If You Say You Are Pro-Life

Throughout history there are a few moments that truly changed the course of the world. The invention of the wheel, Pax Romana, and the declaration of the Magna Carta are a few such events.

In 1215, for the first time in history, a governed people demanded and assumed certain rights given to them by God, not the king.

562 years later, following this same logic, the founders of the United States of American declared independence and began a revolution that changed the understanding of government and human rights forever.

Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness. To the founders, these ideals were unalienable – unable to be taken away or removed from the possessor. Most of us would say we support these ideals. We want healthy kids, social mobility, freedom of religion, choice, guns, and speech. Yet far too often, we want freedom when it works for us. We want liberty for us. We want life for us and those we care about.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care for unborn lives. We cannot take away the life of a child because it is inconvenient for another person.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care for the teen mothers,  mothers addicted to crack,  fathers dealing drugs and their children. We have to act on behalf of kids in foster care. We have to be willing to get messy, dirty, and hurt. Being pro-life means caring for all lives-including the ones we would rather not.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care about the 14-year-old girl with an unwanted pregnancy. Should she abort the baby? Should she place her in foster care with a waiting list of over 200 needed families in one county in SC alone? Should she try to raise him herself? Should she go on welfare? What would you do?

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care for the immigrant and refugee. We have to welcome the refugees with open arms into our abundance. We have to be willing to lose so others will gain. Our fear cannot overpower our faith.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care about black men incarcerated at a rate of 6x greater than white men. We have to fight against a penal system that seeks not justice, but punishment and often assumes guilt, not innocence.

If we say we are pro-life then we have to care about the child being bullied because he is gay. We must teach our children that to differ in opinion is not an excuse for violence, hatred, or separation. We are to defend those who cannot defend themselves; even when we disagree.

If we say we are pro-life then we must care about the men and women on death row. We cannot decry the killing of a life in one scenario and then celebrate it in another.

If we say we are pro-life then we must care for the weak, the poor, the immigrant, and the orphan. To do so means we will lose. We will lose strength supporting those weaker than us. We will lose money to provide for those poorer than us. We will lose resources to welcome an immigrant with merely the clothes on their back. We will lose sleep caring for children not our own.

If we say we are pro-life then our own lives should reflect our beliefs. In a world of political black and white, we must embrace the gray. Caring for life is never easy. It is most often inconvenient, disruptive, and difficult. There is little tangible reward, great pain and many unknown answers.

Caring for 6 month old twins in foster care is not easy, but it is good.
Bringing a teenage mother into your home is not convenient, but it is right.
Welcoming a refugee into your community is not glamorous, but it is merciful.

If we say we are pro-life then we can’t just yell and protest with friends. We can’t just vote for the guy who promises to make America great again or promises to bring us back to the good ol’ days (spoiler alert: taxes were a lot higher then). We must act in the unseen places; bedrooms at 2am to nurse a hungry child not our own, recovery centers where no instagram filter will make reality look better,  the housing projects alongside rats where the most recent immigrants are eking out life. It won’t be pretty, but it will be right.

 

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He is No Fool

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin FranklinLiberty. The foundation of the American Dream. Life. Liberty. And the Pursuit of Happiness. Through our figurative and literal blood courses the dreams and legacy of our forefathers. The legacy of these same daring men who challenged taxation without representation, who sacrificed their lives for a cause greater than themselves, is echoed in our lives today. Suggest to any American over the age of 10 that we should go back to having a king or to any tax payer we should give all our money to the government for them to distribute and you will be laughed at, mocked, and perhaps threatened.

The value of liberty is an essential part of who we are as a nation. Yet, we have changed. No longer to kids roam freely on the streets to find the next adventure. No longer do children learn to fail from a young age. No longer do we talk of duty, honor, and sacrifice. Instead, our lives are managed, controlled, and planned from the day we are born. Many of us shudder to think of our lives without the convenience (necessity?) of smart phones, Internet, house alarms, and more.

There exists a constant tension between liberty and safety. With our love of liberty comes rules of conduct – my liberty cannot infringe upon your safety. Ideas are dangerous and yet we hold fast to our liberty to express ideas – even dangerous ones.

I love adrenaline. I love the gut-dropping feeling when you first jump off a cliff into water. I love the rush of competition when I feel my heart beating faster and my muscles twitching in anticipation of the next play. I will risk the safety of my physical body to make a play. Why? Because the glory of success is greater than a bruise or broken bone. If this is true in sports, how much more so in life?

In this same vein, there are ideas, causes, truths worth risking our lives; to stand for freedom against oppression like Malala Yousafzai, to die for an unknown people like Jim Elliot. In our quest for safety, equality, and sameness we have sacrificed liberty, danger, uniqueness. We forget the legacy of the men and women who gave their lives for a cause greater than they could even comprehend.

