Abortions are NOT a “normal or necessary” part of any woman’s fertility

December 7, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Photos of the bus ads in Cleveland sponsored by the abortion clinic Preterm.

We were contacted today by one of our friends in Ohio who brought to our attention that the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is now promoting an ad Campaign sponsored by the local abortion provider Preterm.  The movement called “My abortion, My life” seeks to “Help people see abortion for what it is: a normal and necessary part of women’s reproductive lives and health.”

What we see in examining this ad campaign and its abortion clinic sponsor is an attempt to drum up business at their center by normalizing and removing lingering stigmas attached to abortion.  Even after being legal in our country for nearly 40 years, the initial aversion and discomfort with abortion still keeps many from women sharing this decision proudly. Abortion proponents claim this silence is due only to the negative stigmas the pro-life community has forced upon women who have had abortions. They fail to note that it is pro-life groups offering support and counseling to women who experience the negative physical and psychological effects that abortion brings. Perhaps the relative lack of positive abortion experience sharing is more the result of there not being many women who can claim that abortions are a wonderful experience. Abortion leaves a woman feeling completely at odds with her own body and often ashamed to admit she would mutilate and destroy her body’s beautiful life-giving abilities.

 This is, however a very dangerous campaign as it is appealing to women who have suffered through abortions to justify their actions and not only “own” them, but encourage others to follow suit. We know that abortion is an act of great violence in which a human life is ended. We also know that women often make this decision uninformed or due to circumstances that are very difficult and are left traumatized and broken. The type of dialogue that “My abortion, My life” is trying to encourage does not address any of these issues and instead simply glosses over them to the end message of “I had an abortion and I’m fine.”  It is an attractive message to a woman in denial of her actions and one that might lead many more women down this terrible path.

The Guiding Star Project recognizes that public opinion and the media’s portrayal of abortion has always played in role in the number of abortions. “Public relations is a huge component of pro-abortion strategy. Wrote NARAL co-founder and pro-life convert Dr. Bernard Nathanson in 2002, “[W]e captured the media, we spent money on public relations.… Our first year’s budget was $7,500. Of that, $5,000 was allotted to a public relations firm to persuade the media of the correctness of our position. That was in 1969.”” Jill Stanek

We know it is important to win the cultural battle of the “rightness or wrongness” of abortion and recognize that messages on public transit systems do have a huge impact in this battle and need to be addressed.

Please spread the word and join us in contacting the GCRTA and supporting the Cleveland Pro-Life community in speaking out against these ads.

General Manager – gm@gcrta.org

File a Complaint – http://tpzweb02.gcrta.org/hiwire?.a=cCustomerComplaint

Complaint Line – (216)566-5227

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/riderta

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/GCRTA

Special thanks to our friends over at Livingthesacrament.com for alerting us to this story and encouraging their members to speak out against this sort of pro-abortion tactic.

Supporting our Sisters

November 17, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

New Feminists Encourage NEVER Condemn Other Women

Men have known for ages about the power of a woman’s words; how their wives can completely demoralize their efforts with a simple raise of the eyebrows and a quick, “Really, dear?”.  We women instinctively understand how we can use words to manipulate and hurt others if we really want to. We also understand how a quiet word of encouragement to a child or a friend in need can change their whole outlook and lift them to a better place. It is our power, and also our responsibility to use our words carefully.

In the past 100 years women have moved very far apart from one another in terms of our shared identity of “womanhood”.  We no longer have a general definition of what it means to be a woman in our world, and with the wide variance of opinions comes the verbal assaults on one another’s decisions.  Women are now learning, as men learned long ago, it can be very painful to be on the receiving end of another woman’s words of criticism and condemnation. Gone is the sisterhood of femininity that once demanded a certain level of camaraderie and understanding from someone of the same sex. New Feminists seek to restore the loving encouragement between women that is so necessary for us to live up to our fullest potential.

As a lactation consulting student, I have the opportunity to often talk with new mothers struggling to learn the art of breastfeeding. In these private sessions of complete vulnerability and honestly, some women have shared with me their stories of deep hurt from their own mothers’, sisters’, and friends’ comments about their mothering decisions. Often times it seems that the women closest to them in their lives criticize everything from how many children they have, to whether or not they work, to their feeding choices, and just about everything else they might be struggling with themselves to accept. The last thing they need is for others to sew seeds of doubt in their minds.

