Why I Talk About My Abortion

Why I Talk About My Abortion

*by Ashley Sigrest (this post originally appeared on A Lively Faith.)

 

Many people over the years have asked me this & why I don’t stay quiet…

My answer is simple- because God has told me to speak out. 

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So many women walk around with shame, regret, & pain from a past abortion. 1 in 3 women in the Church between 15-55 has had an abortion. Christian women!

 

 

1 in 3 women in the Church between 15-55 has had an #abortion. (CLICK TO TWEET)

 

These women are dying on the inside, tormented by Satan, overwhelmed with fear of judgment if anyone ever found out. Christian post-abortive women tend to understand the forgiveness they have in Christ but have a difficult time forgiving themselves & walking in true healing & freedom.

When I share my story it lets them know they’re not alone. If the Blood of Christ can cleanse me & make me new, it WILL do the SAME for THEM!

 

How do we defeat Satan?

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. Revelation 12:11a

A couple of years ago I filmed a documentary about Rape Conception. The director of the film sent me this email earlier today:

I just wanted to tell you that Saturday after I left Planned Parenthood a ran into a lady who was probably 70 years old who had an abortion many many years ago. She said that even though she knows that God has forgiven her that she couldnt forgive herself. She said it still haunted her and found herself experiencing deep shame and regret. I shared your words with her from your interview and read Isaiah 43 to her. She had me read it over again as she bowed her head. She looked like an angel when she lifted her head up. She said her heart felt so full of God’s love and mercy that she couldnt understand how her heart could remain in her chest. 😉

I do believe I witnessed a miracle!

When I see God heal someone from the guilt of abortion it makes my heart rejoice even more than when someone chooses life.

Blessings to you precious Sister,
Kevin

God takes our sins and turns them into testimonies to help others.

Glory to God!!! He takes our ugliest sins & turns them into testimonies to help others! THIS is why I talk about my abortion! 

God takes our ugliest sins & turns them into testimonies to help others! THIS is why I talk about my #abortion! #postabortive #healing #LivelyFaith (CLICK TO TWEET)

…listen to the LORD who created you…the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consumeyou.
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭1b-3a‬ NLT

Here is a video testimony of my rape & abortion story.

If you are struggling with a past abortion.

If you are struggling with a past abortion I would be honored to talk to you! If you would like to find a post-abortive Bible study near you, check your local pregnancy center or CPC! I went through Surrendering The Secret (aff link) and HIGHLY recommend it, but encourage you to walk through healing with a group. It’s safe and confidential. Be sure to check out the STS website for more information!

There is COMPLETE healing in Christ!

 

By using affiliate links from aLivelyFaith.com you help this ministry continue to grow and reach women from all over! Thank you for supporting Lively Faith!

You can hear more of Ashley’s story and some encouraging words on The Whole House Podcast:

Episode 69


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About Ashley

I’m a self-professed dork who loves sharing the Gospel and digging deeper into Scripture! I want to live my life in such a way it inspires others to passionately seek Jesus and have Lively Faith.

I’m a happily married homeschooling momma to four blessings who runs on Holy Spirit power, coffee, and laughter. I enjoy good books, yummy tacos, Crossfit, and cheesy jokes. I might be a tad too sarcastic at times. I think I’m absolutely hilarious though!  What can I say? Sanctification is a process and God totally has a sense of humor.

I speak fluently in sarcasm, puns, and FRIENDS references. I would love to tour the Holy Land and move to the fictional town of Stars Hollow to plant a church!

You can find Ashley on Instagram @Ashley.Sigrest and on A Lively Faith.

How should the church respond to the recent changes in abortion laws?

Social media is brimming with responses to New York’s recent update to the state’s abortion law:

New York’s abortion law was updated and strengthened Tuesday night when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act into law that had just passed the Senate and Assembly.

The bill was first introduced in the Democratic-run Assembly in 2006 but had not been taken up by the Senate until the Democrats wrested control from Republicans this year.

The law for the first time allows abortions after the 24-week mark to protect the mother’s health or in cases where the fetus won’t survive.- New York Post

The biggest slap in the face to the signing of the law the while the crowd cheers and a “God Bless you” by Governor Andrew Cuomo. God bless who?

I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any inter.png

What should the church’s response be in light of this new law?

  1. Remind ourselves we live in a post-Christian nation. 

“Man no longer sees himself as a qualitatively different from non-man. The Christian consensus gave a basis for people being unique, as made in the image of God, but his has largely been thrown away…. All morals and law are seen as relative.”

There have been many blocks hacked out of our foundation that lead to us becoming a post-Christian nation:

On June 25, 1962, the United States Supreme Court decided in Engel v. Vitale that a prayer approved by the New York Board of Regents for use in schools violated the First Amendment because it represented establishment of religion. In 1963, in Abington School District v. Schempp, the court decided against Bible readings in public schools along the same lines.- cnsnews.com

The cover of Time magazine in 1966 asked – Is God Dead? followed by many conversations that led to some believing the question to be reality.

God is dead. God remains dead. – Nietzsche

In proclaiming God’s death, Nietzsche doesn’t mean to be taken literally. On his view, God never existed in the first place, so talk of his “death” is more about humanity than divinity. We humans, Nietzsche surmises, have found God’s existence both indefensible and undesirable. He therefore asserts rather than establishes the indefensibility of belief in God, even as he explains its undesirability.-thegospelcoalition.org

Roe vWade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is a landmark decision issued in 1973 by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of the constitutionality of laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions.

These are just a few of the changes to our government that began to strip away at the foundations of a Christian nation. We have since shifted to a secular nation with no moral absolutes.

“Modern man has no real boundary condition for what he should do; he is left only we what he can do. Moral “oughts” are only what is sociologically acceptable at the moment. In this setting will today’s unthinkable still be unthinkable in ten years?” – Francis Schaeffer

We must stop shouting our “moral oughts” as if our emotions regarding the moral decay of our nation will change it.

