Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Several Facets to Sanctity of Life

  • 400,000
Number of Sudanese who have died from violence or disease since the Darfur War began in 2003
  • 15 million
Number of children worldwide who have been orphaned by AIDS
  • 1.3 million
Average number of abortions per year in the US
  • $20,000
Average cost of infant adoption in the US
  • 1123
Number of people who have been executed in the United States since 1976
  • 16 million
Number of children in developing countries who die each year from preventable causes
  • 60
Percentage of those deaths that are due to hunger or malnutrition

I think each of these issues deserves our attention at any time - not just in an election year. I applaud those who champion a particular cause and who are so passionate about an issue that they do their best to educate the public about their stance. But I also applaud those who go beyond picketing and protesting and do their part to change the situation - whether it's through donations, volunteering, advocacy, education or mentoring.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe that true change can only happen by and through His direction and power. Politicians can reform laws, but the next group of leaders can reverse whatever temporary change was enacted. Organizations can offer aid relief, but their change, too, only addresses temporary situations.

I really feel this is where the church should be unified and focused: doing whatever we can to offer healing, forgiveness, restoration, hope and love. We should stop focusing on politics and start focusing on people. We should stop drawing lines of divisions and start reaching out a hand of reconciliation. And as God changes lives, we'll also see God overthrow injustices. And God desires to affect change that impacts all lives.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Secrets, secrets

I've been waiting for the right time to write this post, mostly because I'm not sure how some folks might react. But then I realized that we have a pretty amazing story to share and I shouldn't keep it quiet just because I might get some strange responses. First, though, here's the backstory.

December 1, 2001
I married R. Mike Conner, who would soon become my best friend. Within 6 months we decided to go ahead and try to start a family.

We had yet to conceive and underwent several infertility testing. Finally we received the news: it'd take a miracle for us to ever conceive a child without some kind of major medical intervention. This came as such a disappointment and we went through a grieving phase for at least a year. And to be honest, we also went through a stage of questioning God and His love.

spring 2004
We enlisted in our county's foster parent program with the hopes of getting a child we could eventually adopt. We received a toddler around March and were told prospects were good for us to eventually adopt. Unfortunately, this placing didn't work out and we "lost" our foster son in spring of 2005. There's much more to this story, but I'll sum it up by saying we were devastated. This threw us into a pit much worse than where we'd been before foster care, both emotionally and spiritually. It'd take us at least 2 years before we were willing to even think of trying adoption.

May 2008
We decided to meet with Bethany Christian Services to learn about their adoption program. During that meeting, the case worker asked if we had considered embryo adoption. Years ago I'd looked into it, but thought it was way too expensive. It was at this meeting that we learned about a fertility doctor in Knoxville, TN who had contracted with Bethany to offer embryo adoptions to couples who were cleared for adoption through Bethany. The best part: he viewed this as his ministry to save frozen embryos so he was offering to do up to 3 rounds of embryo transfers for a third of the cost that traditional fertility doctors charge.

So, here's the news. We met with the doctor in Tennessee this past week and have been cleared for their embryo transfer program. We also had our home study approved by Bethany the first of this month. Thus, we are now on track to have our first embryo transfer in 4 months. Yay!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

'rents recent visit

My mom and dad recently came to stay with us for about 10 days, and I had blast introducing them to Richmond and the surrounding areas. I definitely get my humor from them!

my mom and I getting fresh with a statue in Richmond

Mike and I near the James River

my parents in front of a replicated log cabin - 
he's trying to carry her across the threshold

here cow, cow, cow ... mooooo!

me and my sweetie

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Second View: God's Compassion vs. God's glory

Here is what I have had driven home to me lately.  Safety is an illusion.  Security is an illusion.  We talk about job security, financial security, etc.  That's all an illusion--some parents might say, "God didn't send us here to sacrifice our children for the souls of others." All of those thoughts, ideas, beliefs would make sense if it weren't for the fact that we could be taking a walk and a drunk driver swerves off the road onto the sidewalk and kills that child that we were going to protect. 
Security is an illusion because we only think in terms of the short view, or in other words, this life now.  What does all this have to do with Ester (her being a part of God's plan to redeem his people, yet another time is like the drunk driver for me).  God did not support sex trade, nor would he want anyone to have to endure what Ester endured.  However, evil does exist in the world along with the good.  Because of evil she found herself in her predicament.  But God--good--always trumps evil.  If I remember correctly the scripture says something like, "God has placed you here for just such a time as this."  Hebraically speaking, because the Jews were monotheist to the core everything was due to God.  It's like the guy who slammed his hand in the car door, went to the hospital and was able to tell someone about God. That man might say, "Thank you God for slamming my hand in the door!" when in reality it was his stupidity.

God can redeem any situation regardless of what it is or how it comes about, to draw his people to himself and/or provide a way of rescue. 
Your struggle is a struggle that all of us who take the bible seriously are constantly sorting things out because they don't fit the schemes that we have been taught.  The cool thing is the mystery that surrounds God.  We can't dissect his word like a frog in biology lab which is sort of what modernity did with scripture, God, the whole deal.  Cause and effect, scientific, objective evidence, all were tools that modernists have used to try and figure it all out--and consequently, not allowing for mystery--the mystery of God.

Two Views on Same Question

I've been trying to sort out a revelation that occurred to me earlier this week, and thought I'd offer two views on the same issue. This first post is my initial thoughts regarding the issue/question. The next post will feature the insights of a person who has become sort of a mentor/sounding board for when I encounter these issues.

So I had this spiritual “aha” moment yesterday and it’s kind of thrown me for a loop. I’ve been thinking about blogging about it, but I can’t think of any title other than, “God and the Sex Trade.” See, I was reading a book by McManus in which he discusses the story of Esther. He points out that this Old Testament story isn’t a romantic love story like we all think it is. At its essence, it’s the story of a girl whose people was enslaved by the Persians. God decides the way to rescue his people from annihilation is to plant someone in a strategic location so that this person will be in a position of influence. Sounds great … except His plan involved having a young, virgin girl forced into the king’s harem where she was obligated to satisfy the king’s every whim. Granted, the story turns out fine and dandy: Esther becomes queen and Israel is saved. By why did God’s plan center around a girl being forced into a sterilized version of the sex trade in order to save His people?


The second part that worries me is the question of what if God’s plan for my life involved  a similar sacrifice. For the longest time, I thought bad things happen for 2 reasons: it’s a direct result of a person’s sin (ex: Israel’s captivity) or the result of someone making bad decisions (ex: story of Tamar’s rape in the Old Testament). Never had I considered that bad things might happen because it’s part of God’s plan. It’s like God sent Esther to the harem. This wasn’t a case of someone making a bad decision and God having to step in to make the best of the bad result. God ordained the bad situation!


So what if God’s plan for me requires me to be falsely accused for a crime and sent to prison just so other prisoners can hear about God? Or what if God’s plan requires me to contract a horrible disease so that I’ll be put in touch with doctors who are longing to hear about God?


So now I’m in a quandary about what to think regarding God’s compassion when it seems that at times God’s glory will outweigh God’s compassion.