by Lisa Bourne, Managing EditorPregnancy Help News
I was fortunate recently to catch Terrence Malick’s film, “A Hidden Life,” on an airplane during a trip taken as a belated celebration of my husband’s and my 25th wedding anniversary.
The film’s main character, Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, refused to sign an oath to Hitler and fight for the Nazis during World War II because of his faith. He could have agreed to and (presumably) eventually returned to his wife and three daughters and their simple farm life.
But his conscience dictated his obedience to God over man, and he was executed.
His story was largely unknown until the mid-1960s. Jägerstätter was later declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church. The film was beautiful, brutal and inspiring all at once.
Among the many things it brought home for me was how each life is a story packed with importance and meaning, no matter what, even as most of those stories go largely untold.
My father passed away last Saturday, March 28, from complications of an apparent heart attack. He was 84. He’d been taken by ambulance to the hospital late Wednesday night, and received treatment for his heart, kidneys and more in the following days, but he became unresponsive midday on Friday.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic no one was allowed in to see him, not even a priest, until he was cleared from having the virus (he later was).
The first chance I had after my dad had been hospitalized, I inquired with the hospital on the phone into whether he could be denied care amid the pandemic, his being 84, having a weakened heart and compromised lungs. The nurse was taken aback at the question, replying that things hadn’t come to that in Dubuque (Iowa).
But what if they had? I’m sure there are many people across the world right now who never thought their parents would be in that situation. I remain confident that it would have been at least naïve not to ask.
I rushed with my brother through the several-hour drive to our hometown that Friday, praying we’d make it in time.
Because my father’s death was imminent, they began to allow us in, though only two at a time.
We took over for two of my sisters; my mother had gone home to rest.
My brother and I were blessed to stay overnight and keep watch.
Over the course of the next 14 hours we were able to get numerous responses from my dad, I think because the morphine he’d initially been given had worn off.
We were able to see, hear and say things that were an absolute blessing and a gift, for us and the entire family.
I video-called people who could not come, including his sister, the remaining sibling in his family of eight children. This also included my husband and kids - my eldest daughter and son-in-law with my three-month-old granddaughter, who my father had not yet met.
We prayed the rosary, played some of his favorite music, and listened to Mass on my phone.
As I texted my siblings to let them know he could hear us and was responding, even saying things, my sister told me to let him know that all of the abortion facilities in Iowa had been closed, referencing the governor’s clarification earlier that day that surgical abortion procedures were included in the state’s suspension of non-essential medical procedures in response to the coronavirus.
Though this was inexact and threatened lawsuits have since drawn out that some surgical abortions are still permitted in Iowa during the pandemic, nonetheless, in that moment it got a marked happy response from my father.
His nurse was nearby, saw this and laughed. I held his hand as I said, “They’re non-essential, Dad … but then, we knew that….” Another positive response.
These responses were just part of the gift of those 14 overnight hours.
I’m so grateful we were there, selfishly for us, but also for him.
I was exceedingly grateful as well to later learn that a priest had been able to anoint my father and he’d been given the full extent of the sacraments that he could have received in his condition.
My dad passed his commitment to life on to me, along with his devout Catholic faith.
Just as with Malick and his film about Bl. Jägerstätter, I couldn’t possibly completely sum up my father’s life, let alone what it meant to me or countless others, nor will I, even after I may come to terms with his death. He was and is my dad.
Our relationship hadn’t always been easy, in fact it was difficult for a time. And so, perhaps one of the greatest lessons he gave me was that life can be messy, but even so, it’s always a blessing, and beautiful – a gift from God.
He taught me too that some, really most, of its greatest blessings and beauty are found in everyday life.
As the funeral home appointment approached on Sunday, I tried to wrap up my part in putting together the draft of his obituary before we would sit as a group and craft the final document. I was in my pajamas, the shower was running, and I had to keep running back to the keyboard as things came to me.
As of this writing nearly a week later they’re still coming to me, and I hope they never stop.
