Cultivating Kids for the Serious Business of Life

“What’s always struck me about Huxley’s novel [Brave New World] is that, even amid all this license, the savvier characters still recognize that they aren’t in fact free. Bernard Marx at one point refers to himself as “enslaved by my conditioning,” while the Savage contrasts “freedom” with the World State’s enforced “comfort.” This is the first thing to understand about what we’re doing to our children today: it isn’t liberty so much as the opposite. Huxley’s point is that even liberation can become subjugating if it’s turned into ideology and inflicted upon the young,” Matt Purple~

I remember sitting in a classroom in 1993 for parent-teacher conferences for my then-12th grade daughter. The class was health. I was the parent. The teacher was a woman who’d grown up down the street from my childhood home. We had played with our Barbie dolls together. Now we sat on opposite sides of a desk.

My daughter had told me that this teacher had the class line up, each student holding a placard with the name of a male body part. The supposed goal was to get the students to learn the correct order of placement for male sex organs. The class was co-ed.

An unintended (or not) result of such a classroom activity would be a diminishing of natural self-consciousness among the students, a self-consciousness I would argue is God-given and protective.

Thirty-one years later, sex education in many districts occurs earlier and is often more graphic than placards with words for male body parts lettered on them.

Now we must ask why some people are working so hard to make sure children (now much younger than my daughter was then) understand all there is to understand about sex, sexuality, and sexual identity while others have ceased to ensure that said children can read, write, and calculate at a functioning level or beyond.

Sharon Slater, co-founder and president of advocacy group Family Watch International, [explains the] ‘harmful elements’ in the United Nations-developed, U.S. government-sponsored Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), including its graphic, pleasure-focused approach toward teaching children about sexual behavior.

“’The publication, ‘It’s Perfectly Normal,’ . . . is in many libraries and school libraries across the United States. [At least one state mandates CSE for classroom use.] It’s very graphic with depictions of children engaging in . . . various sexual acts,’ said Slater.”

Soak that in–-children depicted in sex acts. Drawn images, we presume. Otherwise, how would it differ from the pornography explained on news sites informing us that those who possess it are now in jail?

News reports that occur with far too much regularity.

We must note the reference to “pleasure-focused.” Be sure to dust off your copy of Huxley’s The Brave New World, referenced above by Matt Purple. Huxley presents a culture steeped in–and controlled by–pleasure. Oppression through excess of pleasure.

As Purple points out, we have to ask how we got from #metoo to this stuff.

And again, why?

But now to the part most of us assume is the purpose of schools–education, which again, most of us assume is largely comprised of reading, writing, and math. We must be careful not to assume what has previously seemed reasonable to expect.

In 2020, Oregon suspended reading, writing, and mathematics requirements for graduating students because of COVID and last year announced that it will continue that suspension until at least 2029.

Only 35 percent of America’s fourth graders demonstrate reading proficiency while nearly a quarter of Californians are illiterate.

Perhaps some sort of pleasure indicator will replace academic requirements.

Many dissatisfied parents are moving their children out of such classrooms. As record numbers of families became homeschoolers after COVID, private schools also saw big enrollment increases and continue to grow.

Newcomers to homeschooling found during COVID shutdowns that teaching their own children is positive, effective, doable, and within their control.

Many pilgrims to private schools may have just been looking for in-person learning as some public school shutdowns continued. But Kerry McDonald predicted that the “trend [of increasing private enrollment] is likely to continue” after the lockdowns end.

It has.

It’s fair for us to conclude that some parents moved children to new educational environments to enable them to pursue excellence instead of pleasure, to enable them to receive a traditional education of reading, writing, math, etc. Et cetera encompassing science, history, and the arts rather than the simple pursuit of pleasure. These parents know the journey to excellence is not always fun-filled. And it never happens on its own.

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny,” (Aristotle).

Some in modernity figured that out too. Even in decadent Hollywood.

Actor Robin Williams’s portrayal of an English teacher at a boys’ prep school in Dead Poets’ Society (1989) comes to mind. Williams’ Mr. Keating wanted his students to seize the day–to make sure they didn’t let life slip by without pursuing great dreams.

Such dreams do not come true through hedonism–a devotion to pleasure alone.

