Wednesday, August 20, 2014


My greatest moments of freedom came as a child on a warm summer night playing with my brother and sister, Two Eyes! Two Eyes! We invented the game with such fluid rules, I still can’t remember them. It was total abandon, our freedom, until our mother called us into the house for our baths. Then our freedom ended.

I was free as a teenager riding up and down Fourth Street with my friends, radio blasting and lobbying cat calls to the guys in the cars next to us. That abandon ended at midnight, sharp, or my father would ground me for a week. Freedom ended.

Though I had freedom during these times, I had no independence.  As a child I couldn’t go to the store on my own.  I couldn’t purchase anything, and I couldn’t drive to my grandmother’s house for a visit.

As a teen my independence grew.  I had a part-time job at Kroger’s which allowed purchasing power, but my father refused my learner’s permit. I couldn’t drive to my job, and permission was still required to go out with my friends.

But nothing illustrated the difference between freedom and independence until many years later. A single mother, I lived in a low-rent apartment complex with my infant son. When we first moved there most of the occupants were young families with their first child, but the landlord began accepting Section 8 applicants and things began to change.  I would come home from work with a brief case over one shoulder, a diaper bag over the other and my son on my hip.  I realized all thirty-two apartments were now occupied by single mothers. Yet, I was different; I worked for my living.

I was friendly with the other mothers, but I envied their freedom. When I came home their children were splashing in kiddy pools. The mothers sat on lawn chairs kibitzing while their dinner smoked on hibachis. Night after night, I watched their freedom from my second floor window while cooking dinner, washing dishes, bathing my son and getting ready for the next day of work and day care. I began to think that I was the fool.  I could quit work and be a stay at home mom. I could be free, but I soon realized – I would not be independent.  To accept their lifestyle, I would need to give up my car, my retirement account, my benefits package and my choices on where I live.  I choose independence and vowed that I would get out of that apartment complex some day.  I planned how to get out, and I did.

Our founding fathers did not send a Declaration of Freedom to King George. They weren’t asking George for a gift of freedom that may one day be taken away. They wanted Independence.  They desired the independence to stand or fall, succeed or fail, to make their own decisions, to make their own way. They knew what we forgot. Freedom can be given to you, but the payment for that gift may be a slice of your independence. Independence must be earned, step by step. If you want independence stand up; earn it!

Friday, August 08, 2014


The crowds had already assembled behind the barricades, and though I couldn’t hear their shouting, I saw their signs moving up and down, up and down like target ducks in a shooting arcade.  The flashing red and blue lights of the police cars added to the carnival atmosphere. Breathe, just breathe – it’ll be OK.

I turned with a reassuring smile to my guest speakers sitting on the stage behind me.  They looked worried; with reason.  The permit office had warned us – “If there’s any trouble your event will be dispersed by the police.”  My mouth was dry.  As I gulped water from a bottle, I could see the unrest moving over the barricades into my audience.  I decided to begin.

I began with my welcoming remarks, and the chanting behind the barricades became louder. Police exited their cars standing ready for trouble.  Something small was lobbied over the barricades.  I waited, but no reaction so I continued.  I introduced my first guest, and the angry bursts increased at the boundary.  It spread forward evidenced by the back of heads instead of faces.  No! My people are engaging the protesters. “People, people!” my words just became part of the cacophony.  Turbulence increased from the fence moving into the audience as a wave coming onto shore. I’ve lost control – it looks like Dante’s inferno – confusion, confusion.

Except, one pair of eyes were still focused on me. She stood there, an island of balm in a sea of contortion, watching me. I shrugged my shoulders in defeat.  She shook her head as a mother disappointed with an unruly child.  Then, she smiled. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her though the disturbance continued to swirl around her.  She lifted her arms, brought her palms together, and I understood her meaning. Pray!  As I turned to my guests to encourage their prayers, I heard a vibrant melody lift from the din behind me, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart.” Before I could turn back another voice joined the song, “I want to see you, I want to see you.” 

Leading my guest speakers in earnest prayer for a peaceful gathering, I watched as she continued through the crowd enjoining others, “To see you high and lifted up, shining in the light of your glory.” People began clapping the cadence and as the song spread smiles replaced grimaces and the angry banter decreased.

I watched as the crowd engulfed her, yet her wake was evidenced by the calm she left behind.  My audience continued, “Hold out your power and love as we sing Holy, Holy, Holy.” Then, the refrain “Holy, Holy, Holy”, over and over as the crowd swayed from side to side like lapping water on the hull of a boat.  The discourse at the barricade stopped, and people at the boundary left dragging their signs behind them. The police retired to their cars.

“Jason, go find that woman and ask her to join us up here.”  Minutes later, Jason returned with a handwritten note. “Spiritual Warfare - God doesn’t need us to praise him.  He already knows who he is.  We need to praise Him so we know who we are – Deborah.”