Sunday, April 9, 2017

Vince

Vince's first fish - Lake Alpine, CA 1991



Vince was born in 1985 and this is 2017.

That means that my first born is now 32 – which doesn’t make sense.  I know it sounds cliché, but it went by in a flash.  Just yesterday mastered the Etch-a-Sketch.  He learned to read and write before he was supposed to.  He learned how to ride a bike in the backyard at Arnold.  We took trips to Great America and Disneyland; took family vacations to Hawaii and Washington D.C.  He collected baseball cards, rocks, and Legos.  He played sports and work at a movie theater. 

He moved out suddenly; we moved to Africa.  And then – he was gone.

It was like losing an astronaut in deep space when Vince moved out- in Africa I prayed constantly for him.  Once we reestablished contact, we asked him to consider spending some time with us in the RSA -and he did.  It was the beginning of the relationship we have now.

Vince arrives in South Africa - 2008


It is one of the greatest graces of God when your adult children choose to have relationship with you. When I pray, I thank God for the kids he gave us.  I thank God we have grown and changed together.  I watch them in a certain kind of wonder, thankful that they can do all the things they do.

Vince has recently changed professions—no longer is he in the oil fields of New Mexico.  He lives in Sacramento again and works as a plumbing apprentice.  

Vince under a house - earlier this year (2017)


He works very hard every day and still comes home to play hard with his daughter, Scarlett. As I do homework I can hear her shrieking with delight upstairs, as her Dad plays with her.  

Every Saturday night Vince and Rikki go out and Mario and I get to have Scarlett.  Tonight we made a birthday cake together.

“Who is this cake for?”  I asked her, almost rhetorically. 

“MY Daddy,” Scarlett said, hitting her chest with her hand.  “MY Daddy!”  

“YOUR Daddy is MY son,” I said, smiling. Scarlett gave me a look that always makes me laugh.  She is possessive of her parents, and doesn’t like me to hug either one or talk about them like they are any relation to me.   Scarlett shook her head. 

“MY Daddy, and that’s Daddy’s cake!”

After I put it in the oven, I marveled at the beauty of life.  Not only do I get to write about my son growing up, I am also writing about his daughter growing up in front of me, as well. 



God is so good.

Happy Birthday, Vince.  You grew up fast, but you became a man who I am glad to know.  I love you!


Mom.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mom

A recent family gathering at Casa de Rodriguez
(Mom in white turtleneck behind Dad)

The story of my mother, Jennie Ryan, is surrounded by family.  She is the fifth out of seven children, born to Ignacio and Juana Gonzalez, my Grandpa and Grandma.  She grew up on a farm and some of her earliest memories involve feeding lambs from a baby bottle with her twin sisters, Emily and Molly.

What I don't know about my mother, what she never talks about, is what it was like learning English in the immersion of school, speaking a foreign language under the pressure of learning how to read and write.  I don't really know how they made it through the winters when my grandfather, a farm worker, was not working so much.  I don't know how it  was for her to grow up in a small town that was predominantly white during a time when racism was not called racism --it was just the way things were.

The reason I don't know much about these things is that my Mom doesn't like to "dwell on negative things"--even when it pertains to her own personal history.  What she loves to tell us is stories of being our small town's Tomato Queen, riding like a princess on an elephant through the main streets. Stories of meeting our father, Jack, who blew into Tracy like her knight on a white horse, swept her off her feet and married her in the Catholic Church that we were all baptized in.

Mom dwells on beauty.  She loves finding the good, is optimistic to a fault, and believes in counting her blessings.  Her life has not been easy, but you would never know this by talking to her.


Four Generations

...plus Scarlett

The power of my Mother is the strong belief in goodness.  She believes in the power of love, the power of forgiveness, the purpose in living a life for God, and the underlying truth that the only thing we can control about life is the way we react to it.

Today my mother turns 80.

