How to Shop Ethically on Black Friday

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend around $700 on Christmas gifts this year. For many, the shopping has already begun.

My family made the decision to do Christmas differently this year. We are attempting to make this holiday 100% ethical by shopping fair trade, small business, and USA made products. This year, we’ve tried to be more mindful of the way we invest our money, but we are still very new at this. We’ve found that, in small towns, fair trade shopping isn’t an easy task.

Regardless, we’ve developed a plan to tackle our Christmas list in a way we can be proud of and that won’t break the bank. I’ve decided to share the information here, because, as you’ve heard me say before, the way you spend your money matters. We, as consumers, have a very loud voice. If we all made an effort to shop responsibly and ethically this year, we could change the world.

Without further ado, here are some tips for shopping ethically on Black Friday.

1.) Avoid the mall, if possible!

Many stores you will find in the mall contain brands with very little transparency, meaning it’s difficult to find out who made the products and where they were manufactured. JCPenny, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Aeropostale, and other popular chains don’t appear to care much about the humans behind their products. This does not mean that you can’t find ethical gifts in their stores, however. A quick Google search can go a long way when trying to decide whether or not to make a purchase. Brands that are USA made and/or organic are usually a good bet. Patagonia and Prana both sell fair trade merchandise. Alex and Ani bracelets are American made with love and can probably be found in more than one store in your mall. WigWam and Maglite are two other companies that are American made and readily available at many shopping locations.

2.) Think outside of the box

Your Christmas gifts don’t always need to include soaps, lotions, scarves, candles, and all your other typical gift clichés. Go to your local health food store and pick up fair trade chocolate and tea as stocking stuffers! Hit up your local nursery for a gorgeous indoor plant for your green thumbed friends. Purchase concert tickets, ice skating passes, or spa days so that you can share an amazing experience with your loved ones! For your friends and family who seem to have everything, consider making a donation in their honor. For example, there are several organizations through which you can donate chickens, hogs, bees, and more to families in need. Be original, think outside of the box, and give awesome unique gifts that will be memorable.

3.) Search for online deals

This is how hubby and I will be doing the majority of our shopping. We’ve found several fair trade companies we love and trust and we will definitely be keeping an eye out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Some of these companies include PACT, Mitscoots, Love Your Melon, The Root Collective, Krochet Kids, and Trades of Hope. When searching for fair trade companies online, always click on their “About Us” section to learn more and look for the Fair Trade certified logo, typically at the bottom of the webpage.

4.) Support small business

Our little city is blessed with a plethora of unique and beautiful small businesses. We enjoy supporting our local artists, designers, and entrepreneurs. By shopping small, you can feel good about supporting your local economy … and the area entrepreneurs will appreciate your business because they need cash for Christmas shopping, too! So, instead of fighting the crowds at Bath and Body Works, find some nice handmade soap. Buy an original piece of artwork. Purchase handmade scarves from a friend. Go crazy investing in people, not corporations!


I hope you’ve found this to be helpful! As I said, I am new at this whole ethical shopping thing. Last Christmas, it didn’t even cross my mind to check tags and see where my purchases were made. Please spread the word about #fairtrade!

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”  -Anna Lappe

Mitscoots Outfitters

Hello and happy Fair Trade Friday!

If you read last week’s post about Oliberte shoes, it won’t surprise you to know that along with my hubby’s birthday shoes, I gifted him two pairs of socks. He was so enthusiastic about these socks… I guess we’re to that point in our lives where socks make pretty stellar gifts. Ha!

Anyway… I didn’t just get him any socks. I found fair trade socks.

I am so glad I discovered Mitscoots Outfitters! For those of you who make a legitimate effort to shop American made products, you will love this company! The Mitscoots “headquarters” is located in Austin, Texas, but their products are manufactured in California, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Their mission is to help our nation’s homeless by providing job opportunities and essential gear like hats, scarves, and socks.

