Day 354 I am you…

Today is Monday. Today, Matt seemed a bit down because he has run out of time for his phone calls. This is so difficult for him. We are a family that spends time with each other. I won’t complain because some people have no one to talk to or they can’t afford to pay for phone calls.  I dream of the day we can just talk without the reminder,  “this call is from a federal prison.”
On a different note:

I Am like You

I am like the orphaned refugee, I am like the Muslim woman who has lost her family, I am like the homeless man  who is hungry, I am like black man who is afraid to walk alone, I am like the old woman who doesn’t speak English, I am like  the gay man.  I am like you because I am


Day 353 Small priceless gifts

Today is Sunday. Today, I taught my kids using a Bingo game I created. They were quite delighted when they discovered the markers for the game were M&M’s. Candy just has this magical affect on kids of any age. My kids range from ages 5 to 12.
The challenge was to keep them from eating their chocolate markers before someone called Bingo..:)
Today, as I looked at their sweet happy faces, I wished that all children everywhere could be children, could be safe, could be smiling. I think about the children in Yemen, in Palestine. I think about children whose world is filled with bombs, with violence, with brutality.
I think about children of colour growing up in this country and the tremendous obstacles they will face. I think about poor children who don’t have enough to eat, the children of those imprisoned who are left without their parent(s).
I think about the children who are trafficked by evil people for their own greed and sick perverted pleasure. I think about refugee children who are sometimes all alone in this world.
Today, I looked at the children I teach and I see them as small pricelsess gifts needing to be handled with great care. I see them as beautiful little people who need my love, my understanding, my protection.
Today, a new little boy, 6 years old, looked up at me with big brown eyes and just hugged me. He asked if I could be he teacher all the time. I melted…oh yeah, I melted.
Thank you to all of you who look out for the wee ones in this world. Jesus said we have to be like children to enter the kingdom of God. That tells me just how very important children were to Him.

Peace my friends..hug the children in your life and shower them with love…they grow up fast and sometimes just sometimes they can be taken from you.
My son will always be to me the chubby little blonde kid with big brown eyes who was always singing.

I miss you Matt. You’re my buddy.





Day 352 Devotion (a Mother’s Love)

Today is Saturday. Today, I read again the story of a beautiful young mother and journalist who died because truth was more important than her own life. Today, I think about the mother of this journalist who has been steadfastly, persistently, tirelessly trying to seek justice for the murder of her daughter, her little girl, her heart’s treasure.
Today, I know that many people will still be unaware of the courage, the dedication, and the tragic loss of Serena. Telling the truth has become dangerous to the powerful, the greedy, the corrupt, who want to keep their power and money at the expense of so many lives.
I have the extreme privilege of knowing the mother of Serena and I have a deep sadness for not knowing Serena personally. Serena would be the same age as my son, Matt; too young to suffer, too young to die.
Too many will be unaware of profound impact of Serena’s journalism because the mainstream media lacks the integrity and courage, as it once had long long ago, to report the truth, to hold the corrupt accountable, to protect the people from lies and needless wars.
Today, I strongly encourage you to read the in depth story of Serena and her life.  There are journalists who do tell the truth, who are patriots for the people of this country, who will risk their very lives to expose what we don’t want to hear, what we are afraid to hear; but desperately need to hear.

And Judy, this is for you.  God bless you for your devotion to your daughter and what she stood and still stands for.  From one mother to another who love our brave children.

Day 351 Rich

Today is Friday. Today, I was able to spend time with, well, just a delightful person. We have met twice in person but I feel like we have known each other for a long time.
Today, I let another friend lean on me. I got to see a beautiful heart, a human heart, not perfect, but indeed beautiful.
Paul and I don’t have a lot of money. We live rather frugally since he is the only one working at the moment and we support Matt. But, I feel very rich. I have a great little family and some incredible people in my life. Who can put a price on friendship and love.
For all my friends out there and you know who you are because I love you. This is for you..:)

