Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the things i loved about birthing at home

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Here I am, looking back to 6 months ago, when our sweet Stella made her way into the world, in the wee hours of a hot summer morning, in the comfort of our home, in our own bed. How did so much time pass so quickly? And yet, I remember the events of that night and that morning so vividly. I wouldn't change a thing about it. (Even if my children all do insist on taking forever to work their way out because they sit so wonky in my womb. Anything for my babies).

Stella turned 6 months this past weekend and so I've been reflecting back on her birth a little bit lately: the events that led up to it, what actually took place, but more so the things that I will cherish in my heart forever about birthing my daughter at home.

It was incredible.

And perfectly wonderful.

For starters, when I go into our bathroom to take a shower and the same candle that was burning that night is lit, I am immediately transported back to being in labor. They say smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory and I love how certain smells from that night- coconut, lavender- take me right back.

That night, I had been in active labor for several hours and was starting to tire. I decided to take a shower at about 1 am (she was born about 4:15 am). I had a candle burning in our bathroom and our bedroom of the same scent- vanilla coconut. And so now, that smell will forever be tied to my memory of laboring in the shower, where my contractions really began to pick up, where things got so intense I had to squat or bend over to get through each contraction, where I knew it was time to call my midwife because things were getting ready to really happen.

The smell of lavender will do nearly the same thing. Ben joked that our bedroom smelled like an herb factory thanks to a crock pot full of hot wash cloths and lavender essential oil. During each contraction, Ben would place a hot wet wash cloth on my back as I leaned over our bed. It was a life saver. And lavender in the air helped too.

I loved that I could tuck my boys into bed at 8 o'clock that night, while having strong contractions, and when they awoke the next morning, their baby sister was there, in their home, waiting to meet them. We didn't have to be separated from each other for any time. At all times, our children were near to us and we were near to them. No worrying about who would watch them overnight, who would bring them to the hospital, if Ben would go home or stay with me. We were all right there, together, the whole time, as a family.

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The moment that Stella was born was peaceful. No one whisked her away from me. There were no monitors to run her to, no beeping or heat lamps. No one insisted on wiping her down and bathing her immediately or poking her foot with needles. No one running around the room frantically. No one asking me a million questions. No machines, no technology, no intervention whatsoever. It was quiet and calm, not loud and chaotic. It was dark and peaceful, not bright and hectic. Ben was by my side, worship music was playing softly, Stella went right on top of my tummy and chest (of course we took some pictures) and then we rested quietly, together.

It was basically the exact opposite of the two hospital birth experiences I had with my boys.

I was able to nap in my own bed after labor. Need I say more? I mean, wow was that an amazing thing. Something so simple and yet so wonderful. I gave birth, nursed my sweet daughter, and then I took a nap, all in my own bed.

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I was surrounded by only the people I chose, at the time I chose, no one more, no one less. For most of my labor it was just Ben and I. No nurses poking me in the arm, no one insisting that they check to measure my progress, no monitors strapped to my tummy, no one asking me to sign a bunch of forms.

Just me, my baby and my husband.

I could focus on what I was doing. I wasn't interrupted a million times. I was able to get into my zone and stay there. When it was time to call for help I invited my midwives and one of their students into my home. They were there to assist and support me, to simply attend my birth. They were not there to tell me what to do, how to do anything or try to convince me to do anything against my will.

Which leads me to the best part about birthing at home: I was free to choose. Birthing at home allowed me to choose exactly who I wanted to attend my birth, it allowed me to choose what I wanted to do during labor, it allowed me to choose what happened to my baby after she was born. It allowed me to decide what I wanted or didn't want to do while pregnant as well! I was free to decline anything I felt I didn't need.

Birthing at home allowed me to listen to my body and labor exactly how I chose: walking, standing, squatting, in the shower, laying down. I wore whatever I wanted. Even when things got a bit challenging, my midwife encouraged me to just follow my body's cues and do what I felt I needed to do. She didn't interject and say I needed pitocin to get my cervix to dilate quicker or to stop pushing (like I was told during my delivery with Isaac). She was there simply to encourage me to keep working, to keep laboring, to keep going. And of course to make sure Stella and I were both doing well.

You see, there is freedom in birthing at home. 

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I look back on that night with gratitude. What a blessing it was to have a baby in the comfort of my own home. What a blessing it was to have the freedom I so deeply desired for her birth. I am grateful every day for the beautiful amazing gift that God gave to us wrapped up in a sweet, precious, cuddly little baby and I am grateful every day for how she made her way into our lives. I am grateful that He was there in our midst and that He never left my side. And I am grateful that even if I hadn't been able to birth at home, even if things hadn't gone the way I had desired, that He would still be the sovereign God.




Monday, December 8, 2014

Jesus became flesh and blood- how having a baby during Christmas is changing my perspective

Because God's children are human beings--made of flesh and blood--the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. Hebrews 2:14,15 (NLT)

Yesterday, as I searched for a verse to put on our Christmas cards, I came across this version of this verse. And it just struck me. This is the gospel story and the Christmas story all wrapped up in two verses. Let's consider what we learn in this piece of scripture.

What happened on Christmas? Jesus, the Son, came as flesh and blood.

Why did He come as a man? He came to us as flesh and blood because we, the children of God (and as some versions refer to us, His brothers), are made of flesh and blood.

Why did He have to become like us? He had to become human because He had to die in our place, as a human being.

Why did He have to die? Death and the power that Satan had over it could only be defeated by Jesus dying, in our stead.

What does that mean for me? Satan no longer has the power of death. He has been defeated. And because of that, I can live! I am set free! I am no longer a slave to sin and death.

I suppose I could just wrap up this post right here. I mean, that is the whole story, in a nutshell. And yet there is so much more to this verse than simply what we read on the surface. One thing I've learned to do over the years as I study scripture, something that took time and discipline to develop, is to read not only what a verse says at face value, but also what the verse implies. Every statement brings with it implications. But we have to dig in and ask what is this implying? About me? About sin? About Jesus? About God? About creation? About culture? And the list goes on and on. The questions are endless and so are the answers.

Scripture is rich and deep and there is always more to discover.

But what more is there to dig into in regards to this passage? The first question I asked was "what exactly did it mean for Jesus to become flesh and blood?" I won't even begin to brush the surface of the endless answers to that question in this post, but I wanted to share just a few things.

Having an infant during Christmas changes everything about this season for me. Eli was a newborn 2 years ago at Christmas and I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't catch this then. But this time around, although Stella is 6 months old, I'm determined to let the fullness of what happened on that Christmas morning fall and settle on my heart. I want to grasp the greatness of what occurred when Jesus "became flesh and blood."

