Thursday, March 22, 2012

Woman's rights vs. Human rights

I came across this Huffington Post "article" (more of an op ed)  and I would encourage you to read it before reading the rest of my opinion piece.

10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the US is Nuts  (a pro-abortion piece)

Point-for-point this is a ridiculous opinion piece.  It starts and continues on the basis that all these issues are made by men and that women know their uterus’ best and does not even attempt to acknowledge the millions of women who are for many of these bills.  The thought that having ownership of a uterus means you are wholly qualified to know everything about it and it’s contents.  That would be as absurd as me saying “I have a heart, I know how the blood pumps through it, I know the way a beat feels, I’m not going to let a doctor who doesn’t have my same heart that pumps the same way tell me if something is wrong with it or if I am in need of surgery.  I’m educated, I’ll take care of it myself.”  The fact of the matter is, very few of us have 10+ years of solid medical training and can give answers for why everything operates as it does or know all the intricacies that come with that base of knowledge.
For the record, I also gestate humans.  2 to be exact.  Doe this mean women who have not been pregnant cannot have knowledge of human life or what occurs within their bodies?  Again, ridiculous.
I agree, women should not have to carry children to tern that have already died in the womb.  This is not a pro-life or abortion issue.  Abortion is the ending of a life.  If the life is already over, it is not an abortion.  A baby that could potentially die is, however, still alive and should be given the chance of life just like any other human being. 
Woman’s mortality rate in pregnancy/childbirth as of 2007 (last year the cdc has full data for) 12.7 out of 100,000 births or far less than 1%. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology did a 13 year study involving death surrounding childbirth and death surrounding abortion and found that the death rate in woman was nearly 3x more surrounding abortion than those that had childbirth. Put another way: the maternal mortality rate associated with abortion is 195% higher than the maternal mortality rate associated with pregnancies carried to term. Non-pregnant women had 57.0 deaths per 100,000, compared to 28.2 for women who carried to term, 51.9 for women who miscarried, and 83.1 for women who had abortions. Meaning women who carried a child to term had the lowest instance of death when compared with non-pregnant women and those who had abortions. (Citings:
Gissler M, Berg C, Bouvier-Colle MH, Buekens P. Pregnancy-associated mortality after birth, spontaneous abortion or induced abortion in Finland, 1987-2000. Am J Ob Gyn 2004; 190:422-427.
Reardon DC, Ney PG, Scheuren F, Cougle J, Coleman PK, Strahan TW. Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome: a record linkage study of low income women. South Med J 2002 Aug;95(8):834-41.)
All humans have the right to life.  Saying one woman’s right to sight is more important than another’s right to live is cruel.  If we have a food crisis and there is only one loaf of bread at the store do I have a right to murder the other person who reaches for that loaf so that I won’t go hungry that day?  This argument could also be used by those who think certain classification of people are unequal (i.e. based on race or religion, Jews being the most notorious example) and not deserving of a quality life.  If one person who thinks they are “superior” needs a new kidney and an “inferior” person has a perfectly healthy kidney does the “superior” person have the right to murder the “inferior” one to make their life easier?  This is the exact argument the author of this piece is making, saying one human life is less important than another.  It’s uncomfortable to hear, but that was the exact attitude of those who started the Nazi party and those committing genocide all over the world right now.
“Dr. Bernard Nathanson, cofounder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), who helped legitimize the claim that 10,000 women were dying each year from illegal abortions admitted years ago that the number was completely fabricated for PR purposes. He writes in his exposé Aborting America (193):
“How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In N.A.R.A.L., we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always "5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year." I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the "morality" of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.”
Dr. Christopher Tietze, then acting as the chief statistician for Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion provider in the world) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), also addressed the exaggerated claim of 5,000 - 10,000 abortion related deaths per year. He writes in 1969 edition of Scientific America (Vol. 220, p. 23):
“Some 30 years ago it was judged that such deaths (from illegal abortion) might number 5,000 to 10,000 per year, but this rate even if it was approximately correct at the time, cannot be anywhere near the true rate now. The total number of deaths from all causes among women of reproductive age in the U.S. is not more than about 50,000 per year. The National Center for Health Statistics listed 235 deaths from abortion in 1965. Total mortality from illegal abortions was undoubtedly larger than that figure, but in all likelihood it was under 1,000.”
In the year prior to Roe v. Wade (1972), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Sept. 4, 1992, Vol. 41, No. SS-5) that 39 women died from illegal abortion in the U.S (24 more died that year from legal abortions). That is a far cry from 10,000, and 10,000 speculative deaths is farther still from the 1.21 million actual deaths that are already happening each year through legal abortion.
