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Friday, September 7, 2018

Thoughts on Masterpiece Cake Shop


As I was reading once again about the intersection between anti-discrimination laws, free exercise of religion, and freedom of speech publicized by the back and forth between Masterpiece Cake Shop, some of its potential customers, and the State of Colorado; I was reminded of something that Jesus once said.

Matthew 5:38-6:6
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
 
I will not be thinking about this issue from the perspective of law, or our American definition of freedom of religion or speech…but from the perspective of our God’s expectations. Jesus lays out some world inverting thoughts here in his Sermon on the Mount. Our knowledge of how God ordered the world, and his definition of good and evil, allows us to live as God intended, which is a great blessing. We are doubly blessed to live in a community that uses many of these definitions in our government; thereby ensuring a more just government than most places in the world.

But what happens when our community doesn’t share those definitions? How do we respond when our neighbors or the government want to punish us for living according to God’s definitions? Do we declare those who would persecute us the enemy and hate them? Do we try to force them to our views and refuse to conduct business with those who don’t comply?

Jesus has an answer for this in the above passage. Do not resist.

I’ll repeat it because it probably didn’t sink it. Do not resist. Offer your other cheek to be abused. Let the person suing you take MORE than he asks. Give of your time and effort twice what is demanded of you. Don’t refuse to provide resources.

“But wait a minute!”, I hear you say. Aren’t we supposed to be the light of the world? Aren’t we supposed to be showing the world the TRUTH? How can we let them declare that what is EVIL is actually GOOD without resisting them? How can we allow obviously evil people to use our government to force us to personally sacrifice for them?

And yet, Jesus said, “Do not resist.” And not only that, he said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”

Here, I’ll close that jaw for you.

This is not what we want to do, and is not what the ‘conservative American christian’ thinks is appropriate. We must ‘win’ the culture war, or so I’m told. But what does ‘winning’ mean? Are we really sure that Jesus’ words here are applicable to the cake shop situation? Someone actively trying to troll me into working and producing product that I know will be used to celebrate evil is something that I must resist, right?

First, let’s examine what Jesus says in his discourse. “...and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles…” I am told that the occupying Roman army could force anyone to carry their equipment for a mile. This would apply on the Sabbath or at any time. Let’s look at that Sabbath case, as I think it has interesting parallels to the Cake debate. Carrying that pack on the day of rest would be a clear violation of the law. It would be a visible and clear celebration of the Roman occupation of the Holy Land. And yet, Jesus says to go twice the distance. Not to do it grudgingly but to go into territory that other Jews would say was collaboration with the enemy. How could this be justifiable?

What is the purpose of the Sabbath? Jesus himself worked on the Sabbath to perform healings, yet his most important healings did not concern the physical body. They concern the healing of the relationship between sinners and God. Jesus came not for the righteous, but for sinners. On several occasions, he entered cities and stayed with the most notorious criminals in town. He was especially noted for being the companion of sexual sinners. It would seem that he actually loved his enemies, and prayed for those who would and did persecute him. 

To Jesus, establishing and displaying the power of the gospel was more important than the appearance of righteousness. We are told that the best way to encourage righteousness is to criminalize unrighteousness. We are told that we must shun the sinner and punish them so that they will learn the truth. But Jesus gives us a different way. He says that if we only love those who love us…we are no better than the rest of the sinners. If we are to be ‘sons of your Father in heaven’, then we must behave as he behaved towards our persecutors.

But why is this important?

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them…” Our behavior is often motivated by a desire to be seen as righteous. We take great pains to ensure that our public life is that of a righteous person. But how often is it our righteous image that calls people to repentance? Is our following of the law the path to other people’s salvation? Obviously not.

Can we, in our zeal for public professions of righteousness, erect barriers to our neighbors seeing the gospel? Consider the example of the Pharisees throughout the gospels. They were outwardly righteous, and took great pride in their ability to remain separated from the world. Yet they were utterly incapable of helping others to know God…because they were hypocrites. They didn’t love their neighbor. They didn’t follow God because they loved God, but followed their rules because they loved themselves. We often do what is right not because we love God…but because we love being seen to be righteous. This is how we can think that refusing to do business with our neighbor is righteous when he demands that we provide resources for his sin.

God, on the other hand, sees our hypocritical heart. He also sees our refusal to take an opportunity to love a fellow sinner and to share God’s love and gospel with them. What is more important? Being seen to be righteous? Or effectively sharing the gospel?

