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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.

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I recently had to update my Resume. In the process of updating, I realized there is about 10 years unaccounted for while I was a full-time stay-at-home mother. I started to feel a little ashamed about my unimpressive work experience but then I decided to make another Resume that represents those 10 years and beyond. So here it is. I am sharing it with you and maybe there are others of you out there that have my same qualifications and experience. The job doesn’t always pay well but the benefits are outstanding! ‍‍

Name: Julie

Address:  Stay-at-Home Mom, USA  

Objective

  • To raise happy, healthy and productive children so that they grow up to be happy, healthy and productive adults.

 

Skills & Abilities:

Management

  • Labored and delivered three separate human beings.
  • Able to multi-task while nursing/feeding baby.
  • Feed, bathe, and cloth children on a daily basis 24/7.
  • Pay bills and manages household while keeping children alive.
  • Buckle children appropriately into car seats and get to final destination with Goldfish snacks and Disney videos on hand.
  • Oversee children’s education and refresh memory on all subjects lost and forgotten due to sleep deprivation.

Sales

  • Able to find the best bargains so that all children can have the latest fashion trends while still able to pay your mortgage.
  • Understand that yard sales and consignment stores will increase your day-to-day dollar and will help to afford your child’s college education one day.

Communication

  • Have the unique ability to just give “the look” and your children will immediately stand in attention.
  • Frequently use the word “No” and let it become your best friend.
  • On occasion, use the phrase “because I said so” and never feel guilty about it.

Leadership

  • See Management, Sales and Communication

 

Skills/Job Specifics:

  • Nurse
  • Counselor
  • Teacher
  • Spiritual Advisor
  • Chef
  • Baker
  • Maid
  • Fashion Police/Advisor
  • Nutritionist
  • Chauffeur
  • Spokesperson
  • Party Planner
  • Seamstress
  • Judge/Disciplinarian
  • Interior Designer/Painter
  • Coach
  • Cheerleader
  • ** This list changes and grows on a daily basis. Check back frequently for further skills.

 

References

  • A file can be made upon request of available witnesses of skills or just see children on a good day.
  • Grandparents are biased and I wouldn’t recommend if you are looking for an unbiased reference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I was dating my husband I wouldn’t let him hold the door open for me. I refused to let him do some of the nice things that a gentleman does for a lady. Why? Because I had this warped notion of what it means to be a female in today’s society. It was so important for me to be strong, independent, and not have any need for a man in my life. When in all actuality all I thought about was wanting to be loved and in a relationship with a man.

I recently read a little gem of a book that probably should be on a list of what NOT to read if you are a feminist. It is titled, The Privilege of Being a Woman and it is written by a catholic woman named Alice Von Hildebrand. I absolutely love the book but there was one sentence that I really could identify with in terms of my own feminist view. She writes. “Yet we live in a world so deeply steeped in secularism that many of us are not even aware that we are influenced by its disastrous ideology.” That was me in my college years asserting my womanhood by not letting a man open a door for me. How silly! I was being influenced by the society around me even though I didn’t identify myself as a feminist.

When I married that man, who I refused to let open the door for me, I joked that I was going to take out the words “honor and obey” out of our vows. I even choked up on those words a little during the ceremony. If you watch the video footage I put a bit of sarcastic tone into the word “obey”. Maybe funny at the time but looking back at it I am sorry that I trivialized a really important word in our marriage.

My husband and I just celebrated 18 years of marriage and as I look back at how much marriage has changed me, I feel blessed to be a woman who finally figured out that whole “honor and obey” thing.

I used to think that letting a man hold a door open for me was a sign of my own weakness as a woman. Joking about the word obey was my own ignorance of what exactly the word “obey” means in a marriage. I wasn’t even aware of how much the secular feminist ideology had really influenced me and it took a toll on my marriage in the early years.

I bought into the 50/50 premise and if my husband didn’t do his part or what I felt was his part, I held it against him. I started tallying all the ways I was doing my part and for some reason I was always doing more, being more, and marriage was just an unfair equation.