In our world of extreme relativity, it is controversial to say that anything is universally “better” than anything else. But there are simple truths from Natural Law that can guide us to discern that some things certainly do have a “Best Case Scenario” that will fit for most women and families. While I believe this to be true, I would never say that abiding by the ”Best Case Scenario”  is the only way that good can come about and that anyone outside of this scenario is always doing something wrong.  The exception to this being when someone completely rejects and ignores the “Best Case Scenarios” of Natural Law. For these cases we must stand firmly by the ideal and lovingly challenge our sisters and brothers to accept and strive for a higher standard for the sake of the best interest of our world.

For example, it is certainly the “Best Case Scenario” for a baby to be carried to full-term of at least 37 weeks gestation before being born. However, a family that must choose an emergency cesarean section at 32 weeks to save the life of the baby/or mother is certainly still acting to make the best of their particular situation. They are making a choice in the best interest of their child and are being flexible to allow for the circumstances to direct a new “Best Case Scenario”. In contrast, a woman who chooses to intentionally terminate a pregnancy at 10 weeks is not making an effort to acknowledge the child involved and is in no way concerned for their best interest.  This could never be the “Best Case Scenario” for how a pregnancy should end. Not to mention the death of their unborn child and the effects on other family members; the realities of what they have done to their own body could never justify this as a “Best Case Scenario”. Although their circumstances may be legitimately difficult, their disregard for everyone else involved and the very serious nature of the result marks it as a very poor decision. They need and deserve our compassion and support as we work to share with them the truth and wisdom of the ideal in order to build confidence and courage in those who might face this decision again in the future.

Another example that I am very familiar with is breastfeeding. The “Best Case Scenario” according to health literature and numerous medical studies is that newborn babies should ideally be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. This is a great goal and something we should strive for in the best interest of our children and our own bodies, but sometimes the surrounding circumstances make this very difficult. Some women try very hard for many weeks and months to breastfeed their children exclusively, but for a variety of reasons they are unable to do so. For the women who understand and have strove for the “Best Case Scenario”, there is no need for us to berate them with information about why they should be breastfeeding. We should be offering them comfort and support and encouragement so that they might be strong enough to try it again with any future children. Now in contrast there will be women who for whatever reason do not even consider giving their children the gift of their breastmilk. They will purposely dry up their own milk supply and immediately begin feeding their children milk-replacement formula in complete rejection of the established “Best Case Scenario”. These again are the women who need our compassion and understanding as we work to help them understand the beauty of their bodies and the amazing abilities they created with. Even the women who completely reject what is clearly “best”, we must never condemn them but rather work to make future circumstances more ideal for them to reach for a higher ideal.

Our words can either build relationships and trust with women whose choices we disagree with, or we can isolate ourselves from them with words of judgement and criticism. It is a fine line to walk in holding to the ideal “Best Case Scenario” while also acknowledging and accepting those situations outside the norm. But as women, we are quick-witted enough to form language that is loving and kind and that builds up our sisters struggling to continue to reach for the ideal no matter the circumstance.

Above all, we need to always remember that while Natural Law has established ”Best Case Scenarios”  for many things, there are not always clear ways that are “better” than others for every situation. Some things just do not hold that same weight as others in their level of importance for the best interest of society. These things will always be a matter of personal discernment and should be left to our sisters to make their best judgement about. Don’t let it keep you up at night if your sister’s kids have never had a haircut or if she chooses to let them watch tv for a few hours a day. As long as she is lovingly raising them, trust that parenting differences are ok.  When we encounter someone who has made a decision very different from our own, we must always first try to understand the situation and circumtances of that decision and then just lovingly uphold our confidence in their ability to achieve what is in the best interest of everyone involved. Share in a non-judgemental way about the beauty of the ideal through your own choices and life decisions.

As New Feminists we need to lovingly build up one another to understand and accept our unique role as mothers to society and the next generation. As long as we are always trying to fulfill this role and doing our best to meet the needs of this position, our world will become a better place with every woman’s choice to strive for the best interest of those around them. Only with the support from one another can we be strengthened enough to do this. Soon we will begin to see a new generation of New Feminists rise up and lead with love and compassion. Let’s start doing our part today by supporting and honoring one another as beautiful, capable women.

Natural Family Planning in a Planned Parenthood World

November 8, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

“We’re NOT the Rhythm Method”. Really, then what are you?

A little while ago I was talking with a woman who teaches sex education in a public high school. Intrigued by what was  being taught in teenage health classes and being a strong supporter of New Feminism, I asked if they spent much time teaching about the natural signs of female fertility and how to understand true women’s health. She quickly and rather sharply responded that yes, they DO spend time on this and that they actually give all the students, male and female, bracelets that help them understand and remember a typical woman’s menstrual cycle.