“In his immortal performance, Williams gave humanity a great gift of remembering two truths: that we all die, and that the humanities, far from being unserious, drive us toward the serious business of life.” Matthew Becklo.

The serious business of life is the pursuit of full potential, the quest for purpose, the lifelong journey of service to God and people–thereby we find meaning in our lives.

Teaching children that pleasure is the be-all and end-all violates everything education should be.

It sets children up for bondage of all kinds of oppression–public and personal–providing passing good feelings instead of lasting fulfillment. Meaningless pleasure can never be more than a distraction from emptiness. And emptiness is compounded when grown-ups lack literacy and mathematical capability.

And the ability to think critically.

The quest for pleasure for its own sake combined with a void of capability creates enslavement as the enslaved one continually seeks more pleasure that provides only more emptiness.

True education fills minds and feeds souls. It recognizes that there is more to each child than a physical body. It reminds each student to look beyond him/herself to others in a way pleasure-oriented “education” can never accomplish.

“The whole purpose of education,” as Sidney J. Harris says, “is to turn mirrors into windows.”

Fulfillment comes through a developed character made from challenge and rigor. The work of learning bestows more than knowledge. It instills curiosity and discipline. It enables us to engage in wonder.

It teaches us how to continue to learn throughout life.

Applied thinking, through reading, wordcraft, and calculation, leads children to become people who know when and how to set pleasure aside to reach for a greater good. Only then can they know true pleasure.

Our nation is blessed with many teachers who urge their students toward excellence. Many of them hail from the classrooms of public schools. Not all states and districts have succumbed to the cultural decay of promoting empty pleasure.

Parents must not simply hope for the best. They must not assume all is well in their educational corner of the country.

To assume so is to invite a cost too great and a loss beyond measure. Too many schools ask little or nothing of their students. They promise more than their teachings can ever deliver.

Mr. Keating, quoting Whitman, asks us to reach for more:

“‘[W]hat good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.’

“What will your verse be?”

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Our new website milicomathersreads.com is accepting reviews for middle reader books–especially those written by middle school students. Message me at readgoodbooks@milicomathersreads.com or in the comments below.

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Though the Earth Gives Way

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah, Psalm 46-1-3, ESV~

The earth shifts beneath us.

The sky pours rain for days on end.

An eclipse gives us night in the afternoon.

He is still God.

Her world shifts beneath her.

Help me to steady her, encourage her.

Help her walk in faith and confidence in you on the shaky ground of life.

Help us be still and know.,

You are with us always.

Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah, Psalm 46:10-11, ESV~

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In the Final Days of Lent

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18, ESV

Spring blasts in a tempering wind. Warmth battles against icy crystals. 

Eventually, warmth prevails.

I savor the beauty of pure white snow. In late winter, it melts so quickly preventing it from piling up with sooty edges reaching up the sides of blackening banks.

How quickly the pure darkens with dirt. How quickly we need to reason with Him and pursue purity once more.

It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 22-23~

He asks us to reason with Him. To be honest about who we are. Who He already knows we are. But we have to own our dirt in the reckoning.

Our bloody red sins will be as white as wool–wool that never darkens–never attracts dirt–never soils. Someday we will be as pure as the snow appears as it falls.

Clean as a pure white day. And staying clean forever.

Easter will be here soon. And with it will come the new life of spring. Vibrant colors.

Cold and harsh wind–a thing of the past–until next year.

Let us reason with Him and stay clean.

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HEADlines: The Seed, the Root, and the Poisonous Fruit of the Overpopulation Myth

I walked through the local mall one day in 1979. I was large enough with my third child for her presence to be obvious. I wore my favorite maternity shirt, red and stating in bold letters: “Yes sir, that’s my baby!” with an arrow pointing down toward the child in utero.

I pushed a grocery cart carrying three other children, my two already born and my nephew, a few months older and larger than my son but with hair the color of my daughter’s. She was the tallest of the three.

It was conceivable for observers to assume the three children in the cart were all mine born in quick succession. The eyes of many observers told me they assumed exactly that.

And such an assumption was not a positive one.

I could almost hear them thinking: “She has too many children.”

