Exposing the Real Issues in Sochi


Tonight, the big torch will light, and another two weeks of the world’s top in athletics will wow and inspire us with their dedication, determination, and skill in athletics. I’m as excited as the next person to watch the Olympic Games. I love everything about the Olympics, though admittedly I’m always more drawn to the summer Games than the Winter.

But there’s a shadow over these 2014 Olympics Games, and I’m struggling to get excited. In the days leading up to these Games I’ve heard little about the athletes, and much about the condition of the hotels, the discomfort of the visiting journalists, and OH DEAR ME THE POOR SHIPMENT OF YOGURT THAT NEVER MADE IT.

*caps for dramatic effect*

Last year, I participated in three phone calls with the U.S. Department of State on the situation with the law banning Americans from adopting from Russia. I listened as bereaved parent after bereaved parent asked, “Where are our leaders? Who is fighting on our behalf?”

We were given answers that were pandering at best, most of them meant to deflect a question without an answer. Outside of Senator Mary Landreiu and a few of her colleagues, very few of our nation’s leaders had anything to say on the matter of Russian adoption. For months and months, the issue was pushed aside as parents who had already met their children, who promised to return and bring them home, languished with no answers.

So imagine the horror we all feel at this abandoned shipment of Chobani. Within hours of hearing that the yogurt would not be cleared, Senator Schumer fired off a strongly worded statement: 

“Chobani Yogurt is safe, nutritious and delicious and the Russian Authorities should get past ‘nyet’ and let this prime sponsor of the US Olympic Team deliver their protein-packed food to our athletes.” Senator Charles Schumer.

Where was this indignation when innocent children were caught in the red tape? Where was the quick response, the strongly worded rebuke, the balled fists and determined pride, when over 200 families who had already met and bonded with their children were told they could not return?

Forgive me, but this is a gross misdirection of priorities and it leaves me sick.

I’ve tried to ignore Yogurt-Gate, but when I turn away from that story, I’m accosted with the images of what appears to be a slew of uncomfortable, horrified journalists who have shown up to half-finished hotel rooms, yellow water, and bathroom situations that leave them red-faced and confused. I read these stories, and I see the tweets, and I can’t laugh. I just can’t do it.

I understand that the Olympics are a big deal, and that a certain level of service and comfort is expected when one visits the top athletic event in the world, but can I just offer a tiny bit of perspective? People live like that every day, all over the world.

Instead of making an entire country, and the wonderful people inside that country, the laughingstock of the world, why don’t you start doing the thing that journalists are supposed to do:

Why don’t you ask why?

Why do you think the conditions are so deplorable in Sochi?  An estimated 51 Billion dollars was spent on these Olympic Games, with an estimated two-thirds of that suspected to have been lost to corruption.

Please, everyone, stop making fun of the situation, and start asking questions, because the people of Russia are by and far good, kind, hardworking people. They don’t deserve to be laughed at, but by all means, question the man who serves as their “leader.” Expose him as the fool that he is.

I want to enjoy the Olympics this year. I really, really do. But I will not laugh at a group of people that I love, especially when they are operating under a man who is nothing short of a dictator. And I will not grow indignant at a missing shipment of yogurt when I know thousands of children are sitting in orphanages waiting on promises to be fulfilled.

I just can’t do it.


I’m Just a Mom in a Minivan

IMG_1115Last night, my husband read me an Op-Ed written by Russian President Vladimir Putin and published in the New York Times. Upon hearing the first few paragraphs, I couldn’t help but shrug my shoulders and reluctantly find myself nodding in agreement with his assessment of the current situation with Syria.

By the end of the article, however, I was angry. When we’ve been publicly chastised by a foreign leader inside our own newspapers, something has gone drastically, drastically wrong.

All day long yesterday, I had a knot in my stomach as I considered the current political situation of our country and the unrest around the world. I felt frustrated and angry. I tried to push those feelings aside, because really who am I to be angry? I’m a white, middle class mother of three who lives in a nice house, has plenty of food and drives a (smokin’ hot) minivan across town. My husband has a good job and we are healthy.

Somehow I feel like these things give me less of a right to be angry. Who am I to complain? What have I got to be angry about?

It dawned on me this morning, however, that I have every right to be angry. In fact, I have three solid reasons to feel anger. I kissed them all good bye this morning and as the bus drove off a deep sadness joined the anger burning in my chest. I’m both sad and angry – two equally distressing emotions that lay heavy against my heart.

I have been severely let down by the men and women who were elected to serve our countrythe people who are supposed to be my voice. I shudder to think of all that could go wrong in the remaining three years of this president’s term.  I’m frightened to think of all that could change leaving my children in a permanently neutered world.

