The world’s watched as this beautiful young woman has flipped, turned, twisted, and jumped her way into history. Medal after medal, she’s earned the title of one of the best athletes in the world. Her smile is contagious just as her spirit sparkles. And as a nation, we are so proud to call her ours. We are beaming over this gifted soul and the stars and stripes she’s honored at the 2016 Olympic games.
But Simone Biles’ life hasn’t always been so glorious. Before the medals and the accolades came the struggles. From a mother (and father) addicted to drugs to stints in foster care, Simone’s future was not only uncertain, but appeared bleak at best. Dim. In fact, it wasn’t until her grandfather (and his wife) stepped in and made the decision to raise young Simone (and her sister) that things began to change. And the rest you could say is history.
However, there’s a part of this story that the media hasn’t addressed just yet (and won’t). A piece of her past that hasn’t been discussed but one that deserves our attention.
Even though Simone’s young life was plagued with uncertainty and instability, one fact still remains:
Simone’s mother chose life.
Now, think about this for a minute: despite her personal demons, her addictions, and yes, her circumstances–despite what this world was telling her and the “reproductive rights” she could have exercised–Simone’s mother chose to bring her into this world. And for that, she’s to be commended. With two children already and a less than stable homelife, abortion could have been the answer to her problems. Instead, her decision gave our nation what we have today: a beautiful, gifted young woman, who not only lights up the arena with her presence, but radiates an inner confidence and strength for all to see. And she’s just one example of what can happen when we let God be God…when we rely on our Heavenly Father and His plan instead of taking matters into our own hands. When we understand that each one of us is a soul created for a purpose–intricately woven with unique gifts–to share with the world.
To me Simone is so much more than an Olympian. She’s more than the medals she wears or the attention she commands. This young woman represents beauty from the ashes. She represents what God is capable of if only we would learn to trust in Him and His Word…if only we opted to ignore what the world condones and embrace what He promises…
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
Just last month, as I was rummaging through a box of high school memorabilia (you know, from those glory days of old), I stumbled upon my writing folder. I couldn’t help but smile as I began reading what my adolescent self put to paper so many years ago. Essay after essay of my thoughts and feelings all right there in front of me once again. I was slightly giddy. That is until I began reading an op-ed piece from a sixteen year-old me discussing the significance–the importance, really– of abortion on demand.
Let me first state that I’ve never had an abortion. I’ve never found myself in a predicament where terminating a pregnancy would even be entertained. I’m thankful for that. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have done it. To be brutally honest, at the tender age of sixteen–I would have marched myself down to the nearest Planned Parenthood and rectified my mistake immediately. I would have claimed I was being responsible. I would have justified such an action with a million different reasons to support my decision–poor finances, age, current situation, my future. I would have stated I was doing what was best for everyone involved. And I would have been wrong…so wrong.
Fast forward twenty (plus) years and my views have changed, my values altered. The girl I once was would despise the woman I’ve grown to be…and I’m okay with that. But where I struggle the most as far as this whole abortion thing is concerned (aside from the actual practice itself), is the message young women are receiving in our present-day culture. The same one I received almost twenty years ago…that it’s okay.
Recently comedienne, Chelsea Handler posted about her own abortions (you can read it here), siting how grateful she was for Roe vs. Wade. She stated that even if you think abortion is wrong, it doesn’t matter because women have the right to terminate their pregnancies regardless.
Her words got me thinking. Admittedly, I was angered, upset by what I was seeing and the message it was sending. But after re-reading my own essay (yes, the one from eons ago), I realized that the girl I used to be would have sided with her. I probably would have applauded her efforts, thanked her for her courage, and championed her cause. I would have shared her post all over facebook and hailed her as a hero.
And that’s the problem.
Somehow we as a nation have have bought into this idea that it’s our right to terminate a pregnancy should we choose. That we’re being “thoughtful” by doing so. Considerate, even. Responsible. That we’re able to justify such an action and site a list of reasons and somehow that makes it okay. Our society and leaders (as a whole) support this notion. Friends, this is the message being received and glorified by young women everywhere. And it’s not okay. Not at all.
You know, it wasn’t until I had my first child where my opinions began to shift on abortion. Then another. Followed by another. And despite your religious preferences or how many times you may have heard this (and rolled your eyes in response to people like me), it wasn’t until I opened a Bible for the first time and began reading its contents, that my views began to significantly change (we’re talking a 180). It wasn’t until I began to really know Jesus and form a relationship with God that the girl who once wrote a letter–numerous letters in fact–in support of abortion, completely changed her mind. It’s where I was challenged to think less about myself and more of others. It taught me how precious life–all life–is. How each one of us has a purpose gifted by God. And yes, each one of us is a precious soul–blessed by this life and the plans God has for us–nevermind how conception took place or what our present circumstances might be.
Chelsea–you come from the same place I once did. I get you, I do–your thinking, your justifications, and the many reasons to support abortion because I used to feel the same way. But I think we can do better, don’t you? I think the message we send out to the women of this world (especially the younger generation) facing the same decision is that despite how hard the battle they’re facing is, there are better options than abortion. There is hope. There is a Jesus that loves them, a God that will provide and care for them, and a whole system of women willing to support them. That the thoughtful and responsible thing to do is to consider life. That the baby within isn’t a burden but an opportunity…a soul.
