Most of mine were funny. Many of them slightly embarrassing. But as I thought about that period of my life, I started noticing something. A lot of what my 90s church experience was about involved one thing: Defining Christianity in terms of cutting ourselves off from the “world.”
It was about having our own music. Our own movies. Our own sayings. Our own logos. It wasn’t about helping redeem culture, it was about receding from it. It was about working hard to show you were better than all the stuff and bad people around you, thus convincing people they just had to have what you had.
Who remembers this? You shouldn’t wear Abercrombie clothes, because they use scandalous models! Take a stand by wearing the “Abreadcrumb & Fish” shirt instead!
Here’s the funny thing: We retreated and then just couldn’t believe when culture continued to get worse. Then we’d pull back even more, treating it and those involved like mange-ravaged dogs that were to be pitied but avoided. You could pet them if you had gloves on, but don’t get too close otherwise.
But what did we think was going to happen if we decided to put up our walls and try to protect ourselves from what was going on “out there” instead of engaging it? If all we did was point out the burning house and shake our heads instead of caring about those inside? It’s as if we were saying: You poor person. You should come outside. Don’t you see how much better it is out here? I’d come in, but it’s too hot and I don’t want to get burned.
Are we supposed to be different? Absolutely. But what if being different wasn’t focused on a checklist of things we shouldn’t do, and more about what we should?
Listen, I’m not talking about always ignoring the bad and only focusing on the warm fuzzies, (and there are certain lines we should draw and not cross). But what I am talking about is more grace, more love, more being “for” and less being “against.”* More listening and less listing of wrongs. More relationships and less trying to always be right.
So that brings me back to the opening question: What should a Christian look like?
I don’t mean appearance. What I’m talking about is more of the essence of “look.” Actions. Deeds. Words. How should a Christian be?
I don’t mean to sound so simple, but I think it’s about being honest. Of course there are certain core beliefs anyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ must hold. But how do those beliefs affect us?
Shouldn’t they compel us to admit who we really are?
We do the things we don’t want to do.
We make mistakes.
There are things we’re sure about.
There are things we doubt.
Some of us are strong.
A lot more of us are weak.
Christians should be authentic. Human. Be people who have their issues but also have real hope that their struggles don’t define them. People with a desire to live for something greater than themselves. People who know they’re going to fail and admit it. People whose “don’t dos” are a result of wanting to live a life of more compelling “dos.”
Take a look at those we’ve filmed over the years. Addicts. Athletes. Rappers. Strippers. Bad dads. Bad husbands. Bad shape. They’re not people who have it all put together. They’re people who have been put back together.
Let me put it this way: I’m not a Christian because I don’t struggle and I have it all figured out, I’m a Christian because I do struggle and I don’t have all the answers. I recognize there’s something and someone outside of me that does. He loved me enough to offer me a better way, the best way. And that love compels me to greater and better things, and stirs in me a desire to share it with others.
John Piper, a man much wiser than I’ll ever be, puts it like this: “A Christian is a person living under the constraint of Christ’s love. Christianity is not merely believing a set of ideas about Christ’s love. It is an experience of being constrained by that love.”
And you know what? A silly t-shirt with a fake logo on it was never going to convey that.
*If after you read “more love” you whispered “more power” you were truly deep into the 90s to 2000s church culture. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this video.
Tim Shaw is dying. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not a prediction. That’s fact.
But while that’s important for you to know, here’s what’s more important: While dying, he’s living. Like, really living.
Shaw is a former NFL linebacker. That means he was once one of the most finely-tuned human specimens there is, playing in a league filled with elite athletes. Now it takes him five minutes to put his socks on.
He has ALS. And unless you lived in a hole last year, you know what that is from the hundreds of videos showing people dumping cold water on themselves to raise awareness. It worked.
But now that everyone has dried off, the reality is there are people still suffering from the degenerative disease. They’re dying. Like Tim Shaw.
Shaw is normal. He struggles with anger, sadness, and fear. How could he not? But struggling with those things is different than letting them consume him.
