Monday, June 4, 2018

Bring Jesus

The principal of the law of attraction simply stated is that which we focus on expands. When we focus on the broken, the broken is what we see. When we look for Jesus, He meets us there.


On May 25th, 2018 I was working at my elementary school when I got the call to go on lock down. There was a situation at one of our middle schools. Seconds later, I heard the words active shooter at Noblesville West Middle, where two of my children attend. My breathe was instantly sucked from my lungs and things seemed to be moving slowly around me while by body was separate from the commotion and  my mind was a fury of activity.


Quiet tears fell instantly. My first thought: things will never be the same. I could write forever about the happenings of that day but as a staff member working the reunification with parents, I was able to make it to my children fairly quickly and comfort them. As quickly as the tears of relief started to flow, the realization that there were other loved ones getting different news brought me to my knees. The high school filled with middle school students that had just ran from an active shooter situation in their school would then go on a code red lock down as well. I would spend the next (estimate cause I have no concept of time for this day)hour and a half in a locker room with about 250 kids and 12 staff members. Two of my own locked in with me. My older son hiding on a bus after fleeing the school and my oldest daughter barricaded in a room. 4 of my children and myself in this place.


This can't be happening running through my mind, tears stinging the backs of my eyes while I fight to keep a calm demeanor for the students.Word finally comes that the threat is over. Hours later I would reunite with all 5 of my children and break down sobbing in the car once out of other student's views. The shooter a classmate of my daughter's. She watched him walk in to class next door and when she heard the shots ring out. Her first thoughts were concern for him in the hallway alone. She couldn't wrap her brain around that this nightmare would be at his hands. Her friend and teammate, Ella, shot 7 times. Mr. Seaman shot 3 as he tackled the student to the ground. We don't know what to do with so much pain so we just keep doing the next right thing. We talk. We pray. We laugh. We feel normal for a minute and then we are blindsided by the anger, the grief, the worry. We work fundraisers for Ella. We sign cards. We have so many questions. So many questions.

In the days since, I have continually heard the position that because prayer was taken from our schools, because God was taken out of our schools this happened. This is what I need you to know. I work in our schools. He is there. Everywhere I go, I take Him. Some days I do this better than others but He is with me all the same. I see Him daily in the students and in our staff. If God is not in our schools, it is because we don't bring Him with us. If he isn't at your job? Bring Him! We cannot legislate Jesus. He doesn't need our permissions. He's bigger than that. If we continue to lecture about the brokenness of the world and the lack of Jesus, what message does that send our children? Here is what I want my children and yours to know.

1.)We serve a living, breathing God. He is in us. He goes where we go. He was there on May 25th and He is with us now. He will be with us tomorrow. The ugliness of the world doesn't change that. Bad things will surely happen but His promise is that we will not be alone in it. Jesus was with Ella in her classroom as much as He was with the children who escaped from it. One isn't more blessed than the next. God didn't allow this happen to because we have turned from Him. One child made a horrific choice. Thousands of other people chose love. Be empowered, sweet strong children. God is all around us and in us and nothing and no one can do anything to take that truth away from us. Not a legislature or even a classmate wielding a gun.

2.)We are His plan. We are the helpers. We represent Jesus on the daily in the way we live our lives. We are how others come to know who He is. His love, poured out on others. People will either see Him because of us or they won't. If we want Jesus in our schools, we bring Him. If you don't see Jesus in your friendships, in your classroom, in your school...bring Him. We love big and we love wide. We accept and encourage and advocate for others. The teacher comforting you with their steady voice and pat on the shoulder...Jesus. The classmate squeezing your hand...Jesus.  The police officer running in to protect you...Jesus. The volunteer passing out water as we finally exited the building...Jesus. The counselor offering to listen, yes, her too. Family picking up pizzas to bring for dinner, all Him. The strength carrying the Principals and Superintendent through the day. Jesus was all over our town that day. He is in the response from our community since. He is wherever you are. Alone. Surrounded with people. Scared or at peace. He is there. Our emotions may change, our situation may change, our feelings may change but God is the same always. He is bigger than we can imagine. He is in us and in our neighbors.

3.) He will walk with us in healing. Every. Step. Of the way. He will walk with Ella. In her physical scars and the ones not seen by the eye. He will comfort and be an encouragement for her family. He will walk with Mr. Seaman and his family. He will walk with our administrators and our community as we look for ways to unite in our love for our children and real work so this never happens again. He will be there in the night when you hear the sounds play over again in your head, when you remember running wondering if your sibling is one of the injured. With the parents when they hear a siren. With you in your fear, your insecurities, your faith filled carefree days. He abides in our hearts, resides in our hearts and will heal our hearts.

