I have so many things I should be blogging about – my trip to DC, what’s happening in the pro-life arena, and the election that’s coming up in 13 days.
But, instead, I’m going to blog about TODAY.
I toured the LDS temple in Boise this afternoon – they’re having an open house for the public before they re-dedicate it in November. So many people were there – SO MANY. Thousands tour it every day. And now I know why.
Beautiful. Stunning. Magnificent. The intricate details and murals and paintings and chandeliers and rooms and oh my word. I could go on and on about how beautiful that building is.
I have to make it clear that I am an evangelical, non-denominational-and-maybe-a-little-charismatic-but-who-cares-because-the-Holy-Spirit-is-meant-to-unite-not-divide Christian, and my theology and doctrine differs quite a bit from what my dear LDS friends believe. I don’t personally use the Book of Mormon as Scripture or revelation. I’m obviously doing my best in this post to be compassionate and gentle, but it’s obvious to everyone who knows me: I’m not a Mormon, and anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows that evangelical Christianity and Mormonism have a lot of things that don’t particularly “line up” with one another.
But you know what? That’s not the point of this post, or quite frankly, my life. I’m not here to call the LDS religion a cult, and I’m not here to say they’re all going to Hell. I’m not here to say they’re not Christian, and I’m not here to bash them. I ask for grace and patience from my LDS friends who are reading this – I hope you see my heart, and understand that I am doing my best to get my point across without saying anything derogatory or judgmental toward you.
So, as I was touring the temple today, I was FREEZING. Cold. “Brrr” hardly covers it. While I was complaining and shivering, I started to look around, and saw over 200 members of the LDS church standing in the cold, directing traffic, ushering people in and out, guiding tours, putting floor-protective coverings on our feet and taking them off – all in the cold, all with smiles on their faces, and all with genuine love and affection. They are truly happy to volunteer and serve their community.
The man who was guiding our tour had to turn away multiple times from the group, because he had tears streaming down his cheeks when he started talking about the love Jesus has for us, and the sacrifice he made to show his love. Literally – tears. everywhere. When he talked about his wife, or his children, or his God, he would start crying because he was so moved with gratitude and love. I took a moment in the “Celestial Room” in the temple and asked myself how many times I’ve seen men in my life weep over the love of their Savior or their divine commitment to their families. I can only think of three – and I grew up in church, people.
Now, I know what many people are thinking: It was all a show. He was trying to convert you. He doesn’t know the real Jesus. Stacey, you’re wrong by posting this. You’re not standing for truth, Stacey. Mormons are weird. Their history is corrupt. They’re so deceived. You shouldn’t have gone to the Temple.
Well, feel free to go ahead and post in the comment section below. I respectfully welcome your opinion.
Deanna, the LDS woman who took time out her day – which happened to be her son’s birthday – to show me the place where she feels closest to God, sacrificed and showed more kindness than many Christians I know. Not once has she ever tried to convert me, not once has she tried to argue with me, not once has she made fun of Christians, not once has she been offended by my absurd and ignorant questions about her faith. I pray that one day, I can show the love of Jesus like Deanna tries so hard to do, every day. For the first time in my life, today I saw the LDS community not as a group of people to argue with, not as a cult, or a wacked-out polygamist colony, or as guys on bikes with backpacks - but as a beautiful group of people who deserve my friendship, service, and love just as much as anyone else in my life. They are my neighbors, just as much as my evangelical brothers and sisters, the broken, the homeless, and the addicted are. Are we not all loved furiously by God? Why do Christians and Catholics deserve my love and prayer, but Mormons, Atheists, and Pro-Choicers don’t?
I’ve been wrong in the way I’ve been judging the world, the Christian church, the lost, and other faith traditions (including Mormons) through my very human, very self-righteous and very prideful eyes. I’ve put my beliefs, my spiritual journey, and my convictions on a pedestal and expected everyone else to convert to Christianity-Known-Best-By-Stacey. Oh, Lord. Forgive me for my ignorance and immaturity.
I never though I’d say this, but I sure could learn some things from the Mormons.
I recently found a quote that I’m absolutely head-over-heels (like the shoe, not the body part) in love with.
“If we’re not chasing after something that is so much bigger than we are, then we are playing it TOO SAFE. We have to fight against the idea of just wearing a wristband and feeling like we’ve done something.”