When you make a purchase of Mitscoots socks, for example, an equal quality pair of socks will be donated to a person in need right here in the U.S. Also, by shopping with Mitscoots, you are enabling their company to hire even more people in their packaging and distribution center in Austin. Who does Mitscoots employ? They hire people who are transitioning out of homelessness!

Mitscoots Outfitters carries gear in bold, colorful designs and colors. From socks, gloves, and beanies, to T-shirts and tank tops, this company has a variety of essential, fair-trade gear.

The socks I purchased for my husband have already been worn at least five times each. They are incredibly soft. The next time I need socks, I’ll be purchasing from Mitscoots and I can’t wait… although I may have trouble choosing from all of their designs!

You can check out Mitscoots stuff here. There is also a really amazing video about their mission and products! Mitscoots is currently offering 20% on your purchase as a Back to School deal! If you plan on buying socks, gloves, or scarves as Christmas gifts, make sure you know where your products are coming from and who they are impacting!

(Trades of Hope also has some new warm winter scarves you can check out!)

As always, thanks for reading and thank you for shopping fair trade!

Oliberte: The World’s First Fair Trade Certified Shoe Factory

Happy Fair Trade Friday! Featured this week on the blog are a stylish pair of fair trade men’s shoes from sub-saharan Africa!

The majority of online shoe purchases I’ve made have been utterly disappointing… Until I purchased a pair of Oliberté shoes for my husband’s birthday.

Each pair of Oliberté shoes is carefully handcrafted in the world’s first fair trade certified shoe factory in Ethiopia’s capitol, Addis Ababa. They are created from locally sourced leather, fabric, and rubber. Oliberté’s mission is to support workers’ rights in the area and empower their employees to greatness.

After perusing the Oliberté site for quite a while and adding several pairs of shoes to the cart, I finally decided to purchase a pair of Zabilo pull ups in rustic brown leather. I was very skeptical that the $70 would be worth it… But, determined to shop fair trade, I clicked the “Check out” button. In about a week, the shoes arrived… and the box, alone, validated the investment.

“Every pair, every purchase, every person matters . . . Every shoe is fairly made and proudly handcrafted from high quality African leather by the Oliberté team in Ethiopia.”

The words on the box made my heart race.

As I peaked inside, still half expecting to be disappointed, I gasped. The rustic brown Zabilo pull ups are stunningly detailed from the print on the sole, to the hand stitching, to the rich color. My husband’s favorite part is the map of Ethiopia molded into the shoes’ rubber bottoms.

As a teacher, my husband is on his feet for most of the day. I worried that the Oliberté shoes may not provide sufficient cushion or support. He has been wearing them almost every day for three weeks now and has had zero complaints.

The people behind Oliberté shoes do not accept the popular narrative and generalizations about Africa being a desolate, barren wasteland. They are proving that Africa is full of beauty and talent with each pair of shoes they design.

I love what Oliberté stands for, as well as the quality of product we purchased. I am excited to shop their footwear again in the future. For what we received, $70 is a very competitive price, but the best part? A lifetime warranty on all Oliberté products against any defects.

The Oliberte website includes graphics and videos about how their products are made and the mission of their business. Should you chose to purchase a pair of Oliberté men’s shoes, consider ordering a Trades of Hope leather wallet or our new Wanderer Bracelet to go with them!

Remember, the way you spend your money matters. Thanks for shopping fair trade!

Fair Trade Friday

On April 19, 2016, in response to House Bill 2, Target announced that transgender people are free to use whichever Target restroom they prefer. Immediately, the American Family Association (AFA) launched a petition for the boycott of Target stores. The pledge to boycott Target circulated on social media sites for weeks, gaining 1,392,372 signatures by the time this blog was being written.

No matter your stance on the transgender issue, something amazing happened as a result of the AFA Pledge to Boycott Target.

