Celebrate Belonging


I was twelve years old, stomach full of pie and knees to my chest, wedged between my sister and brother in the order we came out of the womb. The lights on the tree were twinkling- the multi colored kind that my mama always protested were tacky but my daddy still strung every year. When it comes to children and Christmas decorations, the one gets giddier as the other gets tackier.

I cocked my head as my daddy explained why depression finds him at Christmastime like an unwelcome old foe. I pulled the cord of his words and wrapped it around my brain, winding again and again as I tried to understand. Some of the words found their place at once: words I had heard before, ones I could snap in like a puzzle piece. I knew my grandfather had been an alcoholic for much of daddy’s life. I knew his childhood wasn’t like mine; wasn’t anything close. But I also knew that grandfather who doted on me, his “Cricket”. He, bent and shaky from the Parkinson’s, who ate boiled peanuts while he watched football and let me have chocolate syrup over vanilla bean ice cream at ten o’clock at night. He never drank anything harder than sweet tea anymore. Wasn’t everything all right now?

What I couldn’t understand then is the way pain lodges into your pores and drips out with your sweat at the least desirable times. Decades later, hips widened and skin a bit worse for the wear, I uncoil the words and marvel at the man my daddy was. He set his heart on giving us magic and wonder, over and over again. Every Christmas of our lives was the Christmas he never had. His desire for redemption poured out red and green, but no day on the calendar could make up for what he’d lost. It was never enough, it was never perfect, and every Christmas his heart bled all over again. Who could celebrate?


About That Holy Baby


We were all gathered in the boys' bedroom, our four bodies strung over every soft surface not frosted with books. I was reading from Max Lucado's The Crippled Lamb, tired voice stringing together the story of a handicapped orphan lamb who would witness the birth of the King of Kings in a humble stable.

"This baby is God's son", I read aloud, "He came to teach us about God".

All true, of course.  But the words fell flat on my ears.  Has it become that rote, that audaciously normal, that God would send us His Son in the form of a baby?  Why did my heart not leap, or at least flicker at the wonders my tongue and lips had just formed?

Hanging floppy-limbed over the top bunk, my 5 year old erupted, loud and uncontainable.

"But the baby IS God!!!  The baby IS God!!!"

And just like that, up went my heart.

And just like that, up went all our hearts.  The weary world rejoices.


In the beginning was the Word.  
The Word was with God and the Word was God.  
And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.

The wonder isn't that a god sent down his son to dwell among men: Greek mythology gives us that.  It's not that he came to teach us about God: many great men and women have done that.  The breathtaking, heart stopping, gut wrenching wonder of the Incarnation is that God Himself became our own flesh and blood.

But couldn't he have come as a grown Man? A king, or at least a rabbi?  Could the living God not have condescended to take on human form and still retained some semblance of dignity? Of authority?  Couldn't He have come without giving everything up to do it?

But no.  He came as the weakest, the most vulnerable of us: He came as a fetus.  He came in total and complete need of His mother's nourishment and His earthly father's protection.  He came with absolutely nothing.  Even my five year old can see that this plan is more than radical: this is offensive.  And yet this is true.

So what does it mean for mankind?  How then shall we live?  What are the implications of this Great Audacity upon humanity?

It means we can never, ever, ever look upon the face of another human being as anything less than the face of Christ.  Whatever choices they've made, whatever circumstance they're in, however far they are from our own pious ideas of righteousness: their humanity has been paid for dearly.  And we can never separate who they are from who He is, was, and always will be.

One of us.

*throwback photo of Moses at a few months old
**link is an Amazon affiliate

Thoughts on Santa Claus (from a gal who's thought it all)


As a child, Santa Claus was a huge aspect of my Christmas experience.  My parents were firm believers in the importance of fantasy, and though they did a pretty amazing job of implementing it year-round, no season served as a better springboard than the Christmas season.  My dad in particular reveled in it: leaving boot prints in the fireplace ashes, having male friends call us on the phone pretending to be the jolly old elf, responding to our Christmas Eve notes by circling letters within our own words and having us piece them together like a puzzle.  Hard core Santa stuff here, people.

