When The Holy Spirit Lays Something On Your Heart…

…Listen and Obey. 

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I am in the beginning stages of planning something for the women of my church. The idea came to me after several months of hearing about many friends within our church dealing with various difficult circumstances. Some are dealing with their own illnesses or that of a family member, death of a loved one, marital conflict, parenting rebellious children, keeping the home front functioning while their husband is deployed, financial struggles, sin strongholds, and several other circumstances. I know that many times women carry the burden of caring for others while often neglecting themselves. Our church is large and many of us do not know each other. I want to bring us together for a day so that we can fellowship together and build lasting friendships and support systems. I want the women of our church will feel the presence of God even while they are dealing with heartache, tragedy, complacency, or any difficulty within their lives. I want our women to feel loved by God and know that God sees us and meets us right where we are.

Like I said, this is only the beginning stage… I have met with some church leadership who will present my ideas to the church board and staff. If approved, I can plan and organize to my hearts content. Just in the past week of meetings and creating a possible outline of events, I have felt the Holy Spirit working in my heart. I found myself crying for no apparent reason this morning as I was contemplating what to write for my presentation. The burden to encourage and to pray for the women of my church has swelled up in my soul.

I write this to you as a plea for your prayers. Please pray that if it is God’s Will for my ideas to come to fruition, that everything will fall into place:

  • that the church will give their approval
  • that a date can be set
  • that finances and child care will be available so that the women can attend
  • that God will give me the words to say
  • that the event team can create a plan that honors Him

Thank you for your prayer support! I’ll keep you updated!

How To Be A Noble Woman

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:13-31 NIV

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Quiet Time Book Giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS TO LEIGHANN H.
WINNER OF THE BOOK GIVEAWAY!
You have been notified with a message to the email address you provided. PLEASE RESPOND WITH YOUR MAILING ADDRESS WITHIN 5 DAYS AT:
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It has been awhile since I have done a giveaway… so let’s do one now!

This is a great time of year to start new routines. Some of my goals are to journal daily, organize my home, etc. On March 1st, I will give away the following package of books:

(Total Value: $40.00)

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ENTER TO WIN:

~(Mandatory) Comment on this blog post:

What are your quiet time goals for 2017?

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Terms & Conditions:

1. Entries will be accepted until midnight Tuesday, February 28, 2017. One (1) winner will be chosen at random from the entries submitted.

2. The top of this post will be updated with the announcement of the winner and I will attempt to contact the winner by the email they provide.

3. Winner must e-mail me with name (first & last) and mailing address within 5 days of announcement otherwise the book will be sent to a new winner. hearttreasurescontact@gmail.com

Disclaimer: This is a free giveaway at Heart Treasures Blog’s expense, therefore, Heart Treasures Blog is not responsible for loss or damage of the giveaway item(s). Giveaway open only to residents of the United States (unless you have a US Military address such as APO, FPO, etc.)

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Character: Discipline

66022_1_ftc_dpA couple of weeks ago, my ladies Bible study continued with Session 2: Discipline in the book:

Character: Reclaiming Six Endangered Qualities, InterActions Series
By Bill Hybels / Zondervan

You can read my post on the previous session here: Session 1: Courage

The key passage for Session 2: Discipline is:

Proverbs 1:1-7 “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Because it was used a couple of times in the key verses, I looked up the definition of prudence. It is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason, shrewdness in the management of affairs, skill and good judgement in the use of resources, and caution or circumspection as to danger or risk. I think that knowing this definition helps with understanding of the verses.

This session focuses on four areas of personal discipline: Spiritual, Physical, Financial, and Relational. In each section, it has us reflect on how disciplined we think we are in these areas.

The Essence of Discipline… Delayed Gratification

The author describes delayed gratification as “the commitment to schedule the pain of life first so we can really experience the pleasures of life that follow.” So in our areas of personal discipline, delayed gratification might look like the following:

Spiritual: Waking up a little earlier or going to bed a little later in order to commit some time to spend reading the Bible, praying, and having quiet time with God.

