Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jesus Camp (Part 1)

I've been wanting to blog about this movie ever since I first saw it a few months ago.  And I have so much to say about it I'm going to have to break it down into 2 parts...possibly 3, although I'm really going to try to not make it that long.  Please watch the video clips

If you have not seen this movie, here is a little preview:

*video link*------->

This is a documentary that follows 3 children to the same christian summer camp (camp is for children 6-13 yrs old, I believe)  The religion of these children (and the camp) is stated as "evangelical christian"  which is kind of a broad term, seeing as evangelical is defined (Webster's dictionary) as "1. of or according to the gospels or New Testament. 2. of those protestant churches that emphasize salvation by faith in Jesus."  There are many, many protestant denominations, so keep in mind that the people in these videos are from one protestant denomination and it is not the norm for most evangelical Christians.  Saying that, I must also add that there are many churches that are this radical (not the majority, but there are many)  You are much more likely to see speaking in tongues, people falling and convulsing  in a Pentecostal or Assembly of God church.  They are much more charismatic than, let's say,  Church of Christ, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian.  This is my knowledge, based on my experiences of growing up in different churches, so if I'm wrong, please correct me.  I actually grew up in a charismatic Assembly of God church, so this movie really hit a personal nerve.  As a teen, my family joined a "non-denominational" (but very similar to baptist) church.  I have friends of different denominations and have visited their churches.

 It would be very easy for me to just rip into this movie (and Christianity) if I were an atheist, but I am not.  I am still a believer.  I have a relationship with God and I try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.  I believe in the gift of tongues and I believe in the power of prayer, so it saddened me greatly to watch this documentary.  And it reminded me, yet again, of how far we have come from true Christianity.  Here are some things that really bothered me:

*video clip (@2:20)*------->

1"Every parent brain washes their kids with their own, let's be fair" -- Becky Fischer, head pastor of Jesus Camp.

Yes, it's true that we all "brainwash", to a certain extent, our children.  We do not consciously do it (well, most of us don't).  Being around us 24/7 our children are bound to pick up on our words and actions and apply them in their own lives.  It's inevitable.  What I have a problem with is that she uses this as justification for purposely taking advantage of children. 

The rationality of "It's inevitable.  There's nothing we can do about it" is about as logical as "We're bound to make mistakes (sin).  It's inevitable, so let's not put in one ounce of effort to prevent it"  It makes no sense.  It's a BS justification.  If we can acknowledge that children are very impressionable and are bound to be brainwashed/molded by their surroundings, shouldn't we be a whole lot more careful about our choice of words and actions and not take advantage of this fact?

2Creationism is the only possible way the world was created. 

video link------------>

I have friends and family members who teach their children similarly, and I don't want to offend anyone.  But at the same time, I don't think they realize the negative impact this kind of one-sidedness (not sure if that's a word, but you get what I'm saying) creates in kids.  Many home schooled children from conservative christian homes think that public schools, democrats (especially Obama), evolution, and science in general are bad, and that these things go against the Bible.  I don't even think some parents are aware of the things they do and say that instill these ideas into their children.

God blessed us with intelligence and, I believe, he loves science.  As a child I always said "I don't believe in science" which I now find very ironic, because my heart is now run by a pacemaker.   What I meant by "I don't believe in science" was that God is above science.  He is capable of anything, so just because science says one thing, it doesn't mean that that's the end of the matter.  But I never explained myself and people just made fun of me.  I grew up being taught creationism and my parents would make fun of other scientific theories.  They threw a fit when our public school was teaching evolution and told us numerous times that evolution is a huge lie.  I understand where they were coming from, but I still don't think it's the right approach.

Sticking with my first point, I think we should not be taking advantage of the fact that children are very impressionable.  We should be fully aware of it, and choosing our words wisely.  Here's my thing, IF the God of Christianity is the truth and he is the one and only true God...and IF the Bible is truth, like we claim it to be, why are we so afraid of our children learning what other's theories/beliefs are?  Do we not believe they will be intelligent enough to decide (when the time is right) which is truth and which are lies? 

