30 Days of Thankfulness

November has signified 30-days of thankfulness, for me (and others) for many years. It’s a kick start, really. You see there is actually a “30 Days of Thankfulness” challenge that I have participated in for years. Each year it often occurs in the month of November.

Here is my challenge to you:

First, you will need some paper and a writing utensil. I suggest that you get a small notebook or journal to write these things down in. Get one you like, in the color(s) you like because it will encourage you to keep on track with the challenge as well as complete the full 30-days.

Or if you are crafty this is a good time to make this a fun journal making project in preparation for this challenge. It only will take 8-pages of copy/printer paper or lined paper folded in half. You can staple them or punch holes in them and tie a string or ribbon in the holes.

Then pick a time of your day in which you can devote a few minutes of your time to meet the challenge.

If you are an “early morning” person search your previous day’s events and find something you are thankful for, something you appreciate. Now starting with your journal with “Day 1” and then write what you are thankful for in your journal for that day.

But wait, I bet some of you are wondering what type of things to write down.

Well, let’s think… what are some of the things you can be thankful for?

For me, there are days I am thankful for the air I breathe. Other days I am thankful for the kindness shown to me. Yet still, there are days I am thankful for the memories of my mother, son, brothers and some treasured pets who are dearly departed. Heck, over the years, I am sure there are days I have been thankful for being able to get out of bed or walk (but that is because I broke a leg, severely – amputated my left foot and ankle – a few years back). I have even been thankful for getting 6 hours of sleep, consecutive.

Your notes/writings do not need to be long. Actually, it is often suggested to have the “penning’s” be about 40 words. As you see above, some of the things I have previously been thankful for have been 7 to 10 words long. Hence, it’s not a challenge designed to add stress to your life. It is actually designed to remind you of all of the things, big and small, that you can and do appreciate.

Here’s to hoping this helps you start a new tradition in your family’s and your life – the acknowledgment of thankfulness.

Write on!

Building a Cornerstone of Our Community

If you could help your neighbors for less than the price of Netflix Streaming service charge or for less than two Grande’s at the local specialty coffee house and/or less than three gallons of gas – wouldn’t you?

“I know it’s not a lot,” but many hands make short work, “and that is all it’s going to take if 600 people decide to donate $10 per month for one year for us to not only continue what we’ve been doing but expand and meet the needs here in Kern County,” Counselor and President of Cornerstone Center for Counseling and Discipleship Pastor Joshua Pierce said encouragingly.

Born and raised in Tehachapi, Pierce decided to come home, after earning his master’s in divinity, to pastor to others, by, in part, “opening an addiction center that will help those with drug addiction here in the Tehachapi Valley,” Pierce said. “And I figured opening a nonprofit Christian counseling ministry, here in my home town, was my best way to honor my calling and my community.”

JoshConerstone

Over the last year, the Cornerstone Center for Counseling and Discipleship has been providing low-cost counseling and personal development seminars to the Tehachapi Community and others in Kern County. But it is time to move forward.

The county is far from immune to the every-growing use, abuse and overdoses associated with opioids – drugs that have addictive properties as well as physiological effects on the people ingesting them.

The latest statistics show that “23.9 deaths per 100,000 people” have occurred in this county, with deaths due to drug-related causes being on the rise each year, according to the Conduent Healthy Communities Institute. Kern County has well over 874,000 people, according to the World Atlas which means opioids account for 209 plus deaths and this number does not including those still actively addicted.

“Our goal is to offer hope and healing to our community,” Pierce said admitting it is time to build on to his dream and vision of giving to his community.

“The next step in Cornerstone’s path is to start an addiction center [a brick and mortar center] that will benefit those with drug addictions, here in the Tehachapi Valley,” Pierce stated.

Pierce, and the others at Cornerstone, understand that receiving help for an addiction can be costly and finding affordable quality care is often out of the reach for many who need it the most – those with addictions.

“But, with the help of our generous community members we can make this help available to those who need it the most,” Pierce said. “And you can help for less than the price of a monthly Streaming Netflix rental.”

Cornerstone is looking to find 600 people who are willing to donate $10 per month for one year. As of this post, they have reached 12.5 percent of their goal.

“Donations can be made once or you can spread out of your donation over the months as we have been able to set up an auto-pay donation at http://www.cornerstoneccd.com  Pierce said. “Or you can send your donations by way of check to Cornerstone Center 1121 W Valley Blvd #225, Tehachapi, Calif. 93561.”

