Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ok, so you wanna hear about the conference?

Just like I'd told you, I left my house and headed straight for Starbucks. With my Non-fat Black tea latte (with vanilla sweetener) in one hand and my pumpkin scone in the other, I skipped back to my mini-van. The drive was pure heaven. I cranked up my Chris Tomlin CD and praised God for the hundreds of blessings in my life.

My next stop was to visit my little brother at his work. My little brother is thirty years old. He is a public defender. My mom must have dropped him on his head. How else could he have made that career choice? I told him that if I ever sat in his courtroom I wouldn't sit anywhere near him. I would sit on the victims side!

I greeted my brother outside of the court room. He was busy speaking with families and clients. I walked up to him in front of these people and pretended to be one of his clients, "Is my case going to be heard today?" I asked. My brother played right along, "Yes, I believe it is. Could I have a word with you?" ushering me aside so we could talk brother to sister. I kept the joke going and loudly said, "Did you read my whole case? The officers who arrested me wouldn't listen. There is no video tape of me taking anything...."

After three hours sitting and watching criminal court, my heart just about broke. You have to understand, I have had a one-sided view of criminals. I work for a police department for pete sake. I hear the first few moments of the most critical experiences for many people. It is so easy for me to paint an ugly picture of all suspects of a crime.

While in the courtroom I witnessed grandmothers silently praying, mothers and fathers - faces marked with pain as they watched their young sons and daughters handcuffed and shackled in their prison attire, escorted into the court room for their one last hope of grace.

Yes, I still believe that if you do the crime, you do the time. Except now the true suspect in need of a life sentence came into focus. In every case presented that morning, the true perpetrator was sin. I could almost hear the enemy of our souls hateful laughter echo in the courtroom as he used his razor sharp sword to pierce the hearts of the families there and slash at the lives of the prison bound. His heinous tool of choice for the carnage at hand was drugs.

The very last young man escorted in walked clumsily to the defense table. His faded grey and white striped prison uniform hung on his frail body. With his head stooped and shoulders slumped, he hung his head in shame - never once looking back at his family who had gathered there. Something written on his shirt caught my eye. "God is in me." in cursive lettering was penned accross his back.

Tears welled as I prayed the enemy would not win the battle of this man's soul. Not today, not ever.

"Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." Hebrews 13:3

...oh wait, I told you that I was going to talk about the writer's conference didn't I? Be patient, that story is coming. It's a good one too!


AlaneM said...

Kudos to your brother for doing such a hard job. It's easy to identify with the victim but the perp is a person too, who is loved by the Lord just as He loves us.

LisaShaw said...

Dearest Joanne, this is so powerful. I not only hung on every word but I was laughing in the joyment of your relationship with your brother. I have a brother that I'm like that with. Sadly my baby brother is deceased (died at 23 in 1994) and my older brother does not affiliate with the family. He is muslim but I'm prayng for his heart/eyes to be opened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Then...reading about the court room -- I can understand what you were saying. My heart broke and I cried for that young man and I will pray for him.

Thank you for sharing this. I look forward for the next part of your travels...

Thank you so much for the sweetest words you left on one of my blogs. I'm grateful the Lord has connected our hearts and brought our paths together in Him.

Love you.

Mari said...

I'm glad you shared this. I have a one sided view of criminals too, and I can see that watching a case would be eye opening.

Beth in NC said...

Oh girl, I could never be in that business. I am thankful for judges, defender, and the like, but I am too merciful. I'm sure that hurt you to see all of that pain.

And yes, you teased us about the conference. How rude. :o)

One More Equals Four said...

Just stumbled upon your blog today, and I am so glad I did! It is so easy to become consumed with our little world, but I am learning lately that my world is so small and there is so much more out there. Sometimes it is hard to see past the immediate circumstances, but often if we can there is so much more to the story! Thanks for sharing! I'll come visit again, if I can find you (I have four kids too, and I usually do not even know which end is up!)☺

Jaclyn said...

Yay for Starbucks! It should be the first stop before any road trip...starts it off on the right foot.
It's pretty sad what sin can do to to you. Because of an old job, I've been around a few court rooms and they can be pretty depressing. It's so sad to see people that choose to live their life that way.

Jennifer said...

This was excellent. So often we see the person as bad when really it is Satan controlling the person. We need to see everyone as created in God's imagine and hate the influence Satan is having on their lives.
Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

Kari said...

Wow. That was a great post. I used to be a court reporter, sitting in the courtroom hearing all of these cases. It is quite easy for one to become jaded. I certainly did. The minute a defendant would walk in the courtroom, in my mind I would shake my finger at him in shame. I'm certainly not proud of that.

Now I have a dear family member in prison, so I have a completely different perspective.

Thank you for the Hebrews 13 verse; it's not one I ever remember reading.

Looking forward to reading about the writer's conference!

Kari :)

Sith Esq. said...

I'm not 30, I'm 29!


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