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.

Changing How We Think About Adopted/Foster Kids

Often our society treats foster kids — and by extension adopted kids — as somehow less. Less important than adults. Less valuable than their peers. Less lovable because of their background, their biological family, or their behavior. Almost less than human. Different. Other. Less.

We would never say any of that out loud, of course. But some of the most insidious lies we believe are the ones we never put into words. Among them are some very harmful and mistaken beliefs we may subconsciously hold about kids from hard places.

Unfortunately, even subconscious beliefs will affect how we think about and treat others. In order to consistently live out pro-life values, we need to recognize the lies we believe about foster and adopted kids and replace them with the truth.

In order to consistently live out pro-life values, we need to recognize the lies we believe about foster and adopted kids and replace them with the truth.

Kids Are Valuable. Period.

As beings created in the image of God, all kids — including foster and adopted kids — have inherent and inalienable worth. I think all Christians would say they believe that. The problem is, we sometimes don’t act like it.

Instead, we act as if somehow a child’s worth can rise or fall based on what has been done to or for them. A child that we may have overlooked last week might suddenly seem more precious to us once we know they are a foster or adopted kid. Or we might act as though these kids are somehow second-class citizens because of their past or present situation.

It’s important to remember that adopted kids aren’t valuable *because* of what their adoptive families have done for them or even *despite* what they’ve been through. They’re just valuable. Period. No qualifiers.

Foster Kids Aren’t Broken.

I don’t think many people would look at a three-year-old foster child and say, “That kid is broken.” But that’s exactly what our actions often imply. Foster kids often behave differently than we would expect a “normal” child to behave. They act out, and it isn’t pleasant for their foster parents or for anyone else around them —  from teachers dealing with classroom disruptions to random strangers witnessing a grocery store meltdown.

It’s easy to look at these kids and see bad behavior in need of correction rather than a hurting child in need of love. But it’s important to remember that foster kids aren’t broken. They don’t need to be fixed. Like any child, they need to be loved. They need to be guided, disciplined, protected, and provided for. They need us to look past their behavior, see their hurt, and meet their needs.

Foster and Adopted Kids Are Not Their Past.

If you have watched any videos or read any articles about the long-term effects of childhood trauma, you understand that a child’s past — especially their earliest experiences — will leave a lasting impact. (If you haven’t, this TED talk is a good place to start.) We are all affected by what we’ve been through.

However, we must remember that while foster and adopted kids will certainly be affected by their past, they are not defined by it. Childhood trauma, foster care, and adoption will forever be part of their story — but it’s only one part. It’s not the beginning, the end, or even the climax. Just another chapter in a story still being written.

None of us would like to be forever known first and foremost for something that happened to us in the past. Neither do kids from hard places. We should interact with them in a trauma-informed way, but we should not equate them with their trauma, its effects, or their response to it. Beneath all the hurt is a real person with real feelings and a real future, and we need to treat them accordingly.

Adopted Kids Belong. So Do Foster Kids.

It would be almost unthinkable to look at a newly adopted child and say, “You don’t belong here.” But isn’t that the impression we give when we constantly tack on the word “adopted?” When we differentiate between adopted and biological children? When we ask which of a person’s children are their “real kids” or which of a child’s siblings are their “real” brothers and sisters?

Adopted kids belong, just as much as biological children. A family grows and stretches to accommodate those who become part of it — whether by birth or adoption. Adopted kids aren’t the last resort, a charity case, or a pet project. They are part of the family. They belong, fully and forever.

The same is true for foster kids. A foster family is a “real” family in every sense of the word, and foster kids belong. Although their physical presence within the family may be temporary, for as long as they are there, they belong. When they leave, the family grieves as they would the loss of a biological child. Their absence leaves a hole because they were — and still are, in a sense — part of the family.

Kids Are Just as Important as Adults.

Not only are foster and adopted kids just as important and valuable as other kids, but they are just as valuable and important as adults. When we treat kids as though they are important, we aren’t indulging them — we’re aligning ourselves with God’s view of children. Over and over again, Scripture emphasizes the value of children.

Both Matthew and Mark relate Jesus’ teaching that “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” When he caught his disciples rebuking children who wanted to be near Him, Jesus went on to say,

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (See Matthew 18:2-6; Matthew 18-10-14; Mark 9:36-37, 42; Mark 10:13-16.)

