We spend most of these early, formative years with our children in the throes of training. Once we get them past the lumpy, squishy infant months where our main objective is merely to keep them alive, we move into the toddler years where, well, the objective is still to keep them alive. But a considerable effort is spent on teaching them life basics like sharing, saying please and thank you, asking and not demanding.
Then we move into the elementary years, and this is when solid life training begins. This is also where I think many American families begin to break down the training in the wrong ways.
This is the stage we are currently in, and as we navigate these extremely important years with our children, I’ve had to really evaluate what it is I’m trying to teach them. The American lifestyle, as dictated by the American Dream, demands that we teach our children to be “good.” Study hard, pay attention, get good grades. Be nice to others, don’t be a bully. Think of your future. Prepare for college. Say please and thank you, and keep on sharing your mountains of toys.
But the Lord has been whispering new lessons to my heart these last few years as we’ve navigated some bumpy life roads. I don’t want to raise “good” kids who do all the things needed to get into college, then get a job, and then from there make a “good” living for their families.
What a box we’ve created for our children!
While there is wisdom in teaching our children to work hard and prepare themselves academically for the future, we cannot put so much stock into those things that we make them the gospel. We can raise “good” kids in Christian homes who grow up with strong moral guideposts…and little passion for the world around them.
While we place in our home a proper amount of respect on good morals, I’m challenged to take my kids a step further.What does it mean to have integrity? How do we live a life of action, rather than one of complacency? Rather than waiting to be served, what if we were the ones who served?
I fight the urge to place my children inside the American shaped box – the one that dictates they find a solid job with a steady 401K, and a savings account that will give them the chance to retire at 60. None of those things are bad things, of course. We live inside those bounds ourselves. The point is, I don’t want that to be the emphasis of training in our home.
I want my boys to know that there is more to being the provider of a family than simply holding down a good job. I want my daughter to know that there is more to being a wife and mom than simply cleaning and preparing meals and kissing skinned knees.
I want to be a family that thinks of those desperate needs first, far above living a “good” life. And not because we have to, or we should, but because we can.
For a long time, Lee and I operated under an umbrella of fear when it came to giving and serving. We only did those things that fit well inside what was comfortable for us. Then God took everything comfortable away, and we came face to face with our own brokenness, our own weaknesses, and our own short comings. For so long we had brushed those things under the rug.
We were “good,” and we thought this made us good enough. It’s easy to live a “good” life. It’s easy to say and do the right things. It’s easy to live in apathy.
But it’s uncomfortable to care about the needs of the world.
And so it is that the more time passes, the less I’m less concerned with raising “good” moral kids.I want to raise children who have a deep and passionate dependence upon Christ, who see the needs of the world and don’t shrug it off as someone else’s problem, but who stand up and ask, “What can I do?”
This is a hard lesson to teach children who’s bellies are full, rooms are stocked, and who swim in more opportunity than they can possible process. This is a hard lesson for a mom to grasp when she has money in the bank, a full pantry, and more opportunity than she can possibly process.
But it’s not a fight I’m willing to concede. I don’t want to merely raise moral kids – I want to raise passionate kids who aren’t afraid to take risks, to drop everything to help a neighbor (near or far), and who realize that they are only worthy because God has given them everything they need through His Son.
If you would like to donate to help with the Syrian Refugee Crisis, do so here, or here.
EDITED TO UPDATE: On January 22, 2019, New York governor Andrew Cuomo passed a law legalizing abortion up until birth. I have re-shared this post to address this current development. Replace “Planned Parenthood” in this article with “New York City” and the discussion remains valid.
For an example of just one of the slippery slope consequences, consider reading this post about a heartbreaking event that occurred in Colorado:
I huddled under the umbrella, shivering violently against the cold. Or maybe it was the oppression that still lingered beneath the soggy soil under my feet. As the tour guide spoke, I ingested his words, trying to fully comprehend the horror of it all. But of course, I can’t comprehend it. I’m only seeing pictures.
But still, I felt the ghosts whispering a haunting refrain in that place, and I knew that the oppression lingers for a reason.
It poured rain the day I visited Dachau, which felt right. I can’t really imagine the sun ever shining over those graveled walkways, glinting off the barbed wire fencing that once coursed with electricity and served as a quick death for martyred souls. I can’t fathom the dichotomy between a lovely spring day with birds singing joyfully over the ovens that burned thousands and thousand of bodies.
