Jake’s Midnight Dust Up


The last day of 2017 found Jake alone in the empty house. The movers had come and gone. Earlier that day Jake sent his wife Rachel off with their two kids to their new home in another state. Jake stayed behind to clean up the house for the new owners. The house belonged to them at midnight.

Rachel was Jake’s second wife. His first wife Leah divorced him after she found out about Jake’s cheating. And, so that there was no more cheating, child support for Jake’s and Leah’s six sons and daughter was deducted from his paycheck. Jake wasn’t proud of what he had done but he was a survivor.

His mother, though, who had taught Jake from his childhood to “get what is yours”, was proud of him. So was Jake’s manager Aram Fields. Aram liked Jake. Jake’s sales record chart was given pride of place in the break room – on an easel next to the water cooler. During the twenty years Jake had worked for Aram, he became Fields Pre-Driven Cars’ top salesman seven years in a row. Jake became family when he married Rachel, Aram’s daughter.

Jake could pitch like no other salesman Aram knew. And, Jake’s mark-up-the-interest-rate-2-or-3 % financing was his specialty. Jake also knew each car’s history and could promote each one as “slightly used but highly prized by its previous owner”. Jake had a way of convincing people to “get what is yours”.


Well, that night, while Jake was in the kitchen cleaning the oven, there was a knock on the front door. When Jake opened the door, there stood a man with a tool carrier.

“Hi…uh…I didn’t call you. I…what are you here for?’

“What is your name?”


“I’m at the right place.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Yes, I am.

“No. I didn’t call anyone. This is still my house.”

“Your house?”

“Yes! Now I have to get back to work. Goodbye…” Jake tried to close the door but the man put his foot in the doorway.

“Hey! Now you are making me mad! Get out!”

“I’m here to fix what is broken.”

“What?! What is broken?”

“Are you sure you didn’t call me?”

“I would know if I called you, wouldn’t I?”

“I have the tools. Let me in.”

“I have my own tools. And, I have what it takes to fix things in my own house.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Hey you! You know what?! My manager Aram thinks I have what it takes. He pays me pretty good to make things happen.”

“You like to be rewarded for your efforts?”

“Yes, of course!”

“I am here to reward you for your efforts.”


“I can fix what is broken.”

“What?! What is broken?”

“Are you sure you didn’t call me?”

“I would know if I called you, wouldn’t I?”

“I have the tools. Let me in.”

“I have my own tools. And, I’ve been fixing things all my life.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Hey! We just went through all this before. You are wasting my time.”

“I did offer to help.”

“I don’t need help. I am my own man. I’m not just another senior citizen you can manipulate. I’ve been around the block.”

“Look, you bicker with me and you bicker with others. You’re good at bickering to “get yours” and at getting other people ‘theirs’. Tell me your name again.”

“Jake! I told you!”

“I’m at the right place.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Yes, I am.

The back and forth between Jake and the man went on for what seemed like hours. Neither Jake or the man gave in. Jake, at last, became exasperated.

“Listen. I didn’t call anyone. This is still my house. I’m in charge”

“Your house? What time is it?

“Time for you to leave! Get outta here!” Jake pushed the door against the man’s foot.

When the man saw that Jake was not going to let him in he grabbed an envelope from the tool carrier and handed it to Jake. Then he asked, “You are Jake Houseman? You purchased 763 Peniel?”


“Your new property…this is what the bank came back with. You purchased the foreclosure with cash but there is a property tax lien against it.

Jake opened it and saw the notice of notice of lien on his new property. His face wrenched.

“Hey, hold on!” Jake grabbed the man by the arm as he tried to leave. “We’ve got to work this out!”

The man said, “Let me go. I have to be on my way.”

“No way. You are staying until we get this business sorted out!”

“I will work it out. You have my word.” Jake loosened his grip and let go.

“Besides,” the man said, “you are no longer Jake Houseman. You are now Jake Newhouse.” The man winked and then turned and left.

“Hey, what’s your name?”

“I knew your father and your grandfather,” the man called back from across the yard.

The man walked past the neighbor’s house and was then out of sight.

Jake stood in the doorway. The rising sun cast his long shadow onto the floor of the empty house behind him. Jake stood there stunned and tired and hurting. After several minutes of looking at the lien and rubbing his forehead, Jake went back inside. He picked up his tools and cleaning supplies. He placed the extra set of house keys on the kitchen table, walked out the front door and then over to his car.

At the sidewalk, Jake, with his face still wrenched, turned to look back at the house.

“I bought someone else’s lemon. What a ball-breaker that guy is! But, I’ll live. Lesson learned. Goodbye house on Jabbok.”

And so Jake saw the sun rise on another year.






© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved


Chagall – Jacob Wrestling with God















Schoenberg: Die Jakobsleiter: Friede auf Erden, Op. 13. Orchestral version

I’ve Been Happy in 2016. Happy New Year 2017


You make me happy! ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

You make me happy!
©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

Let’s Face the New Year Together…

…the New Improved Year…

…as conceived in a recent skin care product mailer…


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Take That Glow Home…and… be Happy!

Happy New Year!

2014 End Notes, Part Two: “Well, I Will Remember. Must Scold, Must Nag, Mustn’t Be Too Pretty in the Mornings.”

I’m Getting Over Sentimental, And You?

As we head into the New Year let’s take a moment to not look back… 

Ah, yes.

Ah, yes.

 Sentimentality is that taskmaster which keeps us longing for the leeks and garlic of Egypt, the known-knowns of past life, up to and including slavery.

 Sentimentality is gate keeper to the past, fending off reality to preserve sugar-plum memories.

 Sentimentality serves as wooer, policy maker and candlestick maker, ergo, The Great Society (aka “Let’s help the little people and feel good about ourselves in the process”, affirmative action (see The Great Society for further social science mishaps), education (aka job-security for union workers), amnesty (aka imported votes for Progressive Democrats) and multiculturalism (aka “We promote “Diversity” here, just stay off my lawn and don’t get near my rights, you fools.”)

 Sentimentality, the emo that keeps on giving, will keep an angry woman ever angry; never forgiving. For her the past will be kept stewing, waiting for the next victim to be boiled alive.

 Sentimentality will fight fires by removing the oxygen from the room: “This is the way we have always done it.”

 Sentimentality is not tradition. It is more like unclaimed baggage that keeps going around on the airport turnstile day after day. You watch it to see if anyone claims it. If not it’s yours to drag around forever.

 Sentimentality chooses the moldy and crusty bread of the past over the fresh gluten free, sugar-free crackers of the present ala “This white bread reminds me of mom.”

 Sentimentality can be good wine turned into vinegar; old wineskins never replaced.

 Sentimentality is the troll who guards the bridge to the New Year. The troll demands a toll. (Just tell the little bugger, ”I paid years ago, be off with you or I’ll call my Father Time. He’ll kick your little troll butt!”)

 Sentimentality calls up past fears and dreams for advertised future benefits, benefits created at any cost to reality. See the Social Security trust fund. See the Barney Frank everyone-needs-a-house bubble machine that unleashed the Kraken upon world finances when the bubbles burst.

 Sentimentality wants to relive the civil rights and war protests of the sixties and invoke the depression era bindle-bums of the thirties. OWS Millennials ‘must’ ‘re-live’, record and recreate a diorama of those events from a BA degree in Identity Politics perspective. The grapes of wrath must be re-trampled. Social justice must be served with an order of the freshest iPhones.

 Sentimentality “keeps me hanging on” by a thread of delusion. “Marriage is secular, a right, a ‘love-in’.” Sentimentality says “I do” to whatever makes me feel… sentimental. And, sentimental makes me feel all gooey inside like…cable TV lovers.

 Sentimentality demands that Mother Earth be saved from manmade people while avoiding fact-see leftist Pope Francis for further encyclical faldera. Does the Pope realize that the Green Movement believes that overpopulation of the world is the problem? Does the Pope realize that he is actually promoting abortion, assisted-suicide and humanist population control?  (BTW: does the Pope even understand that capitalism fills the coffers of DisneyVatican?)  And, forget “Seasons in the Sun”. We may be facing an Inferno or an Ice Age depending on which way the inverted dated is put up on the overhead. ALGore Rhythm has predicted inverted hockey stick apocalyptic weather conditions to occur at any second now. And this, my friends, despite the fact that CO2 makes growing things…green! We are told by dogged Gaia loving-tenure-loving-paycheck-loving scientists that CO2 is not green ‘making’ ‘stuff’ when man is involved. Mankind only creates off-green “problems,” “problems” that are only resolvable with enormous sums of green taxpayer money. And, to increase our awareness of the right uses for CO2 the greenie bible Mother Earth News reportedly reports “green is god, dude, especially when rolled and smoked.” Anyway “It’s hard to die when all the birds are singing in the sky.”

 Sentimentality: a Disney movie replaying your childhood over and over. You know, the time you spent fantasizing about being princess as a young boy. Animated cels have always portrayed our deepest feelings, the best of our culture and the highest aspirations of our humanity-remember? Who needs reality when you have “Frost”?

 Sentimentality is that trampoline you keep in your back yard just in case you need to jump up and down endlessly to walk away from the back and forth of everyday life.

 Sentimentality gets an Enlightened Epicurean Scientism big bang out of a singular boson appearance but considers God’s silhouette passé.

 “A sentimentalist“, Oscar Wilde wrote, “is one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it”.

 Use “Sentimentality” in a sentence/s: “I prefer my sentimentality over tradition, dudes. Tradition is so predictable whereas ad hoc sentimentality ushers in a new age of Progress as well as a proto-social justice that protests everything that isn’t sentimental.”