We need to treat children as though they are valuable and worth our time, love, and respect, even when we don’t understand them, because that’s how Jesus treated them. Their needs and feelings are just as important and valid as any adult’s. Little voices aren’t any less important, and their feelings aren’t any less real.

We all know foster and adopted kids are people, too. We know they matter. We know they’re precious in God’s sight and made in His image. We just need to act like it — starting with rooting out any subconscious beliefs that undermine their value.

Want to hear more about this topic?

Grab a cup of coffee and join us on this week’s podcast:

Episode 68


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My name is Kristin Peters. I married my husband, Robert, in 2010, and we had our baby girl 5 years later, right after he graduated from law school. In fall of 2016, we became certified to foster and soon after received our first placement — an adorable little boy who is 2 years older than our daughter. He felt like part of the family from day one, but we were able to (finally!) make it official in February of this year. In addition to being a wife and mother, I work as a writer, an editor, and the content developer for SHIELD Task Force. You can follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/SHIELDWV), or check out our website at www.shieldwv.com.​

Are Foster Parents Superheroes?

Guest post by Lindsay Emswiler

In my opinion, want to know the biggest lie that the enemy tells?

Foster Parents are Superheroes.

55845507_2040546226247479_8384669923011461120_nWhen sharing our story, I never want it to seem as if I have it all together. I just don’t…

Last week my kid dumped Chex mix on the floor. I left it for a week.

Yesterday I had to remind my older kid to brush his teeth. It had been a while.

All the while my younger son is completely addicted to watching videos.

My desire is never looking superhuman because that’s NOT attainable. I want to put real faces on a terrible situation.

It’s such a blessing, while in the trenches, to have people lift you up and encourage you. It’s literally has saved me somedays. I have been ready to throw in the towel and a Saint of God will come along and speak like into me. It rejuvenates me!

Foster Care is for Real People.

I want you to see that my family is real, completely normal, yet crazy, and healthy.

We get way too attached because we are normal.

We get angry at their situations because we are normal.

We cry when they cry because we are normal.

My children are completely and totally worth the fight. Regardless of how they got to me, they are wanted.

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You don’t have to be a superhero to be a foster parent.

7,000 kids in WV are in foster care. Honestly, I think that CPS workers would be quicker to remove children from unsafe situations if they knew they wouldn’t have to BEG people to put them in their home.

You don’t have to have superhuman strength. You don’t have to be a superhero to be a foster parent. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in child psychology. You don’t have to be anything special. You just have to have a desire to make a change. A willing heart. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. Don’t wait for the perfect time. There isn’t one. We don’t foster because of how we feel, we foster because of how the children do. Simple as that. Rise up. Step up. Toughen up… and say yes.

 

*Lindsay Emswiler is just a regular mom, business owner, and pastor’s wife whose eyes were opened and life transformed when she became a foster parent. She and her husband, Cory, live in Charleston, West Virginia with their kids–two biological, two adopted, and whomever the else the Lord brings their home!

Listen to this week’s podcast to hear more from Lindsay!

Episode 66

How Having a Large Family Taught us to Have Joy During Trials

Ever have one of those moments when you look around and time seems to be in slow motion? You have one of those sparks of realization that your life is different than those around you? I had one of those recently, concerning trials.

I was sitting in church and Pastor W. was talking about suffering. We have had some serious health things come up in our church body and everyone is reeling from the stress of it. We did a massive prayer service a few Sundays ago which I highly recommend. The following Sunday, Pastor W. gave some super helpful tips about suffering. I looked around and realized how many people only experience suffering in blips. It’s not an everyday occurrence. Weird. Not like my life at all. My life has been a series of trials. Not on a daily basis, on an hourly one. I’m not complaining. Just a fact that my adult children and I have talked about before. We’re used to trials. They’re pretty normal to us. I’m not talking about major trials, although we have had our share of those as well, I’m talking about those “death by paper cuts” ones. The trials like storm clouds that keep rolling in.

My elder brother and I were catching up over the holidays one year, I shared about three of my seven kiddos. “Ania almost drove into the ditch and had to get help, Gregory wrecked his car and Amerey had a baby!”

“All in one month?” he asked.

“No. All in one day. Actually within a few hours.”