“I believe people are made for a purpose,” Shaw told The Tennesseean recently. “Sometimes specifically, God says, ‘This is what I made you for.’ In my situation, I believe He will make good out of every situation. He didn’t have ALS planned for me. But He prepared for me for the tough time He knew I’d be going through.
“It doesn’t make things easier and it doesn’t take (ALS) away. But it gives me peace. There’s also sadness in there. There’s fear. There’s anger. But above all, there’s peace.”
As I write this, a song plays on my computer. It couldn’t be more appropriate:
You make me brave.
You make me brave.
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.
You make me brave.
You make me brave.
No fear can hinder now the promises you made.
Shaw has traveled to Brazil to dig wells and Haiti to serve in orphanages since he was diagnosed with the disease. That’s incredible. The man who’s dying is spending some of his last days helping others.
“I know myself from experience that when I do things selfishly, I don’t feel nearly as good or nearly as fulfilled as doing things for others,” he told the paper. “It’s kind of a lesson I’ve learned throughout my life and a lesson I would love everyone to test. Go ahead and do something for someone and don’t tell anyone about it. You’ll have this overwhelmingly joyful and peaceful and fulfilling feeling.”
See what I mean? He doesn’t just wear a bracelet that says he’s Second, he embodies it. That challenges me. I hope it challenges you.
Tim Shaw, wearing an I Am Second wristband. (Source: Twitter.com/TShawsTruth)
It reminds me of someone else’s story I heard while working in the news business. Ethan Hallmark. Ethan was 13 years old when he died almost a year ago on September 13. But like Shaw, that means nothing compared to how he lived.
Obviously I want to beat this disease, but I’m not going to be that sad if I don’t. … Of course I want to live a long life, who doesn’t? I want to watch my sister and brothers go to middle school with me, go to high school, watch them graduate. Even I want to graduate. It’s not really my plan though.
And he touched lives.
My eyes are wet. And I’ve seen those videos several times.
Ethan Hallmark. Tim Shaw. One truly lived. The other is truly living.
It was a Tuesday. If you cared about sports, you were gearing up for the NCAA tournament. But in St. Louis, Missouri, Rams coach Jeff Fisher was making sure you couldn’t ignore the NFL.
There, the 20-year head coach was taking part in a blockbuster move that would send his quarterback to the Philadelphia Eagles. The teams would trade starting signal-callers in a surprising move. He was hailed as a genius for getting the better end of the deal.
Two teams, with millions of dollars on the line, swapping players like a playground game of Old Maid.
“The answers weren’t there. They just were not there,” Fisher says about that time.
At some point he found himself sitting in a vehicle with a friend. As they drove around Fisher’s property, they decided to pull off. It just happened to be on a bridge. That detail has stayed with Fisher for some reason.
That’s where his friend asked him a very pointed question about his life: “Do you really, honestly believe that Jesus Christ is your lord and your savior?”
Fisher said he did. But his friend pushed: “What does that mean?”
“And I paused, and I couldn’t answer that,” he says.
They kept talking. Eventually, he found the answer.
The Jeff Fisher film isn’t long. It probably takes less time to watch it than it does to go through a car wash. It’s not overly profound. It’s not complicated or jaw-dropping. But there’s something that I really like about it.*
Here it is: The most important day of Fisher’s story involved the front seat of a parked car on a bridge.
Just picture that for a moment.
The man who’s desire to finish first has him swapping quarterbacks on a Tuesday and coaching in front of hundreds of thousands on a Sunday, became second on the side the road. It’s rugged. Raw. Real. It’s what Hollywood tries to capture in a movie to make it feel like we know the characters.
I feel like Fisher’s story is a lot of people’s story. How many of us have been disillusioned by the church or life, but finally found meaning when we decided to stop driving away and just pull the car over?
Jeff Fisher the man, not Jeff Fisher the untouchable NFL coach, did.
I can only imagine he was wearing a flannel shirt when it happened. Just like in one of those life-imitating movies.
*One other thing that’s a close second: He sat down and made the film the day before the 2015 draft. When you think about the incredible dedication this man has to his job, that’s amazing.