If we are to thrive as individuals and a nation we must remember their legacy and we must fight for liberty – even at the expense of safety. We must be willing to give ourselves for something bigger than ourselves and to sacrifice our lives, figuratively and literally, for people we do not know.

When I read biographies of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for an idea there is a common thread throughout each of their lives. This thread is the overwhelming greatness of an idea, a movement larger than life. An idea, a truth so wonderful it is worth everything. What is your idea? What truth do you follow, without which, life would be devoid of purpose? Are you willing to risk your life, figuratively or literally, for this truth?

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

Hey Friends, It’s been a while…

This photo has nothing to do with the post, but who can resist a sunset photo???

This photo has nothing to do with the post, but who can resist a sunset photo???

Hey friends, It’s been a while. I hope you’ll forgive my absence. I’ve been writing elsewhere and my motivation to write on this blog has waned. Still, for the past several weeks I’ve almost started many a blog so I think the blogging bug is back. I suppose if I was going for hits, shares, likes, and internet approval I would forge on through my virtual writers block, but I am not and I did not.

I have struggled with the purpose of this blog – why am I writing? who am I writing for? what should I write about? When I started this blog it was a place for me to put my thoughts and I like that. One thought on my mind a lot recently has been adoption and foster care. Yes, this is part of my job, but more than that I find myself reading blogs of people who’ve adopted and learning about their experiences. I love hearing the stories of families who have adopted or fostered. I have friends who are adopting and it is easy for me to pray for them and look for ways to help them prepare to meet their little girl. I dream about adopting my own kids one day.

So what’s a single girl with a heart for adoption to do? Though I probably could adopt, I don’t think it is the wise decision for me right now. Instead, I will content myself with supporting families who are adopting or fostering – like this family with whom I’ve had the pleasure to walk alongside. The joy of seeing their daughter’s room ready and waiting was overwhelming – especially knowing I got to have a small part of helping her come home!

In the midst of all of this, Christianity Today posted an article on ways Single Christians can be involved in orphan care. It both inspired and challenged me to think critically about my involvement in orphan care. There are, in fact, many ways to be involved with out adopting – single or not. Mentoring, becoming a Guardian ad Litem, making meals, or offering other skills or talents are just a few ways to be involved. I would encourage you to read the full article.

One theme echoing in my life the past year is the overwhelming faithfulness of God and his ability to take seemingly small and insignificant choices and use them further his purpose. God’s heart for the orphan is much greater than my own. His plan and timing are perfect. Whatever part I get to play in that plan is amazing.

Oh the love that drew salvation’s plan! Oh the love that brought it down to man… There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.

January Goals: A Review

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My view half way up Table Rock Mountain 

If you’re new here, I confirmed I am, in fact, crazy posted my goals for the year. As someone whose strengths are Achiever and Discipline, I really like goals. Goals keep me focused, motivated, and constantly improving. Of course, there’s also the downside which I wrote about recently.

My goal for January was to pray daily for women living in Muslim contexts in the Middle East, North Africa, and South East Asia. I would say I was about 70% successful in praying daily. More than the task itself, this goal refocused my attention and broadened my daily awareness of God’s blessings. I found myself appreciating my freedoms and privilege more regularly, like having enough food in the refrigerator or working heat in the winter.

When I began to pray, I wasn’t really sure where to start. I don’t know any women from these contexts, I’ve never been to the Middle East, Africa, or Asia, nor do I know much beyond my reading of fiction and non-fiction, including news sources. I felt very disconnected initially, my prayers seemed more like a recitation – what I was supposed to pray instead of my heart’s desire.

However, this all changed in week 2. I was challenged to pray the attributes of God in my “regular prayers” and I began to pray these for the women too. All of a sudden, God’s all-powerful, all-good nature became much more meaningful. My prayers gained weight and substance previously lacking. If I could trust God to act powerfully in their life – why should I doubt his power in mine? If God is merciful enough to redeem me, a broken and selfish person, then He is also merciful to ransom their lives too. Instead of feeling distant, contrived, and separated from my own life, my prayers merged into one prayer.

My compassion, concern, and prayers for the women were neither singularly spiritual, nor singularly physical – just like my own life. I do not pray only for my heart or the hearts of my friends and family, but for our physical needs as well. So, too it came to be with these women.

I don’t know what will come from this month. I know I have no power to change the living circumstances, the hearts, or the minds of the women in these areas. I do know, incredibly, God is not only powerful enough, but is already working! My own weakness, in yet another area of life, is an opportunity to showcase God’s power.

