Tuesday, August 25, 2015

z z z z z z z

First, this post is all about Z. If you hadn't guessed.

Second, this post is all about hitting the "snooze" button. Because basically, that's exactly what has happened with Z's case, as I found out at today's social worker visit.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you probably saw that my mom recently had to say good-bye to Z . . . as she wasn't sure she would get to see him again before he had to return home. This was emotional and hard for all of us -- except Z. He's still pretty clueless, cute little baby.

Mom and Z saying good-bye

Well, today, I was happy to tell my mom there's a chance she might get to see him again.

Z's case has sort of been put on a pause.

Obviously, the clock is still moving. But instead of having a big "green" light toward him returning home at the end of summer, early fall . . . it now looks like a "yellow" light. Proceed with caution. It looks like he'll be with us through the fall, and maybe longer. (Nothing is final until it's final -- so even this is just a guesstimate. As my friend Bethany says, foster care teaches you to take it one day at a time.)

While I'm not a fan of delaying permanency, as we are QUITE attached and keep getting more attached as the days go on . . . I do agree with caution and being realistic. If he is going to return home, I want it to be stable and safe. And I'd rather us all go forward with eyes open, than to get a call after he returns home that someone got hurt or worse.

Maddy loving on her brother

After last week, I was dreading seeing our social workers. I assumed that I would actually be getting a date today. Or at least a certain month that he would return home. And I also was embarrassed about the fall at the allergist's office and the possible CPS investigation.

Apparently, our social worker and guardian ad litem didn't even know that CPS was considering investigating me. They knew about the ER visit, and that I had to self-report -- but they hadn't heard that CPS had called me back and was considering a full investigation.

They totally didn't understand why I told them it all stressed me out . . . until I explained that a similar situation had happened to a friend, and her baby did get taken away. (Though I want you to know that it was a ridiculous call, and they were found clear of any wrongdoing.) Our social worker was totally annoyed that CPS considered investigating, and said that he had just lost some respect for his own department. He said he has a full year of health & safety reports on me that he would have been happy to submit proving that I'm a capable and safe parent. He also told me he was prone to accidents as a child, and knows that "this stuff happens."

It was honestly so reassuring.

We have court next week for Z's case. It's not a permanency hearing, but just a review. As usual, I'll have to fill out a court report. Z has a lot of medical testing to do in the next few months, so I know there is a lot to update the court on.

Goofy boy wants to do the splits

Between his appointments, Maddy's appointments and tummy issues, and both girls starting school this fall -- there certainly is a lot going on around here.

As almost every person in the grocery store comments as I pass by with my entourage, "it looks like I have my hands full."

And I do. But in spite of all the challenges of having kids in the way I have them -- I'm really grateful to have them each here with me. They are a handful of blessing.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The day I was reported to CPS

Tonight I want to write about the hard things in foster care. And not the big hard things. The not-so-big ones. Or maybe, the not-so-big, but could turn really-really-big, but you don't know for sure so it's crazy stressful.

Yeah, that one.

Z fell Wednesday afternoon at the allergists' office. 

He doesn't like doctor's appointments, and we seem to have a lot of them. He is tired of being held or strapped in a stroller or car seat. He wants to climb and jump and roll and grab everything and get into every drawer and cupboard.

Books, toys? Totally not interested.

So yesterday, by the time our doctor was ready to start the exam and questions, Z was already over it. He was squirming to try to get out of my arms. I didn't want him going all over the floor, trying to open cupboards and climb up the table, so I sat him in the chair, with me right behind him, hands inches away in case he tried to fall.

Well, as you know, trying to answer a lot of questions from the doctor and keeping your 1-year-old calm and quiet can be a challenge. You don't really feel present with either person. Just half there for both of them. In the end, the doctor asked a question, I looked up to answer, and Z slipped through my outstretched hands onto the floor.

Well, mostly onto the floor. I caught his legs before his body hit the ground. But his head did hit.

Now most of you moms will say, this stuff happens. And you are right. It does.

But when you are a foster parent, this stuff is huge. It's the not-so-big-of-a-deal to you that could potentially be a mega-huge-deal to foster parents.

Z acted ok the rest of the visit. I knew I would have to fill out an incident report, but I didn't expect what happened later

The next day, while bathing Z, I saw this on his ear.

At first, I thought it had happened at his visit. But since there were no notes on the report saying there was an accident, I decided that it probably happened when he hit his head the day before.

