Sunday, October 31, 2010


There's something special about church camp.

Besides doing all sorts of fun things, it really brings you back to God, and reminds you of who He is and what He's given you.

Our campus was absolutely gorgeous, and the messages were incredibly moving. The subject was bracing ourselves by living lives of confession, repentance, and dependence.

I felt like I had always lived a life of confession, though, for the most part. Sure, there were one or two things that I had been hiding from God and from others, but, generally, I don't like to hide my faults. How else can I and others learn from them? And, there had never been a greater lesson on dependence than getting sick in Peru, not to mention having to leave all those suffering babies behind.

The most moving thing that I learned at camp wasn't even something we were "learning" about. I realized how lucky I am to have friends that are on the same path toward Christ that I am. I take my friends for granted, but it finally fell on me how entirely grateful I am to God for giving them to me.

My favorite moments of camp were probably the most ridiculous - singing Disney songs on top of the cabinets in the cabin, making up a dance about cupcakes, and attempting to write notes in Spanish.

The full weight of what my friends are to me fell on me this week, and just thinking about it is almost crushing. God has given us the most beautiful gift in the world, the gift of allowing us to have friends that walk with Him. And we can't forget how lucky we are to have that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wicked Barbecue Jesus Freaks

It has been a crazy two weeks.

I had a great fall break. It's never bad to get a break from school. I went to my grandparents' house, rightly labeled "The Spa," where I got to sleep as late I wanted, eat whatever I wanted, and watch as many movies as I wanted. Needless to say, I was in Tori Heaven. But, can you believe it? I actually missed getting up and walking. I noticed the effects that not walking had on me. Restless sleep. Bad breakouts of acne. Who knew what a difference walking was making?

While I was there, I got to see the Broadway show (well, not technically on Broadway) Wicked. I had heard this show built up and built up and built up by friends. Needless to say, it lived up to my expectations. The music? Fabulous. The effects? Breathtaking. But the best part of all? The story. As someone who loves writing, reading, and stories in general, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time thinking, Whoever thought this up is the most creative genius in the universe. Word of advice, though - Don't read the book. My parents won't even let me try it because the foul language is so frequently used.

While I was there, I got to eat some small town barbecue. Believe me, there is nothing better than a good barbecue sandwich, a hot bowl of Chili, and some sweet tea.

What I was not expecting over fall break, though, was the disagreement I'd encounter over my plans for my life. As of now, I don't even know if I want to go to college. My dream life would be living in a dirt poor orphanage, loving on kids for my whole life. As I was relating this to a few people, all they would say in reply was, "Well, I wouldn't do that."

While they didn't say it, I could see it in their eyes. They disapproved. They did not think that I was using the gifts God has given me to my full extent. Film score composer? They'd love it. Famous author? Just as good. But not dirt poor. Not a dirt poor girl living in a dirt poor place.

Truthfully, this opposition took me off guard. I was not used to people discouraging my dreams of working in an orphanage. In fact, I was used to being built up for it. My family, my church, my friends - they all support my goals, college or no college, rich or poor. I won't lie - it shook me. Is this how most people feel? I thought. Do they feel like I'm going to waste? There was a time not too long ago that I thought that very same thing. God's gifted me at writing classical music, at writing in general, at academics - I can't just throw all that away.

But, just because I don't use my talents in a way that the world sees as rewarding, does not mean that God isn't using them. And I've learned that not a lot of people will understand that. But only One opinion really matters.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What the World Says

I read a recent article on the abortion of a baby with Down syndrome. The parents of the child had him or her carried in a surrogate mother, but when they found out the baby had Down syndrome, they ordered the surrogate mother to get an abortion. She didn't want to, but felt legally bound to it.

While you're reading these comments, keep this picture in your mind:

"The parents should have included a termination clause in the contract in case the fetus was found to be defective. If the surrogate didn't agree in advance, I really don't see that they have any recourse."

"I got no problem aborting that child and if the surrogate wants to continue than she can deal with the kid."

"[Second] I support what the couple wants. I would abort. I would not want to be a downs syndrome person nor would I inflict my own offspring with it."

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone in this day and age would give birth to a Down's Syndrome baby. Why give yourself a life sentence, as that is what it is. I'm glad this woman did the right thing."

