Let Me Be Your Shelter…

Each will be like a refuge from the wind And a shelter from the storm, Like streams of water in a dry country, Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land. Isaiah 32:3

“Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own scheme, Everybody needs someone beside ’em. Shinin’ like a lighthouse from the sea.” Song: “Brother” by NEEDTOBREATH (Link below)

Coming out of the store a few days ago, I ran into a man I know. He asked me how I am. I made the mistake of actually telling him how I am.

“Where’s the Yvonne I know?”

“She was buried with her daughter. You asked me how I am. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.”

It’s common – or used to be standard fare – for me to answer the “How are you” question with “I’m okay.” But you want to know the raw truth? I’m not okay. I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay. Normal was obliterated on December 24, 2019 at approximately 2p.m. when I discovered my daughter. What I remember is kneeling beside her, praying to hear her heartbeat, holding her hand, kissing her cheek. I didn’t want to leave her. I was there in the beginning, and I didn’t want to leave her at the end. Everything ceased at that moment. I couldn’t tell you how many people came in the shed; I couldn’t tell you what was said. No birds chirping, no wind through the trees, not a sound pierced the tunnel I was in; I don’t know how much time ticked by as I knelt beside her. At that moment, it was just her and me.

Since then many thoughts have barreled through my mind… questions… Did I do enough; did I love enough; did I search enough; did she know how loved she is; did I give enough… so many questions with no answers. For those who know me, my most oft questions begin with “Why.” If I’m told something can’t be done, I respond, “Why?” If someone is angry, “Why?” stumbles out. Why has that been my go to? For me, I always believed if I knew the why, I would know the root cause and therefore, could find a solution, an answer. I ask “why” no more.

Then there came reflection… each person, no matter who they are, wants to feel love, be loved. When we fail to understand that, we lose ourselves to a world filled with ugliness and evil. We find ourselves struggling with life’s storm, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis… We search for a shelter, a lighthouse to guide us back to safety. We search for someone… anyone who knows… yet we so often fail to reach out because we feel no one knows, no one cares, everyone is too busy… Are you that person? Know someone like that? Do you assume that friend, that son or daughter or spouse, that coworker is strong enough because you’ve always seen them as such? That cashier, that person who cut you off while driving; that rival; that person who let their dog poop in your yard; that person sitting in church five rows from you; that person sitting in the theater three seats from you munching loudly on popcorn: that teenager clothed all in black: do you assume they’re not worthy because of the outward actions or appearances? Could they just be jerks and self-absorbed? Absolutely, but that probability doesn’t negate the deeper question: do you ever dive under the surface to learn more? Do you ever consider coming along beside the person to walk the journey of life?

My favorite scene from a movie – my absolute favorite – comes from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” The scene finds Sam crawling to his friend Frodo. The pair had been through fire, battles, floods, near-death experiences; the friends were hungry, bone-weary tired. They were so close to where they needed to be, yet it seemed farther away than it ever had. In this scene, after Sam crawls to his friend, Frodo; he takes him in his arms. He begins speaking to him, “Do you remember the shire Mr. Frodo?” Sam then describes how it will be spring soon; he reminds his friend of all the beauty spring produces in the shire. “Do you remember the taste of strawberries,” he asks. “Yes, Sam.” He continues and tells Sam that there is no veil between him and the ring of fire. Frodo is exhausted to the point where he doesn’t think he can make it, or that he can accomplish the task thrust upon him. Frodo is terrified. “Then let us be rid of it, once and for all,” begins Sam with firm resolve. And there it is, the best line ever to be written or spoken: “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you! Come on!” Sam then picks up Frodo, puts him over his shoulder and carries his friend, Frodo, the rest of the way up that desolate mountain to accomplish the task at hand. One step at a time, he carries his friend.

That scene is my favorite because it is so raw and filled with love… Sam knew he couldn’t do what had been assigned to Frodo, but he knew he could be his shelter at that moment and carry him.

We all need a shelter, a friend, a light to shine so we can find our way in the darkness. First and foremost, that always includes Christ, but in Him we are given a task to help each other, to love each other, to come along beside each other and say, “I can’t carry this for you, but I can carry you.”

The most treasured words my Shelby ever said to me were, “Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for always loving me.” I knew I couldn’t carry her pain, her suffering, but I could come along beside her, take her hand, and when necessary, carry her. Now she is held by the only one who loves her more: her Savior, Christ Jesus.

But have I done the same for others? Have I rejected a person before diving deeper; have I dismissed someone God put in my path; have I done enough to be a shelter for someone else? Please don’t comment on the questions I’ve asked myself, because the questions are for me to answer. Instead, ask yourself the questions.

One of the many thoughts that have blown through my mind as a hurricane wind blowing through an old oak is what now do I do? My precious Shelby always felt so alone, so isolated, as if no one understood, no one knew. Maybe if I had been more open during our journey to family, friends, anyone, she might not have felt this way. I don’t know, because as much as I want to, I can’t go back. I can’t change what was; I can only move forward and pray that I have the strength to be a shelter to all who God puts in my path, and when the opportunity arises, I pray I have the strength to say, “I can’t carry your burden, but I can carry you.”