So far, his death has punctuated the profound fact that – whether healthy or ill, elderly or nascent when it ends, surrounded by loved ones or alone, ended by the hand of God or that of man – every single life is precious to God.
There are no hidden lives. They may be hidden to us, but not to Him.
In your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of Charles Theodore, and for comfort for his family. Knowing my dad, he’d want you to pray unceasingly for the unborn, and all human life, as well.
by Ellen Foell, Esq., International Program SpecialistHeartbeat International
Like most of the world right now, I am online much more than ever before. I recently came across the following:
نقش خودتان را ایفا کنید : کووید-19
COVID-19: Recommandations de la Santé Publique
Kajin Majōl (Marshallese)
MELELE KO KINCORONAVIRUS
CORONAVIRUS (ခိၣ်ရိၣ်နၣ်ဘဲရၢး) အဂ့ၢ်အကျိၤ
by Mary Peterson, Housing SpecialistHeartbeat International
Shortly after my brother died, my sister and I went on an adventure in Belize to experience an epic sunrise in his honor. That's how I found myself in the early morning pitch dark of the rainforest, situated high on an ancient ruin, listening to the nerving sounds of animals crying out. Above the unfamiliar sounds of monkeys and such, the call of a bird rang out, a "blackbird singing in the dead of night." And, from the depths of my memory a Scripture appeared, "My soul waits for the Lord more than watchman for daybreak." (Psalm 130:6) The moment pierced me. It was a dark and confusing season; I was being invited to hopeful anticipation.
I can get myself good and worked up, just like the next person. Get me going in the "what ifs" and I start doing mental gymnastics. To survive my years of maternity housing leadership, I was forced to learn the lesson: Don't pre-worry! Just deal with what's before you! And, Scripture backs it up: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34). This hard-won lesson was an anchor in leading my organization and for me, it is a tether in this uncertain season.
Self-care teaches us to do the things that soothe our spirit. Fo me, I go for a walk, put on some Taize music, or fidget with a game on my phone. I'm practicing the art of mental distraction: not following thoughts into dark rabbit holes of worry! Our faith calls us higher - literally, to direct our attention to things above.
We are living in the confusion of Good Friday -- trying to make sense of the events unfolding, feeling a bit unsafe and scared, tempted to deny Gospel truth to protect ourselves. But Easter daybreak is coming. It is promised and it will arrive. Until then, we sit in hopeful anticipation. We long and we wait. Maranatha!
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers, night and day. Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, that I may be filled with joy. -- 2 Timothy 1:3-4
Suddenly the new phrase, “Social Distancing” is an integral part of our culture’s vocabulary, thanks to a pandemic none of us expected.
In a recent Heartbeat International staff meeting however, our staff was considering another way of thinking about this new catchphrase. Instead of saying, “social distancing,” we’re inviting ourselves to say, “Physical distancing and social connecting.”
by Beth Diemert, Ministry Services Specialist/Academy FacultyHeartbeat International
I have seen this meme a few times now on social media, and every time I do, it catches my eye. Mostly because it pushes my life button. For me, it just captures the very essence of what it means to be life giving. Pardon me for a second as I get a little graphic, but they say the best way to define something sometimes is by defining what it is not. What it is not is life sucking. You know the kind of thing that sucks the life out of you and makes you want to die? It’s exactly the opposite of that.
And it doesn’t just apply to women. It’s really more for humans across the board… so welcome everyone!
Here is the deal, the work we do is intense. The world of alternatives to abortion, “intervention, securing, and sustaining” life-affirming decisions takes effort! Those of us called to this work know that we are secured by the Giver of Life himself with all we need to “fight the good fight.” But the question is, “what fight is that exactly?”
Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:7 says he has “fought the good fight, he has “kept the faith” which is the heart of the issue - standing for truth and preserving the faith. But Paul also reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that in the fight “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” but the battle is “against spiritual forces of evil.” Being one who straightens crowns without mention, means that you clearly understand the difference between the two.
Within the pregnancy help community, there are a myriad of thoughts, theories, and methods for helping. We share a lot of commonality in what we do, but we also have a lot of differences. We are all called to be a part, contributing what the Lord gives us, in the way He leads us to do so. As the body of Christ, there is room for difference within the same mission.
