, the murderer of my own baby.

The trials of life continued, my younger sons made  disappointing choices, I buried my parents, suffered merciless nightmares begged God, apologized to Him, became unbelievably defensive.  I was coming undone, not much was mattering any more.  All she could see was baby killer.

One sad night Jesus came to me,  a dream a vision, I can’t say, but He was there.  He dressed me in a white gown and put the most beautiful white veil on my head.  He told me I was pure just as my name, Kathleen meant.  I shook my head and He stopped me;  “You are pure because of My blood.  You are my bride and you are pure with no stain of sin.”  For forty eight years I  had punished myself for that act; longer still for the rape.

Sexual sin, be you the sinner or victim damages you for the rest of your life.  I was that girl, I am now that woman and fir the first time in almost fifty years I am beginning to put that sin, the sins it led to, the guild it caused behind.  I still give praise because Jesus took what was broken and through His love, mended it, mended me.  I am still mending.

 

 

 

 

Relentless Mercy

 

Jesus

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35, 37-38

 

 

“Yes, Jesus Loves me!”  “Yes, Jesus Loves me!”

“Yes, Jesus Loves me!”  “The Bible Tells Me so!”

Jesus with the little children

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We should believe with the innocence of children, for we are His children

My Personal Testimony and Reason for this Writing.

I am an apathetic Christian.  This is a confession I do not take lightly.  I read books written by these wonderful authors who are truly on fire for God.  I read the Epistles and see how Paul counted his life as nothing, then wonder, “Why don’t I feel like that all the time?”  Oh, to be sure, I have my moments.  But so often the cares and living of this life just wear me down, I get so tired just coping with the day to day drudgery, God gets lost in there and I go to bed, get up, do what I must, go back to bed and before I know it an entire day has passed and I have not spoken to Him once.

Now realize, I am not talking about the bakery clerk or my neighbor or even my husband, I am talking about He who created the universe!  I am talking about a powerful being, one who has so much power I cannot even conceive of it!  I am talking about the One who made me, the One who died on a cross so I could be with Him, the One who, no matter how much I ignore Him, no matter what my sins are, be they purposeful or not, continues to pursue me with that wonderful, sometimes frightening,  overwhelming message:  “I love you, come to Me!”  He is there, calling me, holding out His arms to me.  Me?  “Not now, I’m too busy.”  So glib, so foolish.  Sometimes, when I take a moment to recognize exactly WHO is calling me, I don’t answer at all, instead I hang my head in shame, a tear may drop and meander down my cheek as I say in a voice filled with shame and unbelievable sadness:  “I am not worthy.  If only you knew what I have done.  I am not worthy.”  And I walk away from that offer of total forgiveness, of total agape love, tears running down my face, knowing I am not good enough to be approached by, to look at, and definitely not be a part of His universe.

Have you done that?  I think we all have at one point or another.  After we have said we were too busy or too sinful what happens?  He comes back, doesn’t He?  He calls out to you again, He holds his arms out again.  If you are quiet and listen you can almost hear Him tell you how precious you are to Him, how He loves you exactly as you are, that He knows all there is to know about you.  It is enough to stop you dead in your tracks, to bring you to your knees.  You catch your breath, for an instant you feel the beauty and peace of his touch.   Then the realities of life call you back as a horn blares or one of the kids starts to cry and you run back to that drudgery we all call life.

It’s so weird, if I am talking to someone about Jesus and following Him, my passion is palpable.  Sometimes I even get too intense as I turn from Old to New Testament showing how Jesus has always been with us, how we are in a time of grace that is fast coming to an end, I describe hell, read from Psalms, Proverbs, even Song of Songs so that whoever I am talking to can try to comprehend Christ’s love for us.  I usually give too much information and give it so intensely I make the receiver uncomfortable.