Who has God put in your path? Who do you know who needs shelter? Who do you know who needs to be carried?

All of us need shelter from time to time. If you can’t find that shelter, message me, I will be that shelter with God’s strength.

https://sofmissions.org/

https://laurenskids.org/

 

 

 

His name shall be…

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14.

Twenty years ago… on this day 20 years ago, I was introduced to the most amazing human being. When you meet a person for the first time, you may not like the person and you can choose to walk away from the person. However, when God declares, “This is your child,” the choice is far different. Let’s be honest, sometimes you don’t like your children. You may love them, but you don’t like them. Or maybe, they aren’t the child you wished for but there they are nonetheless. On March 9, 2000, God introduced me to my second child.

Thursday afternoon, after a hard labor, I met my son: 11 pounds, 4 ounces. Being from a family of all girls – five sisters, two nieces and my own girl, this boy was a first. His sister, Shelby, emphatically told me nine months earlier upon learning she would have a sibling, “God is going to give me a brother.” This sweet daughter of mine believed God would give her a brother. I told her the baby would be a girl because well, that’s just the way it was in our family. “No, God is going to give me a brother.” Such faith… so I bet her a dollar the baby would be a girl. When I called her from the hospital, my first words to her were, “I owe you a dollar.” Immediately she knew what that meant and squealed with the delight of having known all along. Such faith…

From that moment, my life was immeasurably blessed with this incredible human being. Moments of sheer joy he would bring me; the way he would make me wonder in amazement; the way he would light up my face with a laugh; the way he would make me wonder at his imagination that was always on full display; the way he would try me sometimes with his stubbornness… he was and continues to be a source of joy and pride. But most of all, I am amazed at the purity that is his heart.

The love he has for his Shelby, never saying a bad word against her, always loving her unconditionally.

The way his incredibly awesome dyslexic mind works… one day driving to an appointment – one of many – when he was a teenager, after the Parkland shooting, he said to me in the car, “This story came across my newsfeed.” First, I was just totally impressed with the fact he had a news feed, and then actually read the article. He told me the story of teenagers who were protesting guns, describing a poster one girl held that read, “Kids shouldn’t be afraid to go to school.”  With a tinge of sadness in his voice, he said, “They shouldn’t be afraid to go to school but they are and not because of guns, but because of bullies.” I was blown away. “This kid gets it,” I thought.

Sitting in his car seat in the back seat, saying, “Play country.” The cue to put on some George Strait. Watching him move his head and hands to the beat to “Blue Clear Sky” always brought me a smile.

When he stood up in the restaurant and started dancing when “Jump” by Van Halen came over the speaker… not caring who saw him, he just had to dance.

The way he would get back up whenever he fell, finding a way to get to where he wanted to be.

The way he took my hand to walk down the aisle with him to accept Christ as his Savior.

The way he would pray for Shelby and peace.

The way he would let me hold his hand, even now, he doesn’t pull his hand away.

The way he can remember stats while I’m still trying to learn positions.

The way he looks up at the night sky with wonder and amazement, even now.

The way he sends me photos of a North Carolina sunset, reminding me of God’s beauty.

The way he honors his future wife by desiring to wait for her while the world tells him differently.

The way he and Shelby would play, talk, watch movies together, creating a bond stronger than steel.

The way he seeks to do the right thing, and when he blows it, tries to make amends.

That smile that graces his face… that smile that brings such happiness in seeing it.

While life downright sucks sometimes, this human being who God blessed to give to me as my son, has brought more joy, more laughter, more silly moments, more pride than I deserve. So on this day, I am forever grateful for Shelby’s faith, for God’s goodness, and for the son he gave to me. His name is Garren Daniel Harper. Garren for his Papa who had only girls; Daniel to stand before the fire; Harper for his Dad. This young man is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, and such a blessing as declared in God’s word.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

Happy Birthday, my son. I love you bigger than the sky.

 

The Long and Winding Road

In 2013, Shelby asked me to write our story. Although finished in 2017, I was unsure what to do with it until now. Instead of seeking to publish it through traditional means, I have decided to post it here and a chapter will be added along the way. Maybe if I’d been bolder about our story then, we wouldn’t be here now. However, the past can never be changed, only how we choose to proceed. Please share as you feel led. It has not been professionally edited, so please forgive any grammatical mistakes.

Reminder: our story encompasses a brief period of time, and reflects what was being felt at that time by us. It is not a reflection of anyone or anything other than what we – the four of us – were experiencing at that time.

This is the prologue; to read the story in its entirety, click on menu and select The Long and Winding Road.

 

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD

  By Yvonne C. Harper

Dedicated to Shelby D. Harper

The Long and Winding Road: Keep Walking

It happens in everyone’s life: A moment that sends you crashing to your knees. Not falling… not kneeling… not bowing, but a crash that comes with knowing that you have been thrust onto a path not of your choosing.

For me, that moment came in June 2008.

My daughter was in Florida; my son was at school; my husband was on some ocean sailing on a steel boat the size of several football fields. I returned to our fewer than 900 square feet home in the afternoon. I had worked that morning and so far, it had been a good day. I had about an hour before Garren would get out of school. I sat down at my small desk to email Paul when I noticed the blinking message light on the phone. I pushed the play button. A simple one sentence, “Call me when you get this message.” I looked at the time knowing it was early morning in Florida.  I wasn’t too worried as I dialed the number to Shelby’s best friend’s mom. Those few seconds it took to connect the call, and then for Mary to answer were the last few seconds of peace our family would know for a while. The words that drifted over the miles through the lines of communication shattered whatever normalcy existed in a Navy family. Six words was all it took:

“Shelby was raped when she was 11,” were the words that sent me crashing to me knees.

Paul and I made the decision to send her home for the summer as a reprieve. She was 14, three years after we had moved to Japan in July 2005. Japan: A beautiful country we had lived before and eager to return to given Paul was to be deployed for most of the year. When deciding where to go next, Japan was an easy choice: it was safe… or so we thought.

We arrived in the middle of summer. Upon stepping out of the airport, we were immediately enveloped in a humid, sticky heat that stems from an area brimming with people, cars, trains and industry. The children were tired, as was I having made the journey from Florida to Japan via Alabama and Washington without Paul, as he had left Florida in March. A familiar face greeted us from our days on Guam. Our friend retrieved us, our many bags and loaded us in his van – and unbeknownst to me at the time, the journey into the abyss began.

Had I known the journey that awaited us, I would have turned around and boarded the plane back to Florida, but life isn’t like that… life is taking one step at a time moving forward – so that’s what we did – moved forward to start a new chapter in our lives.

However, at that time I was merely eager to get the two-hour drive to the base done so we could check into the Navy Lodge, find a bite to eat and drift into sleep that I knew would be interrupted at 2 a.m. because my body was still on Florida time. But I was comforted by the knowledge that although we arrived without being able to greet Paul, we would see him soon enough in September.

The days that followed were filled with activities that accompany military life be it across the state, across the country or around the world. Carrying records to medical, dental, schools; sitting in indoctrination; taking a drivers license test that would mean I was the “professional” driver in a country filled with “amateurs.” Buying a vehicle, registering, titling and insuring the vehicle; moving from the lodge to military housing one third the size of the home we’d left; receiving our belongings and unpacking boxes, deciding where it all should go.

I didn’t need much help because I’d been doing this since I was 18 and knew the process. I am also quite independent and stubborn, reluctant to ask for help and be perceived as “that kind of wife.” The kind that couldn’t do anything for herself… that was most assuredly not me so headlong I plunged into the life of living overseas again with no friends, no contacts, no job – just me and my two children, an 11-year-old beautiful and tender-hearted girl, and a 5-year-old energetic, good-hearted boy.  

The move was hardest on my daughter. Moves were always hard for her – she dreaded leaving behind what was familiar as well as hand of friendship. When she found that friend, she latched on and remained loyal. This explains why she waited three years to tell her secret… waited until she was in familiar territory, in the sanctuary of her friend’s room.

But in that hot month of July, I never would’ve have imagined what path awaited us as we began our journey in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Grace…

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Grace… five letters combined to form a word that is so small yet so profound and filled with meaning and love. It seems that in today’s world, we have so little grace toward each other. It seems that way even within the Christian community as well.

I always thought I understood grace. Grace: the ability to show love and kindness to someone wholly undeserving, as Christ exemplified grace when He willingly sacrificed himself for the whole of humanity, even though we are the most undeserving lot. And this is grace on the biggest scale of all, but what does grace look like in the smallest of acts. Again, I thought I understood grace, but it wasn’t until December 24, 2019 that grace smacked me upside the head, knocked me out and helped me back up again, even if at this point I’m only on my knees and not fully standing yet.

God’s grace was there in so many ways… His grace allowed me and my husband to find our daughter. I know it seems all wrong on the surface because wouldn’t God’s grace have kept her hand from pulling the trigger? The short answer is yes, but even if He doesn’t… this is a conversation for another day. That day, we found our daughter, not a stranger… the two people who love her more than any other humans, except maybe her brother. She could have left; she could have been in another state, she could have been anywhere else other than home. God’s grace allowed us to be there in the beginning when she entered this world, and to be there in the end, when she left this world. There’s more grace there than I deserve.

God’s grace was there when a sergeant with the sheriff’s office heard the call go out and even though it wasn’t his call, he came. Not because he could do anything for her, but because he knew us. He knew me, my husband, and our daughter. It’s hard to explain, but when I saw him, there was comfort there because he cared enough to come comfort us even though he knew he couldn’t help her, his presence helped me.

God’s grace was the law enforcement personnel and the… I can’t remember the title, but the woman who came to sit with us, to explain the process to us… her and the law enforcement personnel who came to work the scene. Their compassion, the way they spoke to me and my husband. They weren’t judgemental. They didn’t grill us about what we could’ve, should’ve done. There were questions that had to be asked of course, but in the asking, the grace was there in the way they dealt with us.