Physical: Committing to exercise on a regular basis and making healthy food choices.

Financial: Creating a savings plan in order to slowly set aside money for a big purchase, vacation, and/or retirement.

Relational: Make an effort to have heart-to-heart talks with a friend or family member you desire to have an authentic relationship with.

The Practice of Discipline… Advanced Decision-Making

Once deciding that delayed gratification is essential to discipline, we must take the next step. This involves making decisions ahead of time about how we will practice discipline in our lives. If we have a plan set firmly in our mind, then when temptation comes to ignore the plan, we will be more likely to stick to the plan. Some plans might look like the following:

Spiritual: Committing to be involved with a local Bible study group and making time to do the homework before each meeting.

Physical: Scheduling time several times a week to go to the gym and/or workout at home.

Financial: Creating a monthly budget and sticking to it.

Relational: Make time to regularly call, write, and/or meet a friend or family member.

The Rewards of Discipline

When we are able to commit to delayed gratification and advanced decision-making in order to be disciplined in our daily lives, we start to see the benefits of being disciplined. Rewards could be as follows:

Spiritual: A growing and mature Christian life and a close relationship with God.

Physical: A healthy body, increased energy, and increased self-worth.

Financial: Being free from debt and not having to live paycheck to paycheck.

Relational: Having a flourishing marriage, family life, and close, significant friendships.

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I have had enough experience in my life to know the downfalls of not being disciplined in each of these areas. I think that I am pretty disciplined in my planning and organization. However, putting my plans into action is a different story. In all of the areas we discussed, I have some work to do. Being disciplined in each of these areas requires constant attention, perseverance, and prayer!

How can you put discipline into practice this week?

Character: Courage

66022_1_ftc_dpI attend Community Bible Study during the school year but I was missing the fellowship and in-depth study this summer. So, in an effort to meet some new neighbors and spend quality time with some friends, I started a summer Bible study in my home for a few ladies and myself. We are reading and discussing:

Character: Reclaiming Six Endangered Qualities, InterActions Series
By Bill Hybels / Zondervan

Yesterday, we met for the first time and discussed Session 1: Character. I thought that I would share each week what I have learned here on my blog. This study was written for men and women. However, I am facilitating this study for ladies so I will be using female terms.

The courage session focuses on courage in every day life versus the big once in a lifetime acts of heroism that we hear about in the media. The type of courage that it takes to be a wife, mother, and friend. The Bible passage for this session is:

1 Timothy 1:7-12 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

The author uses Paul as a Biblical example. Through his trials, suffering, imprisonment, etc., Paul is someone who exhibited every day courage because of his faith in Jesus Christ. I want to point out here (even though it is not mentioned in the book we are reading), that it is a pet peeve of mine when Christians say “God will not give us more than we can handle.” This is not Biblically based at all. It is misconstrued with God not allowing us to be tempted beyond what we can handle and that there is always a way out of temptation. However, Paul is the example time and time again that a Christian can and will go through trials, suffering, pain, hardship… even to the point of death. Paul says in

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Through our hardships; God wants us to fully rely on him so that he can deliver us and heal us. God wants to draw us into a closer relationship with him. He will always rescue us but sometimes it is in the midst of our hardships. He doesn’t always remove us from circumstances but allows us to go through them in order to draw us nearer to Him. And he can always use our testimonies to impact other people and draw them into His kingdom. It takes great every day courage to keep our faith as we go through hardship.

This session is divided into three sections: Spiritual Courage, Moral Courage, and Relational Courage.

