Monday, July 5, 2021

Happy Birthday Goregous!

Happy Birthday to my favorite person in the world!  We've had such an adventure over the past year and I can't wait to see what the future brings.  I'm looking forward to spending all your many mores with you!

Here's to the fun.  Here's to us.  Here's to you and to many more returns ahead.

Love you!  To the ends of the earth...

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Happy Father's Day 2021!

"The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature."
Atoine Francois-Prevost

I am very grateful for the great example that I have in a father. On this day we set aside to remember, the most important thing I can say is thank you. Love you Dad! And Avalyn and Jude Love their PapaRock! We look forward to seeing you in a few days.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Juneteenth 2021

 "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, 'all slaves are free.'"

June 19, 1865

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued Proclamation 95, an executive order intended to go into effect on January 1, 1863.  The Proclamation would become known as the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing some 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in Confederate states.  

Though the proclamation would be mailed and telegraphed across the country, there would be parts of the Confederacy that would refuse manumission, that is, they would refuse to free their enslaved people despite the order.  Texas was one such state.  The enslaved would not be freed until over two years later, when the Union army reached Galveston.  Union Army General Gordon Granger would announce the proclamation above, informing Texas that all enslaved were free.  

Though all enslaved African Americans would not be freed until the passing of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, June 19 became a day of celebration in Texas.  Juneteenth.  Emancipation Day.  Jubilee Day.  Celebrations started as early as 1866 and spread across the South.  Though the celebrations became quiet during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights era, they experienced a resurgence in the 1970s and in many states the day has become a state holiday.  There is a push now for the day to be a federal holiday.

Though Texans of all stripes probably know about Juneteenth, they may not know why it is celebrated or what it celebrates.  Americans, in general are learning as well.  Congress has made Juneteenth a federal holiday just this year, with President Biden signing the law into effect on June 17, 2021.

If anything, for a large portion of particularly white America, today highlights how badly history has been taught to us.  And we are seeing across several states attempts to keep our ignorance in this area high.

About Emmitt Till.

Or the Tulsa massacre of Black Wall Street, where white rioters tore through the Greenwood district of Tulsa following a misunderstood altercation between a black male shoeshiner and a white female elevator operator.  The riots led to the National Guard being called in.  Estimates of include up to 300 dead, 800 people admitted to hospitals, 6,000 black residents interned at large facilities for several days.  10,000 black people were left homeless and property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate.  

The Tuskegee Experiments in which African American sharecroppers were used as experiments in order to observe syphilis in African American men.  The program started 1932 and involved 600 participants.  Of the participants, 399 had latent syphilis.  The other 201 were used as a control group.  Those with syphilis were not told they had the disease, only that they were being treated for bad blood.  They were only given placebos, so that the scientists could explore the full range of effects on syphilis on the patients.  The experiments continued until 1972.

About COINTELPRO, the covert and illegal projects conducted by the FBI to discredit political organizations like the Black Power movement, leading to the assassination of Fred Hampton.

About Redlining.

About the Lost Year in Arkansas education, where the governor of Arkansas closed all the white schools following the integration of Little Rock Central High School.   With the view that it would be better for white children to get no education that to share the classroom with a Black child.

The police bombing the MOVE house in a residential neighborhood in Philadelphia in 1985.

And so, so much more.  

Or even learning about more positive points in history.  

Like Madam CJ Walker, the first self-made millionaire in America, an African American woman who ran a successful cosmetic and healthcare company for black women from 1888 to 1919.  

Katherine Johnson, whose orbital mechanics calculations were critical to the success of the United States' crewed spaceflights.  

Robert Smalls, the first Black American in the United States to hold the title of Captain, in 1863.  

Gloria Richardson, who negotiated the Treaty of Cambridge with Attorney General Robert Kennedy.  

Claudette Colvin, who at the age of 15 preceded Rosa Parks in giving up her seat on the bus by a few months.  

Ralph Bunche, the first African American and the first individual of non-European ethnicity or race to be awarded as a Nobel laureate.

This just scratches the surface.  We've segregated history such that we've forgotten that Black history is American history.  And to that end, we've done us all a great disservice.  Much of what we are seeing today is because a large percentage of the population has no idea about the truth of our past.

Further, we are actively engaging in steps to keep the hard parts of our history from being taught.  From teaching about the history of racism in our country.  To ignore the reality of racism in our country today.

Hopefully, today can be the starting point.  Use today to educate yourself on the true, complicated history we have in our past.  And to educate yourself on the problematic systems that we still have in place today.

