Monday, July 20, 2015

GodSpeak

I try to tell my children that it is important to take a stand in life for what you believe in despite the consequences.  I believe that God puts certain longings in our hearts that we must pay special attention to.  Sometimes, those longings are easy to spot and easy to heed.  Other times, the message is difficult and requires great strength of character to take on.

Throughout the Bible, God calls his people to take on seemingly insurmountable obstacles - David and Goliath, Moses parting the red sea, Noah and the ark, Jonah in the belly of the whale, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego thrown in the fire and Mary asked to bear a child despite the fact that she was unwed. 

All of these stories have two things in common. The first is that these mere mortals could not accomplish any of these tasks without the divine intervention of God.  The second is that they all said, “Yes.”  Jonah had to be helped to say yes, but he eventually came around and went on to follow God’s calling.

Each of these stories were pertinent to the times - the obstacles were seen as insurmountable relevant to the day.  For instance, an unwed pregnant mother would not appear to be a huge obstacle today.  Yet, even today, we do face obstacles that still test our faith and call us to rely on God to see us through.  We Christians are being thrown in the proverbial fire of our time when we stand on our faith against things like abortion. 

I’m sure that I will be thrown into the fire for writing this piece - but I must write it because I feel called to do so. 

I prayed long and hard about what to say and how to say it and I asked God to direct my words.  I asked God to speak through me to whomever needs to hear what I am going to say.  I trust that this story will reach the people it needs to reach and touch the people it needs to touch. 

This past week there was a very disturbing news story all over the television and the internet concerning the selling of unborn baby’s body parts.  I could use the word fetus - as if that is somehow more palatable, but the parts are human and fully developed.  In a humane world, those parts would be described as human and not fetal (like a fetal pig for instance).  In any case, I forced myself to watch the gruesome video of the woman peddling body parts over her fancy dinner as if they were auto parts. The unconscionable lack of emotion and indifference for what she was trafficking was truly mind boggling and completely indefensible.  Watching that video made me cry out to God and beg Him to guide me to speak out against this wickedness.

God’s timing is perfect isn’t it?  I don’t believe in coincidences.  So, I know that opening my grandmother’s old jewelry box just a few days after I cried out to Him was His way of answering me.  Today, when I opened the jewelry box to look for a necklace, the mirror fell off the inside of the box as it has been prone to do because it’s so old.  As the mirror fell, it revealed an ultrasound that I had placed in the box 26 years ago.  It was dated February 6, 1989. 

I remember that ultrasound because I was so excited to hear my baby’s heart beating.  The technician stamped the ultrasound with my baby’s age: eight weeks and four days old.  I asked for a copy and I put it in my jewelry box when I got home - a special place for my special baby. 

Today, I was thirty-one again remembering the day that this precious life ended.  My fingers feel almost frozen right now.  What do I say next?  How do I put into words the waves of emotion that still crash over me?  I can’t.  I can’t convey to the reader the awfulness of listening the the doctor’s clinical voice telling me the baby is gone in the blink of an eye - just a few weeks after I watched my baby’s heart beating strong.  His voice sounded like it was coming from the far end of a tunnel...” skull cap might still be intact.  I’ll have to perform a D&C to evacuate the incomplete miscarriage.”  I remember running out of his office, jumping in my car and driving for hours with no destination - feeling completely helpless, completely hopeless and completely empty.

Going through a miscarriage is tough enough with people around you, but when it’s just you, it weighs you down and burdens you in ways that I cannot explain.  It was just me with my misery.  My husband didn’t understand the tremendous loss I was experiencing and he expected me to get over it quickly.  We did have a beautiful two-year-old, Jennifer so he kept telling me that I should focus on her and move on.  He kept assuring me that we’d have another child soon.

That miscarriage was followed by four more over a period of five years. I didn’t think that I would ever have another child.  I considered Jennifer a true miracle considering my history.  When I became pregnant with Katie, I assumed the pregnancy would end the same as all the others.  Carrying her to full-term was my second miracle.  Then, I got pregnant one more time and lost that baby too.  Six miscarriages was enough for me.  Bill and I decided that we would adopt children if we wanted to grow our family. 

