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go ahead and label me

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In my last post, I mentioned something that I could honestly rant about (so just go ahead and thank me for all of my self-control!) I said that I don’t agree with everything our government, fellow Christians, the pro-life movement and even myself have said or done. To be honest, I have differences of opinion with the people I work closest with in each of these fields, but that’s not necessarily bad. Though I do long for a more unified Body, I know that we are all unique and that’s not something that keeps me up at night.

But there is something I’ve been wanting to write a bit about and a sermon I heard Sunday has really kept this on my mind. Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how they “follow Christ” but don’t want to be labeled as “Christian.”

*sigh*

I understand where this idea comes from. It’s kind of like, “Well, I am a Smith, but after what my brother just did, I don’t want to be associated with this family anymore.” And I get that. I really do. The people at Westboro Baptist call themselves Christians and their actions are repulsively far from Christ’s example. No Christian is perfect and many people who claim to be Christians behave in a very un-Christ-like manner. As a matter of fact, the Bible promises that we will come across people who claim to be Christians but are actually false teachers.

But with this said, why shirk the name of Christ?

Acts 11:26 tells us that, in Antioch, Jesus’ disciples first started calling themselves Christians. They wanted a name that would unify them and identify them as followers of Christ. “Christian” has an actual meaning and it’s not “conservative” or “judgmental” or “white” or “American.” The word “Christian” literally means belonging to Christ.

Removing yourself from that word won’t clear things up. Actually, I think it causes more confusion. Why not live your life trying to be a good representation of Christ, claiming His name, rather than starting a one-man denomination every time a brother offends you?

To me, the ability to call myself a Christian with any real confidence is the greatest honor I’ll have on this earth. I am saying that Jesus sought me and bought me. You don’t get someone’s name by hanging out with them or studying them. You only take the name of your father or your husband as a sign of  permanent connection and devotion.

The sermon I heard Sunday was about one of our names for God, Jehova Nissi. This name literally means “God is our banner.” A banner is something that unifies a group, states your allegiance and declares victory. Scripture constantly encourages us to call upon the name of the Lord. John 16:3 tells us that we will receive whatever we ask of God in Jesus’ name. John 20:31 tells us that we “have life” in the name of Jesus. We are taught to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Demons are cast out by the name of Jesus. Acts 4:12 says that there is “no other name” by which we can be saved.

When Paul was tortured, he rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

Here’s the deal: though I understand wanting to be disassociated with those who claim Christianity but don’t live like Christ, I don’t think we should ever hesitate to be associated with the name of Christ. Because if we do, we’ll avoid suffering. Everyone knows that you can talk about “God” all you want, talk about church and religion and spirituality, but if you mention Jesus, you’ll suffer dishonor. I sure want to make sure I’m counted worthy of that.

Don’t become a member at Westboro Baptist. Don’t repost this in order to get to heaven. But don’t hesitate to carry the banner. It isn’t everyone who carries the name of the King.

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shutting their gates and opening our doors

IMG_2707They say my hair is kind of auburn, turns reddish when it’s in the sun. I think I feel my red-headedness come to the surface when certain issues are at hand. Issues, for example, like abortion and women’s rights. When people tell me that to be pro-life, you must be anti-woman, it’s like I’m a scarecrow being fed  matches. This just isn’t true and it’s burning me up inside.

Let me make something very clear: I am 100% pro-woman. I am in awe of the women who have gone before me to pave the way for me to be able to vote, get fair pay, own property and wear pants for Pete’s sake!  I love my rights. I want all women to have the rights I exercise. I am for equality, for liberation. I don’t want any men bossing me around either.

However, abortion is simply not an issue of my rights or your rights. Saying that abortion is a woman’s right is like saying mercy killings are the right of a Muslim father or polygamy the right of a Mormon husband. Women aren’t fighting for those rights because, though some men have these rights legally, we don’t feel that they have a right to those rights.

And I strongly believe that women in Texas do not have the right to abortions. I know this makes me sound like I’m contradicting myself, but hear me out. I don’t think any person, man or woman, has the right to take an innocent life. I don’t necessarily believe life begins at conception, but I don’t think there is any denying that life begins in the womb. The bill that Texans recently passed deals primarily with late-term abortions. I honestly cannot imagine, from a scientific or faith-based (or any other) standpoint, how anyone could watch a late-term abortion and not believe that the the legs and arms and face they are watching being dismembered and dissected is anything other than a person. And if it’s a person, shouldn’t we protect him or her from harm?

(As a side: I would like to personally challenge anyone who is on the fence about late-term abortions in particular to go to Youtube or Google images and search “24-week preemie”. The babies you will see smiling, fighting to live, growing, eating, learning are the same age as or younger than babies being who are victims of late-term abortion.)

