A Room of Lying Shadows

Her breath caught sharply in her chest. The old grandfather clock in the corner of her dining room had just chimed once again–3:00 am. One more hour had passed since she had moved. She was not sure how many hours she had been there. Maybe only two… but perhaps much more than that.

 

She forced her eyes to move off the bed and look over her quaint bedroom. The moon cast a lonely shadow throughout, causing her belongings to bend and twist in an intolerable mixture of the shadow and the tangible. She enjoyed looking at the jewelry box in the corner, least of all. He had given it to her on their 35th anniversary and she had always cherished it; of course now it seemed to mock her in the faint moonlight, its shape sickening.

 

She lowered her gaze once more to the frail body lying in her bed. She did not need to check to assure herself, she knew it no longer embodied life. The strange form before her and the belongings around her were all that remained of 78 years together.

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She briefly allowed her thoughts to wander to the neighbors. Once word of her dark, lonely night in a room with her dead husband got out, they would be all talk. They had always been all talk–assuming they understood her life. She could just imagine what they would say about her. The teenager in 1504 would call her a “creepy, old lady” to his friends, and the chatterbox gossip in 1512 would pretend to pity her but call her a “sad, pathetic old wretch” when she was alone with her friends.

 

It should be her lying in that bed. Everyone assumed it would be her. But it was him. The man she thought couldn’t die was just that.

 

“Lily… Lily, c’mon! Go out wit’ me jus’ once. I’ll  git you some iced cream. Your favorite… Rocky Road.”

 

“Carl, I’d rather eat dirt then eat iced cream wit’ you!”

 

“Aw… c’mon now…ya know that ain’t true. I seen the way you were lookin’ at me in schoo’ yestidee.”

 

“I’s lookin’ at you wit’ pity, Carl. Tha’s all.”

 

“I saw a who’ lot mo’ then pity, Lily.”

 

Her eyes crinkled at the faded memory. He started chasing her in the 4th level, but she held him off all the way until the 8th grade when he quit to work on his daddy’s farm. She couldn’t remember why now. Everyone told her to play hard to get, so that is what she did. Now that it was over, she could have added four more years to her life with him, if she’d played easy to get instead. He had her all along, anyway.

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He was all she had. She didn’t know where she would go now. She could not remember the last time she swept the floor, made dinner, or washed the bedding. A woman like her couldn’t possibly get along alone. Maybe if she prayed hard enough tonight, the Lord would take her home too. The remainder of her years without him seemed unbearable.

 

She tried to calculate how many years she must have left of her life, although technically her life was lying in the bed in front of her. She was 96. No one lived until 100 nowadays. She would surely be taken before then. Four years. The irony of the significance of that number before their life together and after their life together failed to make an impression on her.

 

“Four years without you, my love,” she whispered into the shafts of silver light.

 

Her heart flitted with hope when she thought it might be shorter than that. Her breath was short now and she could hear her heart pounding in her ears all the time, drowning out all logical thought. She was aware of the weakness of each beat. It used to scare her, but now she relished the thought of death.

 

“How could you do this to me, my darling?” she imagined briefly that his hand moved in the direction of hers, shaking her head at the foolish turn her thoughts were taking.

 

The world outside her shades was beginning to lighten now, and she could hear the birds chirping in the Spruce tree at the corner of their lot. He had hated that tree, every year having to trim it back, trying desperately to control his world.

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“We have no control…” she said this to no one in particular; she certainly did not want him to hear her, still following the habit of being his optimism.

 

She desperately wanted to not see him in the light. It would be all too real in the light. His lips would be blue and his face ashen. The warmth of her hand would no longer be enough to conceal the coldness of his.

 

She must get up. She must make herself move…pick up the telephone…call the police…

 

“Um…hello. My husband has passed away. Can you come retrieve him immediately?”

 

It would be easy. Pick up the phone. Pick up the phone. Walk away from him and pick up the phone.

