Wednesday, August 19, 2015

a simple hashtag can actually aid in bringing an end to abortion

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By now you should know what is going on with Planned Parenthood and the scandal they have found themselves in. Today, a seventh undercover video was released by the Center for Medical Progress and the videos are just more damning with each release. If you haven't watched the new video, or any of them, please take the time to watch. This issue is far too important to brush off as just another partisan attack. We are talking about real people who are really being killed and their body parts really being sold for profit. 

And we need to keep in mind that whenever abortion is in the national news (even just a little), whenever we are having a public discussion on the topic, it's good for the pro-life cause. There is always a segment of the population that is determining their opinion and stance on a myriad of issues, abortion being a major one. That segment is the younger generation: the jr. high and high school kids, the college students and some young adults.

True, some of them may have already decided where they stand and true, there are some grown adults who will be affected by this conversation and change their mind from pro-choice to pro-life, but for the most part we should keep in mind that there are young men and women trying to decide today where they stand on the issue of life and abortion. 

Maybe a college freshman has decided she's personally pro-life but she wouldn't dare tell someone else what to do. The discussion about Planned Parenthood, the brutality of abortion that is on display in these undercover videos, it has the potential to change her mind. 

The high school boy who always kept his mouth shut about abortion because everyone told him that "it's a woman's issue, you have no say" may be persuaded to speak up about the unborn as a result of this discussion. 

The young lady who has abortion in her past and has held tight to the "my body, my choice" mantra in an effort to justify her decision may finally have the courage to admit she regrets her abortion and wants to help other moms make a better choice. 

And then there's your average student who doesn't know a whole lot about abortion, but now is forced to look at it, contemplate it and decide. I was that student in the early 2000's, during the partial-birth abortion debate. Abortion was a national topic and many of us were, for the first time, forced to decide where we stood on the issue. It was that discussion, in which the brutality and reality of abortion was in the open for all to see, that caused so many of my generation to choose the side of life

And I believe that this current discussion, the one we're being forced to have once again about the brutality of abortion and the treatment of human beings much smaller and far helpless than we, is going to shape the opinions and beliefs of the generation behind us. And they are going to side with life.

There is no question in my mind.

And here's why I say all of this. Here's why it is a good thing when abortion is a national discussion: because truth is on the side of life. When the truth about abortion is revealed, you can't deny that it's heinous and brutal and horrible and tragic. When the truth about life in the womb is revealed, you can't deny that a human being, a new person, a tiny baby, is forming and that baby deserves respect and dignity and protection.

So when we consider who will be most affected by this discussion we have to understand some things about this young generation. First, as Joe Carter has discussed already, they have grown up with the technology of the window into the womb. These young people are very aware of what a developing baby in the womb looks like because ultrasound pictures are continuously posted on Facebook and Instagram. Chances are many of them have seen one of their own brother or sister.

And that brings me to my second point. Where do they spend their time? How will we most effectively reach them? The answer to that should be obvious: social media.

I sometimes catch myself thinking, "is a hashtag really going to make a difference in the effort to save babies' lives?" The answer surprisingly is, it actually can. And here's why. This young generation, they live on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter (and others I'm sure I'm leaving out because I'm too old to understand what is hip). But the point is, they are witnessing this discussion online. They are having this discussion online. Their opinions are being formed online.

So we need to be online.

We have a great opportunity to shape the discussion around abortion right now using hashtags and photos, tweets and blog posts, statuses and comments. We have the chance to change minds and help others form their opinions. 

This chance only comes around once in a while. It happened with the partial-birth abortion legislation. It happened in 2013 during the Gosnell trial and the legislative session in Texas. And it's happening again with the release of these undercover videos. 

Many have done an excellent job of seeing the opportunity and running with it. I want this post to serve as encouragement to keep going. To not sit down and to not shut up. Let's keep the discussion in the spotlight, but especially on social media because that is where the fluid and forming opinions about abortion can be reached and affected and changed for the cause of life.

Because that decision to side with life, it could be the young girl who didn't want to tell someone else what to do, but found out her friend was pregnant and encouraged her to carry and place for adoption. That decision could be the young high school boy who decided it was important to speak out after all and ended up founding a pro-life organization that reaches out to hurting moms considering abortion. That decision could be the post-abortive mother who decided it was worth it speak up for life and started ministering to other women who are hurting from a past decision to abort. And that decision could be your average kid, who decided that life is precious and valuable and is sure to vote with that always in the forefront of his mind during every election now that he's an adult.

The individual people we reach, the single decisions each person makes on this issue, they matter. That's how we end abortion in this country: one heart at a time. And we can reach them with a simple hashtag, a photo posted on IG or a status or video share on Facebook. I hope we are willing to do something so simple for the sake of this next generation and for the sake of these babies.

One final note: I don't think we can end abortion by just posting online. Action needs to be taken. And first and foremost we must be praying and pleading with the Lord for the slaughter to end. But once we say amen, we must stand up to do something. Have a conversation, call a representative, write a letter, volunteer at a Pregnancy Resource Center, counsel outside of an abortion clinic, organize a rally outside of a Planned Parenthood, run for elected office and work to bring pro-life legislation to the floor, start an organization that serves mothers considering abortion, adopt, share your story and the list is endless. But the point is do something. Social media should be a simple stepping stone, a place to begin the discussion and to get people motivated. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

an obituary for ab405

Ab405- Parental Notification for a minor seeking abortion- died 12:00 am, June 2, 2015 in the Nevada Legislature, Carson City, NV.