Later in this same chapter of Hebrews, the author says that Jesus had to be made like us "in every respect." And as I stopped to consider that, I reread the Christmas story in the gospels and this particular verse in Luke caught my attention:

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger Luke 2:6,7

Mary gave birth to her baby and swaddled him. That's what we do with babes. We bring them into the world and we wrap them in swaddling clothes and we lay them down to sleep. When it's time to eat, we feed them. When they need it, we change their diaper. They are ultimately and completely dependent on us for their care and nurturing. And just like every other baby before Him and just like every baby since, Jesus became just.like.that.

He became a helpless babe, swaddled, nursed and cared for by a woman who He Himself created and yet who He Himself would call mother.

How can I even make sense of that?

I look at Stella as I nurse her and change her and carry her on my hip and sing to her and talk to her and wrap her in a blanket and lay her to sleep in her crib and I think, "Jesus became just like her."

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And again I can't help but ask, why?

And the Word of God whispers, "for love and for My glory."

You see, Jesus, the Creator God, the Alpha and the Omega, the great I AM, put on flesh and blood, was made to be like His very own creation- a man- in order to sacrifice Himself on our behalf. Christmas is just part of the story. He didn't just come down to earth to be with us. He came down to earth to sacrifice Himself for us, to die for us. We can't understand the magnitude of the story without understanding that the Babe we celebrate in December, the infant swaddled in the manger, came with a purpose. That purpose was to give Himself up so that we would be set free from sin and made holy.

What other god does that? What other god makes himself to be like the people he created for the purpose of dying on their behalf? None. No other god is like our God. There is no greater or more perfect display of love than that. 

Jesus is, therefore, worthy of all worship and honor and praise.

Jesus, the Creator of all things, God Himself, became like me- a man, a mere mortal, so that I could be like Him- holy, pure and sanctified. He put on flesh and blood, walked a perfect sinless life and then died to defeat death, hell and the grave in order that I may be delivered from sin- free from the fear of death. I am no longer a slave to sin, but I am free in Christ. I died with Jesus and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ in me! (Galations 2:20)

And so, when I look at Stella as I nurse her and change her and carry her on my hip and sing to her and talk to her and wrap her in a blanket and lay her to sleep in her crib and I think, "Jesus became just like her", I also think, "Jesus became just like her, just for her" (and just for me, and just for you).

This Christmas I am determined to be overcome by the magnitude of what it meant for God to become a man and die for me. The Christmas story is about love, no doubt. But the Christmas story is ultimately about Jesus, about who He is, what He did and the glory and honor and power that He calls His own because of those things. May we be in awe of that tiny babe this Christmas, but may we also be in awe of the Lord of all, whose name is more excellent than any other, whose throne is forever and ever, and who is the founder and author and pioneer and captain of our salvation.

Soli Deo Gloria.


Monday, November 24, 2014

we are intimately united with Christ: why marriage matters

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We're just going to jump right in, so fair warning.

Ultimately, God didn't create marriage for you. God didn't create marriage for your happiness. God didn't create marriage for you to fill up a hole in your heart that could only be filled by a "soul mate."

Instead, God created marriage for Himself. God created marriage to be a picture of Himself and His unbreakable, unyielding, unshakable love for His people. Marriage is a visual and physical representation of Christ and His bride, the church.


But let me back up a bit.


First, I have to share a song with you. I basically have it on repeat all.the.time. It's called "Oh God" by Citizens. Go listen to it and come back. Here are a few of the lyrics:


Height nor death nor anything else could pull us apart

We are joined as one by the blood
Hope will rise as we become more than conquerors through
The One Who loved the world.

One thing that I love about Citizens and seriously appreciate is that all of their lyrics are basically scripture verbatim. These lyrics are mostly taken from Romans 8 where Paul is telling us how he is convinced that nothing at all can separate us from the love of Christ.


But why is that? Why was he so thoroughly convinced that the believer cannot be separated from Jesus, from His love?


For the answer we should take a look in Hebrews. Chapter 3 verse 14 says, "For we have become partakers of Christ." What does it mean to partake of something? Well, often it means that we share in or join in something. That definition fits here. But there is also another definition of partake that we need to consider and that is to eat or drink, as in to partake of food. And what does Jesus say about Himself? "I am the Bread of Life" John 6:35. And later, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink" John 7:37.


When we eat food, at the molecular level, it becomes part of our physical being. Once we partake of it, once food enters into our system, once it begins to break down into sugars and energy and our cells begin to use it, it cannot be separated from us. What we eat, the food and drink that we partake of, essentially become a part of us. 


And Jesus is like that.


When I partake of Jesus, the Bread of Life, the Living Water, He physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally becomes a part of me. We have been intimately united with Christ. We are, as the lyrics above state, "joined as one." And as the old hymn says, "Be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord... Be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one" (Be Thou My Vision). Every fiber of my body contains Jesus. He is in me and I am in Him and nothing can separate us. Nothing can be done to me or can happen around me that can remove the security and unity that I have with and in and through Christ

That is why Paul can so confidently say that he is convinced that "neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height no depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38,9)

Christian, if you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you cannot be separated. Nothing can separate you from Him.


So the other day I was writing all of this out so I could better process it and that truth that nothing can separate us caused me to think of Matthew 19. Perhaps you're familiar with it. The Pharisees are questioning Jesus about divorce in order to test Him. When they ask Him if it's lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause, Jesus gives this response:


They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. Matthew 19:4-6a


He's quoting directly from Genesis 2, where God first ordains marriage as between one man and one woman. And what does He say happens when a man marries his wife? They become one [flesh]. They are united as one. They are intimately united with one another, so much so that they are considered one flesh. They are no longer regarded as two, but now they are one. Matthew Henry explains this even further by saying that the relationship between husband and wife is closer than that of a mother and child or father and child, "A man’s children are pieces of himself, but his wife is himself. As the conjugal union is closer than that between parents and children." Here he is referring specifically to the statement that a man must leave his father and mother in order to be joined with his wife.

That, marriage, has to be a close relationship considering that a child comes from the seed and egg of his parents. He is then carried in his mother's womb and nursed at her breast. How could there possibly be a relationship or union closer than that? But there is. And it was created and ordained by God. 

And that is why marriage matters.

It matters so much that Jesus goes on to say that what God has joined together, let no man split apart, let no man separate

Are you starting to see the parallel here? When we become married and enter into a union with our spouse, no one should separate us. When we become a Christian and enter into a union with Christ, nothing can separate us. The picture that marriage provides of Christ and His bride is profound. Surely that is why Paul refers to it as a mystery. 