 

It took her a moment to realize the phone was ringing now. The silence of her husbandless home had enveloped her eerily, so her ears did not immediately register sound.

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She tried reaching for the receiver without taking her hand from his, the weakness of her body failing her. She still felt his hand in hers even after they were separated. Reaching for the telephone was an act of heroism while the stiffness of her body and desolation of her heart worked against her.

 

“Hello,” her voice came out in a whisper.

 

“I woke up worried about you. Is everything okay?”

 

The voice, at first, seemed unfamiliar and distant.

 

“Mom, are you there? I’m worried about you. Please tell me you’re okay.”

 

Ah, it was Carol. How could she have forgotten Carol? The only thing that remained of her life with his, their daughter.

 
Perhaps, there was hope after all.

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I Work for a Dictator

I used to be a teacher and, believe me, it was not an easy job. I was employed by the school district, and my duties involved writing curriculum, planning lessons, correcting papers, entering grades, communicating with parents, dealing with behavior–I could go on forever.  

 

A few weeks ago when I was at the walk-in clinic, I was asked what I did for a living. My reply was, with some hesitation, unemployed. Many would consider this to be true as a stay-at-home mom has no income and no where to go in the morning. However, this could not be further from the truth.

 

I am employed–employed by a narcissistic dictator. I was hired to keep him alive from morning until his bedtime–An absolutely unfeasible task. He is often difficult to please and requests some of the most absurd things from me.

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I am expected to catch him in midair as he attempts to walk nonchalantly off the garage steps, the basement steps, the steps at the library, the steps at the park, etc. If there are steps, he will find them, and attempt to plummet from them–I, attempting to be employee of the year, must never allow him to hit the ground or there will be hell to pay.

 

I am expected to leave him be as he explores his dangerous world atop his wooden chair; I am not to intervene and am to pretend not even to notice, until the precise moment he is about to plunge head-first to the floor. If I intervene prematurely, I am sure to face a jumbled, babbled, and tearful harangue from my little man.

 

I am to know precisely and with confidence what it is he wants when he flails his arms in all directions pointing at every corner of the room. My ability to read his mind must always be on the ball, and I receive no mercy if I guess wrong and get him his milk from the fridge instead of his water.

 

I am expected to follow exactly three feet behind him as he explores the garage, which is full of extremely unsafe objects. My job is to ensure he does not consume any pesticides or employ the use of any power tools. If I feel the need to remove him from these dangers and bring him inside the house, he will become like a noodle, slipping through my hands and puddling up on the floor in, what can only be described as, a full-fledged meltdown.

 

I must prepare for him a different meal each day for lunch and supper. He absolutely will not tolerate leftovers unless it is taco meat or deer sausage. If bread or potatoes are absent from his meal, all other victuals will end up on the floor until he is presented with bread or potatoes, sometimes he prefers both. If he devoured a grilled cheese the previous day, he will surely refuse to eat a grilled cheese the following day. He is too mighty and too important to eat a grilled cheese two days in a row.

 

For breakfast, I am to have fresh baked banana bread sans chocolate chips available at his brusque request. If banana bread is inside the fridge and I have the audacity to present him with a banana or a cutie instead, heads will roll.

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I have lost all self-respect as my main task throughout the afternoon is to spend my time on all fours picking up cheerios, wiping up milk, or scraping smashed, half-chewed, dried bread off the floor. His dog spends more time on two feet than I do.

 

He will not tolerate, under any circumstances, being removed from the bathtub until he is good and ready. It does not matter if I am tired and would like to clock out for the day, my shift having ended over an hour prior; it does not matter if he himself can barely keep his eyes open; it does not matter if the bath water has become the temperature of drinking water: he will inform me when he is ready to exit the bathtub and I am not to take action a moment sooner.

 

He will regularly scream with excruciating thirst, then when he finally receives a drink of water or milk, he will hastily drink one single drop and persist in spewing out the rest upon his shirt, pants, and the floor. He is confident I will not hesitate to change him into something dry and wipe up the floor before he even needs to request it.

