I Corinthians 13 (Revised)

I Corinthians 13 (Revised)

Love is accepting; Love makes me feel safe.

Love does not judge or have too much more than its neighbor.

Love is not disagreeable; it does not create unhappy feelings.

Love does not insist on the Biblical way; it doesn’t stand in the way of my happiness.

It does not rejoice in absolute truth, but celebrates my truth.

Love always protects my choices, believes in who I am, hopes all my dreams will come true, and endures constant revision to social constructs because…

#Lovewins

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I’m pretty sure the preceding version of 1 Corinthians 13 must be in the Bibles at many of today’s “Christian” churches. But the confused neon colors of this “translation” pale in comparison to the deep-hued truths of the REAL version, the Biblical text:

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV with other Biblical phrases in brackets):

Love is patient [longsuffering, overlooking a multitude of personal offenses];

Love is kind [considerate of others above self].

Love does not envy or boast [recognizes that anything good is from above and not of ourselves];

It is not arrogant or rude [it acts in accordance with the riches of God’s kindness].

Love does not insist on its own way [submits one to another];

It is not irritable or resentful [forgiving as God forgave us].

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing [does not call evil “good”],

But rejoices in the truth [the Word of the Lord stands forever].

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things [because in Him all things hold together].

Love never fails.

In writing the second passage, I noted how hard it is to love according to the real definition. I fail daily to love my family and friends: I am selfish, impatient, and not able to bear little things let alone all things! But I am in the right place when I am using Scripture to assess the condition of my heart.

The problem is that the more the world tells Christians they are bigoted and hateful, the more tempting it becomes to adjust our behavior to the gauge of the revised version of Scripture at the top of this post: “I know I’m not unloving! I should act more accepting so that my co-worker knows too!” And so we start confessing what’s not sin, and leaving real sins unconfessed.

If we speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, we will be as noisy gongs or clanging cymbals to everyone around us, including those we are trying to convince that we are loving (1 Cor. 13:1). “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9). To genuinely love others, we need to check which version of 1 Corinthians 13 we’re using.

#LoveNeverFails

Springs Without Water

To the beleaguered, the defeated. The Christians whose newsfeeds have been a disordered-rainbow-colored mess of gloating and rub-your-face-in-it celebration. To those who see this as new legislation, damning for our culture. To those who have the foresight to see that the Gay Gestapo will not stop at bakers and florists but will extend their reign to pastors, private school administrators, Facebook posters, to you.

What are our reasons for dismay, and what is our hope?

1. Dismay: The Gay Rights Movement has commandeered the rainbow symbol and raised it high in proud defiance of the God who chose the rainbow to be a symbol of his covenantal love.

Hope: Noah’s Ark is not a sweet little story suitable for nursery decorations. God saw the vast wickedness of disobedient men and decided to destroy the world. But God preserved Noah and his family. The flag reminds the world that God is faithful to keep his promises. He is a God of wrath and judgment, but he sent Jesus to take that wrath for those who repent and believe. Though we all deserve to die for our sins, the rainbow flag reminds us – and the world – that God is gracious and merciful.

11540923_464833340362132_5679454051556982443_n2. Dismay: God has sent this as a judgment to us (Romans 1:22-32). It has been said that hell is when God says to people: “Thy Will Be Done.”

Hope: The Lord Most High subdues nations under his feet. “He reigns over the nations. God is seated on his holy throne” (Psalm 42). God ordained the ruling yesterday. He is not caught off guard. He will not level us to ruin us. God loves the world, and “His dominion will extend from sea to sea … to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:9-10). His purposes will stand.

3. Dismay: There will be people who think that getting “married” will be fulfilling. Just like anyone who seeks fulfillment outside of Christ, they will not find it.

Hope: Some of them, refugees of the lies that have been propagated, will be called out of their lifestyles to join the body of Christ. Lord willing, we will have a wave of new converts who have beautiful testimonies. Rosaria Butterfield is one such convert.

4. Dismay: #LoveWins has taken over Twitter and Facebook. Rob Bell already made a mockery of this phrase. Love by the world’s definition – a gooey, warm, happy feeling that may or may not involve puppy dogs and ice cream – will not win. This definition of love leads people in an endless chasing-their-tails, trying to catch a feeling. Sadly, romantic love alone will not satisfy any of us and is not ultimately sustainable.

