Monday, December 24, 2018

Chappy - Chapter 4

Chapter 4

March 12th - 7:35am

“Ok, Lori, one more time, please. Just to be sure that we have it correctly,” said Detective Frank Williams. He was sitting in the living room of Mayor Jacob Donovan with the Mayor seated in his recliner, smoke rings circling above his head from the Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco he was smoking. Chief Martin sat on the couch to Donovan’s right and Donovan’s daughter, Lori sat on the couch with her mother, Mindy. Detective Williams sat in a chair directly in front of Lori and her mother, the chair having been brought in from the dining room for this occasion. Lori began speaking, looking down at the floor.

“He and I have been dating for a year now, behind his back,” she motioned to her father who began puffing thicker clouds of smoke as she recalled the story for the third time this morning.
“We knew Donny would overreact,” her mother defended.

Mayor Donovan’s face grew red, “Overreact?!” he shouted. “You’re doggone right, she’s seventeen years old!”

Chief Martin leaned forward, “let her finish, Donny.”

Mayor Donovan reluctantly leaned back in his chair, puffing on his pipe again, but didn’t respond.
Detective Williams looked at Lori and beckoned her to continue.

Lori rolled her eyes at her father before continuing, “anyway, we had been dating and, you know, we did what people do.”

“Trashy people,” the Mayor said under his breath, but loud enough for everyone to hear it.
“Donny!” exclaimed his wife.

Donovan leaned forward and retorted, “she gets that lifestyle from your side of the family.”
Tears welled up in MIndy’s eyes, “Donny, please! I can’t believe you…” but she didn’t finish her sentence.

Donovan turned to Chief Martin and demanded, “can we wrap this up? You guys don’t get paid to hear this story over and over do you? It’s about time you leave and go arrest this jerk. And don’t give me any crap story about this being legal, she’s seventeen!”

Chief Martin calmly responded, “Now Donny, I know you’re upset, but you and I both know we don’t make up the laws, we enforce them. You said it yourself, she is seventeen. In the state of Georgia she can legally sleep with whoever she wants as long as they are over the age of sixteen themselves. So there is no law broken here, because she says it was consensual.

Lori looked at her mother, but didn’t speak. Mindy encouraged her daughter, “go ahead, tell ‘em.”
The room grew quiet and everyone looked at Lori as she began to speak, looking down at the floor again.

“Last night,” she began, “it wasn’t consensual. He raped me.”

The mayor took his seat as she continued.

“I mean, it started out consensual, but I wasn’t feeling like it. I told him to stop and he got upset. He told me if I didn’t have sex then we were over and I said that was fine if that’s how he wanted to be. Then he pushed me down and forced me. The whole time he kept calling me a stupid, immature high school kid. I didn’t yell because I was afraid of what my father would say if he found out. He left at about five o’clock and I woke mom up to tell her. I had to tell someone,” she was crying at this point in her story. Mindy pulled her daughter close as she sobbed in her arms.

Donovan leaned forward, looked at Chief Martin and said calmly, “I guess you boys have enough for an arrest now, right? Go pick the punk up.”

Detective Williams responded, “We have enough to go talk to him, certainly, but there is just one problem.”

“Oh yeah,” demanded the mayor, “what’s that?”

Williams sighed, “he’s in a coma.”

Chappy - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

March 12th – 6:38am

The hospital waiting room in the emergency department was abnormally busy when Chappy arrived. She parked her Expedition in one of the few parking spaces free and headed for the doors. All the way to the hospital she wondered what the call was about. Usually when she would receive a call, she would get a little information, but Sergeant Owens didn’t seem very chatty on the phone.
Perhaps it’s an officer, she thought.

She became much more certain as she entered the emergency room waiting area and saw the different officers, some in uniform, some not. Three of the four dispatchers were there, the parole officer, records clerk, and administrative assistant. Not only that, but a Trooper from the Georgia State Patrol and a few Georgia Bureau of Investigation officers were in attendance.

This definitely involves an officer, she thought again and the evidence of those present confirmed it.
Chief Martin walked up to her and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Amy,” he said, “come with me.”

He never calls me Amy, what could be going on, she wondered.

As she followed Chief Martin through the waiting room she began to notice that everyone was looking at her. Half-hearted smiles from one, others looking down or away when she passed.
They stopped at doorway being held open by a short, frumpy woman in her mid-forties.
“Let’s talk in here,” Chief Martin said as he motioned her inside.

Amy knew something really bad must have happened and she knew this room all too well. This was the room where she met with many families when giving them bad news, but as to why she was in there now, she had no idea.

“Sit down, please,” Chief Martin said as he pulled out a stool and took a seat himself. The nurse closed the door and the two ladies joined the chief in taking their seats. The nurse was not just an ordinary nurse. She was Nurse Cindy Sanders, Chief of Nursing at Mochaton Memorial Hospital. Cindy took Chappy’s hand as the Chief began to speak.