I just typed that--and I can't believe it.  I think of my mother as perpetually 45, sweeping the floor, curling her hair, listening to classical music, making breakfast, watering her garden, going to Mass, lighting the candles on the table, reading the latest Michener.  All of these memories kind of blend together to create one large memory of her being there for me, woven into my life in ways that are completely beautiful.

Because, at her very core, my Mom is beautiful.



Auntie Molly, Auntie Emmy, Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom!  You make 80 look like 45 -- which I know can't be right, because I'm 53, right?  Or am I fifty four?  What am I, Mom?  Tell me!

Happy Birthday!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lauren

My favorite picture of me and Lauren
Thank you to Hannah Joy Photography


Lauren Caroline is our son David's third child, a daughter that  moves with speed and energy that makes me wish to be young again.

This past summer I went to see them before the fall semester began.  Cathy and David's kids picked me up, but only one wanted to get in the selfie I wanted to take with all of us - Lauren.



While Lili and Callen hid in the back seat, Lauren was still the effervescent grandchild I remembered her to to be.  We planned out what we would do while we were there and did it all --on the first day.  We jump-roped, played clapping games, drew pictures, and went shopping.  The rest of the visit I just tried to keep up with her, and basked in the beauty of her seven-year-old excitement. 


I have always loved Lauren for being the baby of her family.  She grew up well-protected and learned confidence from her two older siblings.  She also learned how to wear their hand-me-downs, play with their toys once they were finished with them, and wait her turn for every new thing.  The baby of the family usually is the most patient, out of default rather than choice.  

 Lauren is trusting, hopeful, and filled with gigantic expectations of life.  Since she is the baby of the family, all of the love trickles down to her and she is consequently very loving herself.  


Today, Lauren turns eight.  

I still remember the day she was born – at home in a hot tub (my daughter in law had all her babies in the tub).  David and Lennae had two small girls already and I openly wondered about the addition of that third child.  Most young mothers can tell you that the third child is officially juggling .  I worried that the kids (David and Lennae) might be overwhelmed… with so much work.  There was little I could offer to help –we were living in South Africa.


We were living in Johannesburg when Lauren was born; she changed everything.  We had said goodbye to our family and moved halfway across the world.  I wasn’t sure how to process the birth of one of our granddaughters from such a distance.  Getting the pictures via email filled me with admiration, love and emptiness.  As much as we wanted to be there--to at least hold her-- it was not possible.

David and Lilli hold Lauren, only two days old.  

By the time we moved back Lauren was four years old and she barely knew us.  Grateful for her parents, who built toward us, we began the business of reconnecting.  Only one problem – we lived in Cali and the kids lived in Kansas.  We visited Kansas and spent good, purposeful time “giving the kids their rest” and selfishly kidnapping the girls to take them to fun places that we could remember later  as shared experiences.  Whenever we are together, Lauren wants to listen to my stories – she tells me some of her own.  She loves play of any kind and always invites me to be part of her world – a sparkling, glittery wonderland. 

One of Lauren's selfies, taken in 2015

As I type this, Mario is there with her.  He gets to play in her supercharged universe as I shirk homework to celebrate Lauren in words.   Happy Birthday, Lauren.  As you do grow up, may you take all of this family love with you and bless the world as you have blessed our lives.  You are the sparkles in the air, young lady.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

29


Mario and I - the night before we married


Mario and I have been married Twenty-nine years today.  I thank God for Mario and I am sure that he thanks God for me, but we would both agree that marriage has not always been easy.  After twenty-nine years we have a relationship that is beautiful.  It is a relationship that has benefited from our years of hard work.  For years we both practiced sowing the seeds of love.  Our early marriage counselors promised us that sowing good seeds would bear good fruit.  They were right.

After you have been married for as long as we have, people ask you for advice.  We usually don’t give any – mainly because what these couples are really asking for is hope.  They want us to tell them that there is hope for their relationship, no matter how badly it has deteriorated.  All couples do – they want a good relationship.