My initial response was “That’s great! I’m so glad they’re including this information for our youth at such an early age. That knowledge will really help them out later when they are trying to avoid or achieve pregnancy.”  After all, knowing what a menstrual cycle typically looks like is great information for young people just learning about the natural rhythms and functions of the body, right?

I didn’t really think too much more about it at the time and it slipped from my memory. Until this last week when I was going through an old storage closet full of education materials at a health office I am interning at.  I came across a box of “sex education” materials with a large Planned Parenthood sticker on the top. I presume that it has been used in outreach and education to teens as the graphics were very youth oriented. My curiosity goaded me to take a peek and see what passed as “education” on the very special act of sexual intimacy.

I saw the expected variety of condoms, but was honestly thrown a little aback by the emergency pregnancy tests, diaphragms, IUDs, patches, and spermicides.  I was a little dismayed, but not really all that surprised that these things were being passed around health classes for teens to handle and become accustomed to.  Instead of explaining that these items were all unneccessary adjuncts to a natural process, and that with a little self-control and communication  these items can be completely obsolete, these things are now passed around as the “essentials” of sex education. These items that were outlawed less than a hundred years ago in our nation are now treated so casually and as a fundamental part of every teens sex education.  But the biggest shock was yet to come…..

There at the bottom of the box was a brightly colored little ring of beads. At first is almost looked like a rosary. Perplexed, I picked it up and was shocked to see that it was a ring of CycleBeads.  For those of you who have never heard of CycleBeads, they are a simple bracelet of colored beads meant to imitate the average menstrual cycle of a very regular woman.  I had previously heard of them being used in third world countries to teach women about their bodies and used as a way to help them avoid pregnancy. These are the very beads that I now suspect the above mentioned health teacher was referring to when she proudly stated that YES, they were indeed teaching young women about the naturally occurring signs of their fertility. But here is where the problem with CycleBeads comes in.

As an educational tool to physically display the average menstrual cycle, I think CycleBeads can be helpful. But as a way to teach young women about their bodies’ naturally occurring signs of fertility, they are useless. As a method of family planning, they are really nothing more than the old Rhythm Method from the 1950s.  Try as they may to dispute this fact, there is really no difference in how a woman is supposed to use these beads to avoid a pregnancy. Their purported success is based solely on a calculation of “standard days” of fertility, based on the belief that 80% of women have “standard cycles” of 28-32 days.  They have named their method of family planning, The Standard Days Method. I had not realized prior to looking at their website that theyactually claim to be a method of family planning, or rather “natural birth control”, which should be a red flag for anyone promoting the counter approach of Natural Family Planning. There is a huge difference in ideology between ”natural birth control” and “Natural Family Planning”, but I digress. (I’ll save that for another post.)

 The CycleBeads website says that using the beads is 95% effective for women who meet the criteria, but I am highly suspicious of these statistics and would like to see the actual studies asserting these findings.  I am suspicious for many reasons but the primary reason being that this very elementary method does not take into account any variability in a woman’s cycle. Most of us know that a stressful month or an illness can throw off our fertility by several days. Sometimes for more than two or three weeks. CycleBeads as a method of family planning does not, and cannot take these fluctuations into account. It does not even try to track the naturally occurring signs of fertility. Without further knowledge of cervical mucus patterns, or temperature shifts, or softening of the cervix, a woman using CycleBeads is going to be completely at the mercy of the calendar and chance in whether or not she becomes pregnant.  There is absolutely no actual education for women about how their body is working, except that it SHOULD follow this arbitrary schedule of beads that has been given to them with assurance of accuracy. Women are not taught to understand and respect the fluctuations of their individual bodies, but rather that they should fit into a norm established by researchers.

What in the world was Planned Parenthood doing giving out CycleBeads to teens? Why was this educational tool included in a box of contraceptives?  Was it being touted as another method of birth control? Were teens being taught that this is what Natural Family Planning is all about? After looking on the Planned Parenthood website, I was shocked to find the beads actually for sale on their site as an alternative method of birth control. I was equally as shocked to see a recent addition to the CycleBeads page selling Planned  Parenthood’s exclusive brand of Proper Atire condoms. There is a partnership between CycleBeads and Planned Parenthood that has nothing to do with actual sex education, rather the support of a business plan reaping its benefits from our ignorance.

CycleBeads were not being used for education, but for birth control.  Why would Planned Parenthood choose THIS method of natural birth control and not a method that encourages women to look at their own bodies’ signs of fertility?  Why not promote Creighton, or Billings, or Sympto-Thermal family planning methods? Methods with sound scientific research and very high rates of success? Why not choose a method that empowers women and teaches them to trust and honor and know their bodies?

