Monthly Archives: January 2013

March for Life Photo Essay

I didn’t know what to expect at my first March for Life last week. How would I fit in? Everyone knows pro-lifers are patriarchal, angry, white men.

African American women pro-lifers March for Life

This family marches together annually.

Rebecca Kiessling March for Life

The courageous Rebecca Kiessling*.

March for Life

Don’t you love their yellow hats?

Asian American woman pro-lifer March for Life

Chose life for her daughter 24 years ago.

Radical, right-wing extremists.

adopted from Korea March for Life

International adoptee.

March for Life sign to President

Um, Mr. President…

conceived from rape March for Life

Bold and beautiful.

Religious fundamentalists.

secular pro-lifers March for Life

Self-proclaimed secular pro-lifers.

Uneducated.

pro-life generation LSU March for Life

Here comes LSU…

Sienna College pro-life generation March for Life

and Sienna College…

Carnegie Mellon pro-life generation March for Life

and Carnegie Mellon…

Hateful.

pro-life couple  March for Life

Married, marching since 1974.

adopted not aborted father and son March for Life

Thanks, Mom and Grandma.

adoptive mother March for Life

Their Mom and Grandma with her sign.

thou shalt not kill March for Life

Love says.

Ugly.

I'm worth waiting for March for Life

“I’m worth waiting for.”

Really, really old.

birthday pro-lifer March for Life

You say it’s your birthday?

face it March for Life

Face it.

young pro-life women March for Life

Defend life.

Curmudgeons who don’t have any fun.

pro-life drummers March for Life

Boy band.

Definitely not cool.

pro-life jeans sign March for Life

He got a little “change” in his pocket.

nose ring pro-life March for Life

Pro-life generation, nose rings and all.

Illiterate.

a person is a person March for Life

The wisdom of Seuss.

Insensitive.

pro-abortive couple March for Life

Brave couple.

They don’t care about women and children.

mom with stroller baby March for Life

Marching mom.

mother with baby March for Life

Mother and child.

mother with babies March for Life

Stroller brigade.

life counts child on shoulders March for Life

Watching from Daddy’s shoulders.

In fact, they don’t care about women’s rights at all.

new wave feminists March for Life

New wave feminists are pro-life.

me and Jewels Green of Feminists for Life

Me and Jewels Green of Feminists for Life.

personhood for all March for Life

Personhood for all.

Totally irrelevant.

Capitol Hill March for Life

On Capitol Hill.

Not enough of them to cover in the news anyway.

March for Life 2013

Is this enough?

March for Life 2013

How about this?

March for Life 2013

Or this?

Just a handful of loonies.

Constitution Avenue view March for Life

View from Constitution Avenue.

Who aren’t going away anytime soon.

Old Glory March for Life

Old Glory in the March for Life.

40 years too many March for Life

40 years too many.

God’s plan looked foolish to men, but it is wiser than the best plans of men. God’s plan which may look weak is stronger than the strongest plans of men. 1 Corinthians 1:25 NLV

Let Mercy Lead by the timeless Rich Mullins.

pro life chick

pro-life chick

“Various media outlets put the estimate for this year’s March for Life crowd at between 500,000 and 650,000.” Catholic News Service

The March for Life is scheduled for January 22nd of both 2014 and 2015, marking the 41st and 42nd anniversaries of Roe v. Wade.

Every picture tells a story. What’s your favorite?

*I was surprised and delighted to run into Rebecca Kiessling in the crowds at the March for Life. To hear her story, please watch Reclaiming the Human Center of the Abortion Debate or see Rebecca’s website.

Also, if you haven’t already, please see my written report on BlogHer Walking the March for Life for the First Time.

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March for Life Story on BlogHer

March for Life mom

pro-life mom I met at March for Life

I’m home safe and sound after an exciting trip to Washington, D.C., and I’m thrilled BlogHer News has published my story Walking the March for Life for the First Time.

