Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Heated Debate on the Sanctity of Life

A few months ago my husband and I engaged in a dialogue concerning the pro-life/abortion debate. A mutual friend of ours had posted an article, entitled God Help Us about Obama's plans for the future legality of abortion, on his Facebook page and had "tagged" both Tim and I in it. Some of our mutual friend's other Facebook friends, though they had not been tagged, had also read the article and felt compelled to share their beliefs on the subject. We responded and the dialogue began. We had never and have never met these people. We know nothing about them except what they shared with us in the course of the comments on our friend's Facebook page. The following is the "conversation" we had. I have not changed their words at all. I wanted to share the conversation because I feel it illustrates what we as pro-life advocates are up against as we attempt to change minds and educate others about the sanctity of life. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments as well.

Anonymous #1:at 9:11pm January 31. u make it sound like he is actually killing children, when he is only allowing abortion. its not the best thing in the world to do, but if u aren't ready to have a child u should have the right to abort it

Tim Burke: at 10:58pm January 31. If you "aren't ready to have a child" then you shouldn't have sex!

Anonymous #1: at 12:36am February 1. ppl take precautions, but accidents still happen. u cant just write off having sex with someone u love. and are u telling me u aren't going to have sex until u have the intention of getting a woman pregnant?

Anonymous #2: at 3:05am February 1. What about women that fall pregnant after being raped do they have no say in weather they should have a daily reminder of the horrors they faced?

Anonymous #1:at 3:45am February 1. see there's much more to the subject that u clearly aren't seeing tim. life's not perfect, things happen. as bad as it is u cant wipe out abortion

Anonymous #2: at 3:52am February 1. Women are liberated these days, we can vote, we can work and we damn well deserve a choice. What's worse Tim a woman having a abortion or a woman selling herself to feed a baby she couldn't afford in the first place?

Tim Burke: at 12:29pm February 1. I thought a lot about my response to this, and I can delve into a long lecture about the subject, but I think I can sum it all up with the words of Mother Theresa, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you live as you wish." If you are so selfish that you can't deal with the consequences of your own actions then there is no hope for this world. With regards to the "rape" issue, only 1% of all abortions are a result of this issue, and arguments can be made against that as well.

Kari Burke: at 1:01pm February 1. Besides being murder, plain and simple, abortion is the ultimate example of not taking responsibility for your actions. If you are ready to engage in adult activities you better be adult enough to face any and all possible consequences!

Anonymous #3: at 3:35pm February 1. It's sad to think that people care more about saving baby seals than their own kind.

Kari Burke: at 4:41pm February 1. I keep thinking about this dialogue and I feel compelled to respond to [Anonymous #1's] comment about holding off on having sex with someone you love until you have the intention of getting them pregnant. The comment was posed to Tim and as Tim's wife I feel I am the best person to answer the question. Our marriage is based on love, respect, and sacrifice. True love is always about doing what is best for the other person and not giving into your own selfish and lustful desires. If the woman you supposedly love is not ready for the commitment of marriage and family than you would be showing her so much more love and respect by NOT having sex until the two of you are in a committed marriage. Real love is willing to wait and sex is worth waiting for, because without love and respect it will make you feel empty and used instead of loved and valued. I also feel I should just go ahead and point out that Tim and I are expecting our 5th child. We are living what we believe!!!!!

Anonymous #2: at 5:00pm February 1. Lad dee daa ever thought maybe the world is populated enough. You don't need a 5th child. God wont provide the water and the food when it rund out because you keep having babies. In regards to rape that would mean that every 1 in 100th person, that's a crock if i ever heard one. Its more like every 40 in 100 I guess you have never worked in a sexual assult out reach center. I guess you've never seen a 12 year old been raped by her father not even know what sex, or pregnancy is come in and have to have an abortion. I believe religion caused all wars. I dare you Prove me wrong on the religion caused all wars. If religion is darn great why does it say in the bible that a woman must marry her rapist? Religion is for deluded idiots. people tell their children not to belive in invisable friends by a certain age but here you are grown adults believing in something no one has ever seen. The same people who wrote the bible thought the earth was flat, goes to show the intelligence of religion.

Tim Burke: at 5:20pm February 1. I don't remember any one of us saying anything about religion....AND I didn't say that only 1% of the population has been sexually abused, I said that only 1% of abortions are related to sexual abuse. My heart goes out to those women and children who have been abused. I won't deny that religion causes wars. History tells us that it has. People have passion for their faith and are willing to fight for what they think is right, no matter what religion they are. However, this wasn't a conversation about religion. This was a conversation about a child's right to life and making responsible decisions in your life.

