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...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dear Conservatives

Dear Conservatives,
I used to be one of you, exclusively. In the interest of objectivity, I’ll throw out my bias here and let you know, politically speaking, I have no idea where I fall anymore. I am all over the map. I still have conservative leanings. Occasionally, I still enjoy a good Chicks on the Right or even (shhhh, don’t tell anyone) Matt Walsh post. To be clear, I often read them, as I like a wide array of perspectives, it’s just that I only enjoy them occasionally.
I read the comments, too.
I have to tell you. As a former you, I’m a little appalled at the hate speech. The vitriol is thick. You seem to really relish in painting all liberals with a really broad, nasty brush.
Don’t worry. I've read plenty of comments from the other side, also. The vitriol is thick over there, too. Turns out, you’re all unthinking idiots, as well.
But, dear conservatives, you get this post because you have one bomb in your repertoire that you use liberally, no pun intended. And it needs to stop.
Libtard.
You probably thought it was so clever the first time you heard it. A genius mish-mash of liberal and retard, blended together to show those filthy liberals just how stupid and worthless they really are.
Except it’s not clever. It’s lazy. Instead of articulating a valid argument to characterize the flaws in another’s point of view, you just sling a name at them to make yourself feel better. So clever. Perhaps you should consider the old adage: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
But it’s more than lazy; it’s hate speech.
By using that word, you’re no longer just slamming your opponents. Now, you’re marginalizing and denigrating an entire people group, those who have fallen under the medical diagnosis, Mentally Retarded (now known as Intellectually or Cognitively Disabled.)  And, frankly, those people put up with enough crap without you trying to puff yourself up with your own importance at their expense. Stop it! And don’t tell me you didn't mean it that way or you weren't talking about them. As the mom of two boys who fall into that category, I don’t believe you. You are making a clear and distinct comparison to my boys and people like them when you choose to use your own particular brand of that word.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re rolling your eyes and thinking about your right to freedom of speech, by golly, and how this politically correct business has gone too far.
Maybe. Except, I’m telling you that using the R-word, in any form, is incredibly hurtful to me and to families like mine. It wounds us a little each and every time we hear it or read it, even in the comments section on polarizing articles.
You may not realize this, dear conservatives, but people to the left of you view you collectively as a group who doesn't care about people, only about your rights and your need to be right.
So here’s your chance, conservatives. Stop using libtard. Grow a vocabulary and prove them wrong! Care about people, after all. Maybe then you will actually be heard.

(I usually only blog over at Grace for That, but I copied this whole post here, because it matters so much to me.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Coveting Freedom

I turned off the computer and went to bed, completely green with envy. Sleep wouldn’t come. One of my friends was jetting off to an exotic land on a missions trip with her daughter, and another on a tropical romantic get-away with her husband. Proof in pictures for both displayed on Facebook. I couldn’t stand to think about it, but could think of nothing else.
My discontent had been brewing for weeks.
While I adore these children God has entrusted me with, there is no denying that the special needs life can be trying. I had been focusing only on the trials.
Recently, the radio station I listen to has been encouraging listeners to call in to win a trip. Always up for a contest, I reached for my phone the first time it was announced. As I punched in the number, I suddenly stopped as awareness swept over me. I hit end call, instead. Even if we won a trip, we couldn’t go. There is no one who could watch Bo for an extended time.
The realization was a bitter pill. I felt stuck.
(Read the rest of the story here over at Grace for That.)