 

I am not allowed to divert my attention to my own lunch or dinner while he is eating. All of my attention, as well as my husband’s, must be focused upon his food portions. He may be willing to eat the corn, but absolutely not before he eats his meat. If he runs out of meat, but happens to spot some on my plate, it immediately becomes his meat in which he will scream for until he receives it. When he is full and has received the proper proportions of meat, veggies, and potato, only at this time, may I indulge, cautiously and discreetly, in my own meal.

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If I offer him an amiable suggestion of “no” occasionally when he attempts to eat dirt or lick the dog, he simply laughs at me and does it again in mockery.

 

He finds it absolutely absurd and unacceptable for me to make an appeal for a couple hours off. He assures me he will scream as loud as any human ever screamed, creating a torturous situation for my fill-in, until I arrive back on the front doorstep.

 

I have no right to sleep soundly through the night. It is my duty and obligation to pop willingly and with a delightful mood from my bed the moment he creates a fuss. He will not and should not have to locate his own pacifier in the middle of the night and return it to his mouth. It does not matter if the pacifier is in his hand–I am to come to his aid and place it lovingly where it belongs. Then, he will not tolerate any exit from the room that does not involve me prancing on my tiptoes with held breath.

 

I have no income.

 

I have no pension.

 

I have no health benefits.

 

My hours are horrendous.
Honestly, the only thing that makes my job bearable is the indisputable, exhaustive, all-consuming love I have for my miniature and cuddly, yet ruthless, employer.

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Entombed in Indifference

When the time came, he was certain he would not care. It was undeniable. He had never cared. This would not be any different. When they told him the last day of his life the corners of his mouth jerked faintly, the only indication he’d ever given for a smile. He found it slightly humorous how they looked at him in disgust, some in pity, as if he cared. He really never troubled himself with anything at all. It would be a relief. The last day. On the day they stopped his breath, he would finally breathe.

 

He was shrouded in indifference; like a tomb it had settled its weight upon his soul, becoming more and more oppressive as the time passed.  It was an indifference that kills–literally. He never remembered, at any point in his life, really being sad or angry or happy, as if he had a thing to be happy about. All he recalls is indifference–absolute hollowness.. The hardship he experienced just made him harder, and the few who tried to help him–well, they generally withdrew with their spirits broken. He was void, void of anything, like a vacuum. When he finally found a place he belonged, his family of haters, the Bloods, they called him The Vacuum. He was pretty proud of that nickname. In fact, it continues to be his only source of pride.

 

He had, of course, been called other things throughout his life, particularly toward the end of his freedom: a monster, a wretch, a villain. His favorite was vicious, heartless piece of crap. That one was really meant to get to him, so he relished it the most, imagining the satisfaction on the face of the daughter of the dead man as she pictured him shuddering from her harsh words. Oh how they all thought he’d care, care about something. He didn’t. His lawyer had begged him to “pour out his soul” to the jury in an apology for his actions. Pour out his soul. In order to pour out your soul, you have to have one. His lawyer, Mr. Trayton, was a pretty respectable, powerhouse type of guy, but when he said that to him, he was sure some fear flooded his eyes. Fear was always showing up in the eyes of those who neared him.

 

His only complaint would be the amount of time between his conviction and his death. It was an endless, infinite, brutal amount of time. He would sit in solitary, staring at the wall, hoping for the days to pass. There were no clocks within 100 yards of him, but he was sure he could hear the seconds ticking by, slower than the life of his boss ebbed away. That damn boss of his was a tough one to kill, like a coon.

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***

 

Solitary. It is an emotionless man’s worst nightmare. The Vacuum not only lacked emotion, he lacked imagination. Therefore, he often felt his sanity dripping away like the leaky faucet in his cell. When the guard would bring by his meal three times a day, he tried desperately to get him to stay longer than the four seconds it took to feed him. Farmers allotted more time to feeding their pigs than the guards to feeding him.