This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32

My intention here is not to get into a debate over circumstances in which divorce is allowed. But consider what marriage represents. If the bond between man and wife is to be a picture, a display of the unity we have in Christ, what should be allowed to separate it? Certainly not much. Nothing can separate me from Christ. Nothing. This is why Jesus says to the Pharisees, nothing should separate a man and his wife.

Marriage is that important.

And this is precisely why marriage is not ultimately for or about me. Certainly there will be joy and growth and benefits to me beyond measure, thanks be to God. But in the end, my marriage and your marriage is meant to glorify God; it was made and designed to point to someone and something far greater than us: Jesus and His unbreakable, unyielding, unshakable love for His people, the church.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17


Thursday, November 20, 2014

how valuing life permeates through every area- especially education

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From the beginning, Ben and I agreed to raise our children as little people. While children certainly are not born brilliant, they don't require us to dumb everything down in order for them to understand. In many ways we feel like doing so does a disservice to children. We want to send a message that says, "We are confident that you can learn. You are bright and have the ability to understand as much as you want."

Practically, at an early age, that means speaking in regular language. Others often comment on Isaac's insane vocabulary. For a preschooler, the kinds of words he understands and uses regularly impress me (and others) greatly. I can't definitively say that it's because of the way we talk to him, but I would definitely put my money on that. We have normal, not kiddie, conversations with our children. We use big words in our home and we use them often. As our kids become familiar with their use, as with any other word, they begin to grasp it's meaning and will eventually feel confident using them themselves. As they get older and are better with conversation, if they don't understand a word being used, they simply ask, "mommy, what does industrious mean?"

Isaac is bright. And not at all because of what I have done but because of how God made him. God has ordained Isaac with a specific purpose. I don't know what that purpose is but I can tell you that it's something that requires Isaac to be quick, to desire lots and lots of knowledge, to seek out answers to even the most mundane questions, to be incredibly observant but simultaneously cautious. Ben and I are determined to foster those characteristics. And in doing so, our hope is that he will grow and develop into the person God designed him to be now and who he will become as he matures. That is our role as his parents.

Now, I don't know that I've talked much on the blog about our decision to home school. The decision has been made for years and for several reasons, most of which I'm not going to get into right now. But I what I wanted to share is the method we've settled on for schooling and the most important "why?". Honestly, this "why" affects far more than how I've educated and will continue to educate my children. What it truly all comes down to is that my view of all people affects how I interact with and educate my own children day in and day out.

Every single person has value from the moment of conception on. Each human being has value and a purpose and was intimately created and is intimately known by our Creator God. We are each important, dignified and made in God's beautiful image.

Little did I know that there was a woman, an educator, who lived a long time ago, who had the same view of children, and who was able to put her beliefs into better words than I ever could. (Actually, I hadn't even stopped to think about why I treat my children the way I do in regards to education, it just flows out as a result of something I believe so strongly.)

Her name was Charlotte Mason and it is her method of education that we will adhere to in our home.

At the core of what Charlotte believed was this: children are persons. Sounds simple enough right? Of course children are persons. They are living, breathing, thinking, talking human people. It would be crazy to suggest otherwise. But what she means is more than that they simply exist as human beings.

I have a degree in psychology, a degree I have used a grand total of zero times. But when I was in school, we often had the discussion about the different theories of child development, particularly in the early, early years. And one theory, suggested by John Locke, is that children are born as a tablua rasa. I'm sure you're familiar with the term. It means "blank slate." In other words, Locke theorized that children begin with nothing and are then molded and shaped over time. Essentially, his surroundings, the people in his life: parents, teachers, those with heavy influence, and life events, write on that tablet and make a child into the person they are over time.

But what Mason suggests, and what is spelled out in scripture, is that children have unique and distinct personalities, characteristics, desires, fears and a purpose from the beginning. In fact, God designs us with a purpose in mind. He knits us together with unique abilities and skills on purpose. He sets us apart for a specific purpose and set of "good works" while we are still within our mother's womb. Every single child is a distinct and individual person, just as you and I are individual people. He is. Yes, he will grow and learn and develop over time, but even as a small and incapable person, he is entirely different and unique from any other.

And because this is the case, every child matters. Each and every child has value.

If Christianity is indeed true, then every last little child matters. Bright to dull, privileged or from any variety of troubled background, each is valuable. Persons matter. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, For the Children's Sake

So the question arises: is this how we view children today? Does our education system view children this way?

Macaulay (Charlotte Mason expert and author quoted above. Considering home school? Are you a teacher? Read her book!!) argues no, absolutely not. And not only should our system view children in this light, it should be the very foundation for educating children. The problem with our current system is that it views children as "a cog in a machine." Children are valued now in terms of money, not in terms of their intrinsic value. As a society we view people in terms of their economic value. Can they make money? Pay taxes? Contribute to the collective? If not, they are of little or no value. This, of course, has many far-reaching implications but for the sake of our discussion today, we'll stick to simply how it affects how we educate children.

We don't value life anymore, at least not in the way God values life.

As Macaulay discusses, there used to be a Christian foundation for education in our nation, but that no longer exists. There are many, many answers to the question of why, but one in particular is that there is no longer a Christian basis for how we view life, and therefore the child. We don't care to educate the child as an individual because we don't care about the child as an individual. And that's not to say we don't care about children. Obviously we do. But, if we truly believed that each child is unique, that she has a different learning style, different desires and passions, different fears and concerns, different ways of understanding the things around her, different questions, a different set of skills than her classmate and if we truly valued all of those things, if we truly believed that each and every single one of those things matter, then education would look entirely different than it does today. The classroom would be designed very differently.

But it's not.

And that is why we plan to home school and to use Charlotte Mason's method. I look at my children and I see all of those things I've just listed. I assure you, teachers would suggest Isaac be drugged so that he can sit still for absurd amounts of time. Eli would be sent home often for removing his pants. Stella would get a green sticker every day for good behavior because she is gentle and reserved. But all 3 of them are so distinctly different from one another. And each one deserves individual attention and space to learn and grow and develop in their own style and their own way.

I strongly desire to nurture my children's individual strengths, passions, and purposes in an environment that will never be ideal, but that will always be on their side. I desire to instill in them a love of learning that will cause them to seek out knowledge and truth in a way that will encourage their God-given abilities, skills and desires.

And for those reasons, I will educate my children at home.

Much of what I discussed in this post is from Macaulay's book For the Children's Sake. I also highly recommend Home Education by Charlotte Mason.



Monday, November 3, 2014

God values all life, whether thriving or declining, and we should too

You may have heard by now about Brittany Maynard, and that yesterday she ended her life.

