Thursday, September 10, 2015

Home Is a Moving Object

Time has an insatiable appetite, hording each present moment into its collection known as the past. Except even its ownership of all those moments doesn't satisfy. No, time must be sure we can't recollect what was ours. So it chips away at things, induces change, until the circumstances that made our memories are hardly recognizable. This is the conclusion I came to as I drove away from my hometown a few weeks ago. The building blocks of that structure, the "home" of that place, are gradually coming apart. Not crumbling or breaking, nothing so tragic as that. It's all the ordinary process of time passing, that's all. Blocks are removed, reshaped, separated from the rest. We all experience it. People move, people die, businesses close, buildings are remodeled, roads are rerouted. Essentially, time happens. What can we do about it?

Maybe the better question is what should we do about it? Because we can cling to the past. We can reconnect with as many old friends and acquaintances as we can find. We can dwell on what we no longer have. We can focus on memories until we are certain all was better then than now. But should we?

As I drove the two hours back to my present home after a weekend at my former home, my babies sleeping in their car seats and the radio giving a soundtrack to my thoughts, I let myself ponder all this. My conclusion: home is a traveling vehicle. It carries us, holds and contains us, and most of all, it moves with us. The old adage of "home is where the heart is" may be one of the most well known cliches of all time but that doesn't make it false.

We moved to our current home 5 1/2 months ago. I know exactly how long we've been here because it is the same as my little daughter's age, minus a week. We moved in a state of upheaval. Baby Girl spent one single night in our home in Menasha. We returned from the hospital and rested in a rocking chair while every other piece of furniture, article of clothing, and cooking utensil was packed up and hauled out. Then my husband began his new job, sleeping at the worst motel in our new town, and the kids and I had a limbo week at my parents' house while we waited for our place to be move-in ready. We unloaded all those boxes in Manitowoc and we were home. In the weeks and months that followed I have answered the "does it feel like home yet?" question countless times. I realize now that I've been answering incorrectly. I usually talked about what still needs to be done to settle in. I described where we were at in the stages of unpacking and decorating. I spoke of feeling like a stranger at our new church or how I don't have friends yet, stopping short of admitting just how lonely I am. I mentioned my gradual familiarity of the city's layout and what stores or restaurants or parks we've tried out. None of that answers the question though.

If I answered with clarity I'd say simply, "Yes." Yes, it feels like home. Just as our duplex in Menasha felt like home, or our apartment in Appleton after the wedding, or the apartment and then house I shared with my sister and friend in the years before being married, it feels like home. Because it is where I live. Not where I used to live or wish I lived or where my extended family or various friends live, but where I live now. It is where my life is happening. Home is a moving object. If I understand what makes a place or situation "home" then I can be sure to never leave it behind or have it taken from me. It will move and change with me, surround me at all times. It will be the scene of my life being lived, and that alone will give it the privilege of being called home.

Friday, July 31, 2015

I Am Not Shocked

I have said little about the undercover investigative videos revealing the practices of Planned Parenthood in the harvesting and selling of organs and tissues from aborted babies. I have said too little. I have read and heard plenty. Articles, blog posts, response videos, rants, prayers, questions, arguments. But I have said little. I have held back because it has been incredibly difficult to find my words in this instance. That's not a common trouble for me. This time though, the words... well, they're here now and they are this: I am not shocked.

When the doctor in the first video drank red wine and munched on salad during the pauses in her conversation about the techniques that help preserve the wanted organs as the child is killed, I was not shocked. When the second video dripped with the woman's cold greed as she laughed over her dream of a Lamborghini from the profits of their sales, I was not shocked. When the third video was released and this time the investigative journalist was actually in the room while they are sorting parts of the baby and speaking in even greater detail of the commonplace practices, I was not shocked.

Now there is a fourth video. I can't watch it. I can't stomach it. But I have read a thorough description of it. The doctor pointing out the organs to be harvested. The assisting tech exclaiming that it was a boy. The mentioning of how they handle the situation (i.e. still carry out the killing & harvesting) when the baby is delivered before they can perform their procedure (i.e. born alive before the abortion can be completed). On and on. And still, I am not shocked.

Disgusted, heartbroken, sad, angry - all these things and more, yes, but not shocked.