I am so sorry you were so frightened and had to endure this. I am so sorry Ella and Mr. Seaman were hurt. I am so sorry this child made this choice and forced this trauma upon us. I am so sorry I don't have all the answers. There are many things I don't understand but the one thing I know is that God was all around us that day and He will continue to be. Let's commit to take Him with us wherever we go. Let's love big and wide so that everyone can see.



Praying for Noblesville

Gracious, Loving God, there is a city of anxious parents and children going to sleep tonight. There are secretaries, teachers, bus drivers, administrators, maintenance technicians, nurses, resource officers, cafeteria and recess workers that may be concerned themselves but will be showing up to encourage their students



God, where there is anxiousness bring peace tonight. Where there is fear, bring courage. Where there is darkness, Lord, we ask that you bring light. Let us step in to our schools tomorrow with love, patience, and understanding. Let us encourage one another and hold one another up. Let us show our children that we will go through hard times in the world but we won't have to go alone. That you are with us. That our families, our friends, our community...that together we can do hard things. Give us the strength to do it afraid. Father, God, I ask that you help us give one another the space we need to heal. That we would know it may look very differently from one child to the next, one parent to the next, one teacher to the next and that we would be a community that would offer grace for the grieving. Be with the staff of  Noblesville schools. Quiet their concerns and give them the strength they need to be who their students need them to be. They are all heroes. Be with our children. Let them be bold in the way they love one another. Accept one another. Walk with our students through those halls and tomorrow God, more than any other day before, let them feel your presence with them...in the smile of the bus driver picking them up...in the high five of the teacher working the drop off line...in the hug from the school counselor...in the calming voice of their teacher...in the thumbs up from the secretary and the pat on the shoulder from the principal. Let them see you in the grown ups throughout their day. Let them see you in their classmates laughter. Let them see signs of healing. Let them see their own strength in your name. And tomorrow, may we unite as Millers and prove love wins when love shows up. Let us love big. 

In your mighty name. Amen.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A response to Jimmy Fallon

Dear Jimmy, this is what you can say to your kids.



What is happening in Charlottesville isn't acceptable to our family. It hurts Mom and Dad's heart. We can't imagine how it hurts the heart of our brown skinned, Jewish, immigrant friends. Our family values the lives of all people. All people are our people. We don't care if someone is black or white or brown. We don't care if someone speaks another language. We don't care if they were born in the United States or any other country on Earth. We don't care if they love Jesus or Allah or Buddha. We are all God's children. He made us all unique and beautiful and the differences that scare others, our family chooses to celebrate. Our family values diversity and thinks it makes the world more beautiful and interesting. We choose as a family to stand up for the rights of others. It is who we are. We choose to do what is right even when we are afraid what others may think or say if we do. It important that our neighbors of different races, faiths and nationalities know we stand with them. In situations like this, when there are a group of people spewing such ugliness and hatred it is so important that we, as a family, are brave enough to love loud.



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charlottesville

There are white supremacists marching with Nazi flags and Hilter quotes emblazoned on t-shirts with out a single ounce of shame. They are marching against me, my family, my husband, our life. They march in hate. They march empowered by the hateful rhetoric that has become a part of our daily existence. They march with pride.

I didn't even know it was happening. I was flipping pancakes for my family, listening to my daughter play her drum while her sister danced freely to the African beats. I was wrapped up in the beauty of their silhouettes while the sun shown behind them through the window of the family room when my friend text and asked if I'd seen the hatred. The irony is not lost on me. Ba dum dum dum in my ears. Arms rhythmically swinging. Hair wildly flipping. Joyful smile on her lips.

Hated.

We are hated.

Tears sting my eyes and the taste of bile fills my throat. My chest tightens and a pain deep in the pit of my stomach emerges like the sin of several hundred years.

We are hated. They are hated.

My immigrant husband. My brown skinned babies. Me for believing it doesn't matter.

I sneak away to catch up on the story. I will not let them see this. I will not let them internalize this. It is important for them to know. We will talk about it later but I don't want the images of torch bearing hatred to lurk in their dreams.

There are people standing and singing and praying. There are people surrounding the hate with love and inclusion and acceptance. There are people loving big in extraordinary circumstances, standing in bravery and solidarity and unity....standing in Jesus' name.

Loved.

We are loved.

My immigrant husband, My brown skinned babies. Me for believing it doesn't matter.

With the might of a thousand oaks I wish it were the end of the story. With a prayer of complete surrender and expectation I pray that love is louder...

Tomorrow is another day and the only way for love to win is if it is bigger...if it heeds God's call to step up and speak out and be brave...if love is bigger and louder but y'all are too quiet today.

Let's get loud. Let's love loud.




