Saturday, December 31, 2016


I've been mulling over the idea of summing up 2016, of coming up with a word to focus on in 2017, whether or not I should resolve to make any changes in the New Year.

2016 was an interesting year. At the start of the year, I had decided that my focus for the year would be to be more open to the ways people love me - to Be Loved. I'm not sure I focused on it well but I do know there was a lot of love in my life in 2016.

Teagan was in a musical at school. I saw The Force Awakens 4 or 5 times in theaters. We went to GeoFest at the Indiana State Museum. Teagan had strep throat. I had my first ever gel manicure. We took a dream trip to Disney World. I call it a dream trip because we stayed in a higher end resort and added on some special treats like a ferry cruise for fireworks and a dessert party for fireworks. American Ninja Warrior was taped on the Circle in downtown Indy - but we didn't go because filming happens overnight. We continued our advancements in tae kwon do - with a big achievement being that each of us can break a board with our bare hand! The kids finished 5th and 2nd grades and started 6th and 3rd.

Zach learned how to swim! Teagan marched in 2 parades with our tae kwon do school. As a family, we attended Cons and Rallies - both representing things that matter to us. Teagan and I got more involved with music at church - singing in special ensembles and both of us joining the handbell choir. We enjoyed several days at the Indiana State Fair before school started. Jeff had his knee scoped due to a meniscus tear. Liz had IT band issues and went through some physical therapy. This delayed our progress in TKD for about a month or so.

Teagan ran cross country. Jeff got involved with the junior high youth group at our church. Our whole family got involved with a ministry in our church to help house families who are striving to get out of homelessness. There was a really, really ugly presidential election with results that were shocking to many. I had a very brief health issue with my heart. Zach and some friends started a club to "build up" people in their school and community.

It was a year of loss for a lot of people in my circles. Death, job loss, serious health problems, ending relationships.

Instead of a focus word or a resolution, I want to make a list of things I want to do in the coming year. Some of them are things I already do but want to keep a priority. And some are new things I haven't ever done. And the list will change, I think.

1. Spend a night away from my kids with my husband.
2. Spend a weekend away from my husband and kids.
3. Take a family vacation.
4. Learn more about other faiths like Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam.
5. Spend quiet time in nature.
6. Spend active time in nature.
7. Achieve Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
8. Find time for prayer and reflection.
9. Pray more.
10. Find a single passion and focus my efforts.
11. Commit to more exercise - daily walking or finding a group exercise thing (Zumba, etc).
12. Take a yoga class.
13. Plan regular (at least every 6 weeks) date nights with my husband.
14. Participate in at least 3 5K events.
15. Ride my bike.
16. Free Hug in at least 3 places / events.
17. Read / Listen to at least one book per month.
18. Journal
19. Make time with friends to stay connected or strengthen connections.
20. Get consistent about family chores.
21. Continue to love others in bigger ways.
22. Walk the labyrinth at my church quarterly as part of my prayer/meditation.
23. Wear my FitBit.

What are you wanting in 2017? What will you hold on to and what are you wanting to change?

Friday, November 18, 2016

So Now What?

I have said a lot of stuff on the blog this week.

I'm Not Racist, But...

Kindness Isn't Enough

What My Feelings Are Not

Defining My Faith

It's a lot. And it was pretty raw. And very therapeutic for me.

That doesn't mean I am now all better, though. It doesn't work that way.

I am still struggling but I am also trying to figure out what I am supposed to do now. What can I do that will impact change? Or that will protect change?

Am I called to get involved in politics and impact systemic change?

Am I called to do more volunteer work to focus on those who are marginalized?

Am I called to get involved at rallies and protests?

And then I struggle.... will any of it even matter?

I am watching as Trump entertains, taps and names known racists for cabinet positions and important jobs.

I am watching as friends share stories of hate directed at them or their loved ones.

I am watching as Americans, people who are supposed to believe in liberty and freedom and dignity, talk about a Muslim registry.

The fact that ANY of these things have to be explained as blatantly wrong is simply beyond the pale.

Clearly, action is required. There is no option to hide or "wait and see." The exact things that so many of us were afraid of are exactly what is happening.

But what do we do about it?

Here are some ideas.

1. Republicans Step Up. I have heard from Republican friends that they voted for Trump or know people who did but they weren't happy about it because of his bigotry. Well, now is the time for you to step up and be louder than the rest of us. You put him in office, now tell him that he is failing you. Talk to your fellow Republicans and demand action. Fighting bigotry is exactly where the country should be coming together.

2. Brush up on your Civics Lessons. There is a lot we all forget of what we learned in history and social studies back in school. You have to know how the systems work in order to influence change in those systems. This pdf is designed to help immigrants pass a citizenship test - so it seems like an ideal place to start. And this is a website designed to make learning about civics a little more fun and engaging. Finally, I've always enjoyed TED talks and here is a collection of various TED talks that cover civics topics.

3. Contact your government representatives - local, state, and federal. This also calls back to number 1. I live in a red state and have few Democrats to rely on to fight for things I believe in. So I need to make sure the elected Republicans understand that they also represent my voice in their office. You can use this website to find out who your representatives are. Mark your calendar to call your reps - call about specific legislation, call about topics that are important to you. Write a script and say the same thing every time if you have to. But your elected officials - especially if you didn't vote for them - need to be reminded that their agenda should be for all the people they represent, not just those who voted for them.

4. Get Involved. Decide on what is most important to you. And then put time towards what matters. Put money towards the groups that are fighting the systems.

5. Call Out Racism, Sexism, Xenophobia, Homophobia. This one is specifically for white people. For men. For Americans born in the US. For straight people. We are inside the culture that needs to change. When you hear comments or jokes or support of the things that you know are wrong, you have to be willing to speak up.  This one might be the most important, and maybe the hardest.

6. Mix Up Your Social Groups  If you look around at the people you spend time with and they are all basically just like you, it's time to mix it up. You are going to have to get very purposeful about widening your circle. Getting involved in volunteer organizations, finding a church with a more diverse population, finding groups that specifically seek to create bridges between communities - that's what needs to happen. Step outside of your bubble.

