Repost•Reuse•Recycle

{This is a mostly recycled post from my adoption blog a couple years ago. And, I’m reposting not because I’m lazy or have no new material—at least not today, but because this topic is very timely and the words still very true. I hope it ministers to you in some way today, or maybe in the future when it’s real in your life as well. It’s fairly lengthy, but I hope you will read to the finish.}
FigTreeKids 

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

-Habukkuk 3:17-18

Oh, look! A FRIENDLY WARNING! This particular blog post might not be for you. Some of you might read my words and only wish to argue. And that’s okay, as I love a good debate…sometimes. And let me mention that I think Joel Osteen has many great points, but let’s be real, he wouldn’t jive with this post. And, I’m sure many of you could find five hundred bajillion ways to discredit my points. So if you need this disclaimer, then maybe this post isn’t for you and you will probably waste your time reading it. BUT, if you want to hear some brutal honesty and some encouragement from a not-so-popular but perhaps quite common place to be when following hard after Jesus, read on. I’m writing this post, because honestly, one little status update on Facebook couldn’t contain all that is in my heart. And, I’m putting all of this out there because fake-ity, freakin’ fakeness is futile and sometimes you just need to be real because Hey, you’re not alone after all. So there. There’s my friendly warning and disclaimer. Do with it what you will.

The Fig Tree Truth

Kirk and I know so many following hard after Jesus in their walks, in their obedience, in their faith. They’ve chosen to say YES when all logic and practicality scream NO. They’ve walked without sight, obeyed without hesitation, and have sought no earthly rewards. YET, let’s be honest: The pantry seems bare, the bank account is in the red (again), the cars are in disrepair, birthday and Christmas gift-giving is a cause for stress and worry, the phone calls and bills are unceasing, and going to the mailbox is a cause for dread. They know that saying YES to Jesus doesn’t bring earthly rewards, yet they wonder if and when God will give them what would feel like a much-needed (and much-deserved) break.

We’ll be frank and tell you, friends, that we know what that’s like. The honest reality is, the more Kirk and I and our family follow Jesus and say YES with total abandon, the more we understand it. Sure, some follow Jesus and money is no worry. Some say YES and live in luxury (I guess). Some say YES and never want for anything. But for most, well, at least for us (as well as many friends), it’s just not the case.

I’m convinced that the whole point in saying YES to Jesus is not to do some great work for Him. No, I’m certain that saying YES to Him is ultimately about learning to walk so closely with Him that we trust Him not just for our future, not just for our lives’ purposes as a whole, not just for Him to use us in mighty ways, not just for the big picture, but learning to trust that He provides for the work to which He calls us, and that He does so DAILY. Sure, we would love for God to drop down a lump sum of money so that we wouldn’t have to worry about money for a whole year. We’d welcome us getting a huge raise, our income to suddenly increase, our mortgage to be paid off, and the bills to cease. BUT, for us, God has clearly chosen that we learn to follow and trust Him daily. Sometimes (and more often lately than ever before), even hourly. For us, He chooses to feed us by His manna.

Perhaps someday that will change. Perhaps someday we will not have to pray over every bill. Perhaps someday this will all just be a memory. But for now, well, we’ve chosen to put it all on God’s tab. If He has called us to this work (which we believe He has), then the burden for carrying it out falls on Him, not us. It’s easy to forget that truth when all earthly reality looks otherwise, but that’s when we remind ourselves that this Earth is not reality! The bank account in the red is only temporary! The bills in the mailbox are just pieces of paper that won’t matter in the end!

We’ve often heard and told ourselves that—no matter what comes our way—nothing will change our eternity. But, what we’ve come to learn over the past few years and that we now remind ourselves daily, is that no matter what the bank account looks like, no matter what financial needs we have, no matter what stresses might befall us, not only will it NOT affect our eternity, but it will also not alter God’s ability to use us for His purposes while on this planet! God will STILL fulfill His purposes for us! In fact, we have seen His wild purposes fulfilled through us more often when we have had so very little of our own to offer.

Think about it: Do we have so little trust in Him to think that He didn’t see it all coming? That He called us to this great work only to leave us hanging? That He needs our padded bank accounts to use us in His Kingdom? That He doesn’t know what earthly eases we have sacrificed to follow hard after Him? That He won’t use us in this place in precisely the ways He has planned no matter what? No, my friends. Not only will our temporary troubles not affect our eternities, but they won’t even limit God’s purposes for our earthly lives!

In all brutal honesty, the more we have said YES to Jesus, the more we have hurt financially. (Boy, is that an understatement.) The more our cars have fallen apart. The less we have in our bank account. The more the bills pile up. It’s tempting to fall into a crying heap and ask God for a break, to tell Him it’s not fair. {And trust me, people. That happens sometimes, and it sure ain’t pretty.} To remind Him that I could have very well chosen a high-income job and lived a self-serving life, that we could have stopped at two kids and lived a “normal” life in surburbia, that we didn’t HAVE to do this, and that instead—Are you listening, God?!—I gave it all up to serve you in ways that would humble me and press me beyond what I had envisioned for my life and would you please give me, give us, a bit of a break?!

I confess that’s a prayer, honestly, that comes out of my mouth almost every day, sometimes more than a few times within twenty-four hours. That’s a prayer that I pray not to pray anymore. And He’s teaching me. He’s revealing to me in His sweetly personal way that it is not a punishment from Him that our pantry is sometimes fairly bare; it might even be a privilege. It’s not a sign that we aren’t being blessed by Him if the bank account falls into red (again); it might even be confirmation. It’s not a message to us that we’ve made a mistake when the money is barely there; it might just be His manna.

