It happened.

My heart exploded. I knew it was coming. The cause: an overload of sweetness!

We welcomed our sweet baby girl into our family on earlier this week. She is as enchanting as she looks here.

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We brought her home yesterday and she held my hand in the car.

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Today she hung out with her cousin and he was a champ at holding her. It just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.
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Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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Tough Read

I have strong opinions on some really divisive issues. One in particular is abortion. I know that there are people I know, like and love who see this and other issues in a completely different light than I do.

I don’t believe morality is relative, and while I seek to understand complexity, I’ve said before that complexity does not necessitate compromise. I may find someone’s belief/statement/stance to be utterly absurd, and I am willing to say something is morally wrong, but I hope not to demean any person or be disrespectful. (I don’t claim to get this right all the time, I’m a sinner and I know I can get pithy and out of line.) I am not an expert on how to balance a strong yet loving approach, but I believe it’s possible.

I think you get what I’m trying to say. I suppose I’m saying all this because I want to share with you something that I find utterly offensive and disturbing, but I want you to know that it’s not because I just assume all people who support abortion are offensive or disturbing and have bad ideas or reasons for their beliefs.

That said, I just read an article titled “Bro-Choice: How #HB2 Hurts Texas Men Who Like Women” which was written by someone who I believe is a student at the University of Texas. In the article, this young man tries to incite young men to support “abortion rights” for women, and he tries to persuade his peers by sharing the “reasons why Texas guys should oppose #HB2.”

Here’s the crux of his final point:

“Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.”

This is perhaps the most offensive reasoning I have heard. I’m saddened that this is being espoused by a young man who, judging from his bio, has a desire to be a leader among his peers and into the future. It’s not so much his view of abortion as a form of birth control (which I of course don’t agree with), but his view of sex, which sounds utterly self-serving.

I pray, for everyone’s sake, that sex can be understood differently, not as an impulse or a “need” that we allow (use?) others to service, but as a reflection of self-sacrificing love in the context of marriage. That’s what it was intended for, to the glory of God.

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Heart Explosion

My nephew, Nate, just turned 5! If you’ve been around since we first met, you know he stole my heart from the beginning.

It started with this guy.

It started with this guy.

I spent several months living with Nate and his parents (my brother and sister-in-law) in Austin, shortly after he came home to us from Ethiopia. It was such a special time for me in so many ways. Not least of all, because I got to spend so much time with Nater. I remember thinking, “If I loved him any more, my heart would explode.” I think it was my first small glimpse of what it must feel like to be a parent.

my favorite houseguest!

my favorite houseguest!

then came baby Taylor!

then came baby Taylor!

Of course, since then, someone else has stolen my heart.

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big day. big guy.

And we have a baby girl who’s on her way to us even now.

surprise!

surprise!

Nate, his sister, Taylor, and his parents are all coming home from Africa for a visit pretty soon, and will be here to meet our baby girl. It’s going to be magical. And my heart will probably explode.

face shot!

face shot!

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Filed under Grace and the like, Uncategorized

Discerning the Good, Acceptable and Perfect

Every Thought Captive, a weekly devotional from North Texas Presbytery

I spent some time last week fleshing out a bit more on the topic of Complexity and Compromise. You can read it over at Every Thought Captive or below:

Mar 8 2013

On Complexity and Compromise: Discerning the good, acceptable, and perfect

by Marissa Cope

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

I attended an event in Austin last weekend where a notable Christian thinker presented his thoughts on how we, as Christians, ought to navigate the political rapids. He presented abstract and sophisticated systems for addressing tough issues of the day, and gave some examples. When there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions, the speaker was peppered with specific, issue-oriented questions on how we should confront topics like gay marriage, the budget crisis, and embryonic stem cell research.

We all wanted to know the rules of conduct, and how they applied to the issues we face. That is the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they are thinking about ethics: its rules and how they apply in the complex circumstances of life.

Christ enables us to face complexity without shrinking back. Complexity doesn’t necessitate compromise. It does necessitate love. “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:9–11).

So we start with love—abounding love. And from there, come knowledge and discernment. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

We continue by deferring everything to the will of God. The Rev. Dr. David C. Jones, Professor of Theology and Christian Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary, tells us that we may reasonably define Christian ethics as “the study of the way of life that conforms to the will of God as revealed in Christ and the holy scriptures.”

Jones goes on to say, “Ethics is not just about issues of right and wrong; it is also about the kind of persons we ought to be. We ought to be the kind of persons who, for one, think issues of right and wrong really matter, who love the right and hate the wrong, and who can be counted on to do the right thing under pressure.”

So what does pressure look like? And what are we to do with it?

I work in a pro-life organization connecting women in crisis pregnancies with life-affirming resource centers across the country. I recently had occasion to speak with a college friend who is a medical resident in the rural South. We were comparing notes from our professional lives and she shared her frustration at seeing women come in and give birth to babies for whom they had little intention or ability to nurture. She wondered what I thought about promoting life, all the time, no matter what, when we know that every day there are children born into lives characterized by poverty, neglect, addiction, and other abuses.

So there’s complexity—the facts of life slap us the face and threaten our direct understanding of rules and how they apply. How do we recognize complexity, and adapt to it, without compromising the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God?