Once a year I break out our best advice – and here it is.  Read on if you want to…this is the super-abridged edition of what we would tell couples if we really did give out advice.  

1.  Don’t expect your marriage to be like your wedding.

Please don’t take this the wrong way.  

I just mean that your marriage is not going to be like your wedding where everything is all about you!  Weddings used to be a church, a smattering of family, and the bride and groom dressed up in their “Sunday best”.  Now weddings are five-star affairs with big, fat dresses and tuxedos and tall cakes.  Grooms and their groomsmen dance in synchronized fashion.  Envelopes of money are given in celebration. 

Marriage is a MERGER, a legal contract, and a covenant that cannot be broken.   God help you if you think that marriage is one big party.  It is work! Often it is boring, tedious, and routine.  Only the best couples have the endurance to bring life into this arrangement!

2. DEPOSIT into your spouse’s heart.

Love is one of the key ingredients in successful marriages, but romantic love is not enough.  People who master marriage realize that the spouse has a “heart account” that must be filled.  Most people know how to make love withdrawals – but forget to make the love deposits.

Kind words, gifts, laughter, memories and special traditions that you celebrate together are all examples of deposits.  Figure out what your spouse likes and do that thing a lot.  

Let it be your idea. 


3.  Ditch your addictions.

Love is a seedling in an antagonistic world that is built for individuals.  Individuals have addictions. 

Alcohol, drugs and gambling are not the only addictions that kill relationships (although they certainly do a LOT of damage to plenty of marriages). Socially acceptable addictions like food, television, phone games, and work take their toll on more families than you would think.  

After years in full-time ministry we have heard too many partners confide that their significant other no longer values them as much as their ____________.  Fill in the blank with your addiction – that kind of behavior kills.


4. Relationships are worth protecting.   

In an effort to be polite or socially acceptable you may forget that the main relationship you are in requires a genuine wall of defense.  People may try to kidnap one of you for fun and games at the cost of the other’s happiness.  Others may be friends with your spouse but not care for you.  These people have a habit of asking if “just one of you” can work or play side-by-side with them.  There might be times when friends encourage gossiping about your spouse. 

Even well-meaning friends and family can make these mistakes.  We have had many of these in our marriage, but have always managed to remember that our partnership takes priority.  We are not joined at the hip, but we do value togetherness.  Most successful couples are genuinely friends who like to be with one another.  Mario and I keep our spiritual eyes open for the other’s welfare --protecting one another means protecting our relationship. 


5.  Laugh together. 

Couples who laugh together are more likely to enjoy each other's company.  Laughter also releases endorphin - the same hormone that is released during sex.  Take time out of each day to laugh - or to crack each other up.

Last night we played a board game --one that made us guffaw with laughter (Game of Things).  I watched Mario laughing and I was instantly grateful for him being joyful.


6.   Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

I didn’t author this – God did.  Learn how to listen (without your answer playing in your head).  Listen like it’s the first time you’ve ever heard what he/she is saying.  Listen more than you talk and get a reputation as a listener.  If you listen, you open one another’s hearts.  Each time you listen to your spouse you say “You are worth something to me.  What you have to say matters.” 

You may not agree with each other, but at least you have listened.

7. Use your manners.

This is your spouse, not your property.  Say thank you for everything they do for you.  Say please when you ask them to do something.  Hopefully your parents raised you with manners.  Exercise them!!

There are people who use manners even when they are stressed or tired -- I love being around these people!!   


Be blessed and live in love.  We wish you the best in everything. 

Mario and I tonight - after we got home from Dave Smith's Memorial

There are proven studies that show what kinds of couples survive the long-haul of marriage.  Check this out to see one interesting factoid.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

54

 
Me - at my beloved writing station - at 54
I will love this year.

Today marks my fifty-fourth year here among this beautiful human race.  I am deeply grateful and richly blessed.  My whole life has been defined by the grace of God.  I feel like His favorite daughter, one that often disappoints humans and yet delights Him.  I am tethered to Him –the source of my life and love.  For some inexplicable reason, I have received a greater measure of everything just because He loves me. 

