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Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What's Buggin' Me About Church

I enjoy going to church.

Years ago, J started going to a church in Sanford, about 20 minutes or so from home. The youth group was hoppin' and I've always said that a church is only as strong as it's nursery (or youth department). I attended another church, one J had been baptized into, but slowly made my way to the church in Sanford where I found friendly, God-fearing, God-loving people.

Then the "J" story happened and, for nearly a year, I couldn't bring myself to go back. I felt like people were looking at me, judging me on the lies "J" had told and the sickness that had overcome us. Little by little, however, I eased back in and then, one day, the Women's Sunday School leader called me and asked me to join their class.

I consented, went back, and have enjoyed a fairly regular attendance since (when I'm not traveling).

So, yesterday I went to church. First to Sunday school, which I enjoyed as always. I love the ladies in the group and somebody (I don't know who) can make a really nice pot of coffee, of which I always have a cup. In this class, we sit around tables draped with pretty cloths. Candles flicker in their centers and, over on a table, a scented candle sends out a delightful, spicy scent. We learn about God, we talk about His awesomeness, and we pray.

When Sunday school was over, I gathered my Bible, my journal (for note-taking, as our pastor is a good teacher!), and my purse. A "hello" to this person, and a "Hi, how are you" to that person and I made my way into the sanctuary.

Our sanctuary serves both as a place for worship and a recreational room. In other words, you can look down at the floor and see the lines for a basketball court and up and see the hoops. It's in this room we offer "Upwards Basketball" as an outreach to the community. But on Sunday, we gather to worship, to pray, to learn.

When I was a little girl, I went to a formal church. On Saturday nights my hair was rolled into sponge curlers so I'd look "pretty"--as my mother put it--for Jesus. For a good part of my early years, I wore frilly underwear, dresses with petticoats, white frilly socks and black Mary Janes to church. As I got older, that changed, including the curlers in my hair on Saturdays, but one thing never changed. The respect I showed the room I entered. This was "God's house."

Over the years I have worshiped in school auditoriums, formal churches both large and small, a former roller skating rink, storefront churches, home churches, and cathedrals and synagogues. Never have I brought food and drink to any of those services.

Yesterday I found it a bit disconcerting that several people walked into the sanctuary/basketball gymnasium with bottles of water, cups of store-bought coffee, and car mugs filled with I don't know what. Yes, I know the weather had dipped down to the 60s and, for Florida, that practically calls for fires in the fireplaces, but seriously? Isn't it enough that we don't really "dress up" for God any more? Yes, I've been known to wear jeans--albeit dressy ones--but coffee??? Furthermore, if we're going to bring beverages into the sanctuary of God, shouldn't the liquid be made of grapes somehow? And shouldn't peta bread be served alongside said beverage?

Okay, so while I'm on a roll, here's the other thing that kinda bugged me. I'm not a great singer (believe me!) and I really only kinda whisper during praise and worship (so as not to bother the others who may be int he midst of worship), but I do like to listen to the voices of others, especially when they sing well. What I don't like to listen to is the chit-chatting of others while I'm trying to bask in the Spirit. Whisper-whisper-whisper. What in the world is so important that you cannot wait one short hour? What do you have to say to the person in front of you (and not a short conversation, mind you) and beside you that is more important than what the Spirit is trying to say to me?

Well now. I got that off my chest didn't I?

What are your thoughts? Noticed anything going on in your church buildings lately that make you go, "Hmmm?"

Friday, November 23, 2012

When Life Goes to the Dogs

My life has literally gone to the dogs.

According to a website I found, "gone to the dogs" dates back to the 1500s. When food was no longer consumable by humans, it was "thrown to the dogs."

That said, I know some dogs who may eat better than I do. Have you priced decent dog food lately? Not the filler kind. Not good enough for my dogs, you know. Which is the point of this post.

