“Is She A Down Syndrome?”

Recently, my wife and I packed up the family for an afternoon of hiking and exploring in Helen, Ga. We could not have asked for a better day. The kids loved the hike, the weather was perfect and memories were made.   After our hike we had dinner in Helen and we walked around the quaint little mountain tourist town.

My children are Ty (8), Karis (5), Katie (5), and Joy (22 months).   Joy has Down Syndrome(DS).   To be real honest this last detail about Joy is mostly irrelevant in our family.

To us she is just Joy.

She is a great blessing to all of us and rarely does her genetic condition affect us. This is so true that most of the time I forget she even has DS.

On our trip I had forgotten…

I walked with my older children, held my wife’s hand, and pushed little Joy in her stroller.   As we ate ice cream and waited to get our balloon animals, a well meaning young lady looks at Joy and smiles and says to Charyl, “Aw, Is she a Down Syndrome?’’

It doesn’t take long to come back to the stinging reality that our little girl is different and when other people see her they notice Down syndrome and not Joy.

As we walked back to the car that afternoon I had some big old crocodile tears well up in my eyes. As a parent nothing hurts more than when you feel like others do not see the value in your children in the same way you do.

While the conversation was innocent and the young lady was kind, I could not help but feel pierced in the heart by her words, “Is she a Down syndrome?” To a person who does not have a child with special needs this question may seem completely innocent and appropriate but somewhere in the last 22 months I have become one of those overly sensitive parents. Please forgive me. This is not like me.   I am not a particularly emotional or sensitive man.   I rarely cry, in fact I see this as a flaw in my character that I do not feel things as deeply as others, but I have become very sensitive about Joy.   I almost cry as I type this…because I can’t help but desire for people to see Joy as I see Joy. I want them to see HER and not her “Syndrome.” I want others to value her as I value her!

So, NO! She is not “A Down Syndrome.”

She is JOY!

She is made and crafted in the image of God.

She is valuable.

She is beautiful.

She loves to follow her sisters.

She loves to give hugs.

She has a smile that lights up the world.

She has siblings that can’t wait to get home from school to play with her.

She claps and cheers for everyone.

She wakes up happy.

She likes to help her daddy cook.

She is very opinioned and will not eat her carrots no matter how you try to sneak them in.

She is resilient.

She brings hope.

She is her mama’s heart!

She is her daddy’s heart!

Every life God creates carries the stamp of divinity. If we will take the time to get to know people we will be shocked by the beauty we can find in each soul.

I did not ask for, nor did a want to have a child with Down syndrome.   It will always hurt my soul that Joy will struggle with simple things that typical children take for granted.

In spite of my desires God knew better than I did.

I am so thankful that God knows what is best for me when I don’t know how to ask. I am so thankful He brought JOY into my home.

God’ s greatest gifts are often disguised as presents we think we don’t want or don’t need.

When you see a family that has a child with special needs, if you desire to interact with them, ask the person’s name.   Every person is more than their disability.   Say an encouraging word. The family probably needs to hear it.   Find something good you see in the person with disabilities and complement their ability.   It may be as simple as saying, “You have a beautiful smile.” It may mean the world to that family. Be kind and considerate.

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I Need Your Help With My Daughter With Special Needs

I have been a parent of a child with special needs for about 17 months now.   It has been a journey that started off as shocking. When our 4th child was born, we found out she was born with Down Syndrome (DS). Through our belief that every human life is made from God, in the image of God, and knit together in the womb by God, we knew a blessing had been given to us—but it was still a shock. When our tears dried and the dust settled on our new normal, we started to get to know our new little gift, our Joy.   While Joy’s health has been good, there are many challenges she faces that typical children do not face. There is the constant worry that we are not doing everything we can to help her development.   These are worries and fears we face with all of our children, but they are amplified with Joy. My greatest worry is for her heart.   Not her physical heart (thank God it is doing great), but for her soul, her emotions.

