Pornography. About as Bad As It Gets.


Don’t leave this piece standing for your reading child to see, Visitors. Adults Only.

Porn.com-Logo

Don’t Google this.

Pornography. We just can’t leave it alone in this country.

When I published the previous column, a reader looked at the thumbnail on Facebook. She saw the nude that I used to illustrate a point, and promptly lambasted me for publishing ‘pornography’ and contributing to the problem of lust among Christians.  (The fact that she didn’t bother to actually read the essay before criticizing is another discussion entirely.)

Most of you know that I have been in graduate school for Criminology for about the past year or so. The last class I had was a well-structured overview of digital crime, and pornography was highlighted. CHILD pornography, in particular, has simply exploded in the past 15 years, after we, as a country, had made great progress in stamping this one out. More on that later.

Visitors, how Christians treat sexual issues just exasperates me. See, all my life as a Christian, I have worked hard to separate Biblical Christianity from American Christianity. Nowhere is that dichotomy more apparent than in the area of sexuality. My allegiance is to the word of God, and not to American attitudes about sex and sexuality. In my growing years, in the area of sex, the emphasis was mainly on refusal skills like “True Love Waits” and other “No” tactics. The Biblical basis for this is sound. Sex is a promise, sex is ‘glue’ for married men and women, sex is part of the ‘becoming one’ process, sex is actually holy.  All true, all grounded in solid theology.

The irksome thing about this, is that very little attention was paid to the wildness of sex, to the playfulness of sex, to the utter freedom that married couples have in the area of sexuality. Christianitytoday.com is a pretty good starting point for topical Bible studies for anyone curious about Godly sexuality. In paging through their offerings, and the offerings of other solid Christian resources, I discovered some interesting things. There are titles like “Confronting Sexual Addiction”,  “Understanding Lust”, “Too Intimate Too Soon” and “Living In A Culture of Sexual Immorality”.

All right, all of these deviant things are important topics, and deserve solid treatment. But how about the healthy topics? There’s this -“Romantic Sexuality”- sounds pretty good. “Sex From God’s Point Of View” -Hmm, better see some solid scripture there, and this one that looks great -“Crazy Good Sex” where a Christian psychologist addresses six pressing male sexuality issue with BOTH solid research and solid Scripture.

So, there is hope.

As I continued this bit of a research jag into Christian resources, I realized that the ratio was out of whack. The deviant sexual titles outnumbered the healthy ones by about 12 to 1. That’s incredible. Titles like “Stolen” and “God In A Brothel” and the scariest “In Our Backyard” alone expose the terrible evils of human sexual trafficking. Other sexually deviant titles abounded. Twelve deviant titles to every healthy, Scripture-based one. What’s up with that?

See, “Culture” to me, is like a living organism. Our national culture is vibrant, constantly changing, made up of vastly differing parts. It can be healthy, or it can get sick. As Christians, we have a call to minister to the sick, the weak and the powerless. This can get ugly. There is a tidal wave of flesh peddling and exploitation that is enveloping our culture, and we must, simply must, be aware of it before we can treat it.

Porn.com is a website referred to in my digital crime class last quarter. As part of a research project, I had to look at several snippets from this detestable site. At the beginning of the course, I made the mistake of Googling “porn.com” on Google Images, trying to find the logo for a powerpoint slide. Instead of the logo, I saw several revolting things that still make me queasy. With a SINGLE innocent query, I saw real-life pictures of vaginal sex, anal sex, anilingus, fellatio, polyamorous situations, and erotic asphyxia. Publishing images of these actions is legal, they are available to everyone with a computer, and we, Christians, make a sick world sicker by walking past them as if they don’t exist.

Visitors, particularly Christian ones, stay with me here. The number of internet porn sites in the Surface Web is difficult to pin down. According to http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html, there are about 4.2 million pornographic websites on the Surface Web or about 12 percent of Surface Web sites.  42 percent of all users have viewed porn at one time or another. 25 percent of ALL search requests are porn-related. One in four, Visitors.

