Friday, November 13, 2015

Unexpected Blessings

For the past two weeks I have been sick. It started after a big rain as an allergy reaction, then didn't go away and it would appear (as I was just informed by the doctor) I got a secondary infection from someone else.  So now I'm on some medicine and on the mend.  But as I've battled sinus issues and coughs etc, I did what my mom taught me (and reminded me) to do:


I prayed for others with sicknesses like mine, but also those bedridden with chronic illnesses.  I prayed for people who aren't just sick for two weeks then get better, going about their lives, but those who face sick as a norm. As I prayed, do you know the amazing truth I discovered in praying for others who are sick? 

Doing so aids me with empathy.  I hate being sick, and it's challenging to find motivation to keep trekking with the responsibilities of life.  I can't imagine that reality being my reality!

Praying for those in my shoes also enables me to walk in gratitude! I can praise God that I live a fairly healthy life.  Embodying gratitude is truly about perspective, that is what Paul is talking about when he implores us to be grateful in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18).  It's not saying, "Thank you God I'm sick, I love being sick!" Instead it's seeing what I do have through the lens of this challenge.  

I also see gratitude in the fact that I have people to help care for me. 
My husband has been caring enough to forego his time to veg to be with the kids so I could nap or get a bath. Can I tell you what a blessing that has been?!

Lastly, I've grown in appreciation for my mom! My mom was hit by a car a few years back and now struggles with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a nerve disorder that has her in constant pain.  She rarely complains, and keeps moving forward as a spiritual light to so many.  What a Godly example! She's also the one, afterall, that taught me to pray for others through the trials of life so that what I face can positively impact the world!!!

If you are reading this, maybe you've begun to do some reflection into areas where your life can lead you to pray.  What challenges have got you down and what perspective can you see that will grant you gratitude? Life is tough, and my cold isn't even a major challenge, but if you invite God into any challenge, you may be amazed at the results!

Monday, October 26, 2015

All God's Children

In case you are just tuning in, we live in a narcissistic, entitled society.  We've been conditioned to get everything our way, right away.  It seems like the perfect set up for life until you compare it to the paradigms of the Bible.  We are literally called to an existence at the opposite end of the spectrum.  That can create an intense inner conflict as we seek out a path in the midst of this struggle.

Lately, I've been overwhelmed by my over abundance! I am admittedly, an empathetic, heart on her sleeve, emotional woman.  It's an aspect of my personality that I equally love and hate.  I love that I can go there with people in ministry and feel what they feel.  The other side of that coin is becoming so invested that I become debilitated by the cruelty exposed in the life experiences happening around me, something only magnified by the small world afforded to me with social media.  Videos depicting the plight of countless refugees, Christians and other humans tortured at the hand of ISIS, innocent people murdered as a result of someone's fame obsession and young girls sold into sex trade to satisfy the perversions of sick individuals have all left me asking some hard questions.  

Its hard to stomach the vast array of life occurrences that are experienced by individuals all equally loved by the same Savior.  My routine drive through the Starbucks line and quandary over getting the right hair products can seem vapid in light of the simultaneous struggle happening in the lives of those experiencing persecution and abuse.  Who am I to belly ache about my poor service from my home warranty when I have a home! 

My life has it's struggles and I don't want to diminish the challenges so many in Western countries face with disease, divorce, addictions, abuse, familial loss and the like, but truthfully my everyday routine is free from danger and oppression.  That fact alone has illuminated a truly humbling perspective.  As I have taken all this to God, I've discovered some clarifying tenants to my outlook.

I had nothing to do with the circumstances I was born into; I can take no credit for when and where I came into existence only how I respond to that existence. Yes, my culture has bred a hyper-selfish nature! I do think a great deal more about myself than I should.  I do spend too much time on the details often forsaking the heart of what matters most. This is a struggle, I believe, I will always work at because it is so innate in our society.  I can be intentional to pursue others-focused activities and volunteerism to keep on track and honor the lives those in lesser circumstances.  I can also stand up against injustice when I see it around me or have opportunities to be involved in efforts across the globe. 