This is truth.  This is real.  This is who I am.

The by-the-ways about me are in a constant state of flux.  By the way, I am a mother.  By the way, I am a wife.  I am a sister, a daughter, a student, a teacher, a writer, an artist, a lover and a musician.  I have learned not to define myself by the by-the-ways in my life. 

If someone would have asked who I was ten years ago, I would have answered that I was Mario’s wife and a homeschooling mother.  Five years ago, I would have answered that I was kind of an American Christian missionary living in Africa.  I am learning how to define myself without presenting the accreditations of all the temporary roles in my life. 

If you read this on the 28th of December, I will most likely be actively grieving with friends and family.  Mario and I will be at David Smith’s memorial –a celebration of a friend’s life.  Dave was here one minute and then gone the next, leaving us all looking around and asking how something like this could happen.  He was a Christian man, one of our closest confidants and advisers.

This year, more than any other, I realize that one day I will die.  I look at my own precious Mario, my beautiful rock, and know that I will grieve him one day –or he will grieve me.  When that day comes, all of my temporary roles of wife, mother, writer, artist, etc. will not matter as much as me being a daughter of God.  That is the role which is eternal, one that defines me on this earth and in the next world. 

For Dave, I am happy.  For his family, I am not.  It is hard to do without one another when there is love that has held us together.  The bonds of family and friendships are beautiful here, but I am grateful for the better bonds: the ones that bind us together with God.

Today I have wisdom in a measure – and next year I will have even more.  I treasure all of you, my friends and family who build me up and shape me into who I am.  Because of all of your human contact, I am constantly reminded of how beautiful this life actually is.

This day, I give you the first three verses of Isaiah 54.  This is a promise from Our Father to Israel.  We inherit these promises because we are grafted into the vine through the righteous branch -and I am looking forward to another triumphant year.


Blessings, today and always.

“Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous
Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.
 “Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
“For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations

And will resettle the desolate cities.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

David

Mario and David - Christmas 2011


I was driving to Chico on Friday when Mario called me.

“Pull over,” he said, in the voice he uses when there is an emergency.  But I was on that unfortunate stretch between Lincoln and Wheatland where there are no turnouts or shoulders. 

“I can’t,” I said.  “What happened?”

“I don’t want to tell you while you’re driving,” he said at first.  After I explained that I could not pull over, he told me that he had just received an email from Terry, one of our best friends, telling him that Dave Smith had died.

Dave Smith, Mario’s best friend.  Dave Smith, the best man at our wedding.  Dave Smith, our daughter’s “step-father.”  Dave Smith who helped us put all of our houses together.  Dave Smith, the relational equivalent of super-glue in our family.

I was sure that it was a mistake.

I finally pulled over on some side street that led to somewhere I didn’t know.  I was seeing rainbows and hearing a ringing in my ears.

“Are you sure?” I asked, in desperation.  We had just seen David the weekend before, at the annual Smith Christmas party where we exchanged white elephant gifts that made us all shriek with laughter.  Where we hugged and made silly faces at each other.  It was all a movie in my head, and I could still feel David and Terry’s hugs.  “Have you called Terry?”

After a weak exchange of flighty conversation, Mario said that he would call her.  He also told me he could not help the urge to get in the car and drive to Walnut Creek and be with her.  I completely agreed. 

“As soon as you know anything, let me know,” I said. 

A few hours later, Mario called me from Dave’s house.  He was with Terry and Michelle (Dave’s daughter) and the news was definitely true.  David had experienced a “major cardiac incident” and had died in the early morning hours of December 16.

Before and After - "Wait a second!! I didn't know you were taking a picture!!" 

I made my way to Chico on auto-pilot.  I knew that I would have to tell our daughter the news before she saw it on social media.   We wept on her laundry room floor, holding on to each other. 
Mario and I did the best we could to make it known privately to our kids that Dave had died. Their reaction was much like ours:  shock, denial, and finally the personal brand of acceptance that only death can bring. 

