by Andrea Trudden, Vice President of Communications & MarketingHeartbeat International
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
As we begin a new year, we begin a new era—the post-Roe world as we choose to make it.
The dust continues to settle after the Dobbs decision on June 24, and it will continue to do so. And we continue to open our doors and welcome women and families in order to serve them with the same dignity and respect we always have. Because that is what pregnancy help is. That is what we were called into this mighty mission to do.
Since May, we have seen pregnancy help organizations in the news more than ever before. Politicians make up stories and shout baseless claims against the good work provided through pregnancy centers at no cost to communities worldwide simply because it is a cause they don’t believe in.
Major corporations proudly proclaim they will compensate employees who travel out of state to obtain an abortion, circumventing their states’ laws on the issue.
Technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Yelp suppress or outright ban advertising of life-affirming options like Abortion Pill ReversalTM, labeling it “misinformation” all while expanding the promotion of mail-order abortion pills.
We have seen attacks against our work as abortion extremists spray paint, break windows, and set fire to our buildings. And we have witnessed with admiration as our brothers and sisters pick up the pieces, paint the doors, and go back to business as usual.
The poise of the pregnancy help movement is one of class and grace.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
God gives us reminders of His provision through times of trial. While we have been viciously attacked from various sides, we have great reasons to celebrate!
More women contacted Option Line last year and were connected to local pregnancy help than in the past couple of years, and, as we know, the best alternative to abortion is another person offering compassionate support. We know that more than 4,000 women have now saved their babies’ lives through the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network, and more pregnancy help medical clinics are providing this life-saving service. In addition, new pregnancy help organizations are opening their doors in underserved areas, reaching women with the life-saving support they need at a very difficult time.
This is the truth. These are the facts. So, while some may not like what we do, we will not stop. The risk is too great. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
And so, we endure.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” Romans 5:3
And while I don’t always remember to rejoice in the suffering, this year has given us many chances to rejoice!
Think of the woman who entered your door with tear-filled eyes as she feared a pregnancy would permanently halt all her life’s plans. And how, with just a listening ear and a bit of encouragement, she left that same door confident that she could accomplish her dreams while being a good mom.
Picture the young mom who is so grateful for the parenting support she received at your building years ago that she still sends you pictures of her growing little one, in school now and getting so big!
Now, hear the sound of the mother who gasps when seeing her baby’s heartbeat for the first time as she squeezes her boyfriend’s hand tightly, accepting the love that God has blessed them with.
These moments – these women – are our “why.” They give us the strength and perseverance to press forward through any opposition because we know the work we do is righteous.
And so we will continue to serve with class and grace in order to serve a loving God and help families within our communities thrive.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” – 1 Peter 5:10
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Board Chair
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
As we end the 5 decades when the Roe v. Wade decision “ruled” how abortion would be dealt with in our country – both on a personal level and in our laws, society, and culture – we’d like to take this moment to look back on that Roe-world. My husband and I were witnesses of it all.
I reflect here at those fifty years and the damage left behind, but also reflect on how God has brought forth good out of the evil. Because He has, we can all Take Heart!
In hindsight, we can all see the carnage left by Roe, probably at least 50 million abortions (an average of about 1 million per year) in the US, with not only the babies as victims but also their mothers, fathers, and families, plus all those who were complicit either through participating some way in the abortion or by standing by and doing nothing. Abortion became, and still is, a big, money-making business.
The carnage spread around the world as the US exported, through the United Nations and through our popular culture, the “abortion mentality.” We funded, with our tax dollars, population control and abortion worldwide, and we still do.
However, at the same time, God’s people stepped up in every area of life in our society and worked unceasingly to fight the abortion juggernaut and “overturn Roe.” That was finally accomplished, of course, in the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, through the grace of God and the work of the amazingly creative “movement” that also grew and developed over these 50 years.
Just to clarify, the Roe v. Wade decision, handed down by the Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 1973, essentially said that abortion as a choice was somehow covered in a “right to privacy” (that was not written down in our Constitution). It said that abortion was “between a woman and her doctor.” It could only be regulated somewhat, but only for the woman’s health in the second trimester, and, in the third trimester it had to be allowed for the “health” of the mother. A companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, extended that to “mental health” so, essentially, abortion was legal during all 9 months of pregnancy.
