This is My Story

Like so many others, my social media news feed has been abuzz this week with political posts regarding our new President, the Women’s March on DC, and the Pro-Life/ Pro-Choice debate. And while I usually don’t add much to political discussions, the issues of femininity and life are two issues that I really can’t stay silent on. They are intimately woven into the fabric of who I am and what makes me, me. I’ve already shared my thoughts this week on feminism, so today I’m compelled to share why I absolutely have to be pro-life.

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This picture right here is 1/5th of my story. This is my youngest daughter, Maddie, and in this picture she is about 16 weeks old, in utero. This picture is why I have to be pro-life. Do you see her round little head? She still has that unmistakably round forehead. Can you see her little hand waving at me? This is a picture of my BABY. This is why I have no other choice but to defend the lives of the unborn. You can argue all day long about a woman’s rights, federal funding of abortion clinics, or compassion for victims of incest and rape. But at the end of the day, we are still talking about a baby. That never changes.

My story starts with another baby, though. Her name is Miracle and aptly so. Our story is one of God’s grace and it has a very happy ending.

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I’ve shared it before Congressmen. I’ve shared it before Senators. I’ve shared it to women facing an unplanned pregnancy and women wanting an abortion. I’ve shared it with strangers and I’ve shared it with friends. I’ve shared it on my blog before and today it felt fitting to share my story again.  Please follow the link below.

Welcome to My Story.

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On Funerals, Friendship, Feminism, and Washing the Floor

I only wish that as I start penning these words, a quelling would occur of the emotions flooding my soul. So many emotions within twenty-four hours: anger, disappointment, sorrow, grief, encouragement, hope, sheer joy. Like the hot and cold air currently swirling over Florida tonight, these polar ends of emotions have ignited a number of little tornados taking formation in my heart. It’s just too much.

Jesus, we need You.

I learned this morning that a young mother in our church died unexpectedly just before our morning worship service began. She was only 36 years old. She leaves behind a husband, a 2 year old daughter, and a 2 month old daughter. Two little girls who will never remember their mommy. I didn’t know Jen as well as many of my friends knew her. She was the MOPS leader at our church and ironically, I had just spoken about friendship at their last meeting, at her request. I spoke about the different types of friendships. I talked about how real friends are the ones that go through the hard stuff with you. The good and the bad. The easy and the difficult. The tough stuff. She kept her eyes on me the entire time I talked, smiling and nodding with encouragement. How could we have possibly known that the next weekend we’d be walking through this hard stuff… without her? How could we have known that this week we would be helping her husband plan her funeral? It’s just too much.

Jesus, we need You.

When I went to bed last night I had no idea that today I’d be mourning the loss of  a beautiful soul. No, last night when I went to bed, I was mourning the loss of morals and values in our country. I mourned the loss of 57 million aborted babies who have been killed by abortion since 1973. I was angry at the pictures I saw of women taking part in the Women’s March on Washington yesterday. I was embarrassed that the rest of the world might think these women represented me in any way. I was disappointed that women could be so misguided and uninformed about their own worth that they would degrade themselves in their quest for equality. It’s just too much.

Jesus, we need You.

Tonight, with hot and cold swirling… with north and south repelling….with light and dark colliding, I began to see things for what they are. There is a difference between the women I wept with today and the women that crammed my social media news feed.

At church this morning I huddled with four dear friends and we prayed for our friend’s husband and baby girls. We prayed for her parents and her sister. We prayed for our other friends who will be ministering to this family in the coming weeks. We prayed for strength for ourselves. And as we prayed, the tears fell gently and puddled at our feet. I’ve heard a lot of disputing over what a woman’s role is this week, but I assure you that each of us praying today considered it an honor and a privilege to wash the floor with our tears. We weren’t seeking to have our voices heard by the mainstream media. We were simply crying out to our Savior and He heard our cries. It’s just too much.

Jesus, help us do this.

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Women have the ability to give life. That alone makes us SO unable to be equal to men. Men will never know that power. I sat with women tonight who cried as they talked about how little baby A is going to wake up tomorrow and ask for her mommy. We talked about how our own children are asking who is going to be A and H’s mommy now. The answer? We are. We are going to be her mommy. All of us. Collectively. The mommies of our church will love A and H. Because we are her family. We are her friends. We are mommies and we give life. We will give these precious babies life in the midst of her death. We will give life to her memory. We will give life to her unconditional love. It’s not too much.

Jesus, help us do this.