I love Jesus, I love and believe in Him so very much.  Why am I so lazy about spending time with Him?  To a point it is so very me.  I tend to care about and love people from a distance.  I don’t get to close to anyone, not my bestest BFF from school, not my BFF from church.  They usually have to chase me down.  I don’t know why; it is certainly not that I enjoy my own company so much.  More than anything else, I guess it is fear of rejection.  Ok, insecurities.  But I don’t have to be insecure in Christ, did He not say,

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:2-5

            There is one thing we have forgotten.  We can turn this life from drudgery into joy!  He will lighten our loads, put a spring in our step.  The same chores will be there, but somehow, with Him at our side, they seem lighter.  But we have allowed the cares of this life to eclipse the most important thing of all, our relationship with our God and our Savior.  So, does He walk away and go to someone else?  No!  He is determined, His love for each of us is so deep He does not stop, He does not rest, until as little children, we are enfolded into the loving care of His arms.

His pursuit of us is relentless.  I kind of liken it to something once said in “Terminator” when Kyle Reese told a very frightened Sarah Connor:

“Listen and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

Jesus has something better than pity, He has empathy.  He knows where we are coming from, He understands our pain, our hurt, our hopes and dreams, our temptations, even our sins.  Just like a true lover, He looks past all of it, He sees only the person He loves so dearly He died for them.  You can’t bargain with Jesus, He knows your yesterday, your today, your tomorrow.  Jesus has no fear, there is nothing He needs to fear.  He made it all, He can break it all!.  He will absolutely never stop until you are dead.  Once you have moved to that phase of life, your eternity is set.  He either welcomes you home or says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Which words do you want to hear?  “Welcome home, good and faithful servant”   or “Depart from me …” .

I took the time to think about eternity the other night.  I just finished an article about what heaven is really like.  I was trying, as best as my finite mind can, to grasp the idea of eternity.  For some reason I pictured hell.  The burning, the pain, but what eclipsed everything was the total absence of that love I have felt all my life.  Jesus was nowhere.  Nowhere.  Then the horror fell on me.  This pain, this aloneness was never, ever, ever going to stop.  There would be no rescue, there would be no gentle voice calling to me, just the horrendous screams of others who were also there.  Behind it all was the almost maniacal laughter of the lost one himself, Satan.  This would never end.  I couldn’t even begin to grasp what that meant but I knew after ten thousand years of this pain, it would continue, for another ten thousand, and another ten thousand after that and for the first time in my existence I felt a total loss of hope, I came face to face with complete and utter despair.  Then I realized I had put myself in this position.

All I had to have done was say “Yes” when Jesus would call to me and hold out His arms, but I was “too busy” or too cool to give him an answer.  Now, NOW I understood why He had been so relentless in His approach.  He knew what my future would be, He has tried oh so very hard, but me and my “oh so cool” free will chose and chose very poorly.  NOW I understood, when it is too late.

I woke up from my reverie, cold chills ran down my spine.  I prayed desperately, as a drowning woman, “Please God, oh please, don’t let me go there.  Oh please, forgive my sins.  Oh please take my will, take all of me, don’t let me go.  I am so scared, I know I should go there.  Please, please, please don’t let me go there.”  I almost sobbed the words out.

Jesus came, He comforted me, held me in His lap, reminded me how easy it would be to start my day with him, easier yet to end my day with him.  Heck, I don’t even really enjoy the stupid TV shows I watch and my puttering on the computer is just a way to pass the time.  Why not put all that wasted time into Him?  He was right.  So what do I do now?  Watch stupid television shows and putter aimlessly on my computer.

So, I am not proud to say it but I am an apathetic Christian who needs to be turned on, plugged in and tuned up.  I thought to look at the relentless mercy, grace, and love Jesus offers us, of His Relentless Love and as we begin to better understand, and truly fall in love with the true Master and Maker of the Universe.

So, that is my story.  I read Genesis and see how from generation to generation humankind was more interested in their here and now than in their Creator.  So we from what I can see, even with the benefit of the New Testament, we have not grown a whole lot.  What is real, what is necessary for each of us to have the peace in our hearts and souls that we crave is not through things, or stuff, or that new car, or promotion at work; it is getting ourselves right with our Creator.