I called our caseworker, filled out the form, and was instructed to go to the ER if we found a bump.

You guessed it ... We found a bump, and off to the ER we went.

The Dr. was not concerned at all by his bump and bruise. Thankfully she did not call CPS to report is.

But we still got reported.

By me. 

 I had to according to Washington State law. 

So here I am, already feeling like a crappy parent, beating myself up in guilt (like most moms do), and now I need to tell CPS of all people that yes, I screwed up this parenting gig and an accident happened. And it was my fault.

Again, you might be thinking, accidents happen. Surely they know this, and it's not a big deal right?

Except it can be a very big deal. A friend of ours had her own foster son taken away, without any chance of a good-bye, had her own children pulled from school, and questioned, and had their licensed pulled for a time while the investigation was complete for -- of all things -- a fall at the doctor's office.

This was the not the first report CPS has gotten on us.

If you all remember, Leyla had to go the ER three times for a fall, and once had to have a CT scan done. CPS was reported each of those times. 

And each time, we were told it was a formality and never heard anything about it again.

But today was different.

Today I got a call from CPS. They were going to get more info on this accident, call the doctor's who were involved (the allergist and the ER doctor) and also needed me to send his discharge paperwork from the hospital.

They would either just keep the referral on our license, or they would do a complete investigation.

We would know by the end of today.

Well, you can probably imagine my ball of nerves today.

There was a possibility that they could take Z from our home today. There was a possibility that I would not get the good-bye I planned for, that my family and friends would not get to say good-bye that they hoped for. 

They could take my other two children in for questioning. They could get very personal, very quickly, and we wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

All because of that one stupid mistake I made.

You can be an awesome parent 99% of the time, but man, that 1% is killer. That one time you don't pay enough attention. That one time you are distracted. That one time your in-control parenting falls apart. 

It just takes once.

And so today I rushed around, filling out more paperwork, trying to get the image of CPS taking Z away out of my head. Trying to keep tears at bay, and not let me stress affect my other two kids.

And then finally we got the call.

They will NOT be investigating. 

The report will be on our license, my mistake forever on record. But at least right now, we have Z for another day, and things will move along as planned.

Some of you guys tell me you couldn't do foster care. And as much as I advocate for you to be foster parents, on the one hand, I totally get it.

I hate being front and center when it comes to CPS. 

I have nothing to hide. But you know, no one wants to go through that. No one.

As you guys continue to pray for us, pray that we can stay clear of accidents throughout the rest of Z's stay.

Just this morning, I prayed that God would help me walk by faith and not fear.

And then CPS called. And I was afraid.

I just might have already failed my prayer today. But as we continue down this road, I hope and pray God can continue to help me trust in him when the scary stuff comes.

That I can trust he's already in control. Even as we learn to let go along the way.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Big feelings

Big feelings

Did you know that I used to think those two words, when put together, meant that there was something wrong with me?

A Facebook friend who is so positive all the time -- praying for everyone and being a light -- felt God calling her to admit her secret: her health was majorly messed up, and she was in excruciating pain all day long.

For the last few days, I have wondered why she wasn't up front about her pain. Certainly, she didn't have to share. That was all her rightful call to make. 

But why are we so scared to admit we are going through big things that give us big feelings?

If you had told me "I can give you a magic wand, and you can change one thing about yourself," I likely would think that you were nuts ... But then seriously consider changing the extent to which I feel my feelings.

When I think of my emotions, I think of a roller coaster. Things just FEEL bigger. The highs are high and the lows are low. I am the opposite of what you might call an even-keeled person. 

And this bothers me.

When I think of roller-coaster emotions, I think of someone who is unstable. Someone you don't want to do business with. Someone who's a little multi-personality. Or Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-esque. 

When I think of even-keeled emotions, I think of slow and steady. You know exactly what you're getting, every time. Attractive in business, in life and in relationship. This is the person you want to be around. This is the person you want to be.

Except the problem with this is that some of the circumstances I am going through are naturally not meant for even-keeled feelings. In fact, if you felt even-keeled about them, you might just not have a heart. (Or a heartbeat.)

My grandpa is not doing well. He's in his mid-nineties, and all the sudden couldn't walk. (He is normally very active, takes care of himself, and even maintains a huge vegetable garden.) And this week, he was admitted to the hospital, and now he's home requiring 24-hour care.

My grandmas from both sides died quickly, with no warning really. Just died. And I got those calls that make no sense at the time that the person you love more than anything is now gone.