Matt Walsh wrote an incredible piece on how suicide is not brave. He seriously says everything and more that I would want to say on the issue of physician assisted suicide, euthanasia and suicide in general. His point: 
life is valuable. All life is valuable.

Honestly, I wasn't going to write anything about the topic on this blog because, while I'm very well acquainted with the abortion side of the pro-life coin, this is an area with which I am not as comfortable debating and discussing. And not because I don't know where I stand. I am absolutely unmovable in my belief that all life has value. Every.single.life. At every.single.stage. All life is dignified. All life has purpose. Even when we don't want to see it or believe it.

This is a topic that hasn't had much public discussion. But that needs to change because it is being discussed elsewhere. Behind closed doors. Among the people who will change the laws and the culture in favor of legalized suicide. And if we aren't sure where we stand, if we're not willing to have the hard conversations amongst ourselves, the people we care about, the people we know and even those with whom we disagree, soon we'll wake up and wonder why we didn't get a say.

You have a say. Now say it!

So last night I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across a post from a little shop in California that I think makes some of the cutest clothes and accessories. To my surprise, I mean my absolute shock, it was a quote from Brittany Maynard about being brave. And the hash tag #diewithdignity was used (we will get to what that means and does not mean in a moment). What disturbed me was that the owner of this shop is a Christian. But what also disturbed me was that in just 20 minutes or so, the post had received over 200 likes and several comments of praise. By this morning it was up to 400+ likes.

I was grieved. So grieved.

Of course I had to leave a comment. You know me. And what I said was this:

It is not my intention to preach here but I can't pass by without saying something. I am so grieved by the support Brittany has received for this choice she has made. There is nothing dignified about suicide. It's tragic. Life has value at every stage,  during every season, whether thriving or barely hanging on. God believed her life to be so valuable that He gave it to her. Only He has the authority to determine when it ends. I'll quote Matt Walsh, "if God reached out from the depths of eternity to hand us this life, how can we think it acceptable or worse, meritable  to throw it out before our time is finished?" It is never God's will for one to end the life He gave us- the most valuable and incredible gift. Suicide is not brave because escaping suffering is not brave. Because the implication then is that fighting until the dire end, suffering all the way, is not brave when in fact THAT is what is truly brave.

Almost immediately I received several responses. I was expecting them. But what I didn't expect was what these women were saying. And the most surprising response was the claim that Brittany did not commit suicide, that she did not want to die.

At first I was speechless. How can you say that the intentional ending of your life prematurely is not suicide? That is precisely what suicide is! But then it struck me. We are quickly doing here exactly what we've done with abortion. Again, this is just the flip side of the same coin. With abortion we swear up and down that "terminating a pregnancy" is not murder. Now we are saying that "physician assisted suicide" and "euthanasia" are not self-murder. But the same holds true in this case as with abortion. The intentional ending of a life is murder. Whether it's the murder of another or the murder of self. Suicide, like abortion, ends the life of a human being who has purpose, value and dignity.

And I am still hung up on the defense that she did not want to die. Of course she didn't. Last I checked, no one wants to die. But we all will at some point or another. The fact that she knew it was coming sooner than most doesn't change a thing. None of us know when or how we will die. But it's going to happen. To beat God to the punch is to say to Him, "You are not God. You have no authority over my life. I have the authority." I suppose to someone who isn't a Christian that attitude is just fine. But for a Christian to support such an action, such a stance, such an attitude, is contrary to everything scripture teaches. 

We are created by God, for God, for His glory, for His purpose. How dare we think otherwise? And how dare we support someone whose actions and words say otherwise?

Now, let's visit that term "die with dignity" because it absolutely disgusts me. Completely. There is nothing dignified about ending your own life. There is nothing dignified about ending your life because you want to escape suffering. But that begs a question, is it not dignified then to suffer until the end? To say that ending your life early means that you are dying with dignity implies that dying at the end of suffering hard and holding firm until the end is not dignified. Are those who lose all capacities due to illness or disability not dignified? Is there no dignity in their suffering? In their life? And ultimately their death? Of course there is dignity.

But we can't have it both ways. Walsh addresses this in his post (link above). We can't say that it's both dignified to end a life early and to die as a result of the suffering and the disease. It's either/or. To claim both exist is pure insanity.

But sadly, that is the world in which we live. It's a world where we say things like, "that is what is best for me" and "what is right for me is not necessarily right for you" and, my husband's favorite, "this is my truth" as if to say that we get to decide truth and morality individually. But we don't get to decide those things! The truth is that what is morally right is right for all and what is morally wrong is wrong for all. Only God determines those things.

Many are claiming that what Brittany did, in ending her own life, was brave. Choosing an escape route in order to avoid suffering is not brave. Choosing to leave your family, the people you love the most, behind, is not brave.

Perhaps to some, what she did seems beautiful, dignified or brave. But to anyone who truly values life, what she did is an affront to God - the One who gave her her very life, the life she chose to end. He values all life no matter the development, the season, the situation, the thriving, the suffering or the thriving. And we should as well.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live Deuteronomy 30:19

Thursday, October 30, 2014

what I want you to know about giving birth

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I feel like I went into my first birth super naive. I mean, don't most of us? We've never done it before. And sadly we live in a culture where birth has become a bit shrouded and there's a lot of fear surrounding it. Ya, we see it in movies but we all know how inaccurate those portrayals are (at least I hope we know that). Seriously, almost no one's water breaks at the grocery store. In fact, most women's water doesn't break until well into labor (was that even grammatically correct?). And we read birth stories on every blog. But we all know everything isn't shared and it's not like we are sitting right there in the room to experience birth live, in the moment.

If there is one thing that I have learned through giving birth to babies, it's this:

have absolutely no expectations, except trust in the Lord.

Now, I'm not saying don't get educated. Please be educated. Please prepared! Read every birthing book you can get a hold of (and while you're at it, skip What to Expect While Expecting, Pregnancy Week by Week and anything published by Baby Center). Take a birthing class (not at the hospital) from a birth professional - Bradley Method, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Christian Childbirth, anything taught by a Doula or Midwife. Hire a doula and talk to her a lot. Ask a zillion questions of your care provider. And if anyone you know will let you, attend a birth. Seriously, do it.

Because here's the thing-
Every mother is different.
Every pregnancy is different.
Every baby is different.
Every circumstance and situation is different.
Every labor is different.
Every delivery is different.

I've now given birth 4 times [IsabellaIsaacEliStella]. And they were 4 very different births. Each one was so incredibly unique. And unexpected.

To enter into labor expecting anything in particular will only rob you of the unique experience you are going to have and any lesson or growth you are purposed to learn and endure.

Can we just talk for a minute about the difference between plans and expectations?

