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Voice of Reason

Eric is my reason and I am using my voice to stop the violence!

My Perspective

My Perspective

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The Christmas Shoes

Posted on December 24, 2011 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The Christmas Shoes lyrics

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line

Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood

Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously

Pacing 'round like little boys do

And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe

And when it came his time to pay

I couldn't believe what I heard him say

Chorus:

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please

It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size

Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time

You see she's been sick for quite a while

And I know these shoes would make her smile

And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

He counted pennies for what seemed like years

Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"

He searched his pockets frantically

Then he turned and he looked at me

He said Mama made Christmas good at our house

Though most years she just did without

Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,

Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out

I'll never forget the look on his face when he said

Mama's gonna look so great

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please

It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size

Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time

You see she's been sick for quite a while

And I know these shoes would make her smile

And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

Bridge:

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love

As he thanked me and ran out

I knew that God had sent that little boy

To remind me just what Christmas is all about

This is possibly one of the most touching songs I have ever heard at Christmas. The lyrics humble us to what life is really about. It is a child's simple wish to give his mommy something that she so greatly deserves. It made me stop in my tracks and think about what I should so humbly ask for.

This is my Christmas wish:

1. For those that live in a world of fear that their mind has created I wish for clarity.

2. For those that must face Christmas without their loved one I wish peace.

3. For those that are facing sickness I wish hope and healing.

4. For those that are facing financial disaster I wish relief.

5. For those facing addictions I wish intervention.

6. For those facing loneliness I wish companionship.

7. For those faced with the task of leadership I wish guidance.

8. For those that are exhausted from stress I wish rest.

9. For those that are faced with relationship issues I wish comraderie.

10. For those ladden with anger I wish forgiveness.

11. For those that have not accepted the Lord, Jesus Christ, I wish spiritual blessings and that the Holy Spirit may fill your heart and you shall live in His never ending Love. For this is the gift of Christmas.

Merry Christmas Everyone! God Bless!

Anita

The Lost One

Posted on October 6, 2011 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I received a call from a friend today. She has lost her nephew in possibly one of the most tragic ways - SUICIDE. How many of our young people are fighting for their lives and we just don't see it. Or are we really not looking? Do we just pass them by and not get involved? Are we contributing to it?

We see the "well adjusted" young man. He has it all - sports, looks, marks, money, and family. Then there is that beauty queen that seems to live the charmed life. There is nothing wrong with her - right? I mean they're not like one of those useless punk kids at the skateboard park smoking dope because they have nothing better to do, or like that girl that happens to make it around the town. None of these kids could be suicidal.

Guess what? Anyone of the above young people could be suicidal. It is easy to see the kid's that "act out" have their problems but the"normal" ones are harder to determine. No matter how perfect things may look on the outside it may not be the same picture of happiness on the inside.

Desperation hits in so many different ways and is caused by some many different things. What we may see as nothing can be a turning point of desperation for someone else. Teens are especially vulnerable to all different types of pressures. They have the "good old hormone problem", then there is the "finding themselves problem", and then there is the "well they're teenagers already problem". I mean really they are that group of people that we as the almighty adults sneerfully call - TEENAGERS!

 

How many times have you heard, "Well that's a typical teenager for you." or," Teenagers nowadays just don't know how to behave." ? I am sure you have heard it numerous times just this week. We as a society are selling out our teenagers. They are the condemned group of people. We are leading to the lack of self confidence they feel.

If teens are not taught at an early age social graces how are they suppose to demonstrate them later on. You can quote me on this - People can not learn manners and social protocol through osmosis. It just doesn't work that way. Nor do all people learn how to deal with feelings of disappointment, anxiety, fear, and anger in healthy ways. And, to add insult to injury every person has a different chemical makeup and this can drastically change how one deals with life's curve balls. Now add insulting adult behavior on top of all this and you have a time bomb ready to explode.

 

How many times have you walked by that hooded dirty teen smoking and cast your eyes the other way, instead of smiling and making eye contact? They are human too. Or how about that skanky looking young girl that you raise your eyebrows at, do you think she can't see disapproval all over your face? I know you have done it, so have I. We are all guilty of judging by looks alone, it is human nature. These young people can really visualize the scorn we have for them. They see it written on our face and demonstrated in our actions.

 

But, what about Mr.Sunshine? You know the one we were talking about that the sun shines down on him. He has nothing to feel desperate about does he? He has it all, everything he has ever wanted and more. There is no desperation lurking in the corners of his soul. He is just like the princess we discussed,the beautifully gracious, intelligent, well mannered, well dressed, and loved young lady. She has no cause for self desperation. We greet them with smiles and hollow hellos.  I really mean hollow. Do we ask them how they are -how they "really" are? No, we just assume all is well in their little cookie cutter world because look at how much they have going for them.

Sadness, hurts, and desperation are not always worn on someone's shirt sleeve. Sometimes it is hidden underneath layers of smiles, laugh, anger, or  bad behavior. It is a stain that no one has noticed yet.

 

When we take time to smile, engage conversation, or make healthy physical contact with a youth we reaffirm to them their worth. They are not alone and they do not have to feel alone. We are NOT suicide counselors but we are charged to be caregivers. Caregivers can learn to recognize certain habits and motions that can be a signal that something is not working well for a teen. It can be as subtle as a teen closing off conversation when a report card is brought up. Some teens can not wrap their heads around being less than outstanding at school and loath themselves when they don't measure up to their own or someone else's standard. Or it can be as visible as the girl that sells herself short with boys because she is craving male love and is going about it the wrong way. It can be seen in the extreme eating and exercise regime that a teen follows to keep that "perfect" look which is really a coverup for low self esteem. Or it can hits us straight in the face with a teen that has anger issues and substance abuse problems because it is easier to mask the hurts and desperation then face them. If you come in to contact with teens that face issues like these it is your responsibility to do something. WHAT? You are not a counselor or social worker but you are a youth advocate. If you see signs of destructive behavior give a teen a hug, talk to their counselor (with or without them knowing) or their parents or make a gesture of goodwill - do something!  If it is an extreme case and you know they are going to hurt themselves phone the police. Do not have guilty regrets.

 

 

You may not even know that a teen is  feeling blue or downtrodden. Simply greeting a teen with a smile can be enough of a positive in their lives to work into their darkest corners and keep the monster of desperation at bay. You do not have xray vision but you have can have caring eyes. Take time to look at that youth cussing as he flies past you on his skateboard and smile. When that young girl tries to avert her gaze from you hold steady in yours and smile. If that youth that has it all is milling around give him or her a hug or smile and tell them how happy you are to see them. Not how happy you are on how they look, act, or are performing - just how happy you are to see THEM.