At 10 years old I'm sure I was the last child in Texas still believing in Santa.  Obviously I had had serious questions for awhile but at that point, I couldn't deny the harsh reality and when the facts lined themselves up I specifically remember lying in the bathtub crying dramatically with the door locked.  My parents took turns on the other side of the bathroom door, gently trying to coax me out, reminding me that St. Nicholas was a real person and that the Spirit of Christmas lives on.

I didn't care.  I was devastated and felt the huge weight of grief as the last of childhood magic passed me by.  My older sister and younger brother accepted the truth at more typical ages and with much less drama.  I've never understood why it was so painful for me, until this year.  But more on that later.

I got older, but didn't have reason to give much thought to what I would do about Santa as a parent until Eric and I married.  Funny enough, he had received the news at close to the same age and level of angst as I had.  Together, we came to the conclusion that we didn't want to ever lie to our future children.  So, clearly, no Santa Claus for us.  Additionally we were part of a close knit, lovely but very conservative church community that strongly emphasized that Christmas is only about Jesus.  The general consensus seemed to be that playing Santa Claus negates that.  I felt like my own childhood Christmases had always had a very strong spiritual foundation, but I could see their argument and was admittedly swayed by the attractiveness of a strong stance.

Yet over the years I've been plagued with the thought that it is an awfully big stretch to say that all this is for Jesus! The cookie baking, the gift giving, the tree lighting... is it really so bad to admit that we do it because it feels magical and beautiful and brings us joy?  These holiday traditions certainly contribute to us making much of the season, of taking time to recognize the magnitude of the Incarnation.  But is it really necessary to say we do it all for His birthday?  I don't think so.

Does it deny Jesus glory for us to give our loved ones gifts simply because we love them, or hang rainbow lights on the roof just because it makes our children gasp, or play Jingle Bells just because it brings us joy although it makes no mention of the Christ child's birth?  Call me crazy, but I think Jesus enjoys our joy for joy's own sake.  Maybe it's not all so black and white after all.

When we finally did become parents we were also embarking on a spiritual journey of finding our place within Christianity, leaving the nondenominational church and forging on to an Anglican setting.  The first few years of parenthood all but makes the Santa decision for you: no 1 or 2 year old really cares who's bringing the gifts, they just want to tear up the wrapping paper and sit in the boxes. It was easy to maintain our no-Santa stance because it really didn't matter anyway.  For Alyosha, age 3 was the same.  It wasn't until last year that we really were faced with decisions of what words to say and what tales to tell, and by then we weren't so sure we were convinced of anything anymore.

By then we had converted to Catholicism, which for us had opened the door of faith wider and towards more mystery than we had made room for in the past, and that bled over into our parenting as well.  So we talked more about St. Nicholas - the historical figure who lives in heaven with Jesus now - and we said that him delivering presents was a pretend game.  (But one we played heartily.)  It seemed like a reasonable compromise at the time but looking back it must have been awfully confusing, which is probably why Alyosha went into this year's Christmas season remembering very little about Santa at all.

But something has happened this year, his 5 year old year, that has upped the ante on the issue.  This year I have realized that this child doesn't believe in magic at all.  He is a highly logical kid; one who will spend hours on a makeshift pulley or writing his letters, but cannot sit down and play with most toys in the way they were designed for.  I used to try to help him play make-believe games with dolls or dressing up in costume, but it was so uninspired and mom-driven that I eventually gave up.  He does baby his stuffed animals sometimes, but is always quick to explain to me that it's just pretend.  He is simply wired in a very literal way, and that is absolutely fine.

However, he is also a vey sensitive child.  He usually does not enjoy reading about, watching, or playing anything that even smells violent or potentially spooky.  Epic battles, traditional types of heroes, bad guys and good guys... he avoids them like the plague.  Which again is fine by me, but the question remains: how can we as parents still give him a sense of wonder about the world?  A few months ago we were reading Mary Poppins and he flat out said, "yeah but there's really no such thing as magic in the real world".  My mama's heart broke.  He's 5 years old.

