Untotaled: Sitting 62 (October 19th, 1970) Abort the Mission… April 11, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Ohio was just the way we left it less than a month before.

We were married. Yet folks seemed more concerned about the “whys” than the “wherefores.” They believed we were too young to be Mr. and Mrs. Some of my friends were jokingly betting on how long it would last.

One thing was for sure, we were too chicken to tell anyone about the baby. If they were upset about us being together, what would they think if they knew we had “conceived in sin?”

My wife, Dollie, was beginning to show, but some fashionable, hippie, loose-fitting hemp blouses–popular at the time–helped disguise the bump, so nobody could be sure.

But we were facing a deadline.

There was only one state in the Union that allowed for abortion. It was New York. And that was contingent on the abortion being performed before the conception had gone to six months. We were right on the cusp.

So one day–for all the day–we talked to each other privately and incessantly about how it might be better going forward if there were no baby.

In many ways we had come together because of a pregnancy which we now were trying to terminate so as to be respectable again. I don’t know who was in favor of what–I think both of us just wanted to stop being considered the weirdos, and become the favored son and daughter again.

Before we left Kentucky, a lady gave us a little bit of money, so we hopped into our beat-up Chevy and drove to Buffalo, New York, to get rid of our kid.

It was a long drive. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I’m sure it wasn’t all grim and ugly. We were convinced of the beauty and intelligence of our mission.

We got an appointment at a clinic, and in no time at all, found ourselves sitting in front of a female doctor in her early 40’s, with a heavy German accent.

She was kind. She knew we were scared.

She listened to our story, which was chock-full of some lies, and after we got done pouring out our hearts, she said, in broken English, “I will abort your baby. If that is what you want, that is what I will do. But your wife must be tired from the journey, so why don’t you take today, go off and be together, and come in tomorrow, and we will do the procedure?”

Then she said something strange. She said, “May I suggest that you go see Niagara Falls? It’s only about 25 miles away.”

We agreed. It sounded like fun. Fun was something we did well.

So we drove up to the Falls and found ourselves standing and staring at one of the most magnificent natural phenomenon on this planet.

It was so big. It was so powerful.

We both started to cry.

I don’t know why we cried, but I know that without saying a word to each other or confirming our decision, we got back into our car, and instead of driving to Buffalo, to the clinic, we drove back to Ohio.

I guess we thought that if God can take mere water and turn it into Niagara Falls, He certainly is able to take our mess and change it into a blessing.

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Untotaled: Stepping 58 (Later That Same Night) Did I say no? What I meant was … March 14, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2531)

(Transcript)

So…

I invited my startled, shocked, surprised, nervous, worried, shattered, partially giddy and apprehensive girlfriend over to my motel room that night to share a pizza and discuss our dilemma.

Of course, being teenagers, the first thing we did in a motel room was ravage one another, unleashing the frustration of a five-week absence.

After the brief and awkward romantic encounter was over and the pizza was delivered, we sat and munched on Italian delight, discussing our Middle-American quandary.

Her situation was simple. Obviously, if she had wanted to return to a relationship and marriage, she would probably have found a way to fly back to Ohio to be with me.

She had naturally been wooed from such a committment by the fact that her parents had moved to a bungalow next to the ocean in Guaymas Sonora, Mexico, thirty paces from walking on the beach, and they had thoroughly excited her about being a freshman at the University of Arizona.

Somewhere in the midst of her enthusiasm, she had left two realities out of her thinking: the baby that continued to grow within her loins, and me, who had been the visitor to the same.

Even though the conversation I had with this girlfriend was very tender, fruitful and never escalated to anger, by the end of the evening she candidly shared that she would not return with me. There was just too much to leave behind.

I placed her in a taxi (which she had to pay for) and she was off and away.

As far as I knew, that was the end of it.

I didn’t sleep much that night. Mine was not merely the turmoil of a forsaken lover, but also the annoying prospect of trying to figure out how I was going to get a fifty dollar ticket to return to Columbus, Ohio, and what I was going to do when I arrived, since I had missed the opportunity to sign up for college in the fall.

It was the shortest night of my life because my brain moved at hyper-speed, and before I knew, it was six o’clock in the morning, and I was in desperate need for a plan to get from my motel room, to the airport, and back to my normal surroundings.

Yet I decided to call her one last time.

  • Was it to say good-bye?
  • Was it to ask her if she might reconsider?

Well, I got very little out of my mouth during the phone conversation before she explained that her new girlfriends at the dormitory had been talking to her all night about her decision. One of the young ladies had developed a tremendous dislike for my girlfriend’s father because of how rude he was when he called the dorm, looking for his errant daughter.

These young ladies thought she was a fool for walking away from love to merely study such encounters in books at the university.

So my girlfriend changed her mind.

She said she had packed her bag, would hop a taxi, and be there in less than an hour. She actually arrived. I was a little surprised, considering her history of missing appointments.

When she arrived, she showed me a checkbook her father had given her for college, with a balance of $750.

My dear God, I had never seen $750. We were starting off our journey wealthy.

With that money we were able to purchase our standby tickets and enjoy a swordfish dinner at a fancy restaurant during our Chicago lay-over. We landed in Columbus feeling like Romeo and Juliet, without being dead.

We were certainly not ready for what happened next…

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Untotaled: Stepping 56 (August 26th, 1970) Weighting… February 28, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

I was two minutes late.

