How can we possibly blame the Principal of Desert Vista High School for six of her students posing for a group photo wearing shirts which spelled out a racial slur? Yes it happened on school grounds, but is she really the one responsible for the girls terrible choice?

Are we so quick to want someone to pay a price for injustice that we start swinging away at whoever seems to be in charge?

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 8.49.42 AM

Almost 50,000 people have signed this petition that requests the principal be fired. It also states that they don’t believe that 5 days suspension is enough for the girls and they want them expelled. Why let these girls stay at home and hide though? I would’ve wanted my daughter right back in that school to have to deal with her peers. Why not make the girls face what they’ve done instead of hide them away at home?

In today’s racially charged society people need to blame someone when they feel injustice. They start petitions, hold rallies and cause a national uproar all in the hopes of bringing change and justice to the situation. The problem is we are going at this all wrong.

What we do need to focus on is how this happened in the first place. What is, or is not going on, in the homes of these girls that they felt confidant in using the N-word while posing for this photo?

Let’s place the ownership back where it belongs- on the individuals. I hear one of them has lost her soccer college scholarship, with another one possibly following in her footsteps. That’s huge, life altering stuff people. Rest assured these seniors are paying a price for their actions, so we don’t need to worry about their punishment. This episode will haunt them for a long time.

These girls are underage, so why aren’t we questioning the people who are raising them? Where are you parents? I hope you are seriously thinking through how you may have contributed to your child’s lapse of good judgement.

The “R” in the viral photo came forward and offered a public apology on Monday. Mom was right there by her side clutching her arm. I would’ve had a hard time not grabbing that microphone and sobbing my sincere apologies for my daughter’s ignorance and begging for forgiveness. I believe our children should be held accountable for their own actions, but I would accept my role in raising a daughter with obvious white privilege.

Let’s not blame the principal though. The Principal doesn’t have it easy running a large public high school as it is. Let’s do turn our eyes to the parents and the home environments where kids are being raised to feel entitled without empathy and regard for others. This is where the problem lies and if we want to see real change in our society then let’s start with our own homes and what we are modeling to our kids.

I’ve wanted to ignore the fact that this photo really took place just on the other side of the beautiful city that I live in. Yes, this picture makes me angry. I don’t know these girls at all and I’ve read that they are nice people, but I am embarrassed at their blatant privilege and disrespect. Their racial prank affects all of us.

I get that kids make mistakes. I know that I most certainly did and am glad I was fortunate enough to not have social media haunting my every move. But, I can guarantee I would’ve never posed for a picture like this.

Read more

Snuggled on the couch with two of my children, it was time to head off for my weekly visit to mentor my tween, Jen, who lives in a foster care group home.

This particular night, I questioned myself the entire thirty-minute drive. What kind of mother am I? Leaving my own kids to go and spend time with someone else’s? That is until I pulled in to the driveway and saw her peering out the front window eagerly awaiting my arrival.

In that instant, I knew that we must carve out time in our lives to love those who feel unloved.

Lovenote

Our own kids need and deserve our love, but they can’t be the only ones we are willing to give it to. When I saw the joy in Jen’s eyes as I walked to the door, I vowed never to question this purpose again.

Don’t use your family as an excuse for not caring for hurting people. Yes, I miss some time with my kids and husband to spend time with Jen. Thankfully, my children are deeply rooted in love from a wide community of family and friends, where unfortunately many are not. You don’t end up in a group home if you have any stable adult looking out for you.

bestmentor

What exactly is a mentor? A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors. If you have ever wondered if you are making a difference in your life, mentoring is an incredible way to do so.

At Jen’s most recent CFT (Child and Family Team) meeting, everyone involved in her case was raving about her heightened confidence and related all the positive change to our mentoring relationship. Wow.

The power of Mentoring is miraculous. None of us achieve success in life alone. I am slowly building trust with a girl who has no one she can count on in life that isn’t being paid to be there for her. She has been abused, neglected and beat down in her short years. I am humbled to provide her with new experiences while instilling hope for a brighter future, even if it means having to miss some family time once in awhile.

There are many young men and women in foster care who could really use someone like yourself to invest in them. Out of the 10 girls in the group home, Jen is the only one with a mentor. Are you willing to spread love through the gift of your presence?

I am a certified mentor through AASK. Check them out and join me in helping make a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable children!

Choosing a word of the year is all the hype. Perhaps you’ve already chosen yours or are in deliberation. Or maybe you have never even thought about letting a word represent the year ahead. It’s thought provoking and pretty painless, so why not? I’ve found that sometimes my choice even inspires others.

Last year my word was deliberate. I went easy on myself and chose a twist on the word intentional, something that I strive to do every day anyway. This year the word I’ve settled on is going to be a difficult one for me.

This year my word is GENTLE.