Hope: Real love, as in “God is love,” will win. Jesus won the battle over death and darkness when he rose from the grave. Love wins, and love will continue to win as God’s glory spreads like the waters covering the earth.

5. Dismay: We fear the coming trials.

Hope: “The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials, and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment.” God rescued Noah, Lot, the Israelites, and the entire city of Nineveh. (2 Peter 2)

6. Dismay: The false teachers of this age are “springs without water and mists driven by a storm… speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh” (2 Peter 2:17-18).

Hope: You, O Christian, are “like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17).

Some Christians hold out no hope that our nation will repent. But man’s heart is in the hands of the Lord – the Lord turns it wherever he will, like channeling a stream (Proverbs 21:1). God was going to destroy Nineveh, but he stayed his hand. Nineveh repented, and so should we. God is eager to show mercy, eager to give grace. Nineveh was spared, and so can we be!

We need to repent, not of the world’s definitions of “hate” and “homophobia.” Repent of sin, as defined in the Bible. Read the Ten Commandments. We should repent of loving sin, hanging on to sin like a security blanket. Repent of letting the world define sin and love and marriage. Repent of wanting to appear loving to the world more than wanting to be loving according to the Bible. Repent of subjecting our children to the lies of this age. Love others, and as one act of love, call them to repentance. God is eager to forgive.

So though our news feeds are full of celebration and praise for sin, we can stand firm in Christ. We need not be anxious in these years of drought brought on by politically vocal springs without water. We know that our roots are deep in the stream of God’s grace. And though things look bad for Christianity, we are promised that “of the increase of his government and his peace there shall be no end” (Is. 9:7). Though we have lost this battle, we are winning the war, and ultimately, #lovewins.

The Broken Faithful on Mother’s Day

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Our small, sad announcement: Our little Chickpea (so named by Older Brother), our fourth baby, was called home to heaven without ever meeting the rest of the family face-to-face. There was the ultrasound with no heartbeat, then the waiting, then the surgery when my body didn’t realize that there was no need to be pregnant anymore. “In His presence is fullness of joy” – no boo-boos, no tears – a pain-free pass into eternity. We are happy for our Chickpea, and we are so grateful that we will meet one day.

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Mother’s Day and Church can sometimes have a difficult relationship. Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday. Churches want to celebrate mothers and exalt motherhood in a culture where mothering is so little valued. Churches also want to be sensitive to those for whom this day is difficult. Sometimes they sway too far one way, sometimes too far the other, but no matter how carefully they balance on the tightrope, it seems someone always feels forgotten. I have been the happy mother, celebrating her children and her own mother, mother-in-law, and grandmothers. I have stood grateful for the celebration of the hard job that I do in the daily nurturing of little ones.

But I have also felt unsettled by Mother’s Day, wishing it would stay in the Hallmark aisle and not invade my spaces. And sometimes this tension has kept me home on Mother’s Day, driving me under the covers. But the more I experience life, the more I feel that the pain I avoid by staying home is not equal to the amount of joy and encouragement I receive by spending time with my church family on Sunday mornings.

So I will go to church tomorrow, though yesterday was the day of horrible finality and ending of my pregnancy with Baby #4. In my raw pain, I am sure that something said in regards to Mother’s Day will sting because no church can possibly cover all bases in regards to this issue. But where else can I go? Where else can I find bindings for my soul? Where else can I find encouragement in the testimony of others standing and praising God?

As I look around in church tomorrow, I will see that I am not the only one who keeps coming back to our great and mighty God. I will see the faithfulness of our sustaining God reflected in the faces of many around me. I will see the woman whose husband left her to raise her kids alone. I will see the woman whose husband was suddenly taken home – the woman who sings loud and true with joy carved deep by the pain. I will see parents who’ve buried their children, coming back to the One who caused their pain. I will see a woman standing in strength and beauty, longing for a husband and children to call her own. I will see a husband who longs for his wife to have a child, and a child who longs for healing. I know we are all a family, gathered around our good and gracious Father who inexplicably wounds and binds up wounds with the sweetest salve.

As I sing, my voice confident then falling into the crack between the heavy comfort of God and the continuing intensity of my pain, I am glad for those around me, singing for me when I cannot. I’m encouraged in the pain, knowing that I am not alone. We come together as the body of Christ, knowing that he makes all things beautiful in His time.

