Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Forced Abortion and Scientology

Last night, I went live on Facebook for the first time and it wasn’t pretty, as in I was an emotional mess with smeared end of the day makeup etc, so I didn't give it permission to replay. While I didn’t want that emotional video left out there for the world to see, I do believe the heart of the message is crucial to share.  

I had an abortion at 18, if you have known me any length of time, you know that I don’t keep that fact a secret.  It is an area of my life that is very public for the purpose of helping others.  I was not forced to have an abortion, though at the time I felt I had no other choice, despite my moral and emotional objections to the act of abortion both as a platform and personally.  

Honestly, what I wanted was a time machine but that wasn’t an option.  Abortion was an immediate regret that carried with it lasting emotional baggage.  Through a series of trainings and my own personal healing journey, I have spent years listening to men and women share their stories.  Because I know the pain of that choice, I want to be there for others and also be damn sure it is a choice someone wants before they make it because there is no going back. 

I have been weighted down by the percentage of women who have told me the story of their FORCED ABORTION.  Only a few stories involved guns, but still they were forced, with threats of divorce or homelessness or shunning.  I have heard more pain over a conversation and coffee than anyone should have to hear, yet I am glad to be able to listen.  Each story is important and needs to be told.   I can't imagine going through abortion and feeling powerless to stop it because you were forced. 

Regardless of where you stand at the fence of life/choice arguments, can we all agree that forced abortions are wrong?  Its an area of common ground that I believe we should be talking more about and dealing with as a society.  I believe both sides of the fence should be able to come together to fight against someone being forced into a choice against their will.   We need to be a safe haven for women who do not want to have an abortion.  

With all that said, the latest episode of Leah Remini’s documentary about Scientology on A&E dealt with this very subject and found myself in my very own puddle.  This series has really been impactful for me.  I have studied and taken classes on World religions.  I thought I was pretty familiar with the belief systems of most popular religions.  This series has blown me out of the water with the depths of deception and abuse that people have faced at the hands of Scientology.   

This week’s episode revealed another dark side to this religion.  Apparently, it is common practice for women in the SEA Org (a training and career sector of Scientology) to be forced to have an abortion when they discover they are pregnant, because children would be a distraction from their mission.  I listened in as a former member and high-ranking employee, who had to escape for her life like someone escaping Nazi Germany, share her pain of being forced to abort her first child after getting married.  My heart broke as I was then exposed to other women who have lived this same reality.   What kind of religion forces their women to abort?!

I’m already past my desired word count, but I can’t end this post without saying again, forced abortion is wrong and denies choice.  Religion should never FORCE you to do anything.  If you are having to cut off from your family or abort your child, then do yourself a favor and run the other direction.  God is LOVE and that is NOT God!!! Thank you, Leah Remini and all others who are putting their safety on the line to expose this cult for all it truly is.  We cannot keep quiet about such heinous acts of abuse against people in the name of religion.  I am so glad I serve a God who uses love as his avenue to change the world instead of intimidation and abuse.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Value of Something Lost

Do you know the story of the lost coin in the Bible (Luke 15:8-10)?  A woman has ten silver coins and loses one.  She does all she can to search the house until its found.  Then she calls everyone to celebrate with her because she has found it.  Then this story is compared to how God celebrates when one of his children who has lost their way has been found.  

My dad is a pastor and has often preached on this parable, and others like it, as it demonstrates how God loves all people.  Just as the coin had the same value when in the woman’s pocket as it did when it was lost, so our value is constant.  It isn’t determined by any defining characteristics or any life choice but by who we are as a creation and child of God.  Humans have designated value based on appearance or achievement, not God.  This value goes beyond the bullying we perpetuate in everyday life to those who are living their lives to perpetuate evil into the world.  

This truth hit home for me this weekend as I lost my wedding rings.  I cannot find them.  I have looked constantly everywhere throughout my house and have yet to find them.  They cannot be replaced even if I had the money to do so because those were the rings given to me by my husband in our engagement and on our wedding day.  They are more than just the gold and diamonds that comprise them.  I have become distracted from all else as I seek to find them. 

God is allowing my own challenge to illuminate a very important issue.  As I see what is happening in Aleppo and all over Syria, my heart breaks.  I live a charmed life and have no clue what it must be like to live in a constant state of threat and fear.  I have been in some scary situations in my life but nothing even close to reality, today in Syria.  It hit me, even though there are billions of people on planet earth, God loves each of us so much that none of us can be replaced.  We see a sea of people and designate value based on how they compare to our lives, but God created each one with purpose and value and seeks their best regardless of the circumstances.  He is heartsick over his people who are wayward or mistreated.

God made those people and loves them as much as he loves me.  He loves those who are creating hell and those who are living in it.  We were all made by him.  We may not be killers, but in our country we are guilty if we live our lives focused on us and forget what others are facing.  We have responsibility for helping our neighbor.  

We need to pray and fight for our friends and family, we need to be inconvenienced enough to step in to help the helpless.  We need to have a passion for others equal to my passion to find my rings.  

