What’s the matter with people? #rhetorical​

love-1281655__340Yesterday (likely not yesterday by the time this is read) was a hard day in many ways. Most pointedly was the heartbreak. Someone I have known and trusted for years abandoned their family. It was like a switch was flipped and in the most callous way. Lives are forever changed. The stench of hypocrisy is unbearable. They now represent everything they claimed to be against, leaving a tsunami in the wake. If only they honored their own twitter platitudes. Twitter platitudes of the hypocritical are meaningless and destructive. I cannot imagine the impact on those closest to the devastation, but it is palpable.

There is so much ugliness in the world, and it takes a fantastic amount of grace and mercy to keep the focus on the beauty. When the ugliness hits so close to home, at times, it is hard to breathe.

Yesterday (likely not yesterday) something ended, that no one asked for. It was thrust upon them without a voice in the matter. When the switch was flipped, darkness enveloped. I don’t know that I have ever been so disappointed in a person. The callousness in which they operated is undeniable and unbelievable at the same time. People are hurt, and they will never be the same. Yet, those same people, in and through their faith, represent all the beauty in the world. Unconditional love may have been ripped away from them, but it is stronger than ever amongst them.

Faith and the grace and love of God can bring beauty out of ashes, and I believe it will. In the meantime, we have a God who is with us through it all.

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How do you control the world?

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“How do you control the world? …each tradition or philosophy then offers a different answer. None, as we have seen, manages to deliver us from the cycle of danger, fear, and control that plagues us, and in some cases, religion only makes us more afraid and the world more dangerous.

Jesus, however, started with a completely different question. He ignored How do you control the world?, and instead asked, How do you see the world? 

Rather than offering his followers a new system of control through rituals or rules, Jesus wanted to give them new eyes–a new way to see the world.” —-Through the eyes of Love, which is through the eyes of God. How do you see the world?

“Most Christians, like everyone else, expect religion to provide ways to control a dangerous world. …. Instead, Jesus’ message accepts one simple fact: control is an illusion. You don’t have it and you never will, and no amount of control will make you safe or eliminate your fears. So, any religious system promising you control is either delusional or dangerously deceptive. As Jesus said in his sermon, “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life?” …As we come to see God clearly and experience his unending goodness we discover a life-changing truth– we are perfectly safe in his hands.”

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Excerpt from: What’s Wrong With Religion by Skye Jethani

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When your #fullemptynest feels eerily empty

fullsizeoutput_e5ddDisclaimer: I know very well, regardless how I feel in this moment, my situation pales in comparison to much of the world suffering that is going on today. Not only around the world, but in my microcosm of the world. Still….

What’s the matter with me?? The question I’ve been asking myself for days. One minute life seems blissful, and beautiful, and fun, and joyful, and the very next minute a giant wave washes over me and flings a big dagger right into the middle of my heart. And I can’t shake it off. This isn’t me. Not the me I’ve known for 57 years. Yet, here we are. In my head I’m shouting STOP! How dare you?? You have a great life. Three amazing kids. Well, now 5, we just had a 2nd family wedding. 🙂 And you have a wonderful supportive husband. Still….

When you have a baby, you’re forewarned by other moms, friends, and doctors, that you may experience some level of postpartum depression. I’m not even sure I did, but if I did, I would have known to expect it, it’s normal. But no one warned me about possible empty nest depression. Suddenly, a couple weeks ago, if felt like I was hit by a Mack truck, even though our nest actually emptied a few years ago. Still….

I have to admit, I am coming down from one of the best times of my life. I had my daughter home for weeks before her wedding. Planning the wedding was so much fun! The wedding was one of the best days of my life! Everything about it was exciting. Her sister gave the best Maid of Honor speech ever. The father-daughter dance was beautiful. A couple weeks later we were in Spokane, helping our son and his lovely bride of 2 years settle into their new condominium. That’s a lot of high packed into a short time. So maybe, a little low is understandable… It’s so eerily quiet now.

It’s a few weeks later as I type this. My smack downs have been fewer. I’ve actually been feeling quite my normal self, until yesterday…. We took a stroll over to meet our new neighbors and deliver home baked cookies and a beauiful yellow mum. A cute young mom came bounding to the door, throwing it open, declaring “I know you people!” I was taken back for a split second before I recognized a girl I had not seen since she had babies. Her 4 children now range from 14 to 7. She is someone we met through our daughter Alexandra years ago when Alexandra was probably the age of her oldest daughter now. She worked with the youth group Alli attended. And. Now. She. Is. 5. Years. Away. From. Having. A. Child. Leave. For. College! Memories came flooding back into my head with the deep realization AGAIN, that time will not stand still. Aside from the daily reminder from my skin that doesn’t quite have the spring in its step that it used to… I mean, that’s enough of a reminder I’m getting older. Still, it is lovely to see her and her little family, and to know that we have wonderful new neighbors.

To top it off, I am in the throes of a major decluttering phase that keeps taking me down a delightful memory lane (a high), but then again I am gobsmacked (a low) by how fast time goes. I mean, people tell you that your entire life, and then one day the Mack truck blind sides.