A new friend of mine told me she was tired of the church’s rhetoric and promises of “I’ll pray for you” while it remained inactive about the moral and social issues of the day.

2.  Respond to social/moral issues as the early church did (in the midst of a godless empire).

Before I answer the question, let me set the stage of the early church in the Roman Empire:

“According to the centuries old traditions of paterfamilias, the birth of a Roman was not a biological fact. Infants were received into the world only as the family willed. A Roman did not have a child; he took a child. Immediately after birthing, if the family decided not to raise the child – literally lifting him above the earth -he was simply abandoned. There were special high places or walls where the newborn was taken and exposed to die.”- George Grant via Third Time Around

Life was not valued in the Roman Empire. The arena viewed violence as entertainment. Gladiators fought to the death. Christians were mauled by lions in front of cheering crowds. Pedophilia was practiced. And the list goes on. And on this world stage, Christ lived, died and rose again. The early church began.

The disciples devoted themselves to prayer, waiting together.

They were filled with the Holy Spirit. They devoted themselves to instruction and fellowship. They organized themselves, and met needs, spiritually, financially and physically.

During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.” Acts 6: 1-3

 

Unfortunately, we have left the social gospel behind and spend our time shouting “moral oughts” and have let the government take over the feeding of the poor, the caring for the widow and the orphan. And yet…we want a secular nation to handle our responsibilities with the morals and values of our Christianity. Not going to happen. We shouldn’t be shocked when we get godless solutions to humanity’s problems from the government.

 

“Because of its messiah complex, today the government preempt the work of the church and tries to meet the problems of poverty by government-subsidized programs.” –What if Jesus Had Never Been Born

We, the church have let our responsibility slip through our hands so carelessly, yet we find ourselves in an abysmal atrocity that we ourselves let happen. We even ask the government to provide these things and when they do, we cringe out how it is played out- government subsidized abortions for one. Foster care is another (I won’t go there in this article).

The government has tried to carry out by force the Christian ideal of helping the poor, caring for the widow and orphan, deciding who has value and who doesn’t. The unborn is not given “value”. The value of the child is often what his value is politically.

If we want to change the climate of the nation, we must pray first, wait for His leading and act. When we act, we become the loving hands of Jesus. We cannot change things because of our own effort, but when we follow the roadmap of the early church by the directives of the Holy Spirit we can bring help and healing.

3. Get ready for the fallout.

We’ve already seen fallout on social media- women mourning the loss of a child and outraged at laws and policies that allow other women to take a life. It’s unfathomable. We have all shed so many tears this week. Emotions are all over the place. Women who have had abortions are sharing their regrets, shame and heartache for the choice they made. There’s going to more of that. We’ve opened the floodgates and we need to be ready for the fallout.

Find an honest women who has undergone an abortion and she will tell you the truth. She is damaged physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Her health has been damaged.
“Women who have abortions are 81 percent more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems, according to a new study published by Britian’s Royal College of Psychiatrics. The greatest increases were seen in relation to suicidal behaviors and substance abuse.”- Afterabortion.org
The church should be equipped to minister to these women after the fact. That’s a hard pill to swallow. These women are already out there. They exist. They need our help. Who else will they go to? What about the women who refused an abortion and followed through with the birth? Are we pro-life if we don’t support her? Make provisions for her and her child? Or are we just pro-birth?
This is some heavy stuff. As a church we have realize our predicament, we are living in a post-Christian nation. With that in mind, we need to get back to the practice of the early church who ministered the Gospel and followed up with provision to meet the needs of those affected by the current culture. It was the early Christians who opened the first orphanages, made a provision in the church funds to care for the widow and fed the poor. The early church preached the value of life.
“The church has made more changes on earth for the good than any other movement of force in history.”- What if Jesus had never Been Born
Let’s pray, humble ourselves and celebrate they tiny moral victories in a secular world such as this one:

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion bills into law on Friday.

The so-called “heartbeat” legislation bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy. -npr.org

 

Let’s gear up, army of God, to fight the good fight on faith on our knees and abandon our personal peace (the desire to be left alone to do our own thing) for action based living.

I know that many of you reading this article are already doing the work suggested, you are praying, fasting, serving, sharing your stories for the benefit of others. You are not only sharing, but acting. I applaud you! I thank you.

Let me leave you with this word:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

 II Corinthians 1: 3-7

World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.  Something I never really thought about before until my sweet youngest niece, Lydia, graced this world with her presence.  Of course, I knew about Down syndrome.  I knew that people with Down syndrome seemed to have such a innocence and wonder about them and that the people that had the privilege of having these people in their lives were so incredibly blessed.  However, I never knew how it felt personally until the birth of my niece.

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Let me back up to almost a year ago.  My sister, who was already a mother to three, got the surprise of her life when she found out she was pregnant again.  At the gender ultrasound, she got the second shock of her life….she was having TWINS!!  Babies are a family affair in our family so I went to almost every appointment I could (AKA ones she let me come to, lol).   I was so excited for my baby sister that I jumped out of my seat….then ran to her side to hold her hand as the news sunk in (five kids is a lot to process, you guys).  It was a crazy day, to say the least.  As the ultrasound appointment seemed to go on forever, and the ultrasound tech got quiet, I began to wonder if something was wrong.  Back in the examination room, the doctor walked in with the weirdest face.  I’ll never forget it, he looked like someone kicked a puppy in front of him and he was there to tell us about it.  He looked so sad.  That’s when he told us, he said “with the measurements on the ultrasound, one of the babies looks like it could have Down syndrome.”  Me and my sister looked at each other, then back at the doctor and pretty much said “So?” at the same time.  The doctor started going over tests they could perform to know for sure and talked about “options from there.”  My sister looked him dead in his face and said “No, it doesn’t matter what the tests say.”  Talk about a proud big sister moment!

