by Sara Dominguez, Affiliate Services Specialist at Heartbeat International
I am always amazed by the way the year falls into its fast-paced rhythm as soon as we shout, “Happy New Year!” And for this high-speed pace to follow the quiet Christmas season makes it all the more jarring. That’s why I’m always taken aback by how swiftly our calendars turn to Valentine’s Day. And so, here we are—in the month of love!
My favorite thing about Valentine’s Day is that it offers us the opportunity to reflect on the many avenues for love that the Lord offers us every day. From our parents who raised us up in love, to our siblings who reflect authentic love, our friends who lovingly build up our village, our colleagues who link arms with us in missions of love, our spouses whose promise of love fills our lives with joy, and our children who serve as a reminder of the true depths of love.
There is always more room for more love.
There is always more room for more love.
Valentine’s Day also reminds us that “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). What a miraculous reality that we can know true and lasting love. After all, the One who created us loved us first. And it is in this truth of love—deeply imprinted within our hearts—that we are moved to outstretch our arms to those who are thirsting for that same love. And, in this mission of love, we find ourselves united in our pursuit to offer pregnancy help to our communities.
One of Heartbeat International’s hallmark lessons in love can be found in The LOVE Approach which captures and communicates the essence of what it means to reach a woman in the "valley of decision" with the life-saving power of compassion and hope. The LOVE Approach teaches the principles of service in a life-affirming organization so that helpers feel more confident when they work with women in need. The LOVE Approach offers 4 Steps of LOVE that can equip and embolden pregnancy help organizations in their pursuit of serving their clients in love:
Through the LOVE Approach, we take time to engage clients in each of these four steps.
First, by listening and learning about our client—the mom in our maternity home or the father in our fatherhood program. We focus on their situation, offering our total attention, developing trust, and forming a relationship first.
Only after forming the relationship should you begin to help the individual examine options in a factual, loving, and caring way.
As life-affirming organizations, we offer an opportunity that sets us apart—highlighting the individual’s vision and value. Here you can introduce a new and fulfilling vision for the individual. You see paths the individual may have never considered or thought possible and you give the individual a new or reawakened vision of the fullness of life, emphasizing to them that they are worthy of this vision.
Only after you have taken the time to build a relationship with the individual by listening and learning, have opened options, and highlighted the individual’s vision and value will you be ready to extend a plan for the next steps and follow-up. This last step empowers the individual to embrace a life of authentic love.
It's not lost on me of this remarkable privilege we have as pregnancy help organizations to meet people in a moment of great need and to extend our hand as a source of support on their journey. And, in our outstretched hands, I am reminded of Christ’s hands, outstretched for every one of us. We are truly blessed to be known and chosen for the very Love that created us!
Click here for a deeper dive into The LOVE Approach and discover more ways to put these four steps into practice—great for the whole team!
by Jennifer Wright, Editor/WriterHeartbeat International
I was fortunate enough to get an early look at the new book by Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, The L.O.V.E. Approach: 4 Proven Steps to Transforming Relationships in Your Family, Church, and Community. Doing some simple editing and formatting early in the process, I got to read the stories attached to the four steps that are so familiar to those of us at Heartbeat or who have been using Heartbeat materials for training volunteers. Seeing the stories of individuals learning and using these steps in their own lives helped me contextualize a lot of the ways the L.O.V.E. Approach has creeped into my life without me necessarily paying attention. It also showed me places I have stopped at an early step and failed to follow through and make the impact I might have.
I think the difference is one of learning styles for me. I’m blessed to be surrounded by people trained in and practicing the L.O.V.E. Approach at work every day, but sometimes that makes me just think the world works that way (you know, until I spend some time online). With this book, I got to see inside the brains of the characters applying the steps to their lives, and it has helped me internalize the teaching so much better.
You see, in this book, you read about four different characters experiencing a L.O.V.E. Approach training. The characters have different outlooks on life, different challenges, and different hopes for how they’re going to use what they learn. After learning about each step, you get to see one of the characters apply it in their own lives.