Am I saying don't have a birth plan? No. Obviously there are things you want. That's a given. Please have a plan. You should know what you want. But don't expect everything to go exactly how you want. Instead, be as prepared as you can, surrounded by people who support the things that you want, ready to follow what your body is telling you as labor progresses.

There is a difference between expecting things to happen that are completely out of your control and being prepared for what is going to happen. Your birth plan should be focused on the things you can control: the environment you want to be in (home, hospital, dark, light, aroma, music, water, etc), the way you'd like to labor (moving around, in a tub, lying down, squatting etc), how you'd like to proceed if something does arise and your care provider wants or needs to intervene, and what you want and don't want for your baby when he or she is born. Absolutely have that in place.

But you can't go into labor expecting it to be x-number of hours, thinking your water is going to break at this exact point (say, while I'm in the shower), expecting your body to give you plenty of time for rest in between contractions, hoping you'll only have to push for 15 minutes. Those are unreasonable expectations. Believe me. Been there, done that.

I have a rule - read or watch absolutely no birth stories within 6 months of my due date.

None. No exceptions. Not even just "the good ones". None.

You know why? When I say have no expectations, I mean I don't want any good ones or bad ones. If I hear a really "good" birth story, I'm likely to start thinking, "hey maybe that will happen to me!" and then when it doesn't, I get discouraged. If I hear a "bad" birth story, I start thinking, "oh jeez, what if that happens to me?!" and then if it does I'm totally discouraged.

If I'm going to stay encouraged during labor, it's not going to be because I read a really good birth story. It's going to be because my focus is on the task at hand. And because I'm trusting in the One who designed my body with the ability to endure the task at hand.

Instead of reading birth stories, I spend all of my time preparing for labor and birth in prayer and in the word. Lots and lots of prayer. Lots and lots of reading scripture. Lots and lots of journaling. Lots and lots of recognizing sin in my life, repenting of it and growing closer to the Lord. Lots and lots of simply trusting God.

I desire to get out of my labor exactly what God intends for me- nothing more, nothing less. I don't want to walk away from my baby's birth disappointed because it didn't happen the way I had expected. But I also don't want to walk away from birth prideful because I did everything right. Because I didn't. God did.

So if there's any piece of advice I would give to a mother-in-waiting, whether this is your first or seventh birth, it would be, have absolutely no expectations. Instead simply trust God. Because you can expect Him to strengthen you, help you, uphold you and give you peace.

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

God uses words, so keep writing

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Sometimes I find myself believing this nonsense that writing is a saturated market. Do you ever think that too?

There's just so many blogs.
There's just so many books.

Certainly there is no room for my voice, for my story, for my thoughts, for my words.

Do you ever catch yourself thinking that? And believing it?

I've been fairly quiet in this space for a while. Partially because I have a very young brood of children to attend to at all hours of the day. Partially because I started to convince myself that my voice didn't need to be heard.

A lot of people write about the same things I write about. Why do my words matter?

But there is one thing that has continued to ring true in my mind lately and that is this: God uses words. God works through writers. Just take a look at the bible. He used 40 different authors, over the span of 2000 years, across 3 continents, who wrote in 3 different languages. He used all of them, unique and different, yet serving one unified purpose, to speak to His people.

Of course this is not to say that my words are as significant as scripture. Certainly not. After all, the bible is the word. The truth. Nothing is as important or crucial to our lives as the living word, our daily bread. There is no substitute for it and nothing can come close in significance and necessity to the living, breathing word of God.

My point is simply that God uses words, written by all kinds of different people.

I am not the same as the next blogger. Yes, we may have some similarities, you and me, but I assure you that we are more different than we are alike. We've walked different paths, experienced different difficulties, different joys, learned different lessons, sought out Jesus in different ways and at different times. What we write about may be similar but our words are going to be different. And I believe that there will always be room for more words.

Words have power and validity and there is always room for more words. But not flippant words, not mindless chatter. Words with meaning. Intentional words. Words that exhort, counsel, encourage, educate, train up, advise, rebuke. Words that matter rather than words just for the sake of words.

So write. Take out a piece of paper and scribble those thoughts that are bouncing around in your head. Open the laptop and start typing. Push the record button on your device and start talking. However you record your words, simply do it. Get them down because God can use them. Share them with others because God wants to use you.

He has called us all to encourage, build up, and exhort one another daily. Sometimes that means picking up the phone and calling a friend (words), sometimes that means writing a quick email or text to someone who needs to hear from you (words), sometimes that means posting on Instagram what the Holy Spirit revealed to you this morning (words) and sometimes that means writing an entire book on a subject that others need to hear about (lots of words).

Whatever the method, as long as we are obedient to Him, I believe that God uses our words.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

dear Stella - a letter to my daughter about embracing femininity

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My Dearest Stella-

I am sorry that this is the world in which you are growing up. It's a world that tells us as women that our bodies are broken, that there is something wrong with them and that we need intervention in order to fix them.

They offer birth control pills to put off pregnancy because "it's just not fair that men don't have to carry babies but we do." Abortion to rid ourselves of that burden in case the pills fail and we accidentally get pregnant. Egg freezing so that we can have babies later when we do decide that it's time. And all for what? So we can "be like men" and have a career? Daughter, the truth is that keeping a home and raising children is an admirable and respectable career. It's a career that carries with it far more influence and power than it receives credit for.

All of these "solutions" imply that the very nature of how our bodies work as a woman needs correction, assistance and help. Supposedly we're broken and we need to be fixed. Nuh uh. You are not broken. You were made in the image of your Creator. He designed you with perfection and skill. You do not need to change the way you were made to function. Sweet girl, what you do need to do is embrace your femininity. Own it. Live it. And don't ever support efforts to change it because they all carry with them the same message- you're broken and you need to be fixed. What a big fat lie.

When you find yourself believing that lie, when you start to think that being a woman is hard, my prayer for you is that you'll remember who God made you to be, and how much He cherishes you as that person. You are distinctly female. You carry within your heart and soul feminine qualities- qualities that no man can possess. Press into those things. Embrace those things.

Daughter, you are the crown of creation. Over the course of six glorious, incredible days, God made the earth and the expanses of the sky, the universe, the sun and the moon. He filled the earth with water and land and everything that walks and swims and crawls and flies. He planted seeds and trees and made them grow. And he made a man. And He said that it was good. It was all so, so good. But do you know what was not good? For man to be alone. And do you know how He solved that? He made a woman. Woman, the very last created being in the entire creation story. And with her, it was all complete. Finished. Done. Because, after that, He rested from His work. It was complete.