Ab405 was ill-fated from day one, or so we were told. It was predestined to never receive a fair hearing or a vote. It was supposed to die in committee during the first month of the legislative session. It was never supposed to make it through one chamber, let alone to the other chamber. It was to be downgraded to a "study" and forgotten about altogether.

But it didn't die. It keep moving. And we didn't forget about it. We were bound and determined to not let our representatives in Carson City forget about it either.

Apparently no one has time for important issues like parental rights and protecting children from predators, profiteers and dare I say it, their own bad decisions. Or even if there is time, at least we aren't supposed to care.

But people did care. And they still do.

But truth be told, we all know that Governor Sandoval had Ab405's number from the very beginning. Rumor had it that he made clear to legislators that no controversial bills were to make their way to his desk. Not one. And if there's one single lesson to be learned from the 2015 legislative session, it's that Sandoval gets what Sandoval wants. Even if that means Republicans backstabbing their constituents by voting for a tax increase that nearly all opposed as a ballot measure last year.

The largest tax increase in Nevada history.

But we're here to remember Ab405. It's incredible life and it's tragic death.

We were told on numerous ocassions that Ab405 was in fact dead. It wasn't, obviously, but legislators and the media hoped we would hear the sad news, mourn for a moment, forget about it and move along. I mean, how many times did we read the headline "Parental Notification Bill Not Expected to Pass"? But as I'm sure those same legislators soon came to discover, attempts to silence us only made us stronger and more determined.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen is to be praised and commended for taking on our cause as his own. He is responsible, along with a few other Assembly members, for seeing this bill through. (Thank you Ira!!) He took it into his own committee while it was in the Assembly, giving it that first hearing it was never supposed to have. It sailed through the vote there and quickly moved to the floor of the Assembly. Once on the floor, it passed, 24-17, without any problem.

And then it fell into the hands of Senator Ben Kieckhefer. Oh that poor, poor bill. It had no idea what was coming. What a disappointment it must have been, having just flown through the Assembly, thinking everything was finally right in the world. Ab405 must have been so optimistic at that point, seeing as it was put in the hands of a Republican and in a committee with a Republican majority, and on the road to a Senate with a Republican majority. After all, the GOP is supposed to be conservative. Right? Right?? But Ab405, and all of it's supporters, quickly learned that such assumptions can not be trusted. Something I read recently about politicians and taxes (but that I think we can substitute abortion in for taxes) comes to mind:

you can trust a Democrat to do what he says on taxes [and abortion] and you can trust a Republican to stab you in the back

Ab405 must have felt so betrayed. I know many of us did.

Senator Kieckhefer resolved to kill the bill once and for all by not allowing it a vote in the Finance Committee. But wouldntcha know it? After just a little bit of persuasion, in the form of thousands upon thousands of phone calls, emails, letters, an old fashioned thing we call a post card campaign, and a visit from several dozen parents, Kieckhefer changed his tune. Suddenly he wasn't concerned about the phantom fiscal note that depending on the day or the weather, Planned Parenthood claimed to be $2 million, or was it $5 million? Numbers are hard. I get it. 2 and 5 do look a lot alike... I'm not sure if they ever did figure that out.

But all of a sudden he stated that "it did not have a fiscal impact."

And poof, just like that, Ab405 was once again resurrected.

Senator Kieckhefer rereferred the bill to the Health and Human Services Committee, where it probably should have been referred to to begin with. Committee Chair, Senator Joe Hardy, graciously scheduled a hearing for it, on a holiday of all days: Monday, May 25, Memorial Day. But that didn't stop supporters. Nothing was going to stop them. They flew up to Carson City from Las Vegas and some attended down south at the Grant Sawyer Building. The rooms were packed. So much so that 2 overflow rooms were filled to the brim at the Legislative Building in Carson. To say that there was ample support for the measure would be a severe understatement.

The hearing was too short. So short that Chairman Hardy had to keep cutting the time he was allotting for testimony. I get it, he wanted to be sure plenty of people had the change to speak, but seriously, with THAT much support, he should have made the time. This was obviously important. But apparently only to the constituents because a majority of the HHS Committee didn't even attend their own meeting, to include, you guessed it! Senator Ben Kieckhefer. That guy must be a hide and seek champion!

The hearing wrapped up in the early evening and we were all told later that the measure would be voted on when Senator Hardy was assured he had the votes in the Senate for it to pass.

And immediately we all knew what that meant: there would be no vote without severe pressure. He was working with others to protect the Senators who didn't want to go on record as to whether they stand for parents and children or predators and profiteers, big abortion. And who can blame them!? If I were a pro-abortion "Republican" I wouldn't want my constituents to know! That's bad for business. Keep it a secret.

No vote means no record means no accountability.

For the next several days, supporters of Ab405 continued to call and email and tweet and send letters. Some delivered letters by hand. We weren't going to give up without a fight, something we were well accustomed to at this point. We also contacted the governor several times to ask that he use his position to get this measure a vote.

And that was all we were asking for: A VOTE. It's a simple request isn't it? Our message was: you asked for our vote during elections now we're asking for you to vote. (And if you could vote yes, that'd be awesome too, especially since you claim to be a Republican).