Spiritual Courage:

The author points out that we often hear from non-believers that Christianity is for weak people, cowards, and is a crutch. He uses the example of non-believers who are confronted with their sin but who do not have the courage to admit their sins before a Holy God. They justify themselves by saying that they are a good person and the sins they have committed are just little mistakes. They falsely assume that God will allow all “good” people into heaven. He says that it takes much courage for someone to become a Christian, admit that they are a sinner, and follow Christ in a secular world.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [emphasis mine]

When speaking of a non-believer deciding to follow Christ or a Christian continuing to follow Christ in a secular world, YES, it does take great courage. However, I went a different direction with my thoughts on this. I AM weak but because of Christ, I am made strong in spite of my weakness. Without Christ, I am nothing and can do nothing of value. With Christ, I have the ability to do great things and stand strong in a fallen world.

2 Corinthians 12:9-11 “…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Moral Courage:

The author gives several examples of areas where it might be easy to fall into temptation… even as a Christian. Income taxes, sexual purity, bending truth to avoid conflict, etc. How do we handle the temptation when it comes knocking at our door? How do we react after giving into temptation and being caught?

Christ calls us to have integrity and courage even when no one else cares or notices. We should have the courage to be truthful in all things, to have integrity behind closed doors, and to exhibit Christ to all people we encounter (in person or on the internet).

Relational Courage:

The author focuses on marriage and parenting but this also applies to friendships. It takes courage to be vulnerable in marriage and admit when things are not going well. Sometimes counseling, meeting with accountability partners, and/or sitting down to have a serious discussion are important to help repair a marriage. It takes courage to discipline children when they need correction and to train them in the way of Christ even if it is not popular to do so in our entitled, government knows what is best society.

Have you seen a marriage fall apart because of adultery, pornography, alcohol, abuse, or just plain selfishness? Many marriages end in divorce because one or both parties just give up and go their own way with out consideration of the effects their decisions have on their children and future.

On the flip side, have you seen marriages recover from any of the above circumstances? My marriage has recovered from extreme circumstances and I have witnessed other marriages recover as well. Almost always, the common denominator is Christ. When both spouses are willing to admit that they are wrong, when both spouses are willing to forgive each other the way Christ forgave us, when both spouses are willing to get the outside help needed, then there is a good chance that a marriage can recover from extreme brokenness. This takes courage because most often it is a long road to recovery. It takes courage to stand strong when society says to just take the “easy road” out.

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Overall, I have learned to be more aware of areas I can exhibit courage on a daily basis… even if it is not recognized by others. One of my group members said that sometimes it takes courage just to get out of bed in the morning! I want to be like Paul and show courage in the midst of trials and suffering but I also want to be able to show courage in all things even when everything is going well.

How can you show courage in your every day life this week?

Why I Am Pro-Life…

I have always been raised with an anti-abortion outlook because of being raised in a Christian family.

However, just because I was raised a Christian doesn’t mean I actually was a Christian. I had to choose to have a relationship and believe in Jesus as my God. And although I made that decision at a young age, I continually study God’s Word and I love researching culture, history, archeology, and science that affirms my faith.

In the same way, when it comes to abortion, I have researched from a medical perspective and from a personal experience perspective. I have several friends who have had abortions and they either regret their decision and are pro-life or they do not regret their decision and are pro-choice. I have had many debates with the friends who are pro-choice but even though we disagree, we still have great friendships.

Due to a recent conversation with a friend, I started to think about why I am pro-life. There is not one defining moment. Instead there are several circumstances throughout my life where I have had the opportunity to contemplate the pro-life perspective. The following stories are some of the significant experiences that contributed to why I am pro-life. For further reading about the truth of abortion you can go to my list of blog posts relating to the topic (including my opinion on if the mother’s life is at risk). After reading the following stories, I would love to hear your input and opinions relating to my experiences. Feel free to comment respectfully. Any rude and inappropriate comments will not be posted.