And now that my grandpa is not well, every time I see my mom or dad call, my heart hits the floor and I just wait for the news that he too is gone.

Ryan and I have been searching plane tickets for me to go visit my grandpa. But just today I found out he doesn't want any company.

I want to see my grandpa before he dies. And we were working on a plan to get me there. But now I don't know if I'll ever see him alive again, and it's tearing me up. 

These are big feelings.

As I snuggled Maddy in bed tonight, all the big feelings I had came dripping from my eyes. Maddy hugged me, and told me "everything will be ok mama." She even went to get me a tissue.

And I held her as I cried, and yet again thought of how close I came to not knowing her. And of course I thought of all the other babies that didn't make it.

"Hey Maddy," I said. "thanks for making it out of my belly ok. The other babies didn't make it ... But you did. And mom is glad you made it."

More big feelings y'all. 

And this also happened today:

While things are still moving slowly, they are most decidedly moving in the direction of reunification. The other children in care have stepped up the plan. Things are moving.

And I find that during the day, I hug baby Z so tight and kiss him so much because I just want to hold on forever.

But I can't. 

Roller-coaster big feelings.

In spite of the fact that normal people, even even-keeled people, might have similar emotions, I fight the lie that I need to pretend to have it all put together.

Because I don't want people to look at me and think, "oh my, there goes that girl with big feelings again. Stay clear of her ... She'll emote all over the place."

Instead I want you guys to see me as I am -- well, mostly am -- a chill girl that loves to meet new people, learn about what makes them tick. I love coffee and connection, and it's even better when they are together. Some of my favorite people are my parents, siblings and in-laws. I love being with our families.

I'm highly motivated, and have a dream burning in my gut to make a difference. I have such a strong desire to change the world. I feel a connection to people who mourn, and want to support them in loss. 

I think too heavy sometimes, but I'm constantly thinking, challenging my beliefs of the world and my role in it.

One of my favorite things to do is launch a new person in my business, and help them get started on their dreams. I love to sing, be silly with my kids, have dance parties in the kitchen and play tickle monster on the floor.

When I love, I love hard and deep. When I am sad, it cuts to the core. When I am happy, life feels carefree and full of joy. And when one of my children make me angry, I have to be super careful not to lose my temper. (And sometimes J still do.)

I guess my fear is that when I share my big feelings with you, you think that is all I'm made of. That the other parts to me, or even the happy big feelings, get lost in translation. 

So that's why I sometimes hide my big feelings. Why do you hide yours?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

To Sam & Nia: On miscarrying and grieving in the public eye from someone who knows

Photo Credit: Sam & Nia/YouTube

Dear Nia and Sam,

When your first video went viral, I couldn't watch it. I didn't want to watch it. I thought it was sweet, and maybe interesting (how did he get your pee??), but something held me back.

You see, I've had 4 miscarriages. (Well, one was ectopic. But you know, an early loss). So pregnancy announcements aren't really my thing.

It wasn't until I saw your miscarriage announcement that I watched your pregnancy announcement video.

I had to know your joy before I could truly feel your pain.

I could relate to your joy. I could tell how it took all of two seconds after seeing the positive test before you were already envisioning not just a baby in your arms, but a baby right there at the breakfast table, enjoying mashed bananas and rice cereal. How in mere moments, your youngest, your "baby", suddenly became big brother.

The world watched as your entire life and mindset shifted. You were thinking of how to announce, and tell family and friends. How big your belly will get, and what kind of vlogs you'll do to track your pregnancy. You probably found out your due date right away, and envisioned that season with a newborn in it. Perhaps you thought about the nursery, and who you were going to move where to make it all work. Maybe you started setting up appointments, and skip your morning coffee, and find your mind wandering a million times to the joyful blessing growing inside you. Suddenly, your family of 4 became a growing family of 5.

And in just one split second, you knew life would never be the same again.

And your pain? I can relate. I know that empty feeling you spoke of. After the clots and tissue come out, you just feel better. And you hate your body for feeling better. Feeling your body cramp, watching the blood pour out  -- it is helpless and gut-wrenching. You can never really understand the pain of a miscarriage until you've been through one.

The loss of this baby will be something that is with you forever. There are no easy band-aid fixes for the loss of a child at any age or gestation.

As I have been watching the news of your loss spread (maybe not with the same intensity as your pregnancy announcement), I have also been watching the comments.