So tomorrow, I will stand in church among the broken faithful, praising the Name of the God who gives to take and takes to give. I hope you will join me, knowing that if your pain spills over as you worship, you will encourage those around you by your very presence and praise of Our Good and Faithful God.

A Fiercer Delight

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Parents of children with special needs don’t want pity. We’re perfectly okay, perfectly happy, perfectly in love with the little ones God gave us. We wouldn’t trade them for anything, and they are a blessing in every sense. But at the same time, we’re completely not okay. Our babies suffer, we suffer, and this is really hard.

Our Little One After Her Open Heart Surgery

Our Little One After Her Open Heart Surgery

I have never been easily embarrassed. I’m not easily offended, thanks to my New York mother and grandmother. Despite being an open, non-private person who will gladly share with you about my life, however, I’ve never been vulnerable with people before getting to know them well. Vulnerability was always a choice that I had control over.

But having an obviously special needs child (our Amelia has Down syndrome) opens a chasm of vulnerability that is difficult to explain. I no longer get to choose when/with whom I will be vulnerable. I am open to being hurt All The Time. I can’t escape it. My heart is permanently beating outside of my chest, in the body of a little girl who has a condition that causes 90% of mothers to decide she isn’t even worthy of life. This Vulnerability has been the single biggest adjustment to life with a special needs child.

I keep hoping that this vulnerability will end, that I will find new ways of steeling my soul. I imagine that a similar vulnerability creeps into all sorts of trials: un-asked-for vulnerability is part of what makes Cancer hard, part of why Divorce feels unbearable. Though I haven’t experienced either of those, I’m sure they each have their unique thistles that make the vulnerability challenging.

What’s exceptional about the trial of having a special needs child is that your trial has come to you in the form of a person. The thing that makes my life more challenging is the same thing that makes Amelia who she is. There is no separating Down syndrome from my daughter.

When I take Amelia someplace new, the chasm of vulnerability is flooded with fear. Who will notice her delays? Her g-tube? What will they say? Who will treat her differently? People have mostly been gracious, but it doesn’t change the fact that at any moment someone could knock me over with one little feather of a comment about Amelia.

Even when people are trying to be helpful, the pain is always at the surface, easily pressed down into my soul. One well-meaning couple saw our hands full at church one Sunday and tried to encourage us with how wonderfully empty and free our nest will be one day. A nurse bubbled with enthusiasm about how elementary-aged kids can hook up their own g-tubes (I was imagining my baby outgrowing her g-tube within months, not years). My friend’s 10-month-old foster daughter crawled and talked circles around my 12-month-old.

Like other things in life, this is not one-dimensional. This unintentional vulnerability does have value. I can feel my heart expanding, even as each experience of pain carves out room for deeper joy, deeper understanding.

Perhaps it’s true, as Chesterton says, that “We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent” (Heretics and Orthodoxy, p. 228).

My experiences with a baby in heart failure and with continuing medical needs has definitely created a fiercer discontent with the world as it is. But I am grateful for that discontent because it is also producing a fiercer delight: in every smile, in every new connection, and in the Father whose mercies are new every morning.

One of Our Fiercest Delights

One of Our Fiercest Delights

If I Stay

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Welcome to the Between the Lines Book Club, a book club especially for mothers and teen daughters! If this is your first time using Between the Lines, you might want to click here for an explanation and FAQs.

As a side note, these discussions will be most effective if you both read the book (Mom — no fair just using the questions to “check up” on your daughter). :) Another suggestion would be for you moms and daughters to each select three to five questions before the book club so the discussion is guided by both of you.

Please let me know in the comments section what works/doesn’t work for you, and leave suggestions for future books you’d like to see here. Happy Reading! :)

– THE DASH-BOARD

– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
– From amazon.com:

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

! PROCEED WITH CAUTION

! There is some occasional crass language, including many uses of the f-word.
! There is a sexual encounter between two unmarried teens. The scene is described using a metaphor of a cello and a bow that is moderately graphic. The characters don’t even speak of love until after they have sex.
! Christianity is viewed as being a negative/unintelligent thing.
! The main character is in a tragic car accident and hovers between life and death. Her view of death is very out-of-line with Scripture, though fortunately it is not a very compelling view.

“ SARA SAYS

(This section contains spoilers. I’m assuming you have read the book at this point, so I won’t attempt to summarize or re-cap the whole book.)

