Ooops…I lost my Tolerant Bumper Sticker

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I haven’t posted much this summer.  I’ve been writing up a storm, but not much has made it past putting down the words.  I keep asking myself why?

Why am I gun-shy?  What’s going on my heart?

After a summer of crazy headlines causing massive polarization in our country, I think I feel a little worn out, frazzled and defeated.

Is anyone with me?

Every day it’s a cacophony of doom and outrage–rainbow flags and Confederate flags, the Charleston Shooting, the warning of impending annihilation to Seattle from a catastrophic earthquake and tidal wave, the Greek banking failure, baby-parts for sale and Iran nuclear deals…and on and on it goes.  Benghazi and terrorism, ISIS and missing airplanes.

More BAD news.

But even worse is having an opinion about the BAD NEWS.

And as a writer it makes me SAD.  I’m grieving.

We are losing the fundamental freedom to express ourselves as extremest minority voices amp up their scare tactics to wipe out ANY voice of dissension.

How dare I disagree with anyone these days because I will be immediately labeled a bigot, a dumb-ass, a racist, anti-Mexican, intolerant, a religious fanatic, old-fashioned, pro-life and a million other slanderous titles.

Since when did everything become so black and white?

Is it possible to love people–all people–gay and straight and different colors AND the un-born?  I think so.

Is it possible to support the tax-paying people of America, the soldiers who fight for our freedom so we can whine like babies on safe soil and the police officers who risks their life on a daily basis without getting slammed?

Why do we need someone as brash as Donald Trump to speak up regarding border protection and scream in frustration because our economy is dangling on a precipice of debt and a falsely inflated dollar?

Why?  I believe it’s fear.

I don’t agree with everything the Donald says(and I sure hope he doesn’t go independent), but at least he has the balls (or enough money) to not care about the aftermath.  At least he’s speaking up about the things many of us are afraid to articulate.

I have never been a conspiracy theorist but it feels like something is about ready to blow…

…and I think it might be us–we, the American people.

I’m a student of history.  While many of you studied business and engineering in school, I buried myself in dusty books of the past.  And while I’m no Nostradamus, the signs are clear–our country has peaked.  We are on the downward slope.  It’s the classic rise and fall of an empire.

The more rights we give (without a moral compass) the more rights we lose. (see Andy Stanley video below)   And sadly, freedom of expression is only allowed if you are TOLERANT.

If you don’t have the TOLERANT bumper sticker, you can’t play the game anymore.

I don’t feel safe to disagree without getting blasted and my web site hacked to kingdom come.  I have spoken out against pornography in the past and how it negatively effects relationships.  Every single day I get hate mail.  My firewall has a firewall to protect it from attackers.

Here is where my so-called radical tendencies lie:  I don’t believe porn is art.  (OOOHHH crazy stuff, I know)  I’ve seen first-hand how the industry chews up women and spits them out.  I abhor the sex-trafficking trade and the violation of women.  I celebrate women who keep their babies and choose not to abort. I volunteer with single teenage moms and speak up for the downtrodden.   I believe the church should step in and care for the widows and the orphans, not the government.  I might even be a rather liberal Christian. No one’s ever accused me of being pharasitical or legalistic.

I’m not politically conservative.  Let’s all digest that for a moment.  When the moderate feels under attack it’s a big red flag that our so-called democratic system is about to implode!

Truthfully, I think I’m numb. 

My cousin-a police officer in California-has to pack a meal or come home to eat on duty because people at restaurants will put stuff in his food.  Huh?

What is this craziness?  We poison the people who are supposed to protect us?  And we aren’t supposed to stick up for cops for fear of being politically incorrect in our “anti-cop” trending culture?

The real persecution is going on right under our noses.  The more we revere celebrity and the socially “loud” the more we drown out the still small voices of our communal integrity.  It’s a subtle censorship based on our fears of being labeled Intolerant.

Today, I’m speaking out against the loss of something I love–my right to feel safe to write whatever I want.  Big Brother has arrived cloaked in social media frenzies, Twitter wars, and catch-phrases taken out of context to destroy people’s character and business.

And I am sad…

Any thoughts?  Join in on the conversation!