But alas, nothing came of our requests to the governor. And who can be surprised, considering his relationship with one of the top Planned Parenthood lobbyists in Nevada. I still haven't received an answer to my question, by the way.

In the end, it was a long and arduous battle. Ab405 fought hard and we fought hard along side of it, but it was out-schemed from the beginning. We had the numbers, we had the support, we had common sense, constitutionality, ration and popular opinion on our side. But when it all came down to it, none of that mattered. What mattered was politics, positions, records and keeping controversy at bay.

The Review Journal published an article after the end of session recounting the winners and losers of the 2015 legislative session. As a result of the passing of Ab405, there are several winners and losers the article failed to mention. I'd like to add them here.

Predators and sex traffickers who use secret abortions to cover up their crimes.
Big abortion who prey on young, scared pregnant teenagers who in a moment of crisis will make quick, rash decisions to try and "correct" their mistake or cover it up. Abortionists are happy to cash in on such an opportunity.

Parents who don't have the state on their side, in support of their efforts to parent their child the best they can by knowing all the information.
Children who are victims of pedophiles, predators and sex traffickers. Children who are victims of the abortion industry. Children who have a hard time dealing with the difficulties that come with being post-abortive, with always having to carry that pain.
The voters, who when they cast their vote for a Republican, assumed they were voting for a conservative who held their same values, who cared about the rights of parents and for children. Some of whom out-rightly claim to be pro-life and yet were silent when pro-life legislation made it's way to them.

And so, when the clock struck midnight on that late Monday evening, it was all over. Ab405 died quietly in the night. No vote was ever cast in the Senate. It wasn't defeated, it was simply left to die. And at the hands of those who claim to be on the side of parents and life. But if I had to come to a conclusion based on what happened to Ab405 over the course of 120 days in the Nevada Legislature, it would be that too many legislators are, in fact, not on the side of parents and children and life. And if that is the case, then who's side are they on?

Ab405, you will not be forgotten. You will be remembered. We will carry your memory with us wherever we go, but particularly into the next campaign season as we decide who's campaign to contribute to and we will carry your memory into the voting booth as we cast our ballots.

Friday, May 29, 2015

my question for Governor Brian Sandoval

Relationships can tell us a lot about a person. They give us clues into where a person's loyalty lies and what is truly important to the individual.

This is especially true in the world of politics.

I remembered hearing last election cycle that Governor Sandoval had endorsed a Planned Parenthood employee in a race in northern Nevada. I remembered being incredibly disappointed. But that's all I remembered.

And then last night this memory resurfaced and I decided to look into it a bit more. After all, the biggest opposition to the parental notification bill, AB405, is in fact Planned Parenthood.

The moment I began to search online for Governor Brian Sandoval's endorsement of a Planned Parenthood employee, an extremely familiar name popped up and with it, an extremely familiar connection.

The person Governor Sandoval endorsed in the Reno City Council race in 2014 was Elisa Cafferata.

Elisa Cafferata is the current President and CEO of Nevada Advocates of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. She is a Nevada lobbyist for Planned Parenthood. That was her position in 2014 when Governor Sandoval endorsed her and that is her current position today.

Cafferata basically represents the opposition to AB405. She was the first person to testify at the hearing on Monday, May 25 in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. It is her organization that has flooded facebook and twitter with all sorts of opposition to the bill. It is her organization that is soliciting for donations to mobilize activists to make phone calls and appear at the legislature. It is her organization that is hell-bent on killing AB405.

It is Elisa Cafferata and Nevada Advocates of Planned Parenthood Affiliates who is spear-heading the opposition to AB405.

How incredibly interesting that she was endorsed by the Governor of this state who, in 2013, campaigned in support of parental notification laws.

And now, all of a sudden, he's become quite silent on the issue. The only statement he's made regarding AB405 is that he would consider it if it gets to his desk. And based on the evidence, it would seem members of his party are trying their hardest to keep this bill from even getting a vote, let alone passing and making it's way to his desk.

One has to wonder, what is the relationship here? The connections cannot be denied and the people deserve to know: is Planned Parenthood influencing the very legislators who ran on conservative pro-life values? When we elect politicians into office who say they are Republicans and who claim to be conservative, we expect them to vote that way (I am speaking of course of the GOP Senators. We all know that Sandoval has never claimed to be pro-life; only that he did support parental notification). We will not tolerate when those same politicians bow to big abortion and sacrifice the good of the people for their own political gain. We will remember come next election cycle.

My question to you Governor Sandoval is this: has your relationship with Elisa Cafferata impacted your stance on AB405 and subsequently the actions of the senators in your party who have resolved to kill this bill?

Once, you stood with parents and you supported our rights, specifically our right to be notified. Once, you stood with the overwhelming majority of Americans who support parental involvement when a minor seeks an abortion. But as of late, it seems as if your loyalty no longer remains with the parents and the vast majority of voters in this state. From where I stand, it's looking as though your loyalties may be with the extreme position on this measure.

Which is it? The people deserve to know what is going on behind closed doors.

Monday, May 11, 2015

God cares about generations yet to come

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
  that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
 so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments Psalm 78:5-7

A few days ago I sat down and read Psalm 78. It took about 2 minutes before it became my favorite Psalm. It's just that good. It's a description of God's relationship with His people over the course of the Old Testament. It shows their faults and His faithfulness. It reveals without any question His care and concern and passion for the generations, His care for His people- those here now, those who walked before us and those who are yet to come.

