I’m Just One Person . . .

If you’re like me, you might be asking yourself, what can I do?  I’m just one person.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Connecticut, I’ve been burrowed in, connecting with my family and my friends, wrapping presents, baking cookies, driving around the island with Joe looking at the lights and decorations, working on my book and watching old movies, but always with sadness and a kind of sick feeling that won’t go away; the worst of it has been how helpless I’ve felt.

Gabby Giffords broke my heart, that young good woman. The Colorado movie theater was a senseless nightmare; twelve people died, fifty-eight people were wounded by a mentally ill man with an assault weapon.  Now they are burying innocent children and young teachers.

These terrible deaths and all this heartbreak cannot be for nothing, it just has to mean something.

The only thing I know; to write letters.  And now, there seem to be so many of us moms, grandmas, sisters, aunties, daddies, brothers, and best friends, thinking alike; I thought I’d gather together some links to make it easy for you to let your feelings be known in case you feel like I do, like you want to do something.

Here’s the way you can find out who your congressperson is in the House of Representatives. When you get his name, Google him, there will be a contact for him, a phone number or email address you can write to.

This is a Petition to the House of Representatives and the Senate you can sign . . . Right now, at gun shows, where 40% of guns are purchased, no background checks are required.  We, the people, have to take off our shoes in airports, but anyone, including terrorists (and criminals and mentally ill) can legally buy assault weapons in this country.  A sensible woman does not agree with this.

You can sign a White House petition for better mental health care.

Here’s one to Ban Assault Weapons.  Also, Diane Feinstein, Senator from California has a bill ready to go to Ban Assault Weapons and those big clips with hundreds of bullets in them.  She says we should “get weapons of war off the street.” Supporting this woman in her quest is the sensible thing.

Wal-mart, you will be happy to learn, has just pulled the Bushmaster Assault Rifle off its shelves. This is a very good sign. (Wal-mart sells assault weapons? Really?)

Write or call the White House or your Representative to see what we can do to ban violent video games which our Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom has deemed “free speech.”

One of the good guys spoke out yesterday, and made me cry.  I detected a little Superman cape around this guy …. perhaps an “S” on his T-shirt. Proud of him. Proud of the way people are coming together to grieve, to pray, and to find answers.

After today, I am going back to real life and do a new post all about love, fun, happiness, joy, all the little things that make life sweet. I’m going to play happy music and show you what Jack has been doing.  My real job.    I love you, Girlfriends.  Wishing you a wonderful day. xoxo

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817 Responses to I’m Just One Person . . .

  1. Becky says:

    Susan, your posts for the 16th and 18th were perfect. You truly have a gift for saying exactly the right thing. I live only an hour and half southeast of Oklahoma City. The memory of the OKC bombing is still very fresh on my mind. I am a teacher of teachers, and I was in a classroom that day instructing future teachers. I had just received the news, and I raced from my office to tell my university students. Several students jumped from their seats knowing they had loved ones in that building that day. The memories go on and on as it will for those in Conn. Both my daughters are teachers, and three of my five grandchildren are the ages of those little ones at Newtown. This tragedy hits close to home. No matter the weapon we are all in this together, and I believe we have to try to do all we can to stop these senseless murders.
    are all one in our grief and in our love. We must all be one in bringing about peace.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think any of us will ever forget the tragedy at Oklahoma City, how many tears we shed for everything that happened there. I can’t imagine that you ever forget, but you are right, we are all in this together. Thank you Becky.

  2. Scripture tells us in the Book of Proverbs:
    Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it come the issues of life.
    Proverbs: 4: 23
    First let me say I’m not opposed to gun control, but it’s not the gun it’s the heart.
    We have become a world of meism, it’s what I want, and what I can get, and I want it now, and me, and me, and me!!
    Take away the guns and you have knives, you have bombs(remember Oklahoma), you have cars & road rage, you have matches(burning houses down) and it goes on and on and on.
    Why, because the heart is empty and full of hatred, and self serving attitudes.
    We don’t have a servants heart any more. It makes me sick inside to think of those families losing their family members and all what they will have to deal with now. The gentleman who killed them was sick, address the mental and heart issues.
    I’m sixty years old and there is more violence on T.V. today then I have ever seen. If they are not talking about sex then they are killing someone.
    Listen people guard thy heart with diligence for out of it come the issues of life

    • sbranch says:

      Read the comments from our girlfriends, and you will see giving hearts. I am sure there is meism out there, but not as much as there are wonderful people. Did you read in the comments that someone has gone and tied pink ribbons all over that grieving Connecticut town? Beautiful caring things are coming from this. I say what you say, we all must be our own chaperone. The laws now are unrestricted access to all firearms, without ID or background check in 31 states and none required at gun shows. Someone makes lots of money on this . . . and it can’t help. But beauty and decency is everywhere.

      • janet says:

        yes beauty and decency is in Texas! A young off-duty woman police officer in San Antonio was sensible and cornered a man who was shooting people in a crowded movie theatre, shot him and took his gun before he could shoot anyone else. Guns used correctly save lives.

        • sbranch says:

          So true. But eight children a day are dying by guns in this country. It’s a need because the world has changed. American children have a 13 times better chance of dying by guns than in any other country. Are you saying, keep things the way they are? Continue to let criminals buy guns without a background check? I don’t think that would be such a bad thing to ask for.

          • janet says:

            yes, Susan, ID and background check in an attempt to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals is a good idea. I was responding to your quote – “there is nothing wrong in the world that a sensible woman could not handle in an afternoon” – and I’m proud of this brave woman for thinking sensibly and settling this in an afternoon!

          • sbranch says:

            If it was only that easy! 🙂

      • Holly says:

        When I look at this world, I see wonderful acts of kindness and I see horrific acts of evil. Which one needs to be taught? Which one is our natural inclination? When we are children, are we selfish or giving? Do we think of others first or ourselves? As parents, do we spend the majority of time gently correcting/instructing on the right ways to live or can we just skip over that part because our children already know it? We only learn to care about others because someone loves us enough to teach us how.

        Thank you for opening up this dialogue, Susan. We need to talk about the hard things and we should be respectful in doing so.

    • LindaH says:

      Debbie, you said it right–its not the weapon, its the person behind it. Its hard to know what all was wrong with the person who committed these last acts of murder, but it definitely brings forth mental health care discussions, as well as how children are raised. I saw someone on TV talking about the importance of raising children to be compassionate and able to relate to one another. And, yes, there is too much violence glorified on TV and our culture.

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Once again, “assault” rifles are not necessary. Arming the average citizen on the street is not necessary. Why this defense of guns???

      • Jack says:

        It is BOTH, the weapon and the person with the weapon — it is a fact that no one living a regular everyday lifestyle needs an assault weapon that can kill or wound a hundred people in less than one minute. There are people who just SNAP! And when they do —- when they do snap — with access to automatic or semi-automatic weapons, all Hell breaks loose! Our forefathers, survived and did fine, using primitive single-shot weapons; we could easily do the same — live with single-shot guns. The kind where you have to reload a new bullet after every shot! This won’t solve EVERYTHING, but it sure beats what we have now!

    • Sherry Palla says:

      Very well said Debbie! T.V. is horrible and evil!!!!!! Not like when we were kids in the 50’s and 60’s….and yes…there is more corruption in the world than then. But we still trust in the true God! Amen.

    • Diane Harris says:

      This tragedy was so unspeakable that I can’t think about it for more than a moment or two or I go down into a tailspin of darkness and sadness. It took till Monday for it to start to sink in and tears to flow. The people of Newtown will need our prayers covering them for a long time.

      My first knee-jerk reaction to solve these type of senseless shootings was “it’s about the guns”, but it’s about all mentioned in the above posts, i.e. assault weapons, violence in movies, TV, video games; mental health; lack of God everywhere; dysfunctional families leaving children to raise themselves. It is a very complicated and messed up society we live in. Obama has just appointed Biden to figure this out. That should be interesting!

      I can only affect a handful or even one at a time. So I try to be kind, generous, loving and selfless as much as I can when in public and in the home. I try to get people to know God by making church a place of sanctuary that is real, relational and relevant.

      And then I come here to Susan’s blog for respite from this crazy world we actually live in to the dreamlike world of Susan Branch which is in my head and in my heart. I strive to make my little corner of the world just like this image in my head and in this blog.

      I wish all the girlfriends here a Merry Christmas, Happy other Holidays and a safe, blessed New Year!

      Love, Diane Marie

  3. Julie Marie says:

    Dear Susan… I read this post first thing this morning and left a small comment… then I came back and read it all over again… and the comments from all the “girlfriends”… I forgot to say in my comment that I love you too!… and all the “girlfriends”… xoxo Julie Marie

  4. Vicki says:

    AMEN! to all you wrote. I heard a commentator on TV say, wouldn’t it be wonderful if every person did 26 random acts of kindness to honor these victims…..good idea, don’t you think….An added benefit is that you will feel like you are “doing something”. Love to you!

    • pat addison(cave junction,OR) says:

      my dad taught us something when we were little. whenever someone did something for us, we had to pay back the kindness 10 times over and we always passed that little piece of advice to everyone we helped. so for every person you helped they helped 10 more and those people helped 10 more and so on. it was wonderful advice to give a child and it is still practiced to this day, for one good deed, pay back with 10. hugs. 🙂

      • Vicki says:

        wonderful idea……Thanks……my family flies in tomorrow from Portland OR….can’t wait to see that little grandson!

    • Janet [in Rochester] says:

      What a wonderful idea – 26 acts of random kindness! :>)

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        Last weekend a gal at my church went home to PA and her daughter was upset about the shootings, so on the way up and back this gal made several acts of kindness. She paid the tolls for the person behind her on the way up and back, and when she stopped for breakfast she paid for the person after her. Each time she told the cashiers to wish the person behind/after her a Merry Christmas. By the time they got home her daughter was smiling again!!!

    • Holly says:

      I love this, too! One small request: can we call them ‘deliberate acts of kindness’? 🙂 I think that’s what acts of kindness are anyway – a deliberate choice to show love to someone else.

  5. Lena says:

    Thank you for posting these many links.

    It can be overwhelming to know where to start, in the face of such a time as this, but having all of these links in one place is very helpful, and I know that it will make a difference.

    You brightened my days, and make a difference, everyday. Thank you for that.

    Peace and love to you.

  6. Kate B. says:

    Isn’t there a saying that goes something like, if you want something done, send a WOMAN? Well if there isn’t, there should be. If all the women of America put their heads and hearts together, we will get this job done! Thanks Susan for all the contacts, perfect!

  7. lori from MN says:

    Susan, all I can say is “THANK YOU”!

  8. Maria Maberto says:

    Hi, Susan…I too spent this past weekend in a fog of sadness, weeping, trying to wrap my head around something so evil; however, my thoughts do not go to the issue of gun control…ever. Our forefathers knew that it would be important for “we the people” to be able to protect ourselves from those who want to harm us or our loved ones; but they also understood that corruption in government could result in our needing to fight for certain rights and freedoms we hold dear. That is exactly what the Revolutionary War was about, breaking free from tyranny. We should never be willing to give up any of the rights that the brave men and women before us have fought so hard to uphold.
    I absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with others that the answer lies in the building of a health care system for our mentally ill citizens. Right now it is non-existent in our country.
    I am employed as a court reporter in a courtroom that handles criminal cases. At the end of January, we will hear the case of a homeless man with mental health issues who walked into a Wal-Mart, selected a baseball bat and proceeded to bludgeon to death an older man who just happened to be shopping in the same aisle. Yes, Wal-Mart sells assault rifles. They also sell baseball bats. Should we ban those too? Anyone looking at this man can tell in an instant that there is something wrong; yet, he has been deemed competent.
    I believe we all want the same thing. We want to feel safe. We especially want our children and loved ones to be safe. When we are dealing with a friend or family member who is mentally ill, we want help for them so that these types of tragedies don’t happen anymore.
    Remember, Adam Lanz’s mother was the registered owner of those guns.
    Thanks for hearing me out.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for your experiences! That’s why we need to hear from everyone, because it’s a complicated issue. I just think, that if we are going to err, we should err on the side of safety. For example let’s say we are either going to ban assault weapons, or not. Seems to me that if banning them will lesson the chance of even one person taking an assault rifle into a movie theater, it would be worth the chance of being “wrong.” It’s not like any truly good law-abiding gun owner needs an assault rifle … not for hunting, not for anything. They have been banned before, and nothing bad happened. Thinking about the pros and cons of having assault rifles available to anyone at any time without a background check.

      • Kate B. says:

        Something I heard tonight as they interviewed a hospital ER team speaking about their experiences in taking care of gunshot victims. This Dr. said there was no comparison with the damage the bullets from a handgun vs. an assault weapon. The handgun bullet just goes in, and as the assault bullet hits the target, it is designed to explode, and send shrapnel to a wide area. This to me sets it in a whole new level. Knowlege is uncomfortable sometimes, but necessary.

        • sbranch says:

          We need to know. I have hesitated to talk about the little kids and those kinds of guns. But it’s obscene.

          • Laura says:

            It is not responsible for any citizen to amass an arsenal of weapons and ammunition to then be turned upon innocent victims. 25 guns…why? There were no assault rifles in the 1700’s obviously. This is a common sense and moral issue…not one of semantics.