 

 

This crisis of suicide needs to be taken seriously by all of us in society. Do your part by simply being kind to a teenager. Instead of labeling them negatively, smile at them positively. We as a community all play a part in the wellness of our youth. Make your part worthwhile and positive not degrading and destructive.

 

 

 

 

May 26, 2011

Posted on May 26, 2011 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (3)

Eric

The time has finally come when we, Eric's family, can finally stop reliving his death in the courtroom. It will be four years since the fateful day he died on May 31st. Four years of depression, obsession, and strife. Has anything really been solved?

The last of the courtroom appearances ended April 28, 2011. The longest sentence that was given out in the death of Eric was five years. The shortest sentence was one year conditional sentencing. Is any of it enough? You know what? It just doesn't matter anymore. It is done and it is time to put it to rest. The defendants will do their time. It is my greatest hope that when they have served their time they will live their lives in a positive manner. It is my hope but not my obsession anymore.

I have come to the conclusion - the only person I can control is myself. I can not control the judges by my victim impact statements. I can only offer them my unique perspective of what this crime has done to me. I can not control how the offenders live their lives. But, I can pray for them that they live in accordance to a positive influence. I can not control the fact that some of my family revisits their hurts continually. I can pray that they finally find peace and solitude. I can not control what others say of Eric. I can just use my voice to tell his story. And, in telling his story I hope that I can help influence a youth's outlook and behavior.

It is time for me to take control of new avenues in my life. I no longer have to fit court sessions into my already exploding schedule. I can use my time for personal growth, community growth, and youth awareness. This is what I am meant to do.

Dear Eric:

It is a rainy, windy, and cold day. It is like a parallel of my heart when you died. I look outside and it draws a picture of what my heart felt like when I walked away from you on that fateful night you left us - bleak and empty.

I wonder what would have become of you. Would you have been married by now, or travelled, or perhaps been a daddy? I will never know what could have been.

You are an inspiration to me. You have given me the tools to go out and make a difference and serve my human community. Without the tragedy of your death I would never have been equipped to serve in the capacity that I am. For this I can be thankful. I wish I never gained this experience but I must share it now that I have.

I remember what a little rascal you were. You were definitely a Neenee's boy. You would follow me around, sleep with me, tease me, and when you got older I think you attributed to my gray hair :) I love my memories of you and I will always hold them close to my heart. You were nothing if not UNIQUE!

Good Bye Eric! It is time for you to rest in Peace.

Love - Neenee

In Honor of Eric Written by Neenee as his Eulogy

Crash, bam, boom, blast racing down the garden path. Scraped knees, upside down in trees, energy abound, with feet hardly touching the ground. Blond hair, cheeky grin, twinkling eyes, and a body that has always been oversize. I am sure all of you now have a visual of Eric in your head.

Eric Mitchell Olsen put the world into orbit on April 30, 1987. He was born a go-getter. Heaven forbid his sister made it out first. Because of timing and shear determination he would be the older brother.

From day one Eric was a bundle of energy. Which might be noted -left those around him with lack of it, for always chasing after him. He loved to be outdoors – biking, fishing, swimming, boating, skiing and camping. Taking Eric to a pool or the lake was always interesting. The fish could take a few lessons from him. If ever you could soup up a tricycle I am sure Eric could find a way. He had a mean arm in baseball and loved to race up and down the soccer field. Eric was very loyal. As young children do they fight with their siblings once and awhile, well Eric and Kristen were no exception. Later on when Stevie got old enough to be annoying he and Eric fought too. BUT, God help anyone who thought they might give Eric’s sister and brother a hard time. They had to come through him first.

As a small child Eric always had a twinkle in his eye and a hug ready for you. This never changed as a grown man he never left a family function without a hug and an “I Love You”. This could always be followed with a quick shove into his arm pit because he was so much bigger than everyone else.

The Bible says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart”

Eric lived this verse in completion. Everything he did in life was to the extreme with all his heart. It wasn’t good enough for Eric just to ride his skateboard. He had to study Tony Hawk and become his rival. Snowboards were not to be ridden they were to be mastered. When Eric played baseball he was the best at what he did. Eric could throw a fastball at 88 miles per hour. An exceptional fastball from a normal sixteen year old would be between 60 and 65 miles per hour. No one could say Eric was normal. He loved to dirt bike. Cut lines and trails were for the faint of heart. Eric loved to fly and float. How you ask? Find yourself a borrow pit along the river like Eric did and see just how much juice you have in you. On one particular occasion Eric was sailing 50 to 60 feet across the river to the opposite bank having a blast. It was time to go so one of his friends shut off the fuel line on Eric’s bike to pack it up. Unknown to Eric, who always had get the last ride in, he took off for one more jump and ended up landing himself up to his chest in water. What an extreme ride. After drying out his bike and replacing the oil Eric’s worry of wrecking his bike disappeared. He was left with one incredible tale to tell. And, we all know how much Eric loved to tell a tale. Eric lived fuller in his twenty years than some do for an entire lifetime. What a reassurance to know that.

Eric and his buddies liked to have a lot of fun. Sometimes their idea of fun was a little off the wall. One time Eric’s buddy, Kyle Eaves, decided it would be fun to rig up flashing red and blue lights on his vehicle and freak out their friends. One evening between Stony Plain and Spruce Grove Eric and Kyle were cruising and some driver on the road ticked them off. Well they decided perhaps he needed to be pulled over. On went the lights, and they proceeded to stop the culprit. What a shock to the system when they found out they just happened to pull over an off duty police officer. Not good. Unfortunately the boys got busted right behind Kyle’s house. To add insult to injury the police could not figure out how to turn off the flashing light on Kyle’s car. Typical Eric leaned over with that forever twinkle in his eyes and suggested they ask Constable Eaves. Not really the right thing to say but, worth the laugh.

Eric had three philosophies in life to live by:

1. Enjoy Life to the Fullest

2. Take Care of Your Friends

3. Always Make an Impression

I would say that Eric excelled in all three. He was passionate about his friends. If ever in need Eric would be there indeed. He was a wonderful son, grandson, nephew, and cousin. Eric always had patience for little people. If a small child was in a room you can be sure they would be on Eric’s shoulders before too much time had passed. He was even known to lie down and watch a rousing show of Franklin the Turtle if his little cousins thought it was a good idea. He was never shy to express himself. Self expression is what he was all about.