Where is our passion for people?  Have we lost it in our own complacent living? As long as we have what we need and even want and can be entertained by our distractions of choice, all is well?  This is unacceptable.  I am not against enjoying life but most Americans don’t have balance between caring for others as much as we care for ourselves.  If there were balance, our world would look much different.  

About 7 years ago while in Thailand, my group gave money to our guide to help cover his expenses for the day.  He didn’t have much and needed that money for himself, yet at each stop we made, he would give some of the money we’d given him to someone in a worse situation than himself.  He had a heart for others.  It was beautiful and convicting.   

Is there someone that needs something from you?  Is there a sacrifice you can make?  Is there someone you’ve ascribed value to that is less than what they deserve?  Move toward balance and demonstrate self-less kindness for the betterment of someone else.   

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It Will Change Your Life

Monday, I went to the Mother’s Club meeting at my son’s school.
  It is always a wonderful monthly event, but being December, they had some fun giveaways planned.  Each of the leadership team picked a product to donate that was one of their favorite things.  It was fun!  As one mom gave away her selected item, she told the recipient, “It will change your life.”  

I began to think about it.  I have nothing but love for those women and can often be found using those same words toward products that have simplified my life, for example, my Instant Pot!!! Love it!!! So please understand, I am not slamming her for saying that sentence, but it did begin to get my thoughts going.  

I thought the most life-changing aspect of my existence isn’t a product or the magic of tidying up, but is in fact, a relationship with Jesus Christ as a Bible-believing Christian.  Yet, I don’t see people (often including myself) speak with the same passion when sharing Christ as we do our latest find in life.  

We have been gifted with the opportunity for my son to attend a Christian school.  It is amazing because I love Jesus and I love that Caleb is learning about the Bible every single day, all day.  The common denominator there is Jesus.  We all love God and want our kids to, as well.  So I don’t think its a lack of love for God in my community that is the reason for this lack of passion. I actually don’t think it is always the passion that is lacking, but instead there is a fear of offending or coming across too pushy.  But why does it bother us so much, when it clearly doesn’t when we offer to lend a friend a great book we just read or share the funny promo video for products we just started using?  

I once watched a video from known Atheist, Penn Jillette, (watch it here) share that if someone truly believes that Jesus is the only way and that if someone doesn’t choose him they are going to hell, “how much do you have to hate someone” not to share it with them?  What an excellent point!  You don’t have to throw it in their face at every encounter but if you have a friend or neighbor or acquaintance that doesn’t know God, I think we should at least put it out there and then love on that person as Christ would.  This looks very different from beating people over the head with our tracks and our rude demonstrations of pushy faith.  But the point made by Penn Jillette is very valid and honestly, if you aren’t experiencing a faith that has changed your life, you are missing something.  

This may also be the reason for lack of passion.  The change that Jesus does in our lives is as evident as a person losing 200lbs.  People will notice.  That kind of change creates passion.  We should be sharing our reactions to the “life-changing magic of the cross” in our lives.   Its a part of us and in sharing ourselves with people we want to know more, it should be a natural aspect to the relationship development.  

So here is my parting question for you:  How has Jesus changed your life?  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Empty Swing

When I saw this photo on, I was filled with a surge of emotion that is inexplicable.  It took my heart to a topic that has found residence in me over the past few years.

Truth be told, until the day I birthed a child, I could have died any day and been fine with it.  I wasn’t suicidal or reckless, but I felt no inhibitions to chase after life.  While I do struggle with anxiety, I had a solid spiritual confidence with no fear of the end of life, and I was ready to meet my Savior if that time ever came.  I still hold that confidence, but when my son was born, I instantaneously felt a tether to this world like never before. 

 I love my step daughters but coming into their lives later in the game, and having been raised by their dad, I didn’t really feel they needed me, at least not like the helpless baby I held in my hands for the first time on January 26, 2011 at 9:02am.  It was a reason to live like nothing I had ever felt.  

Now, after birthing two kids, that calling to be here on earth, to walk the journey with them, is stronger than I have ever felt or imagined.  I am well aware I do not get a choice in the number of days I spend on earth.  That is a God decision and I must trust him no matter what.  But those are weighty words. Its one thing to say them (or write them as the case may be) and another to walk them.  The other side of this coin is the thought of losing one of my children.    

I’ve never held my own child, then felt the loss of that life.  I have experienced loss, in abortion, years of infertility and miscarriage.  Those loses were real and I still walk out some of the grieve of those occurrences today, but I cannot fathom the loss of a child who I have held and raised.  To know someone by name and to watch their personality dance before you each day, then be without them anymore, is something that hurts me in an empathetic place beyond explanation.  As a woman in ministry, I have walked with people who have had to live this tragedy in real life.

It is this emotion that fills my heart when I look at the empty swing.  I see what should have been, what was and is no more.  I see loss and grief staring at me through the absence of a child on the swing. It reminds me to pray for those who have experienced this pain.  It reminds me to treasure what I do have and to see the beauty in each day, even when marriage and motherhood seem tiring and mundane.  We only get one shot at this life and we must cherish it.  We never know what tomorrow holds, we are only given today. '

As I end this post, I wish to write some names that I remember, names of children who left us too early.

I remember...


"Lord, teach us to laugh, but don't let us forget we cried." - Bill Wilson