7. Have A Plan Ready  If you see someone being mistreated, know how you will handle it. I've prepped my middle schooler - told her that my expectation is that she get involved. Step in and get the victim out (I'm supposed to take you to the office). Get an adult to help. You don't have to confront the bigot/bully. But we can't turn a blind eye, turn our backs, look away. Every one of us has to be willing to step into a situation. You can step into the situation to be next to the person being attacked or taunted - be their ally and help them get to a safe place. Sit next to the woman in hijab on the bus. Stay close to the transgender person in your bathroom. Walk by the non-white person.

It's hard to find the drive to fight in the midst of reeling from what is happening all around us. But the reality is that what Trump said and showed is proving to be exactly the truth. We all said we were afraid of his supporters - the people who took his words as permission to fly the bigot flag and be very open about their nationalist and supremacist desires. We all said we were afraid of what Trump would do in office - and those fears are coming true as we watch him build his administration.

The reality is here. The fight has begun. Figure out what you can do and start doing it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Defining My Faith

I was doing research on another topic - civil discourse. And I was ruminating on this blog post. This week has essentially been my personal therapeutic post-election series. My relationship with God will always be the foundation of my healing.

So I'm reading and researching and ruminating. And I come across this pdf from an Episcopal church. The 6th page has a list of Scriptures, thoughts from Thomas Merton, and a prayer of Saint Francis. I looked up all the Scriptures. I read the words of Thomas Merton. I read and then prayed the prayer of Saint Francis. I can't really say it any better than it was all laid out in this one pdf page.

Did you read all that? How are you feeling after reading all of it?

Because I felt convicted. I felt like I was being reminded of my purpose. That how I treat others is what matters more than anything else, and especially matters more than how others treat me.

We are all connected - to each other and to God.  Help the poor, listen, protect people, show love, act justly, be humble, speak up, speak out.

Then I went on to read 1 Corinthians 12. It's the Scripture about all of us being the body - and we all have different parts to play. Click on it and go read it. It'll take a couple of minutes but it's important.

We each have a gift. We each have some way that God intends to use us for good.

And then there was that cliffhanger at the end. "Let me tell you of a more excellent way - love."

So I clicked on over to 1 Corinthians 13.

Go on, click over with me.

I can do all kinds of fancy and important stuff. But if I'm not loving people, it doesn't mean a damn thing.

Then there is all that well known, usually heard at weddings and stuff. But the love in this passage isn't just about romantic love. This is love between all people. This is love in action, being a verb. Love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not easily angered, not selfish. All people are created by God. This love is how we should be treating each other. All of the each others. Our kids and our spouses, our friends, our congregations, our neighbors. Our parents and aunts and uncles and cousins. Our teachers and bosses and co-workers and fast food workers and toilet cleaners and doctors and bus drivers and cashiers and CEO's.

And even our president-elects.


And even the people who are using the example of the president-elect as the power behind their deplorable behavior.


I'm not saying we all need to suck up all these feelings we've been having. Not in the SLIGHTEST. Because I have to read all of this along with the rest of the Scripture.

I have to figure out how to radically love all people. And stand up for the poor. And listen to those who are on the margins. And stand up against injustices. And see the connections between all of us and God. And be the voices of those on the margins.

So how on earth do I follow my faith and radically love everyone?

That's maybe where those gifts come in to play.

Someone out there has gifts that will allow them to preach love into the hearts of those whose hearts are hardened. Those who are lashing out against brown skinned people and non-Christian people and differently-abled people and non-male people and same sex loving people. The people whose hearts and minds and actions are overcome with hate need some seriously radical love and only God can break through those barriers.

God is the one who can tear down that wall. And Christ is the one who paid for it.

As for me, my call to love radically has always been focused on the people in those damn margins. People who haven't been "allowed" to know God's love in churches. People who have been mistreated, harmed, damaged, hurt, enslaved, killed - because of who God created them to be. And often times by people using the name of God to cause harm.

So there it is. The reminder.

Do what you've always done.


Things are different now. So do what you've always done but do it more, do it louder, do it for more people. Focus on the radical part of loving others. Because that's what's needed now more than ever. Radical, far-reaching, extensive, profound, sweeping, wide-ranging, complete and total acts of love beyond my circles, pulling people into my circles, and inside my circles.

It won't be easy. It requires risk, discomfort. My spirit needs a little more time to build up strength.

And then the radical love revolution begins.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What My Feelings Are Not

There seems to be a lot of confusion and assumptions about what the "election losers" are feeling.

I am sure that some people are feeling the disappointment of their candidate losing. I am sure that some people are concerned about what will happen on the issues that matter most to them. I am sure that some people are worried about a man taking this job who has no qualifications, no experience. I am sure there are people who are crushed at the loss of the first potential female president. I am sure some people are angry that the popular vote doesn't bear more weight and consequence.

I can't speak for all the people who either didn't vote or who voted against Trump or who voted for Clinton.

I do think it's important to speak about my own feelings, though. We are one week out from waking up to the news (or having only gotten a few hours sleep and waking up to the reality because we'd hoped the news was wrong) that Trump is now the president-elect.

I have been around long enough to see Republicans win some elections and Democrats win some elections. This isn't about that.

I have been around long enough to know that racism is real. Sexism is real. Homophobia is real. Xenophobia is real. And all of this existed before the election. While I think things are different than they were 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago (and so on), I did not live in a bubble that thought all these things had been eradicated.

Here's what my feelings are not.

I am not "in shock."

I am not having a pity party.

I am not being a sore loser.

I don't feel hatred towards Trump or his supporters.

Here's what I can determine that my feelings actually are:

I am angry. I am confused. I am worried. I am scared. I am sad. I am heartsick.

Not because a Republican won. Not because someone completely unqualified won. Not because someone completely inexperienced and ignorant to the job won.

But because there are people who voted this man into office and did not care or completely denied the awful things he said and implied and justified.

I look around me and I wonder.... Does that white guy recognize his racism and privilege? Does that white woman recognize the sexism she lives in and perpetuates? Would that straight guy deny service or condone violence against my gay friend?

Are people that I love and respect aware of the reality of bigotry and everything that it means?

It isn't that I think every white man or white woman is automatically a bigot. But I look at white skin and I make assumptions. I have questions. I have doubts. I don't trust. Same for men.

I know there are some good and loving and kind white people / men. They want to understand. Maybe the election result is their first time really having to face bigotry and hate. But how do I know? How do I know that your remark is well intentioned but simply lacking experience or understanding? How do I know if you are one of the "good" ones?

And a safety pin or a bumper sticker or a t-shirt isn't the answer.