Today is a testimony of how many friends Eric had. Look around you; friends and family have come together from all places and walks of life. We have neighbors from next door, friends from Ontario, loved ones from out of town, and some from just across town. All of you are a testimony of friendship and love that Eric lived his life by.

If everyone had as many friends as Eric did the world would be populated with friends. What a wonderful place it would be.

I

February 24, 2011

Posted on February 24, 2011 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (2)

DARK SHADOWS FALL IN THE LIVES OF US ALL

Sickness and sorrow come to us all,

But through it we grow and learn to "stand tall"-

For trouble is part and parcel of life

And no man can grow without struggle and strife,

And the more we endure with patience and grace

The stronger we grow and the more we can face-

And the more we can face, the greater our love,

And with love in our hearts we are more conscious of the pain and the sorrow in lives everywhere,

So it is through trouble that we learn how to share.

* Helen Steiner Rice *

What a beautiful poem it is so full of sunshine, calmness, and loving thoughts. It is so inspiring to know that someone can really feel this way in the light of darkness. Are you thinking what I use to think? What a load of crap! I mean really - embrace your troubles, welcome them, grow in them? Give me break I'd want to sit down and cry, then throw something, then hide under the covers. How could I have possibly embraced Violence? Death? Sickness? Personal Violations? Loss? Two years ago I really couldn't, but my life has turned around drastically and I wouldn't say I embrace these encounters but I try to make a positive out of each one of them. How you may ask(or not)? I am going to share with you how I have changed crippling situations into avenues of positive growth.

Cancer has always been a cause of worry for me. There is not a time in the last sixteen years that I have not had someone battling this crippling disease. I have had young friends die of it, my sister-inlaw battled it, my mother and mother-inlaw succumbed to it, my auntie passed away, my brother in-law continues to battle, and just this past year my sister fell victim to it. It touches every aspect of my life. Cancer is not just a battle for the one hosting it, it is a battle for all those that love that one. You can allow the cancer to take over and infiltrate every part of your life or you can fight back and also help others in the process. I do not mean you have to become a cancer researcher or an illness counselor. You can become that sure shoulder to lean on. If you have had the displeasure of dealing with cancer on the frontlines, you have the ability to combat it on the sidelines with empathy, heartfelt caring, and relief. Maybe someone you know is dealing with treatments and does not always have a ride to their treatment appointments. You have a vehicle, put yourself forward and offer to help if the need arises. Meals for the family of a cancer patient are always appreciated. Sometimes just giving personal care to a cancer patient can take all the hours in a day, trying to prepare a meal too can be just too much. Offer to sit with a cancer patient so their primary care giver can get a break. When cancer patients are at their worst they can not be left alone. Sometimes their care givers are completely tied to the house. They can not get their hair cut, do banking chores, buy groceries, or simply go for coffee with a friend for a break. Sitting and visiting with a patient could be the single most appreciated gift you give a care giver. You can be a empathetic listening ear to someone with cancer or their loved ones. I have learned in the past 16 years that sometimes people just need some one to talk to that really understands what they are going through. Lots of times these people don't need advice they just need compassion. There are times though that people have questions and because I have been through so many situations I do have knowledge about cancer, treatments, services available for patients and families, and where to look for any other information. Using the knowledge I have gained through experiences I have been through can help someone that does not know where to look for answers. I would never wish cancer upon anyone I love or myself, but it is a fact of life. I could either let it destroy me or I can fight back and help others. Which is the better choice?

Self consciousness has always been a problem for me. I have never been skinny enough, smart enough, witty enough. I have always dealt with low self esteem. This gives me a really great perspective on how it feels to be a teenage girl in this day and age. Never has there been a time that beauty and sensuality has been more exposed to young girls than now. Yes in the day we wanted to look, act, and behave like the beauty queens. But, nowadays that is not hitting at just our older teenage years it is hitting our preteens. I can completely sympathize with young girls on their lack of self esteem. I was an anorexic youth who never quite fit in. Because of this experience as a young person I can talk to young girls and teenagers about their behaviors, bodies, and thoughts without being a hypocrite. I really do know how it feels not to be perfect "like their friends". (As seen through their eyes) And, I hope when talking to these girls they see that they are not alone in their thoughts and that they only have to be the best person who they can be in their OWN eyes.

Then there is the issue of violation. As I have mentioned in a previous article my home was broken in to and my vehicle stolen. This left me feeling completely violated. When others that I know have been violated I can listen with an empathetic ear, direct them to victim services if the situation calls for it, and how to go about registering complaints. The experiences that I have had led me to want to help others that have been through similar circumstances.

When my vehicle was stolen, I was VERY angry with the perpetrator. He happened to be a 14 year old First Nations boy. Once, I got over my first response anger I became more involved in seeking justice for what was done to me. This led me to court, which in turn led me to more knowledge of this young offender. I believe that this offender needed to be held accountable to me, to the community, and to the justice system. He should not be allowed to commit crimes and not serve justice. BUT, it also taught me things are not just black and white. There are gray areas in everyone's lives. He had wronged me(and many others as well)but his life had not been filled with a lot of positive reinforcement or growth. The more I delved into his lifestyle I learned that the plight of many young First Nations is an uphill battle. We must tread with caution and concern when dealing with some of these young people. And, you know what? This made me think more on the youth all over - First Nation, Caucasian, lower class, higher class, middle class, diverse ethnic groups, sex and so on. Youth of today need more direction than ever in their social developmental stages. It is the responsibilty of everyone to help our youth succeed and become productive adults. Because of this sense of social growth I started to look at what I could do to be instrumental in the lives of children and youth. This led me to working with the "Challenge Day" program at the junior high and high school level. I volunteer my time reading with children(knowledge and education are power) and I volunteer for special events in the schools. I also chose to manage a midget hockey team this year. I hope that I have helped create a positive experience for the players involved.

With crime touching my life in many different ways I felt I had to go out and do something about it. I am presently sitting on the "Clearwater Community Police Advisory Committee" as the secretary. This committee is involved directly with the policing community and gives concrete ideas to law enforcement on how to combat various crimes. ie:graffiti, drugs, vandalism. I am using my voice and experiences for the greater good. I could choose to sit home and not do anything about the things that upset me most, but I have made the decision to help where I can. This gives me a positive outlook on some very negative experiences.

As always, the death of Eric has been my driving force when developing the "Voice-of-Reason". I developed my website, which led me to my personal "baby" the "Voice-of-Reason" presentations that I do throught schools. I am choosing to take a proactive step towards creating positive youth experiences that were based on the ultimate "bad" experience that I endured. If I can assist in keeping one child clean from drugs or alcohol, or perhaps from taking violent steps to prove a point, or joining in with peer pressure that can be devastatingly life changing, then I have achieved what I have set out to do. I have chose not to let Eric's death be in vain. I am going to share my pain with others so they can see first hand the crippling effects of drugs, alcohol, and violence.