Last year, a blogger I really enjoy posted this explanation of why she and her husband feel that doing Santa is not the best choice for their oldest son, who was 5 at the time.  Her reasons seemed absolutely valid to me (many of which echoed some of my own thoughts over the years) and I support their family's decision completely.  But I think the real merit of the post is the perspective of assessing the needs and temperaments of your own children.  I've been thinking about the specific needs that Alyosha has in this area.  And the more we talk about it, the more Eric and I believe that for our particular child a practiced belief in Santa Claus could be the most beneficial thing.

What sealed the deal for me was reading famed child psychologist Bruno Bettleheim's thoughts on Santa this past Thanksgiving.  Years ago I had read and enjoyed his work The Uses of Enchantment, but at my parents' house in November I stumbled upon my dad's copy of A Good Enough Parent.  Noticing a chapter specifically devoted to Santa Claus, I cozied up and dug in curiously.  (I've only read that chapter, so I can't vouch for the merits of the entire book, though I suspect it's a worthy read.)

The best way to summarize what I took from Bettleheim's words is simply this: children need some sense of magic in order to cope with reality.  When they reach a point of development where they no longer need it, then they gradually stop using it.  Children like me who were devastated to find Santa not real were simply forced (by other children's words, parents confirmation, and other natural happenings) to relinquish magic too soon.  Even at 10 years old, I really still needed it to cope with the world.

For me personally, that explanation makes the most sense of any.  I have never felt that my parents lied to me.  Although that argument could be made, it honestly doesn't feel like a true description of what happened and I certainly never questioned our religious teachings because of it, as is the fear of many parents.  It was more like I was being tossed out of childhood, out of fantasy, before I was ready.  I was losing a coping mechanism.

Now I fully believe that some children find this sense of magic and possibility in Star Wars, or The Hobbit, or dressing up like a Princess.  Those are precious and very real expressions of our human desire for Mystery, for the Unexplainable.  For children who can cling to those fantasies on their own initiative, that may be all of the magic they need.  My son just can't.

I do recognize that there is a difference in that those children aren't usually believing that those things literally exist, but isn't that an awfully fine line in childhood?  Isn't the beauty of childhood in the very fact that possibility and reality are not entirely separate realms?  I want Otherness to nestle in to my children's hearts when they're little, so that they want to continue seeking it out when they're big.  And if they need a little help with that, well I think that's what Santa is here for.
The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and invisible in the world... 
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding... 
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
                             Francis P. Church

If You're A Sucker for A Birth Story


... you're in luck today.

Because today, friends, Moses Emmanuel Evans turns 2 and I can think of no better way to celebrate than to hack out words on the interwebs that will mortify the daylights out of him in 10 years.

Happy Birthday, little zucchini!!!
(fact: Alyosha called him "my little zucchini" for the first full year of his life. We never figured out why.)

And now, to deliver the goods.  *clears throat*

On December 16, 2013 - exactly a week away from my due date - Eric, Alyosha, and I spend the day at a Curious George exhibit at a nearby museum.  It was Alyosha's adoption anniversary (his "gotcha day") and the only day that I had fervently prayed to not be delivering his brother on. Neither one of them needed to deal with THAT dynamic their entire lives.

We go to bed that night, happy and relieved by the lack of uteral activity, but in separate beds because at that point ain't nobody wanna be sleeping with Big Mama, her smashed bladder, and the capillary waves produced by Her Highness rolling over every 12 seconds.

At 4 a.m. I wake up.  Was that --?  No.  Surely I just peed on myself a little.  (Let's be honest, it happens.)  Didn't they say in the birthing class that most women's water actually doesn't break before labor begins?  That Hollywood has played us for a fool for the sake of cinematic drama?  Well, better go to the bathroom anyway.  It has been 45 minutes.

Stand up.


Thoughts running through my head as I make my way to the bathroom: Can this really be happening?  But it's a week early; first time moms almost never go early.  Should I wake up Eric or let him sleep?  Should I call my mom?  Should I call the midwife?  Maybe it's just pee.  It's definitely not pee.  Maybe I should smell it?  Nope, not pee.  I think this is really happening.  But it's a week early!  That's impossible.  I haven't even gotten to the "I hate everybody and everything" stage yet.  Should I wake up Eric?  I should sleep, I should try to sleep before contractions start!  That's what I should do!

