How God Gave Me Victory Over 9-11

September 2008

The clock was ticking.  One joyous hour had passed since my youngest son’s birth.  The process had been simpler than last time, and I was gratefully munching on delicious food.  While a nurse checked on me, Tim surprised me by asking her, “What is that dripping sound?”  The nurse replied casually, “Oh, it’s probably just something in the bathroom.” Nope.  It was me.

Suddenly I felt like an actress in a dramatic movie:

  • In one corner, my extremely concerned husband was talking with a doctor
  • Our room was suddenly filled with people, my hospital bed surrounded by worried nurses
  • The anesthesiologist (whom I had expected never to see again) was poised, ready to prepare me for surgery

Someone got down close to me and explained that I may need to have an emergency hysterectomy.  I only remember saying, “I don’t want to die.”  Praying that I would live to continue to be Tim’s wife and Bugga and Booga’s mommy, they pushed me down the hallway toward surgery.  I was lifted onto a table.  Then it all went black.

I woke up gasping for breath and shaking uncontrollably.  Tim and our pastor were standing next to me.  As the symptoms lessened, I was relieved to learn I had only needed a  D&C (a surgical procedure to clear out stubborn placenta that was causing me to hemorrhage). My uterus was in tact, but, my blood count was terribly low – less than half of normal.

That evening, when my Dad asked about what I had been through, I was startled by my sharp reply:  “I don’t want to talk about it!”  My heart had been stretched further than it ever had been before.  All I could do was think about my too-close-for-comfort brush with death and thank God for getting me through.

Hoping that the worst was behind me, I looked forward to going home and starting our new life with two boys.  But, my blood count was simply too low.  Thus, a miserable blood transfusion followed two days later.  They couldn’t find a vein.  I could think of a million places I’d rather be at that moment.  God sent a gentle nurse to pray with me. “I don’t like needles!” I tearfully admitted my dread. She sympathetically held my hand and sadly whispered, “I don’t either.” They tried again and again … finally, mercifully, a willing tunnel accepted the gift of life, and soon we were on our way home.

For months I struggled with the fear of dying.  Sure, I knew that whenever it was my time to go, I would go to be with God.  But, this solid fact surprisingly didn’t prevent the panic attacks I was experiencing.  It didn’t help that my weakened state was the ideal resort for every germ within a hundred miles.  I was sick more than I was well, and I kept getting weaker.  I felt like a helpless, hopeless, useless woman.  A few sweet friends from church and my sister came to help us. They were such an encouragement!  Sadly, I hardly remember having the energy to enjoy my babies.
Curiously, as the title of this post suggests, my fear manifested itself primarily in an obsession about September 11, 2001.  Every day I would have day-mares, reliving the horrors I had seen on television and heard on the radio.  It felt like I was chained in front of a video stuck on replay.  This wasn’t something on my to-do list: Think morbid thoughts.  
Truth be told, I was stuck and didn’t know how to get out.  To exacerbate my rut even further, it seemed like every time I looked at a clock it said 9:11.  Even though I prayed, went to church, and read my Bible, I felt like I was losing touch with reality.

A medical doctor referred me to a local Christian counselor.  She was a good listener, kind, and pointed me to God’s sovereignty.  Practically she suggested that whenever my thoughts started capsizing, I should immediately stop whatever I’m doing and walk into another room, completely changing my activity.  This diversion helped, but I needed something more powerful.  I desperately sought the strength of my Counselor. 

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

I cried out to God and asked Him to pull me out of this pit of death.  I thought often of Psalm 40 and waited for Him to pull me out of the miry clay and set my feet on a rock and establish my goings.  I sensed that God wanted me to be specific in my prayers, so I asked Him to turn my head clock-ward at eleven minutes after anything except nine: 2:11, 5:11, 7:11.  And I promised Him that every time I would see an “11” I would say, out loud, “God is faithful! Thank You, God!” 

Almost immediately, I kid you not, from that time forward nearly every time I looked at a clock I was rewarded with seeing 2:11, 5:11, 7:11, 12:11, and so forth.  For years I had known God’s power through His word and His work in my life.  But with this recent gift, I knew the power of God in a very personal way, and I could see the tender warmth of the Son burning off the fog of fear.  My toxic thoughts changed to praise and I poured out, “God is faithful! Thank You, God!”  It was particularly delightful when He would cause me to look up and see 11:11 – double duty praise and thankfulness!! 

After about a year, my health improved and I regained strength.  God had never left my side, and He became dearer than ever before.