He crowned creation with the beauty and femininity of woman. And He adores you sweet girl. He loves you and dotes on you. You bless Him and He delights in you just.the.way.you.are. Just the way He made you.

Do you see why there is no change that needs to be made? Do you see why I can so confidently tell you that you are not broken, you are not in need of help, you don't need a solution for your femininity? Because, you never were broken. There never was anything wrong. There is nothing you need to change or apologize for in being distinctly female.

Stella, I thank God every day for who He made you to be. You are a daughter of the Most High King. You are the beautiful and wonderful and delightful work of His hands. What a glorious and incredible gift you are to me, to your family, and to those around you. Don't you ever think of yourself as anything less than that. Because you are actually so much more, worth so much more. You have within you a divine dignity.

I love you sweet girl and so does Jesus. I pray that you will never ever forget that Jesus loves you and that the truth of that knowledge will penetrate your heart and cause you to live for His glory, chasing after Him with total abandon all the days of your life.

And I cannot wait to watch as that happens.

With all the love a mother can give,

Your mommy


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

you are secure in Christ // a lesson I learned during pregnancy

I am in them and You are in me, that they may become perfectly one -Jesus praying about His followers (you and me) to the Father, shortly before He was crucified (John 17:23).

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I mentioned a few weeks back on Instagram that I'm working on a book about preparing spiritually, emotionally and mentally for labor and birth. Well, it's less of a book and more of a pregnancy companion, but either way, I'm working on it.

And by "working" I mean, slowly, very slowly, organizing all of my thoughts on how what I did during my pregnancy with Stella to prepare for labor changed everything about my labor. 

One of the truths that I clung to for those 9 months and particularly during those 8 hours of labor was this:

All I need is Jesus. In Jesus I have all that I need.

I had been reading and journaling through Colossians. It's a book written entirely about Jesus (as most of the epistles are), but it's also about who we are in Jesus and what we have in Jesus all because of Jesus. In chapter 2, Paul is talking about the importance of being rooted and built up in Christ. And then he warns us to not be deceived by other philosophies, religions or traditions that are not of Christ. Then in verse 9 and 10 he says, "For in [Jesus], the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him who is the head of all rule and authority."

Basically he's saying, don't get sucked into that stuff, you know why?? Because of who Jesus is. All of that junk is worthless. Don't buy into the garbage. You don't need it! All you need is Jesus! In Him dwells the fullness of deity. He is God. You need nothing aside from Him. And guess what, if you are saved by the grace of God, you have already been filled in Him, by Him, with Him. And He has all authority. So don't sweat it. He's got it. All you need is Him and in Him, you have all that you need.

Now, this could easily turn into a theology lesson but I won't do that to you. Instead, can we just talk a little bit about what "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" actually means? Because it sounds so fancy and that in itself could be an entire book. It's so rich and loaded with beautiful and incredible truth. Let's just rest in that verse for a moment because I think if we can actually wrap our brain around it (or at least try), it would completely change how we see Jesus and ultimately, how we see ourselves. 

For in Jesus, the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. In Jesus, the whole fullness of deity dwells. That means the Godhead- 3 in 1, the trinity, Father-Son-Holy Spirit, all reside in Jesus. That last word "bodily" is talking about how Jesus is the visual, incarnate Christ. Jesus is God who put on flesh. He partook of flesh and blood and became the image of God for us to see. The writer of Hebrews says it this way, "The Son is the express image of [God's] person" (Hebrews 1:3). And John writes, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... The Word became flesh" (John 1:1, 14). Jesus, fully God, came to earth and became fully man. And in Him resides all of God and all power, rule, authority, and dominion forever and ever.

And "you have been filled in Him." Several other versions (I'm quoting from ESV) use language like, "you have been brought to fullness" and "you have been made complete" and "you are complete in Him."

Why would that be? Because, if you have Jesus, if you believe in Him and have accepted His sacrifice for your sins, then Jesus is in you. Galations 2:20 says it better than I can (duh): "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." And if that doesn't convince you, maybe Jesus' own words will. Shortly before He was arrested and sent to be crucified, Jesus prayed to the Father and we get to read His prayer in John 17. From verse 20 on, Jesus is praying for "those who will believe in me through their word." In other words, He's praying for you and me. And He says this in verse 26, "I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them and I in them." If you have given your life to Him, Jesus is in you.

So let's take that a step further, because we can't just stop there. Christian, if Jesus is in you (which He is) and the fullness of deity is in Jesus (which it is), then guess what? You have the fullness of deity living in you. If Jesus is in me, then all that is in Jesus is in me. That is why the author of Colossians can say that you have been brought to fullness, that you have been made complete and that you are complete. Because, in Jesus you are complete. You have been filled. The end.

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Should we take it a little bit further? Because I really think we should. I mean, there's a whole lot of security in that truth alone. But it truly doesn't end there. Here's why: not only is Jesus in you (John 17:26), but you are in Jesus (John 17:21) and Jesus is in the Father (John 17:21) and the Father is in Jesus (John 17:21,23) and the Holy Spirit is in you (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19) and you are in the Father (John 17:21). 

Does your brain hurt yet? Mine sure does.

And what all of that means is that there is incredible unity and oneness to be had. It already exists and we are invited to partake in it! There is unity and security and oneness in Christ. And it is our's because of Jesus.

Ultimately the truth that we can glean from this is: you are secure in Christ. Not because of who you are or what you have done. Can we be honest here, you and me? We are nothing and have done nothing. We can do nothing. But in Jesus, through Jesus, because of Jesus, because of who He is and what He has done, you are secure. 

And that is why I clung so tightly to this truth during pregnancy and into labor. Because, if I am secure in the Lord, then there is nothing to fear. I can trust totally and completely in His plan for me, no matter what that looks like. Everything can fall apart and yet, I'm taken care of. I'm secure. Or everything can go perfectly and still, I'm taken care of. I'm secure. The circumstances have no bearing if you are rooted and secure in Jesus. All that matters is Him in you and you in Him. 

All I need is Jesus. In Jesus I have all that I need.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

one year in our house // an update part 1

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One year ago, on September 30, 2013, we closed escrow on our very first house. I cannot even believe we have been in this house for a year and I am still amazed at how much the Lord has provided for us in that time. If you want to go back, you can read here about how I was pretty sure we'd never buy a house, even though our offer had been accepted. There was still so much more to go through in order for this beauty (I say that with all sarcasm), was to be ours.

And yet, against all odds, this couple who thought they'd be renters forever, became home owners one year ago.

Obviously I still remember signing the mountain of paperwork. I remember when our realtor dropped off the keys. And I remember using those keys to enter this place for the first time as the proud (or possibly regretful) owners of this house. But seriously, this post will fill you in on the condition of the house when we first bought it.