To say Joy has been a delight to our lives would be a dramatic understatement. She is a little sunshine to everyone she comes in contact with. Her siblings cannot wait to wake up every morning and hug her. They constantly fight over who gets to play with Joy. God did not make a mistake…He never does. He always takes what is difficult and, given enough time, He turns it into something very beautiful.   It is never in our time, but always in His.

Now, on to what I need your help with.

I do not need money to help with Joy (although therapies and doctors visits are very pricey.).   I do not need you to take care of her (although, if you want to watch her and the other three I am never opposed to date night with my wife). I need you to love her.   No, I mean really love her like a person.

One thing my wife and I have learned through this journey is that people are people no matter their physical limitation or intellectual capacity.   What has been heartbreaking is the colossal ignorance of society in general. As I look at the speck in society’s eye let me first say that this has been a log in my own eye that Joy is helping remove.   While I have always tried to love people, my comfort level with those with special needs has been limited. Most people are uncomfortable when they are around someone with special needs. They do not know how to act; they do not know what to say. The great irony in this is that while typical people can be very judgmental, those with special needs are mostly loving and accepting.   There is no reason to feel weird other than the fear of the unknown.

2 things I need help with:

It seems the answer to the “problem” of children with DS is making sure that you get tested while you are pregnant and have time to get an abortion. This is harsh but it is just the reality. Depending on the studies you look at, between 80-90% of children with DS are killed in the womb. My soul trembles at the joy and hope that is being stolen from our dark world. What a horrible thing that families would exterminate their children because they are different.   I need your help. If you are tested and the test comes back that it is probable that your child has DS please allow that child to have life. If you cannot handle the stress, then allow your child to be put up for adoption. I have been told that there is a waiting list of families who specifically want to adopt children with DS. Choose life.

The second way I need your help is simple–this: please love Joy like a real person! I know this may sound odd but it is something that bothers my wife and I. People with DS are just people! They may move a little slower. They may not be able to do higher levels of math and some of them may talk funny (For some people, this has to do with their hearing and the size of their tongue.) THEY ARE JUST PEOPLE! They love, they laugh, they hurt, they cry, they have dreams, they have ambitions and they have feelings.   I see so many posts and articles on the internet by well meaning people (many times I am tagged in these or they are shared on my facebook wall) that frustrate me.   Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.   I have seen a number of young girls with DS that may be asked out to the prom by a popular boy in school. The boy makes a big deal about it and it goes viral and makes everyone feel good that the typical popular boy takes out the sweet little girl with DS.   It is heartwarming and makes that boy feel like he is really making a difference. But I don’t think of it that way. I am that little girl’s daddy!   That little girl is not a puppy or a party favor. That girl has real feelings and emotions that, to me, are way more important than someone having a “photo opportunity.” I come home to that little girl who may be crying on her pillow because the boy who took her to the prom never called her again. She doesn’t understand why he won’t take her out again.   He had a great night and everyone applauded him, but my little girl is left with the feelings of inadequacy and hurt because she knows she is different. She knows she has DS and a typical boy would never care for her in that way. I used to struggle with how much my daughter would know. Would she be high functioning?   Now I struggle with a different battle. I am afraid she will know too much. I am afraid she will be too ‘typical’ and still have DS. I am afraid that she will feel the sting of being a young teenage girl that stops getting asked to hang out with the girls who were her friends when they were little.   I am afraid that she will not understand why she might not be able to get her drivers license when her brother and sisters did. I am afraid these and a hundred other little things that most parents don’t have to think about. I will do my best to help her through it. I know she is strong. I know she will bring light everywhere she goes. But I wrote this just to bring a little perspective to those of you who may not have a child with DS.

I need your help.   I need you to treat Joy and other people like her, like a person. Take time to remember that she has the same feelings and desires that you do. Treat her as a fellow image bearer of God!   Just like every person that is typical is an original, so each person with DS is not like the next. Be careful to not make the assumption that all people with DS are the same. Thank you for your help.

