Friday, July 24, 2015

Abortion and The Myth of the Unwanted Child

Abortion. The topic immediately polarizes. Hackles are raised and you, as a reader, are waiting to be either irritated or relieved by what I’ll say next. Am I on your side or am I wrong? Because in this politicized, highly sound-bitten world, sides are what we’re left with in discussing individual lives and impossible choices.
It shouldn’t be.
I’m very open about being a follower of Christ. I have personally been on the receiving end of eight positive pregnancy tests and given birth seven times. It should surprise no one that if I had to choose a side it would be pro-life.
And yet, I almost cringe at that moniker, so filled with loaded political baggage I am loathe to embrace. Author Rachel Held Evans wrote a post a few years ago on this topic. While I disagreed with some of what she wrote, it resonated strongly with me because of all I did agree with that had been previously unwritten. I get frustrated when the pro-life side seems only interested in banning abortions and actively seeks to undermine programs that would likely stem demand, for example free contraceptives, low cost healthcare, non-abstinence based sex education, subsidized childcare, etc.
But, I digress.
I want to address a pro-choice slogan that I hear bandied about that no one seems to dispel, on either side. That of “every child a wanted child.” The pro-choice side likes to insist that if a child is not wanted at conception, he is going to end up a statistic of abuse. The pro-life answer to this is “adoption” as if that’s always a happy ending all tied up in a bow and not a potential minefield fraught with complication, loss, and heartache all its own.
Abortion is in the news again and I keep reading comments that it’s better for women to abort than for these kids to grow up abused. Never mind the logic that death is preferable to abuse which must surely rankle abuse survivors, I want to know why we just accept that thinking.
Why are we all so quick to accept that women who are very unhappy to find the line turn pink on the pregnancy test will, of course, become unfit mothers should they carry to term?
Because that’s crap...
(Read the rest of the post here at Grace for That. Don't forget to sign up to get new posts sent to your inbox while you're there!)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Vows

Let’s talk about weddings. No, not about those. I already offered up an opinion on that topic. No, I want to talk about weddings in general, vows specifically.
I’ll tell you my bias right off the bat. I’m old. When I got married a hundred, er, twenty-two years ago, there were set vows that were repeated in pretty much every wedding.
I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to obey/cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
The only real trend in that regard was to substitute the word “cherish” instead of “obey”. And we thought we were being so cutting edge.
A few years later, writing your own vows became a thing. As a writer, I think that sounds amazing. UpcycleDaddy gets hives at just the thought. Clearly, it’s not for everyone, but it has definitely become mainstream.
I think it’s romantic, and entertaining, and sweet, and personal. It endears those of us in attendance to the bride and groom and gives us a sense of who they are as a couple.
But, somewhere along the way, we’ve lost sight of what vows are...weddingrings
(Please view the rest of the post here at Grace for That. Don't forget to sign up at the post to receive an email notification of every new post!)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Won't Take a Stand on Gay Marriage

It smells like fear to me. And fear mongering. I try really hard not to make decisions based on fear.
I’m a follower of Christ. I know many of you are not who read my words and the term “Christian” has gotten all kinds of bad press, some of it well-deserved. So you may not grasp what Jesus means to me. He’s the reason that we felt compelled to travel across the world to get our Bo. He’s the reason that, even after two years of sleepless nights, I was determined to learn to love that little guy. He’s the reason, the only reason, I succeeded and feelings finally followed actions. He’s the reason my heart weeps for the unloved and the broken and why I so desire to love the least of these because that is what He taught me to do.
He’s the reason that I hope, when hope is in short supply; why I stand when my knees are quaking; why I say yes when common sense says no. Because He has shown me amazing grace, I am undone. I am not who I once was and I know redemption is sweet.
Because of Jesus, I have a soft spot for the marginalized, those thought to be unequal in our culture. Those with disabilities, racial minorities, those with mental illnesses, and those who are gay.
A few months ago, I read this post about gay marriage by Glennon on Momastery and it resonated with me. I particularly loved this quote, ” I think if people don’t believe in gay marriage, then mostly they should not get gay married.” It made me chuckle and want to put it on a t-shirt. Her ideas on grace were spot on, as well.
It’s like we Christians love the idea of grace, but we don’t want it distributed indiscriminately- we want make rules about it and dole it out carefully and strategically. It’s like we’re worried that if everybody knows that she’s loved and accepted by God – it will be Grace Anarchy! I want that. I want Grace Anarchy. I want people to be free to be who they are. It makes sense to me that the free-er people are, the BETTER people are. I believe in people because I believe in God. I think God knew what God was doing when God made each of us.
I’m not sure what I think of her theology when it comes to homosexuality, though. Truthfully, I’ve been praying about and wrestling it through for months. My poor husband has certainly gotten an earful. I felt like I finally need to figure out what I believe about all of this. Now that SCOTUS issued their ruling, I feel like it’s time to take a stand, either way. I don’t believe that being gay is a sin. But gay sex? I really don’t know. An entire life of evangelicalism, years of Baptist primary school, a year of Bible college, and a childhood as a pastor’s daughter are not so easily shed. I know I’m not alone in my ambivalence and confusion. I want to rightly divide the Word of truth like it says in II Timothy 2:15. Freedom comes with truth. 
I then, as a seeker of truth, proceeded to read all 1,986 comments on the Momastery Facebook page about this post because I am also an idiot. I’ve also read numerous articles on both sides and the comments following since the decision was announced. It’s enough to make your head spin.
A few things jumped out at me....
(For the rest of the post, read here at Grace for That.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Killed Nine People

