Last week, I wondered if I should keep blogging. Since then I have received new followers to this blog. I took that as a sign to keep going. Obviously, people are reading. When I am not here writing my thoughts, I also write for an organization called The Radiance Foundation. It is led by my friends Ryan and Bethany Bomberger. They are passionate about speaking up for the lives of the unborn and their vision is to affirm that every human life has purpose.
The following is a link to my recent article at The Radiance Foundation. If you like what you read here, you will love following their site. Check them out after reading my latest article.
Thanks for reading and it’s official– I will keep blogging!
Click here to read my latest——>>>>> Life, Unity and the Church Rising Up Against Abortion
(March for Life event with friends of the Radiance Foundation)
I started this blog nearly six years ago. It was my sister that encouraged me to start blogging. I never considered myself a writer, but I always had this desire to write. If I showed you some of my old journals with my New Year’s resolutions, you would see my future writing ambitions. My sister—who sometimes knows me better than I know myself—knew that I needed to guide my passionate voice to a better venue than our phone conversations.
I don’t have a huge following. That was never my goal. I just wanted to share my heart and whoever wanted to listen was welcome to drop by and read. And while I blogged, I was given opportunities to write on other blog sites with much larger audiences. I was able to write for conservative political sites which led to attending large political events. I had a taste of what it was like to be a citizen journalist, and it was fun. But I realized the political media arena is not for me. This might be surprising to you, but writing about politics can get tiresome, and I was getting a bit jaded by it all. I know, shocking!
There was that time that I quickly jotted down my thoughts on Miley Cyrus back in 2013, and my blog post went viral. When it hit 10,000 views, I thought to myself, “Maybe, I should write all my blog posts in fifteen minutes or less.”
I then had the opportunity to write for pro-life sites, and that is where I felt most comfortable. Writing about the beauty of God’s creation and protecting that creation—it never gets old. My fingers easily find the words to write when it comes to my passion for being a voice for life. I pray that I can continue to be a voice for the pro-life movement wherever that may lead.
I am grateful that this little blog has been a stepping stone, and I am grateful for all the opportunities it has provided.
But here is where I get to the whole point of this blog post. Should I continue to blog?
I am a person who knows what I am NOT better than what I AM. I am not a platform person. I love reading blogs from Christian women who share a daily devotional and who have developed specific platforms. Talented writers who have many followers, and they encourage other women in their faith at conferences and various speaking engagements. That is not me.
There are also mothers who have great parenting blog sites. They encourage young mothers and give the latest parenting tips. I might be able to whip up a couple of posts about my lessons learned as a mother but, again, that’s NOT me.
This blog and the title—The Velvet Brick—is me. Someone once told me, “You look sweeter than you really are.” I laughed. It wasn’t a criticism. What she meant was I am tougher than I look. I am not afraid to take on the controversial issues. I’ll throw my opinions into the ring knowing the possibility of the backlash I might receive. I also don’t take myself too seriously. And on occasion, I can be wrong on an issue or how I approach it.
The most important thing to me about blogging is that my faith reflects what I write. But my faith needs to be genuine and, sometimes, that means I need to write with more grace and less religious convictions. Both are important, but they have to balance each other.
I know that God has given me a voice to share my faith and sometimes that intersects with topics in culture, family, and politics. If it is a platform, it is a broad one. Often, I think my voice is getting lost in a sea of other voices with more followers and well-defined blogs. And, perhaps, with sweeter dispositions than me. (She says sweetly smiling.)
I know as a writer/blogger you are supposed to post regularly and market yourself profusely. That’s a struggle for me. I can get tired of myself, and if I do, I know the reader can as well. Sometimes less is more.
So I need your help. I have an existential blog crisis. Should I continue to blog? Is there room for my voice in the wide blogosphere? Should I close up shop and try other writing venues? Do you still read blogs? What have you appreciated here that might help to define where my voice belongs? I would love your opinions, suggestions, or criticisms. After all, I wouldn’t be here pressing the keys on my laptop if it weren’t for my sister—and YOU!
Please comment anonymously or famously below.
All it takes is a “like”, a nod, or a thumbs-up to point to the value of life in the womb.
Sometimes the strongest messages of life are accidental. They are chance happenings. An Instagram photo of a pregnant belly at week number 30, a video of unborn twins moving in a mother’s womb, a Facebook post of “We’re Pregnant” after a friend’s struggle with infertility or a blog of that designer’s nursery with a beautifully decorated room for their youngest client.