 I also have come to understand guilt, while understandable, is not a healthy response.  I was recently speaking with a friend about a family who were visiting Mexico. During their stay, one of their two daughters was abducted. That would be tough to walk out as those parents did what they could to save their lost child, but would still continue to give their best to the daughter in their care.  They wouldn't want the one in their custody to have guilt, as she did nothing wrong, nor treat her badly to keep things fair. That would never happen. This scenerio is a great metaphor for us as God's children.  God loves us all the same, but sin in this world can create some undesirable circumstances for some of his children.  The rest of us can pray and do our part but continue to live in God's best and desire for all, which leads to the next point.

God's goodness is not bound by the parameters of circumstance.  Recently, I was reminded of this truth at a day of worship I attended. Circumstances reflect the state of our world not the goodness of God. Even in the harshest of realities, God is at work to bring goodness to his children.  

We often focus on the moment when God sees the journey as a whole.  He is not limited by time like we are.  If we could have a broadened perspective spanning the scope of our entire lives we may come to see God in vastly different ways.  

Be grateful for the life you've been given and continue to pray for the people of this world, just as you would a sibling who was lost, knowing WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I Surrender All

I've been in two major tornados in my life. Once as a little girl living in my grandpa's (Pappy) trailer in Indiana and again as a college student at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas.  Both were pretty intense situations. 

The metal roof of the barn behind our trailer was torn off during the first tornado; in the second, whole buildings were ripped up in the heart of downtown Fort Worth.  I still recall seeing a beautiful church sitting next to the steeple removed and placed just adjacent to the building.  

Tornados come through and when a structure gives way to the powerful winds it's taken apart piece by piece until nothing is left.  Imagine with me, if you will, a barn.
 As a tornado plows ahead in the path of the barn the roof comes off, the screws come loose, the walls burst forth.  It's a force that cannot be denied!

This afternoon I left my kids at home with my husband.  I got in my car and I drove to an event called, Oasis, put on by Full Sail Ministries.  This is a "come as you can" event with worship, prayer and spiritually directed stations to meet God on your own as you choose on a beautiful, peaceful ranch.  For someone like me working in ministry and motherhood, two things that are both busy and mentally taxing, this event is a HUGE gift. 

After a time of worship in the barn, the first station I visited centered around our posture of prayer before The Lord.  I laid my body down, face to the ground and said, "Lord, I surrender." As I said these words, God gave me a picture, something he does often.  This picture was of a barn and, you guessed it, a tornado. I could see this barn giving itself to the tornado saying, "I surrender."  As I saw this a sense of freedom filled my being.  

God has so much for me but it means letting go and wholly trusting him to do as he wishes, no matter the circumstances or feelings to the contrary.  It means giving him all and allowing him to get to work.  The surrender makes the process easier.  

So often my type A personality (my husband might say controlling), keeps me in a regimented schedule that pulls away from the force of the tornado instead of just giving in. When I fight the surrender I end up causing more pain and damage. The fight in life isn't mine, it's God's, and like with a barn and a tornado, I have no work to do, just be still! Exodus states this very truth in the fourteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter. As long as we fight it, we miss out on being apart of something bigger than ourselves. God is working for our good both personally and as a collective, and I'm glad for each opportunity he gives me to be the barn, because I need the practice.  What are you holding back? What do you need to surrender? It's not enough until you surrender ALL! 


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Motherhood: A Message Amongst the Chaos

Today was a great day, you know why? Today, I only had to wear the "Mommy" hat! The work hats and the juggle I normally face weren't an issue.  I wasn't racing around with errands either.  I was able to focus on my kids! 

My son responded well to the multi-hat absence, and I was able to ask him for cooperation without a panicked "I've got a million things to do so get with the program" voice that usually flies from my mouth.  I calmly interacted with my son.  I encouraged him to help me with household chores and to treat his sister kindly and when he first disobeyed he got a response not a reaction, which only made things better!  

I've been a mom long enough to know that doesn't always work out.  Some days even with just one hat and well tempered responses you still get a defiant grumpy gus.  

