Wrapping up the Week – 5.10.13

I’ve neglected the week wrap-ups these past couple of weeks so welcome back! Where I live spring has come with full force and the colors are extraordinary. New life is everywhere – in flowering trees, Lilac bushes, Azaleas, and eight baby goslings following a mama down by the river. Amazing Grace.

Communicating Across Boundaries had a lot of activity this week – particularly around the post on Grief. If you haven’t seen it take a look and be sure to read the extraordinary comments. People were deeply honest about grief and all its power and unpredictability. To those of you who are new here because of the post – thank you for reading and coming by.

On to the wrap-up.

On Abortion: Despite the world surrounding me being pro-choice (including most of my friends and all of my colleagues) I am unapologetically pro-life. At every level. From homeless to unborn to drone strikes. I like to think I keep my friends who disagree honest about the issues in a pro-choice world – they certainly keep me honest. This week The Daily Beast published what I felt was an extraordinary article by Kirsten Powers. Powers is a lifelong Democrat, served in the Clinton-Gore administration and by her own admission has never voted non-democrat. She wrote an article that I feel is a ‘must read’ on abortion calling the abortion rights community the “NRA of the Left” – for those of you who don’t live in the United States – this means they are militant without reason, militant even when all the evidence is pointing to them being in the wrong. Take a look at this article called: Abortion Rights Community Has Become the NRA on the Left published in The Daily Beast. My favorite quote is this:

I cannot legitimately say I am a person who cherishes human rights and remain silent about our country legally endorsing infanticide.

On Moms: I did a full post on the State of the World’s Mothers Report published by Save the Children. In case you missed that post, here is an article on the report from Huffington Post. Moms and babies are important and continue to be an important public health priority world-wide that we dare not ignore.

On Hope: Remember the horrific garment building collapse in Bangladesh? A woman trapped under that rubble for 17 days has survived and is now rescued. This is a miracle – that survival could come this late after the collapse, that the dead have grown in number day after day, this is Hope – this is life in the midst of a horrible tragedy.  The article will bring tears to your eyes today and hope to your world. This is a must read this weekend – 17 Days of Darkness, A Cry of ‘Save Me’ and Joy. Hope in the midst of Darkness, Joy at the end of the road. Unbelievable.

On American Mother’s Day: You’ll love this article posted in Babble Voices – Honoring Mothers, Djibouti Style by Rachel Pieh Jones. A great article giving you some cultural insight as well as a reason to thank your mom.

On My Bedside Stand: In true admission a stack of books that remain unread  – my hope is that will change as my work load decreases this week.

Have a great weekend where ever you live and thank you as always for reading!

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Spring time – Mount Auburn Cemetery

pro-life or Pro-LIFE?

Note from Communicating Across Boundaries: Posts on CAB are rarely political. While they are often passionate and want to bring on different perspectives, I know politics can get ugly – and at CAB We hate ugly dialogue! But this Friday, Robynn brings a challenging post on Life with a capital L. We are pretty sure that wherever you stand you will be challenged; we are also aware that wherever you stand you may have strong feelings about the post. We invite dialogue! We know it’s best done in relationship, and better over tea or coffee, but we urge you to respectfully articulate what Life is to you. Thank you for reading! ~

My husband, Lowell, recently was asked by the Evangelical Environmental Network to write a piece defending their declaration that mercury poisoning of the unborn through the burning of coal is a pro-life issue. It seems an obvious connection to me but one that has come under attack by those who prefer a more tightly defined category of pro-life.

It’s got me thinking.

I worked for a year at our local Life Choice office. This was a distinctly pro-woman place where women in crisis could come. We provided information and counseling so these women could make an informed decision about pregnancy, abortion and adoption. It was a place of healing and hope. I loved seeing the women loved on and prayed with through deeply troubling circumstances.

I am pro-life.

But I’m wondering when the definition of pro- life became so narrow? When did pro-life come to only mean pro-life of the unborn child? It seems to me that if we are really truly pro-life we should be pro-LIFE! We should advocate for all issues surrounding life. Our voice should defend the lives of the immigrant, the migrant worker, the poor, the homeless, the elderly, the unemployed, the marginalized. We should valiantly love the woman in crisis.  We should cry out against injustice and exploitation. We should actively picket against toxins and pesticides, against mountain top removal and deforestation, against ruthless relentless drilling for oil. We should labour for clean drinking water, and safe agricultural practices.

But are we really pro-life? Am I?

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with a friend. This friend and her husband have themselves adopted a child through that same Life Choice ministry. We have lots in common, including our pro-life convictions. She’s a safe friend to engage life with. I found myself wondering out loud about these things.

I wondered why the conservatives chose this issue to pivot on. What prompted them to decide to cast their vote behind this one concern seemingly sacrificing all other convictions? Why wasn’t it care for the elderly or for the poor? Why not concern for the foreigner or for the stranger?  If the Bible was their source of ethics or morality they easily would have had justifiable scriptural evidence to suggest choosing one of those.

