Steal a Soda Get a FELONY?!

I read an article today that epitomizes what is wrong with our criminal justice system. At an Arkansas McDonald’s three people went through the drive-thru asking for cups of water, then went inside to fill their cups with soda. The manager told them to return the soda, but one of them didn’t. The driver tried to get away and the manager tried to stop him. In doing so the manager got hit by the car, which is apparently the reason for the escalation of charges. That in itself seems a bit over the top. There should have been a separate charge for that, however, not a felony robbery charge. FELONY. I can’t believe that stealing soda from one of the wealthiest entities in the world whose profits on soda well exceed 100% in the markup constitutes a Felony Robbery charge!

This is an 18 year old “kid.” Yes, he’s legally an adult, but anyone over the age of 25 will likely tell you they were still kids when they were 18. But now this guy will forever have an arrest record, and if the charges stay as they are he will also be a felon.

This issue runs deeper than just this once incident for me.

Felon is a serious label, and I believe it is used too frequently. It ruins lives that otherwise should not or would not be ruined because that label will significantly limit job opportunities, which means that it will be much harder to become a productive member of society. Instead of contributing to society people who have been over jealously charged with felonies have a much higher propensity for recurrent crimes.

Perhaps this young guy will catch a break and it will be dropped to a misdemeanor. I know morally these guys were in the wrong. They stole. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou Shalt Not STEAL.” There is nothing after that giving any room for a gray area where stealing something little from a big corporation is okay-ish. No. He did wrong and he should be punished. But a felony robbery charge is just over the top. Fine the guy and make him do 400 (or some other arbitrary number) hours of community service.

But jail time? Not only does it increase his chance of recidivism, which hurts his life and the lives of those he commits crimes against, but it also hurts society as a whole. It costs an exorbitant amount of money to keep people in jail. Whose money? Well, taxpayers of course. And I for one do not want to be paying my tax dollars putting this kind of felon in prison.

I’m currently sitting on the Grand Jury in my county, and even though I have a degree in Criminal Justice, and once aspired to be a lawyer before becoming a stay-at-home-mom, I am surprised at myself with how little I know about our justice system.

My eyes have been opened by my experience to just how ridiculous some of these charges are against people. Don’t get me wrong, crime should be punished – I err on the side of legalism perhaps too much so, but I’m shocked and bothered by things that fall under felonies, and can’t true-bill some of them solely on the fact that they are felonies and not misdemeanors.

I’m well aware that deals get made and charges get dropped, but there are some things that do get through especially when it’s a repeat offender, and sending someone to prison on a minor transgression is just as wrong as the guy who stole the soda.

Instead of over populating our prisons with those who committed small time crimes, we should put money into programs that will help rehabilitate them and reduce the amount of recidivism.

It’s so much more productive to take care of things on the front end than it is to deal with them on the back end, and that is what prison is – the back end. But truly it hurts the bottom line far more than creating programs to lessen the amount of people in prison to begin with.

Besides, isn’t it worse that McDonald’s lies about the ingredients in its food? How about all the poison and carcinogens in their food? There’s something like 90 ingredients in McDonald’s french fries from what I’ve heard. The CEO and people running corporations like McDonald’s should be charged with crimes against humanity for all the health issues they contribute to. Now that would be justice.

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Cat-astrophe

Last Friday night… it starts off sounding like a Katy Perry song, but is nothing like that at all.

Last Friday night when my son’s friend was picked up by his Mom, I went outside to say hello to her, but when I opened the door to go in, The Girl kitten (aka Coco) ran right out.

She has every desire to be an out door cat, and I have every desire to keep her inside. This time she won that battle.

I went inside to get ready to take my son to his last hockey practice of the season figuring that I’d give her a few minutes of freedom before recapturing her. since the furthest she has wandered was next door. And by next door I mean, my neighbors brought her home when they found her in their kitchen last week after they had left their garage door opened.

Well, this time the dog from our other next door neighbors’ saw her and started barking, naturally scaring The Girl up one of our Pine trees.

I then got the bright idea to climb the tree to get her since my son was unintentionally chasing her further up the tree. The thing is, I’m not-so-young and not-so-fit-anymore, and as I climbed, a few branches started to break.

It wasn’t pretty, people, but now I can laugh and say it was funny and I wish it was on video for all to laugh at. My kids kept trying to give me tips on how to get down, but what they didn’t realize was that one leg was down, while the other leg was up and over a branch that I could not break.

