Abortion and The Women’s March

From both sides of the aisle, assumptions have been flung back and forth.  For the sake of dialogue, for the sake of the healing of our country and the healing of the church, we must put all assumptions aside.

So let’s start this conversation from square one, with a blank slate.  For the sake of  dialogue and healing, let’s assume that I am not a monster who advocates for the murder of children.  For the sake of dialogue and healing, I will assume that you are not an ignorant racist who cannot look past your own self interest.  We, as followers of Christ, are united under the Kingdom of Heaven, and I refuse to believe these assumptions are true about you or about myself.

I am pro-life.  I am pro-life because I am anti-abortion.  I value, in the deepest and most intimate places inside my heart, that every life is a gift from God, that we are all created in His image, and that he has knit us together in our mothers’ wombs.  Because of this deep and intimate belief, I am pro-life.

I am pro-life for the young mother with nowhere to turn, I am pro-immigrant and pro-refugee, I am pro-woman, I am pro-people of color, I am pro-people with disabilities, I am pro-sexual assault victims, I am pro-LGBQT communities, and I am pro-life for the unborn child without a voice to advocate for itself.  Because of all of these things, I am, from a political standpoint, pro-choice.

I support Planned Parenthood because I support access to women’s healthcare.  I do not classify abortion as healthcare.  I, just like you, believe that abortion is absolutely heartbreaking and is the absolute last answer to any young mother’s circumstances.  I am thankful that it is illegal for my tax dollars to be spent on abortion.  I hope, in those same deepest and most intimate places of my heart, that no woman ever chooses that ending the life of her child is the right thing to do.

That’s why I am thankful that today, January 23rd, 2017, abortion rates are at an all time low.  I am screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-7-55-41-pmthankful for Planned Parenthood, and for the expansion of healthcare, because the expansion of these organizations has made these abortion rates possible.  Because of Planned Parenthood, women have access to birth control and sex education.

Because I am pro-life, I cannot be a single issue voter.  If I vote solely on the heartbreak I feel towards abortion, then I would be shutting the door in the face of every other population I am called to love.  In a perfect world, Jesus would come to earth and run for office, and we could all get behind him and join a campaign team together.  However, Jesus is not one of our political candidates.  Neither candidate we voted for on November 8th aligned with our Gospel beliefs.  So we must be willing to look deeper than any one issue.

Criminalizing abortion will not solve our country’s problem with abortion, just like criminalizing drugs did not solve our country’s problems with drugs.  Not only with this criminalization be counter productive and completely unrealistic, but it would only serve to further marginalize already marginalized populations, and as followers of Christ, these are the very populations that we are called to protect.

I wish that there wasn’t an aisle between us, and in heaven there won’t be.  But in the midst of a political season, and now a new presidency, that has left so many of us hurt, angered, scared, and scarred, let’s tear down walls and begin to build bridges.  Let’s facilitate conversations that assume the best about each other and that seek loving answers to incredibly difficult and nuanced questions.

What would it look like if we came together?  If we, as women, as strong women advocating for each other and for our children, were able to look past assumptions and have conversations?  We might start to look a little bit more like the Kingdom of God.

 

 


 

 

For more perspectives on the decision to vote for a pro-choice candidate, Rachel Held Evans has some very valuable insights. You can find a couple of them here, and here.

 

 


Investing Professionally in 2017

Going back to work after a long break is hard.  Last week it felt especially hard.

I’m not ready to go back to work, and I’m really not ready to go back to all of the stress and anxiety that comes along with going back to a workplace that isn’t always the way I think it should be.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I mean, whose work place is always 100% ideal?  There are a few careers and workplaces I have idealized and fantasized about for far too long, but I’m sure even these places that are so picture-perfect in my mind aren’t as picture-perfect in real life.  So if 2017 is a year of investing, what does it look like for me to invest in a workplace and in a career, even when it’s really, really hard?

I could talk about all of the ideal ways I should be approaching my job and my career path, but before I jump straight into the way perfect Erin or perfect Ms. Green (both of those characters are fictitious, btw) would act in every stressful workplace situation, I want to first identify the things that I believe.  Just like I did when looking at investing financially, I want to start with the foundational beliefs.  So what is it that I believe about this area of my life?

  • I believe that I have a calling placed upon my life, and I know that right now, I am called to be inside a classroom full of fifth graders.
  • I believe that I have a higher calling, a forever calling, and that is to the Kingdom of God.  Any earthly calling that I pursue should be ultimately pointing me back towards Jesus and His forever redemption.

