To Christian Supporters of Tax-Payer Funded Abortions and Abortion Rights…

Every single one of the top 10 Democratic presidential candidates supports the current policy of abortion on demand. Additionally, each of those ten also believes that all tax-paying Americans should fully fund abortions in the U.S. and around the world. One would think that taxpayers, including liberals, conservatives, non-religious, (and especially Christ-followers) would join together in opposing such propositions. Instead, when conservative Christians state our opposition to this type of use of (what I actually believe to be misuse of) tax dollars, we are accused (even by liberal-leaning Christians) of being one-issue voters who are “cherry-pickers” when it comes to being pro-life. We are accused of loving the death penalty, endless wars, putting kids in cages, etc. HUH?????

I won’t take the bait when it comes to equating abortion with immigrant children being detained at the border. Do I though think that the border situation is worthy of discussion? Yes, of course. Do I know that current border practices have occurred under and been accepted by both liberal and conservative administrations? Yes. Even if we agree that changes should be made at the border to improve conditions for the children and adults entering there, and even if we don’t agree on the death penalty or war or government-funded contraception or minimum wage, or other social issues, does that mean that we cannot agree that hard-earned tax dollars should not be used to fund abortions in America and around the world? 

Lila Rose, founder and President of Live Action

When pro-lifers assert that abortion is the killing of innocent human life and that the government should have laws against it and that the practice of abortion should not be funded by tax dollars, questions like these are fired back at us: “Have you adopted any children? If you’re really pro-life, shouldn’t you support all proposed government programs which pay for every need of the children of single mothers? Why is it that you only care about babies before birth, but not after they’re born? Why are you in favor of enforcing U.S. immigration and border laws?

In spite of all of the pro-choice arguments I’ve heard, my personal experience and ministry involvement over the years have shown me that conservative Christians have, more often than not, been the most generous and most consistent pro-life individuals of any. They donate their time and resources to support local food banks, youth shelters, juvenile detention centers, prisoners, families of prisoners, pregnancy support centers, children’s hospitals, needy families, and a host of other local needs in the community. Not only do they care for the needs of women and children and families locally, but they do so throughout the state, across the country, and abroad. The argument that pro-lifers stop caring for children after they’re born is complete and utter nonsense and a lie which can be easily debunked. I have been witness to the exact opposite on more occasions than I can remember.

The pro-choice movement, on the contrary, devalues life and dehumanizes the individual, thereby making it very dangerous. It is not a movement rooted in the best interests of women, and certainly not of children. When pro-choice activists oppose laws which require a pregnant woman to have the option of viewing a sonogram before her abortion or when they’ve opposed having adoption resources available at abortion clinics, it is obvious that the pro-choice movement is wicked.  It is a movement of death. It is impossible for Christians to consistently follow Christian teachings while supporting abortion rights. To claim to do so is making a very serious moral and scriptural error.

Live Action is a pro-life advocacy movement whose mission is to end abortion by leading the culture to embrace the rights and dignity of every person. Recently, Live Action produced an extremely informative and interesting video series in which Pro-Life Replies are given to Pro-Choice Arguments. Please watch this very worthwhile series….

Live Action video series: Pro-Life replies given to Pro-Choice arguments

HOPE NUGGET: Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself [Isaiah 44:24].

The Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

Its taste is described as a cross between a banana and a mango. Even though the pawpaw is the largest edible fruit native to the United States and can be found growing in the wild in 26 states, not many people have heard of or tasted a pawpaw. Last weekend at Lake Snowden in Albany Ohio, I attended the 21st Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival with my husband and son. After several years of talking about making the 3 1/2-hour drive west, we finally coordinated our schedules and made plans to attend the first of the three-day event.

The festival far surpassed our expectations. Chris Chmiel, founder of Integration Acres, gave an informative pawpaw presentation and led a walkabout in which he helped us to identify pawpaw trees in the wild. We learned the proper way of opening and eating the creamy custard-like sweet fruit. We learned that pawpaws are very nutritious and high in Vitamin C. Did you know that George Washington’s favorite dessert was chilled pawpaw?