My Mother asked if I wanted her to call the Fire Department. They won’t come for cats, but maybe for single woman who clearly wasn’t using her brain? I declined the offer of humiliation, but it took me a while to get myself out of that position and down the tree with the realization that I could not attempt that again.

My 7 year old then made a joke that, “this is a Cat-astrophe.” I laughed. She’s very witty and very cleaver. It soon felt like a catastrophe waiting to happen because it got colder and darker and became apparent that The Girl would not be coming down on her own. My son made several attempts to get her down, but I told him she was too high for him to climb at 60 ft.  and to come down (he did make it up there against my wishes, but just couldn’t get her).

The Girl cried most of the night and I checked on her multiple times, trying to coax her down. We called someone and were told that they’d be out first thing in the morning. I feared the below freezing temperatures, but thankfully she made it. It cost $200 to get her down, but it was money well spent.

The kitten has not been the same since. The vet has told me to give her a few more days, so I will, but she is clearly suffering from some PTSD. Even The Boy kitten who normally attacks her/ plays with her very aggressively has backed off. He also doesn’t chase her away from the food dishes anymore, and actually waits for her to eat before he does.

Hopefully she just needs a few more days because she was our playful kitty who never sat still, and now she mostly lays around and will often just stare off into space. The bad thing is she still wants to be an outdoor cat. Sigh.

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Oh No Kitties!

Three weeks ago I made good on a promise to my children when we adopted two little kittens. I have two children, so naturally they each need their own pet t̶o̶ ̶t̶e̶a̶c̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶p̶o̶n̶s̶i̶b̶i̶l̶i̶t̶y̶, so they wouldn’t fight over the poor creature(s), except this hasn’t been the case. We are working through it, mostly by me reminding my son that I will claim his cat as my own and change the name if he doesn’t leave his little sister’s cat alone sometimes.

I really have no problem changing his cat’s name, either of the cats really because I can’t remember them to being with. Since they are not “my” cats (except for all the responsibilities), I let my children name their own pet with the understanding that I have full veto power. My daughter named her cat Coco, and after talking to one of the board members of PETA during the adoption process, she now calls her Coco Chanel. My son tried several variations of his father’s name for his cat including: Tom, Tommy, and T.J. (Tom Jr.), but I wasn’t a fan and none of those fit his cat. My Mother has been here for the holidays and we both kept referring to him by his shelter name, Marvin. So, it has mostly been decided that we will keep his name as is.

Marvin looks very similar to one of my childhood cats, Mr. Marshmallow, who you’d expect to be white, but wasn’t. I was in first grade, so there is no way to know my reasoning. Sometimes Marvin is called Mr. Marvin or Mr. Marshmallow. I also call him Martin or Marvey because I cannot remember the poor thing’s name. To be honest, I can’t remember Coco’s name either. I call them The Boy and The Girl and if it wasn’t for the need of my children to give their cats “real names” then they would officially be known as “The Boy” and “The Girl” from here on out – even at the vet’s office.

Speaking of the vet, the Atlanta Humane Society is amazing. The kittens’ first vet visit was free, and The Boy, whom they’d only had a few days came to us with a parasite and a nasty virus. When we got home from my son’s birthday dinner I thought he was dead. It was bad, but it was covered by the Humane Society, which saved me $150. I love the Atlanta Humane Society. When we saw Marvin online we knew we wanted him, so the Saturday before Christmas we ventured down to Atlanta, 45 mins from home to check out this kitten. My daughter made a B-line to the other side of the cat room and fell instantly in love with her now kitten.

I wasn’t feeling well that day and wanted to leave, but there was a line and we waited well over an hour. I have adopted from a shelter before, but it was nothing like here. They went over everything about the cats with us and made sure any questions we had were answered. They gave us a collar and tags, a bag of food for each kitten, and a stocking of toys. The best part was that not only are their prices better to begin with than the shelters closer to home, but they did/do a two-for-one deal on the kittens. They even do a follow-up call to see how things are going. I can’t say enough about this place!

Almost nothing in life ever goes this smoothly for me. I kept telling my Mom that this was obviously meant to be. Or so I thought. Well, about 6 days ago I woke up with itchy hives from head to toe. It was miserable. Who wants a full body rash?! I spent 3 days taking multiple doses of Benadryl and Zyrtec to no relief before going into the doctor. I had no idea why I was itching. I thought it was something I had eaten and was allergic to.

