Sunday, March 6, 2011

Passion #3- Then Sings My Soul

For as far back as I can remember, my heart has held a song of one kind or another.  Music has been a source of comfort, a source of healing, a source of the Spirit for me.  There have been many times when I longed to hear the whisperings of Heaven and all that it took was selecting a CD and pushing "play".    For me nothing invites the spirit quicker than the room being filled with what must be the dialect of God.

My spirit truly soars when the beautiful words sung are accompanied by a full orchestra.  There is something about the sound of all of the stringed instruments weaving together.  It's as if the sound literally wraps around my spirit and lifts me to a higher place.  Often times when a particular song moves me I imagine myself as one of the violinists adding my small part to the rest of the musicians' melodies to create the beautiful masterpiece.

As a teenager, music was my best friend.  I remember many times having one difficulty or another and I would lock myself in my room and listen to cassette tape after cassette tape.  Music brought me a source of comfort that nothing else at the time could.  My main source of music was usually albums sung by LDS artists.  The lyrics were always uplifting and talked of things that were of eternal importance.   The messages helped me to keep my eyes looking forward, to the future, always reminding me that if I stayed strong in the gospel and made good choices that I would someday enjoy all of the blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers to me.  At that time in my life it was vital that something keep me connected to heaven,  that something keep reminding me who I truly was, why I was here and where I was going.  Music played a huge part in that connection. 

I love to sing.  I am not a great singer but I love it.  I prefer to sing harmony if I am singing with a choir or with a group.  I feel blessed that Heavenly Father has given me the talent to sing on key and have a pleasant enough voice that at least my beagles in the backyard are not baying away.   I always had a secret desire to marry someone who could also sing.  I imagined my dream man and I singing together in church, being the perfect duo.  But, alas, it was not meant to be, for Heavenly Father had greater things in store for me.  When I first met my husband I didn't care for him much.  In fact, at dances I would run and hide in the bathroom if I saw him headed my way.  But one night after a fireside I found myself at his house meeting his family.  He told me he could play the piano and I thought, "Right, chopsticks."  When he sat down at his baby grand and his fingers started to play the keys, a beautiful song erupted and my heart immediately said, "I am going to marry this man."  And I did.  Heavenly Father made us the perfect duo.  Not in the way that I had imagined but something more beautiful.  I love it when he comes and finds me on a Sunday afternoon following church and he says, "Come and sing for me," and then he sits at the piano and I stand to the side of him and we create music together.

I,  along with dreaming of having a husband who could sing, dreamed of being able to sing with my children.  That part is coming to fruition.  I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters who also love to sing.  Even though genetically they did not inherit my musical abilities, they inherited that of their birth parents.  One of the characteristics that both of my daughter's birthmothers were looking for in a potential family was that the family be musical and have a love for music.  It makes me feel good inside knowing that I am able and willing and excited to share music with these children, that I am fulfilling a desire that these birthmothers had for their babies.   It is so enjoyable to start to learn 3-part harmonies as my youngest is learning to stand on her own vocally.

Today in church we had the opportunity to hear a Men's choir.  I adore a Men's choir; I could have sat and listened all day.  I don't know what it is about it that touches me so much.  I think it is because sometimes in a given song they can be singing with such volume and power and conviction that you think the walls are going to fall down and in the next instant these big, strong, masculine men  are singing with such softness and sweetness and tenderness you can't help but feel the Spirit.  I will be happy to say that my husband can sing and he enjoys it and will sing in a choir, and was up there singing today.  He just does not enjoy singing on the tiny scale of a duet.

My favorite hymns or songs are of my Savior, Jesus Christ. The ones that remind me that He is always there for me.  The ones that give me hope,  in that He made it possible for me to have Eternal Life.  I love my Savior and I am grateful that there are hymns written about Him and we get the privilege of singing those praises unto Him.  I don't think that anyone sings about the Savior more beautifully than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir ("America's Choir" as Ronald Reagan called it).  
So I would like to share with you one of my favorite hymns sung by my favorite choir, and even though I will never have the opportunity to raise my voice alongside their's,  I am with them in spirit, and  I raise my voice in testimony with them.  And as their heavenly voices ring; then sings my soul!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Passion #2- The Silent Scream

                *WARNING*   Some graphic descriptions in this post.  *WARNING*

Before I begin let me warn you that this is one of those posts that are NOT for the faint of heart.  If you choose to read it please know that it might be disturbing to you.  But I wouldn't be writing it if I didn't absolutely feel in my heart that it is something that I am compelled to put a voice to.