It is my simple hope that this testimony brings some closer to Jesus Christ, to a saving walk with our creator and savior.    As relentless as His love is for us, we must be as relentless in following Him, in spending time with Him, seeking His wisdom and Grace.

Christmas Spirit?

Christmas …..  Happy Holidays ……. Kwanzaa …….  Black Friday ….. Cyber Monday.    So what is Christmas?  The stores play special music  starting
Halloween or even before urging you to buy.  They are so anxious to give shoppers the best deals they stay open Thanksgiving and on into the frenzy of greed called “Black Friday”.  Let us not forget the deals we can Presentsfind in cyberworld on the Monday after Thanksgiving.  The message is if you care about someone you will buy, buy buy.  So, is that what Christmas is, a time to spend money you don’t have on things people probably don’t want?

Then there is the tree.  Millions are cut down every year.  There are tree farms where the perfect trees are cultivated and grown for this very reason.  EaChristmas Treech year families go out and select a tree for their home decorate it with lights and baubles, put all those presents they are told by retailers they need to give to love and feel loved.  Then  in 2 or 3 weeks they will take that tree  down and drag to the curb.  Just another piece of trash.

Maybe it is all those parties.  People have a lot of parties during Christmas.  Oh, so much fun, perhaps, if you go.  They can also be a source of pain, drink too much, forget yourself, do something you never would have done. Have you ever noticed the smiles on so many of the party goers, so plastic, so fixed.

Then there is the music, makes you feel so warm and tingly inside.  The Snoopycookies, the fudge, the goodies that come in from everywhere!.  An extra hour of workout this week!  Now don’t forget all those TV specials.  The kids jump up and down, watch for a bit and somewhere along the way you realize you are watching “Rudolph” or any of the myriad of Christmas specials they run year after year after year.  You can sing the songs along with the characters you know them so well.

All these things can add to a feeling of happiness, warm fuzziness, or they can lead to despair.  So many are alone, so many cannot face their family again with no job, no money, no tree, no gifts.    All that happens for other families, not for them.  Those who are single often feel a pain, a lonliness.  They just want to get through the “holidays” and get back to normal.

So, as they say in the song, “Is that all there is?”   You make yourself get all excited, then you don’t know why but you feel this … emptiness.  No, that’s wrong, this is Christmas!  How can you feel sad?  Empty?  How can you be asking “Is that all there is?”    Well, if that is all you look for, the tree, the gifts, the parties, yup, that is all there is.  But there is more.

Christmas is the Day of the Savior’s birth.  It is a religious holiday.  It isNativity the day Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity left His heavenly throne to come to earth as a helpless baby to lay in a trough, a place where animals ate.  To live a human life, to stub His toe, scrape His knee, to have to listen to Mom and Dad, to be hungry and thirsty, to have to submit to elders.   All the while having been the One who created the universe, the earth and all that was in it.

As you truly dwell on the enormity of that, of what Christ gave up to come here, to Earth, to allow  beings as sinful and insignificant as mankind to  mock Him, nail Him to a cross all so we could be with Him in Heaven.  As we consider Christ’s whole reason for coming to earth; to teach us how to love, to die on the cross so we could join Him in heaven.  NOW things are starting to fall into place.  Now we begin to see why those other things left us feeling a little empty, now we begin o understand the rest of the story.  For it is not just a babe in a manger, it is the decision of a loving God coming to live and walk among us.  To allow us in our conceit and false wisdom to nail Him to a cross and allow His physical body do die, only to be reanimated proving His conquest over the grave.

Some reject this offer of love, of mercy, of forgiveness of sin, they turn instead to a god of hate, lies, and cruelty so we see scenes like this                 isis2using their hate and love of anarchy and violence to claim to fight for their god.  They steal childhood from children, kill indiscriminately, rape, torture, all in the name of Allah.    I feel no joy in this, my outward joy, it is measured.