My doctor gave me a shot of steroids and a Z-pack, and said that if I’m still itchy in 7-10 days then we need to try to really figure out what could be causing this. That was Tuesday. Thankfully my doctor’s office is closed on Wednesdays because when I woke up the hives were worse. And they looked like streaks that would appear and disappear all on their own. I tend to either overreact or underreact about things, and in this case I erred on the side of overreacting. I thought I had a parasite in my skin and took myself to the urgent care.

As soon as the doctor came in she knew what it was minus the cause. She seemed irritated that my doctor didn’t take any blood to find out what exactly was causing my allergic reaction, and took 4 vials to send out. She also gave me “real drugs that will help.” They have, but as you guessed it, the test results showed that I’m highly allergic to cat dander. I can’t live like this forever and I don’t think my body was designed to spend the rest of my days on steroids and other medications.

Since these little fir-balls are already part of the family, and because my children would shun me if the cats were re-homed, my only option is to get allergy shots. Every. Week. For Two Years. The only thing I’m allergic to more than cats is Commitment. This should be interesting.

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Modern Day Slavery

About a month ago I attended The Atlanta Justice Conference and spent most of my Saturday learning about different aspects of Human Trafficking. The statistics are staggering. I’ve known about this issue for several years, but I really didn’t have a clue as to how rampant it is here in the US. It has been on my mind and brought up in conversations since. I am doing what I can, but it’s not enough. This is an issue I plan to pursue further involvement in because when something disturbs us deeply we need to take action.

I want to share a few statistics with you, especially for those unaware of just how bad this is becoming:

  • The Super Bowl is the single largest sex trafficking event in the world. (I was stunned and had a much harder time enjoying the game this year).
  • 27 Million people are trafficked every year forced into labor and sex slavery.
  • Annual revenue is around $9.5 BILLION (though I’ve seen statistics that suggest it’s upwards of $32 billion worldwide).
  • Atlanta is one of the top cities for Human Trafficking domestically.
  • The average age of first being used for sex slavery went from 16 to now between the ages of 12-14.
  • The average life span of victims is only 7 years after they are first trafficked.
  • 83% of documented cases in the US are American born children.
  • Within 48 hours of running away from home, children will be approached and try to be recruited.

Selling people is seen as “more prestigious” than selling drugs, and many drug dealers are switching to selling people. My stomach churned when I heard that said. This is not something that just happens in other parts of the world, though we should care about it no matter where it’s happening. It’s also happening right here in our own backyards. One of the biggest populations of at-risk youth domestically are those in foster care, but it also happens to your average American families as many children are approached via the internet.

Awareness is the first step to stopping the problem. Get the conversation started. Talk about it with friends, family, and neighbors. Contact your senators and representatives and tell them to support ending this atrocity. This is a growing problem, but it doesn’t have to be. Think about it. This is sadly a case of supply and demand. As long as there are men who are willing to pay for sex (especially with children) then sex slavery will continue. We need more men to get involved in the fight against Human Trafficking.

There is so much more to say on this issue, but I encourage everyone to start the conversation. Today people are putting a red X on their hand in support of this worthy cause. No, that isn’t going to solve the problem, but it surely will raise awareness, and that is where we need to start. #enditmovement

Contact your senators and tell them to support the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act 2015, which is bi-partisan legislation introduced by Senator Bob Corker (R – TN) and Robert Menendez (D – NJ). There are also some amazing non-profits working to rescue and restore victims, including Street Grace and Out of Darkness.

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The Christian Label

Often people label themselves “Christian” without even knowing what Christ stood for or what being a Christ-follower really means. There is a great disservice done towards the view of Christianity when people throw around the term so flippantly. It has become something of a platitude without much meaning behind it. I’ve heard plenty of people say they are Christians, but they believe that everyone goes to heaven. It shows me there is a disconnect between the label and the man, the son of God. Those who do not believe in the Christian religion – and even many who do become wary of Christianity and are reluctant to follow a religion whose members behave in a manner opposite of what their own Holy Book teaches.

What I find disheartening is that Christianity is judged by the actions of people instead of the Person – Jesus himself, what He taught and what the Bible says. First of all, Jesus never even used the word Christian. So it’s understandable why there are so many different definitions of the word. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a definition of what it should be if we read the Bible and examine the standards that Christ laid out for His Disciples.