Nods of life happen all around us. We give a thumbs-up to a post, we hit that heart emoji, and we embrace a culture of life unintentionally. It’s because at the heart of our human condition we intrinsically know the value of life. We immediately react to those double lines on a pregnancy test because we know what incredible gift a baby is to the world.
It’s true that we are also surrounded by intentional messages such as political slogans, hashtag movements, campaigns, or purposefully driven memes that point away from the beauty of life. But the older you get, the more you understand that the greatest lessons are not from the calculated moments but from the accidental or spontaneous instances that add to a person’s life story.
We don’t have to look very far to see inadvertent messages that point to life. I am encouraged that many, unintentionally, are pointing to the value of life in the womb. They are not politically driven or planned pro-life stances. But they are spontaneous moments that speak to the sanctity of life.
May we celebrate the unintentional-deliberately- to highlight life inside and outside the womb!
I was twenty-three years old, naïve, and ready for my first full-time teaching position. I had just spent twelve weeks in a long-term substitute position for a fifth-grade classroom. It was the end of Spring, and I knew that I might be called in for interviews for the upcoming school year. I had been a substitute teacher for a year and I was ready for my own classroom.
I decided it might be beneficial to get advice from the principal at the school where I did my long-term substitute position. I scheduled to meet with him after school. I let him know that I was looking for a full-time job and if he could give me some advice about interviewing and what I should expect. I don’t remember him giving me any helpful information. He said a few things, laughed a little and said, “Really, all you need to know is just look pretty.”
Yup, that was it, folks. My four years of college and all my efforts to become a credited teacher were summed up in three words- Just.Look.Pretty.
I remember turning a bit red and embarrassed at his response. I chatted a bit more but I realized he had no advice for me and THAT was his answer.
Now the present-day-forty-something-me would have probably got in my car and drove to the School Board office to kindly let them know Mr. Principal was a misogynist pig— or something to that effect. But my twenty-three-year-old-self lacked self-confidence and boldness. I didn’t know how to respond. I just wanted a teaching position.
After that, I knew that I didn’t want to work in that school. Mr. Principal’s comments made me uncomfortable, but I really couldn’t pinpoint why. They weren’t harmful, but they were disrespectful. I started to think about all the teachers in that school, and I noticed there was a common theme. Most of them were thin, pretty, and all female. In fact, I remember the interactions many of those female teachers had with Mr. Principal. They flirted and they stroked his ego. It was an environment that I often felt uncomfortable and out of place in. It was like High School all over again. I wasn’t going to be making out with any football players, so I wasn’t a part of the popular crowd (or some other High School cliche situation).
I tell this whole scenario to say this; we are all responsible for creating an atmosphere of respect. In a society where sexual harassment in the workplace seems to be a disease, let’s acknowledge that sometimes it starts with women to set the standard. Mr. Principal was a jerk. No question about that. But I watched many other female teachers laugh at his crassness and flirt in the most inappropriate way. They helped to create a climate where he was very comfortable in being unprofessional. Now I don’t know if anything was going on besides flirtation and ignorant behavior, but it was enough to make me feel devalued in my role there as a teacher. I have often wondered, would he have made those comments if the other teachers held him to a higher standard?
I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. Respect begins with me.
Looking back, I wish I would have been able to respond to Mr. Principal and put him in his place. He needed a lecture on respect for women, especially young women. But I don’t put this story in the context of men verse women or equality. It’s simply about treating everyone with respect. We (men and women) all have the choice to set our standards high in the workplace. We can enable a disrespectful atmosphere just as much as we can directly show disrespect. Our actions or failure to act have consequences. We can complain and point fingers, or we can set the standard for how we ALL want to be treated.
Now my story did have a happy ending. I taught in another school with an admirable male principal who helped me become a better teacher. He valued me as a young teacher, and I respected him for his leadership and experience. It’s amazing what can happen when respect begets respect.
One of the most important parenting lessons I learned as a new mother.Continue Reading...
This is a blog that I don’t know how to write. I don’t feel qualified to write about this topic, and I realize it’s a sensitive issue to many people. So I am going to do my best to just share my heart on a matter that I genuinely care about. I hope in my weak attempt to share my perspective; you read the grace between the lines and not the judgment.
