Monday, January 20, 2014

If Christians in this world risk everything, shouldn't we, USA Evangelical Church, be standing next to them?!?

Perhaps I have always loved the idea that the world is simply at our finger tips that we just need to be brave enough to book a ticket and go on an adventure. I have had the privilege to travel to many countries, to explore many cultures, and indulge in many global delicacies. Please do not let me underestimate the word PRIVILEGE within the above sentence. I did not grow up poor, but I was by no means wealthy. However, through education and parents, who gave us a lot of confidence and encouragement, introduced me to the world and that there were many many other places I needed to discover outside of my fairly affluent Chicago suburb.

Privilege is an interesting word for me as it has become more about the responsibility, which it has bestowed upon me, rather than the "consumer" options I have had based on my parents income and eventually my own income. One could attempt to shy away from privilege and think of it as a burden or perhaps a right. However, privilege is quite complicated. We can not choose to what race, gender, country, family, socio-economic, status, etc. we are born into, we are simply born. But as we are raised and challenged and hopefully challenging our own privilege; should we also wear heavily inherited rights?

I am privileged because I am white, educated, an American, female, married, and a Christian in the USA. I could write to my responsibility in other areas and perhaps one day I may explore those, but for the purposes of this post I want to talk directly to the privilege of being an American (USA) Evangelical Christian...

Living in Scotland these past few months have reminded me that although, yes, there are times where Christians' in the USA have perhaps felt the bite of a society shifting and changing we have no idea what it means to even come close to persecution. I was challenged by the pastor of the small church we attend in St. Andrews that if an interpretation of scripture does not make sense to the poorest of the poor as it would to the wealthiest of the wealthy than it is not what was intended. Simple, if you attempt to tell a story or give an illustration or create an interpretation if that only reaches those within your USA Christian context than it is not what was intended.

Every Sunday the little church we attend takes time out to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in this world whose lives are threatened, who are murdered for their faith, who meet in underground house churches, and/or who ask and cry out for help. I feel helpless, but what hurts even more is that the majority of the evangelical churches I have attended in the USA do not take the time out to simply acknowledge the shedding of innocent Christian blood in this world. We celebrate our Missionaries (and they need to be celebrated and uplift all the time) only during our big Missions weeks. I loved mission weeks at my church, the parades, the food, the stories, the colors, etc. In fact, I would give credit to these two weeks out of every year for also opening my eyes to a much bigger world, but these were the only times when we truly heard stories of what was happening around the world. And to be honest although, there were stories of loss and hunger and starvation there was not a lot of discussion of the daily existence and grind of those living within these countries trying to desperately hold onto their faith.

What is our obligation with our privilege?!? I have had the honor to meet a Finnish couple who have shared their home and their friendship with Andrew and I. They are bold and courageous beyond anything that Andrew and I have had to experience (and I thought loving LGBTQ people and showing them they are valued by our Lord and Savior was hard). After our Finnish friend completes his PhD he and his wife are planning on moving back to Finland to help run a small bible school that every day is threatened by the Finnish government to loose its funding and standing for simply being a Christian institution. They are ridiculed by their government and society. Yes, this is a "western" civilized nation. A nation where generationally they have not heard the name of Jesus, the friend of sinners, the voice for the marginalized, the lover of all many kind. Unlike those of us in the USA they had to search out their faith; a faith that was not available, they had to experience a truth in the fullness of the meaning of faith in choosing something that their family, society and government said was not necessary, and in fact, harmful or silly. Our friends in Edinburgh, Scotland also run a small bible school and they want to become accredited so they can offer further educational options to their students, but the Scottish government believes they are not worthy of an accreditation and have put up obstacle after obstacle. Yet, the government is highlighting the "humanist" movement as being a more appropriate understanding of faith and humanity.

Yesterday, in church we heard prayers and stories from men and women in the Middle East and North Africa who on their own are discovering Christ and their vulnerable cries for help were deep, dark, and painful. As the congregation was silent and their words were read out loud all I could do was ask "God to please please hear these people they are your people. Please Lord take away their fear, a fear that I could never imagine. They have found you Lord please please find them."

