9/11 Through My Daughter’s Eyes

Just like any other American over a certain age, I can remember exactly where I was when the “world stopped turning” on September 11th, 2001. I was a senior in high school, and just starting my day in first-period home economics class. Lessons were paused. Mouths hung open. Tears started falling. Here, tucked away in the safety of the Midwest, the impact of what had happened in New York City shook even our tiny town. I can still remember a narrow-sighted boy from my class asking in disgust, “Why are we even watching this? It’s not like it’s going to affect us.” His words cling with me. How wrong he was. Not only did it affect us, and the world, but it affects our children.

When stepping out to take my daughter to preschool this morning. I couldn’t help but think about what the weather was like here on that day eleven years ago. It was similar to today, sunny and slightly cool. A beautiful morning. When and how would I ever tell her what had happened? Would she understand? Just then, she looked up into the sky and squealed, “Mommy, look! Look what two those airplanes did!” My heart immediately jumped, considering what was on my mind. I stepped off the porch to see what she was pointing at. “Those planes made a cross, just like in church! Just like Jesus!”

“Yes, honey, you’re right,” I told her. As I buckled her into her car seat, I felt a little better. I was reminded that there is so much good in this world, and even on our darkest days, we can still find hope.

My young daughter saw a beautiful symbol in the sky on this anniversary of 9/11.

Save the Born AND the Unborn: My Thoughts on Abortion

I hesitated before writing this post. I have friends on polar opposite ends of the abortion spectrum, and I know how passionately you feel about the issue, whether for or against. I hope you can read this with an open mind and open heart. But then again, if you’re any friend of mine, I already know you will. 

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Recently, while driving down two-lanes in rural Kansas, I’ve seen two separate handmade billboards positioned in pastures facing the highway. One, I agree with, and one, I vehemently oppose. The first simply said:

Life – God’s Most Precious Gift
I absolutely believe this is a true statement. After having felt my daughters growing in me and seeing firsthand the miracle that is human life, there’s no fiber of my being that believes otherwise. But here’s the thing. I can’t explain why God would allow a rape victim to become impregnated, or why He allowed a baby to form in my Fallopian tube with no chance of survival. It’s growth caused my tube to tear, causing internal bleeding and an emergency surgery to save my life. I can’t answer these questions. And for that reason I know it’s not a black or white issue. And it should be treated with the utmost sensitivity and respect.

And the second:

Abortion Kills!
Now, the verbiage of this sign was obviously hostile, but that’s not what bothered me. It was the picture. Or drawing, rather. It was a crude stick-figure baby, with limbs dismembered and splatters of blood all around. Now, I understand the point. To shock and awe. But really, who are you trying to reach? The woman who’s had an abortion and is too ashamed to tell her family? Hmm, your sign probably made her feel awesome. The teenage girl who doesn’t know where to turn? Hmm, she’ll probably be less likely to seek support from a Pro-Life pregnancy crisis center if she thinks that’s what you’re all about. To me, and this is just my opinion, it seemed to be someone’s misguided attempt to make themselves feel better about their own morality, rather than to actually make a positive impact.

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Where was the march for HIS life?

But, this post isn’t about billboards. It’s about my brother. You see, although I consider myself Pro-Life, I often cringe when I see Pro-Life billboards, t-shirts and other materials? Why? Because I feel that not near enough effort has been put forth to save the BORN, and yet people will shake their fists and wave their signs to save the unborn. People will travel across the country by the thousands to March for Life. But, where was the march for his life? Where was the outrage, the sign-holding, the homemade billboards, the t-shirts, the shouting? The fervor is there. The passion is there. Just not for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

My brother’s life mattered, and so did the lives of the other five suicide victims his perpetrator molested. (And countless other victims.) They never should have been exposed to a pedophile priest. They never should have had to endure years of shame and guilt. They should be alive. They should be alive. If only ten percent of  the effort of saving the unborn was put towards saving the born, the children who made it into this world, where would we be?

That’s all I have for now. I don’t want this to turn into a debate, but I feel like I needed to speak on behalf of the clergy-abuse survivor movement, who struggle with this issue. I’m not telling anyone where they should stand on abortion. But I should hope that if life is precious, all life is precious, then we can agree that children outside of the womb need protection, too.

Don’t Follow Christians

It is crazy how many Christians are open bigots, loud and proud. 

When I saw this Facebook post made by a college friend, it made my heart sink and my brain buzz. Not because it’s untrue, but because its truth reflects a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in seekers finding their way to Christ. Sometimes (many times) Christians are in the way.

But here’s the thing. Christ didn’t say “follow my followers.” He said, “Follow ME.” Again, he said, “No one comes to the Father except through ME.”

Don’t let her accessories fool you.

I know that’s hard to rationalize, especially when we apply this theory to other major decisions in our life (and choosing Christ as your savior is a major decision). Even when we apply it to trivial decisions, it’s difficult to imagine. After all, would you trust an overweight personal trainer, an outdated hairstylist or a chain-smoking doctor? Probably not. So why should you follow Christ, when so many of his followers are more like thorns than roses? If you think some Christians are hypocrites, liars and high-horse jockeys, you’re only partially right. Because we ALL are. We’re all filthy, rotten sinners, saved by God’s grace alone, and through no good deeds of our own.

There are two things I’d like to tell non-believers, and especially those who may be seeking Christ’s presence in their lives.

1. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ who are mean-spirited, unloving, judgmental, bigoted, greedy and just plain nasty human beings. And I’m personally sorry that I’m not often a shining example of Christ’s love to others. I’ll never forget the homeless gentleman standing in the Walmart parking lot on a 101 degree day. I had a cold Powerade in my car, and I didn’t give it to him. I have prayed to God to give me a second chance to redeem myself from that shameful afternoon.

A recently released song by the Christian band Casting Crowns perfectly describes this deplorable behavior within the church:

Jesus Friend of sinners we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus friend of sinners the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours

more lyrics

2. You’re welcome. For all of the heinous atrocities that are committed “in the name of christianity” (won’t even capitalize in that instance), there are countless more generous, wonderful and life-saving acts carried out on a daily basis. No, these good deeds don’t wash away the bad, but they should be recognized. How many hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, food pantries and community outreach programs exist thanks to the inspiration of Christ’s love? And most (if not all) of these facilities are for everyone, believers and non-believers alike.

__________

I’ve made the mistake of following strong, charismatic Christian leaders in the past, and I’ve been let down every time. You know why? They’re human. Humans fail. Don’t get me wrong, Christians need fellowship, and a solid leader (there are many amazing ones out there), but when when our hearts and minds stop at the pulpit, we lose sight of the one we should be following.

If you’re living with pain from deep wounds that prevents you from seeking a loving God, I don’t claim to know what you’re going through. But, I can tell you I’ve been through some ish, and it wasn’t pretty. I know what it’s like to have a grenade blow up in the middle of your safety bubble, and leave you picking up the pieces for years, if not a lifetime. And if you’re a cynic who wants to poke holes in any claim I have about Christ, I don’t have all of the answers. I have some, but in my honest opinion, we haven’t even scratched the surface of understanding God.

“What gnats are compared with humans, so is the whole creation compared with God.” – John Chrysostom

So please, don’t follow Christians. Follow Christ.