 I have my own theory about this and it has little to do with raising up a generation of young empowered women. 

I suspect that Planned Parenthood has chosen to include the least effective and certainly least supported method of “natural birth control”, because it ends up causing many young women to fail in their attempt to use it, thus making them dependent upon the “solutions” offered at their clinics (Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in our country). Cyclebeads as a method of family planning will lead a young woman to believe that there must be something wrong with her body when she accidentally becomes pregnant while perfectly using this method. And that WILL happen the first time she experiences an exceptionally stressful or unusual  month.  She will never again trust that her body will not betray her and will choose a much more drastic method of family planning and take on the associated risks of that method.  She will never know that there are methods of natural family planning that are just as effective as the contraceptives and pills she is using, but without any of the risks, because she has written off the possibility of natural methods working. I suspect that Planned Parenthood knows this.

I suspect that they chose the only method they could find that had some endorsement from religious groups so that the young woman raised in a faith-filled home would not shy away from THIS method of birth control. They found a “natural” method so that they could stand up to the criticisms of outside groups saying they were not providing alternatives to contraceptives.  They found a method that is very simple and can be used all around the world, in countries traditionally opposed to contraception and abortion so that women, who evidentally are not smart enough to be taught real Natural Family Planning, would come in their doors for their CycleBeads.  Planned Parenthood, in partnership with Cyclebeads is NOT the educational tool that I first applauded at my local high school. It is a continuation of the same old approach to women’s health and our fertility; we are not being given all the information that is available because we simply must not be able to know our crazy, broken bodies. Planned Parenthood doesn’t think women are capable of managing their fertility.

I had mistakenly thought that CycleBeads could be a good thing to give to our youth to help them learn about fertility and develop respect for women’s bodies.  But given without the rest of the available statistics and facts about women’s fertility, they are simply setting up our youth for failure and dependence on groups like Planned Parenthood to get them out of their reproductive “messes”.

Why else would Planned Parenthood promote CycleBeads in the “sex education” curriculums of our high schools?

Thank You & Why Music Matters

October 30, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Danielle Rose warming up before her amazing concert & preparing to share her message of LIFE with the crowd.

I can’t thank those of you enough who attended or sent along support for the fundraising concert last night! It was such an enjoyable evening and I am so grateful to have such an amazing community to call home and people to call my neighbors and friends.

If you weren’t able to attend, we’ll get some more pictures up very soon from the event and hopefully even some video of Danielle Rose performing so you can share in the joy and blessing of the event.

I want to also talk about something that some of you might be wondering about: Why would a newer group like The Guiding Star Project, who is still working to get up and running (and can sure use financial support!), spend so much time and energy hosting a benefit concert for a musician that is not even directly associated with our organization? How does raising money to give away benefit our mission? At first glance it may not seem to make the best business sense, but I am certain our efforts to bring Danielle’s beautiful music and lyrics to our broken world will pay off in this cultural battle we’ve begun. Our partnership with Danielle will help us achieve our mission of creating a Culture of Life.

We realize that our dreams are big…. Big….. ok, really BIG. We want nothing less than to cause a massive cultural shift towards authentic appreciation for our bodies and a love for the dignity of every other human being.  We have a pretty awesome model and a plan to get there, but this is not something that happens overnight. In fact, when I first had the initial vision for Guiding Star Duluth, I knew instinctively that it would take many years before I would see the full fruits of the work I was beginning. I even told another board member that I didn’t expect to see the entire vision realized for another 10-15 years in that city. She gasped and said that was ridiculous. She’d probably smile now and nod with agreement if I reminded her of this early prediction. We’ve all been learning that cultural change takes time and for many things to line up before noticeable changes can be seen.

After four years of work in the very first community piloting The Guiding Star Model, we’ve learned so much and have been able to identify some of the largest stumbling blocks for a Culture of Life to be realized. We are living in a culture so inundated with negative, death propaganda that we must first work to change the entire language and attitude surrounding women, children, and family life from pessimism and doubt to hope and appreciation. Music does this better than pretty much anything else I can think of.