I kind of hope you aren't seeing them.

In case you are, I want to share with you just a little bit of my heart -- from someone who's been there. From someone whose blog has gone viral. Who has both been applauded and scorned for sharing the intimate details of early pregnancy and loss.

First -- and you already know this I'm sure -- there will be haters. But only for a time.

I wish there were no haters to bereaved families -- but even in a miscarriage that is relatively silent, there are still people who say the wrong things. Since your loss was so public, there will be more haters. There will be more people who don't hate but don't care. And more people who care and still say all the wrong things anyway. In this social media culture, too many would rather be right than be supportive.

So the haters are there -- but they will only be there for just a little bit. Their words sting, they hurt, but like mosquitoes, their effect will not last. They will rise up, accuse you of false hope, naivety or even worse, but then they will go away. Because they don't care enough to stick around. They only care enough to "prove" that they were right.

Like you would a pesky mosquito, wave that hater good-bye.

If the haters don't stay long, who will?

Supporters. People who love you, people who will wrap their arms around you, people who will pray for you more than you ever even knew. These are the people holding tight, checking your feed for any updates, praying without stopping and crying over your baby.

These people are gold.

Before my post went viral, I received some really heavy criticism of my view point. I was so heavily scorned, I contemplated taking the post down -- just so I didn't have to read people say things like "You have offended me AND offended all of my babies in heaven."

But I didn't take it down. And God used it. I mean, he used it bigger and better than I ever could have imagined.

And out of that, people I never would have met have come forward. They remember my baby's due dates. They have created art work for me. They have prayed and prayed and prayed for our family. They have celebrated with each child who has come into our home, and they have cried for each baby that goes to heaven too soon.

Your support is here. We are waiting to love on you. As much as you can, ignore the hurtful remarks. And cling to the blessing of support.

Your baby didn't live long. But through you, her life may reach more for Him than you could ever imagine.

After my post went viral -- affirming life and the value of miscarried babies -- I wrote a letter to the first baby I lost. I named her Olivia. I started my blog as a way to heal -- but also as a way to help someone else heal through their loss. I wondered if I could just reach one other person.

She has reached over a million people.

7 weeks of life. And a million people reached.

I know you wanted your baby here. And let's be real -- for a long time, it won't matter how many people your baby's life will change. You will want her here, with your other two kids. You would give anything to still have her in your belly. To be counting down till the due date. To pack your hospital bag and have baby showers. To watch her crawl for the first time. To feed her her first foods. To send her off to kindergarten. To watch her graduate. To walk her down the aisle. To be in the room as she gives birth to her own baby.

I get it. You would give it all to have that back.

The pain of your loss cannot be measured. But it will make a difference, I promise. A love like yours can't not make a difference. Your baby's life was not in vain. God will use it, He will use you, and someone's life will be forever changed because your baby lived for little time she was here.

Grieving by yourself can be hard. Grieving in the public eye can be harder in some ways. Don't let others complicate your grief by telling you how you should feel, what you should do, and when you should move forward.

I can't tell you how long you will be in deep grief. Everyone grieves differently. I can't tell you when you will wake up, and your first thought will not be your baby. I can't tell you when you will laugh again lightheartedly. I can't tell you when other people's pregnancy announcements will stop hurting. Or when you won't have triggers all day long remind you of who you are missing.

I can't tell you when your grief will lighten. But it will. Slowly.

You might feel guilty to think of not grieving as much as you are now. I was there too. I didn't WANT life to keep going, the world to keep spinning, for people to flit to and fro while my child was gone. I didn't want to be OK.

You don't have to hurry to get through it. You take whatever time you need. Don't let anyone rush you to feel better. They just want to see you happy again. They just care, and it hurts to see you hurt.

You can't rush grief. It demands it's own timeline, and no one can tell you what that is.

Just know that there is life here on the other side of it. You'll make it through. And in the meantime, grieve however is right for you. 

You are doing a good thing. Right now, our culture does it's very best to minimize the humanness of an unborn child. The sanctity of a new life. The value in a pregnancy ... Not in the dreams we have for our kids, but in the actual bodies and souls of our babies. 

You sharing your grief is one big testimony that loss matters. That each baby matters. That they are worthy to be mourned. 

When you celebrated your baby, the world was right there ready to celebrate with you. And now that you are mourning, they want to say things like "it was just early," or "you didn't ever see your baby," or "you can just try again."