This particular passage above, verses 5-7, really struck me. As I read those few lines of scripture, I recognized something right away: God is explaining to us how much he cares for the generations. Why did he establish a testimony with Jacob? Why did He appoint a law in Israel? Why did he command the fathers to teacher their children? Why do these things? Why?

For the sake of the next generation! In verse 6 the Psalmist answers clearly, "That the next generation might know." He is speaking here of those who are yet to come. Those yet born. Those unborn. As it says in verse 6, "the children yet unborn." He has done all of these things for their sake, that they might know Him and obey Him and glorify Him and set their hope in Him.

Now, one a subtle point that is made in these verses that we cannot overlook is that a generation is made up individual people. It begins with the child unborn. He grows into a child who is taught by his father. And then he, himself, becomes a father. That is the progression presented in this passage and it is also what we observe and experience in real life.


So in light of this piece of scripture and in light of the knowledge of God's concern for future generations and in light of the fact that a generation is made up of individual people, we must consider something we may not want to consider: abortion. How does abortion affect the generations?

Obviously there is great debate over the morality of abortion between Christians and non-Christians, but sadly there is debate within the church as well. I want to suggest another reason why God abhors abortion:

Let's assume for argument's sake (only momentarily of course) that abortion is acceptable.

It's acceptable for one woman to abort her unborn child.

It then would be acceptable for 10 women to abort their unborn children.

It then would be acceptable for thousands and millions of women to abort their unborn children.

It then would be acceptable for every single woman who becomes pregnant to abort her child.

What would this leave us with? No new children born. Not one. 

Which ultimately means no new generations. No "next generation" as verse 6 says.

If abortion is acceptable for one, it must be acceptable for all. But if it is not acceptable for all, it is not acceptable for even one. And for that reason, along with a myriad of others, abortion is unacceptable. 

Because even one single abortion dismantles an entire generation. 

One single abortion renders an entire generation incomplete. 

What I find almost as disheartening as a mother willing to take the life of her own child, is that Satan recognizes this about abortion and we are blind to it. He uses it to his advantage and we are oblivious. We are an incomplete generation! We are working for the glory of God and for the kingdom's sake but not at full capacity. We are lacking workers! We are lacking brothers and sisters and cousins and nieces and nephews and friends and daughters and sons. 

We are lacking children of God.

And that should break our hearts. We should care about that. We should mourn over that. We should work to change that sad and startling fact.

Because we are an incomplete generation. And God cares about the generations. He cares about our generation and He cares about the generations to come. He cares for the born and the unborn. Every single life is precious and valuable to Him. And every single life matters and has a place in his or her generation. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

one parent's concern about mandating an STI vaccine

I'll be honest, the vaccine debate makes me nervous.

My husband and I, we have our stance on vaccinations. We've discussed them for hours and hours and hours and hours. We've sifted through article after article, read tons of vaccine inserts, Googled all.the.things, and read peer reviewed studies on Friday nights (because I'm that kind of nerd). We've talked about them with multiple health care professionals, all with different opinions and backgrounds. We've prayed about our decisions, sought Godly wisdom and searched scripture.

But I'm not here to discuss our conclusions. The debate has become too hateful and heated to jump into that side of the pool.

I am, however, going to dip my toe into one area that I feel strongly needs to be nipped in the butt.

Like now.

There is a bill that has been recently introduced into the Nevada legislature. It would mandate the HPV vaccine for any and all children who attend a public school, charter school or private school (or daycare. Technically the CDC schedule doesn't recommend the HPV vaccine until age 9 and so theoretically this wouldn't apply to daycare. I don't understand, though, why this vaccine is even mentioned in Section 3 of the bill which applies only to child care. But maybe that's just the cynic in me thinking there could be more to that? Either way, it's weird and something I felt needed to be noted).

If you've watched TV in Nevada in the past few weeks you may or may not have seen a recent commercial for a new catchy campaign called "HPV Free Nevada."

Channel 8 ran an irresponsible story on it (more on why I call it that momentarily), which is how I first came to know about HPV Free NV. I was immediately concerned that the news story didn't include any rebuttal from parents or doctors. Not a single concern was presented from the other side of the coin. But obviously concern exists, considering that nationally, HPV vaccination rates in 2013 were only 37.6%. In Nevada the number is closer to 27%. Could that be a reason why we are considering mandated vaccination? Merck has to earn the money they invested in this back some how. (Sorry, the cynic in me slipped out again. I'll do my best to keep her quiet).

But the name of this new campaign is itself misleading. Even if we vaccinate every single person in Nevada with Gardasil or Cervarix, it would be impossible for the state to be "HPV free."

Which leads me to the first reason why this parent has concerns, actually is alarmed, about mandating a vaccine for HPV:

Gardasil only protects against 4 of the 150+ strains of HPV and Cervavix only protects against two. Now it's true that those 4 strains are the ones that most commonly lead to cases of cervical cancer (70% of the time), but that still leaves 30% of strains not included in these vaccines. And even when they release Gardasil 9, which is on it's way, it will still leave out 10% of the strains that can cause cervical cancers.