“This isn’t easy, but I want you to listen carefully. Your son, Jimmy, was in a single car collision a little while ago.”

Nurse Cindy squeezed Chappy’s hand as the reality began to set in. The department staff present, Owens’ reluctance to give details on the phone, Chief calling her Amy, it was all starting to make sense.

Amy retained her composure and asked, “is he….dead?”

“No,” answered Chief Martin, “but he is in ICU, critical condition and in a coma.”

Amy put her hands over her face and exclaimed, “oh, thank God!”

Looking up she asked, “when can I see him?”

Nurse Cindy fielded this question, “when we are finished admitting him. He hasn’t been here long, but as soon as we are finished, you can see him. Mind you, he is unconscious, but you can see him all you want.”

Amy nodded to them both, “thank you. Thank you both, very much.”

As she was giving thanks, the door cracked open and a tall,
lanky, uniformed officer poked his head in.

“Chief,” he said politely, “we need you.”

Visibly irritated, Chief Martin responded, “Hernandez, can’t you see I’m a little busy right now?”

“Yes sir, and I am sorry, but we really need you. We have a rape call……at the Mayor’s residence.”
“Go, I’m fine,” encouraged Chappy.

Chief Martin nodded, stood up and exited the room.

Nurse Cindy looked at Chappy and smiled, “stay here as long as you want. I’ll come get you when he’s ready.”

Amy thanked Nurse Cindy and Cindy softly closed the door behind her.

As the door closed and Amy was sure no one was near it, she was finally safe to do what she had been wanting to do the minute she received the news.

She put her head in her hands and began to cry.

Chappy - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

March 12th – 5:17am

The radio blasted as Jimmy tried to stay awake. He had unzipped the windows of his red Jeep Wrangler and was letting the cool air blow through onto his face. He was unusually tired as he headed through town to work and he thought a mixture of Mt. Dew, cold air, and the radio up as loud as he could stand would help.

“You’re too shy, shy! Hush, Hush, eye to eye….” sang the young accountant at the top of his lungs as the one hit wonder played over his radio speakers. It was tax season and Jimmy Lewis had been putting in fifteen hour days, but he didn’t mind. He wasn’t married, lived at home, was making a lot of money and had life by the horns. With the exception of the fatigue that he couldn’t seem to relieve himself of, everything else was perfect.

The song ended and commercials began, so naturally, Jimmy reached for the knob and turned down the radio so that he could barely hear it. His eyes seemed to be growing heavier and heavier by the mile, but just another few and he would arrive at Larkin, Castle, and Associates.

As he approached the green light at the intersection of 1st and Inglewood, his eyelids finally got the better of him and closed around his bloodshot eyeballs. Jimmy opened his eyes as soon as he realized what had happened, but it was too late, he was headed for the median. In an attempt to correct himself, he snatched the wheel to the right, overcorrecting and sending him off the road where he slammed into an embankment and began a barrel roll that rivaled the Hollywood Studio’s stunt show in Orlando, Florida. Although his Jeep flipped three times before resting in a heap on the shoulder of the highway, Jimmy was ejected on the second flip and landed some thirty feet away from the final resting place of his pride and joy. As his body hit the ground, his head struck the shoulder of the highway and knocked him unconscious. Within ten minutes, EMS and officers were on the scene. Strangely enough, however, the Chief of Police was there too, having been called out of his bed by Sergeant Owens.

“Call Chappy, have her meet me at the hospital,” the gruff voice instructed Sergeant Owens. The voice belonged to a man, in his sixties, worn by time and forty years on the job. His face was clean shaven and would have been smooth if not for the frown lines that had made their home on his brow and around his mouth. He remained emotionless as he spoke, “I will be en route soon. I want to be there before she arrives.”

“Yessir. On it,” responded Owens.

Red and blue lights were flashing all around the scene and as police did their best to redirect the morning commuters and EMS personnel tended to Jimmy. Jimmy was only twenty-three years old and it was determined that he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. In fact, he was barely breathing when first responders arrived.

Sergeant Owens returned to the Chief as he continued to stare expressionless at the crumpled Wrangler.

“All set. Chappy is on her way to the hospital, Chief.”

The chief didn’t look up, but responded, “10-4.”

Both men stood in silence for a few moments before Sergeant Owens spoke again.

“Chief,” he spoke softly, as the ambulance pulled away from the scene, sirens blaring over their conversation, “Chappy is always there for us, but who’s gonna be there for Chappy?”

The Chief looked up, also speaking softly and completely out of character for him, “We will, Owens. Get this mess cleaned up and then get everyone to the hospital. Her son is all Chappy has left.”