God’s grace showed up later that night when my oldest sister rang the doorbell and just hugged us. When she learned of her niece’s death, she got in her car and drove six hours just to hug us, cry with us, pray with us. Although we welcomed her to stay, she didn’t.

God’s grace showed up when two men from our church came that night. One is the music director with whom our daughter loved, and whose family embraced Shelby and took her in as one of their own. He was the one who married Shelby and her husband almost two years earlier. The other young man did not know Shelby, but he knew her brother. Their tears flowed with ours, and their prayers saw us through the night.

God’s grace was exemplified when I had called my closest friend earlier that afternoon and asked if she could go to our son who had remained at school for the holiday break. I didn’t want him to be alone when I told him of his sister’s death. Without a moment’s hesitation, she drove the six hours north. Telling my son of Shelby’s death… I knew his life would never be the same. I dreaded that moment… we had been through so much as a family and he loves his sister with a love that can only be described as unconditional. The sound that emanated from his soul when the words hit his ears… As his mom, it utterly broke what was left of my heart to know that there wasn’t anything I could do to take away his pain, but my friend was there. She was there to comfort, to hold, to take him to her home so we could get him the next day. God’s grace showed up in her love for my son and our family.

God’s grace showed up when my family surrounded me with their love, their hugs, their tears… at different times, my sisters came, my mom came, my dad and second mom came… our son’s cousins came. Each in their own way helped carry the emptiness and the excruciating pain that filled our hearts.

God’s grace was there in the form of another dear friend who drove an hour to come take me to church the Sunday after Shelby died. Sitting next to me, she held my hand… she too loved our Shelby.

God’s grace showed up in the details of planning Shelby’s funeral, from a dear family friend who helped with the writing of the obituary to the admiral who approved the burial to the fly over at her funeral. The funeral home staff… the grace they showed in their handling of every detail.

God’s grace was on full display in each person who attended her funeral, from those who knew Shelby to those who did not, but wanted our family to know they cared, they were praying… it seems a small thing to attend a funeral, but for me, it meant everything that without being asked to attend, they came.

In the days that followed, God’s grace was there in the cards, phone calls, messages, flowers we received. God’s grace was there when I was told of a person – who not too long ago had been so unkind for reasons unknown – reached out to let me know he too understood because he had buried his son. God’s grace allowed me to see past the surface and to see this man’s heart, and in so doing, I have come to appreciate this person for his willingness to share his story and the memory of his son with me.

The shed that held Shelby’s final moments – one we had been planning to take down but hadn’t done yet… God’s grace was there when I asked a friend for his help… without hesitation, he reached out to another who allowed him to borrow the equipment to help with its removal. He spent three days helping us remove the shed. The first day, three other friends were there to help as well. The second day, when he came, I was sitting in the partial shed, looking at the piece of wood that still bore the blood stains of Shelby. I asked him if he could help me remove that section before proceeding any further. I can’t explain it, but I didn’t want anything to fall on that section. I didn’t know what I was going to do with that section yet, but I knew at that moment I had to get it out. He smiled and said, “okay.” He didn’t judge; he didn’t tell me not to. With grace, he said okay.

God’s grace was there when the young man who helps with our yard – if you could call it that at this point – offered the use of his trailer to haul away the shed. He not only allowed us the use of the trailer, but took the debris away – three loads. This young man also helped with our dogs when we had to go to California later to go through Shelby’s belonging and bring back her car.

God’s grace was there when another friend also helped us with our dogs. More than that, she listened, prayed, cried with… she went with me to get Shelby’s belongings that had been collected the night of her death.

Through the compassion of another sargeant who helped me through the process of collecting Shelby’s belongings and retrieving the incident report, God’s grace was there.

Through another friend, God’s grace opened doors to help I need to move forward. This man has allowed God to work through him to create an organization to help veterans (sofmissions.org)

God’s grace is abundantly evident in my husband… this man who I am wholly undeserving of has held me, prayed with me, wiped my tears and snot, has read the Bible with me, has taken my hand, has set aside his own grieve to give to me… God’s grace comes through everyday through my husband.

There were a million other ways God’s grace has appeared since December 24, 2019.  So while it may seem  that God turned His back on us that day, He did not… He turned His face upon us and provided grace and a peace that surpasses all understanding, but of all the acts of grace we were the recipients of, the most precious one of all is the grace Christ gave at the cross, because that grace – through His love and mercy – means I will see my Shelby again, and she is finally at peace in His arms and then enemy can no longer touch her.

How Long Does it Take to Process?

To read this email chain in order, start from bottom and read up. To date, no response has been received from U.S. Representative Gaetz. 

Re: Sexaul Assault and Military

Jan 16 at 5:21 AM

Yvonne Harper 
To: Matt Gaetz 
Good morning, Mr. Gaetz.