A good place to start is the Emancipation Proclamation and the history of emancipation.  I've included the full text of the proclamation below and have also linked to an excellent audible version produced by NPR, where their African American correspondents read the proclamation, as mirror to NPR's tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on July 4.

One part in particular that has always stood out to me in the celebration of Juneteenth, is its recognition as Jubilee Day.  The Jubilee here refers to the Biblical principle of Jubilee, or the Year of Release.  From Leviticus 25:8-12 -

You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.  Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month.  On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land.  And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.  That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines.  For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field."

The Jubilee is literally a trumpet blast of freedom, a practice in which every 49th year (or 50th year, depending on how you count) slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven, and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.  It was a year of forgiveness and emancipation.  It was also very practical, as it prevented the over accumulation of wealth and arable land in the hands of a few.

African Americans after the Civil War and with the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment recognized their jubilee.  

Perhaps its time for another?

"January 1, 1863

A Transcription

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The First Dozen

We’ve been talking a lot about how time is relative and I know that is true because these first dozen years have felt simultaneously like they have occurred over a number less than half that and as if this has been the way things always were and were always meant to be.  This is what my life was meant for. 

Gorgeous, you are the fulfillment and completion of so much in my life. We have grown stronger over these past two years than I would have ever imagined we could be. We’ve been tested and tried and we are better for it. 

I don’t know what the next twelve years and beyond will bring. I don’t know what new challenges we will face. What new joys and new pains we will experience. 

But I do know, there is no one else I would rather have at my side. 

I love you…
Bigger than Godzilla
All the way to the moon
To infinity and beyond
To the ends of the earth!

Friday, June 11, 2021


i will tell you, my daughter
of your worth
not your beauty
everyday.  (your beauty is a given, every being is born
knowing your worth
can save your life.
raising you on beauty alone
you will be starved.
you will be raw.
you will be weak.
an easy stomach.
always in need of someone telling you how beautiful you 

nayyirah waheed

To my daughter, my pirate, my basketball champion - Happy Birthday, baby girl!!!

I pray you always know how much you mean to us.  I pray you always know your worth, deep down in your soul.  I pray you also know your beauty, for it is a given.

Stay fierce, stay strong, and stay curious.

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Panic Attack

This is the story I promised I would tell.  It took providing the backstory with Our Adoption Story and The Michigan Trip to provide context as to why this induced a panic attack and why we made that trip more stressful on ourselves than it should have been, even beyond the stress this incident caused.

By way of context, the Michigan trip was something we planned for early April, to be a fun weekend getaway for the four of us.  Our first trip as just a family of four and a fun venture to see another state.  Jamie and Avalyn had gotten to make a quick jaunt into Michigan for a meal on a girls' trip, but this would allow us to see state together.  It was supposed to be a trip to Fort Wayne, where we would further explore our new home state, but our reason for going to Fort Wayne was the zoo.  We of course found out it would be closed when we planned to visit.  With that not an option, we changed our plans to Saugatuck and Holland, Michigan.

It is important to note that this trip came shortly after spring break, where we had spent two weeks in Texas with family.  During that trip, we spent a little more on restaurants and eating out that we had planned to, and thought that since this would be such a short trip, we would pack meals to number one, eat healthier, and number two, use our restaurant fund for fun snacks.  Jamie had that Friday before we left pretty wide open, beyond a bible study that morning, so she was planning to prepare and pack the cooler that day, ready for us to leave when Avalyn got out of school.

At this point in our adoption process, we had completed two of the three required homestudy sessions, still had several hours of education remaining to be completed, and had recently learned there were a few key pieces of paperwork not yet filed.  

So when Jamie got a text from our adoption specialist during her morning bible study that Friday morning, asking her to call her, she thought it was related to one of these areas.

Instead, the adoption specialist let Jamie know that there was a birth mother that was going to give birth in two weeks who was questioning her decision and wanted to look at more profile books.  Our adoption specialist didn't have more completed profile books, but knew of a few families like us who were near completion of the process and wanted to ask us if we wanted to be submitted as a potential family for adoption.  Blitzing through the remaining steps for a meeting and ultimate adoption should we be chosen.

To top it off, they needed an answer as quickly as possible.  At the longest, by the next morning.

When Jamie came upstairs to tell me, that's when the panic attack set in.  I know Jamie tells me that she broke down a few times that day, but it wasn't something I saw.  She broke down in calls she made for prayer over the issue. 

