Today, we remember the life of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr.. MLK has been a hero of mine since I first learned about him in Jr. High. The way he changed the world by sharing the truth in love has always inspired me to do the same.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -MLK
Speak Life Collective was developed to train you to engage your loved ones on the topic of abortion in a loving way. MLK is a reminder to us in the Pro-life community that great progress comes from boldly sharing the truth in love
“We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will. And we shall continue to love you.” -MLK
May 25th, 2020, I was shaken, just as most Americans by the video of the murder of George Floyd. I was profoundly disturbed by his murder and trapped in my inability to do anything meaningful to help. It was impossible to say anything right. Those who were standing up to make a difference just seem to leave us further divided. Our nation was not looking for reconciliation, but restitution. Whatever I was going to say, I wanted it to be meaningful and helpful. I knew that adding my voice would just add to the noise. I knew that it was not the time to speak, it was the time to listen.
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” -MLK
The months that followed, I felt called to listen even longer, speak slower, and love better. I wanted to do the hard work to better understand my black brothers and sisters in Christ. I have read books, listened to podcasts, talked to friends, and prayed with self-reflection
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” -MLK
Why am I using Speak Life Collective to share this journey? Because the guiding virtues of Speak Life Collective (truth, love, life, and courage) are intrinsically linked to racial reconciliation. The reality is that abortion is silently devastating the black community. But we can’t expect to be heard unless we are willing to listen. The answers are not easy and the truth is often veiled. I look forward to putting together a well thought out response one day. I am not comfortable sharing the conclusions of my journey because I am still on that journey today. But I would like to share with you some of the resources that have challenged me to grow
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” -MLK
Here are the voices that have been shaping my thinking on racial reconciliation
This book so far is the best book written on racial reconciliation that I have read to date. Benjamin challenges both whites and blacks to reconcile in a thoughtful transparent style. This book was inspired by a poem that Benjamin wrote following the death of Michael Brown. Here is the poem:
I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.
I’M FRUSTRATED because pop culture, music, and movies glorify these types of police-citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from the safety of movie sets and music studios.
I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law-abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.
I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.
I’M SAD because another young life was lost from his family; the racial divide has widened; a community is in shambles; accusations, insensitivity, hurt, and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.
I’M SYMPATHETIC because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self-defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. Or maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to his eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
I’M OFFENDED because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.
I’M CONFUSED because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policemen abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
I’M INTROSPECTIVE because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.
I’M HOPELESS because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
I’M HOPEFUL because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends, and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.
I’M ENCOURAGED because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced, and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot, and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through his son, Jesus, and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the gospel gives mankind hope.
Here are my favorite quotes from the book:
“I’m also angry that this has become about one side or the other winning an argument. Therein lies another hidden attitude toward the race problem. Why is this about winning and losing? Doesn’t anyone else see that we’re all losing?”
“I’m also angry that this has become about one side or the other winning an argument. Therein lies another hidden attitude toward the race problem. Why is this about winning and losing? Doesn’t anyone else see that we’re all losing?”
“At its core, the issue is not about race. It’s about the human heart.”
This documentary chronicles the Eugenics movement in America. It reveals the players on both the right and left. This documentary reveals how black America is still be targeted today behind the cloak of help. This documentary reveals the hidden black genocide that is taking place in America’s abortion clinics.
Here is the summary from their website.
“They were stolen from their homes, locked in chains and taken across an ocean. And for more than 200 years, their blood and sweat would help to build the richest and most powerful nation the world has ever known. But when slavery ended, their welcome was over. America’s wealthy elite had decided it was time for them to disappear and they were not particular about how it might be done. What you are about to see is that the plan these people set in motion 150 years ago is still being carried out today. So don’t think that this is history. It is not. It is happening right here, and it’s happening right now.”
Pastor Matt preaches a personal and powerful message on Racial Reconciliation.
Sean and Ryan discuss practical ways to bring racial reconciliation to our context.
It takes work to understand the suffering of a brother. It takes work to listen longer, speak slower, and love better. It takes work to discern truth in a world consumed by convenient facts. It takes work to love those who have no desire to receive real love. Racial reconciliation takes work, but it’s worth it. One day all the nations, tribes, and tongues will be gathered together before Christ.
We reveal an eternal reality to a morally confused world when we display racial unity in the body of Christ.
Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Satisfaction cannot be found in what you achieve or what you receive but in who you believe.
If you haven't heard yet, actress Michelle Williams recently won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series. The big news was not her award but rather her acceptance speech. She credits her success as an actress to being able to choose to have an abortion. She stated, “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose.”
I want to take a moment explore the implications of her speech and how we have reacted to her speech in the Pro-life community.
This has sparked a diverse reaction from both the Pro-life and Pro-choice camps. What has been most notable to me is to watch the Pro-life reaction. The reactions have been both harsh and gracious. Michelle's speech is an opportunity for us to practice speaking the truth in love.
Equal Rights Institute observing the reactions from the Pro-life movement commented,
"My basic take is that she seems very culpable for promoting abortion to such a wide audience. It was also probably not the smartest move for her given that Ricky Gervais had already reminded everyone in the room that nobody cares about their political opinions. I'm pleasantly surprised that the original NBC video linked below has so many more dislikes than likes. Having said that, her extremism is bringing out the extremism in our camp. A lot of people have said some really hateful things. This is not good."
Abby Johnson also was wrestling with the trade that Michelle made for success. Abby related her award from Planned Parenthood to Michelle's Golden Globe. Abby understands what it means to trade motherhood for "success." She also understands what it means to be loved by the Pro-life community into truth. She wished Ms. Williams the best, "So today, I pray for Michelle Williams. I pray that she one day re-negotiates her trades. And I pray that when she comes to grips with her consequences, if that day comes, that she falls apart right into place. I pray that she finds God in her brokenness and that He makes her whole again."
Abby's and ERI's responses are positive examples of how we should respond in the Pro-life movement. Our response should not be outrage but outreach. When we approach those we disagree with, are we coming at them with condemnation or along side them with compassion?
1. WOMEN DON'T NEED TO SACRIFICE MOTHERHOOD FOR TRUE SUCCESS.
Once again we see another industry asking women to be more like men. The entertainment industry has done more damage to womanhood in our society than any other industry. Women finally found their voice in the #metoo movement but now it's time for the #mothertoo movement. Women should be able to be both a successful individual and a mother in our society. Michelle accepted more than her award, she accepted the status quo of male expectations. We all know that choosing to be a parent is saying "no" to something else in our life. But it doesn't mean that we have to neglect everything else. We can achieve goals while helping our kids reach theirs!