The standout step as I read the book the first time (and every time since), is V: Vision and Value. In the story chapter, a character I identify with personally, Katy, leads a women’s ministry group at her church. She was overwhelmed, in a way I’ve felt many times, by the depth of what was being shared by the other women in this group. She was terrified of not having a solution, of offering something that hurt rather than helped, of doing too much, too little, or exactly the wrong thing. One woman in particular, she sees as a mystery. When she decides to really enter in to an open and honest conversation with Ann on her own, all kinds of challenges arise. All of a sudden, Katy is faced with questions of gender identity and fluidity and the fear of not fitting in. Ann was confused, overwhelmed, and hurting, but Katy, with the help of what she learned from the L.O.V.E. Approach training, was able to recognize what Ann was lacking – a vision of her own value and the way things could be.
I can’t tell you how afraid I am sometimes of dealing with this kind of question with friends. The concept of gender fluidity being newly mainstreamed is honestly overwhelming on its own. If you disagree for a moment, the world decides you hate anyone who might have a different view. Finding a way to be profoundly pro-people amid the din of shouting is difficult. Peggy Hartshorn, through Katy, showed me a different way to approach the situation in a one-on-one conversation that affirms the individual and is rooted in God’s word and plan for His people.
I’ll be honest, the first draft I read, Peggy asked me what I thought of this chapter, and I was afraid to say much at all. In the end, my answer was little more than, “You’re incredibly brave. I could see that situation happening. I think it’s very real. You’re incredibly brave to address that topic at all.”
My reaction was ultimately fearful. I wanted in some ways to distance myself from it, but the chapter planted itself in my brain. I have thought of it regularly ever since. In the final draft, it still stands out to me, but now, I don’t want to distance myself from it at all. It’s excellent (as it always was). I still think it’s incredibly brave to address the topic of gender identity in the current climate, and I know it will take bravery when I do, but I expect it of myself now. After all, if Katy could offer a hopeful view of life to someone who has serious questions about gender identity, why couldn’t I?
We need more books and authors like The L.O.V.E. Approach and Peggy Hartshorn. The bravery to address with both love and truth the most challenging and divisive topics of the day is something we can’t do without. Peggy has given this to us in The L.O.V.E. Approach, and I would recommend it to anyone I know.
You can pre-order your copy of The L.O.V.E. Approach today at TheLoveApproachBook.com.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
Valentine's Day brings thoughts of chocolate, cards, cute little stuffed animals, candlelight dinners and so much more. The merchants love this day, filling greeting card racks with hearts and cupids the week after Christmas. We are flooded with advertisements, reminding us to honor our chosen Valentine appropriately (errr, expensively!).
Yet, Valentine's Day is also a great time to reflect on love, real love. Powerful love. Life changing love.
If we are honest, all of us are on a continuing journey to better understand love and to grow in our love for God and our love for those around us. None of us on this Earth today has the idea of love completely figured out. None of us is perfect in accepting love, and none of us lives out a flawless life of giving love.
The good news? We have a perfect example in Jesus. Having lived among us, he knows something about how difficult it can be to love. He knows the struggle of conflict, he knows what it means to be misunderstood, and he knows—better perhaps than any of us—the pain of rejection.
As we follow Jesus and look to emulate his love, he brings words of incredible hope in John 13:34, giving all of us a starting point for understanding the true nature of love.
Talking to the disciples, Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another."
Was this commandment actually "new?"
Yes. To the disciples in fact, relating love to living out faith in this world was actually revolutionary thinking. Here is why:
The disciples knew, and tried to follow, the Old Testament Law. Yet, while there were many commandments in this Law, there were no laws commands focused on loving others. Yes, there were many regulations on how to treat others, but no specific teachings on loving others.
God sent Jesus to introduce love in a new way. We see this in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, where the Lord takes many Old Testament laws and adds to them, "But I say to you . . . ." He was introducing a higher standard for our thinking and behavior based on a foundation of love.
Today, we still have this "new" foundation for our faith which weaves a tapestry throughout our lives: Love.
If every action we take is launched from love, the world changes. If the truth be known, the world around us is not quickly attracted to faith's perspective on social issues (such as life), behavior and relationships.
The world however, is always attracted to those who truly love others selflessly. Jesus knew this, showing us that if we love, we are more likely to move a culture toward God.
Valentine's Day can be fun and full of nice surprises. Yet there is a greater love that can be new every day.