Three years ago I sent an an email with our story. You replied stating your service on the Armed Service Committee may help you bring some good out of our story. It’s been three years; I’ve heard nothing. An update to our story is that on December 24, 2019 – Christmas Eve Day – our daughter, age 25, took her own life. She would’ve been 26 years old on January 7.

I have thought back to our time in Japan and when we first learned of her rape. I can’t help but wonder if things would’ve been different if we had been told of Dr. Amerson when I asked if there was a child psychologist and told there was none. By the time we learned of Dr. Amerson and Shelby started to work with him – and make progress – it was just a couple of short months before he was deployed. If we hadn’t been lied to, and we were told about Dr. Amerson in the summer of 2008, she would’ve had almost a year working with him.

I can’t help but wonder if the incompetent doctor who prescribed trazadone had instead taken the time to actually listen to her and us, instead of blaming her father and quickly prescribing her a medication that should never have been prescribed to her – as was told to me when we returned to Florida in May 2009. The first thing her doctor said is, “She should never have been prescribed this medication.” He immediately began taking her off. The reason is it is used to treat major depression which she did not have, and the effects of it on a developing brain can have long-term adverse effects.

I can’t help but wonder if the licensed-counselor on base had been more concerned with actually helping her instead of having her listen to a video about how all she needed to do was to put good thoughts in the universe and good things would happen. As if telling a rape survivor that putting good thoughts in the universe in order to have good things happen is ever good, because what that tells the survivor is she didn’t put enough good thoughts in the universe, therefore, that’s why she was raped.

I can’t help but wonder if she had actually gotten the RIGHT help in the beginning, if the ending would’ve been different.

I know you are busy and my daughter’s life is inconsequential to you because she was just a daughter of a man who honorably served this nation for 30 years, and a daughter of a woman who honorably served as well. She didn’t make headlines; she isn’t the child of some high and powerful member of Congress or the rich and famous. She merely gave everything during her childhood up to when she graduated high school as her father served this nation in the United States Navy.

So now I’m left wondering, does it matter now? Is it important to you now to do something? I mean actually do something that will help other children who silently serve, and were never asked to serve, but do so because of their parents. Now that she is dead, is it now important?

Yvonne C. Harper
Navarre, FL
850-910-1572

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

On Sunday, January 22, 2017, 5:11:21 PM CST, Yvonne Harper <ycharper@yahoo.com> wrote:
Thank you for your time and feedback, Congressman Gaetz. If I can be of service in the process, please let me know.
Again, thank you.
Yvonne

Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 22, 2017, at 4:32 PM, Matt Gaetz <matt@mattgaetz.com> wrote:
Yvonne –

I can’t imagine the courage it must have taken to reduce this to writing.  My service on the Armed Services committee may help me bring some good out of this.  Let me think and process how to best address some of these structural challenges.

Matt


From: Yvonne Harper 
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:55 PM
To: Matt Gaetz
Subject: Sexaul Assault and Military

Good evening, Congressman Gaetz.

First, congratulations on being seated as the Representative for Northwest Florida.

I spoke with you regarding sexual assault in the military, specifically family members. You asked me to send you details. I did not at that time because I was not sure how it would be received. My family’s story is not one I often tell; it is personal in a way one cannot understand unless one having gone through it.

My daughter asked me to write our story. I finished the story – I am sending it to you. I know you are busy. I know there are many pressing for your time. If you can, please read the attached story. If after, this is something you wish to proceed with – fighting to improve a system that serves only to check a box and provide nice sound bites – I would be truly humbled.

Thank you,

Yvonne C. Harper
850-910-1572

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

Nothing More Than I Can Bear

“There hath no temptation taken hold of you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 

I Corinthians 10:13

December 24, 2019: it began as any other day really. Coffee, letting out the dogs, deciding the grocery list for Christmas dinner. Nothing out of the unusual. Our daughter awoke, put in a load of clothes in the washer. I asked her if she’d like to drive around to look at Christmas lights that evening. She got that childlike smile and replied, “I’d like that very much.” I was excited about her and I doing what had been an annual tradition. However, as with all traditions, sometimes time and space interrupt them. This had been one of them. Our daughter had married almost two years earlier and was with her husband, who was stationed in San Diego. Our son, for this Christmas, had decided to stay at school. It would be the first Christmas without our two children together so I was already feeling a bit off… so the idea of driving around looking at lights, listening to Christmas music with my daughter took on a new sense of joy.

Our daughter had been home since early November. We had spent Thanksgiving together: the last time we were together has a family – me, my husband, our daughter and our son.

Deciding upon Christmas dinner, I asked my daughter if she needed anything from the store. She gave me a couple of items, and per my usual reply, I asked her to text me the items because I’d be sure to forget. I asked her if she’d like to come; she replied she did not. As we left, she saw us to the door. We hugged each other. “I love you,” she said. “I love you too, hon.” She stood in the doorway as we left.