Trying daily to count my blessings, because as my kitchen pig reminds me, ‘life goes on.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Father of the bride

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Photo by Nichole Haun Photography

I’m not going to lie… sometimes he drives me crazy (he doesn’t have far to drive), BUT he always makes me proud to have him in my life. No more so than when our daughter got married a little over a week ago. I don’t know how he got through his speech without crying. Maybe the precursor ‘father of the groom’ speech 2 years ago got him over that hump. I won’t share that video here, but I will share this:

“Good evening! First of all, Let me say, I learned from my speech at my son’s rehearsal dinner, I need to have my speech in front of me in large print, double-spaced. I may be able to speak on the fly in the courtroom, but this my friends, is no courtroom. It’s my life’s investment. On behalf of the Smith family, the Bride and Groom, and the Kennedy family, I would like to thank each and every one of you for being here this evening to celebrate with us, and for the love you have shown this special couple.

 

27 years ago I could not have predicted the range of emotions I feel today. The love and the beauty that is packed into a journey like this is overwhelming at times. As the father of the bride, it was sometimes hard not to go all Steve Martin, and freak out a bit. I’m happy to say I’ve been pretty cool about all the wedding planning, except for speaking incoherently at times.

 

Over the past 7 years though, we have come to love and appreciate Conner. For Ann, it was pretty instant, as she has a sixth sense for reading our kids, she new Ariana was pretty smitten, and sensed it was mutual. For me, skepticism sometimes rules the day. Even though I immediately liked Conner, he did have some work to do.

 

Well, the verdict has been in for some time, and these two are perfect for one another in so many ways. Conner is great yin for Ariana’s yang, their sense of humor is unmatched, and Conner is simply an extraordinary complement to our family. He makes us better people for having him in our lives.

 

We are so excited to see where life takes these two. One thing we know for sure, it will be a fun adventure along the way. Their compassion to make the world a better place, and their desire to leave a wide trail of God’s love along their journey, is an inspiration. We are extremely happy and proud of this dearly beloved bride and groom. Here’s to a life that will I know will be well lived. We love you, Ariana and Conner!”

He killed it on the dance floor for the father-daughter dance too!

 

 

 

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A few thoughts, the day after…

Coming down off a high from weeks of wedding planning, followed by a wonderful rehearsal dinner, to the actual wedding yesterday (7.29.17). I loved every moment. Thank you Alli, for giving the best maid of honor speech. It was beautiful, and totally captured the essence of what we were gathered to honor. Our hearts are truly all knitted together to now include a whole group of Californians! Jane, Larry, Cassidy, we love you guys. Thank you to all our family for making the journey to share this moment in time with us. Family is what it’s all about! I want to give a special thanks to my Mom and Dad, as they overcame many obstacles to be there. Wonderful memories were made this weekend.

 

To Sheree, thank you for your labor of love, what a beautiful hand beaded veil. To Jim, Sheree, Becky and John, we are indebted to you for giving of yourselves to make the trip, and then working under a time crunch deadline to take a load off our shoulders. I hope your literal shoulders have recuperated Jim! We would have been dead in the water without you guys. That’s a true friend.

 

To Alli, Samuel & Sarah, thank you for all your help, advice, spirit, and love. To Ariana and Conner, thank you for making your wedding day something extremely special by putting your stamp on it through your words, your humor, and your choices in the little details of the day.

 

Thank you all! We don’t have the words to adequately express our gratitude to each and everyone who showered Ariana & Conner with tremendous love. What a special day and truly magical night.

 

We are now a family of 7.

 

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Bappy Hirthday Ari! (borrowed from Conner)

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Photo by Nichole Haun Photography

June 26, 1990, at 6:06 am, our lives changed forever in wonderful ways! July 29, 2017, at 4:00 pm, our lives will change forever in wonderful ways.

Happiest of birthdays today Ariana! Because of you our lives are enriched in unimaginable and exciting ways. When you introduced to us 7 years ago to an incredible young man, the enrichment certainly continues. We are all ecstatically happy to have Conner officially part of our family soon. What a year this has been! From law school to graduate school, to engagement, to wedding planning mode. It is all a joyful & fun journey. We are looking ahead with great anticipation.

Your spirit and spunk has served you well in life!  You are full of hope and beautiful dreams, with a strong desire to simply make the world a better place, which for you, meant law school. 🙂 Everything you set your mind to you do well. We are grateful for you. Watching your compassion drive you, is our joy.

Have a great day celebrating your birthday in fiancée status! Love you, Mom & Dad

 

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My parents are headed to West Point!

After a very challenging year, this morning my parents headed out on their first long road trip. They are going to see their grandson graduate from the military academy. My brother graduated from the Air Force Academy and now his son is graduating from West Point. Like father, like son. I understand my nephew’s first assignment will take him to Hawaii. Well played Britton! Oh, and he speaks fluent Farsi and Arabic, and I have heard one other, but I’m not sure what that one is.

