e pluribus unum

Every single time a piece of American currency passes through our hands, we are touching the phrase, “e pluribus unum”.  Out of many, one. The phrase is on the Great Seal of America. It appears on every passport, coin, and bill. It is included in the seals of the President, Vice President, Congress, and Supreme Court and has been a motto of the United States since 1782. Yet, today, after having a reminder that we are “ONE” in our faces and hands for two hundred and thirty-five years; Jason Kessler lured hate-filled racists from every nook and cranny of this country to Charlottesville, VA under the premise of “uniting the right”. 

The phrase e pluribus unum can be traced back to Roman senator and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero wrote an essay to his son in the year 44 BC titled De Officiis (Of Duties or On Obligations). The essay was Cicero’s attempt to define ideals of public behavior. He includes the following  sentence in the book, with a phrase credited as the origin of “E Pluribus Unum.” Cicero writes, “When each person loves the other as much as himself, it makes one out of many” (unus fiat ex pluribus).

De Officiis was written forty-four years before the birth of Jesus. Although it was not a Christian book, in 390 it was declared acceptable for use by the Christian Church and it served as a moral guideline throughout the Middle Ages.

Why the history lesson? Because it’s absofrickinlutely ridiculous that two thousand and seventeen years after the birth of Christ, two thousand sixty-one years after Cicero wrote De Officiis, we’re still struggling to love one another. That we still have people gathering over the common bond of hatred.

I’ve made an interesting observation over the past five or six years. Feel free to comment and correct me if I’m wrong. What I’ve seen and experienced is that the majority of people at least make an effort to love their neighbors. However, the hate-filled minority (of all groups) tend to have the loudest voices and the biggest platforms. I know plenty of Christians who love well, but the ones who call themselves Christians and spew hatred are always the ones seen and heard. I know people of other faiths and of no faith. Most of them love others pretty well. I know lots of people that are registered Republicans and lots of people who are registered Democrats. The majority of them do a decent job of loving others. Unfortunately, the nastiest people on either side of the Congressional aisle seem to be the ones with the loudest voices and a media platform.

A year ago I wrote an essay titled “Heal this land.” The month before I shared the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. The month before that I wrote a piece on loving our neighbors. Some time before that I wrote a piece explaining why my voter registration card says, “Independent”.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m fairly certain that the rest of America is just as tired as I am of the loud divisive minority telling us that we need to be afraid of anyone that isn’t exactly like us. Is our nation in crisis? Absolutely. As long as people are dying because other people see them as “less than”, we are without question in crisis. Do we need to live in fear? Absolutely not.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has NOT given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, LOVE, and self-discipline. (emphasis mine)

1 John 2:9-11 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

The people who gathered in Charlottesville this weekend to celebrate hate are NOT Christians! They simply cannot be. If you hate ANYONE, you live in the darkness and you are blinded by that darkness.

Mark 12:30-31  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. No other commandment is greater than these.”

I wrote this over a year ago, but it bears repeating…

Who’s “your neighbor”? It’s the LGBT family with a child on your son’s baseball team. It’s the Muslim family living at the end of your block. It’s the Republican living to your left and the Democrat living to your right. It’s the gun-owner standing in line with you at the grocery store and the journalist on the mat next to you in your yoga class. Every. Single. Human. Being. Is YOUR NEIGHBOR!


E Pluribus Fucking Unum

Out of many…. ONE

Unus fiat ex pluribus = When each person loves the other as much as himself, it makes one out of many.

If you can’t remember that we are ONE, that the entire human race is worthy of being loved, carry a fucking penny in your pocket and read it on occasion.

John Pavlovitz wrote a GREAT post today that pretty much sums up how I feel about the happenings in Charlottesville. That crowd DOES NOT IN ANY WAY REPRESENT ME! What they are doing/have done is HATE. It is RACISM. It is COWARDICE. Why cowardice? Because one of the most courageous things a human can do is to lay down all of their fears and preconceptions and intentionally love people who do not look like them, worship like them, vote like them, or speak the same language as them. 