Mathew 7:7 says, "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you"  IF we believe this verse is true, shouldn't we be confident that our children will find truth?  Should we not be encouraging them to seek out truth and to be sure of what they believe instead of repeatedly shoving one idea in their face? Should we not be asking God to give our children wisdom to make the right choices...and then actually have peace that what we're asking will be given unto us?  I don't know about everyone else, but I want my daughter to come to have genuine faith in what she believes.  I want her to be sure that God is real; not because of what her mama told her is real, but because of an honest seeking and finding of the truth.  Why does this idea so terrify parents?

 I'm not saying keep your mouth shut and don't talk about God, I'm just saying be honest!  Tell your children that you believe this and that, but also explain that other's do not.  And do not put others down  for what they believe or laugh at the claims of other religions in front of your children.  This just creates intolerance and misunderstanding. 

The boy in this video was 12 yrs old and I think that some political issues are fine to discuss.  I think that when they're controversial subjects, like global warming, it's best to give both sides of the argument and let them make up their minds.  But let's be honest, most political issues are beyond a child's understanding (children under 12 yrs old anyway) and we really do not need to discuss them with children.  The most a young child should know about global warming is that our world is a gift and we need to take care of it. That's something we can all agree on...I hope. If you're going to talk about political issues, like gay marriage, abortion, etc.,  with your older children please discuss them in a respectful way.  Which brings me to the next thing that greatly disturbed me...

3Abortion:"Do you know that a third of your friends should be here tonight, but they never made it..."

*video link*-------------->

This one upset me so much.  I think it was so upsetting, because I remember being told about abortion at a very young age (at least 7 yrs old)  And the only thing a child that young can understand is that a baby is being "killed".  Children do not understand the timeline of a fetus' growth, nor can they grasp the heart wrenching circumstances often involved in abortion. 

I am "pro-life".  I do not agree with abortion, although I do have an understanding for cases such as rape, incest, risk of mother's life.  It's a very complex issue that does not have a simple answer.  But I was not taught that as a child.  I was only taught that little, sweet babies were being killed because people were selfish.  I love my mother for being brutally honest about issues, and I admired her passion for what she believed, but I can see from experience that it was probably not the best approach at such a young age.

I would have less of a problem if it were brought up to children in a very "this is a very complicated, adult issue..." sort of way, but that is usually not the case in conservative Christian homes.  It is talked about with such emotion, hatred, and disgust, which only instills that into the children. 

Another huge problem I have is that most Christian families I know tell their children about the horrors of abortion before they even discuss sex.  How backwards is that?  If they are not mature enough to understand how a baby is made, they are definitely not mature enough to grasp the complexities of abortion.

And the pressure put on the children in this video is so sad.  Telling a child they need to pray for the end of abortion, because "they have the power to change the world" and telling them it is "their responsibility" to pray for Christian political leaders is ridiculous.  I believe in prayer, I do.  What I don't believe in is putting that kind of pressure on children. And then having them feel the guilt of "If only I had prayed more..."  And I know that most Christians do not purposely guilt trip children, but what they don't understand is that that's just how a child's mind works!  If you're telling them they have power to change something and they try...and then nothing changes, it's a huge unintended guilt trip that they do not deserve. 

When it comes to children, I believe that the most important things to instill in them are the fruits of the spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22) 

And let me say something else, I think many Christians today have forgotten how powerful leading a good example is.  I'm not talking about turning down an alcoholic beverage in front of your children and feeling like you lead a great example. And I'm not talking about having the entire Bible memorized and quoting it often to your children.  I'm talking about the minute by minute way that you carry yourself, speak and act in front of them.  Children pick up on every tone of voice, every change in attitude, every joke you make at another's expense, every look you make, and every word they overhear.  No one is perfect.  I'm not asking perfection of anyone.  I am asking for responsibility and for humility when you realize you've messed up.  We, Christians, have become masters at defending ourselves, especially when we're wrong.  We need to own up to the bad examples we lead at times, ask for forgiveness and try to do better.  A lot better.