So just for fun, I thought I'd post some photos of the befores, the in the processes and the afters, of a ton of projects we've done around the house. The work we have put into this place still amazes me. And when I say "we" I really mean Ben. He has become an electrician, a carpenter, a plumber, a mason, an even better gardener and landscaper, and a chicken wrangler, just to name a few.

In one year, so much has happened in this house (aside from all the work we've done). We found out shortly after moving in that I was pregnant with Stella. There was a whole lot of zombie-morning-sickness-Jessi during the move-in process which made things a bit challenging. We celebrated Eli's 1st birthday, his 2nd Christmas and Isaac's 3rd birthday. In June Stella was born, in this house, in our bed. And in the midst of all of that, this house has truly become our home. We've worked hard to make it a comfortable, cozy place in which to make many, many memories.

And without further ado, the pictures!

Floors. One of the major projects we decided to do ourselves (and again, by "we" I mean Ben) was the floors. house before and afters
We had carpet installed before we moved in (the entire house was originally that orange-y laminate you see in the photo on the left). These floors desperately needed replacing.
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A few other things of note in these photos. The kitchen, we've barely touched it. It's one of the last projects on our list (along with blinds in all the windows). We've added new-to-us appliances, replaced the lighting, took down a gross dirty ceiling fan and replaced it with a very awesome light, and put in new floors. But that's all. The plan is to paint the cabinets, add knobs, and replace the counters, sink and faucet. I can't wait to get going on it! I think now that the weather has cooled off we can get going on the cabinet painting.

And here is a look at the hallway as it went through the renovation process:
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The master bedroom door. That's the door at the end of the hallway. This was one of the first projects where Ben had to teach himself how to do something brand new: install a door. He didn't just take one door off the hinges and replace it with another one. He pulled out the door frame and all to replace the entire thing. I'll share more of that project in the next post.

The living room. The first room that we tackled was the living room, for obvious reasons. 
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First we painted, marshmallow white. Then we added carpet, furniture, replaced the window, decorated and added a ceiling fan (and by "added" I mean Ben installed the entire thing, dropped a wire down the wall and added a switch. He got electrocuted- not because of a mistake he made, but because of some very shoddy work done by a previous resident that was highly dangerous and against code- and almost devoured by a giant spider in the attic during the process. My hero). We also decorated the entryway, and you can see more about that here (keep in mind that post was before we replaced the floors).

I'll share the other side of this room in my next post along with the backyard transformation and a few other little projects.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Stella Rae - how she finally got her name

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It's no secret that we had absolutely no idea what we were going to name our little babe while I was pregnant. And truth be told, we didn't actually settle on a name until she was a few days old.

Girl names are difficult for us. We have a mile long list of boy names. We have the next however many boys already named (if God so chooses to bless us with more boys). But with girls, we struggle. Isaac and Eli are obviously biblical and the plan was to have all biblical names.

That didn't happen.

And no offense to any ladies with bible names, we just aren't huge fans of any of the female names in the bible.

When we finally agreed that we weren't going to stick to the bible theme we were able to come up with 5 names. Five. That's it. And honestly, we weren't totally excited about all five. They were just the best we could come up with. How horrible does that sound? I was seriously thinking this little lady would never have a name. She'd just be "baby girl Bridges" for the rest of her life.

Thankfully that didn't happen.

I'm not going to share the names though. I know, I'm such a party-pooper. Sorry.

But it came down to this: Ben and I both picked our favorite of the 5 (obviously we each picked ones that we each had contributed) and we had planned to choose one or the other once she was born.

That didn't happen.

Instead, on either day 2 or 3 we finally had a conversation about needing to decide on a name. And even though Stella was not either of our first choices, in fact it was toward the bottom of our original list of 5, when we looked at her, we saw Stella. The reason the name ended up on our list to begin with is because it was the only female name we had been able to come up with over the past 4 years or so when we talked about having a girl- because, you know, it's always a possibility.

Shortly after she was born I remember thinking to myself, "she really looks like Stella and I didn't want to name her that. I wanted to name her _____ !!" When Ben and I talked about it, turns out he had been thinking the exact same thing.

Isn't that funny?

So it was decided. Stella it was and Stella it would be. And not for any particular reason other than we like the name and it fits her. Stella, from the word stellar, meaning star. (And how funny that when you write her name with the middle initial it's Stella R. That was not intentional.)

Her middle name is my mother's middle name. All of our children have family middle names and we both agreed that Rae just fit so well with Stella. And Rae is Scottish for grace (I'm part Scottish on my mother's side). Perfect. She is, in so many ways, a beautiful picture of God's grace for us. We did not deserve her. And yet here she is. We did not deserve to get such an easy, sweet baby. And yet here she is.

And so there you have it, our sweet sweet Stella Rae.

be blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. 
Philippians 2:15,16

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

response to reader: can I be a Christian and pro-choice?

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God’s handiwork is life abundant. Give thanks that you’re a part of the Almighty’s tapestry, and stand with us to make sure that all of His

About a month ago I received an email from a reader. She was angry with me for being such a hypocrite- how could I possibly believe in parental choice but not "a woman's right to choose"? She was adamant that because I am such a horrible person (my words, not hers. Her words were closer to: "A disgusting, appalling, frightening hypocrite" and "You are a judgmental, narrow-minded, scary, individual." Okay, not close to, those were her exact words), that she knows the Lord would want her to pray for me.

I initially had decided to not respond to her at all. What's the point anyways? She came at me with all the usual liberal, pro-choice rhetoric and I'm sure she's heard all the arguments against those views. I don't have the time these days to argue just for the sake of arguing. 

But then as I thought about it more, I realized there was something more going on with her, something that applies to more than just her and I knew I had to address it publicly. And that's the question:

Can I be a Christian and be pro-choice? 

I am going to assume by the words she used in her email that, let's call her Nancy, is a Christian. At least I think she would consider herself a Christian. And Nancy also makes it abundantly clear that she thinks abortion is perfectly acceptable. From her email:

"You believe in the freedom to make your own decisions... so you clearly value free will and standing up for what YOU believe is right, and yet you are so deluded that you don't see the unbelievable hypocrisy in that you believe that women's rights to choose what to do with their own bodies should not be their own; that the government and your interpretation of what God wants, should be what determines whether a pregnant woman chooses to end her pregnancy or be forced to keep or give birth to a child she does not want and cannot care for... How do you not see what an unbelievable hypocrite you are?"

She's so sweet, right?

