Monday, August 23, 2010

I Will Carry You

I've been reading several blogs along a theme, the links of which are below. While the theme may seem morbid, it is in fact one of the most hope-full, encouraging, and Resurection-looking topics I have explored lately. That theme is mothers finding out they are pregnant with fatally ill babies, and choosing to allow God to act as the Giver and Taker of life that He Is by continuing on with their pregnancies. They do this while praying for miraculous healing, knowing that God can do all things at any time. Terminating a pregnancy-- killing their sick child-- would leave no room for God to act as Taker of life on His timetable, nor Healer and Sustainer as He chooses. It's also amazingly hard to do, like embracing a burning brand. Their stories testify in no uncertain terms that they've found it worth it. Please read, and worship.

My post's title has a double meaning, which mesh and overlap:  it's something each of these faithful, inspiringly sacrificial parents said to their physically "defective" children, as in, "I will carry you (pregnancy-wise) to full term, and treasure and celebrate every moment of your life, no matter how few seconds we get. Every kick in the womb, every ultasound photo, is an affirmation of your God-given, precious, on-purpose life."

They had the courage, selflessness, and strength to do that, to say that, because they believed with all their hearts that GOD was sovereignly, kindly, gently carrying them.

Briar  (a friend of a friend--this blog is still in real time; you can be a part of this story!)

Audrey's mom, Angie Smith, has recently published a book of their journey, called I Will Carry You. It's available on amazon and looks really really good. (Please comment if you've read it!)

Here is one more blog I've read recently that is related in it's affirmation of the sanctity of ALL life, but is in some ways even more costly than carrying a terminally ill child to term: the long-term parenting of a special-needs child.

Greg Lucas' fatherly musings: Wrestling with an Angel

Reading these is helping me to treasure every bit of Éowyn that I can, and every child that I meet...and if you think about it, everybody's someone's baby.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Breast Milk, God's Gift to Moms & Babies

A friend sent me this NY Times article on reason # 356 to breastfeed (ok, so I'm not really keeping count, but there are reasons upon reasons, it would seem!). She commented that I'd get a kick out of the irony of the scientist's comments, and as I read it, I could see exactly what she meant. Ryan, too!

After talking about natural selection for 3 paragraphs, he ends with " “It’s all there for a purpose, though we’re still figuring out what that purpose is,” Dr. Mills said. “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”" Hah!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Currently reading/just finished...

- The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton-- this was for book club. I really like it. Still working my way through parts of it-- I didn't exactly read it linearly... Anyway it's very very good for discussion. Our group liked discussing how each "anarchist" represented a slightly different view of atheism, which corresponded by contrast to what was actually created on that day of creation. We also found it telling and convicting to watch the character Sunday go from being perceived by us as supremely evil, to being seen as a sort of representation of God-- actually good-- we only thought He was evil and against us because we didn't know the whole story. A bit difficult to read at times, due to a disjointed style, and overwhelmingly poetic prose. GREAT quotes, but a bit thick to slog through for probably most. So, 3.5 stars. :)

Faithful Women & their Extraordinary God, Noel Piper-- for our church ladies book study. Wow. SO helpful. I loved how each chapter was separate and distinct, allowing me to put it down and pick it up as needed around chores and travel. The direct quotes from each of the women studied were gold mines, and Noel Piper's editing draws application without forcing anything. I think this will fit into my "top-5-books-to-give" list. 5 stars.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Audiobook), J. K. Rowling-- the more I read, the more I see!! JK Rowling is the queen of narrative misdirection; I can see why she loved Emma (Jane Austen), which is a book ALL ABOUT thinking you know where the characters and plot is going, and being totally wrong. This book is amazing at that! For any who haven't read the sequel I won't spoil anything, but I will say that this book does a wonderful job making you lean one way, and then letting go so you fall over. :) So full of mercy and lessons on trust. But really, this is incomplete without book 7!! 5 stars

The Last Olympian (Audiobook), Rick Riordan-- the Percy Jackson series wraps up without disappointment. The good guys win, and are rewarded, Percy chooses doing the right thing over immortality, and of course gets the right girl. I liked seeing the gods' personalities develop over the series, turning them from cardboard mythological characters to real people. Which is a great talking point for parents: the gods in this book are just very-big, very-old, very-powerful people. Nothing divine or Different in them; they're just stronger and older. How much better is our Holy God, who does not sin, does not change, never is capricious or confused! The bottom line of this series seems to be to give everyone a place to belong (lest you hurt many and they turn into enemies of the good!), and to be loyal to your friends and family above all else, no matter how broken and sinful they are. By loyal, the series doesn't mean indulgent or tolerant of sin, but rather to love them and plead with them to do what is right even if they seem too far gone, and you have to fight against them to the death in the end. 4 stars-- good rollicking fun, best writing of the series, and somewhat fuzzy morals.