Angel 2003-2010
I have two dogs. Two years ago, I had three. Two were birth sisters: Hope and Angel. Their "grandmother" told us about them, that her daughter had both parents AND "the girls" as we called them. With one toddler, one baby on the way, and a husband working overtime, four beagles, even miniature ones, was about three too many. My husband and I (and especially "J") were ready for a new family pet. We'd lost Aimee, our dog of 16.5 years about 2 years earlier and felt it was time again.

So, we acquired Hope and Angel. Two of the funniest dogs I've ever known. Angel--the psycho dog. For no apparent reason, Angel would jump up, run around the house, and then return to Point A. Hope, on the other hand, has always had one thing on the brain: food.

What will I eat next?
Hope, looking for the next thing to eat
What did I eat last?
Is there anything in the yard I can eat?
What are my owners eating?
Is what they are eating good for me?
Does it matter?

Yep, that's Hope.

We lost Angel in 2010 to, what we believe, was heart failure. She became weak and simply died. I cried as if I'd lost my best friend. I loved that little doggie so much. Of course Hope became a different dog. Her constant companion of 7 years had left her. I believe she has substituted food for life with Angel.

Then, there's Poodar. Poodar, so named by "J."

I said to her, "Don't you want to come up with a different name?" But "J" insisted on "Poodar" and, I have to admit, it fits her. She responded to it so quickly I have to wonder if maybe "Poodar" wasn't her name before we found her.

We found her about 10:30 one evening. J and I had just returned from Georgia in July 2010. She and her "Dennis Daddy" were unloading the car while I put the things from the car in their rightful place inside. When they stopped bringing things in, I went outside to see what was going on. Sure enough, something had stopped the flow. And that something was a black miniature dachshund, who was starving, dehydrated, had bloody ears and a bloody tail. She was darting down the road, scared silly. I stooped down, extended my arms, and she ran right to me.

"J"with Poodar, Christmas 2010
"First thing we do," I said to "J," "is feed her. Then we bathe her." We did all that and, lo and behold, Poodar slept for a long, long time in "J's" arms. The dog was so dehydrated she didn't urinate for three days. I had called the vet, worried something was horribly wrong, when "J" happily announced that Poodar had finally "squatted."

Poodar was evermore "J's" dog, but after "J" left our home, she became my constant companion. She wouldn't even venture into "J's" room, she was so heartsick at the abandonment . This dog has serious issues, I'm telling you. If I take two steps forward, she does. Two back, she repeats the steps. When I go on business trips and return home, my husband says, "Mom is home!" as soon as he sees my car coming down the driveway. He tells me she jumps up and runs for the door, about as happy as a dog can be!

Every day Poodar sits behind me in my chair. Yes, that's right. While I am working away on the next best novel, or editing one, a little black fur ball is taking up the majority of my executive office chair. I've learned to work while balancing on a fraction of a chair's seat.

Hope, on the other hand, comes in periodically to either 1) tell me she's hungry, or 2) tell me she's hungry and she needs to go outside. Sometimes, she lays down on the floor, wanting to be near Poodar and me (or maybe just hopeful I'll have snacks in here). Which is what she is doing now. Poodar is behind me, covered in a warm blanket. Hope is beside me (not covered because her thick belly is warmth enough!). And both are snoring like dueling saws!

What I'm doing is this: wondering how much longer I have to wait before I can get up to get something to eat. I'm hungry. I have not had my breakfast and it's 10:22 a.m. But if I move, the dogs will want something. Not sure what, but something.

Which brings me back to my life having "gone to the dogs."

Such is life...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Faith to Face

A couple of weeks ago, the church I attend--Westview Baptist Church in Sanford, FL--hosted a visiting pastor. Our pastor was in Haiti, along with several others from the congregation--mostly youth--doing God's work.

Faith to Feet, I call it.

The visiting pastor's message was captivating.The man was completely at ease behind the podium. He spoke distinctly. Authoritatively. He simply knew his stuff.

I could tell this was not his first rodeo.

And then, a slip of the tongue.

I didn't blink much at it because, as a speaker, I've had enough slips of the tongue to last a lifetime. Most of them embarrassing. And, I've learned, that the best way to handle these moments is to just "go with it." Make a joke and move on.

