I was angry yesterday.  I woke up to the news of the 5 Dallas police officers killed and the 6 others wounded, and I was stunned. Anger ruled me for a good hour as I wept in my hotel bed and through my shower. I had to shield my children’s eyes from the newscast when they began to show the chaos from the night before. JP screamed, “DA DA!!!!” when he saw the flashing blue lights. No one was speaking during continental breakfast, and I noticed the black woman leaning over her eggs and bagel as she seemed terrified to make eye contact with anyone in the room. I had the urge to go hug her, but I didn’t want to draw attention to someone who really looked like she would rather disappear. Luckily, I had a seven hour drive ahead of me, and I was able to tune out the news and think. I thought about how easily this could be my husband or his best friends. No amount of training or confidence could have saved those officers. It was an ambush, plain and simple. I thought about how easily my children could be without a father, and how

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I am absolutely horrified by the reaction of the internet to the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub on Saturday night. When I woke up on Sunday morning (just like Hillary Clinton did, what a shocker) to see the news of this tragedy, my only thoughts were of how horrible this was.  Yet another shooting in our homeland.  Americans were killed.  They were gay?  Oh gosh.  This was obviously a targeted attack.  Why do we all have to hate each other so much? Places my head didn’t go:  How can we make this Obama’s fault?  Or Trump’s fault?  Hillary’s?  CNN?  Islam?  Christianity?  LGBT?  Guns?  Assault rifles? But you – your head went there. And then you went to Facebook.  And Twitter.  And you filled it up with horrible things. Things about how this was due justice to the LGBT community.  Or you tried to make it not about the LGBT community, and only Islamic terrorism.  Or you decided that Christians were obviously to blame since we’ve been so vocal about our bigotry towards the LGBT community.  Or that God has left the country and this is what we’re left with.  Or religion is the downfall of modern society.  Or you

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I know you’ve seen the news story by now of Stanford swimmer, Brock Turner, who raped an unconscious woman laying behind a dumpster after a party. If you’ve heard about that, you’ve also heard about how he’s only receiving 6 months in jail as punishment because the judge felt that a longer sentence would have too serious of an impact on him, as a 19 year old boy. If this doesn’t make you physically sick to your stomach, you probably won’t like the rest of what I’m about to say. Because I am disgusted. Before you read anything else, I suggest that you read the victim’s statement here. It’s powerful, it’s poignant, and she deserves to be heard – for herself and all rape victims. I am not a rape victim. I’ve never been sexually assaulted, save the one guy who decided to try to stick his hand up my dress on Bourbon Street, to which I promptly had him and his friends kicked out of the bar. I don’t pretend to know how rape victims feel or how they live the rest of their lives permanently scarred from an unwelcomed encounter, and the subsequent unwelcomed criticism about their situation. Because

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Today is June 6th. As the Greatest Generation passes away rapidly in front of our eyes, I wonder if we’ll be able to give them their deserved honor to future generations.  I’m not so sure that the ages after me will feel the emotion and the respect that has always been felt on this day, having never sat at the feet of these men and women and listened to their stories. Stories of hard work, determination, and love of country.  Stories of incredible heartbreak, loss of life, and grave sacrifice.  Stories of a simpler time when tragedy brought the world together, instead of dividing it.  Understanding that the sacrifice of one life meant the salvation of so many more.  Knowing that fighting for the rights of freedom from dictatorship and tyranny meant fighting for all people, not just Americans.  Serving your country any way you could – going to war, going to work, buying war bonds, gathering scrap metal. Not only were they the Greatest Generation because they lived through the Great Depression and served through World War II, but they saw so much more.  They returned home to deliver the United States from financial ruin.  They raised children with morals and

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I didn’t set an alarm today. You probably didn’t either. I woke up to the sounds of my children, fixed my weekend size cup of coffee, and at the time I’m usually rolling up to my office, I’m watching Real Housewives in my pajamas while my children are destroying something, I’m sure, in a bedroom in the back. We will head over to my mom’s in a bit for some pool time while Ben grills our dinner. Happy Memorial Day! But I can’t help but feel guilty on a day like today. Especially for calling it “happy.” For so many, today is not a happy day. Today is a day they visit a white cross in a field of white crosses. Or they sit silently at a bar and order an extra drink for an empty seat. Or they attend a service for their fallen brothers. Or they spend the day locked in the torture of their own minds, wondering why they made it home when so many didn’t. Today is not a happy day. So while you gather around your barbecues and American flag beer cans, or boating on the lake, or shopping the appliance sales, or doing yard work, or staying

