Thursday, May 24, 2018

Justice Served

Joseph’s trial is over.  Although Raymond Blinn, the man who killed my son, never admitted verbally what he had done, justice has been served. 

No, certainly not the kind of justice that I dreamed of, what I wanted nor even the kind that could ever bring Joseph back, but a peace has been restored, that only God could bring.  And for that I am grateful.

The judge read the determination… “It has been determined by the State of New Jersey, County of Burlington, that in the case of Evelyn and Jeffery Fannell, on behalf of the Estate of Joseph M. Fannell, as the plaintiff vs. Raymond Blinn, the defendant Raymond Blinn was responsible for the wrongful death of Joseph Fannell.”  Not that we needed a court to determine that, but this land is governed by law, as unfair as it may be is, sometimes.

After 2 ½ years those fighting on behalf of Blinn, finally came over to extend their long-awaited sincere condolences and apologies and with them all of a sudden, so did Patricia Blinn.    Before I realized it, she was right there, in my face, greeting me and extending her arms to hug me.
A quick glance and all I saw was my daughter Brandi, as her eyes welled with tears and the next thing all I could do was hug that woman, the wife of the man who killed my son.  First with one arm, which quickly extended to the other.  I grasped her as she expressed her apologies at the loss of my son.  Sharing from a mother-to-mother stance, and that she had a grandson the same age as my Joe.  Here in this moment, what I wanted from the very beginning and never thought possible, not only an apology, but I saw firsthand in myself, the grace and mercy, love and forgiveness of God.  The thing we talk about often but far less often, practice.

I was reminded of so much in that moment.  The forgiveness of God and how in spite of what we do, He always extends His arms (both of them) to hug us.  And God also told me this, in that moment, that I wanted from the very beginning, I did not receive until I let it go.  That it wasn’t until I let go of receiving an apology, that I got one.  It wasn’t until I said out of my mouth, ‘Raymond Blinn didn’t matter anymore,’ that it really didn’t.  The whole time, the last three years, it has been a part of my confession, that driver never apologized.  And it wasn’t until I changed that confession, progress took place.  God reminded me that true forgiveness is receiving an apology that you will never get. And that’s what I did when I finally said, “I don’t care about the apology.”

And then God said this.  And I often tell women how special they are in the eyes of God.  I say it to the women in my church, I say it to the women at the Tea, however and as much as I’m led to.  Women really are special in the eyes of God.  We have His heart.  God said, it was because of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, that David did not kill him.  She went ahead and asked for mercy on the behalf of her husband. And because of that, her husband survived.  God said it was because of Patricia Blinn, that her husband received the grace he had been given.  It was because of her that he received forgiveness.

And it was because of God, that I was able to extend it.  Only God.

God can do nothing for me, until I recognize the limit of what I can do for myself as a human being, which allows Him to do the impossible.    

Forgiving, letting go and extending grace to the man who killed my son. 

He is forgiven, because I am.  And because I am forgiven, I am free.  Justice (for me) has been served.  And I believe that is what Joseph would want for any one of us.

Sleep in peace my Joe.

His mom, and the Lord’s servant,
Sis. E

Joseph Malik Fannell
January 14, 1993 - June 5, 2015

Monday, February 5, 2018


My husband, Jeff, was away for a couple of days recently.  For those who don’t know him, after working for the Major League Baseball Players Association for over 10 years, God allowed him to start his own business.  It’s been five years and he’s doing great, having just relocated into larger space. (God will increase your territory and bless you indeed, if you wait).  But in his current business, he represents players from the union and/or their agents. 

From the end of January through February is salary arbitration period.  Baseball season is over, and this is the time that has been set aside where players (if eligible), negotiate for a new contract or in some cases, just a better one.  Hubby had a case where he had to argue and represent a player.  His clients were well pleased in how Jeff pleaded his case.  It says a lot about you and your character when others are well pleased in how they are represented.   God said about Jesus, this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Jesus represented Him well…. Hmmmm. 

Anyway, with arbitration different sides of the case are presented, the player’s side, the union’s side and the team’s) as a case is laid by each one and presented before an arbitrator, who decides the case and determines the outcome.   (Our cases are argued too before an Arbitrator, God, who always has the final say in what the judgment will be). 