For the last month or so, the title of this blog has been going through my head over and over again. It’s been screaming at me.
Adultery is a big deal!
Over the last couple of years I have watched adultery creep into people’s lives and make a mess of things. Children have been emotionally wounded, marriages have ended in divorce, and people have walked away from God.
Adultery is a big deal!
I have seen how one act of adultery can affect a group of people. What might have seemed like a private act of attraction between two people then catapulted into a situation that affected many people’s lives.
Adultery is a big deal!
I’ve been told that I don’t understand the situation surrounding the events. I’ve gotten the response, “you can’t judge unless you have been in my situation.” Marriage is hard, and attraction happens.
Marriage is a big deal!
There is a reason why one of the Ten Commandments says, “Do not commit adultery.” God put in place the protection from this grievous sin so that lives would not be destroyed. Jesus went even further to teach about lust in one’s heart. We are all sinners, but we all are faced with the choice to act on sin. Sin destroys and grieves the heart of God.
Sin is a big deal!
But on the flip side of adultery is redemption. I have seen marriages that were wrecked by the sin of adultery completely transformed by the grace of God. I have witnessed families restored and watched a husband and wife devoted to each other in a loving marriage which was once destined for divorce. God is the healer and restorer of broken relationships. There is forgiveness for adultery. There is healing.
God is a big deal!
I hate adultery. I hate divorce. I hate how it destroys families. And I hate that so often people are not willing to fight for their marriages. Sure, maybe I don’t know “your situation.” But I know God. When we allow God to break down the walls of sin and let forgiveness in, He is more than able to do miraculous things. God thinks your marriage is a big deal. He will fight with you to restore it. But He has to be at the center of it. Don’t give in to the lie in our society that adultery or divorce is no big deal. Hold on to Scripture. Walk in the truth of God’s Word. His Commandments are to protect us from sin and the hurt that brings hopelessness. He is the hope for your marriage.
I have witnessed a casualness towards divorce and adultery in the Church. It grieves my heart. But how much more does it grieve the heart of God?
I know every marriage, every situation, every struggle is different. But I just wish we could start screaming out loud with a warning —Adultery is a big deal! And then wrap our loving arms around our friends in their hurting marriages and encourage them that their Marriage is a big deal. Maybe that’s too simplistic and idealistic. But I don’t care because I serve a God who is bigger than all it.
Wow, things are exploding out there in La La Land. I have been watching and reading all the media frenzy over the breaking story on Harvey Weinstein and what a mess! My female empowerment side wants to congratulate all the women coming forward and commend them on their bravery. Weinstein is a monster clad in designer suits and dripping in Hollywood mogul riches. He’s a sexual abuser, predator, and here’s another word- he’s evil.
As I sit here taking it all in though, I have to tell you that I am not surprised. You are an industry that has increasingly rejected the values that most everyday Americans hold dear. You’re not quite the beacon of morality in this country. In fact, I rarely attend movies anymore unless a trusted friend recommends one. Why? Because you have taken the art of storytelling and have politicized it. You’re not even subtle anymore about your agenda. It’s blatant. I hold different opinions and values than most of Hollywood. That’s fine. I like the diversity of thought and beliefs. But you, Hollywood, don’t!
You have politicized your films, your award shows, and even the platforms of your actors look more like politicians than entertainers. You’re an industry that has used your power and influence to manipulate your viewers. You wield a form of control of thought in your films, and we’re sick of it. Hollywood seems to be this mecca of collective groupthink. Does anyone think apart from the group anymore? Well, let me tell you Hollywood, there’s a whole population of people who have lost respect for you.
There’s no excuse for a man like Weinstein to be able to manipulate women to get what he wants. That’s disgusting behavior. But let’s just call your industry on the “red carpet” about something. Your films objectify and sexualize your actors and actresses to such extremes that I can’t tell the difference between pornography and an R-rated movie. I can’t remember the last time I could go to a movie theater with my children that wasn’t an animated film. Your industry sexualizes everything.
Harvey Weinstein is a symptom of this over-sexualization which also manipulates and controls. We all know sex sells but why do you let it?
So what do average everyday Americans want from the world of Hollywood?
