Times of Joy, available at: ForYourMarriage.org


Happily Even After

Times of Joy


August 26, 2010

We have had a “helluva” summer.  What was supposed to be three and a half months of down time at home and at the office – kicked off with a fun vacation at the beach – turned into multiple funerals and cross country trips by car and by plane. And it probably goes without saying that trips of that magnitude didn’t result in a lot of downtime at the office.  We seemed to be endlessly returning from a trip or getting everything in order to leave for a trip. 

I actually remember a moment back in early June, sitting on our front porch on a heavenly Saturday afternoon.  I mean it was completely idyllic.  Kids playing in the yard.  Flowers we planted blooming.  Perfect 70-degree weather, sunshine and not a cloud in sight.  It was just one of those moments when you are completely…complete.  At peace with yourself and your life; fully conscious and aware of what a precious gift you are experiencing and thankful to God for it.  I remember that moment, because it was the last time I remember feeling that way for the last two and a half months.

Until last weekend.

A friend and co-worker offered us her timeshare at a beach condo out of nowhere.  She had it booked and ended up not being able to use it and figured we could use a getaway. She just gave it to us.  Free.  A completely gratuitous gift.  So we packed up the family, sand toys, rubber boots and jackets (this is Oregon, not Florida) and headed to the coast for some family time–something we just haven’t had in a couple months. 

After driving for a few hours, we arrived in the mid-afternoon, and settled in quickly.  Then we headed straight for the beach.  Now, I had never been to this beach.  And, I come from a land (Florida) of magnificent beaches.  But I had simply never seen anything like the beach at Newport, Oregon.  After parking on a bluff, descending several sea stairs, and climbing over an enormous dune, you are faced with a landscape of 3-4 feet high mini-dunes rolling (is that the right verb to describe dunes?) down to the Pacific.  It looked like a half or quarter scale Tatooine desert (Star Wars reference for those who have no 30-50 year-old men or Lego-addicted little boys around).

We plodded through the warm sand over the ridges of one dune after another until we chose our spot in the middle of nowhere.  We were surrounded by nothing but sand and water. (Seriously, there were so few people, it was amazing to feel so alone on a public beach!) The children were as completely fascinated with the landscape as we were.  Oscar started exploring, Simon was discovering how to slide and jump down little dunes, and little Lucy treated them like rock walls she wanted to climb. 

Which left us with very little to do besides Joshua laying his head in my lap as I sat on our blanket.  There we were: watching our children, marveling at the beautiful late afternoon light, the piercingly clear day, the soft warmth of the sand through our toes, the relentless waves of the Pacific, the complete and utterly gratuitous gift of it all. 

It was one of those moments: at peace with yourself and your life; fully conscious and aware of what a precious gift you are experiencing and thankful to God for it.  In the face of such an abundance of grace, could a person want anything more?  Then I realized, in addition to all the blessings of nature, a healthy happy family, a surprise getaway, and remarkable weather in Oregon…I get to share it all with Joshua, the love of my life.

Some people search and search for love, for someone with whom they can share life.  I was given Joshua at a relatively early age and we share so much that it is almost easy to take it for granted. But not in a moment like this. I can sigh in contented wonder at this utter gift of a moment, and he can touch my leg to let me know he knows.  Without a word from him, I am no longer a solitary being in my reverie, but part of an indwelling community of love.  I am known.  And the only response to that is gratitude.

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Abortion’s “Selma” Moment

Abortion’s “Selma” Moment

With recent revelations from Planned Parenthood about the gruesome realities of the abortion business, I believe the pro-life movement has hit its “Selma” moment, and I wanted to involve our teenage son, Oscar, in activism on this issue.

On March 7, 1965, 600 activists were beaten on their march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the denial of voting rights to black people. Images of the pogrom were broadcast on television and reported widely in the media. The images brought to naked light the racist violence that had been consistently and systematically used to oppress black people in the south.