Kari Burke: at 5:30pm February 1. It is not so much that we NEED another child- though we are truly thrilled to be expecting one- as much it is that the world needs people who are willing to have children if the human race is to continue. As for your concern with over population and a lack of food and water for all children, don't worry there are 4000 children a day killed through abortion. I doubt we'll be overpopulated any time soon as long as so many people are killing their children. My 5 are a tiny contribution to the population when compared with that!!!!

Anonymous #2: 5:33pm February 1. With a title like GOD HELP US ALL.. how can it not be religious. There is a a baby does not have rights untill it is reached 20-22 weeks gestaion(sp) Maybe you should ask my mother what its like to have a 19 year old daily reminder of being raped.....See unless you've experianced or been a part of some ones life where rape has hurt them so severaly then you can not say wheather the child has a right to live...(content edited due to inappropriateness)

Kari Burke: at 5:40pm February 1. Since you want to include God I just want to say God Bless your amazing mother for choosing life for you. I bet she has NO regrets and that instead of a reminder of a horrible event in her life you are a sign that even in the worst of circumstances good can come out if you trust in God. Your life must inspire hope in so many people!

Though this dialogue occurred almost 6 months ago I have continued to pray for the participants, that God will change their minds and touch their hearts. I ask that you will pray for them, and for all those who do not value life, as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Preaching to the Deaf

Lately I feel as if I am not doing enough. As a home schooling mother, it is a feeling I am quite used to. When it comes to parenting, and especially when it comes to educating my children, I always feel as if I am not doing enough. There is always so much more that I could be doing. I should spend more time on each math lesson, going over every little point in the workbook to be sure my children understand what they are doing in their work and why they are doing it. I should be introducing them to great poetry and art masterpieces every week, giving them the chance to become familiar with the finest things the world has to offer. I should be involving them in more service projects, allowing them regular opportunities to be charitable and generous with their time and talents. When it comes to educating my children I have come to realize I will never truly be doing enough.....
Lately, I have felt as though I am falling short of the mark when it comes to serving God as well. I feel called to evangelize more but have not answered the call the way I think I should. I have been feeling a lot of guilt because I see so many people who seem spiritually lost or unfulfilled. I see so many people searching for meaning in worldly pursuits and empty endeavors. I would love to help steer them in the direction of God and a life of faith. I have been given such an amazing gift in my faith and in my Church; I feel it is only right for me to share that gift. The problems are: first, I don't quite know how to touch those who seem the farthest from God, and second, the efforts I have been making seem to fall on deaf ears.
Many of those I want to evangelize to most, seem not interested in the message. Though, I see them living a life steeped in worldly pleasures and trappings, they don't seem to have a desire to turn from it. In my prayers and in my contemplation on the subject, I thought of the instructions Jesus gave to his apostles as he sent them out to preach and cure for the first time. In Luke 9:5 He said, “And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” I am sure Jesus was not saying, “as for those people, we just don’t care.” Or “they are not worth our time or prayers.” No, I think what He meant to tell His apostles was only that some people just would not listen to their message. Some people just would not be open to conversion. We cannot blame ourselves or lose sleep over it. We can only do our best to share God’s word and His love with others and then leave the results to Him. Though I sometimes feel my efforts are not enough and are not bearing fruit, I am still serving God each and everyday as long as I pray for those who are not yet open to His message and share my experiences of His infinite goodness and love with those who are.
As I have been contemplating and praying over the last few weeks, I shared my frustrations and guilt with Tim one evening. He pointed out to me that if nothing else, I AM evangelizing to our children. As usual, he is right. Whether I feel like it is enough or not, I do have four eager, curious little sets of eyes on me everyday. I hope they see that sometimes the best way to answer God’s call is to trust in Him and to persevere in living a good and holy life.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Praising God