More than one million people realized that the way they spend their money matters. One million people chose to use consumerism to take a stand. One million people made the decision to vote with their wallets, using their hard earned money in attempt to provoke change.

What if…?

What if we have our priorities wrong?

What if we, society as a whole, were equally disgusted with child labor as we seem to be with homosexuality?

What if we were just as concerned about the existence of sweatshops as we are about which restroom people use?

What if we traded our hatred for the opposing political party for disdain of human trafficking and slavery?

Why are we more concerned with Target’s restroom policy than the fact that their stores may be carrying products crafted by 10 year old children in unsafe environments for little or no pay?

Where are the petitions to boycott the plethora of unethical businesses, worldwide? What about the companies that outsource their products to be made for a quarter per day in impoverished areas by mothers of starving children? Why are we not outraged by this?

Shame on us. We boycott businesses which conflict with our political and religious views, but then turn around and purchase a shirt that was produced unethically, in a dangerous workplace. We’ll wear the shirt for one season, decide we are bored with it, and then ship it off to some third world village with thousands of other articles of clothing. There, it will put a local merchant out of business because no one who is poor wants to pay for something they can get for free.  We, then, buy new shirts and the cycle continues, worsening the desperate situation where the clothing is made, as well as the places which receive the donations.

I am guilty of this. I never thought twice about where my groceries and clothing were coming from. I never wondered who had crafted my jewelry, sewn my shirts, or packaged my tea. I blindly donated to a variety of charities, intending to help end poverty. But then, I learned about Fair Trade.

I joined a direct sales business called Trades of Hope which partners with artisan groups around the world. This dignified partnership creates jobs for women, keeping them out of sweatshops and the sex trade. The goal of Trades of Hope is to empower women to support themselves and their families, and, eventually, become leaders in their communities. These artisans create beautiful jewelry, décor, and scarves, which Trades of Hope sells in the United States. Artisans are paid up front and receive 3x to 6x more than they would otherwise make in their community. I started reading the stories of some of the artisans and I was instantly amazed. Could fair trade be it? Could it be the solution to poverty? The answer is ‘no,’ not by itself, but creating jobs in poor areas is a good place to start.

The way you spend your money matters. This is becoming my mantra. Shopping fair trade is not easy, especially outside of major cities. Not everything that is fair trade has the fair trade certification sticker. Not everything with the certification sticker is entirely ethical. So, how can you determine which businesses and brands to trust? The key is to look for transparency in the business model.

Demand transparency. Force companies to evaluate their business model and their manufacturing processes. Ask hard questions. Support ethical businesses and boycott unethical businesses. Together, we can be a voice for the voiceless.

This is the first of, hopefully, many Fair Trade Fridays. At the end of each work week, I plan to post a new blog featuring a fair trade business or concept. I hope you will stay tuned as I research the options available to an ethical consumer and learn more about how fair trade is impacting the world. This has definitely been an educational experience for me, thus far, and I look forward to digging even deeper into the issues surrounding extreme poverty. Thank you for joining me and learning about #fairtrade.

The Voice of Postpartum Depression

The first 3 months of motherhood were a blur to me. I observed moments, that were supposed to be magical and memorable, from a distance, like an out of body experience. I had big, huge feelings and then no feelings at all. I dealt with crippling fears followed by overwhelming apathy. I cradled my child, I screamed at my child. I didn’t trust anyone else with her but I knew myself to be an inadequate caregiver. I thought about packing my bags and driving away. When I look back into my memory for those staple “mommy moments,” I find them veiled in fog.

That fog is finally lifting and it goes by the name of Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression, or PPD, is a sneaky ailment. It infiltrates your mind with every sideways glance from a stranger, each piece of “constructive” criticism from a friend, all the moments that don’t live up to your expectations, and each time you disappoint yourself. It manifests at the most inopportune time and makes itself at home behind your tired eyes and fake smile. It creates a wall between mother and child that seems impossible to scale.

