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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Secret

A theory has been floating around LA for the last year that we attract what we think about. This theory has permeated spiritual centers all across Los Angeles, and was first introduced in the book by Rhonda Byrne called, _The Secret_. Publisher's weekly summarizes the thesis this way: "One's positive thoughts are powerful magnets that attract wealth, health, [and] happiness."

Ellen Degeneres has been promoting this theory. So has Oprah, and I've even seen it cropping up on TV shows like "American Inventor," where contestants psych themselves up by repeating positive thoughts like, "My invention is going to revolutionize America!" or "I'm going to walk away with four 'yeses' from the judges!"

I even hear portions of _The Secret_ out of the mouths of friends.

For example, at the beginning of my pregnancy, when things were particularly bumpy, I called a friend from school who had recently joined the United Church of Religious Science. When I told him I was worried about the pregnancy he replied, "Christin, you have absolutely nothing to worry about! Think about it. You and Dwayne are both healthy people. Neither one of you has had great tragedy in your lives. Why would your baby be any different?"

A few weeks later, my neighbor knocked on my door asking how the pregnancy was going. She and her boyfriend attend a spiritual center called "Agape" that follows the principles of _The Secret_. I gave her a good report but confessed that I did struggle with worry from time to time.

"Oh, don't even let those thoughts in!" she retorted. "When they come to your mind just say, 'Thank you very much for that input, but I'm not going there.'"

I was touched by my neighbor's encouragement and decided that I would try this positive thinking thing. After all, there is merit in the idea that our thoughts impact our lives. So I spent the next few days trying to run off, ignore, or redirect anxious thoughts.

It didn't work.

Unfortunately, I just got more anxious. I felt paniced. "What if I'm inviting terrible things into my life by allowing these negative thoughts to swarm me?" Instead of feeling more serene, I was feeling more paranoid.

All of this worrying culminated in the shower. I was standing beneath the stream of warm water dizzy with worry when a thought of a different nature tapped me on the shoulder. It said, "Center your thoughts on Me." Suddenly, I felt such peace.

I think _The Secret_ has one thing right: our thoughts DO direct our lives. But I believe there is only One who has the power to transform our minds, and thereby transform our lives. Thomas Merton writes it beautifully when he prays,

Only You [Holy Spirit] can at once empty me of all things and fill me with Yourself, the Life of all that lives, and the Being in Whom everything exists.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Stab at a Political Issue - Gay Marriage

Since getting pregnant, I regularly watch "The View." I enjoy this show because they talk about religion and politics, and frequently the debates get so heated that I am crawling out of my seat.

Today they had guest panelist Star Parker, on the show and boy, did things get uncomfortable! Star is an African American woman, who used to be a welfare mom, on drugs, into crime, but became a born-again Christian and now is a spokeswoman for conservative Christian political issues.

Star got put on the spot multiple times as Barbara and Joy asked her questions like, "What does it mean to be born again?" "What do you think about gay marriage?" and "Weren't you divorced from your minister husband? Practice what you preach!"

I was squirming all over the place, but after it was said and done, I found myself rehearsing my own answer to these questions. Particularly the one regarding gay marriage, because I have yet to hear anyone adequately answered this question.

I have gay friends who have never asked me this question, and yet they've never felt they had too. They know where I stand. I know where they stand. However, this doesn't let me off the hook. I should still articulate my thoughts. So here goes -

I have no trouble with gay people getting married! However, I can't reconcile a gay couple getting married in the church. Likewise, I don't have trouble with my gay friends being gay. However, if they were to give their hearts to Jesus and ask him to guide their lives, I think he would lead them out of a gay lifestyle.

Here's the watershed for me - I don't understand why Christians insist on asking Non-Christians to live like them.

As believers we know that Jesus asks us to make decisions and live lives that are harder than we are capable of attaining on our own. Jesus asks us to give up our money. He asks us to love our enemies. He asks us to be monogomous. He may ask us to give up a boyfriend or a girlfriend. He may ask a gay person to remain celibate. These things are simply too hard to do on our own strength. But we also believe that Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit to enable us to make these very difficult life changes.

Why on earth do we expect people who have never experienced the life changing power of Jesus Christ to live like they have? It's simply too hard, and even we who are believers struggle to live by Jesus' standards.

This is why legislating morality, such as gay marriage, wrankles my chains. Turning Faith issues into political ones forces those who are not Christians to live by Christian standards.

This sets them up for failure, and it empties the gospel of it's power. Blending Christianity with politics imposes the rules without faith. And who of us, is capable of living a righteous life apart from Faith? (Romans 1:17)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Belly Has Arrived!

23 weeks and counting...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Under Pressure

I need to hear that song by Queen about now. On Friday we found out we're having a daughter, and on Saturday I spent the day reeling with questions. With this new knowledge about the gender of our child, an onslaught of decisions have suddenly pressed themselves upon me. It's as if, not knowing the gender allowed me to hide from this pregnancy for a little bit, but now that I know, I have to step up and start making decisions.

First of all - what color do we want to decorate the nursery/study? What textiles do I want to use?

Secondly - How will I deliver my baby girl? Due to the complications in my pregnancy, there is a good chance that I'll have to have a C-section. No problem; no questions. However, if my condition improves in the next three months, and I'm able to give birth the good old-fashioned way, then I must decide if I want to go natural or epidural.

Thirdly - Once this baby is out, will I breast feed or bottle feed?

Fourthly - Will I raise her on the Ferber method? The Babywise method? The Attachment Parenting way?

All of these decisions carry with them a certain amount of guilt. There is a sense that there is a "right" way, and if I don't pick it somehow I will disable my child for life.

I've heard of "mothering guilt" before, but now I feel it first hand for the first time. Who designed this sticky web of heat? Where did it come from? When did I start carrying it on my shoulders? I think this is just crazy, but there's no escaping the whispers in my head.

Can't having a baby just be easy? Can't it just click?!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Belly is Small

Three days ago, a friend from church came to visit. She too is pregnant, and we happen to be due the same week in October. She isn't a large woman, not even medium sized. She's been a dancer all her life, and is very slim.

I was shocked then, when she entered the apartment and looked about three months more pregnant than me! We are both 21 weeks along, but next to her my stomach looked like a flat, six-pack! Suddenly, it dawned on me that I am what they call "a small pregnant woman."

Several people have said to me over and over, "You're hardly showing!" or "You're belly is so small!" Even my OBGYN jokingly said, "You're so thin, you make me sick!" I have taken mild offense to all these comments, because I enjoy being pregnant and I am ready for the world to SEE that I'm pregnant.

Of course, by my standards, my stomach has ballooned. It's much larger then I've ever been around the middle, and I'm already beginning to get back pains. In my mind, my middle is as big as a house!

Over Memorial Day weekend, my mother took this picture. It's supposed to show my grandmother how much I've "grown." Sadly, my stomach looks almost normal. Just a small bump.

Ah, well. At least I feel the baby kicking and moving frequently. At least I have ultrasounds to prove that the life inside of me is now 8-9 inches long. Otherwise, I might not believe that I'm even pregnant!