I didn’t know at the time that the miscarriages would become something of a catapult for me.  I didn’t know that the loss I experienced would be my walk through fire so that I could give voice to the voiceless.  I didn’t know that God would use my pain to make me stronger. 

i can tell you, though that I know now why God placed this heartache in my life.  I know that God was preparing me for a battle.  I know that this battle doesn’t require super-human strength but it does require super-human resolve.  It requires super-human understanding and forgiveness. 

What is the battle?  I know that God has called me to speak out against the atrocity of abortion.  I know that it is imperative that I speak out in a way that honors Him.  I know that I cannot just sit back and watch the horror of the trafficking of baby parts and do nothing.  I know that I cannot have a cavalier attitude about the tremendous loss of human potential that occurs through abortion.  I know that I cannot condemn women who see abortion as the only alternative in their life.  I am asking God to direct my path.  I am asking God to speak to me and through me.  I am asking that He opens the right doors and closes the wrong ones.  I know that this is my walk of faith through the fire, into the belly of the whale to face the Goliath of our time. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What Not to Wear

I know that I sometimes don’t really consider what I have on before I leave the house.  One morning, when I had a respectable job that required me to do interviews, I inadvertently put on two right shoes (one black and one dark blue).  It wasn’t until I crossed my legs during an interview that I realized my folly - it appeared that I had two right feet and the color difference in the light was quite obvious.  My colleague, who was doing the interviews with me, noticed my shoes at the same time and we both burst out laughing.  I can’t imagine what went through the mind of the poor candidate we were interviewing.  We had to explain to her my propensity to be clothing challenged.  The interview deteriorated from there and we ended up taking the interviewee to lunch (and hiring her).  

Fast forward a few years: I not only live on a farm but I work at a worm farm, so why would I dress up to go outside to feed the livestock or go to work?  A ratty pair of jeans or shorts with an old tee shirt suit me just fine.  Bill, a PE teacher, doesn’t dress up much either.   Little did we know how much embarrassment we must have brought our children because they entered us in a contest to win a $5,000 wardrobe - each!

Had we known we’d been entered in the worst dressed couples contest, we may have made a more conscience effort to adorn ourselves in the sneakers with the most holes in them or matching armpit stained tee shirts.  I have to say, I was wondering why our children suddenly took such a great interest in photographing the two of us together when we were out herding goats or on our way to estate sales.  For at least a week, it wasn’t unusual to find one of the children hiding behind a wall trying to sneak a picture of us in our casual attire.  I had no idea what they were up to, but I was too busy to really give it much thought.  I had goats to deliver and worms to feed, after all.

The photo sessions ended as abruptly as they started and I completely forgot about my children’s strange behavior until I got a letter in the mail from the TV show, “What Not to Wear”.  It said something like this: Congratulations, you have made it to the ten finalists in the “What Not to Wear” worst dressed couples contest. 

I was devastated!  How could my own children be so callous!  No wonder they were so intent on snapping pictures - the insolent guttersnipes (it took me a long time to find that word).  After calming down, I took an inventory of what I was wearing while I stood by my mailbox: No shoes, an oversized nightshirt with “Merry Christmas” on the front (it was July) and no undergarments.  At that moment it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe my children had a point.

As I made my way into the house, I read the rest of the letter:  Should the two of you make it into the top three finalists, you and your wardrobe will be flown to New York City where our What Not to Wear staff will make the final decision on which couple will be given a $10,000 shopping spree and a complete makeover. 

Did I call my children guttersnipes?  I was mistaken - after all, they were only trying to assist their poor clothing-challenged parents.  As soon as I got into the house, I immediately did a google search of What Not to Wear’s worst dressed couples.  From what I could find, we had some stiff competition; a leather-clad duster duo with purple hair, a pair of hippie throwbacks in camo and two punk rockers.  I was not concerned, though.  After all, thanks to our little cherubs, I was photographed barefoot in my daisy duke shorts and their dad in his ripped shorts with his ever-present white crew socks.  Surely, we had a good shot at making it to the final three. 

Sadly, we didn’t make it.  I don’t even know who won the contest - although my vote was for the hippies in camo.  To this day, I wonder what would have happened had we won.  Would I be leaving the house in Avalon tee shirts to tend to the worms?  Would Bill be braving middle school PE in Milo designer shorts?  Would I long for my University of Kentucky nightshirt and pink polkadot undies?  Would I never see my husband’s farmer’s tan again? 

I guess these questions will haunt me forever...