PPD is so subtle; it can reside in your psyche unnoticed for months. PPD has a voice. It speaks in a whisper. It tells lies. It makes mothers feel inadequate, unwanted, and alone.

In a social media “survey”, I asked women who had struggled with Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety to share the lies PPD and PPA had been whispering in their ears. My goal was to unite hurting mothers, to show them they weren’t alone, and to expose PPD for what it is: a deceiver. The result was an outpouring of love and support toward those who felt burdened by PPD’s deafening whisper, and between mothers who were overcoming common falsehoods. We were raw, open, and vulnerable. In the end, it was as if an entire community of women breathed a sigh of relief. We are not alone. We are warriors. We are capable of seeing truth through the fog of depression.

These are the lies we confronted…

YOU ARE INADEQUATE:

 “You’re not doing enough for your baby. You’re not doing enough for your husband. You’re not doing enough.” – Jenny

“It’s pointless to try when you’re just going to fail.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re doing everything wrong.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a terrible mother.” – Anonymous mom

“Your son deserves so much more than what you can give him.” – Teen mom, Lexie

“Why do you need your husband to help you? You’re the woman. You shouldn’t have to ask for help. Asking for help makes you less of a mother. Are you sure you deserve this baby?” – Anonymous mom

“You SUCK AT breastfeeding.” – Anonymous mom

“Your child was born perfect and you’re ruining him…. you stopped breastfeeding, you lose your patience…. you’ve already failed him.” – Anonymous mom

“You aren’t good enough.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a terrible wife. Why don’t you have supper ready for him? Why isn’t your house clean? You’re home all day.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a failure because you can’t breastfeed. It’s natural, so, you’re doing something wrong.” – Anonymous mom

“You are not trying hard enough and you are a wimp” – Katie

“You will never be good enough to make your girls happy. Never.” – Anonymous mom

“You made a huge mistake. You can’t do this. You aren’t even sure if you love your son and don’t feel connected. What kind of mother isn’t sure? You’re awful.” – Julie

“You should have given him up for adoption. Someone else could have taken better care of him.” –  Anonymous teen mom

“You are a huge disappointment to the woman who trusted you to be a good mother to her baby.” (post placement depression happens too!) – Anonymous Adoptive Parent

YOU ARE UNWANTED:

“Your family would be better off without you.” – Kait

“No one would miss you if you were gone.” – Anonymous mom

“You look ugly.” – Anonymous mom

“Everyone hates you. Your baby will too.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re fat and ugly and your son won’t love you.” – Anonymous mom

“Your boyfriend is going to leave you and the baby because you are so mean to him and push him away all the time. And your son is going to grow up hating you.” – Kaci

“You are not worthy of…” – Anonymous mom

“You should not have allowed yourself to have a baby, she hates you and you have no idea what you’re doing.” – Anonymous mom

“You aren’t good enough to be their mother. He would be better off with a different woman to raise your children. You are pathetic for not working all day and coming home and cleaning house. Your children will hate you when they get older so you might as well give up now.” – Anonymous mom

“You are gross and stinky.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re inadequate, and everyone here knows it. They’re all talking about how you’re not cut out for this job, and hope you’ll quit soon.” – Anonymous mom

“When you go to work, your baby will love grandma more than you and eventually start calling grandma, mom.” – Anonymous mom

YOU ARE ALONE:

“You must hide your true self and feelings and pretend like everything is perfect and you are nothing but happy all the time.” – Katie

“You’ll be lonely for the rest of your life and your daughter will never have a daddy and it’s all your fault.” – Anonymous single mom

“You appear like you have it all together, but you probably struggle more than anyone else.” – Anonymous mom

“How did you ever love your husband?” – Anonymous mom

“Nobody else feels this way or experiences these issues, it’s just you.” – Anonymous mom

We also shared lies of fear, lies of despair, and lies about how to escape from it all:

“You wanted this for so long. You begged and pleaded with God to make you a mother. Now I’m going to make you second guess your biggest desire; I’m going to make you think you’ve been wrong your whole life. I’m going to make you wonder if you regret this. I’m going to make you think, even if only for a minute, that maybe you should run.” -Megan

“You have to quiet that baby right now.” – Anonymous mom

“People are trying to steal your baby. If you let them hold her, they’ll try to take her.”- Emily

“You are not allowed to have PPD. You are the one that is supposed to be helping others.”-  Theresa

“You don’t want to be a mom anymore. You don’t want your baby. You should just leave in the middle of the night and start a new life somewhere else, far away, and never come back.” – Anonymous mom

“’This’ will never end … You’ll never get relief, or sleep. You’ll never be yourself again and you’ll never feel ok. No one will ever look at you the same.” – Anonymous mom

“You should be head over heels with this baby. Why are you numb? You are broken and will never bond with this baby.” – Anonymous mom

“Scream at your baby to shut up. That will keep him quiet.” – Anonymous mom

“What the hell did you do? Motherhood is terrible and now you’re stuck. FOREVER.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re going to die tragically and your son won’t know you.” – Anonymous mom

“If you relax for one minute something terrible will happen and it will be your fault.” – Anonymous mom

“You’re a monster for choosing to get back on your antidepressant 2 weeks PP over breast feeding your baby. Any good mother would sacrifice herself to breastfeed, no matter the costs. You’re selfish and don’t deserve her.” – Anonymous mom

“This was a mistake – you weren’t supposed to be a mother. You’re weak.” – Anonymous mom

“Your feelings don’t matter. Put them aside and pretend to be happy. Pretend to be doing great. Pretend to love being a mother. ” – Jennifer

We learned that comparison can seem to validate these PPD lies:

“You are exactly like your mother.” – Anonymous mom

“You should be able to handle this. Other people do it better. You just need to try harder.” – Anonymous mom

“You can’t do this. You aren’t nurturing and put together like other women. You have made a mistake and this baby will suffer for it.” – Amanda

“All of these other mothers instinctively know why their babies are crying. Why don’t you? Millions of other women are able to breastfeed. Why can’t you? Everyone else has figured out how to get their baby to sleep at night. Why can’t you? All of those moms have already lost the baby weight. Why can’t you?” – Anonymous mom

“Look at all those moms who have it together (laundry folded, clean house, nightly home cooked meal) … some with more kids than you. You are never going to be good enough.” – Ashley

“Every other mom does it better/is happier/can cope better/seems to know all the answers, so why can’t/don’t you?” – Anonymous mom

“Everyone else knows what they’re doing. Everyone else is happy. What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you want to do more for your kids? Why do you want to be by yourself so much? What did you fail to teach them today? What’s wrong with you?” – Anonymous mom


I found, during this “experiment,” that I experienced lies in common with 7 other women. SEVEN. This realization immediately eliminates the lie that I am alone.

There is strength in numbers. Anyone with a voice can drown out the whisper of PPD and overpower it with truth. So why are so many women suffering, silently? Why, in our society of excessive communication, is this issue still taboo? Let’s break the silence surrounding PPD.

After many women had responded with the lies they face, one person suggested that, along with our lies, we post truths to build each other up. So, this is for the mommas struggling with PPD and PPA. Here are some truths for you. Write them down, memorize them.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

“As many as one in seven women experience PPD.” –American Psychological Association

YOU CAN DO THIS

“You have all the tools necessary to be a good mother. You have a heart to love your child, arms to hold your child, and a brain to figure out the rest.” – Kait

“Every time you feel as if you’ve failed,  know you’ll soon overcome that moment with a successful one.” -Allisin

YOU ARE NEEDED

“You are an integral part of your family. Your sweet baby needed you for those 9 months in utero and still needs you. Your heartbeat is what your baby knows and is comforted by.” – Dorothy

I pray that your PPD fog lifts, that the negative whisper is drowned out, and that you are able to fully embrace and enjoy your role as a mother.  Stop comparing yourself to others. You’re the very best at what you do.