I’m angry because the leaders who were supposed to represent me and my family have ignored us. They’ve turned their backs on us. They are more interested in political games and popularity posturing than they are in my interests. They’re busy trying to put round rolls on square pegs.

And in the meantime, I’m sitting on the sidelines, hands folded patiently, knuckles growing white as I try to maintain control. I’m looking at my children and praying they stay healthy because the current landscape of healthcare has changed so much that visiting the doctor outside of our regular well child visits can quickly become a financial burden. And don’t even get me started on antibiotics.

I’m listening to news of a potential involvement in a war that doesn’t belong to us and my hands begin to tremble. I resist the urge to run to Facebook and air out all my pent up anger ALL IN CAPS FOR EFFECT, because what good will it do? It doesn’t matter how I feel – they’re going to do what they want to do and isn’t that sad?

I read the news articles and shake my head at the back and forth between our leaders who I no longer feel are working in the best interest of my family. They’re posturing themselves for the next election. They’re playing chess, drawing red lines in the sand, trying to save face.

They’re playing roulette with my children’s future and I don’t appreciate it.


By nature I’m a glass half full kind of girl. I’m prone to hope, prone to look for the best, always assuming that things can only get better. I try hard not to speak ill of my leaders. There is so much noise in the world right now. So many people flinging their opinions out in a way that is hateful and spiteful and disrespectful. I don’t want to add to the fray.

I have a deep amount of respect for the office of President. I don’t for a second assume it to be an easy job. I respect anyone who even has the aspirations to become president because I know that the path is marred with stress, difficulty and a huge amount of responsibility.

Because I have such a deep respect for the office, it pains me to think ill of the man in office. Though I did not offer him my vote, when it was all said in done, I hoped to see him succeed, because his success would directly impact my family. Perhaps he thinks he has succeeded. I don’t really know – I don’t know what to think anymore.

I know what I can do, though : I know that I will continue to chauffer my children in my (smokin’ hot) minivan, and as I do I will teach them the things that made our country great. I’ll tell them what it means to serve your country, to serve God, to serve others. I’ll teach them the Constitution and try to help them decipher it in a world that is hell bent on tearing it apart.

I will teach them to be kind and generous. I will teach them to care for others and love well. I will teach them what true leadership looks like. I’ll teach them to respect their leaders even when they disagree. I’ll teach them to stand up for what’s right even if it isn’t popular.

I’ll do all these things and I will continue to cling to the little strand of hope I have left that things will get better – that maybe the politicians will hear me and will want to earn my trust back. It seems unlikely because, after all, I’m “just” a mom in a minivan.

But I can hope…right?



Why we need to talk about Kermit Gosnell


When I read the guilty verdict for Philadelphia “doctor” Kermit Gosnell, I felt an overwhelming satisfaction followed immediately by sadness. The stories surrounding this man have been sickening and wretched, so horrific in nature that reading an article about his practices caused a visceral reaction of rage and sorrow.

You want to know the measure of a monster? Look no further than Kermit Gosnell.

There has been a lot of online chatter about the silence of the mainstream media during the Gosnell trial. If a reporter’s mantra is “If it bleeds, it leads,” then why weren’t they covering this story?

There are a couple of reasons why I think the mainstream media ignored this story. First, as Kristen Howerton points out, this story wasn’t new. Gosnell was first arrested in 2011 and the news of his arrest broke then on most major news stations then. So technically, in the world of broadcast journalism, this could have been deemed old news and old news is no news, right?

I don’t agree, but I see the argument.

I think a larger part of the reason this story was largely ignored is because it cannot be covered without addressing the pressing inconsistencies in the defense of abortion.

No one, including the staunchest of abortion supporters, will deny that Kermit Gosnell’s practices were ugly, brutal, terrifying and wickedly wrong. Even Planned Parenthood, one of the largest performers of abortion in the country, issued a statement celebrating Gosnell’s guilty verdict.

But why? What is it about Gosnell’s practices that differentiate him from other doctors who perform abortions? Why were those three infants considered more valuable than the thousands of children that are aborted in utero?

Is it because the three infants that he was convicted of murdering actually breathed oxygen on their own rather than being supplied oxygen through their mother’s placenta? Is that all that sets them apart? There is a serious problem with that logic, because if we deem someone who doesn’t breathe oxygen on their own as incompatible with life, then what about the countless people who are on a ventilator?

I speak of this topic frankly, but please hear my heart. If you are a woman who has chosen abortion in the past, I hold no judgement in my heart for the decision that you made. I cannot imagine the fear and pain that accompanies the decision to have an abortion and I offer nothing but a deep felt sympathy for the experience you may have had.

