All Lives Matter – Starting in the Womb

The value of a human life in the womb should not be determined by whether or not the child is wanted by the mother.  What kind of madness is that? Throughout history we can see the piles of corpses stacked high from governments and movements and individuals who believed  that certain lives, the ones devalued and “not wanted”,  had lost any right to exist.

Those who believe a child has no value because they are not wanted by the mother should not be surprised when other people groups are also devalued and targeted for destruction. That is the inevitable outcome of situational ethics – morals that change depending on the shifting winds of public sentiment.

The only society that is safe for all is one that values life at all stages. If a society doesn’t, the creeping devaluation of all human life is inevitable. The carnage and growing violence in America, across all socioeconomic lines, is powerful evidence that violence in the womb never stays there.  The culture of death starts with the unborn child.

I’m a proud marcher for life today, even though I cannot be in Washington. God help us all, especially the most vulnerable.

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Women, Sex and True Power

An article recently detailed the thinking of men refusing to commit to marriage. A more depressing look at the world of relationships today would be hard to find. With the loss of a sense of what real manhood actually is, there is another problem that was evident from the comments by men. Their thinking could be summarized this way: Marriage is nothing but liability for men. We don’t need it to have sex. There’s no point for us.

In our shame-free hook-up culture, women complaining about men not proposing really is irrational. When you are giving your body up without any requirement of a man’s marriage commitment beforehand, it isn’t surprising that you’re being used for pleasure alone. If you don’t require that a man get to know you, appreciate the totality of you, honor you, and respect you with his vows to be faithful, you’re going to attract exactly the kind of man who uses you up and then moves on.

What’s called progress for women is the exact opposite. What’s called “equality”, supposedly a good thing, only leads to the devaluing and degrading of women. Women think they are earning more respect, but the opposite is true. Women are used more by men now than they ever have been. They become nothing but warm bodies that exist for a man’s pleasure without the respect of a marriage commitment and the accompanying protections of that union.

Additionally, women, by demanding abortion rights, have played right into the hands of user men. They personally delivered no consequence, free use sexually of females to the guys. If free use of their body means a baby is conceived, the child can be killed for a price at a local clinic. Even fatherhood can be wiped out for a little cash.   It’s no-complication fun for men when women abandon their true power and make it so easy.

Yes, it is worse now for women than ever. The women wearing vagina hats this last weekend, screaming obscenities and bashing men have helped create the whole apocalyptic social scene we see where children’s lives are snuffed out in the womb, men scoff at the concept of any kind of commitment as they openly use females for sexual gratification, and women live in a constant state of unhappiness and rage at men. Epic failure on all fronts.

There is another world for women who respect themselves and know that they have real power when they protect and reserve their sexuality for a man who values them enough to honor them with a life commitment. There is another, very different world for women who refuse to accept the lies of the female radicals who have done more to destroy happiness than anyone else. They recognize the utter bankruptcy of those “women’s leaders” who build their cause on the frail bones of children killed in the womb. Wise women embrace and defend life at all stages and know that radical feminism is built on a foundation of total selfishness. No happiness is ever built that way.

One male in the article I read expressed these words. “A man with any smarts avoids marriage like the plague.” In reality, real manhood starts with the assuming of responsibility, the willingness to commit, and the wisdom to find a woman of the same mindset.

God bless the remnant of young men and women who see the tragedy of the social landscape today and choose to do things in wisdom. The fear and honor of the LORD is where this wisdom begins. God’s ways are the ways of peace and contentment. Those who reject that way of peace inherit the wind.

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When a Stronghold Falls

For the weapons of our warfare are not those of the world. Instead, they have the power of God to demolish fortresses.   ~ II Corinthians 10:4

Did you ever see a stronghold of the enemy fall? The enemy I refer to is the enemy of souls who the Scriptures describe as a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” In our world broken by sin, there are certain situations long dominated by the enemy that are his territory, and it seems that nothing will ever take down those fortress walls.

It does not often happen in this world that these walls fall. Every one of us knows of families, areas in society, or people who are under the sway of evil, and even prayer, no amount of it, will change that. Even churches can be a stronghold of evil and those committed to praying against it will sometimes end up leaving when nothing changes. (Just a note to such places – when the prayer warriors leave, that is a major warning sign that judgement is at the door. When God removes those who are on their knees in intercession, your days of warning are over.)