Until this forever calling is fulfilled, until I am at the gates of heaven, I believe that I am in my right now calling to point towards this forever calling.  I believe this means that:

  • I am called to do all things with patience, prayer, and love.  I believe that I am called to be a light in the midst of darkness.
  • I am called to do my job with excellence.
  • Jesus has uniquely gifted me with multiple passions and multiple facets in which I can pursue those passions.  I believe that I am called to steward each of these unique gifts that I have been given, and that I am called to listen to the direction the Lord calls me.

These are the things that I foundationally believe about my job and my career path.  These are the things that should transform the way that I approach each day at work.  The reality is, it is much easier to write these things out than it is to actually act accordingly.  Just like with my finances, it is much easier to say that my bank account belongs to Jesus.  Actually giving my money away and capping my taco purchases at El Chilito is much more challenging.

So how do I take a step past just believing theses things, and how do I wake up each morning and carry these beliefs into work with me?  Unfortunately, I haven’t found any super cool apps to make me be a kind and grateful teacher and coworker (I searched “be nice app” on the apple store, but all that came up were some selfie editing tools and a “call Santa” app.  The Santa one seems pretty cool).

If these are the things that I really believe, then here are some ways I think these beliefs should manifest at work and in my attitude towards work:

  • If I believe that I have a forever calling higher than my right now calling, then I can rest in the knowledge that my day or week or month at work is not the end-all-be-all of my life.  There is more.  I am not limited to living in the right here and right now.  If I do excellently at work, it’s for the Kingdom.  If I do poorly at work, it’s okay, because I know that in the end, it’s not about me, and there is someone greater who holds each of my students in the palm of His hand.
  • If I believe that I am called to be a light in the midst of darkness, then I am called to pray.  And if I really believe in Scripture truths, then I believe in the power of prayer, and prayer can transform everything.  What would it look like if I prayed for those students and coworkers who are the hardest for me to love?  Like, really prayed for them, instead of complaining about them?
  • If I believe that I am called to do my job with excellence, then I am free to pursue lines of continuing education and continuing opportunity for the sake of Christ and His calling, not just for my own personal, financial, or professional gain.
  • If I believe that I am uniquely gifted and called, then I can live in the confidence that my worth comes from Christ, that I am where I’m supposed to be, and that the path I’m on is the one He has set out for me.  I can live in the freedom of knowing that when it’s time for a change in setting or a change in career, that will be a calling that has been ordained by the One who is greater than I, and His plan is sovereign.  I am free to be used for the Kingdom in the capacity Jesus sets before me in each season.

 

Jesus, thank you for my job, than you for a career that I am passionate about.  Thank you that my security comes from you, and not from how well I perform.  Lead me to invest my hands and my heart in the work you have set before me.  Let me listen to Your calling, and let me follow wherever you lead me.  Amen.

 


Investing Financially in 2017

Earlier this week, I reflected on 2016 and looked forward to what God might have in store for me in 2017.  As I looked forward, the word investment kept coming to mind.  I want 2017 to be a year of investment, the year that I invest in the things that I foundationally value.  I want the way that I invest my time and my money to match the things that I proclaim to believe.

In working through this idea of investment this morning, I decided to break it down into 5 categories of investing: investing spiritually, financially, relationally, personally, and professionally.  The things that I foundationally believe in all five of these categories should transform the way that I approach each of them.

Processing through each of these categories is a mighty task, and one that I will be tackling over the coming days and weeks.  Today, I want to take a look at what it looks like to invest financially, and I want take a minute to share a couple of my favorite financial tools as well.

In sorting through these 5 categories, the first question I’ve been asking myself is: what do I believe about this area of my life?

Financially, I believe that:

  • My money is not my own, it is a gift from Jesus.
  • I am called to be a good and responsible steward of the money I have been given.
  • I am called to be generous.
  • Money is an earthly tool, it is not eternal.  It can be used for good, and its value can also be dangerously distorted and used against us.  Scripture speaks all too clearly against coveting wealth.
  • No amount of earning, saving, or spending money will ever satisfy me.

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

 

So if these are my foundational beliefs about money, then my bank statements should reflect these beliefs.  Well, last month I looked to see if that was true.  I printed out just one month of spending, color coded the ish out of it, and looked at where I was really investing my money.

Surprise surprise, the ways that I was actually spending my money did not align with the things I really believe about money.  I think that in the midst of yielding a tool as powerful as a shiny new credit card or a stack of cold hard cash (more realistically a credit card, I don’t think I’ve ever held a stack of cold hard cash), satan tricks me into believing the exact opposite of what I really want to believe.  He whispers in my ear, “you worked hard for this money, you can spend it however you want to.  You should really spend this money on yourself because [XYandZ].  This purchase will satisfy you.”  And I take the bait, despite the truths that I really know, almost every single time.

