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This week, Eric and I set off for AliveFest in Mineral City, Ohio. Alive is a Christian music festival held every year, and we’ve been lucky enough to be a part of for the past three years.

This was personally my second year on the team that travels up to Alive. I assumed I would have more knowledge about what to expect, what the day to day lineup would look like. In all honesty, I expected to have no questions. Only answers.

My first year taught me so much, but I think my second taught me even more.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Heat makes it really easy to disengage. 100 degree heat and humidity But when I found myself pushing through the endless amounts of heat to speak to people resulted in some amazing conversations.
  • I expected there to be more opposition when we explained that AVFTI does not take any political or religious stance. We do this because of the previously mentioned numbers in which sexual abuse victims exist: 1 in 3 women. 1 in 6 men. We don’t want to exclude anyone who might have a story to tell. I was wrong. Everyone was welcoming, non judgmental and super excited to have us at their festival.
  • No one wants to have the conversation about sexual abuse: but it’s vital to making change happen. We have to talk about what is happening in our music festivals, in our schools, and yes. In our churches. I’m thankful we had several people willing to have that conversation this week.
  • Everyone’s hopenote is meant for them. Even if 6 year olds sometimes have a hard time understanding what to write. Eric told this girl to write as if she were writing to a sad friend. “What would you say?” he asked her. She thought for a minute and wrote: “My friend was mad at me and she can go play with someone else.” I laughed for DAYS.
  • Enthusiasm and excitement for the smallest of things bring the best of joy. And when that happens, we can remember that not every conversation has to be about the horror of sexual abuse. We could take pride in our hopenotes, in the work we’d done, in the progress we are making. Shout out to the girls we found selling pinecones (I’m not sure why, but they were) who fell in love with hopenotes and passed out the whole suitcase to strangers. Thanks for inspiring me to smile even though our faces melted off.

Alive, it was a fantastic week. Thank you for opening up your hearts, your ears, and your minds to our important conversations. To those of you who offered your prayers or prayed over Eric and I, thank you for taking the time to speak to God on our behalf.  To those who told their stories: you matter. Your stories matter. You are the reason we came. We are always here for you. To those who donated or bought merchandise: thank you for supporting our mission and those with stories. To those who checked out our website and asked tough questions, thank you for your open ears and hearts. Thank you for listening to those who are finding their voice again.

We will keep the Air Zooka safe until next year!


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