    • Chris Wells from West Texas says:

      I grew up in a house with guns. My dad was a hunter and a sportsman. These assault weapons are for killing humans, there is no other purpose for them. They are weapons of war and do not belong in the hands of ordinary people any more than scud missiles or nuclear weapons. No one wants to infringe on the right to bear arms, but where do those arms end? If we could just close the loop holes, ban the enormous clips and take weapons of war off the streets. No one’s right to bear arms or go hunting is infringed upon. And yes the mental health issues in this country must be addressed along with a culture of violence. I don’t think we are going to go away this time! The slaughter of little children will not be forgotten.

      • sbranch says:

        I agree with you Chris, beautifully and succinctly said.

      • Linda from Lancaster, Co PA says:

        amen and amen, Chris! I agree!

      • Dayna Arbiso says:

        Thanks, you’ve said what I have been thinking since this terrible tragedy occurred. We owe it to all these victims to use intelligence and common sense in our response. Well said, we have to look at ALL causes to get effective results.

    • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

      How many people in a short time can be killed by a bat compared to how many people can be killed in a short time by an assault rifle? There is no comparison. And bats were created to play ball where assault rifles were created to kill. Again, no comparison…

      • Laura says:

        Thank you

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        You go Pat. As we know in the Mid-West you don’t need an assault rifle to hunt. Every state should do background checks and I know responsible gun owner won’t mind. If you want to teach gun handling and safety to your children you can rent guns, so they don’t need to be in the house if one member of a family isn’t balanced. I don’t know what that mother was thinking and why did she buy so many guns???

    • Maria, your statement “but they also understood that corruption in government could result in our needing to fight for certain rights and freedoms we hold dear” concerns me. A “well-regulated militia” was put in there to protect us from foreign governments–not out own. The Constitution established 3 different branches of government to give us the checks and balances we needed to insure that we wouldn’t need arms to protect ourselves from our own government. Our right to vote is the right we should get upset about when that is tampered with (like in this last election when some states tried to institute voter photo IDs, knowing full well it would prevent a whole segment of society from voting and could sway the election in those states to a particular party).

      I just wish people would stand back, take a deep breath, and see how they are being manipulated by fear-mongers and those who stand to lose a whole lot of money if guns were better regulated (as in “well-regulated militia”).

      • sbranch says:

        I finally got that some years back, now I just say to myself “who stands to gain from what I am being told” — it sort of answers all the questions. If it isn’t the children and families, then I have questions.

    • Donna Ray from Hamlin, NY says:

      An added thought….. when a deranged person grabs a baseball bat he can only kill one person before others intervene, but when that deranged person grabs an assult rifle, in seconds, he can kill 26 people……. in seconds! These guns don’t belong in the same category as my Daddy’s deer rifle. Also it was an assult gun that allowed the Conn. shooter access into the locked school……he simply blew a hole big enough to enter. You can’t do that with a baseball bat or an ordinary sport gun.
      As always, DonnaRay

    • Ruth Elder says:

      It is agreed that Wal Mart sells baseball bats also. And that baseball bats can be used to murder. However, baseball bats ONLY purpose is not murder. And you certainly cannot kill dozens of people in only seconds with a baseball bat.

  9. Peggy H. says:

    THANK YOU, Susan, for putting the petition information on your blog. xxxooo

    • sbranch says:

      Happy to do it. Not that anyone has to use it, but it’s there if someone feels the need to do something to help.

      • Mary Ann says:

        Oh yes, I am signing every one on gun control and assault weapons and a better mental health system. thanks you for having the conversation here Susan, talking about it is an important step.

  10. Susan Joy says:

    I wish it were November again so that I can vote for a different President. I would vote for my favorite author Ms. Susan Branch! I think Joe would be the best “First Man”, I could tell just by watching him making that beautiful wreath with his red Christmas socks on. Too cute! What a wonderful world this would be!

  11. Sally says:

    Yes, Susan you are just one sensible woman, but many will listen to you and agree that we can do something! Thank you for being a spokeswoman for good!

  12. Nicki Anderson says:

    I guess I am one of the few posting who do not believe that changing our second amendment will do a thing. I do believe in having guns for protection. I also believe that we need to get back to God. We need to bring him back and into the public square again. Our nation was based on religion and some seem to be doing everything possible to remove any mention of God. We need to get back to a Godliness in our lives. This problem is huge. Broken families, lack of proper mental illness facilities, are only a few of the things that can help our nation get back on the right track. Baring guns is a futile attempt and only a bandaid on an ever growing problem.

    • sbranch says:

      We don’t have to change the second amendment to stop criminals and mentally ill from purchasing assault rifles and huge magazines that hold hundreds of bullets and can turn any rifle into an assault gun. That’s all anyone is talking about. I don’t think I understand why people care so much about keeping assault rifles available.

      • Nicki Anderson says:

        I do agree with you on the larger clip guns. I just think that this problem is more than just that.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        i don’t think its about changing the 2nd amendment, but i don’t think the 2nd amendment meant keeping assault rifles available for the average public to have and own. those weapons were designed strictly with the military and law enforcement in mind, not Joe Q. public. the average gunowner has no need for such firepower and i think thats what attracts people to want one and own one, the massive firepower those weapons have. i cannot understand why anyone would want one of those, too destructive for my way of thinking. like everyone here i am only 1 person, but together we can get the needed changes brought about and maybe make things a little safer and better for our children and grandchildren.

        • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

          our nation was founded by christian beliefs and morals, and i agree its time to get back to those beliefs and values.

        • sbranch says:

          There were no assault rifles, there were muskets, it took twenty minutes to reload! 🙂 Maybe we should say, OK, second amendment, here’s your musket.:-) Too flippant?

          • Dede says:

            I would like to know what you condsider an assault weapon? Is the little pistol that holds 5 bullets 4 too many? Yes my husband bought it for ME for Christmas. And he wants ME to take the conceal carry class. What I want is to have several people in each school be a designated gun carrier or access to one. We have posted that schools are gun free zones so there is notice to every nut out there that they can go in and do harm before someone can stop them. You can call 911 in seconds but it takes minutes for the police to arrive! If that principal had access to a gun she might have been able to stop him or at least slowed him down! I asked our school secretary that is stationed at the front entrance if she would consider carrying–she said she didn’t think she could shoot anyone….being a grandma I could if my grandchild or someone elses was in someones sites! Gun control will not solve the problem–the criminals will always be able to get them–if there is a will there is a way.. Knives, baseball bats, box cutters, pipes, axes, hammers,fertilizer, poison, etc. There is a long list of things that need to be banned if we use this logic. And if you have a mentally ill person in your household you have no business with a gun in the house.

          • sbranch says:

            The dictionary definition for Assault Rifle is: A rapid-fire, magazine-fed automatic rifle designed for infantry use. So I don’t think that’s what you have there. I’m not against guns … just assault rifles for kids, mentally ill, terrorists, felons. Right now, they’re legal in 31 states, and at all gun shows, with no background checks. As I mentioned earlier, a knife wielding man went into a school in China the same day as our terrible incident … he wounded 23 children. But he didn’t kill any of them.

            The only thing I can say is I would rather try something, than to let those children, those heroic teachers, die without us even trying. Every time it happens, no one does anything about it. We should try.

          • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

            nope i think that is perfect. 20 minutes to load a weapon, think how many violent acts would be slowed down or stopped by that. besides a i know a few guys here who have only muskets and use them for hunting, it takes alot of patience to go hunting with them. 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            My brothers finally graduated to bows and arrows … I was never quite sure why. Maybe more of a sport? I am just not any kind of animal killer myself — I draw dead animals, upside down, with feet in the air, on their envelopes when I write them, because I’m the big sister!

          • Chris Wells from West Texas says:

            No, I love It!

          • sbranch says:


          • Chris Wells from West Texas says:

            My comment was meant for the muskets comment. It popped up in a weird place!

          • sbranch says:

            This crazy blog! I have no power over it. It’s kind of like Jack!

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Not at all! I learned yesterday that the right to bear arms came in VA as they didn’t want a state militia like Boston. The soldiers moved into folks homes. So in VA they decided that from 16-60 all men must take a class and keep a gun in the home to be ready when called upon. That started the whole 2nd Amendment thing. Reminds me of Switzerland today, still a neutral country. No fighting, just defense.

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            My comment goes with your musket comment. This internet puts stuff where it wishes. LOL

          • sbranch says:

            It does … my comments too, I see it all the time! Oh well . . . 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        I don’t understand, either. I just can’t get my mind around it to even imagine why people are so concerned about protecting their rights to have weapons that kill…

        • sbranch says:

          I don’t get it. I think I’m missing something.

          • Kristin says:

            We can go back and forth about guns and religion…but this is simple…. guns made for war should not be on our streets at any time, ever! And bringing more guns into schools even if for protection will NOT prevent any violence and may create more. Our teachers, principals and other educators work tirelessly and selflessly to help educate our children and should not have to be trained as police or military in order to educate! My heart breaks for these families! This is simple…

          • sbranch says:

            Thank you Kristin.

    • Rae Parkin says:

      Bearing guns. Spelling.

  13. Deborah says:

    Thank you Susan for providing a loving voice and practical ways to do something. I signed the White House petition to at least light one candle. I’m the mother of a daughter who suffered from severe emotional and mental demons in her early years. She’s improved now, but it’s a lifelong battle with little help or understanding from health care providers, or really anyone who hasn’t experienced this type of illness. People don’t want to discuss this issues as much as gun control, and that is sad.

    • sbranch says:

      I know Deborah, so sad … but I’ve been hearing more and more about it today on the news. It’s more complicated, will require people to hold their interest and press their representatives longer, but I’m hoping this will be an impetus for change.

  14. Victoria Miller says:

    Susan, you are so right! It all begins with one person! If everyone would take a day each month to contact their representatives and let their position be known, it would make such a difference! This is what democracy is really about. And this is how we keep government “of…, by…. and for the people” — that’s us! The way to lift weight from your heart is to take the right action. Thank you for all your tender mercies in this difficult time for all of us.

  15. michelle says:

    The events of last Friday were horrific. Connecticut has very strict gun laws. The weapon used was not a assault rifle. A crazy person stole guns (against the law) and took them to a gun-free zone (against the law) and killed people (also, against the law).

    • sbranch says:

      But it’s not the first time. It keeps happening, and in all different ways. Do we just do nothing?

      • Diane Harris says:

        I do believe there is evil in this world and when someone wants to do something evil, they will find a way, law or no laws. However, I think as a society we must make it as difficult as possible for evil to accomplish their goal.

  16. Melissa Leathley says:

    Such a sad, sad time for those families who lost. We live in a broken world. How to fix it? We can’t fix it for everyone but for ourselves we can give and love and pray and hope. Our hearts certainly reflect who we are and through goodness there will be light. Be good and share love for “God has a plan for us, plans to prosper and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11) I have to believe this and not ask “Why?” because it will make me crazy and heart broken every single minute of the day. We have a place right here where we can love each other and share joy and sorrow.
    Thank you Susan for your words of love and for reminding me that we can celebrate even though this tragic, grieving time.
    Love you Susan and all the “Girlfriends”.

  17. LindaH says:

    Susan, thanks for your thoughts on these important issues. It seems like we as a nation should be able to come up with some solutions that preserves our individual freedoms as well as makes life safer for all. And it is important that we make our wishes known to make positive changes, not just complain, so thanks for the links. Its a very complicated world that we live in.

  18. patti says:

    just want to say , please, please, everyone don’t overlook the mental health issue. we need research for better understanding and treatment. very hard to know who might be someone who would do these horrible things and then how to prevent it. i am praying for us all.
    thanks susan for all your posts. you are always an inspiration and comfort.

  19. Lori says:

    Thank you for this post, Susan. It is very important that we all speak up, and now is the time.

  20. Barbara F. says:

    This is so spot on, Susan. I never met you in person, you did respond to a fan letter I wrote after reading your first cookbook, but I know that I love you for being a beautiful human being. xo

  21. Doreen Higgins says:

    Dear Susan, Joe, and everyone,

    I think that you put into words exactly how we all are feeling Susan. It has truly broken our hearts and we are feeling it in everything we do. Thank you for this wonderful blog and information for what we can do. We all must go on, but changes do need to be made. May God bless all of those directly involved and all of us grieving right along with them.

    Thank you Susan for the comfort you bring. We love you so.
    Love and Peace to all,

  22. Lynn says:

    Hi Susan: I just returned from grocery shopping at the local Stop & Shop in Newtown. I couldn’t wait to get back home. Not one smiling face, not a kind word from anyone, no one talking, people still dazed – a long way to go with the healing. Roadside memorials everywhere. My family is trying to make sense of all this. CT has one of the strictest gun laws in the US – it didn’t help. As has been said, if a person decides to do something this horrific – a way will be found be it guns, a bomb, and who knows what else they might think of. I do feel assault rifles do not have a place in our homes. I believe parents need to be much more in tune with their children – spend time with them, see what games they are playing, note who their friends are – and question if your child is acting in an unusual way — no matter how old. And taking it a step further – we also need to be aware of friends, neighbors, other family members who might be having a serious mental health issue. That being said, I have a dear friend whose daughter (in her 40’s) suddenly changed and became a different person. I won’t go into details, but my friend contacted her daughter’s doctor and because of the HIPPA laws, the Dr. wouldn’t even take the call. She sent letters- returned unopened. She is concerned but there is nothing that she can do. The daughter will not communicate and the system is hands off. It is so sad. Mental health problems are real and this needs to be addressed. There are so many issues to be dealt with as a result of this senseless act that one doesn’t know where to begin. But the alternative is to do nothing. Thank you for caring. I know your loyal followers will continue to pray for everyone in Newtown – I see first hand that they need all the prayers, love and understanding we can give. As the last of the funerals begin take place, perhaps the healing will also. So many hearts are broken but also there has been such an outpouring of kindness and caring that this must bring comfort to the families.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s so true, there is no help for mental illness, no long term care treatment. I read that in 1955 we had one bed in a psychiatric hospital for every 300 Americans, now it’s one bed for every 7,000. It needs to be studied, so we can find new ways of dealing with it. My prayers and tears go across the water to Connecticut and to every parent who has lost a child to gun violence (or in any way at all). Thank you so much Lynn for your thoughtful comment.