To claim that, "once they're (kids) vaccinated, they won't ever have to worry about HPV" as Channel 8 prints in their story, without rebuttal, is dangerous. It will lead to parents vaccinating under a false sense of security. It will lead to sexually active kids living under a false sense of security. A security that one can never be guaranteed. It must also be noted that the man interviewed in this story was referring not to the new vaccine (Gardasil 9), but to the one currently distributed, which covers only 4 types of HPV.

Mandating these vaccines will not lead to an "HPV free" Nevada, or any state for that matter.

But my concerns run far deeper.

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These are fairly new vaccines and the long term repercussions and effects are unknown. Gardasil was licensed in 2006. That is less than 10 years ago. To be honest, at this point in time, there are so many other vaccines not required for school in Nevada that I think much better arguments could be made for. But considering that the HPV vaccine is for a sexually transmitted disease, is it surprising to consider that parents are concerned about the long-term effects it could potentially have on their daughters', and now sons', reproduction?

Again I refer to the Channel 8 report where they quote the executive director of Immunize Nevada who said, "I think parents need to know that vaccinating your kids is safe. It's effective, it's studied, it's researched." As with the previous statement, no rebuttal. No counter information. No mention of the tens of thousands of VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) reports made to include 12,305 ER visits and 220 deaths. Keep in mind that those numbers are with only 37% of the population being vaccinated. Imagine what will happen when it becomes mandated and [close to] 100% of the population is vaccinated. The numbers will go up, no question. 

In fact, Japan withdrew their recommendation for the vaccine in 2013 after thousands of reports of adverse side effects.

Safe? I wouldn't call that safe. And even though there are plenty of children who have not had adverse reactions to the vaccine, I still wouldn't call it safe. We cannot make blanket, one-size-fits-all statements like that when they aren't entirely true. Which again, is why I think it's irresponsible to publish a report that doesn't include all the numbers and address the concerns. 

But back to the concern over long-term side effects. Heidi Parker, executive director of Immunize Nevada, claims this vaccine has been studied and researched (see quote above). It has. Obviously. But has it been studied thoroughly enough? Is 48 months long enough to determine that it is absolutely, without a doubt, no-reason-to-worry, safe? That's basically what she's telling parents. But many parents don't think so. Can we just stop and talk about that for a moment before this legislation is pushed through?

According to the National Vaccine Information Center, "Merck’s Gardasil vaccine was studied for less than two years in about 1,200 children under age 16 before it became the first licensed HPV vaccine in the U.S." Did you catch that? Only 1200 children under 16 were studied and those children were studied for less than 2 years. That's out of 18,000 individuals. And here we are, talking about requiring 9, 10, 11, and 12 year olds to be vaccinated with this? The majority of those tested in these studies were over the age of 16.

So again I ask, how can we say it's absolutely, no-reason-to-worry, safe, especially for individuals under 16? There were so few of them tested!

Now that we've addressed the concern over who was tested during the study, I think it's also worth noting that since the study was a mere 48 months long, Merck doesn't know definitively how long the vaccine is effective for. No longitudinal studies have been performed. Some suggest 4 years, others suggest 6. For the sake of this argument, let's go with a median guess of 5 years.

So let's flesh that out:

I vaccinate my daughter at age 9 because it's recommended that she be fully protected before sexual activity begins (all this because the government assumes that my daughter will be sexually active at a young age. Isn't that nice of them to protect her because they think I can't or won't or will just be oblivious? That's basically what they are saying by attempting to mandate this vaccine). This is because once sex begins, if she catches any of the 4 HPV strains contained in the vaccine, the vaccine will no longer protect her from the cervical cancer that stems from that strain (this may be obvious, but I figured it should be noted). Now, if the vaccine is only affective for 5(ish) years, I better be darn sure I'm taking her back in right at age 14 to be vaccinated again. And then 19. And then 24. And then 29. And so on and so forth.

But wait, what if I forget and it lapses a few months. Because let's be honest, I'm pretty sure 99.9% of people don't get boosters when they're supposed to. Especially adults. She could catch it in between!

Or wait, what if it wears off at 4.5 years because, who can really know! Now she's really exposed.

All that to say, some parents are a little hesitant about jumping all in on this notion that a shot can be everyone's savior when it comes to protecting against a disease that is linked only to certain behaviors. My desire is not to get into a debate about sex education, but if we're going to be completely honest, the only way we can guarantee that someone will not contract HPV is if he and she remain abstinent until marriage (oh boy do I sound old fashioned!). Relying on a shot to do that will only lead to disappointment and confusion.

Which brings me to my final point (at least for now). How is it logical to require immunization against a sexually transmitted disease in order for my child to attend school? I'll answer: it's not. I understand the argument for vaccinating against communicable diseases, airborn diseases, viruses and bacteria that my children can easily spread or contract through the air, touching a doorknob or sharing a straw. I cannot understand the argument in this instance. My child isn't going to school to have sex (although I guess if we head down that rabbit hole, in just a few years, sadly HPV may very well be an easily caught disease at school. But that's an entirely different conversation for another time). My kid is, however, breathing air, sharing lunch, hugging friends and interacting closely with other children. So defend vaccines against communicable diseases, but not for STIs.

Frankly, it is none of the teacher's, school's, school district's or the state's business whether or not my child has or has not been immunized for an STD.

That is none of their business and it should remain none of their business.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

violence against women is not okay, but the movies tell me otherwise

50shades post

These days I seem to be frequently disappointed, appalled and confused by our culture. All at once.