MMMmmm hmmmm. Just take a minute… Re-read it.. Soak it up.. Think about it..
Welcome to the entitlement generation, people. Preacher after preacher and too many celebrity pastors to name have stood at the pulpit and said that we are the generation that expects a bunch without doing much. In those same sermons, however, it’s always made clear that we are a generation with our hearts set on fire for more… more… more.
I know that my posts don’t ever go very deep, and I know I don’t give very many history lessons or philosophical insights like Steph , absolute truths like Kaylee, or political opinions like Jess. I know that my posts don’t typically have a lot of “substance,” but to be honest – I’ve never been a meat and potatoes kind of girl. But maybe, just maybe – that’s why God put the four of us together in this beautiful little mess we call The Civic Arena.
The more I think and pray about my role in this blog, the more I see that I don’t have the insight, schooling, or life experience to educate anyone on deep political and social issues. I do realize, however, that although I may not present the substance and depth, I can provide this: Passion. Sass. Inspiration. Vision. Hope.
So here it is – my shallow but sassy post, meant to inspire you to passionate action.
Find something you believe in. Get on your knees, and beg God for some dang vision. Take your Toms off and cut that stupid Kony 2012 bracelet off your wrist, and ask the God that created you to put some dreams in your heart that will align your life with His will. And don’t you dare get a vision, and then let the doubt in your own heart stop you from chasing after that dream.
“If no one has laughed at your vision lately, then maybe you don’t have a vision. Maybe you have a daydream.”
Don’t you dare let culture, cheap grace theology, or political correctness get in the way of your calling to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Step out of your entitlement and your “I have a Twitter and sometimes I re-tweet social justice things therefore I am an advocate for the broken” mentality, and step into something greater.
My life verse is Isaiah 61:1…
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.”
Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking at the “40 Days For Life” Kickoff Rally. It was in the middle of a gorgeous park in Boise, and I got to rock my favorite pair of 5″ nude-with-gold-spikes Vince Camuto heels.
It was my privilege to address this group, which consisted of a majority of men and women above 40. I got to look on the faces of beautiful people with selfless hearts, who faithfully commit themselves to prayer so that abortion will come to an end.
To me, it’s beautiful that the unity in the pro-life movement is growing stronger and stronger. When I spoke yesterday, I commended the older generation for laying a firm foundation of prayer and inspiration. It is now our job, as the younger generation, to build upon that foundation with hard work, more prayer, and activism. It is also our duty to inspire the next generation to be even more actively pro-life than us, as those who have gone before have done.
“Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.” -Herbert Hoover
This quote hit me so hard when I read it. I didn’t read it figuratively – I believe that the calling and the passion my generation has is a response to the war that was declared through prayer by the generations before us. It is now our job to march all night, pick up our swords, and charge into in a broken but not hopeless battlefield.
The 53 million children that have died through abortion, and many of the 53 million women that have been touched by the tragedy of abortion are crying, begging, and pleading for us to respond and become more actively pro-life. Their hearts are hanging on by threads of faith that is fading fast, waiting and watching to see what we will do. We must fight by taking our faith into the public square and being more vocal in our spheres of influence about why Roe V. Wade must be overturned – and I have faith that abortion can come to end all together.
Let us pray in unity that the God of justice and love will make the sun stand still, but let us also pick up our swords and fight until abortion is no more.
I leave for Washington DC on September 27th, and as excited as I am about this trip – it has been the cause of some very interesting conversations with people who love and care about me. Well-meaning and selfless followers of Christ, who care about my future and my sphere of influence (as small as it may be).
I’m traveling to DC with my boss, Brandi Swindell, and we’re taking part in an event called Acts Five29. With the recent controversy over the HHS Mandate (which requires Catholic institutions, as well as other well-meaning faith based institutions, to pay for and provide abortion-inducing drugs), pro-life and christian leaders around the nation have decided to come together, humble and broken, for 72 hours of peaceful prayer, prophetic witness, worship, and possible arrests in front of the White House.
I know that the only thing you’ve taken from this post so far is the word “ARREST.” Yeah. You read it correctly. Unfortunately, as we are standing for religious freedom, the unborn, and our first amendment rights, we also risk arrest.