 

“Where’s your tray?”

 

“Why don’t you come get it?”

 

“If I come get it, you’ll spend the next month recovering.”

 

He always reveled in the guard’s attempt to intimidate him.

 

“I’ll take my chances.”

 

“I want to see your tray up here within 30 seconds or I will beat you bloody, you scumbag.”

 

“Now that’d be a sight to see.”

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The Vacuum held his breath as the guard trumped back down the hall, his lack of power infuriating. When The Vacuum realized he had given up and wasn’t coming back, his face fell. He loved interacting with the guards, like when he would trip kids in Kindergarten, just to get the teacher to look his way. No one ever looked his way. He didn’t care. He never cared. The indifference just bred within him–a fungus–growing in the shadows of his soul.

 

***

 

He remembers reading “The Crucible” in high school. He can honestly say that is the only piece of writing he has ever enjoyed, since he’s never been able to read on his own. “The Crucible” was a decent unit, though, because the class read it together and listened to it on tape. It fascinated him– the way normal human beings can turn on one another with no remorse. It made him wonder how anyone could expect him to have remorse, when the most respectable of people don’t seem to have it.

 

The desperation of those on trial made him laugh. He was constantly trying to stifle his laughter in the back row, earning dirty looks from the teacher every few minutes. At the end of the play, his teacher explained to the class how each of the guilty were killed. He will never forget Giles Corey, a kind, elderly man who tried to protect his wife but got them both killed instead. Giles was pressed to death. With each stone laid upon his chest, he was expected to confess to witchcraft, but instead simply said, “More weight.” Eventually the weight of the boulders crushed him. The Vacuum still probably thinks about Giles at least once a day. He is Giles. The weight of his indifference presses in around him, but he just smiles and says, “More weight.”

 

The only real difference between him and Giles is that Giles was innocent.

 

***

 

Three days. Three days left of his life. Then, it would all be over. His soul and his body would finally become one–dead. In just three days. He did not think he would care. As the day got nearer, the emotions began to scream inside of him, like choked, tortured beings. He did not recognize them at first. He did not understand where they came from, always assuming he’d been born without them. They were getting louder.

 

His fear was like night, when it is so dark that you’re not sure if your eyes are open or closed.

 

His remorse was like a knife–the harder he tried to pull it out, the deeper it penetrated.

 

His grief was like quicksand, when you’re whole body has succumbed to its might except your mouth and nose.

 

His loneliness was like a scream, muffled yet strong, fighting to the surface, impossible to ignore.

 

“Where’s your tray?”

 

“I… I wanna know what my…my rights are.”

 

“Your rights?”

 

“Like I get a last meal…Do I get anythin’ else?”

 

“You can request visitation from a reverend. He will bring you the Holy Bible, which I’m sure you will find a way to burn. You are welcome to write letters and send them to whomever you choose. I doubt any recipient will open them.”

 

“A reverend?”

 

“You know, like a pastor? Idiot.”

 

His words came out like soup, hot and slow, “I would…I would like to maybe talk with one of them.”

 

“You’re kidding?”

 

He could still hear the guard’s laughter when he reached the end of the hall. The Vacuum’s skin was itchy. He felt like stepping out of it and leaving it in the corner.

 

***

 

The Vacuum had given up talking to a reverend. He had 24 hours left. The knock came after his evening meal had been picked up. He sensed the height of the moon and the thick, Louisiana night air.

 

“Step back and hold your arms out,” the guard harshly announced his presence.

 

The chains on his body felt heavier than the chains around his soul as he padded down the hallway to an inky, cold room. A small man stood in the corner with his hands folded in front of him. Perhaps, it is Giles Corey, coming to take me to Hell. The Vacuum considered this absurdity for a moment before he was forced into a chair by three men. The men did not leave, but stepped back into the shadows as the small man stepped into the dim, yellow light.