Raising a huge family with some kids from hard places can be chaotic. It can be organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless. Let’s just say, the sort of chaos I’m talking about is suffering/trials of various levels. Those are good teachers.

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.- James 1

 

Large (Adoptive/foster cause that’s my experience) families face trials of many kinds on a minute by minute basis (especially if you homeschool). This scene from Cheaper by the Dozen is real life for us. We did this whole scene minus the frog with spaghetti. Five plates of spaghetti on the floor.

 

Three Things Large (Adoptive or Not) Families know about trials/suffering.

 

  1. We take on the belief that “This too shall pass.” We get used to the waves of trials. Large families realize that milk can spill, be cleaned up and spill again. I’m sure other families do the same. We just have more trial runs (pun intended). One year we had a Christmas party at our home for friends and a toddler pulled an opened liter of sprite off the counter. I remember so distinctly because of her mother’s expression. Yes, I would be horrified if my toddler spilled something at someone else’s house, but it’s a minor trial, not a major one. If there isn’t someone hurt, it’s just a thing, a mess that can be cleaned up. People are more important than things.
  2. We learn how to be calm in the midst of the storm. This point really goes back to number one. I think of Jesus sleeping on the boat in the midst of the storm (kind of like a mom trying to get a few winks on the couch while kids are playing) and the disciples wake him up, “Jesus, don’t you care if we drown?” Our kids have a similar version of this “Mom, don’t you care if _________.” Moms with multiples learn how to stay calm in the storm. Why? Because, there is always a storm. You have to have a big perspective and little actions. And also, expending energy for things that we can’t control becomes way too counter productive. WE learn how to persevere. In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh” that God has given him to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul has asked God three times to remove it…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.– 2 Corinthians 12: 9Text placeholder (3).png

 

  1. We learn to set aside our self interest for those of others. We become spiritually mature. It’s sink or swim. Trust God or remain in constant stress. You either rely on the grace of God or you fall apart. You either set aside your self or you end up frustrated and angry all the time.

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3, 4

It’s an interesting dynamic. Once you get used to telling yourself “no” for the interest of other’s a few times, it gets easier. After a while, it gets downright joyful. I am not talking about letting someone walk all over you. I’m talking about sacrifice. Staying up late to make a costume, help with a project or bake cookies with your kiddos or turning off Netflix to read aloud with a child on your lap.

4. We realize our joy doesn’t come from our circumstances. This is a biggie. I will be the first to admit, this is almost an hourly struggle. It’s hard to admit that God is in control when my circumstances are out of control or feel as if they are. Often we get the big call of God on our lives, to raise children, stay home, homeschool. start a blog, write a book or volunteer at the food pantry and the list goes on. Those are the big picture things. You can write them on a sticky note and put them on the calendar. But, what happens when you know you are supposed to write a book, but circumstances keep getting in the way, those circumstances might even be your children. What if you blocked off a chunk of time and a child ate up that time, literally and figuratively. My experience has been when I wallow in frustration, it effects me physically. I feel sick. My muscles ache from the tension.  When I realize that God directs my path and I accept it, things go so much smoother. If God gave you a job, He will equip you for it. He will if you trust Him.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].- Proverbs 3: 5,6

I’m sure you can learn all of these lessons without having a large family, but having one definitely offers many more trial runs. I’m speaking from my experience. I’m sure you have your own. However you get there -practicing perseverance helps us work towards maturity. Trials are opportunities. 

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

The Gathering Keynote – You Were Made to Thrive

What’s the last decision you made completely uninfluenced by others or your circumstances?

Do your circumstances define you and confine you?

If you had total freedom from other’s opinions, your current circumstances and your erroneous beliefs about yourself, what would that look like?

Would you feel freer, act as if you had value? Would you pursue your purpose with vigor instead of fear and trepidation?

What if you walked as if you were truly loved, valued and cherished?

Episode 30 (1).pngUntitled design (2)

Untitled design (1)Modern feminism tells us women that we can/should have it all. We can have it all and there will be no consequence? That’s just not possible. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Basic science. If we have it ALL, we have to maintain it ALL. As Bud, my stepfather used to say, “Something’s got to give.” It’s like those people who want a pool (it’s great), but don’t want to do the work of vacuuming it, keeping the patio clean, testing the water, etc.. Point is, if you have it, you have to maintain it.