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What I am trying to get at is the fact that babies, unborn or born, have the right to life. A right that cannot be overruled by a woman’s right to “choose.” Killing is not a right. Killing is a not a right. Say it with me.

I know that there are such things as rape, incest, no money and no father and no way we can do this alone. I am not so naive as to think that ending abortion will fix the world. I don’t think every woman who gets an abortion is a selfish, stupid baby-hater. I know that it is often done under much pressure, out of desperation. But that doesn’t change the fact that a person’s life is being ended. That doesn’t make it a “right”.

If you really want to fight for women’s rights, my rights, fight for a change in society. Through education (about contraception, adoption, financial aid and most importantly, the hope in Christ) we can end the need for abortion in America. I believe that if more men take responsibility for the children they father, we can end abortion in America. I believe that if those of us who have our feet on the ground will open our homes to adoption, we can end abortion in America.

Today I got word that the abortion clinic in my area is shutting down next month. This is big for me, huge for my community. I have spent hours outside of that clinic praying and reaching out the customers and volunteers there. I have prayed to see those gates shut forever because I believe it kills children and hurts men and women. After a long, long battle, we’re finally finding victory. But with all my celebration, the victory was really outweighed by the responsibility I felt at the sound of the news.

The closing of this clinic (and two others in Texas) and the inevitable closing of many more abortion clinics in October, is my cue. My community’s cue. The church’s cue.

This is our cue, not to say “I told you so! I told you abortion is unethical!” But to throw our arms open to the children who would otherwise be aborted. To throw our arms open to the women who think pregnancy is going to ruin their lives for good. To throw our arms open to the dads who have no faith in their abilities to parent and support. To throw our arms open to the clinic workers out of a job. And we must not backslide into a lazy victory, but keep our arms open until all the babies are in families, all the moms and dads know that they are cared for and all the love has been given away. Then I will believe you if you tell me you are pro-woman. Then I will believe you if you say people have rights.

I am ashamed of many things my state’s government has said or done. I am ashamed of many things fellow Christians have said or done. I am ashamed of some of the things the South is known for or the Pro-Life Movement is known for. I am ashamed of my own words and actions. But you can’t get the truth mixed up in southern accents, ignorance and somebody else’s doctrine. What I do in the name of the “pro-life movement” is to inform women of their rights. The right to ask for help, the right to be scared, the right to need time, the right to be a mom against all odds, the right to know what is actually growing inside them. Nothing I do takes away rights. I do not hate women, I love my fellow woman. And my heart breaks when I see her hobbling out of Planned Parenthood just being robbed of her health, wealth and child.

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I don’t hate the people at Planned Parenthood. I love them as well. People are people, no matter how small or how hurtful. But I can absolutely not swallow the idea that Planned Parenthood is helping and protecting women. They help as a side-effect at times (they offer things other than abortions) but they do it for a bigger price tag than alternative healthcare providers and they do it laced with deception. Closing their clinics does not end women’s healthcare. They have all the medical access a man has.

After much thought, discussion and tears, I think this bill is the best thing we have access to today. I am hesitantly excited about the clinic closing in my area. But I think it’s just the beginning of the solution. Women need access to all of their rights. We need to be ready to provide. Babies will need help finding their way into this world. We must be ready to assist. Foster parents and mentors will need to be working overtime. We might be done standing on sidewalks, but our work is just beginning. Abortion is about babies, but it’s also about men and women, which is why by saying I’m pro-life, I’m really saying I’m pro-person.

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what i’m into

Because I’m trying to do more than just allow myself to be sucked into the Internet and obsessively search for answers to all of the latest controversial topics (it’s really not healthy, guys) I’m doing something different today. I love it when other bloggers do stuff like this, so I hope YOU enjoy today’s post. Linking up with HopefulLeigh for a “what I’m into” post. About June. On the 4th of July. Yeah, I’ve been a little crazy lately…

reading:

I am reading this as part of a small group I am in this Summer. Wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise, but it has generated good group discussion.

Funny, witty and frustrating in typical Snicket fashion.

Sort of forcefully started reading this to Jubilee when she was sick last week. It’s a childhood favorite of mine that I can’t keep away from. Just…love it.

watching:

Entertaining and creative, not an instant classic for my family. Didn’t let Jubilee watch it (she’s pretty easily creeped out) and I think that was a good call. Perfect for Willin (age 11.)

Oh my, loved this one. Made in 1934 but has a modern feel. Very funny, well-done, good story. Not super silly as I expected.

Very funny. Why hadn’t I seen this before? Surprisingly clean, minus some avoidable language. Good movie.

