Christian Film Festival Fail

So let me get this straight. This film won the Jubilee grand prize at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

This film?

This film?!

Perhaps this is why Christianity in America is dying. You strangle the life out of a faith when you turn it into a political stance.

And a hateful one at that.

I Am A Mother

I wrote this last Mother’s Day right after the birth of my beautiful son. I would like to share it for the first time on my blog. It is even more true today……

I have been thinking a lot recently about motherhood, Mother’s Day and my own Mom. My Mother died almost 16 years ago. I was eight years old. I have been thinking about how much she has missed in my life & how much I have needed her.

I needed her there on my first day at a new school, all 7 times. To understand that a new outfit was absolutely necessary on that first day, and to help me pick out the perfect one.
I needed her there when I discovered theater. To brag to her friends that I had gotten the lead. To clap so loud I could hear from backstage.
I needed her there when it dawned on me that Levi was the “one”. To listen to my girlish hopes and to dispense motherly wisdom about love and life.
I needed her at my wedding. I needed her last minute advice. To tell me that I looked beautiful. To remember the tissues.
I needed her when I lost my first baby. And when I lost the second. To tell me I would heal & to hold me while I cried on the bathroom floor.
I needed her when I was alone for 16 months, far away from home with my husband at war. I needed her to call me the day he left, to make sure I was okay, and to call me three days later, to make sure I was getting out of bed.
I needed her when I found out I was pregnant again. To pray with me and for me. To rejoice with me when I reached 13 weeks and there was still a heartbeat.
I needed her when I went into labor. To calm my fears and tell me I could do it. To hold my son. To love him.
The thing I needed the most, though, was identity. I needed her to illustrate womanhood. To guide me into it. At each of these life moments I felt lost. I wondered if I were handling it right. I wondered if everyone was secretly laughing at me as I muddled through. They were all in the club and I was just peeking through the window.

Everything changed three months ago, though. The balance of my universe shifted when I looked at my son. At that moment my identity stopped being Motherless and became Mother. I am now the benefactor of love, advice, acceptance, and identity. I am responsible to make sure my son never feels completely alone. Because of my loss, I do not take that responsibility lightly. And as I look back on the life I have experienced, I know that it has made me stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. These traits can only aid me in guiding my own son, and for that I am thankful. So this Mother’s Day I am not just mourning, I am also celebrating. My identity has changed. I am a Mother.

A Mini-Skirt Revolution

It bothers me that modesty is so heavily guilt laden. Modesty is completely subjective from person to person and culture to culture, yet we draw a line in the sand. It is understood that good girls don’t cross that arbitrary line.

You know what I say? Fuck it.

I was raised in that atmosphere as a child, I was instilled with that understanding as a teen, and I still get waves of that stench as an adult.

I remember getting pulled aside on a monday night as a young teen girl and lectured about how my sunday apparel had been inappropriate and caused an adult man some issues the day before. His wife had called my parents to alert them to the problem & my parents quickly disposed of the offending outfit. This was nothing out of the ordinary, either. My friends and I would swap stories about similar phone calls.

No one seemed to ask the questions we were asking. Why was an adult man unable to control himself around teenage girls in knee skimming skirts? Why was his wife calling our parents to complain instead of searching the phonebook for therapists? Why were our parents not outraged at the admitted ogling of teenage girls by an adult man?

Why? Well we have an understanding that men have issues with their wandering eyes. And, instead of training our boys and young men to learn to control their urges, instead of equipping them with tools to control themselves, instead of holding them to high standards, we blame women and seek to control their sexuality. We tell women that their bodies must be hidden. That their sexuality is a problem. That when men stumble it is because a woman was lurking in the shadows waiting to trip him up with a short hemline.

Of course, though, women’s responsibility doesn’t end there. Once married, we must keep our husband’s interest. After all, men have issues with their wandering eyes. So we, as women, must dress ourselves in such a way as to keep his eyes on us (instead of those teenage hussies singing hymns in the next aisle over). We must keep our bodies lithe and our faces young. We must meet his every sexual need. In short, we must entice our husband with our sexuality.

What a tightrope, no?

Don’t let your body entice a man! If he stumbles, it is your fault! Be sexual to entice your husband! If he stumbles, it is your fault!

When is it a man’s fault?

Oh, I know the rhetoric. “By dressing modestly, women are helping men control themselves.” How exactly is the man controlling himself, though, if the woman is doing all the work? That is certainly not self-control.

