The Real Pro-Life

Constantine_BWUnless you recently dropped your smart phone into a toilet and took off to live in a cave (in which case–how are you reading this blog post?!), you’ve probably heard by now that Planned Parenthood just had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. The viral sting video featuring a top PP doctor sipping wine and eating a gourmet salad while cavalierly discussing the wee babies she “crushes” has moved the abortion debate back into the public eye.

This post isn’t about the video though, or even about the abortion debate per se. It’s about what it means to be pro-life.

Many seem to think that being pro-life means wanting abortion to be illegal. While I applaud those who value human life enough to fight for legal protections for the most vulnerable of humanity, I’m here to tell you that’s not enough. That alone does not make you pro-life; it just makes you pro-laws.

If you think you are pro-life…

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Religious Freedom Changed My Mind on Gay Marriage… Please Protect It.

Be this...
Be this…

Friday’s SCOTUS decision on gay marriage sent powerful reverberations through the evangelical Christian and Republican communities. Evangelical leader Franklin Graham prayed that God would spare America after the ruling. GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee vowed to not “acquiesce to an imperial court.” Social media lit up with cheers from the Left and cries of disappointment and concern from the Right. I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing, to some extent, with both sides.

I am an evangelical Christian and a Republican. I affirm what the Bible teaches about homosexual relationships being a sin [1] … and I’ve been in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage for at least six years now.

Yes, that’s right, this right-wing nut-job was pro-SSM years before the much-vaunted harbinger of Hope ‘n’ Change. He “evolved” on the subject in 2012. I beat him to it.

Once upon a time, I did stand arm-in-arm with the bulk of my conservative religious peers (and the Clintons) in opposing same-sex marriage. I admit that I voted against it when I was living in Utah in 2004. I admit that, when Proposition 8 passed, I believed the voters of California had made the right call.

Yet today I am relieved that the federal government now offers recognition of binding, life-long unions to all consenting adult couples in every state in our nation. How did I come to hold such seemingly disparate beliefs? What caused me to reverse my political position on SSM six years ago, even as I’ve stood firm in my religious convictions?

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Real Love is a Choice. But Adult Love is Conditional.

the-broken-heartI was recently directed to an October ‘14 blog post (republished last month here) by Seth Adam Smith entitled “Forget About Feelings, Real Love Is a Deliberate Choice.” I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s contention that love is about what you do, not what you feel. I have said the same for years. As a teenager, a wise youth speaker at a church function gave the following definition of love:

“Love is choosing the highest good for the other person.”

I’ve believed it—and tried to live it—ever since. I don’t put a lot of stock in how others say they feel about me. I do put a lot of stock in how they treat me. Most of all, when I care about someone, I try to keep that question at the forefront of my mind. What would be the best thing for this person, even if it isn’t the best thing for me?

But as a survivor of infidelity who is now living life on the other side of a painful divorce, I find myself in disagreement with this part of Seth’s post (emphasis his):

“I’ve heard it said that real love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

It’s true.”

Except it’s not.

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What Single Motherhood Has Taught Me

Me with my kids earlier today, 05-10-2015
Me with my kids earlier today, 05-10-2015

Today marks my first Mother’s Day as an officially single mother, though I know, in hindsight, that I started on this road two years ago, when my ex-husband effectively abandoned me during my second pregnancy.

Here’s what the last two years have taught me:

God has special concern for single parents — The Bible contains dozens of references to God’s concern for the “fatherless” and “widows,” two situations that potentially involved single parents (e. g., Deuteronomy 27:19, Psalm 68:5). I believe very strongly that when Christians read those passages, they should think of “single parent” as one solid modern-day application, and a majority of single parents are single mothers. I believe that single mothers (and single parents in general) should be a special ministry concern for even the smallest of churches. It isn’t particularly altruistic to start showing concern for a group after you become a member of that group, no, but I know that when I’m done with single parenthood (whether by re-marrying or by raising my kids alone through it), I will always show special regard for the single parents I know. I hope others do, too.

Parenting as a single is better than parenting with an unsupportive partner — I won’t go into too many details here. I said this is my first Mother’s Day as an officially single mother; it has also been the best Mother’s Day I have had in years. When you are mired in an unequally-yoked relationship, you may not understand just how much of the weight you were bearing for the other person until it’s no longer yours to bear. Divorce wasn’t the end I thought it would be. Instead, it has been a beginning.

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Why I Believe

forget_me_not_heartMy daughter’s tiny body shone slick with my blood as my doctor pulled her from my body. A small, sickly cry rang through the room, the noise like the plaintive wailing of an injured cat. I watched the nurse rinse away the blood with a mixture of wonder and fear coursing through me. I would have to spend the next 18 years (and to a larger extent, the rest of my life) caring for this new person, and now it was time to meet her.

