Years ago, I had a very dear friend. We went to the same high school, Walter E. Stebbins in Dayton, Ohio. He was in marching bank and I was on a marching/ dancing drill team. I can’t even remember where we met or how we developed our relationship to be so close, but it was special. When I think back to that time in my life, those teenage days, the ‘challenging years’, never do I reflect on them and not think of him, my dear friend James. I think we found in each other soul mates.
James was a Christian, and proud of it. He was different in so many ways than other young men his age. He had principles and integrity, even at that tender age. I knew he was destined to be something bigger and better than many of the other boys I knew from school. He was honest, compassionate and a great listener. I can’t even guess how many times we spent outside the driveway of his house, just a stone’s throw away from Spinning Road, or outside my house chatting…about life, about religion, about hypocrisy and yep, even about love interests we each had. Those love interests were never for each other, mind you, that never entered the picture as the friendship was too precious to us to ever want to risk ruining it. Once we crossed that bridge, there would have been no turning back. Some friends are just too priceless to risk losing.
I lived in what was referred to the rich kids’ neighborhood at the time, Saville Estates. James grew up in the meager neighborhood with a small house with lots of siblings to feed. He held a job, in addition to his school activities. Most of us that did school functions did not work but he did and never once complained about it. I remember seeing him at Krogers any day school was not in session and there was nothing going on with school functions, there he was, working. He even seemed to enjoy it!
When I moved away, my senior year, we lost touch. I thought about him often, wondering what bridges he was building in the world and what ones needed tore down he was trying to destroy. He was a man who cared too much about his fellow men to sit idly by and not be a vocal piece for change and provide the leg work, if needed.
I got connected to facebook and through a high school friend, found out where James lived and worked. We began to recently communicate again. It truly was no surprise to me to learn he was an attorney in Dayton, Ohio and made a career out of injustices.
James always did represent the hard working man, the man that went to church on Sunday and provided for his wife and kids Monday through Friday (Saturdays if needed). He went on to law school and eventually made a career out of representing the ‘everybodys’ in our towns that nobody wanted or cared about, regular people that need to work. Some of his clients are the ones that companies foolishly throw by the wayside, without a second thought, not honoring their rights as an employee when they either dismiss them or discriminate against them. He is concerned with the law and with everyone’s entitled legal rights.
In years gone by, James was behind a new law in Ohio that had to do with cracking down on ‘crack houses’ as he wanted the community to be a better place for our young people to live. James eventually opened his own legal practice, all the while, supporting a family and dealing with health issues of his own. It did not matter what James was faced with, be it the death of his beloved mother, the cut backs of a company forcing him to lose his job, being flat on his back with health matters, he remained true to the young man I remember, a man with a fierce spirit and a strong powerful faith in God.
My parents still live in the town where James lives, to this day, and I grew up in, Dayton, Ohio. This town has been affected, as every town in the US has, by a downward economy. Without the multitude of choices a big city offers, Dayton relies even more heavily on the success of its business partners. They too are being affected by the economy. It is discerning that there is a pervasive feeling in this city by many ordinary folks that the city truly does need a change. Much as Washington DC needed one and it passed like wild flower through our country, this same ‘fever’ and need for change is felt in Dayton, Ohio.
It was with happiness, but not great surprise that I recently learned my dear friend has chosen to run for Mayor of Dayton. He has many folks that know him and can vouch for his sincerity and his record towards improvement and instituting changes. James represents a working man’s son, the eldest of many siblings that grew up poor in bank funds and rich in love and spirit. He grew up and stay inspired towards common good for mankind. I feel the city is blessed to have an opportunity to put him on the ballot, that James R. Greene III. (Click on title to link to his blog page)
James represents the American Dream, reaching down deep, having a hard work ethic and pushing to be all that you can be. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth and asked for no hand outs. James did not ask for sympathy for any set back that has befallen him in life, he just met them each, one at a time, head on. He is that rare breed that we do not have the opportunity to vote for often in political elections, a genuine man with integrity. I pray he makes it in to office as, not only will this do great things for my home town of Dayton, but once the word gets out, it may help pave the way for a new breed of politicians. Is this not long overdue? He is one of us, as he would say. But I personally feel he is more than most!
I am so inspired to learn of his political aspirations. I ask all of you that read this, please offer him your praise and prayer. He can do so much good for the city, if given the chance. Dayton needs a change; we all do in our cities. What he is trying to do in his town is something we all hunger for. Ordinary people can rise above and impact policy! If a man like James can make it into office, there is hope alive and well in the world; God surely must be smiling!
Dear everlasting friend
A friend suggested to me months ago I begin keeping a journal. It took me all this time to quit coming up with excuses and just do it. She told me to make it as routine as brushing my teeth. “Come up with a time of day to do it and stick with it” she said. I am doing it, now for several weeks. It is the last thing I do before I go to sleep. If you have never given it a shot, I think you should try it too! Become your own Dear Abby, advisor, spiritual counselor..