Nineteen seventy-nine, you may recall, came eleven years after Paul (and Ann) Ehrlich published The Population Bomb assuring us that we would soon be starving because the earth would not be capable of feeding so many. Most ominously, according to the Ehrlichs, it was already too late.

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970’s and 1980’s (sic) hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

By 1979 people had so embraced apocalyptic premonitions that they perceived me as immoral for seeming to have produced four children in short order.

Thomas Robert Malthus planted the seed of the fear of overpopulation in 1798. He calculated that the population would grow more quickly than food supplies. The world didn’t check his math, and didn’t seem to notice the failure of his prediction that “there would be standing room only on this earth by the Year of Our Lord, 1890.” Perhaps more than any other philosophy, Malthus’s assertions that too many babies cause disaster became assumed “truth”.

Preventing overpopulation and certain starvation became a moral imperative.

It proved to be a convenient imperative for governments wanting to blame births rather than natural disasters or government decisions for food shortages.

China was one country whose government bought into the Ehrlichs’ theories, completely, officially, and expediently. In the aftermath of a deadly famine, the government looked to shift the blame from unwise policies that caused the deaths of as many as 45 million.

The One-Child Policy China adopted in 1980 required couples to get permission to give birth. With rare exception, the government would grant permission only once.

That’s when the law of unintended consequences kicked in.

Because of the cultural preference for sons, sex-selection abortion became pervasive, and a population imbalance ensued.

Zhuang Pinghui:

“The gender gap only started to soar in 1982, when . . . [China] started to strictly implement the birth control policy that allowed families to have only one child. The preference for boys over girls – boys could perform hard labour and were favoured in inheritance of land in rural areas – encouraged selective abortions that pushed the ratio of boys from 108.47 in 1982 to above 115 since 1994. It peaked nationally in 2004 with 121.2 boys born to every 100 girls, and some provinces even recorded ratios of 130. Demographers estimate that between 20 to 34 million more boys than girls were born in the past three decades.”

The population imbalance in China ignited the exploitation of North Korean women by the tens of thousands. “Women”, by the way, includes girls as young as 12 who endure forced marriages or conscription into the prostitution or porn industries.

It would take less than 40 years for China to realize its population policy mistake. By 2015, people would be not only allowed but encouraged to have two children, and now, three.

Today, countries like Finland, Estonia, Italy, Japan, and Australia are paying couples to have children. China is considering following suit. But despite the incentives, people are choosing to have fewer children.

Throughout history, children were a blessing although, aside from Judeo-Christian and Islamic cultures, parents often rejected baby girls and the handicapped.

In mostly rural America until the late nineteenth century, children were helpers who would eventually inherit the land and work it with their own children.

During industrialization, much of America’s population transitioned from the countryside to the city.

Instead of families inhabiting tracts of land where having many children was beneficial, they occupied overcrowded tenements.

Abortion shifted from being a rare device of desperate single women who’d been abandoned to a common tool for married women.

Society also responded with laws prohibiting abortion. That effort happened because feminists and physicians lobbied for laws to protect women and children from the exploitation of abortion. By 1900, every state in the US had outlawed abortion.

A century earlier, Malthus proposed a different solution:

“Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate [i.e., reject] specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and restrain those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. 2

Malthus saw people as an affliction on the world the way Hitler described some as “useless eaters.”

A root of the fear of overpopulation assumes people don’t produce; they only consume.

Terence P. Jeffrey:

“You don’t need to be an economist to see it is a myth that man is a net consumer of material wealth. History proves the opposite. The world is brimming with physical and intellectual improvements made by successive generations of human inhabitants. Its so-called carrying capacity has been determined not by the width of its continents, but by the wit of man.”

We need young people to come up with ideas of how to produce more food more efficiently, how to develop medicines, and how to solve environmental challenges. We need what has happened since the 1970s regarding the development of food production, medicines, and environmental solutions to continue into the next generations.

The poisonous fruit of the fear of overpopulation is the abortion movement, a monster with a voracious and never-satisfied appetite for death.

In the US many states have few or no regulations on the procedure, allowing it until birth. Several states passed new laws guaranteeing abortion access in case SCOTUS ruled as it did in Dobbs returning the right to regulate abortion to the states.

Legislators had planned to consider a bill in the Maryland House of Representatives that would completely dehumanize the unborn child leaving abortion survivors without protection from death by neglect and/or experimentation.