At first, pro-lifers who had begun to form into groups and get involved in educational and political efforts during the 5 years prior to Roe (when activists were trying to pass laws legalizing abortion state by state) were devastated. It seemed that we could do nothing to stop abortions. The number of abortions surged, and infant adoptions (the primary choice in an unexpected pregnancy for unmarried women before Roe) dropped dramatically.
But the good news is that the pro-life movement began to develop dramatically after Roe. My husband and I joined the movement with a phone call to our local Right to Life chapter, found in the phone book, on January 22, 1973. Apparently, thousands of other people were motivated to do the same, year after year!
The first strategy proposed to “overturn Roe” was to amend the Constitution with a Human Life Amendment but that proved divisive (even with the growing pro-life movement) and never gained traction in the first two decades after Roe.
Amazingly, creative legal minds (in cities, counties, and states) also began trying to “chip away” at what was at first thought to be a “right” with no restrictions. The first effort that I remember was the Akron (Ohio) Ordinance, passed by a city council in 1978. It included parental notification, a waiting period, rules on fetal remains, and other common-sense provisions. Although it was finally declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1982, it pioneered other examples of the “incremental approach” to fighting and limiting abortions, including the 15-week limit to abortions in Mississippi (because the unborn child can feel pain then) that eventually was the basis of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that brought us into the post-Roe era.
Meanwhile, during the five decades of Roe, other “arms” or branches of the pro-life movement, developed a laser focus on many other priorities: on prayer, especially in front of abortion clinics, on civil disobedience, on regulating abortion clinics, on education – debates at first, then entire programs and curricula for schools and churches, on websites, social media, and other vehicles of popular culture -- film, music, art, literature, and more!
And I have saved the “best” (in my opinion) for last – the pregnancy help movement! The five Roe decades brought to life all of YOU reading Take Heart! You are an essential part of one of the 3,000 pregnancy help centers across our nation that are now saving thousands of babies and mothers per week from abortion, offering love and support, offering hope and healing to those who have had abortions, providing for the health and safety of new families, providing pro-life medical care on many levels, housing homeless pregnant women and helping them get “on their feet” again, providing help to trafficking victims, sharing the Gospel, linking to churches, social services, businesses, and “movers and shakers” in your community, and doing even more!!!
Between 1968 and 1973, before Roe, a couple hundred (at the most) pregnancy help centers existed in the USA, thanks to the Lord working through our pioneers – especially through Heartbeat (then called Alternatives to Abortion, founded in 1971 to link and grow this network).
The original housing services were limited (girls were housed in private homes and then small group homes). The centers were small, all volunteer, many operating out of the offices of pro-life OB/GYNs (who had to send urine test samples to laboratories and get back the results in a few days!). Some volunteers manned hotlines and met with girls and women who thought they might be pregnant on park benches and at restaurants. From these small seeds, a mighty network has grown! (Read much more about our growth over these 50 years in The Power of Pregnancy Help: The First Fifty Years)
One of the best fruits of the Roe era, in my opinion, has been the unity developed among Christians called to this work, especially among Catholics (the first to “answer the call” in the late 1960’s and 70’s) and Evangelicals (who joined the movement in massive numbers in the 1980’s). We experience it within Heartbeat and see that we are always better together!
God’s people never gave up and never gave in over the last 5 decades. Some of God’s pro-life warriors have passed into eternity already, but so many others have taken their places, and the work goes on!
Our battlefield has changed post-Roe. Once focused on a national field, we now must include all 50 states, plus our cities, counties, townships, and neighborhoods. We are back to where we were, in one sense, when the battle was raging in the states from 1968-73, right at the grassroots level.
At least one other thing has clearly changed – while pregnancy help centers have been under “attack” since the 1980’s (in the media, by local and national legislators and courts), the attacks have now become more angry and more physical, fueled by fear of the loss of a “right” to abortion and the woundedness of those who have experienced abortion or are part of Big Abortion. And in the midst of it, we should rejoice. It is our effectiveness that makes us a target, and the enemy has certainly taken notice.
So Take Heart as we continue to serve those taken in by the lie of abortion because in many ways, our work is beginning again.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
by Jor-El Godsey, PresidentHeartbeat International
There is something beautiful about the simplicity of nativity sets that feature the Holy Family – Joseph, Mary and, of course, Jesus. While the real story is Jesus – Emmanuel, God with us – both Mary and Joseph are key individuals cast in critical roles for this most historic moment.
