Of lost doors


I dreamed I saw her again

Her sweet little grin

Her sister hung back and wouldn’t touch me

But she came to my arms

And snuggled

And smiled

I held her

And when I woke there was a pit of darkness in my heart

That will not go away, still

And no matter what I am doing

There is crying in my heart

That does not show.

I am dying


I hate writing of loss

Because the tamest and wildest descriptions

Are equally true and equally ridiculous


There is a house near mine

Stately and serene

It had a pale blue chipped door

Like the blush of morning

And the soft, soft skin of an old woman’s hand

And the tender ageless hope of a robin’s egg.

I have loved it for years

Looked and longed and loved

The owners are renovating the house to sell

And one day they got out their paints

Their pretty, tasteful paints and made the door


Red. It is not chipped anymore, and it needed to be

Chipped and crackling and the palest blue


Why did I not think to photograph it while I could?

An old door on an old house is an unspeakably beautiful thing and

It is gone clean out of the world


On their birthday I obsess, full of regret and fear

Because we loved them, we loved them

But we could not keep them

We said we could not adopt them

Because of what it was doing to our family

Because the needs

Never ended

And we were never enough

And all six children deserved more of us

The twins deserved a home with less, and more

We stayed in the story and helped bond them with amazing pre-adoptive parents

Some days I know we did right

And some days the guilt and fear choke me


On their birthday

I want to bake their cake, want to see their morning faces bright and new

Want to make the homemade soup they loved

And suddenly I find myself sobbing because of the thing that hurts the most

I cannot remember how Twin B said soup


I am foolish, sobbing over a silly little bit

But that is the thing about


You do not lose once and then remember losing

You lose and lose, and go on losing

You lose the first birthday and the first Christmas and the first memory you cannot pull back

And maybe if you forget too much it will be like

They were never



Several hours later, I hear it in my mind

She said zthoop—a perfectly irresistible lisp that made me fill her bowl again.

I laugh in the middle of my crying and am grateful for this memory

For a photograph of what is gone



The girls are gone and the door is gone and sometimes we cry


Choose life

How many of us do you think will have the chance to speak timely words to a mother dithering on the edge of her pro-life / pro-choice decision? One in a hundred? Less than that?

I cannot tell. But I know this: Every day, my words and actions to everyone around me vote for life — or they do not. I can talk until the day dawns about the evils of abortion, but what am I doing?


Sometimes I assume that being pro-life means I have to volunteer at my local crisis pregnancy center, march in Washington D.C, or become a foster parent. The Lord in his infinite wisdom and great sense of humor has led me on a couple of those paths—but it’s not really what I’m talking about. I am asking myself not if I am pro- the pro-life movement, but if I am pro-life. All life.

When was the last time I held a child to give his mom a break?

How do I respond to the screaming child (and her frazzled mother) in the next aisle of the grocery store?

On Sundays, do I watch the circus on the bench in front of me* with a frown? a smirk? or active compassion?

*Theoretically speaking. Usually I am the circus. Sometimes I’m the frazzled mother in the next aisle too: Come bring me coffee.

Am I warming my own children with love?

Am I willing to love a child who is not mine? my Sunday school student? my nephew? my runny-nosed neighbor kid?

What comes out of my mouth when I hear that Mrs. Seven Babies In About As Many Years is expecting her eighth?

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
How have I enabled? What have I done?

Every time I celebrate a child, I am helping his mother to love him.

Every time I give her what she needs from me most—my T.I.M.E—I am helping her to keep him.

I may not meet the frightened expectant mother contemplating abortion, but every expectant mother, every overwhelmed mother, carries fears I cannot see. She needs to hear these words:

You’ve got this. I am so happy for you. I will be here to help.

That’s all I have to say.

How has your load been lightened by the people around you? How have you lightened the load for others?

Roe v. Wade, and the lullabye my mother taught me

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9

Confession: I’m not sure if I am reading all the dark stories on purpose, or if I am being unconsciously drawn to them because of where my heart is, or if I am walking with purpose through divine literary appointments.

It is difficult to write of abortion without being either gruesome or weepy. But if anyone has a right to try, it is Norma McCorvey. You may not know her by that name—she was called Jane Roe in the famous 1970’s legal case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in all fifty states.

She wrote I Am Roe in 1994 to celebrate abortion rights and to tell her life story, stripped of the lies on which her case was built. She wrote Won By Love only three years later, to recant her earlier beliefs and give glory to Jesus for healing and forgiving her.

I just read both. They are painful books, the first full of stories of abuse and despair, and the second uncovering the horrors of the pro-choice world. But they also made things clearer to me.

  • They clarified both sides of the abortion issue—why people fight for this right, and why they fight against it.
  • They clarified my own commitment to the holiness of human life, from conception on—and my commitment to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
  • They even clarified my own childhood, and the memories I have of my mother’s concern about abortion.

Roe v. Wade was decided in the first months of my mom’s married life. In the late eighties and early nineties when the legal battle resurfaced, she listened to Tilly by Frank Peretti, with tears dripping off her face. And she taught her children to sing a song called Lullabye for the Unborn.