 

He stood there for an uncomfortable moment, looking down at The Vacuum. Instead of sitting down in the chair across from him, the reverend removed the chair and brought it to the same side as him, now both their backs were to the guards.

 

Idiot. Thought The Vacuum.

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The reverend’s voice was muted and warm, “Can you tell me your name?”

 

“You know my name. I’m notorious.”

 

“I would like you to tell me anyway so we could get properly introduced.”

“I’m Giles. I don’t give a damn what yer name is.”

 

“I’m Simon Paltron.” The Vacuum was immediately irritated the way the small man acted as if he did not even hear him.

 

“I said I didn’t care.”

“I heard you,” The Vacuum’s muscles settled slightly into the chair. “Do you know Jesus, Giles?”

 

“I know he is a friend of morons who have nothin’ better to do than believe in fantasy.”

 

“If you truly believe this, why am I here?”

 

The Vacuum was unsure of how to answer this question. He was not sure there was an answer. His emotions. They were eating him from the inside out. He thought perhaps a reverend could smother them once and for all.

 

“I…I guess… I’m feelin’ things I ain’t never felt and I know you dudes’re trained in stuff like that.”

 

“What have you been feeling, Giles?”

 

“Just stuff.”

 

“Perhaps, you feel pain? Remorse? Sadness?”

 

“I guess.”

 

“Did you know it doesn’t have to be this way, Giles?” The Vacuum hated the way the small man kept using his name.

 

“Doesn’t have to be what way?”

 

“You don’t have to be in pain. You can find freedom.”

 

The Vacuum chortled as he looked around his world of stone, which would soon become a world of darkness.

 

“Giles, will you do me the courtesy of listening to a Bible verse for one moment?”

 

“I guess.”

 

“I will read from 2 Corinthians 3:17, ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.’”

 

“Sounds like crap ta me. I don’t know no Lord.”

 

“Giles, He knows you. He is waiting for you to confess your sins to Him. He wants you to join Him in heaven tomorrow night.”

 

“Why the hell would He want that?”

 

“He created you. You are His child.”

 

“I ain’t never been no one’s child.”

 

“You have always been His child and He will always be your Father. If you die tomorrow night without repenting, you will spend eternity separated from Him, in Hell.”

 

“Sounds good ta me. I deserve Hell.”

 

What the small man said next took The Vacuum by surprise, “Yes, you do deserve Hell and so do I.”

 

For the first time, The Vacuum took his eyes off the table and glanced at the small man, whose green eyes gazed at him with something unrecognizable. It wasn’t pity or hatred, the looks he was so familiar with. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but it unnerved him in the same way his emotions were tearing at him.

 

He expected the small man to go on, but instead Simon just sat back in his chair and surveyed The Vacuum. The Vacuum looked straight across the table at the wall on the other side of the room, he observed a spider making his way toward the vent and tried to focus on it. He could feel the small man’s eyes on him; his skin was itching again; he wanted to wipe that look off the small man’s face with one effortless motion of his arm. One hit–that is all it would take for such a small, fragile creature. One hit and he wouldn’t have to take any more of this.

 

Suddenly, the small man spoke, startling The Vacuum. “Giles, do you mind if I pray for you?”

 

“I don’t believe in prayers.”

 

“That’s okay. I will believe enough for the both of us.”

 

What the small man did next almost pushed The Vacuum over the edge. He scraped his chair against the stone floor, the sound echoing up to the corners of the room, and put his hand upon The Vacuum’s forearm.

 

His hand was soft and clammy; it had a slight tremor to it, perhaps due to fear or old age. For the first time in his life, The Vacuum hoped it was old age and not fear. He touched him in a way that signalled to The Vacuum that he did not see the chains on his body. He saw the human being under them, maybe he even saw his soul, too. The Vacuum knew this was nonsense, but the warm touch of the small man’s hand was seeping the logic away from him.