I don't know what denomination any of these men and women in the Middle East and North Africa are or what denomination either of the mentioned bible schools would fall under, but does it matter? We get so caught up in the divisions and the absolute "right and wrong" in interpretations and denominations that we can't hear the cries of our brothers and sisters around the world...

What is our obligation to these cries of desperation, please friends, who are we, USA Evangelical Christians, what is our responsibility? We need to figure out how to find them and be the tangible hands and feet even if it means we risk everything because they are risking everything and shouldn't we be standing next to them?

Friday, September 20, 2013

A cup of coffee, storage, and Ikea

We have been in Scotland nearly a month now and we starting to finally feel like we are settling in. Well, I think Andrew settled in much faster than I did as I was the one left in the shuffle of being the "spouse/partner" of a PhD student. There has been a ton of events for Andrew as he starts on this incredible journey and embarks on this very new step. I have been a bit overwhelmed with all the events for both of us and most for Andrew. The university has been incredible at welcoming the incoming students and preparing them for life as a PhD student.

Although, I must admit, I am not sure how well I have been prepared for being the partner of a PhD student. Our home is still in a bit of chaos and there are boxes yet to be unpacked. We don't have nearly enough storage and I feel as if we are bursting at the seems. I thought we down sized pretty significantly, but I was shockingly unaware at how little space for storage we would have and how much I thought I "needed."

However, I don't want to sound too much like a downer because we have been making progress everyday at unpacking and finding a place for everything that we decided to bring along with us. Which brings me to Ikea...

Oh thank you Ikea, for all of your options to create new spaces, storage spaces, and rooms pretty. We have made several Ikea runs and will probably be making several more as we continue forward. They are a reasonably priced store and can provide almost everything that you may need when setting up home. Unfortunately, the nearest Ikea is about an hour and 40 minutes away in Edinburgh, but it does give us an excuse to see our close friends Adrian and Heather Holdsworth who live and work in Edinburgh and help run a small bible college.

But Ikea you are a pain in the butt when it comes to putting items together. Andrew and I haven't even purchased complex furniture. We have purchased two book cases, a shelving piece for the bathroom window and finally a large shelving unit for more bathroom storage. We still need to come and purchase a couple more shelves for clothing.

We had to also purchase an electric drill. We tried at first to follow the steps as outlined by the Ikea "cartoons," oh I mean instructions. But it was horrible. After straining our muscles and hurting our fingers trying to use this Z shaped tool with brute force get screws into the connecting parts we googled others experiences in putting together Ikea furniture and 100% said don't bother with the stupid Z tool go get an electric tool. Everyone shared in our frustration and in our pain. So we iced our thumbs and headed for the local hardware store, Mica Hardware in St. Andrews.

Mica Hardware is the quintessential hardware store with all sorts of eclectic items all over the store. It ranges from pots and pans to dressing makers to pillows to bug spray to grills and charcoal to lawn care to home improvement to home cleaning and electronics of all sorts. The owners are friendly and you can negotiate a bit for some of the items. Its perfect and everything I hoped a small town hardware store would feel like. We received an amazing deal on a drill because it had been in the window and the packaging was faded a bit and it was dusty. Otherwise it was perfect and a life saver for our Ikea projects.

Yes, we tackled the Ikea monster and can I say that we are now the slayers of the Ikea dragon!!!

With our Ikea pieces put together the chaos is beginning to fade and I will feel even more comfortable and at ease that we are close to being finished.

Additionally, I think we both feel like we are bleeding money at the moment as we try and set up house here. We planned and knew that we would need to purchase these items and we are making really good inexpensive and needed choices but it still feels uneasy. We expected these purchase and even anticipated them, but the reality is that its not easy.