Monday morning. 10 o’clock a.m. on the East Coast. You were probably at work. Maybe grumbling about the “Mondays.” Or maybe you slept in, called in, or cashed in. It was, after all, Monday morning. While you were doing whatever it is you were doing, a 62-year-old woman was fighting back tears telling one of the most beautiful stories of a life I’ve heard in a while. A life lived second.
Source: ‘TODAY’ show screen shot.
The woman is someone you might recognize. Kathie Lee Gifford. She spent years alongside Regis on the show named after them. For the last eight years she’s been hosting the fourth hour of the “TODAY” show. Last Sunday, August 9, her husband died unexpectedly. You may recognize his name, too. Frank Gifford. He was a legendary Giants football player and host of “Monday Night Football.” Chances are you or someone you know grew up listening to his voice.
I say all that so that you understand better the magnitude of what Kathie Lee did on Monday morning, her first day back on TV after Frank’s passing. She could have said anything, asked for anything, screamed anything. She could have retired right then and there with a bitter goodbye and we all would have understood.
But she didn’t. She decided to do something else. She told Frank’s story. For eight minutes she told his story.
“As a young child, Frank asked Jesus into his heart,” she said, explaining that the Hall of Famer grew up with nothing during the Depression. “And that remained with him for the rest of his life. He strayed from his faith on occasion but his faith never left him.”
“His world got smaller as his God got bigger and he’d want you to know that, that he died in complete peace,” she added. “He knew every sin he’d ever committed was forgiven. He had the hope that he would be with the Lord, and that we would some day be with him as well. That is the foundation of the Christian faith, is forgiveness, grace, and hope.”
“And those of you who are hurting today or feel hopeless, it might be the answer for you.”
She stopped herself.
“In fact, I know it’s the answer for you.”
Pause for a moment and think about that. A grieving wife on national TV so convinced about what her husband had she couldn’t help but share it.
Angry? I know it’s the answer for you.
Discontent? I know it’s the answer for you.
Struggling to find purpose? I know it’s the answer for you.
Hurting? I know it’s the answer for you.
Facing a divorce? I know it’s the answer for you.
Let that sink in.
Then there’s the story about the stone. One small stone.
See, Kathie Lee and Frank took a trip to Israel a few years back. There, their friend took them down to a stream. It’s said to be the same stream that the historical king, David, went down to and picked up five stones from as he prepared to take on a seemingly impossible task: the giant Goliath.
“The miracle wasn’t that the shepherd boy was able to kill the giant,” she explained. “The miracle was that the shepherd boy, who had all the skills he would ever need in life, trusted in a living God. Not a religion, but a living God.”
Frank grabbed a stone.
That moment left a lasting impression on him. In fact, it changed him so much that when people came over to his house he wouldn’t take them to his Hall of Fame bust or his Emmy awards, but rather the small stone he plucked out of the stream.
That started a tradition in the family. The couple’s kids, Cassidy and Cody, both got stones when they graduated high school and college shortly after.
“And we said to her, ‘Cass, where you going to throw your stone for the kingdom of God? What is your stone and where are you going to throw it?’ A week later, Cody graduated from college … he got a stone.”
She had a challenge.
“If you ever leave a legacy for your children, let it be that you’ve taught them friendship with God, and that you’ve taught them to find their stone. And show it, show it. Throw it hard and well and transform this hurting world that needs God’s love so much.”
“Frank would want you to do this today: If you see a stone somewhere, pick it up and ask yourself that question, ‘What is my stone? What is the gift that only I can do in this world to make it a better place? And then spend the rest of your life trying to throw it well.”
That got me thinking.
At the front entrance of my office building, there just happens to be some stones. I walk by them all the time without giving them a second thought. In fact, as I wrote this, I had to pause, walk down to the entrance, and make sure I wasn’t making that up. I grabbed a stone and decided to write out what Frank stood for: a life of being second.
The author with his stone #mysecondstone. (Source: I Am Second)
If we feel the same way, I think we should all take her advice. Find a stone today. Then, “Spend the rest of your life trying to throw it well.”