Funny how when you start off journaling, it begins with just a few mundane entries much like “Today was just like any other day, and thank God I was in it.” Okay, maybe most people don’t put that last part in but those that are cancer survivors trust me, they do! After a few days of recording boring meaningless items, I quickly found myself yawning at my own writings. I begun to think deeper as I wrote, doing more than just recording events but thinking about the feelings and emotions I felt during the day. I reflected on what felt good, what hurt, what made me angry, what, if nothing else, stood out each day… Oh, then I turned the curve and my journal came to life. I have not looked back since.
Taking the time to record your perceptions of your life becomes an adventure into the inner depths of your mind and soul. Your journal entries become a safe haven to let your uncensored thoughts and feelings free flow. It fosters that child in each of us to rise to the surface and be allowed once again, like in days gone by, to speak with a freedom that society does not allow for.
Political adversaries can’t say such things in public like “Praise God for whom all blessings flow.” Society doesn’t allow for us anymore to comment on our differences because there is such a fear of offending someone. God made us unique but society does not want us to point that out. Diversity is acceptance of that which is different, ignorance is not being perceptive to even noticing it. Acceptance is noticing diversity and embracing it. A journal will allow you to do that. It provides an opportunity comment on what is different and unique not only with you but with others and celebrate those differences.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I think pictures do have value but honestly, I have never had one picture taken of myself where I felt anyone looking at it could come up with a 1,000 words to either describe me or imagine what I was thinking! Hence, the written word is priceless. If it were not so, would Christians everywhere hold the Bible in such high regard? We all need a record of history documented. Create the documentation of your history, write it down!
I promise you, if you entertain the child in yourself, you will find that you still have that wide eyed child that looks at Christmas lights for the first time with awe. You will also find areas in your life where you have possibly been avoiding confrontation and by seeing it, in writing it down routinely, you can create the inner strength to resolve it. Many issues can be solved in taking the time to think things through. This daily exercise of your mind will tap into reservoirs of insightfulness you have buried.
A daily entry will question your faith and understanding of God’s presence in your life. It increases awareness. Much like a blog, when something noteworthy happens in your life, you can discuss it with yourself in a journal. No one but you will be reading it so you are free to express yourself any way you like. Take note of the miracles that happen every day, record them. When you do, you will find a litany of proof of the Lord’s very existence.
Most importantly of all, having a journal leaves something priceless behind to those that care about you long after you are gone. Not only will you come to know yourself better but your history will not go untold! For aren’t we all a story?
We were greeted by a vase that simply held a few exquisite yellow roses. They were lying on a table as you entered the church, no fan fare, no collection of flower arrangements for everyone to stand around gazing at and critiquing. There was a cross about the size of an 8 x 10 picture frame, laying flat down on the table. Someone had made it from hand, with tons of colorful earrings, each one having different colored rocks and they were somehow strung together with a beautiful silver filigree broach in the center - where Jesus would have laid. Thus began the memorial for Linda Shultz, a woman that died a few short days ago of cancer.
One by one, a diverse group of folks walked up to the mike to talk about a woman that had touched their lives. Each one's testimonial tribute was more beautifully worded and heartfelt than the last!Linda had breathed life into their souls in a way that made them know, from their very core, she was sent from God and was destined to teach us all what it means to live in the likeness of our Savior. She gave, she laughed, she cared and she prayed…oh, how she prayed. She put herself in the hands of doctors who knew not what they could do to keep her cancer growth at bay. Linda did it anyways to help others that might follow her footsteps, so that they might be able to live one day longer than she was able. That is what a true disciple of Christ does, gives to others with very little forethought to themselves.
The music began to play, at one point, and it was as if the angels in heaven were singing in chorus too. Out rang words of streets bathed in gold in heaven and feet barely touching the ground, dancing as they realized they were close to meeting the Almighty Father and having life everlasting. What a perfect song choice for a woman who loved dance, was full of motion and loved to smile. The song made the entire crowd smile with joy…..
As speaker after speaker got up this morning, in the front of a Baptist Chuch in Middle Tennessee, I tried hard to soak up all of the stories I was hearing. I listened and cried as I heard voices choking back sobs, saw tissues being passed down rows, total strangers embracing each other in mutual respect and love for this life. I watched in wonder, knowing full well that God was rejoicing everyone there really understood Linda’s wish, we knew Jesus was our savior and that He died for a reason. Where He went after he died on that cross was where our dear friend Linda was hanging out now. She had done all that was asked of her and more and there was not much more to say.
Close to the end of the memorial service a video screen came down. Music floated through the air as images of Linda flashed before our eyes. Black and white portraits of her as a child, her growing up, her doing somersaults, the blushing bride, the gushing mother holding her baby, and all the wonderful moments captured on film in her later days…..as the music lifted our souls the pictures captured hers.
Yes, it was a touching memorial, one that was filled with scripture, as Linda would have wished. Mrs. Shultz was a true testimony of what God meant when He called us to love one another. At this event, Linda indeed had the best seat in the house. While we walked out the doors of that church at noon, with the sun glaring in our eyes, it was as if God was rejoicing in His beloved daughter being brought home. We all knew, as we left, we would never forget this day, nor this life, Linda will stay alive in us all.