The increased "safety" of abortion in modern times owes not to its legality, but to improved medical technology. Mary Calderon, former director of Planned Parenthood, estimated in a July 1960 article from the American Journal of Public Health that 90% of all illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians in good standing. She writes the following:
“Abortion is no longer a dangerous procedure. This applies not just to therapeutic abortions as performed in hospitals but also to so-called illegal abortions as done by physicians. In 1957 there were only 260 deaths in the whole country attributed to abortions of any kind. In New York City in 1921 there were 144 abortion deaths, In 1951 there were only 15; and , while the abortion death rate was going down so strikingly in that 30-year period, we know what happened to the population and the birth rate. Two corollary factors must be mentioned here: first, chemotherapy and antibiotics have come in, benefiting all surgical procedures as well as abortion. Second, and even more important, the conference estimated that 90 percent of all illegal abortions are presently being done by physicians. Call them what you will, abortionists or anything else, they are still physicians, trained as such; and many of them are in good standing in their communities. They must do a pretty good job if the death rate is as low as it is...abortion, whether therapeutic or illegal, is in the main no longer dangerous.”
In the end, the back-alley, coat-hanger abortion is nothing more than a convenient myth aimed at sparking emotions and arousing public sympathy. If abortion is outlawed in the future, some abortions will still take place, but just like illegal abortions before Roe, they will not be self-induced nor will they be performed by back-alley butchers. If abortion remains legal, however, millions of innocent human beings will continue to die, year after year, and this is both a tragedy and a huge injustice.
Rape is an abhorrent, tragic event in someone’s life.  Less than 2% of all abortions are performed due to a rape or incest.  We’ve learned our whole live that “two wrongs don’t make a right”; I do not have the right to kill someone because I endured an amazing pain.  Many murderers have used that excuse in court and while it may reduce jail time, I have yet to see a court say that the murder was 100% a-okay.
Now, we keep saying “human life” and the argument the author of this article is making is saying that the life inside the womb is not a human being and not deserving of the same rights as the female carrier (not a mother yet to them, of course).  Here is the scientific definition:
“There is a tremendous consensus in the scientific community about when life begins.  This is hardly controversial.  If the claim were made that life was discovered on another planet, for example, there are well-defined criteria to which we could refer to conclusively determine whether the claim was accurate.  How do scientists distinguish between life and non-life?
A scientific textbook called “Basics of Biology” gives five characteristics of living things; these five criteria are found in all modern elementary scientific textbooks:
1. Living things are highly organized.
2. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy.
3. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment.
4. All living things have an ability to reproduce.
5. All living things have an ability to adapt.
According to this elementary definition of life, life begins at fertilization, when a sperm unites with an oocyte.  From this moment, the being is highly organized, has the ability to acquire materials and energy, has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt, and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc., and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity has the potential to reproduce other members of the species).  Non-living things do not do these things.  Even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant, a distinct, unique life has begun his or her existence inside her.
Furthermore, that life is unquestionably human.  A human being is a member of the species homo sapiens.  Human beings are products of conception, which is when a human male sperm unites with a human female oocyte (egg).  When humans procreate, they don’t make non-humans like slugs, monkeys, cactuses, bacteria, or any such thing.  Emperically-verifiable proof is as close as your nearest abortion clinic: send a sample of an aborted fetus to a laboratory and have them test the DNA to see if its human or not.  Genetically, a new human being comes into existence from the earliest moment of conception.
Biologically, from the moment of conception this new human being is not a part of the mother’s body.  Since when does a mother’s body have male genitals, two brains, four kidneys?  The preborn human being may be dependent upon the mother for nutrition, however, this does not diminish his or her humanity, but proves it.  Moreover, dependence upon a parent for survival is not a capital crime.
As for the right for all women to have access to contraceptives, I am all for that.  However, there are some religious institutions that believe conrtaceptives as detrimentally against their faith.  I do not believe that they should have to pay for medical care that provides for those things.  That is not to say that those women are not allowed to purchase those things for themselves or purchase supplimental insurance.  Contraceptives are not a basic human right and you are not being denied access to those things, you are being denied having them at free or low cost to you.  If you are working for a religious organization that should not be a surprise to you.  I myself have had insurance through non-religious companies that did not cover contraceptives.  Why is this just now an issue?