The Spiderwick Chronicles 1-5 (Audiobook-- for our trip)- we really enjoyed these! They seemed to read like one longer book instead of 5 very short ones, so I recommend bringing home 3 at a time at least. The world Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black create is very real. It is original working of familiar fairy material. It also really sounds like it's coming from the perspective of a 9 year old boy; childishly simple at times. The treatment of divorce is sensitive while still showing the deep pain and even havoc it brings to children's lives. 3.5 stars

The Wisdom of Father Brown, G. K. Chesterton-- I enjoyed this on our trip to Denver. It made me realize, once and for all, that I really like Chesterton's writing!! He provides quips and narrative insights much like his similarly-initialed friend & fellow Inkling, C. S. Lewis, adding wisdom and humor to the point that I stopped and read aloud to Ryan at several spots. 4 stars.

The Great Divorce, CS Lewis (read aloud to Ryan in preparation for the Hutchmoot)-- wow. I loved this. Quotes from here keep popping out everywhere I write or think. In no way is this meant to be an actual picture of Heaven & Hell-- I found it most helpful, though, as a way of looking at the choices people are making for Heaven or for Hell, here and now. 5 stars.

Lilith, George MacDonald- again, preparation for the Hutchmoot. --still in process.

Harry Potter's Bookshelf, John Granger-- wow. This is the book which culls back through the "compost pile" of J. K. Rowling's personal literary experience out of which she wrote her books, and traces elements found in them back to previous literary sources. I could (and maybe one day will!) craft a year-long literature course with this as the overarching textbook, assigning students every book it mentions. What a great way to get teenagers into classics! What a great way to get me out of my literary comfort zone, to try out some genres or authors I'd never have tried on my own! As for this book itself, I am learning so much about the English literary tradition, and appreciating just how steeped in Christianity it has been, and how much I've taken for granted. Alchemy is intriguing to both Ryan & I, and I look forward to learning more specifically about that. I also admire Rowling more and more as I see just how many layers her works have. I feel that at times Granger over-writes, but that's my only complaint. 4 stars.

Systematic Theology, the Attributes of God chapters, Wayne Grudem- very devotional, which I didn't expect from a textbook.

- Mister Monday, Garth Nix (Audiobook--while piecing quilts)

- My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picault-- my younger sister lent me this while we were on the cruise together. A gripping page turner, for sure. Basically a younger sister conceived for the purpose of saving her sister's life (through her umbilical cord blood) and constantly turned to for blood, platelets and bone marrow, sues her parents for the rights to her body when they ask her to donate a kidney at age 13. Talk about an ethical dilemna. A tear-jerker full of surprises. I kept wanting to just share Christ with all of the characters-- they are each selfish in their own ways! Problems with the book: while each chapter is told from a different character-- her guardian ad litem, her lawyer, her best friend and dying sister, her dilinquent older brother, each parent, and the protagonist hersel-- both my sister & I felt that the chapters sounded like they came from one character instead of many; the author speaks too distinctly as herself, preventing the characters from finding their voices. There is cursing (I thought gratuitous) and sex; not overly graphic but definitely not something I'd hand a kid. Anna & I found the book over-stated, with too many witticisms and perfect coincidences... Nevertheless, this would be a great discussion-topic, and is certainly well-researched. 3.5 stars

Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, J. K. Rowling, trans. into Spanish- workin' on it

Spiritual Depression, M. Lloyd-Jones-- far more than a spiritual diagnosis tool, this is a handbook for daily soul-care. I'm still working through it, but am finding it so rich, so insightful, so balanced. 4.5 stars (so far).

Thoughts stemming from "Proposition 8"

This is the bill defining marriages recognized by the state of California as "one man, one wife." It was recently deemed to violate the 14th Amendment by a California judge. It will be appealed and will probably eventually be heard before the Supreme Court.

As is so often the case, I appreciate Al Mohler's view on the topic. As he points out, this isn't just a cultural statement regarding the normalization of homosexuality. It reflects a root misunderstanding of both marriage and gender.