So take heart. If our launching point for each day is love, we are on the right track. Jesus tells us so, and he changed the world.
It's a resource intended for kids, with fun pictures and summarized versions of some of the main events throughout God's story of redemption in the Old and New Testaments. Anabelle, my daughter, always asks to turn back and see the pictures of the characters (both men and women—she hasn't quite grasped the idea of a tunic yet) in their "princess dresses."
But the more we read through God's story with Anabelle, the more I'm convinced that she's not the primary beneficiary night by night... not by a long shot.
That's because The Jesus Storybook Bible is a kids' Bible that hits the nail on the head more than some commentaries I've stumbled upon. The book's subtitle, "Every story whispers his name," tips the reader off that its author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, intends to teach little ones (and their parents!) how every episode throughout Scripture points directly, unmistakably to Jesus.
This is exactly what the resurrected Christ explains to the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 when, "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27).
And so, as we read through Anabelle's Bible night after night, I'm moved and refreshed by what Lloyd-Jones calls God's "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love" for his people.
There's a more succinct way to sum up this special love God has for his people. It's God's covenant love. Or, as the Psalms refer to over and over, his "steadfast love."
This is the love God promises to his people—who he promises to love simply because he loves them (Deuteronomy 7:8)—it's the love that reconciles sinners to himself, meeting us where we are in our sin and brokenness and making us his friends. It's the love that then painstakingly crafts us into the image of the Son he loves.
This is the love that assures us we have a Father who is invincible, and means to do good to us--regardless of the cost--in all circumstances:
What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all good things? (Romans 8:31-32).
As this text points out, the Always and Forever love of God is the kind of love that's guaranteed with blood. The moment our first parents rebelled against God and their nakedness was exposed, the shedding of blood became necessary to clothe them and make them acceptable to the holy God against whom they sinned.
This theme is developed again and again throughout the biblical plotline. Noah offers a sacrifice following the flood. Abraham is spared from offering his son on the mountain (sound like a foreshadowing?) when God provides a ram. The lamb is slaughtered in every Hebrew house in order that the Destroyer would pass over the firstborn. And finally, the sacrificial system is established with the giving of the Law, offering an on-going reminder that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Hebrews 9:22).
What's with all the blood? What did that all mean? And what's it got to do with love?
In a word, this is all about the Word. The Word of God taken on flesh and dwelling among men. Not only that, but taking on the form of a servant—a suffering servant who lived the life we should have lived, bore the wrath of a holy God in our place, conquered death, and disarmed Satan by his vicarious death for sinners and victorious resurrection.
In other words, "God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).
Or, as Paul rehearses this gospel to his beloved friends in Ephesus, "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved..." (Ephesians 2:4-5).
This means that the love of God for us is entirely secure. Our position in his grace never changes. It can't be undone:
Who shall bring any charge against Gods elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was rasied--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separated us fro the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerers through him who loved us... (Romans 8:33-37).
What costly love! What expensive and resolute mercy! It's the kind that never stops, never gives up, always lasts forever. It's the kind of love that multiplies and motivates our love for others and each other. It's the kind that sustains us on our worst day, humbles us on our best day, and gives us the strength to love those our Father brings along our way, no matter how bent on self-destruction and misery they may seem to us.
This is the kind of love Who has never given up--and will never give up--on me.
And it's the kind I'll never get tired of reveling in at my daughter's bedside.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
Most of our clients come to us to confirm that they are pregnant. At least that is what they say they want. But for those of us who have been involved in this ministry for any length of time, we know that pregnancy test is only a symptom of a much greater issue.
If our clients only knew what made good relationships or what to look for in the opposite sex!
Nowadays, our clients often just settle for anyone who comes along. Knowing that this is a growing problem in our society, and feeling that we in the pregnancy center have a great opportunity to educate clients on healthy relationships, we have revised one of the tools of The Sexual Integrity™ Program to help you educate.
“Ingredients for Successful Relationships” is a three-step questionnaire that clients (male or female) fill out to examine their present relationships. Those who are not currently in a relationship can fill out just step two of this questionnaire.
This tool is an excellent way to begin a conversation about healthy relationships and help our clients navigate towards good ones.