In these United States, we call ourselves “The Land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE.” It’s time to BE BRAVE, America.


killing babies

While I was in Serbia last May my eyes were opened to more needs than I could process.  On my flight home I filled several pages of my journal writing down the needs I’d been exposed to and praying for God to give me clarity about just what on earth this one, damaged, unqualified woman could do.  How could I make a difference for the kingdom of God in the land that gave me my daughter?  Out of all needs on the list, there was one that I intentionally placed at the very bottom…

On the day before that flight home, the Belgrade hotel room that I shared with my dear friends Lisa and Rachelle became a prayer closet.  People came by throughout the afternoon and evening to pray with us.  Some drove hours just to share space with someone who shared their God. The last person to stop by was a woman named Mila.  Other than the fact that she had been at a prayer conference in Sarajevo the month before, I knew nothing about her before she came to our door.  As she got comfortable on our little hotel couch and explained to the women in the room that God had spoken to her at that conference in Sarajevo about opening a crisis pregnancy center, I created a confidently smug reply in my head.  With the two women who know me (just about as good as I know myself) sitting nearby, I looked Mila in the eyes and said, “I’m not called to work with a crisis pregnancy center.  You see.  I had two abortions before I was married and I hope that God is more merciful than to call a person to minister in the one area that hurts the most.”  Lisa and Rachelle actually laughed out loud.

In the two weeks after my return from Serbia, I prayed over the list I created on my journey home.  I knew that I had no power to meet all of the needs on that list, but that I was called to meet at least one of them.  Over the course of those two weeks, God allowed me to have three very significant conversations (one of them with my own daughter) that led to a clear revelation about my calling.  In the seven months since that clear revelation I have denied that calling.  Today, God showed me that it’s time to come clean.

I killed my babies.  I have written an entire book about healing and I’ve led people to believe that it’s all about being healed from cancer.  It is not about cancer.  It is all about the process of being healed from the wounds that led to cancer.  You will have to buy the book if you want to know my whole story.  My whole story is not what this blog-post is about.  This post is about my disgust with the body of Christ over their approach to abortion.

When I was in middle school I participated in anti-abortion rallies.  I watched slide-shows of aborted babies and held up posters with pictures from those slide-shows that said things like, “Abortion Kills!” and “Don’t murder your unborn children”.  Seven or eight years later I walked across the parking lot of an abortion clinic on the way to kill my baby.  There were men on the edge of the parking lot wearing suits and holding Bibles up in the air while screaming, “Thou shall not kill!”  The next year I ended up facing the same decision.  I was doing drugs and still dating the same guy who once again stated that he wanted “Nothing to do with fathering my child” and promised that he would remind me as often as possible that “It was all my fault that this baby was “*#&@*d up” because I had done drugs while I was pregnant.  I ended up at the other abortion clinic in town.  This time there were teenage girls (probably passionate college students who were simply coached to do so) holding up signs with pictures of aborted babies.  The last words I remember as I walked through the door of that clinic were, “YOU’RE A BABY KILLER!!”

My point today is that the men waving their Bibles in the air and the young girls who called me a baby killer were very far removed from the God I have come to know personally.  The God who loves me DESPITE my shortcomings.  The God who taught me that His grace is bigger than any wound I have ever received….. Whether the wound was inflicted by others or self-inflicted.

For more than a decade of my life I tried to earn grace.  I tried to atone for killing my babies.  I thought that by refusing to enjoy the amazing life I had, I could somehow make the pain and guilt go away.  My plan did not work.

In the fall of 2002 I sat at Cascade Hills Church in Columbus, Georgia and listened to Dr. Bill Purvis preach a sermon on grace.  I grew up in church, attended a Christian school throughout middle school and part of high school.  Yet, somehow I missed out on the one thing God is really all about.

2 Corinthians 12:9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

One line in that sermon by Bill Purvis changed my life. “Who are you to think that ANYTHING you could ever do, is bigger than God allowing his son to die?”

