And Coming in 2016....

"She-Bear in the Beautiful Garden," to be published by Cranberry Quill... an allegory for children of all ages, beautifully illustrated.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 Remembering a Special Day

Twenty-seven years is a long time, any way you look at it. Well, I guess I should rephrase that. Twenty-seven years wouldn't seem especially lengthy for a civilization to rise to splendor and then fall in defeat. It wouldn't be enough time fly by rocket to the outer limits of the universe.

But a 27-year marriage is impressive. Baseball legend Pete Rose, 69, just ended a marriage that long (his second marriage) citing irreconcilable differences. On a happier note, Colin Firth recently received his first Oscar after 27 years of appearing on stage and film. Twenty-seven years of learning lines, getting into character, following direction, taking on less-than-ideal roles...and now, he has an Oscar on the mantle.

The year Pete Rose got married at 42 (for the second time) was the same year a 23-year-old Colin Firth landed his first film role. 1984 was also the year I gave birth to our fourth child.

Adam Rogers Gillette was born at home. If you want to see the house, it is there to see: 5203 Seagrape Drive in Indian River Estates, Fort Pierce, Florida. We had built a tiny home there, then doubled the size. In the new, spacious addition, Adam entered the world the evening of May 22, clean as a whistle. He was born with the sac of waters intact – something that doesn't usually happen in the hospital during physician-assisted deliveries – and looked as if he'd just had a bath. Which he had, in a way.

Surrounded by family and friends, he arrived after an intense (albeit brief) labor. That intensity stayed with him throughout his life, but we couldn't know that then. When I held him in my arms, I thought, “I am in love.” It is a feeling I never lost, not even when he grew to be an incredibly black-and-white, hot-and-cold thinker with a temper that could send me crying into my closet (it was a big closet). A smile and spontaneous hug made everything right with the world again, however. If he'd said something unkind, he would apologize. Whatever he had done to displease or disappoint, he was quick to resolve. And of course, I didn't lose that first love for him when he broke things, as all children do, because he never broke my heart.

Until he did.

We had 16 wonderful years with Adam, years of laughter and baseball, of wrestling with his big brother and rescuing whichever sister called on the talents of Super Adam first, of learning to play chess and getting in a fight at school (in his mother's class, no less), of being sweet on a girl for the first time and taking a road trip to see his sister, of flying his niece around the house like an airplane and embracing grandparents, of getting baptized, of graduating with his GED so that he could start college early, of finding the dream car that would cause his death.

But we can think about that later, can't we? A day after the 27th anniversary of his birth, I'd rather think about his magnificent red hair and freckles. The time, during a board game, that my mother picked up a card and asked ,”When do you feel the safest?” and Adam replied, as perhaps a 10-year-old, “When I'm with my dad.” The time he reduced the basketball ref to laughter by calling for a time-out just as his foot was about to land out-of-bounds, exactly as a big-league player might do. The way he'd dive for the ball, or jump for it, or roll for it, the way the baseball or the basketball or the soccer ball seemed to come alive under his power. I'd rather think about his little legs trying to keep up with the big boys playing in the street or yard outside, not the way his long legs stretched to the end of the hospital bed of the ICU.

In August this year –a short three months away – there will be time to think of his accident, the hospital, the funeral. These are memories that live just below the surface of every day, but dwelling on them would not only paralyze, but dishonor such a precious, excellent young man. It is his life that defines him, not his death. And such a grand life it was, from the very beginning.

I don't know if there are birthday celebrations in heaven. None are mentioned in the Bible, certainly, although there is celebrating when a lost child finds his way back. The marriage feast of the Lamb is planned for some time in the future (not, happily, this past weekend as had been predicted by some). But I would like to think that those who have gone on ahead still mark the start of their lives on earth. If that is the case, I can see Adam gathering everyone together on May 22 (as we count days): Grandma Polly, who he loved so much, and Papa George (for whom he was named), and his Uncle George he never met, and other assorted family members along with his Little League coach Johnny Steele and pitcher Chris Lewis, another special Adam from Fort Pierce – Adam Snyder – and fellow homeschooler, Ian Zook. And over there, Jesus and Mary are serving up riblet baskets even better than the ones Adam always ordered at Applebee's, and everyone agrees that it's been a wonderful day.

It really was a wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011 The End is Near??

We just moved to south Florida after spending five and a half years in North Carolina, also after spending a considerable amount of money (a) moving everything we owned in truck and trailer, (b) purchasing a house, and (c) setting up new accounts for everything under the sun. 

We might have saved a bundle if only we had realized that everything under the sun is about to be destroyed in a worldwide earthquake on May 21.