Can beauty and evil really coexist like that?
But I know that they can – of course they can. It happens every day. Beauty and evil intermingle, clouding our eyes and veiling the horrors around us. But sometimes, I think we have to see the evil in the rain to truly understand the depth and depravity.
I wasn’t going to write about Planned Parenthood and those videos that have been released. So many other people have written about it, and I’ve already said my piece on abortion.
I didn’t want to talk about it again. I didn’t even want to watch the videos, because I can picture the horror in my mind, and that felt like enough.
But then I remembered Dachau, and I remembered that sometimes you have to see it up close, in the rain. Sometimes you have to get your feet dirty as you trod into the dark places. Only then can you truly get a glimpse of the horror.
Yesterday, I watched the fourth released video – the one that took us a little bit further. I walked into the lab and watched as body parts were sifted in a petri dish. It was the same way I shuffled parts aside in ninth grade when I had to dissect a frog.
Here’s the heart.
Here’s the liver.
But these weren’t frog parts. They were human. I saw intact hands, tiny fingers raised in surrender, pulled violently from the safety of the womb.
I saw a fully formed leg. Little eyes that would never see the light of a summer day. Mangled and torn, the evidence of abortion screamed at me, and I felt my stomach churn the same way I did when I stepped into the oven room at Dachau. And then I heard the exclamation of the lab technician:
“It’s a boy! It’s another boy!”
I stopped the video there because the weight of it all felt too great. It was like standing in the freezing rain and hearing the stories of the men who were tortured ruthlessly, viciously, violently, all because they bore the label “Jew.”
It wasn’t a “clump of cells.” It was a boy. A little boy who would have bounded with little-boy energy. He would have eaten dirt and played with bugs, fallen and skinned his knees, and probably been too rough when he got excited. He would have hated baths and brushing his teeth, and probably would have given the best hugs.
HE was a BOY. He was real – a human being.
The city of Dachau was remote during the World War II era. This made hiding thousands of people there easier. But still, there were residents living outside the gates. Good German citizens, without the stigma of a forbidden religion, lived and worked just on the other side of evil.
Did they wonder about the smoke that billowed from the trees day and night? Did they question the emaciated men and women who arrived by train and trudged into the shelter of the nearby woods? Did they know and pretend they didn’t? And do I blame them?
Speaking out would most certainly have had ramifications. It was better to keep your head down and pretend you didn’t see.
Friends, we can’t keep our heads down anymore. We’ve been escorted directly into the furnace. We can’t pretend it isn’t there. This has to go beyond the legality of what Planned Parenthood is doing. We must get to the very heart of the issue.
Abortion is murder.
I say this with a bit of a cringe, because I know it cuts deep. It’s a blatant statement, and it may make some of you feel judged or alienated. Maybe you’ve experienced abortion, and these statements cut to the quick. Hear my heart on this: I do not condemn you as a person. I condemn a society who told you there was no other way.
As I write this, the clouds hang heavy over my house. It’s been raining steadily for almost two weeks now, and once again I’m reminded that sometimes the horror is better seen and experienced underneath the weeping sky. We can’t pretend it isn’t happening – we can’t pretend we don’t know.
And what do we do?
This is the trickiest part of the equation, isn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be. There are Crisis Pregnancy Centers popping up all over the United States. These are safe havens where young, scared women can go when an unplanned pregnancy leaves them feeling lost.
Let’s start here.
Call your local Crisis Pregnancy Center and ask them what they need. How can you help? What can you provide? And then spread the word. Let’s give young women a chance to get top care, solid counseling, and the ability to choose life for their unborn children. Let’s stop telling them they have no other choice but to abort.
Let’s give them the choice of life.
What do you say?
For two alternatives to Planned Parenthood in the Tampa area, look at:
I don’t really know where to start this story. Julie Andrews says we should start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.
So maybe I should start in 1995, when I was a junior in high school and I visited Kiev, Ukraine for the first time. While there, I was invited to dinner at the friend of a friend’s house to meet her grandmother, a World War II survivor.
That dinner changed the course of everything.
I sat at the table of a small, grey haired babyshka named Maria who told me her story of survival in a German slave labor camp. Maybe it was the twinkle in her eye, or the way the light glimmered in her silvery hair, but something happened inside me that evening.
That was the night I fell in love with the Ukrainian people – the night the story was born.