The most important thing about the feelings I am having is that these are the feelings so many Americans live with and have lived with daily. For years. For centuries and decades. For some, these feelings are locked up inside their "closet." For some, these feelings are always screaming at them because you can't turn off the color of your skin. For some, these feelings are realized when they put on their hijab and feel the burn of hate and misunderstanding in the eyes that only see the headscarf.

And here's the thing. I can choose to turn off the feelings and just move on. I can choose to go back to life as usual. Because I am white and straight and Christian. I can blend in. I can turn a blind eye. To be completely honest, there is a good chance that will happen anyway. That what I am seeing and hearing and feeling this past week will end up becoming a new normal and I will become slightly numb to it.

I have the privilege of going numb if I want to. White, straight, Christian gives me that privilege.

But being a Christ-follower means I don't get to rest in that privilege. I am called to stay aware. I am called to love radically. I am called to fight injustice. Even if I am tired. Even if I am scared. Even if I just want to go numb.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Kindness Isn't Enough

We are 1 week past election day. And in the week that followed that election, there have been countless stories of women and minorities experiencing blatant, in your face hate.

I didn't want to share the stories but if you haven't heard about any of them (which would be a surprise), it's worth sharing. Keep in mind I am only going to share 5 stories and all 5 are things that either happened to someone I know personally or happened to a friend of a friend. These are not stories making the viral rounds. These are firsthand accounts.

A young woman who does not have white skin was approached and told she'd better enjoy the time she has left in this country. She is a college student and this is her first time experiencing blatant hatred because of the color of her skin.

A black female attorney was leaving the courthouse and a white man wearing a Trump hat walked up to her and told her to go back to where she came from.

A non-white woman was out for a run and a white teenager ran up to her and struck her on her bottom.

A white friend went to a peaceful protest and had a positive, peaceful experience. As she was walking back to her car, a large military truck with Trump/Pence signs on it drove up to her and the driver screamed at her out his window.... "Nigger lover."

An Episcopal church in southern Indiana was vandalized with graffiti - swastikas, "Heil Trump," and "fag church." The Episcopal Church is known for their progressive Christianity.

I am seeing people looking desperately for hope. Hanging on the possible "good" that they think the president-elect is doing when he looks in a camera and tell people committing acts of hate in his name to "stop it." Believing him when he makes a statement that the gay marriage law is already in effect so he won't overturn it afterall.

But then he names a known supremacist to a cabinet position.

But he doesn't change his rhetoric to truly address the hateful actions being done thanks to him or in his name.

But he doesn't state that Roe v Wade is also "already an existing law." Instead, he states he will get that one overturned.

I see people wanting desperately for things to go back to how they were before Nov 9 - when we woke up to this new, twisted world.

I see people wanting to practice "random acts of kindness" in response to the hate happening around them. Wanting to spread good news and warm fuzzies and stories of hope and humanity.

I have previously been one of those people. It's a tactic I've practiced often. Let's focus on good things, let's do good things. Not because I want to discount anyone's pain but because, honestly, I want to alleviate my own and also spread some love in the world.

It isn't enough anymore.

A string of people paying for each other's Starbucks isn't going to fix this.

All of the holiday generosity isn't going to fix this. Not even folks who go in and pay people's layaway bills or even past due utility bills.

Videos of cats afraid of cucumbers isn't going to fix this.

I don't have the answers. I'm going to keep saying that.

And I still think kindness is important. And we should be doing nice and generous and thoughtful things for each other.

But we can't expect those gestures to comfort people who are reeling, hurting. Yes, people need to see there is good in the world.

But please do more. Please. I know that I feel incredibly powerless. Maybe that's why a "random act of kindness" doesn't feel like enough. Because what we need are people in positions of power to create the needed gridlock to stop Trump from having power. Republicans who have been voted into office need to be willing to refuse his Supreme Court nominees, to stop legislation that will cause harm. And people who vote Republican need to make their voices heard to their chosen representatives - tell them you voted for them and tell them what you expect.

Please keep being kind. Maybe try focusing your kindness efforts on people who are most at risk right now.

Just don't get upset when people tell you it won't change the world right now.

I don't think any of us know exactly what to do right now. We want life to go back to normal. We want to be able to just focus on raising our kids and loving our friends and families and working our jobs and driving our cars and going on our vacations and celebrating our holidays.

But the world isn't normal right now. Normal has to be fought for and it is still going to look different when we come out of this.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I'm Not Racist, But...

This is a phrase I've heard a lot lately.

I'm not racist. I'm not a bigot. I'm not sexist. I'm not homophobic. 

But I voted for Trump.

But I understand why others voted for Trump.

But "All Lives Matter."

But those protesters are too loud/violent/troublesome.


I've struggled greatly this past week. I am not going to pretend like I have all the answers because I most certainly don't. I couple of days after the election, this was what I shared on Facebook:

And I've been doing a lot of thinking and searching and contemplating since.

This isn't about he won and she lost. This isn't about who "my" president is or isn't.

This is about a very ugly side of our society that has now been given validity and permission to change, in a dangerous way, our societal norms. 

For the sake of this blog post, I'm going to focus on racism. But this applies to any aspect of the hate speech and actions perpetuated in the past election season. Feel free to read it while thinking about your attitudes and thoughts about black people or Muslims or the LGBTQ community or women or survivors of sexual violence or disabled people or whatever.

A couple of points to remember.

1. Racism has existed a long, long, long time. Pretty much the entire history of America, in fact. Trump being elected President is not the cause of racism. 

2. Racism will continue to be around for a long time. If Trump had lost the election, racism would still be a reality.

3. This conversation is not for the people who voted for Trump in support of his hatred. This conversation is for the people who are baffled by the response or maybe understand it a little but not the intensity of it. 

4. Not everyone who voted for Trump is a bigot or filled with hate. Not every Republican is a bigot or filled with hate. Not every Democrat is open minded and affirming and loving. 

A big question I've heard from some people is.... how can I be ok with people who voted for Trump or who support people who voted for Trump? How can I get past my anger and hurt and reconnect to people I love or care about?

Well, here's the answer that has been rolling around in my brain.

I will embrace these people because I was once embraced when I was ignorant about racism, too. 

In high school, I became friends with a group of girls and all of them were black. Now, there was no test or questions asked about what I thought of black people or my life experience involving black people. We just got along and had fun and friendships grew. And over the years, through conversations with my friends, through time in a club at school, through experiencing the lives of my friends, I had to face the realization that I was racist.