Where we live, especially, it’s easy to think that we should be seeing earthly rewards when we say—even shout—YES to Jesus. Our wealthy society and our comfortable, American Christian culture try to convince us that we’ll have lives of ease if we’re doing everything “right,” even for Him. But it’s just not the case. For us, it has not been our experience. We’ve always (halfway) joked that Dave Ramsey would have a field day with us, because for us, following Jesus looks nothing like the financial plan Ramsey would advise us to follow. Financial peace for us? Sure, we have acquired it and have to do so daily, but it’s not because we have money in savings or a retirement waiting or money in kids’ college accounts. No, our financial “peace” comes from the Prince of Peace alone. Sounds cliché, but it’s FOR REAL STUFF, my friends.

myprovider

If you, reader, are thinking to yourself, “Wow, these Weimers must be doing something wrong. They must be irresponsible. They shouldn’t take on so many kids if they can’t pay the bills. This woman is totally OUT OF SHE MIND,” well, first of all, I’m surprised you even read this far. And God bless you for doing so, truly, but this message might be like a foreign language to you. If that’s you, then you need read no further than this: Pray for us and others and ask God what He wants from your life. The end.

If, though, everything I’ve said resonates with you because you GET IT, you’ve been there and you’re even there right now, well, to you I say, PRESS ON. Do not pick up the Word of God, read about the homelessness of Jesus, the shipwrecks and imprisonments of Paul, the wanderings in the wilderness, the manna-gathering of even God’s most precious people, and think you should not have the same. Why should you say YES to Jesus and NOT expect financial troubles or hardships? If Jesus had “no place to lay His head” and Paul had to “learn the secret to being content” even when he was living in need, then surely it’s time for us to realize that maybe our financial lack is not a sign that God has abandoned us but rather that He is right in front of us as we are following Him into the unknown!

I don’t care what your bank account looks like, because frankly, ours is looking bleak. I don’t care what the bill collectors say, because honestly, they won’t shut up. I don’t care what cars break down, what appliances need repaired, what needs might come your way even today, because JESUS KNOWS. IF you are following hard after Him and are hurting financially in ways you know you would not had you NEVER said YES to Him, consider yourself BLESSED, my friend! He is entrusting you not only with His Kingdom, but with Himself. He is calling you to follow Him in ways that many will never understand. He is feeding you by His manna because HE LOVES YOU. He knows that the moment you are self-sufficient is the moment you no longer need Jesus daily or even hourly, and that’s the moment His visible glory in your life fades. He wants you to consider it a privilege to eat of His manna because He has chosen you to follow in this precise way.

IF you are reading this post and nodding in agreement or even holding your face over a tear-drenched keyboard or iPad, because you understand every word I’ve written, I have some words of encouragement and counsel for you today, because we get it. We’ve been there. In fact, we have been living there like never before.

No Buds? No Cattle? No problem.

First, do not envy those who seem to have no earthly worries. Jesus tells us that they have their rewards in full. The Psalmist admonishes us:

“Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper— they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.” -Psalm 49:16

Along those lines, do not begrudge others who seemingly say YES to Jesus and do find earthly ease. If their prosperity is from God, that’s between them and God. If their prosperity is not from God, well, that’s also between them and God. And after all, it’s God who assigns our lots in life. For some (a few) He has indeed granted wealth, but for most He has simply given faith and His face.

Second, keep your face in the Word and in prayer. Ask God to search your heart. Are you seeking Jesus because you were hoping for an earthly reward, a payback in the form of a literal paycheck? Are you saying YES to Him with the unknown, but expecting Him to make you self-reliant? Are you making Him Lord of your will, but not of your financial fears? Are you depending on Him to lead you in the course of your life, but not to pay your bills? It makes no sense to trust Him as Lord over your calling but then take the reins and worries for the provision.

Third, stop looking at the temporary and constructing your theology based on it. Either God is who He says He is, or He’s a total liar. He doesn’t perform miracles in your family and then abandon His work. He truly does provide for that to which He has called us. He cannot NOT do it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He can certainly spare a few for you. So, when it feels like the grassy hill over there has more than its fair share of fattened cows while your ugly heifer is bone-thin and wandering in search of some weeds, trust Him. Your financial weakness doesn’t make Him a liar; it makes Him able. Believe Him.

We have all heard Matthew 6 and we love to quote it to others as words of encouragement. But do you not believe Him when He says not to worry? Do your doubt and fear label Him a liar because He hasn’t shown up like you thought He should or would?

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
 
Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

 

 If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

 

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. -Matthew 6:25-34 (The Message)

Fourth, seek His face, not His manna. Sure, He could turn your economic woes around tomorrow. He could cause a plentiful to fill your plate next week. But we don’t seek it. We seek Him. A danger of having what seems like too little is that we can end up fixating on money just as much as if we had more than enough. Either way, money is our god. Jesus warns us that we cannot serve two masters, that we “cannot serve both God and money.” So, if worries over money have captured your thoughts, you have stopped serving Him; you’re following your finances (or lack thereof). Recenter your focus now. Place your money on the altar—both the abundance and the absence, the bounty and the barren.