I also know on days where my list is a mile long, all that has to be accomplished wrecks my motherhood which dominoes into a self-loathing pity party ending in a guilt trip and complete devaluing of my abilities as a mom.  

It's nice to look back on history where moms were just moms, but for many today that look back does nothing but cause discontentment and resentment to reality.  

I have to work.  

We weren't created to do it all, but sometimes we have to do more than God intended when He created the world. I try to work from home some days so my kids still get me but that also creates some serious chaos.  I chose this particular mix of work and home life so I wouldn't miss out on these precious years.  These days go quickly! 

I realize I have to: 

1. Make the most of each day
2. Give myself a pass now and then
3. Let stuff go sometimes - Supermom does not exist! 
4.  Understand I'm doing more than God ever intended, it's not best case scenario, but it will all be ok if I persevere. 

I am a GOOD Mommy!  I don't always have good days, but my kids were given to me with purpose and they need me.  They will survive my "moments." 

On days when I start believing anything else I need to remember the truth in the sentences above.  

Today, maybe you need to give yourself a break.  Embrace the truth that you're a good mom! Sometimes it's not you that needs to change as much as the amount on my plate! Take off what you can and give the rest to God!! You've got this!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Used Life

A year from this day I was pregnant.

We had finished summer with a great trip with our extended family in Carlsbad, compliments of my parents, and had gone to Disneyland before heading home.

My Aunt and Uncle hosted us and we enjoyed some time with them when we weren't in the park.

I was gearing up for the arrival of our new baby at home and was trying to figure out the best way to absorb the office furniture into the rest of the house as we now needed that space for a nursery.

I didn't have much of a budget and had struggled to get my vision for the room to come to life. As I talked to my Aunt, I discovered so many of the things in their gorgeous home were garage sale or Craigslist finds. 

 I shared my difficulty in finding matching lamps to place in the room and her response sparked something in me. She told me I didn't need matching lamps, furthermore, making a room look nice wasn't about trends but finding items you love. If you love it, you can find the right spot for it in your home. I could see the truth in this just by looking at her house. She was creative and innovative as she made things work where she needed them. It amazed me each room we entered how many things were treasures she had taken from someone else's discards. She had to revamp a few things to make them presentable or even a thing a beauty, but I was inspired. 

 I came home and began to search yard sales, Craiglist, Facebook groups and slowly began selling my stuff as I bought things that worked for the space. 

 I found something else besides furniture, I found God. At this point you may be asking, "What is she even talking about?" Let me take a moment to explain. You see as I set out to search, I prayed. I discovered not only was God meeting my needs but through the process he was teaching me to trust him instead of holding onto my things and relying on them. He also invited me to be a blessing to others through the things I was discarding. I could pray for the people who were buying what no longer worked for our home and discovered some amazing stories of just what a particular item meant to them.

 A year later, the room is pretty much done (okay so my house will forever be a work in progress). I have a baby who is 6 months old and I am still doing it. I found a great Facebook group that is secret and private and its a great way to look for things I need in everyday life. I can then go by pick it up with kids still in the car and give them my money or visa versa. 

I have discovered that I don't have to go to a store to buy everything I need. Sometimes, more often than you think, you can use something someone else has already used and save some money. There have been times when I say, "God, I really need this." I don't have the money to buy it new, and sure enough there it is in a price range I can handle! 

This past year I've become aware of just how consumer-based our society has become! Reusing, repurposing and borrowing is a great way to save money, save the environment and quite frankly, built community. 

 That has been the greatest treasure in all of this! I have found a community. As we buy and sell between each other, friendships are forming. Women rallying together to find donations for a cause, performing random acts of kindness as they show up at someone's door and just having fun! 

 The past year has taught me that the used life, is the life for me...and yes, I will do a post about my living room redo with pictures. So you better come back and check it out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

7 Steps to Enjoying the Parenting Life During the Teen Years

My husband and I tried for 5 years before we were able to have our beautiful baby boy, I was so excited when I finally had a pregnancy that didn’t end in miscarriage! However, when we finally were indeed expecting, I freaked out! 