     All of my life I have considered myself to be pro-life.  There was never any doubt in my mind that if I would have had the blessing to conceive, I would of course carry my baby to full term, and welcome a new bundle of joy into the world.  I, unfortunately was not blessed to have that opportunity.  My womb has remained empty my whole adult life.  But, I received two of the greatest blessings in the form of sacred sacrifices from two beautiful brave young girls who chose, when faced with a very difficult decision, to give their babies the gift of life and placed them in my arms to raise, love, and cherish. 
Not only have I known I was pro-life but I belong to a church that is pro-life. 
    I have never thought about abortion much behind that.  Number one, I don't believe in it. Number 2,  I belong to church that doesn't believe in it.   Can't I just leave it at that?  What more needs to be said?  Why would I want or need to dwell on such an abhorrent subject to my spirit any more than that?
A couple of months ago I really started to feel a tugging in my heart.  I think it was when I first learned that in one year more African American babies had been aborted in the city of  New York than had been born alive.  When I first heard that I was completely and utterly shocked.  How could that be!  "According to the city Health Department, 2008 saw 89,469 abortions performed in New York City — seven for every 10 live births. Among black women, abortions out number live births by three to two."  According to this statistic the total number is staggering, almost 90,000 abortions in one year in one city!!   Something is very wrong! 
When I heard that, I knew that the days for me to bury my head in the sand and pretend that abortion didn't exist (apart from the fact that I would never have one) were over.  I started to research into the ugly truth about abortion.   There have been a few moments in my life where the word "abortion" has conjured up in my mind a picture of what one must be like.  In my naive mind's eye I imagined a needle inserted somewhere in the baby, filled with toxic medication that would make the baby "go to sleep".  Like it is humanely done for our beloved animals when they get sick or old.  Then when the baby had passed away,  somehow the woman was able to give birth to the baby and it's body was disposed of with dignity. 
Boy was I wrong.   
Let me warn you again:  The next part that I feel compelled to share is horrific to read.  It is graffic, it is ugly, and it is evil.  This is a description of what is happening in a video of an ultrasound guided abortion. There was no way I could bring myself to watch the video.  Just reading the words alone made my spirit recoil in horror.
The clip begins with an ultrasound of the fetus (girl) who is about to be aborted. The girl is moving in the womb; displays a heartbeat of 140 per minute; and is at times sucking her thumb.
As the abortionist’s suction tip begins to invade the womb, the child rears and moves violently in an attempt to avoid the instrument. Her mouth is visibly open in a “silent scream.” The child’s heart rate speeds up dramatically (to 200 beats per minute) as she senses aggression. She moves violently away in a pathetic attempt to escape the instrument.
The abortionist’s suction tip begins to rip the baby’s limbs from its body, ultimately leaving only her head in the uterus (too large to be pulled from the uterus in one piece). The abortionist attempts to crush her head with his forceps, allowing it to be removed.
In an effort to “dehumanize” the procedure, the abortionist and anesthesiologist refer to the baby’s head as “number 1.” The abortionist crushes “number 1″ with the forceps and removes it from the uterus.
 It later goes on to say that the "tissue" was disposed of in a biohazard container. 