Fifth, continue in giving and generosity. God is even more pleased when you give out of your lack and sacrifice than out of your surplus. It does not go unseen by Him. Continue to bless others even in your hardship. Give your last two cents.

Sixth, stop being ashamed of what you think God hasn’t done in your finances and start boasting about what He has! Stop being embarrassed by your lot and start bragging about your God! Don’t know where to start? Let me help you out. In the past five years for three adoption processes, God has provided over $80,000 without us incurring a single penny of debt. In addition, we paid for our 15-passenger DreamCloud Beauty with cash. We were able to send our beloved daughter to treatment for over a year at the cost of $50,000, and while we still owe a chunk of it, God paid her expenses through the gifts of others (many strangers) and will continue to foot that bill. We moved into a house that fits all thirteen of us with plenty of room to spare. (We got it at such a steal that we pay very little more than we did in our last house that was half its size.) We have cars that are quite old but very much paid for. We have been blessed by the hand-me-downs from so many others who bring just the right clothes at just the right time. (For example, a couple years ago, one of our boys needed new Size 14 pants. I told him to pray because God would provide. Three weeks later, someone unexpectedly, without knowing our specific need, dropped off three enormous garbage bags full of clothes…including two bags of, you guessed it, Size 14 pants.) We have been graced by the Grocery Fairy on more than one occasion, bringing the exact foods we had just run out of and didn’t have the means to replace. Over the years many have sent grocery gift cards or checks in the mail, simply because God whispered it in their hearts. Ashamed of what we lack? NEVER. We boast in a God who is never lacking! 

Finally, praise Him. Start now and don’t stop. Even if circumstances never change. Even if you can’t pay the bills. Even if college isn’t an option. Even if you retire and have nothing. Even if all financial hell continues to break loose. Praise Him. Worship Him. Give Him applause for who He is.

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

-Habakkuk 3:17-18

Or, in other words, “though the salary doesn’t increase and there is no financial plan for tomorrow, though the cars break down and the refrigerator needs refilling (again), though there is no money in the savings account or even in the checking, and the bills are unrelenting, YET I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior, my faithful provider, my giver of life and purpose and my only reward” (Hab. 3:17-18, OOSM-Out of She Mind Version).

Perhaps your non-budding fig tree isn’t a sign of failure. Perhaps it isn’t cause for worry, nor reason for you to fear and fret. Perhaps your cattle-less barn is a sign that you’re doing everything right, that He is in fact pleased and proud, that He sees your faithfulness, and that He will reward you with Himself.

Forgive us, Jesus, for living otherwise, for saying YES to you only to demand and expect an earthly expansion, for envying our friends and neighbors who are self-sufficient, for craving a life that takes you off your throne so that we can feel satisfied in ourselves today. Forgive us. Be our manna. Be our today. Be our moment. AMEN.

{And to my readers, Congratulations for reading to the finish. Now go bust open that change jar and get an ice cream for your efforts. You earned it.}

{PREFACE: This is not a post about politics. I repeat: This is NOT a post about politics. So please do not make it so. In fact, should you try to do so, you’ll see real fast that you can’t pigeonhole this woman. I am as pro-life as they come. Actually, probably even more than they typically come. Pro-life for me = anti-war, anti-death-penalty, anti-guns, anti-abortion, pro-adoption, pro-healthcare. No, this is an honest and raw post about LIFE. About redemption. About hope. About how the fears we face today might not bring about the devastation we foresee but instead blessings we cannot even imagine. That being said, those who choose to make this post political will in fact be asked to leave this post. Thank you for your understanding.}

Dear Young Woman, Devastated and Afraid,

I know you. I know who you are. I know how it feels. I know exactly what you are thinking. Life as you know it—no matter what you decide—is forever changed. Forever altered. Because now, well, now there is a life growing inside of you. A LIFE. Dependent on you even as it is ever so tiny and completely unplanned. You want to rewind. You want to at least press pause. But you can’t. Because it happened. But this is not what you wanted. Not what you want. And now your happy-go-lucky world is spinning off its axis. You are in full-fledged crisis mode. Humiliated. Ashamed. Afraid. Devastated. You curl up in a fetal position—of all things—and soak your pillow with your tears. You dream of drifting into oblivion. But you can’t because This. Is. Real.

Exactly sixteen years ago, at the age of twenty and just one year away from graduating college, just one year away from my “dream wedding” and moving on to medical school to become the medical missionary I knew was in me, this was me. Spring break and home for a few days with my family and my longtime boyfriend, I discovered the worst news I could have never planned for my life. Bible study leader. Sold-out follower of Jesus. Youth group leader. And wannabe evangelist to many. All to hell now. Just two years earlier my senior classmates had voted me “Most Likely to Succeed,” and all I could think was that I was the first one to truly fail. Sheer shock. Devastation. Utter humiliation.

I had done all of the “right” things. I didn’t drink. (Still don’t.) Didn’t smoke. (Never have.) Didn’t fool around. Didn’t dress like a sleaze. Swore this would never be me. True Love was going to wait. I even had the Promise Ring to show it. Only it didn’t. We didn’t. And here we were, pastor’s daughter and prominent Christian music executive’s son, faced with the end of the world as we knew it. Dreams died in a moment of uncontrolled passion. Plans changed in a terrifying pronouncement on a plastic stick. We were pregnant.

