Archives For Family

Dear Hollywood

October 11, 2017 — 1 Comment

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Dear Hollywood,

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.

 

 

 

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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?

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Several years ago I challenged a speaker. I was attending a conservative political event, and this particular person said, “Our public schools are cesspools of liberal indoctrination, and if your child is attending a public school, you are a part of the problem. Pull them out!”

Many people in the audience applauded while my blood pressure started to rise. Pull them out? Really? Aren’t conservatives known to be advocates of school choice? My husband and I made a decision to send our kids to public school. As Christian conservatives, we knew what we were up against. We read the headlines. The anti-religious push, the progressive agenda, the political bias, and even the social agenda that pushed against our values as Christ followers. But this was our choice, and I could see the benefits of educating our children in this “cesspool of liberal indoctrination.”

So I introduced myself after the speech and said, “I want to challenge your words about public education. I am a conservative, and my kids attend public school. I have seen the benefits of my children challenged in their beliefs and challenging others who differ from them. How are we going to make an impact as conservatives if we all pull out of public education and don’t challenge this indoctrination?”

She immediately dismissed my remarks, and I could tell she didn’t want me to question her. She responded kindly, but she didn’t want to get into a discussion with me. I was a fellow conservative with a different opinion.

That’s an excellent example of where we are in our society. We want to stay in our comfortable circles of thought and belief. We don’t want to be challenged. We don’t want to debate and defend our beliefs. It’s uncomfortable to confront people who challenge us and who dare have another opinion that differs from our own.

When Thomas Jefferson chartered the University of Virginia in 1819, he wrote about his vision for what would be a great public institution. He remarked, “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead, nor tolerate any error as long as reason is left free to combat it.”

Tomorrow my oldest graduates high school- Public High School! I am a firm believer and advocate of school choice. Education is about the freedom to choose what is right for your child. However, education is not conforming our children to thought circles where they are not challenged to reason outside of their beliefs.

I have witnessed public education become a cesspool of groupthink. Many times my kids have shared with us about the political bias of their teachers. Thomas Jefferson’s idea of illimitable freedom of the human mind has gotten way off track when a teacher will not even consider a difference of opinion in his or her classroom. One teacher even had the audacity to say, “Freedom of speech is not limitless because there is the importance of political correctness.”

Say what?

I have witnessed this sociopolitical agenda in our public schools but I am here to say my kid made it. She graduates tomorrow, and she was challenged in her beliefs and has come out stronger because of it. Public education has forced her to see both sides. She’s had to reason and find the truth for herself, and has challenged others as well. I couldn’t be more proud of the person she has become. That testing of truth and reasoning is known as education. Pulling her out of public school was never the answer for us. It was about encouraging her to find her voice in a sea of opposing opinions. That’s not the choice for everyone but it was the choice for us.

My prayer for her is that she will continue to reason and test her opinions in an atmosphere of education where there is no fear of being challenged. Where reason is free to roam and truth –wherever it may lead- will open hearts and minds. That is the beauty of the human mind, and it’s what makes the freedom of education in this country so unique, if we have the courage to challenge and encourage the uncomfortable in our kids!

 

 

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“Love is love.”

That’s a phrase I have seen used in support of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. It’s an ambiguous phrase because there is such a thing as abuse. Is it love when a middle age man makes sexual advances on a minor? Is it love when a teacher is caught sexually manipulating her student? Is it love when a spouse is trapped in a physically abusive marriage?

Okay, I think you get my point. You cannot put out a simple three-word phrase and expect people to jump on board because it is somehow socially acceptable or politically correct.

I understand the intentional meaning. Same-sex attraction is now socially acceptable. Love is love.

But love is a lot more complicated that merely defining it as itself. I don’t know how I could properly love my husband without the love of Christ in my life. Why? It’s because love is difficult. Putting two very different people together, even with physical attraction, takes a lot of work. After twenty years of marriage, I am just beginning to understand what love really is and there is no way to simplify it.

Here is where I am going skip to my point. So hang on…

Buzzfeed came out with a hit piece against Chip and Joanna Gaines, the hosts of HGTV’s Fixer Upper show. The writer called them out for attending a church that believes in the biblical view of marriage between and man and woman. They didn’t interview them, and we don’t even know what the Gaineses views are on same-sex marriage. All we know is that they attend a church that probably doesn’t espouse to the phrase “love is love.”

I’d like to wax eloquent about biased and dishonest journalism, but that will have to be for another post.

Do you want to know why I think so many people have tuned into the Fixer Upper show and why so many admire Chip and Joanna Gaines? I don’t believe that it’s just to get home renovation tips. It’s because they portray a real and authentic marriage. I read The Magnolia Story. I laughed at how God put two very different people together and made a union between a man and a woman. Their show, their life story has no agenda. They are simply two people with a family who have made a successful business for themselves. It is a love story, but we see the complexities and challenges about what makes their marriage work. It’s simply a refreshing view without an agenda pushed onto us.