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I kept running through Mother’s Day themes in my head yesterday, and never settling on just the right one.  I couldn’t put into words the description of how I felt yesterday, but I think I can now. Yesterday was perfect. Brooke Allen decided at the beginning of last week that we were going to have a picnic for our Mother’s Day lunch, and so we planned for that to happen at a nearby park.  My husband, however, surprised me with the picnic table I have been wanting for our backyard, and my mother surprised me with picnic table trimmings like a tablecloth, napkins, and placemats.  So we moved the picnic to the backyard. It was perfect.  I had been wanting that picnic table as a place to enjoy the big backyard that came with our tiny house.  I imagined sitting there over lunches and dinners while our kids played on the swing set and the dogs ran around.  My husband fulfilled my dream of that, and yesterday put it into practice. We gathered over a simple lunch of chicken salad and fruit and watched the kids run and play. I am blown away by my children every single day. I

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It was placed on my heart to tell you this today.  I don’t know who you are, or what you’re going through, but we’ve all been there in some form or fashion.  I hope you find what you’re looking for in these words. It hurts today. I know it does. Someone took a cheese grater to your heart and left you with the shreds. I don’t pretend to know what you’re going through today.  It can be so many different things – a fight with your husband, an issue with a child, work problems, heartache, disappointment, betrayal, a loss, heavy decisions, or just a plain ole bad day.  Each one of us has something different that we attempt to smile through every morning. Some days are better than others.  Some days, you wake up and you think, “Ok, I can do this!”  Your mind is clear, your heart is steady, and you feel ok to laugh.  You see a glimmer of hope and promise that you can cling to for the moment. Some days are worse than others.  Some days, you wake up and wonder just how much more you can take before you absolutely crumble to the floor in a pile

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Dear Brooke Allen, Call me crazy, but I put you in a pageant. I know you pageant haters will say she’s too young, and I’m living out my dreams through my daughter, and it’s only objectifying her. Whatever.  I’m a long time pageant girl, and I simply wanted to expose her to all the awesome experiences I had as a pageant competitor. Knowing that you are extremely unpredictable, I was a bit wary of how this weekend would work out for you.  But I signed you up anyway, just to see how you would do.  It was a charity pageant for Relay for Life, so if I figured the whole thing was a bust and you were that toddler from Toddlers and Tiaras who cried and kicked the whole time, at least the money went to a good cause. Part of the pageant was an optional interview that had no bearing on the total scores for the pageant.  I prepped you as much as I could without you completely refusing to do the interview, and we talked about what kind of questions they would ask.  We got you all dressed in a sweet little outfit and put your hair in pigtails, and

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Hey friends! We are super close to 500 followers on Facebook, which is amazing. Really.  Truly.  Amazing. So I am going to do a giveaway when we get to 500!  WHAT??????? I am going to give away one of these AMAZING Bible study journals from Kristin Schmucker!  (Click on that link to see all of her beautiful Bible Study tools like Journaling Bibles, pens, and devotionals.) It’s a great tool for your personal study, with spaces for you to record what you’re learning from Scripture.  LOVE IT! The rules are simple: Make sure YOU like our Facebook page, if you haven’t already.  The link is over there.  ———–> Share THIS POST from our Facebook page to enter, and encourage YOUR friends to “like” All Things Held Together too! Also, make sure you turn on the notifications on the “liked” button on our Facebook homepage.  That way, you’ll see everything we post in your newsfeed! That’s it!  So easy!  When we reach 500 followers, we’ll do the giveaway! SHARE AWAY!

It’s no secret if you know me in person. I’m addicted to social media. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…I love it all.  Except Twitter.  Twitter is gross. I love it.  I actually get paid to be on social media as part of my real job.  It’s a great employment perk to have “social media manager” in your job description. But I can’t help but notice how people tend to strive for one major thing amidst their photos, their status updates, and their comments… Perfection. It breaks my heart to see women posting yet another selfie, or pinning yet another picture of the perfect house.  A painted image of her perfect family where her children never pee on things and her dogs never chew up legs of the furniture and her husband never comes home an hour later than he said he would.  A happy smiling photo that never lets on how much she struggles with depression or family issues.  An idea that if I can pretend I’m perfect, people will never know I’m not. And then it breaks a little more when the teenage girl comments on the celebrity’s photo, “Goals.”  Because we know nothing about that celebrity in her private life.  We only know what

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