Cheer Bullies

Few things in life are all black or white –all good or all bad.

Most events have some redeeming factor or lesson to apply. Grace weasels its way in and finds the light in the darkest of nights.

But occasionally, evil rears its ugly head and I am left scratching my noggin in befuddlement.

Where is the good in this? What positive can I squeeze out of a rotten maggot infested dead rabbit?

(ahhh…but that’s another story about a rancid trashcan and a rabbit that croaked in my yard and an angry ex-husband who found the dead rabbit in the rancid trashcan because his wife didn’t know that dead rabbits need to go in other people’s trashcans)

Anyway, sometimes I ask myself, God, what the (insert an appropiately lame Christian bad word) was that sucker punch all about?

This was the question I asked myself as I left a youth football and cheer board meeting last night weeping.

Yes, weeping.

I walked through a senior center parking lot that lasted for miles and miles gulping and sobbing from a public beratement worthy of Paul and the Sanhedrin (before he turned good…when he still worked for the Dark Side).

And I asked myself once again, “What the hell is wrong with people?”

Years ago I was warned (by a wise mommy mentor) there are a few areas in life where people use unbridled power to manipulate and throw their weight around like the Patriots offensive line.

“Is it Washington politics?” I naively inquired.

“No Sam, its YOUTH SPORTS. Take heed to my words young lass and beware!”

I nodded at the wise sage and never forgot her words. And for years, playing for the Irvine Chargers and for Santa Margarita Pop Warner I had nothing but INCREDIBLE coaches, teams and experiences in football and cheerleading.

I thought I was one of the lucky ones. Sure there were the occasional squabbles and snarky remarks among parents, but overall we were tremendously blessed.

But last night those words came back to haunt me.

This year my daughter Faith was signed up for her second year to cheer for the Cowboys. Last year, her team competed in Nationals and she had a mostly positive experience. I had some concerns with extremely poor orginization within the league (not knowing the time of games until the day before…which will drive a mother of three CRAZY), but I tried to let the bad stuff go and focus on the fun. I helped out as team mom, hosted parties and provided a practice spot for the team (at no cost) at our church as a community outreach to save the league money. My husband and I went out of our way at every turn to support our girl and her team at every endeavor.

We were invested in the team like all parents who think their kids are AWESOME!

But this year things started off a little shakier.

The two oldest football teams –frustrated with the league took their ENTIRE groups of boys to another league. This left a gaping spot for the older girls.

There were no boys to cheer for in their age group.

My almost teen daughter would have to cheer for eight-year old boys.

And for a twelve-year-old girl this =MORTIFICATION.

Faith spent an entire night crying her eyes out. We asked her to pray and consider.

Then we got an e-mail saying her coach quit.

The game had changed. Faith tearfully asked if she could not cheer with this team.

She signed up to cheer for a MIDGET team but was faced with cheering for the MUNCHKINS.

I asked for a refund. Simple enough, right? I paid almost $400 and asked for my money back.

I was sent an e-mail saying I had to appear before the board.

Huh?

(Actually, I was sent five e mails with different times and dates and enough confusion to drive me crazy just regarding the board meeting)

So, I showed up at the firing squad (whoops –board meeting) where a group of YOUTH FOOTBALL Nazi’s terrorized me.

I was questioned, berated, interrogated and verbally beaten down to tears because I asked for a refund.

And then the questions arose as licked my wounded pride back at home?

Are the Cowboys in so much debt and disarray they can’t provide a refund for a kid who requested their money back over a month before practice started?

I was told “this is a business and we counted on your money.” “Even if kids get hurt we don’t provide a refund.” “Has your daughter been publicly shamed?”

My favorite was “How about a credit for next year?” –after I was already choking up. (like I wanted to come back and join this party again?)

And then like robots they repeated over and over a pre-planned message (clearly previously discussed) about what an honor it is to cheer for little boys almost half the age of my daughter.

And I understood why the two older teams picked up and left and took their boys with them. And why the Cowboys were allegedly kicked out of their previous league two years ago after a board member added seconds on the clock to overturn a game and let the Cowboys win.

Will somebody stop this reign of terror and stand up to these bullies?