The twins were born five weeks early.  One boy, and one girl….and they were both beautiful and perfect.  I was there to witness the little joys coming into this world and my heart swelled as they breathed their first breaths.

They just recently celebrated their first birthday’s.  Lydia’s twin brother, Liam, is a little ahead of her, but she is definitely catching up to him quickly.  She has this way about her….she stares so intently into your eyes, like she’s looking into your soul.  She holds onto your face while you talk to her.  I never want her to stop holding my face while looking into my eyes.  She gives the sloppiest kisses and smiles all the time.  This world would be seriously lacking without her in it.

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I’ve recently read articles about places that instantly abort babies with this syndrome, and it makes me sad.  Not just for the children who were aborted, but for the people who could have experienced so much joy and love and snuffed it out before even giving it a chance.  I’m not going to say that it’s easy….being a parent isn’t ever easy.  Even when all events line up to the mythical perfect time to have a baby, it’s still hard.  It’s hard because being a parent means we have to stop being selfish and care for someone other than ourselves…and that is hard…but SO INCREDIBLY WORTH IT! 

I asked my sister what she would want people to know about having a child with Down syndrome, and this is what she said, “Having a child with Down syndrome is one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I’m not only teaching her, but she is teaching me as well.”

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What if you had never been born?

*This post is an excerpt from a speech I shared at the Life Choice Banquet on October 15th. I cut this down to fit a rather long post. Please don’t shy away because it is long. It has value. I began the speech with telling our adoption story, you can find our story here.

“Many are familiar with the 1946 Film Classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, wherein the character played by Jimmy Stewart gets a chance to see what life would be like had he never been born.” That is the springboard for this speech. The main point of the film is that each person’s life has an impact on everybody’s else’s life. Had they never been born, there would be gaping holes left by their absence. EVERY UNBORN LIFE IS A SEED OF POTENTIAL PURPOSE.

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Ancient Cultures didn’t value life, but Jesus does.

Jesus stepped out of heaven and into humanity. Word became flesh incarnate into the midst of the Roman Empire where human life was considered cheap. Ancient Romans commonly let newborns die. It was a legal and even applauded avenue for dealing with unwanted children.

In this same culture, Jesus gathered the little children unto himself saying, “Let the little children come unto Me, and do not forbid them.: Matthew 19:14a

“Abortion disappeared in the early Church. Infanticide and abandonment disappeared. The cry went out to bring the children to Church. Foundling homes, orphanages, and nursery homes were started to house the children. These new practices based on this higher view of life, helped to create a foundation in Western civilization for an ethic of human life that persists to this day- although it is currently under severe attack. And it all goes back to Jesus Christ. If He had never been born, we would never have seen this change in the value of human life.”- What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

Jesus was an unplanned pregnancy .We tend to over romanticize the events around Jesus’ birth as if May were floating in the clouds and everything was perfect. Jesus is perfect, the circumstances of his birth were not. I don’t want to tread on anyone’s theology or doctrine, I just want you to think. Do you think Mary sat around writing in her diary that she wished an angel named Gabriel would appear to her and she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Or  do you think she sang her day dream of being overshadowed by the Most High? I don’t think so. What happened after angel Gabriel visited her? Her betrothed was ready to divorce her. How could she explain the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit? How do you think her family and community responded to her pregnancy. Although we know, the birth of Jesus was foreordained, it was an interruption in Mary’s life plan. It shifted her whole world on its axis propelling her into a purpose that none other has ever or will ever fulfill. Jesus is the interruption that changed all of our lives.

There are over 300 prophecies fulfilled through the birth of Jesus. Could we put a dollar amount on his birth? What if he had never been born? We would not be here promoting life. We would not have salvation or the promise of heaven.

None of us would have a true purpose. We would be like those humanists say, a mass of cells who randomly act according to chemical reactions, not the heart. Jesus Christ had more impact on the life on our planet, or should I say his planet, more than anyone in history. It is because of His impact that we can have impact. It is because He foreordained, before the foundation of the world that each us of be born and adopted as his sons because of His kind intent. Jesus fulfilled a multitude of prophecies and his purposed to rescue humanity from death, hell and the grave and restore us to relationship with the heavenly Father. Because of the life of Jesus, we can choose life and trust that every life has a purpose.

just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will— 6 to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].

Here’s a story of another life interrupted.

“You’re pregnant, Sally. Just get up and walk around. Your cervix isn’t closed all the way. You will lose this one, but you can have another one later” Sally had a three year old and an almost newborn at home. Sally was adamant pro-lifer. She was determined not to lose the baby and went home and put her feet up.  The baby was born a month early at a whopping 5 pounds. That baby was me.

Can you put a dollar amount on my life? Has what I accomplished made a difference? Does my life have value? Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life,  I sometimes doubt my value. During my lowest points, when I have had a bad day, yelled at the kids, cannot accomplish anything on my “to-do’ list, lost everything, I’m sick, fill in the blank, I wonder, would it be better if I had never been born?

I was an unplanned pregnancy. What if I had Never Been Born?

If I apply  It’s a Wonderful Life  philosophy to my existence, I could  list a few things that would not have occurred had my mother walked around and miscarried me. I wouldn’t be standing here promoting life. Three children: Audrey, Amerey and Hunter would not have been born. Four children Damian, Gregory, Ania and Rafal would not have been adopted.  Six grandchildren. I wouldn’t have written a book promoting adoption. We tend to measure life based on accomplishments-curing the common cold, winning Olympic medals, starting a non profit that rescues woman from sex slavery. These are noble endeavors, but let us not miss the many purposes.

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What we often consider interruptions or a derailing of our plan are actually fulfilling a purpose on our path. Interruptions are God’s way of getting our attention. These events that seem to be sidetracks, met with the proper attitude, bring the most reward.

