Nov 192015

Holiday Hands collage

Here are the faces of 16 of the 600 beautiful families you miracled this week.

Yes, I am turning miracle into a verb. We’ve earned it. LOOK WHAT YOU MIRACLED, FRIENDS!!!!

I’m still in awe. On Tuesday, our incredible community fulfilled the wishes and hopes of almost 600 families in 3 hours (including about one hundred unpublished requests that Together Rising is fulfilling directly). Please understand that for most of those families there were multiple givers. For those who requested letters, many had OVER ONE HUNDRED GIVERS PER ASKER. And those lists are still growing. I am flabbergasted, overwhelmed, filled up, exhausted, and mostly—grateful. Grateful for the courage of the askers and grateful for the character of the givers. Grateful to see such beauty emerge during such a hard time. This community is like a flower pushing through the cracks of solid concrete—determined against all odds to rise toward the light.

Last week, Colleen wrote this to us:

“I help to homeschool a 12 year old boy. He is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. He is a really sweet, kind, talented kid. The problem is is that he doesn’t have a lot of friends to connect with. Kids think he’s a little different (aren’t we all!) and he doesn’t have a lot of social interaction in the way of kids his own age. … I believe in this community and I think they would love to write to my pal!”

Over 100 people signed up to write to him. Here are some of the first responses:

Letter responses

Ally wrote us this:

“I would be incredibly grateful for a simple, tasty Christmas meal for myself, my husband, and our three kids. We are not picky, anything will do. This is not a necessity, just a wish, but I would love to be able to surprise my kids by having a Christmas tree to put their gifts under this year. We were fortunate enough to get some free books and puzzles for their Christmas gifts, so they are all set, but our small “Charlie Brown” tree reached the end of it’s life a couple of Christmases ago, and we haven’t been able to get a new one yet.”

This is how you responded:


Sara wrote us this:

“I grew up in an abusive household, and I don’t have very many happy memories of my childhood. My husband and I are hoping that a special Christmas dinner will become a loving and comforting memory for our children to carry throughout their lives and will help strengthen the joy-filled bond we have with our kids.”

This is how you responded:


A precious mama wrote us this:

“My son is a freshman and would love an Under Armour sweatshirt… I have always worked and never have not had a job until my work shut down. I have been putting in 20 resumes a week and haven’t been able to find anything. I honestly don’t know how I will make Christmas work this year.”

This is how you responded:

Response 2

Shay wrote to us with this:

“My friend is a sweet soul who LOVES people. She has a job as a bagger at Publix and is extremely grateful for it. She would really benefit from some good winter shoes and clothes and a few more undergarments.”

This is how you responded:

Response 3

And those are just FIVE of the listings, you guys. FIVE. Out of hundreds and hundreds.

I just looked at the responses to the 12 people who wrote in asking simply for love notes from us. People like Jennifer, who asked us to send letters of encouragement to young people living in a residential home. I tried to count the number of responses to each of these listings and had to stop after the first two, because more than a hundred of us signed up for each one and counting is hard. After that I just scrolled and scrolled, with heart overflowing.

The truth is that on Tuesday, Love Won. We were so, so beautiful. We even fully equipped a space that a family is setting up to host a Syrian refugee family. We did that together.

I know that everything is scary right now, you guys. I feel scared, too. I just keep reminding myself that the two most often repeated phrases in my holy text are DO NOT BE AFRAID and REMEMBER.

Our human family is dismembered—like a scattered puzzle. We must re-member. We must rise above our fear and come together. Even when we are afraid.

We all have fear. But fear does not have to be where we set up camp and live. We can allow fear to become but a flicker. We can feel it, and then rise above it again and again. There is a place above our fear we can keep returning to again and again and that place is love.

“If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve.” – Dickinson

Fear is real but it is not the boss of us. Love is the boss of us.

 Friends, instead of watching another news report tonight—read these listings and their comments with your family.

You’ve got two wolves fighting inside of you—Love and Fear. The one you feed is the one who will win. Tweet: You've got two wolves fighting inside of you—Love & Fear. The one you feed is the one who will win. @momastery 

Thank you for surrendering to love instead of fear. Thank you for offering the world something beautiful to look at. Thank you for doing life with me and with each other.

And thank you to the Together Rising board and stewardship team (Amy, Sister, Liz, Allison, Katherine, Nicol, Natalie, Karen, Tamara, Christine, Ashley and Erin) who have volunteered hundreds of hours this month to make these miracles possible today. You women are my sheroes.