Finally, my cup of coffee. I am today finally enjoying my first cup of home made coffee. For those who know I am a French Press lover. Its my favorite way to make and enjoy my cup of Joe :). I even shipped a few bags of coffee beans which I had not gotten to and was super excited to receive and rescue from the shipping boxes. However, the idea of grinding our own beans is a very new concept here in Scotland and well the entire UK. Hunting down a grinder for my beans has been a challenge, but it was delivered yesterday and tested today. Yummm the coffee is fabulous (of course I added some Starbucks flavour syrup) and as I look out my windows to the stone buildings outside I am thankful for this adventure.

I am thankful for how this will challenge me, change me, ground me and allow me to understand and know my husband better.

I hope we get to see some of you soon on our side of the pound!

A perfectly tarnished child of God

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yikes, where to park the lorries?!?

Quick update: We were able to secure car insurance, thank goodness, and we will be picking up our car on Friday of this week. I can't believe how difficult it was to get all of that situated, but its done and I know we are going to be really happy to get our little automatic car :)

Quick update number two, we are still waiting on our wire transfer. It seems everything finally passed all of the security checks in the US and Chase, but it has not been submitted here in our Scottish bank yet.

Quick update number three, the internet and phone should be installed sometime on Wednesday and/or Thursday which means Andrew and I will be connected again to the modern world :)

New lesson today:

Andrew and I had some items shipped from our home in the States. The items left on the 11th day of July and arrived in a UK port in the beginning of September. The items traveled the ocean blue, just backwards according to Christopher Columbus and well actually made port where they needed to (or were expected to), not a few hundred miles short of the "new world" target... but hey, who needs a history lesson...

This is all about new lessons...

Anyway, it never occurred to me that there may be roads that a truck simply could not get down, well lets just say it never occurred to me that a truck could not get down a normal driving street. I could understand perhaps an alley way or something like that. However, since Scotland is incredibly ancient, most of the roadways were designed by the Romans, yeah those Romans, and needed to only be large enough to fit a horse and cart. Unfortunately, nothing much has changed in regards to road sizes.

We received an email from our international shipping company and they sent a picture of the lorries "trucks" they were planning on driving to our place for our shipment and I about fell over. There is no way that truck with a second trailer was even going to make it to our little town let alone down our very little road of Smiddy Burn. Plus just yesterday I noticed that they put up a new sign indicating that our road was "not suitable for large vehicles." Great now what????

So first I emailed the shipping company to inquire why two trailers were needed to haul our stuff which only took up half the trailer capacity when we shipped it out from our home in the States. So thankfully the emailed back and said they would drop the second trailer in preparation to come to our home. Yeah, thats what I thought shipper people we did not ship that much stuff.

However, we are still trying to figure out where now to put a normal sized long haul truck. Andrew and I asked everyone and everyone had no idea. They pretty much have never thought of where you may or may not need to put a large truck carrying a lot of items.

I have sent another email to the international shippers and have not received a response. But it looks like there is a small drive that the truck could pull down, it will have to back out, but it can unload and carry our stuff through the back door of our property.

Tomorrow, when our shipment arrives is going to be a chaotic day I am sure! Wish me luck and send lots of prayers as Andrew is going to be at orientation all day.

Being an ancient country leads to ancient issues that our young country and planned large road ways did not have to deal with or even think about. I wish I could be a fly on the wall as a large truck tries to make it down these very winding, very small, and very beautiful Scottish roads.

New lesson where to park the lorries... I still have no idea :)

Once these small hiccups are done I can't wait to start taking pictures and describing how amazing our little and perfect Scottish town of Kingsbarns is and how wonderful and inspiring St. Andrews is as well. I will also talk about the new places Andrew and discover.