For some reason, people struggle to admit that an early loss really is the loss of a child ... Even as they will totally celebrate that a positive pregnancy test means a baby is on its way.

As you grieve, other hurting women will feel not so alone. You will help them see that their feelings are normal as you share your own feelings. They will watch you walk through miscarriage, the bad, the ugly, and yes some of the good, and realize that if you could make it through, they could too.

In these days that seem impossibly hard ... Know that there's a whole community of grieving moms and dads here ready to lift you up in support and prayer,


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

my friend's baby died yesterday.... Please pray

My friend Kristina reached out to me several months ago. I had posted a video on Facebook about a couple as the endured the death of their Trisomy 13 baby. She messaged me to let me know her baby was recently diagnosed with Trisomy 13 in utero, and would not be expected to live.

Through the last few months, we've kept in touch,  shared tears and and prayed together.

Today was the day's she was scheduled to be induced ... But her baby boy made his entrance into the workd yesterday. He lived a few minutes before leaving for Jesus' arms.

Many of you are bereaved moms. You know this pain ... Even in ways I don't.

Please be lifting up my friend, her husband, and their two children up to God as the endure the loss and grief.

Here is a bit about her baby Ezekiel:

"But for now I want to tell you a little bit about our boy, that "did not go gentle into that good night." He held on so strong and for so long. He was a fighter. He grew and survived with a broken body for a miraculous 36 weeks inside my womb, with almost no amniotic fluid, or space to move or grow. He managed to hold on longer still, through the stress of labor. And against all odds, and a body not made for taking a breath, he lived long enough for us to meet him and marvel at his miracle, love on him, and give our goodbye. I am so very proud of him for holding on and giving us that gift. 

Ezekiel was a little over 2 1/2 lbs. He had a head full of dark hair, the sweetest lips, and the tiniest, perfect little fingernails and toenails. Adoration and Asa were able to meet him after he had passed. We had to cover some of Ezekiel's face, but they saw him and touched Ezekiel's little feet and toes and told him they loved him. I'm so thankful for those moments. "

If you would like to know more of her story, here is her Caring Bridge site. 

Thanks for lifting up Kristina and her family with me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On your should-have-been birthday

Hey there baby Olivia.

You're not so baby anymore, you know that?

You were due to arrive safely in my arms three years ago today. Well, at least that was the plan. You know how plans go. And you definitely know how this plan went.

Looking back, I can't believe how much I've changed in the last 3 years. I look older.  I hope I don't look QUITE the 32 I am -- but I can see how much grief has aged me. It's kinda ridiculous actually.

You know the "hope deferred makes the heart sick" thing? Well, apparently it causes wrinkles too.

I'm stronger now. And weaker. Sometimes I think I break more easily now. Other times, I think I had no idea what I was actually capable of handling. (With God of course. Never on my own.)

In those 3 years, I've learned that everyone has a story. I used to think "us" and "them." Those who have experienced pregnancy loss -- and those who haven't. While all pain is pain, some pain has a different flavor. I've learned not to expect other people to understand who haven't walked in my shoes. Afterall, I know nothing of the pain of an affair, or infidelity, or the loss of child you got to hold. These are things I can't understand -- but even if I don't get the right flavor of pain . . . pain is still pain. And there are a lot of us here on earth going through it.

If 3 years ago you would have told me that I would go on to lose 3 more babies in early pregnancy, I would have probably lost so much more of my will to keep going. Losing you was enough. It has always been enough. If you had told me that I would likely never go on to have a successful pregnancy . . . If someone had said, "By the way, welcome to infertility . . ." I might have just given up hope.

It's a good thing we don't always get a heads up on the challenges coming our way.

You were the last baby I truly had hope for. The last due date where I actually expected that someone was going to be due. You were the last time I jumped into love the moment that second line appeared.

3 years ago today, I should have been either getting ready to give birth or have a new baby in my arms. Today, I should be celebrating a birthday, or planning a party for you. (Ok, let's be real. My parties take very little planning. You would have decorated cupcakes and we would have had family over for cake, coffee & ice cream. And then you would have gotten spoiled by all the people loving on you with gifts.)

You and me -- we have a lot of shoulds. Should haves, should have dones. should have beens . . .

But here on earth, the shoulds mean nothing. Well, they mean something to us. But in how life plays out, they mean nothing. They are empty, they are illusions, they are dreams never realized.