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twinsI was first exposed to “abortion” when I was around age 5. Although, I fully did not understand what was going on until later. My mom was pregnant and while she was doing a marching band performance during a pro-football game half-time show she started bleeding. Her doctor recommended a D&C (dilation of the cervix then scraping or suctioning out the tissues inside the uterus) because he thought the baby was not going to survive. My mom questioned if this was an abortion and the doctor decided to do an ultrasound to confirm his suspicions and reassure my mom. He immediately was able to see why my mom was bleeding. He saw that the baby was tearing off of the uterine wall because a second baby was pushing him. He told my mom that if one baby died, the chances of the other baby surviving was slim. He put her on strict bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. She was in and out of the hospital and consistently being monitored as high risk. My mom, family, & friends prayed fervently over the babies and they were born one month before their due date and survived. I would not have my brother and sister if the doctor had not done an ultrasound that day.

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I lost my virginity when I was in college and still living in my parent’s home. I went into panic mode not only because I had been planning to wait until marriage but also because I imagined how getting pregnant would affect my entire life. I assumed that everyone around me would judge me for not being the good Christian girl that I claimed to be. I assumed I would be asked to leave my parent’s house.  I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to finish college. I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to financially support myself. A couple of days later, I called an OB-GYN office to ask how long it would take for me to know if I got pregnant or not. The nurse gave me the usual “based on your period” response and she recommended Plan B. She told me it would keep me from getting pregnant if I had not yet conceived but she could not assure me that if I had already conceived that it would not cause a miscarriage. I told her I needed to think about it and I would call her back if I decided to make an appointment. I never called her back. I decided that because I made a stupid decision, I would hope for the best but I would have to live with any consequences. I could not justify causing an abortion even if I did not know for sure if I was pregnant. A couple of weeks later I was relieved to know that I was not pregnant. Shane and I got married several months later in August 2002.

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2003-2004 I was working as a nurse (LPN) at an OB-GYN doctors office. At the time, the office had 9 doctors and a Nurse Practitioner who were apart of the practice. When I went to the office for my interview, the head nurse saw, under volunteer work, on my resume’ that I had gone to Brazil for church mission trips and she assumed that I probably would be against abortion. During the interview, she confided in me that there were a few doctors in the practice who sometimes did surgical abortions at the surgery center. She also said that on occasion, some of the doctors would give abortion causing pills in the office. She made it very clear that the nurses who are morally against abortion could ask another nurse to take over during the time these patients were in the office. I really wanted to be in the OB-GYN field so Shane and I prayed about it and decided that I should still work there. When I was hired, I confirmed with the head nurse that I was very against abortion and that I would not participate in it at all.

During my time there, I cared for women during their pregnancies, including when they miscarried. I remember one woman came in to confirm her miscarriage and brought the passed tissues in a baggie. I think that she was about 11-12 weeks along. The baggie was given to the nurses so that we could send the tissues to the lab. In the bag, there was a perfectly round circle of tissue (about the size of a half dollar). The nurses gathered around and we held it up to the light. We could see an amazing outline of a baby. I will never forget that image. My heart ached for the woman and for the tiny baby that I held in my hand.

Several months later, one of the doctors had given a teenager (I don’t remember how old she was but probably 17-18 years old) the abortion causing pills. She went home to complete the process but the pills did not work properly so she came back into the office. The doctor completed the process in the office. We heard the girl’s cries of pain from down the hallway. And of course, it was the responsibility of the nurses to send the tissues to the lab and clean the instruments used during the procedure. I was not prepared for the wave of emotions I felt. I was angry at the doctor who did the procedure in the office. I was in shock that it had actually happened the way it did. I felt bad for one of the other nurses who had no clue that some of the doctors did occasional abortions. I resigned later that week making sure my boss knew that I felt that the whole situation was completely unacceptable.

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16weeks500x379In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I had always wanted children and was very excited. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor didn’t say for sure that I was having a miscarriage. But as a nurse who had worked in the OB-GYN field, I knew what was going on. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote a poem called My Valley. We chose the name Kendal during this time, based on the poem which I wrote “as I walk through the valley of death”. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil and we almost got divorced but during the time we were trying to reconcile we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006 and Kendal was born 9 months later. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together.