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      The point you made is excellent. Why can’t a parent of a young adult with disabilities get help, after all they still live at home?!

      • sbranch says:

        There just isn’t any. It’s all been closed down. It was subsidized by the government at one time, and they cut it from the budget.

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          Not just that, but I also was talking about the fact that after 18 you can’t talk with your child’s Dr.. I really got upset when my oldest son’s senior year, second semester he was not required to get my signature for a field trip! So since I didn’t see the slip and I was chaperoning a trip into Boston, I had to call the teacher to get the departure time. I told my son I still need to see all slips whether or not I have to sign them! Also, when kids are in college they are still on their parents insurance and most of the time the parents are paying the tuition. So we are not supposed to know what is going on with our grown children??? AND if something goes wrong who does the school call, even in college??? The parents!

    • Dayna Arbiso says:

      You are so right, our country needs to change the way we take care of those with mental illness. For way too long, it has been treated like it is just a family problem. Maybe this case will finally be the tipping point, not just for a much needed national assault weapon law that won’t expire but will also lead to better mental health resources for families with a troubled loved one. The Governor of Connecticut noted that because of a lack of a national assault weapon law, guns can be purchased elsewhere and brought across state lines in a matter of hours.

  23. Caren Willoughby says:

    Thank you for posting this. How wonderful if our writing and signing a petition , and action was taken by our government, would help all the little children of the world.

  24. Doreen Higgins says:


    I have one P.S. for all to please consider, I am quoting Lenny Kravitz, “if giving up the right to bare arms would bring back those children would you do it.” I think everyone needs to think about this. No child is worth this right.

    Love and Peace,

  25. Mary S. says:

    Just in case you haven’t already read this poem – I found it very comforting:
    T’was 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
    when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
    their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
    they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
    they were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
    they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
    “where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
    “this is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
    when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
    but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
    He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
    then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
    and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
    those children all flew into the arms of their King
    and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
    one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
    and as if He could read all the questions she had
    He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
    then He looked down on earth, the world far below
    He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
    then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
    “Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
    “may this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
    “I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
    then He and the children stood up without a sound.
    “come now my children, let me show you around.”
    excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
    all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
    and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
    “in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

    • Melissa Leathley says:

      The poem that Mary S posted here is precious and beautiful. It’s all about the hope I talked about in my last post. Thank you Mary S for posting.

      • Anna , Camano Island, WA says:

        I loved your poem, not to make light of this very serious and sad time, (which I’m sure is not your intent), but I think your poem paints a lovely warm picture, if my child had been one of the victims, I would want a copy of this. I think it would be a small comfort to me to read this interpretation of the night before Christmas.

  26. Jennifer Waltzer says:

    Thanks, Susan. Here is another quote for you: “Action is the antidote to despair.”
    –Joan Baez,
    American singer

    • sbranch says:


      • ArlineLA says:

        Thanks, Susan and Jennifer. I’m printing this little line out and laminating it in my wallet ton remember. I’m also utilizing the links. Many voices ned to speak out until something is done. Arline in CA

  27. Holly says:

    I am the mother of a son with Asperger’s Disorder. From the day my child was born there was something (a lot of things) that were different about him. When he was born most people, much less doctors didn’t know about Autistic Spectrum disorders. I have spent the past 27 years fighting for him to have good & effective mental health care, suing school districts for him to have the type of education he needed, and with much effort was mostly successful. However, after high school, and the age of 18, things changed. It was much harder to find good mental health care for him, most systems are completely overwhelmed. Also, parents are cut off basically, because of privacy laws. So it is much harder to know what is going on with your child, especially if the child doesn’t want you to know. So many young adults with mental illness just fall through the cracks. I really believe the mental health system needs to change. It needs to be easier for parents to find proper living situations for their adult children with mental illnesses, and in some cases make them live where they will be safe and perhaps others will be safe too. I’m mainly talking about residential adult family homes that are staffed appropriately. More secure housing may be necessary for some until they are stable and progress.

    I’m not an expert, just a mom whose heart breaks each and every day for her son. It’s difficult to see a young man with an IQ of 140 struggle with so many things, and see what could be a wonderful happy life just lost within mental illness. I keep looking for answers, but have found very few. I do think major improvement within mental health systems would help, and entire communities join forces, and perhaps share databases. Also, it may require sharing of some information with local law enforcement.

    I don’t know much about the gun situation, but all gun owners need to secure their weapons in cases that are solid and locked. If a mentally ill person wants a weapon, they will find a way to get one.

    I have been reading the last few blogs, but couldn’t comment…. just cried. Thank you Susan for the forum here and your lovely posts.

    • sbranch says:

      I feel for you Holly; it’s like we’re forced to just forget about them … we can’t help them, it’s horrible. Mental illness has a stigma too, but it’s the same as a knee that doesn’t work, or bad kidneys; it’s your brain, a body part, and it’s an illness. Love you being here and hearing your perspective, it’s my experience also, and it really needs to change. I’m so sorry Holly, it must feel so lonely. Your son, you love him. xoxo Blessings on him Holly, and you.

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Thank you for writing Holly – this is all excellent information we should all know. And God bless you as you continue to work and fight for your son. Something tells me when progress is made, and attitudes and policies begin to change, it is going to be because of mothers [and fathers and other caring people] like you who completely, totally and absolutely REFUSE to give up! :>)

        • Dayna Arbiso says:

          Well said Janet. That’s always where important change comes from. My heart goes out to you & your son, Holly. Hopefully we, as a collective voice can make a difference. Thank you Susan for giving this such a loving and caring forum.

    • Deborah says:

      Holly, my loving thoughts and prayers go out to you. I wrote above about my adult daughter who has emotional and mental illness and she has an IQ of 147 but from an early age was shut out from any real help from the school system, health care professionals even the church. Friends and family also seemed to blame me as if it were my poor parenting skills or lack of interest that caused her problems even though my other daughter was completely healthy and stable and in reality I spent every financial and emotional resource available to find help for this girl. I often thought that if she had a more “acceptable” illness like a brain tumor or lukemia, these same people would have surrounded us with loving care and support, but instead we were both shut out and ignored. When our country will embrace these troubled sick and mentally ill children with the same love and support as they do the children who have traditional illnesses, we’ll begin to see some real progress. God bless you Holly and your son.

      • sbranch says:

        Deborah, I am so sorry. I think thats really the sea change I would love to see. I will never understand why anyone sees the brain as separate from the body.

        • Laura says:

          I just read a piece on the Huffington Post entitled, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.” Written by a different mother trying to care for her mentally troubled son. It is horrifying reading, but gave me some insight…so, so heart breaking. Love to all mothers who are trying in all circumstances to do their best and be their best.

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        I know what you mean about “even the church” and THAT made me very angry when my sons were growing up. Find one that is a better fit is the only thing I know. Those folks will have to answer later. I also felt the same way about the physical vs. mental illness point you brought up.
        Love to you and Holly, and your families. God bless us everyone!!!

        • Janet [in Rochester] says:

          I truly believe that many mental and emotional conditions are actually organic in nature. I read something long ago in college that has always stayed with me. Did you know that the chemical composition of emotional years is very different from tears caused by chopping onions, teargas, allergies? That just MUST mean something!! With all the research being done in genetics, biotechnology, biochemistry etc [well if funding is available at least, she said snidely] maybe by the end of the 21 century we’ll look back on landmark discoveries such as a daily pill that controls autism, a superfruit drink that manages/even cures manic-depression or schizophrenia, an outpatient laser treatment for depression. It boggles the mind! :>)

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Very interesting Janet. Did you know that they are going back to shock therapy? I know someone who swears it helps her, but I haven’t seen her lately.

      • Holly says:

        Deborah, my heart goes out to you. You’ve been dealing with this for 20 years longer than I have! I don’t know if I have the energy for more…. My experiences are so similar to yours. I have a beautiful, intelligent daughter who is living a very normal and full life. She is a year older than my son. My husband and I home schooled both of them, as we traveled and lived overseas quite a bit. So, when family visited, they questioned why our son was acting so odd, or why he was so hyper-sensitive to certain things. Everyone thought I should spank him with each event. Well… that would have made things much worse, I’m sure. Anyway… once we settled back in the USA, both kids wanted to attend Junior HS. So, then started all the school issues. I agree with you that our friends and neighbors should be more supporting and schools should make every effort to give children what is needed. Also, the “bully-ing” these kids receive should be addressed. They are very fragile emotionally, and just want to be liked and accepted. I’d like to email with you further about all this, and I can be reached through my blog. Just click my name and you will be taken there & can leave me a note. God bless you.

        And, thank all of you others who left such kind words for me. I’ve been feeling much happier than normal the last day or so, and now I know why.

        Susan, thank you so much for giving us your comforting words and sharing your heart.

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      Holly I know how you feel somewhat. I was not happy that they brought up this guy’s mental illness and compared him to ADHD and Aspergers Disorder. Both my sons have high IQ’s, the oldest is hyper active and the youngest is nervous and extremely shy. When I lived back home the schools tried to label the youngest ADD, in NH they tried to label him Aspergers, and finally his senior year after some freshman bullied him (poor kid is 5’4″) I took him yet again to a Dr. who told me I was right all along the he is generally and/or socially anxious! If we wouldn’t have moved 17 times (father is hyper and not in the picture anymore) he probably would have been ok in his school years, and he is a perfectionist unlike his ADHD brother. Where did he get that??? LOL
      What happened you ask?
      The oldest is a Sergeant in the US ARMY Reserves (they wouldn’t let him study on active duty so he switched) and is finishing a degree in Criminology next year, and he teaches people gun safety in his free time. He doesn’t know why they don’t have Hunter’s Safety in the schools anymore. I said it went by way of fine arts and other extracurricular activities.
      The youngest is the best janitor ever! And he is saving money for classes and he would like to be a fireman and plant more trees. (I think he got the tree thing from my little sister. LOL) When my sister graduated from college Al Gore was supposed to give the graduation speech (He couldn’t come.), and all her classmates told her that she and Al could go hug a tree after the ceremony! LOL Seriously, her twin is the real tree hugger.
      I thank the special ed. teachers who kept my sons organized and taught the social graces on the school front! The boys made honor roll half the
      time. I don’t thank those who looked down on me or talked to me as though I didn’t have a brain especially in NE (must have been my accent that threw them off!). The individual states need to step up on mental health insurance coverage and services. Our home state of WI was covering at 100%. I still don’t understand why just being active is considered a mental disorder??? How many hyper busy people do we know??? Ty Pennington for one, who builds new homes for the less fortunate. He turned his ADHD into an acronym Advanced Design Home Decor.
      I belong to Surfer’s Healing now. We support parents of Autistic children. Some children have spoken or laughed or smiled for the first time as they surfed along with a pro-surfer!
      We need to write or call our Congressmen and Senators, as Susan suggested, for mental health issues and gun control. The power of the pen is better.

  28. Mary says:

    Thanks Susan, this is a wonderful post with some very good information on how to try to make a difference. Much appreciated. Mental health issues are huge – such a terrible thing for parents to deal with – supporting them is so important.
    That said, I totally agree with you about gun control. There can’t be any good or decent reason for a civilized society to have assault weapons. And it was an assault weapon used in Newtown. The second amendment isn’t going to dissolve if citizens can’t have assault weapons. Things need to change.

  29. Bonny ~* says:

    Again…thanks. I’m trying so hard to get in the Christmas spirit. I pray for comfort and peace in the hearts of all who have been touched by this tragedy. I believe in the “right to bare arms” but, I don’t think our forefathers would mean semi-automatic assault weapons…just something to protect yourself with. ~*

    • sbranch says:

      No, they had muskets. They didn’t even have cars. They didn’t even have pogo sticks, hair dryers or electricity. I just wish President Lincoln, with his love of his children, would have changed it all then — he probably would if he had read the future and saw what happened in Connecticut … and we wouldn’t be worrying about it now!

    • Rae Parkin says:

      Bare arms again. Oh my dear!