I rarely watch the Grammy's. In fact it's probably been several years since I've tuned in. But this year, my husband and I watched it. I'm still not entirely sure why.

In the midst of an evening filled with rock music worship and debauchery, something in particular caught my attention. It was the testimony given by Brooke Axtell about an abusive relationship that she had been in. She gave a short account of her experience and then pleaded with the ladies watching, that if any of them are in similar situations, to please speak up and get help, get out, to instead seek the love they deserve. You can read the full transcript here. It's short and concise.

I had actually just walked out of the room (mostly because President Obama had come on my screen and I wasn't in the mood to hear what he had to say) but as I began to hear her speak it piqued my interest. The specific line that caught my attention was:

"After a year of passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me. I believed he was lashing out because he was in pain, and needed help."

As I listened further, I suddenly began asking myself if she was giving a description of the wildly popular book and getting-ready-to-be-released-movie- 50 Shades of Grey. (You can read why I chose not to read the book and also why I won't see the movie here).

And I in no way mean that to insult Brooke or anyone who has been in an abusive relationship.

I mean it to insult our crooked and warped and confused culture. I mean it to insult Hollywood.

I mean it to say, what are we doing? We've started campaign after campaign in an effort to end domestic violence and sexual assault and abuse. We seem to fervently care about the well-being of women, as we should. Football players have been suspended for hitting their wives and children. The President is making appearances on pop-award shows. Artists are writing songs and making commercials. Hashtags have been created and are being promoted. All in the name of ending violence against women. 

And yet, on Friday, February 13 (Valentine's Day weekend), millions of people will spend millions of dollars in support of a movie about a man who abuses a woman.

That literally is (spoiler alert!) the plot line of 50 Shades, if we are being honest.

And we see nothing wrong with this?!

Which is why I ask, what are we doing?? Are we so blind as to not see the inconsistency here? The schizophrenia of it all?

Did you know that in 2013, a social scientist did a study of 50 Shades of Grey using the CDC's standards of emotional abuse and sexual violence? And guess what she found: "The study found that nearly every interaction between Ana and Christian was emotionally abusive in nature, including stalking, intimidation, and isolation."

You mean to tell me that in the midst of multiple nation-wide campaigns meant to end domestic abuse, to bring awareness to assaults on college campuses (which include many many many cases of "date rape"), to encourage women to get out of violent relationships, we are at the same time encouraging women to go and spend their money on a movie that promotes those exact things?

I guess I keep asking questions because I have no idea how to actually give any answers to them.

I'm not sure that there is a logical explanation to all of this except to say this is the result of a culture that has no moral foundation, no grounding in truth. This is what happens when man is left to himself to determine what is good and what is wrong. We cannot decide!

"It's awful to hurt a women."

"But if it feels good then do it."

"But wait, don't do that, it's wrong!"

"But she said she doesn't mind so it's okay."

"But really she's being abused so it's not okay."

But now, I'm just thoroughly confused because none of it makes any sense. None at all.

{I also need to stop right here to note that this encouragement isn't just coming from books and movies, it's happening in real life at Planned Parenthood. In conversations with teenagers, counselors encourage them to engage in BDSM, abusive relationships.}

But back to Brooke's testimony. She went on to say:

"I believed my compassion could restore him and our relationship... What bound me to him was my desire to heal him."

And again I was reminded of 50 Shades. Now, like I said, I haven't actually read the book but I do know that Ana desires to "heal" Christian. And I know that is all too often the case in abusive relationships. But we should not be encouraging women to stay with their abuser in an attempt to heal or restore them. We shouldn't be encouraging that in any way, shape or form. We should, instead of writing, reading, promoting and watching a story that ends with the abuser healed by the abused, be encouraging women to get help and we should be talking about what love truly is, just as Brooke pleads:

"Authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silence, shame, or abuse. If you are in a relationship with someone who does not honor or respect you, I want you to know that you are worthy of love."

In 50 Shades, she stays by her man, her abuser, and he ends up healed. It ends happily ever after. It all ends up okay.

But that is nothing like what happens in real life.

In reality, women and children die. Or they end up emotionally and physically battered and scarred. They carry that with them their entire lives.

They don't heal, restore or fix the man (as if it's that simple) and live happily ever after.

50 Shades of Grey glorifies and glamorizes abusive relationships, plain and simple. It treats violence as completely acceptable fantasy. In fact, it encourages such behavior by ending "happily ever after." And yet real women are living through real abuse. Real women are experiencing real violence and mistreatment. Real women are afraid and don't know where to turn. Real women are in danger every single day.

What are we telling these women when we devour these books, when we spend by the millions to purchase movie tickets for such a movie?

I can't even begin to reconcile how inconsistent and disingenuous it is for our culture to condemn sexual assault and domestic violence all the while promoting abuse. As if because it's fantasy or fiction instead of real life it's a-ok. As if there is no connection between what we read and see and think about, and what we actually physically take part in. I'm appalled. And confused. And disappointed.

I assure you, what we read and spend our money on matters. If we truly cared about ending violence and abuse against women, we would shut these books and stay home from the movies this weekend. We would refuse to spend a single dime in support of our culture's schizophrenia. And we would encourage women to seek help and we would talk about what love really is.

Love is patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;[

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,

but rejoices with the truth.

