Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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Being a Big Brother in spite of disappointment

November 7, 2011

What follows is a paper Jonathan wrote for his class. Linda and I thought it was cute. I figured if he ever said he didn’t like Jillian because she was annoying him… We could present an online account of how he really feels about his little sister. Enjoy.

“Jillian and my best day Ever!”

By: Jonathan Ekong

I woke up and I heard the tv on and yelled, “Hannah turn it off!” The tv kept on going so I jumped down and out of my bed and went into the living room to see if it was Hannah.

It was not her.  It was my Grandma. “Grandma” I muttered.  “Hey Jonathan” she said.  I asked, “Is mommy in the hospital?” She said, “Yes she is, and she had the baby.”  “Is it a boy or a girl?” I screamed.  My sisters woke up because I screamed so loudly.  My grandma said, “Hey my grand daughters.” “Hi grandma!” responded Hannah, Hailey, and Jocelyn.  Then my grandma said, “I can’t tell you if it is a boy or a girl.”  “Fine I won’t go to the hospital!”, and I stomped hard back into my room and slammed the door hard and locked it so no one could get in.

Then I came out and ate a little breakfast. I was eating breakfast and I was almost finished when my dad opened the door and gave us the keys to the blue van because my grandma’s car is to small for all of us to fit in.  Then my dad hopped into my grandma’s car as I was watching him pull out of the drive way slowly and driving away.

I asked my grandma, “When are we leaving to go to the hospital?” “Right now,” she said. We were in the van going to the hospital.  We were driving right through the rain.  When we go to the hospital we ran inside to the elevator.  “Wee,” all the kids said.  We got to the top floor where my mom was.  We went in and gave my mom a huge hug.  My mom said, “It’s a girl Jonathan, sorry buddy.” I was starting to cry and while I was crying I was thinking this was my last chance to have a brother.

No more kids.  I then took a look at Jillian and it didn’t matter any more.  She was so cute.  I was used to taking care of sisters.  I have three already so I can handle a fourth.  I asked, “Can I hold the baby first please?” “Sure,” my mom said.  Then we took a few pictures and then Hannah, Hailey, Jocelyn and I said, “Bye.” “Bye” our mom said.  Then we left.

The End

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Father’s Day

June 19, 2009

Normally, this would be section where someone would rave about them being a wonderful father.  Well, if that is what you’re looking for might as well close this browser now.

It isn’t everyday I get to share the admiration I have for my fathers.  Notice the plural there.  Father’s Day is so focused on the human aspect of giving thanks for the fathers that do what they’re supposed to do.  Very rarely, do we reflect on God, Our Father and say a special thanks for his infinite love he has for us.  So, this blog will be split into two to recognize my father and God, Our Father.

God, Our Father

He who loved me first before I was ever a twinkle in my parents eyes. He loved us so much to do send his only begotten Son to die for forgiveness of our sins.  The same Father who has been there since the beginning of time and patiently stayed by our sides during all of our mistypes.  The Father whom when I need encouragement, I turn to His Word for guidance. The Father that has blessed me with wonderful family, friends, fellow Christians, unbelievers, enemies, co-workers, etc to stimulate my growth as a man.  The same Father of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and Paul.  The same Father who protected his people wandering for 40 years regardless of their missteps.

A Father’s whose credits can’t be put on paper because they still continue at this very moment.  The Father who was, is, and is to come.  As I know the Father isn’t depended on my existence, but I am dependent entirely on his existence. Hear my prayer, Father, that we not forget all you’ve done for us without so much of a petition.  We thank you Father for all you did, do, and continue to do until the end times. If you’re reading this you only know of some of the blessings you have reaped. I assure you, those don’t even scratch the surface of what he has done for us.

My attempt is not to dummy down God’s work, but to provide yet another view of how he has affected our lives.

My Dad

Many call him Pastor or Mister Ekong, but I will always know him as daddy.  Our relationship early can best be described as misunderstood, but always mutually respected. The son of a Chief who later became a founding father of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria.  He always had large shoes to follow in and as such he worried if his life would be his own and not that of what others assumed and directed. The shadow of his father still follows him today.  The example his father set was improved on by him and passed down to me.  I always was taught about respect and carrying myself the correct way.  Learning that as his son I was a direct reflection on his leadership and abilities of a father. My father is a quiet man who leads by example.  Husband to one wife and father to two children. 