  30. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, thanks for sharing what we can do which is extremely helpful. In our grief we can’t even think straight! I hear what Holly is saying and yes we do need more help for the mentally ill and people with disorders. Many years ago they closed down all the mental institutions and put people out on the streets. They also closed orphanages and put children in foster care which isn’t always a wonderful thing either. While there are many loving foster parents, there are many that do it strictly for the income. I have heard of cases where people with mental illness go to the mental hospital and are out in 3 days or 6 days to fend for themselves. They may not take their medications either and with no one to take care of them, if they aren’t monitored to take their meds – they are right back where they started. I’ve heard it said many times, it’s not the guns that kill people – its the people using the guns that kill. They want to harm or kill others. If they didn’t have a gun, they would use other means to get the deed done. They are sick and not normal. You have to treat the person first. Regular bad guys or gangsters on the street will always find ways to get guns or whatever. Gun laws prevent people from getting guns to protect themselves. What about hunters and their guns? When they go to get a license, how does the seller know whether they are sane or not or whether down the road they will become mentally ill! There are two sides to every story and so many questions to be answered. There is still so much they need to learn about the brain! As Holly said………….all gun owners need to lock up their guns and all weapons! That’s a start. Then mental health needs a complete overhaul. May God watch over our elected officials and have them make some changes in this country where mental health is concered. And regarding orphanages………they need to change all the red tape and let Americans adopt children instead of them having to go to Russia, China and other countries! God bless all the families in CT. Gail Buss, Bev. Hills, Fl

  31. Lezlee says:

    In 1967 my sister-in-law was murdered by two men high on drugs – they went on a three state murder spree . . .

    In 1973 my brother was murdered by a jealous ex-husband (he killed both my brother and his ex-wife – in front of her children) . . .

    Both died by handguns . .

    It made huge news back in 1967 & 1973 – now it is common place.

    Deanna was 22 (and a month away from her first wedding anniversary to my older brother) and my younger brother, Russell was 27 and father to four year old boy. We miss them every day.

    I didn’t know the answer to the word ‘why’ back then and still don’t know.

    And here we are today . . . . every year worse.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry Lezlee. I will not let this make me give up though, in the face of such sadness it would be easy to feel hopeless. But I won’t because not a day goes by that I don’t see and feel the beauty all around us.

  32. Mary says:

    No one has a “need” for an assault weapon. Owning one should be outlawed. Thank you Susan for putting the contact information in such a good place. We all need to work together to convince our country that assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment. No other weapon, not even a baseball bat sold at Walmart, can do as much harm as an assault weapon in such a short time. Think of the time it would have taken to use a baseball bat to do what this young man did! Let’s make sense. Thank you for standing firm about this issue. I will sign all of the petitions and do what I can to see these controls put into place.

  33. Barbara Phillips-Barrett says:

    Thanks for all of this information! It’s empowering to be able to take some sort of action. I’ll pass it on.
    Merry Christmas Susan, thanks for the great blog!

  34. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    well the kids are down for a nap ( too much cookie decorating and tummies full of cookies and “chicky schnoodle soup”) so i will tell of an incident with a hand gun i had a few years ago, now before someone starts to get upset i am not against owning a gun like a rifle or a handgun, but i see no need for an automatic or semi-automatic assault rifle to be owned by anyone. that said here goes… about 2 years ago my MIL had an accident with her concealed handgun ( yes she has permits for a concealed weapon) that just about had me and a good friend in near hysterics and almost gave my FIL a heart attack. my MIL thinks nothing of packing her pistol into her purse and carrying it around with her for “protection” ( personally i think the bad guys need the protecting in this case) and thats okay as long its all legal. but what happened really changed my mind on that, as she always packs that gun along for whatever..shopping trips into town, trips to the post office or to the dentist or doctors’ office or out to dinner. we were headed to the local Indian casino out here to meet some friends and go play bingo and yes the slots. well judy and i picked her up and she sat in the back seat of the van while judy and i sat up front and my FIL, my husband, judy’s husband and judy’s adult kids were in the next van. we were going along the highway on our way to the casino and all of a sudden we hit a big bump in the road, and the gun went off and shot a hole in the floor of judy’s van. judy screamed and i hit my head on the roof and yellled as we pulled over to the side. we both thought we had gotten a flat, and there was MIL looking at the floor of the van. i went over to see what she was staring at and there was a hole in the floor where the bullet had gone through and you could see the road through the hole. and there was a big hole in her purse where she carried the gun. the gun had gone off when we hit that big bump in the road. well the guys in the van behind us pulled over to find out what happened and when we told them, pops nearly had a heart attack because that bullet could have hit either one of us instead of going where it did through the floor. after that FIL told MIL to take the pistol out and leave it home. all i can say is that scared me to death, and since then i make sure i am not sitting near her when we go out with them anywhere. i’ll drive my jeep rather than go with them in the van, and yes i am a bit paranoid when it comes to her and that gun. can you blame me????

    • sbranch says:

      No, she would be someone I would try to avoid. Pat her down before she comes to Christmas Dinner! 🙂

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        if she has her purse with her it stays outside!! that bag and her gun are not allowed in my home. and i refuse to drive anywhere with her, i’m scared to death that pistol will go off again. if we have to go somewhere with them, i drive in my jeep, i won’t get into a car with her.

  35. Kristina Moore says:

    Thank you for this!


  36. Joan says:

    Susan. I completely agree with you. Why would any sensible person oppose a ban on assault weapons?? Aside from killing as many as possible as quickly as possible they serve NO purpose. Can they honestly look into those sweet young innocent faces…know the terror…the fear….the pain they must have gone thru…and tell me they STILL advocate keeping those killing machines? If they can then they…like the gunman…must be soulless.

  37. Marian says:

    Thank you, Susan, and we love you too.

  38. Debbie S., IL says:

    Susan, I’ve been asking myself the same question since this happened – “What can I do?” – and you’ve answered it for me. Thank you!! Maybe actually being able to do something will help some of the sadness go away, I feel like I’ve been walking around in a fog since this terrible thing happened.

  39. Marianne in Hidden Meadows, SoCal says:

    I’ve read through a lot of the comments but not yet all, so forgive me if this has already been said, but it seems to me that the three main issues in all of this are Mental Health Care, Gun Control, and actively raising our children to be compassionate, caring people. Yes, unfortunately there are people out there committing extremely evil acts of violence. But in each case, what is the greater evil — the horrendous violence, or to stand by and do nothing to address the conditions that lead to the violence? As the saying goes, “The only thing necessary for evil to prosper is for good people to stand by and do nothing.” So, as Susan and so many of The Girlfriends urge us, let’s each do our part in promoting compassion and love in the world. Let us each strive to be a blessing to at least one person each and every day and teach the same to our children. Let’s urge our congress people to fund mental health care. Let’s bring common sense to gun control laws. Let’s bring civility and tolerance back to the political debate. And lastly, let’s remember all the good that is in this beautiful world and all the kindnesses that have been bestowed upon us by God and His earthly angels — some of them may be your neighbors, I know many of mine are!

    OK — I’m off my soap box, thanks for listening Girlfriends.


    • sbranch says:

      You looked good up there Marianne!

      • Janet [in Rochester] says:

        Darn tootin’ you did, Marianne! You stay up on that soapbox as much as you want! Remember that problems are NEVER solved by those who sit back quietly, fold their hands & behave themselves. For lack of a better word, it’s the “troublemakers” of the world – those that stir us up, shake us by the shoulders, kick our behinds or just plain yell “hey, WHAT the heck is going on here?” that end up making all the difference… :>)

        • Marianne in Hidden Meadows, SoCal says:

          Janet, you brought a smile to my face. I’ll bet you’ve been a “troublemaker” from way back and that many people have benefitted from it…..you’re my kind of people — you go, Girl!!! Keep stirring, shaking and kicking to make this a better world.

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Glad you smiled, Marianne. Don’t we all need something to smile about now? I know I sure do. Thanks for writing back. :>)

  40. Suzanne says:

    Thank you, Susan, for your thoughtful post and suggestions. I will be supporting a ban on automatic weapons and assault rifles.
    When the 2nd amendment was written, it took 10 seconds to load one musket ball.
    We as a country need to take a good look at what we love most and adjust accordingly.

  41. Melissa says:

    I don’t know if anyone else has posted thus quote yet but I though it was a good one:

    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
    –Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers)

    It’s hard to remember sometimes, but there are more good people than bad out there.

    Love, Melissa

  42. Susan, I couldn’t agree more with you. We are all feeling a little bit helpless and a lot sad. Although it sounds maybe reactionary and silly, I am so glad that we homeschool our kids. It just seems so wrong that kids even have to consider these kinds of things at school, a place where they should feel safe and secure. And teachers – real, everyday heroes who devote their lives to educating and nurturing children – who shouldn’t have to face these along with the other challenges of educating today.

    As for you, Susan, thank you for creating a place where your girlfriends (and boyfriends!) can be reminded of the good things in life, the small graces that make everyday worth living. In fact, what you are doing is one of the “things” people can do to make the world a better place – connect, create and give love.

  43. Mardell Lamb says:

    Hi Susan,
    Have been walking around in a fog since this happened. Tears, anger, fear ~ all of it. Thank you for the links! I will use them. I saw another address this morning on HLN to send direct letters of condolences:

    PO Box 3700
    Newtown, CT 06470

    While wrapping gifts for my 8 yr. old son, I fought the tears thinking of those parents who lost their precious babes (& thinking of the gifts they’ve probably already bought.) We live in a SMALL town, & we aren’t “buzzed” into the school. The side doors are locked, but if you ‘cock’ the door, it doesn’t shut all the way. There’s no monitoring, really. I think everyone is too trusting. Alot of people don’t even lock their doors at night.

    Thank you again, Susan.

  44. Bev from Melbourne au says:

    Dear Susan, your words and action touched me deeply. I know I am far away from the USA, but the pain is just as great. I work in a kinder to grade four school and am the first person u see when visitors arrive. I am deeply saddened and. I must admit a little frightened. We will never really know why this happened, but I certainly am hugging my family just that little bit tighter and sending all my prayers to you of you……xxx

    • sbranch says:

      I was reading a bit about what Australia did, vis a vis assault weapons and I have to say I’m proud of you!

      • Bev from Melbourne au says:

        Yes our tragedy at port Arthur was shocking and we as a country and government were swift to act. We’ve had our share of troubles but Newtown this week has been just so sad. We are all struggling to come to terms with images off CNN. Thank u for caring so much and for the joy you bring us all. Merry christmas to you and Joe. Furry high 5 from our fluffy black and white 14year old ‘Forrest’ to your two fluffy babes.

  45. Jane F. says:

    Assault weapons didn’t exist when our forefather’s wrote the Constitution! I am positive they would have written it in a different way, if they had. In the 17th century our leaders could not have anticipated in their wildest dreams where we would be at this point in history. It is up to us (the people/congress/the administration/the courts) to adjust the laws to make it safest for everyone at this point in time. I agree with Susan, if one person can be saved (and I am sure it will be a whole lot more than that), by banning guns except for hunting and protecting farm property, it will be more than worth it. I adamantly agree — no civilian needs an assault weapon — ever!

  46. I have been so sad too. Many intervals of crying as though each one of those babies were my own. Their souls live in our hearts now. In their legacy, I pray that we can change the hearts and minds of those who are consumed by violence.

    Susan and Bentley

  47. Audrianne says:

    Be gentle with yourselves people. It took four months for me to realize I was experience grief after Sept. 11; I spent so much time making sure my students were okay, I forgot that I might have an issue. I did.

    We don’t have to remain silent about gun control and sales, care for the mentally ill, and proper funding in all directions. I was pleased to hear that Gov. Snyder of Michigan vetoed a bill that would allow guns to be in schools, churches, etc. We don’t need more guns anywhere. No one needs an assault rifle to hunt deer, and they don’t need clips that allow 30 bullets to be fired in minutes.

    Take action. Make your voice heard, But also understand that anger is one emotion and grief, another. Be gentle with that person you see in the mirror.

  48. Joan Lesmeister says:

    My GF & I just got back from a walk to our little neighborhood park, hadn’t been there since early Friday morning. The flag in the children’s playground is flying at half-mast. It gripped our hearts!

  49. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Thank-you for offering this open forum for discussion. I am a 40-year veteran elementary (grades K-5) school teacher recently retired from an affluent suburban school system just outside of Boston. Our faculty meeting agendas included discussion of and preparation for security and school safety should violence visit us. We had regular lock-down drills. I constantly re-examined my classroom as a potential hiding place. Would I be able to hide the children in my charge should a shooter be loose in the building (?). We had regular whole school evacuation drills. We moved almost 500 small children (Grades K through 5) to another building location after evacuating the school building. I can clearly remember how during those drills I would become someone else. I became a person void of self who never took my eyes off the students. I understood that random and unannounced violence could one day come to us and that we had to be alert and ready. I am writing these words in acknowledgement of all the teachers who have had to become brave and silent sentinels for all the beloved children in our schools. I am writing these words for the teachers of Sandy Hook who I know used every single creative cell of their being to hide children from real occurring violence. This wasn’t a scheduled practice lock-down drill. It was sudden. It was real. A shooter came to them and fired. They could hear the shooting. They had to act fast. They became people void of self bent on saving those children. It is my hope that the general public will become more aware of just how much teachers care for kids. It is my hope that teachers will be included in the discussions of school security plans. It is my hope that the most creative minds will come together to devise plans for keeping our schools secure and safe.

    • sbranch says:

      I do believe that people are truly getting what you are saying Carol. How wonderful our teachers are and what a responsibility society places on them when they entrust them with their children; how joyfully those teachers receive that responsibility. Just heroes, that’s all, everyday heroes.

      • Carol from Connecticut says:

        Dear Susan, Thank you for your sensitive reply about teachers. Sadly, just shortly before retiring from this affluent and nationally recognized school system, the Social Workers were cut from the following years budget almost across the board
        K-12. We teachers were roiling with anger given the fact that children with challenges and needs at home would no longer be receiving services. School psychologists and school social workers who are still on board have too many cases to deal with. Most are working in more than one school. This is yet another area that needs close examination and the inclusion of teachers in the discussions for change.