Ninety minutes later, we arrived home, turned off the house alarm. I went to our daughter’s room; she wasn’t there. Looking into the back yard, I saw the shed door open. This was not unusual as sometimes the wind blew open the door. Not thinking anything about it, I went outside to close the door. Upon entering the shed, I saw my daughter lying on the floor. I knew…

Screaming something unintelligible, I ran to my husband. Ran into the house to get the phone. My husband called 911, I went back to the shed, still screaming, “No!” I knelt down beside her. I knew… blood pooled around her head, gun laying by her right hand, her eyes half open. I took her hand, it was already cooling. “No, no, no…” was the mantra. Placing my head on her chest, I prayed, “Please God, oh please, no…” All I wanted to hear at that moment was her heart, but the organ that pumped life through her veins was forever still. I don’t know how long I knelt beside my daughter, holding her hand, kissing her cheek, placing my head on her chest, before my husband and a law enforcement officer pulled me away. One on each side, each taking an elbow, pulled me up, walking me out of the shed.

The light that had been my daughter was darkened, never to shine again on this earth.

The ensuing days were filled with the usual activity that surrounds the sudden death of a loved one. Family and friends came, the funeral arrangements were made, we buried our daughter. The usual words were said, “I’m sorry for your loss;” “Be strong;” “Fill the emptiness with her memories.” All meaningless, albeit well meaning.  It was during this time, those first days I came to truly understand the verse that opens this post. I learned how wrong I was. First, I had been wrong in its meaning for many years. I used to believe that God doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle regarding the trials we face in this life. Then I thought, “Well, He does because He doesn’t want us handling anything; He wants us to give it to Him.” Then I realized as I prepared for my daughter’s burial, that the verse has nothing to do with the trials and tribulations we face in life.

The verse, when read in context, refers to temptations not trials. There is no temptation that we face that is bigger than we can handle because God is bigger than any temptation, be it drinking, spending more time watching television instead of spending time with family, smoking, pornography… whatever that temptation is, it won’t be so big that we can’t overcome it because when we have Christ, He will deliver us when we earnestly seek Him.

It was then I understood the appropriate verse during these times is not the oft repeated paraphrase, “God won’t give you anything more than you can handle,” because burying my daughter who killed herself on Christmas Eve was definitely more than I could handle. It still is… So now, I remind myself of the appropriate verse that His grace is sufficient for me.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9.

All the Presidents’… Flaws

Disclosure: Contains foul language.

A recent Instagram photo is making its way around the wonderful world of the internet via social media. It can be viewed here https://www.instagram.com/p/B4c5a7klDpx/?igshid=bfz45gjc6vei&fbclid=IwAR2Vs43TOEw_LieRQ2BebXurh9LXPcPdRKS09TIlwiS-ZLMdCuUP1vcQq3Y.

“Oh Lord, please… Keep this vulgar, pussy grabbing, wife cheating, porn star fucking, pathological liar, as our Evangelical Leader…”

The language on a photo of individuals praying over President Trump. The topic of this post is not the prayer, it is the description of the president. What struck me as amusing is that the photo of President Trump could be swapped with many U.S. presidents and the description would be just as apropos.

Let’s take Barack Obama. He was the king of pathological liars. The following link documents the many lies, and other oft-ignored actions, of the former president: https://freedomoutpost.com/1063-documented-examples-of-barack-obamas-lying-lawbreaking-corruption-cronyism-hypocrisy-waste-etc/. Obama’s ability to smoothly speak and manipulate the media through his charm and good looks enabled him to escape the most scathing of reporting. Yes, the media covered Obama’s lies to an extent, but only marginally, and nothing like how it covers President Trump. If the media reported on Obama the way it does Trump, Obama wouldn’t have had a second term. Obama was also known for his use of profane language.

Bill Clinton: Pussy grabbing, wife cheating, pathological liar – under-oath liar – and rapist (my addition), yet… cue birds chirping, crickets playing their sad tune to an empty forest.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Vulgar, pussy grabbing and all-around racist. I do believe this president is number one when it comes to being a disgusting human being. He was notorious for vulgar behavior, e.g. making water while a female present. In other words, he whipped out his penis, aimed it at a corner washbasin and unloaded his bladder while giving dictation to a female secretary – yes, she was right there in the office. He relished, enjoyed shocking people with such behavior and this behavior was definitely not a secret. He treated his wife as a servant, and other women as commodities to be fondled and screwed at will. Oh, and theft of seat – yes, not even stealing an election was too low for this man who would become president. As for Vietnam, I’ll just let that one be since it goes without saying he has the blood of thousands on his hands for that “conflict” because he didn’t have the courage to go before Congress to actually have war declared, and he was a wuss once committing American troops and did everything he could to ensure America did not win. Read The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume III by Robert A. Caro for all the details of this boor’s ill behavior.

John F. Kennedy: My favorite serial womanizer and wife-cheater. And lest it only be that, he would never have been elected president if it weren’t for the mafia. Yes, the same mafia his brother targeted is the one and same that ensured his election. But hey, he was assassinated so he gets a pass on every wrong deed.