But, crowns get crooked when someone is critical of another’s thoughts and methods, just because they are different from their own. Crowns get crooked when, especially in a public way, one is critical and vocal about another’s way of achieving the same mission. So, here is the secret of what a silent crown fixer knows.
Celebrating another’s achievement, honoring another’s creativity, and acknowledging another’s hard work that gets us closer to the bulls-eye, makes you authentically pro-life in every way. A silent crown fixer is confident enough to know that we are a community, and supporting each other in every positive way we can, not being critical, will bring blessing and increase overall, and peace and solidarity within.
A.A. Milne, author of the beloved Winnie the Pooh series demonstrates this in the relationship depicted with Pooh and Piglet. Though Piglet is small and timid, he is Pooh’s closest friend amongst all the toys and animals. Pooh’s love for him gives him great confidence to declare “The things that make me different are the things that make ME.” And Pooh celebrates Piglet!
So…go be a silent crown fixer. Find a crown to fix today. Speak life! Be life! And wear your own crown tall!
by Jor-El Godsey, PresidentHeartbeat International
We didn’t ask for this fight. We really just want to help women make the healthiest choice for all involved – the choice for life.
That’s what “pregnancy help” is all about anyway. That’s what started this movement more than 50 years ago. The desire to make sure there were alternatives to abortion for those in the “valley of decision.”
But others, especially those from—or in league with—the abortion industry have decided to fight alternatives to abortion. This has manifested itself in zoning laws and Supreme Court decisions. Our opposition has demonstrated an increasing willingness to use political power and negative digital reviews.
Earlier this year, we learned that two pro-life informed consent laws recently passed in North Dakota were being challenged. You can read more about the specifics of that here. Heartbeat International, has weighed into this fight because the issues at stake in North Dakota have national implications.
But what does that all mean for you? At the moment, unless you’re pregnant in North Dakota and seeking an abortion, it doesn’t mean much at all. If you are, then it means you’ll be denied some key information relating to alternatives to abortion and you’ll have less knowledge at hand to make a fully informed decision.
For the rest of the country and the pregnancy help movement, the legal wrangling in North Dakota won’t have an impact until the lawsuit is decided. Even then, both sides of this seem resolute enough to appeal to the higher courts. Such actions will likely take months, maybe even years. So in the short-term this lawsuit won’t affect anyone outside of North Dakota for a while, if ever.
Although the impact in your part of the country may not be immediate, you can certainly be involved by praying for our pregnancy help colleagues in North Dakota who are affected. You can include prayer for wise counsel from our legal teams and for favor with the judge(s) to see how important it is that every woman be loved and supported in her pregnancy. This means equipping her with the information she needs to make the best decision for every life involved.
Together, with God’s present help, we can take heart in “fighting the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).
So they were saying to him, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my father; if you knew me, you would know my father also.” John 8:19
When Jesus met the adulterous woman, he confronted those who wanted to stone her by asking only those without sin to cast the first stone. After her accusers left, Jesus asked, “Did no one condemn you?”
When she answered that no one had stayed to pass judgment, Jesus told her, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on, sin no more.”
It’s interesting. There were so many Jesus met who crossed the line of sin—people like tax-collectors, a woman at the well, and this woman, caught in adultery. Yet Jesus never seemed angered about their lives, their sin. Instead he refused to condemn these people, many times connecting with them on a deeper level and changing their lives.
But some people did anger Jesus. He said mean things to them. Called them snakes, vipers, hypocrites. Not the kind of things to be shared in polite company. As a result, Jesus probably didn’t get invited to the high-society parties.
One of these verbal rebukes comes just after Jesus’ encounter with the adulterous woman. Once she is gone, the Pharisees show up with questions, as they always did. They were the religious leaders of the day, the smart people who declared themselves purveyors of truth and righteousness.
Jesus claimed to be the light of the world, and the Pharisees were not interested. A debate ensued, leading to their question, “Where is your father?”
