We are in the 5th day after the tragic events of Friday, December 14th. You still cannot turn on the TV or radio, or log onto a social media outlet, without hearing discussion of possible reasons the Sandy Hook tragedy happened, what we need to do to assure that our children in America are safe, and how we should proceed to make sure this never happens again.
Because of the focus, I have learned that there are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States, according to the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives numbers (as of Aug. 1) and to put that number into perspective, there are 143,839 gas stations in our country.
As we all work through our grief and sadness over the events of Friday in Newtown, CT – the conversation has begun in earnest about whether this will finally be the tipping point leading to action. I watched last night’s interfaith service and two statements are tugging at my heart this morning.
“We are all in this together,“ was voiced by the pastor that opened the service. President Obama exclaimed, “We cannot do this alone.”
I cannot help wondering how Liza Long and other moms that can so relate with Nancy Lanza, felt hearing these words. How often have they felt completely alone in dealing with the unforeseen, complicated and painful issues of mental illness?
I so appreciate the comforting words posted by the United Methodist Church some 24 hours ago. Voices across the nation and world are crying out to understand how yet again, another mass shooting can take place in of all places; an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. From calls for leadership on real gun control to changes in systems to better deal with signs of mental illness in loved ones; from reporters across the channels on our television to every social media network; people are crying out for answers and change.
Will the crying last into the New Year? Will the search for Light in the darkness finally lead to concrete action that will begin to reverse this dreadful trend?
Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3
Elections are one way in which we use our United Voices to collectively respond to the needs of children. I thought it might be beneficial to others if I shared the list of questions I pondered before early voting yesterday for state legislative candidates and those seeking to represent my community in Congress. God loves His children and calls us to follow His lead. Please cast a prayerful ballot on or before Nov. 6th!
Here is some help with your homework:
Giving children the opportunity to attend pre-school is surely one of the best investments we can make in the lives of children. Assuring that children are ready to enter kindergarten ready to learn to read can set children up for a lifetime of success.
What positions are taken by the Illinois General Assembly candidates in restoring necessary funding for early-childhood education from the cuts that resulted in 18,000 less pre-school children from 2009 – 2012?
Since last Wednesday night, I cannot seem to get Big Bird off my mind. Still this morning my facebook feed is filled with posts that make jest at Big Bird’s moment in the spotlight! But can we get a bit more serious for a moment? This is not about the bird in my opinion, but rather about encroaching on an important boundary and it began in December of 2011 when this statement was made:
“We’re not going to kill Big Bird, but Big Bird is going to have advertisements,” Romney said, while speaking at Homer’s Deli in Clinton, Iowa.
I have had the pleasure this past week of helping to register hundreds of new voters at the local community college. It thrilled me to see how enthusiastic and excited young people are about being good citizens and letting their voices be heard by voting! But I also cannot help but ache at the fact that my generation has seemed to create a ton of problems for our young people.
I have been an advocate for public education since hearing God speak to me through a sermon years ago, “If you feel called to minister to children, you do that in the public schools because that is where 90% of them are!”
When the strike first began in Chicago, I at first struggled with the notion that children were not in the classroom. I am so grateful for the wisdom of leaders like Bishop Sally Dyck because of her urge to pray for our public schools, and for the response of many local Methodist churches and other groups in Chicago, that reached out to parents and families with much-needed childcare assistance.
With the first Chicago teacher walkout in 25 years, the city’s public school system has been making national headlines as a starting point to discuss education reform. While a central issue in Chicago has been evaluating teachers, perhaps an equally important question to consider is whether reform programs — on the whole — are effective.
Of particular concern are programs aimed at closing student achievement gaps that imply not all children have equal opportunities to attain the American Dream.
“Only you can do something about it.
There’s no-one there, my friend, any better.
I might know what you mean when you say you fall apart.
Aren’t we all the same? In and out of doubt.
I can see angels standing around you.
They shimmer like mirrors in Summer.
But you don’t know it.
And they will carry you o’er the walls.” — Kate Bush
In 2008, I really needed my guardian angel. At the age of 48, less than two years after the birth of our triplets and six months after the purchase of a new home, I lost my job — for the first time in my life. Like so many other Americans of the “formerly middle class,” my family and I suddenly became a sad statistic, another row of data in the newly-expanding tables of the unemployed, part-time employed, bankrupt, foreclosed, and homeless.
“You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall render just decisions for the people. You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” — Deuteronomy 16:18-20
When a child is in absolute jeopardy — mortal danger — we put out an Amber Alert. We tell the whole community that we are in pursuit of the child and the one who is endangering her. It is a time of utmost urgency and everyone has to get involved. Everyone is expected to be aware, to look out for the child, to do what they can to help rescue the child in danger.
This, my friends, is Amber Alert time for our nation’s children.