Under the original, vaguely written bill, not only abortion survivors, but also “peri-natal” children would have no protection. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines the peri-natal period as lasting through “the 28th day after birth” (emphasis mine).

In the wake of push-back for his proposal to legalize infanticide, the bill’s sponsor canceled a committee hearing so he could rewrite the proposal removing references to peri-natal children.

It’s reasonable to assume that all unborn children and abortion survivors will still be subject to a death sentence under whatever is next proposed.

Most of us don’t live on farms today. Most people limit the size of their families. Dangers reside in believing that having a certain number of children is good, and exceeding that number is bad. And that any means to prevent those children from competing for our resources is acceptable.

As medical care faces shortages, calls for assisted suicide increase.

The number of Canadians dying through that nation’s Medical Aid in Dying program has caused a shortage of doctors willing to participate in the process. The Netherlands recently enacted a law allowing euthanasia for children ages 1 to 12.

Euthanasia laws are expanding in the US.

Such laws ignore our advanced and modern ability to relieve suffering.

Fear of overpopulation and limited resources for the rest of us cause us to excuse the inexcusable as people reject the inconvenient child, the surprise, the one less than perfect, or the ill. And it maximizes the hopelessness of those we actually can help.

If we will.

When modernity made it possible to control our family size, we took that control, and we didn’t look back.

We now ride on a slippery slope of expanding control. Any society that thinks it’s in control soon becomes out of control.

It’s time to look back to where we came from. To look up to the God who creates and best controls. To ask forgiveness for our blatant disregard for human life. To show love in restoring a culture of life around us.

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American Satis

We are created in the image and likeness of God, and as such our nature refers us to Him. The battle begins, therefore, against human nature. Ideologies, naturalisms, materialisms, sexual revolutions… Everything is one assault after another on the very concept of the human, to deny the obvious: our transcendence, the immortality of our souls, our need for God, our masculine-female complementarity.” (Qtd. by Rod Dreher)

It was a moment etched in memory for me when I was in graduate school. We had class that day in a local restaurant–a change of pace from our regular classroom. The topic of discussion was an article we had read about colonialism by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak.”

Spivak is an Indian woman who took issue with the British prohibition of sati during Britain’s colonization of India. The British had outlawed the practice of a woman placing herself (or being placed) on her husband’s funeral pyre and dying in the flames.

Spivak argued that the colonialist power was depriving women of their right to self-determination. A classmate of mine agreed with Spivak representing all the voiced opinions except my own.

“But what if she wants to?” she asked me when I lamented Spivak’s view.

But what if she does not? What if her culture/his family/her family have expectations that she will die–as tradition demands? Cultural demands ooze from the word sati–the name for women who die in the flames. Satis means “a good woman.”

What horrified me most was the nonchalant attitude of the instructor and the other students. How easy it is to claim “choice” when the person with the most at stake may not actually have a choice and may not even have a voice.

My instructor and fellow students saw nothing wrong with a custom that would label a woman “good” for wanting to die. And what would the label be for a woman who might prefer not to die? Or for one who might enter the flames in less than a fully conscious state so the family would not face the shame of her resistance?

That encounter reminds me of another one I observed years earlier. I was a volunteer in training at a pregnancy resource center. A young woman came in with an older guy. She was a teen–perhaps fifteen or sixteen. He was clearly older–perhaps in his twenties.

He wanted to know her pregnancy test results–a test the center offered for free–a test whose results we would provide only to her–alone.

When the veteran volunteer told him that we would not give him the results; we would only speak with her alone, he made clear his choice in the matter. “I’ll just drive her to Pittsburgh then,” he said–the city a couple hours away, where they could obtain an abortion. During the entire encounter, she did not say one word.

They left not knowing what we knew. She was pregnant.

Despite all the shouting about female autonomy and choice, she had no voice in the matter. He had already made the decision for her. And he didn’t make it with her best interest–or that of the child–in mind.

Graduate students sitting in a restaurant speaking theoretically about satis were far removed from the reality of such a situation. At the pregnancy resource center, I witnessed someone co-opting a woman’s “right to choose.” There was no theoretical life of a child, no theoretical wound for a mother. Those were real.

