Monday, August 10, 2015

The Death Penalty for an Innocent Man, a War within Myself to Be Who I was Created to Be, And a Revelation to help!

God is SO GOOD and so helpful if only you let Him!  He is good and wants to give us peace.  He wants us to be who WE are, not who we think we should be based on the reactions of others.  He wants us to be OURSELVES even when we are at war within ourselves because we have conflicting components of who we are.  Our Heavenly Father wants to bring those conflicting portions into sync.
I promise, the end of this is worth getting to, it may be a message that He wants you to hear right now!  :-)

This afternoon I was in a low moment.  I was incredibly overwhelmed with the injustice and ignorance that is all around us.  Every place, every state, every country will have humans that are ignorant or blinded by "this is what we know," "it was how I was raised," and so on.  When we moved to Oklahoma my children were not yet in school and I was parenting 3 then 4 then 5 children all six years and younger.  I was focused on God, Work, and Supporting my husbands career.  When my children started school, as opposed to Home-school (because I believe that schooling needs are as unique as the individual so some of my kids are homeschooled and some are not...for now).  When my oldest started school I realized how different my upbringing in Pennsylvania (statistically in the top 5/50 schools yearly) was to the education system in Oklahoma (statistically in the bottom 5/50 schools yearly).  I realized how hard the teachers here had to work, or didn't.  I realized how important it was to have one of those gems that work for nothing to make Oklahoma's education system better even though the school boards and state is not always in sync with what the teachers know to be affective or needed in their jobs.  I have seen a great disconnect between a school board's theories of what will work and what the teachers are telling them that they need.  I have also seen a school board and a school that work together tremendously and impact the children in such positive ways that it seemed no different than my experience in public school on the East Coast.

I have seen the difference of growing up in a norther swing state as opposed to a southern, republican, conservative, Bible-belt state.

I have seen the difference in healthcare from an affluent tri-state area that is full of the top hospitals in the nation to a state whose medical is and can be compared to some under developed countries.  

Oklahoma has some of the highest incarceration rates, the highest children in child-protective-custody, the lowest scores in schools, healthcare and the list goes on.  

So, when three executions of men on death row happened in the past year under our current governor through lethal injection that was botched all three times and caused torturous deaths to these men I felt like I was taken back centuries.  Yes, PA still has a death penalty.  However, since 1976 there have only been 3 men killed in PA by lethal injection.  All three of those sentences were signed by the same Governor Tom Ridge, a republican.  

Now in Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is signing off on another execution for a man named Richard Glossip.  Richard was implicated and convicted in 1998 of a murder that was committed by a man who admitted to the act and the charge, but in a plea deal Justin Sneed, Glossips co-worker, accused Glossip of "paying him to kill" in order to save his own life.  Sneed is now spending his life in a medium security prison and will be essentially committing murder again through the hands of Governor Mary Fallin.  While two court cases have convicted Glossip of murder, the only evidence that they have is the admitted murderers plea/accusation of Glossip paying him to kill.  All along Glossip has been using pro-bono attorneys.  

For some statistics, Oklahoma is the second only to Texas for executions but is the highest per capita in executions.  To further muddle the executions that our Governor seems so readily to sign off on, Oklahoma was the first state to use phenobarbital as one of the ingredients in the lethal mixture.  Phenobarbital is a anti seizure medicine.  And, the one reporter Phil Cross who has been following Glossip and working very hard to get his story out there, to help him and to shed light on what is going on, has been banned from the court room while other reporters are allowed, and other reporters are claiming that they cannot talk about it.  The death penalty in Oklahoma has been under investigation by the Supreme Court over the past several years, it has made national headlines many times, and now even Hollywood stars are sharing their opinions and starting petitions to stay the execution.