 It is interesting to me that another bestseller for teens right now involves death. I think this generation of teens is longing for meaning and purpose in their lives and they seem to be willing to face their mortality head-on, which is an interesting shift.

 I didn’t love this book. I didn’t enjoy the writing style, and I found the characters and their lives to be obviously contrived. If I were choosing a book about death to read with my teen, I would opt for The Fault in Our Stars.

” “First Times” in these books are always wonderful, always with the right person. Never with regrets or consequences. This is misleading and dangerous and oddly idealistic in the middle of books that make a point to deal with “real life.”

? DISCUSSION STARTERS

(Since a wide range of girls will be participating, questions are written at differing levels of analysis. Feel free to highlight the questions that would be most appropriate for you and your daughter and best guide the discussion. Also, I try to match the questions with the level and depth of the book.)

General Questions

The title “If I Stay” refers to Mia’s big life/death decision, but also to her decision to go to Juilliard or stay with Adam. Do you think the decisions are related? If so, how?

Do you think Mia should go to Juilliard or stay with Adam? Why?

The author states in the afterward that “Love can make you immortal.” What do you think she means by this? Do you agree or disagree?

Faith Questions

? How are Christians portrayed in this book? Kerry’s funeral (p. 168-170) involves several Christian characters.

? Mia’s mom is pro-choice, and even has a bumper sticker that says “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?” Do you agree or disagree with the sentiment? If you disagree, how would you respond to it?

? Adam’s band has a code: “loyalty to feelings is important” (p. 104) What do you think this means, and do you agree? Is there anything higher than feelings that should garner our loyalty?

? Kim says there are two types of people in the world: those who imagine their own funerals and those who don’t. Which one are you? Does/Would thinking about your death make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?

Family Questions

? Do you think Mia’s parents are true-to-life? What did you like/dislike about them?

? Mia’s dad goes through a pretty drastic personality shift — from a late-night, rockstar hippie to a button-down teacher. Do you think he changed for the better or for the worse?

? Toward the end of the book, Kim tells Mia that she still has family, meaning all the friends that have rallied around her. Do you have friends that you consider to be family? What makes the difference between considering someone a friend and considering them part of the family?

Life and Death Questions

? Mia says that she gets to decide whether to live or die (p. 88). Do you think people have a choice? Why or why not?

? What is Mia’s view of the afterlife (p. 179, 216)? Do you think she’s right?

? How does a person’s view of the afterlife affect how they live now? If Mia had your view of the afterlife, do you think she would’ve chosen differently?

? Mia decides to live after Adam reminds her of the cello and of the possibilities still ahead of her. Are the possibilities ahead of us what give life meaning? If there’s meaning beyond this, what is it?

Relationship Questions

? What criteria do you think Mia used for deciding whether or not to have sex with Adam (they had sex before they even said “I love you”)? What criteria do you think should be used? Do you think she will regret her decision if they break up? Why or why not?

? Mia’s mom says that “seventeen is an inconvenient time to be in love” (p.209). Do you agree? What age is a good age to start dating/open yourself up to falling in love? Is it possible to date and protect yourself from falling in love?

? Mia’s mom also says that “Love’s a bitch” because Mia has to lose Adam or Juilliard. Have you ever felt that that statement is true? Is there a type of love that doesn’t behave this way?

Relationships are compared to music: “All relationships are tough. Just like with music, sometimes you have harmony and other times you have cacophony” (210). How is this true in the mother/daughter relationship?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions? I would love to know how I can make Between the Lines more helpful for you. I would also love your suggestions for our next book! Please leave a comment below. Thanks! ~Sara

What’s Working Wednesday — Kitchen Gadgets

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Anything that makes cooking more efficient is a good thing in my (cook)book. Here are some things that are working for me this Wednesday to make cooking a little more fun:

1. My spice cupboard used to be a disaster. I could never find anything and the honey and other sticky items always managed to seep out over the tops and glue their containers to the floor of the cupboard. In addition, I would double my cooking time by spending so many minutes looking for the specific spices I needed for each recipe.

My spice cupboard is still a mess, and I still seem to find puddles of gooey honey. HOWEVER, I no longer waste time looking for spices, thanks to this invention

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The drawers pull out and down, allowing me to see the spices without having to dig around in a dark cupboard. This spice rack even came with labels so I can easily see which drawer to pull down! The plastic seemed a little flimsy at first, but I have had this product for 3 years now, and it’s holding up great. 