I have wept. I have shook my head, hung my chin against my chest, and cried. My tears have fallen for these precious, precious children. I've cried for the mothers and fathers, the "doctors" and their assisting employees. I have ached for the pain of those who chose an abortion in the past, been involved in an abortion in the past in any way, have suffered over their decisions and actions and sought forgiveness, have tried to move on from it but now the viral videos force them to acknowledge once again and maybe to a new, gut wrenching degree what their choices meant. I have cried so many tears for them all in recent weeks.

After the third video was released, I was sitting on my couch reading one writer's thoughts on it and tears ran down my cheeks. My baby girl was asleep against my chest. Her dear heart beating up against my own. My toddler was playing on the floor a few feet from me. Intuitively - yes, intuitively after only 22 months outside my womb - my boy looked up, examined my face, and climbed into my lap to wrap his arms around my neck. I held him for a moment, willing myself to hold it together until he went back to his toys so that he would not feel my body shake with grief for all the embraces lost through abortion.

So why am I not shocked? They're called shock videos, and for many that is exactly what they accomplish. But for me, the atrocities being revealed are, dare I say, logical. They are reasonable realities. I feel like screaming it from a roof top or a street corner or better yet, a church steeple as the every Sunday crowd marches in. "WHAT ELSE DID YOU EXPECT? HOW COULD YOU EXPECT ANYTHING LESS THAN THIS?"

For more than 40 years we have legally been killing defenseless children. Legally. Condoned by the law. Labeled as a human right. The baby has been called a blob of tissue. Not a baby. Not viable. Part of the mother. As scientific developments have actually contradicted every "scientific" argument for the acceptability of abortion, science has been abandoned. We have moved on to rights. The right to choose. We fill women's heads with all they will have to sacrifice if they become mothers. All that they will miss out on. We tell them to choose what is best for them. Choose. Choose. Choose. Say it enough times and it can suddenly stand alone. No need to state what is being chosen: to end a human life. How dare we question the obvious fact that that woman has a right to choose whether or not to have that baby? We cower behind the "I wouldn't do it but who am I to tell someone else not to do it" defense. But that baby. That baby doesn't have a right to choose. That baby is dependent on the provision and care of the mother, no different than after that baby is born really and for a good long while beyond that. Let's not go there though. Then the platform would collapse. Let's just focus on the woman. Yes, let's focus on the woman! Or the man. The parents. For that is what they are. Many realize that before the abortion but still make that choice for a myriad of reasons. Even more women and men realize their parenthood after the abortion. Depression, anxiety, suicide, self-mutilation, self-hatred, broken relationships. Decade after decade of the aftermath of abortions swept under the rug. Kept out of the limelight. Off of the mainstream news channels. Decades of protests, marches, gatherings. Every single year a peaceful, massive march through our nation's capitol. Grown to as big as 650,000 individuals from all religions, all ages, all states and numerous countries. A march this size, over half a million people, if it was concerned with literally any other law on the books, would be one of the biggest news stories for days or even weeks across the land. But a march this size to protest abortion? Nah. Maybe it'll be mentioned, maybe not. Some quick shots of the protesters and some creative camera work that implies the few handfuls of pro-abortion protesters that show up are actually of nearly equal numbers. Empty chairs and presidential excuses when the Planned Parenthood executives are called upon to explain themselves. Decades, years, months, weeks, days of procedures. Such a clean, clinical term: procedure. So much nicer than "death."

Death. We have characterized our era as one of death. Death that is perceived as acceptable, excusable, even desirable. Death of the most vulnerable, the most incapable of choosing for themselves, the most dependent on their caregivers. That is us. Someday that is what we will be most remembered for in the history books.

So, no, I am not shocked. We asked for this. We walked straight into this hell on earth. Eyes open. Hands idle. Steady pace. Why would we expect anything else than what we see in those videos?