Classic screwball comedy starring Cary Grant, later remade as Move Over Darling with Doris Day and James Garner. Great one!

listening:

Very upbeat worship album by up-and-coming Irish band. Recorded solely in homes and other non-studio locations. Enjoyable.

I was initially a little disappointed in Deschanel’s lack of vocal performance, but this is still a great album by one of my favorite bands.

loving:

stepping into the sun to warm up

iced tea with lemon

my new lamp

Sam makes some mean chocolate chip banana bars. And then we put a candle in them and let him blow it out. :)

Sam makes some mean chocolate chip banana bars. And then we put a candle in them and let him blow it out. :)

frequent(er) family reunions for Summer birthdays and graduations

having our kitchen sink back

letters from faraway but dear friends

Nice having a family full of photographers. This is my dad taking Birdie's senior pictures...they turned out great!

Nice having a family full of photographers. This is my dad taking Birdie’s senior pictures…they turned out great!

driving all over town and to the neighboring town without having panic attacks

my favorite parking spot at the grocery store

my peeps over to watch a movie and chat it up

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The world just needs this right now, yes?

the nest-full of baby wrens in the geranium right outside our front door

rabbits, armadillos, owls, squirrels, possums, raccoons, hawks—every day wildlife

new sneakers

I enjoy sidewalk counseling surrounded by babies and balloons. :)

I enjoy sidewalk counseling surrounded by babies and balloons. :)

learning, learning, every day

small group at Sterling House-nothing like it

swimming!

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Why don’t I paint more often? It’s so much fun.

linking:

I have been talking, reading and writing about modesty for a couple of months now, but this about sums things up.

(Excerpt: “Historically, women did not expect clothing from a rack to fit them perfectly,” but now “we take our bodies to the tailor instead.”)

(Excerpt: “Imagine if all the books about girls were about sexism. Imagine if female characters were generally there to give the reader a history lesson about suffragettes or a cultural critique about rape. What would that do to a little girl?”)

I love Darling Magazine and Show Hope, so this piece was a lovely find.

Amazing medical breakthrough as seen through a young cancer patient.

writing:

(and I’ve got several things in the works, just too many thoughts to make for intelligible writing yet!)

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a birthday legacy (+ an awesome give-away!)

Hello Dears, Guess what? June 23rd is a Sunday, Midsummer Night’s Eve with a full moon. And it also happens to be my 21st birthday. But, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, June 23rd is special in another way. On the 23rd, four young women will be moving to their new home at The Legacy House. The Legacy House is a small home in Austin, Texas for 18-22 year old girls who have aged out of the foster system without being placed in a family. Girls in this situation are very high risk for trafficking, abuse, prostitution, homelessness and general instability.

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According to Casey Family Programs & Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, 40% of girls who age out of foster care are pregnant within a year, 25% never receive a diploma or GED. 50% of these kids will be homeless within a year of aging out. The statistics are the same for incarceration.

Kids at Risk Action – Children’s Rights Advocacy Network estimates that a teen girl on the streets will be approached by a “pimp” within 48 hours. The majority of underage prostitutes come from foster care.

Department of Justice, Polaris Project & Kids at Risk Action all confirm that 100,000 children are trafficked in the U.S. every year. 70% of those spent at least some time in the foster system. 29% of children exiting the foster system are on their way to be sexually exploited in someway.

At the sight of these sad statistics, the folks at Legacy House decided to throw a wrench in the system. They decided to make a space for these young women. A space where they can be empowered to build their own legacies and bridge the gap between the foster system and sustainable independence. As their website states:

Legacy House is not a facility, a transitional shelter or group home. We are unique:

  • State-defined foster home
  • Small home environment
  • 1-on-1 individualized care
  • Healthy home modeling
  • Stable home setting
  • Combined parenting and counseling

Another feature I love about Legacy House is the fact that all of the residents participate in running the household. The philosophy is one of empowerment, not an enablement of past needs. I believe that places like Legacy House are much too scarce. There is a definite crack in the system in which so many young men and women slip through. But I also believe that Legacy House is doing things right and actually making a difference, which is why I’d like to invite you to participate. Over the next week, I’m going to be hosting a fundraiser and give-away in honor of the young women at Legacy House! Several of them have Summer birthdays too…these funds could help them celebrate! Here’s what’s up for grabs:

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One awesome poster reading “Family Is Forever” from Sevenly!

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One iron “Flock Together Love Bird” from Noon Day Collection!

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One digital copy of the latest edition of Darling Magazine!

Lest you think your eyes betray you, there are three wonderful gifts being offered this week. I would be very happy to keep any one of them! It is really three different give-aways because three winners will be selected by a random-select feature on the Rafflecopter. That triples your chances of winning something, right?!