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Don’t Hate On Haiti

I write this as I am on a plane on the way home from the amazing country of Haiti. Haiti was in the news a lot a few years ago when a very severe earthquake hit the country and thousands of people lost their lives. Much of the publicity from the media towards the nation of Haiti shows a nation of poverty and hopelessness. It is true that Haiti is one of the poorest nations in the world. However there is so much about Haiti to love. I want you to know what I love about Haiti. I spent 5 days with a pastor named Lesly Bertrand who has planted over 30 churches in the last 35 years in Haiti. It grieves him that much of the publicity towards Haiti is negative. Pastor Lesly loves his country and the people of his country and he wants the world to know that Haiti is an amazing place. I agree with him.

On Saturday we flew into Port-a-Prince and found a whole different world from the one we left just two hours earlier in Miami. Once our team exited the airport we found many people wanting to help us with our bags. Many of these were young children with hunger in their eyes just hoping the rich Americans may give them a little bit of money. Port-a-Prince is a very busy city that is packed with people, vendors, dust and smoke. It is a bit overwhelming. The rules of the road seem to be chaotic while the horns on the cars never stop beeping. The scenery quickly changed as we left the city. We had a beautiful scenic drive to the mountains of Haiti. Most people don’t know that Haiti has some of the most beautiful country imaginable. The mountains are a mix of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mountains of Israel and a tropical island. This is an inspiring hot country that yields an abundance of amazing fruit. While in Haiti we had fresh organic bananas, mangos, watermelon, avocado, pineapple and a variety of other fruits. The people of the mountains were all warm and friendly. They live a quite and peaceful agricultural life. They live off of the land and off the farm animals they raise. The farming they do is 100% by hand. Each morning in Haiti you need no alarm clock as the air is filled with the sounds of roosters crowing everywhere.

What the people of Haiti do not have is part of what makes them so special. In America we live for entertainment. In the mountains of Haiti they have very little in the form of entertainment. Most places do not have power and the people are extremely poor. What they lack in material possessions they make up for in time spent together. The people in the communities of Haiti all know one another. They live in very tight knit neighborhoods that will stop whatever they are doing if someone in the community needs help. Very few of the people of Haiti have transportation other than their feet. Those who do have transportation (usually in the form of a small motorcycle) are more than ready to allow who ever needs a ride to ride with them. It was not uncommon to see 4 people on one of these small motorcycles. Most Haitians do not have a TV so they sit around and actually talk to each other (I know…crazy right?).

The churches in Haiti taught me so much. On Sunday I was blessed to preach in a church that crammed over 100 people in a small tin building that was literally held up with sticks. It was hot and this American was covered in sweat. None of the Haitians were aware that they needed a nice building and air conditioning to worship God. The worship of the people was so strong and pure.

These people have nothing.
They literally need to trust Jesus for everything.
They are totally dependent on Him even for their next meal.

The church did not have a sound system and it didn’t need one. Most songs are sung with only the instruments of the people’s voices. They do not sing with their voices alone but they sing with their hearts and souls. They all sing as loud as they can with their hands lifted in praise to the Lord. The services are long with much prayer and singing. The sermon is on average one hour and if you do not preach that long then you have done the people a disservice. All of the children are in the service with the adults. From newborns to children of all ages they are in the worship service for the duration. I was amazed at the children. Small children did not complain or move during the long and hot service. They were perfectly behaved (Most of them just stared at our team the whole time). Oh and how the church prays! They do not pray with arms folded in silent introspection. They do not ask one person to pray. They all pray…out loud! They attack the throne of God with begging and pleading. They lift their hands. They lift their voices and they beg God to answer them. They seamlessly flow into a song from the prayer time. It was such an encouragement to see these brothers and sisters worship.

I was in Haiti with Pastor David Bridwell and my dad (Tom Hermann). Pastor David and I were commissioned to lead a pastor’s conference of mountain pastors. We taught the book of 1 Timothy and some basics on sermon preparation and planning. My dad taught one night on prayer and served as our prayer warrior and personal bodyguard.