Oh funny story, our new SatNav (GPS) named Serena TomTom has had some difficulties in navigating lately. We asked Serena TomTom to take us to a vodafone (mobile phone company) store about 18 miles away in Dundee, but instead Serena TomTom took us to Perth which is about 40 miles or more away. Andrew and I just kept driving and we knew that Serena TomTom totally messed up, but it was a pleasant surprise and another great adventure. Plus we had no idea where we were anyways and we had to follow Serena TomTom no matter where she decided to take us! LOL! All we could say is oh Serena TomTom :)

A perfectly tarnished child of God

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In Search of Free Wifi

Today is Sunday the 8th day of September 2013. I'm trying to remind myself that dates are written differently here in the UK and I have to literally say it out loud or write it down. It has already confused a few documents and required scribbling out and writing initials. Although both countries are similar their differences, I am discovering are vast. Especially when you move to a small village from a large metro city in the States.

Here is the beginning so far of Andrew and my journey from Chicago to Kingsbarns. From a population of approximately 3.5 million in the city center and about 10 million in the Chicago area to a village of about 300 and a country, Scotland, with about 10 million in total population. It is beautiful here and the ocean, which is about a 10 minute walk from our home, is calming and brings a wet cool breeze every morning.

I am currently sitting in Bibi's Cafe on North Street in St. Andrews. One of my new favorite spots and a place that allows me to tap into their wifi. Thank you Bibis Cafe!

This particular location serves a great little breakfast, sandwiches, soups, teas, coffee, biscuits, and all sorts of sweet little treats. On South Street they have Bibi's Bakery which sells a collection of beautifully assorted cupcakes, cakes, and fresh made breads. Those of you who know me best know that I discovered this little gem even before Andrew and I moved. I love cupcakes, yeah party for one!!!

We have been in Scotland for about two weeks and I have definitely learned some priceless lessons which will be invaluable for others who decided to take this very odd leap of faith too...

The first week we stayed with dear friends in Edinburgh. We got over our jet leg planned out what we thought we needed and purchased some essentials like bedding and toilet paper. Thank you Costco and Ikea for being the best shopping spots for these items. Unfortunately, both of these stores are located in Edinburgh which is about an hour and half to an hour and 45 minutes away from St. Andrews.

Huge lessons so far:
1. You have to book an appointment at a bank in order to open an account and get the process started. This sounds easy enough, but appointments are difficult to get especially in the beginning of school years. It took us an entire week to be able to book an appointment. Book an appointment right away!

2. It takes 7-10 business days to get your bank cards. You can't do anything with out your bank cards... Trust me this was a bit difficult and really frustrating. Although, ours came in 5 days (thank goodness)

3. Still on the bank issues, wiring money from the States was an awful and incredibly confusing, frustrating, and irritating process. Perhaps its because we bank with Chase, who for the most part we have been very happy with, but getting our money has been a nightmare and you can't do anything I mean anything without money. Thankfully Andrew and I had made friends with our bank manager at our branch in Chicago, Brian, who is absolutely amazing, but had we not had that friendship and his help we probably would still be waiting for our money to transfer. So lesson is carry travelers checks with you (insure them) and have them put into your travel currency so for us we would need them in pounds. At least that is what we are finding. Chase has given us a much better exchange rate than the Bank of Scotland. Perhaps that is because the pound is valued higher than the dollar so I would do some research. But bottom line is carry cash with you (or travelers checks) because wiring money is a nightmare.

4. Cars and Car insurances: So we were told that we would probably need and want a car. After being in Kingsbarns for a week everyones advice is correct and a car is needed. The bus runs about every hour but is actually quite expensive and its much easier to drive the 6 miles into town. Cars here are quite small, but that is a really really really good thing. Large cars do not fit and are scary to drive and drive by on the roads. However, we needed a car that fit golf clubs and luggage so it had to have a decent boot (trunk). Yeah, we found one and within our very very limited budget. Great, purchasing car check, but oh what about insurance. Well this shouldn't be a problem we just need to call a few places get some quotes and move on right?!?

5. Car insurance: So apparently unlike the States, car insurance is almost purchased on a yearly basis. So as your policy comes up you search for the next insurance company because they give you a great introductory year, but than raise your premiums. Yikes, okay no biggie. I was told to go on to find insurance quotes... So I did that lets just say that don't like to insure USA drivers. Again, its a nightmare and it costs an arm and a leg. Crazy absolutely crazy. I finally found an insurance company called AVIVA, but I can't seem to figure out how to pay them. Their quote was a bit more reasonable and I was told that they insure US drivers. Thank goodness... I just need to pay... I will up date later...