NOW here is huge proof to the LUST OF EXECUTION for Oklahoma.  In 2014, Oklahoma had put scheduled executions on hold until the Department of Corrections implemented 11 proposed improvements in protocols governing capital punishment. The review of the lethal injection administration process resulted from an Oklahoma inmate's April execution case in which a doctor and a paramedic failed nearly a dozen times to administer an IV with lethal drugs.  From that, they continued under Governor Mary Fallin's approval to do two more botched lethal injections This will be her 17th lethal injection.  However, out of the past three Governors she looks like a lamb.  Her predecessor Brad Henry (Democrat) signed off on 39 executions, and 51 occurred under the Governor Frank Keating (Republican) before him.  Governor Frank Keating gave the go ahead for minors to be executed for their crimes and the last minor to be executed in the country prior to that practice being banned happened in the great state of Oklahoma under Governor Frank Keating in 2003!  Oklahoma has also been a state to wrongfully put-to-death prisoners.  (example:  Gregory R. Wilhoit convicted in 1987, exonerated in 1993.  Ron Williamson, Oklahoma. Convicted 1988 exonerated in 1999.  Although Texas and Illinois have had far more wrongfully executed persons, that we know of.)

So while capitol punishment is a heated debate with people for or against it and many people unsure of their feelings for it exactly, siting examples of when it would be ok and when it wouldn't, everyone can agree that it is an emotional topic.  However, Governor Mary Fallin has knowingly approved at least three lethal injections to persons knowing that the drug cocktail used has, each and every time, caused prolonged suffering and not sudden death.  Now, a man who was simply accused in a plea bargain.

So as my heart ached over all of this and the fact that I cannot rely on medical care in Oklahoma for my daughter, or the school system (not the teachers) I turned to my Bible and decided to do a study prompted by an old assignment my husband had for college.  In that study I decided to read about a book in the Bible, a person, and a significant place.  I am not going to share all of the details but I basically picked my favorites for each section, or the ones that made me joyful.  They were not the typical picks of say psalms/proverbs/job/etc.  I stuck with the Old Testament too.  The persons were not even the typical and each of them ended up being connected in intimate ways that I never noticed before.  For instance, the father of one of my favorite persons in the Bible was a ruler in the Book of the Bible that I chose.  Because the man's father is named but already dead and not talked about in the story of the son whom I admire so, I had never thought to look up his father, nor did I connect the dots when reading his fathers name in the book that I love and chose.  The location I chose actually stressed me out a bit.  I am a very visual person and wish that they had a "Biblical map" overlay that I could place over our Modern map to see the locations that they speak of.  So I tend to not pay attention to the location.  I asked my husband what location he chose to give me some inspiration.  I finally chose a location, and this location is central to the story of the man I chose and I did not realize it before.  

So, the point of my story is that God can affirm your purpose and your passions and he can show you His love and dedication to you, as His child when you simply open yourself up for his teaching.  Tonight it was as if I just ran my fingers through my Bible and asked Him to show me something (which I often do).  But it was with much less purpose.  I knew I was hurting.  I knew that I was warring with myself.  I feel very passionately about things and I know that I was created to be an activist.  Yet I highly dislike arguments or hurting/offending others.  Speaking about a persons home state in a negative way can hurt or empower a person to help make it better.  I know that I am at a giant risk of hurting people that I care deeply for.  But staying silent would be ignoring a part of who God created me to be.  He knew that I was feeling blue and fearful of how my words may affect others and He showed me that He is patient and loving and will always guide you to do what He has called you to do, even when you are afraid to do so.  

If you would like information on the petition for granting a stay for Richard Glossip click here!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

How Connected Are You To The Love of Your Life?

Announcement:  So this blog has been on hiatus on and off for some time now.  And it has been for MANY GREAT REASONS.  So, things are going to be different around here and I really think you are going to like it.  I am hoping to get some great discussions going.  And the more interaction I have on the blog the better it will be.  When we get great discussions going there will be #giveaways! *read to the end for more details on #giveaways* The discussions will be on everything from Book Talks, Social Issues/Current Events Or Relationships and Being Authentic in a Computer and Media Edited World!  Sometimes the blog will be serious.  Sometimes it will be a product review and other times I will share what I am loving.  And of course, our family, our life, and what we are doing will be sprinkled in as that was the foundation of Seven Swans!  My Blog Will ALWAYS Be Personal, Honest, and a Troll #NoHATE site!
 I hope that you join me on my journey, comment (you can leave it anonymous if you'd like) and share my musings with your friends. 
 I hope that it will bring a smile, a lightbulb, a wrinkle, and inspiration.  