Chelsea, let us empower women with righteousness rather than steer them into sin…
And dozens more.
City after city, campus after campus, venue after venue–violence is at an all-time high. It’s unsettling. It’s scary. It’s horrifying. And it’s become our new normal.
I hate saying that. I hate to think that the United States of America has become a country where our security’s significantly breeched. One where we’ve grown afraid–afraid to travel, shop, go to school, or just plain enjoy the freedoms those before us–and those today–fought/fight for. What’s happened to us? Because we’re tired, arent we? So tired of this new normal. We’re angry over the fear it breeds. We’re frustrated, hurt, and outraged by such senseless crimes and the families left to grieve in the wake of said tragedies. We can’t fathom the very idea of how a person (or persons) could walk into a room, business, school, or venue with the sole intention of eradicating life.
Know what else? We’re no longer shocked, huh? Crimes like the one that took place in Orlando on Saturday evening don’t surprise us anymore. In fact, it’s what we’ve grown accustomed to.
And it’s terrifying.
So we take to Facebook, asking for prayer–begging for God’s grace, comfort, and peace–over the cities, people, and families affected by it all. We talk of guns, mental illness, and radical Islamic terror. We play the blame game. You know–if only gun laws were stricter. If only someone saw the “signs” sooner. If only these acts could have been prevented. If only…
As accusations fly in order to justify these crimes by pinpointing some sort of motive, I have to tell you–this is a heart issue. It is our hearts (collectively speaking) that are sick. It is our souls that are restless and stirred. We are no longer one country, unified under God…and we’re suffering because of it. Today, we love less and hate more. We disobey. We rebel. We idolize/worship everything (and everyone) besides our Creator. And we wonder what’s wrong…we wonder how we got here…”
So, how does it stop?
How do we end this violence? How do we return to a time where violent crimes were few and far between and terrorism wasn’t a part of our daily lives?
I wish I had an answer. I wish I could obliterate such evil with the snap of my fingers. But I can’t. Instead, here’s what I can do (and you too):
Love more. We’re all just people. Flawed people trying to figure life out. People who hurt, have wounds, but do the best we can. Each and everyone of us needs to love one another more and let those divisions that divide us, decrease. Let’s surround those affected with our love, our prayers, and our encouragement. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone we meet–everywhere.
Call it like it is. What happened on Saturday was terrorism. Plain and simple. Isis hates our freedoms, our way of life, and our very existence. America–be on guard, be alert, and be aware. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend that what’s happening, isn’t happening. We can’t live in denial anymore.
Rise up. We’re only victims if we allow ourselves to be. Take back your country, America. Let’s not live in fear anymore but realize that preparation and knowledge are key in defending ourselves and our freedoms.
Your kids shouldn’t come first.
I remember the first time I heard these words–sitting in the marriage counselor’s office…all those years ago–as my therapist rattled off such a suggestion.
At first I thought it was a joke. You know–some sort of ice breaker to get our session underway or maybe one of those teaser statements counselors use to get a reaction from their patients. But as I broke into an uncomfortable giggle, it was apparent she wasn’t kidding. As I squirmed in my chair, frustrated by what this woman was saying (all while attempting to process such an idea), I couldn’t help but grow angry, confused, and yes, even dumbfounded. If I remember correctly, I think I even rolled my eyes. Because let’s face it: I’m a mom and from the moment my children entered this world, they became my everything….my top priority…my existence, really. Despite all of the ups and downs, trials, and mishaps on this mothering journey, my kids had my whole heart.
And apparently, that was the problem.
See, the woman in front of me–the one I was paying good money to help fix my marriage–was telling me I had gotten it all wrong. That my kids shouldn’t hold the top spot on my priority list.
So I did what most semi-rational adults do when they hear something they don’t like– I shook my head in protest. I got angry. I said things I probably shouldn’t have in response to such a claim. And I Immediately began thinking of how I needed to find another counselor–you know, someone a little more like-minded who sided with me and what I believed to be right. Know what else? I was dead-set on proving this woman wrong. Because everything I had ever known to be true (as far as my role as a mother) screamed the opposite of her recent revelation.
I left that office slightly traumatized, but as I went home that evening to cook dinner, draw baths, and start the laundry, her words began to sink in. What if she was right? What if everything I thought to be true, wasn’t? What if I had been doing it wrong all these years? I struggled with the reality of it all. With the idea of putting my kiddos second–or even third for that matter. Of re-prioritizing.
But I had to.
Because the man I fell in love with, married, and brought children into the world with–the man who worked hard to provide for his family? Our relationship had taken a backseat…not for days or months–but years. And when it came to the God who created us, who brought us together, and blessed us too many times to count? He wasn’t even on the radar. He wasn’t at the center of our union like I was learning He needed to be..and my marriage and our family was suffering because of it. Big time.
Heres’ the thing: as a mom I had to learn to that my kids could no longer monopolize all of my time (hard, right?). That my focus shouldn’t entirely be on them. Rather, it would have to be shared, divided even.That they would no longer take first place on my list of priorities. Rather, God would claim the top spot, my husband second, and my children third.