At one point, my hubby’s case didn’t look too good, and he thought they were going to lose.  While he presented a good case, another factor came in and it appeared as though the scale leaned to the other side.  This is what it looked like.  But God!  Hubby got the phone call just a day later, that they won!  That the player got what he asked for, determining the presentation of the case, a winner! 

As I was praying and thanking God for the win (I normally don’t ask for a “win”.  I pray God’s will be done and that I am able to accept what He allows, but this time, given what happened, I asked for a win), so as I was thanking God for the win, I heard Him say, “In spite of what it looks like He allows for a win.”

In spite of what it looks like, in spite of how that person stepped in and seemingly messed things up for you; in spite of laying the proper foundation and things took a turn; in spite of your stumbling and stuttering during the job interview; in spite of what is showing up in your bank account.  In spite of what it looks like, God allows for a win.  He allows you to win.

God goes against the flow.  Remember that.  Greater is He that is in you than he that is with the world.  You and Him are more than enough.  With God, all things are possible, in spite of what it seems.  When the odds are stacked against you, God allows for a win.  Especially if it was God Who put it in your spirit to ask for it.  And just a day later… God said, “Catch that!”

I am reminded of a song by Jekalyn Carr.  The words have this running theme, “The enemy came up against your home, your children, your name, your character, your health, your finances, your vision.  You will win.  know you're hurt, I know you're torn I know you are broken.  But you will win.  All of those may be facts, but the Truth still remains that in the name of Jesus, you will win.   All of those may be facts but the truth still remains that in the name of Jesus You will win.” 

In the name of Jesus, you will win.  Declare it to be your winning season, as the song continues… “It’s your winning season and everything attached to you wins.  You will win.  God allows us for it!

Because God is real.  “Thanks be unto God Who ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus.”

Still a servant of the Lord,
Sis. E

Copyright @2018

Friday, January 26, 2018

Broken Crayons Still Color

Came across this sign some time ago and immediately it jumped out at me, so I saved it. As I began to pray this particular morning during my devotional time with the Lord, God brought this back to my remembrance.  Had been asking Him for a Word for the year that will anchor me.  We need a Word from the Lord to hold on to.  A Word that will give us hope and strengthen us for the trials and even the triumphs to come.  That’s the purpose of a New Year theme in church that Pastors often share during the Watch Night services or the first message of the New Year.  The Word that the Pastor delivers at this time is usually an anchor to the congregation, giving them something to stand on, a Word to remember, to hold on to, when things start to go a little awry (and they will). 

Last year, the Word God had for us as a church was “Come Out Fightin'” (Though a year has passed, I encourage you to take a listen, the Word is always appropriate in our walk with Christ).  And yes, a strange word, but it seems that was all we had to do all year as the enemy found different ways to oppose us.  Each battle and each struggle that I personally faced last year, that Word popped up in my spirit, (and of others) as things came to challenge my faith.  'We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but of principalities...' It brought me back to where I should be, standing on the Word of God and contending for my faith.  Fight the good fight of faith, that's what the Word says.  And while things happened, I yet remained victorious at the end of the year.  What was meant to destroy me, what was meant to kill me, did not.  It is 2018 and I am still here.  I am still alive.  I am reminded of the words of my dear son Joseph who shared so poetically in one of his spoken word performances, (oh, how I miss them) … “See, they say, the human heart beats 4,000 times per hour.  Each beat, each pulse, each rhythm, each drop, is a token, is a trophy, is a reward, engraved with these words, you are still alive.”  I am still alive.   Albeit, broken.

Anyway, as I had been asking God for a Word, He spoke to me New Year’s Day and said, “Restoration and Renewal.”  And while I thought that this would be my anchor for the year, and it some ways it yet is, God spoke again.  I’ve learned that God often speaks in sentences, a thought today, a Word tomorrow, that if we would only string it together, we would have our ‘Morse code’ from God, a battle plan for our victory.  So, this particular morning, God continued to speak and spoke to me through this image... about brokenness.  