This slip was not joke-worthy, however. This slip was ponderable. (Which is not a real word, but think about it, will you?)

The pastor meant to say "face-to-face," but what he said instead was, "faith-to-face."

As a speaker, I could tell he'd caught his own tongue-slip, but rather than correct himself, he simply went on. I, on the other hand, wrote the phrase down on the cover of my bulletin.


What does that mean, I asked myself. What does "faith-to-face" look like?

Then I realized that "faith-to-face" is seeing, face-to-face, faith in action. Which is what our young people, along with our pastor and a few select adults, were doing in Haiti. Faith-to-face is what we see every time we witness someone praying fervently. Believing. Though they do not yet hold the evidence of the belief.

Faith, as someone said to me recently, is believing that God still knows the recipe for manna.

What faith-to-face actions have you encountered? Perhaps just today? Or this week? Or this month?

Better yet, what faith-to-face moments have you been to others?

Think about that ...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Eva Marie

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our Story Continues: Why I won't shut up

I have not written much about "J" lately ... I've said what I've had to say, not to expose her, to hurt her, to cause her any grief should she actually read this blog. I write what I write because when you love someone, when you have given of yourself for nearly 12 years in a parental role, and then watch in horror as it all comes unglued, you find it difficult to just "let go." When you are the one who was always there and when you know the truth about the way someone really felt about you--and that certain someone can't seem to remember it, or their mind has been so twisted by others who never really knew, who only wanted to destroy because it's the only way they can satisfactorily lose--you just cannot shut up.

I watched a movie recently in which children gave a school performance to proud parents and grandparents within the audience. I had a memory then ... one in which "J's" school was doing such as that. Her mother's job did not allow her to "take off" in the middle of the day (which was when the program was given), and it was the best job she'd had in some time, making more money than she'd made for a while. J's father was incarcerated. Everyone in the family--aunts, uncles, grandparents-- had jobs they just could not break away from.

I was fairly snowed under myself, but my job working from home allowed me to walk away for a while. Doing so meant putting in longer hours later on, but J was worth it. So I went.

I'll never forget the anxious look on her face as she scanned the audience looking for a familiar face. At first she seemed to panic, then she appeared so sad. No one had come, she thought. She was alone. But then as her eyes came near to mine, I waved and she brightened. Someone had come. Her MrsEya.

When the performance was done, I presented her with flowers. I'd brought cupcakes for the "after show party" and, together, we sat at a table and ate. Just as we did the many times I went to her school over the years to have lunch with her. My husband and I were the only ones who ever did.

But she has forgotten that and all those other wonderful memories, like the Tuesdays I read to her second grade class from Mrs. Pigglewiggle. Whether by illness or by coercion or by choice, I don't know. I only know what truth remains and that truth is how much she is loved and always will be.

But there's another truth as well. One you need to know. And if you don't know, you must educate yourself. "J" is now a part of a system that cannot adequately serve her. One she keeps running away from, landing on the streets. Each time she does, I push heaven and earth to find her, even if it means she "hates you for it" or others think I'm interfering where I don't belong. (Of course, those same people and that same system loved me when we financially supported her before child support was ordered, years of asking for nothing.)

I do not and will not sit on my can or act out some "pretense" of searching. And this is why: human trafficking is real and it's right here in Florida. Worse for those who are bipolar or borderline or who suffer from any number of mental health illnesses. The idea of J crying, of her being enslaved because of another's greed and a system's stupidity, of her being used like a sex toy or a punching bag or a personal slave, is more than I can bear.

I beg you to read this article by my friend Dan Beckmann. And then you tell me if you would just sit back and do nothing.

The Article.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for passing this on.

Eva Marie Everson

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Poem to My New Grandson

Welcome to the World, Baby Boy!

Your mother is so brave
and now a part
of the sisterhood 
of women.

Women who bear much pain
who exhale much energy
who hold hands with 
one another
in the rhythm 
and the dance
and the 
of the ancients.

