It's about FAMILY.

 Alaina Petty, 14, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was killed in the February 14 attack that claimed 17 lives. Photo from and courtesy of the Petty family. 

Alaina Petty, 14, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was killed in the February 14 attack that claimed 17 lives. Photo from and courtesy of the Petty family. 

I just read this story about Alaina's very untimely death and simply wanted to share something that her father said in an interview about this horrific incident ...

There is still a hole in our family that I don’t know will ever be filled [in this life]... But we know we’ll be together again as a family. That gives us comfort.”

While grief-stricken over Alaina’s death, Ryan Petty said of the accused gunman, “I’m not angry at the shooter. I feel like we, as a society, failed this young man. He did not have the opportunity to live in a family that could love him the way he needed to be loved; to take care of him and understand the challenges and emotions he was feeling, and to give him positive ways to deal with them.”

Loving families, he added, are often remedies to such challenges.

“I can’t help but think that the solutions to these types of problems don’t lie in the policy realm—they lie in having strong families that [care] for their children and live according to Heavenly Father’s plan.

I will add that I don't think anybody needs a semi-automatic gun or any kind of assault weapon. I've signed multiple petitions (like these) because we need to do anything and everything we can to prevent this kind of senseless killing. It is NOT ok!

I agree with Alaina's father however, that what is really at the root of this epidemic is the breakdown of families. A community or nation can only be as strong as it's families. Families were designed by God and given to us as the ideal way to love, teach and rear children. Family life requires hard work and sacrifice, but it also provides stability, belonging, love and joy that can be found no where else. Families can (and should) be our first defense for individuals who are mentally ill or suffering from any other anguish that puts them at risk of hurting themselves and others. Answers and solutions won't come easy, but we can each start by striving to do better in our own homes and with the families of those we love and live near. We can become advocates in our communities for children and teens that lack the foundation of a loving family. 

 Alaina and her family. 

Alaina and her family. 

One of the primary reasons I love to teach about the power of photos and memory keeping is because of the potential it has to strengthen families. I know that my passion for scrapbooking over the years has been a unifying force in our family. When there is so much around us designed to tear us apart, to divide, it's comforting to know that we can make a difference by simply taking and sharing photos and documenting and telling family stories. These efforts bind us together, they teach us who we are and who we belong to—they have the power to heal hearts and repair relationships. This hobby that I love is not just about stickers and adhesive, pretty papers and cool digital tools. This hobby is about connecting and strengthening families, now and across generations. 

I can't imagine the grief that so many individuals and families are forced to navigate after this and every other mass shooting. But I am grateful for Alaina's father and others like him who's hearts are full of forgiveness. I'm so grateful for their examples of faith. 

I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts.