In My Opinion

The Blue Line Battlefield

It always starts out as a normal day. You are always “just” doing something; gassing up, eating lunch, routine traffic stops, picking the kids up from school, rushing from meeting to meeting, fixing dinner, etc. The calls just come. The knock on the door just happens. There is rarely any warning. And there is nothing that can prepare you.

But “it” happens.

Line of Duty deaths are up 15% this year. Gunfire deaths are up 31%. My friend, Mel, said it best last night, “It’s a war zone out there.” It is. It’s a war zone.

There are self-proclaimed “revolutionaries”  out there. There are people who hate law enforcement out there. And “out there” is at our front doors. “Out there” is in our face. They are living in our communities. They are our neighbors. They are people we see in the grocery store. And our officers are their targets.

And yet the Blue Line Family keeps moving. Our officers keep going out on their shifts and they keep doing their job. And sometimes they come home and sometimes they don’t. But as spouses, we still have to go to work and take the kids to school and feed them and keep moving. We have to watch our kids graduate from highschool without their other parent. And while hundreds of members of our Blue Line Family come in support and sit with us and cheer and hold us, it’s not the same.

In a matter of a week, the United States lost 4 officers. 3 of those were murdered in cold blood. Because they were doing their jobs. Because they wore the badge. And there are wives and children who are waking up to a new “normal” today.

You may not be a murderer. You may not be a thief. You may not drive drunk or even speed. You may be a fine, upstanding citizen. But if you are someone who badmouths those who wear the badge or if you are someone who takes a passive stance on our Law Enforcement Community, you are contributing to the demise of our heroes.

In this “war zone” we are living in today, there is no room for anything but support and encouragement of our Law Enforcement Officers. There is no room for dissention. There is no room for bad mouthing. There is no room for politics. There is no room and there is no time for sitting back or passive outlooks.

The time for action has flown by us. We are in a war zone.

Now is the time as citizens, as members of the Blue Line Family to be proactive. Now is the time to make sure that we are watching out for each other. Now is the time to make sure that those who control budgets and legislative decisions have the best interest of those who wear the badge. Now is the time to address mental illness and treatments. Now is the time to stand up and with our Law Enforcement Community.

Law Enforcement Officers are not a special interest group. They are the men and women who choose to defend and protect. They are the ones that stand between the monsters and the weak. They are the ones who stay awake while the rest of us go to sleep. And their families are the ones who keep the home front moving forward. They sacrifice and serve right along side their officer. They are not a special interest group. They are heroes.

This war zone is not going away. But we can help slow it down. Take an active stance. Support your Law Enforcement Community. Be proactive. Make sure that your community leaders are supporting them. Make sure that those who want to be your community leaders will support them.

And pray. Pray for those who won’t come home. Pray for the ones left behind. And pray for those who continue to wear the badge and those who send them out every shift, awaiting their return.

Police Week 2014 {It’s Personal}

Today marks the beginning of a bittersweet week. All around the country, Law Enforcement Agencies will honor those who have given the Ultimate Sacrifice, laying down their lives for their brothers and sisters who wear the badge and the communities they serve. In Columbus we will hold our own service on Thursday evening and welcome all to attend as we remember those in our area who have died in the line of duty in 2013.

One of mine and Randy’s dear friends is on the list of Line of Duty deaths and reading Keith’s name on Thursday night will be one of the toughest things I have ever done. But while we lose over 100 officers to line of duty deaths nationally every year, we lose even more to suicide. There are many factors, as with any suicide, but shift work, the culture within Law Enforcement, personal issues, legal issues (both personal and professional), and yes, the pressures placed on officers by our society and culture, all play a part in Law Enforcement suicide. We have experienced that in Columbus, in our own Law Enforcement family. It is a tragic reality of The Job. And just as with suicide in any other circumstance, we are faced with questions that will never be answered, guilt, and sorrow that runs deep.

As a Law Enforcement family and supporters, what can we do to help? How can we help lower the number of line of duty deaths and suicides?