The goal is to open the offices of Cornerstone in October of 2019, but until full funding is achieved the counseling will continue on its ever-growing pace.

For those wishing more info visit the website, email Pastor Pierce at joshua@CornerstoneCCD.org or call the office at 661-750-0439.

When Love Takes You From Trial to Trail

When tempers flare and restraining orders become necessary … sometimes the next phone call is life-shattering. That is exactly what happened in Dee Fournier’s family July 17, 2002 when an officer knocked on the door.

“The officer knocked on our dad’s door,” Fournier, “and then dad made the call to mom.”

That was followed by the parents splitting up the notification to their four other children that their oldest “sister had been murdered by her estranged husband.”

“I remember waking to my husband yelling for me,” Fournier said. “He woke me from a blissful sleep. And after I got to the phone my mother told me – ‘He shot her. He killed her, right in front of the kids,’ my mother said between sobs.”

Dee and Juli

Left to right – Dee Fournier and her sister, Juli.

Juli had been married to her husband, and the father of her two children, for “15 to 18 years”, Fournier recalls. “While she said she was unhappy and they argued, she never told us of any physical abuse,” Fournier said shaking her head.

But with the “if I can’t have her no one will,” attitude Juli’s husband was overheard expounding (by one of the couple’s mutual friends), one of the (possibly) first physical encounters looks to have been the deadliest.

“I just wish we’d known,” Fournier admits as the weight of guilt weighs heavy on those left behind. “It’s the ‘what ifs?’ ‘should of’, ‘could of’ and the ‘only if’ that linger,” even 17 years later, Fournier admits with grief laden eyes.

These are some of the reasons Fournier will be putting one foot in front of the other this year as she steps out on the American Discovery Trail.

 

Fournier will be walking/hiking from California “which is, in part, where I’ve been hiding from my grief” to Maine. You see, Fournier is heading back home to where her sister Juli and the other 5 siblings were raised, as well as where a good number of the family still make their homes. But this journey is not really starting in California.

“I sat, with the rest of my family, (in Florida) trial side through the first trial, in which my brother-in-law was convicted of first-degree murder.”

He exercised his ‘right’ to an appeal. But that did not change the outcome.

“My brother-in-law was found guilty, both times. Guilty of premeditated murder…” Fournier said, swallowing hard. “Well, I thought the healing would begin there,” Fournier said shaking her head. “But it didn’t. The trials were just beginning.”

Now, 17 years later, Fournier’s focus has changed. She hopes to stop running from the guilt, running from the sadness, running from the longing to be around her sister and “stop the wake of destructiveness for others and their families before domestic violence permanently and irreversibly scars them,” Fournier admits.

This is where the trail begins to lead to an end. Fournier is ready to set off on the trail of awareness and healing, but not just for her family.

“It’s ironic, it seems I have been a bit lost since my sister’s murder,” Fournier said, “and recently, as I was looking for what my purpose in life is … a friend encouraged me to follow my passion.” A light chuckle escaped Fournier’s throat. “I didn’t even recognize I had anything I was passionate about when my friend pointed out I had two things – my love for hiking and photography.”

Add the desire to not let her sister’s death be in vain and Fournier’s multi-faceted goals came into view.

“As I am out on the west coast, I decided to make the cross-country hike and head home. But not before I paid homage to my sister, her plight and all who endure any domestic violence,” Fournier said, braving a smile.

But it’s not just a 6,800 plus mile hike. Fournier will be stopping along the trail, in towns where she can talk with ladies who are experiencing domestic violence.

Stop-Domestic-Violence-Logo-525

As Fournier hikes from coast to coast she will be stopping to bring light to the serious nature of domestic violence while encouraging many to 1) not to accept such behaviors, 2) believe in themselves and their ability to stand up for themselves and their children, 3) get free and 4) “don’t let them sweet-talk you back.”

 

The trail will take Fournier through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Delaware, but then she will continue on her path up to Main where she will complete this 9-month to a yearlong hike.

american discovery trail

While Fournier’s first footfall on the trail will be on her sister’s birthday, April 24, she shares: “I would love to make it in 9 months, after all, I was delivered after that length of time,” Fournier said with a light chuckle as her heart began to ease as she realized she was heading home. All awhile knowing it may take longer depending on the number of stops.

Fournier will not be working, of course, during this 9-month plus long trek that will be bringing awareness to the multitude of dangers associated with domestic violence. There has been a GoFundMe page set up for those who would like to support her efforts to highlight, among other facts, that approximately every minute about 20 people become victims of domestic violence as pointed out by the U.S. Department of Justice report on just the non-fatal domestic violence acts.