And as a young woman who had never even stepped foot—much less any other body part—into the office of a gynecologist, I cried for three solid hours through my first exam, my first ultra-sound, my first blood test, my first baring of my body and my soul in ways I had never before.

ultrasoundBran

And as I sobbed on the examining table with barely a God-forsaken starchy sheet to cover me in my shame, Dr. Wilson (who by the grace of God was one of the kindest, most empathetic, gentle professionals I could ever hope to meet in this situation) tried her very best to console me. “It’s going to be okay. You know, I’ve found that sometimes what we think is devastating actually ends up being a blessing.” Yes. I know. But this is me. I am not a LifeTime movie or 1980s after-school special. This. Is. My. Life.

And after hours of inconsolable sobs in her office, she asked the inevitable question: “I know this is not what you planned. If you are truly this devastated, have you thought of terminating?” The look of compassion on her face will forever be cemented in my mind. But NO. No way. Not me. Not another mistake in an attempt to “fix” my first. “Okay, I’m not suggesting. Only asking. I understand if you are philosophically opposed. No pressure. End of discussion.”

And on the thirty-minute drive home with my mom at the wheel, the sobs continued even as I had no tears left to cry. Devastation made way to numbness the more the reality set in. And in a moment of truly facing my reality, I considered the option that Dr. Wilson had put forth. Abortion. Such an awful, horrific word it had always been to me. Until this very moment. Until it was ME. Until it was MY life interrupted. MY heart writhing in pain. MY mind in a torrent of fear and shame and despair.

This could all be gone JUST.LIKE.THAT. After all, I was in Houston. And in that city of millions, there was no shortage of such providers. It could be done before I even returned back to college from spring break just days later. No friend, no roommate, no other family member would ever have to know. And in that single moment, my mom considered the same, “Well, are you thinking of that?” And I had to confess, that YES, yes I momentarily was. But NO. I can’t. It’s just not an option for me, even if it is.

Because despite what my doctor said, despite what my options were, I kept hearing my mom remind me that “only God can create life.” And I knew that this life in me—even if unplanned and right then entirely unwanted—was God-placed, God-created, and God-instilled with a plan, a purpose, a possibility. So I decided, with my changing body full of trepidation, to face this head-on. Hold up my head with hope even as my hands held my belly in shame. Do what has to be done. Get married soon. And start a life I had not planned.

weddingAnd so I did. We did. Just three months later, I—with my pregnant but hidden and ever-blossoming bosom and belly—walked down the aisle to Kirk and said I do in what was (sort of but not really) the wedding I always wanted. Of course, only a few knew. Not many had any idea.

But I felt like the whole world was talking. And it’s a fact that, eventually, some many were. It’s true that the rumor mills were working overtime. It’s not hidden on me the betrayal by some of the best of my friends. I felt the sting of every word of gossip. I felt the pain of every scornful glance. I felt the shame of everyone who secretly invited it down on me.

NewbornBranBut when just five months later, all nine pounds and one ounce of my bright- and blue-eyed, blonde-haired baby boy—Brandon Kirk Weimer—landed on my chest and into my life, all of the pain, the shame, the scorn, the regret melted away.  Just. Like. That. And while that sounds idealistic and quite simplistic, it really did.

And now, after nearly sixteen years of this most amazing life now in mine, I write to you, Dear Young Woman, Devastated and Afraid. Because there’s something you need to know. There’s something you need to hear from me, me—not the politicians or pastors or pundits, something that could possibly change your life forever even after you realize it has already changed forever.

It doesn’t matter what the politicians say. It doesn’t matter what your parents say. It doesn’t matter what your friend, your priest, your pastor, your doctor says. I know your rights as a woman in our society. 8monthsBKWAnd as a lifelong advocate of equality, I appreciate the sentiment of choice. I know what the picketing signs say. And I understand their stance, too. I know—as we mostly all agree no matter how our vote may fall—that to end that little heartbeat is to take a life prematurely. And I know what God says about that as the Originator of it all.

But I want you to know that in between the pro-choice and pro-life, the politicians and the picketers, the labels we too easily let fly but so foolishly and proudly wear, there’s something called HOPE. And this is not a hope that disappoints. A hope that could possibly let down. This is the hope that demolishes every bit of the fear and devastation. This is the hope and a promise of an amazing little life that grows into an amazing little person who becomes an amazing young man who will eventually emerge as an amazing grown-up all of his own.

Bran6yearsThis is the hope of fat, little toddler feet and first grade field trips. Of eight-year-old stinky boy sweat. Of twelve-year-old antics and fifteen-year-old adventures. Of talents emerging and gifts revealing. Of years of joy filled with moments of ecstasy. Of all of the hard work paying off. The decision you made to let LIFE live bringing blessings you could never have foreseen even as you tried to imagine them.

This is a real hope. And so Dear Young Woman, while you are devastated, terrified, and humiliated, I want you to know that those genuine emotions are truly only temporary, that the sorrow and shame won’t last forever. That weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. And that you will NEVER—not ever—look into the eyes of your unique, perfectly created, absolutely incredible child of your very own flesh and wish you had chosen another way. Wish that you had rejected this unsolicited gift.

And every year that passes from this moment of sheer despair will mark not memories of the initial fears and devastation, but rather anniversaries of the best thing that could have ever happened to you. Birthdays of the most beautiful blessing. And it will be worth saying NO forever to what seems like the most logical YES right now.2ndGradeBKW

Trust me. PLEASE trust me. Because I was—for a very real period of time—that same young woman as you, devastated and so very, very afraid.