6. We purchased our car in Edinburgh which had far more to choose from. If you are looking for a manual car the options are almost limitless and you won't need to spend all that much on a car. However, Andrew and I, well mainly me, want or need an automatic car. That was far more difficult to find and the options are quite limited. Plus you will pay a bit more. However, by looking for a car in a bigger location we had a better opportunity to find what we needed. So, assuming I get the car insurance squared away, we are going to be picking up our car on Thursday or Friday of this week.

7. Internet, phone, cable: So these take a bit longer to install than the States, but I think that is more because we are living in a very small country village. However, we found out that we can't get cable because it doesn't reach our little village. This devastated Andrew for a bit until the BT guy insured him that he could get sports channels via our broadband... Phew... Oh and we were limited to only one option BT and not Sky, which is satellite, because we live in a historical home built a long time ago and they can't drill satellite dishes into them... So we get the free, yes free, BT channels which are a bit strange but work and Andrew will be able to get his sports on-line. Sadly we don't get Downton Abby with our free BT, but I was told I could also get this via on-line. Here is to crossing our fingers again.

8. A little village really is a little village. We have B&B owned and run by Jim and Jayne, absolutely wonderful people and cute little B&B. We have a pub and hotel owned and run by Gary and Jackie, incredible food, clean hotel, and great company. We have a post office and very very small convienent store run by Len and a church, a Church of Scotland church, we haven't met the pastor yet. Everyone knows everyone and everyone is some how connected. It is a very strange world for Andrew and I, but we are really enjoying getting to know everyone. Oh and our little cottage is in a row with what the town calls the "Old Spinsters" and yes, the description is true...

Andrew had enjoyed every bit of the golfing greens that he can. He hasn't played yet in St. Andrews, but did play a round in Edinburgh. He can't wait to start playing here. The courses are absolutely beautiful and there really is so much history and pageantry surrounding each course. He is starting his orientation and is very excited about school starting.

I am enjoying settling in. Trying to get our little home set up and stocking it with all the items we need. I am also enjoying discovering the little shops and restaurants around St. Andrews. Its not a big town, but its friendly, quaint and everything I hoped an old Scottish town would feel like. Plus it has the buzz of students and learning which is utterly inspiring.

Yesterday evening, Andrew and I went for a walk to the sea and it was invigorating. The air was cool, wet, and salty. We passed homes that have been there for centuries and it felt like we were in a movie. I think we will enjoy this walk in the evenings... I think we will enjoy living here :)

A perfectly tarnished child of God

Monday, August 5, 2013

Goodbyes and New Beginnings

As many of you know, Andrew and I are moving across the pond to a small village outside of St. Andrews. We are excited and nervous about this new beginning and this great adventure.

My mother and I were talking about our move and she was telling me how scared she would be to even think about moving to another country and I said to her that if it wasn't for both my parents and Andrew's parents investing in our lives so deeply we would not have the courage to take these crazy risks and follow a path less traveled...

However, I have to admit that my heart is heavy. I drove in from my parents house to the city and the day was perfect. The city skyline was majestic. It can be overwhelming, but growing up here has made me brave and adventurous. There is so much to do and to see. Its a city with world renowned restaurants, museums, parks, and theatre, but its also a city with small secrets, special places, and deep memories. Its a city that holds the beginning of Andrew and my life together, the community which has protected and encouraged us, and the friends who have loved and cared for us. This urban jungle is beautiful to me and I love it. It is my security and my familiarity. Its what I understand and what makes me feel full.

But now we are moving to a very different place. I have to admit perhaps Andrew and I are having a small romantic love affair with the idea of living in the country near the sea. It is small and far away from large cities and the constant chaos of life in an urban jungle. It will be a time for Andrew and I to learn more deeply about each other, to learn to slow way down, and to learn to take deep breaths. To listen to the silence and focus on the whispers.