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We often ask God, what is my purpose and if truth be told, he would pull out a bulky book full of your purposes. We may each have unique gifts and talents, but we have an encyclopedia full of purposes. Our lives intersect with others on a daily basis and that one small act that you do in a moment can change someone’s life forever.

Theory of Six Degrees

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

What if a person in the chain is lost, not born, don’t you think it throws everything out of whack?

I met Ettica when I was beginning my homeschooling journey and the process of adopting. She and Doug prayed for us and gave us prayer cloths for each child. I hung onto those cloths as if they were life itself. Ettica understood the power of adoption, having an adopted sibling herself. What if Ettica had never been born? Who would have ministered to me at the time? One of the millions of purposes that was given to Ettica was to be in my life at that time. For such a time of this, we often call them interruptions. We have many of those every day.

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Daughter Audrey and I were at IKEA in Pittsburgh with three year old twins, Sam and Theo and baby Lucy ordering our lunch when the alarm sounded and we were told to evacuate the building. We abandoned the stroller and high tailed it out to the van, promising whiny children who expected chicken tenders and fries that we had snacks. We made it to the van and put a few kids in when Audrey shoved a twin in my hand and ran towards the IKEA doors. I looked up to see a mother running with two shoeless children, one slipping out of her arms. Audrey reached her just in time to catch the slipping child. She helped her the distressed mommy to her car and then joined me. That is purpose, people. It’s not always HUGE and it doesn’t make us famous. It means we are connected, we are paying attention, we reach out because we believe in our worth through Christ and because of that, we believe that others matter. Life matters. Every life matters. Every life has potential purpose. EVERYONE.  Life is not measured as one giant achievement, instead it is a great quantity of purposeful moments. It’s the loving friend who supports us in our journey, or the one we meet in the parking lot of IKEA for five minutes.

In Him also we have [d]received an inheritance [a destiny—we were claimed by God as His own], having been predestined (chosen, appointed beforehand) according to the purpose of Him who works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him as our Lord and Savior] would exist to the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 1:11,12

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He works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of HIS WILL. What we deem mistakes, He deems material to work with. Do you think he thought my children being raised in an orphanage across the ocean in Poland where of no purpose or didn’t have value, or didn’t fit into the design of His WILL. Of course not. He had a plan for them. We have to stop listening to the culture of our day that says life is not valuable or that only certain people matter.

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village

The child of a peasant woman

He grew up in another obscure village

Where he worked in a carpenter shop

Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him

He never wrote a book

He never held an office

He never went to college

He never visited a big city

He never travelled more than two hundred miles

From the place where he was born

He did none of the things

Usually associated with greatness

He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away

One of them denied him

He was turned over to his enemies

And went through the mockery of a trial

He was nailed to a cross between two thieves

While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing

The only property he had on earth

When he was dead

He was laid in a borrowed grave

Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone

And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race

And the leader of mankind’s progress

All the armies that have ever marched

All the navies that have ever sailed

All the parliaments that have ever sat

All the kings that ever reigned put together

Have not affected the life of mankind on earth

As powerfully as that one solitary life

Dr. James Allan Francis © 1926.

How about you? What if You Had Never Been Born?

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Take a minute. Right now. You have a card on your table. Look at it. He who would achieve great things must first be born. That is a powerful statement. You have achieved part one of that statement. You were born. Pat yourself on the back or give your mama a hug.What is your story? What would Dr. James Allan write about you? Take some time, write down a few things that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been born.Teaching a class? Helping your dying mother? Grieving with someone. Can you put a dollar amount on that? Choosing life for your unborn child?

How do you measure the value of life? How do you know the potential of a newly formed life in the womb? We don’t. God does.

4Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”– Jeremiah 1:4,5

God knows our potential before we are born. Before we are formed in the womb, He knows us. Nobody is a mistake.

Each of you were knit together with unique gifts, talents and abilities. When you walk in them, you are part of the body of Christ. Some are hands, some are toes, some of you are the brains of the body.

When an unborn baby is being knit together, we don’t know his/her potential. He/she is a gift, a blessing to us, to the world, either to the birth mother who chooses life or the the adoptive family when life is chosen at the great sacrifice and courage of the birth mother.

Although we can’t put a dollar amount on a life, we can value life enough to put our money into helping a woman to choose life. When a woman sees the positive lines on the pregnancy test and she is unprepared, she feels afraid and alone. Shame will keep these women in all kinds of prison if we let it. Her life has been interrupted. At this point,  we, the body of Christ, should value her life enough to invest in her. We should feel compelled to play Father to the fatherless like our heavenly Father. We should walk in His footsteps and bless what He blesses. He says that life is a blessing. Life is valuable. The world was started with One Holy Family, Adam and Eve. God said, “Be fruitful and multiply”. The fruit of the womb is a blessing. Let us acknowledge that by providing support and education.  Let’s reach into our pockets and support those who can acknowledge that everyone deserves a chance to be born. Everyone has value. Each life has a purpose. We don’t want to one day be asking ourselves, why was the person who needed to fulfill a purpose, write a novel, be a missionary to unreached people, teach the special needs children, run the orphanage, be the social worker or take over Life Choice never born? Where was the friend to support us in our time of need or in the IKEA parking lot?  What if the children who need to accomplish these purposes are never born. Let’s do everything we can here, right now to make it possible for Moms to choose life. We must see the potential in the life in utero and the life of the mother. We should invest our capital in those lives.  Every unborn life is a seed of potential purpose.

 

Why the Church Needs to Adopt/Foster Children

The Orphanage

It’s in the dark, pre-dawn hours. The orphanage is quiet and I am awake. I can’t get back to sleep. I fluff my pillow and sit up in bed, leaning against the iron frame of the bed. Sleep hasn’t come easy this month that we have lived in the orphanage. I am running on adrenaline and my heart is in overdrive.