to be continued...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"I Didn't Fart...I Was Just Making Elephant Noises" and Other Embarrassing Stories

I moved from Chicago, Illinois to Memphis, Tennessee in the 6th grade (11 yrs old).  It was not a very smooth transition.  I was born in Chicago (south side), and lived in culturally diverse neighborhoods  throughout childhood.  We moved to a quiet cul-de-sac in a suburb outside of Memphis and it was very different from what I was used to.  Don't get me wrong, it was very exciting and it felt like my family was moving up the social ladder (popularity was always the most important thing at that age) but still, very different.

 So, as you can imagine, things that were "cool" in the windy city weren't cool in these southern suburbs. You will be able to see in the pictures that my "style" of flannel shirts and crop tops were not a hit with the popular kids.  Middle school was rough.  High school wasn't much better.  It has been 10 yrs since these events took place and I can now, please, feel free to laugh as loud as you like.  I tried to keep these stories in chronological order.

** I had an imaginary dog in 6th grade.  Oh, you think I'm joking?  No.  She was a miniature, white poodle, named Fifi.  I carried a picture of her with me to show people who could not see her.  I had a pretend leash for her too.  She went to class with me.  I created her mostly as a joke, but looking back now I think I was kinda lonely.  Oh, and she died by suicide on the last day of 6th grade by jumping off the school roof.  Or so the story goes...

Yeah, I realize that one is more disturbing than funny, but stick with me here.

** 6th grade:  I made a cat in art class out of paper mache and I spent hours on it.  It was life sized. Like, I'd go to the art room every chance I could get to work on it.  My friend (we became friends in 7th grade and are still very close today)  told me, "I always just thought you were that weird girl with the paper cat in art class"  Apparently, they would make fun of me when I would go in to work on it.  Well, guess who placed 3rd in the school wide, paper mache, art contest? Take that, bitches!  Who's the loser now?

My mom had that cat on display in our dining room for years. hahaa.  What a sweet mama I have.

** At the end of the summer after 6th grade, right before starting 7th grade, I decided that I didn't want bangs.  BUT I did not want to wait for them to grow out.  So the most logical thing to do, in my mind, was to shave them off.  Oh yes, I did.  I instantly regretted it.  I didn't want anyone to see me.  It was mortifying.  I would pull the sides of my hair over it to sort of hide it but right in the middle was visible.  I ended up cutting bangs again to hide it, which is why when they finally grew out my bangs were super thick.  You can sort of see the shaved part in this pic, as it was growing out...

We often wore matching shirts. 
Dang, my mother really should have tweezed my eyebrows

** Moving on to 7th grade...there was a boy that I liked who lived down the street from one of my friends, so they both rode the same school bus.  I asked her to ask him if he'd ever "go out" with me.  She asked and he answered, "No, because she's a lesbian"  12 yr old boys are so kind.

I can't really blame him though....

This is me in 7th grade (on left), still sporting the flannel shirts and crop tops
Taken in the bathroom at school
For their own sake, I will not name the other girls

** Still 7th grade...We all (me and my 3 friends)  were in love with the same boy.  We would write poems about him, listen to love songs while talking about him and the worst:  we would call his home (I stole the number off of the class roll at school) and play "For You I Will" by Monica into the phone and then hang up.  We did this at every sleepover, until that ill-fated night when his older sister *69ed the phone number, called us back, and told us to stop calling.

** We decided the next step to take with this boy was to write a group letter to him.  It went something along these lines "We really like you.  You're a cool guy.  We'd love to be friends with you.  Is that okay?"  And then we all signed it and passed it to him.  I think we had a line on there for him to sign, to show that he was in agreement.  It was ridiculous.