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As Simon began to pray, the prisoner noticed the way he lowered his head and closed his eyes. The Vacuum did the same, not wanting to look stupid. He could no longer see Simon, but he could picture the words bumping against his skin and landing upon his clothes, becoming part of him. Words like forgiveness, heart, love, nearness, peace, and acceptance. These were the types of words The Vacuum always repelled like an alcoholic repels self-control. He didn’t understand everything Simon said, but Simon’s voice had a language of its own. His voice was tranquility; the meaning of the words hardly mattered.

 

For 8 long years, The Vacuum had only thought about time, in a place where seconds acted more like days. During Simon’s prayer however, The Vacuum forgot the existence of time. Simon perhaps prayed until morning, maybe it was only a few minutes. The Vacuum devoured his words the way an orphan does attention. Simon spoke and The Vacuum drank and drank and drank, his words more like water than sound waves.

 

When Simon began reading from the Bible, The Vacuum began to rock back and forth, slightly, swinging to the melody inside his body. His emotions had quieted; his hatred had shriveled like a flower without nourishment; God’s peace breathed into his hollow, desolate soul.

 

***

 

Simon’s voice had gained strength and passion by the time he said, “In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.” He had moved to a kneeling position beside the prisoner’s chair.

 

Amen echoed throughout the room and throughout the prisoner’s body–he did not look up; he did not open his eyes; he did not cease rocking back and forth.

 

Both of Simon’s hands were on him now and the silence was creating something inside the room. Simon’s voice was gone now, but it was God’s who continued to speak to the prisoner.

 

Eternity passed through the room when the prisoner finally spoke, now even the guards bowed their heads.

 

“Jesus, fergive me. I need lots of healing. I’m a nasty, gross sinner, but I want a Savior. I didn’t know you died fer me. I woulda confessed long time ago had I known that. I want to see you–man to man– tomorrow night. I ain’t got nothin’ to hide. I wanta fergive myself. Please, Jesus, I need you. Please come into my empty stuff and get rid of the hate and the monster–replace all that with yer love. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you.”

 

Like the loathing used to pour from him, those final words continued to pour from the prisoner’s mouth as the tears, the first in years,  poured from his eyes. Simon allowed it to continue for some time, then, he stood up, placed his hands on the prisoner’s shoulders, and whispered into his ear, “The Lord forgives you. The Lord loves you. You can rest comfortably in this inarguable fact.”

 

***

 

After more prayer and Bible reading, Simon finally stood back to allow the guards to transport the prisoner back to his cell. Simon had laid the Bible into the prisoner’s hands urging him to read it throughout the night and gain all the knowledge of the Lord that he could.

 

“I ain’t able to read,” the prisoner admitted for the first time in his life.

 

“With God, all things are possible. Believe in Him and He will show you the way.”

 

The prisoner immediately missed Simon’s eyes, the moment he turned from him to float out of the room.

 

“Hold up a sec,” he said as he turned toward the small man. “Simon,” the prisoner paused insecurely, “My… my name is… is… Thomas.”

 

Noticing the sudden change in the man’s eyes before him–like a veil had been pulled away, Simon replied, “It is remarkable to meet you, Thomas.”

Sometimes I Dream of a Leader

I do not want to get political. I promised myself I would never mention Trump, Clinton, or even Cruz on this blog. However, as I am elbow deep in my most passionate of prayers on this important day — I would argue the most pivotal day in this country as of late–National Prayer Day, and the Lord has spoken, so now I will.

 

Sometimes I dream of a leader. A leader who will do just that — lead. Every leader of this country who I am familiar with is not a leader, but a follower. A follower of the world. A follower of his own selfish pride. Sometimes I dream of a leader. A leader who will bring us all together as servants of the one true King. He would say things like, “Our moral compass must only point toward the Lord.” “This country is crumbling and the Son of Man is the only entity who will repair it.” “Just as we chastise our children out of love, so the Lord corrects us, His children. Listen to this correction. Honor your Father in Heaven.” “What’s wrong in God’s eyes has become celebrated. It is time to bring it out into the light.” “Repent. Repent and I will see you in Heaven. Remain in your sin and you will suffer for eternity.” He would not apologize. He would not back down and eventually, people would start listening. He would say things that no leader thus far is willing to say because they may hurt or offend or perhaps…lead people to the King of Kings through profound and transforming repentance. Wouldn’t that be a shame?