IF YOU MISSED THE CHANCE TO GIVE: Please consider donating to Together Rising so that we can say YES to more of the beautiful families who contact us everyday. We meet the critical needs of families throughout the entire year — and needs are especially dire during the holiday season. Your financial gifts make this vital support possible. Your TR team volunteers their time so that every tax-deductible penny you give goes directly to a family in need.  If you need support for your family, instead of requesting help in a comment on this post or on social media, please make your request directly to Together Rising through this form.

Also, if you posted a listing and multiple people wrote back wanting to sponsor your request before it was marked as TAKEN, please write back to everyone who posted. We are a community of eager givers, and it is fine for you to accept help from multiple people as long as all the listers know what you are receiving and you do not request anything beyond what was in your listing.

And if you have a story to share with us about your Holiday Hands experience, or feedback to give us to help us improve the program, please send that to us via the form you’ll find on this page.


Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Nov 182015

Let's Stay Focused.

After the shooting at UCC – the 160th school shooting since Sandy Hook—I posted a prayer.

The general response was: Screw that. Prayers and condolences aren’t enough anymore.

And I thought: Yep. They’re right. They’re exactly right. Whatever it is we are doing or not doing is not enough. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Our collective (lack of) response to these shooting is insane.

Later that afternoon I took a walk and tried to make sense of it all. I just felt so angry and afraid and powerless and hopeless. I thought about what we know:

Americans are 1,400 times more likely to be killed by another American with a gun than by a terrorist attack.

Americans are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun in America than in other developed countries.

In America, even people on the terror watch list are permitted to buy guns. (The leadership of the NRA opposes closing this loophole known as the “terror gap.”)

92% of Americans, 82% of gun owners and 74% of NRA members support gun reform.

With those numbers—how is it possible that gun reform is not a done deal? Because the leadership of the NRA and the gun lobby use two strategies to halt sensible reform.

Money and Intimidation.

The gun lobby gives money to politicians’ campaigns in order to curry their favor once they’re in office. In fact, the NRA’s annual budget is $350 million dollars. By preying on the fears of some gun owners who believed their guns would be confiscated after Sandy Hook, the NRA was able to increase their annual budget by $100 million in 2013.

And we’ve seen gun extremists terrorize Americans – particularly women— who dare to speak out against gun violence. The last time I posted about gun reform I was publicly threatened with murder and rape. I emailed Sister and said: Well, if the misogynists are threatened to kill me, I must be doing something right.

Money and intimidation – of lawmakers and Americans alike — is why 92% of Americans are not getting what they want: Gun reform. Bribery and threats are just not how America — or any democracy — is supposed to function.

So there on that walk — I decided that gun reform would become another mountain I’m willing to die on in 2016. I decided to become an activist, not just a write-ivist. I decided that next year — when my seven-year-old daughter comes home and tells me that she had another shooter drill – that she and her second-grade classmates “had to hide in a closet and be very, very quiet in case someone was coming to shoot us,” – I’ll be able to look her in the eye and say, “That’s terrible, honey. And you don’t deserve to be afraid like that. You deserve to feel safe is school.  And mommy is working hard to make that so.”

I want my kids to know that while their peers were being shot — I wasn’t just bitching and I wasn’t just praying. I was working, too. Because all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for pissed off Americans to do nothing. Tweet: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for pissed off Americans to do nothing. @momastery

My challenge was that I had no idea to what group to devote my voice and sweat and love and fury. As I walked — my mind went to Ireland, where my family is from. I thought about The Troubles. The Troubles was an unrest about land and power and religion that got so violent that the Irish people became prisoners in their own homes. One day, a woman was on the streets of Belfast with her children when gun violence broke out in the street. A car swerved off the road and all three of her children were killed.

A woman named Betty Williams witnessed the children die. A mother herself, she was so horrified, so angry, so tired of being horrified and angry that she went home and started writing up a peace petition and taking it door to door for signatures. Along the way — she told people about a peace march she was planning. A week later 10,000 people showed up at that march — both Protestants and Catholics linked arms to say: no more.

A woman named Mairead Corrigan, the aunt of the children who were killed, was sitting in her house grieving the loss of her nieces and nephews when these 10,000 marched by her home. As she watched all of those people who were brave and bold enough to show up — she felt hope stir inside her for the first time. She contacted Betty the next day and said: “those children were my family — I’m joining you.”

Betty and Mairead — two mothers — began the peace movement that ended the Troubles in Ireland. They did this by bringing good people out of their homes and into the streets so they could find courage and solidarity with each other. They did this by saying proudly and publicly ENOUGH. They did this by bringing peace-loving Protestants and Catholics together and convincing them to put their differences aside for the sake of their children’s safety. They forged peace by creating space for people to come out of their home and join together their voices. They eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work together.

And I thought: if, in the very middle of the troubles, these mothers brought together the Protestants and Catholics for the sake of the Irish children – don’t tell me we can’t bring together to responsible gun owners and non-gun owners for the sake of American children.