We just want to be entertained. We want to escape into a story that might resonate with who we are as Americans. A film that captures our uniqueness of diversity. A history story that makes us cry over our human frailties but triumphs in our moral indignation to be better people. Maybe, movies that capture people who think differently or have opinions that we might disagree with but can find common ground without bias. The world of storytelling is beautiful. It heals and shapes us as Americans. But when Hollywood loses sight of who their viewers are, they stop telling real stories.
Hollywood, you have gotten off course. You’ve let your politics control your industry. Meryl Streep once called Harvey Weinstein, “god.” Don’t go worshipping golden idols. That only leads to destruction. You have the potential to unite a politically divided country with your beautiful Technicolor stories. That’s all we want as viewers; to escape our everyday struggles and get lost in a movie.
Get out of your bubble, Hollywood, and look around. Many of us want to support you, but we want you to embrace our stories too. We don’t all live in La La Land nor do we want to.
I am sorry our world has men like Weinstein, but maybe he’s a wake-up call. Write your own redemptive story, Hollywood.
My children are past the age of getting up in the middle of the night and coming into our bedroom. But I remember one night when one of my children came into our bedroom crying over a terrifying dream. I still remember that dream because it frightened me too.
The dream was my child running in the hallways at school from a man with a gun. It was frightening, and I did my best to comfort and reassure in the middle of the night that it was just a dream and not reality. I prayed for my child, and despite my poor ability for being able to memorize scriptures, I managed to think of the verse in 2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I explained that God has the power to calm all our fears even our nightmares. We can rest in that comfort.
I went back to bed but with a little check of fear in my own heart. “God, don’t ever let that nightmare become a reality for my children,” I prayed.
This past Monday we awoke to the news of the massacre in Las Vegas. A madman with a gun and people running for their lives, but this was not a dream. This was a reality.
That tragic event put fear in my heart as a parent. Our world’s realities are nightmares come true.
My kids are the generation that has grown up with Lock and Hide drills at school of the possibility of an active shooter. Music concerts that are celebratory events are now potential target audiences for violence. The week before, my daughter attended a country music concert. Fear set in, again. “I can’t let her go to another concert. It’s too dangerous,” I thought.
Jason Aldean was the country music singer who was on stage that night in Las Vegas. He saw the massacre unfold right in front of him. “This world is becoming the kind of place I am afraid to raise my children in,” he wrote after the tragedy.
I get it. I can relate as a parent to his fears. How do we parent in a society where we have to constantly fear for our children’s safety? A place where my child’s frightening dream has been a reality for people around the world.
As I watched the unbelievable tragedy on the news, fear started to take hold of me. And then I was reminded of that one particular night of my own reassuring words and the scripture.
God has not given ME a spirit of fear.
I prayed, and I let that Bible verse seep into my heart and I not only found comfort but joy. Isn’t that just like God to not only comfort us but exchange our fear for joy?
As a follower of Christ, I am a child of God. Just like my child, who came into our bedroom seeking comfort for their fears, I found comfort from God. I do know that fear can be a powerful emotion that can hold people captive. But we are not slaves to fear. In all the uncertainty of this world- in the violence and tragic events that seem to unfold before us every day- there is God. He’s there comforting us and reminding us there is joy and peace in uncertainty. That joy and peace can only be explained because I take refuge in God’s promises. I know without a shadow of a doubt that whatever happens to my children or me, we are safe in His arms.
It’s the reason why I can send my children to school each day. It’s the reason I can let my child go to a concert or experience all life’s celebratory events without fear. It’s God.
It is also important as a parent to model my faith and security in Christ in front of my children, especially when tragic events take place. I cannot let fear take hold of my heart. My reaction to tragedy in front of my children reflects my faith or lack of faith in God. And I know in whom I trust. I am a child of God. If I live that out, so will they.
I want my children to understand that whether it’s a bad dream or a real-life event, that there is hope and peace in living for Christ. They are not slaves to fear. I want them to live in that freedom and find joy amidst all life’s uncertainties.
I read that the Bible quotes “do not fear” 365 times. That’s one for each day of the year. I’ll take it and try to rest in that command each day. I will not be afraid.
God reminded me this week that I have no fear in raising my children because God does not give US a spirit of fear. In a world where we have no control over evil, God is still the giver of peace. He will speak joy into our hearts even in tragedy. We can rest in that comfort.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
What kind of society do we want to live in?Continue Reading...