When the rest of America saw what was happening, they could no longer ignore this racist violence, or assume it was part of an intractable problem that wasn’t their business. One week later, President Lyndon Johnson convened a special joint session of Congress and called on legislators to introduce and pass the Voting Rights Act.

This week, I watched the recent undercover exposé videos that showed conversations with doctors from the world’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood (first this, and then this, and now a very graphic video). In these conversations, the doctors describe how the abortion procedure is altered to preserve organs and body parts from fetuses to be transferred to research companies. The revelations horrified me, and many others, and are functioning as a tipping point in a similar way to the Selma beatings by bringing to naked light the true violence of “safe, legal abortion” in this nation.

In Selma, the suffering of innocent people opened the eyes of Americans everywhere and motivated decent people to step forward to demand the end of an unjust and dehumanizing system. Though abortion and “human tissue research” has been going on for years, these recent revelations have forced me to take a long, hard look at what is really at stake in the abortion issue.

True, abortion is legal in this country, and technically, research on “fetal tissue” resulting from abortions is allowable, but the fact that Planned Parenthood both offers abortions and evidently alters that procedure in order to better procure research “material” is a clear conflict of interest. It betrays their promise to serve women.

What is more, the situation presents inescapable logic that human life is destroyed in an abortion. Planned Parenthood is in the business of providing to researchers fetal organs such as hearts, lungs, and livers precisely because they are body parts from human beings—that is why they have value. And, evidently, Planned Parenthood is willing to find “less crunchy” ways to extract these body parts in their abortion procedures. They report an ability to move the baby around in the womb so that the body gets delivered first, which allows doctors to harvest the head in tact without crushing it and applying suction to remove the brain (as would normally happen in an abortion procedure). The most recent video showed medical assistants dissecting parts of a body from an abortion; they recognized the gender of the body and could not help remarking in macabre irony, “Another boy!”

That turning feeling in your stomach? It is moral revulsion. I feel it, too, and I am outraged.

U.S. taxpayers provide Planned Parenthood with $540 million every year, which implicates me directly with this system. I decided that it is time for me to more forcefully and publicly declare my opposition to it. I refuse to be associated with this atrocity. This situation has moved me from being a concerned and motivated voter to an activist.

I immediately wrote my senator and asked him to support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 1553) currently in front of Congress, but felt motivated to respond in other ways. In 50 years, when my grandchildren look back at the early years of this century and wonder how abortion was ever tolerated, I want them to know that I was a decent person.

So, I joined the local #WomenBetrayed rally on July 28 (it was one of more than 60 nation-wide), and I invited Oscar to participate. At 14, he will be a freshman in high school this fall, and I thought this was a good opportunity to expose him to active citizenship and public ethical discourse, and to prompt him to begin making his own moral judgments.

I shared with him the videos in question, as well as some commentary (including the response from Planned Parenthood’s president). I invited him to think about the situation and how he might respond, if at all. Then we started having a conversation.

He explained that he didn’t think that protests did much good because they only voiced positions that are already known—they rarely gather enough participants to effect change.

I suggested that he could channel his response in another way—through advocacy or volunteering at our local women’s pregnancy center. I also explained my own reasoning for publicly protesting in this issue. I said that I am of course invested in changing the system, but my participation in the demonstration also has to do with the value of the protest itself as an act of witness and identity. I told him that I wanted to be counted among those who stood for what is right, who opposed the obvious evil in our midst.

I gave him more time to think about it, and told him he was welcome to join me, that I’d like to have him come, but he should make his own decision.

And without prodding or pressure, he did—he decided to accompany me on the protest. So, we dressed up—if we were taking a public stand, we wanted to be taken seriously—and we prepared statements to explain ourselves in case anyone asked us why we were participating.

His statement actually deepened my own activism—he said that he opposed Planned Parenthood because they were desecrating the bodies of the deceased. In effect, our witness is a work of mercy: to bury the dead. I had never considered the abortion issue in this light before.

I was proud of him, and I was proud to stand for life with him. Together, we will stand on the right side of history.


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