2. SUCCESS DOES NOT SATISFY
This golden globe award represents more than a successful role in her career, it represents a hole in her soul. Michelle (like all of us) was born with a hole in her soul. We all feel it, we all ask the same question: Does what I am doing with my life matter?
It is interesting because many Pro-lifers have pointed out, the very thing that she sacrificed, her child, is the very thing that could have brought her life purpose. I have talked to "unplanned" mothers who have found a life of purpose and meaning with the birth of their child. Being a mother is the most rewarding role that Michelle could have ever chosen.
3. THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN MOTHERHOOD
Would the baby she aborted bring more satisfaction than her golden globe? Of course.
I wonder, would being a mother to the child she aborted be the answer for Michelle to feel satisfied. She is already mother to Matilda (daughter of Heath Ledger) and is pregnant with Hamilton director Thomas Kail's baby. She knows what it means to be a mother, why wasn't it enough?
She knows the joy of motherhood but my best guess (I don't know her personally, this is conjecture), motherhood was not enough.
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind. -Ecclesiastes 1:14
Parenthood will never be enough to satisfy our deepest longings. We need more than a temporal relationship to fill the bottomless pit of our soul. We need Jesus Christ. As individuals we know that awards are flattering, as parents we know parenting can be rewarding but as Christians we know that relationship with Jesus Christ is redeeming. Jesus Christ is the only one that can give us purpose and quench our deepest thirst. Because we have a infinite thirst, we need an infinite God.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” -John 4:13-14
Jesus said these words to a women who had tried five marriages and a domestic partnership to fill the hole she felt in her soul. Jesus knew that if she continued to try to chase temporal relationships to satisfy her, she would always be unfulfilled. Only a relationship with Jesus changes our desires and perspectives!
You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! -Ephesians 2:2-5
Remember, we use to be those who "followed the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature." What Michelle Williams needs from the Pro-life community is not condemnation but hope for her soul. She needs to know that her abortion was wrong but there is forgiveness for her sin. She doesn't need to legitimize her sin by pointing to her accomplishments, she needs to confess her sin to receive his atonement. She needs to know there is a community that will not excuse her sin but welcome her with open arms. If she read the responses on social media from the Pro-life community, would she consider it a safe place?
There is more to life than awards, and yes, even more to life than parenting. Satisfaction=Jesus!
I remember the night my wife told me she was pregnant — part of me was excited but a larger part was in a state of panic. I didn’t tell my new wife this, but to be completely honest, I would have waited much longer before having kids.
It’s not that I didn’t want children, in fact I always have, but the responsibility and the idea of taking care of another human being was overwhelming. Most of that pressure was financial. I just didn’t feel financially ready to be a parent yet. We had both started our first real jobs out of school, which didn’t pay much. We had student loans and a mortgage from the small two bedroom condo we recently bought. We had borrowed money from family and put everything we had into it. To make matters worse, the real estate market was starting to fall and we were upside down in the home’s value already.
So the thought of having a child, and the thought of how much money it would take to raise him plagued my mind. However, we decided that we wanted to build our family no matter how or when it happened. We would need to have faith that we could afford it. This was one of the best decisions we ever made. I’m so thankful we didn’t look for options to remove the financial responsibility. As scared as I was, I knew this child was ours to care for, no matter how small and early in the process — and that is worth more than any amount of money. I also realized that if we waited until we felt “financially ready” we might never feel that way. It turned out that we were even less prepared than I thought. About three months later there were some complications and my wife had to be put on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy — which meant she would be out of work much longer than we expected. Despite all of this we made it through. Taking it one day at a time. we made the best financial decisions we could, trusting that we were investing in our family.
It’s been about twelve years since that exciting and panic stricken night. Now we have three amazing kids and a family that blesses me every day. It hasn’t always been easy, and we’ve had to make many sacrifices, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat! I am extremely glad I didn’t let the fear of money control my decisions. I could not imagine life without my kids. And you know what, we’ve always have enough to eat, a roof over our heads and even extra things we didn’t need. Our culture today is telling us that success and money are the most important things we can have, but this is simply not true. Family is the most valuable thing we have in this life — and our children are gifts from God. Don’t believe the myth that you need to be financially ready. If a baby is on the way, then you’re ready. You will always find a way to support your child and you’ll be glad you did. I would choose a my wife and kids in a small shack, over no kids in a mansion every time.
Maybe you are not in the position to care for yourself, let alone someone else at the time of your child’s conception. Perhaps you are standing there by yourself, rubbing your belly and wondering, how can I do this on my own? Worries flood your mind, like where will we live? How will we get healthcare? How will I afford provisions and clothing for my changing body and my growing baby? And once he is born, how will I maintain a comfortable lifestyle while also providing love and affection for my newborn human being? I understand these fears and the hopelessness that surrounds them, for I once was that young woman standing alone, contemplating those things.
I was in an abusive relationship throughout my first pregnancy. Though the father was present in my life, he was washed up on drugs, leaving me to wonder not only how I would do this on my own, but how I could escape him to begin that journey. To leave him would put me in a helpless financial position and force me to face up to my loved ones that warned me not to marry him in the first place. I had pondered these things during my pregnancy, but once that precious baby was secure in my arms, he gave me the courage needed to swallow my pride and brave the uncertainty of stepping out on my own. He was two months old when I filed for divorce and moved back home with my parents—who accepted us with open arms.
This daring escape was only the beginning of a long, difficult journey. When my dad helped me move out, we had to leave behind many of my personal belongings, including my bed. While my son slept soundly in his cozy crib, I lay restless on the floor, until my grandfather gave me the bed from his guestroom. I didn’t have money for a divorce attorney, but my parents helped me to pay a paralegal to file the paperwork. For the first time since I was eighteen, I could not afford health insurance, so I filed for Medi-Cal to cover our healthcare needs. I also signed up for WIC, which helped me contribute to the pantry at home. The car I drove was soon after stolen from my driveway—with the stroller, car seat, and boppy seat in it. My parents loaned me the money for a used car and I offered to clean their house to a shine once a week for a year to pay it back. Though my parents did not charge me rent, I had basic expenses to cover, and ended up paying my cousin to watch my baby while I worked my part time job—which left me with near to no cash left at the end of a long, exhausting week of work.