Other presidents who belong to the wife-cheating club: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Warren Harding, and Grover Cleveland.

Presidents who allegedly cheated on their wives or grabbed themselves some booty: G.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, and Dwight Eisenhower.

Point? We elect imperfect people to be the president. I do not support any of the aforementioned actions, but it does amuse me when people suddenly find their moral compass. Of course, it’ll last as long as Trump is president and then it will find itself back in the bottom drawer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to Black Female Airman

Open Letter to Airman who sat During Colors and Raised Her Fist:

This is a letter to the young black American woman who video-taped herself sitting during colors and then raised her fist at Naval Air Station, Pensacola: the Cradle of Naval Aviation. Her statement that bodies are lining the street and she’ll stand when America has her back followed her stance.

This letter is to her. As a young black American woman, she erroneously feels America owes her something, that America should have her back. Not only is her position steeped with lies, her position shows an utter lack of knowledge of history.

When a person, of any color, male or female, voluntarily – of their own accord – joins the United States military, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution and to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Nowhere in that oath are the words, “… only if America has my back.” The United States Navy is there to have America’s back, not the other way around.

She also stated, “I don’t not respect the men and women who serve — who I serve alongside.” My message to her is her respect – or lack of respect by her actions – is irrelevant because she was afforded respect long before she was borne.

Bigger than her egocentric ignorance is, regardless of the oath she took, this young woman – when she sat there and raised her fist – spat in my face and all the hundreds – thousands – of women – of all color – who served before her. Women who served in a time when women faced real discrimination, not perceived discrimination. Those women made it possible for me to serve, and as such for her to serve.

I served during a time of few women in a male dominated rate. During my first “A” school, I marched to class with the “I wish all the ladies… (repeated by the all) were pies on a shelf… (repeated by all) and I was a baker… (repeated by all) I’d eat’em all myself…” With other cadence lines of similar nature following.

During this same period, I was told by my first class instructor that if I didn’t sleep with him, he’d make my life hell. And hell he made my life because I did not sleep with him.

At one command, my LPO called me in his office and told me he wanted me to live with him and watch his daughter. I refused, and life was not easy at work.

At each command, I had to prove myself as a woman – not a sailor – but as a woman. Each command I was greeted with the mentality that I was like the “other” women, and if they happened to be the kind of sailor who whined or couldn’t pull their load, I was determined to be as such. I had to prove two things: that as a woman, I could work just as hard as the men, and that as a sailor, I was just as worthy to wear the uniform because I could – and did – carry my weight, and toolbox.

At my first command, I had the misfortune – and stupidity – of dating an abusive sailor. When I ended up at medical with a bruised face, I was asked what happened… I told the doctor what happened. The next day, I sat in front of my (female) Division Officer (LT) who said to me, “Well, you deserved what you got.” No action was taken against this sailor.

Yet through it all, I never thought America was bad or that I was owed anything. I succeeded, I worked hard, I did what I had to do… and I followed the UCMJ.

This is the history this young woman is missing. So when she sat there, videotaping herself sitting during morning colors, raising her fist – and then posting it online – she spat on my service, because it was my service and the women who served before and after me who made her service possible. I served before this young woman was even born.

The (female) Chief, who served as my Company Commander in boot camp, served well before this young woman’s parents even met. To have been a female United States Navy Chief in 1988 would have been no small feat, yet because of her, I could serve. Because I served, others could serve and as the years went by, the path became less filled with grenades, thorns and holes… for what? So this young woman could sit on a bench during colors with fist raised on a Naval Air Station in 2016.

Discrimination: she doesn’t have a clue.

As far as the bodies lining the streets: the majority of the bodies are put there by other people of like color, not the police. Oppression: she can’t begin to know the meaning of the word.

And the saddest part of all is the United States Navy has become so politically correct, this sailor will not be held accountable for her actions as she will be allowed to transfer to her next command… according to the PAO, they are more concerned with educating sailors about the perils of social media, not the UCMJ, and it will continue until the U.S. Navy gets tested and fails… and ships sunk… and lives – of all color – are killed because of the lack of leadership and accountability the U.S. Navy now holds as the standard.

Rise Up…

For those who prefer non-political posts, this one will serve as the intermission between Freedom: A Messy Thing Pt 1 and Pt 2.

“When you see the road ahead
That you’ve been down before
When you’re halfway to nowhere
And you can’t pay the toll

You’re hanging onto mercy
Withered on the vine
With your feet on the ground, your head in the clouds
And your heart on the line

Open up your eyes…

You’ve got to rise up, rise up
When this life has got you down
You’ve got to look up, look up
When you search and nothing’s found
My eyes have seen the glory of the love that’s here and now
It’s coming down
So rise up now.”

Matt Maher,  Rise Up

There was a time, not so long ago, that our family experienced a trial that was bathed in fire, seemingly without end.

There were more nights than I could count that saw me in my closet, with the door closed, on my knees, head down, tears streaming and all that I could muster was a feeble cry out to my Lord.