So I go to bed and (go ahead, laugh) try to sleep.  Shockingly, I am unsuccessful.  So at about 4:45 I wake up Eric.  Waking him up and telling him that my water broke and that we're going to have a baby is every bit as fun as I always imagined it would be.  We call the midwife.  Since I'm still not contracting, we arrange to meet at the birthing center at 8:30.  I call my parents, who are in East Tennessee (we were in Texas).  I already told them days ago to have their stuff packed and ready.  I deliver my news gleefully.  They are dumbfounded.  Their stuff is decidedly NOT packed and ready.  They freak out and have to go.

I'm not sure what Eric and I do for the next three hours but: something.  At 8:30 we're off to the birthing center with three year old Alyosha in tow.  He is interested, but not that interested.  Because I'm still not dilated or contracting, the midwife strips my membranes and pulls down my cervix and I want to curse the world and die.  So now, tra la la, we're free to go and come back in the afternoon.

We go to a nearby breakfast joint that we lurve and I eat a super yummy granola/coconut milk bowl.  (Heck yes I remember what I ate.)  Then I start contracting.  It's probably about 10:00 a.m.  I walk around the parking lot for a few minutes, because it seems like something women in labor should do.  Then we go home.

The midwife had told me that pumping would get contractions going, so my dear friend Bonnie came over with her pump and gave me a tutorial.  Colostrum!  Lots of it!  I was so proud.  Eric came in and was all, "that's it?" and I was all "get outta here YOU KNOW NOTHING."  Turns out, I knew nothing because why was I pumping to create contractions when I was already having contractions?  They start coming strong and steady, just 3 or 4 minutes apart.

Eric's parents (who live 45 minutes away) come to pick up Alyosha.  My mother in law is a saint and brings an amazing salad with her.  We kiss Aly Baly goodbye, eat some salad, I take a shower and then lay/sit/roll/moan on the bed.  Eric sits beside me with the precious playlist he prepared playing softly, and reads Scripture verses that his sister had sent.  (That hour is my favorite memory of labor.)

At 2 p.m. we head to the birthing center, contractions about 2.5 minutes apart.  I labor for awhile at 5 cm, still feeling good in between, chatting with the midwives and assistants.  There is one other girl there with her husband, laboring in the next room, who tells me she's been in severe pain all night.  I thank my lucky stars that it's going faster for me, and will laugh a hearty nonlaugh over that later.

Blah blah blah, when I hit 6.5 cm they finally let me get in the birthing tub, which is awesome for a little while and then BACK LABOR DEAR GOD THE BACK LABOR and tub or no tub really doesn't matter anymore.  Eventually I throw up in the water and have to get out anyway.  This part of labor is a blur and all I remember is the vomit, the exploding back, and saying "Christ have mercy" over and over again and telling my husband "I can't do this" no fewer times.  Eric is a precious little first timer, eyes wide, assuring me I can, and praying with his rosary beads beside me for hours.

When I get out of the puke, I am at a 7.  TWO HOURS for half a centimeter?  There is no shred of justice in the world.  My angel midwife offers some pain reliever and I jump on it, but can not tell ya what it is for the life of me.  (I don't exactly have strict standards at this point.)  Mercifully, I am able to sort of half doze for 30 minutes or so before they rouse me and get me moving again.  Before long, I am pushing.

Yay, I think, pushing means this is almost over!

Unless your baby's head is turned really weird and can't get passed your pelvic bone.  Then pushing means nothing except a lot of screaming.  Homegirl in the next room delivers, they cheerfully tell me.

Well la de freaking da for homegirl.

Three hours.  By this point, I can read the midwives like a book and their facial expressions would be almost comical if they weren't so soul-crushing.  Nothing happenin'.  Nada.  Eric is adorable, though, and during every push tells me excitedly, "I see his head! I see his head!"

Every push for three and a half hours, God love him.

They're monitoring Moses' heart rate closely and he's happy as a clam in there.  No state of emergency here except for the fact that I cannot physically get this child out of me.  Finally the midwife tells me that she needs to cut an episiotomy and if that doesn't work, we'll transfer to the hospital.