And if there’s any story, any lesson from my life—no matter what boats I will rock and waves I will make—let it be this: God has time and time again taken the worst of times and turned them into the best.

brandonandChosenThree

My little world changer, 8 years old, with his future and hand-picked-himself brother and sisters.
See what I would have missed?

Seasons of devastation and heartache ease gently into seasons of joy and gratitude. That which should have destroyed me forever builds in me a strength and hope that could not otherwise logically co-exist in a heart so often weighted down with pain in a lifetime of very hard moments.

MeandBran2years

This boy, this child, this gift, this life, this GRACE…sigh. My heart swells. For he’s mine. Completely undeserved and absolutely unprepared for. But MINE.

brandon_headshot

Not a pawn to be politicized. Not a bulleted point on a political platform. Not a picture on a picketing sign or a singular part of a preacher’s three-part sermon. Just. Mine.

meandbraninET

MINE.

MeBran15years

So Dear Young Woman, so devastated, so utterly ashamed and afraid, I just wanted you to know.

Heidi & Brandon

A Manifesto of Mercy for Goodness Sake for Meal-Making Moms Everywhere

Freaking.Blessed.Facebook and Blogworld. Oh, how I love you and hate you all at once. In my almost sixteen years of Momness, Mom Guilt has been mostly a stranger to me. That is, until YOU happened, darn Zuckerbergermeister and your Bulletin Board of Braggy, Boasty Balogna Sandwiches. Never had I been tempted to feel ashamed because I SUCK at cooking, until YOU happened. Never had I felt even slightly embarrassed by the contents of my pantry until YOU came into my life. Never did I care what I did (or didn’t) prepare for dinner until YOU invented some stupid, dumbhead NEWSFEED so that all of my friends could perpetually post fantastical photos of their magically delicious and healthily stupendous meals, personally prepared and whipped up in an afternoon of sheer delight—all whilst the younger children frolicked and played underfoot and the older ones gathered fresh greens from the garden or fetched fresh milk from the freaking farm cow’s udders. Oh, Freaking Facebook. Without you, I never would have known that in the realm of Mommy Meal-Making Momness, I rank lower than aquarium scum-suckers when it comes to feeding my precious little scavengers children.

Now mind you, I’ve never been one to care much what someone thinks of me, so this maternal inferiority is a bit of a new feeling. I absolutely hate it when moms are hard on themselves or compare themselves to others, because HELLO YOU’RE A MOM and that in and of itself is SOMETHING TO FEEL ACCOMPLISHED ABOUT! {No, really. Whether you popped a baby out from your uterus—no lie, I just asked my husband if I could say hoo-ha—or had a child delivered up via adoption, you’re freaking a PARENT and that is an honorable achievement in and of itself.} But then Monday Mealtime happened and THIS post mocked me in my Facebook newsfeed. And thus, this Confession and Manifesto. I can resist no longer!

Photo used by granted permission of a lovely Facebook friend who clearly outdoes me in the kitchen. Clearly. She must love her kids more than I do mine. Clearly. Also, she perhaps is a figment of my imagination, because THIS CANNOT BE REAL.

I know. I know. Half of you are running to your pantries and gardens to prepare your own version of salmon/cabbage/kale what-not already. You’re all, “Oh, my Organic Goodness! Why, we haven’t had fresh kale since, like, lunch yesterday! How perfectly splendid!” We’ll call you Group A. Or even Group A+ (because surely you’re grading yourself here, right?). But nana nana boo boo and la-dee-dah, because I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU, GROUP A-ers!

I’m talking to the other half of you people. You know, those moms (and dads) who are totally beneath you Group A Groupies on the Totem Pole of Food Talent. We shall call you us Group B. And WHEN IT COMES TO MEAL-MAKING, I am the self-designated Homecoming Queen of Group B, and I wear my tiara proudly. You know us. We’re the ones who are all, “Uh, like, is that photo, like, for real? Because I barely know what some of those ingredients are, much less would ever buy them, grow them, and PREPARE THEM FOR MY LITTLE PEOPLE!” Psha. Yeah. It’s for real. But it’s totally not MY for real.

Because MY pantry? Well, MY pantry is a mockery to the Whole Foods mommas, the organically growing hippy hipsters, the “Oh my GOODNESS you do know that McDonald’s chicken nuggets aren’t actually CHICKEN, don’t you? Like, haven’t you seen the pink ooze?” elites among us. MY pantry sucks when it comes to wholesome, fresh, and nutritious. Because MY pantry, well, it looks a little bit like this:

RealPeopleFood2

Mmmmmmm, Pringles. Once you pop…

Hamburger Helper, generic mac-n-artificial-cheese, Ramen noodles, and fake blueberries. Ruffles (y’know, they have yummy ridges), fake juice, and chocolate to add to our hormone-riddled non-organic milk. Tasty.

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Generic Cheese-Its, generic club crackers, and $1 Kroger special Totino’s Party Pizzas…because life’s a party at my house, y’all.

It might not be the greenest. It might not taste the best. But it’s the food I feed my kids, and I love them nonetheless! I hear about real food this and real food that, but Dear Ladies and Gents of the Organic Kingdom, this is my real food. I mean, if I’m keepin’ it real and all. I may eat fake food and feed my kids the artificial same, but I can’t be fake about it. This is all up real for me.