But I prefer the nativity sets that feature all the supporting cast surrounding the story of Jesus’ birth. With the Holy Family are the shepherds, the wise men, the angels and the animals. Each of these recognizing the wonder and miracle of God becoming man. Putting one of these in the front yard, under your Christmas tree, or on your mantel can take up quite a lot of space with all these different characters.
All those characters are part of the story. Of course, God did not need any of them to fulfill His grand mission. But He chose to select them to appear in this greatest story ever told. From the awe of the shepherds at the announcement to the humility of the kings of the east bowing before a newborn child, each reflects a part of the story that is recorded for the generations that followed. They each contributed something to the narrative that we can draw from, relate to, and apply in our lives.
In a way, our pregnancy help world has a similarly large group of supporting cast for each person we encounter that chooses life. In a sense, like the Christ Child, the children we get to see born are miracles of God that we have been invited to play a part in. Even though the Star of Bethlehem itself isn’t positioned over the births we’re involved with today, the light of Jesus illuminates the path toward life for each and every one.
We probably won’t gift frankincense or myrrh in our layettes, but we will supply key necessities for the support of the baby in those early days, weeks, and even months. And we’ll definitely throw in some swaddling stuff for good measure.
Like Mary’s yes to God, “…let it be to me according to your word...” (Luke 1:38b), we say yes to the Holy Spirit in this calling to champion life within the womb. Or we’re like Joseph who “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him,” (Matthew 1:24); we do what has been spoken to us from on high. Did Joseph really have any other options than to listen to the angel? I mean, wouldn’t you?
As nativity sets abound this special time of year, remember that you are part of the supporting cast in the story that God is writing each day in our ministries. So take heart! The joy of this particular season is with us all year long and in every family we serve and every child we see born.
by Jonathan Clemens, ThM, PA-C
We should all be familiar with the parable of the sower. It appears in all three synoptic Gospels in substantially the same form. Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8 all have the same soils in the same order. It’s often mistaught in churches, so much so that most people think it is a parable about how to be good soil. That is a culturally nonsensical interpretation: farmers didn’t change soil in the 1st century, they made do with what was there.
As modern Americans, we look on the parable of the sower through the lens of modern scientific agriculture that reshapes the earth to conform to our farming methods, and a lens of discipleship that makes spiritual growth substantially our personal responsibility. The sower does nothing modern: he simply scatters seed, without any attempt to control where it lands. Our modern efficiency cringes to think that seed actually landed on the packed earth of a walking path: after all, couldn’t the yield per seed be increased by focusing only on the good soil?
And that is Jesus’s actual point: rather than attempting to control the casting of the seed — the Word — we are to treat it as a limitless resource, spreading it far and wide, because the less-than-universal occasions when it sinks deeply into good soil are worth every single failed evangelism effort. Every single brief conversion and quick relapse, every single heart harder than the path, every single entangled “it’s complicated” life: all the failures are eclipsed by the joy of all-too-rare abundant success.
Let's relate this to abortion pill reversal. As a prescribing practitioner, I talk to or text with any number of women, dozens so far. The parallel to the soils is frustrating. Some do not have rides to a pharmacy. Others request a prescription and change their minds. Others have neither insurance coverage nor money to pay for the progesterone. One had a rare medical condition that might have been exacerbated by progesterone, and so she politely declined to proceed. If you’re keeping score, the 64 to 68% success rate seems great, but in reality, there are plenty of things that keep women from accessing abortion pill reversal even when they have taken the initiative to call the hotline.
In speaking with another Abortion Pill Rescue Network prescriber in my state, he lamented that so few women actually picked up the prescriptions he called in. He has a point: many women desire reversal but do not follow through. They have their own tragedies to deal with, and I wish each of them had the support and access and resources to never feel the need to abort their unborn child in the first place.
So we scatter seeds. Nurses answer the phone, knowing that many of the moms who call will not proceed with reversal. I talk to the moms sent to me, again knowing that many will not follow through. Even with timely progesterone, sometimes it doesn’t work. Had it been too long since the poisoning of the abortion pill? Was the baby too young? We hypothesize factors leading to successful reversal, but certainty eludes us.
Likewise, we don’t know the impact of the lives saved; by the time these children who lived have their impact on the world, many of us will have long since retired or died. What we do know is that every life is valuable because all are made in the image of God.