BlogHer, thank you for showing a diversity of women’s perspectives.

Everyone, I would be so grateful if you would please click over to BlogHer to read and share the story. Here’s the link:

Walking the March for Life for the First Time

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A Time to Speak

In a small town in another state, a 19-year-old woman finds out she’s pregnant. She lives with her widowed mother and has little money. Her baby’s father has abandoned her. The shame of her community presses down on her.

The year is 1970. Unwed motherhood isn’t worn as a status symbol by celebrities. Single parenting isn’t the norm. There are no support groups or pregnancy centers. No 3-D ultrasounds. Abortion is illegal.

If her pregnancy had happened three years later in 1973 when Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States, I wonder if that young woman would have chosen to abort her baby. If so, you wouldn’t be reading this.

That woman was my mother and I was the baby she carried.

Had abortion been legal in 1970, my mother would have been a prime candidate. Poor, unmarried, young, alone, afraid. Strong voices might have coached her choice. She wasn’t ready to parent. She couldn’t support a child. Why not just take care of this matter now?

Fast forward 25 years. My mother was in the fight of her life against cancer. Had euthanasia been legal in America, she would have been a prime candidate for physician-assisted suicide. There was no treatment for her disease. Strong voices might have coached her choice. Why burden her family and the system? Why prolong the inevitable?

My mother was my best friend, compassionate and kind. She died before I, as an adult, could ask her what it was like for her when I was born or what it was like for her to knowingly approach death at age 45.

She died before she could tell her story. I don’t want to do the same.

If Guttmacher’s statistics are anywhere near accurate, someone reading this is a mother or father whose child was aborted. I have no interest in condemning you. You made a legal choice in a heartbreaking, maybe even desperate situation. You may have felt coerced or kept in the dark about what was truly happening. You may harbor regret, sadness, anger, grief, or you may be numb to the experience. There is healing and forgiveness in Christ for you just as there is for me.

Look around. A lot of people are missing who are supposed to be here. It’s estimated more than 54,000,000 Americans have been legally killed by abortion since Roe v. Wade. We cannot comprehend all that was lost with those lives.

My heart aches for what my mother went through and what others face. But killing people is not a life-affirming answer. Not for the child, the parents, the disabled, the elderly, the terminal patient, our families, or our society.

What if we as a nation find ways to care for parents in crisis pregnancies and protect their babies’ lives? Can we resist the deception that euthanasia and abortion give us control without consequences? Will we hold fast to God’s timing in life and death? What does it say about the value of our own lives if we don’t?

I never asked my mother if she was glad she had me; I didn’t have to. Her love, courage, and sacrifices for me told me she was. My husband and son are also glad, and if my dog could speak, she’d tell you the same. And me? Am I glad abortion was illegal when my mother was pregnant with me?

Yes. Unapologetically, yes. I am thankful for life. Are you?

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice. Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT

This is Your Life by Switchfoot.

Who are you missing? What’s your story?
Who will you tell?

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States. Later this week, I’ll participate for the first time in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. I’d appreciate your prayers.

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Yoga Face Time

Returned to yoga class this week. Took some time off over the holidays. Time to eat turkey, dressing, a dozen chocolate crinkles. You know, that sort of thing.

So did the rest of my class. How do I know? My instructor felt the need to speak this bit of wisdom to us:

frowning2

There are legitimate reasons to frown. The inability to do ardha chandrasana is not one of them.

Keep on keeping on. We’ll get there soon.

A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22 NRSV

Closer to Love by Mat Kearney.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

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Book Review: ‘One Summer in Arkansas’ by Marcia Kemp Sterling

Marcia Kemp Sterling’s first novel One Summer in Arkansas draws readers into the “intoxicating warmth” of a southern summer, from Thomas Hinton’s soulful cover art to the final twist of resolution. 

one-summer-in-arkansas_cover 300 x 463The story spins around small-town golden boy Lee Addison. His smarts, hard work, and genes are about to pay off. At the behest of his mother, Lee returns to his hometown of Riverton in rural Arkansas to spend one last summer there between graduating from Stanford Law School and beginning his career. It’s the early 90s, and Lee is poised for success in the sleek, corporate law firms of San Francisco. But Lee’s last summer in Riverton resurrects a tangle of abandonment, addiction, murder, passion, and sullied histories that rise to burn with the summer temperatures.