In a room not far from mine was my daughter, struggling with the weight of the evil that had visited her so many nights before. My child, whom I would freely give up my life for, was fighting for her life. Her nights were not filled with peaceful sleep, but nightmares I could not erase. The feeling of complete and utter helplessness engulfed everyday of our lives.

In those moments, on my knees, my God, my Savior held her and this family together. He never promised a life free from pain, but He promised to never leave us, and never leave us He did. When I was at the bottom and had nothing left to give, His strength was there and through His grace and love, I was able to face each day.

I was able to hold my daughter in those moments she had flashbacks and only she could see the images. I was able to wipe away the tears and love her, hug her. Because our Savior lives, we were able to come through the fire with a faith tested and stronger than before.

So for those who are struggling at this moment, know the One who created you, knows yours pain and will walk this life with you, and in those moments when you can’t take another step, He will carry you through.

And if you need someone to listen, to pray with, message me…

“Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

So rise up, rise up.

Freedom: a Messy Thing (Pt 1)

Freedom: The state of being free, exemption from the power and control of another; liberty; independence. (Webster Dictionary, 1875)

The U.S Constitution was ratified in 1789, two years after the summer of 1787 that produced the Constitution after nearly two months of debates in a sweltering room in Philadelphia. At the conclusion of the convention, it was left to the men of the time to debate the merits of the Constitution. The most comprehensive review of the Constitution and its purpose is found in the Federalist Papers penned by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, and published under the name Publius.

Within the 85 published papers, all items found within the U.S. Constitution are discussed at length.

Federalist No. 1, published October 27, 1787 begins with, “After a full experience in the insufficiency of the existing federal government, you are invited to deliberate upon a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world.

The last one, Federalist No. 85, published August 13 and 16, 1788 begins with, “According to the formal division of the subject of these papers, announced in my first number, there would appear still to remain for discussion two points: “the analogy of the proposed government to your own State constitution,” and “the additional security which its adoption will afford to republican government.

The U.S. Constitution begins with the Preamble written by Gouverneur Morris: “We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

And there it is, the purpose of of the U.S. Constitution.

Many leaders of the day would not support ratifying the U.S. Constitution unless it included a Bill of Rights. There were 12 amendments proposed, with only ten being ratified on December 15, 1791.

Alexander Hamilton argued against including a Bill of Rights in Federalist No. 84. His argument was that a Bill of Rights was wholly unnecessary and would be dangerous. “They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?

He continued to make the point that declaring a Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution would allow men predisposed to usurping power a plausible pretense to claim such power, because if it is in the U.S. Constitution as a “right,” it is therefore plausible that the U.S. Federal government has the authority to regulate such rights, to the point of entirely removing them from the people.

He, along with the other participants in the writing of the Constitution, stated that the U.S. Constitution’s was to limit the power of government, not the power of the people; which is why the U.S. Constitution begins with “We, the People.

However, for other men such as Thomas Jefferson, there would be no support for its ratification unless a Bill of Rights was added during the First Congress. Jefferson wanted to ensure the government in no way could restrict or deny certain basic rights.

These early men were students of history and philos0phy and many of them believed in John Locke’s theory of natural rights that declared men are not borne to be subject to a king but are borne with certain inalienable rights that chief among them are life, liberty and property. In other words, men were borne with rights granted to them by their creator.  Locke, also a student of history and an observer of his time, knew that when government in any form has the power to grant rights, it has the power to remove rights, leaving the people subjects of the government, and not free to live their lives as they deem best.

In the end, the likes of Jefferson and his peers ruled the day because the promise was made that a Bill of Rights would be added to the U.S. Constitution through the amendment process. It is important to stress here that the Bill of Rights restricts the government, not the people. These amendments are:

I. Freedom of press, religion, assembly and speech.

II. The right of the people to keep and bare arms.

III. The right of the people to not have troops quartered in their homes.

IV. The right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures of property (privacy).

V. The right to due process.

VI. The right to a speedy and fair trial.

VII. The right to a trial by jury.

VIII. The right against excessive bail or fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.

IX. The rights listed in the Constitution shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.

X. The right of the states and people, respectively, to retain all powers not delegated to the United Stated by the Constitution.

Key words that need to be highlighted is that each amendment states that the noted “right” in each cannot be denied by the U.S. government. Amendment X clearly states that all power not delegated to the U.S. government are retained by the states and people.

The structure of power begins at the bottom, with the people. Think of a pyramid. The biggest part of a pyramid is the bottom, and that is where all the power is to rest. The people then decide which power to delegate to the states. This would be the middle part of the pyramid. The top of pyramid and the smallest part is the U.S. government and it contains the powers delegated to it by the states.

The way it is now is more like an inverted pyramid with the biggest part at the top, or the U.S. government. The states and the people have, unfortunately, ceded much of their power to the U.S. government and as such, have very little. And the saddest part is many Americans would willingly give up their rights as to not offend or to have a bit of temporary safety.

Now that the foundation has been laid, please continue to Part II.

A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost, is lost forever.” John Adams, July 7, 1775