There have already been a couple of folks step up in support of Fournier’s gallant endeavor. The Verizon Wireless company has become a sponsor as well as other individuals who are against domestic violence.

“I will be chronicling my trip along the American Discovery Trail with my camera and a diary.”

Although Fournier is aware some men are victims of domestic violence, she “will be speaking to as many women as I can,” across the U.S. near the trail “as I want to do something specifically associated with the same reason for my sister’s death.”

DeeFouriner

Dee Fournier, April 2019 conditioning for the trek of a lifetime.

Fournier will be lacing up her hiking boots, darning her backpack and hitting the trail on April 24th of 2019 at the west coast head of the trail in Point Reyes, Calif.

You can follow her on Twitter #DeeGoesFromTrialToTrail or Instagram at Deestahdiva, at her website http://deegoesfromtrialtotrail.com/ and, if you desire to, you can catch up with what Fournier is doing by going to her YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qea-QT2Ss6g. Donations can be made by going to http://www.GoFundMe.com where you will be able to look up DeeGoesFromTrialToTrail.
Dee Fournier is a strong lady who I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with over the last few years. As a former victim of domestic violence myself, I applaud Dee’s decision to take back her life all awhile speaking out to help others not end up like her sister. I know Miss Juli looks down from heaven and smiles as her baby sister begins to take back her life and inspire others to do the same. May your foot-falls be on solid ground and your voice be heard across this nation. — Kathleen Kline

Moment By Moment

Over the last few years – since the sentencing really — I have learned to give family members their space, even when I feel the need to talk to them, even when I really want to know that they are okay. I have learned my needs do not outweigh theirs. Hence when I went to send out “Merry Christmas” notes this week I deleted the one to a family member who has needed to put distance between us. And to my surprise I got a note from that family member, all on her own, a great Christmas present.

This family member was in need of chatting, processing the negative affect that infamous day is still having on many of our lives. I prayed I would have the right words. Prayed hard.

So I wrote: I know the positive stuff/outlook/attitude is a challenge at times. I stumble each week and tears often drip from my eyes many days of the week, often many times of the day. But the duration of the love drops that fall from my eyes is shorter, most days. But you are right “…nothing has been the same or even normal for 6 years.” I know the selfish people took joy from our lives… evident by this empty house I sit in, evident by the fact that my daughters and I have not spoken in year and 7 months.”

I thought to myself, nothing will ever be the same. It can’t be. Our E-man is gone.

I know we, this entire family, have a big whole in our hearts, souls and lives. Our family is now so disjointed, spread to all of the corners of the US and we are no longer tight. Add to this that many of my loved ones are not dealing with the death, let alone dealing well with the loss of such a positive part of all of our lives. But as I allow the love to stream down my face, as I wipe the love that drips from my eyes… I have chosen to do my best to not let those selfish people take more and more and more and more. They have taken enough from me, from us all.

I fake it ‘till I make it.
I am still faking it.
But there are now moments, moments that are added side by side now, that help me find the joys in the moments I am in. Temporary/limited … yes, but they are moments our boy encourages.

It was then she asked me if I was able to take a call. So I gave her my phone number (I think she was glad it had not changed) and two hours 29 minutes later we hung up. Tears were shared. Heck, the moment I heard her voice the tears began. She sounded good. We caught up. We re-ran through many things and clarity was gained for her. And some for me, too. Apologies were made. Apologies were accepted. Encouragement of more healing was given.

This life my son’s family and friends are now living is not a life we had thought we would be living. But it is a life that we must be lived. It is a life we must find a way to live. Find a way to put one foot in front of the other. Find a why to honor our loved one while not letting the selfish bastards continue to victimize any of us. I wish this progression in all who love my son, Ethan and all who have been touched by his story.

6 Years and Counting

Mind-full Conversation …

                                                    a continuing set of chats

It is not cruel and unusual punishment to keep him locked away in that institution nor his sister-wife. I hate it when folks forget how inhumane the Orange Blob’s treatment of you was (and of others).

I love it how the cops call here the “Swife”.

It is comical, isn’t it Lovie.

Yep.

So, momma….

Yes, Lovie.

After all those interviews  she looked up to the sky … Did they get all the information they needed … to help the families of some of his first victims?

No Lovie. It seems there is still some more interest in getting more out of him.

So they think what he has told them has some merit?

