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Blessed in the neighborhood

Ten years ago we moved into our new home and meet our new neighbor. Juan was a mouthy teen who had a reputation in the neighborhood. My son met him before the rest of the family. They had been talking in the front yard for awhile before they headed in the house. Dustin whispered to me as he passed by to just go with it. He introduced me to Juan and we began talking. I had no idea what was about to happen but soon learned that he had told Juan I was ex-CIA. Juan said how cool it was to know someone in the CIA and asked what it was like. I explained it was strange being known by a number. He asked what was my number and I told him I couldn’t tell him. He was very curious and asked many questions that I followed with answers that I spoke in a firm CIA like voice. For many years, he believed I was CIA.

My daughter and niece got in on it and would tell him how I would take trips for days at a time or explained why I would go for a run around the block. I was driving a silver SSR at the time and they explained that my car and the house was part of my cover. We also have this strange box on our house in between our garage doors, he thought that was how I was keeping surveillance on the neighborhood. They confirmed it was and to not let me know he knew. As time went on the girls would giggle when he would ask questions and finally blew my cover. He learned that I’m just a mom with no ties to the CIA but in the back of his mind, he wonders how I find out everything that is happening around me or my family. Being a mom is much like being an agent.

Over the years, Juan and my daughter Ginni have build a friendship and I have as well. We have visited and talked for hours on end. He has taught us a lot about life as a black man and we have taught him a lot about love and respect no matter who you are. He has become part of the family. We invite him to dinner and to play badminton in the back yard. I’m the Champ! During one of our many conversations, he told me, we are one of the few people that have proved to him we care and treat him like family. No one has ever treated him with such kindness. It broke my heart to hear those words and filled my heart with joy at the same time. He is really a good guy, he just hides it under his thug-ness but I have never bought into that.

He has lived a hard life, mostly by the choices he has made from lack of trust in others. Some are well merited while others are not. He has been in and out of jail, but I never treated him any differently. I have chewed him out and listened to his excused only to call BS, but I do it out of love and pray he does better each time. Ginni is hard on him because she knows he can do better.

I’ve watched him grow up in so many ways. I’ve see him when he was a mess and hard to be around and I’ve seen a side of him that few have had the honor of knowing. He has been there for me to listen and give me advice when few others knew I was struggling or even cared. I know when he is starting to make bad choices because he avoids me.

He was approaching the year mark, he had stayed out of trouble for almost a year. With only seven  days to go, Life Happen and he got arrested, again, but this time was different. He wasn’t trying to be the tough guy, but it humbled him. He realized this isn’t the life he is meant to live but that God has a purpose for him and he is finaly ready to listen. Please join me in praying for my friend. Over the next few days, weeks and months it is going to be a tough road for him but I know he can do it. God does have a purpose for him and I’m not giving up on him but I’m challenging him to do better.

I’ve asked him to be a part of my journey in writing my book and beyond. Stayed tuned for more updates and good news on how he is doing.

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