So here, Fellow Unimpressive People of the Internets, this is my Confession of Not Caring About My Crappy Cooking and my Manifesto of Real Meals by Real Moms.

POWER TO THE RAMEN MOMMAS at last!

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Power to you moms who feed your little fellas fried frozen fish sticks on Fridays! Because seafood should be a staple, right? And unless your child is Koda the Bear fetching fish from the Salmon Run up the river, Frozen Fish Sticks will do just fine, thank you very much.

 

Power to you parents who consider it perfectly practical to prepare pizza from a box and call it homemade cooking! Because you cooked it yourself…at home. Well done, you! And you know they say that meals served at home are the key to family togetherness. You are SUCH a together, family person!

 

Power to you dads who can’t grill worth a cow’s butt but are secure in your manhood nonetheless! Because who cares if you’ve never cooked a steak in your backyard? You make fatherhood look easy and effortless and totally fun, even if it doesn’t involve propane and fire and fancy lines on your grilled weenies.

 

Power to you mommas who gorge on gluten like it’s going out of style. (Oh, wait…It totally is!) Just call yourselves retro, because that’s totally in anyway, and think of it as hanging on to a classic. Gluten. So vintage.

 

Power to you parents who know the drive-thru workers by first name because it’s survival food at least once a week! At LEAST. And by only letting your kids order from the Dollar Menu, you’re totally rocking that family food budget. Congratulations!

 

Power to you mommas who still make your kids’ birthday cakes from a box of sweet Mrs. Crocker’s cake mix and douse the store-bought icing with artificial food coloring. Because a happy birthday for you is not an organic cake from scratch or all-natural beet-dyed icing.

 

Power to you mommas whose kids live on Ramen. Because if you add a can of corn or a frozen pack of peas, it’s half of a wholesome meal anyway. And half of anything can be rounded up to a whole, so yay for a whole meal of Ramen! Ramen forever!

 

Power to you parents who have never made a smoothie—green or not—in your very own kitchen. Power to you moms who toss a school lunch together when your kid is running out the front door. Power to the parents who scrape from the pantry just to throw something half-edible on the table. Power to the mommas who are just doing your darned best to get by. Power to the moms who consider your “duties” in the kitchen a God-awful, dreaded chore and definitely not a hobby. Power to those whose love can neither be limited nor defined by the food that you serve to your family.

 

POWER TO THE RAMEN MOMMAS!

Because, you all, in ALL SERIOUSNESS, since when did the FOOD we make, the WAY we cook, the degree of our all-natural organic-grocery-ness define what kind of MOMS we are? Since when did we measure a mother’s love for her kids by how many trips she takes to the Farmer’s Market? Since when did we feel inferior or less than another because so-and-so would never feed that to her kids? Since when? Since Facebook. Since Pinterest. Since social media schmuckiness.

I suppose if our mothers and grandmothers had posted signs in their front yards every evening announcing to the world what they were preparing for dinner, then our moms and their moms would have felt inferior, too. I suppose that as they drove by everyone else’s homes they would have felt like they sucked, too. I suppose that if they saw that Ann was making homemade, homegrown potato soup, and Susan was serving up dumplings from scratch, and Shirley was shucking ears of corn from her backyard garden wonderland, they’d feel like the Crappiest Meal-Making Mom of the Year as well. But lucky for them, they had no such public displays.

So I say to us (un?)-fortunate Modern Mommas, no more! TO KALE WITH IT!

Feed your kid the best you can and pat yourself on the back because you did. Buy the food you can afford and say what the heck to what you can’t. Drive through those drive-thrus when necessity demands it, and be happy the Dollar Menu is somewhat delicious. Don’t measure your own motherly goodness by how you feed your kids, whether you’re a goddess of Group A who would die before eating non-organic anything, or a Group B Queen who never checks a label.

To those who outshine me in the kitchen, I bow to you in admiration. I will never do what you do. But I don’t need to be you to remind myself that I’m a darned good mom, even if my kids had $1.50 hot dog combos at Costco for dinner. And I will never again scroll my Facebook newsfeed, spy your homemade spinach-topped lots-of-things-I’ve-never-heard-of, and think myself inferior. We all love our kids. We all do our best. And we all have our own ways to show it.

Power to the Ramen Mommas after all!

Why the Nye vs. Ham Debate is one of the worst ideas ever…Sigh.

The first time I saw it while scrolling my newsfeed, I instinctively reacted with a groan. Ugh. Science vs. religion. Evolutionists vs. Creationists. Those who would question vs. those who would accept it at face value. Bill Nye the famous Science Guy vs. Ken Ham, the president and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. The great debate that isn’t and never should be. February 4th at 7 PM. (Yes, you can even tune in here.)

www.debatelive.org

Now don’t get me wrong. I love a good debate. Absolutely love it. I relish the opportunity to engage in thoughtful conversation in which both “sides” hash out a topic or issue. I find it entirely invigorating discussing sociopolitical issues with those who don’t agree with my viewpoint or tackling controversial topics with those who already have it all thought out. And while I love teaching and speaking to Christians, I am truly in my element when I get to sit down and engage with the skeptics, the naysayers, the thinkers who dive into the unknowns and aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions. Though my own faith in the Creator of this Universe is unwavering and absolutely fixed, I find comfort in the tension between faith and all that we don’t yet know, and I relish any chance I get to engage in conversation right in the middle of that tension.