2. I like using limes in my cooking. Lots and lots of limes. My sister Emily could not believe that I didn’t have one of these, so I got one for my birthday. :) Life-changing, I tell you! This is not the exact one I have, but this lime squeezer has great ratings over at amazon.com.

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3. I’m not a big ice cream fan, but even I can appreciate this little lever of ingenuity. I cannot believe no one thought of this before now: an ice cream scoop that can actually scoop ice cream! The sharp, pointed end works like a knife to slice through the frozen tundra. No need to run hot water over this baby or let your ice cream sit out before you scoop it. (This was a gift from my parents, so I didn’t realize until just now how expensive it is –yikes! I promise it’s worth it! This one also has good ratings and is quite a bit cheaper, though I can’t vouch for it personally.)

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So there you have it! My current best friends in the kitchen (besides the little ones who “help” by taste-testing). :) What’s working in your kitchen this Wednesday?

My “Immoral” Choice

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A few days ago, the following tweet was addressed to renowned atheist Richard Dawkins:

I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma.

Richard Dawkins’s Reply:

Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.

I was stunned when I read this calloused response from Dawkins. My daughter Amelia, according to his reasoning, should have been killed in the womb. In his pseudo-apology, Dawkins said that we should be seeking to reduce suffering in the world, perversely indicating that people with Down syndrome are adding to that suffering. Contrary to his belief, it is emphatically untrue that people with Down syndrome suffer more than most. In recent studies, 99 percent of people with Down syndrome responded that they are happy with their lives, 97 percent like who they are, and 96 percent like how they look. I daresay you would have a hard time finding such positive responses among any other cross-section of society. So if individuals with Down syndrome are content with who they are, why should anyone be concerned?

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My Amelia

I think people like Dawkins are afraid that children with Down syndrome will cause suffering in society, the idea being that suffering involves having to deal with the imperfect. So suffering might mean having to look at a person who doesn’t look like everyone else. Suffering might mean having a grocery store clerk who is slower than the typical person. Suffering might mean having to be patient with someone who has difficulty getting around or figuring things out.

Suffering is being reminded of human limitations. Suffering is being inconvenienced. This is evidenced by the truth that 90% of mothers who receive a prenatal diagnosis choose to abort their babies who have Down syndrome. Our society has promoted a culture in which we feel that we’re better off without this brand of imperfection. 

When did we become such cowards? Why are we so afraid of doing hard things?

When did doing the easy thing become more compelling than doing the right thing?

When did we stop being brave enough to sacrifice for the sake of another?

Motherhood is supposed to be hard. And it is, even for those who have typical children. It is challenging, but it is rewarding. It is inconvenient, but it is good. It is painful, but it is meaningful. Sacrificing for our children truly is hard, but it is also right.

Our society judges women who do drugs, smoke, or even drink caffeine while pregnant because we know that mothers are not supposed to hurt their children. So when did it become okay to discard a child because he or she has a disability?

We should all be alarmed. We have created a society that looks at innocent, unborn children and asks how we will be affected positively or negatively by their lives. Then we decide if those children will live or die based on the answer. What kind of a warped moral framework supports this thinking?

All born and unborn humans — including Richard Dawkins  — have intrinsic value woven into the fabric of their beings. That Richard Dawkins does not acknowledge this is his loss. That society does not acknowledge this is our tragedy. 

Tolerance vs. Celebration

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There have been a slew of bakers and photographers lately who have been indicted for turning down business that would require them to celebrate a gay wedding. Earlier this month, it came to light that now a family farm has been fined $13,000 for declining to host a gay wedding in their barn, which they sometimes rent out as a venue. Oh, and they have to hold re-education classes for their employees.

 It has become an indisputable sentiment that gay people are being mistreated left and right, that they are persecuted, and that business owners who refuse to participate in gay weddings are hateful, evil homophobes. In fact, this idea has become so ubiquitous that people are being thrown out of their lines of work for not celebrating gay weddings. They are NOT being shut down because they refuse to serve gay people; in fact, I have not even heard of one instance of an establishment refusing to do business with a gay individual.

