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Monday, February 4, 2013

A Quiet Morning With the President

It was Saturday, and I was lounging around in my jeans and Doctor Who t-shirt. Annie and the kids had gone to the thrift store looking for new slacks for James. Knowing Annie and her perchance for deals, she'd be gone for a couple of hours. I was reading Pride and Prejudice and and imagining what the day held in store for me.  Lizzy had just finished her battle of wits with Mr. Darcy when the doorbell rang. I pushed up from the couch and dragged myself to the foyer. Opening the door, I was confronted with two tall gentlemen in dark suits and sunglasses.

"Excuse us, Mr. Peoples. We're with the President's Secret Service. Due to circumstances in the surrounding area, we'd like to ask you for the use of your residence for the President until certain activity settles down."

I peeked behind one of their shoulders. A dark limousine was parked with a small motorcade in front of our cherry tree. Officers, intermixed with other individuals in dark outfits, populated the sidewalk and our driveway. Both men in front of me wore blank expressions. A narrow line extended from each of their jackets to an aide in their ears. For some reason, the overdue water bill came to my mind.

"Do you have any reservations, Mr. Peoples?" The one on the left had an edge to his voice. He didn't seem to be moving a muscle while he spoke. I guess he had a plastic face.

"I'm just looking for the camera that's recording my reaction."

"We're quite real, sir. The President would consider it an utmost courtesy if you were to open your home to him."

Thinking back on The Idiot, I concluded that all government suits were attracted to our house for some reason. I decided it was legit.  "Uh...sure. Is he here right now? The place is kinda messy. The Niners were playing last night and we got rowdy."

"That's not an issue, sir. The President has made many house calls. You're place won't bother him."

I stepped back, and 15 people rushed in with suitcases and electrical equipment. After a few minutes, the President appeared at the door sporting a white shirt, blue tie, and a big smile. "Mr. Peoples, thank you for letting us intrude on you. I appreciate you opening your house like this. It's a pleasure to meet you."

I stood with my mouth open. Oh my gosh! It's him! This isn't some kind of prank. It's the President of the United States. And wow! He is much bigger in person. He had extended his hand, and it finally hit me that I was standing there, gaping, not doing anything. I reached out and shook it. "Um...nice to meet you, sir. We called the Queen of England to invite her over, but she hadn't been returning our calls." Did I really try to joke with the most powerful man in the United States?!

He just gave a chuckle and said, "You know, she doesn't return my calls, either!" We both laughed and I escorted him into family room. The broken pieces of tortilla chips and soda cans were still dispersed on the floor, and a couple of my shirts lay on the piano bench. I felt my face get red. Stupid! One should always pick up the place in case the leader of the free world should drop by! The President sat down in the rocking chair. I took a place on the couch, then jumped up. "Uh...could I get you some coffee? I was going to pour myself a cup just before you...um...stopped by."

"Sure. If you have a pot ready." He smiled his big smile. My gosh, how does he get his teeth so white!

I rushed into the kitchen and looked at the coffee maker. Yesterday's pot. I was going to serve the President of the United States yesterday morning's coffee! I scrambled to the cupboard. Looking up, I saw the Yuban canister that I kept for dad's visit. Yuban! He wouldn't drink instant. But I used the last of the beans yesterday, and nothing else was available. Cursing to myself, I grabbed a mug from Disneyland, filled it with water and threw in the microwave. A thin woman in a black suit and pulled back hair stood in the doorway to the hallway. She was expressionless. "Would you guys like a cup?" She gave a short shake of her head. Thank goodness. I only had so much instant.

I walked back into the room and handed Mickey to the President. He took a quick sip. "Yuban. I like their Colombian brew." I laughed nervously and sat down with my House of Blues mug in my hand. He looked at the pictures on the wall. "Who's the photographer? You or your wife?"

"Oh, that's Annie. I was taking too many pictures of my finger, so she took over."

"I have too many problems with people taking not-so-complimentary pictures of me." We both laughed.  "So you're a 49rs fan?  What do you think of Colin Kaepernick?"

"Oh...sure.  I like him.  I'd like to see him played more.  His strength is in his passing.  But I guess...uh...you're moving towards it being less violent.

"Well, I think we can do a lot to safely play the game and still provide entertainment for the country.  Would you let your own son play football?"

"Oh, he's not into that sport.  But I guess if he chose to pursue it we'd support him.  No parent wants to see their son get hurt, of course."

"Of course." The President replied.  He looked at the pictures.  "You know, my Race to the Top initiative is all about providing incentives to states in order to improve teaching and learning in America's schools."

"Oh...that's great!  You know, I don't really keep up with the bills going through Congress like I should, I guess.  Pretty busy during the day."  I felt stupid saying that, considering the condition of the room.  "Um...I spend more time cleaning things up after ballgames."