In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends. ~MLK 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mother's Day

In 2009 Mother’s Day changed for me. It’s a behemoth of emotions. A beast of thanksgiving, appreciation, guilt and grief.

Thanksgiving because I am a mother. A mother to five unique, thriving, challenging, life-loving children that make me better. For that, I give thanks.

Appreciation for the mother I was givenAn overwhelming realization that I had it so very good. The best of the best gave me my start. For my grandmother and her mother and the legacy passed on through their hearts and hands. For the mother that raised my husband in to a man. I am indebted.

Guilt because I had no choice in it. Chance…fate…call it what you will, but nothing I did or didn’t do gave me the privilege I was born in to. The country, the color of my skin, the education, the family of faith and hard workers…a family of love. Chance.  A sour taste in my mouth that I can give them the life she couldn’t. A confusing mix of questions that wonders why me.  A realization that there is no answer that comes but the responsibility that does. A guilt unnecessary and uncalled for but felt just the same.

Grief. Unhinged, uncontainable grief for a birth mom. A longing for a young mother that the system and this world completely failed. Her family failed her. The Church failed her. A young mom I met on a park bench  that desired to keep her children safe and give them the opportunity for a different, healthy life. A young mom that knew she wasn’t capable of supplying that. A mom that chose life for her children but was unable to trust us after years of getting love and being used confused. My heart fractures  a thousand times over remembering that day . A mourning for what could have been and a life untouched by real agony.  An anguish I see my children struggle with in different ways at different stages. A loss so real and raw and unimaginable that I can never fully heal for them. An unnatural loss. A rip the flesh from your chest and leave a gaping pain type of loss. A hole that seems to heal and close over and with a sound or smell or a moment of happiness can erupt open to expose the wound deep inside.

Mother’s Day. A brutally beautiful day filled with the inexplicable emotions of a life fully lived. A life of big love and big loss and appreciation and grief and redemption. A day of remembering, celebrating, grieving, and praising. A day that has forever changed for me. A day for life moms and mom’s for life. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Some love.


19 years ago 2 kids planned for their marriage instead of their wedding day. They were smart and kind and focused on a life together with Jesus.

And it was good and it was hard.

Job changes, sick parents, children, adoption and more of other people’s children…Resources stretched thin and budgets thinner. Shift work, and sports schedules, surgeries and health scares, dance recitals and tutoring. The business of life competed for their attention. Parenting styles, spender and saver, impulsive and planner, logical thinker and heart responder, open communicator and a blank stare. Freakishly disciplined and bored with routine. Conservative right and progressive moderate. One that’s right and one that isn’t:) Marriage is not for the weak. I don’t know if God puts us with the one that will challenge our weaknesses or he just has a warped sense of humor. We have spent years laughing together and other years clinging to one another when we wanted to run. Marriage has been my greatest blessing and biggest challenge. There have been days I’ve not been able to picture my life without him and days I’ve wondered how we ever made it past the first date. Ours isn’t the fairy tale you often read about. You won’t be seeing us frolicking through the open field on the big screen anytime soon. Ours isn’t the love they write about. Ours is the love they should.

I think we unfairly show a love that few have. A love it’s easy to feel jealous of, truth be told. A love I think people spend a lifetime searching for instead of investing in the one they have. I think some loves start like an intense love and infatuation and when it starts to require work we have been taught in error that love shouldn’t be that hard. Love is hard. Some love requires work. Some love requires sacrifice and compromise. Some love looks different from year to year but is love just the same. Some love goes to counseling and cries late in to the night trying to get back on track. Some love says I blew it again but will keep on trying. Some love grasps hands at the end of the day and asks God to help you make it through another. Some love asks for forgiveness a hundred times over. Some love needs a daily reminder not to keep score. Some love works hard to focus on the good when it’s standing in the middle of stink. Some love isn’t perfect, made for the big screen, flower filled, romantic gesture, warm fuzzy, never disagree, filled with quality time together goodness. Some love just keeps fighting through the stink when the water gets murky. Some love keeps breaking through the mask of the life worn person they see to get to the heart of who they know. Some love knows that this season may be difficult but there is a new season waiting if we just choose to love through this one. Some love is a process. A journey. Some love hasn’t made it to its’ final destination but chooses to stay on the path.  


Learn to appreciate that some love. Learn that if your marriage doesn’t look like the movies this week that if you hang on long enough you’ll find your own amazing love story. Know your love is worthy. Know that at year 25, the stink of year 9 and 10 won’t matter. Know that love is more than passion and fireworks, flowers and fanfare. Some love hunkers down and does the work. Some love says you stunk today but I’m gonna be here tomorrow. Some love wants to flip the other in the forehead one day and kiss it the next. 