Download a pdf of this valuable tool: “Ingredients for Successful Relationships”
Dr. Neil Clark Warren, the founder of eHarmony.com®, takes all of his relationship research and unfolds the secrets behind the web site’s huge success. This book outlines the compatibility that creates a powerful attraction and leads to fulfilling, long-term love.
I found this book most helpful because of the many young men and women who come through the doors of our pregnancy centers looking for love in all the wrong places. This book not only helps equip you to communicate the truth to them, but it is also a great book for them to read and learn about the ingredients that make healthy relationships last a lifetime. This book is a must read for anyone working in the pregnancy center and wanting to offer relationship education to their clients.
Reviewed by Katy Flood, Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity Specialist
Did you hear the one about the lawyer who traveled overseas and taught a bunch of U.S. military families how to better serve women facing unexpected pregnancies?
Fair enough, there’s not much promise for a joke in that question, but you have to admit, the latest Heartbeat International international training does sound a bit peculiar when you first hear about it.
The story took place October 25, when Ellen Foell, Heartbeat’s legal counsel, taught a day-long session of The LOVE Approach™ to a group of 28 staff, volunteers, and potential volunteers at Heartbeat Crisis Pregnancy Center in Ramstein, Germany.
The center, under the direction of Carrie Beliles, primarily serves U.S. military personnel and their families stationed at Ramstein Air Base, home of the 86th Airlift Wing and headquarters of U.S. Air Forces Europe.
“It was the first time teaching this material, so I really didn’t quite know what to expect,” Foell, who has been with Heartbeat International since 2012, said. “God really put two things on my heart that I tried to express to the group: The first was to encourage them to embrace their unique, God-given giftedness, and the second was to allow themselves to be released to really exercise that giftedness as they sought to serve women coming to the center.”
“It really was great to watch this group wrestle through how to apply The LOVE Approach to the real situations involving real human beings they are dealing with every day.”
While the majority of attendees were Americans connected to the military community in Ramstein, one participant came from another part of Germany with the hope to launch a pregnancy help organization in another part of Germany.
According to Heartbeat International’s Worldwide Directory, there are currently 114 pregnancy help organizations in Germany, although Heartbeat Crisis Pregnancy Center is the only Heartbeat International affiliate.
“These servants learned how to handle a great tool, and that was encouraging to see,” Foell said. “I was really impressed by the cross-section of ages and generations, and thrilled to see the seeds of more pregnancy help organizations being planted in Germany.”
Foell was joined by Heartbeat International Vice President Jor-El Godsey, who keynoted the center’s annual banquet and facilitated a meeting with European pro-life leaders during a three-day span Oct. 24-26 in Ramstein.
"For the love of Christ controls us..." -2 Cor. 5:14
Do you feel the weight of this simple, yet other-worldly profound phrase from the Apostle Paul?
As someone who's neck-deep in the difficulties, sorrows, and burdens of others on a day-in, day-out basis for the sake of the gift and the Giver of life, you certainly know something of this weight.
But what keeps you going? Why take on this weight?
Why immerse yourself in a work that promises to be exhausting, confounding, and--at least sometimes--totally deflating?
Because, as Paul says, "the love of Christ controls us." We get a better picture of what this dynamic phrase means as the Apostle unpacks its meaning in the words that follow:
"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." (2 Cor. 5:14-15)
Why continue laboring in this field? Because the very love Christ had for lost sinners like us when he submitted himself to death for our sake is on full and glorious display when you sit across the table from a newly expectant mother who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Love--more specifically, the love of Christ--is your language as you come alongside a woman who's mind, as one center director put it, "was only abortion." Love is your language as you take the time to help her slow down and truly consider her options, as well as the ramifications any choice she makes could have on her long-term physical, mental, and even spiritual health.
Why continue to hope--against all odds, it seems--that your words and very demeanor could change somebody's world and literally make the difference between life and death? Because the love of Christ controls us, and you no longer live for yourself, but for the sake of him who was raised.
Love is your language as you hope in Jesus, the ultimate Victor over sin, Satan, and death in all its forms. Love is your language as you communicate the unbelievably good news of peace and restoration with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus in a thousand ways to each client and family your center serves.
Love is your language when God gives you a glimpse of His ultimate triumph over death, as a family embraces a child they otherwise may have lacked courage to welcome, if not for you.
Take heart. The sacrificial, triumphant love of Christ is ours by faith. Ours to receive, and ours to extend.
Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too. (Genesis 48:11)
The Lord’s promises are sure to come to pass, for He is a loving and faithful God. Jacob never expected to lay eyes on his son, no less his grandchildren. From his perspective Joseph was gone forever. But God!
As we look forward to a new year, expect the love of God to surprise you! It’s a year to taste and see that the Lord is good!
In Genesis 48, Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” Concerned for his father, Joseph travels with his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim to see Jacob. Approximately 17 years earlier, we are told that Jacob had made Joseph a richly ornamented robe because he loved him more than any of his sons for he had been born to him in his old age. The robe symbolized his father’s love, favor, and the future destiny the Lord had for him.
His brothers became jealous of him as a result of this favor and because of the revelation he received in dreams. They attempted to take his life, but God intervened through his older brother Reuben! Instead, Joseph, and his dreams were thrown into a pit, and then into prison.
Now we must remember, in Jacob’s heart, he believed he would never see his beloved son again. He “had proof” that a wild animal had torn Joseph to pieces. He witnessed with his own eyes the robe dipped in blood. Joseph entered a time of exile, but when the prison doors swung wide 13 years later, the man who emerged looked very different than the young man who was originally thrown into a pit.
He was now prepared to fulfill the dreams and destiny the Lord gave him so long ago! Get ready for the Lord to resurrect and release what has been imprisoned in your life!
What a sweet surprise Jacob received from the Lord in his latter years, not only was he restored to his son, but he was given the opportunity to bless the next generation, his grandsons! As this year unfolds, expect the love and goodness of the Lord to overtake you. For truly, He desires to bless you abundantly, above all you could ask or think of!
So expect the unexpected, and taste and see that the Lord is good!
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
1 John 4:9-11
“In this the love of God was made manifest…..” We have all heard it said, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is a true saying! God’s love language manifested louder than words….because in John 1:14 it tells us The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God with us, Emanuel!
So much of God’s love is communicated through His loving actions toward us. First and foremost He gave; He gave what was most precious to Him, His only Son.
How do we comprehend such love? God’s covenant love for us includes all His benefits. He is absolutely 100% committed to us, desiring for us to enjoy all the blessing that are ours in Christ. Those in relationship with God in the new covenant have many spiritual blessings as new creatures in Christ Jesus. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3
Those spiritual blessings express God’s love for us, and some are listed in Ephesians 1; we have been chosen, adopted, and accepted in the beloved. We are redeemed, forgiven, and have become part of His perfect plan and purpose. In addition, we are laborers together with God (1 Corinthians 3:9); we are ambassadors bringing the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20); we are the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).
We have peace which passes understanding (Philippians 4:7); we prosper in every way and keep well, even as our soul keeps well and prospers (3 John 1:2); and we have the assurance that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39).
The word for "covenant" in the Old Testament comes from a Hebrew root word that means "to cut." The death of Jesus ushered in the new covenant under which we are justified by God's grace and mercy. Jesus' sacrificial death served as the oath, or pledge, which God made to us to seal this new covenant.
In 1 Samuel 18 we are told that Jonathan makes a covenant with David because he loved him as his own soul. In verse 4 it tells us that Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his apparel, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
Similarly, Jesus in covenant love for us, stripped Himself of His robe, His majestic apparel (John 13), and laid down His life for us. There was a divine exchange. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13
The Father gave us His only Son, and now we have the ability to live, and to love through Him, to love others because He first loved us. Let our language and speech become a conduit of His love.
by Debra Neybert
Debra Neybert, long-time friend of Heartbeat International and former Heartbeat employee, is presenting an In-Depth Day at the 2019 Heartbeat International Annual Conference called Spiritual Retreat: Joy Comes in the Morning. This In-Depth Day is designed to instill great hope (confident expectation of what God has promised) in the hearts of participants as they journey toward personal wholeness and fulfillment. The day will include topics listed, worship and personal time with the Lord. See other In-Depth Day options and more information about this year's conference in Dallas by clicking here!
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