So let's jump in today with the first in my series of "Relationships Under The Rug."




When you have been in an intimate loving relationship with the person.  The person whom you would take your last breathe for just to know that they could live another day.  The person that you know better than any other person, than any other person that has ever loved them knows them.   Yes, you know them even better than their Mother knows them.  You have a deep and meaningful connection, one that is not easily severed.  





However, with most things in life nothing is actually equal, or is it?  Do you ever wonder if you love your partner more than they love you or vise-a-versa?  Do you ever feel like they wouldn't even begin to understand your love no matter how hard you tried to show wether it be through actions or words?





Relationships are complex living connections and often times we see a portrayal of a persons actual relationship a superficial view and often times a facade.  It is almost a taboo in the USA to say your relationship is going through a rough patch.  When this is said it is almost always believed that this is the beginning of the end.  You can pick up any tabloid any day and find at least one article written about a couple that is "getting ready to call it quits."  Marriage in our country is under attack by the media and people who like to start the rumor train.  It is as if every public couple must be perfect and well not human.  Not human, because humans are imperfection and relationships are a unity between two people.  Marriage makes that unity stronger as it is a legal and binding declaration.

So, in an effort to be real.  To break it down and get the conversations going on the stuff that people would rather sweep under the rug I am pulling up all the carpet and banning throw rugs.  I want to know your thoughts on the connection in your relationship/marriage.  Is it something that you feel is equal?  Do you think that you love your partner more than they love you?  Or do you know that you are loved more than you love?



 



#RelationshipsUnderTheRug


#GIVEAWAYS will also happen
sporadically with product reviews, or for people who are engaged frequently with the blog!
And when I reach milestones I will be doing giveaways.  By Milestones I mean #'s of followers on here and on select social media, when great conversations are happening, etc.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore #BlackLivesMatter #LawEnforcementMatters

Here are my posts from Facebook from yesterday.  I am emotionally done and cannot re-write the whole story but I want people to read and hear and understand from DIFFERENT VIEWS!

FB: April 27 9:46  This is a city that my sister, brother-in-law, and my sweet nieces and nephew work in and live just outside of. I have other family and friends who call Maryland and Baltimore their home. It was my home many years ago. And tonight it looks like a war zone. I do not keep up with the news very often. However, because of the police brutality here in Oklahoma, in Missouri, in Georgia, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and many other states I have had to have some hard conversations with my 12 year old son. Because you see, kids in middle school talk. If one sees a police brutality story on the news they will all know it by the next day. I cannot shield him forever. But it is a horrible thing to have to explain. But I tried, largely because one of the police brutalities included an officer killing a 12 year old boy who had a fake gun/toy gun in the waist of his pants. He was at the park alone and spinning he gun around and pointing it at things and supposedly people (but it is noted on all surveillance camera's that he was the only one at the park). Within 2 seconds of arriving on the scene the police officer fired and killed the 12 year old boy. This crime is still under investigation, much like the killing of Freddy Gray which sparked the riots and mass hysteria in Baltimore today. Unlike the police forces in Missouri and Oklahoma there is a more diverse police force in Baltimore. And unlike the Missouri riots the Baltimore police are not firing back with bullets, tasers, tear gas, and they are not arresting people for simply filming the "news" ... at least not yet. While police officers must be held accountable, so must civilians. While I will need to teach my son lessons that I myself will not have to learn, we cannot expect to move forward with rage. We must remember that God instructed us to Trust In Him and To Love Above Everything Else. So that was the focus of my talk with my 12 year old son and it is my prayer for Baltimore and police forces across the nation.  ‪#‎RacismISReal‬ ‪#‎StopTheHate‬‪#‎DoNotPROFILE‬  ‪#‎WeedOutTheBadCops‬‪#‎CallForChange‬ ‪#‎TheSystemIsFailing‬‪#‎UseYourMindsAndYourHeartsToFixThisNotYourFists‬





