Do you ever just need to think out loud? Don't really need anyone to fix something or give you advice or debate with you, just to hear your voice and perhaps nod and respond with a "Hmmmm, nope never really thought about that . . . " or maybe even just the facial expression of a hmmmm . . .
That's kind where I am this morning. St. Michael needed to meet his compadres at o'dark-thirty to head out on his annual trip to the Navajo Reservation in NM, where he goes every July as part of a team that will build a church for a small congregation of Native American believers who need a building, and after delivering him and planting one last passionate kiss on his stud-muffin mug, and driving back home, I'm wide awake now, not quite ready to crawl back into bed yet. (Putting on a bra at 4:00 AM really sets the tone, y'know? And, yeah, I'm into my third cup of coffee, too.) Thus, I'm relishing the quiet darkness of a brand new almost-day, and just thinkin' and talkin' to my sistas in Blogland.
I'm not trying to stir up any controversy (I'm not the budding free-for-all, bull-in-a-china-shop journalist I was a hundred years ago) or make anyone mad or start a movement -- just thinking out loud about an interesting (for lack of a better word) experience I had yesterday. (Maybe I should say unusual experience?)
I found myself and Baby Daughter being met at the edge of a cyclone-fenced-in parking lot by a fresh-faced young woman wearing a neon-green vest with PLANNED PARENTHOOD VOLUNTEER in large black block letters across the front. She smiled apologetically and explained as she led us across a not-as-busy-as-I-expected city street, "We have protestors today. The best thing to do is to just keep walking and to not say anything." (I swear I'd never seen her before in my life. Okay, maybe she says the same thing to everybody.)
It wasn't really hard, as the first protestor we passed was a young man, as equally fresh-faced as our escort, who seemed not to know any other way to respond to my nodded-smile greeting but to nod and smile back. In fact, he seemed to plumb forget that he was supposed to say something to us. His T-shirt read, John: something-too-faded to read. (Probably 3:16 if I had to guess. It's a verse so well known that even heathens are supposed to recognize it.) The young female protestor standing a few feet away from him looked as if she had expected him to do the talking, and since he didn't, she, too, was at a loss for words.
From about thirty yards away, though, an older woman, obviously a more experienced protestor, remained decidedly unspeechless. I caught only a few words -- " . . . hurts the woman! The baby feels pain . . . " -- enough to know why she was enduring the ungodly Houston heat. (But, of course, I already knew why she was there: Planned Parenthood. Protestors. Duh.)
However, Baby Daughter and I were not there for any reason that anyone might find to protest. Quite the contrary. In fact, I was entering the building feeling pretty grateful that the people in this building were going to take care of my youngest child. You see, Baby Daughter falls into the category that more and more people -- men, women, young, old, and in-betweens -- are finding themselves in: She doesn't have health insurance. Like tens of thousands of folks in the American work force, she is considered a part-time worker by the credit union that employs her. In fact, everyone at her job level is classified part-time -- never being scheduled for more than 37 or 38 hours a week, just so that they can remain classified as part-time and thus be legally denied benefits. And this is not at all unusual. In hard economic times, more and more businesses are doing the exact same thing. Humanly, real-live-people-wise-speaking, it may not seem right, but economically, on paper, many companies are deciding it's the way to go, thus leaving many folks in no-man's land -- they make to much to qualify for welfare benefits, but they don't make enough to cover the cost of medical insurance. (Oh, and in case you're wondering why Baby Daughter doesn't get a "full-time" job, though she works as many as 35 hours a week at times, she is also a night student who carries a full class-load during the school year.)
(Just so you can picture this Texas cutie.)
So Baby Daughter goes to Planned Parenthood for her well-woman checkups. And when her most recent pap smear showed abnormal cells, this is where she went for follow-up. And it's where my 24-year-old Baby Girl and I were yesterday for her endocervical curettage (or biopsy of abnormal cervical cells). It's where she qualified for a grant that covered the cost of this procedure, which, otherwise, even at non-profit Planned Parenthood, would have been about $400.
Now, stay with me. I'm not proposing socialized medicine. I'm not nominating Planned Parenthood for a community service award. I'm not discouraging meaningful protest against some things in our society that are woefully wrong. I'm just thinking out loud, remember?
And yes, as I sat in the waiting room with my hot-pink Bible (every woman needs a hot-pink Bible she can stick in her purse), highlighting and taking notes for a study in Nehemiah, and waiting for Baby Daughter, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the young women I saw -- particularly those accompanied by young men -- were there for abortion referrals. (And for the record, I hate abortion.) And, yes, it bothered me. My heart ached at the possibilities and probabilities in the room. But I also know that there were many more women who were there because there were no other viable options for simple female health care.
I love the work that crisis pregnancy centers do -- in fact, St. Michael has spent many, many hours doing volunteer work on a recent remodeling project at our own local Crisis Pregnancy Center -- but I couldn't help but wonder what we as Christ followers do for the health needs of women who aren't in the midst of a crisis pregnancy. Or people, in general, for that matter.
Again, I'm just thinking out loud.
How many Christian physicians donate time to under-served populations? How many Christian attorneys? How many Christian mechanics? How many Christian teachers? How many . . . well, you get my drift. And again, I'm just thinking out-loud.
I'm just thinking out-loud. Loudly.
Smiles, prayers, and loud thoughts,
St. Michael's Wife, Pamm
(a.k.a. "The Texas Preacher Woman")