It seems so.

Are there industry standards for how much they can get with this plea bargain?
No, each plea bargain is written specific to the criminal.

Will they keep you informed of progress?

Yes, Lovie. After all, they would not have made the leaps and bounds in these cases if your murder had not provided them with the DNA. Plus, the facts are so similar they seem to mergeinto one big case. They keep me up to date, I insist on it. Heck, I email them on your birth date, your death date and now the death date of the two others.

Sept. 8th, marks 6 years since my son, Ethan JD Kline Walton was robbed of his life and other horrendous acts were played out on other family members of mine. My “Mind-full Conversation” are things I would say to my son, as if her were still here, allowing me to share information with others as well.

When giving of ourselves is too much – for others

It happened again, just the other day — it was suggested that I “stop going onto those pages and stop helping others who are grieving because it is keeping you living in the past.” Like my grief is holding me back. Like my learning to live with my grief and helping to lead others out of a very dark place — that I had gotten to after the murder of my son — is a bad thing.

I shake my head, more at myself than anyone, at questioning, for a moment, if the lady who suggested this was right.

As I questioned myself and my own path over the last, nearly, 6 years. I began looking at my interaction with others. I will admit I even compared my interactions, a bit, with her’s. Now this is a church going, God loving person who is active in her church. So, I was surprised this came from her, on one hand, but … then again she has not suffered a heaven sent child loss – first hand – as I have. She has only been on the shirttail of it all since that 8th day of September 2010.

I have found that I think she, and many others possibly (because this has been said to me by a couple of other well meaning, loving folks) forgotten that in 1 Peter 4:10-11 we are told:

 As each has received a gift, [we are to] use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s     varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—[should do so] in order that in everything [we do] God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. 

After all, I openly admit that I couldn’t have made it this far without the strength of something bigger then myself. But maybe I missed effectively conveying this to those around me whom my grief still bothers, to those around me who are at a loss because my grief still hurts them.

Maybe they think I can turn my grief on and off like a light switch.
Maybe they think it would be easier to deal with me if I was not so open about my grief, open about my learning to live on this altered path, open about taking x-y- and z steps to regain what I can of me (the me that was here before the murder of my son)?

Then I find myself looking at Galatians 5:13-14:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

For many who know me, are coming to know me through this blog, the Hearts For Bereaved page (a private group page on Facebook), and one-on-one contact like the recent blessing of answering the phone, at my day job, to a wife who is reeling from the unexpected death of her husband – I am a loving person. I am a ‘Pay It Forward’ person. It has been my nature since I was born. It is ingrained in me to give so much, let alone it goes along with my personal faith.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been things (and people) that have happened in my life that have tried to break that loving kindhearted spirit within me. There have even been times I thought “that” might have won. But, alas, today, today I can say – those forces have not won. I have. And it is because of the strength I have gained from my faith which tells me at my weakest the strength comes from God.

I am reminded in Proverbs11:25: Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The reality is I have been blessed. I have not been nice and loving and kind and caring to others to better my place in the eye of the Lord. In turn, allowing myself to continue to be kind has helped me. It has “watered” my soul, as it is promised in Proverbs 11:25.

I am not blind to Philippians 2:1-5 in which we are encouraged to not be selfish if we feel encouragement from our relationship with Jesus. So if there is any encouragement in Christ, (which I have) any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit (which I have), any affection and sympathy (which I have), complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit (which I do not), but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (which I have be faulted by others for doing). Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others….

I am reminded that …we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

When one of us suffers a deep personal loss of a child or a husband, wife, sibling or friend we should not be alone in our grief at all times. That is not how it was meant to be. We need others to lead us, by example, by encouragement and sometimes by the hand — out of the darkness and down the new, bumpy path we are now thrust upon to travel. And that is what I am doing when I help others who walk, stumble and fall on the same or nearly same path I am now navigating.

I am sorry my grief has not dissipated and has not gone away – because it seems, even nearly 6 years later, my grief is still too much for others. I am sorry my grief brings pain to others. But I am better than I was, even if they don’t see it. I am healthier because I am able to share this grief aloud with others. I am healthier because I am able to be the shoulder for others. I am stronger in my faith, as well, as I do not question the helping position I have been put in (just wish others saw it that way too).

My Bleeding Heart

 

My heart bleeds
As my son was due 25 years ago today
He waited two days
He was born on the 21st of May.
He was taken from us all 19 years and 110 days later.

I still wish we had all had more time together.