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More importantly, this leader would know what a family is as designed by God. He would know what a child is, knitted in the womb of its mother from the moment of conception. He would know what freedom is, a place that Christians have as much rights as anyone to stand up for whom they worship. This man, or woman, but most likely a man would encourage churches to recognize the Bible as the only, true, and living word of our Heavenly Father. He would unify the church as an organization that does not worship the God we all wish He was, but the true God. The God who still speaks truth into us from His Holy Word. This man would be proof that God hears and answers prayer. This man would not compromise. This man would not waver. This man would stand firm in his convictions, reminding all Christians that this is what we should be doing.

 

This leader would make people dreadfully familiar with the idea that they are worshipping a Jesus who is far from the Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father. We are worshipping a Jesus who, instead of correcting the woman at the well, encourages and supports her in her sin, so as not to offend her. We are worshipping a Jesus who accepts all of our sins. If this were the true Jesus, He would not have sacrificed His living and flowing blood for us. If this were the true Jesus, He would not have gaping holes in both of His hands. If this were the true Jesus, He would still walk among us, high-fiving us as we swim in our own filth.

 

This leader would know Jesus and He would remind the world of who Jesus is. He is a God to be feared, a God to be revered, a God to whom we are to fall to our knees and beg for forgiveness. We are not worshipping Jesus; we are worshipping ourselves, while we drag his holy name through the muck and mire of our confusion and narcissism.

 

This leader would not be afraid to call a sin a sin. This leader would not be afraid to offend, if only to save. Jesus offended. Jesus saved. This leader would know that and would reflect that. Sometimes I dream of a leader. A leader who will rise up from the ashes that is this nation and say, “I know Christ and I will not be made to believe anything other than His word.”

 

This leader would repulse and cast out the idea that this country no longer needs God. He would call this idea ludicrous. This leader would drag the Lord back to the center of all political issues, which are looking more and more like severe moral dilemmas than anything political. This leader would remind this country that God is still the Ruler of all things, that even the animals belong to Him. This leader would become a voice for every Christian who has been left voiceless. He would encourage all Christians to stand and fight for what is right, to stop allowing ourselves to be silenced by lies. This leader would, most importantly, remind us all, Christians and Heathens alike, that God is still here and we are still in desperate need of His healing and forgiveness.

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So, tonight on this National Prayer Day, I will pray for this leader. Maybe he is in the form of many pastors, or many churches, or the most unlikely of faces, but nevertheless, let him be a Jeremiah of our time. A man who will stand and refuse to sit down. A man who will bring God back to the heart of this Nation, where He belongs.

 

May God Bless America.

What a Mom Does with One of those Bad Days


You know the day I’m talking about. You don’t have to be a mom to be all too familiar with a day that starts out rocky and ends with you pretty much smashed to pieces underneath a pile of not only rocks, but boulders. At 13-months old my son may not be aware of it yet, but he holds all the power concerning what kind of day we are going to have.
He can easily paint our day into a masterpiece or a catastrophe with one effortlesspainting swipe of his hand. However, our abhorrent and torturous type days usually begin with the familiar scene of my little boy crumpled up on the kitchen floor–wailing–for absolutely no reason, just minutes after he has waked. This is inevitably when I sigh and say, “This is going to be a long day.” It also never fails that if we are going to have a day like this, however rare these days may be, it is going to happen when my husband intends to work a 12-hour shift. Without fail. My husband has never witnessed one of these days. It is always just me and my son scraping and scrounging for every piece of happiness we can find just to survive until bedtime.