So while I would normally applaud any effort for two sides to come together with listening ears and open minds in a Great Discussion, I find the Nye vs. Ham debate to be the one of the Worst Ideas Ever. Why? Because, while I could be 100% wrong, I don’t think there will be many listening ears or open minds. (In fact, the idea of an open mind is scary to many people of faith and often dismissed as a liberal attempt to accept all new scientific theories as fact and reject God at the core. As for me, I’ve learned the most when my mind isn’t shut. Funny how that works, huh?)

And while I have your attention, let me tell you what this blog post is NOT. This is not an attempt to prove that the Universe is billions of years old (though I certainly believe that it is). This is not an effort to examine the evidence that the Universe was not made in six actual days (though I adhere to theories that it was not). This is not a diatribe on dinosaurs or Darwin or anything else that that would seek to divide. This blog post is an invitation to simply THINK about the Great Debate and why it shouldn’t be.

A Little Background

Way back in my first semester of college at Rice University, I took a science course in the study of space. Besides being a total Space Nerd’s dream, this was a real privilege to do at a university with an entire department dedicated to Space Science. (Yes, an ENTIRE DEPARTMENT, you guys. Ahhhhh…) At a time in my life in which I was reconsidering everything I ever knew about God and Faith and Reality (never losing my faith, but searching out more meaning in it), this course was pivotal in absolutely BLOWING MY MIND. Later that year I took Human Biology, and more MIND-BLOWING ensued.

Of all the decisions in my life, few have been more instrumental in increasing my awe-factor of God than choosing to study science in college. Though it took awhile to settle on a major (ultimately I chose two: English and Biology), having the opportunity to dive into the details of science elevated my faith in the God of the Universe more than almost any other endeavor.

And though there I was, engaging in learning among those Big Bad Scary Unbelievers (oh no!)—those who scoffed and rejected the idea of a Creator, I found a sense of camaraderie unlike I had experienced before in Academia. There’s something quite special, even quite mystical, that happens when minds come together in the pursuit of truth—whether it’s the pursuit of the origins of the Universe, the quest to discover how we came to be, or seeking out the science behind the way the whole world works. And it’s that kind of pursuit that led me not just to answers to all of the above or questions just the same, but to a greater, deeper, and more intimate fascination with this Magnificent and Majestic God who authored it all, is in all, and is all.

The Great Paradox

And that’s the funny paradox about the co-pursuit of scientific study and faith in our Creator: The more we understand about science, the more we understand about God. And yet, the more we realize how little we understand at all! And it’s that realization itself that both compels me to discover more and reveals to me how much more there is to know. Because God? Well, He’s mind-blowing! Absolutely mind-blowing! And so I want to know more and dig more and discover more…more than I knew before, and more than I knew I could ever know before. My mind is being blown even now.

The Great Mistake

As Ecclesiastes tells us, there’s nothing new under the sun. And there’s certainly nothing new about the Great Divide between those who believe in science and those who believe in faith. But I think that very chasm is the biggest mistake of all, for I have never found good reason to divide the two.

For far too long (millennia, really), people of faith have made enemies of people of science (and vice versa). And if history is any good indication of the future, those people of faith eventually accept what the people of science were telling them long ago.

I’ve always found it peculiar and sad that Christians—those who on Sunday mornings sing praises to the “God of Wonders Beyond our Galaxy”—condescend those who by their profession or passion would seek out those very wonders. How can we say we applaud the God of the Universe yet condemn those who are fascinated by a lifelong study of that same universe? How can we praise a God whom we admittedly can’t fully comprehend—whose ways are not our own—yet patronize those who seek to comprehend that what we don’t care to?

It’s the Great Mistake and the Great Divide. Forget Democrats vs. Republicans. Liberals vs. Conservatives. The pseudo division between Science and Faith does more damage to both sides than any of our politicking ever could.

Everybody Loses, Nobody Wins

So the question is, what is there to gain in a debate that once again pits scientists against Christians? The very desire for such a debate demonstrates an us vs. them mentality that the unbelieving world has witnessed far too much of.

And also? That us vs. them mentality ignores the reality that there are many of us believers in the God of the Universe who also admittedly don’t entirely know its origins and don’t think Genesis says it all. We affirm the Creator, while also affirming that the Bible is not a book of science. We revere the Author of Life, while also inquiring where that life began…and how.

The Psalmist who wrote Psalm 139 admires the God who “knit me together in my mother’s womb” and praises Him “for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” but he doesn’t dictate how God knit him together or how exactly he was made. Because the point of Scripture isn’t how but WhoLet me repeat that. The point of Scripture isn’t how but Who.

And in the same way, the first few chapters of Genesis don’t explain how; no, instead they simply explain Who. We wouldn’t chastise or criticize a person of science who would seek out the scientific intricacies behind human life from conception to birth. No, we would not condemn them for “rejecting Scripture,” and we certainly would not fold our arms and tap our foot and tell them, “Well, God said he made me in my mother’s womb. He said it, I believe it, and that’s all that matters.” No, no, no! Instead we are collectively and individually awed by discoveries that would help us to understand—even down to the intra-cellular level—just how that life came to be. And when we do that, it makes Psalm 139 all the more amazing, right?

So when the author of Genesis, in the opening sentence of the entire Bible, dictates that “In the beginning, God created,” we need not scoff at those who would seek to find out how he in fact did that very thing, even if they do not give credit where credit is due. No, in fact we should welcome it all the more, for as the Psalmist describes in Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech:
night after night they reveal knowledge.