That said, this topic cannot be laid to rest and we need to continue to educate and fight not for a woman’s right to choose, but for a child’s right to live. Pope John Paul II once said that “a society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying.”

Gosnell’s conviction is good because it defends the weakest – infants whose spines were snipped with scissors and who died slowly and painfully in the hands of a monster. My heart aches for the mothers whose lives will forever be haunted by the practices of Kermit Gosnell – women who thought they had no other option and who were led astray by a wicked, evil man.

I am a believer in a woman’s right to choose, however, I believe that we need more education so that a woman will choose life rather than choosing abortion. There are so many studies on the emotional and physical effects of abortion. We cannot believe that such a choice will be free of lasting consequences. Women must have a better understanding of these long term psychological effects.

There is no more vulnerable among us than the unborn. We can try to separate the consequences of abortion by labeling a child in utero a “fetus,” but it does not change the scientific nature of the little lives lost. The only thing that separates an infant in utero from an infant outside the womb is the ability to breathe oxygen unassisted. Even at ten weeks in utero, all a child’s bodily functions are developed. Could the child survive outside the womb? No. But that cannot be a justification.

This topic is so difficult and for some of you it stirs up painful memories and emotions. I do not for a second think that choosing abortion was easy or comfortable and I’m so sorry for those of you who must live with the pain of that choice. My heart physically aches at the thought.

But we cannot give up or ignore this topic because the most vulnerable of our society are at stake. While Kermit Gosnell’s practices were sick and awful, the outcome of what he accomplished is no different from those who perform abortions in utero. We need to talk about this and we need to be quick to offer pregnant women who feel trapped in their circumstances different options.

Because I believe in the right for a woman to choose – I just believe that she, and her unborn child, will be better off in the long run if she chooses life.

(And before we spiral down a rabbit trail, let me just acknowledge that there are circumstances when abortion seems to be the only option. I had a friend who suffered an ectopic pregnancy and chose to have the child surgically removed from her fallopian tube because not to do so could have killed both her and the child – a gut wrenching and difficult choice. This topic is hard, trust me, I know that it is. But we can’t brush it under the rug with broad generalizations and defenses built on quick sand.)


Thoughts? How are we doing as a society?

Amidst the flames

Last night I smothered them all in kisses. Soft cheeks still ripe with innocence and youth. Noses dotted with the freckles of childhood, when life is secure and free and beautiful and each day can be met with wonder and imagination.

I don’t tell them about the fires. I don’t mention the lives lost and the political uproar, the fear for what tomorrow might hold. I don’t share the unrest or the prevailing hatred that threatens to overwhelm. While flames lick the embassies and grieving loved ones bury heroes, I play another round of UNO, wipe another runny nose and gather my chicks under my wing with nothing more than a prayer.

These are scary times. I look at my children sometimes and I wonder, what will they face? I think of the little girl who may already be waiting for us across the ocean and I long to gather her close, too. To protect her from the scary. To tell her it’s okay, everything is going to be alright.

I haven’tcompletely sheltered the kids. Sloan and I talked politics just the other day. He watched footage of the 9-11 Memorial and I did not try to hide my tears as I listened to a mother remember her son who perished in the flames of that awful day. He knows that evil exists. He understands that there are those who possess a hatred so fierce it causes them to commit the unthinkable.

But while these flames burn, I feel an overwhelming urge to keep my little ones near and to guard their innocence with all the ferocity I’ve been given as their mother. I whisper prayers over them each night. I pray for protection and peace and for days filled with the magical fantasy that only the youthful can possess. 

I pray this not just for my children, but for all the children. I think of Moses and Mwajuma and the different kind of innocence they possess. I pray for the little ones who are trapped right in the center of the flames, the ones burying their daddies and the ones who go to sleep at night to the sporadic sounds of gunshots.

In the nighttime hours, I study the candidates and dissect what they believe so that, when the time comes, I can use what little power I have to try and protect the future for my children. I learn and try to understand and ultimately I remember that in the end, it is God who places people in power and it is all for a reason.

I will fight the flames the only way I can and I will do so with as much education as I can to ensure I truly understand the choices I am making. Because those choices don’t just affect me – they affect them. They affect my children, the ones who are set to grow up in this beautiful, wonderful, scary, volatile world.

My vote and my prayers are the only weapons I’ve got and I take my responsibility to utilize them seriously.


Yesterday, I sat behind a woman and her three children who had that very morning said goodbye to a husband and a daddy. He had left in the early morning hours for a nearly nine-month long deployment to Afghanistan. I watched as she and her mother-in-law clutched hands through the worship set, each swiping tears from her eyes in a swift motion of strength and vulnerability.