He who knit each of us together inside our mothers’ wombs is faithful and true. He does not tire, nor should we who offer life to the unborn and a second chance at choice to their mothers.
And so, we continue to scatter seeds praying that the next lands in good soil, giving us a chance to help a new life thrive.
by Tracie Shellhouse, MCLC, LASVice President of Ministry Services, Heartbeat International
Pregnancy help is a movement that needs to be particularly thoughtful about self-care. Not only do those we serve need to be supported in loving themselves, but also those serving. As we see again and again, the best way to teach is by example.
When we love ourselves and those we serve with well, we encourage clients to do the same. After all, Jesus said, “By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Mark 12:31 goes on to tell us to love others as we love ourselves. Servant leaders must take care of themselves to take care of others. So how exactly can we practice what we preach?
No, not just stop, but be aware of these four roadblocks to living life fully. Nothing is easy when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
Here are ways to make sure you’re addressing these four key areas of concern.
Try not to let yourself stay...
Hungry – Eat well, take a lunch, and have ready-to-eat snacks on hand. It sounds easy, but it’s too easy to neglect these simple things, and when you’re hungry, you’re not prepared to serve well.
Angry – Take time for reflection. Determine why you’re angry, put it into perspective, and resolve or release that anger.
Lonely – Prayer partners or a personal prayer chain can be great for staving off loneliness. Take quiet time with God, keep an encouragement folder, and make sure to connect with family, friends, a mentor, or whoever makes you feel loved.
Tired – Do your best to keep good sleep hygiene. Nap, work offsite for a scenery change, and be sure to get some exercise in your day. Even taking an extra walk can help energize you during the day and help you sleep better at night.
Once you’ve addressed what made you HALT, look forward to the next moment and plan ways to rejuvenate and celebrate. Make sure you’re rejuvenating by taking planned breaks for quiet time, making your space restful, taking advantage of books, podcasts, or hobbies, and keeping yourself well. If you’re in a decision-making position at your organization, it’s worth considering making sure there’s a paid prayer day every so often, that you and your staff can arrive late or leave early on occasion as needed, that meals together are prioritized, and fun days and guest speakers are a part of the fabric of the organization.
To celebrate, reward yourself when you reach a goal with a craft, a new book, a class, whatever makes you joyful. For others, celebrate however you can with unexpected gifts, catching them doing great things and highlighting them at meetings, and just generally surprising your staff or peers by celebrating who they are.
In order to follow God’s command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we need to make sure we care for ourselves well. Otherwise, how can we possibly love others?
by Jennifer Wright, Editor/WriterHeartbeat International
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
Well, it’s time again. We have an election next week (in the USA) and anything could happen.
Well, maybe not anything. After all, some things seem pretty unlikely. For example, most predictions give a high chance of pro-life politicians controlling the House, though the Senate seems to still be an extremely close race.
Many of us may take this as good news, and I’m one of them, but then I look a little closer at the local races and get nervous again. There are ballot propositions in multiple states attempting to enshrine a right to abortion in state constitutions. There are city councils that have decided to fund abortion advocacy groups to “investigate” pregnancy help and de-prioritize enforcement of abortion-related laws. These kinds of things remind me that it’s really hard to know what the future holds when it comes to who is in power and what that will mean.
It's a good thing that’s not where my trust is – and yours shouldn’t be either.
Psalm 146:3 tells us, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save,” and I am always struck by this reminder. Of course, the psalmist continues to remind us that those whose hope is in the Lord are the blessed ones – and that’s who I want to be.
I want to bear in mind that humans can’t save, but God can, that human plans often come to nothing, but God’s plans are always beyond ours. When your help is ultimately in God, whom should you fear? (I know, different Psalm, but stick with me.)
In the pregnancy help movement, I think these sentiments are especially true. While it’s important to have an idea of what kind of impact new or different human leadership will have, ultimately, we depend not on them, but on Christ.
That’s why, even in election season, I remind myself to trust not in princes, in humans who cannot save, but in God who can. It is the Lord who will save me, anyone I find myself serving, and, if He wills it, the princes too.
by Fr. Frank Pavone, National DirectorPriests for Life
Respect Life Month has been observed every October since 1972. This year, we are in a unique moment. Roe has fallen and more than a dozen states have enacted laws that protect most babies from abortion.
