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Praise The Lord... And Pass The Chocolate!

Hey, Jeanketeers, remember in my last column, how I said I was going to tell hubby Rick about my decision to retire from the workaday world and become a full-time housewife? Well, if you were anywhere in the vicinity of 1567 Blossom Meadows Drive on the evening of May 3, I sure hope you had a good pair of earplugs!

The way Rick carried on, you'd think I told him I'd become a porn star! "I can't afford to have you sit on your ass and do nothing all day!" he yelled. "I'm not made of money, you know!" That just goes to show you how little he understands homemaking.

I'm still determined to achieve my life goal of becoming a domestic goddess. But for now, I have to put off that dream while I work as a part-time cashier at Fashion Bug. To be honest, the Fashion Bug job isn't all that bad. It's just 15 hours a week, and I really like my supervisor, Roz. Unfortunately, because of my part-time status, I don't qualify for the employee discount. But that hasn't stopped me from expanding my wardrobe a little! (I have to: I go through cotton stretch leggings like Tammy Faye Bakker goes through mascara!)

So things had pretty much returned to normal (or, more accurately, abnormal) at the old Teasdale homestead. But you could've knocked me over with a feather when I came home from work last Friday to find none other than my brother Kevin standing in the entrance to our apartment building. Kevin lives hundreds of miles away, so my first thought was that something had happened to Mom. But she was fine: Kevin had come to see me. "Mom showed me your past few columns," Kevin said. "You were arrested? What kind of life are you living, Jean?"

Kevin was all bent out of shape because I'd gotten arrested for shoplifting circus peanuts from the Pamida a few months ago. I tried to explain that I got just one year's probation, and that I was fine now and pretty much over my depression, thanks to the pills my court-ordered psychiatrist prescribed me. But Kevin was still worked up. "I was hoping you'd be the only one of us kids without a rap sheet. But now you're on those mind-altering anti-depressant pills, too? Jean, can't you see that this sort of trouble is bound to happen when you refuse to let Jesus into your life?"

I was afraid he'd bring that up. See, Kevin is a born-again Christian. Not that I don't believe in God or Jesus or anything, but Kevin's way more into it than Rick and me. Religion's helped Kevin a lot: He used to be a major party animal, but then, about 10 years ago, he got busted for pot possession and spent a few months in jail. While doing time, he found God, and he hasn't looked back since. He went back to school for his GED, got married, had three kids, and is now an assistant football coach at a small community college.

All that's great, but sometimes Kevin gets a little, well, passionate about his faith and tries to save hubby Rick and me. I've never really understood that, because I always thought that if you were brought up Christian (in our case, Catholic), you were pretty much set and your sins would be automatically forgiven, so long as you didn't kill anybody. But Kevin believes that you have to do a lot more to win your place in Heaven, like go to church every Sunday and read the Bible from cover to cover. (I'm lucky if I read my monthly issue of Redbook from cover to cover!)

"Jean, you're in a spiritual fog," Kevin said. "I've never seen you more lost. I'm not saying it's easy, but, believe me, giving yourself to the Lord and accepting his divine Truth will bring you far more peace and joy than your doll collection, your cats, or even chocolate. Come with me to church this Sunday, and you'll understand."

Normally, I find some way to politely turn Kevin down, but I must admit, my curiosity was piqued: Something better than chocolate? This I had to see! So early Sunday morning, wearing my best dress and carrying my Precious Moments Bible, I went with Kevin to a little Baptist church just outside of town.

When the service was about to begin, I was afraid that some preacher would come out and start yelling at the congregation. But to my complete surprise, a choir sang a gospel hymn with a rock 'n' roll band for accompaniment! Everybody was clapping and singing and whirling around. I must admit, I found myself swaying back and forth to the music! No boring pipe organ here!

There was a preacher, and he did yell, but he was very kind and humble about it. He said he was lost once, too, that he did every drug in the Physician's Desk Reference, and that he had absolutely no will power or self-control. He said he was suicidal and that, at his lowest point, he was living in one of those Pepsi soda bins shaped like R2-D2. But then his mother died, and during her funeral, God talked to him and gave him the mission to save others. He said he hasn't touched drugs since and has gained back his will to live, all thanks to God.

Then something happened that I will never, ever forget. The preacher said, "We have a young lady here today who's with us for the very first time. Her own brother brought her here because she's been going through some hard times. Her soul hungers for salvation and the love of Jesus Christ, but she doesn't know it. Sister Jean, come up here. We'd like to meet you!"

Well, I was plenty shocked! Kevin gave me a little push, and I found myself up on stage with the preacher. I was speechless! Taking me by the hand, the preacher recounted all my problems to the audience: my depression, my weight, my inability to keep a job, my shoplifting arrest, and my marital troubles with hubby Rick. I must have turned about 50 shades of red, but the preacher said it was okay for me to be embarrassed and shameful before the Lord. But he said I mustn't blame myself for my problems, because they were all the devil's work.

"You can make jokes about it, like you do in your column, but believe me when I say that it's hardly a joking matter. Because what's really happening is that the devil's battling hard for your soul," he said. "When you beat up on yourself, or when hubby Rick puts you down, that's Satan talking. But you know who loves you no matter what? Jesus. You know who wants you to be well? Jesus. Sister Jean, you can talk all you want about material objects, like your romance novels, or those ceramic figurines you so love to collect, or Patrick Swayze, but I can guarantee you, my child, not one of those things can get near the boundless, unconditional love and forgiveness God has for you."

I don't know, I guess it was a combination of what the preacher was saying, the gospel music, and the congregation screaming, "Tell it, brother!" but suddenly, I understood what Kevin and the preacher had been talking about. I swooned on the floor, sobbing and asking to be baptized. "Please, Lord, make me clean!" I yelled as the congregation cheered.

After the service, everyone gathered in the backyard to watch me get baptized in the pool. My dress was still on and everything! The water was cold, and I didn't realize until later that I was still clutching my Precious Moments Bible as I went under. But I didn't care, because, for the first time in my life, I felt unconditional love. People were hugging me left and right. The preacher said I became born-again faster than any other person he'd ever seen! Before I left, he gave me a little necklace with a gold-cross pendant on it and kissed my forehead. It was the most joyful moment I'd ever experienced!

When I got home, hubby Rick took one look at me and said, "Boy, I've been telling you to go jump in a lake for a long time, but I didn't think you'd take me seriously!" Then, before I could say anything, Rick's eyes got as wide as saucers. "He got you baptized, didn't he?" he screamed. "That pussy Christian do-gooder brother of yours got you baptized! Jean, are you nuts? Why would you let him do that to you?" When Rick said that, I realized it was really the devil talking, so I grabbed the cross pendant the preacher had given me and shouted, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" Apparently, it worked, because Rick just froze with a look of complete horror on his face. I must have scared the devil out of him! (Thank you, Jesus!)

You know, I often talk about the new Jean Teasdale, but this time, you're looking at the new new Jean Teasdale! I've been born again in the light and love of Jesus Christ! (I only wish those extra 85 pounds hadn't been born again with me!) I know that Satan will always try to get the best of me, so I must always try to keep God in my thoughts and remember how free and wonderful I felt after my baptism! Too bad I had to ruin my best dress and Precious Moments Bible in the process! Oops, there's that devil talking again! Get thee behind me, Satan, get thee behind me!

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