My one regret is I did not pray daily. Too often, my prayers centered around myself and immediate needs. I would get distracted in tasks and to-do’s or hyper-focused on my small desires. I crave the strength gleaned from uniting my heart with God’s heart beyond my own microcosm of the Universe.

As far as my other goals for the year are going, I already broke my “only books by dead people rule.” I mistakenly believed Harper Lee had already died and I read To Kill a Mockingbird. I do not regret it at all. This is perhaps one of the most poignant books written and was even more touching because I live in the South and was challenged on my own prejudices and bias in praying for the women in MENA, SEA. If you haven’t read TKAM since high school or within the last 5 year, I would highly recommend it. I’m also reading Plato so I feel like that makes up for it too 😉

In January, I also had my first day of solitude and it was worthwhile. I learned I must tire my body out first, before my mind, heart, soul will be still. Fortunately I went hiking and was able to do both! It was a great way to start the month and I felt a lingering “refreshment hangover” for several days. That’s right. I just compared a spiritual solitude to a hangover.

On the negative, I have not prayed through any of my notecards nor have I really started learning the arabic alphabet. I have downloaded the sheets though, so that counts for something, right?!?!

My goal for the month of February is no personal social media-pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum of importance from praying daily for Muslim women in MENA, SEA, but hey! it may actually be harder. Wish me luck!

Katie Davis is not my Hero.

Katie-Davis-Uganda“Dear friend, be imitators of God alone.” – Katie Davis full article and picture source

I’ve long been inspired by exciting stories of women doing incredible things. Katie Davis, (age 25) is one of those modern-day women. Katie adopted 13 orphans in Uganda and is raising them in their village. She’s pretty much living the life I wanted to live when I was 18 and the life I thought I would live out of college. I’ve followed her journey since shortly after she started blogging. I’ve read her book and I’ve dreamed about what it would look like to move to insert-African-nation-here and adopt orphans and teach them to love God. I see what Katie is doing and I think, I could do that! If I’m not careful, I allow bitterness and jealousy creep in and before long, I feel inferior, angry, and resentful that this is not my life right now.

I’m tempted to view her life as holier than mine, her journey as more glamorous and more spiritual. I think, why didn’t God plan that for me right now? In my mind, this is a holy, good thought, but really it is just another version of coveting what my neighbor has – be it a larger house, nicer car, or better looks. Instead of longing for the material, I long to live a life of glamorous spirituality that is oh so much more glamorous than a life in the suburbs. Neither is right. Neither is holy.

“Dear friend, be imitators of God alone.” I am not called to imitate Katie Davis. Katie Davis is not my hero, but she is a great example of what is means to live sold-out, all-in for the true Hero. I am called to follow my Hero, Jesus Christ, and daily die to myself – save-the-world dreams included. My life is refined in the long, slow walk of obedience to holiness. I hope one-day that walk will lead to missions for the nations, but until that day I must follow in obedience feasting on my daily bread – the Bread of Life.

Thank you, Katie, for the reminder.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1

Just Do It.

This is me, training at CrossFit Redeemed!

Rigorous: manifesting, exercising, or favoring rigor: very strict, scrupulously accurate, precise.

This upcoming weekend I will be running a half-marathon. I haven’t been training; in fact, I haven’t run more than 6 miles in over 6 months. My training has been anything BUT rigorous. I’m relying on my natural athletic ability, self-determination, grit and pride to get me through this race. My goal is to finish within 2 hours.

Recently, I’ve heard a lot about giving your life away, spiritual disciplines, living missionally, and training for godliness. Though these are not necessarily easy concepts, I usually think I’ve got my mind pretty well wrapped around them. Words like training and discipline come pretty naturally to me. Once I set my mind to something, I am determined to follow through with it. (side note: the wives tale that the ability to curl your tongue is genetic is false. I worked for 2 weeks to learn this skill because I was determined that my younger sister would not best me at anything)

Unfortunately, I often approach spiritual training and discipline with the same mindset that I do to running: just do it. Worst case scenario, I’ll grit my teeth and get it done because I am a Generation Y American and I can do anything. Ha. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as helpless and weak as I have in the past year. Y’all, it has happened – I’ve become a full-fledged crier, no bones about it.

Ironically, I’ve also never felt more dependent, yet invigorated; helpless, yet powerful; exhausted, yet energized. I don’t know if my life is rigorous, but I’m learning what it means to live outside of my own strength. I’m learning how miniscule and pathetic my own strength is and how infinite and vibrant God’s strength is. All the more reason to train for godliness.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8

Prove it.

Prove it. This might be one of my favorite phrases of all time. If you tell me something my first reaction is to prove you wrong. It is not out of malice or disdain, but I want to understand and challenge what is presented to me. Though this “critical mind,” to put it nicely, is usually a good thing, it can also be a problem.