 

 

 

 

 

A New Parent’s Guide to Surviving Sunday

So… People are starting to worry about your soul, eh? You haven’t been attending church, regularly, since your baby was born. People are starting to suggest that you might be a bad Christian role model. Well, it’s lucky you’ve found this blog. I, the baby whispering, church attending, extraordinaire, will instruct you on how to survive Sunday with a baby in 26 easy steps. You ready? Let’s begin.

Step 1: Make arrangements to go to bed early on Saturday. The dread of the next day will easily have you staring at your ceiling, restless, for half the night so it’s best to get an early start.

Step 2: It’s silly to waste valuable awake time… So around 2 a.m. when you find yourself wide awake from anxiety, go ahead and get out of bed to make Sunday preparations. You should prepare for Sunday as if you are prepping for the apocalypse. Pull everything out of the diaper bag to account for all your necessities, add two of everything you originally had, then put everything back.

Step 3: While you’re awake, pick out the clothes you will wear. This task may result in an impromptu laundry washing session.

Step 4: Finally hit REM sleep only to be awakened by your sweet little one at 5 a.m. Give this darling child a bottle. And you better enjoy it, too. If you don’t enjoy feeding your baby and rocking her back to sleep at 5 a.m., then you’re a monster.

Step 5: Tiptoe back to bed after the feeding session. As soon as your head hits the pillow, your baby will wake up for the day. Wide awake. Chewing on the crib rails. Banging on the wall. Babbling, “Dadadadamamamama.” Ignore this behavior and try to sleep through it for approximately 15 minutes until baby starts to cry.

Step 6: Rock baby to sleep again. Repeat step 5.

Step 7: Finally, bring baby into your bed. Snuggle her up between you and your hubby. For about 5 minutes, you can enjoy the blissfulness of quality, family snuggle time. After 5 minutes, your baby will get bored and start to pull your hair, stick her fingers up daddy’s nose, and try to dive off of the bed.

Step 8: You and hubby are basically zombies due to sleep deprivation, but you cut your losses and get out of bed. Put baby in a bouncer, where she will whine and stare at you with a look of heart shattering neglect and loneliness. I know it makes you feel like a crappy mom, but the bouncer is really the only solution to give you enough time to shower, dry your hair, get dressed, and apply make up. The baby will be fine, but you might cry a little.

Step 9: Feed your baby a rice cereal breakfast. You and your hubby are basically ready to go. You will feed baby while hubby makes your breakfast. You will then eat, quickly, while discussing the pros and cons of attending Sunday class with the baby. The conversation will inevitably turn into an argument of, “is it better to let baby sleep or take her to church?” Ultimately, the conversation is pointless. We all know who determines the family schedule… You look over to see your baby falling asleep in her highchair.

Step 10: It’s too soon for baby’s bottle, but you decide to offer it anyway. You figure it’s best to feed her early, so that maybe she’ll nap early and be awake for Sunday service. Or maybe it’s best to keep her awake so you can go to class?

Step 11: After baby’s bottle, which was given 30 minutes too soon, you try to put her to sleep. You rock, you sing, you bounce. Baby spits up on the church clothes you meticulously picked out the night before.

Step 12: Baby screams from her crib. She knows it isn’t her real nap time. She knows you’ve tried to trick her. Hubby takes over while you change clothes and then collapse on the couch out of exhaustion and frustration. You look at the clock. You’ve missed Sunday class, but if baby falls asleep right now, you might still make it to service.

Step 13: You wake up after accidentally falling asleep on the couch. Your second church outfit is now wrinkled. O well. No time to change. You need to leave for church in 5 minutes. Baby is still asleep. Hubby recounts his tale of running up and down the stairs numerous times until the baby finally fell asleep 10 minutes ago.