It is still hard to believe that it is true.

I can remember the day that I met Dave Smith.  I met him at a track meet where he and Mario were competing.  Dave was tall and athletic, like Mario and they related to one another like brothers.  I loved him immediately, even though I could tell that Dave and his wife, Peggy, were careful with me. 

I was Mario’s new girlfriend, another one that came after Mario’s divorce from Cathy.  David did not believe in divorce nor did he approve of Mario dating girls afterwards.  I was the last in a long line of “less-desirables” (Dave’s words, not mine). Dave and Peggy were best friends with Mario and Cathy and they were polite, but reserved with me.  Later David told me that he didn’t want to like me.  “You were taking Cathy’s place and I didn’t want that place taken.”

After a strange and wonderful courtship, I was accepted into the “circle of trust” and Mario and I were married.
David toasts us at our wedding

Our kids and Dave’s kids grew up together.  We were all friends and we were completely unready for a life event that changed everything: David’s divorce from Peggy.  The news sent us reeling.  After all, Dave and Peggy were our solid couple friends and we were not prepared for the next few months. 

After the divorce, Mark, David’s eldest son, contracted type 1 diabetes.  The disease was one that affected all of us – we grieved that this was life-changing for Mark and had no cure.  At 15, Mark was sentenced to a life taking insulin with a syringe, a feat that he had to do not once, but twice every day. 

Mario and Dave became even closer.  They now had something else to discuss: how to survive a divorce, especially with kids involved.  The process was strangely bonding and through it all, both men became closer to their maker.  They learned how to forgive themselves.  Our families healed as much as we could.

Terry and Dave by the BBQ - 2012


I met Terry, the first and only girl David dated after Peggy, the day of their wedding.  She was tall and beautiful.  She was a Christian.  I was so attracted to her – and her desire to adore Christ.  She loved Dave and she came with three incredible kids.  I loved her immediately – even though I felt like I was “cheating” on Peggy.  Did my love for Terry mean that I no longer supported Peggy?  I felt the same feelings that David felt toward me. I could now see how he felt conflicted accepting my presence in Mario’s life.

When she was eight, our daughter, Alicia, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  As I type this, I remember our familial panic.  Our first call was to David, who brought us down to earth and told us he would be there “after church on Sunday.” He and Terry came to the hospital with a cookbook of sugar free desserts.  I wept in Terry’s arms, David could barely talk.  I remember how Job’s friends came to him and just sat…. that’s what we did.  We just sat together and said nothing.

At eight-years-old, Alicia was not as discouraged about her diagnosis as we were.  Instead, Alicia wanted to know why everyone in her family had a stepfather but she did not.  We tried to explain that step-fathers were only given to kids whose parents divorced, something that we were sure she did not want.  David stepped up and silenced us.

“Hey, I’ll be your step-father, if you want one.”

Alicia was filled with gratitude.  “Really?  Will you?”  From that day forward, David was her step-father.  This was hard to explain to her friends, or their parents, at first.  Eventually, they saw that the relationship was hilarious, and a cause for laughter.

Laughter is what Dave championed.  He would make fun of politicians (“Their dentist is also their proctologist”), people who drove badly (“They should be issued a golf cart, not a car!”), and even his own physical form, which was changing with age (“I am proof that crack kills!”).  The family Christmas party was one that we enjoyed together, the same friends and family, year after year.  Even when we were in Africa, the Smiths were in our lives.  We would come home, jet-lagged and exhausted, from Johannesburg, and flop down in some bedroom of the Smith home for two days before we felt normal.  The Smiths were always our touchstones.

Getting ready to throw something on the grill - 2012


The truth is, we all have our Dave Smiths.  They are the guys that make us real.  They are the ones that stay in one place while we find ourselves and decide who we are.  They are the touchstones of our lives; the glue that holds us together.  They are the ones who we relate to effortlessly for years.  They are what we Americans call “best friends.”