The answer could have been, “In Heaven, where He sits on His throne.” But Jesus’ answer wasn’t about where his father was. It was about who his father was. And his answer cut them to the quick.
“You know neither me nor my father; if you knew me, you would know my father also.”
Think about it. Jesus told the very people who thought they knew religion better than anyone that they didn’t know God at all. And oh, by the way, they didn’t know him, either. Quite a statement.
Jesus saved his anger for these people. But the adulterous woman? No condemnation for her, only love and a desire to see her whole again.
You know what? This is what we do. Our mission is not about calling out religious leaders, but it is to reach those who Jesus touched with kind words. Many come in our doors feeling condemned and worthless—even if they don’t admit it. Let’s love them. Build them up. Help them find a second chance.
And if someone comes along to condemn those we serve, maybe we need to call them out. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistHeartbeat International
Braggadocio alert: I’m a new grandparent, which means on Sunday, I'll celebrate my first Grandparent's Day as a grandpa. Any poor soul who encounters me for the next few years must endure endless photos and commentary, such as, “Isn’t that just the cutest smile in the world?”
I’ve found grandparenting is a club, of sorts. I show our pictures, I look at your pictures. We tell jokes about how the main reason we want our children to visit is to see the grandkid. We talk about how great it is to spoil the little one, then give him back so the parents must take on the hard work.
But let’s be honest: I did not earn the title, “Papa K,” by working for it. All I did was father a daughter 27 years ago. She grew up. Got married. Then, one day last November, Laura and husband Matt gave Jennifer and me a “pre-Christmas present,” a little bag with that fancy, thin paper in it. Inside was a pregnancy test. With a “+” sign.
Never have I been so happy to hold something my daughter tinkled on.
In pro-life terms, we were grandparents the moment the test turned positive. Well, earlier, but you get the point.
From there, we just waited around till the big day. When Henry was born, we hugged, high-fived and cried. It’s what you do, apparently.
Because Matt and Laura live next door, two-month-old Henry is an integral part of our existence. They pop down with the little poop machine almost daily. We hold him, talk about him, relish his every wiggle. As for me, I even took him for a mile walk in his stroller, solo. I’m good at this.
And—thank goodness—I haven’t yet changed a diaper. Not that I can’t, because I can switch out a diaper faster than a NASCAR pit crew changes tires at the Daytona 500. But I don’t have to. Which is one of the top reasons grandparenting beats parenting, any day.
But there is something more to this grandparenting gig. A letter from a guy named Paul to his protégé, Timothy, highlights this “something more.”
In his letter, Paul writes, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”
Grandmother Lois only gets this one mention in the letter we know as II Timothy. Yet Lois passed her faith on to her daughter. Who passed faith on to Timothy. And Timothy? He was the right-hand of perhaps the greatest of the apostles, the most prolific author in the New Testament.
Without Lois, would Eunice have had faith? Timothy? We don’t know. All we know is, Paul traces Timothy’s faith back to a grandparent.
Like Lois, we want to pass our faith to our children, who can do the same for their children. And we likely have opportunities to share our faith directly with our grandchildren, too. I’ll bet Timothy’s Mimi (that’s Lois, but she deserves a “grandparent name” for this article) did this on a regular basis.
Because we have a few extra years under our belts, we GPs (I’m making up new lingo as I go along) have stories of faith to tell those who follow behind us. So, while changing diapers is important (ask any baby who hasn’t been changed for a while), perhaps this faith thing is an even bigger deal.
The next time Henry comes over then, I might tell him a story. About my faith and what God did in my life. He may not understand, yet. But one day, perhaps he will.
He won’t remember if I change his diaper, anyway.
“Was no one found, who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” Luke 17:18
The story of Jesus cleansing the ten lepers fascinates me, because it is a great study of how we sometimes view thankfulness.
In brief, here’s the story: Jesus is headed to Jerusalem and is between Samaria and Galilee when he hears ten lepers crying out, “Jesus, master, have mercy on us!” They broke the rule for lepers, who were supposed to cry out, “Unclean” to keep people away from them.