Laid in my arms at last, my daughter had stopped crying but appeared dour, her mouth closed as she looked up at me. Our eyes connected and a sudden, horrible thought invaded my mind. It was irrational. It was nonsense. I was being silly. I knew it. Yet, almost against my own will, I blurted out: “Does my baby have a cleft palate?”

Silence. The doctor and the nurse exchanged an addled glance. How would their patient know about a birth defect that she couldn’t see, even if it was there? I was used to my doctor not taking my questions and anxieties seriously, but I wasn’t having that now. I held my daughter out to them, practically thrust her at them. “Would you take her and check?!”

The nurse gathered my daughter up and took her back to the newborn station to examine the inside of her mouth. I am sure she expected to promptly report back that my daughter’s mouth was fine.

Instead, she called out, “Actually, doctor, can you come and take a look at this? I think there’s something here…” It turned out that my daughter did have a cleft palate. A partial soft cleft palate, the smallest kind of cleft palate that there is, so small that it tends to be overlooked upon initial examinations of the newborn.

My belief in the deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a lot like that moment in that delivery room back in 2006. That Jesus lived, died, and rose again is as real to me as my daughter’s cleft palate was that day. I had no proof that it existed, yet I believed it was there, so I spoke out.

Some things are true because they are true, and they aren’t always probable and they aren’t always rational, but they are very much still there just beyond what we can see, waiting for us to come searching.

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The Emotional Affair: What It Is, and Isn’t

(Part 3 of 3)

(Continued from Part 2)

Emotional Affairs

In my first post, I talked about the reason for this series. In my second, I touched on healthy platonic friendships between the sexes (or, what emotional affairs aren’t). Finally, I’d like to talk about what emotional affairs are. My definition of an emotional affair is as follows:

Any type of recurring non-romantic contact with a member of the opposite sex [1] that is excessive, lacks boundaries, and/or makes the faithful spouse uncomfortable or upset when s/he finds out about it

Working from that definition, let’s break down those pieces for clarity:
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Review: Financial Peace University — Mid-Class Review 1

My new budget binder. NERD.
My new budget binder. NERD.

Review: Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University — Mid-Class Review 1

I have now completed 7 out of 9 FPU lessons and also 3 “bonus lessons” (lessons from the discarded 13-week format). Here are some thoughts on the first third of the course:

Lesson 1 — Super Saving ~ I was kind of surprised that the first lesson was about saving. I figured the first lesson would be about getting out of debt. But no, in the first lesson, Dave encourages you to complete “baby step 1” by putting together a starter emergency fund of $1000. (He says the fund can be only $500 if you make less than 20k per year). The reason for this is so that, when you’re  throwing everything you have to spare at your debts (see Lesson 4), you aren’t going back into debt when emergencies arise. So that you can stop using your credit card as your “emergency fund” and begin the transition to “cash only.”

Thanks to this lesson, I now take a small portion of every paycheck or child support check that I get and put it towards my starter emergency fund. Between my tax refund I just received and the lawsuit settlement money that I should begin receiving this month, my starter emergency fund will be in place soon.

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Review: Financial Peace University — Some Preliminary Thoughts

Review: Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University — Some Preliminary Thoughts

money
As I’ve progressed through my divorce and on to single motherhood, the thought has occurred to me: money has been and continues to be a significant source of stress for me.

Here’s the thing: around the time that I got pregnant with my daughter (2005-2006), I began making a lot of mistakes with my money and my credit. Not paying my credit card bills on time, unpaid medical bills, utilities shut off, taking out student loans without a solid plan for repayment, you name it, I have done it or it has happened to me. My mother’s illness and death exacerbated my downward slide as I wallowed in depression and just ignored the bills, leading to my vehicle getting repossessed. By 2009, my credit was thrashed and apartment rental applications were the things of nightmares. Even my parents and then-in-laws wouldn’t co-sign for me.

In 2009, I said, “No more.” (more…)

The Emotional Affair: What It Is, and Isn’t

[Harry was funny. But he was WRONG!]

(Part 2 of 3)

(Continued from Part 1)

Platonic Friendships & Relationships

Let’s touch first on platonic friendships and other types of relationships between the sexes that can be intimate and even affectionate, but are not meant to be romantic or sexual. Doctor-patient, professor-student, lawyer-client, and mentor-disciple are some examples of types of potential platonic relationships between the sexes aside from good old-fashioned “just friends.” What is the difference between platonic relationships and emotional affairs (EAs), and are platonic relationships between the sexes healthy and desirable?

On some level, I am surprised when I find Christians advocating that married Christians should not engage in platonic friendships with the opposite sex. These are usually the same Christians who will readily argue that God is male and proceed from there to some kind of conclusion about male superiority because of it–yet if platonic relationships between the sexes are not possible, if they are not healthy and desirable, then how is it that Christian women are called to have an intimate relationship with this male God? Incidentally, I think the question of God and gender is a lot more complicated than “God is male,” and very much reject that notion. But I think there is little question that, in regards to his human nature, Jesus Christ is male.

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