  • MOVE OVER, PEOPLE! When you see an officer on the side of the road, slow down and move over.
  • Take time to thank your law enforcement officers when you see them. Whether it’s in a restaurant and you actually say “thank you for what you do” or it’s at a stoplight and you give a friendly smile and wave, be kind. It makes a difference.
  • If you know a LEO, are related to a LEO, have an acquaintance that is an LEO, lift them up. Lend an ear. Support their spouses and children. Be there. Offer to pick the kids up one day. Babysit on a night the LEO is off so that they can go on a date. Cut their grass. Be a friend.

Police Week is more than the memorial service, although that is a huge and incredibly important part. It’s more than the tragedies that we have experienced as the Law Enforcement Community. This week is also about appreciating what these men and women do. It’s about showing support. And when I say support, it’s more than a blue ribbon on your car or lapel, even though they love seeing that. It’s more than a wreath, even though it’s beautiful and again, means a lot to see. It’s more than a Facebook banner picture and it’s more than a tweet, although ALL of those things are awesome.

Police Week is personal. Shake a hand. Buy a meal. Smile. Say thank you. There may be officers in your community hurting. There may be officers grieving the loss of a fellow LEO. Be kind. Show your gratitude. As a LEO wife, I can tell you, it turns their day around. It means something to them.

Remember, you sleep peacefully at night because these men and women stand ready to do violence on  your behalf. They leave home every day, not knowing if they will return. And, as we look to the Memorial Services across the nation this week, we know that some of them give their lives to their last breath in defense of their own community. That is something to be thankful for and proud of.

Budgets, Badges, and Votes

I need to admit something. I am not your “normal” Law Enforcement spouse. I haven’t spent years with my husband being on patrol or morning watch. I haven’t been with him while he worked the Metro Narcotics Task Force. And I haven’t come home to black eyes and broken bones on a husband who had just worked a shift at the jail.

However, in our time together, I have waited hours without knowing if my husband was actually ok. I have waited through man-hunts and hostage situations. I have learned after the fact that my husband wasn’t responding to a text because he was breaking up courtroom brawls. I have watched him carry extra ammo on his belt because there are extra tensions and hatred towards Law Enforcement Professionals on any given day. And I have sat with him at our kitchen table and worked our way through our budget for the year, month, and sometimes, week.

It is for these latter reasons that I am proud to be the wife of an LEO. And I am ashamed of those who don’t understand, refuse to try to understand, and worse still, pretend that they know what it is like to wait for the door to open, breathing that sigh of relief that he simply made it home.

With budgets shrinking and the cost of living growing, it is shameful that when we look at what has to go, we even consider putting Public Safety on that list. At the heart of every successful community, the safety of it’s citizens is always at the top. Why? Because when you feel safe, when you feel that your children are safe, you are more likely to stay. You are more likely to brag on your community. You are more apt to respect, support and trust those who claim to have your best interest at heart.

As a wife who knows the struggles, not only emotionally, but financially of being with someone who’s calling is protecting his community, I am infuriated by those who condescendingly reproach those who do not agree with their “management style” and I am disgusted by those who have never walked in my shoes or those of husband and yet claim to know better than we do about our salaries, raises and healthcare, or lack thereof.

No, I don’t have a business degree or a law degree. But my husband and I are well equipped, both mentally and educationally, to know what is best for our family, and how our government should work and how it actually works.

Being told by those elected to lead our community that we are too emotionally invested and that we don’t understand how government, both past and present, work is insulting, not only to our intellect, but to our families as a whole. Being asked if we really know what we are talking about as if they know the inner-workings of our household budget and have spent long hours in quiet anxiety waiting for their loved ones to walk through the door or simply send a text message is degrading and shows a sheer lack of genuine compassion and respect. 

It’s not just our spouses who choose to serve our community, it is our families as well. Whether it’s the LEO picking up extra jobs or the spouse, we are in it together when it comes to providing for our family’s needs, with or without the help of those who stood in front of a microphone and promised to stand with us. And whether it’s the LEO on the street working to prevent and solve crime or the LEO spouse waiting at home, both are committed to a life of protecting their neighbors whether it’s wearing the badge or supporting the one wearing badge.