His murder has changed oh so many lives.

We are no longer the people we were the day before his murder.

The brutality
The shock
The anger
The hatred
The confusion
The loss of trust
The loss of security
The loss of family affected by all of the above ….

It stings my heart no less then twice a year.
(His Birthday date and his Death Date.)
But usually a lot, lot more!

(c) Kathleen Kline

Finally, Breathing & Regaining a Little Bit More of Me

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It’s been a long time…
A long time since I have felt relaxed enough and at peace enough to do something….
Something that makes me happy to the core…
To create something
To create something out of nothing
Or create something out of the beginning ideas of another.
Something I have done
Something my son knew made me happy.
Something I did for him.
Something I have done for others.
Something I was able to share with my Ethan, and his siblings.
      He and his sister, Kayla, challenged each other (when they were 10 and 8 respectively)           and they used to get 12 stitches per inch, hand sewing.
Today, as I begin cutting fabric for a quilt
I do so with a tear and a smile.A tear as the murderer almost soured my heart and soul so much that he almost took this         artistic form of expression away from me
A tear because I know why I stopped
A selfish tear because I miss my Ethan
A tear because I am glad my mind, heart and soul have a thick enough scab to allow me to         begin again.

It’s another step in … the healing direction.

Things you can’t say in court, but it sure would be fun to…

Your honor, what makes this bastard think he has the right to stomp all over the rights of anyone, let alone my kids! (Okay, your honor, it is reported his mother and father were married when he was born.)

Having children and living with your sister, I don’t care if she is your half-sister… it’s not right … on oooh ssssoooo many levels!


Are there associations for incestuous bastards? Bet there is where you are going! (Sorry your honor you asked me not to address the defendant. My bad.)

Who thinks that it is okay to have a brandy with your sister, pursue her like she’s “just the gal next door,” bed her down, live with her as your wife, and father your twin nieces? Who? Who?
It’s just not natural!

The services I know you deserve are not allowed in this civilized nation we live in, but I have already volunteered to help with them if I could.
Castration. Skinning, after all I am good at both, but I would work on not doing my best job, just for you. Torturing — I can learn, after all, I am inspired by your cruelty, I could learn to give you a life lesson: “and eye for an eye”.

Wonder if I could find someone willing to violate you, repeatedly, against your will while you worried about a loved one? Hummm.

There is a valley, a valley in your life that is covered in shale. That flaky slippery slope you have been traveling on is mainly covered in “oh sh**” and his name is Ethan. His name is Ethan! Did you hear me? His name is E-t-h-a-n, Ethan! You may have taken his life, cut it short, but now you have met your match.

Bet you didn’t think that 19-year-old would get the best of you… did you, you orange clad blob?

I bet you expected the son of my ex-husband to show up that day. But, you were wrong. Dead wrong. You see I have raised-up our son. Ethan may have had a lot of youthful looks that one could imagine the ex had in his own youth, but the boy, the young bourgeoning man that showed up to deal with you one-on-one as an adult … that was MY son! And he bested you.
 He became that which you denied would come – your equalizer. Because God decided you needed to be stopped.

Remember that, you horse’s backside: a 19-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl were sent by God to stop you. And stop you they have.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “an eye for an eye” – to others.
I hope you learn this first and for years to come.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “thou shall not kill” – to others.
Oh wait… were you out of class on that teaching day?
Oh wait… that is not something that is only taught on one day of a person’s life. Did you show up at all to these lessons? Did she choose not to teach her own?

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” – to others.
But isn’t that just what you did when you lied and told the cops Ethan and his gal where there to “rob” you? Guess the good Lord saw to that being proven to be “false witnessing”.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “not to covet thy neighbor’s house”— to others.
Yet you killed Ethan over a piece of land he was selling you.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “honor they father and thy mother” – to others.
Do you really think your actions as a serial kidnapper, serial murderer, serial rapist, serial incestuous creep actually honor your parents?

Maybe your momma didn’t teach you. Well, we can see she didn’t. You didn’t mom.
She certainly knew you were a bad seed; you knew, dam you, you knew.
She certainly knew that you accosted your own sisters.
She should have stopped you. You should have stopped him!


I wonder… did you, mom, really think that becoming a pastor would ensure any absolution for yourself, for your failings or absolve of your son’s bad acts?

You were wrong. You both were wrong on many levels.


Sorry judge. They were wrong your honor. They were wrong.


Your honor, don’t you think there is a proper cell awaiting her too for her apathetic ways?