I heard their cries echoing 
in hers.
I heard their joy in her laughter.
And I felt the dearest 
presence of those
who have
felt the rhythm
and danced the dance
before her.

There they were--
holding their breaths
bearing down through
the pain.
Cheering her onward.
Cheering you, too.

Into this world, Baby Boy!

Feel the breath 
of God
in your nostrils
listen to the voices of
your grandmother
and her mother
and hers
and hers.

Hear the choir sing
their heavenly song,
"Welcome to the world,Baby Boy!
You who have much to do.
Many lives to change.
So much 

With one final push
Two arms reaching out
Two hearts
one on top of
the other ...
... life begins anew.
It begins again.

Your mommy is so brave
and you are so

Welcome to the world,Baby Boy!
copyright: Eva Marie Everson, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Welcome to the World, Baby Boy!

On November 9, 2012, on the date of his "suggested arrival," my grandson decided it really was time.

The call came in at 2:19 a.m. As soon as I saw the caller ID, I knew that, not five miles from my house, my daughter was beginning labor and delivery.

A home delivery had been planned. For months we'd visited Kelli Johnson of A Mother's Nature Midwifery. After the last "office" visit I'd gone to with my daughter, Jessica and I decided Jess would call me as soon as she knew she was in labor. I'd get the house in order--if anything needed to be done--run to the grocery store for healthy snacks, etc. while Jessica napped, preserving her energy.

So, when I stared at the caller ID, and I couldn't figure out how to answer my own phone, I should have known this delivery, like all deliveries, would be different. Somehow. Sure enough, Tony stuttered, "Mom. You gotta come. She's in a lot of pain. A lot of pain."

"Have you called Kelli?" I asked.


"Call Kelli."

Something was wrong. If Jessica were in the beginning stages of labor, why was she in so much pain already? I sprang into action, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, slipping into something warm but comfy. I told Jessica's father what was happening. He groggily said, "Okay. Call me."


I ran out the door. Darted back in to grab the camera. Back out. All the way to Jessica's, I prayed. "Lord, if you don't want this baby born at home ... if there is something wrong ... you tell us and we'll listen."

When I got to Jessica and Tony's, it was to discover that Jessica was way beyond the first stages of labor. Kelli arrived shortly after me, checked the little mother-to-be, and said, "Girl! You're nearly 7 cms! I need to call my team!"

The team arrived. I called my husband and told him to "come on." The time: 3:27. A birthing pool was filled with water from the bathroom sink and hot water I had boiled on the stove. I heard one of the doulas (birthing assistants) say, "She says she feels the urge to push."

You have got to be kidding me. I went into the bedroom to find my daughter in the birthing pool, draped over one end, clearly wiped out already. But, with each contraction, she rose, she breathed through it. She became stronger. Kelli and the doulas praised her, all the while recording notes in my daughter's "chart" and talking in labor and delivery "code."

I called my husband again. 4:17 a.m. Nearly two hours had passed since I'd received the initial call. "Are you coming?" I asked.

"Well, I guess, but I'm still in the bed," he answered.


"Well, if you want to see your grandson born, you'd better come on. She's already in the birthing pool. This is going fast."

Believe it not, I had to call him again at 5:41. Sure, he had been through this three times before, but he didn't know the strength yet of our daughter. "Are you coming???" I asked.

He said he was on his way. I'm still not sure about that.

The night waxed on. Our daughter persevered through the pain every biological mother since Eve has felt. She rarely cried out. She hardly moaned. She just did it. Tony and I changed places holding her hand periodically, while one of the doulas took the other hand. With each contraction Jessica pulled us toward her, with such amazing strength, I thought I might end up in the water myself.

And then it happened. The "crowning" moment. Kelli had finished making the skull cap she crochets for every newborn she brings into the world. She stood at one end of the birthing pool with the two doulas. Tony sat behind Jessica's head, encouraging her, praising her, telling her how wonderful she was doing. I stood beside her, video camera rolling (I don't know how I managed that), and her father stood in the doorway. Close enough to witness, but not so close as to "see."