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Carol … it is our tax money they are spending in Congress, they should be spending it on Us.

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Carol – what you wrote was Spot On and Beautiful. I’m a teacher too [kindergarten] and when details of what went on inside the school began to come out, as horrifying as they were, I could not help but be oh-so-proud of my fellow educators in that building. I’m sure teachers all over the world shared this feeling as well. They actually did what we all hope we could do if we ever had to. The memory of their sacrifice will live forever. I mourn the loss of these exceptional women and pray that their families find comfort and peace. Thank you for posting and God bless. :>)

  50. Dawn says:

    Dear Susan,

    It’s so great that you are voicing your truth and standing firm in what you believe, knowing full well your view on this matter will not be met solely with agreement. That’s brave, and just another thing for me to love about you.


  51. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Dear Susan, On a lighter note …
    May I ask a favor? IDEA: Would you ever consider designing a gift certificate card for your English Diary that could be printed from your website? People can give the certificate as a Christmas gift and then deliver the book after it is published. IDEA: Here is a wonderful idea for a do-it-yourself hostess/hospitality gift during the holiday season, or make some for yourself to bring some light to your day. These are really lovely: PINE CONE FIRE STARTERS pictures & videos…
    I remember that Martha’s Vineyard has great pine cones!

    • sbranch says:

      What a good idea! I will talk to Kellee and see if she can put one up! Thank you for your lighter notes, feels GOOD to talk about them! 🙂

  52. Lori H from WA State says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful words, Susan. I’m an Elementary School Librarian…just can’t imagine the horror of that tragic day in Connecticut.
    Been meaning to tell you that your blog gives me those warm, fuzzy feelings I had as a child during holidays and special times….I look forward to all your pictures, words, reflections, artwork. Merriest of Christmas’ to you and Joe.

  53. Jacquie says:

    Wow. I’m impressed. I love your work. I so love this blog. A great example of providing the right thing to say, at the right time – I’M TAKING ACTION.

  54. Kathy in California says:

    Thank you, Susan, for the helpful links. We are of the same mind I think.
    Fewer assault weapons, fewer deaths. PERIOD
    This is not Colonial America and it’s not the Wild West. Also, the argument that there are knives, matches and bombs doesn’t fly here, sorry. These assault weapons are designed for warfare; to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time. Not a marksman? Not to worry; no skill needed. That’s why they are so popular with gang members, the mentally ill and the criminally insane. We will always have an element in society like the aforementioned but we don’t have to make it so easy for them to kill and injure scores of people. I am only too happy to give up my “right” to own an assault weapon if it can save one life. There is absolutely no good reason for these things to be in the hands of the general public. None!
    Thanks for the opportunity to let off some steam. Boy, I am ready for good news and more pictures of Jack.

    • sbranch says:

      Excellent steam removal Kathy, well done! 🙂 Yes, Jack, that kind of sweetness, we could use some of that. xoxo

  55. Suzanne says:

    Love you too Susan, and amid the sadness and helplessness I’m sure together we can make a difference. ~ East Longmeadow, Ma

  56. Shelia mcguckin says:

    One women that I saw on my newsfeed(Jolene Hutchinson KMTR NewsSource16)found a way to get through this sad time. She took clear tree balls wrote the children’s names and ages on strips of parchment. She rolled them up and put them inside the ball.then she added “wings” made from white holly leaves. She put a sm. piece of white net around the top. And then topped it off with a halo made of a string of stars. I’m going to make 8/10 of them to give to my family on Christmas Eve.

  57. Harriett says:

    Thank you for what you have been posting. I think many of us feel the same way. I delivered date nut bread and cream cheese this morning to the teachers at my children’s elementary school, along with a pale pink “Christmas” cactus. There are still two veteran teachers in the building who were part of the era of my three kids–they’re now, 38, 33, and 31! When my oldest called this morning from Virginia (I am in NY), I told her what I had done.

    Here’s the e-mail I just received back: “All my first-grade friends thank you for your special delivery this morning to Watson (i.e. Kristen, Christine. Chris, David, and Mike…) We’ve been in touch since Friday and it has been a very nice way to touch base with those folks after the horrors after CT. We all treasure our Watson years; we have all remarked that for all of us those years were special years with special people.”

    I did call my congressperson to express support. She needs little encouragement. She’s Carolyn McCarthy who has been fighting for years to ban assault weapons and clips. Her husband was killed by another crazed gunman on the Long Island Railroad. You may remember that shooting; her son was injured. I think Gov Malloy summed up amazing thoughts in his remarks at the interfaith service: he mentioned that he will rememeber the 26, but especially the children, at the first snowfall he nows sees, after the solstice when the days grow longer, and, finally in the spring, when everything begins to bud and turns to flowers. Quite an image. Beautiful little children lost.
    Thank you again, Susan. We must all do what we can.

    You have a wide readership. Thank you for your speaking out

    • sbranch says:

      I love your congressperson! What a down to earth speaker she is. You are so lucky to have her. Thank you Harriet.

  58. Linda Trokey says:


    I, too, have felt just sick at heart and find myself crying every time I see the innocent victims little faces and the loved ones left behind, as well as those heroes who tried to shield the children from the evil and horror inside the school. I read Deborah’s post about having a daughter with mental issues and I, too, know that treatment for mental illness is not available to most and is still lacking in so many ways. I am a letter writer but sometimes feel overwhelmed at finding the right people to contact. My heartfelt thanks to you for providing so much good information that makes it so much easier to speak for those who can no longer speak. My goal is to use your links to contact each of them before 2013 begins. Thanks for your sensible entry today as it helps me take my sadness and use it in a positive way so changes can come as soon as possible. We must never forget.

    Linda T
    Lee’s Summit, MO

    • sbranch says:

      I’m glad it helps Linda. Let me ask you… I’m always torn about calling the person who did this evil. I realize the act was evil, but was he evil, if he was sick? Was it just a large sick accident. Or something from the devil?

      • Diane Harris says:

        The act was evil. The person, as all people, are children of God and have the opportunity for forgiveness. Hate the sin not the sinner. That’s what I believe.

      • Linda Trokey says:

        You ask a good question, Susan. I was really talking about the evil of the gun violence itself – mental health illnesses are so poorly dealt with in this country, especially because once they are eighteen, a parent can’t do anything for them unless that person agrees to get help. The issue is so huge and I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all but you have certainly given us all a starting point and for that, I’m so grateful. But the fact that we’re all talking about it is a start, albeit a small start but that’s how we must begin the discussion. Most of these people committing these killings must be hurting so badly inside – why aren’t we addressing that before it gets to this? I don’t know the answers but I pray that we will find them before another horrible tragedy happens.

        As for you and Joe (I loved how uncomfortable he looked on the floor but it must work for him), may you have a wonderful Christmas filled with peace, joy and love. You certainly bring that into my life and I think if we’d met when we were young, we would be dear pals. You live like I always dreamed of and your blog is my morning “tea.”

        Merry Christmas!

        Linda Trokey

  59. Jen says:

    The fact is evil people will always be able to get weapons to harm people. I think they should make a rule for Principals to carry guns, after things like this. The good people need access to the same things to protect from as the bad people have. Although I think it would be good for mental evaluations before someone has a gun. Making decisions based on pain and in the heat of the moment is never a good idea. People feel awful about what happened and they see signing petitions as the way toward helping. But when a plane crashes everyone doesn’t stop flying and you can’t take away guns to solve the problems of mentally ill people. And there have been many people who have saved themselves and their families when they had their homes broken into and they had the same to protect themselves as bad men have had to threaten with.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure we should go to their level, lets bring them to ours. We don’t need a gazillion people with guns…then all those teachers end up with guns in their homes where their children live. It’s just going to make it worse. We don’t want to take away guns to solve problems of mentally ill — we just shouldn’t sell guns to the mentally ill! See? It’s different. You get to keep your guns to protect yourselves; the only difference is, if you are mentally ill, a felon, or a terrorist, you can’t have one. Doesn’t that seem normal to you?

      • Jen says:

        I wish we could bring people to our level. And I don’t think all teachers should have them, but someone, like a principal, should at the school to protect kids from random unexpected events, which happen too often. Or at least something like mace or a taser. And I agree mentally ill people should not have guns -terrorists and others included in that. But gun control only works for those who obey the law.

        • sbranch says:

          Even if he had a gun, with all those children around, it would have been under lock and key — these things happen so quickly, with no warning. I heard about how Australia changed their gun laws and was interested to read about it. If you look at the statistics, our country is so much more violent than other countries. If they can do it, I don’t see why we can’t.

      • Abbey says:

        The guns were sold to the killer’s MOM, not the killer. She was a law-abiding citizen. Let’s stick with the facts, please.

        • sbranch says:

          Well, really, I was talking about the guy in the movie theater. But it doesn’t matter. The mom shouldn’t have had access to a weapon built for war. No one should.

          • Lee Rose says:

            If she hadn’t had them, he couldn’t have taken them. I don’t believe for a minute that proximity and familiarity didn’t enable him.

          • sbranch says:

            It’s that enabling of the mentally ill that I, for one, would like to see curtailed.

    • Lee Rose says:

      Yes, evil people will always be able to get guns. But what if it is just a little harder, takes a little longer? What if, in the extra time it takes, someone sees a warning sign and can intervene? I’m not saying assault weapon control will change all tragic outcomes, but what if it does–just once?

      • sbranch says:

        I’ve been looking at how it works in other countries with more gun laws; violence goes down! Makes me feel so much better about it!

        • Jen says:

          I’m sure he was enabled, but I don’t doubt he planned it either, in my opinion, of course. In Spain, they have tough gun laws, but they also have a lot more bombings over there too. I am afraid if not one thing then it’s another. I just don’t believe gun laws will stop people like this. But if they did, just once, its hard to argue. But I worry about a slippery slope and people being able to protect themselves.

          • sbranch says:

            That really is protected by the 2nd amendment. It’s not ever going to change. I think the slippery slope is probably another scare tactic. We aren’t going to let that happen.

  60. cecelia says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’ve had that same sick/sad feeling too. Crying when I think of the victims. Thanks for the links and I will sign, write letters etc.

    I agree that we need to learn from this, do something to change, and move forward. We can’t let evil win.
    We can all “pay it forward” by doing positive things for strangers to counter this negativity. It can be a ripple effect.

    Love your blog and books. Can’t wait for your new one to come out.
    Take care! Peace 🙂

  61. Thank you so much, Susan, for motivating us to action. You have so many caring, compassionate followers. If we all share your message with just one other, and they do the same, then our legislators’ offices should be flooded. Thank you for making it easy for us to take action by clicking on the links and making the voice of sane, rational people known. Hopefully, those who wield power and control the purse strings will make the changes for the better happen. In addition, if all of us do conscious acts of kindness on a daily basis in response to this terrible tragedy, while it won’t make it any easier for those families who have lost a loved one, it will certainly help the one who receives the kindness.
    Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher, also had some wonderful suggestions for actions we can take to honor those fallen and make this world safer for our children. (including getting parent and children to “buckle up for safety.”) coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2012/12/remember-noble-fallen-teacher-4-ways-to.html?m=1
    Thanks again from Carolyn in CT

  62. Jan says:

    Do have to say one thing. My husband and I feel kids (and adults) now days are being desensitized by all the violent media , video games, movies , TV shows, etc. When our children were growing up there were certain TV shows they could not watch, etc. We as parents need to guide ( and protect) our children in the right direction. Am SOOO looking forward to that happy heart lifting post!

    • sbranch says:

      coming soon Jan.

    • Carol from Connecticut says:

      I’m a former el. school teacher. I recall a conversation with a very young boy that really scared me and still does. He described to me with a smile on his face the violent video game containing shooting that he couldn’t wait to get home to. After my questioning, he informed me that his parents knew about the content of this game. After more conversation with me he said that when people get shot in video games and TV shows they don’t really get hurt. It’s fake and there’s no pain or blood. I absolutely froze after hearing this young child’s words and how de-sensitized he was to violence. How many parents out there are allowing children to practice ‘fake’ killings with a form of media called a game ?!?!?!? The more you kill, the higher your score!

      • sbranch says:

        Curr A Zee.

      • Paulie says:

        In 2011, our dear Supreme Court ruled it was okay to sell violent video games to children in California……check it out……it’s true.

        • sbranch says:

          It is true.

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Unbelievable!!! Sometimes I think we should get rid of the TVs/or and listen to the news or some nice music while playing boardgames and doing skilled crafts with our young kids!!! Gardening is good too!

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            I don’t know how that first /or got in there? oops

          • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

            BBRRRR!!!!! that is so chilling to hear. i cannot imagine allowing a child to play such games or to allow them to view such videos…. my parents monitored what we watched as kids, why don’t they do that nowadays???

          • sbranch says:

            It was easier when I was a kid, the Mickey Mouse Club was all that was on TV!

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            I hope this ends up down below where I want it to go and not elsewhere, which will not make sense: “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!” (imagine that being sung…oh, that time of innocence… and it was in black and white, too, not color! 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            We gathered in crowds of children around the TV, we ran to the living room, the cry went out over the land, Mickey Mouse Club is on!!!

  63. Elizabeth Healy says:

    I not only took a stand, but, I shared your newsletter with friends … I hope they too shall take a stand! Perhaps as we all step up for what we think and believe we can make a difference and bring this horrendous violence to an end!