Another friend recently gave birth to a baby that is not her own. She carried this child for 32 weeks for a friend who had lost her own daughter tragically and could not carry another child of her own. Last week this friend brought a new baby into the world and laid it gently into the awaiting arms of his parents. She gave life. To this baby. To this broken family. She. Gave. Life. It wasn’t too much.

Jesus helped her do this.

This afternoon, my eight year old daughter had many questions about Miss Jen’s passing. Jen was her kids’ choir director. She was the VBS director. She wore many other hats as well and my little girl could not make any more sense of this loss than I could. Her questions of heaven and hell sparked a new understanding inside of her and together, we prayed the prayer of salvation and my baby asked Jesus into her heart. For all of eternity. Because He is the giver of life. Joy unspeakable!!  Jen’s legacy of love and Kingdom service lives on, even in her death. It wasn’t too much.

Jesus helped her do this.

As I continue to sort out these emotions and feelings, a lot of confusion remains. How could women take the life of their own child? How could women possibly think that they’re the same as men? How could they degrade themselves and humiliate themselves in the name of feminism the way they did?

How are we going to help Jen’s family get through the tough stuff? How do we say goodbye to our friend? How do I guide my daughter in her new faith? There are so many questions. But, it’s not too much.

Jesus will help us do this.

 

 

 

 

Three Little Words that Grieve Me

 

Legalistic… Liberal… Lukewarm

These three words have been spinning in my head a lot lately. A triad of extremes. Three little words that grieve me.

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They’ve been in the media. They’ve been spoken at church. I’ve read them on Facebook. I’ve heard them in sermons, commercials, testimonies, and speeches. They bother me.

These three words, each in their own right detrimental to America’s way of thinking and acting and voting and living. These three words that are encroaching upon the way non-Christians view the church. These three words that some Christians are embracing with loving acceptance.

Liberal. Legalistic. Or Lukewarm.

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I’ll start with Legalistic because that’s where I started. Legalistic Baptist Church. Wearing dresses or skirts only. In the church every time the doors were open. Memorizing. Quoting. Performing. Knocking on doors. Not because I was in love with Jesus but because that is what was expected of me. Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of folks there who probably loved Jesus a lot but I never felt that we were doing things out of love as much as we were doing things out of obligation. I walked the aisle at age 9 because I was terrified of hell, not because I was in love with my Savior.

I sat at church camp in my culottes. I sat in the sanctuary tapping my toes to the organ music. I sat there all 6 nights of Revival services. I sat in the choir loft during the Christmas Cantatas. I sat in the back row during my youth group days. I sat in the nursery on my Sundays to serve. I sat in the van on mission trips. I sat. And I sat. Nobody was running or leaping or … (dare I say it?)…. DANCING!! Dancing was on the long list of forbidden “thou shalt nots” that I adhered to for fear of hell, fire, and being a permanent outcast.

Legalism in the church stifles any spark that the Holy Spirit wants to fan into a roaring flame. It hinders growth. It puts the Holy Spirit in a box. It kills churches and it turns sinners away without any hope of ever measuring up to the impossible “thou must always” list that’s posted by the front doors. Jesus did not die on a cross so that we could live out our lives checking boxes and aiming for unattainable perfection. No, He did not. Jesus died on a cross because we are ALL hopeless, flawed, imperfect human beings in need of not only a Savior but a relationship with a Savior that loves us unconditionally. Yes, He did.

But where Legalism smothers a spark, Liberalism burns out of control.

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Liberal Christianity is on a rise and secular media is embracing it with arms open wide. While this should be a tell tale sign to Christians that something is amiss, this generation’s fear of being labeled “intolerant” has them running by the truck-load into the open arms of the all-tolerant liberal media. (Well, maybe not “all-tolerant”. They tend not to tolerate the intolerant. But that’s another blog post entirely.)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been participating in a Bible study by a popular, beloved Christian author. She’s wildly hilarious, has an amazing writing style, and her honest vulnerability is a breath of fresh air to worn out mamas and yoga-pants-wearing-women everywhere. But as I followed her on social media I was shocked by her very openly liberal political opinions and her unashamed passion for things that I am very much against.

Politics. Yep. I’m bringing up politics. It’s an election year so politics are everywhere and as ready as we all are to be done with this horrid election, it’s still worth mentioning that a person’s political views are completely intertwined with their religious/spiritual/ethical/moral convictions. And if they’re not… well then, their convictions must not run very deep.