Similarly, when the National Association of Evangelicals was seeking opportunities to reduce abortion in our culture, partnering with a teen-pregnancy prevention group seemed like a no-brainer. But there was a strong response to how the issue would be addressed. One possibility was promoting contraceptive use among unmarried Christians.

Leith Anderson, NAE President commented, “Evangelicals are conflicted about contraceptives outside of marriage because we never want to promote or condone sexual immorality. But we are told that contraceptives can reduce abortions and we want to stop abortions…The Church is understandably reluctant to recommend contraception for unmarried sexual partners, given that it cannot condone extramarital sex. However, it is even more tragic when unmarried individuals compound one sin by conceiving and then destroying the precious gift of life…Evangelicals must continue to stand against abortion on demand but also face the sexual behavior and abortions in our midst.” (Marvin Olasky, “Conflicted,” World Magazine, June 22, 2012.)

Looking back to Philippians 1:9, we start with love as the foundation for our knowledge and discernment. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, “If I bestow my goods to feed the poor and have not love, it profits me nothing.”

From there, in both cases—in all cases—we are to reason biblically.

We may soften our approach, not our stance. In the case of babies born into poverty, abuse or neglect, I can’t ignore that reality. But biblical reasoning doesn’t allow us to settle for the “lesser of two evils.” It leads us to the fact that there is much more for all of us to do to address the entire spectrum of root causes and the real pain surrounding many unplanned pregnancies. Not only do we continue the fight to end abortion; we must also get busy supporting efforts to better the lives of all families who face poverty and trials.

And when we hear that unmarried Christians are having premarital sex at nearly the same rate as their non-Christian peers, we don’t abandon the ideal of abstinence before marriage; we step back and think about how we can better communicate the lavish gift of God that sex inside Christian marriage is.

Like all of the Christian life, bold humility is not easy. But it is possible. Shining light into darkness is a bold move, but we do it in love. Tim Keller says, “Because we see the law and love of God fulfilled, we become both humble and bold because we know we are His by grace. This is unique. Without the Gospel, humility and boldness can only increase at each other’s expense.”

About the Author

Photograph of Marissa Cope

Marissa Cope

Director of Marketing, Research, and Communications for Heroic Media

Marissa manages media strategy and placement of Heroic Media messages to reach women facing unexpected pregnancies. She directs media buys for television, outdoor, and internet campaigns. Adopted at birth, Marissa has a passion for building a culture of life and offering help and hope to women facing unexpected pregnancies.

Before joining Heroic Media in 2010, Marissa worked for five years in media and public relations in the nonprofit sector with the Better Business Bureau and a bi-national organization specializing in U.S.-Mexico relations. Fluent in Spanish, Marissa also served as a missionary in Cusco, Peru, with Mission to the World. She is a graduate of Baylor University with a degree in political science.

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On Complexity and Compromise

via freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the language we use when we talk about polarizing issues. I have a pretty intense interest in discussing and acting on two big issues of our day.  I’m talking about the issues of abortion and immigration. I think that’s the most clear, unbiased way I can label two debates which, when discussed, often become clouded or compounded by smiting semantics.

This has come up for me in a few areas lately, but to start, I’ll share the following news about Planned Parenthood’s plan to reframe the abortion conversation:

From BuzzFeed:

“I’m neither pro-choice nor pro-life,” said one woman in a focus group commissioned by Planned Parenthood. “I’m pro-whatever-the-situation is.” Said another, “there should be three: pro-life, pro-choice and something in the middle that helps people understand circumstances […] It’s not just back or white, there’s grey.” A recent research push by the organization found that large numbers of Americans feel this way — uncomfortable with both the pro-life and pro-choice labels. And so Planned Parenthood’s newest messaging will be moving away from the language of choice.

Similarly, as the immigration debate is heating up again, we’re hearing a lot of buzz words there as well. Suffice it to say, I believe it matters how we talk about these things.

I’ll share some conclusions later, but here’s where I’m going: I do believe these are truly complex issues.

That said, I don’t believe that complexity demands compromise.

But it will demand sensitivity.

Compassion.

Effort and humility to understand.

Willingness to find and address root problems.

More compassion.

What do you think? Does it matter how we label issues or stances? How do we decide?

 

This isn’t the first time I’ve mixed my polarizing issues. Check out this post from 2009.

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Filed under Grace and the like, grapplings, Uncategorized

Best News Ever!

BREAKING NEWS: Our partners at Bethany Christian Services are on their way to meet with a birthmom who’s 22 weeks along and had been planning on getting an abortion in NYC today. Instead, she saw the Heroic Media ad on TV and called to make an adoption plan. Praise God!

I was adopted at birth (my story is here) and got to spend my 30th birthday at the shoot for this fabulous, research-based television commercial offering women the hope of adoption. Now, God is using this commercial to connect women with adoption resources nationwide!

Friends, this happens daily! We are able to connect women with resources for material and financial aid, parenting courses, prenatal care, adoption resources, medical care and more through the power of media. We are sharing the hope of life with women who may feel hopeless in the face of an unexpected pregnancy. Pray with us and consider supporting these efforts at www.heroicmedia.org/donate

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Adoption Gave Me Life

Here’s a little story about how adoption has given me life – both physical and spiritual. I’m thankful for the gift of adoption and the opportunity to promote adoption and other alternatives to abortion through my work at Heroic Media.

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Filed under adoption