Peter Baklinski

Choosing Hope and Grace: How two babies who shared one heart momentarily brought heaven to earth

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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(Editor’s note: LifeSiteNews dedicates this story to Luci and Chris who celebrate tomorrow the 3rd anniversary of the passing of their children Hope and Grace. Luci told LifeSiteNews that the Klare family is flourishing with baby Joseph being born just in time (2 weeks ago) to give older sister Maria, age 2, a playmate.)

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COVINGTON, Kentucky, June 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Luci and Chris Klare were barely married three months when, in December 2008, a pregnancy test revealed that they were nine months away from becoming a family. The couple was exuberant.

“It was joyful and frightening, but mostly pure elation,” recounted Luci on her family’s blog.

But the parents’ elation was short-lived. Two months into the pregnancy a visit to the doctor revealed that Luci was carrying conjoined twins who amazingly shared a single beating heart.

The doctor gave the twins one percent chance of survival.

Luci and Chris remember experiencing an impossible mix of emotions. They were elated by the thought of having twins but devastated by the thought of losing their babies so quickly.

The couple spent a number of days crying in each other’s arms, trying to find a way to make sense of the situation.

“God, why us?,” they asked time and time again.

Luci found consolation in remembering the loud and clear thumping of her babies’ heartbeat that she had heard during the doctor’s appointment. “When I heard their heart beat for the first time, I was in love.” The echo of that heartbeat in her memory reminded her that she was still a mother and these unusual babies were still her children.

“It didn’t matter what form they came in or what their chances were, they were our children,” the parents realized.

But the parents could not help but look upon the forthcoming birth of their children with fear and uncertainty.

“We struggled countless times, but we took it one day at a time and one prayer at a time. Each day brought new hope as we grew closer to them being born. We still cried often together — when we were scared of what our future held — but those days were less often than the ones where we laughed and felt overjoyed to feel them kick, to see them grow in our weekly ultrasounds, and to hear their heart beating…”

While the parents did not “completely understand” how to make sense of what was happening, they “simply wanted to trust” that what was put before them “was the will of God, and therefore perfect”.

Luci and Chris’s close friends and family members found it hard to understand why the young couple was given such a heavy burden to bear. But the young couple began to see things through the eyes of faith.

“We feel chosen for this task”, the parents learned to say to their friends and family members. “Our sufferings come in so many different ways and in so many different sizes. The suffering is only not knowing when they will be with us or leave us. But we have been chosen and are grateful to be given this chance to love two children of whom many mothers and fathers would have chosen to terminate their chances of life.”

Treasuring the Gift

In June 2009, Luci gave birth to conjoined girls, naming them Hope and Grace. Together they weighed 6.8 pounds. Each had a full head of hair.

“They were born kissing and hugging each other, and they were beautiful,” Chris remembers.

The parents knew that they did not have much time with their precious daughters.

The doctors gently placed the baby girls into the arms of Chris, who immediately baptized them so that they would now belong to God’s family. During the brief ceremony, both girls had their eyes open and were gazing upon their father and their mother.

“One of the girls looked over at her mom and gave her a big wink,” Chris remembers.

For the next 46 minutes, Luci and Chris’s whole universe revolved around treasuring the fragile gift of their tiny children.

Luci held the girls upon her chest, placing their single heart right next to hers. “We cried in joy and love. And we sat there together as a family in love,” she said.

“They watched every breath and savored each second” recounted Luci’s sister Maria who was in the hospital room.

Luci and Chris could not stop gazing upon their girls with love.

Maria recounted how Luci kept saying over and over again, “I’m just bursting with joy, I can’t explain it. I just love them so much.”

“I’m not sure what it feels like for Heaven to pour down on me, but this must be it,” said Luci. “I am just so happy.”

The girls’ time of departure was beginning to draw near. Chris held his babies until they took their last breath and their single heart gave its last beat.

“Then the little girls peacefully, so very peacefully, left for their trip to paradise. Hand in hand, they went eagerly to see the King who created them so specially,” said Maria.

Shortly after the girls’ passing, Luci and Chris invited family members into the hospital room to bid farewell to the tiny babies.

“Everyone rotated into the hospital room a little at a time,” said Maria. “Most of us held the little treasures and marveled at their tiny hands and long feet … Everyone just kept saying, ‘They are so beautiful.’”

It was finally time for Luci and Chris to say a final farewell to their baby girls. The parents wept bitterly.

“From the depths of their souls came a sorrow that only a parent who has lost a child could know,” said Maria.

Love Letters

Two weeks passed by.

Luci found the courage to share on her family’s blog the miracle of love that took place in the hospital room. She wrote her thoughts in the form of a love letter to Hope and Grace.

“My Dearest Daughters,

“I miss you. I love you. It’s hard to believe that it was more than two weeks ago that I received the news that you were to be born to me that Tuesday evening. I was so scared. I was so unprepared to finally meet you. I truly was not ready to part from the joy you brought while I carried you.

