Sandy Klein

Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don't, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it. – Harvey Mackay

This time of year I think a lot about faith. As a parent I believe it’s my job to prepare my kids to help make our world better. Several years ago I began to realize that, although not intentionally, my religious understanding was nonexistent. As often happens, once I become more self aware, God creates opportunities for me to grow. But first, the Klein’s…

In my house we are Christians. We celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the eternal life in heaven that he gave us. I am strong in this faith, and would not waiver from my beliefs. I also do not hide my beliefs. They guide me and give me strength. They are my beliefs, and I will proudly share them with anyone. We do not live in a closed world. Thankfully I’m free to be a Christian, and still accept the beliefs of others. You see the Bible clearly tells me that it isn’t my job to judge others.

So, once I free myself from judging others, I’m open to understanding them. Understanding is not agreeing. I think that’s where people get hung up. They either think they have a right to judge, or they believe that their own faith will be questioned if they create a life of coexistence. Once you open up, if you let it happen, some pretty amazing things start to happen. When I opened my mind God gave me two beautiful and amazing new friends. One wears a Hijab, and the other the Star of David.

What is so amazing about these women? They are on equal journeys to create a world of tolerance and understanding for their children. You might be looking at this picture and unintentionally or intentionally be creating stereotypes in your mind. So let me share what I see when I look at this picture. I see Girl Scout moms, camping buddies, amazing cooks, sweet tooth’s, advocates, master painters (giggle), parties, and friends. They’ve shared their beliefs with me. They never once judged the countless questions I have asked them. They’ve encouraged me to ask more!

I also see a support system. Friends who sincerely say “I will pray for you” and you know that they mean it. Friends who checked on me and supported me during some of my hardest times. We have friends and family who have melted away as our challenges have grown. That’s ok, because I know our lives aren’t always fun. But these ladies, and several others, offer a shoulder to cry on at anytime.

My life is more blessed because they are in it. What started as two has grown. I’ll get a hug and a smile from a friendly Muslim women in the grocery store because “I’m Kristy’s friend.” I get smiles and support from Lori’s Jewish friends as the Christian bestie who takes vacation time for her daughters Bat Mitzvah.

Why share this? Because I challenge you to open your heart this holiday season. Here are some pictures of ways my life has been enriched by these women.

Christmas night. Lighting a menorah between my grandma’s nativity and the Christmas tree.

Celebrating the end of Ramadan with henna, good food, and new friends.

Hosting a Hanukkah dinner to help teach our children to welcome all faiths into their lives. This year’s dinner will include Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families.

So, what can you do to spread a little more love and acceptance into the world? How can you help counteract the negativity in our society. Counter the political hatred. Show the world what amazing things can happen when we choose kindness.

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