By virtue of being white, I was racist. 

But I was willing to learn and change and grow. That's what my friends helped me do. There wasn't an agenda or a checklist. None of them had this idea that they were somehow going to take this white girl and teach her how to be not-racist. But it was a natural occurrence. It was a natural consequence of spending time with people who were black.

In college, I didn't know many black people at all. But I did start to connect to other non-white people. Phillipino and Indian and Middle Eastern and Chinese and more. But it was in college that I took a hard look at racism, thanks to my social work degree program. I learned a lot about American history that wasn't really talked about in standard education. I learned about statistics. I learned about the idea of "mob mentality." I learned about societal norms and prejudice. I learned about social injustice.

After college, I started my career in social work. The agency I worked for had a focus on diversity and part of that included a brown bag lunch series designed to encourage conversations about race. This was around the time of Rodney King and the subsequent riots. I was a 23 or 24 year old white girl and as I listened to the experiences of the older black women in the room, I found that I wanted to wave my arms and sing "Good news! I'm not racist! I'm the hope of the future! You can trust me!" The conversation turned to the riots in Los Angeles. And to the idea that a group of black people had attacked a white person. And I very much wanted to know what to do - I'm white and I would want to be part of fighting injustice but is there some way to let people know that I'm not a racist or a bigot or whatever? So that I don't end up attacked? Some way to let them now that I'm one of the good white people? 

That was remarkably ignorant. And pretty damn racist of me. I basically was saying that I wanted my white privilege to allow me safety. That my whiteness should somehow be able to rescue people or be appreciated by black people.

When the response was that a white person getting beat up was.... well.... too bad, so sad.... I was angry. And hurt. I thought it was a really terrible answer. I thought they were the ones being racist! 

And it took another 15 years of reliving that conversation and that idea for it to start to really crack my brain open. 

Take a jump forward and ask me again - how can I love, care about, embrace, help the people who don't see that they are part of this hurt and anger?

I will because my black friends embraced me when I was a racist and didn't know it.

I will because my black co-workers were honest with me about my racism.

I will because my white college professor believed in teaching a bunch of privileged white kids about what racism really is - and she didn't hold back or try to protect our feelings. 

I don't have all the answers. Especially not right now. But if you are willing to really set aside what you think you know and listen, I am willing to be in that discussion with you. I am willing to learn with you. I am willing to find answers together. 

Maybe that is how we all start moving forward. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Trump Supporters

I'm sorry.

I have realized in the past weeks that many of the people I know who support Trump are people who are afraid. I hear it in interviews, I read it in Facebook posts, I see it in the articles and hear it in the sound bites.

For the past 8 years, you have been living in fear. You have not felt safe under President Obama. And you are probably confused and angry as to why other people haven't been feeling this same way.

For 8 years, you have been certain that your family is in danger. That your home is about to be attacked by terrorists. That your ability to defend yourself and your loved ones is on the verge of being taken away from you. That your jobs will either end up moved to a foreign country or be taken over by immigrants.

I can see how scared you are and I can see that spending 8 years living in that fear has directed you toward Trump. He speaks very directly to those fears. He acknowledges and validates your fear and your anger and he promises that he is big enough and brave enough and smart enough to make you feel safe.

He points to the people who are driving your fear - ISIS and Muslims and Obama and Clinton. He validates that you are under siege, under attack.

I am sorry that you have lived in fear.

I know what that feels like - but in a different way.

It takes a lot of bravado to cover up fear. You want to speak to it by pointing to your enemy and by creating enemies to pin blame on. You need an outlet for this underlying certainty that they government's leadership is working to destroy your freedoms.

Living in fear is a terrible and stressful way to live.

I am not going to try and convince you that your fears are unfounded. I am not going to try and point out the perspective on "the other side" of your viewpoints. I am not going to try to sway your political standing.

I just want you to know that I am trying to understand. And what I am hearing and seeing is stress and fear and anger. Serious concerns that your family's safety is at risk. Serious concern that your neighborhood or city will be the next terrorist target. Serious concern that your financial security - whether you have savings and securities or you are living paycheck to paycheck - is going to be stolen away.

I have lived part of my life in fear and under great anxiety. I understand what it feels like to try and keep it all together while feeling like you are cracking on the inside. I know the feeling of hope that comes when you think someone understands and can make it better.

I'm not anyone with any power or with any answers. I walk out my front door each day and I am not afraid of what the day holds. I do not have the fears that you have so I can't fully connect to where you are coming from. I'm not claiming any personal responsibility, either.


I just want you to know that I am sorry. Because living in fear is a terribly stressful and negative way to live and it hurts my heart that this is the place that people are in right now.

I truly do wish that there was a stronger sense of common ground where all Americans could stand together. I wish we had unity and connection, not division and finger pointing. I wish we had One Thing We Can Agree On so we would all have a place to stand where we don't have to feel constantly under attack, afraid, angry, opposed, in constant conflict.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

This idea came up in a conversation recently. A man's church is finding themselves in an argument because some church members don't like that the church has a community meal that feeds the hungry. They want the church to offer classes and resources to teach the hungry to be self-sufficient.

Why can't we do both?

I guess I just think the compassionate response to a hungry person is to feed them.

If I come upon a naked person, am I going to leave them naked while I teach them to sew? Or am I going to give them my shirt?

And who says they don't already know how to fish? Maybe what they are lacking is a full belly, a safe and comfortable place to sleep, mental health care, a fishing pole and net, and a safe, healthy place to catch fish.

I'm sure this isn't some new idea. But it just struck me - why is it one or the other? Why can't it be a parallel path? Feed the hungry person. And if you can be part of a longer term solution to resolve what is causing them to be hungry in the first place, do that, too.

Too. Also. In addition. Likewise.

And you know what really slays me? There is this idea that the give vs teach idea is somehow Bible or Christian based. And there are Christians who believe that it is, too.

It isn't.

When Jesus fed the 5,000, he didn't take the small amount of fish and the small bit of bread and look at the hungry people and say, "Go get a few nets and some boats, find a quiet place to cast the nets into the water, Wait patiently to fill your net with fish and pull the net in slowly."

Nope. The disciples said - let's tell them to go buy themselves food because we only have this small amount. Jesus said not to send anyone away and then he fed thousands and thousands of people.