All this piece was was an opinion without any backing and no scientific basis.  This is “woman power!” gone awry.  We have no right to expect our lives, whether female or male, to be more important that one another.  That is real feminism- to want ALL to be equal and none above another.  To put women above all is not feminism, it’s ego and vanity.  It’s, sadly, our generation.  We care far more about ourselves than anyone or anything else in the world.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What does it mean to be bold?

What does it mean to be bold?  That is a question that I had to ask myself today when I felt so strongly that I had to defend why Christians do and say the things they do.  My Facebook today was inundated with status updates talking about the beliefs of Christians being superbly cruel and our God being an imaginary poof that shouldn't have bearing on our lives or country.   This is what I wrote, for reference:

"I am surprised at just how many status updates today are expressing anger toward the Christians today. I want to try and explain why so many of us try to tell the world what the Lord wants from us and why we are so passionate about things like abortion, even though it doesn't always come out the right way. Please read this all before commenting.
We believe with every fiber of our beings that there is One God who made us and this world and made us in a certain way and requires a level of obedience to have a relationship with Him. His main desire is to never be apart from us, so he desires that all would have faith in Christ as their God and Savior who died on the cross to cover all our sins and was resurrected. If you have faith in Him, and let Christ pay for your sins,making you sinless in death, you will live in eternity with Him when you die. Those that do not accept Christ as their savior cannot enter Heaven because he cannot be around sin as Heaven and God are perfect.
How terrible of a people would we be if we didn't desire that all people would have that peace and joy for eternity. We don't want you to have the pain of a life away from God. So you betcha, we'll tell you about Him and we will protect the things He wants us to protect, like human life which He made very clear starts at conception. Just like as a mother you tell your child not to touch a stove because it will hurt, even if your child thinks it will be fun, out Lord has told us the things that will hurt us not only in this life but the next. Because I love you all I could never sit on my hands and watch you touch a stove because I don't want to hurt your feelings. I will tell you, the rest is up to you. Please don't be angry when Christians assert themselves into politics or other things that can hinder salvation. We're all on the same team, all children of God and he loves every human that has or will ever live. We would be pretty rotten people if we really believed all of this and never tried to share His love and promises with all our brothers and sisters in the world. Sometimes it comes out hateful, and that is our flesh and our humanity and not to glorify God. For that, of course I am sorry. I'm sure I've done that, too. But if we are bible-believers we cannot sit here and say, "hey, do whatever you want to anyone you want in anyway you want. I don't care if you never know the Lord." That would be much more cruel."
 So... I was using my phone and apparently don't proof ready. let's just get that out of the way :). It's hard to tell context and tone by text, but I intended this in my usual upbeat, trying to be loving, cadence.   You do have to expect that when you say the "C" word it will bring about some strong emotions.  We are ingrained with the desire to seek Him, and I think hearing about our beliefs pricks something in that area of ourselves and it makes people who don't want to know Him angry.  I had a few people do the usual, "so, then, I go to hell if I don't believe in your God", or "what about if someone is raped" (you can see my position on the latter one here ).  Disagreeing, yet very civil, and they are still my friends, even though they greatly disagree with me.  For my brother, though, it was too much.  He defriended me!  Now-a-days that's the equivlent of disowning someone or a divorce.  Talk about hurtful!  So it made me think, was I too bold? Should I hear the slander against Christ and stay away from the keyboard so as not to risk causing offence?  Of course I immediately consulted a strong friend via text and felt so reassured to just follow where I'm led in words and actions.  So I consulted the Word, and this is what I came across (I'll go through it bit-by-bit):

2 Corinthians 10

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Spiritual War

10 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

 Well, I know I am guilty of v. 1!  I tend to be much more bold with written word than in person.  That can really be confused with being hypocritical or, in my case, fearful.  Totally true for me!  Saying something to someone's face about something so bold as our Savior's message can be a bit scary.  The world does not like to hear it.  But, "boldness" and "lowliness" can absolutely exist in the same person.  Christ was bold and yet a servant.  Never did he stand on the holier-than-thou stool, even though he truly could have!  He is the Holy of Holies, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace! When we come under the cleansing blood of Christ, we too can take His attributes and desire towards it.  Plus, it is really easy to sound severe when talking of the things of Christ.  He really is so black and white and the Word is fact, so it can come roll off our tongue as harsh and too blunt if we let it and forget that we are lowly and above no one.

And, O our flesh! (v. 3).  As Christians we still walk in the flesh, battling it and our own desires that are apart from His.  When it says "we do not war according to the flesh" I was a bit stuck.  Does war according to the flesh mean live life according to the world or speak according to the world?  I consulted the for help:

"b. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal: When Paul battled in his wars, his weapons were not material, but spiritual, suited for spiritual war.
i. The carnal weapons Paul refuses were not material weapons like swords and spears. The carnal weapons he renounced were the manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. Paul would not defend his apostolic credentials with the carnal weapons others might use.
ii. In Ephesians 6, Paul lists the kind of spiritual weapons he did use: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. To rely on these weapons took faith in God instead of carnal methods. But truly, these weapons are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds!"

Oh!  Manipulation and deceit.  Those are methods that are so easy to use and can be so destructive to whatever cause you are standing for or words you are standing behind.  But when we stand behind the weapons God gave us and stand on His truth and don't waiver in our faith who could defeat us?

I love v.5.  That's what I felt like I was doing today, but didn't know if I was wrong.  There are so many things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, saying they know more or better than God or deny His existance all together. But we are called to bring all our thoughts to Christ in boedience of Him and His Word.  Through that we will win, because in the end of it all God wins. Period.

Blue Letter Bible also said the strongholds being stated here "in this context are wrong thoughts and perceptions, contradicting the true knowledge of God and the nature of God".  That means, we do need to be bold!  We need to be trying to being down these strondholds that tear apart people's lives and mean to harm our Lord.

i. Many commentators think the phrase to punish all disobedience is taken from the Roman military court. Paul is saying, “We are all soldiers together in this battle, and I am ready to bring in some discipline among these troops.”

Ahhhh.  So are we to only be bold to our believing brothers and sisters?  To me, those who have chosen to follow Christ must adhear to a higher standard; God's standard.  All of us are much more accountable to our actions among one another than non-believers.  So then, should we stand by when a non-believer ridicules God?  Hmmm. 

Reality of Paul’s Authority

7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.[a] 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us[b] for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.

V.8 (b)-  YES!!  This  is why we are called to be bold.  Not for the destruction of people or lives, but for the edification (lifting up) of our body!  This is not to make people feel "bad" or "wrog", but to make us stronger and unified as a whole so others can see our God and rejoice in it!

While searching boldness, I found this quote from Answers in Genesis

As Christians, we need to have the utmost integrity in all areas and be careful not to be a stumbling block to a fellow Christian. We should make every effort to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18). This does not mean, however, we will never offend a fellow Christian if, for example, a rebuke is needed. Even though we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), we might still offend. We must live by the truth of God's Word, and those people who are living contrary to the truth are often offended. Non-Christians may be offended as well. After all, the message of the gospel declares that they are sinners who need to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ. In a sense, we need to offend unbelievers in order to witness to them!
Although we cannot keep people from getting offended, we should make sure that it is the truth that offends rather than our attitude, actions, or approach. We must follow biblical principles in all areas. At times, offending is wrong, and at other times, it is necessary. As we spread the truth of God's Word, we should do so in love, humility, and boldness, making sure we are living by the truth.
There we go.  If we are letting it be The Truth that is offensive or" too bold", and not a hateful approach or better-than-you or sour attitude than that is exactly what we should do.  We are called to spread the word of our Christ so that they too may be saved.  So long as we share the Word and the Truth with love and humility, though some may be offended, others will be saved and our Lord will be proud. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"With the blood of the Lamb and the words of our Testimony...."