That’s when it hit me: THE MOTHERS. I need to find the Mothers. The mothers are the ones who care enough to forge change. I need to find the Bettys and the Maireids.

So I called Amy and my sister — and said: The Mothers. It’s gotta be the mothers. Find them for me.

Thirty minutes later Amy called back and said: I found them. This group — Moms Demand Action. They’re amazing. Let’s join them.

Listen — If it was up to me, we’d all be beating all the guns into plowshares, I’m sure you gather that. But I don’t represent me. I represent US. This community, many of whom are responsible gun owners. Moms Demand Action and it’s parent organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, support the 2nd amendment. Neither they nor I want to take guns from responsible gun owners. We do want reform. Namely- we want:

To close the loopholes that allow dangerous people to buy guns without background checks

To enact laws that will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers

To enact stronger trafficking laws to give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on criminals

To save lives by educating parents about safe storage and responsible gun ownership

If you are a gun owner who believes in sensible gun reform, join us. If you (like Craig and me) are not  gun owners and you believe in sensible gun reform, join us. If you do not believe in sensible gun reform — I’ll see you on the other side of the march.

IF YOU FEEL MOVED TO DO SOMETHING- start by joining the Everytown/Moms Demands Action call tomorrow night, Thursday, November 19, at 8 PM ET. I’ll be hosting the call along with Shannon — warrior founder of Moms Demand Action. This call is not about politics — it’s about keeping our kids safe in other people’s homes (and ours) over the holiday season.

Craig and I have a deal: every time my kids are going to a friend’s house — we will call and ask the parents if they have guns in the home. I am embarrassed to tell you that I usually chicken out. I hate that about myself. I hate that I put my fear of awkwardness above my children’s lives. I’m going to fix that. On tonight’s call role we’re going to play how to talk to family and friends about the issue of safe guns in home and we will also go over what responsible gun storage looks like.

I really, truly believe that tonight’s call will save lives. That’s why I’m doing it. RSVP here.

Let us begin.

Dear Gun Lobby:

We are not afraid, we were born to do this.


PS. My precious readers — today you will see plenty of threats and scary comments from people outside of our community. Do not be afraid. It’s all expected and we have a plan. Don’t worry for me, my loves. I’m ready.


I’d like to end from Betty’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

“A deep sense of frustration at the mindless stupidity of the continuing violence was already evident before the tragic events of that sunny afternoon of August 10, 1976. But the deaths of those young people in one terrible moment of violence caused that frustration to explode, and create the possibility of a real peace movement…As far as we are concerned, every single death in the last eight years, and every death in every war that was ever fought represents life needlessly wasted, a mother’s labor spurned.”

Amen. Don’t just pray, WORK.

Join us.

Love and Grace and Moms FTW.


For the facts presented in this essay, along with more information, visit these links:

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

Nov 172015



This is the day when people all over the world log on to their computers (energy portals) and release senseless, lavish, radical love into the world by meeting the holiday needs of total strangers.

This is the day that we change people’s lives. Today we will reach out and offer love, support and hope to 569 families who have written in with Holiday Hands requests. This is a miracle in itself. But it gets better. Somewhere during this process we’ll realize that the family being changed by this offering of love is our own family. Because when we act out what we want to believe—when we not only SAY LOVE WINS but we DO LOVE WINS . . . when we not only BELIEVE THAT WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER but WE MAKE THAT SO . . . WE BECOME THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.

This is the day that we stop wishing for a kinder, better, more magical world and start creating one. The way we do that is to tap a stranger on the shoulder and say – Hey, friendI’d rather my kids get three holiday gifts and your kids get three holiday gifts, than my kids get six gifts and your kids get no gifts. We let our families watch us do this. We show our children the families we’re helping. 

And then we can show our family — not just tell them— what love is. We can show them what grace is. Grace is undeserved love. And so sometimes the best way to PUT GRACE INTO MOTION, TO MAKE IT COME TO LIFE, is to love strangers. Strangers who haven’t earned our love and never will.

Because that quote we all love is TRUE:  “Character is how you treat those who can never repay you.”

Participate today in Holiday Hands — make the leap from HOPING
grace is true to MAKING it true.
Tweet: Participate today in Holiday Hands!! Make the leap from HOPING grace is true to MAKING it true. @momastery

BE THE CHANGE you want to see in the world. And then show your family WHAT you did and WHY. Tell them all about grace, and how it interrupts the normal order of things and then makes everything beautiful.

We know that everyone — our givers, our listers, and our miracle watchers — are eager to get started with the Holiday Hands matches. Before you begin, please, please read all of the information below.