FB April 27 9:53pm Sadly, this is not the scene tonight. But that is largely due to the fact that the family asked respectfully that no protests happen on the day of his funeral. The compassionate protestors that are peaceable have honored that while tonight it is just mass chaos.  http://blackwestchester.com/2015/04/27/10000-peacefully-protest-bmore/


FB April 27 10:10pm  This is the last thing I will say about this. While I do not condone rioting. I will say that when people are oppressed and hunted or taunted by police officers for years on end. When they have to hold their breathe when a police car goes down their street. Just because of the color of their skin and the number of people sitting in front of their house. There is eventually going to be a boiling point. This is not the first black man in the nation this year to be killed by the hands of overzealous, God-playing cops. For a group of people to feel so oppressed, that there was no better way to be heard, this will at times cause riots. As one of my friends pointed out, white people have rioted and destroyed neighborhoods over sports. Violence is never the way and that is exactly the point. A black male can be arrested on suspicion and held until proven innocent. A white male can continue living life until there are enough facts to bring him in under some sort of charge. If you feel powerless to change you will go in one of three directions. The ways that Ghandi and Rev. Marin Luther King did, peaceably. Or you may just stir the kettle like Rosa Parks did. Or finally, you may find yourself in a position of mass chaos and riots. But just to hit home my point of people rioting for way less important reasons than ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ let me show you this link with some examples. Again, I do not believe that rioting is the way to go and I think that it is in fact a step in the WRONG DIRECTION, but let us balance out the human experience when it comes to rioting. Just as we must balance out the human experience when it comes to law enforcement and criminalization. "Inner-City Thugs" are not the only people who choose to join in a riot.  http://nymag.com/…/…/white-people-rioting-for-no-reason.html


 My Facebook
Ok I know I said last post but seriously, I have not heard such a loving mothering voice come from this tragedy that can so eloquently put the need for people to rise above the temptations of mass anarchy and violence.
Baltimore!
I know we are angry, I know we want to be heard. We want answers, we want justice but most of all we want the corrupt systems of authority in our neighborhoods that continually steal the lives of people of color and the underprivileged to be revealed and rectified. But we must do our part. Today, I see that violence begets violence making it difficult to differentiate the victims from the perpetrators. Violence creates a window to vilify the victims, even in the deepest recesses of the most condolent mind. Nonviolence creates a clear view to who the offenders of justice really are. Don't give the very system that has been using violence to terrorize and exterminate us any justification to use that very violence upon us to keep us in order. This is a time of self-discipline so that the true offenders of justice can be revealed.
Stand down so that justice and the preservation of our communities are the priority and have the opportunity to prevail.
J



Sunday, April 26, 2015

Greys Anatomy (If you haven't watched the last episode and do not know yet-how do you not know?)Spoiler ALERT!

Ok, this is not a normal post on my blog.  Then again, this blog has been going through quite a transformation, or has it always been a transformer?  Particularly because I write about what is hitting  me right in the face and how can that be anything but sporadic when that is exactly what life, or at least my life is, sporadic.  But that is not what I am writing about today.  I am writing about Greys Anatomy.  Yup, the TV show.  I do not often watch "TV" instead I subscribe to Netflix.  In fact, we have not had any TV channels for a little over 7 years!  Actually, I don't know if that deserves an exclamation point or not, because it seems that there are many people who do not spend $100 or more per month to sit in front of a TV every day at a certain time to watch specific shows.  Or maybe we are still a rare family?  I don't know how to do that...be that precise with a schedule surrounding a form of entertainment.  Seizures sort of set my schedule.  Kids definitely set my schedule.  I don't want to be stressed out and angry if my kids aren't in bed on time which causes me to miss an episode.  Or stressed out and angry because I got distracted and therefore missed an episode.  Not that everyone who watches TV gets so in to it like I might.  But alas, I am off topic again, in the first paragraph!!!