Okay, so I'm not so ignorant as to think that Nancy is the only self-professing Christian who has these beliefs. In fact, abortionist Dr. Willie Parker has been in the news a lot lately for claiming to perform abortions because he is a Christian.You can read a very lengthy article here all about him. It's difficult to get through it without vomiting, so just a fair warning.

But back to the question at hand.

The answer is a very simple and plain no.

How can I be so sure and so confident in that answer? The answer to that is scripture, which is the inerrant, perfect word of God. Nancy probably won't like this part of my response and will just brush it off as simply my "interpretation of what God wants" but the truth is what the bible says is true. And if we are going to proclaim to be Christians, sons and daughters of God, we have to believe His words. To deny what is in His word is to deny Him altogether.

Let's begin with when life begins.
If we are going to believe the Bible, then life begins at conception. Not implantation, not when the heart begins to beat 21 days later, not at 8 weeks, not at the end of the first trimester, not when a fetus (I use this term because they try to dehumanize a baby in the womb by using it. But fetus simply means offspring and in this case, the offspring of a human is, you guessed it, a human!) can feel pain, not when a baby is viable outside of the womb, not when the baby takes his or her first breath. Life begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg (conception) and a brand new life begins- one who has never ever existed in the history of the world before that moment and no one exactly like him will ever exist ever again. A unique and new human being.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Psalm 51:5

In other words, I was a person from the moment of conception. Nothing other than human beings can be sinful. No "clump of cells" or "product of conception" can be sinful. So according to scripture, if human beings are sinful and whatever is conceived in the womb is sinful, than what is conceived in the womb must be a human being and that human is human from the moment of conception.

Abortion ends a life.

If life begins at conception, at what point is it valuable? 
From the very beginning. All human life is valuable and loved by God. That means every single person, from the moment they are conceived, has intrinsic value. And not only does each life have value, but every single life has a unique purpose.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

But when God, who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by his grace, was pleased... Galations 1:15

God  creates us with a purpose in mind and He cares about us while we are in the womb And then He personally knits us together (Psalm 139:13). Just think, we, human beings, are the only ones created in God's own image. That make us extremely valuable. Dare I say, more valuable than any animal, plant or other part of creation. 

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Abortion ends the life of a person with value and purpose.

I am a somebody. Don’t forget me. by online4life

Which brings us to: thou shall not murder.
If a fetus in the womb is a human being (which scripture says) with value and a unique purpose (which scripture says), loved and cared for by God, from the moment of conception on (which scripture says), then abortion is murder. It is the deliberate taking of human life. There is no way around it. And if abortion is murder, it is a violation of the 6th commandment. Plain and simple.

Abortion is murder.

How does God feel about the murder of children?
While we're here, with our bibles open, I think it's worth pointing out how God feels about child sacrifice (He has a lot to say about it) since that is exactly what abortion is: child sacrifice at the alter of self. We may not have a name, like Moleck or Ba'al, for the god to which babies are sacrificed in this country and others, but they are sacrificed to a god nonetheless. And such a practice is absolutely horrific.

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuaryand profaned my holy name. If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek. Leviticus 20:1-5

A few other verses that show God's indignation toward child sacrifice are: Leviticus 18:21, 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6, 2 Kings 23:10, Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2-6, 32:35. 

Abortion is child sacrifice, which is detestable to God.

The innocence of an unborn child is irrefutable. Pray today that we stand to protect the innocent in America no matter the cost. by online4life

So, based on all of the scripture we have reviewed, no, Christians cannot be pro-choice. We cannot truly believe Jesus is the Savior, put our trust in Him, say we love Him, call ourselves Christians and then support sin of any kind. Abortion is most definitely sin and as we can see from these verses, it's a huge deal.

Can I be honest here? As I write this I keep thinking, "I shouldn't have to write this. Christians, you should know this! There should be no question!" And yet, the world we live in is so twisted and we are so easily swayed by our emotions and our hearts, oh the wickedness of our own hearts! We let ourselves believe that we can't care for a woman by "forcing her to have a baby she can't afford." How is that loving someone?, they'll say. But that is such a twisted view of the situation. 

How is ending the life of an innocent child, a tiny, helpless baby, love? And how is telling a woman that abortion is her best choice and then taking her money and leaving her with emotional and sometimes physical scars that she'll carry for the rest of her life, love? It's not. That's not love.

Love is serving her and ministering to her and helping her and sharing Jesus with her. Love is caring for her child, in the womb and outside of the womb. Love is providing a way for both her and her baby to survive and thrive

Love is doing exactly what Jesus modeled for us: getting down on your hands and knees to wash her feet. What does that look like in our modern day? It means doing the nitty gritty, the things that no one else wants to do. Give her a place to stay, feed her, clothe her, educate her, provide medical/midwifery care for her, help her to get back on her feet, pray for her and with her. That should be the Christian's reaction to a woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy. Not, encouraging her to seek an abortion by either being silent on it altogether or supporting the pro-choice agenda. 

“Post-abortion trauma is a serious and devastating illness which has no celebrity spokeswoman, no made-for-television movie and no platform for the talk show confessional.” -Theresa Burke of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries A huge segment of our population su

In the end Nancy, it would seem that the hypocrite in this situation is actually you. Because, my dear, claiming to be a Christian and also supporting murder, is incredibly insincere and hypocritical. The Christian is called to love and to hate what is evil (Romans 12:9). The Christian is called to speak for the weak (Proverbs 31:8). The Christian is called to expose the darkness (Ephesians 5:11). The Christian is called to rescue those being led away to death (Proverbs 24:11). Supporting abortion is contrary to every single one of these exhortations. 

If you have abortion in your past.

I cannot stress this enough: there is forgiveness for you. There is grace and mercy enough for you. His blood covers the sin of abortion. Jesus is enough for you. John tells us this,

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

I emphasize all because it's there for a reason. All sin, every single sin, can be forgiven. But you have to confess it, confess your abortion to Him. Cry out for His forgiveness and mercy and He will purify you. He will take that burden you have carried all these years and remove it as far as the east is from the west. He will replace it with hope and healing. Just lay it at His feet. Sweet sister, stop carrying that burden. There is no need.

There are many resources out there for anyone who is seeking healing. Rachel's Vineyard, Ramah International, and Project Rachel are just a few. You can also contact your local Pregnancy Resource Center to see when they offer a post-abortion healing class, as most do. 

And if you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis pregnancy, you are pregnant and considering abortion because you have nowhere to turn and no options, please find a Pregnancy Care Center near you. Educate yourself. Empower yourself. Know your options and know the truth about abortion. And if you need someone to talk to, please contact me. My email is under the "contact" page on the right hand side of this blog. I would be honored to encourage you, pray for you and serve you any way that I can.

All images via Online for Life.