With Joshua (2 weeks old) at Pikes Peak State Park

Why do I share this with you?  It is so tiny compared to what others have suffered due to the events of 9-11.  I do not pretend to compare my situation with others.  Nevertheless, I too, in a small way, suffered part of the consequences of sin and death in this world.  It was a dark time in my life.  God let me stay there, I believe, long enough to always remember what it felt like.  Then, when His timing was right, God pierced through my shadows with His marvelous light.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” 

Psalm 27:1-5

Whatever it is – from your past or in your present, it isn’t too big for God.  He can work in seemingly small ways to remind us of His huge faithfulness. Have you asked Him to show you His light?

If you have time, here is an amazing account of a Bible recovered after 9-11-01. 

Joyfully His,

P.S.  This morning (9-11-14) I looked to see what time it was, and the clock read 11:11 – “God is still faithful, thank You, God … God is still faithful, thank You God.”


In Her Shoes – Advocating for the Beauty of Life

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.”
Isaiah 40:11 ESV
It is my privilege to introduce you to my dear college friend Melinda, who has been strategically placed by God on the front line as an advocate for the gift of life.  I have learned much from her and know you will greatly benefit by reading her testimony.
I must say, I’ve had more trouble with arranging this article than I have with any other “In Her Shoes” thus far … no surprise that Satan would do anything he can to stop God’s mission of life. Thank you to those who have prayed this through!  Nothing will make the spacing below behave, but I am not going to allow imperfection to keep this from going out!
Will you pray with me about how God might want to use us in greater ways to advocate for life in our homes, our churches, and our communities?  Thank you, Melinda!

Of all the things I thought I was preparing for during my college years, my current job isn’t one of them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would have told you fifteen years ago that I didn’t have any expectation of working outside our home, let alone being the director of anything.
Yet that is what God had in store. Just over five years ago, only two years after we’d moved to Colorado where my husband had been called to pastor a small church, someone I knew slightly asked if I would be interested in joining the board of our local pregnancy resource center. PRCs (as the abbreviation goes) are a Christian outreach to abortion-vulnerable women, seeking to equip them with hope and truth that will encourage them to choose life. Often, PRCs also provide post-abortion counseling, parenting classes, and material resources for parents.
A board member? I’d never done that and, with four young children at home, didn’t believe I’d have the time. We only knew a little about the local pregnancy center and weren’t encouraged by what we knew. The ministry was struggling, and most churches in our town weren’t involved in its support or staffing. A few weeks later, the same person told me that the board had decided to hire a new director and asked if I’d be interested in that position. If I didn’t have time to commit two hours per month as a board member, I certainly wouldn’t be able to be the director of the entire ministry. But we knew the pregnancy center was struggling, and we prayed that God would glorify Himself by turning it around.
A month later, another local pastor who served on the board approached my husband. The other pastor’s request surprised him (and me, when he told me). Our friend said, “We’ve been looking and praying for a new director for several weeks, but every time we’ve asked for a referral or recommendation, your wife’s name is the only name that comes up. We know she doesn’t want a full-time job, but we don’t know what else to do other than ask you to pray about it.”
By the time my husband arrived home, he encouraged me to take the job. We both believed that the glory of God was at stake, not only because of the abortion issue in our community, but also in the reputation of this ministry in our town. We believed that the ministry should be one that Bible-believing churches and faithful believers could support with eagerness because of what God was doing.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isaiah 1:17 ESV