Pastors came from all over to the conference. We ended up with about 40 pastors in attendance. The pastors were so attentive, loving, and encouraging. They loved to talk about the Bible and what God is doing in their churches. Many of the pastors walked for hours to come to the conference. About half of them would sleep on the concrete floor of the mission house during the night because it was too far for them to travel home. The pastors woke up at 5:30AM singing praise to God. It was so sweet to hear these men wake up with praise on their lips.

The pastors in Haiti don’t get paid. They labor, study, give, listen, pray, counsel, visit and 100 other things that pastors do for riches in heaven. They do not complain about this. This is just the way it is and they count it an honor to serve the Lord.

For the two days of the pastors conference there were men and women that prepared meals for the pastors. To me these meals were good but seemed pretty basic, beans and rice and some form of meat and vegetable. It blew my mind when Pastor Lesly told me that this will be the best meal some of these pastors will have all year long.

WHAT I BRING BACK

I want to be thankful. I want to be mindful of all the blessings I have. I don’t want to simply live in comfort but do all I can to help others. I want to remember the face of the little girl who was about 3 years old at the church service I attended. I reached out to shake her hand and she looked at me with wanting eyes and rubbed her belly and communicated, “can you give me something to eat?” I would have taken her home. I would have given her whatever I could, but this was her life. Her existence would be one of struggle. God did not give us riches in America to horde but to invest. I pray I will remember that the church is global and there are millions around the world who do not even have their basic needs met. If I won’t help them, who will?

I want to love my community more. I want to see people in Greensboro come to Christ. I want the members of the church I pastor to have a heart to see their lost neighbors come to faith in Jesus. I want to take more people to foreign countries so they can understand how important it is that we as Americans be involved in what God is doing in the world. We can be such a blessing to these believers if we will take the time to open our eyes to the needs in the community and the needs of the world.

Haiti is full of beauty and wonder. It is a place that has captured my heart. I will pray for my pastor friends. I will continue to invest in their lives. I will be a better pastor to my people.

If you have never left the comfort of your community to go somewhere and share Jesus I pray you would obey the Lord’s commands and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Save some money, go on mission. When you go to change the world you will find out that it is your world that will be changed.
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Dear Richard Dawkins, YOU ARE WRONG

Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned atheist that is known for his polarizing stances on a number of issues. The latest shocking statement he made was in regard to women who find out they are pregnant with a child who may have Down syndrome (DS). I would not usually take the time to address something said by Richard Dawkins, but I feel that I must address this issue because his comments hold the power of life and death. He has a large audience and there are many who will agree with his statement.

Here is what Dawkins tweeted in relation to someone pregnant with a child with DS: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

I believe his comments to be ignorant and murderous. What we believe about life and death, animals and humans has everything to do with our worldview. Dawkins is an atheist who believes we all came from nothing. Therefore, in his view, animals and humans have the same value and any human who cannot further the human race should be discarded. To him, people with DS are simple genetic anomalies that are the result of random chance and should be killed before they have a chance to feel pain or cause difficulty in the lives of others.

The article continues, “But faced with a stream of dissenting comments, he wrote: “Apparently I’m a horrid monster for recommending what actually happens to the great majority of Down Syndrome foetuses. They are aborted.””

What bothers me most is not what Richard Dawkins said, in fact I would expect him to say that, I am bothered by the fact that most people who find out they are going to have a child with down syndrome do choose to abort their child. In some places the statistics are as high as a 90% abortion rate! 90%!!! That is genocide. This could very well be related to the fact that when most women prenatally test for Down syndrome and the results come back positive, what is explained to her is a list of all the things that will be wrong with her baby (when in fact, it’s a list of things that MIGHT be wrong, and many issues can be corrected with surgery and therapy). Obviously not in all cases, but as a whole in our mainstream medical community, abortion is very much encouraged with these mothers and they are led to believe that they are doing “what is best.”

Why abort the child? I think people abort their children for a few reasons:

They think it will be too hard to raise a child with special needs.
They think their child will have no quality of life.
They believe it will cost too much.
They think their child is a curse and will ruin their life.
They believe their child will be destined to a lifetime of ridicule.
They just don’t want to spend the rest of their life taking care of someone else with special needs.