At 7:50 a.m., my grandson left the warmth of his mother's womb for a brief swim in warm water (like one second). The doula pulled him up and over to his mother's outstretched arms. As heart laid upon heart, she cried, "We did it, baby. We did it."

My husband and I wrapped our arms around each other and cried. After two years of painful emotions, losing our beloved "J" to a system gone amuck with power, God smiled on us with this perfect life. All 8 pounds, 20 inches of him. Part of the pain went away. Not all of it, but enough to relieve this tattered heart.

Welcome to the world, Baby Boy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Time Whispers

I found a business card on my dresser the other day. Someone had given it to me, apparently the person to whom it belonged. According to the car, he is the president/CEO of a bank in a town north of where I live. I flipped the card over to see if I'd written anything on the back. I hadn't. I took it to my desk, typed the name into my browser, clicked "images" and voila! Photo.

I remembered the man. I'd sat next to him on a flight from Orlando to ... somewhere. Not the most recent round of flights I took. Another one. The one before this most recent? I think so. Where had I gone? Grand Rapids, I think. By way of ... somewhere.

Mystery solved. I picked up the card to put it in the box where I keep such things, but found myself pulling it out again, studying it. Odd. I hadn't remembered getting the card until I investigated a little. How many other cards have I received in the course of my career--my life even--that I cannot connect to a person? A conversation? A moment in time?

This doesn't apply to just me. Or someone like me. Someone who flies a lot. Meets a lot of folks. This can happen to anyone.

Today I mopped my kitchen floor. I like using Pine Sol and hot water and so I did. The scent of pine took me back, as it has every single time I've used it over the past 36 years. Back to a large one bedroom apartment with narrow oak floors. Directly across the hall from my front door (marked "B"), stood another front door (marked "A"). Beyond that door lived a young woman named Anita, her husband Philip, and their daughter whose name, naturally, escapes me.

Anita's job kept her working from Tuesday through Saturday. On Sunday the family went to church and spent time together. On Monday, after Philip went to work and the unnamed child went to school, Anita cleaned. Top to bottom, that apartment sparkled.

She used Pine Sol. Though I haven't seen Anita in probably 30 years, Pine Sol reminds me of her.

Sometimes time whispers to us, using business cards or scents. Music. The rustle of leaves or the way they crunch under your feet in the autumn of the year ...

Time whispers. But, I think, we are often so busy ... we miss the brushing against our ear.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Month, New Life

The month has finally arrived. November.

Last year, I felt it's bitter sting. The month of my mother's birth would not be celebrated with her here, on earth. No special celebration in heaven, I know, because every day in heaven is a reason to celebrate.

As my heart felt it could take no more pain--the loss of Daddy, the loss of Mother, the loss of J--God held a secret. A special surprise He would not share until the day we celebrate the resurrection of His Son.

On that day, my daughter shared with me the secret she and God now knew. Life had formed inside her. Miracle of miracles, because it was not supposed to happen. A true opening of the barren womb.

The baby was due, she estimated, in November.

This morning dawned and with it the realization that the month had arrived. For the life of me, even as I anticipate my "little man's" arrival, I cannot help but mourn those who will not or cannot be a part of it. I know some will say, "Oh, they'll be there ..." and in our hearts, I know that's true. But I grieve, still, that I will not, on this earth and in this time, see my parents hold their grandson. I think I fully understand now how my mother felt, knowing she would never see her mother hold my brother or me.

Such loss in this life. Such gain. No matter the tragedies that befall us, life really does go on.

Being of Gaelic descent, I find myself drawn to the music. I tuned Pandora Radio to my preset station of Capercaillie and, a few songs in, heard one of my favorite tunes. I am always reminded of "J" when it plays. I share it with you now and, soon--very soon--I will share photos of "my Isaac," who I have so named (even though his parents have already named him by another name) because he is God's gift to me, and he will restore my laughter.