Sometimes I Struggle To Be Pro-Life

Sometimes I struggle to be pro-life.

 

When a woman tells me that she has had an abortion,

After drinking throughout her early pregnancy

And having three children with FASD that are in the custody of the state

Who will struggle all their life with their 100% preventable disability.

I feel a bit of relief (then a heavy load of guilt for that brief feeling).

 

When I see on the news that a child rapist and murderer

receives his verdict and

Is sentenced to death for his horrific crimes

My first thought  “he got what he deserves”.

 

When I hear that the US bombed ISIS

After they kidnapped, beheaded, and crucified civilians

Simply because they believed differently

I react with an instant of gratitude that our nation is doing something.

 

My first thought is pro death.  A relief and gratitude for a final ending.

Because in a lot of ways, a final ending is easier.

But easier is not always better.

Easier is not always finding the good.

Sometimes the good is hard.

 

It is hard for a mother with alcoholism to become sober.

It is work for the community to gather around parents who are struggling

To ensure they have what they need

So they don’t have to choose between feeding the children they have or  birthing a new life.

It is not easy for an adoptive parent to raise children with FASD if their parent cannot safely raise them.

 

It is hard to remember

That we are called to visit people in prison;

Even those who justly are there for life.

And we are imperfect judges of a person’s soul.

 

It is hard to love our enemies

(even though they are so far removed as Iraq)

And hard to pray for those who persecute people who believe the same things I do.

It is hard to see a solution other than violence.

 

But there is good in the hard things.

I have seen the good in an adoptive parent’s eyes when the judge tells them a child is theirs forever.

I have seen the good in the sober mother’s chin, as she holds it high when she shows me her 90 day coin.

I have heard the good  people have learned from prisoners they have gone to teach.

And I am now struggling to find the good as I pray for ISIS as I pray for the Christians and Yazidis who are persecuted by them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel, *

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear.

Imagine living during the time this song was first penned in Latin, at least 800 years ago, in what is now known as the Dark Ages. Written so long ago that it’s actual origins are lost to time. Chanted by monks in France in an Abbey as part of the Advent celebration at a time where most people were illiterate, two thirds of the children died before the age of four, and the Black Death wiped out entire communities. When countries waged long wars over region and the Holy Land. Imagine the longing, the desperation, the hope of both the child that came and the Son of God who would appear.

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,

and order all things far and nigh;

to us the path of knowledge show,

and teach us in her ways to go

Imagine living in an era 800 years later where technology has become so complex, that any fact can be found almost instantly on the internet.  Where connecting with your friends and family across the world is as simple as pressing a button on a phone. Imagine living in a world where someone can end the world at the click of a button. Where medical technology has become so advanced, we can read a person’s DNA and cure a multitude of diseases, but the medical ethics haven’t kept up with what science can do.  In an age that for half of my life and the vast majority of my children’s lives we have been at war over religion and in that same Holy Land there is constantly under the shadow of war.

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,

and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;

disperse the gloomy clouds of night

and death’s dark shadow put to flight

Imagine living in a state where the sun barely rises in the winter. Where the cold keeps you indoors. When you are striving and striving in your work, at your home, and in your relationships, but despite your best efforts, the darkness of depression seeps in every year. Sometimes, just a little bit. Sometimes a lot. But it’s still Christmas, so you drive around see the lights and sing peppy carols. But this song, with it’s ancient words and it’s haunting melody acknowledges that everything is not all right in the world. It doesn’t pretend. It isn’t silly. But it acknowledges the hope of a future that burns brighter, even though right now, we long.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,

shall come to thee o Israel!

O come, O come, Emmanuel was translated by John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coffin from Latin Advent Vespers text.

September Art: Jessica Veldstra- Poetry “Being Still”

Being Still 

Sometimes being still is the hardest thing to be.

To stop scrambling for perfection.

To stop covering your ass.

To let go of guilt.

To be.

Acknowledging that you have done everything you can do.

You have provided stability.

Consistency.

Discipline.

Love.

Understanding that if you do anything more it will be enabling.

Of further abusive behavior.

Of manipulation.

Of histrionics.

Of crisis.

Accepting that all the expectations will, for now, fall flat.

But for now, the healthiest thing for you, for them, is to be still.

You have offered reconciliation.

You have it in the palm of your open hand.