I would like to remind everyone that the hardest things we do in life are the most rewarding. Those who make a great impact on the world are not those who say, “I want the easiest path” but those who decide to do what is right and best in spite of the personal cost to themselves.

Back to the issue at hand, Richard Dawkins and anyone who believes that people with Down syndrome are not as valuable to society as “typical” people are dead wrong. I would argue the opposite to be true. Perhaps people with Down syndrome are some of society’s most valuable members.

Most people assess value in terms of production. Value in the world is assessed in questions like: What can a person produce? Are they a great worker? Are they a great thinker? Are they strong? Are they beautiful? Are they talented?

I want to explore that there are other, perhaps greater, measures of value. What about things like faith, hope and love? Producers are important. Thinkers are important. Doctors, teachers, firemen, secretaries and 1000 other jobs are important. While all of these professions are vital, I have found that the greatest need that people have is to feel love, experience hope, and have faith in something.

The unique genetic makeup of people who possess DS seems to allow them to possess superhuman amounts of faith, hope, and love. Surely we cannot lump every person with DS into the same category, but I believe this generally to be true.

Every person I have ever met who has DS that I took the time to talk to has made me feel better. They made me feel accepted. I felt no judgment from them. The one thing I felt from every person with DS is love. To say people with this special and unique gift should not be given the chance at life because they may have some physical and intellectual challenges is ludicrous. Every single one of us has something wrong with us. There are no perfect people. Eugenics is a dangerous game that leads to the kind of atrocities that Hitler committed.

On a personal level, I have an amazing 8-month-old little girl named Joy who happens to have Down syndrome. When she was born I experienced the most painful and intense emotions of my life. Most of it could be boiled down to fear. I feared what most people perceive about people with Down syndrome. Before Joy, I would have thought that having a child with DS would be one of the worst things that could happen to a family. I WAS DEAD WRONG! Joy has been our family’s greatest gift.

Joy has her challenges. My wife and I are constantly concerned with her health and development. We want to give her the best chance in life that we can. I am telling you no lie when I tell you that she is pure JOY. She brings so much joy into the lives of everyone she touches. She has yet to meet someone she doesn’t like.

If you or someone you know is pregnant and have recently found out that you might possibly have a child who has Down syndrome, please, from the bottom of my heart, please give that child a chance at life. Do not let your fear nor the untrue societal stigma keep you from giving your child life. Talk to parents who have children with DS before you make a decision to kill your baby. I would be glad to talk with you about it. IMG_1762IMG_5161  IMG_3069

13 Reasons You MUST Go!

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“Pastor, why do I need to spend over $2000.00 and fly all the way across the world when there is so much ministry that needs to be done right here in our city?”  This was the question that was posed to me by a sincere church member who was counting the cost of going on our first international mission trip as a church.  Some people that ask this question are simply looking for an easy way out or just want to argue, but I knew the heart of this church member and his question was a sincere one.   I gave him an answer and I do not remember exactly what it was but it did not feel sufficient.  I was haunted by the question for weeks.  I had been in other countries and I knew in my heart that there was a great need for all who could go, to go, but I was having a problem articulating exactly why.  The man who asked the question did end up going on the mission trip and God used him in a powerful way.  Our church has taken international trips to Haiti and to Argentina.  God did what God does when we step out on faith.  He showed up and changed lives.  While it is fresh on my mind I would like to articulate a bit more clearly 13 reasons why I believe every Christian who is physically able should attempt to go on an International Mission Trip.  If you are a pastor or a leader who gets asked the question that I was asked perhaps this will help you articulate it more clearly.

1)      You understand the beauty of the body of Christ in a way you could not unless you went – You cannot get the full picture of what a blessing it is to be part of the global body of Christ until you have the chance to meet people that are totally different than you in almost every way.  You have an instant bond because of Jesus.  In both Argentina and Haiti we met people that we had no knowledge of before we left and now they are family.  This is because of our bond in Christ.