After consulting ye olde Facebook for advice about delivering my testimony to the youth group at church I had a lot of people who wanted to know my testimony.  Here is an abbreviated version that is focused o my teen years.  If you have questions or want more details of anything, let me know :)

I’m going to start my testimony in my Junior High years, as this is when Christ really started leaving me “bread-crumbs” in my life to get me to really follow Him.  I grew up in a very loving agnostic home where my parents never told me about God or Christ, yet I have known Him since a very young age.  As far back as I can remember I had prayed to Jesus and I knew who He was.  My parents never once hindered my desire to pursue  religion, but encouraged my making my own choices.  So, honestly I don’t know a time without Christ, but I did not attend a church (save for a Lutheran bible camp I went to in the summers) so I didn’t really understand who He was or what was required of me.  
In Junior High I went through a very rough year, and a very good year.  In 6th grade I had my first boyfriend, whose name funny enough was Kyle!  My best friend at the time had turned our friendship into a very hateful enemy situation by the end of that grade.  I felt so alone and scared that this Kyle did something that would be a hint of my future and the beginning of many trials for me.  He brought a gun to school with plans of shooting my friend.  When he showed me the gun at school I went crying to the principal’s office, terrified of what could happen.  It ended up only being a sawed-off BB gun, but it was my first taste of true fear.  Needless to say he was not allowed in our school district for 2 years and I began 7th grade so hated that I ate in bathroom stalls or in my health classroom for lunch.  I did everything I could to be kind to everyone and by 8th grade I had become popular.  In those two years my brother, who is 2 years older, had escalated into the drug culture and had brought a lot of fear for his future into our family.  My parents made the bold choice to move him out of this environment to the “big city” of Boise just before I started high school.
We were only there a few months before my brother’s drug use got so out of hand he was choking my mom while he appeared to be “sleeping”, had multiple attempts at getting him to a hospital and he did a month-long rehab in Utah.  He ran away to Seattle and slept on the streets, stole, and began a career as a dealer. One semester into high school my parents decided to move not just to another city, but to another state, to colorado.  My Dad and brother moved in January of 1999, and my mom and I followed after we sold our house in March.  In that time he had attempted suicide because he went from being adored and popular in Idaho to being an outcast in a very large, very preppy town.  My parents had done a lot of research into what they had thought would be the best school in the metro area and had settled on Columbine.  He was an instant outcast, being accepted only by the small grunge groups who were heavily into drugs.  I went and found instant popularity. I tried to spend time with my brother and be friends with his friends first, but I couldn’t do it.  I wanted friends, lots of friends.  I was very outgoing and within a week had more friends than I ever had in Idaho.  My focus was purely on myself, popularity, and boys.  But within that week, after feeling guilt over hanging out with my brother’s friends as they sought drugs, a few girls approached me and invited me to their church.  I had never really been to church before, but these girls were beautiful, the boys they hung out with were beautiful, and they were also popular.  I said yes and the next day I went to this huge church that had more people in the youth group than in my school back home.  I had never felt so loved in such a short period of time.  I was surrounded by happy people who wanted to be my friends. Within the week of going I had a basic understanding of Christ and I became saved. But my focus was still on me.  I wanted to be popular within the church.  I wanted them all to love me and look up to me and I wanted all the boys to want me. I really had no plans for obedience to God, but I was striving for obedience to the group.
A month and a half after moving here I had amassed a large group of friends, a boyfriend, and self validation.  Since my goal was my friends and  nothing else I had been ditching my science class with my boyfriend to go hang out with the people from church who had that period for lunch.  I had already learned about cumulous clouds and ROY G BIV back home so I didn’t feel like I needed to go to class.  But on April 20th, 1999 my boyfriend and I were outside of our science hallway, ready to go to the library to hand out with his friends when an overwhelming feeling came over me, telling me I had to go to class.  I tried to shake it off, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t even move a step forward.  I told him I needed to go to class.  Disappointed, he went to his class too.  I was sitting in class, re-learning things I already knew, being angry with myself for not going to the library, staring out the door where I could see the library and the stairs to the cafeteria wishing I was there, when the floor began to vibrate and a stampede of kids came up the stairs.  It was senior prank day, so my table mate assured me it was probably just another mustard hazing or something.  It took two seniors coming in saying that someone was shooting in the school before we closed our doors and hunkered under our tables.  
The next hour I heard gun shots, screams, what sounded like bombs, and the constant sound of the fire alarm and class bell.  Soon we heard nothing but those bells.  We sat under our tables for hours, not knowing what we had heard or the depth of what had happened.  When it had been long enough without a gun shot our teacher turned on the television and we were stunned.  The first thing we saw was Patrick Ireland coming out of the library window, leaving a bloody trail on the glass and wall.  I was in instant shock.    Only then did I begin to pray.  I prayed that my friends were okay.  Shortly thereafter I saw my friends Crystal and Erika on the news.  They were frantic, but they looked unharmed.  A wave of relief covered me, thinking they were all okay.  The teacher turned off the tv and my thoughts and prayers turned to my brother, hoping he had nothing to do with this.  I knew he wasn’t at school because it was a “holiday” in the drug world, so I didn’t worry about his safety but I was scared for his involvement.  I felt a wave of reassurance that he wasn’t and just stayed under my table waiting to leave.  After over 4 hours of uncertainty we were rescued by the SWAT team who had us at gun point until they knew no one in the class was involved.  They forced us to face to wall, and sometimes crawl, on our way out of the school to avoid seeing what had happened just outside our door. Up until that point, I thought everyone was okay. Injured, maybe, but alive.  We ran down the grassy knoll outside of our school and through the fence across the street and were taken to the elementary school to find our parents.  
A youth leader at me church saw me walk into the school and called my parents to reassure them that I was fine.  When I turned a corner and saw my parents I saw the fear on their faces and my heart sunk.  I couldn’t speak, because I was afraid of what I might hear.  On our way home the radio said there were 50 students believed to be dead.  I asked my parents to take me to my church.  It was youth group night and all my friends were there.  My friend Erika who I had just seen safely on the news, ran up to me, embraced me and cried that our friend was missing.  She never came out of the library.  People were talking about how some kids had hidden in the vents of the ceiling, maybe she was there.  I knew in my heart it was not going to end up that way.  I was in such shock that when I went home to watch the news, praying for a miracle for her, I couldn’t remember her name.  I couldn’t remember anyone’s names.
It hit me at that moment what Christ had done for me.  My life had been spared. My mind had also been spared having to see what my friends had seen.  I knew in that instant that the overwhelming feeling I followed that wouldn’t allow me to even take a step towards the library was Christ.  It caused me reflection back to the times I had felt that before.  He had saved me from ever doing drugs, having sex, retaliating, and many other things that would have harmed my future in Him.  That was the moment that I dropped to my knees in obedience.  I had no doubts of His sovereignty, love, grace, and mercy.  I also knew that He had been in every second of my life as long as I can remember.  That was the moment that I truly gave my life to the Lord.  
In the weeks and months that followed I completely changed.  I didn’t speak for nearly two weeks because I just couldn’t. (I was insanely outgoing, perhaps annoyingly so.  I had to fill every empty space.) The reality of what had happened was very difficult to process.  I still had tendencies toward wanting everyone to like me, but I was much more focused on the Lord.  Being at the school where my friend died and all the regrets and guilt that came with that became so overwhelming that I transfered schools, and did my best to not let anyone know which school I came from or what I experienced.  I was very involved in my church and spent nearly every day there.  
In my life since I have made many mistakes, lost sight of my obedience and shamed the Lord.  I have had nightmares for years and insane fear over dying and losing those I love in a violent way. But I have never not felt His love and presence in every aspect of my life.  Realizing just how much He loves all of us is so overwhelming and beautiful that I want nothing more than everyone to know our Savior.  I am not the best evangelizer and I am praying He changed that.  Even after all we went through my family still are all unbelievers and the fear of them not living in eternity with our Lord can be crippling at times.  I can hardly remember a life without knowing God and I can never go back.  Nothing is worth an eternity apart from our Lord.  No amount of money, popularity, boys (or girls), or any other selfish tendency.  Our lives are amazingly short and we don’t know if we will only life to 15 or to 105, live each day serving the only everlasting truth - our Savior.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wednesday Word - Only He Knows