Chappy - Chapter 1

Tuesday, March 12th - 3:34am

The rattling of her 2002 Ford Expedition echoed through the almost vacant parking lot of Tucker Plaza. It was late, far too late for a Police Chaplain to be out doing anything, but she couldn't sleep. Amy Parker was a ten
year veteran of the Mochaton Police Department. A tour that had and probably always would be strictly voluntary. The Mocaton PD was a small department, deploying three officers on the streets at any given time. The town was small and so was the crime rate. The need for a chaplain, while necessary, meant that Amy was never extremely busy and had to find ways to serve the officers between tragedies and in her decade of service, there had never been a major event.

"Mocaton," the radio in her car came on, "do you have anything on that plate I gave you?"

The voice was that of Sergent Jeff Owens. He had just pulled a vehicle over on the other side of Tucker Plaza and was waiting on the registration information to come back from dispatch. Amy pulled her vehicle into a parking space a safe distance away, facing the flashing blue lights that helped to light up the poorly lit Plaza. Putting her personal vehicle in park, she pressed a button on the top left of her dash and four white lights on the front of her Expedition began to flash intermittently. It was an unnecessary gesture, but she enjoyed doing it because it made her feel like part of the team, even though she was nowhere close to the scene.

"10-4" the dispatcher responded, "that tag is on a white Chevy Tahoe, Class C license, registered to Needlebaum out of Georgia, valid insurance and registration, no warrants."

"Routine traffic stop," thought Amy. She knew better than to ever say that in front of anyone else, because as she had been told many times, there is no such thing. But, in Amy's case, she saw plenty of traffic stops that ended just like this. It wasn't that Amy wanted anything bad to happen. She gave thanks to God each time a traffic stop ended peacefully, but she found herself becoming complacent like so many of the officers, because that was all that ever came back from dispatch when an Mocaton officer pulled someone over.

"10-4" Answered Sergeant Owens, then he added, "Thanks for the backup, Chappy."

Amy smiled, reached for her radio, keyed the mic and responded, "10-4, 1501. 1501 was his badge number and while Amy had a number they used for her handle, 1777, she was affectionately called "chappy" by everyone in the department.

She set her mic down, reached to the dash, turned off her lights, and cranked her car. By this time, Sergent Owens had returned to his vehicle. The traffic stop was over. All was well. Amy had done her job.

Amy felt a sense of pride watching over her officers like she had just done. She wasn't armed or anything, but she knew that they felt a sense of security when they knew she was nearby watching their backs with access to a radio. The Chief had made it clear to her when he granted her radio use that she could watch and report, but she wasn't to interfere or step in. She had no police training, no weapon, and no vest and she knew the Chief was simply looking out for her safety. So she always kept her distance and monitored ready to report in if an officer needed backup and couldn't key their mic to let dispatch know. Of course, this never happened, and while that made for a boring night, Amy was always thankful that her officers were safe.

The radio remained silent as Amy drove home. She was finally getting tired and thought she would try to get some rest. It was after 4:00am when she pulled into her driveway and shut off the engine. Amy had a busy day and she had to be up in just two hours, but she was fulfilled. She knew she had done a great thing and she could tell in her Sergeant's voice when he thanked her for "backing him up" and that was all the pay she needed. The smile never faded until her head hit her pillow and she finally drifted off to sleep. Unfortunately for Amy, this was the last time she would smile for a while.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Love that Never Dies

Today I visited an elderly member of our church at the assisted living home nearby.  As we sat in her living room, she told me a story about how she likes to kiss the picture of her late husband and tell him all about her day.  She asked me if this was alright, fishing to know if I thought her behavior was odd.  Although she never said, I am sure somewhere along the line she has shared this with someone who thought that in was in fact an odd thing to do.  All I could do was smile while she told me about the conversations that she has had with the photograph.  I assured her that this didn't seem odd to me, but that some people find me odd anyway.

She also told me about how she had passed her ring down to the oldest daughter and one day she realized she missed wearing it on her finger. Her husband had been long gone from this world, but she desired to let everyone know that she was still married. Although she could have married someone else, she told me that her late husband, Alvin, was the only man who could truly hold her heart. She struck me as being as madly in love with him today as she has ever been, probably even more.  The picture above is actually her hand and ring, taken at the end of my visit.   Her daughters bought her this wedding band as a reminder of a love that never died. She gave me permission to tell this story and use their names.

Ms. Betty Wheeler met Alvin the same way many of us did, riding his bus.  For some of us, he was a school bus driver, for her, he was the driver of a passenger travel bus.  Ms. Betty longs for the day that she will embrace him once again and tell him everything that has happened since he left, but until then, she will talk to his picture, give it a kiss, and smile knowing that her man still holds her heart, long after going Home.