The reality is that the only power that can change sinners is the gospel. We will never be able to legislate sin from our community. The law cannot bring about righteousness; it only brings knowledge of sin. We must always remember that the truth of the knowledge of sin must be paired with the love and relationship of the gospel. Sometimes, when evil people come to abuse us we are being offered an opportunity to show how God loves even sinners. Sometimes, we are called to suffer so that others can see real love and the gospel in action.

We should not think ourselves exempt from the expectation to suffer as Jesus did for us. When the opportunity comes along, let us take up our cross and follow Christ. Not for the glory of martyrdom, but because doing so is obedient to his expectation of us, glorifies him, and communicates his gospel in the most effective manner. For only the gospel could motivate such selfless love.

Let us, therefore, be less concerned with our appearance of righteousness; and more concerned with the effectiveness of our communication of the gospel.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Piece of the Puzzle

“Knowing a disappointing truth is better than wondering forever.” -Unknown

Over the course of over five years, I have been pregnant only two times. Only one of those babies do we get to hold this side of heaven. In more than over two years of trying since our miscarriage, there has not been a single positive test. Two years is a long time to go with no definitive answers. But that might be about to change.

At the beginning of the year, we found that my thyroid needed a little help to do its job (aka hypothyroidism). Even once the medication dosage was figured out, that treatment did not seem to be improving our fertility problems. My doctor began to suggest IUI might be a good option for us as there seemed to be no explanation for our issues and everything appeared to be fine. However, we didn't feel the same way and were still concerned that there might be underlying health issues that could be missed in jumping to such “solutions”.

In June, we decided to contact a clinic that specializes in solving fertility problems naturally, a place several friends of mine had visited and experienced success in addressing health issues that then led to healthy pregnancies. The Pope Paul VI Institute (PPVI) is an international leader in developing and practicing Natural Procreative Technology (NaProTechnology) and happens to be located just one hour away in Omaha, Nebraska. Our first appointment was set for early August and we began tackling the required preliminaries before that meeting, namely learning the Creighton model of fertility tracking (CrMS). It was frustrating that they wouldn't see us until 60 days after we started using CrMS but, looking back, I can see now how much information it has added to the discussion. It still frustrates me at times, as my perfectionist nature wants everything to be “right”, but I'm learning to trust my judgement more now, three months into it.

Since that first appointment, a battery of tests including bloodwork and ultrasounds have occurred and, later this fall in October, I will have a diagnostic laparoscopic surgery. Even before the testing officially began, it simply felt good to be doing something, to have a plan to discover any underlying health issues, even if it meant becoming a human pincushion and driving to Omaha every day for six days straight for ultrasounds. But all of this may have already turned up at least one piece of the puzzle…

LUFS

It's an acronym I hadn't heard before, even amongst friends that also struggle with infertility issues. It stands for “luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome” and is not terribly common. Information from PPVI says they see it in only 15% of cases where women have regular cycles but still struggle with infertility. Basically, my body will give every sign that a cycle is normal and that I'm ovulating. Basal body temperature, cervical mucus, and even ovulation predictor tests will all look like everything is functioning normally. But when observed through ultrasound, we can see that, while my ovary may develop a follicle, that follicle will not rupture to release the egg.

Being me, I immediately dove into research, reading abstracts of any medical papers I could find that referenced LUFS (yay for PubMed). LUFS was first described in 1978 and can only be diagnosed with laparoscopic surgery or daily ultrasounds around the time of ovulation (how we found mine). Clomid alone, seemingly one of the most popular first steps with doctors when facing infertility, is actually one of the least effective treatment for LUFS.

We haven't met with the doctor yet and probably won't form an actual treatment plan until all the testing is done and we have a complete picture (there's a possibility PCOS is involved as well in all this). But at least for now, it feels satisfying to just have one piece. I'm grateful we don't have to wonder forever.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Shirt

I feel like I can't keep this kid in clothes! Every time I turn around, something is too short, too snug, or just plain too small! It's gotten to the point that when I do his load of laundry each week, I pull out at least one, if not more, pieces of clothing that don't fit (this week, I think I pulled out at least 6).

I've been trying to go through his drawers more regularly of late and rotate out the things I know don't fit. Then I'll pull out things that are the next size larger and move them into rotation. He won't be 4 for another 2 months but I've been removing all the 3T items pretty consistently in favor of 4T and even a good amount of 5T.

That is, except for one shirt...

In the bottom of the back corner of his drawer of shirts, there lives a single 2T shirt. A shirt I know without a shadow of a doubt doesn't fit him. A shirt he only got to wear a couple times over the course of 6 weeks. This shirt.