“I shook with such anguish knowing that once you left the comfort of my belly, that you would shortly leave me forever here on earth.

“You came to us at 6:01 pm, and you both took your first breaths of life. When I saw them carry you both over to the warming table and your Pappa by your side to baptize you, it was the proudest moment of my life. I couldn’t believe that you were mine and that God had given me such a beautiful family.

“It is an image I will never forget - Your Pappa in his blue scrubs baptizing your foreheads with holy water, and though I could not see your face Hope, I know your eyes were open looking at your father. And Grace your eyes open looking at me for the first time. To see your eyes so big and beautiful staring back at me let me know that the ultimate gift had been given to your Pappa and I - the gift of life.

“When your Pappa brought you over to my arms I was so impatient to get every glimpse of you I could. We sat together for the first time as a family. How big all our hearts grew in that moment.

“In your Pappa’s arms and my hand caressing your faces, I was in love.

“I fell in love with your curly hair, your smooshed noses, your long fingers and long feet and so in love with your beautiful bodies that were connected together in a hug so tight, that even God did not choose to separate.

“I was so proud to show you to our families that gathered in prayer and love to welcome you into this world. We were all there, expecting you to come to us and to fill our hearts, and you did.

“How I miss your sweet lives in my arms. It is a feeling I will never forget for the rest of my life.

“When I go to bed, I can still feel you on my chest, pressing our hearts against each other, as we did in the hospital bed. And I hold my heart so tightly as though I am holding you again.

“And though your sweet heart finished beating, the hearts of your Pappa and I are still here.

“We were not overwhelmed with grief or pain: we saw such beauty and comfort in knowing that you were here and with us. I couldn’t stop the awe that overwhelmed me in that you were right there in my arms snuggling with me. It was truly what I had asked the Lord for, and he did give it to me.

“And as I watched your Pappa bathe you and dress you, and look at you in such pride and love, I think I fell in love with you three all over again.

“And today, my sweet Hope and Grace, I have to continue without seeing your faces or watching your Pappa hold you, until we are called to be with you in Heaven. And this hurts my heart the most.

“I know you must hate it when I cry everyday and have this longing pain to be with you, but it is because I love you. It is good this pain and suffering I feel for you daily, for I hope that it only makes me stronger to be a saint like you have taught me; that way, I may go to Heaven right away and sweep you back into my arms again where I desperately need you to be.

“Please pray for me, girls that I will be strong, that I will be patient and most of all that I will be completely surrendered to God’s Will.

“We have had such a tremendous journey together. Haven’t we? You have been with me at each second, of each moment of each day for the past 8 months and now you are with Jesus.

“Thank you my darlings for bringing me the greatest joy my heart has ever known. Thank you my sweet dumplings for making me so proud of who you have become to so many people who have heard your story of life.

“Thank you Hope and Grace for filling my heart with your love. I will always cherish and appreciate that God gave you to us. He gave your Pappa and I life with you in our arms; something that was supposed to have never even have happened.

“I am so unworthy of such a gift.

“You brought to me Heaven in a little room, in this big world.

“God has called you girls each by name. We love you and will be with you again.”

A year later, on the anniversary of their birthday, Chris wrote his own letter of love to his departed daughters.

“One year ago today at 6:01 pm you made me the proudest and happiest Papa ever! It was on June 23, 2009 when I finally received the answers to my prayers.

“I got to see you face-to-face … I got to meet my beautiful daughters.

“It was both of you who showed me the beauty of life, the heavenly sacrifices and the gratitude of all that God has blessed me with. I thank you both for giving me the honor of loving you, reading to you, holding you until you left for a higher journey, and for allowing me to be your Papa.

“You girls, mean more to me than words can ever describe. So much that I have reserved a place in my heart especially for you. A place that can never be filled and a constant reminder of what I must fulfill to someday be given an eternal opportunity to meet you face-to-face and hold you again.”

The Beauty of Life

Photographer Melanie Pace, whose profound pictures capture the birth, life, and death of the two girls summarized in her own words the power of love that she witnessed that day in the hospital room: “God gave us these girls to teach us the beauty of life. To remind us how blessed we are even in times when it feels quite the opposite.”

Today, Luci and Chris find consolation in the words of the Psalmist: “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14).”

“To this very day I read this verse and look at pictures of Hope and Grace and see God’s perfection,” said Luci to LifeSiteNews. “I see how much effort God put into ‘knitting’ two such beautiful souls together through one heart and how blessed I am to be their mother. Their lives have touched so many people in so many incredible ways.”

“Hope and Grace, you showed me that all this time your Pappa and I were right about you, in that you are fighters for life and for faith! We were right in that, even though God has asked so much of our little family, that much was also given to us. It is something only that our four souls will truly ever know … how beautiful it all really was ... and is.”

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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