I might have cried last night –but like little David facing Goliath, I’m just warming up my slingshot.

Have you had experience with youth sports?

The Awkward Baby Daddy

Once a month or so I head over to Mission Hills Church and teach a class to a group of unwed pregnant young women and the occasional baby daddy supporting them. I run into a cast of characters at Birthchoice but this week might have been the most memorable EVER.

In the front row sat a very pregnant and lovely young gal. Beside her was an older gentleman who resembled Santa Claus. The age gap between the two was close to forty years.

I almost asked if the man rubbing her shoulders and cooing support in her ear was her grandpa or father but I felt prompted to hold my tongue.

As I started the class I bantered with the girls and asked a few questions. When I got to these two, it didn’t take long before the story poured out.

Santa was the baby daddy.

And it wasn’t pretty.

The girl clearly had some mental disabilities attributed to an accident during her teen years where she had lingered in a coma for weeks. Although still able to comprehend, there was dullness behind her beautiful brown eyes. She struggled with social filters and boundaries.

And from a distance (without perspective) it looked like this man had taken advantage of a young mentally disabled girl.

My stomach dropped and I choked back the rising waves off revulsion behind my tongue.

But as I talked, I secretly watched the two and how he interacted with her. Surprisingly he was gentle and patient and kind. I saw true delight and care behind his eyes.

Huh?

And then all of a sudden Jacob came to mind –Jacob, the biblical patriarch who dealt a shady hand all his days. This is the man who stole a birthright from his brother Esau, finagled the best livestock from his father in law and took his wives and kids and hitched the first camel train out of town.

But then one night it all came crashing down and Jacob was forced to confront his brother and the past.

He spent a night near the river Jabbock (which means wrestle in Hebrew) and Jacob did exactly that –he wrestled with God. He came clean. He owned his past and persistently dealt with his junk until God allowed him to pass through. He came out on the other side wounded (with a lingering blow to the hip) but able to move into his future unencumbered.

And here was this man before me -a man with kids my age who had impregnated a young girl, who didn’t run for the hills.

He didn’t abandon her.

He didn’t encourage her to abort the baby.

I imagine he had to face some ANGRY parents and possibly law enforcement.

Instead he owned it.

He accompanied her to parenting classes, assembled a team of friends and family to assist her and stayed close by her side.

I saw a man wrestling with God.

His sin was painfully obvious. It was the eye-sore in the room. Even the young knocked up sixteen year old girls felt justified that their mistake certainly wasn’t as heinous as his.

And I was reminded that in God’s economy nothing is ever black or white. And grace and forgiveness and sacrificial love trump righteousness every time.

God gave me new eyes that night. I saw myself in this man and my own struggles with failure and brokenness. The Jabbock nights flashed before my eyes where I have confronted the past and wrested with my soul.

The nights where I have ripped open the shiny facades I hide behind to expose the real me within and acknowledge the deep crevices and prickly darkness to the one who knows my most secret sins.

I saw a man who courageously faced his grimy soul and sat before me humbled and refreshed.

Not many sixty-five year old men get to be new daddies. There was humor and pain as he shared his unfortunate tale.

And it made me smile.

I believe God brings families together in the most bizarre ways.

I believe he can restore relationship out of ashes.

And I believe he can build something new and wonderful out of a contrite grandpa/baby daddy holding the hand of his greatest source of brokenness and future blessing.

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The Illusion of Safe

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I am lulled into thinking certain things to be true. 

(Basically I lie to myself so I can go to sleep at night)

I tell myself a good a neighborhood is a barrier from the bad guys of the world.

I tell myself I am safe.

I live in Ladera Ranch –an awesomely Disney-esque suburb.  It’s supposed to be exempt from murder and rape and break-ins and a thousand other awfuls –or at least that’s how they justify our exorbitant property taxes.

But Ladera Ranch is a place, like any other place where a “neighbor” can  commit a heinous atrocity.

The darkness of the human heart isn’t finicky about addresses.

I thought about this long and hard after driving my kid’s to school yesterday morning as I watched helicopters and police cars circling around our little neighborhood. 

