Boxing, Beer, and Sunday School in Women’s Bathrooms

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Overturned folding chairs
and littered plastic cups
that say Miller
on the side.
Smashed cigarette butts
and stale smelling air.

Blue boxing ring
in the center
of the room
covered in crusted blood.
Spit buckets in corners
sweat rags draped                                                                                                                                     from their sides.

The saints gather
into the holy place
to sing their worship songs.
Praying to the father
who art in heaven.
Want to come along?

Children scatter
to their Sunday rooms,
some
the women’s bathroom,
others,
to men’s locker rooms,
left damp and gray.

Angels dance
along the streets of gold
when a new soul
is won.

Service ends
and children scatter,
some to find out
what beer tastes like
and others to race
down echoing halls.

Saints and sinners coexist                                                                                                                             in buildings
on a Sunday morning
in May.

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Alone No More

I walk, walk, walk

across the fields

of sweet smelling grass.

Lifting my head

I feel the rays

of the sun

caress my face.

The wind’s song wraps me

in its embrace,

the trees

dance along

to its melody.

The light shimmers

its jewelistic dusting

off of all

that it touches.

Birds sing

of the past,

the present,

and where roads

might lead me.

Of peace,

of hopes,

of dreams.

I have felt

the weight

of aloneness

in life.

But then

are we ever

truly alone?

We have

the sun in the sky,

the wind in the trees,

and the birds sweet melody.

And today as I 

walk, walk, walk 

across the fields of

sweet smelling grass

I’m set free.

Alone no more.

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Caution! Beware Government Housing Grants

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              Beware! People need to be very cautious when considering accepting a government-housing grant. This is a program that the government offers low-income families. I have found that this is much of the time single parent families and the elderly, people who are normally powerless and cannot afford a lawyer. The idea of the grant seems great, on the surface. Money is given to upgrade homes to make the homes weather proof and updating items such as the electrical systems. In return, the homeowner is told that they will have to live in their home for 10 years and that 10% of the grant would be forgiven for each year that they lived in the home. The homeowner pays around $40 a month and at the end of the 10 years they would end up having paid around $4,000 for a $17,000 grant.

            What they don’t tell you is that they become the first lien holder on your home. They don’t tell you that if you move or rent out your home before the 10 years is up that you have to pay them back what has not been forgiven in full within 30 days. You are expected to pay them back before you even sell the house and they tack on around $5,000 in fees. If you call them and try to work out payments until the house is sold they will not work with you. They will tell you that you need to give them their money at the end of the 30 days or they will foreclose on the home and sell it to get their money back.

            When the mortgage company is contacted, they will not help you because if you have all of your house payments up-to-date and you are in good standing with them they will not help you. You will be told that if you are behind in your payments, however, that they can work with you. When a lawyer is contacted, the lawyer will tell you that your only course of action is bankruptcy. How do I know this? Because it happened to me!

            I was a single mother of three and purchased a home a year after beginning a teaching position in a small town in Nebraska. A year down the road, another single lady who was a neighbor of mine told me about the grant after receiving one herself. So, I applied for the grant and got it. Fast forward six years, I am remarried to the man of my dreams after having been a single mother for 12 years. The only problem was that he lived an hour away. After commuting back and forth for a year, I was able to get a job in the same town as my husband and we moved in together with our seven kids. Then the nightmare began. It is now over a year later and I am still dealing with the housing grant people and the mortgage company with no end in sight. The house never sold.

                                                                        ***

            Our aunt and uncle and several other people in a neighborhood in Missouri found themselves in a similar situation with the housing grants when their houses burned down due to faulty wiring caused by the electrician sent by the housing authority for the grant. Five houses burned down because the wiring was not grounded. Our aunt and uncle’s dog was killed and one other family lost their daughter in the fires. All the fires happened at different times. They were told that they couldn’t sell their land and that they had to live on that land until the 10 years were up. All I can say is be extremely cautious before accepting a government-housing grant. You could be the next victim!

Credit for Above Picture

The Power of Prayer

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Photo Acknowledgment 

At school, I was the kid you saw sitting by herself far away from the other kids. I would spend recess sitting by myself amongst the dandelions in the field furthest from the playground. If the other children came close, they would hurl insults or throw rocks at me.  As I said before, I wasn’t allowed the luxury of showing my true feelings and so I would just sit there and take it. Oh, I wanted to cry but it got to the point that I couldn’t cry even if I wanted to. Everything was bottled up so tightly within me. Even dealing with all that pain inside, God was teaching me about the power of prayer.

My family was very poor. I remember times that my folks did not have a dollar to their names or food (even crackers) to place in front of us at the kitchen table. Several times, we sat down to dinner with nothing but plates and silverware on the table and then prayed thanking God for the meal that he was going to provide for us. Before the prayer was even finished there would be a knock on the door. No one was ever there, but there were always bags of food sitting on our front steps. My parents and us kids would sing and dance and praise God for the miracle that had just occurred while we sorted out the food to place in the cabinets. Sometimes there would be special treats. Things that my parents could never have bought us on their own. Once the groceries were put away, my mother proceeded to fix us the meal that God provided for us through prayer.

Growing up, my parents didn’t want us to believe in Santa Claus. They thought that if we found out later on that they had lied to us about Santa, that they must also be lying to us about Jesus. So the first time that I saw Santa in a department store window, I said, “Look, Mom, there’s Noah!” Christmases have come and gone where we would not have had any gifts at all if it hadn’t been for God’s grace and the generosity of others. Fortunately, “Santa” always found ways of leaving us gifts on the front porch. One of my absolute favorite gifts was a pair of Cabbage Patch Kid roller skates. I had always wanted a pair of skates. I roller skated all over the kitchen that night.

One particularly poor Christmas, we wouldn’t have had either food or gifts and so we had gotten permission from a local supermarket to sell homemade pies in their entryway. That was a blessing and we had fun doing it too. When the evening was over. They gave my folks a fifty dollar gift certificate to buy food and they also gave them presents for us kids.

The question of paying a minister has much been debated. A minister, like a doctor, is on call 24/7. People need to make sure their minister can at least eat and put a roof over his families head. Because my father was in the ministry, now that he has reached retirement age, he cannot afford to retire even though he has worked tirelessly all these years serving other people. God still is providing and performing miracles for him and my mom. I hope and pray that God will somehow provide a retirement for them as well. I guess if my father had been paid and taken care of us kids wouldn’t have learned just how powerful prayer could be.

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Photograph Acknowledgment