After I read the description of this most heinous act I couldn't breath. All of my life,  up until then as horrible of a thought as abortion was, I still had it all neatly wrapped up in a box with a little bow.   That surely these people knew they were dealing with a tiny life and would treat it accordingly.  I was not prepared for the reality of it as it hit me in the face. 
So what do I do now?  What do I do with this new reality.  I know that I can never go back to the attitude of : I am pro-life, I belong to a church that is pro-life, that's enough. 
Last week as I was listening to one of my favorite radio talk shows.  The host had a guest on named Abby Johnson.  She has just written a book called Unplanned.  It is the journey in her life that started as a naive college student signing up to be a volunteer for a "good cause".   Eventually it lead her to be the director for a Planned Parenthood facility.  It ended with her fleeing from Planned Parenthood, after she learned the truth about abortion, realizing she had been lied to all of those years.   She was asked for the first time to assist with an abortion by holding the ultrasound wand.  What she witnessed was devistating to her and one week later she quit.  She is now on the side of pro-life.  The book was so good.  I encourage anyone and everyone to read it.  It is not written in a bashing way, or a political way.  It is her spiritual journey.  She walks you through her walk with God as He leads her gently to see the light, where before she knew deep down  she was living in darkness. 
Every year for about 8 years now, the Coalition for Life has had an event called the40 days for Life campaign, which ironically had it's first event outside the very facility where Abby worked.  It has now spread across the country to thousands of facilities.  For 40 days around the clock, volunteers gather in shifts, outside of Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilites in peaceful attitude of fasting and prayer.   It is not meant to be a specticle.  It is not an invitation for the kooks to show up in their grim reaper costumes, or carrying their aborted fetus signs.  It is meant to me a reverent, meaningful petition to God to bless the lives of the babies, the woman and girls (who by the way are also victims in all of this ugliness)  and the volunteers and paid staff members who work at the facilities (who sometimes are also victims in that they are not told the whole truth about what it is that goes on there.)   The way Abby described the event was so compelling to me.  I kept thinking, I would love to be involved with something like that.   It was during the 40 days for Life last year that Abby Johnson walked out of the doors and crossed the fence to the "other side".  The "coincidence" is not lost on her. 
So last night after I finished her book, I cried myself to sleep.  The thought kept running through my head "what do I do now?"  I kept praying to my Father in Heaven that if I was suppose to do something with this new found knowledge, please direct my path. I happened to look on the computer today and wouldn't you know it, the campaign of prayer and fasting that Abby talked so much about in her book starts next week.  For 40 days and nights, an around-the-clock vigil for the unborn and their mothers.  I thought, I can do that.  I know how to fast.  I know how to pray.  I do it all of the time.  What greater cause?  If my one tiny prayer can save one tiny life it will be worth it.  Where do I sign up?
There are very ugly and evil things happening at Planned Parenthood, but this entry is not focused on that.  I urge you to do your own research and discovery if you truly want to know what is behind the facade of "woman's right to choose".   A good place to start is with the book Unplanned.  I loved it.  And by reading it God has awoken something within me that is bigger than myself.  I needed that.  I am looking forward for the opportunity to learn and grow. 
This is a special journey I feel myself being drawn to.  One that is just beginning.  I have a feeling that part of the reason I am meant to go down this path right now is my being an adoptive mother.  One on the receiving end of two birthmothers who chose life for their babies.  If I can be of any help to birthmothers out there, struggling with such a burden, realize that there are other choices out there, beautiful choices, then I feel that I need to start to walk down this path and see where it leads me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Passion #1- God and Country

     So here I go...passion number one.  Wish me luck.  I may need it.  Not because I am worried that I might receive a backlashing of boos and hisses accompanied by a wet noodle, but because I am nervous that mere words will not adequately express just how much this subject means to me. 
     First let me explain that this topic is not a dual one.  It is not meant to be thought of separately;  first, of my devotion to and love for my Almighty Creator and second of my love and patriotism for the country in which I live.  No, this is the "One Nation Under God",  "In God We Trust",  "God Bless America"  topic.  The one where there is a firm belief that this country was founded under the direction of Deity.  The topic where they go Hand in hand.
      After being elected President, George Washington stated "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.  Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency."  (Fitzpatrick, Writings of George Washington, 30:292.)
      James Madison contemplated the work of the Constitutional Convention as follows, "The real wonder is that so many difficulties should have been surmounted...with a unanimity almost as unprecedented as it must have been unexpected.  It is impossible for any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without partaking of the astonishment.  It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution." (The Federalist Papers, No. 37, pp 230-231.)
     The Founding Fathers often fasted and prayed, petitioning God both publicly and privately.  They were continually expressing gratitude to the Almighty as the nation survived one major crisis after another.
     It was also the intent of our country's First Fathers to teach religion and not only allow but welcome God in our schools.  *Gasp!*  you say.  But what about separation of church and state!  Yeah, well I will address that here later. 
     In 1787, Congress passed the famous Northwest Ordinance which said:
"Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. (Basic American Documents, Littlefield, Adams & Co., Ames, Iowa, 1953, p, 66.)
     In 1962 and 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court issues two bans.  Both bans were the result of lawsuits against the teaching of religion and religious practices in public schools. Basically stating that organized prayer in schools was a violation of the separation of church and state. It was decided that publicly funded schools were an extension of the state, and that organized prayer or bible readings were a form of proselytizing. The bans not only banned mandatory prayer in schools but also banned the daily reading of bible passages.