Our story is something I wouldn't have chosen. Not in a million years. In my story, I would have chosen you to be with me always. (Or at least until college, and then I would have settled for weekends. And summers. Until you got married, or moved out. But then you really would have needed to visit. Especially if you were bringing grandchildren with you!)

In spite of all the empty "should haves" between you and me -- God has still done a lot. He brought us your sister and your brother.  And sometimes I wonder, dear girl, if He has used your short 7 weeks you were with us to impact more people through our story than you could have in your own lifetime.

Heaven only knows.

It's time for me to get to bed. I think you would have probably given your mama a lot more rest than Z and Leyla do -- but they always wake up at 6 am, no matter how late they go to bed.

One last thing before I go -- Remember how I used to sing on worship team before you left us? And then I stopped because all I could do is cry during worship. And crying on stage doesn't really HELP anyone else worship. Well, today, I followed up on a calling I've felt for over a year now. I joined the worship team again. On the anniversary of the due date that never was -- I've restarted a passion of mine. Even as we're a spiritual world apart, we're praising our Father together. I love that this happened on your should-have-been-birthday.

Happy (almost) birthday my love.

Wish I could squeeze you tight.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Why keeping our own kids safe is simply not enough

Recently, I saw a news trend on my Facebook account. "Suicide bomber kills 16 people in Nigeria."

For whatever reason, I clicked on it. And it only took seconds for me to be absolutely appalled. You see, the headline just made it sound like a "typical" suicide bomber. I assumed a man, maybe in his thirties or forties, from a radical religious or political group. 

Holy cow, people, this was NOT who that was.

"A 10-year old girl killed 16 people in a suicide bombing in the northeastern Nigeria city of Damaturu on Sunday. The girl detonated her explosives next to a crowded market as shoppers were being screened by security services. According to the BBC, around 50 people were injured."

She was a 10-year-old little girl. 


My daughter is 6, but it is close enough to 10 to know that this is a child who deserved to be playing, skipping, hopping, riding bikes and going to school. 

NOT being strapped down with explosives, with so much fear instilled in her, that she pulled the trigger.

I need you to see something for me. So often, we hear statistics, and ages, and we just let the fog of their anonymity cloud our hearts to protect us.

Can we all just let the fog lift for a moment?

This is my daughter, Maddy. She is 6 and a half, and she is precious, and she deserves a life.

Can you please picture in your mind my daughter's face, picture her body strapped down with explosives? Can you imagine her terror?

Can you SEE with me that this 10-year-old is no less deserving of care, and protection, and LIFE than my own daughter is? 

Can you please just imagine the last moment's of this girl's life with me? Can you feel her racing heart, and her trembling, fumbling hands? Can you smell the aromas of food wafting around her in the market place? The people shuffling by, boys and girls close to her age. Men and women. Who will it be, she wonders? Who will die, and who will make it?

Or perhaps she doesn't even know. Does she understand what will happen when she pulls the trigger?

Was she kidnapped? Or had she grown up in this home, the one that filled her with a fear big enough she couldn't run to authorities, couldn't ask a grown-up for help, couldn't say "no."

Who was she? And truth be told, do we even care?

Also this week, a lion named Cecil was killed in Africa.

 And the world went up in arms. 

Admittedly, I didn't care about the lion. 

Maybe I would have cared more if days before I hadn't read about a no-named 10-year-old African girl who had been murdered, and was forced to kill others in her murder, and was labeled as a suicide bomber. As though 10-year-old girls CHOOSE to be suicide bombers.

There was no war cry for justice. No demands for the name or face of the murderer. 

Her life slipped from this world with a bang, and none of us paused long enough to notice.

Not a single person on my feed posted about the girl.

Not even me.

Last weekend, I watched a movie that changed me. It was The Woman in Gold.

It was a WWII movie ... But unlike many Holocaust movies, this showed nothing of death camps, and families stripped naked, shivering and starving.

The terror in this movie actually sits far too close to home.

I think when we see humans stripped of their dignity to such an extent as the Nazis did the Jews, and is often portrayed in movies (shaving heads, separating families, taking away clothes, starving of food, and killing at random), it is so far outside our context of the world today, that we almost just stand back emotionally and watch.

We detach. We can't relate.

It feels like that happened a million years ago.

But to watch The Woman in Gold is to see the Holocaust in a whole new light. To see the Holocaust as if it were happening to us, today. To our friends, our neighbors, our doctor, our lawyer.