Yep, you see I’ve spent most of my adult life working with teenagers. When I was looking at raising littles I realized I was out of my league. I knew what to do with a teenager, but had no idea what to do with a baby. The age that most people dread seems most familiar to me and sits within my comfort zone. Even though I have become more familiar with the baby stage now with a 4 ½ year old little boy and a 6 month old daughter, it got me thinking. I’ve realized that teens get a bad rap. They really aren’t that hard to raise. 

Now before you start throwing things at me, hear me out. If you are freaked about the teen years you may be missing out on a great stage that could be a true blessing. Below are 7 things I’ve learned that may help the dreaded teen years be a dream. 

1. Get some rest 

Let’s face it, you’re tired! By the time your precious angel has reached puberty, you have been sleep deprived for far too long! When your kiddo enters junior high you’ve made over 1,400 lunches, said “no” over 47,000 times and been to the doctor’s office well over 150 times. Let’s not forget the number of scraped knees you’ve doctored, broken hearts you’ve mended, temper tantrums you experienced, late nights you’ve endured through stomach bugs, fevers, colds and viruses. 

 Being a mom is the hardest job out there and after 13 years of service you are wiped out! You are the marathon runner who’s hit the wall and is waiting for that finish line to get your last bit of adrenaline necessary to preserve. A little change of perspective and rest and you will see you got this. A strong finish is well in your future! 

 2. See the Toddler/Teen Connection 

It wasn’t until I entered toddler territory with my son that a lightbulb went off, “oh,” I realized, “this is just like a teenager.” Toddler years are about learning how things work, cause and effect, discovering who they are within the context of family, learning how they connect in the outside world and building self-esteem to go out into the world as they begin school. Toddlers need space to make mistakes and learn, but they also need you right there to run in when it gets too hard. 

 Teenagers are similar except this time they are trying to see how they fit in the world as an individual unit. It’s almost like a reboot of their system because things they once knew must be relearned in a new context. They know where they fit in the family and now need to know where they fit outside the family system. They are looking at other adults, other families to see how their family measures up. 

 A lot of parent frustration I hear during the junior high and high school years, are that their kids should know certain behaviors already, but the truth is with the new questions in this stage, they don't. They don't need the judgment, but instead need the room to learn just like you gave them in their toddler years. Parents aren't done yet, they still need to be there to run in when needed. 

 3. Push the Pause Button on Your Memories
 You will never forget that day you laid eyes on your baby. Maybe you had suffered hours of labor or persisted through a lengthy adoption process, but regardless of how you got them, you were there and those memories will never leave you. You may be wondering what this fact has to do with anything in relation to your teen? It has a lot to do with them. I look at my 4 year old and can’t believe he’s in preschool and no longer a baby in my arms weighing in at 8lbs, 10oz. They grow up so fast and it’s hard not to have that baby photo engrained in your head, but the teen years are for becoming an adult and that means separating from the baby you still see when you look in their eyes. They are ready to explore the world around them and they need to spread their wings so they can eventually leave the nest. That takes focus from you at what is ahead. Regardless of their words, they need you now more than ever. 

 4. Make Room for a New Relationship

 In some ways this is very similar to number 3.  You know your child better than anyone and that fact is a true asset, but you also need to keep it from being a liability. The history and relationship you’ve built can limit your ability to look beyond the child and see a future adult. They need you to help them make room for the new relationship they will one day have with you as an adult. It’s a work in progress, but as they test out the boundaries of who they are they need you to allow them some space to discover themselves beyond your knowledge of them. It’s not always about the result but sometimes building self-confidence in the journey. This is a hard transition but a necessary one. You can do it together! 

 5. Have a Life Line 

I made a major mistake with my youngest stepdaughter when my husband and I got married 10 years ago. She was 14 and I had been her youth pastor, but when we married my cool youth pastor persona was kicked to the curb and I was given the "oh my gosh, please don't do that" mom role. One particular occurrence sticks in my mind when we were in the car and I was dancing to the music on the radio and was given the look. I asked what the issue was, after all, we had enacting this exact scenario with a great deal of fun in the past, but she informed me, I was no longer allowed to do so as her step mom. 