During my time of grieving, I found it very difficult to read articles or hear news related to abortion. It physically & emotionally hurt to know that there were babies being discarded when there were people like me who wanted a baby so badly. Yes, I was eventually able to have my own children but there are many couples who for whatever reason cannot have children and would give anything to adopt and love an unwanted baby. Some day I would love to do the same.

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Audrey was induced and born in 2009. I had a smooth delivery but after the epidural wore off and I tried to get out of bed for the first time, I started hemorrhaging and passed out. The doctor determined that I had retained placenta and they manually tried to get it out. I was in extreme pain and went in and out of consciousness. I stayed in the hospital an extra day because I had lost a lot of blood and they were making sure that I wouldn’t need a transfusion. At my 6 week postpartum exam, I was still bleeding on a daily basis since the delivery. The doctor scheduled me for an ultrasound which was several weeks later. The ultrasound showed that I still had placenta in my uterus so she gave me Misoprostol (abortion pills) in order to cause my uterus to contract and hopefully expel the remaining placenta tissues. I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly painful this process was. I was in a lot of pain for several days that even Percocet could not alleviate. I have experienced the physical pain of abortion without actually having an abortion.

When this process did not work, I ended up having a D&C to scrape the retained placenta out of the uterus. This procedure is often used after miscarriages and for 1st trimester and some 2nd trimester abortions. I had general anesthesia during the procedure. Unfortunately, anesthesia is often not used during abortions. When I went to the doctor for my follow-up, he did an ultrasound to make sure that the procedure worked. It did not. There was still retained placenta tissue still visible. So I had a second D&C (the doctor used an ultrasound during the procedure to confirm that it was completely removed). Finally, after 6 months of bleeding, medications, surgical procedures, pain, depression, etc, I was able to recover from Audrey’s delivery.

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This section was UPDATED in January 2017 to include experiences/information that happened after this article was originally published:

One question that often comes up in my discussions/debates about abortion is about birth control. I personally have used several methods of birth control throughout my life. My belief after much research is that if it can prevent conception that it is not causing an abortion. If it is preventing a fertilized egg from implanting then it is causing an abortion. Most hormonal methods of birth control when used correctly do a combination of preventing fertilization and preventing implantation. SO there is no guarantee that it will prevent fertilization. For that reason, my husband and I decided that we would go off of birth control 3 years ago and do natural family planning & withdraw (neither of which are 100% birth control but we were ok with it if we should get pregnant). As far as Plan B goes, if it is taken immediately after the rape happens then I would assume it would prevent fertilization and therefore not cause an abortion. If the woman waits then there is no guarantee of that. So, my opinion on that is pending each particular situation.

While off of hormonal birth control, I miscarried two more times (this makes a total of 4 known miscarriages because of pregnancy tests that confirmed the pregnancies). This emotional roller coaster caused a stronger desire to have more children. So, I started researching adoption. During Fall 2015, Shane and I started the state’s CYFD foster and adoption process of applications, background checks, and classes. Half way through the classes schedule, Shane felt very strongly that it was not the right timing for us to foster and/or adopt. I think he was overwhelmed by the process. There were unknowns coming up for his military career and with our financial situation. I actually was going to continue the classes without him because I was so emotionally wrapped up in the process but just before the next class, I decided not to go out of respect to Shane. I cried for days.

In February 2016 (around the time we would have completed the CYFD classes), I had another positive pregnancy test. About a week after I took the test, I had went to the Emergency Room for bleeding and cramping. My ultrasound did not show a pregnancy in the uterus so the OB doctor suspected an ectopic pregnancy. He was very concerned for me and offered the option of termination to prevent tube rupture. I opted to tolerate the pain and wait. I knew the exact day we conceived based on how I tracked my cycle & sex with natural family planning so I knew that the pregnancy was still very early. I was under strict orders to rest and return to ER if pain got worse. Two days later, I had another ultrasound which was still inconclusive. I was still bleeding and cramping but my quant level had not decreased even though it was low. We waited again. Four days later we repeated the ultrasound and a sac was seen in the uterus. At that point, it was confirmed that I did not have an ectopic pregnancy but miscarriage was still a possibility.