Step 14: Argue with hubby about whether or not to wake up the baby for church. During the argument, you should frantically look up other church service times and consider meeting with a different congregation.

Step 15: Reach an amiable agreement that hubby will go to church this morning and that you will go tonight.

Step 16: Hubby is walking out the door and realizes he left his wallet upstairs… near the baby’s room. Hubby tiptoes to go get it. Baby stirs…

Step 17: You sit at home, in your wrinkled church clothes, wondering if hubby made it to church on time.

Step 18: Recount the events of the morning. Play it over and over again in your head. Try to devise a better plan for next week.

Step 19: Think of all the lovely families that you’ve seen in church on Sunday. Feel completely inadequate as you wonder how they do it.

Step 20: Dig into a bag of chocolate to help you cope with the feelings of inadequacy. While you’re making out with a Hershey bar, hear your baby’s sweet voice through the monitor. You push all the negativity aside when you see her beautiful smile. You choose to spend this precious time reading Bible stories, in your wrinkled church clothes, on the floor.

Step 21: Hubby brings home a delicious lunch and tells you all about today’s sermon. “I wish I could have been there,” you mumble. Then you tell him about your morning flipping through the pages of Baby Bible Stories with a squirming baby on your lap. “I wish I could’ve been here,” he mumbles.

Step 22: Your day carries on as normal… almost. You see, baby hasn’t forgotten about the trickery of an early nap. So, next time she becomes sleepy, instead of taking a bottle and drifting off, she fights for all she’s worth. She screams. She kicks. She laughs. She cries. She does anything but sleep. Hours pass. You are unable to accomplish anything because she is inconsolable.

Step 23: You finally get your wearied child to pass out in your arms after experiencing huge regret over your morning choices. You gently, gently try to transfer her to the crib so you can get some work done… No such luck. Now she’s wide awake, again.

Step 24: Repeat step 23… but this time. She stays asleep. You rush downstairs with plans to make the most of this time. Laundry and dishes need to be done. The floors need to be swept. The dog needs to be let out. You and hubby work frantically to accomplish as much as possible while the little one sleeps.

Step 25: Hubby glances up on the clock and gets an apologetic look on his face. “Oh… you’ve missed evening service.” Feeling defeated, you finally take off your wrinkled church clothes.

Step 26: You spend the next three days attempting to recover from the chaos of your disrupted daily routine. You finally… FINALLY… get the whole family back on track with nap times, feedings, dinnertime, and quality time… It’s Thursday… And Sunday is just 3 days away.

 

 

My Infant, the Poor, Miserable Sinner

Tonight, as I rocked my beautiful baby girl to sleep, I studied her. I soaked in her rosy cheeks, long fingers, quiet breaths, and soft hair. I watched her heavy eyelids slowly close. I watched her stretch and wiggle into a more comfortable spot against my chest.

And as she let out a deep sigh from the satisfaction of a full day and a full tummy, I became angry…. almost to the point of tears.

I was angry at the thought of taking my precious baby to the church I attended as a child. The church in which many members believe my darling daughter will go to hell, should she die tomorrow, for mistakes she has not yet made.

I was angry because, if the doctrine of hereditary total depravity is gospel truth, then the fate of my child’s soul rests in the flawed, imperfect, human hands of her father and I.

I was angry with myself and with all of my ancestors. If sins can be inherited, we are responsible for the potential damnation of my three month old.

I was angry for all of the mothers who’ve lost infants in the womb or during delivery who may always wonder about the fate of their babies who were tragically tainted by “original sin.”

A few chats with some advocates of infant baptism will reveal the hilarious confusion around the concept of original sin. In fact, interview a few Lutheran pastors and you’ll find their answers may differ greatly on the issue, especially when you discuss miscarriages and abortions.

As a child, I questioned the theology and logic behind the doctrine of original sin from time to time. I’d wonder, “If God is perfect, how come he made me flawed?” But then, I’d attend church on Sunday morning, recite my confession of sin, and accept the doctrine as truth.