So if I’m going to approach money differently this year, I need to equip myself to let the truths that I believe transform the way that I use my money.  Equipping ourselves, in every arena, starts with prayer.

Jesus, thank you for blessing me with a job and a salary. Thank you for provision.  I pray that you would walk beside me and guide me as I learn to use my money to glorify You and Your Kingdom.  I pray against satan and his lies, and I pray that you would take ahold of my heart and point it away towards you and away from greed and selfishness.  Amen.

Alright, let’s take a look at some logistical ways to be good stewards of the money we have been given.

Last year I started my first big girl job, set up a big girl budget, and then proceeded to ignore the budget and do whatever I wanted.  Responsible AF.

I think that I really did put a good foot forwards towards budgeting, I just didn’t have the discipline to sustain it, and I was paying way too much for my apartment.  Now in a different (much more affordable) living situation, and a year and a half of salary under my belt, I’m ready to re-evaluate my budgeting.

This is the blog post I wrote last year about budgeting.  I used Nicole Lapin’s Rich Bitch book to guide me, and I still think this book is the most amazing thing.  (If you’re looking for the DIYs on budgeting, start here.)  I reopened this blog post last week, and sat down to reevaluate my budget.  I set up my budget again with the new numbers, and made some changes in my bank accounts to follow.  My bank accounts have been set up as follows:

  • I have three bank accounts: one checking account for scheduled payments, one checking account for “extra” purchases, and one savings account.
  • My Venmo and Paypal accounts are linked to both of these checking accounts, so that I can take money out of the appropriate accounts and don’t have to remind myself to make transfers.
  • I have two credit cards, but I have very limited reasons to use these credit cards.  I think building a credit score is an important thing to do as an adult, but thoughtless spending on credit cards has been my demise.

Scheduled payments from my first checking account include tithing, rent, bills, my car payment, insurance, etc.  There is also cushion in this account for spontaneous giving.  Tithing is first on my list intentionally.  If my money is not my own, if I truly believe that it belongs to Jesus, then giving is uncompromisingly the first thing I should be doing.  The amount that I give and the ways that I give should result in bending my heart towards Jesus and away from myself.

The second bank account is the one that I’m free to use for groceries, gas, and any additional things that I want to spend my money on.  All purchases, with a few exceptions, are being made with the debit card linked to this account.  My credit cards will be used for store specific purchases, and money will immediately be transferred over to cover the charge.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except for the continuing debt to love one another.”  Romans 13:8

I’ve found some really great apps that I’ve set up to help keep me on track (I am all bout apps rn):

unnamed-1Echo keeps track of prayer requests and sends you reminders to pray at designated times.  Financial giving should be rooted in prayer, and should spur us on towards continued prayer.  I’ve set up reminders in Echo, so that each month when scheduled donations are sent, my phone also reminds me to pray for that specific ministry.  I think that this has the potential to change the way that my heart approaches giving, and will allow me to invest spiritually as well as financially.

intuit_mint_logo_detailMint is a budgeting app that you may already be familiar with.  I’ve had it for a long time, but it was pretty meaningless to me.  Last week, though, I went back into my account, set up the Mint budgets according to my own budgets I should be following, and have been diligent about opening the app and making sure that purchases and charges are being filed under the correct categories.  If used well, this app is bomb.

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Credit Karma gives you free access to your credit scores and gives you insight into why your scores are what they are.  It also shows you all of the balances on your lines of credit.  I’ve learned a lot from it.

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Stash is an investment app that makes it easy to invest your money.  It helps you to set up an investment strategy that’s right for you, and then makes it super easy to sustain.  I’ll be honest, this is a chapter of Rich Bitch that I need to revisit to understand the ins and outs of stocks and mutual funds, but if you’re looking to invest, this is a cool place to start.  If you click this link, you’ll get a free $5 to get started.

These apps have been very helpful so far, and I’m excited to continue using them for as long as they are tools that will lead me towards being a better steward of the gifts I have been given.  If these apps are opened too frequently, or start to sway my heart words the idolatry of earning, saving, or spending money, then they will be gone.

 

As excited as I am for the fresh start of a new year and new ways to invest my money, what I am looking forward to most is this: I want my financial investments to be a springboard for investing my heart.  I am thrilled to be investing in my church, and in the ministries of my friends, and those investments should be propelling me towards thanksgiving and prayer.  Jesus tells us, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” and I want for my treasure to be invested in and to guide my heart towards good, Kingdom worthy, freedom proclaiming things.