Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Our Immigration Story


            I think I probably tell this story once every few years but given all the drama in the election there were some things that were brought up, and again I found myself needing to share our story again.

            I grew up in a small Ohio town in what is considered the heart of Ohio.  I don’t remember ever thinking about Canada much as a kid, nor realizing that the Southern border was 3 hours north of my childhood home.  I do remember my father going up there once on business and bring back money that looked fake and thinking how cool it was.

            Many of you have heard the funny story of how I met my amazing super awesome husband.  It’s really a long story but to make it short: I was dating a different man in college at OSU, he decided to move to Pittsburgh to go to school there, in my defense that man and I were kind of in a place of breaking up, he met Dan and decided to get an apartment with him, my husband of over 16 years was my ex-boyfriends roommate and that ex part is debatable. Honestly I don’t know how God would have brought us together any other way. 

            Anyway, Dan was born in Canada.  Actually his parents were both born in Italy and both sides immigrated to Canada in the 50’s.  Dan was a Canadian citizen. I’d also like to mention here he grew up like 20 minutes across the border. It was a divine intervention of God that Dan decided to come to the States to go to school. He first went to Chicago and then to Pittsburgh. Truthfully when I met him, he wasn’t sure if he’d go back to Canada or stay in the US.  He came here on a student visa: Which in loose terms means that the US was cool for him to come here and go to get an education, but they did expect him to go back to his own country.  This was paperwork Dan had to apply for long before he met me and they run back ground checks on him and approve him.

            When we met and fell in love in 1999, I never realized the hurdles we were going to have to jump through to be able to stay in one country together.  I am not complaining.  I saw time and time again God blessed us in this process, but it was a process.  When he married me, he actually had to refile his immigration forms and status.  It actually made him essentially start over in the process. People often have these crazy perceptions that if you a citizen, marries a non-citizen that they somehow automatically get citizenship.  Um no.  That may have happened at some point in American History but not now.  There are shows like 90 Day FiancĂ© with TLC and the movie Green Card with Andie MacDowell that I’ll admit to watching.  I find them both funny and a little misleading.  It takes a lot to go through the process.  I know that some people do try to hook up with Americans for the Green Card but it’s just not that easy.  I had several people who knew people who tried to become citizens and had horror stories, and have shared them with me.

            Initially Dan and I planned to have a wedding in the church I grew up in, and drive 3 hours to have a big Italian reception in Canada that would make my in-laws happy all on the same day. I was still living in Ohio, and he was a 3 hour drive east.  Through a divine encounter we were put in front of an immigration lawyer who told us that because Dan’s status was changing he couldn’t leave the country until more paper work were filed.  IE had we had done the wedding and reception on the same day they wouldn’t have let him back in the United States because it was considered abandonment.  So having already had deposits on the reception hall, we decided to move up our wedding 3 months so that the paperwork could be filed in order for him to leave the country. Most people have a week long honeymoon after their weddings.  I had an appointment at an immigration firm two days later so that all the paperwork could be filed.  All worked out beautifully including a real honeymoon later.  We had to pay fees for filing all this paperwork, God always provided but there were hoops to jump through.

            But then we moved from Ohio.  Dan and I have often joked that being in the immigration system is kind of like being on parole.  You have to make sure that everyone knows where you are and all the paperwork is filled out properly. Back then you couldn’t just walk into an office to ask a question easily.  It was complicated and overwhelming.   It was confusing and often we got different answers.  I remember once sitting in an immigration office in Orlando for 5 hours.  By this point, Dan was legally allowed to work and he had to be at work.  I was pregnant for our oldest daughter and the office had one working bathroom and  a whole lot of people from all over the world.  I sat there all day to ask a question: was told horror stories by other immigrants, and when I finally got to the front the immigration guard started making fun of me for marrying a non-US citizen. 

            Then came September 11, 2001…I think everyone around the world knew what they were doing that day.  A few days after the dust settled Dan got his Green Card in the mail.  After 9/11 I will say immigration improved.  Instead of waiting for 5 hours in a one bathroom office and a metal detector, you could actually call a government phone number and wait on hold.  But at least you were in the privacy of your own home; they could access your files, and give you answers. 

I never wanted to make a big deal about Dan becoming a US citizen.  I think initially he seriously considered not doing so and just renewing his Green Card, but I’m so grateful he came to the conclusion to become a citizen.  In 2006 after interviews, fingerprints scans, years of letters sporadically that told us where and when we needed to be, and fees we needed to pay, he became a citizen. He studied hard for the test and was really annoyed when it wasn’t as hard as he thought it should be.  He has always been a contributing member to our nation and society.  He is a hard worker and a man of ‘classic American dreams’.  He prays for this nation.  He votes for righteousness. He loves this nation.  He is awesome.