So began a roller coaster that I could not have imagined when I was hired. If I had known the work God was calling me to do, I would have affirmed that I was in fact NOT qualified to do it and would certainly have turned down the position. Instead, God has equipped and provided while we went through:
  1. A medical conversion (we now have an ultrasound machine and a nurse on staff)
  2. Purchased an office
  3. Hired four other staff members
  4. Provided counseling and support to six clients who made adoption plans
  5. Faced a budget that’s more than 10 times what it was when I was hired
  6. Completed a rebranding process to launch a new name, new logo and new website
  7. Started teaching classes on sexual integrity at the public middle school
  8. Launched a post-abortion support group and Bible study 
  9. Dealt with a myriad of other experiences that have been life-changing
Here is a professional photo of a baby with his mom (our client).
A quote from her that I love was what she said in an e-mail to us after he was born:
“I never knew how much I was going to love being a mom,
and I never would have known if you hadn’t been there.” – Melinda
In the meantime, here are some of the things that God has taught me about this aspect of our society and our Christian lives that we often call the “pro-life” movement: 
    • Women who are considering or have chosen abortions come from every walk of life, every age group, every spiritual
      background, and are both married and single. Statistically, one in four American women has had an abortion, and those statistics are as true in our churches as they are in our towns.
    • Abortion decisions are fueled by a paralyzing fear and incomprehensible pressures, pressures that are very real to the men
      and women facing the unintended pregnancy. The illustration that best describes their realities is that of an animal caught in a trap that would rather chew off its own foot than stay in the trap. I fear that in our Christian circles, we often trivialize the situation that so many of our neighbors are in, condemning their choices as an “easy way out” or a “selfish decision” without taking the time to walk in their shoes and to grieve for the fears that speak so loudly in their ears that they can’t hear anything else.
    • We need to speak with compassion about abortion in our churches. Many women in evangelical churches will never seek healing
      from a past abortion decision because the least safe, most dangerous place to acknowledge an abortion is in their churches. It is the one secret that MUST be hidden at all costs, even if keeping it hidden means shutting themselves off from the healing, restoration and forgiveness they need so desperately.
    • Our teenagers need parents, mentors, and relatives to have honest, gracious conversations with them about sex. I’ve had
      many teen clients in my office who grew up going to church with their families. But when their sexual choices resulted in the possibility of an unintended pregnancy, their first thought was for her to get an abortion because above all, they could not possibly let their parents know what had happened.
    • Our teenagers also need to know that we (parents, mentors, teachers) love them unconditionally. That we believe God can
      and will give them grace to make wise, healthy decisions to honor God in their relationships but that if they yield to temptation and end up in a position they didn’t expect to be in, our hearts, ears and arms are always open to them. That there is nothing they can do that will disappoint us so badly that we will abandon them or reject them or publicly shame and humiliate them.
    • Followers of Jesus everywhere need to be involved in advocating publicly for the beauty of life, both the life of the
      unborn and the lives of their parents. Encouraging pregnant women to choose life is an empty rhetoric if we’re not prepared to back up our words with compassion toward single moms, church cultures that are safe for pregnant teenagers and single parents, financial support and tangible resources for those who choose life, and spiritual discipleship for those whose struggles are
      evident. Our ministry at Selah is what I call a “holistic” ministry. Yes, our mission is “to provide tangible resources in a compassionate environment through the love of Jesus, making abortion unnecessary.” But we are not only interested in the life of the unborn. We are committed to investing in every part of the parents’ lives as well—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. At every opportunity, we share the Gospel. The needs are deep and exceed the point of decision about whether or not to have an abortion. Yes, we must come
      alongside the men and women facing pregnancy decisions to advocate for life, but then we have to keep walking with them as their choices unfold.
    • Prayer is powerful. Nothing I do has a greater impact on our clients, our community, our budget, and our staff. I have seen
      miraculous answers to prayer in these last five years, exceeding anything I’ve seen God do before.
    • Spiritual warfare is real. I have never in my life encountered the kind of spiritual battles that I’ve encountered as
      director of a pregnancy resource center. I believe the devil is active in every abortion decision; the decision to choose death is uniquely fueled by the devil’s influence, and to stand on the front lines between life and death is to stand in opposition to his lies and his power. I have felt spiritual oppression in ways I have never experienced before. We have learned to begin every day in
      prayer, asking for God’s protection. Nothing you can do will bless a local pregnancy resource center more than to pray faithfully for its staff, volunteers, and board members.
    • God cares about the unborn. I believe this ministry is close to his heart and has a unique place in his purposes. He also
      cares about the parents of the unborn, and we have a unique, beautiful opportunity to be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus to men and women who are vulnerable, fearful, and prey to an enemy who is circling, seeking for an opening to destroy and devour.
      I am amazed that God has given me this ministry, entrusting this treasure to a broken vessel.  He’s displayed His power and His glory in ways which have not only transformed this ministry, but have also transformed lives (we’ve seen several clients come to
      faith in Christ, along with the dozens who have chosen life for their babies).  The work He’s done in staff, volunteers, and
      donors has been beautiful; I count the opportunity to disciple other believers
      as one of the primary responsibilities I have as CEO of Selah.

If you have never been involved in a pregnancy resource center, I encourage you to find out if there’s one in your community (see resources below).  Call the director and ask for a tour.  Find out how you can pray and encourage the staff.

If you’ve had an abortion in your past, let me say that I’m so deeply, incredibly sorry for the experience you’ve been through.  I would encourage you to call a local pregnancy center and find out if they offer a post-abortion Bible study. If they don’t, send me an e-mail:

If you’re involved in a pregnancy center ministry already, thank you.  What you are doing reflects the heart of God, Who cares about the vulnerable and calls His people to stand up in defense of the oppressed.  To advocate for life is to fulfill His mission.

To find out more about Melinda’s ministry:


“Give justice to <sup class=”crossreference” value=”(B)”>the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” Psalm 82:3 ESV
Helpful Resources:

    • Free resources, including a post-abortion Bible study, to help women and families who have been impacted by abortion: Surrendering the Secret

    • To find a local pregnancy center in your area: Pregnancy Decision Line (Melinda also recommends looking in your local phone book under “abortion alternatives” or “pregnancy care.”)