It is also, I am hoping and praying, going to be a time of deep healing for both Andrew and I. For me personally, as I have grown stronger and learned to grieve not possessing the normality of what I hoped for my life, I find my direction and purpose. I am hoping to holistically cleanse my body, soul and heart in search of a fullness in my Lord and Savior and to understand more fully the plans which He has for me...

My goal is to continue with this blog as a diary for me to express my heart and an ability to reflect back and look forward. It is also a space where I hope to share with each of you who continue to read this blog about our adventures in Scotland.

To quote one my most favorite poems by Robert Frost:

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Love a perfectly tarnished child of God

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chicago Pride Parade 2013

On Sunday, June 30th, I attended my fourth Pride Parade. This years parade did not disappoint it was everything that one would imagine a Pride Parade to be, glitter, streamers, balloons, music, incredible dancing and a beautiful display of people in all shapes, sizes, color, gender and age. Pride is a celebration of a moment in time when a group of very brave and very terrified LGBTQ people chose to no longer accept the painful existence of being a part of the shadows; fearful to live openly and freely.

As a straight woman I cannot begin to understand the feelings of having a same-sex attraction, but I can relate to the idea of living in the shadows and not being able at times to fully express my gifts, my life, my voice, my ideas, and my story. As the Woman’s Suffrage movement attempted to pull women from the shadows and the Civil Rights Movement revealed the disgraceful inequalities between races so has the symbol of Pride Parades, celebrating the riot at the Stonewall which brought voice and light to the treatment of LGBTQ people in the United States and throughout the world. The riot started, not because the people at Stonewall wanted to make a statement and were organized and ready to fight, it started because a group of people out of desperation and fear said they could no longer be treated less then; they could no longer be beaten, or shaken down, humiliated and arrested. They no longer could afford to look in the mirror and tell themselves it was okay to hide in the shadows, “in the closet,” but it was time to stand, to shout, to be courageous and say no more, collectively for the first time together as brothers and sisters as an LGBTQ coalition, in one collective voice shouting “no more”. This is why Pride Parades are held, to remember the courage and sacrifice of those who within their deepest and darkest fear chose in a moment of reckless abandonment and boldness, to take a stand.
I understand the gravity and importance of remembering significant moments in history because in reflection we are to learn and grow from the situations of the past. Moments and historical events are guidelines for our futures and building blocks that we are to create upon and hopefully improve upon. It is in this deep reflection that I share my experience at Pride, a moment where I and a few other members of The Marin Foundation chose to do something different, to stand in a location we had not stood before as we participated in the I’m Sorry Campaign.
There were about 10 of us who decided to leave the familiarity of our space in front of the IHop on Halsted and find where the Pride Parade Protesters would be located. After speaking with Chicago’s Finest, we were pointed in the direction at the end of the parade route where a sectioned off area had been established for those who were exercising their right of freedom of speech and protest the parade. Let me be very clear, I do believe that as a citizen of the USA we do have a right to protest, to speak our minds and share are thoughts in disagreement and agreement. I was prepared to hear a multitude of arguments against LGBTQ liberties, celebrations, marriage, connection to God, the bible, and the parade itself; what I was not prepared for was how the name of God was being used to utterly humiliate, degrade, hurt and belittle the participants and patrons of the parade. My heart was broken not because these protestors felt it was okay to spew four hours’ worth of the most vile hate speech I had ever experienced and heard against a certain group of people, yes that was outrageous, but that was not what broke my heart. My heart was broken deeply and my soul torn to its core by the calloused presentation of the word of God to the crowd passing by, to those of us watching the parade and those participating in the parade, triggered a deep pain that had nothing to do with the love of Jesus, but everything to do with a cruel attempt to make each person feel as if they were unworthy to breathe.
The 10 of us from The Marin Foundation decided to stand as a buffer directly in front of the protestors. We hung our banner on the fence and designed handmade signs reading; “you are loved”,” Jesus loves you”, “free hugs” and one held by our Director of Pastoral Care, Jason, “I’m sorry, I was once a bigot.” It was an intentional and literal sense of standing in the middle and standing in solidarity with the other, or in this case humanity.
After a while I must admit the sound of the protestors became more like the teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons, but I was quickly reminded that they were there and they were yelling a litany of visceral rehearsed statements time and time again. As the parade participants passed by their joyful celebration turned to pain and anger as they yelled back their own line of profanity directed toward the protestors. However, within moments, like a single candle light in a dark room, a flicker of hope as the parade participants read our signs and recognized The I’m Sorry Campaign it was an instant reaction which led some to cheer, others to say thank you, many to come in for high fives and hugs, lots of blown kisses, and a few to break down in tears. These moments where real for me and those I shared them with and I held on to them with great compassion. A suspended moment in time when celebration explodes into hate, anger, and pain and like a lantern onto our feet, our path is illuminated by what Jesus’ light means to others, a light of love and of value.
This year’s Pride Parade was far more emotional for me and took a deeper toll on my heart and my physical body. The scriptures I read would never describe Jesus or His followers standing on the street and calling women whores, disgusting, unworthy of value and men sissy, ugly, pathetic, and sick. The Jesus in the Bible I hold dear was radical and like Michael Kimpan, the Associate Director of The Marin Foundation, pointed out in the retelling of the story of the woman caught in adultery, that before we as “Christians” can begin to pass any type of “judgments” we must have first risked our reputations and our lives by standing in solidarity, protection and in between the accusers.
I am satisfied in knowing that I made a conscious choices along with others from The Marin Foundation to stand as a shield, a buffer, to block a very unGodly account of scripture and Jesus. We are not to be a stumbling block for our brothers and sisters to find Christ. In these moments as culture shifts swiftly, we as followers of Jesus must remember what it means to be radical in our love...
Much Love
A perfectly tarnished child of God