Much like the moment today when I realized I was going to write this post, I was broken.  God is ALL ABOUT GRACE!  All the years I spent trying to punish myself were years wasted in an attempt to be my own god.  Vengeance and justice are not mine.  They belong to God.  If you don’t believe me, do a Google search on “scripture God vengeance”.  He is pretty stinking clear on the subject.

Those girls at the second clinic, the men with the Bibles at the first clinic, and me, myself and the thirteen year old I, are all just a part of the failure of The Church.  As Christians, we have spent our resources (man-power, money, time, and energy) fighting abortion by telling girls and women that abortion kills babies.  In that attempt we have not stopped abortion nor gained political ground.  We have simply made the wounds of the women who’ve experienced abortion that much bigger. I think we’ve all got it.  Abortion kills.  If you believe that life begins at conception, then you cannot argue the point that choosing abortion means choosing to end a life.

Jesus was pretty clear on one thing…. John 13:34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: LOVE EACH OTHER.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.“NLT

Where is the love in screaming out, “Baby Killer!” to a girl who does not see any other option?  Where is the love in a church who shows slide-shows of aborted fetuses?  What kind of love does that show to the women (or men) who have lost a child to abortion?

If you have not walked in my shoes, you can not judge me (Read Matthew 6).  Am I guilty of murdering my babies? Yes.  Has the healing process been hell?  Yes.  Has the body of Christ made that healing process a thousand times more painful?  YES!  Is murder unforgivable?  No.  the apostle Paul was very clearly a murderer and thirteen books written by him still managed to make it into the New Testament of the Bible.  God is ALL ABOUT GRACE!!  He is ALL ABOUT HEALING!!  He is ALL ABOUT LOVE!!

Personally, I do not think we will ever see an end to abortion.  If the devil can get mothers to kill their babies before they are ever born then he doesn’t have to work to kill them throughout their lives…. John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy….”  Abortion kills a baby and destroys the life of a mother.  The other half of John 10:10 says, “….I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  The “I” in that verse is Christ.

Body of Christ, I challenge you to make a choice.  You can either be a part of the “destroying of lives” or you can be a part of the “life abundant”.  Do not call yourself “pro-life” unless you are actually pro-life.  You see…. Until The Church actually decides to show love and grace to women who have experienced abortion, there will never be any women to minister to those who are considering it.

I cannot tell you the number of CHRISTIAN women I have met that bow their head in shame and whisper, “me too.” when they hear my story.  Church, we have failed.

You wanna be like Christ?  The next time you meet a girl who’s pregnant and uncertain about what she will do, tell her that no matter what she chooses, GOD STILL LOVES HER!  Tell her that “HIS GRACE IS ALL SHE NEEDS!”  Talk to her about adoption.  The next time you hear another Christian talking about their stand on abortion, ask them what they are doing to encourage and support adoption.  After all, we were not instructed that pure ministry was to stop murder in James 1:27.  We were instructed that pure and undefiled ministry, before God, is to take care of the fatherless.

If you want to be pro-life, you must first be pro-choice.  CHOOSE to encourage the abundant life promised by God to both unborn babies AND to the women who have lost their babies to abortion.  CHOOSE to not be a part of the enemy’s scheme to steal (joy, peace, love, grace, you name it), kill (babies whose Moms feel rejected and/or judged by the body of Christ and who do not see any other options being promoted by the body of Christ), and destroy (the lives of babies, women, men, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone else who cares).

After explaining to Mila on that day last May how I was not called to work with her, I explained to her all the things I have just described for you.  I told her that the only way she would ever make a difference (in a nation that averages three abortions to every one live birth) would be to offer grace, love, and healing to women (and men) who have experienced the loss of a child through abortion.  Mila listened to me.  Her center will be a place of healing.

After seven long months and a roller-coaster ride of chasing after worthy callings that are not my own, one thing is clear.  God is immeasurably merciful mixed with a twisted sense of humor in the needs he calls us to fill.  He gives us love and grace to the point that we can overflow that love and grace to others.

This is my gauntlet.  Consider it thrown.