This is a story I seldom tell.  Not because it is painful or otherwise difficult, but because I just don't even think of it.  Yet, for some reason, it's been coming up a lot lately. 

I believe everyone and every event has a purpose.  Doctors have been given amazing gifts and skills that can show us miracles and put us on our knees.  But I do think that sometimes , when a Doctor has been around a while and seen the same things day-in and day-out conclusions may be jumped, people and symptoms maybe lumped into a category, and things can get a little...blazay.  Does that make any sense?  If you belong to Kaiser it probably does.  Wow, way to make a blanket statement, Kelly!  Okay, there are many Doctors who do not fit into that category at Kaiser.  I just haven't had the pleasure of meeting that Doctor yet.

When my son was learning to crawl my husband and I decided that he needed a sibling. We wanted them to be close in age so we started charting and trying. A few short months later I got that beautiful little + sign on that special little stick.  I immediately bought like 10 more sticks just to verify.  So over the moon!  I treasure that feeling of knowing a fresh, new being was growing in you.  Everything in the weeks before that test felt different, much different form my 1st pregnancy.  I knew I was pregnant about 1 week before the test told me.  And with the help of my charting, I called to set up the 1st appointment for when my little bean would be about 8 weeks old.

My bestie Kate came over to watch Little Man so I could have this appointment be special, just me and the new baby.  (The Hubbs was working a lot -something that is the norm now- and didn't get to go to the appointments for this baby).  I couldn't wait to see her heart and her little blobby shape.  I was already convinced it was a girl.  It just felt right.  My daughter, I was going to see my daughter!  I was also hoping to see pigtails in there:)  Ha ha.  This visit was nothing that I planned.