Not to mention that during all this, my ex continued to harass me, by phone and in person—only when my dad was not there at my defense. After a few of these frightening encounters ended in violence, I filed for a restraining order against him. Now, my cousin that watched my baby had to carry restraining order papers and keep wide eyes out for the danger of his father showing up, and I had to worry for his safety as I worked to support his survival. No matter how I struggled to supply what my child needed, the joy of watching him growing, learning, and laughing, safe behind the shield I carried, by far outweighed the burden of providing for him and continued to fuel the courage I needed to fight the many fronts of this relentless battlefield.
The divorce took about a year to finalize, and the troubles of getting established continued into the following year. But with the support of my family, friends, and community, I was able to see us through this difficult time, and into the protective arms of my best friend whom I married when my son was two years old. He adopted my son and together we built a loving home where my ex no longer harassed me, I no longer needed government assistance, and my family was no longer depended on for my survival. I understand than not everyone has the family support I had, but while figuring things out I learned that the state as well as many private programs, like pregnancy centers and churches, offer support and encouragement to mothers in need. There are good people out there willing to help you get on your feet.
This difficult time in my life brought out more than just the strength in me but highlighted the good in the world as I had never experienced it before. And the good that God has planted in His garden remains for you to harvest today. The journey will not be easy. You’ll have to be tough—relentlessly. You will get tired and will often cry while your baby cries on your shoulder, but mothers are superheroes, designed by our Creator to provide for the children we create. Fear not the solitude you currently face and seek the light this promising new life shines on the path ahead. In braving that long, difficult road to LIFE, you will find that you are stronger than you ever knew and by letting God in your heart, you will never have to do any of it alone.
If we think we don't have time to be a parent, it's important to consider why. Is our busy-ness based in selfishness? We definitely like to do what we like to do, but interruptions are the things of life and not necessarily to be condemned or avoided. It is just those life-altering, world-shaking things that make us better people in the end, and in the process. The dictionary definition of “success” is “the outcome of an undertaking” and in all honesty there is no greater undertaking than raising a child. In our culture we equate busy-ness with success. This, however, is not always the case. Sometimes much more is gained when we slow down, pause, and remember that life is more than just a busy schedule and to-do list, it's about breathing, resting, serving, living, and speaking into the future through the ears, eyes, and hearts of our children. Let us not discount the success that can be gained in having a family.
We are a deeply selfish culture preoccupied with chasing the things we want; and a helpful way to cure ourselves of this self-centeredness is to have children. As a friend once said to me, “God gives us children so that we will grow up.” True. We learn so much about and improve ourselves when life throws us what we think are interruptions. When we enter the world of parenting, we suddenly and swiftly realize that the world doesn't revolve around us, nor should it. If we strive to be better people, having children and embracing its challenges is a great way to work toward that goal. Sally Clarkson, a mentor of mine, says, “When you find interruptions to the expectations of your life, look at them from God's point of view and understand that they just might be a divine appointment.” There is no doubt in the universe that children fearfully and wonderfully made by God are indeed a divine interruption to our lives for our own, and their, good. We make time for the things that are important to us. Perhaps we need to refresh our perspective of parenting and children as the blessings that these things are.
Having children does indeed change your life. But the great thing about kids is that they can be pretty mobile. Many years ago when I was working on various projects, I stressed out about what to do with my children when I had to work. Some of the best advice a fellow mom shared with me then was “keep them with you,” and so I have. What fun my boys and I have had together, and what unique experiences they have been exposed to as a result! I, for one, like to make my mark on the world, and now I get to make my mark through and with my kids. “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” (William Ross Wallace)
“What a wonderful power [parents] have in their hands!
We may say that we don't have time to be parents, but the truth is that we don't have enough time to be parents. Nor do we have enough time not to be a parent. One of the most rewarding experiences in life is in raising children. Our childbearing and child-raising years are short. And when one thinks about the span of one's life relative to the history of mankind, then we must acknowledge that our time is indeed short. The window that we are given on this earth is, as the Bible says, “like a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) We ought to be actively pursuing parenthood especially if we indeed find that we have something to offer to the world. To take the wisdom and truth we have been entrusted with and to impart it to the next generation ought to be perpetuated.
Always in the repertoire of comedy movies and shows is a skit of the ill prepared dad being handed a baby. He holds it either as if it will break into a thousand pieces, or at arms length, hanging like a garment just sprayed by a skunk. It plays upon the old adage, men have “no idea” how to care for babies. And while it can’t be argued that God gifted women with a spirit of adeptness for child care, both men and women are necessary components within His design to grow children into happy, well adjusted adults. But the old comedy line plays upon an underlying feeling that sits under our skin waiting for the opportunity to reveal itself. When the struggle, or even the thought of struggle, presents itself in the scenario of child rearing, the feeling breaks the surface and we say to ourselves, “A baby? I don’t know how to take care of a child. I have no idea what I’m doing.”
When my children try something new and want to give up before they even start, often the reason is they feel like they don’t know what they are doing. But, when starting something new, who does? Having a baby is no different! It is important to read, study, go to classes, or spend time caring for other’s children, but you will still arrive at the birth of your child feeling ill prepared. Feelings aren’t fact. The truth is, we don’t need to know what we are doing. What we do need to know is the One who will get us through. God’s grace is good and He will walk with us in the journey of caring for our children. As long as He knows what He is doing (and He does) we are in the right place.
I believe this myth can work two ways, some believe that you cannot have a full life while being a parent (See Myth #6: “I will have no life as a parent.”) or my life will not be full without being a parent. We can be easily deceived to believe that a parental status determines our life’s value.
Some people think, “Life is not worth living if I don’t become a parent.” They believe that a magic spell of “purpose” will be cast over them. Although parenting can be extremely meaningful, it does not become the exclusive meaning of your life. Many parents who put all their value into parenting often find themselves completely lost when they become empty nesters. Is this the way it is supposed to be?
The exclusive purpose of life is not to be a parent. The purpose of life is to know Jesus and bring Him glory. You will never be content as a father or mother until you know your Heavenly Father.
Some may reply, “But I am doing God’s work by being a parent.” That is very true but does it consume you to the point of forgetting your primary purpose? We can do so many good works and forget why we are doing them in the first place- to love God.
Revelation 2:2-4 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Parenting is not a “rite of passage.” It is not a box on a checklist waiting to be checked off. Parenting is an opportunity. While you will often find being a parent fulfilling, it’s designed purpose is not to fulfill you, it’s to change you.
Parenting is a daily pouring out of yourself and the only way that you will thrive is by being poured into by your Heavenly Father. If you do not have an inlet, you will rapidly dry up because parenting is a daily pouring out.
Parenting will bring purpose to your life, but it will feel hollow without first finding your primary purpose as a child of God. You cannot be a godly parent without first being a dependent child of God. Let His love fill your heart so you can pour it into your children.
