Tag Archives: Families

The strange gift of grandchildren

IMG_2454Let’s just say this off the top: I have seven wonderful grandchildren because of a horrible decision made by this man.

Michael Knybel chose to get behind the wheel and drive drunk, and then a very bad thing happened. Drunk driving accidents are not accidents. They are, instead, a series of bad decisions that can be the vehicular equivalent of playing a lethal game of chance with others’ lives.

You may drive drunk and arrive in your own driveway with nary a scratch.

Or you can do what Knybel did. You can cross the center line, and slam into a vehicle driven by someone like Darren Fegan, the father of my five oldest (step) grandchildren. (The photo up top was taken a couple of years ago, on Easter, in the family’s front yard.)

That fatal crash was not Knybel’s first rodeo — nor, as it turns out, was it his last. The Courant ran a comprehensive story about the man on Sunday, and I spread it around on social media, but what I didn’t say was this:

  • I went to Knybel’s sentencing back in ’09 because I thought I could help wrangle the triplets, then the youngest of the grandchildren, during a difficult time. They would have been — what? — 8? 9? Their mother wanted them to come to court for some kind of closure on the events that took their dad. They were dressed for church and their hair was done just so, and I stood with them in the lobby after Knybel was sent to prison. One of his family members walked by my daughter-in-law, who was standing nearby, and said something like, “Happy now?” — as if my daughter-in-law had campaigned to send a poor man (who at the time of the crash was high on cocaine and beer) to jail. My daughter went to rush her (an act I must say I admire), her (former) father-in-law stood in between, and I hustled the girls into a side office. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the lobby, but I didn’t think the girls needed to see it. The girls saw just enough to hiccup and cry while I and a nice court official tried to distract them with talk about their pretty dresses. I remember telling them that sometimes grown-ups said and did things they regretted later, and maybe that family member would realize she shouldn’t have said that to their mommy. To that point:
  • I cannot emphasize how wonderful are Darren Fegan’s children, and I give massive credit to their incredibly supportive family for how they are turning out. The family has, as they say, a deep bench. There are aunties and grandparents and uncles and cousins, all of whom have stepped in at various points to do what was needed. And at the center of it is a woman of incredible strength, my daughter-in-law. When I post something about the family on Facebook, people often compliment me on my influence, which is, in a word, horseshit. I’m a bystander. This family was fully functioning — loud, funny, and indifferent to what you think of them — before I dipped my toe in it.
  • Originally, the  union of my son and daughter-in-law was not to produce children. They had, after all, five children already and the children were grieving and the children needed attention. This was a decision with which I wholeheartedly agreed. I wasn’t in on the conversations that went into the existence of my two biological grandchildren. That was a decision I wholeheartedly disagreed with, but what I do know?
  • Very little, as it turns out. As I type this, they have figured out how to download YouTube Kids on my iPad because they’re awesome.
  • Addiction is an awful thing. I don’t know a single family — including my own — that is untouched by it. I know that coming down hard on serial offenders may push them far down the economic ladder. If you lose your right to drive, how do you get to work? If you can’t get to work, how do you support yourself? But if someone cannot hear sane voices over their own addiction, then that person is a loaded gun, just waiting to go off.
  • This family is going to be fine. They’ve learned far more than they should know about loss and grief and recovery, but they’re wonderful people. The lessons have helped make the older children independent and competent near-adults. They speak freely about their loss, and as weird as it sounds, I think I would have liked Darren Fegan. I know I like his children. When the younger two (my son’s biological children, and my biological grandchildren), talk about the older children’s daddy in heaven, the older children just smile. This family is going to be fine, but
  • Connecticut has to lessen the possibility that someone will drive drunk and take out any more fathers, children, grandparents. Period.

The National Association of Evangelicals calls for a scriptural approach to refugees

Syrian-RefugeeBut, as said Leftover, who shared this link in the first place, no one seems to be listening.

You can read more here. As says Leith Anderson, NAE president:

Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let’s not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS. We are horrified and heartbroken by the terrorist atrocities in Paris, but must not forget that there are thousands more victims of these same terrorists who are fleeing Syria with their families and desperately need someplace to go.

Amen, Bro. Leith. The Bible supports you.

Christians act like Christians, and neighbors get mad.

Jesus-WeepingSo a North Carolina church has been housing the homeless, and the neighbors aren’t happy — though the church has been performing this act of grace for a year and a half.

You can learn more here. Or, if you fancy original sources, you can go here.

And thanks, Cynical, for the link. And yes, neighbors of Showers of Blessings of Concord, N.C. You get a Faceplant Jesus for your nastiness.

For some families, the housing crisis isn’t over

Far from it,Image result for affordable housing CT according to this Governing article (and thanks, Kimberley, for sending it along). From the article:

Governingcompiled data gauging the extent to which middle-income family-sized housing is available in the nation’s 25 largest cities. For each city, we calculated the amount that families earning the local median family income could afford to spend on housing and utilities without exceeding the standard 30 percent of their earnings. Data provided by the real estate website Trulia depicts a wide affordability gap between the hottest urban centers and the rest of the country. In the top 10 most expensive cities, an average of just 17 percent of all home listings have three or more bedrooms and are affordable. That compares to a much higher 63 percent of listings in other cities. The outlook isn’t any better for families who rent. On average, more than half (52 percent) of renters in all cities reviewed already spend more than 30 percent of household income on gross rent costs, according to the latest Census estimates, and only a small fraction of rentals are big enough to accommodate larger families.

So this is for homeowners and renters.

Small boosts in family income helps kids a lot

3f05d661d6e3919a06625920891f6f9fThis paper (and thanks, Kimberley, for sending it) from the National Bureau of Economic Research says a little boost in family income has an amazing effect on children in that family. That’s especially true for children facing behavioral or mental health challenges.

You can read more here.

Well, HERE is disquieting news:

puppet-masterFrom the New York Times:

Fewer than four hundred families are responsible for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign, a concentration of political donors that is unprecedented in the modern era.

And you can read more here.

Need v. greed

While the Super Committee discusses how to lower the federal budget by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, a new report “Food Choices: Families or Corporations” from the Praxis Project and the Alliance for a Just Society, shows just what role the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s family nutrition programs (like SNAP, the former food stamp program) play in feeding 16 percent of America — or 48.8 million people.

That makes the Farm Bill — the main policy tool for the government when it comes to food — even more precious.

The report also covers the $95 billion in federal subsidies and contracts the federal government gives to Big Agriculture. Some highlights are:

Riceland Foods, Inc., a transnational corporation with revenues of $1.3 billion in 2009,
received $554 million in subsidies in 1995-2010.

In 2005, Tyson Foods, the largest meat producer in the U.S. with revenues of $26 billion,
received $46 million in USDA commodity contracts.

Smithfield Foods, the fourth-largest meat producer, with $11 billion in revenues, received
$18.2 million in contracts.

The report, along with a petition you can sign here, will be delivered to the Super Committee prior to its Nov. 23 deadline for making recommendations.