 Sentimentality as cultural entrenchment, as socio-political-economic-education policy-see Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality (subtitle in US editions: How Britain is Ruined by Its Children) by Theodore Dalrymple. Who could resist this book with chapter titles like these: Chapter Three: “The Family Impact Statement”, Chapter Four: “The Demand for Public Emotion”, Chapter Five: “The Cult of the Victim”, Chapter Six: “Make Poverty History!”

 Sentimentality-I could go on but, at this point, if I look back, I just might become sentimental. I won’t look back. Yes, there were good times but I keep those memories like a locket around my neck. And, don’t worry. Good memories have a way of making themselves known and sustaining you at the right time-that is if you create them first. (The Israelites used to create stone monuments as a place of remembrance where Jehovah had intervened. They did not carry the monument around with them. The thought that God is Infinite-Personal became a fixed place in their memory.)

 Taking sentimentality as a daily palliative pill will regurgitate acid reflux. Worse, making sentimentality your GroupThink Emo-a demand to relive all hurts whether real, perceived, projected or revived-leads to unresolved GroupThinkAnger and to “Stokely Carmichael’s idea that “before a group can enter open society, it must close ranks.”” And to the “Day of Rage” (’69, Cornell U) and to Black Panthers with billy clubs at polling places, to the NAACP, to the SPLC’s perverted “Hate-Watch”, to Al Sharpton, Eric Holder and their ilk.

 Looking back, as one who was told not to look back, did not work out well for Lot’s wife. She may have very well thought that God was like her-sentimental about what someone holds dear, in this case her life in Sodom. She may have very well thought that God would not destroy a place she called home. She got it wrong.

 A pillar of salt goes nowhere in life. 

A pillar of the community!

A pillar of the community!


Who needs the shallowness of sentimentality when you can have full-bodied hope! And, I’m not talking about “Hope” as found in the “Hope and Change” campaign come-on that was used to lull Millennial lemmings to follow Obama over the cliffs of insanity.

 I am talking real hope. And, real hope includes distancing yourself from sentimentality and going forward with God into sublime reality, as the Apostle Paul described here in his letter to the Church at Rome (Chapter 4-5): 

“…since we believe in the one who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was handed over because of our trespasses and raised because of our justification.

 The result is this: since we have been declared “in the right” on the basis of faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus the Messiah. Through him we have been allowed to approach, by faith, into this grace in which we stand; and we celebrate the hope of the glory of God.

That’s not all. We also celebrate in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces patience, patience produces a well-formed character, and a character like that produces hope.

Hope, in its turn, does not make us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the holy spirit who has been given to us.” (emphasis mine)





The picture of Lot’s Wife –courtesy of MudPreacher.

Enter In His Gates

The other day I walked as usual during my lunch hour. Working in a downtown Chicago office affords many interesting paths for my walking and praying. That day I chose Millenium Park, thankful for some open space and towering blue sky.

 Walking and praying are complimentary actions for me. They are complimentary in that praying to advance the Kingdom of God is coupled to my physical action of going forward, of not being static or complacent. Walking increases my heart rate, my breathing also becomes faster and deeper.  As I walk every breath then becomes a prayer uttered out of the rhythm of my heart, mind, body and soul. Beyond this, walking and praying are often the only actions I can take when I am told to wait on the Lord.

 That day, walking and praying, I lifted up the needs of others and my own very pressing needs. As I did so I clearly heard these words from the Holy Spirit:

 “Enter in His gates with Thanksgiving

And into His courts with praise.”

 In that moment I understood that God was acknowledging my intercessions and supplications. I felt a child-like pleasure in His notice of me. God was calling me into his presence.

 In a sermon by C.S. Lewis written down in a book by the same name, The Weight of Glory, this moment was captured for me:

 “For glory means a good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.

Perhaps it seems rather crude to describe glory as the fact of being “noticed” by God. But this is almost the language of the New Testament.  St. Paul promises to those who love God not, as we should expect, that they will know Him, but that they will be known by Him. (1 Cor. 8:3).”

 That day, not only was God acknowledging my words but His invitation to “Enter in His courts…” revealed that He wanted the object of His love, me, to be in His presence. My giving God praise and thanksgiving would realign my objectivity so that one day I would be in position to know the pleasure of the inferior in His words to me: “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

 “Apparently”, as C.S. Lewis also wrote in Weight, “what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures-nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator.”

 Lewis, again in the same book, also wrote that “Glory, as Christianity teaches me to hope for it, turns out to satisfy my original desire (the specific desire of the inferior) and indeed to reveal an element in that desire which I had not noticed. By ceasing for a moment to consider my own wants I have begun to learn better what I really wanted.”

 A New Year is upon us. I will cross the threshold of this New Year and “Enter in His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” I do so as an adopted child anxious to drink joy from the fountains of joy.