I challenge you to look at the negative experiences that you have endured throughout your life. Have you grown from them? Have you bottled them up and tucked them away? Have you dealt with them? To truly take control of your life you need to acknowledge the good and the bad. Sweeping the bad under the rug only works for awhile. I am not suggesting that you need to go out and give presentations, or become the great community volunteer that never takes time to slow down. What I am suggesting is that if a situation in your life has left you sad, barren, and hopeless. Make a conscious choice to learn and grow from it. IT IS NOT EASY TO DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really know. It took me years to deal with some of my pain. Strife and troubles are a natural part of life. Without pain how would we know joy? As weird as this may sound joy can be found in times of pain. I know that all the devastation of the last 4 years has brought my family closer. And, I am not talking about just my immediate family. It has given me a new appreciation for the small things in life. It has led me to some really fascinating adults and youth. I have grown spiritually. I still wish to this day I did not lose my mom, or Eric, or have others I love taken from me. I wish I could change the clock back and a different ending to a lot of situations in my life, but I can't so I either let them bring me down or I choose to have the best life possible - with so many people in my life that love me it is really not a choice.

Experiences + Learning + Growing + Healing + Sharing = Support, Enlightenment, and Love

Peace on Earth and Goodwill Among Men

Posted on December 7, 2010 at 7:48 AM Comments comments (0)

Why is it at Christmas, the happiest and most hopeful time of year, so many people are their saddest? Christmas can be the most depressing time of year for many people. There is an increase rate of suicide and death around the Christmas season, families squabble, loneliness engulfs, and desperation is a virus.

 

I think too many expectations are put on Christmas. Did I buy just the right gift? Is the house decorated to it's fullest?Is the baking complete? Have I got the perfect outfit for the Christmas party? Can I afford it? Have I taken in enough Christmas special performances? What about cards? How will I get the kids to the mall to see Santa? Where do I find time to make the "necessary" crafts with the kids? Why is no one working on my schedule? Why is there no parking spot in this mall lot? Is everybody at the mall today when I am? How come I can't have dinner the way I want it? Why is everyone balking my plans? How come "so and so" is always so difficult? Why can't everyone just get along? Why did the one I loved have to die? How am I suppose to celebrate without you? 

 

Does this sound familiar? Be honest! I know it does for me. I get so wrapped up sometimes in trying to make Christams a perfect Norman Rockwell picture that I end up more disappointed than happy and hopeful.

 

I have learned over the course of the last few years, that all these things really just don't  matter. Don't get me wrong - anyone that knows me knows that I still strive for the picture perfect Christmas. But, at the end of the day Jesus and our loved ones are what it is about. We need to get back to the basics.

 

In a lowly manager our Christ Child was born. It was not adorned with tinsel and lights, trees and baking. It was the most basic of spots. The gift given to us came with no strings attached. We didn't have to go out and find the perfect pay back gift. There was no pomp and ceremony. It was simplicity at it's most. And, it was the Greatest Gift of All.

 

No matter how much "work" you put into Christmas it will never be enough to give you the perfect picture. Until you slow down, realize what it is about , and take time to celebrate the true meaning. Unfortunately we put our hopes in outside factors and hope in others. Other people and situations can not make us happy. We can not control those variables. The only person in life you can control is yourself. It is up to you to find peace and happiness without the outside influence.

 

Trust me when I say I am not being self righteous or callous. I know exactly how it feels to be desperate at Christmas time. I have lived with extreme trauma and I have lost so many people I love. But, the one thing that has made it more bearable is the knowledge of what Christmas Day has provided for them. SALVATION! I will see them again and I will celebrate with them.

 

YES, it hurts that they are not here with me. It is almost crippling at times. But, I do have peace at Christmas time when I slow down and re-exam what it is all about. The rest becomes - stuff. It is not always easy but you can do it!

 

I found this letter on the internet. I think it is an amazing story for Christmas.

 

Christmas Day, 1914

My dear sister Janet,

It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!

As I wrote before, there has been little serious fighting of late. The first battles of the war left so many dead that both sides have held back until replacements could come from home. So we have mostly stayed in our trenches and waited.

But what a terrible waiting it has been! Knowing that any moment an artillery shell might land and explode beside us in the trench, killing or maiming several men. And in daylight not daring to lift our heads above ground, for fear of a sniper’s bullet.

And the rain—it has fallen almost daily. Of course, it collects right in our trenches, where we must bail it out with pots and pans. And with the rain has come mud—a good foot or more deep. It splatters and cakes everything, and constantly sucks at our boots. One new recruit got his feet stuck in it, and then his hands too when he tried to get out—just like in that American story of the tar baby!

Through all this, we couldn’t help feeling curious about the German soldiers across the way. After all, they faced the same dangers we did, and slogged about in the same muck. What’s more, their first trench was only 50 yards from ours. Between us lay No Man’s Land, bordered on both sides by barbed wire—yet they were close enough we sometimes heard their voices.

Of course, we hated them when they killed our friends. But other times, we joked about them and almost felt we had something in common. And now it seems they felt the same.

Just yesterday morning—Christmas Eve Day—we had our first good freeze. Cold as we were, we welcomed it, because at least the mud froze solid. Everything was tinged white with frost, while a bright sun shone over all. Perfect Christmas weather.

During the day, there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side. And as darkness fell on our Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely. Our first complete silence in months! We hoped it might promise a peaceful holiday, but we didn’t count on it. We’d been told the Germans might attack and try to catch us off guard.

I went to the dugout to rest, and lying on my cot, I must have drifted asleep. All at once my friend John was shaking me awake, saying, “Come and see! See what the Germans are doing!” I grabbed my rifle, stumbled out into the trench, and stuck my head cautiously above the sandbags.

I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern like beacons of good will.

And then we heard their voices raised in song.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht . . . .

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent night, holy night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier—or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its dark softened by a first-quarter moon.

When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauding Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Nowell, the angel did say . . . .

In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum . . . .

Then we replied.

O come all ye faithful . . . .

But this time they joined in, singing the same words in Latin.

Adeste fideles . . . .

British and German harmonizing across No Man’s Land! I would have thought nothing could be more amazing—but what came next was more so.

“English, come over!” we heard one of them shout. “You no shoot, we no shoot.”

There in the trenches, we looked at each other in bewilderment. Then one of us shouted jokingly, “You come over here.”