Modern woman have it all, but according to Dr. Villar, author of Urban Woman Syndrome, we are paying a hefty price. Women or more likely to suffer stress and anxiety these days than men. The stressors in women’s lives are greater than they were in our mother’s time. Whether you work or stay at home (and work), the pressure is greater to ‘have it all together’ in a world that is falling apart. There’s more pressure to look perfect for our social media driven society. There is more stress on being educated and have the perfect career in a new age where women have the option to pursue academics. If you stay and home and homeschool, there is an unwritten rule that your house should be cleaner and you should be more organized and efficient than the rest of the female population!

Are you feeling pressure just reading this? Is it overwhelming? This overwhelming stress or Urban Woman Syndrome drives us to survival mode where we fight, flight or freeze.

We should have it all together, right? As soon as we get one step in the right direction of “I’ve got it all covered”, then circumstances happen that throw us into the pit.

  • Divorce
  • Depression
  • Job Loss
  • Parenting a child with special needs
  • A Move
  • A Job Change
  • A New Baby
  • Health Issues
  • Death of a Loved One

Suddenly, all the great things in our life look gray. Feel gray. I know. I’m preaching to the Guire here. Been there. Done that.

You are not alone, dear one. It’s going to be okay. Really. Can I share three things that have helped me? Three things I need reminded of often? I learned them from John 5, the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda and from Holley Gerth (via her book You’re Going to be Okay).

 Take a few minutes and read John 5:

5 Later on there was a Jewish festival (feast) for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways).

3 In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—[a]waiting for the bubbling up of the water.

4 For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.

5 There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.

6 When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]

7 The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me.

8 Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!

9 Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked. But that happened on the Sabbath.

10 So the Jews kept saying to the man who had been healed, It is the Sabbath, and you have no right to pick up your bed [it is not lawful].

11 He answered them, The [b]Man Who healed me and gave me back my strength, He Himself said to me, Pick up your bed and walk!

12 They asked him, Who is the Man Who told you, Pick up your bed and walk?

13 Now the invalid who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had quietly gone away [had passed on unnoticed], since there was a crowd in the place.

14 Afterward, when Jesus found him in the temple, He said to him, See, you are well! Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.

15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus Who had made him well.

16 For this reason the Jews began to persecute (annoy, torment) Jesus [c]and sought to kill Him, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.

17 But Jesus answered them, My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too, must be at [divine] work.

 

First of all, do you want to get well? That’s what Jesus asks the man who had laid by the pool for thirty-eight years. Jesus addressed the heart first. “In Bethesda which translates ‘House of Mercy”, people gathered at a pool of water. The sick came to get well.” Jesus asks us the same question.He doesn’t say, “I feel so sorry for you. You have a deep seated illness”. Maybe you have a fear bossing you around. Maybe circumstantial depression is getting you down. Do you want to get well? Jesus didn’t outright approach this man and heal him. He didn’t declare him healed in His name. He started with a question that could be interpolated into whatever your circumstances are telling you or confining you. 

Do you really want to be healed of your fear, your complacency, your worry or your bad attitude to find a free-flying, abounding life?

Or, are you used to things as they are, the sympathies, the comforts, the lenacancies, the excuses and the status of poor old me?

Do you want this new thing?

I believe Jesus asks “Insert your name- you say you want this, but do you really want radical passion and purpose? Or has your heart settled into complacent and comfortable living?”

“Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in it.” Mindset.

May I tell you something, friend? There is enough pool water for everyone. The water that Jesus offers means you’ll never thirst. There is no lack in Jesus. The lady next to you at church isn’t taking all the healing. There is enough for you too. Say “yes” to wanting to get well. Take a second right now. Just say, “yes, Jesus”.

Ready for the first step?

  1. Get up.

Guess what, your circumstances don’t define you. They are not who you are. They are simply where you are.

“What the enemy tries to whisper to us whenever we struggle is this, “If God really loved you, this wouldn’t be happening.”” (Holley Gerth) Not true. We live in a fallen world. People make choices that affect us. This world has sickness, sin and suffering. This world and all it’s circumstances don’t define us. God doesn’t love us less because we are suffering.

Don’t believe the lie the man at the pool believed- I’m not really loved. Nobody cares about me. No one will help me. Lies. All lies.