2)      Americans have a significant impact on the world that we do not have in our hometowns – Many cultures in the world look at Americans as some sort of novelty.  They are very intrigued by us.  They believe we are all rich, which compared to them, most of us are.  It makes a huge impact when you tell lost people in another culture that you spent a lot of money to come to their country because you love them and desire to tell them about Jesus.

3)      Going on an International Mission trip gives you a small picture of what it means to suffer for Christ – While I would not call a mission trip suffering in the sense that you are dealing with daily persecutions, you do get a small picture of what it means to be uncomfortable for the cause of Christ.  You know you may get sick.  You are sick for Jesus.  You know you will be extremely tired.  You are tired for Jesus.   You may suffer financially.   You are giving to go tell others about Jesus.  You know you will be out of your area of comfort.  You are uncomfortable for Jesus.  While this may seem like a small thing it is big for comfortable American Christians.

4)       It Humbles You – Humility is one of the greatest Christian virtues.  We are all naturally inclined to pride.  Philippians 2 tells us we are to follow the example of the humility of Christ.  It brings great humility in your life when you see how little you do with how much you have.  Then you have the opportunity to see how much other believers do with how little they have.   Truly humbling.

5)      It gives you a passion for the lost world – In America we are so rich and happy it seems that no one needs Jesus anymore.   When you go to another country it is very refreshing to see that the world has a hunger for Christ that America has lost.

6)      It gives you a chance to expand your kingdom influence – You will meet lifelong friends in another country.  Because of the expansions of technology and social networking cites like Facebook you can have continued influence on those you meet.   You can even disciple new believers from afar.

7)      It serves as a great encouragement to the church you are serving alongside in a foreign country – The churches we worked with were so blessed that we came to minister alongside them.   We were able to do things they as a church would not have been able to do without us.  The church was totally blessed by our coming and it provided great encouragement.

8)      It will deepen your love for the Lord – Everything about all you do on the trip will make you love and appreciate Jesus more.

9)      It will clarify your calling – It has been my experience that each time I go on an international trip God speaks to me more clearly than any other time.   Perhaps this is because your singular focus is on doing His will for an entire week or more.

10)   It will give you a chance to experience the power of the Gospel in a new way – Since people are more open to the Gospel in other countries you have the privilege of seeing more people submit to Jesus than in the states.  This reminds you of the power of the Gospel and how the simple message still transforms lives.

11)   You will become a family with the team in which you serve alongside – We took a team of eight from the church in which I pastor.   We left as friends and we came back as family.  You will laugh, cry, worship, pray, eat and sleep together.   You will never look at the people you go with the same again.  You will always share the common bond of life change.

12)   Your faith will grow – Every step you take to go on an international mission trip will force you to grow in your faith.  Most of us do not have two to four thousand dollars laying around to spend on a mission trip.  Money, safety, and the unknown are all areas that you must trust God with.

13)   JESUS SAID GO!!! – The great commission has never changed.   Jesus told us to tell the world about Him.  If they do not hear they will go to hell.   If we believe this then we MUST be compelled to go!

A Little Girl Died Today

There is a little girl named Annie Golden who died today.   She was a beautiful soul with a smile that could light up a room.   She died because she didn’t get a heart transplant. She died because she was not thought “worthy” enough to even be put on the list. Annie had Down syndrome.   This cognitive disability would prevent her from even being put on the transplant list.   My heart absolutely breaks for the family of this girl.

Little Annie Golden

You see, I have a little girl with Down syndrome.   She turned 6 months old yesterday.   My little girl’s name is Joy.   She is the youngest of my four children.   The last 6 months have changed my life in so many ways.

My journey started as most parents who have any child with special needs. It started out with ignorance. Like most people, I had been around people with special needs, but I’d never been a parent of a child with special needs, nor did I have a close family member with special needs to know and love.

So, in the beginning when my precious girl was born, I was ignorant. I only knew what I had been told by the culture at large. I only knew fear. Fear for the future. Fear of what others would think.   I had fear of my life being over or completely re-directed.   Fear that my child would be nothing more than a despised member of society by the culture at large.