And pro-lifers are under attack - by the federal government, by the media, even by our neighbors.
It is the eternal struggle between light and darkness, and we know the resolve we must have to fight against the darkness.
We see the attacks – physical, verbal, and legal – against pregnancy centers. The fact that the other side has focused its rage on the centers shows that these centers are indeed on the front lines of the battle. What matters most to the enemy is that the blood of the children in the womb is shed, and that the money from those abortions continues to flow.
Every time a pregnancy center saves a life, the goals of the enemy are thwarted, even if the laws are completely on their side.
Hence their rage.
We fight against this darkness not only by serving these Moms and Dads, but by letting their voices be heard. Share the stories of the saves far and wide. I recently attended a pregnancy center banquet here in Orlando and brought with me a Mom who had been served by the center 28 years ago. I had been praying outside the abortion mill; she was in the waiting room, and she came out and changed her mind. I baptized the baby six months later and she kept in touch ever since.
There, at the banquet, she was accompanied by her daughter who was saved that day, and by her daughter’s two daughters! (You can see a video of them starting here.)
This is how we fight back. We show the beauty of the light conquering the darkness.
That is also why the testimonies of those who have had abortions are so crucial to our movement. It was exactly 20 years ago that, at a Heartbeat International Conference, our Executive Director Janet Morana and I, along with Georgette Forney of Anglicans for Life, gathered representatives of various healing ministries and first presented the idea of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (www.SilentNoMore.com), a mobilization that would give voice to those who lost children to abortion, tell the world of their pain, and proclaim the healing that is available in Jesus Christ.
This movement shows what love is. We don’t reject those who do evil. Nor do we deny that what they did was evil.
What we do is invite them to let goodness drive the evil out.
The people who have abortions, or who promote it, or who attack us and our centers are not the enemy. They are captive to the enemy, the ancient enemy of humanity, who wants to kill God, but knowing he cannot do so, kills what is made in the image and likeness of God – human lives.
By our love for all those lives, we set them free!
by Sara West, MSHS-PH, Director of ClinicsInstitute of Reproductive Grief Care
October is officially upon us! Although this month coincides with cooler weather, pumpkins, and harvest festivals galore, it also is a month of special awareness. It is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
The Institute of Reproductive Grief Care helps families and loved ones honor and remember those impacted by reproductive loss.
With 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage, these - and other types of pregnancy and reproductive losses - have a profound effect on millions. Everyone knows someone who has experienced this unique, and often very painful, loss. Yet the grief and emotions of pregnancy loss are typically underestimated and marginalized in our culture.
Emotional reactions after pregnancy loss are as unique as fingerprints. However, those who grieve can feel this pain for years - even decades, according to our study. In addition to this pain, there is the worry that others have completely forgotten about the loss, forgot that the pregnancy even happened, or simply don't think that this kind of grief is as important as "traditional" grief.
Reproductive loss surrounds us, and yet we do not talk about it. And, if we do talk about it, we tend to focus on the mother, ignoring partners, family members, and other loved ones, even though we know it impacts the whole family.
One person wrote on our healing website, MiscarriageHurts.com, “My sister has had three miscarriages. Each time she feels worse. Each time I feel worse.”
These losses are outside of the normal rules of grief in society. We do not know what to do or say, therefore, very often, we do or say nothing. It is hard to know exactly what to say, but simple phrases like: “I am so sorry – that must be hard. You are not alone, and I am here if you want to talk. How can I support you?” are helpful in that you have acknowledged that person, their loss and their grief. Just this acknowledgment can be an invitation to healing.
The Institute of Reproductive Grief Care brings to light the widespread need for help that is faced by the millions impacted by miscarriage and other pregnancy and reproductive losses. We change the way that people think and talk about reproductive loss, and create traditions that focus on healing, remembrance, and hope. We offer a safe place for all impacted by pregnancy and reproductive losses, to receive the support that they need in kindness and without judgment.
As experts on grief after pregnancy loss, we are leading the charge to “Wear and Share” the “Forget Me Not” flower in October. The “Forget Me Not” flower honors those impacted by pregnancy and reproductive loss, raises awareness for the millions of people impacted, and gives those grieving a way to tell their story and process their loss. The "Forget Me Not" flower assures those impacted that we are remembering them, and remembering their children with them.
We at the Institute encourage everyone to wear a "Forget Me Not" flower in October to show your support, care and compassion for anyone impacted by pregnancy and reproductive loss.