He never taught them to fish. He didn't send them away. He just fed them. And even had leftovers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Real Life Jesus Teaching

I really love it when church ends up giving Big Answers.It isn't the reason why I go to church. I go to church for connection to the Holy Spirit in a holy place in a community of people who are also seeking something.

We are having drama in 6th grade. Only the 3rd week of school. The details are complicated. My child is in a unique position - she isn't a mean girl and she also isn't their victim. She is friends with both sides.

The parents of the victim seem to have expectation that my child will follow their family values - where it seems that a specific definition of loyalty is the highest priority. That justice must be sought and taking down other students in the process should be understandable. Strike back, strike others - in the name of protection.

I understand this line of thinking. I think loyalty is important in relationships. I also think loyalty is often taken too far and misconstrued into a reason to be over involved or mean to others.

And I'm not ok with that.

The main value we want to pass on to our children is kindness over everything. And sometimes that is really hard to define.

In church this past Sunday, we sang this hymn.

Yup, that about sums it up.

I went and looked at the Scripture that is the inspiration for the hymn. Luke 6:17-38 and Romans 12:9-21

Yup, that about explains it all.

Love others. Put others first. Share with others. Turn the other cheek. Give what you have to others. Love the people who don't love you. Share with people who steal from you. Pray for blessings for those who hurt you. Love your enemies. Do not seek revenge. Join others where they are.

I am watching my 11 year old daughter struggle with what all of this means. She wants to be kind to everyone - but what exactly does kindness mean in a hard situation? Her first instinct is to report back to her friends what she hears other people saying (loyalty to her friend). But that just gets her caught up in the middle even further and attaches her name to things that really have nothing to do with her.

We have talked a lot about this deeper side of what gossip is and how it should be handled.

We have talked about how kindness and loyalty can also mean that if someone speaks an opinion about something or someone, you don't have to run to the friend and tell them what was said. Sometimes it is better to show kindness by keeping things to yourself.

My child has had kids be mean to her. She has been in the pit of being the focus of the negative drama attention. And we have always told her to simply respond with kindness. You don't have to be friends with everyone. But you must be kind.

"Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you."

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

@INStateFair 2016

The Indiana State Fair has been open for 5 days. We have been twice. I am eager to find more days to go!

Just a few of the highlights from our first days include:

Putt Putt (free in the FFA Building)

Meeting Fair Royalty

Conferencing with goats (Goat Mountain by the DNR)

Field of bison (next to the Glass Barn)

Lumberjacks! (Family Fun Park)


Fishing (DNR Building)

Parkour (next to the Grandstand)

TAIKO Project (shows by the 4H Buildings)

Cheese Sculpture (find it in the back of the Ag/Hort Building)

And, of course, FOOD!

The Indiana State Fair runs through Aug 21. There is SO MUCH to do and see - it isn't possible to have the same experience twice! We have gone 2 days and still didn't see everything. You can see lots more of our pics here!

He Can Swim! @GoldfishSwim

At the start of this summer, we were given the opportunity to utilize classes at Goldfish Swim School in Fishers, IN. I was eager for the opportunity because Zach does not swim, is scared of water, and will refuse to participate in fun things if water is involved.

He took 8 lessons.

And he learned to swim.

I tried to convince him that we should sign up for another month of lessons. He wouldn't go for it. But he has said that maybe in the future he would want to do swim lessons again.

Here are the only frustrations we had:

- If you have a time slot you like for class, make sure you stay signed up for that time slot. We got moved after the first month and if I had signed him up for more lessons, he would have been moved again. (This relates to one of the positives, though!)
- Teachers can change unexpectedly. This was especially true at the end of summer - the college kids were going back to school, high school kids were giving up summer jobs. So there are certain times of expected transition where you won't have the same teacher week to week. Zach had his first teacher, a sub, his second teacher, and then a teaching team his last lesson.

But here are things we loved about Goldfish!

- Weekly prizes and ribbons. They are small motivators. But my kid would certainly get excited about them! Weekly prizes are found at the front desk - basic things like a tattoo or simple toy. But Zach would get excited about picking up that prize after his lesson. The other motivator is ribbons. Zach was awarded ribbons for things like swimming independently and moving to the next level.

- Speaking of next levels, I really liked how Goldfish had their levels set up. There was clear communication and set goals to know what skills needed to be mastered in order to move to the next level. In our 8 weeks, Zach went from Beginner to Glider! He would have moved up to that new level if he had chosen to continue.

- The staff at Goldfish were always positive, professional, and kind. Most importantly, the swim instructors in the pool were confident, calm, and positive. This is critical in setting up the kids to succeed!

- Staff to student ratios are never more than 4 kids to 1 instructor. The instructors still have to carefully balance to make sure each of the 4 kids are getting equal attention in the 25 minute lesson. Our favorite lessons were when there were only 2 kids that came that day. It's because of this small group size that the class can fill up very quickly. Just keep communication ongoing with the front desk staff, though!

- At the end of each class, parents come to their child's lane and the instructor has the child show what they achieved that week. It's a great chance for the child to show off and to see how they are progressing.

- The main thing we loved? Zach learned to swim! He isn't a strong swimmer yet. But he knows what to do and is actually eager to go to the pool and no longer afraid to be around water. In fact, he did something we never dreamed he would do. We were at a friends' home and there is a bit of river that runs behind their home. They have canoes and kayaks. The dad took Zach in a canoe for a ride up the river. And Zach agreed to go. Without mom or dad tagging along. He was on the water, having fun, still being safe, and wasn't terrified.

I do think we will go back to Goldfish. Zach needs a little break but I don't want to lose his momentum! I am just over the moon that my boy learned to swim!

THIS WEEK you can have the registration fee waived at Goldfish in Fishers or Carmel by using the code ETERNAL LIZDOM. Call 317-810-0790 to set up your first class or just to get more info! Registration fee waived offer is good through Aug 15!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Indiana State Fair - Planning for Day One

Last year, our best day at the Indiana State Fair was me and the kids on Opening Day - and we were there ALL day. If my memory serves, it was a 12 hour day and my kids were awesome.

I'm hoping we can kick off the Fair the same way this year!

First off, if you haven't been to the Indiana State Fair website yet, you need to check it out. It is much improved and easier to use - at least for me.