  64. Christine Aschbacher says:

    I too am very disturbed by the violence on television every day, in movies, in songs kids listen to and in the video games they play. I went Christmas shopping over the weekend,and here in a store is a gingerbread man cookie kit and on the cover the gingerbread is not cute and festive, he is a skeleton. I found this sick!
    I am a teacher but I do experience the good in people every day! People in our community and staff at our school contributed hundreds of gifts for needy families this Christmas. Thanksgiving food baskets were handed out to many families also. Staff buy students backpacks, clothes, coats and the list goes on and on. Any staff member in my school would have taken the same actions those teachers did in Connecticut. All of those students have a place in our heart.

    • sbranch says:

      People, for the most part, all the way across the world, are just good and loving. There are bad apples, but for the most part, they all want the same thing; to feel safe in their communities, to make a living wage, to have a little house, and to raise children in a healthy environment, among good friends and family. The world over.

  65. Amy Pavlovik says:

    Thank you, Susan, for putting this list together. I planned to write letters and this will help me get started. I am very much opposed to guns and I will try to do my part to help a change be made.

  66. Anna , Camano Island, WA says:

    I’m so glad you gave all those links in your post, you make it so easy for the rest of us, a great list to keep, not only for the situations being discussed here, but for any time we want to stand up for what we believe is right and good. If all the good people in the world would speak up, the voice would be deafening, because as you remind us through all of this, there is evil – yes, but there is so much more good to counter it. – Perhaps in 2013 we can make this world a gentler place for our children, we are their voice.

  67. Gail Buss says:

    Hi Susan, You know I’ve been thinking since I wrote earlier………….there are all kinds of guns. The only gun I ever held in my hand was a pellet gun for target practice years ago. The Killer in Aurora, CO had assault weapons and so did the one just now in Connecticut……….they wanted to take a lot of people “out”! Yes, they were very sick and needed help which I guess they didn’t get. It must be horrible to be so “mentally sick”. Maybe that is the way to go………….ban all assault weapons which I think are different from hunting guns or handguns. If these people want to take a lot of people “out” they then will resort to other things like bombs, hand grenades or whatever! If they are sick or evil and want to do such things……….they definitely will find a way. I remember right when the man in Scotland went into a school and killed a bunch of kindergartners, that is what prompted our principal to put in a buzzer system and we had a TV screen to the outside (all the doors were locked in the building) and we could see who was at the door and they had to announce who they were before we let them in. This evil act has been going on for years and years, but I’m guessing this particular time and being so close to Christmas that this is the icing on the cake. Well, maybe now something will get done one way or the other. I do wish they had better facilities for the mentally ill because most people are sane and normal but there will always be evil and mental illness. Gail Buss

  68. Judy Tracy says:

    Thank you, thank you for concrete suggestions as to how to express our grief and concern. Except for PBS NewsHour we have not been watching this onslaught of news. Was glad to see that my husband was moved by the picture of grief and consolation on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this morning.
    We can pray, and can write to the representatives you suggest. And we can make sure we are as kind and loving as possible to those around us. May God continue to comfort and heal that Newtown community, and guide us to His will for us to help.
    Judy Tracy, Newport Beach CA

  69. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    We must change our tears to action against these unbelievable atrocities! I couldn’t stop the tears until I went into action. Thank you for giving me and all the girlfriends the links for that action!

  70. Diana - Highland, IL says:

    Oh girl, you have said the things that should be said. I know that I have felt the heaviness of heart and an almost isolation in this horrible time since Friday. One of the first things I did was call my son, who is a teacher down in Fort Worth, TX. It was afternoon, and he had not heard anything until just before I called him as he was running between middle schools and doing things with his kids.. he is a band director. I also thought of a good friend who is a 5th grade teacher and another friend whose son is a teacher as well.. Her so and mine both teach in inner city schools and both LOVE their work and their kids. I want to thank you also for the links to do our civic duty. How can there be Peace on Earth without the Freedom from such violence and wrongdoing. I will do my part. Even though coming from a family of hunters, my Dad taught all the boys in our family the respect you need for guns and with dealing with them. I have never liked guns nor do I wish to own one, but I do not want to take that right from those that do. HOWEVER, the assault weapons MUST be banned. Clear heads must prevail in this. We will set our feet in the right path I feel, as you do, if we work together for the common good… (Can you tell I saw Lincoln recently!).. seriously though, I think we all need this season of Peace on Earth, Good Will to all and I know there is Joy in the World… I will never forget this time….. Joy and Peace to you and yours Susan. Love – Diana

  71. Cindy Tuning says:

    If there is anything in this world that is without reason, it’s that assault rifles are available for purchase by whoever wants to possess one. Other than a battlefield there is no logical reason for them to exist let alone be available. I worked as a nurse in a prison for 22 yrs and at the beginning and end of every shift we count needles and syringes as if someones life depended on it. One 5/8″ needle missing and nobody leaves until it’s accounted for. I know it sounds simple but shouldn’t the military account for these the same way…and have them only available to the military? Simple. Maybe now!!

  72. Beth Keser says:

    As important as gun control is, so is the care of mentally unstable people. Unfortunately, Connecticut has had major cutbacks in the mental health field. This means more and more people are out in the community that probably should be hospitalized. There is also a major stigma associated with mental health which keeps a lot of people from getting the care they need. It is also very expensive to treat mental health issues. I have been a nurse for 30 years and have seen many people go with out the care they need either because they can’t afford it, are embarrassed or have no access to help. And these people have access to guns, and have no regard to safety. Things NEED TO CHANGE!!

  73. Kelly H-Y says:

    Your post perfectly summed up what I’ve been feeling and thinking. Being from Portland, OR, and still in shock from the attack at our local mall just two days prior … I could hardly even stomach that it was happening a second time in the same week … and to a school, with sweet, innocent children and their wonderful staff/teachers. I have a son and daughter …. my daughter is the exact age/grade of those children. Between the two events this week, mostly the one in the school, my sense of basic safety has been rocked to the very core … especially in regard to protecting my children. As you said, there’s a constant sick feeling. Good will win and our prayers will be heard, but this has been a mighty tough one for our entire country. And, I agree … something good HAS to come of it … it will. For the sake of those innocent souls and their dear families … we have to make sure good comes of it. Thank you for the links.

  74. Jackie says:

    From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for this post! I feel strongly about the need to ban assualt riffles, create better support for our mentally ill, and work toward becoming a kinder, gentler nation. The statistics speak for themselves…. in a country the size of Canada, (without the gun obsession we seem to have here in the states), there were 200 gun related deaths last year, in the US, over 9,000 gun-related deaths. I feel we are being called to do what we can to make this world a safer place.
    Blessed are the peacemakers….. may peace on Earth prevail this season,

    • sbranch says:

      Those are the statistics that I think get lost when we have this national discussion. I don’t understand how the gun industry has gotten normal regular people to fight so hard for them! Thank you Jackie!

  75. Cathi McK says:

    Dear Susan,
    As mothers , as women and as keepers of the home, we need a rope to hold onto in these dark times while the angels weep…..Reminding of us the peace of the season and the sanity of routine is your gift…thank you…..Let us all hold hands around the Christmas tables and just wish for blessings of quiet joy…..

  76. Abbey says:

    Do you all realize that the police have not yet announced what type of guns the CT killer used? Do you realize they were registered to his mom, a law-abiding citizen (as far as we know)?

    Most of what is being discussed here would not even have stopped the tragedy in CT. If you want to do something to help children, reach out to the abused and neglected kids that we have in our society right now, there are millions.

    BTW, many violent video games already have age limits. Parents need to be responsible for what their kids are watching. Schools can’t do it, the government can’t do it. When you starting “banning” things, you are going down a slippery slope. This is a free society, the only one on earth.

    Do you realize in England, yes the England that Susan loves, you can be arrested for “hate speech” and put in jail? Is this the “freedom” we want??

    Thinking that the government can regulate a perfect world misses the whole point. Someday, what you value will be regulated and “banned”.

    Has anyone heard of that horrible group that wants to “demonstrate” at the CT funerals? AWFUL. But good, wonderful people will exercise their rights too and surround this group with white robes and high angel wings, so no families can see them. Both groups live in a world where their rights are protected, but the good is still able to overcome the bad.

  77. Pat C. says:

    Thank you, Susan, for helping your readers to generate their thoughts positively and to try and do something to take away the sadness in our hearts.

    I travel through Newtown each day on my way to work and see the memorials of teddybears and flowers and signs in front of businesses and private homes. I know people who live there and in the Sandy Hook section and their lives have been changed forever. The funerals are taking place this week and it is heartbreaking to see the hearse going to the church. To hear that instead of flower memorials, there are wreaths made up of teddybears.

    Our hearts ache for the parents, siblings, and families of all the victims. Their lives will never be the same and our country will never be the same. Let us hold them all in our thoughts and in our prayers.

  78. Jeanie in Latham, NY says:

    Thanks for sharing all the letters about the tragedy in the Connecticut elementary school. I am a retired teacher of first grade children, so I am devastated by these deaths. I don’t want guns in any homes in America because I believe in life for all living beings. Since this recent event, several sport stores have announced a suspension of the sale of guns in their stores. I plan on not buying anything at stores, including Walmart, that offer guns for sale. I will write these stores letters to explain my lack of support of their gun sales. I also am unable to bear watching movies or television with violence whether true depictions or fiction. If young people are not exposed to violence in film, television, music and games, perhaps they will be kinder, gentler people who act with love instead of hate. Perhaps the media companies will start producing more positive forms of entertainment.
    Blessings to all at this sad time.

    • sbranch says:

      There was a movie in the late 1960’s called Stiletto! That was the first and the last violent movie I ever saw — I just went with someone and there it was! I don’t know how people can stand it! But that’s just me. Now I guess they are even worse, and on your phone if you want them! There is a quest for money in this world that knows no bounds.

  79. Joann says:

    The things that Christine talks about (the skeleton gingerbread house) are there because there is a market for these things, so the best way to not have these things around is to not buy them.

    I look for homemade things and darling things that reflect what I like and I don’t spend too much time looking at things which don’t make me smile. I do believe that most of us want the same things: food, shelter, love….

    The best way to make the world better, even though we are just one person, each of us, is to be our best, do our best, and when we learn how to do or be better….do and be better. Be examples for others, write letters as Susan suggests and get our feelings known about what is important to us, and love those around us completely….for it is our priceless love that is the greatest gift to others.

    Merry Christmas….Happy Holidays to you all…. and Blessings, Peace, and Joy in 2013.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, no I don’t think I will be buying a skeleton gingerbread house — I’m with you Joann, I want “darling things!” 🙂

  80. Cindy says:

    Thank you, Susan! We are not powerless, this darkness will not overtake the world. We won’t let it.

  81. Kirsten Wichert of Southern California says:

    Thank you, Susan…..for pointing us in the right direction. I’m working on something positive now. It’s time the “Good” wins over the “Bad” in the world. We can all do something. I love you!

  82. Mary Ann says:

    I answered your call Susan and have signed other petitions as well. As the stepmother to a grown son who has struggled all his life with mental illness I can say the laws and mental health system are totally broken. Bits and pieces, overmedicated, no medications, no really help or support for parents once he aged out of the juvenile system. So as you’ve said so well, we have a lot to do and we have to start.

  83. Hello Susan/All, I have hesitated even commenting on this powder keg issue of our “rights” and this is what I feel is the bigger risk if we do not stop the cycle of violence in this Country. For every “right” there is a “wrong” and (in my opinion), if we arm our teachers and heaven forbid someone shoots their way into another school and the Principal pulls out a gun and actually shoots how is there any guarantee an innocent child isn’t coming down the hallway and hit by a stray bullet?? I don’t think fear and matching violence with violence is the solution here, there are little eyes/ears watching and listening and I don’t think that is the proper message to promote? We have got to address the mental illness issue in this Country which has always been hidden by some families out of shame, and ignored by the most part by society until something happens like it did in CT and for a second it comes to the top of the chart until it is pushed down and ignored. I’m not saying this is done by all families who have children with issues because that would be presumptuous on my part. We all love our children and want only the best for them; but, if you notice something that isn’t right you have got to fight to get the proper help for them without the mindset that they will “outgrow” it!!! The streets in America are filled with Mentally Ill Homeless because the institutions/society have abandoned them in their time of need. There are so many social issues involved in the recent horror in CT and believe me when I say this….unless the laws are brought up to the 21st Century it will not be the last violence involving guns to occur. Rights vs Wrongs….every child has the right to grow up in a happy, safe environment and to be able to go into a school to learn, invent, grow, mature into a self confident productive citizen. The wrong is children entering their schools surrounded by adults fearful of an intruder/violence and having to use a weapon to end the life of someone’s child who somewhere along the way was let down by the same laws protecting our rights to bear arms! We need a balance in our Government both local/federal, that our Doctors while protecting a persons rights are not preventing their families to secure treatment/admittance to a facility to give them care. We have got to have longer memories and stop becoming jaded to violence lest these 26 souls will be lost and forgotten and there lies the true tragedy in this heartbreaking story. I’m sorry for this long comment Susan, we have got to hold accountable those who encourage our “at risk” citizens in our society by making money off of selling violent videos, movies, weapons, to them just to turn a profit. I feel it is everyone’s responsibility to protect our children by encouraging (no insisting) that the wrong in this world becomes right. Thank you for your heart and willingness to speak out for those who may not be able. Blessings

  84. Rebecca says:

    My heart is still so heavy burdened and still praying for the families. Yes, its not the guns, its the sick, evil people that use them for the wrong reasons.
    I look forward to your happy blogs, we all need lifted up at this time of tragedy.
    thank you

  85. Melissa in Seattle says:

    I came to my “Happy Place” after a long day at work. Coming to your blog, Susan, gives me a glimpse of Heaven seeing God’s Creation through your eyes and seeing His gift to you through your creativity that you share. Today it was not my usual “Happy Place”. Today it is just more of the political issues of the day that I am so very tired of – topics like gun control. I stopped and asked God to forgive me for putting you on a pedestal. Of course you are human – you need to vent! Only God is where I can truly turn to for rest. Evil has been with us since the beginning with bad choices we have made with free will God has bestowed to us. Evil is here to stay as long as individuals refuse to repent of it. When we learn what we are doing is wrong (God’s only definition of right and wrong recognized by all the major religions), and decide we want to do what is right and ask for salvation through Jesus Christ, then there is hope. I am confident that God will take this horrible tragedy and make something good come out of it in His way and in His time. In the meantime, I will try to love God more and love others more (which includes protecting them from evil with my gun, keys, bat, knife – whatever I can grab). And, of course, I will continue to peek at my delightful Susan Branch books, calendars, and blog for a little bit of Heaven until I get there.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sorry Melissa, looking at the eyes of those children, God moved me to try to help. I didn’t think everyone would agree with me, I covered many subjects in my post, everything from assault rifles to mental health — I thought there might be something there for everyone. I don’t really feel this to be a political issue, although I know that others do; I feel like it’s a common sense loving reaction to seeing children die in a most horrific way … and wanting to do something. I do thank you for your comments and hear you.