“I, a poor miserable sinner, confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee…”

Imagine these words coming from the mouth of a kindergartener. It’s comical.

During my pregnancy, when people asked me when and where my infant would be baptized (which happened on a number of occasions, by the way), I would reply with “Whenever she believes the gospel and wherever that occurs.”

If the issue was pushed further, I would direct a line of questioning that went something like this:

1.)At what point is my child sinful?

2.) You say that, according to Psalm 51:5, she is sinful at conception. If I miscarry this child tonight, what will happen to her soul? Will I see her in heaven someday?

3.) So, you think my child will be damned if I miscarry tonight. I will do everything in my power to prevent her from going to hell. So please… please tell me… What must I do to ensure her salvation?

4) Can I get baptized right now to save her? She’s in my womb, so if I get baptized will that grace transfer to her?

5.) Oh, it’s unbiblical for me to be baptized for the salvation of my daughter? Do you have any other suggestions? No? Well, that’s depressing.

Please don’t think I take the issue of salvation lightly. When it comes to my daughter’s spiritual wellbeing, I am invested with a burning passion. Her salvation is of upmost importance. I pray that one day, she will make the decision to be baptized. That day will be the highlight of my life as a parent. That day will be mean so much more than her high school graduation or her wedding day.

I will not teach my daughter the doctrine of original sin because it is not found in the Bible. This is a man-made teaching and a remnant from early Catholicism.

“What about Psalm 51:5?” you may ask.

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:5, ESV

Rather than debating the meaning of David’s words and delving into the many popular interpretations of this passage, I will simply ask that you acknowledge the following concept:

If one believes the Bible to be the inspired word of God, then it is unacceptable to cherry pick passages on which to construct doctrine. If the Bible is the inspired word of God, then it stands to reason that the whole book is true and complete, with no contradictions.

Consider the following verses:

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” – Ezekiel 18:20, ESV

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” – Deuteronomy 24:16, ESV

So, are these contradictory statements, or is it possible that David meant something other than, “I was a filthy, dirty sinner from the moment my mother’s egg was fertilized… before I had a heartbeat… before my brain was developed.”

Throughout the Bible there are passages about the sinful nature of humans. When someone references our sinful human nature, he is simply pointing out that humans err. We all make mistakes. No adult makes it out of this life with a clean record. I believe this is what David was referring to in Psalm 51:5.

At this point in my child’s life, baptism would accomplish nothing. It would merely be an empty, symbolic ritual… There is really no difference between infant baptism and a bath. I find it completely absurd, by the way, when Lutherans and other “infant baptizers” become so flabbergasted at the thought of being baptized for the dead, a Mormon practice. PLEASE explain to me how being baptized for the dead is any different from me taking my baby to be baptized! I would love to understand this logic, although I doubt there is much logic in it at all.

I will teach my daughter about baptism based on what the Bible says.

1.) All those who believe AND are baptized will be saved. Jesus clarifies the requirements for salvation in Mark 16:16.

2.) One cannot believe the gospel unless he is taught the gospel. In every New Testament example, baptism only occurs after an individual believes and confesses that belief. We know that an individual cannot believe until he has heard the message (Romans 10:14). This is where the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) comes into play.

3.) The purpose of baptism is for the remission of sins and addition to the church. We know that baptism will cleanse us of our sins (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16) and add us to the number of Christ’s followers (Acts 2:41, Acts 5:14, Galatians 3:27).

I apologize if this post seems callous. If I came across as rude to infant baptizers, it is only because of my disdain for misused scripture. I was raised by amazing, dedicated Lutheran parents and grandparents. I was sprinkled as a baby. I am so incredibly appreciative of my parents’ fervor and dedication to our spiritual well being, but I cringe at the thought of any mother questioning the eternal whereabouts of her infant. It has to stop.

Thank you for reading. I love you all. God bless.