Now, I think it is important to hit the Fair a couple of times if you can. My main reasons include:
- Things are new and different daily.
- You need to see things in process and then complete like the Cheese sculpture and Canstruction displays and the Habitat for Humanity houses.
- Some things are worth doing multiple times (like visiting animals in barns, eating a corn dog, seeing live entertainment)

So here is a peek at my loose plan for all the things I hope to do with my kids on Opening Day of the Indiana State Fair!

The main plan is to walk the loop and stop in each building to see what is happening. And then there are a few scheduled things we want to be certain to catch!

It can feel almost as overwhelming as planning out a day at Disney, honestly. There is so much to see and do! I can fully enjoy myself just wandering - but for that Opening Day with my kids as we say goodbye to summer break, I want a plan that we can at least kind of stick with!

First thing, we have to head to the DNR Building to grab spots for fishing later in the day. If we hit it early enough, I hope we can get spots at 4:00 or at 5:00.

So here is the (hopeful, loose, totally flexible) plan:

8:45 - 9:00 Arrive
9:15 Sign up at the DNR Building for fishing later in the day.
9:30 Sweet treats and coffee at the State Fair Bakery.
10:00 FFA Pavilion for Putt Putt and to check out the start of the Habitat for Humanity builds, head to Pioneer Village.
12:00 Head to the Timberworks Lumberjack Show in the Family Fun Park. Grab corn dogs and lemon shake ups en route.
12:30 Lumberjack Show
1:00 Head to the Swashchucklers! Comedy Pirate Show. Refill lemon shake up.
1:30 Comedy Pirate Show
Somewhere in there is a visit to Little Hands on the Farm and the Bicentennial Train.
2:00 Swing back to the Farm Bureau Building and Glass Barn and Greenhouse. Popcorn, scavenger hunt, photo booth, live farmer chat, seed kits, etc.
4:00 Possibly fishing at DNR
4:30 TAIKO (drummers) at Celebration park - while snacking on Sati-Babi shish-kabobs (meat on a stick)
5:00 DNR Building to see the fish and visit Goat Mountain
5:30 Head to Ag/Hort Building and the Visit Indiana Bicentennial Pavilion. Stop for roasted corn on the cob along the way. Check out the start/set up for Canstruction displays, Bicentennial Lego Display, Marsh Culinary Stage, Cheese Sculpture.
6:30 Find a spot on Main Street for the daily parade!
Grab grilled cheese sandwiches from the Dairy Bar. And milkshakes. And chocolate milk. Chug 1 chocolate milk immediately and get a refill stat.
7:30 Parkour at the Grandstand Entertainment Lot
Visit animal barns
9:00 Grandstand for Light Up the Night: Illuminated Tractor Parade and Hot-Air Balloon Night Glow

And here's the thing. This doesn't even cover everything. It truly takes 2-3 days to really feel like you have done and seen it all.

My advise from last year still stands:

Here's the "secret" to really enjoying the State Fair - just go with it. Start somewhere, interact with people, ask questions, let loose, and just see where the day takes you.

It's that advise that gave us special moments last year like my kids learning how to use a spinning wheel, meeting one of many State Fair county princesses, being part of an impromptu front porch banjo concert for a couple of old ladies, watching 4H pig judging, meeting characters from Hotel Transylvania, dancing in a cool mist fan, and much more. Those are the moments you can't plan for or schedule - you just have to be open to them!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Indiana State Fair - What's New?

As many of you know, I am hardcore serious about the fun of the Indiana State Fair. I did not grow up around State or even Country Fairs. I remember a county fair in Michigan once as a child. But the joy of the Fair was kept from me until I met my husband.

For many years, my husband would take vacation time from his day job to work the week of the Indiana State Fair for the Indiana Pork Producers. I thought it was crazy. Until I started going down to the Fair in the evenings to visit him.And I fell in love with the sights and sounds and tastes!

This year's Indiana State Fair starts Aug 5 and runs through Aug 21.

One thing I am very excited to check out is the new and improved Indiana State Fair app. From their website:

Indiana State Fair Mobile App presented by WGU Indiana
The NEW and IMPROVED Indiana State Fair app will change your State Fair experience! This year fair-goers will be able to plan their entire visit through the app and make a shareable itinerary from the extensive list of events and activities. Share the “What’s Hot” list with friends on social media, rate favorite vendors, and be a part of selecting the Grand Champion in our Taste of the Fair competition. The new Indiana State Fair App will be an interactive and fun way to enjoy this year’s Fair. Download the App now for Apple and Android phones!
Now, what is really cool is that there are other new things happening at the Fair that are part of this new app! In previous years, the app was almost more of just a map and schedule. This year, it seems like it really will enhance a visit to the Fair! Check out 2 of our favorite things - FOOD and The Wonder Trail - both now enhanced by the new app!

Taste of the Indiana State Fair
A “shake-up” of a different kind is happening with the 2016 Signature Food Contest..introducing the NEW Taste of the Fair Contest. We are inviting our vendors to help Celebrate Indiana’s Bicentennial through food innovation with the challenge to create a new, fresh original fair food rich in Indiana history. Fairgoers will have to opportunity to feast on the competition and then cast their vote for the winner on the NEW Indiana State Fair App presented by WGU Indiana from August 5-14. The Taste of the Fair “champion” will be announced on August 14th and will have the opportunity to highlight their creation throughout remainder of the Indiana State Fair.
Wonder Trail presented by Indiana Farm Bureau
The Wonder Trail has been a long time family favorite and this year the entire family can enjoy it digitally on the NEW Indiana State Fair App presented by WGU Indiana. The Wonder Trail has 12 educational stops that take you around the entire Indiana State Fair leaving each participant feeling closer to the celebration.
For those who like to prepare in advance for something as serious as voting for a favorite Taste of the Indiana State Fair food, I suggest checking out the webpage listing the entries - if you hover over the box that names the dish, it gives a description. Top of my list - Bison Cheese Steak Eggroll. Must also try the Smokin' Hot on Rye Bread (new grilled cheese at the Dairy Bar - Sriracha jack cheese for the win). Most insane sounding food is the Double barrel burger - 3 donuts, 2 bacon cheeseburger patties, and mac and cheese. Not up my alley but I hope to watch someone try it!

Now, admission at the gate is $12 this year. But. You can pre-buy tickets for only $8 (plus a processing fee). And there are tons of discounts available if you plan ahead!!

Opening Day, Fri, Aug 5 - Sprint College ID Day - Free gate admission when you show an active, currently enrolled student ID.