I once heard an interview with an atheistic scientist. He said something along the lines of," If God is real He sure keeps Himself hidden well!" I was struck by how sad, cynical, and most of all false his statement was. I suppose if one is not looking, it is possible to miss God at work in the world around us. But, ahhh with the eyes of faith one can see Him everywhere!
Thankfully, I have been called to a life of faith. God has lovingly bestowed upon me His beautiful gift of faith. It is a gift I believe He has for each of us. Some, apparently have chosen to reject it. I have humbly, though imperfectly, attempted to cultivate this gift. I am so grateful to have my faith to guide me through each day. It is my faith that helps me in my struggles and strengthens me in my challenges. I know, without a doubt, that God is here with me. I know that His love for me is endless and unconditional. I know that in my life, and in the world, all things work for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28).
My faith is surely a gift from God. And through it many other blessings come! I see God everywhere and everyday. My love for God is great and I am grateful to be able to share it with others so that no one will miss out on His goodness!
Why just today, I saw God every time I turned around. He was in the eyes of my children, as they shared with each other in their play, and as they helped each other in their work. I saw God in my husband, when he awoke at 5:30 am to go to work so he could fit in both of his jobs today to support us, and still have the evening to spend time with us! I saw God in my quiet time, filling my heart with contentment and peace. And He was there in the noise as my children goofed off and giggled while they should have been doing their school work. God is in the rain outside my window, nourishing the plants and animals, and in the sunshine that comes out afterward to dry and warm the land. He is in the Church where I went to pray, and in my heart as I headed home. In fact, I guess that is the key to seeing Him at all. God must be allowed to enter our hearts and once He does, He will truly be with us wherever we go!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our Sunday Best?

With recent news stories such as Fr. Marcel Maciel fathering a child and Fr. Albert Cutie admitting to having a girlfriend the debate about priestly celibacy seems to be everywhere these days. I thought I would add my two cents. Now, clearly I have little to go on, being first of all women and second of all happily married for practically my entire adult life (I was 21 when I tied the knot!). I admit I know little to nothing about a life of celibacy or about living a life fully consecrated to God.
However, I do live in this world and that, I believe, qualifies me to at least note the immorality of it. Furthermore, that, I believe is precisely the problem. We live in a world of constant temptation, and fuzzy boundaries, at best. On my way to Mass on Sunday, I saw at least two billboards with women in string bikinis. Now, church is only 10 minutes away from my house, and in those ten minutes my children, my husband, and I were "treated" to this lovely peep show of flesh, twice! Then, during Mass, I saw two young teenage girls both wearing dresses that barely covered their upper thighs. I am not exaggerating at all. Apparently, this is the latest fashion. I could not help but wonder what their mother's were thinking letting them leave the house dressed like that. Then, to think it was acceptable to them to allow their daughters to dress that way to go to church!
Is it any wonder our priests, who incidentally are men with natural, normal desires, struggle with their vow of celibacy? It is my belief that the vast majority of our priests absolutely mean it when they vow to live a life of celibacy. They are good and holy men, who desire to serve God in the vocation they have been called to. They are willing to make sacrifices in order to do that. But they are men, and this world does not support them in their decision to follow God. Nor does it make it easy to resist the desires they must feel everyday. I look at the sexual images around us and I understand why men, all men- married, single, and consecrated, have trouble staying true to the chastity they are called to in whatever vocation they are living.
Besides the blatant sexuality all around us every single day, there also seems to me to be a lack of healthy boundaries between men and women. I recently saw, in response to a friend's status update on Facebook, a woman referring to her own fertility in very crude terms. Does she realize how many complete and total strangers are now aware of the state of such an intimate part of her life? And, did it ever occur to her that that might be information we would rather not have?!?!?!? Similarly, my husband and I have recently been privy to a conversation with an acquaintance about the private details of her fertility treatments. I felt embarrassed hearing such personal information in the company of my husband but this woman was apparently not at all embarrassed to share them. If women are willing to so openly share this with strangers and casual acquaintances would it be surprising to find out they also shared it with their parish priest? And if not this specific information, something similarly inappropriate?
Our priests are trying their best. They are, unfortunately, as vulnerable to temptation as any of the rest of us. I am not condoning anyone's sin. I am sad and upset about the betrayal of trust whenever a priest falls into the trap of worldly temptation. But, I am also mindful of their need for our support and prayers. And in addition to our prayers, our gratitude, and our appreciation, they would probably greatly benefit from a little modesty in our Sunday Mass attire!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Leaving the Upper Room