You are infinitely loved. God loved you and thought of your adoption into HIs family before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1).

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him)

38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things [n]impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,39 Nor hei

 

You are not what you feel. If you feel overwhelmed, stressed and like a failure, those are feelings, not a determination of WHO you ARE. You are loved! Stand up sister and encourage yourself in the Lord. Look up scriptures including those above and memorize them. Hide them in your heart. Make them part of your arsenal. Pull out the weapon of the Word and fight like a girl. The Word is heavy. It takes spiritual muscle to use it. If we don’t use it, we become weak. If we use it every day, we get stronger.

  1. Take up your bedroll.

We all make messes with our lives. We stay angry when we should forgive. We stay in the pit of depression when we know we should get up and make the bed. We fill our calendars to overflowing and joke about how overwhelmed we are. It becomes our new normal. We’ve lived on the outskirts of healing for so long that we feel more comfortable under stress than we do with peace. We are so used to calamity and tight ‘run to the next thing’ schedules that we forget what peace feels like. We forget the feeling of reading a great book. Lying on the grass and watching the clouds go by. Sitting out on the front porch in the evening just because. Making cookies with your kids just to eat, not for an event.

Picking up your mat is taking responsibility for yourself. It’s the old adage, you make a mess, you clean it up. If you are overburdened, over-stressed and your day’s schedule is maxed out, what can you cut out? Ask yourself this question- Does this have eternal value? OR- Does this bring value to my life period? Temporal or otherwise. It is producing the good fruit of peace, joy, love kindness faithfulness, goodness, or self-control? I’m not saying it should be all sunshine and daisies (my favorite flower). I’m asking, does it profit you and your household? For instance, exercise uses the fruit of self-control and produces the fruit of a healthier you.

Serving on three committees a week may seem like a good thing, but it may not be profitable for you. It may rob your of family time, of rest and sanity. If you’re just working for the Lord and not spending any time with Him, you’re not going to reap connection and relationship. Same with your family, if you are not investing time in them, you won’t reap connection and relationship. Same goes for yourself, are you investing good things in yourself? Exercise, healthy eating and periods of rest and recovery? Are you filling your mind with junk food, too much tv and social media? Or healthy soul food, the Word, great literature and helpful encouraging podcasts?

If you work through steps one and two, get up and take up your bedroll, step three becomes so much easier.

  1. Start Walking.

Each of us has a specific purpose. We do. We’re that special. Breathe. You have a purpose too. It’s not just all the other gals you follow on Instagram. You.

“Stress makes us short-sighted. OUr bodies are wired in such a way that when our fight or flight system is triggered, we react. We’re not thinking noble thoughts about the meaning of life or world peace. We’re just trying to save ourselves…The trouble is, many of us live in chronic stress.” (Holley Gerth)

The truth is, you weren’t created to strive or survive, you were created to thrive. Each of us have, through life experience or through the desire of our heart, a unique purpose. We feel things deeply about this purpose. For instance, when it comes to orphans, adoption, foster care and adoptive/foster parents, I park my purpose there. I spend my time there, working, praying, writing content, encouraging, offering ETC training and praying. God took my past, renewed it and transformed it into a purpose that I can walk in.

Friend Lori makes baby quilts and she is good at it. Maybe the desire and purpose for making each new mom and baby feel celebrated comes out of her past (that’s her story to tell). What would happen if I gave up my purpose to make baby quilts? That’s a good thing, right? I may even learn how to make a decent one, after a decade or so. The whole time I would be walking in the wrong direction. I would feel angst in my soul as if I were fighting against myself. The angst would created unneeded stress and probably depression. When Jesus told the man at the pool to start walking, He meant in the path God had prepared for Him specifically, not to randomly walk. Pool guy went to the temple where he ran into Jesus, who said, “You look wonderful!’

One bit of warning. When you begin to walk in your God given purpose and you’re acting counter-culturally, the opposite direction of modern feminism, there will be naysayers. Jesus healed the pool guy on the Sabbath, a cultural no-no for Jews. Jesus responded to this with ,”My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”

It reminds me of many years ago when my mother wanted to open a food pantry in our community and the church leaders told her there was NO NEED. My mom and Bud had moved to the hills of WV because she had been born here. The hunger she had experienced as a child turned into a purpose to feed the hungry. She opened the pantry and it is still running twenty-one years after her death. Don’t let people talk you out of your purpose. Don’t be interested in crowd approval. Be content with God approval. Be set on the purpose God has given you. Walk in it.