Monday, Aug 8 - Be sure to pick up a copy of the Indianapolis Star. This is the day they print the FREE admission coupon. Admission is good for Weds, Aug 10.

Also on Monday, Aug 8 - Chevrolet Military Day - Free admission for current or former members of the Armed Forces plus family members. Must present Military ID at gate.

Aug 9 and 16 - $2 Tuesday!! $2 admission and you will find $2 food and drink options all around the Fairgrounds!

Monday, Aug 15 is Meijer Family Day. $20 per vehicle or group up to 10 people with this voucher.

Thursday, Aug 18 is AAA Day. Free gate admission when you show your valid AAA membership.

Friday Aug 19 5/3 Bank Stand Up To Cancer $5 Friday. Gate admission is only $5 and there are special concessions discounts around the fairgrounds.

Now, most of the new fun things are things I will discover once I am there. I am already planning days off of work and weekends and carefully planning out what time to be there.

There is something for everyone at the Indiana State Fair!!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Heart Is So Heavy

There are seasons in life that are difficult. That seem impossible. There are seasons of joy and peace but those seem to be few and far between lately.

I am heavy with grief.

Not my own. The grief of others.

A friend's husband died. Unexpectedly. He was only 59 years old. They were best friends. 2 teenage daughters. Lives are forever changed, reformed, redefined.

A friend stays in a dead marriage. The love is no longer recognizable - it died a long time ago. Became something twisted and dark.

A friend is in a dying marriage. There may still be a chance to save it but the marriage is on life support and decisions are being made about whether or not to pull the plug.

I have met women at church whose husbands have died in the last couple of years. I only know them as widowed women, I never knew them as married women. I am part of their new definition and am one of many reminders of what they have lost.

The anniversary of a mother's passing in our online mom community has just gone by - a reminder that years have passed where her children and her husband haven't had her there to comfort them, care for them, nurture them, celebrate with them.

And then there is the news. The rage inducing horror happening in places like Baton Rouge and St. Paul. The horrors of war across the globe. The pictures and videos that make grief and loss and violence more real than many have ever known or will ever know.

The press conference with a grieving widow and her teenage son, weeping.  Alton Sterling.

The cell phone video of a women with her boyfriend's just murdered body leaning against her and her child in the backseat, attempting to comfort her. Philando Castile.

I am sad. I am angry.

I am sad for my friend whose husband died. Her loss weighs heavy on my heart. I cry when I think of what the days and nights must be like for her and for her daughters right now. I am also angry. Angry that these girls don't have their daddy to be there for milestones as they enter adulthood. Angry that my friend no longer has her best friend by her side.

I am sad for my friend in a dead marriage. She deserves love and compassion in her marriage. She gives so much love to others and her marriage should be a place where her love is shared and returned and grown. I am angry because her husband does not see the damage he causes. Angry that beautiful people are being hurt.

I am sad for my friend in a dying marriage. To see her struggling to keep that connection, to see her trying to work through the problems. Hearing that they are out of sync. I am angry that he doesn't want to fight for it at the same time she does.

I am sad for the men and women I know who have lost their spouses. Some before I connected with them, some after.

These are the close and personal mournings that I carry. The heartbreak and struggle of those around me - close to me or at arm's length. Dear friends or new acquaintances.

And then there are the injustices. The losses that I am not personally connected to but that are connected to greater problems in the world. Death that is connected to police brutality. Racism. War. Terror.

I don't know about anyone else. But I feel like I am being held together by a string. If I let myself cry, I won't stop. If I let myself rage, I may scare myself.

I sit in my white, suburban, upper middle class, educated, well employed bubble of privilege and I don't know what to say or what to do. I hear the pain. I hear the anger. And I understand it as best as I can.

I used to think it was "enough" if I made a positive impact on just one life. If one person's life was better because of something they learned from me or gained from me, then I knew life's purpose.

But it isn't enough.

I used to strongly believe in "being the change I want to see in the world." That if I keep loving and giving and demonstrating compassion, somehow others in the world will be inspired and that whole pay it forward thing would happen.

I don't believe that anymore.

We are in a season where we are more connected by our grief, our sadness, our anger, our frustration, and our loss. And we don't know how to hold each other up through it.

I will keeping moving forward, though. I will continue to long for love and peace throughout the world. And I will continue to share love and peace as far as my arms can reach. I will embrace my grieving friend. I will support my hurting friend. I will listen to my struggling friend. I will sit with my lonely friend.

Because I just don't know what else to do.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Privilege of Being A Blogger

Living in the suburbs of an American city in an American state in this country of America, it's easy to forget what privilege and rights and freedom can actually mean.

I heard a story on my drive in to work recently that really brought some perspective to my life and my choices and my privilege.

The story comes from Bangladesh - where reporters and publishers and bloggers who defend LGBT rights are being savagely murdered.

I've written about my feelings on LGBT rights. I've written a lot about my liberal heart, my desire for social justice, my beliefs in equality and love and kindness.

And I do not fear that some terrorist group is going to break into my home and hack me to death because of the things I write.

I'm not saying that anyone who writes something in the United States is free from criticism or trolls or even death threats - that does happen. But the reality of someone being hacked to death because of their work... isn't really a fear most in the U.S. face. It's one thing to choose a career where you put your life on the line - like being a police officer or in the military. But someone who writes opinions, thoughts, articles? No one expects a writer to be choosing to put their life on the line for their readers.

We live in a country of privilege. I blog whenever I feel like I have something to say. I don't think about or worry about what I'm going to write or how it will be taken or who is going to come after me. I just write.

I write about my faith. My politics. My kids. I write about dog treats and swim lessons. I write about stress and about joy.

And no one is going to break down my door and slaughter me for it.

All too often, the world feels really heavy lately. There is so much bad stuff going on that it is a greater and greater challenge from my perch of privilege to stay focused on grace, mercy, peace, and love. It can feel like life is under attack from people who seek to cause harm, from people who are even just accepting of harm as a option, from sicknesses and illnesses and disease, from desperation and hopelessness and fear.

It is hard to stay focused on a faith that understands the depths of these despairs but still offers a message of hope.

