LFL Regional Director of Texas
Barbara Lane Geistfeld, DVM
2020 Texas State Essay Contest Winners
by Barbara Lane Geistfeld, D.V.M.
Lutherans For Life Regional Director of Texas
Our 2020 Lutherans For Life Essay Contest has concluded! Dozens of excellent essays were submitted at the state level. First place winners from each state advanced to the national level. We had winning essays from eight State Federations and one non-federation “state” (an online Christian academy). Students wrote life-affirming essays based on our 2020 Conference theme, From Invisible to Indispensable and referenced our 2020 Conference Bible verse: “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable …” (1 Corinthians 12:22).
Texas students submitted essays on a variety of topics again this year, and I am pleased to announce the Texas State Winners for 2020.
In the high school category, grades 9-12, first place goes to Miss Tabitha Waiser. Tabitha attends Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston and graduated this year from Lutheran High North, also in Houston. She will be attending the University of Houston in the fall, majoring in nursing. She hopes that her essay reaches many people’s ears, and that at least one person changes his or her mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Tabitha’s essay, entitled From Invisible to Indispensable, was on the topic of abortion. She writes: “As adults, it is our job to nurture children and to teach them how to grow as independent individuals. We protect them … and cherish them. So why do we feel differently about the unborn? They have futures and bright possibilities too … Just because they are weaker, dependent, and smaller does not mean they are dispensable. God has a plan for everyone, starting at conception. Jeremiah 29: 11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you … declares the LORD …’ How is it our right to take a life from a baby with so much potential, so much innocence? … Abortion is not the solution. The unborn should be cherished; they should be indispensable, not invisible.” Tabitha raises the question that everyone, everywhere needs to answer honestly in their own heart. “How is it our right to take a life from a baby?”
In the elementary school category, grades 6-8, first place was won by Miss Jenna Farrier. Jenna is 14 years old and just graduated as an 8th grader from Crown of Life Lutheran School in Colleyville Texas. She lives with her mother, father, and brother in Keller, Texas. She plans to attend Keller High School in the fall. Jenna’s favorite school subjects are English, history, Spanish and art. She enjoys drawing, reading comic books, babysitting, and spending time with friends and family. Jenna’s essay was also entitled “From Invisible to Indispensable” and discussed the value of those with disabilities. “Everyone is valuable to the Church because God has given them talents that are unique to them. One discovery I have made when connecting to those with disabilities is their bright view of life … The dictionary says that the definition of ‘disability’ is a condition that limits a person’s movement, senses, or activities. In these words, being a negative person or finding the worst in others is a disability, and we all suffer from it.” Wow! What insight! She continues, “A disability does not stop anyone from having God in their heart. Everyone is valuable to the church … Ephesians 2:10 says, ‘For we are all God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Everyone has been given talents and the possibility to be useful to God’s work, and everyone should use them. A disability would be refraining from using these talents. When anyone uses these talents to bring others to God and to bring happiness to the world, they become indispensable.” Thank you, Jenna, for an entirely new view on who has disabilities. We all do!
Second place winner in the elementary school category was Miss Kinley Peltier. (No photo available.) Kinley’s mom writes, “Kinley will be a 7th grader at Crown of Life School in Colleyville. She is the oldest of four which makes her a natural leader. She enjoys most all subjects, but her favorite is math. In the fall you will find her on the court playing basketball; in spring she is doing flips and handstands. Kinley loves baking, swimming, and theater, but her absolute favorite thing to do is read. Any free time she can find, she will pick up a book; really, any book will do. She also stays busy with Bible study and chasing chickens.” (Chasing chickens? As a vet, I want to meet this girl!) Kinley’s essay was entitled Life. “Why do we live? God put us in this world for a reason … life is valuable. From old people to babies, all life is precious. All people matter, including infants. However, many infants do not get a chance at life because of abortion. Babies deserve a chance at life as much as the elderly deserve to keep living their lives … We are told in Genesis that God created people in His image and saw that they were good … elderly people are just as needed as younger people … all life is precious. All living [persons] deserve to live until they go to see their Father in heaven.” The world may not see things as Kinley does, but praise God, she knows the truth about life. Life is precious.