Here is the mission of Acts Five29:
On September 29 – October 2, 2012, I will stand for my liberty. I will not participate in the subjugation of the vulnerable, in the deterioration of American liberty, in the removal of religious freedom in my country. I will not comply with the HHS Mandate; and I will risk and accept arrest to oppose this injustice.
This is my country. Liberty is my most precious right besides that of life, and it is a gift from God, deriving from natural law, not a grant from any government, just or unjust.
This is my time to act. I will not comply. I will not be complicit in injustice, or allow it by my inaction. I will not comply.
ActsFive29. I will ACT–5pm, September 29.”
There you have it. As radical, crazy, extreme, and ridiculous as it seems – it is for truth, life, and liberty that I will stand, pray, and fight. I know that many do not agree with this event or my participation in it, and so I’ve prayerfully committed to another post that will be coming soon. I want my generation to understand why faith and politics must go hand in hand. It will be controversial, I’m sure – but I am merely an instrument to be used by the most high God, and where He goes, I will go. What He says, I will say. What He asks me to do, I will do. I must obey God rather than man. Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney said to me, “Christianity isn’t safe. If it’s safe, it’s not Christianity.”
I pray that as a church, we have the courage to stand when all looks hopeless and when all seems lost. I pray that we come together and crush apathy underfoot as we march onward in this ever-present fight for truth and justice in a broken and confused world. I pray that many will join us in Washington DC as we fight for the future of the church and the legacy of our Founding Fathers. I pray for protection, compassion, unity, and most of all – for God to be glorified in our suffering as well as our success.
“I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child.” -Mother Teresa
This is a picture from last October of my boss, Brandi Swindell, and I holding signs during a protest in front of the Iranian Interests Section in Washington DC. Oh, how I wish everyone could’ve seen the faces of the men when they saw two young women yelling, hollering, and protesting in front of their offices. I’m sure that to some of the leaders of a country where religious freedom and women’s rights are non-existent, seeing a couple of hardcore Jesus-lovin’ gals in boots, heels, and feather earrings was… interesting.
Brandi and I were protesting with Reverend Pat Mahoney, calling out to the leaders of Iran to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from prison. Pastor Nadarkhani was imprisoned for his Christian faith and was on death row for 1,062 days. He was released and freed from his charges yesterday, and is now home with his family. (You can read more about it here.)
So, to me… it seems that arrest, protesting, and prayer can stir up a nation and not only set the captives free, but glorify the name of God around the world. The nations of the world came together, and fought and prayed for Pastor N’s release. How beautiful the church can be! Freedom of religion IS a basic human right, and politics determine whether or not that human right is violated or given to the people as it should be.
So here’s a shout out to all those Christians out there who think that loving Jesus means staying out of the political arena:
Maybe it’s time to prayerfully re-think your position.
I’m sure Pastor Nadarkhani wishes he could vote and be involved in a democracy to ensure that his children will never have to face prison time for loving Jesus. I also bet his wife wishes she lived in a country where women’s rights were being fought for, and where men and women can stand up and speak on behalf of the voiceless. To live in a country where we can vote, speak up, and truly make a difference without fear of being put on death row is a beautiful gift.
I challenge those of you who think that politics are a waste of our “oh-so-holy time” to seek the Lord on this subject, with humility and surrender, and listen for His voice. I challenge you to ask Him to show you how you can be a voice for religious freedom around the world.
Public policy is what allows us to live out our faith in loyalty and freedom to our God, and politics shape public policy.
Let go of apathy, and get involved.
Heed the Call. Join the Cause.
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” -Acts 5:29
In his speech at the Planned Parenthood rally at the DNC last night, the mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, said this:
‘Then I heard something that is one of the reflections, an echo of some of the most insulting things we’ve been hearing for a long time,’ Booker said, referring to watching the Republican National Convention. ‘I heard people stand up and say, “I love women.” I heard people stand up: “I’ve got a sister. I’ve got a mother.”‘
‘That’s like saying you’re not a bigot ’cause you have a black friend,’ Booker retorted, drawing cheers and applause from the crowd. ‘That’s like saying I love Latinos, I go to Taco Bell every week. That is like saying that you are a person that is just and right because you know what, you like Jewish people.’