“We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

“When Life comes along and slaps us silly, it can feel as if God’s purpose for us has now been cancelled. But nothing can stop His purpose for us….just because your circumstances are hard doesn’t mean God’s purpose for you has changed.”- Holley Gerth

Even if you feel as if you are the ONLY one doing what you are doing and you KNOW God led you to do it, DO IT ANYWAY.  If you tell a group of friends that you are ________________ and aren’t going to ________________________ and they try to redirect you, listen to your purpose, not theirs. It’s okay to act counter culturally. Jesus did.

So here_s what I want you to do, God helping you_ Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offe

 

We aren’t looking for a plethora of good things to do. We are looking for our highest level of contribution, the right thing to do, the right way at the right time.

People can be effective because they say ‘no’. This isn’t for me. Instead, they pursue their purpose.

Do you want to be well? Do you want to be satisfied in your soul? Get up. Stop believing the lies. Your circumstances are not a measure of your worth. You are infinitely loved. You are chosen. Take up your bedroll. Picking up your bedroll is taking responsibility for yourself and your choices. Get off the treadmill of what is expected and run the race at a meaningful and profitable pace. Ask yourself, what sort of fruit does this activity produce? Start walking. You were made for a purpose and actually, mini, many purposes. Your purpose may change with the seasons of your life. Just remember to walk in the path of your purpose, not someone else’s.

*The scriptures above were handed out for the keynote in card form. If you like, print them off as reminders!

 

 

Enjoying Your Life is a Full Time Job

Ever feel as if you finally have two of your thousand ducks in a row and you rejoice?

Finally! You have accomplished something! Got something right and you enjoy it!

Or look at someone else’s life and think, man they have it all.

Maybe their kids are older and you think, they have it easy now (not true) or they just have a nicer house or more money than you.

Guess what. None of the above ensures joy. None of the riches or ages or stages of kids or nicer houses guarantee joy.

These last six months have thrown me (and my family) some real doozies. I won’t go into all of the details because some of the stories aren’t mine to tell. But think car accidents. Multiple. Health Issues. Loss of housing. Loss of job. Red and blue flashing lights in the driveway. Yep. You can just imagine it all.

All of these circumstances have made me want to crawl into bed and shut down. I won’t.  Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the armor of God and there is that little phrase ‘do all the crisis demands and stand firm’. Not crumple in a heap on the floor. Durn.

Often we think that as soon as this age and stage passes, we can be joyful.

After this crisis is over, I can enjoy my life.

This isn’t the best approach.

Jesus said:

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].- John 10:10

Enjoying your life is a full time job.png

Jesus came so that we might enjoy our life. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived said that there was nothing better than for us to ‘rejoice and do good’.

Joy is something we must fight for. Enjoying our lives is a full time job. Maybe you can’t enjoy everything, but you can enjoy something.

Here’s some things from my joy list:

  • laughing at some of the ways toddlers say words  (with Amerey and Carly, caught on film and locked in the memory vault).
  • walking with a friend (Lori) even when I walk her legs off and talk her ears off
  • reading an old classic The Robe, because I can even if it is just a few pages before I fall asleep.
  • making lists of outside jobs to do because it’s spring! (Clean out the sandbox).

What’s on your joy list? How are you fighting for joy?

When Resolutions Fail

It’s only ten days into the new year and we planners, those of us who resolve to do all sorts of good things may already be feeling a bit off. I’m a planner. I make goals and lists and I am pretty good at following through. But, that’s not what I want to talk about. Resolution makers (like me) often get a false sense of reality, as if we can control the circumstances just because we wrote something in our planner or tacked a sticky note on the wall. We can’t.