What? You didn't know that either?

Seriously, I just heard about this. A Facebook friend posted a news clip out of the Greensboro area about Family Radio's proclamation via billboard there to the effect that May 21, 2011, Judgement Day will arrive. Family Radio is led by 80-something Harold Camping, author in 1992 of the book 1994?  The book opined that 1994 would see Judgment Day, but when it didn't, he said his research "wasn't complete," thus the CYA addition of a question mark. NOW his research is complete. No question marks for this guy, no siree!

The so-called Christian group's proof comes from a half century of Camping's study of the Bible as well as the following signs:

  • the complete degradation of the Christian church
  • the devastating moral breakdown of society
  • the re-establishment of Israel in 1948
  • the emergence of the Gay Pride Movement
  • the complete disregard of the Bible in all of society today

Hmmm. I thought Jesus was going to present the Church, his Bride, to himself "in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]" (Ephesians 5:27 Amplified Bible).  Does Camping mean the supposed church? The so-called church, the name-only church? Does he mean in America, or worldwide? Cause the Church in other parts of the world reports incredible growth and revival, even modern-day miracles. That doesn't sound like "complete degradation" to me.

Nor do I see "devastating moral breakdown" across the board. Things are clearly not what they were in the United States of 1950, nor as they should be in a perfect world, but neither are they what occurred prior to the fall of Rome or during the Dark Ages. Standards are broken routinely, but there are standards in place to break, which means there is a fairly healthy societal appreciation of Right and Wrong.

And anyone who lives in, or has visited, the Bible Belt would call that item about the "complete disregard of the Bible" a bunch of hooey. People in those parts put scripture in their yards and on their cash registers. There is scripture everywhere you look. 

The emergence of the Gay Pride Movement is powerful enough to draw an earthquake of apocalyptic dimensions? Which one -- the one in 1871 Germany or the American movement in 1969? Camping seems to be a bit ethnocentric, making the events in his own country the center of the universe. I don't recall any mention of New York City or San Francisco in the Bible. Jerusalem is the apple of God's eye.

Speaking of which, one can't argue with the significance of the re-establishment of Israel -- that is a clear, undeniable fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. So okay, 1 out of 5 makes sense, not very good odds for quitting jobs and leaving wives (it's happened in Camping's camp).

Even more indicative of delusion is Camping's definitive year for Creation: 11,013 BC. I believe in a Creator and so, by definition, am a creationist, but I'm skeptical of anyone's ability to pinpoint a specific year. Seems a bit arrogant. I'd feel better if he added that old stand-by, the question mark. I suppose this would become problematic in print. 11,013 BC? Maybe so, maybe not. Best guess. As far as I can tell. A little wriggle room, Harold, please.

True believers, says Camping, are given "spiritual eyesight" so that they may know the day and the hour of Christ's return to earth, despite the fact that Jesus said he would return at an hour and moment "when you do not anticipate it" (Luke 12:40). Camping has reinvented scripture to mean that UNbelievers don't know when Jesus will return, but true believers (i.e. those who agree with him) will be given, have been given, a divine head's up.

Huh? Isn't this conveniently overlooking Matthew 24:36's reminder to stay ready and look for signs but "of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father"?

In reading various news reports of Impending Doom, I had to chuckle at one fellow. Kevin Brown of New Jersey is a follower of Camping, yet owns a nutrition and wellness business. My mother, a heart patient who follows a strict diet, has always maintained that if she knew she were about to die, she'd eat cheesecake and sausage biscuits (not together, mind you). If you really believe the world is about to end, why suffer through a diet of vitamin supplements and tofu? 

More honest (but sadder, really) is the couple in Orlando who is, this very minute, busy spending the last of their savings so that on May 21, "there will be no money left." Monday, May 23, those two queue up at Orange County Social Services.

Camping quotes the verse about the watchmen on the wall (e.g. his group, in context) blowing a trumpet to warn others (see Ezekiel 33, among other places), but there's no trumpet in his hand. Instead, he uses RV teams and billboards and the Internet to spread the word. He picks and chooses which King James Version words to use literally and which to change to suit him.

I get that. Totally. There are passages of the Bible I find particularly pesky, some I would much rather God hadn't included. But trumpets? What is cooler than that? Frankly, a good jazz accompaniment would go a long way toward improving public perception of Camping's movement.

And come May 22, when everyone and everything is still here...when churches all around the globe are filled with the praises of God's people...he could always start a band. He's already got RVs to haul equipment and a fan base.

Well...maybe not. I'm guessing Harold's gonna be wishing he'd used another question mark.


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