Now for you, my friend who might be processing these words for the first time, angered by what I’m suggesting, let me just say I understand where you’re at. And before you click that big “X” in the top left corner, or scroll down to leave a not-so-nice comment, allow me to say this: our children need to know that a connection with God is first and foremost. They need to be fully aware that their daddy and the relationship you have with him is unbelievably important, just as they must realize that tending to your needs as a couple will only make your family stronger…better. So how do you do this? How do make less time for your kids?
- Put God first. I firmly believe that our children need to see us spending time with the Lord. That our relationship with God is of top priority in our lives. So, do so each day. Pray often. Commit to Him. Get immersed in His Word. Love Him and follow HIm with your whole heart. And then teach your kids to do the same.
- Carve Out Time for the Hubs. That man in your life needs to know he’s respected by you. He needs to know that the way you first felt about him years ago (while you were dating), has morphed into a much stronger and deeper love today. And? He needs to know he’s appreciated for all that he does. So think about it. Think about what you can do to spend time as a couple–connecting (or reconnecting). Go on outings, get adventurous, and have fun together…again…and on a regular basis.
- Get Centered. As I mentioned in this article, God needs to be at the center of our marriages. He is the glue–the foundation–that holds our families together, afterall. If we’re grounded in Him, connected and unified, our marriages will be solid and our families will be blessed.
- Balance. One of the trickiest things about motherhood is learning to balance it all–especially when it comes to our time. Be intentional in figuring out how to do just that–how to love on our kiddos, glorify our Creator, and honor the needs of our husband (not in that order of course). Difficult? Yes. Possible? Totally.
What say you? Have you struggled with this?
Over 1,000,000 signatures and counting.
That’s how many people have pledged to never set foot into another Target store so long as their restroom policy remains. As you’re already well aware, the popular chain of stores announced their bathrooms would no longer be gender specific. That despite what we’ve all grown accustomed to (you know–men and women visting their respective restrooms when the urge hit), the rules have now changed for Target shoppers. Their policy concerning the ‘loo states that men and women who identify with the opposite gender may choose to visit the restroom they most identify with.
This announcement didn’t necessarily go over too well with the majority of the American people. In fact, upon the releasing this statement early last week thousands upon thousands of Americans voiced their contempt over this clause, siting issues with safety, discomfort, etc. Many were/are outraged. So much so, that they’ve begun to boycott. They’ve put their foot down in protest. They’ve yelled, and screamed, and let loose on social media outlets over such a decision. But what do you think? Should you and I add our names to the list and vow to boycott the store as well?
As a Christian woman, I say no.
Now I know this might not be the popular opinion and/or stance, but hear me out just for a minute as to why I feel the way I do.
In recent years, there have been a number of companies I’ve provided my business to who have gone against my beliefs and basic values. Their stances are not my own. Their views? In opposition of mine. They donate to organizations I would never support. They make choices that I just flat-out disagree with, and so on and so forth. I’ll admit, it’s frustrating. But to boycott each and every one of these companies/businesses because of said reasons? Friends, I wouldn’t be able to shop, dine, eat, or go anywhere, really because in our present-day culture Christian values are considered outdated. In fact, they’re not really considered at all. So we’re forced to deal, right? We’re forced to pick and choose which businesses are the lesser evil so to speak. It’s not fun and it doesn’t feel right. But unfortunately, it is what it is.
Second, I feel for the employees, the managers, and Target team members who are forced to deal with the repercussions of this new store policy. They are the ones called to enforce this rule. They are the ones who listen to the protests, who receive the nasty looks, and who hear the harsh words we the people spew their way. And all because they donned their red t-shirt and showed up to work when scheduled. A boycott not only jeopardizes the future of their own position(s) but our anger towards this current situation makes their work environment hostile, hectic, and just downright unpleasant. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked retail before. The hours are long, the pay is low (or at least it was back in the day), and the work is underappreciated. The last thing those Target team members want to deal with is pandemonium over the lavatory.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I fully understand the weight of this policy. I get what it’s saying and what it’s doing. I’m just as upset as you are when I think about the potential of what could happen in many of these restrooms, but I just think there’s so much more we can do with our time and energy rather than to blast and boycott a large chain of stores who aren’t likely to change their bathroom policy anytime soon. Besides, you and I have a choice. We don’t have to use the restrooms at Target. We don’t have to let our children use them either. We can go next door and visit a neighboring store instead. Is that conevenient? No. Is it easy to do when you have a full cart and a crying two year-old about to burst into full tantrum mode? Not at all. But as much as I’ve tried to fight againt our new cultural norms in the past, I’ve realized I have to learn to deal with the reality that is and is coming to be. I can protest or I can show compassion. I can yell or I can calmly deal. I can show anger or I can exhibit love. It’s all about choices and what matters most in the eyes of Jesus.
So as unpopular as it might be–I’m going to continue to shop at Target…and use the restroom at home.
**Please note: I know this is a very sensitive topic. Please know that all uneccessary and rude comments will be removed. Let’s keep this discussion positive and mature, please.