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.
by Terri Fox, Program Coordinator
The anxiousness that defined every Supreme Court decision day since the beginning of June was brought to a conclusion on June 24. That day we waited, and we watched. And then there it was, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health appeared, and Roe v. Wade had been overruled. I rejoiced with a spirit of thankfulness and praise. The Supreme Court Justices had the courage and conviction to examine the laws and the Constitution and overturned a grievous decision that had been made with faulty information and outright lies.
But then I found myself surprised by grief.
Almost immediately an overwhelming sadness came over me as I tried to muffle my sobs sitting at my desk. I thought about everyone who had been affected by Roe. Not just the babies unborn, but the women who chose, were coerced, were frightened; the men who did the coercing, threatening, and abandoning, or who were not even included in the decision making process.
As the day progressed, I was still surprised by the depth of my tears. And while I grieved for others, I was again grieving a child that physically ceased to exist, but still lives in my memory. Both of my children died in the month of July. One killed in a car accident. One killed by an abortion decision. I grieve for one more openly than the other, but I grieve for both, nonetheless.
And then I reminded myself to not linger on the what ifs, but to remember the words of confession and repentance expressed with godly sorrow. And remember the forgiveness received, and the mercy and comfort bestowed by a loving Father.
As the decision became known, the opinions came pouring in from all around, the people closest to me sometimes hurting the most.
Someone close to me posted, “…I call on all who were so invested in abortion being outlawed to step up with the social safety net that those same ppl are opposed to funding. You now have decided to insert yourself into the lives of these women and children… If you truly care about the life of these children so much so that you are forcing this issue, which, btw, is a private, personal choice between a woman and their God or not God depending on their beliefs, then you need to put your MONEY where your morally superior mouth is…”
And one family member texted, “The Doxology just went through my heart and head.”
As we move forward from the day of decision, I’ve listened to others express their reactions with words like contemplative, somber, a heaviness of heart. There was celebration but it was subdued, because as we’re reminded by these words from the decision, “We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
Abortion is still available. There are still battles to be fought. Hearts are still hardened. People are still confused and hurting. They need to hear the truth. They need to see kindness. They need to be lifted in prayer. Pregnancy centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, nonprofit adoption agencies, and abortion recovery programs are still relevant as women and men still need places to find help and hope.
Yes, there is still work to be done. But take heart, we are not in this alone. The divide may be wide, but Jesus’ arms are wide enough. His forgiveness is complete enough. His love is deep enough.
I will share this truth until there is no more breath left in my lungs because I know that “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is 40:31
As for me, I’m singing the Doxology.
Praise God through whom all blessings flowPraise Him all creatures here belowPraise Him above ye heavenly hostsPraise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!
If I listen closely, I’m sure I can hear you singing along.
by Jor-El Godsey, PresidentHeartbeat International
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
1 Peter 4:12-14, NLT
Well, suddenly the term “fiery trial” has taken on a whole new meaning for the pregnancy help movement in the United States.
Honestly, it was so much easier considering the “fiery” part of the trial was just a metaphor. Yet, when more than a half dozen pregnancy centers in diverse states have experienced actual arson attacks, the term fiery is suddenly a very real and present scenario.
We, in this modern day, are very far removed from the types of fiery trials that the apostles, and even disciples, actually faced in New Testament times and afterward. For their faith and their message and their adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ they were imprisoned, tortured, and even murdered. Some in especially gruesome ways.
Especially in the U.S.A. where we have largely avoided war on our soil, we are unacquainted with an ever-present threat against us. We have not experienced, much less lived with, the real and present dangers of terrorism, societal unrest, and threat of war found in other parts of the globe.
And still the message from the Apostle Peter comes to us over two millennia. We ought not be surprised, but (gulp) rejoice.
It makes no sense to attack the innocent. Pregnancy help organizations did not overrule Roe. But then Jesus didn’t overturn Pilate's rule either. What He did do was make a way of rescue by going through the fiery trials. In fact, was He also not present as the “fourth man” in the fire of Nebuchadnezzar? (Daniel 3:24-26)
Remember that the spirit of abortion is an attack on the innocent. It is no surprise that those who support the violence of abortion will resort to violence.
That is why fiery trials are upon us. More fiery than we probably imagined. And that is because we are standing for the Gospel of Life and God’s precious Gift of Life.
With that there is good news! Peter tells us that, too. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
The Spirit of God is all over the work of pregnancy help. We have seen the miracle of life and witnessed miracles of provision and providence. We have felt the peace of God in the midst of chaotic situations. We have known the Truth when confronting the lies of the enemy of our souls.
Take heart “because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
by Matthew Doane, Esq.Staff Attorney, Heartbeat International
One of my favorite bible verses on children and parenting comes from Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” While thoughts of quivers full of arrows and enemies at the gate pull at my J.R.R. Tolkien-reading heart, verse 3 begins with a declaration that children are a reward from God, a heritage from Him.