LIES!! These were all lies!

After 6 months, I CANNOT adequately express how much joy, love, and hope my little Joy has brought into my life and the lives of the people around her. She is every bit as valuable as any of my other children.   In fact, I often feel sorry for my other three children because anyone who meets Joy is such a fool about her.   She is full of life!   She is full of love!   SHE IS A GIFT!   She is just how God wanted her to be. I wouldn’t change anything about my little girl. As a dad I would do whatever is in my power to help her if she was sick. I would try to move mountains to get her a heart if she needed it.

I was ignorant about how wonderful my daughter would be. I was also ignorant to a heinous evil that is going on towards people with Down syndrome.

They are being MURDERED!   They are being systematically eliminated by those who are called to protect life. It seems one of the main enemies of little children like mine are the very doctors who take an oath to protect and to save lives.

The reality is that the blood tests performed in a woman’s pregnancy are solely done so that the mother can choose to terminate her baby, and 90% of the time they do in the case of Down syndrome. So many times my wife and I have heard stories from parents of children with Down syndrome that their doctors actually advised an abortion or presented it as an option when they did not present it as an option before the test.   It is obvious that these children are not deemed “worthy” by the medical community as a whole.

Back to little Annie…she died this morning. It seems that the deciding factor to her being able to get a heart transplant was her cognitive ability. Did she have other factors? I am sure she did.   Anyone who needs a heart transplant will have some other factors, but once again, it seems the deciding factor was her IQ.

So now it seems an IQ test is needed for who lives and who dies. If you can score high enough on a standardized test then you are valuable enough to be given a chance at life. This is sick and it is wrong.

This is an actual CIVIL RIGHTS issue.   People with Down syndrome did not choose Down syndrome. It is part of their DNA. Where are the parades of people crying out that the murder of innocent children with disabilities be stopped?   Where is the outrage over little ANNIE?

What is valuable?

American Culture values net worth, IQ, and sex appeal. The God I serve values something different.   Here is what He says.

“1 Corinthians 13:1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Joy

My daughter may never have the highest score on the ACT. Little Annie may have never won the Spelling Bee, but I can promise you that my daughter and thousands of other children and adults like her with DS have been given an extra dose of what God says is most important: LOVE!!   I propose to you that just maybe those whom the culture is murdering are the ones we NEED THE MOST

JOY

The Theology of Yoga Pants

1 Peter 3:Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

It is that glorious time of the year known as spring.  In our hyper-sexualized culture as the heat rises clothes start to come off. To say our culture is obsessed with body image would be like saying Antarctica is kind of chilly.

As someone that cares about Christian women I want to give a little pastoral/fatherly counsel. I find there are less and less young ladies that have a Godly father or male role model to speak truth into their lives. I would like to speak to Christian females as a loving father, as if I am talking to my three girls. These are some things I will tell my girls as they grow up, they may be helpful to some of you grown women as well.

Everything you wear says something about who you are and what is in your heart. While most women would not verbalize this, or even think about it, they want people to look at them. They want others, particularly men, to think they are beautiful.   Today, people spend countless hours at the gym and tons of money in order to make their bodies look a certain way.  Most of the time people say that diet and exercise is for their health but if their hearts were exposed it is really about 10% for their health and 90% so they can look good (this is true of both men and women).  They have been told since the time of childhood that princesses are beautiful and wicked stepsisters are ugly.  From almost the moment of birth little girls are taught that so much of their value is found in their looks.

Beauty= good

Ugly = bad

Yoga pants defined – tight (usually black…black is slimming you know) pants that cling to every fabric of your skin.  These pants are appropriate to wear at home with your husband and are great to go underneath a dress or long tunic…however when you leave your rear end uncovered you are pleading with every man in eye shot to check out your backside.