Hubby Jerry and I flew to Poland and then rode to Sulejow to adopt a sibling group. This was a small village, destroyed by the Germans in WWII, just 15 km from the first Concentration Camp in Poland. We moved into the orphanage after living a week in a castle turned hotel.

The Emotional Burden

At least there was real heat in our quarters in the orphanage as opposed to the frigid castle. I still couldn’t sleep. You see I wasn’t prepared for the emotional overload. My mind skipped back and forth between joy and grief. Overwhelming joy that we were adopting. Overwhelming grief that I couldn’t take every child home. It ate at me. It gnawed at me. I played games with these kids. Hiked into the village with teens. Watched them smile while they played with my video camera. And I couldn’t take them home.

The interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance. We can form all sorts of platitudes, we can quote James 1:27 and intend to raise money for orphans. We can intend to adopt someday. As a church, we can vow to fulfill the mandate “to care for widows and orphans” while we sit in comfortable pews and take communion and remember the death and suffering of our Lord. but, up close, you can’t ignore suffering.

The interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance.

Orphans are humans who need connection.

I couldn’t. I wasn’t prepared for the faces of neglect, swarming around me vying for attention. It’s nothing like in the movies. I couldn’t just smile and move on. Poverty envelops those children and strips them of the most basic of human needs – connection. They want to matter, just like every human being on the planet. They want someone to look them full in the face and say, “YOU MATTER. YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE LOVED.” Neglect says, “You don’t exist.” Abuse says, “You don’t matter”

Every life Matters no matter what Politicians say.

While Hilary Clinton, looking weary and worn down, states on camera that an unborn child doesn’t have  Constitutional rights, she devalues life once again. Life is valuable. Everyone with a beating heart and breath in their lungs holds value. You cannot set a dollar amount on life. The Constitution or rulers don’t set the value. It is there. You cannot snuff it out.

The Church should be adopting orphans and/or fostering.

The church should be adopting orphans quicker than they bag their groceries at the self check out. We should be proclaiming from the rooftop the value of life, that Christ died that each child might have life and have it more abundantly. We should not be participating in stealing, killing and destroying life. That is the enemy’s work.

We must first recognize our own value.

Why don’t we see the value of adoption? The importance of it? Because we first don’t value ourselves. We see ourselves as sinners instead of saints. We see ourselves as beggars instead of sons of God.

We don’t recognize our own adoption. We don’t realize that we have received the Spirit of Adoption by which we cry  “Abba, Father!” We don’t know that before the foundation of the world, God chose us, actually picked us out, destined us to be adopted as His own children (Ephesians 1:4,5). Read that again. Let it sink in. YOU ARE CHOSEN. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE A SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD.  You are not an orphan, wandering lost, looking for acceptance. You have it. You have been pre-approved.

Go into all the world.

With that truth settled deep in our spirits, we must go into all the world and preach the Gospel which has the power to save souls. We should be sharing this news with those who need it most, the spiritual and physical orphans.-those who have been rejected, neglected, abused and abandoned.

 

If you don’t have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances. You can’t watch suffering on a screen and understand. You cannot have empathy for something you have not lived through yourself. Ask God to give you the gift of understanding the suffering of others and the hands to do something about it.

Ten Things This Adoptive Mom Wants Her Kids to Know

“Why did my mom give me up?” That is the question all adoptive parents fear. But here it was coming out of my nearly thirteen-year-old daughter’s mouth. We were sitting in the car in the parking lot, getting ready to go buy card making supplies for her upcoming birthday party.  She asked question after question. It wasn’t that her adoption was a secret. She was four. She remembers living in an orphanage. She remembers her new Mama and Tata living in the orphanage for a month. She flew on the ten-hour flight to Chicago. We spoke of it openly.

 

I didn’t fear the question because I didn’t want to tell her what I knew of her story, but, because I didn’t want to hurt her again. When we adopted her, the caregiver told us that she hadn’t spoken a word for six months after she entered the orphanage with her brothers. She suffered from extreme anxiety when she came to our home. Her new home.

I am familiar with that anxiety. It follows me. Taunts me. After my dad left when I was four, it became my bosom frenemy. I didn’t want to hurt my daughter. I didn’t want to trigger something on this happy birthday shopping day.  I answered. She listened. After the conversation, she seemed happier, lighter. “Thanks, Mom for adopting me.”

There are many blog posts/articles/books about what adopted children would like their parents to know. Those are good. Read them. Today, I thought I’d turn the tables a bit and share ten things adoptive parents would like their kids to know. Maybe we don’t say these things often enough, I don’t.

Ten Things This Adoptive Mom Wants Her Kids to Know

1. I love you. Period. 

I know you hear things like, “How can you love him, he is not your real child?” Don’t listen. They don’t know what they are talking about. Drop the real. You are my child. The world likes to speak in terms of blood. Parenting doesn’t birth only through blood but through the heart. Through commitment. Through sacrifice.  The world views sonship through DNA and genetics. That is not the true definition.

Before I saw your picture, I loved you. I prayed for you. I journaled to you.

2.  Don’t discount your value. You are “chosen.”

Some adoptees struggle with the word “chosen'” because they think it means that they were chosen by adoptive parents to leave their birth family. Some think it is as if adoptive parents are searching for you, find you and take you. Let’s look at the word in a different way. You were chosen to live. You are a survivor. You may have come from traumatic circumstances that could have ended your life (war, drugs, famine, etc.) or you may have been born to a mother who was unable to parent you and chose adoption. You were chosen to live because you are valuable, no matter how much your mind tells you the opposite. It is your choice to believe it. You are valuable. You have a purpose. Your story is unique. Write the rest of your story with this new thinking. I am chosen. I am valuable. God put me in a new family. He has a purpose.