We live in a world where the very standards upon which this nation was founded are now considered not politically correct.  We live in a time where our leaders do not lead, where “Black Lives Matter.”  Today, babies can be killed when half born because a woman has a “right to choose”.    In today’s world, all that Jesus said was right is now criticized and what He said was wrong was applauded.  We live in an age when public prayer is forbidden as  is mention of God.  Our post modernistic world is one of the most humanistic, hedonistic civilization that ever lived.

As long as we have children who go to bed hungry or cold, who cry Syrian Christiansthemselves to sleep because they or their parents may not survive the night.  As long as we have such hatred in this world as to allow families to die of cold or starvation as happens in Syria right now; as long as we have drive-by shootings that kill innocent children so some punk can qualify for a gang, I take little joy in the trappings of Christmas.  Oh yes, the tree is up, the presents in all their profusion are slowly making their way under it.  Plans for a feast that will leave everyone groaning from too much food are in full swing, and I will love all of it.   But in my mind’s eye, I will see the children I sponsor who may not survive because they are in the wrong place to be Christian, I will see little children forced to kill, others dead because of the cruelty of a belief.  I will think of those who have given up, who can’t face another Christmas alone or without a job and I will think of the Reason for the Season, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.    We are His floJesusck and He is our shepherd and He will look after each of us as lovingly as we see Him nurture the lamb in His arms.  My spirit is in my heart, in my prayers for those I know in harm’s way,

So before you buy that next present, you know, the one you forgot for Uncle Joe?  or Great Aunt Penny, stop and offer a prayer for the protection and provision of those not as fortunate, take a name off that tree in the store, slip a dollar in the Salvation Army Bucket.  Help to make someone else’s Christmas better than it would have been.

Christmas spirit does not come from shopping, TV shows, carols, or any of the trappings.  It comes from remembering why came to this earth and why.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT!

 

 

A Fortress is My God

Image result for a mighty fortress is our godCan you see it?  That great stone fortress?  It is there; I just need to keep my eyes on Him, my mind and heart in His Word and It is there.  Mighty and strong in the distance, the sun sparkles like diamonds on those great stones, and I know once I reach it I will be safe from the harm and temptation, the evil and pain of this world.  I must keep striving and as I race, running with all my might.  The fear begins to leave, and as I look around I see I am flanked on either side by mighty soldiers!  They are tall and mighty, they fight off the enemy and shout encouragement to me!  A new strength flows through me; I am renewed!

As I reach the ramparts of the fortress, I see so many others calling encouragement. The prayer warriors from all over.  Their prayers sent the soldiers; their prayers sent encouragement and strength to my soul!  As I stayed true, even as I began to faulter, they prayed and prayed on.

My God is my mighty fortress!  He is my rest, my portion, my safety, my strength.  I turn and see the horde of evil that pursued my beaten back by that army of God.  The Lord is there, His arm about my shoulders.  “It is good you are here, loved one.  Rest and refresh, regain your strength for soon you will once again join the good fight.  As I sink into the couch, I find His Word sitting on a table next to me.  Beside it one simple glass of water.  I open the Bible, sip that wonderful, life giving water and I hear Him, in the distance.  “Give your burden to me, loved one.  Take my burden for it is lighter and shared by many.”

I slip off the couch into a deep rug and on my knees, confess my sin.  In simple humility I share my joys and fears, My sins and my blessings.  I share my sorrows, my hopes, and my dreams.    And in that sweet hour of prayer, my rest from the real world, I again begin to feel that overwhelming love. It is hard to realize how much He loves me, but He does.  My breathe catches, it is so hard to breathe with the intensity of His love.  As I rise from the floor I see that fortress fall away,  my comrades are there, still fighting the good fight.

Refreshed and strengthened from my time in the safety of His love, I draw in a breath.  Just before I plunge once again into the struggle against sin, the struggle against the evil one, I look up and utter a thank you, “Thank you, Lord, for loving one such as me.  Thank you, Lord, for believing in me and for loving me.  “

Freedom of Religion or Freedom of Worship?