A week ago, a stranger was welcomed into a church, sat among the people for an hour while they included him in their prayer and study, and then murdered them in cold blood because they were black.
In the aftermath, I’ve been filled with sorrow and grief and disbelief at the callousness with which this act of racial terror was carried out. As a mother, I react in horror at the thought of playing dead, listening to my son die next to me. I feel physically ill and overcome at the thought of waiting hours for word of my husband’s death only to be told that it likely resulted from the very first shots I heard that caused me to cover my child under me as I dialed 911. And then, to tell my children that their daddy is gone, but “We are going to stay strong and we are going to get through this.” I know I couldn’t.
And then these people, these amazing believers, offered forgiveness in the middle of their grief. I am undone.
How could this be that in the year 2015, someone could be so filled with hate at people he lives among that he would kill them? How is it that we don’t recognize that he’s a product of our culture?
I want to point fingers. I want to rail against the talking heads and bloggers and politicians who assure my well-meaning, conservative, white, Christian friends that racism is long dead, white privilege is a myth dreamed up by liberals, and they are fine, good people with nothing to worry about.
I almost did. (Blog post half-written.)
But then I prayed. I cried out to God in my frustration and my pain and my grief and He answered me. With a sudden clarity and white hot horror, I saw truth. I saw the one responsible. I saw myself.
I killed nine people...
...Read the rest of the post HERE at Grace for That.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I'm Tired of Holland and I Want to Go Home