Only very rarely are we blessed to see a stronghold fall. But if you ever have, you will never forget it. I once saw a powerful fortress fall. Here’s what it took. It took ONE key person who did the right thing. One person to move from a seemingly immovable position. I often think of situations like this as a log jam in a river – logs forced together in such a way that they simply do not move and become a dam. But all it can take is movement in just ONE key log, and the dam blocking the flow of the river breaks apart.

When strongholds fall, God’s blessing is immediately evident. The fall of those walls will cause a small earthquake felt by many —the thunder of God at work to restore and to heal.

The fastest way to build a stronghold of evil is to shut out God’s call to our consciences, to sit in pride, especially pride or cowardice and silently witness evil done to others. We forget to self-assess or weigh our role in perpetrating or supporting evil, even tacitly. Years go by, relationships are lost, families or churches are destroyed. The ruins left behind on ground sown with salt become a monument to the work of Apollyon – the Destroyer. A Satanic trophy.

But God. There is a photograph from many years ago on a bookcase in my home that marks the earthquake of joy that occurred with the falling of one such stronghold. There are no smoking ruins in that photograph. It is a triumph of love over alienation, of joy over grief and anger, and it is the working of the Author of all that is good and beautiful.

Whenever I grow discouraged at the many strongholds with walls intact, I look at that photo and think, this is what God can do. I saw it happen before my eyes. We all need to see this at least once in our lives, especially now, when things around us are often so dark.

May 2017 see the work of God in the pulling down of strongholds in our lives, and may territory be taken back to the glory of Jesus Christ. He is able to do far more than we ask or think.

I hope to write more on this subject in the coming months. This blog is now in its 10th year, and I pray that those who stumble across it leave with hope that comes from our heavenly Father. God is not dead nor does He sleep.

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Bells Across the Snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
With its joy and with its pain!
There’s a minor in the carol
And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
With the holly wreath tonight.
And the hush is never broken
By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
’Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing,
As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
Of the crown on each dear brow,
There would be no sigh to smother,
No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,
This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
Of our unshadowed glee,
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
Sweet herald of good will,
With holy songs of glory
Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
To the “bells across the snow.”

–Frances Ridley Havergal

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Sherry, in Des Moines, who “adopted” me and my family and who has shown non-stop love in the 11 years I have known her.  She also introduced me to the poems and hymns of Frances Ridley Havergal. Thank you, Sherry.

 

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A Tribute to Sears – And Kind People

searsTom and I have a special sentimental place in our hearts for Sears, the American store that has been in business for so long. We both grew up with our moms shopping there. My earliest memories of a department store were at the Sears off Fond du Lac in Milwaukee. We entered the store from the back where the first thing you saw and the first thing you experienced was the sight and aroma of the nut, candy and popcorn in the glass cases. My mom would sometimes get us a small paper bag  with red stripes  of Spanish peanuts, still warm from the lights in the glass case.

The neighborhood was deteriorating quickly around that store that had been in business for so long. It eventually closed, and we started going to the store at the Brookfield Square Mall when I was around 12 or so. From then on, that store was a part of my life.  (And Tom’s life as well, unbenownst to me at the time.) Those walls saw me grow up, saw me expecting my first baby. Charlie’s crib was purchased there in the baby department that was by the escalator. Then I shopped there  with two little boys  (after Sam came along) who wore their Toughskins jeans. I bought many little blue suits and white dress shirts and ties there for Charlie and Sammy, always one size apart. School shoes, school clothes and winter coats, all of it at Sears.  Then along came Will years later. Another crib purchased, and then Mary came. Little girls clothes! Easter dresses, Christmas dresses! Ah. Then Jonathan. We bought his first dress clothes there two days after he arrived from Bulgaria. It was Mother’s Day Sunday the next day, and I have photos of us at Sears with his interpreter who flew him here helping us  out.  An exciting and wonderful day that was! All at Sears.