How to Counsel From the Bible – with Elyse Fitzpatrick

Last weekend I attended the “Revive Our Hearts – Women Helping Women Conference” in Schaumburg, Illinois.  On Saturday morning I was refreshed and inspired by Elyse Fitzpatrick in her workshop: How to Counsel From the Bible.  This is my first time to hear Elyse in person.  I own a few of her books, have heard her highly recommended, and I was greatly impacted by her Bible teaching at the conference.

Here is a brief introduction: Elyse has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling, is a retreat and conference speaker, and has authored sixteen books.  You can find out much more about her at her website:


Here is what stood out to me from what she said:

1.) We need to get away from the professional model (meet with me for 45 minutes and I’ll solve all your problems).  We do not have all the answers.  We do life together – as God brings situations into our lives, with God’s grace and help we help each other.

2.) Do you believe God’s Word is inerrant?  Sufficient?  God’s Word is both!  We tend to think we need the Bible plus something else.

3.) The Bible is imminently practical because it is what God wants us to know and portrays people as they really are (examples like Sarah and David teach us that God will use us in spite of our weaknesses in ways we can’t even imagine).  The Bible was written for very broken people being trained to help very broken people.

4.) WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) – Don’t tell me what Jesus would do until I have faith in what He has already done (death & resurrection).  “Every conversation where Jesus Christ is not mentioned is pointless.” – Calvin  … Be intentional in mentioning His name, in the context of what He has accomplished for us at Calvary and His triumph over sin and death.

5.) Unbelief is at the core of every sin: you feel that you are robbed of what you think you deserve, or He’s unable or uncaring (in our “you deserve a break today” society, this is a constant barrage of anti-God propaganda.  “If God really loved me I would have _______.”

6.) “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  She needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is only through God’s Word that her faith will be built.  Only God can give her faith to believe!

7.) When you counsel from Scripture, it’s not all on you – this is God speaking, God convicting, God changing her.  Bring the truth to her and pray for God to work.

8.) Make your own chain reference in your Bible.  Do topical studies on anger, sadness, depression, strongholds, spiritual battle, the tongue … and write by the first verse a connection to the second and so on, to help you when you are counseling people.

9.) It’s okay to say, “I don’t know the answer, but I will prayerfully research and get back to you in 3-4 days.”

10.) Pray and ask God to lead you.


Specific Struggles


  • God transforms angry sinners.  Example: Paul …

“And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” Acts 26:11

“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” I Thessalonians 2:7

  • We all want to be God – we want our way in our timing.  The problems come in when we want _______ more than holiness, more than Christ.
  • Why do people fight?  Because they want _______ right now.  It’s not because Mom and Dad didn’t lead the family in devotions every night when you were a kid.
  • You will never be at rest until you find rest in God.
  • Also, see this key chapter addressing anger: James 4.


  • God transforms those who are fearful:  Example, Timothy …

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.” I Corinthians 16:10

  • Also, see Hebrews 13.
  • Heart of the issue: a lack of awareness of God’s love …

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” I John 4:18

  • Do you know you are loved by God, deep in your heart?  REALLY loved?  You are welcomed by God!  And everything that comes to me, comes to me through the nail scarred hands, for my good and His glory.  Not punitive.  Suffering is always meant redemptively.  God says, this is good for your soul.
  • He is imminent – at hand.  Philippians 4:5-6 – preach the truth to yourself!  Pray in confidence because He’s right here.  If you had Jesus in your car, would you be worried about an accident?  Seriously?



  • God transforms the overindulgent.  Example, the Corinthians …

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  I Corinthians 6:9-11

  • How would your life change if you KNEW you were loved?  righteous?  Because of Christ I am righteous right now.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

  • We need not fear the future – we are being guarded, as is our inheritance through Christ.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Peter 1:5

  • How do I know I will be cared for?  Look at the cross of Jesus Christ.



I’ve not had the time to personally looked through every resource listed below.  Because these were recommended by Elyse, and she entirely emphasizes God’s Word in counseling (nouthetic counseling, as described in detail here), I have confidence in sharing these as potential resources.  As always, the Bible is our standard. Books

  • Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling: Changing Lives with God’s Changeless Truth by James MacDonald, Bob Kellemen and Stephen Viars
  • Counsel From the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christby Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson
  • Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People In Need of Change, Helping People In Need of Change by Paul David Tripp
  • Resources for Changing Lives – 27 booklets, about $1 each – addressing common issues biblically.  You can find them
  • Tim Lane books …
  • Women Counseling Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick
  • Women Helping Women: a Biblical Guide to the Major Issues Women Face by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Carol Cornish


Thank you for reading this article!  If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.  Praying that God will use something here to help you as you walk with God in your mission for Him.  Love, Sara