Average age of first exposure to porn? 11.

Number of youths who have received an unwanted sexual solicitation? 1 in 7.

Number of youths who reveal to their parents or other adults that they have been solicited? 1 in 20.

Number of youths who repeatedly seek out internet porn? About 1 in 8.

Gracious. One might ask, what on earth can we do about all this? As a teacher? My very best advice is to address it. NOW. TONIGHT. If you don’t, some internet pornographer will, I promise.

Of course, you have to apply your adult judgement to the development of your child. You know them best, you can decide which words to use and how to address what issue. I completely land on the side of internet censorship, with as much education your child can possibly stand.

With that in mind, your child will be able to think more clearly than my critic that I referred to at the beginning of this piece. The idea that the nude in the previous column is pornographic, is, in a word, absurd. We simply must help our children see things as clearly as possible and give them the tools to navigate such desperately sick situations as authentic pornography. Educate them, NOW, about healthy sexuality, about the joy in God ordained mutual sexual giving. Doing this will help our children actually be salt and light in a terribly sick world.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Laziness And Risky Reality- With Single Dad Laughing


So, Visitors, ever notice how rapidly we are losing our humanity behind our screens?

texting-2

This worries me, on many levels.

In the last column, I detailed to you my excursion into online relationship building. Online hilarity aside, there is something happening here that is essentially broken. In the single week I have been exploring, I have had several texting relationships with interesting men.

I am rapidly losing patience with the online world, so I am developing my own internal standards.  I won’t text with an interesting man for more than three days, for example. Honestly, for me? That’s it. I am all over meeting actual real-life members of the opposite gender who interest me. In real life.

  506e8f23c5f981cfd2a3294ac1b52f4d

What’s more distracting? The lovely woman or the distracting screen? 

It’s been about a week, and about half a dozen of these virtual conversations. So many of these guys are good at online conversation! Witty, entertaining, and interesting as all get out. After day 3, I propose a meeting, and the response rate drops dramatically. Interesting. Texting is so incredibly easy, and so distracting from the real, actual humans on each side.

Here’s what I wonder about screentime, Visitors- what seems to be broken here is a sense of relational work, and I just can’t stand it. Three days is more than enough to decide if you want to have coffee with me, just go ahead and pull the trigger.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that, it always is. See, men in my age demographic have been beaten up. Usually, there’s at least one divorce in the story, and if there are children in the picture, some assorted heartbreak there.

(I’ve discovered I’ve raised intolerant children in that area. I detailed one of these custody-battle stories with my oldest daughter, her response? “Geez Mom, you’d think these guys would have thought this through before having children with someone they really don’t like.” Hmm, some truth to that.)

I get it, men, and it’s ok. You’ve had it rough. You really have, my heart goes out to you. Here’s a suggestion, let’s not overlay that on me, please? Don’t manufacture some sort of grief or pressure that you’ve been carrying, and pretend it’s coming from me.  I’m safe. Stop texting me. Rally some courage. Let’s FaceTime and arrange a coffee date. Real communication is tough, I get it, but you’ve got this, I’m sure.

What’s becoming interesting to me, is that there seems to be very little difference between the men who claim to be Christians, and men who are flat-out prowling for dates.

One of the prowlers propositioned me. It was actually hilarious, and he pulled it off. He was part of the younger set, not quite 40. We were merrily texting away, him as eager as a puppy.

“….We could meet for coffee at the park, and then if we liked each other, we could go back to my apartment?”

Uh, after two days of texting? Pass.

One of the Christians simply couldn’t figure it out.

“Hey Angel, did you sleep well? What’s going on at your job? How are things?  Text me back when you can.”

Gracious! Delightful man, you have a phone in your pocket. Zip the texting, please.