It’s time that Law Enforcement Officers, their families, and those who are simply aware that they sleep peacefully in their beds at night while brave men and women keep watch, choose leaders who are committed to supporting our Law Enforcement agencies and those who serve in them. Whether they are running for City Council or Mayor, support those who support you. Those who are committed to Public Safety. Those who realize that until our community is safe, we will never be able to keep our young professionals, our parents with children, and attract the economic development opportunities that our community is so deserving of.

Here’s to the Women

Today at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, we celebrated Women’s Suffrage Day as a part of Women’s History month. In a photo op on the stairs, women from all walks of life wore yellow roses and stood for a photo op to commemorate the occasion. It’s been 94 years since women won the right to vote and as a woman who loves the world of politics and all the craziness it brings, I am so grateful for those women and the gift they passed down. I believe it is so important for us, as women, to realize the hard work that went into our right to vote and to honor the women who gave us our collective voice.

So, here’s to women who patiently worked for the place in American culture that women now have. Here’s to the women who have worked. Period. At home, at the office, as leaders, as followers, in the spotlight and in the back ground. Here’s to the women who have been advocates, who have needed advocates, who have organized and gathered.

Here’s to the women who have started businesses, led non-profits, run for elected office, and helped to build up their local communities. Here’s to the women who have refused to allow themselves to be used by those with impure agendas. Here’s to the women who have stood up for themselves and realized when others are taking advantage. Here’s to the women who have worked to educate themselves in schools of higher education, in the workplace, and in the world we live in.

Here’s to the women who lead with grace, who work well with others, and who fight with that little extra pep in their step. Here’s to the women who know how to get what they want without being a bully, without hurting others, and without forsaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Here’s to the women who love other women, realizing that it’s when we are working together that we carry out what needs to be done. Here’s to the women who can leave work at work, nourishing friendships and grabbing that glass of wine after a hard day.

Here’s to the women who don’t take it personally. Here’s to the women who come to the table with ideas, solutions, and answers, willing to “fail with pride”, able to take the criticism and use it to better (or scratch altogether) the idea at hand.

Here’s to the women who work to bring people together, give credit where it is due, and work for the greater good and not personal gain. Here’s to the women who appreciate smart people, people smarter than themselves, people whom they can learn from.

Here’s to the women who seized the day, saw the bigger picture, and refused to sit back and let the status quo remain. Here’s to the women who used their voices, and fought for girls and women for generations to come so that we all might have a seat at the table.

Ladies, let’s always be mindful of these women and of the sacrifices that they made almost 100 years ago. As we go about our lives, no matter what our occupation or job might be, let’s always strive to be women that our fore-mothers would be proud of today. Not cunning or vengeful, but smart and pro-active. Not a bully or hateful, but persuasive and kind. Not deceitful or condescending, but truthful and earnest.

Here’s to the Women.

Life, Death, and being a Garcia.

Death can bring out the best and the worst in people. It can draw out old stories, new stories, forgotten stories. It can help to put anger and bitterness away. It can bring remorse and regret. It can be peaceful or tragic. It can take your breath away or simply close a chapter.

In the last month, our family has lost two Garcia men. Such quick succession is hard to wrap your mind around and is piercing to your heart. And yet, as we reach the final leg of our 3 day round-trip to Louisville, Kentucky one week after a 3 day round-trip to Port Arthur, Texas, I find myself sad and grieving, but content and proud and feeling incredibly loved.

My Uncle Ben was the first to leave us. A loner of a man, unlike the rest of his 6 brothers, my memories of him are sweet. Dinners around my dad’s parent’s table, throwing pecans at the stop sign at the end of the street, and naps snuggled in the crook of his arm are all thoughts that bring a smile to my face. His death closes a chapter of a life lived, seemingly, a lifetime ago. Almost as if he was the last link to my dad’s parents, even though there are three brothers still living. Uncle Ben was a constant to our visits to Texas, always at Grandma and Papaw’s for some length of time to say hello and give (and get) a hug. His life was celebrated last Saturday in Port Arthur, Texas.