This thought pattern causes a host of other destructive issues. Women often become ashamed of their bodies. Sexual issues creep up in marriages. Women’s bodies become one-dimensional in men’s eyes and subsequently, in their own. Breastfeeding rates drop. Women are held accountable when raped (after all, she was asking for it in that outfit). Women become haters of other women, constantly seeing an enemy out to make her husband stumble. Men become controlled by only one facet of their humanity – sexuality. Men begin to loathe and fear the god-given draw they have to a woman’s beauty and sexuality. Women become afraid of men, believing that they can’t control themselves.

Is this a problem in every man? Not at all. Is this a problem in every woman? Not at all. Is this a problem in every relationship? Not at all.

But it is still a problem. And it is a heartbreaking one, because it strips both women and men of their worth and their wholeness. As Christians, instead of looking at the few scriptural points of modesty and lust and  interpreting it as “don’t actively try to temp a man” & “don’t turn a woman into a sex object in your brain”, we put the weight of a man’s purity on the shoulders of innocent girls and we demonize men who are naturally and physically attracted to the female body.

In other words, this is a problem.

In other words, women and men need to take back control of themselves.

In other words, we need to teach our little girls to love their bodies, instead of shaming them into ridiculously small boxes of “modesty”. We need to empower our sons to control themselves. We need to breastfeed openly. We need to reclaim our bodies. We need to reclaim our minds.

In other words, I think we need a revolution.

What do you say, ladies? A mini-skirt revolution? ;P

The Parent-Child Listening Room

Today is sunday, the day of rest and worship. We attended Mars Hill this morning and we were a tad late, so we had to sit in the back. Throughout the wonderful worship, WeeMan was content swaying and dancing with me as we sang praise to God. He smiled happily at the folks behind us and reveled in the commotion that is a large church. Fifteen minutes into Rob’s sermon,WeeMan became, well…. fidgety. He squirmed to get down and when placated, played happily on the floor. He periodically looked up at Husband and I and grinned – our answering grins brought squeals of delight to his lips. I was so content with my little family in that moment in God’s presence, until I saw the look shot my way by an older woman sitting across the aisle.

The message was clear… “You are being a disruption!”

Chastised, I picked WeeMan up and we walked to the back of the church where we could exist unobtrusively. As we walked to and fro I caught sight of a tiny room, the equivalent of which you can find in thousands of churches across the nation, the parent-child listening room. This room is designed to offer a space to those families who find themselves in a predicament like mine…being a disruption to the church body.

Huh?

When did we start labeling children as a disruption?

First of all, children are members of our church bodies. They are special and valuable. They deserve the same care and consideration that adults do. Would we sequester our old into special rooms because their walkers squeak and their bodily functions aren’t as controllable as they used to be?  I realize that children can be a disruption to the silent solemn atmosphere that some crave in their worship, but what message are we sending to our young when we do not welcome them, all of them, into the presence of God?

The “parent-child listening room” is today’s gentler version of the “back of the church spanking room” that I grew up with. Yes, today’s parents recognize that we cannot expect our dear little ones to sit completely still and silent throughout a long sermon, and that no amount of corporal punishment can beat into their poor little bodies an ability they have not developed yet. However, the heart of the issue is still the same, children are a disruption.

But are they?

And if they are, is that always bad?

Why were my son’s happy noises so unwelcome in a church service? And what does that say about us? As parents? As Christians?

Why do have so many outlets to get rid of children in our churches today? Children’s church. Sunday school. Nursery. Parent-child listening room. Is it so unthinkable to welcome our children into our services, to worship as one body? Yes, we would have to accept their noises, their giggles, their cries, but perhaps we might gain a little patience, joy, and compassion along the way.

Just a little food for thought I guess.

The Beginning of WeeMan PT:2

I first heard about homebirth from my Husband. He was born at home & before meeting him and my eventual mother-in-law, I had no knowledge that it was even a choice people made. (Incidentally, he exposed me to many crazy new ideas. A Christian democrat? A male vegetarian? Shocking stuff, let me tell you!) When my mother-in-law told her homebirth story, I am pretty sure my exact words were, “that is not for me! I want to be doped up from the moment I find out I’m pregnant. My motto is feel nothing.” I definitely had to eat my words.

Choosing to birth in my home, under my conditions was empowering. I found myself truly embracing pregnancy and I devoured every bit of info I could find on labor, delivery, breastfeeding and natural parenting. I watched more birth videos than I can count. I quizzed my midwife. I studied the Bradley Method. I took hypnobirthing classes. It wasn’t long before I felt like a childbirth expert.  I was ready!

Then labor hit.

I wasn’t ready!

It started out slow. I was almost a week late and getting a little nervous since my midwife was leaving on vacation in a few days. She decided to help my body along by rimming my cervix. It worked. Within a half hour of my appointment I was feeling definite contractions. We went home and I chilled out on the bed for a few hours while watching The Office. My contractions started getting more noticeable so Husband and I left for the supermarket to pick up food for everyone to have available during full on labor. By the time we got back to the car I was seriously uncomfortable. I also realized that I was only feeling the contractions in my back. Husband called my midwife and she assured us that it was probably nothing to worry about. She said that many women start out with back cramps that eventually turn into real contractions.