To our astonishment, we saw two figures rise from the trench, climb over their barbed wire, and advance unprotected across No Man’s Land. One of them called, “Send officer to talk.”

I saw one of our men lift his rifle to the ready, and no doubt others did the same—but our captain called out, “Hold your fire.” Then he climbed out and went to meet the Germans halfway. We heard them talking, and a few minutes later, the captain came back with a German cigar in his mouth!

“We’ve agreed there will be no shooting before midnight tomorrow,” he announced. “But sentries are to remain on duty, and the rest of you, stay alert.”

Across the way, we could make out groups of two or three men starting out of trenches and coming toward us. Then some of us were climbing out too, and in minutes more, there we were in No Man’s Land, over a hundred soldiers and officers of each side, shaking hands with men we’d been trying to kill just hours earlier!

Before long a bonfire was built, and around it we mingled—British khaki and German grey. I must say, the Germans were the better dressed, with fresh uniforms for the holiday.

Only a couple of our men knew German, but more of the Germans knew English. I asked one of them why that was.

“Because many have worked in England!” he said. “Before all this, I was a waiter at the Hotel Cecil. Perhaps I waited on your table!”

“Perhaps you did!” I said, laughing.

He told me he had a girlfriend in London and that the war had interrupted their plans for marriage. I told him, “Don’t worry. We’ll have you beat by Easter, then you can come back and marry the girl.”

He laughed at that. Then he asked if I’d send her a postcard he’d give me later, and I promised I would.

Another German had been a porter at Victoria Station. He showed me a picture of his family back in Munich. His eldest sister was so lovely, I said I should like to meet her someday. He beamed and said he would like that very much and gave me his family’s address.

Even those who could not converse could still exchange gifts—our cigarettes for their cigars, our tea for their coffee, our corned beef for their sausage. Badges and buttons from uniforms changed owners, and one of our lads walked off with the infamous spiked helmet! I myself traded a jackknife for a leather equipment belt—a fine souvenir to show when I get home.

Newspapers too changed hands, and the Germans howled with laughter at ours. They assured us that France was finished and Russia nearly beaten too. We told them that was nonsense, and one of them said, “Well, you believe your newspapers and we’ll believe ours.”

Clearly they are lied to—yet after meeting these men, I wonder how truthful our own newspapers have been. These are not the “savage barbarians” we’ve read so much about. They are men with homes and families, hopes and fears, principles and, yes, love of country. In other words, men like ourselves. Why are we led to believe otherwise?

As it grew late, a few more songs were traded around the fire, and then all joined in for—I am not lying to you—“Auld Lang Syne.” Then we parted with promises to meet again tomorrow, and even some talk of a football match.

I was just starting back to the trenches when an older German clutched my arm. “My God,” he said, “why cannot we have peace and all go home?”

I told him gently, “That you must ask your emperor.”

He looked at me then, searchingly. “Perhaps, my friend. But also we must ask our hearts.”

And so, dear sister, tell me, has there ever been such a Christmas Eve in all history? And what does it all mean, this impossible befriending of enemies?

For the fighting here, of course, it means regrettably little. Decent fellows those soldiers may be, but they follow orders and we do the same. Besides, we are here to stop their army and send it home, and never could we shirk that duty.

Still, one cannot help imagine what would happen if the spirit shown here were caught by the nations of the world. Of course, disputes must always arise. But what if our leaders were to offer well wishes in place of warnings? Songs in place of slurs? Presents in place of reprisals? Would not all war end at once?

All nations say they want peace. Yet on this Christmas morning, I wonder if we want it quite enough.

Your loving brother,

Tom

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WHERE IS ALL THIS EXTREME VIOLENCE COMING FROM?

Posted on September 9, 2010 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (1)

 

Throughout the trials for the murderers of my nephew, Eric, I have had the opportunity to talk to members of the media. I was struck with the importance of one of the members questions, "Where is all this extreme violence coming from?"

 

This very obviously intelligent man could  not find a "professional" opinion or statistic on this question throughout our entire nation. He had tried: psychologists, criminologists, etc...Perhaps he was asking the right questions to the wrong people. Maybe it is time to listen to our elders, our Christian leaders, and our consciences.

 

Never before has there been such a change in society as the last 100 years. The wisdom of our seniors, who have lived through the period of this time, should be valued.

 

Yes, there were incidents of violence and demoralizing behavior years ago. But, not to the same escalation and frequency as there is in today's world. Elders of yesteryear will tell you of the respect that parents, teachers, and authorities demanded over their youth. The family and church were the first priority to everyone. And, families worked together for the good of the whole. Entertainment was enjoyed by the whole family together and it was through simple pleasure they took joy: barn dances, games nights, picnics, sleigh rides, neighbor card games, etc...We have created a life of very little time for old fashion mealtime, chore time, and playtime. We are geared to work and be entertained. Family mealtime is a thing of the past and so is simple play. We have replaced much of our downtime with television programming, gaming systems, and computers, as well as other extra curricular activities. Now, don't get me wrong these are all of value and I enjoy each one. BUT, we must control what we are seeing and interacting with, along with how much time we are spending away from the family unit.  

 

We have numbed ourselves to violence, thru these media systems. When I was a child my dad bought our family the first "gaming system" that came out. It was basically like tennis - hit a dot with bars back and forth. Now you can steal a car, shoot a cop, while flying around a corner to gang rape a hooker, and beat up an elderly woman. This is what we have progressed to - and I am using this term loosely.

 

Then there is the daily violence, suggestive behaviour, and sex we are bombarded with on television and in the movies. Watch any sports game and the beer ads totally outweigh any other commercial. Even shampoos are portrayed to have the power to give you a climax.

 

I personally LOVE action packed, shoot em' out, psycho cop thrillers. The are good for an adrenaline rush. But, what does it say about the desensitization of our society that when Mel Gibson created "The Passion of the Christ" it was more graphically violent and disturbing than any other movie I have ever seen? With things like the cult following of UFC, graphically violent movies, and aggressive video games Mel to had to graphically portray the last times of Christ's life or viewers would not grasp the severity of it.

 

Now how barbaric are we that we think fighting in a cage until someone is raw beat is entertaining? I have seen children as young as 6 years old wearing UFC  apparel. Are you freaking kidding me? I don't believe they still have to be watching "Dora the Explorer"  but what about gold old fashion "Spiderman"? Programming our children at such a young age to be entertained by violence is just a recipe for disaster.