Many activities and booths were available at the festival where there was something for everyone. There was the Pawpaw Cook-off, the Pawpaw Eating Contest, sustainable living workshops, music, booths of all sorts – food, crafts, art, history, education, lots of activities for the kids and even a talk about Bigfoot sightings! In addition to fresh pawpaw fruit, we enjoyed eating pawpaw ice cream, pawpaw bread and pawpaw chicken adobo. With so many food booth choices, we didn’t get the chance to try pawpaw cotton candy, pawpaw cookies, pawpaw funnel cake, pawpaw burritos or pawpaw waffle-on-a-stick! Maybe next year!

If you would like to learn more about pawpaws, the book “Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit” by Andrew Moore is highly recommended by my husband. A portion of the book’s description reads: “As much as Pawpaw is a compendium of pawpaw knowledge, it also plumbs deeper questions about American foodways―how economic, biologic, and cultural forces combine, leading us to eat what we eat, and sometimes to ignore the incredible, delicious food growing all around us. If you haven’t yet eaten a pawpaw, this book won’t let you rest until you do.”

Until last weekend’s festival, I had no idea that I was missing out on a delicious and healthy fruit! Because of that trip, we now have 2 pawpaw trees planted and growing in our back yard. We’re looking forward to the day when they bear fruit. My introduction to pawpaws reminded me of a time, decades ago, when I was introduced to Christ and made the decision to follow Him and to walk in His ways. If I wouldn’t have been willing to “taste and see” by putting my hope and trust in Him, I would have never fully realized His goodness. How about you? Are you willing to taste and see that He is good?

HOPE NUGGET: Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! [Psalm 34:8]

A Song of Thanks

Do you ever wake up singing in the morning? One day last week, I did. It wasn’t something that happened consciously, so I can’t take credit for it. It wasn’t even a day that I was especially excited about or necessarily looking forward to. That particular day meant that summer break for me had officially ended. The realization had come that we would not be together again as a family with our kids and granddaughters until Christmas break. It meant that once again I’d need to set my alarm clock and head back to my job with an inservice meeting in the morning. It was a bummer. All of it. “Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul….” I wasn’t singing when I lay down in bed the night before. Instead, I had been feeling sad because the summer months had passed by so quickly and I was anxious about the start of another school year.

God has a way of changing our outlook. He has a way of turning our sadness and our anxieties into joy. Sometimes He does so in unexpected and surprising ways, even when we’ve set our minds to looking at our situations negatively. Sometimes He needs to remind us of where our focus should be. Sometimes He uses a song to do that. “Thank you Lord for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making me whole. Thank you Lord for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich and free.”

It’s an older chorus which we used to sing years ago, a song which I usually don’t sing and which never even really comes to mind. But on that day last week, it came out of nowhere. It came as a reminder that I should be dwelling on all of the reasons to be thankful, especially of being thankful for God’s great salvation. When you wake up singing a song with that kind of meaning, your perspective changes. It just has to. And it changes the entire course of your day. And of the days that follow… Thank you, Lord.

HOPE NUGGET: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. [1 Peter 1: 3-4a]

Unmerited Blessings

After picking fresh blueberries this week, I decided today to use some to make homemade waffles. My sweet granddaughters and I enjoyed pulling out the Charlie Brown & Snoopy Waffle Maker box and preparing waffles in the shapes of Peanuts characters. Food always seems to taste better when it’s fun to prepare and when it looks appealing!

Grammy & the girls picked blueberries and made waffles!!!

The waffle maker brought back a memory from a few years ago. I had received an unexpected package in the mail and remember wondering what it could be. Upon opening the box, I was surprised by the gift of the waffle maker. It was a thoughtful and kind gesture from a young man who had become a special friend to our family. He knew that I was a big fan of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts characters, so he’d taken the time to shop for a gift that he knew I’d enjoy and that I would put to use.

A Special Surprise!!!

Not only do we like the Peanuts characters, but our family likes homemade waffles too! It’s a special gift for those reasons, but is also special in a way that our friend probably doesn’t even realize…each time it is used it reminds us of the special young man who God brought into our lives. A young man who, even though from another country and another culture, and who speaks Chinese as his primary language, has crossed those barriers and shared the blessing of his life and his family with ours. Why? To build friendships, to show love and kindness to us.