WHAT WOMEN CANNOT UNDERSTAND

Contrary to popular opinion God made men and women different.  Women and men are wired so differently it is impossible for a woman to understand how a man’s mind works (It is doubly impossible for a man to understand how a woman’s mind works).  Men are visual.  God wired us in such a way that when it comes to the female form we do not miss much. If a woman is wearing something that is tight fitting, too short, too low cut, etc., a man will notice. He may not admit he notices, but he does.  I can hear the rebuttal from women now, “Men are just a bunch of dogs and should learn to control themselves.” Perhaps your argument it very sound. Men are geared with a deep sexual desire that God gave them to express in the joys of a marital relationship. But saying men are like dogs does not change that fact that men are looking.    Christian men are looking. Ladies this may creep you out but you need to know, OLDER (think grandpas…eww) men are looking.  You see, the desires of a man’s flesh never changes.  Whether he is young or old he has to constantly deny those sinful desires and seek to honor the Lord with his mind.   If you love your brother in Christ and do not want him to see you or think of you in a way less than holy then consider these few questions and ponder them in your heart:

ARE YOU ADVERTIZING WHAT IS NOT FOR SALE?

When you put a “For Sale” sign on something, if it is interesting people will check it out. If you put a “FOR SALE: CHEAP” sign on something they may want to buy it if they have to pay very little. When you wear clothes that are immodest, you are advertising to the men all around you that you are cheap. God made women in His image and He never meant for them to be cheap.  The Bible says that He bought our redemption not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.  If Christ would pay this much for your soul, why would you advertise your body as cheap?  I will tell my girls that they are very valuable and when they find the man God has for them to marry, they will know because he will marry them before he tries to sleep with them. If you’re dressing in a way that is immodest, would you consider that you are inviting men to think about you in a sexual way?  According to the Bible, this way of thinking should be reserved for your husband.  Christian men should see Christian women as daughters, sisters, or as mothers. Do you want your Christian brother to think of you as an object of lust, or as a sister in Christ? The way you dress WILL influence how he thinks of you.

ARE YOU MAKING OTHERS FOCUS ON A PART OF YOU THAT WILL SOON FADE AWAY?

Your looks are not around for long.  Even the most beautiful woman may have 40 years of stunning physical attraction. What happens after she has passed her prime? What happens when your perfect curves begin to sag?   What happens when that beautiful skin begins to wrinkle?  If you have made others value your looks then you are quickly losing your value. If you value comes from, “the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” then as you get older you only become more precious to God and others. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

ARE YOU TAKING WHAT GOD MADE HOLY AND MAKING IT COMMON?

There is a Proverb that says, “A beautiful woman who lacks discretion

is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.”  Can you picture gold, the most precious of metals, in the nose of the most vile animal? A pig spends its days in the slop and has no need or concern for the value of gold. A woman who is immodest is taking the gold that God has given her and putting it before pigs (sorry guys).  You are so much more valuable than your vessel.  You are not a body that has a soul, but you are a soul that has a temporary body.  Your body will soon wear out.   Help people look at you for what is lasting about you and not what is quickly fading away.   Here is what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:15 “Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?”

HERE ARE A FEW BASIC GUIDELINES THAT MAY BE HELPFUL.  

Wear Yoga Pants/Tight Pants in private and not in public unless you are covering your backside. You should not wear clothes that cling to you.

NO BIKINIS.   Bikini = wearing your underwear in public.  Even with most one-piece bathing suits you should probably cover them with shorts. I know this sounds dramatic and archaic but trust me on this one.

You should not wear clothing that draws men’s eyes to your breasts.

Skirts should go past your knees and should have enough material that you can still walk when wearing them.

 

If you are in doubt about something don’t ask another girl or even your mom.   If dad is in the picture ask DAD! And when you ask him and he shocks you with his opinion, have the respect to listen to what he says. Remember, Women DO NOT THINK like men. If you do not have a Godly father or grandfather to ask, seek the advice of an older Godly woman and go by the basic guidelines I have listed above.

The point of this blog is not to be offensive, but to remind my sisters in Christ of their great worth and value.men-staring-at-woman  I hope it is helpful.