 

The last time I experienced a day like this was roughly one week ago. It actually began relatively quietly. My son was exploring the house, as usual, squealing and talking with delight as he pulled open my kitchen drawers and forced out the contents, a typical sight for a weekday morning at 7:00 am. I was rushing through my morning routine before I got him breakfast. I had no intention of feeding him until my floor was swept and mopped. I certainly cannot function if my floors need to be swept and mopped, which is a daily occurrence since I am a clean-freak who is a bit of a masochist with her dog and her son and her husband, all very unclean creatures.

 

20160505_114443Things were going just as I would anticipate right up until my husband left for work. No exaggeration here. The second the door closed behind him, my son started screaming. I got him breakfast and he kept screaming. I got him milk and he kept screaming. I laid him down for a nap and he kept screaming. I prayed for it to stop and he kept screaming. I lost my patience. Finally, I managed to calm him enough to get him dressed and get me a shower. I planned to go to the library that morning for story time and then squeeze in a trip to the grocery store before lunch and my son’s crucial, I mean absolutely pivotal, nap time. This was my mistake. I had a very crabby boy, and instead of just throwing my hands up and calling it a day, I tried to keep my original plans. Yikes!

 

We stayed at the library for roughly 10 minutes, a shorter duration than the drive there, before my boy started pounding his head against my chest (the precursor to his tantrum). I got out of there before my son’s grunts got loud enough to warrant a sensitive, yet relieved it is not her kid, look from every mom in the place. Still, I refused to back down. With my son wailing in the backseat, I ventured to the grocery store where he was surprisingly peaceful. However, in my rush to get everything on the list, I forgot nearly half of everything on the list. I, again, lost my patience.

 

Once he was finally down for his afternoon nap, with no lunch in his belly may I add, I attempted to be productive. Productivity. This word haunts me on a bad day. Where my son’s power to ruin a day may reside in his ability to scream louder than me, my power to turn a day around resides in my ability to be productive and cross things off my to-do list. While he slept, I would complete. What I did not expect is for my son’s usual three hour nap to last less than one hour. Now it was my turn to crumple up on the kitchen floor and wail. I, again, lost my patience.

 

The day only got worse as I ran around in circles trying to accomplish something, anything  while my little boy followed me around practically torturing me. I burned supper; I forgot to close the lid on the washer; my vacuum broke; my husband had the stroller in his car so we could not go for a walk; it was too cold to play outside; my dog threw up four times in my living room; my dog also chewed up my flip-flop; I had five loads of laundry to fold; my kitchen had not been cleaned since the morning; my floor was still not mopped or swept. I lost my patience–I lost my patience–I lost my patience. Looking back on it now, I am surprised I survived the day at all.

 

Supper was over and still splayed all over my kitchen counter. I had 90 minutes left before his bedtime, and I was counting down the seconds until I would get to breathe again. It is what I chose to do in this moment that will forever change the way I approach these disastrous and inevitable days. I dropped the dirty dishes, the laundry, the mop and laid down on the floor with my little boy. I wish I could say he magically transformed into the happy boy that I had not seen all day. He didn’t. However, I can tell you that I gained some perspective and some peace as I watched him play and let him crawl all over me. I realized that my son does not have the power to make or break my day. I do.  

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Some people go for beer after a bad day, I go for a Dr. Pepper and a good book 🙂

I don’t want to sound like some cliche, motivational speaker, but I would not have lost my patience as many times as I did that day had I just focused on my irritable little boy and doted on his needs for the day. I didn’t lose my patience because he was crabby, I lost my patience because I was crabby that I was not getting anything done. Here’s the question that really burns me up after a day like this: So what? It does not matter that I accomplished nothing. Had I just accepted the day we were going to have and actually embraced it, I still would have accomplished nothing but would have done it with style, grace, and a smile on my face.

 
So what is a mom to do with one of those bad days? Relax. Breathe. Walk away from all the to-dos. Accept that you are human. Accept that your kid is human and embrace the crappiness that will fill your day because you know the moment you put them to bed, you will miss them.