Of late, the term Freedom of Worship has been gaining popularity.  So, is Freedom of Worship the same thing as Freedom of Religion?  You guessed it, I am talking about the First Amendment.  I do not know if you realize it, but many of our rights have disappeared, especially during our present administration.  We have lost a lot because Barrack Hussein Obama believes he knows what we need better than we do.  Basically his decisions are based purely on his own personal agenda.  Anyway, that is a blog for another time.

Let me explain the politically correct meanings of Freedom of Worship and Freedom of Religion.  Freedom of Religion is exactly what it says.  The freedom to believe what you want how you want.  This implies a particular world view.  For instance, the world view of someone who embraces the Islamic faith is different from a person who embraces the Christian faith, which is again, different from an atheist.  This is the freedom expressed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

The concept of Freedom of Worship is a new term.  It refers to what an individual does in his or her place of worship for an hour or two a week.  This does not dictate actions outside of that time of worship.  It implies a global world view as the act of worship, according to the individuals who coined the phrase does not impact actions once outside of the room, church, temple, etc.   Are you seeing the difference?

Freedom of Worship means that, in my case, I give worship and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every Sunday, but on Monday I follow the world view and actions set forth by my government.  Thus I will support Planned Parenthood, if I am a service provider I make no distinctions that would be biblical in any way.  You see, biblical decisions and actions would ONLY take place during my worship time or in the privacy of my own home.  The teachings of Jesus Christ could not impact my actions outside of my church or my home.  This I would not live and act with a Christian world view but with an Obama world view.

So, by a clever use of words, our Freedom of Religion, as guaranteed by our First Amendment, is wiped away.  Those in power would say no, we do not understand, we still have Freedom of Worship.  We would be offered re-education classes in human rights, sensitivity, and non-discrimination so we could be “welcomed back into the fold” so to speak.

You may ask, why this differentiation is so important.  There is a huge difference between these to terms.  Our forefathers came to America to practice their faith in God as they chose.  The Pilgrims, actually Quakers, had a specific belief in Jesus Christ, more Calvinistic than the Church of England and this formed their world view.  You see, one’s belief in God dictates their actions in their life.  For instance, compare the world view of an atheist, a Muslim, and a christian.  The atheist has no higher power to be responsible to, no set of morals to live up to other than the laws of the state and his own viewpoint.  He believes in the relativism of right and wrong and will say that what is right for one person may not be right for another, all is relative to the situation and the individual.  On the other hand, the Muslim is controlled by the Q’ran.  His treatment of family, friends, eating habits, business practices, worship are all found in the Q’ran.  His world view is dictated by his religious belief.  The same goes for the Christian.  The Old and New Testaments of the Bible shape the Christian’s behavior not only in church and with his family, but in the real world.

If this nation were to adopt a Freedom of Worship policy, Christians would be forced to accept abortion, sale of fetal body parts, even the purposeful harvesting of fetus…..heck, BABIES, for their pieces and parts, Christmas would be gone and something else would be in it’s place, Easter would become Bunny Day or some such thing.

Those are not the only ways we would be affected.  Books with a religious theme, be they fiction or non-fiction would not be found in book stores,  Publications from only world-based publishers and authors would be available.  Children would receive worldly teaching with regard to sex education and birth control.  Chaplins in any organization would become mental health workers.  Think of other basic changes;  in court, who would you swear to?

Fodder for further thought … Our liberal leadership has already discounted, ignored, “modernized” our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution; history is being rewritten to suit the post modernistic philosophy of relativism; today’s students are being taught that capitalism is bad and socialism is good, the list goes on and on.  At what point will we, as citizens of the United States of America say ENOUGH!!!!  When will we stand up and honor our founding fathers?  If you read, I mean READ the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and it becomes evident that these papers as well as the Federalist Papers are as applicable today as they were when they were written.

We have a choice, remain free and stay vigilant and protect our freedoms or lay down and let narcissits like Obama tell us how we can live.