Reflections: The Woman God Sees

I spoke to 70 women at our church’s Women’s Day Retreat. The following is the message that I shared with them. I edited out a few details to protect the privacy of personal history of people mentioned:

Let me begin by telling you two stories… Listen for which one you relate to the most…

Once upon a time there was a girl who was raised by Christian parents who loved her and her siblings very much. She asked Jesus into her heart when she was four years old and she was baptized when she was eight years old. She had several strong Christian role models in her life; including her grandparents, who would travel halfway across the country to spend time with her family. Throughout her younger years, the girl had several close friends who she remains in contact with now that she is an adult. During elementary school years, she looked forward to going to church camp every year. During middle and high school years, she enjoyed going to youth groups every week. She loved to sing solos or with worship teams and choirs and still loves to sing as an adult. She also enjoyed going on local, short term, and overseas mission trips. As an adult, she married a Christian man in the military, went to college, traveled the world, has had several fulfilling jobs, and has several children. She served as a Women’s Ministry Director at a church she attended. She has lead and facilitated Bible Study groups at churches and at her home. Over the years, she has mentored several women and teen girls. She currently serves in various jobs, ministries, and volunteer positions within her community.

That sounds like a pretty good life right? Maybe it is similar to your story?

Maybe you don’t relate to that at all. Maybe you will relate better to the next story…

Once upon a time there was a girl who grew up in a poor household. Her father almost died of a chronic condition when she was a toddler. Fortunately, her father recovered but the problems did not end there. The family constantly struggled financially with lack of money. The girl’s mother struggled with severe depression due to an abusive childhood and a stressful marriage. As the oldest of four, the girl often cared for the kids when the parents were not able to care for them. When the girl was 13, her parents divorced and her mother got re-married a year later. During her middle school and high school years the girl always looked for love from the various boyfriends she had. She started smoking cigarettes in secret with her friends. She rebelled against her parents with a bad attitude and anger outbursts. She got married as soon as she was able to at age 20 because she wanted to get away from her dysfunctional childhood and be on her own. She quickly realized that she carried her childhood baggage into her marriage. She experienced a very bad car accident with a semi-truck resulting in chronic pain. She had several miscarriages. She and her husband worked difficult jobs on different shifts and they hardly ever saw each other. They both allowed sin to creep into their lives, and as a result they were on the verge of divorce when her husband got notice that they were moving overseas for his job. During their attempt to reconcile, they got pregnant again. They decided to stay together and moved overseas and had two children. However, they never really resolved their sin issues and their marriage hit rock bottom. She continued to allow anger and bitterness invade her life.

You would not want to be that woman right? Which story do you relate to the most?

What if I told you that both stories describe the life of same woman?

What if I told you that… I am that woman.

Before you knew my story, you may have had preconceived notions of who I was based on the persona that I put forward in public… the smile on my face, my answers in Bible study, a brief conversation in the church hallway, what I write on my blog. You may have assumed I had a decent life based on the little that you knew about me. Does it shock you now that you know the truth? Now that you know that there is more to my story? My dysfunctional childhood, the pain of loosing unborn babies, the heartache of a marriage hitting rock bottom due to sin my husband and I allowed into our lives?

It is a misconception that Christians are supposed to have a perfect life and are perfect people.

Even though we often portray our best in public, we often put forward a persona that we want other people to see while hiding the struggles, heartaches, and sins that we are dealing with in private or within our home. Maybe you really have had a great overall life! But I can guarantee that every single one of us has had to go through a valley that makes us feel completely ugly, alone, depressed, and separated from God.

The stain of sin has ruined every person on earth. If you have ever hit rock bottom, you know that it is the worst hopeless feeling in the world. You feel like there is no way out. You feel like a minute in time is an eternity. You feel like you cannot continue on your own. You feel like you are not enough. Maybe, you are in the bottom of this pit right now.

Let me tell you a little secret: You will never be able to get out of your pit on your own. You may try different things that seem to work but eventually everything that you try to do will fall short.

God never promised that we would always be happy or have perfect lives 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. 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.

Remember when I said that you cannot get out of your pit on your own?

The good news is that JESUS can carry you out of your pit! JESUS can walk beside you through the valley. JESUS can fill the hopelessness in your life. JESUS can blot out the sins in your life.

One of my favorite Bible verses is:

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.”

el-roi

Our theme for this retreat is: “Reflections: The Woman God Sees.” The name of God “El Roi” means “the God who sees me.” This name was only used in the Bible once in Genesis 16:13:

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

An Egyptian slave woman named Hagar gave this name to God when she was alone in the desert. When she was completely hopeless in the circumstances that she was facing, God answered her cry for help. God saw her right where she was. Although Hagar is the only woman recorded in the Bible praying to “El Roi,” there are several other women in the Bible who also went through hardships and hopeless circumstances. God saw them too and he answered them and delivered them.

Ruth: a pagan widowed woman moved to a foreign land with her mother-in-law after her husband died. Facing famine and ruin, she chose to follow the God of the Hebrews. She was rescued and married by a kinsmen redeemer. Her son, Obed, is in the lineage of Christ.

Esther: a Jewish girl who was taken from her family to be in the king’s harem. She eventually earned the king’s favor and became a queen “for such a time as this.” She fasted and prayed for God to deliver her people who were sentenced to death. God provided a way for the people to defend themselves against those that would try to kill them.

Bathsheba: a married woman whose husband was away at war, committed adultery with King David (whether by force or by consent we do not know). After she got pregnant, the king had her husband killed and then married her. Due to their sin, they lost their baby. Due to their repentance, their second son, Solomon, later became king and is in the lineage of Christ.

New Testament Women, there are too many to mention but here are a few that stand out in my mind in no particular order:

Mary and Martha: were sisters who along with their brother Lazarus were close friends with Jesus and his disciples. They often hosted them in their home. When Lazarus was dying, they sent word to Jesus in hopes that he would make it in time to heal him. Jesus arrived after Lazarus had already been in the tomb for several days. In their grief, Mary and Martha questioned Jesus’ timing. When he raised Lazarus from the grave, he showed them that he cared for them and that there is a purpose for the difficulties that we face.

The Samaritan woman has had 5 husbands and was currently living with a man not her husband. Jesus met her at the well as she was drawing water during a time that was not typical for women to get water. She was avoiding being around other women who would gossip and shame her. Jesus not only spoke to her, which was not typical of a man or rabbi to do, but he also saw into her heart and gave her the living water of hope, forgiveness, and salvation.

The unnamed woman with the issue of blood: We know that she had a constant menstrual bleeding and hemorrhaging that lasted for 12 years. This made her “unclean” in the Jewish culture and everyone and everything that she touched would also be unclean. She would not have been allowed in the temple. People would have shunned her. As Jesus passed by, she recognized that he could heal her. She moved through the crowd and was able to touch the hem of his garment. Which means by the time she got to him, she was crawling on the ground… I wonder if it is because she was so faint from blood loss or if it is because the crowd was trying to push her away. Jesus stopped walking and turned to the woman saying that her faith had made her well. After 12 years of suffering, she was healed because she had faith enough to reach out to Jesus.

We all have to climb different mountains and walk (maybe crawl) through different valleys.

Over the years I have reconciled with my parents. God healed my mom of her depression and she is an amazing living testimony of how God can bring someone out of a pit. My husband and I will be celebrating fifteen years of marriage in a couple of weeks and we have three beautiful children. It took a long time for my husband and I to get to where we are today. God did not heal our wounds overnight and God still allowed us to suffer through additional heartaches and trials. I still have to deal with my sin stronghold of anger on almost a daily basis. I often struggle with complacency with my relationship with Jesus. However, God is continuously working on me. I can look back over past circumstances and see God’s presence in a way that I did not see him at the time. Knowing that he carried me out of my pits and through my valleys, allows me to trust in him whenever I face a new trial. It also allows me to minister to women who face similar trials that I have faced in the past.

I want you to know that God sees you.

God hears you.

God knows YOUR name.

God loves you.

Zephaniah 3:17 says: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Have faith and reach out to the God of the universe. Allow him to meet you right where you are.

Pray with me the following verse:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:10-12

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“El ROI” image found here.

“The Woman God Sees” graphic downloaded from CTA.

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)

16266255_10211997748208152_9075046753352982119_n

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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?