    • Holly says:

      Melissa, I can appreciate what you’re saying because this blog, to me, is a beautiful place to spend some time. However, if Susan never addressed this topic at all, some would have called her insensitive. No matter what our thoughts on the subject/s are, I think this is an excellent opportunity to have a much-needed discussion about some hard things.

      • sbranch says:

        When I gathered these links, I didn’t see this at all as any kind of political statement … when I saw those little faces, the pictures and the eyes of those babies, I just felt that I had to do something. It’s been interesting and informative to see the different responses; I’m thankful it’s been as thoughtful as it has — and as full of love and caring.

        • Holly says:

          I know we all want to “do something”. What that “something” is has created all the interesting responses! 🙂

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        I agree Holly. Susan is a stand up kind of gal. We should all speak up. No one is saying a Christian doesn’t have the right to bear arms Melissa. We don’t need the guns my son uses in time of War to be used for hunting or sportsmanship or even self-defense. These guns shouldn’t be issued to anyone, but military. I know the point that they get out there anyway, but every little bit helps. No one should be able to purchase a gun if they haven’t taken a course and had a background check! I never tell anyone this…I am a Christian (Lutheran), I have taken hunter’s safety, and I have gone out to our woods with my father. I don’t see the purpose in automatic weapons for everyday folk. And maybe women should take a self defense classes.
        Please do not criticize the one who gave us a voice here!!!

  86. Linda says:

    Why don’t we ban cars for all the children & adults they kill everyday? Why don’t we ban books that glorify evil? Why don’t we ban movies that are violent? Your griefs are misplaced. The guns did not kill these people…….a very sick man killed them–yes man–20 years old. Killing has been going on forever–ban arrows, ban knives, ban rocks, ban frying pans…….they all kill. And mental illness? Too many people abused the mental health system by committing people for their own personal gain…….new laws put into affect so that it protected you–yes you…and me….and Susan…….so that this was not so easy to do. I am not in favor of assault weapons but that is not what killed these children and teachers……..a man killed them. And again….”Why did you let this happen Lord”…and he replied “You won’t let me in your schools anymore.”

    • sbranch says:

      One thing I think goes wrong when we weave our way through this very emotional subject (which I don’t really understand why it’s so emotional, but it is) is the generalization of “guns.” No one wants to take away the right to own guns or change the Second Amendment. It’s rapid-fire assault rifles we are talking about, which have been banned in this country before, leaving the 2nd amendment intact. You know our congress (lobbied by the NRA) passed laws allowing gun shows to sell any gun without background checks? Meaning that terrorists, mentally ill, felons, can all buy assault weapons there. Is that really what you want? Why? What good does that do you personally? We know why the NRA wants it, just follow the money, but why you Linda? How would it personally affect you if assault weapons were banned?

      As for “too many people abusing the mental health system” that’s the way insurance agencies might explain why it’s OK to dodge the difficult issue of the mental problems that are wounding our families. There are common sense answers we could come up with if we tried. If you’ve never had to look for help in the mental health system, you don’t realize how difficult it is to find any help whatsoever at all. Slowly, over the years, funds have been cut, hospitals closed. It’s easy to cut funds for those people; who lobbies on their behalf? They don’t have an NRA pushing to sell more assault weapons, or an insurance company with full-time lobbyists whose only job is to get laws passed that allow them to cut services and raise prices.

      We are doomed if we don’t speak up for ourselves.

      For me, God is love; I know it with every fiber of my being. We, all Americans, are the parents of those children and their deaths should matter for something. We, Independents, Democrats, and Republicans, all moms and dads, sisters and brothers, should be doing a better job protecting them.

      • Linda says:

        Again…….sorry if the way I wrote this made it unclear what I was trying to express. I DO think assault weapons should be banned….I do believe in closer background checks on who buys guns, I do believe in waiting periods for purchasing a gun……….but people get hysterical and start wanting to ban all guns and I am not for that. When you ban anything…..Prohibition is a good example……..bad people still get ahold of the banned object and turn it into a very profitable business. It doesn’t stop people getting drunk . As for the comment on keeping God out of school…again it was an analogy……..you can’t have it both ways……..ban the use of his name and then turn around and tell people —oh it is okay to use his name at home and church..just not out in public. Sorry that my inablilty to communicate what I was saying caused you any more grief than you are already feeling.

        • sbranch says:

          There is a group of people out there who, when we try to talk about specifics, such as assault weapons, they say we want to ban all guns. If you read the comments here, you’ll see that isn’t true. But that’s what they say to scare people. They do the same thing with God. They say we are trying to take Him out of our lives. They say we have a War on Christmas. Those are also lies. “Under God” is still in the Pledge of Allegiance, you can see it HERE. Once you know that you have been lied to, look elsewhere for your information. Fear is the biggest controller of people, it is being used all day long, don’t give into it.

          You are what I love, a person who is caring enough to be involved.

    • Holly says:

      A god that is petulant enough to stay out of the schools just because mere humans did not allow him there is not a god worth worshiping. If you believe there is a God of the universe, then don’t you think we could not keep Him from the public arena if He chose to be there?

      • Holly says:

        My comment is in reply to Linda’s last sentence.

        • Diane Harris says:

          Holly, I’m sorry you feel this way about God. My understanding and belief is that God gave us free will starting with Adam and Eve. It is man’s free will to commit these acts and deal with the consequences. In this case I think there will be light out of the darkness. If nothing else than the ban on assault weapons, I think it will happen.

          • sbranch says:

            I think Holly wasn’t really saying that as something real, but just using it as an example in reply to another comment.

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            Excellent Diane!!! Thank is what I was going to say to explain it. Very confusing to some and that is why God wants us to study.
            I agree with Susan that Holly was using this as an example. However, when go sends us a “special child” I questioned the free will thing. God knows who can handle it. I believe Holly and Diane are strong women.

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            It should say God not go. It is time for me to stop typing and go garden!

          • Holly says:

            Sorry, Diane, I’m getting too philosophical for my own good! 🙂 I will try to explain myself better – here goes………..I have heard the same theme over and over in the past few days – basically, that this tragedy was allowed by God to happen in a public school because, by removing prayer and Bible reading from the school day, we have ejected God from our schools. I most definitely believe in God but the God I believe in is not powerless and did not “sit by” and let this happen just because we said he wasn’t allowed in public schools. God has been painted out to either be some kind of child, who is sulking in the corner because we kicked him out of public schools or as some evil “whack-a-mole” in the sky who can’t wait to “get us” when we reject him. I think statements such as this misrepresent who God is and so I decided to address it here.

            I agree – there will be light out of darkness…….if not, why bother getting out of bed in the morning??

        • Linda says:

          Read comment below…….sorry I put this so you couldn’t understand it.

      • Linda says:

        This is why I don’t write for a living! Of course God is everywhere but when you teach children that the use of his name is banned and his birth celebration is banned and his name is banned from our Pledge of Allegiance what is the message they are receiving. THey grow up with this edict and all of a sudden we wonder why they do sinful things? Maybe they are as confused by this as I am……it was just an analogy………

        • sbranch says:

          Who is banning His birth celebration? The entire world is celebrating Christmas right this moment. God is not banned in school, He is in the heart of every child. Do you think that humans have the POWER to ban God? He is the Power and the light, and He cannot BE banned. He gets to go wherever He wants.

          • Linda says:

            The state I formerly resided forbid any Christmas celebration of the Nativity in schools……..no manger scenes etc. ….no Hark the Herald songs……that is what I was referring to……….guess I will give up on this trying via email to express my thoughts. You also could not say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance……..so maybe is a city, state, thing?Sorry again…Merry Christmas I think.

          • sbranch says:

            A separation of church and state is truly a good thing. Fundamentalist countries like Iran, Afganistan, and Saudi Arabia have law that is based upon Sharia Law and there is no separation. So if the law says women should not be educated, then the state must agree. In England when our forefathers came here, they had no separation of church and state either. That’s why the pilgrims left England, so they could practice their faith without government intervention. That’s why our founding fathers kept religion free, not to be ordained by the state. This is true. And a very Merry Christmas to you Linda, because we have freedom of religion in this wonderful country of ours!

        • Holly says:

          Linda, I think you expressed yourself very well – I was just trying to clarify what I said, which may have been unclear. Please don’t be frustrated…..I’m glad you’re here, adding an important voice to this discussion!

          I don’t believe children will be confused IF they are being instructed by their original and best teachers – their parents. If children hear something conflicting at school, then it is the parents job to set it straight with their child. I believe this is why homeschooling has seen a resurgence of late among people with all different beliefs…….they don’t want their children growing up conflicted in those formative, younger years. Too many parents want to hand their children over to the public schools and abdicate all responsibility for them. THOSE parents shouldn’t be surprised, then, when their children are conflicted and don’t know which way to turn.

    • jeri landers says:

      I agree with you !00% Linda!
      “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants.” –Cesare Beccaria, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book
      And how’s about we stop the demonization of the NRA. They got so much hate filled venom after this shooting, they closed down their Twitter and Facebook pages.

  87. Pam Fortune says:

    Hi Susan
    Such a sad time and your sentiments are so true, let us hope that the new year brings more love and common sense. We have had a lot of the sorrowful sights on the English news and we all know how you are feeling because we have had to go through the same horrors too over the years. However, just to finish my thoughts I would just like to say that when I saw your painting of the red headed young girl it made me start because it is so like my eldest daughter Fleur when she was a young girl. Be happy Susan and enjoy the Christmas festivities in your beautiful home with Joe and the the kitties.

  88. Paulie says:

    Dear Susan:
    As always you seem to zero in like an archer on how we are all feeling. Thank you so much for the links. Between those and doing a random act of kindness, it helps to allow us to be a part of the mourning process in a greater way. For myself, I will be making a donation for each child who has passed – to the St. Jude’s hospital for the children who are suffering from cancer. It is a very small act of kindness but it helps to heal the heart and soul today. Thank you Susan.

  89. Paulie says:

    Second comment and afterthought after reading the comments today:

    After reading the comments – it serves as a good example of why the nation is at such a disagreement on how to tackle important issues: Blame can be laid at every corner except in our own responsibility to acknowledge the real issues! How are each of us taking part in the problem? Is it by denial, is it by blaming the other guy, is it be being totally refusing to sacrifice what we demand over someone else, is it by pretending all if fine and going about our business because that is more important than others, is it sheer refusal to recognize the disintegration of our families, the lack of respect for human life, is it the refusal to acknowledge the principles this nation was founded upon? Is it the total lack of regard for rules and regulations in order to afford ourselves the rights we claim we have over everyone else? A lot to ponder – and where do we begin to bring our nation back to the great nation it once was? No amount of rules, no amount of anything will do that until we are once again ready to put ourselves last and others first again. To love each other, to respect each other and allow each other to worship once again as they desire to without being marginalized……….yes, we have a world and a century to change ahead of us. Thanks for allowing me to comment in this way. WE all need to change in one way or another, be it, our way of lives, or our thoughts or our attitudes. We need to put others first rather than ourselves. Thank you Susan for such great responses to the comments in this post. You are dead on.

    • Rosanna says:

      Paulie – thank you – you said it all when you said: WE need to change – WE need to do something and WE will! This has been the straw that broke the camel’s back – this isn’t going to be brushed aside like all the times before – from what I am seeing here and in other places, people have had enough. This is going to be quiet and forceful and I think that those who oppose doing anything will find themselves on the outside looking in. Regardless of your ‘category’ in life you are first and foremost a HUMAN BEING and deserve to be treated with love and respect – not violence. We ALL have to work together – and if some have to sacrifice their weapons, etc, they need to realize it is for the good of ALL and not some plot to take away their ‘rights’. Think beyond yourself people – this is not about YOU!