I began walking. And walking. And walking. Around and around our living room I went and nothing changed. My labor pains stayed in my back. Worry began to set in and Husband called my midwife again. She  told me the baby was most likely turned the wrong way and she also told me to stop walking.(Meanwhile, she was stuck at another birth.) When I stopped walking, the pain started creeping into unbearable levels. I searched my brain for all the tips I had read about. I got into the shower, hoping the water would help ease the pain. Once in the shower, the contractions began rolling over each other with barely a break and they stayed only in my back. (The best way I can describe my back labor is that felt like someone tore their way into my flesh, grabbed my spine and ripped it out of my body. The few contraction that I felt in my abdomen were a welcome relief.) My midwife arrived and immediately checked me out. She informed me that the baby was not turned wrong, but that I must be one of those women, the ones whose bodies just naturally labor in the back. Oh Joy!

By the time my midwife arrived, I was at seven centimeters and ready to get into my birth tub. It wasn’t long before I was ready to push. Forty-five minutes later I was holding the most precious little bundle. He just stared at me, barely even making a noise. At that moment everything was worth it. Every hour of pain that brought me my son is an hour I would do over and over again for that little life.

On that snowy February morning, I fell in love…..again.

The Beginning Of WeeMan PT:1

I have history of panic attacks & for anyone who has never had one, let me tell you, they are horrendous little beasts. Anything that would dull my senses would trigger one. First my heart would start beating quickly, then my breathe would speed up, my eyesight would blur, my palms would get sweaty, my mind would race, a general feeling of doom would set in & before I knew it, I would be in full-blown panic mode – sure that I was having a heart attack. Let me tell you – not fun! The doctors I consulted just wanted to feed me drugs that carried a long list of side effects, the worst of which was suicide. Since I was living completely alone, far away from family and friends and with a husband deployed, I decided to not take the risk and I declined the drugs. Instead, I learned my triggers, things like alcohol, pain meds, numbing agents (like at the dentist), red food dyes, and even exhaustion. I began to avoid those triggers like the plague & to search out natural and herbal calming agents. Things began to get a little better.

Then I got pregnant.

I began to worry about my labor and delivery. I racked my brain and couldn’t come up with more than a few women I knew who had had natural labors; most had ended up with an emergency c-section. C-section!?!? C-sections meant numbing agents! Numbing agents meant beating heart, hyperventilating, blurry eyesight, sweaty palms, racing mind, and feelings of doom. In other words, a panic attack! There was no way on earth that I wanted a c-section. So, I began researching. I devoured everything I could find on natural labor and c-section rates. What I discovered is that American hospitals have horrible c-section rates. All these “emergencies” that end in wheeling a mother off to the cutting room floor are often caused by too many interventions by doctors. Things like inductions, administration of pitocin, the breaking of water, and epidurals all significantly up the chances of a labor ending in a c-section. I also learned that by their very nature, American hospitals are not conducive to natural births. They are primarily a business and they make money by filling their beds. Natural labor is a slow process & it involves a whole lot of waiting. C-sections allow for more women to get in and out faster, which means more money for the hospitals.

With all this newfound knowledge rattling around in my brain, it wasn’t long before I uncovered a solution.

Homebirth.

I Heart Co-sleeping

My life has been so busy! Not only am I a new mom to my sweet 6 month old little boy, I am also starting a business, trying to keep up on my brand-spanking-new blog, taking foster parent training courses, and house hunting. Whew! It is actually tiring to type all that out. I am happy though. If I learned anything from surviving my husband’s 16 month deployment, it is that it is so much better to be busy than in “life limbo”.

All this busyness has really made me thankful that we co-sleep. Somedays it feels like I have made it through the whole day without having as much concentrated cuddle time with my Wee Man as I would like. It is so nice to make up for a busy day by cuddling at night. Last night, Wee Man just melted my heart. I had laid him down and an hour later I heard him let out a small cry. I hurried to our bedroom, and his sleepy eyes were patiently watching the door, never doubting that I would come. He gave me a big grin and lifted his arms to me as I laid down next to him. He grabbed my breast, curled up next to me, and had nursed himself back to sleep within a few minutes. Moments like that just reinforce that co-sleeping is the best thing for our family.

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On another note, I have started No-Poo. That’s right, I am officially starting the process of eliminating shampoo from my life. Baking Soda & Vinegar are all I get from here on out. Don’t worry, I will keep you updated! 🙂

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