Ok, so we do have cable right now.  After the fire, the deaths, the surgeries, the accident, the everything we decided to get cable so that the kids could watch some of their favorite shows and movies.  We had not replaced many DVD's when we moved from the hotel to here.  The kids have extremely tiny bedrooms we literally cannot fit more than one bed table, two twin beds and squeeze one upright dresser in each room.  And toys are also something that was not a priority immediately following the fire, nor are they now, but birthdays and Christmas have happened, so they have toys that don't fit in their teeny tiny microscopic rooms.  On Sunday nights Avagrace (if she is up and able), Aidan, and I love to watch Once Upon A Time.  It is something I started watching on my kindle a few years ago and then was thrilled when it hit Netflix because I could share it with my two oldest who love fairy tales, especially when they are different viewpoints or an atypical re-telling.  Then a few weeks ago we happily started watching Dancing with the Stars, with me happily critiquing for all to hear how immodest the outfits were.  (What?  You don't do that too?  Weird!-jk)  I like to teach my children about what they will see in the world, when it is appropriate for each child, while also explaining why I feel the way that I do.  That way, they will have an adequate understanding for them to make their own decisions when they are at that point in their life.  Anyway, back to Dancing with the Stars....we do love to Dance, and the show is very entertaining, and it is a lot of fun voting together.  Not to mention Rumer and Willow are the two youngest and they are killing it!   

So that brings me to Greys.  The past week, or maybe it has been two weeks, we have seen the commercials (well to be honest I watch the commercials and the kids go out of the room during them) building up to a "shocker," a "you won't believe what happens," a "nothing will ever be the same again."  And I folded.  I have watched Greys Anatomy up until season 8 on Netflix.  I couldn't remember why I stopped watching it and figured it was likely due to being busy and having other shows that I enjoyed more, or that Brendan and I both enjoyed, or that were not so demanding of my time.  So I put "THE SHOW THAT WOULD CHANGE EVERYTHING" (aka the last and latest episode of Greys Anatomy) into my icalendar on my iphone, that way I would get a text reminder because lets face it, when the day is done i.e. dinner is served, I do not look at said calendar anymore.  

So this week Brendan left for a short-term deployment (I have a whole post dedicated to my love of hate for well, our current deployment).  So he is gone and I am home and my calendar reminds me to watch Greys.  Everyone was in bed and so I started watching.  I thought, what a great show.  Hmmm, some of the characters aren't in the show tonight.  To be fair I had not realized that I stopped watching it 3.5 seasons ago, I thought I was maybe 1.5 seasons behind, not 3.5!  I am watching as the scene unfolds and Derrick saves all of those lives.  And then it happens.  His car pulls out and I am thinking "Where did he pull out from, he had parked it in the middle of the road!"  and then his phone rings, "NO YOU IDIOT!!"  "You just saved lives you know cell phones are the last thing you hear before crunching of metal and breaking of glass."  And then it happens, and he is walking us through it all, unable to talk but able to think-so we hear his thoughts.  "Oh God I hope that Gracie isn't ever awake during anything that she goes through.  I hope she is blissfully unaware."  But I know that is not true. She is able to remember and explain what certain seizures are like after the fact.  She knows she can do nothing but wait it out and it terrifies her.  She is locked inside the seizure watching me tell her it is ok and to just breathe or me singing her song that I "wrote" for her.  And then, a major topic that should be covered more but is so sad to watch because it is reality.  Dr. Derrick Shepherd dies because he was sent to the wrong hospital that accepted him anyway.  And by wrong I mean, the hospital that was not up to the task.  The hospital that was filled with doctors that do not know their stuff.  And he died because of their lack of knowledge and inability to treat him properly!!!  

