Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Are normal people worth more?

What would you say gives me my worth as a human-being? Is it my looks?

During World War II many Germans viewed the physically and mentally handicapped as “useless” to society, a threat to genetic purity, and ultimately as unworthy of life. Hundreds of thousands of handicapped people were murdered during the second World War in Nazi Germany. Handicapped infants and small children were killed by injection of a deadly dosage of drugs or by letting them starve to death. Our race did this, the human race. I continue to be shocked by how selfish, cold and heartless humans have the inherent ability to become.

Today it’s World Down Syndrome Day and I’m not in a happy mood. I’m not in the mood to wear mismatching socks, not because I’m against this tradition, but because I don’t want to pretend that our society has changed a lot since 1945. Today we have well-respected scientists like Richard Dawkins who says that it’s “immoral” for women to not have an abortion if they find out that their baby has Down Syndrome. We listen to our cultural influencers. In the US about 92% of all women who find out that they are pregnant with a Down syndrome baby have an abortion. I don’t think wearing mismatching socks is going to change how we view the value of a human-being.

Is it what I do that gives me my worth as a human-being? My achievements.

We live in a society that from day one places a new little human-being in different categories and based on what category you fit into we will decide how much you are worth. Today women who are pregnant can decide to abort a baby that has Down syndrome. What if in the future we can know if an unborn baby has autism, ADHD, asthma, allergies or something else, should we abort these babies too? If your answer is yes I can tell you that I would have been one of those babies, one of those people considered too different to be worth giving birth to.

What’s our goal in the end? Do we want a world free of people with any type of special needs? Or, do we want a world that is more loving? What are the values we build our lives upon? If we believe that being intelligent and high achieving is of high importance in life we will not want to give birth to a child with special needs which can hinder achievements. If we instead believe that being beautiful is of high importance in life we will not want to give birth to a child with Down syndrome or a child with only one arm for example. If we believe that comfort, ease and pleasure are highly important in life we will choose to not give birth to a child with any type of medical needs that will require us to visit the hospital often and therefore make our lives less comfortable.

Is my worth as a human-being based on how much praise I receive from others, or on how busy my social calendar is? These are all common measuring sticks that people use to determine their own worth according to Forbes magazine.

If we look to God’s definition of what’s important in life we learn that the most important thing is to love God and love people. If we look to God’s view of babies we learn that he knew them already when they were in the womb. He intentionally “knitted them together” in their Mother’s womb, in other words even with their special needs all children are born exactly the way God made them. If we look to God’s will for our lives we could never even consider that any type of special need would give a baby less worth as a human-being. God created every single human-being with a specific purpose in mind, to contribute to this world in a unique way.  

The Down’s Syndrome Association issued a response to Richard Dawkins’s initial comment saying that people with Down syndrome can live full and rewarding lives and that they also make a valuable contribution to our society. Do you agree with them? Or do you have Richard Dawkins world view and can honestly say that you think it’s best for Down’s syndrome babies to be aborted? These are the questions I think we should all ask ourselves on World Down Syndrome Day. If I become pregnant with a baby that has Down syndrome will I want him/her, will I love this baby too, just like any other “normal” baby? What are the values I base my life upon? Is it comfort and pleasure I strive for the most in my life or is to love others? Mismatching socks will not change how we treat people in our society, changing our values will. Every action will always be based on a value that we have. A value that comes from the world view we are currently accepting and building our lives upon.

What if in the end all the man-made measuring sticks for my worth as a human-being are false? What if my worth comes from He who made me and not from what I can accomplish, then I'm free to "just be me"! What if just like this beautiful pink tree God created me to bring him glory by being who he made me to be, not anybody else. I'm free from pressure to measure up. I have nothing to prove.

A few months ago I had a bad day, I was feeling sad and took a walk along the lakefront. Suddenly I see this little four-year old girl waving at me and saying “Hi!” I make eye contact, smile at her and say hello. The little girl runs up to me with her Mom following right behind her and takes me by the hand. The mother apologizes but I tell her I don’t mind at all. The little girl walks hand in hand with me back to the parking lot. She looks up at me every now and then with this huge smile and I feel so happy. The little girl has Down syndrome, she is a stranger I’ve just met while taking a walk in the park but she met me with a generous love like no other, with smiles and no judgement. I was in a good mood for the rest of that day. Do not tell me there is not room for children like this in our society, or in your family. If we are on this Earth to love each other then this little girl just nailed it. She is different yes, but she is much more loving than me.