And so do we not believe that if a doubting person should study science—the heavens, the skies, the work of his hands—that maybe, just perhaps maybe, God will reveal to them knowledge? And ultimately, that knowledge will reveal to them Himself? For as Paul explains in Romans 1:20, “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Did you catch that, you guys? If we study what has been made, it will reveal to us God! So let’s applaud the studying. Let’s encourage the searching. Let’s cheer on those inquisitive souls who would dedicate their lives to these pursuits. For in such quests God reveals! How little we trust Him to do so.

See, I have this conviction—based on my own experience and conversations with so many other lovers of science—that pitting Science against Faith is a Great Mistake in which everyone loses and no one wins. Don’t believe me?

Let’s just imagine for a minute: If Ken Ham (the Creationist) “wins” this debate (whatever that looks like to you), Christians will rally and cheer and say I Told You So to the big, unbelieving scientists, when really they said nothing beneficial at all. Creationists—which, by the way, is a misnomer that leaves little room for those who believe both in a Creator and an evolutionary process by which to create—will continue to look down their nose at Science, treating it with continued skepticism and even outright disdain. It will still be us vs. them, and everyone will go back to their own self-constructed boxes, crawl inside, and stay there until the next Great Debate that accomplishes nothing. {And, still, after all these years of following Jesus, I’ve yet to meet a single follower of Christianity who came to know God because they finally relented and admitted that the Earth is only 5,000 years old. I have, however, met many who have less desire to follow Him because Christians gave them little room to believe anything but.}

And now let’s pretend that Bill Nye “wins” this one (though I doubt Ham’s fans would ever concede to such). What does that profit the Faith? For Science to win, Faith has to lose? So you see, if Bill Nye wins the debate, he still loses after all. He’ll either be the enemy of Creationists, or the butt of all their jokes. But he certainly won’t be on their team. And that means he loses in the end, and that, my friends, is a worse tragedy than whether or not we ever know how long it took God to make this planet.

So there’s no real winner. And everyone loses. And I have nothing good to say about that.

Great Expectations

So instead I pray.

I pray for my fellow friends who are infatuated by science and all that entails, because I am right there in the realm of searching and re-searching with them. I pray that the eyes of Bill Nye would be opened, that his God-instilled inquiries into the unknowns of the universe, his desire and drive to delve into the mysteries, his passion to pursue the origins of this life, would not be squelched by those who would limit what God placed within him. I pray that the wonders Nye uncovers would uncover the wonders of the Creator. I pray that the truths he teaches would teach him the ultimate Truths. I pray.

And to those who would side with Nye, understanding that you don’t understand it all, but wanting to know all the more, I say keep on. Keep digging. Keep discovering. Keep dreaming that there is more. Don’t allow yourself to be limited by people who simply don’t know what they do not know. And keep an open mind, because in the end that is your greatest strength. And you never know what that open mind might lead to, whether it’s the origins of the Universe, or the Creator who originated it all. Keep that open mind. Keep on. Because I have Great Expectations of what you will uncover.

And to my fellow believers who stand on the sidelines to cheer on Ham and are ready to see Science Go Down Once and For All, let me beckon you to just.sit.down.and.listen. Science is no accident, and God isn’t out to confuse us. What are we afraid of? That our God can’t handle a little bit of doubt? That the Creator of the Universe—whose very ideas were subatomic particles, nuclear physics, and stellar birth and death—is put off by those who want an explanation and understanding of it all? That a group of critical thinkers with a healthy dose of skepticism could downplay the magnitude of our God? No, just no. Critical thinking—no matter whose brain is doing it—could never, ever diminish the brilliance of the Creator. In fact, I would suggest that it enhances it all the more.

And also to those on the side of Creationism (as far as it is defined by those who take on that label), let me also offer this. Every time you criticize those in scientific pursuit, every time you scoff at scientific discoveries, every time you belittle those who seek to know more, not only do you perpetuate the damaging perception that Christians are ignorant (and thus our religion the same), but you condemn the very passions placed there by the very Creator whose creation you claim to uphold. Maybe, just maybe, you are downplaying the very gifts and desires and inquisitive natures placed there by God Almighty.

But whatever you do, please don’t engage in this Great Debate in which everyone loses and nobody wins. Instead, let’s expect that God is greater than our diminished capacity to comprehend Him, and He’s far more generous with His revelations to all He created than our own willingness to share His majesties.

Let’s let Him blow our minds, and let’s not be too arrogant or close-minded to think that He can’t—and won’t—do that through some of the greatest thinking minds of our time.

And if you’re willing to sit down and engage with those who are motivated and compelled by Science, maybe they won’t be hesitant to sit down and engage with you. And a bridge is built, and no longer are Science and Faith across the Great Divide. Because after all, if God’s right there as the Creator of it all, He bridged that chasm long before any Big Bang ever could be. Boom. It is good.

{Oh, you wanted to engage right now? PERFECT. We can start right here. Let.Your.Mind.Be.Blown. WATCH THIS. It’s my new favorite.}

 

{Trust me in this. I sat reading an article on space one day and I was reduced to tears because of this photo. (I know. I warned you. Nerdiness abounds in me.) And so I keep this page from National Geographic Magazine on my bathroom mirror, because A) it’s super sexy, and B) to daily remind me of the ENORMITY of our God. How can I not trust THAT?}

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