Uncle Jess left us Wednesday afternoon. His loss is the kind that has left me and so many others, just gasping for breath at times. A smiling man with a generous and kind heart, he had what my dad calls “a sparkle” or as my sweet Grandmother of the heart said on Wednesday “The last of the most beautiful men to ever walk in Malakoff, Texas is gone.” It’s true, Uncle Jess was a striking man in appearance, but even more so, he made you feel as if you were the only person in the room. His ability to make you feel special, to let you know he cared, is one of the things I will miss the most.

My dad gave the Garcia family history at Uncle Jess’ memorial service yesterday. Dad doesn’t talk about his younger years much. I could feel myself and my siblings leaning forward a bit, hanging on to each word, as he told of his mother and dad, how they met, and the life they led together until his mother’s untimely death at the age of 43. He spoke of the work ethic of his dad, leaving Malakoff for Port Arthur to work for the Texaco Oil Refineries, something most would see as a desertion of one’s family, but for Papaw and Grandmother Manuela, he was simply providing for his rather large family of 9. Dad talked about how the oldest boy took over as head of the house after Grandmother Manuela died, leaving as they reached the age of the draft or of college, the next oldest picking up where the other left off. Dad and his brother, Edward, eventually went to live with the Surls family when Dad was in the 8th grade. Papaw did remarry when Dad was 14, when he met “Grandma” Theresa Solis Garcia for whom I am named.

Dad talked about work ethic instilled in him by his dad and brothers, namely Jess. And how Uncle Jess brought back to the younger boys the expectation of a college education, raising the bar so high that by the time Dad was college age, there was no doubt in his mind that he would be pursuing a higher education.

As we sat with cousins and my sweet Aunt Tootsie this weekend, listening to stories, telling our own, and holding onto one another for the short amount of time we had all together, it was difficult not to feel an overwhelming sense of pride in being a “Garcia.”

No, my dad is not perfect. Neither are his brothers. But the legacy they have given us as their off-spring is a rich one, a history full of hardworking men and women who loved and served their country, provided for their families, and have given generously to those who have crossed their paths. Perhaps being raised with little to nothing is what contributes to their generosity today. Or maybe it’s wanting more for others than for themselves. I’m not sure. What I do know is that if I can live up to just half of the example set before me, I’ll be doing pretty good.

We were able to spend some time at my Uncle Jess and Aunt Toot’s family home in Sellersburg, IN this weekend. Walking through the door, I was immediately hit with the familiar scent that is Uncle Jess and Aunt Toots. As my siblings and I lingered over old photos, art work, and sat in rooms so dear to our childhood and growing up experience, I had to remind myself over and over again that the best of what my Uncle and Aunt have left us is not material or tangible. Instead they have given us a beautiful example of a marriage that was 58 years strong, cousins to love and hold onto, a legacy of hard work and dedication that was evident on Saturday afternoon as co-workers and employees of my Uncle filled the funeral home, and stories to tell of sunny afternoons in the hammock, cool summer nights in the basement playing pool, fishing in the pond, family dinners in a crowded kitchen, and love. Lots and lots of love.

I am thankful that my parents were committed to me and my siblings having a relationship with the Garcias and that they gave us the opportunity to be influenced by our uncles and their families.

Yes, we are two less Garcia men as of this week, but we are full of history, love, and a legacy of strong-willed men (and women) who have come from very little, speaking little to no English, and have created a life for themselves and those they love.

{Real} Food in 2014

Back in October of last year, Randy and I made the decision to cut carbs and simple sugars out of our diet. Our main reasons being weight loss and general health. The first few weeks were pretty hard, mostly because there are some carbs that we both l-o-v-e. A lot.

But we have both seen (almost) immediate results. Randy lost 12 pounds like it was his job and I lost 10 like it was a moderate hobby. Men and their weight loss ability make me sick. Can I get an “amen”, ladies?