Dreher: “There is an “anthropological attack” on the meaning of the human person. What C.S. Lewis called ‘the abolition of man’ is upon us.”

When choice trumps meaning, we lose freedom rather than gain it. And in the process, we lose ourselves.

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Our new website milicomathersreads.com is accepting reviews for middle reader books–especially those written by middle school students. Message me at readgoodbooks@milicomathersreads.com or in the comments below.

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Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Dust to Dust

For you are dust, And to dust you shall return,” Genesis 3:19b.

Lent starts today. For many, even some Christians, it’s just another day. But it begins a season I mark every year now.

As a child, I didn’t work very hard at Lent. I’d decide to give up potato chips until there were some potato chips around. Then I’d switch to something else, like chocolate. And then, to something else. I was like Huck Finn deciding what not to steal today.

Then for many years, I didn’t mark Lent at all.

I don’t remember when I started again. My discipline about food hadn’t advanced far from what it was when I was a child. I ate too many potato chips when they were there. And too much of anything made of sugar any chance I could get.

I’m not overweight–or not seriously so. I bounced around within 20 pounds or so since hitting 40. But Lent isn’t about weight control. It isn’t a diet plan. It’s a desire to work with God to get control of food. To keep food (or anything else) from having control over me.

To honor Him in what and how much I eat.

It’s about discipline and sacrifice–albeit small sacrifice. The discipline isn’t just one of physical appetite. There is a spiritual element in all we do.

And in sacrifice, we acknowledge that we aren’t in heaven yet. Today begins a place where sometimes we partake and sometimes we abstain. It’s a place where we do better when we don’t have it all. But it’s hard because what we want is all around us. All we want. All the time.

Everywhere we look. So we need discipline and with it comes sacrifice.

The discipline and sacrifice remind us.

Lent reminds us that others don’t have it all around them all the time.

Lent reminds us heaven is ahead of us. We are not there yet.

Lent reminds us that He carried a cross.

He sacrificed. For us.

In the meantime, we work. We struggle at times.

We can only imagine heaven. We yearn for it. We even confuse this world with it sometimes.

Only one dwelled there and then came here.

He did not have to imagine. He knew. Yet He came.

Remember.

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Our new website milicomathersreads.com is accepting reviews for middle reader books–especially those written by middle school students. Message me at readgoodbooks@milicomathersreads.com or in the comments below.

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Choice or Coercion? Removing Regulations in PA

It was an episode of a television show in the late ’70s or early ’80s. I don’t even remember the name of the series.

A married couple was battling to stay together. Or it was more like they were battling each other. Today we would say they had issues.

One issue–perhaps minor, perhaps not–was that he hated her smoking. He often challenged her to quit. She refused to give it up.

Until they got a report from the doctor. Yes, they were expecting. (No home pregnancy test back then.)

She immediately stopped smoking–just as he’d been begging her to do all along. She had a natural desire to protect the life within her.

But he said, repeatedly, “We can’t bring a baby into this.” Into the mess that was their marriage.

Finally, she succumbed to his unrelenting push for her to abort. And the video depiction of the procedure’s aftermath was subtle but raw.

She left the clinic and got into the passenger seat of the car at sunset. He sat in the driver’s seat as darkness surrounded them. Viewers saw the flick of a lighter. The flame sucked into the glow of a burning cigarette next to the passenger side window.

The smoldering cigarette signifying the snuffing out of their child’s life.

The discussion around abortion was relatively new then. The battle lines had not clearly formed. Truth was more of a possibility.

Such a television depiction would be unlikely to air today because the man pushed for the abortion. He pushed against the woman’s desire to protect new life. He gave her no room for “choice”.

In the late ’70s, the news media was still objective about the issue, at least in one corner of the world. In 1978, the Chicago Sun Times did an expose on abortion “providers”–not yet so named.

One of the abortion facilities the expose covered closed down as a result, and a physician lost his license to practice. A grand jury investigated.

In contrast, a few years ago in my own state of Pennsylvania, law enforcement uncovered Kermit Gosnell’s abortion house of horrors when they were investigating the illegal sale of prescription drugs.

The uncovering of abortion amid filth and broken medical equipment came about accidentally even after a woman died and Gosnell murdered a breathing, six-pound abortion survivor, among others. Yet more women carry physical reminders of their time in his “care”.