As a parent of a child with a rare disorder I find this too often.  I had a doctor watch as my daughters heart stopped because he did not recognize her status seizure was a seizure at all, even though I tried to get him to read a pamphlet that her doctor told me to take to the ER every time.  He didn't accept that it was a seizure until his nurse had to punch her in the chest to get her heart beating again.  Only then would he read the information that I had tried to get him to read when we had arrived SEVERAL HOURS prior.  It was information from the National Institute of Health describing her seizure type and why you should not hesitate to stop said seizure.  The irony is that the medics on the ambulance who took us to the ER had known about the seizure because they had witnessed our daughter have it before when her previous doctor still worked at the hospital that they took us too.  That hospital is supposed to be the best hospital in our state and it was not good enough.  Thank GOD that I still have my daughter.  

So Grey's Anatomy was definitely a heart breaker.  I cried.  I watched as a man who just saved lives (YES I KNOW THIS IS FICTION HANG ON I AM GETTING TO THAT :-) ) died at the hands of uneducated medical "professionals."  I decided that I would get back on Netflix and figure out where I left off and see if I wanted to get "caught up" with this series.  So I watched a few episodes.  And during every single episode I would cry.  I don't remember doing this before.  And then it hit me.  "You idiot,"  This is too real now.  This fiction is too close to your reality.  You daughter has had over 12 surgeries in her 10 years, and that is just one of your children's "surgery lists".  That doesn't even count all of the other procedures that she alone has had.  Let alone the surgeries and procedures that your other kids have had (be them typical or not).  Or the many other times she has been sedated for one reason or another.  That is just surgeries.  The emotions on this show are so close to real that it feels real, it doesn't feel like fiction and it certainly doesn't look like fiction.  That is one of the reasons that this show is so long lasting, and has such a following.  The actors both on-going and the many filtered in and out "patients " that may only get one episode or maybe one every so many seasons, they are really good at what they do.  The irony is that those actors portray the drama that parents like me keep held in and bottled up during our times in the hospital.  You do not see that much drama in the hospital- even though the drama in the real hospital is so much worse than that, because it is real.  Everyone is expected to remember their "P's and Q's" so that we do not impose emotions on others, or cause mass hysteria.  In fact, an emotional parent is the first parent that doctors will ignore.  They will therefore determined a child's case with absolutely no background or understanding of what is really happening with the child.   They will pass it off as if the parent is "over reacting" or "emotional" or a "helicopter parent."  Unless they are a good doctor but those are so hard to come by, especially when you are talking rare disorders.  You see, it is very rare to find a doctor who wants a parent to know more about a medical condition than they do...unless they are a good doctor and want to learn or a good doctor that wants his patients primary care giver to know, to really KNOW what is going on and how the parent can help!

I am sure that I will watch more "Grey's" episodes, but not in continuum.  It is too depressing.  I would like to get caught up and see why all of the men and apparently Christina too, have been killed off the show???  I mean seriously, is this just the Meredith Grey show?  (JOKE, of course it is, it is called Grey's Anatomy), but why?  Why do they all have to die?  It was bead enough when George died!  I also read that Christina didn't die but chose to leave?  But right now, I don't know if that is better.  All I know is that I am proud of the writer/creator, Shonda Rhimes, for calling to light a dark truth that many will never learn from that last episode with Derrick Shepherd, that medical facilities are not all created equal and that your life can be in the hands of untrained, uncaring, uneducated "professionals," so be sure that you trust your doctors and have done your research!  

One thing is right, the show will never be the same, and not because I am fan-girling Patrick Dempsey, but because you can only take away so many core actors and replace them before the show just fizzles out.  But that is all dependent upon the writers and creator, and the creator of this show has never ceased to be intelligent, in your face, or fearful of what this shows future will be.  She has taken it on a road that twists and turns and consequently ties your stomach in knots.  But how much drama can one person take?  I know for me and my own reality, I apparently tapped out at season 8, but I don't know that I have quite thrown in the towel.  Thank you Shonda, I hope that you tell the world why you chose to let him die at the hands of unprofessional professionals and truly shine a light on the truth about our countries "medical care."  If not, you have at least opened the door for people like me to write a real truth, in a wordy post, on an emotional parents blog.