Thursday, April 18, 2013

When Abortion Became Real

Another hot button issue in our country is of course abortion. I must admit that I am in most accounts Pro-life and always have been. My faith and my moral framework have shaped this as a choice for me. I however, do understand that there are times when very serious decisions need to be made with regards to the health of the mother, the baby, the way in which the pregnancy has been conceived and those decisions should be made and left up to the woman, the mother, and perhaps in conjunction with her partner, husband, boyfriend, one night stand etc.

However, in our journey to conceive and in this new chapter of considering adoption, abortion becomes much more real and close to my heart. My husband and I understand that in order for us to be a mommy and a daddy we are asking for a women to be courageous enough to face the cruelty of this world, the stares, the questions, and the talking behind her back and than make the ultimate sacrifice of unconditional love by giving Andrew and I her baby to raise and to love. In the pain of our infertility journey I couldn't imagine the anguish that a woman must go through in making the choice of adoption for her child and this is the journey that Andrew and I are on if we are to have a family.

A few weeks ago in a very bizarre and round about way Andrew and I were made aware of a single women in her early forties who found out she was pregnant. We came to find out through a family member that she is an incredibly successful woman and has dedicated her life to building her career and completing higher levels of education. In all ways she should be celebrated in her accomplishments and commended in her success; we as women know that climbing the corporate ladder can be quite difficult and in many cases much harder. I am not in anyway taking away from her success or her choices in remaining single and making the life choices which were best for her within her goals. In fact, I am a champion of celebrating the diversity of women and the choices we are able to make which hopefully fulfill and enhance our life experiences. Of course being a Christian, I am hoping that within these choices is the calling a woman feels upon her life.