After some joyous 'Hello's' with the doctor and all the staff, it was time for the ultra-uncomfortable 1st ultrasound.  It is not the belly kind you get later on, its internal.  Moving on... the NP was really quiet as we were looking at the screen.  She kept moving the wand around and all I could see was a tiny circle inside of a big oval.  I was searching for her, but hadn't seen her yet.  She excused herself and said she'd be right back.  She came back with the doctor and had her try, this time also incorporating a belly wand. I thought, "hey, maybe the NP is not used to this machine and is learning or something".  Then came some of the most painful words I've ever heard.  It was all a blur but the summation was:  you've had a miscarriage.  More precisely, the baby never even really formed.  I would need to have a D&C to get the sac and placenta out (what we had seen on the monitor) so that I don't get an infection.  I should have "passed" it all by now. 

How could this be?  I felt force or soul or whatever you want to call it.  I felt her.  How could she not exist?  Stunned and devastated I told her I'd like to "pass" her naturally.  She said after 2 weeks I'd have to have it done or I could get a devastating infection.  She made it sound like I would die.  No pressure!  I left to go get blood work done, took my complimentary picture of my baby sack, and went home.  I don't remember driving.  I don't remember getting home.  I do remember being a blubbery mess to Kate after she asked me how it went.  I'm sure she had never been more uncomfortable.  I called my husband and he was devastated.  When he got home he held me and said we'll try again.  I didn't want to.  I felt like I had lost my son, someone I knew and loves, and had held.  And I still felt her.  I kept praying "God, how can this be?" over and over.

And who did I consult next? Google of course.  I googled "missed miscarriages" and all sorts of things came up, from what happens in a D&C (inspiration for this, my most popular post), to what it means, to this website for missed-diagnosis.  There I saw post, after post, after post where someone had been told they had a miscarriage and were instructed to do a D&C.  These women also paid for the remains to be examined to see the cause of non-development.  In the cases posted there, nothing was wrong and the baby had been alive and growing.  You read that right.  Alive.  Healthy.  Growing.  I felt that little twinge in my heart that you get that says - this is you.  I called Kaiser and set up another appointment for an ultrasound in 1 week.

Do you know what they saw at that appointment?  My daughter.  My teeny-tiny very alive heart beating daughter.  They didn't have an explanation.  They didn't have a reason.  They also had no shock or emotion about it.  Just, huh... that's interesting.  Interesting?  Try a miracle!  Try, that baby was there and you wanted me (with a lot of pressure) to get rid of her.

We, as normal people or extensively trained medical professionals, do not know everything.  We have a tiny glimpse into things and we are so quick to think we have all the answers.  God knows.  He knew her from the moment she was conceived.  He revealed to me that she was a girl early on and He helped me to feel that she was very much alive.  Something that should have been a part of my testimony I found joy in then sort-of "moved-on".  I didn't talk about it much and just found joy in her life.  I went into labor on my original, charted due-date and teeny 5lb 15oz Little Miss was born.  She's still very petite, but super smart and always been healthy.  Here she is, Mommy's little miscarriage:

God is in and about everything. Lean on Him, not man (no matter how well versed or knowledgeable).  He will answer you, in His own way and time. 

When we become believers we have the Holy Spirit descend upon us and live in us, making us one with Christ and securing our salvation.  Having the Spirit also helps us to know things that are of God, feel the things God has done, and have discernment between the world's thoughts and His.  Here is some insight into how we just know things differently sometimes:

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (NIV... I know, I know) copied from
"We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[b] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?”[c]

But we have the mind of Christ.

I know that The "secret wisdom" speaks of Salvation, but this passage is also talking about how He guides us on paths where we can't see the destination, but He can.  Breathe easy, have faith, He know ALL things, someday we will, too.  Close your eyes, look deep into your soul and know He rests there.  And follow what He says.

Love you all!

Oh!  I'm flying to visit my parents for a long weekend, leaving toimorrow.  Please pray for our safety and minimal hang-ups when it comes to having 2 toddlers along :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Neighbor knock-knock-knocking on heaven's door. Err... our floor

 Since we have so much catching up to do, I want to rewind to a few months ago to October/November (2011). I deleted most of my "Debbie Downer" posts a while ago, so unless you have been reading for a while (or are a dear friend) you probably don't know about our neighbor issues. (Please enjoy this picture of Little Miss' 1st haircut as a visual of how cute my kids are as you read this, And, of course, the boy being adorably silly!)

Quick summary: we live on the 3rd floor of a building (Top Floor Family...get it?), meaning of course that we live above someone else.  I've lived here on and off for 10 years in the same unit and we purchased it over 5 years ago and changed the thin carpets to beautiful bamboo floating floors (you have to have a ton of padding underneath to be approved by the HOA to have wood floors).  I have never, ever had a problem with anyone.  But that all changed when we had our oldest and he started to crawl.  The young (30's), single woman who owns the unit below us was not a fan of the noise our baby was making.  By the time he could walk, and I was pregnant again, she started banging on the ceiling.  Only when he walked, or dropped a toy, or even *gasp* colored in his coloring book on the floor.  She couldn't care less about if I walked, our dogs ran (we had two at the time), listened to music, or watched a movie.  It was only centered around the budding toddler, and it was between the hours of 7:00am and 7:00pm.  He was not allowed to run, jump, or walk on his heels-only his toes. In the TWO years that followed it got progressively worse as our daughter was born and began to move, even after I talked to her, wrote her notes, etc trying to see what was up.  We started complaining to the HOA and after two years they decided to hold a meeting.  SO let's start there:

After years of her banging (violently banging) on our floor, her ceiling The Hubbs and I submitted an offer through the HOA.  We told her that if it would help her noise sensitivity and have us all live in peace she could install carpet in our unit at her expense.  We loved our floors.  They were beautiful and made a small space appear larger and less apartment-y.  But I was crying all the time, stressed out of my gourd, and honestly fearful of my families safety around her.  I was yelling at the kids for walking too much, talking too loud, or playing too much.  Crazy!  They should not be punished for being kids.  But me-being-me I did not want to make more noise to upset her and did not want things to escalate to dangerous places.  We never, ever, not even once banged back. And believe me, that took every fiber of my being to not do so.  I frequently had to drop on my knees and pray for what to do and to pray for our neighbor (who is a professed Christian).  We were prepared to just throw in our chips, amass a huge amount of debt and sell our condo for way below what's owed, because that is what it's worth on our lovely economy, and rent a house somewhere , ANYWHERE so that our family won't suffer anymore.