I’m a firm believer in making plans. We can’t be a vague, thoughtless or foolish with our time. But, sometimes our plans don’t work out because of things out of our control. How we respond to things we can’t control matter. Honestly, my track record with reactions isn’t that great. I tend to respond with anxiety and questions. I doubt my call to do whatever it is. Guess what, that’s not a God honoring reaction. God said we would have trials and troubles. Resistance and calamity don’t negate your call. They solidify it. It’s your proof of purchase. It’s your reminder that someone doesn’t want you to complete the mission. That someone is not Jesus or your friend or husband. Jesus said to take heart ❤️, He has overcome the world!Every worthy endeavor has obstacles

Whether your resolution was to be a more organized Mom, workout four times a week or finish a manuscript for a book, there are going to be circumstances that come against you. Some of the circumstances may be God-driven and ordained, such as caring for a sick child or helping a friend or relative. In those instances, we play the people are more important than things card. When we see interruptions as a sign that we shouldn’t pursue fulfilling our resolutions, we’re reading the signs wrong.

Resistance is a sign that we are doing things right. When lifting weights or working out, we count on resistance to make us stronger. Without resistance, we’re just beating the air and not getting any results. The same is true with our resolutions, our God-sized dreams, our desire to make positive changes in our lives. We encounter resistance and it makes us stronger, if we let it, if we don’t just drop the ball and give up.

Instead of letting circumstances deter us, let them ensure us.  Let us see them as a sign that we are on the right path. Every worthy endeavor has obstacles. If your resolve is to be organized in your homeschooling and home and you end up taking your sister’s kids while one of her’s is in the hospital (true story), then don’t beat yourself up because your house is a wreck. Don’t say,  “I quit”. Say, “That was a God-opportunity to do the right thing.” Rest. Recover and start again.

The problem is when we make the resolutions the god and not a desired goal. We can’t control the universe. What we can do is persevere and continue to sow good seeds even when circumstances send a storm our way.

What circumstances have blown your way?

While you’re here, make sure you check out The Whole House Podcast,  Episode 2 is live- Human Trafficking Awareness Day. If you haven’t listened yet, start with our Introductions. Are you ready?

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When the Photo Shoot (and life) are not Perfect, There is Still Joy!

Ever browse through social media for a few minutes and walk away feeling depleted? Less than perfect? As if everyone is having a great time? Your life doesn’t measure up?

When I scroll through social media posts, I sometimes get infected with the “woe is me” bug. Or I physically feel as if all the anger and unrest settles on my shoulders. I put the phone down and burdened.  How about you?

The Whole House had a photo shoot a few weeks ago. Here’s what you see on our cover and on social media posts:

untitled-17Yep, we’re pretty excited about a book release, 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas, An Advent Devotional for Adoptive/Foster Parents coming out November 1! Also, we are releasing The Whole House Podcast on January 1rst!

Looks at cool and perfect-ish, right?

Here’s a behind the scenes look at what really happened…..

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The photo shoot wasn’t all it seemed on social media. The kids took the frame, the photographer and finally, needed to go in for a snack and nap. The grown-ups wanted a nap too, but we persevered and after getting kiddos to bed (Judah fell asleep sitting up), we recorded a podcast. We recorded with a Mic in the middle of a round table in Amerey’s kitchen, surrounded by lunch and snack remains. We don’t have a professional studio or a picture perfect life.

How do you find joy in an imperfect life?

When the kids don’t cooperate with your plans?

When you have more chores and meltdowns than hours in the day?

When it seems as if everyone else has it all together and you’re not sure what it is?

We long to belong. We yearn for acceptance. What we end up with when we pursue the pseudo perfect life is shame. Shame is a painful emotion that tells us we have fallen short, we are not enough. When we live our lives peering through the lens of shame, we feel depressed, angry and isolated.

How do we avoid the shame based lifestyle?

We acknowledge that OUR now is enough. Where we are and who we are is enough. The circumstances and gifts God has bestowed upon us may be different than our neighbors’. That’s okay. Uniqueness is gift. Accept your now and embrace it.

Comb through the tangle of your day with an eye for joy. No one has perfect circumstances. Maybe your house is full of toddlers or teens. Maybe there is sickness in your family and you spend days sitting in a hospital. Maybe you finally got the baby you longed for and don’t know how you can physically cope with night time feedings and the constant exhaustion. The only way to be thankful is to look for things to be thankful for. Chase joy down. Write them down if you need to.

  • A cup of coffee.
  • A giggle.
  • A sunrise.
  • A backyard photo shoot.

Last, but not least, be vulnerable.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”- Brene Brown

One way to overcome shame is tell your your story. The non fiction version. Not the social media fiction version. The greatest words of empathy are, “me too!”

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!- Emily Dickinson