I found the judge's statements saying that procreation has never been a main goal of marriage to be appalling...and historically completely false!! My Catholic friends could easily point this out (it is still the MAIN goal of marriage, to many of them), as could anyone tracing the history of European monarchs who wed for the sole purpose of producing an heir. In discussing the issue with friends who rejoiced to see this bill knocked down, I kept reverting back to the Bible's view on marriage and gender. The judge's statements reveal that he was definitely thinking of gender roles when he issued this ruling. “Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals,” he stated. To him, recognition of homosexual marriage is just a logical extention of the blurring of distinction between the sexes. I see how he gets there. Once manhood and womanhood are interchangeable in role --he says 'equal' though he leaves no space for them being 'different'-- it's just a logical step to say that any human can now marry any other, because we are all the same. Wow. What a step towards a unisex society.

Please check out The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood's website for wonderful resources with a Biblical view of the sexes-- respecting and valuing our God-given differences, while rejoicing in our equality before God as co-heirs and fellow Image-bearers.

I got into a pretty long Facebook discussion on this topic, in which my "opponents" brought up polygamy in the Bible, God being Love, and so that meaning we cannot condemn love in any form, as well as the place of religion in politics. Here are a few of my thoughts from that...

-- The main problem with anything besides man+woman is that the New Testament clearly teaches that marriage is a dim reflection of the union between Christ, the loving, sacrificial, leading Head, and the Church, helping, joyfully submitting to him and helping fulfill His plan for the world. That's why God brought Eve to Adam all those years ago, as a helper like and different from him. It was something Paul calls "a mystery;" something only explained at Christ's coming and Resurrection

-- on polygamy: I think it's telling that the first polygamist is Lamech, one of Cain (a bad guy)'s grandsons, and a violent murderer WORSE than Cain. Polygamy also differs from homosexuality because despite its abberations, there still is a man and a wife, twice. Two women, both married to a man--in this case, the same man. Never has anyone said (as far as I know) of a polygamous union that both women were "married" to each other! It's always heterosexual, even in cases where a woman might have had two husbands. (I'm pretty sure that three-way anything would be called some sort of perversion in any tradition.)

--on "God is Love": it's a big jump to say that because God embodies Love, we can do whatever we want. I sure love my daughter, but there a great many desires of hers I forbid her to do... she doesn't like it at all, but I do it because the things she wants (very deeply at times!) aren't good for her. Shouldn't we trust our Creator and Father (who IS love, as you pointed out), to tell us what is and isn't good for us? IN other words, we have to let God, as Love, define "lawful" love. He says there are some things, some ways, some practices we must not "love." We aren't free to do anything we want just because we feel "loving" while doing it, or say that we "feel love" in a certain way. Because God is the fountainhead of love, we have to let Him direct our love.

--on morality & the Gospel ("Good News"): everyone seems to have clear ideas about what is "right" and what is "wrong." I'd urge you all to consider where those standards come from, and to realize that the Bible claims to be the story of how God Himself condescended to our human level to tell us exactly which way is up and which is down. His Rules (morality) DO transcend culture, and as you read through Scripture with an eye to the One Story of Redemption that it tells, you'll see that. Much of what was hinted at and unclear in the Old Testament is made clear and explained redemptively in the New Testament, including God's model for marriage (before Christ came, it was a "mystery" remember? After He comes, He Himself in Mt 6 & 19 explains what it was always supposed to look like, and later Paul by the Holy Spirit explains even more explicitly what it was meant to be, in Eph. 5. From the beginning (and I mean since the creation of man in Gen. 1-3), God has had to speak into our world to explain rightness and wrongness-- that is, morality. Ultimately, He used a Final Word-- the God-man Jesus Christ incarnate. "In the past, God spoke to our forefathers various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son...the Son is the radiance of God's glory, and the exact representation of His being." (Heb. 1-3) Jesus the Christ perfectly fulfilled God's righteous requirements of the Law, yet died a condemned death, and was confirmed as having paid the price for the immorality of everyone who trusts in Him for salvation, by being raised from the dead. He did this "in order that the righteous requirements of the Law might be fully met in US." (Rom 8:2) Christians are serious about sin and being free from it because that's exactly what Jesus came to do: set His people free from the consequences of sin (God's own judgment) and bondage to it.