If not for the drug bust, would he still be killing and maiming?

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said in a later report that they had stopped inspecting abortion facilities “because of political reasons.”

After an alert from a former employee, the state interviewed Gosnell off- site–where they wouldn’t see the condition of his facility.

Pennsylvania also ignored an insurance company report of a post-Gosnell abortion patient who died from sepsis after he perforated her uterus.

Writing an op-ed for USA Today, Kirsten Powers said, “This [Gosnell’s story] should be front-page news.”

But it wasn’t on the front page because the media had completely ditched objectivity at some point after Chicago’s expose.

Today’s media isn’t paying attention–on purpose–all to supposedly protect “a woman’s right to choose.”

But the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons reports that nearly 75 percent of aborting women say they experienced at least some pressure to abort. More than half said they aborted to please others.

And nearly 30 percent aborted out of fear they would lose their partners. The statistics on what happens next for relationships so affected are tough to nail down, but one counselor says his experience shows that half of post-abortion relationships break up. He’s not alone in that way of thinking.

It’s distressing to think that the media got it right in some obscure program that aired decades ago and will never see the light of syndication.

It’s distressing to ponder all those babies gone. All those women pushed. All the lies told and truth withheld.

An unimaginable amount of damage done for someone’s choice–and not even the someone you might expect.

Today in Pennsylvania, our governor wants to roll back every regulation put in place because of Kermit Gosnell’s house of horror.

He wants to roll back protection, required inspections to ensure proper sanitation.

Kermit Gosnell sits in prison. Others are out there doing the same thing.

Unimaginable damage done.

For someone’s choice.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Writer of the Year Finalist

Serious Writer, Inc., named me a finalist for the Writer of the Year award for Wandering Swallow: A Young Girl’s Quest for Freedom, My as yet unpublished middle grade reader features Hana, a girl from North Korea, who along with her grandfather, is striving to escape the Hermit Kingdom’s oppression and famine of 1995 and survive her journey through China.

Hana doesn’t know where her parents have gone. She’s not sure when she’ll see her next meal. And she understands that police might arrest them at any moment and return them to North Korea where they’ll be executed or left to starve.

Their mysterious Chinese guide, Luke, carries a prominent scar he acquired during the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989. He has a price on his head and follows a man who died 2,000 years ago.

Hana’s stands on the Great Wall and in Tiananmen Square. She learns about the Terra Cotta Soldiers and the God whose unseen army protects his own.

Thank you, Serious Writer!

Our new website milicomathersreads.com is accepting reviews for middle reader books–especially those written by middle school students. Message me at readgoodbooks@milicomathersreads.com or in the comments below.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Rebuilding Culture: The Edict of Eden

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” Genesis 1: 28b, ESV.

“The scriptural justification for culture building starts with Genesis. At the dawn of creation, the earth is unformed, empty, dark, and undeveloped. Then in a series of steps, God establishes the basic creational distinctives: light and dark, ‘above the expanse’ and ‘below the expanse,’ sea and land, and so on. But then God changes the strategy.

“Until the sixth day, God has done the work of creation directly. But now he creates the first human beings and orders them to carry on where he leaves off: They are to reflect his image and have dominion.” How Now Shall We Live (Colson and Pearcey, 295).

A great battle persists between the forces of nature and the forces of God. The world in nature fights to go back to the void. We are commissioned to bring order to the chaos, to produce fruit from the ground, to continue the work God began in Eden.

Our job is to sustain and progress that work.

Deep in our souls, we yearn for order. Most adults mature beyond the messy bedrooms our mothers pushed us to put in order. Our world grows through family, to our own homes, to our own jobs, to new communities.

We yearn for order and peace within these communities, within ourselves.

God put people in a garden. Man built cities where gardening is often an afterthought. God will eventually take us to a new city.

A city of cultivation?

For now, we experience inflated costs, rising crime, increasing despair.

We are captives in a world leaning into chaos.

When Israel suffered the captivity of the Babylonians, God told the people to continue following His edict from Eden:

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease,” Jeremiah 29:5-6, ESV.

Christians all over the world have a sense of exile. Disorder and hostility abound.