Until a couple months ago, this shirt was still in his drawer. It lived there for 21 months. Months during which he's told us time and again how he wants another baby (lately it's been a baby sister specifically). Months where he will cradle a stuffed animal or baby doll and call them his baby. It stayed there long after every other 2T shirt was packed away and some 3T too. It stayed there through changing seasons and passing years.

I finally removed it. It was time.

Technically, it was way past time for that shirt to go but it finally came time when I came to terms with that reality. When I came to terms with the fact that removing that shirt did not mean I was removing hope. Because I still have hope.

Hope every month that, even after 2 years of disappointment, I might still get to take a test and see a positive result.

Hope that I'll be able to give my boy the big brother book I still have stashed away for him.

Hope that someday this picture will become a reality and not just playing pretend.

However, my hope isn't in modern medicine, though I avail myself of it. My hope isn't in my cycle charts, though I appreciate all the information they afford me. Because my hope is not in me...

My hope is in the One who time and again has proven Himself faithful; who multiple times provided the miracle of a child to many women throughout the Bible; who is sovereign over even the smallest parts of my body.

"O Lord of hosts, if you will...remember me and not forget your servant..." quoted from 1 Samuel 1:11

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you." Psalm 39:7

While I certainly hope and pray daily for a certain outcome in my life, I know that the One who is my Hope transcends even these circumstances and that He is good even if the desired outcome doesn't come. My Hope is not in vain, even when the shirts keep getting outgrown and the tests keep coming out negative. So I continue to hope and pray, for my God is a God of miracles and worthy of my trust.
"Though He slay me, I will hope in him..." Job 13:15a

"For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth." Psalm 71:5

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tinybeans

I love sharing photos of my Munchkin with friends and family. However, I know sometimes that not everyone wants to see ALL my pictures and that there are inherent security concerns with sharing photos of young children to a wide audience. Also, I'm very much aware that I could be prone to oversharing with very little effort. :) Enter Tinybeans...

I'm really thankful a friend of mine introduced me to Tinybeans. (Thanks, Danielle!) The app allows you to upload daily photos that are then only shared with the people you've added to your distribution list! It limits who is seeing your photos and allows you to give specific permissions to access the journal so you can allow a spouse or grandparent to add photos as well. One of the best things is your friends and family don't need to even download the app! They'll get summary emails send to them each day you upload and they can also access everything and even upload photos (if allowed) through the Tinybeans website (www.tinybeans.com). They can even "heart" moments you share that they love and leave comments!

We've chosen to stick with the free, basic version for now but there is also a premium version. A couple of the differences are with the free version you can only upload 1 photo at a time and videos are limited to 30 seconds. Premium users are allowed longer videos and multiple simultaneous uploads. You can try a free month of Premium access here (and I'll get a month too!): https://tinybeans.app.link/JN85UDpXZz?referralCode=4EYEEY

I have been sharing this little tidbit with many of the new parents in my life. It has been immeasurably helpful in our lives, especially with family scattered across the country. We want them to be able to see our Munchkin as he grows up and with Tinybeans they get a glimpse of just that. It also allows me to share all the photos I want without anyone complaining about "oversharing"! ;)

If you have a little one and want to send pictures to family, especially if they live far away, I highly recommend using Tinybeans!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

This is in no way, shape, or form a sponsored post. I just love it that much! :)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book review: "The Magic of Motherhood"

I really enjoy reading encouraging blogs that my friends have found or that others have shared with me. Many times they have reminded me that I'm not alone in the trenches of mothering a little one and that what I'm feeling is not crazy (well, except maybe when I am actually feeling a little crazy). There is a lot of truth in the CS Lewis quote:
Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one." 
"The Magic of Motherhood" is exactly like this. It's a whole book full of "What? You too?" moments. Written by the moms behind the blog "Coffee + Crumbs", the 33 entries span the experiences of motherhood. There are stories both joyful and sorrowful, recollections of "mommy guilt" and of hard-fought battles won. It is a beautiful gift-style book with beautiful images to complement some of the memorable moments shared within its pages.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened this book. Sure, the subtitle was "The Good Stuff, the Hard Stuff, and Everything in Between" but I still didn't know if it would meet me where I was. However, it didn't take long for me to experience the "what? you too?" feeling as I delved into stories that resonated with me, especially concerning miscarriage or insecurity as a mom. I laughed and cried then laughed some more as I connected with truths about this crazy thing called motherhood and was reminded of the importance in sharing our stories. After all, you never know when someone needs to know they are not the only one. You might even make a new friend ;)

Rating: 5/5 stars!!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Meghan

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”