Anyone who has turned on the news lately has probably had a difficult time getting into the holiday sprit.
From the protests across the country demanding justice for victims of violence, to the terrible news about young Hiawayi Robinson, to the shooting death of Auburn's Jakell Mitchell, to the tragic deaths of two New York police officers--the Christmas spirit has been anything but overwhelming.
Through all this news, I've held my children a little tighter and hugged them a little longer. I'm sure you have, too.
I feel blessed beyond measure to have two beautiful children, but there are parents who will celebrate this holiday without their babies.
There has been a lot of finger pointing and quickness to blame on both sides: blaming guns, blaming police, blaming criminals, blaming culture.
But this isn't about any of those things: it's about respect for ourselves and one another.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. He sent Him to teach us to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
When we turn to violence, we turn away from this purpose on Earth. We undermine the Christmas message because we undermine the very teachings for which the entire Christmas story is the foundation.
Whether this violence is "street justice" to settle a dispute, unspeakable actions towards a child, an aggressive attitude towards neighbors or a quickness to judge negative intentions, it's time to end the violence.
Too many mothers will spend Christmas without their babies this year because of senseless violence. Too many wives will tuck their children in on Christmas Eve without their husbands by their sides. Too many children will wake up on Christmas morning without their mothers.
This must stop.
We must demand better for ourselves and our families, and it starts with each of us.
We have to take responsibility for the world in which we want to live. If you want a world with less prejudice, lay down your preconceived notions. If you want a world with less violence, lay down your weapons. If you want a world with more joy, lay down your bitterness.
It's time to turn the tides and end the violence in our communities and across our nation.
For God so loved the world that he gave us all a precious gift. The best gift we can ever give in return is to follow His commandments and show love to one another this holiday season.
I'm confident we can do better, and I'm looking forward to a change in 2015. Merry Christmas, everyone!