See, Visitors, actual, real-time, face to face communication is risky. Even in some cases, difficult. Check this out-

Stutttering humor

Stuttering humor. It’s OK! I laughed the loudest! 

You guys know me, I stutter. You know the reason why, a minor brain injury as a toddler. I just about DIED laughing when I saw this on Dan Pearce’s website, Single Dad Laughing. (danoah.com)

Dan is just an amazing blogger and author. I love this guy. Dan has battled obesity, the demise of two marriages, the challenge of adoptive and single parenting, and crippling depression. He’s our tribe, he gets it. Life sucks. It’s just terrible. Awful things happen, and something is waiting around the corner to ambush you, even now.

On the other hand, life is frigging awesome, especially face to face. The love of friends (like you,dear Visitors)  is a gift! The face of a child is hopeful! There really is a God who cares! Whole Foods has cookies and cream ice cream!

The stuttering thing is emblematic of all this, Visitors. See, unlike you fluent speakers, I take nothing about speaking for granted. It’s hella work! My parents were good, I landed in speech therapy around age 6, and stayed there until, oh, about two weeks ago.

I’ve been trained in all of these tiresome fluency techniques, I’m aware of breathe control, articulator use, word choice, soft contacts, blah, blah, blah. It’s like playing the piano. If I practice, I’m pretty good. If you distract me, or I distract myself, things might get a little slow.

Speaking IRL, (In Real Life, for those of us over 45) is a flipping challenge for me.  If you muster up the courage to put down the screen and actually speak to me in the same room, I might stutter. Or take a little longer to say something. Guess what? You get to show me what an awesome real-life person you are! This is how it works-

Me: “Well hi! It’s nice to see you! Shall we go to starbucks and grab a t-t-t”

You: “Table?”

Me: “Yes, table.  Hey, look, that was sweet, but I really can’t stand people finishing my sentences.”

You: “Oh! Ha! Sorry!”

Me: “No worries. ”

See? That’s not so tough. Road bump crossed,  imaginary crisis averted, Victoria awards you mad courage and respect points, and a nice coffee date likely follows.

Gracious. Well, we could go on about this for hours. I guess, before I lose all hope, I’d like to ask you guys to come alongside. Put down the &$#% screen. Have tech-free dinners, tech-free weekends. If you’re married, DO NOT take that thing to bed.

If you’re single, like me? Send me one, last text.

“Starbucks, 5:30. Looking forward to it!”

Much love,

 

Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Online Dating and the Digital Language of Love


I have news for you, Visitors. I’ve started online dating, and it is a blast.

Nothing for OKCupid?

Nothing for OKCupid?

Now, most of you know me pretty well. I’m a committed Christian, and in my life, I take all comers. I have “normal” friends, single friends, married friends, adulterous friends, gay friends, a dear person who is an authentic transsexual,  deviant friends with every fanged addiction imaginable, and families in every single configuration you can possibly come up with. It’s very enriching.

(I model this take-all-comers attitude in my school as well.  When we admit people, we have a very directed interview, where we explain that we come from a conservative Biblical worldview. Of course, we cover the usual things-curricula, regulations, teacher qualfications, etc.  We also explain, clearly, that your preschooler will get Christmas as Jesus’ birth, Easter as his resurrection, daily prayers, Bible stories, all the things a good, solid, Christian school should provide. Choose EA or not, but know what will happen. )

I had heard about OK Cupid among some of my friends, so I decided to open an account and see what the commotion was all about. I figured there is nothing inherently unBiblical about meeting people like this,  it piqued my curiosity.

Well. Those of you familiar with meeting people this way know the drill. Fill out a profile about yourself, mark some interests, set your limits, and off you go. Gracious! One hour and 253 “likes” later (no exaggeration) I started sifting through all this information.

Good heavens alive, Visitors, what an education! I put down my professional reading for the night, and started reviewing data points.