God did that, and so much more for us. He crossed barriers to reach us. He left his sinless heavenly home to enter this sin-filled earth so that a bridge could be made. A bridge that was built with the cross of Christ. On the cross, Christ, once and for all, removed the barrier between God and sinful man. He made it possible for man to have a relationship with God. A possibility, a choice, made available to man from a holy and loving God. Through grace, He has provided this gift to all, to any who will receive. It is the will of God that none should perish, but that all should come to Him in repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Will you receive the gift that He is offering you today?

HOPE NUGGET: But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

The Faith of a Child

When he was just a month old, my husband and I dedicated our second-born son to the Lord before the congregation of Neighborhood Assembly of God Church in Okinawa Japan. In the ceremony conducted by our pastor, Charles W. Butterfield, we made a commitment that we were serious about fulfilling….to raise our son in the Christian faith and to do our best to teach Him to love, serve and follow Jesus. 

Fast forward seven years to Blue Springs Assembly of God Church in Missouri. Our little “spitfire,” as Pastor Jeff Kelderman referred to him, was now seeking permission from us to be baptized. He had witnessed others make the commitment to follow Christ and subsequently confess their faith publicly through baptism. Our tradition of faith holds to what is called “believer’s baptism,” baptism which is based on one’s profession of faith in Christ. Our little guy, without any prompting, had made that profession. He was now persistent in his desire to be baptized. We knew that he was young, but after his continual requests, we spoke to Pastor Jeff who saw no reason to hold him back.

Parenthood is extremely challenging. It’s scary and stressful and exhausting. Flawed parents raising flawed children. But it’s worth it. Every moment. Thanks be to God, parenting is also very rewarding. When you catch a glimpse of your child in his room with his little hands raised in the air and eyes closed while worshipping God to a Michael W. Smith song or when as a third grader, he asks to sing a worship song in front of the church congregation, you whisper a prayer of thanks to God. When you have the privilege of watching him become a godly man who, with his wife, are raising their two little girls in the Christian faith, you thank God for His faithfulness to His promises.

We realized early on as parents that even young children are able to comprehend simple and sometimes deeper truths of the Bible and that we should not underestimate them. God has a way of speaking to their hearts and He certainly has the ability to impart faith in them. There is no greater responsibility for Christian parents than to teach their children the word of God and to keep the Christian faith the priority of the home and of their lives. Children are capable of learning and understanding the things of God so much so that Jesus even presented them as examples of the type of faith that adults should have. In Matthew 18:3, He said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

HOPE NUGGET: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. [Proverbs 22:6]

God’s Glowsticks

Yesterday started out in a quite unusual way. I was privileged at being invited to meet a newly discovered family member, not something which I’ve ever before experienced! This young man and his wife had traveled from several states away and were taking the time to meet and get to know family that until recently didn’t even know they had. On my way to meet them, a bit of nervousness set in. Would conversation be easy or would it be awkward? Would I know the right things to say to help them feel comfortable and accepted or would I blow it by being a goofball? Immediately upon entering the room where we’d spend the next hour looking at family pictures and sharing family history, I knew that our visit together would be good. This young couple was friendly and greeted me with warm smiles. It was as though they had always been family. Well, in a sense they had been. An unexpected gift from God, blessings to our family. Blessings that, without God’s intervention, would have remained unknown.

Last night as I settled into my spot on the back porch and pondered the day’s happenings, the final rays of the sun setting in the west were steadily replaced by fireflies (lightning bugs, as we refer to them here in southwestern Pennsylvania). God’s little glowsticks are always welcomed as they come out to visit on warm summer evenings. The sights and sounds of an early July summer evening in our small town are predictable and typical. All varieties of fireworks can be heard and seen coming from every direction, some faint in the distance and others as close as the backyards of nearby neighbors.

Fireworks, snap pops, glowsticks. There’s just something special about them that capture my attention. The sounds. The colors. The lights. They’re mesmerizing. An assortment of glowsticks can usually be found in our home, ready to be put to use. As a child, glowsticks weren’t available on the market, but I was fascinated by the natural glowsticks that God provided so would capture them and place them in a jar with a lid poked full of breathing holes. I would stare at those little creatures which provided hours of entertainment as they showed off alternating their display of lights.

It was a day that had overflowed with blessings, glowsticks from God. Special people and special moments that brighten your day, evidences of God’s handiwork in this world. What ended as a typical day in the first week of July had certainly not begun in typical fashion. A young man and his wife who, much like those lightning bugs, drew me in with their warmth and glow. Blessings. Blessings of light and of life. God’s glowsticks.

Hope nugget: 

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… (James 1:17)

The Storm

View from our window of Typhoon Dinah, Okinawa, 1987

November 1990, Okinawa Japan. Back then, I was a young Army wife and mother of 2 little boys. The service-members and families stationed on the small subtropical island in the Pacific were on edge, anxious about what we were being told might come. No, this time it wouldn’t be another tropical storm or typhoon (the name for a hurricane in the Pacific) that we’d spend days preparing for and weathering through. This time it would be saying goodbye to our guys – our husbands, our fathers. We had followed the news of the buildup for months, daily watching the departure of more and more troops from the peace and tranquility of life as we knew in the Far East. And with the steady buildup of American and allied troops in the Middle East, we wondered if we were ultimately saying our final goodbyes. The end of the world, or so it seemed at the time.

My soldier, the father of my sweet boys, when presented with the question of volunteering his advanced training in communications to serve in Saudi Arabia, bravely and dutifully answered with a Yes. A man of character and honor. A staff sergeant, known for his strong leadership, commitment to God, his country, and his family and to serving them well. He would pack up and travel to the other side of the world just weeks before Christmas, where he’d join with other honorable service-members in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, a country and culture as far removed from our island life as could be.

I was left alone. Left alone with my fears and the uncertainty of what Desert Shield would mean for our family. Left alone with the task of comforting a 3 year old who cried every day for weeks for his daddy. Left alone with a 5 year old who was adjusting to his first year of attending school in a Kindergarten class at Zukeran Elementary. Left alone to find a way to adjust to the responsibility of running a household with just the 3 of us. For how long? Only God knew.

The buildup to The Storm continued, until mid-January 1991, when combat operations officially began. Would it lead to Armageddon, to World War III, as news reporters implied? Those questions did not go unnoticed by young military wives whose husbands were right smack in the middle of it all. I’m sure the anxiety was felt by our family members back in the states as well. 

Yet, was I alone? Was I reaalllyyyy alone? God had provided me with a wonderful church family, good neighbors, and a support group of “left behind” wives of other branches of the military. Then there was God. The One, the only One who broke through to calm my fears and who spoke to me so audibly it was as if the words were uttered directly from His mouth. Words that referred to my soldier, the guy who by way of military travel through the U.S., was over 14,000 miles away….

My Hope Nugget from God:

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you…No man shall be able to stand before you…I will be with you…Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (portions of Joshua 1: 3, 5, 9)

June 1991

The Hands of Time Don’t Move in Reverse

Many years and untold hours were spent with this view before me. When I walk by on a day like today, the fields stand empty and silent. But I am reminded of those past times here…watching, cheering, clapping, laughing, shouting instructions (hopefully not too often), consoling and encouraging upon defeat or rejoicing in the victories with an “atta-boy,” high-five or pat on the back.

Those were the days. The days that you thought (though you knew better deep down) would never end. Busy, fun, exhausting, meaningful days. Anyone reading these words already knows that life goes whooshing by, just about as fast as a hard-kicked soccer ball toward the net. Unlike a good soccer player who blocks the ball, none of us has the ability to slow down life. As much as we so desire. As much as we may try.

The best advice from those like me who have already experienced numerous seasons of life, is to enjoy each season while you’re there. Don’t look so far ahead that you miss out on the blessings in the here and now. I remember sharing this sentiment with one of my sons at a time when he was becoming impatient about “getting on with life” while in college.

As much as we all would like to have the power to turn back time, at least a bit, it just won’t work. The hands of time don’t move in reverse. Whatever season of life you are privileged to be in right now, make the most of it. Enjoy it. Love and serve God and others. You won’t have this moment again.

Hope nuggets:

*Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)

*Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were big things. (Robert Brault, author)