Tim and I pray together every night before going to sleep. We start our time of prayer with the daily Mass readings and a meditation from The Word Among Us. It being Easter season, many of our reading over the last few weeks have been from the book of Acts. For those who have not spent much time reading the Scriptures, or at least the book of Acts, it is all about building up the church. Jesus had ascended to heaven. His apostles had received the Holy Spirit ( in rather dramatic fashion) and they were now spreading the Gospel to all the world.
It seems every night lately, our reading includes a small sentence that goes something like this, "Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number," from yesterday's Acts 16:5. Or "...they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples.." Acts 14:21. Or even, "...(the church) was being built up and walked in fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers," Acts 9:31. Or this one, "The word of God continued to spread and grow," Acts 12:24. Now I got to thinking, how come it was so easy to convert the people back then, and it seems so impossible today? Was it that the people were hungering more for a Savior back then? Were the stories of Jesus' life and teachings more spectacular? Was the message more meaningful at that time in history?
As I pondered I was sure the answer to all these questions was a resounding, "No!" The world is certainly just as in need of a Savior today. And it is obvious to me, most people are searching, though certainly not in right places most of the time. Of course, Jesus' life and teachings are still significant. That is the beauty of the Scriptures- they are timeless. They are alive in our lives today! The Gospel message is for all time and is certainly as applicable to our modern, busy lives as it was in Biblical times. So....what is missing today that our church is NOT increasing in number and strength each day but instead seems to dwindle in apathy?
I believe it is us. As Catholic Christians, we are often missing the zeal and passion the early church fathers had. We are missing the self confidence to go forth and share the gospel with the world. Instead I see us, strong Catholics, often huddled together as if in the upper room. We are sharing our faith, but mostly with each other! We are confident in our beliefs but keep it within the walls of our own churches and homes. My friends and neighbors know I am Catholic, they know what being Catholic means to me, but I rarely attempt to share it with them. I never invite neighbors, or non-Catholic acquaintances to learn more about the church, or to join me at Mass. I do not talk with them about all the amazing things God has done in my life. Sure, I smile and wave occasionally. I make small talk about the weather from time to time. I comment on how big their kids are getting. But when it comes to my faith, I tend to stick to the "upper room" of my Catholic home schooling group, my friends from Church, my Teams of our Lady group and ignore the needs of the rest of the world.
The disciples at the time of the Acts of the Apostles spent every waking moment committed to sharing Jesus with others. Their mission was to take the Gospel to all the ends of the Earth and they were tireless in that mission. They were not afraid of how it would be received. And, it was certainly their zeal and commitment that made people stand up and listen. They were not only preaching, but living out fully, the message of the Gospel. They were loving God and their neighbors (even their Gentile neighbors) completely and with their whole lives. People on the "outside" saw all this and wanted to be on the "inside!" They wanted a part of this life of faith. And so, when the disciples started to preach and share their stories and experiences, of course, everyone listened with rapt attention!
We must be as excited about our faith! We must be as courageous about living and sharing it! The Holy Spirit is within us and ready to guide us in our mission to share the Gospel! May we be as tireless in spreading Jesus' message! If we are willing and excited, they will come! God will bring others closer to Him through our efforts and save our friends and neighbors from their own apathy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Giving God my worst?

I have had a few really bad days this week. Now, of course, bad days are unavoidable. I tell my kids that all the time. Still, I wish I could avoid them. I don't like feeling crabby. I don't like feeling frustrated, or tired, or annoyed. I don't like these feeling, but I do usually give in to them. Furthermore, I make sure EVERYONE around me knows I am suffering through them. Then, I end up feeling guilty after wards. I really don't like feeling guilty after wards, knowing I should have been more patient, more understanding, more selfless.
So, what do I do? Do I stay in bed on those bad days and avoid the world like I want to? Sometimes, I think that would be best (though not very realistic). Instead, I need to try to unite my suffering, small though it may be, to Jesus' suffering on the cross (as one of my "twitter" friends suggested). It is hard to believe when I am in the midst of my crabby moods that God can really use my suffering for good. It is true though. There are those who can not help themselves, helpless souls in need of prayers and sacrifices on their behalf. What a better way to glorify God on those days I barely feel capable of it, than to remember and suffer on behalf of the least of God's children. So, I hope in God's time, it is not too late to offer all the difficulties I have endured this week, for those most in need. I hope God will take my meager sacrifice and use it for the good of others. As much as I might like to, I cannot avoid grumpy moods or challenging days but I can still glorify God in my compromised state of mind if only I offer it all to Him.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mother's Day Alphabet of Blessings

On this Mother's Day I want to take the time to count my many blessings....especially those most unexpected little blessings of motherhood that I never anticipated but am so grateful to have the chance to experience......