 During those years she developed a friendship with a wonderful woman in our church. I trusted this woman to steer her in a good direction, but I got jealous. I had a knee jerk response and scared off this woman of God and their relationship suffered as a result. I know I'm not alone because I have been on the receiving end. I've seen moms get jealous when I've gotten close to their daughters resulting in limited interaction. The truth is that is a HUGE mistake. 

Your kids are always watching and listening to you, even if they do everything they can to make you think they aren't, but in the teen years, they need someone else. Up until now they've learned who they are in the family, but now they want to see who they are as a person and developing a friendship with a trusted adult is important. Now with that said, we do still have to be careful, because we still have to protect our children and we want to make sure that person is in fact supporting our child and encouraging the values we have. It might be a good idea to sit down with them without kids present and discuss what you've seen develop and how you would like to see things progress. A good candidate is someone who is there for kids but backing you up. 

 6. Get a Life 

 If you don’t know by now, your kids are watching you. They most likely model what you do not what you say to do. You are their prototype. Up until now, they have been your life. You may work outside the home, but most likely regardless of family details you are the one that takes them where they need to go, goes to their events, gets what they need at the store and provides the meals they eat. 

 Now as they are seeking space and doing more apart from you, you can do the same. I am not promoting busyness that will keep you away all the time, but instead something else to put your focus. Maybe it’s a hobby or spending more time with your spouse or both! Regardless, you need to show your kids that you are a whole person. You have interests and abilities that go beyond “mom.” 

 7. Give What You Want To Get 

It’s easy to talk down to our kids. We’ve spent years training them on how to do pretty much everything and while our training goes on, by now they know most of the rules. It’s just navigating through them as an individual. What they need most is love, respect and a sounding board. Its not fair to patronize them and treat them like children then expect mature respect in response. They need to explore the possibilities and the best way that can happen is if they are heard. 

They are learning to be their own person and when its all said and done that is who they need to be. It may not line up with who you wanted them to be, but that isn't your decision it is theirs. That doesn't mean you cancel house rules and create chaos, in fact some of their direction may be something that can't be explored fully until they are out of your house. The day will come when they do walk out of your doors into a life all their own and how you walk it out now will have a major impact on the path they walk in the future. Don’t quit loving on them, praying for and with them and just being there. Isn’t that what you need as well? It’s a relationship after all. 

 When it’s all said and done being a mom is hard work! You may have regrets or fear if you made a mistake doing it your way, but you can’t change those things now. You can keep going and enjoy the journey of motherhood because before you know it, your days with your kids at home will be gone. Embrace each season and know they are all wonderful times to invest in and experience your kids.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Planned Parenthood - My Emotional Response

In a post three weeks ago, I shared my two cents about Planned Parenthood in light of the videos that had come out exposing the money they make illegally selling fetal tissue etc.  That post took me an extremely long time to write because I wanted to keep my emotions at bay and truthfully Planned Parenthood can get me emotionally charged unlike any other organization, and I don't mean in a good way! As CMP (Center for Medical Progress) has now released two other videos since my post, I felt obligated to come back and share some bits of emotion.  

My abortion not only violated my moral code as a girl who grew up pro-life but it wounded me.  Thanks to a local Care Pregnancy center close to the TCU campus in Fort Worth, I was able to find healing in the midst of my college experience at Texas Christian University.  I loved my experience in college and am so grateful for my degree in Communications, but it's the healing I received in my junior year that is most treasured.  

Don't get me wrong even though I know today I don't live with the baggage of that choice, I still face hard emotions at times.  Sometimes the most obscure happening to cross my path can easily cause me to mourn my sweet, Tyler, the name I knew was his. 

 It is and always will be my greatest regret! 

I am hurt now, by the realization that his body may have been further profited on and mutilated for the sake of science after I left that clinic.  That thought hurts me and I'm left wondering, am I the only one feeling this way? 

Sure, I signed some papers before the procedure, but if you think for a moment I was in any state to do such a thing, you are wrong!  You can say all you want that women are giving permission but my guess (and by guess I mean based on my years of counseling women who have experienced pain due to abortion), that if women really knew the doctor was working in a specific way to protect a kidney or brain matter to later sell to research, they would be running in an effort to protect their child!