I am NOT going to the hospital.  Not because I don't believe in them, I do! (I do, I do, I do!)  I would have been fine with going three hours ago but at this point NOPE.  This baby is coming out of me RIGHT NOW or else I'll... well I don't know but I can be awfully bull-headed when I wanna be.

Meanwhile, my parents have completed their 17 hour drive and make it to the waiting room just as the drama hits the climax.  One of the sweet assistant midwives explains everything to them and prays with them (how awesome is that?)  and bada bing bada bang,

He came out.

11:56 pm. on December 17th
8 lbs 9 oz
22 inches
Moses Emmanuel, our Advent baby
proof that, still, "God is with us"

Eric cuts the cord looking like he's been run over by a truck, they sew me up, Moses nurses immediately, and my parents are able to come in moments later.  It is perfect.  Terribly imperfect but so very, very perfect.

And two years later, I'm still feeling pretty good about the fact that he came out.  Happy Birthday, Moshe!

<< You can find Alyosha's adoption story here and Taavi's birth story here! >>

Be Here Now


I'm a mashed-up tin of frosted Christmas cookies this year.  I'm the broken shards of ornaments you unearthed from the attic, that maybe you can make into a mosaic or something.  Point is, I'm all over the place this December.  Making a long trip over Thanksgiving threw me off my Advent game, both practically and emotionally, and I still haven't regained the ball.

This is what I know: a strict observance of Advent is good.  (i.e. making space for Christ through silence, reading, meditation, slowness, and caring for others)  And a joyful observance of Christmas all December is good.  (i.e. decorating, winking at children, looking for lights, buying gifts, and caring for others)  These weeks can look a thousand different ways and still be good; the trouble I'm having is figuring out what is good for my family right now.  And what maybe can wait until next year.  (I'm looking at YOU, "hanging all the lights up on St. Lucia day".  You were planned for yesterday and we remain lightless on the 14th.)

When we got home from Thanksgiving, we were all in a slump.  Advent roared right ahead without even stopping to pat us on the shoulder, and I was whiplashed and homesick.  The last thing I wanted to do was dig out the Advent/Christmas bin and deck the halls.  But then Lori posted this, and the bags under my eyes hung a little lighter.  I knew what I had to do.

I don't own a fancy camera (and by fancy I mean... a real camera) and am always happy with just using my iphone until I try to do a post like this.  Can you just agree to believe that it looks better in person?  Then we can carry on.

I was going to make my own (surely hideous) stockings and then I realized it was December and I didn't want to.  So.  A little Etsy tourism and voila, I found sweet grandma Cindi and her penchant for crochet in Katy, Texas who churned six of these puppies out (because: one to grow on) and mailed them two days later.

"5" because there really are five of us but fetuses only get their stockings hung if they will actually be making an appearance during Advent or Christmastide as established in the case of Evans v. Christmas Mantle, 2013.

The diminutive cinnamon bark reindeer was a wild and crazy Cyber Monday purchase at the Ten Thousand Villages website.  When he arrived at my doorstep, I had just pulled out this guy from the Christmas storage:

There is a 90% chance that I got him from Ten Thousand Villages last Cyber Monday.  I don't know how this happens.  Do I need an intervention between me and quirky reindeer?

I got the Haitian nativity at a local brick and mortar store, but it might be found at Ten Thousand Villages as well.  (Maybe it's not the reindeer who are the problem...)

Snatched up that crocheted blanket at the thrift store this summer because of course I did.

We got our live tree (we can't do it any other way) before St. Nicholas Day and like I said, were going to string up the lights on St. Lucia's Day (a martyr and "the saint of light") yesterday but she's still bare and proud.  Or bare and embarrassed about it, I admit I haven't asked.  We usually hang the ornaments on Christmas Eve day.  Before you throw stones and yell SCROOGE at me, it is a crazy fun time to do it, builds the Christmas anticipation beautifully, and stays up for 12 more days which is more than long enough when small children are trying to hurl glass balls and poop tinsel.  Long e. nuff.