Giant hugs and love………

Day 350 Diamonds

Today is Thursday. Today, I found an old ring when I was cleaning out some things. The top of the ring is shaped into a flower with petals and in the center a tiny diamond.
I remember a friend from long ago telling me in order to survive in the world (as it was then) that I needed to be hard like diamonds; beautiful, cold, and hard like diamonds. My friend was just like that. She was truly lovely, tough as a diamond and cold as ice.
I think about the environment now and she would be even more adamant about being like a diamond. The trouble is, although diamonds sparkle, they can cut you and they are impenetrable.
She would be very disappointed with me. I am hardly a diamond; I bleed too much. I allow some people to get close to me and before I know it, I’ve been damaged.
I am usually careful about who has access; but there is always those handful of people who are terrific at manipulation and hidden agendas.
A couple of days ago, I fell prey to deception. I am still trying to recover.
In all honesty, I don’t want to be a diamond. My fear is that I will miss out on the beautiful relationships that I have now should I become impenetrable. I think the risk of incurring a wound of the heart is worth it.
Today, I ran my finger over the faceted stone and I want my touch to be soft like silk, gentle like rain, warm like sunshine, tender like a kitten’s nose. I don’t want to cut, but to heal.
I took a friend to lunch, who finally found a job. She talked about how she had spent an entire day with her son, who is a couple years older than my Matt. As I listened to her describe the great day they had together, I wished I was a diamond because my heart was hurting so badly. But, I thought about it. No, it’s okay that my heart hurts because when my son is freed from prison, my heart will sing and take wings and fly. Diamonds can’t do that.

Peace my friends…:)


Day 349 Labels and total injustice

Today is Wednesday. Today, the temperature reached 75 degrees. Today, I was able to walk around in short sleeves.

Today I want you to read a story that happens every day in this country and the number of young people and adults put on the draconian and horrible sex offender’s registry. Please read because the people you may label as a pedophile are indeed NOT.

Teen Girl Sent Teen Boy 5 Inappropriate Pictures. He Faced Lifetime Registry as a ‘Violent Sex Offender’ or 350 Years in Jail.
Welcome to the world of teens, computers, and prosecutors who want to look tough on sex offenders.

Lenore Skenazy|Feb. 14, 2017 3:15 pm

Zachary, now 19, is in jail awaiting sentencing for five pictures his teenage girlfriend sent him of herself in her underwear. He faced a choice between a possible (though unlikely) maximum sentence of 350 years in prison, or lifetime on the sex offender registry as a “sexually violent offender”—even though he never met the girl in person. Here’s what happened.

About two years ago, when Zachary was a 17-year-old high school senior in Stafford County, Virginia, a girl in his computer club invited him over to visit. She introduced him to her younger sister, age 13. This younger sister told Zachary he reminded her of a friend: this friend, also a 13-year-old girl, shared Zachary’s love of dragons and videogames.

The two 13-year-olds started skyping Zachary together. Eventually Zachary and the dragon-lover struck up a online friendship, which developed into a online romance. By the summer, a month after Zachary turned 18, the girl sent him five pictures of herself in her underwear. Her face was not visible, nor were her private parts.

That’s according to information provided by Zachary’s parents, as well as an evaluation with Zachary conducted by a psychologist. Zachary is incredibly smart, according to the psychologist, though socially awkward and emotionally immature. Importantly, he does not possess “distorted” ideas about sex, according to the psychologist.

Even so, Zachary was arrested and charged with 20 felonies, including indecent liberties with a minor, using a computer to propose sex, and “child porn reproduce/transmit/sell,” even though he did not send or sell the pictures to anyone. All this, from five underwear pictures. If convicted, Zachary’s father told me, he faced a theoretically possible maximum sentence of 350 years.

Instead, he took a plea bargain. This is what prosecutors do: scare defendants into a deal. Zachary agreed to plead guilty to two counts of “indecent liberties with a minor.” For this, he will be registered as a violent sex offender for the rest of his life.

Yes, “violent”—even though he never met the girl in person.

Zachary’s dad wrote to the authorities asking about this, and got a letter back from the Virginia State Police reiterating that, “This conviction requires Zachary to register as a sexually violent offender.”

The letter, which was obtained by Reason, added that in three years, “a violent sex offender or murderer” can petition to register less frequently than every three months.

“How do you like that?” said the dad in a phone conversation with me. “Same category as a murderer.”

As part of the plea, Zachary also agreed never to appeal. He will be sentenced on March 9. Until then, he remains in jail.