Anywhoo... they ended up fining her after seeing that we've done everything we can and having some 3rd party people who've heard the banging talk to them.  Our neighbor was furious.  She asked that an emergency meeting be held with the HOA and the council (or whatever you call it) about...get ready... our excessive noise.  What the what??  I, of course, was panicking.  What if they tell us our family is too loud?  What if they tell us we have to change our flooring?  How are we going to afford that?  What if they agree with her and she feels okay in banging more?  What if what if what if?????  And even though I could never hear it through my spirit of fear, my family and friends were saying, what if they tell her to stop?  What if they tell her you're in the right?  What if it all works out?

The meeting came, unexpected witnesses were there, it was very long and uncomfortable.  She denied having ever banged more than once, two years ago.  Witnesses came to say they had heard it as recently as that week.  She we signed up for the "condo lifestyle" and should not allow noise on the weekends before 10 so people can sleep.  She said she has emotional distress and can't work well because of us.  She also said she's never home to hear any noise (to try to say it was impossible for it to be her banging), while in the same breath saying the noise of our kids dropping things or walking is unbearable.  I was so blessed by the Lord because I was so calm and even-toned and my emotions didn't take me over.  The Hubbs was visibly upset at the things she was saying and was pretty upset. She was literally shaking with anger. Her sister was there to say she and her children had spent the night once and were woken up at 8:00am on a Saturday because of the kids playing and that it was inappropriate.  The council, all elderly men living in 1st floor units, are what some might initially describe as a stereotypical "crotchety" demeanor.  I thought for sure they were going to say "those dang kids" or something.  But do you know what I heard? 

"That sounds like kids being kids.  We live in a family community, not an adult-only community.  Their floors were installed to our specifications.  This is all happening during the day, when you say you aren't home.  We can check your installation to see if maybe it is inadequate, but that is all we can do for you."  I was relieved.  A wave of relief crashed all over me and I thought this was all over.

It wasn't.

Our neighbor was so mad, so upset that she was not the victor that she did something that I can't even imagine someone doing.  She found out what the Hubbs does for a living (law enforcement) and called to file a complaint saying he was harassing her and illegally investigating her.  She even threw around the word emotional distress.  That may not seem like a big deal, but it's huge.  Something like this could have gotten him fired and unable to find another job in law enforcement.  He is our only source of income so this would have left our family without money for food or a roof over our families head. Not to mention the defaming of his character!  God bless that everything my Hubbs does at work is documented on their computer.  They track everything (and I mean everything) their employees do.  If he had searched her name, driven to her work, looked up her license plate, address, etc, it would be there for all to see when it's researched.  Well, he is one of those black-and-white guy.  He doesn't believe in living in grey, it's either right or wrong and he stays in the right. Follows the rules to a T.  Makes him a very serious individual, but a very respectable one.  It took all of 5 minutes for them to find him innocent.  She was even still on the phone when they told her so. I'm so glad my husband doesn't read my blog because he would be so embarrassed by this...when he got home from work he erupted in tears.  Tears.  He is the strong, silent type (well, not so silent at home) and not ever the person you would think would break down.  He  knew he was in the right, he even went out of his way over those two years to never talk to the neighbor in case she would try to sue for harassment once she finds out what he does (happens a lot in that industry, unfortunately) and the hearing was the first time they had ever talked or been face to face.  It had to always be me before. 

Needless to say that relief was gone and my anxiety was through the roof.  Who would try to strip someone of their livelihood, risk an uncertain future for two little children, all for "revenge" for not getting her way?  I called a very kind friend who prayed with me over the phone and I felt immediate relief. She also gave me some advice on comforting my husband at this time that sort of shocked me as I'd never heard that before, and I'd heard it all.  No shame, but I won't repeat it :).  God had closed every door and window we tried to escape out of to leave this home.  He wants us here, at this time moving is just not an option.  So we ripped up our floors, put in super-de-dooper thick carpet and padding and decided we cannot let her actions bring down the kids.  We'll give our burden of this to the Lord, still not make excessive noise, and be kind to her if we see her (although not talk to her; attorney advice).  We've let the kids play, be kids, and have fun.  We've relinquished this whole thing from the neighbor to the house to the debt to where we live to the Lord- took it off our shoulders and I have never felt so much relief.  It's like a whole new world.  I can still tell that she does not like the kids' playing even after changing the floors.  She blasts her music or TV now and shouts at the top of her lungs.  But our places are built so well (concrete between floors) that we can just hear the faintest of noise and it doesn't bother us.  She's just hurting herself.  But after all of this , our familial relationship has never been better and we've never felt so settled in our home.  And I had no idea how much our other neighbors thought of us.  So many of them have rallied around us in support, some of whom we had never even talked to before.  Who knew?  This is definitely an instance of God refining us through the fire.  We had to go through years of uncertainty. hating where we live, fear for our children and selves (which sounds so petty for the situation, but was very real while living it), and lashing out at each other since we couldn't at her.  And because of it we're better people.