Let me be clear- contrary to what almost all secular and liberal media outlets report- being “against” something does NOT mean you are afraid of it. I’m not sure who stumbled upon the gold mine of labeling unashamed Christians as being “afraid”, but it has certainly been beneficial to their cause. Don’t like a Christian saying they think homosexuality is a sin? Tell the Christian they are afraid of homosexuality and you’ll make them and their argument look weak. Don’t like a Christian saying that we need to respect our police officers and other law enforcement officials? Tell the (white) Christian they are afraid of black people and make them and their argument look weak.

I’m here to tell you I am not weak. I am not afraid. Of homosexuals. Of black people. Of politics. Of loud-mouth liberals. Of secular media. I am not afraid. Why? Because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (I John 4:4). I can and I will stand firmly on Biblical truth because it cannot be shaken. God cannot be shaken. My beliefs, my views, my moral compass… they’re not part of a trending fad of acceptance and tolerance. They are timeless truths that were given to me by the love and mercy of my Savior and nothing is going to change that. Ever.

I struggled as I read Facebook posts and interviews and Tweets of the afore mentioned author. Do I stop reading her books? Do I tell my friends that I’m done with this author? Do I publicly denounce any further alignment with her and her book studies? One article about her liberal beliefs said that Christians should just take her beliefs with “a grain of salt” and filter them through their own beliefs. I think that’s true with anything we read outside of Scripture, but that response felt very weak. A mamby-pamby response to a mamby-pamby response.

So I’m just going to say it. Sin is sin. Sin should not be accepted. But it SHOULD and it MUST be forgiven. When Jesus talked to the adulteress woman in John 8, not only did He not condemn her, but He told her to “go and sin no more”. He didn’t pretend adultery wasn’t a sin. He didn’t embrace her and tell her she could go and commit adultery in His house. He reminded the people condemning her that they were all sinners just as each of us today are all guilty of sin. But Jesus would have done this woman a disservice if He told her to go about living her sinful lifestyle just as Christians today do a disservice to those we do not warn about the dangers of the sinful lifestyles they are in.

Liberalism is a slippery slope.

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Lukewarm. There’s a word.

If you ever watched the movie “War Room” you saw Miss Clara give Elizabeth a great analogy of what it means to be lukewarm when she offered her a cup of room temperature coffee. Like the Scripture in God’s Word, Elizabeth was ready to spit that lukewarm substance out of her mouth. Like a good cup of coffee, God wants His children to be hot or cold.

Lukewarm Christianity is dangerous. Anything not leading people TO Christ is leading people away from Him. Anyone not standing up to evil is falling to evil. Edmund Burke is credited with saying that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Truer words have never been said.

Saying “I don’t want to get involved” is the same as saying “I don’t care enough about this situation to stand up for it.” Many Christians don’t want to hear this. They don’t want to face the reality that they’re lack of involvement is really just acceptance. They don’t feel that they have to fight every fight. They don’t feel that they need to put themselves out on a limb if it’s not something they’re directly involved with. So they don’t. And when good men do nothing, evil triumphs.

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Legalistic. Liberal. Lukewarm. Three little words that grieve the heart of God. Three little words that should grieve the hearts of Christians and call them to action against complacency, altruism, and a life of checking boxes. Three little words that God has laid on my heart to recognize. To call out. To call attention to. To warn others of. To speak out against in His Church. Three little words that can bring so much damage if good people do nothing.

 

 

 

 

So you were told to have an abortion…

So you were told to have an abortion…

I was told that once, myself. My first pregnancy, at the age of 20, came as such an exciting surprise to me. I was a young bride with lupus and I had no idea if I could even get pregnant yet there was the proof on that thin blue line on that long white stick. Pregnant.

I wasted no time picking out baby names and nursery themes, wondering if he or she would have chubby cheeks or dark hair like mine. I was beyond thrilled that I was now someone’s mommy. But all of that excitement, thrill, and joy was met with the worst news that I had ever received in my life. A simple phone call from my rheumatologist (lupus doctor) threatened to shatter all of my dreams. That was the day I was diagnosed with pulmonary hyptertension and told that “the standard of care is abortion”.

I will never forget those words. The standard of care? The standard of CARE? Care for who? Killing my baby would certainly not show care for him or her. And killing my baby would all but physically kill me, as well. The standard of care? My rheumatologist would go into no other details but told me that I must see a perinatologist (high-risk obyn) at once and within a few days I was in the perinatologist’s office. What I didn’t know at the time was that my rheumatologist was a strong Christian woman, who was bound by legal medical standards to inform me that an abortion was “the standard of care” and that as soon as she put the phone down with me, she hit her knees and pleaded with God that I would not take her advice. She knew I was a Christian, too, and she begged God for a miracle. That night she went to her ladies’ Bible study group, and even though she knew it was illegal to give them my name, she shared my first name with those precious saints and asked them to pray for me by name, as well.