If this sounds like a punishment wildly out of whack with the crime, welcome to the world of teens, computers, and prosecutors who want to look tough on sex offenders. The girl did not wish to prosecute Zachary, according to his dad. He told me the pictures came to light because she had been having emotional issues, possibly due to her parents’ impending divorce. Eventually she was admitted to a mental health facility for treatment, and while there she revealed the relationship to a counselor. The counselor reported this to her mother, the police, or both (this part is unclear), leading the cops to execute a search warrant of Zachary’s electronic devices where they found the five photos and the chat logs.

Until that day, Zachary had never been suspected of, or charged with, any criminal activity other than one count of distracted driving, which he paid off with 15 hours of shelving library books. He was, at the time of his arrest, attending community college in computer graphics and delivering Domino’s Pizza. He was also, by his account, a virgin.

The family hired two psychologists to evaluate Zachary. (Those evaluations were also obtained by Reason.) One psychologist, Mike Fray, found him to be “not a physical threat to this girl or to any other young girls.” The other, Evan S. Nelson, summed up this case and what is wrong with all the cases Zachary’s story represents:

This psychologist cannot count the number of adolescent sex offenders I have met who have a sense that what they are doing is ‘wrong’ but were ignorant that their conduct was criminal, let alone a felony, or actions which could put them on the Sex Offender Registry. In the teenage digital social world, if both parties want to talk about sex, that seems like ‘consent’ to them. Ignorance does not excuse this conduct, but it does help to explain why he did this, and to the degree that ignorance was an underlying cause of his crime, this problem can be easily fixed with education.

Zachary’s not a sexual predator, in the psychologist’s view. He’s a teen who did something stupid—that he quite plausibly didn’t understand was illegal. And yet the state of Virginia, and in particular prosecutor Ryan Frank, has chosen to pretend that the only way to keep Zachary from feverishly preying on young flesh is to destroy his life.

This is so obviously flawed that Virginia Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell has written a letter on Zachary’s behalf:

Based on the information I have, I believe Zachary was unaware of the magnitude of impropriety in his behavior… It is my understanding that the local sheriff’s office performed a forensic analysis on Zachary’s computer and found zero incidents of pornography or trolling for females. While the aforementioned incident was highly inappropriate, it appears that there are no signs of general deviance in his character but rather immaturity and naivete….

As my record indicates, I am certainly not soft on crime and I am not suggesting that Zachary be spared any consequence of his actions. That said, I do believe this may be more of an incident of adolescent immaturity and poor judgment than of inherently deviant behavior and thus may not warrant being placed on the sex offender registry.

Outraged readers should root for two things. First, that this case prompts the Virginia legislature to review the laws that enable draconian persecutions like the one against Zachary.

Second, that Zachary be given a punishment that truly fits the crime. If you recall the case of another Zach—Zach Anderson, a 19-year-old who had sex with a girl he honestly believed was 17 (because she said so) but was actually 14—he was originally sentenced to 25 years on the sex offender registry. But after public outcry, he got two years’ probation instead, on a “diversion program.” A program like this is sometimes available for first-time offenders. It sounds far more reasonable. Or maybe Zachary could do some community service—like speaking at high school assemblies to warn students that what seems like consensual teenage shenanigans could land them on the registry for the rest of their lives.

“I know I’d never do it again because I don’t want to go back to jail again in my life,” Zachary told Nelson during his psychological evaluation. “And if nothing else, this has given me a fear of women.”

I write people in prison who fall in this category. My son, who a “award winning” Tennessee cop fabricated evidence against and lied about on the stand, will also be on this “sex offender’s registry.”
Welcome to America

Day 348 Kick ass mom

Today is Tuesday. Today is my birthday. Today, not only did I get 2 separate flower arrangements and one of them a dozen beautiful roses from Paul, I also got a really sweet letter from Matt.
He told me that he wished he could be with me celebrating because we have missed too many birthdays together. He told me not to give it a second thought that I am one more year older, but that he had a “kick ass” mom. He told me how proud he was of me.
Well, maybe that is not the adjective most people would appreciate, but it made me smile wide and and I’m still chuckling. Me–kick ass. Hey, I feel pretty special. I’ll take it…yeah I’m kick ass. My hero son thinks so…:) I guess I better try to live up to that.
I hope you have someone in your life who thinks you are kick ass, too.

Peace my friends..much love and thank you to those who sent me kind thoughts and words of love. If you can count your gifts as friends, oh my, I have some real treasures.