19 years ago after dating for 5 years, we stood and we didn’t say I do. We said, I will. I always will. The beauty of our story, of our love, is better than any of the tough stuff. When I look back and see the family we have built, the life we have lived…there is not a single other person I would rather do this with. No one else would have gone for this crazy. When I look back I see a love that is real and deep and lasting. I see a love that reflects God’s presence in our life. Not a love of perfection, not a love free of struggle but a love full of grace and goodness. A love full of redemption and sacrifice. A love of persistence and joy and forgiveness and beauty. A love I am proud of. A love I’d choose a thousand times over. A love I look at and say, now that, that is some love. Some love. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Miss Independent



“I can do it on my own, mom.” From the time she could talk she’s been saying this to me. “By myself,” she would demand. I’ve heard this phrase or some variation of it hundreds of times before but this week, a week before she turns 17, it made my throat tighten and tears sting the corner of my eyes. It was an unexpected reaction.
She began walking when she was 9 months old. She could literally tell me in full sentence that she wanted Blue’s Clues for her first birthday party. She was so independent and freakishly ahead of her time that when her poor brother came along I thought for certain there was something significantly wrong with this chubby boy that just spit up and smiled all day. He wouldn’t speak for 2 ½ years. He didn’t need to. Grace had it under control.
She was the first for my husband and I after losing 3 babies before and the first grandbaby, friend’s baby, niece, first baby on the block, first baby at work, etc. She had more love and affection than any child could ever need. The minute she started walking she didn’t have time for my lap. She had things to do and cuddles were reserved for when she was sleeping or not feeling well. Anything new we discovered she would tell me in a matter of minutes she didn’t need my help. “I do it, momma.” “Grace do it.” “I’m baby Genus.” Yes, you read that right. We had to tell her aunties to quit calling her a genius because she was starting to tell others she was one.
I sat in bed that night after asking if she needed any help with her project for school, and wondered why her answer, “I can do it on my own,” stirred up such a reaction in me.  I want her to need me. I like her needing me. That’s the hard truth. Being her momma has been my greatest purpose for the better part of two decades. In just a few short days she turns 17 and the truth is she can do it on her own. She is a fully capable young lady with her own set of gifts and talents and truths. She is confident and calm. My soon to be 17 year old self didn’t look anything like hers.  I’m not saying she still doesn’t need guidance or that my job here is done but this young lady is ready. It was the same feeling I got a few weeks back when I saw her sing karaoke on Broadway in Nashville and it was this glimpse at who she is becoming that took my breath away. I couldn’t give the feeling words then. She amazes me. She is smart and funny. She has legs like her daddy and the same calm approach to life. She has our family love for all things music and her momma's passion for justice. If she weren't my kid, I'd like her. She's good people. I love being her mom. I love being with her. 
It’s a crazy thing that God asks us to do. Parent this little gift and raise them to not need us. Pour your entire heart and soul in to this little life that will need you every single second of theirs until one day they won’t. And then you have to let them go. Let them do it on their own. Make their own choices, their own mistakes, their own path. Like the toddler that walks around holding on to your fingertips with careful little steps and one day just lets go and keeps right on walking. All. By. Themselves. Sometimes lately it feels like too much to ask of this momma’s heart.  I want to wrap myself around her leg like she used to do to her daddy when she didn’t want him to leave.
A hundred lessons I still need to teach and even more I feel like I didn’t get right the first time flood my mind and the tears fall in the darkness of my room while I hear her softly singing in hers. She is the best thing I’ve ever done. While she doesn’t have it all figured out or the answers for what is to come in the next year and a half, I have total confidence she will do what’s right for her. I fully believe she will find her own path and make it look easy.
Then it comes to me as the sweet sound of her voice fills the night, she needs to know one more thing before this last full year in our home.  This self-sufficient, strong young lady absolutely has the ability to stand on her own but I need her to know more than anything else in this world, she doesn’t have to.  I absolutely need her to know she can do things on her own. She is independent, capable and strong. The thing is, and maybe more importantly, she also needs to know is that real strength comes in knowing you CAN do it alone but being thankful you don’t have too. God designed us to do life with others. Together. And that’s the beauty of it. So although I know she doesn’t need me, and is completely capable, she has a family and community of support here for her.

So my beautiful 17 year old daughter, you are loved more than you can possibly know. Don’t get anxious about choices for the future. You will make the right ones for you. It doesn’t matter what your friends do or what you think others think you should do. Be who God designed you to be.  Sure, stand on your own, you’ve been doing it since you were 9 months old but you have an army of friends and family here to stand with you. Not because you can’t alone, but because you don’t have to. The living of life happens with the people of this life.  And your people love you.