Speaking of St. Nick, he came on December 6th and left little goodies inside the boys' shoes under the tree.  Connection to the church throughout history is important to us and is something we want to pass on to our children.  We are not part of an ahistorical church; we want them to be emboldened and inspired by Christ followers who have lived and died for two thousand years and in order for that to happen they have to actually know about them.

Poor flattened-out, hand me down couch, you have borne us well.  We love you even if your britches are saggy.

Since I covered every square inch of mantle space with every Christmas-inspired tchotchke that I own, the rest of the house got slim trimmings.  Ce la vie.

I love this handmade bamboo nativity set we got in Indonesia years ago.  I don't love that my children keep lobbing heads off wise men and goats.  There are some precarious situations going on in this picture, my friends.

Those are the beeswax candles that we made and I bet you would have never guessed that we rolled them ourselves.  The two wonkies on the right are my favorites.

This December finds me lonely, yearning, yet thankful for so much.  We live in the tension of the already/not yet and no season makes me feel it more than this one.  There are words we can speak or write, there are songs we can hear or pen, but at the end of the day the most powerful response is to open up and be here now.

I guess that's what I'm trying to do, just be present to the longing and present to the joy.  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.



This time last year, I was groaning for reprieve.

For about 8 months our home had been the headquarters of sorts (that feels weird and political. try again, Shan?)... okay, the central location of (? better?) the Denton Catholic Worker community.  The house of hospitality had closed after a one-year lease that spring and we were the only ones in the community who really had a home, so we offered it.

All summer we had three single guys in and out of our house during the day and sleeping in their vans in our driveway at night.

(Does that sound sketch? Let me clarify: we trusted these guys with our lives.  In fact they became our sons' godfathers that summer so technically we trusted them with our children's lives, too.)

 All summer, folks came.  Our house might as well have been another city bus stop for all of the coming and going that went on in it.  The homeless, the college students, the alcoholics, the idealists, the mentally fragile.  We cooked together, ate together, prayed together, did Lectio Divinia together.  That summer was one of the sweetest times of our lives.  We always considered the safety of our children and no one we didn't trust knew where the house was, but yeah, sometimes it got messy.  But usually it was pretty darn good.

In September, two single girls moved in to our guest bedroom.  Two of the sweetest, happiest, most kid-lovin' girls you ever met.  One praying about becoming a nun, one with a then-shaved head and tattoos.  When they moved in, it was like the floodgates opened. The city bus stop became Grand Central Station and there was always someone home.  Or twelve.  (Usually more like twelve.)

At night I would put the boys down and crank up the sound machine as loud as it would go so that Moses wasn't awakened by the clanking of dishes, the roar of laughter, or the off-key singing.  We would all stay up late into the night discussing the tenants of the Catholic Worker... or watching Gilmore Girls. Half the time someone would just spend the night on the couch, someone else on the floor.  We'd step over sleeping bodies as Alyosha caught the bus in the morning, grinning at how very lucky we were to have lives so full of love.

It was the very best thing that could have happened to us.  Granted, I couldn't walk around my house in my underwear anymore.  I moved the living room armchair into our bedroom just to have a place to be alone.  I'm an introvert, and I was stretched.  Believe that.  But I was also so, so thankful.  We had known what it was to feel totally alone and we were never going back there again.  For all the ways we sacrificed, we received back just as much.

(I cooked less and ate better that year than any other year of our marriage.  And that my friends, is the way to live.)

Last December when they moved to a house to prepare to open a pay-what-you-can restaurant, I was ready.  Ready to have my house back, ready to be alone sometimes, ready for some space and sense of normalcy.  We had discerned that Alyosha really needed a break and some predictablity, too.  It was time.  We were still involved, up until literally the moment our moving van pulled out of town in July, but our home was just ours once more.

But December has rolled around again, this time finding us half a country away, and my heart is groaning yet again.  But not for reprieve.  My heart is groaning for those crazy people to bike up my driveway and walk in without knocking.  My heart is groaning for the bag of almonds Chris fished out of the dumpster... or the new dress Cindy scored for me on donation day at the church on the corner... or the pie Meghan would bring over to eat while we let the kids roll in mud.

I miss my friends.

I miss them and this post doesn't really have a point, except that I want you guys to know about them.