There are plenty of HGTV shows that feature same-sex couples. This controversy is not about same-sex marriage on television. The courts defined same-sex “marriage” last year. I think it’s really about the cultural agenda to oversimplify love. When you simplify love, you cheapen it and take away the hero factor of the institution of biblical marriage. It’s about the stories of how couples defied the odds and challenges of loving their spouse and staying together for the longevity. I can’t help but use the Fixer Upper analogy here. Love (marriage) is about fixing all the things that are broken and wrong with us and perfecting them and coming out stronger for it. Except as Christians, we realize the perfecting in marriage comes through Christ.

The future will tell whether Chip and Joanna and the producers bend toward the LGBT bullies. All I know is that Chip and Joanna Gaines are self-proclaimed Christians, but their show has somehow attracted a diverse audience, even those who support the “love is love” mantra. Why? Because the foundation of marriage and the family still makes for a great American story. It’s those traditional family values that define many of us in our daily lives. It’s about our struggles, our sacrifices, the give and take in marriage, raising a family, and it’s about the complexity of what defines true LOVE.

No matter what biased media puts out there to sway popular opinion, the biblical institution of marriage will always be a winner’s circle story. We are in Chip and Joanna’s corner because their story represents most of our stories- minus their hugely successful renovating business.

Maybe you thought the Fixer Upper series was just about making shiplap a cool home feature. Well, maybe it is. But thanks to Buzzfeed and agenda-driven journalism, we can be a little more introspective and tune into a show that perhaps for some of us is genuinely symbolic of the definition of love.

 

 

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I don’t know Jen Hatmaker. I don’t follow her on social media and I have only read a few of her posts or articles that other friends have shared. I know she has a beautiful family with adoptive and biological children. She also has a large audience and shares her Christian perspective on family and life in general in an often humorous and candid way.

I wasn’t surprised by her statements in a recent interview that have become controversial, prompting Lifeway Stores to pull her books off their shelves.

I am not going to respond to her views on homosexuality, politics, or even the Black Lives Matter Movement. There are plenty of other people who have written with more grace than I could and have articulated why many Christians disagree with her statements.

If Jen and I were to sit down and chat on these issues, I think we would both find ourselves at an impasse on where our views differ according to scripture. But Jen’s views are no different than many of my own personal friends, yet we manage to find friendship despite our differing Christian perspective on social issues.

What troubles me most about her interview and why I have not been a supporter of her platform, is something that God has had to teach and humble me about in using my voice as a follower of Christ. In the past, I could manage enough grace and mercy for those struggling with sin or who don’t identify themselves as followers of Christ. Scripture clearly commands me to love and have mercy for those who don’t know Christ. But grace and mercy for Christians- for the church- that’s was a little more difficult for me.

I could give you a list of grievances about Christians, the church, hypocrisy…. I am a daughter of a minister. Do I need to say more?

If I was to write a book, I could give the reader story after story how people who call themselves “Christians” have hurt other people, have been unforgiving, and the stories would pour out of my bitter heart of where the church has gone wrong in loving their neighbor. But God has tugged on my bitterness and revealed to me that although my grievances against the church and the Christian community are accurate assessments, they are also a form of my own self-righteousness which divides and does not unite or heal people towards the Christian community.

Jen Hatmaker responds, “I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church.” Yes, Jen, I get it. I have too!! But the church is made up of imperfect people trying desperately to follow a perfect God. Please show grace to the church (believers of Christ) as well as the homosexual community. We are all trying to navigate this world together but calling out Christians for their grievances against the gay community will only further direct the LGBT community away from Christ and the church.

I have come to realize that the Christian community and its impact on social issues is much larger than the four walls of one’s church building. I have written about abortion and questioning the church, as a whole, on where it stands in the pro-life movement. I still feel the body of Christ can do more in standing against the injustice of abortion but I strongly disagree with Jen’s statement on abortion in the Christian community. She responds, “There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby.”

I don’t understand how Jen Hatmaker- a Christian adoptive mother herself- does not pay tribute to the many, many Christian families who have opened their lives and homes to children and have been examples of the hands and feet of Christ. Does she not know of the numerous Christian organizations who raise funds each year to support pregnancy centers in their community to help the vulnerable and economically fragile? I know so many Christian brothers and sisters who have been the exact opposite of disingenuous when it comes to abortion. I ask Jen, as well as others, to look broader out into the Christian community and the numerous families supporting and raising adoptive children and the quiet but strong impact they are making against abortion.

There will always be injustice, pain, and rejection in the body of Christ. We are human. We are sinners but Christ calls us to draw closer to Him and his scriptures regardless of the hurt and bitterness. God is continually reminding me that I will never be a testimony of His righteousness to any community if I constantly call out the church for its grievances. It’s a lesson He seems to constantly teach me over and over again because I am an imperfect person worshiping God in an imperfect community of believers. By complaining, I am not honoring Him and I am not honoring the community of people I call my brothers and sisters in Christ. The foot of the cross is meant to draw and unite the sinner and the saint and none of us are worthy.

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30

 

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Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings was previously interviewed by NBC about her professional beach volleyball career and her fourth chance to win the gold medal in Rio. Media outlets are highlighting her comments because she’s pro-family and pro-babies. Walsh said in the interview, “I feel like I was born to have babies and play volleyball.”