A. artwork. My children are truly my favorite artists. I love their drawings especially the pictures of themselves when they first start making people. There is something so precious about a lopsided smiley face with arms and legs coming out!
B. baby baths. I love the smell of fresh clean kids, their drippy little hair and faces, the cute little squirty toys....but I mostly love when my husband takes a turn giving baths!
C. conversations. The things my kids and I talk about range from silly to meaningful to ridiculous but I love hearing their thoughts and views on life.
D. dinner. I have said it before, both a blessing and a challenge with kids, but mostly a blessing.
E. ears. It sounds so silly but my kids have the cutest little ears.
F. friends. Both my own friends, who I met through my kids, and the wonderful little friends my children have made through the years. I am blessed to have lots of great kids in my life.
G. giggling. Those first belly laughs when they are only a few months old are priceless, and hearing the giggle of a child never loses gets old.
H. helpers. In a house full of kids, no one has to work alone, especially when baking cookies or brownies!
I. ideas. The things they come up with- their imaginations are inspiring!
J. just hanging out. Sometimes it seems like I'm in the minority but I actually enjoy spending time with my children!
K. kicks, and especially rolls in utero. It is indescribable but so amazing to feel your unborn baby stirring within you.
L. learning. As a mother, I have learned so much....and only about half of it during our school time! There are so many lessons that can only be learned by giving of yourself.
M. Mass. What an amazing blessing to share and pass on my Catholic faith to my children.
N. notes, on my pillow at night in shaky handwriting with creative spelling that I sometimes have trouble deciphering= some of my most treasured love letters.
O. overalls. My little boys lived in them until they were potty trained. There is no cuter outfit for a little boy than plain old denim overalls!
P. pitter-pat of little feet. I love the sound of toddlers running on the tile floor, it is like listening to a smile of sheer joy!
Q. quiet-game. Who can be quiet the longest? One of their favorites, and my all-time favorite!
R. reading. I love reading to my children, they love being read to even more. We have spent countless hours cuddled up together with good books.
S. sound of thumb-sucking thru the baby monitor in the middle of the night. Too cute, and so comforting to not have to walk down the hall to check if they are breathing to know they are all right.
T. Tim. Of course, Tim has been a huge blessing in my life since I met him, even before we had children, but seeing him as a daddy has given me a deeper love and appreciation for him.
U. ultrasound. It is like getting a glimpse of God at work, as He creates a new masterpiece.
V. Veggietales. Okay, I admit it I am just as entertained by Bob, Larry and Junior Asparagus as they are!
W. watching. The pride in watching a child learn to read, tie their own shoes for the first time, or ride a bike with no training wheels... nothing can compare!
X. x-citement over the littlest things. Having children changes your perspective on everything- who would have thought I would get so thrilled about seeing VW Beetles drive past us on the road?
Y. yucky list. A personal family solution to picky little eaters. It works for us.
Z. zzzz- I may have never really appreciated a good night’s sleep until I brought my first baby home and realized how rare sleep would become!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Rosary Broke!