God tells us to keep on. And more than that.

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile,” Jeremiah 29:7

 Work for order. Build a house (or fix yours up). Plant a garden–or begin planning one now. Marry. Raise children.

Teach others the skills to carry on this edict from Eden.

Seek peace and prosperity, not just for ourselves, but also for the city of chaos around us.

Cultivate.

While culture falls, let’s build.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Our new website milicomathersreads.com is accepting reviews for middle reader books–especially those written by middle school students. Message me at readgoodbooks@milicomathersreads.com or in the comments below.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Light in the Darkness

Through Advent, every day gets darker until we arrive at the cusp of Christmas. Winter solstice—December 21st– is the longest night of the year. Light increases each day following.

Christmas comes during the time of year pagans marked the winter solstice, the shortest day–but the end of encroaching darkness. It’s a feast to celebrate light overcoming darkness.

Christmas comes in the same month as Hanukkah–the Jewish festival of lights—commemorating victory over an effort to eradicate Jewish civilization. It’s a feast to memorialize one day’s worth of sanctified oil fueling a lamp for eight days. Eight days to celebrate light overcoming darkness.

We Christians celebrate this season with lights and music.

The radio plays “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The line “Next year all our troubles will be far away” reminds us of last year problems we’ve overcome and this coming year’s that we’ve yet to see.

I imagine people singing that song in 1944—the year Judy Garland first sang it in Meet Me in Saint Louis. The movie opened in November of that year.

Think of going to the theater to see a light musical—and to watch newsreels. People got their information from newspapers, radio, and movie newsreels—the precursor to television news.

What you would have seen in newsreels around then may have included a race riot among US military personnel at Guam. Bandleader Glenn Miller’s plane disappearing over the English Channel. A typhoon hitting Admiral Halsey’s fleet in the South Pacific, costing America almost 800 souls. And Axis forces surrounding US troops at Bastogne.

Much of the news was grim. But Allied forces were pushing back. General Anthony McAuliffe, the American commander at Bastogne, responded to a German demand for surrender with one word:

“Nuts.”

Patton’s Third Army prevailed, relieving McAuliffe and his troops.

In dark days, light emerged.

It’s hard to perceive the depth of darkness people felt when we know now how the story ended. Allied forces converged; McAuliffe’s rebuttal stands as a rebuke to defeat.

But it’s harder to see the light when we sit immersed in the darkness of our own days with little hint of light ahead.

Was it a dark and starless night before the angels came to the shepherds? They were shepherds who’d been waiting for the coming of Messiah. They didn’t expect a blast of light and music with angels singing news of His coming.

The shepherds outside Bethlehem that night were Levitical shepherds. Ironically, they were ritualistically unclean. They walked through feces. They touched dead things.

The angel told them to find a baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths. To shepherds raising sheep for Levitical sacrifice, swaddling cloths would be vastly significant. For a lamb to qualify for sacrifice it had to be perfect, without blemish.

The shepherds swaddled lambs intended for sacrifice–they wrapped them in cloths to protect them. The angel saying that they would find the infant wrapped in swaddling cloths indicated the baby would be a sacrifice. That baby was the Messiah.

Many would have expected a Jewish king to be born in Jerusalem–the city of the king–not Bethlehem. But Bethlehem was the City of David–a keeper of sheep.

God’s choice of a birthplace for his son wasn’t just a fulfillment of prophecy–which it was. It was also a symbol that Christ the King would be the fulfillment of sacrifice on our behalf.

Christ was the sinless Son of God, the perfect Lamb to be sacrificed for the shepherds’ sins–for our sins—for the things we walk through and touch that make us unclean.

God invited the unclean to see His Son. Those who reject Him today are among the invited.

People seek purpose and meaning today. But they cannot find it without Christ. He brings peace on earth–within our hearts. He is the perfect sacrifice for us.

Christmas proclaims the coming of a King who is the light who overcomes darkness.

“Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,’” John 8:12.

There is a Christmas light to light the world–Christ Himself.

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14.

Emmanuel—God with us. Let His light shine.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Our new website milicomathersreads.com is accepting reviews for middle reader books–especially those written by middle school students. Message me at readgoodbooks@milicomathersreads.com or in the comments below.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”