Sterling tells the story from the points-of-view of Lee and other characters, mostly women. We meet Lee’s functional alcoholic mother Frances Dawkins Addison as she navigates the country club scene alone. We are privy to the heart of Riverton’s “prize,” teacher Annie Rayburn, the high school girlfriend Lee left behind for college. We follow Lee’s fragile, teenaged sister M.J. on a precarious downward spiral. We stop with Lee to visit Etta Jones, the curious, elderly African-American neighbor who still lives in the house where she was born.

Marcia Kemp Sterling

Marcia Kemp Sterling

A theme of running weaves through the book. All the young people run. Lee runs. Annie runs. Lee’s Stanford girlfriend Zoe runs. M.J. tries to keep up. Meanwhile, the older characters survive by standing still. Etta is a constant, sitting on her front porch as the story swirls. Frances is immovable, too, having never left Riverton. But where Etta is resilient and fixed, Frances is broken and stuck. An experienced attorney, Sterling touches on heavy subjects: racism, injustice, infidelity, addiction, ageism, classism, religion, the tension between rural and urban, and the inner workings of litigation.

My favorite moments in the book came with Sterling’s masterful descriptions of place—the humid, southern summer in a small town and the contrasting cool perfection of Silicon Valley. Although Sterling was raised in Arkansas and I grew up in North Carolina, there were times when I thought surely we hail from the same neighborhood. Take for example this excerpt where Lee puts together the scene of Dewaine Washington’s suspicious death at Riverton’s swimming hole:

Lee tried to imagine what it was like on the day the boy died. That early in May there would have been splashes of pink, fuchsia and white scattered throughout the hillside forest from small volunteer dogwoods and redbuds still in bloom. The sky would have been lit by a softer sun, exposing patches of color in the understory of tall deciduous trees not yet leafed out (p. 83).”

Passages like that take me home, and this book is full of them. It’s also full of surprises. Sterling deviates from the expected crime-solved-story-over ending. Her narrative is more complex. Like a southern summer, it pulses on and closes with tension still hanging in the air.

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them. Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 NRSV (Chapter one of One Summer in Arkansas opens with these verses.)

To purchase One Summer in Arkansas, find discussion topics for your book club, and discover more about Marcia Kemp Sterling, please visit Marcia’s website www.MarciaKempSterling.com.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. Opinions are my own.

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Jeremy Spoke

Do you remember Jeremy? Released in 1992, the music video for Pearl Jam’s first commercially successful single ended with a classroom of school children covered in blood.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam

The song and video were purportedly based on the suicide of Jeremy Delle, a sophomore who killed himself in front of his classmates and teacher in 1991 at Richardson High School in Texas. I never got that, even 20 years ago when I was watching it as the new “it” video in heavy rotation on MTV.

The unedited video shows Jeremy putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger to suicide, but MTV restrictions didn’t allow that imagery to be aired because it was too violent. What they did allow was an ambiguous ending viewers like me misinterpreted as a mass shooting: a closeup of Jeremy juxtaposed with his blood-covered classmates frozen in horror.

This was before Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. 

Jeremy came to mind as I researched statistics about American violence for my post this week for Finding (Un)Common Ground. Our nation is scrambling in the wake of Sandy Hook. One side wants armed guards in schools. The other side wants to restrict the Second Amendment. I argue neither strategy is satisfactory.

Gun violence in America is a symptom of a larger, more ominous problem. We’ve cultivated an environment laced with violence, one in which human life is cheap and expendable.