**This same boy sat one row over and one seat back from me in history class.  One day we were making animal noises in class and someone made a really funny one and I laughed so hard that I farted.  LOUD.  He sooo heard it and said "Ugh!  Becky did you just fart?" The only thing I could come up with on the spot was, "I didn't fart...I was just making elephant noises with my mouth"  I then preceded to recreate an elephant noise with my mouth.  But I couldn't... and he knew the truth.  It was painfully embarrassing.

** My husband likes this next story and quotes it often.  The summer after 7th grade I was afraid I would never see that boy again, so I mustered up some courage and called...his friend.  Come on now, I was not brave enough to talk to my dream lover one on one.  So I called his friend and asked him "Well, do you think he'd ever go out with me?  Like, maybe we could meet at the movies or something...."  And he said "Yeah, I'm sure he'd be down for that.  I mean, it's not like he's only into looks" 

Ouch.  Teenage boys aren't even aware of how poorly they choose their words.
And no, he never did agree to meet me at the movies.  Apparently he was only into looks

Those are my favorite (and most horrifying) middle school stories.  High school wasn't much better.  I may have to do a separate blog for high school.  Here are some more pictures for your entertainment :)

8th grade dance
I'm in the middle, bottom row...matching my friend, yet again
Notice the giant bangs? 

This is my sophomore year of high school (I am on top)
This is when I discovered Sun-In and theater.

I am on the far left in red.  Theater class.

If you have any embarrassing middle/high school stories I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Doctor Update

So...many people know that I had some pretty scary complications with my pregnancy with Adalee.  To catch you up in case you were unaware, I have adult congenital heart disease, asthma and a pacemaker.  Those were present before my pregnancy.

 As if that's not enough, at 12wks pregnant I bled into my lungs and had to be MercyFlighted to  Portland and had an 8 hour lung embolization procedure. They were not sure what caused my blood vessels to, basically, burst, but they suspected it was the pregnancy. Although, with my medical history it could have been caused by a number of things.  I was not allowed to work, lift things, etc. for the rest of the pregnancy. 

During this lung embolism mess, I had to get 4 blood transfusions...and during the transfusions my blood produced an "antigen E"  Which means (in the most simplified terms) that it formed an antibody against the protein E that is found in certain blood cells.  Soooo what this means for me and having babies is, if my child carries this "E protein" in their blood my blood will attack the baby.  Adalee obviously did not carry this protein (thank God)

AND during my 8th month, I developed a heart arrythmia and had to be put on medication.  Adalee had to be delivered in Portland, which meant I had to go up there a month before the due date and live in an extended stay hotel until she was born. 

During the actual delivery I was not allowed to push at all, because they were afraid that the strain on my heart and lungs would cause A.  Heart failure or B. more bursting blood vessels in my lungs.  She was delivered by forceps 3 weeks early.  She was perfect.  I was perfect.  Everything went as beautifully as we could have hoped.  Thank you, Jesus! 

Ok, so now you are caught up.

We met with the perinatologist today to discuss the risks of having more children.  There are all of the risks of the last pregnancy, but it's even more complicated this time, because my lungs are not fully functioning because of the embolization (plus, the already present asthma) We run the risk of me bleeding into my lungs again, having a similar heart arrhythmia, or worse: complete heart failure. Or baby not making it to full term (Adalee was early, and women with heart/lung complications can go into very early labor if there is too much strain on their bodies)

 The chances of me dying during delivery are about 40%,  although they just made up this percentage because there are not other similar cases they can compare mine to.  Also, the whole "Anti E" thing is huge, because if Dan's blood tests positive for the E protein (we don't know if he has it yet) they will have to do an amniocentesis while I'm pregnant to test the baby's blood for it.  And IF the baby does carry it they will have to do an intrauteral (probably spelled that word wrong) blood transfusion on the fetus...through the umbilical cord...every week

Can you imagine the risk involved in giving a fetus a blood transfusion EVERY WEEK? And the cost of all this?!

It was almost comical hearing this woman talk.  In fact, Dan and I started laughing.  We stopped her and asked straight up "What is your honest opinion about us having more children?" 