Reading Norma McCorvey’s story reminded me of the song, and so I searched for it. I found the lyrics, just as I remembered them, but what I really wanted was a link to someone performing the music. I could not find one anywhere online—and so I decided to sing it myself.

I was more frightened than I look.

I wanted to sing it without mistakes, but I couldn’t.

And I offer it because Mr. Johnson’s message is worth hearing, even 36 years after he wrote it, and because all babies deserve life.

This post contains affiliate links.

If you could say one thing to the frightened mother of an unborn child, what would it be?

More tomorrow

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Here’s the rest of what I have to say. It’s short.

I once said that what government does cannot heal your world. (You didn’t take much notice of it because that was the day I also said what you eat cannot heal your world.) I said, “Please consider the gospel you preach. There is no cure for human suffering except the one found in the person of Jesus and his final redemption.”

Don’t even think I’m saying that a government shouldn’t do all the good it can… that’s what it’s there for. It should protect the innocent and defend the poor and strike terror to the evil. But why would the people of God look to it for ultimate restoration? Human ideas aren’t that good.


I’ve seen Christians put their hope in godly politicians, only to see those shining leaders stumble and severely disappoint; and I’ve seen Christians attack ungodly politicians, who were selected by the Lord for such a time as this.

Our times are in his hands.

The utopias and dystopias, whatever their faults, were important books for the warnings they offered. They are important again this season, as America lunges and churns and gouges its way toward a Presidential election unlike any other—and yet so very like. Sometimes the American political scene looks to me like a golden chamber pot—expensive, sure; fascinating, you bet; but who would like to claim it? Anyone? Anyone?

Please remember. The biggest question is not “Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton?”

The biggest question is “Who heals the nations?

If what the government does cannot completely heal the world (and by that I mean solve every human problem, rescue every lost child, and change the hearts of people to make us truly good and truly happy), then what the government does cannot completely destroy the world either—however damaging/ dangerous/ selfish/ alarming/ horrible the fallout of its policies may be. It just can’t. It can’t turn good into evil, stop the sweet work of the Holy Spirit, or make the earth forget its Redeemer.

If you are in Christ, you belong to a kingdom that transcends political and temporal lines, and places your hope in a person, not in a place or a policy. There is always hope, because JESUS.

Because there is one perfect person in the world, one scaldingly good man who laid down his life for his enemies and walked through suffering and rose radiant with eternal life, we can live here too, and he will keep transforming us into his kind of people.

Our hope is in him, world without end. Amen.

Dystopias compared

I would apologize for writing about something so few of you may be interested in (although there is a method to my madness which will become apparent tomorrow), except that this is the space where I write what I need to write.

So if you enjoy it, enjoy. And if you do not enjoy it, do not come whining to me.


Have you ever wondered how much the world could change for the worse, and still exist?


I’ve been reading dark books of late. Some of them were meant to be dark, and some achieved it by accident.

I began with 1984, a painful and depressing dystopia by George Orwell. At the end of the book was a list of what Erich Fromm called two trilogies, one of utopias* and one of dystopias.**

*Utopia: a literary prediction of a world in which all major human problems have been solved

**Dystopia or negative utopia: a literary prediction of a world in which the solutions to human problems have horribly backfired and created a dysfunctional, sterile, or otherwise unhappy human existence.

The three utopias were Utopia by Thomas More (bet you didn’t see that coming), City of the Sun by Tommaso Campanella, and Christianopolis by Johann Andreae. The three dystopias were 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and We by Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin. (More books of both kinds have of course been written, but Fromm pointed to these as original and formative.)

So I set myself a goal to read all six, as well as a few related works by Fromm himself. I made it through four of them so far—three dystopias and the original Utopia—and was impressed more than anything else by their striking similarities. Oddly, the story that discouraged me the most was Utopia. More on that later.

Please note: If you are squeamish of violence or intimacy in literature, consider yourself warned. There are some awfully raw sections, and I’ll be honest with you, there were parts I skipped. That’s one reason I’m summarizing for you here.

Erich Fromm pointed out the irony that the positive utopias were written hundreds of years ago (16th and 17th centuries), as mankind reached for technological advance and imagined a time when human want and inequality could be done away. The mood was hopeful, futuristic, upbeat. The negative utopias were written in the 20th century, after the industrial revolution, when gaining the power to alleviate world problems did not actually translate into doing it. The mood turned dark, and people began doubting not only human ability but human character and intention.


Though the content of the dystopias is similar, their styles are completely different. 1984 is grim and dark and thorough, a gray dry city of utter control. It is the most believable and well-thought-out of the three, a careful and complete system of horror. In contrast, Brave New World is a chaotic explosion of visceral ideas, colors splashed on the canvas as the artist imagined them, like modern art that hints at more than meets the eye but does not explore or develop it. We I found the most dangerous and poisonous of the three, mysterious, imaginative, and almost alluring. The good sometimes looks evil and the evil good; the reader is on edge and troubled.

