My husband asks me what I want for Christmas each year and for the first time I feel like my answer to this question means I am “officially” an adult. I’ve qualified by age for nearly decades now, but far too often I don’t feel like one. Until these words slipped out of my mouth: “I don’t need anything, babe.”
What surprised me is that I actually meant it. I wasn’t just playing coy or throwing out platitudes this time—trying to be a good mom, save money, want less. I wracked my brain for a minute attempting to think of something that could pique my interest, fit tidily in a box, stack neatly under a tree or in a stocking, but I came up empty.

For the first time in my life, I’m beginning to realize that the things I need most, the things I really want, aren’t available with Prime shipping from Amazon. Not even close.

Barely over a week ago the news slammed onto my screen, a man armed with a pipe bomb entered a New York City subway corridor. The tangible damage was minimal considering the potential, but the collateral damage reverberated through my screen, thousands of miles from the epicenter. A mere month ago a gunman ran into a church, a church, and ended the lives of a couple dozen people, injuring even more.
How is this even possible? I instantly wanted to click away, toss my phone across the room and go lock my doors. Maybe I should bar the windows while I am at it. Because what kind of world do we live in when even a church isn’t safe or sacred anymore? I felt an ache something deep, an ache that a new watch or a cute pair shoes wrapped in shiny red packaging couldn’t begin to fill. How do I raise kids here, now? In this world? I don’t live in New York City, but it is on my list of places to visit with my family. I have second thoughts right about now, but if I go down that road I may as well second guess churches, schools, the mall. Anywhere, everywhere. What does a mom with a small tribe to nurture and protect do when nothing feels safe anymore? How does she raise healthy and well-balanced children in what the news keeps telling me is an unhealthy and unbalanced world? I quietly debated the pros and cons of boarding up the windows. Moving off the grid.. Anything. But somehow I know this would come with its own issues. And then I decided. I know what I want for Christmas. All I want is courage. The courage to engage culture and address fear. The courage to lay my own fears aside to pass courage on to my children. The courage to stare down the hard and raise kids who are aware, engaged, informed and empowered to do the right thing. The courage to stand up for the weak and weary—to get in a car and chase down evil like that man did in Texas. I know without a doubt that the most effective step I can take toward a better world begins right here in my home. The nearest people I can reach and teach with love and kindness are these little people in my care. I can teach them the value of human life and a respect for religion and their country, too. Holing up in my home sounds easier and maybe even safer, in the aftermath of a sordid newsfeed, but change can begin with me, my kids, my family—if I’m brave enough to take on the work. The truth is, the headlines might not get better next week. Or next month. But the demand for our world to raise up brave leaders who don't shirk from fear but do the right thing in spite of the evils and perils of our time, is greater than ever. And it’s going to take brave moms to do that. The world needs, and will continue to need, more brave mothers, fathers and children. And as mothers we monitor the incubators of courage. We get to pour it in and watch it flourish, while we keep growing a courage of our own. Let it begin with us. So yes—courage—that is what I want for Christmas this year. And the bravery to believe that goodwill is still possible, so that we might not be robbed of hope in the New Year ahead.