Moral of the story:  Once you stop focusing on what is going wrong in your life and see light through the stress and pain there is clarity and hope.  You just have to keep you eyes on Him and not on our own paper-cuts.

Who knows?  Maybe we are meant to be here as a witness to "the" neighbor.  Maybe through all of this she'll be saved.  Or maybe a neighbor?  OR... who knows!  But a plan is definitely in place.  I don't know what the future holds or when/if we'll be allowed to leave, but we'll take it a day at a time.  Oh, and this also means all my mommy friends are going to have to start doing play dates over here.  It's small, it's up some stairs, but it's our home.

Okay that's today's update.  Wednesday Word is (finally) back tomorrow!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Crafty Place Mat

I got something awesome for Christmas. It was of epic proportions and I have been in HEAVEN!  It's called and Accuquilt Go! and it cuts perfect pieces of cloth.  It's similar to a paper dies cutter, but  much cooler :).  I also was given some moo-lah from a kind family I do learning-play dates with and I immediately took to eBay and won a ton of dies in a huge lot for super cheap, because apparently no one was bidding on Christmas eve.  The first thing I made was a lap quilt for my mother-in-law for her birthday (she got me the Accuquilt).  Second I made this, a place mat for the messiest eater I have ever daughter.  (excuse the picture quality, it was my phone).

Yeah, there are things I would do differently, for sure!  But it was my first one so give me a break :).  Just in case you are dying to make this, here's how I did it:

1. I let my son go through my fabric and choose 4 fabrics that had yellow in them.  I wanted it to be cheerful! I think he did a great job.

2. I took my fancy schmancy Accuquilt and used my 2 1/2 strip cutter to cut one strip of each fabric 37 1/2 inches long.  I cut them all at once and literally did a little jig at the accuracy.  I can't cut straight for beans.

3. I sewed all the strips together (side by side) with a 1/4 inch seam. I then pressed all the seams open.

4. I laid out my newly-sewn long fabric and used my rotary cutter to cut it into thirds.  Each section should be 12 1/2 inches tall.

5. Sew those sections together!  Make sure you press your seams!

6. My next step was my favorite.  When I first got my dies I had to try them all out so Little Man chose some fun colors and we went to town.  Some of the things we cut were these critters (butterfly, dragonfly, and bee) and a ton of flowers.  I decided to use some of my critters and one of the flowers and sew it on.  I had applied fusible web to the fabric before sitting the shapes so all I had to do was iron on the shapes, and sew around the edges with a zig-zag stitch. 

7.  I then cut a piece of fabric that was 24 1/2 inches wide by 12 1/2 inches tall for the backing, and the same size for a piece of thin batting.  I then made a "sandwich with the right sides of the fabric together and the batting on top. Stitch around the outsides with a 1/4" seam and left an opening about 2 inches wide at the bottom for turning.

8.  I turned my place mat inside out and topstiched around the edges, being careful to ensure it closes my opening on the bottom.  I then decided I wanted a more quilted look and proceeded to quilt about a 1/4" around all my shapes.  I don't know if I'd do that again.  My husband said maybe I shouldn't :)  It still looks really cute, but the extra quilting gives it a lumpy effect.

So I made a couple more, without quilting (or piecing strips- I just used a singular fabric for the background since it was for a gift and not everyone wants it so busy.  It still looked busy anyway, because I am apparently allergic to solid fabrics).  Also in the picture I made a bib in the shape of a hunter, a baby book (from a kit), and a burp cloth.

Making your eyes dizzy?  Yeah, I love it!!  But I really need to get some solids so everyone else can stand it.

What do you think?

Where have I been?!?!

Umm.... I have a problem.  Well, many I'm sure, but in relation to my blog I have a big problem.  Huge.  I haven't posted in... forever!  That was not my intention but life and time slipped away from me and before I knew it it had been months!  I want to thank all my followers for still coming to my blog.  I thought for sure I would have no hits during those months, but I had the same amount (some months more) coming to visit.  Alright, I get it, you want me to write.  Thank you all for caring!
Alright, I've been busy.  I've gotten more involved with my church.  I love this church and have been going for years, but felt like I needed to really get in there and help.  That is something that is so difficult for me.  My flesh is so comfortable sitting in the back, soaking in the lesson, then disappearing.  No one knows my name?  Fine.  I don't want church to be about me, something that I've found in the past is so easy for me to do.
I've also been crafting again!  So way back when I was pregnant with Little Miss I starting a blog to chronicle my learning to sew.  Last post on that blog was just before I had her.  She's nearly two. So I'm going to put my crafty-ness on this blog, too.  Hopefully you don't mind :).  Sewing is so relaxing to me.  It can be stressful because I mess up a lot, but it feels so good and I get a chance to worship and sing and talk to God and come out with a project.
The Hubbs has also been working a lot more, so I've been worn down for sure.  He just added another day of work to his already packed schedule. We'll see how this goes...
And the neighbor-chronicles came to a head while I was on my unintentional blogging-sabbatical. 

All these stories and more will be coming to your eyes!!!  Stay tuned... First story of 2012 starts       NOW!