But I also wondered why those on the other side of the political aisle, who seemingly defend the poor, the ostracized, the foreigner–why they seem to have turned a blind eye to the unborn. They hear the cries of the young woman in crisis but choose to ignore the cries of the infant not yet born. How did they decide to define life in terms of choice when it’s clear that the others they advocate for rarely have a choice? Like the illegal immigrant, the Unborn have no defense, no voice, nothing to stand on—they are silenced by choice. They are silenced by ease. They are silenced by personal pain and even worse, by politics. They have no advocate.

There seems to be so much inconsistency.

As we dialogued and debated and discussed I think we happened upon a possible reason.

For the conservative –It is far easier to love a faceless, nameless innocent child than it is to love the homeless man you see every morning pushing his cart full of water bottles and pop cans. It’s easier to stand up for someone you don’t know, someone you’ll never meet, someone who really affects very few of us than it is to stand up for the grumpy, nosy elderly neighbor who’s name you know and who you try to avoid and who you’re pretty sure doesn’t have health insurance.

For the liberal—It’s far easier to ignore the voice of someone who is silent. It’s easy to forget they even exist. They have no voice. It’s easier to ignore someone who can’t talk, who’s never been given that right.

I know that the unborn child is personally entwined in many of our stories. These babies, miscarried or aborted, bring grief and sorrow. They are little people we’ve never met, children we never carried. They do have names and they mean so much to us, their mothers, their sisters, their aunts, their grandmothers.

But for many it’s not part of our experience.

We’ve limited our definition of pro-life as a convenient way to keep it at arm’s length.

Not only does this slap the grief of our fellow women in the face who’ve personally dealt with this deeply poignant loss, it also requires a different level of personal response or responsibility from those who haven’t.  We don’t have to deal with it. I don’t have to decide whether to give money for gas to the man who knocked on my back door, or to give money to help cover the rent to the two women who rang my front door bell. I don’t have to figure it out.

I guess I’m imploring us all to look again at the broader landscape of scripture and society. I want to see the faces of those that others ignore. I want life for them. I want to stretch my definition of what life and living is. I really do want to be pro-life. I want life for that woman who yet grieves her loss. I want life for the uninsured, for the poor, for the unemployable, for the elderly. I want to care for those that mercury is silently poisoning, for those whose water is now contaminated, for those who live in environmentally devastated regions.

I want life for the born and the not yet born.

Perhaps the pro-life issue really is about choice. I choose to care. I choose to take responsibility. I choose life. I choose to be pro-Life! I’m pro-that –choice!

Sometimes You Can’t Keep Silent

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31a

52 years ago this year I was born. I was born into an already established family of three brothers and my parents. I was a girl. My status in the family was predetermined – I would be loved and enjoy princess privilege. But the big thing is this: I was born.

I was born and God called it good. Just like you who are reading this were born – and God called it Good. God called this little being knit together inside a safe womb, safe from all the outside factors that could cause danger to the life and development of this little being, God called this “Good”.  Just as someone who knits watches carefully for slipped stitches or a missed pattern, so does God knit us, form us, and watch us, all the time calling it good. The knitter will go back and find the missed stitch, even if it takes a lot of time, to form that perfect pattern that will be the mittens, or the socks; the scarf or the sweater.

And so I can’t keep silent.

The Huffington Post UK edition posted an article “Killing Newborn Babies No Different To Abortion Say Medical Ethicist” and I read on as if I was part of a futuristic psycho-thriller; The Hunger Games or Brave New World. The opening lines are chilling: “A medical journal has called for the acceptance of ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn baby), causing outrage among pro-life campaigners and raising an array of ethical questions.Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Alberto Giubilini from the University of Milan and Francesca Minerva from Melbourne University argue that foetuses and newborns “do not have the same moral status as actual persons”. (Read the rest of the article here)

When I was pregnant with my third child I had a friend come up to me one day. She began telling me her story. Her story of an unexpected pregnancy in a developing country and a plane trip she will never forget to Europe to end the pregnancy. She wept. And she wept. And she wept more. And once we had cleaned up her tears from this story, she told her second story. There was another baby and another country. Another trip and another “safe” abortion. Safe to everything but her psyche.  Like scales falling from her eyes, she told of the realization that these were her babies and they didn’t have a chance to be born, to take that first breath. They didn’t have a chance to be called “Good”. She told me because she watched my growing baby in awe. She was zealous for my safety, my nutrition, my activity – this baby must LIVE. And the baby did live. And he was perfect, just like our first two babies. We called him Micah and my friend held him, and she wept.