3.  I want to help you with your story.

Many of us spend years of our lives focusing on a few chapters of our life and don’t seem to make sense of it. It’s like reading the same chapters of a textbook over and over and failing the multiple choice questions at the end. It wasn’t until I started writing my memoir alongside our adoption memoir that things started to really make sense. I had grasped bits and pieces of info over the years and had conversations with parents and siblings that made some sense, but when I asked intentionally for the purpose of accuracy that it came together. I found it wasn’t the actual events being historically correct on paper that helped me. It was the pre-suppositions they created. That event is where that feeling started. Hiding under a desk in my dad’s university office invited claustrophobia into my life.  Knowing this helps me discern when claustrophobia will attack and I can be prepared. I put the event in its place.

I see your triggers as well as I see mine. I can help you write your story. You have to trust me. I won’t feel bad if you talk about your birth parents or past events. I can handle it. If I cry, it is not for me. It is for your pain because I love you.

4. My past and your past may tussle sometimes.

It’s normal. Don’t worry. We will make it. Each of us comes into the world in the middle of someone else’s story. Our chapters of origin may be different. There also may be some common denominators. When this occurs, things can get dicey.  We may be hanging onto to each and kicking each other at the same time. When you kiddos had been part of our family for about six months, we took a vacation to the beach. We headed down into the Cheasepeake tunnel.  I gripped the hands of the two youngest (you were crying) while trying to hold on to my sanity (remember- claustrophobia).  Eldest son began a tale of lament, a chapter of his past brought on by the darkness. I tried to listen. Tears trickled down my cheeks. It was a blessing and a curse. I had a bit more of picture puzzle of his story and he had one of mine.

I have spoken with many, many pre-adoptive and foster families through the years. There seems to be a re-occurring theme- one of the parents had a difficult childhood. That difficult childhood gave that parent a heart for hurt children. Therein lies the common denominator. Take two humans who experienced rejection and they may tussle sometimes. It cannot be avoided. No parent can perfectly heal from their past before adopting/fostering. On the other hand, would you want them to? Those who have experienced loss and rejection have something special-empathy. A powerful gift.

5. Your past is my present.

You may not think so based on our busy schedules that we even think about your past and your pain. We do. It is my constant companion. I want to erase it for you, but I cannot. It is part of you. I may not say it often. I may not say it at all because I do not want to be the trigger.

I used to cry while making dinner-a lot. The thought of all the times you kids had gone hungry made me well up from somewhere deep in my gut. I hid my tears because I wanted you to eat regularly and enjoy it. I wanted your new supposition to be – I eat regular meals that mom prepares.

I read this last bit to my daughter. She has been my cheerleader this past week as I have dug deep and come up with these ten things. When I read about the meals, my crying, her being hungry, we both lost it. Faces red. Blubbering. “I’m trying to go to work, mom!” she laughed.  That is why I can’t walk around sharing how much I carry your past. We can’t walk around blubbering all day. Oh, that we could cry one big cry and get it out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

My two eldest daughters shared with me that they had the same “past is our present” experience when each of them gave birth. They had flashbacks for their younger siblings, “Mom, they were alone.”  When eldest daughter’s twins had to get some blood work done, she broke down in tears for them and wept for her younger brother who had no one in the hospital with him for the four or five months he fought to live after his premature birth. Your family carries your pain, oh that we could bear it all.

6. Consequences are not rejection- they are parenting.

If I had a dollar for every time a child said I didn’t love him because I gave him a consequence then I would have enough money for a shopping spree. Child, I know you are more sensitive to control. You only like that word if you are wielding it. I know. Me too. I  like to be in control, to know what is next. I don’t like schedule changes (my past and your past tussling). What I do like is character change. I have had to work hard on mine. I don’t like giving you consequences, but I would be doing you a disservice if  I didn’t.

I talked to a Foster Mom the other day at a Thanksgiving gathering for our children. One thing about fostering that shocked her was how much control was given to young foster children. “I understand that they need to feel they are in control, but they are letting them make decisions about their lives that they don’t have the maturity to make.”

I understand. The system is not perfect. In order to make kids feel secure, we give them too much control. It is not good parenting. Kids need boundaries. Staying up all night gaming and not being able to get up for school the next morning is a choice that demands a consequence to lay a better foundation for a stronger character in the future. Which of you adults could tell your boss you cannot make it to work because you stayed up all night gaming and he should be okay with it?

Stealing from siblings cannot be rewarded with ignorance. It must be rewarded with a consequence (working to pay for an item is a great consequence) because I don’t want you to grow up and end up in jail.

7.  We are your family, not a fairy tale.

As an older teen, when I got angry at my mom, I used to imagine going to live with my dad and how perfect it would be. I would be able to do anything I wanted. He lived in Washington D.C. at the time. I imagined myself jetting around the capital on the metro, waltzing in and out of museums and shopping. It was a fairy tale. The truth was -he lived in a tiny one-room apartment (nothing like the spacious ones you see on tv) and he had a grueling, time-consuming job.

We all daydream. We all like to think in terms of our life, what could be, what was, what’s next. We glorify our past or our future. You, child, have a little bit more fodder for that. My kids had been told when they were adopted that they were going to live in Chicago because that is where all Polish people lived in the U.S.. While staying in Poland, I was asked multiple times about my maid (don’t have one) and once charged a million dollars for a dozen rolls at a village bakery because I was a rich American.

We would all love to live in a fairy tale, the ones with happy endings. Wait. Don’t those have witches who bake children for dinner? Or children get locked in towers until their hair grows to the ground. Or step-mothers who send daughters poisonous apples? Who wants to live in a fairy tale? I prefer boring family life anytime. How about sitting in front of a fireplace reading aloud, sipping hot chocolate on a snowy day? Or dinner around the table? How about renting a cabin in the mountains and escaping the scorching heat of summer? Or Christmas, toned down on gift-giving, but full of celebration, family, games, puzzles, movies?