     The lawsuits were supported by several organizations but the most outspoken supporter for banning prayer in schools came from Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists, Inc.
Read more:

     Allow me to let you in on a little secret.  The phrase "wall of separation between the church and the state", (which those who want to wipe God clean off the American History roadmap, love to use as a means for arguing their point of view), isn't even in the Constitution.  It was a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802.  His purpose in the letter was to calm the fears of the Danbury, Connecticut Baptists, assuring them that the wall  had been erected to protect them.  The metophor was used exclusively to keep the state out of the church's business, not the other way around.
     According to a survey conducted by the Pew Forum Survey on Religion, posted in the Washington Post, 92% of Americans believe in God.
     So my argument is this:  If 92% of Americans believe in God, why in the heck do we stand idly by and let the other 8% , at the most , take God out of our schools, off of our court house lawns,  out of the Pledge of Allegiance, etc.
     There are those who are working very hard to see God erased from this wonderful country of ours and the horrific thing is;  they are making pretty good strides.  The saddest thing though, is that the 92% of us on the God fearing side are allowing it.
     If they succeed in ripping God out of the founding, the history, the worship, merely the use of His name on a state and national level,  than the very thing that makes this country  so special and a country of miracles will all go away.  We will be left with a country that is no different from any other.  I frankly don't want to live in a country that is just like another, if I did, I would move.  I am so proud of this, The United States of America.  And I am sick of people slamming her and apologizing all over the place for her.  John Adams stated "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (The Changing Political Thought of John Adams, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ., 1966, p. 189.) This is a country like no other, and I really hope and pray that if it came down to it, that the 92%  who believe in God will rise up and demand that America will not be raped of the things that make her the only land of it's kind.  God's hand is here.  It is a blessed land and only we her citizens can cause her downfall by sitting back and letting the minority, the squeaky wheels, dictate what we will and won't allow.
     So another one of my passions is music, but that is for another day.  For now, please enjoy this video which was shared with me on fb, which sums up the feelings I hold in my heart and conveys the message better than my words can say.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lollipops and Rainbows-Oh wait I am ahead of myself...

So I have finally jumped onto the bandwagon of the bloggosphere.  Hopefully you won't picture me in my mother's basement sitting in my underwear with nothing better to do than blog away.  I actually am a very busy and independant individual who hasn't required my mother's basement or her paying for my take out for about 25 years now.  So, why have I hopped aboard, you ask (or maybe you don't.  I may be the only one reading this and that's ok.)?
The reason I have started this blog boils down to one word.  One single word that in itself can connote a firework of emotion...  that one word is passion!
I am a very passionate person.  Not willy-nilly, not mamby pamby, not luke warm.  When something is important to me I feel it all the way down to my toes.  Recently, my oldest daughter was asked in a church class what she most admired about her Mom.  Without much thought she replied, "My Mom's greatest and worst attribute is that she is so passionate."  I agree.  Sometimes it is hard to keep my passion in check and at a level where those around me aren't driven stark raving mad by my rantings.
I have for some time been underwhelmed at the lack of passion that seems to be "allowed" on facebook.  I have read and heard people say that facebook isn't the place to debate things that may cause passion or discussions that offer differing opinions.  That if certain things are mentioned people might get their feelings hurt, or that people are on fb to just be social and don't want to hear about things that might be of importance or carry some weight to them.  To me this equates to the post that I made on fb just last night..."I would rather stand firm in my convictions, be unafraid to voice them and allow others to do the same, than live in a world of lollipops and rainbows, fluffing butterflies out of my rearend." 
Hence the name of my blog "No butterfly fluffing here:"  I am frank.  I am no nonsense.  I am honest.  Here in the safety of my own little corner of cyberspace I can talk about whatever it is that I am passionate about and no one can declare that I can't or shouldn't.   Some days my blogging may be on some subject that has to do with that dirty little word, politics.  Some days might find me lamenting about the social ills of our country.  While on the flipside some days may be religious in nature, the things I am passionate about that fill me with joy. 
So if you choose to enter: welcome.  But let me warn you, some days may not be for the faint of heart.  This is not a land of lollipops and rainbows. And like I indicated in my fb post, I allow others to have an opinion whether it is the same as mine or not.   So comment away, but remember "No Butterfly Fluffing Here."