Family prayer is so vital to maintaining strong families and raising faith-filled kids. We have always prayed as a family before bedtime but as our children got older we wanted more time together in prayer. We started praying the rosary together as a family close to two years ago. We decided the best time would be immediately following dinner. We are all at the table already and, at that time, no one should be hungry or overly tired. We started keeping our rosaries in a decorative bowl in the middle of the table and found it was a perfect way to remind ourselves to keep God in the center of our lives as well.
At first, the kids really seemed to enjoy this time of prayer together. We didn't aim too high but began with only one decade a night. In order to really include the kids we took turns leading. It did not take long until it was a regular part of our routine and one that we all benefited from. In fact, for the first year we had very few problems. There was one night when in the midst of our praying, our youngest son wandered off for a while only to come back to the kitchen with his rosary in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other. He cried out, interrupting us, "My rosary broke!" Most evenings, though, aside from a little wiggling and children losing their place on their rosary beads, our prayers were offered without incident.
Slowly, as the novelty wore off, so did the children's interest and attention spans. Instead of a nice, respectful time of prayer our family rosary became a time of giggling or griping, depending on the night. The kids started to resent the extra time at the dinner table. I was unsure of how to handle it.
One night, after a brief but stern lecture about the appropriate attitude towards prayer, I looked each child in the eye and asked them pointedly, "Are you going to pray with us and do so properly?" Thankfully, they all solemnly nodded their little heads and grabbed their rosaries obediently. I started asking them each night if they were going to participate and be respectful during our prayers. Night after night, they answered affirmatively and behaved themselves. I thought our problems were solved. And, upon further reflection, the solution seemed almost perfect. After all, the children should be praying because they choose too. They should not have to be forced into it but should want to come together in prayer. I was grateful for having come up with a way to help them appreciate the privilege of family prayer. Unfortunately, one night my 7 year old son, being at an age when he loved to test his boundaries and get a reaction out of his mother, surprised me by answering “no” to my nightly pre-prayer question. He decided he did not want to pray with us and would instead go play in his room.
I smiled at him and excused him from the table and we proceeded to pray without him. I hoped if I did not react that he would come back on his own. But now there was a new novelty, so night after night he respectfully declined to join the family and went off to play instead. Tim and I discussed it but could not come up with a way to entice our son back to the table. We knew making a big deal out of it would only make things worse.
The Holy Spirit was surely at work when a friend shared with me about her family “prayer bucket”. “We have so many prayer requests,” she told me, “that we put them all into a bucket and then pray for each request in the bucket.” I told Tim about it and he suggested we adapt her idea to make our family rosary even more meaningful. So one night, after the kids went to bed, he and I sat up writing out prayer requests on little pieces of paper and putting them into a jar. To make a long story slightly shorter, it worked.
Each night, whoever is leading the rosary starts by choosing a slip of paper and announcing who the prayers will be offered for. Every one wants a turn to choose and lead, so everyone wants to be present for prayers. The children have added their own prayers requests to our “jar” and eagerly await the night we choose their submission.
I suppose there is never an easy answer to how we pass our faith onto our children or how we introduce them to the power and beauty of prayer. Thankfully we are always led by the Spirit when we ask and our efforts, though sometimes meager, will be rewarded in time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Live and HELP live

It is not always easy to be a Christian. It is even more challenging to be a Catholic Christian. As Catholics we have very strong moral and religious convictions that we must be willing to stand up for, in a world where values and virtues are not at all appreciated. Our society tells us it is better to live and let live, than to reach out to others.
The prevailing attitude in this day and age is one of moral relativism. In other words, each person can determine what is right for them, and (if anything) what is wrong. “I'm okay, you're okay,” seems to be the mantra. No one has a right to disagree with the choices of those around them without being seen as selfish, judgmental and self righteous. Our culture maintains that there is no ultimate truth, there is no higher authority we must answer to, there are no rules to govern our choices and dictate what is truly right or wrong. Every decision seems to be left to feelings and desires. It reminds me of an old song from my high school years that says, “If it feels good, do it. If it tastes fine, drink...” Apparently this is a popular motto to have! Morality is all relative to the person, the circumstance, the situation, etc... At times I can understand this mentality. I grew up in this culture and am, to some degree, a product of it. I sometimes wonder, like others do, who are we to form opinions about the choices and decisions of others?
As a Catholic, I am blessed to have the perfect answer to that question in the example that Jesus gave us. Did He ever live and let live? Clearly no! His whole life was all about relationships. He was constantly interacting with everyone He encountered. Jesus never took a “hands off“, or “look the other way” attitude. Why didn't Jesus just leave well enough alone? Was He constantly looking at others for evidence to condemn them? He was certainly qualified to judge others. He was perfect and without sin. He was self righteous in the best way possible and could truly see into the hearts and souls of those around Him. Yet, no one who encountered Jesus ever seemed to feel judged. Even the “rich young man” from the gospels who ultimately could not bear to leave behind his riches and treasures did not seem to be offended by Jesus, convicted maybe, but not hurt or rejected. Jesus did not get involved in the lives of others to judge them. He did not ever accuse or condemn anyone, but at the same time He never allowed them to wallow in their sinfulness. He never justified the wrongdoing of others, nor did He accept any excuses offered to Him. He loved the sinner but hated the sin and He did not apologize for it!
There is such thing as sin. There is right in this world and there is wrong. Sin can not be avoided. It can not be explained away. It cannot be justified. We all do things we know we shouldn't. We all do things we wish were okay, but simply are not. Furthermore, sin does hurt us. It hurts all of us, the sinner and those around them, even society as a whole. This is not a widely held belief in the world we live in.
Many of us feel we are expected to live and let live, to accept others wherever they are morally, emotionally, spiritually. At times we’re even asked to support and encourage others in their sin. It sounds crazy but it is happening all around us! Sin is celebrated in our culture. Sin is something people are proud of and want others to respect them, not in spite of, but because of! And it is hard to stand up for truth and righteousness without being condemned for that!
It might be easier to sit back and ignore the sin around us. Christians are often rejected for standing up for our values. Christians are condemned and judged for our stance against sin, but homosexuals and abortionists are respected for being true to themselves and helping others live a better life! Yet, despite the opposition, despite the disapproval, despite the fact that the truth may leave others feeling condemned or offended we must follow Jesus’ example. We must stand up for what we know to be true and right if we love God and His people.
It is not loving to live and let live. It is not compassionate to look the other way. We all struggle with sin and sometimes need the help of others to turn back to God. There are many who are completely misguided and trapped in a life of sin. They are the ones who most need someone to care enough to help them out. We are not called to judge but we are called to get involved and to teach. Sometimes we can do this by the example of our own lives but more and more often this world needs more. We need to speak up, to preach Jesus’ words and teachings and to take a stand against sin and sinful ways. When faced with a situation of sin and wrongdoing, we must compassionately and lovingly share the alternatives of repentance and righteousness. And, of course, we must pray unfailingly and unceasing. For it is only through the grace of God that any of us is given salvation.