It is thought by many, and our society since the feminist movement believes, that when women have children their lives will consequentially have no meaning, or that they are wasting their lives since they can't pursue a career which our culture has falsely prioritized over having a family.
When my first son was born I fell into a deep depression. Sleepless nights, difficulty nursing, endless monotonous days drove me to tears and deep sadness. I could not beat it. Every day I sat doing laundry, changing diapers, trying to get this new baby to eat, trying to keep up with the house, making meals (which I hate doing anyway)... Barely going outside the four walls of my home. I felt trapped. It just was too much for me. I felt like my life was wasted. And I spent so much of my time in tears. I've often compared that season of my life to the movie Groundhog Day where every day is the same, the same, the same. I could not see the end of such an anonymous and thankless existence. I felt like no one cared about me and that I didn't matter. I believed that my days being a mother were a waste and not a thing to make a difference in the world.
When my little guy was about five months old I knew I didn't want to go through this pregnancy and newborn thing again and so I determined that he would be an only child. The next day I found out I was pregnant with my second son, and I sobbed.
Right about that time a good friend of mine invited me to a weekend conference for moms. I went. And it was a life-changer! This woman gave me permission to “just” be a mom, to find incredible worth and value in it, to find great purpose and calling in the raising up of a small piece of the next generation. Suddenly I walked in intention and duty and passion. It was wholly liberating!
I am a dancer by trade. I studied many years in dance technique, performance, and history. I mastered my craft. I excelled and worked to be the best I could be. Then, I became a leader amongst my peers in my job as I advanced administratively. I also led and directed a dance company for many years. These things gave me much fulfillment and I loved the potential path of a creative career doing what I loved. Marrying, having children, and moving to a remote location altered these things for me. I could not see the same value or any comparable value in just being a mom with little kids. But I was so wrong. I had little hearts and minds and bodies to nurture, to mold, to train, to build purpose and heroism and goodness into. When I finally embraced the call and gift of motherhood I quickly realized what an important work I had before me...even more important than my “career”. People matter. And the little people in our stewardship matter immensely. This is no small occupation. It is an addition to our identity. I am a Christian, and a woman, and a dancer, and a leader, and a wife, and a mom, and... I imagine as the days and months and years tick by more will be added to who I am. Let's choose to embrace the incredibly important role of “parent.” In what other role are we able to be so incredibly influential to others? And I have found that even in the midst of this important work of parenting I've still been able to also pursue passions beyond my home. Some of these passions are the same as before kids, and some are newly ignited because of my kids. Life is not over when we have children; it's more purposeful, selfless, and character-building – things we ought to be chasing after anyway.
“Children are not a distraction from more important work;
What Does our Culture Say About Disability and Abortion?
As I was scrolling through Instagram the other day, I noticed a post that struck my attention. It read in bold, stamp-style print, “Disabled Lives Matter.” This rally cry, borrowed from another political movement, struck a deep chord in me. Amidst all the movements for social justice and inequality, so few are speaking up for some of the most ostracized members of society. Disabled lives are among some of the least protected in our nation, and I’ve been deeply troubled to learn that this injustice is taking place before these members of society even leave the womb.
In the U.S., about 3% of babies born per year, nearly 120,000, are born with some type of disability or birth defect. However, statistics show that an astonishing amount of babies prenatally diagnosed with a disability or birth defect are aborted. Looking at Down syndrome alone, 67% of babies diagnosed during prenatal screening are aborted in the US each year. In many states, a child with a non-life threatening disability can be aborted up to the point of birth, and there are often little to no legal specifications indicating which abnormalities are grounds for termination. That means a fully-developed, viable baby can be aborted at nine months due to an extra toe. When I discovered this, it made my stomach twist and turn-it was the same feeling I got when I first learned about the Holocaust in 9th grade American History. So I dug deeper. I wanted to know, “Do abortion laws really discriminate against those with special needs?” What I found was unnerving.
America isn’t the only country whose reproductive legislation discriminates on the basis of ability. Many abortion laws in Europe are even more extreme. Global studies from the U.S. National Institute of Health found that 63% of babies diagnosed with Spina bifida are aborted, and the rates are even higher for babies with Down syndrome. In fact, in Iceland, the vast majority of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome virtually 100 percent are aborted each year, leading Iceland to be dubbed “The country where Down syndrome is disappearing” (CBS News). To make matters worse, the specifications on which defects or disabilities legally justify abortion are becoming increasingly convoluted. In the UK, for example, a public health organization reported the following: “When there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped there is no legal limit as to when abortion can take place" [emphasis added]. This means a fully developed, viable baby with Down syndrome could be legally aborted at 40 weeks. This type of legal ambiguity has also led numerous babies to be aborted for minor defects. The Telegraph reports that “54 babies with clubbed feet, 37 with cleft palates or lips, and 26 with extra or webbed fingers or toes were aborted in south-west England between 2002 and 2005.” These cases are shocking to say the least. Perhaps some of you reading have even suffered one of these minor imperfections. Sadly, however, the laws that support these cases reflect the moral climate of our society, where if something’s not perfect, we dispose of it. We treat unborn humans like inanimate items purchased at a store-- to be returned and exchanged for something better.“ Is this the kind of society we want to live in?”
Each termination of a child with a disability gives way to the extermination of an entire community of unique people. As Right to Life of Michigan correctly points out , “Newborn children with disabilities are the least protected members of society. Masked under the cloak of compassion, innocent human beings are being killed without their consent because their lives are proclaimed not worth living.” So I ask you to consider, who has the right to deem any person as less worthy of life? I write this article, not to hatefully argue against “the other side” or slander anyone’s beliefs. Rather, my aim is to share with you what is taking place in our world and offer a new perspective-one that I have gained from my time with some extraordinary kids. Kids that would have been considered less worthy of protection in the womb. They have taught me how to see beyond a disability and appreciate every life as uniquely beautiful and worthy of respect. I earnestly hope that by the time you’re done reading this, you will too.
Have you ever gotten to know someone with a special need? Has anyone with a disability ever touched your life in a notable way? If your answer to these questions are no, you were like me before I became a paraprofessional in special education. It was then that I got to know some exceptional kids, who have forever changed my perspective on disabilities. During the last two years I’ve spent in the field, I have worked one-on-one with children with ASD(Autism spectrum disorders), Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy, severe brain defects, and various intellectual disabilities. Day by day, moment by moment, these children have shown me that their worth extends far deeper than a diagnosis.