There seems to be a popular worldview of Christians that suggests “if you call yourself a Christian than you must be perfect, you cannot sin, you cannot screw up, and you cannot make mistakes.” But why? Are we not human, too? Don’t we all make bad decisions at least occasionally? The very basic foundation of being a Christian is believing that Jesus is the son of God and he died for our sins – all of our sins – the sins before we started believing and the sins after we become Christians. There isn’t a magic switch that turns off sin as soon as we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. It would be nice, but it just isn’t so. Would you expect children to be perfect even if they believe in Jesus? Of course not. Adults aren’t perfect either. We need to stop placing unrealistic expectations on others just because of their religious beliefs.

That being said, Christ followers do have a standard that we should be trying to follow. While none of us will ever arrive at perfection this side of heaven, we should be working on becoming more Christ-like. I heard my Pastor in NC say over and over, “We are not sinless. We are in the process of sinning less and less.” That is so important for us to remember.

Another saying of that pastor that stands out was “We are baptists with a little b and Christians with a capital C.” Often times we get hung up on denominations and forget the core of Christianity. We separate ourselves from other believers because of a label. It’s okay to not agree on everything within the faith, but when we isolate ourselves or others it does more harm than good. Keeping the focus on where it belongs is the only way that people will see Christ through us. I don’t always get this right, but I am trying.

If we can put aside a bad experience (or more than a few) with a Christian, a group of Christians, or even an entire church then maybe we can evaluate Christianity on its own merits – what Jesus said it is, not what others say it is. The most important thing is a personal relationship with Him, not a label.

At the center of Christianity is the life of one man, Jesus the Christ.

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A Piece of the Puzzle

A single piece of a puzzle can be misleading in assessing what the whole picture looks like. Have you ever looked at a zoomed in picture that only shows a small portion of an object? You may think it’s one thing until you zoom out and realize it’s something entirely different.

Sometimes having several pieces of a puzzle can cause a greater challenge than having only one. It’s easier to recognize that something is missing when we have limited knowledge, but as soon as we are given enough information to see part of the picture we are often convinced we know it all. We believe we have enough information to move forward instead of waiting to see what else presents itself.

This can be dangerous. It can also be disappointing. When we accept part of the whole we are still operating with limited information, yet we behave confidentiality as if we have everything we need. Eventually we miss the mark. Perhaps nothing tragic or “bad” comes from it, but what if we fail to see something greater than we could have ever imagined? We miss out on the blessings we could have enjoyed.

This is true in life, and in regards to knowing and understanding God. We limit our full potential when we stop trying to know God. When we get to a point that feels comfortable with our relationship with Him we stop growing and stop seeing what else is going on around us. But the more we seek Him, and study His word more of the picture is revealed to us. Sometimes that view is beautiful. Sometimes that view offers clarity, closure, or understanding in a difficult situation. We see the bigger picture and understand how it all fits together. We gain deeper joy and greater peace when we seek to know God better.

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If I Died Tomorrow…

I’ve been compelled for a while to write letters to those who have influenced and help shape my life. I have a folder on my computer called “If I Died Tomorrow…” I realize how short life can be and that it can be gone in an instant. I’ve contemplated sending some people their letters, but have yet to do so. I’ve written some to my children individually, but today I decided to write one to both of them of a few tidbits and lessons I hope they hold with them even if something were to happen to me. This is it…

Oh my sweet, sweet babies. Okay, okay, you’re not babies, but you will always be “my babies” in my heart. You once were so tiny and so helpless, but now you do things that amaze me and take me by surprise. You are the loves of my life and the greatest joy I have ever known is being your Mom. I cannot express in words how much love my heart feels for you. My heart smiles because of you both. I know you have this incredible competition with each other, and while I don’t want to stifle your competitive nature, I do wish it wasn’t with each other, especially not in terms of me and my love for you. I cannot explain how it is that a mother can love her children so immensely and so equally; it is something that God has been able to gift us with. I do love that you are competitive, though, and want you to keep that fire in your hearts always.

Never settle for less, always try to be your best, but remember that there will almost always be someone better than you and almost always be someone not as good as you. So, don’t get bitter or jealous when someone is more successful. Use that as a standard to keep aiming for and then surpass. Don’t be hard on yourself either. If you do your best then be proud! The person you should compete with the hardest is yourself. Always try a little more, and never forget that it is never too late to make things better!