Data point #1 : Hi! I’m Rich. Ever consider dating a younger man? Your profile looked great! (Rich, 32, teaches English at a public school in Denver)

Data point #2: Hello Beautiful!  I’m Ed. You have a calm “vibe” and I’d like to get to know you better! ( Ed, an engineer at Martin Marietta)

Data point #3: Hello, Gorgeous! I’m  Mitch! (Followed by this groaner) God was surely showing off when he made you! Care to chat? (Senior petroleum engineer at a local oil company)

I quickly activated my ‘predator sensor’ and wrote off the creepy idiots asking for intrusive information. Surprisingly, this was, oh, perhaps 20% of the total. Fewer than I would have thought.  I then wrote off the ones with obvious health problems, for reasons you can guess.

People like Rich, I shelved for further attention, more on that later. “Mitch” and “Ed” types (not their real names, of course) garnered my attention. Why would professional, educated men resort to something like online dating? Are we desperate, boys? (Ooops, pots calling kettles black, came to mind)

So, I gave some thought to this. See, in my case, meeting like-minded, Christian, male buddies is nigh on impossible. I work with a team of delightful women. Middle aged (mostly),  white, devoted-to-their jobs women. All of you know that my dad stroked a while ago, so I gladly take him to HIS church, full of gentle grey heads. I go to grad school with hard-boiled (usually married) cops or fresh-faced twentyish grad students.

Is it too much to ask to hang out  with someone my own age? HA! Not on OK Cupid. This whole thing is just fascinating. As I continued to peruse the data points, I discovered my vocabulary to be lacking. How about these newly-coined words-

Sapiosexual- Someone who views intelligence as the most attractive characteristic. (OK, that’s a pretty cool attribute)

Demisexual- Someone who can only be sexually attracted to someone with whom they have developed a strong emotional bond.  (What? Isn’t it supposed to be like that?)

Omnisexual-(synonym to Pansexual)- Someone who is attracted sexually to both genders.  (Oh, brother, how convenient.)

This exercise in vocabulary development led to a whole new world of ‘blue’ vocabulary that I can’t possibly relate to you, Visitors, without censoring this essay into nonsense.

At any rate, I whittled down this tidal wave of interest into a few likely candidates, so far.

“Rich” piqued my interest immensely. What!  He’s 32! Mommy issues? I won’t lie about my age as a matter of pride. I could be your mother, boy!

Seriously!

Seriously!

What followed was an utterly charming conversation with an athletic young man who actually likes introducing middle schoolers to good literature. Turns out he was at a recent 21 Pilots concert the same night I was, and had just as much fun. This light and fluffy guy actually likes the focus older women possess. Hilarious!

“Ed” was genuine, if a bit of a downer. A parent of adult kids, Ed is four years divorced, and striking out on his own, relationally. Fair enough.

“Mitch” is Armenian, and speaks more graciously than he writes, thank heaven. He’s an attendee of an Armenian Orthodox church, and invited me to a service. I think I shall go!

All of this simply cracks me up, Visitors. The communication skills required in this kind of relationship-building are immense. We only get words until we talk on the phone, and even that is incomplete. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats in-person communication, and that’s coming next. I’ll keep you posted.

With great hilarity,

Victoria

PS- I love you all, and I can anticipate the cautions a mile off. Remember, I am safety-minded to the point of paranoia. Meeting in crowded, well-lit spots? Yep! Telling someone where I am and when I’ll be back? Got it covered! Applying all of my newly-acquired background check skills to these guys? You betcha!

:) V

Life at 52: Finally Playing With A Full Deck


So, I turned 52 a little while ago, Visitors, and I couldn’t be happier.

When I was younger, I thought that the fifties would be some sort of gateway into senior citizenship. As if five decades carried some sort of identity card that gave me street cred, and I could lord it over those younger than me.  (Oh, wait, what about that red AARP card?  How did they know my birthday, anyway? Creepy.)

Hilarious.

Hilarious.