One of these instances is particularly etched in my memory. It was a sunny Friday morning and my first week working in special ed. Our school was holding a spirited outdoor assembly. Beside me, on one side, sat a stalky 5-year-old boy with Down syndrome. We’ll call him Rico. Next to him, on the opposite side, sat the lead teacher I worked under. It soon became apparent that Rico showed no interest in watching the assembly, and instead found much more delight in playing with my radio and pretending to shout orders. At one point in the assembly, Rico looked up at me with a bubbly grin, took my hand in his, and squeaked my name, “Liiiiiiiinsi.” At the same time, he took the hand of the teacher on his left, said her name in the same animated fashion, and guided our hands together until they touched. He then let out a shamelessly joyful laugh with the widest smile I’d ever seen. We both couldn’t help but immediately laugh along with him. It was in this moment of contagious joy that I first felt like I belonged.
You see, Rico has a unique gift. He brings people together with uninhibited love and effortless joy. Rico, along with all the children in my classroom, have taught me how to overcome my insecurities and be authentically myself. If I wrote every lesson these children have taught me, I’d likely develop carpal tunnel before I’d finish writing. But suffice to say, my life is immeasurably better with these children in it, and the world is brighter because of the sunshine they bring.
Abilities Outshine Disabilities
My experience with the children in my class has taught me firsthand that disability does not justify abortion. And although I believe every life is innately valuable, regardless of personal demographics or level of development, I would like to shed light on the unique benefits of having neurological, chromosomal, and intellectual diversity in society.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 13% of all students in public schools in the U.S. receive special education services. In figures, that’s 6.3 million students that have been given a diagnosis. Discussing the unique benefits of each disability is beyond the scope of this article, so let’s just focus on two: Down syndrome and autism. On one end of the pool, you have children with Down syndrome, whose intellect is slower to develop, but who often thrive in relationships and are exceptionally gifted in the art of love and acceptance. On the other end you have children on the autism spectrum, socially impeded, but often uniquely gifted in areas that require special focus. With a little patience and an open heart, anyone can see that their abilities far outshine their disabilities.
Let’s begin our discussion with Down syndrome, since this disability is being disproportionately targeted for abortion around the globe. Consider the powerful words that a man with Down Syndrome shares on this subject. Actor, special olympian, and personal hero of mine, Frank Stephens, had this to say to congress:
“First, we are a medical gift to society, a blueprint for medical research into cancer, Alzheimers, and immune system disorders. Second, we are an unusually powerful source of happiness: a Harvard-based study has discovered that people with Down Syndrome, as well as their parents and siblings, are happier than society at large. Surely happiness is worth something? Finally, we are the canary in the eugenics coal mine. We are giving the world a chance to think about the ethics of choosing which humans get a chance at life. So we are helping defeat cancer and Alzheimers and we make the world a happier place. Is there really no place for us in the world?”
A world without Down syndrome would be a world robbed of so much of its joy, patience, and open-mindedness. In an age where depression rates are skyrocketing and our country is deeply divided, our society needs more of what these individuals have to offer.
Next, consider autism. Although ASD cannot be prenatally identified at this time, researchers are currently working on technology that could do so. A reporter for BBC points out that if this technology were a reality, it would inevitably lead to many of these pregnancies being terminated. This would be a great loss to the world, especially considering that autistic minds have brought us some of history’s most revolutionizing discoveries and inventions. In fact, behavioral experts at Cambridge and Oxford claim that Albert Einstein, Sir Issac Newton, and Michael Angelo all showed compelling signs of autism. Renowned author, Ellen Notbohm describes her experience with having autism by stating;
“I work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I’m not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don’t lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won’t be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.”
As Notbohm unapologetically points out, neurodiversity is a gift to the world. Through remarkable minds like hers, we have learned that autism offers a unique neurological lens that allows individuals to focus in on, examine, and discover things unseen by other perspectives. If we were to abort every atypically developing child, we would lose many beautiful and genetically diverse minds.
Can We Choose Who is Worthy of Life?
Although I could fill a book with all the priceless gifts that disabled individuals offer society, I would like to go a step further and whole-heartedly propose that their value transcends beyond what they have to offer society.
As explained above, the children in my class have taught me first hand that every life is innately valuable. I attribute worth to their lives for the same reason I attribute value to anyone, at any age, with any level of development, and living in any environment-because a human’s worth is not based on age, level of development, or environment. The value of every human life is found in the intrinsic and God-endowed nature of simply being human. The Bible tells us that life is a gift of God, which He breathed into us; and because we were created in His image, our value is innate. (Genesis 2:7) This is where I find my definition of human value. It is how I know that no child in my class is an iota less worthy of love, care, and human dignity than a normally developing child two classrooms down.
Intelligence, appearance, and normalcy do not equal value. In addition to the biblical argument to support this point, there are philosophical reasons to uphold the equal value of individuals with disabilities as well. In fact, to deny the innate human value of disabled lives is to descend down an ethical slippery slope and land in a realm of moral uncertainty. If you place restrictions on human value, what is there to keep others from discriminating against you? To demonstrate this point, consider the words of Abraham Lincoln regarding whites supposed “intellectual superiority” as a justification for slavery:
“You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet with an intellect superior to your own.”
By Lincoln’s logic, any time you attempt to rank human value on specific qualities, like intellect, you open the door for discrimination of all kinds. Therefore, if an unborn baby is less valuable because of a disability, does that also mean that a person living with a disability is less valuable that someone without a disability? Is a blind person less valuable than a seeing person? Is a person in a wheelchair less valuable that a person who walks? Imagine if society took a quality of yours, a quality you were born with, and decided you were less valuable because of it. Imagine, for instance, that we lived in a society where babies that would be left-handed, could now be aborted at any point in pregnancy, simply because of this one quality. Anyone who is left-handed would naturally feel degraded and personally attacked by this type of society. Tragically, this is a harsh reality for individuals in the special needs community. Can we justify ranking human value?
No other place, apart from the womb, is it acceptable to devalue a life based on level of development or ability. Why is it okay to discriminate inside the womb, and not outside? This goes to show that, intellect or ability does not equal human value. Therefore, justifying abortion on these grounds is simply discrimination.
Where Do We Go from Here?
If you’ve gotten this far, you may be wondering how you can effect change in this area. The good news is, the answer isn’t midnight rants on social media or sarcastic bumper stickers. Positive change happens when we change the stereotype, one relationship at a time. We need to welcome relationships with individuals who are different from us. If you have the opportunity to get to know someone with special needs, take it. And when you do, remember to treat disabled individuals just like you would any other human beings. If we as a society view the special needs community as equals and treat them this way, our reproductive laws will reflect this. We need to reach out, support, and accept special needs families and expectant mothers. Many pregnancy care clinics provide resources for mothers expecting a child with special needs, and we can support these organizations. By embracing and supporting the special needs community, we will construct a new cultural landscape where disabled lives are valued and celebrated both outside and inside the womb.