She told us "We aren't really allowed to say 'don't have kids' or 'yes, have kids' but since you asked...this is one of the most complicated cases I've seen in a very long time.  If you did decide to get pregnant, it would not only be terrifying for the both of you, but for every single doctor involved.  Unless you have a strong, nagging desire in your hearts that is telling you you have to have more, I would absolutely not recommend it"

The risk of the Anti E, on top of the crazy medical issues I could possibly face, are just too much.  Dan and I had been leaning, very much so, towards not having any more of our own.  And we just wanted to have an open mind, because we know that God is bigger than all of these complications, which is why we were even considering having more and decided to have the consultation. 

But the more I prayed and thought about it I really felt good about the idea of not having any more biological children.  When I was sitting in the waiting room before our appointment I wasn't even hoping to hear we could have more.  Not that I wouldn't have wanted that, but my point is that I was completely content with whatever they would tell us.  And anyone that knows me even a little bit, knows that I have always wanted a million children and the thought of me not being able to have my own would have crushed me in the past.  God's really changed my heart and I feel so incredibly lucky just to have one child. The appointment was confirmation of what we already felt God telling us.

 It seems selfish of me to complain about not having more when, against all odds, I had Adalee.  There are so many couples who can't have any children and there are millions of children in the world who desperately need a family.  My heart has always been open to adoption and I really feel God moving us in that direction.  I'm excited to see where God leads us.  And, no, I'm not canceling out the possibility of God healing me and us having more.  I know that's always a possibility.  I'm content. And excited for the future, whatever it may be.

My New Crush

Our dish washer broke last week.  Upon removing it, Dan found this little man wedged between the wall and washer...


He is amazing!  His arms, legs, knees and neck are movable and his facial features are very defined. 
                       He is quite handsome.  Adalee and I keep fighting over him.

Later, while Adalee was distracted by coloring, I stole him away for a photo shoot...

We had a lot of fun.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Child Prodigy

Yes, all parents at some point in their child's life consider them to be a prodigy.  But in this case, it's true. 

Ok, so I just googled "child prodigy" and it turns out that Adalee is probably not a "child prodigy",
but dang it, I still think she's awesome!  And very talented. My Grandma Jean always put an emphasis on the arts and would take us on frequent trips to The Art Institute of Chicago.  She passed away when I was 13 but I think that she's still with us, and I believe that she is giving Adalee art lessons (in spirit, of course).  Yes, yes I know that sounds a bit crazy.  But when I watch Adalee draw I see her drawing the same way my grandma used to teach us.  I've never sat down and tried to guide her drawings, so it's very interesting watching her draw as if someone is telling her step by step.  I'm not really one to believe in ghosts...but part of me wonders if perhaps God grants visits...?  I suppose it's wishful thinking.  Point is, my grandma would be so proud :)

To most people these would look like scribbles of a toddler, but if you've ever had a child or worked with actual toddlers you would agree that she's pretty darn good.  Most 2 yr olds do not even draw a circle well.  And if you think I'm boasting, let me just say that Adalee did not start walking until 1 1/2 years old and she is over the age of 3 and still not even trying to potty let me rejoice in what she is doing!

                                                                     2 1/2 yrs old 
                                                      They look sorta comic like, eh?

                                                                      2 yrs 10 months
                                     She painted a bird.  Do you see it?  The green is the "tree", the bird
                                      itself is yellow and the feet (are they called "feet"on a bird?) are pink

      This next one looks a little crazy.  But I assure you, Adalee knew exactly what she was drawing and told me what each part was, so I put a larger picture underneath, with labels.

                                                                       2 yrs 11 months

                                                                           3yrs old
                                                                Isn't that an awesome circle?!

Adalee draws and paints a couple times a day. I've been pretty bad about not taking pictures of her drawings, but I was happy that I at least got these few.  I am so in love with that little girl!

Oh, I am also in love with my husband and I know my next post was supposed to be about him, but it's going to be fairly long and I'm too tired to do all that is coming though