Teachings as a child that have stuck with me throughout my life.  Keep your eyes opening and listen before speaking.  Be observant of your surroundings and the people you associate.  Lessons he taught me without specific instruction was caring about others feelings and positions in life.  Never to forsake anyone and to always put my best foot forward are examples of timeless lessons. We had a rough time during my teenage years for obvious reasons.  Boy trying to grow into a man long before it was his time.  Even when I disappointed him, he stayed firmly by my side guiding me with the Words of God.

He has always been a man of God, but for a time there we knew he was meant to be a pastor. It was true lesson watching his transformation into what God has always meant for him.  Boy, did God give him some serious clues that this was his path.  See, this is important because as I got older I saw the same signs and direction from God and I was able to recognize it when it was my time to take the steps to follow suit.

Our relationship since I left college has only grown and reached a level neither of us would have ever thought.  We turn to each other to discuss church issues, The Great Commission, life, family, the ministry, etc…

My father called me the week before graduation upset about the scheduling of after graduation activities. I had been so selfish, that I had missed just how proud he was of me for that accomplishment and the steps I would be taking later this summer.  His words literally brought me to tears.  We aren’t men of many words… okay that’s a lie. We often say a lot, but what we say means a great deal.

It is only now at 33 years that I realize at my core I am my father’s son.  I’m proud to say I’m his son and I strive to improve on the example he has set for me and pass that example on to my children.

QUOTE:

“Father only means that you are taking care of your children.  That’s what it means to be a father. It doesn’t mean having babies. Anybody can make a baby, but a father helps to raise his children. There is another word for fatherhood. It’s called RESPONSIBILITY!”  -Malcolm X

When people ask who is your hero?  I don’t say a superstar, artist, actor, etc… It is my God Our Father and my parents. 

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Graduation Party

May 11, 2009

Finally arrived at the house and tons of folks are there.  People from the Michigan District Office.  People from Christ the Good Shepherd, LCMS.  Family and Friends rounded out the rest of the participants of the party.  Then there was a special guest, Instructor Suzanne Mahler and her husband Jay.  She and I conversed numerous times as she was my first instructor upon entering the ADP program at CUAA.  She is very delightful woman and I razed about her to family.  Actually during my first class Linda was due with Jocelyn so the whole class got to meet her in our last meeting. Whenever, I had class and knew she was teaching I would seek her out to say high and catch up.

She is simply the most amazing teacher in the world.  I loved her classes so much I actually took two classes my last semester of electives.  I had already completed my requirements and her classes were above the bar bonus.  I would recommend her to anyone at Concordia.  She’ll keep you the entire class length and you won’t even care.  Along with Waterman’s classes, the things learned in Mahler’s classes with stick with you for a lifetime.  Everyone adored Jay and Suzanne.  I was so excited she came.  She even mentioned no one at Concordia had every invited her to a open house. Shame on them.  I wish I could have had more instructors to show my gratitude, but I’m sure the others had invitations.

Everyone had fun at the open house Linda did a wonderful job planning it.  We got pictures with everyone and the kids behaved as well. Perfect angels that day, they had everyone thinking they ran around with Halo’s over there head.  Some of the things I remember was the CTGS folks having what looked like a Leadership meeting outside, Joel and my Dad on the porch talking theology, and John being a great wine host. Nate Bishop stopping by in a mini-van with his two kids and one on the way.  So much fun.  Especially, when everyone enjoys everyone else’s company.

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Graduation – part 3

May 11, 2009

Well, now it is time to walk across that stage.  Seriously, is this going to be some life changing moment?  At least that is what I’m asking myself as we are starting to line up.  Jerry is first to go across the stage. Man, I’m so happy and proud of him.  Jerry and I have become quick friends during my second tour. We played pickup basketball back in 95/96 at St. Paul’s Elementary on Earhardt with Tony Love in the “Love Dome”.  Alex Bradley was next, she reminds me so much of Linda when we first met.  You always know where you stand with her and you just don’t get that with people today.  It was especially great because she’s getting married and I finally got to see Andy (even from a distance) outside of facebook pictures.  They’re doing it right way for marriage. Whole nine yards with revisiting Lutheran teaching while going through marriage counseling. “Know what you believe and why you believe it” is what I always say.  Alex and I talked a lot when it came to classes and gave each other advice on life as well. Senior Project was fun, I really think Alex amazed herself on the great job she did on her Senior Project. Yes, I actually read it twice.