“Haven’t Even Kissed,” “I’ll Wait for You, Love,” “BRAVE Love” — these are just a few titles of the songs and book concepts I’ve written in regards to relationships. Am I an expert on romance? Absolutely not. But I feel as though I’ve been undeservedly given certain people in my life to help navigate what it means to give and receive love in an honest and adventurous way. These guides that led me along the journey had many different names, like Contentment, Hope, Disappointment and Insecurity but the three characters that have held my hand the longest and strongest are named Patricia, Anthony and Joel.
This was my adventure- perhaps you can join me in living this kind of BRAVE Love.
1. Love Is Not Self-Seeking
It only took one abusive relationship for Patricia Castillo to desperately seek out her worth in God’s love. It was in that seeking that she found and shared with her husband and children what selflessness looks like. When she first met my father, he was in debt as a law student but she worked to provide for them both as he ceaselessly studied for the bar exam. He didn’t have money but he had determination, the kind of passion that inspires a woman to stand beside her man and give of herself until the vision is achieved. It was her words that allowed me to love a man not for the things he owns but for the character he shows, “Look for a man who works hard and stops at nothing to accomplish what God has called him to do. When you find him, partner with and pray for him always.”
2. Love Always Protects
Anthony Moreno Peters is an overcomer. Son to an abusive, alcoholic father, it took a divine power, greater than his own to make him into the leader that he would become. He’s a judge, author and speaker but I know him as Dad. It was his consistent protection and love in raising me that led me to understand the true meaning of a “strong man.” I remember crying on his lap after another failed date, asking this question, “Is anyone ever going to be good enough?” His response was consistent throughout those years of dating, “Wait for the man who will cherish you and love you. Who will call you the apple of his eye and the pearl of great prize.”
3. Love is Patient
Joel Smallbone is a hunky, holy Aussie with the face of a Greek garden statue…but don’t worry, when I first met him, I didn’t let him know this. Initially, I tried to hide my intimidation with snarky comments like, “Why do you talk like that? Do you think your accent is cool or something?” I don’t know what he saw in the 17 year old, thick brow, overconfident version of myself but I sure am glad he saw it. When we finally got around to having a mature conversation, I mentioned wanting to save my first kiss for my wedding day to which he calmly replied, “As long as God has called you to do so, I completely support that decision.” Then began the beautiful ebb and flow of our relationship. I would make some outlandish statement and he would respond in patience and peace. As things progressed, my strong feelings for him scared me to the point of wanting to turn away. He would always give me time and gently encourage me to come out of my hiding place and see the wonderful world of fearless love. The lessons learned in watching Joel interact with others, press into God’s voice, and love me so purely has shaped me into the woman I am today. Our first kiss at the altar was the exclamation mark to the phrase he lived by and shared with me many times, “Whenever you see Jesus in the Bible, he gives extravagantly, never holding anything back. I want to love like that.”
“Ni siquiera han besado”, “Voy a esperar por ti, amor”, “BRAVE Love” – estos son sólo algunos títulos de las canciones y los conceptos de libros que he escrito en lo que respecta a las relaciones. ¿Soy una experta en el romance? Absolutamente no. Pero me siento como si me han dado inmerecidamente ciertas personas en mi vida que me han ayudado a navegar lo que significa dar y recibir amor de una manera honesta y aventurera. Estas guías que me llevó a lo largo de la jornada tuvieron muchos nombres diferentes, como la alegría, la esperanza, la decepción y la inseguridad, pero los tres personajes que han ocupado mi mano el más largo y más fuerte se nombran Patricia, Anthony y Joel.
Esta fue mi aventura- tal vez puedes unirte a mí en vivir este tipo de amor BRAVE [valiente].