For some reason I had scheduled an appointment with the preacher’s wife to talk about my dilemma. The plans I had made with my girlfriend–for her to fly in on her birthday, August 25th–apparently went awry. Well, at least, there was no girlfriend.

I was freaked out.

I had actually been freaked out for the whole five weeks while I was waiting for her to escape. I was so upset that my older brother, who was normally fairly unaware of my living condition, or even breathing, decided to step in and offer his gold Malibu for me to use to go on a date. He had souped it up (with as much as he knew about soup).

I had no desire to be with a girl but I did want to drive the car.

There was a young lady in Centerburg, Ohio, who kept bugging me to go on a date, so I thought there would be no harm in doing so.

It was a disaster.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my girlfriend, and she kept promoting herself like a car salesman at the end of the month trying to make quota.

So when the 25th came and went, I was desperate to talk to someone, and Larissa (as she insisted we call her), the pastor’s wife, was available.

I explained to her about our plan, as much as I was able to be forthcoming. I could not tell her about the pregnancy–that would have created so many problems that I would never have been able to get out of her office.

At the end of my sharing, she moved out from behind her desk, sat next to me on the couch and patted my hand. She said the following:

“Sometimes, Jonathan, we have to understand that not everybody knows our true value, and even though it hurts a whole lot, we have to let them go because they’re just not the right one. The one God has chosen for us.”

Well, folks, I was only eighteen years old, but I was pretty sure that God wasn’t choosing my female preferences, and if He was, I wasn’t particularly interested in His input.

I was courtly and mannerly to Larissa, but I walked out of the meeting more frustrated and confused than ever before.

There was only one thing left to do.

I made a secret phone call to the University of Arizona to find out when freshman Rush Week was, and discovered that it began on September 4th.

I also found out that a student standby airline ticket was $50 one way. I convinced my mother to give me $60. That gave me money for a one-way ticket to Tucson, Arizona, five dollars to eat, and five dollars for a motel room.

It was the most ridiculous plan ever devised by man.

But I was in all the way.

Next stop … Tucson.

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Mangerial … December 16, 2011

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Live from Palm Coast, Florida, in A Spirited Christmas

 
I was nearly twelve years old the first time I actually heard and grasped the entire Christmas story. I had been to church before but because of my youthfulness, the absence of having ears to hear and possibly the infrequency of the tale being relayed, I somehow missed the entire impact.
 
I remember when I heard it with my “first ears,” I was astounded by the notion that the heavens could light up with stars, kings could come from the east, angels could dance across the sky and a baby could be born in a barn without the whole world exploding with anticipation.  How could the community the next morning go about business as usual? It was beyond my twelve-year-old mind that something so magnificent and visible could occur without recognition.
 
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many of us are under the false impression that if something is grand enough, glorious enough, or even talented enough, then it will receive appropriate status. Now that I have aged and realize the ways of the world, I know that nothing could be further from the truth.
 
God put together the perfect scenario to make sure that the birth of his son went without acclaim amongst the people. Look at it:
 
Two thousand years ago, who cared about a pregnant teenage girl in a small town? Are you trying to tell me there would be any notice for that today? The attitude would be, “She’s poor and ignorant, so her premature entrance to motherhood is somewhat predictable.” Mary, mother of God, didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
 
 Equally so, her partner and husband, Joseph, was just a common everyday laborer in a little community. Who cares about such folks? Governments debate taxes, wealth and affluence. Some fellow working with wood or trying to build a wall wouldn’t garner much attention. 
 
Same thing is true of the star. To see the stars, you have to leave your house at night and stare into the heavens. Most people are too tired to do that. Most people don’t have time to look up because they’re too busy gazing at the ground.
 
And of course, nobody would care what a few shepherds thought about seeing a vision of an angel. They would be considered drunk, blowhards, or just trying to make their lives more interesting.  Shepherds weren’t exactly at the top of the social ranking.
 
Meanwhile, some foreigners coming into town, who were “wicked astrologers” according to the Jewish law, would certainly not have been taken seriously either. After all, the way they viewed the heavens was unacceptable and therefore rejected.
 
Who cares about kids? Once you see a baby and tell the mother it’s beautiful, what’s next? What can a kid do to take away the burden of Roman law? The two most disrespected units in our society are people under the age of ten and over the age of eighty. Who cares about a new-born king?
 
Especially one surrounded by animals in a barn. Talk about disrespect! What creatures get more disrespect than donkeys, sheep and goats? How much of a king could you be if you’re surrounded by livestock?
 
God pulled off the perfect plan. He beamed his son down to earth and shared that information with the most obsolete individuals in the culture of the day–and because it was proclaimed to the forgotten, those who forget never even knew.
 
I decided many years ago that ministry is ALWAYS what is done and never seen–because those who need the ministry the most have no way of either producing remuneration or offering us any notoriety. Pregnant teenagers don’t even make a blip on the screen of politicians. Working men from Nazareth don’t get mentioned in political debates. Weird astrologers from the east are just that — weird. Shepherds are dismissed as eccentric. Children are to be seen and not heard. And animals…well, after all, they’re just animals.
 
I’m slowing up over the next few days, to pay attention to the forgotten of our society–because if Jesus is going to be re-birthed in our hearts, it will not be done on Christian television, CNN, FOX News or some Barbara Walters special. We will find him in the pregnant teens, the working men, the bizarre star-gazers, the flighty shepherds and amongst the creatures of the earth. That’s where he’ll be.
 
So here’s to the first birth–and to my quest to find Jesus in this Christmas season. Just find the forgotten and you will rediscover the manger.
 
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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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