When it comes down to it, the crux of the matter is whether or not we will submit to God. As one of my FB "opponents" put it, "
the Christian's version of Yahweh forbids homosexual and polyamorous love for the same reason that the Jew's version of Yahweh forbids tattoos -- that is, for no good reason at all except the pointless exertion of control over people's bodies and minds.... I owe nothing to a fictional dead human or his mythical metaphorical father, with whom I have had no dealings. " How different from David's "against You, and You only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight" (Psalm 51:4), and Paul's "in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)

Thankful that His dealings with me are all mercy,

The Bible very clearly teaches that a lifestyle given over to homosexuality (as a homosexual "marriage" would be), is sinful and a perversion of love (The attraction is not sinful, as far as I can tell, but giving oneself over to it without any self-control is.). Any sexual activity outside of man-and-wife-marriage is called "fornication" very clearly by Scripture, and is over and over said to be wrong. Homosexual lust is the same as heterosexual lust... both are wrong and offensive to God. Romans 1:18-32 clearly discusses homosexuality. Revelations 21:8 and 22:15 make it clear that those living in unrepentant sexual sin are not among the Redeemed of Heaven. My favorite passage dealing with homosexuality is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, because it says that some of the Corinthian Christians once did live in such sin, and since coming to know Christ now are "washed" and even made HOLY!!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why and How I Blog...

It's been a while since I had time coupled with internet connection to do some serious blogging. :) The book review site is underway, in the hopes that many parents, teachers, and readers will find it useful! Both Ryan & I are quite excited about it and will be working like little ants on it in the background...

Until then, there are several things I've had smoldering on back burners of my mind. Yes, I know, some of your smoke alarms are probably screaming right about now. (how's that for an extended metaphor!?) I thought I'd like to post first explaining how I think through issues and how you can expect me to present them. Pretty much everything I post on here is controversial (except maybe our travel adventures) in the sense that some group of people somewhere disagrees with it, be it a health topic, parenting, theological, or political. Even our traveling could be controversial, I guess, if someone felt strongly that we should spend more money on missions and less on it, or whether or not we should take our daughter with us, or whether the places we visit are appropriate or not... Anyway, you get my point.

When an issue comes up in my mind, the first things I do are gather as much information as I can on the topic-- articles, perspectives from leaders I trust, direct quotes, books on the topic, and of course asking Ryan, if he has an opinion on the matter. I try to form as complete a picture of the issue at hand as I can. Then the way I analyze all that data is to take it both backwards and forwards. I take it "backwards," meaning I try to discern its originating worldview- without assuming too much or making giant leaps. I try to line these basic underpinnings with what Scripture says, or for unclear issues, to what basic principles Scripture provides. Then, I take it "forwards" meaning I try to see where reasoning along the lines of the presented issue will take us. Again, I try to line these up with Scripture. Lastly, I put all the pieces together and present them on this blog.

I put "stuff" on here in order to both save and create work for my readers. I want to spark people to think for themselves. In a culture where we are bombarded with information at such alarming paces, it's difficult and totally counter-cultural to slow down and pick that information apart and test it. So I present my own reasoning in long-hand to allow anyone interested to see how and why I reached my conclusions. I love it when someone tells me that they found a post really helpful, even when they reach a different conclusion than I did! That's why I try to post a lot of links to my info sources, so that people can check it out for themselves. If someone reads what I wrote, thinks it through, and ends up agreeing with me 100%, great!! Of course I love convincing people!! But if someone else reads what I wrote, and as he thinks through it realizes exactly why he disagrees with me, then I am just as happy. I probably would continue to press that person, as I allowed them to press me-- but if in the end they are thoroughly convinced after thoughtful examination, I still consider my work done. :) That's why I had such rich fellowship with Presbyterians all throughout high school and college-- we knew exactly where and why we disagreed, teased each other about it at times, but never had to question our differences more than that.

I want to be clear: just because I lay my pre-suppositions out and reach a certain conclusion, I am not implying that the ONLY conclusion that could be reached from those suppositions is mine. I know that someone can start at the exact same place I do and end up 180 degrees different. Two examples: one friend of mine keeps her sanity by forcing herself to do a small load of laundry every day. I keep my sanity by forcing myself to do ONLY 2 large loads of laundry two days a week. Another, more serious one: in book club we once asked whether we'd send our children away in the hopes of keeping them safe during war, or keep them with us if we were unable to leave. One club member said "because I believe in the Sovereignty of God, and that He appointed me to be responsible for my children, I'd keep them with me, so that I could continue to love on them and teach them through the war." I busted out laughing, because my answer was: "because I believe in the Sovereignty of God, and that He appointed me to be responsible for my children, I'd send them away, and trust that God would provide for them, comfort them and teach them while I was praying for them at home." Same two starting points, totally opposite conclusions.

As CS Lewis envisioned a saint in glory one Day exclaiming,

“We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke! There is no need to go on pretending one was right. After that, we begin living.”

Come soon, Lord Jesus!