Instead, I find it cause for meditation and action.  One of my favorite Star Trek characters once said “Recently, I have become aware there are fewer days ahead than there are behind.” (TNG, Picard, for you purists.) Well said. In our fifties, this is likely the case.

Since Chris died, I have been acutely conscious of the fact that time is more valuable than gold. It’s funny, if you’ve walked with someone to their death, perspective changes on all sorts of things. When Chris was fighting his battle, the cancer establishment that surrounded me often concentrated on achieving ‘more birthdays’, ‘more events’, ‘more time together’. I grew to appreciate that idea then, and treasure it even more now.

I was discussing this type of thing with a new friend the other day. He’s about the same age, and we were sharing stories of how we had gotten to where we are.

I  listened to my friend’s meditative  inventory.  He listed to me all the things that were going right in his life, all the reasons he had to be thankful. I realized that at this age, I do that all the time myself. Kids doing well? Check. Dad all right? Check. Roof overhead, food on the table? Check. No looming disasters of impending doom barreling down the tracks at me? Not today, thank God.

See, Visitors, Jesus said that there are some things we will always have with us. The poor. Troubles. Trials. Oddly, we are to ‘consider them pure joy’ because these things produce endurance and maturity in us. In James 1, we are told that this will make us ‘mature and complete’ lacking in nothing. Yah, I guess I can see that.

I grow so tired sometimes though, of Christians who preach that we are somehow entitled to abundance of any kind. In the midst of the past few years of suffering, I have grown weary of the idea that we are somehow entitled to ANYTHING at all. The Apostle Paul says we are to owe nothing, except a debt of love to each other. (Romans 13) Matthew 25 says that when we are kind to people with less, it is as if we are being kind to the King of Heaven.

So, perhaps we are entitled to kindness from our brothers and sisters.  Imagine with me, if you will, Visitors. What if we actually did share with those who have less, as if we were sharing with Jesus? What if we lived debt-free, except for the ‘debt of love’ owed each other, that Paul talks about in the book of Romans? Hmm. What a wonderful world that would be.

In the mean time, I reflect on my own worldliness. I’ve gotten beat up since Chris, my mom, and everyone had the nerve to die on me. This is true. My list of ‘wrongs suffered’ is pretty long. Really, though, in these smooth sailing times, it’s a lot easier to see that God actually does heap blessing up on blessing to us undeserving Christians. I’d like to see that more clearly in the midst of the storm.

That’s a prayer for myself. Clarity.  Also, to be more willing to share. Share more, share better, give for no reason other then we are asked to do so. Our heavenly Father loves us, and we love Him, and he asks us to do this. Share our money, share our  time, be the kind of Christ in the flesh that Jesus would want us to be.

Share too, of our maturity. Visitors, those of us who have endured great loss, do you ever feel like this? Princess Louisa, a child of the king. Her battle for clarity, purity, servant to her people, all have left marks on her body and scars on her face.

What's next, for my people?

What’s next, for my people?

Or the weariness of Donal O’Sullivan, the last prince of Ireland, preparing his people for a losing siege against the merciless British?

Weariness can overtake.

Weariness can overtake.

Our suffering has given us gifts. (I never, ever thought I would say that.) We are marked, to be sure. Some of our marks are permanent, and hard to view. Hard as it is to believe, people look to us after suffering. People look to us for reassurance, for succor, for guidance. We’ve been where they are. We understand. Let’s lead our people with our endurance, maturity and grace.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

The Education Of Victoria Faith


My firstborn daughter graduated yesterday, Visitors, and it rocked.

Victoria Faith was the smallest of my biological crew, weighing at at 6 lbs 12 oz. She had the biggest head of the bunch, though, and makes a habit out of apologizing to me every birthday. This running joke still cracks me up.

That head proved to be stuffed with brains, as this kid talked at about eight months, showed remarkable fine motor coordination early, and not an iota of interest in walking until she was nearly 2. Early childhood specialists know that could be cause for concern, so we had that enormous head scanned to check for problems, anomalies and incubating aliens. Nothing out of whack, just a cantaloupe held up on a fragile neck-stalk, and we had to be careful until she grew into it.