 

Now, let's focus on the ever growing problem of drugs and alcohol. We add this to the recipe with violence and we have a cocktail of disaster. Substance abuse is at an all time high. Why? Is it stress, boredom, availability? Ask a senior near you and I bet you get the same answer I did - ALL OF THE ABOVE. In our fast pace society today a lot of seniors feel that we are using these substances to combat the stressful and accelerated lifestyles we live. There is also the belief that people do not know how to productively entertain themselves. They are constantly seeking a new rush.

 

Availability of substances is through the roof. New laws have become so lax that there is no deterrent to producing and distributing illegal substances. And, add if you are a youth offended on top of it, your discipline is a slap on the wrist.

 

We have packed our children's lives with so many extra curricular activities. But, we want our children to succeed and be happy. Where do we draw the line? On top of that for every activity parents have their children in they also have to volunteer. This eats up even more family time. Yet, we need to promote health growth and encourage our children in their interests and talents.  Years ago children did not have the options for sports, art, dance, etc.like they do now. Ask any senior and they will tell you some of this change has been for the good. We just need to balance the line a bit between insanity and fun so we don't lose our time in the family unit.

 

The wisdom and thought of our elders should be carefully considered. They have a wealth of knowledge because they have spent some time gaining it.

 

Where have our faithful values gone? Do unto others, accept responsibility for your actions, acknowledge mistakes, and confess your sins, Be Worthy in the Sight of God. Years ago the church was the centre of a town's infrastructure. It was the centre of social gatherings, priorities, and worship. "God" was taught in the home, the schools, and in faithful attendance of church. Our country was formed on the foundation of Christianity. The foundation of our country, our society, and our families are crumbling because we have not kept God central. We do not teach our children the faithful laws in which we are commanded to live by. We do not teach repentance. Do wrong and all you receive is a slap on the wrist. With no ownership of your mistakes it is easy to do wrong.

 

Our Christian leaders try to guide us on the paths of living healthy lifestyles. But, if we don't pay attention how will we reap the benefits?I want to make this very clear right now - when I speak of Christianity I am not by any means demeaning others with different beliefs. We are to be tolerant of all peoples and to treat others as we would want to be treated. The bible commands this of us.

 

Do you ever get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are doing something questionable? Or perhaps the hair raises on the back of your neck? What about that pounding in your head when something is just not right? These are all signs of your conscience - that little voice inside you that directs you right from wrong. We as a society(no matter if we are black, white, rich, poor, educated, noneducated, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, large, or small) need to listen to our inner voice. We are not born to live unlawfully, cruel, or unemotional. We are created to live in abundance of hope, heart, and happiness. So, if we do something against someone or ourselves we are going against what we know in our hearts to be right and just. To take an attitude of self elevation leads to heartache and despair for you and those around you. If you ignore your conscience you will act in a selfish, abrupt, self serving, and perhaps even in a violent manner to further your own interests. Listen to your conscience before you lash out or are defiant. Do not take what is not yours it will not bring happiness. If you follow your inner conscience properly it will seldom lead you astray. BUT, if you ignore the warning signs sadness, depression, hatred, self loathing or uneasy will be sure to follow, not hope and happiness.

 

I am not sure if you have seen Fred Flinstone when he has had the little devil on one shoulder and on the opposite shoulder sits a little angel. This is an illustration of Fred's conscience. And, if you have seen this before you have surely noticed that every time Fred has sided with the little devil disaster strikes. What a perfect example of showing us that we need to follow our conscience(little angel) in the proper path.  

 

It is time to spread gold "old fashion" values, live up to our faithful commands, and use our good old common sense consciences to combat the violent and destructive behaviors in our society. Maybe we as a people have something to share with the "professionals" that will provide insight on how to deal with these troubles of our times. We need to work together as a whole to end the violence NOW!

 

 

 

 

 

June 6, 2010

Posted on June 6, 2010 at 9:26 AM Comments comments (1)

Empowerment

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Empathy: power of imaginatively entering into and understanding another's feelings.

Sympathy: compassion for someone's pain or distress: agreement with someone's feelings or interests.

At times we come across those that are in a rough or even incomprehensible spot in their lives. The circumstances they have found themselves in have created hopelessness and despair. How do we minister to those in such need? Our first instinct is to give them sympathy in abundance. There is nothing wrong with this: however certain situations call for empathy rather than sympathy.

Sympathy can cripple rather than empower at times. To sympathize and have compassion for those in need is a wonderful thing. We must put others in our hearts and show them compassion in their time of need. Kaeleigh's very good friend has just lost her mother. Without hesitation I give her sympathy. She is just eleven years old and has lost the most important person in her world. My sympathy is comforting to her and is a show of my love and support to her. It will empower her to know that others and myself are there for her and feel compassion to her pain.

Let us change scenarios. For example: Do you know someone that through their own actions they are placed in a situation of stress and grief? Perhaps they have had outside influences effect their circumstances and are stuck in a holding position in life instead of a living position. Do they need the coddling of sympathy or do they need the understanding of empathy. Depending on the situation sympathy can be crippling. The person in need may wallow in your compassion and justify themselves with it. Perhaps at this time you need to empower them with empathy. Instead of saying, "Oh you poor poor thing I can't believe this is happening to you" TRY " My goodness I can imagine that you feel at your wits end. How are you planning to rectify the situation?" Let the person take ownership for their unhappiness(even if their unhappiness has not been created through there own actions) and try to find a solution to the problem.

There are so many variables that affect how we should deal with a problem: sympathy vs. empathy. Every situation is different and every person is different. When an initial action causes swift and immediate emotional strain sympathy is often the most beneficial emotion to show someone. For example: the young girl that lost her mother, or the loss of employment, diagnosis of cancer, etc...Sympathy is the best action taken.

Perhaps though the situation is long standing, chronic, or self inflicted maybe empathy would be a better solution. For example: financial personal debt brought on by over spending, some types of mental disease, or even depressive grief. The person in need may need your understanding of their situation so that they feel empowered to take action and create a solution for a happier or at least more productive life.

I may sound cold when I say things like the above, but I know from personal experience that when a person is under a large amount of strain they may need the releasing effects of empathy rather than sympathy. When Eric was killed I could not go in crowds, I could not keep coherent thoughts, I had nightmares, and in every aspect of my life it affected me. I needed the immediate sympathy of those around me. I was crippled and needed the strength of others to keep me going. Then as time passed I did not need the coddling as much as I needed the understanding. I needed the knowledge that the people close to me understood that I was not the same after losing Eric but I had to be productive. At first there were meals for my family delivered and then slowing that died away. It was important that I started living again and that meant doing the small and large tasks of being a wife and mother. I would have just stayed in my house and not lived but I had people around me that understood that I could not do the same things but I could get out or I could have them over for a visit. They did not let me just wallow they gently nudged me to live.  