How many times have you caught yourself humming a song with lyrics you’d be embarrassed to say aloud, yet that tune is stuck in your head!?! Going round and round, subconsciously repeating the negative messages you’d never consciously associate yourself with.  Putting an ideology or teaching to song is one of the quickest and easiest ways to remember and learn something new. (Do any of you remember learning the ABCs any other way?) Why else do you think parents of the 1950s feared Rock n’ Roll so much? They knew their kids would embrace more than the bouncy beats when they heard the lyrics and saw Elvis perform “Hound Dog” for the first time . They knew the influence that music can have on the next generation. Historian Marty Jezer noted the cultural shift that took place alongside Presley’s rise to fame. Igniting the “biggest pop craze since Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra … Presley brought rock n roll into the mainstream of popular culture”, Jezer writes  “As Presley set the artistic pace, other artists followed. … Presley, more than anyone else, gave the young a belief in themselves as a distinct and somehow unified generation—the first in America ever to feel the power of an integrated youth culture.” 1.

So, we see great value in supporting Danielle’s music because we understand that she has a large following of young people who are becoming more life-affirming and rounded in Culture of Life thinking just by listening to and sharing her music with others.  We want to help support the music that will unite and excite this next generation.  We “get” that creating a Culture of Life requires a lot of time laying the groundwork to build upon later. It requires inspiring and connecting the next generation to our message.  Danielle’s music shares the truth about the wide-spectrum of pro-life issues and challenges others to see the inter-connectedness of the many issues involved in our current cultural mess. We are so happy and proud to support an artist who shares our passion and vision for a better world. And we know that in this early start-up phase for our organization, there is no better way to begin on the path to achieving our final goal of Creating a Culture of Life through the establishment of Guiding Star Centers than to put the pieces in play that need to be complete when we are ready. We need a pro-life community that sees the bigger picture and understands the benefits and the necessity of working together. We need people to be excited about collaboration and the full pro-life picture.

We pray that Danielle’s upcoming album will do just that and that soon we’ll see the results of a movement being reinvigorated with youthful enthusiasm and optimism. For LIFE!

1. Jezer, Marty. The Dark Ages: Life in the United States 1945–1960. South End Press; 1982. Page 281. ISBN 978-0896081277.

Danielle Rose Concert, coming soon!

October 7, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to help bring empowering music to our world!

The invitations and press releases are out for the upcoming dinner/concert/fundraiser supporting the mission of Guiding Star through the beautiful music of Danielle Rose!

The details:

October 28th, 2011

Timbermist Event Center, Brainerd, MN

Doors open at 6:00pm

The event starts at 6:30pm and will go until 8:30pm.

Share an amazing meal, learn more about the work of The Guiding Star Project, and hear Danielle share her beautiful music and message of love.

And in case you’re interested, I’m also attaching the mp3 audio files from a radio interview I did locally last week that explains a bit more about the event. We look forward to seeing you the end of the month!

MCBI Radio Interview

Radio Interview Part 2

Radio Interview Part 3

What is a “New Feminist”? Part 2

September 13, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

We left off in Part 1, after a short history of Feminism in America, with the question of what a “New Feminist” looks like. I made the argument that the “Feminism” most of us think of when we hear the word, is actually a sharp departure from earlier “feminist” thought and action.

Most of us tend to think of Second Wave Feminists and not the First Wave Suffragists when we think of “feminism”; which as we already talked about, were NOT the same breed of women! And then I briefly mentioned that according to the historians and experts on this stuff (which I clearly am not!), we are currently living in the Third Wave of Feminist thought. As far as I can tell that means that Second Wave Feminists have moved from grassroots activism into political activism and have entrenched themselves in positions at Universities to assure the continuance of their ideological doctrines. This next generation of young women (and men) to adopt and expand on this ideology are considered the Third Wave.  Third Wavers have forged strategic partnerships with other social movements to strengthen their force and Feminism is now often associated with sexually charged agendas; including the homosexual rights movement. For those of us in this generation who do not subscribe to these views of women and think there is more to our feminity than our sexuality, there seems to be little room for our voices in the Third Wave.

So here is where I going to be bold and say that because Second and Third Wave Feminists have not listened to their sisters and have betrayed their own sex’s natural capabilities and strengths, a Fourth Wave of Feminism, or a “New Feminism” is now dawning.

After nearly seventy years of watching our daughters and mothers second-guess and belittle their very nature, we are tired of living the lies of “old Feminism”.

I had left you at the end of my first post on this topic with the question of whether or not we should even use the word “Feminism” to describe our movement, as the word was coined by Second Wavers and retroactively applied to the Suffragists. There was some division over this among “New Feminists” with some preferring to be called “Complementarianists”, but most of these doubts and differences were dispelled when in 1995 Blessed Pope John Paul II said,

In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.” ~From Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)

He went on to echoe the lines of the SecondVatican Council’s closing statement concerning women’s important role in our world.

“”Reconcile people with life“. You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb . . . This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”. A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.”

 His call to “New Feminism” has resonated with many and we now see the beginnings of this young movement taking root and reclaiming authentic femininity as the “New Feminist” mantra.