Even where freedom may be limited, one is always free to choose the kind of parent they want to be. Choose to be a good one! Thankfully my mother was a woman who made every sacrifice she could to take care of my sister and me. On the other hand my dad was absent, only around at his own convenience, and in the end a narcissist willing to throw aside his children in exchange for his own impulses. Sadly most people do approach parenthood with what they may have caught from their own parents in a kind of 'throw out the bad - keep the good - make up the rest' attitude. We do not have to be in bondage to this way of thinking nor are we destined to perpetuate the mistakes of our own parents. Break the mold! It's been said that “we are not a product of our circumstances; we are a product of our decisions” (Stephen Covey) and “it doesn't matter what happens to you; it matters what you do with what happens to you.” (Regina Brett) We have so much say in the kind of people we want to be, and in the kind of parents we want to be. In a pro-choice world, one of the choices we ought to be making is to discover and live according to truth and love and joy and life, and to be the kind of parent who imparts these virtues to our children. Parenthood is saturated with possibilities. More than in almost any other realm, parenting allows us to be wholly intentional and purposeful. Reject the negatives of your own upbringing, and embrace the freedom to be the kind of life-giving parent you can be!
When I got married at 19, I was blessed to carry very little baggage with me into our new life. But, if I was going to receive the gift of fatherhood in this new life, there was a piece of baggage I would need to leave behind. Embarrassingly, as hard as this is to admit, knowing that I couldn’t choose the gender of my child kept me from choosing to have children for a couple years. I carried around this lie with me- “I am not capable of raising a girl.” Why did I have this ridiculous baggage, and where did I pick it up?
Did I believe that girls were not worthy or less valuable as many cultures believe today?
Did I believe that my daughter would be too fragile for me to handle? Did I believe that I wouldn’t be able to relate to her as a man? What was the driving force behind my fear? The precious nature of a daughter.
I already had a deep love for my hypothetical daughter, and that terrified me. I didn’t want to see her get hurt, fail, or break my heart. I knew that she would leave me defenseless because she would hold the keys to my heart. My biggest fear wasn’t that she would be too fragile to handle me. My biggest fear was that my deep love for her would make me too fragile for her. My biggest fear was grounded in selfishness. Like I said, embarrassing.
Did this fear ever go away before we chose to have kids? It didn’t, but I chose to trust God, knowing that if He would bring a little girl into my life, He knew better than me. Ever since the day that the doctor told us, “You’re having a girl,” my heart has belonged to my precious baby girl. Am I more vulnerable because she is in my life? Yes, but what I have learned in the past 10 years as a dad to both a girl and a boy, is that the gender of your child does not make you immune to heartbreak. When you open your heart, home, and life to children you are vulnerable. As one friend told me, “If your heart doesn’t break as a parent, then you are doing it wrong.” Children make you vulnerable because they are valuable. Your deep love for them makes you an easy target. Children bring heartache, but they also bring great joy. Children are unexpected gifts in unexpected ways!
Today people in the world are obsessed with gender. Should certain genders be allowed to live? Can I choose my gender? Can we use human gene editing to create customized offspring? Which gender is stronger? Does gender mean anything? Why is one gender marginalized? We are not going to answer these questions today but before we go any further, can we please make the choice to celebrate the unique beauty of each gender. I believe we should be champions of celebrating the Creator’s diversity in His Creation. I am so embarrassed by the fear and misconceptions I had about raising a daughter.
I could spend all day explaining to you all the ways she has changed my life for the better. Her femininity has breathed fresh air into our home. From the day she was born, she has been a comforter. She feels deeply about everything and for everyone. She loves to express herself through color, dance, song, hugs, kisses, dresses, and art to name a few. She has brought so much joy to our life! My creative daughter is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received from my infinitely Creative Father!
I am so thankful that I didn’t get to choose much about my children. It still amazes me that we got to name them! If the doctor would have handed me a quiz with two columns to customize my children: mom or dad, they would have had mom’s eyes, nose, ears, hair, personality….actually, they would have been carbon copies of her. But if I had had the choice to choose who they were going to be, then they wouldn’t be who they are today. That would have been a tragedy because I really love who my kids are! My kids are such unique individuals who hold an unbelievably special spot in their my heart. I am so humbled to be their dad! I did not get to choose my kids, but I am eternally grateful that I was chosen to be their dad. Thank you Jesus for your abundant grace in my fears! Reader, you can’t know what your future holds, but you can know the one who holds your future. Trust that He knows better than you do!
Did you get a chance to watch the democratic debates last week? Before we wade in the waters of political theater, we want to remind you that at the Speak Life Collective, our primary objectives are to protect life, share love, and know the truth with courage. In fact, we were reluctant to write this article, knowing it could possibly cause division or brand us with a partisan position, but when life is on the line speaking truth in love is necessary.
We understand, when someone brings an objection to our political party, candidate, worldview, or personal hero, we can be quick to close our eyes and cover our ears. At those times, we might prefer ignorance over embarrassment or conflict. But we think it is important to slow down and be willing to ask these questions: Is it true, and does the person sharing this truth love me?
While we at Speak Life have no political affiliation, we are against the position of Pro-abortion, and unfortunately, the Democratic Party has proven to be the unapologetic champions of abortion.
The DNC official party platform states, “We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured...We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.” 1
In light of the Democratic Party’s position on abortion, we want to consider these four questions: What is the role of government?, Is the Democratic Party our enemy?, What is the Democratic Party’s position?, and lastly, What should be our response?
LIFE: What is the role of government?
In the book of Romans. Paul reminds us not to take justice into our own hands because God is the one who will avenge the wrong done to us. (Romans 12:19) But Paul also says there is another authority that God has given- A sword to execute justice, human government.
Paul writes, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:1,4)*
*see Pastor Steve Mellor's Message on Romans 13
What is the role of government according to the Word of God? To punish evil and to protect the lives of the innocent. According to the Word of God, God has given His authority to human government to bear the sword which protects and avenges the innocent. Government’s role is to affirm God given rights, not to grant them, especially the right to life. Scott Klusendorf writes, “For example, you have a natural right not to be harmed without justification as well as a natural right not to be convicted of a crime without a fair trial. Government does not grant these basic rights. Rather, government’s role is to protect them.” 2
Have you ever considered the difference between murder and killing? Killing is to cause the death of a person, animal or living thing. What is murder? It is intentional killing of a human without proper justification. As Scott Klusendorf has said, “Our view is that it’s always wrong to take human life without proper justification, and we believe that elective abortion does just that.” 2 Can you think of adequate justification for killing an innocent human life in the womb? (See our response to “Justified Abortion” here.)