Personalities of different people really dictate how one should minister to them. Everyone is different and everyone copes in different manners. There are always your strong willed people that just do it because it needs to be done. Then there are those that are sitting in the middle ground. They are even tempered and deal with experiences in a moderate manner. Then there are the people that are "the victim". They do not take ownership for their problems and always play the sympathy fiddle. They need empowerment to make choices for themselves and not ot wallow in self pity. Every person, situation, and circumstance will call for different action. When you have chosen your action make sure that you are empowering the one you care about. Ask yourself - Do they need sympathy or empathy?

April 15, 2010

Posted on April 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM Comments comments (2)

FORGIVENESS

I have written about forgiveness before. In my previous article it was about forgiving others. This is not an easy task nor is it one that should be taken lightly, but it is necessary for you to have a peaceful life to lay aside all bitterness and forgive. This includes forgiving yourself for past indiscretions, attitudes, behaviors, and thoughts.

Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person's sin.(Neil T. Anderson)

Forgiveness is also about letting go of the guilt that you may have riding on your shoulders. This past year I have been in close contact with some youth in my community. Some of the youth I have had an opportunity to talk with have been in some precarious situations. Because of these situations they have felt - worthless, stupid, used, and depressed. One of them told me that they have done so many wrong things that they could not possibly make it right again. This completely broke my heart.

How could I minister to a youth in despair if they felt so worthless? I talked to them about forgiveness. Forgiving themselves so they could go on from that moment on and be renewed and not have their past mistakes lugged around on their back like a burden to carry.

I am sure that all of us have past incidents that we are not proud of and may even be feeling guilty about. It is time to let them go and move forward. Does this mean you just forget about it like it never happened? NO! It means acknowledge the wrong, learn from it, make amends for it if need be, and move forward. All circumstances can be used as learning tools to better our lives. Make sure you take hold and learn from your mistakes.

Forgive yourself and others so that you may lead a life of peace and contentment.

February 19, 2010

Posted on February 19, 2010 at 3:47 PM Comments comments (0)

What Do You Say?

How many times have you asked this question of a child who has forgot their manners? "What do you say?"

I started thinking about this phrase and really pondering it. What do we say in so many situations? Are we using our manners, are we properly teaching manners, and have manners gone by the wayside?

I was on a board with a family services worker a couple years back and she made a very good point that has stuck with me ever since. We are not teaching our children and youth of today proper manners. It is being laid aside. Without manners there is a definite break in the proper code of conduct.

Manners give us a basic foundation for proper behavior in our families, school, communities, and jobs. We learn to be appreciative of what we are given, we learn to be proper communicators (without interrupting or using profane language), we learn polite tolerance of difference of opinions, we learn how to help others, and respect ourselves.

When a child is very small and just learning to speak we are to teach them please and thank you. As child grows older we are to shush them if they interrupt. In school they are to be taught to wait in line and to sit quietly in their seats. We are to stand at attention with hats off as our National Athem is playing. I am noticing more and more a breakdown of these simple polite manners.

In the schools we have children bouncing from seat to seat, please and thank you has gone by the wayside, how often does a male child open the door for you, how about constant issues over ownership of toys with children. These are all manner situations.

Who's to blame for this breakdown - US! We have created a "me society" that fails to recognize basic manners. We are the leaders of our youth and we are not doing our jobs. Children do not know instinctively how to use manners. They need to be taught from an early age.

Parents need to be assertive with the teaching of manners. Schools need to demand manners from their students. It is not okay to just say,” Well they don't know any better." If children and youth are not being taught manners at home as a responsible society we MUST guide them in the proper manner. It goes back to the saying - IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD.

If a child wants a something we must instill please and thank you. If a youth is being disruptive in class we must not allow the behavior to continue. These are small things. Think about the really big stuff: A child sees a bike on the lawn of someone else’s home and decides to take it for a joy ride, later in life it could be a vehicle in the driveway. How about listening to yes or no, a child may want a new toy and is firmly told no but with a display of a temper tantrum the child gets his way. Again, later in life a girl refuses sex, but a young man feels he can get his way - it becomes rape!

Teaching a young man to open doors for women, help out where needed, and to be kind will more likely lead to a respectful husband than if everything is handed to him on a silver platter. A young woman taught to be compassionate to others, to have a voice of reason, and to display respectful behavior will make for a kind and giving wife. These two things combined will create a happy marriage without the ultimate breakdown of divorce. Conflict will be dealt with and manners will rein - no family break up. (I am not saying this is true for every divorce by any means it is just an example. Some times things happen and no manners or good intentions will clear the conflict.)

Manners = Respect

Respect = Happiness and Productivity

It is just basic common sense to use manners. It is also makes good sense to appreciate children and youths' manners when they display them. When a child is very thorough with her please and thank yous make sure to acknowledge it. If a male youth hold open a door for you make sure you thank them for it. Be aware as an adult that you are using your manners too.

 

Thank you for taking them time to read my thoughts. Have a great day :)

January 20, 2010

Posted on January 8, 2010 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

You must remove all bitterness, rage, anger, threats, and insults, with all malice. You must practice being kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has graciously forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:31-32,WMS

Wow, that is quite a mouthful. Are you kidding me? How am I to forgive those that wrong me? I am sure you have someone or maybe a few people that you would not stop your car for if they were lying in a ditch. I know I do. Everyday we interact with people and not all those people are pleasant or even tolerable.  My instincts leave me despising or even hating some people. I mean really I am only human.

It may sound contrite but the only person you eventually hurt is yourself by not forgiving and carrying a grudge forward. Hatred and malice can eat away at your spirit so that there is only just a shell of a person left.

I am not talking about being ticked off with a boss, or coworker, or simply being mad at a friend, or acquaintance. We do need to leave these grudges at the door, but it is the ones that are all consuming that take over our lives that we need to get control of.

In my head I have this anger scale - slightly ticked, quite hurt and mad, really disgusted, bitter, and full out anger. The first three I can deal with given time. It may not mean I want to be someone's friend but I do not wish them ill will. The bitterness category tends to drag on with me. I really have to fight against it because I really do hold grudges. I find the best option for me is to stay away from the people that fall into this category. And, I really have to ask God's help placing it at His feet. I am very head strong and I hold onto my emotions long after it is healthy. The full out anger category is the one I have really had to dwell on to get myself to a healthy place.