1. El amor no es egoísta
Sólo hizo falta una relación abusiva para que Patricia Castillo buscara desesperadamente su valor en el amor de Dios. Fue en esa búsqueda que encontró y compartió con su esposo e hijos que significa el sacrificio hecho en amor. La primera vez que conoció a mi padre, que estaba en deuda como estudiante de derecho, pero trabajó para proveer para ellos tanto en lo que estudió sin cesar para el examen de la barra. No tenía dinero, pero él tenía la determinación, la clase de pasión que inspira a una mujer para estar al lado de su hombre y dar de sí misma hasta que se logre la visión. Fueron sus palabras que me permitieron amar a un hombre no por las cosas que posee, sino por el personaje que muestra, “Encuentra un hombre que trabaja duro y se detiene ante nada para lograr lo que Dios le ha llamado a hacer. Cuando lo encuentres, únete y ora por él siempre “.
2. El amor siempre protege
Anthony Moreno Peters es un vencedor. Hijo de un padre alcohólico y abusivo, tomó un poder divino, para convertirlo en el líder que se convertiría. Él es un juez, autor y orador, pero yo lo conozco como papá. Fue su protección constante y amor en criarme que me llevó a comprender el verdadero significado de un “hombre fuerte”. Recuerdo llorar junto a él después de otra cita que no terminó bien, haciendo esta pregunta: “¿Hay alguien que va a ser lo suficientemente bueno? “Su respuesta fue constante a través de los años de noviazgo,” Espera a el hombre que va a valorar y amarte. Quién te llamará la niña de sus ojos y la perla de gran precio “.
3. El amor es paciente
Joel Smallbone es un guapo, Aussie con el rostro de un jardín de estatua griego … pero no te preocupes, cuando lo conocí, yo no le hice saber esto. Al principio, traté de ocultar mi intimidación con comentarios sarcásticos como: “¿Por qué hablas así? ¿Crees que tu acento es “cool” o algo así? “No sé lo que vio en una joven de 17 años, con cejas gruesas, un exceso de confianza en mí misma, pero estoy alegre que lo vio. Cuando al fin tuvimos una conversación madura, mencioné querer salvar mi primer beso para mi día de boda, lo cual él respondió con calma: “Mientras Dios te ha llamado a hacerlo, yo apoyo completamente esa decisión.” Entonces empezó la hermosa historia de nuestra relación. Aveces yo hacía alguna declaración descabellada y él respondía con paciencia. Las cosas progresaron y mis fuertes sentimientos por él me asustaban, hasta el punto de querer darle la espalda. Él siempre me daba tiempo y suavemente me animava a salir de mi escondite y ver el maravilloso mundo de amor sin miedo. Aprendí muchas lecciones en ver a Joel interactuar con los demás, escuchando la voz de Dios, y lo puramente meamado, lo cual me ha ayudado a ser la mujer que soy hoy en día. Nuestro primer beso en el altar era el signo de exclamación a la frase que vivió y compartió conmigo muchas veces, “Cada vez que vemos a Jesús en la Biblia, él da extravagante, no reservarse nada. Quiero amar de esa manera “.
Is your marriage falling apart? Are you losing sleep over your family’s debt? Every year the amount of broken homes continues to grow. In 2000, 60% of all children were born into broken homes. The health of our economy isn’t as it should be. What does this all mean? Does all this leave us helpless and doomed?
Ironically, Alex Kendrick, whose personal I am Second film debuted two–plus years ago, has a suggestion. “It’s time to go to war,” says Alex and his brother Stephen, the producers of the upcoming film, The War Room.
“Looking at the state of our culture, we see it has become more alarming each year. We are too divided and dispersed. The church is not unified,” states Alex Kendrick. This conviction pierced the hearts of the Kendrick Brothers, the producers of past films Fireproof, Courageous, and Facing the Giants. With their current film project, they call the church of America to fall on their knees and go to war in prayer.
This family friendly drama, The War Room, is about learning to begin all your battles on your knees and learning who your real enemy is. This film focuses on the couple, Tony and Elizabeth Jordan, as they go through personal, marital, and spiritual problems. Rising to the challenge of a wise older woman, Elizabeth Jordan decides to take a stand and combat the difficulties in her marriage. She realizes the anger towards her husband and her children have exhausted her family. After setting up her War Room, Elizabeth fights for her marriage while on her knees in prayer.