You see when my Joseph was killed, something broke in me.  My heart.  Joseph is my only son.  He was my last born.  He was just 22.  Just getting started.  And we won’t ever be able to see him continue.  In his career, in his performances.  In his life.  He won't ever marry or have his own family.  Life was stripped from him.  And life was stripped from me.  I birthed three children and now that was broken, for now I only had two.  And when he died, so did my passion, my ability to focus, my desire to live as I had been.  My faith was shaken.  Betrayal came, and I lost friends and people I thought loved me.  And so much more, that is not for me to share at this moment.  But I was broken.  And God spoke to me and said, “Broken crayons still color.”  And regarding the restoration and renewal, in order to be renewed, you must first be broken.  But understand, in that brokenness, God yet desires to work in you and through you. He yet desires to use you.  He yet desires to use me.

Broken crayons still color.  This is what He said.  Think about a crayon.  They are used to bring a black and white drawing to life.  To add color to a sketching.  When we were young, we had all kinds of coloring books.  The color by number.  The magic coloring books where things would appear once you colored them.  Theme coloring books, animals, toys, so many.  And we had all sorts of boxes of crayons; the 8, 16, 24, and the double-sized box of 64 with the sharpener.  And those of us who came later even had the erasable crayons.  And we loved to color with a brand-new box of crayons.  We couldn’t wait to use those.  It was just something about them.  They had a point so that we could make our coloring more accurate, staying in the lines.  But there was always somebody who colored outside of the lines (and that’s a whole other message, but sometimes we need to color outside of the lines and not do what everybody else is doing), but anyway, for the most part we needed to stay in the lines in order to have a pretty and perfect view, and color of whatever the subject was.  (Order is needed as well, but that too is another message). 

As a child, sometimes I would color and color with the same crayon, usually the black one, that seemed to be used the most.  (Or the blue and green, as there was always a sky or grass in the drawing that needed to be colored).   But those particular crayons would be used so much, they often broke.  And that was it.  Once those crayons were broken, it was like the whole pack did not work.  And most times it would stop me from coloring at all, because I could not use that one color.  I was like that as a kid (still like that in some ways).  Everything had to work.  Everything had to match.  My hair had to be neat or I would cry.  "The crayon is broken!"  I would yell to whoever was around.   And I would stop coloring or declare the whole box of crayons, worthless. (Thank God that when something breaks within us, He doesn’t toss us out, or stop using us, declaring us worthless).

Anyway, when we really wanted to color, especially if there was nothing else for us to do (there were no video games, or Netflix, or cellphones), sometimes we would take that broken crayon and peel off the paper, sharpen it and use it anyway.  As broken as it was.  But what made it even better was since the crayon was broken, we could share it and someone else could actually use that broken piece. 

Broken crayons still color.  And they still can be used to make a difference.  When we find ourselves broken, just like we did with our broken crayons, God just peels away that layer of paper, that thing that holds us back from being used, and He sharpens us and puts us back to work.  Back in the box with all the rest of the crayons.  Back in the midst of life with all of the rest of the people.  And the piece that was broken, broken off of us, He allows us to share with someone else, so that they can color too.  Our shared experiences serve as a threshold for someone else to share their experiences.

That broken piece of us, where our heart was broken because of betrayal or rejection or loneliness or even death, God allows someone else to learn from and now they are able to color with it.  To use the experience, they gained and the wisdom they learned from your broken piece and color with it.  Make the world around them, and the people they meet better. 

God will use our brokenness in spite of our brokenness.  And each time we break, He will sharpen us and make us new so that we can still color.  So that we can still make a difference.  Just because we are broken, just because things happen to us, death, sickness, a fall from grace even, does not mean God cannot use that situation, or use us as we go through it.  

And every time I am reminded of just how broken I am, God reminds me “yep, but you're still coloring.” So, with God’s help and by His grace, I’ll just take my broken self and continue to color all the plans, God draws for me.  Or puts in the Book.

Though broken, I shall not die, but live to declare the glory of the Lord.  For there SHALL be glory after this.

Broken crayons still color.

And I am still, a servant of the Lord, coloring.
Sis. E


Joseph Malik Fannell
January 14, 1993 – June 5, 2015