New Feminists ascribe to the “feminine geniuses” of:

  • empathy 
  • interpersonal relations
  • emotive capacity
  • subjectivity
  • communication
  • intuition
  • personalization

These are characteristics that women were created to excel at naturally. When women embrace their own natural gifts, it provides a balance to the masculine traits of protection, ambition, sacrificial giving, leadership, physical strength, and objectivity. Without the balance of woman, man is left to fight his own temptations void of the ability to see their effects on others. As Pope Paul VI pleaded and implored women in the 1965 Second Vatican Council’s closing address,

“Reconcile men with life and above all, we beseech you, watch carefully over the future of our race. Hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization.”

New Feminists are needed to restore the balance that has been lost these last several decades. When woman decided to instead grasp at masculine qualities and abandoned her own “feminine genius” our world lost sight of “otherness” and became exceptionally self-focused. We ended up with abortion, contraception, and divorces ripping families apart. Children have suffered terribly in this world where feminine responsibility has been eschewed.

Our world needs motherhood.This is not to say that women can only live out their femininity in the home caring for children. It simply means that to be female is to be a sort of mother to our race, in whatever profession you happen to have. Motherhood does not have to be physical motherhood as the qualities that women naturally possess also lend themselves to spiritual and adoptive motherhood of those all around us. A woman in politics, a woman in the business world, and a woman raising children all have the same responsibility to teach others about universal human dignity. We need people who simply love humanity unconditionally and will fight for every one of us; like our own mothers would.

New Feminists think every person is worth love, respect, and care simply because they exist. Our messages are simple and resonate with many, yet our progress will be slow in a world so over-saturated with male-dominated ideas and values.

As author Katrina Zeno says in her book, Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Woman’s Journey,  “While productivity is valuable, helpful and necessary, New Feminists claim that it is a very masculine way of looking at actions. New Feminists assert that we must also be fruitful – a process that takes longer, requires patience and the cooperation of others, and is appreciated not measured. Every act of service is a witness to the worth of the human person and thus promotes the progress of the whole human race.”

We will not change the world tomorrow, but I for one think this is a worthy investment and invite you to join with me in little ways to rebuild our culture and create a “New Feminism” that will bring about a better world for us all.

proactive, NOT reactive

August 30, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Ad for a wonderful crisis pregnancy center in Maryland. Thank you for your service!

I am still working on Part 2 to “New Feminists”, but I had a thought that I wanted to share sooner than later. So please be patient me with and let me jump topics for a bit here. I promise I will come back to tell you all about what New Feminists look like! And that is worth waiting for. :)

I hesitate as I begin this new post because I want to make sure that readers will understand that I am NOT opposed to crisis pregnancy centers. Quite the contrary actually. I think crisis pregnancy centers can be wonderful sources of support and comfort to young women in situations that feel scary and overwhelming. The people that run these centers work for little or no reimbursement to save women from making a decision that could potentially harm her and be something she would regret for the rest of her life. Crisis pregnancy centers do wonderful work. I have seen several of them in action and have witnessed first-hand the compassion and care that is shown to all women, no matter what their circumstance.

My issue is not with crisis pregnancy centers. My issue is with the pro-life movement thinking that crisis pregnancy centers are our best attempt at preventing abortions.

By their very nature, crisis pregnancy centers are REACTIVE to a situation that is already in “crisis”.  Women do not come to them before a crisis to learn how to prevent a crisis (they go elsewhere for that information). Crisis pregnancy centers are specialized in knowing how to meet the needs of a very specific group of women; those in crisis pregnancies, and for the most part, they do it very well. With most centers striving to provide ultrasound services and the latest in scientific knowledge of life in the womb, they help a woman to understand she is not the only one feeling endangered by the current situation.  They introduce a mother to her child and help her to embrace the greatest ally she will ever have in her current durress; her beautiful child.

As great as crisis pregnancy centers are though, they are NOT a PROACTIVE solution to what is happening all around us in our culture.  Our world is beginning to view humanity as a burden. To combat that we need centers that are comprehensively providing services (along with pregnancy support) to change our societies perception of pregnancy, fertility, childbearing, family life, & LIFE in general.  We need to have a place that is frequented throughout life for things other than crisis situations. A place that is comfortable and homey, a place where we can trust to be treated with respect, no matter why we are there.