 This is frightening, to say the least. This is where defending the rights of others to conduct their businesses according to their consciences is MORE important that defending the rights of couples who want their ONE TIME nuptials to be celebrated at a particular location or with a particular vendor. The bakers, venue owners, and photographers are not being loud and proud. They are not showing up at these weddings and prohibiting the proceedings. THESE INDIVIDUALS ARE NOT EVEN STOPPING GAY COUPLES FROM HAVING A WEDDING. They are NOT infringing on their rights or even perceived rights.

Still disagree with me? Okay, try these on for size…

  1. A white supremacist comes into your bakery, looking for a birthday cake for his buddy. You disagree wholeheartedly with his beliefs (as do I, for the record). But he has a right to his beliefs, just like anyone else, as long as he is not acting on them, right? Do you serve him? OK, sure. You’re not interviewing customers before baking them cakes. Now say this same guy wants you to make him a cake that says, “I heart the KKK.” Would you do it? Or would you decide that his beliefs had crossed the line, and that you couldn’t possibly write that on a cake? I would refuse to bake a cake with that message, wouldn’t you?
  2. You are a graphic designer. A smoker wants you to create an ad for her small business. Most likely, you will comply. Now let’s say she wants you to create an ad promoting her tobacco company, saying that cigarettes have health benefits for your lungs. Do you still take the job? Don’t you want to right to refuse without facing jail time?
  3. You are an event planner. You are also a vegan for what you consider to be moral reasons. A hunter asks you to help him create a display of his most recent kills. Would you do it? Would you think it fair if you had to pay exorbitant fees in lieu of your event planning?

Some will criticize me for these examples because the aforementioned white supremacist, tobacco lover, and hunter are not members of a protected class. But what’s scary about that is that apparently those categories are fluid, changing with the current tide of governments and ideals. Gay people were not members of a protected class until very recently. Put a different government in place and in ten years, members of the NRA could be that protected class.  Think I’m crazy? Ask your grandparents if they ever would’ve dreamed that our society would be where it is today on the issue of homosexuality.

If you support gay marriage and oppose white supremacy and lying about tobacco, then TODAY you are in line with what the government supports. TODAY. Tomorrow, the government may be directing you, in your line of work, to celebrate something that goes against your conscience. Do you want the right to refuse without being forced into unemployment?

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Wake up, America. Our religious liberties are being trampled on in the name of Equality (aka whatever the libs determine is equal). Let’s break it down one more time: 

What rights are gay people asking for that they don’t already have?

Right to be served at any restaurant,  

Right to walk down the street without being harassed

Right to safety in places of business

Right to equal pay

Right to be treated at any medical facility

Right to equal use of public transportation

Right to have their marriage celebrated by any specific vendor they choose out of a myriad of options

What rights are vendors asking for that they already have but that are not being respected?

Right to refuse to serve gay people/allow gay people in business

Right to protest at private weddings

Right to bully/harass gay people

Right to not interact with gay people

Right to refuse to participate in a celebratory way in specific ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs

The lesbians in the case of the family farm were each awarded $1500 for not getting the venue of their choice. Seriously. Not for being turned down from the family farm’s apple picking event (because the family doesn’t turn down gay customers). Not for being harassed (which they weren’t). Not for being turned down for a job (the farm employs gay people). But for not getting their CHOICE venue for their wedding. This family farm even offered to host the reception, trying to compromise. Instead of getting tolerance, the farm got a lawsuit.

Oh, and no surprise here – the great State of New York was awarded the other $10,000 in the settlement. Government wins again. And it will continue to gain power as it undermines our rights unless we are willing to speak up for others when their rights are violated by Big Brother and his cronies who are currently in office. Wake up and stand up, or you’re next. 

What’s Working Wednesday — Potty Training Edition

When I potty-trained my son, I was floored by how easy it was. He was 23-months-old, and in three days was completely day-trained. I congratulated myself and considered starting a new career as a potty-trainer . . . until I tried to train my daughter (tried being the operative word!). Using the same method at the same age, this process was a frustrating, months-long ordeal. Though other parents find diapers to be much more convenient and opt for later training, I persevered because I HATE diapers so much. How old your child is won’t really matter, though: potty-training will always be a messy process! I’m grateful that along the way, I found some items that helped us to have a quick success the first time and (finally!) success the second. 