Are you, or do you know, someone impacted by pregnancy and reproductive loss? Not sure what to say or do? The Institute of Reproductive Grief Care and Life Perspectives’ Helpful Toolkits are free resources for anyone who needs help, hope and healing after this unique kind of loss. These toolkits, on our website at https://www.LifePerspectives.com, include resources, videos and helpful lists. Special “Helpful Toolkits” are also included for: women, men, family and friends, as well as for healthcare professionals and faith leaders.
Please join us in honoring Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month – we remember with you.
One of the primary concerns of many younger clients who come into our doors is how their parents will react to their unexpected pregnancies. How do you reassure that young woman when she hasn't spoken to her parents yet? What about when her mother comes in with her? What can you do to support her as well?
Tammy and Jay Daughtry have spent a lot of time thinking about and working on this topic in their work with CoParenting International, not to mention their own experience of unplanned grandparenthood. With Grandparent's Day coming up this Sunday (September 11), they'd like to share with you a tool to help support the unplanned grandparents of your young clients. Having faced the unexpected pregnancy of their daughter, they have a unique perspective to share. You are welcome to use these letters or take inspiration from them for the unplanned grandparents you encouter at your pregnancy help organization.
You are not alone.
Right now, you may feel overwhelmed and confused or angry and upset. Whatever emotions are running through you right now, just know that you are not alone. Your daughter is not alone. There are ways through all the complicated details that seem uncertain and overwhelming.
I recognize that you might be sad because this is not what you imagined for your daughter. You didn’t anticipate being an instant grandparent without an engagement and a wedding. The dreams you had for your child may look a bit different with the recent news of a baby coming along. But don’t worry – God has an incredible way of re-writing dreams and re-organizing details. Once you hold that new little baby in your arms, like the moment you first held your child, it will all make sense. What matters right now is that you express your unconditional support to your child and that she knows you won’t abandon her.
No matter what your relationship has been in the past, no matter how frustrated you might be, right now what she needs is your relentless love and support.
She is probably very scared and unsure of herself. She might even be considering an alternative solution to having this baby. The risks are critical regarding how a woman’s body is impacted if they try to end the pregnancy: there are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual risks to her wellbeing, and she may even struggle to have a healthy pregnancy in the future. Those stakes are too high. Protecting your child from ever considering those options will have a lifelong impact on her now and for decades ahead. She needs to know you love her and that you will be with her every step of the way.
And we are here. We will be here to help point you to resources and to have a safe place to talk all along the way.
With relentless support,
Unplanned Grandparent, Class of 2013
Our three oldest children have a nine-year spread in their birth years, 1988, 1993, and 1997, two girls and a boy. What’s interesting is that we had our son’s name figured out ten years before he was born. For some reason we had this common assumption that we would have a boy, so we poured over the name books and definitions and settled on just the right name. Not until the doctor exclaimed, “Congratulations you have a beautiful baby girl,” did It dawn on us that not having a son was a possibility. A rather strange position to put ourselves in considering the odds were 50/50. Either way, we were happy with the outcome, but we had to make some exchanges regarding the baby room theme and color, as well as some clothes and toys. Every plan needs contingencies.
Fast forward, it’s June of 2013, one has launched, and two are in high school (we added a third daughter). I guess I hadn’t fully learned my lesson on contingencies, despite working with youth for over twenty years in ministry. Our second oldest, with big sister for back-up, was sitting on her bed explaining through a downpour of anxious tears, that she was pregnant.
Of all the ways I imagined hearing that news one day, like five or six years from now, I hadn’t imagined this moment. The moment that needed me to be fully present emotionally to protect the heart of my daughter from her own shame and self-loathing with an abundance of love and affirmation that whatever the future holds she is strong enough and never alone.
But despite the high likelihood of having a moment of this kind, especially when you factor in the reality of having three daughters, I was not prepared. I hadn’t considered the obvious possibilities and developed any contingency plans. Honestly the adult in the room (me) wasn’t much more prepared than my barely post-adolescent daughter. So, I did the “dad” thing and got analytical, pragmatic, and solemn as I told her about the challenges ahead.
Swing and a miss! I really felt like I had struck out, not because I didn’t know how to do better, but because I hadn’t prepared myself better.