All you can do is be still and hope someday, this gift of reconciliation is accepted.

Every day in September I will be featuring art from readers (or myself if nothing was submitted that day-so submit items!). Send me a picture, document, or video of something you created to jessicaveldstra@outlook.com

Some examples of items you could send are
•drawings
•paintings
•photography
•poetry
•short creative writing
•fashion designs
•make-up art
•jewelry you created
•videos of songs you composed
•pictures of meals you have cooked

The sky is the limit. Whatever entry gets the most views in the month will receive a small prize from me, but the point of this month is to celebrate the art we all create. I will credit you and if you have a business, I will link your website with your art.

In the Beginning…

The creation and fall story has often been upheld as a reason for the subjugation of women and misogyny in general. The below poetry is from my own perspective as a Protestant Christian  and doesn’t take into account other versions (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim) which have different interpretations of the story.

I

“So God created mankind in his own image,

    in the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.”1

Genesis specifies that God created both male and female in God’s image.

That in some small ways, we are like God.

Perhaps in that we are creative, like God

And have the ability to think abstractly, plan, and choose to love.

Male and female he created them.

When we think of God,

Michelangelo’s version of an old white man with a beard

Is just as inaccurate or accurate as Alanis Morissette playing God in Dogma.

Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty is just

As accurate or inaccurate as picturing God as the teenage girl

Giving you your fries at the drive through.

We are all created in the image of God.

But we are not God.

God is not male, nor female, nor bound to the physical.

When we refer to God as “He” it is just as inaccurate

As referring to God as “She”.

But we can only use inaccurate language and images

Because we cannot encompass the awesomeness of God

In anything we try to describe or imagine.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face”2

 

II

 “The Lord God said,

 ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.

 I will make a helper suitable for him.’”3

The word for helper used is ezer.4

This is the same word as used to describe God in the Psalm

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;

    you consider their grief and take it in hand.

The victims commit themselves to you;

    you are the helper of the fatherless.”5

But instead of just a helper,

Eve was a helper like him or suitable to him.

What the King James refers to as a helpmeet.

Not a slave, a servant, or a secretary,

But someone like him to help him. 6

 

III

Then the Fall and the Curse

 “To the woman he said,

‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;

    with painful labor you will give birth to children.

Your desire will be for your husband,

    and he will rule over you.’”7

It’s ironic how we as Christians feel it’s our duty

To fight against Adam’s curse.

To help rid, so much as we can,

The world of disease, of death, of injustice

to weed gardens

And plant fruit.

We pray as Jesus did

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

 your kingdom come, your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.”8

But in our doctrines, in our actions, in our sermons

Often the curse on woman is seen as only natural

The normal place of woman is beneath man

Silenced, led, controlled.

We let this curse invade our theology

Instead of fighting against it as we do with death, disease, sin, and injustice,

Instead of completely overcoming it as Jesus did, both in his life

His death and his resurrection.

 

 

  1. Genesis 1:27
  2. I Corinthians 13:12a
  3. Genesis 2:18
  4. A Year of Biblical Womanhood, in the chapter Eve, the Fallen by Rachel Held Evans
  5. Psalms 10:14
  6. A Year of Biblical Womanhood, in the chapter Eve, the Fallen by Rachel Held Evans
  7. Genesis 3:16
  8. Matthew 6:9b-10

Organizing, minimizing, renewing

The boys got me a beautiful new bed sets on Saturday.

It is a bit Middle Eastern or Asian in feel, with cream embroidery over black silk, rounded pillows and floral designs.

It’s beauty made the rest of my room feel chaotic, shabby and cluttered.

I needed to organize, to minimize.

I had started this process a few months ago.

Spring had given me that yearly push to clean.

I began filing paper into my newly purchased brown accordion organizer, and I realized what the last two years have cost me.

I had avoided this because it reminded me.

Two years worth of documents, worth of orders, worth of striving for every detail to be perfect and never ever achieving it.

The culmination of a decade not adding up simply because I was present and someone else was not.

Now, finally now after a winter of unwinding, breathing, being still, and letting go I find I can finally file through the archeological dig of my room.

Organizing, minimizing, renewing.

Setting the orders, the documentation, the bills and the letters into place.

Throwing away, dusting off, lining up and and beautifying.

Now, finally now, I can maintain this room.

My room.