1.) http://www.3daypottytraining.com

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this method because it worked so wonderfully for my son! You have to read all of it and not waver from it at all. This worked well for my second child too; it just took about 3 months instead of 3 days! I liked it well enough that I will be trying it with my third when the time comes. I particularly appreciated that the author is available to answer questions through the website! Consistency is key when potty-training, so having some method or plan was really important to helping me stay on track when things got tough. 

2) THIS Potty!! (Disclaimer: I have never ordered from this website.)

 potty

I cannot tell you what a lifesaver this potty has been. We never go anywhere without it! If I have all three kids with me, there is NO WAY I am traipsing them all into a public bathroom, then into one stall, trying to keep two from touching EVERYTHING while trying to keep the third from falling into the toilet. (Question: Why are children obsessed with the tampon trash thingies? So disgusting.) Anyway, when one of my kids (or um, me) has to go, we just find a parking spot and everyone else stays strapped in. This particular potty uses ordinary, gallon-size ziploc bags. I keep plastic grocery bags in the car to put them in so that it’s not obvious to everyone that we’re throwing away human waste. Wow, that got gross fast. But few things are more gross than potty-training! :)

3) Mattress Protector 

mattress pad

Okay, so the method I used suggests doing day and night training at the same time. But when I potty-trained, I was either extremely pregnant or had a new-born, and I was just too tired to deal with night-time accidents. Eventually, though, the kids had to learn how to make it through the night. This mattress pad is awesome. I put it ON TOP of the sheets. If I’m lucky enough to find only the mattress pad wet, I can just take it off and replace it (we own two) in my groggy, half-asleep state. Even if the top sheets get wet, it is still easier to just replace those rather than change the whole bed. I like this particular one because the top layer is cloth, so it is just as comfortable as sheets. It’s also great if the kids are feeling sick . . . you just might save yourself a midnight bed change!

4) Froggy Potty froggy potty

This is particularly great for boys. It goes up in the front, so there is no mess for little ones learning control. Also, the entire seat comes out for easy rinsing/washing. It stays clean. 

5) Potty Covers

potty cover

These covers are expensive, and I didn’t use them as much as I thought I would, but when a bathroom is disgusting, they are a lifesaver! The entire potty gets covered — everywhere your little one can touch or swing her legs becomes germ-free. Individually wrapped, the covers fit discreetly in your purse or car.

I’m grateful for these innovative products, and I’m happy to be able to pass them on to you. Please leave a comment with any advice you have or products you love. :) After all, I still have one child left to potty-train!

 

The Fault in Our Stars

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fault-in-our-stars-poster-largeWelcome to the Between the Lines Book Club, a book club especially for mothers and teen daughters! If this is your first time using Between the Lines, you might want to click here for an explanation and FAQs. The Dash-Board below will give you an overview with no spoilers — here’s the place to look if you are still deciding whether or not to read this book. The Proceed With Caution section will give you a list of general misfirings in the book that may help you decide whether or not this book would be positive reading for your teen. The Sara Says section contains spoilers, and it is my general take on the book. The Discussion Starters will hopefully enable you to have a Mother/Daughter Book Club with lots of rich conversation. Please let me know in the comments section what works/doesn’t work for you, and leave suggestions for future books you’d like to see here. Happy Reading! :)

– THE DASH-BOARD

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
– From amazon.com:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

Opens in theaters on June 6, 2014
TODAY Book Club pick
TIME Magazine’s #1 Fiction Book of 2012
#1 New York Times Bestseller
#1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller
#1 USA Today Bestseller
#1 International Bestseller
#1 Indie Bestseller

! PROCEED WITH CAUTION

! There is some occasional crass language, including swearing.
! There is a sexual encounter between two unmarried teens. Though it is not described explicity, it is portrayed in a positive light (starts on p. 205).
! Parents are generally viewed as being aloof, while the teens are the ones with the grounded, intelligent perspectives.
! The main characters are teens battling various forms of cancer, so death is a frequent discussing topic of the characters.

“ SARA SAYS

(This section contains spoilers. I’m assuming you have read the book at this point, so I won’t attempt to summarize or re-cap the whole book.)

The Fault in Our Stars was a quick read. Though the topic was upsetting, there was enough humor in the book to keep the tone as lighthearted as it could be for a book about kids with cancer.

I appreciated the description of trying to live life, knowing that it will be cut short. What was more difficult to digest was the characters’ complete lack of faith in anything beyond their own existence. They mocked any religious dialogue (though to be fair, it was intentionally cheesy dialogue) and sneered at the Christian version of an after-life.