            The topic of immigration and immigration reform is something I listen to now, because I’ve walked through the system.  As a born American citizen, and my husband a naturalized citizen I think that I probably have a better understanding of it then most Americans. It is a challenge.  It does not happen overnight.  It can get frustrating.  This nation was founded on immigrants.  I believe in that, but Dan and I went through the process legally.  When the immigration office told us to show up for interviews, the test, the swearing in, etc we had to jump.  He took time off of work and we paid the fees.

I get annoyed at so many people coming over to this country illegally and many just want to rewards for their illegal actions. I’m all for people coming to the US, but they have to do so like everyone else.  They have to go through the proper channels and authorities.  If we want people to be here and be upstanding members of our society don’t we want people that will uphold our laws? Why should we make exceptions for people because they broke the law?  Honestly it’s not the immigrant that I find all the fault in this, they are trying to make a better life for themselves,  it’s the people who will employ them and the lawmakers that make exceptions for them once they’re here.  I also understand that Dan and I were educated and not everyone around the world would have the access to what we did in order to go through the hoops, however so many aren’t even trying.  They are demanding their ways into our country illegally and then getting offended when we ask they do it legally. I firmly disagree with safe haven cities.  I think everyone should have to obey the law. The double standard to this is beyond crazy.  It’s not out of fear that I think people should have background checks and not have terrorist ties before entering our nation.  That’s called wisdom.  It’s not because I don’t feel compassion for people who are fleeing horrific conditions that I would ask that.  That’s not racist.  My husband had to go through that.  Why shouldn’t they? Why are we making exceptions for people because they like to yell and protest?  The noisy wheel doesn’t always need all the attention.

I also want to address this stereotype that some Americans have with immigrants.  Recently I was discussing our story with someone on social media and an individual starting going off about how the immigrants of today are not what they were 200 years ago.  I genuinely understood what she was trying to say, and no she didn’t offend me.  But what she was saying is a stereotype.  My husband and I are sure many other immigrants are contributors to our country.  We must try not to stereotype ever, no matter what side of a debate you are on.  It’s my hope in sharing our story, that people see that the immigration system is flawed, but still needs to be enforced and we shouldn’t make exceptions to that.  Maybe it can be improved, but asking people to come to our country legally isn’t racist.  You wouldn’t invite a serial killer (I’m not saying all immigrants are serial killers) into your house.  It’s just wisdom.  

Whatever side of a situation you find yourself on: Loving someone doesn't mean you agree with everything, Disagreeing doesn't have to equal hate.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Real Solutions with Anna M. Aquino interveiws Marty Jean-Louis founder of 'My Christian Films'


Check out this exciting episode of Real Solutions where I interview Marty Jean-Louis, founder of 'My Christian Films'.

Be inspired and encouraged as you hear his journey to find his destiny and see what God has done through him as he and his team impacts the film industry.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Real Solutions Interviews Milam Byers with Food For The Hungry

Hello Awesome People,
On today's Real Solutions I interviewed Milam Byers with Food For The Hungry.  I learned about this awesome organization when 'Third Day' came into town for a concert and I ended up volunteering to help them. Third Day tours with Food For The Hungry.  I was put on the Food For The Hungry team to help them get their children sponsored.  I started talking with the guy in charge of that part of the event and found out he was Jared Byers who was the drummer for Audio Adrenaline for a lot of years and has also been in some other well-known bands.  Milam is Jared's brother who works with Food For The Hungry directly and also has a lot of known music years behind him.
This is an amazing organization.  I feel like it was a divine appointment that I was able to meet them all.  Watch the interview and get involved.  The unique thing about 'Food For The Hungry' is that they believe in bringing life to the communities they go into and then leaving once they are sustaining.  They are doing this all over the world. 
Here is this awesome video https://youtu.be/xiUi7VNTcvc 
In this holiday season when many are looking at what they can do for those around us www.FH.org is a great place to start.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Monday, November 7, 2016

From the School House to the White House


            I want to share something that’s been on my heart lately and perhaps on the eve of America’s most historical election it seems like an odd time to share it, but I feel like I need to.

Ronald Reagan once said, Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

            Twenty years ago, give or take a few, when I was in high school/college.  It was a different world.  Sure the older folks complained about us whipper snappers, but innocence didn’t seem lost.  I remember when Ellen came out of the closet she was shunned and put off the air.  I remember I saw a drug deal once in high school.  In college (Ohio State University) I took a Human Sexuality class because it fulfilled a requirement, and really the class stayed pretty much on the topics and didn’t force a world agenda at us.  Sure evolution was talked about in other classes, but so were other theories of the origin of man.  I am not saying that twenty years ago we didn’t have a sinful society, but I guess I am saying that there was a moral standard.  (Or at least it seemed) People weren’t open and flaunting their choices to go against the Bible as much, and if they were it didn’t last long.