Grad Cap Fits

It normalized, eventually.

Victoria Faith was, of course, one of four reasons why I felt the burning desire to start Evergreen Academy. As most of you know, Visitors, Jefferson County Public Schools is a flaming train wreck, and is getting worse as time goes by. (More on that later)

Jeffco was in bad shape in the nineties, and I simply could not abide the idea of sacrificing my children on that particular altar. Victoria Faith was a case in point. When she was three, she had a preschool teacher that went a little overboard on phonics instruction for preschoolers. Three year olds should not have direct phonics instruction, and I was constantly correcting that particular teacher. That said, Victoria Faith made these mysterious synaptic connections, and one day when she was four, Chris caught her reading Curious George out loud to herself. Fluently. With expression.

Faith’s intellectual development proceeded by leaps and bounds after that. I knew what was going on, and as with all my kids, I handpicked their public school teachers when they entered public high school. Largely, Faith’s public school teachers were a good influence on her, and Chris and I mitigated the influence of the bad ones.

Salutatorian Faith

She rocked the Salutatorian stage.

Chris and I started saving for our children’s post-high school education after they got their Social Security numbers. (With four of them, we knew we better start early. ) When Chris died,  all of the kids really dialed in on the financial arrangements for college.  All of them could see me working hard for that goal, and were hugely appreciative when Poppa wrote the occasional check for that purpose. All of them stayed on task, but Faith’s path was the most torturous, in my opinion. THREE sections of Organic Chemistry? Organic Chemistry FaithThat says “Orgo III Reaction Guide – Wheeee!”.  (I have very sarcastic children.)

Jeep picture with Chris

Victoria Faith was about thirteen when this picture was taken. Chris was diagnosed shortly after.

Chris left us when Victoria Faith was sixteen, and that considerable brain power was knocked cleanly off the rails. Victoria Faith, like all of my children, was devastated.

I have never gotten permission from my children to detail  here what they experienced when they lost their father. Life was shattered for all of them. They loved their dad. Life, though, has this tendency to go on.

Faith End of Freshman Year

Victoria Faith struggled through her first year at DU. She made it.

Fem in Stem pic

She developed her own interests, and her own delightful friend group.

Robin and Faith

Distinctive Thesis Award -Faith

 

 

 

 

She made a wonderful, wonderful connection with this woman, Dr. Robin Tinghitella. Dr. Tinghitella  is a PH.D primary investigator at DU’s Tinghitella Lab, where like minded-scientists study rapid evolutionary change in organisms such as crickets and sticklefish. (http://mysite.du.edu/~rhibbs2/Robin_Tinghitella/Welcome_1.html) With Robin’s rigorous review, Victoria Faith earned a Distinctive UndergraduateThesis award.

All of this with me providing the most minimal, diminishing guidance. Visitors, those of you who , like me, have been visited with loss, remember the days when it seemed like nothing would ever change? Loss is here. It is defining. It rains on my days, it deepens my nights. I will not see the clear light of day anytime soon, maybe not ever.

Mom and Faith Graduation

Faith in auditorium

 

 

 

 

 

Things change, Visitors.

Things change for the better.

 

Like a friend of mine once said – “What are you going to do with it now? ”

Faith and Mom Walking

I’ll keep you posted.