We aren’t huge sweets people. I mean, I love chocolate, but we don’t keep sweets in the house. Randy is addicted to popcorn like nobody’s business. And not the kinda-healthy-kind. The 2-buckets-at-the-movie-theater-before-the-movie-is-even-over kind.

Breakfast is pretty easy, just cut the toast (or tortillas). We eat a lot of eggs and meat. Most of the eggs we eat are from our own chickens. We don’t have “free-range” chickens, but we know what is going into their little bodies. We don’t eat pork (for non-religious, non-health reasons) so our meat mostly consists of chicken, beef, and turkey anything.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hello, Hello…

…I don’t know why you say ‘goodbye’, I say hello…

Oh, how I love beginnings. They are fresh and pure, untarnished by the past, an opportunity for a “do-over.” And that is how we treat January 1st of every year. It’s a new year, a new day, a chance for a fresh start.

But 2014 has a lot to live up to in the Robertson house. 2013 was good to our family.

  • Sarah Ann graduated from Georgia Tech!

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  • We were able to spend a few days in one of our favorite places, Linville, North Carolina, for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Cold and rain in July! What more could these two Scotland lovers want?

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“Life ain’t Always Beautiful, but it’s a Beautiful Ride…”

There are a lot of words to describe my life; weird, crazy, unconventional, non-traditional, hilarious, adventurous…I could go on all day. Randy and I share big parts of it like kids, grandkids, causes we are dedicated to, our love for each other. What we don’t often share is some of the crazy (although you can probably read between the lines most of the time), some of the tears, frustrations, or even all of our happy. That’s mostly because I have an incredibly private husband (I know, I know…you wouldn’t have guessed that from reading the paper or watching the news) and partly because we live in a world full of judgement and criticism.

But hey, haters gonna hate.

Right?

Here’s the thing, I am firmly convinced that God planned out both mine and Randy’s paths to bring us to where we are today. Because of that, I don’t want to hide what makes our life so different. I don’t want to hide the ugly parts, the unfinished parts, the parts that have come unraveled or snagged. Because I believe that God uses those things for His glory because He is the one who planned it all out.

So, yes, there is a 25.5 year age difference between me and my smokin’ hot husband. And I believe that we are in an imperfect marriage designed by a perfect God. We have two kids who are not that much younger than me. Yes, that can be hard, but I 100% believe that God placed us in each others lives for a reason.

And y’all, I’m a grandma.

Or “Geege” to the absolute best and sweetest and most precious little 15 month old girl that has ever walked this earth.

And I have relationships with my husband’s ex-wives. Praise the Lord for that.

Seriously.

I believe that BOTH of those relationships are proof of God’s mercy and grace. God calls us to love. And while both relationships had rocky starts, one is about has perfect as it can be and the other one is getting there.

God promises that His grace will be sufficient. Actually He said,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Believe me when I say that none of this life that I lead is about being perfect or being strong. Believe me when I say that I am weak and fully admit my need for Christ and His grace. In fact, all I have to boast about are my weaknesses.

My parents still don’t really approve of my marriage. And that’s ok. I am-once again-convinced that the Lord is using that too.

For what?

I am not totally sure. Maybe to break me of my need for the approval of anyone but Christ. Maybe to make me trust in the Lord with ALL of my heart. Maybe to make them trust the Lord more. Most definitely to push me towards the cross.

As I watch friends and acquaintances start their new marriages (to people their own age), or have babies, or even begin new careers, I look at my weird, crazy, unconventional, non-traditional, hilarious, adventurous life and have total peace that I am exactly where God wants me to be. Yeah, my husband is not exactly my age-and don’t be looking for any Garcia-Robertson babies- we may have a odd-looking family tree, there may be parts that don’t make sense to the outsider, but my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

This life didn’t just happen. It was mapped out before Randy or I were even around. And I believe that God will be faithful to complete that which He began.

I will fight for you

Dear Sally,

You need to know that I will always fight for you.