One of the first things presented to us after the birth of Eon was Emily Perl Kingsley’s famed essay, Welcome to Holland. I was touched by the sentiment, but never a huge fan of the piece. Basically, it likens having a baby with special needs to planning a special trip to Italy, and then being diverted to Holland forever. It acknowledges the grief associated with the change in plans, but points out that Holland, while not Italy, has its own unique beauty.
I hadn’t thought about the Holland analogy in years until a friend who’s getting ready to adopt a baby with Down syndrome re-posted it in her blog. It, of course, caused me to reflect.
Eon was healthy. He’s also number six of our eight children, so we were pretty seasoned as parents. We didn’t really experience the grief so many do when they embark on this journey. We entered Holland and immediately moved to the peaceful and beautiful countryside to skip among the tulips. Sure, there was the occasional language or cultural barrier to navigate, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle and I was more than prepared to take it all head on.
Fast forward a few years and we added Bo into the mix. Still dealing with the known Down syndrome, but also tacking on autism, chronic health problems, and adoption issues. And, with Eon getting older, we now have to fight the IEP battles to make sure his educational needs are being met. Also, did you know that mothers of children with autism have stress levels equivalent to soldiers in combat? 
I feel as if we moved from the placid countryside of Holland into the capital city and right into the heart of gang wars. (My apologies to the actual country of Holland. I have no idea if you even have gangs.)
I’m tired. No, scratch that. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to learn more of the language, or suffer from the loneliness of not fitting in, or eat foods foreign to me. I don’t want to walk about and listen to people jabbering in another tongue. I don’t want to shield my children from enemy fire. I don’t want to duck and run for cover or cower every time I hear a loud noise.
I’m tired of Holland and I want to go home.
I long for the familiar, the comfortable, the easy. I miss the days of doing things without thought. I want to take my boys to normalcy.
bogradI hate that I have to know the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in its entirety just to make sure my sons are afforded the educational environment that is lawfully due them. It frustrates me to have to spend hours in research prepping for a new specialist appointment to ensure the doctor orders the correct tests and medications or to point him in the right direction of the likely diagnosis. The adrenaline surge experienced every time an older child exits the house and the alarm sounds leaves me in a constant state of high alert, terrified that this may be the time Bo escapes with tragic results.
I wish I could trust anyone besides his ever-busy oldest siblings to watch the Serb, and even then, I wish it were for longer than an hour or two if during waking hours. (And still my constant checking in drives them batty.) I, selfishly I suppose, want to go to weddings and parties with my handsome husband instead of the carefully planned divide and conquer routine we’ve orchestrated for social engagements. I’m tired of packing a diaper bag when my youngest is a typically-developing, fully potty-trained four-year-old.
I hate that I freak out over every green snotty nose wondering if my weekend plans are safe or if I should go ahead and pack a hospital bag, just in case. I’m frustrated when my son tries five times to tell me something and I hear the same unintelligible sound five times and I just don’t understand and he gives up and whatever was important to him at the time stays with him and our moment to connect is lost.
But mostly, I’m tired of interpreting our world to others who don’t live here. It literally pains me to feel my boys have been devalued, either by a stupid social media comment, rude stare at the grocery, or casual remark by a close friend. I hate feeling like I have to be positive all the time or someone may not understand that, while my life is hard, I would choose these boys a hundred times over. eonpool
Holland sucks, sometimes. Yes, Emily Pearl Kingsley, it does have windmills, but where do you find the time to look up and enjoy them?
I have a choice to make. Sometimes daily, sometimes just when I hear the bullets flying and I find myself ducking for cover, longing for the good old days of home. I can wallow in the hard. I can live in the frustration and the difficult, becoming bitter.
Or I can embrace the adventure of a life uncommonly lived. I can relish in my daily opportunities for growth and new experiences. I can be overwhelmed with the beauty of relationships I have that others pass by. There is community among the ex-pats of metaphorical Holland. The marginalized have a camaraderie all our own.
If I hadn’t landed here, I would still be living in my fishbowl of sameness, loving all the people who live and think like me. I would never have learned the stories of my fellow sojourners, come to value their perspectives, share their pain. I’ve found that it’s not just the parents of kids with special needs who land here. This Holland is a home to not just those with a physical or intellectual disability, but also people of color, or those with mental illness, even the LGBT community, any of us who are different than the accepted masses.
Because there is a place for us here. 
So, in the middle of my longing for normalcy, for what I remember home to feel like, do I really want to give up all I’ve gained, all I’ve learned, all I’ve become?
Not really. For I’ve discovered the true melting pot is Holland and here, there is grace for us all.
(This post first appeared on Grace for That.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Stop and Pick the Lilies

.....I want to love big, with all of me. I want to share, without pretense. I want to give, expecting nothing in return. I’m supposedly “cognitively intact,” so my emotional processing is a little slow and it takes longer for these lessons to stick. When I grow up, I want to be like my six-year-old son with Down syndrome. He has much to teach me still. 


(Read this post in its entirety here on Grace for That and see what Eon's been up to. If you poke around on that blog a bit, you can read about our IEP journey and catch up on his inclusive year in Kindergarten, as well!)

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Polished Turd

I guess it’s because I’m old or maybe just because I haven’t landed anywhere in the church, but lately I’ve been taking stock, reviewing history, wondering how I got here.
And by here, I mean nowhere, sadly. I’m disconnected and adrift. I can’t seem to find my people.
I spent years in a church that was a bad fit. All the signs were there, in neon, yet I allowed myself to be convinced that I was the problem. I was too brash, too confrontational, divisive. Time and time again, I retreated and allowed myself to be silenced in efforts to be a “good girl” or a mature christian woman. The message was clear: Follow the status quo, don’t ask questions, don’t show so much weakness.
I could never strike the balance. I watched other people share just enough vulnerability to appear humble, but still maintain a veneer of control and success. I envied them. They were esteemed as mature. My mask never stayed in place. I was all in, real, raw. My heart was on my sleeve. I asked a lot of questions. I secretly thought of myself whenever I watched the classic The Sound of Music and heard the nuns sing Maria. I always felt like I was a problem to be solved.
I felt tolerated, but never understood...