Day 347 Out of the Ashes

Today is Monday. Today is already moving into the past. Tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning, another chance to change the direction we might be going. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged; easy to feel like we may not have a purpose. Sometimes we feel inadequate, unworthy, failures. I don’t believe that about anyone, yet we can believe that about ourselves.

Out of the Ashes

Sitting in the darkness and feeling very much alone,
Have we made a difference in this world, in this place?
What have we done short of taking up precious space?
So many failed attempts in this life; it’s a struggle inside and out.
Going down in the flames, in the smoke of a total burnout.

Hold on til the morning of a tomorrow that is coming
Out of the ashes rising like a new sunrise
Born out of struggle and pain is our redemptionhot_glass_mg6027
The heart like glass can be shattered but re fired with love
Stronger and more beautiful than it was before.

Don’t live a hostage to the past, a prisoner of our guilt
Mistakes are the tempering making translucent the opaque
Time is measured in pain and in joy, in despair and in hope
A glass is not meant to be empty; but filled and poured out
Like a cool drink for the thirsty to share with each other

We will rise out of the ashes like a new sunrise
Born out of struggle and pain is our redemption
The heart like glass can be shattered but re fired with love
Stronger and beautiful than it was before.

Fill the heart with just a little love
Then, pour it out and it will fill up with twice as much as before.

Matt says love like a boomerang, when you send it out, it will always come back and sometimes in ways we least expect…:)

Peace my friends..tomorrow is a brand new day with brand new opportunities to give of ourselves. One thing about a heart; if it fills with love, it can stretch to the moon and back. There’s no limit on love.


Day 346 Safe People

Today is Sunday. Today, I heard Paul speak about safe people. He talked about how Jesus was looked at as a lunatic by his own friends and family because He spoke in a way that made them question how a simple woodworker could impart so much wisdom. Heavy sigh. Even Jesus in all His kindness and humility was misunderstood.

I want to talk about safe people. In Jesus’ case, His family and friends should have supported him even if they misunderstood Him. They should have been His “safe people.”

Safe people are understanding and supportive. They listen and do not judge. It does not mean they are are “yes” people because safe people should be honest.

Safe people admit when they make mistakes; they are humble, not arrogant, not self-righteous.

Safe people don’t get hostile because they don’t agree with you, nor continually defensive.

Safe people earn trust not demand it. They are loyal, transparent, and trustworthy.

Safe people grow and they encourage those they care for to grow, to thrive, to be more than they dream.

My son, Matt, wonders why people are drawn to him and feel safe with him. He is one of those people who understands, who cares, who encourages, who does not judge, who earns trust. I have had the privilege of staying connected to many of the people he has met in prison.

If you have even one of these people in your life, then you have a real treasure.

May we all grow to be “safe people.”

Peace and love my friends….


Day 345 Orzo Soup

Today is Saturday. Today marks the 10th monthly visit I’ve been graciously given to spend time with my son. This month marks one year since he was sentenced. I remember the judge looking at my son with very sad eyes. I really do believe in my heart that she did not want this for him but the stakes were too high and too many cowardly and vindictive and evil people were players in the case to choose not to plea. And thank you, Matthew, for saving your folks from prison.

Today, I came home to some orzo vegetable soup. If you haven’t had orzo before, it is a small oval shaped noodle used in Mediterranean dishes and mostly soup. At the bottom of my bowl, the orzo floated in a nice rich soup broth. By itself, the orzo would have been okay. I like orzo, but it’s very one dimensional and unexciting if that’s all there was in the soup.

But, in my soup, there were chunks of bright orange carrots, purple turnips, pieces of red tomatoes, golden brown mushrooms and small slices of pale green celery. Now that’s a soup that looks pleasant to the eye and quite delicious to eat. This is a hearty soup. Variety, it makes life interesting and tasty and definitely not one dimensional.

When I was growing up outside of Boston, I used to go into the city because I loved the variety of people, of languages, of culture. I believe this country is enriched by the diversity. I believe that we have so much to learn from each other.

Paul, Matt and I have had the greatest privilege of knowing all kinds of people, sharing bread with them and discovering what makes them who they are. There are good and bad people in every culture, in every walk of life.

But, to fear someone you have never had the opportunity to get to know because your media or your gov’t tells you so…:(

peace and love my friends…