  90. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~Good Morning~
    I just wanted to say “thank you ” Susan for giving us girlfriends the opportunity to voice our opinions this past week.
    Even though we do not always agree ~we Americans~ are very fortunate in deed to be able to have a place ~ such as your blog to come too.
    Let’s let the healing to begin ~ I for one am waiting in hope~
    Please count every day a blessing!

  91. Nancy says:

    Thank you for your comments and the links to action, Susan. I was a teacher for 35 years and taught kindergarten for half of those years. It breaks my heart that these sweet innocent children were targeted and killed. There are so many areas we need to address to try to correct all these issues. I’m watching TV this morning and crying as they show people at funerals in Newtown. So heartbreaking.

    I do find it hard to believe that some people think that the answer lies in arming the school personnel. That seems to be the worst idea ever. That would mean there would be guns around children. Never a good idea. I am amazed that some have said that if the principal had had a gun at Sandy Hook, she could have stopped him. Given that the gun would have had to be locked away, the principal would have needed time to get it, unlock it and damage would have already occurred. I hope this idea is dropped and never gains any footing.

    This is a call to action, and this time we must continue to make some much needed corrections to our gun laws and mental health assistance as well.

    Thank you again for your words.

    • sbranch says:

      I agree Nancy, it’s a terrible idea. More violence does not breed peace. But all the statistics say, where there are less guns, there are less shootings.

  92. Jamie from Virginia says:

    Good Morning! There are SO MANY AMAZING WOMEN AND MEN HERE!!!!! I have spent the last few days reading all of the comments posted and crying…crying for the children and teachers lost, for all children, for all of us. Thank you to everyone who has posted such personal experiences, your stories, your grief, your frustrations, your anger, your tears, your optimism and ideas for improving our world.

    I’m going to throw in my humble opinion :-)….. I think the issues come down to two things. One being a very poor mental health system in this country. And two, our society’s unfortunate acceptance, tolerance and desensitization to violence.

    I have been a nurse for 25 years, a quarter century (YIKES!) and at one point worked as a Psychiatric Nurse. At that time there were at least mental health hospitals. Now there are so very few. Most have closed due to lack of financial reimbursement from the insurance companies. The insurance companies began running the mental health system essentially deciding who and who would not get mental health care, just as they do now for other medical conditions. There has always been stigma attached to mental health problems, consider that historically many of those with a mental health disorder were considered to be witches and hung. I agree with Susan that the brain is an organ, and it can have a “dis-ease” just as our lungs, kidneys and liver can have disease. There needs to be attention put on our mental health system immediately. Instead of trying to build up other countries, take some of those gazillion bazillion dollars sent overseas and take care of our society in this country so we can truly be the leaders of the free world.

    As for the other piece, in my opinion, our society’s desire for and acceptance (and subsequent desensitization to) violence is a huge piece of this. It sounds cliche, but guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I don’t understand the fascination with guns, although I do know how to shoot (and actually know how to make my own musket balls and shoot a musket as well…..that’s a long story for another day). Everywhere you look now there are violent images or references. Violence has always been part of history, look at the Romans and their blood fights I call them or the Mafia/Gangster fights in the 20th century or Charles Manson. But for me the difference is these images were not available 24/7. The brain cannot disengage from the violence and rest in what is, or should be, the normal every day stuff of life. I personally don’t think it is healthy for children or adults to spend hours playing violent video games or watching maiming and killing on television. This is a society issue, a parenting issue, a family issue, a mental health issue. It detracts from how we should really be interacting with other people, how we should problem solve effectively. Couple this desensitized attitude with a mental health disorder and you have a recipe for a tragedy. Would a ban on assault rifles make a difference? Honestly I don’t think so. For the life of me I don’t understand why anyone would want an AK47 or some such gun but a deranged person will use whatever weapon they can get their hands on. If you consider that with a large capacity clip in a handgun you can do as much damage as an assault rifle, especially if you are a two-fisted shooter.

    The bottom line for me is that our country’s focus needs to be on our mental health system and our family systems, rather than gun control. The deranged people will just choose another weapon. Maybe testing children as they come up through grades and directing them in to mental health resources? Making our families more cohesive? Active parenting? Getting children AND ADULTS mental health assistance? I don’t know the big answers, but I do believe if each one of us takes the responsibility to guide our young people (our children or others) in a positive direction every single chance we get, no matter how tired or busy we are, then collectively it could have a positive impact on the direction our society is taking.

    Now…as I carry prayers in my heart for those CT families of the children and teachers, for those that survived and must carry on….and for anyone who has EVER been affected by such dreadful tragedy in their lives…..I am putting my rose colored glasses back on and doing what I can to contribute to making a positive place in the world.

    ~ Jamie

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you, love your rose colored glasses! Just one thing Jamie, take a look at the statistics from other countries (via Google), just to see. Where those large clips have been banned, where there are less guns, and/or more laws governing them, there is less gun violence. In fact, violence on the whole lessens. Which I think is very heartening to learn.

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        susan i would to agree with Jamie on alot that was said here and in all the comments, its not just an issue of removing assault rifles from the general public, and mental health issues, its also about family issues and the family itself. parents need to monitor what type of games their children are playing, and what kind of tv programs and videos that they are viewing and remove alot of the violence in the home. and then i think the media is also to blame here, like Jamie said when the Manson murders took place, the images were not available 24/7 like they are now and i think the media has gone too far in reporting the horrible incidents to the viewing public. they claim that we the public have a right to know, well we don’t. there are just certain things that we don’t need to know about, that are very private and therefore none of our business. we know these families are in a great deal of pain, and i say its time for the media to pack it up and go home and leave them to grieve in peace, and to go with the business of living. our prayers, thoughts and good wishes go out to them, but there is a time to leave them alone and let them grieve in private. we as a society have become very desensitized to the violence, our children more so, time for that to stop and for each child to learn that life is very precious, that there is good in this world as well as evil and to tell the difference between the 2 and to deal with them. i see so much of the world tragedies blared out from our tv sets each day 24/7 and so little focus on the good that is around us. take a look around you, you will see tiny acts of random kindness happening everyday, a man sees a homeless guy shivering and gives him the jacket off his back to warm him and then goes into a burger place and buys that homeless guy a meal to warm him up inside, a neighbor helps out an elderly neighbor by bringing over firewood, hot food and clothes so they can be warm and safe in these hard times, neighbors helping out neighbors in times of disaster, these and many more random acts of kindness are not in the news and i think i would rather hear about that than all the evil done in the world 24/7. ther will always be evil, and there will always be good, they coexist and always will be there. but it is now time to take our children aside and start teaching them to simple basic morals and values we learned as children, the respect for life we were taught and the appreciation of love, beauty and caring for others other than ourselves. i hope we by this blog we are able to help make some changes for the better in this world, and i hope each of us will never forget to take that time to hug and hold close our precious children and let them know they are loved, safe and very much an important part of our world today. off my soap box and on to housework. peace everyone. hugs…… 🙂

      • Jamie from Virginia says:

        Morning Susan! I don’t disagree with the ban on assault weapons, I just am not convinced it will solve the problem. It feels bigger than that to me, it may help but it won’t solve it. I don’t think the general public should have military style weapons, makes no sense to me, they are designed for combat not for games. You are right, the statistics do show in alot of countries the decline of violence when certain guns were banned (except Washington DC, I saw handgun homicides went up by 73%), but it brings up more questions for me. What is their cultural difference? What is their society’s view on violence, how acceptable is it in the culture? What are the family statistics, solid homes vs. broken homes, divorces, etc.? What is their mental health system like? What is their entertainment culture like? Thank you again for opening this gentle place to discuss such ugliness. So many smart women here, we could fix it all if they would get out of our way!!! LOL…

        • sbranch says:

          We could! You’re probably right, it might not solve it, but it sure couldn’t hurt! There are 31 states that have no background checks, so that makes it hard for the places in between. There’s really no place to hide.

  93. Paula from Surprise, AZ says:

    Susan, thank you for your important post. I appreciate the forum that you gave for everyone to express their thoughts and feelings about this incomprehensible tragedy and the important issues surrounding it. I really cannot add anything new to what has been said here. I do want to say that I truly can’t wait to see your next post because it will bring joy and beauty to our day…after all, that is what you do best and I am so grateful when I have a few moments to drink it in and have my day brightened. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. Oh, and thanks for sharing Jack….and Joe…and Girl Kitty…your charming home. Merry Christmas to all.

    • sbranch says:

      I promise to do it soon, just want to finish the two pages I’m working on for the book and then I’ll be here!

      • Paula from Surprise, AZ says:

        Not trying to push you…just saying that I am trying to stay in balance with what is happening and being discussed. May you be blessed as you create.

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Paula!

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          Hey Paula! You leave near one of my childhood friends and “The Odd Couple”(My two sons). I hope to get out there in January.
          How do you do sand in December??? You could spray it white. No…it would drift and turn brown like snow in March in WI. LOL

          • Paula from Surprise, AZ says:

            When we want to see snow, we can go two hours north of Phoenix, up to the mountains, and see snow. Believe it or not, we have two ski areas in Arizona. Enjoy your time out here in January, but bring a jacket we do have chilly weather here in what we call winter.

  94. Martha says:

    Just signed the petition.
    Martha from CT

  95. If I may just one last thought on this subject about GOD NOT BEING IN SCHOOLS…..who are we kidding GOD IS EVERYWHERE whether he is wanted or not?? This is HIS WORLD and he can end it whenever HE chooses I would think every Christian knows this. This World is not going to be pristine and perfect (Garden of Eden)…..GOD (and I don’t even begin to speak for HIM); but, as a Christian I am going to stand up for HIM….GOD gives us his blessings and lessons for each one of us to go out into HIS WORLD and work together in the unity and goodness that each of us holds in our hearts. Blaming GOD like we always do when things get tough is just to easy and not the answer. I truly believe on that horrific morning in CT HE was there with every child/teacher killed with tears in his eyes and carried each and every one of them into Heaven. This Country has always tried to keep Church/State separate and that isn’t working because every time a child is taking an exam do you not think each and every one of them pray for GODS help?? GOD is the I AM he is not the sinner each and every one of us are!!! Let us put the blame where it should be in this case on “hopeless/scared” people and honor all victims of violence with our prayers to our GOD for HIS guidance and love to make HIS WORLD a safer haven for each of us to live in. Amen

  96. Melissa Quarles says:

    Susan, you expressed my feelings perfectly….I wish the sick feeling would leave but in a way I guess it is a good thing that something so horrifying makes a lasting impression on me….thanks for the links…very useful and it makes me feel as if I am doing something besides praying. God bless us everyone….thanks Tiny Tim…we need it now more than ever!

  97. Thank you for all the links. You saved me the trouble. I live an hour away from Aurora and have only been to the theatre once since the shooting. I am afraid every time my daughter goes to school. I know it’s not healthy to live in fear. But you’re right it’s hard to know what to do. I think it is time to take some action. These links will help me to do that. In the meantime, I will try to make Christmas a joyful time for my family, pour on the love, and send prayers and positive thoughts out to the world.

  98. Lori from Maine says:

    Susan, thank you so much for your posts. So many of us have been able to vent – even if we don’t all agree with everyone’s opinions. I agree with Deborah Heater, God WAS in that school and he DID carry those babies and their caregivers to heaven and he DID have tears in his eyes.
    I’ve been crying and feeling so sad since Friday, not knowing what I could do. Thank you for the links you posted – I’ve signed petitions, written letters, etc. I love the idea of the 26 random acts of kindness – imagine, that idea is spreading all over the country and probably the world. I’ve sent Christmas cards with notes thanking the first responders. These are the addresses that I saw in the “26 acts” post:
    Connecticut State Police
    Public Information Office
    1111 Country Club Road
    Middletown, CT 06457
    Newtown Police Department
    3 Main Street
    Newtown, CT 06470
    Monroe Police Department
    7 Fan Hill Road

    • Lori from Maine says:

      oops, hit the “reply” button by mistake…
      Monroe Police Department
      7 Fan Hill Road
      Monroe, CT 06468
      The article didn’t list the address for the Newtown Volunteer Fire Department, but I imagine a street address isn’t really needed.
      I can’t really do anything personal for the CT first responders, but I decided to bake some cookies and bring them to the SW Hbr. Police Dept. and Volunteer Fire Department. They deserve some love!!
      You’re very, very diplomatic Susan. There are a few comments from the girlfriends that really bothered me, but you very nicely made your opinion known!! I don’t know if I could have been so sweet about some of them!! 🙂
      Thank you again for allowing the girfriends to “meet” here. I think it’s helped a lot of us to read the different posts. I know it’s helped me.
      love from SW Hbr., ME

      • sbranch says:

        I want more than anything to just be able to talk about things, between us girls, so to speak, like in the solving way of things. After yesterday, I do not know how those “shock jocks” do that all the day long … just yak hysterically about politics! It wears a person out!

  99. Charlene H. from So. Calif. (S.F.Valley) says:

    So…to the list of creative talents and personal attributes you so generously share with us, I add “clear-headed thinking, even-handedness, and courage.” Yes, I am one of the Bible-believing, God-fearing, right, and appreciate the Girlfriends who proclaim our faith. Yet, this forum that you have created with this particular post provides a much needed dialog of salient points that MUST be addressed by the public, by this nation. Removing oneself from this conversation is to stick one’s head in the sand. I read each comment and was riveted by the spectrum of diverse opinion and heartened by the care and concern. I so appreciate the thoughtful words of differing opinions. Thank you for providing this “safe place” for discourse. I will follow through with action. With much appreciation…

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