Winona Ryder, Christian Slater in Heathers

Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in Heathers

A friend recently remarked he doubted the student-murdering, suicide-laden, bomb-planting movie Heathers could even be made now. I wonder what kind of criticism a video like Jeremy would draw if it were made today. But Eddie Vedder and Winona Ryder aren’t solely to blame for our culture of violence. Their “art” would probably be considered tame these days. It merely foreshadowed the waves of death we’ve witnessed. What astounds me is our obstinate refusal to connect what we allow to entertain us with the horrific violence in our country. Garbage in, garbage out.

Of course it goes much deeper than that. Violence is the symptom; our disease is the other “s” word, the three-letter one. Sin left unchecked leads to violence. That’s its trajectory. And sin is our nature. The violent culture we live and breathe flows from our human condition. Censorship, armed guards, and national gun databases won’t curb that.

Nothing less than a change of our very hearts is required.

So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11 NLT

Jeremy spoke in class today. The unplugged version.

Read more in my Finding (Un)Common Ground post 
Armed Guards, Gun Control Fall Short in ‘Violence Culture.’

UPDATE 2.19.13: For more thinking and rethinking this topic, please see Necessary Violence?

photo credit: Pearl Jam Official via photopin cc
photo credit: Patrick McEvoy-Halston via photopin cc

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Shampoo

In a few short years, I’ve gone from washing my hair every single day to betting how many days I can go without washing my hair.

bloggess wannabee back

who’s that girl?

I suppose I could call it a matter of health. Most hair stylists agree. It’s not healthy to wash your hair every day. (I’m speaking of women here. Men, wash at will.) Over washing can mean over drying, especially as we get older and our hair loses its natural moisture and shine.

Good grief. That sounds like a shampoo commercial.

What was once a luxurious cleansing ritual now results in tresses crisp as sun-dried straw. Not pretty. Plus it takes so long to blow dry. Once upon a time, I thought nothing of spending hours on hair and makeup. Today it’s different. Pardon me, but I need to wash and go.

You know, I think it all started with that child I have. My hair was voluminous and glowing when I was pregnant with him. A few sleep-deprived months after giving birth, my hair (and the rest of me) looked tired. I barely had a moment to shower, much less dry and style. Besides, who has time for hair when there’s a boy’s childhood to be lived? There are Legos to assemble, imaginary wars to fight, books to read. Alas, I succumbed to the inevitable. I got mommy hair.

I cut it short. Then shorter. Then shorter. Then I saw myself in a photo. Shocked back to my senses, the race was on. A race more grueling than any marathon. Many of you recognize this perilous trek. Cursed is the day you agreed to layers and bangs. Your psyche bears the scars of the race to grow out your hair.

Since crossing the finish line about four years ago, I’ve kept my hair long. Pinterest helps me cope with impulses. When I see a photo that inspires me to cut my hair like hers, I pin it instead. Then I can think about it before I act on it. Maybe I’ll cut my hair short again some day. For now, I’ve relinquished my daily shampoo in order to preserve some semblance of health on my head.

I have to wonder if all this dryness has to do with our environment. No, not global warming. I’m talking about humidity. My hair was raised in Southern humidity. Most of my time in the Midwest has been spent in the drenching, river town seasons of St. Louis. It’s only recently we moved to the arid prairie-land of Kansas. Even the snow is dry here. Surely that must take a toll on my hair.

bloggess wannabee

I am not the bloggess (as if there was any confusion about that)

One of my friends has her hair done at the salon each week. She swears by the blow out. Says she doesn’t have to do a thing between visits. My stylist suggested pricey keratin treatments to make my hair like silk. Moisturized, manageable, lustrous silk.

But I know stress shows up in my skin. Makes sense it would show up in my hair. Forget the humidity, the expensive treatments, the weekly blow outs.

What I need is a vacation.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30 NIV

Props to the 90s and Swedish bands. Beautiful Life by Ace of Base.

What do you and your hair need?

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