Shocking, right?

She even went so far as to say, “I’d love to win a fourth gold medal and I’d love to have a fourth baby.”

Four children…Wow!

Okay, if you can’t detect in my writing here, I am being a bit snarky. Let me explain why.

I am a huge advocate of life in the womb, out of the womb, and for celebrating motherhood. I understand Kerri’s comments because I too, feel like I was born to have babies. God gave me three of them and they changed my life.

Kerri commented: “Before I had more kids, I was like, this feels trivial. I’d been playing for so long, and I was like I need balance. All my eggs are in this one basket and it’s very self-centered and self-focused. They gave me that perspective and balance I thought I was missing. It took my game and my desire and my passion for life to the next level. I am hugely indebted to my children.”

A-ha! That revelation after we have children that the world no longer revolves around us because we are too busy raising these precious babies. It’s one of the greatest joys of being a parent when we realize that giving up of ourselves actually makes us happier human beings.

Now Kerri’s comments aren’t controversial. Yes, they do contradict some of modern-day feminism with putting careers before children and the whole “choice” mantra. There was some push back on Twitter from her comments. But who cares? She’s celebrating life. Three of them to be exact and maybe a fourth in her future.

Media outlets are now taking her words and labeling them with titles like, Liberals Go Nuts When Kerri Walsh Jennings Says… or USA Volleyball Star Makes Comment about “Having Babies” That’s Pretty Ballsy in This Day and Age. They are catchy titles meant to grab the reader but they are dishonest to Kerri’s comments who was simply sharing her life story.

As a writer, I have been guilty of this grab and attack technique. Someone celebrates our passion and we put labels on them to prove a point. I once called myself an anti-feminist because I disagreed so much with the feminist movement. I have written articles against feminism and I was even invited onto a radio program because I was a self-proclaimed “anti-feminist.” Then I realized something. Labels, catchy phrases, and shocking titles are not needed to define who I am. My life and the way I live it speaks for itself. I don’t want to be known for what I am against. I want to be known for what I celebrate.

That’s the thing that needs to change in our society and among us as women who celebrate the miracle of life, children, and motherhood. Just do your thing! Be a mother, celebrate your blessings, and even express how your children have added to your profession or career. Don’t define or label yourself how you’re different from women who don’t share your same perspective in life. Yes, you might get some push back from feminists who believe differently but don’t sweat it. Just be you and you will shine. You don’t have to win a gold medal to figure that one out.

I love Kerri’s comments but there was something that she said that wasn’t highlighted. She remarked, “My priorities are faith, family, and my career.” Now that’s balance and for those of us who share those same priorities let’s share the joy in that kind of living. That’s the woman God has called me to be and I am going to promote it- no labels needed.

 

As parents, don’t underestimate your voice in the prolife movement.

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We were made to communicate in a real and genuine way that cannot be replaced by the latest app we download on our smart phones.

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When I was a brand new mom, I wanted the world to know my daughter and see just how beautiful she was. She was my world and I was convinced everyone wanted a picture of her that they could show off on their refrigerators. I sent baby pictures to friends and family and I was sure that they probably couldn’t get enough of her sweet little face.

Ha!

That was before the internet and social media. Now we can upload every cute little activity, smile, or whim of our child’s life within seconds for the world to see. Our children are on display and we show them off with pride. But can sharing our most precious pictures of our children become more of an obsession and a form of idolatry than an innocent peek into our kids’ lives?

I have been struggling with posting pictures of my kids on the internet for a while now. Everyone does it. Some over-do it. There are even blogs that chronicle the lives of parents and their children. But have we forgotten the sacredness of raising our children in our attempt to share our joy over them?

Children are blessings. They are our pride and joy and it’s understandable to want to show-off the gifts God has given to us. However, it’s very easy to let our children consume our world just like a job, a hobby, or anything that shows success in our lives. Yes, our children often consume our lives with their needs and schedules. But when we find that our own self-image is wrapped around our need to put them on display then perhaps we are creating idols out of our children.

It’s so easy to let our kids meet all our emotional needs. But that is not what God wants from us as mothers and fathers. Our children were created to walk along side of us in life until they are old enough to walk out on their own.  They add to who we are and we learn from them but they are not supposed to define who we are. That isn’t what God intended when he blessed us with children.

My world was consumed with my first-born for the first several months and I even probably idolized her a little too much. I am learning (three kids later) that my children do not and should not define who I am. I love them and I occasionally show them off in pictures but I try to remember they are not about ME, they are about who God created them to be. I am just along for the ride and God’s granted me the opportunity of guiding them along until I have to let them go.

So now when I post that picture, I am careful to remember the sacredness of these years with my children. They go way too fast. My kids are not to be idolized or worshiped as a reflection of me. Instead, I am supposed to raise them as a reflection of Christ. Teaching them to value the things of God more than our own accomplishments in life.  A lesson you can’t put up on a refrigerator or on a social media site. And a lesson I am learning daily in balancing God and family.