The message of this film convicted Alex Kendrick to aggressively fight for his family and country. Sharing his personal experience with the filming, Alex remarked, “It has certainly changed my prayer life. We went from doing it occasionally 3-4 times a week to regularly and more so individually. This morning I was on my knees crying out to God to be with our family, our culture, our church, with ISIS situation, and our family debt.”
Not only convicted, but empowered by the film, Alex confesses, “Our marriage has gotten stronger. My wife and I have a better understanding of how to challenge and disciple our children. It gives us a greater passion and we take more seriously how we spend our money and engage our culture.”
Even their children have been affected. “Our kids are adopting our standards little by little. Even though we have been considered a strong christian family, we have been pressed to get more serious about our faith. My wife and I have watched our kids start doing their own devotional times without our prompting. They choose to not be apart of things detrimental to their lives. They stand up and choose to be better.”
Through the film, the Kendrick Brothers go to war for their country and their families. Now they challenge us with a battle cry to join them on the battlefield and fight. The War Room comes out late August of 2015, along with other resources including a study for couples and a book called, The Battle Plan for Prayer. To watch the trailer for this upcoming film, click here.
¿Tu matrimonio se está desmoronando? ¿Estás perdiendo el sueño por la deuda de tu familia? Cada año la cantidad de hogares rotos aumenta. En el 2000, 60% de los niños nacieron en hogares rotos. La salud de nuestra economía no es como debería ser. ¿Qué significa todo esto? ¿Nos deja todo esto indefensos y condenados?
Irónicamente, Alex Kendrick, cuyo video de Yo Soy Segundo debutó hace más de años, tiene una sugerencia. “Es tiempo de ir a la guerra”, dijeron Alex y su hermano Steven, quienes son los productores de la nueva película, The War Room.
“Mirando el estado de nuestra cultura, vemos que se vuelve más alarmante con cada año. Estamos muy divididos y dispersos. La iglesia no está unificada”, resalta Alex Kendrick. Esta convicción tocó el corazón de los hermanos Kendrick, los productores de varias películas como A Prueba de Fuego, Reto de Valientes, y Enfrentando a los Gigantes. Con su nuevo proyecto, llaman a la iglesia de América a ponerse de rodillas e ir a la guerra en oración.
Este drama familiar, The War Room, trata sobre aprender a iniciar todas tus batallas en tus rodillas y en aprender quién es tu verdadero enemigo. Esta película se concentra en la pareja, Tony y Elizabeth Jordan, mientras ellos pasan por problemas personales, maritles y espirituales. Enfrentándose al desafío de una sabia mujer mayor, Elizabeth Jordan decide tomar su posición y enfrentar las dificultades en su matrimonio. Ella se da cuenta que el enojo que sentía hacia su marido y hacia sus hijos había cansado a su familia. Depués de montar su Cuarto de Guerra, ella pelea por su matrimonio mientras ora.
El mensaje de esta película comprometió a Alex Kendrick a pelear agresivamente por su familia y por su país. Compartiendo su experiencia personal con la película, Alex remarcó, “Ciertamente cambió mi vida de oración. Pasamos de hacerlo de 3 a 4 veces por semana, a hacerlo más regularmente e aún más individualmente. Esta mañana estaba en mis rodillas pidiéndole a Dios para que este con nuestra familia, cultura e iglesia, con la situación de ISIS y por la deuda familiar”.
No sólo comprometido, sino empoderado por la película, Alex confiesa, “Nuestro matrimonio se ha vuelto más fuerte. Mi esposa y yo ahora tenemos más entendimiento en cómo desafiar y disciplinar a nuestros hijos. Nos da más pasión y ahora tenemos más cuidado en cómo invertir nuestro dinero e involucrar nuestra cultura.”
Incluso sus hijos han sido afectados. “Nuestros hijos han adoptado nuestros estándares poco a poco. Aunque somos considerados como una familia fuerte y cristiana, somos presionados por volvernos más serios con respecto a nuestra fé. MI esposa y yo hemos visto a nuestros hijos comenzar a hacer sus devocionales sin necesidad de que se los digamos. Ellos han escogido no apartarse de las cosas no perjudiciales para sus vidas. Ellos se ponen en pie y escogen ser mejores”.