He laughed.  "I try to catch in a game every now and then, too!  It's our ideals that keep us strong as a country, and it's our unity as a country that make us strong as a people."

"Ideals. Yeah. I can see that." Well....here goes nothing. "Actually, Mr. President, I wrote you a letter about a month ago regarding that very issue."

"You'll have to pardon me for not responding, Mr. Peoples. I receive a number of letters each week."

"Oh, no problem! I can understand that, and I wasn't counting on anything back considering how busy you are. My main point in writing was to comment on your position." I cleared my throat and wrung my clammy hands together. "Look, I...I realize that as President, you have a lot of people's rights to consider and you represent a pretty big diverse culture. And I know you've said many times that you go to church and all..." The President sat there with a stone expression on his face. His eyes held me steadily, and I felt like I was back in sixth grade with Mrs. Kelsey looking down at her spectacles while I rambled on about my missing homework. I cleared my throat again. It felt a little too dry. "And I just wanted to say that I believe God put you in the White House for a purpose. I don't think it was to pass a particular law or push forward some people's rights. The bible says that it was to display His glory."

The President smiled. "I believe that, too, Mr. Peoples."

"OK. That's great.  I want confirm what you've most likely heard from your pastor...that Jesus did die for your sins and rose from the dead three days later so you can have new life.  And I know there are a lot of people of different faiths and religions that you have to be careful of not offending and all." I struggled with the next words. I was never good coming up with ideas on the spot, but thankfully I had written them down before. "It would be easy to point to that phrase, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and think that that sums it up. Especially when the term "love" keeps changing based on someone's rights being violated or them being offended. But God's glory is reflected certain ways. And one of those ways is in His word...the bible."

A man in a black suit and tie poked his head into the room. "We have clearance in 5 minutes, Mr. President."

The President looked up quickly. "Thanks, Paul." He turned back to me. "You were saying, Mr. Peoples?"

I had to collect my train of thought. "Our country, the European Community, the Middle East will someday pass away..." I saw him raise an eyebrow, "...but God's kingdom is bigger and will endure forever. Someday, God will send His messiah....and I believe that to be Jesus...back to rule and reign on earth. Psalm 2 talks about the response of all the kings of the earth on his return. And they will either respond to him positively and be blessed, or face being ruled by an iron fist. It could happen tomorrow or years from now. I don't say that to freak you out.  My hope is that you, as a leader of the free world, would choose to serve Him now for His glory, rather than the glory of mankind. And that can only be done by abiding in His word. Jesus said 'Abide in me and I will abide in you.'"

The President cleared his throat. "I appreciate your words. I do try to do what I believe is right and good, and to please God."

"And a lot of people do, sir.  My encouragement to you is to not only trust in God who created you and obey His word, but to seek His will for you in these days.  I believe that we're in the last days now, and with everything that's happening in Israel and how people live so contrary to what God's word says...well..." I didn't know how to finish.  There was something bigger here than talking about football teams.  "It's more important to please God than people."

The agent in the dark suit called Paul came back into the room.  "Sir, we're ready for you now."

The President and I stood up.  He reached out his hand.  "Mr. Peoples, I appreciate your concern, and sharing your faith with me.  I also appreciate your encouragement.  Thank you so much for opening your home to me."

I nodded and walked over with him and his entourage to the front.  The equipment was loaded, the cars were filled, and I watched the most powerful man in the United States roll down our street into the distance.
Five minutes later, Annie came through the garage door with the kids.  "Looks like a parade going down the street with those limos."  She was carrying three bags of clothes and new clock.  Looking down around the room, she commented, "What have you been doing the entire time?"

"Oh, just entertaining the President."

Annie glanced down at the table and saw the two mugs.  "Did you have someone over?  Those cups are going to get rings in them."

"The President likes Yuban."

"And we wonder where our son gets his overactive imagination!"

"What would you say to the President if he showed up?" I asked.

She dropped the bags and picked up my shirts from the piano bench.  "Well, if the President ever did stop by, there's no way he'd come into our house looking like this!  I'd make sure that he knew that Jesus died for him and that he'd better begin listening to God real soon."  She put her hand on her hips and looked at me.  "Plus, I'd let him know that I support his view on football.  There's no way our son is going to get banged up on the field, regardless of how much you like the 49rs!"

I cocked my head to one side and smiled.  "We have time to talk about that.  After all, it's the important things in life that matter."  Maybe it's best that she didn't know.  The doorbell rang, and Annie walked over to get it.  I heard the door open and her say, "Hi, Mrs. Thompson."

"Hello, Annie.  Was that the President I saw in front of your house?  I brought over some cookies to welcome him to the neighborhood."

"Jim!!!"

Oh boy!  I started cleaning up the house.

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