I grieve in incomplete stutters and fits. I will be wrapping presents and remember David and Mario exchanging stories of their growing boys.  I will suddenly remember Dave’s ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  I will remember his laugh and his jokes. 

Dave installs soffets at our Kubel Circle house
One final thought that makes me sum up who he was: David helped us get our last house ready to sell, and he and Mario did most of the physical labor.  Suffering with Scleroderma (a chronic connective tissue disorder that is an autoimmune rheumatic disease), Dave often left our house exhausted and in pain.

“Thanks, again, David,” Mario would say, hugging him.  “What do I owe you?” Many times, Dave would only take money for gas. 

“This is what friends do for each other, right?” he would say.  

Mario would laugh and shake his head. “When have I ever done this for you?”

David would think, looking up at the sky.  “Hey!  That’s right!”  He would pretend to be mad, getting in his truck and slamming the door.  “See if I ever help you again, you free-loader!”  The guys would laugh and Dave would wave as he drove away.

That was David: always giving much more than he took.  He was, indeed, the best friend any person could ever have.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

election



My beloved blog has been taking back seat to my heavy schedule and homework.  Not intentionally, I have been disconnected with an audience that I worked hard to build.  This morning, I arrived at school and found my first class cancelled – my Poetry Professor (capitalized out of respect) probably too depressed to hold class.  Or he’s nursing a wicked hangover.  Or he’s sick…

Last night, the country watched television and computer feeds that returned election results we definitely were not expecting.  I live in California (our friends call it the ‘left coast’ for our left-wing politics) and our extended family is in either Boston or New York City.  Our insulated bubbles of left-wing surround sound did not prepare us for the majority of our country screaming for change.  NO to the status quo – NO to Congress at a stand-still – NO to our increasing debt.  Domestic policies be damned, Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States.

The United States.

When we lived overseas our friends laughed at that name.  “You are Fifty countries sharing one government!” They would joke- and that joke was not far from the truth.  We live in a place so diverse, we have to work hard to feel united about anything. 

Despite what most of our friends living in other countries think, the country’s decision to elect Donald Trump was a hotly contested fight to death, and many Americans believe that he is dragging the corpse of our ideals, it’s flesh still fresh from the kill, all the way to the swearing-in ceremony. 
If you’re interested, here is how these things came about:

  • 1.        The Majority of Americans are EXTREMELY WORRIED about our national debt – and should be.  


We were in South Africa when we heard – ON EVERY RADIO AND TELEVISION STATION – that the USA had lost its AAA Credit rating on the world market.    When we lost this top-tier AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor's it was an unprecedented blow to the world's largest economy.  It happened in the wake of a political battle that nearly took the country to the brink of default.  It exposed that the USA spent far more than it was producing.

President Obama signed legislation designed to reduce the fiscal deficit by $2.1 TRILLION over 10 years -- Budget Control Act of 2011.  This action was well short of the $4 trillion in savings S&P had called for as “a good down payment” on fixing America's finances on the world exchange system.

All of this happened while we lived in another country – and we wondered how it would affect our money, our assets, and our children’s future. 

I went to American news stations – and guess what? They were reporting on Jerry Lewis and how he would would no longer host any further MDA telethons.  American political shows, like the Daily Show, were poking fun of Michelle Bachman and her face.  There was some talk of “immigration reform” and Obama opened his arms to more people streaming into the United States, citing our open policies of taking care of our own. 

“Where are we getting the money?” I wondered…
That’s when I became a Libertarian.

  • 2.        The Majority of Americans are SICK AND TIRED OF CAREER POLITICIANS.    

The 2016 US Presidential campaign saw some interesting stuff.  It was filled with brilliant candidates and I wondered how America would choose.  Both big parties put forward their best, but it was a hard, long race that required money and political favors right and left. 