‘But I’ll tell you what you say, you say it with your words,’ he continued. ‘You say it with your lips. You preach it from on high. But when it comes to your actions, when it comes to your deeds, it comes to what you do every day, you are denigrating those very people you claim to love. And so I don’t understand how somebody can say they love women when they are denying women access to health care, when they are denying women strategies to protect their life, when they are implementing policies that undermine all the ground that we have gained,’ he concluded, saying he was speaking not only about women’s progress, but also about the country’s progress.” (Full article can be found here)
What Mr. Mayor here is saying, is that those who claim to be pro-life and also claim to love women are big ol’ giant hypocrites. If that’s not your understanding of this quote, then please – I’d love to hear what you think he was trying to say in the comment space available. Truly – I want to hear. As for me – I heard Mr. Booker loud and clear.
As you are all well aware (and if you are not, you will be after this post), I have my opinions and I flaunt, voice, and share them shamelessly. So, since I know you’re all waiting on pins and needles to hear my thoughts, I’ve decided to write Mr. Booker a letter on this blog.
Dear Mr. Booker,
Thank you for taking a stand for women’s rights and women’s health on a political and public level. I truly respect and admire men that get into the trenches and speak up on behalf of women. Although we have differing viewpoints, I suppose your involvement in the heated abortion debate is better than the apathy that has been so present in the years since Roe V. Wade.
Thank you also for being so kind and diplomatic. The reference to Taco Bell was especially educational. Oops – did sarcasm sneak into this letter? Let me try again.
Looks like I have nothing left to say, except to tell you that I do love women. Just because I oppose abortion, does not mean that I do not love women. A recent Gallup poll (you’re familiar with these, I presume) found that 51% of young adult Americans identify themselves as pro-life. I totally agree with you, sir – I’m sure that not ONE of them loves women.
Oops… There’s that dang sarcasm again…
Although I’m sure I seem a bit catty, I can assure you that I am praying for you and the incredible impact you have made on the beautiful city of Newark. I only pray that you can someday put your big boy pants on, man up, and stand for the unborn in your community, who are worth just as much and deserve just as much of a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as the kids in your inner city schools.
I saw this photo today:
I’d like to give my disclaimer right now, before I give my opinion:
If you have ever been touched by the pain of abortion in any way, or anyone close to you has – we serve a loving God, and only one drop of Christ’s blood will cleanse us of past sin, hurt, and mistakes.
That being said, let me continue. When I look at the picture of those signs being held up, an anger and frustration and rage rises up in my heart. My eyes well up with tears and I feel like going somewhere and going New Jersey housewife on life – table flipping, holes punched in walls, stilettos stomping down hallways and all. However, God’s Word says that human anger does not produce the righteousness that He desires, so instead, I put my activist heels on and go here, where my frustration can be used for good:
Stanton Healthcare. A life-affirming medical clinic and one of the leading forces in the pro-life movement, founded by pro-life activist Brandi Swindell. Stanton is the new face of pro-life America, and the new face of women’s health.
I will have a lot more to say in future blog posts about abortion and the pro-life revolution, but all I to say right now is that the real war on women is not about taking away legalized abortion or defunding Planned Parenthood, like the pro-choicers say it is. The real war on women is not about birth control or the right to visit a Planned Parenthood for a mammogram. The real war on women has nothing to do with “Code Pink” and their embarrassing tactics to make sure abortion stays legal.
The real war on women has to do with the fact that every day, every minute, and every second, women are dishonored and stripped of their dignity by the abortion industry. Women in our nation who consider themselves to be pro-choice have been fighting for what they think is a right and a freedom, but instead, they (unintentionally and without realizing it) exploit a generation of women as tools to be used by money-hungry organizations like Planned Parenthood and the sex industry.
Studies and statistics have proven again and again that Planned Parenthood is not, in fact, the right choice for women. After botched abortions, countless legal battles, undercover investigations that have proven their support for pimps who sell sex with underage girls and their willingness to break laws to perform sex-selection abortions, many women have started asking questions. And although a number of women claim that Planned Parenthood has helped them in some way, I must take a stance and say that I value your opinion, but I strongly disagree. I see girls daily who have been traumatized and broken by their visits to Planned Parenthood, and I can not look anyone in the eyes and tell them honestly that I believe Planned Parenthood helps women.