Then Emmy. The night we found out Emmy was on the way we had wandered through Sears and there was Christmas music on the loudspeakers. We passed through the baby department and I admired the Christmas dresses,  for some reason, I was unusually teary eyed and sentimental. There was a reason for that. Our little girl was on the way, and Sears was the backdrop for the news shortly thereafter.

It is sad to see the decline of Sears in recent years. Tom and I still shop there when we can. We have said often that we hope our Sears at Brookfield Square Mall doesn’t go out of business. When it does, we will take it personally.  There is one portion of the outside of the store on the backside that has escaped change. We frequently comment that it’s comforting to have one small bit of continuity from the past.

So today when I spotted this piece in the Chicago Tribune, it really touched my heart. The author of it, who rose above his difficult childhood in such an amazing way, pays tribute to the Sears store that made such a difference in his life. Of course, it was the people there. But somehow you don’t forget the back drop, the scene, and in his case, he has special reason for that. Thank God for kind people. One kind person can have an impact. Several kind people at once can have  a special kind of impact.  A good thing to remember.

(The author of the piece in the Chicago Tribune is Douglas MacKinnon,  former White House and Pentagon official and author of the memoir “Rolling Pennies in the Dark”.) Alto a thank-you to the wonderful Facebook page, Pleasant Family Shopping, for posting this where I saw it. That page is a lot of sentimental fun from the past. “Like” it if you have a chance.

Don’t Feed the Beast – Understanding Fuel and Malignant Narcissists

Hope comes with understanding in bad situations. Deep confusion leads to despair. I have received many messages of appreciation for the series I have published in the last few years on the topic of narcissistic abuse and toxic people/relationships. A search on my home page (search window is just under comments in the right hand column)  under those terms will locate them. It is eye-opening and tragic  to hear from so many dealing with these issues.

Holidays can bring up a great deal of turmoil, both for those living in the midst of a malignant narcissist’s emotional, spiritual  (or other) abuse or, those who are attempting to recover from it, even years later. The grief over a shattered ideal of a love that never was, wasted time, and often, failure to properly see things earlier is real. A time of year rife with sentiment and memories can open these wounds afresh.

One of the most painful things to watch are the enablers of malignant narcissists. These people serve to provide  fuel for the perpetrator in harming a target. Their intentions, however pious, and their (willful) ignorance are beside the point. No malignant narc can operate without gas in his or her tank to run the engine of emotional and spiritual abuse.  It’s important to understand the fuel and who is providing it in these situations. This is the subject of my latest article, linked here.

Additionally, a good  article by another (and the comments below it) linked here, describes the difference between unconditional love and the toxic variety in these situations. It is crucial to understand this.  It is easy to miss it when your heart and soul are involved with someone.

The latest article I have written  is relevant to all, because even if you have not faced this situation personally, others around you have and are. You don’t want to be one of those operating the fuel pump for evil.  Nobody should want to be a tool in the destruction of others.

apollyon

On Thanksgiving 2016

Will recorded this traditional Thanksgiving hymn a couple of years ago. I thought I’d post it again this Thanksgiving. To American readers, have a wonderful day of thanks with friends and loved ones!

 

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

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Will Goes Russian

Yesterday, our 20-year-old son Will played at a recital at Wheaton College. He played the Third Movement from Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with Dr. Karin Edwards, his teacher, on the accompaniment piano. This is the last 4 minutes of the movement (it is 14 minutes long total.) If anyone would like to see the whole thing, I will post the other 2 segments in the comment section.  A friend of his took this video from the balcony. The video isn’t sharp, but the sound is good!

We heard this piece develop beginning last summer when Will decided to learn it after hearing the Chicago Symphony perform this at Wheaton with a Russian pianist. When Will decides to do something, all you can do is get out of the way. He would finish with his landscaping job where he worked hard all day, and then he would head straight to a church that let him use their grand piano to practice. He would return home at 11pm sometimes, not even having eaten dinner.

What I admire most in our son is his dogged tenacity and his work ethic. I have learned things watching him. This is a tremendously difficult piece of music. At times, it seemed like it would conquer him. But he kept at it, and ultimately, conquered it. That’s the spirit we all need. Never give up. Tomorrow comes the music!   +Soli Deo Gloria+