Por medio de la película, los hermanos Kendrick van a la guerra por su país y sus familias. Ahora ellos nos retan a unirnos en ellos con un grito de guerra en el campo de batalla y pelear. The War Room llega se estrenará a finales de Agosto del 2015, junto con otros recursos incluyendo un estudio para parejas y un libro llamado, The Battle Plan for Prayer (El plan de batallas con oración). Para mirar el trailer de ésta película da click aquí.
“No escogimos el Síndrome de Down, el Síndrome de Down nos escogió a nosotros”
La respetable carrera de Albert Pujols en la Liga Mayor de Baseball ha tenido momentos frecuentes en el foco de los medios. Quinientas carreras de home run hacen eso. Sin embargo, no fue sino hasta hace poco que audiencias pudieron tener un vistazo de su pasión más allá del baseball, Dios y la familia. Cualquier conversación acerca de esas pasiones, eventualmente lleva al tema del Síndrome de Down.
Pujols se sentó con Yo Soy Segundo para un entrevista sincera, detallando cómo fue que conoció al amor de su vida Deidre y a su hija Isabella, quién fue diagnosticada con Síndrome de Down tres meses antes de su encuentro. El amor y el cuidado que Deidre demostraba hacia Isabella atrajo a Pujols hacia su futura esposa y orgullosamente tomó como si fuera suya a Isabella cuando contrajeron matrimonio en el 2000.
El diagnóstico de Síndrome de Down puede ser una experiencia de confusión emocional que impacta a más de 6.000 familias al año y con gastos médicos superiores de hasta 12 veces mayores que una familia promedio. Como madre soltera en ese entonces, Deidre sabía en pocos minutos después del nacimiento de Isabella que ella tenía Síndrome de Down. Preguntó a muchos padres que han enfrentado este desafío y le expresaron un sentido de alegría y llamado al criar a sus hijos. Para Albert y Deidre, este llamado tomó la forma de la Fundación Familia Pujols (Pujols Family Foundation / PFF) que empezó en el 2005 a dar conciencia acerca del Síndrome de Down.
La fundación crea conciencia, provee esperanza, y crea eventos memorables y de ayuda por familias impactadas por esta condición. Este trabajo se extiende más lejos de los Estados Unidos y del hogar nativo de Albert, República Dominicana, a ayudar a los niños de escasos recursos a través de la educación, ayuda médica y bienes tangibles. En total, PFF anfitriona más de 100 eventos cada año alrededor del mundo.
“Es mi pasión. Tener a un niño con necesidades especiales cambia todo en tu vida. También, haber crecido en la República Dominicana me dió un entendimiento de la pobreza mundial”, remarca Pujols.
De todos los eventos organizacionales, los bailes son sus favoritos. “Somos anfitriones de bailes para niños y jóvenes con Síndrome de Down. Más de 1.000 personas con Síndrome de Down asisten a uno de nuestro bailes a través del país. Me encanta ver la felicidad en sus caras. ¡Me encanta verlos bailar! Es una noche de pura felicidad y alegría. En verdad es el lugar más feliz de la Tierra”
Cuando Albert y Deidre viajan alrededor del mundo, son transformados e inspirados por las familias y los niños que conocen. Mientras las necesidades especiales llegaron a ellos como una bola curva, Albert y su esposa lo han convertido en un home run para muchas familias a lo largo del mundo.
A pesar de la exitosa carrera de Albert en el baseball, no es más que un medio para el fin. “Dios me ha bendecido con la plataforma del baseball, para que podamos hacer funcionar esto”, compartió Pujols.
Tan demandante como puede ver ser su carrera, él se rehúsa a dejar que eso lo distraiga de su familia. Cuando está acaba de batear, corre por las bases lleno de pasión por su familia y por una gran comunidad con necesidades especiales. En mayo, la fundación celebrará diez años de servir a las familias con Síndrome de Down en los Estados Unidos y República Dominicana.
Para escuchar más acerca la historia de Albert, mira su video de Yo Soy Segundo aquí.
