Where is God?

On trust, expectations, dependence, peace, contentment and thankfulness…

A dragon fly hovered over my rosebush today, and a sliver of a cloud shaped like a wishbone, floated past my front porch, as I sat journaling. There was a time I couldn’t say that, a time when the pain of life distracted me from all that was good, from seeing the simple things, and the wonder of the moment. Don’t we all experience those times, when we My Soul Clings to You_dragonflywonder instead, where has God gone?

Right now I have a friend who is on the verge of losing his house to foreclosure, he’s also lost his job, and he’s asking me, where is God? What do I say to him in his time of pain? When he looks around and the one he trusted seems nowhere to be found, when he sees his expectations of a God, who has run to his rescue so many times before become nothing, a shadow of times past.

On trust…Through my journey as a single mom two times over, I’ve found that God can be trusted. Yes, sometimes He doesn’t jump to my allegiance, sometimes he lets me experience pain and loss, sometimes He doesn’t even save me from my circumstances, or give me what I want when I want it, but I’ve found that I can trust Him to make sure I’ve endured, I’ve gotten stronger, wiser, sharper, a better steward of His goodness, I’ve learned to love despite the unloving, and with a God-sized heart. I’ve learned He has my back, I’m still here, I’m still alive and I’m finding him in the strangest of places deep inside my soul, where my expectations are lining up with His.

On expectations…Yes, I’ve changed my expectations to realize that God is the God of the unexpected. I’ve found that letting go of my expectations has made me a better person deep inside, when I follow God’s heart and expect the unexpected. Sometimes he doesn’t march to my drummer, sometimes He allows me to go through those desert places, or empty times when I long for His touch or a cold drink of water, and then eventually find it in the most unexpected place. Such as the hope I feel that the stars still twinkle above, that the sun still paints colors in the sky when it rises and sets, and that the sparkle of the dew in the morning is pretty consistent, and even tasty. That I can depend on Him for many things…He says not to worry about the things I need, but to seek Him first!

On dependence….I find dependence and freedom at the same time as I seek Him first. I make a choice to be a Mary, languishing at His feet even though I feel time is ticking away….thus my devotion, my journaling, my rest…be still oh my soul. When I find the world is totally bent on independence, and passing me by with demands such as: achieve first place, rise to the top, the early bird gets the worm, the highest bid wins..…well the beat goes on and leaves me behind. Here languishing at His feet even if it’s just for moments of time, I find dependence on One that can be depended on to hold all things together, while I breathe in a few moments of peace. While I refresh my soul with words of hope, and renew my mind with thoughts that are from Him, and therefore know without a doubt, what is His good and acceptable and perfect will, there’s my rest. It’s at those times when I write in my journal and I find the answers to some of life’s toughest questions, and I am ready to answer a friend when they ask me, where is God?

On Peace….There is a peace in knowing God is where He’s always been, He’s never left, He may back off a bit allowing my trust to grow, my expectations to change, my heart to strengthen, my soul to bloom, and for me to find peace and contentment even in a fast paced world. In this place of peace I find my purpose, and a joy that is lasting. It’s then I know I’m here to impart to others a hope and encouragement that never leaves.

On contentment….In my circumstances no matter what they may be, up or down, want or lack, good times and bad, there’s a time that comes to you, despite the struggles, when you are content. It’s a stillness that takes hold of you, and while the world is on its rush walk; you realize you’re glad you’ve stepped off the road. The direction you have taken isn’t always understood, but its void of stress, and that’s a good thing, for my health, my psyche, my family.  I find on this journey that I can thank Him even when things are tough, things are not quite looking up, and the sun is still hidden behind the cloud. Why… because I know that the last promise He gave me will see me through until I see the light as a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.

On thankfulness….Oh I’m thankful for the dragon fly that hovered over my rosebush today, the sliver of a cloud that passed by my way, the wish that came to my heart to say, help my friend to find his way….back to You, to find the love that will always stay, and then the song that whispers inside and has its way, it sings….it is well, it is well with my soul!

Yours from the front porch, hay field to the right, Hackberries creek-side, and God ever before me…

Mommy Justice

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Captive Lives: The Invisible Lives of Incarceration

tucker-and-dad-1170x658Luna Garcia swipes through the photos on her phone until she finds it — the one of a young man with a slight mustache standing against a wall, his blue shirt neatly pressed, holding a chubby baby girl. It’s the kind of picture someone might snap at a holiday dinner, a grainy image of a girl and her dad. But just out of the frame are armed guards and metal doors. It was visiting day at San Quentin State Prison. It’s a rare photo of Luna with her father. Now 17, she doesn’t have any of him at birthday parties or science fairs. Jose Garcia was serving two years in San Quentin when she was born and has been in and out of incarceration ever since. In the few photos she does have, she can trace the passing years by the colors of his prison jumpsuits.

“He tells me that’s the only thing he knows how to do,” Luna says, her voice flat, resigned. “Prison is all he knows.”

Continue reading “Captive Lives: The Invisible Lives of Incarceration”

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Radio Show on Offender Reentry Support – Reentering Women Give the Scoop!