A shooting rampage that began in Ladera Ranch and traveled all over Orange County was underway. 

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to drop off my kids.  Kolby’s preschool and Faith’s middle school were only about two minutes away from yellow tape and a dead body. 

Mostly I just wanted to hug my kids and hubby and hold them close and I couldn’t relax until I knew the suspect was dead. 

One of my friends whose child attends my daughter’s school confronted the administration a week ago about school security.  They claimed “stuff like that never happens here” and “we don’t want to inconvenience the parents.”

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Hmmm?

Last week we had a massive manhunt for Christopher Dornier-the cop killer.  A few months ago a guy tried to blow up a bridge next to my office with enough explosives to take out a mile radius.   Now this teenager from my own neighborhood has gone Rambo on us. 

Am I the only one who feels like simply opening the front door these days is an adventure? 

A few weeks ago the police informed us our own block had been cased and multiple homes robbed.  One man posed as a solar panel vendor and the other as a magazine salesman.  In truth, they were going door to door assessing homes to see if anyone was on the premises.

Both came to our home.

I slammed the door in the face of the fake solar home salesman after he yelled at me for not wanting to save money on my electric bill.  Let me say that again…a man came to my door and yelled at me for not buying his product.

I was astounded any solicitor would yell at a potential customer. 

At least now I have clarity.

The other young (mid-twenties) man came to the door and met my husband. 

Tim took the young man out on the porch and sat down with him.  I offered him lemonade and he kicked back and chatted with Tim for about thirty minutes.  We ended up giving him $40 for a magazine I imagine we will never get. 

But he didn’t rob us-either because we were home or because we bought him off or maybe because he liked us.

Three other homes were not so lucky.

I wonder if my husband’s effort to build a relationship with the robber made a difference.

Did my lemonade and smile thaw out his desperation?

As my mind tries to wrap itself around the pain, I try to make sense out of the senseless.  I want to know why and how and analyze ALL the details.  I watch the news like an investigator and try to peice the clues together.  But deep down -if I am honest, I know my job is simple… it’s to pray to God, surrender and look for opportunities to love.  Because all too often I miss them.  Don’t we all?

I believe love is the only thing big enough to make a difference. 

I still feel wobbly, scared and numb almost twenty-four hours later.

And I am left with more questions than answers .

But mostly, I am sad –sad for my kids, sad for our community and sad for these lost souls who live in a fatalistic land of hopelessness. 

How are you coping with all the violence?

Draft my Daughter? Don’t Even Think About it

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As we are all now aware, Leon Panetta –the Pentagon chief has removed the ban on women to engage in combat.

When this story broke, it certainly caught my interest.  Mainly because I can’t understand why any woman would want to voluntarily stand in front of bullets whizing past her nose and suicide bombers.

That being said, I applaud any female who wants to risk her life for home and country.  There are many women who currently serve in dangerous positions and I appreciate their sacrifice.  If a woman meets the strict physical requirements for combat than kudos to her.

I’ve heard some pretty stupid arguments on this:

  • Sex will be rampant
  • Rape and torture will ensue
  • PMS and sanitary requirements will be an obstacle

I don’t really think these objections even qualify as arguments.  Sex is already rampant in the military.  This is not a new issue.  Rape and torture are a strong possibility for female POW’s, but this happens to the guys too.  Most of these gals know exactly what they are signing up for.  And PMS and lady concerns can be alleviated by Midol and the birth control pill, making this a non-issue as well.

What concerns me most is that women are so bent on equality with men that we have lost our own unique identity as women

When did guarding the frontline at home become obsolete?  When did caring for our children and investing in our marriages become passe?  Why are so many women blind to the fact that we are trading in our beautiful God-given traits of femininity for a power-hungry quest in the name of Feminism?

Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful to all the women who fought for suffrage and equality, but in this instance (women in combat) I think we have taken it too far.  Women are certainly equal but we are different, and it’s ok to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses.

I am a woman.  I am a life-giver and a nurturer and I am proud of it.  I can do many things that a man can do, but there are certain things men can do better and vice versa.  My fourteen year old son can kick my ass if he wanted too.  This is a matter of nature not nurture.