In one of the comments on this blog post, a reader was concerned I am not compassionate toward women who are pro-choice or support Planned Parenthood. I so appreciate the input and advice, but I feel the need to disagree again, and make it clear that I have been to Planned Parenthood a number of times, and I stand on my statement that Planned Parenthood has no right in the fight for women or their dignity.
I am a woman.
I believe in women, I fight for women, I love women, and I will lay my life down every day for the rest of my life to see women honored and loved as they should be. Women deserve better than abortion.
Time to step aside, Planned Parenthood. There’s some new gals in town.
“Be strong and courageous.” -Deuteronomy 31:6
I’m having “a moment.”
In my house after a long day of driving, working, and then staying up too late laughing with my roommates. Sitting in my gorgeous black and white paisley chair I got as a housewarming gift. Eating Reese’s peanut butter cups and thinking about how I’m going to have to make two trips to the gym tomorrow so I don’t feel guilty. Watching support for this blog pour in left and right. Thinking about… Everything. I’m 22, single, I drive a 2002 Honda, I quit going to college to chase my non-profit activism dream, and I work at Starbucks to make sure my bills get paid (remember the ‘non-profit’ part of my dream? Didn’t think that one through…). To many people, I’m sure, my life looks like a joke…
I’m “that crazy girl” that used to be a party animal with no self-respect, who’s now chasing after Jesus and sometimes looks like a fool doing it. I’m sure people wonder, “Why does she care so much about abortion? Since when does she have a heart for sexual integrity? Does she realize that she’s Stacey Harder, from La Pine? No amount of Jesus or protesting could ever make all of her wrongs right or wipe her slate clean. No amount of blogging could change the fact that she’s a small town girl with the inevitable future of being stuck.“
I know I don’t owe anyone anything, but I do feel that I owe it to myself and to my unchanging God to throw a rebuttal out there for the world to see. Yes, I am Stacey Harder, from La Pine, Oregon. Yes, I know where I’ve been and what I’ve done, and no – I’m not always proud of it, but I don’t ever regret it. It doesn’t define me anymore (no matter how much other people think it does). Yes, as a matter of fact, my slate has been wiped clean. Yes, I do care about ending abortion and recreating a culture of sexual integrity and self-worth.
And yes. I do believe in revival.
I survived Roe v. Wade, but Roe v. Wade won’t survive me.
I lost my identity for awhile in the sea of loneliness, desperation, and bad choices – but a lot of little girls are going to avoid that path because I’m going to speak up, share my story, and say, “Not on my watch, beautiful. You’re worth more.”
I am a small town girl, and I love country music – but my big heels and my even bigger dreams took me straight to the city of trees.
I don’t regret one minute – the bad, the good, or the normal. I love every single part of my life – then, and now.
The same freedom is available to every single person in this dark, seemingly hopeless world. All you have to do is stand, and everything else will rise with you.
If you have thoughts, questions, comments, or just want to learn more about how you can fight in the pro-life trenches:
For my first post, I want to be short and sweet (if you know anything about me, you’re probably laughing at the thought of Stacey being ‘sweet’).
As much as I think that they made a mistake by bringing me on board this blog-adventure known as “The Civic Arena,” I have decided I won’t fight it and I will humbly and graciously accept the invitation to be a contributor. What an honor it is to be chosen as a voice for an entire generation of justice warriors.
I’m known by those closest to me as a loud-mouthed, passionate, outspoken, hardcore, sometimes-way-too-intense-but-has-good-intentions kind of gal. People tell me I’m intimidating – I’m still trying to figure out if it’s because I always have 4 inch heels on, or because my voice never goes below “megaphone” level. Both, possibly?
Anyways, the point of this post is this: Purpose.
My purpose in being passionate is for one reason, and one reason alone:
To show the world that no matter how far, low, scared, bruised, beaten, nice, broken, used, abused, good, judged, mistreated, scandalous, fake, promiscuous or mean you may have been – it’s never too late, and you’re never too lost.
You’re never too ordinary, too boring, or too talentless for the One who saved me from my own personal hell to swoop down and rescue & redeem your life, as well.
Every time I post something, it’s because I’m passionate for those who feel no passion and have no purpose. I pray that you read, and that whether you like it, hate it, love it, or disagree with it, you still realize that the reason I pour my heart out online and hold up signs in Washington DC is because I love people. I want them to feel confident enough to hold up their own sign, with their own story, for their own specific, unique, and beautiful purpose.