As I processed the story, sitting in her living room, it made me think of conversations that I have had with many young couples over the years. This conversation has even become one that I have had in my own home.  What would someone do, if their spouse died?  For some, they get remarried and there isn't anything wrong with that.  For others, they choose to go it alone, spending the rest of their days experiencing life with the memories of their best friend close to their heart.

The love that Ms. Betty has for Mr. Alvin is something that I think I have only seen in the romantic movie The Notebook.  Listening to her share was to hear something out of a well-written love story, suitable only for the big screen.  But not so, in fact, it is the true story of a love that will never die.  The rest of us can only hope to be so madly in love as we reach those later years of life.  Some of us have work to do.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

From the Pastor's Heart - August Edition

Start Strong

Well, we have officially made it through the summer and this year the slump wasn't that bad. My first year, we never slumped, then the last two, we slumped bad.  This summer we rose and fell like the tides, but all in all it was a pretty good summer. School is scheduled to start and families will be joining us. Some of you have been gone all summer and you may be shocked to see how things have changed since you've been away. Others have been here and may be wishing for a break!  Whatever the case, I want to encourage you to start off this school year with the students by developing good study habits of God's Word. Here are some tips:

1) Set a time daily - just like students who have a structured homework schedule, we all need a set time to study God's Word whether it is by reading the Bible or a devotion. Time spent doing this will only benefit us. So go ahead and schedule it now.

2) Meet with the Teacher - Jesus is the greatest teacher the world has ever seen (or ever will see).  Having an excellent teacher, however, isn't enough. We need to meet with the teacher, get some extra help, and spend time learning from them. Plan on meeting regularly with Jesus to have Him point out some areas of learning in your life.

3) Go for Perfect Attendance - there is no doubt, students who attend classes do much better than students who don't. The same can be said for church goers. The more we attend Sunday School and Church, the better apt we are to be prepared for the tests coming up.  I don't really expect anyone to have perfect attendance at church, but when you think about it, why not?  It is still less time than spent at work or school!

4) Make Friends in Class - one of the greatest experiences in school can involve friends. Friends are people we are close to and we end up "doing life" with them.  We need this in church as well and we are created to be a community together.  So why not make some new friends at church this month? Who knows what interesting things behold you?! 

5) Plan for Recess - if the saying is true, All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy then I want to warn you not to be like the way, this is in no way related to Jack Clifton who loves to play!  If we are serving the Lord and working our "you know what's off" but not enjoying the recess time he has given us together, we will burnout before Christmas.  Find ways to enjoy being at church. Start with not taking life too seriously.

I am looking forward to a great School Year and an even better Church Year!  I hope you are as well!

Pastor Chester

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Is the idea that Opposites Attract unbiblical?

Is the idea that Opposites Attract unbiblical?

The idea that opposites attract is not a new one. In fact, who really knows how long it has been around? Anyone who knows us knows that my wife and I are total opposites.  I’m loud, she’s soft.  I talk a lot, she’s doesn’t.  I like action movies, she likes foreign films.  I like playing video games, she does not. I hate yard work, she loves it. I am messy, she is clean. There are some different theories in the world today that suggest opposites in a relationship may not be so good after all., however Dr. Gary Chapman disagrees. In his book, The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Chapman suggests that there are five different languages that each individual speaks and often times it is not the same one. Additionally, Dr. Chapman believes that “your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English” (Chapman, 15, 2017). If this is the case, it is not the opposites that cause the problem, they are merely symptoms. In actuality, it is the lack of communication or the ability to communicate that causes trouble.

It has been suggested that the verse in 2 Corinthians 6:14 which reads, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness” (NASB), gives couples reason to pause if they notice differences in themselves. This, however, is a poor hermeneutical understanding of the text. The idea of being bound together with unbelievers or unequally yoked (KJV) is not an issue of opposites it is an issue of salvation.  The image used by the Apostle Paul in this letter to the Corinthians is one that is borrowed from earlier texts, specifically Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:10, which both warn about intermarriage or close alliances with nonbelievers. If the couple is not made up of two believers in Christ, the Bible clearly contains warnings for the union to be ended and not continue on.

When it comes to a couple, such as my wife (Heather) and I, opposites must be clearly defined and understood prior to marriage as well as navigational/communicational techniques learned for such times when disagreements or misunderstandings occur.  Opposites are not inherently bad, but a couple that is not prepared for how opposites will affect their marriage can suffer greatly.  I believe, while “opposites attract” should not be reason alone to date or marry someone, when opposites appear they can be used to highlight the special differences and individuality.   In today’s society it seems as if the term opposite is negative.  For example, if you have a different opinion than I do, you are wrong.  However, that is not how opposites should be seen and good communication in and out of marital relationships is the key to success.

Chapman, G. D., & Green, J. (2017). The 5 love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago: Northfield Publishing.

Photo credit: By Geek3 - Own work, CC BY 3.0,