I’m so grateful to my sister-in-law, and her daughter in law for ‘going along for the ride.’ Well, they are doing much more than that. Without them this trip would not even be possible for my parents, as a lot goes into a trip like this that is above and beyond for a paraplegic. This past year we have become acutely aware of the meaning of ‘accessible,’ or the lack of accessibility. In planning this trip we have found that hotel rooms are not fully accessible even if labeled as such. Most hotel beds are now on platforms. When a person requires a lift, it needs to be able to go under the bed. So, I’ve written to Hilton, and Marriott, and Hampton Inn, etc. 🙂

I hope and pray all goes well and they have the best time, because they have another long road trip to take the end of July, for a wedding.

Posted in Empty Nest, Hotels, Paraplegic, Road Trip, Travel, West Point | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

To the future generation… you’re on my mind

mydesignI’m no longer outraged by Trump. Rather I’m consistently outraged and disillusioned with all those who continue to overlook, excuse, ignore, and enable all he is doing to undermine our republic. I’ve always been a political moderate, and I have voted for candidates and issues rather than parties….. until the hypercriticism, and outright lies that circulated over and over about President Obama, a man who best exemplified the Christian faith more than any other President in my lifetime. That resulted in a crisis of faith, and the deeper I grew in my faith during that time, the more my politics shifted. My goal became, and remains, to sift everything through the eyes of Jesus, the life he lived, and the example he set.

When candidate Trump was outed as a man who objectifies and excuses as well as touts his right to sexually assault women, when he mocked the disabled, when he revealed his distain for minorities, when he incited hate at his rallies, when he attacked and lied about people when they hurt his fragile ego, and villainized anyone who disagreed with him, I could never have conceived our country would one day be run by this mad man. But here we are.

I have never been tribal about politics until the ascension of Donald Trump, and I shall continue to speak out against what I believe to be exclusionary, mean-spirited, demeaning policies and the blatant lies he continually feeds the American people. I’ll stand up to his threats against the press. I’ll stand up to his attempt to treat groups as second class citizens. My distrust of this President does not have anything to do with him being a Republican. It’s because he calls climate change a hoax that I speak. It’s because he threatened to make all Muslims register with the government that I speak. It’s because he wants to allow discriminatory practices against the LGTBQ community that I speak. It’s because he seemingly cares nothing for the Native Americans that I speak. It’s because he criminalizes Mexican immigrants, legal or otherwise, that I speak. It’s because he marginalizes African-Americans that I speak. And it’s because he mocks the very ideals that the God of love holds dear. If that makes me tribal, so be it. This has never been about left and right. This is about human decency and Trump’s appalling lack of it.

Sitting in an immigration court room last week witnessing the havic he’s wrecked in one small corner of our society was disheartening enough. Now with the firing of Comey, and everything in between, I’ve never been more suspect of the future of our country. We’ve become one of ‘them,’ one of those countries. SMH. And for that, I want to say to the next generation I’m so sorry we have failed you, nevertheless many of us will work like there’s no tomorrow to reclaim the future for each and everyone of you. Peace.

Hidden Clues In The Trump-Comey Drama: It’s Worse Than You Think

Posted in Bigotry, Discrimination, Election 2016, Empty Nest, Family, Obama, Peace & Politics, Racism, Religion & Christianity, Trump | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One thing I’m weary of hearing & One thing I love to hear #immigration

imagesIf I have to hear one more time… “they just need to wait in line.” Really Jeff Sessions?! What do you know about it? What about the child who has escaped their country with their life as the local gang demanded their allegiance?? What kind of line were they to get in?? That’s a reality for too many young people. Just ask the family whose child was deported back to their country, and brutally murdered a week later. Not an isolated incident.

We have been working for comprehensive Immigration reform for years now. It is constantly politicized, and nothing gets done. Immigration reform needs to be a priority.

My husband, Sam, is an amazing Immigration attorney. He has worked tirelessly for decades to help families in dire situations. He ‘wins’ his cases more often than not. He is just good at what he does, but he also recognizes the real human stories behind each and every case, which propels him. He knows that often, his work can be life or death. He has had to console families as a loved one was sent back to a sure death. He knows families who have had fathers beheaded, and children tortured. Often related to the fact that the immigration judge had their hands tied because Congress stripped them of discretion.

Many view reform as building longer, higher walls, and deporting the lot of ‘them.’ Newsbreak: that does not even begin to solve the problem. Painting a simple picture, is far from helpful or accurate. Some time ago, and more than once, Congress took action. (Shocking, I know.) Under the guise of solving a problem, they actually made the problem greater. A problem cannot be solved in a vacuum. That is why comprehensive immigration reform is crucial. Recently I witnessed the utter shambles created when all discretion is taken away from Immigration judges. A father of young children, their sole support, is refused bond, because of no discretion. This is a man who will now lose his job since he will be incarcerated until his hearing date, in 3 months. Meanwhile, ‘we’ will all be supporting him and his family. There is no moral or ethical reason for that other than Congress tying the hands of the judges. One small example of the ridiculousness of it all. Jeff Sessions really doesn’t have a clue.

IMG_1340I will always love hearing the joy in a family’s emotion and words as they embrace Sam sobbing, and thank him for all he’s done to help their loved one. We desperately need immigration reform, but we also need more attorneys like Sam, for whom their job is much more than a job. It’s a calling.

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On Mimi~

Source: On Mimi~

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