Something I wrote in my journal recently after feeling overwhelmed with news stories of All Things Terrible in the world and after reading Psalm 75....

desperation at sea
hopelessness in disease
abuse of bodies
control of minds
hate of differences
lacking grace, mercy, and peace

life in this world
     is so desperately broken

ancient text tells me to
     Trust God

texts written during
war, famine, disease, drought, brother killing brother
refugees, cancer, rape, bullying, intolerance, divorce

times do not change

Jesus brought a message to the world

but is the world capable
does the world want love
can humans choose love over
selfishness protection rightness judging winning riches power sex anger envy wanting

Lord, do you hear our cries
are the voices of those who desire your repeated and consistent messages of love love love love love
too small
too weak

too singular

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Making Strides at Goldfish Swim School

I recently shared some really important summer safety information about water safety and shared that my son, Zach (age 8), would be starting swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School.

I am seriously impressed with Goldfish.

I'm going to tell you up front that Goldfish is providing us with some free lessons in exchange for me sharing our experiences. But what I share is completely my own opinion, our own experiences.

First, the facility is clean and comfortable and fun. We liked the theme and set up and layout. Everything is very open so it never feels like you and your child are going to be separated. No locker rooms to walk through. No gates. The sitting area is on the other side of glass to the pool so the kids can see the sitting area and the sitting area can fully see the pool area.

There are many changing rooms, a suit spin dryer, bathrooms, a table of hair dryers. Our locations also has a fish tank and a tank with a couple of turtles - which make for a great distraction for a nervous kid.

At his first lesson, Zach was given a wristband to wear. This helps the instructor to recognize that this is a brand new student who made need extra help, attention, explanation. The staff is positive, calm, happy. There is a lifeguard on duty. There were 3 or 4 areas set up in the pool with instructors. There is a supervisor watching over the lessons.

The class size makes a huge difference. I think part of why Zach did not succeed when we tried lessons was that it was s system with a large number of kids and multiple instructors working with the large group. This worked fine for Teagan when she did these lessons. But it did not work for Zach. At all.

At Goldfish, his group will never be more than 4 kids to his 1 instructor. They use up about half of one end of a lane in the pool. The water is warm. The pool is shallow. There are movable "islands" so the kids never feel like they are out in the middle of nothing but water.

After lesson 1, Zach earned a ribbon and the supervisor told me that she could tell Zach was comfortable in the water (I laughed and told her she should have seen the tears at home and heard the tales of all the ways he was certain to die as we drove there).

We have now done 3 lessons. And he is making amazing progress week to week. He doesn't love swimming. But he doesn't cry about going. He put his face in the water this past week (and got a ribbon for it). He can swim unassisted for about 5 feet.

My son will be safer around water because he will feel confident. My son will have fun with his family and friends because we can go to pool parties or water parks. Learning to swim comes easily for some and is more of a process for others. I am very glad that we were introduced to Goldfish Swim School so that Zach can learn by process.

Whether your child knows how to swim or is just learning, Goldfish Swim School has the perfect curriculum for every skill level for children ages four months to 12 years. If you would like to enroll your child(ren) in our quality swim school, we will WAIVE the registration fee – a $25 value – for all Eternal Lizdom readers. Just give the code “ETERNALLIZDOM” when you call to schedule.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Saying the Same Old Things In Response to a New Tragedy

Like many, my heart is broken. Like many, I am angry and frustrated. Like many, I want to scream and weep and take action. Like many, I am helpless.

The tragedy in Orlando... I can't really find the word that I am ok using for what happened in Orlando. Yes, it is horrific. It is a tragedy. It was a shooting. It was murder. All those things make my stomach churn. It was hate. Evil, dark, horrible, unfathomable hate. It was slaughter.

I think back 20 years and I could have been in that club. When my best friend came out, we would go together to a local gay nightclub. I spent many, many nights dancing, drinking, laughing, watching drag shows, and meeting all kinds of people. It was my big introduction to the gay community. And it is a community. And these clubs and restaurants do feel like a safe place. Or they did. I know that the club we frequented was a place where some men and women were first dipping their toe into the community, first being open about their sexuality. And it was a place where they were accepted as they were.

I even got to experience a small piece of that sense of it being a safe place. I was raised with different values than I embrace now. So being in the gay community, embracing my best friend as he came out and figured out who he was, was something I never imagined being part of my life. I wasn't taught to be an Ally - but I certainly became one.

I have written my opinions on equality many times.

But as the events of Sunday morning unfolded and as I was reminded how many people I love were reminded of the fear that is always constantly pressent in their lives... I was also reminded of what I see as an ugly side of people.

The people who used this as an opportunity to blast Muslims, Islam, immigrants, homosexuality, and the debate over gun control. Answering hate with hate is not a good combination.

Sometimes, I really prefer just staying in my little bubble where I can pretend that the majority of people in the world really do believe in Love and Peace and Compassion and that it is really the outliers who just haven't caught on to it yet.

But this tragedy, because it involves more buzz words than previous shootings, and our current political climate in the US, shows me that we still have a long way to go.

Because it sure seems like our love of guns is a higher priority than our love of the LGBTQ community, our love of the people in the movie seats around us, our love of our co-workers, our love of college students, our love of Amish school children and our love of elementary school children and their teachers.

If your response to the news of violence is "don't take away my guns," you might need to re-examine your self-claimed pro-life stance.

If your response to the news of violence is "God is punishing them for sin," you need to re-examine your understanding of the Bible.

If your only response to the news of violence is to pray, you need to find a way to take action. Especially actions of love.

In the wake of this current tragedy, if you are someone who has been afraid to use your voice to speak up for those who are marginalized, who has been worried what others would think of you if you speak up for equality, who has been scared of the fallout if you speak your heart... I have been there. I have worried and fretted about who I might insult, who might think less of me, who might stop loving me or liking me. But it is important to speak up, speak out. Be an ally. Stand against current gun laws. Fight for change.

We each have a different way that we feel called to respond. We each have a different way to speak out, to take action.

In some ways, it might feel easy to just turn away from this. To just not look at the pictures or read the names. They're gay - I'm not. They're Latino - I'm not. They're young - I'm not. But here is your chance to take step one to really learn to embrace people. Look at each picture. Listen to the stories of the people who survived. The people who helped. The people who are mourning. And then pay attention to the people around you everyday. The barista at Starbucks. The person who greets you at a ride at Disney World. The background dancer at a local community theatre show. Your UPS delivery guy. The driver in the car next to you. Because those are the people who were killed.

I'm tired. I'm angry. And I'm longing for my bubble to be the real world. For people to know what joy and peace and love really feel like.

Peace and Love,