In order to be PROACTIVE we need to be looking at the root causes of societal attitudes and work to change them in future generations. Guiding Star Centers will strive to be relevent to the youth and will encourage them to hang out in our facilities. They will be able to grab a smoothie in the organic coffee shop and check out the shops and other businesses there, with or without visiting their family practice doctor or going into any of the other organizations in the Center. And while they are there, hopefully they will realize that being pro-life is about more than opposing abortion and euthanasia. They will see joyful people who do not see others as inconvenient. They will see that caring for the environment, for their own bodies, for one another, and for their soul are all essential pro-life activities. And with the next generation of our youth being raised in an atmosphere of authentic appreciation for humanity, I think we stand a very good chance of them knowing they deserve better than the solutions currently offerred to them in our society.

Hopefully someday, an unplanned pregnancy will not even be seen as a crisis, but as simply an opportunity for unplanned joy; a thought that is almost absurd in today’s world! Until that day, thank you to all the crisis pregnancy centers for faithfully serving our world; but let us not lose sight that we can and must reach back further and address root causes in order to create a true Culture of Life.

What is a “New Feminist”?

August 26, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts, Uncategorized

First Wave Feminists/Suffragists

I just finished reading the book“The Flipside of Feminism”by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly.  I highly recommend reading this book; it is a quick read with so much great information.

My mind is simply swimming with the assertions made and the no-nonsense approach of these two wonderfully candid authors. While I really appreciated and agreed with many of the messages the book espoused (such as the need to build up the roles of men as protectors & that women are not inherently born victims by our gender), I could not get over one of the  lines in the introductory note from the authors.  It read, “Some have even tried to rehabilitate feminism by claiming conservative women belong to something called the “new feminism”, or even ”pro-life feminism (Sarah Palin comes to mind) -as if there were such a thing.”

The book never goes into an explanation why such a thing as “new feminism” or “pro-life feminism” is an impossibility; but nonetheless, it set me to thinking and caused me to want to define what a New Feminist looks like. I think for the sake of length, I will do this in two short posts; the first giving you a brief history in order to understand how we ended up in this mess, and the second to explain how we can spark a new movement of women called New Feminists to set right the wrongs of previous movements.

In Feminist “herstory” (cute, I know) the commonly accepted genealogy of feminism begins with the First Wave Feminists, or Suffragists as they were called during their lifetimes.  This First Wave began roughly around the time of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 and lasted until the Nineteenth Constitutional Amendment legalized voting rights for women (the primary goal of the movement) in 1920.

A "liberated" Second Wave Feminist

The Second Wave of Feminism doesn’t have quite as clear of a start date, but many of the ideas and foundational building blocks were already being promoted in society as early as the 1910s-20s.  Margaret Sanger was already hard at work bringing birth control to our country; although interestingly, she was never allied with the work of the suffragists even though they were working at the same time. Their missions never overlapped and as far as I can tell, there were no friendships or even working relationships between Sanger and the Suffragists. In fact, the main Suffragist magazine, The Revolution even prohibited advertisements for abortifacients and other birth control methods. This point, along with dramatic ideological differences, has led me to believe that the “Waves” theory of Feminism is flawed and that what actually emerged as “Second Wave Feminism” had really little or nothing to do with the work of “First Wave of Feminism”.

By defining Feminism in waves, it assumes that each subsequent movement grew out a previous movement with the same basic goals or ideas. I do not think that what Second Wave Feminism promoted (and what “The Flipside of Feminism” refers to exclusively in their book as the whole of Feminism) was at all in keeping with the intentions of the The First Wave. To say that these completely different groups of women, with completely different sets of standards are as closely related as “waves” or ripples from the same stone is a leap at best, and in reality was a complete hijacking of the success of a previous movement of women.

First Wave Feminists were largely family oriented. They were often Prohibitionists as they saw alcohol the downfall of many good family men. They explained their family planning decisions as “voluntary motherhood”, meaning they accepted that fertility and children were part of the vocation they signed up with in getting married. They did not speak of their children, or the children of poor women as millstones around their necks, but rather individual people who deserved love and respect and good families to bring them up. Their principles called for responsibility and patriotism…..all things that Second Wave Feminists abhorred and fought with all their strength against.

Second Wave Feminism is almost synonymous with the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s-1970s. Foundational principles to this movement include access to birth control and abortion, promotion of women in the workforce, the notion of “equality” between the sexes, and the liberation of women from marriage and motherhood. All of these ideas were central to the groundbreaking Feminist book, “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Frieden, which is often credited with sparking the Second Wave of Feminism.