Much love,

Victoria

The Trainwreck Of The New Jeffco Board Of Education: Why You Need To Care #NotAnotherDimeJeffco


Hello Visitors. Ever notice that there comes a particular age where you lose all interest in being right, in favor getting something done? This time has come with the current Jeffco Board of Education.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know the narrative. I’m a teacher, have been for thirty years. My brother ran, and was elected to the Jeffco BOE. Jeffco is a declining school district of about 85 thousand kids. It has a budget of over a billion dollars, TWICE as large as EVERY SINGLE OTHER county agency combined.(http://jeffco.us/budget-and-risk-management/adopted-budgets/2016-adopted-budget/)

Sit with that a minute. Jeffco schools say they need more money than the rest of the county by a factor of 2. That’s twice as much money as the sheriff’s department, commissioners, human services – Human services, that’s food aid to the poor of all sorts, that’s child abuse hotlines, that’s social services, that’s job training and counseling- twice as much as Public Health- health services to poor folks- twice as much as parks services, twice as much money as every single other agency combined. 

It just boggles the mind.

Now, remember for a moment. My brother was John Newkirk, one of the fiscally responsible, concerned citizens who ran for this volunteer post because he was concerned about the lack of focus on achievement in this district and blatant fiscal irresponsibility.

I was convinced the very, very powerful teacher’s union was going to skewer my brother and his family. I was right. I was convinced the powerful teacher’s union was NOT going to go quietly into the night, with their cash-filled golden goose at risk. Painfully, I was right. (For a review of these things, click back about three or four posts).

The Union managed to successfully manipulate the electorate to install the so-called ‘clean slate gang’

Clean-Slatepictured here.

Now, as you might think, my problems with this gang are legion. But to stay on point, consider the older gentleman to the left. His name is Ron Mitchell, and he is the President of this travesty. Ron Mitchell was the principle of a failing high school called Alameda for ten years in the eighties and nineties. The problems with Alameda under Ron Mitchell were dire, and for those students, catastrophic. In recent years, 8 out of 10 Alameda students took six years to graduate. NINE out of ten Alameda grads cannot perform math an on a ninth grade level. Alameda was designated a ‘turnaround school’, which means it has a limited period of time to design and act on an improvement plan or the state will shut it down. This can fairly be laid at Ron Mitchell’s feet.

Ron Mitchell is now in charge of Jeffco’s future. This is incredible.

(Out of state and international Visitors, track with me here. Alameda is one of dozens of Jeffco schools of color. Nearly 9 out of 10 Alameda attendees are not white. Failing publics schools of color are the bonfire civil rights issue of our day. There is a very real, defacto racial discrimination at play in Jeffco Public Schools. The chaos that currently reigns in Jeffco will be a reflection of this national disgrace. Please, follow along. )

Currently, this gang is preparing for the largest bond issue in Jeffco history. This November, this group is going to try and persuade Jeffco voters that it is in dire need of $800 MILLION dollars for budget shortfalls.  $1.15 BILLION US dollars isn’t enough.

Mitchell and the Union-inserted Clean Slate gang can’t make ends meet on TWICE the amount that every single other county worker has to live with.

Tell that to the sheriff that comes to your door when you call.

Tell that to the overworked social worker fielding child abuse cases.

Tell that to the public health nurse running the immunization clinic for poor kids.

Tell that to hungry mother trying to get food for her kids.

This is simply infuriating. This is out of control, and THIS, my friends, is why we need to care.

Much love,

Victoria

 

Miao Zhu Lierheimer And The Handprints Of God


“God’s will”  can be a nebulous thing, Christian Visitors. Ever notice that?  We talk about it so casually, as if it’s immediately recognizable by anyone. We bandy that phrase around, as if it’s something we can readily influence.

Don’t get me wrong, God’s will never contradicts God’s word, and American Christians need to crack their Bibles more often. But the difference between God’s perfect will, and God’s allowed will?  Or even the big picture of God’s will? The farther along I get, the bigger, and more complicated it seems.

Consider this, Visitors. In about two weeks I’m boarding a plane with Christopher to go visit Abigail in Hong Kong. You remember she’s a design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and they have a campus over there.

Twenty one years ago I boarded this plane and made the same journey to meet her for the first time,  and I remember it as if it were yesterday.