8.  You may have problems, but you are NOT a problem.

I am not a morning person. I don’t wake up with my hair in place and make-up on like women on tv. I cannot function until I have a cup of coffee in my hands and a few ounces in my belly. Too bad parenting doesn’t wait for morning rituals.

Many mornings when my children woke the sun, I had to make some decisions and say some words before my brain engaged. Not always a good thing. That was my problem. It didn’t make me a problem mom. I could wake up earlier and let my brain engage, or I could repeat the cycle. Burn the pancakes or opt for cold cereal when inside I felt guilty for not arising and preparing. Schedules helped. Menus helped. Alarms helped. I was adult enough to admit I needed to make changes. I know, child, sometimes you are not, but that doesn’t mean I see you as a problem.

My family knows I still struggle with being alert in the morning. It is still my problem. It is not me. It is something I deal with. I could blame it on genetics, disease or a busy schedule. Blaming doesn’t help though, does it? It just passes the buck. Instead of blaming, I accept it. I plan around it as much as possible. I used to pick all my kids’ clothes out the night before (or let them) down to the socks. That was being proactive on my part.

You, child, may have problems that you beat yourself up about. Not understanding math, thanks to the result of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). You may have a difficult time reading social cues or maintaining self-control. These are problems or a better word-challenges. You may always have them, but you are NOT them. Instead of thinking- I have a problem, think – I have a challenge. How can I overcome it?

I am here to help. My youngest son likes to know certain foods are in the house. It makes him feel more secure. His problem. He often eats all of the security bounty the day it comes home from the store, then he has a week of, “There is nothing for me to eat!”  meltdowns. I took steps to help him. First, I took some of the food up in my room and hid it in my closet. I shouldn’t say hid, he knows it is there, but won’t touch it. The second step, measuring the orange juice. He often drank his share of juice in two days. So, I made him divide the ounces in the carton by seven for the days of the week. He got nine ounces of juice a day and I got an extra measuring cup to wash, but it was worth it! Now, he knows, he can make the juice last a week.  Problem tackled. No meltdowns about juice. Control is in his corner.

9.  I am not perfect.

Biggest understatement of this whole article. I am not, nor will I ever be PERFECT, not on this earth. Please don’t expect me to be. I won’t always react with grace. I will sometimes be selfish. Don’t worry, I get consequences too. I had one this week. Husband Jerry was home and offered to take youngest son and me to see Mocking Jay. I opted to stay home because I wanted to be alone and get away from certain people. Yes, sometimes I will want to get away from you, just like you want to be away from me for a while. As one of my kids says, “I just need to be alone for a while. It’s how I recharge.” I’m thankful she has the wisdom to know that about herself.

Just know this -my isms, my imperfections were there before you were born and although you may act in ways that trigger them and vice-versa, I don’t need to be perfect to love you perfectly. Perfect love casts out fear. The lack of love brings thoughts of fear, torment, and punishment. If you keep in mind that I love you unconditionally while I am being imperfect, then we can build together on that foundation that every human must. This is the foundation of perfect love in an imperfect world. If I yell at you for leaving all of your dirty clothes on the floor and demand you pick it up before company comes, that is my imperfection shining through, my need to be loved and accepted through a clean-ish perfect-ish home. It is not you. It is me. (Please still pick your clothes up for YOU, it is a great life long habit).

A few weeks ago, my two eldest daughters and families came over. One apologized for being late, to which her hubby added, “She can’t leave the house unless it is perfect, every dish put away, laundry put away, everything perfect! I don’t understand it!” To which other daughter and son-in-law replied in unison, “Me too,” “Her too”.  “We got it from Mom!” both girls shared and laughed. Yep, sometimes, I pass down my imperfections. Not on purpose. It just happens. It’s the way families work.

10. You are going to make it. We are going to make it.

Stop right now. Look back. What do you see? Days? Years? Months? Birthdays? Christmases? Vacations? Look for the good moments. Forget the meltdown you or your sibling had before the trip to the state park. Look at that photo of you repelling. You did it. You loved it. When we have negative events in our past, we tend to hyper-focus on them and forget to celebrate victories.

Remember your fear of the outdoors? Now, look at you, the photographer with an eye for detail that most don’t see. You spend hours in the woods. Alone. I am not holding your hand anymore. You are doing it. You are amazing. I stand in awe of you.

 

Remember the day you caught a jar of bees? One stung you. You vowed never to catch a bee again. Remember the time you tried to leap from branch to branch, high in the tree. You missed and landed on your ribs, knocking the air out of you in a crackling whoosh. Now, look at you-winter camping at Dolly Sods, kayaking in on the Cheat, saving lives every day on the Squad.

Remember how you struggled to learn a new language? Kids made fun of you because they couldn’t understand you? You had to start the phonics book at the beginning with your younger siblings.  You triumphed. Speaking is the main part of your job. You didn’t give up.

Most importantly, go back to number one. I love you. No matter what some activist speaking against adoption may say. No matter what a scientist may say about genetics and DNA. They don’t know the truth. Love is a thicker bond than the color of eyes or skin. Connection through adoption is real. You are loved. You are chosen. You are part of the family. You have other chapters in your life, I accept that. Let’s live these chapters right here, right now, together.