Which, takes us back to the story, Andrew and I learned that this woman had scheduled an abortion appointment and canceled and then scheduled a second and canceled it again. I don't know what was or who was influencing her to cancel these appointments she just did. This is where Andrew and I learned of her and her pregnancy. We were given a phone number and we made a call to one of her family members. We both had no idea how the person on the other end was going to react as this was a really uncomfortable and incredibly emotional phone call to make... "Um hi we heard that one of your family members is pregnant and we were given you number and we want to share our story and see if your family member would be willing to adopt her baby to us..." Yeah, it was pretty much that crazy and that vulnerable.

The woman on the other end listened to our story and cried with us as we shared our journey and our desire to be parents. She listened as we described our deep understanding that our "normal" was going to be a bit different than other peoples normal. That our family structure was going to look a bit different than other family structures. We also understood and do understand as best we can the incredible gift and sacrifice we are asking of her family member and that we would honor her in the amount of involvement she and they would want to have in the community which would love and raise this little baby.

In the course of the conversation we learned a bit more about the family member who was pregnant. She was in her early forties and successful. She never wanted to have children and that this pregnancy was completely unplanned and a total shock and surprise. *Although, PSA, if you do the deed between a man and a woman the possibility is always there no matter how much precaution you take*

We learned that this woman set an abortion appointment right away, but for some reason decided to cancel it. She than researched about pregnancy in your early forties and found out about all the enhanced risk that a woman and a baby may face so she set an OBGYN appointment to check on the viability and health of the baby. She did all the tests including those that carry their own high risk and it came back that she was carrying a healthy baby girl. The woman on the phone, the pregnant woman's family member, indicated that this was potentially a way to help make the abortion decision easier, but it turned out possibly to make it more difficult as she learned she was carrying a healthy baby girl. The woman again made an appointment for an abortion and canceled. The woman on the phone said that adoption had been discussed with the pregnant woman, but she was adamant about not wanting to do an adoption because she felt very strongly about not being able to carry a baby for nine months and then give it away. Even though according to the family member on the phone she repeatedly said she didn't want the baby or children.

The family member on the phone asked if we would write our story and send her an email with some pictures. Andrew and I agreed and we sat on a Sunday evening and wrote out our story. It took us some time as we needed time to process our emotions, to cry a bit, to be angry a bit, and to hope a bit. We wanted to make sure we told the woman, who was pregnant, that we understood that what we are asking of her is unfair and would require courage and sacrifice. We also wanted to make sure that no matter her decision she was still valued.

We sent the letter, our story, our hopes, our dreams, and our desires to be a mommy and a daddy to this stranger who was hopefully going to have a moment to share it with her pregnant family member. We carefully chose pictures hoping they showed that we were fun, adventurous, but also cautious. Pictures that hopefully represented who we were and the potential life this little baby girl could have with Andrew and I. When the send button was pushed I felt numb... I still feel numb...

We haven't heard anything from either women. We don't know if the abortion took place, if there has been any opportunity to share our story, but I still hope...

My prayers have sounded a bit like this:

Lord, please be with this woman as she must on her own make this incredibly difficult decision. Please surround her with people who will give her support no matter what. Lord, you know the desire of my heart, that I would love to be blessed with this little baby girl. That Andrew and I would love her with all of hearts and every bit of our being. Lord, please protect this little girl. Let her continue to grow strong. Lord, if this woman does choose to abort this little girl, I pray that you rejoice as you welcome a new angel into your kingdom. Lord, protect my heart as I want so badly to hope for the most unlikely possibility. Let me remain realistic and let my prayers reflect that as well. Lord, please be with this woman no matter the choice. If she chooses to continue with this pregnancy, Lord please give her courage, if she chooses to terminate this pregnancy please Lord, give her peace. Lord, I pray that you give the family member an opportunity to share our story with this woman, that she reads our story and gives us an opportunity to share it with her. My heart is broken and I do desire to be a mommy and would love to be the mommy to this little girl.

Adoption is an unimaginable set of circumstances which require very different people to make very courageous choices. My adoption journey is just beginning and I am trying to prepare my heart and myself for the journey ahead. I know I will make an incredible mommy one day and will adore, treasure, love and cherish the woman that blesses me with that opportunity.