You should know that Peggy bakes the best gluten free chocolate cakes.
That John likes to belly dance.
That Allyson goes insane with joy when it snows.
That Andres' sarcasm cracks me up.
You should know that it's hard to stop looking at Brittany's eyes.
That Angelika is the biggest feeler I've ever met.
That Maureen is like a badass mother hen.
You should know that it takes Shawn 1,927 hours to make a decision.
That Hannah goes to mass every single day.
That Charlene has an accent I've never been able to place.
That you'd never want Emily to leave your couch.

I miss breaking bread together.  I miss loving the world together.  I miss seeking justice together.  It's December and it's cold, and I just miss my friends.

Why "Criminals Will Obtain Guns Anyway" Can't be Reason to do Nothing


I'm sitting in the public library as I write, and I'm looking around for the exits.  There were not one but two public shootings* yesterday in our nation, and I'm getting scared.  I recently read an article a friend posted on Facebook, detailing the response most likely to save your life in the event of a mass shooting.  So now I'm sitting in the public library, and I'm looking around for the exits.

The room I'm in is a stupid choice.  Only one entrance.  No way to run in a zigzag shape to dodge maniacal bullets.  But I stay here, because what are the odds?  If my children were with me, though, I would move.  The thought of navigating two small children to an exit with bullets flying is enough to make me pee my pants. The thought of them being at school without me if it happened, well I can't even mentally stay there for long.

I hate that I have to think about this.  (Don't try to convince me I don't have to think about it... there have been more public shootings in our nation than calendar days this year.)  I hate, hate, hate that this is becoming a bizarre kind of normal that America is beginning to accept.  You hate it too, I know you do.

The worst of it is that the weakest among us- our children, our disabled- are being sacrificed on the altar of political division.  Surely we can do better than this.  Surely we learned something in elementary school about the necessity of compromise.

Not long ago I mentioned this post by a mental health professional suggesting highly rational changes we could make to keep guns out of the hands of sociopaths without taking them out of everyone's hands.  (By the way, I hear a lot of fear-mongering about liberals wanting to take away the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms but I don't hear a lot of liberals actually proposing that as legislation, even if it would be their own personal preference.)  Most of the suggestions we hear surrounding gun control is in regards to background checks, which are good but insufficient in and of themselves.  We are a nation of brilliant minds, surely we can be more creative than that.  Among Howerton's suggestions in the post above are requiring a psychological evaluation, three references, gun violence education, and limiting the types of firearms and amount of ammo that can be purchased.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument against implementing any of these ideas.  The argument that I overwhelmingly most often hear is that "criminals will get their hands on guns one way or another" so these legislative changes are not worth the effort.

Can we think through that stance for a minute?

"If I get in a bad enough car wreck I'll die one way or another, so I never wear my seat belt."

"If a thief really wanted to break into my house he would find a way to do it, so I don't go to the trouble of locking my doors at night."

"If a sexual predator really wanted to kidnap my child they could eventually succeed, so I'm not going to teach my child how to respond to strangers."

I think most of us would agree that these are not rational trains of thought.  Obviously, we will never be in complete control of our own safety or the safety of those we love, but we all take every precaution that we can anyway.  Wearing seat belts, locking our doors, and teaching stranger danger are certainly no guarantees of anything, but we do them anyway because they might just save a life.  Why would we not take the same type of precautions on a broader social scale?

To be honest, I think it's because we don't believe a shooting will ever affect us.  Not only is that a wretched mentality, but that's probably what they all thought.  And now their families are buried in grief.

Do I want to see reform in mental health care in our country?  Absolutely.  But it doesn't have to be either/or.  Don't be fooled by loud outcries on social media or politicians gunning (smirk) for a seat on one side or the other.  Gun control and mental health reform do not have to be either/or choices.  You can be an advocate for both without being a traitor to your party.

If this makes sense to you, take a few minutes to contact your state representatives and tell them so.  It's hard for us to not feel like our hands are tied, but we so often forget that our government is structured to listen to us! Write a quick letter or make a quick phone call.  The beauty of our country is that our voices matter.  Let's use them.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)