But instead of berating them for breaking the Mosaic Law, Jesus says to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” which is what the Law instructed for those healed. Aha! And as they turned to go to the priests, they were indeed, healed. Great news, right?
Nine of the men kept going, on to the priests to fulfill the Law’s instructions. One however (and a Samaritan at that), turned back, falling at Jesus’ feet in thanksgiving and glorifying God “with a loud voice.”
When this takes place, Jesus asks a good question. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they?”
Jesus continues. “Was no one found, who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”
An argument can be made that the nine fulfilled the rule of law. By law, they were required to go to the priests, who would then—at some point—declare them clean again. Unfortunately, by only following the rules they missed something bigger, an opportunity to know the Son of God.
It’s interesting to note, they were more than willing to break the rule of Law when they were desperate for healing. Instead of crying out, “Unclean,” they begged for Jesus to heal them. But after healing, it was back to the rules and nothing more.
Jesus was never obligated to heal the nine. Yet when he did so, the nine treated him as if he had only met the minimum standard, overlooking him in their rush to gain their “Clean Again” certificate from the priest. As a result, they missed their big opportunity.
In our everyday encounters, we have service employees, co-workers and so many others who perform tasks which make our lives easier. No, they aren’t necessarily doing something as miraculous as healing us of leprosy, but they often meet needs for us.
They may save us time. Or, fix something we’re not equipped to repair. Or, they do us a favor when we don’t expect it.
When these things take place, let’s be the one who goes the extra mile to say, “Thank you.” When we do, it opens the door to a greater relationship and more opportunities to build hope into their lives.
We can often view Jesus as stoic, leaving feelings aside as he pushed toward Jerusalem and his sacrifice on the cross. But I can’t help but believe Jesus was moved by this one who thanked him, seeing him as an encouragement on his road to Jerusalem.
The nine received healing but missed the greater blessing. Let’s break the rules and be the one. We never know what might happen.
by Kirk WaldenHeartbeat International Advancement Specialist
by Andrea Trudden, Heartbeat International Director of Communications
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love August. Back to school, gearing up for autumn events, cooler weather, and everything to do with it, and did you know it's officially "Family Fun Month"? BUT… it takes me time to get back into the groove. And this can sometimes make me feel very overwhelmed and guilty. Guilty I am not as efficient as I could be. Frustrated that everything is not falling into perfection. And simply tired from all the running around.
This is the time of year that all of my three minions have activities. So, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, we have soccer; Tuesdays and Saturdays, we have softball; and Thursdays, we have gymnastics. Sundays are for Church and family. Then, of course, we have the start of school and spouse time that need to be placed in here as well. Not to mention, time for me to just be with God.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but WOW! The running around really catches up to you!!! I actually think I forgot was exhaustion felt like, but the last couple of weeks has definitely reminded me.
So last week, I took our household’s resting time (1:30-3:00-ish and after 8:00 pm) and made a point to do nothing. I recognized that I needed to reset or else I would become cranky and nearly useless.
The importance of personal time is so imperative, and yet it always seems to be the first thing cut from the list. Why is that? Well, it’s because we are Christians.
Women are created to be nurturers, so when there is a need for our family, we fill that need. It is our vocation gifted by God.
We naturally put our sanity aside to keep the others sane.
The good news is that the joy that our little ones have in doing the things they love actually help fulfill our hearts as well. This helps for a little bit, but at a point, you just need to take a guilt-free break before you break!
The problem for me is falling into old habits. I am very much a go-go-go person and I have created three on-the-go minions, so remembering to take quiet time does not come naturally. I go until I can’t go anymore and then I need a reset.
So, basically, this is my reminder to all. TAKE PERSONAL TIME & STAY SANE.
Once I regain sanity, I remember all my tricks and enjoy each moment more.
Whatever season you are in right now, whether you're a parent of young kids, making sure other's children have a chance to be born, or taking care of friends and family, you'll serve others better and be more joyful yourself if you take the time you need to stay sane yourself.
Key takeaways for you:
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