Two women with the young ones huddled securely beneathe their arms. A hero sent into the flames. My vote and my prayer all I have as back up.



I believe in the power of both.


I will utilize both my vote and my prayers with as much humility and wisdom as I have been granted. I will vote with passion and conviction, but I will not step into the voting booth with hatred.

Hatred ignites the flame.

I have a responsibility to guard my chldren – all the children – from the heat of those flames.

I urge you, my friends, to educate yourselves before this election. Don’t vote based on emotion or popularity or even based on what you’ve voted in the past. We cannot be lackadaisical in our knowledge of the issues. We must go forth with conviction and courage.

The heat of the flames must compel us forward in wisdom, grace and humility and, above all else, we have to protect the little ones who are coming up behind us.

Are you prepared to vote?

Why I Will Continue to Eat Mor Chikin

Chick-fil-a Rally Cow. Source Unknown

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or you are one of the few who don’t have a Facebook account (the horror!), then chances are good you’ve heard about the recent controversy surrounding the nation’s premiere seller of all things chicken.

Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-a founder Truett Cathy, made a statement last week that incited waves of both rage and support. It was a bold move and, as much as people may not like his decision to publicly state his beliefs, it was an inevitable move. For several months I’ve watched, slightly bemused, as people began posting the news on Facebook of the organizations financially supported by Chick-fil-a.

Given the intense scrutiny they were under for the organizations they chose to support, I figured it was only a matter of time before Chick-fil-a was forced to make some kind of statement.

For days now, I’ve watched with a bit of confusion as people left and right, from Facebook posts, to official statements by major companies and public rants by elected officials, have tossed out words such as “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “discrimination.”

“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail,” huffed Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors,” stated CEO Lisa Henson.

“I, along with many others, are boycotting chick-fil-a for your bigotry,” someone wrote on Chick-fil-a’s Facebook page.

And my personal favorite from their Facebook page: “Chick-fil-a is anti-gay!”

More than anything, I find the terminology being used here disturbing. What Dan Cathy said is anything but discriminatory. He stated a belief and an opinion, both of which he has every right to uphold. He did not say that anyone who believes different was not welcome to work at his chain or eat at his restaurants. Let’s not diminish the horror that is true discrimination.

Not allowing blacks to share the same bathrooms, sit on public buses, eat in public restaurants and so on…that was discrimination.

The holocaust was discrimination.

History itself is rife with examples of true discrimination.

Supporting an organization financially out of your own earnings is not discrimination. To try and compare the two is absurd. Chick-fil-a has not denied anyone any rights so the words discrimination and bigotry cannot be used in the truest sense of what they mean.

Is Chick-fil-a intolerant for their belief? Well, it seems that depends entirely on where you stand on the issue at hand. There has been little mention in the media of Office Depot’s $1 million pledge of support for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” foundation, a large supporter of same-sex marriage. No one is breaking down their financial statements on Facebook with battle cries of “Anti-Traditional Marriage!” Or “Office Depot discriminates against heterosexual marriage.”

Chick-fil-a has every right to support who they want to support and fight for what they believe in. Should Mr. Cathy have taken his stance public? That’s hard to say. Again, I’m not sure he had much of a choice, but perhaps it’s wise moving forward to not toe the line of political hot button topics.

On the other side of that token, we have every right as a population to decide what we believe and how strongly we believe it. If you disagree with Chick-fil-a and don’t want to eat there, you have that right. Personally, I cannot imagine a world without waffle fries and the perfect chicken sandwich.

But that’s just me.

We all have the right to support and back those things in which we strongly believe. Not eating at Chick-fil-a may be enough to prove a point, but it’s not going to change anyone’s mind about how they feel and what they believe and, in all honesty, it’s probably not going to hurt Chick-fil-a’s business in the long run.

We can all stand up for what we believe, to be sure, but we can’t sacrifice free speech in the process. Dan Cathy was firmly within his rights to express his beliefs, even if the repercussions were a few less sandwiches sold.

Mayor Menino is firmly outside of his rights to block Chick-fil-a from building in Boston simply because of what they believe and support. If that’s the stance he’s going to take, then chances are he’s going to have to boot a lot of businesses and churches out of his city as well. I wonder if he’s really ready to try and strong arm his way through that battle.

Chick-fil-a is not discriminating against a population of people. Everyone is welcome inside their stores. Everyone can order from the same menu, eat at the same tables, use the same bathrooms, drink the same glorious lemonade and benefit from the same clean environment and excellent service, regardless of race, gender, orientation or religious belief.