            Today I  have a 15 year old who is both virtual schooled in high school and goes to a community college part time. Many of you know that in Florida we had both our children in a typical school and we had a fight with the science teacher who called me a “bad mom” for encouraging my daughter to stand up for her faith when he bullied her and singled her out to make fun of Christianity. Choosing to put her back into this kind environment in college was a challenge, but we knew it was right for her.  She’s a strong kiddo.  The semester she started college was last year at 14.  She made a choice to take a Philosophy class.  While we knew she would be facing contrary belief systems she felt she was ready.  However what happened as a parent and an observer to our culture left me stunned.  They were taught that people are just animals and that they don’t have the ability to morally choose right from wrong.  So therefore they weren’t obligated to moral absolutes. There was no ‘right or wrong’.  For a whole semester my sweet daughter would leave that class and tell me how off this teaching was, for a whole semester she’d cry to me, “Mom, I know these things aren’t true but so many of these kids are believing this.”  Recently, she’s been taking an Anthropology class.  We somehow thought that the study of ‘Peoples and Culture’ wouldn’t have things like this in the class . . . but we were wrong.  I was helping her with homework the other day, and I couldn’t believe what their idea of ‘Peoples and Culture’ is.  There were units and entire sections on sexuality and gender roles.  They went on to support sexual choice, transgenderism, and including incest (oh yes, they justified it under a thin veil of ‘science’), the unit went on to discuss what they felt about the changes of masculinity and the family the way they saw it.  My daughter is correct.  So many of these kiddos don’t know the Bible and it’s no wonder that hearing all of this anti-God drivel messes them up. She tells me that she’s been told next semester at the beginning of the term the teachers are going to have to go around and meet each child so the child can tell them if they are a boy or a girl.  Today the moral decline is celebrated.  Sin is paraded about, and we are mocking God as a nation.

            We are at a Crossroads in America and no matter who is elected tomorrow, our nation will change.  I have not hidden the fact I’m voting for Trump for a whole list of reasons.  Many say they can’t vote for him due to ethical reasons but again to that I say, you can learn a lot about someone based on who they surround themselves with, and VP Pence is a man I can get behind.  Here is his address to the church.  Please watch it! https://youtu.be/oUkdvxqCKtg  He wasn’t my first choice, but I’ve been pretty clear as to how I came to this conclusion.

I was surprised to read an article on msn yesterday talking about certain swing states and this article was insulting Trump supporters suggesting they were mostly uneducated.  If ‘education’ means we tell children what their moral code should be based on an ungodly agenda, how is that an education?   There is an agenda behind all of this, and we as believers need to wake up!  This is a diabolical plot to brainwash children. I am not suggesting we stop educating our children, but I am suggesting we are active parents.  I am suggesting that perhaps we are a little pickier about the people we appoint to the Department of Education, and School Boards.  Those are the elections that matter too.  We must be vigilant on how we raise our children folks.

            I’m concerned as a parent, an American, and a member of the kingdom of God at the moral decline in our nation.  It didn’t change overnight.  It started when prayer was taken out of schools, it started when the Johnson Amendment gagged churches from teaching children the truth, and it started with Roe V. Wade.  The declines in the morality of this nation started a long time ago and yet many are in this ‘we can’t vote for either candidate because they don’t support more morals’ place.  If we want America to rise up a standard then we need to raise that standard.  It doesn’t just start with who is President, but it starts in the family.  It starts in the Education of our Children.  However flawed both candidates are we are a nation that voted them there. Only 5 million Christians voted in the primaries but yet now they are going to complain about these two choices?!

            Abraham Lincoln said, “The philosophy in the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next." Beyond just this election there is a generation that needs a touch from heaven.  Beyond this election the next generation are being brainwashed by our culture and we as leaders, parents, and friends need to say enough is enough.  We must stand for righteousness. “If we ever forget we are a nation under God we will be a nation gone under” ~Ronald Reagan.
       God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!


Real Solutions and VP Mike Pence's Message to the Church

Hello :-)

Today for Real Solutions I reaired the election episode with Pastor JC Church.  If you haven't seen it then please check it out here. https://youtu.be/XsHoB-nEQy4

Yesterday our Pastors shared this message from Mike Pence in our church https://youtu.be/oUkdvxqCKtg  I think many needed to hear this. For the many who have said to me they just aren't sure they can vote for Trump but know they can't vote for Hillary. . .I wanted to share that video.  I don't believe either canidate is perfect, but I do believe Trump is surrounding himself with people I can get behind.  Pence is a precious man of God who has stood up for righteousness within our government at many times.  

If you are an American please make sure if you haven't early voted that you vote tomorrow.  If you are not an American then please pray for our country.  America is standing at a crossroads.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  So you get excited.