When you are 13 months old and pitching a fit on the floor because I told you not to take change out of Granddaddy’s bowl and I have to spank you…that is me fighting for you.

When you are five years old and get sassy with me causing you to get a spanking and not get to watch Dora the Explorer, that is me fighting for you.

When you are ten years old and you come home crying because you didn’t get the part you wanted in the school play and we go get ice cream before dinner, that is me fighting for you.

When you are sixteen and you break curfew and are grounded the following weekend, that is me fighting for you.

When you are eighteen and we stay up all night finishing college applications, that is me fighting for you.

When you are thirty-five (AT LEAST) and we are planning your wedding, that will be me fighting for you.

Every punishment, every hug, every kiss, every time you are mad at me because I said no, every time you need me to be there and even when you think you don’t and I am there anyway, that is me fighting for you.

I will fight for you because I love you. Because I want more for you. Because I want you to know what true, Christ-like love looks like. Because I want you to be a well rounded person who understands respect for others, boundaries, rules, compassion, mercy, and how to behave in public. I want you be comfortable in your own skin and proud to be a “Robertson.” I want you to understand that beauty comes from the inside out.

I promise to fight for you, every single day. Just remember that when you aren’t happy with me and when we are butting heads.

I will fight for you.

The Storm to Sunshine Ratio

For Christmas my mother gave me a 2-CD set of 10-12 minute devotionals for me to listen to while I am out on the road for work. I started listening to them as soon as I started back to work in January and it is became the part of my drive that I looked forward to the most. These women pour their hearts out, speaking to the struggles in their own lives, owning up to their shortcomings.

One of the last devotionals was by someone I have grown to love dearly over the last few years. Angie Smith lives a beautiful life, filled with ups and downs, happiness and unspeakable tragedy. I have linked to her blog above and hope that you will take the time to see what God has done in her life and how He has used Angie and her family to bring glory to Himself. As I listened to Angie actually speak her story the other morning, I was struck by her openness and the raw honesty and emotion that filled her voice. She talked about how she had worked to create this fairy tale life for her family, for her girls. And how that was actually a disservice to them and to her. If you are always shielding, always pretending, how do you deal with the storms that come your way.

It hit me like a brick. I  do the same thing. I create and put forth a pretend world for myself and everyone else. This is not to say I am not a genuinely happy person with a wonderful life. I have more blessings than I can count and I can see God’s faithfulness so clearly in my day-to-day world.

But my life is not perfect. There are storms that Randy and I deal with on a daily basis. And I believe that God has been bringing the storms to my attention more and more. I am beginning to see that I am guilty of ignoring the problems in my life until it pops up, taking Randy and me by surprise and then I act as if I am shocked that we have an issue at all.

I have two young adults in my life who do not biologically belong to me. Yet they are mine. No matter how you slice it, these two young people belong to me. Their struggles and victories effect mine and Randy’s life. I want for Sara and Seth the success that anyone who loves another person wants for that loved one.

I have a teensy-wincy one that does not genetically belong to me as well. And yet, my heart belongs to Sally as if I had birthed her myself. The sleepless nights-whether she is with us or not-are a result of a love that I cannot explain or comprehend.

Randy and I are faced regularly with issues concerning these young adults and the teensy-wincy one and their respective wellbeing. There are days when we are both at a loss as to how to deal with the challenges that arise.

And then I start to measure the storm to sunshine ratio.

Yes, there are parts of our lives that I would tweak. Who doesn’t have that thought? But I am reminding myself a little more regularly that we have a lot of sunshine. It may come in small rays some days, but the sunshine is there.

And it will continue to come.

Yes, there are struggles. I have some serious lessons in mercy, forgiveness, and patience that I am learning at an incredibly slow pace. But my sunshine walks through my front door every evening about the same time. And he holds my hand when we are driving down the road. And there is peace in knowing that God is in control. Our story is in His hands and He set it’s course long before we even knew each other.

So, yes, it has been raining for quite some time, but God has allowed the sun to shine in the moments I have needed the warmth of it’s rays most. My storm to sun ratio is working out just fine.

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