The logic of the Pro-life position can be expressed in a simple syllogism:
As Greg Koukl states, “Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human being, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human being, no justification for abortion is adequate.” 4
Supporting abortion is to support the murder of precious unborn persons. If you disagree with this statement, we would encourage you to take the time to investigate the grim realities of abortion and explore our responses to common objections.
When we vote for candidates that support abortion, we are allowing genocide to continue unchecked. For decades, voters have been able to claim ignorance because of the political word-play (choice) and the lack of scientific knowledge.
Consider what we have learned about the fetus from sonograms:
As William Wilburforce said in his famous Abolition Speech, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
We understand the temptation to want to protect our heroes. When a pastor that we follow has fallen, or our candidate that we voted for has been caught cheating, we want to believe that it’s not true. We desire these unfortunate truths to be false so badly. We so long for perfect community, that we are willing to overlook our communities’ faults. When we plead ignorance while our community is wrong, we are not just complacent, we are complicit. Because, belief should be based on truth, not preference.
Do you believe that innocent life should be protected? Does your vote reflect that?
LOVE: Is the Democratic Party our enemy?
Doesn’t it feel good when a political rival has been caught for some personal failing? There is a temptation to exploit personalities and personal failings, and make things personal. It’s a simple task to point out a person’s failings instead of doing the hard work to expose errant positions. We laugh at the political cartoon and ridiculous politician’s blunders, but the Bible is very clear, we are not to attack people; we are to attack positions.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “ We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”
When we engage in the political process, we should engage with truth. We should come against false arguments that hold people prisoner to evil thinking. As we talked about in our video, They Are Not Your Enemy, “Those faces of the culture of death are not soldiers but slaves to the enemy. They have bought into his trap and are held hostage by the devil’s lies.” (see 2 Timothy 2:24-26) We should be careful not to kill the captive while attempting to liberate them from the strongholds of false arguments.
Is the Democratic Party our enemy? No, they are our fellow Americans who have bought into a lie. It is our job to love them so abundantly that they are willing to hear the truth. We must lovingly come alongside them and shine the light of truth on their path. And even if you consider them your enemy, what does the Bible say about loving our enemies? (see Matthew 5:44)
Truth: What is the Democratic Party’s position?
We demolish strongholds, not the straw man, knowing the truth will always be more convincing than attacking people based on personality. We have briefly looked at the Democratic Party Platform on “reproductive rights.” But let’s take a moment to look at the top Democratic Candidates’ positions on Abortion. These are direct quotes from their campaign websites or their own words from debates.
Vice President Joe Biden
Senator Bernie Sanders
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Kamala Harris
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Senator Cory Booker
Representative Beto O'Rourke
*The Hyde Admendment is a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape. The Hyde Amendment is not actually a law; it’s a rider added to an appropriations bill (a bill proposing where certain federal funds will go for the year) for the department of Health and Human Services. It was first introduced by Illinois Representative Henry Hyde in 1976, just 3 years after the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, and it has been renewed every year since. (Learn more at: Majority of Americans support Hyde Amendment)
COURAGE: What should be our response?
Do not make the attack personal, attack the position with your personal story. People can deny your “opinion,” but they can’t deny your personal story. The more people who share their abortion experiences, journeys as single parents, battles through pregnancy, and more, the more people will not be able to deny the truth.
Yes, it is scary to speak up. But when you weigh your fear against the millions of lives lost to abortion, the cost is too great to say nothing.
When William Wilberforce gave his address to the House of Commons, he publicly declared his fears, but those fears were relieved by the reality of his cause. He wrote:
When I consider the magnitude of the subject which I am to bring before the House—a subject, in which the interests, not of this country, nor of Europe alone, but of the whole world, and of posterity, are involved: and when I think, at the same time, on the weakness of the advocate who has undertaken this great cause—when these reflections press upon my mind, it is impossible for me not to feel both terrified and concerned at my own inadequacy to such a task. But when I reflect, however, on the encouragement which I have had, through the whole course of a long and laborious examination of this question, and how much candour I have experienced, and how conviction has increased within my own mind, in proportion as I have advanced in my labours;—when I reflect, especially, that however averse any gentleman may now be, yet we shall all be of one opinion in the end;—when I turn myself to these thoughts, I take courage—I determine to forget all my other fears, and I march forward with a firmer step in the full assurance that my cause will bear me out, and that I shall be able to justify upon the clearest principles, every resolution in my hand, the avowed end of which is, the total abolition of the slave trade. 5
If we want to be on the right side of history, we need to hold our fellow Americans accountable for their vote. We need to educate them on the unseen genocide that occurs daily in our country. But if we want to reach their hearts, we need to love them more now than ever. May they never be able to say, “No one told me,” or, “They didn’t love me.” As the world gets darker, may we shine ever brighter.
2 Klusendorf, Scott. The Case for Life (p. 29). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
3, 4 https://www.str.org/articles/only-one-question#.XUNpbFClDOQ
5 From ‘Debate on Mr. Wilberforce’s Resolutions respecting the Slave Trade’ in William Cobbett, The Parliamentary History of England. From the Norman Conquest in 1066 to the year 1803, 36 vols (London: T. Curson Hansard, 1806-1820), 28 (1789-91), cols 42-68. http://www.brycchancarey.com/abolition/wilberforce2.htm
MYTH #9: My Child Must be Planned.
My first child was not planned. At the time of his conception, I was twenty-three-years-old, unmarried and living with his biological father (Something my mother had advised against). We got married because of the pregnancy, which only thickened the tension lying heavy in our home, fraught with domestic violence. My then husband was addicted to crystal methamphetamine and I was the brunt of his drug-induced mood swings. I tolerated his abuse throughout the pregnancy, hoping it would improve, but my fearful doubts left me feeling hopeless and alone.
Many times I cried to myself, wondering how I ended up in this impossible trap? How could I escape when I didn’t have a steady job to support us, I would lose my health insurance if I left, and the car I drove was in my husband’s name? Nonetheless, the magical seed of life within me was steadily sprouting and it was my responsibility to provide him a healthy place to bloom. While some might have seen the baby as the bane of the trap, bonding me to this miserable marriage, I saw him as the reason to strive for something better. My obligation to protect him invoked my strength in the shadow, and every move he made in my womb flickered of hope and light—motivating me to free us from the cage my poor choices landed us in.