Five I have. Five that were called “Good”. Five that came into our lives despite some circumstances that were less than good. Despite some times in our marriage that were less than lovely and far less than perfect. Five that came, not to a wealthy family, not to a family that had it all together, but they came, and God called each of their births good. Annie, Joel, Micah, Stefanie, Jonathan. Knit together by God. Called Good at conception. Called Good at birth.

And so I can’t keep silent when I see an article called “Abortion Safer Than Giving Birth: Study”  with the byline “Getting a legal abortion is much safer than giving birth, suggests a new U.S. study published in January” (Reuters Health). I can’t keep silent when I read the words “Women who are having abortions are having a safe, common surgical procedure or taking medication for the same reason,” she (Dr. Ann Davis) told Reuters Health.

I can’t keep silent because I’ve been told it’s not “common”. I have believed the rhetoric that says “We all agree that there should be fewer abortions”. But if we want fewer, if we strive for less, why are they, as the researchers point out, common?

“Abortion care and pregnancy care should not really be any different from consenting people for any other procedure.” Ah – but there you see is the problem. It is different. Because any other medical procedure doesn’t involve the health of two – it is about the health of one.

My heart breaks for those who feel they have no alternative but abortion. My heart cries out for them. I have wept with women post abortion, and I have wept with women pre-abortion who made a different choice. And I believe in a God who loves. Who forgives. Whose mercy and grace no one can fathom. But I can’t keep silent. This being, knit together in the womb, this is a baby, made in the image of God. This is Good.

I write this blog to communicate across boundaries, to have a voice in a public place, and I know there will be readers that disagree, that may see this as an insurmountable boundary. Those of you who read my blog know I am not a right-wing fanatic. No right-wing fanatic writes in defense of Muslims and Muslim opinion, of arranged marriage, of wanting health care for all. Right wing fanatics don’t do workshops on culture and healthcare for Planned Parenthood. And if you disagree with this post, I respect your opinion, I respect you as a person made in the image of God. But it would be a false pretense if I was not bold enough to write this, if I pretended that I thought this was ok. And so I can’t keep silent.

Personal choice has eclipsed the sacredness, or otherness, of life itself. It is profoundly disturbing, indeed shocking, to see the way in which opinion-formers within the medical profession have ditched the traditional belief of the healer to uphold the sanctity of human life for this impoverished and inhumane defence of child destruction.” Lord Alton, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group

Click here to learn more about Communicating Across Boundaries

For the Love of a Baby

I met Patti soon after arriving in Phoenix, Arizona. A petite, cute, blonde who looks far younger than her physical age, Patti exudes life and energy.

Patti has a heart that embraces foster children, usually babies. She has seen almost everything there is to see in terms of this worlds brokenness. From crack babies to babies with fetal alcohol syndrome, babies abandoned and babies abused, Patti is a life line in the midst of a world that has been cruel to the most vulnerable.

I often wonder how she does it. She loves these babies for a month, two months, a year and longer. Then, when told, she gives them up. Sometimes back to their families, other times to a permanent placement, but it is never under her control. A comment she left on a blog post that I did in August gave me a bit of insight into what makes Patti do what she does.

The post I did was called “Babies and the Sovereignty of God” and relayed the pregnancy and birth of my youngest son, Jonathan. Patti made this comment:

“I found myself pregnant with our third “unwanted” child right when my ex-husband was falling in love with someone else! I didn’t know about her but knew things were going terribly wrong for us. So the answer we thought would be an abortion…….”we can’t have another baby” and on and on we rationalized. Thankfully I cancelled the appointment, five days before! Twenty days later he moved out. Two months later I found out about them. At that time I had a 4 mo old and a 5-year-old. I felt like Hagar….pregnant and alone in the desert. But God gave me strength and what a blessing it was to have David. His precious little life grew in me, while my marriage died. Twenty four years later and I can’t imagine my life without him.” 

Patti went on to marry Keith, and he is God’s gift to her, embracing every child she brings home. Acting as father, grandfather and general caregiver when Patti needs a break, they are a team, giving babies a chance and loving them through the process.

Patti knows grace and strength. She also knows healing. It’s as though she took all the pain from being abandoned in her marriage and poured it into loving kids who have been abandoned. Most people I know who make a difference in the lives of hurting people, whether it be babies or grown-ups, know what its like to be hurt. It’s that hurt that compels them to care, and uses experiences that could have paralyzed them to move them into action.

Whenever I hear arguments about people who oppose abortion being unwilling to offer other solutions I think about Patti and her heart, for Patti’s primary motivation is not praise, but love of God. She lives out her faith through loving foster babies.

Yesterday when I asked Patti for permission to tell a bit of her story she said this:

Our little 14-month old baby girl (we got in May) is going to be moved to an adoptive home soon…..this one will be a hard one to let go.

I am grateful for the Patti’s in my life that help me check what I am doing, and what I could be doing. I don’t think it will be foster babies, but I too am called to live out my faith in a tangible way.

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without actions is also dead. James 2:26

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