Also, never gloat over anyone who hasn’t done as well as you. Be humble. Humility will get you so much farther in life than arrogance in success ever could. Encourage and lift those up who may not be on your level. They need it and we are called to help those around us who are in need. We all are in need at some points in our lives, and I pray that there are people around you who will be there to help you in any way you might need. Don’t be afraid to accept or even ask for help. It takes a greater amount of strength to do that than to decline and try to do it all on your own. Pride is never useful and this goes back to being humble. I cannot stress it enough. If you are prideful life has a way of knocking your ego down to where it belongs. And let me tell you, it’s not fun; it’s better to start from a place of humility.

Choose good people to be in your life. You can have many friends, and I hope that you do, but your inner circle should always remain small. Trust is a big deal and not everyone who is a friend deserves the trust to be considered part of your inner circle. Friends will betray you. You will do the same at some point. Ask for forgiveness. Learn from it. And forgive others. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean they still need to be in your life, at least not on the same level as they were. You have to decide that for yourself in each situation, but don’t let your heart dictate this without first consulting your head. And do not let anyone misuse or abuse you on any level! Some things can be forgiven and forgotten or at least worked through. Some things cannot. If someone hits you or abuses you once, I promise it will happen again and they should be cut out of your life completely!

Do not ever misuse or abuse anyone else either! I pray that I have instilled this in you. Treat others with respect and even if they use hurtful words, do not use physical means to respond – ever! Now, if someone hits you? You defend yourself! Never start a fight – always finish it. But don’t let rage overtake you. Do what you need to do to stop it and get out of there. Go for help. Stick up for those who cannot stick up for themselves.

You don’t have to get involved in every issue that is going on in the world or around you; you have to decide which injustices you need to get involved in for yourselves, but do stand against some injustice that breaks your heart. And kids, always defend each other! I know you love each other. I know you often do this. Sometimes I wish you did it more. But there is so much love there and a bond that no one else in this world can claim. You two need to hold on to each other in the tough times and be strong for each other when the other is having a hard time. Encourage each other. Love each other. Never turn your back on each other. Even when one of you is wrong, stand firm together.

And stand firm in your faith. The only one who loves you more than I do is the Lord. You can never do anything to make either one of us stop loving you. You’ve both been through so much in your young lives and could easily allow bitterness, anger, or fear take over and control how you think and act. Always try to remember all the good in your life. It may seem like there isn’t much good, but if you look hard enough you’ll find blessings. This is the one time I say to compare yourselves with others. Yes, you have been through more than probably most, but there still are many who have it worse, and many, many more around the world. Find perspective. This will help you find some blessings.

When you think about your circumstances remember that God has you in His hands. My love and your Dad’s love for you surrounds you always. There are still good things left in this harsh world; you’re both proof of that! Don’t build up walls too high that no one can get through, but always guard your heart. Do not be quick to give it away. Once it’s broken (and it will break) give yourself time to heal. The scars will remind you that you are capable of love and able to love again. I already know how much you can both love. You two show me all the time. I pray that I have shown you enough love to make you secure and confident in life. If I haven’t, then please know I am sorry.

You are both so loyal. I love that about you. Loyalty is important. Continue to be loyal. Brave. Be brave, too. The world can be dark and scary, but you can do it afraid. That is being brave. Bravery isn’t doing something once you’re not scared, it’s being scared and doing it anyway. Live life and enjoy the beauty of it. Realize that you’ll never be completely satisfied in this life. That’s a good thing because this life isn’t where it ends. This is only a dot in eternity. You will make mistakes. You will get things wrong. You will intentionally and unintentionally make bad choices. It’s okay. We all do. This is a fallen world and no one gets it right. It’s all about being better and asking for forgiveness, which has already been given to you. Forgiveness was yours before you were born, you need only to accept it.