These videos bring to light one more thing I must mourn.  My poor baby was hurt and I not only let it happen, I agreed to it by signing the paperwork.  Be mindful that there is a third of our population that has made this same choice and many of them may be mourning a new level of loss!  Planned Parenthood must be stopped and we need a new non-profit that actually is pro-woman! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Parenting Life - Mirror, Mirror Down the Hall, Who's the Mother of Them All

We all remember the wicked Queen in Snow White with her magic mirror. She was happy as long as the mirror only showed her what she wanted to see, but the moment it reflected the fairest Snow White, the real conflict began. I've discovered in my mother journey that I also have a magic mirror - its called, MY KIDS! 

 I'm a self-proclaimed, "work in progress." Having grown up with my fair share of dysfunction, I've always made it a mission to face the issues from my past and properly learn to process anything that crippled me from living a healthy life. I decided not to stop with a Bachelor's Degree and have worked hard since college to make my spiritual and emotional state a field of study that is turning into a life long course.
As a Christian, I have seen the hand of God leading me down the path that brings me closer and removes the barriers that separate me from Him. If I take a peek behind me on the road I've walked in life up until today, I can see I've come along way, but the truth is, I have a long way to go. The biggest indicator of that fact has been my children.

 At first it was cute to see that my son was so much like me. His loquacious, bubbly, never short for words demeanor reflected a side of myself that I love. I was touched to see him mirror my tender heart toward the people around us and I laughed as he approached humor with the same silliness I do. As he grew the reflection in the mirror before me began to reveal some aspects of my personality and parts of myself that I didn't like. The mirror down my hall was changing his tune from time to time and at first it was very unsettling. 

 My son mirrored the same angry temper and emotional outbursts that I display when I'm overwhelmed or don't know how to work through what I am dealing with in a moment. When he was feeling bad about himself I saw the same self-deprecating remarks that I also use in low moments and I was forced to take a hard look at areas that still need a touch from God.

 Its easy to get discouraged and feel like I am failing as a mom, after all, I take this life-shaping job very seriously. I don't want to do anything to mess up a human being. Despite that pressure and seeing things I don't like, I have learned from Jerry Bridges in his book, Pursuit of Holiness, "a failure isn't someone who fails, but someone who stops trying." In those words, I get my reminder that the cement hasn't dried. I still have time to make important changes. I still have time to be real and honest, own my failings, learn how to process anger and allow God to heal the damaged self-image that can at times emerge. 

 I've allowed this reflection to be motivation not discouragement. I decided to venture out into better mommy boot camp and model what I want to be reflected toward me.  My goal isn't perfection! Let's be honest, there is no such thing as a perfect parent and you can't raise perfect little people. My goal, instead, is to be equipped and to learn to equip my babies to process anger and walk through life with a healthy sense of self and boundaries with those around us. 

 God has lead me to some great resources as I study being a parent and honestly, being a healthy woman. Its easy to get into life and not stop and take time to be intentional but I find when life starts to go south the one area I have neglected is my quiet time with Jesus. He's my best friend and yet I can forget to sit at his feet. I need that time to survive, let alone flourish. When I give myself to God, I'm a better woman, wife and mommy! 

 I've also found some great articles online using that resource we call Google. I found a great book for my own struggle with anger by Gary Chapman called, Anger Taming A Powerful Emotion. Now its time to study, I need to know the good stuff I've read and put it into practice. Here we go! 

 What do you see when you look in your mirrors running down the hall? Do they reflect the woman you want to be? Do you like what you see? Do your littles reveal areas you need to give over to God and make a conscious effort to change? Maybe you are a well-balanced woman excited about the ideals you are modeling for your babies, but have neglected your time with God. God uses anything he can to bring us closer to him, after all isn't that the goal?! 