That moment is barely a shadow now because we intentionally made the most of every moment after that. We celebrated the joy of new life while acknowledging the challenges and facing fears together as a family. The timeline was unexpected, but the hope of blessed vibrant future was always our expectancy for our children and grandchildren. My wife and I weren’t any less excited and hopeful because we had a girl when we were expecting a boy. And, the fact that we had imagined becoming grandparents in a different way and timeline, didn’t diminish the anticipation and joyful preparation of the beautiful new life we received in February of 2014.
Dads, we can’t let our desire to protect and our desire to provide, overshadow what our kids need from us most in challenging life transitions. They need our affirmation that they are loved and valued, as well as our future grandchild. As we acknowledge the challenges ahead, we declare our commitment be there for them, not to remove responsibility from them, but to support them in it. Finally, I found it to be invaluable to offer a genuine acceptable of the circumstances as they are and will be without the sting of ongoing reminders of how things were supposed to be. We can’t protect their future by trying to hold on to their past. No one ever becomes their best self by feeling “less than” as they’re reminded of things they can’t change.
Oh, and the word of the day is contingency, with a strong dose of improvise and adapt, and smothered with a whole lot of love and grace.
I’m on your team,
To hear more from Tammy Daughtry, check out Unplanned Grandparenting: Casting a Vision of HOPE for the Entire Family, our recorded webinar, and the most recent episode of the Pregnancy Help Podcast, Unplanned Grandparenting.
Tammy & Jay Daughtry, MMFTsAuthors, Advocates & TrainersCoParenting InternationalNashville, TNwww.CoParentingInternational.com
by Brooklyn Tizzano, Extend Web Services
When I was originally asked to share this devotional with you, I was over the moon! But it wasn’t much later when a question crept into my mind. “Why me?” Quite frankly, there are people who have been on their walk with Christ for longer than I’ve been alive. I didn’t believe I had anything relevant to offer them in a devotional at a mere 23 years old.
Because of my hesitancy, I figured the only way to make up for how young and incapable I felt, was to come up with the BEST devotional anyone had ever heard. I wanted it to blow their minds. I wanted it to include every miracle the Bible ever listed. Water turning to wine, walking on water, blind men seeing, Jesus being raised from the dead. I was going to do it all.
Eventually, I figured it would probably be wise to consider what God might want me to share.
Over and over in my quiet time and in talking to my husband and family, the story of Nehemiah kept coming up. Nehemiah. I felt frustrated! Nehemiah isn’t good enough. Nehemiah doesn’t have any cool miracles or jaw dropping stories! I didn’t see how anything could be gained out of the story of Nehemiah. But through studying Nehemiah, I realized that maybe the miraculous doesn’t happen. But what does happen is that a group of people roll up their sleeves and get to work. I learned that when we are only looking for God in the big things, we will miss him in the small things.
Our story starts with Nehemiah being in exile and he finds out the terrible condition of Jerusalem, specifically the gates and the wall around the city. Nehemiah decides that he’s going to do something about this. At the time, Nehemiah was a cupbearer for the king, and the king gave him permission to go rebuild the wall and gates, and he even gave him some practical equipment to get started (not unlike Life Launch!).
Because no good story is complete without villains, in walks Tobiah, Sanballat and Geshem. These guys do not want Jerusalem rebuilt and they make it their mission to stop this from happening. As Nehemiah and his people progressed building the wall, their enemies got more and more angry.
Have you been there? Excited for what God has called you to do and it feels like immediately you are met with pushback? Nehemiah 4:1 says “Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews.”...“Do they actually think they can make something out of stones from a rubbish heap–and charred ones at that?”
Do they actually think they can do this? We’ve probably heard this often!
Maybe you’re a lot like me and someone else sees that you’re capable of doing something, but you can’t see it…
Sometimes the enemy is very present and very tangible, and I know, especially with the culture right now, we have a very tangible enemy. But sometimes the enemy is in our head. Sometimes the enemy is what we are allowing ourselves to listen to and not what we know God has called us to.
So what does Nehemiah do when he hears the things they’re saying? He sets up armed guards. Specifically, Nehemiah 4:13 tells us, “behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places.”