My candidate, Rand Paul, represented common sense and the Constitution.  I am a fan of both.  He was out early.

 Bernie Sanders, an Independent Party junior senator from Vermont organized the largest grass-roots campaign that America has ever seen.  People who didn’t vote registered and swore allegiance to the ideals that Sanders held – that together we could make a difference. 
The debates were brutal.  Many people didn’t watch because of the inability of candidates to do anything more than promote themselves. 

In the end, the Republican Party, with much hesitation, put forth Trump as a candidate.  Democrats traded the popular favorite (Sanders) for the politically savvy Clinton.

This is when it became a pit with two vipers – and we (the American Public) were watching in horror and disbelief.  Many people insisted that Hillary would be “more of the same” – a person who would promote the Democrat’s platform instead of manage the country for us all.  Trump was seen as a loose cannon – the candidate that somehow made it in despite such a (fill-in-the-blank) personal character.

We are a nation that uses the electoral college, a group of electors who cast their votes for whomever their district elects.  And last night, we watched the Electoral College – declare that Trump had it. 

  • 3.       The Majority of Americans are on one side or the other – we are a nation divided. 


There are always the Versailles Treaties that precedes the Hitlers.  There is always a pendulum swing to cause a certain political action. 

President Obama has overseen, in his eight years in office, more domestic terrorism than any other president.  We are a nation at war with itself.  The economic divide (between rich and poor) and the social divide (between represented and under-represented) in our country is staggering.  There are single mothers (like our daughter) working their tail off to make a living.  People of color –especially African Americans, feel unsafe in the presence of people designed to protect them.  Waitresses that work long hours and can no longer feed their families. 

To remedy this, Obama’s administration has tried to legislate change.  His administration has produced more social programs and regulations than any other president in history.  As a Libertarian, I can testify that more government is not the answer – it only creates more debt. The cost of running this country has increased dramatically.  We are now holding a debt that we …can never repay. 
Ouch.  That hurts to write.

Obama’s Job Approval (according to the Economist) say that Fifty percent (50%) of the country approve of the job he has done, and forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.  The chasm between the two sets is wide – and unfriendly.  On one side, people see a president who is suave, loves people, and represents us all as a whole.  On the other side, people feel abused, forgotten, neglected by a country who is supposed to be their home.  Many small business owners feel squashed by the forced social programs and systems to which they must adhere.  Many immigrants finally feel represented.  Many people adore the way Obama leads – many others hate it so much they can barely speak his name. 

In a Republic (which is what we are) we elect officials to represent us.  A Democracy (which is what people think we are) the people speak for themselves.  We elect officials to run our nation – and our nation, like the officials that represent us – is fallible.

Many people blame our Commander in Chief, who is actually only one arm of our government.  We have the Supreme Court and the Legislature to share the load of responsibility or blame. 


In the 2016 election, the Pew Research Center revealed the three most important issues to America:
1.       Economy (which includes our National Debt)
2.       Terrorism (Domestic and International)
3.       Foreign Policy  (US support of Israel, especially)

“Middle America” has now decided that Trump is the man to tackle these issues.


We, as a country, are apprehensive about electing Donald Trump -- to say the least.  Trump is not a stunning example of our best, and I will say this no matter how many of my fellows would disagree with me. Then again, neither is Clinton.  I would have liked to see Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Bernie Sanders in a race. 

I can say “if only” many times…but it won’t change things.

Last night, while listening to election results, I drove home from school.  The drive was long and hard and I was grieving.  Ahead of me, on Fair Oaks Boulevard, I saw flashing Police lights.  There, in the road, was a beautiful buck deer, sitting down as if he belonged in the middle of the road.  As my car past him, he looked at me.  There was a beautiful expression in his eyes, and his antlers were covered in a soft, brown velvet.  It occurred to me, as I passed him, that he had been hit by a car and the police were guarding him until animal control would arrive. 

I wept all the way home…and I haven’t stopped.


Pray for us.