Love bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things.
 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Thursday, January 29, 2015

dear Lord, make me brave // a post where I share all my big giant scary dreams

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I got in the shower after a long and exhausting week. I closed my eyes and began to pray, "Dear Lord, make me brave." That's it. That was my prayer. That is what came out without even thinking. That is what had been buried in my heart and needed to be said.

Because that is precisely what I need right now.

I need the Lord to make me brave. Because on my own, let's face it, I'm a coward. I'm scared. I'm afraid.

But in Christ, I am brave. He makes me brave.

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

Me? I'm a dreamer. A big dreamer. I can dream big and I can scheme big. Give me 10 minutes in the shower and I come out with 15 new ideas (just ask Ben who, every time I text him with a new idea he asks, "did you just take a shower?"). But that's just how I am. Sometimes my ideas and dreams are just fleeting thoughts and nothing will come of them. They aren't from the Lord and so they aren't worth the time and energy.

But some of my dreams, they are the ones that I know without a doubt that God has placed on my heart and continues to whisper into my life, "I made you to do this." Those are the dreams that no matter what I do, no matter what corner I turn, no matter how much I put on top of them, they always resurface. Little things (or big things) happen that serve to confirm that He is truly calling me to pursue these things.

And yet, I'm still so easily frozen. The ideas are there. The dreams are vivid and alive. I know what needs to be done. I can even make really precise lists of the next steps. But it's actually taking those steps where I fall flat. I know nothing is going to happen unless I step out, step by step, little by little, and pursue the things He has called me to. But I need the courage to take those steps.

Besides, I don't want my children to grow up seeing a mother who is too afraid to actually trust the sovereign God she teaches them about day in and day out. I want them to watch me and see my life as a living example of what it means to actually believe God, to actually trust that He is in control, to put aside fear and live instead in His strength. I want to be an example of what it means to be brave.

Not because I have it within myself to be brave. We addressed that already and I assure you, it's not in there. I've looked.

But because I serve a God, we serve a God who makes us brave; Who has given us a Spirit of power (2 Tim 1:7), a Spirit who allows us to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:7). A Spirit who enables us to take heart (or as the ESV puts it, we can let our hearts take courage).

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24

Ultimately it's not about me or anything I do. The last thing I want is for my children to see me do scary things and say, "My mommy is great. My mommy does great things." No, instead I want them to see me do scary things and say, "My mommy does great things for God because she trusts Him. She believes in Him. And we have seen His power through her and through the things that she has done for Him."

Now, I want to be brave (obviously, I just wrote a whole post about it) but I also don't think that means I have to do everything right here, right now. Do I want to? Sure do! Is that reasonable? Sure ain't. I have small children in my home to attend to. I have a husband to care for. I have a home to keep. There are a lot of people who depend on me for a lot of things right now. That is the season God has placed me in. Which means, some of my dreams are going to take some time. Some of my dreams are going to have to wait for another season altogether. Some of my dreams may have to be sacrificed so that I can focus on what is important right now.

And that kinda, sorta hurts. Because besides being scared, I'm also selfish.

But I think waiting is another aspect of being brave. It's a part of obedience. It means trusting God that He's placed me in a specific season right now even though He's also placed other things on my heart. It means trusting that He, not I, knows the full, finished, complete plan.

{I think back to that time when God had etched into my heart "mother" and yet year after year, miscarriage after miscarriage, I would wonder how it was all going to fit together. I didn't know. But He certainly did.}

God knows. I don't. But I'm going to be brave and obedient and trust Him to lead me.

Because you know what, sometimes God says "do this" and then He says, "but it's going to take some time" or "first I need to prepare you." And it's o.k. I bring this up because I think it's easy to look around and see others doing really big things and we start to wonder why something isn't happening right now for us too. Or we wonder if maybe we're pursuing the wrong things. And maybe that's true. But also, maybe it's not. Maybe the timing isn't right now for that thing. Maybe the timing is when God says. Maybe the timing is later, next month, next year, or in the next season of life.

Wait for the Lordbe strongand let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 (emphasis mine)

So this is where the coward in me says I should just end this post. But instead of listening to that, I'm going to share my big giant scary dreams right here and right now. I'm going to say my dreams out loud (or write them on a blog which is basically the equivalent, right?). Do I think that is the magic key to seeing them happen? Nope. I'm just hoping that maybe this will encourage even one person to step out and pursue the scary things that God is calling him or her to. (I was recently encouraged by something a friend said to be more vocal about my dreams and so here it goes!)

*start a monthly/weekly/regular podcast that features brave moms who are doing hard things to make a big difference (specifically in the areas of injustice and serving other people)

*launch a crafting event held in different parts of the country, hosted by different bloggers that will raise money to benefit local pregnancy resource centers and in turn save the lives of babies and serve hurting mothers

*open a pregnancy resource center here in Las Vegas that would also offer birth support and services (midwives, doulas) and maybe even a birth center, adoption services, prenatal care, lactation assistance, material assistance, education and a myriad of other services. Basically this facility would serve the whole woman and her family

*write a book for Christian mothers-in-waiting about childbirth in light of the gospel. It's basically the book I searched for during 3 of my pregnancies but could never find. It is meant to encourage mothers to leave all of their sin and the burdens holding them down at the feet of Jesus and rely solely on the Spirit for the power and courage to labor obediently in bringing their precious children into the world

*connect churches and specifically the Evangelical community to pro-life ministry in the Las Vegas valley. I desire with my whole heart to see the church speak up about the injustice of abortion and then to actually do something about it, whether that means sidewalk counseling outside of an abortion clinic, opening up their home to a young pregnant mom with no place to go, saying yes to adoption and fostering or simply committing to fasting multiple times a year and pleading with God to end the slaughter of innocent babes. If the church would stand up and say "no more" with their prayers, their words and their actions, it will end.