 I wanted to offer three “homey” prizes in order to celebrate the fact that four girls will get to call Legacy House “home” by the time this give-away ends. But like I said, as much fun as give-aways are, this is also a fundraiser. Here’s how you enter the give-away and support a beautiful cause at the same time:

1. Go to legacyhouseaustin.org to make a donation. Give as much as your heart desires! Be sure to leave your name in the comment section and go ahead and add that you’re coming from Clickety-Clack (that will just make things easier later on.) Or enter by liking Legacy House on Facebook! It’s that easy. Of course, doing both would make my birthday even better. :)

2. Come back here between 6/17 and 6/24 and use the handy-dandy Rafflecopter (below) to enter the give-away! You will need to sign in with an email address or through Facebook, but it’s quick and easy! I am going to trust y’all to select the truthful answer. If you have simply “liked” Legacy House on Facebook, you can enter once! If you have given $5, you can enter twice and if you give $15 or more, you’re in for 3 entries! And just look how cute that little birdie is…

3. Spread the word about the fundraiser and give-away on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, the post office-wherever!

4. Wait and see if you’re the lucky winner, to be announced on June 24th!

This is my first time to do anything like this, so I am very excited to see the results. Please consider participating and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

 everly

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5

one of those days

alfred eisenstaedt

Do you ever have one of those days in which you wake up and feel like you’ve been put through a pasta maker during the night? You felt fine when you went to bed, but the world turned into a cold, dark place while you slept. Yesterday the sun was cheery. Today it makes you sneeze. Yesterday your family was funny. Today they’re irritating. Yesterday you felt motivated. Today you feel useless.

For (seemingly) no reason at all, you’re having a miserable day, but the biggest issue is, you feel like you have no excuse. In your less foggy moments, you are able to see that today isn’t really all that different from yesterday. It’s the same sun, the same family, the same you. But you have changed. Your perspective is small and murky. Your energy levels are at an all-time low. You don’t want to talk or see people, but in your avoidance of them, you find yourself still blaming others for your unhappiness. They’re so unappreciative/annoying/demanding/loud/insensitive/fill-in-the-blank today. And why aren’t they coming to find you and see if anything is the matter? Why didn’t they invite you to eat lunch with them? But when they do come to find you, you want to be left alone, don’t ya?

Yeah, I have those days too. I try to tell myself that nothing is the matter, so just get over it and on with it already! And yet my day rarely amounts to much when I’ve woken up feeling like sludge. I spent my entire day ping-ponging around from one thing to another, trying to simply achieve something-anything! I spend too much time on the Internet. I beat  myself up about how much time I just spent on the Internet. I remind myself that I’m a spoiled, first-world brat. I have a little cry. I eat. I keep eating. I beat myself up about how much I just ate. Rinse and repeat.

It’s usually about halfway through the day that a tiny beam of sunlight comes through the clouds and lands on my mentality and I say to myself, “You know, for some reason or another, I’m having an off day. Blame hormones, blame spiritual warfare, blame the weather or the news or the Obama administration, but no matter the reasoning, I’m bummed today. And that’s okay. Everyone gets bummed sometimes. And when an introverted, sensitive, highly-emotional girl such as myself has a bummed day, there is very little reason to try to salvage the day. It’s like trying to salvage ice cream that’s been dropped on a grate in a hot parking lot. You can try…but it’s pretty close to hopeless.”

There is hope, however, in having the day end in something other than tears. You can, instead of trying to accomplish something, try to rest. Spend time away from people if people just aren’t floating your boat. It’s better to take time to oneself than to force yourself to hang out with people and continually be biting heads off. If you need to vent, write or communicate with someone removed from the situation. If you need to eat-eat! I mean, make good choices if you can, but feed thyself! If you think you need to cry, go up to your room and try to cry. The funny thing is, you probably won’t be able to do it then and you’ll just end up laughing at yourself. Laughing at oneself is a great start to a better day. Do something that doesn’t take a lot out of you. Today I worked on my ever-so-important Favorite Names List. I added some ultra-hippie names (Courage, Amaryllis, Lively…)

Now, this may sound like a major cop-out. “You don’t feel super peppy today and so you decide you can just slack off and do nothing?”

Well, yes…kind of. If you’re a useless puddle of melted ice cream sliding into a hot grate, don’t try to pretend to be anything else. Today I got the week’s menu planned and did a very few other odd things that needed doing, but I didn’t respond to emails and I didn’t clean my room and I didn’t cook, because sometimes it’s okay to “cop-out.” Sometimes you need to give yourself a break and some downtime. Or at least I do.

Now excuse me as I go and watch a movie with my mom and sister. Cinnamon toast and chocolate milk for dinner…

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