When I reflect on my 2015, I did a lot of amazing things. I hiked part of the Grand Canyon with a girlfriend. I flew around to some awesome conferences and to visit with family. My husband and I enjoyed some quiet time RVing to pick up the kids from summer camp before we headed off as a family to serve in Mexico. I made a lot of great memories last year.

If I’m honest though what stands out to me the most is how much I nagged and got frustrated with my family last year.

I want to soften my tone and attitude toward my loved ones behind closed doors. The struggle is real friends. I have three teenage sons, an almost teenaged daughter and a very gentle husband who doesn’t quite know what to do with himself most days on this thing called retirement from the NHL.

Keeping my mouth shut will be a task for me. There’s no way to be gentle when you are a nagging, huffing and puffing mother. Change is in order.

Pastor Jamie kicked off a new series at Scottsdale Bible on the Fruits of the Spirit. Ironically, my chosen word is part of the fruit basket. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, GENTLENESS and self-control are what God wants to do within all of us. It’s up to us to cooperate.

In my commitment to become more GENTLE, I vow to:

Lean on our Lord for guidance and help with my word for 2016. I can’t achieve gentleness on my own will.

Respond instead of react. This doesn’t mean ignoring my feelings or thoughts, but perhaps approaching situations so that I don’t walk away with a scratchy throat. Think calm, cool and collected.

Let go of my need to be right. I am a first born, type-A Leo so let’s face it I am rarely wrong. Being gentle doesn’t mean compromising my beliefs, but it does imply that I can be wise and loving in expressing those beliefs to others. Oh Lord, help me now.

Treat my family as I do friends, by honoring them with patience, tolerance and compassion. No one is more deserving than these five who I share an address with.

Judge less. Be gentle with all. Be compassionate and understanding of people I may not know, understand or agree with. Approach everything and everyone softer.

Get less busy. It is a lot easier to be gentle with others, if we are first gentle with ourselves. Too much of anything strips away at my inner peace. With a slowed down, simpler life, I have a greater ability to be gentle because I’m not stressed.

Own my lack of self control, apologize and try again because I will mess up and start going all looney toon on everyone because I’m human. Humans make mistakes but gentle ones can humbly ask for forgiveness and keep working at getting it right.

Have you chosen your word for 2016? How do you feel about my word GENTLE?

Here we are again friends. That first full week in January when the kids head back to school and we are left to regroup after the holiday hustle and bustle. We slowly begin to welcome back our routine and clear our minds to think about the wondorious new year ahead.

Thisismyyear

Order your This is My Year shirt from the Shine Project!

Just what do you want out of 2016?

I have to admit that I don’t feel the renewed sense of excitement that I normally do when the calendar rolls over into a new year. Usually I have a clearer idea of what it is I want to do. But, this past year I accomplished a lot of great things. I joined a gym that makes me happy. I renewed my faith and was baptized. I gave my heart and soul to friends, family and strangers.  I traveled to new places and grew through some adversity.

I do know that I want to be better this year than I was the last. I want to build on strengths and learn from the weaknesses. How do I begin?

Knowing what we want out of 2016 takes starting with a review of our 2015.

Make a simple 2015 timeline

Start one end with January and work your way through the year placing positive events above the line and negative ones below. I looked back through my calendar to do this because Momma’s memory isn’t what it used to be.

2015Timeline

What were your defining moments of 2015? Can you see or feel a theme of the year by reviewing your timeline?

After doing this exercise, I saw that 2015 was a year of rebuilding and renewal for me. I knew that it was going to be an interesting year coming off our amazing RV family sabbatical around the USA in 2014. Any time you experience a life changing event/year, it can be tough to bounce back if we’re not intentional in moving forward in our personal growth.

How did you change in 2015? 

Are you closer to your friends and family from your activities in 2015? Building meaningful relationship with those I love most is my focus every year.

After reviewing 2015, you should now have a platform to begin your action plan for this year.

Let’s start with yourself. 

Your person. Your being. Just you. Forget all those other people who occupy so much of your heart and mind. Your relationship with your own self is crucial to how things will play out for you this year.

Are you taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually? If so, how? If not, how can you do a better job?

What’s something you can plan or do that only benefits you? There is no guilt in taking care of our own soul. You can’t expect to take care of others without first nurturing your own spirit once in awhile.

Are you a difference maker in the lives of others?

What about in your own family? 

What do you want to teach your children this year? Think about what you want your offspring to know and feel when it’s time for them to leave your home. Start investing in that. Math is important but don’t let the academics outweigh what’s really important in life.

How can you carve out more time to strengthen your marriage and friendships? Don’t worry as much about how many calories you are consuming, but rather pay more attention to who you are consuming them with.

Are you serving your local community? Find a cause that makes you feel something in your core and put your efforts into it.

What are you doing Globally to make a difference?

We’ve got a whole year ahead and it’s up to us how we are going to spend that time. I’ve got faith in us that we can make 2016 our best year yet!

What excites you about 2016? What’s already on this year’s timeline?