Women are also more relational and peace minded than our male counterparts.  No one disputes that women are as intelligent as men, but why do we have to compete on a defensive level too?

Ladies, are we that desperate for the thousands of highly dangerous jobs men occupy?  Is this what feminism has come to?

Are we really winning this battle?

Can’t we let our guys (born with a natural protective instinct) be the hero’s for once? 

I know Catniss Everdeen kicked butt in the Hunger Games, but this is reality, not Hollywood.  Most young ladies I know are not highly skilled or even all that interested in weaponry.

If the draft of my daughters is the next nut to crack on the feminist political agenda than you have just lost my vote.  I don’t mind if a gun-toting gal wants to VOLUNTEER to take on a frontline job, but do not drag the rest of us ladies into this.

I don’t want my baby girls playing with a Barbie in camo sporting an automatic weapon slung over her shoulder. 

I dated a Navy Seal once.  When I would ask him what he did in training the night before, he would vaguely mention being dropped off the coast in a helicopter twenty miles offshore and swimming back in the dark.

Just what every woman dreams of…sharks, cold, pain.  Personally, I’d rather deal with a teething baby.  I get all the sleep deprivation and drama without Jaws nibbling on my toes.

I am at a loss to understand why women would even fight for this?  I don’t see it as equality.  I see it as insanity.  I am willing to admit that birthing three kids (one without drugs), honeymooning in the Middle East, serving the homeless in the inner city and doing house builds in impoverished nations is about as brave as I get.  Call me a wuss, call me a WOMAN, it’s ok…

And I do acknowledge some women enjoy more a stimulating career.  I just can’t relate at all.

What do you think about women in combat?

Source: Associated Press

Photo Source: VeteransToday.com

Cheerleaders, Pink Push-up Bras and a Cause

It’s that time of year again –when the leaves start to drop dead from scorching heat and the vibrant green fields of football in HD take on a lovely pinkish hue. 

Pink?  Oh, right…apparently orange and brown have lost their edge.  These days “Fall”is so blasé.   Now it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Season.

I think Breast Cancer Awareness used to be a day, then a week, but somehow it’s morphed into an entire season. 

It ALSO used to symbolize supporting women who battle a deadly disease, but more and more it’s become a tawdry fashion statement and a way for retailers to exploit people’s compassion.

When I see NFL players in pink shoes and gloves I applaud their effort to raise awareness.  If Facebook turns pink or Google goes a light red for a week…Yeehaw! 

But when I see NFL cheerleaders in hot pink bras or neon pink cut-off tees just grazing their bodacious bosoms I think it’s gone too far.

What MORON makes these calls?  I’m guessing it’s not a woman.

What woman who has lost her breasts feels honored by a twenty-two year old girl shaking her fake oversized boobs clothed in pink?

The “I Love Boobies Campaign” is TASTELESS, pink push-up bras are LAME (in this context), and Jr. High kids running around wanting to buy new pink football shoes when they can’t even articulate what Breast Cancer is seems POINTLESS.

Is it about money or women?  Does raising money for research justify trashing the very object it’s supposed to fight for?

Breast Cancer is a frightening, painful and awkward disease.  Losing a breast doesn’t make a woman feel sexy, it’s terrifying and overwhelming in a way few can understand but the survivors who have made it to the other side.

Isn’t there a way we could celebrate this disease in a more honoring way, maybe an empowering way?

For the kid who has lost his mom to the ravages of cancer, a cheesy plastic bracelet does little to assuage his devastation.  The kid just wants his mom back.

I would love to see Breast Cancer Awareness find a way to CELEBRATE women instead of the message getting lost in an over-sexualized culture that subtly degrades the breasts it claims to champion.

 

 

An Encounter With Racism in Ladera

As the steaming hot and gooey pizza was placed on the table, five hands shot out to grab a piece in unison

We were celebrating my son’s fourteenth birthday before I dropped off his posse of freshmen football buddies at their first high school dance. The boys were giddy and amped up as only a potent mix of soda, pepperoni and hormones can do.

They chatted about hot cheerleaders, grueling practices and loads of homework while I secretly listened and delighted in their jibes and roasting.