For nearly 2 1/2 years I have dealt with anger that is almost crippling at times. With this anger I have dealt with pain that has engulfed me and left me ravaged. Some of my closest friends know how sad and angry I was but even they do not know the extent of my rage and sorrow. I have tried to move on and claim happiness but it just keeps sneaking back at me. I have watched anger and despair destroy people that I love and I am determined not to let that happen to me. I need to place my anger at the Lord's feet so I can lead a life of freedom.

Contempt and anger led to the brutal death of my nephew, Eric Olsen. Eric was mass beaten to death by a group of people that were out of control. His death has led me to this web blog and what I hope will be a blessing to others. I said I would not let his death be in vain. I must do what I can to promote goodwill, justice, and love among men.

At the end of May 2007 my nephew, Eric, was severely beaten by a mass of people that were under the influence of anger. He was flogged with fence posts, golf clubs, rocks, bats, and various other objects. He sustained multiple head injuries and after a few days in a coma he succumbed to the injuries and died. Sounds like a well written newspaper article doesn't it? Well, it is not - it is my life! It was not so cut and dry.

Eric laid in a hospital bed attached to machine after machine - one breathed for him, one fed him, one was a waste removal system, one checked his blood pressure and pulse, one recorded his neuro responses, and one was hooked up to shrill should he die. He lay broken and bruised in a coma, non responsive and critical. There was hope at the beginning that he may conquer the swelling in his brain and wake up. That hope was dashed after he had a stroke. Eric was going to die.

I had come home after being with Eric for a couple days to get my children organized so I could go back and stay with him. I still remember the call from my sister in the afternoon telling me I had to get to Edmonton because Eric was going to die. At that moment my world as I knew it stopped. Anger beyond measurement became a constant in my life.

After the call my husband and I flew to Edmonton to be with Eric as he died. When we arrived it was surreal, just like a really tragic Hollywood movie. There were hoards of young people in the waiting room. They were anxious, sad, and most of all angry. You could feel the anger vibrate through the air. Eric's sister and brother were dazed. The full extent of what lay ahead had not really registered yet. My brother was struggling to stay afloat and look after everything that needed to be done. He was trying to come to grips with the fact that his child was going to die. Eric was going to die a violent and senseless death.

For hours I held a vigil at Eric's bedside. I left only when forced to. I prayed harder than I have every prayed in my life. I talked, I sang, and I comforted him. I did everything I could to bring him back - but it just wasn't enough. I watched as Eric's brain exploded and lifted the top of his head and was pushed back down to collapse his brain stem. He was gone. A piece of me left that day, one I can never get back. At that moment I became consumed with an anger that was not just emotional I felt it physically. I felt HATE!

My hate was so raw that it burned inside me. The people that had done this to Eric and my family were monsters.

Because of the many people involved with Eric's death and the amount of people it affected there was great concern that there would be retroactive action taken on those that had caused him to die. Heroically my brother stood up to all those that supported Eric and pleaded for no retribution. He was even brave enough to plead his case on television, in hopes of stopping any further bloodshed. I am not sure if I could have done the same. I wanted them to pay for what they had done.

When some of those responsible for Eric's death were let out on bail it made me want to physically throw up. The television crews caught them laughing and joking about the situation. How could they be so cruel, cold, and callous? My anger became enflamed even more and my hatred grew.

For the first couple months I barely functioned. My grief was crippling and my anger unmanageable. Slowly I regained my footing and started to live(on the outside) a semblance of real life. I went through my day to day tasks and took part in the people world again. But, inside I was still seething. When I look back I think maybe I was not quite as good at hiding my feelings as I thought I was.

One day I had a conversation with my Pastor. God was commanding me to forgive these evil men that had caused Eric's death. How could I justifiably forgive such heinous creatures? My Pastor explained to me that it wasn't like walking up to them, holding their hand, and saying, "I forgive you let's be pals." It was a forgiveness of their souls. How sad that they are so poisoned in their souls that they could commit murder against another. I was to take compassion on their souls and pray for them to be delivered from their evil and that they would recognize their sins and ask for forgiveness from the Lord. Little by little his words started to make sense. How pathetic were these creatures that had brutally murdered my nephew.

During the time following Eric's death many of you may know that my mom was dying. I was so FULL of emotions that I could not really keep them all straight. I fooled myself into thinking that I was handling Eric's death. I even told people that I was still angry and I wanted to see justice, but I felt sorry for these peoples' souls. And, I think I did to a point, but not as much as I thought. Even though I understood what God wanted from me I had not yielded to his will yet.  

When I sat in courtrooms and was presented with evidence and information on the death of my nephew I still boiled with anger and hate. I stared at his murders in the eyes and I felt hatred so strong that it was physical. I wanted them to pay and the justice system was not really making that happen. So, the anger continued to boil under the surface.

Until this summer I could only be happy to a point. I could put on my happy face and be as charming as ever so others would not know what went on in the inside of me. I could give all the proper lip service that was required of me. But, I could never achieve true happiness because of anger and resentment. I really don't know what the turning point has been but since then I have become more peaceful in my heart and I really do have compassion for these peoples' souls. I know without a doubt that I could not have got to this point without God's help. There is no way I could have come through this with my faith and sanity had He not been at my side and had He not put people in my life to help with it.

With this all said it does not mean I want to bond a friendship with any of Eric's murders, I do not want them to walk away without punishment, nor do I want them to have the privilege of a normal life until they have made retribution for their crime. I do know that I sincerely hope that they have learned from this heinous crime and that they never find themselves committing such a travesty again. I do believe some of the people directly responsible for Eric's death got caught up in a moment that was influenced by peers,anger, alcohol, and drugs. I believe that some of them are sincerely remorseful for what they did. I do also believe though, that some have no remorse for their actions and would do it all over again if given the opportunity and if they could accomplish it without getting caught.

I have made the decision to leave the final judgment of these men in God's hands. He will administer the proper sentence. It may not be given in the  time frame that I would like to see, but in His time.

The two final killers in Eric's death will be tried starting May 31,2010. Their charges are by far the most grievous of all laid. They will stand trial for 1st Degree Murder and Unlawful Confinement. When I face them this time I know that I will want to see justice served to the full extent of the law. And, even then it will not bring Eric back to me. I also know that I will have to depend on The Lord to extinguish the all consuming fire of anger that will flare up in me. These men have already taken my nephew, destroyed members of my family, I will not let bitterness from their actions destroy me also. I must place my anger at the feet of God. How pathetic are they that have committed this crime. They do not have self confidence, social acceptance, or spirit that is so important in living a life of happiness and productiveness.

In the words that were spoken to the men at the guillotines, "May God have mercy on your soul."

 


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