 Yes, we are raising our children, but God is using our children to work in us. Don't forget to truly evaluate what you see and hear coming from your mirror and don't let the truth make you mad like the Queen. Instead embrace the opportunity to walk closer to Jesus!! If you aim for God, he will never let you miss!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Planned Parenthood & My Two Cents

When I was 18, I had an abortion. As a post-abortive woman, I have been asked about my response to the recent release of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) undercover videos of Planned Parenthood. The callous nature in which Planned Parenthood Directors discuss the illegal sale of dead babies' body parts doesn't surprise me. Why? 

  1. Planned Parenthood is Rooted in Eugenics 
 According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, eugenics is “a Science that tries to improve the human race by controlling which people become parents.” Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a eugenicist, against procreation for minority groups, those with mental and physical disabilities or a family history of serious maladies. Eugenics creates a slippery slope when you seek to answer questions such as: who can have children and who is qualified to make that decision? This history and motivation provides a negative filter on the aim to truly help those in need. 

In one of our earlier episodes of Life Report, a pro-life podcast I used to co-host, we discussed another undercover investigation which recorded conversations with people posing as racists openly wanting to donate funds to provide abortions earmarked solely for black babies. That request, which is heinous, to say the least, was not only accepted but was greeted with an excited response from one Planned Parenthood employee. 

 2. Abortion is Priority, Not Helping Women In Need 
Yes, some women choose abortion, suffer no coercion, speak no regret and would make the same choice if they had to do it all over again. Over the years counseling women who have suffered through the trauma abortion awards them, I have discovered the majority of women don't fit that profile. I have heard stories of women who visited a Planned Parenthood clinic, had an abortion, went home only to suffer physical complications and when they called or returned seeking medical help, they were turned away and ignored. I've heard even more stories of women who were fine physically but were plagued with immediate regret and they too were met with silence from Planned Parenthood. I did not have my own abortion at a Planned Parenthood, but did go in to discuss my pregnancy and was basically told I had to abort. Other women have told me about being forced by parents or a boyfriend to have an abortion and no one at the clinic stepped in on their behalf when they voiced desire to keep their baby. 

Beyond my own scope of interaction with post-abortive women, other undercover investigations have demonstrated cover-ups of potential sex trade and statutory rape. I recently heard a story where a woman details her experience with Planned Parenthood in 1993, as she was a young married mother of one, and needed a quick 'certification of pregnancy.' Her lack of insurance brought her to a Planned Parenthood. She tells of the intake worker telling her the timing "was ideal for making a decision" regarding her pregnancy, to which she was adamant she was keeping. They then charged her $47 for the urine test! 

Planned Parenthood states in their pie charts and related research through the Alan Guttmacher Institute that abortion only makes up 3% of what they do. Personally, I am not okay with 3%, but is it really 3%? A second look at the numbers seems to show a different picture. 11% of their clients obtain abortions, 14% of their income comes from abortions; they are the leading abortion organization doing around 27% of our country's abortions and just over 90% of their pregnant clients receive an abortion. Those numbers mean more to me than just 3%. 

Planned Parenthood applauds in their Annual Report their efforts to fight abortion stigma. The more literature and websites I read connected with Planned Parenthood don't reflect an organization that is Pro-Woman or Pro-Choice, but instead Pro-Abortion. 

The goal regardless of your view on the topic is helping women, right? Fredrica Matthewes-Green hits the nail on the head when she states, "There is tremendous sadness, loneliness in the cry, A woman’s right to choose.’ No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg." 

Even if they don't regret it, like I regret mine, abortion is not a pleasant experience. If you got to choose between a massage or an abortion, I can guarantee most would choose the massage. When women are left with a choice, the choice they really want is to be unpregnant. Abortion isn't the solution to make that a reality, you would need a time machine to accomplish that feat, and a time machine isn't available. Is the goal abortion or doing what's best for women? I vote for what's best! For that to happen we need to listen more and offer support as they seek what's best.  

3. Following the Law Is Negotiable 
If you have clicked on some of the links I have provided above, you will note that Planned Parenthood employees often coax their clients on what to say to get the services they seek. Instead of reporting illegal cases that walk through their door or denying donations that promote racism, they press forward even if what they set out to do breaks the law, using verbiage that sounds like compliance. The 5 videos that now expose their profit in "specimen" sales demonstrate their finesse in crossing the legal line.