LAMBs Blankets in Blanco
From Dr. Barb Geistfeld, LFL Regional Director of Texas and Trinity, Blanco, Texas, Life Team Leader:
The Life Team at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMC) in Blanco, Texas, has given away another LAMBs (Lutherans Assembling Mercy Blankets) blanket! LAMBs blankets are provided free of charge to moms or families that have had their fourth or more child. They are a gift from the Miami (Ohio) Valley Life Chapter to celebrate families choosing life, especially as the number of children adds up! Amy is a 39-year-old single mom who suddenly faced an unplanned pregnancy. She has three older children, but said it was never an option to end her pregnancy. With the love and grace of God and the love and support of her family she now has four beautiful children. As you can tell by the smiles, none of them can imagine life without Everly. We rejoice in the life of this beautiful little girl and pray that God’s love, grace, and mercy be with all of them every day of their lives.
Pictured left to right: Sevren, 18; Amy; Coryne, 17, holding Everly, 7 months; Kacen, 10; and Amy’s parents, Lydia and Doug.
Our Political Climate
by Russ Wernli, President of Houston LFL Chapter #132
In my life, I cannot remember a more divided political climate in America with so much hatred for our leaders coming from both the conservatives and the liberals. Unlike the Vietnam conflict and racial unrest of the ‘60s, this fight is about so many different issues it’s hard to sort them all out. If you truly step back and take a look, it’s easy to see the spiritual struggle that is waging, with Satan weaving his evil at every turn. Of the many issues that are being fiercely debated, the one that stands out most is the pro-life/pro-death struggle. There seems to be no middle ground here, and no other issue is as morally damaging to our society. Our culture has slowly and methodically turned away from biblical marriage, family values, and respect for human life. We will soon get to vote, and the choices will not always be easy, but as Christians, we have a duty to express the truth about the sanctity of life at the polls—and to our families, friends, and others we come in contact with.
This can be somewhat intimidating. How can we express these biblical truths without “pushing” our religious beliefs on others? Trying to avoid confrontation, we must always speak with love in our hearts—love for the innocent lives being taken, love for the parents who are suffering from the guilt of an abortion decision, love for our neighbors who are denying the truth that God has written on their hearts, and love for our great nation as we collectively ask our Savior for forgiveness for this horrific tragedy.
by Barb Geistfeld
The Lutherans For Life 2019 Texas Essay Contest for Lutheran students in grades six through twelve is finished! As the LFL Regional Director of Texas, I want to warmly thank all the Texas students who sent me essays this year. They were thought-provoking and life affirming and covered a variety of life issues. The essay theme was “Did God Really Say …?”—our 2019 regional conferences’ theme based on John 6:68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
First Place Winner—6th-8th Grade Category: Annika Peterson. Annika is in seventh grade; lives in Arlington, Texas; and attends St. John Lutheran Church in Mansfield. The title of her essay is “Follow the One Who Calms the Raging Storm.” She begins by describing her little sister who was adopted at birth. Her sister’s biological mother was very young and unprepared to keep an infant, so she placed her baby girl for adoption. Annika describes her sister this way: “My sister is joyful, kindhearted, and effervescent about everything, which reminds my family to remain positive. This God-given gift is an example of how He breathes meaning and purpose into every life.” She goes on to reference the theme verse in this manner: “When Peter responds with this famous phrase, it shows that he knows leaving Jesus would be unwise because no one else could lead us to eternal life … God has the best in mind for us that will make sense to us in His perfect timing.” When Jesus rebukes the storm in Matthew 8:23-27, it was to point His disciples to who He really is. As Annika puts it so well, “Who wouldn’t want to follow the One who holds the whole world safely in His loving hands? Life always works out better when we pursue our great Redeemer … and we will bask in glorious eternal life.” Thank you, Annika, for this message.
First Place Winner—9th-12th Grade Category: William Killinger. William is in 10th grade; lives in Houston; and attends Lutheran High North and Epiphany Lutheran Church, also both in Houston. The title of his essay is “The Silenced Generation.” “Nearly seventeen years ago, my mother … was diagnosed with Amniotic Band Syndrome and Single Umbilical Artery. This meant that her unborn son (yours truly) may have deformed limbs, amputations, or possibly die in her womb … An abortion was never an option for her or my father … At a 34- week check-up, I was unresponsive … so I had to be removed via C-section … I was transported to another hospital, put into a medically induced coma, and treated for another six weeks. By the grace of God, I am now a normal, healthy, sixteen-year-old. [My mother] had faith and everything worked together ‘for the good of those who love Him’… ‘God fashions us in the womb (Job 31:15) and ‘consecrated you before you were born (Jeremiah 1:5).’” What about problem pregnancies? “When trouble comes, we should follow Simon Peter’s example … We should look toward Jesus during crises and He will carry us. Every child that is conceived should be given the opportunity to live and become all they are designed to be, rather than being silenced and erased from society.” We are grateful, William, for God working in your parents’ lives and in your own to make you who you are today! Thank you for your story.