Clearly, Fifty Shades’ mastermind E.L. James is not an expert on dominance and submission. Yet her books and now the movie based on the books glamorize that lifestyle to millions across the globe.
I first encountered the BDSM lifestyle when I received a request from my escort agency to fill a call for a dominatrix role. The phone girl didn’t have anyone to fill this request and asked if I would do it.
At this point in my life, I had been sex trafficked, beaten profusely by my pimp, and finally left him for good. My pimp would beat me and then force me to have sex with him. I never enjoyed the pain—rather I was completely freaked out, afraid, emotionally and physically hurt. This behavior never turned me on; I was completely disgusted by it.
I was pretty bitter from the abuse that I experienced from my sex trafficker and in revenge mode on men. Greedy and hungry to finally be in control–I was curious and wanted to see what this BDSM lifestyle was all about, so I decided to take the call and try my hand at being the dominant. I demanded money and did what was expected of me, channeling “Fallen,” my sex industry name and call girl persona.
What a twist of fate and irony—the severely abused now becoming an abuser and getting paid to do it.
Many of my clients were obsessed with me and continued to call, because in their minds, a fantasy love/relationship had started. As this progressed, I got to know many of them and asked why they enjoyed BDSM. The answers varied: as “a way to let off steam”and “to let go of control”
Some described mother-to-son abusive relationships, physical and sexual relationships with other men, and a handful of important CEOs explained the need to surrender the control they had over others running their stressful companies.
With many of my clients, the more they practiced BDSM, the more intensity they wanted. And like a drug, they were never satisfied—they always wanted a more severe beating. Once they tried one thing, they wanted to explore another. That’s where it got really scary for me. What if they end up getting really hurt?
In all of my experience over the years with these men, one thing stands true: underlying their desire to be dominated was a deep-seated hunger and need for love. Many times their sexual desires stemmed from childhood abuse. They wanted to be cared for, watched for, disciplined, and admired. Just like a child.
I believe these men were looking for love through BDSM, and missing the mark—and this is why it never satisfied. Real Love doesn’t dominate. Love doesn’t push. Love’s intent isn’t to create pain. Love’s intent is to create a relationship of peace, safety and security, emotionally and relationally when it comes to intimacy. We know from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 that:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
When you cross the line and hurt someone emotionally and physically, it throws unknowns into the picture: a loss of security, a loss of trust, a loss of honor, a loss of commitment. Broken vows. If you are willing to hurt me physically and emotionally, what else are you willing to do to me? And if I ask you to stop—will you?
BDSM blurs these lines of love. It turns them upside down, and it teaches what we thought was love to become boring and old fashioned, while what we once thought was abuse is sold off as exciting and erotic. These thought processes in the wrong hands can lead us down treacherous roads of accepting abuse as the norm. Normalizing abuse is not the answer to our pain, and it eventually leads to a darker road of more severe abuses.
Spoiler alert: In Fifty Shades Of Grey, Christian Grey was a scared and lonely child who witnessed the murder of his sex-trafficked mother at the hands of her pimp. At 15, he was sexually abused by a woman who taught him the BDSM lifestyle, redirecting his drinking habits and anger issues from his childhood. He eventually becomes a dominant, finds a female who he dominates, humiliates, and by the end of the three books, he marries her, has children with, and together they live happily ever after.
But the roots of his childhood abuse are not dealt with; instead they are excused as the reason for his dominance.
Can someone find true love and happiness while participating in this lifestyle? According to E.L. James they can. But as she’s admitted, she is no BDSM expert, and this story was written as fiction, not truth.
Realistically—are there happy endings? From my personal experience, no. Should you read the books and go and see the movie? Will it enrich your life if you do?
I am not here to tell you what to do, only to give you the truth that I experienced and to remind you that while Fifty Shades glamorizes BDSM this story is 100% fiction. Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t enrich my life; it only revealed a very broken society desperate for answers and relief from pain deep inside their souls.
By Annie Lobert
Annie Lobert is a former high-class escort, a sex trafficking survivor, wife to Oz Fox of Stryper, and the author of Fallen (February 2015).