Now, it is time for me to walk across that stage.  My Concordia career flashes before my eyes and I’m almost in tears. Is it really over now? How do I feel about this? I’ll deal with that later there is work to do. I hand my card to Prof Brandon (ahh the times of CSd and Library from back in the day) or was it Prof Kalmes (Institutions).  Either way I remember being complemented on my African stole that showed my heritage, but also God is my center with the Cross on it.  I’m on stage now, and person who reads off the names announces me as “Ini-obong Ekong”.  What about the first name you may ask, I only know you as Eric. Well, lets back track.

Probably in Graduation – part 2 I mentioned I phonetically spelled out my name.  I concentrated on my middle name and last name. As I know exactly important it is during events/ceremonies like this that the name be said properly.  Well, I saw no point in phonetically spelling “Eric”.   Figured that could be said without any assistance from me.  Back to our regularly schedule blog. 🙂

So, he announces “Ini-obong Ekong” and I take a step and stop. Waiting for him to correct himself, but I realize he has put the card away already. So, I continue on across the stage thinking to myself, my mother is going to kill him.  Then I thought he nailed my middle name and last name. Something most people can’t do no matter how many times they are corrected.  I shake hands with the Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Ahlersmeyer and we share a chuckle about my first name being left out.  I walk down the stage and their is my family for pictures to see their accomplished husband, son, and brother.  They look so proud.  They never doubted I would accomplish this goal, but they sure waited a long time.

I should explain why the family was so proud of me. Starting in May 2007, I took a full load of classes carrying anywhere between 14-16 credits each semester.  All the while being very involved with church, coaching the 07-08 school year, working full time for Verizon Business, and managing to be a stay at home dad and hopefully a wonderful husband. I’ll leave that up to Linda to verify.  I had to step away from some friends to get things accomplished and I had to manage my time like never before.  Hey, it paid off.  Deans List the last three semesters in two different colleges including a perfect 4.0

If it seems like I’m boasting, please believe it isn’t. I’m as just amazed as everyone else. Either I am as smart as my parents said I was or I’ve gotten to the point where I understand what is needed out of every class. I’ve question this of myself numerous times and it is only by fellow classmates assessments that I’m a better student now. Probably, had to do with my footing the bill this time around.

As I’m walking back to my seat I see all my friends who drove in for the event from all over the country.  Ime from Florida, the Edens from Missouri, the Helds and Kluehs from Indiana, Jessica from Minnesota, and Grandma/Parents from Ohio.  The Eden’s tried to surprise me, but technology tipped me off via a facebook notification.  Nevertheless, I appreciate all of them traveling to see me take this next step. 

Anyway, things were pretty much a blur from that point on until I watched Rebecca and Ben Ahlersmeyer go up for their walks across the stage.  Just warmed my heart to watch Dr. T full of pride and joy as he shook his children’s hands as they received their bachelor’s degrees.

Time to walk out.  Who is waiting me at the backdoor? My big brother for some more dap. Time to exhale because this is just a step on the long journey. We, took some family photos.  On the walk back with Linda and Jocelyn we walked with Emeritus Allen who remembered me and wished me well on my journey.  Even managed to ask how the District would get along with her not around.  From there we ran into Prof. Klintworth, my very first instructor at Concordia.  She took a minute to realize who she was talking to and then remembered me from all those years before.   She as well congratulated me accomplishing the degree mentioned she knew I would do it once I set my mind to it. Finally, we ran into David and Jenna Szpara they are one of those unique couples that give Christian hopes of changing this post-modern world. Sneaky little devil got me strawberry starburst. There is an inside joke of me grabbing a handful when I would drop the kids off to Linda on my way to campus for class. Then it was off to Ponderosa in Plymouth, MI for a quick bite. Had to have my Ponderosa wings.  Auntie Cookie showed up there and we ate. We were running late due to traffic and timing of the ceremony, but the open house has already started.

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Graduation – part 2

May 11, 2009

So, we get to campus within 20 minutes or so. Let’s just say I was pushing the limits of Michigan suggested speeds.  Almost ran off without kissing my wife. (Sorry, Linda – I Love You more than you will ever know)  Run into the Kreft center to make sure I’m all set. Write out my full name phonetically (more on that later). I’m looking around I don’t see anyone I know. I don’t see any ADP students so now I’m starting to freak out. Am I in the wrong place. Hold it together Eric because no matter what you are walking across that stage.  I did manage to bump into Rev. Shuta and have a short conversation with him.  Jeez, I don’t think the CUAA profs forget anyone.  Then I ran into English District President Stechholz and his wife, Janet (she sings in the Choir at my church, CTGS). Just as I’m walking outside I check my phone and it’s Alex Bradley asking where I was at.  I’m waiting on you jokers silly.  She comes by does her name thing and helps me put my cap on.  For those you that don’t know I’ve been sporting Brother Locks the past couple of years. Needless to say there was a slight worry that the cap wouldn’t sit on my head.  Alex took care of that. She always helped re-apply the cap during the service. Kudos Alex.