Directions for Givers:

To see available listings:

  1. Go to the Holiday Hands section of the Together Rising website.
  2. Click on the box marked “Available” and a list of available listings will be displayed.
  3. Once you have found an available listing that you would like to sponsor, please scroll down to the bottom of the page to the comment section to find out if the need has already been met.  We will be moving listings from the Available to the Taken category once the needs have been met, but there may be some lag time between when we can make the updates. If the comments on the listing indicate that the need has already been met, please try to partner with another lister.

To respond to a listing:

  1. First, add a comment at the bottom of the listing stating which of the requested needs you would like to meet. For example, please indicate whether you are going to satisfy all the needs listed (up to $100), or whether you are going to fund a portion of request (for example, “I can provide the train your youngest wants” or “I can provide $30 toward your needs”).
  2. Click on the Contact link at the top of the listing to send an email directly to the author of the listing.  Let her know which portion of the listing you would like to meet and ask her to respond to you with the address where you should send your gift.  Please also ask her to write a comment on her listing acknowledging that the two of you have communicated and confirm what you will be sending.  Here is an example listing with example comments that show how this conversation might play out:
  3. Once you see your gift publicly acknowledged in the comments section of the listing, go ahead and send your gift. Please do NOT send your gift until you the author of the listing has posted your name in a comment on the listing — this will help prevent duplicate gifts if multiple givers comment on a listing. Please try to send your presents within a few days of your communication—the listers will be eagerly awaiting your response!
  4. Please alert us immediately if there are any issues – e.g., if the lister requests something via email that wasn’t originally on the posting or if the communications with the lister are not reflective of the warm and loving community we have here. You can email us at [email protected]. Your Board and our amazing team of volunteers vigorously pursue any fraudulent or misleading posters who target our community’s generosity, but we need your participation and assistance.

Directions For Listers:

  1. Listers, after you submitted your listing, you should have received an automatic message letting you know that the listing had been received and was awaiting approval. This message contains a direct link to your listing, which is the easiest way for you to access your listing online. If you do not see this email, it may be in your spam or junk email folder.
  2. If your listing has been approved for Holiday Hands, you should have received another automatic message letting you know that your listing has been enabled, with another direct web link to the listing.
  3. Givers are being asked to respond to you in two ways—publicly in the comments section underneath your individual listing and privately, through email.  Please respond to them both publicly in the comments section to acknowledge their name/gift, and privately via email.  To see an example of how this might look in the comments section, click here.
  4. Please be prompt with your responses so that we can know when needs are filled as soon as possible. Givers are being instructed not to send their gifts until they see their names listed in the comments section of your listing, so do not forget this important step.  
  5. When a giver or givers have indicated their willingness to support your request, a Together Rising volunteer will write the word TAKEN in on your listing and move it to the Taken category.

  A few final words for our Beloved Holiday Hands Participants:

  1. Please read and reread and rerereead the instructions before posting questions.
  1. We have added a cap of $100 on requests in order to serve more families.  We are asking our givers and receivers to honor this part of the program. If a requester has already received items or contributions totaling $100, please find a request that has not been fulfilled. It’s more important that everyone get something than someone get everything.
  1. We approved as many listings as we possibly could. In fact, Together Rising is meeting the needs of 79 families in addition to the ones you see listed by sending $100 gift cards to use toward groceries and basic needs. Some other listings were flagged by our system for a variety of reasons and need a bit more vetting. If you submitted a listing and received an initial confirmation message (but have not received another message letting you know that your listing has been enabled or that you will be receiving a gift card), please click here to give us a bit more information so we can look at your listing again. We carefully filter all listings for the safety of our community, and the additional information you provide will help us in this process.
  1. If you submitted a listing but have not received an initial confirmation email or any email follow-up, please send us a message so that we can look into this for you. Our email address is [email protected], and if you write to us directly we will look into your listing for you.
  1. While the collection of Holiday Hands listings is over, the requests for help continue. We have not vetted and cannot vouch for requests made on the Facebook page and on the blog, so we are asking that no one attempt to make matches this way outside of the Holiday Hands program. Please honor our commitment to this community by bringing needs to us and by only answering needs through us.
  1. If you are a giver who wants to give to the many people who continue to ask for help, or to give in support of the requests that we have not posted, please consider making a donation to Together Rising. After all the public matching is done the work will continue, as we work in support of so many HER stories. Every day we work to match needs with resources. Every tax-deductible penny you give goes straight to mamas and dads in need.  This is unusual. A miracle, really. Made possible by those two unbeatable teammates:  FAITH & SWEAT.
  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you — to the Givers, Receivers & those Cheering and Praying us on — for proving that Love Wins and We Belong to Each Other. Thank you. 

God Bless Us, Every One.

Click here to get started

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

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