Phillycam producer Vanessa Graber (center) records a show about re-entry hosted by four ex-offenders. (Emma Lee/WHYY)
Phillycam producer Vanessa Graber (center) records a show about re-entry hosted by four ex-offenders. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

From a small room in Center City, radio activist Vanessa Graber wants to broadcast the realities of post-prison life to thousands of Philadelphians. Next week, PhillyCam, the public-access media nonprofit, will launch WPPM 106.5. It’s one of three new radio stations created following a grassroots push to carve out more slots on FM dials across the country. Graber’s show — hosted by four women with rap sheets — is one of the programs that will air on the community-centric station, which will also reach parts of North and South Philadelphia, as well as across the river in Camden. It’s believed to be the first radio show about re-entry that’s hosted by women ex-offenders.

Continue reading “Radio Show on Offender Reentry Support – Reentering Women Give the Scoop!”

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Update on school to Prison Pipeline: Is Zero Tolerance having Collateral Consequences?

Putting Young Students on the Right Path: Ending Discretionary Suspensions in Texas

What’s Happening Across Texas
Texas elementary schoolchildren — some as young as four — are suspended and sent to alternative schools at alarming rates. During the 2013-2014 school year, almost half of all elementary school suspensions in Texas were issued to pre-K through 2nd grade students. Students are often removed from school for minor Student Code of Conduct violations such as horseplay, disruption of class, or dress code violations. These removals are not required under state law — they are ultimately left to the teacher’s discretion (hence the term “discretionary”). Furthermore, school districts have the ability to create their own student codes of conduct that go well beyond state law, allowing suspensions of our youngest students for normal, age-appropriate behavior. Texas Appleseed is working to change this harmful practice. There are better, proven solutions available to teachers and schools than these discretionary suspensions.

For PDF Report: Texas School to Prison Pipeline: School Expulsion the Path from Lockout to Dropout

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Video Conferencing Instead of Physical In-Prison Visits Harms Inmates, Families – Especially the Children!

How would you react if suddenly hospitals simply replaced in-person patient visitation with video conferencing? Hospital administrators might justify this decision by saying that hospitals are scary Child visitation 3places, so it‘s best to protect family members, especially young people, from being traumatized.

The idea that a bureaucracy could so severely restrict a family’s right to see their loved ones might seem unthinkable. However, for the 2.3 million people who were incarcerated in the United States, 744,600 of whom were in jails as of 2014, it could become a reality.

Moreover, there are approximately 5 million children who have an incarcerated parent, and in-person visitation space is essential for these young people to maintain space for family connections and well-being.

In California, the state’s jails have increasingly moved to adopt video visitation in lieu of in-person visitation. Recent estimates put California’s jail population at approximately 74,000. As such, removing in-person visitation has the potential to affect one of the state’s most vulnerable populations: the children of these incarcerated parents.

Continue reading “Video Conferencing Instead of Physical In-Prison Visits Harms Inmates, Families – Especially the Children!”

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Are sex offender treatment fears unfounded?  

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The mere thought of sex offenders going to a center in a Gainesville neighborhood for counseling was enough last month to make residents irate and send a city commissioner on a fact-finding mission. The concerns focused on the potential threat to children at the handful of daycare centers in the area of the new treatment site at 1208 NW Sixth St. But one key element has been overlooked in the controversy: The company at the heart of the dispute, The ITM Group, has been quietly treating sex offenders in Gainesville for decades. And according to police records, there are no reports of clients attacking neighbors. Experts say that’s not unusual, for a variety of reasons. For one, the vast majority — 80 percent — of sex offenders know their victims and don’t attack strangers. Also, sex offenders aren’t going to cause trouble where they are seeking treatment because they know they are being watched.
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Storm Proof Your Marriage

Couple in rain autumnMarch 14, 2006

We have to build some very strong walls around our marriage to keep it from being inundated due to levee failure. Our word for today from the Word of God, Malachi 2:15, says this about God’s view of our marriages: “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Or the husband of your youth, for that matter. How can we do that? For starters, we can build five walls that to keep your marriage strong. Each marriage “levee” can be summed up in the form of five ironclad commitments that can protect your lifetime love. Continue reading “Storm Proof Your Marriage”

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DOJ Marking “National Reentry Week” with Fairs and Other Community Platforms

Via CNS News

Video Link

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By Susan Jones | April 8, 2016 | 7:34 AM EDT

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch chairs the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, which works to identify the barriers to successful homecoming for “our formerly incarcerated family members,” as she said it on April 7, 2016.

The U.S. Justice Department, as part of its attempt to ease the transition from prison to homecoming, has designated the last week in April as National Reentry Week.

“From job fairs to family day, to father-daughter dances, to mock interview programs, all the ways in which we can provide the support so that our brothers, our sisters, our fathers and our mothers — so that when our fellow Americans leave these institutions, they can truly, truly find their way home,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said

Continue reading “DOJ Marking “National Reentry Week” with Fairs and Other Community Platforms”

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Who Told You That You Had To Be Superwoman?

From The Unveiled Wife

I just got done writing this brief update for you and I look up from my laptop to see a beautiful young woman sitting next me in a comfy leather chair, hidden in the corner of this quaint little coffee shop. Her feet are propped up on a chair, crossed in a relaxed sort of way. In one hand she is holding down a page of a book that is nestled in her lap, while her other hand is laying across her growing belly, letting her baby know that no matter what, she is there and she cares deeply.

Continue reading “Who Told You That You Had To Be Superwoman?”

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