“Hey mom, can we run over to the mini-mart to get some gum?” my son Kyle asked.

I snorted, “Sure boys, better pick up the minty fresh one for the ladies.” Kyle grinned and took off running with his friends at his heels.

As the boys hustled off, my husband and I smiled weakly at each other from across the table. It had been a big week for our son who started high school and suited up for his first varsity game. Kyle was now playing with athletes of an elite caliber and the stakes were getting higher and higher.

One of the boy’s was a new friend from LA , commuting to play football for J Serra High School. He was a shy kid, a phenomenal athlete and determined to carve out a different path than his gang-banger brothers. I admired the kid’s tenacity and dry sense of humor.

As they walked back in the door, I knew something was wrong.

Kyle burst out, “Mom, a group of older teenagers pulled up in their car next to us, pointed their finger at his friend and screamed, ‘I hate n—ers.’”

(You know, the worst word an African-American can be called)

My heart broke. I looked at the boy’s face as he shrugged it off, pretending not to care. Kyle and Nate didn’t press their friend, although I knew they were concerned and were struggling with how to respond and encourage him.

The awkward space between shock and discomfort hung in the air like the ashes of a wildfire lingering in the haze. We sat in the unease. There wasn’t much to say in the face of such ugliness.

The boy stood proud, not allowing himself to be sucked in by a group of racist white boys trying to intimidate and belittle. I struggled to hold back tears seeing his strength of character.

We changed the subject and moved on, but it affected each and every one of us.

There’s very little I dislike about Ladera Ranch, EXCEPT for the eerily skewed white-bread demographics. Few would deny that Ladera Ranch is a homogeneous Disneyland suburb with white picket fences and Stepford-wives abounding. And if there was a breeding ground for racism in southern California this might be it.

I don’t hate much, but I despise racism…

I hate that we took our young friend out and he was exposed to bigots. I hate that this young man –who is overcoming obstacles right and left to get an education and make a decent life for himself is subjected to idiots running around in daddy’s Mercedes with nothing better to do than make mischief and torment younger kids.

The next morning the boy and another friend from LA came to visit our church. I gulped and prayed they would feel accepted and loved by our congregation. Fortunately my husband, whom they smiled at and recognized, was on stage doing announcements.

A few minutes later a video played with a beautiful young lady from Kenya talking about getting connected and finding relationships here in our community. I turned and saw the boys relax and settle in.

And I knew God heard my heart’s cry to find a middle ground, even if it was just for a brief moment-where black and white didn’t matter and we all stood together side by side worshipping as one.

Christians and the Birth-Control Controversy

Two weeks before my wedding I paid a visit to the lady doctor.  She poked and probed me and then asked me, “What sort of birth control do you use?”

“None,” I replied.

“What?  Aren’t you afraid of getting pregnant?” she suggested in a horrified tone.

“Ummmm…no, I haven’t had sex with my fiancé, so it hasn’t been a big issue.”

The doctor looked at me and frowned.  “Well now that you are getting married, are we putting you on the pill?”

“Nope, we want kids.” I said.

“Ok, after the kids.  Then what?” she asked.

And then I shrugged and sighed and shook my head.   Because the truth is I get confused about the birth control issue and Christian evangelicalism.  It’s a big blurry gray area of dividing ideologies and as time passes even my own paradigm shifts with new revelations, not to mention my own painful experience with different approaches.

What I do know is abortifacient contraception is not an option for me anymore. 

Recent evidence suggests abortifacient contraception –the Intrauterine Device (IUD), the day after pill, and even the regular birth control pill distort the natural design of conception.

So if you believe (like I do) that conception begins when an egg and a sperm meet and a spark of life ignites, then who am I to play God and get in the way of his plan?

For a great in-depth look at this topic -read Albert Mohler’s, “Can Christians Use Birth Control?

But even without this controversial argument, every method of birth control I’ve ever used (besides a diaphragm, condom, or family planning) has always screwed up my body so much, that if I’m honest, I innately knew it wasn’t good for me.

The truth is birth control is just like all of those drugs advertised on TV.  Your initial symptom might go away –but beware of the twenty more issues you will now have… Like all those poor Propecia guys, who tried to grow more hair but now can’t get an erection.  Personally, if I was a dude I’d rather be bald!