It’s not an easy topic to cover and believe me when I say I don’t write these things without a measure of trepidation. I don’t like cyber fights and it is not my intention to start one here. I believe in our rights as individuals to express what we believe freely and to fight for what we think is right and good. Your opinion may differ from mine, but I hope that together we can come to a place of respectful, mutual dialogue and not resort to petty name-calling.

What are your thoughts?

Please be nice. What if I throw in a happy emoticon for good measure? Would that help? 🙂

This is the part where I would compliment your hair or your shoes in an effort to let you know I think you’re super cool and don’t want to offend you or hurt your feelings and still want to be your friend and maybe we could go get a chicken sandwich later? Wait…


How ’bout a Starbucks. They’re neutral, right?

Have a nice day!

Image credit

The problem, you see…

Like everyone else in the country, my heart breaks at Saturday’s horrific shooting in Arizona.  There is no sense to be made of six deaths.  There is no sense to be made of the gunman’s frame of mind.  There is, of course, plenty to debate, but in the end, no sense can be made of it.

I understand the need for dialogue.  It is only natural to want to disect and pull apart the layers of what happened Saturday to find a reason.  Seeking blame gives momentary solace, I suppose.  But it doesn’t change that fact that there are parents in Arizona whose arms now ache with longing to feel the weight of their child.  There is a spouse whose ears strain for a sound of her husband’s voice.  There are children who watch the door that their father will no longer walk through.  Blame only gets us so far, you see.

There are families walking through fires that most of us will never know.  There are tears being shed that are more bitter than the majority of us will ever understand.  There is a depth of sorrow more harsh than most of us could possibly imagine.  There is anger and pain and heartache and yes, fury.  Answers are longed for, many of which will likely never be found.  We can point fingers and accuse this person of saying this and that person of saying that, but is it truly productive?

I vowed awhile back that I wouldn’t delve into politics on this blog again and, for the most part, I haven’t.  I don’t think one can avoid politics altogether, particularly as a parent.  Parenting is political.  Politics matter because they determine the forecast of the world laid before our little ones.  So politics is not to be ignored.

However, I’m not a political writer and I don’t like confrontation (makes my stomach get all fluttery) and politics are confrontational.  So I steer clear when I can and today is going to be no exception.  This post isn’t about politics.  It’s about respect.  The way I see it, our country doesn’t have a problem with political philosophies that are “hateful” so much as a problem with respect.

There’s a word we don’t hear enough, right?

There are crazy people in this world.  People who think it’s okay to buy a gun and open fire in a crowd.  People who think it’s okay to hurt another in the name of a cause – any cause.  People who think it’s okay to fly planes into buildings.  The list could go on and on.  You can’t characterize evil and hate by any one group, any one religion or any one political party.  And no religion, no political party, no one place or vicinity should be tainted as a whole because of a crazy person.  Evil is evil.  Hatred is hatred.  Trying to pass it off as anything else misses the mark.

Instead of pointing fingers at each other, slinging accusations and political barbs, perhaps we could instead examine the need for respectful dialogue.  You know, the kind without name calling and back-handed jabs.  And it would do us all good to remember the families in Arizona whose lives will never again be the same.  Is jaded arguing and combing through each political figures’ every word with a fine tooth comb getting us anywhere but further steeped in the same back and forth jabbering?

Joe stated it well when he wrote, “When an event like this happens, our natural instinct is to reach for labels that allow us to separate ourselves from the ones who committed the evil. At this moment it may be liberals blaming conservatives, but in other instances it’s Christians blaming Muslims, whites blaming blacks, the poor blaming the rich, etc. (or the other way around). If instead, our first instinct is to see the evil that lives inside ourselves we will recognize that our lines of demarcation collapse and the ones we seek to marginalize are actually our own flesh and blood.”

It’s not that I’m not angry.  I am.  I hate what happened in Arizona.  Every time I see a picture of Christina Green my heart breaks.  And it’s not that I don’t want answers.  I want to understand what would make someone do something so horrible.  I want a reason as much as anyone else for what he did.

But I’m not going to find it in a political ad from two years ago.  And I’m not going to find a reason for it by slinging accusations into the great, wide nothing using words like vitriol and rhetoric.  All I can do is control my emotions and my anger.  And I would like to see others do the same.  It’s okay to disagree.  It’s okay to dialogue.

I do think a lot of people are dialoguing well on this topic.  There are many healthy discussions going on.  Unfortunately, the conversations getting the most attention are the sensational dialogues.  I’m glad we’re talking.  I’m glad people are examining motives.  I just hope that we can be productive in doing so.