The German philosopher Nietzsche said, “If you could prove God to me, I would believe Him all the less.” Nietzsche actually makes a brilliant point. Too often we, as Christians, try to “prove God.” We freak out if science seems to contradict scripture. We are devastated when a christian politician fails morally. We get in pointless arguments and worry about the decline of society while we long for the ever evasive good ole days.

Instead, why don’t we take comfort that the Bible teaches truth, God is Truth, and all of creation declares his glory. Science doesn’t contradict God, it points to His brilliance. Christian politicians fail because they are sinners. Paul, the chief of sinners was a murderer, blasphemer and opponent of Christ and yet the grace of God was bestowed upon him and he became an Apostle. I think God is big enough to handle our moral failures as well. Society is simultaneously constantly declining as a result of sin, yet constantly being restored as a result of God’s plan. Why don’t we get excited about being a part of the restoration instead of lamenting the decline? Why aren’t Christians the most excited, hopeful, hard-working, peaceful people?

A god that I can “prove” is a god that I can control. A god that I completely understand is a god who is not smarter than I am. A god that I can prove is not god at all. If you could prove God to me then I would believe him all the less.

Will you go out without knowing?

I am a list maker. I love plans and organizing and systems. I am not rigid, per se, I love spontaneity when I can plan for it. Case in point: on a trip with friends around Europe (yes, I know that is probably the most cliche sentence a suburban white girl could say, but alas…) my friends and I planned out our time in each country for months beforehand, but get this – we planned for spontaneity. Yes, you read that right. Clearly I like control, order, and lists.

Imagine my surprise then when I read: “Will you go out without knowing?” this morning in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (Jan. 2). Well, obviously I had to keep reading. Chambers highlights the illogical nature of following God without knowing why, exactly – something that is very difficult for this logic and reason minded girl. I want to be able to give an answer, both to myself and others, for the reasons of my actions. Why did I go to school in South Carolina when I swore I would leave the state. Why did I quit playing soccer my senior year when it was so very much a part of who I was for so long? Why did I keep going back to the Ezer study when every fiber of my being screamed “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!”?

Some of the decisions that have had the most impact on my life were made against my logic, my desires and my understanding; yet they are also the most beneficial, good, and healthy decisions that I have “made.”

Chambers asks: “Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do – He reveals to you who He is.” So often, a part of me whispers (OK, sometimes shouts) “I want more. I want to know.” Arrogant. Foolish. Seriously?!?! Clearly, Chambers is also a mind-reader because he soon countered my thoughts with the statement: “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think of how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is!” Alrighty then, I think I can do that and you know, it makes sense – how did I not think of this before? So often I want to believe the worst about God (I don’t even want to touch the illogicalness (yes, that’s a word now) of that statement), but the reality is that God is MORE good, MORE gracious, MORE knowing, MORE wise, MORE powerful, etc. than I know even in my moments nearest to Him.

Will you go without knowing? Will I?

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)

What does it look like to live missionally?

I mentioned previously that there is something special that happens when leaders get together. Recently, I spent 6 days suffering in the Bahamas with a group of leaders. OK, so maybe we weren’t suffering, but I can assure you that we worked hard (though not nearly as hard as the Fastzskie Family that lives there as full-time missionaries).

The purpose of this trip was to equip leaders to live missionally. We tried to answer the question: What does it look like to live on mission for God on a daily basis? So often, we think of missions as something we do, not how we live, but if we are redeemed by God then His mission becomes our mission.

What does it mean to enter into covenant with someone? What do the symbols associated with covenants mean? One symbol we see in the covenant between Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 18) is the putting on of another’s robe. My cultural bias quickly skips over this act because I think: “OK, so Jonathan and David are like thousands of teenage girls who switch clothes. Big deal.” Wrong. To put on another’s robe is to assume their identity, to swear protection for them, their problems are now your problems, their possessions are your possessions and vice versa. Romans 13:14 tells us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (ESV) and so enter into covenant with Him; His mission is now our mission. What does this mean for us as 21st century Americans?

As I have said, it is easy for me to imagine going to serve God in a faraway land, but what does missions look like staying? Initially, missions starts with changing my mind and attitude. My life is NOT about me, what I want, how I feel or what is in my best interest. There are opportunities every day for me to serve people; my roommate, my co-workers, my family, the employees at Panera – am I looking for ways to serve them? In addition, if I claim to support missionaries (in the typical sense of the word) am I supporting them financially, prayerfully and emotionally? Am I giving my time and talents to the local church?

Although in some ways, missions is part of my job, I am still convicted of my lack of intentional missional living. I have not arranged my life so that missions is who I am, not just what I do.

What does missional living look like for you on a daily basis?