And so it goes with birth control and the promise of consequence free sex.

When I took the pill in college, I not only gained weight but got so depressed I hid in a corner curled in a ball weeping.  Then I tried Depo-Provera -a nightmare of synthetic chemicals injected in my behind.  The side effects were so bad it was questionable if I would ever even want to have sex again.  I gained weight, became severely anemic and could barely get out of bed for three months –definitely not sexy!

Then there was the abortion I hid (like all my friends did in their early twenties).  But ironically, Planned Parenthood forgot to tell me and thousands of other young women about the consequences.  They didn’t mention how almost fifteen years later the recognition of what I had done would hit me like a tsunami, drowning me with devastating waves of grief and sorrow I then had to process.  Somehow I repressed the emotions long enough to justify my behavior –until I couldn’t anymore and the pain seeped out like a hidden vault of toxic tears.

All of my efforts to play God with birth control and taking life had detrimental consequences to my body and my heart.  It’s the reason I champion life now and speak to teen moms and parents of unplanned pregnancy. 

Pain changed my paradigm about birth control and life.

Maybe if we saw sex in marriage as a gift and as a potential life creating union it would mean more to us.  Maybe if we looked at children as a unique treasure and not as an imposition it would alter our selfish tactics.  Maybe we should question the price of “sexual freedom” and think twice about destroying our bodies for the sake of promiscuity.

As for my husband and I, we have chosen to use natural family planning methods.  For us, this makes sense with our belief in God’s design.

But it hasn’t been an easy road to navigate and there are no pat answers. 

What do you think about the birth control issue within the Christian evangelical realm?

Not so Compassionate

The other night I spoke to a group of gals at Birthchoice –a nonprofit supporting the parents of unplanned pregnancy.  It was the usual crew of girls albeit a few new faces.

The topic was pregnancy and exercise and the level of interest was slim to none.  I know not every talk I give will raise the roof, but is a small rumble too much to ask for?

One of the new ladies was either mentally disabled or had fried her neurons from excessive drug use.  I was warned by the leader that she had been very disruptive the week before and interrupted the speaker constantly.   I prayed for Holy Spirit intervention or at the very least, enough humor to keep it light.

Every few sentences I uttered, the woman chimed in.  I found out it was her fourth pregnancy and she walked an hour a day and the names of her kids and a thousand other details all while I was supposed to be speaking.

I kept thinking of Henri Nouwen and the lessons Jesus was trying teach me about compassion and empathy but my frustration level subtly rose notch by notch with every interruption.

I asked the girls a few questions to figure out their lifestyle and discern their difficulties in finding balance between exercise and babies, work and education.  

  1. How many of you work?                              None
  2. How many of you are in school?                One

And then I realized how my stupid my questions were and I got pissy and a little defeated.  One of the girls had been showing off her hair extensions earlier and when I looked up, she flipped her glorious locks over her shoulder. 

I think it’s what set off my internal envy switch.

I am standing up speaking and what’s going through my mind is pure evil…This is so unfair!  I want hair extensions for my scrawny tresses but they are too expensive and my kids need new shoes.  Some days I want to stay at home and not work two jobs to pay the mortgage and all the sports fees and endless activities for my kids; so what gives you the right to be lazy and Welfared and sooooo relaxed while I have heart palpitations and still take more time out to volunteer and share with you how to exercise when you are going to laugh at me and eat Cheetos anyway and then just have another baby? (was that a run-on sentence or what?)

After an exhausting thirty minutes, I finished up and exited quickly.  Normally, I hang out and talk with the girls but I needed to sort out my heart and emotions.

Jesus clearly needed to take the wheel back from Satan.

Here is what I discovered once I calmed down and dug into my crusty soul.  Like everything in life, nothing is black and white.  I admire these women for choosing life and not aborting.  I love them as sisters in Christ and I can champion and promote their desire to overcome adversity and grow into responsible citizens and loving mothers. 

But I cannot take on their burden if or when they choose to operate with entitled and lazy behavior, nor will I condone it. 

