Six days to Christmas and all is well

My son’s Christmas countdown tells me it is currently six days until Christmas. My radio, tuned to the local non-stop Christmas music station, agrees, as does my kitchen, currently overflowing with the remains of last week’s massive round of Christmas baking. We visited the Dickens Christmas festival in downtown Franklin last Sunday and have watched several of our favorite holiday movies. We’ve read as many versions of the nativity story as we can get our hands on. I am enjoying all these things while simultaneously remaining completely astonished that this year is drawing to a close.

So, here I am, finally posting a few pictures from our lovely Thanksgiving at the in-laws’ in Georgia.


The spread


These potatoes, y’all…


The table


The crew

IMG_5105    IMG_5106


The family



The handsomest grandpa around

There are times when it nearly takes my breath away, how fast life is passing and how quickly my children change. This year, Corin remembers nearly every detail of last Christmas and can look forward to holiday events with much more specific anticipation. He put a lot of the ornaments on the tree this year. He also understands more and more of the Christmas story. Lina still mostly ignores a lot of the preliminaries and really still prefers that we open gifts for her so she can get to the fun part of playing with whatever’s inside. She adores the holiday sweets, and her fairly new appreciation for babies makes the story of baby Jesus one she can relate to better than most. Today, she spontaneously said “Bible” for the first time, and then repeated it throughout the morning. Our Little People nativity set – given us by Aunt Lila several years ago – is always a big hit, and we will spend more time this next week acting out the story of Jesus’ birth in a way that hopefully brings it home a bit for the munchkins.

As an adult, you would think the endless repetition of the nativity story would get old. I find the opposite is true. Every year, the story has new meaning for me. This year, I’ve been struck by the universality of the gift of God’s Son: “Good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” We humans tend to put everyone on a worthiness scale. It has come home hard this year that God sent a Savior for everyone. I find myself asking, “What am I doing to bring God to people where they are?” It’s a hard question, and I wrestle with what that really looks like in my life. For now, I am thankful for the seasonal reminder of a boundless love that belongs to all of us.



Singing and dancing to Christmas music









Let this be the final straw

Fellow Americans, we need to talk.

It’s happened again. Yesterday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California was the 352nd in the U.S. in 2015. There have been more mass shootings than there have been days so far this year. This time, a public health facility that serves people with intellectual disabilities was targeted, for reasons that will never make any sense.

But here’s the thing: We are all culpable. This keeps happening, and we keep having the same ridiculous, entrenched arguments that incapacitate our nation and leave the door wide open for more senseless violence.

The public conversation is the same every time: It’s a gun control problem. No, it’s a mental health care problem. Politicians and the media line up to take a position on one side or the other. Everyone has a favorite hobby horse and a favorite line of defense. We hash and re-hash the same, tired debate and wonder why this keeps happening.

We can blame the media. We can blame politicians. But ultimately, we are to blame. We the people allow this to happen. We align with a particular political agenda and fall in step behind the rhetoric. We allow complex issues to be oversimplified into easily-packaged 60-second segments. We quickly regurgitate lines and arguments that resonate.

I am a fairly informed and intelligent citizen, but I don’t understand why this keeps happening. My guess is you don’t, either. I don’t think any of us really have a handle on what this disease is that’s eating away at the soul of our culture, stealing the lives of far too many innocent people.

Let’s stop pretending we have the answers. Let’s stop jumping on political bandwagons, shouting the same old lines at each other. Let’s have a discussion that acknowledges the truth: This is a complex problem that’s pretty unlikely to have one simple solution. Yes, we clearly are facing a mental health crisis, with no apparent idea how to address it. Let’s also admit that extremely deadly weapons are regularly ending up in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, costing an unacceptable price in lives lost.

Let’s demand funding for research on gun violence so we have information instead of endless opinion. (See this article on why the CDC is not currently conducting that research.) Let’s fund serious mental health research and talk to serious people about practical solutions. Let’s acknowledge that solving this problem will likely cost money, and that we all have to have a part in that. (Emergency medical care and massive crisis response operations aren’t exactly free.)

I’m honestly not convinced we have the collective will to do this. Our nation is in a terrible place. We don’t seem able to work together to solve problems. We are very attached to our rhetoric and our hobby horses. Which is why I’m making this a very personal appeal: Put down that hobby horse. Step away from the rhetoric. Demand that your public representatives do the same. Let San Bernardino be the final straw. Let this be the event that galvanizes a nation to work together to find real answers.