"Wow. All this whining about the 'right' of a social failure to burden its parents BEFORE IT IS BORN. The only good choice, the only smart choice, is to have only HEALTHY BABIES delivered, EVER. Sooner or later, a genetic dropout will be a burden on society. It should be terminated NOW, before it can become a lifetime 50,000/year maintenance tax."

"to prevent a life time burden is a wonderful gift"

"[yes] but those genetically defected children grow into significant and overwhelming adult burdens like changing diapers on a morbidly obese 30 yo male who is aggressive for instance - this is not cute and snuggly any more of course adults should be breeding and making related decisions - easy call for for downs especially"

How dare they. How dare they say that about Levi? About Evan? About Down syndrome people everywhere? Obviously, these people are inexperienced when it comes to special needs. For example, I've met a lot of kids and people with Down syndrome, and I have NEVER met a thirty year old man with Down syndrome who still needs diaper changes. Maybe it does happen and, you know what, that's okay.

And, a burden on society? Not able to contribute? Alright, if the world wants to get real about who's REALLY contributing to society, we've gotten to broaden our horizons a bit. What about the elderly people living in nursing homes? They're not contributing at all. Why don't we just go ahead and kill them with a gas mask or something? Oh, it won't be painful. And, really, they can't help us anymore.

What about the people who have cancer, terminal cancer, even. They can't contribute anymore because they're too weak. Let's just get rid of them.

What about soldiers that get wounded mentally or physically in action. Well, yes, they helped for a little while. But, they can't help now. Why keep them?

And, if we really want to point fingers, let's point at the REAL non-contributors. Thirty-year-old men who are still living with their parents, can't get a job, and go around getting drunk and getting girls pregnant. How are these people contributing to society any more than people with special needs? In fact, they're probably contributing less!

Anyone who's ever met Levi will tell you that he is a precious, precious boy. A boy who's learning, who tries his hardest to do his best. A boy who loves unconditionally and to the fullest. A boy who always sees the bright side of life. A boy who has changed more lives in the three years he's lived than most people probably ever do.

Levi is not defective. Levi is not inflicted with Down syndrome. Levi is not a social failure. Levi is not a burden on our family. Levi is not a maintenance tax. Levi is a beautiful boy, who has contributed more to our society than anyone I know.

And I wonder how long God will let His special ones be treated like this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Glee and Christianity

Most of you have probably heard of the TV show Glee (if you haven't, you must be a hermit). Is it the most appropriate of shows? Definitely not. But, as a teenage girl, I'm not gonna sit around and watch Veggie Tales my whole life. Glee is a good show. It's funny, it's got a relatively good plot line, so I'll enjoy it, thank you very much.

For those who don't know, the show revolves around a diverse group of high schoolers struggling with popularity, sex, etc. (the normal teenage things) as they're in the school's glee club.

There is one boy in particular, named Kurt, who is homosexual. Tonight's episode revolved mainly around Kurt, whose father was in critical condition at the hospital.

Many of Kurt's friends tried to console him by telling him that they were praying for him, and encouraging him to turn to God in his time of trouble. This was his reply:

"I don't believe there is a god. And, even if there was, God's a jerk, isn't he? God makes me gay and then makes His followers go around saying it's a choice , as if I'd choose to be mocked every day of my life."

While I don't believe that people are born gay, and I do believe that being gay is a sin like any other, one that can be overcome (albeit, it's really, really hard), I think that Kurt has a point here. As a Christian people, we like to rate sins. Sins like adultery, homosexuality, and murder are the "worst" sins. We must be better than people that do that. Our sins aren't that bad. But we forget that we're no better than they are in God's eyes. We're all equal. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We have no right to judge gay people, just as we have no right to judge liars because, really, our sin is just as black to God as their's is.

I don't justify their actions. I don't agree that people should actively pursue a homosexual lifestyle. But, neither should I justify my own actions, or the actions of others. It's okay to tell one lie. I don't believe that people should lie, or cheat, or commit adultery, or have premarital sex. I don't agree that I should lie, or worry about what the next day will bring, or judge others.

All are sins. All are equal. A gay person has every right to say, "I don't agree with you lying all the time. I think that's a horrible thing to do, but I still love you." We're so easy to do this with people who commit "minor" sins. When will we realize that God loves gay people just like he loves us "good Christians".

Being a Christian isn't about making people conform to what you believe, or converting them to Christianity. Being a Christian is loving people where they're at, wherever they're at, and letting God take care of the rest.