And so there you have it. Some big dreams, some semi-big dreams. I pray often that God would make it plain to me the things that He is building and is calling me to join in on. And these are the things that continue to show. I said before that my word for the year is obedience. He's not calling me to do all the work. He is doing the work (and I've seen it time and time again). He's simply calling me to obey Him and follow Him; do the things He says to do. He'll do the heavy lifting, put the right people in the right place, prepare hearts, lay the foundations. My job is to listen, hear, obey, repeat. And be brave.

Lord, make me brave.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

you were intimately designed and created for a purpose

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

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Let’s talk about knitting, shall we? I’m not a knitter but I sorta, kinda understand the basics of what goes into such a process. I know it takes time and patience. It is a process after all. It doesn't complete itself. Work and forethought are required. Before you even begin to knit you’ll need to decide what you’re making- a blanket, a sweater, socks? Or even if you're just knitting to knit, you have to first decide to do that!

And then you'll need to decide on yarn- how thick, what color, what material. You should also have an idea of the color scheme and pattern you will be using. Will you alternate stripes? Will you do blocks of random colors? Will your sweater be all one color or will the sleeves and collar be a contrasting color? You’ll also need to determine your method: English? Continental? (add any other types of stitches here, because these are the only 2 I've heard of. also, are they called stitches? what are they called?)

Lots of forethought. Lots of planning.

And then you begin the actual work. After the planning is complete and the work begins, it takes precious time. Each stitch is important and will contribute to the work as a whole. Each stitch is intentional. It’s an intimate process in which you use your hands. You understand and know your work intimately. You know every single stitch.

The point I’m making is this: you don’t just start knitting without any idea of what you’re making or what yarn you’re using or how you desire for it to turn out. You have all of this in mind from the beginning and throughout the process (even if any of those things change in the midst of the knitting project). You are intentional. You have a purpose in mind from the very beginning and that purpose drives every decision you make, every stitch you make, everything you do in the process of creating the beautiful thing that you are creating.

And that’s precisely what it’s like with God and us.

When He knits us together in our mother’s womb, He is intimately creating and making us with a purpose in mind. He has an end-goal and so He makes us in a very specific and individual way- in a way that is specific to the purpose He has for each and every one of us.

He has a purpose for you and so He made you one way.

He has a purpose for me and so He made me this way.

Ephesians 2:10 says it like this: “For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Handiwork, as in, made by hand. You are a creation, a product, a work of His hand. And He made you with good works in mind. You were intentional. He knew what He had for you to do on this earth and so He made you in a way that would allow you to do those very things and do them well. He prepared those works in advance and then He made you specifically to do those very things.

This is why human beings are so valuable, from the moment of conception on. Each is made by God and each has a distinct purpose.

In Galations, Paul makes a similar statement about himself, but we can also apply it to ourselves. He says, “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace…” The statement Paul is making is similar to the one we read in Ephesians. We are set apart in the womb. This is to mean that He ordains us for a specific purpose, work,or office, while we are in the womb being knit together. While God is making us, He is also determining what we will be called to do.

And actually, Jeremiah tells us that God has a purpose in mind before we are ever made.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart Jeremiah 1:5

Now, we could argue until the cows come home whether or not that verse was just for Jeremiah or if it applies to all of us, but considering what we read in the rest of scripture, I think it’s safe to say that God does the same for every single person. We certainly won’t all be set apart as prophets, but we will be set apart for some distinct purpose.

This purpose, however, will not be entirely fulfilled unless we become a child of God, committed to Him and His kingdom. After all, not only did He create us for a specific purpose, He creates us for His specific purpose. Ultimately we are made for His glory, not our own.

The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. -Matthew Henry

Now, we each have a set of skills specific to our purpose- the purpose that God determined. And we can certainly use those skills apart from God. I think that is quite obvious. But, in order for us to see those skills used for their ultimate intended purpose, we must know Jesus. It is only by the Holy Spirit living and working through us that our abilities, skills and talents will be used effectively and thoroughly and completely in the purpose and work ordained for us by God, for God.

I love the footnote in the ESV bible for Psalm 139:14. It says, "I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" with the footnote: "I am fearfully set apart." It's just like Paul says in Galations and just like Jeremiah says in the Old Testament. God doesn't just make you. He sets you apart. He ordains you with a purpose. You were designed with a purpose in mind. You weren't just made to be made. You didn't just happen. He didn't make you and then say, "oh no! What is she going to do with her life? I hope she figures something out!"

Friend, you are intentional. You are no accident. God took time and effort and intention and purpose and love and heart and created you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. And not only that, He purposefully placed you in this specific time and in your geographical location (Acts 17:26). You have been set apart. You have a role to play, works to do, a job specific to you. You have a purpose in God's kingdom.

But, if you are going to fill that role and be used fully for His purpose, you must know Him and live fully for Him.

He has called you through His grace. What will your answer be?