The emotional experience of the humans in the books ranged from happy, drugged, and brainless in Brave New World to lock-step, logical, and rational in We to desperately unhappy and despairing in 1984.

But beneath the styles, all three stories were required to answer similar questions; each had to face the problems of human conflict, human history, and human happiness. All three had to create an invincible government controlling the people, and in the end presented social structures that were surprisingly similar.

How did the new system start?

Each book pointed back to some kind of revolution or overthrow that led to the current state of affairs. There were dark hints at world war, and nuclear or technological conflict that lead to chaos and new management of the earth. Brave New World did this most cheekily, with its date system centered around The Year of Our Ford, and the years surrounding it labelled BF or AF.

Did it control the whole earth?

Each book had to describe the extent of domination. We imagined perfect cities surrounded by a Green Wall shutting out the wild, into which no living person had ever gone. Brave New World described reservations for the savages; normal people visited these places only for rustic holidays and sight-seeing of the crazies. 1984 imagined the whole earth dominated by three super-states at perpetual war with each other.

(Incidentally, perpetual war was deliberate, intended to use up all extra resources—food, money, technology, human energy—so as to keep the social strata of wealth and poverty in place. Otherwise society would have had enough resources, heaven forbid, to meet the needs of the poor!)


Why was it invincible?

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the dystopias was the obvious fear of the authors that someday human initiative and autonomy would be taken away—by brainwashing (1984), subliminal messaging (Brave New World), growing specially-conditioned babies in test tubes (BNW), replacing human names with human numbers (the main characters in We are D-503 and I-330), cultivating hatred and fear (regularly scheduled Two Minutes Hate, 1984), and removing all possibility of private life or thought (Big Brother was watching on the telescreen, 1984).

What was left to think, imagine, or create? Science, imagination, and discovery were all removed or banned, except to serve the state. History was rewritten or blotted out. People responded to new ideas with fear and revulsion. Anyone who opposed the system was tortured (1984), treated with the feel-good miracle drug called soma (BNW), or operated on to remove the troublesome part of the brain (We). There was no escape. Defectors were summarily dealt with.

The omnipotent power might be kindly or malignant, but it was omnipotent.


How was human intimacy viewed?

Stranger still to me was how human intimacy was reimagined. I wonder why all three books hinged so much on this facet.

Perhaps the authors wanted reader-bait, but I think they also wanted to emphasize the reality that sex is our truest encounter with other humans; alongside worship, it’s at the core of what makes us who we are. The writers could not change human nature without changing human experience of sexuality.

In 1984, human desire was eradicated as much as possible. The act of procreation was framed as a slightly disagreeable duty to the party. Permission to marry had to be obtained, and would only be granted if there was absolutely no attraction between the parties. The Junior Anti-Sex League marched in the streets, and wore red sashes atop their uniforms to proclaim their virgin status.

In Brave New World, deep passion was wiped out by the new norm of petty play, indulgently encouraged by the management. Promiscuity was cute in children and required in adults. You mustn’t deny yourself anything, and you mustn’t spend all your time with one partner; that would be strange and antisocial. With babies grown in bottles, mother and father were embarrassing, dirty words.

In We, pink tickets were needed for spending nights together by mutual consent. There was no marriage. Most women were sterilized, with a few preserved intact for creating the next generation. Children were raised by the state.

In all three books—is this not ironic?—the most effective way to thwart the oppressive power system was via human intimacy. Temporary escape was achieved through passionate love-making (1984), committed devotion that refused to touch and waited for marriage (BNW), or exclusive love between two people and none other (We). Is that not ironic?

How does this contrast with the Utopia of Thomas More?

Speaking of irony, consider this. Some of the greatest horrors of the dystopias were imagined by More hundreds of years before as part of his paradise—such as enforced training sessions to better yourself, perfect structure of all your hours as pre-established by the state, potential loss of your children, and all things belonging to all people—nothing, in short, to call your own.


That’s why the “positive” book discouraged me most of all. It tried to find answers (some scriptural, some novel, some undoubtedly a great improvement over the current state of affairs in Britain)—but it fell short. If you take his ideas to their logical conclusions, you get more than a whiff of Orwell, Huxley, and Zamyatin: an awful system of policing and uniformity.

Thomas More described humans as essentially good, and proposed that heaven could come to earth if people were given adequate training and no negative influences. He addressed war, slavery, government, marriage, extended family life, population, economics, and much more, but concluded that our biggest problem was money. He believed if we could just share everything between everyone, eliminate social strata, and get rid of our obsession with gold and prestige, most of our problems would go away. The Utopians’ great wealth was forged into golden chamber pots and prisoners’ chains, so that no one would desire to possess it or stockpile it.

There’s some truth there.

But golden chamber pots?

Well, I might have more to say on that tomorrow.


What do you think? Is money the problem? Is true love the answer? 🙂

This post contains affiliate links. Several of the books I referenced are inexpensive or free on Kindle. The one most worth reading, in my opinion, is Orwell’s 1984. Don’t forget I warned you.