Pastor Holly Wagner from Oasis Church in Los Angeles teaches a great sermon about excellence in this video. Holly talks about how God calls us to strive for excellence in whatever we do. Excellence means we won't do our job half-halfheartedly, we give it our best. It means we won't do our marriage half-halfheartedly, we give it all we've got. This is how God calls us to live our lives: "Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is,put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men" Colossians 3:23 (AMP)

Excellence doesn't mean "be perfect", excellence means we do the best we can in whatever we do. Excellence is about doing better today than you did yesterday, which makes it apparent that excellence will take more than just casual effort to obtain. Mediocre lives and average effort doesn't bring glory to God. God calls us to give our very best to whatever we do. If you are a painter do an excellent job at serving people this way, don't leave any paint stains on the windows and so on. If you are a nurse, do an excellent job at caring for the people who are your patients.

We can ask ourselves a few questions to determine how we are doing in the area of excellence. Are you treating with excellence everything that God has given you? Your job, are you better at it this year than you were last year? Are you giving it your best? If God has given you a family are you treating them with excellence, are you going above and beyond for them? Has God blessed you with a car? Are you treating that with excellence or are you just frustrated that you don't have a better car? When we serve people with excellence it pleases God and brings him glory. God gave everything to us, so how can we give Him anything less than our very best?

God calls each Christian to live a life of excellence. We are called to be examples of excellence in our speech, in loving others, in forgiveness etc. However, excellence will never be easy. Excellence always means stepping into something new. There is always work involved in excellence. We will never experience the life God desires for us from within our areas of comfort. It's not comfortable to change, it's not comfortable to work for excellence, but it's necessary if we are going to fulfill our life's purpose. Whatever you do, give it all you've got!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Marky's Story

Tears were streaming down my face as I listened to Marky's story for the first time at Elevation Church on Sunday. Each one of us will experience a lot of pain during this life on Earth, in one way or another. We can't change that, but what we can do is decide how we will approach this life. We can decide to be fighters facing our fears and the pain in this life with great faith and courage. We don't have to give in to despair and become depressed, we have a great hope in God and we know that although this life is painful it is temporary. Eternity awaits us just around the corner and we don't know how many more days we will get on this Earth, but while we are here we can choose to either live in fear or by faith.

Jesus could endure the pain of the cross because he was focused on the joy set before him. We too can either focus on everything that is wrong right in this moment or we can choose to look ahead. No matter what difficulty we face in this life it's only temporary, eternity is what comes next after this life and that is forever.

When my soul is secure in Christ I can hold on through all the storms of life and know that one day soon there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more death and I will be with God forever. I can keep running this difficult race called life with courage and hope because I know it will soon be over. Once this life is over the only thing that will remain is what I did for Christ. Did I spend my life on complaining and arguing with others or did I take every opportunity I got to serve God through loving Him and loving people? I want to be a fighter like Marky and not waste my time on Earth on complaining about what I can not change, but rather focus my energy on loving God and loving the people God brings into my life.

Speak to Me

"Come close to God, and God will come close to you."
James 4:8 (NLT)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Vicki's Search for Meaning and Purpose

Growing up in New York City, Vicki had always thought that being rich, famous, and in Women's Wear Daily would bring happiness and fulfillment. But after all those things had happened, she was still empty. Gnawingly so. Watch her story and discover how this gnawing emptiness was finally filled.

Monday, March 13, 2017

5 Years Of Marriage

On Sunday my husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's already five years ago since we eloped to Jamaica and got married!

The pictures from our wedding are becoming more precious to me every year, looking at them takes me back to that special day. I remember how nervous I was, how surreal the whole experience felt and how happy I was that I had met the love of my life and that soon I would get to call him "my husband".

On Sunday we celebrated our anniversary with a cake of the same flavor as our wedding cake, chocolate cake with coconut filling.

I got my husband a card and the perfect anniversary gift, something I know he will use a lot!

My husband got me this card plus a gift card to Sport Chek, he definitely knows me by now. :)

What's inside that bag?

Yep, I got him a stylish coffee cup from Indigo. Both my husband and I are quite obsessed with coffee and tea so I'm pretty sure he will use his gift. We exchanged gifts and ate some cake during the day and in the evening we celebrated with a date night at the Keg. Our tradition is to ask each other a few questions about our life together during our anniversary dinner. My husband's questions were: "Where do you see us five years from now? What would you like to change and what part of our life together would you like to keep the same?" I asked: "What's one thing that became different than you expected in our marriage?" and "What's one thing that became just as you had hoped in our marriage?" Our questions led to some really interesting discussions and we set some new goals for the future that I'm excited to pursue together during the next five years.