I, on the other hand, starting visibly shaking and couldn't come down for nearly two hours after that point.  I've had anxiety attacks before, but those are slow builds of stress and pressure over several days or weeks that release in pain and discomfort.  This was an instant onset of that.

My mind kept racing because it felt like everything was moving so fast.  I saw the first step as Jamie and I discussing whether or not we would be allowing our name to be submitted.  Jamie, by necessity, was starting to work through setting up the things that would be needed if we proceeded.  Each mention of the next piece being set up sent me further into the attack.

It felt like we were skipping a lot of required development just to get a result.  Skipping a lot of essential education that would be of the utmost importance.  In addition, we had virtually nothing for a baby, and would had a few thousand dollars left to save to have the whole process covered.  That would all be necessary in a couple of weeks.

Needless to say, the rest of that day was filled with discussion, and questioning, and asking for prayer requests which turned into a supply drive. The bible study group Jamie was on that morning knew something was up with the adoption process, so when Jamie filled them in on what happened, they got to work collecting a lot for us already.  

The drive to Michigan was nearly completely all about Jamie and I trying to figure out whether or not we should move forward with this.  We kept getting calls from our adoption specialist, giving us more information on the birth mother and child, but that really had no bearing on our decision.  The question that kept gnawing at us was one of timing.

Was this the right time to move forward, or was there more we needed to complete for it to be right?

I think there is a fallacy in Christian circles to assume when things fall into place like this, it is automatically the work of God.  That every easy path is the answer to the prayers that have led up to this point.  While it can be, that is not always the case.

The problem that Jamie and I found is that neither of us could have any joy about this particular situation.  Just terror.  We know this kind of quick turnaround is completely possible once we go live, and we know our reaction will be completely different from what it was then.  At this particular time and in this particular situation, we felt that we still had much more growing and learning to do to be ready.

We decided we were saying no after waking up in the early, early hours Saturday morning.  We then called our adoption specialist at 9:00 am that morning and told her. 

That weight had been lifted.

This didn't mean we didn't feel the effects of this stress for a while.  I felt the physical effects for several days after that Friday, into the next week.  It felt as if I had undergone heavy physical exertion, in addition to ramping up my reflux for that week.  It took a while just to mentally come down from the stress, so we were definitely on edge for the trip.

And here's how we made it harder on ourselves.  Remember the plan to pack food for meals.  Well given the craziness of Friday, the careful planning and packing of the ice chest went out the window.  We had supplies but they were more thrown together in there.  

Instead of giving ourselves grace and a break, we forged on to continue the plan.  Looking back, we know we should have just forgone the attempt to pack the food and just let ourselves enjoy the break and the opportunity.  Bringing the food made us try to keep Avalyn and Jude to it, and of course they didn't want it, so that added to our stress.  

It's something we can look back on now and laugh a bit.  Lessons learned.  And if nothing else, we saw that God can move in a powerful way.  We know we're in the right location because of the outpouring of support we saw should we decide to go forward.

We know when it is our time, we'll be ready.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Travelers' Report 21: Saugatuck and Holland, Michigan

Part 21 in the series of our ongoing travels, both as a family and individually.   This covers our trip to Michigan as a family, the first trip we have had since moving to Indiana and our first trip after the pandemic began.

We chose Michigan because it is the neighboring state that we have not visited and it's just a couple of hours away.  Saugatuck had a cool looking motel that had been converted and upgraded into a neat almost Airbnb alternative (less housekeeping, focus on personal access, etc.).  And it was close enough for us to go into Holland, Michigan to go see the tulips.

We were a couple of weeks too early to see all of the tulips, as not all of them had fully bloomed.  They had started, though, and we still had a wonderful trip.  We realized that this was our first vacation for just the four of us as a family.  Our other trips have been to go visit family or have been a vacation with family, but not just the four of us.  So this will always have a special place.

It was stressful (more on that tomorrow) and we made it a bit more stressful on ourselves, especially given the events of the weekend, but it was a good trip all in all.  We definitely look forward to going back up into Holland in the coming years to really see the tulips in bloom.

Our motel room. A cool funky place. 
Our main attraction - the Holland Windmills. This was a very cool stop and the kids got fun pictures in the tulips that had bloomed. 

Holland also had a neat Wizard of Oz walk at the library, complete with a yellow brick road at the nearby park. 

Our other stop was at the beach for Lake Michigan. Cold, but fun.  And we discovered that Jude has an obsession with sand. 
My selfie with the lighthouse in Holland.
Why we have to go back - the Root Beer Barrel.   Just a block off the main road with a stand serving homemade root beer.  So cool.