God heard their prayers. And he heard the prayers of many others. After visiting the perinatologist, I was given a 50% chance (at best) of surviving the next 9 months, and that was only if I aborted my child. If I refused an abortion, she could not even give me a percentage of opportunity to live. She said I would be flat on my back in a hospital bed, on a ventilator, and that the baby and I would most likely both die that way. Essentially, I would suffocate to death. Ironically, I’m claustrophobic and suffocating is my biggest fear. Despite the scary news, I knew that I could not abort my child. I was a Christian. I was pro-life. I was taught that abortion was wrong. I wasn’t a “wanted” child either but I had managed to life an incredible life. Didn’t my baby deserve the same opportunity? And my baby WAS wanted. Shouldn’t I just trust God? Wasn’t this an opportunity to live out those promises that God’s strength would be made perfect in my weakness?

So, without hesitation, I told my very disgruntled perinatologist that I would not be aborting my baby. She was not happy with me. She used every scare tactic she knew. She showed me case studies and charts and all the stats that said I would die. But I insisted that I could not kill my baby and that instead I would be trusting my God to make that decision. She rolled her eyes and told me that all she could do then was try to keep me comfortable. I thanked her for that. And then I sent out an email.

Back in 1999, e-mail was still a pretty new thing and it was the dawn of the chain email phenomenon. I sent out an email to just about every friend or family member that I had in my address book. I told them of the great news of my pregnancy and the terrifying news of my diagnosis. And I asked them to pray. I was quickly inundated with replies of encouragement and promises to pray. As my friends and family forwarded my emails on to their friends and family, the replies began flooding in from around the country and around the world. I was being lifted up. My baby was being lifted up. I knew God was hearing our prayers.

Praying about something never guarantees that God will answer our prayers the way we want Him to. I knew that God could choose to take my baby. I knew God could choose to take me. I knew that God could choose to take me and spare my baby and leave my husband to raise our child alone, at the age of 20. I knew all of those things, yet God gave me a peace that the decision was HIS to make and that it was HIS will that should be done, not my own. Even though God gave me peace about the decision, I won’t lie and say it was easy. My faith didn’t waiver but my heart sure did. I asked God, “Why is this happening to ME? What did I do to deserve this?” I learned at that very young age that God is big enough to handle our fears and our doubts. He’s big enough to handle all of our questions. He knows our hearts and our thoughts and there’s no point in trying to hide them from him. He won’t walk away just because we question Him. In fact, every time I asked Him, “Why?” He pulled me in a bit closer to Himself. That’s what Fathers do.

For the next six weeks, friends and family prayed for me and my unborn baby. Every day that I woke up feeling fine, I thanked God. I had no symptoms. I had no trouble breathing. I just stayed in bed and grew my baby the best I could. After six weeks, I was called back to the hospital to repeat the tests and see how far the disease had progressed. I was not expecting much progression, if any, as I was still symptom free, but I was thankful for proactive doctors so I completed the tests and waited for the results.

My perinatologist sat me down in her office once again, with a completely stunned look on her face. She plopped a huge stack of records on her desk and said, “These are all of your records from your previous tests that show you have pulmonary hypertension. Blood work, cardiology reports, pulmonary reports… all showing definitive pulmonary hyptertension.” Then plopping down another stack of records she added with a sigh, “And these are all of your records from this week that show you do not have pulmonary hypertension. Honestly, I don’t understand. Pulmonary Hypertension does not go away. And we did not make any mistakes. We have multiple tests proving you had it and now multiple tests proving that it’s gone.” Sighing once again, she added, “I guess this is what you would probably call a Miracle.”

As I left her office that day, smiling and laughing and thanking God, I knew that if my baby was a little girl, her name really should be Miracle. On Sunday, June 25, 2000, my red-headed, chubby-cheeked, perfect baby girl was born and we named her Miracle. In my subsequent pregnancies, prenatal ultrasounds showed chorid plexus cysts in my babies’ brains indicating potential retardation or other health issues. Once again, I was told that “the standard of care is abortion”, but knowing that my God works Miracles, I chose to trust Him again. Each of my children were born perfectly healthy and continue to thrive. I am now a mother of five and I have a passion for helping other women learn how to trust God in the midst of their circumstances.

My Miracle, Age 14

My Miracle, Age 14