Monday, May 4, 2009

When baby checked in, my brain checked out!

I have been home schooling for four years now. Life has been interesting these last four years. We have had our challenges and many changes. When I started out, my oldest daughter was in first grade. She was the only one I was formally home schooling because her younger brother, at age 4, was in pre-school a few days a week, her younger sister was only 2, and the very youngest, her baby brother, was only 6 months old.
Since then, our little "classroom" has grown to include all four children. The oldest is now a fourth grader, her younger brother, a second grader, her younger sister already a kindergartener and the “baby“, at the ripe old age of four, is doing his own pre-school work right all with the others. Though, it has not always been easy and there have been many outside intrusions and distractions we have persevered and are still going strong, at least until recently...
I am now 6 months pregnant with our fifth child. We are all overjoyed about the new addition on the way, yet realistically, a little apprehensive about how a new baby will impact our school day. I am prepared that it will be a whole new challenge to juggle the four school-aged children and a newborn all at once. What I did not think to prepare for was the impact the baby is already having, months before her arrival. As my tummy expands and my wardrobe changes I have noticed the effects of this pregnancy in far greater ways than I did the last four...or maybe I just forgot some of the past difficulties. That is quite likely, as forgetting seems to be one of the biggest problems I have. I have started forgetting everything. From the tiny unimportant details (where did I put my marking pen?) to the much more significant parts of our day (have we already done math today? ). I am such a scatterbrain, I fear my children are learning nothing, but that they must watch after their mother or she may leave them behind one of these days!
Then, there is the overwhelmed feelings I have been struggling with. Though I consider myself a fairly intelligent person and I have had no problem keeping up with my children's lessons thus far, I find lately I am completely frazzled by their school work. After only an hour of instruction, I start feeling mentally exhausted. Even the kindergarten math leaves me with my brain feeling fried. Our school day, which used to be completed in about 3-4 hours, now seems to take the whole day. I have to take a break after every subject! Some days, the breaks take over and we never quite finish our work. We are falling behind, and that has not helped the overwhelmed feeling. I had planned to work right through the summer months so we could take a few months off when the baby comes in August but now I fear the summer will be less than productive, to say the least.
Thankfully, my children are smart. We have worked through challenges in the past. We dealt with seven months of Daddy being home, throwing off our schedule, when he was out of work. We have tackled the challenge of uninteresting math programs that did not work for us. We have adjusted each year as we added more work for the younger kids and welcomed them "officially" into our family school. We have faced worries about upcoming annual testing and every year they have come through with flying colors.
God will see us through this as well. That is the beauty of home schooling. It is flexible. It is family friendly. It is forgiving. If I had to be a perfect teacher, or our day had to be perfectly organized, we would not have lasted a week. Over the years there have been many hard days, many unorganized moments, and even a few disastrous lessons. I guess that is just one of the many ways home schooling is preparing my children for real life. There are distractions, there are challenges, and unexpected things often get in the way of school. Just like in life. But we continue to work hard, do our best and persevere. It is what we have to do in school, and what we have to do in life. And, though our school day may not be perfect, by the grace of God and all our hard work, my children are thriving in the midst of my forgetfulness!


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