But maybe I shouldn’t start there. Maybe I should start 1999. I was twenty-one, and I sat behind the desk as the professor explained the goal of our two semester course.
We would leave Baylor with a finished novel.
He encouraged us to begin brainstorming what we’d like to write about, but I already knew. I wanted to tell the story of Ukraine, of the devastation at Babi Yar, the darkness of those desperate years, and the partisans who pushed back against the Germans.
I also wanted to encapsulate Maria in a character, right down to the way she tutted over a plate of food.
Of course, I could easily start the story in 2003, when my mom and I (and my five-months pregnant belly) hopped a couple of planes and returned to Ukraine where we would tour the country for a month interviewing countless veterans as I continued on my quest to publish this book of stories.
I already had a publisher lined up at that point. It would all end up falling through at the last minute, but the stories I pulled in that month would simmer a little longer. They waited for me through the birth of three children.
The story needed me to tell it, but first I had to live a little.
They were all beyond encouraging, and supportive, and genuinely sweet. And perhaps slightly baffled by my tangle of words trying to explain my need to finish this project?
I can’t tell the story without looking at 2013 when we saw the collapse of our adoption. Writing was the only thing that pulled me out of depression. Tapping into the heartache of others healed my own wounded heart. I typed THE END in 2013.
The only other place I could see beginning this story is last fall. Two years after finishing the book, I still hadn’t been picked up. I’d queried so many agents and publishing houses, and was always met with the same comment:
“Love the concept, and the writing is great. But fiction is a hard sell.”
So I waited, and I sent more query letters. So many queries. And last fall, someone took a chance on me. A literary agent saw potential, and she appreciate my passion. She took the manuscript cautiously, and two weeks later I received a text:
“Just finished your book and WOW can you tell a story. We’re going to see what we can do with this.”
But that’s a lot of beginnings, so maybe I should just begin with the phone call I took three weeks ago with Kregel Publications when they told me they would be publishing my book next spring.
Did you hear that?!
My novel will hit bookshelves in the Spring of 2016.
After our conversation, in which we spoke of the novel and topics for potential future books, I hung up and walked out to the kitchen. As soon as I saw Lee, I burst into tears.
It all felt overwhelming. Twenty years of dreaming, of writing, of perfecting and refining the story all came to fruition in a minutes long phone conversation.
I’m a novelist.
I can’t wait to share this book with you all. Stay tuned for more information!
(And for more on my publishing journey, check out this post where I share the news that my second book will release in September next year. 2016 is going to be crazy!)
I’ve let this post simmer a little bit, not really sure if I wanted to tackle it. In general I do like to avoid controversy, but the more I chewed on this one, the more I realized that it was simply too much. Because not enough people are standing up in outrage over this. Not enough of us are leading the charge to call it what it is.
This story in an of itself is horrific. The gruesome nature of the crime, which was carried out under a pretense that all of us have followed (an innocent Craigslist purchase), is sickening and heart-wrenching. It is clear that Dynel Lane is a sick and twisted individual, and I cannot think about Michelle Wilkins without tearing up.
Therefore the child could not be qualified as a person under Colorado law.
We have failed.
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court announced it’s decision in Roe v. Wade, affirming that a woman has the right to an abortion until viability. Since that time, abortion has been a hot button topic, with women nationwide demanding their right to choose abortion if they feel it in their best interest.
Let me be very clear in this: By demanding our right to choose, women, we have failed millions of children. And on March 26, 2015, we failed Aurora Wilkins in the most devastating way.
Of course the coroner had to come to the decision she did. Of course she had to rule that Aurora was not a living person. She had to, because our right to choose demanded that she make that ruling. A woman’s right to choose has redefined the viability of a living child.
We have failed.
Our right to choose as women has determined that a child in utero does not qualify as a person. It has to be this way, of course. Because if we deem a child in the womb as a person, then there is no way to classify abortion but murder. Therefore, we have removed the designation. We’ve covered our tracks so that we can choose.
We have failed.
I do believe that abortion may be the most heinous and vicious stain on my generation. And to be clear, I’ve never been in support of abortion, nor have many of the people closest to me. When I say “We” have failed, I say so only because it is a collective “We.” Because the women of my generation have demanded their right to choose what happens inside their womb.
My generation has failed.
We’ve failed the millions of babies who were never deemed viable. We’ve justified it, and twisted the meaning of viability until it’s come to this. Dynel Lane will not face murder charges because we have the right to choose.