I volunteer and give because God called me to encourage and love these women and it’s possible only a few will hear the message and respond.  But even if it’s only one or two or even none, they are precious to God and to me.  My agenda is love and to come alongside them -not  to fix.  And in all honesty, at my worst, I am no different.  I too want to be coddled and cared for and take the easy road some days. 

But at my best, when someone believed in me –even when I didn’t believe in myself, it allowed me to experience a sliver of hope and to dream of a different and courageous life. 

A life where God can take a selfish and self-righteous girl –despite her complete and utter unworthiness, and allow her the grace to grow and minister to other women. 

 

 

 

The Homeless and the Role of the Church

“Excuse me, are you in charge?” I asked the elegant woman who was setting up a serving table of hot pasta and bread.  A long line of people snaked around the corner and were already pushing and shoving, impatiently waiting to be fed. 

I smiled and stuck out my hand which she ignored.

“Why?  What do you want?” she responded snappishly.                                                                         

“It’s our first time here.  We’re from Mariners Church in Mission Viejo and we brought some food and clothes too and we don’t want to get in your way.”

The lady rolled her eyes at me and turned her back.  “Do whatever you want,” she barked.”

I was confused.  I had just arrived at the park near the courthouse in Santa Ana notorious for its large homeless population.  Why did this churchy lady who was supposed to be helping the poor act like I was a dog pooping in her yard? 

It wasn’t about a lack of need.  The need was OVERWHELMING.  There were about two hundred people in the small park meandering around.

My group chose another spot on the opposite side of the lawn and set up our tables.  Within seconds another fifty people were crowding around us.  I asked my Marine friends to stand guard while we tried to find a modicum of organization amidst the chaos. 

All of a sudden a frustrated homeless man started shouting there were scammers crowding to the front of the line.  He yelled out “They ‘aint homeless!  You come here to feed us cuz we got no homes and they take all our food and go home to their houses.  They are cheating.  They’re going to steal the clothes you brought for us and sell them at garage sales AT THEIR HOMES.”

Certain faces in the crowd –certain VERY clean faces stared at the ground in shame.

We did our best.  We tried to bring the folks with tickets from the police for sleeping outside to the front of the line and help them out first.  People argued and shoved and I tried to be stalwart when my heart-felt like a squishy noodle.

A little later some of the homeless girls I was chatting with pointed to a woman with four nicely dressed children taking off with about six bags of our clothes. They claimed she was a known garage sale scavenger and in her arms was my prized collection of baby clothes. 

NOOOOOO!

They were Kolby’s first sleepers and handmade diaper cloths and I actually cried while packing the bags –trying so hard to trust God and to let go of stuff. 

And now here was this lady –this garage sale troll stealing my baby clothes from the people in need to sell them for profit. 

So I confronted her.  She played dumb and pretended to not speak English and I stood there feeling pissed off and helpless. 

Do I take my clothes back or do I trust God for justice?

And so I let them go but my spirit started churning.

When I got home I debriefed with my husband and he explained the reason why the other church didn’t want us at the park was because they make the homeless sit through a gospel session before they are allowed to eat.  And here we were just giving away food and clothes for free.

How dare we intrude with no agenda?  No Jesus shoved down their throats.  We had the audacity to just hang out and meet a microcosm of the need at hand.

It makes me sick to my stomach and yet…

I want to go back with a desperation I don’t understand.  I am dying to return to this septic tank of poverty where people are robbed and beaten up for the clothes we just gave them.  Where the homeless are force-fed Jesus by stupid and obtuse churches.  Where predators exploit the poor and use the system to get free inventory for their garage sale business.  And people without homes are treated like criminals and ticketed while the corrupt steal from them daily.

I want to go back to see Gloria who was so sick she could barely stand and to hang out with Princess who fled an abusive husband and to connect with Joe, the sweet filthy man who did everything he could to take care of his friend before helping himself. 

Joe pointed up to the sky as I left and then pointed to me.  I smiled weakly, not really feeling very Christ-like.  I was furious and resentful at the unfairness of life.

And in this awful place where I wonder where God is…maybe Joe reminded me. 

Sometimes it’s just about showing up.

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