 

 

 

Guest Blogger- Melissa Hoskins

This post is written by friend, Melissa.  I asked her awhile back to share some news about her Romanian adventures.  God is doing such a wonderful work through her.  Her testimony is a perfect example of Romans 8:28:
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.  
God has taken the wounds and shame from an abortion (as a teen) and turned her ashes into beauty.  She ministers God’s grace and healing message to those who suffer unfathomable guilt and remorse from past abortions.  Melissa also proactively counsels pregnant women through the Pregnancy Resource Center of Marion County where she serves as Center Director.  She carries God’s message of forgiveness and healing to our sisters in Romania.  Read her inspiring account, keep her in your prayers and remember God turns ashes into beauty.  He loves you!  
Here is a summary of my trip:
Summary of my trip to Romanian May/June 2013
When I arrived in Romania, my work started immediately. We arrived in Arad with just enough time to drop off my things and eat a light dinner and make it to the local Christian radio station for a live radio show. Lucia and Mary shared about MAMI and the Pregnancy Resource Center. I shared my testimony. Praise God that He gave me clarity and a clear mind as I had not slept in about 48 hours. There were several people who called in with questions that night.
We traveled the next morning to the Pregnancy Resource Center Staff conference. I was a surprise for the ladies. They didn’t know that I was coming. They asked Lucia for the months leading up to the conference if she was bringing anyone and she said no, unless God provides. At the last minute, God did provide! All praise to Him!!! It was an amazing time with the ladies and the Lord. We spent an hour and a half every morning worshipping the Lord together, praying together, and sharing from God’s word together. It sounds like angels singing when these women are worshipping and they pray with a passion and fervor that I have rarely seen in the U.S. Listening to and sharing what the Lord has placed on their hearts was priceless. These are true women of God who love the Lord and this ministry with all of their hearts. I was blessed and honored to just be in their presence. I shared my testimony and experiences with Pregnancy Resource Centers. I also shared about the PRC of Marion County…what we do and my work there. They had a lot of questions. It was interesting to see the similarities and also the differences in our ministries. One thing I noticed is that they have a lot more freedom to share Christ and the ugly truth about abortion than we feel we do here in the US. I think one reason for that is that abortion is so prevalent (3 out of 4 pregnancies end in abortion in Romania). The ladies also shared their testimonies of how they were called to this ministry. It was amazing how God handpicked them to be a part of His amazing work!
When the conference finished we traveled back to Arad, just in time to drop off our things and go to dinner. While we were at dinner, the pastor who came to the conference to do communion with us called and asked if we would come and speak to his three churches the next day. We said yes, so he traveled an hour and a half to get us and we were off again. The next day we began at 10:00 am and we finished at the last church at midnight. Lucia (President of Mercy’s Action Mission Inc.- MAMI) shared about MAMI and my vision for Ploiesti and I shared my testimony. It was a wonderful time of ministry and fellowship.
When we arrived back in Arad, it was sort of a day of rest. We met together and discussed my vision and heart for planting a Pregnancy Center in Ploiesti. I believe that God connected me to Lucia and MAMI for a specific purpose. It is my desire to be the connections person and fundraiser, but to open the center under this ministry. They are already established and have done this many times before. They know much better than me how to open a center, so it is my desire to do everything I can to help them do that. I shared that with them and we are all praying for the Lord’s will to be done.
When we traveled to Ploiesti, we met with many people. First, we met with Becky, an American who runs an orphanage in Bucharest. This meeting was mainly Becky sharing her experiences and encouragement, wisdom and prayer. It was a wonderful time and I appreciated her wisdom very much.
We then met with the Hope In Action Romanian team leaders, Marius and Roxana. It was a wonderful reunion for us. Lucia and I shared our hearts and vision for the Center in Ploiesti and they will pray and support us in any way they can. They are willing to set up meetings with others to talk about this opportunity when I come back.
We met with Gabi, the head nurse at the hospital in Campina, which was very informative. She said that they have about 10 abortions a day at her hospital. She is willing to refer women to the Center who are post abortive or in crisis pregnancies. Maybe even have a satellite center that the staff would travel to meet with clients.
We also met with the pastor of Nehemiah Church in Campina and his family. They are very supportive of this vision. They would like to take the training when we schedule it as they counsel and they want to be prepared when dealing with these situations.
We spoke on Sunday morning at SOS Ploiesti church. I shared my testimony and Lucia shared about MAMI and the vision. We were able to pray with several women. There were 7 women who are interested in the ministry and training. This is a message I received from one of the women I prayed with:
“The truth is that until this day that I first got to confess my sin for the first time, I thought that I have to pay for my sin the rest of my life, only with pain and suffering. I wasn’t able to be happy about anything good that happened in my life anymore. I thought that is the correct way to pay for my sin- through pain and suffering for that aborted child….he was a boy. After my daughter was born, I was afraid of everything. If she had a cold, or if anything bad was happening to her, I thought that God wants me to pay for my sin, through my daughter’s suffering. Again, I thought that I don’t deserve anything good in my life. I started to withdraw from everything and everybody. I never thought that I’m ever going to be able to talk about this with anybody. But then I confessed to Melissa and then again to my pastor and he told me that God is a God who forgives and that He is a faithful God who forgives and He is a faithful God and that He wants to set me free and wants to heal me. Today, when Melissa hugged me, I felt like I have known her my whole life. I look forward to seeing her again in September.”
This same lady emailed us and said that her husband was also touched by my story and he wants her to start looking for a location for the center in Ploiesti.
The Pastor at SOS is very supportive and recorded my testimony and aired it on the radio on Friday and Sunday. He has also offered to do radio spots for us when we get to that point to get the word out.
Sunday night we spoke at the First Baptist Church in Ploiesti. There were 4 women who want to be involved. The pastor’s wife is an inspector for the public schools and she said she has many connections and if we ever want to speak in the schools, she will help us. The pastor was also very supportive.
Praise God we went from step one to step four of opening a center in one day! The next steps are to raise the $10,000 we need to fund opening the center and find a location, then we hold the training and open. Please pray for these next steps.
The three older kids and I will return to Romania in September for the Hope In Action Missions trip. Please pray for wisdom for me to know if and how to use this trip to work on this opportunity as well.
I continue to pray for favor and open doors and the Lord has been faithful! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you so much for your prayers and support
Contact me @:  melissa.hoskins@rocketmail.com