1. Today is my mom's birthday!
    Her name is Suzii. Yes, spelled like that!
  2. My mom is only the third woman in history to become the head of a religious denomination.
  3. My mom oversees a convention of Southern Baptist churches who chose to leave the Southern Baptist Convention when Jerry Falwell took it over in the 1990's.
  4. My mom represents millions of Baptists around the world. Most are progressive but the common strand is really just not fundamentalist.
  5. After the Orlando shooting, my mom made a public statement urging all the churches in her convention to finally become fully inclusive of LBGTQ members.
    She then undertook a massive project working with a department at the University of Toronto that specializes in organizational change to make sure this happened. Consulting with prominent leaders of the LBGTQ community, she took conference calls with each of her churches and talked through the ideological and scriptural roadblocks until she could start moving the needle towards acceptance in each congregation. That is real Christianity, to me.
  6. My mom stopped a coal plant from being built in Waco by organizing churches against it and landed on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, dot art and all.
  7. My mom has been sent to Africa by the Gates Foundation, where she implemented micro finance programs to help lift people out of poverty.
  8. My mom has gone to indigenous communities in Peru and turned on water to villages, literally saving lives.
  9. My mom has gone to China and negotiated with their government to allow churches to operate there without persecution.
    The selfie she sent me from China
  10. My mother served on a panel at the George W. Bush Center on what immigrants contribute to communities and churches and personally witnessed a naturalization ceremony, a very moving experience for her.
  11. My mom wrote the legislation signed by Rick Perry in Texas that fights all forms of sex trafficking and protects its victims with healthcare and support.
  12. My mom has pushed her convention to more and more partnerships with the convention of black Baptist churches and colleges, working together to bring conversations about race and police brutality into church communities.
  13. My mom started off as a middle school teacher. When she saw how many kids' problems stemmed from poor early childhood education, she lobbied the Texas legislature (at 25 years old, in the 1970's) to change the standards for pre-school and kindergarten curriculum.
    When one senator held out on her, my mom arranged for his first grade teacher to call him and show up to her hearing. Her bill passed with his support.
  14. She became an expert in early childhood education, eventually working across the country to change the curriculum in California, Ohio, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and more states I can't remember.
  15. She then became a lobbyist because she realized that Republican legislators would take her seriously if she showed up representing a Baptist organization.
  16. Empowered by this, she dedicated her life towards changing policy that changes lives.
  17. She has worked tirelessly to crack down on payday lending.
  18. She has fought for the rights of refugees and immigrants.
  19. She was even tapped by President Obama to advise him on immigration.
  20. If you met my mom, you would never know this about her. She is as humble as they come.
  21. She seems like any other sweet church lady.
  22. Privately, she has suffered in her life from almost any tragedy you can name.
    Miscarriages, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, a swarm of bees AND a car driving through her living room on the same day, suicide, cancer, mental illness.
  23. And this year she made the painful decision to end a very painful marriage of 44 years.
  24. So please join me in celebrating my mother this year...
  25. She is brave.
  26. She is beautiful.
  27. She has literally dedicated her life to the selfless pursuit of helping others.
  28. She is Hillary Clinton + Sally Fields.
  29. She is the progressive bumpkin @PeteOnEarth left off his list:
  30. And she is the best stroke of luck I ever got.
  31. Happy Birthday, Suzii!