Why does he set up armed guards? Because he realizes that if he isn’t taking the necessary precautions to prepare for the plan God has laid out for him, he might miss his miracle. I don’t believe God uses perfect people. I believe he uses people who are present and prepared. Nehemiah recognized that even though he can’t see his miracle and is surrounded by opposition, he still needs to prepare for his miracle. Nehemiah 4:17 says the guards had one hand working and one hand holding a weapon. But notice that these guards weren’t just haphazardly placed. Remember, verse 17 tells us they were behind the lowest points of the wall and the exposed places.
Finding our lowest points and our exposed places requires some humility. It requires us to be able to accept constructive criticism. And that’s hard! Where in your life do you need to set up guards in order to protect your miracle in the making? Do you need to make sure you are staying in the Word? Do you need to make sure you’re staying in the community?
As necessary as it is to set up guards, it can also feel mundane. We don’t always see the tangible fruit from setting up our guards. And when it starts to feel mundane, we can start to question our miracle. When it’s no longer feeling like a miracle, we assume this must just be the mundane. The tricky thing about the mundane is that it’s easier to walk away from. It’s easier to put on the backburner. But if we shift our focus to see the mundane as preparation for the miracle, we would never slow down from that! Sometimes I feel like God says yes, this is mundane work! But I need you to stick with me in the mundane! I need to build your faith in the mundane! I need to grow your tenacity, strengthen your trust and fine tune your skills in the mundane. The mundane isn’t mundane when you know what you’re working for, or more so who you’re working for.
I was a college athlete. No one was applauding me for going to my 6am practices. No one was applauding me for going to bed early on a Friday night when my friends were at a party. No one was applauding me for sticking to my meal plan and drinking enough water during the day. But I never let myself view that as mundane because I knew that God had a purpose for my life. I knew that my mundane, day-to-day grind had a miracle on the other side. And in February of 2017 I won the National Championship in the 60m hurdles. My miracle came out of years of hard, not always fun, day-to-day, mundane tasks.
And I believe God has a miracle over your life as well! 1 Corinthians 10:31 says so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. So when you’re in your center scrubbing the toilets, you remind yourself that this is my preparation. When you are sending out your 100th email, you remind yourself that this is training. When you are folding the maternity clothes and onesies, you keep your eyes fixed on your miracle.
And lastly, we don’t miss our miracle by not getting distracted. I heard a pastor say once that if the enemy can’t destroy you, he’ll distract you. This is the shift we start to see in Nehemiah chapter 6. Nehemiah is just about finished building the wall and his enemies find out about this and are obviously not happy. They ask Nehemiah if he can come down to talk to them. Nehemiah, knowing that this is a setup, declines their invite. Chapter 6 verse 3 is one of my new favorite Bible verses. Nehemiah responds to his enemies by saying “I am doing a great work. I can’t come down.” I love how the MSG translation puts it. It says “Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?”
Nehemiah declined! Nehemiah recognized that not every conversation he is invited to ought to be accepted. Notice how Nehemiah doesn’t say “Sure, let me come down and change your mind!” He doesn’t say “Let me gossip about it to all my friends and post about it on Facebook to see what everyone else thinks.” No! Nehemiah knew that the work he was doing was a good and God-ordained work, so he doesn’t need to entertain conversations that negate that! A verse my dad would pray over me in college was 1 Corinthians 9:24 “In a race everyone runs but only one person gets the prize. So run to win.” And I feel like sometimes we are all gung ho on running to win and keeping our eyes fixed on the prize, but the minute someone wants to talk negatively about us, we are no longer running to win, we are only running to prove them wrong! When there’s a Facebook post or you receive a text or a local news story comes out that is practically begging you to respond, you don’t always need to entertain that conversation. I want to challenge you to keep your eyes fixed on your prize and not allow yourself to get distracted.
So, how do we keep from missing our miracle?
I wear contacts, however, I can see well enough to at least make my way around my house without needing my contacts in or my glasses on. Occasionally, my husband will ask me to look at something from across the room, not knowing that I’ve already taken my contacts out. After squinting real hard to see what he’s trying to show me, he’ll say “Oh! You don’t have your eyeballs in!” Can I be honest? Some of us don’t have our eyeballs in. Some of us are saying “God! Where’s my miracle? I’ve been doing this for years now and I don’t see it!” But God is saying “Put on your eyeballs! It’s right in front of you!”
We know that we serve a God who never stops working. So even when we don’t see our miracle, even when we don’t feel our miracle, we can choose to roll up our sleeves and celebrate that he is doing miraculous things in and through us every day.
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