I started a routine of having ultrasounds every 4 weeks throughout the entire pregnancy (most women have 2 ultrasounds during their pregnancy, one in the 1st trimester to confirm implantation and one around 20 weeks for anatomy scan). I also had a full work up to see if there was a reason for my past miscarriages (they did not find anything). I was very sick with dehydration, non-stop nausea and vomiting, weight loss, etc. until around 14 weeks. I continued to cramp and bleed until around 20 weeks. Every ultrasound I had showed a healthy and growing baby even though my body was not tolerating being pregnant very well.

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Had I terminated with the initial hospital visit, I would not have my perfect son, Kaleb, today.

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*END UPDATE*

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Sometime in 2010, I started this blog website. I used my writing to help me get through some difficult times in my life and marriage. I started interacting online with other bloggers and following pages that interested me. A few of those blogging friends kept me updated on abortion related statistics, politics, news, etc. Although I have always considered myself pro-life, I started feeling burdened to be a voice for the unborn. I started posting about abortion on my blog and on facebook. I started having real conversations with friends who disagree with me in order to know their perspective. I had a desire to help women who are contemplating abortion or who have had them in the past.

When we moved to New Mexico, I found out that there is a Pregnancy Resource Center in our town. They provide free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, STD testing, counseling, resources, classes, etc. to women and girls who have unplanned and/or crisis pregnancies. I have not yet been able to volunteer directly with the clients (due to timing and other commitments) but I have taken the peer counseling training, have helped raise money, helped with the fundraising banquets, participated in awareness runs/walks, etc.

My hope is that someday I can truly make a difference in the life of a woman with an unplanned pregnancy. There are other options available to women that are not often talked about (adoption and keeping the baby). There is counseling, resources, and help available for women who choose options other than abortion. And there is counseling, resources, and help for those who have had abortions in the past. My purpose for being pro-life is not to condemn or judge those who have had abortions but instead to help others see that there is value to all life born or unborn, young or old, etc.

Have you taken the time to think about why you are pro-life?

My Valley

Several years ago, I shared part of my personal testimony as a Mother’s Day post (you can see original post here). A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to share a devotional with my women’s Bible study group. A few days before I had to share,  I had a pretty personal conversation with Noriko that lead to me sharing my testimony with the women (most of which had not heard it before). I did make some changes from my original post but most of it is unchanged or just rearranged. I did not share all of this with Noriko [my exchange student from Japan who was with us during the 2013/2014 school year] just the parts below that I specifically mention her. So here is what I shared with my friends:

I was saved as a young child and grew up in a Christian but very dysfunctional home. As the oldest of 4 kids I had to grow up way too quickly while we dealt with severe illnesses, divorce, remarriages, constant moves, financial insecurity, and a whole lot more. When I was young; all I wanted in life was to get married and have kids. I dated several guys throughout high school and had serious relationship my senior year and after high school another serious relationship that lead to engagement. Shane and I started dating a few months after my previous engagement ended. We got married in 2002. I jumped into a marriage expecting it to cure all of life’s problems but I carried a lot of my childhood baggage with me. I quickly found out that life’s problems didn’t go away just because I switched households and who I was accountable to. We had a great first year of marriage. After that our careers (Shane-Military & Me-Nursing) and different shifts carried us in different directions and from there our marriage went downhill on so many different levels. We also experienced several difficulties which included me being in a major car accident which God totally and graciously spared my life. In February 2005; I found out that I was pregnant. I had always wanted children and was very excited. I called and told a lot of my family and friends as soon as I found out. My excitement was soon crushed with pain and bleeding. At first the doctor didn’t say for sure that I was miscarrying. But as a nurse who had worked in the OB-GYN field, I knew what was going on. In my pain and while I was still hoping for the best; I wrote the following poem:

My Valley

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death;

You give me strength to sing.