People will question why you believe in Jesus, and any “god” at all. You won’t really need them to make you question it though because we all do at some point or another. That’s okay. It’s good to question it. Search your heart and do your own research. I pray that I can give you a foundation of why and that the Lord will put strong Christ-followers in your lives to point you in the right direction and pray for you along the way. But for the record, a good starting point is that if a man can predict and pull off his own death and resurrection then maybe we should listen to the rest of what he has to say, don’t you think? Share what you believe with others, but don’t force it on them. Meet people where they are.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you know it isn’t right or you don’t feel comfortable, be strong enough to walk away. Say NO. And on that note – if anyone ever hints at saying no to you about anything then respect it! Don’t push someone into something they aren’t comfortable with. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Do Not stay somewhere that you think may lead to trouble even if everyone else is, even if you want to participate because it seems fun. It is always better to err on the side of caution. It is always better to leave. Because fun is temporary, but consequences are far lasting. Take a stand. Someone else may want to say something, but maybe they are too afraid. They need that nudge, they need you to take a stand. You may lose friends and if you do? Well, then they weren’t the type of friends you needed in the first place. You will find new friends, promise. As you get older your circle of friends will change anyway. But things can go from bad to worse very quickly. It’s easy to get caught up in something and do things that you wouldn’t normally do. I will love you no matter what, but please, take action. Walk away even if you are walking alone. Go early because you never know when things will escalate and you won’t be able to get out of a situation.

Forgive yourself. Don’t let guilt consume you. It can take years away from your life. Guilt is useless. You don’t need to punish yourself over and over and over again.

If you ever find yourself in a bad situation with someone who is trying to bring you to another location: FIGHT like hell! It will be the fight of your life, and you may lose it, but NEVER go anywhere with a stranger (or even someone you know depending on the circumstances and what your gut feeling is telling you). If they tell you to go with them and they won’t hurt you or threaten you in any other way, do NOT listen! They will do worse things to you in another location than what will happen right there, and you will still die. End the fight right there. Do all that you can to fight and get away as quickly as possible, but never, ever surrender!

Listen to your gut feelings. Even if you second guess yourself or think that it’s a silly feeling and there is no logical reason to feel that way: listen to it anyway! We were blessed with intuition for a reason and you should never question it. It could save your life. You may never know if it did or not, but don’t change it. You are both pretty good judges of character, go with it. If you offend someone? Don’t worry about it. They will get over it. If they don’t then there is probably something wrong with them and you need to steer clear of them anyway.

Always tell the truth. It may cause you more trouble at first (in the real world, but here at home, it gets you a little less trouble when you fess up right away), but it will inevitably earn you respect and people will trust you. Respect and trust are vital to living to your full potential, and both are hard to come by these days. This will set you apart from the world around you in a very important way. Now, listen carefully about this. Not everyone wants to hear the truth even if they ask. Tell it anyway, but it’s not only important what you say, but how you say it. Be tactful. It’s something I’m still working on. Truth is always better received if the teller does so in a kind way. Sometimes you don’t need tact. Sometimes people need a cold dose of reality. This is one of those things you will have to determine on a case by case basis, but never compromise your integrity by lying. The truth eventually comes out anyway. Sometimes it takes years, but lies will eat at you and ruin your reputation.

Use the dictionary and thesaurus. If you don’t know what a word means well enough to explain it to someone else then look up the definition. Expand your vocabulary. Go to college. Get a degree. Find something that you are passionate about and pursue it.

Find someone you love and get married, but don’t only marry for love. Love is more than an emotion and any marriage based solely on love will fail. You will have to choose love over and over throughout your marriage. I believe in intentional dating. I did it the wrong way enough to know this is the best way. Make sure you have similar goals, interests, and most importantly – faith! Realize that you are not going to be the half to someone’s whole, nor are you going to complete each other. You need to be a whole person marrying another whole person who decide together to make a covenant with the Lord and each other.

The grass isn’t going to be greener on the other side once another storm hits you over there – and it will! I promise. Find someone who will weather the storms on your side with you. Be that person for them. Don’t live together before you get married. Secular statistics show that your chance of divorce is so much greater if you do. The whole “try before you buy” thing only leads to heartache and baggage. You don’t have to rush life. It’s not meant to be fast-forwarded. The time will pass either way and your choices help to determine if it passes with ease or strife. And yes, my dear children, all good things truly are worth waiting for. That includes sex. There are so many reasons not to have sex before marriage and “because it feels good, you only live once, but we’re in love” are the dumbest reasons and come nowhere close to outweighing the benefits of waiting… Just trust me on that one, okay? 😉

I love you both with all my heart. You are my life. I love you. I cannot say it enough. You cannot hear it enough. You are the greatest blessings I could have ever been given during my time on this earth. Your father counted you both as his greatest accomplishment (his second was serving his country – our country). Don’t forget that he loves you, too. No matter where we are you are loved. I know you love us, too. You showed it enough. I can only pray that I’ve done the same.

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