In this book Frieden points back to the Suffragists movement and said that the women of her day, the 1950s,  needed to do something similar in demanding new “rights” for themselves. They must create an escape from the “comfortable concentration camps” of their families and homes. They must demand the right to live as their husbands did and be free to work outside the home, have their own money, place their children in daycare, or not have any children at all.  Right there is where the entire ideology from First to Second Wave Feminism breaks apart. First Wave Feminists recognized that men and women were different by nature. They were not threatened by the roles of their husbands and brothers, but rather saw them as complimentary to what they were doing with thier lives. They saw men as partners, not competitors. New Feminists also hold this complimentary view of men…..and we’ll continue this conversation in the next post as we talk more about what New Feminists believe and how we differ from all previous waves (there is also a Third Wave that we’re supposedly in now, but it seems to basically be Second Wave Feminism allied with other social movements such as LGBT).

What other differences do you see existing from First to Second Wave Feminists? Do you feel like New Feminists should even use the name “feminist” as it did not come into popular use until the 1960s? I’m interested to hear what your thoughts are at this point.

 

When the music changes…..

August 16, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Danielle Rose

There is an old African proverb that says, “ When the music changes, so does the dance.” 

I believe that this is true, and that it extends beyond just music and dancing. When the heart of a culture is changed, so are the actions that follow.

Because of this, it is with great joy that I share the news that The Guiding Star Project is working to help a beautiful musician named Danielle Rose raise the funds to produce her next cd! A cd focused on the many issues within the spectrum of a Culture of Life; a voice of hope and love for our world.

More information to come soon, but MARK YOUR CALENDARS for an OCTOBER 28TH CONCERT/DINNER FUNDRAISER  in the Brainerd MN Area!

Danielle is a friend from my days in campus ministry in Duluth, MN. We came to know one another at a time in our lives when we both were facing deep personal struggles in our efforts to create a better world and follow God’s will. I was newly pregnant with my second child (and very ill with hyperemesis) and Danielle had lost her voice with no idea of when, or if, she would ever sing again.

In our weaknesses and low-points, we were able to offer comfort and companionship as sisters in this world, with hope for the next world. Danielle will be forever dear to my heart.

So I am very excited about the opportunity to help Danielle in securing funding for her next great adventure of bringing music to our world that promotes a Culture of Life!

The Guiding Star Project recognizes that good music is a universal language that can unite even those who are fiercely opposed to one another. Sometimes when we just stop talking and let music touch our souls, we can see our “opponents” as the wounded people that they are and find compassion and love for others. That is truly being pro-life and we support anyone who is committed to doing this through their own gifts and talents.

We hope to see you in October!

To learn more about Danielle Rose and her previous music, go to http://www.daniellerose.com/home

A little ditty about breastfeeding….

August 2, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Naturally Nourished

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, I thought I would devote a little time to singing the praises of nursing our babies.

Like I mentioned in an earlier posting about the many different issues that make up a truly pro-life (not just anti-abortion) position, breastfeeding DOES fall within the bigger picture of recognizing how amazing our bodies are made and affirming them. Breastfeeding not only provides amazing food for our babies’ bodies, but it is amazing food for a mother’s soul.

As a lactation counselor (working toward my certification as an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant), I get the opportunity to talk and work with newly breastfeeding mothers on a regular basis.  It is such a privilege for me to share their first experiences of nursing their child. I get to watch new mothers’ eyes open wide in amazement the first time their newborn latches on successfully. Their first loving gazes at one another are about the most beautiful picture anyone could ever imagine. Both full of wonder that another needs and loves them so completely.

Of course the breastfeeding picture isn’t always so rosy, if it were I wouldn’t have a career! But in those instances of struggle, I also am able to witness acts of great determination and growth on the part of women who didn’t know how strong they could be.

Take for instance the mother whose baby refused to latch on one side. She did not give up after several frustrating weeks of trying to teach him to latch on, but continued nursing on the one breast and  pumped the other breast to prevent engorgement and mastitis. She pumped for several months and after awhile had so much milk that she could selflessly donate the extra milk to a donor milk bank to be used for critically ill newborns in NICUs.  The pride in her eyes as she shipped off the extra milk, holding her chubby baby on her hip was a priceless image of satisfaction and confidence in her body’s abilities. Prior to giving birth she had worried about whether or not her small breasts could ever sustain a baby. Never again will she look at her body as insufficient or incapable.

Breastfeeding can provide an experience for women to grow in trust of their bodies and an opportunity to grow a strong relationship with their child. The health benefits for both mom and baby are seemingly endless. Look almost anywhere and you’ll be overwhelmed with the sheer evidence in support of breastfeeding.

Affirm and encourage a woman in your life who has made the decision to breastfeed her baby. It’s the pro-woman, pro-baby, pro-life thing to do.

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