My son was two months old when I finally made my great escape. The path that led us away from that dark and dangerous home was rough and uncertain, but I trod it boldly with my baby in my arms—hardly taking the time to consider the pain I suffered along the way. My son needed shelter, so I built it—no matter how weary I was. He needed food, so I provided it—no matter how I starved. He needed love, so I gave it—no matter my own heartbreak. I gave my all so he would never know the pain I deflected for him.
Two years later, I married my best friend. He adopted my son, (Dating advice: never underestimate the friend zone), and we later planned a pregnancy that added a baby girl to our wonderfully loving family. Now that I have done it both ways, I can surely attest that planning a family is a healthier choice for everyone involved, however, it does not differentiate the value of each child’s life. My son was not made from solid love, was not born into a stable home, did not fit into my plans, created financial unrest, and was thrown into my arms at the most emotionally unstable time of my life. Nothing about his beginning was perfect, but he is perfect to me.
My first pregnancy was unplanned, but the light that boys shines on this world is stunning proof that good people can be born from bad relationships. My ability to overcome adversity proves that strength can be harnessed in fearful circumstances, and courage can conquer unlikely odds. No matter how strategic your planning, unexpected winds are bound to blow; it is not so much about the difficulties you face, but how you face them. And the best things in life are worth fighting for, life being the most valuable treasure of all—planned or not. Life is always worth it.
Myth #10: "The only worthwhile child is a healthy child.”
Have you ever met a parent whose child has gone through an illness, health crisis, or lives with chronic illness or disability? In learning about their life, have you ever heard them say something like, “If I had known how much my child’s health issues would affect my life, I would have chosen not to have them.”? Of course not! Yes, we can all appreciate, the struggle is real! But there is no perfectly healthy child. And any inconvenience their health issues cause us always pale in comparison to the love we feel for them. We all know, our bodies are imperfect. Sooner or later, some sort of health issue will befall all of us.
Our babies and children are not worth less because they happen to suffer through health crises early in their lives. All our kids, no matter their health issues, are valuable. Value is not ascribed to human beings depending on whether their existence inconveniences us or not. They are valuable because they are precious and made in God’s image.
A few years ago I changed my email address to afraidandbrave. I have continually found myself in places where I had no choice but to speak – even when I really didn't want to. Many friends have walked alongside me in the beginnings of my pilgrimage through fear and discomfort, and obedience. They've seen me struggle, fret, and cry through my fear. They've also seen my stubborn determination to do what I believe God has asked me to do rather than choose a comfortable – and stagnant – existence.
And Esther said, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
And Moses stuttered. (Ex. 4:10-13) And God speaks. And God moves.
Beloved, “do not be afraid. Keep on speaking. Do not be silent.” (Acts 18:9)
When I was twelve years old I was chosen to give a speech before God and everybody at my sixth grade graduation. The day came. So did the butterflies. I walked up to the podium, speech in hand, looked out into the crowd, and had an all-out meltdown. My beloved teacher came alongside me, put her arm around me, and I started reading one word after the next until I finally made it to the bottom of the page.
I have always been afraid to speak. And I still am. But someone recently told me, “Butterflies are God's reminder that apart from Him we can do nothing.” (John 15:5) We need Him, and I will cling to His presence.
You'd think as a professional dancer who has taken to the stage thousands of times, I wouldn't be so horrified to open my mouth. But I am. Why?
Maybe it's because I worry about my shaky voice. Or maybe it's because I may look like a fool. Maybe someone will criticize me or hate me or hurt me. Maybe I was afraid I'd lose my job. It happens, right? The bottom line is that I can't care too much about these things because if I do then that means I value my own comfort more than the truth and more than saving the lives of innocent people, more than protecting women from the deep emotional wound that abortion leaves. It means I love myself more than others. And I must love others.
A few years ago Planned Parenthood decided to target a nearby minority community. Planned Parenthood kills approximately 350,000 innocent babies every year. They lie to women about the ease of abortion. They collect their money and send them out the back door. They harvest and sell baby parts. They cover for sex traffickers. Planned Parenthood is no small foe. A memorable line from the recent movie, Unplanned, says: “Congratulations. You've just made an enemy of one of the most powerful organizations on the planet.” They have the very gates of hell backing them up. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus came that we might have life and that abundantly. It is plain as day where abortion comes from. This is a battle fought on our knees AND on our feet. And with our voices. So the fight was on. I spoke (trembling) in front of a hospital board of directors to plead with them to deny support to Planned Parenthood. Later I found myself face-to-face with the staff of Senator Barbara Boxer's office over the issue that babies feel pain in the womb. Radio personalities, churches, charities, pro-life groups have asked me to speak of my own devastating abortion story. A few months ago I testified terrifyingly before the Texas Senate to ask them to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood/abortion.
Every time it is scary. But it gets a little easier each time also. So press on, dear one! Be brave! Be bold! We can not be silent while the greatest massacre in all of history rages. We were made for such a time as this! (Esther 4:14)
“Open your mouth for the speechless; In the cause of all who are appointed to die.” (Proverbs 31:8) This is not a suggestion; this is God's directive.
Love. Obedience. Bravery.
These three are the same in this way:
And now anytime someone asks me to speak about my abortion or abortion in general, I say yes. Every time. Revelation 12:11 says that we will overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and not loving our lives to death. Overcoming the devil and every one of his evil schemes, none of the least of which is the blight on human existence that is abortion, is something we must do. So I will speak and I will do my best to ignore my fear and “not love my life so much as to shrink from death” even if that death is my self-centered fear of social banishment, rejection, or looking like a fool.
Is it true? Then, say it...with grace and love.
The testimony of the Word is that the unborn are fearfully and wonderfully made; that even before they are born God ordains their purpose. Say it. (Ps. 139:13-16; Jer.1:5)
The testimony of science is that human life exists at the earliest stages of development, and that babies feel pain as early as 20 weeks. They have their own unique DNA. Say it.
The testimony of women is that they suffer post-traumatic stress as a result of their abortions. Say it.
When you speak up about a thing that others are afraid to speak about, you actually inspire them to speak also. Courage breeds more courage. It is contagious. Get after it, friend.
Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this.”
Does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not He who guards you life know it?
Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?
Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.
God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
Truth is on the side of life. Abortion is indefensible. What is your platform? What is your sphere of influence? Take to social media. Talk to your family and friends. Have this conversation. It is a matter of life and death.