While the word heritage can have many meanings, in this context “heritage” can be translated to the Hebrew word of “nachala,” which can mean “assigned by God.” Thus, not only are children gifts from above, but God has specifically assigned us, of all the men in the world, to be our child’s father. What an awesome, yet humbling realization.
As the sole person in the entire world that God has ordained to father and raise our particular children, how do we fulfill this awesome and daunting responsibility? Who better to look to as an example than Joseph, the husband of Mary and the person God selected to serve as Jesus’ stepfather during His time on Earth? While Joseph is never quoted in the bible and appears only briefly in the Gospel narrative, there are lessons to be learned from this important person in Jesus’ life during His time on Earth:
Joseph is described as a “just” man in Matthew 1:19 who is unwilling to put Mary to shame when he learns that she is with child. We are told throughout scripture that justness, or righteousness, is one of the chief attributes of God. As men and fathers, we should imitate Joseph, who imitates God, and do our best to live a righteous life.
As Joseph is considering divorcing Mary quietly, an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and instructs him to not be afraid in taking Mary as his wife and that Jesus would “save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, “he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” Joseph followed the Lord’s instruction and was faithful to his God throughout the few instances he is mentioned in the bible. While we may not have an angel of the Lord appear to us, as fathers we too should follow the Lord’s instructions left in scripture on how to be Godly fathers to our children and “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4b.
One of our principal duties as fathers is to protect our children. After the wise men departed from their visit to the child Jesus, another angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him that Herod was out to destroy Jesus. The angel instructed Joseph to flee with Jesus and Mary to Egypt for their safety. When he awoke, Joseph immediately took Jesus and Mary to Egypt under the cover of night. Since Jesus, the Son of God, was also truly human during His time on Earth, He needed the parental care and protection of His adopted earthly father. We too must provide for and protect our children.
The Gospels refer to Jesus as a carpenter, a trade he likely learned from Joseph. The King of all Kings, the Lord of Lords, was entrusted to a carpenter. We don’t have to be powerful, wealthy kings to be good, godly fathers to our children (which is good, right?). God has assigned them to us for His reasons, and our job is to be an earthly reflection of His fatherly love to them.
Fathers, we are blessed because our quivers are full! Let us celebrate this and God’s assignment of His children to us this Father’s Day.
by Cindi Boston-Bilotta, Vice President of Mission AdvancementHeartbeat International
As Casey* exited the elevator, it was clear she was in crisis. Her tear-stained face and sad eyes told the story. Casey was a senior in college and pursuing her goal to graduate in a few months but was diverted by the sickness hitting her body due to an unexpected pregnancy. She felt the harsh reality that life was different, and she could never fully return to what she once knew.
Casey entered Planned Parenthood to confirm her pregnancy and learn more about her choices. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but their name indicated they could walk her through this dicey situation. As she entered the clinic, a receptionist, facing a copier and sighing with disdain, finally turned around to face Casey. Through tears, Casey indicated she thought she was pregnant. With an eye-roll and another sigh, the receptionist handed her a card and said, “this will fix everything, honey.”
She handed Casey a referral to a clinic that performed abortions. They thought abortion was her only option. It would be a calculated decision to terminate, but the sting of the word “abortion” didn’t settle well. She wanted a life of accomplishment but wondered if success could include motherhood, as well. But she had no idea where to go for more information.
From her car, a Google search revealed a local pregnancy center that offered “options.” That sounded more like what she needed – she wasn’t sure about anything, but she knew she needed to consider more than one choice.
Casey visited the pregnancy center, and her despair turned to joy as she saw the positive pregnancy test, discovered more about parenting and adoption, and viewed the dancing baby in her womb. That moment in time was forever seared in her mind because she instantly found the joy of motherhood. What was once a burden was becoming treasured. She left the center all smiles as she celebrated the gift of a new life within her body. Now, she knew she could do it.
The pregnancy center team, who used the LOVE Approach – Listen & Learn, Open Options, Bring Vision & Value, and Extend & Empower – gave Casey comfort and safety as she explored the possibilities.
The moments of motherhood look different for each pregnant mom. When the pregnancy is unexpected, courage must grow just like it did with the mothers who were pregnant at the time of Pharaoh – they had to rely on the “midwives” who were fighting for those babies' lives.
Like the mother of Moses, some moms must find the courage to create a safe passage for their sons or daughters.
Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, some must say yes to motherhood when it can threaten their lives if they carry their children.
The moment motherhood arrives is designed to be filled with celebration. But the difficulties of life can delay the celebration. Using the LOVE Approach with expectant moms who must navigate difficult decisions opens an opportunity for them to make choices that bring their hearts alive. It awakens the natural, God-birthed maternal instinct of moms across the globe. We celebrate moms everywhere this week, including moments when courageous moms say yes to life during unexpected pregnancies.
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