We walked back outside and then we started running into instructors from my past and ones from the ADP program.  First was Pies who seemed surprised we were there, but that is Pies.  I personally think he does it on purpose to mess with people.  Then Prof Waterman came by, styling as usually. Really going to miss her.  Only two classes with her towards the end which will help me so much in the future. I can’t say enough about her whole demeanor. Then there was a number of people like Joel Iverson and Emeritus Ron Allen who stopped by.  I wonder if we will wind up on some Concordia publication (hint Joel)?  During this time Jerry Nowak showed up.  I remember Jerry from my first tour of Concordia. So, they instructed three of us to lead the ADP students in as we had to start the new row following the Masters Degree candidates.  Go figure Jerry, Alex, and I were the three to do it.  I think I have had more classes with those two than I did with anyone else in the program.  It’s getting windy and it looks like it may rain. I’m sure Linda is freaking out now, since the party she was hoping to have some folks outside.

It’s time to walk in.  When you’re at this point what do you do?  I mean obviously you walk tall and with pride, but is there anything else.  Oh well, as I’m walking in next to Jerry I see my mother, sister, and beautiful wife.  As we are passing by the bleachers there is my big brother to give me some dap.  We take our seats and the service begins.  I won’t bore you with all the stuff in the service.  I will tell you this the speakers were great and actually had something worthwhile to say.  Every graduation I’ve been to in recent memory the person has been babbling about nothing for 30-45 minutes.  These speakers were living examples on Christian living and putting it all in God’s hands.  Very fitting for all the students getting ready to hit the real world.

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Graduation – part 1

May 11, 2009

Seems like it was just yesterday I was leaving with family to be dropped off at Concordia’s campus in Ann Arbor to embark on a new journey. Most people enroll in college for a 4-year program.  I, however enrolled in 4 year program with a 14 year sabbatical in the middle.  What’s weird is I never strayed more than 30 minutes from campus.  Seems God had plans for me and they entailed me not leaving the stay of Michigan until my degree was completed.  If you’ve read any of my other blogs you know what happen in between and what lead me back to finishing my schooling.  So, I won’t bore anyone with that story.  That is a different topic all together.

I didn’t sleep at all the night before graduation, talk about the nervous energy.  Countless countdown number posted on facebook to pass the time and endless Sports Center re-runs.  I should have just sat down and blog to my hearts content about all the thoughts and emotions that were going through my head.  Oh well, around 5am I laid down for about 40 minutes and just said screw it. No sleeping now, got to be up so I can be clean and presentable for graduation.

Got up and walked outside (it was windy and chilly) with my Treasury of Daily Prayer for my morning devotion.  Upon finishing my devotion I used that time to review all the experiences I had during my education at CUAA.  Let’s just say this had been an ongoing thing from my last class until my walking across the stage. Oh the memories, disappointments, joys, friends, enemies, trials, and tribulations I had endured during my time.  I went to the shower and got dressed as with all my nervousness I had ironed my clothes the night before. All I had to do was eat and get the wrinkles out of the darn graduation robe.  I had tried twice the night before with the iron and dryer. Evil thing won the battle, but I would have the last laugh.

I was literally ready to go at 7am. Actually, if I could have shown up at that very moment to get it over with, I definitely would’ve.  Needless to say, Linda, Jocelyn and I drove down to the hotel to pickup Jerrilynn (bless her heart, they drove all night with a sick daughter arriving at the hotel @ 4am) to head to Ann Arbor.  Probably, the longest drive of my life.  Not because of the company, but because I was past ready to walk across that stage.

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Who knew?

May 7, 2009
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Graduation is a day away now.  It has been a long journey to get to this point.  Academically, it has been a busy two years going through the ADP program.  Some of the early semesters I even doubled up and took classes over at Schoolcraft to make sure I would get done on time.  Who knew all the late nights and hard work could pale in comparison to the stress family can cause just before graduation.

Instead of going in depth on everything. I will just say folks need to remember graduation is truly about the person who completed the work.  Those who supported and our proud of the person should do that without forcing their own wills and making it about them. Enough said.

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