Only you know why I am going through this trial.

I can rest in your comforting arms.

Not knowing what the future holds for this life inside of me;

I give this child to you.

Like Hannah gave you Samuel before he was born,

Like Abraham gave you Isaac before the sacrifice,

I trust your will.

When I rest upon wings as eagles;

You will give me strength.

I shall run through this valley and not be weary.

I shall walk and not be faint.

When I found out that I was pregnant again in November of 2005; I was cautious and did not let everyone know. So when I miscarried again; I did not have to explain to a lot of people who offered their congratulations like the first time. During that time and for several months after; our marriage was in turmoil because of sin that Shane and I each individually had let into our lives. We almost got divorced but during the time we were trying to reconcile we got pregnant for a third time in May of 2006. I believe that God used that pregnancy to keep us together.

We moved to Okinawa, Japan where Kendal and later Audrey was born. For seven months after Audrey was born; I dealt with medical issues including a couple of surgeries. On top of that; our family experienced another major marriage crisis and I started to fall into depression. In 2009, we left Okinawa for about a month and went home to deal with our family situation. During that experience I started to learn what it meant to fully rely on God for comfort and strength.

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In the years since then I have been allowing God to work on me in a way that I never have before that year. The biggest continuing struggle for me has been the anger and bitterness in my life. Each time I experienced a crisis it just added to the problem. I have been able to truly forgive those who have hurt me just like Jesus forgave me on the cross. And I have been able to make time to focus on my relationship with God and my family. I journey with God regularly by praying, writing, singing, and accountability and He continues to heal me on a daily basis. I have not made it to where I need to be yet; but I am daily running the race and pressing towards the goal of being more Christlike. Through everything; God has continued to bless me, my marriage, and my family as a whole.

A few days ago, Noriko (my exchange student) and I had a conversation that inspired me to share all of this with you. Keep in mind that often when we have to explain things to her we have to continuously use her translator for words or concepts she is unfamiliar with. So it is not always a quick explanation. She was asking why Americans have middle names. This led into me explaining that we often choose names based on meaning or family connection. Audrey means Noble Woman and her middle name, Lynae, pays tribute to both my mom whose middle name is Lynn and Shane’s mom who’s first name is Lynn. I told Noriko that Kendal’s name was even more meaningful and explained to her that I had lost 2 babies through miscarriage before she was born. We chose the name Kendal back during our first miscarriage based on the poem which I wrote “as I walk through the valley of death”. In one name book; the meaning for Kendal is: “Ruler of the valley.” We thought that it would be a fitting name for a baby who overcame the valley of death and lived. Noriko seemed to be in awe over all of this.

At the end of my poem I referenced my favorite Bible verses Isaiah 40:29-31 “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

While I was Okinawa, I found a plaque that has the passage in both English and Japanese which is now hanging in our hallway. I showed it to Noriko and after she read it, I explained that when we are tired and broken and are going through things that bring us down, we put our trust in Jesus and he carries us back up so that we can fly again. In response, Noriko said that she likes Christian thinking 🙂

So in conclusion, I would like to emphasize that I give God all of the glory for continuing to work in my life through my trials. My message to all of you is God never promised that we would always be happy when we have Jesus as our Savior; instead he uses Paul’s testimony to tell us that Christians can have hardships far beyond our ability to endure.

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul says “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Through our hardships; God wants us to fully rely on him so that he can deliver us and heal us. God wants to draw us into a closer relationship with him. He will always rescue us but sometimes it is in the midst of our hardships. He doesn’t always remove us from circumstances but allows us to go through them in order to draw us nearer to Him. And he can always use our testimonies to impact other people and draw them into His kingdom.

(Eagle Photo found here)