When we went to China,  Chris and I flew to Hong Kong for a single day. We were so jetlagged we spent it in the hotel asleep, and then boarded a plane for Hangzhou, in the southeast corner of the Zhejiang province of China. We spent several days there, visiting the orphanage where our daughter lived, viewing the silk mills for which Hangzhou is famous, and this, the West Lake.

West Lake possesses a haunting beauty. It’s divided into five sections by several causeways, and is full of ancient temples, pagodas and gardens that have influenced Chinese design for centuries.

West Lake is also busy. Hangzhou, which numbers nearly three million, attracts all kinds of people. Photographers, painters, artists of all sorts come to West Lake to create. It is never empty.

It was here, somewhere in this lovely spot, that Miao Zhu Xu started her journey to become Abigail Lierheimer, my daughter.

Miao Zhu’s biological mother loved her very much. At the time, China’s one-child policy was in full swing. Neighborhoods were monitored, and unauthorized second pregnancies were dealt with harshly. Benefits were denied families, and sometimes entire neighborhoods if second babies were allowed to be born. Sex-selective abortions were routine, ultrasound technology allowed this with ease. As there is a prejudice against girls in China, first girl children were routinely aborted in favor of boys.

Miao Zhu’s mother was careful. She had her baby in secret, and wrapped her tightly against the cold.  She found a crate for her baby, and wrote out all she knew about her child. She tucked the paper inside the blanket, against the baby’s delicate skin.

Under cover of darkness, she carried Miao Zhu  into West Lake. Abandoning children is a crime in China, but Miao Zhu’s mother loved her too much to let  her die. She slowly crept to a policeman’s shack, and left her sleeping baby near the door, certain to be discovered. Anxiously she waited. Waited and waited until the baby woke, and started to cry. Soon, the wailing roused the policeman on duty, and he came and picked up her child.

Miao Zhu’s mother wept as her child was taken away.

Miao Zhu landed in the Hangzhou orphanage, where she soon developed an eating disorder. Miao Zhu was wildly intolerant of lactose, and all of the formula available to the children was made from cow’s milk. She couldn’t hold it down. The orphanage had one care provider for every ten infants, and Miao Zhu was rapidly becoming a time-intensive problem. It was 1995, and often the Chinese response to sickly, abandoned children was to allow them to die of neglect.

‘Dying Rooms’ were common. Dying rooms were rooms in orphanages where ‘too needy’ children were placed, and died agonizing deaths of thirst or starvation. Earlier that year, three Americans made a film about this phenomenon, and adoptions in China ground to an abrupt halt. Miao Zhu couldn’t drink much formula, and she grew smaller and sicker. Chicken pox raced through her rooms. Headlice was common, her head was shaved.

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On the other side of the world Abi’s father and I waited impatiently. Abi’s brother went to preschool, and her sister was learning to walk. We had news of Abi’s difficulties, and we would often plead with God to speed things up, and let us connect with our daughter. Time was short for this little one.

Finally, we got on a plane. Days later we were driven to Hangzhou, and met Miao Zhu.

She had the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen.

We were told that ‘Miao Zhu’ meant ‘Baby Pearl’ in Chinese. ‘Abigail’ means ‘Source of Joy’, so Miao Zhu became Abigail Pearl, our joyful third child.

Abigail’s journey presents many, many puzzling questions about “God’s will”. There were many junctures where we, mere humans, could have thwarted God’s perfect will for this child. Her mother could have denied her life. The policeman in West Lake could have taken her somewhere else. Chinese politicians could have not allowed any adoptions at all after the damning documentary. Or, most likely, Abi’s little body could have shut down due to a lack of nutrition and attention.

None of these things happened.  Abi was held securely in the hand of God through all these frightful events.  It seems the older I get, the less I really know about the will of our Heavenly Father, Visitors.  But, this I do know, as the psalmist says:

    He will protect you like a bird
    spreading its wings over its young.
    His truth will be like your armor and shield. (Psalm 91:4)

Abi in China

Amen.

Much love,

Victoria