I know that the Jews were targeted in the Holocaust. But until watching this movie, it never occurred to me to think about all the other non-Jews that neither contributed to the genocide, nor did they impede it.


Maybe it was through propaganda, or political pressure, or the fear that something would happen to them and their own children.

But no matter what the excuse, their inaction really came down to "as long as it's not happening to me and my family, I'm going to turn a blind eye." 

There was one scene ... Just a blip really ... Where a well-off father, mother and daughter were taken from their home. The mom was sobbing, and you just knew what was going to happen to this family.

That could have been us, people. It could have been us, having police come into our homes, take our children from us, and ultimately murder us.  But by the grace of God, we were born decades later, or in a different part of the world.

Thank God this is not my reality. But at the end of the movie, I felt just like one of the non-Jews, burying my head in the sand. I know atrocities are around, and yet I am so insistent on keeping my own little world, my own little people safe, my own mental state happy and content that I willingly turn a blind eye. 

Because as long as my people are safe, I shouldn't let it affect me too much, right? 

Also this week, an 8-year-old girl named Maddy was sexually assaulted, raped and murdered by a 15-year-old boy. She was lured into his family apartment while she was riding along on her scooter. 

I have cried many tears this week for this girl I'll never know. 

And if there hasn't already been enough horrific violence just this week, videos have come out showing the gruesome remains of aborted babies. I have watched a video of a baby's severed hand laying on a Petri dish. And I want to say it was shocking, except it wasn't.

Deep down, I want to be shocked, I want to be angrier at this loss of life, I want to be nauseous inside that this is happening.

Except I feel somewhat numb.  As if it has already happened in my heart.

It is the thing that has happened to the Nazis and the non-Jewish people. The same thing that has happened to the men who strapped a 10-year-old child with explosives, forever labeling her a suicide bomber. The same thing that happened the 15-year-old boy that raped and murdered Maddy. The same thing that I see so much all around me, I've become numb to it.

The dehumanization of humans.

The belief that a person is nothing but an object, or a tool, for political propaganda. That women and men (and now girls and boys) have no rights to their own bodies ... But they are merely objects to satisfy others. 

The belief that humans are not really humans and deserving of all rights unless they are old enough, big enough, strong enough, the right color, the right gender, the right race, with the right abilities, and the right financial means in the right part of the world and on the right side of the  womb. (And we must know them, or have some sort of connection to them, or at least be able to relate to them, right?)

Friends, the last thing in the world that I want to do is bury my head in the sand when 10-year-old girls are being murdered as political trump cards and 15-year-olds boys believe rape and murder of a child is OK. I don't want to stand by numb. I don't want to be so afraid of afraid of offending people when I say killing humans inside the womb is wrong.

I don't want to look back on my life and say, "Oh my goodness. There was a holocaust happening. And I turned my eyes and refused to look."

I'm not relishing in the defunding of Planned Parenthood movement. But I just can't sit back and watch the dehumanization of people anymore. I can't watch as we teach our kids that life isn't life. That life is a choice. That someone else's life depends on your wants or needs.

And maybe it starts with Planned Parenthood, but it also has to be more.

I know that was the second prayer on my lips this week, after the prayer for God to open my eyes to the suffering I was ignoring. And now that I see it, I'm crying out and asking how I could possibly do anything to save these lives and affirm their humanity. All of humanity. Not just the pre-born ones, or the white ones, or the one that reside on my continent. But all of humanity.

It has to be the movies we choose not to watch. Are we filling our minds with images of women who are objectified as sex objects? Do we watch women being tortured or murdered for the sake of entertainment? Are we allowing ourselves to become numb to violence, abuse and death so that when it happens in the news or in real life, we can no longer feel the horror of it?

Do we have boundaries in our homes around the internet? Are we talking with our kids about porn, and it's effects? Are we discussing the ideas of consent?

When we see an injustice, are we turning our heads? Do we ignore current events because it is just too hard for us to read? What about for the people living it?

Are we making our homes available for children in need? Are we willing to give to moms who need support, or do we hoard what we are given?

We can't simply take one thing away and expect our society to be so much better.  You and me. We have to step up. We have to stop being the non-Jews in the midst of a Holocaust, burying our heads and just trying to keep our own families SAFE.

I don't know all the answers. I'm certainly not here to give any easy ones.

I can't even tell you where this all will lead me.

But I know that if I have any integrity left in my bones, it's going to lead to action.

I will not let my children say of me,