How can we say its not a viable life when we are selling actual body parts for profit: liver-thymus, arms, legs, neural tissue, kidneys? Even if you were pro-choice in certain circumstances can you still back Planned Parenthood with the 5th video revealing yet another despicable fact. When a intact "specimen" is requested Planned Parenthood cannot use chemicals in the chance of damaging organs and has to birth a live baby before eliminating life for the purpose of profit.

The question I am left with is why Planned Parenthood? Why does our government fund Planned Parenthood? I understand they are funding services other than abortion, but surely there are other organizations that help women or grants that could be infused with funds to help low-income women receive services they need that doesn't include abortion. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Spiritual Life - Did You Hear Me?

In the past 4 months we've had to replace our oven, built in microwave, ceiling fan, air conditioner and had to get our washer fixed.  In the same time frame, we also have a newly acquired mountain of medical bills as a result of two family surgeries and the birth of our beautiful baby girl. 

Before I continue let's rewind a bit.  I grapple with anxiety, and as a girl who grew up with financial struggles, I see a great deal of anxiety show up when it comes to finances. I noticed a couple of years ago that while I would never categorize myself as a hoarder, I held onto items in my home out of fear of being without.  Over the past year I invited God to meet me in the midst of my anxiety and have been blessed with a plethora of examples of his love and provision! I've let things go that I didn't need so God could use what I had to provide for others.

He has shown me what it really means to receive our "daily bread" as needs are met at the moment of need. In this time, God has been training me to trust him by showing that he takes care of me. My eyes must remain on him and not on the trial before me. In the time of training, God provided a bed when we needed one for our son, but didn't have the money, he provided the furniture needed to move our office into the living room so we could make room for a baby. My 15 year old vehicle that I had owned for 12 years was getting close to its expiration date and wouldn't hold our family with a new baby. We had no money for a new car, but when my grandma passed away, my parents shared the inheritance with us and it was just enough to get the 2012 van that now sits in our garage. God showed up and said, "I've got this." 

In that time, our budgeting efforts compliments of Dave Ramsey provided our family with a nice cushion in our checking account, which was amazing considering before we started Financial Peace University, we often ran into the next pay period check, sometimes finding our account was overdrawn. I felt secure with extra money in the checking account. I loved seeing God provide.

But I also felt anxious because I knew what was coming: a test! 
Its not enough to say I can trust God, I have to show him I do. Back to reality of 4 months with constant repairs and medical bill mayhem and I can tell you that cushion in our checking account went away and I realized my security couldn't rest in what I had in the bank, but in God. I realized my test had arrived and God would be asking, "Did you hear me?" For a year he had been telling me he had this. Its easy to trust when there is money in the bank and everything is getting paid.
 Two weeks ago I sat at the kitchen counter trying to figure out the budget. I called our doctor's office and was told I couldn't just make the $50 payment I had budgeted but would have to pay the full $250 or we would be turned away next time we arrived. Then to add insult to injury, they informed me a $400 bill was processing and would come my way any day now. I then called the hospital and was told the $1,150 I had paid in the past 3 months wasn't enough to keep me out of collections. The lab where one of our post surgery results was processed informed me I could only make 6 payments and my current payment of $25 was not enough to pay off the bill in 6 payments. Even with my debt snowball, it wasn't enough. I began to feel overwhelmed and was headed toward an anxiety attack. Did I still believe God when the medical bill collectors were calling and our budget sheet started showing a $500 deficit? The tears were ready to burst through when I remembered what I had learned. I stopped and said, "Yes, Lord, I hear you! I praise you for your provisions and will continue to do my part knowing, you've got this!" I don't know how God will do it, but I chose in that moment to praise him for what I could not yet see.

The good news is, I can be done with fear. I have let it control my life for too long and I know learning to walk by faith NOT by sight, will be live changing. Do you see fear or faith when you look out into your life?
Its a decision and then a bunch of choses to follow that decision despite what you feel or see. Eventually fear will go away. It will have no choice when you have reprogrammed your life with faith. Let's do this!