The most dangerous aspect of this book was the fact that the intelligent characters (the teens) were the ones who had no faith in anything outside of themselves. Teens will identify with the wit and even some wisdom given by Hazel and the others. This book subtly reinforces the cultural stereotype that anyone with half a brain has discounted the existence of a Biblical God. Smart, scientific types are the highest moral creatures, and anyone who has faith must have the reasoning of a slug. The author clearly views faith as being akin to pretty but meaningless sayings cross-stitched while looking through smudged, rose-colored glasses.

This book may bring up questions of mortality in your teen. Some teens have not yet had much experience with death, and this book could be quite unsettling for them. No one likes to think about dying, and as the characters in the book are close in age to your teen, it could be disturbing. This could be a good opportunity to talk about death and resurrection, though, and most importantly, the Gospel. (Tim Challies’s review points out “the contrast between the bleakness of Hazel’s and Augustus’ reality and the hope and joy of the gospel.”)

? DISCUSSION STARTERS

(Since a wide range of girls will be participating, questions are written at differing levels of analysis. Feel free to highlight the questions that would be most appropriate for you and your daughter and best guide the discussion. Also, I try to match the questions with the level and depth of the book.)

General Questions

? Why is the book entitled The Fault in Our Stars?

? Because she has cancer, Hazel is part of a club she never wanted to join (the unofficial Kid With Cancer Club). Are you a part of any club you wish you didn’t belong to (Kid of Divorce, Kid With Special Needs Sibling, etc)?

? Isaac says he would rather be deaf than blind, but he doesn’t get that choice. Would you rather be deaf or blind? Why? ? In the hospital gift shop, the flowers are sprayed with Super Scent (p. 76) so they all smell uniformly pretty. Is the author trying to relay a metaphor here? If so, what could it be?

? Hazel says, “I kind of wanted to be little. I wanted to be like six years old or something” (p. 274). Do you ever wish you could go back to being little for a while? Do you have a favorite memory you would like to relive?

? Augustus says, “The world… is not a wish-granting factory,” which is another way of saying Life’s Not Fair. When have you most felt like life was unfair?

Faith Questions

? How are people of faith portrayed in this book (the support group leader, Augustus’s parents)?

? How do you think Hazel would answer the question, “Why do you have cancer?” How would you answer that question if she asked you? (this might be helpful to the discussion)

? How would you describe the faith of Augustus’s parents?

? What did Augustus mean when he said he feared oblivion (p.12, pg. 168)?

Family Questions

? How are parents viewed? What are some positive and negative aspects to Hazels parents?

? How are dads portrayed in this book? Is it positive or negative?

? What did you like/dislike about Hazel’s relationship with her parents?

? Sometimes when we are wounded, we believe lies that lead us to make vows, which lead to destructive behavior. Can you imagine some lies Peter Van Houten believed about his daughter’s passing that led him to behave as he did?

Life and Death Questions

? Hazel is a vegetarian because she wants to “minimize the number of deaths I am responsible for” (p. 28). Do you agree with her reasoning? If not, do you think there is an other/better reasoning for being a vegetarian?

? What is Hazel’s view of the afterlife (p. 167)? What is Augustus’s view (p. 168)? How does a person’s view of the afterlife affect how they live now?

? When Augustus dies, Hazel writes that “He died after a lengthy battle with human consciousness, a victim – as you will be – of the universe’s need to make and unmake all that is possible (p. 266).” What does she mean by this? Why would you say he died?

Relationship Questions

? What did you take-away from this book about how to treat someone with cancer? Are there clichés people say to you that you wish they’d stop saying?

? Was it wrong for Augustus and Hazel to have sex? Why or why not? Are there wrong things that become okay to do in extenuating circumstances?

? Monica breaks up with Isaac because she can’t handle his impending blindness. We later find out that Augustus stayed with his previous girlfriend because he didn’t want to break up with a girl who had cancer. Who made the better choice?

? Isaac’s definition of true love is that love is keeping the promise to love even if you didn’t understand the promise when you made it (pg. 60-61). Do you agree with his definition? If not, what is your definition of true love?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions? I would love to know how I can make Between the Lines more helpful for you. I would also love your suggestions for our next book! Please leave a comment below. Thanks! ~Sara

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