God slowly changed my heart and I began to discover something that doesn’t come naturally to me— humility. I laid down all my desires, all my tallies, and scores in the marriage and I just began to serve my husband out of love. All those hard walls of independence and “I can open my own door” philosophies were wiped away and I discovered something in my marriage— love.

Now love was always there to begin with but something changed in me. I began to realize my weakness as a woman complimented the strength of my husband. I began to see the lie that our society tells us as young girls. “We are women, hear us roar” – overshadows the grace and love women can find out of a grateful heart to serve. Yes, that includes serving our husbands.

Hildebrand writes, “Humility is a virtue that finds little favor in the secularist world.” I might add, it’s not even in the feminist language.

I struggled for many years with finding my own happiness in my marriage, that it wasn’t till I relented and began to submit and concentrated on my husband’s happiness that I truly found contentment. Suddenly “honor and obey” made perfect sense.  I found joy in serving others and there was no more exhausting tallying or equations.

Matthew 20:28 says, “The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve…” Christ came to teach us that serving equals love. Can serving be abused in a marriage? Absolutely!  But the secular ideology that humbly submitting is somehow degrading is such a lie that we as women have bought into and it has created some unhealthy marriages and some very unhappy women.

Hildebrand writes, “Power, riches, fame, success, and dominance are idolized; humility, chastity, modesty, self-sacrifice, and service are looked down upon as signs of weakness.” As a Christian, I knew the importance of self-sacrifice but I didn’t know how to live it in my day-to-day life. Marriage taught me the beauty and strength in weakness. We have taken the word weak in society and have branded it as negative but in reality weakness, in the act of humility and service, produces love and in turn strength.

My marriage is not perfect but it is happy because serving dominates my thinking instead of doing it my way. My husband doesn’t always open the door for me and I don’t expect him to but when he does I thank him because that’s what marriage is– humbly considering one above the other– just as Christ did for all of us.

 

Call the Midwife

May 16, 2014 — 1 Comment

call the midwife

I have a love/hate relationship with television and the movies. Lately, I have divorced myself from television altogether. We don’t have cable and most things are just not worth watching anymore. However, I recently found a little ray of sunshine on Netflix and it has given me a little hope for quality entertainment.

The show is called Call the Midwife and it is based on the book by Jennifer Worth. It is the highest rated drama series in BBC history and I know why.

I must confess I have an addiction to almost anything BBC. I even have a Pinterest board called My BBC Addiction. Many of the movies and shows that BBC makes are just good, quality shows and I can watch them with my daughters. North and South, The Paradise, Larkrise to Candleford, and Cranford are just some of the few stories that I have enjoyed watching with my girls without having to worry about sex, violence, or ideas being thrown at us that go against our beliefs. I am a sucker for period pieces but that’s probably because I have always felt I was born in the wrong era. (If I was born in the 1800’s I would have married Mr. Darcy.  Sorry, Jane Austen fans. 🙂 )

Call the Midwife is another series that is worth watching. It is set in the post-war era of the late 1950’s in a poor area of East London. The show follows the lives of midwives and nuns who live and work with in a poor community to provide for their health needs and specifically pre-natal care and delivery. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth this drama series is chock full of loveable characters. However, what I most appreciate about this series is its undeniable celebration of life and faith.

This show captures the beauty and joy of every child that is born even in messy life circumstances. Life is not perfect but the gift of children should always be celebrated. Call the Midwife is a nice diversion from reality TV and many American shows that seem more intent on enticing viewers or promoting agendas than telling good stories.

I realize I am taking a risk with recommending any show nowadays and I have only watched seasons 1 and 2. There are some heavy topics like prostitution and abortion so I wouldn’t recommend this show for young children or even young teens. However, this series gets my five-star rating and has even let me enjoy watching television or the “telly”, again.  Watch the show or better yet read the book and then tell me what you think. I think you will enjoy it.

Here’s a preview: