Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reality: Serve My Event or Be Served.

So, I have been going to the same baker for five years.  He makes the most amazing cupcakes and cookies.  His cakes are to die for.  I sort of wish I never knew about his shop, because I would be a lot thinner.  It is that awesome.

I went in and asked him to make me a cake for our church's 100th year anniversary that was decorated with the words, "Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for 100 Years!"

He said, "I really appreciate your business and thank you for your confidence in my baking.  I can't make that cake for you, though.  I really wouldn't feel comfortable celebrating that particular event due to my own beliefs.  I hope you can understand, but I would love to see you back next week for your weekly cupcake."

OK, so that didn't really happen.  Truth is, I don't know any bakers personally, although I wish I did.
I might be a lot happier with all the cupcakes...

I am just trying to make sense of a thought-process I don't understand -

The one that says, "Every person in the world has to accept and celebrate every single aspect of my life, and if they choose to be against something about my character or identity, their company still has to make cakes for my events celebrating that identity.  If they don't, I will sue them."

That way of thinking is just so foreign to me.  I would simply say to my baker, "Oh, ok, no problem."
It would not even cross my mind to consider suing someone over something like that.  Now, if they kicked me out of their bakery because I wore a crucifix around my neck or came in with my husband in his collar, well, then I might make a big stink over things to at least let others know that he was rude, inconsiderate, and hated Christians.

But because they wouldn't bake a cake for my church's anniversary?

I might even choose to stop buying my weekly cupcakes at his shop and go give my weekly money to someone who was more supportive of my lifestyle, but I certainly wouldn't use force to make him bake me a cake.

The only possible reason I can come up with in my brain for why I would choose to sue someone over this is because I wanted to make a mockery of them.  I wanted others to know how horrible I thought they were.  I didn't want anyone else to ever be turned down for that cake again.  I didn't want anyone to think it was okay to disagree with a Christian event for any reason.  And I really wanted that cake from that guy.  By his choice or by the force of court.

And it was worth ruining someone's whole lively hood to do so.
Chances are he would either have to make me that cake and go against what he had believed his whole life or quit selling cakes altogether.

And because of my anger over the injustice of someone not agreeing with this particular event in my life, it all seemed worth it.

And because of my anger, I don't even want that guy to have the right to defend himself in court over his beliefs.  Game. Set. Match.  Make me a cake for my church or go home.

If someone won't let me shop at their bakery because I am a Christian, that is one thing.  If someone won't make a cake for an event celebrating my Christianity, that is a totally different thing.

I will never understand why this world thinks those are the same two things...
And why our first inclination is to assume the worst about them, vilify them in public, and take them to court - no matter the cost to them.

And worse yet, why we would ever go searching out these non-Christian bakers so that we can then be denied services and prove to the world that we will stop at nothing to have someone bake us a cake for our church's anniversary.  Accept my faith or find another profession...just don't choose photography or catering or invitation designing or, you know, anything else, or we will be back.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reality: An open letter to the man who called me a bigot.

Dear Sir,

I write this, not for you, as I don't expect you will ever read it nor do I plan to respond in kind to your prods for an argument, but for those out there who fear speaking up in this world due to aggressive statements such as yours.

The truth is I believe marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman.  This is not a newly held belief, nor has it been contested in basically all of human history before about 50 years ago.  Although homosexual actions have been a part of human history for much longer, the institution of marriage has stayed the same.  My belief in this definition is not an easy one to talk about today.  I literally try to avoid talking about it - not because I am ashamed of it, but because no one gives anyone a chance to actually talk about it without writing them off as a "bigot" - to use your words.

So, since this is my own blog, and I can ramble on as long as my sleeping babies will let me, here are some things I assume you don't care to hear about from my perspective -

I love and respect many gay people whom I have personal relationships with, from some of the smartest people I have ever learned from to those I have shared some of my deepest secrets with.  Some of these people live in long-term relationships with people of the same sex and some actively choose to live celibate lives due to their personal convictions against homosexual acts.  The homosexual community and its members are as widely diverse as any other community.  There are those who want marriage to be defined differently, and those who agree marriage is a different union than what they share with their partners.  There is no one I feel worse for in this silencing-a-different-viewpoint society we have come to know in social media days as those from the homosexual community who struggle daily with their convictions against homosexuality.

I don't define marriage this way because I hate gay people or because I hope they live lonely, less-than lives.  My heart hurts because of the so-called Christians who wave, "God hates fags!" banners.  I know no Christians who do that.  The Christians I know actively try to love and serve their neighbors through the help of Christ.  They speak words of forgiveness and are humble and kind.  The seek to live quiet lives.

I define marriage this way because of the Bible, yes, but that isn't the only reason.  I also define marriage this way because children matter.  The biological necessity of the sexually complimentary organs of a man and woman for procreation defines marriage.  Marriage is good for society because it forms families.  It ties mothers and fathers to their children.  Have we terribly abused this institution?  Yes.  Are their children all over the world growing up with one mom or one dad or no parents at all?  Yes.  But that does not change the fact that the biologically best place for a child to grow is with the biological mother and father.  This is not only good for the child, but best for the society.  Marriages between men and women have the opportunity to produce children, thereby growing the society.  Marriages between men and women have the opportunity to raise children with their biological mothers and fathers, thereby raising future involved citizens.

And it is even hard for me to say that children are best with their biological mothers and fathers, because I, in fact, have a child who was adopted.  The idea that he would be better in a situation with his biological mother and father raising him is hard for me to swallow, but the fact is, he would not face some of the challenges he now will because of this loss.  It is a loss.  It was not a possibility for him to be under the care of his biological mother and father, and therefore, his birthmother made the amazing decision to choose a mother and father for him.  So, we all know he is, in fact, in the best place for him, given the circumstances.

But this does not mean that we should set up situations where the loss of a mother or a father is not only possible, but a necessity.  We should be fighting for the family, making changes to our culture that encourage families to remain together, and making the best decisions for our children.

My belief in marriage has nothing to do with me being a bigot.  A bigot is defined as one who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.  I fully recognize and even stated in our conversation that I see both sides of a law that protects religious freedoms of business owners.  The fact is, there will be people who try to misuse any law.  But we don't write laws to protect the people who will try to break them.  We write laws to protect our Constitution and the people of our great nation.  We write laws to protect our citizens from the fact that there are bigots in this world.  There are those who are utterly intolerant of anyone else's viewpoint.  Thereby, there are those who will do anything to coerce another into following their creed.  And that, we protect against.

Would I tolerate a gay couple being asked to leave a restaurant on account of their relationship?  By no means!  Would I tolerate abuse or public shaming of any individual for any reason?  By no means!  But I do respect the fact that a photographer may feel uncomfortable memorializing and celebrating an event that is against their religious convictions - whether that be a Christian photographer at a gay wedding or an atheist photographer at the ordination of a Christian pastor.  I would defend their right to say, "I can't photograph that event due to my convictions," any day.

To say that I am scared to post this would be an understatement.  The fact is, I am terrified.  I don't walk around this world looking for ways to coerce people or pass judgement.  I don't look around on social media, hoping for a way to shame people.  I attempt to live a quiet life and love my neighbor with the help of God.  I fail at this daily, and I truly apologize for any offense given or if I spoke unjustly.  It is my sincere prayer that we are able to live quiet lives while openly sharing the reason for the hope that is within us.

With regards,


Friday, March 13, 2015

Reality: Why Mommying is So Hard

When our first child was six weeks old, my husband turned to me in a quiet moment and said, "Can you believe we have kept him alive this long?"  I was pretty shocked by it, too, really.  I mean, come on, I had killed every plant I ever tried to grow (sorry Xanadu), and I only remembered to feed our cat because she is the single most annoying creature in the world for the hour or two before she is supposed to eat.  If it wasn't for her incessant meowing, well...  I digress.

I never considered myself a selfish person.  I look back now on that statement and laugh.

That is what kids do.  They show you how deeply selfish you really are.  And, man, am I ever glad they did that and keep doing it to me today.

It isn't about the number of kids.  I can say that with some wisdom behind my words at this point...three still being fed every day and surviving and one being fearfully and wonderfully made inside my belly as we speak.  Someday, I am sure I will read this statement and laugh at myself, too.  "HA!  I thought I had wisdom then?  I was just a pup."

Such is life.

One kid is hard.  You die to yourself and your own needs everyday just trying to figure out how to keep this human being alive!  You agonize over sleep patterns and feeding schedules and finding a balance in your relationship with your husband.  You find joy you never knew existed while yet feeling such aches of guilt and sorrow for not being the mom you always thought you would be.

Two kids are hard.  You die to yourself and your own needs everyday just trying to figure out how you will ever go anywhere outside your home ever again with all this stuff.  You agonize over two sleep patterns and contradicting feeding schedules and finding a balance in your relationship with your husband.  You find joy again that you never knew could extend past one while yet still feeling the aches of guilt and sorrow for not being the mom you always thought you would be.  And now you have two to screw up with.  The guilt grows.

Three kids are hard.  You die to yourself and your own needs everyday just trying to figure out how you can possibly hold all of their hands in the parking lot.  You forget about all the stuff, and just focus on the hands...do I have everyone's hands????  You agonize over three sleep patterns and rotating feeding schedules and finding a balance in your relationship with your husband.  You find joy in letting a little of yourself go again while yet still feeling those same aches of guilt.  There is now no possible way I can be the mom I always wanted to be to all of them.  I don't even have enough hands to hold their hands across the street!  The guilt grows.

Our fourth is still pretty self-sufficient in there, so I won't say I know four kids are hard, too.  But I can make a pretty educated guess that things aren't getting any easier around here anytime soon.  And because I am a human being, I am pretty sure the guilt will just keep growing right along with it.

Mommying is hard.  There are no employee appraisals, and yet everyday someone has something to say about the way you do it, the choices you made, the failures you inevitably had, and how they would have done it differently.  There are no awards, and yet everyday social media blasts you with pictures of everyone else doing it better than you (because really, how many of us post pictures of our bad moments?)

Mommying is hard because I am a sinner.
I look to myself for the strength and ability to do this.
I choose my own needs before others'.
I read blogs I shouldn't read with opinions I wish I didn't know about.
I covet praise.
I feel anger in my heart towards my children for not letting me do what I want to do.
I feel guilt for the anger in my heart.
I fail...every. single. day.

I am a sinner.  I was a sinner when I had one.  I was a sinner when I had two.  I am a sinner now with three.  And I can promise you I will be a sinner when the fourth arrives, too.

Mommying is so hard for the same reason every vocation is hard, because we are sinners.  The challenges are different, but the source of pain is the same.

But thanks be to God, the story doesn't end there.  Because even Jesus knelt in prayer with sweat-turned-blood, agonizing over the vocation He was given, asking that the cup be removed from Him.  But because of His love for us, He said, "Your will be done" to the Father, and took our place upon the cross.  He drank the whole cup of death so that we wouldn't.  He completely fulfilled His vocation so that when you don't, you have forgiveness through Him.

There is no greater peace than this in mommying.
So, keep on keeping on, Ladies, in the joy and peace of Christ.