Please do not mistake my words for hopelessness. As long as there is a single person on this earth speaking for the babies, there is hope. Our country is at a crossroads. A fork in the road. A point of decision. If we do not take a hard turn away from the direction we have been going, we will continue in that direction. Plain and simple. The progress will be logical and reasonable, just as it has been so far. The killing of unwanted children after birth will become acceptable. The choice to end the life of a handicap or ill child because of the difficulty/burden/pain/etc. he or she causes the parents will become legal. An ultrasound tech gets the gender wrong and the baby born is not the sex the parents wanted? Kill it. There is a genetic predisposition toward one disease or another, in the name of mercy then, just in case, kill the child before he or she might endure the disease.

Don't shake this off as absurd. Don't assume it could never happen. Do you think that when the Supreme Court decided that "ending a pregnancy" was a right that must be upheld by law that anyone in this country really expected all the results that came of this? Did anyone expect the numbers to reach 50 million? Did anyone expect so many parents to end their children's lives based on the mere chance they might have Down's Syndrome or a genetic disease? Did anyone expect the abortion industry to become so profitable? Or become partially funded by our own tax dollars? Did anyone expect the destructive aftermath for the women and men who regretted their abortions? No. I don't think anyone did. Or at least not more than a few. There must have been a few or the March for Life would not have been introduced the very next year. There was hope then and there is hope now.

I remember explaining to a group of teens a few years ago my stance on the effort to reverse the Supreme Court decision. I tried to explain that in the end, it wouldn't matter whether or not the law changed. Laws do not determine what is right or wrong. If something is right or wrong it remains right or wrong no matter what a law says about it. It is hearts that must be changed. Every heart that firmly believes abortion is not evil; every heart that refuses to take a good look at the issue or admit it matters; every heart that is on the fence and ready to be swayed in one direction or the other; every heart that fears speaking the truth. The hearts are where the change must happen. Laws ought to follow suit then, but at that point, would it matter? If the hearts are changed there is no one left choosing abortion. No one keeping those clinics open and profitable. The law would become irrelevant if still unchanged. Hope lives in changing hearts.

It is time we start expecting the consequences of our choices. It is time we had the foresight to know what is the next and the next and the next logical step if we continue down the same path. We must open our clouded eyes and together turn off this road. Find a new road. Choose to end the pattern. Admit we were wrong and begin to make it right. We can do it. We must do it. Continue to uncover the gruesome details and get people to face them. Continue opening and supporting pregnancy centers that welcome and assist mothers in need. Continue to stand peacefully outside the clinics, ready to speak knowledgeably and kindly with any person who needs to hear from you there. Continue to advocate for adoption and reasonable adoption laws. Continue to argue lovingly but firmly with anyone willing to converse with you on the subject. Continue to pray if you are a praying individual. And if you cannot continue because you never began taking any of these or other steps to help fight against abortion, then begin now.

We must create a world where abortion becomes shocking again. Imagine with me a future generation who has to learn from a teacher of this atrocious practice called abortion, who must look to history books to even know what it means, and are left wondering how it was ever legal. Imagine them thanking those who came before them for eliminating it. Imagine that world and make it the logical result of what we choose now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Art of Waiting

I don't consider myself an artist. That's simply not a label I have ever used to describe who I am or what I do. The last five months and especially the last week though, have given me every opportunity to become an artist in a very specific genre: the art of waiting. Waiting on efforts to bear fruit, hopes to be fulfilled, plans to be successful, and prayers to be answered. These acts of waiting characterized my and my family's days. I call them "acts" for waiting is not necessarily a passive thing. There's a lot of effort to be put into waiting, or at least into waiting rightly. Waiting with hope; waiting with peace; waiting with intentionality. It's hard. It is SO hard.

And now as the efforts and hopes of those five months are finally bringing about fruitful change, as we're packing our home to move and preparing for my husband to start a new job, I find myself still wrapped up in the art of waiting. My unborn daughter is teasing me with days of early labor contractions, hanging out in there for longer than I or my doctor expected. I'm scheduled to be induced in two days and that scares me for some reason way beyond any nervousness I might feel about going into labor and delivering this baby any time now.

Just the same as all the days in those five months that I'm glad are wrapping up now, I can't depend on much other than trust, prayers, and feeble attempts at patience. The art of waiting is centered on acknowledging that there is so little in my own control - and then believing that is perfectly okay.

"Be still and know that I am God." (Ps 46:11)

"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some regard 'delay,' but He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:8-9)

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)