Second Place Winner—9th-12th Grade Category: Seamus Welton. Seamus is in 10th grade; lives in Johnson City; is homeschooled by his dad; and attends Trinity Lutheran Church, Blanco. The title of his essay is “What is True Compassion? A Lutheran Response to Brittany Maynard.” Seamus begins his essay with the theme verse, “‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ And these words of eternal life are the words of God. As Christians and as Lutherans, to whom else can we go but God? Brittany Maynard was 28 years old when she … was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had [treatments, but] four months later her tumor had come back … Since she did not like the options available to her, she decided to move to Oregon to be able to kill herself under Oregon’s Death with Dignity laws. She believed death could give her dignity … How should we as Lutherans approach her death? … In Exodus, the Fifth Commandment says ‘You shall not murder,’ which is, as Martin Luther explains, ‘[that] we must not kill either by hand, heart, or word, by signs or gestures, or by aiding or abetting.” Seamus supports this thought with other Scripture, reminding us that God gives life and God takes it away. “This, then, is our Lutheran answer: that we will trust God’s timing, neither trying to escape death nor hasten it, but rather preserving it to use it in God’s glory … We will strive to be compassionate to those in pain and work to promote compassionate resources, such as hospice care for those at the end of life.” Thank you, Seamus, for reminding us how God wants us to live—and how to die.
During our January LFL Life Team/Life Chapter Teleconference, Mrs. Carol Houtler from the Miami Valley (Ohio) LFL Chapter #060 told us about their LAMB project: Lutherans Assembling Mercy Blankets. These blankets are given to any family who is having their fourth or more child in honor of them choosing life. As many of you may know, one of the reasons for aborting a child is that the parents “do not want another one.” Through the Life Team at Trinity Lutheran Church, Blanco, Texas, a LAMB blanket was given to a dear family in celebration of the lives of their four children!
(l-r) Teagann, Ashley, Creed, Stetson, Steele, and Wyatt. Do y’all think we might be in Texas??
Lutherans For Life Essay Contest
In 2018, Texas participated in the annual Lutherans For Life essay contest for the first time. The winner in the sixth through eighth grade division was Miss Annika Peterson of St. John Lutheran Church (LCMS), in Mansfield, Texas. We at LFL are very proud of all the young people that submitted essays, and we would like to honor Annika by sharing a portion of her essay with all of you.
The theme for the 2018 contest was: From Age To Age The Same based on Isaiah 46:3b-4: You “have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
Annika’s essay was titled “God is Love.”
“The world around us is fascinating. Every breath you breathe is a gift from God. We are on this earth, alive and well, because of the unconditional love and grace of our amazing God of salvation, redemption and second chances.
“When I was three years old, my family was expecting our second child. My parents were informed a genetic disorder [Trisomy 18] had occurred … The doctor suggested abortion, but my parents refused … our boy was born alive on July 11, 2008. By the end of the second day, Jonathan was miraculously still living. [He went home] and a nurse stayed for a week. After she left, people from church came and swarmed around this miracle God had given us. On August eleventh, 2008, Jonathan, meaning “gift of God,” went home to our Lord. [He] will forever be known as ‘our four-pound missionary.’
“Every day we would gather around his crib and sing “Happy Birthday” for another day of life … We should all be as grateful for every day of life. Every day is a gift from God … God will never lead you astray … He is always working for what is advantageous to you. He has something better for us in store—eternal life.”
Thank you, Annika, for such an awesome essay.
Dr. Barbara Lane Geistfeld, LFL Regional Director of Texas
Bulletin Board Idea
Melanie Scarth, Life Team Leader at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, LCMS, in Plano, Texas shared a photo of the bulletin board they keep in their church narthex. This is a great idea to try if other Life Teams have the space to do so. Thanks for sharing, Melanie.
Dr. Barbara Lane Geistfeld
Lutherans For Life Regional Director of Texas